While Viceroys (Primus-in-fact and above) are the most important government officials, there are others which wield some amount of governmental authority

Investigators are actually the most common. Their job is to investigate and report facts in both criminal and civil cases. It is rare for them not to be operants, while most are full-spectrum Guardians. The nature of the job requires a lot of operant work, so selecting an Investigator who isn't operant typically means they'd have to hire out a second person to do the Investigator's operant work. Investigators do have law enforcement authority and should expect to experience some violence in their work, but it is not their primary function. Most Investigators are contracted at the Secundus-in-fact level, although pretty much every Viceroy Tertius-in-fact or higher will have at least one Investigator. Investigators earn a basic one service point per year.

Police or Enforcers (names are interchangeable) enforce the peace. They are dispatched to quell actual violence taking place and turn the matter over to Investigators. They need not be operant, although more than half are. This is a dangerous and well-paid profession - although most of the time the violence is over by the time they arrive, the exceptions make for a high casualty rate. Their job is not investigative; it's simply to stop the violence, and once that has been accomplished, their job is essentially done. (Note that while duels are legal, they are also rare). Enforcers have limited law enforcement authority, and generally wear combat armor the same as military issue on duty. They are contracted at the Secundus level, and there will typically be about twenty on duty in a given Secundus district (appx 60^5 residents) at any one time. Police earn a basic one service point per year.

Adulthood Services: These are the people who handle administration and care of those who are not adults and have no legal parent responsible for them. The vast majority of their charges are those who have lost their adulthood due to some failure to observe their legal responsibilties towards others. Even in those cases, both the Empire and the individuals concerned would generally prefer willing individuals to step forward and assume responsibility. The Empire is willing to subsidize willing individuals to raise actual children, and therefore actual children in custody of Adulthood Services are rare. The lives of physical adults in their custody are highly regimented and lacking in privacy. Adulthood Services has some necessary legal authority over those in their custody. Adulthood Services is contracted at the Secundus level, and while there are small numbers of civil service points involved for the contractor (who must risk civil service points on contract performance), individual Adulthood Service providers typically do not earn service points.

Engineering Contractors: Are retained for one specific project. As siphons and converters render most utilities unnecessary and others are performed commercially, most government engineering projects deal with flood control channels, fire nuisance abatement, and similar concerns. They are contracted at the appropriate level, and service points are per the individual contract. They have no governmental authority except to complete their project.

Economic Contractors: Sometimes a viceroy may believe their district requires a certain type of mercantile activity and if needed, execute contracts guaranteeing those economic contractors certain levels of activity or revenue. This is rare, because the viceroy personally is required to be the ultimate guarantor of the contract nor are they allowed to grant monopolies or hinder competitors, but it does happen. Far more common are informal persuasions or even viceroys who personally gather the resources required in their private capacity as individuals possessing the necessary wealth. Economic contractors have no governmental authority

Matthew Carter followed in his father's footsteps to become an auctioneer on Earth. Not that he really wanted to, but because he didn't have any other options. When his father died, he became an auctioneer to support himself, and is offered a job by an alien looking to hire an auctioneer.

The author, plain and simple, needed more research and a better understanding of finance, as his set-up might work for the story but fails for any resemblance to reality.

A little bit of a Golden Age-y tale. Enjoyable, but not satisfying

The tale is told from a politically correct modern sensibility, and that's enjoyable enough in that I don't think anyone really wants sentient beings or inhabited planets being offered for sale. However, the author falls well short on his understanding of what auctions can accomplish and how auction bidders make money off resale of items after curing them of certain features that are often unattractive to other buyers - making the item or property more valuable. Nothing unethical there - yet he treats it as a cardinal sin. He also falls well short in his understanding of borrowed money and leverage - something galactic super-traders would be extremely conversant of.

He ultimately does get one thing right - which I won't spoil, because naming it leads inevitably to a unique solution in who the real baddie is in the story. Unfortunately, the ending feels contrived and forced because he doesn't understand how money and finance work.

