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“Blachart” tells the story of a former Space Fleet officer trying to make a living as a private loderunner owner and skipper. Mykl d’Angelo has fallen on hard times – and has just had the worst day of his life in that field. Due a minor misunderstanding, his crew has mutinied and left him and two others behind to crew the ailing loderunner Pegasus – which just happened to literally lose its stardrive in the middle of the middle of nowhere! His two remaining crewmen are killed in the explosion and Mykl d’Angelo is marooned. In the eternal silence of lonely space, he awaits rescue …but is he prepared for what follows?
“Blachart” is the first title in the Galaxii Series by Christina Engela.
- Published: Fifth Edition, May 10, 2018
- Words: 84,098 (Flowing Text eBook)
“Truthfully, d’Angelo found himself unsurprised that the engines had finally packed up. Weaver – like his predecessors – had been a kind of starship ‘backyard mechanic’ and at the time of the explosion, the stardrive was all but held together by bits of wire and duct tape. Weavers mistake cost him the stardrive – and Fuller and Jang their lives. ‘Blown up’ seemed a little inadequate to describe what really happened, but the engines were now spread over the last light-year or so behind him. Now that really made his calendar cycle.
Life hardly ever turns out the way we expect it to, and for Mykl d’Angelo it had just taken a bad turn for terrible. Stranded in deep space, he is handed a chance to redeem the other shipwrecks in his life – his lost career in the Imperial Space Fleet and a lost chance at a relationship with the girl of his dreams.
In order to pull this off, he must confront hordes of Corsairs, a crotchety starship captain, his former girlfriend and a particularly dangerous character called Blachart who will lead him behind enemy lines, where he will learn the meaning of trust – but very likely, never return.”
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“Blachart is the first title in the Galaxii Series, a saga set in a distant future decades after two great wars – a devastating world war, and the even more cataclysmic Gimp War – have changed the human equation forever. Refugees fleeing Earth in the turmoil at the dawn of the new age of interstellar travel settled on an uninhabited world, broken all ties with Earth, and while Earth went on in the interceding years to recover and build its own thriving colonies, these lost colonists decided that it was easier to take what they needed rather than to barter or to make it themselves… These lost cousins of Earth became so menacing a threat to Terran fringe colonies and trade routes, that Corsairs – the name they chose for themselves – had been hunted over several decades by the Terran Space Fleet – almost to no avail. For as long as the location of their home world remained a closely-guarded secret, the mighty Fleet could do almost nothing against it except to react feebly to seemingly random attacks too difficult to predict…
“Blachart” tells the story of a former Space Fleet officer trying to make a living as a private loderunner owner and skipper. Mykl d’Angelo has fallen on hard times – and has just had the worst day of his life in that field. Due a minor misunderstanding, his crew has mutinied and left him and two others behind to crew the ailing loderunner Pegasus – which just happened to literally lose its stardrive in the middle of the middle of nowhere! His two remaining crewmen are killed when the ship’s engine explode, and Mykl d’Angelo is marooned and awaits rescue in deep space.
In the meantime, a Terran starbase has fallen silent, and the only Space Fleet ship close enough to investigate is dispatched. I.S.S. Antares, fondly referred to by her crew as ‘the Ant-arse‘, is not exactly in tip-top condition! Having been in space dock for a refit which is not entirely complete, the Antares is suffering a variety of malfunctions and system failures as she speeds in haste to investigate the sudden silence of Starbase 91. On the way, she receives a distress call from a loderunner in trouble and diverts to intercept. On the bridge, Lieutenant Commander Ripley Jones – the Executive Officer to Captain Falconer, recognizes the name “Mykl d’Angelo”.
After d’Angelo is rescued, the Antares resumes course and finds that Starbase 91 has indeed been destroyed by Corsairs.
Meanwhile, Lt. Commander Jones and Mykl re-acquaint themselves, having known each other at the Academy years before, discussing their unpleasant history. Captain Falconer reinstates Mykl d’Angelo’s commission as a Commander in the Space Fleet and enlists him in an advisory capacity about Corsairs. Shortly after rescuing one lone survivor and putting the debris to their exhaust nacelles, Antares encounters a mysterious black ship – suspiciously like a typical Corsair raider – and fires a warning shot to get it to stop.
While leading a search party on board the mysterious ship, Captain Falconer, Commander d’Angelo and Lt. Commander Jones and a detail of security marines confront the skipper of the black ship, who it turns out is a Corsair and they have walked right into a trap!
