First Chapter of PLANETARY PARLAY, whole and complete.

We’re a couple of weeks out from the release of Planetary Parlay, book 3 of the Iron Hammer series.

Once I’ve finished writing this post, I’m flipping over to Microsoft Word and breaking ground on Book 4 — Waxing War.  I’m trying to get ahead of the schedule, for now I have everything up on pre-order, I don’t have any wriggle room to shift release dates.

I’m sure that pleases you, if you’re a reader of the series, but it is a dollop of pressure on me!  Still, if I can get far enough ahead, that will reduce the pressure.   So I’m working extra hard at the moment, trying to put in big word count days.

But that also means I’m living and breathing Danny’s world nearly 24/7–for the entire series. It’s interesting being so deeply immersed.  It’s a bit like bingeing on a TV series that has multiple seasons.  I really do feel like I’m coming up for air, sometimes, and shaking myself off to join the real world.

And yeah, sometimes I rejoin reality with some reluctance. <g>

Today, as we’re two weeks out, I’m providing the first chapter of the book, whole and complete.




The ten-minute warning pulled me out of a sleep I wasn’t aware I’d fallen into. Or it might have been Dalton’s chest lurching out from beneath me as he shook himself awake. I heard a pad hit the floor as I propped myself up and tried to get my eyes to focus.

“Ten minutes before emergence,” the concierge panel repeated. “Ten minutes, everyone.” It wasn’t Lyssa’s voice. Lately, she had adopted an indeterminate gender voice for ship systems.

I hauled myself to the side of the bed with a groan. I was still dressed. So was Dalton. We’d propped ourselves up against the head of the bed to read, both convinced we’d never sleep.

Dalton rolled his eyes at me. “Don’t pretend you’re not excited.” He adjusted his clothes and ran his fingers through his hair.

“You couldn’t at least comb it?” I said.

“There’s time to get all formal,” Dalton said. “When we step off the Lythion onto Terra itself, I promise I’ll be cleaned up and slicked down.”

He had a point. I turned away from the concierge panel, where I’d called up a mirror, twisted up my hair into a knot on the back of my head, and secured it. Good enough for now. I wanted to get to the bridge.

“In a hurry, are we?” Dalton called after me as I strode to the door, which slid aside for me.

I threw him a dirty look. “You said not to pretend I’m not excited. I wanna see it.”

I let the door close behind me and headed toward the ramp up onto the bridge of the Lythion. I wasn’t the first heading in that direction, either.

We had a full ship—twenty people, not counting me or Lyssa. Lyssa didn’t need accommodations, and Dalton and I were sharing the same tiny room. So were Van Veen and Marlow and the other couples among us, but we were still squeezed for space. We were all bunched up in smaller than usual staterooms and I don’t think any of us bothered with tailoring them to an environment that suited us, despite the thirteen days the jump to Terra had lasted.

The common-area-surrounded-by-rooms plan that we had used for the raid upon Hegara had been modified. Six others were crossing the common area, which was still set up for tables and chairs, including Sauli and Marlow.

And Keskemeti.

I gritted my teeth when I saw his mousy features. I had been gritting my teeth for two weeks, every time I saw him on my ship.

But Terra beckoned. I turned and tramped up the ramp into the familiar bridge area and could feel something relax in my middle as I glanced at the banks of servers, the inertia shells and the dashboards in front of most of them. The dark metallic floor and the low ceiling.

It was ugly, but it was home.

Lyssa’s avatar stood by the captain’s shell as usual, staring ahead at nothing. The blinds were down over the observation windows, so we didn’t have to look at the nausea inducing purple and blue flashing of the interior of the wormhole.

More tramping on the ramp up to the bridge. I turned to face Sauli, Marlow and Keskemeti as I moved around my shell. “If you don’t have an official role on the bridge, you need to go away. We can’t afford to trip over tourists up here.”

Marlow tilted his head at me. “We want to see it, too, Danny.”

My gut crimped a little. Marlow had been stuck in an impossible position, between me and Jai. He had been incredibly patient with both of us, and there was no frustration in his voice now.

Even more people were streaming onto the bridge, now, and bunching up behind the front three. Dalton squeezed through and went over to the weapons dashboard.

