Andrew P. Weston meets Mighty Thor Jr

See the original post at: https://mightythorjrs.wordpress.com/2017/01/11/guest-blog-welcome-to-my-world-by-andrew-weston-author-of-the-ix-and-exordium-of-tears/

Mighty Thor Jr. Guest Blog: Welcome To My World by Andrew Weston author of The IX, and Exordium of Tears

As part of my author guest blog series I am proud to present another guest blog spot. Andrew P Weston the author of The IX, and Exordium of Tears has been kind enough to write a guest blog post for MightyThor JRS today. I am very excited and I would like to thank Andrew and Perseid Press for the opportunity to host this Guest Blog. 

The IX

by Andrew P Weston

is Out NOW!

and

Exordium of Tears

by Andrew P Weston

is available now!

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So go get your copies!

http://www.theperseidpress.com/


Welcome To My World

By Andrew Weston

When it comes to writing, one of my “things” is what most people refer to as – World Building – the process of constructing an imaginary framework in which to set your epic adventure. What’s a shame is the fact that, in many cases, authors don’t put enough effort into creating a real setting for their stories, something that contains sufficient coherent qualities such as history, geography, ecology and suchlike. Yet, when you think about it, this is a key task, especially for novelists like me who concentrate on science fiction and fantasy.

So, how do I do it?

I usually begin my process from the top down. What does that mean? Basically, I devise a general overview of the world in which I’m going to set my creation and then I start working inwards. Here’s a broad example of what I did for the IX Series:

I started by considering where the world – Arden, the main location where adventure begins – would be situated.

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What type of sun would it have? Who would be its inhabitants and what was their history? What level of technology did they possess? What geographical and topographical features does Arden have how does this affect things like climate and skin tone?

Once I’d determined those facets, I started to add smaller details in layers – or as I refer to them – modules.
Personally, I devise a number of sketches from which I can create maps, bases or starships, etc, and continually refine them as I go along until I have something concrete.

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That might sound a lot of trouble to go to, but it gives me a sense of scale from which I can later determine other factors like timing and provisions and equipment, (especially important if different groups of protagonists and antagonists clash at varying venues). I also find this method allows me to build well-integrated societies or storylines, which in turn, reflects a superior level of quality and realism within the narrative itself.

This is another vital ingredient we writers have to ensure. We want the picture we create in the readers minds to be as vivid as possible. You can’t do that unless you create a solid foundation for them to recreate our vision in their own minds.

That’s why I go so far as to construct actual languages, flora and fauna, behavioral and migratory patterns. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t drown the reader in a deluge of detail, but I have lots of elements ready – at my beck and call, so to speak – so I can add the little touches here and there that gradually fills the narrative out and makes it sparkle.
Imagine, for a moment, how that helps the reader to connect to, and bring your imaginary world to life.

I like to think of my stories as rough diamonds. To begin with, I’ve got an absolute gem of an idea to work with. But it’s rough and lackluster. I need to examine it closely and buff it up with world building. Decide what to engrave and shape, and where to spend time grinding and polishing. As it gets into the final stages, I make sure each facet gleams and that there’s a sharp definite edge to the final cut, a depth and perspective you won’t see until you’ve viewed all the angles.

One of the main ingredients in my imaginary worlds is the “keep it real” ethic. I’m fortunate to be a Master of Astronomy. So, when I devise my fictional setting, I base futuristic technology on the very latest theoretical science.

And think about what’s been in the news over the past year or so: teleportation was the stuff of pure science fiction not so long ago, but now, scientists can transport quantum packets of information through the ether with remarkable clarity and accuracy; we can levitate objects; have artificial air scrubbers that make the foulest environment breathable; there are engines under development that researchers are sure will punch us to Mars in a matter of weeks, not months.
All these things help me stretch the imagination that little bit further, so my readers can seriously consider…“Yes, the citizens of Arden – thousands of years in advance of our own – use everyday constructs that we are only just delving into. I can believe that.”
Once you establish such a connection, you’ve got your readers hooked…
Then it’s just a matter of reeling them in.

How to do that?

Aha – we’ll chat next time in – Keeping Things Balanced 🙂


Andrew P. Weston is Royal Marine and Police veteran from the UK who now lives on the beautiful Greek island of Kos with his wife, Annette, and their growing family of rescue cats.

