Michael M. Farnsworth
Title of book and/or series:
Brief summary of the story:
When Skylar’s enigmatic uncle warns him to stay away from the mysterious winged insects that have been sighted on other planets, he thinks little of it; no one has seen the insects on their own planet of Haladras. His uncle knows more than he’s telling, though. The creatures are not insects, but machines. And they’re hunting for Skylar. Only after Skylar narrowly escapes capture and flees Haladras with his uncle does he learn the whole truth. What his uncle reveals will shatter Skylar’s world. Torn from the girl he loves and thrust into the center of a conflict that will consume the empire, Skylar must fight for all he cares for, even as he struggles to know who he can trust.
Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
Haladras is the principle planet for this story—hence the name. It’s a small desert planet, whose entire economy is driven by teryleum mining. Though small, because of its vast production of teryleum, it plays an increasingly vital role in the empire of which it is a part.
If we were to visit Haladras as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
Haladras is a harsh place. Men do not go there to live long comfortable lives. There is little time for leisure. Its mining units are utilitarian. However, if given the chance to see it, the Gorge of Kaladra is a spectacular sight when it’s lit up at night.
What dangers should we avoid in Haladras?
The sun. The deep desert. Sand storms. Drake Blacksands. Most of all, the Trackers.
Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in Haladras?
Like their cities, the people’s food serves one purpose: to sustain life. Food which spoils easily is of little use. They mostly eat grains, legumes, and dried meats.
What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in Haladras?
The blaster is the most common and efficient weapon. But there are some who still carry swords.
What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Haladras?
Few people on Haladras are wealthy enough to own a spacecraft. Most buy passage on large spacecrafts to travel between planets. On Haladras itself, sand rovers and transports are commonly used to get about the desert. Among the younger citizenry, the personal flying devices called jetwings are popular. If you find yourself on one of the planets with a more habitable climate, you might end up riding on the back of a shaggy-haired paqua.
What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in Haladras that we don’t see on Earth?
Though you won’t find them on Haladras, paquas do make several appearances in the story. Their most prominent feature is their long shaggy hair, which is often shorn and woven into a coarse fabric. Primarily used as beasts of burden, their gait is slow and lazy.
What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in Haladras?
None, practically. Though, the main character will have a few brushes with the supernatural during his adventures.
Is there any advanced or unusual technology in Haladras? If you haven’t described it already, please give some examples.
Yes. Early in the book, synthetic osteoclasts—nanomolecular agents—are used to rapidly mend a cracked skull.
The jetwing utilizes an invisible coupling link which acts as a sort of wing between the two hand-held jet thrusters. This enables an individual to fly with his arms outstretched, as if he were a plane or a soaring eagle.
Tell us about any sports, games, or activities that are available for entertainment in Haladras.
Teenage boys love to play Orb Scram, a game involving jetwings and a levitating sphere. There’s also sand sailing that can be done out on the dunes on a windy evening.
Are the days of the week and months of the year the same in Haladras as on Earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there?
The measure of years is reckoned by the length of the current monarch’s reign. Months are measured by the phases of its own moons.
Is there a particular religion practiced in Haladras? Please describe what it involves.
Under the current monarch’s reign, religion in the empire has withered. Some still believe in a Spirit King, who rules over the dead. Some believe he also has power in the mortal realm. But there is no active religion practiced on Haladras. The largest contingency of believers are the priests which live isolated on the frozen planet of Kyndoo Yavi.
What is the political or government structure in Haladras? Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?
The Ahlderion empire is ruled by a king. Each official planet of the empire is governed directly by a lord. These lords pledge fidelity to the king, but are bestowed a significant amount of discretion when it comes to operating the affairs of their people. Haladras being a colonial planet, is overseen by a viceroy, who has significantly less power than a lord. The current viceroy of Haladras is Viceroy Aberforce. Generally, he is a prudent leader. Proud, but spineless.
Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
On Quoryn, one of the nearest planets to Haladras, there are lush forests with towering moss-strewn trees. These were inspired by the magnificent forests of the Pacific Northwest, where I live.
Michael M. Farnsworth holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Texas A&M University. A degree that comes in handy if you’re a software engineer, which he is, but not so much if you’re a writer. As a native Texan, he should know lots about riding horses and herding cattle—but he doesn’t. He does, however, know a good deal about wrangling small children. He has four of them. When he’s not wrangling children, writing code or writing books, he’s probably building something. He lives with his wife and children in Seattle, WA.
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