Author of the SECTOR 64 Series

Award-Winning Present-Day Apocalyptic Science Fiction

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Plausible Alien First Contact (Part I)

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For the backstory of my novel, SECTOR 64: Ambush, I put forth an alien first contact scenario that my readers find very plausible, some even wondering aloud if this could be our current reality.

Let’s imagine that elsewhere in the galaxy a species elevated itself from the primordial soup a million years ahead of us. Making the most of that thousand-millennia head start, they master physics, achieve faster than light (FTL) travel, and populate thousands of star systems.

Always looking for burgeoning technological societies to bring into the galactic government, they populate the galaxy with a network of detectors designed to watch for certain markers thought to be key indicators, i.e.: unnaturally organized radio waves or light waves (laser beams) and unnatural fission reactions (nuclear detonations). Some, like radio waves, would probably just be annotated for future research. Others, like nuclear detonations, would require a more urgent investigation.

While they’ve mastered FTL travel and communications, their sensors are still limited to detecting occurrences at the speed of light. In other words, if a burgeoning society starts blasting radio waves or nuclear electromagnetic pulses (EMPs) across the cosmos, our curious aliens wouldn’t detect it until the wave traveled at the speed of light to the nearest sensor. Then it could use their FTL sub-space communication network to pass on the news.

To comprehend the logistics involved, we must have a full appreciation of the galaxy’s size. It’s a BIG galaxy. If our curious aliens only wanted to deploy ten million sensors, they would have to disperse them throughout the galaxy on a grid with one-hundred light-year spacing. The Milky Way is 100,000 light-years across and one thousand light-years thick. That means if you could travel across the entire width of the galaxy at the speed of light, the Earth would circle the Sun 100,000 times during your trek. (Note: these are external observations. The hypothetical FTL traveler would experience this time quite differently, but that’s a subject for a future blog.) Even if you could travel at an incredible 100,000 times the speed of light, an Earth year would pass in the time it took you to traverse the galaxy.

When it comes to jaunting about the Milky Way, your FTL travel would have to be SIGNIFICANTLY faster than the speed of light to be of any appreciable use. The reason scientist and sci-fi writers often employ worm holes is their hypothetical ability to fold space. Joining two points of space-time, like folding a paper in half, brings two remote points together, rendering interstellar travel as simple as stepping through a door.

Back to our first contact scenario. Because of the aforementioned galactic scale, our fictional aliens have quite a few (read: ten million) sensors spread throughout the Milky Way. One day, they receive a signal indicating that a nuclear device detonated on a planet in the remote portion of the galaxy identified as SECTOR 64. They discover the signal originated from a medium-sized rocky planet in a solar system only two light-years from the sensor. (That would be very fortuitous, remember our one-hundred light-year spacing.)

So our curious aliens fold space-time and dispatch a couple of scout ships to SECTOR 64. Arriving only a few days after their sensor detected the first nuclear blast, they arrive on the planet the locals (humans) call Earth, in a year the humans have designated as one thousand nine hundred and forty-seven or 1947. Because of the sensor’s two light-year distance from the planet, two Earth years have passed since their original nuclear detonations in 1945.

Our curious alien scouts travel to the only place on the planet where they detect nuclear weapons. It happens to be relatively close to where the first nuclear detonation occurred. The humans call the region New Mexico.

In 1947 only one nuclear-armed bomber squadron existed, the 509th Bomber Group based at an Army Air Corp Base known as Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF).

Yep, you guessed it. That’s near an infamous small town named Roswell, New Mexico.

In a tragic accident, one of the scout ships is knocked down by a surprisingly powerful thunderstorm. (Most planets they’ve explored don’t have such strong electrical storms—okay work with me here, that’s probably the biggest stretch for this scenario).

Finally, the surviving curious alien scout goes on to make first contact with world leaders of the day.

Read Part II of my Plausible Alien First Contact Scenario to find out about the decades-long program that our hypothetical galactic government would use to integrate us knuckle draggers into their society. Discover why it would be a secret program, even today, almost seventy years later.

Sound like an interesting backstory for a novel?

Check out my award-winning sci-fi novel, Sector 64: Ambush. Available as an ebook, audiobook, and paperback.

