Book Releases || August 16, 2016 || Religious Mysteries & Space Travel

 The Brothers’ Keepers

A Nicholas Branson Novel #1

by Matthew Peters

Most of us are familiar with Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph, and Jesus’ purported spouse, Mary Magdalene. But what about Jesus’ siblings? What role did they play in early Christianity?

Contemporary Jesuit and renowned religious historian Nicholas Branson is about to find out…and the answer will shake the foundations of the Judeo-Christian world.

It all starts with the murder of a United States Senator in a confessional, and the discovery of a strange religious document among his possessions. At the urging of his FBI friend, Branson joins the investigation. His effort to uncover the truth behind the murder draws him into the search for an eight-hundred-year-old treasure and into a web of ecclesiastical and political intrigue.

Accompanied by a beautiful, sharp-tongued research librarian, Jessica Jones, Branson follows a trail of clues, from the peaks of the awe inspiring French Pyrenees to the caves of war-torn Afghanistan. Along the way, shadowy powerful forces trail the pair, determined to keep safe a secret buried for centuries.


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Nicholas Branson had just managed to get to sleep when—Christ almighty!—the phone rang. He started, grabbed his cell, and sat up in one quick motion.

“Yeah?” He dabbed his eyes with his palm to blot out sleep.

“Nick? Greg, Greg Hanlovian.”

“Han? Why the hell are you calling at this hour?” Branson clicked on the lamp and groggily got his bearings. The red digital clock on the rickety nightstand showed 4:02 a.m. Across the room, the particle-board desk was covered with open books, facedown, forming little tents under the crucifix on the wall.

“Did you hear?” Han snapped.

“Hear what?”

“What happened last night?”

It’s still last night. “No, I went to an—I had a meeting. Came home, did some work.” Now he was wide awake. “Is Nola all right?”

“She’s fine.”

Branson relaxed a little. “Well, what happened?”

Silence at the other end.


“Thomas Caldwell has been murdered.”

“The senator from California? Head of the Armed Services Committee?”

“Yup. Gunned down in a confessional in St. Peter’s last night, sometime after nine.”

Branson shook his head. “St. Peter’s? I don’t understand. What was he doing in a confessional at that hour? Was Caldwell even Catholic?”

“No, he wasn’t. But there’s something else, and that’s the reason I’m calling. There are some photos.”

“Of what?”

“Can’t talk about it on the phone, Nick. Meet me at Spencer’s in half an hour.”

"FLIPSPACE: Jaded Mars" by John SteinerJaded Mars

FLIPSPACE Missions 13-15

by John Steiner

Surpassing the speed of light remained elusive in the 2170’s. However, the trick was to hold still to swap out spatial locations. For Colonel Sumitra Ramachandra, Major Lamarr Fitch, Captain Malcolm O’Connell and the rest of the ISS Mockingbird’s crew jumping between solar systems is just the start of their wondrous, sometimes zany and often perilous missions. The future of aerospace defense stretches far above the blue yonder.

Murder of Ravens
Flipspace 13

During Earth-duty, the ISS Mockingbird takes part in an airshow, until an unprovoked strategic strike by the Jade Continuum puts Earth defenses on high alert. Colonel Rama and Major Fitch must rally their crew and prepare for a counter-strike raid to Mars to unravel the Continuum’s motive and remind them that they’re not out of reach. Mustering their assets also means that Colonel Rama must convince their former flight surgeon, Malcolm O’Connell to rejoin the crew. However, he brings his own bad news.

Garbage Man
Flipspace 14

A reconnaissance mission to the exo-planet HD 40307G has gone wrong. Two crewmembers are left behind, as the Mockingbird evacuates researchers back to Earth. Captain Diaz is forced to put another of his team into cryptobiosis and hold out until the Mockingbird’s return. Trekking 500 kilometers, and evading Jade Continuum forces, Diaz encounters indigenous intelligent aliens called Leons. Lacking SETI training, Diaz must overcome cultural differences with the Leons, and ensure the return of his team member, whatever the cost.

Flipspace 15

Paired off with the ISS Kulshedra, the Mockingbird is dispatched to a second colony established by the Jade Continuum in violation of international treaties. Securing the skies over the exoplanet named Purple Haze becomes suspiciously easy as the Continuum abandoned their colony in haste. Along with a sole surviving member of the Jade Continuum, the SETI Team finds an unusual form of intelligent life capable of terraforming the bodies of macro-organisms, even those alien to the planet. Tensions rise over what to do with a prisoner of war while the alien threat grows.


