For decades the Space Consortium of America has searched for new ways to harvest resources beyond an increasingly depleted Earth. The ultimate plan is about to be ignited. So is the ultimate threat to humankind…
Welcome to the February 3rd stop on the blog tour for the Mars Wars series by John Andrew Karr with Goddess Fish Promotions. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for spotlights, reviews, author guest posts & interviews, and a giveaway! More on that at the end of this post.
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Author Guest Post
Pondering the Muse
My writing room walls have prints of van Gogh Sunflowers and landscapes, Frazetta’s Conan battling two Frost Giants, a cemetery plaque replica, a gargoyle drawing from my daughter, a Dinosaur Crossing road sign with grinning velociraptor, a howling wolf beneath a full moon beside a waterfall, and the one print that is as flatly realistic as life beyond the panes of my writing window, yet I’ve adopted it as completely symbolic of my muse.
Winslow Homer’s The Herring Net
Yes, I like to fish, rarely go these days but even when I do, it’s not like the fishing of Homer’s painting.
The two fishermen are wearing rain slickers and hats in a small rowboat in stormy seas. No facial features are evident. The fisherman facing forward is crouched or half-standing at the stern, toiling with a fishing net, hauling in a score of herring. The second fisherman sits on the gunwale at the bow, most of the body hanging precariously over the ocean swell. S/he is facing the center of the boat, as is the net worker, likely maneuvering the catch from the net and into the boat.
My muse is the on the gunwale. As writer, I am the one hauling in the net. The fish in the net are the stories; be they short stories, novels, novellas, whatever. The ocean is the world; a place of danger but also of adventure. A productive writer must venture upon stormy seas and be willing to work to haul in the bounty.
I can’t recall when I first saw The Herring Net, but I do recall it was sometime after I began writing daily. The impression that struck me was immediate, as I’ve attempted to describe above.
About the Books
Mars Wars Book One
by John Andrew Karr
Published 5 February 2019
Rebel Base Books
Genre: Science Fiction
Page Count: 302
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
For decades the Space Consortium of America has searched for new ways to harvest resources beyond an increasingly depleted Earth. The ultimate plan is about to be ignited. So is the ultimate threat to humankind . . .
Battle-hardened Captain Ry Devans and his crew of the Mars Orbiter Station One (MOS-1) are part of a bold plan: resurrect the active molten cores of the Red Planet with synchronized thermonuclear explosions, and terraform the hell out of that iron-oxide rock for future generations. It’ll change history. So will the strands of carbon-based Martian cells that have hitched a ride on the ship.
Dr. Karen Wagner knows the microbes’ resistance to virus is incredible. It’s the unknowable that’s dicey. Her orders: blow them into space. But orders can be undermined. Two vials have been stolen and sent hurtling toward the biosphere. For Devans and Wagner, ferreting out the saboteurs on board is only the beginning. Because there are more of them back on Earth—an army of radical eco-terrorists anxious to create a New World Order with a catastrophic gift from Mars.
Now, one-hundred-and-forty-million miles away from home, Devans is feeling expendable, betrayed, a little adrift, and a lot wild-eyed. But space madness could be his salvation—and Earth’s. He has a plan. And he’ll have to be crazy to make it work.
“Take the shot!” Hamilton’s voice, excited in his ears. “You’re at seventy yards between. That’s easy range for the atomizer.”
“Yeah, thanks, but I’m not exactly a sniper, Ham. And it’s not even a rifle, okay?”
At fifty yards he unbuttoned the holster and drew the atomizer, aimed, and fired a single pulse. The white fluorescent laser beams snaked out and missed, just above the rounded beetle hull of the repair drone. Its long arms went into motion, as if it were alive and realized it was under attack. Tendrils of laser-encased hyper-vibration streaked for Wagner’s face shield.
“Whoa!” he cried, ducking low so the ray passed overhead.
“What was that?” Hamilton asked.