An astronomy and law graduate, he is the creator of the international number one bestselling, IX Series and Hell Bound, (A novel forming part of Janet Morris’ critically acclaimed Heroes in Hell shared universe). Andrew also has the privilege of being a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the British Fantasy Society, the British Science Fiction Association and the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.

When not writing, Andrew devotes some of his spare time to assisting NASA with one of their remote research projects, and writes educational articles for Astronaut.com and Amazing Stories.

Author Website: http://www.andrewpweston.com/


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Exordium of Tears

by Andrew P Weston

Fight or die.

That simple yet brutal reality is the tenet by which the refugees from Earth – including the fabled lost 9th Legion of Rome; the 5thCompany, 2nd Mounted Cavalry Unit; and the Special Forces Anti-Terrorist Team – were forced to live by while the Horde menace existed. Believing that the threat is over, the survivors now yearn to settle down, start families, and reclaim the lives stolen from them.

But such aspirations might remain beyond their reach, for a shadow looms on the rose-tinted horizon of new beginnings.

The release of the re-genesis matrix has done much to foster a restoration of exuberance across Arden. Along with a resurgence in floral and faunal diversity comes the results of splicing the Ardenese and human genomes: transmutation. A metamorphosis of stunning magnitude that not only affects the living, but those still is stasis as well.

Recognizing the emergence of a new hybrid species, the Architect – the arcane AI construct tasked with the preservation of the Ardenese race – responds by unlocking previously hidden and inaccessible areas of the city. It also releases an archive of sealed state secrets. Such revelations are eagerly perused, whereupon a shocking discovery is made.

Prior to the fall, it was common knowledge amongst the Senatum (the highest levels of Arden’s government) that not all the rabid Horde had joined in the rampage across the stars toward Arden.

Realizing that the peril still exists, the newly reformed administration elects to respond in earnest. Existing resources are utilized, suitable candidates are chosen, and a flotilla of ships is sent out to secure, quarantine, and reclaim the outer colonies.

A mammoth and hazardous undertaking. And nowhere more so than at the planet from where the outbreak was known to have originated – Exordium – for there, the ancient Horde are not only supremely evolved and highly organized, but are capable of a level of lethal sophistication, the likes of which has never been witnessed before.

It is into this kiln of incendiary potential that the cream of Arden’s fighting forces is deployed.

Worlds are torn asunder, suns destroyed, and star systems obliterated. Yes, tragedy is forged, in a universe spanning conflict which proves once again that…

Death is only the beginning of the adventure.

http://www.theperseidpress.com/

ALSO AVAILABLE:

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The IX

by Andrew P Weston

Roman legionaries, far from home, lost in the mists of Caledonia.

A US cavalry company, engaged on a special mission, vital to the peace treaty proposed by Presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln.

A twenty-first century Special Forces unit, desperate to prevent a nuclear catastrophe.

From vastly different backgrounds, these soldiers are united when they are snatched away from Earth at the moment of their passing. Thinking they may have been granted a reprieve, imagine their horror when they discover they have been transported to a failing planet on the far side of the galaxy, where they are given a simple ultimatum. Fight or die. Against all odds, this group of misfits manages to turn the tide against a relentless foe, only to discover the true cost of victory might exact a price they are unwilling to pay.

How far would you be willing to go to stay alive?

The IX.

Sometimes, death is only the beginning of the adventure.

http://www.theperseidpress.com/

Andrew P. Weston:Bestselling Talks About Author’s Favorites True Stories

first published at:  https://princessofthelight.wordpress.com/2016/08/04/best-selling-author-westonandrew-reveals-his-top-10-memories-scifi-perseidpress/

 

BEST-SELLING AUTHOR @WESTONANDREW REVEALS HIS TOP 10 MEMORIES #SCIFI #PERSEIDPRESS

 Hi, my name is Andrew Weston. I’m an author living in a cupboard under the stairs…? Sorry, the darn medication must be off again.  Truthfully? I like to spend my time fishing for dreams among the stars. I haven’t caught anything yet, so perhaps it’s time to change my bait?

