Sunday, July 29, 2018

The Science Fiction Novels

Click a cover to visit the novel's own page, where you'll find "backmatter," details, links to sample chapters and ordering links...

Standalone Titles

The NARC Series

The HELGATE Series

Gay science fiction novels ... it's a rich genre, and the one most often thought of when one thinks of Mel Keegan. There are no less than sixteen novels on the list for this category, if you call fantasy novels 'science fiction,' as most book stores seem to these days. (You always find the sword and sorcery filed cheek-by-jowl with the space wars and fictional mars missions.) 

The NARC series is five volumes, a set of stories which are the 'Gay science fiction reader's choice' of the Mel Keegan list. These novels tell the vast story of a paramilitary department, Narcotics And Riot Control, fighting a drug war four centuries from now, and their heroes, Jarrat and Stone, have achieved cult status. See DEATH'S HEAD, EQUINOX, SCORPIO, STOPOVER, APHELION and the ENDGAME OMNIBUS, whih comprises the final trilogy, SCIMITAR, BASILISK and ENDGAME -- three full-length novels which make for a 390,000 word behemoth finale.

The NARC books are a exercise in 'social science fiction.' Rather than examining the possibilities of artificial intelligence, alien creatures and more highly-evolved life forms, in these books Mel Keegan examines the human condition ... and this is what makes them so popular. It's the factor that makes social science fiction, as a genre, so popular. 

In the Mel Keegan brand of science fiction, the author creates a world where homosexuality is no longer an issue in any way, shape or form. You're gay. Where's the problem? People are completely free to choose their social niche. This is the 'upside' to this fictional universe. The 'downside' is that there are plenty of other things to worry about! One of them is the lethal designer drug called Angel. 

Mel Keegan's characters come from widely different backgrounds and lifestyles. They work with a common purpose on the space-borne aircraft carrier, the Athena. A single vocation gives them kinship. 

Everyone in the service has lost a loved one to a designer drug known as Angel. Lethal ... incurable ... seductive, this plague has built empires and torn them down. 

(Briefly, Narcotics And Riot Control (NARC) is a paramilitary department. Don't think army or air force. Think some combination of SWAT and a cutting-edge anti-terrorist squad, plus the US Coast Guard and (!) customs and quarantine. The working atmosphere is relaxed and a number of their 'mission specialists' — in computers, programing, medicine — are actually civilians. NARC was founded purely to fight the Angel plague, defeat the syndicates which achieve imperial status in the human colonies. This is the background for the series. It's the framework on which the stories 'hang.')

The stories themselves are about people — very real, often haunting ... and frequently, men in love with men. The themes which underlie the novels are often strongly gay, but on a broader level they're about the freedom to be what you are. This freedom should be a right, not a privilege. Yet, how many groups on Earth in our own century still struggle to achieve it? And this is where 'social science fiction' comes into its own as a genre. The NARC books are superb examples of this sub-category of SF. Readers have been enthralled since 1992, and many reviewers have raved. 

HIM magazine described DEATH'S HEAD as 'unputdownable.' In the same year, CAPITAL GAY called the novel 'a powerful futuristic thriller.' 

And in its year of publication (1992), DEATH'S HEAD was nominated for the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. Being a gay novel, it was less than likely to win over the giants of SF (Azimov, Clark, Bear...), but the nomination tells its own story. In the estimation of many readers, the NARC series is gay SF at its very best ... and it's a hard act to follow. NOTE: if you have the old GMP paperback, you're 25,000 words short of the whole book. The GMP version was heavily abridged. You need to be reading the UNabridged Death's Head to get the full picture! 

Pleasing the critics is one thing. Delighting readers — and doing it reliably over almost twenty years — is something else. And Mel Keegan has done this, with gay fiction of every description, from 1989 to 2018! 

Meanwhile, the HELLGATE series does indeed follow the NARC books, in more ways than one. More serial than series, HELLGATE is at six BIG novels, and tells the story of mankind's expansion into a region of space — the Deep Sky — where we will obliterated by an someone else's enemies ... if we don't wipe ourselves out first with the Colonial Wars which are just beginning to explode as the series starts. 

And here's the kicker: HELLGATE is set in the same 'universe' as NARC. The frontier has moved back from the Near Heavens (in which the NARC books take place, in the 24th century), to the Deep Sky, two centuries later. HELLGATE is complete, with the sixth and final volume published in Dacember 2013; since THE RABELAIS ALLIANCE was published (2001), we've tagged it as a 'masterwork of science fiction,' and this is rather an understatement! As per specifically gay science fiction, HELLGATE is as much a ground-breaker as the NARC series. 

Next are a raft of stand-alone novels, from TIGER, TIGER, which is set in Tasmania in the 2050s, to WINDRAGE, which is a post-apocalypse romp once described as 'a gay western on super-bikes after we get pulverised by an asteroid impact' ...! There's also CALLISTO SWITCH, about a switch pilot in the Jupiter system, on the eve of massive developments regarding the first human colony ships ... and AQUAMARINE, set in a 'drowned future,' where it was a comet that impacted in the Antarctic, and the new race of Aquarians, genetically-engineered humans, might be the future of mankind ... if any of us survive long enough. MINDSPACE is set in the same universe as HELLGATE, a century further on in time, and then -- 

The reader favorite (at least for stand-alone SF) by the proverbial country mile is MORE THAN HUMAN, which is a layers-deep story about "being different" in a world which categorizes people. It was an Editor's Choice "recommended rear" at ARe before that platform collapsed, and amassed five-star reviews across private book sites, all of which have "gone down" in recent years, sad to say. 

(And if gay fantasy is your preference, THE SWORDSMAN is sword and sorcery, Mel Keegan style, with an astonishing sting in its tail — a readers' favorite. Or, check out the fantasy list...)

This mobile friendly version of MEL KEEGAN ONLINE created and posted by webmaster JADE.

No comments:

Post a Comment