Mission 51 Background Stuff

Torkiyan missions to Cerulea (the planet Earth) are always organized by two factions within their government: one that is interested in spreading the beliefs and culture of the Torkiyan people, and another more interested in the commercial and financial aspects of the endeavor. The ideology of these competing yet complementary views are clearly spelled out to the crews of the missions in their Mission Directives:

1. To spread Torkiyan Knowledge, Wisdom, and Truth

2. To advance the technology of endemic intelligent species with the goal of eventually connecting the two worlds

When the Torkiyan Mission 51 to Cerulea was organized about 500 Earth-years ago, two individuals represented these two factions: Petrus, a Torkiyan Ambassador and father of our protagonist Mat, and Major Tran, the Director of the Space Administration.

Mat’s main loyalty was to his beloved father. In that sense, the Mission Directive to spread Torkiyan Knowledge, Wisdom, and Truth was more important than the commercial/financial directive. At least that’s how Mat felt in the beginning. Things changed with the realities of his situation on Earth. Humans made it difficult to be altruistic, and he needed to survive.

The Spanish Missions of Alta California

~La Misión de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad is mentioned in the closing chapters of Mission 51.~

Several ideas came together when I first imagined the story of Mission 51. I wanted to honor my immigrant parents. I wanted to contribute to the immigration narrative in general, even if it was in some small way. I wanted to be honest about human nature, about our virtues and our defects. I thought about how invaders have decimated native cultures, all over the world and across recorded history. I thought about the waves of immigration that have come into the United States, and how they have changed the very face of America. And then it all crystalized when I thought about the Spanish missions in California, and when I realized the notorious events in Area 51 occurred at the same time as my parents’ immigration to the US in 1954. The story simply had to be about missions and aliens! 😀

I am looking forward to the day this story is published. Pre-orders will make that happen, so I humbly request your help. If you have not pre-ordered yet, now is a great time! If you already have, I thank you very much!

You can pre-order here.

This is going to be fun! 😀

The Mission 51 Raffle

Janusia in Space for raffle

Announcing the Mission 51 Raffle!

Artist Idan Carré has graciously donated an original sketch for a raffle! This 11” x 12” sketch was a preliminary “concept” study of Mission 51’s spaceship, Janusia. This is basically how she appears in a drawing in the book. Isn’t she beautiful!? The winner of the raffle will receive this original sketch, signed by the artist, with a personal dedication to the winner! How cool is that!?

To qualify for the raffle you must have placed one of the first 150 pre-orders.

The raffle will include the 138 pre-orders that have already been placed, and additional pre-orders up until the number of pre-orders reaches 150. That’s only 12 more pre-orders to go!

At that point, the names of every person placing those pre-orders will be officially randomized via Riffle Raffle to identify the winner! Hooray!! 😀

  • Each Inkshares E-Reader pre-order (ebook only) will count as one entry.
  • Each Inkshares Reader pre-order (book and ebook) will count as two entries.
  • Each Inkshares Super Reader pre-order (multiple books) will merit as many entries as the number of books ordered.

So… I suggest you place your pre-order now to qualify for the raffle! Be among the first 150 pre-orders!

You can place your pre-order here!

And… you can increase your chances of winning the raffle by placing more pre-orders! Maybe you want an extra copy for family or friends. 🙂

A heartfelt Thank You to Idan Carré for her most generous donation. This truly is a special, one-of-a-kind piece!!

Mission 51- Final Approach

I would like to share with you a sample of a book I am writing on Inkshares. This is the tagline on my Inkshares project page:

“After a tragic, fifty light-year voyage, sole survivor Mat crash lands on a hostile alien world. Beyond tolerance, beyond acceptance, he must learn to embrace the diversity of his new home planet if he is to ever find peace.”

This is a draft of a chapter called Final Approach.  The book is called Mission 51. I hope you enjoy!


