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Dawn's Early Light by Ken Barber


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the book reviews and author interview

Faced with mutiny and reports of an eminent civil war the men and women assigned to the USS Ronald Reagan and her escorts, shake off the yoke of a tyrannical President and take matters into their own hands. Leaving the Mediterranean Sea behind, they sail full speed right into enemy controlled waters.
 

Dawn's Early Light - Click the book link here to read it.

 

an extract

Sinclair pointed at another screen. “Are those Apaches engaging each other?” Three Apaches began firing on some of the other aircraft in the area.

Everyone watched as an Osprey maneuvered into position, then opened up on the front of the school, ripping through the concrete just as easily as the bullets ripped through the children who were still trying to protect their parents.

One of the Apaches was hit and lost control and slammed into the school.

Everyone stared in silence at the horrific scene.

Norris looked at another screen “What the fuck is that?”

 

reader comments

I just completed Dawn's Early Light -- what a story!  
That ending scene was a killer,...
These stories are just too good to wait for!

 

the book reviews

 

REVIEW by Mark
Dawn’s Early Light is a story in the Revolution Universe. If you are unfamiliar with the Revolution Universe, the underlying premise of all the stories is: What happens when the sitting United States President refuses to step down after someone else is elected? Who will stop him, and what lengths will he go to keep his power?

Civil war is brewing in the USA and an aircraft carrier group in the Mediterranean is faced with a huge decision. Which side to join? And what will they do after they decide? The world as they know it has now become one of unknowns, hazards, moral dilemmas and sacrifices. Join Captain Norris, Bucky and the rest of the men and women of the Ronald Reagan and its battle group as they make their way through the uncertainty of what lies ahead. 

The characters in this story are very well portrayed and real. The author does a great job in bringing you their emotions and thoughts as they are dealing with the unprecedented crisis. Their pain at lost comrades becomes yours and their little successes along the way make you want to join in rooting for them. The military aspect of the story is well handled and authentic and although a major part of the story, it does not bog the reader down nor bore. The author might think about a military glossary at the end for those unfamiliar to military acronyms however. The story grabs the reader from the start and does not let go. Personally, I came to care about these people and what happens to them, a sign the author can write and has the ability to grab a reader. 

Partway through the story, there is an aside ‘mini-story’. I highly recommend the reader does read this as some action takes place in it, which may leave a reader who did not read it, wondering where some characters and a plane came from, at the beginning of a later chapter. 

My only negative issue with the story is that I highly recommend the author have an editor or proof-reader look over the final draft of his stories. The editor would catch all the grammar and punctuation issues which distract. The story and reader would be better for it and a story of this quality deserves it. 

This is the first part in a series and it ends making the reader want to dive in immediately to the next section. No cliff hanging ending, just a satisfying lull in the action. If you want a well thought out, satisfying, roller coaster ride of a story, with men and women who face a situation they never imagined could happen and how they deal with it, look no further. Sit down, strap in and hang on! 

 

REVIEW by Adam.
Captain, later Admiral Norris is the epitome of the Annapolis A* graduate. A widower who has also tragically lost his only son, Ken Barber has built this central character of his Revolutions Universe book as a man torn between tradition and honour. A conscience rent twixt the Book of Admiralty Regulations telling him to sit and do nothing while Rome burns and tearing up the book. The trouble is the Rome Norris sees burning is his home!

Enter then a cast of fascinating characters. Among the most gripping are a gay Navy SEAL commander, his gay brigadier of Cavalry - after all no American adventure is complete without the cavalry coming to the rescue eh! - and a 12 year old gay genetically enhanced General. No please, that you'll have to read about. And it all works. The ships, the aeroplanes, the operations, the ....well I don't want to say everything was plausible, but it was great adventure.  And the central theme of evil president trying by every means possible to stay in power including the use of fake news has an interesting ring today. 

I love it that the author checks his facts. Too many writers today just write and don't bother to check on the veracity of what they say. So Ken obviously has spent much of his childhood on Disneyworld. He researched Bermuda. He knows about the workings of the Navy. Like most US people I know, he has an inordinate knowledge of firearms. 

The whole story is a wonderful adventure of Boys Own ilk. Norris is the John Wayne of the waves, a True Grit character, riding his fleet to save the women and kids from the bad gang. 