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Chapter 1

The Ramachandra

Sparse cirrus clouds streaked a light blue sky dotted with lighter-than-air monitoring probes. Below lay the Berlin ExpoCenter Airport. A temporary stadium that seated over a hundred thousand encircled a set of runways with a healthy few hundred meters of green between. Millions more watch via M-Cast cameras at ground level and in the floating monitors.

The ILA Berlin Airshow had overtaken Paris in being the world premier aerospace event thirty years ago. On May 20th, 2177 the show would include a demonstration of the ISV-71 Ravens of the 1st Raven Light-Ops, FTL. It would end with a simulated aerial knife-fight for the foremost and longest serving ISV-71 Raven, the ISS-454 Mockingbird, piloted by Colonel Sumitra Ramachandra and Major Lamarr Fitch, against a flight of four OSF 168s.

Standing at a podium near one of the runways was the 1st Ravens Wing Commander, Brigadier General Benjamin Chaffee. The seventy-two-year-old dark brown general in his black uniform narrated the events transpiring far above. “The ISV-71 Raven is a lot bigger than a fighter, but don’t be fooled. The Raven has a proven track record in air-to-air knife fights, and has made its name in multi-role deep space operations. NATO’s Aerospace Defense Response now fields sixteen ISV-71s organized into four wings, with another twenty-four Ravens to be added over the next three years.”

Taking a pause, General Chaffee turned his gaze skyward right as four Orbital Supremacy Fighters zipped overhead and pitched into a steep climb toward the ISS Mockingbird. The fighters exhibited a blended body-wing design with canards on their nose cones and variable-height stabilizers. In contrast, the ninety-meter long Mockingbird loitered two kilometers up in a straight-wing flight mode. The ISV’s elongated diamond-shaped hull, triangular tail and variable position wings reinforced to viewers below the raven outline for which the ship design was named.

“Ladies and gentlemen, you’re in for a treat,” General Chaffee promised. “What you’re seeing is a flight of four OSF 168s on their way to start some trouble with the famed ISS Mockingbird, the Raven that found the lost crew of the Astraeus and carried out multiple SETI first contact missions. You’re about to see something we at ADR like to call, ‘doin’ the Ramachandra’.”

Books Release || Dec 6, 2015 || Hope, Love & UFO’s


Jaden Sinclair "Love at First Sight"Love at First Sight

by Jaden Sinclair

Courtney Taylor moved in with her brother after their parents were killed in a car crash. She has a new life in the small town, but isn’t expecting the attraction to her brother’s roommate.

Darren Orender has a past that just won’t leave him alone. He’s given up on dating and relationships, until Courtney moves in and lights a fire he thought was extinguished forever. Love at first sight can be a powerful thing to experience, especially when you don’t expect it to ever hit you.

But just when things start to look up for them they are hit with the unexpected. Will the threat of loss for each other finally bring them together or forever keep them apart?


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Hope’s Return"Hopes Return" by Tara Fox Hall

Promise Me – Book 13

by Tara Fox Hall

Devlin, Sarelle, and Lash begin their lives together on the cusp of the New Year, preparing for both the weddings of Terian and Sundown and Theo and Jenny. Even with their devotion to one another stronger than ever, the trio face many obstacles in melding their lives into one. Facing each other’s true nature leads to introspection, as well as healing for the lovers, even as vampire hunters, demons, and old friends invade their newly-formed sanctuary, determined to break them apart.

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Phantom in the Sky"Phantom in the Sky" - Christopher Carrolli

The Paranormal Investigator Book 5

by Christopher Carrolli

Dylan Rasche is among the first to see something strange streak across the sky. Soon, there are others. After two witnesses are exposed to radiation from the strange object, Dylan and Susan begin to realize that a UFO mystery is looming before them. All of it makes Dylan remember his father…

Dr. Geoffrey Rasche was an astronomer and professor with a secret passion—investigating UFOs. That is, until a fatal accident occurred. Dylan never believed it was an accident, and now he’s discovered proof. Now, the investigators must learn who killed Dylan’s father and unravel the mystery of the phantom in the sky.

