Category Archives: Alternate Universe Stories

Exciting Time Dimension Scifi Series

Kris Rusch’s recent blog has hit a nerve. She addresses the problem of author burnout. According to her, a number of authors after going hot and hard at writing and marketing are finding that they need a break. I’m in that category right now. I’ve been publishing for over eight years and writing far longer than that. Eleven books comprise my two series with an additional anthology and novella. I’m very proud of the stories, and as a prolific science fiction reader, feel they are of a quality to match any of the good writers of science fiction out there.

However, I’m finding that, with the completion of my Terran Trilogy, I’m floundering for ideas for a new series. A few have suggested I follow the path of the Fallen and tell their story while others expressed interest in what motivated the fleet to leave Earth. I would be interested in any comments you might have either along those lines or for new suggestions.

Meanwhile, the clamor for new artwork from me increases. My daughter has bought a new home and her walls are too bare. She wants a vineyard painting to accompany the wine fridge we gave them last Christmas. A few in-law have commented that they would like one of my pieces, and I have some ideas in mind for them. I’m rekindling the excitement I used to have for painting.

Kris warns against getting a waning enthusiasm in writing and suggests ways to combat it. Luckily, our income doesn’t depend on my writing. So, that pressure isn’t there. I used to be able to promote my work visa social media and adds such as Freebooksy etc, but lately the return doesn’t justify the expense. Besides, I’m not a big social media person, either, and I’m growing less and less enthusiastic due to what I encounter in many of the blogs or comments. My ebook library is brimming with interesting books that I grabbed for free or at a good price from the free or discounted book sites. I’ll never get them all read. But it’s great to have choices when you are looking for something to read. Other readers may be in the same situation and not loading up as much as they used to.

In addition, I’m noticing Christmas on the horizon which brings with it a deluge of birthdays, including mine. I’m expecting this to be one of the best Christmases in a while, and want to fully participate in the joy of the season. (Barring the vitriol of those who prefer to tear apart our country rather than offer solutions) I’m aware of the amazing country I live in and am grateful for the life I have been given. (a bit of a Thanksgiving message there).

Nevertheless, I’m excited about this last book in the Terran Trilogy called the Weight of Gravity. It may be one of the best yet. I’m currently working with professional designer Toni Boudrealt to craft an exciting cover. The publication date had been pushed back due to various events outside of my control, but then both  G. Martin and P. Rothfuss have more than eclipsed my mere few weeks delay by years for their works without much suffering. Still, this last work will be published in 2018, and that’s a hard deadline.

After reading Kris’s blogs about her writing path, I decided to plunge into her Diving series. I scooped a novella from one of her promotions and realized that the series didn’t have anything to do with the ocean, but rather her female protagonist was after salvaging old spaceships for historical value. Well now, that sounded interesting.

The first in the series, Diving Into the Wreck, introduces the lead character who goes by the name of Boss. She searches for old abandoned spaceships, interested in their historical value. What she finds is a five-thousand-year-old derelict called a Dignity ship with dangerous, malfunctioning jump technology. Several divers in her crew die. The lost technology bends time and space, moving ships through dimensional space so they can travel huge distances in a short period of time.

This powerful technology is just what the Empire is searching for in order to tip the balance of power in its favor. Not wanting that outcome, Boss and her team go off the grid and try to work under the radar. The discovery leads them to the Room of Lost Souls where as a child, Boss watched her mother disintegrate and crumble with old age under the influence of the ancient technology.

But even though she was in the same room, Boss stayed unaffected. The experience scarred her, but now a client wants her to return and solve the mystery of that haunted and hidden place. However, the more they discover, the more dangerous she realizes the tech is.

Okay, so the story was way more intriguing than I expected. I liked the time jump idea and the lost technology from an Earth five thousand years ago and light years away in distance. The story was well-written with no grammar or plot problems except the tantalizing mystery of what they called a Dignity ship and its connection to the Room of Lost Souls.

So I dove (heh, heh) into the next book of the series called City of Ruins. At this point, years have passed. Boss has a salvage company with four ships and several crew. After finding the first Dignity ship with ancient stealth tech, she is quietly searching for more. A lead to a planet with mysterious holes that erupt without reason suggests ancient tech may be at work.