“Three minutes,” Lyssa said, not looking behind her.

I looked at Marlow, but I was really speaking to Keskemeti, damn his weaselly sub-human hide. “Lyssa will put up a big screen in the common area. You can watch from there.”

“I want to see it with my own eyes, not on a screen,” Sauli said. “I can look at Terra on a screen any time I want.”

He had a point.

Vara and Hero pushed between people’s knees. I pointed to the bulkhead where the parawolves could park themselves and not be in the way.

Sauli gestured to the others. “By the wall. We won’t trip anyone up there. Come on.”

Vexed, I watched as everyone arranged themselves around the back walls of the bridge and along the sides. They squeezed in one by one. One of the last was Jai Van Veen, who didn’t look at me directly as he moved over to where Marlow was standing at the back. Juliyana beside Lyth.  Sauli with Kristiana. The shorter people, including the gorgeous Elizabeth Crnčević, stood in front of them. Gratia Rosalie, who was the tallest of any of us, stood beside Jai, her arms crossed.

I turned back to my shell, and saw Dalton was staring at me with his direct, motionless gaze which said he was silently warning me. I understood the stare this time. Let them watch.

I put my back to the inertia couch and took a deep breath.

“How long, Lyssa?” I asked, as the rest of the occupants on the Lythion, including three more parawolves, all eased onto the bridge, looking for a vantage point.

“Seventy-eight seconds.”

The tension on the bridge increased. The murmurs and whispers stopped.

“Sixty,” Lyssa said.

I couldn’t hear the parawolves panting, either. Just the odd clicking of the servers as Lyssa worked.


I sucked in a breath and turned my gaze to the shutters over the windows. “Drop the shutters the moment we emerge, Lyssa.”

“Of course.” Her tone wasn’t dry. She was too busy to ape human emotions right now.

“And…now,” she added.

There was a slight shudder as the crescent arms, which had spent all the time we were in the hole tucked beneath the ship, now swung up over the front. I saw the twin arms swipe across the windows from bottom to top, almost as though they were wiping away the wormhole.

Starfield took its place.

And there, hanging before us, almost perfectly framed by the observation window, was Terra. Blue and white, with touches of ochre, and wisps of cloud across the near circular face. We’d arrived on the noon side.

Off to one side was the much smaller moon.

I gazed at Terra as it turned, tracing the shapes of the continents and oceans with my gaze. Naming them—which I could do now after three months of orientation study more intense than any I’d ever gone through, including Ranger officer training. Austrealand was enjoying their summer right now and the blue ocean to the west of them was…yes, the Indigeny Sea.

Silence gripped the bridge as we all stared at Terra. Earth. We were the first Carinads to ever see the world from where all humanity had sprung.

“I dunno,” Eliot Byrne said, his tone judicious. “I think Hegara is prettier.”

“No, it isn’t,” I said quickly. Firmly.

“Nothing is prettier than that,” Marlee Colton added. “Not even…” She trailed off. “Wow,” she finally added.

Yep. I agreed one hundred percent.

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Into the Heartland of the Enemy

Danny and her allies risk traveling to the home world of the slavers, in an attempt to divert a war that experts all say is inevitable.   Danny is a reluctant participant, the only Carinad who thinks the diplomatic mission is a bad idea.  It puts her in direct opposition to Jai Van Veen, and threatens their decades long friendship.

Yet they must still work together to make the mission a success, even though it goes wrong right from the start…

Planetary Parlay is the third book in the Iron Hammer space opera science fiction series by award-winning SF author Cameron Cooper. The Iron Hammer series is a spin off from the acclaimed Imperial Hammer series, and features many of the characters and situations from that series.

The Iron Hammer series:
1.0: Galactic Thunder
2.0: Stellar Storm
3.0: Planetary Parlay
4.0: Waxing War
5.0: Ruled Out
6.0: Stranger Stars
7.0: Federal Force
8.0: Redline Rebels

Space Opera Science Fiction Novel

Don’t forget, if you pre-order the book direct from me (on the SRP site), then you get your copy a week earlier than everyone else.   That’s next Thursday, instead of two weeks from now.


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