Time Bomb is the third book in R.M. Olson’s science fiction space opera series The Ungovernable. With a crazy, close-knit crew, plenty of humour, and loads of action, Firefly meets Ocean’s Eleven in this fast-paced, kick-ass, wickedly fun series.
Jez pulled out her modded heat pistol, heart pounding, and crossed the muddy street, holding the gun inconspicuously behind her leg. The muffled sound of her boots on the wet wooden boardwalk were loud in her ears, even over the faint morning sounds of the kabak next door. She put her back against the dirty, splintery siding of the building next to her, and crept cautiously towards the closed doorway.
From here, she could hear the voices more clearly.
“I told you. I have no idea who you’re talking about.” Lev’s voice was strained, but his tone was as calm as ever, if slightly irritated. Someone else spoke, but she couldn’t make out the words. Then the voice raised slightly. It was unfamiliar, but she recognized the meaning in his tone instantly.
“—better damn well hope this will refresh your memory.”
She kicked the door hard, swinging up her heat pistol as it slammed open, and glanced quickly around the bare room.
Three unfamiliar figures, all dressed in the nondescript flight clothes she recognized instantly as smuggler gear. All three had weapons. And in the back of the room—Lev, tied to a chair. He was frowning, and blood trickled from the corner of his lip, and a woman stood beside him, heat pistol raised as if to hit him a second time.
Suddenly, Jez was very, very angry.
“Back the hell off, you bastards,” she ground out through her teeth, holding her pistol level. “That’s my damn copilot.”
All three of them turned to face her. The man who appeared to be the leader gave her a long, speculative look.
They were standing too close to Lev for a shot with this thing—beam wasn’t narrow enough.
“You Jez Solokov?” the leader grunted. She gave him a dangerous grin.
“Don’t see how that’s your business. But that scholar-boy you have tied up over there, he is my damn business. So unless you feel like a heat-blast in the face, you might want to let him go.” She shrugged. “‘Course, someone as ugly as you, heat blast in the face might not make that much of a difference.”
“It’s her,” the man said to his companions. “Must be. They said she had a mouth on her.” He turned back to Jez with an unpleasant smile. “Looks to me like you lost the last fight you were in.”
“Guess I need practice,” she said. “Don’t usually fight with people as plaguing stupid as you, but hell, this time I’ll make an exception.”
Lev shot her an exasperated look. She winked at him, then pointed the modded heat gun at the floor in front of the three smugglers and squeezed the trigger. The boards erupted in an explosion of air-blistering heat and light, and then sizzled into ash, small flames licking at the edges of the hole she’d just blasted in the formerly-wooden floor. She grinned.
Ysbel was a damn marvel with guns.
“Now, you dirty plaguers,” she said in a friendly tone. “You feel more like talking?”
“Jez, they have a—” Lev began in a strangled tone. The woman standing next to his chair cuffed him hard alongside the head, yanking out a small cylindrical tube with her other hand. Jez’s brain recognized it at the same time as she pulled the trigger a second time.
It clicked uselessly
“EMP blocker,” Lev finished unnecessarily.
A Bite of… R.M. Olson
How much of you is in your hero?
Basically, Jez is me–although I’m not a pilot, and don’t have quite her level of physical dexterity. I am also ADHD and bi, and I think that’s why I love writing her so much. It’s so cathartic to write someone like me, and not have her change who she is in order to fit in or do what she needs to do. Her crazy quirks are what make her an effective member of the crew, even though they do get her into trouble at least as often as they get her out of it. I have ADHD children as well, and I love the idea that they’ll read my books one day and realize that as far as I’m concerned, being the way they are is a good thing.
Would you rather live in this world or the one you create in your books?
I love this world, to be honest–I’m a hiker, and I spend as much time as I can outside, and every single time I do I feel like I’m going to die it’s so beautiful. And, I live in Canada, where I have the right to vote and legal protections against government overreach. The world I write is a sort of 80s USSR in space vibe, and while it’s a lot of fun, and while I must admit I’d love to be able to planet-hop, I don’t think I’d be able to handle the depressingly toxic mix of mafia and politics, peppered through with corruption and state control as there is in the world of The Ungovernable.
Is it important to include all shades of belief and sexual orientation in a book?
I think it’s super important. I believe stories teach us what it is to be human, and reading is a way to empathize with someone whose experience you will never live. When we only read about people exactly like us, or worse, people who are exactly like the status quo (white, straight, and Christian), it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that is the default human. But when we read writing that reflects all of humanity, in its messy, glorious perfection–we realize that to be human is a lot bigger than just us and our personal experience. And if you’re not a member of the status quo–I’ll tell you, it’s so lovely to read a book about someone who looks or sounds or loves like you do, and is treated as just as fully human as anyone else.
R.M. Olson is the author of The Ungovernable series (Zero Day Threat, Jailbreak and Time Bomb. She has ridden the Trans Siberian railway, jumped off the highest bungee jump in the world, gone cage-diving with great white sharks, faced down a charging buffalo bull, and knows how to milk a goat. Currently, she resides in Alberta, Canada with her four children, three cats, and a dog the size of a small bear. She goes hiking and skiing more often than she probably has time for, and eats more chocolate than is probably good for her, and reads more books than is probably prudent. You can find her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.