But the planet’s government is hesitant to let her explore too widely, saying that those who enter the caverns created by the holes are found dead by unknown forces. This information only fuels her interest, and she assembles a crew to investigate the underground caverns. She selects within her crew four others who are immune to the ancient tech’s effect because she senses its nearness.

A parallel story runs through the book of Captain “Coop” Cooper. He is one of many ships in the fleet defending Earth five thousand years in the past. During a vicious battle, he tries to jump away just as his ship is hit. The result traps him and his crew in foldspace where they may linger forever if they can’t figure a way out.

Far in the future, carefully exploring a cavern where several deaths occurred, Boss eventually discovers an enormous cavern where she senses the ancient tech she has been searching for. While investigating the area, someone activates the machinery and it pulls Coop’s trapped ship out of foldspace into what Boss comes to realize is a secret landing bay.

Wary at first, but relieved at landing in a repair bay, the crew of the Ivoire notices the arrival of strangers into the room and the odd timeworn condition of the bay. Several attempts at communication result in success wherein Boss shocks the Fleet’s crew with the information that they have traveled five thousand years into their future.

The third in this series is Boneyards. Captain “Coop” Cooper and crew are desperate to find a way back to their fleet and their old life. Boss wants to find stealth tech to combat the Empire. The Empire, meanwhile, is frantically trying to develop stealth tech on its own but doesn’t realize what it is and is making deadly mistakes. This book features “Squishy,” one of Boss’s crew members who worked for the Empire on stealth tech in her past and killed many people in the process.

The book jumps back and forth in her past and in Coop’s story. Squishy wants to find the tech and destroy it to absolve her sins while Coop is frantic to return to his time period and the fleet. Boss suggests they investigate old landing sites that were being constructed in the Fleet’s early days in order to find the tech to repair his Dignity ship.

Coop has to decide whether to help Boss attack the Empire or risk losing his way back with Squishy’s plan to destroy it.

So, the series was so much more exciting than I thought it would be. The characters are well drawn, the action interesting, and the plot of ancient stealth technology and time jumping was really cool. I plan to read more.

You should do a little investigating on your own with this one.

Kris’s blog: click on link

 

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Filed under Alien worlds, Alternate Reality in Literature, Alternate Universe Stories, Best selling author, Experiences in writing, Indie Science Fiction Authors, Publishing Trends, science fiction, Science Fiction book review, Science Fiction Mystery, science fiction series, time travel

Alternate Dimensions in Best Selling Science Fiction

Leaves are turning bright colors of orange, red and yellow while plump pumpkins are showing up sporting toothy grins in houses and on doorsteps.

I am waiting on my cover design artist to deliver the concept cover for my third book in The Terran Trilogy, The Weight of Gravity. I am also looking for Beta readers to read it. E-mail me if you have an interest.

Soon the whirlwind holiday activities will commence, so I’ll apologize now if my blog gets neglected in the near future.

With the proposal of String Theory, the idea of a many-dimensional universe or possibly universes, has tickled the fancy of the science fiction genre. I explore this idea in my books, particularly in Someone’s Clone and Time Equation.

The idea that there may be more than this reality fascinates me. That’s why I like Charles Stross’s series The Merchant Princes Multiverse. I put Empire Games, his most recent book of the series (having read the others) on my 2018 to-read list.

Then I read it. Here’s the lowdown on Empire Games from that suggested series.

The year is 2020 and Miriam Burgeson is head of the Ministry of the shadowy Intertemporal Research and Intelligence. The North American Commonwealth is rapidly bringing democracy to a troubled world. In another Timeline, the powerful United States has become aware of the timewalkers who cross in and out the time dimensions and have hired Miriam’s estranged daughter to root out any trespassing spies or illicit traders.

Both powerful nuclear nations are on a collision course, and mother and daughter find themselves on opposite sides of an escalating war while operating from two different timelines.

