Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Shantytown Robin Hoods by Cora Buhlert

Release date: June 8, 2018
Subgenre: Dystopian crime thriller, Cyberpunk

About The Shantytown Robin Hoods


 Latisha, Moses and Tim are three street kids eking out a living in a dystopian future. Together, they are the Shantytown Robin Hoods, a street gang that steals from the rich and gives to – well, themselves.

"The Hole" is the hottest night club in Shantytown, where the rich and the famous can party among the less fortunate. But "The Hole" is also a favourite hangout for Latisha, Moses and Tim to find marks they can rob.

But then their latest job is derailed by a mobster with sticky fingers and a prize on his head, a teen pop sensation, a trigger-happy bodyguard and a red-haired assassin.

Soon bullets are flying in Shantytown and Latisha, Moses and Tim must keep their heads down to survive and steal another day…

This is a short dystopian crime story of 2800 words or approximately 10 print pages.




The Hole was the hottest nightclub in Shantytown, the place where the rich and the beautiful went to slum among the common people. Not that they ever saw the common people, unless they chanced to look sideward, while crossing the three metres between the entrance to The Hole and their waiting armoured groundcars.
However, if one of the patrons of The Hole had chanced to glance to the left, they might have noticed a transformer box, covered over and over in graffiti and posters for gigs in venues far less exclusive than The Hole. And if they’d looked very closely, they might have noticed a shadow behind the transformer box, a shadow that looked distinctly human.
Moses, the owner of said shadow, was currently crouching behind the transformer box, together with Tim, his very best friend in the whole wide world. Both of them were clutching weapons, automatic rifles left over from the last slum war. The rifles no longer worked properly, at least not when you needed them to, but they still looked damn scary and that was enough for Tim and Moses.
Because people — at least the sort of people who patronised The Hole — usually handed over their wallets, their com-units and their bling willingly, when faced with an automatic rifle, even one that no longer worked.
Tim and Moses were twelve years old and two thirds of a street gang that called themselves the Shantytown Robin Hoods. The name had been Tim’s idea. He’d heard a story once about a man named Robin Hood. He lived a long time ago, fought the coppers and stole from the rich to give to the poor. This Robin Hood sounded like a really cool guy and so Tim, Moses and Latisha, the third member of the gang and Moses’ older sister, had decided to name themselves after him. Okay, so they mostly stole for themselves, but then they were poor, damn it.
Latisha was currently sitting on a blanket on the other side of the street opposite The Hole. In front of her, there was a tin can with a few coins and a piece of cardboard with “Homeless — No parents — Need Help” scribbled in a scratchy hand. To everybody who chanced to notice her, Latisha was just another panhandler, one of hundreds that lined the streets of Shantytown. But in truth, she kept watch on those who entered or exited The Hole and pointed out lucrative targets to Moses and Tim.
“Groundcar rolling up to the entrance,” Latisha reported through a mini-com they’d stolen two months ago, “Luxury model. Looks like a good mark.”
Moses crept forward to peer around the corner of the transformer box, clutching his rifle.
“What do you see?” Tim whispered behind him.
“Big groundcar,” Moses whispered back, “The driver gets out, looks tough.”
“Careful,” Latisha whispered through the com, “He’s got a gun.”
“You sure?”
“Yes, I’m sure. It’s under his coat. He tries to hide it, but I can see it.”
From their respective hiding places, the three kids watched as the driver walked around the car and opened the rear door. A second later, three figures emerged from the neon-drenched entrance of The Hole.
A man in a long black coat came first, hood pulled up against the rain.
“Bodyguard,” Moses remarked.
“Careful,” Latisha whispered through the com, “He’s armed, too. Pulse rifle and handgun.”
Moses scowled. Latisha always worried too much. Big sisters were like that, he guessed.

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About Cora Buhlert:

Cora Buhlert was born and bred in North Germany, where she still lives today – after time spent in London, Singapore, Rotterdam and Mississippi. Cora holds an MA degree in English from the University of Bremen and is currently working towards her PhD. 

Cora has been writing, since she was a teenager, and has published stories, articles and poetry in various international magazines. She is the author of the Silencer series of pulp style thrillers, the Shattered Empire space opera series, the In Love and War science fiction romance series, the Helen Shepherd Mysteries and plenty of standalone stories in multiple genres.

When Cora is not writing, she works as a translator and teacher. She also runs the Speculative Fiction Showcase and the Indie Crime Scene and contributes to the Hugo-nominated fanzine Galactic Journey.


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Monday, June 18, 2018

Dragon's Egg (Dark Streets, Book 2) by B.R. Kingsolver

Release date: June 18, 2018
Subgenre: Urban Fantasy

About Dragon's Egg:


When did I become everyone’s paranormal Miss Fixit?

When the Lords of the Icelandic Elves summon me to use my talents to find a lost Dragon's egg, I find it hard to say no. I've seen what a Dragon can do, and a young, just-hatched Dragon is a being of pure destruction.

