Prodigal Sun


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Sheriff Peggy-Ann Muller suddenly found herself hip-deep in strange events – even stranger than usual… and skinheads too – did she mention the skinheads?

Something had stirred in the darkness on the remote, usually idyllic Terran colony of Deanna – something Nazi… And it only seemed to be getting worse!

Nobody could say when it started, or how, but something had changed. Without being noticed, hate had come to Deanna and made a nest there… and a terrible plot was about to hatch!

The quirky residents of the third-rate colony faced a challenge unlike any they had seen before. Was there still time to stop it? Only Time would tell if they were up for it. Time… and Johnathan Scrooby.

“Engela’s eye for the quirky humor of even the darkest situations sets her writing apart from the masses. Her fiction combines oddball humor in the tradition of writers like Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams, with the best of traditional science fiction.” Sarah Rutledge Fischer, Focus Mid-South Magazine

“Engela’s latest work is packed with humour, challenging ideas, and science-fiction on a grand scale. It transports readers to a truly original world, filled with bizarre and memorable characters. It tackles social issues while reading like a Terry Pratchett, with some western and sci-fi elements to boot.”- Matthew ‘Sand-Storm’ Fick.

“Fun, quirky and most probably the strongest of the Quantum series! Christina Engela has a unique way of telling a story that has lots going on without making it seem confusing or cluttered. Having read all of the previous books in her Quantum series this one carves a unique but powerful path that faces many issues without any fear. 5 Stars.” – Lee Hall, UK writer & reviewer.

Prodigal Sun” is the fifth title in the Quantum Series by Christina Engela.

Details:

  • Published: Mar 29, 2019
  • Words: 52,650.
  • Pages: 174 pages (6×9 format paperback)
  • Duration: (to be announced) min (eBook narrated by (to be announced))


Synopsis: [Spoiler Alert] (under construction)

In space, a small but very fierce battle rages aboard a diminutive, badly damaged ship – a battle between four independent bounty hunters and a supposed hitchhiker and albatross by the name of Brandon Carver. For some strange reason, Carver launched his unprovoked attack – which results in the deaths of Tracey Ferris’ crew – and now he’s trying to kill her as well. Ferris has no clue what this is all about, but is fairly sure it isn’t to take her ship for himself. Why? Because if he wanted her ship, he probably wouldn’t have turned it into a blazing inferno on the inside! And what the hell did he mean about being a vampire hunter? She’s very upset with herself for giving him a ride in the first place – and for ever laying eyes on him at all in the second! And now… well, now they’re both looking for the nearest life-pod in order to escape what used to be her only worthwhile possession!

Tracey Ferris manages to escape the stricken ship in the nick of time. She’s not sure if Carver escaped as well – she hopes not – and she’s not even aware of the name of the planet rushing to meet her from below! She just hopes its habitable and friendly, and not too far off the beaten path! Fortunately for her, it is all of those things. It’s a small backwater Terran colony – and it’s name is Deanna.

After emerging from the life-pod in a crater at the end of a miles-long trench of devastation cut through rural farmland, Tracey Ferris picks up a wrench for self-defense, and stoically heads in the most likely direction of civilization and finds the Grauffis ranch, where she asks for help. Jen Grauffis may have an illegal alien living in her basement, but that doesn’t put her above helping out strangers in need. Not long afterward, Sheriff Peggy-Ann Muller (now the Chief S.O.D of Atro City, who is “really an okay sorta gal” according to the Mayor of Atro City) arrives to rescue Tracey and takes her back to the city.

In the meantime, her nemesis Brandon Carver has also escaped destruction in a life-pod and made a landing in the Whatoosie River at the outskirts of Atro City – in Skeggs Valley. Unfortunately for Mr. Carver, his pod has landed right in the middle of the monthly outing held by the Skeggs Valley Dynamite Fishing Club – an unlikely bunch of military veterans and pensioners with thick glasses and often a complete inability to even chuck stun grenades in the same direction into the river! After receiving an inadvertently warm welcome, Carver drifts further down the river until he’s picked up by some shady characters who’ve been waiting just for him!

This is the distant future – human rights (and in some cases inhuman rights) have become so secure and safe under the rule of the benevolent Terran government, that they are very much taken for granted. However, it is in the shadows that something stirs – something ugly. It’s roots lie in the heart of the Terran government – a potentially malignant growth that goes unnoticed at first, as it spreads it insidious tendrils across the peaceful Terran Empire. Far away from Earth, right at the cutting edge of settled space, it’s business as usual on the quirky colony of Deanna. Or is it?

Danielle Grauffis’ teenage years are drawing to a close, but she’s already wise beyond her years – and not just in the good connotations of that phrase. She’s an astro-anthropology student at Atro City University – the center of academic life on Deanna. Her life has its ups and downs – and more downs than ups lately, since her recent abduction. She tells herself that she’s over it, but deep down, things aren’t what they used to be, and she knows it. She carries on with her old life, studying, classes, the occasional party or outing with new friends at varsity. Life goes on. Then one day, a note is passed around class – a note inviting students to attend a meeting… a meeting about monsters in their midst.

