Scif Fi World Building

I promised in my previous post to elaborate on the futuristic world building in Cerelia’s Choice. Checking on the date of that post, I notice five months have passed. Sometimes life gets in the way, big time. Sorry about that.

I love classic space opera as much as the next geeky guy, but it often assumes too much, so that the setting becomes almost irrelevant to the story. The reality is that any sort of human settlement beyond Earth will necessarily have to deal with some damn big challenges and constraints.

The least avoidable leap that is usually made is assuming some mechanism for faster than light travel. The next biggie is gravity. In your standard space opera, every ship has an artificial gravity field, and every inhabited planet seems to miraculously have Earth standard gravity. The one that really irks me though is spaceships designed for faster than light travel in the near vacuum of interstellar space somehow having the ability to land on the surface of a planet, dealing with the drag and friction of an atmosphere when landing, not to mention overcoming the enormous energy demands of escaping the planet’s gravity well when leaving.

Imagine now the world of Cerelia’s Choice. Yes there’s faster than light travel, but there’s been a recent technological development that has increased maximum speeds by ten times, upsetting the existing economic and political balance. And there’s artificial gravity, but it’s fundamentally inconsistent with FTL travel, so you either have to deal with weightlessness, or have a rotating habitat. And you can land a spaceship on the surface of a planet, but only one designed exactly for that purpose, and it’s a one way trip. The only way off is by space elevator. They’re expensive to build and easy to control, which underpins the feudal political system of the Empire.

If you have doubts about the romance element of Cerelia’s Choice, I hope I’ve demonstrated that it also contains a heap of well-considered science fiction.

Science Fiction Romance

I wrote Cerelia’s Choice, my first Science Fiction Romance (SFR), without even knowing if SFR was a legitimate genre.

My reasoning was twofold. First, I love both science fiction and romance (I’m openly a geek, and secretly an incurable romantic at heart). Second, I’ve had very positive feedback on Newton’s Ark and Fuller’s Mine from female readers. Both have romantic sub-plots, but I figured including a more explicit romantic arc might broaden the appeal of my work.

Only time will tell whether my decision to jump feet first into a genre I didn’t fully understand will be vindicated by commercial success, but I thoroughly enjoyed writing the story and am very pleased with the final result.

I only started researching the genre after I published Cerelia’s Choice. What I quickly discovered is that there’s a sort of holy war going on over the question of whether SFR is science fiction with some romance thrown in (SF + R), or romance in a science fiction setting (R + SF).

Being in the middle of a holy war is never a good idea, so I’m not going to venture an opinion, but Cerelia’s Choice is definitely R + SF. I say that because it follows the classic romance plot: boy meets girl, boy and girl don’t like each other, boy and girl are forced by circumstances to spend time together and the attraction grows, then something happens and they don’t like each other, then something else happens and they do like each other again, but then when they realize they are meant to be together some outside force stops them, and finally they overcome that obstacle and live happily ever after (HEA).

The science fiction setting is still important, and I put a great deal of thought into the world building (something I will elaborate on in a later post), but it is the romance that drives the story forward. We meet the romantic leads, Cerelia and Jefferson Rydel, in the very first chapter, and from there are left wondering, how do they end up together? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Cerelia’s Choice – Paperback Available

The paperback version of Cerelia’s Choice is now available from the following sites: (and also the other EU stores)


Unfortunately for my Aussie readers, Amazon have not yet brought their print on demand capability to Australia yet, which is a crying shame considering how overpriced books are there.

Note, Cerelia’s Choice is enrolled in Amazon’s Kindle Matchbook program. If you purchase the paperback, you can download the ebook for free.

Cerelia’s Choice is Finally Here!

My latest novel, Cerelia’s Choice, is now available in ebook format on Amazon (US, UK, Australia, and the other stores). The paperback should be available in a week or two.

I’m really proud of this book. It’s a mix of space opera and romance, and I feel I’ve done a decent job of being true to both genres, resulting in a story with a little of something for everyone. I have a picture in my mind of the scene in The Princess Bride, where the grandfather is explaining to the boy that the book has sword fights and pirates and giants and chases, and of course true love. Well there are no giants, and the fighting is all done without swords, but the rest is true!

Cerelias Choice Kindle Cover

 A beautiful princess.

