The View at World's End . . .

For as long as I’ve been working on The Merlin Protocol I’ve used 2- and 3D tools to visualize my main characters and key locations. Viewing the pics as publicity stills from a soon-to-be major motion picture or a hit HBO serieseven mad dreams are worth encouragingI get as close to photorealism as I can. It’s getting easier. Apps like Poser, Bryce, and Vue lower the barriers to high-end imagery. And even greater refinements are possible, with a little expertise and powerful programs like ZBrush (modeling) and Photoshop (composition).

This page contains some of the images that inform my writing. I’ll add new ones on a semi-regular basis, and I hope you’ll stop by often to have a look. To find out when I post changes, use the buttons at the top-right to like or follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Darkshire Tower

Two years after Armageddon, Danyal Osadebe and his followers displaced the inhabitants of Durring Castle—swiftly, violently, but not without mercy.

To create a defensible, race-based enclave in New Britain, they painted it black, rebranded it Darkshire Tower, and vowed to defend it against the madness of white devils and anyone else who might test their resolve.

For a dozen years, they have made good on that pledge, but Lord Danyal knows there is a change in the wind.

Merlin at Land's End

The former Steven Rayne is standing on the spot where he attempted suicide 13 years ago—only days after Armageddon claimed his wife, Beth, and their unborn child. A machine named Chester saved his life if not his sanity.

Following a mad, decade-long hermitage, in a fabulous underwater Sanctuary, Steven has emerged, changed in more ways than one. The most obvious: Hes taken the name Merlinthe most famous mage in Western culture. (That alone might suggest his mental state is not much improved.)

Madness aside, it becomes clear that Merlin is more than a brash nom de guerre. It’s his destiny. The psi-crystal flute is his interface to a tech suite of astonishing power and versatility, and he wields it like a modern magic wand. More than a satellite link, more than a portable light show, the device can tap into top-secret energy reservoirs to become a devastating weapon; he wars with himself over its use.

Of course, the flute plays music, toosome of it quite literally incredibleespecially the mysterious Timesongs. But to get fractious Brit survivors to accept a Yankee Merlin will take every bit of magic at his command.
Falmouth Castle: Before

For 700 years the “Bulldog of the Coast” had welcomed Britains friends and repulsed its enemies, safeguarding in turn kingdom, nation, empire, and republic.

As a post-apocalyptic private residence, reinforced with poly-ceramic armor, it was all but impregnable.

But in December 2041, the castles long vigil was ended in a matter of hours. What power brought Falmouths glorious history to such an ignominious end?

Falmouth Castle: After

Attackers unknown, wielding weapons of enormous power, torched mighty Falmouthbathing it with energies so intense armor-clad walls exploded from within, like lightning-struck trees. Everyone and everything inside was consumed in the resulting firestorms.

As A Darkness Past Midnight opens, Merlin is combing through the smoking ruins, hoping to discover who and what caused such devastation. The attack claimed the lives of what may have been his last friends in the world, so theres a personal urgency to his investigations.
ARV-10 Warcycle

With electric motors front and rear, an ARV can go from 0-60 in under two seconds, and reach top speeds in excess of 180 mph. When it gets where it’s going, roof-mounted, twin-20 mm cannons make it a real handful.

Variable geometry wheels and a long-travel, active suspension enable the half-ton vehicle to climb hills and clear obstacles like a mountain goat, traversing a range of terrain types that would thwart lesser machines. Nicknamed the Landshark, the single-seat, highly mobile weapons platform is a perfect fit for your “army of one.”

Warcycle at Play

Warcycles are designed for modern battlefields, but there are sporting uses. The joustical course is one of many events at the “Kills”—seasonal, hybrid monster-truck rallies/wars-in-a-box that exploded in popularity after the Apocalypse. Riders careen around stadiums and arenas, hurling, among other things, bolts of energy that can fry an ARV’s electronics (and frequently its pilot).

Agile to an absurd degree, a Warcycle punishes its rider with every inertial vector change—this, despite the fact that jockeys are strapped into shock-absorbing seats, and wearing armored G-suits, like the fighter pilots of an earlier time. Getting the most out of the high-powered vehicles demands operators be athletes and warriors—daring, skilled, fit.

