Lost Chapter #1 : Angel of Mailànkh – What Mr. Boyd Saw

This chapter was originally in Book 1 (Angel of Mailànkh), just after the point at which Karéin expresses an interest in helping Earth’s nuclear missile-barrage, to destroy the “Lucifer” comet.

Angel of Mailànkh – What Mr. Boyd Saw

A few minutes after the meeting in the mess-hall, Tanaka took Boyd aside, as he was heading towards the Infinity’s central core.

The alien-girl was nowhere in sight.

Brent,” requested the scientist, “You got a minute or two? There’s something I’d like to ask you.”

Sure,” Boyd replied, “I’m off to see if I can get a good fix on the comet from Eagle‘s high-res cameras… Sergei’s planning to record the ‘Big Bang’, as the Captain calls it, from Infinity, but I’m going to set up a backup recording from the other ship, just in case. What’s up?”

First of all, I’d like this to be off the record, if you don’t mind,” Tanaka said. “It’s about Karéin.”

Okay… I guess,” Boyd answered. “Something worrying you about her?”

No,” Tanaka responded, “The reason that I’m asking you to keep this confidential is, well, because it relates to things that only you and she would know, things that the two of you have shared, uniquely.”

Ah,” Boyd said, knowingly, “You mean, that time when we were kind of… joined, mentally. When she learned to speak English.”

Yes,” confirmed the scientist. “I don’t believe that I’d appreciate someone else revealing my thoughts to a third party, which is why I’d like to keep this just between the two of us.”

Go ahead,” Boyd answered. “I didn’t promise her that I would never do that, but all the same, I’ll have to exercise some discretion here, I guess.”

Alright,” said Tanaka. “What I’d like to know, Brent, is… you know when she said she wanted to go after ‘Lucifer’, along with the Earth missile-barrage? That kind of got me to thinking, especially after her little side-trip outside the ship, a few days ago; the point is, except for – possibly – yourself, none of us really have any idea of what she can, and cannot, do, how strong she is, how strong she might become. We have all seen how she uses this Amaiish-stuff…”

Tanaka’s voice trailed off momentarily, as she thought, And I know of that, better than any of you, but quickly, she continued, “…On a small scale, but when she makes a proposal like she just did, we don’t have any objective way to tell if she’s serious, or if she’s bluffing for some reason that we can’t fathom. It puts Sam in a very difficult position, because I know he’d like to let her help us – how’s he to know whether a plan like the one she just came up with, is possible for her? But you – you looked into her mind, you experienced her memories… right? If anyone knows her, it’d have to be you. Anything you can say, about this?”

Boyd glanced down at his feet, then shot a quick glance at Tanaka, before looking away. Then he offered, “Whew – that’s a hard one, Professor. Not only because I’m not sure what, exactly, you’re asking me to report about, but because… well, it’s kind of hard to explain, I guess the way that I’d describe it, to the extent that anyone could, is that I did see some of her memories, yes, that’s true… but – and I don’t really know how I know this – there was a lot more that she was holding back from me, deliberately, I think. So I only got a partial picture, basically.”

He thought a bit more, then remarked, “And it was very confusing, Professor, in a way which I can’t adequately explain… here’s my best try, though. Think of your own memories, something that happened when you were a little girl. Try to remember exactly how it felt, how strong you were, how fast you could run at the track and field meet, or whatever. If you even can think back that far, that is.”

Now try to imagine a memory that might have been from thousands of years ago, when Karéin was – in all likelihood – a physically, mentally and emotionally different being from what she is today, on a different planet, with different powers, probably with a different psyche compared to what we have on the ship now,” he elaborated. “I just experienced a jumble of images, sounds, feelings, like this… I couldn’t tell what order they were in, either – like, we’re assuming that just as a human grows from weaker as a child to stronger as an adult, Karéin has progressed in the same way, but I’m not sure that’s a completely safe assumption. Maybe she doesn’t always get stronger; maybe she sometimes just stays relatively weak. Some of her memories were full of fear, of inadequacy, or, at least, that’s how I interpreted them. None of this is for sure. As the saying goes, ‘maybe it was only a dream’”.

Yeah, I suppose you have a point there,” Tanaka acknowledged. “But let’s take one memory, as a concrete example, because it’s relevant to what we were discussing a few minutes ago. Am I correct in assuming that you experienced one of her memories, one in which she somehow survived a nuclear explosion? Can you tell me anything about that?”

There’s not much to tell,” Boyd replied. “As I saw it – through her eyes, or, at least, the eyes of the being that she was, at the time – she was wandering through the outskirts of some city; it wasn’t on Earth, that’s for sure, the buildings were weird-looking, no sharp edges to them at all, and the colors of the vegetation were all wrong – a lot of yellows and reds – not a lot of green. All of a sudden, there was this fantastically bright light, high in the sky ahead of her, and she fell to the ground, flat on her face. Of course, that’s the sensible thing to do, here, too, if somebody sets off a bomb anywhere near you. But now, here’s the weird part… it’s very hard to describe, because I was experiencing, remembering, something that people like us could never do, and live to tell about it… think of how she uses her words for ultraviolet and infrared, ‘color to a blind man’ that kind of thing, that’s the idea.”

