Saturday, December 24, 2011

Empire of the Gods by David Stag - Guest Post : Featured Author


Linus is taken prisoner from earth by a barbaric civilization rampaging through our galaxy. He is to be sold into slavery, spending his life toiling in the factories or front lines. Or he may be killed at any time for the amusement of his captors.

This evil Empire is ruled by invincible tyrants with limitless abilities. They have powers to make any wish come true just by thinking of it. And the depravity of the rules filters down to every level of society. This empire has vast armies with advanced technology far beyond that of any of the conquered planets. Linus is not a superhero. He is an ordinary person with no special weapons or fighting skills. His journey through this society is a revelation about ourselves and our culture.

It's a study of power, who has it and how they got it. This novel is about 157,000 words (about twice the size of the average sci-fi book). It is not intended for children or teenagers, but will be entertaining to thinking adults.

Buy it on Amazon


            It was difficult to move around while avoiding being shot at, but I worked my way along the landing looking for an officer. People from our side were hiding behind various things and trying to shoot back. But the people on the other side were well hidden too. It looked like a standoff. I asked someone for Jattrel and he pointed me to a short squat man at the center of a group behind some large steel tubs. I worked my way over and waited for an opening to speak. He finally turned to me.
    “Who are you?”
    “I’m from Group J. I got separated from them and ended up here. A guy below told me you could use some help up here.”
    “Good,” he said. “We can use you. Right now...let me think...I need someone to go check those rooms over there.” He motioned toward a hallway situated on a landing up some stairs behind us. “Make sure they’re not circling around behind us. I don’t want to get trapped in here. Look for doors leading over to the other side of the room. If you don’t find anything, then get back here and help us out.”
    “Wait. What’s your name?”
    “Linus. Group J.”
    “Yeah. Go. Give a shout if you find anything.”
    I worked my way up the stairs and into the hallway indicated by Jattrel. I then began cautiously exploring it. Another man from one of our boarding groups was already hiding behind some boxes in the hallway shadows.
    “What are you doing here?” I said as I spotted him looking at me.
    “What do you think?” he said. “Those guys are killing us out there.”
    “Yeah. It’s bad. Did Jattrel tell you to watch this hall?”
    “Hell no. This is the only safe place in here. Those guys are good. They told us there wouldn’t be any resistance. They weren’t supposed to have any weapons.”
    “It does seem strange that a freighter crew is fighting like this,” I said. “How could they be causing so much trouble?”
    “Security,” he said. “I think it’s Security. It’s just a freighter like they said, but they were transporting Security or militia or something. We caught one of them and he told us. Those guys are good, really good. We’ve got to get help. We’ve got to have reinforcements.”
    “The radios don’t work so good,” I said. “I think we’re stuck for now.”
    “We’ve got to get out of here,” he said. “This place is a trap. Come on. You and me. Let’s make our way back to the other boarding groups. We’ll tell them we got lost.”
    “No good. I’ve already been lost and was lucky to find this place. This ship’s too big and there’s people wandering around everywhere. No telling who you’re going to run into. I’m staying here.”
    “Oh shit,” he said, kneeling back down in the shadows.
    I watched him cower in the dark behind the boxes. This conversation was going nowhere, so I turned my attention to the hall. I could hear something in the room at the other end. Maybe this was the sneak attack Jattrel was talking about. My stomach had a knot in it. I carefully eased my way down the hall and scanned the room ahead as I got closer. I held my weapon at the ready, but had no idea if I could really shoot someone. Then I could make out voices. But they were not the anguished cries of battle. They were laughing and chattering.
    As I peeked my head around the corner, three men from our ship were holding down another man. He looked like some kind of laborer from the freighter. They had jammed something into his mouth and blood was coming out his nose. They had tied his feet to a post with a cable and were holding his hands down while one of them beat him with a club. They were arguing about whether the blows from the club had broken the man’s bones. The one with the club then gave the guy another whack. With each blow, they tested the bone to see if it had shattered. Then the next man took his turn. They noticed me as I inched my way toward them.
    “What do you want?” one of the men said to me as I stood there.
    “Jattrel asked me to check out this room.”
    “Well, check it out and get out of here.”
    They eyed me suspiciously. Their victim looked at me in panic. He struggled weakly, but no longer had the strength to try and escape. I wondered if Jattrel had sent these guys to investigate this room before me. I sidestepped them and made by way to the other side of the room, looking for any possible doorways. There was only one possibility. Another hallway exited this room on the side opposite to my entrance point. I made my way to this hall, but was it just a different way back to the landing from which I had just come. However, this hallway was full of lockers of some sort. Some of the locker doors were open and some were not. But the locker doors were big and looked somewhat like man doors. What if one of them actually was a door? I opened the first one and found a pile of sports equipment. I opened the next and found what looked like cleaning supplies. I opened the next and the next and the next and found more junk each time.
    The muffled moans of the victim in the next room had continued all this time, and it was making me sick. I knew that what they were doing to him was wrong, but I didn’t know what to do about it. I hated being so helpless. Senseless torture was happening just a few feet away and I cowered in this hallway. The poor victim gave out a desperate, gagged scream as his captors tried something new on him. I didn’t want to know what it was. I hated this, but what could I do? There were three of them and only one of me. I just wanted to get out of there. I turned and opened the last locker. This one was different. It had two doors that swung apart in the middle.
    As the locker doors swung open, I found a young woman hiding inside. She was elegantly thin, with long blonde hair and blue eyes. Frail and alone, she sat on the floor in the far corner of the locker and looked up at me with tears running down her cheeks. She wore only a short, sheer white nightgown. Every detail of her naked body was visible beneath it. She must have been only nineteen or so and trembled visibly in the dim light. She did not cry out and she did not move. She only stared up at me with an expression that is hard to explain. In a way, it was a strange detached, blank look. I thought it was fear, most certainly. Perhaps resignation, too. She couldn’t stay hidden forever and she must have known it. And, she knew what was going to happen to her when she was found.
    She pushed further back into the corner, as far as possible, but there was nowhere left to go. Her quiet sobs were barely audible. We could both clearly hear what was going on in the next room. I stood there, horrified, unable to move for a second. What could be worse than this? The Sissell video was playing out right before me, but this time in real life. I couldn’t stand to think of how this would end.
    I glanced back down the hallway toward the three men who were still beating on their victim, just out of sight. Shadows of their activity flickered against the wall. I looked back at the frightened young woman, but couldn’t stand to look into those terrified eyes. I closed my eyes and rolled my head back, as if to face the ceiling above in a silent request for some kind of help. My mind was a blank. The situation defied any good solution. What would I do now? I could not betray her to the brutes in the boarding party. But I knew that wouldn‘t make any difference. Sooner or later they would find her and the familiar screaming would begin all over again.