Trent swerved in his descent spiral as another bolt lit the tunnel. He shot back, and one of the drone’s arms fell from a missing socket. A hit, but not debilitating. “Guess who also has an atomizer?”
“The drone is firing back?” Ham said incredulously.
“Somebody’s hacked the crap out of this thing!”
“Thought the operating system got messed up and it went rogue.”
“Well, the rogue must have artificial intelligence, or it’s a pure hack…It’s fired atomizer slugs at me twice now!”
“Repair drones don’t have AI. Kill it and return to the surface!”
He took aim, but the atomizer fixed to his opponent’s arm glowed before his own. He had a split second to dive to the side or a third beam would have put a hole in the size of a fist through his torso. The board, obeying the relative position of the computer on his forearm, went into a side spin. He countered and fixed on the drone, but it kept a relative position directly beneath him now. Soon it would open fire, and he was vulnerable. He rolled his forearm. Now the board was overhead, and he hung beneath it like a space bat, if there were such creatures. He fired three quick blasts as it aimed its own tool-turned-weapon.
A flash of sparks, and the drone sheared in half, then quarters. Pieces of it flickered, then faded.
“Boom, baby!” Wagner shouted.
He rolled his forearm hard left and stood on the board and balanced, then hovered after a few more adjustments. He watched as residual glowing pieces fell beyond the nearby relay. “It’s dead, Ham!”
“All right! Great stuff! Now get the hell up here!”
“And please leave the twentieth century down there,” she added.
“That was uncalled for, Senator,” he said, with a laugh.
“No crap, Trent, you have to get moving. You’re five miles down.”
He heard her swallow.
Up! he thought.
He flew upward and soon passed the four-mile mark. At the third mile the drone board flashed red and slowed its ascent.
Not optimal, he thought.
“You’re doin’ great, Trent.”
“Now you’ve really got me worried.”
“Only now? Why?”
“I don’t think you’ve used my first name this much, ever. Oh, yeah, and my ride’s ion supply is spent.”
He kicked out of the board as it gave its last bit of ion energy. It fell away in the darkness, red lights glowing down the abyss. Warnings sounded in his helmet and the jet pack flashed red around the tunnel walls. He considered activating his boot jets but nixed it. They were the last-ditch option. He didn’t want to use them until the others gave out.
Fresh sweat broke out on his forehead. “Uh, you said something about another drone board?”
“I’ve got it flying like a plasma bullet a half mile from your position, kid,” Captain Devans said, his voice, tight with tension.
“Hey CapD, this is a private channel.” Trent’s belly tightened as he dropped down a few feet as the pack drive sputtered, stabilized, then sputtered some more. He swore and backed off the speed.
“Captain’s prerogative,” Devans said. “Hang on! Second drone’s coming.”
“Thanks. I don’t know how much longer…This was still worth it, you know.” A tremble had entered his voice.
“Shut up and just hover instead of climbing,” Devans said. “Let the board come to you.”
The jet pack increased the flickering of the red warning flashes and decibel level of the alarm now, as Trent leveled out to hover. He looked up. He thought he could see a pinpoint of light way up there. The jet pack gasped, sputtered, and quit. He plummeted in a sickening free fall. He touched a button on his suit.
“Boot jet time!” Wagner said and leveled out once more, then slowly climbed. It wouldn’t be enough to take him to the surface, however.
“Drone?” he asked.
“It’s coming, it’s coming!” Hamilton said.
“Hang on, Wagner! I’ve got it closing on you,” Devans said.
He flew upward another few moments, then the pressure vanished from his boots. The ion jets were done, probably quit early from his antics at the mouth of the tunnel.
His stomach lurched. This wasn’t drone riding at Lunar One for kicks. This was the calculated risk where Death shows his cards and laughs. Trent held his arms out at an angle, fought to stabilize. He forced his eyes to remain open and scan upward. Searching. Searching.
“Status, Wagner?” Devans said.
