The Space Pirate’s Legacy

As of today, all rights for the so-called “Old Star/New Earth” series have been reverted to me from Lachesis Publishing. This includes my novels The Solar Sea, The Pirates of Sufiro, Children of the Old Stars, and Heirs of the New Earth. For the time being, this means that ebook editions are no longer available and the only print copies available are copies retailers have in stock, or used copies.

It’s a little sad to see these titles go out of print, but in the long run, I think this will be for the best. Also, I should mention that Lachesis did offer to renew my contracts, but I’m the one who terminated them, not because I’m unhappy with Lachesis, but because I think the time has come for new editions of these books. In fact, I still have three titles with Lachesis: The Astronomer’s Crypt, Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order, and Vampires of the Scarlet Order. I still have a good relationship with them and nothing but respect and goodwill toward the company.

To better explain the reason I terminated my contracts, I should step back and give you some history. All four of these novels were originally acquired and published by LBF Books. Lachesis Publishing acquired LBF and Lachesis itself has gone through a couple of ownership changes since then.

When I sold The Pirates of Sufiro and Children of the Old Stars to LBF, they asked me for a series title. The obvious title to me at the time was “The Cluster series” because the series is about solving the mystery of the alien known as the “the Cluster.” The problem is that a series of that title already existed and I wanted to avoid confusion. So, in a rush to come up with something, I called it “The Old Star Saga” based on the title of the second book. I never was happy with the title but LBF’s editorial team didn’t question it, so it stuck.

Another issue was that I was not satisfied with the ebook editions generated soon after ebooks started taking off in popularity. The books were converted directly from the PDF files using optical character recognition software. The work was adequate for the time, but the process introduced numerous typos and formatting errors. I spoke to the current owners a while back about correcting these editions and they decided the errors weren’t serious enough to warrant the work needed to make corrections.

Finally, The Solar Sea was never intended to be part of this series. I wrote it as a standalone novel set in the same universe, but much earlier in time. Despite that, Lachesis marketed The Solar Sea as “Book 4,” which I think created some confusion.

So, by getting the rights to these books back, I hope to correct these issues. Over the coming months, I plan to re-edit the books and put out new editions through my company, Hadrosaur Productions. Since publishing the Old Star Saga, I’ve written numerous short stories featuring Captain Firebrandt of The Pirates of Sufiro. I want to put those stories together in a standalone book. To my mind, it makes sense that this new book should be “Book 1” of the rebranded series.

The revised series will be called “The Space Pirate’s Legacy Series” because it’s about Captain Firebrandt and his descendants. There’s also a play on the fact that Firebrandt’s ship is the Legacy. My goal in the re-edit will simply be to correct faults, update the science, improve the prose a bit, and clarify some things. If you already have the original editions, I don’t want you to feel you need to buy the updates unless you just want to! And of course, there will be a whole new book 1.

I want to take a moment and thank everyone who has read these books, written reviews, and shared them. Later this year, I’ll share ways you can help with the revised series. There will be opportunities to help shape the revisions, bonus perks and more pirate loot to come! I hope you’ll join me for this exciting voyage to the galaxy’s far side and back!

Collimating WIYN

About a week ago, I was assigned the task of collimating the primary mirror on the WIYN 3.5-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory. Large telescopes like the WIYN work by using large mirrors to collect and focus light from distant stars onto a camera or a spectrograph. When the telescope is disassembled for regular maintenance, the mirrors have to be precisely realigned so that we get the very best possible image quality. Here you see a photo of me with my daughters in front of the WIYN primary and tertiary mirrors.

With Daughters at WIYN

Although I work with optical telescopes all the time, my specialties are more in the electrical and mechanical aspects of telescopes than with the optics, so this precision job was, to be honest, pretty scary. Sure, I’d helped the site engineer collimate the telescope plenty of times, but this time he left me with a set of instructions and went off to bed. I did my best, followed the instructions and everything seemed to go well. It was especially gratifying over the next three nights when the visiting astronomers reported getting half-arcsecond images. What that means is that stars subtended no more than half a second of arc on the sky, which is pretty tiny. That also means we’re minimizing the blurring one would expect to see from the atmosphere. I have to say, it’s the kind of thing that makes me feel pretty good.