Go on,” Tanaka asked. “If nothing else, you’ve sure got me interested.”

Boyd chuckled a bit, then continued, “Like I said, it’s something that English doesn’t have words for, but, basically, for a split second, she hurt, ‘agony’ wouldn’t be too strong a word for it – man, I tell you, I felt that, myself… not something that I like remembering, believe me. But then the same heat that was burning her alive, not a second before, started to feel good, the nearest I could come to describing it is like how you feel warming yourself in front of a nice fireplace in the winter, or maybe how it feels after you have a good-sized shot of brandy or cognac, minus the hangover, of course. What’s totally strange, is that even though this felt great, I – she – was still very definitely aware of how much energy was coming at her, how hot it was… like holding on to a red-hot poker and feeling the warmth from it, but not the pain. Or maybe, grounding yourself to house-current and just getting a pleasant buzz, while the light bulb in your hand glows brightly. I won’t pretend to be able to describe it, to someone who hasn’t felt it. But that’s her, that’s what she’s all about, Professor.”

Fascinating,” agreed Tanaka. “But all it really proves, is that she has – at least once, however far in the past – endured what we’d have to assume, is a single nuclear explosion, at some distance. How she gets from that, to proposing flying right into the middle of hundreds of such bombs, I don’t understand. This was what I was getting at, when first I asked you to speak with me, Brent. Did she have any other memories that might help us gage, even roughly, the true, eventual extent of her powers? Anything at all?”

Before Boyd could reply, Tanaka hastily added, “I don’t suppose it needs to be said, because I consider Karéin my friend and I don’t like talking behind her back – but I wouldn’t be pressing you like this, except that the fate of all of Earth might rest on knowing what she can, and can’t, accomplish.”

Boyd now answered, “I hate to disappoint you, Professor, but the short answer is, ‘no’, unfortunately. I recall a couple of images of battles that she participated in – I don’t know how I know this, but I think they refer to really ancient times, far before now – where she acted like a superhero, you know, stuff like laser-beams fired from her eyes, force-fields… the usual. There were also a few of these memories that were so… ‘dark’, that’s the only way I can describe it, that either her mind, or mine, or both of them, just shut them down, I couldn’t feel anything except this unbelievable pall of fear, like the worst nightmare you’ve ever had, only worse… the upshot of all of it is, I doubt that any of the things she was able to do there, would influence events on a planetary scale. Which is not to say that she can’t – just to say, if she can, I can’t swear to it. Sorry, but that’s about it… after all, we were only ‘together’ for a very short time. It was a lot to learn and retain, in a little while.”

I see,” offered Tanaka. “Disappointing… wouldn’t you say?”

I don’t know how to take that, Cherie,” Boyd responded, evenly. “She is what she is, no more, no less. Just like us.”

No, not like us, Tanaka thought.

We can be more. Like I am, now.

If we get through this, I’ll show you.

But the Storied Watcher’s admonitions of modesty suddenly came back to the Professor, so she said, “Yeah – you’re probably right, Brent. Thanks for the information. That’s all I needed to know. But if anything comes back to you, can I ask for you to tell me? I promise I won’t inform anyone else… especially, her.”

I don’t think that will be a problem,” Boyd said. “But now that we’re here, Professor – mind if I ask you something? Also off the record.”

He suspects, worried the scientist.

But she said, “Sure, Brent. No secrets here.”

Tanaka hoped he wasn’t good at detecting lies.

Well,” he mentioned, “I was thinking about something Symington said, in his last little speech. About her not being able to help us, that is. It might just be the stupidity of the brass – I don’t think I have to elaborate on that – but struck me as odd, that he’d write her contributions off, in the way he did. That is, if he knew what she was really capable of.”

I don’t follow you,” answered the scientist. “The General said that they’re completely tied up with the grubby business of trying to save the human race, that they don’t have a lot of time to chat with an alien about life, the universe and everything. I might or might not agree with them… but I can certainly understand why they’re doing things that way.”

The bottom line, Cherie,” countered Boyd, “Is, just how completely have you and the Captain informed Houston of her characteristics and abilities? Like, the laser-beam eyes, the flying in outer space stuff, that kind of thing. I mean – just to take the Arks project as one example – even if she couldn’t stop the comet, from my point of view, it seems well within the realm of possibility that she might be able to save some of the less capable Earth ships, just by pulling them away from Earth when ‘Lucifer’ gets near. I find it hard to believe that they’d have told her ‘just change ships when we tell you and have a nice day’, if they were fully aware of the real extent of her powers. Tell me, Professor… does that sound plausible to you?”

