The new book

How Blind Author Uses Disability to Create Sci Fi

To begin introducing myself as an author, I thought I’d talk a bit about my blindness. After all, that was one characteristic I gave my main protagonist, Dr. Malcolm Renbourn. My own blindness resulted from a genetic disease called retinitis pigmentosa, Malcolm’s came from being ripped across the barrier between the multi-verses. Hence, that’s why so much about genetics in the Beta-Earth Chronicles.

I admit being very surprised by something I’ve noticed in all the reviews posted at Amazon and Goodreads. Some astute folks have pointed out the depth of the books comes from all the social and cultural issues addressed in one way or another—race, class, religion, sex, politics. But little is said about disability. I sense a reluctance out there facing disabilities which I can’t explain.

Which leads to the question—how much of author Wesley Britton is in the character of Malcolm Renbourn? In a way, I’m not sure I’m the best person to ask. I’m certain there’s much about him that must reflect who I am. For me, I know there are incidents and experiences from my own life I used in the first three chapters of The Blind Alien. However, from the moment Malcolm escapes across the border into Rhasvi, I’ve always felt he had become his own man, always surprising me thereafter. Perhaps you’ve heard TV actors talk about how they started playing a role before a switch goes off inside them and the actor steps into their character, becomes that character, and goes deeper than reading lines and hitting the marks. Well, that moment happened for Malcolm, in my mind, when Bar sends him north into freedom.

What has this to do with disability? Well, when blindness becomes a central attribute of your being, especially when you’re on a strange planet and absolutely nothing is familiar, what doesn’t blindness impact? I think of one scene where Malcolm meets the blind prophetess, Lorei Caul. While Malcolm became sightless at the age of 35, she was blind from birth. These are very different experiences resulting in very different responses from people. One person has memories of what they once saw, what they lost; the other has no such memories—being blind was all they ever knew. So the individual who became blind later in life has the added confusion of trying to mix and match what they feel and hear with things they remember. From personal experience, I can say those of us who went blind later in life have to go through a process of grief and loss. I drew on this truth quite a bit in The Blind Alien.

For another observation, in book two I had a priestess reveal Malcolm’s eyes perceive blackness. Lorei’s eyes perceive nothing at all. There’s a difference. Malcolm has the awareness of darkness, of something impenetrable filling his visual screens. Lorei has no such awareness and senses nothing missing. Here’s something to ponder—the difference between blackness and nothingness.

What has blindness meant to me, a man who started losing his sight in his mid-twenties? A complex question with a complex answer. Let me try this. Some twenty years or so ago, when being a poet of some small renown was my creative identity, I had a friend who was a Lakota-Sioux Shaman. He looked at me one day and commanded, “Write me a poem about the joys of blindness.” Talk about a writing prompt!

The result was “The Veil.” Reading it again so many years later, I can think of many revisions and changes I could and probably should make. But I think it more honest to present it just as it appeared in Talus & Scree, one of my favorite print magazines of the small-press era.


When the blindness came, so did the veil
& few look in & those that do
I cannot tell for certain

what I am perceiving. Not light, not dark,
not the common colors shared by most.
I see no body language so speak it poorly.
I see neither smile nor frown so ignore both.
Cannot tell friend from stranger, so the veil
swells like a smoke or fog
around me in protection, confusion,
aloneness while
interdependency grows just as thick and wide
regulated by the whims and schedules of others
living around the cracks of others' good will,
hearing more intentions and promises than fulfillment
or commitment or truth
and grasp the limitations after
the embers of rage finally subside

and accept the moment, what is,
what can be patiently done,

ah, patience against my worse nature,
finally accepting calm Now after the
Disappointment Series and feel the
Ying of happy quiet aloneness without
the being with anyone not just to be alone
the Yang of the female other who
may be illusion, fantasy, nightmare
while I casually, cautiously, distantly
touch others veiled not to be hurt
veiled to expect assault
veiled to be comfortable within
and always aware of the separateness
that lives against my belief in
expecting more than is offered
expecting more than can be given

so I create little footnotes in books
and minds and groups and drums and
the image of the invisible man walking
thru the town that did not see him before
and is not looking for him now
as I await the next step
whether shin-cracking or
softer, whether pain or the touch
of my dogs & toys

so I have not answered your question. You wonder what are
The joys of blindness?

