March Madness Giveaway: The Winners

Okay, okay, I’m late in getting this off to the presses – don’t skewer me! I’ve at least got a good excuse, having been hard at work on Mistress Of The Ages (and no, before you ask, I don’t have a firm release date yet). But the contest winners are in for the March Madness Giveaway/First Contact fantasy casting call!

Before we get to the winners, let me first say thank you to everyone who participated. It was a lot of fun reading through the responses, and interesting to see the differences in how people perceive the characters. If the casting was to be by the number of mentions, Steven Yeun from The Walking Dead would have won by a landslide for the role of Ichiro Sato, with a close second for John Cho. Interestingly enough, Angelina Jolie got a lot of picks to play Tesh-Dar (having just watched Maleficent, I can see that). Did you hear that, Angelina?

That brings us to the fun part – the winners!

Oh, and by the way: I was hoping to just post some pics of the actors/actresses, but my laptop decided to go into rebellion. So I posted links to the various profiles on :-)

Runner Up #2: Eduardo C.

Crew of Aurora

Captain Owen McClaren: Harrison Ford
Ichiro Sato: Johnny Depp
Yao ming: Keanu Reeves
Jens Amundsen: Vin Diesel
Raisa Marisova: Milla Jovovich
Anna Zalenski: Jenifer Aniston
Brenda Harkness: Angelina Jolie
Gene Kilmer: Brad Pitt

Leading Kreelan Characters

Tesh-Dar: Meryl Streep
Li’ara Zhurah: Natalie Portman

Others cast as Kreelan warriors
Michelle Rodriguez
Megan Fox
Liv Tyler
Julia Roberts

Additional Human Characters

Stephanie Guillaume: Cameron Diaz
President McKenna: Halle Berry
Admiral Lefevre: Nicolas Cage
Admiral Tiernan: Morgan Freeman
Ambasador Laurent Navarre: Leonardo Di Caprio
Patty Coyle: Sandra Bullock
Emanuelle Sabourin: Lucy Liu
Col. James Sparks: Orlando Bloom
Col. Grishin: Matt Damon
Roland Mills: Owen Wilson
Amelia Cartwright: Reese Witherspoon

Runner Up #1: Rob

Rob sent me a big PDF file with his picks for actors to fill the roles, their photos, and even pics he found as ideas for what some of the vehicles and ships looked like!

Ichiro Sato: Shota Sometani
Stephanie Guillaume: Jennifer Lawrence
Tesh-Dar: Bingbing Fan
Colonel James Sparks: Sam Elliot [I have to say, nobody but Sam Elliot should be allowed to play the role of a cavalry commander after his performance in Gettysburg! – MRH]
Colonel Lev Grishin: Willem Defoe
Captain Owen McClaren: Mark Harmon
Master Chief Brenda Harkness: Ronda Rousey
Admiral Patrick Tiernan: J.K. Simmons
President Natalie McKenna: Angela Bassett
Secretary of State Hamilton Barca: Oliver Platt
Minister of Defense Joshua Sabine: Keith David
Staff Sergeant Patty Coyle: Moon Bloodgood
Cpl Manfred Holman: John Leguizamo
Sgt Yuri Kirov: Peter Stormare
Roland Mills: Jason Statham
Emmanuelle Sabourin: Seychelle Gabriel
General Jaswant Singh: Udo Kier
General Sharine Metz: Claudia Christian
Ambassador Laurent Navarre: Peter Jurasik
Admiral Lefevre: Jean Reno
Li’ara-Zhurah: Rinko Kikuchi
Gunny Pablo Ruiz: Dave Bautista

1st Prize: Wayde F.

I think Wayde must have gone through and picked out every character in the book. I had to go back and look some up just to make sure they were really in there! And not only did he choose a given actor/actress for each role (with only a few exceptions), he also chose alternates for some of them, which I’ve included in parentheses. Note, however, that I didn’t link to the alternates in IMDb – I have to get some writing done yet today. I particularly enjoyed one of his choices for Ichiro Sato: Wayde’s son!

So, congrats to Wayde, who walks away with the $50 prize. His picks are listed below. I pulled out some of the major characters and put them at the top. Now let the filming begin…

Midshipman Ichiro Sato: Daniel Henney (Aaron Yoo, John Cho, or – better yet – my son) [Kudos on that one! – MRH]
Tesh-Dar: Famke Janssen
Li’ara-Zhurah: Saffron Burrows
Stephanie Guillaume: Audrey Tautou (Chloe Grace Moretz)
Admiral Patrick Tiernan: Brendan Gleeson (Liam Cunningham, Kenneth Brannagh, Iain Glen)
Emmanuelle Sabourin : Parminder Nagra
Colonel James Sparks: Matthew McConaughey [Okay, I take back what I said about Sam Elliot. McConaughey would make an excellent cavalry officer, too! – MRH]
Staff Sgt Patty Coyle: Kate Hudson
1st Sgt Roland Mills. Jason Statham (Dan Bilzerian)
Gunnery Sgt Pablo Ruiz: Michael Peña
Capt Owen McClaren: Bruce Willis (Iain Glen, Michael Rooker)
President McKenna: Gina Torres

