Monday, December 26, 2016

Delay on new edition of H:I Merchant Princess

Looks like I was optimistic about a December release of H:I Lost Hope.

For those interested in what the plotting process looks like sometimes, I've attached a flow chart with  a small portion of the story. Sometimes it's hard to get all the forces at play to interact in the right way at the right time. (Note: major spoilers, but it's not the final draft.)

Sunday, October 30, 2016

New Edition of HI: Merchant Princess

Just an update ...

I'm working on a new edition of the 1st book in the series: Merchant Princess. This update is to remove some annoyances for readers. It's really the same story, so I'd advise not buying the new version.

I expect it to be live by Christmas. The 2nd book in the series, Lost Hope, should be out about then and I'd like to make sure the two books are at the same level.

... Ray

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Nice words from BookLife ...

"...a satisfyingly meaty merchant-ship based universe and a heroine you can root for make this a compelling read for space opera addicts." -- The BookLife Prize in Fiction

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Book 2- Lost Hope; Etna Station, ET 2149

Etna Station - On Station, ET 2149

Her heels clicked on the inlaid marble as Marge and Eduard Tsoget hurried up the stairs leading from the White Zone arboretum. At the top, guards with bronze headbands and ankle length robes verified their biotags with scanners in their spears, and then opened the golden gates of King Xerxes Palace, the new system-wide convention center on Etna station. Inside the entrance a concubine draped in silks led the Tsogets through a double column of catalpa trees and into a central courtyard where a massive plane tree sheltered a circle of tables and a dais. From there rose music from pan flutes and tablas played by three women in white linen sitting cross legged on cushions.

Marge stopped and took her husband’s arm. “Wait, dear. Let me check your tie."

Eduard stopped to let his wife fuss with his tuxedo, the first he had warn since their wedding a decade ago. He took the handkerchief from his breast pocket and wiped his forehead.

She took the handkerchief, folded it, and returned it to his breast pocket. “Don’t worry, dear. They want to reward you for you scholarship.”

“No one else has.”

“You know your research is too controversial. The ArchTrope is very influential on Calliope. But here they are free and respect your scientific rigor. Did they tell you of the projects they have assigned to you?”

Eduard frowned. “Not yet. The Chairman said we would review it before the party.”

“The stipend and salary are phenomenal.”

“It’s for both of us, Marge. Now we’ll be able to send the boys back to university on Sirius if they qualify. Even Earth.”

A beautiful woman dressed in a floor length powder blue evening gown split up the leg to the hip walked up to them on the arm of a man wearing an impeccable dinner jacket. “Ah, there you are Mr. and Mrs. Tsoget,” she said. “Let me introduce you to Chairman Julian Yutousov.”

The Chairman extended his hand. “Jules, please. No need for formality among friends. I hope your reception is to your liking?”

Eduard shook his hand. “Of course. I’ve reviewed articles written by your guests tonight, all distinguished in their fields.”

“As are you, Eduard. May I call you Eduard?” he asked but continued without waiting for a reply. 
“And they speak very highly of you. Do you have time for a private word before dinner?”

“Of course, Jules. Please give me a moment to check on our children first.”

“Certainly. Miss Blanchette will guide you. If you will excuse me until then.” He bowed and left.

While Miss Blanchette waited, Eduard and Marge found an alcove behind a catalpa tree and called their hotel.

“Timogen, come to the phone, please,” she said. “Is everything OK?”

A hologram of her older son displayed from the communications link on her bracelet. “Ulie is being a butt and Sansin won’t stop crying.”

Eduard rolled his eyes. “Are they safe?”

“Sure, pop. Say when are we gonna get—”

“Just checking in, dear,” Marge said. “We need to run now.”

“But mom—”

“See you after the party.” She turned to Eduard with a smile. “Now for that offer. Miss Blanchette. 
We’re ready now.”

The assistant led them into an office beyond the plane tree.

“Is this about the stipend?” Marge asked.

Miss Blanchette said with a stunning smile. “In a way, Mrs. Tsoget. Mr. Yutousov, the Tsogets are here.”

The Chairman rose from behind a clear desk that held only a small lamp. “Excellent.” Putting a hand on Eduard’s shoulder, he waved his hands towards two chairs. “Sit, please. Can I offer you wine? It is exquisite. No? Water perhaps?” They nodded. “Yes, excellent. Miss Blanchette if you please.”

