Cover Art Reveal for the Future Days Anthology!

Behold! When the anthology drops, this will be the beautiful artwork that adorns the cover! This anthology is a collection of short stories by Castrum authors and is being released in advance of a number of new books by said authors (one of which is the second installment in my Formist Series – The Jovian Manifesto). My wife thinks there’s a strong resemblance between the child wearing the jet pack and yours truly. Yeah, I suppose I can see it too! 🙂

For those interested, my own contribution is the story Jericho, a story that takes a look at a generation ship that arrives at its destination many centuries from now. The colonists are what are known as Seedlings, people who use advanced nanotechnology to seed and terraform other worlds in advance of colonists. When they arrive, their homes, cities, streets, industries, and all the basic amenities are already built. All they need to do is take their places among the colony and get things working.

This story takes place in the same universe as The Cronian Incident, thought not the same time frame. Speaking of which, stay tuned for cover art for the second installment in that series, The Jovian Manifesto!

More Good News of an Elon Musk Nature!

More Good News of an Elon Musk Nature!

So this past week, I managed to get a bit of a celebrity encounter. Elon Musk, the founder of SpacX, Tesla, the Boring Company, Solar City, commented on an article I wrote. The article itself (“New Model Predicts That We’re Probably the Only Advanced Civilization in the Observable Universe“) was about a recent study that took a fresh look at the Fermi Paradox.

Based on the range of uncertainties that are inherent in the calculations of the Drake Equation, they claimed, it is quite likely that humanity is alone in the observable Universe. Hence why we have failed to find evidence of extra-terrestrial intelligence (ETI) yet. In response, Musk posted that this conclusion made it all the more important for humanity to explore and colonize the known universe.

WELL! As you can imagine, everything that Musk says and does becomes news. Shortly after he posted his responses to this article, a number of news sources picked up the story and ran with it. The first that came to my attention (thanks for my friend and colleague Paco) was Business Insider, which quoted Musk and mentioned the original study. I immediately told my boss, who said that countless media outlets were reporting on this. He started sending me thinks. They included…

Tech Insider
CNBC
Yahoo News!
Nature World News
CNET

I’m sure there are others, but I got tired of my boss posting links and I felt he had made his point. And while NONE of the publications happened to mention then original article, Universe Today, or the author (i.e. ME!), they did draw attention to the original research and the questions it raised. As for the rest, they focused strictly on Musk himself. Damn famous people, getting all the attention!

Needless to say, I wrote to Musk on Twitter and thanked him for taking an interest. He didn’t respond, but that was to be expected to. He’s a busy man and thousands of people were posting about the article. In the end, its okay to catch a ray of sunshine as it shines on someone else!

 

Elon Musk Read My Article!

Well, he commented on twitter about it, at any rate. But basically, the publication World and Science, which is permitted to republish articles published by Universe Today (for whom I work) recently posted one of my articles on their website. It was titled “New Model Predicts That We’re Probably the Only Advanced Civilization in the Observable Universe.” While the title may sound a little final and disappointing, the subject matter was actually a study that takes a fresh look at the famous Drake Equation. And in the end, they don’t claim we are alone, but rather there’s a lot of uncertainties still present in the equation, which is why we need to search for extra-terrestrial life more!

In any case, the article has gotten a pretty big response given the controversial nature of the topic. And when World and Science tweeted the story out, guess who commented on it? Yes, Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, Paypal, Tesla, Solar City, and the Boring Company. It all began about 16 hours ago, when Musk tweeted: “So strange” in response to the article. A discussion naturally followed where people dismissed or disagreed with the article or questioned the study’s validity (like I said, it’s controversial!).

In the midst of it, Musk tweeted, “Let’s find out. It would be amazing to encounter an alien civilization, provided it is not their invasion fleet!”, followed by multiple UFO emojis. Inevitably, Musk declared that the study underlined the important of space exploration, tweeting “This is why we must preserve the light of consciousness by becoming a spacefaring civilization & extending life to other planets”, and “It is unknown whether we are the only civilization currently alive in the observable universe, but any chance that we are is added impetus for extending life beyond Earth”.

No disagreement there. But at the same time, the study underscores the importance of the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence (SETI). Since it indicates that, based on the uncertainties still present in the Drake Equation – for example, how likely are potentially-habitable planets to give rise to life, and how often is intelligent life likely to emerge from that?, etc. – it’s more likely to conclude humanity is alone in the visible Universe at the moment. But that’s nothing if not a declaration that we need to correct for those uncertainties by getting out there and studying the conditions under which life can emerge in far greater detail.