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Will We Find ET in the Next 20 Years?

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In a Popular Science article, SETI director Seth Shostak said he believes we’ll detect alien life in the next twenty years. He listed a few ways in which this may come about. Primarily, he believes that SETI’s improving technology and its anticipated ability to search a million star systems over the next twenty years provides the most likely avenue for success.

He also touched on the idea that an alien race might detect the radio signals we’ve been emitting for decades and send a reply. Minimizing the possibility, he pointed out that only a few tens of thousands of stars have been exposed to our transmissions.

If one employs conservative/pessimistic numbers in the Drake Equation, then life is probably too rare and scattered to expect a reply anytime in the next several thousand years. However, if you plug slightly more optimistic values into the equation, you see a galaxy teaming with life.

This later scenario presents exciting possibilities and is an area that warrants further consideration.

Given the relatively slow speed of light (relative to the size of the galaxy) only a tiny fraction of the Milky Way may know we exist. Arguably the most powerful unnatural radio signals humanity ever sent out were our above ground nuclear detonations. Restricted to 186,000 miles per second, that energy has blazed across the galaxy and covered a whopping 66 light-year radius in the intervening 66 years. That’s a bubble of information roughly 122 light-years across.

Big huh?

Not really, it’s only 3/100,000 of 1 % (0.000003%) of the galaxy.

Difficult to visualize? Imagine you shrunk the galaxy down to the volume of the Superdome. Now imagine you’re up in the nosebleed section. At that scale, picture a four-foot-wide beach ball at mid-field. That sphere, a few centimeters over a meter, would represent the 122 light-year bubble of stars exposed to the energy waves emitted from the planet in 1945. It’s unlikely anything outside of that beach ball even knows we exist.

Our galaxy is not as boxy as a stadium. The Superdome’s interior volume is roughly as tall as it is wide. At 100,000 light-years across and only 1,000 light-years thick, the width-to-height ratio of our galaxy is 100:1  Now picture that four-foot sphere from a mile away instead of the upper-deck. And remember that if you’re not in that bubble, all you hear from its center point is cosmic white noise.

Knowing how small the portion of the galaxy is that may know of our existence, consider this: every day that sphere’s radius grows, its surface grows exponentially. In other words, the potential pool of star systems learning of our existence is growing daily, and at an ever-increasing rate.

Complicating the issue is the time a reply would take to reach us. If a civilization decides to beam an instant reply, it will take just as long for us to receive it as our signal took to get to them.

What if 33 years ago—back when that bubble was the size of a basketball—a relatively advanced civilization in our galactic backyard received the signal and blasted a return message our way? We’ll receive it thirty-three years later (today). Therefore, any instant replies beamed in the last 32+ years are still en route.

And that is only if they decide to reply immediately. Considering the signal they received was a nuclear detonation, they may want to listen for a while. After a few decades of I Love Lucy, Gilligan’s Island, Cheers, Seinfeld, and Lost, they decide, ‘what-the-hell let’s say hello to our wacky neighbors.’

Side note: I often muse over the idea that somewhere there’s an alien race agonizing over who shot JR as they painfully wait for the next season of Dallas to reach their planet. Who knows, there may even be a cultural niche of Elvis Presley fans on some remote rock (there’s some bad news heading their way circa 1976).

People and politicians often ask, ‘Why should we spend money listening for aliens? It’s not like they’ll balance the federal budget for us.’ That’s tantamount to a five-year-old saying, ‘Why should I go to school? There’s nothing they can teach me.’ Setting aside man’s innate curiosity and our desire to answer the burning questions—Are we alone? Is there anybody out there?—there are more practical reasons to search.

In regards to social and scientific development, we are assuredly babes in the galactic woods. Any data gathered from alien contact would probably be more enlightening than Pythagoras’ Theorem. Spanning decades, it would be an inefficient discussion, but likely, we would be the prime beneficiary of that interaction. Thus, a tiny-tiny-tiny-minuscule investment (relative to GDP) lands us invaluable knowledge.

In Carl Sagan’s Contact, aliens send us blueprints for a wormhole generator. But saving that, what if they merely said, ‘Hello, here’s the perfect mouse trap’ or ‘free energy and the cure to world hunger’?

