The Colonial Wars have exploded across the face of Omaru ... the unknown, unknowable Zunshu have begun to devour the worlds beyond the storms of the Rabelais Drift ... the Confederacy can only try to tighten its grip on the Deep Sky ... the last of the Resalq fight a covert battle for the survival of all ... and Harrison Shapiro's war -- the desperate struggle for the liberty of the every soul on the 'deep frontier' -- might die stillborn. Curtis Marin and Neil Travers are at the spearhead of action which will take them from the heights of On'rabi to the deepest pits of city bottom, on a world under siege ... and the future of the new worlds of the Deep Sky will be found in the dark heart of Hellgate. self.
Novel length: 155,000 words
Rated: adult (18+; sex, violence, language)
Publication date: 2006
Price: $9.99 - ebook
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Mel Keegan comments on CRY LIBERTY
Somewhere on this site, someneone once said, 'if you thought THE RABELAIS ALLIANCE was complex, wait till you get your teeth into this!' And those words are turning out to be somwhat prophetic, because as the HELLGATE series goes on, even the characters, and the relationships between them, are taking on a life of their own. In fact, there are dimensions in here which I hadn't seen till I was writing CRY LIBERTY ... which is the main reason CL overran by such a massive amount, it had to be split into two books. (The first half ends on a really nice, natural 'punctuation point:' it isn't a cliffhanger, and/but all the characters are about to take a breather. For Travers and Marin, this is especially important. They've been literally 'under the gun' for six months or more (in Travers's case, a lot longer), since the events at the beginning of RABELIAS.
In a TV series, you can get away with bombarding your characters with endless trauma, and they've always gotten over it by next week: the deaths of loved ones, watching friends and countrymen blown away -- no sweat. By the same time-slot next week they're fine ... not the case in real life. Within the structure of a book series, the writer can stay a bit closer to what would really happen, and if these guys don't get a break, they're going to be so shellshocked, they'll be no use to anyone. So PROBE addresses this 'lull' in their lives, on the rebound from the events of CRY LIBERTY.
CL gave me a chance to expand the scope of what I'm doing here, too, and it was a challenge I found very satisfying as a writer. The prolog, or Prelude, to the book became something 'separate' -- sure, it appears in the paperback, but you can lift it out and read it separately, extra to the whole series, if you like. In fact, when DreamCraft suggested issuing it as a free eBook, as a promotion for the launch of CRY LIBERTY, I thought this was a great idea. You get so much backstory on Leon and Roy, and also the other characters, such as Avi Hersch, Marty Cimino and so on ... if I'd tried to break up the narrative of CRY LIBERTY with these backstories (flashbacks or reminiscences??) the flow and pace of the book would have suffered badly. I knew I had to write this material, and package it somehow, and I evolved the idea of a prelude.
But I admit, I'd thought the prelude would be five, maybe eight thousand words long. In fact, it's over the 20,000 word mark, and as soon as I finished this segment, I knew we have problems of text length: there's only so much you can do in a paperback, if you want to mail it for A$15. Go past a certain thickness of parcel, or a certain weight, and the postage blows out (to something like A$24). I honestly believe the higher price makes books too darned expensive. I get used books from an online store, www.alibris.com, and often the shipping costs might be triple the cost of an old, well-used book. DreamCraft and I have talked this over many times: we're determined to keep the weight of our books under 500g, and slender enough to go through a kind of gaugue the post office has (they gave us one, so we can test things out prior to mailing). That way, the books can be classified as 'large letters,' and even after the March '06 hike in postage rates, we can still ship them for A$15, including insurance.
Sometimes, it's odd to be working inside length constraints again! With GMP, the ceiling was about 150,000 words; with DreamCraft, the ceiling is more like 225,000. I can work inside of these limiting factors ... but CRY LIBERTY was waaay over 225k. It was obvious at a glance, we were talking about two books, even though it's technically one story. Then again, the whole HELLGATE saga is technically one story, so, what the hell? CRY LIBERTY became two good-sized volumes, the second of which is entitled PROBE. And all that remains to be done to finish PROBE is the final round of edits and corrections, which are down to me, after DreamCraft finished the galley. It's been a blast, and I know this comes across in the books.
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