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The Unsung Frame, by Greg Dragon

A war between humans and synthetics… In a futuristic Tampa Bay, skiptracer Dhata Mays and his sidekick, Lur Diaz, are on a job investigating a cheating lowlife. But after a deadly explosion and the woman who hired them disappears, nobody is safe. Suddenly, everyone is under suspicion, and the police are no longer there “to serve and to protect.” Now, it’s up to Dhata to take matters into his own hands and uncover a deep-rooted plot to escalate the tension between the humans and synths. He must stop the battle before it’s too late. But is the truth too big for a small-time skiptracer to handle alone?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Greg Dragon is an excellent writer. From urban crime novels, to space opera, to a futuristic society on the verge of a race war, to fantasy sword fighting, Greg Dragon writes all the things. Followers of mine on the blog know that I’ve read everything that’s even sci-fi adjacent that Greg has written. He is a talented author, and I’m enriched to read his stories. You can be to, just pick a few of them up. You won’t be disappointed.

The Unsung Frame is a clever play on words, that is revealed in the second half of the book. Dhata and Lurita are in the thick of things again, and this time they may have come up against a foe that they have no chance of defeating. The tensions between the synths and humes has ratcheted up several notches due to the events that transpired in The Judas Cypher. The lines are drawn, and the divisiveness is a page out of the modern day political climate.

The action is intense, but what I really like about The Unsung Frame is that Dhata is a “real” hume. Yeah, he’s got cybernetic implants, but he’s not indestructible like many protagonists. When you read The Unsung Frame, you wonder if Dhata and Lur have what it takes to survive the day. Anyone can write someone that’s bulletproof, but it takes a special kind of writer to make me worry about the protagonist.

The Unsung Frame, like the first book in the Synth Crisis series, is a must read. Action-packed from the beginning, with a splash of humanity throughout, The Unsung Frame has everything you could want from a near-future science fiction mystery. Five stars!

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Greg Dragon has been a creative writer for several years, and has authored on topics of relationship, finance, physical fitness and more through different sources of media. In particular, his online magazine has been a source of much pragmatic information, which has been helpful to many. As a result, his work continues to grow with a large and loyal fan base.

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The Factory, by Greg Dragon

In Brian Jackson’s eyes, he was being cheated out of a proper life. His boss paid him a salary comparable to the people that he managed, while he lived in a crappy apartment, and his only connection with women was limited to his weekly visits to his favorite strip club. Brian had done everything right by society, but the rewards were just not enough. This was until he met Jada, a beautiful stripper who grew attached to him. When Brian took their relationship outside of the club, he didn’t realize that it would be his first step into a life of murder, infidelity, and organized crime.

“In Brian Jackson’s eyes, he was being cheated out of a proper life.”

I’ve been a fan of Greg Dragon for a while now. I’ve devoured all his science fiction offerings, and it was time to read his crime series. With the sequel, Gun Moll coming out soon, I wanted to have sufficient time to allow The Factory to process before reading the sequel. I knew I’d like The Factory, because I’ve yet to find anything by Greg Dragon that I haven’t liked.

The Factory is a gritty, no-holds-barred look into the life and times of Brian Jackson – a man who has seen the world pass him by. Like Walter White in Breaking Bad, Brian Jackson starts out with what I’ll call “good intentions.” But what starts as a small-time hustle ends up being something more as Brian Jackson walks the path of murder, infidelity, and organized crime. Like Walter White, you can’t help but root for Brian Jackson, even as his actions get darker and darker. By the end, you question why you even like the character, but know that you’ll follow him anywhere.

Greg Dragon writes characters that are raw, violent, and human. The hyper-masculine Brian Jackson is a wish fulfillment of many young men in today’s society of political correctness, even if they’re reticent to admit it. The Factory doesn’t shy away from the “real” world either, and liberally uses swearing, racial slurs, sex, and realistic depictions of crime, including murder.

