READING AND RESOURCE GUIDE
GREENSHIFT is the first book in a new series set within the world of Ambasadora. This space thriller contains elements of futuristic romance, military science fiction, a galactic empire, dystopian society, and space opera.
In this caste-ruled society, celebrity, beauty, and power mean everything and multiple partners are the norm. Love and jealousy are considered emotional fallacies, nothing more than fleeting moods and sentiments biased by hormones. But sometimes people just fall in love...and that can be deadly.
Mari's rare eye color makes her a pariah within Upper Caste society, which is why she prefers plants to people...except David, the former Armadan captain who shuttles scientists around on a refurbished pleasure cruiser.
But someone else is interested in Mari and her distinctive look--an obsessed psychopath who tortures and murders women for pleasure.
When the killer chooses Mari as his next victim, the soldier inside David comes alive, but it is Mari who must fight for her own life and prove she isn't as fragile as the flowers she nurtures.
"I love sci-fi romance and am always on the lookout for a new author. This was a great introduction to a new world with characters that were memorable and believable."
-Cyberclipher, Amazon reviewer
"I knew from page two of Greenshift that I had a writer-crush on Heidi Ruby Miller. I mean, holy crap, this girl can write! This is how you write Science-Fiction."
-Cary Caffrey, best selling author of THE GIRLS FROM ALCYONE
"Miller's characters blaze with life and lust and depth, and her world is a dichotomy of the glamorously sensual and the brutally dangerous."
-Mary SanGiovanni, Bram Stoker nominated author of THE HOLLOWER trilogy
"...I loved the world building in this, the attention to detail and the portrayal of the characters. Heidi has a talent for making them so real. The writing is flawless and descriptive, and all the premises and reactions believable and consistent. The bad guys completely gave me the creeps..."
-Pippa Jay, author of KEIR
"The action and romance are seamlessly woven together, transporting us and leaving us petulant for more when the story is over."
-from the foreword by Dana Marton, New York Times best selling author of THE THIRD SCROLL
"GREENSHIFT gives readers a delightfully malicious villain and a thrilling climax that had me on the edge of my seat and left me gasping for breath when all was said and done. Fans of Sci-Fi Romance are sure to enjoy this romance and action-packed novel."
-S.A. Sullivan, author of THE HAUNTED HOUSEWIVES OF ALLISTER, ALABAMA
"No spoilers here, but if you love planet hopping, space crafts, incredibly thought out societal pecking orders, stuff called scent bots and voyeurs, and characters you simply cannot resist rooting for...read this."
-T. K. Toppin, author of THE LANCASTER RULE series
I’m giving you one more chance
“Unidentified transport vessel, this is Captain David Anlow of the Argo Protector>. You have entered forbidden space above an embargoed planet. Disengage your weapons or we will take this as a sign of aggression and release gunships. Do you acknowledge?”
The UTV’s silence mimicked their response to the first two hails.
David’s gunship crews were standing by for launch. Normally he would simply fire a warning shot across the UTV’s bow. The sight of a blue-white plasma ball rapidly filling the viewscreen was enough to force even the most powerfully equipped ships to surrender. And the mid-sized transport vessel facing off with them now only had low grade weaponry that would simply vaporize as it glanced off the Protector’s massive shields.
But David couldn’t risk a warning shot here without the plasma punching through the atmosphere of Tampa One and hitting the planet. The sharp silhouette of the oblong UTV was black against the green and white haze of Tampa One. He hadn’t been on the pristine planet in decades—few had since Sovereign Prollixer and the Quorum of Archivists designated it an eco sanctuary. That meant no new settlements, no harvesting or mining, only tourists who could pay the exorbitant prices that the Embassy-sanctioned outfitters demanded.
"Third hail," Commander Lyra Simpra said, her cinnamon breath reminding David of his unfinished cup of chai from this morning. "Gunships are a go, Captain."
Lyra had never been a patient woman.
His patience wore thin, too. “Launch gunships two and four.”