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Books Releases || September 4, 2014

Flipspace: Astraeus Event, Missions 4-6 by John SteinerAstraeus Event

FLIPSPACE – Missions 4-6

by John Steiner

Flipspace 4

During a deep space rescue, the Mockingbird receives emergency dispatch orders for the Fortuna asteroid. Colonel Rama is warned of Russian Federate and Remote Space Conglomerated Industries vessels. The Fortuna Foreign Relations Office invites Mockingbird’s senior officers and Federation command officers to an embassy dinner. The two Earth powers are asked to defend Fortuna from RSCI clandestine ops. Lt. Cipactli Arroyo-Diaz, and his team are invited to a “friendly” game of soccer with Russian security. Stanley Goddard runs into an old nemesis in the form of a Federation Logician.

Flipspace 5

The freeze on FTL exploration is over. Mockingbird is dispatched to the exo-planet, XJ-372495E to relieve an outpost team established by the Astraeus. They discover no response from the base, and fear the same fate befell the station as the FTLV. Col. Rama and crew land to investigate the small wind-blown base. Todd Nathanial Ash, Mockingbird’s genetic specialist and Seti team member draws animosity from the science team leader. He and Cpt. O’Connell uncover signs of extinct civilizations, found by the first team, and learn what happened to outpost crew. That’s when things get dicey.

Flipspace 6

Only 42 light-years away, the exo-solar planet, Henry Draper 40307G has yet to be visited by humanity. That changes, when the Mockingbird arrives with an astronomical survey team. Deploying probes and deep space telescopes, the science team stumbles upon intelligent aliens on sixth planet. Colonel Rama orders the crew onto alert. Captain O’Connell and his Seti team, clash with ISO scientists while studying the surface life. The crew is shocked again, when a derelict spacecraft is found in a Lagrangian Point beyond the planet’s moon. How many S.E.T.I. encounters they face is uncertain.

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An Interview with Author Walt Trizna + Giveaway

Jill Bisker, author of “Within Reach” and the upcoming “Finding the Way Back” stopped by to have a chat with fellow Melange author, Walt Trizna, author of “New Moon Rising” and the new sci-fi novella “Elmo’s Sojourn.”

First, a little about “Elmo’s Sojourn.”

Elmo, a retired scientist, travels through a wormhole to the planet Roth where he helps combat an alien invasion which is menacing the planet.

JILL: Please tell me a little about yourself – Where you come from? What led you to writing?

WALT: I was born and raised in Newark, NJ, but since then lived in the Midwest, LA, Miami and now in Pennsylvania.

I’ve always been an avid reader, feel naked if there is not a book close by.  I began writing poetry in college and pursued that for about thirty years while I pursued a career in science. About 14 years ago I began writing fiction.


JILL: What books and authors influenced your career?

WALT: I’ve read a great deal of science fiction by Arthur C. Clark, Asimov, Ray Bradbury among a host of others.

For horror I’ve read H. P. Lovecraft and Stephen King and Algernon Blackwood.


JILL: Your story, Elmo’s Sojourn, is a space jumping sci-fi story.  Do you write other genres?

WALT: I also write horror and the occasional poem.


JILL: How did you come up with the premise of your story?

WALT: I belong to a writers group, The Wordwrights, and one of the members writes children’s books.  She told us she had to write a story beginning with someone yelling that they have a problem.  Couple that with a Far Side cartoon where a wife is looking from a door down into a cellar.  In the cellar is her husband with the head of a fly.  She’s yelling, “Lunch.  Are you still a fly?”

With that in mind I had intended to write a story, Cellar Science, but enjoyed the story so much that I continued and the result was the novella, Elmo’s Sojourn.


JILL: Your time machine seemed very well thought out – is it based on something in theoretical science.

WALT: The time machine is a product of my imagination.

While I was in college, there was a guy in the dorm who built a tesla coil.  You could pull something like a quarter million volts to your finger, but since the amperage was low, you survived.  I had to get that thing into a story.


JILL: How do you personally relate to your main character in your story?

WALT: I was a scientist for 34 years, but a biologist not a physicist.  I love science and the opportunity it gives you to discover something new, when all the parts of a puzzle suddenly come together.  I share the wonder Elmo has for science.


JILL: How challenging was it to build your alien landscapes and creatures?