Avoiding his stare, Tanaka said, “I can only speak for myself, Brent, but… well, I’ll be honest with you, as long as we both understand that this really is off the record.”

Understood,” the astronaut replied.

The truth is, while I have told Houston all I know about her background, her history, et cetera – after all, it would be a crime against science not to do that, in case something happens to us or to her – I have been… how would I say this… conservative in giving them these other details,” said the scientist. “Yes – I’ll admit to not telling the full story. I think that’s true of Sam, too, but I’m not completely sure. You’d have to ask him yourself.”

Smiling knowingly, Boyd commented, “We both know I’m not going to do that, Professor – none of my business. But mind if I ask… why?”

You mean why I’ve held back telling them about her powers?” she asked, disingenuously.

Yeah,” he pressed.

It’s like this, Brent,” Tanaka explained. “It’s not one reason, it’s a lot of them. First, you and I both know that her powers have been evolving in ways that we can’t comprehend; we have no yardstick with which to measure them, but, if we even hinted to Houston at what she may be able to do, I’m terribly afraid that they’d basically order her to take a run at the comet, whether or not there was any real chance of her succeeding, or surviving. She’s our friend, Brent; I can’t justify ordering a friend to commit suicide over a lost cause, and neither can Sam, you just heard that for yourself.”

Even if the fate of our entire planet might turn on whether she can, or she can’t?” Boyd retorted. “I’m closer to her than anyone here, at least that’s how I see it, and I know exactly how you feel about not wanting to see her hurt, but are you willing to see everyone on Earth die, because we don’t want her to take a chance? And about her abilities, well, a few days ago she was claiming to have flown across interstellar space. I’m less of a physicist that you are, Professor, but from what I remember of Einstein’s theories, doing that in less than thousands of years implies a big power source. Big enough, surely, to pop a comet or two.”

Tanaka looked at him accusingly and said, “Originally, I too thought she would be more than able to stop the comet – because she said so, after all – I would have gone along with the idea, but then, later, she backtracked, or that’s how it sounded to me. She says she’s very weak now… maybe that explains why she could do things in the past that she can’t do now. I have no idea what motivates her to say and do the things she says and does – she’s an alien, hundreds of thousands of years old, for God’s sake, how are any of us supposed to really understand her – but based on the available evidence, which is all I have to go on, I don’t think she’s capable of doing anything about ‘Lucifer’, except maybe killing herself by attacking it. Maybe that’s what she wants, to atone for this other civilization she keeps talking about, you know, the one she feels guilty about not saving. If that story, or any of her stories, is even true.”

She continued, “One way or another, right now, I fully agree with Sam – it would be a senseless waste to order her, or to allow her, to attack the comet. And Brent, I don’t suppose you’ve considered the other way in which she might help us?”

By teaching us about alternate worlds that we’ll never reach, about wizards and warlocks, while we slowly run out of oxygen trapped in some sinking ship of a spacecraft, looking down on a dead Earth, Professor?” he shot back. “Was that what you had in mind?”

Sort of,” Tanaka replied, trying not to take the bait. “What if she can’t save Earth, but can help us recover from the disaster, help us rebuild? What if that’s the role she’s meant to play? If we let her kill herself in some suicidal mission against the comet – or if we reveal enough about her to Houston, to give them the idea of doing that – we’ll be throwing away the irreplaceable future assistance that she might be able to give us, when we most need it. As well as sacrificing a friend. One that all of us have come to be very attached to.”

Bully for us,” Boyd said, looking at his feet.

Brent,” Tanaka asked, worriedly, “You aren’t thinking of informing Houston yourself… are you? We had agreed that this conversation was going to be confidential.”

I have to be honest, Professor,” he admitted, “Yes – I was very much considering doing that. A higher duty to our planet, our whole species, as it were. But I won’t… at least for now. I’ve never been crazy about the chain of command, personally; but at the end of the day, it’s up to the Captain – not me, Sergei or Devon – to decide what does, and doesn’t, get disclosed to the powers that be down there. I have to assume that he has made his decisions, in that regard, as best he can. That’ll have to be good enough for me.”

Thanks,” Tanaka said, relieved. “I knew I could count on you, Brent.”

Don’t,” Boyd replied, as he turned from her. “Right now, there’s still room in the lifeboat. But who knows what we’ll all do, when the water gets above our ankles.”

He headed off to the other ship.

Web-Only Content : Introducing… The “Lost Chapters”

The Angel Brings Fire – The “Lost Chapters”

As anyone who has ever written anything that has been published will no doubt attest, it’s never possible to include everything that one has written, in any manuscript. Editing a source manuscript is never a “fun business”; and inevitably, a lot of prose that the writer would have preferred to have left in… gets cut out. (Incidentally – one of the biggest such constraints, in the case of The Angel Brings Fire, is simply the maximum number of pages that can be safely included in a single volume of the paperback versions of the book. This generally limits the narrative to no more than about 450 pages at most.)