The sport’s foremost practitioner is pictured at right: Peter “The Great” Faini has turned nonpareil talents and hard-won battlefield acclaim into a lucrative career on the tournament circuit. At the upcoming Winterkill, he’ll be riding for Lord J-F Estrambot, and leading a local mercenary squadron in the tourney-ending melee.

Winter Solstice 2041

Many of New Britain’s thousand-plus Directors will assemble at the great ring of Stonehenge on December 21st. Another 100,000 or so spectators will be there to witness firsthand the farcical theater of governance. The millions who can’t attend will watch live-streaming coverage. One way or another, all eyes will be on Giant’s Dance.

Merlin wants to choose a new king by staging the iconic ritual of choice: the sword in the stone. If his plan succeeds, he may yet keep Lord Gore from seizing the throne, at least for another year. If it fails, he and his would-be Arthur will be dead for much longer than that.
Frederick George Gorham (aka Lord Gore)

Notwithstanding the angry-man visage currently resident, witnesses swear they’ve seen in Lord Gore’s helmet a face that was anything but human. (Given the Director’s reputation for brutality, not an easily dismissed claim.) 

Apocryphal accounts report a monstrous wolf- or bear-like creature behind the faceplate—a thing with blazing eyes and slavering jaws! A face so terrifying, even a glimpse could stop a strong man’s heart. (So, apocryphal because the witnesses lived to tell about it or because they were women?)

None knew whether they were holographic special effects or bizarre manifestations of unspeakable paranormal realities. One thing was certain: the young lieutenant would shed no light on the matter. Locked at attention, he was too terrified to hazard a peek at his lord’s face, whatever it might be. All things considered, probably a smart move. (No wonder they assigned him to Comm Section!)

Glastonbury Tor  (aka Castle Gore)

History records that in August 2029, backed by a large mercenary army, Frederick George Gorham seized the entirety of Glastonbury Tor. Encircling it with metal-ceramic walls, he defended it—in court, against the Chalice Well Trust, and on actual battlefields, against a progression of local constabulary and national military units.

In December of that same year, the End of the World settled the contest, leaving Gorham in complete control. Ever since, for reasons known only to him, he has been excavating locations throughout the area. What is he looking for?

Jennifer Niles Morgan

Any Merlin worth his magic wand needs an intellectual and philosophical adversary: a Morgan le Fey. But this Morgan is too much like her namesake for anyones comfort. Using the villainous Lord Gore as an ally of convenience, she’s making plans for the throne that don’t include Arthur, Merlin, or Gorham. (Or, for that matter, any male.)

Her domain is headquartered in a kitschy former tourist trap called the Camelot Hotel. Completing an unlikely trifecta, Lady Morgan’s also rumored to be a sorceress, able to summon demons to do her bidding. (And it appears she’s about to do exactly that.)

Camelot Hotel, Wales

The seat of government for Morgans Nomansland domain is located at St. Brides Bay. Appreciative that the hotel name offered ironies too rich to ignore, to say nothing of a setting that embodied all the austere beauty of the Welsh coast, she is fiercely protective of her home.

Idyllic as the area is, its never very far from a war zone. When Morgan travels, she does so inside armored vehicles that are fast, on- and off-road. Not that anyone in their right mind would be foolish enough to attack a Director/ally of Lord Gore. Not that anyone with even a shred of common sense would cross someone who is rumored to be an actual sorceress. (Count on Merlin to do both.)

Danyal and Selena Osadebe

Lord Danyal’s HIPEX armor is rakish in its design and heroic in its proportions. The gold and silver mirror-finish is battle-marred in places—evidence he is accustomed to leading from the front lines. Indeed, strength and bravery earn him wide renown and grudging respect, and his personal charisma inspires loyalty, from baptismal font to battlefield.

Osadebes natural blond hair is grown long and gathered into a wild mane of dreads, some sporting finger-thick bands of gold and ivory. At peace, he is a gentle being, with a warm smile and benevolent disposition. At war, his face is a color-shifted echo of the lion’s head on his breastplate.

Selena, Danyal’s wife of 16 years, is his closest confidante. African and Vietnamese parentage bestow an exotic beauty, and her confidence is grist for admirers and critics alike. Effortlessly bearing all scrutiny, shes a wise navigator for Danyal’s often precarious ship of state and a steadying influence on their young daughters, Aisha and Bahiya.