Five out of five stars for a story that speaks to the id and the ego. It’s a brief glimpse into the mind and actions of mad man who’s tired of the world dancing to someone else’s tune, and decides to tickle the ivories with a score that only he can settle.

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Greg Dragon has been a creative writer for several years, and has authored on topics of relationship, finance, physical fitness and more through different sources of media. In particular, his online magazine has been a source of much pragmatic information, which has been helpful to many. As a result, his work continues to grow with a large and loyal fan base.

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Goodreads
http://gregdragon.com/
Twitter


Population Control, by Greg Dragon

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I received a free copy of Population Control by downloading it from Greg Dragon’s website. My understanding was that Population Control was a short story to be included in an anthology, but for some reason, the anthology didn’t happen.

I had high expectations from this short story since I enjoyed the Anstracter novels and the near-future android novels. The relationship between the main character and the people he interacts with is superb, as is the political undertow that permeates the lives of the characters. Greg Dragon has always written excellent characters and situations, and Population Control was no exception.

The story flowed smoothly until the ending. It was almost as if Greg got the word that the anthology was canceled, and decided just to wrap the story up. If this were an introduction to a series, I would’ve readily gotten that series, because I was left wanting more by the end of Population Control.

I’m a short fiction writer myself, so I can appreciate the economy of words, and the difficulty of adhering to low word counts. As it was, I was a little disappointed in this short story, which is frustrating, because I could see a lot of potential in this story, but it didn’t reach fruition. The writing is still solid, and I look forward to reading more Greg Dragon in the future. I’d rate this short story at 3 stars. Go to Greg’s site and download this story for free. It’s a great way to kill an hour and get introduced to an excellent writer.

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Greg Dragon has been a creative writer for several years, and has authored on topics of relationship, finance, physical fitness and more through different sources of media. In particular, his online magazine has been a source of much pragmatic information, which has been helpful to many. As a result, his work continues to grow with a large and loyal fan base.

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http://gregdragon.com/
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Talkin’ up Greg Dragon

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Today, I want to plug fellow writer, and co-author of Days Until Home, Greg Dragon. I’ve reviewed books two and three of his “Next Phase” sci-fi series, and both companion novels in his futuristic “Wired” series. (Re-Wired & Single Wired Female.) I saw on his website that he’s 5% into something called “Wireless.” I hope it’s another companion novel in the “Wired” series, but I haven’t bothered him about it yet. (Maybe he’ll reply here and tell us all!)

Greg is a relationship blogger, fantasy writer (I’ve not read his Knights and Demons series because fantasy isn’t my bag), and all-around swell guy. I got an email newsletter from him that he has some audiobooks out now, and if you haven’t already joined his mailing list, then I’m afraid you’ve missed out on some free audiobooks. No worries though, if you head to his website, you can get his novella, Population Control, for free. Back to audiobooks, if you sign up for audible, and one of Greg’s audiobooks is the first thing you get, he gets a referral fee. They call it a bounty, but it could be up to $50 for him. The next series of his I plan on reading is The Factory, and the upcoming sequel, Gun Moll.

We’ll also start the editing and revisions on Days Until Home in 2017, and I have a soft commitment from Greg and David to write a companion web serial probably in 2018.

Anyway, be sure to check out Greg Dragon’s books. Follow him on Twitter. Do whatever it is you Facebook people do. Finally, check out his article on Self Publishing, Diversity in Books, his views on the Days Until Home web serial, and an interview I did with him. Or, just click here to see stuff about or by Greg on this blog.

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Days Until Home, a retrospective

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Twenty-one weeks, twenty-one chapters. Three authors in three different time zones. The Days Until Home collaborative web serial ended last week. I asked David and Greg to jot down a few thoughts on the project and I added my own two cents. You know, the standard stuff: what we enjoyed, what vexed us, and how the collaborative process was different than our normal writing process. Since the chapters went David, Greg, Mark, I’ve ordered our responses in the same way.

