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Archive for March 9th, 2008

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ISBN-10: 1-55404-538-X
ISBN-13: 978-1-55404-538-9
Genre: Science Fiction – Fiction/Adventure
eBook Length: 411 Pages
Published: January 2008
Imprint: Double Dragon Publishing

The Blurb:

Follow Gisel Matah and the thunder of hooves as she strikes back at the Imperial armies that threaten all she has worked for. She must defy every established world power to bring justice to common peasants and workers in societies now ruled by greedy aristocrats. Her covert activities require her to protect her fledgling Radical movement from both friends and enemies.

Risking her life and her love, Gisel negotiates even greater hazards in a wide ranging adventure. Her partner, Yohan Felger, becomes a problem when the Baron has him smuggle a steam engine to the Empire. Gisel knows of the subterfuge but cannot admit it, while Yohan is almost torn apart by the need to deceive her. Faced with removing the pressure on Yohan as he moves his contraband engine, she accepts the offer of General Lord Ricart, an ex-lover, to command a cavalry unit in battle. Her reckless courage is needed to carry out missions against two Imperial armies.

The fight finds her opposed by ever increasing odds until in the final confrontation she must outwit two enemies who vie to dominate Iskander. New friends, allies, and enemies as well as all the old ones fill the pages when Gisel Matah sets out to gain “The Wildcat’s Victory”.

The Author:

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I live with my wife, Shirley, and two shelter dogs, Coco and Emmie, in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. As a lad I lived, breathed, and dreamed aeroplanes; I won a place at RAE Farnborough learning to engineer them. But the reality didn’t fit my dream, so I took off into a stint in the army and then away to join the oil circus. Flying objects are tools when they now appear in my writing. I guess that’s the effect of maturity, but I hope, not a constricted, resigned, and unimaginative maturity. The mind still soars, even without wings, and the dream of carrying others to a better future is now on the page.

Some readers comment that none of my stories take place next door to the lives most people live; the less charitable find similarity in characters who tend to be stubborn, independent, and out of step with the world’s expectations. Perhaps there’s a connection between the worlds I portray in fiction, and my working life in oil exploration in the Libyan Desert, the Canadian Arctic, and the mountains and forests of Western Canada.

I’ve written stories set in Anglo-Saxon Britain, in modern industrial projects, in the alternate world of Gaia, and the fantasy world of Rast. Sometimes I satirize jobs I’ve done. Many of my central characters are smart, beautiful, and dangerous women who lead unwilling males to fulfil the duties before them. Lt. Gisel Matah in Deadly Enterprise is perhaps the most Bond-like of these. I like writing novels about realities my readers can enjoy in the guise of dashing adventurers; loyal comrades; lovers; or pledged sovereigns. I hope they find there the spark that brings them to realize greater dreams of their own.

You can also visit me and my author friends at www.novelpro.com

The Excerpt:

Prologue

Robert Matah looked up from the keyboard when he heard a warning chime transmitted from somewhere in the bowels of the starship Iskander. A caution signal – with the overhaul of the Intruder complete, the workers were clearing the hangar in preparation for a launch.

He stared at the viewport across the empty control room. Below the starship’s stationary orbit the distant globe of Gaia shone like a turquoise jewel in full sunlight. It looked a lot like his Earth, but with a few big differences – no signs of space traffic, no huge grey blotches of cities, no Twenty-second Century bustle. This Earth was primitive, a world cast back in time — the nearest guess they’d been able to make suggested five hundred years back. Nothing but sailing ships and cannon here, until his father got the steelworks and factories going.

Robert hated visiting the surface, resented losing the sophistication and stimulation of the world he’d grown up in. He and his sister, Gisel, had come along with their father on a mission to develop industry and resource extraction for a new colony called N-3 in their own galaxy. Intended as a ten-year stint, they’d go home with enough salary banked to set up any career they desired. Instead, they’d wound up here — another Earth, but one with a different history. Five goddam years wasted so far! Somehow the Iskander had jumped right out of their own reality and wound up in something he’d believed was only a wild theory — an alternate universe.

He glanced at the Situation Screen, almost the only instrument in the control room they hadn’t transported down to their base on the surface. It showed a map of the world, oh so similar to the map of home, but with enough differences in place names and coastlines to make it foreign.

He’d built up the map with individual strips of spectroscopic imagery from the low orbit satellite system he had charge of. The Intruder would launch one more of the satellites on its way down to the surface. One more with imaging capability as well as communications and navigation systems — all brought from Earth to be used around N-3. Hope those folks were okay without them. He’d had to calculate an orbit that would allow this satellite to keep checking on a huge army headed their way from the Skathian heartland.