Final Approach

After releasing Dirk’s body, and repairing Janusia for a second time, he had performed his usual inspection of the navigational stars to determine his position. Janusia had warmed him out of cryo as intended, when the ship had reached the ordered coordinates. He knew he was in Cerulea’s planetary system. By the small appearance of the system’s star, he could tell he still had some distance to go. Close by, he had identified two planets. He had actually seen them before, through the powerful space telescopes back home. The one with the beautiful rings was the sixth planet from the star. The largest one was the fifth from the star. He had found himself to be somewhere between those planets, but had not been able to quite see Cerulea at that point. He made a decision to head directly towards the star, to hopefully intercept Cerulea in orbit around it.

A slow and lonely year went by. For most of this time, he was unable to appreciate any progress by looking at the distant stars. He was traveling as fast as the tiny positional engines allowed, but 3D speed was miserably slow compared to 4D. “I only know I’m moving when I see the planets,” he said out loud. He had grown accustomed to speaking to himself, even with arguments and conversation. Anything to keep from going insane in the solitary confinement inside Janusia.

The fourth planet from the star came into view. He knew this planet was still too cold to easily harbor life, but that would not be the case for the next planet, his destination, Cerulea! Looking out a different window, he could see the star appeared larger now. Cerulea was believed to be in the same warm zone as his own planet. As he approached its supposed position, he became more anxious about that known fact. “After all this, it better be as warm as we think. It better have water. It better have life, or my own life has been for nothing!”

As it circled in its orbit from behind the sun, Cerulea, the thrid planet from the star, finally came into view. “The legendary Cerulea! There you are!” Mat’s face broke into a rare smile of true joy. He spent hours and days looking at the beautiful blue orb, imagining what else he might observe as he drew nearer. His joy mixed with a strong anxiety as he wondered if he could possibly make a landing in such a damaged ship. He eyed the gauges and worried about his dwindling fuel supply. “Damn you,” he said to the cold, dead main engines. “I need you now.” He thought about his three small positional engines. “It’s just you and me now,” he said to the inanimate objects that propelled Janusia, and that could maybe slow her down during descent.

Mat felt sluggish. He was weak and hungry, trying to stretch his dwindling food supply. He shivered in Janusia’s cold cabin, keeping the heaters off most of the time to preserve as much fuel as possible. “This is why I saved you,” he said to the fuel.

He used a minimum of fuel to thrust Janusia into a path to intercept Cerulea in its orbit around the star. He made his calculations by hand, as the ship’s navigational computers were dead. It was easier to do the calculations now, as Cerulea was becoming visibly larger with each passing day. He refigured his calculations time and time again, anxious to get it right. “Let’s do this Janusia. My life depends on it, you know.”

Now he was almost there! This past year had seemed interminably long. Progress had been so difficult to judge. But now Cerulea seemed to be fast approaching, even traveling at a slow, conventional speed. Against all odds he was finally arriving at his planned destination. “Cerulea, here I am,” he announced. “A frakking miracle, and nobody to witness it.” He was too tired to generate the enthusiasm this moment deserved.

On final approach, he ever-so-gently tweaked the positional engines, using as little of the precious remaining fuel as possible to achieve his first stable orbit around this alien world. He sat back in awe and wonder as views of the planet came and went through the window of the spinning ship. He stopped to consider his whirl of emotions, which to his surprise were mostly morose. ”Historic,” he thought, sarcastic and miserable in his loneliness. “Dirk would have loved this.”

Despite the obvious beauty of the planet below him, Mat was overwhelmed with feelings of sadness and loss. “What’s the point if there is no one to share this with?” He cringed at the sudden memory of loosening the ties to release Dirk’s dried-up body into the darkness.

He was haunted by the memory of seeing Dirk disappear silently into space. He remembered saying some ceremonial words that seemed important at the time. Mat realized now that at his own death no one would be left to say any words and to see him off. “Damn Dirk.” He sighed. “Damn cheap-ass cryo bed.”  They hadn’t noticed the micro-crack when they sealed Dirk in that last time. The cryo fluid had leaked out. Dirk had died ages ago. “He should be here with me right now.” Mat wiped the tear streaming down his face.

