First three chapters of Gunslinger to the Stars on InstaFreebie!

It is exactly one month before Gunslinger to the Stars goes live, but if you want to read the first three chapters, they are available right now on InstaFreebie.

If you’re unfamiliar with InstaFreebie, it’s a site where you can download free books by sharing your name and email with the author. Basically, you sign up for the author’s newsletter, and you get a copy of their book. You can browse by genre or author, too.

In addition to this giveaway, I’ll start posting short 300 word excerpts on my blog starting in about a week. I’m also going to publish a prequel short story in the next few days. And of course, you can pre-order Gunslinger to the Stars right now by following one of the links below!

Buy now!

Captives in Obscurity — excerpt 9

“How do I figure into all of this?” Reva asked, her voice trembling. “What do you want from me?”

Gulchina looked her squarely in the eye. “I want you to take us there, Reva. I want you to be a mother to my men. To them, I may well be a god, but I am not immortal. And my dream will take generations to be realized.”

“Your dream?”

“To found a new nation: a people who live beyond the settled stars. With me as their god and you as their mother, we will raise up a free nation beyond the reach of any empire.”

Reva didn’t know what to say. Her hands still trembled, even though her fear now seemed unfounded. She’d known for a long time that Gulchina had been grooming her for something, but to become the mother of a nation? It sounded insane.

Or was it? Gulchina was right about one thing at least: Reva was a stranger and a vagabond. Ever since she had stepped out of that cryotank, she had struggled to find a place for herself in this strange, lonely universe. To become the mother of a nation—it sounded crazy, but if there was even a chance…

“You are an orphan child of the Outworlds,” said Gulchina, breaking the pensive silence. “You have absolutely nothing to lose.”

“What difference does that make?”

“Because it frees you to pursue that which you truly desire. Tell me, is there anything you want more than a new family and a home? A place where you fully belong?”

She’s right, Reva realized. I want that more than anything.

“I don’t know,” she said. “The things I’ve seen you do, I… I don’t know if I could do that.”

Gulchina tapped her tablet and returned to her chair. The holographic projector switched off, and the lights faded back on.

“We have been over this before, Reva. Corporal Sarnai’s execution was unfortunate, but necessary.”

“But making it into a spectacle—don’t you think that was a little excessive?”

“Nations can only be born in blood, Reva. And if I am cruel, it is because the stars themselves are cruel. On a starship such as ours, every duty is of critical importance. A failure at any point could lead to catastrophe, and in the outer reaches of space, there is no one who will come to our rescue. And so I must maintain discipline at all costs.”

“But still—”

“Do you think I took pleasure in his death?” Gulchina asked. “Do you think I enjoyed watching his corpse drift out into the empty void? There may have been an element of spectacle to the execution, but I assure you, Reva, my tears were real.”

“They were?”

Gulchina leaned forward and put a hand on Reva’s knee. At her touch, Reva’s legs went weak, and her hands stopped trembling.

“Yes, Reva. I love my men—all of them. That is why I push them so hard. I want them to become something greater than any of them could be apart.”

“And what about me?” Reva asked, her voice barely louder than a whisper.

“I believe that you are capable of far more than you realize. When I first took you onto this ship, I could see it in your eyes. You may not fully believe in yourself, Reva, but I do. And I am ready to share all that I have with you.”

She means it, Reva realized. She really does.


Captives in Obscurity, book 5 in the Sons of the Starfarers series, will be available in ebook form tomorrow. Pre-order or find out more below:

Captives in Obscurity

Captives in Obscurity

There is no escape beyond Star's End.

Isaac and Reva are running out of time. Gulchina's cruelty knows no bounds, and on the edge of known space, no one can stop her. But an unexplored planet holds an ancient alien secret that may prove to be a game changer.
Order Now!
About the Book

THERE IS NO ESCAPE BEYOND STAR’S END.

The deadliest pirates in the galaxy have stolen the technology that will transform it. Now, on the edge of known space, they are poised to start an empire of their own.

Isaac and Reva are running out of time. Neither of them knows the extent of Gulchina’s plans, or whether the madwoman will keep them both alive after she achieves them.

But an unexplored planet beyond the Far Outworlds holds an ancient alien secret that not even Gulchina has uncovered. That secret will tip the balance in

SONS OF THE STARFARERS
BOOK V: CAPTIVES IN OBSCURITY

This series is rated T! according to the AO3 content rating system.

Details
Author:
Series: Sons of the Starfarers, Book 5
Genres: Science Fiction, Space Opera
Publication Year: May 2016
Length: short novel
List Price: 2.99
Order Now
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from GoodReads
Buy from Inktera
Buy from Kobo
Buy from Scribd
Buy from Smashwords
About the Author
Joe Vasicek

Joe Vasicek fell in love with science fiction with Star Wars as a child and hasn't looked back since. He is the author of more than twenty books, including Genesis Earth, Bringing Stella Home, Heart of the Nebula, and the Star Wanderers and Sons of the Starfarers series. As a young man, he studied Arabic at Brigham Young University and traveled across the Middle East and the Caucasus. He currently lives in Utah, which he claims as his home.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. You will not receive any additional charge.

Captives in Obscurity — excerpt 8

Gulchina’s private quarters were unlike any other place on the ship. A stunningly ornate rug covered the floor, its intricate woven design mesmerizing the eye. The table that sat in the center was made from authentic wood and inlaid with mosaic patterns of burgundy, teal, and mother-of-pearl. The wallscreens were set to show planetscapes viewed from the surface, mostly of deserts with ancient ruins jutting out like the bones of long-dead civilizations. The only sign that they were still on a starship was the single porthole on the opposite wall.

The door slid shut with a faint hiss, making Reva flinch.

“You are wondering why I called you here,” Gulchina said, waiting for Reva to take the other chair before resuming her seat across the wooden table. “I have many duties to attend to, so we will not waste time with small talk.”

“Very well,” said Reva.

Gulchina tapped the keypad on the armrest of her chair, and a server bot emerged from an unseen receptacle with two glasses of hot tea. Reva accepted one of the porcelain cups and held it in her lap while Gulchina took a sip from hers.

“In the next twenty-four hours, I will leave the Temujin to oversee an operation several parsecs from here. I am leaving Commander Wolf in command.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“Because I believe you have something to tell me—a secret you have been keeping from me for some time.”

Reva’s heart skipped a beat, and her legs went suddenly numb. “What do you mean?”

“We have already agreed not to waste each other’s time. I advise you not to test my patience.”

Sweat began to pool on the back of Reva’s neck as her mind raced for some excuse. She set her cup down carefully on the table, her hand trembling noticeably. Gulchina eyed her with all the studied patience of a cat waiting to pounce.

“I-I didn’t think you knew.”

“I make it a point to know of everything that happens on my ship.”

“It’s just an innocent fling, I swear. We had a history together, and after you took us captive, our feelings for each other—”

“I’m not talking about your bi-weekly make-out sessions in the fourth deck maintenance closet,” said Gulchina. “That was merely a cover for your true intent.”

Reva’s fear quickly turned to panic. Her clandestine meetings with Isaac, their secret plans to escape—there was nothing Gulchina didn’t know. Corporal Sarnai’s execution and Ensign Matsuda’s ritual suicide flashed across her mind, threatening to break her.

“Are you going to kill me?” she asked softly.

“If you don’t confess, I will be forced to.”

Reva hung her head. “Isaac and I—we were planning to escape.”

Gulchina rose to her feet and began to pace. The wallscreens shifted to display a panoramic deep space starfield. The room dimmed noticeably, with the milky band of the galaxy stretching all around the room.

“It was all my idea though,” Reva said quickly, surprising herself. “I was the one who initiated it. If anyone should be punished, it’s—”

“Ever since I took you on board this ship, I have been testing you,” Gulchina interrupted her. “By now, it must be obvious why.”

“Because you’ve been grooming me as your successor?” Though Reva had always suspected as much, neither of them had openly said it until now.

“Indeed. And I must confess, you’ve performed quite admirably. In only a matter of months, you’ve learned our language and become quite fluent in it. Your insights into history have been incisive, and your observations of the crew have demonstrated a remarkable understanding of the principles of leadership. You have consistently shown yourself to be resourceful, independent, adept, and intelligent.”

But what? What are you trying to get at?

“You have great potential,” Gulchina continued. “If only you had had the ambition to match it.”

“What makes you think I ever wanted any of this?” Reva cried, her heart pounding. “That I wanted to be your—your protégé?” Now that her plot with Isaac had been exposed, she had nothing left to lose. It terrified and invigorated her at the same time to speak so openly.

“Because you are alone in this universe, Reva. You are a stranger, a vagabond. Your people are extinct, their culture and language forgotten. Without me, you are lost.”