Danielle, like many of her peers is curious – what’s it about, some sort of play? A student prank? Along with some of her friends, she attends the meeting that night at the varsity campus – in an old store-room which has been rearranged to serve as an auditorium. It turns out to be really more of a mysterious political rally – one that takes a bad turn for Nazi.

Everyone at the meeting becomes angry at the words of the speaker – Michael Francis, a slightly older socio-political student. Some are angry because they agree with what he says – most are angry because they’re the ones on the receiving end of that age-old burden of Humanity: prejudice. Francis describes minorities such as non-Human aliens, LGBT people and others as “monsters in our midst” and urges the people of Deanna – or rather, the students present – to defend themselves. A lot of students are understandably outraged, vow to report this matter to the Varsity, and leave the venue – but quite a few stay to listen to the honeyed, persuasive words of Michael Francis.

The organizers are very well organized as it turns out, and not everyone who leaves the rally gets home safely. Several unusual assaults occur on the same night in the same area, with the local Sheriff receiving a collection of reports the next morning from victims who all report having attended the same event on campus grounds. Danielle was lucky enough to get home safely, but quite a few of her friend weren’t so lucky. Moreover, the staff at Atro City University don’t take any complaints or reports about the alleged meeting seriously – and Danielle takes it upon herself to approach Sheriff Peggy-Ann Muller directly.

The Sheriff (Peg for short) has up until then been completely immersed in arrangements for an imminent royal visit now only days away. There are so many meetings she needs to attend daily, and so many arrangements to take care of – but she takes Danielle at her word that something strange could be going on at the varsity – and makes an appointment to see the Chancellor of ACU. The Chancellor himself is indisposed, and his vice is standing in for him. Professor James Eregut McMillen denies knowledge of any suspicious meetings held on campus – or any assaults. This arouses Peg’s suspicions… and based on the descriptions of all the assault victims, she begins to notice things… things which she might not have noticed otherwise.

There’s been a slight, yet steady increase in vandalism, assaults, arson and acts of late, that could be associated with the archaic term ‘hate crime’. Hateful acts are being directed against minorities… non-human aliens, immigrants, LGBT folks, minority religions and cultures. Awful things had started to happen. Suddenly it becomes apparent to Peg – who is up to her eyeballs in strange crimes and daily committee meetings, that something frightening is afoot, and it seemed to be getting worse very quickly! And – where did all those skinheads come from suddenly?

Danielle goes out with a friend one night – one Marla de Bris, who is 20 something going on 240 – and a member of the local vampire (very) underground! The local club is called The Slipped Disk, and it’s also a gay club. Fred the Arborian happens to be working there as the manager and barma- er, barista – and everything is going just fine, until a couple of homophobic yobs come along looking for trouble. They find it.

Brandon Carver meanwhile, has arrived at his destination – delivered by some strong-men working for a very secretive and clandestine organization – to the big boss… who happens to be Professor McMillen! The Professor is the main peanut in charge of the Deannan Service League – which has been working secretly in the background on Deanna for upwards of five years – and appears to have far-reaching plans in motion for the upcoming Royal Visit by Prince Justin…. plans which include Mr. Carver!

The build-up to the Royal Visit is incessant and gradual, and although Prince Justin is a junior member of the Imperial family, he’s a very popular figure. He’s touring the expanse of the Terran Empire in one of the Imperial family’s private yachts, and quietly arrives on Deanna the day before a planned parade to welcome him.

The parade itself though has taken the proud, excited residents of the colony something like six months to plan – and even Albrecht is playing in the marching band – but it doesn’t turn out anything like they expect it to.

Along the parade route, Peg’s deputies get cancelled by operatives of McMillen’s group, and as Prince Justin’s car reaches Lupini Square, Brandon Carver – the assassin – kills him in a very messy, public fashion just outside the Governor’s palace, where thousands of people are waiting. The shock value is enormous.

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Just then, as the crowd scatters, screaming, a large body of uniformed soldiers comes marching along the parade route – but they’re not Terran soldiers, they’re storm troops of the Deannan Service League – and they surround the square, trapping everyone inside. The quasi-political group disrupts all communications between the colony and the rest of the Terran Empire, and to create an independent republic!

The intentions of the Deannan Service League are far from noble however, and suddenly the small backwater planet where almost nothing high profile ever happens, finds itself at the center of a fascist revolution! The situation is about to turn into a bloodbath for the various minority social groups on Deanna – including several vulnerable characters marked as ‘undesirable’ by the new regime… But wait – someone else is watching all of this unfold, someone outside of Time!

