Posts Tagged ‘sci fi’

Serengeti
by J.B. Rockwell
Genre: SciFi Adventure
It was supposed to be an easy job: find the Dark Star Revolution
Starships, destroy them, and go home. But a booby-trapped vessel
decimates the Meridian Alliance fleet, leaving Serengeti—a Valkyrie
class warship with a sentient AI brain—on her own; wrecked and
abandoned in an empty expanse of space.


On the edge of total failure, Serengeti thinks only of her crew. She
herds the survivors into a lifeboat, intending to sling them into
space. But the escape pod sticks in her belly, locking the
cryogenically frozen crew inside.
Then a scavenger ship arrives to pick Serengeti’s bones clean.
Her engines dead, her guns long silenced, Serengeti and her last two
robots must find a way to fight the scavengers off and save the crew
trapped inside her.
**On sale for .99 from Sept 4th- 9th**
Serengeti 2:
Dark and Stars
Fifty-three years Serengeti drifted, dreaming in the depths of space. Fifty-three
years of patient waiting before her Valkyrie Sisters arrive to
retrieve her from the dark. A bittersweet homecoming follows, the
Fleet Serengeti once knew now in shambles, its admiral, Cerberus,
gone missing, leaving Brutus in charge. Brutus who’s subsumed the
Fleet, ignoring his duty to the Meridian Alliance to pursue a
vendetta against the Dark Star Revolution.


The Valkyries have a plan to stop him—depose Brutus and restore the
Fleet’s purpose—and that plan involves Serengeti. Depends on
Serengeti turning her guns against her own.
Because the Fleet can no longer be trusted. With Brutus in charge, it’s
just Serengeti and her Sisters, and whatever reinforcements they can
find.
A top-to-bottom refit restores Serengeti to service, and after a rushed
reunion with Henricksen and her surviving crew, she takes off for the
stars. For Faraday—a prison station—to stage a jailbreak, and
free the hundreds of Meridian Alliance AIs wrongfully imprisoned in
its Vault. From there to the Pandoran Cloud and a rendezvous with her
Valkyrie Sisters. To retrieve a fleet of rebel ships stashed away
inside.
One last battle, one last showdown with Brutus and his Dreadnoughts and
it all ends. A civil war—one half of the Meridian Alliance Fleet
turned against the other, with the very future of the Meridian
Alliance hanging in the balance.
Hecate
Prequel to Serengeti
Black Ops—the intelligence arm of the Meridian Alliance Fleet came
calling with an offer Henricksen couldn’t refuse: a ship—an
entire squadron of ships, actually—and crew to command. A chance to
get back to the stars.
Too bad he didn’t ask more questions before accepting the assignment.
Too bad no one told him just how dangerous this particular skunkworks
project was.

 

They call the ship the RV-N: Reconnaissance Vessel – Non-combat, Raven for
short. A stealth ship—fast, and maneuverable, and brutal as hell.
On the surface, Henricksen’s assignment seems simple: train his crew,
run the RV-Ns through their paces, get the ships certified for
mission operations and job done. But an accident in training reveals
a fatal design flaw in the Raven, and when an undercover operative
steals classified information from a Black Ops facility, the Fleet
Brass cancels the tests completely, rushing the faulty ships and
their half-trained crew into live operations. On a mission to recover
the Fleet’s lost secrets.
Out of time and out of options, Henricksen has no choice but to launch
his squadron. But a ghost from his past makes him question
everything—the ships, their AI, the entirety of this mission, right
down to the secrets he and his crew are supposed to recover.
Audiobook available 10-17-17

Note from the Author:

When Your Main Character’s a Starship…

By J.B. Rockwell

Umm, so yeah. I did this. At the time I was thinking, “How cool! This will be really different!” And it is. That’s one of the things I love about the Serengeti series: you just don’t see a lot of books written with a sentient AI warship as the main character.

And there’s a reason for that: it’s hard.

Okay, so that’s probably not the only reason you don’t see a lot of books written from a starship’s point of view, but I’m going to go down on record as saying it’s one of them. And here’s why: close your eyes and think about every book you’ve read or written, every movie of TV show you’ve watched and how the characters interact with one another. All the physical posturing and non-verbal cues. Now imagine one of those character’s is a ship and most of the rest of the characters are moving around inside her.

See what I mean?

Being the brilliant writer I am (*insert extremely heavy dose of sarcasm*), I never thought about this when I blithely sat down at my computer one day and started pounding out words on my ‘OMG everyone will love this!’ little story. But it wasn’t long before I realized this book was going to be a lot harder to pull off than I originally thought. And since I didn’t have a whole lot of other, similar books to fall back on for research, I basically figured things out as I went.