Well, the joy of music, but I had that before.
The joy of touch, but that has a powerful yang.
The joy of surprising connections, the nuggets
amongst the dross,
and the surprise of occasionally remembering a color,
a face, place, a possible poem
but mostly I find the happiness in thinking of Buddha,
of little accomplishments, small adventures, never minding
the great promise of youth
and knowing how much I've improved--hell,
I've had so far to go--and how different
I do things now so I must call the happiness
acceptance, letting go of illusions
becoming aware of illusions
de-emphasizing illusions
putting illusions into perspective
knowing my past is my own illusion
shared delusionally with others
whose place in the Now is never certain
and uncertainty has its place, especially in

a cocky man
who came to belief and conviction very slowly,
from the Bible to the nothing to the nothing with
who expects all to be transitory
as is All
and to cease craving, the source
of suffering, and emphasize service and
gifts, even gifts not wanted or expected,
and see what seeds grow.

Follow Wes Britton at his Goodreads blog where he posts twice-weekly insights into the Beta-Earth Chronicles!

The Blind Alien is still on sale for 99 cents while it still lasts!

Beta-Earth website:
The new book

A Throne for an Alien takes The Beta-Earth Chronicles to Strange New Places!

A Throne for an Alien - The Beta Earth Chronicles: Book Four
Wesley Britton
Publisher: BearManor Media (August 1, 2016)

Media Contact: Ben Ohmart

Wes Britton’s sci-fi series, The Beta-Earth Chronicles, orbits in a realm light years away from Star Trek or Star Wars.

The Blind Alien (Book 1) followed Malcolm Renbourn, a man from our world, unwittingly transferred to a parallel Earth and forced to adapt to new cultures and a new language while coming to grips with the loss of his sight. In The Blood of Balnakin (Book 2), Tribe Renbourn traveled to a new continent, where even stranger adventures awaited. The story continued in When War Returns (Book 3), where Renbourn and his wives clashed with a throne, a church, assassins, and scientist-spies.

Everything changes in A Throne for an Alien (Book 4). Once again, Tribe Renbourn is on the run, but this time they’re not alone. Fleeing the outbreak of war in the country of Alma, a fleet of ships follows them as hundreds of exiles seek sanctuary.

Landing at the country of Hitalec, the Renbourns learn prophecy has foretold that this island will be their new home, but once again, a throne complicates everything. A dying Queen insists that Malcolm bond with one of her daughters to connect her people with the new settlers. After her death, a new Queen and her lover seek to make the Renbourns pawns in their militaristic power grabs that boil into an ultimate confrontation.

Can one Renbourn wife team with the head of the Collective to give Beta-Earth the cure to the ancient Plague-With-No-Name before their lives upturn in a final showdown?

Learn more about the Beta-Earth Chronicles at:

Contact Wes Britton at:
The new book

At long last--The Blind Alien for Sale at .99 cents!

Special Offer: For a limited time The Blind Alien is available for just .99 cents!

The Blind Alien-- The Beta Earth Chronicles: Book One
Wesley Britton
Publisher: BearManor Media (Sept 12, 2015)

“The Blind Alien is a story with a highly original concept, fascinating characters, and not-too-subtle but truthful allegories. Don’t let the sci-fi label or alternate Earth setting fool you--this is a compelling and contemporarily relevant story about race, sex, and social classes.”--Raymond Benson, Former James Bond novelist and author of the Black Stiletto books

The story begins when Dr. Malcolm Renbourn, a young history teacher, walks into an ordinary bank on an ordinary day. Suddenly, he feels excruciating pain. Unexpectedly, he loses his sight and discovers he has been drawn against his will across the multi-verse to a slave-holding country on a parallel earth. He doesn’t understand a single word he hears, but he soon learns Betan scientists hope his body carries the cure to an ancient plague that kills 3 out of 4 male babies their first year.

