Saturday, September 15, 2012

Outside of Space by Timothy Burns: Guest Post, Interview, Excerpt

In the depths of interstellar space, the ancient mile-long starship Zaspar's Pride encounters a massive and enigmatic alien artifact. What could have constructed an object larger than the average star, and more importantly, why?
 Tobar Rus, the technician whose blunder causes the Pride to become stranded far beyond any hope of rescue, must find out if he and his crew-mates are ever to leave.

In the course this investigation Rus becomes himself trapped inside the unnatural object. There he finds a pocket dimension that contains a star and a single planet. On this world live the descendants of a human crew that had become trapped inside there several thousand years ago. Within this artificial dimension magic is possible and the humans have built two separate societies based upon it.

On the surface are pastoral, agrarian peoples, while deep underground lives a race of genetically-modified cannibal wizards and their human food supply. When Rus encounters them, the wizards are on the verge of exploding out of their long isolation. If he can somehow avoid becoming food himself, his next challenge will be to win his own freedom and that of those destined to be devoured as 'meats'.
Join Tobar and his new companions as they push their wits and luck to the extreme limits in an epic quest to uncover the horrifying truth that lies Outside of Space.

Hello y'all! Tim Burns here to let everyone know that my first book, 'Outside of Space', is out. This is a well-thought-out story that is set in the far future and describes the discovery of a pocket universe where magic is possible. Story elements include action, adventure, some horror, and first contact with a truly unique alien intelligence.
        When the generational starship Zaspar's Pride becomes stuck in deep space in the orbit of a stellar-sized alien artifact, engineer Tobar Rus  enters a pocket dimension where he finds a pair of magic-using societies. Will he be able to return from Outside of Space to free his ship or he succumb to the cannibal wizards? Join him and find out. 

        The Science Fiction Buzz had this to say: "Timothy Burns is a powerful voice in the realm of high-technology science fiction who tells a story that is believable at every turn yet filled with wonder and surprise."

        Another reviewer said, "I recently came across a new indie author who shows great promise, Timothy Burns. This is his first (and only, as far as I know) novel.
Tobar Rus, a general technician aboard the huge ancient starship Zaspar's Pride, imperils his ship and crew when his attempts to investigate an alien artifact the size of a star end up stranding the generational ship far from any hope of rescue. In a desperate attempt to save everyone he knows, he ventures to the artifact and becomes trapped inside it where he discovers a pocket dimension that contains a single star and lone planet. On this world are two distinct cultures, the magic-using surface dwellers and a long-isolated race of cannibalistic wizards. When Tobar arrives, the Haxalantha wizards are about to explode out of their under-world caverns and devour the surface peoples. With the help of the sorceress Sapphire, her winger lover Kyri and their valiant companions, he escapes the clutches of these sadistic killers and, after long struggles, eventually makes contact with the alien intelligence that created the reality bubble.
This is a rather long book at 600+ pages, and the first offering by a first-time writer, but well worth the read. The blending of technology and a realistic magic system add up to quite an enjoyable romp in a book that can best be described as hard science-fiction/fantasy cross-over." - from Goodreads

Chapter 8Visions

Hes crazy!
We cant let…”
Absolutely not,Captain Markus stated, firmly speaking over the stunned outbursts of the others.Let me be perfectly clear about this, everyone: there is no way that I will allow the Pride to be taken into that artifact.He spoke with conviction, like the capable leader he had proven himself to be in his years as commander and ultimate decision maker over a crew of a thousand. There was no sign in his voice of the terrible ordeal he was going through, just an absolute determination to see his ship and crew emerge from this emergency whole and unscathed.
Ozzy, can you stop production on those thrusters?
No, sir. The nanoassemblers being used are operating under lockout conditions. I cannot access their controls.
Then shut down the power and raw material feeds to them.
Yes, sirDone.
You know, dont you,interjected Tobar,that they will reroute both of those, and make it impossible for us to shut them off again?
Of course. At this point, though, Ill settle for slowing them down as much as possible.
Then you have a bigger plan?asked Stef.
Not yet, no. what I wish to do now is explore our options. Anyone?he glanced around the passenger compartment of the shuttlecraft at the faces of the only sane and loyal crewmembers he could trust. Bright, capable people all. Surely, between them, he and they could work out a solution to their dilemma.
Stef was the first to speak up, after she saw that no-one else was ready to comment yet.We need to take back control of the ship,” she said, not believing that anyone cared to state the obvious answer.
Tobar responded to that with,And then what? Remember, we are way outnumbered by people under the influence of the artifact. Thats our real problem.
I agree,said the captain.As long as it can affect any of us it is a threat. Can we do anything about either nullifying its effects or escaping them?
Well,replied Tobar dryly,I dont think we can run.
Why not?asked Jin.What about using these thrusters theyre making? Cant we use them to get away?
The captain and the engineer glanced at each other with a look that asked who wanted to tell her. Tobar deferred with a hand gesture to his captain.
No. In a nutshell, thrusters work by accelerating mass and spewing it away, on the principle of action-reaction. The mass of the Pride is so great that reaction thrusters, no matter how big they are or how much of our spare mass we feed into them, could only ever alter our course by a minute degree. Enough to get us moving towards the artifact, albeit incredibly slowly, but it would take literally thousands of years for us to reach the nearest star at that rate.
Oh,was all she could say to that. After a moments thought, she resumed.Well, then, youre not going to like this any better. All my research so far indicates that there is no way to reduce anyones sensitivity to the artifacts effects. Boost it, maybe, but if I were to alter their brain chemistry enough to block it out it would cause serious injury. Like permanent brain damage or even death.
Everyone took a minute to think that over. Eventually Tobar asked,So what are we left with?
No-one had an answer to that. When it became obvious to Stef that there was no other choice, she said resignedly,The neuroboost. Lets find out if we are really being spoken to by something utterly alien.
How did you start your writing career?

