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The Moral Dilemmas of a Character

Mike Waller
Mike Waller Author Interview

HAWK: Hellfire follows a galactic mercenary who is searching for justice on a remote colony world. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?

Many years ago I knew a returned soldier from Vietnam who often remarked on the regrets he had from his experiences. He had realized that the people who suffered the most from war were the innocents, the ones who neither wanted nor asked for it. When he came home he found it hard to put behind him, and found very little help to do so, and I always thought that would be a good basis for a story. My writing leans to Science Fiction and I found it easy to use that character in the Sci-Fi scenario. When I started writing Science Fiction I never intended to do Military Sci-Fi, but I seem to have lent that way. No other sub genre lends itself to exploring the moral dilemmas of a character as well.

Hawk is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?

Hawks journey is basically one to find his own moral foundation. From a wild childhood to the courts and then the military, he learns to become a supreme killer, at a time of life when he is ill prepared to deal with the moral and ethical consequences. There is war, and he simply does as he is commanded.

When the war is over, an older and wiser Hawk has time to look back at his life, and realizes the pain and suffering he and his kind have caused. He determines to change, but finds he cannot not escape his old self. The story follows his journey as he gradually begins to realize, identify with and respect the position of the unseen victims of war, and then divert his efforts to helping them improve their lot in the only way he knows how.

My driving force behind creating the character was very simple. Individuals like Hawk exist everywhere in the world today, and as long as wars persist and innocents die, they always will.

What were some themes that you wanted to explore in this book?

I wanted to explore the reality that war and drugs and the like affect innocent bystanders more than anyone else, and that the people behind those events, be they politicians or drug lords, don’t care.

I also have always had a problem with the way many veterans are treated when they return from war. In Australia (My home) soldiers returning from the Vietnam War were literally brought in the back door and never given the appreciation or help they deserved. They were trained to be killers (often against their will due to conscription) and were never ‘untrained’. Many of them found it hard to deal with life after war.
The human universe I created for Hawk to inhabit also gave me the chance to explore what I think the future will look like. I do not believe that our future will be a squeaky clean Galactic empire as in Asimov’s Foundation series. I expect that once we get out there, people will seek to take their own paths based on culture, religion, ethnicity and so on. The future human society will be just as fractured as it is now, sadly. However, this does give me the opportunity to create different societies on different worlds, and that is something I enjoy doing immensely.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I am currently writing a sequel to my Book ‘Falcon’s Call’, which has won several awards. Falcon’s Call was originally intended to be a stand alone, one of, first contact story, but I have had so many requests for a sequel that I decided to bite the bullet and continue the story. The second book will be called ‘Falcon’s Ghost’ and is based on the main character, Joe Falcon, discovering that everything he thought he knew in the first book, is false, and the reality is far stranger and much more dangerous. I hope to follow this one up with a third book, ‘Falcon’s Bane’, to complete the trilogy. Falcon’s Ghost should be out by April this year, and hopefully, ‘Bane’ by Christmas next.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Sometimes, death is necessary.

Two thousand years after the Great Diaspora humanity has spread across the Orion Spur, the human domain fractured and diverse, divided into numerous small federations, empires, dictatorships and a thousand unaligned and lonely planets.
On one of those small worlds a plant grows, a weed that feeds the addiction of many and the greed and avarice of a few, and kills without favor.

Lazarus Hawk, ex-soldier and ex-mercenary, convicted of a crime of terror he did not commit, and sentenced to life on an airless prison moon from which there is no escape, has been offered a way out. It’s a chance. A good chance.

To accept the offer, all he has to do is die.

Forced to undertake a mission against his better judgment, Hawk finds himself teaming up with the locals of a small, backward world, and Abbie Renner, a young Guarda officer searching for the source of the drug Hellfire, and prepared to go to any lengths. This time she has gone too far. This time she needs help.

Can Hawk overcome the mistrust and reticence of a small colony world to accomplish the mission he has been forced to undertake in return for his life?

If you like great, classic science fiction, you will love this new work by multi-award-winning author Mike Waller, an action packed dive into the world of a galactic mercenary driven by the ghosts from his past. Grab a copy now and join Lazarus Hawk in his search for justice for a remote colony world.