Branded state property, he must escape, but where can a blind man in a strange world dominated by desperate scientists run? And on a world where polygamy is the norm, how can Malcolm Renbourn adapt into becoming the husband of five independent wives who never expected to be the mothers of a generation a planet hopes carry the genes that will change everything? How can Tribe Renbourn survive the aftermath of a catastrophic explosion that kills thousands?

And that’s just part of the story.

Praise for The Blind Alien:

“An excellent work of new SF that hearkens back to the classics of Asimov and Heinlein. Told from the viewpoint of the different characters, it is a tale of a man from our earth (Alpha) being unwittingly transferred to a parallel earth (Beta) where he must learn to adapt to new cultures, attitudes, languages at the same time as coming to grips with the loss of his sight. Each of the characters are fully developed and well defined and being able to hear their thoughts about each encounter brings a richness to the narratives. Politics, religion, social mores and relationships are all examined from both without and within.”—Dave Massengale, Amazon review

“Spymaster and imaginative author, Dr. Wesley Britton has another big hit! His book takes the reader on a compelling journey of an Alpha earthling who has been spirited to planet Beta. Science-fiction, yes, but much more. The book explores science, medicine, commerce, education, spiritual life, family life and sex on an alternative planet which
at times is insightful and hilarious in its comparison to our own Earth. In an ingenious way, Dr. Britton has created a new grammar and vocabulary to continually intrigue the reader. A true winner!” –Bobbi Chertok, Amazon Reviewer

The limited time .99 cents offer is available at:

Media Contact: Ben Ohmart
The new book

When War Returns--Book 3 of Wes Britton's Beta-Earth Chronicles--is here!

When War Returns-The Beta-Earth Chronicles: Book 3
Wesley Britton
Publisher: BearManor Media (June 9, 2016)

The Blind Alien (Book 1 of the Beta-Earth Chronicles) followed Malcolm Renbourn, a man from our world, unwittingly transferred to a parallel Earth. He was forced to adapt to new cultures and a new language while coming to grips with the loss of his sight. In The Blood of Balnakin (Book 2), Tribe Renbourn traveled to a new continent, where even stranger adventures awaited Renbourn and his new family on land and sea, as mystical prophecies were fulfilled.

The story continues in When War Returns, where everything changes for Renbourn and his Betan wives. To secure protection from assassins, the scientist-spies of the Collective, and the anger of an island liege, he accepts the title of Duce of Bilan and joins the Parliament of Alma. He bonds with a female Ducei, but unhappily discovers that she is Sasperia Thorwaif, an enhanced mutant with the startling strength of ten men and an overheated metabolism that fuels her resentment against lesser-endowed humans. As a result, she begins a campaign to destroy the Renbourn tribe.

Tribe Renbourn is also drawn into a brewing war against the Lunta of the New-Dome, a High Priestess wanting to force all Almans and immigrants to bow in obedience and conform to her strict religious orthodoxy. When the Prince of Alma, heir to the throne, wants to add a Renbourn wife to his long list of women forced to surrender themselves to his royal will, the foundations of their lives on Beta-Earth are shaken.

Can Tribe Renbourn battle a church, a throne, and a bond-wife bent on tearing them apart?

Join the adventures reviewers praise with comments like: “If you are looking for a unique sci-fi story, with interesting characters . . . then this book/series gives you something which the standard sci-fi novels out there don’t.”

For review copies and interview requests, contact publisher Ben Ohmart at-

Author website-
The new book

An Extract from The Blood of Balnakin--The Beta-Earth Chronicles: Book Two

To whet your appetite for the newly arrived The Blood of Balnakin—The Beta-Earth Chronicles: Book Two, I thought I’d share a sample extract from the book here.

