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A storm is coming…

Rob  Bartlett
Rob Bartlett Author Interview

The Calla’cara Gambit follows Milo who finds himself being blackmailed into helping the Sentient Ships emancipate from the Empire. What were some sources that informed this novels development?

Milo’s story is about everyone who’s ever had to navigate the thicket of laws and regulations in a “civilized” society. Especially when something is legally allowed but the people in power don’t want it to actually occur (like the Sentient Ship Emancipation). Once he’s blackmailed by the Sentient Ships and the Khan he has no choice; either he succeeds or his closest companion, Isaac, will end up confiscated by the Empire.

The structure of the Mercantile Empire is loosely based on the Hudson Bay Company and the East India Trading Company. They were commercial entities incorporated for political purposes by England. They existed to generate a profit for their shareholders but also had to provide governmental services. It allowed me to explore the concepts of a true “government by the customer”. And how someone might use the “system” against the people in power for their own goals.

Milo continues to be an engaging character throughout this book. What were some new ideas you wanted to introduce with his character in this book?

Does absolute power actually corrupt absolutely? How pragmatic is Milo willing to become in the furtherance of his goals? Can Milo develop relationships with the people he sends into harm’s way instead of just seeing them as pawns? And what is the impact on him when very negative things happen to them? Can he experience personal growth as a vampire? Can he learn to be an empathetic leader who’s still willing to make the very hard choices and what does that cost him?

What were some challenges you set for yourself as a writer with this book?

I wanted to tell a very complicated story with intricate plotting and multiple characters that captured the labyrinth of navigating the halls of power at the highest levels. I wanted to tell enough of their individual stories that the reader becomes emotionally invested but not so much that it slowed the story down. I wanted to tell it from all the individual viewpoints while maintaining Milo’s first person POV. My goal was twofold; what is the minimum amount of exposition necessary to advance the story in an engaging fashion and could I engage the secondary characters enough to make them meaningful to the reader? If a reader tells me one of the secondary characters is their favorite over Milo, I will feel I have succeeded.

What can readers expect in book three of the ​The War Against Infinity series?

A storm is coming…

1,000 years ago the Vampire Tribes left Earth, following Milo to the stars to escape the governments and technology of Earth that were getting close enough to positively confirm their existence. 500 years ago, Milo left the Wandering Tribes (as they named themselves) to their own devices, effectively abdicating his position. But since the First of the Vampires can only change hands following the death of the previous First, he’s still their titular head. Now he’s discovered he needs them to effect his plan to manage the various civilizations that make up the Mercantile Empire and the surrounds because he’s still the Chosen of the Most High and he still has to prevent the Adversary from winning the Bet with the Serene Supreme Deity and cause the Universe to get reset.

So he has to re-assume control of the Families that make up the Wandering Tribes. Then he has to persuade them to abandon their traditional secrecy and integrate into the various societies of the most powerful, influential Members of the Mercantile Empire and assume control; without actually taking over. It’s an interstellar mafia with Milo as the Godfather against the Mercantile Empire.

Because when the storm hits… all Hell is gonna break loose!

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Outwit the Empire. Rescue the girl. Don’t die!
I used to be an itinerant Star Ship Captain. Then the Sentient Ships blackmailed me into helping them Emancipate from the Mercantile Empire in return for keeping my personal AI a secret. I’m taking on bankers, lawyers and accountants, oh my! And a couple of serial killers have kidnapped my girl.
I’ve got a plan, a crew and a deadline. I’m gonna need precise execution, a little luck and a whole lot of moxy to pull this off!
Note: this book contains adult content and situations.

The Real Adventure Begins!

Blair Wylie Author Interview

Covert Alliance starts when a megalithic pyramid is discovered which sets off a series of dangerous events. How did the idea for the pyramid start and change as you wrote?

I took some inspiration from Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001 and 2010, and I suppose the pseudo-scientific folks on television known as ‘ancient astronaut theorists.’ Although at first the pyramid appears primitive, it proves to be a technological marvel that was obviously not built by humans. Like Clarke’s megaliths, among other things, the pyramid is a pointing device that when followed up on, alerts benign, very advanced aliens to the presence of another intelligent species (namely, the human beings on New Earth). And then the real adventure begins!

I enjoyed the depth of knowledge provided in this book. Do you do any research for your books before writing?

I do research, mostly using web-based material (Wikipedia is especially useful as a starting point). As I develop a story, I find my research becomes more intense, as I realize I may have gotten a few things wrong. The creative phase requires abstract thinking, and the review stage requires linear, self-critical thinking. Research and cross-checking is required throughout.

What were some challenges you set for yourself as a writer with this book?

I believe good science-fiction does not try to tell a reader what to think, rather it inspires a reader to do their own thinking. I also want to make the tale fun to read, full of adventure with twists and turns. I depend on my own judgement to evaluate if I get the balance right. And on reviews by Literary Titan of course!

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

The characters provide the grounding if I get it right. I want them to be recognizable people, with feelings and fears, aspirations and frustrations. If a reader puts themselves in a situation confronting one of the characters, that would be a big win for me.

Author Links: Website | GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter

When a megalithic pyramid is discovered on New Earth, it excites a great deal of attention from scientists and politicians alike. But when it becomes apparent that the pyramid may be linked to the Masters – an ancient and highly aggressive enemy – the military also start to take a close, and possibly unwelcome, interest.

Balancing the competing interests of scientists, politicians, the military and financiers falls on the shoulders of Prime Minister Phillip Wong. When evidence emerges that an unknown alien race has designed the pyramid to direct New Earth’s attention to a specific, unexplored moon in the Sol-system, Wong draws on his considerable political strengths to set up a top-secret deep-space exploration.

When a direct message from the alien race forecasts that the Masters are intent on the total destruction of New Earth, and that only their own highly-sophisticated technology can save the human population, Wong and his advisers must decide whether they can be trusted.

Professor Francis Maldonado, Lieutenant Colonel Nils Knudsen and Major Asher Weismann will take on the mission to meet with the aliens and determine the course of action. But the moon-mission is just the first step in a series of events that will erupt into a fierce battle for survival between the Warrior Masters and the human race…

Axel Lennart and the Ice World

Axel Lennart and the Ice World by [D.M.Z. Liyanage]

Axel Lennart and the Ice World is a fantastical story that will grab your attention from the first page and will refuse to let it go. Set on a distant ice world in a galaxy far away, we’re introduced to the saga of Axel Lennart, a typical Regime grunt who, through a twist of fate, finds himself caught up in the nefarious worlds of dark magic and space politics.

Journey along with Axel on his sweeping tale of discovery when a mysterious stranger connected to the past he once lost reemerges and starts wreaking havoc on everyone around the plucky protagonist. His troubles are just beginning, however, as he’s also tasked with finding an ancient weapon of mass destruction before it falls into the wrong hands. Between being relentlessly pursued by the Regime’s henchmen to the ends of the galaxy and back and fending off murderous space nomads, it’ll be a race to the finish that our hero might not survive.

Axel Lennart and the Ice World is a gripping page-turner from start to finish, filled with enough sprawling action and compelling characters, including several androids, to keep you invested for its sequel. The author, D.M.Z. Liyanage, does a phenomenal job of world-building that the settings and dialogue seem to jump off the page with a life of their own. The premise might not be so original -a wayward orphan uncovering his hidden legacy- but the plot is far from predictable, even when it goes over familiar science-fiction tropes.

Thankfully, the book is also jam-packed with action sequences that could easily rival those found in Hollywood blockbusters so there’s never a lag in the story’s momentum. This factor allows the adventure to unfold as grandiosely as space operas often need to, giving the narrative enough time to weave an enchanting odyssey that is equal parts fantasy and futurism.

Sure, there are a few scenes where things simply seem to happen because of plot convenience or where some twists seem to come out of nowhere. Still, just chalk it up to dark magic since these moments won’t be enough to entirely pull you out of the story’s mesmerizing spell or put you off reading it to the end. If you’re a fan of Star Wars but wish it featured a bit more sorcery or mysticism, don’t hesitate to pick up a copy of Axel Lennart and the Ice World today. You’ll be lost in the story before you know it!

Pages: 242 | ASIN: B08FQ272DR

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The Future of Galactic Humanity

Blair Wylie Author Interview

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!

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When a number of humans leave Tube World, their planet-like home, and move to a new and unknown planet they call New Earth, their leaders look forward to creating an idyllic new constitution that will address and rectify all the problems humans faced in their previous world.

But the Tribunal leaders, Abubakar, Ishikawa and Bahazhoni, after drawing up a working plan for their new constitution, realise that they will have to make sure that security in the form of food, and safety and assurance for all, must be the primary driver that underpins their constitution. Without safety and security, no noble ideals can or will be upheld.

So, they agree when seven people, including Captain Rasmussen, the chief engineer, Mercado the security officer, Clarke, and Fisher the scientist (plus their life partners) decide to build a boat and circumnavigate their new continent to find out what other life forms may live there, as well as conduct research into possible new and permanent food sources or find viable places for agriculture.

But no one can foresee what will transpire when Harvey, an unrepentant criminal, is turned loose to make his own way in the wilderness, banished from New Earth society.

What happens when he meets a tribe of humanoids in a village in the forest?

And how will this affect the team of scientists and researchers? What is it that they will stumble upon, a secret lost in the ancient history of this new land, that might turn out to be so deadly yet also prove so irresistible that they must investigate it?