But word of the egg gets out, and the race to find it begins. Mages from many realms are in the hunt—including a Dragon—and they don’t always play well together. Unless I want to join the casualties, I need to find that egg and return it to where it belongs. Luckily, I have help, but I wish that damned golden-haired, golden-winged Nephilim would keep his shirt on.




Whether she was acknowledging my statement, or giving a signal, servants appeared and served our meal. The food was simple, a roast leg of lamb with root vegetables covered with a sauce, seasoned with herbs I hadn’t tasted since Midgard. I wondered if I could buy some of the seeds. The wine was French.

As was the custom, our dinner conversation avoided business. They asked about my flight, about Washington, and about my life in Midgard. I asked about their crops and entertainments. After dinner, we were served fruit tarts and aperitif glasses of agavirna, a potent Elven liqueur.

“I’m sure that you are curious as to why we invited you,” Lady Erinir eventually said. “I think that discussion should wait until tomorrow. What I will say tonight, is that the ability to feel magic, and interpret those feelings, is very rare. We have been informed that you might have that ability.”

“I’m not a mage, my lady, only a witch. An alchemist by training, but with no special abilities that other Elves do not have.”

She regarded me, then said, “So you aren’t able to tell that Altinir is a weather mage?”

“But he’s not. He’s a battle mage and portal mage. You’re the weather mage.”

“And Lady Minirin?”

“She’s a healer, and also a diviner.” I shook my head. “I don’t understand. Such things are plain for anyone to see.”

Minirin held out her hand, holding a polished and carved stick about two feet long. “And what is this?”

“A vincintor. For use on plants, not for people or animals.” Vincintors were magical devices used to diagnose illnesses. Such artifacts were created by alchemists, and I had manufactured my share. I had never seen the need for those to be used on plants. Surely anyone could tell why a plant was sick.

“And this?” Erinir asked, holding up a round red crystal the size of a golf ball.

“I believe that is a ruby,” I said, trying to keep my eyes from popping out of my head. I had never seen a gemstone that large in my life. It had to be worth at least two fortunes.

“Yes, but what kind of magic does it hold?” she asked.

“None,” I answered.

She held up her other hand with what looked like a twin to the first ruby. “And this one?”

I stared in astonishment and my mouth went dry. “Danu merde. That holds enough energy to blow this house to the moon.”

The three of them exchanged looks.

“Despite what you may think,” Altinir said, “Not a one of us at this table can do what you’ve just done. Nor have I ever met anyone who could. Not here, not in Alfheim. Most mages would need to cast a spell to divine the nature of these objects. You have a very special gift.”

“And that is why we have asked you to come,” Elinir said. “We received reports of your abilities in tracking down a statue, and we need to find an object.”

“What kind of object?”

“Someone has brought a Dragon’s egg to Earth.”




About B.R. Kingsolver:

BR Kingsolver, author of the Telepathic Clans and Chameleon Assassin series, grew up surrounded by writers, artists, myths, and folklore in Santa Fe, The City Different, in the Land of Enchantment.

After living all over the US and exploring the world--from Amsterdam to the Romanian Alps, and Russia to the Rocky Mountains--Kingsolver trades time between Baltimore and Albuquerque. With an education in nursing and biology and a Master's degree in business, Kingsolver has done everything from construction to newspaper editor and jewelry to computers.

Kingsolver, a passionate lifetime skier, currently spends time writing and working with computers while living nine blocks from the harbor in Baltimore as servant in residence to a very demanding cat.

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Sunday, June 17, 2018

Kristell Ink Sci-fi anthology launch in Waterstone's Oxford

Guests arriving: Sarah Higbee (in mirror, right)

It's not often three new Science Fiction and Fantasy anthologies come along at once! But on Friday night a week ago in Oxford, that was just what happened when small press Kristell Ink, part of Grimbold Books, launched three new exciting speculative fiction anthologies on an unsuspecting Oxford.

The anthologies, which we are featuring on the Showcase as new releases, are Infinite DysmorphiaHolding on by Our Fingertips, and Terra Nullius. The paperbacks are gorgeous, with cover art by Nele Diel, a series of haunting and tantalising images.

Sammy Smith with one of the anthologies

The launch took place in the cafe at Waterstone's Oxford, hosted by Sammy Smith, author and Creative Director of Kristell Ink, and authors Joel Cornah, Kate Coe and Pete Sutton, as well as graphic artist Joshua Cornah, who draws the Grim and Bold cartoon strip.

The light and airy venue  filled up quickly. The atmosphere was lively and informal, and the event began with Sammy welcoming everyone and thanking the editors of the three anthologies, Kate Coe, Ellen Crosháin, Amanda Rutter and Pete Sutton (though sadly Ellen and Amanda could not be present). Sammy explained the genesis of the project, which had first been imagined in 2014, and how it had come to fruition through several years of hard work and preparation.