He broke himself from his depressive reverie because now, at long last, here he was, floating just a few miles over the legendary planet so very far away from his own. The time had come. Mat sent another “final” report to mission control, knowing the light speed message would now take about 50 years to be received, that is if the communications system still worked at all. “Goodbye, Torkiya,” he said, with a final salute to his old home planet, as he turned his attention completely to the job at hand. “Hello, Cerulea.”

He allowed Janusia to make several orbits around the planet, taking careful note of the lay of the land and the blue water. He was specifically looking for a place to land, imagining landing at a much faster speed than he would prefer. Thinking about the small positional engines, he said, “You can’t slow me down enough for a true landing. It will have to be in the water.”

“Large body of land, small body of water. Small body of land, large body of water.” He memorized the pattern with each passing orbit. He targeted a landing in the middle of the largest body of water. Now it was just a matter of executing it. “Yeah, right. Simple,” he said sarcastically, but now his training was starting to kick in. He had a series of maneuvers to perform and his mind started going through the preparatory routines to deorbit, descend and land. “You can do it!” he encouraged himself.

Slowly and weakly he worked the damaged controls. Truly, there was no choice. He was almost out of food. The ship was dark and cold, nearly out of fuel. He and the ship were dying. “If I’m going to die, I want to die down there,” he said, looking down at Cerulea, the beautiful blue alien planet.

He calculated the exact point at which to start the process. He oriented the ship to take maximum advantage of his small positional engines and started a long burn to slow way down. When he could feel the ship starting to descend, he stopped the burn. He now oriented the engines so they could slow down the growing accleration of descent. And shortly after that, he realized he had made a crucial miscalculation. “Janusia, what are you doing!? You’re dropping way too fast!”

With no way of knowing, Mat’s mistake had been made many times before. Cerulea’s mass, and the gravitational pull that went along with it, were much greater than those of his own planet. He was accelerating to the land much faster than expected. “Little engines, do your best!” he implored. He slammed the lever down to burn the engines at full throttle, trying his best to slow his rate of descent.

About half-way down, he felt the effect of the planet’s atmosphere. “Good that there is an atmosphere this high up,” he thought. “Bad that it’s heating things up so soon!” He could see Janusia’s forward hull starting to glow red hot. He briefly thought of his Father, and the family holograms. “Mat to mission control, I’m coming in hot!”

Mat then tried a series of long S-shaped curves in an effort to shed more speed. He was flying by feel. He was re-energized now, with the high stress of an extremely dangerous descent and landing. There was no time for fear. He was at full attention, trying his best to maybe survive. Then, as he looked out the windows to check his position, he was blinded by a sudden bright light. The ship had burst into flames. “Oh nooo!” He screamed.

The inside of the ship got hotter and hotter as his descent speed continued to increase. Between the flames, he could see the rapidly approaching land. He realized with a panic, “I’m not going to reach the water at all!” He was falling to ground at an alarming rate.

Mat tried the best he could to flatten out the steep trajectory. Janusia tried to respond, but it was brief and in vain. He was going to crash. Mat could now see the shapes and countour of the terrain as he flew by at an incredible speed. “This is it,” he thought. “It’s all over.”

In the final moments of Janusia’s flight, he could see a mountain range in the distance ahead. He hoped he could clear the highest peak, or at least fly between the highest ridges, to the flatter land that lay further ahead.

At the very last moment, Mat knew he would not clear the mountain. By instinct, he crossed his arms in front of his face and turned away in a protective gesture, preparing for impact.

The mountaintop and Janusia exploded into a million pieces.


Shortly after the final moments of Mat’s historic voyage, someone in Texas reported seeing a flash of light streak across the sky. Several people in New Mexico and Arizona saw a similar flash, or heard a whooshing rumble.

The bleary-eyed people in the Las Vegas casinos were mostly oblivious. At a Blackjack table, a man thought he maybe felt a brief jolt. “What was that?” he asked, though no one cared to respond. He shrugged his shoulders and pointed to his cards, ordering the dealer, “Hit me again.”



If you care to read further, this chapter is followed by The Crash.




I hope you enjoyed this early draft of a chapter in the book! If so, please consider a pre-order to help get Mission 51 off the ground! You can get your pre-order at Inkshares here.