“And how can you change any of that?”

Gulchina smiled. “By making you the mother of a great nation.”


Captives in Obscurity, book 5 in the Sons of the Starfarers series, will be available in ebook form on May 15th. Pre-order or find out more below:

Captives in Obscurity

Captives in Obscurity

There is no escape beyond Star's End.

Isaac and Reva are running out of time. Gulchina's cruelty knows no bounds, and on the edge of known space, no one can stop her. But an unexplored planet holds an ancient alien secret that may prove to be a game changer.
Order Now!
About the Book

THERE IS NO ESCAPE BEYOND STAR’S END.

The deadliest pirates in the galaxy have stolen the technology that will transform it. Now, on the edge of known space, they are poised to start an empire of their own.

Isaac and Reva are running out of time. Neither of them knows the extent of Gulchina’s plans, or whether the madwoman will keep them both alive after she achieves them.

But an unexplored planet beyond the Far Outworlds holds an ancient alien secret that not even Gulchina has uncovered. That secret will tip the balance in

SONS OF THE STARFARERS
BOOK V: CAPTIVES IN OBSCURITY

This series is rated T! according to the AO3 content rating system.

Details
Author:
Series: Sons of the Starfarers, Book 5
Genres: Science Fiction, Space Opera
Publication Year: May 2016
Length: short novel
List Price: 2.99
Order Now
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from GoodReads
Buy from Inktera
Buy from Kobo
Buy from Scribd
Buy from Smashwords
About the Author
Joe Vasicek

Joe Vasicek fell in love with science fiction with Star Wars as a child and hasn't looked back since. He is the author of more than twenty books, including Genesis Earth, Bringing Stella Home, Heart of the Nebula, and the Star Wanderers and Sons of the Starfarers series. As a young man, he studied Arabic at Brigham Young University and traveled across the Middle East and the Caucasus. He currently lives in Utah, which he claims as his home.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. You will not receive any additional charge.

Captives in Obscurity — excerpt 7

Isaac turned down the next side corridor and walked quickly, his heart beginning to race. At the end of the corridor, a hatch led to the maintenance shaft for the docking bay equipment. It was the only way to get close enough to the outrider shuttles to sync with one without being seen. Isaac was pretty sure he could do it without alerting the ship’s AI, but he didn’t know the network’s architecture well enough to be sure. This was going to take some time.

After glancing behind him to make sure no one was watching, he swung the hatch open and climbed in. The only light in the place came from a single caged bulb on each level, glowing a sickly reddish orange. He ran down the stairs as quietly as he could manage and pushed into the narrow crawlspace on his knees and elbows.

Pipes and conduit ran along the walls on either side of him, some of them corroding. He slid carefully around a section of exposed and fraying wires. At length, he reached the section where he estimated the outriders to be. By pressing his face against the floor in the narrow crawlspace, he managed to reach around to his back pocket and pull out the console.

“Come on, come on,” he whispered as the device cycled out of sleep mode. Footsteps sounded through the bulkheads somewhere above him.

As soon as the console was active, he toggled through a series of menus, looking for the connectivity options. Thankfully, it didn’t automatically connect to the ship’s network—Reva must have had the foresight to turn that functionality off. But the operating system was one that he’d never seen before, and the GUI was counterintuitive and difficult to navigate. All of the options were in the wrong places, and none of the menu options made sense.

Sweat formed on his forehead as he tried to figure out how to work the damn thing. If he was gone much longer, someone was bound to get suspicious. The crawlspace was too narrow to turn around in, and he soon felt as if the walls were closing in.

Taking a deep breath, he paused for a moment to calm himself and try again. This time, things began to fall into place. He found the menu for connectivity and began cycling through the options.

At that moment, the bulkheads began to hum. Isaac ignored it at first, thinking it was just in his head, but the humming soon became too loud for him to ignore. He frowned and looked around him, only to realized that the floor grating was starting to vibrate.

We’re about to make a jump, he realized.

He paused for a few moments to wait it out. Instead of resolving, though, the humming became louder and more intense. The walls of the crawlspace seemed to collapse on him, while paradoxically growing wider at the same time. He closed his eyes, expecting it to end at any moment, but the buildup only became more intense.

Just when he thought he couldn’t possibly handle it anymore, the universe seemed to flip inside out. He gasped, and in a moment of panic thought that he was outside the ship. But when he opened his eyes again, he found himself lying in the crawlspace exactly as before.