Lt Raisa Marisova: Natalie Zea (Rebecca Romjin, Katee Sackhoff)
Lt Jensen Amundsen: Michael Nyqvist (Stellan Skarsgard)
Lt Cdr Raj Kumar: Naveen Andrews
Ensign John Waverly: Dave Franco (Josh Peck, Jaden Smith, Logan Lerman)
Chief of Engineering Aubrey Hannan: Jason Isaacs
Master Chief Brenda Harkness: Gabrielle Reece (Tricia Helfer)
Midshipman Anna Zalenski: Oksana Okenshina (Olesya Rulin, Osalda Dychauk)
Petty Officer Yao Ming: Jet Li (Daniel Dae Kim)
Seaman 1st Class Gene Kilmer: Ray Stevenson (Dan Bilzerian)

Commander Pavel Sidorov: Sergei Bodrov
Captain Rhonda Burke: Gillian Anderson
Admiral Schiller: Arnold Vosloo
Vladimir Penkovsky: Terry O’Quinn (Aleksey Serebryakov)
Defense Minister Joshua Sabine: John Jackson (Michael Biehn)
Secretary of State Hamilton Barca: Duane Johnson [I’m assuming he meant Dwayne Johnson. The Rock goes diplomat! Yes! – MRH] (LL Cool J)
General Jaswant Singh: Akshay Kumar
General Sharine Metz: Eva Mendes (Catherine Bell)
Ambassador Faisul bin Sultan: Ben Kingsley (Yousuf Azami)
Dr Anton Novikov: Pasha Lychnikoff
Captain Leona Bennett: Patricia Clarkson
Dr Larsen: Joel Kinnaman
Vice-Admiral Mary “Bunny” Richards: Helen Mirren (Tilda Swinton, Rachel Weisz)
Ambassador Laurent Navarre: Jean Reno

Commander Scott Morrison: William Baldwin (Gregg Henry)
Lt Commander Vedette Pergolesi: Monica Belucci (Catherine Bell)
Ensign Kayla Watanabe: Grace Park (Maggie Q, Grace Huang)
Ensign Natalya Bogdanova: Karen David
Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephen Jaworsky: Wentworth Miller
Commodore Rafael Santiago: Raymond Cruz (Emilio Rivera)
Rai Tomonaga: Hiroyuki Sanada (Ken Watanabe, Masachi Odate)

Sgt Hadley: Eric Banna
Cpl Manfred Holman: Taylor Kitsch

Know Anybody In Hollywood?

Hey, if you’d like to see these books turned into movies (or a television series like Game of Thrones), let your favorite actors, directors, or producers know! Many voices are more effective than just one, as mine hasn’t gotten us anywhere. But maybe yours will… :-)

Posted in Blog, Contests

Sign Up For The March Madness Free Giveaway

3d-first-contact-150wIt’s been ages since I’ve held a free giveaway, so it’s past time to do another one and have a little fun! The prizes this time will be a $50 gift card to the book retailer of your choice (e.g., Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.) for first prize, and two $20 gift cards for the runners-up.

The only catch is that I won’t be posting the rules here on my site – I’m going to send them out this coming Saturday (7 March) to my mailing list subscribers, so if you’re not on the list already, sign up now so you can participate!

Just as a hint, you’ll need to have read First Contact, which is free as an ebook. If you haven’t read it yet, you can grab a copy from one of the retail sites, or if you join the mailing list now you’ll get a copy delivered right to your inbox about an hour after you sign up.

I plan on announcing the winners on 21 March. One of them could be you!

Posted in Blog

Farewell To Leonard Nimoy

Live long and prosper...

Live long and prosper…

Like so many others, I must sadly bid farewell to Leonard Nimoy, who passed away yesterday at the age of 83. His portrayal of Spock in the original Star Trek series left an indelible impression on me during my formative years. As one of my elementary school friends recently recalled, my main interests back in those early days were things military and Star Trek, and she was not far wrong. The timing of his death was something of an irony for me, as I had just started to go back through the original series only a week or so ago after not having watched them for many years.

As a boy, my head was filled with the universe of Star Trek and its characters, along with the historical events of the Apollo program and, later, the Space Shuttle. Sometimes I probably forgot which was which. When you’re a child gifted with an active imagination, it doesn’t really matter, I suppose. But back in those days, were I granted a single wish, it very likely would have been to be a member of the crew of the Enterprise. Had I been able to step through the barrier separating reality from imagination, I would not have hesitated.

Of all the characters, I identified most with Spock. While I wished that I was more like Kirk, the truth is that I was a hopeless nerd (something that hasn’t changed much). If you think about it, Leonard Nimoy’s Spock was a nerd, too. But he showed that nerds could be strong, compassionate, caring, and just. Spock was the perfect TV role model for kids like me, and Leonard Nimoy brought it off flawlessly. Now, I’m not going to say that I’m anything like Spock, or Leonard Nimoy for that matter. But he represented something worthy and noble to which kids like me might aspire.