In the ensuing fire-fight on the Corsair vessel, chaos erupts! Outnumbered and outgunned, the marines are quickly decimated and the survivors captured. Ripley escapes back to the Antares, while d’Angelo is captured by the Corsair captain known through myth and legend as the formidable “Blachart the Bloody”. Staging a daring escape, Mykl unleashes guerrilla warfare on Blachart’s Corsair crew and creates enough of a diversion for Ripley to return with reinforcements and take the ship.
The story is far from over by this point however, since on his return to Antares, bringing the sad news of the death of Captain Falconer, Commander d’Angelo is appointed by an Admiral of the Space Fleet as the new Captain! In a complete reversal of fortune, Mykl has gone from broken down space-bum to Captain of an imperial starship in only a matter of days! The fact that he now has a new chance at rekindling a romance with ‘the one that got away’ is an added bonus!
His appointment as Captain doesn’t come free however, and Captain d’Angelo’s first task is to lead a daring mission into Corsair space to discover their base world – and take a team of Terran operatives down for a reconnaissance run. His goal is to lead the Terran fleet right up to the Corsair’s front door – so that the Corsair menace can be ended once and for all!
The only obstacle is, to do this successfully, he needs the assistance of the man occupying a cell in the brig of the Antares, the lone Corsair survivor, Blachart the Bloody himself! Reluctantly, Mykl accepts that he has to convince Blachart to co-operate, which he eventually does – in exchange for a deal in which Blachart receives a full pardon IF he acts as a guide to Mykl and his team. In a curious set of circumstances, Mykl and his team of volunteers find themselves deep behind enemy lines on the Corsair planet called Meradinis – often called “Turtle Island”, facing a choice of whether or not to trust him – with all their lives hanging in the balance if they do not.
About The Galaxii Series
- Characters & Plot Devices
- From The Imperial Terran Archives
The History of “Blachart”
I’ve been writing stories basically since I could hold a wax crayon, and this book is in that respect a milestone for me. Why? Well, you may ask that question, but the answer isn’t a simple one.
I started working on the foundations of what would become this story when I started high school in 1986. Back then, it was called “The Red Star”, and it featured the some of the same characters, and the story plot was unrecognizable. By 1988, the basic plot had evolved into the story of a starship Captain rescued from being marooned in space, and the introduction of the formidable Corsairs – and a character then called Black Heart. By the time I’d finished high school in 1991, and been drafted into the army, in January 1992, I had a rough idea where I wanted the story to lead. But life was hectic, and tended to get in the way.
Eventually, in February 1998, I finished the last rough draft, then still in hand-written form! And then it lay fallow for some time longer, while a lot of other things unfolded in my personal life, in terms of gender identity, self-discovery, and career. In 2003 I finally typed and edited that draft on a PC, and launched into the modern way of writing novels. It was far easier and faster to type and edit on a PC than doing rewrites of my books by hand!
In 2005, after years of struggling to find a publisher to take on Blachart, I first self-published the book in its original, most basic form on Lulu.com, and then ran several updates over the intervening years in content and cover. In the meantime, I’d also published several of its sequels.
Above, the 2005 cover. Below, in 2007 I created new covers for the Galaxii Series in its entirety, including Blachart.
When I was picked up by a so-called ‘traditional publisher’ in 2014, Blachart was the first book they re-released with a new cover created by one of their staff. By the time it was released in 2014, Blachart was around 49,600 words long! Apparently that’s not very long by today’s standards, but to put it into perspective, most novels by the great Terry Pratchett are only around 50,000 words long – and I always felt that if it was good enough for him, it was good enough for me! That aside, if a story can be told well in whatever space of words, then that should be good enough too.
But as I do so often, I digress; Since 2016, when I went indie again, I’d been working on later books and new projects. Since finishing editing and publishing of most of my parent’s works in early 2018, I took a look at the channels through which my books have been distributed – and decided that I should also place my titles at Smashwords to gain access to their distribution network also.
Smashwords have different publishing formatting requirements to Lulu, and and so I discovered that I had to reformat the entire manuscript to meet their technical specifications! It looked daunting at first, but I’m a quick study and in the end it wasn’t as hard as I initially thought.
While I was at it (the most dangerous words known to humanity) I spotted a couple of editing errors left over from my “traditional” publishing days, and set off to check the whole manuscript for more. This sparked off another edit, and then I added a little bit here, and a little bit there… and before I realized it, a drastic complete rewrite was underway!