 

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Retribution: Book Two of Sector 64 Now on Amazon and KindleUnlimited

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Retribution: Book 2 of Sector 64 Now Available!

Get your copy of Retribution today!

**Exciting Conclusion to the Sector 64 SciFi Duology**
**Sequel to Ambush—IndieReader Best of Science Fiction**

Retribution: Book Two of Sector 64 Now on Amazon and KindleUnlimited!

It’s 2015. Air Force Fighter Pilots Jake Giard and Sandra Fitzpatrick saved the world … twice!

But that was yesterday.

Following the apocalyptic events of Ambush, Jake must board and somehow control the advanced alien fleet of huge ghost ships before they start falling into the Atlantic.

Yesterday, Captain Sandra Fitzpatrick found out she’s pregnant. Then she helped save the world. Tomorrow, if she can keep her condition a secret (even from Jake, the father to be), Sandy may lead space fighters into combat.

If Jake and Sandy prevail, can Earth’s ravaged militaries master the fleet’s technologies? Can today’s naval forces adapt now outdated tactics to the limitless battlefield of space?

On the newly settled Argonian colony world of Chuvarti,  scientist Remulkin Thramorus watched the enemy vaporize his entire family along with every man, woman, and child. As the world’s sole survivor, Remulkin joins the ravaged Galactic Defense Forces en route to Galactic Sector 64. Will Remulkin find peace, or will his thirst for vengeance destroy him?

Retribution Cover Art 1.1

After the battle for Chuvarti, the GDF’s Supreme Commander needs to find out what happened to the fleet he sent to Earth space. However, with an unknown spy threatening to tip the balance and the remainder of the enemy fleet on the move, it’s a race against time. The Galactic Defense Forces must get to the Sol System before the enemy’s main force. But if they do, what happens when the GDF discovers Earth’s militaries operating their ships?

As the Milky Way’s two most powerful armadas loose their engines of destruction over present day Earth, the remnants of humankind must rise from the ashes like a Phoenix.

With the fate of the galaxy in their hands, can Jake and his ragtag team make a stand?

Click the link to get your copy of the exciting sequel to the award-winning sci-fi KindleUnlimited novel.

http://www.amazon.com/Retribution-Book-Two-Sector-Duology-ebook/dp/B017RWRFWO

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Plausible Alien First Contact (Part II)

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Close-EncountersHow We’d Integrate Into a Hypothetical Galactic Government.

In Part I, I laid out the plausible alien first contact scenario that forms the backstory of my novel, SECTOR 64: Ambush. As promised at the end of that post, I’m back to postulate how things would pan out post-contact.

Given the premise that this alien species/society is extremely advanced and has been at the business of heading the galactic government for unknown millennia, we have to assume that this isn’t their first rodeo. They’ve initiated first contact with hundreds if not thousands of burgeoning societies across the galaxy. Through trial and error, they’ve perfected this process.

So when they stumbled into another race in a backwoods portion of the galaxy, galactic sector number 64, they made first contact. Once the contactees adjusted to the news, the galactic ambassadors briefed them on the two underlying facts of the galactic integration program:

  1. It is a decades-long program designed to streamline your society, governments, and economy for galactic integration.
  2. Secrecy is paramount. Why? The galactic government refined the process through thousands of iterations. During previous transitions, the political, economic, and social implications of premature disclosure regularly created unacceptable hardships on the integrating populations. If everybody knows of the transition, then all the time and energy invested in softening the socio/economic blow will be for naught. In short, disclosure defeats the purpose of a phased integration.

Here are the stipulations the ambassadors named for galactic integration:

  • The world’s governments must conform to galactic standards. In my fictional book, this ties into the gradual worldwide shifts toward an economic and cultural center. Examples include the collapse of the Soviet Union and subsequent Capitalization/Democratization of its member nations, the gradual transition of China away from strict communism, and the social reforms of the West.
  • The phased shift of economies away from a fossil fuel energy base. Our continued and growing fossil fuel dependence highlights the fictional nature of my scenario. Our economy is getting more, not less intertwined in them. In my fictional scenario, the galactic powers instruct Earth governments to push a phased introduction of alternate energy solutions.