That wasn’t a normal jump, he realized. We must have gone almost a light-year. Maybe even farther.

The thought made his heart start to pound. Normal starships never made jumps that big—it was just too dangerous. The farther one tried to travel in a single jump, the harder it was to predict where the ship would actually emerge from jumpspace. And while the likelihood of crashing into a planet or an asteroid or the heart of a star was practically infinitesimal, emerging in a high density region like a nebula or a molecular cloud could cause irreparable damage.

Not if the pirates are using the jump beacon technology they stole from us, Isaac realized. That technology would allow even a large ship like the Temujin to jump from beacon to beacon with hardly any risk. A voyage of months could be reduced to a few days.

Either way, the message was clear: He and Reva had to escape at the earliest opportunity.


Captives in Obscurity, book 5 in the Sons of the Starfarers series, will be available in ebook form on May 15th. Pre-order or find out more below:

Captives in Obscurity

Captives in Obscurity

There is no escape beyond Star's End.

Isaac and Reva are running out of time. Gulchina's cruelty knows no bounds, and on the edge of known space, no one can stop her. But an unexplored planet holds an ancient alien secret that may prove to be a game changer.
Order Now!
About the Book

THERE IS NO ESCAPE BEYOND STAR’S END.

The deadliest pirates in the galaxy have stolen the technology that will transform it. Now, on the edge of known space, they are poised to start an empire of their own.

Isaac and Reva are running out of time. Neither of them knows the extent of Gulchina’s plans, or whether the madwoman will keep them both alive after she achieves them.

But an unexplored planet beyond the Far Outworlds holds an ancient alien secret that not even Gulchina has uncovered. That secret will tip the balance in

SONS OF THE STARFARERS
BOOK V: CAPTIVES IN OBSCURITY

This series is rated T! according to the AO3 content rating system.

Details
Author:
Series: Sons of the Starfarers, Book 5
Genres: Science Fiction, Space Opera
Publication Year: May 2016
Length: short novel
List Price: 2.99
Order Now
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from GoodReads
Buy from Inktera
Buy from Kobo
Buy from Scribd
Buy from Smashwords
About the Author
Joe Vasicek

Joe Vasicek fell in love with science fiction with Star Wars as a child and hasn't looked back since. He is the author of more than twenty books, including Genesis Earth, Bringing Stella Home, Heart of the Nebula, and the Star Wanderers and Sons of the Starfarers series. As a young man, he studied Arabic at Brigham Young University and traveled across the Middle East and the Caucasus. He currently lives in Utah, which he claims as his home.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. You will not receive any additional charge.

Captives in Obscurity — excerpt 6

“What thinkest thou of the execution?”

A chill ran down Reva’s back as she remembered watching the corporal get sucked out the airlock. “It was… unpleasant,” she said, understating her own horror.

“Indeed, but ‘twas also necessary,” Gulchina told her. “Mutiny is a disease which must be purged. Every soul which doth not fulfill his duty is as a scourge, for the ship must operate as a body—the many must unite as a single whole.”

“Why are you keeping me, then?” Reva asked softly.

“Because I have a use for thee, which thou shalt learn of hereafter.”

What sort of use? she thought. Fear froze her tongue, though, and she decided it would be best not to ask too many questions.

“And what did you think of my speech?” Gulchina asked, switching abruptly to her own language.

“What speech?”

“Don’t be coy with me, Reva. The speech about our celestial birthright. The speech that made the crew cry out for vengeance against the corporal’s betrayal.”

Reva’s skin tingled as Gulchina traced the designs on her neck. She tensed as the henna chilled her, gripping the edge of the table as goosebumps shot across her arms. Lifting her chin, she did her best to hide her vulnerability.

I think it makes you absolutely insane.

“I don’t think I understood it,” she said, figuring that Gulchina was really just looking for a way to lecture her on it. Better to open the door and move the discussion as far away from herself as possible.

Gulchina’s lip curled up into a sneer. “What about it don’t you understand?”

Crap, Reva thought to herself, her mind racing.

“It’s just—why this talk of a birthright among the unknown stars? What use are those stars if no one lives there?”

“Ah,” said Gulchina, her expression softening somewhat. “Reva, you must learn to expand your vision. What were greatest empires in the legendary history of Earth?”

So it’s a test now, not a lecture, Reva realized with some dismay. Gulchina was always testing her, and she never felt that she quite measured up.