I evaluated each sentence. I added a stack of more material… back-stories and extras that would enrich and enhance the overall experience of what I had envisioned as the Galaxii Series! Two weeks later, the Smashwords Edition of Blachart was finished! Then I designed a fantastic new cover which would also form the basis of a template for the entire Galaxii Series. I also decided to include some illustrations in the book (ebook form) to make it more attractive. I’m pretty sure I succeeded!
Why are space Pirates so mean? Because they arrrrrrrrrr
“Blachart is the debut novel from Christina Engela and the first part of an ongoing series of intelligent and well constructed sci-fi adventures set in the not too distant future in a galaxy far, far away, but not that far.
d’Angelo is already having a very bad day when he is picked up by Imperial Starfleet. His crew are all dead and he has been left floating, stranded in deep space when Starfleet hear his distress call.
But his rescue does not come without a price…
Soon former Space Marine, d’Angelo, finds himself neck deep in space Pirates after being re-recruited by Starfleet to investigate a colony that has gone ‘dark’. Teamed up with his former lover and he infamous Blachart The Bloody, d’Angelo ends up going undercover on the Pirates own homeworld, but can he complete his mission and escape with his life, or is his day about to get even worse?
Blachart is a potential future, modern example of the classic sci-fi space opera genre that amuses and entertains from the minute you turn the first page. Having read many of the other books in the series already, it is great to start experiencing this series again from the beginning and I can only wish Christina every success, because with writing like this she really deserves it!
At times tense, at other times funny, Christina manages to maintain a healthy balance between humour and excitement – producing a first novel that is as easy to read as it is a joy to experience.
Truly this is one of the very best sci-fi novels that I have read all year!” – Mark Woods, author of “Time of Tides” and “Fear of the Dark”.
Awesome And Incredible Reads
“Both books [‘Blachart’ and ‘Demonspawn’ ] were awesome and incredible reads. I couldn’t put them down. They were fantastic and I was able to get vivid mental images of the scenes as I was reading them. That’s the sign of a great author. Congratulations Christina. Your writing truly ROCKS!” – Scott M. Darrah, April 10, 2016.
“Good read, very good story!! [Blachart] Definitely should give it a shot, you won’t be disappointed. Keeps you on the edge of your seat.” – Verified purchase, August 21, 2015.
“I loved this story! [Blachart] Christina writes well, with humour and vivid descriptions, and develops a plausible tale of futuristic adventures.” – J. Pietersen, June 16, 2015.
A Mind Blowing Sci-fi Novel
“Christina Engela’s debut novel, Blachart, is a fantastically written sci-fi novel filled with intrigue, suspense and nail biting action. From the first paragraph to the last, I was captivated by her ability to bring her characters to life. Blachart kept me on the edge of my seat! I highly recommend this read. You will not be disappointed!” – Stephanie Bothma, May 12, 2015.
“I love Christina’s novels. Blachart gets 5 stars from me.” – Dorian, March 21, 2015.
I Wasn’t A Fan, This Book Changed That
“I wasn’t a fan of the genre, this book [Blachart] changed that. Sci-fi gained a fan because of you!” – Anonymous, March 17, 2015.
Great Sci-fi From A Highly Under-Rated Author!
“A great read from start to finish! Blachart is another great sci-fi story from the transgender author Christina Engela and set in the same universe as her other books.
This time around the action focuses around Mykl D’Angelo, a Space trader having a VERY bad week! First, most of his crew abandon him during shore leave at his last destination, then his Engineer and Helmsman are both killed in a fatal accident when a couple of crossed wires during routine repairs cause a pulse-wave! Left drifting in space, his only hope of rescue comes when he receives communication from an Imperial Ship patrolling the area.
But when he boards the ship, he discovers that his week is only about to get worse! Communications have been lost from a local Starport and, with the strong suspicion that Corsairs are responsible, the ISS Antares has been dispatched to investigate! Not only that but a certain remember of the crew is someone he once cared about deeply and finds he has feelings for again!
When the Commander discovers Mykl is ex Space Fleet, Mykl is asked to re-enlist and help in the mission and when things go pear-shaped, it is Mykl who saves the day. This results in Mykl being asked to lead the team back on a suicide mission: namely to infiltrate the Corsair home-world, gather reconnaissance and prepare the way for a Space Fleet retaliation. This would be fine and all well and good but he is forced to bring the notorious Blachart The Bloody along with him; a former Corsair and the scourge of the known galaxy, can Blachart REALLY be trusted to do the right thing?
