Thursday, November 30, 2017

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for November 2017

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month
It’s that time of the month again, time for “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some October books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have epic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal mystery, paranormal romance, science fiction romance, space opera, military science fiction, dystopian fiction, Steampunk, alternate history, time travel, horror, witches, warlocks, a whole lot of werewolves, psychics, mindreaders, mermaids, catastrophic chupacabras, magic schools, genderneutral fairytales, void wyrms, alien invasions, clockwork boys, clockwork samurai, possessive tigerlords, zombies, space pirates, guardians, empowered outlaws and much more.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

Aspiria Rising by Douglas BartonAspiria Rising by Douglas Barton:

Persecuted and Forced to Rebel against the Meritocracy

Like most people on his world, Dominy worships the ground scientists walk on. He can't wait to work with the brightest minds in the galaxy at Aspiria, the intellectual capital of civilization. Unfortunately, many of them are disappearing.

Desperate to solve the mystery, Dominy recruits a band of fellow academic trainees. Together they set out on a manic journey through deserted basements, forgotten particle accelerators, and jam-packed futuristic stadiums.

When they uncover a shocking conspiracy, Dominy realizes he may hold the key to keeping civilization alive. With time ticking away, he confronts the capital's leadership only to discover a madman is involved in an unimaginable galactic plot.

Aspiria Rising is a utopian sci-fi thriller for the ages. If you like mystery, heart-pounding suspense, and a touch of quirky romance, then you'll love Douglas Barton's debut novel.

Forgotten Relics by Cianien BloodstoneForgotten Relics by Cianien Bloodstone:

Rei had lost it all: her family, a safe home, and, most important, her freedom.

Despite all odds, she managed to escape and make her life among the stars. It's not easy to be a fugitive of the largest galactic power ever known. Making a living requires being flexible, and not particularly caring for things like laws or rights of property.

Even in her new life the ghosts of Rei's past refuse to leave her in peace. She's been changed by her captivity in more ways than one and the mysteries abound. There are untold questions that demand answers, but the only way she can find out the truth is to start back at the beginning

To complicate matters, she is approached to stop her old enemies from retrieving priceless artifacts of untold knowledge. The idea is as murky as they come but they have to take the chance. Even if it might cost her crew dearly.

A Mess of Arms and Legs and Limbs by Cora BuhlertA Mess of Arms and Legs and Limbs by Cora Buhlert:

Humanity thought they were alone in the universe. They were wrong.

When aliens attack Hyams II, a small mining colony on the galactic rim, all that stands between the attackers and the terrified civilian population are a handful of underpaid and underequipped security guards.

However, two of those guards, Cally and Matt, use all their skills and their knowledge of the colony's layout to fight back and hold the invaders at bay. And in the process, they also manage to uncover the biggest secret of all: Why are the aliens attacking human outposts at all?

This is a short science fiction story of 6500 words or approximately 25 print pages.

Walking on Knives by Maya ChhabraWalking on Knives by Maya Chhabra:

The little mermaid has no idea that as she makes her way on land, she's being watched over by the sister of the very witch with whom she made her bargain. She has no idea that the witch's sister is falling in love with her.

When the prince decides to marry another woman, the little mermaid's secret helper offers her a chance to live. But the price may be too high...

Content warning: Walking on Knives contains some explicit content and opens with a disturbing scene of dubious sexual consent.

The Flying Glass by E.M. CooperThe Flying Glass by E.M. Cooper:

Marnie Speck arrives at her new foster home in Downfell, Northern England with her crusty social worker, Miss Baxter. Marnie guards a rose-covered case with hidden secrets and the only link to her past and future. A telescope, old glass and a strange librarian unleash the potential of a new and extraordinary life far away at the Fanglewick School of Magic in the Old World. But first Marnie must find a way to cross the demonic halo like aspiring young wizards, witches and elves have for centuries.

In a strange but beautiful landscape inhabited by haughty wizards, ratbag witches and ambitious elves, Marnie fights for a place in Fanglewick, where magic begins and ends. The school sits on the repository of magic and flows through Shining Lake and beyond to the multiverse. Over time, Fanglewick has lured heroes, kings, queens and dark beasts. Wizards, goblins and their dragon-riding armies have waged terrible wars to possess and control its treasure. For now there is peace, yet there are rumblings in the Imporium where scheming wizards and elves work in the magical government and a new presence is lurking in the forests and grounds of Fanglewick.

Out of Fire by Jonathan CrockerOut of Fire - Hummingbird, Book 1 by Jonathan Crocker:

At sixteen years old, Deacon Barnes had spent his entire life on the dusty moon of Ophelia, on the outskirts of Republic territory. The son of a farmer, Deacon’s lazy days are spent dreaming of adventure, of escaping his dreary life and visiting distant stars. That dream becomes reality, but hardly in the way he expected. It comes in the dark of night, in the form of fire. Flames bathe his home, his moon attacked by a powerful and mysterious alien race known only as the Ethereals. He’s left for dead, the lone survivor of a brutal massacre.

A chance encounter with the entrancing Diera Hawk, notorious smuggler and captain of the Hummingbird, gives Deacon a second chance at life – and the adventure he’s always dreamed of. But is Deacon cut out for the life of a rogue? And when Diera turns her focus to chasing rumours of the Ethereals across the galaxy - and beyond - can the crew of the Hummingbird stand against the might of the powerful aliens?

The Neptune Contingency by Benjamin DouglasThe Neptune Contingency by Benjamin Douglas:

You can take the man out of the war, but not the war out of the man.

Gavin Dolridge has a problem. And no matter how long he lays low farming potatoes on his family farm hab on Pluto, his knowledge of the Council's secrets isn't going away. He's got a target on his back, and his only choice may be to run or die.

The enemy of my enemy...

Ada Xander is in over her head. After leaving the Colonies to track down her father, she's fallen in with pirates, a massive organized crime syndicate, and a rogue Colonial battleship whose captain and crew have their own ideas when it comes to diplomatic solutions. But when a massive force of AI-controlled drones begins leaving a trail of death in its wake, all bets are off, and all the chips are on the table.

Can Dolridge stay alive long enough to make amends for his silence? Will Ada survive the battle-torn inner system and come any closer to finding what she seeks?

The Neptune Contingency is the third book in the Starship Fairfax series, and picks up where The Hidden Prophet left off.

Void Wyrm by Chris FoxVoid Wyrm by Chris Fox:

A Suicidal Quest Into the Umbral Depths

Major Voria stands ready to accept the cost for her actions at Marid. Stripped of command and resources, Voria must find a ship and rally a crew. Somewhere within the Umbral Depths lays a hidden world, a world that the dead god Marid intended her to find.

Aran faces a choice. Halt his war mage training, and in the process give up clues to his past, or abandon Voria. Aran sacrifices everything to follow Voria on a suicidal quest into the one place where even gods fear to tread.

On a bleak world in the deepest darkness lays an object of enormous power, one that could turn the tide of the war against Krox. But Voria isn't the only one seeking the weapon. The great Void Wyrm Khalahk has vowed to hunt Voria, and will see her dead even if it means following her into the Umbral Depths themselves.

All while the dreadlord Nebiat makes herself at home on Shaya, binding the souls of its leaders.

Blade and Rose by Miranda HonfleurBlade and Rose by Miranda Honfleur

A kingdom in turmoil or the love of her life. Which one will she save?

Elemental mage Rielle hasn't heard from her best friend in far too long. Yet no one at the Tower of Magic seems to care about Olivia's silence, or the curtain of secrecy surrounding the distant capital. Before Rielle can investigate, she's assigned a strange new mission: escort a knight named Jon across the kingdom.

When whispers reveal mercenaries have killed the king, taken the capital, and that no one is coming to help, Rielle can't leave Olivia in peril. But as infamous mages and deadly assassins hunt Jon, she can't leave him unprotected either--especially as she finds herself falling for his strength, his passion, and his uncompromising goodness. Her past returns to haunt her, a werewolf stalks their steps, and an ancient evil is gathering, yet the restraints forbidding their love strain and snap one by one.

Saving Olivia and the kingdom means defying orders and sacrificing her every ambition, and could mean losing the man who's become so much more to her than a mission. Which will she choose: her best friend and the kingdom, or the love of her life?

Clockwork Boys by T. KingfisherClockwork Boys by T. Kingfisher:

A paladin, an assassin, a forger, and a scholar ride out of town. It’s not the start of a joke, but rather an espionage mission with deadly serious stakes. T. Kingfisher’s new novel begins the tale of a murderous band of criminals (and a scholar), thrown together in an attempt to unravel the secret of the Clockwork Boys, mechanical soldiers from a neighboring kingdom that promise ruin to the Dowager’s city.

If they succeed, rewards and pardons await, but that requires a long journey through enemy territory, directly into the capital. It also requires them to refrain from killing each other along the way! At turns darkly comic and touching, Clockwork Boys puts together a broken group of people trying to make the most of the rest of their lives as they drive forward on their suicide mission.