I liked the interdimensional espionage found in the whole series, but the earlier books were even better for me. You should read the series from the beginning as it develops along a timeline with the characters’ lives, even as they visit various periods of history (medieval, industrial, current) in their own lives. In one book, Miriam gets trapped in the emerging industrial age timeline, and I was intrigued how she used her knowledge of future technology to build a business and survive as a widowed women when women in business were not yet accepted. In this more recent book, she has ascended to become a powerful person in the current society.

Another book that deals with dimensional time is City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett. This one was nominated for a 2018 Hugo in the best series category. The Divine Cities is the series name, and City of Stairs is the first book in the series.

Since I like mysteries and science fiction, this hit a hot button of mine.

The story is bout Bulikov, a once brutal city that enslaved millions but was protected by powerful gods. Now it lays defeated and devastated by a neighboring country, Saypur.

Into this beaten-down city steps Shara Thivani, called to investigate a death, and suspected murder, of an associate who is a distinguished university professor. He was found dead while researching Bulikov’s history. Shara arrives in the guise of a nondescript diminutive junior investigator, accompanied by a towering, fearsome bodyguard called Sigrid. Unbeknownst to her hostile hosts, Shara is of royal bloodline and her country’s top spy.

As Shara uncovers the facts of the professor’s murder, she discovers the gods may not be as absent as thought, and the city of Bulikov has many secrets within stairs that seem to disappear into hidden dimensions.

I very much enjoyed this story. There are two more to the series that I plan to read. I particularly like the trope of the clever young highbred who everyone overlooks until they realize that she is more than she seems. The relationship of her and Sigrid, her terrifying, yet loyal, secretary is delightful. Twist and turns abound, and not all are from the mysterious stairs.

I can’t believe summer is over. Time is a slippery fellow nowadays.
Enjoy the cool.

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Filed under Alternate Universe Stories, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, Beta Readers, Hugo Nominations, Political Science Fiction, Science Fiction Mystery, science fiction series

Ten Indie Publishing Trends You might Want to Know

We are trying to survive the drippy days of a Portland winter, but thank goodness we have no snow like the East Coast. Still it’s hard to keep cheerful spirits when all outside is gloomy and gray.

So here’s a fun piece that I wanted to include in my blog to raise the mood.
It’s a summary of the different social media platforms.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN VARIOUS SOCIAL PLATFORMS?

Funny, but true (kinda): • Facebook: I like donuts. • Twitter: I’m eating a donut. • Instagram: Here’s a picture of my donut. • YouTube: Watch me eat a donut. • Vine: Watch me eat a donut for six seconds. • LinkedIn: My skills include donut eating. • Pinterest: Here’s a donut recipe. • Google Plus: I’m a Google employee who eats donuts.

It really clarifies the various functions of the bewildering array of media platforms out there and offers you a smile.

January is the time when seers and prognosticators appear on the publishing scene. Written Word has gathered ten publishing trends they see for 2018. As an author, you may find it helpful to see which direction the business might go. I encourage you to read the blog in its entirety, but I have a few comments to make on it. bit.ly/2DjqULH

Of the ten listed, a few caught my attention. The first is that marketing is getting more expensive with poorer results. Ad sites now talk about “stacking” your book or offering the same book on several ad sites on the same or consecutive days. This can get expensive if your royalty is a few dollars per book or you’re offering the book for free. Just about all ad sites require a discount on your book of some sort, if not free. Add to that the idea that readers are getting more selective in their downloads and picky about price, and author’s margins are squeezed.

However, serious Indies are continuing to build their catalog. Perseverance is key in the writing business. It’s a long game. Here’s what Written Word says to give authors hope :

“Ever year we (Written Word) conduct a survey of authors to identify what high-earning authors are doing to achieve success. In 2017 the number of authors who reported making over $100,000 from writing grew by 70% over 2016. The percentage of authors making between $5,000 and $10,000 per month doubled year over year. Indies who persevere and continue putting out books slowly increase their earnings over time. Is it easy? No. Will it take time? Yes. But there are plenty indie authors who are making money. They will continue to grow their businesses in 2017 and a new batch of high-earning authors will join their ranks.