“Not…too…good,” he grunted. “Jets…all done.”
“You’re falling! God!” Hamilton said.
“Hang on, Wagner! The board’s coming faster than your fall. Get ready!”
His helmet lights illuminated the rush of tunnel wall.
A plunging glow from above. New lights! A rectangular outline was coming fast.
He grabbed at the board, but it shot past him. His gloved fingers swept the surface.
“Slow it a little!” Wagner said.
“Getting beneath you,” Devans returned.
Wagner’s breath got knocked out as he struck the drone squarely on his back and nearly rolled off trying to grab hold. “I’m on! Got it! Got it!”
Cheers through the comm link.
On his belly now, with legs too shaky to try to stand, Trent flew upward on the second board, this time straight up. The tiny light above grew larger and larger. Two shadows appeared in front of it, and the helmet lights of two forms came toward him. The identity text labels of Hamilton and Devans came up on his face shield.
“Are you two star-shined? Don’t come down here!” Wagner said.
“Wagner, please,” Hamilton said.
They slowed, hovered above Wagner’s rising position, then matched the board’s upward speed. They grabbed the retention rail at each side of the board and set their jet thrusters on high.
“Enough tunnel diving…Let’s get the hell out of here,” Devans said. “Wagner, link this drone board to your forearm computer.”
A few seconds passed. “Got it, Cap.”
“Okay, I’m breaking off my link.”
Upward they flew. Wagner grinned at his companions.
“Don’t give me that crap,” Hamilton said.
“Come on, Ham, you gotta admit it’s pretty cool.”
Devans shook his head back and forth inside the helmet. “It’ll be cool when we get back in the shuttle and on our way to MOS-1 for the Detonation Event, surfer boy. By the way, you saved the mission, but never risk your life for equipment unless it’s life or death.”
Wagner smiled. “This mission is about mortality. It’s the only shot Mars has at life again.”
“We all want success, but let’s agree it’s a very long shot,” Devans said. “Calculated risk should involve better odds.”
“Got that right,” Hamilton said.
Wagner’s smile faded as bright light moved back and forth over the tunnel mouth, casting moving shadows of the rim. “What’s up with the lights?”
Devans squinted upward. “Nuro, why is the shuttle in motion?”
“Nuro, Klemmet, what the hell’s going on with the shuttle?”
“Somebody give me a damn status up there!”
No answer. From anyone.
The light danced back over the tunnel in sweeps of varying intensity, and glimpses of a spinning and shuddering PS-9 could be made out as the tunnel mouth grew wider and wider as they flew for the surface.
“Burroughs, what the hell is happening? Burroughs!”
“They’re not on this private freq,” Hamilton said, looking over Wagner’s prone body on the drone board at Devans. “You hacked your way through.”
Another form rose above the edge of the tunnel, ion jets glowing on her back. She frantically waved them upward.
“Hold on, I see Burroughs,” Devans said. “Changing freq to public. You two do the same. Keep pushing up!”
His mouth moved, the veins on the side of his neck bulged, and his eyes glared as he kept staring upward. Wagner changed his frequency with a verbal command and picked up the conversation between Devans and Burroughs.
“Nobody’s replying to my hails! Nine goes up two hundred feet, out a half mile, down to bounce off the surface, then back into a spinning swing!” Burroughs said, her voice tense to contain the note of panic.
“Navigation’s degraded or gone. Describe the tail section,” Devans said.
“White hot! There are cracks all over the hull and smoke’s streaming out! Ry—Cap—it’s horrible!”
Through the face shield Wagner saw shock on Devans’s face; then his features hardened. “The nuke drive is in overload! Crew of PS-9, abandon ship. Repeat, abandon ship!”
Mars Wars Book Two
by John Andrew Karr
Published 21 January 2020
Rebel Base Books
Genre: Science Fiction
Page Count: 200
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
With the mission to colonize Mars underway, a terrorist threat from Earth may stop humanity’s chance for survival in this sci-fi thriller Mars Wars sequel.