More goddamn trouble, it looked like — as if they hadn’t enough. Gisel, the crazy one of the family, lapped this world up. Who would have thought the gawky little gymnast kid would blossom into their best agent, and damn-near best officer too? He had to admire her, if only begrudgingly. She’d switched from competition gymnastics to foils when she hit thirteen. Talk about landing in a pile of gold dust. Turned out, swordsmanship was the one damned thing they’d needed to make their way when they arrived. She’d been every crew member’s instructor. If you could carry a rapier, and at least keep from getting spitted, you were counted a gentleman among the locals. Lady? Not so sure, but Gisel carved her own way. Status was everything — too bad he couldn’t even draw steel without damn-near cutting his own fingers off.

He stared down at the jumble of numbers on his computer screen, that he’d hoped would show how they’d wound up here. Another false trail — nothing here to explain the jump out of their own universe. Best he get back to his other priority project. He was debugging the routine he’d written to decipher the Trigon Empire’s primitive radio messages they’d intercepted. It had to be in some language nobody had heard of. If only he had the key to it.

President Scopes — plain old Dirk Scopes, intended to be N-3’s administrator five years ago — had given him the task of piecing together all the data they’d gathered on the mysterious rulers of the Empire. He was damned certain the Trigons were also off-worlders who had wound up stranded on Gaia as well. Hardly anyone believed him, except Gisel. She’d sent him an account of an empire based around the Mediterranean, that the Trigons had conquered two hundred years ago.

That empire had probably descended from the Carthaginians — seemed there’d never been a Roman Empire here, nor any of the institutions that had grown out of it. Nobody knew where the Trigons had come from, but rumors of some weapon called the Sky Thunder abounded. A spaceship? If it was, it seems it had crapped out in the intervening years; the Trigon Empire now enjoyed the same technology any other Seventeenth Century nation would have — except for their analog radio.

The Emperor and his Trigon cohorts ruled this Empire with a heavy hand. They allowed no one to make a voyage of exploration or invent anything — not even a mousetrap — without Imperial say-so. Until the Iskander arrived.

As a team of resource scientists and engineers sent to develop the technical infrastructure on N-3, it had been a foregone conclusion they’d set themselves up to do the same here. They’d landed in Sweden — called Tarnland on Gaia — and intervened in a war of independence to ingratiate themselves with the Autarch and his nobles. Now his father, Henrik Matah PhD PEng, ran a modern steelworks and factory complex — well almost modern. The Old Man had decided on a gradual development in order to train the locals to carry on the Iskander legacy. These people could learn steam engines and iron founding; whereas semiconductors, nuclear physics, and bioengineering were right out of everyone’s league. Damned hard to find enough of these dumb Gaians who could learn to swing a wrench without stripping every thread in sight. And even half the Iskanders were lost in anything more complex than matrix algebra.

So the Empire was out to get them. Gisel had experienced trouble with some heavy called Zagdorf, and the Imperial army had intervened in the war Iskander was helping its Tarnland ally win. Whomped the bastards at sea, though. The Empire ships were small sailing ships armed with a mess of mismatched cannon, so Father’s updated warships from the Napoleonic era had swept them from the Inland Sea. Baltic, that was. Yeah, sailing ships — all the locals knew, except for the few steamships Iskander and the Felger Partnership had put to sea in the past eighteen months.

In the past year they’d made a big jump in production, now they had the Felger family enterprise to help move the products of Iskander factories. The Felgers were locals who owned the biggest trading, banking, and mining business in European Gaia. Gisel had been instrumental in getting the family on their side, probably because she could twist the Baron and his nephew Yohan around her little finger. Yohan was her new lover, the third she’d had since hitting the planet, and she insisted she was going to marry this one. She’d said that before. Good luck to the girl. She certainly carried more than her share of the load down there on the surface.

The warning chime came again; that meant the Intruder was about to launch. He’d better get back to work and quit staring out at Gaia floating amid the stars. With only six people who could work on the space plane, out of a hundred off-worlders, it had taken two months to complete a thousand-hour overhaul. Intruder was their lifeline, the shuttle between the Iskander in its stationary orbit and the surface. He hated the surface, so why did he feel so claustrophobic whenever Intruder left? If anything happened to it, he’d be even more stranded than his sister below, immersed in Gaian society.

Iskander had no fuel to move out of orbit, and couldn’t enter the atmosphere. Father had said it would take at least ten years to build and send a rocket up from the surface — and he had no people to spare to work on such a project. Every person they had was stretched to the limit keeping what infrastructure they already possessed working. With only a hundred people trying to make over the whole world, they hit their heads against a wall as often as they made a breakthrough. Every small movement was a victory.

Get your copy from Double Dragon Publishing.

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