Why did I become a writer?
David Stag

For most of my life, I’d been happy to sit back and be entertained. When you have a job to keep you busy during the day, all you want to do when you get home is unwind. Other people have stories and ideas, let them dazzle you with their brilliance. Then, I retired. This hits different people in different ways. My retired friends gave me a clue about this, but you can’t understand it until it happens to you. Retirement at first seems like a way to finally forget about plugging away day after day, racing the rats. But having endless free time has its own pressures. Now you have the time to think about things – to examine in more detail the ‘entertainments’ that used to pass so effortlessly through your brain as you recuperated your way to the next day.

At first, life goes on as it always did. But little-by-little, you realize that you’ve seen this all before. The same shows, the same plots, the same people. Sure, the names are different and the architecture changes. But the ideas – those pesky ideas – are all just the same idea over and over again. And they are painfully simple ideas. Surely the villains are not all evil geniuses, with unlimited funding, and dozens of accomplices that efficiently do their bidding? Surely, those thousands of bullets couldn’t have ALL missed?

Is this the best that modern man has to offer? Spiderman? Terrorists are going to blow up   a) the president   b) a major city   c) a mother and her children? Select story ending:  a) the villain gets killed in a fantastic final battle  b) the protagonists get killed off one by one    c) they have sex.

Ok. Not quite fair. This must be what people want because (apparently) it sells very well year after year. Hey, I like money too. It’s just that there is a growing need in me to look for something a little different. Something requiring a bit of thought. Good and evil are not simple in real life. How do we address the biggest problems imaginable and also the simplest problems that we face? I have wanted to kill a few people myself, but always seemed to end up finding other ways to work through it (although I confess that my solutions to real life problems were sometimes affected by the fact that I do not actually know how to make a bomb).

As it turns out, writing can be fun, especially when I try to trick myself into impossible situations – and then try to find ways out of the mess – that is, reasonable ways out of the mess (reasonable having some ambiguity of definition in the worlds of science fiction and fantasy). I’m already tired of reading part way through a book and realizing that I don’t want to read any more. I’m tired of watching a movie and knowing exactly how it will end after the first ten minutes. I’m tired of tv (period).

I have come to the conclusion that real life changes you. In reading various sources about becoming a writer, often strategies to get over “writer’s block” are given. The tricks apparently work. The writers are not blocked, they are just mundane. I also have run into points in a manuscript where I have to think about how things will/should turn out. Fortunately, a lifetime of struggling in the yoke has things all bottled up inside me, and they’re all trying to burst out. I’ve seen the tragedy of failure and the ebullience of success. Too many evils have not been smashed and too many promises have yet to be kept. If your writing doesn’t seem to be working out for you, then you might want to charge into something really important. Watch your efforts over the years blunted by waste, stupidity and fraud. And you might want to try so desperately that eventually you can feel what it’s like to finally have reached the top of the mountain – if even just a small mountain.

I hope this writing career works out. Quite often, I find that I like it. Sometimes I look at the clock, and it’s dinner time already. Where did the afternoon go? This is much better than having all that time on your hands. One thing is for sure. If I don’t find some way to entertain myself, I THINK I WILL GO ABSOLUTELY CRAZY!!!!!!  Retirement – who’d a thunk it?


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