I'll give this a rating of six out of ten stars. By Amazon's standards, a four star rating (I did like it).

Amazon link

Service points drive rank in the civilian government as well as ability to bid on government contracts.

They are earned in three ways. Members of the Imperial military on active service earn three service points per year, regardless of rank. Certain members of the civil government also earn service points, albeit at lower rates than members of the military.

Successful government contracts - for services or for construction - also earn points. The drawback is that you have to put up points equal to at least five times the value of a successful contract in order to be eligible to win the contract. These points - as well as monetary penalties for failure of execution - can be forfeit in order to fix deficiencies in your performance of the contract. For this reason, people with service points can make a reasonable amount of money renting out those service points to potential contractors seeking government contracts.

Finally, special awards for special circumstances or contributions for deeds of public benefit can also be made by responsible officials.

Points can also be lost for irresponsible, reckless, or damaging behavior, as well as the potential to lose your legal adulthood.

Sufficient numbers of points earn you a grade 'in rank'. In ascending order, these grades are Primus, Secundus, Tertius, Quartius, Quintus, Sixtus, Septimus, and Octus. These grades earn you theoretical eligibility for appointment to actual office at the equivalent grade or lower, save in the case of Octus-in-rank. Octus-in-rank is the only 'in rank' grade with any general authority at all, as it carries not only theoretical eligibility for Octus, Nonus, and Guardian rank, but earning the points for Octus-in-rank carries with it appointment to the Great Council, which is the highest body in the Empire even though the Great Council is too large and unwieldy to be used for anything but the most basic questions of policy (the exact number of members is not general knowledge, but since there are currently at least 6000 Octuses-in-fact and 60 Nonuses, this number is an absolute minimum size for the Great Council).

Earning points for an 'in rank' grade does not mean you have to accept the relevant title. A Quintus-in-rank (or higher) is subject to legal assassination if they have any active appointment, even as a Primus-in-fact. For this reason, most people do not accept promotion to Quintus-in-rank (or higher) even though they may have the service points until it is required by the selecting authority for a prospective appointment. This generally occurs when seeking an appointment as Tertius-in-fact, as a Tertius-in-fact is generally the most senior civil official in ordinary systems of the Empire.

An Octus-in-rank, being a member of the Great Council, always has an active appointment, and is always subject to legal assassination.

'In rank' grades are entitled to wear a small equilateral triangle (two isixths, or just over 2 centimeters on a side) of the appropriate color on civilian or military dress. Primus-in-rank wears blue, Secundus gold, Tertius red, Quartius green, Quintus white, Sixtus purple, Septimus gray, and Octus orange.

An 'in rank' official may apply for 'in fact' grades less than or equal to their 'in rank' designation. Service points are not by any means sufficient qualification for actual appointments - most selecting officials consider education and other executive qualifications and other experience and generally, accumulation of sufficient assets to make good on any potential losses you may cost the government. Appointments to actual 'in fact' Imperial offices almost never take place without at least one successful term of at least ten Imperial years in the military. Nor are appointments typically made to higher offices without at least sixty to a hundred twenty years successfully holding the next lower grade. Despite this, there are generally more than enough fully qualified applicants for offices Sixtus-in-fact and below that the selecting official can be as picky as they want to be. Septimus and Octus-in-fact are generally less applied for, and officials who have been successful at those levels have other options that make as much money for less risk, so competition among successful Septimus and Octus candidates is somewhat less but selecting officials are generally less able to eliminate strong candidates for reasons of personal distaste.

A Primus-in-fact is the sole magistrate and primary economic advocate for a district of approximately 12,960,000 people (60^4). They wear a blue triangle four isixths on a side, with a smaller triangle denoting higher 'in-rank' status embedded within (inverted, vertices to midpoints of the larger triangle). They are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of a Secundus, who is generally responsible for sixty Primuses. Most Primus-in-fact are Tertius- or Quartius-in-rank.

