Dark Places

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It’s dangerous outside the League. The path to a sensitive data leak leads Micah Stone and his team from glamorous parties with movie stars to the sleaziest town in the sleaziest part of space: the Kensie Free Systems. Micah and his team are abducted and must face assassins, gangsters and solicitors to rescue them. The assassins are not human and they fight as part of a sport known as BloodRing.

Book eight in the Stone Blade series. Micah and his team go from glitz and glamour to one of the scuzziest places they’ve ever been. Their mission starts out tracking leaked League military intelligence and ends up with them facing an army of assassins… and worse.

This is by far the darkest book in the series so far. When a petty group of lightweight solicitors and their slimy minions take Micah to a dark place, he shows just how nasty he can be. Then they up the ante. They mess with his friends. All the demons Micah has fought up until now surface and he vents them through his anger as he does what needs to be done.

In other news, I’m stuck on the next two Stone Blade stories so I’ve decided to take a hiatus. I’m currently working on a (planned) four-book fantasy series. Don’t worry, though. There’s still a lot of action in the League and outside it. Dr. Kincaid never runs out of things to say and I’m also still active on the open-source Java front. This is just a little vacation for me.

-matt

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Against the Stasis Quo

Whew! My hyperlink comm is finally back online and Dr. Kincaid has quite a few things to say. As always (Sorry, couldn’t resist that one, Dr. K.) He had this to say about stasis and why it is not a good idea.

“I’ve received a few questions about stasis pods and why travelers in the League don’t use them more often. Most of them read something like ‘If stasis is such an easy option, why not just freeze yourself and travel that way.’

“My first response to this is ‘Phase down! Stasis is NOT an easy option.’ Despite what you may have seen in the movies – do you even have League movies there? – Stasis is never as simple as ‘climb into the pod, push a button and done.’ Stasis, or physio-neural stasis induction, is a very complicated and dangerous procedure. It is also fraught with misconception thanks to Arn Ironhand and his ‘Lethal Max’ character.

“The basic process, commonly called ‘freezing,’ is cellular entropic damping. Most people lose awareness early in the induction process but the few who didn’t describe the feeling differently. They all say they felt no temperature. They were not hot, warm, cool, cold or even comfortable. It was, they say, the total absence of temperature. Healer’s Guild researchers theorize that, for these people, consciousness lasted a few seconds past the damping of their cerebral impulses.

“That’s what stasis is. It literally shuts down 99.999% of all electrical activity in your body. Yes, that is 0.001% away from death and that’s what makes it so dangerous. The human body is designed to be active, even when you’re asleep, and non-activity is an unnatural state. It is also not possible without proper preparation. The biggest part of this is the pre-stasis drug. By now those of you who have seen any of the Kace Karson, Patrol Ranger episodes are seeing him shouting ‘Green jolt. Now!’ That’s one of them, it’s the best-known and it is the most dangerous of them all.

“Administering a prestasis drug is tricky and it has to be exactly right. It slows neural activity and prompts the internal organs to shut down. In order to have a good freeze, the organs and every cell within them must achieve a certain level of saturation. The spiky part is ensuring that the first cells affected don’t over-saturate before the last cells reach minimum. If that happens you probably won’t survive the freeze. If you activate the field early, the cells that don’t saturate properly die.

“The best way to enter freeze is to spend at least twelve hours building up cellular saturation levels. That’s best done under sedation and with nothing in your stomach. Once saturation is optimal, the field is activated and cellular activity in your body gradually stops.

“If you have a good freeze, the battle is halfway won. The only obstacle left is proper revival. This is called decanting and it’s a lot more accurate than ‘freezing.’ The first order of business is flushing the prestasis drug. They are designed for that and massive doses of the flushing agents don’t have any harmful effects but there is one minor problem. In stasis, your cardiovascular system is shut down. That means you don’t have a working heart to circulate the medicine. That means it has to be done externally and that’s never a sure thing.

“Once the prestasis agent is gone, or at least below 5% saturation, the physical body can be revived. That process has to be competed within about a hundred and thirty seconds or you may suffer irreparable brain damage. The good news there is that our medics are all ruddy good at decanting and revival. Survey and Guild medics are certified in it.

“So. The next time someone says ‘Just pop them in stasis,’ look them in the eye and say ‘You first. I think I’ll wait.’ You’ll be a lot safer that way.”