What this means for you: Successful indie authors see themselves as entrepreneurs who are running a business. And they are. Their product is their books. Successful authors are those that focus on their business and manage the ups and downs. In 2018 be honest with yourself. What are your goals? Are you writing to pursue a passion? Are you writing to supplement your income? Are you building or growing a business? Then align your efforts with your goals to achieve what success means for you.”

The last comment from this blog I want to point out is “Everyone will talk about going direct to reader.” Several efforts and young companies are causing even more disintermediation in the publishing business. Publica.com talks about direct transactions between authors and readers via blockchain and could very well be the next step in publishing. Stay tuned on this idea and check out their website for more information.

I have five more books to put on my 2018 reading list. (The first five are on my previous blog)

In the absence of blockbuster stand-alones this past year, I’ve added several follow-up books in a series to my 2018 reading list. To address a title that is on most science fiction lists and traditionally published, I have chosen Artemis by Andy Weir. The Martian was a smash hit, both movie and book, and now Weir writes an adventure involving the moon. I expect this will be good.

Next, I selected Helios by N.J. Tanger. I read and reported on the first in this series, Chimera, and now I’m ready to read the next. The story trends to YA since the main characters are teenagers.

Summary: A distant planet colony no longer receives supplies or transmissions from Earth, and after several years, they are running low on resources. The colony tries to reactivate the sleeping AI and repair the colony’s ship in order to send it to Earth to find out why they have been abandoned. Five young people are selected to crew the ship. The first book tells that story and the conflict of relationships among the candidates for crew.

Now in Helios, the story continues as an exchange ship breaks through fractal space to arrive on the planet. Celebrations break out, but collapse when all on board are found dead. More than ever, Stephen’s Point Colony wants to send the ship to Earth and find out what has happened.

Sounded interesting. So, I included book two.

Everyone tells me how great Neil Gammon is, but I couldn’t finish reading American Gods, in spite of all its acclaim. Now the Powell’s Reading Group has listed Neverwhere to read. They have assured me that I will like it, so I’m willing to give it a chance.

I loved the Merchant Series by Charles Stross, so when I saw Empire Games continued this interdimensional espionage and political science fiction romp, I put it on my to-read list.

I’ve had the book cover of Remnants of Trust on my desktop ever since reading The Cold Between by Elizabeth Bonesteel as a reminder to read this next in the series. The blurb says, “A young soldier finds herself caught in the crossbar of a deadly conspiracy in space.” Here was my military space thriller, then, and the final selection on my list.

Here’s these last five with the caveat that I add additional interesting books throughout the year as they catch my attention or pop up on my list of books that I think readers will like. I encourage you to try any of them and let me know what you think.

 

 

Artemis Andy Weir
Helios N. J. Tanger
Remnants of Trust Elizabeth Bonesteel
Neverwhere Neil Gammon
Empire Games. Charles Stross

Have a great 2018 reading year.

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Amazon’s New List

Amazon continues to stretch out and find ways to encourage readers. And I’m usually all for that. So, I was interested in their new venture.

This past week Amazon has started to compile a weekly best seller and best read list to rival the well-known New York Times Best Seller List. The Times leaves out Indie publishers since they do not appear in bookstores. How The Times decides who gets what spot isn’t sure, but Indies are never included and, yet, are now read by an increasingly large segment of the population. For years, The Times has been the sought after benchmark of success for writers of both fiction and non fiction, but self-publishers don’t make the list.

If you want to know what are the top selling books at Amazon in different publishing categories, Amazon has published a wide variety of lists according to genre that are updated almost hourly.

Last Friday, I ran my Freebooksy add campaign for Past the Event Horizon and made number #1 in the Kindle Store>Kindle eBooks>science fiction >space exploration and #1 in Kindle Store>Kindle eBooks>First Contact on March 15. That rating soon changed as sales go up and down all the time like a turbulent sea. Still, it felt good. Anyone looking for a science fiction in either category might have given me a try, and indeed, sales followed for a number of my other books.

Okay, so now Amazon offers a weekly list of the top twenty books sold and books read across all genres. Only Amazon has the algorithms to determine what books are actually read. As an author, I can follow what books my readers are reading and when.

Here’s the link to the chart: https://www.amazon.com/charts

As a reader, this is interesting, but as a midlist writer I have a few problems with it.

