Covert Alliance by Blair Wylie starts when a massive and potentially dangerous pyramid is discovered on New Earth. Prime Minister Philip Wong has to make some delicate decisions regarding the investigation of this pyramid- while keeping military, political, and social turmoil at bay. He enlists the help of a professor, lieutenant, and a major for the deep space probe. They discover that a certain caste of a race known as ‘Masters’ is planning to annihilate their species using bio-terrorism and other nefarious means. Strategic and powerful moves have to be made by the characters that determine their chances of survival.
The parallels between the mystery of the pyramids in the story and our real world (Earth itself) is particularly fascinating. There’s definitely enough conspiracy theories floating around regarding the construction of the Great Pyramids- and not a few of them involve aliens. So all of this tying into the story made the plot more believable and interesting. The author presents a fairly dense and research-oriented view of the plot. Every detail is examined and explained with a scientific tone. I enjoyed this storytelling method- but I could see how some people who don’t prefer getting into the nitty-gritty statistics would find this a bit long-winded. Some of the parts read almost like a manual and I definitely struggled with some of the technical details but at the same time, it was almost educational- the systematic disassembling of the plot details so the big picture became clearer as a whole.
As always, Blair Wylie creates a dark world without using a cynical or depressing tone. The decisions the characters make are influenced by their intellect and limited resources. Similarly, the motives of the antagonists are also laid out clearly. The Warrior Masters were menacing and dangerous not because of their inherent evilness but because of their efficient and convincing plans. They made detailed plans about the best way to attack and cripple New Earth. A relevant and terrifying pandemic is also central to the plot.
Covert Alliance is a slow-burner that takes a while to sink its teeth in. It’s a well-researched and relevant science-fiction story that made me rethink the nature of human society. It’s a great read for anyone who enjoys believable and engaging science fiction.
Pages: 380 | ASIN: B07W6GLHB1
Tube Survivors follows a group of people who found New Earth but run into problems building their idyllic society. What was the inspiration for the setup to this novel?
It was fun to ponder how ten-thousand Tube Dwellers would transition from life within a womb-like, totalitarian, agrarian, basically Communist system, then quickly (by necessity) through a spaceship’s command and control system, and then to life as pioneer’s on a new and dangerous planet. Their leaders know Earth’s history, and they believe capitalism ultimately led to many problems. They build on the non-monetary, resource-sharing system they experienced in Tube World. They have to completely model their growing and vastly different economy with a very complex Resource Allocation Plan. In many respects, the leaders function as the Intelligentsia in the Soviet Union, or the Second Foundation in Isaac Azimov’s Foundation series. The Second Foundation works in secret to refine predictions of the future of galactic humanity based on mass-psychology, and targets areas for surgical intervention to improve the outcome. The leaders of New Earth share their economic modelling and elaborate, continuously-updated, computer-based plan with the general population, and hope their involvement will motivate them to help make it all work. In other words, the leaders of New Earth believe most people are good and intelligent, and want to live in an orderly, nurturing society where no one tries to selfishly get ahead. They are naïve, but well-intentioned. In contrast the leaders of the Soviet Union believed peasants and workers were incapable of understanding the running of a country, suppressed and controlled what was made public, and ruled with an iron fist.
The survivors tackle many moral issues when creating their society. What were some ideas you wanted to explore in this book?
The Tube Survivors believe capital punishment to be abhorrent, but struggle to agree on a humane alternative. They try banishment, similar to what the British tried with Australia, and the French tried with French Guiana. Their first test case is a psychopath named Harvey, and it does not go well. Harvey exploits an indigenous, humanoid tribe with the intent of inflicting revenge on the human society that rejected him. The Tube Survivors also want to remain ‘green’ and eco-friendly. They want to avoid the use of coal, oil and gas, but also know this greatly constrains their economy and quality of life. Like us, they struggle with issues that may not have a simple answer. In other words, I am suggesting that moral issues will never leave us.
What were some questions you kept asking yourself when writing this novel?
How would human beings actually establish a civilization on another planet? Is it as easy as many sci-fi novels and movies suggest using the fantasy of faster-than-light travel? What do pioneers need to take with them to survive and eventually thrive? What are their priorities? How do they best deal with indigenous humanoids? View them as competitors, and wipe them out? Or treat them as equals, and see if they will engage in mutually-beneficial trade?
What can readers expect in book six, Covert Alliance?
New Earth evolves into a parliamentary, monetary-based democracy. The Resource Allocation Plan basically becomes an elaborate budget. Life is good until a benevolent alien race initiates a face-to-face meeting on New Earth’s moon. The aliens ask testing questions to evaluate whether human beings are worth saving. Thankfully, they decide to alert the leaders of New Earth to an imminent threat from a malevolent alien race, one that pursues them relentlessly. The good aliens share some of their advanced technology, and a plan to combat the evil bunch known as the Masters. A fierce battle in space ensues, and then a covert attack on a Master-controlled planet using robotic spaceships and biological warfare. In other words, more traditional sci-fi stuff!
Tube Dwellers is a fun sci-fi novel following an average couple that are the unlikely heroes of an intergalactic space adventure. What were some new ideas you wanted to introduce in this book that were different from the preceding novel?
Tube Dwellers will be the fourth book in the Master Defiance series when Martian Hermitage is published (shortly?). The first three books in the series are set on Earth, Moon and Mars, and trace the demise and resurrection of human civilization, in spite of natural and man-made calamities, and an attempted invasion by an alien race, the evil Masters. The last three books in the series, starting with Tube Dwellers, trace the migration of some brave human beings to New Earth, where a new civilization emerges in spite of many challenges, and again, an attack by those nasty old Masters. New Earth is 106.6 light years from Earth, so the adventures are interstellar in breadth, not intergalactic. Still, the book does not indulge in the fantasy of faster-than-light travel. The 84-generation journey to New Earth takes 2538 years at 4.2% light speed.
I enjoyed how authentic Smitty and Tara were. What were some ideas that guided you while creating their relationship?
I took a bit of inspiration from a 1973 Canadian sci-fi series, The Starlost. It was low budget, and poorly crafted, but the setting was a generation spaceship, lost in space. The characters are naïve and Amish-like, and discover to their horror that they live on a spaceship that is headed for a star and total destruction. While not Amish-like, Smitty and Tara are everyday working-class people, who transition by necessity from doubting conformists to inspirational leaders. Tube World provided people like Smitty and Tara with pioneering skills so they could have the best chance for survival in the wilderness of New Earth. A basic problem with interstellar travel at sub-light speed is how do you deliver people with pioneering skills to another world? Frozen embryos ain’t going to cut it. Suspended animation or hibernation for 84-generations? Doubtful, without genetic modification like the tri-variant Masters engage in.
I appreciated the technical explanations of different complex concepts throughout the book. How much of it was made up and how much of it was derived from your career as a Canadian oil and gas engineer?
I worked in harsh, remote areas during my oil and gas career with lots of interesting, hardy people. I lean on that experience, and my engineering knowledge, when I write. Many aspects of the Second Chance generation spaceship are within the realm of possibility. The sheer size of the beast is a stretch, but necessary to sustain a healthy gene pool of 10,000 people for 84-generations. Building it in only 100 years or so is a stretch. A ‘magnetoplasmadynamic drive’ (massive ion propulsion system) has been theorized but is definitely a stretch. Building a spaceship that still works after 2538 years is a stretch. Travelling through space at ‘only’ 4.2% light speed is risky business. Space is not as empty as we once thought. You can run into rocks out there! The Oumuamua interstellar asteroid that just visited our solar system is proof of that.
What can readers expect in book five, Tube Survivors?
The pioneers on New Earth are determined not to repeat the mistakes made on Earth. They are naïve in many ways, but they stay true to their principles. They do some exploring by circumnavigating their continent in a catamaran sailboat. They discover to their horror that New Earth is not the pristine wilderness they were anticipating. It has been visited before by other alien races. And then those darn Masters show up again…
Master Defiance follows the survivors of a post-apocalyptic earth who must defend themselves against invading aliens. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?
I wanted to suggest that human beings can survive a series of natural and man-made disasters. The setting is a dystopian Earth, but humans are still humans. The hunter-gatherers in the remote regions are toughing it out. But they need a little help from the past. Far-thinking ancestors have left behind Mother, a benevolent AI entity, and a vast store of knowledge. Young bow hunters discover and befriend Mother during a desperate quest for help. Mother helps them with advice, and she can defend herself, much to the surprise of the arrogant Masters.
The Masters were intriguing and well developed characters. What were some driving ideals behind their development?
