Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Of Flesh and Feathers by L.M. Pierce

Release date: July 14, 2020
Subgenre: Post-apocalytic, Animal stories

About Of Flesh and Feathers

 

"A modern Watership Down meets The Walking Dead - but with a lot more feathers."

A foul wind blows through the chicken coop. The flock's caretaker no longer comes to collect Chickory's eggs or bring her feed, and the stench of death is everywhere. Her friend Fayne is haunted by visions of danger, and by a prophecy of safety beyond the farthest horizon a chicken has ever known. With the help of their faithful farm dog, Chickory must convince her flock to follow her into a frightening world of disease and predators, both natural... and unnatural.

Their survival may depend on fateful premonitions, but in order to save the world of humans and birds, Chickory must discover the truth behind the prophecy and the sickness that turned their keepers into killers.

From the mind that brought you Trans Liberty Riot Brigade, L.M. Pierce presents:
Of Flesh and Feathers

 

Excerpt:

 

The Beginning



"We are brought to the light by Piasa's grace;
All creatures of the world begin as small, naked chicks,
And we all face death the moment life begins."

- Tales of Piasa, for Chicks and Hatchlings



The walls of the chicken coop obscured all hint of sunrise, except for the square of light where the ramp led down into the small yard. The caked straw and long accumulated droppings burned Chickory’s eyes, and her wind pouch ached with every breath. Outside, the flock squabbled and fought over early worms.
She had watched them rise, watched as they shoved through the small entrance like a squirming mass of grubs. What they hurried for, she didn’t know. The tender new season grass was gone. Even the spicy ants with sharp angular mouths were gone. The flock had stalked them back to the nest and once the juicy queen had been dug up, no more had appeared.
Every sunrise they hurried into the yard, even though their caretaker wouldn’t be there to greet them with a sprinkle of corn or wheat or knobby vegetables. Their reliable, frizzy-headed Hum, Lady, had gone inside the blue house and never returned. Sometimes that happened—Hums, like all living creatures of Piasa’s world, could die, would die. And Lady wasn’t the only one. Chickory fought against the memory but it dripped through like honey in the sun season. The Hum child from the neighbor’s farm was slumped against the back fence, an arm draped over the lowest rail as his body returned to the soil. His flesh squirmed with flies and squishy white bugs, but an unusually terrible smell emanated from every inch of his decomposed body. The smell of his sickness had deterred most creatures from eating his flesh. Even the sky birds avoided the feast of insects that didn’t fuss over a diseased home.
No, she really didn’t see the point in getting up at all.
“What are you doing in here?” Rosie’s brilliant red feathers looked black as she stood in the shadow of the entryway. 
“Resting.”
“Resting? ‘A bird at rest is an easy meal’ and you’ve been resting for many sunrises,” Rosie hissed. She had returned to her clutch of perfectly domed brown eggs after a brief journey for water and whatever food she might have found. It was time to nest—and hens nested alone.
“I won’t bother you.”
“You’re bothering me now! Get out, get out, your smell makes me sick.” Rosie hopped to where Chickory huddled on the bottom roost and snapped her comb. The wrinkled red flesh nearly tore and Chickory scurried away from her.
“Fine. I’m leaving,” Chickory said and stalked out the entrance and into the full light of the day.
She blinked and squinted. Morning mist cloaked the yard. Dark shapes moved across the muted landscape and the pink of the sky, coupled with the haze, made it feel like a dream or a chickhood memory.
However, beneath the dreamlike appearance, the yard had reverted to wilderness. Lady’s once careful attention to the plants and creatures she cared for had almost faded. The overgrown and lopsided hedges around the house soaked up slabs of sunshine, and tall flourishing field grass spread across the front like misplaced whiskers. The yard around the coop, once lush with green, was now patchy with dry grass and bald spots of soil. Hills of decayed leaves, left over from the cold season, tangled in the fence surrounding the main yard, and knobby twists of nut trees cast long shadows over the pebbled entrance.

 

Amazon

 

About L.M. Pierce: 

 Music to Lindsay’s ears. She is an eclectic liberal box of sparks. Friends call her a golden retriever. She is a lover of the new and the old, of asking questions and contemplating possibilities. In addition to the making of words, she is a mental health therapist, anti-oppression trainer, and queer AF.
She lives with her family, fur babies, and chickens in Olympia, Washington.

