By Ste Sharp
The sequel to the sci-fi novel Darwin's Soldiers – John Greene and the allied army fight to discover how their mutations evolved.
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In Survival Machines, book two of The Origin Trilogy, John and the army of survivors continue the search they started in Darwin’s Soldiers. Who brought them to this bizarre world and for what purpose?
Discoveries are made and battle fought as the allied army are drawn into a world populated by alien armies who have survived the same tests as them. Factions fight to get to the core: a prized location which offers them the answers they are all searching for.
But a new threat rises, in the hyper-evolved Tathon, who threaten to tear the new world apart. The very survival of all species is at risk as John desperately tries to get the factions to work as one and defend the core.
Will their adaptations be strong enough against their new foe? And will anyone survive?
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Ste Sharp was born in the hottest summer on record. The sun-god was happy and, by rights, Ste should have been sacrificed on the nearest beach, but he escaped. Twenty years later, with a degree in Ecology under one arm and a guitar under the other, Ste travelled the globe in search of tall tales and the perfect chord progression.
After sailing the seas with 16th century pirates, exploring the Brazilian jungle, living through the centuries as an immortal body-swapping alien and spending time with the ghosts of early Britons, Ste wrote Darwin’s Soldiers – his fifth novel.
With two young sons, Ste has roughly four minutes of spare time each day, during which he paints, writes and plays loud guitar in an indie band. Ste needs more hands.
John concentrated on the left-hand screen and rubbed his forehead as the buttons he pressed refused to work in the same way they had done five minutes ago. He was desperate for answers but couldn’t make sense of the diagrams and numbers on the screen in front of him. Delta-Six had been able to read it and had pressed the buttons on the desk to change the symbols on the screen but he’d disappeared to search for more information.
‘We haven’t got long until the new soldiers are ready,’ Osayimwese hissed.
‘I know!’ Crossley replied before John could. ‘I’m still searching… Delta-Six said telomere latency, right?’
‘Yeah,’ John replied, vaguely remembering the conversation and Osayimwese nodded.
They had found records for other species brought in but they needed to find details on humans, Lutamek or Sorean, and transfer everything to the thin sliver of metal Ten-ten had given them. Just thinking about it gave John a headache, his reading had never been great and after he left school he hadn’t had much need for it delivering veg or defending his trench.
‘It would be quicker if Delta-Six was here,’ Osayimwese said.
‘Sure it would,’ Crossley replied, ‘but he’s off on another of his missions, so…’
John looked around the curved room for any tell-tale shadows. Rar-kin, the Sorean, was outside, tending the young Lutamek who had brought them up using the helium-filled sac on its back, so any shadow would belong to Delta-Six or one of the robotic Synchronisers who ran the building.
John stared through the rectangular window above the computer screen at the locked in ship. He was still amazed by the thought that he and his friends had gone through the same process these squid-like creatures had endured when woken from stasis. They were still being processed by the look of things, which bought them more time.
‘Ah, what’s this?’ Crossley said and John leaned over to see a list of names, which he guessed he could read thanks to the translator fungus in his brain.
‘Looks like us,’ John said with a smile and tried to find his name.
‘Just save it to that… piece of metal,’ Osayimwese said.
- 23rd October 2020 Redcoats
After spending most of 2020 hiding in a nuclear bunker editing Survival Machines and writing the sequel to my 90s thriller, The Penguin Killer, I recently took some time to return to the world of Darwin’s Soldiers to spend some time with some of the peripheral characters… namely the British Redcoats we bump into during the epic journey.
Following their adventures, the short story…18th September 2020 Biennial celebrations
Yes, it’s hard to believe, but two whole years have passed since Darwin’s Soldiers was published and what a different world we live in now with Baby Yoda, face masks and life on Venus.
I have just signed off the typeset manuscript of Survival Machines, so we’ve taken another step forward towards publication. Next step, the cover! Thank you all for being patient - we will get there!
In the meantime…3rd September 2020 A reader lives a thousand lives
…and those who never read, only live one.
All those books and all the heads we’ve been inside! Good, evil and some rather bizarre ones with big, pointy teeth. (That was today’s random Monty Python link… “it can jump about - look at the bones!”)
From an author’s point of view, it’s nice to inhabit a character and ‘drive’ them about knowing what will befall them, but often they develop a mind…7th August 2020 Summertime
I hope you're all staying safe and enjoying the great summer weather we’ve been having in the UK? Maybe, like Astronaut George Taylor pictured, you’ve taken a relaxing horse ride along the beach? Found some interesting fossils?
