Add one mind-controlling alien . . .

Every epic tale needs its villain. My new Fantasy book Warriors of the Blessed Realms is written against a backdrop of multiple worlds, and follows the adventures of heroes like Finn, from the Blessed Realms, and Liam, from Brisbane in Australia, as they fight the dark forces of the Vault of Seven Horns. They seek to defeat the plans of a cruel overlord, and rescue a captured priestess from a dark ritual that will give their enemy a vast increase in power. So who is the villain? Add one mind-controlling alien . . . the krell lord VoYannan!

So who are the krell? They are a solitary species that propagate without sexual union. Somewhere in their evolutionary history they took a dark, inward turn. In order to reproduce a krell must implant a krell-spawn into a host. The spawn grows in the host as a parasite until it rips its way free as a fully conscious krell. Nice eh? Heh – they are the bad guys! Each new krell possesses all the memories and talents of their progenitor, but their power as newborn krell depends on the choice of host. This is the fate of the captured priestess Sephany — unless our heroes can reach VoYannan’s ruined world and rescue Sephany from the depths of VoYannan’s dark citadel.

So why would a krell — who are always jealous of their power and control — loose a generation of krell-spawn on the universe? Because the sire and the newly born krell are mentally linked. The newly emerging krell can be leashed to their parent, and enhance the parent’s power. Yet there is a trade-off. As the new krell grows in strength, they can in turn consume and destroy their parent, as VoYannan did to his own progeninitor.

Krell don’t socialise well. In fact, they pretty much want to kill and dominate each other. Yet new krell keep coming.

The krell have awesome mind-control powers. Lord VoYannan, the ruler of the Vault of Seven Horns, controls fifty-eight planets, and dominates millions of sentient beings through direct mental control. He draws power from each, and enhances his power with each new mind brought under his control.

The Vaults themselves are dystopian SF worlds. Oppressed millions are kept in check by legions of laser-wielding brutes called Siithe, a savage race that consumes their victims (and even each other if they get the chance). Here are leaden skies, vast ruined cities, and factories manned by slaves from dozens of conquered species.

So, about the story . . .

Warriors is an epic tale spanning multiple worlds and multiple genres — fantasy, urban fantasy, and SF — where magic and high-technology go head-to-head.

VoYannan plots to unleash a devastating assault on the Blessed Realms, a coalition of six worlds with benign technology that is dedicated to preserving life. He uses an ancient Gateway on Earth to strike. His Vault forces capture the priestess Sephany, crucial to his plans, and escape.

Realm warrior Finn Evenstone sets off in pursuit, but cannot pass the Gateway used by the Vault.

Liam Durrow, sole survivor of an ancient Earth lineage, is led to Fraser Island by a vision, and uses his unique magical abilities as Keeper to open the Gateway.

Both Finn and Liam are soon battling the Vault on Earth, and in the Shadow Worlds, planets already ruined by the krell. They need all the help they can get. They are joined by tenacious Federal Agent Yolinda Paris, who has her own score to settle.

Check it out! Grab a copy of the book! Available at selected bookstores and these online retailers!

Avid Reader Bookstore

Amazon – Print and kindle

Barnes & Noble – Print and Nook

Google Books – Print

Booktopia – Print

Bookdepository – Print

Fishpond – Print

Waterstones – Print

Kobo – ebook

eBay – Print

itsi – epub

What is a Realm?

My new novel, Warriors of the Blessed Realms is out into the world, but what is a Realm?

In the exact sense, a “realm” is a community or territory over which a sovereign, such as a king, rules. Or an area or sphere of certain knowledge or activity.

In the case of Warriors, a Realm is a world. A planet.

And there are many worlds in this epic tale. One of them is Earth itself, where the story starts with central character Liam Durrow.

The Vaults of Sheol are fifty-eight planets ruled by a ruthless mind-controlling alien warlord, VoYannan, one of a solitary species called a krell that can dominate millions, growing in strength with each new mind that falls under their sway.

The Vaults are dystopian SF worlds. The enslaved populations are kept in check by legions of laser-wielding brutes called Siithe. Here desperation breeds under leaden, cloud-filled skies, which lower over vast ruined cities, while factories manned by slaves from a dozen conquered species churn out weapons of destruction.

Standing against VoYannan is The Blessed Realms, a coalition of six worlds with benign technology that is dedicated to preserving life, with magic that can stop Vault technology in its tracks. The Realms have fought VoYannan for thousands of years, containing him with steel and magic.

VoYannan plots to unleash a devastating assault on the Blessed Realms. He uses an ancient Gateway on Earth to strike. His Vault forces capture the priestess Sephany, crucial to his plans, and escape.

