The Enclaves of Sylox is Available!

Martian MorningMy latest book, The Enclaves of Sylox, is now available on Amazon.com.

As mentioned before, this is the start of a new series, which I plan to do concurrently with a part three to The Human Chronicles Saga, featuring Adam Cain.

This one’s a little departure from my last series. There’s more humor and a little less shoot-em-up — although it does pick up pace toward the end.

I have a special running until Wednesday morning , Sept. 17: The book is only $2.99, and also includes a second full novel, book one of The Human Chronicles Saga –The Fringe Worlds. On Wednesday, this two book set goes up to the full retail price of $4.98.

I hop you enjoy this one, and remember, reviews on Amazon are always welcome, and you can also email at bytrharris@hotmail.com.

A Galaxy to Conquer is NOW available on Amazon!

AGTCCoverClick here to be taken to A Galaxy to Conquer on Amazon.

In this book, all the great forces in the galaxy clash for one final, epic battle to determine who will come out on top. And racing the clock is Adam Cain and his team of aliens and SEALs out to rescue Riyad Tarazi from a Kracori prison ahead of the approaching conflagration. The Kracori homeworld of Elision is about to be destroyed, and if Adam and his team can’t get Riyad out in time all will be lost.

For this one final mission, Adam has recruited many of his old friends from past adventures, including the aliens Kaylor and Jym, along with his old SEAL Team Six teammates Master Chief Geoffrey Rutledge, Petty Officer First Class John Tindal and Admiral Andy Tobias. And of course, the feisty and always interesting Sherri Valentine is along as well, bringing with her a unique down-home Kentucky brashness that readers in the past have found ‘humanizing’ to the Saga.

Within the pages of A Galaxy to Conquer you will learn the fate of all these characters and more, plus a resolution to the geopolitical struggles plaguing the galaxy. You will also learn what becomes of Adam Cain. (Let’s just say this old soldier doesn’t just fade away. Instead he heads out for new adventures in a  galaxy far, far away.)

Don’t miss this exciting, final volume of The Human Chronicles Saga — one of the bestselling sci-fi series on Amazon for the past two years. Once again, the hard-headed aliens of the galaxy have to be taught a lesson, one they repeatedly seem to forget: Don’t Mess With The Humans!

The Apex Predator — Releasing on Dec. 15, 2013

Anatomy of Vitruvian ManWe’re just now finishing up the final edit of The Apex Predator, Book 2 of Part 2 of The Human Chronicles Saga.

The release date will be Dec. 15, 2013 on Amazon.com.

The next book after this will conclude the sequential series of Adam Cain and his band of space travelers, but that’s not to say I won’t be putting out a book or two of simple Adam Cain adventures per year. I believe this will free up my readers — both old and new — to jump into a book without having to read the entire series ahead of time. Once you reach eight books in a sequential series, that becomes essentially one very long book, and you can’t simply start reading in the middle and have it make any sense. Future Adam Cain books will be one-shot, one-kill type of stories. Appropriate metaphor if you’ve read the books.

The final book in The Human Chronicles Saga should be out around the middle of February, so my fans will not have to wait as long for the final edition.

It’s been a long and exciting journey. I want to thank all those who have been there since the beginning, as well as those new readers who are just now discovering the series. The timeless sense of adventure found within the pages of the Adam Cain novels will continue, I promise. But for now, two more books to wrap up the Human-Juirean-Klin-Kracori saga. I wonder who’s going to come out on top?

What’s In A Name?

Alien Talking“So you come from the planet Dirt?”

That’s one of the questions the aliens ask Adam Cain, the main character of The Human Chronicles Saga, when they learn he comes from a planet called ‘Earth.’ Just as the auto-correct on your phone tends to screw up what you’re typing, the alien translation device in this instance saw the word ‘earth’ as dirt, soil, ground, etc. You can see how this could happen.

Which is the subject of this post: Lack of context when communicating with aliens. Which is something I do all the time (communicate with aliens). What about you?