A Secundus-in-fact wears a gold triangle 4 isixths on a side, with higher 'in rank' designation indicated the same way as a Primus. Most ongoing service contracts (law enforcement, investigation, and care for legal children) are awarded at the Secundus level. A Secundus-in-fact is also the primary appeals court for the Primus subordinates. Like a Primus, a Secundus-in-fact serves at the pleasure of their superior Tertius-in-fact, and is expected to be an economic advocate for their area of responsibility.

This pattern continues for higher levels with some differences, especially at the Quintus-in-fact level and higher.

Since there is no 'Nonus-in-rank' or higher, a Nonus is simply a Nonus. Their triangular insignia of rank is brown and always solid since all Nonuses are Octus-in-rank Similarly with the Guardian (the office formerly known as Emperor), whose insignia of rank is black.

The Imperial population has reached two thirteenths (2x60^13, or roughly 260x10^21 people), which is roughly twice the number this system was designed to work with. Most Nonuses are currently overseeing roughly twice the subordinates in the next two echelons down that the system is designed for. Debate is ongoing in The Great Council, with the most favored solution thus far being the addition of a new rank of Decius between Nonus and Guardian, which will allow the Empire to expand by a factor of roughly thirty from its current size before reaching theoretical capacity.

Apology

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I do apologize that I've been three weeks since my last entry. I had a health issue that sapped my energy pretty severely, and it took a couple weeks to begin recovery.

I do have a new article set to go in the morning. Good night.

None of the kids needed sleep. Being operant meant they could easily go several days without, same as me. But after dinner, the ritual was always the same. Baths, and then give sleep a chance for an hour. I had to help Imtara with her bath; at about ten Earth months she wasn't quite coordinated enough to be able to bathe herself safely, but Ilras at two Earth years of age was fine by himself, as were Ilora at three and Esteban at four. Even Imtara was safe enough, she just didn't get clean on her own. Technically, none of them were Seventh Order Guardians yet, but they'd all been operant from conception. It made motherhood so much easier in terms of physical demands that it seemed like cheating.

In terms of mental demands, however, it made parenting natural state kids seem like a cakewalk. Baby Alden wanted to learn, and he wasn't even born yet. In order to keep him safely swaddled, I had to devote two of my para to him full time as an interface between him and the universe. He was already prepared to take at least half a dozen tests for level four competency - about the equivalent of mastering a lower division college curriculum - as well as several lesser tests. The other four shared four more para I'd had to devote to them to monitor what they were doing, help them with their learning, keep them on task, and keep them as safe as I could from outside threats. That wasn't perfect, as I'd found out while carrying Esteban - experiencing a duel in the womb wasn't something I'd recommend for any child. I'm not going write down how many total para I had, but my usual practice of devoting three to Vector piloting left me feeling stretched.

There had been benefits, however. Without Esteban, I'd have been killed by that djhanta who blamed me for his own shortcomings, and I'd gained Fourth Order power as a result of the duel, which had been gradually improved by keeping up with my wunderkind children to the point where my mental prowess was now well above the Natsi Cutoff. Any future children I had would all be operant - not Seventh Order, but operant - even if I lost Asto somehow. I didn't think it likely I'd make the Sixth Order transition any time soon - I wasn't the strongest or best integrated even of the family spouses - but Scimtar thought it was within the realm of possibility.

Publicly, however, I was still only admitting to Second Order. I wore the Second Order gold triangle with a stick figure human when protocol demanded, not the green of Fourth Order. Asto knew my real power, the kids probably knew, and a few of the other Scimtars, notably Anara, Gilras, Helene, and Scimtar himself. As far as the rest of the Empire was concerned, I was still a middling strong Second Order Guardian.
That didn't mean I wasn't Fourth Order in reality, however. The difference between Fourth Order and Second was more than just power. It was like I'd crossed some kind of threshold, and the universe actually wanted to help me exercise my operant abilities. It didn't make much difference to auros, but for all the other disciplines and their combinations, I'd had to learn to restrain myself. It somehow took less in terms of absolute power to achieve the same results, and my integration had improved almost overnight from lowish-middling gold well into the blue range. I wasn't as focused as Asto and probably never would be, but it had sharply narrowed the difference


At the center of everything is Aescalon. Aescalon is a cavern a few tens of miles across. Within the cavern of Aescalon are basically 3 layers: A neutron star perhaps two miles across, an inner cavern, within which the energy coming from the neutron star (and the gravity) is at full effectiveness.

