Spacecraft engineers have one job… make it fly.

When a mysterious spacecraft with alien technology attacks an armored freighter and takes her best friend prisoner, junior engineer Cassiopeia Requin will stop at nothing to get her back.

Reassigned to a state-of-the-art deep space cruiser, Cassi and her crew jump on a chance that might be their only opportunity to capture the alien spacecraft. But when they end up transiting into the accretion disk around a black hole, their cruiser is catastrophically damaged, and their chain of command is fractured.

Predators become prey as alien drones close in and cut through the remains of their hull in a desperate fight for working technology. Cassi must improvise, adapt, and use every engineering skill she’s learned to hold both her spacecraft and her team together as they spiral toward the event horizon and make a desperate attempt to escape the crushing gravity of a black hole.

Fractured Command is a new novel from Charles K James.
Available for pre-order now.

About the Cover

I had a tough act to follow after the success of First Command. I was very happy with that cover so I went back to the folks at Miblart to help with my next project.

Fractured Command is the second book in the Cassi Requin Universe. The cadets from the first novel have now graduated and are working as junior astronaut officers throughout the Alliance Expeditionary Fleet, but when Emica, Cassi’s best friend, is taken prisoner aboard a mysterious alien spacecraft, Cassi must get her back. As the book progresses, Cassi and her crew chase the alien spacecraft into a black hole system, where their spacecraft is catastrophically damaged. I wanted a black hole to feature prominently on this cover. Secondly, I wanted the book to connect with the first one. First Command features Cassi looking all defiant on cover, standing in front of a crashed spacecraft against the backdrop of an alien planet. Ideally I wanted a similar image of her on the cover.

But there was a major problem.

When I went back to Miblart, they told me the artist who worked on the original cover was no longer with them!

For anyone who doesn’t know, Miblart is a Ukrainian company. I don’t need to explain how tough the last year has been on the people of Ukraine. Bombardments. Power outages. War. It must be an absolute nightmare and my heart goes out to all those who have to live through this. (On a tangent I’ll throw in a little plug for the Red Cross.) I’ve been happy and proud to continue working with them through this past year.

Through all of this, we managed to find an artist with a similar style. Here are a couple of the original concept sketches.

Two of the original concept art sketched. Both feature the main character, Cassi. At the risk of stating the obvious,
on the left, her helmet is on. On the right, her helmet is off.

They didn’t fail to disappoint. My initial impressions were that they got the essence of what I was looking for. But there was one major issue. On the right, Cassi’s helmet is off. She looks awesome and considering she’s got the long flowing red hair on the first cover, I thought for sure she’d be recognizable to readers as the same character.

But Cassi is not superhuman. The novel is soft science fiction. That means that I take fictional liberties with concepts like faster-than-light travel, but people still can’t breathe in space.

On the other hand, with the helmet on, you can’t really see her hair.

In the end, most people I showed it to thought the helmet off version was better, particularly if she could be drawn in a little more distress. One of the “rules” of novel cover making is that you’re not supposed to focus too intently on recreating a scene from the book. Rather, you want to convey an easily recognizable genre, and maybe some themes of the story. So I went with helmet off.

Cassi’s not superhuman. But she is pretty badass.

Fractured Command is available now…
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