During the editing and re-writing process, when it’s known that a particular section of a manuscript is going to be excised, it’s the responsibility of the author (yours truly) to ensure that this doesn’t create “loose ends” to the narrative or plot – that is, something that was adequately-explained when the “deleted” section was still in there, but isn’t, after the “deleted” section is finally gone. I believe that an adequate job has been done of this to date, but from time to time I’ve had readers ask me variations of the question, “hey, wait a minute… how does ‘Character X’ know ‘information Y’ about ‘issue Z’?”.

This is never an enjoyable thing for an author to hear, if for no reason other than one then goes off in a bout of self-second-guessing, asking oneself, “oh sh** – I just knew that I shouldn’t have cut out that section… and now, my readers are telling me that I was right all along!” (Of course, the same could be and likely would be said of any section of the original manuscript, that didn’t survive the trip to the proverbial cutting-room floor.)

In the halcyon “old days” of publishing, there would be no solution to this problem, but with the Internet, we now have an escape-clause… and that’s what I’m introducing with this blog-posting.

Starting today, I’ll be publishing some of the sections that had been cut out of the original Angel Brings Fire manuscript(s), beginning with the first volume of the series (Angel of Mailànkh) and continuing sequentially, until most or all of the excised material has been made available. The only significant exception to this will be narrative that was cut for reasons other than brevity – that is, if the content in question was removed because it (for example) explored plot-options that were dropped for one reason or another, then obviously there’s no point in providing it.

As should also be self-evident, readers should be warned of a Spoiler Alert in all these chapters – you should always read the “official” version of the volume involved, first, before heading to the Web and perusing one of these “Lost Chapters”.

None the less… I hope what’s to come, will help you answer whatever questions that you may have had, about the mysterious and powerful Storied Watcher!

Marcus Shields

Author, The Angel Brings Fire

The Angel Brings Fire Is… Published!

After far too many months (okay… “years”) of effort, I’m pleased to be able to finally make the long-awaited announcement :

The Angel Brings Fire… is now published!

The Second Edition series (the definitive, final versions) of this book consist of :

Book 1 : Angel of Mailànkh

Book 2 : Doubt Me Not

Book 3 : Angel and The Empire

Book 4 : Children of The Fire

The Angel Brings Fire is currently available only on Amazon as a Kindle e-Book, but availability in .EPUB, .PDF and paperback formats will follow shortly (no later than end of 1Q 2015).

Work will now resume on the equally long-awaited sequel to The Angel Brings Fire… namely, The Future Burns Bright. Look for announcements about the sequel series right here… “Real Soon Now”!

Sincerely,

Marcus Shields

Author, The Angel Brings Fire and The Future Burns Bright

Revised Publication Schedule And Format (April 2014)

Here is an important second update on the finale of The Angel Brings Fire series of books.

As some of you know, it had been my intention to complete the series by the end of 2013.

Unfortunately, circumstances have conspired to make this impossible; I have run into a number of personal crises, particularly a major power failure in the Greater Toronto Area during the 2013 Christmas holiday season, plus various home repair and job issues which required my immediate attention, plus a host of other travails severe and mundane, that will likely push the publication of the final book(s) of The Angel Brings Fire, into 2014.

The other change has to do with the format of the series, and as you read what follows, please keep in mind that this change is purely and simply due to page count restrictions having to do with the printed (paperback) versions of the books – if The Angel Brings Fire was being published exclusively as an e-Book series, the situation would be much different.

The Angel Brings Fire series will end at Book #4, entitled (new!) Children of The Fire.

The Future Burns Bright will now be a second series of novels (2 to 3 books, each with an individual name), explaining what happens after the end of The Angel Brings Fire.

The total page count of the entire series will not be significantly more than it always would have been; I’m only doing this to have an appropriate narrative end-point at the end of each series, along with trying to fit each individual book’s page-count into something that my publishers can actually print.

So, the complete series will be :

The Angel Brings Fire

ABF Book #1 : Angel of Mailànkh (unchanged except new cover art).

ABF Book #2 : Doubt Me Not (unchanged except new cover art).

ABF Book #3 : Angel and The Empire (unchanged).

ABF Book #4 : Children of The Fire (Editorial work is complete on this book; it will be published shortly.)

The Future Burns Bright

FBB Book #1 : Title T.B.A. (Editorial work is complete on this book.)

FBB Book #2 : Title T.B.A. (as of now, about 90% complete.)

FBB Book #3 : Title T.B.A.

Please let me take this opportunity to thank all of my readers for your patience, in dealing with this revised schedule and layout. Within the limits of having to price the printed versions of the book so that I don’t sell them at a loss, I’ll try to keep the price of the extra volumes as low as possible, to accommodate those of you who were expecting a shorter series.

The main consideration in my mind has always been for The Angel Brings Fire and The Future Burns Bright to be the exciting and compelling stories that I have had in my head since my childhood days; I will settle for nothing less, and neither should you.

