#GuestPost by David Ellis Overttun, author of Universe : Awakening @neoverttun

Posted March 29, 2019 by Zoé in Guest Posts, Reviews and Stuff / 5 Comments

I am really excited today to have David on my blog! I have spoken to a little bit since he reached out to me to read his book Universe: Awakening and his wife Natasha is a fab lover of blogs too!

So what is his book about?

Universe: Awakening by D. Ellis Overttun
Series: Terra Nova #1
Published by Nialldara Books on October 7 2018
Pages: 472

The year — 526,780. A probe is deployed from ISV Intrepid at the outer edge of the universe. It is the last of a complement of twelve that is part of the Deep Exploration of Uncharted Space or DEUS. Its mission: collect data on the redshift of light and spatial distortions. Time horizon: 1,000 years.

Before ISV Intrepid can return to base, something goes wrong. There is an accident. The ship is later salvaged but its pilot is missing, its copilot in a coma.

The probes collect their data with uneventful regularity.

Fast-forward to 526,880. A sole-surviving probe still sits in the darkness at the outer edge of the universe. Now, unseen to the naked eye, the space around the probe begins to stretch and distend. Then, the probe disappears, engulfed by an energy of unknown origin and unknown composition. However, it manages to transmit one final message.

CD3C has monitored the disappearance of each probe over the last three years. While the interpretation of the data remains a mystery, speculation is that something has invaded the universe and is moving a superluminal velocity. Its effects could be manifested in as little as the next thousand years. To the Celesti, this is one lifetime.

What can be done?

The one person who might be able to solve this problem is the copilot of ISV Intrepid. He has been lying in stasis suffering from mental trauma. He has been this way for the past century, the longest recorded case in medical history. His unchanging condition has been a convenient solution to stall any inquiry into the accident that put him there.
This threat changes everything. Now, he is needed.

Is it possible to unlock his mind?

The task falls to Auberon, a career nobody inhabiting the lower level of the hierarchy of the Ministry of Science. Can something be awakened in him to allow someone ordinary do something extraordinary?

Universe: Awakening answers this question. In the process, it explores the world of the Celesti, a highly evolved humanoid species with advanced technology, physiology and a unique way of procreation. It blends science and political intrigue to reveal the interplay of storyline and character development that forms the staging ground for the Terra Nova Series.

So not going to lie, Sci-Fi is not my bag really. But once I had read the blurb, walked away and came back, I could not bring myself to say no. There was something about this book that had me thinking. So without further ado, I will now hand everything over to David!

Guest Post

Background to Universe: Awakening

If I had to describe the Terra Nova series in one sentence, it would be: The Bible meets sci-fi. Marvel did it with a Norse god and DC did it with a woman from a tribe of warrior women from Greek mythology. So, why not take elements of stories from the Bible and incorporate them into a sci-fi tale? There is the obvious etymology of the names of some of the main characters (eg. Jo’el means “Yahweh is God”, Mica’el means “God is my hero”). But in addition, Universe borrows specific threads from the Old Testament, for example: the Garden of Eden, Cain and Abel, the Tower of Babel, a divine council and visions. What has been woven into the story has also been taken from biblical scholarship, specifically research done by University of Exeter’s Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou and lectures given by Yale’s Professor Christine Hayes.

The main theme of Universe is, well, the universe. Specifically, the fate of the universe. Today, we know that spacetime is expanding because of the redshift of light. Conventional wisdom says there are 3 possible endgames: big freeze, big rip or big crunch. They all assume there is nothing external to our universe that could affect these outcomes. (Why would they?) The Terra Nova series asks the question: What if there was something pushing back? It is similar to a boiling pot of water. There are bubbles (i.e. universes) pushing outward but the water must exert some kind of inward force. Hence, a fourth possibility: big implosion.

Perspective is a second major theme. How do we respond today to something consequential tomorrow? My anecdotal observations are that people tend to be tactical not strategic. They can take unprecedented action when there is no alternative but they won’t do something now that is much less unpleasant to avoid having to do that very unpleasant thing in the future. It is the Scarlet O’Hara syndrome: I’ll think about it tomorrow.