HAWK: Hellfire

HAWK: Hellfire by [Mike Waller]

Hawk: Hellfire follows Lazarus Hawk and Abigail Renner as they are tasked – more like forced into Hawk’s case – to track down the source of a vicious drug known as hellfire. Set across planets with humanity in fractured societies, the convicted felon, and Guarda officer, team up to overthrow a dictatorship in the small world that created the worst drug known to humanity.

As a fan of science fiction, the intergalactic setting with numerous planets, alliances, and empires that spans across the galaxy sparked the deep love I have for the genre. This was not at the forefront of the novel, but it was wildly creative, executed finely, and fits its needs for the story. The journey through space and planets was fun and each planet exuded a unique culture without diverting attention away from the story.

Abigail Renner had an intriguing background and motives that were explored well but not enough screen time was given, in my opinion. Our protagonist, Hawk, was a great character to follow with his own scars and motives that moved the plot forward, but I would have liked to see a few more chapters from Abigail’s point of view. Hawk was very likable though, being more of an anti-hero type with a complicated past as an ex-soldier, ex-mercenary, and framed convict, but the novel reveals his strong morals and his kinder nature than usual mercenaries. This made following and rooting for him easy.

Mike Waller’s writing style was a joy to read. Every line seemed to jump at you and scream action with his strong choice of active verbs. Waller had a smooth and digestible style that blasted every sentence forward with momentum and didn’t distract from the story with flowery writing.

The story of Hawk: Hellfire was an adrenaline-pumping action piece, complete with drug lords, cops and corrupt government officials. It was hard to put it down at times and had me guessing where it would go next. The effects of the ‘hellfire’ intriguing and well implemented, and it was interesting to see what people did under the influence and how our characters had to deal with it. It all comes together with an extremely satisfying ending to an exciting, but ultimately uplifting novel. Perfect for science fiction fans looking for a gritty and entertaining space opera.

Pages: 402 | ASIN: B08CXHPZTY

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The Pursuit of the Pankera

The Pursuit of the Pankera is a 2020 science fiction book by Robert A. Heinlein which is a parallel version of The Number of the Beast. The Number of the Beast and The Pursuit of the Pankera follow the same characters; Deety, Zeb, Hilda and Jake, who are ambushed by the alien called Black Hats, but escape in a vehicle that can travel through different planes of existence. When Robert Heinlein published The Number of the Beast in 1980 he created a parallel version of what would have happened if Zeb, Deety, Jake and Hilda were taken to another universe besides what had happened in the 1980 book and that story is called The Pursuit of the Pankera.

I have read many sci-fi books but nothing stands out as a unique continuation of a story quite like the The Pursuit of the Pankera. This book is an unparalleled science fiction thrill ride that is crafted to entertain the reader. Most authors write about parallel universes as an idea to begin a plot, but parallel universes are a part of the plot here and Robert Heinlein explores the idea vividly. He first wrote about a parallel universe and then went ahead and wrote a parallel version of the parallel universe story he had introduced to his readers. Which makes sense, I suppose, as this is exactly what the parallel worlds theory would suggest. Heinlein is able to imbue a feel of classic science fiction, propelled by action scenes, which the genre has righteously deemed ‘Heinlein-esque’. The feel of deep science fiction with thought-provoking theories and hard hitting action is on brilliant display here. Everything that made me a hardcore Heinlein fan so many years ago has resurfaced here.

The book was written in 1977 but published in 2020. The author wrote two parallel novels about parallel universe but released one in 1980. The two books share the same start but they diverge and the characters are transported to two different parallel universes. The Pursuit of the Pankera is a bold literary experiment and the results are astonishing.

Hardcore science fiction fans may rejoice, but all others must not fear, I found this book to be easily digestible considering the scientific ideas utilized throughout the book. A few bits of jargon, but I found them to be good mood setters. This is still a human story that builds up and tests some fascinating characters. A suspenseful and thought-provoking classic science fiction story that will delight anyone looking for a gripping space adventure.

Pages: 545 | ASIN: B082838YYY

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The Spark That Started Metal Bones

Kathleen Contine Author Interview

Metal Bones follows two story lines, one following brothers on the hunt for a cure to a ‘steel elbow’ disease and another following a man with a cannon for an arm who’s looking for his long lost father. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling science fiction story?

The spark that started Metal Bones was a song called ‘Alive’ by Phil Lober. When I listened to it I pictured a scene in my mind that I had to write a story around. I was also watching Star Wars a lot at the time and I think some of those themes crept their way in as I was writing.

