Monday, October 28, 2019

Two Years in the Making: StarDog is a New Release!

StarDog, my latest release, was the first story in my Inherited Stars series that introduced the wascawy little dog/cat/weasel/mongoose bio-constructs who were created to be companion animals, ship's mascots...and sometimes...spies. (Like in the current companion story in USA TODAY bestseller Pets in Space® 4, SpyDog.)


Let me kick this off with a snippet from the start of the story and the incident that sparked an adventure for this star navigator:
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“Freeze.”

When Captain Dava Jordon used that bone-chilling tone, no one asked questions.

Taro Shall, ship’s navigator, didn’t even blink as she stalked toward his navcon, weapon drawn and eyes locked on her target. Thankfully, whatever that target was, it wasn’t him. She was aiming toward the deck in the general vicinity of his feet.

She squeezed off two blasts of her laze-pistol.

Taro jumped back as the searing heat penetrated through his deck boots.

Just below his station, something long, tan, and patterned in singe marks writhed on the floor. “What the Hades, Skipper?”

Captain Jordon took two cautious steps forward and leaned down to examine the victim, sweeping back her long black hair with one hand. “Take a look.”

Taro gripped the armrest of his flight couch and went to one knee, craning his neck to get a better look at the thing on the floor. When he finally registered the shape and scales, he sucked in his breath. “Snake?”

The captain screwed up her face in disgust. “Must’ve picked it up back on Dartis. It’s a sand viper.”

“Viper?” Taro pushed to his feet and backed off a step.

“Yeah. A very deadly one. If one of these little terrors sinks his fangs into you, you’ll drop before you can spit out a curse.”

Taro swallowed the ball of ice rising in his throat. “Guess I’m damn lucky you saw it.”

“Sensed it,” she clarified. “I was plugged into Calypso. The flight deck motion sensors picked it up.” She nodded to the black drive helmet now perched on a cradle at her command console.

Taro exhaled, his pulse still in the process of deceleration. “Glad you never miss.”

“Well, it’s not the end of our problems.” She straightened, holstering her weapon.

“That’s a hatchling. Maybe a couple days old. It’s been five days since we left Dartis.

That means there’s a mother and several dozen siblings slithering around Calypso.”

“Damn. We’ve got trouble.”

“Exactly.” Captain Jordon scrubbed a hand over her face. “Looks like we’re grounded until we find a fix. Before Doc Emboratyr gets word of our little issue, we need to hire an exterminator. A good one.” She pinned him with a look. “We, of course, means you. Best get to it. We’re losing daylight.”

Taro snagged his jacket from the back of his flight couch. “Aye, Boss, I’m on it.”

With one last glance at the charbroiled little carcass, he strode to the lift.

“Better watch where you step on your way out. Could be more of them anywhere,” the captain called after him.

Taro gave her a casual salute and did a quick check of the floor as the lift rotated to descend from Calypso’s upper flight deck to the main level below. He warily scanned the corridor before venturing off.

The wall com clicked on as he headed down the curved passage toward the airlock. Captain Jordan’s voice filled the corridor. “If you see Pareen out there, tell him to stay away from Calypso until I shoot him an all-clear on his recall. I’m not going to drop the quarantine flags. Don’t want to scare off our client.”

“You got it, Skipper,” Taro answered as he reached Calypso’s main airlock and activated the controls to extend the ramp.

“And watch out for Palies. I want no trouble with the Ithians.”

“No messing with the Alliance. Check that.”

Outside the ship, Carduwa’s warm, herbal-scented air ruffled Taro’s hair and danced along the pavement in gentle eddies. A friendly sun lit the heavy greenery of tall trees and dense shrubbery just beyond the spaceport grounds. This planet was nothing like the bone-dry dustbowl of Dartis where they’d last made port. Thank the Island Spirits for that much.

Taro made his way to the nearest street just off the spaceport exit and glanced down an endless row of brightly colored vendor tents. Where to start?

He ducked his head into the entrance of the first two pavilions with a questioning, “Exterminator?” The answer on both counts was a brisk shake of a keeper’s head. Somewhere around vendor twelve, he got a lead.

