September 2021 Archives

Moving The Pieces Cover Reveal

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Not perfect, but communicates a lot about the book

This will be the final entry in the Preparations For War series.

MTP cover.jpg

Preparing the Ground is the first book in Preparations for War series. The fourth (and final) book will be Moving The Pieces, which is with the beta readers right now.

Copyright 2021 Dan Melson. All Rights Reserved.

It started innocently enough. Joe was the engineer on one of Earth's first explorations beyond the Solar System, using borrowed Imperial technology. Captured on a hostile planet, he has to make a plan for his crew to escape - and then he discovers his real mistake!

He becomes a Missionary of Civilization on a primitive planet caught between massive empires - and the enemy has to think it's all native ingenuity!


It didn't take very long before Jayden sang out, "I've got a nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere!" and both he and Will directed their full observational prowess on that globe. Mass .96 Earth, mean radius 6108 kilometers, density 6020 kilograms per cubic meter, distance to star 74 million kilometers, so it actually got a little more energy from Epsilon Indi than Earth got from Sol. Rotational period 25 hours and 38 minutes (Earth) - almost exactly one Imperial day. The local 'year' was 145 Earth days and change (136 Imperial or local). Surface gravity would be a bit higher than Earth, 10.27 meters per second squared, but 1.047 Earth gravity was very reasonable. I'd weigh not quite four extra kilos. Two noteworthy moons, one about 1% Earth mass (roughly 80% the mass of the moon) at about 24 iprime (204,000 kilometers), roughly half the distance from Earth to Moon. The second was about a tenth of that mass three times further out. Water covered seventy-eight percent of the planetary surface. Mean surface temperature was about 20 Celsius, roughly 5 degrees warmer than Earth. Four continent sized land masses, three of them mostly north of the equator, one south, plenty of islands. Sea level pressure 1060 millibars, nitrogen eighty percent, oxygen eighteen, argon, helium, water vapor, and carbon dioxide making up the rest.

We'd found a twin to Earth.

There was no measurement we took from space that said, "Humans can't walk around in their shirtsleeves," but we had no intention of landing. That was for an expedition with more resources. Like, say, a trained Guardian to be the first actual guinea pig to breathe the atmosphere. We were just surveyors. Then we saw our dreams of the big bonus go up in smoke.

Jayden broke the bad news, "I'm sorry guys, but I'm seeing large scale cultivation."

You don't have to see individual structures from orbit to get the clue it's inhabited. Cultivated fields don't look like uncultivated grasslands, even from orbit. Night side, get a couple hundred torches for a town of ten thousand or so, and you can see a town from orbit. City folks - of which I'm one - mostly have no idea how sensitive human eyes are to light. I looked it up later. In a dark room, humans can see light equivalent to striking a match 200 miles away. Remember, also, that there aren't many natural sources of light on a planet. There's bioluminescence, auroras, lightning, natural fires, and whatever artificial sources there may be. Looking down from space, the whole night side of a planet is the equivalent of that dark room.

Once we focused the cameras on the surface and zoomed in, it didn't take but maybe half an hour to confirm sentient habitation. They were bipedal, anthropoid, and looked human in the best images we could capture from the edge of space. Earth was still coming to terms with the fact we were descended from an Imperial ship that crashed or landed (we weren't certain which) roughly fifty thousand years ago in what is now Eastern Turkey, but there had been at least two periods in the history of the Imperial home instance alone when large numbers of people piled into any ship they could find and took off for the unknown because it was likely to be better than what they left behind. A few millennia ago, there'd been a revolution in the Empire that overthrew it and continued to tear things up so bad that the population plummeted by a factor of 3000 before the survivors of the old Imperial government reasserted themselves. And before the Empire, there'd been another great diaspora brought on by military conquest. The Empire was used to re-integrating lost colonies; it wasn't uncommon for explorers to find them.

But for us, it meant no super-sized bonus from discovering an empty planet suitable for colonization. The Empire's thinking was manifestly clear - even uninhabited parts of an inhabited world belonged to the people of that world. In some circumstances, other planets in the system as well. On Earth, the Empire had bought uninhabited islands from the legal owners in order to house their bases.

"Let's see what they have to trade," said Dulles.

Writing Project Status

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If you've read the previous post, you might have a pretty good idea I've finished the first draft of Moving The Pieces, and you'd be correct. It got sent off to the betas about three days ago.

What I'm doing right now is fixing some issues the betas brought to my attention with the first draft of End of Childhood. I do not believe this will take long, as I've already fixed the biggie. (Grace's son Ilras is a fun character to write about).

I'm looking for cover art for Moving The Pieces (or more properly, a cover artist). I'm also trying to hone the blurb as what I have thus far needs to be 'grabbier'.

Once everything is in place, the two releases will be done as close together as I can manage.

The next project after that is still planned to be the sequel to "The Gates To Faerie", working title "Gifts Of The Mother"


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