Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Newcomer, edited by Alasdair Shaw

Release date: November 28, 2016
Subgenre: Science fiction anthology

About The Newcomer


The world is nothing but a dry husk of itself. Jacob Heinlein has lost his home, everyone he knew, and hope. While on a journey to the mythical ocean, an unforgiving sun beating down on him, Jacob finds himself in a town with a source of fresh, clean water. However, there is a “Tithe” to pay for the privilege of staying.

In “Exodus”, the orphaned children of Old Earth are scattered across the solar system, protected from the darkness by god-like beings fashioned from lost technologies. But something has changed. Ancient rules have been broken, and after centuries of isolation one of these beings approaches Mars with overtly hostile intent. A defence must be marshalled, and the coming conflagration could result in the destruction of one of the last bastions of man.

Humanity had aimed for the stars and a glorious future in space. The alien’s arrival had tarnished that shiny dream. Now the first AIs are fully coming online, even while the government tries to block their use, and humanity is once again looking to the future. “First Bonding” tells of the illegally-created level 8 AI known as Genghis, and his reactions to an alien attack.

In “Ice Dreamer”, lab technician Prussis has dreamed all her life of reviving someone from the past. Whilst no-one understands why she keeps trying, she works long hours defrosting heads.  In her latest attempt, what happens is the last thing she expects.

Then in “The Nanny”, the first natural birth in over two hundred years brings a new life to Cardea’s family. Despite the risks, she and her husband are determined to raise a family the old fashioned way. But social habits die hard.

The war with a forgotten conqueror has been over for decades, but that doesn’t mean the Earth has recovered. Life in the American Midwest is only getting more dangerous. His town besieged by hunter-killer drones left over from the conflict, gifted high school senior Daniel Bell would give his “Right Hand” to make the Army believe that the machines are somehow not being harmed by their operations.

“What Make is Your Cat?” welcomes you to London-Atlantis where, after the tsunami, your cat has higher social status and earning power than you do, and evolution is an elite, designer trend you can’t afford to join.

Three-month-old Clem faces his first day of “Kaxian Duty” with anxiety. He is keen to find out what his assignment will be, but runs into distractions on the way to headquarters. Training will be hard. Mistakes will be punished. Oh, and his tail has a mind of its own, which doesn’t help matters any.

Ary had known he was destined to be a starship captain his whole life. After all, his mother was Captain Sandy and his father was the guy who was supposed to be Fleet Admiral. However, the prospect of attending the Spaceforce Academy was daunting. Enough to make Ary question his future. In his first few weeks there will be quite a few “Lessons Learned”.

Bounty hunter Braillen takes a new job on “The Humra” to get close to her mark. When the crew discover her identity she is whisked in front of the captain. She must face her nightmares if she wants to finish the job and realise her deepest desire.

New captains take command in a variety of situations. Sometimes the passage isn’t an easy one. In “The Hawk of Destiny’s Fist”, Asarik Leah is sent to replace ShipLord Till and lead his InquiryShip on a dangerous new mission. Tradition demands she proves herself fit to take his place.

And in our last story, newly-promoted Commander Olivia Johnson is posted to the destroyer “Repulse”. Most of the officers are dead and the remaining crewmembers are exhausted. Johnson must step up to the mark and lead them back into battle despite her personal misgivings.



“Two minutes to docking.”
Commander Olivia Johnson relished another few seconds rest, then opened her eyes and leant forward to peer into the shuttle’s cockpit. “Thank you, Lieutenant. It’s been a smooth flight.”
The pilot raised his hand in thanks.
Johnson opened up a translucent window in her inner vision, and scrolled through the standing orders she had written for her new command.
I hope Captain Jeffries won’t mind that I’ve borrowed most of his.
“Do you think it will be bad... Ma’am?”
Johnson closed the text window and focused on the sub-lieutenant strapped into the seat on the opposite side of the hold. She’d only been vaguely aware of his presence since they’d left Conqueror. He must have been about sixteen, with close-cropped hair and no hint of stubble on his chin. Fresh out of Command School.
Repulse took heavy damage,” she said. “I don’t expect it will be pretty.”
The young man frowned.
“They’ll have cleared away the bodies by now,” Johnson said, guessing his worry. “And the badly injured have been moved to other ships.”
“What happened?”
She queried his ID and a brief summary of his record appeared, floating beside his head.
“They volunteered to go in advance of the task force and nose around. When they found the Republican fleet bugging out, they realised the ships of the line wouldn’t arrive in time to catch them and decided to do some damage on their own.” Johnson paused and studied the boy’s face. “To put it simply, Mr. Hanke, the Repulse is a plucky little bulldog that bit off more than it could chew.”


“Welcome aboard the Repulse, Ma’am.”
Johnson returned the salute from the grime-streaked marine corporal, and stepped aboard. The airlock hatch closed with a dull clank. Seconds later, the Electronic Interface System grown into her brain supplied her transfer orders to the ship’s network, and status reports flooded her awareness.
“I’m sorry none of the officers are here to meet you,” the marine continued, falling into step beside her. “Those who are left are too busy supervising the refit.”
Johnson sighed internally, keeping her face and body neutral. “Understood. If you’d show me the way to the bridge, I’m sure the sub-lieutenant here will find his own way to his quarters...”
She’d memorised the layout on the shuttle trip over, but cycles of battle damage and repair often lead to changes.
I don’t think I’ve ever served on a ship where the plans matched reality.
Johnson followed the corporal through the ship, pausing occasionally to exchange encouraging words with crewmembers they met. It was impossible to miss the mixture of fatigue and pride on their faces. At one intersection, Johnson stopped to examine a recent patch on the wall, tapping a few places and scratching at the edges.
Very nicely done.
Her guide stopped by a ladder recessed into the wall. “Sorry, Ma’am, but the lift’s not been cleared by engineering yet.”
“Not a problem, Corporal. Two floors, isn’t it?”
He nodded as she grabbed hold of a rung. “At least they got the floor hatches responding to EIS again. Hand cranking them was getting rather tedious.”

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About the Authors:


This anthology was edited by Alasdair Shaw and includes stories by the following authors:
  • James S. Aaron
  • J. Naomi Ay
  • Griffin Carmichael
  • Cindy Carroll
  • Richard Crawford
  • Tom Germann
  • Jonathan C. Gillespie
  • J.J. Green
  • Laura Greenwood
  • Alec Hutson
  • Cherise Kelley
  • Alasdair Shaw

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