Author: James Young
Narrator: Jennifer Jill Araya
Length: 16 hours and 21 minutes
Series: Vergassy Chronicles, Book 1
Publisher: James L. Young Jr.
Released: Aug. 27, 2018
Genre: Science Fiction; Space Opera
“[S]pace opera that plays out on a grand scale, and Young conduct[s] it with aplomb.”–Pop Cults, the website of Geek and Alternative Culture
For over seven hundred years, the Spartan Republic’s citizens have known one truth: Terra is coming. Descendants of exiles who dared to defy an emperor, the star nation’s 70 billion citizens spent the centuries training, arming…and waiting.
In 3035, Lt. Ian Campbell, Spartan Defense Forces (SDF), discovers a strange anomaly on his corvette’s sensors…and realizes the wait is over. The Spartans must convince the Terrans of the cost of subduing their nation. If they succeed, the Republic survives. If not, the SDF will be forced to paint the stars red with their enemies’ blood.
The Confederation of Man was born in the terror of the Harran Empire’s death throes. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, humanity now spreads from its cradle on Earth to hundreds of stars across the Milky Way, and seeks out new worlds to add.
Captain Marcy Cochran was hoping to find a habitable planet; she didn’t expect the system to already have hostile humans. Now a captive, Cochran must contend with a crew proving to be as dangerous as their enemies, and prevent what has started out as a misunderstanding from becoming a full-fledged interstellar war. For Terran law is quite clear: All humanity will answer to the Confederation. For the Spartans, that makes the government on Earth no different than the empire it supplanted…and they would rather die on their feet than subjugate themselves once more.
Aries’ Red Sky is the newest novel in James Young’s Vergassy Chronicles universe. A prequel to An Unproven Concept, it is the first in the Spartan Trilogy. If you like space opera with compelling characters, military sci-fi with high body counts, and capital ship battles on a galactic scale, pick up the the latest work in a series whose previous entry was recommended Amazing Stories, Pop Cults, and The Midwest Book Review.
James Young is a Missouri native who left small town life to attend a small, well-known Federal institution in upstate New York. After obtaining a degree in military history from West Point, Dr. Young spent six years repaying his education via military service in various locations (both foreign and domestic). Along the way he collected a loving, patient, and beautiful spouse (Anita C. Young)…and various animals that only fit those descriptions when it suited them.
Upon leaving the Army, James returned to the Midwest to obtain his Ph.D. in U.S. History from Kansas State. When not tormenting his characters, Dr. Young spends his spare time reading Anita’s first drafts, finishing that pesky dissertation, and trying to figure out how book eating shelter animals keep ending up in his office. Outside of Amazon, he can be found at conventions throughout the Midwest selling books and merchandise as James Young, Slinger of Tales.
In addition to his positive fiction reviews, Dr. Young is also the winner of the United States Naval Institute’s 2016 Cyberwar fare Essay Contest and runner up in the 2011 Adams Center Cold War Essay Contest. He has also had multiple articles published in Proceedings and the Journal of Military History since 2010.
Jennifer Jill Araya has been listening to audiobooks since she was a young child, and the fact that she now gets to narrate audiobooks for a living is a dream come true. Jennifer’s training as an opera singer and orchestral cellist lend a musicality and depth of understanding to her narration that help bring her authors’ stories to life. She loves nothing more than giving life and breath to the printed word.
When she’s not narrating, Jennifer can be found hiking, biking, running, or generally exploring her home city of Cincinnati with her husband Arturo (aka “Partner in Crime”) and their two children.
I have to say this a long audiobook, and at first you must concentrate to make sure you don’t get names and ships in a muddle. The human world as we know is now Known as The Confederation as we have planets in many systems.
We also have the Spartan Empire who left earth 700years before to escape a dictatorship called the Harran Empire, as they wanted to have religious freedoms. All this time they have been preparing for a war with the Terran Empire.
All this wonderful space opera is the good and the bad on both sides. How a like normal people and terrible war crimes committed by both sides. This is a long Audiobook, but you begin to know the characters involved, and you begin to root for them.
The narration is superb when you consider all the different voices. When I was listening, I was on the deck of a spaceship listening to what was going on. I was lucky as I was on many ships and planets. When I’m really in the action I don’t like to be pulled out of the action. That is the mark of great narrator, and this narrator really sent me on a wondrous journey
I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by James Young. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
Author James Young’s Top 10 Literary Inspirations
#1 Alas, Babylon
I read this book as a child and it’s always stuck with me. Frank does a very good job of dealing with disaster without sinking into the proverbial “grimdark” of later works.
#2 Dies the Fire
Another disaster book. This one really highlights S.M. Stirling’s writing style and his ability to make ordinary people into heroes. If I won the lottery and never had to work again in my life, this would be a series I would catch up on with my newfound spare time.
#3 Red Storm Rising
Another influence when I was young. I’ve always liked Clancy’s decision to go with the omniscient third person when necessary to convey the chaos that is unfolding across an entire engagement.