First, I noted the large number of big publishing houses, and almost all of them have an agent attached. Then, there is the Bookbub phenomena. An author must sell a lot and have a lot of reviews to be accepted, but once accepted the author gets an even bigger bump in reviews and sales by being accepted for promotion. You know the story. A writer has to get to a point where doors open, and until they reach that tipping point, sales are a struggle… Each author has to decide how much time, effort, and money they want to spend, and what goal is acceptable for them.

Worldwide fame or merely getting published?

I think I won’t need sunglasses to hide behind any time soon.

This week I have returned to science fiction and my list that I put out at the beginning of the year with Last Year by Robert Charles Wilson (Hugo winning novel Spin).

I picked this book because it had a time travel theme, and I read and liked Spin by the same author. Wilson plays with the idea of multiple dimensions. In the near future, technology is created that can open a gate onto the past. That past is similar, but not exactly like our past. Inhabitants of the past provide almost a theme park of times-gone-by to those who visit from the future. But as the future influences the past, the past changes, and eventually, the gate closes.

A passageway has been open into the 19th century in Ohio for a decade now, and both sides of the gate know it will soon close. This is the last year the gate will be open.

On September 1, Jesse Collumm saves General Grant’s life as the general visits the future side of the gate. Jesse is from the 19th century but has been hired as a guard in the small city that had grown up around the gate. Working crowd control, he notices an illegal gun and dives to save Ulysses’ life. This brings him to the attention of the higher-ups who run the gate. Jesse is delegated to an attractive woman for various assignments. Unfortunately, he falls in love with her and decides to do anything to follow her through time back to her future.

This was an interesting novel, but not riveting. However, I was intrigued with the time concepts. How would we react if we could visit the past and see how it really was? Would the history books and actual events match? What might happen to influence our future? How big or little need that influence be?

I write about time travel, and it was interesting to see another author’s handling of the subject. If you are intrigued by time travel, you might enjoy this one.

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Filed under Alternate Universe Stories, Amazon publishing, Best selling author, ebook marketing, Indie authors, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, New York Times Best Sellers, Portal fiction, science fiction

Publishing Wrap-up 2016 and Five Scifi Selections for 2017

IMG_0174January has certainly gotten off to a contentious start. How does that affect book sales? I would imagine that readers are turning on the television to get the latest incendiary news distortion or taking to the streets to loudly voice their opinions…

…rather than quietly reading.

Kristine Rusch has a lengthy blog that talks about Indie publishing as a business and some current trends. She discusses the fact that sales were down in 2016 and the reasons why. Publishers say there was no breakout novel. Election noise took away reading time. The ebook publishing business is leveling off.

My sales were good until November, and then, I also saw a downturn. I’m seeing it in January, but I’m blaming politics and a lack of marketing enthusiasm. I’m a bit burnt out on marketing at the moment. I need to catch up on my writing and fill up the piggy bank because having the necessary funds to see you over the down part only makes good business sense.

She mentions that also. Here’s the blog: http://kriswrites.com/2017/01/18/business-musings-2016-disappointments/

January is one of the most fun months of the year for my blog because I get to select books to read for the year. Sometimes a book doesn’t meet the publication date (Thorn of Emberlain ) and sometimes I decide the book isn’t up to my standards and don’t mention it. (Split Second) However, it’s a way to prime the pump and get enthusiastic about reading. I have found lately that good science fiction is hard to find. There’s a mishmash of books out there but very little in the “got to read” category.

Anyway here’s my next five:

all-the-birds-in-the-sky1. All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders. I keep seeing this on recommended lists. I have avoided it because I really don’t like apocalyptic novels. They tend to be downers rather than contain interesting science. There’s always a struggle with the environment, and too often zombies show up. But this is about a young girl who is involved in magic. A long ago geek friend she knows from Middle School gets back with her. Also, it takes place in San Francisco, and I lived in the Bay area for eight years. So, it’s on the list.

2. The Unquiet Land by Sharon Shinn: I’ve been waiting on this one. I’ve read the previous books in the series (Elementals) so I know I will like this. (Rubs hands together)the-last-year

unquiet-land3. The Last Year by Robert Charles Wilson. New release. Time travel. Amazon best list. Charles Wilson (Spin) I’m in.

