Starships Universe Officers Club

How do you join the Officers Club? Simple. Use the comment area to respond to this post with your review of any of the sixteen Starships Universe books available on Getabook.today. Selected reviews will be posted on book pages and linked to your listing in our new Officer’s Club Headquarters. Certain quotes just might end up in one of our upcoming video trailers.

In your review, please include your e-mail in the appropriate field (it won’t be published publicly), the name of the book and your rating from one to five. Decimal values are acceptable.

The only requirements are you have to be a subscriber and you can’t quote anything you’ve posted about the book elsewhere on the Internet. You are also granting me perpetual and universal permission to publicly perform, publish and display your reviews.

What do you get? Glad you asked! You get to choose your branch of service: Fleet or Marine. You get to choose which faction you want to join: Terran, Proximan, Sarn, Yersian, Kraken or Heretic. Officers will be issued a rank. Each review earns you a battle star. The more books you purchase, the more awards and promotions you’ll receive. When you reach a command rank, you get your own ship. Higher ranks get more powerful ships.

Everything you receive will be displayed for all to see on the Officers Club Headquarters. You’ll even get your own unique link so you can show off elsewhere on the web.

Rank has its privileges. Black out.

The Home Space Station

It was a lot of work, but it was both worth it and necessary. I’ve consolidated all our most vital operations to our own land, as it were, so we can have a little more control over the quality of the product we’re putting out there.

The Internet has changed quite a bit since I got started. Keeping in touch with readers is challenging, but at the same time it is easier than it was all those years ago. The good news is we are no longer dependent on outside services for our vital communications. I like to think of it as one less point of potential failure. In order for us to grow our audience and invite more subscribers, we have to be consistent. This is one of the steps we had to take to make that happen.

I have five primary commercial web sites now: One for the Starships series, one for the Ironjammers, one for the bookstore, one for the studio and the fifth one for Bitbook. There are other ancillary pages, but those are the main points of entry. The Committee is equally associated with each, which is why I’ve added all of the sites to their own section on my links page.

I have several other publishing projects I’ve completed over the years which are no longer being actively updated. These include the First Kiss Romances, the Incredible Untold Story of Sailor Moon, my Kings and Conquests LitRPG series, the Million Dollar Artist™ series and so on. The books will still be available in the store, but they aren’t going to have their own “sites” per se because we’re not actively pursuing any ongoing new titles currently. This may change, of course, but for now the two major initiatives are the Starships Universe military science fiction series and the Ironjammers fantasy adventure series.

It wasn’t all that long ago I had separate pen names for all these books. The logistics involved in keeping them all organized were overwhelming. Don’t ever do that to yourself if you’re an author.

The thing I’m most excited about is Bitbook, because it is where I can fulfill all the plans I had for the Library-Tron and still make entire novel-length titles available for purchase. I will publish my first experimental title there soon. I think it will be a lot of fun.

I will also be launching an Ironjammers newsletter soon, so I can keep readers up to date on what’s happening with my fantasy series. Believe it or not, my fantasy characters have been around a lot longer than my sci-fi crews. Those books will come together quick, so don’t miss out.

Head over to my links section (it’s in the menu above) and take a look at what’s new. I’ll be updating much more frequently now that I’ve got everything semi-organized in one place. Black out.

Starships at War Audiobooks

To celebrate the release of the upcoming sixth novel in the Starships at War series, one of our top voice talents along with a couple of really talented cover artists are planning some major upgrades to the Starships universe. We’d like to invite you to be a part of it!

One of the most talented people in my studio is the man we call “The Big Giant Voice.” Steven and I have been talking about doing audiobooks for years and we think the time has come to take the adventures of Jason Hunter and the starship Argent into your headphones and cars. Here is his performance of the Strike Battleship Argent intro:

And here is chapter one of Strike Battleship Argent, the audiobook:

Strike Battleship Argent is the longest book in the series so far. It will clock in at just over nine hours. Retail price from my store (in super-premium crystal clear audio) will be somewhere between $20 and $30. Titles like Battle Force will be somewhere between $6 and $12 for the audio version. The new audiobooks will eventually find their way to retail services like Audible, but there may be a considerable wait. In the meantime, I plan to make them available on Bitbook along with a downloadable version. As always, my books on my store will never have DRM in any format.

Which series you think we should adapt as an audiobook first? Should we do the Starships at War series, or Starship Expeditionary Fleet? If I promise you a big discount (and some free gifts), would you be interested in a pre-order?

Tell me what you think in the comments or send me an e-mail!

Black out.