Needless to say, I was flattered and excited that someone like Musk was commenting on an article penned by little ol’ me. And I certainly told him as much! I hope he comments back! I also hope he likes science fiction, because I hope to tell him I’ve got a book coming out in just a few weeks! More on that soon enough! 🙂

Two Bits of Good News!

Two Bits of Good News!

More good news, folks! As I announced a few weeks ago, The Jovian Manifesto came back from Castrum Press with a number of editing suggestions. This book is the sequel to The Cronian Incident and the second book in the Formist Series. After incorporating their edits, I also included ones provided by my darling wife (she’s such a good editor!).

And now, the manuscript is back at the Castrum getting a final read-through before going to print. According to the publisher, the book should getting a mid-summer publication. Naturally, I am quite excited that the sequel is being published roughly nine months after the first novel. While the publisher and I were hoping to get it out sooner, one simply can’t rush the creative process. Believe me, I’ve tried!

Castrum-Press-Future-Days-Anthology-Banner-1200x628
Credit and Copyright: Castrum Press/©Duncan Halleck

In the meantime, my publisher and I have been talking about releasing an anthology of my short stories. These stories are actually a collection I’ve been hoping to publish for some time; but somehow, I never got around to it. I’m lousy at self-editing and of course, I have been busy with other projects. In any case, many of the stories were originally written as part of the 2013 April A to Z challenge while others were added afterwards.

Originally, I had planned to release this anthology under the title Flash Forward. However, I never managed to get through the lengthy editing process so the stories were never published. However, one of the stories, titled Jericho, will be included in Castrum’s upcoming release – Future Days! As for the other short stories, that remains to be seen…

This summer will be a busy one and will involve multiple releases. And if there’s any time to spare, perhaps the wife and I will take a much-needed vacation. Stay tuned for more news!

The Jovian Manifesto, More Good News!

The Jovian Manifesto, More Good News!

Some good news on the publishing front. My latest novel, the Jovian Manifesto (the second installment in the Formist Series), is back from the editor and I’m now making corrections. Once that’s done, it’s back to the publisher for another run-through, and then it will be ready for publication. While I can’t give a precise date, a realistic estimate at this point places the release date early this summer. And I’ve already seen some sample artwork, and it looks awesome!

And while I don’t want to spoil anything, I can say that the second book has plenty of action scenes! One thing I worried about in book one was that it had a rather slow buildup. Of course, that’s a consequence of having a story with multiple settings and an intricate plot. Nevertheless, I wanted there to be more action scenes in the second and third books, and ensure that they occurred throughout.

Credit: NASA

Suffice it to say, there are a few combat scenes that involve powered exosuits, some exotic locations, and the aforementioned space combat. Writing these scenes was admittedly a bit of a challenge, since its kind of hard to predict what combat would look like where super-advanced technology is involved. In a society where anything can be synthesized and manufactured at the atomic level, what kinds of weapons, armor and ships would be possible?

In other news, The Cronian Incident is still getting reviews. At this moment, it has accrued 12 reviews on Amazon (with an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars) and 16 on Goodreads – with an average rating of 4.0 out of 5 stars. Hopefully, the second book will do just as well.

 

The Jovian Manifesto is Complete!

The Jovian Manifesto is Complete!

Yes, after a good six months of planning, plotting, writing, rewriting, and worrying about deadlines, The Jovian Manifesto is finally done! And by that I mean I’ve finished writing the manuscript and the process of editing and polishing is about to begin. I’m also expecting some artwork in the coming weeks so there are plenty of surprises ahead!

In addition to being the sequel to The Cronian Incident (released in September of 2017), The Jovian Manifesto is the second book in the Formist Series. So based on the release date of the first book and assuming I can get all the edits done by the end of this month, that would make this the second books that I’ve written in the past six months. Would now be a good time to take a wee break? I hope so!

Here’s the preamble that I’ve been saving for the release:

“Months have passed since the incident on Titan. For Emile and the Formists, life is returning to normal now that their enemies have been dealt with. Or so they thought. On the Jovian world of Europa, a mysterious document has been released that threatens to reveal everything. The Jovian Manifesto, as it’s called, has the Outer Worlds up in arms and the Inner Worlds fearing a civil war. The Solar System is on the verge of ignition, and all that is needed is a spark.”

