XHOSETI: AD 2492 is the second novel in your Xhoseti series where the Guardians must prepare humans for the coming war against the Xhoseti. What were some ideas that were important for you to explore in this novel?
The idea for the books started when I was in South Africa over a few beers with my father who was convinced that the human race had come from another galaxy and that there were 7 tribes who had been sent to Earth to see if we can co-exist with each other. This is an ongoing experiment as there is a galactic eternal war happening between many different species and they are at a stalemate. Project Earth is what I am writing about, and as such will terminate in the end of the experiment – eventually…
You give a new perspective to human history in a way that leads to one goal; preparing humanity for the coming war. Where did this idea come from and how did that develop while writing?
In the story, the human race has colonised a planet approximately 12000 light years from Earth namely, Termite, and they have discovered a future prediction machine which the Freemasons on that planet use to prepare for a war with the Xhoseti. They know they will lose the war and need to come up with a plan ‘B’ if mankind is to survive, so they head of to Earth. Which they have already tried to colonise one in the past and failed, another story in the wings.
Was this book a natural extension of book one Xhoseti Moon or did come after you finished the first book?
I have unfortunately sent the books to Literary titan in the wrong order. The first novel is the start of the story and is Xhoseti First Contact, which I might add is still to be reviewed. So the Xhoseti Moon story is a follow-on from Xhoseti AD2492 which in turn is a sequel to Xhoseti First Contact.
Will you write a third book in this series? If so, where will the story pick up?
The third or first book I will send through to you for review as soon as I get my a into g. I work as a full time piping stress analysis engineer and move around from country to country quite a bit, my apologies.
All that remains is to stop the wars and unite mankind against the Xhoseti when they arrive.
Will the Grand Master succeed with Plan “B” and finally create a united front against the insectoid invaders?
War advances man’s technology. As man advances, the Xhoseti become more empowered with every human they absorb.
Will man unite to defend the Earth against the Xhoseti or will their infighting be mankind’s downfall?
United man will survive…divided man will fall.
The eternal war between the two species wages on,one trying to survive the other trying to enslave… in the 2nd book in the Xhoseti series.
Aeon Rises follows Justin, an average teen, as he stumbles upon otherworldly beings that are trying to kill him. How did you come across this idea and how did it change as you were writing?
I wanted to write a story that would be fun for middle school or high school student to read. A scifi story with characters they could relate to and who they could identify with. Even though I was a secondary teacher for over thirty years, it had been a few years since I retired and I was sure some of the slang and habits of teens had changed some over that time. I enlisted the aid of a class of eighth graders to read portions of the story and give me specific feedback about the teens characters. Their feedback was incredible and guided my writing of those individuals in the story. The changes they suggested made the Justin, Kevin and Myah much more true to today’s teens.
Justin isn’t exactly an average teen, he has an aversion to most electronics. What were some obstacles that you felt were important to Justin’s character development?
Due to his inability to play video games or watch the same shows most others his age took for granted, Justin faced a fair amount of ridicule and bullying from his classmates, except for Kevin. I drew on my own experiences growing up being the brunt of several bullies, but I wanted Justin to rise above it and, though it still hurt, not give in to the abusers. He relied heavily on Kevin to get beyond it all, and then he learned about his abilities and his importance. That made everything else pale in comparison, even though he could not rub it in his tormentor’s faces. Aliens are a secret after all.
The Skutarans see Justin as a threat and want to destroy him. What were some sources of inspiration for you when creating their race?
I watch a lot of scifi movies and read a ton of scifi books as well. I simply took characteristics of evil aliens I have read or seen over the years and blended them into traits of the Skutarans: Arrogance, Hyper Ego, superiority complex, all combined with advanced alien technology. What more could you want in an evil overlord alien?
What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be published?
I have recently been recovering from a major surgery, which has affected my ability to focus on anything for long. It is only in the past few weeks I have been able to start thinking about a new novel. To get back into practice, I am working on a short story about ice miners on Europa, a moon around Jupiter. From there, I have an idea about fusing scifi and fantasy in a story about aliens digitized into a LOTR style movie who are discovered by a fan of the movie and their collaboration to rescue the aliens from the orcs, wizards, etc. and return them home again.
Justin Madrid always considered himself an average nerdy freshman in high school, and an outcast because intense migraines prevent him from playing video games or watching television. Even looking at a phone screen hurts. But when the aliens, disguised as local librarians, started trying to kill him, everything changed. And now it is up to Justin and his cool new power to save the earth from invasion.
