Tag Archives: Jessica Keller

The Ages of Man (An Alexandria Station Timeline)

Depending on how you want to count them, several different dates in the Twentieth Century Christian Era (CE) can become our zero point for counting the future.

The first might be Einstein’s Annus Mirabilis (the year of Miracles) in CE 1905, when he first published the papers that would revolutionize science, including E=MC^2.

A useful second touch point is Chicago Pile 1, the first man-made nuclear reactor to sustain fission, under the stadium in Chicago in CE 1942, under the direction of Enrico Fermi. This is the beginning of an advanced understanding of how the universe itself works, finally translated into practical terms.

Another would be Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s publication of a theoretical description of using near-earth-orbit to establish a network of communication satellites in CE 1945.

I have chosen a more interesting date.

In CE 1961, Vostok 1 (Orient or East) carried the first human into space and orbit, Yuri Gagarin. At that moment, humanity began to take to the stars. It would be a long painful task, but it began there. We were no longer limited to the ground. Other milestones followed, as human and robotic explorers pushed the boundaries of space and knowledge.

But instead of talking about the first century of spaceflight, I wanted to blog today about the history of the future I had to put together when I realized that Suvi was going to try to live forever.

Her birthday was just the other day. I have it in my phone, along with a variety of others, to remind me. For her, it was a rainy Sunday in March. The day was March 18, CE 7426. (The app I use, Easy Birthday Reminders for Android, is smart enough to show her age as -5410.)

In the fifty-four centuries between then and now, lots of things will happen in the futures I’ve imagined. I’ve alluded to them from time to time. Today I felt like listing them out, so people have a feel for the when behind the Alexandria Station stories.

(I have them all organized on a spreadsheet that I currently have open. There are over one hundred entries right now.)

The Gas Sailors stories will take place around CE 2344. They involve colonies on the four big outer planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus. (Assuming the newly-described theoretical Planet IX does not get located soon. The man who killed Pluto thinks there really is a ninth planet out there, the definition of planet being a body large enough to sweep its orbital path clear, which Pluto does not do.) There will be adventures on the scores of moons, plus Kuiper objects and comets. Think very, very hard science, the kind that might bog you down on getting the orbital physics right. (I tend to write popcorn science fiction where the technology is kind of hand-waved off, because I don’t want to write technobabble about technologies that don’t even follow our current models of physics.)

According to my notes, the first starflight takes place in CE 2903 and opens up the first era of practical interstellar exploration. It is during this period that humans discover nobody is home, and begin the process of terraforming worlds by dropping customized modification packages on them.

The era of mass colonization begins in CE 3215, after enough worlds have gotten close enough to Earth that humans can walk safely on the surface of some of them.

For those of you who have read The Mind Field, you might have a feel for some of the to-her-recent-history periods Wilhelmina Teague knows.

The Resource Wars begin around CE 4334.

The Corporate Wars are going to be fought starting in CE 5838.

Finally, the Pocket Empires Era takes off in CE 6516.

Rama Treadwell was born in CE 6848 and disappears from human history in CE 6896, with the Unification Wars collectively starting in CE 6903.

Imperial Balustrade is proclaimed in CE 6930, and the planet A’Nacia is destroyed on standard August 15, CE 6964, leading to the Union of Worlds in CE 6965.

Wilhelmina Teague will be born in CE 7029, but she never me told her birthday and I didn’t ask. I do know she was trapped in the minefield in CE 7059, and rescued in CE 7548.

The Concord is founded in CE 7118 at the time when the Union of Worlds and Balustrade are beginning to ebb. By CE 7382, Neu Berne was a major player and started a long series of low and medium-impact wars that eventually escalated into the Great Wars that fundamentally crippled Neu Berne, The Union, and Balustrade, leaving The Concord as the default Hegemon for most of the (Earth-centered) inhabited galaxy by CE 7472.

Javier Aritza was born in CE 7510. Zakhar Sokolov was fourteen years old at that point. Djamila Sykora will be born three years later. They all meet for the first time in CE 7547.

Time passes and we have a major gap known collectively as The (Middle and Late) Concord Eras.

