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Roast Master Jason here turnin' up the Wednesday heat for Todd Hunter and his new book, HEROES DIE YOUNG.
Todd doesn't mess around with his science fact, or his science fiction. He earned a degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Kansas. So yes, he's a rocket scientist. (Sorry, I couldn't resist. I've taken my share of abuse for being a Latin major.) Born and raised in Kansas, it's sometimes hard to believe that he could believe in space travel, let alone that other species exist in the universe. But when it comes to dreams and imagination, the sky's the limit. (Er, well, in this case, I guess the universe is the limit. But how can you be limited by the limitless? Damn, my head is starting to hurt.)
But to heck with hard science. Todd intentionally tosses out most of what he learned while working on tales that people actually enjoy. Usually, those involve some amount of drinking, and delectable predicaments for Aston West, his space pirate protagonist. Let's hitch a ride with him in HEROES DIE YOUNG:
"I’m in," I announced to Jeanie.
Inside, I broke into a sweat from both the physical exertion and the climate controls aboard the freighter. Rulusians were from an extremely warm and humid jungle planet, and liked to make their ships feel like home. My heavy jacket didn’t help matters. Lines of sweat made their way down my face as I stepped away from the airlock hatch.
I turned my gaze to the entry corridor and saw carnage I wouldn’t soon forget. Rulusian bodies lay on either side of the hallway. Burn marks from energy weapons shone as black patches on a background of dark green skin. The putrid scent of scorched flesh was in the air. I passed an open doorway on my left and looked inside at crew quarters. More Rulusian corpses lay amidst sparks and clouds of smoke.
I lifted my sleeve again. "You’re sure there isn’t anyone on this ship?"
"Affirmative. All scans show nothing but you."
"This damage is too recent for my liking."
"Did the crew abandon ship?"
I grimaced. "Doesn’t look like it."
I continued toward the bridge. Dark blast marks lined the floor and frame around a blown access hatch. Smoke particles lingered in the air, and I detected a faint chemical odor as my eyes watered. I took slow, cautious steps through the opening and became witness to even more carnage. Ten more Rulusians were collapsed against the wall or slumped over consoles, all roasted by weapons fire. I definitely didn’t need to meet up with the people who had done this. I didn’t get into the scavenging business to be a hero. Everyone loves heroes, but heroes have a tendency to die young.
I glanced at displays as I stepped around the short end of an oval-shaped outer wall. All of them flickered with minimal power from backup systems, while I stepped over a pair of corpses. I stopped at a console and attempted to bypass the lockout. The sweat dripped from my face onto the screens and formed little pools that slowly worked up enough courage to slide down the panel. I realized my attempts were useless and walked to an access hatch at the back of the bridge.
"Jeanie, which bays contain contraband?"
"All of them."
A huge smile spanned my face. My dream come true.
Ready to rock the contest?! Let your fingers do the walking on these three questions. And if you'd rather kick back and just chat, do that too!
1. You're an interstellar developer who has just discovered an untouched jungle planet. Pitch us your plans for a quantum resort!
2. Phasers set to stun, or kill?
3. You're going to be alone in space for a long time. Whose voice do you want your computer to have?
Let's pump this contest up to the speed of light!
And as a special treat, Chapter 1 will be posted this weekend!