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H. L. Wigton

Rollin' Deep

Hauling cargo across the vastness of space isn't for the faint of heart. Especially when the walls start muttering, your AI is getting jittery, and the quantum transit engine is giving you waking nightmares of screaming chaos. But Ship'r Bax isn't letting that slow her down, even if her rig is stuffed to the gills with guests, invited or not. Travel the lanes with Bax and her hitchhiker Daniel as they go to the edge of mapped space to discover what has everyone and everything talking, including the walls!

RUNNIN’ HOT

There’s something out there. No, not there, closer in. A little to the left. Watch yourself, don’t get too close…


The ship’r community is losing its ever-loving mind, what little it has left to lose. Those Coalition trackers were bad enough. Now spectral ‘rats’ are infesting rigs, tiny gravity wells are popping up all over the place, and tales are spreading on comms about ship’rs being body-snatched, if briefly, to a place no human should ever inhabit. Tempers are running high, mysteries keep multiplying, and to top it off, something is watching them in transit. All that would be enough to set off even the most level-headed ship’r. But that was only the beginning…


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ABOUT The series

But first, a promise.

I will not kill off any long-standing characters. If they have more than a walk-on role, they’re important in some way, and their death would serve no purpose other than cruelty to my readers. So go ahead, get attached, let them break your heart, for I’ll not break yours.


Now, as for the books...In this series, which I’ve come to call ‘blue-collar sci-fi’, you won’t find grand military battles, or intricate politics that span a galaxy. What you will find are the people and places that make the machinery tick; what goes on behind the scenes, if you will.


I’ve always had a fascination with the underpinnings of society, the people and machinery that make the world go 'round. From truckers to mechanics, line workers to roughnecks, I appreciate them all. Without them everything would grind to a halt. They also get to play with the best toys, the ones you have to crane your neck back to take in, uttering an involuntary 'whoa' as you do. And I do, every time.


I’ve the same fascination about the small, the infinitesimal, the almost unknowable; quantum physics. There's some freaky stuff down there, I tell ya. Trust me, I've looked. And it's weird.


No less weird than the subject of dimensionality, which is connected to, but distinct from, the quantum. We're here, but what if there's something over there, the places we can't go, because we're mired in the confines of three dimensions? If we could look, what would we see?


So I melded them all together into one big rowdy family of concepts that gets big, goes small, and runs WeIRD, most of all. I hope you enjoy the tech, the toys, and most of all, the sorrows and joys, that make up this little world I've created.


Check back here to see the latest releases to the Ship'r Chronicles, because I'm adverse to newsletters or marketing campaigns on the general principal of cussedness.

A taste of what you're getting into...

CHAPTER 1: BAX


No one left adrift.

It was a code Bax and her fellow ship’rs lived by, one that could spell the difference between warmth and life, or gasping your last, alone in the cold vacuum of space. The distances and speeds they traveled didn’t leave much margin for error, and when things went sideways, as they inevitably did, often the only help at hand was another ship’r. You helped when you could, knowing it would be repaid in kind.

It was also the reason she was eyeing the young man at the far end of the bar. Cargo wasn’t the only thing a ship’r hauled across mapped space. If she was seeing things right, the kid looked as adrift as a body could get, which made him fair game for a ship’r that was willing to help sort things out.

“I dunno, Bax,” the bartender said doubtfully. She pulled several odd-shaped bottles from under the bar and contemplated their contents with a tilt of her head. “He looks awfully fragile, at least for the likes of you.”

Bax propped her elbow on the bar, studying the figure in question over the rim of her drink. Too skinny for his frame, he slouched on the barstool as if it was almost more than he could do to hold himself upright. His tousled brown curls made a soft halo around a gaunt face that bore lines too deep for his apparent youth, and his unblinking stare, aimed towards the drink in front of him, was focused to the far beyond, seeing a reality that held neither pleasure nor joy. He wasn’t a ship’r, but wearing the cast-offs of one, leading her to believe he’d either been floating around, catching rides long enough to run through his own clothes, or he’d jumped on board a rig without a suitable stitch on. He didn’t look like his hide was quite thick enough for the former, so she was betting on the latter, which might have a tale behind it worth the listening.

She’d always been a sucker for a good story.

She finished off her drink and set the glass on the bar with a thoughtful frown. She’d known Orphie long enough to know the bartender’s observation wasn’t too far short of the truth; she did have a tendency to play rough. But her intentions ran short of playing, at least with this one.

“Red flags?” she asked quietly, gaze still pinned on the figure at the far end of the bar. He didn’t look like a typical Lotus-eater, but with some it was hard to tell.