4. The Traitor ‘s Blade by Sebastien De Castell: Peter who works in Powell’s at Cedar Crossing has been their science fiction expert for a long time. He’s the liason for our Science Fiction Book Club. He knows his stuff, and when I whined about wanting a good book, he stuck this in my hand. Of course, I bought it and put it on the list.traitors-blade

5. Night Without Stars by Peter Hamilton. A hardback library find. Well, I’d actually been seeing this on a few a-night-without-starsrecommended lists. I’ve read earlier novels in the series also. It’s a big book which means it will take a while to read, but this is a far future space opera, and I’m ready for that.

By the way…don’t forget the second season of the Expanse starts on television tomorrow night February 1, Syfy channel. Watch that rather than the political insanity. Or, maybe the politics of the future there will look frightening familiar, and you can get a two-for-one.

the-expanse-620x412

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A Science Fiction Time Travel Series

IMG_9503Discounting or offering your book free…does it work as a marketing strategy?

When casting about as to what book to suggest for this week’s blog, I wandered over to my Kindle app to see what I had stashed in my library there.

Lately, a number of websites have emerged that offer free or discounted books. Every day I get an e-mail from Bookbub, Sweetfreebooks, Ebook Daily Kindle Freebi , and now Bookdaily. I also receive a number of Indie books asking for reviews. I specify the genre science fiction and fastasy, and that’s what appears in the e-mails. If I find a book that looks intriguing, I put it on my Kindle “shelf” for future reading.

When I went to look for this week’s suggestion, I was surprised at the number of books that I had accumulated. I picked out a few that had interesting covers and blurbs and started to read. After several chapters, a few didn’t engage me; so I moved on.

I think a lot of readers are finding new authors this way. It’s also a great way to introduce an interesting series at a reasonable price. If you have an author you love and know you’ll like the story, then go ahead and go retail. Sometimes, you want that book now, and you have the funds to indulge yourself. After all, Starbucks coffee is over $4.00 for a fifteen minute drink, and no one thinks twice about that, it seems…at least in my family. Or if you like that paperback, hardback feel, then click on that cart icon and bring happiness into your life. But for those new books that you’re not sure of, this is a way to winnow out those that match your taste from those that don’t when you’re not sure. And discover something new.

Time Travels of the 1800 ClubSo, when my brother requested a recommendation on a time travel book, I sorted through the time travel books at Amazon and latched on to a few. Slipped them on my “kindle shelf.” I kept an eye out for books in my e-mails from the various specials that involved time travel. Those I set on my “reading shelf.” A few days ago, I selected a few, opened up several, and sampled them. After plowing through a number of eBooks, I found a series that I’m now enjoying and want to recommend.

Time Travel Adventures of the 1800 Club by Robert P. McAuley has a very H. G. Wells flavor to it. It’s 2011, but a group of people dress up periodically to attend a dinner party to pretend for a night that it’s 1800. The rules state that you must stay in character the whole evening. Those that don’t are soon asked to leave.

Bill Scott enjoys his evenings at the club and is a stickler for keeping the verisimilitude of the 1800s. Then, the organizer of the club asks Bill to stay after and over drinks reveals that the club is a recruiting mechanism for time travelers. Their purpose is to travel back in time and repair events that are threatening to stray off the true historical path.

Bill’s first adventure is to disguise himself as Abraham Lincoln and give the Gettysburg Address. Seems Lincoln’s depression and drinking made him unreliable, and history needed the impact of the speech. So, off he goes.Time Travels of the 1800 bk 2

I use a similar idea in my first book, Caught in Time when I send Rowyna back to the Medieval Ages in order to make sure that certain events take place and keep the future intact.

Time Travel Adventures continues episodically with various famous people and events helped by the 1800 club. Not only 2011 becomes involved, but future travelers from 2066 visit to assign certain tasks to the members. Soon enough, Bill Scott takes over the leadership role of the club and is surprised to meet a future relative who confides that his family runs the club from then on out.