This is another great adventure from a little known writer who definitely deserves more recognition! Though The Time-Saving Agency may have felt a little flawed, Blachart is far more polished and a far more enjoyable romp! The humour from the previous book is still here in droves and yet the sci-fi itself is still dealt with maturely and responsibly. In fact, this has all the ingredients of a very clever Space epic that sows the seeds for many more tales to come. It is important to note that Blachart is set long before The Time-Saving Agency and features characters and events briefly mentioned at the beginning of that book but you don’t need to have read anything else by Christina to enjoy this!
In fact, if this is your first experience of Christina Engela my best advice would be to sit back and enjoy!
Summary: A Space Trader in trouble finds his life taking an unexpected turn…..” – Mark Woods, February 14, 2015.
A Wildly Funny Adventure
“A wildly funny adventure that leaves you simultaneously in tears and stitches. This is a bit blunt, but I swear I pissed myself laughing!” – Angie Pote.
1) “d’Angelo meets the ‘woman of his dreams’ is this character based only on the type of person d’Angelo would like or is it deeper? I’m always fascinated how characters are created. In my own characters I find pieces of me everywhere.” – Susan Simone, 20141107.
Hi Susan 🙂 Yes, you’re absolutely right, this is a pretty deep question, with a pretty deep answer.
I write from experience, which I’m sure most writers do as well. This is one of the first stories I started working on as a writer, beginning in the 1980’s when I was at high school. Of course the draft that became the version of Blachart that was just published (which first became recognizable as it is now, in 1998) is nothing at all like that first attempt all those years ago. The characters changed and evolved, their names changed, the situations morphed from child-like 2 dimensional representations into more realistic 3 and 4 dimensional experiences. As I grew and evolved, so did the way I told the story, and so did the way I felt about, interpreted or experienced the characters.
Mykl is a typical straight ‘good-guy’, who gets the girl and settles down and lives happily ever after… Although I wanted to be this, I never was, and so Mykl represents the ‘me’ that was and wanted to be, aspired to be – but never materialized. Mykl d’Angelo was essentially a character based on the person I was when I was in high school – and his lost love whom he rekindles a relationship with in the story, was based on a girl I knew at high school, who was a high school crush that went wrong. The experiences related in the story are not exactly what happened, but I think you will gather that 😉
To answer your original question, yes, Ripley is the girl I was attracted to at the time I originally wrote the story! She is driven, ambitious, efficient, a powerful woman – but in the beginning of their re-acquaintance, Mykl views her through the lens of his hurtful past experiences with her, focusing on her mannerisms, considering her a ‘teacher’s pet’ etc, and of course, reliving his own pain.
As time wore on, and my experiences in life, both good and bad, continued to shape and sculpt me into the person I became, my perception of self changed – and I began to more gradually resemble Blachart than d’Angelo as a personality. At the time I was also beginning to understand and to accept my sexuality and gender issues, and so in some ways the character of Blachart was the catalyst for me to express myself first in terms of a gay male, and then to understand that this did not quite suit who I was inside, and to embrace my transgender-ness. Essentially, Blachart represents the beginning of my life’s journey into the adult universe.
2) “The character called Blachart is a pirate – pirates aren’t supposed to be nice people, yet the book presents Blachart as a good guy, as though his past deeds don’t matter. Could you explain this?” – Anonymous, 20180616.
Hi there, yes I can. Yes, the Corsairs are really bad hombres and truly terrifying individuals, and the higher they rise in the Corsair ranks, the more formidable they have to be. This is true also in the case of Blachart ‘the Bloody’, who is somewhere in the region of ‘middle management’ in the Corsair scheme of things. As a ship’s captain in the Corsair’s Black Fleet, there isn’t much room to go higher, except in the sense of becoming a Commodore or Admiral, or perhaps by becoming a political figure – but at the time of the story, Blachart appears to have reached something of a plateau in his career, or at least might be experiencing some sort of mid-life or existential crisis.
Nobody is perfect, and my intention in turning Blachart from being just another intimidating and nasty Corsair figure and placing him into a leading role, was to demonstrate that. I opted to explore his character in the sense of the anti-hero… Yes, he’s been a naughty boy, but he has major regrets about how his life turned out – and in future, Blachart the ex-Corsair will be doing …better things.
Do you want to know more?