I only wish the story's flow hadn't been totally destroyed by "And Justice for All" when suddenly a giant aeroplane arrives from nowhere, new characters we've never heard of. What the hell was in the author's mind to allow this? Either negotiate to meld the two stories, or divide this story in two cleanly. But this? Nonsense. It is literary hara-kiri.

The Revolution's Universe is a family of stories I generally enjoy, not because I find the general premise plausible - that the American people, however politically naïve they may be and easily swayed by mass media, would actually sit still whilst such a scenario took place - but because of the stories such an idea engenders. I see strong characters like some of the UNIT, and some of the Geeks and Hugh and so many others. This is what Dawn's Early Light lacks so far. Ken has failed to light a fire inside any of the key characters which has warmed him enough so that if he died on the page I'd shed a tear. And that's the difference. In code, you'll understand if I say I did for A but not for B.
But A for Action and Potential. And A* for bringing gays in the US military to the fore.

 

the interview

Firstly, before I hit you with our questions, let me just say I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Let me also say that your book really presents a lot to get your teeth into and consequently the questions are rather drawn out. Well here we go!

I have to ask you this question, because the whole story is one hell of an action packed book with a rather unique plot revolving around an internal conflict in America, a disputed presidential election and all the consequences that follow. Then nearly at the end of the book, chapter twelve, you hit us with aliens from a parallel dimension. Why? It reminded me of a top US TV series from thirty years ago, Dallas. They had one of the lead characters knocked down and killed, then ran a whole season only to have his wife reveal at the end that everything was a dream. That show ran for another four seasons, but lost all credibility and never got back the top spot. So why aliens?

When “Dawns Early Light” was first brainstormed by the Revolutions Universe group the intention was to keep it separated from the rest of the books. Very quickly we realized that would not be possible and we had to find a way to integrate the Sci-Fi elements. We thought the best way to do that was to make it a shock factor. Bucky and Norris’s response was how I hope most readers responded, let me quote Bucky “What the fuck?”

The Revolutions Universe is a constantly changing fluid concept that we all try to keep up with. Sometimes this throws an author into an area or genre that is way out of the norm. It’s a constant challenge to make the different genres and writing styles work together. Do we always get it right? Hell no, but we are constantly learning and adapting ourselves and hopefully getting better and better. I love reading science fiction but hate writing it, trying to adapt a story that was based in a modern, realistic time frame to the science fiction elements of the Revolutions Universe was one of the most challenging things I have had to do as a writer and it actually made me take a step back for a few weeks. A quote from Roland "I think we broke Ken."


There are a good handful of major characters in this novel and lots of supporting secondary roles. I felt that we were following events through the eyes of Admiral Norris and Bucky. However, with so many characters it is at times difficult to keep track of everyone and what was happening. I was wondering how, when writing the story, you kept tabs on the characters and events. Did you draw up some sort of list or plan, or simply keep all the characters and plot in your head?

As far as the number of characters, we have only seen the tip of the iceberg. In an actual naval carrier group there are well over 5000 men and women. Add to that the us army groups we have absorbed along with the French and English forces and we are looking at force of over 50,000. Most of the senior elements in a military unit of that size have very specific, very precise jobs. So every time we run into a situation we have not encountered before there is some expert waiting in the wings for their moment in the spot light. I have taken some liberties with this and have had major characters assume some roles they would not have in the actual military but I try to keep this to minor things to keep the realism on point. One of the most common bits of positive feedback I get are. "This really nails life in the Military." That’s important to me. I try to use correct military terminology and equipment. Having spent 8 years in active duty military service I know how important accuracy is to a readers that may be Veterans or active duty military. Fun fact I spent 8 years as a US Army Reconnaissance specialist (Scout). I was not in the Navy so writing Navy stories takes a lot of research. And often times I have made the mistake of using Army language and terms instead of Navy and typically the Navy guys out there do not hesitate to point it out.

Is this difficult to manage and can it make it difficult to follow all the characters? The answer to that is yes and yes. Every character that is even mentioned is listed on a spread sheet with as much
information as possible. That spread sheet has hundreds of entries.

Just a side not the original intention when first dreaming up this story was that this would be Bucky’s story however The very first time Captain Norris entered the story he took command and the story took on a very different shape than originally intended. This required hours of re-planning with Roland and Al Norris. But all three of us loved the impact Aggy was making as a no frills, gruff, no nonsense character and took pleasure in reworking the whole concept.