Anyhow, as some of my readers will be aware, before turning my hand to writing, I experienced life’s rich tapestry as a specialist in the military, and later, as a police officer in a number of varied roles. Looking back over the years, I thought it might be fun to reveal my “Top Ten Memories” (Or, at least, those recollections I’m willing to share – hee hee).
They’re not necessarily in order, as I tried to group them together into little themes, but such experiences made me the person I am now, and in a strange way, have influenced my writing. See what you think…

 

  1. The birth of my first child: (Or indeed, all of my children, come to that). A tremendous experience that no father should miss…especially when you’re allowed to assist. A privilege I enjoyed for each of my little gems.
  2. Delivering a child: And it wasn’t one of my own! I’d only been in the police for several years and after serving in a city environment, moved to a rural station covering hundreds of square miles of forest. That’s when I came across a young couple who had broken down while driving to hospital for their first baby. Back seat of a car – no problem! (To be honest, mother did all the work – father did most of the sweating and pacing up and down, and I merely pretended it was just another day at work). And do you know what; they didn’t name the baby after me?
    (Just as well, it was a teeny-tiny girl). All together now, aaaaaah!
  3. Getting arrested: Seriously. As I progressed through my career, I worked undercover on a number of occasions. During a sting where I’d been placed among a gang of druggie thieves, a number of officers from out of area were brought in to assist in rounding up the dregs of society. They took one look at me and decided I was one of the most unsavory individuals they’d ever seen, and I was the first one they jumped on. Those fur-lined cuffs really pinched. Ah – happy times.
  4. Throwing myself out of a perfectly good airplane: Not too much to say here as so many other guys in the military have done a similar thing. But the sense of freedom you get on the hill…ah, there’s nothing like it.
  5. Getting shot: Staying on a military theme. Top tip: not recommended. And while I appreciate the fact you have to expect it when you join the military – and especially in the kind of role in which I served – it’s a bit of a bummer when it actually happens to you for the first time. (A true “protruding bottom lip moment” if ever there was one).
  6. Discovering I am immune/resistant to the euphoria opiates are supposed to instill: What can I say? I’m one of those quirks of nature. Following a serious injury – mentioned above – and later episodes in my life, I have been hospitalized on a number of occasions. Try what they might…morphine, codeine, tramadol, fentanyl, doctors could find a lot to help. I didn’t get high; it barely reduced the pain; and really, all I took away from the experience was constipation, itchy rashes and bathmat tongue. (No wonder I ended up working undercover on certain departments, eh?)
  7. My mom, the drug cultivator: See how this continues a pharmaceutical theme? While I was serving in the police, I’d pop home to Birmingham, in the UK, to see how my parents were from time to time. On one occasion, my wife and I arrived late on a Friday evening, and after a meal, went to bed.
    So you better understand the setting, you should know my mom owned an antique restoration business and used to live above the premises itself. While this meant she had no front garden – as that was given over to customer parking – she had a rear courtyard, in which she used to grow plants and cuttings she’d collect while out on countryside walks.
    So, there I am, Saturday morning, bright and early. I take a cup of tea out into the rear courtyard, sit down, and as I’m raising the cup to my lips, come face to face with one of the healthiest cannabis plants I’ve ever seen.
    What the flip-flop?
    Managing to swallow a mouthful of tea without choking, I put my mug on the floor, lean forward and actually pinch myself. It can’t be? Yes it is. NO! It can’t be?
    I examine it for the umpteenth time, and eventually accept the inevitable truth.
    ..you little par-tay minx!
    So, then I’m thinking…how they hell do I slip this into the conversation naturally?
    Anyway, about half an hour later, mom gets up; makes her own tea; dawdles out into the yard, whereupon I join her on the bench and compliment her on her green fingers and say how nice the makeshift garden is looking. I point at one or two shrubs and bushes, and ask her a little bit about them, and gradually work my way toward exhibit ‘A’.
    “So, when did you get that particular plant over there?”

“Oh that?” she says, “I was out walking Ben – the dog – up Haldon Woods. He ran off into the undergrowth, and when I went to find him, I spotted a whole load of them in a glade. I liked the shape of the leaves so took a cutting to bring home.”

“You liked the look of the leaves, eh?” I say, wondering where this will go.

“Yes,” mom replies, “I was hoping they’d have flowered by now so I could see what color the petals are.”

I start laughing. She asks me what’s so funny, so I explain, “Well, you’re gonna be out of luck. By now, the leaves would normally be drying and ready for rolling.”