This passage introduces a major new character in the saga. I hope you’ll want to learn much more about her in BOB!

Kalma: I am daughter of the great city of Bergarten, a city I have known with
pride, shame, and aching womb all my days. In the twenty-five years of my growing
near the three rivers, I thrived in the knowledge my home city was a center of the
world. All around me were the wide, clean walkways leading past gleaming buildings
unlike any in any other city on Olos earth. I knew these flowing streets well, I knew I
was one fleshly part of the best of humanity. My Bergarten was where the future
shaped, where discipline and energy superseded the ways of others tangled in their
tired pasts.
But I also was shaped by a family deeply troubled by the slavery of fellow
Balnakins sharing not our deep, earth-soil colors. I knew well our Sojoa sheets shone
because of the polishings of blues dangled from rooftops or belted to mechanical
ladders. Riding in our trans from one site to another, my Mother often circled her
breasts with single finger loops, signaling gratitude to be blessed each time she
glanced at a sullen blue woman tuning tools, unloading tracs, crawling down into
pipes below ground. Many such women would know spears, children, family not.
Futures not. We whispered our regret. But only whispers, silences, prayers. After all,
without the blues, our greatness possibled not.
Then, my soul ached and more as I was in Bergarten the day the soundless
explosion robbed my city of its heart. I was one of those shoved onto an evacuation
bus at stadsem that cursed day, cramped with students and sweating teachers on the
road north when the catastrophe took away the rooms we sat in but minutes before. I
can name names of many who exist no more. My belly tightens still to think of them.
Had not my Tribe fast boats on the Gell River, two of my Sisters and their children
would also exist no more.
To say more, for years, my family has been a deep part of what I loved most about
Bergarten. For one matter, unlike many, my father, Lius Salk, built his empire of
connections relying not on what he considered a dishonest means of business. That is,
as he rose in the ranks of the shipping company of Mhelapras, he chose not his wives
based on tunic sewings. Instead, each of his five bondings were daughters from the
New Dome Church of No-Stratas founded by the eminent Devlin Joco Llyam. Llyam's
congregation agreed on various principles including the possibility, but rarity of, true
prophecy. We believed Olos was indeed the Mother of All, and that all included all
skins. This meant Olos abhorred slavery. No member of the New Domes associated
with Devlin Llyam could own or deal with the selling of humans. This meant we had
few prosperous, powerful tribes to share worship with. My father looked for wives
with these beliefs knowing they would come from families with these values. He
wanted wives focused on their children. So, each of us grew in a home devoted to our
betterment while my father grew his company in countries stained not by human
bondage. He worked with makers of goods with sellers all over the globe interested in
unique wares from cultures across land and sea. As Father rose to the top of
Mhelapras, we rose with him.
True said, in each family, seeds bear different fruits. My brother Mool became as
interested as my father in the ways of connecting makers with distributors. So, he
established his own healthy branch to the family's growth into the countries south of
the Psam Peninsula, mostly on the continent of Verashush. But my brother Kinn
could find his way not. He became an angry student at the Lipran Stadsem,
graduating just before the news came out that an alien was in the Halls of the great
Bergarten Institute of the Species. Kinn stood in the audience the day Doctor Malcolm
Renbourn reached out to two globes. Later, Kinn raged in father's house the day the
alien snuck across the border into Rhasvi. My father dismayed when Kinn denounced
loud the Lipran authorities for having allowed this escape to happen. Why had any
fool put a Shaprim robe on a blue, why was a creature so obviously defective
contained not here in Bergarten where all the world should come and beg access to
our knowledge? "Olos put her stamp on every Brown," Kin preached, "when she
marked us with her own color, the color of her most fertile land! What is blue but an
empty shade between day and night? Unnatural. Name one other creature sharing
this strange pigment!" He laughed. "And these are creatures to envy, pity not! How
relaxing to have no decisions to make, no will to exercise! We shelter, feed, guide
these off-colors!" My father had known not my brother had changed at the Stadsem.
Into this nest of anti-slavery philosophies, a racist had emerged.
And Kinn became more than that when one-fourth of our city became a dome in
the earth, a gaping hole where once friends and companions lived. One horrible day,
my father's office view overlooked a wound that now defined a culture. Devlin Llyam's
home was but two-lanes away. During the first years after that damnable rip in Olos
appeared, such men and their women grieved in silent wonder. During the same
years, men and women like my brother Kinn spoke often and loud. "I stood there,
right there at the very center of that wound in the Mother! By miracle alone three of
my Sisters survived! But a minute, a moment, our Tribe, too, would have had souls
with bodies not for holy burning!" All Balnakin homes knew the debates. Yes, drain
and bleed Rhasvin coffers for compensation. But compensate who? How can lost
knowledge be re-claimed? Who owned the lost land? They were gone, too. Rebuild?
Build a memorial? Answers were slow. But those like Kin looked for answers not.
Vengeance. Slashing, burning, crushing of all creatures whose skin was brown not.
Consuming, unyielding rage. So, father sent my brother to Alma in the hopes the
distance might calm his angry spear. To live among blues who were slaves not,
Balnakin, Rhasvi not. For a time, we knew not of success in father's dreams. We more
concerned with our world turned upside down.