A third major theme is mystery and discovery. I suppose it is common to all novels. Without it, there would be no story to tell. However, much of the search for the truth in the storyline has a CSI flavor to it with computers doing much of the legwork. It has a visual quality inspired by the crime scene reconstruction in Ironman 3.

There is no science fiction without science and these threads have been drawn from a very diverse quilt. The prologue was inspired by a 2007 episode of the History Channel series The Universe entitled “The Moon” that described the research on tides done by George Darwin, son of Charles. He used his observations to wind back the clock but, at some point, he had to stop because the denominator in his equations was approaching zero. I used it to ask a question: What is the implication of dividing something by zero? What does it really mean? It is the mathematical fact that prevents us from knowing what happened at the instant of the big bang and before. It is the starting point for my speculation of how the universe was created.

The impact of evolution in the story reflects a current trend in developed nations: Women are having children later in life. Universe extrapolates this trend to the extreme. Later and later childbirth implies that physical relations are for pleasure not procreation. What if they separated? What would this possibility look like? The answer: awakening, a departure from physical sexual reproduction.

So, it is obvious why “awakening” appears in the title. However, it also describes more than just a procreative process. It is a rousing or revival in a metaphoric sense. Characters such as: Auberon, Alondra and Sofia exceed what could ever be expected of them. Love is also something that can be awakened as can the “better angels of our nature” to quote Abraham Lincoln.

Artificial gravity makes stories about space-travel so incredulous. While it is sci-fi, this premise has always bugged me because the generational effects of a weightless environment will essentially turn us into a different species. Universe operates in a zeroG environment in outer space. It is an interesting detail that creates the butterfly effect of the series. The absence of artificial gravity precludes manned space missions and results in intelligent probes in space exploration that is the precursor to the DEUS program. An accident during a DEUS mission is the only reason we have a story.

Relationships form the backbone of Universe. While the bonds of friendship and family are explored, the focus is on a relationship between two of the main characters: Auberon and Natasha. Both are Celesti. He is the metaphorical salaryman, buried deep within the hierarchy. She is a highranking government official. They meet in an unlikely confluence of events. For some unknown reason, he is drawn to her. Feelings are frowned upon and there is a great divide between them. Yet he pursues her. How does this play out?

Another relationship that is only briefly touched upon is a forbidden one between the First Minister and one of her subordinates. Why is it forbidden? Are there consequences to being discovered?

A natural question for the reader to ask is: Are there intimate personal relationships between Celesti and Gendu? The answer is: Yes. What does this look like?

Current events filter into the story. One of the main characters gets into trouble when he inadvertently triggers a security alert. What is, is not or could be classified was inspired by the discussion that revolved around the Hilary Clinton email scandal of what was and what was not classified. The storyline surrounding surveillance was inspired by the Mueller Russia Investigation.

The Celesti are a society of logic and reason. How does that affect someone whose mental faculties are impaired? This speaks to the issue of mental health and pertains to the ongoing discussion in our own society from stigma, isolation and embarrassment to support, understanding and compassion.

LGBTQ has been on its long journey toward universal equality. Universe describes a world where there are no prejudices based on sexual preference. No advocacy is required because it is something that is taken for granted, the true metric of acceptance. Also taken for granted is gender equality reflected in the prominence of strong female characters in positions of power.

However, racial inequality exists. Celesti comprise 10% of the population but govern a servile Gendu. They are two different hominoid species. While Gendu are more genetically like us, Celesti have a lifespan of a 1,000 years and have limited genetic memory, the ability to recall memories of their ancestors. While there is no apartheid per se, Celesti have disproportionate control and access to resources. This causes tension which is an everpresent backdrop to the story.

Names of people and places and various words specific to the story have been chosen to give the story an otherworld feel, almost Terran but not quite. To be chosen, it has to roll off the tongue and sound cool. Names have been chosen from all over the world from across time. The same goes for words that are part of the lexicon of the planet.

Almost every number in the series has some connection to numerology. There are numbers in the 1 to 12 range that many will know. But there are obscure numbers like 18, the numeric value of the Hebrew word “chai” meaning “living”, 70 for the Septuagint or 3068 related to “Yhvh” from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.