The whole idea of characters being challenged to do new things they didn’t think they could do is an important part of my fiction. Recently, in Lightning Wolves, Larissa Crimson is challenged to find a way to make a set of unwieldy lightning guns portable enough to be practical in combat. She’s not sure if she has the skills necessary to do the job, but she gives it a shot and finds a solution.

WIYN’s newest instrument is a camera called the One-Degree Imager. It’s a camera that takes pictures of a large swath of the sky at high resolution, which means you can see things at great detail. If the telescope mirrors are misaligned, the camera cannot take pictures with the kind of detail it was designed for. So, the litmus test for the alignment exercise came this past Monday, when an observer took images of globular clusters with the One-Degree Imager. She also reported half-arcsec images, much like in the photo below. This photo, by the way, was taken with WIYN, but with the old mini-Mosaic camera before the One-Degree Imager was implemented.

A.Saha (NOAO)/WIYN/NOAO/NSF

A.Saha (NOAO)/WIYN/NOAO/NSF

Globular clusters such as the one shown above, are immense balls of ancient stars that orbit our galaxy. As it turns out, they feature prominently in my Old Star/New Earth series. Those novels are:

The ebook of the first novel is free. The paperback editions feature wonderful illustrations by Laura Givens. So, why don’t you start an epic voyage to the stars today!

Lachesis Has a New Website

Lachesis Publishing, publisher of my Old Star/New Earth series and the Scarlet Order Vampire series recently unveiled their new website. I think it looks great! This week, I’ll tell you a little about each book in the Old Star/New Earth series and provide the updated link where you can buy either a print book or an ebook. All of these books are on sale and The Pirates of Sufiro is free! Next week, I’ll do the same for the Scarlet Order Vampire novels.

Old Star/New Earth Series

The Solar Sea

Late in the twenty-first century, humans had settled the Moon and satellites orbiting the Earth were a common sight, but with the abolition of NASA, humans had no desire to go further and space exploration died. Then, a technician from the Very Large Array, a radio telescope in New Mexico, discovered powerful particles orbiting Saturn’s moon, Titan, which could be a new energy source. Strangely enough, following the discovery’s announcement, whales around the Earth changed their songs overnight.

As scion of the powerful Quinn Corporation, Thomas Quinn builds a solar sail to find the source of these particles in Titan’s orbit. He gathers the best and brightest team to pilot his craft: Jonathan Jefferson, an aging astronaut known as the last man on Mars; Natalie Freeman, a distinguished Navy captain; Myra Lee, a biologist specializing in whale communication; and John O’Connell, the technician who first discovered the particles. All together they make a grand tour of the solar system and discover not only wonders but dangers beyond their imagination.

The Solar Sea is a prequel to the Old Star/New Earth trilogy.

Click here to see The Solar Sea at Lachesis Publishing.


The Pirates of Sufiro

The Pirates of Sufiro is the story of a planet and its people—of Ellison Firebrandt the pirate captain living in exile; of Espedie Raton, the con-man looking to make a fresh start for himself and his wife on a new world; of Peter Stone, the ruthless bank executive who discovers a fortune and will do anything to keep it; and of the lawman, Edmund Ray Swan who travels to Sufiro seeking the quiet life but finds a dark secret. It is the story of privateers, farmers, miners, entrepreneurs, and soldiers—all caught up in dramatic events and violent conflicts that will shape the destiny of our galaxy.

The Pirates of Sufiro is Book 1 of the Old Star/New Earth trilogy.

Click here to see The Pirates of Sufiro at Lachesis Publishing.