The situation felt wrong to David. He had been captaining the Protector for ten years and had moved rapidly through fleet ranks since enlisting as a teenager. In all that time he learned to hone his instincts. Right now they told him there was something he was missing.
To the gunships he instructed, “Close half the distance. Wait for my order to engage.” Then so that only his commander could hear, “Lyra, something feels off about this ship.”
“Aside from their outdated registration, non-existent transponder codes, and unwillingness to answer us?” the blonde Armadan asked. “Oh, and there’s the bit about their weapons being online.”
Only Lyra could get away with talking to him like that, and not just because of how they spent their time together off the bridge. He valued her opinion—she never let emotion cloud her judgment, even when it came to him.
“Do you really think it’s a coincidence,” she said, “that the day the Embassy sends down the quorum to reconsider the Archenzon embargo, this UTV shows up?”
“Why would they do this?” David asked. “They had to know they’d be hopelessly outgunned.”
“Desperation. To make a statement.” Lyra didn’t sound like she cared about motive. Her mood had been irascible since she returned from a meeting at fleet headquarters last week. She’d never told David what that meeting was about, and he never asked because there would always be parts of their lives they didn’t discuss—their positions as officers wouldn’t allow it.
Considering their conversation before she attended that meeting, David suspected Lyra had requested a transfer. He shouldn’t have brought up marriage again.
The comm officer interrupted his thoughts. “They’re responding, sir.”
"Argo Protector we have families on board traveling from Tampa Three. We’re requesting an emergency landing. Don’t fire.”
“Convenient,” Lyra said.
David agreed. “Why are your weapons online?”
"That can’t be. Our ship isn’t armed." The man’s voice sounded nervous, not necessarily like he was lying, more like the pronouncement caught him unawares.
David looked to his petty officer for confirmation.
“Still reading as online, sir.”
“Our sensors report your weapons are online. Disengage and we can discuss your emergency situation,” David said. To his comm officer he said, “Relay this information, including the request for an emergency landing, to HQ.”
"I’m telling you we don’t have any weapons, online or otherwise."
“We’re assessing your situation now,” David said.
“Response coming in from fleet HQ, Captain,” the comm officer said.
“Put it through.”
"Why hasn’t that ship been dealt with?" To David’s surprise, he recognized the voice as Rear Admiral Quartis. He expected a comm officer to relay the message. The Embassy must really be concerned with the security for the quorum’s little foray on-planet. Most likely the escalating terrorist attacks by the fragger organization this past week.
“Sir, there may be civilian families on board—”
"Squatters, you mean," Quartis snapped back. "Trying to stake a claim to land on Tampa One before the embargo lifts."
David had considered that. Debates consumed the Media feeds concerning the upcoming vote which would decide whether those citizens already living on the surface of Tampa One could remain. The single point all legislators agreed upon, however, was that no new immigrants would be tolerated. If the passengers in the UTV were Lower Caste citizens from the ill-formed and dirty world of Tampa Three, David could understand their desire to live in paradise on the rustic and isolated Tampa One.
“I’ll have troopers from one of the gunships board them,” he said, “and assess the situation from that end. If there’s no threat to the Protector, the UTV can handle its emergency in our docking bay.” To the comm officer David said, “Relay that order to gunship two.”
"If that ship doesn’t comply with boarding, engage and destroy. The Enforcer is on its way to back you up," Quartis said.
David bristled. “I think one battleship can handle a UTV, sir.”
"Don’t forget who you’re talking to, Captain Anlow."
“You might want to hold your tongue, Captain, before you make us all look bad,” Lyra spit out through gritted teeth.
“And, you might want to hold yours, Commander.” He didn’t need Lyra’s pissy attitude right now.
“The UTV’s weapons went offline,” the petty officer said. “Sir, it’s making a break for Tampa One’s atmosphere.”
“Tell gunships to follow,” David said. “Do not engage. Hail the UTV again.”
“That goes against direct orders, sir,” Lyra said.