After jumpstarting the molten cores of Mars, giving the previously dormant planet a fresh start at harboring life, Cpt. Ry Devans is a hero. But he’s also a wanted man thanks to the Earth First Faction (EFF), a terrorist global juggernaut out to quash the colonization of space and keep the last of humanity under its control.
Now that the EFF has dispatched its own deadly crew, Devans and his team have three options: fight, surrender, or witness the extinction of the thousands of civilians repopulating space. For Devans and his outlaw partner Dr. Karen Wagner, option number one is the only way to go–but the odds against them are literally astronomical.
Not only are moles undermining every offensive tactic, but some crewmembers onboard their ship are exhibiting dangerously psychotic mood swings. Is it just an extreme case of space crazy? Or a new microbial gift from Mars that could kill their mission before the war with EFF even begins?
Mars Wars Book Three
by John Andrew Karr
Published 28 January 2020
Rebel Base Books
Genre: Science Fiction
Page Count: 300
Mars, in the throes of resurrection.
If you happened to have an illegal telescope, or proxied your galaxynet address well enough to pirate your way to satellite images of Mars, you might glimpse a damaged but operational Mars Orbiter 1, alive with ‘rebels.’
You could see clusters of superheated propellant burning beyond Earth space, as the EFF (Earth First Faction) sends armed planetary shuttles on an attack route to relieve the rebels of their existence.
If so, you’d be witnessing Mars Wars.
The debris would be recovered by the drones for re-purposing.
No one on MOS-1 wanted human bodies to be stripped of their space suits by drones.
The machines would take them to Mars entry, however, for incineration.
Devans flew just past the next drifting form. He twisted into a one eighty to allow the ion jets to act as space brakes, then angled the small funnels to keep himself at the same rate and direction as the deceased.
He held an arm out and touched the suit.
The helmet had been atomized on a diagonal. He could not determine the gender of the victim inside. The identification chip was either gone or damaged.
This one’s even worse than the last one, he thought.
A glow spot grew in the corner of Devans’ eye. At first he thought it was notification of a mindtext, as they came with tiny dots in the periphery. But this was on the wrong side of his mindtext queue.
“Ry, duck and move! NOW!”
He knew Burroughs’ tones well enough to react first, ask later.
His hand blurred to hit a double max jet burst downward and sideways.
A concentrated cluster of laser beams lit up the inside of his helmet and hummed through his suit speakers.
He didn’t stop there.
He arced up and he drew the spatz pistol holstered at his side.
Another flash and he hit a jet burstupward this time. The beam went low, anticipating a maneuver similar to his first.
“Crew, back to ship!” Devans said. “Gwen, fire a volley at the origin.”
PS-17 shifted and fired, the beams trailing out into darkness.
“Shannon, where the hell is it?”
“I can’t see it!” her voice was frantic. “INCOMING, RY! Go, Go, Go!”
He zipped away on a spin, returned fire though he had yet to make visual, even with the face shield’s enhanced zoom.
“They must be cloaked,” he said, dodging two more beams.
PS-17 lit up the originating area with a barrage of streaking plasma rounds. He saw a single splatter that had appeared as nothing.
He aimed and fired at it, shouting coordinates.
“Get in the ship, Ry! They’re after you!”
If true, then PS-17’s shields were as about as impervious as human flesh to a spatz beam, and he’d be putting the crew at greater risk. However, his little suit jets were micro thrusters compared to the fusion engine of a shuttle, and the crew and all the ‘rebels’ of MOS-1 had already been hurled into the risk vortex that accompanies war.
The space crazy had an answer.
“Nah, I’m good out here.”
About the Author
From his home in Wilmington, North Carolina, John Andrew Karr (also John A. Karr) writes of the strange and spectacular. He is the author of a handful of independent and small press novels and novellas, and also leaves in his wake a trail of short stories.
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