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Space Rogues is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a science fiction, action, and adventure as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
Organically, I’m more pantster than plotter so the stories just sort of form as they go. In hindsight it makes sense, since as a reader, I’m drawn to similar stories.
Wil was an interesting and well developed character. What was the inspiration for his character and backstory?
Wil is a mix of TV scifi characters. Some John Crichton (Farscape), some John Jaqobis (Killjoys), and a healthy dose of Mal Reynolds (Firefly). I like the idea of the out of his depth character, just getting by. He’s smart, but in a completely foreign environment and even the smallest things is a huge learning curve.
I’m assuming you’re a fan of the space opera genre. What are some books in that genre that you felt most inspired this story?
One of my favorite genres to read for sure 🙂 Omega Force by Joshua Dalzelle, Ryk Brown’s Frontiers saga, Randolph LaLonde’s Spinward Fringe, and Jamie McFarlane’s Privateer Tales are kind of my top four, I devour every new book that’s released in these series.
This is the first book in your scifi series. Where will book two take readers?
I view each book as a sort of episode or movie, so I like to sprinkle in a little bit of “Stuff happens before the story starts; a weird mission the crew is talking about, etc. Book two finds the crew in another “Save the galaxy, even though no one asks them to” kind of scenario. I like using the crew to explore big ideas I have, and letting the story play out from their perspective.
Wil just wanted a crew for his ship.
He got a galactic conspiracy.
Wil Calder is a human, the only one to leave our solar system.
But that was years ago.
Now, he’s a lonely smuggler, looking for a crew, because space is lonely and boring.
Just a few folks to boss around once in a while, is that so much?
What he definitely isn’t looking for, a galactic conspiracy.
But that’s what he and his new crew find. They’ve just met each other and now they have to save the commonwealth from war, no big deal.
Does this untested crew and their entirely out of his depth human captain have what it takes?
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An otherworldly adventure awaits readers in the pages of Solstice by Braxton A. Cosby. The third book in a series starts off with a bang as readers are introduced, or reintroduced, to our protagonists Sydney and William. Theirs is a story for the ages as they defy distance and fate to be together. This epic saga will take readers on a journey through the stars and intertwine between lives and destinies. Come along as we watch our protagonists face their fears, develop who they are and take on what could be seen as an impossible undertaking. They aren’t alone and their friends will be there to help and support them every step of the way.
For those who are new to the series, the first few chapters might seem a little overwhelming. It’s clear that some major world-building was established in previous installments in the saga. There are some circumstances and terminology that readers will feel goes over their heads when they first bite into it. Not only does the story take place in outer space for a large portion, there are legends and transformations at hand that require a solid understanding about what has happened, in order to understand what will occur. The story is engaging and invites young readers to see themselves in the characters. We all go through some sort of metamorphosis as we develop into our adult selves. The transformation that Sydney undergoes could be likened to that. It’s just a bit confusing for new readers to understand the impact of previous events without reading about them.
If there has to be something to nitpick then perhaps the grammatical and stylistic errors that pop up ever so briefly would be the culprits. They aren’t startling enough to detract from the story, but a few rereads might be needed to make sense of what the sentence is supposed to say.
Cosby knows his craft and he knows his audience. It’s clear that he wrote this book for young adults as the language is easy and comfortable to read. The teens speak like real teenagers and ask the questions while speaking the frustrations that most teenagers might be too afraid to voice. It’s comforting to be able to read a book targeted to your age group and actually be able to identify with it. The fact that Cosby can share a point of view from the perspective of a young woman with just as much ease as sharing one form the view of a young man shows that he is dedicated to telling the best story that he can.
The space-odyssey of Solstice by Braxton A. Cosby is not a book to miss. It’s engaging and well written that readers of all ages will enjoy it. Young adults will get the most out of this book as they identify with the trials and tribulations our protagonists find themselves going through. While it might be confusing for new readers who have picked up this third book in the Star-Crossed Saga to understand what’s happening in the beginning, if you’re patient and devote your energy to this book, you will not be disappointed.
Pages: 317 | ASIN: B01LZ4OMHI
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Return of the Sagan follows a bookish young man as he wrangles his crew on a mission to save Earth and humanity. What served as your inspiration while writing this story?