 

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Road Seven by Keith Rosson

Release date: July 14, 2020
Subgenre: Magical Realism, Contemporary Fantasy

About Road Seven

 

Road Seven follows disgraced cryptozoologist Mark Sandoval—resolutely arrogant, covered head to foot in precise geometric scarring, and still marginally famous after Hollywood made an Oscar-winner based off his memoir years before—who has been strongly advised by his lawyer to leave the country following a drunken and potentially fatal hit and run. When a woman sends Sandoval grainy footage of what appears to be a unicorn, he quickly hires an assistant and the two head off to the woman's farm in Hvíldarland, a tiny, remote island off the coast of Iceland. When they arrive on the island and discover that both a military base and the surrounding álagablettur, the nearby woods, are teeming with strangeness and secrets, they begin to realize that a supposed unicorn sighting is the least of their worries.  

Road Seven will mark the third of Rosson’s novels to be published by Meerkat Press.

 

Excerpt:

 

If you knew a little pop culture, you knew Mark Sandoval’s story.
You’d at least heard of him, or one of his books, even if you hadn’t actually read one. (But chances were that if you hadn’t read one, and you were in, say, an average-sized sedan, someone you were with probably had.) His was a name that came up as an answer during somewhat nerdy subsections of trivia night. Sandoval rested in the back part of the mind, a celebrity tumbled earthward, Icarus-style: famous, but with nowhere near the fervor of his earlier fame.
The story went:
When he was in his late twenties, Sandoval was assistant anthropology professor at a small but respected liberal arts university in Seattle. (He never named names in his book, hence the shock when Brian discovered that Don Whitmer had been involved). One morning he didn’t show up for a class he was scheduled to teach. Just skipped it. The head of the department (again, Don Whitmer, played by an earnest and affable Morgan Freeman in the film) was understandably frustrated. Pissed, even. This was not, after all, a new occurrence, Sandoval dipping out on his responsibilities. After multiple offers of a sympathetic ear from the school’s dean and more than one warning from Whitmer as to his tenuous footing regarding his employment, Sandoval and Whitmer had a meeting and Sandoval was removed from his position. It was something that probably could have been contested if he’d been of mind to do it. But long story short: he’d lost his job. He was fucking up big time.
Thing was, after that meeting? Sandoval just disappeared.
He was gone for thirty-four days.
Just vanished. Puff-of-smoke kind of shit. In The Long Walk Home, he wrote that his wife, who had admittedly left him just days before, grew frantic at his disappearance. His friends and colleagues were mystified. He was not, they say, depressed or in debt. He partied, sure, but not to excess. His position on campus, had he been able to keep it together, seemed almost assuredly tenure-track. (Again, this was via The Long Walk Home, and all of it strained through the colander of Sandoval’s heavy-handed and admittedly one-sided prose.) The police briefly talked to the wife but ultimately came to believe it was probably a kidnapping that, as the days continued to pass with no ransom demand issued, had possibly turned fatal. There were simply no leads to follow.
And then, thirty-four days after his disappearance from Seattle, Sandoval was discovered by an off-duty policeman in a phone booth in Middleton, Delaware, nearly three thousand miles away. Wearing only a pair of soiled boxer shorts, Sandoval sat curled and sobbing on the booth’s metal floor, rocking himself like a child. He was emaciated and dehydrated and initially appeared to have difficulty regaining speech. Not a heavy man to begin with, he’d lost over forty pounds since his disappearance.
Most notably, nearly the entirety of his body was now covered in a series of raised scars (circles, squares, trapezoids, octagons sutured together by an interconnected series of lines.) Only his face, hands and feet were spared. Though his language capabilities eventually returned, he purported to have no memory of the previous weeks. The scars, how he got them, and what they may or may not represent were, he claimed, a mystery.
Sandoval returned to Seattle as a strange dichotomy: both pariah and minor celebrity. Eventually he seemed to recover entirely. He was not evasive about what happened, but said he simply didn’t know. Claims by his wife that he had issues with drugs were fervently rebuffed. He did not return to his position at the university.
Within a year of his return to Seattle he’d written a memoir. It was sold to a major New York publisher after an extensive bidding war (rumors at the time placed his advance in the mid-seven-figure range). The bulk of the material was purportedly penned from memories unearthed after claiming to have undergone months of regressive hypnotherapy, though repeated media requests to name the therapist (titled only “Dr. X” in the book) were never answered.
And Mark Sandoval became famous. His memoir, The Long Way Home, became hugely popular. It became one of those books that was purchased by people that don’t often like to read, a book that stayed for years on supermarket shelves. A book that was gifted to people who were impossible to shop for.
And it was in this book that Sandoval claimed, as evidenced through his scars and his numerous regressive-hypnosis sessions, to have been abducted by aliens.
Brian remembered being a kid and watching the unending Saturday Night Live skits at that time, in which an alien was always bugging one of the cast members—arms and legs done up in pink makeup suspiciously like Sandoval’s scarring—about inconsistencies in that “dumb story you wrote about me.” (His mother had found these skits hilarious.) Sandoval cowrote the screenplay for the film adaptation. Brad Pitt nabbed an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of a frightened, weeping Mark Sandoval, wandering Middleton streets with a brutal, unknown lexicon strung along his body.
Five books followed over the next couple decades, “nonfiction exposés.” All of them farting around between memoir and monster hunt. They were all well received, at least in terms of sales, though none were ever as successful as The Long Way Home. He remembered seeing Sandoval on Oprah: Sandoval had worn a leather jacket and a terrible goatee-mustache combo that was woefully, painfully indicative of the times. He’d looked like the sleazy older guy who’d try to pick up girls in a head shop.
Oprah, holding up a hardcover copy of the book, had touched Sandoval’s knee with her other hand and said, “Now really, Mark. Aliens? We’re supposed to believe that aliens came down and took you onto their ship? Did these things to you? These strange and confusing and sometimes hurtful things? I think some part of us wants to believe that there’s more than just us out there, but the things you write here . . . I mean, really?”
And Sandoval, without missing a beat, tucked his thumb under his chin and put his finger against his nose. Thinker in repose. (It was a gesture Brian would become intimately familiar with years later; it seemed one of the few natural, uncultivated things about the man.) Sandoval had nodded sagely, waited a beat and said, “You know, Oprah, sometimes? In matters of faith—and you know this better than most—just because we don’t understand it, doesn’t mean we can’t handle it. Or that it shouldn’t happen.”
“What do you mean by that?”
I believe . . . Well, I’m of the opinion that there’s a grand plan. Okay? And it’s one that we’re not always privy to. We can’t always encapsulate it into our understanding. But we still do our part, our tiny part, even if we can’t see the big picture at the time.”
“So things happen for a reason.”
“Exactly. Even if we don’t know what that reason is at the time.”
Oprah had seemed grudgingly accepting of that answer, if not exactly satisfied. She’d eyed him almost suspiciously. “That’s certainly a gracious way of looking at what happened to you, Mark.”
And Sandoval had smiled, a smile that disintegrated the foolishness of that goatee, the gelled hair. A smile that dissipated that huckster sheen of his. He leaned back, and viewers could see the scars peeking out of his sleeves.
“Well,” Sandoval had said, “I have been around the block a few times, after all.”
Cue the audience’s gentle laughter.