A Fire in the Heavens by Mary Robinette KowalA Fire in the Heavens by Mary Robinette Kowal:

On a tidally locked world, Katin is aboard a ship fleeing from religious persecution in her homeland. Her people worship the seven-sisters, a group of dieties that resides in the night sky and are visible as a tight cluster of stars. This exploration ship has sailed farther West than anyone has sailed before. Some think that they will sail off the edge of the world, but she is confident that the ancient stories of a land far to the West are true. She dismisses the tales that accompany the stories of light in the night sky called “the moon” as exaggerated superstition.

Until they sail over the over the curve of the world and sees the moon for the first time.

The Chupacabra Catastrophe by Amanda M. LeeThe Chupacabra Catastrophe by Amanda M. Lee:

Charlie Rhodes has a new life and it’s not exactly what she thought it would be.

She’s psychic, telekinetic and eager to learn from her knowledgeable co-workers at The Legacy Foundation. She’s also nervous, frightened and on edge … mostly because she’s exactly the sort of oddity the group is looking to study and she’s desperate to keep her secret from the very people who are searching for her.

When word comes down that a chupacabra may have been sighted in Texas – perhaps even killing a man in an old abandoned mining town – Charlie is eager to show her worth. She’s part of the first team that descends on Hooper’s Mill, and there’s definitely an air of danger lingering over the town.
Charlie can feel it. She can sense … something. It’s lurking in the town and watching. Unfortunately for Charlie, she can’t get a handle on whether she’s looking for a human or animal. She just knows that it’s dangerous … and it wants to kill anyone who crosses its path.

When one member of the team goes missing, Charlie realizes she’s running out of time to solve a mystery in the present that has ties to the past. All the while she’s trying to ensure her own future as the jaws of death – in the form of a mythical creature – snap at her heels.

It’s all hands on deck for another adventure, and this time the stakes might be so high not everyone survives.

Clockwork Samurai by Jeannie LinClockwork Samurai by Jeannie Lin:

The Gunpowder Chronicles continue as a woman left adrift by a dynasty in decline attempts to reclaim her family’s honor…

Appointed to the Court of Physicians, Jin Soling can see that the newly-crowned Emperor is cracking, relying on opium to drown his troubles. The Qing Empire is failing, and war with the British is imminent, but the man to whom Soling was once engaged has a bold idea to save it.

A leader within the Ministry of Engineering, Chen Chang-wei suggests an alliance with the isolated island empire of Japan, whose scientists claim to have technical advancements that could turn the tide of the war.

Seeking to escape the politics of the imperial court, Soling arranges her own passage on the airship to Japan. But once they land, Chang-wei and Soling become targets of the shogunate’s armored samurai assassins. Caught in an age-old battle between feudal tradition and innovation, and stranded in a land distrustful of foreigners, Soling and Chang-wei must find a way to fight back against the Western invaders—with the survival of both Qing Empire and the island nation of Japan at stake.

Taken by the Tigerlord by Kara LockharteTaken by the Tigerlord by Kara Lockharte:

He loved, lied, then left her.
Now she's supposed to marry him?!

Newly disowned princess Seria is tired of shifters trying to control her destiny. All Seria wants is to return to the orderly librarian life she had before scheming royals got involved in her future. But when she inadvertently becomes a political pawn trapped in marriage to the handsome oversexed tigershifter who betrayed her, it will take all of her resourcefulness to fight her true desires...

Destiny says she's his.
And that he will cause her death.

Tigerlord Kai of the House of Stargazer has always known he was destined to die a hero. But when a power play for his position drops his luscious fated mate into his inner sanctum, Kai realizes Seria's crucial role in his doomed destiny. Saving the universe will require sacrificing not only his life, but also hers. It’s a fate he’ll do anything to change, even if it costs him her love…

You can’t fight fate…unless you’re a Tigerlord…..

A Mind Reader's Christmas by Al MacyA Mind Reader's Christmas by Al Macy:

Eric Beckman, a mind-reading private investigator, is spending Christmas in snowy Vermont with his wife and daughter. He needs a break from solving cases, but the townspeople convince him to look into the village mystery: Every holiday season, someone switches the baby Jesus with one of the other figures in the town's Nativity scene.

With the help of his ten-year-old daughter, also a mind reader, he soon learns that some of the residents of the small town are not who--or even what--they seem to be. There's something supernatural going on in Newburn, Vermont.