        I began planning my writing career long before I ever put pen to paper. I have loved reading all my life, and the idea was always in my head that one day I would make the jump from consumer to producer, if you will. With that in mind, whenever I read a particularly interesting concept, plot device, character quirk or anything similar I mentally filed it away for future use in my own works. I noted both what seemed to impress me and what turned me off, and I try to incorporate these so that I can write stories that readers will enjoy as much as I enjoyed reading some of these works which inspired me.
        On that note, some of the authors who had the most influence on me are Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, Douglas Adams, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, Anne McCaffrey, Piers Anthony and the writers of the original “Star Trek” series. As you can see, I primarily read science-fiction with a little bit of fantasy and humor thrown in.

When in the day/night do you write? How long per day?

        As for when I write, I prefer late afternoon into the evening hours, trying to get in anywhere from 3 to 6 or more hours in a day as my other obligations allow. I have never been a morning person and so find that I do my best work after I have had several hours to get my mind up to speed. After that, however, watch out – I may not stop until I just can't keep my eyes open any longer.

Where do you research for your books?

        Since what interests me most is high technology and I want to impart a high degree of plausibility into my work, I start every day by reading about the latest scientific breakthroughs and developments. As a science-fiction author, I often extrapolate what these new technologies will be like in the future when they are mature, commonly-used techniques or products. And while I do often google a subject I need to brush up on as I am writing a particular passage, I tend to stay away from the general articles written by amateurs and focus more on those that originate with reputable sources.

Is “Outside of Space” your first book?

        Yes and no. I actually wrote several other books, or at least began them, a number of years back but due to various unfortunate circumstances I lost these manuscripts before I could go all the way with them. While I wish these could have seen publication, at least I got the experience of actually writing them. Hopefully this has made me a slightly better writer.

Plotter or Pantser? Why?

        I'm most definitely a seat-of-the-pants type writer. When I began writing “Outside of Space”, I actually started with two separate story lines in alternating chapters, one a deep-space hard sci-fi and the other a classic fantasy magic-and-adventure, not knowing until I was well into the book even how I was going to connect the two arcs. I hoped I could pull it off, and I'll let my readers tell me if I did so, but nevertheless it was fun to write because I was learning what happened to my characters as I went, just as any reader does.

How do you develop your plots and your characters? Do you use any set formula?

        Well, generally I have a more-or-less specific idea in mind for a particular character or plot, enough to get me started, but I like to “turn them loose” and see what develops as they interact with each other. Oh, there are sometimes constraints I impose on what will or will not happen, but for the most part I feel like I am sitting back and watching an already-written story unfold even as I am putting words down for the first draft. I suspect my subconscious knows a lot more that I do, and so I give it plenty of opportunity to shine through.

Do you listen to music while writing? If so what?

        I am a big fan of classic rock, especially the guitar-driven blues-inspired kind, and I love listening whenever I am not writing. However, when I am I find that I am too easily distracted if there is any music or TV on anywhere in the house.

Tell us about what you are working on next.

        I am actually about half way through two new books. I don't know which one I will finish first, but I think it will be “Wyrd of the Phoenix”, which is about a starship captain named Phoenix who is called upon to investigate the disappearances of an alien civilization's own ships and how his actions affect the fate of the entire civilized universe. The other, “Ghosts of the Void”, deals with the appearance of sentient apparitions that inhabit a great cloud of dark matter that our solar system is passing through.

Mr. Burns is an avid reader of hard science-fiction who has read and loved that genre all his life. He has always dreamed of writing books that others would enjoy reading as much as he enjoyed those by the great masters of the field. His primary interest is high-technology, and he endeavors to impart plausibility into his work. Other reading and writing interests include fantasy, magic, the paranormal, the Norse runes and nature-centered religions.

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