Monday, January 15, 2018

The City of Ashes (The Chronicles of the Second Interstellar Empire of Mankind, Book 2) by Robert I. Katz

Release date: January 15, 2018
Subgenre: Space opera

About The City of Ashes


Douglas Oliver has survived the siege of Aphelion but the threat posed by the nation of Gath is far from over.

Every five years, Gath sponsors a Grand Tournament, where future leaders are pitted against each other in a series of violent contests. No outsider has ever won the Grand Tournament. Douglas Oliver is determined to change that.

All across the continent, nations are making alliances and choosing sides. War is coming, and Douglas Oliver’s participation in the Grand Tournament represents the opening gambit. Meridien intends to win the game that Gath has started, and Douglas Oliver is his country’s chosen weapon.

You will love this fast-paced science fiction adventure from Robert I. Katz, the award winning author of Edward Maret and The Game Players of Meridien.



Chapter 1

Two weeks after the siege of Aphelion finally ended, we set out for Gath. It was a boring two weeks. The streets were cleaned, the power grid fixed and reinforced. The city’s infrastructure was inspected, repaired and made sound. Our allies’ troops were wined and dined and given the keys to the city, which they richly deserved. As for myself, I had little to do  except tend to my business interests and think about the future. I was eager to get started.
Guild Master Anderson had meant it when he said that we would be putting on a show. We travelled in one of the largest airships in the fleet, named the Endeavor, re-painted for our trip in all the colors of the Meridien flag, festooned with rippling pennants and banners flapping in the breeze. The personnel, however, were intended to put on a very different sort of show, all either elite military or secret service, about a third female. All of them moved with quiet confidence. All of them looked like they could punch through walls and probably most of them could.
“Bring somebody with you,” the Guild Master had said. “Gath is a chauvinist culture. They will expect a young, virile man like yourself to have a sexual outlet.”
“Why should we care what they expect?” I said, though I had no objection in principle to a sexual outlet.
“Think of it as an insurance card. If you bring a woman along, it will make it harder for their spies to seduce you.” He shrugged. “No doubt, they’ll still try, but why make it easy for them? If you don’t have anybody in mind, we’ll assign a member of the military.” He got a far-away look on his face. “That might be best, actually, a combination mistress and bodyguard.”
I looked at him, not quite scandalized. “That seems above and beyond the call of duty.”
“We wouldn’t insist that she have sex with you. She could pretend.”
I declined his offer of military assistance for my libido but did ask Jennifer to come along, though I felt it wiser to not mention the Guild Master’s comments regarding our hosts’ expectations in the bedroom. “Sounds interesting,” she said. “Sure.” She grinned. “I’m looking forward to it.”
So, we drifted over Imperion, Cuomo, Valspur, Neece and the desert kingdom of Kush, which, like Gath, preferred to maintain the old ways. Kush rejected most modern technology outside of health care and genetically engineered crops. And air conditioning, pretty much a necessity when the average daily temperature during most of the year hovers over forty degrees Celsius. The Kushians trailed below our ship on horseback, carrying long rifles to protect themselves against sand-tigers and the lizard-like morions, drawing pictures with wax stylets on sheaves of paper and talking among themselves. They had one unusual but obviously useful modification: like chameleons, they could change color to blend into their surroundings, which varied from tan sandstone to red, iron rich rock. They seemed interested in our passage and thankfully didn’t try to shoot us down. I wondered if they had holo connections and were fans of the upcoming games.
We took our time. We wanted to be seen. The ship stopped twice, both times to pick up passengers. Denali was a small mountainous nation in the center of the continent, lumber, harvested from enormous hardwood trees, being their principal product. McClain was the only city, neatly laid out in a grid around the government center. The Endeavor floated to a mooring atop the Parliament building. We exited the ship, met the Prime Minister and his cabinet, had lunch at a restaurant that specialized in wild game, and trooped back into the ship before nightfall.
John Mead was the passenger, a big man with a perpetual smile, he moved slowly, as if careful not to damage other, more delicate human beings. I knew of John Mead. He had trained at the same dojo as Master Chen and owned a chain of martial arts academies that spread across the continent.
Denali, like so many nations in the wake of Gath’s challenge, had suddenly awakened to their own danger. Alliances were being made. Denali had entered into negotiations with the Guild Council and it had been decided that I would not be alone in entering the Grand Tournament.
Fine with me, not that I had anything to say about it.
John Mead looked at me with mild interest when we first met, as if wondering what made me think that I might have a chance at winning against the best fighters in Gath. I smiled back and let him wonder. At least, he was polite.
The mountains turned into foothills, then a high plain and a day later, we came to Hayden, a town on the edges of Lake Sierra, the third largest body of fresh water on the continent. Hayden was the home town of Alessandro Abruzzi. I had heard of him, as well. Five years before, he had entered the Grand Tournament of Gath, the only foreigner that year, and he had done better than anybody had expected, ranking forty-fifth out of the nearly five thousand who had entered. Apparently, he had decided to try again, and we were elected to help him do it.


About Robert I. Katz:

I grew up on Long Island, in a pleasant, suburban town about 30 miles from New York City. I loved to read from a very early age and graduated from Columbia in 1974 with a degree in English. Not encouraged by the job prospects for English majors at the time, I went on to medical school at Northwestern, where in addition to my medical degree, I acquired a life-long love of deep dish pizza. I did a residency in Anesthesiology at Columbia Presbyterian and spent most of my career at Stony Brook University, where I ultimately attained the academic rank of Professor and Vice-Chairman for Administration, Department of Anesthesiology.

When I was a child, I generally read five or more books per week, and even then, I had a dim sense that I could do at least as well as many of the stories that I was reading. Finally, around 1985, with a job and a family and my first personal computer, I began writing. I quickly discovered that it was not as easy as I had imagined, and like most beginning writers, it took me many years to produce a publishable work of fiction. My first novel, Edward Maret: A Novel of the Future, came out in 2001. It won the ASA Literary Prize for 2001 and received excellent reviews from Science Fiction Chronicle, InfinityPlus, Scavenger’s Newsletter and many others.

My agent at the time urged me to write mysteries, as mysteries are supposed to have a larger readership and be easier to publish than science fiction. Since I have read almost as many mysteries as science fiction and fantasy, and since I enjoy them just as much, I had no objection to this plan. The Kurtz and Barent mystery series, Surgical Risk, The Anatomy Lesson and Seizure followed between 2002 and 2009. Reviewers have compared them favorably to Patricia Cornwell and Robin Cook and they’ve received positive reviews from The Midwest Book Review, Mystery Review Magazine, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Lady M’s Mystery International, Mystery Scene Magazine, Library Journal and many others.

In 2014, I published a science fiction short story, To the Ends of the Earth in the Deep Blue Sea on Kindle for Amazon. Since then, I have made all of my previously published novels available for purchase on Kindle. A new science fiction novel, entitled The Cannibal's Feast, was published in July 2017. The next, entitled The Game Players of Meridien, a tale set far in the future after the collapse of the First Interstellar Empire of Mankind, is the first in a projected seven book science fiction series, and will be published on December 16, 2017. The second novel in the series, The City of Ashes, will appear early in 2018. In addition, a fourth novel in the Kurtz and Barent mystery series, The Chairmen, will also be published in the first half of 2018.

Website | Facebook | Mailing list

No comments:

Post a Comment