“Eh?” And I’m glad to see she appears genuinely puzzled.
“Mom…how can I put this? People don’t normally grow these for their pretty flowers. They’re more interested in smoking the leaves?”

“Eh?” she mumbles again.

“That’s a cannabis bush.”

“A what?”

“Cannabis. Weed. Ganja. An honest-to-God, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred pounds and go directly to jail, cannabis bush.”

“Don’t be so ****ing stupid,” she spluttered, “It can’t be drugs. They were growing wild in the middle of the forest.”

(I know…sigh)

“In a glade, off the beaten track, right?”

“Yes,” she replies indignantly, “so there’s nothing suspicious about them.”

….How I wish you could have listened in on the conversation….
Long story short? I quickly put her right about the tricks of the trade many drug dealers employ to grow their wares, and ensured the drugs were properly disposed of. (And no sitting round in circles and inhaling deeply was involved)

  1. Climbing my first mountain: See? I’m still talking about getting high…the connections abound in this top ten:)

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1983 – Monta Rosa, Switzerland

A truly exhilarating experience and something that gave me the climbing bug.

  1. Getting naked when I shouldn’t: Intrigued? Well, I had to attend hospital for a follow-up surgery for one of my injuries – this one, to my left shoulder.
    Those of you who have also been in a similar position know the score. You go into a little waiting cubicle. You’re told to take off your clothes, place them in a locker, and put on the items laid out for you on a chair. (In this case, hospital slippers and robe) Somewhat Spartan, but what can I say. The NHS is struggling.
    When the operating team was ready, a nurse came to get me, and escorted me through to the preparation room.
    I walk in there – everyone’s busy preparing for the op – and as they go about their business, one of the surgical staff says, over their shoulder, “Just take off you robe and wait over there.”

I thought…hello? But then I reasoned, well, they obviously know what they’re doing, and they’ve seen it all before.
So I took off my robe and stood there like a peacock, proud and defiant…until one of the nurses turns round, spots I’m naked, and let’s out a yelp of surprise… “Oh my God, where’s your gown?” (You know – the paper-thin tie-up pinafores that shows your butt to the world)

Bemused, I replied, “What gown?”

“The gown in the changing cubicle.”
“There wasn’t any gown in the changing cubicle,” I tried to explain, by now, strategically gesticulating so as to hide my morning glory, “I was told to take off my clothes and put on the stuff placed out on the chair.” Pointing desperately, I made sure to emphasize, “That’s the slippers on my feet and that robe draped over the counter…” Then I added the punchline…”I thought it a bit strange you’d want me to be naked for a shoulder operation?” Ta-dah!

We laughed.
They got me a gown.
We laughed again.
Then they put me out, and I’m sure, talked about it and laughed even more while I was unconscious. Sigh – good times.

  1. Getting set up on a blind date: Some of you might know the score. Friends phone you up out of the blue and invite you out. You turn up. Several other couples are also “mysteriously” in attendance, along with a cunningly arrange single lady whose been fooled by the lies they’ve told about you. Ha!
    Well, I’m actually very glad that happened, as that’s how I met my wife.

And here we are on our wedding day…

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See, all you romantics out there…Blind dates can work😉

 

(Apologies for the state of the photo – but it’s reproduced from an actual picture)

 

So, there you go. A Top Ten that’s a little bit different. But, when you think about it, it’s still “author related” as it’s often said – Write What You Know.
Having experienced quite a few things most people never get to see and do – and having had a great deal of fun along the way – I can dip into those various episodes and “relive them” through the pages of my work. When you’re able to add those little details of what a certain episode feels like, sounds like, tastes like, the transformation it creates to your interpretation of the fictional environment adds that depth of perspective that plucks your scene from the page and places it where it belongs: alive and kicking, within the imagination of your reader.

 

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Perhaps you’ve spotted that as you read The IX Series or Heroes in Hell? I do hope so, as it makes the effort I put into my work all the more worthwhile.

 

Anyway, that’s it for now. Next time? My top ten tips regarding personal grooming and the washing of shaved heads. See you then.

Andrew Weston

 

Author Biography:

Andrew P. Weston is Royal Marine and Police veteran from the UK who now lives on the beautiful Greek island of Kos with his wife, Annette, and their growing family of rescue cats.

An astronomy and law graduate, he is the creator of the international number one bestsellers, The IX, and Hell Bound, (A novel forming part of Janet Morris’ critically acclaimed Heroes in Hell shared universe). Andrew also has the privilege of being a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the British Fantasy Society and the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.

