For one Mars lawman, a multi-disappearance shall have great implications for the colony he calls home.
Sometime in the near future, when the space race of the Cold War and its pioneering interstellar engineers have been long forgotten, humanity has reignited its ambition for the stars. Not out of innovation or for the advancement of science, but necessity. A new era of space exploration driven by private enterprise, bred from desperation and financial opportunity.
Mars was born. Mankind’s first colony. A refuge from a quickly collapsing Earth.
Leon Richardson is Mars’ Chief Custodian, and like everyone else, a refugee of Earth. Jaded by the things he has seen, he is not blind to the afflictions of this flawed utopian project. He had survived Earth and assumed he had already seen what Mars could throw at him.
He was wrong.
The failings of Mars are about make themselves known, and the powers warring in the shadows for so long are about to escalate their strategies. Leon is about to bear witness to the human price of old fashioned greed, and its apocalyptic ramifications. A multi-disappearance and the macabre revelations it will lead to are just the beginnings of one very complicated week for this lawman.
We arrived at the Custodian building, a squat, fortified structure that was clearly built from sturdier materials than most on Mars. Once through its two sets of security doors and we was safe within its walls, into the unlit gloom of my sanctum. Those four desks huddled around the databank like a campfire gathering, even in this dormant state it still thrummed with intelligent energy, a vast operating system slumbering in its idle automation. The databank was a piece of unique technomancy, and seeing the beast now in such quiet awe, was simultaneously extraordinary and terrifying. Creeping through the silent confines made me feel part of some illicit affair, hanging around after hours with the lights switched off, yet when I discovered we wasn't actually alone, said
guilt intensified dramatically even though nothing truly illicit was taking place. The stark, clinical light of the armoury suddenly illuminated the room, as its doors parted in one corner of the room. Val emerged looking equally surprised and guilty, we weren't the only ones skulking around in the dark.
"Graham all sorted?" I asked politely.
"Yessir," she replied hastily.
"You can go home, I'll cover tonight."
"Thank you, sir," and with that she hurried out, leaving the two of us alone again once more.
"Did she seem nervous to you?" Iris suggested once the coast was well clear.
Oh great, I thought to myself, another person trying to sow doubt in my head, not another one.
"I think she thought she was about to be jumped. Tonight took its toll on all of us," I offered half-heartedly. Val had been following the orders I had given, but she had indeed looked rather nervous too.
"Whatever you say. She's the new one isn't she, I never received much information about her. Funny that. I can recognise a person with agenda when I see it, I wouldn't be much of a governor if I couldn't. You can tell when someone's been indoctrinated, they become followers, and there you have no better example of someone with a duty to follow."
As she blathered on, I showed her over to the now vacant armoury, an unnaturally bright room contrasting with a vast quantity of dark and imposing weaponry. To the uninitiated, it was a breath-taking and terrifying sight, a single room with the potential to cause so much destruction, and Iris dealt with it in her usual charming flippancy.
"Oh, so this is your gun shed."
"It's called an armoury," I corrected pointlessly.
"Gun shed sounds better, you should hang a sign above the door."
"I brought you here for a reason, if you’re going out there and make yourself a target, let's at least give you a fighting chance."
"Yes SAH, right you are SAH," she confirmed, providing an exaggerated barrack-room voice and a mock salute.
I approached the varying collection of drawers and display units, seeking something compact and straightforward enough for the governor, a point-and-shoot as photographers use to say. I found a handgun from the early twenty-first century, a relative antiquity devoid of the trappings of modernity, gone were the palm readers and target identifiers. All Iris needed was something for last resort, she didn't need it to be singing and dancing. I turned to her, gift in hand, and it seemed the reality of what I was offering finally dawned on her. I knew her as a person, but to most she was the governor, not a name or a person but a title. That figure of ultimate authority that apparently kept the world turning, but Iris was a person like the rest of us, living among us. And she cared, she really cared about the people of Mars, you just couldn't do her job if you didn't. But her job necessitates pragmatism, and when you’re that high up the tree, everything else looks small. I was providing her an opening into a world more real and consequential than she had experienced, where actions did not lead to forecasts and figures. Maybe that was why she nearly recoiled from what I was presenting, the romance of the uniform fading as she understood what I was, what I had to do to keep the world turning.
"Now I can't show you how to shoot, we don't have any blanks. For some reason, nobody seemed willing to smuggle pretend bullets," I told her as I turned the gun's grip towards her.
"Are you sure about this?" She replied to my hands, her eyes locked on to what I was holding.
"I alone won't guarantee your safety, not in these times," I urged despite not wanting to pressure her, though something within me knew I had to. "The Empress was felled right in front of me, I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I failed to prevent the same thing happening to you."
"Okay okay," she sighed, finding her nerve, "I don't really have a choice."