To learn more about the Beta-Earth Chronicles, stop by—

To order The Blood of Balnakin, it’s at:*Version*=1&*entries*=0
The new book

New Audio Interview with Wes Britton!

Beginning May 2nd, an audio interview with Wes Britton by Liz Stanley Swope of Vision Resources of Central Pennsylvania will become available for all listeners. The 30 minute conversation discusses Wes and blindness, his teaching career, and, of course, the Beta-Earth Chronicles!

Play dates are May 2,3,4,12 and 13

2:00 p.m. again at 10:00 p.m. and again the following mornings at 6:00 a.m.

For streaming, go to:

For podcasting, go to that same website and select the podcast icon. It will be under Interview podcasts.

Hear you then!
The new book

The Blood of Balnakin has Arrived!

Now arrived on a planet near you!

The Blood of Balnakin: The Beta-Earth Chronicles, Book Two
By Wesley Britton

Ripped from his home planet of Alpha-Earth, Dr. Malcolm Renbourn became the titular character in The Blind Alien, the debut novel of a startlingly original science fiction epic. Blinded, tortured, enslaved, unable to understand a single word he heard, Renbourn escaped to Rhasvi, a free country where scientists hoped his unique biology might contain the cure to an ancient plague that kills three out of four male babies their first year. Joining with his Betan wives, all exiles and outcasts from polygamous cultures, Renbourn is blamed for the deaths of thousands when the device that dragged him across the multi-verse exploded and destroyed much of the city of Bergarten.
Unlike any adventure you’ve ever experienced in Star Trek, Star Wars, or any of your other favorite Sci-Fi sagas, in The Blood of Balnakin Tribe Renbourn travels to a new continent where even stranger adventures await. A vengeful island ruler captures them at sea; the revered Mother-Icealt of All-Domes shares prophecies and secrets that will change the planet; three of these prophecies are fulfilled, as the tribe is forced to reconcile with the country of Balnakin still seeking vengeance for the Bergarten disaster; and a heart-wrenching death trade results in the murder of one beloved wife and the unwanted salvation of another. Will Malcolm Renbourn and his family survive the surprising consequences of those prophecies?

Transport to BearManor Media, where the exclusive ebook edition of The Blood of Balnakin is now here!