Nimoy, of course, had talents that went far beyond his portrayal of Spock. I have to confess, however, that I didn’t really follow his career outside the narrow confines of Star Trek, and I suppose that his intensely strong typecasting as Spock might not have done his acting career any favors. Be that as it may, I’ve certainly enjoyed seeing him in other roles (notably as William Bell in the wonderful sci-fi series Fringe), and no one can deny that he was an immensely talented actor and creative mind.

But to me, the boy who sat glued to the tube every night waiting for Star Trek to come on, the boy who would later cast aside a secure government career to write science fiction stories, he has always been, and always shall be, Spock.

Posted in Blog

The Mars One Mission: Should We Go?

Mars OneThe other day some of my Twitter friends commented on how badly they were feeling about the people competing for acceptance by the Mars One Mission, which is a private venture that hopes to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars. The first launch is planned for 2024, and the venture announced that the 200,000-plus applicants had at last been whittled down to the final 100 selectees, who face a very rigorous process to identify the teams who will actually fly the missions. The kicker is that these missions will be one-way, and some (perhaps most) critics believe the crews will have a tragically short life-span once they reach their new home. Some seem to feel like this is a needless and hideously expensive tragedy in the making, while others — the applicants among them, of course — look at it as the opportunity of a lifetime. What say you?

My own take on it is that if I were about 25 years younger and unattached, I would have applied myself. I believe that Homo Sapiens is, at heart, an explorer, and the stars have beckoned us from day one. That’s not to say that there isn’t more to explore here on Mother Earth, but outer space has limitless possibilities if we can work our way through the technological challenges. We have proven we have the ability to get to the Moon, and I personally believe that we’ve had the technology to reach even farther for some years.

Unfortunately, once the Space Race was over, the world’s governments largely lost interest in manned space exploration. But with the emergence of (hopefully) viable commercial ventures like Mars One and others, we may very well be entering a Golden Age of space flight. But the exploration of space has its risks, as it always has. The Mars One crews may perish soon after landing, or they might not make it at all. But if we never pushed outward, never accepted risk, our ancient ancestors never would have left Africa to colonize the rest of the planet, to mention nothing of the many exploratory missions recorded in our more modern history.

But there’s another reason I believe that we need to leave our planetary cradle, one that’s far more imperative: the long-term survival of our species.  You can pick your doomsday scenario, or maybe we simply run out of resources on Earth, but the bottom line is that all of our eggs are in one planetary basket. It doesn’t matter if we screw up the Earth or something else does it: if our biosphere is badly damaged, we’re screwed. We need to start building a new nest, and I think the time is upon us.

Getting back to the Mars One adventurers, I’m very curious about how you view their circumstances. Are they to be pitied and mourned in advance? Are they heroic explorers? Or something else entirely. Let me know what you think!

Posted in Blog

A Little Snippet From MISTRESS OF THE AGES

Mistress Of The AgesI guess it’s time to start getting folks in the mood for MISTRESS OF THE AGES, the rough draft of which is roughly 2/3 done. And remember, the usual rules apply – the tidbits I’ll be posting are, as yet, raw and unedited…and chosen more or less at random.


“You presume too much, Syr-Nagath.”

She favored Ulan-Sulir, the high priest of the Nyur-A’il with a contemptuous look. She knew that he could easily kill her with the power of his mind, choking the life from her body with an act of whim. But he had dishonored himself when the Desh-Ka had arrived to rescue Keel-Tath. He should have challenged Ayan-Dar, but had backed down from the one-eyed priest in scarcely concealed fear. That he had remained here, rather than returning to his temple to consult with the elders of the order, told her that he was afraid to face them. Syr-Nagath knew the measure of Ulan-Sulir now, and found him lacking. He was perfect for her needs.

“You dislike my attire, Ulan-Sulir?” She said, turning in a full circle with the grace of a dancer. She still wore gleaming black ceremonial armor, just as would any warrior in garrison. But her breast plate now bore a cyan rune that had not been seen for millennia: that of the Ka’i-Nur priesthood, which had fallen from grace near the end of the Second Age. Her Collar of Honor bore an oval of living metal inscribed with the same rune, and a black robe with silver piping rippled from her back while she turned.

“You are no priestess!” Ulan-Sulir spat.

Syr-Nagath came to him, her mouth twisted in sudden rage. “Do you, high priest of the Nyur-Ai’l, for one moment doubt that I would be high priestess of the Ka’i-Nur if our Crystal of Souls had not been taken from us?”

Ulan-Sulir’s eyes narrowed. “It was never taken from you.”

“Do not bandy words with me, priest,” she snarled. “If what is yours is placed by another’s hands forever beyond your reach, it has been taken. I wear these adornments by right, and by right I should have the powers of the crystal of the Ka’i-Nur.”

“But you do not,” Ulan-Sulir said, his face twitching up into a thin smile, “and never will.”

“Do not be so sure,” she told him, her opinion of him falling even more. One such as Ayan-Dar would have had my head for speaking in such a fashion, she thought. She knew through Ka’i-Lohr that the old priest was dead, and the thought saddened her. She would have liked to watch him burn alive, turning on a spit over an open fire…

Posted in Blog

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