Realm warrior Finn Evenstone sets off in pursuit, but cannot pass the Gateway used by the Vault.

Liam Durrow, sole survivor of an ancient Earth lineage, is led to Fraser Island by a vision, and uses his unique magical abilities as Keeper to open the Gateway.

Both Finn and Liam are soon battling the Vault on Earth, and in the Shadow Worlds, planets already ruined by the krell. They need all the help they can get. They are joined by tenacious Federal Agent Yolinda Paris, who has her own score to settle.

That that’s Warriors! An epic tale spanning multiple worlds and multiple genres — fantasy, urban fantasy, and SF — where magic and high-technology go head-to-head!

Check it out! Grab a copy of the book! Available at selected bookstores and these online retailers!

Amazon – Print and kindle

Barnes & Noble – Print and Nook

Google Books – Print

Booktopia – Print

Bookdepository – Print

Fishpond – Print

Waterstones – Print

Kobo – ebook

Walmart – ebook

eBay – Print

itsi – epub

Warriors of the Blessed Realms Launches September 4 2020

The launch of Warriors of the Blessed Realms is finally here!

The online launch of the Warriors’ ebook will be on Facebook on Friday September 4 2020. Click on this link to join the online event!

There will be games and heaps of giveaways. I have prize packs of signed Jakirian Cycle books, and copies of the latest Lanedd Press edition of my SF book The Tau Ceti Diversion to give away, as well as rare editions of other collections with my stories inside to gift as prizes. The last Facebook launch, for the Lanedd Press edition of The Tau Ceti Diversion, was a great event, and I’m looking forward to sending Warriors’ off into the world in style.

Warriors’ is an epic tale, spanning multiple worlds and multiple genres — fantasy, urban fantasy, and SF. At its heart it is Heroic Fantasy, for which the works of David Gemmell gave me a life-long love.

The novel has both traditional fantasy settings as well as urban fantasy based in Brisbane and Sydney in Australia, as well as strong elements of both SF and horror. That’s quite a landscape, and a lot to balance, but readers can expected one Hell of a ride!

And the story . . .

The immortal krell lord VoYannan rules one of the Vault empires, dominating millions with the mind-powers of the solitary krell, drinking the souls of his thralls to fuel his talent. A prophecy foretells that he will leash the power of his Spawn if he can implant it in one special priestess — Sephany — and ensure it feeds on her broken spirit. 

In the Blessed Realms, Finn Evenstone, last surviving son of a once elite clan, waits for the attack. The talented Realm noble knows that the Vault will emerge through the Stonelake Gateway.

In Brisbane, Australia, Liam Durrow struggles to come to terms with strange visions. When his uncle and guardian dies in an accident, he learns he is the sole survivor of an ancient lineage. As Keeper he inherits unique magical abilities.

Using Earth as a stepping-stone, the forces of the Vault strike the Stonelake Temple and capture Sephany. A fierce battle ensues, but they escape with the priestess through the Gateway.

From Earth, Liam opens the Gateway for Finn, allowing him to continue the pursuit. They are joined by Federal Agent Yolinda Paris, who has her own score to settle with the Vault.

Their journey leads them through the Blessed Realms and other darker worlds ruined by the krell, until it reaches its climax in the court of krell lord VoYannan.

Want to read the story? Don’t forget to join the online event!

Space Lasers Fired at the Moon!

Space lasers fired at the Moon! It sounds like something from an Austin Powers movie – do you mean a “Space Laser” <air quotes> 🙂

The truth is even more interesting. Astronomers at observatories in new Mexico, Italy and Germany have been firing lasers at the Moon for 50 years as part of a long-ranging experiment that has yielded data on the tidal behaviour of Earth’s oceans, the surprising flex of the elastic lunar surface (up to 15 cms), the gradual movement of the Moon away from the Earth, and confirmation of Einstein’s gravitational theories.

Mercury's Tidally Locked Orbit
Apollo legacy lives on – through prisms

Arrays of hundreds of prisms left on the lunar surface by Apollo missions receive the incoming laser beams and bounce them back to Earth. The Apollo 11 and 14 arrays have 100 quartz glass prisms each, while the array left by Apollo 15’s astronauts has 300! The accuracy in measurement these prism arrays allow is stunning — and the experiment just keeps yielding data year after year because the arrays require no power or maintenance.

The returning signals have allowed the orbit, rotation and orientation of the Moon to be very accurately determined, and have confirmed that he the distance between the Earth and Moon is increasing by around 4 cm a year.