So, how does one go about using non-verbal cues with a main character that lacks arms and legs, hands and eyeballs? Well, if you’re me, you cheat. (*puffs up all proud*) And since some of you out there may be reading this and considering doing something as stupid…er, brilliant as me, here’s how:

Let’s start with the eyes. Or lack thereof. Eyes play a major role in conveying characters’ feelings without repeating boring things like: ‘She was sad’, or ‘She was mad’. Eyes squint and widen, flash and darken to tell readers just exactly what is going on with a particular character at a particular moment. We use words like ‘glance’ and ‘glare’ and ‘stare’ to help convey interactions between characters and indicate who’s speaking to whom.

Well, Serengeti doesn’t have eyes (she’s a badass warship, remember?) but she does have cameras—that’s Cheat the First. By turning cameras, zooming in and out, or simply flipping through one lens and another I can show the reader how Serengeti’s focus changes. I can flash a light on a camera to draw another character’s attention to it, and use it as a focus of conversation when their speaking to Serengeti’s AI, rather than having them do the Star Trek thing and just randomly yell ‘Computer!’ in the general direction of the ceiling.

Cheat the Second is similar to Cheat the First, in that it involves Serengeti’s fittings, in this case the many data panels scattered across her bridge and elsewhere on her ship’s body. By flashing panels and sending discrete messages, even cute little emoji, Serengeti is able to interact with her crew on a more personal and private level, offering information and encouragement, sharing worries and fears without broadcasting that information through her speakers for everyone with a working set of eardrums to hear.

Cheat the Third when it comes to eyeballs is also Cheat the Fourth which helps to replace the pesky lack of appendages that comes with Serengeti having nothing more than a ship’s body. Namely, robots. Throughout Serengeti and Dark and Stars, there are many and various situations which prompt Serengeti to download or connect a portion of her vast consciousness to one of her maintenance robots (Tig, Tilli and Oona) or another robot she comes across in her travels. Though non-human, these robots handily come equipped with legs (for flailing, and waving, and otherwise shaking about) and faces (backed by motile, bright blue lights) that can be animated in a multitude of manners to emulate human gestures and facial expressions, providing easily digestible cues to Mr. and Ms. Reader of My Book. Plus, they’re cute as the dickens and snarky as all get-out—who doesn’t like that?!—and provide a break from all the camera looking and talking. Characters interact differently with cameras than they do with robots, no matter who’s in the driver’s seat, so letting Serengeti run around in a robot body for a while really gave me more latitude to change things up. And, as an added bonus, robots can go places Serengeti the ship can’t. Like space stations, for instance—I can’t exactly have whopping big Serengeti pitter-pattering down a space station’s hallways—allowing me to expand the story’s universe and take the action out of the stars once in a while.

So, that’s how I did it. That’s how I got around writing a book (and a sequel, and a prequel) whose main character was a starship. It wasn’t easy, but I’m proud of the result, and that used a story device that so few others have tried. More importantly, my agent liked it and signed me on in part because I offered up something that was fresh and new. I also like to think it’s because I’m incredibly entertaining and funny as all get-out, but I’m not sure my agent would agree…

J


J.B. Rockwell is a New Englander, which is important to note because it
means she’s (a) hard headed, (b) frequently stubborn, and (c) prone
to fits of snarky sarcasticness. As a kid she subsisted on a steady
diet of fairy tales, folklore, mythology augmented by generous
helpings of science fiction and fantasy. As a quasi-adult she dreamed
of being the next Indiana Jones and even pursued (and earned!) a
degree in anthropology. Unfortunately, those dreams of being an
archaeologist didn’t quite work out. Through a series of twists and
turns (involving cats, a marriage, and a SCUBA certification, amongst
other things) she ended up working in IT for the U.S. Coast Guard and
now writes the types of books she used to read. Not a bad ending for
an Indiana Jones wannabe…

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Middle Grade Science Fiction
Date to be Published: December 6, 2017

