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The Decision to go to Mars

R.L. Dean Author Interview
R.L. Dean Author Interview

A Country Among Countries is a political thriller inside of a space opera that’s filled with intriguing characters up against tough obstacles. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did it change as you wrote?

There were two story elements that needed to be accomplished. The first was winding down the incidents at Ganymede, and the second was getting the majority of characters to Mars because of the approaching mid-series conclusion in the next book. It was tough for me, and don’t feel like I’ve told half the story that I wanted to tell in this particular novel. One major events in the story is the rejection of Mat’s ore at A40, thus leading to the decision to go to Mars.

The story is filled with intriguing characters. Who was your favorite character to write for?

Ludwick or Mat. Ludwick because he’s so easy to write, and Mat because of his personal values.

The science inserted in the fiction, I felt, was well balanced. How did you manage to keep it grounded while still providing the fantastic edge science fiction stories usually provide?

Well I did do my research with regards to propulsion, fuel, speed, orbit and gravity. I like novels with ‘real science’ in them, but because it’s fiction you can hedge a little bit. But it is a balance. I believe my audience is educated, and they’ll know when I push the tech too far out of bounds. I just tried to make it as realistic as possible without the benefit of an engineering PHD.

This is book three in your Harmony series. What can readers expect in book four?

Rashomon’s War will conclude this part of the series. The events surrounding Modi’s take over of Mars will likely be quick, and the majority of the story will be found in the resolutions for the characters, and most of those were determined by Book 2, Year of the Child. (psst. then we start again in a new timeline.)

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SHUTLZ– As the UN ramps up production of ships and opens new training facilities for soldiers, the first elected governor of Mars realizes that he might be facing an invasion. With Lieutenant Governor Jung dead, murdered by a soldier on Ganymede, Shultz must bear the full weight of the office he chose alone, and find a way to keep Mars free.

COMPTON– Amidst a pending court-martial the Lieutenant Colonel begins to reflect on what it means to be a soldier. His most trusted ally and friend, Sergeant Jenkins, is silenced about the events on Ganymede by a superior, and Compton knows the order to enact martial law looms over Mars. One day soon he will be ordered to monitor and arrest his own neighbors.

TETSUYA– For Detective Takahashi the way of justice is clouded. He knows Matthew Middleton and his crew have committed crimes, but they are not criminals, and he finds that the demands of duty no longer align with his heart.

ALEXANDRIA– For every mountain there is a valley. Her plans to change the world have led Alexandria to this place. Confined, interrogated, and with her company crumbling under Modi’s UN, she finds that she has lost the vision.

MAT– Feeling the weight of family on his shoulders, he can do nothing but watch as Misaki buries her pain in endless work, and Yuri, returning to his depression drinks himself into oblivion. To add to his burdens, no one wants to buy Apex ore.

A Country Among Countries

A Country Among Countries (Harmony Book 3) by [R.L. Dean, Crissha Figarella, J. N. McLaughlin]

A Country Among Countries by R.L. Dean is a science fiction thriller with deep socio-political commentary. The lives of many characters are intertwined and move towards a satisfying climax. Tetsuya is concerned with ideas of justice and duties and carries the burden of his past mistakes as a cop. Misaki and Middleton are caught up in a complicated game of loyalty and trust where neither can give up their secrets without harming the other. Compton is a soldier struggling with the pressure of tough decisions that lay ahead of him. The UN is intending the economic ruin of Mars by creating a dependence on the businesses on Earth. All of them are connected through Ganymede, a planet where the assassination of Governor Jung had occurred.

There are interesting illustrations woven throughout by R.L. Dean that builds a delightful tension before the chapters. All the characters are given a rich inner life. All their motivations and behavior came from a natural place. I almost felt like I was part of their group, and that is definitely the biggest strength of this book. The characters are three-dimensional and feel alive that you can’t help but feel that this is happening somewhere in an alternate universe. The banter between Asha and her dad was endearing and adorable. There’s also a lot of diversity in the characters- even though some of their origins are not explicitly mentioned, a variety of cultures are portrayed in a realistic manner. In the science fiction that I have encountered, this is a pretty uncommon element, but greatly appreciated. On the flip side, there are hordes of characters present in this book. So it was a little hard keeping track of all of them, but I found that making a note of their names and the relations in a text file helped.

Of course, since it is a science fiction novel, there were some fantastic and fascinating gadgets and devices- like the air recycler systems and the “boxes of water” in hatch pads. I was intrigued by the descriptions of the different spaceships and the inter-space transportation. There are some parts of the story that felt like a commentary on the ongoing political situation in some countries. Especially when a character shares the same name as a leader of one of the most populous countries in the world. However, this didn’t bother me much as the fictional aspect is obviously kept at the forefront.

A Country Among Countries is a thrilling space adventure, with something in it for everyone, especially for people interested in examining the modern political world from a new perspective.

Pages: 265 | ASIN: B08PSBYZB2

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