You can skip this intro, if you like, but it gives a bit of an insight into the novel and my thinking behind it. The second bit of the page contains an extract that nobody has seen before…unless they’ve bought it, of course. So keep quiet about this exclusive revelation…it’s just between you and I, okay?
Summoning Empire is my first published novel, but not the first I’ve written by a long chalk. If you’ve dipped into the pages about me, you’ll see that I started writing for therapeutic reasons. My first attempt was a marvellous tale, but far too heavilly bogged down with technical and engineering descriptions.
In essence, I refined my technique and decided that this work was about right to launch my career as a writer (I hope I’m not wrong about this!). Some of my earlier manuscripts are not mainstream sci-fi, in fact they are not even on tributaries to that vast and rolling concourse. So much so that I don’t know if they fit into the genre at all. Summoning Empire is much more a traditional sci-fi tale, yet hopefully with my own mark upon it.
Who’s in it? Well, my lead character is a heroine, called Anninka Hoisin. She has had a hard childhood and this influences her behaviour throughout her adventures. Sometimes she is aware of this, sometimes not. At times, what happens to her gives her flashes of self recognition. At other times she simply has flashbacks. She is basically honest and sincere. she fights hard for justice.
Helping Anninka along the way, there is one devoted supporter. He is Thrax, a droid. I loved writing about him. He’s myself, really, except that he can behave in ways that I would never get away with. The droids in the book are simple cylindrical shells, packed with hardware and computing power. They are self-aware and can think laterally, theorise and generally behave like humans. The higher models, such as Thrax, can sustain avatars. These are not simple holograms that give them a chosen human appearance, the avatars are also fields that enable them to physically interact. Shaking hands with such a droid would feel exactly like doing the same with another person. Thrax is special, even among such high tech artificial intelligences. He changes his avatars regularly and more often than not, he will appear in a fashion totally unsuitable for the circumstances he finds himself in. He delights in doing this. He has a wicked sense of humour, but is very caring.
The other characters deserving of special mention would be Aladdin and Mitchell Stanley. Aladdin is an orphan. He is impudent, but gets away with his bare-faced cheek by means of his endearing boyish looks and his talent, which is at genius level. Mitchell is an engineer and general rough diamond. His outward manner is crude and suspicious. He won’t suffer fools gladly, but win his trust and he will never shy away from personal risk, if you need help. He swears like a trooper.
The paths of these characters and others entwine, as the plot unfolds. Humans have colonised a small part of the Milky Way, but unfortunately, our race has not learned from the millenia of so-called civilisation on Earth. Planets replace countries, but we have not achieved racial harmony. There are civil wars on individual planets. There is diplomatic tension between them. The story begins as such strife is waxing in the galaxy. Key to this is the fact that many planets are doing away with money, altogether. This leaves the remaining monetarist worlds with ever dwindling markets and economic crises. Something has to break.
Summoning Empire is a tale of sci-fi, but the real drive behind the novel was inspired by our own contemporary world. It mirrors present day Earth closely. Indeed, underlying the work is my own despair that as a race, we seem to be evolving technologically, but not sociologically. It is therefore a tale of greed, desire, ambition, selfishness, deceit and violence. These negative emotions are tempered by moments of love, happiness, loyalty and humour.
Enough said. Here’s a snippet that does not appear in the preview on Kindle. I chose this bit because it gives you an idea of Anninka and Thrax’s nature and their close relationship. It’s also light-hearted.
Thrax was waiting in the corridor outside Crofton’s office. “I’ve taken the liberty of packing a case for you, madam.” Thrax wafted a case in the air as evidence of this deed.
“So I see. Thanks, Thrax,” she said as they headed towards the elevator that would take them to the right deck. “They haven’t exactly given me much time to prepare for what could be an indefinite stay. What have you packed, or shouldn’t I ask?”
Thrax beamed. “Oh, the usual. Peep-hole bras, crotch-less panties, a sun hat and a pair of flip-flops. Not to mention your S and M gear and a fairy costume, in case it’s fancy dress.” Anninka pulled a childish face at him. He grinned back and opened the case a finger’s width. His face fell as he shut it again. “Sorry, madam. Looks like I’ve got the wrong case. This one’s got normal stuff in it. Look, I know what sort of things you like and I know the climate on Ramnaresh. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Packing for holidays is not all it’s made out to be. Ramnaresh has shops and we’re going to Carval, a big city by their standards.”
“Good enough, Thrax.” They stepped out of the elevator and turned left, smiling at the few people they saw as they approached airlock twenty-one. Thrax entered a code and Anninka’s retina was scanned. The doors cycled and they stepped through the airlocks, then finally out from Vagrant and into Ecliptic. The hull doors sealed behind them, with a hiss of expelled air from the pneumatics. A crew droid waited to greet them politely. It then led them through the narrow walkways to their berth, passing through what classed as a lounge and dining facility on Ecliptic.
The droid was humming so tunelessly, that Anninka wondered if it had faulty circuitry. The humming stopped when it spoke, “Ecliptic is a rapid response destroyer,” it explained, “so the facilities are basic. She only has two spare berths. The food served is nourishing and edible, by all accounts, but it wouldn’t get a mention in any good food guide. As a strike ship, she has a pilot, weapons operator and a surveillance systems operator. Each of these has a droid counterpart. I am an engineering droid. My human colleague is back in the drive room. You can call me whenever you wish. I’ll come as soon as I can. My name is Sparks. That’s what all mech-droids get called.”
The droid had assumed no avatar, but the voice it used was distinctly feminine. Her nameplate identified her as a class 2 unit, out of the Mitutoi factory, a military subsidiary of Cybertech. Her serial number was MXZA10376. Underneath the nameplate, one of the crew had neatly appended the nickname ‘Sparks’. Beneath that, they had added a pair of breasts, confirming that Sparks was indeed female. The droid stopped outside Anninka’s berth. It noticed the direction of Anninka’s glance. “Oh, that! I’m not offended by it. Once you’ve seen what AS Borbhinhas drew on his own spacesuit, you’ll understand.”
Here endeth the reading for today.