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BINARY STORM is an audiobook! Check out the spoken-word version by downloading the novel from Audible.co.uk, an Amazon subsidiary. A standalone science-fiction thriller, BINARY STORM is narrated by Todd Boyce and serves as a prequel to the more distant future of the Paratwa Saga (Liege-Killer, Ash Ock and The Paratwa).
In the 1960s, SF was rather sparse until closer to the end of the decade when the classic 2001: A Space Odyssey and Planet of the Apes appeared. And then, within a decade of those films came the supernova known as Star Wars (Episode IV: A New Hope), which had such a transformative impact on the film industry that it ensures cinematic SF’s popularity to this day.
In the realm of books in the late sixties I discovered two of all my all-time favorites, Frank Herbert’s Dune and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Although I’m still awaiting the perfect cinematic adaptation of the former, Tolkien’s opus was well-served by Peter Jackson’s brilliant trilogy. In the seventies I took a detour away from science fiction after discovering horror novels, mainly William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist and the early books of Stephen King. But like being caught in the energy of an irresistible tractor beam, I was always pulled back to the home base, SF.
Like many fans of the genre, there were some preadolescent and teen efforts at writing, although never with the necessary discipline to master the craft. Yet even in my early twenties, during a period when I drifted away from SF, the urge to create was always present. It hovered there in the distance like the cosmic microwave background, that leftover radiation from the big bang.
It was Hollywood that reignited my interest, basically during that two-year span from Lucas’ Star Wars to Ridley Scott’s Alien. I decided it was time to put up or shut up when it came to making the writing dream come true. Finally I got serious enough to compose my first real novel, Anachronisms. It was a flawed work and in its earliest incarnation didn’t sell, but it taught me a lot about the art and craft of storytelling.
Subsequently, I returned to a novel I’d abandoned a few years earlier because it had seemed derivative and uninteresting. But tucked away within that aborted project’s flawed chapters was a relatively minor story element about a murderous creature known as a para-twin, whose consciousness existed simultaneously in two distinct bodies. Para-twin was transmuted into Paratwa and “Liege-Killer” was born, which became my first published novel and gave birth to the universe of the binaries.
And late last year came the publication of Binary Storm, fourth book in the Paratwa Saga (although a prequel to the other three). Today, the very idea of science fiction - writing it, reading it, watching it, relishing it - is an enduring part of my psyche, a transformative facehugger permanently attached.
Life would be unimaginable without it.
Science fiction has been a big part of my life since childhood. I was captured early on by the magical gift of reading. But it wasn’t until around the age of eight or nine when, as a Christmas gift, I received Stand by for Mars, that SF began its mind-expanding parade.
Stand by… was the first book in the “Tom Corbett, Space Cadet” series of juveniles based on a primordial American television show (I was too young to have seen the show; it aired in the early 1950s), Tom Corbett and his faithful sidekicks, cadets Roger Manning and Astro, endured thrilling adventures as they explored our solar system and nearby stars. For a youngster with a vivid imagination (not yet cognizant of the disparaging notoriety the term “space cadet” was achieving) the books hit home with synapse-bubbling intensity.
Somewhere in that time frame I also had a relatively short but intense fling with comic books, mainly of the superhero variety. I tended to gravitate to DC’s universe - Marvel was still in the early stages of its Stan Lee/Jack Kirby metamorphosis - and I found Superman, Green Lantern and The Flash enjoyable. But it was really the team comics that took hold, in particular, Justice League of America and Fantastic Four (my sole Marvel fave). Like all too many fans, I had most of the first ten or fifteen issues of both titles but through eventual disinterest, allowed my mom to throw them in the trash, thereby potentially disposing of the cost of a college education or two.
But my #1 fave of that era was a more obscure title: Challengers of the Unknown. A fearsome foursome - Prof, Ace, Red and Rocky - had no superpowers but cheated death on a regular basis by utilizing interlocking skill sets, thus saving the world from alien monsters, malignant humans and other dire threats.
Yet as pleasurable as those early comics were, it was the Tom Corbett novels that really stoked the fire and started a lifelong passion for the genre. Over the years, as my horizons expanded, I waded through rivers of SF novels, enjoying regular jaunts to the Northwest Library, a few blocks from our house in Reading, Pennsylvania, to borrow every SF title I could find.
My Uncle Eddie was a fan and lent me novels from his collection, most memorably, E.E. “Doc” Smith’s famed Lensmen series, originally published in the pulp magazines but later collected into a six-book set. The Lensmen was space opera at its grandest, with millions of alien races aligning with either the “good” Arisians - who developed the lens that gave its users great mental and telepathic abilities - or the power-hungry Eddorians. I’ve often wondered whether George Lucas read Smith’s books at a pivotal age. There are definite parallels to his Star Wars universe.
As my reading prowess grew, I discovered many authors who I later realized constituted the field’s acknowledged masters. Clarke, Heinlein, Bradbury, Asimov and others were rapidly consumed, as was an early favorite, the effervescently strange A. E. Van Vogt. (His “Voyage of the Space Beagle” is an early prototype not only for Star Trek but for the first Alien movie.)
And speaking of movies, my early absorption of written SF was paralleled by an equally potent attraction to genre cinema. The 1950s produced a surfeit of filmed SF, most of which I saw years later on TV. Although their quality tended to be rather low in terms of character-driven storytelling and special effects, the better ones remain impactful to this day, especially The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Thing from Another World and Forbidden Planet.
(Part 2 to follow)
...at the Strange Alliances website:
The cover for BINARY STORM, the Paratwa Saga prequel, is almost finished. It looks apropos to the story, noirish and menacing. The art was done by Larry Rostant, a 2016 nominee for the prestigious Hugo Award for best professional artist. Rostant did the covers for George R.R. Martin’s "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels, better known by their HBO series title, "Game of Thrones".
The cover should be online soon. US, UK and ebook editions of the novel are slated for early November.