Bloodwing Sneak Preview Chapter

Pre-Order Destroy All Starships Book Two!
Coming to the Bookstore on July 20th!

 

Manassas System Conveyance Station
Planet Five Orbital Track
Stable Asteroid Lunar Six One

Alert klaxons screamed in scarlet-tinged corridors. Crew members with official duties ran this way and that, but there was nowhere to hide. The Manassas Conveyance Station orbited a fairly stationary asteroid near the Gitairn Frontier designated as Lunar Six One. The closest Skywatch facility was in-system more than two billion miles away.

“Inform those ships this is a civilian facility!”

“They’re jamming all the frequencies, administrator, I–!”

Jarlen Colvert stood before the utilitarian SRS display in MCD ComSat and stared wordlessly at the impossibly dense mass of inbound contacts. None of them registered cleanly. All his relatively simple scanner bank could do was make its best guess as to what it was seeing. It was designed to perform rudimentary spacelane traffic control for freighters and supply ships. It was by no means military-grade equipment. The result was a red cloud of tracking data that seeped forward, reaching for the tiny orbital facility with menacing fingers. The automated systems dutifully switched to the perimeter visual pickups when the inbounds broke 100,000 miles.

An icy certainty filled the communications center. Even the technician seated at the transmission console rose and slipped the headphones off her ears at the sight filling the screen. They were approaching at impossible speeds. Hundreds of fighters with at least a dozen cruiser-class vessels behind them.

“What do we do?! What do we DO?!” Jarlen could hear the young woman’s ragged screaming voice, but his own breathing was paralyzed. The cold inevitability of the sight before him was more than his merely human mind could process.

The screen went white. A violent implosion filled the facility with superheated disruptor reactions. There was a brief instant of shrieking and boiling flesh. The central section of the conveyance station tumbled out of orbit, trailing hard radiation, atmosphere and bodies.

At least three squadrons of Sarn Bloodwing fighters overflew the destruction, veering in several directions as new targets presented themselves. Two minutes later the largest remaining intact section came spiraling out of space and impacted the Lunar Sixty One asteroid surface at a relative velocity of 18,000 miles per hour. The resulting explosion barely registered against the apocalypse in the sky. Pieces of the station re-achieved escape velocity and scattered into space. Others skipped and bounced for miles.

As far as the rest of the sector was concerned, the brutal surprise attack took place without a sound. Humanity’s enemies had planned far in advance. The Imperial battle formation fielded no fewer than two cruisers equipped specifically for electronic warfare. With the power levels behind the counter-transmission waves being directed at the Alliance facility, there was no way to broadcast anything beyond a range of a few miles. Even the disaster buoys launched from the station were torn out of space the moment they broke free of their launch boosters.

Fighters set upon cargo shuttles like a starving pack of wild dogs. Anti-ship missiles impacted the lumbering boxy spacecraft, setting off violent explosions that filled space with strobing afterimages. Wave after wave of disruptor fire tore through station modules like tracer fire through layers of paper napkins. The local comnet was jammed with overlapping barked orders, screams and crackling static. Finally the main antenna vanished as four simultaneous concussion explosions engulfed it. The comm traffic suddenly cut off, like a windpipe being closed for good.

The first scale in command of the task force grinned wickedly as his enormous fighter formations savaged the defenseless station. Secondaries popped off in drifting hull structures as missile impacts flashed and burned along the remaining sections of the orbital depot. A police pinnace ran for the far side of the two-thousand-mile-wide asteroid. The four fighters pursuing it didn’t have to fire a shot. The security pilot swerved too close to the asteroid’s surface. Gravimetric feedback began to overload his drive field. He tried to make a break for open space, but it was far too late for such a small ship. Lightning briefly arced between surface and ship until it vanished in a white flash.

The outpost’s ground facilities were better defended than the orbiting station. They had rudimentary radiation and magnetic shielding due to their more advanced power systems. They survived the first bombardment. They almost survived the second. White-hot lances of disruptor energy rained down across the surface like the wrath of Zeus. Chunks of superheated rock tumbled into space trailing white and blue plasma. A storm of static electric energy formed over the target as the Sarn weapons ionized everything in a radius of a thousand miles. Then a series of nuclear detonations pounded the outpost. Tectonic ruptures formed in all directions.

The other Imperial cruisers joined in. Over the course of some twenty minutes of unrelenting space to surface bombardment the ground emplacement was burned into a six-hundred-foot-deep magma-filled crater along with one hundred forty-seven civilian personnel, a frigate-class starship hull, two fusion reactors and a disaster buoy launcher.

