Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The Strange (Linked Worlds, Book 3) by Masha du Toit

Release date: November 13, 2018
Subgenre: Biopunk, Genetic engineering

About The Strange:


Constable Elke Veraart and her cyber-dog Meisje are peace keepers, patrolling the Babylon Eye. It’s a good job, but there must be more to life than chasing smugglers and settling domestic disputes!

Then three children ask Elke to find their mother, who’s been missing for more than a year. The search attracts the wrong kind of attention. Elke and her young friends are in desperate danger.

Unable to resist the powers that have been unleashed against her, Elke is swept out of the Babylon Eye and into another world. While she struggles to regain her freedom, the children are unprotected. They must face, all alone, a new danger that stalks the corridors of the Babylon Eye.

The Strange is the third book in the Linked Worlds series.




Constable Elke Veraart poked at the charred fragments with a piece of wire. "Human teeth. And these are bits of bone."
"You're sure?" Elke's boss, Hoofdinspecteur Dolly Ngcobo, steadied herself with a manicured hand on the incinerator's door.
"Sure." Elke sat back on her heels, trying not to breathe too deeply. The incinerator chamber reeked of ash, burnt rubber and the fumes of a disinfectant so strong it stung her eyes and nose.
"Do we know who it could be?" Dolly turned to the workers crowding the corridor behind her. "You lot have any ideas?"
"Kipper's been missing since three days ago," said one of the workers. "I bet it's him." The speaker was a burly young glim, an algae tech Elke often saw working at the tanks on her daily patrol of Works level.
"What about his badges?" said a young woman behind the algae tech. "Those bits of metal. Kipper had all these badges..."
Elke looked more carefully at one of the blackened lumps, warped and charred but still recognisably oval, and stamped with a star. "Come have a look," she said to the woman. "Recognise this?"
The woman pushed through the crowd. She was small, almost child-sized, her bronze skin patterned with pale tattoos, and wisps of dark hair curled from under her tight, waterproof cap. The name Ghatak was embroidered on the pocket of her algae-stained overalls.
"Hard to say, with it all burnt so much." Ghatak considered the charred remains with calm interest. "Kipper collected Prussian army badges. Kind of looks like that, don't you think?"
"Kipper?" Elke rose from her crouch. Ghatak and Dolly stepped back so that she could get out into the corridor.
"That's what we called him," said the algae tech. "Kipper. Short for something."
"Benderek Kiprosomov," said Ghatak. "Old guy. Realworld. Been in the Eye forever."
Elke dusted her hands on her trousers. "Did you know him? Work with him?"
Ghatak shook her head. "Nope. I'm a biotech. He's a mech, and pretty much a loner. Always worked by himself."
The crowd of technicians and mechanics murmured their agreement. They were glims and realworlders, some with safety goggles pushed up on their heads, others wearing stained aprons or rubber gloves.
These were the people who kept the Eye going. They maintained the air and water filters and oversaw the processes that converted waste into energy.
"Meisje got anything to add?" Dolly said as she stripped off her latex gloves.
"Not with this disinfectant stink." Elke looked at the white gardag, who was waiting at the far end of the corridor. "This stuff kills her nose."
"When you've recorded all of this"--Dolly gestured at the incinerator--" bag those ashes. We'll see what the tests show."
She turned to the crowd. "You people can go back to work. If any of you know anything about mijnheer Kipromosov, give your statements to Constable Veraart. And you," she said to Elke, "come to the office when you're finished."
She tucked her gloves into her handbag and pushed her way through the dispersing crowd of workers, her heels clicking on the concrete floor.
"Poor old Kipper." Ghatak was still looking at the heap of burnt fragments in the incinerator tray. "What a way to go." She smiled wryly at Elke. "Not much for you to work on, is it."
"Nope." Elke crouched again, peering at the ashes. "You can say that again."




About the Linked Worlds series: 



About Masha du Toit:

Masha du Toit is an artist and writer living in Cape Town. She was trained as a visual artist, majoring in sculpture at Michaelis and went on to study bronze casting at the Natal Technicon. After many years as a teaching the creative use of digital technology, she finally focussed on her true passion: writing and illustrating her own stories.  The second book in her "Linked Worlds" series, "The Real", was shortlisted for the 2018 Nommo awards for best speculative fiction by an African writer.


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Monday, November 19, 2018

Beatrice Beecham's Ship of Shadows (Beatrice Beecham, Book 2) by Dave Jeffery

Release date: November 16, 2018
Subgenre: Superatural YA

About Beatrice Beecham's Ship of Shadows:


Beatrice is back to face her greatest threat since. . .well, the last time!