When not writing, Andrew devotes some of his spare time to assisting NASA with two of their remote research projects, and writes educational articles for http://Astronaut.com  and Amazing Stories.

 

Social Media Links:

Website: http://www.andrewpweston.com/

Publisher: Perseid Press

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WestonAndrew

Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Andrew-P-Weston-Author/102335216581151?ref=hl

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/andrewweston/

Andrew P. Weston Blog: http://theix.blogspot.gr/

The IX Blog: http://theix.blogspot.gr/

Jimmo Speaks Out:

PERSONAL INTERVIEW WITH JIMMO FROM TRUCK STOP EARTH @PERSEID_PRESS #DARKHUMOR #UFO #SFF

2 Votes

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I’m not gonna give you all the ins and outs of old Jimmo’s life. I’ve sat in too many cracked plastic chairs before nosy-butt social workers doing that. You want deep psychological analysis of James Ignatius Malachi Obadiah Osborne’s life? Let me give you the name of my current shrink. I think Penelope has it on a thumb drive somewhere.

But in a nut shell — joke! — I’m just your average ex-vet wandering traveler who has been sucked up into a Gray mothership and been given the classic intimate biological examination. I’ve seen it all and been there, from Key West, Fla., to the ass-end of the road here in Della, Alaska. I like long walks on the beach, Norwegian aquavit, Irish wolfhounds, tough women (preferably redheads), and people who won’t give ya bullshit. Oh, and the smell of White Shoulders and AquaNet hairspray, but only because AquaNet has been proven to deter aliens. I don’t know why. You think Jimmo has all the answers?

 

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

You know that moment when you’ve had one too many beers and your bladder is bursting and you take a nice, long pee? Remember that little tickle of pleasure you get? That’s about as close as it comes to perfect happiness. Too strange?

OK, how about this. You take on some huge challenge, like fighting a kick-ass wildfire that’s roaring down at you and it’s just you and your crew, a few Pulaskis, and maybe a DC-3 dropping retardant. Everything else doesn’t exist. It’s just this moment and something you have to do or you die, that’s what it is. And you don’t die. You stop the fire or come out alive in a firefight or maybe kick cancer’s butt. That’s perfect happiness, because you thought you might die and you didn’t.

But also, having close and intimate sex with someone who understands you and you understand them, and you satisfy each other almost perfectly, yeah, that’s not bad, either.

 

What is your greatest fear?

When you’ve looked into the Big Black of death and come out the other end, there is no fear. But the idea that the Alien Occupation Government might eventually take over this planet, and the Grays would use us for whatever evil they have in mind, that scares me. It should scare you, too, oh dear reader, if only you knew the truth.

 

What is your current state of mind?

Highly under the influence of very effective psychoactive drugs. OK, not really. I realized long ago all I got was sexy pharmaceuticals that no one really knew how they worked, but they did. My current state of mind is bliss.

 

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

You should read my co-author’s account of that in Truck Stop Earth. Basically, we kicked alien butt and sent those asshole Grays screaming. We won a big battle. I’m hoping we win the war.

 

How would you like to die?

Quick and painless. Once you get past the pain and into the Big Black, there’s not much else. If I can’t die fighting, I’d be OK dying loving.

 

What is your motto?

Life is what happens when really good psychoactive drugs quit working.

 

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Title: Truck Stop Earth

Author:  Michael A. Armstrong

Genre: Dark Humor, Aliens, Science Fiction

Publisher: Perseid Press

Release Date: August 1, 2016 (E-book available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble now)

 

Book Blurb:

The mother of all alien bases. The big one, the megabase, the center of the Alien Occupation Government, the headquarters, the brain, the nerve center, the absolute pinpoint big base, right there, right in the hills above Della. Forget Roswell. Forget Machu Picchu. Forget Stonehenge and Tikal and all those alleged alien bases, abandoned every one of them. This was the big one, right now, the source of all my troubles, the world’s troubles, the whole solar system’s troubles. Right there.

 

Out there across the valley, shining across it like a beacon, was a big flat mountain. “Oly’s Mountain” I later heard it called, or Table Top, some said. I could feel it, feel the humming and the disruption of the ether right down to my bones. I didn’t even have to take out my little pocket detector that’s disguised as a Swiss Army knife. I knew, I just knew. And my butt chip burned like an exploded capsule of sulfuric acid. God damn, right there in the mountain — not on it, in it.