The bartender shook her head. “Quiet type; only spoke up when I offered him a glass of hooch on the house, but he spoke clear enough. Harmless, but helpless, by my reckoning.”

That was good enough for her. The months-long cargo run she’d just finished had given her the distance from humanity she’d needed, but had also left her feeling too comfortable with the isolation, an indicator of a spiral into reclusiveness that seemed to get harder to pull out of each time she wandered into it. She needed another breathing body around her for this next run to remind her of her own humanity, or at the very least how to hold a civil conversation. If the company came in the form of a short-term companion, all the better. She needed a reminder of human conduct, not a long, drawn out session on how to play nice with her fellow man. That would only end in tears, and not her own. She’d spooked off more than one hitchhiker in her time —floaters as the ship’rs called them—and this one looked as if he’d blow away if she breathed too hard on him. She’d do her best to not give him the impression she’d like him for dinner. She would, but as a guest, not as the main course.

Rising, she made her way down the bar, pausing to give a fellow ship’r a friendly thump on the shoulder in passing. He teetered, almost falling off the barstool at the assault, tossing an angry glare over his shoulder that broadened into a wide, sloppy grin when he saw her.

“Heya, Bax. Pickin’ up the floater?” he slurred, lifting his chin towards the kid.

She shrugged, giving him a twisted smirk. “Gonna make the offer, see if he bolts at the idea of ridin’ with me. Hope he’s steady, I could use the company.”

The other ship’r reared back on the barstool, eyes wild. “Hellfire, Bax, don’t be sayin’ things like that,” he said in a horrified whisper. “You’ll have a body thinkin’ it’s the end times and whatnot. You, needing company? Why, that there’s one of the sure signs we’re all about to collectively meet our maker!”

She walloped him on the shoulder again with an evil chuckle as she continued past him. “A body’s got needs. You of all people should know that, ya randy bastard.”

“Them fancy girls gotta to make a livin’ too!” he called at her back.

She stopped and turned, eyeing the gut straining the front his stained coveralls and the unfortunate state of his unshaven, rumpled self. “Don’t know if I’d call that livin’, myself, but bless those girls for picking up the slack you’ve been puttin’ down.”

The few ship’rs remaining at the bar at this late hour roared in laughter, the target of her insult joining in just as loudly. She shook her head, grinning, making her way over to her intended guest. Most ship’rs could give as good as they got without too much malice, even if the insults inched closer to truth than most were comfortable with. It went with the job, and you learned to roll with the punches instead of being flattened by them, or you parked your rig and walked away. This job wasn’t for the thin-skinned, or faint of heart, as some learned the hard way. There was never a shortage of things to go wrong on a run. Every time they pulled off a station, they ran the risk of losing much more than a contract. A little rough humor filed the edges of that reality smooth enough to concentrate on the job at hand, and not on the lethal risks they took every breathing moment they were wrapped in the merciless, uncaring vacuum of deep space.

And besides; it was fun as hell.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Functionally, I am a person who irritates people by asking too many questions. I have a raging desire to know how things work on a fundamental level, and have driven more than one person to the wire-edge of insanity by asking 'but then what?' one too many times.

Example: electricity flows down wires, and bites that hand that touches the feeder lines. Cool. But what is electricity?

The movement of electrons.

Cool. Electrons? Aren't those the things that are around the outside of atoms?

Uh...yeah.

Where do they go? Or rather, how do they go?

They just shimmy around in there.

What?

Go look up quantum physics, they said, thinking it would shut me up for a bit.

So I did. And it did not. Shut me up, that is. Now I ask questions I don't understand the answers to. I'm a simple person, math is mostly beyond my purview. But now all the answers are "math". So I turned to other science, the science of the big; the cosmic mysteries, both mundane and profound. Whoooo...what a treasure trove. Black holes, cosmic strings, inflation theory, and galactic evolution. Awareness, consciousness, the observable edge of the universe establishing our reality through observation, thereby collapsing our quantum waveform.

Oh my. Yes, please.

So in essence, in keeping with the quantum/cosmic theme, what I study, creates me. What I create, is a study in me. No author bio--saying where I live, what color my hair is, how many dogs I may or may not have, or my position on (insert hot topic here)--will tell you more than the books I write. I am an author. I am the stories I create. So go ahead, picture me as whomever you need me to be. You’ll be right, no matter how wrong you might be.


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CONTACT ME

ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO DO THIS?

YOU'VE READ MY BOOK(S), AND NOW YOU ACTUALLY WANT TO CONTACT ME?

OKAY, IF YOU INSIST.

AND NO, SOCIAL MEDIA ISN'T AN OPTION. NEVER WAS.