While we’re waiting to see the new Survival Machines cover, I’ve been delving into the worlds of some peripheral characters who appear in Darwin’s Soldiers. It’s been great…24th July 2020 It was twenty-five years ago today
Okay, maybe not the classic line from Sergeant Pepper’s but that’ll get the song in your head!
Chapter One of The Penguin Killer opens twenty-five years ago – on Tuesday 25th July 1995. It’s strange to think how much has happened in the swift quarter of a century since then and how good the music of that era still sounds!
I’ve been immersing myself in the Britpop sound whilst writing the sequel…2nd July 2020 Looking to the future
Over the summer I’ll be writing some short stories from The Origin Trilogy universe, along with some shorts linked to my new book The Penguin Killer. I’ll send them out by email, so if you want to join in, just visit this link and add your email address: https://mailchi.mp/2002b4e17451/origintrilogymailinglist
Survival Machines is safely running through the well-oiled wheels and cogs of Unbound…19th June 2020 New Books
I hope you are all well and keeping safe?
I had some time in real isolation recently – quarantined from my family in my own home - and it reminded me of crossing the Atlantic a few years ago, on a cruise ship to Greenland, only this time without the showgirls, cocktails and dolphins. Maybe it was more like a one way trip to Mars? I feel like I’ve had the training now, Mr Musk, sign me up!
During…24th April 2020 Pause
Apparently, the pause icon was created by Ampex in the 1960s for the function that “stops operation intermittently and keeps the equipment in operating mode”, which sounds a lot like us right now.
I hope you are all keeping your equipment in operating mode!
While half the world have been bored to tears and the other half never been busier, the creative cogs in between my ears have been churning…9th April 2020 Time for a trim
It’s been a while, Team Darwin. My apologies. I don’t think there’s been much to report on these past few weeks? Nothing much has happened as far as I can remember… no world-wide cataclysmic events affecting the entire human population of Earth from the snowy-wastes to the tropical forests… until now.
I have before me a file which fills me we equal excitement and terror – the edited copy of Survival…2nd March 2020 Most excellent
YES! We’ve done it! The campaign for Survival Machines has completed!
Thank you everyone! You have all made this happen and I couldn’t be more grateful. :) John’s journey will continue and you will be the first to find out what happens next.
Right now, I’m imagining us, Team Darwin, at a school disco, high on sugary drinks and sweets. Before all the trendies try to join our group, let’s form…20th February 2020 And now the end is near
Survival Machines is 96% funded! We’re so close I can smell the ink on the page. :)
Three years ago, on March 1st 2017, Team Darwin was formed and we kicked off the campaign for the publication of Darwin’s Soldiers and I’m hoping we will complete the Survival Machines campaign as close to the first of March as possible. Nearly there!
Of course, we can push the book over the line sooner, so if…12th February 2020 The Lion and The Unicorn
I’m sure many of you loyal Team Darwin members have perused the Unbound digi-shelves, looking for literary treats and even pledged your support for other fledgling books? There’s such a wide-range of genres, but I’m often drawn to the speculative or dystopian books (think Sour Fruit, Bone Lines and The Third Wheel) and a new book has grabbed my attention – ‘The Lion and The Unicorn’ by Tom Ward.…30th January 2020 Almost there
We have hit the 90’s!
Yes – we are 90% of the way to completing our mission. Thank you one and all! From our original Team Darwin fans to our latest supporters – you are all fantastic and deserve a medal to go along with your copy of Survival Machines. (Now that gives me an idea for a new pledge level…)
The 1990’s were easily my favourite decade music-wise (as shown by my retro-crime novel,…17th January 2020 This is a first
I have just started something which most of you, Team Darwin, have already done. I may have read Darwin’s Soldiers five or six times during its creation and the editing cycle, but I’ve never read the actual paperback… until now! Which can only mean one thing – we’re on the home straight!
My plan is to read the novel through, searching for any hidden gems I may have misplaced, and then leap straight…7th January 2020 MMXX Vision
We’ve made it to the 2020’s, which still sound to me like some distant future age when we should be zipping around in jet-cars and taking weekend breaks on the moon. For me, the 20’s have so far involved feverish hallucinatory nights, peppered with wild coughing fits and copious amounts of pills, so I hope you’re all faring better than me! My new year’s resolution? To find the virus home world and…13th December 2019 Proper Chrimbo
Hold on to your bandanas! We’re rushing through the 80’s like a big-haired rock band in a convertible Ford Mustang and we’re looking cool because Survival Machines has hit 86%!!