As a prehistoric archaeologist, I have long dreamed of exploration of the cosmos and the past. My fieldwork centered on digging into the deep past for which no written records have surfaced. I can’t begin to explain how overpowering it is to uncover mysteries through digging and analyzing artifacts. It is a job that takes considerable time and patience as if you dig to deep, you can easily destroy valuable information. We only get one shot, so we have to be careful. For those interested in archaeology, I encourage them to see if local museums or colleges are operating excavations and having volunteer days – that way you can experience archaeology and avoid damaging/losing critical information. As for studying the cosmos, my wife already told me I can’t go to Mars 😞
As for the timing of the novel, my beloved Uncle Paul Leary was battling cancer so I wrote the story with him as a main character. He was able to read some of the story before he passed. My writing could never do justice to the lovely man that Uncle Paul had always been. We all miss him terribly.
Francis is a book worm that loves to quote his favorite authors. Is this an extension of yourself or did you have to research these quotes?
Totally me. Francis is named after my brother, Francis Aloysius O’Donnell. He was my parents’ first child who died at birth. I have often wondered what he would be like. Given my brother Ned and I (along with my sisters Moe and Sandi) can quote fantasy and scifi books all day long, it just seemed to fit that Francis would also be a bookworm like the rest of us. Mom and Dad were veracious readers and constantly encouraged us to read whenever we had the chance. Probably my favorite quote all-time is from Tolkien: “not all who wander are lost.”
The re-population of some of the world’s endangered animals was beautiful to visualize. What scenes did you have the most fun writing?
The mastodons and dire wolfs. I am a prehistoric archaeologist, and my specialty is in the woodlands of North Eastern North America. The people I studied lived side by side with Mastodons and the only reasonable prehistoric predator to suit the story, prehistory and climate was the dire wolf. After the book was published was when I saw Game of Thrones, a show I adore. I got the first season as a gift and then proceeded to watch the first three seasons over the course of two weeks. I then read the books after. I wish I would have encountered GOT before I wrote my novel as I would not have included dire wolves. I have referenced other extinct species from North America in my books before, particularly giant sloth, but for a predator in SAGAN, I would just conjure up something other than wolves because of GOT, though wolves are prehistorically accurate for the area and dire wolves would really be the only predator to fit the circumstances in the story. I did very much enjoy Francis’ stand on the bridge – total throwback to the Bridge of Khazad-dum. When I was a kid, my older brother Ned was devastated when Gandalf fell in the Fellowship of the Ring. Thankfully he read the next book quickly and was ecstatic to say the least. Gandalf’s stand was just so moving. When I got to the bridge standoff in SAGAN, I couldn’t help but make that connection.
Do you think you will write more stories about the crew of the USS Carl Sagan, or continue Francis’s story in some way?
I already have plans to write the story of the initial crew of the Sagan that left Earth centuries earlier. As for Francis, I have contemplated his leading the building of a ship and a subsequent sea voyage, but I have many other projects that need to be finished first.
300 years ago, USS Carl Sagan blasted off from overpopulated Earth in search of survival. Returning to Earth, the USS Carl Sagan finds humanity now extinct and Earth populated by deadly, once extinct pre-historic predators.
What disaster eradicated mankind? Was it man-made or of natural origin? One thing for certain: survival for the USS Carl Sagan and its crew will difficult at best, as while humans are no longer inhabit the Earth , they left behind deadly machines to guard the airspace against space invaders. The commander and the crew of the returning Earth ship will have to overcome those unexpected fool-proof sentries. And the machines are not the only obstacles for the travel-weary men and women of USS Carl Sagan to overcome. If they want to re-inhabit Earth.
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The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
Gold Award Winners
Silver Award Winners
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Beyond Yesterday, written by Greg Spry, is an intergalactic space adventure that sees Commander Maya Davis rise through the ranks to earn herself a spot driving her own space-time vessel. But the excitement is short lived as she discovers she is to be sent on a deadly mission due to a 200,000-year-old piece of tech that has unexplainable connections to her past. With her superiors informing her that she may never be able to return to the present, Maya must make decisions that could have terrible consequences for herself and the entirety of mankind. Will her choices erase the human race forever?
From the first page of Beyond Yesterday, I was instantly transported to space, to a world where vibrant colors glow atop of the islands, bots and AI’s make the majority of decisions and exotic algae and mold thrive. In the midst of space travel, there are humanistic problems such as allergies and drug issues which provide an almost humorous side to the in-the-future styled plot line.
At times the language was a little confusing as the entire world created in the novel was completely unique. However, once you got your bearings, it was easy to be lost in the new world and I quickly began to understand the locations, and labels for objects, plants, and people. One of my favorite futuristic parts of the storyline was how your health/body was instantly analyzed if you were injured and then you would automatically be injected with numbing agents or medications. With these advances, it’s no wonder their average lifespan is now 200 years. Imagine if we had this in the real world!
The battles against the Grey’s are fast and furious and they hit hard and heavy. There were aspects that reminded me a little of Star Wars and Stargate as they battled with androids and AI’s, commanders and advanced technology. Greg Spry’s ability to describe the mechanics and functions of technology in the future was impressive and I felt as though I was in the cockpit beside the characters as they battled in space.
It was refreshing to have two females leading the plot line in bravery and ambition, compared to the usual male domination presented in these styles of stories. Brooke is a sixty-year-old woman, a determined, head-strong admiral and accomplished fighter pilot. Her strength and focus is admirable as well as her ability to keep calm in situations of crisis, making her one of my favorite characters. Commander Maya Davis (Brooke’s niece) is clever, crafty and capable of strong leadership and guidance. She’s made incredible sacrifices to be in her position of power and continues to put the safety of others before her own- even if it comes at an irreversible cost.
I would recommend this for all lovers of space adventures and futuristic styled novels. It’s hard not to get lost in the book as you leave Earth to explore the world beyond.
Pages: 336 | ASIN: B073DY3QSZ
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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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Beyond the Horizon follows Ensign Maya Davis during humanity’s first interstellar exploration. When you first sat down to write this story, did you know where you were going, or did the twists come as you were writing?
Both / all of the above. Before I start writing a book, I always have a premise in mind. I usually have a good idea about how the novel will start and end. I pretty much know where I want to go because I have a high-level plan for the themes I want to explore in a given book series. However, even though I’m pretty clear on the beginning, end, and a handful of scenes in between, I don’t often know how I’m going to connect the dots until I’m in the act of writing.
For example, in Beyond the Horizon, I knew I wanted to use some clever aspects of time travel to drive and resolve some of the conflicts in the book. However, it actually wasn’t until the second or third draft that I came up with Maya’s clever realizations that help save the day. The rough draft of the story had a number of unresolved plot issues.
Maya gets a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore interstellar space while her aunt Brooke suffers with inner turmoil regarding her past. What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?
One of the fundamental tenants of my writing is to craft conflicts that pit morally-ambiguous agenda vs. morally-ambiguous agenda. I don’t write about good vs. evil because, in my opinion, that’s not representative of real life. Plus, good vs. evil is too black-and-white–too straightforward. Writing about the gray areas of life yield much more dynamic conflict.
One of the specific questions that underlies the theme of the books in the Beyond Saga is do the ends justify the means? It’s not a new dilemma, but it’s one that shall never have an easy answer.
The one thing that matters to Brooke as much as her career or flying is her niece, Maya. Thus, Brooke will stop at nothing to rescue her niece even though she has to take some morally questionable actions to accomplish that goal.
As for the Vril, the surreptitious terrorist organization manipulating things behind the scenes, they seek to ultimately save the human race. It’s not only a noble goal but a critical one. However, if the Vril intend to sacrifice another intelligent race to save mankind, is that taking things too far? Do humans deserve to survive any more than any other race? The catch phrase for the novel, “Extinction or genocide . . . us or them?” encapsulates this question.
In the face of all the moral ambiguity, Maya embodies the not-so ambiguous side of right. Shielded from the darker sides of society all her life by her Aunt Brooke, she believes in the good in people. She’s optimistic and excited about the future. The rest of the Beyond Saga is about her illusions being shattered. She has to find a balance between her optimism and doing what’s necessary when morally questionable acts are required for survival.
One thing I really enjoyed about this novel was the effort you put into describing the technological advancements. They were all interesting, ingenious, and well described. What was your favorite tech to write for and what was the inspiration?
There are quite a few pieces of fun yet plausible tech in the Beyond Saga. One of the reasons I write science fiction is because real possibilities for the real future are what get me excited.
For now, I’ll pick the wave gun. The handheld tool/weapon is definitely a next gen type of device. Powered by an antimatter battery, it’s capable of destabilizing/shattering matter at the molecular level, using sonic levitation to make things float, causing objects to spontaneously combust, and much more. The gun gets its namesake from how it uses different wave effects (sound waves, gravity waves, electromagnetic waves, etc.) to achieve its results.
The wave gun helps Maya out of some sticky situations in book 2, Beyond the Horizon. In book 3, Beyond Yesterday, the gun gains even greater significance because of what its capabilities could’ve been used for by aliens in Earth’s past.
Where does book three, Beyond Yesterday, in the Beyond Saga take readers?
Beyond Yesterday picks up ten years after the events of Beyond the Horizon. After Maya earns a promotion to captain, she takes command of the space-time vessel Yesterday and travels 200,000 years into the past to learn the origins of the piece of ancient human technology she found on an alien world (in book 2). Meanwhile, the consequences of Brooke’s spark (drug) use finally catch up to her. And the level of conflict between the two women reaches new heights as they take opposing approaches to the dilemma in the book.
