The Nebulous Boundary Between Science Fiction and Science Fact

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One of the biggest challenges for science fiction authors is keeping up with the technology. For those of you who have read my books, specifically the 2nd one in the series (“A Dark of Endless Days”) and beyond, you’ll remember Laren’s c-com, short for cerebral companion. This clever little device, essentially a smart phone on steroids, linked directly to his brain via psi link so he could access virtually any information in the Universe and likewise download his own thoughts. It could do just about anything, but there was one caveat, i.e., he had to ask it to do what he wanted. It wouldn’t volunteer information, as he discovered in “Refractions of Frozen Time.” And that’s enough of that before I get into spoiler territory.

As “high tech” as the c-com is, it’s nonetheless a little too easy to imagine such a device in the real world. I just saw an article in R&D Magazine (http://www.rdmag.com/news/2015/04/phone-ultimate-macro-feature) that reported there is now a device that can turn any smart phone into a “DNA-scanning fluorescent microscope.”

Seriously?

Holy cow, I want one!

Not!

No, that’s not exactly on my Amazon wish list, but I’m sure for geneticists and CSI types it would be.

Clearly science and engineering is well on its way toward developing a c-com, taking it from science fiction to science fact. When I first started writing sci-fi my fictitious world had the internet, the equivalent of Craig’s List as well as a currency comparable to Bitcoin, all before their time. It’s been said that whatever man can perceive he can achieve and there’s no doubt that science fiction has been the inspiration for several of the technological marvels you see today. Undoubtedly you’ve seen that picture circulating on Facebook of an old Radio Shack advertisement from twenty or so years back hawking the electronics of the time. It included a television, radio, cameras (both still and video), tape recorder, stereo, a desktop computer, and of course, telephones, with the caption that everything on that entire page had been replaced by the smart phone.

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Charles Holland Duell (shown above), Commissioner of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office from 1898 to 1901, supposedly once said, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” This has been debunked but what he did say was, “In my opinion, all previous advances in the various lines of invention will appear totally insignificant when compared with those which the present century will witness. I almost wish that I might live my life over again to see the wonders which are at the threshold.” (Thank you, Wikipedia.)

That was in 1902. He died in 1920. What do you think he would say about what’s out there today?

Case in point, my mother was born in 1906, the time when the Wright brothers were developing their flying machine into the first fixed-wing aircraft. She lived long enough to not only see men walk on the Moon but her daughter (yours truly) eventually work for NASA. She marveled at the internet and I shudder to think what her final years in a rest home would have been like without cable television. And that was just the 20th century. What can we expect in the 21st? What will top 3D printers?

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You’ve probably heard of Moore’s Law which hypothesizes that technology doubles every two years. This statement originated back in 1965 with Gordon E. Moore, co-founder of Intel and Fairchild Semiconductor, whose original statement related to the complexity of integrated circuits but has applied remarkably well to technology in general which, of course, is largely driven by just that. The miniaturization of devices fits in there as well. This “law” has proven to be accurate enough that tech companies have used it for planning purposes.

Science fiction writers, including myself, would do well to bear that in mind. Technology doubles every two years! It can easily take longer than that to write a book! That’s an exponential rate that’s hard to grasp. We’re all quite aware of the present but have often forgotten much of the past. Can you remember what it was like before cell phones or the internet? How about computers? Were you even born yet???

Trying to imagine what will come next taxes your imagination, yet as sci-fi writers that’s our job, to not only keep up but surpass it! That, my friend, is easier said than done. And I certainly don’t mean to throw stones at my fellow writers, but when I read science fiction I thoroughly enjoy noting how different authors extrapolate technology to the future, especially the near-future, such as another fifty years. Gasoline fueled cars? Paper? Really? Ya think? When technology doubles every two years? I particularly enjoy reading about paper documents on planets equipped with interstellar vehicles. Uh huh. Right. I’m as guilty as anyone, hard as I may try. In my novels I had security devices I called “palm locks” to gain entry to a room. Science fiction is now science fact.

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But there’s one area that science fiction writers can always pursue and that’s where technology will take us. Will it eventually all come crashing down? Then what? Are we really better off with our smart phones than we were without them? Or on a path to humanity’s demise? After all, there are those who use smart phones to trigger bombs and incendiary devices. Furthermore, a massive solar flare could destroy the power grid and all those cell towers. Then what? What if our addiction to electronics was forced into cold-turkey withdrawal?