WALT: I have a very active imagination so it was really quite easy.  But the creatures changed along the way.  The first creature that comes through Elmo’s machine was going to be the dominant creature on Roth, but of course that changed.  Then Valmid was going to be a sinister being and that changed.  Since I needed some conflict, Gylex came into being and I could just picture what it looked like.


JILL: What theme do you want to convey to your readers?

WALT: I think, as with most science fiction, I want to create adventure and the wonder of the unknown.


JILL: This would make a great series – have you considered writing the next adventure?

WALT: Glad you asked this one, it’s already written.  Elmo’s Invention is a prequel to Elmo’s Sojourn.  In Elmo’s Invention, Elmo is working at Los Alamos and here sets out to build a time machine using an old iron lung, but things do not go as planned.

This novella is longer than Elmo’s Sojourn and still needs a lot of editing, and then out it goes.  I’m sure there will be other stories fermenting in my brain, but they have yet come to the surface.


JILL: What are you working on now?

WALT: Currently, I’m doing a great deal of editing.  I have two novels written but are in need of a rewrite.

The Beast Awaits is the most complete.  It deals with a monster created through stem cell research.  It escapes into the Everglades and its destruction leads to enhanced global warming.  How’s that for ‘hot button’ issues?

Sweet Depression is a novel which is a cross between the work of James Patterson and Robin Cook, a very sinister thriller set in a pharmaceutical company.


JILL: In your point of view, what is the most difficult part of the writing life?

WALT: Imagining story ideas I find to be the easiest part.  The writing can be difficult and the editing is, I find, even more difficult.  But the part of writing I find the most difficult is trying to get the work published.  I agonize over writing query letters.


JILL: Do you outline your stories before you sit down to write?

WALT: For short stories, I mull over the plot before I put pen to paper.  I write all my first drafts by hand.  So when I begin writing the story, it’s already fully formed in my mind.

For novels I use an outline but keep it fluid.  In a steno pad, for each novel, I form an outline to include scenes and dialog when the characters start talking.


JILL: What plans do you have for your writing going into the future?

WALT: If I can publish Sweet Depression I have plans to write at least one sequel.

I’ve also published a short story, Martian Rebirth, which I want to develop into a novel.

And of course, my brain keeps on cranking out short story ideas.

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 About Walt Trizna:

Walt Trizna, a scientist for thirty-four years, is now a full-time writer of horror and science fiction. He has published more than twenty stories, both online and in print. Walt lives in West Chester, PA with his wife, Joni.

Find Walt at Melange:

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About Jill Bisker:

Jill Bisker lives in Stillwater, MN with her husband and a calico cat named Senora. She believes in empowering women to be strong enough to protect themselves, while still soft enough to be loving and compassionate. Her work includes paranormal mystery and traditional high fantasy, as well as contemporary and humorous fantasy and an everyday living blog. Her novella Within Reach is her first publication with Melange. Once a dedicated stay at home Mom, Jill now writes full-time.


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Leave a comment below and enter to win a free ebook copy of “Elmo’s Sojourn.”

Winner will be chosen on March 10, 2014.

Igniting Fire Alive! // Guest Post by John Steiner

 Igniting Fire Alive! 

It licks without a tongue.
It breathes without lungs.
It devours without teeth.
It rages without a heart.
It cannot be frightened.

"Backdraft" (1991)

“Backdraft” (1991)
Photo from IMDB

These are the reason for writing the novel, Fire Alive! As a kid I wasn’t one of those who saw being a “fireman” as something I wanted to do when I grew up. Having seen Backdraft, I started to take interest in the idea that fire might be a living thing of sorts. I brought this up with one of the students at the college, where I work, and he mentioned that he had been in the wildfire service. He told me that the ideal psychology of a firefighter was one of believing the fire to be a living creature that was out to get you. I also realized that there weren’t that many stories which centered on firefighters.

Originally, I planned to write the story as taking place in the present day, but stopped myself. I’m a science fiction writer! Why not have it happen in the future? Who else has done science fiction firefighting other than Ray Bradbury? His firefighters burned books, so I didn’t think that counted. Fire Alive! takes place in the year 2026. It would allow me to toy with technological ideas, and possibly show how fire departments of the future might update their training.