Leo and Gaeth were intriguing and well developed characters. What were some ideals that guided their character development?

Thank you! The main thing that guided their character development was the dynamic between an older sibling and younger sibling. Leo wants to help Gaeth get better but Gaeth doesn’t want to be the one who has to be taken care of all the time. I used that to guide their decision making throughout the story. 

I enjoyed the unique world you’ve created for your story. What were some themes that were important for you to incorporate in your galaxy?

 I’m glad! A big one was family. Obviously Leo and Gaeth are a huge part of that, but I wanted to explore it with Tank as well. Even though his family isn’t blood related, I believe it doesn’t have to be and can even be stronger than biological family at times.   

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m currently working on the sequel to Metal Bones! I don’t have a specific release date yet but it’ll be 2021.  

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook |Website

An incurable disease, a deadly ceremony, four questionable heroes, and a galaxy who needs them.

Leo Spearman cares about one thing: getting a cure for Gaeth’s “Steel Elbow”. Yet, when they decide to leave Earth to cure him, they realize they may have to break galactic law to get it. Leo believes everything is going according to plan but when their new ally Sonja comes along, Leo becomes more and more dedicated to Onyx, a group set on stopping the Sol Empire from taking over the galaxy. As Leo and Sonja’s connection starts to grow, Gaeth begins questioning his brothers’ dedication to finding his cure.

Across the galaxy, an alien named Tank is determined to win the Ceremony, hoping to find out what happened to his father, who won before him. Only when he finds the answer, he is forced to escape his home, losing his hand in the process. After being saved by Enzu, she equips him with an arm cannon, the only expense being to work for her and protect a small boy named Myca at all costs. Tank is grateful for Enzu saving him, but the more time he spends at Bisekt, it makes him question everything and who to trust.

However when an outside threat forces Tank and Leo to work together, they’ll discover if they’ll be able to save the ones they love or if it’s already too late.

Fans of Mass Effect will love the first installment in the Metal Bones series!

Metal Bones

 

Metal Bones is an enthralling science fiction story that connects two separate story lines. The first one is about Leo and Gaeth, brothers who are on a mission to cure Gaeth’s contagious “steel elbow.” After their neighbors have unfairly shunned them, they set off on a space faring journey to Oblurn, where all those affected by this mysterious condition reside. They encounter a series of interesting and unique characters which sets off a bunch of misadventures along the way. The second story line follows one of the most interesting sci-fi characters I’ve had the pleasure of reading this year: Tank, a man on a mission. His father has been missing for a long time and Tank almost loses his own life in search of his long lost father. A mysterious woman saves him and gives him an arm cannon (yes! a cannon for an arm) under one condition: he must protect a Myca, a child, at all costs. Tank agrees but soon discovers that everything is not as straightforward as it seems.

Metal Bones is an action packed novel with a quick pace interrupted only by necessary exposition that drives a far flung plot that’s held together by intriguing characters. Although the premise and situations of the characters are somewhat difficult to believe (a steel elbow? How would that work?), Kathleen Contine makes it work and the suspension of disbelief is pulled of quite easily. Everything is serious without being grave, and the light touches of humor really add to the whole experience.

Some of the comments and behaviour made towards his “disease” spoke multitudes about the way humans themselves deal with those with disabilities or conditions. I’m not sure whether the author intended to make a comment or draw attention to this situation, but it was a topic that was subtly and sensitively explored; I greatly appreciated that.

The characters and their motivations were also portrayed with great depth. Leo was not simply the selfless, sacrificial brother to Gaeth. And neither was Gaeth a helpless, grateful, steel elbow victim. All the characters were complex and human- that’s what made them so compelling.

Metal Bones a fun and interesting book that sets up an intriguing universe and places some engaging characters within it. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a science fiction novel with a bit of humor that’s rife with action.

Pages: 299 | ASIN: B084H9BMDF

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Neutral Space

Neutral Space by [Tran, Rebecca]

Neutral Space, written by Rebecca Tran, is a story told through the eyes of Jackson Eli Peterson; a man raised on a planet in the Sirus Seven. The Sirus Seven are planets named after the seven deadly sins in the Bible and were the catalyst for the war between the Kelsairans and humans. Jackson has a chance encounter with a beautiful Kelsairan woman which changes both their perspectives on the government and war. They soon realise that they may not have been told the truth about the opposition and its race, leaving them both to make decisions that will change their lives forever. A trial will begin, and secrets will be revealed in an epic futuristic tale where exposing the truth will have you killed.