Praise for The Beta-Earth Chronicles:

“The Blind Alien is a story with a highly original concept, fascinating characters,
and not-too-subtle but truthful allegories. Don’t let the sci-fi label or alternate Earth setting fool you--this is a compelling and contemporarily relevant story about race, sex, and social classes.”
--Raymond Benson, Former James Bond novelist and author of the Black Stiletto books

“Science-fiction, yes, but much more. The book explores science, medicine, commerce, education, spiritual life, family life and sex on an alternative planet which
at times is insightful and hilarious in its comparison to our own Earth. In an ingenious way, Dr. Britton has created a new grammar and vocabulary to continually intrigue the reader. A true winner!” –Bobbi Chertok, Amazon Reviewer

“Brilliant! An excellent work of new SF that hearkens back to the classics of Asimov and Heinlein. Told from the viewpoints of the different characters, it is a tale of a man from our earth unwittingly transferred to a parallel earth where he must learn to adapt to new cultures, attitudes, languages at the same time as coming to grips with the loss of his sight. Each of the characters are fully developed and well defined and being able to hear their thoughts about each encounter brings a richness to the narratives. Politics, religion, social mores and relationships are all examined from both without and within. Think "Stranger in a Strange Land" combined with "Foundation" and you may begin to get an idea of the scope and quality of this adventure.” —Dave Massengale, Amazon review

“A most commendable and unique novel. I can honestly say I have not come across anything quite like it. The Blind Alien follows the life of an unremarkable man who by some twist of fate is pulled from his world, into that of one parallel . . . What follows is a story of rebellion, politics, love, science, and religion . . . without a doubt, this is an admirably well crafted piece of work, that was both entertaining and very thought provoking.”
--Tosin Coker, author of The Chronicles of Zauba’ah

Media Contact: Ben Ohmart

Explore the world of the Beta-Earth Chronicles at Wes Britton’s website:

Contact Wes Britton
The new book

Review: Bodyguard of Deception by Samuel Marquis

PDF: ISBN 978-1-943593-15-6 Bodyguard of Deception: Volume One of the World War II Trilogy
Samuel Marquis
Mount Sopris Publishing, March 2016
Kindle: ISBN 978-1-943593-13-2
ePub: ISBN 978-1-943593-14-9

Reviewed by Wesley Britton

This review first appeared at

It was only three months ago when I reviewed Samuel Marquis’s novel, The Coalition, which I described as injecting fresh air into the genres of political conspiracies and assassination thrillers.

In somewhat similar ways, Marquis offers unexpected twists to World War II dramas in Bodyguard of Deception, the first of his World War II trilogy. In the opening pages, German spy Eric Von Walburg is picked up in the North Sea by a U-Boat captained by Eric’s brother, Wolfgang. Eric has discovered the secret timing of the D-Day invasion and knows that the network of German spies in England has been compromised. He’s under orders to report his findings to General Rommel despite Wolfgang’s pressures that he be told what Eric knows. But when the U-boat is sunk and the brothers become POWs, the mission for both becomes the need to escape and radio the intelligence to the Fatherland.

Because British intelligence, at first, doesn’t know who they have, both Von Walburgs are transferred to a POW camp in Colorado. Several things happen. For one matter, they learn their long estranged mother, now named Katherine Templeton, now considers herself an American and owns a nearby ranch and hotel. For her ranch, she hires out gangs of the POWs which results in the family having a quiet reunion, of sorts. Next, some 50 prisoners break out of the camp due to a tornado and an underground tunnel. So the brothers, accompanied by a diehard, bloodthirsty Nazi, rush to Katherine’s ranch even as authorities begin their relentless hunt for them. Will their mother help their cause? Or will she turn them in? What Eric and Wolfgang don’t know is that Katherine is an O.S.S. agent under the ruthless thumb of the glory-seeking FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover. It doesn’t take long for the FBI, British authorities, local law enforcement, and armed citizens to join in the hunt for Eric, Wolfgang, and their colleague all across the wilds of Colorado as the Germans try to find a way to radio their secrets home.