She gingerly accepted the weapon, her fingers awkwardly tightening into a grip that I would not recommend firing from. I went around behind her and began to show her the necessary techniques, adjusting her stance, correcting her grip, explaining what I could without being able to fire the weapon. My arms reached around hers in an embrace that was unintentionally intimate. I was slightly taller than her and so my nose rested on her head as I peeked over at my teaching hands. My mind wandered as I was engulfed be her seductive aroma, a sweet haze that wafted into my very soul. I suddenly doubted my innate urge to protect her by any means, was it right to turn her into a soldier, should I really turn her into me.
"Stay focused Leon," she whispered as if knowing, "let's not lose our heads."
I did as she commanded and taught her what she needed to know.
30/4/19 - New Pledge Level!
Tuesday, 30 April 2019
My precious pledgers, today I am pleased to announce the launch of a brand new pledge level.
I can now offer the rather unique opportunity to name a character in my forthcoming book. You will find this new option present and correct on the project page.
If only I had thought of this from the beginning! The inspiration came author Val McDermid who I overheard once auctioned off a spot in a book…
7/4/19 - Over To You
Sunday, 7 April 2019
I’ve talked about a lot of different stuff over the last few months, but this post is going to be a bit different. It’s going to be short and sweet. It’s going to be a question.
What do YOU want to know?
Leave your comments below and I’ll do my best to answer.
18/3/19 - Thoughts on a Genre
Monday, 18 March 2019
Writers do not write in a vacuum. I may have said this before, in fact I am always saying it. It’s understandable when a story is about a current moment in time, a social commentary is by definition purely about the world around us. Then there’s my genre, science fiction. Now how can that be about the current of state of things I hear you ask?
The sci-fi genre is currently alive and well, popularised…
26/2/19 - Where Authors Fear to Tread
Wednesday, 27 February 2019
In the run up to preparing this blog post, Red Soil hit a new milestone. We are in double digit folks, we’ve hit the ten percent mark. Thank you all, thank you so much.
Let the blog post commence.
- - -
Selling things is hard, whatever it is. It requires both cunningness and the ability to be personable at the same time. Some would say it is a most devious of art forms, but there is a difference…
1/2/19 - Choosing Your Perspective
Friday, 1 February 2019
Jamie sat down to write his blog...
I sat down to write my blog...
Two styles. A choice since the dawn of time,( or maybe just literature.)
The earliest stories we encounter as a child are simple ones, and for good reason. Cautionary tales. Good versus evil. Happily ever after. All these are most often told by a kindly narrator. Fiction with any form of narrative complexity is mostly years…
11/1/19 - Writing By Numbers
Friday, 11 January 2019
Ironically, for a vocation all about words writing is a numbers game. How many pages? How many chapters? How many words? Even the commercial world of publishing boils down to the number of copies sold. But that’s just the nature of business.
It is considered good practice to write with regularity, scheduling a time of day every day to help form a habit. When most writers sit down for a session…
Happy New Year (and some bonus content.)
Tuesday, 1 January 2019
2019 is here. Hurrah. Happy new year to all my kind supporters. Yes, it’s time to get back to the grindstone.
One great challenge debut writers face is convincing the reading public to trust in their writing ability. The well-known authors can sell books on name alone, the unknowns have to work for it.
I feel it is only fair that I provide ample proof of my writing ability, especially when…
Saturday, 22 December 2018
It’s about time I wrapped things up for this year.
I just wanted take this opportunity to thank everybody for supporting me in 2018. I acknowledge that supporting a project like this is very much a blind leap of faith, and I am particularly grateful for you all being here from the start.
I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, and see you in the new year.
30/11/18 - Weekly Update +1
Friday, 30 November 2018
Week two was a tough week, it’s all still new and I am learning what works and what doesn’t. I don’t have much else to add unfortunately.
To bulk out this post I’ve added below a brief piece on the writing profession, and by extension art in general.
This has gone out a day late due to a medical emergency, oh the joys of being a carer. I know I am setting a precedent calling these weekly updates…
22/11/18 - First Week Done
Thursday, 22 November 2018
A week ago I launched my debut novel, and just like any manuscript, it was a moment resulting from a serious amount of work. And it was like stepping from the frying pan and into the fire.
I understand the world of writing, marketing however less so. This process has a steep learning curve, and if my efforts in promoting come across as scattershot and amateurish, I can only apologise. I’ll…
And so it begins.
Thursday, 15 November 2018
So here we are, day one.
Today, I shall keep it brief, there is a lot more to come.
But here's a special thanks to all those early adopters out there, all you kind souls willing to put faith in my project where others have not yet tread. Thank you for your consideration and generosity.
We've got a long way to go.
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These people are helping to fund Red Soil.