Dan Melson: September 2017 Archives

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It really was no mystery what I had to do. I was pregnant with a Seventh Order child that would put a target on my back if others knew or found out. The only course of action that made any sense was to blend in and do absolutely nothing out of the ordinary. I sent notification that I was ready to take more work before I was even done with the startup checklist. No, I didn't restrict myself to cargos within the Imperial Home Instance - I'd already removed that restriction, as expected.

I tried thinking like an enemy. If you know you have a Second Order Guardian like me protecting a potentially valuable thing like a Fifth Order child belonging to one of the Great Houses, and you know she's a pilot but you can't penetrate her graycode, what do you do? You look for something a little out of the ordinary that a person in such a situation might do. The alternative is setting up scans of literally every pilot module you have access to.

My pilot module was a little out of the ordinary, but not as much as you might think given Earth practices. There really hadn't been a reason why I'd ordered one with so much space. Yes, I had room for several kids plus dogs plus visitors, where most pilots really only had room for themselves in a standard module. But there really wasn't a reason for me not to have already obtained such a module, and there weren't any ties between the graycode I'd used to order the module and the graycode I was using as a pilot. The graycode I'd used to buy it was a plain simple 'cash only' graycode. It would be more fruitful checking to see which pilots were posting part or all of their own cash bond to lessen insurance costs - and I didn't stand out there. Matter of fact, because I wasn't posting a full value bond personally despite the fact I could well afford to do so might well throw off someone looking to find us via data mining. You didn't look for pilots who should have kids in school because that wasn't the way things were done. Imperial children get their schooling from automation and their parents. You didn't look for homeschoolers because everyone homeschooled. In fact, it was routine for children not to be registered at all until they were ready for their first adulthood exam. No birth records, no pre-natal care that could be tracked because the Empire didn't keep records and even if they had, I was a healer myself. There was nothing to indicate to the Empire at large that I was pregnant.

That didn't mean that nobody knew, however. I knew. Asto knew. My Earth family knew, and the Scimtars knew. Everyone but my Earth family understood the stakes and could be trusted to keep it secret. Trying to pry it out of any of the Scimtars would be next to impossible as well as insanely dangerous for anyone under Sixth Order. But my Earth family would never understand if I could indoctrinate them for a thousand years each. Worse, they were Mexicans by culture. Children were a reason to celebrate in any sane culture, but for Mexicans, babies were something to tell the whole world about. More so if a member of the family they're particularly proud of is having one - and my family was proud of me. I'd considered not telling them even though it would mean dealing with relatives being angry and offended at not being told when they did find out. But I'd decided against that course of action because the odds were that someone would figure it out anyway. The Scimtars were important within the Empire, and their rivals could be expected to devote some noteworthy resources to watching them. Given the capabilities of Imperial technology, any special attempt to shield from their intelligence apparatus would more likely signal them that there was something here worth going to a bit more trouble for than that it would manage to succeed completely unremarked.

Thanks to Draft2Digital, my fiction is rolling out on multiple new channels this week. Apple Store, Barnes and Noble, Inkster, Kobo, Scribd, Indigo, Angus and Robertson, etcetera

The Man From Empire, Rediscovery book one, on sale for 99 cents e-book!

A Guardian From Earth Rediscovery book two, still only $2.99 e-book!

Empire and Earth Rediscovery book three, still only $2.99 e-book!

Working the Trenches Rediscovery book four, still only $2.99 e-book!

Preparing the Ground Preparations for War book one, still only $2.99 e-book!

Building The People Preparations for War book two, still only $2.99 e-book!

The nonfiction is still in the process of timing out of an exclusive distribution program. It will follow as soon as that is complete.

This is early on in the story, just after she's been mustered out of the military.

It had been a while since I was on Indra, and twenty years since I'd been through Fulda. Instead of teleporting, I caught a portal to Sumabad, several thousand kilometers south and west, where it was still the middle of planetary night. Overhead shone the span of Indra Habitat One, the closer of two annular habitats encircling Indra's star. When I'd first been here, the framework was just going up, now it was rapidly filling with people. It was so close, it felt like you could reach out and touch it - the six Indra Rosette Worlds orbited only two Imperial seconds (just over a million kilometers) inside the huge band - less than half the width of the habitat, close enough to watch storms and identify seas and major cities. It didn't really get dark on the Rosette Worlds any more, with the habitat shining more brightly than a dozen full moons on Earth. It looked like we'd be passing in front of Habitat Two, orbiting perpendicular to Habitat One ten seconds further out, in a few more days.

