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EXPEDITION – Galactic Neighborhood, Book 1

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In 2096 the star ship Expedition began a centuries long search for a suitable world to colonize. Assisted by a sentient AI, the unsuspecting crew is awakened when a strange craft suddenly appears transmitting an appeal for help.

Led to an underground sanctuary, they discover the remains of an entire alien race, preserved in stasis. While the newfound allies prepare to leave, they are threatened by an aggressive race bent on acquiring the alien’s secrets for themselves.

***

The Galactic Neighborhood trilogy traces the fate of three Earth colony ships, sent out into the void to find new worlds for man to conquer. Though their futures are ultimately intertwined, each face the uncertainties of a galaxy filled with wonder, danger, and incredible opportunity.

Book 1: Expedition, Book 2: Odyssey, Book 3: Exploration

Expedition

 

 

Personal ethics in a Fiction story

I have written previously regarding my book, Second Chance Earth, but let me summarize quickly.

A ruined Earth is taken over by an alien presence who desires to cleanse and repopulate the planet. The people involved have no control over what the entity has already done or intends to do, yet try to make the best of the new life they have been given.

A recent 1-star reviewer has very insistently stated:

“…this is a horrifying tale of humanity giving up its freedom to become happy puppets for vastly superior aliens” and one which “tells of the utter brainwashing and destruction of the human spirit”.

The reviewer goes on to say “I am not sure if the author of this novel understands what he actually wrote” and that I “do not have a grasp of the ethical and psychological meaning of my novel”.

As discerning readers know, most post-apocalyptic literature is dark and disturbing by its very nature, so there should be no surprise when reading a book of this genre. I would also point out that this book is:

1. A NOVEL – “A long written story about imaginary people and events.”  Merriam-Webster

2. A work of FICTION – “Literature created from the imagination and not presented as fact.”  Britannica.com

3. A form of ENTERTAINMENT – “Something which holds the attention and interest of an audience or gives pleasure and delight.” Wikipedia

There isn’t a work of fiction anywhere which remains untainted by the author’s own value system, interests, beliefs or imagination, but no reasonable reader would expect everything presented on the page to be an actual statement of the author’s personal beliefs. If this were true, many writers of horror or murder mysteries, for instance, would need to be locked away to protect society!

I love my book, and believe it is a creative and interesting tale in which the survivors are controlled, but given the means to live pleasant and  productive lives. I doubt there are very many post-apocalyptic stories out there with the happy ending mine provides! Based on written reviews so far, the vast majority of my readers also love the book and do not believe the author is ethically or psychologically deficient.

Now – would I want to live in the world I described, under the control of such a powerful alien being – NO, I would not. In this, I agree with my ardent critic that the story could be seen as a “horrifying tale”. On the other hand, if aliens really were to take over the world, it is extremely unlikely they would have the slightest concern for our freedom or well-being. In such an encounter, we would be fortunate to survive at all, let alone do so in a pleasant manner.

At the end of the day, my book provides a bit of short-lived entertainment, not a treatise on morals or ethics, and certainly not a statement of my personal views. I am grateful most of my readers understand this and will continue to enjoy novels which appeal to their own imaginations. Long live fiction!

 

 

The Writing of Exploration

In the Epilogue of Odyssey, the unfortunate capture and destruction of Exploration is mentioned. In truth, I really had no clear idea how that was going to play out! It took some time for the ideas to coalesce and give me the direction needed.

From the start, I intended this book to be a bit more gritty and visceral than the first two in the series. I also wanted the bad guys to be particularly bad to reinforce the idea that if humanity ever were to traverse the galaxy in the future, they would not necessarily be welcomed with open arms, tentacles, claws – whatever!

One of my greatest  challenges was to juggle all the different people groups and sub-plots involved,  making sure I didn’t drop any story threads along the way. I had to rely on lots of paper notes alongside my keyboard to keep names and events straight in my mind. It was very complicated, and there were times I wished I had picked an easier way to tell the story.

My favorite character was not a human, but Birmew –  the hapless Silestri who was nearly killed and then abandoned, simply for trying to protect his human charges. I was determined to repay him for his kindness as the story unfolded, and I think things turned out well for him in the end.

The conclusion of the book was something of a somber mix, but this was by design. With all the damage done during their captivity, some of the prisoners were unable to walk away unscathed. I believe this will be just as true in the future as it is today, no matter what kinds of medical treatments or therapies come along.

The future, as written in this series, is overwhelmingly positive, yet I made it clear not everything will be sweetness and spice. The book ends on a uplifting note, leaving our now-safe descendants ready to face an interesting future.

 

NOTE: Some readers have hinted (or demanded) I write more books in the series. While I  deeply appreciate their enthusiasm, I have no concrete plans for sequels at the present time. The overall story seems complete to me as is, but if I get some great ideas in the future, you will be the first to know!

The Writing of Odyssey

In some ways Odyssey was easier to write than Expedition, but I discovered unexpected challenges as things progressed. The first, and most obvious, was the location of the action, which was almost totally on the planet’s surface. I didn’t have all the cool space-based technologies, ship movements, interesting discoveries, and other goodies to play with as I did in Expedition. Somehow, I had to make this planet-bound story interesting to the reader while explaining what happened to them on their quest for a new home.

The last presidential election cycle was in full swing as I wrote the book, so inevitably politics found a prominent spot in the story. Creating a nasty politician was not difficult (sorry to say), and I wanted the readers to realize that if human colonies ever do make it into space, they will be bringing some of the same problems with them. Time and distance will not necessarily change human nature, though imagining so may cause us to feel better about future generations.

Another really fun element in the book involved the scary looking aliens, who turned out to be intelligent, gentle telepaths. The Rxyl are based on an actual critter called the Australian Thorny Devil (click HERE to find out more). In real life they measure about 4-5 inches, but in my story are 5-6 feet. I found it more interesting to make something so formidable looking be the good guys for a change. That they ended up turning everything in the colony on its head was simply sauce for the goose. Throwing telepathy into the mix was interesting in itself, but I had to carefully consider how such a thing would affect humanity. Let’s just say I’m glad our thoughts are not being broadcast for all to hear!

The book was a joy to write, and some of the characters you met in Expedition make an appearance in this tale. Each book in the Galactic Neighborhood series stands alone, but reading them in sequence provides a richer backstory. Happy reading!