The evening continued with a series of readings by contributing authors.

Megan Leigh reading

These varied from humorous, with the world-weary hero of Will MacMillan Jones' story First Contact setting out to terra-form a new planet in a beat-up used spaceship, to heart-stopping, in Charlotte Bond's story Retreat, which conjured the horrific prospect of a woman driven to rely on her abusive ex-husband in the face of a zombie apocalypse. Megan Leigh, who co-presents feminist SFF Podcast Breaking the Glass Slipper with Charlotte and Lucy Hounsom, read the story in Charlotte's absence.

Thomas J. Spargo

Thomas J. Spargo gave a dramatic reading from his story Countdown to Deliverance, a sinister tale of space exploration in which nothing was quite as it seemed; James Everington's bleak apocalyptic tale Heatstroke Harry looked death by global warming in the face, with all the threat of societal breakdown and hell; and David Sarsfield's Point of Periphery was a melancholy and ominous account of identity and death, as a clone and his "original" tried to come to terms with dissolution, and infinite regressions removed any certainty as to what was reality. 

Kate Coe and Joel Cornah at the Kristell Ink table 
with fantastic felines Grim and Bold

In the intervals between stories, there was plenty of time to talk to others in the audience, buy books, eat and drink. There were a wide selection of books from Kristell Ink, together with fun freebies such as badges, bookmarks and keyrings.

An incredible amount of work went into the publication of the anthologies, both from Sammy and the editors, all of whom have busy life and work commitments. Kate Coe worked on all three, and told us what a pleasure it had been, though reading the final stories for Holding on by Our Fingertips had been hard, with more than one moving her to tears.

The event was well-attended, with many authors present, including Sarah Higbee, John Bayliss, Phil Sloman, Terry Grimwood and Tom Lloyd Williams, and many more.

Terry Grimwood signing a book

For me the highlights (apart from acquiring several books and some swag) were meeting Sammy and Pete for the first time, as well as fellow contributors Sarah Higbee and John Bayliss. It was great to meet in real life, and to see Kate, Joel and Joshua again. I thoroughly enjoyed the readings, and was eager to read more in order to find out what happened. Waterstone's and their cafe did us proud.

Team Grimbold:
L-R: Joshua, Pete, Joel, Kate & Sammy

Thanks to everyone involved, particularly Sammy and the folk from Grimbold Books - and also to Stephen, my husband, who drove me all the way to Oxford and back!

If you want to find out more about Kristell Ink, their publications and authors, you can visit their web-site here; and Grimbold Books have a Patreon with regular stories and comic strips about the adventures of Grim and Bold available exclusively to patrons

Infinite Dysmorphia, Holding on by Our Fingertips, and Terra Nullius

Infinite Dysmorphia:

An anthology of science fiction and speculative stories exploring how science and technology could change what it means to be human. Bio implants, cybernetics, genetic modification, age reversal, robotics and technology...what is the human experience of undergoing these procedures, and what is the advance of technology going to bring?
What does the future hold in store for those who are pushing the definition of humanity? 
Stories by: Ren Warom -- David Boop -- Isha Crowe -- Dolly Garland -- Thomas J. Spargo -- Elizabeth Hosang -- Ron Wingrove -- Sean Grigsby -- Courtney M. Privett -- Steve Cotterill -- Anne Nicholls -- David Sarsfield -- Frances Kay -- Alec McQuay

Holding on by Our Fingertips:

An anthology of science fiction and speculative stories exploring the many different reactions and experiences of people during the 24 hours leading up to the end of the world. Our base instinct is to survive, but when the end is nigh, do we simply lie down and die? Or do we celebrate our life and achievements?
Love, loss, forgiveness, revenge, or just that final goodbye… 
Stories by: Gaie Sebold -- James Everington -- Sarah Higbee -- Charlotte Bond -- Kim Lakin-Smith -- Steve Carr -- Leontii Cristea -- Charlotte Strong -- Tabitha Lord -- Theo Graham -- Adrian Faulkner -- Phil Sloman -- C.A. Yates -- Ren Warom -- Terry Grimwood -- Scott Hungerford -- Courtney Privett

Terra Nullius:

Land belonging to no-one. An anthology of speculative fiction that explores the colonisation of our Solar System and far beyond, where pioneers carve out a new existence under other stars. New worlds and new challenges bring out rich stories filled with alien races and strange technology, but against this backdrop there’s the many facets of human emotion as colonists struggle to make a new home.
This is human life on the final frontier. 
Stories by: Thomas J. Spargo -- Jessica Rydill -- K.N. Johnson -- Jessica Reisman -- Jonathan Oliver -- Will MacMillan Jones -- E. M. Eastick -- John Bayliss -- Gregor Hartmann -- G. H. Finn -- Matthew Pedersen -- Steven Poore -- Jill Hand

(All photos of the event courtesy of Sammy Smith apart from the first and the sixth, which are the writer's own)