While I appreciate that faster-than-light travel sets up amazing sci-fi story possibilities, my books try to stay within the realm of the possible. Master Defiance suggests that intelligent beings can explore (and try to conquer) our galaxy at say 4% of light speed, if they are adapted (or genetically modified) to living for eons in a generation spaceship. This means vast expanses of time are required to move between stars, which could frustrate fans of ‘super warp speed’ using ‘ludicrous drive’ (a Spaceballs invention). The Masters are further developed during the series, as they are vindictive and persistent. They are also a tri-variant species, as revealed in Covert Alliance. And they view human beings as inferior, and only good slave material after gene-splicing. So, they are creatures that readers will love to hate!
I liked the contrast between the advanced aliens and the regressed humans. How did you want to represent this dichotomy?
Yes, the humans are technologically regressed, but they have retained their humanity. Yes, the Masters are technologically advanced, but they are inhuman. They view other worlds as theirs to conquer, and other species as theirs to enslave. Fighting the Masters is about saving our species, and about saving our humanity.
What do you try to do first when you write, inform or entertain?
Entertain a thinking person.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: adventure, author, author interview, Blair Wylie, book, book review, bookblogger, dystopia, dystopian, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, Master Defiance, nook, novel, post-apocalyptic, postapocalyptic, read, reader, reading, science fiction, scifi, story, suspense, thriller, writer, writing
Tube Survivors by Blair Wyle is about a carefully selected group of people who are now residents of “New Earth”. They face the trials and tribulations of getting accustomed to the new planet, along with the social and societal turmoil that comes with this unprecedented situation. Not only are they making their best attempt at survival, they also face strange new challenges: a fragile ecosystem, a pandemic capable of wiping out a whole species, and a psychopathic criminal on the loose.
The exploratory and adventurous tone of the book allows it to grow beyond being a typical science fiction narrative. The discussions between Abubaker and Ishikawa were especially interesting: they debate on which way they want the society to progress, ultimately rejecting a capitalistic model for one that empowers human potential. Even though some of the dialogue seemed a little idealistic and unlikely, it was still refreshing to see a science fiction book that doesn’t take a cynical or dystopian view of the world. Everything from rehabilitation of prisoners to resource allocation plans are presented with striking clarity. It made me reevaluate our systems on Earth and why things work the way they do.
There were a lot of topics discussed that would be considered political or controversial in today’s world. All these topics are effortlessly intertwined with the happenings on New Earth. The scientists and councillors work in a systematic and efficient manner to reach the root of problems and solve them one at a time.
This was a dense but an enlightening read. It presented a bleak view of our future if things continue the way they are, but also provided a believable version of our world that could be achieved with beautifully simple steps. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to take a break from the generally disillusioned tone of dystopian literature without compromising on the magic of science fiction.
Pages: 368 | ASIN: B07ZJH8YWB
Tube Dwellers by Blair Wylie is a wholesome sci-fi adventure following the lives of Smitty and Tara of a planet known as Tube World. They become entangled in a mission to establish a ‘minimum viable population’ on New Earth, because the earth as we know it was ravaged by humans. A daunting mission is undertaken to transport a spaceship known as Second Chance to New Earth and create a new settlement there. Smitty and Tara are drawn to this opportunity, as it allows them to settle and have the big family they want in a world far away from their authoritarian planet.
One of the main merits of this book was the nature of its main characters: Smitty and Tara were such grounded and fun characters. Their ambitions weren’t necessarily wild- they just wanted to continue living their happy, fulfilling, and pretty low-key married lives. That’s what made their journey more special: unlikely averages in an extraordinary situation. And they definitely did behave like average people in that situation- complete with blunders and humor in the face of distress.
The premise of the story was similar to one of my favorite dystopian novels: A Brave New World. Here, authorities known as the Council suppressed all questions about the system and encouraged people to go about the jobs that were selected for them; even a baby could not be borne without obtaining prior permission. The dissenting Tube Dwellers were known to “disappear” But that’s where the similarities end and an intergalactic, character-driven space adventure begins.
Although the science behind it was a little mind-boggling and I wasn’t entirely sold on all of it, it was still immensely entertaining. Can’t have science fiction without the fiction. The author, however, is clearly knowledgeable and invented and explained complex concepts involving gravity, structural engineering, and geology with elegance and simplicity.