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No wonder dystopian stories are so popular these days. Such scenarios are easier to imagine. Which is scary as hell.

[Illustrations credit 123RF Stock Photos]

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Star Trails Tetralogy Character Interview: Win Sendori

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Win Sendori first appears in “A Dark of Endless Days” and proceeds to become a major player from that point on.  He’s one of those characters that authors love.  He showed up on the scene as what I expected to be a minor character but he had such a strong personality from the git-go that he quickly worked his way into the story and never left.  When I was putting together my “Dream Cast” I found the picture you see at the top but there was no reference to who it is.  Anyone who can tell me with sufficient proof what his name is will get a free ecopy of the book of your choice!  If you want to see him in action, you can grab a copy of “A Psilent Place Below” for only $0.99 USD until April 7, 2015 using coupon code KR89P at Smashwords using this link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/511348 

You can find out more about the series, book trailers, and so forth at http://www.StarTrailsSaga.com.  That said, let’s get on with the interview!

Q: What was your first impression of the Brightstars when they walked into the Supply Depot (SD) where you worked as a clerk?

WS: It was like being hit by a lightning bolt. I felt I’d either known them before or that they’d be important to my life in some way. That first time I looked Laren in the eye I knew we were bonded in some way. I sensed his intelligence and importance immediately and that we’d do something big together. Of course much later, when I discovered we were both in the Ledorian Order, it made even more sense. Dirck immediately felt like an old friend. I could see he felt a little lost and having been there myself I could empathize.

Q: You seem to know a little about just about everything, perhaps what is referred to on Earth as “a jack of all trades and a master of none.”   How did you learn so much more about life than most people your age?

WS: Going through the Academy on Mira III helped me develop a good memory. If I read something once, it sticks. When I’d get bored, which was a lot, I’d pick a subject at random and learn all I could about it. It was almost weird how often those things would eventually be something that got me out of a bad situation. I’m also good at learning vicariously from other people’s experiences, especially their mistakes. When I’d watch Concurrency Reviews, which we call CRs and you Earthlings call “the news,” I’d always put myself into the situation and think about what I would have done that would’ve resulted in a different outcome. When people got out of line on Mira III they always got caught and then the Directorate made an example out of ’em. I would always ponder why they got caught and how they could ‘ve gotten away with it, whatever it was. That fault tree exercise Dirck and I went through for the prison rescue was a natural process for me. I just never knew it had a name.

Q: Were you fully aware of how much trouble you would have been in if you’d gotten caught helping the Brightstars?

WS: [Expletive deleted.] Yeah. I totally knew. When I worked for that creep at the Territorial Tower I saw what those people with even a little political clout could do. I not only saw it but it was my job to enter it into the records, which would set supposedly appropriate consequences in motion, deserved or not. At first I thought these people had done something horrible and deserved it. Until I knew one of them personally and was fully aware the charges were fake. That did it. I got so reeked it’s a good thing my boss was on TDY to some other planet because I know I would have done something stupid like demand an explanation. After I calmed down and thought it through, I understood I could do more to undermine it by keeping quiet. He’d check on my work from time to time, though, seeing if the person he’d targeted had been arrested or whatever, so I had to put the stuff in there like he said. When the billet opened for that position at the SD I knew that was a place I could make a difference. I knew I’d be doing a whole lot more than handing out plumbing supplies. But to answer your question, while I knew what would happen if I got caught, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be, that I knew enough to operate covertly and get away with it. I saw it as an opportunity to make a difference, not a risk.

Q: What about that wild ride through Guipure Canyon? Any comments on that?

WS: [Laughs] I’ve never told Dirck, but there were a few moments I doubted we’d survive. But that’s one thing about being Ledorian, you’re not afraid to die. Death is just a threshold to another plane of existence. If Dirck had died it would have been really bad, though, leaving his mother and brother on their own with his father an eppy in the Epsilon lockup. And that made me feel that somehow we’d be okay. Sometimes you get in a situation that’s so bad it has to be fate and all you can do is hope you didn’t make a huge mistake. It was really the turning point for Dirck. He started to get it after that and really leave Mira III and all its culture-based compliance crap behind. I think it takes looking death square in the eye before you really understand life.

Q: So now that things have settled down, at least on Cyraria, what are your plans? Find a nice girl and settle down? Or more adventures?

WS: [Smiles.] I don’t know, maybe both. To be honest, I’m getting a little bored. Things are too quiet. And while things have settled down here for a while, I don’t think it’ll last more than a cycle or two. There’s still a lot of crap going on out there galactically. They’ll be back, especially now that this place is turning into a halfway decent planet. Laren promised Sharra he’d stick around, at least ’til Deven’s raised, but he’s pushing for me and Dirck to go to Esheron and really get into this Order thing. And I gotta tell ya, I’d love to meet that gal, Antara, who stood up to Spoigan. That’s my kind of woman. So let’s just say only time will tell.

Final Book in Science Fiction Series Due March 4

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

This hard sci-fi series delivers a bonus, a palatable taste of real science. Its physicist author, who has over 20 years NASA experience, demonstrates that science and engineering are not only exciting but essential to maintain a viable lifestyle.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00004]Author, Marcha Fox, credits science fiction with inspiring her to obtain a physics degree and pursue a career at NASA, something she hopes to do for today’s readers. The Star Trails Tetralogy series was written to that end, to encourage youth in the junior and senior high school range to pursue studies in space exploration, math, engineering and science.

The previous three novels in this hard science fiction adventure series have received rave reviews with this one following in their footsteps with pre-release praise from authors such as Ceri London, Elle Klass and John Reinhard Dizon.

The fourth and final volume entitled “Refractions of Frozen Time,” will be officially released March 4, 2015 via Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00RWKN6MA) and Smashwords (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/512160).

A stickler for detail, Fox’s pet peeve remains scientific inaccuracies in media such as movies which depict noisy explosions in outerspace.

“Years ago I saw the movie ‘Armageddon’ with a friend who was in the oil business. Between the two of us we ripped it apart. My daughter told us to lighten up, it was only a movie, but all I could think of was that young viewers would take it as fact and how hard would it be for the producers to be more accurate? One of the reasons I got a bachelor’s degree in physics was so my stories would be based on fact and teach correct scientific principles that wouldn’t have to be unlearned later.”

The series chronicles a family who loses everything on one planet and is forced into survival mode on another amid hostile weather extremes and political forces. The stories incorporate the excitement of space travel and exploration with family dynamics, self-sufficiency and dealing with difficult circumstances, themes not unlike what some families face today in an unstable economy and topsy-turvy environment.

Previous books in the series entitled “Beyond the Hidden Sky,” “A Dark of Endless Days,” and “A Psilent Place Below” as well as new release, “Refractions of Frozen Time,” can be found in electronic and print copy format through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and most online retailers. For wholesale or bulk orders as well as regarding school, library and quantity discounts, contact the publisher at info@kallioperisingpress.com. Visit the series website www.StarTrailsSaga.com for additional information about the books, their setting, a glossary of terms and definitions, and a section for parents and educators who wish to use the books as a means to launch scientific discussions.

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Amazon Link to STAR TRAILS TETRALOGY (All books):

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=star+trails+tetralogy

Barnes & Noble Link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/star-trails-tetralogy?store=allproducts&keyword=star+trails+tetralogy

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Marcha-Fox/e/B0074RV16O/

Author Blog Page: https://marcha2014.wordpress.com/

Series Website: http://www.StarTrailsSaga.com

KEYWORDS

Science Fiction, YA Sci-fi, Star Trails Tetralogy, Marcha Fox, educational sci-fi, sci-fi series, Brightstar Saga

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Contact:

Kalliope Rising Press

P.O. Box 23

Burnet, TX 78611

512-755-2175

info@kallioperisingpress.com

Free Electronic Review copy for bloggers and reviewers available from the author:

Marcha Fox

marcha@kallioperisingpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marchafoxauthor

Release Date Countdown with Dream Cast Reveal!

