Ken Cressman’s book, Intrepid, is a futuristic adventure set mostly in space. We follow main character, Justin Thorn, and his engineer friend, Steven Wilson, as they take on a mission they never could have seen coming. Wars have broken out over race, religion, and even sports teams, dividing the United States. Martial Law has been declared. Military branches have dissolved, and the leftover scraps have been joined together to form the Military Defense Force. Justin, a former MDF pilot, has an anti-gravity capable ship named Pegasus pieced together from former military aircrafts, and the feds want it. Justin won’t let his ship leave without him. He volunteers to set out toward Mars. The mission is unclear. They will either fix faulty communication devices, rescue the nine people on the planet, or retrieve bodies. One of the nine is Justin’s ex and the love of his life, and all they know is there has been no communication between Mars and the Space Agency for months.
This is an edge-of-your-seat kind of book. Whatever can go wrong, does go wrong. A whole different set of obstacles is present during space travel than here on earth. Gravity, anti-gravity, air pressure and breathability, depleting food and fuel levels, meteor showers. It seems like every time things start going smoothly, something goes catastrophically wrong. Between Justin and Steven, they might as well have MacGyver on board though. They put their heads together to take on every problem that arises. The problems leave you woeful for the exhausted characters, but it keeps the excitement high. Risks are high, but so are rewards.
Justin is a loveable character. He is sort of a self-made man. He was a pilot with the military, but is now self-employed. He has taken advantage of the latest technology, and has built a ship equipped with anti-gravs (anti-gravity). He basically has formed a transport service, zooming goods around the globe. He does have space experience, and that comes into play when the Mars mission presents itself. He is also loyal. He doesn’t want to take the job if it means leaving Steven, his engineer and general know-it-all and problem-solver, behind. He also feels the need to be part of the team that goes to check on Kelsey, a member of the Mars research team who is also his former girlfriend and current love. Justin bravely puts his life on the line more than once for the good of the crew and the mission.
The book is packed with cutting-edge futuristic technology. Maia is also on board. Maia is an artificial intelligence computer system. Maia is ever-present and a pivotal tool when obstacles arise. Cressman does an excellent job of explaining the more technical parts of the book, including Maia. Technological advances are broken down where someone who is not scientifically or technically inclined can understand everything easily.
The element of the unknown also plays a big role in Intrepid. Space is vast and unimaginable without a million problems. The crew has no idea what they will find when they get to Mars. Will the research team all be dead? Will they find anything at all? Will there be a simple fix to their communication equipment? Will they walk into some sort of ambush? Will anyone make it back to Earth alive? The reader will find themselves questioning every next step as they follow the crew on their mission.
Ken Cressman makes everything so relatable and readable. It is technical at times, but the technology is effectively explained. I was all but biting my nails as the story progressed. I’d like to read more Cressman work.
Pages: 286 | ASIN: B07BB6R7YR
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Pegasus follows captain Thorn as he and his crew embark on a fateful trip that will leave their ship sabotaged. What were some themes that you felt were important to highlight in this story?
This story is set about a hundred years in the future after a series of global conflicts that has destroyed governments and devastated the natural environment. But it’s not a bleak, dystopian future. My main viewpoint was that after things settle down, the Earth begins to heal itself and the survivors find a way to work together to make the world a better place. But people being people, there are still those who want to exploit the environment for their own gain. This is what’s happening on the moon, and it’s the discovery of this damage that drives the story. At one point, Thorn is standing on the moon looking at Earth; this beautiful, fragile, and completely unique jewel in the vast blackness of space, and he realizes how precious it is. It’s the only home we’ve got, and we’ve got to protect it. The theme is further explored on a smaller scale as this crew of very different people realize they have to work together if any of them are to survive.
Thorn is a laid back, hard-on-his-luck man full of quirks and a relatable backstory. Was there someone that served as inspiration for his character? How did he change as you wrote the story?
This is the first in what I hope will be a series of books. In my other series, David Larkin is the nearly perfect hero; smart, strong, brave, and almost always right. My wife observed that Larkin is who I want to be, and Thorn is who I really am. She might have a point. Thorn doesn’t consider himself a hero; he’s just a guy trying to do a job. He is sometimes selfish, sometimes cranky, and resentful of these people he’s forced to live with in a very confined space. But over the course of the story he comes to appreciate the different skills that these people can contribute to their mutual survival, and when he loses a crew member, he is truly touched and deeply saddened.
Steven Wilson, a huge part of the success of Justin Thorn’s mission, is a character I would like to see further developed. What was your initial idea behind his character and where do you see him going in the future?
Thorn readily admits that he doesn’t have a lot of technical knowledge, and Steven contributes skills that Thorn lacks. He’s a bit of a geek, very smart, with a lot of knowledge and a creative way of applying it. He’s the brains of the outfit. In their second adventure together, Steven will once again find a creative solution to a life-threatening situation to hopefully save everyone.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
My next book is entitled Intrepid, and this time Thorn and Steven are going to Mars to attempt to rescue the scientists at the outpost there. But when they arrive, things go horribly wrong and the survivors must find a way to get their crippled ship back to Earth, millions of miles away. It should be out by the end of the year.