The cover ties in two of the science themes in the book. It is meant to give the reader a sense that awakening has something to do with genetics since the double helix is easily identifiable as DNA. The woman seeming to emerge from the strand in a burst of light is a visual rendering of awakening. The sphere in the background is not a planet. It is a universe surrounded by what the reader will discover is the volume. The green patches represent the encroachment of an alien energy known as the “ether” foretelling the end of existence.

Wow!! That was intense and insightful thank you David!

If you want to also check out some other posts he has done a Q&A with Lorna @ On The Shelf Reviews, a Q&A @ The Bookhole, and recently he did a guest post which was #MusicMonday on Kelly’s blog @ From Belgium with Book Love.

And keeping with the music theme before I leave you today! It is a short excerpt from the book with a bit of background to it! Enjoy!

Here’s the set‑up to the song. Some of the main characters have just assisted in the passing of one of the main political leaders on the planet. They make their way to a balcony in the predawn to see what looks like a comet, known as a “wanderer”, that has just emerged in the eastern sky. As they observe the phenomenon that is said to be a harbinger of either hope or danger, one of the group begins to sing.

While not a lament, there is a certain sadness to it. It speaks to weariness and a desire for rest, a sentiment I’ve heard echoed at the passing of someone who has lived a long full life. The acapella was inspired by Enya’s “May It Be” from Lord of the Rings. (For me, acapella equals Enya.) While the chapter is not a cliffhanger, it is the stepping stone to the next book in the series, Genesis: Vision of the New World, in which this “comet” features prominently.

When the dawn comes, I wake to the day
The same old world, the same old way
It’s only at night when I look to the sky
And if I am lucky, I see you go by

Wanderer, wanderer come rescue me
Break the bonds of this world please set me free
Wanderer, wanderer bright light of the night
Infinity calls you’re a beautiful sight

Every day as I race the sun
So little time, so much to get done
Sometimes before sleep, in the dark of the night
I look to the stars and dream of respite

Wanderer, wanderer come rescue me
Break the bonds of this world please set me free
Wanderer, wanderer bright light of the night
Infinity calls you’re a beautiful sight

As the time draws near for my journey to end
I think of days past and I think once again
To the days of my youth and I ask myself why
Why it took me so long to look to the sky

Wanderer, wanderer come rescue me
Break the bonds of this world please set me free
Wanderer, wanderer bright light of the night
Infinity calls you’re a beautiful sight

Until next time xxx

About D. Ellis Overttun

I grew up in a town in the Midwest, my mother was a bookkeeper for a small HVAC company and my father was a draftsman. At university, I studied chemistry. However, when I graduated, I did not (or could not) pursue that vocation because I was terrible in the lab.

I have been a storyteller ever since I can remember. It started as a way to get out of trouble and evolved as a way to entertain those around me. My first recollection of writing prose was in elementary school when I had to write a short essay about a picture from a magazine. (Mine was a freshly baked loaf of bread.) In grade 7, I penned two short stories for a school writing competition. One was entitled “My Funny Cousin”, a descriptive piece about a relative (a little older than me) who stayed with us one summer. My mother very quickly killed that story. At the time, it didn’t make sense to me because she told me she thought it was very funny. It was only later that I figured out that I could have replaced “Funny” with “Flamboyant” in the title. So, it was back to the drawing board. My second attempt was a collection of anecdotes about the life of my maternal grandfather titled “The Hilarious Things My Grandfather Did”. That one went on to win.

My first complete novel was a story about a soldier of fortune in the age of horse and bow. At the time, I had contact with people in the entertainment business in California. The feedback I got was that I should take one of the chapters and expand it into a novel. That made no sense to me. What the heck did that mean? How could you expand something so small into something big? So, I never pursued it. However, the comment stuck with me. It was only much later that I figured out that it meant that I should never rush the telling of a story.

This brings us to the present and the Terra Nova Series. (Book 2 has just been published and Book 3 is in progress.) I write for an audience of one: my wife. She loves the stories

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