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NARC #2: Equinox
Equinox Industries is a commercial monopoly which has spent decades mining the gas giant, Zeus. Now, the company is challenged by a growing faction for its dirty environmental record, and Tactcial in the fantastic city of Elysium -- on the moon of Avalon in orbit around the green-faced giant world -- suspects the mining giant of being the force behind the local manufacture of Angel. The super drug isn't being smuggled into the system -- Colonel Vic Duggan shut down the Angel smuggling trade once and for all. Yet Avalon remains riddled with Angel, rotting with it from the inside out...
Enter Jarrat and Stone, commanding the carrier NARC-Athena, the premier base ship in the paramilitary NARC force which is at war with the Angel syndicates. Lovers whose minds have been bonded together. Men whose lives have been changed forever by the drug, the war, and the sacrifices both have made, and must continue to make if they will pursue a job which has long been a vocation.
In this second opus, the heroes of DEATH'S HEAD need their empathic powers as well as the twenty-fouth century's technology wizardry to stay one jump ahead of their their corporate enemies -- to stay alive and at liberty.
Read the first 10% of this novel right here, in PDF format
(Caveat: material in this free sample is not suitable for juniors. Consider yourself warned!)
Length: 125,000 words
Rated: R (sex, violence, language)
Publication date: 2008
Price: $9.99 - ebook
Want to know more about NARC? Click here for a collection of articles, interviews and features which open a window into this amazing world!
"In his second novel, Australian author Mel Keegan keeps up the action and suspense of ICE, WIND AND FIRE, displaying the same imagination and confidence in the SF field as he did in the comtemporary thriller."
--GMP Cover notes from the orginal paperback edition
"A powerful futuristic thriller" � Capital Gay.
"Unputdownable" � Him.
REVIEWED BY ARICIA GAVRIEL
There's so much to comment on and talk about in EQUINOX, I hardly know where to start, so I'll begin with the on-going development of the Jarrat and Stone characters, which gives a whole new insight into these guys, in this book. You had to wonder, in DEATH'S HEAD, if either J or S would suffer any long-term harm from what they'd been through, and it turns out, they did, or at least Jarrat did. Jarrat is a character with a quick-hot, fast-burn temper, so it's not surprising he's the one to start suffering something like post-trauma stress disorder, while Stoney handles the situation better. Watching them work it out was page-turner stuff. In this book we get a bit more backstory on the guys, too, in particular Stoney (you only have to wonder what DEATH'S HEAD would have been like if MK hadn't had to cut it to pieces on account of GMP's book-length limits). The story of EQUINOX is so tight-knit and intricate, it's a close-second to HELLGATE #1. It keeps you guessing to the end. Anyone who likes airplanes and flying will get a big kick out of this book too. One of the best parts is a low-level dogfight, where Jarrat is in the shuttle, in pursuit of a bad guy. Wow. There's also a high-speed car-chase on the freeway, in Twenty-Fourth century muscle-cars ... also wow. MK was getting into his stride with this one, and it's too bad GMP started to wind down soon after. Anyway, 'better late than never,' DreamCraft is going to do a new NARC book next year ('04), and here's hoping the D'sH special edition (full, uncut) goes ahead. I'll be keeping in touch with Dave at DreamCraft and will update my Jarrat and Stone webpage with news when available.
REVIEWED BY TOSHUA
I'm starting on NARC #3. I blew through the first 2, finishing #2 on the plane back [home]. I'm enjoying the series greatly. My hat's off to Mel. The detail in your universe is astonishing. How much research have you done to come up with all the little details scattered throughout the novels? [MK answers: a lot. Planet-building isn't as simple as thinking up a catchy name and setting the action there! Also, when your characters are drawn from a vast variety of backgrounds, you have to know a little about where people are from, to be able to figure out how they'll speak, perhaps behave. For instance, Stoney is easy: after APHELION you'll know exactly where he's from � which I've known all along, of course! And his background goes a long way towards molding the character. Jarrat, however, is tough to write, and always was. He's from an invented place (Sheckley), so every detail of Sheckley had to be developed ... and Jarrat was 'engineered' to be a product of that background. All is revealed in STOPOVER! And then you get along to the science. How much real science is there in these books? A lot, and in the story set on Earth, Mars and in the Jupiter system, one heck of a lot. Glad you're enjoying the novels ... and thanks for letting me know! - MK]
READERS WHO ENJOY NARC ALSO LOVE HELLGATE:
Mel Keegan comments on EQUINOX
Here I am back in one of my favourite universes, with a whole new world to explore. This one was massive fun � much more so than the first book, because since the characters and background had already been establisheed the year before I was able to launch right into the plot. When this one was written the intention was for the NARC books to become a series. I had ideas for at least four more! Unfortunely, GMP's troubles were about to begin, and Jarrat and Stone went back on the shelf along with so many other projects (HELLGATE among them). I'd always hoped GMP's situation would improve over time, but in fact the reverse came to pass, and at this point (April '03), if not for my relationship with the South Aussie multimedia studio DreamCraft, I'd be looking for a publisher, like the majority of the writers who have found themselves left behind as GMP winds down. The good news is that DreamCraft came to the rescue � and Jarrat and Stone books are once again in the offing, just as surely as the HELLGATE series! I confess, I love Jarrat and Stone unconditionally. Once or twice I've been asked, which is my favorite of the two characters. Please. Don't make me choose. I can't. EQUINOX and FORTUNES OF WAR were on simultaneous contracts, and both contracts were signed and sealed on the basis of the synposes for these two books ... this situation shows in the way I left EQUINOX at the end of the book. It's open ended, not tied off in any way. I expected to be coming back for a third waltz around this particular galaxy! However, it looks like being about eleven years "between drinks" ... which is to say, yes, there is a third NARC book and it could be a reality in 2004. Much depends on the success encountered by DreamCraft along the rocky road of promoting my work. (Hint hint: guys, pass the word along!)
So, If you have the original GMP edition, do you need this one?
Only if you're a "purist" about your literature, or a completionist regarding your collection. Both the text and the cover are different, though the text of EQUINOX has merely been updated in two ways, both fairly subtle.
First, the DreamCraft edition is much more error-free than the GMP edition. Numerous typographical errors which were missed in the old issue have been remedied here, and the result is a smoother narrative. (GMP did not have a spotless track record when it came to copy editing, this is no secret. However, DreamCraft has the resources to be more thorough).
Second (and more importantly), Mel Keegan has reviewed the prior, published copy, and has "tweaked" the text where necessary to update the technology. The NARC books were written over a decade ago and some terms are now obsolete; also, various high-tech which was borderline science fiction in 1990 is now common on the street, and the book needed a subtle revision. This has been done, rendering the DreamCraft edition of EQUINOX superior, textually, to the 1991/92 original (published in '93).
Also, it is our intention to "pick up" the reprints of the Mel Keegan books as the old titles go out of print at GMP, so DEATH'S HEAD will eventually be reissued in series-volume with EQUINOX and the forthcoming SCORPIO. Purists and completionists may like to h ave their collections in-volume ... and remember, books shipped from DreamCraft are all signed by Mel!
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