There were eleven human witnesses to the horror that followed. A spherical shape loomed in space over the remains of the ground station. There was no strategic purpose for its presence. There was no enemy for it to engage. It was being utilized to send humanity a message. The Kraken world burner activated its primary weapon. It ignited space again and again. Fusion explosions shattered half-mile-deep slabs of solid iron under the asteroid’s surface, turning them into clouds of radioactive fire. Thirteen minutes later there was nothing left of Lunar Six One except a trail of wreckage and unremarkable ores.

As the raider formation set course for its next objective, the first scale ordered his ships to jettison thousands of tons of uranium and thorium waste over the attack site. A plasma burst from one of his ship’s weapons ignited the cloud of specially-prepared energetic particles, creating a field of radioactive fire. It was a navigational hazard that would take weeks to extinguish and decontaminate. What was left behind would be unrecognizable as the work of an intelligent species. It was the space equivalent of salting the Earth and contaminating the water supply with dead bodies and disease.

The last distress buoy was pulverized by a Sarn fighter seventy thousand miles from the burning cloud.

It would be more than a month before the true nature of what had happened to the Lunar Six One facility was determined.

Pre-Order Destroy All Starships Book Two!
Coming to the Bookstore on July 20th!

 

Starships at War Star Map

Sometimes it helps to know where the action is taking place in addition to when. Believe it or not, I’ve been keeping track of physical locations using a hyperlinked text map in Emacs. (Yes, General Cornelius Hunter is partially based on me. I admit it.)

It might sound strange, but it is possible to navigate from one star system to the next by simply clicking on each hyperlink. The text of each story still recounts the events that take place at each location, but with a “big picture” map, it becomes a lot easier to see the strategic situation.

When this map is updated for Destroy All Starships, I’ll be adding strategic overlays for the Core Alliance, the Sarn Star Empire and the mystery faction based somewhere beyond Proxima. I think it will help readers follow the overall conflict much more easily and I also think it will make the story more entertaining.

If you want to keep up with the Second Praetorian War, subscribe to my mailing list. The link is in the menu above. This is only the beginning!

Reading Order for Jason Hunter Military Science Fiction

There are enough books in the Jason Hunter universe now that I thought it would be useful for readers if I explained how to arrange the stories in order.

Prior to the events of the Starships at War series, Jason Hunter was promoted to the rank of captain, which was unusual for several reasons, not the least of which is his age. Before being posted to a command billet, Hunter was the flight leader of a Yellowjacket squadron called “The Bandit Jacks.” His squadron mates are now his senior officers. Starships at War is a series of six novels that begins soon after he is assigned to his first mission as captain of the Argent.

The second series is Starship Expeditionary Fleet which is a series of four novellas (plus a bonus book)  that chronicles the events leading up to the Second Praetorian War.

The third series is Destroy All Starships which is currently in progress and recounts the story of the interstellar war between the Alliance, the Proximan Kingdom, the Sarn Star Empire, the Yersian Unity and the Kraken Decarchy. Destroy All Starships is being published concurrently with The Praetorian Chronicles. The respective series each take place in parallel timelines. The Praetorian Chronicles is a free series I’m publishing in the Library-Tron.

Here are all the current Jason Hunter military science fiction adventures in the order of their fictional chronology.


Strike Battleship Argent is now free for subscribers.


Strike Battleship Engineers is available at getabook.today


Strike Battleship Marines is available at getabook.today


Fleet Commander Recon is available at Amazon.com

Jacks Full of Aces is coming soon!

Silver Eagles is coming soon!


Battle Force is available at Amazon.com


For the Honor of the Captain is available at Amazon.com


The Guns of the Argent is available at Amazon.com


Operation Wolfsbane is available at Amazon.com


Alert Force is free for subscribers.


The Praetorian Imperative is available at getabook.today


Inversion Factor Zero takes place in a parallel timeline to the events of The Praetorian Imperative and the other books in the Destroy All Starships series. Inversion Factor Zero is free and available in the Library-Tron

Starships at War

If you’ve been following my newsletter, you know that I’ve started a new series. It is a four-part prequel to my next military science-fiction novel series called Starship Expeditionary Fleet. The fourth and concluding volume Operation Nightfall is now available for pre-order and will be released just before Christmas.

I’ve received some messages asking about Starships at War, which is my first series. Starships at War is a six-novel series. Book Five, Jacks Full of Aces is still a work in progress. The reason I am starting a new series now is because there are certain events and plot lines in the first set of books that form the basis for events in the new series. I’m writing them simultaneously so I can weave these two storylines together and make the current prequel collection a complete introduction to the new storyline.