* * *

I’ve worked on collaborative projects before. Danny McAleese and I started the hit new Choose Your Own Adventure-style series Ultimate Ending, where readers make decisions for the character throughout the book and reach endings based on their decisions. However, the [Ultimate Ending] collaboration is more strategic than tactical: Danny writes a book, then I write a book, alternating back and forth and giving each other feedback and ideas. Aside from beta reading and general criticism, each book is either his or mine.

The collaboration on Days Until Home was an entirely different experience. Alternating chapters is simple enough in concept but adds a new dimension to the writing in a lot of different ways.

First, there was very little outlining. Mark, Greg and I wrote down a super rough idea of things at the start, but it was just a guideline to estimate how long the project would be, as opposed to an outline to follow. I’m normally a big outliner, creating outlines that are dozens of pages long, so this was a new (and fun!) experience for me. Each chapter was written mostly on the fly, seeing where it would take me. Near the end of the project the three of us ran some ideas by one-another a bit more, which was necessary since we were hitting the climax, but most of the book was written more-or-less blind.

Second, the goal of each chapter was slightly different. On normal projects I’m always thinking about what’s next: what’s going to happen next paragraph? Next page? Next chapter? Days Until Home always had a big blank space just ahead, since Mark and Greg would be writing the next two chapters before I had my turn again. So instead of setting up my own plots, I felt like I was playing a game of volleyball, constantly setting the ball so one of them could spike it. I really enjoyed this part of the project because it allowed me to “let things go” that I would otherwise obsess over. Normally I’d be focusing on every little detail to make sure everything is consistent and makes sense, or is perfectly explained. This project allowed me to let go of some of those details, “setting” the ball for Mark or Greg instead.

Finally, the biggest part of this project was not knowing where my writing comrades would take things. I would be brainstorming one thing, and then Mark or Greg would drop a big fat (and awesome) new plot that I’d need to work with. As a writer, this was a fun new challenge. There were times when something they wrote screwed with one of my ideas, and I’m sure there were parts I wrote that messed them up, but that forced us to be more creative and work together.

I had a blast working on this project. Writing once every three weeks helped me avoid writing fatigue, so I was always excited to work on the project when one of my chapters was due. Mark and Greg are great guys who I’d be honored to work with in the future. Check out their other published work if you haven’t already!

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Days Until Home – Finale

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Days Until Home: 6

“A lot of COMs traffic now,” Jeremy said looking at a display. His eyes followed the bundle of cables that snaked around equipment and covered most of the deck. They were getting more and more communication from outside the ship as the Kerwood thundered toward Earth orbit. There was increasing concern that the Kerwood was still at maximum cruising speed. The decision was made a few days after the trial to burn hot and hard and request assistance once they reached the Earth.

That was the plan until our COMs array was struck by space junk, Jeremy thought bitterly. They were only a few days away, and their rescuers should’ve been days into preparation, but with no way to ask for help, humanity was left to watch the crippled silent ship head straight for them.

It didn’t help that the Matsue broadcast stories of mutiny, treachery, sabotage, piracy, and kidnapping. The Matsue captain and crew set the narrative and without Captain Hayes and the rest of the Kerwood crew to set the record straight, public opinion was solidly against them.

“It won’t help us, so we ignore it,” Adelaide declared from under a console.

She was trying to create a communications array by linking a series of forearm clusters together and trying to patch the signal through the telemetry array or some other such nonsense. Adelaide seemed to have one crazy plan after another. In the last two weeks, Captain Hayes was seen less and less. He appeared to throw himself into the work required, and it fell to Adelaide and Jeremy to get them home. Even with the trial uncovering the saboteurs, the captain seemed resigned to the fate that awaited him if they made it home. Each new problem with his ship led to him being more and more focused on their salvation. He and Femke holed up together. He became a living ghost wandering around the ship fixing this and that. He spoke to no one and had decreed that his portion of the dwindling foodstuffs be split among the rest of the crew. Femke, Marisol, and Gauge followed his lead and did the same. They were thinning now, and the captain was now a skeleton of a man. But then again, they all were. Jeremy ate his last piece of food the previous morning.