A handsome space pirate.

It could be a match made in heaven—if they survive…

When the luxury spaceliner carrying Crown Princess Cerelia across the Galactic Empire is attacked by space pirates, she is forced to flee for her life in the company of the ship’s captain, Jefferson Rydel. Having left behind her home and family forever to marry Lord Veraney, the man she has selected to succeed her father as Emperor, her disappearance throws the Imperial succession into question and destabilizes the Empire.

As she struggles to adapt to a harsh and challenging environment completely unlike the refined, sophisticated, and comfortable world she has always known, she discovers again and again that Captain Rydel is not what she thought he was.

Has he really uncovered the secret of Earth, its location lost in the passage of time and regarded by most as a myth? It would be a discovery to rock the very foundations of the Empire, its fourteen worlds each having been selected and terraformed to resemble as closely as possible humanity’s supposed original home. Or is he nothing but an unprincipled charlatan exploiting the hopes of millions?

Whoever he is, she has no choice but to accept his help. As they fight to stay ahead of the forces trying so desperately to kill her, and to stop the plot against the Imperial throne, she begins to wonder if she has found what she always longed for but never believed she would find—a man she can truly love without turning her back on the duty she was born to fulfill…

Discworld Mourns

All of Discworld mourns today at the news that Terry Pratchett has had his final meeting with Death.

I love the Discworld novels far more than any other fantasy works I’ve read (I generally prefer my fiction with a little science). They are satire at its very best – laugh out loud funny wrapped around biting political and social insights.

It’s a close run for my favorite between Going Postal and Making Money, but the latter wins for its profound observations on that most ethereal substance – money – that we all seem to spend so much time pursuing.

Wherever Sir Terry is now, he can take comfort from knowing it’s turtles all the way down.

Newton’s Ark – Countdown Deal

This coming weekend (starting Friday 16 January US Pacific Time), I’m running a Kindle Countdown deal on Newton’s Ark. The price will be reduced from the normal $2.99 to $0.99 (£2.99 to £0.99 in the Amazon UK store).

If you are wondering whether it is worth your time or less than a buck of your money (seriously?) I summarized some of the reviews in this recent post for your convenience.

Unfortunately Kindle Countdown deals are only available in the US and UK stores at the moment. Hopefully Amazon will extend this to the other stores soon. My Aussie readers will be used to it though – being treated like second class citizens in a digital world that really ought to be the harbinger of a unified global marketplace. It will happen, eventually.

Cerelia’s Choice – coming soon

My next novel, Cerelia’s Choice, is currently in the proof reading stage and I hope to publish within the next month or two. Here’s the cover and short description:

Cerelias Choice Kindle Cover 4a small

A beautiful princess. A handsome space pirate. Surely a match made in heaven. If they survive…

Fifteen thousand years in the future the Galactic Empire occupies fourteen worlds, each selected and terraformed to resemble humanity’s original home. Yet all knowledge of Earth has been lost, many regarding it as nothing but myth.

Crown Princess Cerelia must leave behind her home and family to travel across this Empire to marry the man she has chosen to succeed her father as Emperor. When her ship is attacked by space pirates, she flees in the company of the ship’s captain, Jefferson Rydel, and is plunged into a harsh, rough environment completely unlike the refined, sophisticated, and comfortable world she has always known.

As she struggles to adapt and they race to stay ahead of the forces so determined to kill her, Princess Cerelia must face many questions. Is the secret she stumbles across real—a revelation so startling it could rock the very foundations of the Empire—or is Rydel nothing but an unprincipled charlatan exploiting the hopes of millions? Can she expose the plot against herself and her father before it is too late? And most of all, will she find what she truly longs for in one man—a worthy successor to her father and true love…

For those waiting for book three of The Emulation Trilogy, I’m now working on that, with a very tentative target publication date of December 2015.

Amazon vs. Hachette

As anyone who follows the business news probably knows, Amazon is in the middle of a major contract dispute with Hachette, one of the big five traditional publishers.

I’ve been watching this battle with great interest. I’m no disinterested observer, but firmly in the Amazon camp, not because I’ve been drinking the Bezos kool-aid, but because I can clearly see where my interests as an author lie.