As I stated in a previous post, this sequel will feature a whole new bunch of characters and locations. In fact, all of the new leading characters in this novel are women, which surprised me even. I did want to move away from male primary characters since the first book was a little heavy on them. But even I was a bit surprised when someone pointed this out to me.

As with The Cronian Incident, my publisher will be the venerated UK-based company known as Castrum Press!

I’d also like to take this opportunity to say congrats to my friend and fellow writer, Rami Ungar! Rami recently signed a contract with Castrum Press to write horror and suspense (his specialty). Thanks to Castrum’s pro-active approach to recruitment, I was able to set up a meet between him and Rami, and the two hit it off! Good luck to the both of us, Rami! Busy times ahead 🙂

The Jovian Manifesto

The Jovian Manifesto

Hello again! Today I thought I’d take a break from talking about reviews, and focus on the progress I’ve been making with my second book. Basically, the manuscript for The Jovian Manifesto – the sequel to The Cronian Incident – now exceeds 78,000 words in length! To put that in perspective, the final draft is likely to be about 100,000 words, so I’m more than three-quarters there. While I had been hoping to get the manuscript finished in time for Christmas, it seems that no plan ever survives contact with reality.

But that’s okay. At this rate, the book is sure to be finished and released sometime in early 2018, and will feature new characters, new settings, and new challenges. And as I promised myself before I began writing it, it will also involve more action and a seat-of-the-pants narrative!

As for The Cronian Incident, the reviews keep coming in. At present, it has 10 reviews on Amazon (where it enjoys an average rating of 4.7 stars) and 11 reviews on Goodreads (where it averages 4.0 stars). But getting back to the sequel, here’s a quick rundown of what’s new:

Credit: US Geological Survey

New Characters:

Veronika Gallego: Cytherean by birth, intelligence-gatherer by training, engineer by choice, and amateur poet by inclination. Gallego is a jack of all trades, and more useful than she cares to be. Because when her old mentor comes calling and asks her to investigate an attack on the Jovian moon Ganymede, she can think of no one more qualified to do it.

Adelaide Cheboi: A specialist in combat and infiltration, Cheboi thought she had seen it all. But after being assigned to protect Gallego on her mission to Ganymede, Cheboi realizes there are some things that even she was not prepared for. And sometimes, the line between enemy and friend is not so clear.

Audhild Saana: An elite mercenary, Saana runs one of the toughest crews in known space. Soon enough, she and her crew will find themselves in the toughest fight of their lives. On the one side, they will face another band of skilled and hungry mercenaries. On the other, they face the people they have been contracted to kill, and they are more trouble than they initially appeared!

New Settings:

Venus: Much of the book is dedicated to establishing what life is like on Venus, where the population lives in floating cities above the planets incredibly dense and hot atmosphere. While this might sound a little space opera-esque, the concept of colonizing Venus with floating cities has actually been explored as a serious scientific matter. Up above Venus’ clouds, temperatures and air pressure are actually safe, providing you don’t mind living in pressurized cabins.

Credit: NASA

Ganymede: Much of the story also takes place on Jupiter’s moon Ganymede, which is the core of the Jovian system. The story also begins here, specifically in the capitol city of Selket. Like most of Ganymede’s architecture, this settlement is built into one of the moon’s craters and was laid out in a honeycomb-configuration. Another setting of interest is the underwater settlement of Kur, a casino and resort that is only accessible by ocean liner. When in the Jovian system, its where the fancy people go to play!

Europa: Europa, another of Jupiter’s largest moons, is another major setting in the story. It is here that the Jovian Manifesto made it’s first appearance, and where our heroes must inevitably venture in order to find the authors themselves. Once again, the planet’s interior ocean plays a significant role in the moon’s geography and culture.

O’Neill’s Reach: This habitat (an O’Neill Cylinder) is where the story’s protagonist – Veronika Gallego – lives at the beginning of the story. Like all Gyro Habs, it is a massive cylinder in space that rotates to provide artificial gravity. And thanks to Gallego’s marvelous engineering skills, it can also simulate a sunrise… with spectacular results!

Credit: Lightfarm Studios

That’s the precis and the preview. Expect to hear more as it nears completion, which will hopefully be soon!