Yes, to others, we’ve named our home world dirt. Simple, basic and to the point; however, I have to admit we were NOT very creative with the name. Sure, Gia, Terra and a few others may sound more exotic, but that’s only to modern English-speaking ears. In Latin, Terra is Earth. So the impression a name conveys is often in the eye — and the ear — of the beholder. Still, why not Solar-3 … or even Fantasia?

And a little off subject, I have another gripe: The common house Fly. We went and named something a FLY! We take an insect with a couple of wings that buzzes around in the air … and we call it a ‘fly.’ Well, duh! So using this logic, a fish should be called a ‘swim,’ a cheetah a ‘run,’ and a grasshopper a ‘jump.’ C’mon, people, we can do better than this! The aliens are expecting a little more creativity out of us.

I mention the above because as a science fiction writer, I get to have fun with things like this. In my stories, I often examine some of the absurdities of language and how outsiders (aliens) would interpret certain words and phrases we take for granted. For instance, the common word ‘bullshit,’ when translated literally has absolutely no correlation to the colloquial use of the phrase. In my books, this really throws the aliens for a loop, especially since we Humans tend to use the word quite often. And not to be too vulgar, but one of my Human characters responds to some new information he’s just received by saying, “No shit?” Just let that roll around in your brain for a moment, with you in the place of the alien. This is really fun stuff for an author!

And I can also bring this subject back down to Earth — literally. As an English-speaking American from California, I’ve often wondered what goes through  the minds of my Spanish-speaking friends when they hear or read words such as Los Gatos — which is the name of a city in Northern California. Do they see this as The Cats, as in “I’m going to The Cats today to visit some friends?” Here’s another: Buena Vista (Beautiful View). Or Vista del Lago (Lake View). They each sound much more exotic in Spanish than they do in translation, and there are literally tens of thousands of other examples, in all languages.

So one person’s dirt is another’s home planet. It all depends on your point of view.

How we communicate with alien races, and how our common objects and points-of-reference can vary, is a big part of my stories, and something which I hope makes them more interesting  — and humorous — to read. I wish more sci-fi writers took these things into account. Common references such as these tend to Humanize the story.

And a few other quick notes.

I always capitalize ‘Human’ in my books, just as you capitalize Vulcans, Klingons and Martians. Why shouldn’t we also received the prestige of a capital letter? Also, some of my alien species are named for the planets they come from (Juireans, Sileans), yet in many cases they have names other than a variation of their planet-of-origin. For instance, one of the main enemies of the Humans are the Kracori … who just happen to come from the planet Elision. I would re-think this if we went around calling ourselves Earthlings, but we don’t. So there.

This reveals some of the crazy thought process that goes into creating my fictional worlds….

T.R. (Tom) Harris

Some Come Easier Than Others….

ApexCover5Book Seven of The Human Chronicles Saga is coming along nicely. It should be completed by November 23-25 and then sent off for editing and proofreading.

The issue I’m having now is with the title.

It has evolved from Starlight Falls to A Galaxy to Conquer … and now to The Apex Predator. Since the story revolves around mankind being the supermen in the galaxy — and therefore the greatest predator around — the new (or proposed) title seems appropriate and strong. I’ve put together a mockup of the cover, and I really like it. Any comments would be welcome, of course.

Since the final book in the series is already plotted and planned for release in late January, the title of A Galaxy to Conquer appears to fit that one better. That cover will probably be kept and used for that book. But for now, I’m adding The Apex Predator to my inventory of cover art.

The Hardest Kind of Writing

alien with swordI may be biased — since I write science fiction exclusively — but I honestly believe sci-fi is the hardest type of fiction to write.

The reason say this is because in sci-fi nearly everything one writes about needs to be created from scratch. Sure, in some stories you can place normal humans in a very normal setting and throw in some aliens. But in the sci-fi I write, where the humans are far away in space and living within alien societies, I have to make up almost everything. This ranges from languages, to buildings, to construction methods, to food, to mannerisms, to physical descriptions … and so much more.