Captain Justin Thorn is hired to transport equipment and supplies to a mining colony on the moon. When they arrive, Thorn and his crew discover a shocking secret that could jeopardize all life on earth. On their return ship they find that their ship has been sabotaged, leaving them unable to return to Earth without burning up in the atmosphere. Trapped in orbit and with time and air running out, they attempt a daring maneuver that could either save their lives or kill them all.
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Pegasus, by Ken Cressman, is the story of Justin Thorn’s revelations about a mining company working from a base on the moon and the fateful trip endured by his crew of five unlikely and unassuming heroes. Thorn himself is a laidback, hard-on-his-luck man given to long stretches of solitude. When he is offered a single job transporting cargo to the tune of six months’ his normal income, he is unable to turn it down. As he assembles his crew and prepares for their journey to the moon, Thorn cannot fathom the ways in which his life and the lives of his crew will change over the course of what is supposed to be a ten-day venture.
Cressman, as always, has handed readers a memorable main character full of quirks with a relatable backstory. Justin Thorn, throughout this first-person narrative, reveals much about his fears and suspicions in addition to regrets about his history with Kelsey, his lost love. I found myself rooting for a Justin and Kelsey reunion from the first mention of her name. As I continued to read, however, I believe Justin’s lone wolf type character is much more suited to the vagabond lifestyle with no romantic ties. Cressman has drawn his main character exceptionally well.
I am always amazed at the amount of technical knowledge Cressman incorporates into his plots. What I find more astounding is that he manages to successfully describe complicated procedures with ease for even the most clueless reader. Cressman is a master at making these aspects of his writing readable and enjoyable. I am always able to successfully visualize his characters’ technical challenges.
Steven Wilson, a huge part of the success of Justin Thorn’s mission, is a character I would like to see further developed. As far as the ins and outs of flight and space travel, Steven is the brains of the operation. His backstory involves an inordinate amount of time sustaining himself on library books during the Armageddon-type setting of his youth. He is self-taught, self-assured, and dead-on in all his predictions. He could easily grow into a regular character.
The imagery created in Pegasus is quite stunning. Justin Thorn reveals bits and pieces of his past and describes both a commune and a scene rivaling any dusty and dried up town in the old West on the verge of becoming a ghost town. Where his characters also describe the invention of anti-gravity units powered by sapphires and ships owned by private citizens equipped for multiple trips to the moon, Cressman keeps things grounded with snapshots of struggles here on Earth following the collapse of nations as we know them.
Cressman offers a science fiction piece for both fans of the genre and readers who may wish to experiment with something outside their comfort zone. The author ties up loose ends quickly in less than 200 pages but does seem to open the door to more books with Justin Thorn and his beloved ship, Pegasus.
Pages: 160 | ASIN: B0101DHBLQ
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Becoming Samantha Colt is book 4 in the Larkin and Colt series. What did you want to accomplish in this book that pushed the series into interesting places?
When I began this series, I developed a detailed backstory for the main characters of Larkin and Colt. It was just for myself, so I would know who these people were, where they came from, and how they got to be who they were. Over the course of the first three books, I made passing allusions to some of the things in their past, like Larkin mentioning that Colt grew up homeless, their team being wiped out on a botched mission, things like that. Larkin also occasionally mentions some of the missions they’d done, if it happened to relate to something that was happening in the present. I never intended to write a detailed account of their pasts, but eventually it became inevitable. I felt the need to tell Sam’s story from her point of view, in her own words, to more fully explore the character. It was also an opportunity to fill in some of the details of things that had been mentioned in passing.
What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
Through the process of writing the other books, the character of Colt became clearer in my mind as I found out more about her. In the end, she wanted to have her story told, and I just had to do it. Once I started, the story almost seemed to write itself, as if she was telling it to me and all I had to do was write it down. I had the starting point and I knew where she ended up, so what I had to do was fill in the details of how she got there. With this book the story comes full circle, as the final chapter is identical to an early chapter in the first book, but this time told from her perspective.
Samantha is a strong character that is meticulously developed. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?
Many people who have read the books have said they were intrigued by the Samantha Colt character. Some have even said she was their favorite and wanted to know more about her. I had deliberately kept her sort of in the background, to make her more mysterious, and to keep her personality somewhat ambiguous. She was the main hero’s partner and sidekick, but there was always the sense that you weren’t quite sure what she would do. I think it made her seem just a little bit dangerous.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
I am currently working on a book entitled Intrepid. It’s a sequel to my previous book Pegasus, which is set about a hundred years in the future. In the previous book, the crew of Pegasus traveled to the moon and back. This time they’re going to Mars, and when they get there things go horribly wrong. Then they’ve got to figure out a way to get their crippled ship home before their food and air run out. It’s kind of a cross between The Martian and Apollo 13, and it should be out sometime in the Fall.
