The Handler's Gambit

One man stands between a madman and a galactic apocalypse.

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Reviews of The Handler's Gambit
Original Version and ARC Reviews

"Totally unique in so many ways."

"I found this book hard to put down. (much to my wife's chagrin)" 

"Good action adventure in space."

"Immersive universe with rich characters and deep twisting plot to keep you reading more. An excellent read for all fans of the genre."

"The writing strikes a perfect balance between eloquently descriptive and forward-moving plot twists. The characters...expand and grow as the novel unfolds." 

"The storyline flows so well, and you're so wrapped up in Elyon and what she'll do next that it's hard to put the book down."


Boone's theme song:
"Castle of Glass"
Linkin Park

Elyon's theme song:
"Given Up"
Linkin Park

Spotify Playlist
Coming Soon

A Little Background

Diversity in the Future

The truth is, thousands of years from now, diversity will look a lot different. Cosmic, solar, and other forms of radiation will change our genes, and the interracial relationships of today will lead to many blended forms of humans in the future. Elyon's genes, after thousands of years of her ancestors living on a planet bombarded by radiation from a red giant star, have turned her skin and eyes into pale pigment hues of blue. I never actually describe Boone other than having brown hair and brown eyes -- he could technically be descended from any race or mix thereof.

I believe in the future, what we stress over "race" today will be long gone. The histories that made our current society will be long gone, replaced by many new atrocities, cultures, and disenfranchisements. In Elyon's world, the Saxen are the pariahs. As it is, I have many characters of many colors, with rich back stories that inform their characters. We can all relate to one or more of them in one way or another.

As for LGBTQ+, being queer myself, I did not really bring any sex or romance into this first novel. I wanted it to be about the bond of friendship and trust that two people share who have never been loved (especially Boone, as we learn in the second novel). In the sequels, I explore more depth in these relationships, including a nonbinary person and, as the characters mature, an extension into sexuality. Love is love, and that's all I want my future to hold.

Adult or Young Adult?

This has been a very curious question for me. I think it's adult SF. But someone else might think it's YA.

It is clearly space opera, but also military fiction, adventure, action, and all that jazz. I know what my book is, but I don't know why it has to be categorized into an audience age group just because my characters are young. There is a lot of graphic violence, but Hunger Games also has graphic violence and is YA. 

If Boone and Elyon are in their late teens, does that make this a YA novel? If there are no other young people, no peers, no schools, no coming-of-age-as-we-know-it?  Do they explore themes of family, found family, becoming adults, finding independence? There is a lot of death, abandonment, torture, anger, regret, remorse, and grief. This book is not about religion, politics, race, economics and sexuality. Maybe race and politics, but not in the way we know them.

"YA books typically explore a character’s introduction and integration into an unfamiliar world, focusing on the protagonist’s experiences and self-reflection as they come to find their place within it." ( Elyon falls into this category, perhaps -- so a YA reader might well relate to her as a protagonist, even if the main character is Boone, who is well situated (if unhappy) in his world already. If Star Wars: A New Hope had been a novel, it would probably be considered YA by this definition.

I'm sure an editor or publisher will decide. I still think it's adult, but teens can read adult books, too, and vice versa.

Reader's Reviews

A little encouragement...

Beta Readers said the following:

While I'm too humble to say I live up to these reviews, they are certainly very encouraging and after 12 years I finally wrote the sequel and went back and updated the original.

The Saga - Is a Sequel Coming?

The Handler's Gambit, is the first book in a planned series, The Saxen Saga. 

The second book, The World Breaker(wt) is completed but in draft mode at 88,000 words, which means I have a lot to fix, edit, add, and cut.  I have a concept and plot for the third novel captured, and the idea for a fourth. And there are at least two books about early Boone and early Elyon. (These might qualify as YA. Never mind, Elyon's early life is way too traumatic.)

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