Today on the blog is my Glass House author brother, George Ebey.
Here’s the exciting back jacket for George’s scifi novel, DEBBI:
A game to end all games. On the line: her family’s future. Will Helen’s creation be enough to win the day? Or will she lose, and take her family down with her?
Helen Hunter’s father hopes to make his fortune by sending a robotic rover, controlled from Earth, to mine the surface of Mars for precious ores.
But there’s a catch. To do it, he’ll have to assume financial responsibility for the rover. And on the harsh and desolate surface of Mars, one false move can mean the difference between untold riches and utter disaster. It’s a risky move that could spell doom for the entire family … and their hopes for the future.
Unless Helen can intervene.
The company behind the mining system—MARSCORP—is holding a junior gaming competition at their annual convention, and this is her chance. Grand prize is a one-year lease on a brand new Mars mining rover. Winning would mean that her father gets his shot at the Martian bonanza without any risk to the family.
But it won’t be easy. Teens from all over the country have come to compete. Some are smart. Others, ruthless. And Helen’s not the only one who needs to win. The mission: use her personally designed robot to fight it out in a high-tech arena that can simulate any environment, real or imagined. Beat the competitors. Bring home the prize.
Luckily for Helen, gaming and robot design are her specialties.
And when she unleashes her newest creation on the competition, a miniature homemade rover she calls DEBBI, the world is going to see just how skilled she really is.
The question is … will it be enough?
And here’s the fantastic cover:
And here’s an epic excerpt from DEBBI:
At first she didn’t understand.
How could they know to find me way out here?
Then it occurred to her. She had read that some Marauders placed mining tags on other rover units, to act as tracking devices and lead them to other people’s caches. It must have been how they found her dad’s cache in the first place. At some point, probably when he visited one of the robo-settlements, he’d been tagged by these guys, who had been slowly working their way toward him ever since. They’d probably assumed that his rover was out of commission for good after the initial attack, and moved on.
But when Helen got the unit up and running, they must have seen that it was still operational and decided to turn back, in the hopes that it would lead them to more booty.
Why didn’t I think of that before? Stupid! Then she wondered … the tracker. Where was it?
Probably somewhere that it would be hard to spot. The trailer, most likely.
Working a control on the joystick, she quickly cut the magnet and detached the rover from the trailer. It might be too late to stop them from finding her, but that didn’t matter—she could move faster without it. And right now, speed was just the thing she needed. Not wasting a second, she pressed the accelerator and made a beeline straight for the final cache. If she tagged it and coded it before the Marauders reached her, she could call for a hover-scoop and there wouldn’t be a thing they could do about it.
But the Marauders were fast.
Maybe they had figured out ways to modify their units for greater velocity. She didn’t know. From what she could tell, they were moving at a speed twice her own. With each foot she gained, they gained two. Where she was only one, they were three.
The final cache loomed directly ahead. But before she could upload the code, she’d have to get to it and tag it. It was only a hundred feet away now. Ninety … Eighty…
Stealing her eyes from the image of the cache, she looked to the left-hand corner of the vid-screen, hoping that she still had more time. But the Marauders were no longer just a blip in the distance.
They were getting closer.
The cache was just ahead. But the Marauders were so fast.
By the time she got to within forty feet of it, the first Marauder was right on top of her, slamming the brunt of its weight into her left side, and tipping her over.
– – – –
She used her good arm to right herself. By the time she had all wheels to the ground once again, she was convinced that one of the Marauders had already reached the cache and was coding it for themselves.
To her surprise, though, the three units had stopped and were now parked directly in front of her, staring her down. None of them had made a move for the cache yet.
She found out a moment later, when the eyes on the lead Marauder unit started to blink.
Seconds later, the words appeared on the vid-screen.
Obviously, in the thin atmosphere of Mars, verbal communication between rover units was impossible. So the designers at MARSCORP had created a means of two-way communication that relied on blinked codes, which could be read by software embedded in the camera system and relayed to the operator’s vid-screen in the form of typed words. The result was a crude form of dialog between units.
“I know you have more caches,” the lead unit coded. “Give me the coordinates and we’ll let you go.”
So that’s it. Having settled for a small score last time, they were looking for a bigger one now.
The thought infuriated her. It wasn’t enough that they’d already taken so much, that they’d put her and her family in this situation and threatened to ruin their lives forever. Now they wanted more.
Quickly, she typed her response.
“Go suck a moon rock.”
“Don’t be stupid,” the leader blinked. “Give us the coordinates and roll away. You can mine for more. Otherwise, we’ll finish what we started three days ago.”
She knew full well that if she blinked the locations of the other caches, they’d rip her apart anyway and have it all.
That left just one option. Swallowing hard, she rolled the unit forward, raised the tip of the rock breaker, and jammed the sharp end directly into the lead Marauder’s left eye. The suddenness of it must have shocked the Marauders, as none of them moved a diode at first. It wasn’t until she hit a switch on the joystick and began to jackhammer away at the leader’s head that the others finally got their senses together enough to react.
On the vid-screen, a bevy of mechanical arms and robot tools flew toward her rover, reaching for it.
Working the joystick, she extracted the hammer from the leader’s eye and backed quickly away. Wherever the owner lived here on Earth, she could imagine him screaming into his vid-screen as a now-shattered camera cut his view of the Martian surface forever in half. The rover rolled away, looking disoriented and confused, and leaving just two more to contend with.
But the Marauders weren’t without weapons of their own.
George Ebey has been creating alternate realities since a young age. It all began when he started taking his once-vast collection of action figures on epic journeys though countless lands full of exotic wonders and hidden dangers. Today, his action figure collection is much smaller, though several still stand guard on his writing desk, ready to take up arms and march into the fray at a moment’s notice.
George was born and raised in Ohio, where he still lives with his wife and an ornery cat named Ollie. When he’s not writing or playing with his action figures, he enjoys being outdoors, studying history, and searching for new and interesting places to explore.
Thanks for being here today, George! Here’s a little robot for you.
To whomever is reading this, if you can translate what little robot is saying then you’re absolutely geektastic!
Let me know if you’re absolutely geektastic.
(Even if you’re not, you’re still something-tastic. Awesomely something-tastic.)
Love to you all,