 

Book Trailer:

 

Extended Excerpt:

We hauled butt up East Road and might have had to pass a few trucks at the speed Samm put the crew-cab to, except that everyone else was hauling butt, too: cops, fire trucks, volunteer firefighters. It was as if that fire were a big drain hole and we were rubber duckies getting sucked down into the tub, that’s how it pulled all of us to the fire. The smoke got thicker the closer we got, a nice stiff breeze out of the north whupping upon us, the day breeze. As we got closer, I began to think that maybe I should be going the other direction. Had no choice, though. I was in that damn truck.

We scarfed down our burgers as we trucked out there, Samm eating one-handed and driving with the other hand, a sort of frightening sight. I understood, though. It might be a while until we ate again. Soon enough we got to the logging camp. Samm didn’t even close his door or yank out the keys to the truck — in fact, he left it running. The only thing he did was turn it around so it faced out, toward the road. I understood. That was our lifeboat.

“Grace, you take Freddy and Jimmo,” Samm shouted. “Work on keeping the fire from jumping the road.”

“And if it jumps the road?” she asked.

“That won’t happen. Hold the line,” Samm said.

“Hold the line,” Grace mumbled. “Right.” She pointed at me and Freddy. “Freddy, you’ve got a red card. Jimmo, grab a chainsaw and a Pulaski and do what Freddy tells you. Come with me.” Grace had picked up a Pulaski, this ax-like thing that was also a pick, and we rushed up to the road side of that big clearing.

Someone had started up one of those feller-bunchers and slowly — it’s not like they moved all that fast anyway — moved toward a line of dead trees up the road. Thick smoke rolled downhill toward us, but in all the smoke I couldn’t see any flames. Maybe that was good, maybe that was bad, I just fucking didn’t know.

“Might as well attack that line of trees,” Grace said, pointing across the road from the camp. A standing clump of red, almost needleless trees lined the road across the way. It seemed kind of stupid, a logging camp surrounded by a dead forest. Later, Samm told me that it was a land dispute, this land owned by someone from Outside who hadn’t seen the land in twenty years and didn’t understand that the whole fucking forest had died and the trees had to come down. This was war. You did what you did to stop the fire and to hell with property rights.

The little forest narrowed down into a V as it came to the road. Grace explained that I should break up the grass and other ground flammables on either side of the V as she and Freddy felled trees. They began lopping off trees so they fell uphill, into the fire and a big slash pile. Even though the trees had died, they still had branches and witches’ brooms and shit that could catch fire. A lot of the dead trees had punky middles, which made them harder to burn. If you could fell ’em the middle wouldn’t catch fire and it would slow the burn down. Mainly, Grace explained in all the chaos, in a calm voice that made me listen closer, “Mainly we don’t want a crown fire, where the tops burn.” A crown fire was like a whole new level of shit.

With all the smoke and the heat I couldn’t tell if we fought back the fire or just wasted a lot of good burger fuel for nothing. I’d cut trenches in the dry underbrush, exposing dirt, so that if the fire burned out of the slash piles we made it wouldn’t go further. Grace said we were making a back burn, creating our own little Dresden there so that the big Tokyo of a fire wouldn’t have anything else to burn. You understand? Of course not, you assholes don’t know history. Dresden was like this quaint little city the Allies firebombed in Double-Ya-Double-Ya Two, and Tokyo another example of 20thCentury martial urban renewal.

Get into the flow of something like that, where you’re not quite sure you’ll live but hope to fuck you don’t die, and after a while, time is nothing. Time doesn’t slow down, it doesn’t stop, it just no longer becomes a marker by which the universe gets measured. It isn’t when it once was. What mattered to me was the dirt I exposed, the flames that didn’t cross the road, and the fire that burned itself out.

You just fought. My uncle who was in the war said that once: You just fought. First came chaos and then an organization of chaos and then chaos became your local reality, and you understood it. It developed its own rules and everything and quit being chaos. I focused entirely on one task, one general series of movements: lift Pulaski, dig into ground, turn over dirt, lift Pulaski again, repeat as necessary.