From there, I endeavored myself to cast a story of how real firefighters handle their job using the metaphor of living fire creatures to convey to other people what the job was like. First, as always with my work, was to get the details right. I set about learning about fire suppression tactics, equipment, culture and procedures around firefighting.

An especially lucky find were the YouTube training videos by Captain Dale G. Pekel of the Wauwatosa Fire Department. Along with being a company officer, Captain Pekel is a certified firefighter instructor. His many videos demonstrate how to handle all manner of emergencies, and he shows how to build training props out of low-cost materials. After watching these, I emailed Captain Pekel explaining what I was writing and entailed some ideas I had. He particularly enjoyed my invention of the Ninth Evolution or “Ninth Circle” to the Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus confidence course, which at present has eight evolutions or tests that every firefighter must overcome.

I then decided on the environs for the novel to be set in, and realized that I should pay tribute to a local fire station not far from home. As such, Fire Alive! centers on Salt Lake City’s Station 8. I called that station and asked if I could interview them and get a sense of the station’s layout. The first time I called was interrupted by an alarm that the department had to respond to, which I describe later. The idea of compartment fires, those being fire incidences in enclosed spaces, seemed the most interesting. Urban/suburban fires were also the reason for choosing Station 8, whose zone of operation overlaps these nicely, giving a wide variety of action scenes. For that, I needed more information about combating fires.

Thus, I found, a webpage created by Paul Grimwood, retired firefighter who worked in New York and London, former Principle Fire Safety Design Engineer and currently serves as a Principle Fire Safety Engineer. His website contains a library of articles, many written by Grimwood himself, regarding various fire emergency situations. I still have the notes I took, when studying the websites articles on compartment fires. The basics seemed simple; that every fire needs fuel, air to oxidize and an ignition source.

However, the world is a bigger lab and things get more complicated when entering the Dragon’s Lair. Grimwood’s descriptions of how to read smoke, establishing tactical ventilation and the mechanics of fire behavior had me thinking firefighters faced an enemy akin to John Carpenter’s The Thing. I learned things that truly creeped me out, such as the concept of “Snake Fires.”

Snake Fires are when the smoke, which is unburned fuel, is so dense that it prevents sufficient air for a fire to burn. A room that’s ablaze might appear to be contained from spreading to other compartments. However, as the main fire is being slain by people on the hose line, a streak of combustion could occur along the ceiling. Lacking enough air to reignite the gas billowing over fire crews’ heads, this sinusoidal line of incineration would slither along at random until entering a new room where ample air exists with enough smoke for a new inferno to be born.

"The Thing" (1992)

“The Thing” (1982)
Photo from IMDB

This is likened to a scene in The Thing where the creature’s head detaches itself from the body, as the characters attempt to kill it. That this event had a real world parallel instilled into me more respect for what dangers firefighters face on the job. Of course, there’s also room in storytelling to show when things get really bad, and that sometimes people make mistakes.

In my correspondences with Captain Pekel he sent me a video of the National Firefighter Instructors Association. The speaker was Lieutenant Ray McCormack of NYFD’s Ladder 28. Lt. McCormack brought up the four D’s of firefighting: Dirty, Demanding, Difficult and Dangerous, which he said is how it will always be. There’s nothing wrong with today’s firefighter, Lt. McCormack said, however, he did find fault with some of today’s leadership. In detail, he described a steady drip-drip of safety messages that he believed undermined the most critical asset to any firefighting company, public trust. In this, he described the fact that a fire company might be so focused on safety for the firefighter that they fail to prioritize the safety of the people counting on firefighters to be there when needed most.

In place of the Culture of Safety, Lt. McCormack argues strongly for a Culture of Extinguishment. This led me to add a plot element in Fire Alive! where the main character, Captain Duane “Longhand” Longhurst reflects back on McCormack’s words as one of the firefighters who was in the audience that day. In the novel, Captain Longhurst often receives praise for a rescue of fellow firefighters early in his career. However, Longhurst himself always saw that mission as a failure for one unanticipated fact. Civilians, whose presence wasn’t known during Longhurst’s evacuation of other firefighters, had died just minutes prior to a new rescue team discovering their final whereabouts.

This is the memory that both haunts Captain Longhurst and motivates how he works throughout the story. Longhurst’s occasional discarding of safety protocol in order to save civilians earns his fire battalion the name Crazy Eight, but captures the firefighter motto of, Risk a lot to save a lot, risk little to save little and risk nothing to save nothing.

However, that’s ordinary fire with complexities that might elude those of us not baptized by its fiery wrath. For this novel, I set out to learn how an organism based on fire might come to exist. I looked into particle physics to uncover such things as Superfluidity. I postulated that in certain quantum states particles might convey their kinetic energy, which we experience as heat, in only one direction along their axis of spin.

This allowed me to devise a creature composed of particles that hadn’t formed atoms and didn’t have appreciable mass. Because of their quantum states, infinitesimally thin filaments became the composition of the creature’s body. These Superfluid filaments exist at less than a tenth of a degree above Absolute Zero. However, because of their spin-specific heat convection, the fire creatures were enveloped by temperatures hotter than the surface of the sun. This spin property also allowed me to craft a way that the creatures could absorb heat from fuel sources as a means of eating.

“Fire Alive!” by John Steiner

The title itself, exclamation point included, I came up with as a new emergency code that firefighters would declare when encountering what I called a S.P.O.T. or Self-Propagating Organized Thermotroph. When firefighters encounter Spots in the novel they would declare, “Fire alive, fire alive, fire alive.” This then informs all other first responders on the scene to change their tactics to suit the infernal creatures.

The stage was set, it seemed. However, I still felt that the spirit of firefighting needed to be defined. In my interview of SLC’s Station 8 firefighters there was great emphasis that I learn about the Knights of Malta and the origins of the Maltese Cross. The Maltese Cross has become the symbol of firefighters everywhere. The Knights of Malta arguably were the world’s first fire rescue professionals. During sieges of the crusades the Knights of Malta encountered a new weapon in the form of naphtha, a moderately combustible liquid that Arabic soldiers employed to defend their fortifications. At that moment knights found their mission changed from one of combat to rescuing their fellows from a fiery fury. This became the inspiration for a couple of scenes in Fire Alive!, one of which is Longhurst’s dream before waking up to the sound of a station alarm.

Equally important to American firefighters was the Irish symbolism that pervades firefighter culture. When Irish immigrants came to America they encountered bigotry that tends to be aimed at every new wave of peoples who choose to become Americans. The shamrock was a code that let Irish know they could find work without discrimination. For the story, I decided to advance this proud history by including Hispanic firefighters facing similar injustices.

A number of other social and political issues entered into the novel, which is something I find myself compelled to do in all my works. Living in Utah, I saw a chance to highlight issues that I believe Utahans need to address as a civic body and as a culture. Furthermore, because I find soldiers’ stories fascinating, I included a second main character who is a veteran of America’s war with Iran. Malcolm O’Connell, who in the story is a probationary firefighter fresh from the academy, was injured in the line of duty in the U.S. Army. His background allowed me to splice political issues into one of the most prevailing themes of science fiction. O’Connell is the beneficiary of technological and genetic enhancement from an Army Medical Corps program code named C.A.R.E. or Combat Augmentation and Recuperative Engineering.

It was my belief that the near-sociopathic urge to destroy the social contract of civilization would lead to a bill that forbids the government from paying for veterans’ healthcare. Forces into a voucher system, veterans become the latest prey by opportunistic private enterprise. This was a fictional legislative test bed that might well become the forerunner to dismantling Medicare and Medicare, despite the fact that the United States had a history of government run healthcare dating back to 1897.

The Army Medical Corps and Pentagon officials realize that outlawing government healthcare for vets would be its own national security crisis. Who would enlist if they knew that any injury meant they would be discarded as if their lives were cheap and disposable? The C.A.R.E. acronym is meant to imply that it’s a weapons program, which both parties are just in love with, but in fact is a clever way to break an unjust law and do right by those who put their lives on the line. I merged two real life Pentagon agendas, the Future Force Warrior Project and the Wounded Warriors Program.

My argument for its justification dates back to the earliest tool-using hominid, that of Homo erectus. The shaped stone that anthropologists call a hand-axe represented to me the first cybernetic augmentation technology. In place of sharp teeth or claws, we used inanimate stone to grant ourselves powers otherwise not bestowed onto us by evolution. Whether it was clothing, crutches, a peg leg, having a hook on the stump from a lost hand or today’s artificial joints and organs; human augmentation was always with us. I proposed through one of my characters that the C.A.R.E. Program was simply the next chapter in human progress. There is potential for misuse and abuse, even the emergence of monstrosities, however, I wanted to show readers how well-meaning justification might lead to such advances that many find abhorrent. It’s why Probationary Firefighter Malcolm O’Connell becomes the second most important character in Fire Alive!