Fulda was a small town by Imperial standards - only a few million people. The spires of Sumabad, by comparison, held somewhere over a billion, facing the Sumabad Strait. Sumabad was literally older than the Empire; it had grown up as a port city during the dark ages of Imperial prehistory. When the Empire reached Indra, it had already been the largest city on the planet. It hadn't been one of the Empire's largest cities in a long time, but it was impressive for what it was. Twenty kilometer high arcologies, each five to eight kilometers on a side, each separated from the others by about five kilometers of jungle style greenbelt studded with berths for the great spherical ships that were the largest freighters. Scimtar's former flagship Response In Will was permanently grounded in front of the closest, an eighteen hundred meter radius sphere of dark gray metal looming over the jungle but in turn miniaturized by the spires around it.

I turned and entered the arcology. I wasn't strong enough to teleport twenty-three kilometers straight up in one jump, but the arcology's portal system could handle it just fine. It had been a while since I'd been back; caution seemed called for. I chose a destination just outside the official Residence, and emerged into a brightly lit corridor. It wasn't packed by any means, but there were people moving along it, moving with the air of those on their way somewhere. I left the receiving portal platform as I accessed Residence security and submitted my identity for scan.

Residence security agreed that I was cleared for the Residence and admitted me. I got about two steps before my perception said someone was there and I was swept up in a big bear hug by Scimtar himself.
"Welcome home, daughter!" Scimtar was the definition of larger than life - a full seven feet tall, wearing the uniform of his own family - gold trimmed with blue, reversing the Imperial colors. I'd never seen him anything other than in complete control of a situation. Scimtar was Asto's grandfather, the head of the family, a legend throughout the Empire, and, at nearly thirty square (108,000 Imperial or 75,000+ Earth years) one of its oldest citizens.

I hugged him back, "Good to be home, grandfather!" then stepped back and saluted. He returned it, twinkle in his eye.

About then Anara - Asto's mother - also zoomed in for a hug. "Congratulations! Asto told me you already started!" She was in civilian dress, but she was wearing the gray triangle of an Octus-in-fact. She was much younger than her father, barely past her first square (3600 Imperial years or 2500 Earth). My baby was her first grandchild. Not far behind, her husband Gilras was more restrained in his hug. I noticed he was wearing a uniform with three purple stars of rank - a First General - but white staff epaulets rather than the black of active command. Unusual as First General was a command grade, not staff, but I was no connoisseur of what went on at those exalted ranks.

Asto's Aunt Anana was close behind, and Helene, Scimtar's wife, his grandmother, then Ononi and Imre, Scimtar and Helene's youngest children, screaming "Aunt Grace!" Well, technically, they were my aunt- and uncle-in-law, but they'd been children when I met them. Now, they were the family's youngest adults. "Lady and More are waiting in your apartment!" they told me, a reference to the two dogs Asto and I had adopted. I was tempted to let the dogs out to greet me, but first I wanted to get the family under control. Parnit was the last of the adults to join the gathering, together with his brood of four children ranging from ten year old (7 Earth) Imar up to twenty-one year old (15 Earth) Anesto, with two girls, Urona and Anosha, in between the boys. Anesto had been just over a year old when Asto and I enlisted; we didn't know the kids well. That would have to change. I had plenty of practice being 'Aunt Grace'.

Earth natives wouldn't have thought any of them were related to each other. Scimtar was tall, dark-skinned like some Earthly South Asians and hawk-faced, like his grandson Asto. Anara looked like a fair-skinned Celt with fiery red hair and was a foot and a half shorter, the same height as me. Anana could have passed for my sister, medium-dark brown hair and skin of that shade that can be found on tanned Anglos, Mediterranean people, or lighter-skinned Mexicans. I was slightly darker, but close enough. Helene always reminded me of a young Katherine Hepburn with the grace and dignity of the same actress much later in life. Imre was tall with skin the color of dark chocolate, while his fraternal twin Ononi was my height and fair, like her older sister Anara except blonde. None of Anana and Parnit's kids looked especially like either one of their parents. But they were a family. Imperials, especially Guardians, could easily determine their own appearance. I was at the lower end of the modification scale - all I'd added was a couple inches of height and about sixty pounds of dense, augmented muscle. I think Scimtar himself was fairly close to what nature had given him, but there was no way to know other than asking him.