The next series will also be six novels. It’s a fairly ambitious story, which is one of the reasons I’m synchronizing the two as I go. I will release the first book in the new novel series in January followed by either Jacks Full of Aces or book two in the new series (whichever gets written first).

I’ve been averaging about 3000 to 4000 words a day pretty reliably for the last month or so, and I’m working towards higher daily counts and a more regular release schedule.

There have also been some questions about continuity. Starships at War takes place before Starship Expeditionary Fleet which in turn takes place before the new series. The books are in chronological order from Strike Battleship Argent through the prequel novellas and through the new series in book order.

This month and next month will be pretty much nothing but book releases and pre-order announcements. I think you’ll enjoy all the new aliens and ship types. I also think you’ll enjoy the adventures in the Atlantis Sector. Black out.

According to America’s Employers and their Robots, I Have No Marketable Skills

A friend of mine came to me with a problem last night. He was up against a deadline to send out a newsletter, and he only had one day to make it happen. The problem was, the addresses he planned to send the newsletter to were contained in more than 1700 individual e-mails. Extracting them one by one would take hours, and he just didn’t have the time. Surely there had to be a technical solution? After all, take a look around. Everyone has a computer in their pocket.

The thing is, the word “computer” has different meanings depending on your life experience. For example, when I heard the e-mails were contained in Microsoft Outlook, I groaned. Why? Because my decades of experience in these matters hath shewn that when it comes to doing something other than cutting off Netscape’s air supply, Microsoft isn’t really all that motivated. Meanwhile, their software is famous for fighting its users on the beaches and in the hills to prevent them from getting at their own data. That is if it isn’t already busy destroying that data.

Fortunately, the e-mails had been first collected by Gmail, which wouldn’t normally be much better, except that Google was practically forced not long ago to give users access to their own information so it can be exported elsewhere. This meant it was possible to download all 1700+ e-mails. So we ended up with a 7MB file crammed with raw e-mail data.

Remember my point about the word “computer” having different meanings depending on your experience? Well, I’m an old tankard-wielding grognard when it comes to computing. I do all my best work on Linux, which is a PC-compatible operating system largely inspiried by the UNIX system of the 1970s. UNIX was invented at a time when we used computers more for computing and less for posting our status on social media and browsing the web with an obsolete kludge of an application called a “browser” that for reasons passing understanding needs more than 1GB of RAM to operate correctly.

Now my friend wasn’t completely without options. He had a Visual Basic program that purported to do what he needed, but it wasn’t working properly due to errors in its variable declarations. This normally wouldn’t be a problem since I have voluminous experience with Visual Basic, except Visual Basic is a Microsoft product, and Microsoft software will not cooperate. It never has, it never will. In fact, it will fight to prevent you from getting your work done. Even if I had a way to load, debug and recompile a Visual Basic program in 2019 (oh dear), there’s no guarantee it would work. The term for this is “technical risk.” When you only have a few hours, you can’t rely on software that might work. You need software that will work.

So Linux it was.

I took a look at the e-mails. Each line with the address we needed to extract had the common label “E-mail address:” next to it. So I did the extraction job with one command. I used grep to copy all the lines from the big text file with that label in them. That gave me a file with all the addresses preceded by “E-mail address:” Then I opened the file in Emacs and replaced all the labels with a blank space. Now I had a file with a list of all the addresses. My friend needed them comma-delimited, which means all the addresses should be separated by commas instead of on their own line. So I used sed to remove the newlines and replace them with commas. The entire process took six minutes.

People often want to know “what’s the big deal about Linux? What can I do with Linux I can’t do with Windows?” Funny you should ask.

Why was it so simple on Linux and simultaneously close to impossible on Windows? It’s the same computer. It’s the same hardware. If the processor can do the work on one, it should be able to do the work on the other, right? Well, not so fast. Microsoft is in the business of making sure every PC has a copy of Windows glued to it and making sure every business on Earth is locked into Microsoft Office. They are not at all interested in solving problems with computers, so they don’t provide their users with the tools they need to get jobs like the last-minute newsletter done. Oh sure, you could try to do it with various Office applications, but it would be about the same experience as repairing a truck engine with your teeth. The first commercial versions of Windows were available more than 30 years ago. The system still doesn’t have even a mediocre text editor. The difference between Emacs and Microsoft’s Notepad are analogous to the difference between a bengal tiger and the bacteria under your refrigerator.

I will concede in advance that I have had my moments with Visual Basic and VBA. Visual Basic is one of the rare bright spots in the constellation of Microsoft products, along with DirectX and Windows 95. However, those few successes do not make up for the unholy siege of trying to get useful work done with their other products, or using the browser-that-shall-not-be-named.