Meerkat Press | Indiebound.org| Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 

 

 

About Keith Rosson:

Keith Rosson is the author of the novels The Mercy of the Tide and Smoke City. His short fiction has appeared in Cream City Review, PANK, Redivider, December, and more. An advocate of both public libraries and non-ironic adulation of the cassette tape, he can be found at keithrosson.com.

 

Website | Twitter

 

About Meerkat Press

 Meerkat Press is an independent publisher committed to finding and publishing exceptional, irresistible, unforgettable fiction. And despite the previous sentence, we frown on overuse of adjectives and adverbs in submissions. *smile*

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Google+ | YouTube | Pinterest

 

 

 

Friday, July 10, 2020

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for July 10, 2020


It's time for the latest weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with the various iterations of Star Trek, The Old Guard, Legends of Tomorrow, Snowpiercer, Palm Springs, tributes to Ennio Moricone and Earl Cameron, the latest convention cancellations and virtual conventions due to the corona virus and much more.

Speculative fiction in general:

Film and TV:

Comments on the various iterations of Star Trek:

Comments on The Old Guard:

Comments on Legends of Tomorrow

Comments on Snowpiercer:

Comments on Palm Springs:

Awards: 

Writing, publishing and promotion:

Interviews:

Reviews: 

Classics reviews:

Con and event reports:

Crowdfunding:

Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends: 

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

324 Abercorn by Mark Allan Gunnells

 Release date: July 8, 2020
Subgenre: Ghost Story, Horror

About 324 Abercorn:

 

Brad Storm doesn’t believe in ghosts, but moving into the house at 324 Abercorn just may change his mind.

