Welcome to Realm Explorers!  In this weekly series, we visit a variety of unique worlds created by talented science fiction and fantasy authors.  Enjoy your travels!  And don’t forget to read to the bottom of the post to find out more about each author and see how to purchase the featured book. 

Author’s name:

Neal James
Title of book and/or series:
The Rings of Darelius
Brief summary of the story:

Darelius – a planet in crisis with its civilisation facing the treat of extinction from a virus to which it has no natural defence.
The Darelian people had not been at war for many generations, but now faced not one, but two threats, as a warlike neighbour lay in the wings, awaiting its opportunity.
The only hope of salvation lay in a cure derived from the flora of a primitive planet in the Orion System – eighty light years distant.
It all began on Balan – a planet at war, and also facing its own apocalypse – hundreds of years in Darelius’ past.

Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
Darelius- second planet in the Arthrelian System. Mass 5.2413 x 1024Kg. Volume 1.0652098×1017km³, Circumference 3.865977×107m. Atmosphere 75% nitrogen, 22% oxygen, 3% carbon dioxide and other minor gases. Surface Pressure 100.05kPa.
Its population of just under 1billion had been stabilised for many generations and was spread evenly across a planet of dramatically contrasting climatic zones. From the frozen wastes of its polar expanses to the sultry regions of its tropical paradises, much care had been taken by its inhabitants in preserving a delicate ecological balance.
Culturally, it was, and had been for many millennia, diverse and tolerant. History had revealed alternatives too appalling, and its races had long since thrown off the xenophobia which had dogged earlier times. Politically it was a model of democracy, and a planet-wide federation ensured that, as well as guaranteeing individual freedoms, there was a collective mentality of co-operation and tranquillity.
Magnanimous in their attitudes towards friends, the Darelian people were, nevertheless, unafraid to stand up against tyranny and injustice. They had not been at war for many generations.
Orbited at its Equator by a ring system of stunning beauty, it was the jewel of the Arthrelian system.
The threat of extinction had come out of the black void of space with no warning.
Distance from Earth: approximately 80 light years.
If we were to visit Darelius as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
The rings – a halo of stunning beauty viewed clearly on approach with the Arthrelian solar system. Touchdown would reveal a planet of physical and sociological beauty; the Darelian people, comfortable in their democracy and unafraid of welcoming strangers, is a race at peace with itself, and the traveler is quickly absorbed into its cultural make-up.
What dangers should we avoid on Darelius?
Not in Darelius itself, but it its neighbours, the Kolkats. Whilst it would be unusual for the traveler to the Arthrelian System to be molested by these barbaric and warlike creatures as a result of Darelian protection, it has not been unknown for their hostility towards Darelius to manifest itself in accosting strangers crossing their path.
Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served on Darelius?
No – the Darelians are travelers amongst the stars and, as a result of visits to an Earth many millennia ago, much of the flora and fauna found on our own planet owes much of its genetic make-up to colonization by species from the Darelian world.
What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common on Darelius?
The Darelian people, whilst adopting a peaceful style of existence, are not afraid to stand up for their beliefs, and as such have an arsenal of advanced weaponry at their disposal. Sonic and laser ordnance far in advance of anything on Earth is readily available. Fighting styles and martial arts, transplanted to Earth in it distant past would be very familiar to the casual traveler.
What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Darelius?
Vehicular transport has surpassed the dirty fossil fuel technology prevalent on Earth. Power systems based on clean, renewable sources which power high capacity and low output electrical propulsion would be familiar to 21st century Terrans. As pointed out, flora and fauna are of similar genetic structure to that of Earth. Technologically, the Darelians are far in advance of anything available on Earth, and they are able to travel, many times faster than light, as a result of the discovery and harnessing of the Graviton – a particle unknown to their counterparts on our planet in any practical form.
What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter on Darelius that we don’t see on Earth?
Flora and fauna have developed in slightly different ways on Darelius, but bearing in mind that the chemical structure of the planet, and the similarity of its Star, Arthrelia, to our own sun allows for evolution in a strikingly consistent manner, any differences are fairly cosmetic and due more to slight variations in climatic conditions across the planet.
What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people on Darelius?  If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used.
The Darelian people are pragmatic and realistic on their approach to life. They are a scientific race whose belief systems are based firmly in what is provable. Their culture has, apart from references to the religions of its neighbours, no place for magic, superstition or the supernatural.
Tell us about any sports, games, or activities that are available for entertainment on Darelius.
A race at peace, and with much time to devote to leisure and the arts, Darelian entertainment systems and facilities are very similar to those now maturing on Earth. As a consequence, their choices of relaxation activities are more widespread and varied than those which we enjoy. However, the basic rules remain the same, whilst the games etc have developed to a higher level of sophistication – there is no room for violence in any of their leisure regimes.
Are the days of the week and months of the year the same on Darelius as on Earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there?
The Darelian calendar works in a very similar way to that of Earth. The seasons vary with the same axial angle as that of our planet, and the Darelian day is 30 hours – very close to that of the Earth. There is the same number of days in a weekly period, but there are only ten months in a Darelian year. The holidays on Darelius are not fixed to specific events such as Bank Holidays in the UK or Labor Day and Thanksgiving in the USA – the attitude to taking time away from work is much more fluid.
Is there a particular religion practiced on Darelius?  Please describe what it involves.
The Darelian people evolved away from all forms of religious idolatry many millennia in their past. Their attitudes towards social integration are focused more on the needs of the peoples who inhabit the planet rather than towards any needs of a spiritual kind. This has been the main reason for their lack of internecine conflict for as long as anyone can discern.
What is the political or government structure on Darelius?  Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?
Darelius is a federation of states which grew from a tribal system in its distant past. At its head sits a democratically elected President supported by a US-style Congress of representatives. Raymond Challis is the leader of a liberal coalition of members from a variety of political persuasions, and he runs the government of the planet supported by a second tier of continental sub-parliaments. He is a benign and understanding head of state who is, nonetheless, unafraid to confront tyranny from which ever quarter it may come.
Are there any other unique cultural practices that we should be aware of if we visit Darelius?
Since the Darelians, in their past, were visitors to a number of other galaxies including our own, it is reasonable to assume that some of their culture remained after departure. Any Earth visitor would therefore find much about Darelian society and its philosophy to compare to that ‘back home’.
Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
The final part of ‘The Rings of Darelius’ is set in Derby, a city in England ten miles from my home, and a place where I have worked. I am therefore familiar with the geography of the place I use for the critical phase of the plot. The cultures of the main players in the story are influenced by my reading of a number of science fiction stories, and the watching of a variety of films/TV series. Among the writers are Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert and Arthur C. Clarke. Of the visual inspirations, I relied heavily on Gene Roddenberry’s ‘Star Trek’ series in all of its formats.
What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
War and inter-racial conflict are two of the more violent subject dealt with, and I found it important to maintain a balance to ensure that the ‘good guys’ didn’t always win a particular battle whilst ensuring that the end of the conflict came down on the ‘correct’ side.
Author Autobiography:
Neal James is a UK author of crime fiction. He is a prolific short story writer turned novelist. ‘The Rings of Darelius’ is his first venture into the world of science fiction, and his seventh book in as many years. He lives in Derbyshire with his wife and family.
Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your book(s)? 
The Rings of Darelius, as with all of my books, is available in both hard copy and digital format. It can be bought direct from the publisher, Lulu.com in paperback at:
and from Amazon on both sides of the Atlantic on paperback and on the Kindle.
It is also listed by Barnes & Noble in paperback, but should be available also on the Nook later this year.
Where can readers connect with you online? 

I hope you all enjoyed the trip to Darelius.  Questions about the world or the book?  Ask them in the comments and the author will get back to you!  

Click here to read other posts in the Realm Explorers series.

Please join us again next Monday for a trip to another world, in Realm Explorers Part LXXVI!
-Annie Douglass Lima