In CE 10389, the Liberty Front is founded as a political party dedicated to ending the dominance of Earth in galactic affairs. Five years later, they transformed themselves into a formal military outfit and declared open war. This involved mass production of AI-piloted warships that did not have human crews and were not programmed with the preservation of human life as one of their prime tenets.

This would have impressively negative consequences when one of these fleets, commanded by a Sentience and without any human intervention, decided that the most efficient way to end the threat of Earth was to destroy it. The mixed human and AI fleet defending Earth was defeated by suicide tactics of the Sentience, after which a number of damaged warships were deliberately piloted into the lower atmosphere of the planet to explode, wreaking unbelievable devastation.

When that was insufficient to complete the job, the robots began wholesale bombardment of the Earth and destruction of all orbital platforms and off-planet bases. This eventually took the form of attaching big enough engines to large enough rocks to slam miles-wide meteors into the planet repeatedly.

When they were done, the gravity of semi-molten Earth had increased nearly five percent and all life on the planet, land or sea-based, was over.

In retribution, Earth-based forces did the same to the planets of The Liberty Front.

In ten years, almost all advanced manufacturing, galaxy-wide, came to an end, there being no automated factories of any significant size left. In a generation, most of humanity collapsed, and significant portions of it died off. Those worlds that survived generally fell back to extremely primitive technology levels, from which a few would survive, thrive, and re-establish modern culture.

Zanzibar recovered stellar technology first, in CE 12206. They made first contact with Ballard in CE 12243 and established trade relations. Vanessa, the daughter of the first Zanzibar Ambassador to Ballard,  married a local (aquatic) sailor named Thorson. Their fourth child is Doyle Iwakuma, the famous explorer, born standard CE September 17, 12263.

Ngoma Mwisho, The Last Waltz, first flew in CE 12295, and Doyle rescued Suvi from the darkness in CE 12300. Alexandria Station was completed in Ballard orbit in CE 12305 and would be Suvi’s home until CE 13441.

Henri Baudin was born in CE 13059, and famously walked The Story Road in CE 13083.

Emmerich Wachturm, Imperial Admiral of the Red, was born in CE  13391.

Jessica Keller was born in CE 13405, and takes command of CVS Auberon in 13439.

Suvi will make the acquaintance of Jean-Pierre Orfèvre in CE 15006.


And the rest, as they say, is history.

Queen of the Pirates, and other news

So about now, the next Hive story, entitled Moonshot, has been finally published on all the major sites. It’s the next sequel to Myrmidons, and features everybody’s favorite psychic ant nest in her further adventures. This time, she steals technology from the gods so that she can demonstrate the non-primacy of man as alpha predator.

Because even ants dream…

Also, starting Monday (8/10), I am having another round of Goodreads Giveaways for Auberon (enabled for US, UK, Canada, and Australia separately) for a print version of the first Jessica Keller novel, as we prepare for the release of the second novel in the series, Queen of the Pirates, currently available for pre-order on most major internet retailers.

Queen is Jessica’s story after she gets home from the Long Raid in book one. To some, she’s a hero. To others, an insubordinate plebe who has risen too far above her station. The First Lord and the Premier want her to become something more than just an excellent commander, so they send her to a quiet front to practice diplomacy with a friendly neighbor.

Once there, she uncovers a plot to destabilize the entire frontier, driven by Imperial Admiral Emmerich Wachturm. The conspiracy keeps getting deeper as she probes, and she must find friends among her enemies if she is going to turn the tide, before a final battle that sees her go beyond everything anyone imagined.

It’s a longer piece than Auberon (90k vs 60k). As I got into it, I realized I had a much larger story to tell. Worse, in the middle of it, Arnulf turns to Jessica and says “Tell about your founding legends for the Republic of Aquitaine.” So I had to stop and figure those out, literally in the middle of a chapter, before I could continue.

The result of that was the novella The Story Road, the first of what will be several Henri Baudin stories. (Word of advice: The Story Road is, as I have mentioned elsewhere, a slipstream of magic realism and science fiction. I mean, let’s face it: Henri is a bard. Literally a man who busks for a living. And he stumbles across how to reignite galactic civilization in the aftermath of the the Darkness.)

It’s not going to be everybody’s cup of tea. It is a quiet piece. No gunfights, no car chases, no great romantic conflicts or conquests. It also contains more adult content. If you want sarcasm and combat, stick with Jessica and Javier.

I rather enjoyed writing The Story Road, because it’s Henri as a young man, long before he Founds the Republic of Aquitaine, of which Jessica will be born to defend. It’s magic realism, so I get to color outside the normal lines in Jessica and Javier’s universe, where everything is grounded in realism and normalcy. It’s quiet and strange, because one hallmark of magic realism is the fact that you never know if the things you see are real or just in your head.

Henri never knows. It doesn’t stop him from pursuing his dream, and accidentally up-ending the entire galaxy along the way.

But back to Queen. Read them in either order, Queen or The Story Road, but the concept of the powerful magic of Founding Legends will be more apparent when Jessica is talking to Arnulf about them. It becomes all the more so when Emmerich shares his own founding legends from the Empire, and how they differ from Aquitaine. (It’s a very interesting dinner party conversation, as one might imagine.)

And, Queen ends on something of a good cliff-hanger, as one would expect from book two of a trilogy. That’s planned. It’s the end of Act II, after all, when things are supposed to be as bad as they can get. It flows right into the third novel, Last of the Immortals, which is just about done and ready to go to my first readers in the next few weeks, with a publication date in mid-November, just before Ory Con down in Portland, OR. Structurally, you might compare it to the end of Empire and the beginning of Jedi. (Not that I think they are that equal as action adventures, but the pattern of story-telling follows the same river.)

As I said above, Queen is now available for pre-order on the major sites. And I plan to be at World Con in Spokane, WA in a little more than a week. I’ll have a few physical copies of both Auberon and Queen if you want to pick one up then and have it signed at the con. (If you can’t make the con and still want one, send me an email and we’ll work out details. Fabulous Publisher Babe(tm) is good at handling that sort of thing for me.)

For those of you keeping score at home: the house is finally done and I might be able to move into it this week. And the wedding was awesome. Her brother officiated and everyone was well fed and enjoyed all the wine and mead I made (36 bottles when we decanted the carboys). There’s even video on FB.

Once Queen comes out, I can finally say my crazy summer has reached a point where things might settle down and I can enjoy life without the constant churn. I’m looking forward to setting a table down in the upper meadow, under the two big trees, where I can sit and write in the shade, and listen to the little critters chirp and argue. Once Immortals is done, I’m onto my fall projects: something for the next camp-con anthology (Tales from an Alien Campfire being the 2015 edition); some more Javier, some more Dieselpunk, some more I-dunno.

It will be fun. And feel free to drop me a line occasionally. I try to answer in a reasonable manner, given that the day-job still intrudes and I will shortly have a much longer commute both ways.

shade and sweet water…



Why Auberon

I spent last year writing in a variety of genre, partly as an experiment, partly because I had (have!) so many ideas floating around in my head and wanted to get as many of them done as I could. Towards the end of the year, I had an experience with a group of professional writers where many of them came across as looking down their snooty noses at me because they were novelists and I was merely a writer.

To prove a point, I decided that it was time for me to write a novel. At the same time, my sweetie suggested that from a marketing and career standpoint, novels sell better long-term and make the author more money overall.

Mind you, that’s not my normal wheel-house for story-telling. For me, the novella is a wonderful place. 20k-30k words is long enough to build a world, introduce characters, and romp around, without needing to have a number of complex threads that must be pulled together and balanced. I had already written several novellas at that point, including one that is technically a novel by length, but not by style.

So it was time for me to write a novel. What to write?

As any writer will tell you, the question is not “where do you get your ideas?” but rather “how do you make them stop long enough to write something?” (And that’s a whole different discussion we might have later, over beer.)

I was at an event with my sweetie, down in Portland, OR, at a book signing organized by Powell’s Books. It was huge, and there were a lot of big hitters there signing, as well as mid-listers. My job at these sorts of things is “supportive spouse.” Running errands, hauling heavy bags for Phyl, whatever. I had a lot of time to kill looking at the racks.