Best-selling author Bradley Storm finally has enough money to buy and restore his dream home. Despite 324 Abercorn's reputation as one of the most haunted houses in America, Bradley isn't worried. He doesn't believe in the supernatural. Then strange things begin to happen. Objects no longer where he left them. Phantom noises heard from empty rooms. Shadows glimpsed from the corner of his eye.

Is his house truly haunted, or is there something more sinister happening on the property?

With the help of Bradley’s new boyfriend and a few friends who are just as intrigued with the seemingly inexplicable occurrences surrounding the infamous house, they set out to find the truth of what stalks the halls at 324 Abercorn.

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.


Excerpt:

 

The Maverick Center had originated as a school, and upstairs was a recreation of how the classrooms would have looked when the school first opened in 1856, with wooden desks and chalkboard tablets, outdated world maps hanging on the walls and even a dunce cap sitting on a wooden stool in the corner. Brad had visited the place before, and knew the classroom was technically in the next building over, but at the top of the stairs a door led onto an open walkway that connected the two buildings.
            Out on the walkway, Brad paused to enjoy the warm breeze. Still early spring but the temperatures were already in the 70s. This foretold of a blistering summer, but the heat had never bothered Brad. He’d rather be too hot than too cold any day.
            Letting his eyes wander over to his house, Brad found himself fixated on an odd shadow reflected in the glass of the bay window. Leaning slightly over the railing and squinting, he detected what looked like the silhouette of a person standing by the window. His bedroom window.
            Brad placed a hand over his eyes to shield the glare from the sun, sure his vision must be playing tricks on him. Just as a cloud scuttled in front of the sun, it seemed the figure in his bedroom stepped back from the window. Or it could have been the shade from the cloud removing the reflection from the glass.
            In any case, Brad turned back and retreated the way he came, bounding down the stairs and past the register. Marty asked if anything was wrong, but Brad didn’t answer. He was out the door and sprinting across the street, nearly colliding with a middle-aged couple who’d stopped at the edge of Crenshaw Square to study a large map.
            He took the curving steps two at a time, unlocked the door, and started for the stairs until the incessant beeping of the alarm drew him back to the foyer. He punched in the code, and then rushed upstairs to his bedroom.
            His bedroom was empty and seemingly undisturbed. The bedsheets lay rumpled in the manner he’d left them this morning, his Rolex sat untouched on the nightstand. He did a quick search of the upstairs, just as he had the other day when he thought he’d heard the footsteps, but the rooms were as deserted now as they were then.
            He made his way down to the lower floor and searched those rooms, as well as the basement library, Phantom following alone as if he were the Pied Piper. He found no one, and no sign that anyone had been inside. In fact, how could anyone have been inside when the alarm was still set when he came in?
            The alarm.
Something about this nagged at him, and he realized that he didn’t recall deactivating the alarm when he’d come in for the book earlier. Of course, punching in his code had become second nature so perhaps he’d done it automatically. He couldn’t be sure. Just as he couldn’t be sure he’d seen anything in the window.


Amazon

 


About Max Allan Gunnells:

 


Mark Allan Gunnells loves to tell stories. He has since he was a kid, penning one-page tales that were Twilight Zone knockoffs. He likes to think he has gotten a little better since then. He loves reader feedback, and above all he loves telling stories. He lives in Greer, SC, with his husband Craig A. Metcalf.




Friday, July 3, 2020

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for July 3, 2020


It's time for the latest weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with the various iterations of Star Trek, Warrior Nun, sexual harrassment in the speculative fiction and comics community, Ray Harryhausen at 100, the latest convention cancellations and virtual conventions due to the corona virus and much more. 

Speculative fiction in general:

Comments on various cases of sexual misconduct and general bad behaviour in the SFF and comics community: 

Film and TV:

Comments on the various iterations of Star Trek:

Comments on Warrior Nun:

Ray Harryhausen at 100:

Awards: 

Writing, publishing and promotion:

Interviews:

Reviews: 

Classics reviews:

Con and event reports:

Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends: