The Path to The Furnace by Timothy S. Johnston

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(Giveaway contest details below)

TSJ, 2013

Agatha Christie’s murder mysteries inspired me to write The Furnace. It may sound bizarre, but there’s something calmly comforting to me about a secluded and claustrophobic location, a small cast of characters complete with one investigator and one killer, a rising body count, extreme paranoia, and a setting that will surely kill if any one of the characters tries to leave. That being said, it wasn’t enough for me to just write a mystery of this type. Instead I wanted to transform it into “techno-thriller” status. That is to say, I wanted to incorporate a scientific plot line into the actual murder. It had to be something that the protagonist had to uncover and understand in order to solve the mystery. Michael Crichton is another inspiration for me, and so it could be said that The Furnace is “Agatha Christie meets Isaac Asimov with added Crichton for flavoring.” (In fact, that quote is from eBookanoid.com’s review. And yes, that was extremely gratifying for me to read—to know that someone got it.)

However, before I wrote the book, I had to decide on a location. I knew that, once I’d settled on the science behind the murder, the setting was key. It had to be hostile. Since the investigator was going to find himself behind the eight ball from the second he arrives at the station where the murder occurs, I wanted an environment that mirrored the mystery’s tension. There have been many settings used for books of this type—snow storms (The Mousetrap by Christie), small secluded islands (And Then There Were None by Christie) and a variety of remote places like cabins in the woods—but I wanted a unique and dangerous location appropriate for my techno-thriller.

I settled on the sun.

A space station in close orbit around the sun, to be precise.

The techno-thriller nature of the book allowed me to use a location like this. It’s a futuristic thriller, after all, and this opened up a myriad of options for me.

But why the sun?

I wanted the investigator, Kyle Tanner, to be on his heels and reeling from the hostile situation. He had to be the target of people’s scorn from the second he arrives. His very presence needed to cause friction among the station’s personnel, and I knew this would ramp up the page-turner aspect of the novel. Also, the heat of the sun increases the tension of the investigation. In a big way, this mission is a descent into hell.

The Furnace  is a murder mystery with a scientific plot element that the investigator must solve in order to survive. The environment created an intensely dangerous situation for the characters, and the paranoia as the story unfolds is palpable.

An Excerpt of The Furnace by Timothy S. Johnston:

“What are your procedures for a situation like this?” the Captain asked in a whisper.

“Truthfully? I’ve never been in one.”
“Never?” He was incredulous.
“Usually I chase a killer when they have a place to run. I’ve never backed one into a corner like this and not known who it is. Most often they make a mistake and I make a capture. In this situation, who knows what he’ll do? His behavior is escalating, there’s no doubt of that.”
“Why do you think he’s killing?”
I frowned. “I don’t think it’s random. There’s more going on here than three murders.”
A heartbeat, and then, “What do you mean?”
“I can’t tell you until I know everything. But there is definitely a reason for the killer’s method.”
He grew furious. “This is my station, Tanner. I demand to know —”
“I can’t tell you. It’s as simple as that.”
“Why? Because the Council sent you? Because you’re the best at this job?”
“Because frankly, Captain, you could be the killer.”
He looked down and saw my hand on my pistol. His jaw dropped. “You’re serious.”
“Absolutely.”

Thanks for joining me today to discuss this type of murder mystery. I’d like to leave you with a question: Why do you think these types of mysteries appeal to us? Why are we attracted to the murder of innocents and the resulting investigation (a “procedural”) to uncover the killer?

Thanks for spending your time with me today.

Timothy S. Johnston
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(Giveaway contest details below)

 

The Furnace by Timothy S. Johnston Back Cover Copy

Dead Space, 2401 AD

Kyle Tanner is about to die. Alone, floating in a vacsuit only a few million kilometers from a massive, uncaring sun, he has barely enough time or juice to get out a distress signal before either his oxygen runs out or he succumbs to the radiation.

When the CCF sent investigator Kyle Tanner to SOLEX One, a solar energy harvester past Mercury, he thought it would be an open-and-shut murder case. A crew member was found dead, minus his head and hands. Not the worst Tanner has ever seen, but the deeper he delves, the more nightmarish it becomes. A shadowy figure, bleeding from his hands, assaults Tanner in his quarters. Then two more turn up dead, missing their heads and hands as well.