Humanity’s First Interstellar Exploration
Ensign Maya Davis has had her sights set on the captaincy of a starship since she launched her first toy rocket into Earth orbit as a child. After four years of study at the new Interstellar Expeditionary Force Academy, Maya achieves her lifelong dream of exploring the stars. She earns a commission aboard humanity’s first deep space exploration vessel, New Horizons.
˃˃˃ A Desperate Situation
Not long after New Horizons departs the solar system, sabotage cripples the ship killing a third of the crew and stranding the expedition light years from home under the siege of hostile forces. Only junior officers are left to command the ship. Without knowing who she can trust, Maya must risk her life to get the crew home and prevent the genocide of the very exospecies New Horizons set out to contact.
˃˃˃ The Conspiracy Back Home
Forty-two-year-old civilian flight instructor Brooke Davis, Maya’s aunt and former UN Aerospace Defense pilot, receives a disturbing visit from a covert operative. The visit prompts Brooke to head to the Martian south polar ocean, where she learns how a secret society known as The Vril manipulated the current political and social climate into being. She also uncovers the society’s nefarious agenda regarding New Horizons’ voyage. With time running out, Brooke races to save her niece light years away.
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GROND – The Raven High is a sci-fi book set in the future where pollution has caused giant storms across the planet. What was your inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
I have a lot of inspiration sources, mostly the Golden Age Sci-Fi and the movie of the eighties, from the “Masking” of Henry Kuttner to Thing and Aliens. But most of all I was influenced by the old and almost forgotten Young Adult Sci-Fi – Earth Star Voyager. I saw it when I was at school, and loved much more than Star Wars. This should be a good sci-fi for teenagers – exciting, realistic, without superheroes, but with smart and courageous heroes. And it was Earth Star Voyager that I first saw the idea of a catastrophic climate change and the search for salvation in space. I was so pleased that I decided to create the same story. The same, but completely my own. No sooner said than done.
I recently reviewed Earth Star Voyager for the first time in twenty years. And he’s still good.
So, if you are looking for inspiration for a great space adventure – you are welcome.
Olga’s nanny is an android that I genuinely started to care for towards the end of the novel. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?
Creating Olga, I wanted to get rid of two obsessive stereotypes of teenage literature.
Firstly, the main character isn’t the despised loser or ordinary schoolgirl, who suddenly finds herself in the center of the universal conspiracy.
Secondly, Olga’s superhuman abilities don’t fall on her in one fine morning, free and without consequences. There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch in her world.
The image of Arina combines the features of an ideal mother and ideal teacher. She really loves Olga, so, when necessary, she can be very strict and demanding of her ward, otherwise, Olga won’t stand the load of enormous responsibility.
The story is set in a post-apocalyptic future where the Earth is ravaged by pollution. What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?
Morality is very simple – dreams and good intentions won’t change the world for the better. But the world can be changed for the better by persistent daily work. There are thousands of brave book heroes who save the world by simply believing in themselves and accomplishing a great feat in the battle against the system. Olga also saves the world, but in a completely different way – just goes on the next shift at her space plant. Day by day.
This story was written in Russian and translated to English. What were the challenges you faced when translating?
Most of the difficulties were caused by two things – compliance with the size of phrases and slang expressions, to which it is hard to make a direct translation.
The Raven High is book 1 in the GROND series. Where does book two take the story?
In fact, the GROND story begins with the second book, GROND: The Blitzkrieg. And at the beginning of this story, Olga will be forced to leave her orbital home, join the gang of space mercenaries and take part in the brutal war of the Martian colonists for independence. It’ll be cool!
In the year 2086, Earth is exhausted. The seas have been emptied, the bedrock and soil stripped of their resources, and the superheated atmosphere churns with terrible storms. Those who can afford to do so live in the limbo of virtual reality, and the billions who suffer in poverty have no work, no clean water, and no security from the chaos.
The only hope for those trapped on a dying Earth are the Changed—the seven bioengineered post-humans who work in their separate manufacturing facilities orbiting high above the planet. Raised from birth for their work and fully matured at ten years old, their genius provides the nanomaterials that have begun to cleanse Earth of the pollutants that have wiped out almost the entire ecosphere.
But for Olga Voronov, youngest of the Changed, the isolation and endless toil are not the greatest of her challenges. Down on Earth there are those who resent and fear her talents—and would prefer that humanity not be given the second chance that only she could make possible …
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