Children of the Old Stars

The Cluster is a vast alien machine that destroys starships indiscriminately in its quest for something or someone. Commander John Mark Ellis, disgraced and booted out of the service when he fails to save a merchant ship, believes the key to stopping the Cluster is communication. His mother, Suki Firebrandt Ellis is a historian who believes the very leaders of the galaxy are withholding information about the Cluster. Clyde McClintlock believes the Cluster is God incarnate, seeking retribution. G’Liat is an alien warrior whose own starship was destroyed by the Cluster. All together, they set out to solve the mystery of the Cluster before it finds the object of its quest.

Children of the Old Stars is book 2 of the Old Star/New Earth trilogy.

Click here to see Children of the Old Stars at Lachesis Publishing.


Heirs of the New Earth

The Earth has gone silent. John Mark Ellis and the crew of the Sanson are sent to investigate. When they arrive, they find vast alien machines known as Clusters in orbit. Fearing the worst, they land and discover that the once overcrowded, polluted Earth has become a paradise of sorts. The problem is over half the population is dead or missing and the planet’s leaders don’t seem to care. As Ellis works to unravel the mystery, sudden gravitational shifts from the galaxy’s center indicate something even worse is in the offing. Can Ellis save the galaxy from the heirs of the new Earth?

Heirs of the New Earth is book 3 of the Old Star/New Earth trilogy.

Click here to see Heirs of the New Earth at Lachesis Publishing.

Web log – November 24, 2012

First off, I hope all of my readers here in the United States had a Happy Thanksgiving this week. For me, this has been a pretty remarkable week. On Monday, my publisher emailed me to say they had reduced the price of Children of the Old Stars—the second novel of the Old Star/New Earth series—to 99 cents. They also said the novel was going to be featured in the Bookbub Newsletter.

Sales of the book picked up nicely at Amazon that day. Also, since it was book two of the series, people began downloading book one—The Pirates of Sufiro—which is free. The result was quite pleasant. For most of this week, I have been on Amazon’s list of the 100 bestselling authors in Science Fiction.

As I watched all this happen, I realized people who had downloaded the book, or discovered me from the bestselling author list, might want to learn more about me by visiting my website. As such, I took a good hard look at davidleesummers.com and realized that it had been far too long since I had updated some of the pages, including the front page, which is the first impression people will have.

Now, my website has been around for a while. It will be 20 years old next year. When I first built it, the “Information Superhighway” was a shiny, new concept. So, I dubbed my little stop on that highway as a “wrong turn” right from the outset, because often the most interesting stops are the ones you never intended to visit! I have taken the website through several upgrades in 20 years and done my best to keep it up to date, but it’s easy to get used to one’s own website. I needed to evaluate the site with a fresh eye, and that brings us to the subject of this week’s post.

The word blog is a contraction of the words “web log.” Web logs were the place where system administrators would record changes made to a web site. However, some system administrators would use the web log as a place to talk about philosophy, their favorite TV show, or their favorite game. Eventually other people began using this web logging software to post their own thoughts and thus modern blogging was born.

Today, I’m taking the blog back to its roots and recording the updates to my website!

First off, I took a good hard look at the first page. I realized that at first glance, it was not clear what kind of website you had landed on. It was too wordy. So, I streamlined and better organized the text. This allowed me to move the Amazon widget that displays my books into a better position. I also added a few of the reviews people have given my books to the first page. My goal has been to make it clear that you have landed on an author’s site while retaining the kind of retro-future look to the site that I believe characterizes much of my writing. I also wanted it to be welcoming and inviting, encouraging a visitor to look around.

I’ve done a pretty good job of maintaining my pages that tell about my novels, short stories, and show my events calendar, so I did very little work on those pages.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve realized people have taken a real interest in my astronomy work. To that end, I put a lot of attention into sprucing up the astronomy page. I added a couple of recent photos and made them clickable so you can see them full size. I also added more detail about my astronomy background including some links to places where I’ve worked. Finally, I updated my publication list with this year’s new supernova paper that I contributed to.

