With me today is popular sci-fi author T. Jackson King. Please make him welcome.
About the author:
T. Jackson King. (Tom) is a professional archaeologist and journalist. He writes hard science fiction, anthropological sci-fi, dark fantasy/horror and contemporary fantasy/magic realism. Tom’s many voyages of imaginative discovery have led to 13 published novels, a book of poetry, and a conviction that when Humans reach the stars, we will find them crowded with space-going Aliens.
Tom lives in Los Alamos, New Mexico, USA and hangs with a group of smart and tolerant Westerners. Divorce has taught him to smile a lot and to work at being a Nice Guy. Still, he is pretty weird. Has been since fourth grade when he began reading sci-fi. Since then, he and Authority have rarely been in agreement.
Tom, please tell us how you began writing.
I’d be glad to, Lyn. It began in fifth grade, when I wrote a short story about a kid building a rocket in his backyard, blasting off for Mars, landing, then finding tiny fossils in the sands of Mars as proof that life once existed there. My early interest in paleontology got full play in that story!
Describe your favorite place to write.
In front of my glass-topped pinewood desk. It’s a simple desk, flanked on either side by bookcases with books, print manuscripts and pottery made by independent potters. When I sit in my comfy exec chair and look at the screen, the people in my head jump right out and do the Tango on the laptop screen!
Are your books published by a large publishing house or small press? If so, how did you come to be with this publisher?
Both. My first novel was Retread Shop, published in 1988 by Warner Books. My next novel was the collaboration Ancestor’s World, published by Ace Books in 1996. Since then I have had two books published by the small press Fantastic Books of Brooklyn. They were Judgment Day And Other Dreams and Little Brother’s World. They are releasing a third YA sci-fi novel of mine on May 23 at Balticon sci-fi convention near Baltimore. It is The Memory Singer. The rest of my novels I have self-published. So I am what some call a Hybrid—big press, small press and Indy published!
What made you change to the self-publishing route?
Control and ease of using Amazon’s Do It Yourself self-publishing venues like Createspace and Kindle Direct Publishing. Although I’ve had agents in earlier years, and two of my novels were published by major New York publishers, I’ve found that being an Indy author allows me to get the best cover art to go with an original story and to price it at a level appealing to regular readers.
Where in the world would you most likely to visit?
India. It is the home of Gautama Siddhartha, the Buddha, and home to the holy city of Varanasi, on the Ganges River. I would love to visit ancient temples, ancient sites where the Buddha meditated and ancient ruins all across India. I’ve wanted to visit India ever since I read about it in Rudyard Kipling’s class YA novel Kim!
If money was no object, what extravagant thing would you do or buy?
The Eiffel Tower. When I lived in Paris many decades ago, it was visible outside the window of the brownstone high-rise that I was living in. When I went to the top with my Dad, I loved the ‘endless view’ of Paris that I got from being elevated like a bird!
Who is your favorite author? What do you admire about her or his writing?
Robert Heinlein. His sci-fi novels of the 50s and 60s took me to outer space adventures that entranced me, motivated me to study science, made me question the Established Order, and taught me how to think for myself. By always asking Why?
How do you react to a bad review of your book?
With high anxiety, self-doubt, frustration and the thought “can’t this idiot read!?” That’s after being a pro published writer for 25 years. While Humans will have greed in common with Aliens, I think Self-Doubt is genetically endemic among Humans!
Describe what it’s like to be an author in three words.
Elevated. Elevated. Elevated.
What advice would you give beginning writers?
Be persistent. Be stubborn. Keep reading. Never give up. People with only modest talent can become very successful if they follow these rules, including success in writing fine stories and novels.
If you don’t mind telling us, which of your books has been most favorably reviewed?
My first novel Retread Shop. It earned great reviews from major review outlets like Library Journal, Voya, Science Fiction Review, Science Fiction Chronicle, and Locus, while its 22 reviews on Amazon have earned it a 4.5 star rating. Readers seem to love its ‘classic sci-fi’ nature and my imaginative Aliens!
Sounds like a great read! Now please give us a taste of your newest release.
Love to. Anarchate Vigilante is the latest novel in my Vigilante series.
Matt Dragoneaux the Vigilante has destroyed nearly a thousand Battleglobes of the Anarchate, the ruthless commercial combine that has ruled the galaxy for two million years. Their doctrine is “anarchy is profitable!” But Matt’s fleet of T’Chak warships has suffered the loss of five A.I. minds. And a new Anarchate fleet commander has developed weapons that can overload the Alcubierre shields that protect his ships from weapons fire. His war against cloneslavery has become painful for him, his lifemate Eliana, his A.I. partner Mata Hari, and the pilots of the 502 T’Chak warships that are pitted against 11,000 Battleglobes of the Anarchate. Even as the Anarchate rulers seek ways to trap Matt, his raid on a cloneslaver base reveals shocking news—his mother Kristen and his sister Charlotte are alive and working as labor slaves for Alien owners! Can Matt and his allies rescue the last survivors of his family? Or will the Anarchate capture them as a tool to bring Matt to his destruction?
Excerpt from Chapter One:
The only reason to let genome slavers live is the chance you can free their captives. Human or Alien, Matt would hold his laser fire if he could free even one captive. So far, he and Mata Hari the AI had learned of three captives at an asteroid base where slaver starships came for ‘rest and recreation’, according to NavCore data files they had recovered from dead ships after the Alkalurops beacon battle. Matt and his fellow cyborgs Eliana, George and Suzanne had all donned combat suits and pretended to be a slaver crew from distant Omega Centauri cluster in Norma Arm. This base inside the Ring Nebula M57 lay just 2,300 light years from Earth, at the juncture of the Orion Arm with the Sagittarius Arm. In what the Anarchate called Sector 13. Leaving the shelter of shuttle Ariadne, the four of them marched toward the landing dock’s large archway that gave access to the asteroid’s interior.