“No exterminator, but you wanna see Dini Kemm. Red and yellow striper. Tiharra Lane. Three streets west.”

Taro plucked a citrus drink tube from the vendor’s laboring chiller, tossing the elderly man five replas. “Many thanks.”
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The book trailer also provides the exciting tone of this adventure:




It's taken me a couple of years to get this one where I wanted it to be, expanding scenes, adding chapters, and writing a whole new epilogue.

This standalone book is nearly twice the length of the original, which gave me the opportunity to delve a little deeper into the mystery surrounding the Calypso and her captain, to better establish a new character who also has a role in SpyDog, and to give more insights into the relationship of the leading couple.

Readers loved the original story and the HEA, but a few were a little distraught that Taro had been left in such a quandary. The new epilogue addresses this and takes the relationship between Taro and Adini just a little further into the future.

I think you're gonna love it!

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StarDog Blurb

Navigator Taro Shall's captain assigns him an unexpected mission–find a way to eradicate deadly vipers that have infested starship Calypso. He never expects to find the solution to his problem in the hands of Adini, a charming street vendor. But the bio-engineered StarDog he acquires turns out to be a galactic hot potato, and both Taro and Adini are soon fugitives on the run.

Adini Kemm can't deny her fascination for the honor-bound navigator, though his past and her present seem to null any chance at a shared future. Until her father's capture as a spy catapults both her and Taro into a desperate bid to save him...and straight into the clutches of a brewing insurrection.

As Taro's bond with Adini grows, so does their jeopardy. Determined not to draw Calypso or his captain into the fray, Taro must rely on his wits to keep both Adini and his secrets safe from the renegade leader who takes them prisoner. 
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StarDog will be on sale for only .99 cents until November 11th, Veteran's Day. 


Follow me on BookBub to get news of future releases.

You all have a Happy Halloween and a wonderful week!


Friday, October 25, 2019

ARMY, UFO GROUP EYE 'ALIEN' MATERIALS


So, this week, another post in the category of truth is stranger than (science) fiction.
UFOlogists have been telling us for decades that samples of materials taken from crashed alien spaceships exist here on Earth and that governments are using them to “reverse engineer” our own futuristic technologies.

Now comes the proof—or something very close to it. According to Tom McCay in a post on Gizmodo.com, Blink 182’s Tom DeLonge’s To The Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences (TTSA) just contracted with the U.S. Army to investigate materials in its possession that are supposedly of otherworldly origin. The object of the agreement between the two organizations, called a “Cooperative Research and Development Agreement,” which is something less than a formal long-term production contract and more than a handshake, is to examine the materials for their potential use for, well, I’ll just let the Army speak for themselves, otherwise you might not believe me. The CRADA is established to:

Perform assessments, testing, and characterization of Collaborator-provided technologies. The Government is interested in a variety of the Collaborator’s technologies, such as, but not limited to inertial mass reduction, mechanical/structural metamaterials, electromagnetic metamaterial wave guides, quantum physics, quantum communications, and beamed energy propulsion.”

Some of this stuff I just don’t have the brain to interpret. But “inertial mass reduction”? Honey, I shrunk the soldiers? Cloaking technology? “Quantum physics”? That could be anything from a transporter to a warp drive. “Quantum communications”? How else do you communicate across the vastness of space? And “beamed energy propulsion?  Let’s hope they mean warp drive and not some kind of weapon.

Alien metamaterial--or just a piece of slag?
 All these wild notions are based on the possibility that the materials TTSA possesses (the UFO research organization calls them “meta-materials”) are actually not composed of isotopes of elements found on Earth. Some professional debunkers have claimed  the photos of the materials TTSA has posted on Instagram are nothing but common industrial slag. Presumably, however, TTSA, whose members include former Lockheed Martin Skunk Works exec Steve Justice and former Department of Defense Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) official Luis Elizondo, would have conducted its own tests to rule out that probability. And the mystery is intriguing enough to have attracted the attention of the U.S. military.

That in itself, of course, is not always a guarantee of research validity. As one commenter pointed out in response to the Gizmodo post, the CIA spent lots of taxpayer money futilely trying to prove that humans could view the battlefield remotely with their minds. As he reminded us, The Men Who Stare at Goats was nonfiction, after all.

