Steel Walls and Dirt Drops
Where the APES go to play

Alan Black – author, writer and publisher

Alan Black – author, writer and publisherAlan Black is a #1 bestselling author on Amazon and Kindle for Metal Boxes, a young adult, science fiction, military, action adventure. But don’t pigeon-hole him based on that. In his words, “My writing tastes are as eclectic as my reading preferences.”

I first ran on to Alan on Facebook with titles like “Granite Heart”, “Friendship Stone” and “Heaviest Rock.” There seemed to be a theme and they looked interesting, taking place in the 1920 Ozark Mountains with a wonderful sounding character, LillieBeth Hazkit. Then there was “Chewing Rocks”, “Metal Boxes” and “Steel Walls and Dirt Drops.” Other than the titles— rocks, steel, stone, granite, dirt—they were as different as night and day. I first tried “Chewing Rocks” and thoroughly enjoyed it. Check out my blog about that here… Chewing Rocks! What a Great Title. It was in this fun read that Alan Black introduced me to Chastity Snowden Whyte, captain and sole occupant of the asteroid mining ship, Sedona, and I was hooked.

So who is Alan Black? Like many of us in our later years, we claim more than one location. His is Kansas, Missouri and now, Arizona. Having recently moved from Arizona myself, I’m a bit disappointed at not getting the opportunity to meet Alan in person while I lived there. Black is a self-published multi-genre writer of eight novels. One of his writer friends called him ‘timeless’ because he wrote historical books, novels based in the present and tales of the future. His main goal is to write story driven novels with scifi elements that are more character and action driven than focused on science, story driven historicals that are not history lessons and entertainment based literary fiction.

Alan Black’s vision statement is, “I want my readers amazed they missed sleep because they could not put down one of my books. I want my readers amazed I made them laugh on one page and cry on the next. I want to give my readers a pleasurable respite from the cares of the world for a few hours. I want to offer stories I would want to read.”

He has certainly written stories that I want to read.

Here is my take on “Steel Walls and Dirt Drops”

Steel Walls and Dirt Drops by Alan BlackThird Level Commander Hamisha (Misha) Ann McPherson, a larger-than-life woman both physically and professionally, combat veteran and war hero to the nth degree, decorated to the highest level, is dropped onto Heaven’s Gate Space Station, AMSF Kiirkegaard, to take charge of an armored infantry fighting force, the 1392nd Allied Protective Expeditionary Services or better know as the APES. How hard can this be, she thinks, going from being one of many ground-pounders to leading a bunch of ground-pounders? Ground-pounders might not even be the right words for them. It’s more like planet-pounders or planetoid-pounders. In the world of APES they were called Dirt Droppers, because what they did was leave the safe confines of the space station’s steel walls and dirt drop onto planets and planetoids to battle the hated and dreaded non-human Binders. I could only envision each of the APE members strapped into a machine, a powerhouse of arsenal elements that could take down a Sherman Tank without batting an eyelash. Oh yes, and there are plenty of pretty eyelashes to go around. There is equal opportunity in the APES, packed with ass-kicking men and women, all of whom play as hard as they fight.

When Misha arrives on the scene, however, she finds instead of a well-oiled fighting machine, a bunch of slackers, petty criminals and losers, whose previous commander had mentally retired long before he actually left his command. She also finds that Lieutenant Colonel William Park Britaine, Commander of AMSF Kiirkegaard, wants her head; for what reason she has no idea. She could not imagine how she was going to make this armored infantry fighting force ready to go to battle against the Binders, and she hasn’t much time before they are to be deployed. Under Colonel Britaine, the sooner she could get her teams off the Kiirkegaard, the better. So she digs in and pulls all her second level commanders together to begin the process of whipping all eleven squads into battle-ready shape.

And that, she does, but not everything in life or in military goes as planned. The battle-ready APES do in fact go to battle, but with whom?

“Steel Walls and Dirt Drops” was truly a fun read. I look forward to wading into more of Alan Black’s stories.

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