“It isn’t protocol to shoot down a civilian ship with its weapons offline,” David said.
Every trooper on the bridge remained still, listening to the stand-off between the officers.
“Rear Admiral Quartis’s direct order overrides fleet protocol according to Section 4.30-74 of the Armadan—”
David cut Lyra off. “I’m not blasting a passenger transport out of the sky without true proof of threat. You may return to your quarters, Commander Simpra.”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that, David.”
His head snapped around at the use of his given name. That should have been the biggest surprise, but it paled in comparison to the shock of seeing her pointing a cender between his eyes.
"This isn’t personal," she said.
"Gunships standing by—Sir, gunships from the Enforcer just fired on the UTV."
David watched the wall-sized viewscreen as the UTV broke apart into hundreds of red-orange fireballs plunging through Tampa One’s atmosphere.
READING AND RESOURCE GUIDE
Things to Think About While Reading
• What parallels can we draw between the Ambasadora-verse and our own world?
• How would we react in Mari's situation?
• What are the intricacies of an ensemble cast?
• How does the setting affect the story?
• What aspects make this book Science Fiction and which make it Romance?
THEME: MULTI-PARTNER AMOUR SYSTEM AND THE EMOTIONAL FALLACY
In all of the Ambasadora-verse books, we get the hint that the original worldship dwellers were a small group of refugees from Earth. As death and disease took its toll, the only way to boost population and ensure a diverse gene pool would be through multiple breeding partners. After a generation or two, this practice would become established as tradition and written as part of the History.
The fact that many citizens still tend toward monogamy is a source of problems in a society where promiscuity is encouraged. They use the term emotional fallacy to represent the weakness of devoting one's life to a single other person and condemn the idea that a person would make life decisions based on fleeting emotions and hormonal responses.
The world philosophy doesn't allow for true love. In fact, the word love is not used throughout the entire book. It is taboo.
THEME: EVERY GESTURE HAS MEANING
In this kind of sexually charged culture, where there is a caste system in place, finding genetically superior mates (called amours) would become the most important thing, even among these sophisticated and technologically advanced humans; therefore, they are a very affectionate society where every gesture signifies something, whether it's a kiss to the forehead meant as an informal greeting or honing in on a potential amour's pupil dilation to gauge attraction. Deciphering the meaning of a touch becomes an art form and flirtation reaches the level of targeted precision.
David's confrontation being broadcast in a live feed is a mirror for a society obsessed with voyeurism and living vicariously, either through celebrities or the virtual world of the V-side. The Media knows all, shows all, and can be manipulated by the right people to control all. Aiding the Media are little mechanical spies like voyeurs with their telescoping cameras and sensitive, multi-directional microphones and mind minstrels, which can scan a person's brain and turn their thoughts and emotions into music for the amusement of others.
In the V-side, virtual home of the techno-militant, anti-government fraggers, one can become essentially anyone or anything he or she likes and sustain that image for as long they are plugged in. By avoiding the tenets of one society, they have offered themselves up as slaves to another.
THEME: STRENGTH THROUGH A LOVER
Mari and David epitomize the concept of strength through a lover—knowing there is one person in the entire world you are close to in so many ways, that this person would do anything to protect you, to make sure you're happy, to fight for you and love you, that fulfills your physical needs as well as your emotional ones. It runs counter to the emotional fallacy theme and usurps it by the end.
Books/Films/ Media that Inspired the Author
G. I. Joe comic books and Choose Your Own Adventures from childhood
Dune books by Frank Herbert
Philip Jose Farmer stories
Battlestar Galactica series
Joss Whedon and the Whedonverse: Buffy, Angel, Firefly
Rockne S. O'Bannon's Farscape
Luc Besson: The Transporter, Taken, La Femme Nikita and The Fifth Element
Wachowski brothers' Matrix trilogy
XBOX: HALO, BioShock, Call of Duty, Oblivion
Soundtrack: Linkin Park, Red Hot Chili Peppers, System of a Down, Lady Gaga
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