Eventually, though, this new reality came into being, a new form of chaos which I realized with a start was the way the world had been some time ago. The smoke seemed thinner, the heat less. Between Grace and Freddy and that guy on the feller buncher (which I still thought was a rocket launcher), the forest in front of us turned into a big bonfire, controlled and orderly and consuming itself and not more forest. I saw around me that other workers scrambled with wet rugs or sheets stamping out fires from falling ashes that had fallen on the wind. Other than that, the fire had not crossed the road.

“We held the line,” Grace said, but with a tone of voice that said she didn’t believe it.

“Held the line,” Freddy said.

“Did it,” I said.

“Did it. Damn it, we did it!” Grace raised her chainsaw in triumph.

“Shoulda done it faster,” Kyle said from behind us. “It almost got away from us. It got one of the fuel trucks.”

Grace glared at him, bandana long ago fallen away, but her hair still in perfect shape, only with so much smoke and ash that it looked like a black helmet. “We held the line, Kyle.”

“I really need you to listen to me closer, Grace,” Kyle said. “I’m only offering criticism for your own good.”

“Oh, fuck —”

She didn’t get the next words out. Freddy shoved her aside and they both rolled toward me, almost knocking me down. I stepped aside and let them fall, then looked up to see why Freddy had tackled Grace. The guy with the feller buncher held a burning tree in the claws of his machine. Smoke obscured his vision and he couldn’t quite see where he was going. The machine stopped and the guy let down that log, branches still on it, the crown roaring.

We later figured out that he must have seen a tree on our side of the road that caught fire, just one tree, and in our complacency we missed it. He didn’t, though. Guy saved the day, he did, and what did it matter what happened next?

He dropped the tree. Just like I’ll always remember that shred of metal whirling at me when the Zapata cannery blew up, I’ll remember that tree falling. It came down, right on an open part of the airstrip, which was what the feller-buncher dude was aiming for, a nice open spot. All would have been well and this story might have turned out different, if not that the tree in its falling, a branch of the tree in its falling, nicked Kyle.

“I need you to step aside,” I wanted to say, but couldn’t. I’ll feel a little guilty forever after that I didn’t.

The tree came down. The branch nicked Kyle. The tip was sharp. As it fell, it knocked off his helmet, and sliced right through his left ear, your basic Van Gogh chop job. Kyle reached up with his left hand, held it to his ear, and then looked down at a glob of blood in his palm. He didn’t scream, I’ll give him credit for that, but he did look mildly uncomfortable.

When Kyle’s helmet came off, this amazing pouf of silver-blond hair sprung straight up, kind of a Disco Do, just whisping over his ears and falling boyishly over Kyle’s forehead — over his squinty little eyes. But then a spark or a little flame from the burning tree hit his hair, and kawoosh, it went up like a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol, and inside of two seconds, Kyle went totally bald, nothing more than ashes on his scalp.

He rolled forward, over and over like you got taught in grade school to put out a fire if for some chance, hey, a burning tree fell on top of you and lit your precious little Disco ’Do on fire. Kyle slapped at his head and his ears, or what was left of the left one. His right leg stuck out kinda funny, and for a moment I thought it was broken. It was broken, I swear. Kyle reached down and twisted and turned it, then stood up.

His right ear dangled by a little thread of cartilage, only it didn’t bleed. At least, I thought his right ear had been ripped off, too. Kyle turned away from us for a second, did something to the side of his head, and turned back. He did this kind of dancing jig thing, took a deep breath, and smiled.

“Kyle, man, your ear got ripped off,” Samm said. “Are you OK?”

He reached up, felt for the bloody patch, reached down to the ground and picked up something that looked like a shriveled up mushroom. Kyle smeared that thing against the stump of his left ear, then smiled.

“What ear?” he asked.

Samm looked at Kyle, over at us, back at Kyle. He started to say something, then shook his head.

“Good as new,” Grace said.

Ayup, I thought.

Except he put the ear back on backwards.