There's a refractive layer between the inner and outer caverns, that contains the vast majority of the radiation and gravity. The net effect is that the outer caverns are habitable for short periods and even normal people can use the outer cavern to walk between the 165 (11 dimensions taken 3 at a time) major outlets. Migurd is the only one of those Realms that has been explored at all in the first book, and mostly limited to the area immediately around Treemount, where an ancient huge gnarled tree named Ygg stands atop (and within) a huge mound of alluvial detritus, from the Scourging.

Every seven days (Migured time) Aescalon is Scourged. It begins when dimensionality tries to exceed 11 within the cavern, and the central neutron star gives out a thus far immeasurable energy pulse which is a major source of mana in the immediate area. During the Scourging, even the outer cavern is scoured down to bare rock. Water and air and dirt and energy emerge from Aescalon into the Connected Realms.

In The Fountains of Aescalon, the protagonist discovered there are many times more smaller tap points than the 165 major outlets.

The final piece of the puzzle known so far is a place called Godshome. It's a very special place and far more energy saturated than even Aescalon. Alexan has a hypothesis he's investigating that Aescalon is an energy shunt between Godshome and the rest of the Connected Realms.

The second book opens with Alexan and Petra trying to come to terms with their newly achived divinity. It turns out the divine ecosystem is every bit the Darwinian nightmare most of nature is - if not worse.

Amazon is not exactly known for organizing things such that the novels show up nice and serialized in the order they're intended to be read. I know because I've had to go looking for works of other authors I knew were available but had difficulty getting them to come up on Amazon's results. Books2Read does a better job, but some of their affiliated retailers do not. All of these books except the Rediscovery '4 novels in one book set' are available for $3.99 or less in e-book or in paperback from all sources.

(Books2Read is an aggregator, which has about a dozen retailers and library services that work with them, including Apple, Barnes&Noble, Overdrive, Kobo, and others including Amazon. You log in and tell them which of their retailers or library services you prefer to work with - and most public libraries work with Overdrive or Biblioteca, which give you a way you can read my books without buying them out of your own pocket. https://books2read.com)

My first published work was the four book Rediscovery series, which introduces us to the Empire of Humanity, Guardians, and the extant technology. It consists of a 'tight' trilogy with a follow-on novel, all of them centering around Graciela Juarez.

1. The Man From Empire Amazon link Books2Read link
2. A Guardian From Earth Amazon link Books2Read link
3. Empire and Earth Amazon link Books2Read link
4. Working The Trenches Amazon link Books2Read link

There is also a four-in-one volume available for a substantial discount, if you're willing to buy all four at once. Amazon set link Books2Read set link. The Amazon paperback is significantly less expensive that the paperback available through the Books2Read retailers, but Amazon required theirs to be in 10 point type due to length, which many people find less readable than the Books2Read 12 point.

The next series I began was Preparations for War, in which Grace's nephew Joe ends up helping the primitive planet Calmena, which will be on the front lines of the next major war, prepare to survive that war. There are three books thus far, and a fourth, Moving The Pieces, will finish the series.

1. Preparing The Ground Amazon link Books2Read link
2. Building The People Amazon link Books2Read link
3. Setting The Board Amazon link (It will be available through Books2Read mid-February of 2020)
4. Moving The Pieces (forthcoming)

The third series I have, also in progress, is Politics of Empire, which also focuses on Graciela Juarez starting about fifteen years later, as she begins her own family with her husband and learns to navigate the dangerous waters of Imperial politics. There are two books out, and I'm planning at least two more.