Wait, are we talking fiction or reality?

This alien first contact scenario is merely the premise or backstory of my novel; it is not the meat and potatoes of the story.

Click here to read more about SECTOR 64: Ambush.

The Final Result

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Do Indie Authors Need Editors?

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The Indie Publishing School of Hard Knocks

Do indie authors need editors? Read on.

I released my first book in 2011, a novella that briefly rose to the top of Amazon’s sci-fi charts. In 2013, it was a third prize recipient in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards. The novella, SECTOR 64: Coup de Main, garnered many five-star reviews, but rightfully, it also earned a few negative appraisals.

I sharpened my trade while working on book two of the two-book series, and it became apparent that my first effort did not deliver the polish and finish I initially thought. Essentially, I was that guy, the guy traditional publishers pointed at when berating the indie publishing world. If you did a Wiki search of the indie publishing stereotype, you’d likely have found my smiling mug at the top of the article. I never imagined I’d be that guy, but there I was, putting out a book that passed all the MS Word grammar checks, but nonetheless presented a myriad of amateur errors.

When I earned my military pilot wings, it was with the assistance of numerous professional instructors and extensive training. When I built my custom motorcycle, I sought out professional assistance, and now, building an airplane, I tap my pre-pilot history as a helicopter mechanic and the knowledge base of various professionals throughout the industry. However, when I finished my novella, I didn’t think I needed a professional editor.

I was wrong.

The Algebraic Curve

As I soon discovered, the road to literary excellence is an algebraic curve; it is a constant struggle to push the line of progress ever closer to that elusive goal. When authors go it alone, that curve takes exponentially longer to reach the same area code as the axis of perfection.

After a not insignificant amount of soul searching, I paid heed to those few negative reviews and read between the lines of some of the other, less glowing ones. I halted work on book two, reopened the source files for my first book, and hired a professional editor.

From his inputs as well as the feedback from various reviewers, I formulated a plan. In addition to its mechanics, my book’s characters needed further development. For instance, my main female character, Air Force Captain Sandra Fitzpatrick, plays a huge role in book two, but in book one, I had Sandy, an elite fighter pilot, sitting on her thumb while aliens attack.

With editorial assistance, I rewrote the entire story, fleshed-out the characters, cleaned up the writing, and threw some aliens at the West Coast, sending Sandy after them. Developing her storyline and character afforded me the opportunity to develop the other protagonists through her eyes.

The new material, characters, and scenes more than doubled the size of the original book. In the process, the 52,000-word novella grew into SECTOR 64: Ambush, a 108,000-word full-length novel.

See It on Amazon

Do Indie Authors Need Editors? Hell yeah!

The Path

Along the way, I filled my writer’s toolbox with techniques and tools that vastly improved my prose. For instance, once you have that sentence, paragraph, or scene just the way you want it, use your device’s text-to-speech feature to have it read said prose back to you. Echoing headwords stand out, and the computer will not glean over typos or missing words. Additionally, it highlights clunky sentences, the ones that require multiple passes for full comprehension, the ones that yank readers from a story like a stick jammed in the spokes of a speeding bicycle. When spoken aloud by your computer, a sentence that sounded perfect to your mind’s ear may suddenly sound clunky. This technique dramatically improved the flow of my writing, eliminating the literary tripping hazards.

Once I had the scene edited and flowing, I loaded it into Grammarly’s grammar checker as a final stopgap. It is a premium service and well worth the price. Over a period of months, the status of scene after scene cycled from Revised Draft to Final Draft, until finally, the last of ninety scenes crossed the finish line. Then, I handed my editors a vastly improved manuscript.

Before I started the rewrite, when my first editor went through the book, the errors were so ubiquitous, he was unable to do a granular editorial pass. It limited him to pointing out the basic mechanics missing throughout the manuscript and making general suggestions on character and story development. More than a year later—and due to scheduling conflicts, with a new editor—the process was painless. The manuscript progressed smoothly and quickly into a finished novel.

The final result has reviewers comparing me and Ambush to the industry’s heavy-hitters.