His assistant left, returned quickly with two glasses of water, and closed the door behind her.

Yutousov sat and waved a few fingers at a wall and technical diagrams and graphs appeared. “Now a bit more on your research.”

“Well, I’m sure you read my paper,” Eduard said.

“It is quite dense, Eduard. Summarize for me.”

Eduard leaned forward in the chair and smiled. “Well, it started as an academic question into how much could be deduced from mitochondrial DNA signatures in a population. For a hundred years we’ve used the standard Tokana method, but the chromosome lines became too complex. It was simply an experiment to establish baselines and topology thresholds for bloodlines within…”

Yutousov flipped a finger and a footnote appeared. “What is this incidental comment about the ArchTrope?”

“Well, we took one base samples from Genghis Khan. That produced an anomalous result that there is less of the Khan’s DNA in the ArchTrope than in the background of the population. It is so absent that he might have been from Sirius, rather than Earth.”

“Where did the DNA profile come from?”

“Birth records for his mother. She was sainted and her life is very well documented.”

“Then the sample could miss his father’s genome.”

“No, it’s from the footprint on the birth record,” Eduard said.

“So, in essence, your analysis implies that spiritual leader for hundreds of millions of followers is not descended from Genghis Kahn as he claims.”

Eduard squirmed in his chair. “Ah, well, that’s an unfortunate inference, but it’s just an academic study. As I said it was an outlier, the exception that identified the three-sigma limit to the method.”

“So it was done as an exercise, without controls?”

“Oh, no, sir. The strictest protocols—”

Yutousov nodded but waved his hand. “I’m sure, Ed, but we will need you to disavow your research, before we can proceed with your appointment. Your work is a bit too contentious, even for us here at the institute.”

“It’s a technique, not a—”

“Someone might repeat it.”

Eduard’s brow furrowed. “Well... yes. The methodology is valid.”

“I’m sorry, Ed, but I think you missed the point. Surely you did not think that the ArchTrope would let this go. Decendence from all the great prophets and warlords is a pillar of his legitimacy.”

Eduard’s mood cratered. This was the familiar conversation he heard ever since publication of his research paper. He had to publish: if he didn’t he would forfeit a grant he had already spent and his family would end up on a labor asteroid. No one questioned the protocols but rather congratulated him on his work and complimented him on his brilliant insights. However, every interview ended with the same concern: the ArchTrope’s pedigree. What was only intended to be an example implementation became instead the focus of all the peer reviews.

“But…wait. This is simply an academic issue. I was assured that—”

“You only need to repudiate the efficacy of your methodology.”

“Scientific integrity demands that I defend…” Eduard began but his voice trailed off when a video projected from Yutousov’s desk displayed their three children with strange men in black uniforms behind them.

“My request is straight-forward and—”

“You can’t,” Marge said.

“Of course we can. And if you comply, your stipend and salary will be put in escrow. It is guaranteed. The both of you.”

The Tsogets looked at each other. Marge nodded.

Yutousov glanced at his link. “We have only a minute for your decision.  I assure you that you will see your children tonight.”

Eduard sighed and with a tissue sample from his thumb, officially lied: he authenticated the document that appeared on the desk; a form which stipulated that the DNA profile from the ArchTrope was taken from a lab technician and not the birth records. That approval also covered legal consents and powers of attorney that Eduard and Marge did not see.

 “Ah, very good,” Yutousov said. “This is all for the best. Now Miss Blanchette will escort you to your reception and I hope that you have a wonderful evening.”

His assistant entered the room and before the Tsogets could rise, she touched them both in the neck with her finger. Eduard struggled to get up but cringed and slumped back into the chair.

The Chairman leaned with his elbows on the desk.  “Marge, Ed, please don’t struggle. It’s a catatonic and only uncomfortable if you resist. I’m sorry I mislead you, but you must stay with us for a short while. The addiction is quite rapid and withdrawal extremely painful. You understand, this is just business.”

Eduard stared at the display where his kids were being hustled out of the room. He grimaced but could not scream.