Thank you for reading! 🙂

Mission 51- The Crash

I would like to share with you a sample of a book I am writing on Inkshares. This is the tagline on my Inkshares project page:

“After a tragic, fifty light-year voyage, sole survivor Mat crash lands on a hostile alien world. Beyond tolerance, beyond acceptance, he must learn to embrace the diversity of his new home planet if he is to ever find peace.”

The excerpt is from a chapter called The Crash, a pivotal part of the story. The book is called Mission 51. I hope you enjoy!


(You might want to read the chapter immediately before this one, called Final Approach.)


The Crash

Juan stood up and rubbed his aching back. Bending over all day in the hot Nevada sun took its toll, but the onions of the Moapa Valley were ripe and needed to be picked. He didn’t mind the work, really. He and his fellow braceros were grateful to have a job that paid, so they could help their families back home in Mexico. What’s more, Juan was happy to be working alongside his ten year old son.

His son Juanito was working a few rows over, but he was not working. He was standing with his hand on his forehead shielding the midday sun, looking east into the distance. “Mira, Papi!” Juanito pointed to a bright circle of light just over the horizon, becoming brighter by the second. “Qué es eso?”

Juan had no idea what a light like that could be. “No sé,” he replied, now also intrigued by the bright light that seemed to be moving, drawing closer and closer.

Now they could see a dark streak trailing the bright light. It was moving very fast! Unbelievably fast! In a moment it was upon them. They jerked their heads and followed it with their eyes as it flashed by almost directly overhead. A moment later they both startled at the loud sound of a sonic boom, covering their ears in a too-late gesture. A coarse rumbling sound followed for the next several seconds, then faded away. A dark smoky streak was left in the light’s path.

Then they saw the light actually hit the top of a mountain in the Las Vegas Range to the west. The top of one of the peaks suddenly exploded into a cloud of dust. They looked at each other with eyes as wide as their open mouths. “Papá, qué está pasando?” Juanito asked with a fervent anxiety.

“No sé, mijo, no sé!” Juan replied truthfully. He had never seen or heard of any such thing before in his life!

A few seconds later, they heard a distant boom. Then they felt a brief earthquake, like Juan had felt in Mexico many times before.

Juan and Juanito just looked at each other for a few moments, paralyzed by the enormity of what had just happened. Then they simultaneously dropped their harvesting sacks and sprinted to the old pickup truck. They raced down Highway 168 back to their hut on El Patrón’s property. When they got there, Juan stomped on the brakes to bring the truck to a skidding stop. They got out of the truck, slammed the truck doors behind them, and ran to the front door as María, Juanito’s mother, was running out to meet them. “Qué fué eso?” she asked, voicing the anxious question on all their minds about the events that had just unfolded.

Juan ran past her as Juanito relayed to his mother what he had just seen, stumbling over his excited words. Meanwhile, Juan quickly gathered a few items and tossed them into a canvas sack. Some tomatoes, a few onions, left-over tortillas from the morning’s breakfast, a small hunk of cheese from the cooler, and two bottles of Coca Cola. He grabbed the old pair of garage sale binoculars he had purchased earlier that year, the spring of 1954, and threw them in the sack as well. “Vámonos, mijo. Vámos a ver que pasó.”

Juanito was happy to oblige. He followed his father out of the house and dashed back to the pickup. He wasn’t going to miss the chance of getting a close-up look.

As they ran out the door, Juan yelled over his shoulder to María, “Adiós, Mi Cielo, ahora regresamos.”

She had no choice but to let them go. They were obviously determined to see for themselves what this was all about. “Cuídense!”

Juan and his elated son drove west on 168 until it dead-ended on Highway 93. They then zig-zagged along a network of paved and unpaved roads, keeping a generally northwest direction to the mountain, which was still surrounded by a cloud of settling dust.

Two hours later, they finally reached the base of the mountain and drove up as far as the dirt road could take them. They ran up towards the defect on the top of the mountain, until they were too short of  breath. They walked the rest of the way, as fast as their legs and lungs allowed.