The Voyages of Ralf, Vol. 1: The Arc of Purchaser

The Voyages of Ralf, Vol. 1: The Arc of Purchaser by [R.M. Kozan]

If you looked up “hapless” in the dictionary, chances are you would find a picture of Ralf, science officer with the Space Corps. He didn’t do things so much as things happened to him. It had been that way his entire life. However, the things happening to him seemed to escalate at an alarming rate during his service aboard the starcraft NOSFERATU. In an increasingly absurd series of events, Ralf finds himself repeatedly faced with the very real possibility of his demise, only to be saved time and time again by yet more absurdity. All that’s missing is a spiritual crisis, but Ralf will find that in due time as well.

The Voyages of Ralf, Vol 1 follows the reluctant protagonist on his travels as he traverses the universe, is brought aboard multiple ships, and serves on a variety of crews. Author R.M. Kozan displays a masterful use of language as he creates his story and uses wordplay reminiscent of Douglas Adams or a Monty Python sketch. Although the story is divided into three separate parts, they read as one linear story and the overall tones of absurdity and cynicism are nearly palpable even through the written word. At the same time, the variety of galactic species introduced throughout provides an ever increasing collection of characters that prevents the story from ever getting stale. Kozan walks a fine line between absurd and just plain nonsensical, and while he does occasionally slow down the narrative by veering into the territory of the latter, it’s never enough to completely derail the enjoyment of the book. Ralf himself is written in a way that almost seems paradoxical. He is clearly the main character and it was a pleasure to see where his adventures led next, but his bland and almost apathetic existence made it hard to feel much about him one way or another.

Although there are some religious undertones to the book, especially in parts 2 and 3, they are approached in the exact same ridiculous way as the rest of the story. It could probably be argued that the book is a satire about religious beliefs and the fact that they have caused so much strife throughout history. Despite that, it doesn’t come across as condescending.

Ralf’s voyages are so imaginative, it never faltered in its pace, and it kept things light hearted throughout. (Always a plus these days!) Not to mention, it was a healthy amount of bizarre and just plain fun to read!

Pages: 237 | ASIN: B08F4HV7NP

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Tube Dwellers

Tube Dwellers (Tube Dwellers Series Book 1) by [Blair Wylie]

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

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Literary Titan Book Awards September 2020

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.

Literary Titan Gold Book Award

Gold Award Winners

A Little Bit Extraordinary by Esther Robinson

A Saint and a Sinner by Stephen H. Donnelly and Diane O’Bryan

Literary Titan Silver Book Award

Silver Award Winners

Mountain Heat by Natrelle Long

Pandora’s Gardener by David C Mason

 

Visit the Literary Titan Book Awards page to see award information and see all award winners.

 

Power Without Responsibility

Rick Stepp-Bolling
Rick Stepp-Bolling Author Interview

The Battle for Imperiana follows Meesha and her allies as they uncover a plot to restart another war which threatens Imperiana. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?

In the first PATCH MAN book, I explained how the origins of the war between Imperiana and Summia began as a result of depopulation by the developer of the Labyrinth, Julius Gelfson. President Gelfson’s plan to destroy Summia is reminiscent of several of today’s world rulers who think power is the best way to get whatever they want, but power without responsibility, without compassion is simply a threat, and there will always be Meeshas of the world who will confront that threat.

Meesha is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some ideas that guided her character development?

Throughout the first three books of the PATCH MAN series, Meesha grows both chronologically and in her maturity. We see her as a young, one-armed girl in book one who is unflagging in her optimism, but in book two, like many teenagers, she is moody and controlled by her emotions. During these first two books, Var and Zefa, her adopted Father and Mother, guide her character’s development through their unconditional love. In book three, The Battle For Imperiana, she has matured, but her love for Ten becomes her driving force. She is both fiercely independent and emotionally attached, as I suppose many of us are.

I enjoyed the detailed and intricate world you’ve built in your Patch Man series. What were some themes that were important for you to capture in this book?

Two major themes are hard to miss: 1. War is destructive 2. Family can help us overcome adversity in life. Of course there are numerous subthemes as well. Balance is needed in any community if we are to live healthy, productive lives. In the book, this is shown through the loss of technological power and the rise of magical power. The Chunee are a good example of how a people have found balance in their lives. Another subtheme is a warning that children who play computer games all day may not interact well on the human level when they become adults.

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

Book four and book five have already been written, so I can talk to this question with some insight. Book four is Ulan’s backstory. It describes the forces and events that led her to become an assassin. Book five continues in Summia with Meesha expecting, but events soon have Meesha, Ten, Riata and Ulan thrown into a Doppelganger domain where they meet their opposites in a world no longer covered by desert but by oceans.

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With the war in Summia over, Imperiana becomes the new battlefield. Var arrives in Adriat hoping to convince President Gelfson to end his insane attempt to create an army of dead Imperialists and invade Summia to complete his plan of total genocide. Meesha, in an effort to save Ten, travels to Imperiana only to discover Moab has set a diabolical trap for her. Now she must choose between freeing Zefa, her adopted mother, or Ten, the love of her life. One will live and one will die.
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