#4 Robotech Series
When I’m doing my elevator pitch for the Vergassy series, I tell people it’s like “Battlestar Galactica, Aliens, and Robotech thrown into a blender.” A small, niche fandom, the novelizations were written by multiple people under the pseudonym “Jack McKinney.” Regardless of who was doing things, this was a huge influence on me with regards to how I conceptualize space combat.
#5 The Big E
Although Barrett Tillman’s Enterprise takes advantage of a broader interview base on scholarship, this is a book that I consider the “gold standard” for recounting a vessel’s history. As with all my books, there are elements of it that interweave individual ship’s actions and discussion of their crews.
#6 The Girl With the Silver Eyes
I liked this one for the way that Willo Roberts got us into the character’s mind and motivation. A good example of an outsider feeling so different…then realizing it’s a big world out there and that means there’s lots of other folks like oneself.
#7 Bridge to Teribithia
This was one of the first books I remember ever making me cry. In that way, it taught me the proper method for conducting a character’s demise, i.e., it serves the plot and cuts the reader.
#8 The Impending Crisis, 1848-1861
A grim, somber walk through as to how the United States went from a nation with minor friction to folks actively shooting at one another in less than a decade. Does a very good job of showing how the majority of the country did not want a no kidding Civil War…yet the nation got one just the same. This helps to understand how people can so demonize and mischaracterize the other sides’ actions that it’s almost impossible to reconcile without a major defeat.
#9 This Kind of War
This book lays out the price of unpreparedness versus having a combat mindset. With regards to Aries’ Red Sky, I do model some of the Confederation Fleet’s unpreparedness off of the same issues the United States Army had in 1950. Preparedness is a mindset.
#10 Team Yankee
This is another “World War Three” novel. Unlike Red Storm Rising, it is very focused at the small unit level. I loved it in high school before I even left to join the Army. After I became an officer, I realized Harold Coyle really did have a good grip on small unit interactions and craziness.
Honorable Mention– When Worlds Collide / After Worlds Collide (Toss up so I just added both)
This is the go to book for “The world is ending.” While it’s somewhat dated (from the 1930s), it’s somewhat prescient in how it foresees the horrors that the “European fascists” are capable of. While it’s down the road, one of the prequel novellas for my series will have several homages to these two books.
Author James Young’s Playlist for Aries’ Red Sky
So I have different playlists for different needs. Aries’ Red Sky is a pretty gritty work, so my playlist for it was pretty dark. Without further ado:
This is basically a “Things are hopeless, we’re all about to die, but we want some company crossing the Styx”-song. In some ways, it sums up the Spartan Republic’s desire to die fighting rather than submit to expected tyranny.
I’m not afraid to let me geek flag fly, and Robotech is a guilty pleasure. I always thought the grimness of this song also applies to a sci-fi setting.
In addition to being a huge geek, I’m also a historian. The tempo and lyrics of this song just suit well to writing fight scenes, especially those involving boarding actions in space.
- “Hear Me Now”–Bad Wolves (feat. Diamante)
There are a couple of relationships that develop during Aries Red Sky. In addition to being another good tempo song, this one discusses two people who are gradually falling in love.
- “The World Is Not Enough”-Garbage
I’m not saying this is the Du family theme song…but I’m not saying it isn’t either.
- “Resurrection Hub”–Bear McCreary
This song will pretty much serve as a stand in for the numerous Battlestar Galactica original soundtrack recordings I listened to while crafting Aries’ Red Sky’s combat scenes. The reboot version of this series, as well as David Weber’s Honorverse, are two huge influence on how I envision space combat in most of my books.
- “I Am The Hammer.”–Eternal Champion
Written from the perspective of a leader whose land is being beset on all sides by enemies, this song has just the right mix of confidence, malice, and declared intent in its lyrics.
- “Angels of Death (Space Marine Theme)”–Doyle W. Donehoo
Although I’m more “familiar” with the 40k universe than a fan, this is a stirring song where one can imagine a sci-fi military parade passing in review.
- “No Leaf Clover”–Metallica
Another old standby that I’ve always said, “If I had to fly the trench run in Star Wars, this is the song I want playing over the speakers.”
- “Even In Death”–Evanescence
Without spoiling anything, there’s a lot of loss in Aries’ Red Sky. This song and what is says about mourning has always resonated with me since I first heard it back in ‘03.
“Light of the Seven”—331 Erock Metal Cover / Ramin Djawadi
“Rains of Castamere” Serj Tankian / Ramin Djawadi
For those occasions where I needed to capture the utter savagery and hopelessness of carnage being inflicted upon characters, these were two of my go to YouTube selections. Fans of Game of Thrones will understand the reasoning for this, and I think these two versions are especially compelling.
Star by Star–The Kovenant
In listening to the lyrics, I think the reasons for my listing this as a bonus song will become clear.
Prize: Print of “Death Comes to Bluewater”
➜Sign up as a host here