But the newsletter project itself really isn’t the point. What I did yesterday afternoon wasn’t remarkable in any way when it comes to computing. Running the output of grep through a couple of pipes to remove newlines and comma-delimit a list of e-mail addresses is pretty basic stuff if you have the experience and you’ve been trained to look at problems in the Linux way. We’ve been doing things the Linux way for more than 25 years now. If you have an Android phone, so have you.

What I ultimately accomplished yesterday was to save a man a few hours of tedious error-prone hard work and deliver something important on a deadline. I used powerful tools to automate a task. I was able to do this because I’ve put a lot of years into learning how to use those powerful tools. My friend knows this, which is why my phone rang yesterday. When you need an engine, you call an engineer.

But according to America’s employers and their robots, I have no marketable skills.

Automating things has been the theme of my career, both as a contract programmer and in my own businesses. I wrote software that takes a plain text book manuscript and a cover image and compiles them into a validated EPUB3 electronic book that can be published on nearly any retail bookstore. Hand-coding an EPUB3 would take days, even for someone familiar with the process. You really have no idea how many apostrophes there are in a science fiction novel until you have to replace them all with HTML entities. Excel certainly isn’t going to help you. Being able to convert a manuscript to a book in a few seconds is one of the key reasons I’m able to publish so quickly and have a successful career as an author. Turns out readers appreciate a book that isn’t riddled with errors.

When I worked for a major firmware manufacturer, my team authored in-house software that automatically wrote makefiles for commercial BIOS images to install in retail PCs and laptops. The BIOS, or Basic Input-Output System used to be the first software that ran when you turn on a PC. The makefile was the list of instructions for an application called a “compiler” to build each BIOS image so it could be installed. Makefiles for such software could easily run to hundreds of lines. If there is a single mistake or typo, an hour-long build might fail. Multiply that by the hundreds and hundreds of test builds we were required to do for companies like Honeywell, Toshiba and Compaq, and a mistake could easily cost the company hundreds of thousands of dollars, or millions if a faulty BIOS found its way into a production PC. Once we were done automating it, however, the errors were gone. The software we wrote perpetually saved the company millions of dollars a month.

But, according to America’s employers and their robots, I have no marketable skills.

I wrote an optical document processing system for a financial services company using, ironically enough, Visual Basic. Our task was to create a printer driver for each of the unique forms a car dealer might use to sell or lease a vehicle. The printer had to write name, address, mileage, etc. in various boxes on each form, and the printer driver’s job was to tell it where to move the print head so the information was actually inside the pre-printed box. When I arrived at this company, they were hand-coding the printer drivers with a ruler, a pencil and a calculator. When I left, they could scan a document, arrange the data fields visually on the screen using each unique form as a backdrop, and have my system automatically write the driver. Productivity went up more than 2000%. It took me three weeks to develop that system.

But according to America’s employers and their robots, I have no marketable skills.

My first job out of college was as a portfolio analyst at a boutique brokerage firm in Orange County, California. Our department’s job was to analyze a potential client’s investments and generate a snapshot based on the current prices of their holdings. When I arrived at this company, one of my colleagues was seated in front of Microsoft Excel with a calculator, adding up stock shares and prices. When I left, the VBA code I wrote in Microsoft Excel would automatically dial into a bulletin board service, download the prices and assign them to the appropriate holdings. This time, productivity went up 6000%. We took a backlog of 40 portfolios and knocked them out in an afternoon. The fees our brokerage earned with that system were staggering, to say the least, considering the impressive lists of assets our clients brought us. They easily took in an additional seven figures a year with my system. Probably more. Took me about a month to write and test the code. Plus the cost of a Compuserve subscription.

But according to America’s employers and their robots, I have no marketable skills.

Let’s be fair, and go back to the newsletter project. I saved a man a couple hours of work. Big deal. We saved the cost of three large pizzas. Fair enough.

What if I save 1000 people a couple hours of work? That’s a lot of pizza. How about 50000 people? What if I wrote software that saved 50000 moderately well-paid office workers four hours of work a month? Say each of those workers makes $20 an hour. That’s four million dollars a month. Can I do it? Well, I’ve been automating things my entire career, right up to yesterday afternoon. Along the way, my employers and clients have saved millions upon uncounted millions avoiding errors and even more millions selling investments with the documents and electronic components my software wrote for them. In the words of Montgomery Scott, “would that be worth something to ye?”

Apparently not, because according to America’s employers and their robots, I have no marketable skills.