But being among slavers like those who’d captured his Mom, Dad and four sisters made him want to spit. Suit binged at him. “Matthew,” said Suit’s Tactical CPU, “coating Faceplate with spittle will interfere with your ability to perceive in the yellow light spectrum. Please refrain.”
The thud of Suit’s heavy boots against the metal of the landing dock came to Matt as a reminder of their mission. “Understood. Will refrain from interfering with your precious sensors!”
In his mind and over the tachlink node implanted behind his left ear, Matt heard Mata Hari chuckle like the ancient World War I spy she pretended to be. The red cloud of her mindsense hovered on the periphery of his mental awareness, along with the mindimages of his lover Eliana, her precog mind-sister Suzanne and black-bearded George of the wrestler’s build, his first combat ally beyond starship Mata Hari and its T’Chak AI BattleMind.
“Matt,” mused the soft voice of Mata Hari, “the task ahead requires concentration, not emotion. Remember our discussion before we arrived at the heliopause of this nebula and chose to assume a slaver ID for each ship of Hexagon Prime?”
He remembered. Months after arriving in Morrigan system and dropping off the 131 slaver captives rescued in the giant battle at Intel Base 14 near the Crab Nebula, they had chosen to go after this cloneslaver base in Sector 13. With just eight ships. The other 494 ships of Cloud Fleet had split into ten cohorts and headed off to attack other Anarchate and slaver bases in the five spiral arms of Milky Way galaxy. This asteroid base had been the source for the 11 slaver starships that held the captives at Intel Base 14. Until Matt and his Cloud Fleet had attacked and destroyed every starship, Assault asteroid, antimatter-filled Supply Tube and the thousands of Remotes that Sector Captain Yorkel had seeded in the Intel system. His opponents were now either stellar plasma or minute black holes. While the 131 captives were alive and free. Freedom for every cloneslave and the stopping of cloneslavery and bondServitude were the objectives of his war on the Anarchate. A war that required him to be less emotional than normal for a Human. Let alone a Human who had lost his mother, father and four sisters to a slaver starship 15 years ago.
“I remember our Battle Council.” In his mind Matt felt the mindsense of his three cyborg battlemates and Mata Hari, the emotional artificial intelligence, or AI. “When do we emit the Spy Eyes, Snoopers and limpet complinks?”
“After we enter the occupied spaces of this base,” said Mata Hari, filling his mind with a three dee graphic of the elongated spheroid that was the asteroid, its internal levels and fusion reactors highlighted in purple even as the red bodyheat images of nearby lifeforms filled the left quadrant of Faceplate.
“Everyone, set your suit on Threat Alert, but leave it to me or Mata Hari to trigger any weapon use.”
“Agreed, Matthew,” muttered George in his Irish brogue, his deep baritone voice sounding tense.
“Of course,” murmured Eliana in a rich contralto even as her mind-sister Suzanne said “Of course” at almost the same second.
Matt grinned to himself. This slaver base was used to seeing lifeforms clothed in some kind of combat suit. But two women with the mental ability to ‘see the near future’, as Eliana and Suzanne could, was a surprise he planned to use against anyone who sought to block their mission of finding the living captives. Then they would return to their T’Chak starships for the final destruction of this base and the 22 slaver ships that floated nearby. Sinking into the multi-spectral vision of Suit and its millimeter ranging radar, Matt focused on the Solink avian who hovered in its vacsuit at the archway. The leathery-winged, yellow-beaked and red-crested avian held an AllCall datapad in one of its winghands, its attention focused on their approach.
“Welcome, fellow Trade beings,” its vacsuit called to them in Belizel click speech. “Your personal comlink IDs? Your medium of exchange for our services?”
Matt PET image-thought to Suit, ordering it to emit their first names, basic Human bio-data, and the ship name Descartes to the datapad held by the avian. “Data is transmitted to your device, winged one. We crew members of ship Descartes are in need of food, rest, recreation and entertainment.” He paused and gestured for George to lift a sealed bag that had become heavy the moment they all entered the gravplate field of the landing dock. “We bring 1,100 platinum Standards to pay for our . . . requirements. Satisfactory?”
The brown wings of the Solink avian drew a little apart within its transparent vacsuit. “Very satisfactory, good lifeforms of . . . the Human species.” The avian’s two blue eyes glanced down at the datapad, then fixed on Matt’s face as his Faceplate also turned transparent. “Yours is a Newcomer species, yes?”
Beside him the white ceramic combat suits of George, Eliana and Suzanne came to a stop as Matt stopped in front of the Solink alien. His three battlemates turned away from the avian and assumed an All Surround battle cordon, their laser Magnums pointed in multiple directions. Their shoulder laser pulse-cannons also hunted for targets among the other ships and vacsuited lifeforms present in the dock. “We are a Newcomer species. Our Corporate State is friendly with the Anarchate. We know how to do business. And how to work out alternate business solutions. Do you require a personal reminder of our versatility?”
The vacsuited avian floated away from the four of them. Until the metal wall of the dock chamber stopped it. Its pointed beak clicked in hurried Belizel. “No reminder is needed! Simply deposit your Standards on the Incoming Pedestal just inside the archway and proceed inward to enjoy our services. Flightless bipeds are as welcome here as are any Solink.” The avian paused as its blue eyes looked beyond at his three combat ready battlemates. “Please?”
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