F. R. Kincaid, PhD, ArG

If you’re interested in the universe about which Dr. Kincaid speaks, you can read all about it in A Pattern of Details and the Stone Blade series:
http://moldyripegrape.wix.com/newstarstradeleague
http://amazon.com/author/jamescoxjr
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/JamesMattCox

I also have a few things to say on my own so I’ll try to be more blog-faithful than I have these past few months. Book sales are still down, I haven’t yet sold my screenplay and I also have Java projects and an RPG system to maintain but I’ll do my best.

Ciao;

-matt

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Trouble In Paradise-Not

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Illegal drugs are bad and worse when they lead to death. More so when it happens to a young couple in the Lost Angels sector on their graduation night. That tragedy embroils Micah and his team in an under-the-garble mission where they find corruption at the highest levels not of one government but two. Failure threatens the existence of Intelligence itself and success may land Micah in prison.

WHEW! And again I say Whew! I don’t know why (actually I do) but this book has been a monster to get ready. But it is finally DONE. Now maybe I’ll be able to get back to blogging more than once in a blue moon. Ah well, enough blathering.

The League always has trouble with drug smuggling on its border with the Metazan Republic. Now the problem is even worse. The niece of the Lost Angels Sector’s Governance Board Chairperson died from a new ‘import’ the night of her graduation. Lost Angels and its sector senator really don’t like League Intelligence and are quick to capitalize on this chance to shut them down. Totally and permanently. Micah and his team must now delicately trace the connections that will lead them to the cause of the tragedy and, somehow, prevent it from happening again.

Ultimately they find massive, high-level corruption not only in one government but TWO. What’s more, they’re not allowed to touch one of them. As if that’s not enough, their investigation leads them afoul of the Patrol Rangers, the most elite law-enforcement unit within the League. Now Micah must convince the Rangers not to put him in jail, all the while battling his newly-resurrected personal demons come back to haunt him.

One of the main reasons I haven’t been blogging is that I’m still trying to get my RPG printed in paperback. Man. NOT easy. But, at least now I have one less thing to worry about. So, I should be back soon with more cool posts. I hope!

Ciao;

-matt

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Drive Thru, Thru, Thru…

I just uploaded Lethal Max to DriveThruFiction. That’s all of them so far. No sales yet but lots of views, some of them within five minutes of my uploading them. Still working furiously on my game system. That’s a monster AND an iceberg! I get one thing done and that leads to a dozen things I need to do in addition! Whew!

In other news my books are still selling slowly. I’m not giving up on it but sheesh! It’s ruddy discouraging.

-matt

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Just Driving Thru…

Well, I’ve found another potential distribution site. It’s called DriveThruFiction and the web page is

http://www.drivethrufiction.com/

It’s a subsidiary of another publishing company, http://onebookshelf.com/ , and in addition to a fiction publishing site it also has several gaming sites associated with it. By ‘gaming’ I mean pencil-and-dice roleplaying games, which I enjoy playing and running. I put A Pattern of Details there, free of course, and here’s the link:

http://www.drivethrufiction.com/product/152399/A-Pattern-of-Details

It’s too soon to say anything for certain. My book just went live. I will say a few things. The PDF format they require is a bit odd compared to other sites but not terribly so. The navigation also has a learning curve but not a bad one. My overall impression so far is good. I’ll be uploading my other books soon and I’ll report back when that happens.

Dr. Kincaid has been quiet for a while so I’ll probably work in another “Writing About Writing” blog as I can. Right now I’m working on my own RPG system. I’ve also got one book in the Stone Blade series cooking and another in a spinoff from Double Bait. I’ll post news as it happens.

*puts on shades and revs engine*

Ciao for now;

-matt

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A Honeymoon Among the Stars!

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It’s a royal wedding to lift the heaviest heart as Micah and Jenn Stone depart on their honeymoon cruise. Aboard ship they find their favorite movie stars, all bound for a goodwill tour of the Semid Federation. Disaster strikes when the ship is hijacked by a madman intent on revenge. Micah is left with little more than his wits to inform his friends of his plight and, somehow, effect a rescue!

Micah Stone and his fiancee Jenn finally tie the knot! They are married in a royal wedding in the Star Crown sector attended by the king himself! After the ceremony and many celebrations thereof, Micah and Jenn depart on their honeymoon cruise. They expect, and discover, many wonderful surprises and rich desserts courtesy of their wonderful large new family. Among the most wonderful: they’re on a cruise ship full of celebrities! The core cast of the League-famous (and beyond) Lethal Max movie series are also aboard along with equally famous musicians. They’re all bound for a goodwill tour of the Semid Federation.

All does not go as planned, though! Just before landing on the luxury world of Kathros the ship is hijacked! As Micah works desperately to effect a rescue he makes a chilling discovery: the hijacker is a madman with grandiose designs of a complex revenge to whom ransom means nothing. Worse still, even if he manages to defeat the criminals and save everyone else the consequences may shatter Jenn and himself!