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As of today only 18 days remain until “Refractions of Frozen Time” is available in ebook format! That means you still have plenty of time to read the preceding three volumes so you can fully enjoy the series conclusion. I’ve made each book as independent as possible as a self-contained story but nonetheless Star Trails is a series where each volume continues where the previous one left off. I tried to avoid cliff hanger endings that would make people crazy while they waited for the next book to come out but now that problem is less than three weeks from no longer being a problem!

Is this really the end? I’m not telling. I’m open to suggestions, though, so feel free to let me know your favorite character and whom you’d like to know more about in prequels and/or sequels. You can contact me here or through the following social media:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6481953.Marcha_A_Fox

Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marchafoxauthor

Author Website: http://www.StarTrailsSaga.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/startrailsIV

Email: marcha@kallioperisingpress.com

Speaking of characters, I had a lot of fun looking for Dream Cast actors. I was pretty happy with what I found. If you’ve been wondering what my Star Trails characters look like, here are some pretty close renditions. If you haven’t read any of the stories yet, these can help you “see” the characters when you do.

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Creena: Taylor Dooley

Dirck: Jason Behr

Laren: Josh Brolin

Sharra: Wendy Benson

Deven: Preston Bailey

Win: ?? (Didn’t have the guy’s name on the site where I found this picture but he’s 100% my character. If you know who it is please let me know so I can give him proper credit!)

Jen: Gerard Butler

Bryl: Senna Guemmour

Troy: Ben Bass

Just in case you’ve missed it, I’ve been posting a “Sneak Peek per Week ’til Release” on Bublish. These include excerpts, in some cases an entire chapter, along with some commentary. Follow me at https://www.bublish.com/author/view/3111 and you’ll be notified when they’re posted. You can also read the “Book Bubbles” for the previous stories while you’re there as well.

Stay tuned for more updates as the release date nears. There will be giveaways on Goodreads and more “flash sales” of the first three books so be sure to follow me through the above Goodreads link so you know when they’ll be held!

To show my appreciation for my fans and celebrate the great 5-star reviews that came in this week, you can pick up an ecopy of Volume II, “A Dark of Endless Days,” in the electronic format of your choice from February 13 – 16, 2015 on Smashwords for only $0.99 USD using Coupon Code CV99V at this link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/511336.

Happy reading and have a great Valentine’s Day weekend!

A Flagrant Holiday Star Trails SSP and Special Deal

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If you follow me on Facebook you’re familiar with my “SSP’s”, a throwback to my more than two decades working at NASA where we used acronyms to the point that to outsiders they sounded like another language. When I was at NASA “SSP” stood for “Space Shuttle Program.” In this case, however, it stands for “Shameless Self-Promotion.” As an Indie Author, if I don’t hawk my own books, no one else will, either. Actually, I take that back. I have lots of amazing friends who are also fellow authors and we try to help each other out however we can, somewhat like group therapy.

Anyway, to celebrate the Christmas Holidays (which also include my birthday on Christmas Day) I’ve placed “Beyond the Hidden Sky,” the first volume of my Star Trails Tetralogy, on sale for only $.99 from now through New Year’s Day.

The series is old-fashioned, classic hard science fiction. “Star Wars” or “Guardians of the Galaxy” fans are especially likely to enjoy it. “Beyond the Hidden Sky” kicks off the family saga that continues through “A Dark of Endless Days” and “A Psilent Place Below” with the fourth and final volume, “Refractions in Frozen Time,” due out soon.

Okay, okay, I know I’ve been saying “soon” for a while. I did find great consolation for missing my various release dates (by years, in some cases) from some authors who write similar length and complexity stories to mine who said they never met their first deadline, either. So I feel at least I’m in good company, tardy though I may be. Like fruit ripening on the tree, it’s not ready ‘til it’s ready to drop. Sorry. That’s just the way it is.

I’m picky and won’t put it out there until I’m reasonably satisfied it’s the best possible product. Someone told me once an author doesn’t ever finish a book, s/he abandons it, which is definitely true for me. As fellow author, Elle Klass, has pointed out, I’m a “grammar Nazi” so I definitely try to clean up my own books as much as possible. This series comprises full-length books, i.e. well over 350 pages for the print version with “Refractions…” current hitting about 427. Thus, for the series we’re talking about over 1500 pages, enough for you to get your teeth into the various characters, my particular SciFi universe and of course my “subplots galore” as noted in one of my reader’s reviews.