“Don’t fret, Ed. They will live. The ArchTrope needs brilliant young men as I am sure your sons will grow to be.” Yutousov Chairman turned to the display. “Now, now, boys your parents will be home soon. Go with these men and be patient a while longer, please.” He swapped the image to another with charts and manifests, and looked between them. “Normally I don’t get involved in this end of the business anymore, but, ah well.” He turned to Miss Blanchette. “I don’t think we will be able to wait on this. Calliope is short kidneys and pituitaries with her tissue match.”

Unable to turn her head, Marge Tsoget’s brow furrowed and eyes darted to her husband and Yutousov as the technicians carried her to a cart and took her to the organ donation clinic on Etna Station. It would be only a few more months in the drug dens before Eduard’s organs followed her.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Home: Interstellar - Free May 4 and 5

A two day promotion is set for today and tomorrow only ...

** Free ** May 4 and 5 only:

Home: Interstellar - Merchant Princess
"Hard sci-fi with a heart...complex, compelling tale of galactic intrigue."  --Kirkus Reviews.

"In Home: Interstellar by Ray Strong we are presented with a strong blending of genres, a science fiction tale that reads like a pilgrimage with a haunted and haunting female character who combines strength and grace in a way that instantly wins the reader over to her perspective and her values, her every cause.  ... The characters here are fully realized, vivid and alive, and often do surprising things - or do / say things that are very human, which can be rare.  I especially like Meriel, who wins the reader over early and often and seems fully realized on the page, alive and breathing..." -- Writer's Digest.

Finalist: Writers Digest Self-Published e-Book Awards, Genre Fiction.

The happy life of twelve-year-old spacer Meriel Hope, her sister, and friends are torn apart when pirates attack their home – the merchant ship Princess – and slaughter their parents. Ten years of drugs, separation, and fear later, the galaxy has forgotten about the attack. But Meriel still searches for the reason why. When she finds the reason, she and the orphans become targets for the conspirators again who fear what they might remember and who they could implicate.

Follow the adventures of Meriel Hope and her fight for survival in an unforgiving universe.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Grace ...

Here's another excerpt from de Merlner's Diary

From The Diary of Neuchar de Merlner, Europa, 2112
Verse 57: Nova Conta, Section 6
La grĂ¢ce (Grace)

God offers us all redemption without condition and the peace that comes from it. But we have no proof of this peace if it is offered only in heaven and only after we die. If we have no proof in this life, then why should we bother with God? 

We bother because the peace that is offered is the peace during our life, not peace in heaven: redemption occurs here while you breathe and forgiveness comes from God.

It is beyond mere mortals made of heart and flesh to forgive the callous murder of the innocent. And it is beyond us to forgive ourselves for those deepest of sins, those acts of knowing cruelty that warp the skeletons of our adulthood with guilt. But God can forgive and will if you ask. That is why it is called God’s grace, and why it is a miracle.

And granted that miracle we may live our lives again and benefit others, not to seek forgiveness, but because we’ve been blessed.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

A bit about Neuchar de Merlner ...

I thought you might want to know more about Neuchar de Merlner. Exerpts from de Merlner's books and diaries are included here and in the H:I series because Meriel's family, including her mother's friend, Teddy, sometimes sought guidance in his thoughts. Included to the right is "As If By God's Hand." Others excerpts will follow.

"Neuchar de Merlner taught philosophy at the University of Europa, Martinsburg, during the twenty-second century. His early treatises on epistemology and hermeneutics focused on observation and validation. Though well regarded, his brethren considered him too grounded in science for their lofty speculations. De Merlner is much better known for his less rigorous works such as the aphorisms published in his Diary.  Considered a post-modern ecstatic philosopher, de Merlner incorporated the Greek ‘anima’ and the spiritual into his writings to comment upon the existential human experience. As such, he was deeply loved or hated depending upon the religious convictions of the reader." 

(ref. Galactipedia)

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Arc of History

... one of the lighter aphorisms of de Merlner.

Verse 63: Nova Conta, Section 8

L'arc de l'histoire (The Arc of History)

History is not geology or astronomy… it is human history: the decisions, hopes, and desires, translated into passionate actions by humans, therefore its trajectory is not written in stone or the stars.

For the wheel of history traces not a cycloid, or a disembodied moral arc leading us back to Eden or toward utopia, but the vector sum of the actions of individual humans, and therefore is not inevitable. 

(c) 2015 B. R. Strong, Jr.