Marcus Shields

Author, The Angel Brings Fire and The Future Burns Bright

War-Songs

As those of you who have read the later books in the Angel Brings Fire series will be well-aware, one (hopefully) unique characteristic of those who inherit access to Amaiish (a.k.a. “The Fire“), is the presence of a “war-song”, (or Métschaì’l – MAYT-sha-AYE-el in the Storied Watcher’s own language) – a unique, semi-subconscious melody which sometimes plays in the background, “from everywhere and nowhere” – when one of the “New People” energizes his or her particular alien-power(s).

Not all of the Storied Watcher’s followers have a war-song (even some who have reasonably potent alien-powers don’t have one), and the precise melody experienced by those in the immediate vicinity of a given character who does have a war-song, can vary from time to time. Also, a war-song can be purely ethereal – that is, it “plays” only in the minds of its beholders – at one time, but then manifest itself in conventional (sometimes, very loud and long-ranged) sound-waves, at another time. Nobody really knows why this is, and even Karéin-Mayréij herself is somewhat at a loss to fully explain or control it.

With the above in mind, some readers have asked me, “well, what, exactly, does a ‘war-song’ sound like?”

The answer is simple : “it sounds like, whatever you think it sounds like”.

That having been said, if people want to know what kinds of tunes were going through my mind at the time when I wrote The Angel Brings Fire, I can tell you what my conception is of the war-songs used by some of the major characters… please note, this is obviously not a definitive list, and is not meant to over-rule you own imagination of what these (mostly) subtle, background-hymns would sound like, if encountered up close.

Note : Trademarks and copyrights to all songs belong to their respective owners and are only reproduced here for informative purposes.

Karéin-Mayréij : The Storied Watcher, as you might imagine, has a wide variety of these war-songs, which vary according to which combination of powers that she happens to be using.

However, I always imagined [SPOILER ALERT!] the scene when she explodes through the underground ceiling in the bottom of the R.B. Cheney Detention Facility, as being set to the exciting, rapid-paced tune of Song Seven, by Interpol or perhaps the first part of Livin’ On A Prayer by Bon Jovi (up to about 0:45 into the song), although at other times, her appearance is accompanied by a stirring, exciting blast of music akin to what’s heard at about the 2:48 mark of Heading For Nowhere by Jets Overhead or in What I’ve Done by Linkin Park (first 0:23 of the song).

And for those of you who remember Book 2 (Doubt Me Not), the ethereal song playing in Bob Billings’ car, while “Sari” pours out her heart to her new-found friends and the shocked humans begin to realize who’s in the back seat, is When Tomorrow Comes, by The Shore.

The Storied Watcher’s death-run against the “Lucifer” comet sounded (as is mentioned in Angel of Mailànkh) like a kind of godly improvement on the last few bars of the iconic Stairway To Heaven, by Led Zeppelin.

Karéin’s “oo-oo-oo” wail, which frequently accompanies her appearance at the scene of a battle, sounds like the equivalent, eerie wail done by Loreena McKennitt, in her great Celtic masterpiece, The Mummer’s Dance.

A few “war-songs” are “common” to all of the Storied Watcher’s “major” disciples; these empower all of the “more-than-humans” within earshot, when they are about to collectively embark on a major voyage, task, battle or quest. These “shared” war-songs typically have the electric, fast-paced beat found in Iridescent by Linkin Park (riff starting at 2:43) and in Frost by Vertical Horizon (riff starting at 3:39).

Tommy Singing-Bird George : Like his adopted mother, Tommy has a variety of war-songs, but the most common one (which you really don’t want to hear, especially if he’s aiming in your direction at the time) sounds somewhat similar to Bryan Adams’ immortal guitar chords at 2:35 into Run To You. His more “standard” war-song is reminiscent of the first few bars of New Divide, by Linkin Park.

Cherie Tanaka : Underneath by Alanis Morissette (the riff that starts at about 3:05 into the song). Her war-wail “oo-ai-oo” sounds like a combination of what you hear on Underneath and the similar sound at the 1:09 mark of Geraldine by Glasvegas (and keep in mind, when “The First Of The Fire” – as is the case with her angelic mentor – fully empowers herself, the effect is overwhelming; Tanaka’s war-song reverberates everywhere and leaves no doubt as to who’s on the way!

Sam Jacobson : 9th Life by Papa Roach; the song nicely captures Jacobson’s unstoppable, hard-charging, indestructible motif.

Brent Boyd : Broken Over You by Vertical Horizon, starting at about the 28-second mark.

Devon White : This one was difficult to decide, because there’s no popular song (at least not one with which I’m familiar) that is a close match for his dignified, inspirational, yet fast-paced and exciting, war-song. That said, let’s go with an admixture (if that’s possible) of parts of Quiet As A Mouse by Margot And The Nuclear So & So’s (at 0:17 into the song) and Harbour Lights by A Silent Film, starting at about 2:25.

