Fleet Rats (Dropzone #1)

Fleet Rats book cover

Fleet Rats (Dropzone #1) is the first instalment in a new military sci-fi series set in the Kassini universe. Set in 2841, around a half-century before my other books in the same Kassini universe, Fleet Rats and the rest of the Dropzone series follow the trials and tribulations of a squad of dropship troopers across a series of missions.

Here’s the blurb for the first book:

Protecting the universe from the scum of the Earth…

It’s 2841 and after an uneasy and short-lived truce, three expanding stellar empires – the humans, the Avions and the Elementals – are now descending into an ever-more-brutal turf war. 

The Sleeper Agency’s squads exist to stop the empires from crossing the line. They go where conventional forces fear to tread; they steal back ships, rescue lost personnel, investigate strange phenomena in secret. But mostly, they get their hands dirty doing the jobs no one else can, or wants, to do. 

The Agency recruits from the wrong side of the tracks, finding its troops anywhere from cyberpunk slums to military prisons. It offers them a new life, with a new identity – no questions asked. All it demands in return is they do their jobs and complete their tour of duty of 10 combat drops… it’s an offer they can’t refuse.

Only problem is, will a dropship full of Avion, Elemental and human criminals hurled into the battle zone be more of a danger to themselves than the enemy?

Strap yourself in… because this is not just another bug hunt.

For fans of Starship Troopers, Murderbot Diaries, Men In Black, Band Of Brothers, Aliens and SAS Rogue Heroes, this is Book One of a new military sci-fi series set in the Kassini universe.

Here’s a visual promo for it…

Banner ad image for Dropzone 1 (1 of 3)
Banner ad image for Dropzone 1 (2 of 3)
Banner ad image for Dropzone 1 (3 of 3)

Here are five inspirations behind the book…


Aliens movie poster

Aliens… 44 years on and we still don’t really realise what we’re dealing with, do we? Its structural perfection is matched only by its redlining excitement and even today, it’s the sci-fi action movie all others will be judged against. Its celebrated worldbuilding – a kind of adrenalised extension of the dirty and imperfect, lived-in future the first film presented – is by now the default aesthetic for sci-fi fans and writers in the future-war genre. It’s also the gift that keeps on giving, with high-quality spin-off franchises such as co-op shooter Aliens: Fireteam, an endless assault wave of mostly excellent novelisations in the same universe and a forthcoming TV series all keeping the life cycle of the creature going as it nears its half-century.

Annihilation (Southern Reach Trilogy) by Jeff VanderMeer

This trilogy about squads sent to investigate a mysterious, dangerous alien phenomenon is literary science-fiction at its finest. It creates a compelling, unsettling and unpredictable world, using desperate characters in survival mode to make its action seem altogether stranger. A story about the familiar seemingly lit by an unknowable, harsh alien sun, I regularly re-read it just to breathe its atmosphere.

Murderbot Diaries

One of modern sci-fi’s classic characters, Martha Wells’ cranky and socially awkward murderbot just wants to be left alone. The action, mediated via the entertaining first-person thought processes of its protagonist, is always brilliantly taut, well-written and cinematic.

SAS Rogue Heroes

Criticised by some for being part military history, part Duran Duran video – and by me, specifically, for overuse of AC|DC in the soundtrack – this retelling of the origin story of the SAS from Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is superbly acted, apparently more or less factually accurate and wildly entertaining into the bargain.


This turn-based strategy-game franchise sees you take control of a beleaguered Men In Black-like organisation trying to protect the Earth from invasion from a network of technically advanced, ruthless alien entities. Its backs-against-the-wall, improvise-to-survive themes have always brought me back for more, despite the ‘evil alien’ adversaries you’re up against being so one-dimensional.

Get your free eBook copy of Conversations With Droids, a book of 12 sci-fi short stories.