My great complaint these days is finding the kind of book I want to read. Traditional (Manhattan Island) Publishing is deep into a number of sub-genres of SF that bore me to tears. And I hate to count all the times I’ve run into writers who say, “I had to write the book I wanted to read.” But there is truth there. In two hours and several thousand titles, nothing jumped out at me enough to buy. I had a half dozen maybes, but nothing I wanted: big space opera SF that was a-political and not a media tie-in (that is, written in the world of some television series, or movie, or table-top board game, to name the three big ones these days.)

I already had Javier and Doyle, and the beginnings of the whole universe that would become Alexandria Station. (Mind you, this was when I had just finished The Librarian for Beyond The Mirror, Volume 3, and The Science Officer, before The Mind Field.)

To let you in on how my brain processes: When I go to bed, lights off, snugged in, engulfed in darkness, I tend to pull out some story idea that has been rolling around in my head and let it turn to gumbo as I fall asleep, pushing the story farther or deeper or whateverer. I had had the core of Science Officer for years before I ever wrote it. There are a number of other pieces that will eventually get pulled out, cleaned up, and used at some point.

Occasionally, a story idea will hit me so hard that I have no recourse but to get up, fire up the machine, and start writing. I was laying there, right at the edge of sleep, when I heard a voice speak. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was Jessica Keller, the main character, telling me the keyword, the archstone that would pull it all together. All she said was “Auberon.” I had thought she said Oberon, from Shakespeare, but when I did some digging the next day, she corrected me to the older spelling.

At that point, it was just a matter of making notes as fast as I could type. I had the entirety of the first novel in my head. As I started teasing apart threads, I realized that there were at least six novels in the core axis of Jessica’s story, done as two separate trilogies. (And yes, I had the titles to all of them before I finished writing Auberon. At this point, I’m nearly done with the second one in the first trilogy, Queen Of The Pirates.)

Jessica is Jessica because I had an amazingly strong person upon which to base her, once I realized who my inspiration was. About half of my major characters in my books are pastiches of real world people, because you can take the parts you like and frame them. Such with Jessica Keller. (And no, I will not tell you who she was based on. I might tell HER one of these years. Maybe.)

I don’t have a political, or gender, or ethnicity axe to grind in my story telling. I have such a wide variety of peoples because I do get tired of Euro-male heroes, but mostly because I have a specific view of what the universe will look like that far in the future. (For comparison-sake, Auberon takes place starting in the year 13,439 C.E.) I’m probably wrong, but I want a rich galaxy, with every color, creed, and a variety of languages, beyond the seven basics I think we will end up with, based on the effect that technology will have to freeze things in place.

So I had Jessica. The first novel clocks in at a shade under 60,000 words. I just watched my sweetie finish the CreateSpace file last night and send it off. That means I will have a physical proof in my hands in a couple of weeks. At that point, I’m planning some giveaways, like through goodreads, or a few others (TBD, please let me know if you have preferences or ideas. This is for my readers, not me.)  Auberon will come out on 5 May. Another novel will come out after that, and then Queen Of The Pirates is due at the end of summer.

Auberon now available for pre-order

After a lot of work, I am finally able to announce that the first novel in the Jessica Keller series is now available for pre-order on several sites (see links below).


The novel is entitled Auberon, and is the beginning of a series of novels that takes place in the Alexandria Station universe, roughly 1100 years after the story The Librarian. It is pure military space opera SF, dealing with the commander and crew of a Republic of Aquitaine Strike Carrier (RAN Auberon).

As you read this, I am about halfway through the sequel to Auberon, which is called Queen Of The Pirates. Its expected publication date is this fall.

For those of you keeping score at home, the third book for this initial trilogy (yes, I plan another one after the first) will be entitled Last Of The Immortals, and Suvi, your favorite AI Librarian, will make an appearance. A special guest-starring kind of appearance.

Once Queen Of The Pirates is done, I would like to go back and write some more about Javier Aritza, continuing that serialized story arc. Unfortunately, there is only one of me, and I still have to be a geek for living, but I’m writing as fast as I can.