Neutral Space is set in the year 3006, in a world where intergalactic races have intermingled with humans. Technology and territory were shared, but like most trade agreements, alliances were broken causing an unruly war between Kelsairans and humans.

Corrupt governments and evil agendas will mean that the characters may not all be who they seem. Allies will be formed, and friendships will be created, regardless of the race. Through the new found friendships, the authority will be questioned- and betrayed- to save the people they care about the most.

I loved how the novel incorporated futuristic ideas such as new races, advanced technology and ideas while still implementing familiar scenarios such as court scenes, jails and friendship. There’s even cultural food such as Italian and Chinese that are twisted into the plotline, giving the story an almost realistic feel. With human governments still participating in dodgy deals and corrupt politics, you can practically imagine the future in the 3000’s being very similar to what you find in Neutral Space.

Between the battles of war lies a love story that will have you eager to learn how it all ends. Rebecca Tran writes with a momentum that fills the pages with layers of action, romance and intergalactic adventures. The story was easy to read, but the characters were complex, with parts of their past being told as the plot line progressed. Rebecca Tran cleverly transcribes the character progression in a way that makes you feel attached and invested in the outcomes of their lives.

The story switches between past and present and Jackson recounts his encounter with the Kelsairan woman. This builds up the relationship and gives the reader an insight into the minds of both races. There were many parallels to how today’s society may have felt during a time of war with other countries, especially regarding the unspoken political agendas. An element of family is also present in Neutral Space as it hints at the everlasting values of humans and their desire to protect and create a family of their own.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys futuristic style novels with action, friendship and a dash of politics.

Pages: 170 | ASIN: B076GHGTJD

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Adam’s Stepsons

Adam's Stepsons3 Stars

Adam’s Stepsons by M. Thomas Apple is an interesting science fiction piece. We follow Dr. Heimann who designs the perfect super soldiers for the United America’s in their war against the Martian colonies. Heimann quickly discovers that he did not anticipate the brutal efficiency of the military, nor the attachment that arises from his creations. These clones are not only the peak of what the human form can do, they actually transcend humanity through intelligence and strength. They are the weapon that the United Americas will use to crush the rebellion on Mars. Dr. Heimann is shocked when one clone, Six, begins to call him “Father” and then the can of worms truly opens.

Apple’s novel is almost painfully short, only because I wanted to have more to read and dive into. He anticipates the future of inter-solar system colonization and the struggles that can arise, such as this between the United Americas and the Martian colonies. He does not neglect the complicated matter here or the scope considering the Terran governing force is losing the war and needs these clones to pan out.

The struggle between scientist and soldier is an old one, but one that takes on a new twist with the rise of cloned super soldiers. Apple goes along the lines of Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, but does not seek to critique war itself. Instead, the author goes further and asks whether these soldiers are “truly” human or are they  just “equipment” as the military officer Marquez calls them.

The conflict deepens even further when “Seth”, clone number six, as Dr. Heimann calls him when no one else is around, begins to call him “father”. The book bounces between the POV’s of the scientist and Six, which is interesting because as the book goes on Heimann becomes more and more unstable and uncertain of his mission of designing soldiers, who resemble the people that their genetic material comes from. Six, or rather, “Seth” becomes increasingly more confident in his abilities and his intelligence. All of this leads to a climax that may polarize readers, but one that will still make the reader ponder on far after they have finished the novel.

Overall, I enjoyed Apple’s prose. It reads crisp like that of Asimov or Heinlein, but I am still unsure if the short length of the work was appropriate. There is a lot of dialogue and not enough actual “action” going on throughout, so I was expecting more digging into the rich themes of personhood and philosophy of the soul. I realize that may be asking too much.

Adam’s Stepsons is a fun addition to the long canon of science fiction that dares to ask the “what if” of the future. It also seeks to ask the “should we, if we can” question that not enough science fiction is retrospective enough to ask. A good read for any science fiction lover, especially of the Heinlein or Asimov variety.

Pages: 92 | ASIN: B06XJRT8CS

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