 
Cheers, Donna

Monday, October 21, 2019

What's Past is Prologue? Not in this Series! #snippet #PetsInSpace

William Shakespeare originally coined the phrase "What's past is prologue" for his play The Tempest, but the phrase has become the darling of the sci-fi universe with such television franchises as Star Trek: Discovery and The Flash giving it a nod in episode titles.

The original meaning was basically that history has set the stage for the present. But in some references, it also hints that what's past may be inconsequential to the here and now. That's not the case in my series, where the tumultuous past of this fictional future will be explored in later volumes.

In my latest Inherited Stars Series story, SpyDog, which is part of the just released USA TODAY bestselling volume Pets in Space® 4, one of the characters has the opportunity to summarize the history leading up to their particular point in time in a brief dialogue. But in the Inherited Stars Series, his summary isn't just prologue, it's a recap of a future trilogy that will step back into this epic  past.

Scene Set-Up:

  • Rigel is a Network agent who--along with his SpyDog partner, Maura--has a galaxy-altering mission. 
  • Sona is a warrior class female Rathskian with a mysterious mission of her own. 
  • Captain Garr is the Network pilot of the transport that's ferrying them to an important rendezvous.

Conflicting missions have resulted in an altercation between the three.


Excerpt (edited slightly for context):

Rigel rose from the flight couch, his attention fixed on Sona. 

Garr’s gruff voice intruded on the look that passed between them. “And what about me?”

“I’ll release you if you agree not to fly to LaGuardia and take us straight to the Network transport,” Sona stated.

“I can’t do that.” His glare shifted to Rigel. “And neither can you.”

Rigel faced him. “I have my orders, but you need to explain why this detour to LaGuardia is so important.”

Garr eased out his breath with a subtle shake of his head. “That Ithian blockade on Banna was all about the Alliance trying to capture Commodore Gant—a LaGuardian. When Specter blew their blockade, one of their big battleships was destroyed in the process. As a result, they’ve threatened immediate retaliation against LaGuardia. They’re going to occupy the planet.”

“If the Ithians intend to retaliate against LaGuardia, why would we want to go there?” Sona demanded.

“Because LaGuardia is the home of the Royal Draxian Archives. The records of our history that the Ithians are desperately trying to erase so they can replace it with their lies about our past. They want to bury the truth. High Queen Katrina was real. Our origins on the planet called Earth is truth. The Flame and the Fire Lords did exist. The vortex they passed through was a reality. It’s all there. All the lost knowledge. All the forgotten centuries. Almost fourteen thousand years of it. And it’s in jeopardy.”

“I know of these archives,” Sona said pensively. “They preserve important history for my people, too. But what does it have to do with us?”

“We’ve been directed to acquire the archives on datacells and deliver the contents to the Network. Before the gigadam Ithians can destroy it forever.”

“And with Commodore Gant missing in action, this is a priority for the Network?” Rigel questioned.


“This may be one of the most important things the Network ever does,” Garr declared. “Whether they succeed or fail with their other plans.”

_____________________________________________

I hope you enjoyed this snippet from SpyDog, which is just one of thirteen exciting and highly acclaimed stories in the almost 1,500 page volume, Pets in Space® 4. Also includes works by bestselling and award winning authors S.E. Smith, Anna Hackett, Tiffany Roberts, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, JC Hay, E.D. Walker, Regine Abel, Alexis Glynn Latner, Kyndra Hatch, Cassandra Chandler and Donna McDonald.



As of this writing, Pets in Space® 4 has an average Amazon rating of 4.9 stars with 50 reviews, and has hit #1 on Amazon, Nook and Kobo, in addition to being named a USA TODAY bestseller!

Don't miss out! Pets in Space® 4 is a limited run and when you purchase a copy of this amazing collection in the next 15 days, 10% of your purchase will go toward our contribution to the awesome Hero Dogs, an organization that raises and trains service dogs free of charge for military veterans and first responders. So it's a win-win!

Thanks for stopping by Spacefreighters Lounge today for another glimpse into my story, SpyDog. 