Scimtar's two older sons, Iaren and Amras, Amras' wife Corella, and the other four grandchildren were elsewhere. The family was one of the most active in both government and military circles, but they'd earned what they had. There were pictures in the family archives of all of them (except Scimtar) freshly graduated from initial military training, wearing the single black disc of a brand-new Trained Private. They had commercial interests and businesses that they all took turns running; Anana was about halfway through her sixty year turn, and Ononi and Imre were her current assistants. But Asto's elder sister Anri was a Squadron Corporal somewhere, Amtre was a First Staff Corporal, and youngest brother Etonas (whom I mostly remembered as an overly brash teenager) was already a Squad Private, having served a little under three years of his first enlistment contract. Their cousin Anosh, intermediate in age between Asto and Etonas, was a Platoon Private, senior to me despite less time in service. But that was okay; he'd agreed to the longer hitch while I hadn't, and he had a more capable mind.

"Grace, it's good to have you back, but Gilras and I were in the middle of something," Scimtar said, "I look forward to catching up over dinner."

Most of the others followed suit pretty quickly. In a few minutes, I was left alone with Anara and Helene. "I have a performance in an hour and a half," Helene said to Anara, "Make sure she knows what she's letting herself in for."

"I will, mother." Anara said, and Helene strode out, saying, "Welcome back, Grace. We'll do more catching up over dinner, but make certain to listen closely to what Anara has to say."

"Well, mother, I'm all ears," I told her.

The Set-Up

This is evidently the first in a series.

Emily is kidnapped from our Earth (or a reasonable facsimile) by a necromancer in order to sacrifice her to the dark powers because she is a Child of Destiny. She's rescued by a sorceror who finds she has some magical talent and sends her to Whitehall, this world's school for those with magical talent.

The Good:

I like the set-up. Whitehall is not Hogwarts as far as learning environment goes. The learning environment includes the very real possibility of doing real harm or killing yourself. True to the vaguely medieval setting, corporal punishment is a possibility.

There are real world politics involved. Nor are the 'good guys' all saints. Emily's benefactor spells loyalty onto his retainers, dulling their minds.

Finally, there is real character development in the course of the story. Emily starts out as pretty much a useless victim, and step by step learns to take control of what's happening around her. She also learns about consequences of actions.

The Need Improvement:

Both The World's Only Perfect Woman and I agreed that the story went on way too long. By two-thirds of the way through, we were both thinking "Get On With It!" increasingly stridently. That was really the only major complaint, though.

Being the first of a series, it has to do a fair amount of lifting to introduce the world, and that impacts the enjoyability. It's understandable, even inevitable, as I've learned to my chagrin, but you can't have something different without introducing it.

This book is aimed at the teen market, obviously enough. The language is mild and the situations and descriptions are within carefully set limits. There's nothing about this book that would be inappropriate for a child of ten.

I would rate this book a seven out of ten. By Amazon's standards, a four star book.

If you want me to review your book, contact me via my facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Dan.Melson.Author My schedule can mean it sometimes takes a while, and it definitely wouldn't hurt your chances to review one of mine. I do not do puff pieces - real reviews only - but neither do I do hack jobs in vengeance.

Finished the first draft of the Invention of Motherhood last night. I'm proud of that climactic scene - it pulled me in emotionally and I know it's just a story I was writing. Sent it off to the beta readers. When it comes back, I'll look at revisions they suggest. Should be ready within about thirty days!


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The Man From Empire
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A Guardian From Earth
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Empire and Earth
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Working The Trenches
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Rediscovery 4 novel set
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Preparing The Ground
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Building the People
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Setting The Board

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The Invention of Motherhood
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The Price of Power
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The Fountains of Aescalon
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The Monad Trap
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The Gates To Faerie
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The Book on Mortgages Everyone Should Have!
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This page is a archive of recent entries written by Dan Melson in September 2017.

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