 

Considering all the detail in this book, from the military stuff, through the many characters and mission events, each with their code names, you have to say that there was an awful lot going on. I had the impression that you started off with detailed events, then later sort of fast forwarded. So that in the latter half of the book it was no longer the tactical aspect, using the military jargon, but much more the strategic. We were there when the casualties from the mission to recover the original constitution document and other precious papers landed on the USS Ronald Regan, but we skipped the action. It did leave me with the feeling that there were some detailed bits missing, gaps you had decided to leave as we jumped rapidly forwards. Was this a conscious choice to progress the story quickly through events or did you perhaps decide that several battle scenes would be too much repetition, or was it because the missing bits get filled in by other books?

For the missing pieces in the story like the “monuments men mission” this entire mission was covered in detail in “New Beginnings”.  The details were left out of “Dawns Early Light” (DEL) to show that so much is happening in the Universe it can’t all be seen from one perspective. This happens periodically in a universe series. Its either that or the readers read the some plot line 10 times from 10 different perspectives. We have yet to figure out the best formula to fix this issue in Universe Stories. Some of these “plot holes” are intentional as a setup for a latter story line.


Chapter 14, the penultimate, brings us right back into the action, zooming in on local events and on Admiral Norris, Bucky and Adam. Previously and throughout the novel there is a very definite drawing of good guys versus bad guys. There is a lot of gung ho, and righteous indignation. We have the ‘top gun’ scene with the Admiral and Will in an F18, we have the Veterans' parade. It’s very entertaining, typically American, we all cheer for the heroes and because of that we know in the end they will win. Did you consider the other angle, the view from the opposite side, perhaps having things less clear cut, less black and white, and dare I say, closer to reality? Or was it always determined this would be a good triumphs over evil story?

Your last question was the most difficult. In my mind this was always a good triumphs evil story but as things have progressed the darkness that has encompassed the world has effected the characters as well. Some of them are starting to get tired and jaded. There are a few times that Norris or Bucky have to make Choices that deeply trouble them. This becomes more prevalent as the story continues. Keep in mind the story has to evolve with entire tone of the universe. One author in the collaboration can change the tone of all the stories. I think what you're you seeing is the constant flux of the different writing styles. I like to write action, the righteous indignation, heroes are the good guys and they smite the bad guys type of stuff. My favorite saying is I like to write ordinary people doing extraordinary things. How ever I have to change my tone, style and pace slightly to match the rest of the universe at times. The other side of the scale the bad guys if you will seeps through. The idea that some Ashwood supporters honestly thought this was better idea for the good of all. Blissfully unaware of the impact Ashwood could have on the entire planet. The story line will constantly sway back and forth from the Good triumphs over Evil to the side as more and more is discovered about the Advisories.

War is hell and things get muddy and confused. People get killed and hurt that is reality and this story was always so suppose to be based in reality and to show the true horrors of war. I think, I have a long way to go to accomplish that. The story will get darker before it gets lighter and big things are coming. I don’t want to give anything away but the whole concept of the story will change directions soon immersing the readers into the entire war in the US and beyond.

Thank you for those well thought out questions.

And thank you Ken for taking the time to talk to us about your book and the Revolutions Universe of which it is a part.

 

the extra

Thanks to Zach Caldwell here is a little tribute to Lance Corporal Dawson, Norris's Driver.

 

 

the discussion forum for more views and comments.

 

 

 

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Excellent review. I have enjoyed this on going story and still do. I think the reviews has captured the first book quite well. My hat off to Mark and Adam for a job well done in their reviews. I must add my thanks to Ken Barber for bringing us this wonderful story. Thank you all.

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  • Al Norris pinned this topic
  • 2 weeks later...

I was nervous about reading these reviews to be honest. As authors, we all say we want honest constructive feedback but can we really handle it. 

I will say, you definitely gave me some honest feedback and even though, at a couple points in the reviews I wanted to get defensive, I took a deep breath and reread them multiple times. 

Thank you for the reviews, for taking  your time to read the story and to provide such detailed feedback. Thank you for the moments you praise the stories and thank you for pointing out the areas I need to work on. I will honestly try to keep your concerns with the story in mind as it goes forward and can only hope it improves my writing. 

This is a great time to ask anyone out there if they have any questions about the choices I made, my process or issues with the story line to please share l, so I can see the story from different perspectives 

Thank you Mark, Adam and of course William. 

 

(Allen we might need to re-edit the early chapters) ?

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