Time Travel Adventures of the 1800 club bk3The first book is free at Amazon. Much like Hugh Howey, the stories range around 157 pages and the subsequent episodes cost $1.99. There are quite a slew of them if you become an avid fan, and the reviews are good.

McAuley does a nice job with the story, providing an entertaining series based around time travel. He writes in a clear clean style. If you want gut wrenching emotion, so far I haven’t experienced it, but the situations and events are interesting and for time travel enthusiasts, it’s worth a peek.

 

 

 

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Dimensional time in science fiction

Image 2 Serendipity. A copy of Keith Laumer’s Imperium came to hand just as a friend suggested him as a favorite science fiction author. I’d heard of him, but  never got around to reading him.

Now was a good time.

Many established authors, or their estate, are reviving their stories by bundling them together, adding on a bright new cover and reissuing their work. Imperium is a three story  collection.

Keith first published “Worlds of the Imperium” in the science fiction magazine, “Fantastic Stories” as a serial from February to April 1961. Many authors used short stories or serialized their fiction in magazines to build a fan base back in the day. (Some still do) In 1962, he released the novel in an Ace-Double Day edition.

The second story in this novel, “The Other Side of Time” was also serialized in “Fantastic”  in 1965, while “Assignment in Nowhere” was published by Berkley in 1968.

Interestingly, Baen books picked up his rights and put all three together and printed them in paperback in August 2012. Keith is no longer alive, but now his writing survives to a new generation of science fiction fans.

In Imperium, time travel and twisted reality deliver a fast-paced action thriller.

ImperiumUnited States diplomat Brion Baynard gets kidnapped. But it isn’t an ordinary kidnapping. He’s taken and transported to an alternate universe with a timeline similar to Earth, but just a shade different in its history. There he confronts the current leaders of the Imperium:  Hermann Goering, Manfred Rittmeister and Friherr von Richthofen. The Imperium comprises the major portion of the civilized world: North America, West Hemisphere, Australia, etc. This iteration of history has a Maxoni-Cocini field generator transporter that allows travel across timelines.

And each timeline is a little different. Turns out there are countless parallel Earths, each different, and more uninhabitable worlds, destroyed by the misuse of cross time travel…along with some inhabited by human variations.

Not all friendly..

Baynard soon learns the reason for his kidnapping…he looks identical to the enemy’s top evil dictator, also named Brion Baynard, and the plan is to insert him into this twin’s residence where he is tasked  to assassinate him and take his place.

The plan goes awry.

The target is out of town and Brion gets caught up with a subversive underground resistance causing the plot to thicken.

This is a good old fashioned science fiction action thriller, even though the reader might be able to figure out what happens, it does provide an exciting story with some surprises.

If that’s your type of science fiction, then I recommend it. I happen to like action packed science fiction about time travel. Not so much alternate universes. However, the science and complexity of the alternate worlds is well thought out.

The second story, “The Other Side of Time,” continues Brion Baynard’s life in the alternate universe of the Imperium, where the net is a continuum of alternate world lines, a matrix of simultaneous reality.

Baynard has his dinner interrupted by an urgent call to the palace where he goes through a puzzling interrogation. As he leaves, an odd smell and activity attract him and he investigates. He finds human Neanderthal types called the Hagroon, who have discovered the time hopping technology and have infiltrated the lower levels of the Imperium Palace and are planning an attack to destroy this world.

Of course, Baynard wants to stop them, and he tries to disable the multi car contraption, only to be taken back to their world and captured.

In prison there, he meets Field Agent Dzok, captured from another timeline and of an even more alien/human appearance.  The two plot an escape and end up on Dzok’s home world. From there it’s an adventure in traversing various worlds in attempt to get home in time to stop the attack by using time travel.

IMG_0174I would give Imperium four stars because of the interesting time travel and fast paced action. Character development, of all but Baynard, is traded off for the complicated  plot. The point of view is first person, so everything happens through Baynard’s eyes, and you don’t even get  a good idea of what he looks like.

Still, it’s fun to discover a popular classic, once and a while, and enjoy a good time travel novel.

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Filed under alien life forms, Alternate Universe Stories, Alternate Universes, Classic science fiction, Science fiction thriller, time travel