Let’s do a comparison. Imagine you have to write a scene that takes place in Paris, and the main character needs to walk down so-and-so street, go into this particular restaurant and order a special food dish. If you haven’t already been there, it’s very easy to pull up a walking tour of Paris on the internet and describe, down to the smallest detail, the exact scene. And even if it’s not exact, then any fictional restaurant serving a fictional steak dinner wouldn’t be very difficult to conjure up.

Now put the character on an alien planet. First of all, it has to be alien, so it can’t be too familiar. In addition, it can’t be overly alien either, where the reader stops and says, “What?” So there is a balancing act you go through when creating your alien street, alien restaurant and alien cuisine.

And now you’re writing; you have to make up a street scene with alien architecture, alien atmosphere and alien smells. You need to create a public eating establishment that makes sense, even on an alien world. Then you have to develop a menu that can accommodate human palates while also allowing the main character’s alien companion to feast upon the local specialties … which are what? You have to make this up, too.

The reason I’m telling you this is that sci-fi is often thought of as the easiest to write. After all, you can just make everything up! You don’t have to have intimate knowledge of foreign cities or the operating manual for an M1-A4 assault rifle. What you don’t know in sci-fi, you just make up. Easy. Right?

For some of us the creative process does come easy. I don’t find this kind of writing particularly difficult, just time-consuming. I can sit for three hours straight working on my current WIP (Work-in-Progress) and find that I’ve only completed 1,500 words. This is because I’ve had to continually stop and create while writing. Constructing the most-readable sentences in the story-telling process is a time-consuming endeavor in and of itself. Now add to that the fact that 90% of what you’re describing has to be created from your imagination alone. It really bogs things down.

I know when I’m writing just normal fiction, containing everyday items found here on Earth, I can crank out 1,500 words or so per hour. Not so with sci-fi, no matter how into the story I am. In an effort to always make things fresh, exciting and unique, I have to utilize every ounce of creative juice I have, which after three hours straight of making stuff up, can be mentally draining.

Of course, this is both the bane and the lure of writing sci-fi. It’s a challenge to see how unique a universe one can create out of thin air while not going overboard. It’s a test of one’s vision and insight, along with all the creepy-crawly things one can imagine.

Here’s a tip for those who do write sci-fi and fantasy. It’s not original, but it makes all the sense in the world.

Don’t make the names — of your characters, their titles and their worlds — unpronounceable. There is no greater story-killer than having your readers stop every few sentences to try and figure out how something is pronounced. It’s not necessary to jumble a bunch of mismatched letters together thinking this will make the names sound more exotic. Julicmon’cree L’on’minn, Liknormic-high of the Dormmonwed clan, pulled his omploosni sword from its sheath and …. What? See what I mean? Completely stops the flow dead it its tracks. Keep it simple. It will improve the pace of your story and keep the reader engaged. Don’t do anything that will cause the reader to break concentration and get frustrated.

Until next time … Write On!

T.R (Tom) Harris  

A Quick Note to the fans of The Human Chronicles Saga

Cains90 (695x900)This site: bytrharris.com, will be the new official website for The Human Chronicles Saga, along with all the other writing I do from here on out. As a blog site, my fans and I will have more opportunity to interact, along with an easier, more-open format  for letting all you know what’s going on in the world of Adam Cain and his gang of space travelers.

The blog will start off simple and grow with time. I will also be linking to other sites and blogs which I believe you’ll find entertaining and informative. And if you have anything interesting to say or that you’ve read and would like to include on this blog, just let me know. If I think it’s appropriate I will include it.

I will also have all my books linked to Amazon.com where they can be purchased in either ebook format or in paperback.

Since this blog is so new, please check back frequently as I begin to add more and more content. Oh, and as always, thanks for being a fan!

T.R. (Tom) Harris