I then moved on to the bio page. Sadly, I had let that page get very outdated. I also realized that it was very clunky looking with three old photos of me. Those photos were fun to see, but they were a bit outdated. I updated the text, updated the photo, and included links where you can find me online and interact with me.

Finally, I took a look at the links page. I discovered a number of dead links and saw that the format was not really conducive to easy navigation. So, I cleaned up the page, removed the dead links, and added a few new ones. Just to note, I take this list of links very seriously. My goal is to link to people and organizations who my readers would also find appealing. Some friends were left off, for example, simply because I didn’t think we had a strong overlap in potential readers. I also wanted to keep the list manageably short so people could use it as a good jumping off point to explore more. So, if you’re a friend and don’t see yourself there, don’t take it personally. Ideally, I’ll come back in a few months and shuffle the list around and add some different links just to keep it fresh. We’ll see if I actually manage to do that!

You’ll likely notice that I kept much of the “highway” theme going as a tribute to the site’s history. After all, we’re coming up on the 20th anniversary. It would be a shame to dump it now. In 2014, I’ll take a fresh look at the site’s place on the Information Superhighway and decide if it needs another makeover.

So please, drop by davidleesummers.com, explore and let me know what you think. I’m hoping you’ll find some of these changes fun and informative.

Children of the Old Stars

Children of the Old Stars is the sequel to The Pirates of Sufiro. In The Pirates of Sufiro a mysterious and powerful alien called the Cluster began destroying space vessels for no apparent reason. In Children of the Old Stars, Captain John Mark Ellis embarks on a quest to determine just what the Cluster is. The woman on the cover is Ellis’s mother Suki Firebrandt Ellis, who plays an integral part in the quest.

As Children of the Old Stars opens, Captain John Mark Ellis and the crew of the destroyer Firebrandt attempt to rescue a civilian ship threatened by the Cluster. They fail and Ellis has to make the choice of taking a demotion or leaving the fleet. He decides that he can continue his quest better if he leaves the fleet. He joins a warrior/philosopher from the planet Rd’dyggia and a human who is convinced that the Cluster is God incarnate on the quest.

I grew up watching Star Trek and loved the exploits of Captain Kirk and the Starship Enterprise. As a teen, I discovered that Gene Roddenberry was influenced by the Horatio Hornblower novels of C.S. Forester. Around the same time, I also encountered the John Grimes novels of A. Bertram Chandler. Unlike Captain Kirk, who was always a staunch defender of the Federation, Grimes’s career made a detour when he resigned from the service. I loved the idea of a captain who wasn’t perfect, who might have a tarnished record, or might leave his position because of a principle. That’s where John Mark Ellis came from.

When I wrote the novel, the working title was Children of Chaos. It was an allusion to the Titans of Greek Mythology who sprang from chaos. Once the book was finished, though, I discovered I wasn’t the first person to have conceived that title. The final title is a more literal description of the alien machine called the Cluster.

To step back a little bit, astronomers divide stars into two “generations.” Newer stars like the sun are called Population I stars. Old stars like you might find in Globular Clusters or the hearts of galaxies are called Population II stars. The alien known as the Cluster is a product of those old stars. I’ll leave the details for people to discover, if they choose to read the novel!

One other piece of astronomy trivia from this novel, Ellis’s encounter with the Cluster at the beginning of the novel happens around a binary star called 1E1919+0427. It turns out that I’m one of the people who discovered that star is an eclipsing binary. I published the results in The Astronomical Journal in 1997.

Finally, I’ll note that one of the most frustrating novels I’ve ever read is From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne. The reason it’s frustrating is that he ends the novel on a cliffhanger. I did the same thing with Children of the Old Stars. If I had it to do all over again, I would have wrapped things up more neatly. But part of the issue is that I felt I needed a whole new book to deal with the issues that were raised when Ellis discovered the truth of the Cluster. That’s where the final novel of the Old Star/New Earth trilogy, Heirs of the New Earth comes in.

The Pirates of Sufiro is free to download in both Nook and Kindle formats:

Children of the Old Stars is available as follows: