Saturday, May 26, 2018

Interview with Joel Cornah, author of Shards of the Nightmare


Today the Speculative Fiction Showcase has great pleasure in interviewing Joel Cornah, whose new novella, Shards of the Nightmare, we featured on May 1.






Shards of the Nightmare forms part of the same series as your first book, The Sea-Stone Sword, and its sequels. What is the Sea-Stone sword and why is it important?
The series deals with symbols of power in different forms. The Sea-Stone Sword represents physical power, the ability to do things through force. It is bound up with the power of the sea because controlling the sea is incredibly important in a world where trade and travel are keys to power.
In a very literal sense, the Sea-Stone Sword is a big, stone sword. It is huge, difficult to wield, and so heavy that it exhausts its bearer. The impracticality of it is not a mistake and was quite intentional. A lot of the magic in these books deals with the personal consequences for the one who holds it.
The longer somebody holds the Sea-Stone Sword, or indeed any source of power, the more it takes them over. Soon, whatever goals or desires they had, which drove them to find it in the first place, become twisted, exaggerated, and eventually distorted beyond recognition. The Sea-Stone Sword is a major symbol of this and its effects on those who take it are horrible!




Your protagonist in the first books was Rob Sardan, a pirate who is a troubled hero. In Shards of the Nightmare, Sini is a very different character. How does she differ from Rob Sardan and were there any challenges in writing her story?
Rob is a very intense person in the first book. He has a very set vision of himself and has a certain view of the world that is slowly questioned and deconstructed over the course of the series. While he does care about the people around him, it is offset by his very twisted sense of how to do the right thing.
Sini is a much more cheerful character, one who is more optimistic. Though she is given plenty of reasons to be miserable, she maintains a positive outlook. Some of this is helped by her loving bodyguard, Merri.
Writing Sini was a joy at times because I suddenly had the freedom to write such a happy character. I’d missed it. She faces dark times and comes through changed, but still has a hopeful outlook.

Her father Varirosi says he wants her to be a boy but the Seer says she is a girl – what is the significance of this?
Varirosi likes things to bend to his will. He wants Sini to be his son, he wants her to be a reflection of him, and so he defies everyone around him to insist upon this. Sini knows who she is, and she knows that she is not his son.
In his power and violence, Varirosi tries to make the world be the way he thinks it ought to be. Part of Sini’s quest is to find some way of helping him recognise the truth of things.

In this book, the parents are the villains of the piece – tell us more about that.
I have a tendency to write about found families and friendships more than familiar relationships. There’s a long history in fantasy of the hero discovering their ‘real’ family to be of an ancient line of magic, or of royalty. Sometimes both. And this is more often than not a great thing for them, though it may throw them into adventure.
For this story, I wanted to look at the consequences of having a family of unthinkable magical power. Or even just of power. I wanted to ask what happens to a child who sees the abuse of power and doesn’t make excuses but realises how wrong it is. Sometimes the hardest people to stand up to are our families when we see them doing something wrong.

The world in these stories is intensely imagined and detailed. Will you explore it further, or move on to other worlds?
I have a lot of plans for this world, yes. But I do want to write about other worlds, too. I am currently working on a novel set in modern day Helsinki. I’d also love to write a sweeping Space Opera one day.
But Diyngard is my first love, and my deepest source of creativity. I could write in this world forever and not get bored.



On your web-site it says you are an active member of the Tolkien Society. Tolkien almost invented the Fantasy genre single-handed. But Fantasy still gets a bad rap from literary critics. What are your thoughts on this subject?
It’s interesting that in Tolkien’s day he talked about this, though he specifically referred to Fairy Stories. A lot of the attitudes he criticised about how people dismissed fairy stories have crossed over to fantasy as years have gone by.
Because fantasy employs a lot of imagination and, well, fantastical imagery it is often dismissed as childish.
There are legitimate issues in the genre. Too many men, too many big men with big swords being bad and getting away with it. Women treated poorly, both in fiction and in reality. However, these problems are in no way isolated to fantasy and are a problem both in the industry at large, and in society at large. Fantasy seems an easy target often because many of its tropes are so bombastic in nature.

As I understand it, Tolkien’s world started from the imaginary languages he created as a young man. How important is his language in understanding his world?
It is immensely important. The cadence and meaning behind words and names was incredibly important to Tolkien. A lot of the Silmarillion dives into this and it is always helpful to read The Letters of JRR Tolkien, too.
It is clearly something he was passionate about and informed a lot of his decision-making. The number of characters whose names changed because they weren’t quite ‘right’ is a testament to this.

Do you prefer the Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit?
I love them both for different reasons, but if I had to choose, I’d pick Lord of the Rings. There’s just more to digest in there, and many more emotional themes and ideas being dealt with.

Tolkien was a university professor with a penchant for beer and smoking a pipe. He is supposed to have seen The Lord of the Rings as an attempt to create the myth that England lacked. Did he succeed?
Not really, and I think his goal changed over time. If you read early versions of his legendarium in The History of Middle Earth you can see his attempts there. But as the stories grew and changed, he realised that his original plan didn’t really fit with them. He wanted a sort of Mabinogion style book of myths in the Silmarillion, but what he achieved was something very different.



Oxford! It seems to have a unique role as a fictional destination, what with Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Lewis Carroll, Phillip Pullman and more – not to mention Colin Dexter and Inspector Morse. Why do you think it inspires so many writers of fantasy?
I suspect the university has something to do with it. Allowing rich old men to get a grip on academic studies and then try their hands at writing fiction in an environment that encouraged it. That’s not to say it was easy, Tolkien famously complained about all his academic work getting in the way of his creative work.
I think it is, or at least was, a city that helped artistic people develop because they often had money. Oxford isn’t cheap as I am discovering first hand!

Dr Who – what are your hopes (or fears) about Chris Chibnall as show-runner? What about Jodi Whittaker as the new Doctor?
Chibnall is a writer who has grown a lot over the years. Some of his early work on Torchwood makes me cringe (Cyberwoman isn’t exactly top class). But since then he’s had a lot of experience and time to develop. I’m cautiously optimistic about the future and what I’ve seen so far gives me hope for the new direction. Less dark, gritty, brooding. More bright colours, excitement and fun!
Jodie is a brilliant actor and can make even terrible scripts sing with light and excitement. Also, she’s northern. Lots of planets have a north!

Which Whovian monster would you least like to have to escape from – or fight?
The Myrka!

What are your feelings about the Sonic Screwdriver, if any?
I do love the old Sonic Screwdriver. It’s such a silly idea and I will never hate it. Though it can be over-used to skip over difficult plot points and save the day like a magic wand at times. A clever writer can still work around it.

I’m quite intrigued by long-running shows like Dr Who, Star Trek, or Star Wars.
I was a small child when Dr Who started and it’s still going strong (after a long hiatus). Star Wars appeared in 1977 and my nephew, who was born in 1978, is a lifelong fan. There’s clearly some kind of phenomenon going on here – what are your thoughts?
Some of it is down to audience reaction. People love these stories and can’t get enough of them, so there’s clear demand for them. Even when studios and corporations try to cancel them. People get used to things that have been around for a long time, too. So, the longer a show or franchise is around, the more people will want it to stick around. Generally speaking.
Some of it is, of course, cynical cash grabbing by big studios. But that doesn’t mean they can’t still be fun and mean a lot to people. These stories speak both to their own time, and down the years, too. The original Star Wars movies are soaked in the political and social attitudes of the day, but still resonate. The same will be true of the newer Star Wars movies, I’m sure.


Amazon.com | Amazon UK



About Joel Cornah:




Joel Cornah is an author, journalist, and blogger. He is the author of a number of novels and novellas including; The Sea-Stone Sword, The Spire of Frozen Fire and The Silent Helm, and The Sky Slayer.
He is an editor for The Science-Fiction and Fantasy Network, head of the Doctor Who department, and member of the Tolkien Society. He is a frequent blogger for the Pack of Aces blog, focussing on issues of Asexuality in media, specialising in sci-fi and fantasy.

Website | Facebook | Twitter


Friday, May 25, 2018

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for May 25, 2018


It's time for the weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with the 2017 Nebula Awards, Avengers: Infinity War, The Handmaid's Tale, Deadpool 2 (spoilers mostly marked, but reader beware), Solo: A Star Wars Story, Cloak and Dagger, the new adaptation of Fahrenheit 451, various TV show cancellations and rescues, an uproar involving FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention, yet more sexual harrassment and rape allegations 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:

Comments on Solo: A Star Wars Story:

Comments on Deadpool 2:

Comments on the new TV adaptation of Fahrenheit 451:

Comments on Avengers: Infinity War

Comments on season 2 of The Handmaid's Tale

Comments on Cloak and Dagger:

Discussion of various TV show cancellations and rescues:

Awards:

Writing, publishing and promotion:

Interviews:

Reviews:

Crowdfunding:

Con reports:

Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends:

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Chaos Conspiracy (Sacrificial Magic, Book 1) by Holly Evans

Release date: May 17, 2018
Subgenre:  Urban Fantasy

About Chaos Conspiracy

 

Wren Kincaid, blood witch.

It’s a shame I can’t put that on my résumé. Mercenaries with magic or supernal blood have a much easier time landing jobs. Unfortunately, if anyone finds out about my blood magic, I’ll be executed in twelve hours or less. Blood witches were eradicated a century before I was born, deemed too dangerous, or so everyone thought.

My life wasn’t too bad. I had to wrangle more drunk pixies than I’d have liked, and it was far from luxurious. I struggled to pay my rent, but I wasn’t complaining. Not too loudly, anyway.

Cue the Council and Dante Caspari. The Council are the people who will execute me if they find out what I am. Dante Caspari is the sexy-as-sin guy they hired me to work with so I can find out what happened to the missing supernals in Bucharest.

It sounds great working with a sexy guy, right? The problem is, his father’s a demon prince and his mother’s one of the most powerful witches in the Americas. If anyone is going to trip me up and hand me over to the Council, it’s him. So, I have to find the missing supernals, save the day, and try not to get killed doing it. Funny, those drunk pixies I was complaining about don’t seem so bad now.

Set in the same world as the popular Forged in Blood series

 

Excerpt:

 

Things were not going to plan. Redcaps were dumb. I was supposed to open his arteries, he’d bleed out, and we were done. Nice and easy. Instead, we circled around each other again, and I wasn’t finding a hint of weakness in his movements. Given my lack of size, I depended on my speed and wiles. I wouldn’t do well in a long, sustained fight.  A redcap would normally be slower, almost lumbering, but he was as nimble as a sidhe or a feline shifter. Something was very wrong there. Had I been set up? He rushed me again, and I slashed at his throat, but he pulled away and my blade slipped through thin air. He wasn’t giving me any room to dance away, not that time. He had his arms out and a manic grin on his face. I tried to duck under his arms, but he grabbed onto the back of my jacket.
I tried to stab him in the groin, but his arms were longer than mine. He leaned in, and his teeth grazed my throat. I tried to slash at his wrist to free myself of his grip. He dropped me, only to dive forwards and pin me against my own alchemical barrier. I should have known that was a stupid idea! 
He licked my cheek, and I fought to free my arms so I could cut off that awful grey tongue. His rancid breath filled my nose and threatened to make me vomit.
“Ever heard of breath mints?” I asked. 
He held my arms firm as he inched in closer, his teeth aiming for my neck. A quick glance around showed that we were still alone. Non-magical people wouldn’t be able to see inside of the alchemical circle, but supernals would be able to. I couldn’t afford the trap that made us entirely invisible, and really it would be good for business if supernals saw me kicking ass. I mentally reached inside the redcap and wrapped my consciousness around his blood. It felt so damn good to use my magic. If the Council knew I had it at all, they’d kill me. Blood magicians were outlawed for being too dangerous a century before I was born. As I held his blood in my mind’s eye and made it boil within him, I wondered if, perhaps, they had a point. 
The redcap screamed and flailed as he clawed at himself, tearing great chunks of flesh out of his arms and stomach. Then he went poof. The black gunk that formed when a fae died rained down and coated me. It smelled like rotting meat and fresh blood. It was going to take forever to get that smell out of my hair. Thankfully, the gunk would dissolve soon enough, but that damn smell was going to linger on my skin and hair. 
I sighed and ran my fingers through my hair, trying to get some of the gunk out. At least I’d earnt enough to pay rent. Ok, so it was three days late, but better late than never, right? The bone-deep tiredness that came with using my blood magic started to slip in just as the alchemical trap dissolved around me. A hot guy chose that moment to walk around the corner and see me coated in black gunk and looking frazzled from chasing that damn redcap for three days. I gave him a big friendly smile and a little wave before I realised I still had my blood-coated dagger in my hand. His eyes went big and he swallowed hard before he turned on his heel and walked very quickly the other direction. I had to give him points for not running, I supposed.

 

Amazon

 

About Holly Evans: 

Holly Evans is an urban fantasy author with an unhealthy fascination with blades, a deep love of hellhounds, and would love one day to wake up as a fae. When she isn't wrangling rogue characters and trying to tame her muse, she's researching shiny new ninja moves. During her spare time she fights crime and rights wrongs on the streets of County Kerry.

 

Website | Twitter

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Interview with Daniel Gibbs, author of Fight the Good Fight, Book I of Echoes of the Past

Today on the Speculative Fiction Showcase, Daniel Gibbs, author of Fight the Good Fight, Book I of the Echoes of the Past trilogy, has kindly agreed to answer our interview questions!






From the book, having seen the design of the space vessel itself, you have clearly taken great care researching the background and creating a realistic environment. Can you tell us more about that?
First and foremost, I’m a nerd. That’s important because us nerds tend to poke holes in things that don’t make plausible sense. I’ll be the first to admit that some of the technology in Echoes of the Past is what some would refer to as “handwave”, especially things like an inertial dampener. But most of the weaponry, ship design, and tactics are rooted in what I see as real-world applications of evolving technology. I’ve read a lot of papers on what combat in space might look like; my ship designs and the technology of the universe evolved out of that research.


The book has a dedication to your father, who was in the US navy, and mentions that you yourself mention have many years of experience with the military. How important was this experience to writing the book?
Let me first say that I have worked with the military as a civilian – primarily the US Navy. (The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree!) That work has really defined my purpose in life; as I mentioned, I’m a nerd and I primarily design and build computer systems. Seeing those things come to life and hopefully help out in some small way, well it’s a great feeling.
My father served for thirty years in the Navy. He joined six weeks before the end of WWII, and served in that war, Korea, and Vietnam. Then he got out, went to work as a civilian contractor in ship repair, and did that for another thirty-four years. A number of years ago, my mother had a stroke. My dad and I spent many weeks in the hospital with her, and he told me stories from his time in the Navy to pass the time. A lot of those stories, shades of them anyways, have found a home in my writing. They’re just fun little vignettes of military life.

David Cohen, the hero of Fight the Good Fight, experiences an internal conflict between his role as a starship commander and his wish to become a rabbi. This makes him at once an interesting and more complex character than some shoot-em-up heroes. Why did you choose to portray him like that?
I was aiming for a more complex series of characters. I’ve worked with a lot of men and women that have seen combat; I’ve been in theatre where that combat occurred and worked side by side with folks that had to go out every day with the possibility that they wouldn’t come back. The typical shoot-em-up hero characters if you will, never seem to have to deal with the toll that combat takes on the soul. It’s not plausible, at least to me, to have a character that kills dozens of people and feels nothing about it, ever. I wanted to portray a group of people that had to deal with that toll, and throughout the book, David has to face the results of his actions.

Does Daniel Cohen have echoes of other biblical heroes like the Maccabees and King David?
You know, that’s a great question. I never really thought of that as I was writing him, but yes, he does have some of that panache.

How important is the religious aspect of the book?
One of the things I wanted to show in my novel was the various religions of Humanity actually getting along with each other. In the main characters you will find Christians, Jews (both Orthodox and less than Orthodox), Muslims, and atheists. Its been my experience in life that great uncertainty (thinking back to 9/11 especially) causes people to return to their faith. I would think that in a war that’s lasted nearly thirty years and is in effect, a galactic war for survival, that people would cling strongly to their faiths as well and I portray that in my series. 

The trailer is awesome – short, very professional and to the point. It makes clear the central conflict within the hero as well as the battle outside. Tell us a bit about the making of the trailer…
First off, thank you! I’m a very visual person, and discovered this idea of book trailers. So I decided to make one. I had a couple of friends of mine create some 3D rendered art (the Lion of Judah and the Rabin, specifically), and another friend who is a composer and general jack of all things artistic, put the trailer together. I love how it came out!


Who are the enemies here – The League of Sol? Do they have a supernatural aspect?
The League of Sol is the enemy; but they have no supernatural aspects. They’re simply a totalitarian, communist regime that won world war three. They’ve imposed their way of thinking on Earth and most of the planets in Earth’s local region of space that they control. I don’t envision them being paper thin bad guys however. I will over the course of my trilogy and some novellas I have planned, explore the League and why they are the way that they are.

Were you in any way influenced by some of the great Jewish superhero characters such as Captain America and Magneto (more of an antihero!)
I can’t say that I was! I created the basic idea, and the basic characters behind Echoes of the Past more than 20 years ago. I hadn’t even heard of Captain America back then! Its only been recently that I felt my skills as a writer had progressed to the point I could actually write the story and do it the justice I felt it deserved.

The second book is clearly in preparation. Are you a fast writer? What is your writing routine?
Well, it took about a year to write the first novel this last time I picked it up. I had tried several times to write it, and wasn’t happy with the results. But this time I was. I would say that my routine is to define a set amount of words I want to get written in a given time period, and then hold myself accountable. I’m hard at work on the second novel in the series, and I’m about 40,000 words into my first draft. I anticipate it ending up around 100,000 words, maybe a touch more. Then the editing process can begin! I’m hoping to have it ready for release by the end of the summer.

Are there any writers of SF and military SF who you enjoy? (Past or present)
Many! My favourites include David Weber (I love the Safehold series), Taylor Anderson (Destroyermen), as well as Vaughn Heppner, Joshua Dalzelle and Glynn Stewart. My idea of a vacation is to get 20-25 books, go to a quiet place with no cell service, and read non-stop.

What about the current crop of Marvel superhero films, the new Star Wars trilogy and other films set in space in a more realistic style?
I loved Star Wars: Rogue One; and I loved Enders Game. (Both the books and the movie). I’ve enjoyed the Marvel movies I’ve seen, but I have to admit I’m quite behind on watching all of them. There’s never enough time! For realistic Sci-Fi, I find The Expanse to really hit the nail on the head. Outstanding work by everyone involved with it – from the novels, to the series.

What are your plans for future stories and series?
My first goal is to complete the initial trilogy for Echoes of the Past that I’ve plotted out so far; beginning with Fight the Good Fight, which just released on May 10th, So Fight I, the second novel, and ‘I Have Fought a Good Fight’, the third. After that, I’ve got several ideas for short story and novella volumes, and stand-alone novels set in the universe. When it comes to Echoes of the Past, I have almost unlimited creative energy.



Amazon




About Daniel Gibbs:




Daniel Gibbs is the creator of the Echoes of the Past universe. An idea that was born nearly twenty years ago, has finally come alive. A former computer engineer, Daniel loves all forms of science-fiction. His first novel was recently released to Amazon, and he is hard at work on the next two novels in the beginning EOTP trilogy. With mountains of ideas and notes for additional novels, Daniel will be busy for years to come bringing his universe to life! 

With many years of experience supporting the military as an IT engineer, Daniel hopes to bring an authentic lens to military science fiction, especially around the tribulations and trials of those who serve.




Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Breakdown (Dark Road, Book 1) by Bruno Miller

Release date: May 6, 2018
Subgenre: Post-apocalyptic

About Breakdown:

 

Do you have what it takes to survive?
Ben Davis was prepared for disaster. He just didn’t know it would come so soon.

He and his teenage son, Joel, are miles deep in the backcountry of the San Juan Mountains when high-altitude nuclear electromagnetic detonations light up the pre-dawn sky. Ben, Joel, and their dog, Gunner, must make their way home – or to whatever’s left of it – on foot.

Without the ability to communicate with his ex-wife in Maryland, Ben has no idea if Joel’s brother and sister are okay. The two decide they have no options but to head East. Before their journey begins, they venture into town to check Ben’s outdoor store for supplies and discover one of Joel’s classmates, Allie, alone and in desperate need of help.

When Ben realizes Allie’s flight attendant mother is most likely dead and her father lives in Pittsburgh, he knows he has to take her with them. Ben must use the skills he learned as an Army Ranger many years ago to survive the post-apocalyptic world they now live in.

Can he keep himself and two teenagers safe as they navigate the dark and dangerous road ahead?

 

Excerpt: 

 

Just then another explosion to the south, this time much closer. Out of their tents, both of them now had a clear view. A bright orange flash overwhelmed the valley for a split second as Ben threw up his hand to cover his face from the sudden blast of light.
“Don’t look at it!” Ben shouted.
A deep bass rumbled up the valley and momentarily canceled out all other sound, followed a few seconds later by a warm breeze the likes of which Ben had never felt in the mountains before. The bright flash of light had diminished to a pale orange glow that seemed to be floating within a distant massive cloud that consisted of an ominous column of fire and blackness that reached well into the atmosphere where it became encircled by a giant orange glowing ball of fire and smoke mixed with what seemed like lightning.
They both stood there watching in silence for what felt like an eternity before either one of them said anything.
This can’t be happening, Ben thought to himself, they actually did it.
“Dad, uh, what’s going on? What is it?” Joel asked.
“Son, I think we just witnessed a nuclear explosion,” Ben said solemnly. “I’m just guessing, but I would say that last one was over Vegas or maybe Albuquerque and the one before it that I caught the end of when I came out of the tent looked to be in the direction of Denver. I… I… I think they’re EMPs, Joel. High altitude nukes.” He ran his hand through his slightly graying brown hair.
“Well, what are we going to do?” Joel asked in disbelief.
“We’re going to pack up our stuff and get home as quickly as possible and then plan our next move from there,” Ben said, almost machine-like.
Realizing how he probably sounded to his son he took a couple steps towards him and put his arm around Joel as he pulled him close.
“We’ll figure it out, we’ll be all right. We have enough supplies at home to last a long time and even more down at the store if we need them.” Ben hoped he sounded reassuring to his son, because he wasn’t sure he believed his own words.

 

Amazon

 

About Bruno Miller:

 
Bruno Miller is the author of the Dark Road series. He’s a military vet who likes to spend his downtime hanging out with his wife and kids, or getting in some range time. He believes in being prepared for any situation.

 

Website | Facebook

Monday, May 21, 2018

Hunter and Hunted (In Love and War, Book 9) by Cora Buhlert

Release date: May 11, 2018
Subgenre: Space Opera Romance, Cozy Space Opera

About Hunter and Hunted:

Once, Anjali Patel and Mikhail Grikov were soldiers on opposing sides of an intergalactic war. They met, fell in love and decided to go on the run together.

Now Anjali and Mikhail are trying to eke out a living on the independent worlds of the galactic rim, while attempting to stay under the radar of those pursuing them.

On their way back from a mission, Anjali and Mikhail are ambushed by a squad of bounty hunters. Wounded and hunted through a frozen landscape, they find shelter in a mountain lodge.

But their pursuers are still out there, tracking them. And with Anjali too injured to fight, Mikhail must face down seven bounty hunters on his own…

This is a novella of 21000 words or approx. 75 print pages in the "In Love and War" series, but may be read as a standalone.


Excerpt:

 

I. Snow Ride

pinstripe
A ground glider shot across the snow-covered surface of the independent rim world of Harketon, en route from the luxury resort of Furuholmen back to the planet’s main spaceport.
The glider was small, a two-seater. Beneath the transparent canopy, the passengers, a man and a woman, sat huddled together in forced proximity. Not that either of them minded. After all, they’d spent the better part of the last year in close proximity, so that by now it was no longer forced, even if it had started out as less than voluntary.
The man was tall, with pale skin, striking blue eyes and long dark hair that he wore tied back into a ponytail at the nape of his neck. He was clad all in black, a bright blue scarf the only flash of colour. This was Captain Mikhail Alexeievich Grikov, formerly of the Republican Special Commando Forces, now wanted as a deserter and traitor.
The woman by his side was a good head shorter, with brown skin, dark eyes and glossy black hair that fell down her back in gentle waves. She was clad in grey utility pants and a light blue sweater, topped with a shawl in a somewhat darker tone of blue. This was Lieutenant Anjali Patel, formerly of the Imperial Shakyri Expeditionary Corps, now also wanted as a deserter and traitor.
Almost a year ago now, Anjali and Mikhail had met during a mission. And even though their respective governments were at war with each other and had been for eighty-eight years now, Anjali and Mikhail fell in love and decided to run away together, leaving behind the only lives they’d ever known. They’d fled to the independent worlds on the galactic rim, eking out a living as mercenaries, doing any odd jobs that required their particular skills. And today, one of those jobs had brought them to Harketon.
The mission in question was a simple courier job. Deliver a sealed box containing some data crystals to a man called Norland, who was currently on vacation in Furuholmen, on behalf of a smuggler captain called Pekkalainen and return to Pekkalainen’s ship, the Jewel of Leskinen, in under ninety-six hours. All expenses paid, no questions asked. As jobs went, this one was as good as it got.
“Now that…” Anjali remarked, “…was almost too easy. Especially since we’ve still got…” She checked her wrist unit. “…almost forty-four hours until the Jewel of Leskinen leaves port.”
Mikhail briefly looked up from the controls. He was flying, because he had more experience with this particular glider model, a Republican manufactured Astral Avalanche.
“Would you rather have something go wrong?” he asked.
“No, but we could’ve spent another night in Furuholmen, especially since the client is paying all our expenses.”
Mikhail flashed her a quick smile. “Yes, the those thermal baths and the sauna were really nice.”
“Though they would have been even nicer without potbellied gangsters,” Anjali said with a shudder. Cause Norland, the recipient of the data crystals, was not the sort of person you wanted to see dressed only in a towel.
“But actually, I was thinking more of the hotel room…” she added, “…and particularly of the bed.”
By now, Anjali and Mikhail were both used to living and sleeping rough. After all, they’d been on the run for the better part of a year now and soldiers for most of their lives before that. That meant hard bunks, cramped barracks, tiny cabins or sometimes just a rough shelter and a sleeping bag on the ground.
Most of the time, Anjali did not mind. This was the life she’d chosen for herself, after all. But nonetheless, she appreciated a proper bed with a good mattress, fluffy pillows and a soft blanket on occasion. And the bed in the hotel room they’d shared in Furuholmen had all that and more.
Mikhail’s smile broadened, while his cheeks flushed ever so slightly. “Yes, that bed was… very nice indeed.”
Anjali reached out, her hand brushing against his. “And we put it to some very good use, didn’t we?”
Mikhail smiled at the memory and focussed his full attention on the controls again, as he piloted the glider through a narrow and winding canyon.
After a few kilometres, the canyon ended and the glider shot out onto a pleasant snow-covered slope lined with clusters of bluish trees.
“I’ve been thinking,” Mikhail said, “Maybe, once we’ve made it back to the ship and collected the rest of our payment, we could check into a hotel at the spaceport for a few nights. A proper hotel and not one of the flophouses we normally use.”
“Sounds tempting.” And it did. “But we don’t have the money for this. We need new power-packs and grenades and ammo for my Marcasona Mark IV sniper rifle and nano booster shots and…”
Mikhail put his hand on top of Anjali’s, silencing her. “I know. I just want to do right by you, want to give you the life you deserve, at least for a little while.”
“It’s all right. I have everything I could ever want.” Though a big soft bed now and then would be nice.
“Maybe, when once we’ve gotten all the supplies we need and we still have some money left over, we could check into a nicer hotel for a night or two,” Mikhail said.
Anjali did not reply, because at just this moment something attracted her attention. A gleam in a copse of trees, like sunlight striking the sight of a rifle.
“Mikhail…”
Barely a second later, the drive exploded and the glider spiralled out of control straight into a snowdrift.


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About the In Love and War series:

 

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.

 

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Sunday, May 20, 2018

SFF Book Bonanza 99 Cent Promo


Dean F. Wilson is running a 99 cent cross promo for science fiction and fantasy novels. There are more than 60 books in various subgenre available for 99 cents each.

The promo runs from May 21 to May 27, i.e. all week. 

It's the ideal way to fill up your e-reader and virtual TBR pile and discover some new authors and series to love. 

For a list of participating books click here!