About Panic! Horror In Space


About Panic! Horror In Space (as told by Christina Engela):

Panic! Horror In Space” (or “Panic!” as I call it) is a science fiction-horror series. If I have to be completely honest, the whole series started off as an accident. I know how that sounds, but it’s quite true! I don’t mean though, that I sat down behind this keyboard one day and just wrote the whole thing as some kind of accident! No, it all started long ago, when I started writing a short essay for English class at high school! That was back in 1987, and the result was a pretty terrible (by my current standards) three page handwritten thing I called “The Curse”!

Fast-forward to 2017, and one day I was going through a bunch of my old writing (stored neatly, though dust-covered, in lever-arch files) and read it over…. “Hmmm…” I thought. “I could do something with this…”

The end-result was a short story called “Mercury Rising” – and it was a sci-fi horror story with a real cliff-hanger ending that didn’t bode well for the characters! In fact, the outcome looked quite dire! I loved it! So did my then fiancee’ Wendy, and about three different readers, including a South African sci-fi author named Anike Kirsten – who wanted to know what was going to happen next!

“Next?” I thought? “There is no next! That’s it! It’s supposed to end that way!”

“You know, you should really write more like this!” Wendy told me. “Perhaps make it into a series?”

I groaned, because suddenly my head was filled with rushing, churning prophetic images of the future… science fiction… but filled with horror, dread… and zombies!

Thus it was that I sat down at my keyboard again in 2017, and wrote “Mercury Resurgent”, the sequel – in which I pulled a rabbit out of a hat in perhaps the same way as one might unscrew the inscrutable. The result was “Panic! Horror In Space” the series… and both stories wound up together in volume #1. A little more torture at the keyboard, including a load of research into the paranormal, cursed objects, and hauntings etc, and I had four more rather long short stories – and two more volumes in the series.

Panic! Horror In Space #2 Front

The covers were rather nice, and the stories I thought were excellent… but the titles didn’t work out the way I wanted to… so finally in 2019, after evaluating the honestly disappointing sales figures, I took them back down and went back to the drawing board. What could I do to improve on them?

Was it my marketing skills? Was it the way I was marketing them? Was it the way they looked – i.e. the covers? What was wrong?

So I tried something different.

Instead of “Panic! Horror In Space #1” containing 2 stories (“Mercury Rising” and “Mercury Resurgent”), I put those two with the next two stories from vol 2 (“Dead Center” and “Through A Dark Glassy”) and called it “Static“. I then took the two stories from volume 3 (“Miora” and “The Big Rain”) and threw in “Lange’s Legacy”, and renamed vol 2 “Life Signs“. Then I wrapped both in new covers!

 

By the way, if you want to read a preview of Panic! you’re welcome to download a FREE copy of “Mercury Rising” by clicking on the cover below:

 

So, what’s the series about?

Panic! Horror In Space” is series of horror misadventures in deep space with the crew of the starship Mercury – which, of all the starships in the elite Terran Space Fleet, is probably the unluckiest ship in history! Not once, not twice, but many times over, the same hapless crew – give or take a couple of replacements – on a supposed voyage of deep-space exploration – give or take a few dozen casualties, stumble into the weird, wake the creepy and trip over the downright terrifying and possibly even supernatural.

Panic! Is set in the Galaxii Series universe, using many of the same settings, references and background material.

Since Panic! is a horror series, there are the obvious horror plot twists and plot devices, and a whole universe of nasties, as well as good tension and suspense. Things like zombies, ghosts, haunted or cursed objects as well as assorted kinds of paranormal activity are likely to feature in a variety of settings such as deserted colonies or outposts, and derelict space ships or stations. But as any good horror writer will tell you, a good horror story isn’t ALL about the horror. One has to build up to horror, and there have to be releases from terror, otherwise constant terror becomes monotonous, loses its edge, and becomes dull – and the reader, bored.

One way to do this is to occasionally divert the reader’s attention to the other aspects of space travel, procedure and protocol, and of course, to add a little humor to the mix.  In Panic! I achieve this by highlighting the deteriorating relationship between the captain of the Mercury, Stuart Flane, and his superiors at Space Fleet HQ. Admiral Tawney, who although quite fond of Flane, has little patience for mishaps that cost lives of his crew – and flimsy reports that include impossibilities and words such as ‘ghosts’, ‘undead’ and ‘simply vanished’. Commodore Peters, on the other hand had a far more direct method of venting her anger at him. One time, she chased Flane halfway across her Starbase with her nine-iron after he’d lost her favorite nephew (a presenter on a popular paranormal TV show) on a special assignment on Floridia-7. That planet had a reputation for being the most haunted place in the known universe, and well-deserved it was too!

Aside from the lovable Captain Flane, there’s his long-suffering best friend and executive officer, Vic Chapman. Vic is an incurable optimist, amateur historian, romantic and tech-wizard, who tends to wax romantic over every unexplained mystery they encounter in deep space… whether it’s an abandoned space vessel full of dead people, or a long-dead alien world with just one life sign on the surface!

While most of the characters tend to come and go, it is Vic and Flane, and the Mercury’s CMD, Dr. Fred Killian who tend to be regulars. Every new story in brings with it new characters, and new threats – and new terrors!

I am hard at work on the next episode of Panic – volume 3, though I haven’t a title for it as yet – and unfortunately, if you want a sneak-peak of its contents, you will have to go to Floridia-7 to get it!

Further Reading:

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If you would like to know more about Christina Engela and her writing, please feel free to browse her website.

If you’d like to send Christina Engela a question about her life as a writer or transactivist, please send an email to christinaengela@gmail.com or use the Contact form.

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All material copyright © Christina Engela, 2019.

 

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