His investigation causes an escalation of strange happenings, and soon, swapped manger figures are the least of the town's worries. If Beckman can't adjust his view of the world--force himself to believe in things he never thought possible--the Christmas vacation could turn out to be his family's last.
A Mind Reader's Christmas may be read as a standalone book or as Book Four in the Eric Beckman series.

Forget the Alamo by Drew McGunnForget the Alamo! by Drew McGunn:

After the explosion, Will didn’t expect to wake up again, especially in the past. Alive is good. Except he finds himself at the Alamo in 1836 in the body of another man doomed to die. If history repeats itself, Santa Anna is coming soon and the Alamo will fall, along with himself and 189 others.

In a race against time itself, Will uses his knowledge of the future to change the past. He will use every means necessary, even if it means abandoning the fort.

He is determined to forget the Alamo!

Magically Bound by Rachel MedhurstMagically Bound by Rachel Medhurst:

Witch, Warlock, Whatever…

My name’s Devon Jinx, and, yes, I’m half warlock, half witch. But I couldn't care less about which kind of magic is better. All I want to do is keep my head down and get on with my new job as an investigator at the Hunted Witch Agency.

A recent, shall we say, mistake, has put me in place to inherit the leadership of the warlocks. Which means only one thing. I have a choice to make: Leave behind my life of witchery to become a warlock, or lose my warlock magic forever.

Complicating my choice is the fact that someone is trying to destroy the warlock coven. If I don't stop them, the warlocks will be annihilated. The task seems impossible until Gerard Freshwater, a distractingly handsome witch, explodes into my life. He's determined to make me see that being a witch isn't just the best option, but the only option.

Robin and Jamie by Lorri MoultonRobin and Jamie by Lorri Moulton:

Action, adventure, magic and romance. An ancient curse has returned to the lands and Robin and Jamie must help a fractured group of heroes reunite. Only by working together to solve an age-old prophecy, can they stop an evil sorceress and Lord of the North.

I started writing Robin and Jamie as an experiment. What can we do in a book that would not be possible in a TV show or movie? Never tell the reader if the main characters are men or women. I wanted to make the two main characters (and one of the water fairies) known for what they believed in, what class they came from, why they were fighting, how they fought, what their alliances might be...everything except whether they were the guy or the gal. I've always loved fairytales (alright, and the dresses) but it seems very impractical to be running around in the forest wearing one. I hope you enjoy the story!

Where Nightmares Come From, edited by Joe Mynhardt and Eugene JohnsonWhere Nightmares Come From: The Art of Storytelling in the Horror Genre, edited by Joe Mynhardt and Eugene Johnson:

WHERE NIGHTMARES COME FROM
THE ART OF STORYTELLING IN THE HORROR GENRE

Book one in Crystal Lake Publishing’s The Dream Weaver series, Where Nightmares Come From focuses on the art of storytelling in the Horror genre, taking an idea from conception to reality—whether you prefer short stories, novels, films, or comics.

Featuring in-depth articles and interviews by Joe R. Lansdale (Hap & Leonard series), Clive Barker (Books of Blood), John Connolly (Charlie Parker series), Ramsey Campbell, Stephen King (IT), Christopher Golden (Ararat), Charlaine Harris (Midnight, Texas), Jonathan Maberry (Joe Ledger series), Kevin J. Anderson (Tales of Dune), Craig Engler (Z Nation), and many more.

The full non-fiction anthology lineup includes:
Introduction by William F. Nolan
IT’S THE STORY TELLER by Joe R. Lansdale
A-Z OF HORROR of Clive Barker
WHY HORROR? by Mark Alan Miller
PIXELATED SHADOWS by Michael Paul Gonzalez
LIKE CURSES by Ray Garton
HOW TO GET YOUR SCARE ON by S.G. Browne
STORYTELLING TECHNIQUES by Richard Thomas
HORROR IS A STATE OF MIND by Tim Waggoner
BRINGING AN IDEA TO LIFE by Mercedes M. Yardley
THE PROCESS OF A TALE by Ramsey Campbell
GREAT HORROR IS SOMETHING ALIEN by Michael Bailey
A HORRIFICALLY HAPPY MEDIUM by Taylor Grant
INTERVIEW WITH JOHN CONNOLLY by Marie O’Regan
THE STORY OF A STORY by Mort Castle
WRITING ROUNDTABLE INTERVIEW with Christopher Golden, Kevin J. Anderson, and Silvia Moreno-Garcia
HOW I SPENT MY CHILDHOOD LOOKING FOR MONSTERS AND FOUND POETRY INSTEAD by Stephanie M. Wytovich
BITS AND PIECES INTERVIEW WITH JONATHAN MABERRY by Eugene Johnson
THE REEL CREEPS by Lisa Morton
THE MONSTER SQUAD by Jess Landry
WHAT SCARES YOU by Marv Wolfman
PLAYING IN SOMEONE ELSE’S HAUNTED HOUSE by Elizabeth Massie
CREATING MAGIC FROM A BLANK PIECE OF PAPER: Del Howison interviews Tom Holland, Amber Benson, Fred Dekker, and Kevin Tenney
Z NATION: HOW SYFY’S HIT SHOW CAME TO LIFE by Craig Engler
LIFE IMITATING ART IMITATING LIFE: FILM AND ITS INFLUENCE ON REALITY by Jason V Brock
WHERE NIGHTMARES COME FROM by Paul Moore
STEPHEN KING AND RICHARD CHIZMAR DISCUSS COLLABORATING by Bev Vincent
CHARLAINE HARRIS DISCUSSES STORYTELLING by Eugene Johnson
WHAT NOW? by John Palisano