Finally they reached the top of a ridge, very close to their destination. Through the binoculars they could see a depression at the top of the next ridge, where the last of the dust continued to fall. There were large rocks to the west of the depression, obviously part of the shattered mountain top. But whatever caused it did not stop there. From their vantage point, they could see down into the lower lands of the valley to the west. Juan pointed out to Juanito a long, dark streak in the land, heading northwest, in the direction of whatever it was they saw flash by overhead. In the far distance, they could see a rising tower of black, billowing smoke. They looked at each other, worried and wildly curious at the same time. Juanito pointed, “Vámos, Papi. Yá!”

With renewed energy, they raced back down to the truck and worked their way to the other side of the mountains, and to the valley below. Now they headed further northwest, toward the smoke. The terrain became rougher. Even the dirt road disappeared, but the old truck managed the dips and bumps of the open desert well enough. They stopped when they encountered what they had thought was the simple dark streak on the land. They were surprised to see it was not just a streak, it was a long gouge. It started somewhere back to the southeast, where it became gradually more shallow and indistinct. Looking to the northwest, the gouge became darker and deeper, until it ended at the place from where the black smoke was emanating. They noticed bits and pieces of deformed metal dotting the area along both sides of the dark gouge. Each of these pieces were also spewing a bit of black smoke, and some of them were still glowing red hot.

The truck bounced along the rough terrain until it could go no further. Juan guessed they were two kilometers from the crash site. He was sure now. It had to be a crash. It had to be a jet, he thought.  They grabbed their sacks and trudged the final distance on foot.

Juanito pointed out more and more of the metalic debris as they approached the crash site. “Mira, Papi,” he said to Juan, who was now hurrying ahead and did not look back. Juanito picked up the object that had grabbed his attention. It was a rectangular slab of metal, still warm, roughly the size of a book. It didn’t weigh much. It had a triangular indentation toward the bottom and the rest had a shiny dark mirrored surface. He liked the look and feel of it, so he threw it into his sack and ran to catch up with his father.

And there it was! They had finally reached the source of the rising black smoke, coming from a large gaping hole in the ground, where the dark linear gouge ended. At the far end of the hole, a fire was still burning. It gave off a tremendous heat that did not allow them to get much closer. Juan used his binoculars to get as good a view as he might. Amidst the smoke, the flames, and the heat distortion, he could see a large hunk of dark metal. That’s where the fire was coming from. And then he stopped cold! On the far side of the hole, he thought he saw glimpses of someone, or something, trying to crawl away.

“Dios mio!” Juan exclaimed, making a hurried sign of the cross.

The dash back to the truck, back over the mountain, and back to the ranch, was fueled by anxiety and panic. It was dark by the time they finally returned. Juan stopped the pickup at the big house, where he desperately pounded on El Patrón’s front door. El Patrón had the only telephone on the ranch. Juan could hardly get his words out. “La policía. Lláme ustéd a la policía!”

By then, the local police had gotten several reports of the flash and the loud noises. Booms. Rumbles. Earthquakes. El Patrón hung up the phone and turned to the anxiously waiting Juan. “Mañana,” he said. “They’ll check it out mañana.”

“Pero el piloto! Para mañana estará muerto!” Juan argued in vain.

The following morning, a local police officer arrived at the scene. The ground was warm, but the smoke had nearly died out. He made note of the large hunk of metal. “Aircraft,” he reported. He made note of the person who had crawled out of the charred hole, now lying motionless at the far edge. “Dead. No one could have survived this,” he thought, reasonably.

The officer walked slowly back to his car, in no apparent hurry. “The show’s over,” he said to the handful of people who had also braved the rough terrain to see for themselves. He knew, though, that this was clearly out of his pay grade, especially with a death. “This show’s not over,” he thought to himself. He radioed the LVPD for help.

Over the next two days, there was escalating activity at the crash site. A large area was blocked off to the curious general public who were collecting bits and pieces of the fallen aircraft. Despite the road blocks, people were finding their way to the crash site. A few days later, armed guards were posted around the vicinity of the crash site, day and night.