Thank you everyone who has recently pledged or has upgraded your pledge - our next stop is the 90’s (my fave) so get your tartan shirts and Parka jackets ready!
Our mission is moving steadily on, with the hope to get…20th November 2019 We’ve just entered the 80’s!
Yes, we have hit the 80’s!
Before you rush upstairs to dig out your big-shouldered, day-glo, spandex power-suit from the back of your wardrobe… I’m only talking about the Survival Machines funding percentage. No time-travel I’m afraid. We’re still in the bizarre epoch future archaeologists will call the Brextinction period, marked by an increase in methane caused by the sheer amount of... well…1st November 2019 Let's Rock!
Team Darwin! It’s been exactly a year since we first banded together to bring Survival Machines to publication and we’re 76% of the way there! Thank you all!
But can we complete before the end of the year?
We just need a few more readers to join our band of merry, Lincoln-green astronauts, then the editors and designers can get stuck into the manuscript. So please spread the word - there’s a…27th September 2019 Nearly there...
Team Darwin… (or Team Survival?) …our unit of hardened warrior-readers grows by the week and we’ve just hit 71%, which means ‘Survival Machines’ is well on its way to publication!
It’s been eleven months since funding began, so we’re a fair way behind the ten months it took to bring ‘Darwin’s Soldiers’ to fruition, but I’m hoping we will be complete by the end of the year, which will mean the paperback…20th August 2019 The Writing Bunker
Eleven months after Darwin’s Soldiers was released into the wild… and I’m still locked in the writing bunker!
As you can see from the latest photo, I’m being held by an invisible army (a burly guard is seated in the corner) and have taken to typing the Survival Machines manuscript onto gossamer, spider web paper. I’ve been sending the book to the outside world, chapter by chapter, using a fleet…24th June 2019 Tolkien's Neighbour
We’re making great progress! Survival Machines is nearly at 57% and when we get there I’ll crack open a tin of baked beans to celebrate. Who says writers aren’t rock and roll, hey?!
There have been a few exciting developments with Darwin’s Soldiers recently (watch this space!) and I have finished editing Survival Machines. I loved it! Bit of author’s bias maybe, but I reckon it’s another cracking…14th May 2019 Woah, we’re halfway there!
We’re no longer livin’ on a prayer because ‘Survival Machines’ is 50% funded! Which means we are closer to the finish than we are to the start, so bring it on!
Thank you everyone for your reviews of ‘Darwin’s Soldiers’ and for your support of the sequel. It’s been great fun writing these books and even more fun sharing them with you and hearing your thoughts and stories about the characters and…29th March 2019 Mission Accomplished!
The first draft of ‘Survival Machines’ is complete!
There’s still a great deal to edit (103,000 words) and a few character names to arrange once we work out who is who, but the story has been finished and it’s been one hell of a ride! I can’t wait for you guys to read it and continue the journey with John and his allies.
Thanks to our recent pledgers who have helped us up to 40% funded! Meanwhile…7th March 2019 The Special Ones
Survival Machines is 35% funded!
Team Survival, you are my ‘special ones’. That doesn’t mean I think of you as a group of Jose Mourinhos, no, I think of you as my team of amazing readers and I appreciate your incredible support! It’s been great fun talking to you about Darwin’s Soldiers and about ideas for developing the rest of The Origin Trilogy.
The first draft of Survival Machines is coming…17th January 2019 Survival Machines
Thank you all for supporting ‘Survival’ – we’re nearly a quarter of the way to being funded!
I’m cracking on with writing the book (the second in ‘The Origin Trilogy’) and having a great time expanding on John’s adventures, bringing in new characters and killing off some old ones! While the story has progressed and my research has delved deeper, I’ve been thinking about the book title and I’d love…7th December 2018 Brand New Excerpt
Thank you everyone for your support! I hope you all enjoyed reading Darwin’s Soldiers and are as keen to me to know what happens next? (Don’t worry - I’ve got a pretty good idea of what lies ahead for those guys)
Survival is over 20% funded already and I’ve been writing away, building the new world John and his allies discover at the end of Darwin’s Soldiers. I’ve brought in new characters, some…1st November 2018 SURVIVAL is launched
We’re off and thanks to you loyal members of Team Darwin, we’ve got off to a cracking start and are already 12% funded!
Survival, the sequel to Darwin’s Soldiers and the second book of The Origin Trilogy, is officially open for pre-orders and – as a couple of you have already discovered – this is your chance to get into the story yourself, as a character.
I’m currently writing the novel, picking…
These people are helping to fund Survival Machines.