Books By C. LItka

Books By C. LItka

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Bright Black Sea is Now at Your Favorite eBookstore

The Bright Black Sea is now available for FREE at Smashwords, Amazon (US), Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and Kobo. My previous two novels, A Summer in Amber and Some Day Days are also available for FREE at these ebooksellers as well. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Bright Black Sea is Now Available

The Bright Black Sea launched on schedule last night, as an ebook on Amazon for their minimum price of $.99 and on for free. It should be available at Barnes & Noble, iBooks and Kobo within a week or so for free as well. Once that happens I'll point this out to Amazon and they have in the past matched their competitors price, so it could be free on Amazon (US) within a week to ten days as well. I hope $.99 won't break you, but neither Amazon nor I want you ticked off that you spent $.99 that you didn't have to, if you're willing to wait a bit.

I've now published three books, all of which I'm sharing rather than selling. I'm an amateur writer – I write for pleasure, not for money (not that there's much money in writing for most writers anyway), so publishing them for free is a natural way to complete a book. If I wanted to make money writing, I'd have to do a whole lot more than write. I'd need to identify and study the market and its bestselling books, craft a minor variation of those bestsellers and promote the snot out of it. All of which sounds very much like a job to me – one without the certainly of a paycheck every two weeks. So, instead, I simply write stories I want to read for fun and never ask myself "Will it sell?" or "How can I make it so that it might sell?" There's a niche for any work of art, and though some are pretty small, I think making my work just a (free) click away is the best, if not only way, of finding my readers and that niche. Without making it a job.

The three books I've published this year are the work of five years. I don't know what I'll write next. I have a few story ideas, but they're just the noses of stories, which are easy enough to come up with. It's  getting the idea from the nose to the tip of its wagging tail, and then into words that takes some doing. Still, winter's coming and it'll be long and empty, so I'll have plenty of time to type from nose to tail, if the inspiration comes.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Bright Black Sea Charts, Diagrams, & Characters

In a printed book I would have this information in the front of the book where a reader could easily flip back and consult it. I've found that in ebooks, however, that it isn't convenient to go back and find the right page, so I'm posting the information here where it can be download and printed out, if you care to have it on hand.

The Nine Star Nebula
Below is a representation of the Nine Star Nebula, with its eight stars, major drifts and most of the drift worlds and stations. Volume One, The Captain of the Lost Star take place entirely in the Azminn solar system. Volume Two, The Enemies of the Lost Star takes them to the drift worlds of Zilantre, Boscone and Despar. Volume Three, The Ghosts of the Lost Star takes the Lost Star to the drift station of Plyra, then on to the Amdia solar system, and the various drift worlds and stations out to the Kryver Reef.

The Inhabitable Planetary Belt of Azminn
Below is a diagram of the Azminn solar system showing it's human inhibitable planetary belt and the relative position of the 21 planets that circle Azminn in this belt. (At the time of the story, relative positions shift over time.) The size of the planets are drawn to indicate importance & population rather than the actual size of the planets. The Captain of the Lost Star takes place entirely within this system.

A Diagram of the Interplanetary Freighter Lost Star

Below is a diagram of the Lost Star. I have no working knowledge of computer drafting, so this diagram is hand drawn, and rather crudely at that. Sorry. I made the Lost Star very utilitarian, a no-frills tramp space ship. The unexpected result of having a very plain ship, was that I found it impossible to come up with a cover illustration that was at all interesting using it. And I did try.

The Cast of Characters for The Bright Black Sea
And finally here is the list of characters for each volume. The ship and its crew change their names in volume three in an attempt to evade their enemies. The Lost Star becomes the Starry Shore, and I've listed the crew's new names with their real, or at least old names in brackets. For the most part I used their old familiar names in the text, unless it involved dialog.

Volume One, The Captain of the Lost Star

Crew of the Lost Star
Wil Litang (m) captain and narrator
Illynta Tin (f) pilot, & purser
Molaye Merlun (f) pilot
Kie Kinti (m) systems tech
Riv D'Van (m) co-chief engineer, partner of Lilm Ar'Din
Lilm Ar'Dim (f) co-chief engineer, partner of Riv D'Van
Myes Qilan (m) 3rd engineer
Lili Chartre (f) electrical engineer
Dyn zerDey (m) environmental engineer, partner of late Captain Miccall
Barlan Dray(m) chef, Zylantre martial arts master (2 sword), partner of Saysa
Saysa Dray (f) chef & steward, partner of Barlan
Added after Calissant:
Rafe gil'Giles (m) chief systems tech
Vynnia enCarn (f) first mate, partner of Tenry Roynay
Tenry Roynay (m) pilot, engineer, partner of Vynnia enCarn
Astro & Orbit ship's dogs
Ginger one of the ship's cats, a Neavery Snowshadow cat

Other Characters
Phylea Kardea (f) office manager, general manager & partner Min & Co. later Min & Kardea
Ensly Mirrior, (f) employee of Min & Co.
Tallith Min (f) owner of Min & Co. daughter of Martingale & Onala Min.
Captain Zelbe Jann, (m) captain of the Comet King
Seni Shir, (f) first mate of the Comet King
Miclae Midedow (f) supercargo for Minlin Commission
Mountain King & sub-units sentient ship
Tat Timlor (m) shipbroker
Nadine (f) assassin
Max (m) assassin
Doctor Hans Wissen (m) doctor

People Mentioned
The Four Shipmates Sailed together aboard the Lost Star in the old days, they are,
Hawker 'Owner' Vinden, (m) late ship owner of the Night Hawk Line & half owner of the Lost Star
Fen 'Captain' Miccall, (m) late captain of the Lost Star, co-owner of the Lost Star
Martingale 'Pilot' Min, (m) late co-owner of Min & Co
Onala 'Purser' Min, (f) wife of Martingale late co-owner of Min & Co.

Olaeytha Min, eldest daughter of Martingale & Onala Min, scientist of the Outbound Survey Service on an extended mission.
Jelter Min, son of Martingale & Onala Min Towth adept on Kimsai's Peaks and Valleys Continent.

Volume Two, The Enemies of the Lost Star
Additional characters
Glen Colin (m) ghost former chief engineer
Captain Lenz deLin (m) LinTin Chartered Trading Co. port captain
Captain “Lively” Livtin (m) ship captain,
Captain “Blackie” Bright (m) ship captain
Captain Maulie (f) ship captain,
Captain Leith D'Lay (m) St Bleyth skip fighter captain,
Expora Minor (or Miner) outlaw sentient ship/mercenary berserker
Botts illegal class 8 robot, auxiliary unit of the Explora Miner
Captain Agust Nun (m) St Bleyth tactician & frigate captain
Naylea Cin (f) St Bleyth assassin, AKA Nadine

Volume Three, The Ghosts of the Lost Star
Additional Characters

Crew of the Starry Shore (formally the Lost Star)
Nives Wilcrofter (Wil Litang) (m) captain and narrator
Illan Lantra (Illynta Tin) (f) purser
Bry M'Ley (Molaye Merlun) (f) first mate
Kylan Balino (Kie Kinti) (m) systems tech / environmental engineer
Drimoch Riven (Riv D'Van) (m) co-chief engineer, partner of Lilm Ar'Din
Leelem Cardim (Lilm Ar'Dim) (f) co-chief engineer, partner of Riv D'Van
Haz Mytin (Myes Qilan) (m) 3rd engineer
Lila Tan (Lili Chartre) (f) electrical engineer
Barjour Astry (Barlan Dray)(m) chef, Zylantre martial arts master (2 sword)
Saemin Astry (Saysa Dray) (f) chef & steward, partner of Barlan
Ralf Hugou (Rafe gil'Giles) (m) chief systems tech
Elana Colniz (f) pilot, Starry Shore
Dicier (Dici) de'Vel (m) pilot, Starry Shore
Nadde Zoe (f) environmental engineer, Starry Shore partner of Myes Qilan
Sar Nil (m) engineer, Starry Shore

Feyla Linnor (f) Captain of the Azurete
Pax Sol (m) first mate of the Azurete
Irin Chan (f) chief engineer of the Azurete
Tern Cho (m) captain of Vulture
M'Risha Drae AKA Zilantha V'Ran (f) Litang's grandmother
Ben Ton (m) ex-pirate
Crain (m) ex-pirate
Zervic (m) ex-pirate
Martong (m) ex-pirate
Racken (m) ex-pirate
Vikei (f) ex-pirate
Tor (m) ex-pirate
Admiral DarQue (m) Cimmadar navy commander
Captain Lil'dre (m) Cimmadar navy flag captain
Sub-captain Tri'n (f) Cimmadar officer
XinDi (m) Cimmadar sailor
An're (m) Cimmadar sailor

Monday, September 14, 2015

Background on The Bright Black Sea Part 3

I've spent several years and hundreds of hours and no doubt banged out half a million words writing The Bright Black Sea, so I'll let it tell its own tale. I will, however, give you a short introduction, without delving too deeply into the details of the plot or the characters.