“There were many great empires: the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Turks, Mongols, British, Americans—”

“And how many of these empires survived?”

Reva frowned. “What do you mean?”

“How many of those empires last to this day?”

The question was nonsensical, considering that the Earth of Legend had long since passed into the realm of myth. Ever since the ancient colonization of Gaia Nova, the location of Earth had been lost, and none had been able to rediscover it. The only evidence that it had even existed was the legendary database the colonists had carried with them, the sum of human knowledge. The histories from that database had been handed down from generation to generation, and Gulchina had collected many of them. It was from those histories that she selected passages for Reva to study.

“We don’t know,” Reva answered. “Earth has been lost to us for thousands of years.”

“Then how many empires survived long enough to reasonably still exist today?”

Is this a trick question? Reva wondered, cold sweat beginning to collect on the back of her neck. She shivered, and not just from the henna drying on her skin.

“None of them.”

“Indeed,” said Gulchina. “It is the first rule of history that every empire must fall. The Earth of Legend was littered with their bones.”

“But what does that have to do with our birthright?”

Gulchina paused in her work to look Reva in the eye. “Do you know what we are?”

“Pirates?” Reva guessed.

“No, Reva, not merely pirates. The ancient Muslims divided the world into two parts: Dar Al-Islam, the lands of submission, and Dar Al-Harb, the lands of war. They inherited this concept from the ancient Romans, who divided the world between civilization and the barbarians. We are the barbarians, Reva—or as the Muslims later called them, the “Hameji.” We are the ones who reject civilization and refuse to submit to their control. And just as the barbarians overthrew Rome and Baghdad in turn, so too shall we tear down the Gaian Empire and lay waste the Coreward Stars.

“But first,” Gulchina continued, her cold eyes aflame, “we must journey into the wilderness, build our strength, and become a mighty people. That is where the birthright comes in.”

She’s crazy, Reva thought to herself. She’s absolutely mad.

Gulchina drew the tip of the brush across Reva’s face, finishing the last details. “If you think that the stars are empty, my dear Reva, you are gravely mistaken. The near ancients realized this when they built their magnificent observatories and telescopes. As they gazed into the vastness of space, they recognized that it was the height of folly to believe that man is alone in the universe.”

“What do you mean?” Reva asked, her voice barely louder than a whisper.

“The human race is not the only intelligent race in the universe. Somewhere out among the unknown stars, there are sentient alien beings possessing intelligence like us. We do not know when or where we will find them, but if we are to claim our birthright, we cannot avoid making contact.”


Captives in Obscurity, book 5 in the Sons of the Starfarers series, will be available in ebook form on May 15th. Pre-order or find out more below:

Captives in Obscurity

Captives in Obscurity

There is no escape beyond Star's End.

Isaac and Reva are running out of time. Gulchina's cruelty knows no bounds, and on the edge of known space, no one can stop her. But an unexplored planet holds an ancient alien secret that may prove to be a game changer.
Order Now!
About the Book

THERE IS NO ESCAPE BEYOND STAR’S END.

The deadliest pirates in the galaxy have stolen the technology that will transform it. Now, on the edge of known space, they are poised to start an empire of their own.

Isaac and Reva are running out of time. Neither of them knows the extent of Gulchina’s plans, or whether the madwoman will keep them both alive after she achieves them.

But an unexplored planet beyond the Far Outworlds holds an ancient alien secret that not even Gulchina has uncovered. That secret will tip the balance in

SONS OF THE STARFARERS
BOOK V: CAPTIVES IN OBSCURITY

This series is rated T! according to the AO3 content rating system.

Details
Author:
Series: Sons of the Starfarers, Book 5
Genres: Science Fiction, Space Opera
Publication Year: May 2016
Length: short novel
List Price: 2.99
Order Now
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from GoodReads
Buy from Inktera
Buy from Kobo
Buy from Scribd
Buy from Smashwords
About the Author
Joe Vasicek

Joe Vasicek fell in love with science fiction with Star Wars as a child and hasn't looked back since. He is the author of more than twenty books, including Genesis Earth, Bringing Stella Home, Heart of the Nebula, and the Star Wanderers and Sons of the Starfarers series. As a young man, he studied Arabic at Brigham Young University and traveled across the Middle East and the Caucasus. He currently lives in Utah, which he claims as his home.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. You will not receive any additional charge.