With no one to trust and everyone a suspect—even the intriguing chief engineer, Shaheen—Tanner must navigate a crew on the brink of madness to uncover a conspiracy that could threaten the whole of the human race. Even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice…

 

Giveaway

I’m hosting a giveaway of The Furnace by Timothy S. Johnston during my blog afternoon on December 24! From 3:15 to 5:15 PM, email me at  tsj@timothysjohnston.com using “Carina Giveaway” as the subject heading.  Specify the format you’d prefer (.mobi or .epub). I’ll email the winner.

 

Timothy S. Johnston’s Bio

Timothy S. Johnston is a lifelong fan of techno-thrillers and science-fiction thrillers in both print and film. His greatest desire is to contribute to the genre which has given him so much over the past four decades. He lives on planet Earth, but he dreams of the stars.

Connect with Timothy on Twitter, Facebook, and his website (which includes reviews of The Furnace)!

Sci-fi is for women, too

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J. L. Hilton, circa 1978

I remember when the first episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” aired, and Patrick Stewart declared that the crew of the Enterprise would “boldly go where no ONE has gone before.” In the original Star Trek, they were only going where no MAN has gone before.

As a girl who grew up with Star Wars and Battlestar Gallactica toys instead of Barbies, that difference meant the universe to me. But guys didn’t get it. They would say, “When Captain Kirk said ‘man’ he meant the whole human race, OK?” OK. But with ST:TNG, I finally felt included in the ranks of sci-fi geekery.

Science fiction continues to be viewed by many as a man’s genre. Women, in their Federation-issue miniskirts and skinny cylon hotness, are just there as fanboy eye-candy. Did Han Solo ever end up in sexy slave garb? No, he did not.

It was important to me, when I wrote STELLARNET REBEL, that I created SF for everyone.

There’s technology, video games, lasers, aliens, fights and explosions. But the main character, Genevieve O’Riordan, is a woman. Not a man’s idea of a woman, like Robert Heinlein’s “Friday,” who felt just fine after being brutally raped and tortured. But an individual with realistic feelings, reactions and faults.

And Genny’s fellow heroes are not “typical” men—since they’re not men at all, they’re aliens. Duin and Belloc are Glin, a race in which the sexes are the same size and gender characteristics only appear after puberty. This not only shapes the dynamics of their culture, but affects how they relate to Genny throughout the novel.

My heroine is not just eye candy. Her genetic modifications might make her attractive by human standards. But that doesn’t mean much to aliens derisively called “frogs” because of their skin colors, large eyes and webbed fingers. It’s her personality, intelligence and loyalty that make her desirable. She’s no damsel in distress but saves her own butt and the butts of others—usually by some combination of wit, resourcefulness and courage, not just brute strength and a gun.

Who is your favorite SF heroine and why? Is SF still dominated by men, or is this changing? I’d love to hear your thoughts. One lucky commenter will receive promo items including your very own labradorite nagyx pendant on recycled sari silk cord—designed to look just like the “soul stone” necklace that plays an important role in STELLARNET REBEL—and a $10 gift certificate to ThinkGeek. Recipient will be announced in the comments on January 11.

***

Welcome to Asteria, a corporate-owned, deep-space colony populated with refugees, criminals and obsessive online gamers. Genny O’Riordan has shifted in from Earth determined to find a story that will break her blog into the Stellarnet Top 100, and even better—expose the degradation of the colony’s denizens.

Duin is an alien—a Glin—a hero of a past revolution against the Glin royal family, yet branded a terrorist. Duin speaks every day in the Asteria market, hoping to spur humans to aid his home world, which has been overtaken by the evil, buglike Tikati.

When Genny and Duin meet, what begins with a blog post becomes a dangerous web of passion and politics as they struggle to survive not only a war but the darker side of humanity…

Read an excerpt of STELLARNET REBEL or buy it now.

Follow Genny and Duin on Twitter. Belloc will join them at the appropriate point in their timeline.

Follow the author at JLHilton.com or Facebook, Twitter, deviantART, Goodreads and Google+.