And one final noteworthy mention. Today would have been Carrie Fisher's--aka Princess-General Leia's--63rd birthday. Honoring all she did for the SFR universe. We miss you, Carrie!

From Twitter this morning:
Have a wonderful week filled with great reads!



Friday, October 18, 2019

SCIENCE CATCHES UP TO SF--AGAIN!

And now, a few items to prove that real science is overtaking science fiction at an astounding rate.

Remember that scene in the episode of Star Trek, The Original Series, when Captain Kirk steps to a bank of receptacles in the wall and orders a chicken sandwich and coffee from the replicator (only to be served a plateful of fluffy Tribbles)? Well, a similar food reproduction system may be coming to an automat near you (without the furry interlopers, of course).

So close to replicator tech--just leave out the tribbles.
Catherine Lamb reports in TheSpoon.tech that the Israeli company Redefine Meat has developed a 3D printer that can produce a beef-like meat substance from plant-based materials. The company can build the printer for the relatively low cost of $100k. The idea would be to sell the machine, then supply the buyer (food distributors or producers, for example) with plant-based material packs to make the meat products. Currently Redefine Meat is focused on beef, but is researching how to create tuna, pork and other “flavors” as well.

Why stop there? “Replicated” vegetables and grains would be just as desirable in space, or even in isolated environments on earth where storage and/or refrigeration space is at a premium—the research stations at Antarctica, for example, or on remote islands. And imagine the advantages on the International Space Station, or if we establish an outpost on the moon or on Mars.

Of course, we Trekkers are not surprised that the writers who envisioned the cellphone, the iPad and the MRI would inspire yet another tech marvel. But, hey, I never really thought I would be clairvoyant when it came to the science in my books.

My Interstellar Rescue series characters use a system of stable wormholes to get around the galaxy. The entrances/exits to these tunnels in space/time are called Jump Nodes in the books and act on surrounding space like mini-black holes. In the series, one of these Jump Nodes exists on the very edge of our own solar system, hidden from our technology, but making Earth an easy target for the slave-trading bad-guy aliens. 
 
A stable wormhole--the jump node method of interstellar travel.
Well, guess what? Scientists have found a mysterious object they have tagged “Planet 9” in the outer reaches of our solar system. Some scientists believe the object may be what is known as a “primordial black hole,” that is, one formed in the aftermath of the Big Bang. The hole, if it exists, may be no bigger than a bowling ball and would not be detectable by visible-light or infrared telescopes. Scientists arguing for the existence of the object base their hypothesis on anomalies in the orbits of asteroids, comets and other bodies beyond Neptune, according to the report in NBCNews.com. The only problem is, no primordial black holes have ever been seen before, though they theoretically might exist.

An alternate explanation would be that a huge, undetected planet is causing the gravitational variations. Says a coauthor of the study, James Unwin of the University of Illinois at Chicago, “The discovery of a giant planet in the outer solar system would be an extraordinary discovery. But the discovery of a primordial black hole would be immense and even more spectacular.”

Yes. But a Jump Node leading to another, inhabited, sector of the galaxy? Well, that discovery would really blow our minds, now wouldn’t it? 

 HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAYS TO MY CO-BLOGGERS 

Congratulations to both Sharon Lynn Fisher for the debut this week of The Absinthe Earl (The Faery Rehistory Series Book 1) and to Laurie Green and her co-authors for the fabulous success of Pets in Space® 4. If you haven’t gotten your copies of these great books (one a fantasy/alternate history romance, the other a continuation of the SFR series), better get in line.


Cheers, Donna


 Information for this post drawn from: "Redefine Meat Raises $6M for 3D Printed Meat   Alternatives." by Catherine Lamb, TheSpoon.tech, September 11, 2019.

"Our solar system's mysterious 'Planet 9' may actually be a tiny, ancient black hole," by Denise Chow, NBCNews.com, October 2, 2019.





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Hosted by 5 Science Fiction Romance authors with 8 RWA Golden Heart finals and a RITA final between them. We aim to entertain with spirited commentary on the past, present, and future of SFR, hot topics, and our take on Science Fiction and SFR books, television, movies and culture.