 

 

Buy Links:

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30650517-truck-stop-earth

 

Amazon US https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HN3JAJS

 

Barnes and Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/truck-stop-earth-michael-a-armstrong/1123961595?ean=9780997531008

 

Kobo https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/truck-stop-earth-1

 

Michael and Leia bw

 

Author Biography:

Michael Armstrong was born in Virginia in 1956, grew up in Tampa, Florida, and moved to Anchorage, Alaska in 1979. He has lived in Homer, Alaska, since 1994. He attended the Clarion Science Fiction Writers Workshop and received a bachelor of arts from New College of Florida and a master of fine arts in creative writing from the University of Alaska Anchorage. His first novel is After the Zap. Michael’s short fiction has been published in Asimov’s, The Magazine of Science Fiction, Fiction Quarterly, and various anthologies, including Not of Woman Born, a Philip K. Dick award nominee, and several Heroes In Hell anthologies. His other novels include Agviq, The Hidden War, and Bridge Over Hell, part of the Perseid Press Heroes in Hell universe.

 

Michael has taught creative writing composition, and dog mushing. He is a reporter and photographer for the Homer News. He and his wife, Jenny Stroyeck, live in small house they built themselves on Diamond Ridge above Homer, which they share with an incredibly adorable labradoodle.

 

Social Media Links:

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/michael.a.armstrong.writer/

Twitter https://twitter.com/maaarmstrang

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4100550.Michael_A_Armstrong

Publisher http://www.theperseidpress.com/

Epicstream reviews Exordium of Tears

First published at: http://epicstream.com/reviews/Book-Review-Exordium-of-Tears-The-IX-Series-Book-2-by-Andrew-P-Weston

 

Book Review: ‘Exordium of Tears’ (The IX Series Book 2) by Andrew P. Weston

Author ThumbnailHannah Anderson –March 01, 2016
Science fiction and fantasy are all about expanding new horizons and augmenting the knowledge we currently hold. It is only fitting, then, that a new first for myself as an Epicstream reviewer come in the package of a fantasy and science fiction novel. This is the first time I have had the pleasure to read both the beginning novel of a series and its direct sequel, and that it is The IX Series by Andrew P. Weston makes that first all the sweeter.
In my review of The IX, I mentioned it is a refreshing blend of the classic elements of science fiction and fantasy. In Exordium of Tears, Weston continues this tradition of mixing the best of the best with new, thrilling storylines. The sequel follows the majority of the characters from The IX as they move toward a more democratic, established society in the wake of a long battle with the Horde, enemies with a surprising origin. This development into a more civilized way of life eventually leads the characters into interstellar travel as they attempt to resettle and reshape colonies affected by the Horde.
Although the novel itself is satisfying and fulfilling as its own work, I highly recommend readers first take in The IX before reading Exordium of Tears. As a reader who did so, I found the experience enriching. The sequel has enough nods to the first novel in The IX Series that understanding the events of The IX is helpful to reading Exordium of Tears, but it never felt like a rehash of the first novel, nor like Weston was trying too hard to expand the universe and characters he built up in The IX. The progression of the story was understandable and logically follows from the conclusion of The IX, and the same themes of honor, duty, and the survival of humanity that made The IX a favorite of mine are also present in Exordium of Tears.
One of the best aspects of reading Exordium of Tears is the way that Weston allows characters who once had minor or even passing roles in The IX a chance to flourish in new and unexpected ways. Several characters are far more prominent in Exordium of Tears, and while this growth is certainly necessary for the success of the novel, Weston writes his characters in such a natural way that the growth is never forced.
Weston doesn’t hide his characters’ flaws or mistakes, which makes them all the more admirable: they’re allowed to be human. This humanity is explored and expanded, almost to the breaking point, by the circumstances the characters encounter. These situations are neither artificial, nor forced – they’re logical consequences of decisions made or actions taken by the characters, and thus more dramatic than any deus ex machina set-up more mainstream books may employ.
The attention to detail of both the ancient Earth culture of some characters and the new, expanding culture in Exordium of Tears is astounding. Plausible explanations are provided for scientific advances, problems are solved thoroughly but realistically, and conflicts occur that seem organic and understandable. While some characters are neither sympathetic nor likeable, they only enhance the world that Weston has built in The IX Series. Relationships between characters, be they platonic or romantic, blossom in a way that feels genuine, and the perspectives that Weston shifts through to provide a multifaceted mode of delivery never complicate the overarching story or its themes. Weston maintains a precarious balancing act, an act which pays in dividends as the story of Exordium of Tears unfolds.
As Weston continues to expand The IX Series, I look forward to following the progress of the world he has crafted. If Exordium of Tears is any indication of the growth Weston will continue to undergo as a writer, the story will only get better from here.