1. The Invention of Motherhood Amazon link Books2Read link
2. The Price of Power Amazon link Books2Read link
3. The End of Parenthood (working title - forthcoming)
4. untitled thus far

A 'many worlds' fantasy series, Connected Realms, which focuses on Alexan, who is an exile from the Empire of Humanity. There is one book out, a second book in progress, and at least a third planned.

1. The Fountains of Aescalon Amazon link Books2Read link
2. The Monad Trap (in progress)
3. The Bubbles of Creation (forthcoming)

Finally, I have an urban fantasy crossover series begun, with one book out, a sequel planned, and the bare idea for a third. It centers on Mark Jackson, a more or less ordinary fellow from Los Angeles. It's not an erotica book, but it does deal with some things that are sufficiently mature topics that I wouldn't recommend it for people under about 16.

1. The Gates To Faerie Amazon link Books2Read link
2. The Gifts Of The Mother (forthcoming)
3. Untitled


My current work in progress is The Monad Trap, book 2 of Connected Realms. I had intended to get it finished by December, but some of the writing has been more of a challenge than I thought. I'm just over 50k words in, and I believe it will take another 20 to 25k to finish the novel according to plan.

After that, I'm planning to work on The End of Parenthood, Book 3 of Politics of Empire. The events involved have sufficient overlap that I will likely need to write Moving The Pieces, Book 4 of Preparations for War, at the same time.

The project after that will be Gifts of The Mother, Book 2 of Gates To Faerie. I have ideas for at least one novel each out of two new settings and an unrelated novel taking place on Earth just after Imperial assimilation as well, but I'm trying to finish my already begun character and story arcs before starting anything new. I will probably write at least Book 4 of Politics of Empire and The Bubbles of Creation (Book 3 of Connected Realms) before I begin any new series.

Amazon link here

This appears to be a fantasy embroidering and reimagining of the biblical story of Saul and David, or at least the first part of it. It is also of novella, not novel, length. It is the first of three.

There is some history behind the story, hit lightly with a bit of scripture-like writing. Evidently there is more that doesn't get mentioned, and we have to wait until it comes out. The main viewpoint character is a dragon shapeshifter, and his friend the adopted son of the high king is a half-angel. There was a conflict between their fathers, which resulted in the protagonist's family land being largely destroyed by the king and his other vassal kings.

There's not really a lot of action in this story, so if that's what you're looking for, this is not the story for you. There is a good bit of character interplay and we learn some back story, setting it up for the second installment.

The author leaves it up to reader interpretation as to whether or not there is a same sex relationship beginning. There is nothing explicit, only a couple of jokes that are likely intended tongue in cheek. To be honest, I believe the author intends to head into standard 'buddy story' territory from here, but I could be mistaken.

I had hoped for more to the story, but what there was was enjoyable enough. I'll give it a 7 out of 10 rating - by Amazon standards four stars.


"Greetings! I am Martinlo, and it is my duty to act as a greeter of the Forest kin. I do not believe we have met previously, but if you'll tell me what you're looking for, I'll direct you to someone who can provide. If you'll tell me what you have to trade, I'll likely know one of our people who's interested."

"Greetings Martinlo, I'm called Alexan and I'm Jarl of Ygg and King Edvard's Viceroy. I'm here on personal business investigating Ygg. Since it continues for some distance below ground, I'm wondering if you can direct me to any caves that might be deep enough to reach the buried portions?"

Martinlo's eyes narrowed in suspicion. "What is your interest in such caverns? Our Mountain kin inhabit those caverns; they will not thank us for casual visitors upsetting their dwellings."

"I'm a wizard, Martinlo. I believe I have discovered evidence of a particular brand of divinity which inhabits Ygg. I have seen evidence of its presence higher up, but no trace of a dwelling. I've hypothesized that such a being would be most at home among the roots. I wish to test my theory."