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As you have probably already guessed, I’m not one of those authors who kicks out another book every six weeks or so. Not even close. I started writing this story “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.” I don’t even want to admit exactly when and where that was. Let’s just say in the interim the original technology I’d depicted became science fact and I had to upgrade it considerably. I’m sure it will be (maybe already has become) obsolete at some point as well.

These stories are suitable for all ages, teen and up. However, the vocabulary and writing style is fairly sophisticated and I’ve been told by various reviewers that it doesn’t read as if written strictly for young adults. It’s not.  They are considered “clean” and are listed on the Clean Indie Reads website here: http://cleanindiereads.com/star-trails-tetralogy/

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As an Indie Author I had a lot to learn and this past year has been akin to climbing Mount Everest, in a figurative sense, at least. I was the world’s worst book blurb writer and hope I’ve gotten a little better at that at least. Here’s the latest for “Beyond the Hidden Sky.” I’d love to hear any comments or suggestions!

Moving to another planet is never easy. It’s even harder when you never arrive…

Laren Brightstar knows he’s a target since refusing to work for Augustus Troy. Accepting the chief terralogist position on the other side of the galaxy seems like the simplest solution. Getting there, however, isn’t. Not with a teenage daughter like Creena.

She’s Intelligent.

She’s a rebel.

And now she’s missing.

In deep space.

Was it an accident? Or abduction?

Either way he has to find her. Before Troy does. And somehow he knows life will never be simple again.

* * *

If you don’t want to take my word for it, here are some review excerpts so you can see that some people really like them! You can of course find these in their entirety as well as various others on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Goodreads.

PRAISE FOR “BEYOND THE HIDDEN SKY”

A joy to read. Imaginative hard sci-fi with real-life characters… Anyone who loves hard science will lap this book up. However, that and the wonderful world-building is the bonus. The start of a bigger, complex, political sci-fi thriller chock-full of mysterious baddies… and there’s a robot I swear would drive C-3PO insane.

–Ceri London, Author of “Rogue Genesis”

Subplots galore that will satisfy the appetite of the hardcore sci-fi audience.

–John Reinhard Dizon, Author of “Nightcrawler” series.

Entertaining and believable. The author takes you on a ride through the universe.

–P.S. Winn, Author of “Tunnels”

A brilliant sci-fi, young adult novel…Colorful and animated word sketches give the reader the feel of actually watching or being right in the mix of the story. I am an author as well as having taught junior high science for a number of years and think this read would be a fabulous addition to classroom libraries as well as “the hungry for sci-fi lovers” personal bookshelf.

–Elle Klass, Author of “Eilida’s Tragedy” and the “Baby Girl” series

Science theory is a large part of this story and the writer uses many scenes and situations to explore warp drive, time bumps, worm holes, and warp gullies to name a few. When explanation is needed in a book, it usually slows progression of the plot, but the author uses the science as a “key” to unlock the puzzle of the many developing situations in which Creena finds herself. It’s a great book for anyone that wants to learn more about scientific concepts while being thoroughly entertained.

–Martha Fawcett, Author of “The Permeable Web of Time” and the “Janaforma” series

This well written novel’s style plunges the reader into a new world through fabulous characterizations and sci-fi terms without interrupting the flow of the story. Reading this, I did not even realize it was considered a YA, as it is written in a mature style with realistic possibilities. As a Star Wars fan, I was deeply excited to read this book.

–Rhoda D’Ettore, Author of “Newborn Nazi”

Begins at warp speed as space travel and its theory weaves throughout the tale of a family separated by mishap and kept apart by intent.

–Noelle Harrild, School Librarian

* * *

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Here are links to the books as well as some “Book Bubbles” where you can find excerpts with commentary from yours truly.