A nameless, homeless girl grows up on the streets of Baltimore. From a painfully young age she must learn to take care of herself, feed and clothe herself, and defend herself from those who would do her harm. When she’s arrested for shoplifting as a teenager she’s recruited by a mysterious organization, where she meets David Larkin and everything changes. He becomes her teacher, her mentor, her partner and eventually her best friend. This is the fourth book in the exciting Larkin and Colt adventure series, this time told from her perspective, in her own words, as she learns who she is, what she can do and who she can become.
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Ken Cressman, author of Becoming Samantha Colt, has succeeded in creating a character who evokes both pity and something dangerously close to reverence. A “Jane Doe” in every sense of the word, Colt makes her way through life the only way she knows how and does so from a frighteningly young age. Surviving on her own for almost ten years, she educates herself, uses the nooks and crannies within Baltimore’s streets and stores to find refuge, and is virtually oblivious to the passing of time. Colt’s life is forever changed not once but twice when she accepts a job offer from the mysterious Ralph Browning.
Becoming Samantha Colt captivated my attention within the first lines of paragraph one. Ken Cressman’s main character is gradually revealed as Chapter 1 unwinds. He skillfully describes a character I visualized as the polar opposite throughout his opening chapter. The sudden revelation about her age and gender are extremely powerful and spur the reader to continue. Cressman, several times throughout the book, keeps the reader in check by revealing vivid descriptions of self-named Samantha Colt. I loved the tiny adjustments I was forced to make in my visualization of the character. Colt is as strong a character as I have ever seen–strong in both the skills Cressman has given her via his writing and strong as in memorable.
Cressman’s first-person narrative is truly compelling. I found his description of Colt’s life on the streets breathtaking. Her struggle to teach herself to read is touching and true-to life. She states, “No one was going to teach me, so I had to teach myself.” Environmental print plays a huge part in her self-education–learning from street signs, advertising, and packaging–she succeeds. Colt’s description of the effort involved in maneuvering the intricacies of the English language is spot-on.
Readers are allowed to see Colt experience a myriad of firsts, thus adding to the appeal of her story. From her first car ride to her first sexual experience, Cressman has included it all. My heart ached for the young girl when she realizes that she is sleeping on clean sheets and has clean clothes for the first time.
The suspense and action Cressman has developed fascinated me from beginning to end. Becoming Samantha Colt is much more than the story of how a young girl survives despite being one of Baltimore’s young “Jane Does.” Her natural survival skills make her the ideal candidate for a job and extensive training with a mysterious group of people working undercover for the FBI, the military, and other government entities. Somehow, Cressman has circumnavigated the typical avenger-type action plot and created a crystal-clear, endearing character in Samantha Colt.
I feel that Colt’s first-person account is compelling and contains all the right elements to make it appealing to a variety of readers. Cressman has succeeded in writing an action story without excessive cursing and vulgarity which I appreciate as a reader. I would like, however, to have seen more character development with Larkin and Cora. Both were strong influences in Colt’s newfound family. This is a definite reread for me, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a fast-paced book with a memorable main character.
Pages: 162 | ASIN: B01MT8IICG
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A page turner from start to finish, Sins of the Father is a captivating adventure that kept me wonderfully entertained. Almost a decade ago, notorious drug kingpin Francisco Salazar was taken down by a crack unit. His empire fell, and for years remained in ruin. Now his son, Ramon, is grown and ready to take on his father’s mantle. This is where we join David and Samantha, a pair directly involved in the elimination of Salazar Sr., as they undergo a mission spanning several countries, with the task of bringing down Ramon and destroying the Salazar empire for good.
I appreciate a book that can capture my attention. With this book, Ken Cressman is able to do just that. The very first chapter brings you into the fray as you struggle through a home invasion, and from there the action ramps up. The world is filled with vibrant and unique characters, from the main duo: David Larkin and Samantha Colt, to the variety of interesting supports, I never once found myself wanting for more. My personal favourite was a DEA Agent named Scott Bowman, whose dry humour kept me smiling throughout even the darkest of scenes. There was a sense of real, tangible rapport between each of the characters that sucked me in, with realistic, intelligent dialogue. That being said, I would sometimes find that the characters never strayed too far from their stereotype. The cocky DEA agent, the classic Colombian kingpin, it could all feel a little too generic at times. Now, this isn’t necessarily a problem, (I mean, who doesn’t love slick detectives?), but straying away from the herd wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Each character was well developed, but it all seemed to happen behind the scenes instead of right in front of me. I was being told who a character was instead of being shown.
As an avid reader, I need something that can keep me entertained. That’s something that Cressman has complete success with. The story takes Larkin and Colt through a variety of settings, from the thriving city of Miami to the lush jungles of Colombia. Every time I found myself settling down, becoming too comfortable, there will be a sudden shift in dynamics and the scenery will take a drastic shift. Cressman’s attention to detail brings each location to life, and it felt like I was alongside these characters every step of the way, whether it be bundled in the trunk of a car, or sneaking through the halls of a cargo ship. The pacing of the plot is rhythmic, with perfectly timed twists and turns, culminating in a satisfying conclusion that will leave you eager for more.
Ken Cressman has crafted an intense adventure story that is consistently entertaining.
Pages: 151 | ASIN: B01G3UZKLY
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