To be honest, I had no intention of allowing a refusal to stop me, not least because of the likelihood the monad - if one existed - was using its power to bend the minds of those it lived among. I didn't need to read Martinlo's mind, all I had to do was use one of the most basic effects of auros, the 'I'm not important, I belong here, ignore me' and follow them around for a while. Within a very short time I'd figure out where I needed to go. Even if someone noticed me, I could use matris to effectively vanish, I could teleport, and in the worst case scenario, there wasn't much that could out-fight an ultsi in undertime even without active wizardry and I was an Eternal now, as well. I might be in danger from the monad, but not from the Forest or Mountain kin.
"Why should we or our Mountain kin allow you into our villages? We've had thieves enough to last us forever."

"How many thieves have offered to pay, in advance if necessary? Gold, silver, any metal or pure substance. Food if that's what you want. The skilled labor of an ultsi wizard who knows many things of wizardry that even Kiltig had no conception of, or knowledge that can teach things your people might want to know. I can teach any of you who might be talented things nobody else in Migurd might think are even possible. I may look a youth, but I am ten thousand years old, and I'm from a place where more wizards than you'll even believe learn more about wizardry every year, and I can teach more of them than any of you are likely to learn in your lifetimes."

"What could a human teach us that we wish to know?"

"Perhaps healing? You are old. Perhaps you have some years left in you, but most of your life is behind you and you know it. I could make you a young man again. You'd still age normally, but I could make you young again, with another full life ahead of you."

"That would cause both my wife and I much anguish. Thus far, you haven't actually offered anything we want."

"What do you want? Trees that grow straight? Food to make the whole forest grow? More land upon which the forest grows?"

"What we want is for humans to leave us alone."

"Are you speaking for yourself, or for all your kin? I may not have spoken with any, but I've noticed any number of your kin, conducting business about Treemount. The increased traffic on Ygg has benefitted your people as much as it has ours."

"We grow dependent upon trade. The young are less interested in the ways of their ancestors."

So it was personal. "Not all the gods in the Connected Realms together can erase what the moving hand of time has written, Martinlo, and I wouldn't do it if I could. Your children, like our own, see a way to make their lives better. And as for being dependent upon trade, that not only makes war less likely, it makes all better off."

"The forest is neglected and your people grow prosperous!"

"If anyone forced your people to make trades you regret, tell me now. As I told you, I'm Edvard's Viceroy and I have the power to punish criminals and order restitution. But if others of your kin have made trades you are not happy with, that is between you and them, and it seems likely they believe they're made better off by the trade. If they did not steal from you or your community, no crime has been committed and the only offense is in your mind."

When I was putting together the Rediscovery set, I gave some thought to slightly rewriting The Man From Empire, having had a few reviews where the reviewer indicated they misinterpreted what I was writing.

1) The Empire is significantly older than the return of civilization to Earth. It owes nothing - zilch - zip - nada - to anything we've done here on Earth. There are a very few conventions from the Empire that were either somehow perpetuated on Earth or reintroduced for their own reasons by the stons who found Earth sometime in our 1840s.

2) Osh Scimtar is about fifteen thousand Earth years old. He's a recognized expert in one field, and a polymath with demonstrated professional competence in several others. Grace is twenty-eight when we meet her, a re-entry college student who realizes all of the mistakes she's made earlier in her life. What do you think their respective argumentative weights would be? How effective would you expect her to be at resisting Osh in an argument? That she does resist and keep arguing on one point argues how strong her beliefs are on that issue.

As the writer, clear communication is my job. If I were writing it again, I'd be considerably more heavy handed on these points so they're not misinterpreted so easily as current political polemics. So I was tempted to make some revisions, but I overcame the temptation because it would be something akin to cheating. When Arthur C. Clarke was dissatisfied with Against The Fall of Night, he didn't revise it on the sly - he wrote an entirely new novel The City And The Stars. The Man From Empire was (like Clarke's earlier work) my first novel. I learned from it, and from the reviews, but I think you deserve to see it as it was originally written.

 



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