After that, the investigation really picked up speed. The mayor was called, who called the governor, who called a senator, who called his contact at the Pentagon, who called the President of the United States. President Eisenhower was told, “This was no jet. And this pilot is no person.”

The National Guard was deployed to the crash site. A very large area was now strictly off limits to all civilians. The U.S Army Corps of Engineers quickly developed an extensive compound, and erected a fence around a wide perimeter, encompassing the old Groom Lake Air Force airfield.  In April of 1955, the U.S. Air Force now claimed the general area to be a test site for military aircraft. For some reason, the C.I.A. became involved, shrouding the entire project in utmost secrecy. Planes did start flying in and out of the area, for reasons unknown.

At some point, an unceremonious  sign appeared on the front gate of the compound, some distance away from the entrance off Highway 375 near Rachel, NV. The sign read simply, Area 51.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


I hope you enjoyed that snippet from the book! If so, please consider a pre-order to help get Mission 51 off the ground! You can get your pre-order at Inkshares here.

Thank you for reading! 🙂

Mission 51 on Inkshares

I am so happy to have discovered a new book publishing house, Inkshares. It came to me through an unlikely source. I dabble in startup company investing. A few weeks ago I received notification that Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran had obtained an allocation of a funding round for a startup company called Inkshares, and had opened it up for investors on AngelList. The bio on this publishing company was right up my writing alley.

Inkshares is a startup publishing house that like most successful startup companies has found a way to deploy new tech into an industry with an older way of doing things. Traditional publishers have their way of identifying potentially successful writers and projects, and then taking a chance on them with publishing contracts and the associated investment that goes into those contracts. They provide services such as editing, proofreading, layout, printing, marketing, and distribution. All of that costs money, and it is basically a risk for them as there is usually no guarantee that the book will be successful.

Inkshares uses newer technologies to mitigate that risk. It works through their elegant online interface, where authors can start their project, upload samples of the project, and promote it to readers and other authors on the system. It also has a built-in interface with Facebook, Twitter and email, making it easy for authors to promote their work via social media.

The heart of the Inkshares system, though, is their pre-order system. When the project is being set up, Inkshares asks several questions. The title and genre is established. The length of the book is estimated, and therefore the cost of the book is estimated. A temporary book cover is assigned to the project. The idea is to then “pitch” and promote the project via Inkshares itself and through one’s social media contacts to obtain enough pre-orders to merit an Inkshares publishing contract. The goal is 250 pre-orders for their “light publishing,” and 750 pre-orders for the full-tilt boogie. That is how Inkshares identifies projects that are more likely to sell, which means more likely for their investment in the author/project to pay off. Also, if a project reaches the 250 pre-order threshold and the publishing contract is made, Inkshares uses the pre-order money to help defray the publishing costs. Crowdfunding for book publishing! Brilliant!

As an author who has self-published, this sounds wonderful! The readership I can reach through self-publishing is limited. There is nothing like a formal contract through a full-fledged publishing house. Yet those contracts are exceedingly rare compared to the number of authors out there. And I’m talking about authors with true dedication and talent, with interesting stories to tell.

So I have started my own project on Inkshares. It is a story I have been developing in my head for years now. It is in the science fiction genre, and specifically in the sub-genre Inkshares calls a “space opera.” The title of the book is Mission 51. I have already uploaded three sections of the book, and will upload more. I have my first few pre-orders and am very excited to push on with my project and hopefully reach the 250 pre-orders required for obtaining Inkshare’s publishing services.

Even if you are not an author, consider visiting Inkshares.com and checking out the amazing talent that is on display. “Follow” projects and “follow” authors. Simply following them is totally free, and you will get updates on the project while it is in “funding.” You can even participate in the project by making comments and critiques.

Better yet, support your favorite Inkshares projects with pre-orders. If you are a reader, you will be a part of the project as it evolves, throughout the development of the project. You will eventually get the book and it’s perks, according to the level of pre-order you have purchased. If the project does not reach 250 pre-orders, you will get your money back.

As you explore Inkshares I hope you look specifically for Mission 51, and that you support it and me with a pre-order. I would truly appreciate your involvement and your support! 🙂