Like the fox, the traditional publishers know many things, many of which are turning out to be wrong, but hey, it used to work, so we’ll just keep doing it, and whine like little children about how the world owes us a living, and don’t worry about screwing the consumer and authors along the way.

Amazon, like the hedgehog, knows one big thing, which is that long-term success comes from delivering maximum value to customers. To do that, they need to offer a better product (or range of products) at a more competitive price, and offering authors a much better deal is part of that strategy.

As an unknown author I get about as much marketing support from Amazon as I would from a traditional publisher, which is to say none. But every other aspect of the deal offered by Amazon is superior:

  • I didn’t have to ask permission to publish my book, endure endless rounds of rejection (except from readers if it’s no good), or wait years
  • I’m not locked into a long term contract (I’m committed to Amazon for only 90 days at a time, assuming I choose to participate in KDP select, which I do)
  • I have full editorial control and can update my books any time I like
  • I own all the rights to my work in perpetuity, including the rights to any future, not yet conceived format
  • I get to set the price for my books.

For all these benefits you’d think I’d pay some price, but my royalties are many times what they would be with a traditional publisher. It truly is a no-brainer.

Meanwhile, the scions of the publishing establishment, at places like the New York Times, and a favored few fabulously successfully authors are rushing to defend the status quo. Hachette has not shared one cent of the greatly increased profits it makes on ebooks with its authors, yet somehow these people want us to believe it has the high ground in this dispute. If their world was any more incestuous and self-serving, I think I’d throw up!

Newton’s Ark Promotion and Reviews

I’m running a free promotion on Newton’s Ark on Amazon on Friday 26 and Saturday 27 September (free promotions start and end midnight US Pacific Time – I guess because Amazon are based in Seattle).

Since the relaunch, Newton’s Ark has been consistently getting very complimentary four and five star reviews (good for an author’s ego!) Here’s what some of the recent reviewers have said:

“This was an intriguing concept. I didn’t know what to expect since my husband downloaded it to my Kindle and I had no idea what it was about. That being said, once I realized what the Ark was all about I couldn’t stop reading it.” – RRB (Manassas, VA)

“What a wild concept! The way it was written makes it seem entirely plausible …” – Frank (Hollister, CA)

“Simply fantastic, it for me was difficult to put down … Mr. Hill, thank you for what you have accomplished with this, please continue.” – Joe (Pompano Beach)

“This book is phenomenal… a really good sci fi read, and the author incorporates a ton of believable military imagery… he knows his stuff…” – Eric Cost

“Footfall meets P.K.D. While reading I could (in my mind) see inspirations by authors like Larry Niven, David Brin, and Philip K. Dick, but never felt like the author was not owning their own style and stories.” – David Martin

“I’ve got to stop reading end of the world books…but this book’s introduction was so exceptional I had to read it!” – Jennifer Peper

“Good story, interesting ideas, believable characters and its well written. What’s not to like? I’ll be reading the second part of the trilogy very soon.” – Jack (Castellon, Spain)

“Most self-published authors should never be allowed to put finger to keyboard. D.A. Hills’ book Newton’s Ark is the rare, enjoyable exception …  The characters are real, the setting true to life and the story is believable. What more could you ask from an author?” – Daniel Cox “Doc” (Las Vegas)

“A very interesting series. Well written and very thought provoking …The books, in short are an exploration of humanity, in all it’s wonderful diversity. Good, bad and bland … Really looking forward to book 3. Please hurry Mr Hill!” – Druidgate on

Kindle Unlimited

Amazon have just announced a new program, Kindle Unlimted. For $9.99 per month subscribers (US only for now) have unlimited access to books in the program.

The included books are basically those already part of the Kindle Owners Lending Library (KOLL), currently available for borrowing by Prime Members. Both Newton’s Ark and Fuller’s Mine are available under these programs. Fuller’s Mine is doing a steady KOLL business following the recent very successful free promotion on Newton’s Ark (5,516 downloads!)

If Big Publishing thought Amazon were giving them hell, they’ve just turned up the heat. Time for the publishers to start innovating or die. Going to the barricades to protect old business models, which seems to be their strategy right now, will only delay the inevitable.

My one criticism of Amazon is that they could have done a better job of communicating with authors. There’s very limited information on how author payments for Kindle Unlimited will work. I think it’s similar to KOLL payments, but I really had to dig around the KDP website to find anything.