That Rocky Mountain setting is one distinction from most World War II stories usually set in Europe, sometimes in Africa, and occasionally in the Far East. The family relationships take on a special dimension as Eric and Wolfgang, at first, represent two kinds of Germans. Eric is fully patriotic to his country but despises the Fuhrer while Wolfgang is closer to Nazi ideology. As time progresses, Wolfgang loses this devotion, but the brothers fall under the pressure of a gun-toting true believer.

And that’s a major theme of the book, the differences between loyal Germans who want the war to end on German terms as opposed to the far more ruthless Nazis willing to kill innocent civilians for the glory of Adolf Hitler. There’s the inner duel of Katherine Templeton who wants to, and is forced to, help find her sons, but she wants them captured, not killed. And there’s the rather typical turf wars between competing intelligence services more interested in claiming the scalps for themselves and less so accomplishing the collective goal.

Likely, many readers will be surprised by the setting, the good German, bad German dichotomies, and the fact-based revelations that at one time, D-Day could have gone either way. As usual, Marquis’s descriptions are vivid, believable, and true to the time period.

I have really only one complaint. I have nothing against happy endings, but the book’s epilogue stretches credulity. At least mine. So, excluding Marquis pulling together the loose ends with such a positive note, Bodyguard of Deception is an intriguing launch to his new trilogy. I’ll wager the next entry won’t occur in America’s heartland. But I expect that, once again, we’ll venture into the unexpected.

Book Two of Wesley Britton’s Beta-Earth Chronicles—The Blood of Balnakin—coming soon!
The new book

Book Review: Fire War by T.T. Michael

Fire War
T.T. Michael
Published: October 2015
ISBN: 978-1517180744

Review written by Wes Britton for

According to Fire War, in the year 2051, the terrorist group Hariq Jihad hit the United States with attacks more deadly than 9/11. Twenty-five years later, fears of these terrorist, along with the voices of the dissenting group called the Apocalytes, inspired U.S. President Frederick J. Meyers to completely rewrite the geopolitical map.

At first, the U.S merged with Canada. Then Meyers bullied Mexico into joining what became
the United Continental States of America. Thus, he took care of immigration problems by enforcing the idea that immigrants must enter the country by legal means, and that meant making them citizens where they were. Taking his country to isolationist extremes, Meyers pulled all military troops out of every foreign country and forbade international travel to ensure no terrorist could endanger the UCSA.

Further, Meyers imposed severe travel restrictions within the states to help keep track of all citizens. He had the Second Alien and Sedition Act passed to counter any dissent, blaming the Apocalytes for any disagreement with his policies. National elections disappeared as loyal citizens felt appointed leaders made better sense than elected ones. After all, under Meyers’ leadership, unemployment went away. Mexican drug cartels were allegedly defeated. Then, neighbors started being taken away. Homes were boarded up as family after family seemed to shelter supporters of the Hariq Jihad or Apocalytes. No trials were required when potential terrorism or disloyalty was the alleged crime.

Witnessing all these changes is Gunnery Sergeant Anthony Jackson. He comes to the president’s attention when he kills the assassin of the last President of Mexico and is hired for Meyers’ personal protection. Jackson is a passive, loyal, dedicated follower of all the President’s policies and can’t understand why the erosion of civil liberties should matter when national security is, well, secure. He feels minor twinges of doubt when watching the president bully his subordinates and isn’t entirely sure that all his vanishing neighbors, especially the younger ones, deserve secret imprisonment for often minor infractions. But, over and over, Jackson is sure his government knows best and he angers when he hears any criticism of the leaders he trusts. That is, until his independent-minded teenage daughter forces him to rethink his values.

It’s clear author T.T. Michael is dramatizing his polemic exploring what might happen if Americans lose themselves to fears of terrorism and allow themselves to be pressed into conformity in the name of social calm. While set in the future, the story isn’t futuristic in a science-fiction sense. For example, technology doesn’t seem to have changed in sixty years. Instead, the setting reflects very contemporary problems being discussed in this year’s presidential election.

