Books Writing

New book: Shadow Puppets (Dropzone #3)

The Dropzone series of novels set in the Kassini universe keeps on expanding with the release of Shadow Puppets (Dropzone #3). The follow-up to Fleet Rats (Dropzone #1) and Parasite (Dropzone #2) continues the same story with the same set of characters.

The book continues my new military sci-fi series of novels, 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.

In it, we follow one squad of misfit human and alien soldiers working for a secret Agency. These renegade troopers, led by a not-entirely-human, not-entirely-trustworthy and not-entirely-sane squad leader, are attempting to survive a series of 10 drops in exchange for their freedom.

Shadow Puppets deepens the intrigue and ups the stakes for the squad considerably as what appears to be just another simplistic bug hunt quickly reveals the potential to go awry. As the Sleeper Agency sends Hoffman’s Revenants on their third mission, hidden motivations draw nearer the surface and characters begin to fray at the edges as the psychological toll of life during wartime begins to eat at them.

Personally, I’m really enjoying taking on the challenge of developing a set of characters over the course of a long book series. I’m also intrigued as to how, with each instalment, the books are becoming a different proposition to their ‘parent’ Kassini series. I hope you as a reader are enjoying piecing together the differences and the similarities as the two series evolve and intertwine as fast as I can write them.

As ever, it has exceptional artwork by Kat Bastow, with help this time in the form of a couple of elements created using the Midjourney AI.

Here’s the blurb…

Sometimes natural selection could use a helping hand.

In a remote corner of the universe, a group of battle-weary Elemental soldiers has just had a radical idea: why not let someone else do their dirty work?

When they uncover two primitive species locked in a deadly struggle, they jettison their species’ moral code – no battle droids, no bioengineering – and begin weaponising insectoids to create a powerful foot soldier.

Now it falls to our brave but bickering squad of human, Avion and Elemental misfits, and one extremely anxious uplifted rat, to stop them – before their controversial bioweapon alters the course of the Great Expansion War forever… 

For fans of Aliens, Starship Troopers and Old Man’s War – if you enjoyed those stories, you’ll love Esa Ortega’s Kassini universe, starting with the Dropzone series.

This is not a standalone tale, so don’t forget to read Fleet Rats (Dropzone #1) and Parasite (Dropzone #2) before strapping in for this instalment!

Visual promo…

I’m writing the Dropzone series alongside my Kassini story cycle because I wanted to write a self-contained series of books that closely follows the lives of a single set of characters.

Whereas The Kassini Division, Rise Of The Exiles and their sequels deal with a cast of characters in a rapidly evolving, politically charged space-opera setting, Dropzone offers readers a series of fast-moving, slightly shorter books in more of a military sci-fi scenario. Both series pay respectful homage to the SF films, books, games and TV I love.

As I said before, each story in the series pays implicit homage to a specific classic of the science-fiction genre. With each book, you can look forward to the Sleeper Agency squad being sent on missions with potentially familiar themes: for me, the fun lies in playfully referencing these classics while re-imagining some of the same concepts in the Kassini universe. 

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