However, he is just on probationary status at Station 8, which brings me back to that fire phone call I made to today’s Station 8. A signature of any fire station is their warped, even morbid sense of humor. I proposed an initiation prank that would befall Malcolm O’Connell on his first day on the job. I mentioned this to the firefighters I interviewed, and they agreed that it seemed like something their brothers would pull on a new guy coming into the station.

Then, their captain described to me the event which interrupted my first attempt to schedule an interview and tour of the station house. The newest firefighter at Station 8 was having his first day on the job. His first call was a Dead On Arrival scene, where the victim had passed away quite some time before anyone thought to call for help. Engine 8’s crews found the victim in a state of rigor mortis. The company captain insisted that the “Probie” [short for probationary firefighter] check for signs of life anyway. The probie described all the sounds of dead tissue straining and creaking, as he forced the mouth open and pressed the tongue down for a clear airway. He then made a plea for the dead woman to not open her eyes, while he put his ear to her mouth in order to look, listen and feel for any sign of breathing. His company got a good chuckle out of his momentary fear of a zombie plague Patient Zero. From their recounting, I realized that I needed to brush up on my firefighter humor. Those guys at Station 8 are way ahead of me in that department.

With all that firefighters face, the culture requires coping skills the likes of which we fiction authors might never contemplate as part of great storytelling. In writing Fire Alive! I wanted to write a novel that firefighters wouldn’t be disappointed in. At the same time this novel is geared toward allowing other untrained civilians like me to get a peek into the world of Old Man Fire and those who dedicate themselves to slaying dragons.

I hope you enjoy reading Fire Alive! as much as I had in writing it.

Fire. The light by we tell our stories and mythic tales. It kept the night at bay for hundreds of thousands of years. It guided humanity’s migrations across the globe, and became mankind’s first weapon of mass destruction.

What if fire developed a mind of its own?

Fire Alive!

-John Steiner

Author John Steiner

About The Author

John Steiner earned his Associate of Biology at Salt Lake Community College, where he is currently working as a tutor in math and chemistry. He exercises an avid interest in history, science, philosophy, mythology, martial arts as well as military tactics and technology.


We’re giving away a free ebook copy of “Tampered Tales” by John Steiner! Winner may choose PDF, HTML, or Kindle format.

“Tampered Tales” by John Steiner

About the book:

Theme I: The Other is a Mirror into Ourselves

The storyteller is an honest liar, for they admit fully to their fiction. However, a tale can be false, yet tell us the truth. For while the adventure speaks of “The Other,” it reflects back upon us what we know to be within ourselves.

Wry Folk
Oh, the age of innocence. A time in childhood where you could clap your hands and say “I believe in fairies.”Then one such creature is found, only it’s not a fairy and definitely not from this world. Six year old Jesse and her mother quickly learn that things which appear small, harmless and cute potentially bring with them more than one world’s worth of trouble into the house. The binding ties of any civilization of any planet are that they fiercely protect their young and seek their safe return at all costs.

Red Rover, Red Rover
People of the Earth had only their own eyes through which to see themselves. That all changes when the technological eyes of an alien probe comes to our planet in study of the local inhabitants around the world. What future lays ahead of Homo sapiens depends on streams of sensor data and number crunching of the undetectable and seemingly innocent Red Rover.

Four Days in Backwater
The Great Coyote chase to build the first faster than light vessel over, America’s U.S.S. Roadrunner is the third place design out of four nations. Yet it is first in FTL speed. It is also the first FTLV to discover traces of civilizations in other solar systems. The crew of U.S.S. Roadrunner are in awe of the aliens they meet, and take precautions the best human minds advise. However, the aliens see under privileged wayward yokels needing to be humored and humbled. Here Homo sapiens discovers all their theories of first contact fall flat on bad premises and do nothing but give the employees of Planet Copan’s truck stop a good laugh.