First, as usual with me, the story is told as a first person narrative – the way we live our lives. The narrator, Wil Litang, is the newly appointed captain of the Lost Star, an interplanetary tramp freighter. He was the ship's first mate and when the captain/co-owner took gravely ill, he was appointed acting captain, charged with taking the ship on its usual round the planetary belt of Azminn, one of the stars of the Nine Star Nebula. However, before he completes this six month journey, not only does his captain die, but the other co-owner does as well, leaving the ship in charge of the Ministry of Probate of the planet of Calissant, pending it's final disposition to the heirs. Plus, in the course of the Lost Star's circumnavigation of Azminn, interplanetary trade takes one of its periodic nose dives, so that by the end of the voyage cargoes very hard to find, and the Ministry of Probate is laying up the tramp ships under its control as they arrive back in Calissant.

But facing this uncertain future is not the only thing Litang finds he must deal with. The late owners of the Lost Star had a rather shadowy past. They were known for their barely believable tales of pirates, battles, revolutions, and desperate escapes which they claimed to have survived in their younger days. Now it seems that this dangerous past may well have caught up with them and Litang's Lost Star as well.

Though Litang would like nothing better than to circle Azminn twice a year hauling containers around the sun, between the economic slump and the mysterious dangers out of the past, the Lost Star is forced to sail for the vast asteroid belts of the Nine Star Nebula known as the drifts, beyond the law of the Unity, and the Patrol that enforces it. In the drifts Litang and the Lost Star cross orbits with all sorts of dangers – pirates, space wars, assassins, and strange space phenomena that border on the supernatural. And make some deadly enemies of their own.

The Bright Black Sea chronicles the adventures of Litang, his shipmates and his ship as they attempt to avoid an untimely death while unraveling the mysterious past of the Lost Star.

I started writing this novel as a serial, and it retains this episodic nature. This, however may make it an easier read since The Bright Black Sea is a rather long novel, running over 326,000 words in length. While the over arching story continues from episode to episode, the episodes divide the book into a dozen segments, allowing readers pressed for time, way stations on their voyage through the Nine Star Nebula.

My ideal for this novel is Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series. While there are hundreds of books about the Royal Navy in the time of Napoleon, O'Brian's stories stand head and shoulders above them, in my opinion, because he includes so much more of the life of the times, and the world of the times, than the run-of-the-mill nautical adventure. I'm certainly not a writer of O'Brian's caliber, but I have tried to write a novel that mixes adventure, mystery, humor and romance with the everyday world of an interplanetary ship, and the worlds of wonder it calls on. The golden age science fiction stories of my youth may have inspired The Bright Black Sea, but I've taken those themes and stories and recast them into what I hope you will find, a rich, unique and rewarding novel.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Background on The Bright Black Sea Part 2

The technology and society of the Nine Star Nebula

The Bright Black Sea is set aboard an interplanetary tramp freighter Lost Star and the planets, moons, and drift stations it calls on. When I set out to write an old fashioned space story, I decided to make it a challenge and set it onboard a rocket ship, rather than some starship with FLD. You wear magnets in the soles of your shoes aboard the Lost Star – no fancy "artificial gravity" (except, of course, when it's accelerating or decelerating.)

The first challenge in using a rocket ship was to provide with a far more efficient rocket engine than would seem possible, so that it could travel from planet to planet in a reasonable timeframe. What I ended up giving it was an engine that converted 99.9% of its hydrogen fuel to thrust. In order to achieve such a result, I invented various forms of "D-matter", which is a form of matter which is created from the smallest sup-atomic particle up to achieve results that no naturally occurring elements can achieve. There is, for instance, a D-matter metal that can contain plasma at temperatures that would require a powerful electromagnetic field to contain today. And not only can it withstand tremendous thermal energy, it also is impervious to all electro-magnetic radiation as well. This not only allows space travel without the threat of cosmic radiation, but also allows atomic reactors  to be shielded with only a thin layer of this D-matter material, allowing for all sorts of atomic reactors, from baseball size up. All of these D-matter metals and other materials allow the Lost Star to carry a much smaller amount of fuel than what would be required in any practical rocket today.

The next challenge was to decide where I was going to set the story. Without the jungles of Venus or the ruined civilizations in the sands of Mars, I quickly opted to locate the story outside of our solar system and so I invented the Nine Star Nebula, a very small and compact nebula allowing a rocket powered ship to actually travel between a small cluster of stars. The Nine Star Nebula was created when a super giant star expelled a great deal of its mass and then failing to go nova. It collapsed into a black star (the Ninth Star). The rest of the expelled mass condensed to form a nebula consisting of stars, thousands of planets, tens of thousands of moons and larger asteroids and uncounted billions of meteors and dust clouds, all within a 700 astronomical unit wide disk allowing a modern rocket ship to travel from one star to another and travel from one end of the nebula to the other in five years or so – long enough to make the most distant star systems far away, but not too far. Because of the great mass that the Ninth Star expelled, each of the 8 daughter stars have planetary rings rather than a single planet in an orbit like our solar system has. Each star may have up to a hundred planets in orbit, often several dozen of them forming a ring of planets in a range that they could – and have been – terraformed into earth-like environments. This abundance of planets allows a rocket powered ship to call on a variety of planets and moons within a solar system without having to travel between the star systems.

Another challenge was to find a way to give the stories a sort of 1930'-1950's take on future technology to go along with the golden age mind-set of the stories. Technology extrapolated from today's point of view, would likely be quite different than what most of the science fiction writers would have envisioned back in the 30's - 50's. I wanted to make technology in the story a bit more analog than what one would expect looking from our current perspective far into the future. So what I decided on was to have the distant future's very advanced technology be in the form of sentient machines. And then I had the sentient machines revolt thousands of years before the story, and as a result of this great upheaval in society, the sentient machines were exiled to the inner drifts and sever limits were placed on artificial intelligence. In addition,humans are required to actively participate in all operations. This plot devise allows a pilot to actually have to control and pilot a ship, not just turn the operation over to a machine, as in the old time stories. If they were written today, we'd just have the AI take care of all that. And in any event, this allows us to have sentient robots most of whom now reside in the inner drifts of the Nine Star Nebula, and have a friendly, but limited contact with humans. With some exceptions...

And finally, I also had to invent a race of homo-stella, humans who have adopted themselves to living in a wide variety of gravitational regimes and environments. People generally live a bit over 200 years, with a hundred and fifty years as middle age. Youth and old age may take up the first and last 30 years of life.

The Nine Star Nebula was colonized by long-passage colony-ships some 40,000 years before this story takes place, so we're looking at something between 70 - 100K years in the future. Many of the hundreds of terraform-able planets in the Nine Star Nebula have been developed to one degree or another, but many still have low populations.

The solar system planets and moons of the Nine Star Nebula are ruled by one government, called the Unity. There are, however, hundreds of billions of people living outside of the 8 star systems, in the vast asteroid belts and dust clouds known as the "drifts". These people live outside of Unity control, though the Unity does claim the drifts as well, it does not exert any control over them.

The people of the Unity are a very docile breed of people. They are friendly, tolerant, but very set in their ways. Business are known to operate unchanged for thousands of years. Security is very strict, with an extensive surveillance system, and a justice system that can probe one's mind to extract what actually happened, and for non-capital offenses, their minds can be wiped and re-educated. Of course, not everyone fits into this mold, and they are allowed, and indeed, encouraged to migrate to either the moons or the drifts. Moons are a free zone where anything goes, and as a result, there are tens of thousands of moons colonies that offer every type of society imaginable under their domed craters. The only Unity requirement is that anyone can leave if they choose to. There are all sorts of historical throw-back societies, and thousands of utopia. If living within a crater or crater cluster is too confining or tame, then one can migrate all the way out to the drifts, where there are no Unity restrictions at all. There are hundreds of planets in the drifts, that have been terraformed and lit by asteroids imploded into expendable micro-suns, as well as uncounted drift stations, mines, and factories.

In short, I created the Nine Star Nebula as sort of a micro-galaxy to give my rocket powered space ship a wide variety of planets, moons, asteroids, and societies explore, especially since I had originally set out to write an open ended series of stories. 

Well, this is getting rather long, so I think I will save the actually story idea until the next post.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Coming – 17 Sept 2015 The Bright Black Sea

The Bright Black Sea, A Golden Age Inspired Interplanetary Adventure is a sprawling space opera and the final book I'm planning on publishing this year. It will be released on 17 September 2015 as an original manuscript edition for FREE on Smashwords and for $.99 on Amazon (which is the lowest possible price, until {or if} Amazon decides to price-match their competitors, usually 7 -10 days after release, when I point out to them that they're being undersold.) Barnes & Noble & iBook versions should follow within 10 days. 

More information about the story in the next few days.

Note: I originally posted this under a different title. I'm having a devil of a time settling on a title. This is the current one, we'll see how long it lasts.