For Explorers of All Ages!
Tumble forward in time with the fourth collection in the series Kirkus Review called “a must-have in science fiction collections.” These twenty-four imaginative, entertaining tales take readers of all ages to exciting places — from star ships to Mars to alien adventure!
“There are not very many action, adventure, superhero, or sci-fi stories that feature girls, but there needs to be. I have read this whole book and now I have become even more interested in space and robots and things like that.” ~ Lily F. (10 years old)
Excerpt from one of the Short Stories
THE GREAT BROCCOLI WI-FI THEFT
 by Nancy Kress
Nancy Kress is the author of thirty-three books, including twenty-six novels, four collections of short stories, and three books on writing.  Her work has won six Nebulas, two Hugos, a Sturgeon, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.  Most recent works are the Nebula-winning novella “Yesterday’s Kin” (Tachyon, 2014) and THE BEST OF NANCY KRESS (Subterranean, 2015).  Forthcoming in 2017 is TOMORROW’S KIN (Tor), the first novel of a trilogy based on “Yesterday’s Kin” and extending its universe for several generations.  Kress’s work has been translated into Swedish, Danish, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Polish, Croatian, Chinese, Lithuanian, Romanian, Japanese, Korean, Hebrew, Russian, and Klingon, none of which she can read.  In addition to writing, Kress often teaches at various venues around the country and abroad; in 2008 she was the Picador visiting lecturer at the University of Leipzig.  Kress lives in Seattle with her husband, writer Jack Skillingstead, and Cosette, the world’s most spoiled toy poodle.
Do you know what a pas de chat is?  I didn’t either, two months ago.  But I know now, and it’s going to make me a hero.  Really!  Everybody will applaud for me so hard their hands will sting—especially Mom!  They’ll give me a medal!  It’s going to be great!
I’m going to solve a mystery that nobody else can solve.
Just as soon as I figure out how.
#
My name is Nia.  I’m ten.  I live sometimes on the moon, at Alpha Base, and sometimes on Earth, in Illinois.  I like both places, but Illinois has a big problem: GRAVITY.  There’s too much of it here.  I wish they could just ship some of this gravity to the moon and even things out a little bit, but it doesn’t work that way.  On the moon there isn’t enough gravity to keep human muscles strong unless you exercise a lot, and I got lazy.  So now I’m back on Earth because my mom’s job moved us here—again!—and my muscles aren’t strong enough.  Which is why I was in ballet class doing a pas de chat.  It was not my idea.
“No, no,” said Mademoiselle Janine, who was in charge of the class.  “Nia, you must land lightly.  Lightly!  Ellen, show her the pas de chat.”
Ellen smirked at me and raised her arms.  Pas de chat means “step of the cat,” which is a really stupid name because it doesn’t look anything like a cat.  I know—we have a cat.  In the pas de chat you bend one leg, jump off the other leg, bend that one in the air, then land lightly.  If you can find a cat that can do that, I’ll give you a million dollars.
Ellen did the step.  She landed lightly.
“Now you try, Nia,” Mademoiselle said.
I landed like a baby elephant.
“Well…” said Mademoiselle.  “These things take practice.”
Did I mention that ballet class was definitely not my idea?
#
“I want to quit ballet,” I said at dinner.  “I’m no good at ballet.”
Dad said, “You’re probably better than you think.”  Dad is always on my side.
Mom said, “You might not be good at it, but you can’t go on quitting things when they get hard.”  Mom is always on the side of doing hard things.
“But I stink at ballet,” I said.  I pushed my mashed potatoes around with my fork.  “I’m not good at anything.”
“That’s not true,” Dad said.  “You’re good at a lot of things.”
I said, “Name three!”
“Well…you’re good at spelling.”
“Nobody needs to spell good.  Autocorrect fixes it.”
Mom said, “Nobody needs to spell well.  ‘Well,’ not ‘good.’”
“See?” I said.  “I’m not good at sentences, either! I’m not good at anything!”
“Yes, you are,” Dad said.  “You’re good at training our pets.”
That was true.  We have a dog named Bandit, a robot-dog named Luna, and a cat named Pickles.  I trained Bandit to fetch.  I programmed Luna, which is the closest you can get to training a robot.  I couldn’t train Pickles to do anything, but…cats.  They do what they want.
I said, “That’s only two things.”
Mom smiled.  “You’re good at getting into trouble.”
Dad said warningly, “Angela…”
“I’m teasing!  Nia, I just wanted to make you laugh!”
I wasn’t laughing.  Mom never understands!
But then she said, “Look, Nia, everybody has to practice and work hard in order to get good at something.  Do you know how many times my broccoli has failed?”
Mom is a plant geneticist.  That means she changes plants’ genes to make them better.  Right now she’s changing broccoli, which in my opinion can’t ever be made better no matter what you do to it.  I hate broccoli.  She was just making me feel worse.
She knew it, too, because she put her hand on mine and said, “Nia, honey, after dinner let me show you something.”
I said, “As long as it’s not broccoli.”
To be continued in the 2018 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide!
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