BEYOND THE HIDDEN SKY – Star Trails Tetralogy Volume I

Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/ennmW2jTIsc

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Hidden-Star-Trails-Tetralogy-ebook/dp/B005JQNN2M/

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/beyond-the-hidden-sky-marcha-a-fox/1112260474

Create Space (Print copy): https://www.createspace.com/3911767

Book Bubble Excerpt: http://www.bublish.com/bubble/view/2861/

Book Bubble Excerpt 2: http://www.bublish.com/bubble/view/3131/

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A DARK OF ENDLESS DAYS – Star Trails Tetralogy Volume II

Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/P_2sbLHvBj8

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Endless-Days-Trails-Tetralogy-ebook/dp/B007X5V1TE/

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-dark-of-endless-days-marcha-fox/1112742769

Create Space (Print copy): https://www.createspace.com/3937890

Book Bubble Excerpt: http://www.bublish.com/bubble/view/2735

Book Bubble Excerpt 2: http://www.bublish.com/bubble/view/3228

Book Bubble Excerpt 3: http://www.bublish.com/bubble/view/3754

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A PSILENT PLACE BELOW – Star Trails Tetralogy Volume III

Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/-MTp9vUFLy0

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Psilent-Place-Below-Trails-Tetralogy-ebook/dp/B0082CW8QC/

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-psilent-place-below-marcha-fox/1120000574

Create Space (print copy): https://www.createspace.com/3991023

Book Bubble: http://www.bublish.com/bubble/view/2752

Book Bubble 2: http://www.bublish.com/bubble/view/3589/

And here’s another teaser for REFRACTIONS OF FROZEN TIME – Star Trails Tetralogy Volume IV

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Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/SRY0P4-ZBYw

If you’d like to follow me, here are links to my various other social media locations. “Likes” are particularly appreciated! If you have one you’d like me to “like” in return let me know.

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Marcha-Fox/e/B0074RV16O/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6481953.Marcha_A_Fox

Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marchafoxauthor

Author Website: http://www.StarTrailsSaga.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/startrailsIV

This Blog Page: https://marcha2014.wordpress.com/

Tumblr: http://startrailsiv.tumblr.com

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/marcha-fox/86/440/326/

Google+: google.com/+MarchaFoxAuthor

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/kallioperisingp/

Thank you for wading through this much longer-than-intended SSP. It somewhat demonstrates why my short stories turn into novels and my novels turn into a series. Sorry, just can’t help myself.

I wish everyone a most joyous holiday, whichever one you happen to be celebrating at this special time of year. Many thanks to my family, friends, fellow authors, fans and the many people who have helped and supported my efforts writing for many years. May all of us enjoy an happy and prosperous New Year!

Sneek Peek at “Refractions of Frozen Time” (Star Trails Tetralogy Volume IV) and Cover Reveal (sorta)

I recently achieved a major milestone only authors or their families can relate to, i.e., uploading the interior of “Refractions of Frozen Time” to CreateSpace; now I await arrival of a proof copy. Like an expectant mother, I will finally get to hold my “baby” in my hands. I do my final edit with a print copy because it’s so much easier to catch typos and such when you’re reading an actual book. I suppose I could do the same with my Kindle but being old-fashioned there’s something about holding a physical book that delivers that final rush of accomplishment.

When “Refractions. . .” passes muster and is properly birthed it’s more significant this time than finishing another book. This is the fourth and final volume to a story I’ve been working on far longer than I care to admit. Wrapping it up was complicated, mainly tying up loose ends of all those “sub-plots galore” referenced in one of my reviews as well as maintaining consistency with regard to details such as Erebusite eyes.

But now it’s almost over, the end in sight. I never dreamed when I started that it would grow to four full-length novels. I suppose I should have known since I’m incapable of writing a short story; they always turn into a novel. So it should be no surprise that a novel turned into a series, right? In its entirety the tetralogy comes in at approximately 1520 pages. Holy cow, that’s a lot of writing, if I do say so myself.

I don’t think that I’m unique as an author in approaching this upcoming release with mixed feelings. It feels wonderful, yet lonely; exhilarating, yet sad. These characters are like virtual family and I’m going to miss them. Of course there’s a chance there may be sequels or possibly prequels. My muse, Kalliope, has planted a few ideas, but I’m seldom at a loss for something to write about. I may even write my NASA memoirs before diving into something else. Or maybe that book about astrology, religion and science. Then again, maybe not. Time will tell.

That said, let’s get down to business.

Those of you who have visited me just about anywhere on the web know why this is a “Cover Reveal—sorta.” My awesome artist, Steven James Catizone, finished up my covers earlier this year and provided the 3-D shot of all four books which I have posted somewhat generously in cyberspace. At the time I was naïve and didn’t realize that a “Cover Reveal” was a big part of the book promotion process. Oh, well, my bad. So here it is officially. You’ll be seeing a lot more of it in the weeks to come.