Small Time
With new technology comes many uses. Some constructive or even lifesaving. Others for great harm and to satiate personal ambitions. Many often end up what hobbyists tinker with in the garage. Others still become the expression of mischief. In Todd’s day hacking long since departed the digital world and entered into the very physical realm of biology. DNA became the new code to write and manipulate. Small Time racing of “mini-mounts” drew talent from all corners to be applied to a myriad of species. All bred to small stature, yet still strong enough to carry a rider heavier than they. Todd also dabbled in “Jacking” with a G of genetic code to wage a harmless war of ridicule against the corporate world. He fit the bill of real bioterrorists all too easy, even if it was clear to the authorities he didn’t do it.


Theme II: In Dreams, Thus Speaks the Universe

When the universe so commands, the story writes the author. Such tales come to us as we sleep, waking us with the urge to reveal what was shown us when our closed eyes rapidly darted from side-to-side.

Encyclopedia Capella
We think of autism as a rare affliction brought onto few among us. In Mr. Ency’s world nearly everyone, including Ency himself, exhibit the condition. A distant colony finds itself inextricably sinking into the proverbial sands of their desolate desert planet. Being an habitual encyclopedist cursed with such keen attention to absolutely everything around him Mr. Ency can’t help but record all of it. But it’s what lives in the wild dunes between cities that will test him and everyone else aboard one of the great hover ships cruising over burning sands.

The Rez
Most American Indians have had live in two worlds. Whether they grew up on The Rez or, like Randy Crowfeather, constituted “City Indians.” Believing that service as a Navy Seal prepared Randy for anything, he would discover how wrong he was. When the bodies of mutilated white people show up during one of Randy’s frequent visits with grandfather there came with it a tragic family past to be confronted. It is said that all Indians must, at some point in their lives, make a choice.

Dimensional Cloister
All parents hold their children up as being special and destine for great achievements. In Aziz’s time the scale of greatness would span across the entire multiverse. Brought to a school for gifted children, Aziz learns he isn’t the only little boy who can send his mind slide back and forth along the temporal threads of his life. Now he’s to learn how to save humanity from extra-dimensional parasites that unravel the very existence of their hosts throughout all time.

Suppose you lived your life all wrong. Imagine that because of bad decisions or even inadvertent choices prior to death your soul had been condemned to hell. Then what…? A tale of learning coping skills no living spirit would need in order to accept and accommodate an afterlife of deafening horror and blinding pain lasting eternity.

Theme III: Conjure Me A Tale

The act of storytelling is a form of sorcery. The teller casts a spell upon their audience in summoning up tales that never happened, yet impact the reader as if they had lived the adventure.

Just because you’ve studied sorcery for more than fifty years doesn’t make you a sorcerer, Eric’s master, Iccabazzi had said. Were it so easy sorcerers would be everywhere. The power of magic remained an external tool to him. To BE that power and have it within him as the air he breathed Eric needed to face the challenge of the dragon. Only it could make sorcerers of mere mortals. It more often made smoldering ash of those who failed.

Counting Coup
We’ve all heard the story of Custer’s Last Stand, and in recent years we learned the more accurate sequence of events as told by Crow scouts working alongside the U.S. Cavalry. Suppose there’s yet more to tell. Most armies pray for divine intervention in battle. With the arrival of a Manitou, a spirit of the Earth, one side will receive that aid in their darkest hour.

Arrows of Winter
Sure, being a diplomat in a feudal age can be tough in any civilization. On an alien arctic world harboring two indigenous species, one avian the other a rather out-of-place serpentine people, the rules of victory and defeat don’t change. The prince whom Ayawa served had to pay tribute to another kingdom who staked victory over his air forces in battle. Part of that tribute would take more than questing for the famed Redsmiths and healers of the serpentine Fshajar. It required that Ayawa learn nobility isn’t only bestowed at hatching, but is also earned though noble acts.

To Drop A Bead
Carl Bohonowicz struggled with more than simply getting people to say his name right. As the police department negotiator he didn’t quite seem suited to the job, and possibly the reassignment was a punishment as well as a leash. Then came the Randal Ivison hostage case. We all wear masks. How much they hide and what they let through are the only true differences.

Theme IV: Too True to be Real, Yet Was Lived

Bride of the Blackbird
On the first day of summer, 2010 a small neurotic songbird wages mono a mono war against an equally dark clad talking ape to defend The Misses and their beloved nest of hatchlings. An absolutely true tale of nature’s comedy in the style of the great humorist himself, James Thurber.