“Can you get this working?” Jeremy asked of his Main Propulsion Assistant.

“I’ll get it working, or die trying,” Adelaide’s voice sounded out from under the console.

“Not slagging funny, Bähr,” Jeremy retorted, the ire he felt evident in his voice.

“Look, ChEng,” Adelaide said with a heavy sigh, “you hovering and interrogating me won’t get this done any sooner.” She pushed her way out from under the console and locked her eyes on his. “In fact,” she continued, “It might even make me screw something up.”

Their eyes were locked for a moment. “I read you five by five,” Jeremy hissed.

Adelaide shrugged and scooted back under the console. Jeremy knew that he had been summarily dismissed. As he walked through the airlock to Main Engineering, he didn’t even have the energy to be offended by the behavior of his subordinate. He stumbled over a piece of equipment, made brief contact with the bulkhead, and staggered down the passageway. It could very well be the last opportunity he’ll ever have to see the engineering marvel that was the Kerwood.
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Days Until Home – Chapter 20

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Days Until Home: 18

When a fourth slug did not come through, Viktor chanced a look down the hall. He could make out the figure of Telly attempting to reload, and he threw all caution to the wind. Bracing his feet against the edges of the hatch, he used his good arm to heave the wrench. It moved with a velocity that he did not expect, and slammed into his attacker with tremendous effect.

Pausing only momentarily to marvel at what he had done, he pushed off towards the unconscious man and snatched the gun out of the air. Time, we just need time, he kept thinking to himself, as he struggled to bring Telly back towards the cargo bay.

“Leave him out there, Vicky, he’ll only be trouble,” said a wincing Seibert from the open hatch.

“We need him as a hostage, to make Hayes back off,” Viktor said.

“Viktor, don’t be crazy, he was just trying to kill us,” Jessica said, now looking out past Seibert.

“Okay, you might be right,” Viktor said reluctantly, then stopped for a minute to catch his breath.

“I’m getting a call,” Jessica said suddenly, “it’s from Vega on the bridge, what do you think I should do?”

“Hold on,” Viktor said, and pulled himself back inside. He secured the lock before turning to face them, the loaded gun now by his side. “Go ahead and answer it. I wonder what sorts of threats they have for us now.”

“Go ahead, Marisol,” Jessica said, and the other three leaned in close to listen.

“Things have gotten out of hand and the captain is livid. Is there any way that I can convince you all to turn yourselves in?” Marisol whispered.

“We did not do this thing!” Viktor yelled into the comm.

“Even if you didn’t, Viktor,” Marisol said, “we will need to continue the discussion before, but without you men trying to kill one another. The Captain isn’t aware that I’m making this call. He’s convinced that you all had something to do with the explosion, but I don’t want anybody innocent to get hurt. Who’ve you got there, Jess, can you at least tell me that?”

“Why should we trust you, Marisol? You did nothing to stop that lunatic from trying to murder all of us. Seibert is wounded, do you know that? We were unarmed and you all decided to execute us on the spot!”

“That wasn’t me, Jessica, it was Telly and Adelaide. Gauge, Femke and I want justice but we want it done right. We can talk to our captain, make him see things the way we do, but we can’t do it if he feels that you are out there hiding and possibly organizing a mutiny of some sort.”

Jessica studied the face of Seibert and Viktor, they both seemed tired and willing to comply. “What should I say to her? She says she wants to help.”

“Marisol has always been there for us, she’s always stood up to Hayes’ slag,” Seibert said. “Even if they think we did it, she would not let them get away with murder. She’s the only one on the bridge that I trust, but I’m not sure if they will hear anything that she says.”

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