The experiment has highlighted the behaviour of Earth’s ocean tides, but also has shown that the lunar crust also rises and falls in a solid lunar “tide”. It has also confirmed that the Moon has a fluid core! This really surprised me, having thought (like many others) that the Moon was a “dead” rock. In fact the prevailing theory, even among scientists, was that the core would be cool and solid. The Moon’s fluid core affects the position of its north and south poles, which the experiment was sensitive to pinpoint.

The experiment has also confirmed Einstein’s theory of gravity, which assumes that the attraction between bodies is independent of their composition – proven true for the gravitational affects between the Sun and Moon, and Sun and Earth, despite the higher iron content of the Earth.

And that’s not the end for lunar reflectors. NASA has recently approved a new generation of reflectors to be positioned within the next ten years. These would be spread over a larger area, allowing more extensive analysis of lunar geography and further verification of Einstein’s gravitational theory.

Cool, huh?

Studies like this are invaluable in understanding new worlds. As a SF writer, they provide invaluable insights when it comes to building your own planets. Check out my own world-building in my SF novel, The Tau Ceti Diversion.

With the crew dead, and the starship’s jury-rigged fusion threatening a lethal explosion, Karic and the surviving officers finally reach a habitable planet. It’s a miracle, but the last thing they expected was to find that planet already occupied . . .

Get it now!

Atmosphere on a Fictional Planet

So you’ve got your story working, but how do you sketch out the atmosphere on a fictional planet? Maybe you have some idea of the mass, radius and gravity and you’ve got the orbit in the ‘sweet spot’ goldilocks zone where liquid water can be present on the surface, but what will conditions on the surface actually be like?

What sort of factors go into whether that planet, presumably an Earth-like rocky world, will have an atmosphere that can support terrestrial life?

Planets above a blue planet

The gravity of the planet is one key variable, along with surface temperature, and the strength of the planet’s magnetosphere, which can protect against atmospheric stripping due to solar wind.

The surface temperature of a planet will determine how much kinetic energy, and so velocity, the gas particles will have. If that temperature, and velocity, is high enough it will exceed the planet’s escape velocity and the molecules will fly off into space like tiny spaceship explorers. Earth has lost most of its very light gases like hydrogen and helium in this way, whereas the gas giants have enough gravity to retain them. We kept our water, and we’ve got a lot of it! If Earth was sitting where Venus is things would be different, the additional temperature would give those lighter gases like water vapour enough energy to escape, and also prevent any being trapped on the planet’s surface itself (whereas some is ‘sequestered’ on Earth as water and ice at our lower surface temperature). But beyond the early, settling down period where the lighter gases are lost, any world larger than Earth, orbiting in that goldilocks zone, will not continue to lose a significant proportion of its atmosphere through thermal processes.

Here’s a cool pictorial on thermal escape (source: Wikipedia).

Solar_system_escape_velocity_vs_surface_temperature.svg

Beyond that thermal stripping process, is where the magnetosphere comes into its own, deflecting the solar wind – one of the main non-thermal processes leading to atmospheric loss. The very thickness of a planet’s atmosphere (retained due to its gravity, and as a function of surface temperature), will also protect a planet from the solar wind, even in the absence of a magnetosphere. It’s thought that Venus’ thick atmosphere, ionized by solar radiation and the solar wind, produces magnetic moments that act out to 1.2-1.5 planetary radii away from the planet to deflect the solar wind, much like a magnetosphere (but an order of magnitude closer to the planet). In fact, it’s thought the dominant non-thermal atmospheric loss process on Venus is actually from a type of naturally induced electrical acceleration. On Venus, the stripping of the lighter electrons from the atmosphere causes an excess of positive charges, accelerating ions like H+ out of its atmosphere.

Our explorers need a breathable atmosphere, but they also need an atmospheric pressure like our own Earth’s.

My fictional planet of Cru, in the Tau Ceti Diversion, has comparable surface temperatures to Earth, but a higher surface gravity. The higher surface gravity, and its lower density, allowed me to assume a lighter atmospheric composition, and allow an atmospheric pressure, or weight of atmosphere, close to surface much like Earth’s. That atmospheric composition is crucial to having a reasonable atmospheric pressure – its not just the gravity of the planet. Venus, even though it has slighter lower gravity than Earth, has a crushing atmospheric pressure of 90 times Earth’s due to its heavier  atmosphere of CO2.

Check out what my my intrepid explorers found in my novel The Tau Ceti Diversion when they touched down on the planet!

Read it now on Amazon!

Tau-Ceti-Diversion-severed-ebook-cover (Medium)