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Book Channel Author Interview with Patrick Cox about his series of books including Out Of Time and The Enemy Is Within.



Patrick Cox

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Out of Time (AuthorHouse)










The story begins with Midshipman Henry (Harry) Nelson- Heron, recently turned fifteen, pondering the voyage home as his ship, HMS Spartan 74 guns, leaves Bombay in May 1804. Four hundred years into his future a huge new starship, NECS Vanguard prepares for her first mission, with Harry’s twelve times Great Nephew in command. An accident as Vanguard passes into Hyperspace plucks Harry, his friend Ferghal and the Powder Monkey Danny Gunn from the gundeck of Spartan, about to engage a French frigate, and plunges them into the world of Vanguard and her high-tec future. For the boys it is a difficult and dangerous adjustment, with their receiving cyber implants to aid their adjustment and being kidnapped by unscrupulous scientists eager to harvest their pre-industrial genes and conduct other experiments on them. They escape thanks to an unforeseen side effect of the gene splices on Harry and Ferghal and the trio prove their usefulness, and their resourcefulness in many different ways, finally being welcomed home, four hundred years late, to the very house they left from to go to sea.

The enemy is within (Published 2008: Hallmark Press International)










Harry and Ferghal have been transported forward in time from a sailing ship from 1804 to 2205, with no way to return.  They find themselves in a world where sailing ships have been replaced by space ships, though their skills and experiences are sometimes transferable. In a previous adventure, they had been tortured and experimented on by scientists associated with the Consortium, who performed illegal gene splices using genetic material from a Lacertian. As a result they have found that the cybernetic implants given them by the Fleet, to cope with their move forward in time, allow them to work with computers in an unusual way. In this adventure, having been rescued from Pangaea by the Fleet, they have returned to base in order to study at the Fleet College. Here they make both friends and enemies. Eon Barclay, a Midshipman, is a Consortium spy, detailed to capture them, but also bears a personal grudge towards the pair because they were responsible for the death of his brother, and is determined to murder them if possible. Among other things, he attempts to discredit them at Fleet College through sabotaging their work and orchestrating attacks on them. Though he is a spy for the enemy, he is a reluctant one and is eventually unmasked, but not before his own efforts for revenge almost derail the efforts of his paymasters.

Harry and Ferghal have powerful friends, including members of the Lacertian race, who owe them a debt of honour, which they endeavour to carry out by protecting them wherever possible. After completing their course of studies at Fleet College, the pair is assigned to a vessel which first takes them back to Pangaea so that the Fleet can complete its investigations of the facility where they were captured and tortured. Here some of their torture is revealed, but they then try to gain rapprochement with their former enemies, successful in one sense, but almost disastrously wrong in the other. They venture to the strange world of New Eden where, following a battle in which their ships are badly damaged, they are temporarily stranded. It is here that some of Harry’s “outmoded” skills come to the fore yet again and he is instrumental in saving the survivors when they are attacked.

Harry and Ferghal are re-assigned to the cruiser DGK and find themselves sent as “prize” crew to a captured freighter. When the original crew try to retake their ship, it is Harry and Ferghal who turn the balance with their Napoleonic approach to dealing with such matters. Once the ship is secured Harry finds himself in command and brings the damaged ship and her crew back to earth and a final attempt to take him and Ferghal, foiled by their observant and quick witted response.

On the run

The fourth book in the saga of Harry and his friends opens aboard the Stardestroyer NECS Daring where Harry is finding life difficult under a superior officer who is resentful and somewhat inadequate. Ferghal is settled in the Engineering section of the ship and Danny has at last been allowed to join the Fleet as a Midshipman posted to the Fleet Flagship, NECS Vengeance, sister ship to the Vanguard. The war is going badly for the Confederacy and the World Treaty Organisation and Daring is lured into a trap and fatally damaged before her Captain rams their attacker after her crew escape to the surface of a bleak planet occupied by an important Consortium Base. While Ferghal and most of the crew are captured, Harry and a small group remain free and, with the help of an alien race and their “Protector” wreaks havoc in the Consortium computer, rescues Ferghal and wages a guerilla war with homemade explosives and weapons which their enemy are unable to detect because they are so crude and use no electronic components. When the Fleet finally arrives and begins a landing Harry and his team engage the Base and accidentally set in train an explosive event far beyond their expectations. The reversal of fortune that hinges on the fall of this Base and the failure of the secret operation it covered bring about a tenuous peace.

Their Lordships Require

This can be considered the “Prequel” to Out of Time and tracks the events and adventures Harry, Ferghal and Danny experience from the moment they are transferred to HMS Spartan from HMS Bellerophon. Harry is just thirteen when they encounter Corsairs on their way to the Cape of Good Hope and not quite fourteen when they explore the eastern coast of Australia. In between they have rescued the crew of a Dutch Indiaman, saved a cargo of convicts from a sinking prison ship and encountered some strange and exotic animals in New South Wales. The ship is then sent north about to reach India and restore the rescued Dutch to their authorities in Java. There is a brief excursion to the shores of Arabia and Muscat in pursuit of pirate slavers and closes with the preparations for departure from Bombay.  

In the course of this story Harry and his friends pass from boyhood to manhood, learning a number of different skills and some very harsh lessons along the way. The Gunroom bully, Harry’s nemesis at the start, loses his grip as the story progresses and his victims mature.

The parallel story introduces the future awaiting Harry, his friends, and humanity as his descendent, Captain James O’Niall Heron oversees the building, completion and finally the commissioning of the starship NECS Vanguard four hundred years in Harry’s future. Neither can know at this stage that a malfunctioning Transit Gate in 2205 will be responsible for their eventual meeting and the resolution of a four hundred year old family tragedy and mystery.



Science Fiction

Patrick Gray Cox is a writer that combines his love of Historical Fiction with Science Fiction writing; a mix of CS Forester and Isaac Asimov.

Patrick Cox was born in Cape Town in 1946. He has had a very fulfilling career working in all areas of fire safety, initially as a fireman – fighting bush fires in South Africa - and later as a fire and explosives expert, consultant to large companies, teacher and Government Adviser, not just in the UK and South Africa but around the World.

Patrick has been published many times over in trade journals and continues to write in a freelance capacity for the Fire and Rescue Journal. But Patrick has had a long fascination with the sea and ships, as well as the world of science fiction and space travel.

His first novel, Out of Time, published by AuthorHouse, is a story about a group of sailors aboard one of Nelson’s fleet, plucked from their galleon and transported forward two hundred years in time to another kind of battleship, one that cruises space rather than the Seven Seas. The protagonists use their archaic naval skills to save the day in the future world where people seem to have forgotten the skills of your average shipman. Same challenges, different environment. Patrick published a sequel with Hallmark Press called The Enemy is Within.

Patrick is researching and writing the sequel to The Enemy is Within, and sees these books becoming a series akin to Hornblower or Sharpe.

Patrick has also written and had published a book on Marine Fire Studies. He is currently researching and writing a Handbook for Fire Investigators. He has appeared on television programmes in the past as a fire-fighting expert including Ring of Fire for the Discovery Channel about fighting bush fires in Australia, and he had a similar role as a commentator on Inside Spontaneous Human Combustion in 2005 for Sky1. And, perhaps unusually, he has appeared on Kazakhstan’s national daily news programme, Kazakhstan Today, speaking about fire safety in high rise buildings.

As well as a writer, Patrick is an experienced public speaker and is keen to speak at public events on all aspects of fire-fighting and explosives investigation. He would also be interested in exploring television formats and further opportunities as a pundit and commentator on this area.