Books Writing

New book: Notorious (Dropzone #5)

Notorious is the fifth instalment of the Dropzone series of military sci-fi books. It continues from directly where Derelict (Dropzone #4)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:

No one wants to protect the girl everyone wants to kill…

Avion genetic scientist Serenka of Nar’naya stands accused of one of the worst crimes in the history of her species.

She has become the Universe’s Most Wanted – and now everyone from the Southern Reach to Cell Block H wants her dead.

The squad are called in to keep her breathing long enough to escort her to her trial. In her top-security tri-species prison, they’ll need to suspect everyone and trust no one.

That includes Serenka herself, who knows one rekindled friendship could change the course of history…

The Dropzone military sci-fi series ratchets up the tension… for fans of classic sci-fi including Aliens, Starship Troopers and Old Man’s War.

The excellent cover artwork, representing the spectacular wing colouration of the Nar’nayan strain of Avions, was again created by Kat Bastow.

Notorious is the fifth of a series of 10 books following the exploits of Virgil Lovell, the Sleeper Agency and Hoffman’s Revenants.

By now, the squad has completed four of the mandated 10 drops on their tour of duty. They signed up to atone for their crimes and specifically to avoid prison, but now find themselves on the other side of the cell doors, having to patrol one.

Though prisoner security team should be a relatively conventional role, the Revenants never end up doing things the ordinary way. As well as having to quell prisoner uprisings and deal with ship-to-ship battles, they also have to negotiate the moral maze they find themselves in, once they’re caught in the orbit of their prisoner’s dilemma.

All the while, their nerves are becoming more and more fraught, until, at the halfway point of their tour of duty, they have no idea what dangers are coming – or how best to prepare themselves for the next curveball the Agency throws at them.

Here are some inspirations that fed into the book:

1] Alien 3 (1992)

Although David Fincher’s incoherent and claustrophobic franchise-endangerer was one of sci-fi cinema’s most perplexing left-turns, setting the third Alien instalment in a gritty and nightmarish prison was a brave move that made the film a compelling and dark prospect… until you actually watched it.

2] Elite and No Man’s Sky

I’ve always enjoyed the sequences in games where you visit space-station environments, those slowly rotating system hubs where all traffic flows in and out of. They seem like such exciting yet unpretentious places, filled with transitory shopping malls and service areas, food courts and a hinterland of decadence where you can seek out your next adventure.

3] The Malta National War Museum, Valletta

The mythic story of the heroic defence of the island of Malta during WW2 by three obsolete Gloster Gladiator aircraft nicknamed Faith, Hope and Charity is referenced in Notorious. It’s a stirring tale of battle against all the odds and the commemoration of it in Malta is a moving tribute. 

4] Ex Machina (2014)

I loved how this prescient film handled the idea of the AI prisoner as cold-hearted seducer/survivor, which made me think about the universal story mechanic of how one private relationship can indirectly change the fate of so many people.

5] Logan’s Run (1976)

This enjoyable but silly 70s sci-fi action film based on a 1967 novel tackled the heady topics of futuristic population control and high-tech justice. When citizens reached 30 years old, a life-clock crystal implanted in their left palm would begin to flash, singling them out for termination, a bit like a mercilessly dystopian version of a FitBit or something.

A similar device manifests itself in Notorious as a wristband that changes colour to control your behaviour as a prisoner and to tell you what you’re permitted to do next.

If I’m totally honest, the inspiration is not so much Logan’s Run as a local swimming pool I used to go to when I was young. They’d give you a coloured plastic wristband and once the lights on the pool wall changed from your colour to another, you had to get out. It was unclear what your punishment would be if you didn’t, but no one stuck around to find out – electrocution of the water? A harpooning? Freeform sharkplay, maybe?

Here are some quick reads with more info about Fleet Rats (Dropzone #1), Parasite (Dropzone #2), Shadow Puppets (Dropzone #3), Derelict (Dropzone #4) 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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