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If you’ve already read the first three volumes which include “Beyond the Hidden Sky;” “A Dark of Endless Days;” and “A Psilent Place Below” you are probably wondering how this saga is going to end. To be quite honest, I often wondered myself. And of course I’m not going to tell you. Muuhahahahaha! But I will include an excerpt as a teaser.

If you’ve at least read “Psilent” you have the context for this scene which picks up with Laren Brightstar on his way to Bezarna, a blackhole which serves as a prison planet to which he’s been exiled. He and a handful of others are on a space vehicle headed in that direction. (If you haven’t gotten to that point yet in the series, then what are you waiting for? You have plenty of time to read the other three books and come up to speed by the time this one is ready to go. Book links follow the excerpt.)

Excerpt from “Refractions of Frozen Time”

The Bezarna Express

Laren slumped back in his seat, staring blankly at the seamless curvature of the passenger compartment which was fully isolated from the rest of the ship. An unpadded bench followed the perimeter except for the alcove that led to the sanicube and where they picked up their daily rations. Sleeping cylls were stowed in the domed ceiling above, destowing at sleepzone onset. The ship was much larger than it appeared from inside. For all he knew there was a full crew somewhere above. He was reasonably familiar with RA-681s, like Igni’s, which were originally designed by the HIO for exploration, not warfare, and lacked weapon systems.

This one’s interior had been drastically refitted to suit its macabre mission, the area they occupied originally the cargo hold, supplies and replacement parts kept in a similar space on the starboard side. Whoever had designed it had been an obvious master at psychology as well as engineering. Six of his fellow passengers remained, three already resorting to their captor’s supposedly humane alternative to commit suicide via the airlock. If all prisoners opted for a fate that was known versus one that wasn’t then a perfectly good space vehicle would go to waste.

He straightened as a new thought chain developed. No doubt they were being watched, even with escape seemingly impossible. A successful escape you survived, he thought grimly, or it was pointless. Knowing the likes of Spoigan, Troy and Argo they probably tuned in on their situation using tachyonic video on a regular basis for entertainment purposes. They could even use such transmissions to scare others into submission, seeing those who’d been convicted hopelessly confined then witness how they dealt with their imminent demise. Undoubtedly witnessing someone choose the airlock rather than never-ending yet meaningless life on a blackhole made for good INTEGRATOR motivational material.

So what if everyone resorted to that? What if they had an empty spacecraft worth nearly as much as a small battleship on a heading toward Bezarna? Would they kiss it goodbye or bring it back?

He’d been around long enough to know that finances were seldom a driver for a dictatorship. Nonetheless, the quality of the vehicle made more sense if it was retrievable. And if that was the case, if he could fool them into thinking everyone had checked out, preferring to explode their earthly remains in deep space rather than face an unknown and possibly worse fate, maybe there was roundtrip possibility after all.

His eyes met those of fellow Clique member, Jirhod Rhodus, seated on the opposite side. Rhodus was quite a bit older than he was, perhaps even old enough to be his father, his once-blond hair interrupted with streaks of grey surrounding rounded features set with penetrating ice-blue eyes. A massive man, built more like an Erebusite than a typical human, he’d lasted as long as he had because no one wanted to mess with him. His demise had come when he’d insisted on an audit and recount from the election that brought INTEGRATION to Pi, one of only two remaining Neutral regions. As Deputy Territorial General he’d been vocal and effective, too much so, because he’d suddenly disappeared, a former Clique mystery now solved by his presence.

“You’re thinking, Brightstar,” the man said, his voice deep and resonant. “That’s dangerous, you know.”

Laren held his gaze and smiled, trying to figure out how to communicate based on the premise they were being monitored. A moment later he extracted his c-com from his breast pocket and psied his thoughts to it, then did the necessary coding to grant Rhodus access.

“Just playing a little mind game,” he said innocently, handing over the device. “Want to play?”

* * *

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BEYOND THE HIDDEN SKY – Star Trails Tetralogy Volume I
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A PSILENT PLACE BELOW – Star Trails Tetralogy Volume 3

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