Lethal Max is, pure and simple, an over-the-top action adventure. I do love a good, all-American adventure movie and this story is a tribute to some of my favorites. There is action. There is suspense. There is intrigue. There is romance! And, of course, all of the heroes must overcome overwhelming odds in order to save the day!

-matt
http://moldyripegrape.wix.com/newstarstradeleague
http://amazon.com/author/jamescoxjr
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/JamesMattCox

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Writing About Books: A Pattern of Details.

Grrr… I just had my first encounter with windoze 8 today. I hate it! Every time a new version comes out I think “There’s no way m$ can screw things up any worse. Every time they prove me wrong. So, to alleviate my frustration, I decided to blog about something I always enjoy. My own books! This is also semi-related to my “Writing on Writing” series and I plan to do more hand-in-hand articles. Interspersed, of course, with Java/MathTools news and missives from Dr. Kincaid, never fear!

———-

As do most of my books, A Pattern of Details began with a character. The main character of that book is, for lack of a more accurate word, a nerd. A geek. A stereotypical geek. Technician Morris Taylor is the absolute master of his craft. He is a proud member of the Technical Guild and totally devoted to what he does. He is also limited in his ability to interact socially with others. As is the case with so many, he tends to apply his analytic skills to his own perceived social lacks but, without positive experience, he finds no ‘optimal solution vector.’

The story begins with Morris ending his day too early to quit but too late to start another assignment. After an evening out with his best friend (also aTech) he receives an assignment outside the League teaching a class in the Halcyon Region. I can say from personal experience this is a traumatic event and Morris sees it as such. The Tech Guild motto, however, is “Will do!” so Morris accepts the assignment.

What follows is a series of similarly traumatic events wherein Morris is forced to interact with people on a closer and more frequent basis, some of whom are VERY attractive women (the most terrifying creatures of all to a shy, introverted male geek!). Being who he is, Morris manages to acclimate himself to the teaching routine and even enjoy it. Then, just when his life has settled into a predictable routine, chaos rears its ugly head.

The entire League team is recalled and, along with one of the Halcyon teachers and three grad students, sent on a mission well outside League and Halcyon space. Their assignment: conduct primary exploration and build a base for follow-up investigation of a just-discovered Imperium advanced base abandoned for thousands of years!

As the voyage progresses Morris and the investigation team begin experiencing accidents. The first is quite serious but none of the rest are, at least at first. As the severity slowly escalates Morris realizes there is a traitor among them! It then falls on his shoulders to discover this saboteur and keep the rest of them alive, all without telling anyone! The journey culminates with a live-or-die encounter in which Morris discovers that he’s not just dealing with a saboteur but a well-trained assassin!

I wrote the original to this story back in the 80’s and revised it mid-90’s. “The League” was a nebulous place, roughly corresponding to “The Good Guys” and the Halcyon Autonomous Region was, again nebulously, “A Place Away From Home.” Then, after multiple query-letter rejections, I elected to go the indie author route for publishing my books. I wasn’t sure how it would work and I didn’t want to potentially mess up my nascent series (Stone Blade, of which I’d already written the first story and several more), so I decided to re-re-rewrite APoD and retrofit it into the new League, about which I now knew a lot more.

Interestingly, A Pattern of Details fit its back- and forward-linking eminently well. It takes place somewhere between book 1 of the series (Stone Blade) and book 3 (The Radical Factor). I mention that because it represents a very important “Ah-HAA!” moment for me as an author. The fact that the stories meshed so well together, despite one having been written, originally, some thirty years ago (Dang! I’m OLD!), convinced me that I was meant to be an author.

Without a doubt, the thing I like best about APoD is its exploration of character motivation and perception of other characters. We see the universe, and hence the story, through Morris’ eyes and experience. He himself doesn’t realize just how much he’s grown until the end, when he has to look back and see it. It was also a chance to try my hand at subtle direction and misdirection, and my friends who read the book tell me I succeeded. I’ll take that as a compliment since they’re good enough friends to say “Hey, that’s crap!” if that’s what they think.

If you’re still reading, and interested, A Pattern of Details is available as a FREE DOWNLOAD in the format of your choice from Smashwords. (Shameless self-promotion!!) Of course my other books are also available, just not for free!

I hope you enjoyed this. More to come soon;

-matt
http://moldyripegrape.wix.com/newstarstradeleague
http://amazon.com/author/jamescoxjr
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/JamesMattCox

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