Sergei Chkalov : Who knows? All I can say is, “if you heard Sergei’s war-song, you’d think it second only to perhaps Tanaka’s.”  Update : I now know what the redoubtable Mr. Chkalov’s war-song is; it’s Spokoynaya Noch’ by that greatest of Russian rock bands, Kino. Listen especially for the mind-blowing guitar at about 3:32 and you’ll know what it sounds like when Sergei lights up his personal Fire!

Minnie Chu : Another Way In by the Rosebuds, especially the riff starting at about the 0:40 time position. (When Ms. Chu fires her rather wicked stare, the accompanying sound is Jimi Hendrix’ famous, never-duplicated guitar wail at about 2:00 into All Along The Watchtower.)

Sylvia Abruzzio : Back-beat from Change The Sheets, by Kathleen Edwards, especially the part at about 1:58 into the song. This one is probably the best example of all, regarding how a war-song works; imagine the pace of the ephemeral, exciting, stirring electro-rock back-beat picking up, as Sylvia powers up her abilities, in similar manner to how it goes in this great tune.

Will Hendricks : My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark, by Fall Out Boy, especially the very first part of the song “bam wham thank you Ma’am”…

Misha (a.k.a. Mikhail Grishin) : This is a pretty hard one because I don’t have access to a lot of good, contemporary Russian rock music. So I’ll go with Hear Me by Imagine Dragons (the one from the Answers To Nothing soundtrack, not the inferior radio version!)

Wolf (a.k.a. Darryl D. Bennington) : Did you even have to askHell’s Bells by AC/DC, and also Fire Woman by The Cult (move that pointer to 0:40 and turn the volume to “11”).  😉

Otis Boatman : Forever by Papa Roach, starting at about the 0:52-second mark.

Hector Ramirez : Another one that was hard to decide upon exactly due to the lack of a good match; but let’s pick The Harbour by Leaves, starting at about 35 seconds into the song.

Jerry Kaysten : Calgary by Bon Iver, but only the short part beginning at the song’s 1:50 mark; this melody predominates when Jerry uses his “killer joke” ability. When running at high speed, his war-song sounds more like Time Turns Around by the Spoons.

Sebastiàn : Try to imagine a version of Cold Seed by Tiamat (starting at approximately 42 seconds into the song), but with a Latino beat, and that’s what this sinister and very potent “new human’s” war-song sounds like. His war-song also has (duh!) some elements of Poison by Shiny Toy Guns.

Bob Billings : There’s nothing in my music collection that’s exactly like the former salesman’s angry, ominous war-song, but the closest equivalent is Fine Again by Seether, starting at about the 1:00 mark in the song, or perhaps the riff in Narc by Interpol, found at the 0:57 mark. (It should be noted that Billings doesn’t really like using all of these “weirdo” alien-powers, so his war-song isn’t very often heard… but if you do hear it… time to get out of the way!)

Whitney Claremont : It’s not an exact match, but Healing Begins by Tenth Avenue North, is pretty close. (Off-topic note : Finally, a Christian-rock group that’s able and willing to write and perform good music, as opposed to beating you over the head with “inspirational” lyrics. Maybe there is a God?) Whitney’s war-song also (when she is pushing her powers to the limit) sounds a lot like Afer Ventus by Enya.

Melissa Claremont : Another one that’s not right on the mark but let’s go with Silenced By The Night by Keane.

Curtis Claremont : Fortunately for the eardrums of the other “more-than-humans”, young master Claremont doesn’t get to use his primary alien-power very much within the scope of the Angel Brings Fire series. However, I’ve always thought that if he could, you’d hear something sort of like some bars from Sometimes by Ours, at about the 2:44 mark.

Donny Wade : A fairly easy one… Hey Now by Augustana, especially the great slide guitar found at about 2:35 in that song, but also with elements found in The Struggle by Grizfolk.

Saquina White : The riff of Evermore by Vertical Horizon, starting at the 1:31 mark.

As noted above, these are my conceptions of what the war-songs of the major characters from the Angel Brings Fire series sound like; but they needn’t be yours. Think of any kind of music that’s (a) exciting with a good beat and (b) you like to hear, and play that in the background as you read The Angel Brings Fire!

Marcus Shields

Author, The Angel Brings Fire

The Future Burns Bright : Status Report (September 2013)

As it has been a while since the last blog posting, I thought I should update those interested, in the status of work on The Future Burns Bright (The Angel Brings Fire, Book 4).

The book was originally scheduled for release at the end of summer 2013 (and this was always do-able); however, I have run into certain production delays (outside of my direct control), having to do with the look and feel of it, that have led me to believe that the preferable thing to do, would be to delay release of the fourth and final book of the series until early 2014.