Dean M. Cole is without a doubt the next Dan Brown. Sector 64 is a book that you can’t put down.” — Amazon Reviewer

Even the hard knocking reviewers at Goodreads have awarded Ambush an average of 4.1 stars with over 70 ratings to date. (Coup de Main had 2.84—and still does, ouch.)

Audible published the audiobook version in November. Nationally recognized narrator Mike Ortego lent his voice to the project. You will know him as the voice from audiobooks and documentaries as well as commercials for Toyota, Kingsford Charcoal, Coke Zero, and more. As production drew to a close, Mike told me, “It’s been a joy to be a part of your fine book,” and “You got a great talent, bud,”—immensely rewarding sentiments from a nationally known professional.

In mid-November, AudiobookReviewer gave Ambush an across the board five-star rating.

SECTOR 64: Ambush was a highly imaginative action-packed apocalyptic assault on your mind.”—AudiobookReviewer

In December, IndieReader awarded it five stars and named Ambush a Best of 2014.

SECTOR 64: AMBUSH is an engaging book from the very first page to the final words of the epilog.”—IndieReader

…Not as I Did

Please forgive the horn-blowing. I only mention those accolades because they leave me asking: What if I had done it right the first time? Where would I be today if I had not rushed my manuscript to market, had not ruined a good story with an amateurish presentation?

I certainly would not be fighting the uphill battle of countering a bad first impression.

So, do indie authors need editors?

Hell yeah!

Do as I say, not as I did the first time. Learn from my mistakes.

Don’t be that guy or girl.

About the Author:

Dean M. Cole, a world traveler and commercial helicopter pilot, writes from locales as remote as Equatorial Guinea and romantic as Paris’ Champs-Elysées with his trusty sidekick and beautiful wife, Donna. A combat veteran, he flew Apache Attack Helicopters in the US Army’s First Cavalry Division.

SECTOR 64: Ambush (Available on Amazon as an ebook and paperback. Find the audiobook on Audible, iTunes, and Amazon.)

It’s 2015. Friendly extraterrestrials JUST found us. So why have the enemies of these benevolent aliens HATED humans for millennia?

X-Files meet Independence Day when incredible events thrust Air Force Captains Jake Giard and Sandra Fitzpatrick into a decades-old conspiracy to integrate humanity into a galactic government. Then, the plan renders present-day Earth a pawn in an extraterrestrial civil war. Wading through looters and apocalyptic infernos, can Sandy save her family? Can Jake save humankind?

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Best Science Fiction Books of 2014

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SECTOR_64-_Ambush_Cover_for_Kindle With IconsSECTOR 64: Ambush Named Best of 2014

As tweeted by the Huffington Post, my sci-fi novel, SECTOR 64: Ambush, made the IndieReader.com Best of 2014 list as a top ten indie-authored novel in the grouped genres of science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal.

Over the last month, SECTOR 64: Ambush received several excellent appraisals from reputable review sites. Here’s what the critics are saying:

AudiobookReviewer.com – 5 Stars

“SECTOR 64: Ambush was a highly imaginative action packed apocalyptic assault on your mind. Take everything that you think you know about the current military, the knowledge that we are alone in the universe, and flip it upside-down. I will continue to listen to this series.”

IndieReader.com – 5 Stars

SECTOR 64: AMBUSH is an engaging book from the very first page to the final words of the Epilog.

Audiobook-Heaven.com – 4 Stars

“Cole has a good thing going here … His descriptions of aerial battle and military procedure are accurately detailed and his knowledge of the aircraft themselves fascinated me … He created a couple of races of aliens, gave them their own histories and cultures and just made them outright interesting. His characters are realistic and believable as well. Sector 64: Ambush is a great read.”

GadgetGirlReviews.com – 4 Stars

“Sector 64: Ambush is an easy, fast paced, unputdownable read of alien invasion and race against time to save the Human race.”hardcoverjacket_747x1076

This kindleunlimited title is available as a paperback, ebook, and audiobook.

Click the appropriate link to check out SECTOR 64: Ambush in your preferred format.

eBook

Amazon

Paperback:

Amazon

Audiobook:

Amazon – Audible – iTunes

 

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