Much of the story is exposition describing the cultural changes resulting from Meyers’ virtual dictatorship. From time to time, Michael inserts propaganda pieces allegedly published in the new mainstream media. The only character with any development is Jackson, and he lives in such a privileged bubble that he isn’t a true representative of his fellow citizens who are either in fear of the government or bogged down in bureaucratic red-tape. He’s so accepting of what the government does that for most of the book, all he does is reiterate how new ways have replaced the unneeded old Constitution. The only real characteristic for readers to sympathize with is Jackson’s drive to repair his family and be a good father and husband.

I’m certain many readers will be intrigued, and alarmed, by the sadly too plausible scenario Michael paints. If you’re expecting a pot-boiler of a political thriller, you won’t get your monies’ worth. With any luck, Michael’s Fire War will reach those already inclined to surrender to fears of terrorism and allow their civil liberties to erode in the name of security. Michael’s “what if” could be illuminating and mind-changing.

Be sure to check out Wes Britton’s Beta-Earth Chronicles at:

Volume two, The Blood of Balnakin, coming soon!
The new book

Book Review: Rogue Mission by Jeffrey Stephens

Rogue Mission: A Jordan Sandor Thriller
Jeffrey S. Stephens

Post Hill Press, April 26, 2016

• ISBN: 9781618688132
ISBN-13: 978-1618688132

This review by Wesley Britton first appeared at

I hadn’t completed reading Jeffrey Stephens’ Rogue Mission before I knew one thing. I was going to download the previous Jordan Sandor books and get caught up on this fascinating series. My files now already include Stephens’ Targets of Opportunity, Targets of Deception, and Targets of Revenge.

Admittedly, it’s hard for any new espionage/political thriller to find a place in a glutted genre. But there are many good reasons to include Rogue Mission in your reading list. For me, field agent Jordan Sandor and the company he keeps, and the company he works for, are more three-dimensional characters than many similar literary counterparts. It was good to read a story without all the usual interagency turf wars that pit hero against his superiors, his department against other agencies. All the good guys seem to be focused on common goals without ego or self-serving pride. One delight was Stephens’ dialogue. Conversations sound like conversations and not merely means to explain what is going on. I liked the analytical intelligence shown in most of the leads. For example, Sandor figures out Bermuda law enforcement dropped the ball when investigating a death by not finding out whether or not a British doctor had actually written a suspicious prescription. That’s the sort of detail that’s not typical of many such yarns.

True, Rogue Mission is chockful of all the elements you’d expect in a contemporary spy thriller. There is a series of unexplained killings that don’t seem to have anything in common. The nasties are an Isis splinter group based in Syria who kidnap American celebrities and hold them for a hundred-million dollar ransom inside Iraq. There seems to be something unsavory going on inside the top levels of international high finance. Some readers might be surprised to learn not all Jihadists are suicidal. But there’s nothing surprising about these terrorists redirecting U.S. military drones. That’s been done before.

The most important secondary character is Sandor’s sexy past lover and CIA analyst Beth Sharrow. She helps connect the dots and find the patterns linking seeming unrelated financial trades with terrorist attacks. She has a desirable mind in the field, and so too a desirable body in bed. Apparently, she was a significant player in the previous Sandor adventures, so flashbacks involving her help add some depth to just who Sandor is and what his track record includes.

Naturally, in a novel with the typical geopolitical scope of such stories, we hop along on many globe-trotting jaunts to Washington, New York, Bermuda, London, Paris, Iraq, and Syria. We’re taken to Five-Star Hotels and luxurious receptions for the rich and connected and into dangerous camps for Syrian refugees. The descriptions of such settings is adequate, meaning readers won’t experience much in exotic detail that’s more common to other authors.

In short, Rogue Mission should satisfy readers familiar with this genre who’ll be happy with Stephens’ stylistic gifts with character interaction and fresh takes on old tropes. More, please—

Find out about Wes Britton’s Beta-Earth Chronicles at:

Book Two, The Blood of Balnakin, coming soon!