Editorial work on The Future Burns Bright (volume 2) is about 85% done (the plot is complete and how the series will end, is known; I just have to put pen to paper as it were) and should be completed before the end of this year. Without giving away too much… I’ll just say, “I hope all of you like ‘action’… because you’ll get loads of it, in this last part of The Angel Brings Fire!”

I’m also considering a separate “Epilog” volume which would describe what happens to some of the main characters, past the end of the formal narrative of The Angel Brings Fire. I might also do this as a fully Web-based “freebie” that could be read, and updated, on this blog, or on the official ABF Book Website (the two options are not mutually exclusive, of course). Please ping me by e-mail if you think this would be a good idea and if so, which option you would prefer.

As always, if you’re willing to write a review and can meet certain other qualifications, I can make a pre-release .pdf / .mobi copy available to interested parties. Please fire off an e-mail to inquiries@abfbook.telostic.com, should you be want more information.

Marcus Shields

Author, The Angel Brings Fire

The Future Burns Bright (Volume 1)… Done!

As has previously been noted on this blog, the fourth and final book of The Angel Brings Fire — namely, The Future Burns Bright — will consist of two (2) separate volumes.

I know this may seem rather counter-intuitive to some readers (e.g. “why didn’t you just call it ‘Books #4 and #5?”), but The Future Burns Bright really is a single story (you’ll just have to take my word for this). But actually, the main reason for the two-volume format is, for the paperback version of the book, the various POD publishers impose certain upper limits in terms of “maximum page count”… there was simply no way in which to properly finish the story, within the artificial limits that would have been required to fit it into a single book.

(Note : Obviously, these limits don’t apply to an e-Book; but to have done The Future Burns Bright exclusively as an e-Book, would have created an entirely different set of problems… like, “people who bought the paperback versions of the first 3 books and who don’t have an e-Reader, are “SOL”… “let’s not go there, eh”.)

In any event, I’m pleased to report that all editorial and narrative work is now complete on Volume 1 of The Future Burns Bright; it exists as a .PDF with preliminary cover art (I’m waiting for the “final” cover art to get done).

I’d ask fans of The Angel Brings Fire to be patient, as The Future Burns Bright will be available in its entirety, in the late summer of 2013… but if you just can’t wait, send me an e-mail and I’ll try to get you a preview (in .PDF, .MOBI or .EPUB e-Book formats, only) copy.

And as a “teaser”… read on, to see the back-cover synopsis of the book!

The Angel Brings Fire
Book 4 (Volume 1) : The Future Burns Bright, Volume 1

The “Storied Watcher”, a.k.a. Karéin-Mayréij, is living up to her name : at war with the U.S. police state of 2040, she’s just paid a visit to the White House, that nobody will ever forget. But she’s not the only disaster with which the President must contend… nuclear terrorists are almost ready to set off an H-Bomb, somewhere in America.

While a FBI team tries frantically to placate the alien-girl, treachery abounds : the government plans to rid itself of her, by murdering those she loves, many of whom have been “renditioned” to a nightmarish, secret Alaskan prison.

But the friends of Karéin-Mayréij now have alien-powers of their own… and they’re in a desperate battle to stay alive, while the Storied Watcher recruits an army… one that the President (to say the least) isn’t prepared for.

Unfortunately, time’s running out… both for millions of helpless Americans, and for the family of a certain “Destroying Angel”.

It’s only a few minutes, to a bright-burning dawn…

Marcus Shields

Author, The Angel Brings Fire

Characters from Angel and The Empire

Following on a post of the same nature related to the character list from Doubt Me Not, here are some more popular-culture similes of the characters in the third book of the Angel Brings Fire series. (Note : Obviously, quite a few of the characters from the first two books are also in Angel and The Empire, and with one minor and one rather <ahem> “important” exception, I’m not going to re-portray these; what’s depicted below, except for the Storied Watcher, represents the “net new” characters from Angel and The Empire.)

First off, since the post that originally described the book’s characters, I’ve stumbled across a better “prototype” for Karéin-Mayréij, a.k.a. the Storied Watcher. This is the former Google chief architect and (as of when this is being written) the new CEO of Yahoo, namely, Marissa Mayer. She’s almost a perfect “fit” for Karéin… if her hair was done a bit differently and she had, err, somewhat longer incisors, she’d be bang-on. You’ll see what I mean by looking at this picture and this one.

The next “new” major character in Angel and The Empire, Jerry Kaysten (who is the President’s Chief of Staff… he’s actually in Doubt Me Not, but not in as important a role), has been a hard one to find a prototype for. However, if you can imagine a slightly older Jack McBrayer from 30 Rock, with thinning hair, you’ll get the idea… and the redoubtable Mr. McBrayer certainly has perfectly captured Jerry Kaysten’s eager-beaver, “anything-to-please-the-Boss”, style.