In Cooper’s Cove a hapless team of archaeologists unleash the vengeful spirit of a 16th Century witch on the sleepy seaside town of Dorsal Finn. Hexes and curses fly as Beatrice and her friends must find out what links the appearance of this incredible foe and The Spirit of the Ocean, a super-yacht hosting the biggest celebrity charity event the town has ever seen.

As the population of Dorsal Finn succumbs to witchcraft, so Beatrice must gate-crash the party with her motley-crew of friends and allies in the hope of stopping the witch's sinister plan, and save everyone from endless oblivion. . . Again.

This novel is great for those who like their supernatural adventures laced with humour, sinister action and mystery. Fans of Stranger Things, The Goonies, The Librarians, The Monster Squad, Ghostbusters, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Nancy Drew will delight in the antics and adventures of Beatrice and her off-the-wall friends.

Murder. Mystery. Monsters. Welcome to the world of Beatrice Beecham!

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




Chapter Four

Elmo stood outside the gates of Dorsal Finn High School, his large frame clad in his usual black tee-shirt, blue jeans and training shoes. Deep in thought, he considered what he’d witnessed during the game. 
At first, things were going as predicted, with his school team scoring early in the first half, and fellow Newshound, Emily, making two crucial saves as the opposition sought to reassert itself with an equaliser. By half time, however, the home team were two goals to nil up.
Then came the second half and things went kind of weird. Well, even Elmo knew this was a colossal understatement. By the first fifteen minutes, AOS FC had smashed four goals past Emily before she was substituted. Then Millie Weatheroak put away three more. End result: seven goals to two, and quite possibly the most humiliating defeat in a long, long time.
It was not this that had Elmo mulling things over in his quiet, considered brain, though. It was a concern for Emily. Because even before she came through the school gates and threw her kit bag angrily onto the pavement, Elmo knew things were not quite what they appeared to be.
“What happened?” he signed to her.
“Bad stuff,” Emily signed back.
Elmo thought that perhaps he’d misread her signing, but Emily’s reply came to him in large agitated movements to accentuate her irritation.
He responded after she’d finished. “Bad stuff? Slow down. You mean losing the game, right?”
“No,” she said in exasperation. “Bad stuff made this happen!”
“Okay,” Elmo said carefully. “Can you explain it?”
Emily took in air, letting it go as one long hiss. Her shoulders sagged a little as though she was deflating like a faulty inflatable at a kid’s birthday party.
Explaining such things was not always easy, even to the well-meaning, open-minded boy standing before her. The problem was always where to start.
Emily had powers. Precognition, extra-sensory perception, foresight, whatever name people wanted to give to it, she had the ability to see things, and while these images were not always bad, more often than not they had very real meaning, and their interpretation was not always clear.
Despite this, and under the intent and considered gaze of Elmo, Emily explained her vision.



About Dave Jeffery:

Dave Jeffery is author of 12 novels, two collections and numerous short stories. His Necropolis Rising series and yeti adventure Frostbite have both featured on the Amazon #1 bestseller list. His YA work features critically acclaimed Beatrice Beecham series and Finding Jericho, a contemporary mental health novel which has featured on the BBC Health and the Independent Schools Entrance Examination Board’s recommended reading lists. Jeffery is a member of the Society of Authors, British Fantasy Society (where he is a regular book reviewer), and the Horror Writers Association. He is also a registered mental health professional with a BSc (Hons) in Mental Health Studies and a Master’s Degree in Health Studies. Jeffery is married with two children and lives in Worcestershire, UK.


Crystal Lake Publishing

Friday, November 16, 2018

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for November 16, 2018

It's time for the weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with tributes to Stan Lee, the first "Best Books of 2018" lists, the new series of Doctor Who, the new She-Ra and the Princess of Power, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Star Trek and Short Treks, the future of Star Wars, Origins, Transformers: Lost Light as well as the usual mix of awards news, writing advice, interviews, reviews, con reports, crowdfunding campaigns, science articles, free online fiction and much more. 

Speculative fiction in general:

Best books of 2018 lists:

Film and TV:

Tributes to Stan Lee:

Comments on series 11 of Doctor Who:

Comments on Short Treks and Star Trek in general:

Comments on She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

Comments on Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald:


Writing, publishing and promotion:



Classics reviews:


Con and event reports:

Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends: