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New book: Derelict (Dropzone #4)

Derelict is the fourth instalment of the Dropzone series of military sci-fi books. It continues from directly where Shadow Puppets (Dropzone #3), Parasite (Dropzone #2)and Fleet Rats (Dropzone #1) left off, with the same characters.

The Dropzone series is set in the same universe as my previous sci-fi books – Conversations With DroidsThe Kassini Division and Rise Of The Exiles – but it takes place in 2841, a half-century before the events of the other books.

Here’s the blurb for the latest instalment:

When search and rescue vanish without a trace… what next?

A mysterious derelict battleship emerges from the depths of a Federation waterworld, captivating scientists and militaries alike. But as the teams sent to investigate it disappear one by one, the stakes are raised…

As pirate networks and rival empires flock to the system, the Sleeper Agency sees an opportunity for profit. It despatches Hoffman’s Revenants, a beleaguered squad of humans, droids, Avions, and Elementals, to the scene to uncover the truth hidden within the depths of this mysterious ship.

Exhausted and on edge, they know all hell is about to break loose – quicker than you can say ‘valuable alien artefact’…

The Dropzone military sci-fi series continues with its most perilous mission yet… for fans of classic sci-fi including Aliens, Starship Troopers and Old Man’s War.

Here’s a visual promo:

The excellent cover artwork was again created by Kat Bastow, using some elements from the Midjourney AI.

Here are some inspirations that fed into the book:

1] The Hitch-hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The Hitch-hiker's Guide To The Galaxy book

I often think about a minor Douglas Adams joke in the Hitch-hiker’s radio series – the Transtellar Cruise Lines ship that wakes its passengers up from cryosleep every year to serve them coffee and biscuits, before putting them to sleep again. Turns out the ship’s autopilot is patiently waiting for life on the current planet to evolve, civilisations to arise and manufacturers to provide the lemon-scented napkins that are currently missing from its stores.

2] Event Horizon (1997)

Ridley Scott’s Alien was often referred to as a ‘haunted house movie set in space’, but 1997’s Event Horizon took this concept to an almost literal extreme. Philip Eisner’s harrowing sci-fi-horror tale of astronauts going mad on a huge spaceship that’s been to hell and back saw Sam Neill, Laurence Fishburne et al exploring a gigantic slab of high-tech Gothic architecture that had a real-world corollary.

Director Paul W. S. Anderson told IndieWire: “I didn’t want Event Horizon to be an Alien wannabe or a ripoff. I felt that the way avoid that was to make it a Gothic movie and to base it on one of the best pieces of Gothic architecture in the world, the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. So we scanned the cathedral into a computer, broke it apart, and then built all the constituent elements of the Event Horizon ship from Notre Dame.”

3] Red Dwarf – Back To Reality (1992)

In this all-time fan-favourite series 5 episode (mine, should anyone care, is The Last Day), the crew take Starbug under the seas of an ocean planet to investigate the wrecked SSS Esperanto, then fall foul of the formidable despair squid… 

4] Silent Running (1972)

Douglas Trumbull’s cerebral, ecologically portentous sci-fi classic (filmed inside a Korean War aircraft carrier) sees astronaut Bruce Dern rebelling when asked to destroy the last surviving specimens of Earth’s otherwise-extinct botany. In Derelict, my cosmic gardener droid, tending to sealife, is a vague nod to his three soulful robot pals, Huey, Dewey and Louie. 

5] Duskers by Epic Games

In this rogue-like sci-fi-horror game, you explore derelict spaceships with drones, piecing together the puzzle of how the universe became a giant graveyard while salvaging what you need to survive. The action takes place via a command-line interface and you follow the action through outmoded, old-school tech, seeing the world through the perfunctory sensors of the drones. It’s a critically acclaimed experience that Wired called “abstract, distant and terrifying”, although they could’ve just as easily been describing the typical mating behaviour of Elementals.

Here are some quick reads with more info about Fleet Rats (Dropzone #1), Parasite (Dropzone #2), Shadow Puppets (Dropzone #3) and I hope you enjoy them… and if you’ve read and enjoyed my Kassini books, I strongly suggest you give the Dropzone series a whirl, as there are many shared aspects you’ll instantly recognise.

If you enjoy these or indeed any of my books, tell your sci-fi-loving friends and please leave a positive review on Amazon.

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