As those of you who have read it (teaser alert!) will be aware, during the course of Angel and The Empire, the Storied Watcher manages to “recruit” a number of new followers. Two of these – “Wolf” (a Tucson-area bounty-hunter) and Mikhail Grishin, a.k.a. “Misha” (a Russian deep-cover spy) – are similar to the wrestler William “Christian” Reso and this (anonymous?) Russian Spetsnaz model, respectively. (Note : “Misha” is slightly older than the guy depicted in the latter picture.)

Incidentally, I have also found an even better prototype for Minnie Chu : namely, the famous “Lady Whirlwind” of the Hong Kong martial arts film industry, the redoubtable Angela Mao Ying. Angela (in her younger days) is an almost perfect image of the FBI team leader.

Marcus Shields

Author, The Angel Brings Fire

Guest posting and commentary policy

So, here goes another one of those announcements that, in anything like an ideal world, one should never have to publish… but which, given all the sleazeball cyber-criminals and fast-buck-artists who infest the Web, is sadly necessary.

As you may have noticed if you have tried to add a guest post to The Angel Brings Fire blog, all such comments are “moderated”; that is, before the posting will actually appear, it must be reviewed and approved by myself.

Why?

Well, rest assured that this has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not I agree with your point of view, or if I like what you’re saying about me (go ahead, I have the proverbial thick skin), or if your comments are — up to a point — even particularly relevant to the core purpose of the blog (which is, obviously, about The Angel Brings Fire series of science fiction novels).

The reason why I (as well as 99% of other, “responsible” bloggers) have to impose this policy is because of the fact that about 99% of the “comments” that are presented for my approval, are sent in by spammers, cyber-criminals and malware purveyors, who are, I suppose, figuring that I’ll slip up and let them infest my blog with this kind of garbage, which not only would clutter the blog with all sorts of completely off-topic junk, but which would also represent a risk to the safety of my legitimate readers and posters.

Typically, these types of spam postings involve URLs (hyperlinks) that connect to “discount pharmaceutical” and “male performance enhancement” scams, but, more seriously, many of these sites also serve up what in the IT security community, we term “drive-by download” malware… that is, a virus that infects your PC, if you even visit such a site. Unfortunately, the Web is crawling with criminals who leverage this tactic, in the hope of planting a virus on a victim’s computer, and then using this malicious software to do things like stealing the victim’s credit card or banking information, launching denial-of-service attacks or using the PC as a launching pad for “hacking” elsewhere on the Internet (and when the intrusion gets detected, guess whose IP address gets flagged and raided by the police… right, the victim’s, not the criminal’s… cute little trick, eh?).

I refuse to become a passive accomplice in criminal activities of this type… hence, why I review each and every third party message that is proposed for inclusion in The Angel Brings Fire blog.

And thus, I have a special message for the next bunch of cyber-criminals, thieves and other similar a**holes who figure it would be a good idea to “enlist” my blog, into their little get-rich-quick fraud-and-malware empires :

It won’t work, so don’t waste your time.

Marcus Shields

Author, The Angel Brings Fire

Angel and The Empire is available!

I’m pleased to announce that The Angel Brings Fire, Book #3, a.k.a. Angel and The Empire, has now been published in all formats… including “conventional paperback” which typically takes the longest.

The URL for the paperback version, on Amazon, is :

http://www.amazon.com/Angel-The-Empire-Brings-Volume/dp/0986915866/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1337530175&sr=8-8

The URL for Angel and The Empire, on the main Angel Brings Fire Website, is :

http://abfbook.telostic.com/Book_3/ABF_Book_3.html

This go-around in the publishing process (compared to what was encountered in the first two books) has been unusually challenging, due partly to the last-minute discovery of many minor “typos”, but mainly because of problems encountered with the printed Createspace proof; to make a long story short, despite the fact that exactly the same OpenOffice template was used to format all three books, when the proof for Angel and The Empire was received, to our dismay, what was supposed to have been 10 point font looked like it had been mysteriously reduced to 8!

Subsequent research (and frantic complaints to Createspace…) confirmed (at least this is what I think it means), that printed copies of the “real”, “final” version will be in the larger, appropriate typeface… just another example of what one deals with, in the world of PODspace…

For those of you who are already familiar with The Angel Brings Fire series of novels, you’ll notice two things that are different about this book, compared to Angel of Mailànkh and Doubt Me Not : (a) the cover art is significantly better than had previously been the case (although… it is due to be “improved” for the earlier two books as well, in subsequent editions); and, plot-wise, (b) our heroine, is, well… let’s just say that she’s in a really bad mood about what’s recently befallen her, and, unlike the situation in Doubt Me Not, she’s now in a position to do something about it!

Incidentally, there is a political narrative embedded in all of this, that should be apparent to anyone who is familiar with current events. I’d be curious to see how many of you can correctly guess what it is.

Finally, I hope that you all like the book! Whether or not you do, comments and critiques are always welcome, so if you have something to say, please don’t hesitate to do so, by entering a guest post on this blog.

Marcus Shields

Author, The Angel Brings Fire