Inside the Governor’s palace, quick reactions from Sheriff Muller see to it that the main doors are bolted and all entrances closed – but for how long they can hold out, nobody knows for certain…

Meanwhile, light-years away on Mars, Cindy-Mei Winter and her beau Gary Beck have been visiting her family – much to their regret. It hasn’t gone very well at all – all they’ve done is to confirm her black sheep status. Mei is transgender and her relatives haven’t seen her since her final surgeries some months before – and she has been treated like a curiosity, a freak – and dead-named… Gary has been on the receiving end of homophobic questions around his sexuality because he happens to be dating her. When she’s had enough of their disgraceful conduct, they leave – and return to her old apartment in Mars City, where she decides she will return to Deanna with Gary, sell all her remaining property on Mars, and never speak to her family again.

It’s then that they notice someone is waiting for them in her apartment – Johnathan Scrooby – Time Agent extraordinaire – and he’s got a job for them. Being an agent with the Time Saving Agency, he knows what’s coming, and he doesn’t like it – not one bit. Officially he’s not allowed to interfere with the timeline, but there are ways he can interpret the rules in all their favor…

What Comes Next?

The people of Deanna face a growing darkness – but at least they don’t have to face it alone. Cindy-Mei Winter, Beck the Badfeller, Fred the Arborian, Peg – and new friends in the Vampire Underground – have their backs.

The History of “Prodigal Sun”

Prodigal Sun” is book 5 in the series, and the first part of what I call the quadrilogy – a story in four parts. The quadrilogy (Books 5-8) centers around a sudden, hostile fascist hijacking and takeover of the Terran colony of Deanna, which ultimately erupts into a full-blown civil war! Naturally, the events before, during and after are inspired by many things, and I could go on listing them all day: the American Civil War, the rise of Nazism in Germany (1923-38), the pogroms, homophobic and LGBT purges, the Holocaust, Jim Crow laws and the American Civil Rights Movement, to name but a few. What’s even more troubling – especially to me as an author – is the state of current affairs (post Dec 2016) in the USA.
As you can probably tell, the quadrilogy delves deep into darkness, but at the same time, again, the central themes to my stories in Quantum are fairness, justice and equality for all. Rest assured dear readers, justice will be done, the su – er, Ramalama will shine again, and in a way that will be most satisfying.

I wrote and published the first version of “Prodigal Sun” in 2017 on Lulu.

In 2019, I revised all the Quantum Series books and redesigned all the covers so they all looked like part of the same series – and unique from Galaxii! At any rate, I feel the current series of covers does the story justice!

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Reviews:

Fun, quirky and most probably the strongest of the Quantum series!

“Christina Engela has a unique way of telling a story that has lots going on without making it seem confusing or cluttered. Having read all of the previous books in her ‘Quantum’ series this one carves a unique but powerful path that faces many issues without any fear.

Characters who have established themselves in this colorful and fun universe are taken somewhat by surprise much like the reader as a political supremacist group looks to overthrow the current regime on Deanna. In fact everything about the ‘Deannan Service league’ reeks of revolt but some revolutions aren’t for the greater good – a strong and relevant political message that many can relate to today.

We see Danielle Grauffis; a student and transgender character who becomes directly caught up in the political overthrowing and subsequent storm. You cannot help but sympathize for her story which is one that is just of a person looking to be included and positive inclusion is a huge theme in this book much like all of Engela’s works they directly and sometimes indirectly set an example that champions everyone and anyone including the minorities.

As the story unfolded it became more and more gripping as events turn for the worse. Sheriff Peggy Ann-Muller may well be in over her head even if she does express exactly what is going on through a powerful quote ‘Anyone else want to be on the wrong side of history?’ Powerful is probably the one word which sums up the plot of ‘Prodigal Sun’ but as usual there is way much more happening. I have only just realized ‘Atro City’ is in fact meant to be pronounced as ‘Atrocity’ which is just one of the many fun quirks you’ll find in this great read! Left very much open and on a cliff hanger, I shall be diving right into the next story!

5 Stars – Great read, review left via Goodreads over the holidays but now I am back to review more indie books! You can expect a review of the next book in the Quantum series soon!

Happy new year readers!” – Lee Hall, UK writer & reviewer, January 02, 2020.

Reader Comments:

A Brilliant Read

“I thought “Prodigal Sun” was a brilliant read. The story is tasteful and humorous in a style that reminds me of Pratchett. Christina Engela sets the scene for ‘Prodigal Sun’ on the quirky little planet called Deanna under it’s mad little moons Ding and Dong, bringing back all the characters I’ve grown to love from her previous books in the Quantum series.

The first installment of this gripping story unfolds, telling the emotive and sometimes disturbing tale of events as they unfold in Atro City. She captures the darkness of hatred and fear as she details the dangers of encroaching fascism, the daunting struggles facing her characters, and the true horror found in the segregation of various minorities at the hands of purists. She deals with these topics sensitively and intelligently, with certain familiar characters being on-hand to balance the darkness out with injections of wit and humor – and to administer required doses of karma and justice!

As this first part of the story ends, the stage is set for an epic battle on a grand scale – and as the first person to read “Prodigal Sun“, I was left begging for more!

I can’t wait to see how my favorite characters overcome the odds in the next installment!” – Wendy Keran Gloss, 2017.

 


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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