It was amusing to read about Earth from the perspective of non-Earth inhabitants. The description of seasons and tides and flora and fauna made me do a double take at my surroundings. This was a decidedly uplifting story without being too preach-y. It made me smile and want to go about my day with a little more enthusiasm and gratitude- and I’d recommend it to anyone who also wants to feel the same way.
Pages: 258 | ASIN: B07H9BQ6P7
Tags: adventure, author, Blair Wylie, book, book review, bookblogger, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, science fiction, scifi, space adventure, story, suspense, thriller, Tube Dwellers, writer, writing
The premise of Master Defiance is what gripped me from the start: the striking dystopian idea of humanity that has regressed back to the way it was before technology, and are now called hominids. It starts with an alien species attempting to invade this post-apocalyptic Earth in order to set up a colony. The lives of Earth inhabitants are also threaded together with the impending attack. An inevitable but thrilling fight follows between the two species as they battle it out, with the hominids depending heavily on their wits and the limited resources of their environment.
The details of the spaceship Commander and its inhabitants (known as Masters) were extremely intriguing. It was also disarming and fun to hear Earth described from the perspective from an alien species. Even though I may be aware of the general science facts about it, it’s still a little jarring to think about how an alien species may choose their attack based on the region of maximum density of vegetation because it implies most human density.
The activities of these hominids are shown: from hunting and gathering, to bartering and creating shelters. It was a great idea to contrast traditionally sci-fi elements with historical and more adventurous ones. The contrast between the sci-fi nature of the aliens and the regressed state of humanity was refreshing and made me think about how humanity would defend itself, were it not equipped with the tools and technology that we have today. Not only from aliens, but also pandemics, pests, famines, and other dangers. Although it was fascinating to read about these hominids, I felt like the book could make do with less talk about the various characters; I felt like I didn’t really care for Bill and Ned as the author might have wanted me to.
I thought the ending was immensely satisfying, if a bit didactic. It’s perfect as a slow-burner, as I could feel myself getting increasingly invested in the lives of these characters and thinking about the plot itself. It’s a deeply entertaining read and I would recommend it to any fans of dystopian science fiction.
Pages: 322 | ASIN: B07BG9PXGX
Wolf Slayer is a thrilling blend of dystopian science-fiction, adventure, and political intrigue. What served as the inspiration behind the idea for this book?
The current political turmoil in the US is disturbing. Democracy is threatened globally by fascist oligarchs and autocrats. I believe most people are good, and would do something about it if they had the chance. My tale gives such a person that opportunity. I also wanted to show how bad things can get if we do not change our ways, and how humanity can tough it out and survive, like it has done throughout our history. The book is also the lead-in to a series of books where more threats will emerge, and where more everyday hero’s are given the chance to shine, like Matt Adams.
Matt Adams is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?
I was thinking of the hero Winston Smith in Orwell’s 1984. Matt is caught up in an oppressive political system. He comes to recognize it as evil, and he feels shame for the people he has killed while fighting for his country. His country mistreats him as a veteran, but in the midst of a terrible economic depression, gives him a dangerous job spying on a rebel organization. The organization opens his eyes further, and gives him the chance to really make a difference. Matt grows further as he escapes and flees to his native wilderness of Quebec. He meets the woman of his dreams, and the political system changed by his actions lets them live in peace. So, unlike Winston Smith, Matt fights Big Brother (a.k.a. Uncle Ernie), and Matt wins.
The story takes place in a dystopian future. What were some themes you wanted to focus on when creating this future world?
Climate change and over-population will destroy our world if unchecked. The 1% wealthy run our world, and always seem to win. They will always fight wars over turf, accelerating the end of civilization. But ultimately, the skilled hunter-gathers in remote regions will be the survivors. And with a bit of forethought and investment, we can arm the survivors with a cache of knowledge to re-build a better world.
This is the first book in the Master Defiance series. What can readers expect in book two?
Book Two will be titled ‘Martian Hermitage’. Earth continues to decline, and natural calamities wipe out the last vestiges of civilization. The people in Moon Base are stranded, but they have been secretly preparing for an exodus… to Mars. Mars is a dry, sterile, hostile place, but it has more life-giving resources than the Moon for tough, ingenious people. But Mars is not as it seems. It has been visited before, by a noble race fleeing an evil alien race. And so, the ‘Masters’ are introduced to the series, and more hero’s will be needed…
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