Enslaved by D. Robert PeaseEnslaved by D. Robert Pease:

A mother’s secret. A son’s destiny.

Can humanity be delivered from certain extinction?

Cosette Sinclair, pregnant with an illegal second child, makes a discovery that will change the course of humanity. While on assignment to find a habitable planet for mankind’s first colony, she witnesses a tear in space—a gateway for a devastating alien invasion. Now she’s faced with the heart-wrenching choice between saving her unborn child and saving the world.

Moshie lives in a culture that prizes competition above all else. His mother raises him to dominate every creature he encounters. As Moshie trains for the day when he will rule an ancient alien civilization, a whisper in the young man’s mind calls him to something greater. Can he put aside a lifetime of striving for power and heed the cry to save those he despises the most?

She has one chance to save the human race. He has one chance to save himself. Both learn that trusting their long-hated enemies might be their only chance of survival.

Enslaved is the first book in the “Exodus Chronicles,” a captivating saga of humanity’s final struggle. If you like action-packed adventure, complex characters, and alien worlds, then you’ll love D. Robert Pease’s imaginative interstellar homage to the Book of Exodus.

The Year of the Knife by G.D. PenmanThe Year of the Knife by G.D. Penman:

Agent "Sully" Sullivan is one of the top cops in the Imperial Bureau of Investigation. A veteran witch of the British Empire who isn’t afraid to use her magical skills to crack a case. But Sully might need more than a good education and raw power to stop the string of grisly murders that have been springing up across the American Colonies. Every one of them marked by the same chilling calling card, a warning in the form of a legion of voices screaming out through the killers' mouths: “It IS tHe YEAr oF the KNife.”

Sully’s investigation will drag her away from the comforts of home in New Amsterdam, the beautiful but useless hyacinth macaw that used to be her boss, and the loving arms of her undead girlfriend, in a thrilling race against time, demonic forces and a shadowy conspiracy that will do anything to keep its hold on power and ensure that Sully takes their secrets to her grave, as soon as possible.

G.D. Penman’s imaginative The Year of the Knife is a fun, fast-paced urban fantasy mystery with an engaging set of characters, most notably Agent Sully of the Imperial Bureau of Investigation.

Evolution's Child by Dean RencraftEvolution's Child by Dean Rencraft:

The government is playing a dangerous game. Using human and animal genomes to force evolutionary changes, they expand their project into the real world, unleashing a pathogen containing an entirely new set of complications for the world.

Seventeen year old Wren Shaffer is disenchanted with the world's decreasing values and the utterly fake nature of high society. Having reaped the consequences of speaking out once before, now she hides behind a pretty mask of lies, counting the days until her eighteenth birthday.

Coming back from vacation with her disinterested and self-involved mother, Wren is one of the 1% severely affected by the pathogen. Now, alone and increasingly afraid of the odd new feelings and abilities she can't ignore, she bonds with two of the lab's original subjects, who are determined to save her not only from her first evolution, but from her life of fake smiles and pretty pictures as well.
But the scientists are still watching and not all of the subjects are fit for society. It’s a race against time and a fight for survival and if Wren or one of her new soul-mates die, the other two won't be far behind.

Content Warning: Some explicit language and graphic violence.

Shattered Earth by Jenny SchwartzShattered Earth by Jenny Schwartz:

The scum of the galaxy are using Earth as a nuclear winter death camp. It outrages pirate captain Kohia Jekyll’s sense of justice. No one deserves to die agonizingly of radiation poisoning, especially not on the planet humanity had to evacuate seven generations ago. So Kohia intends to close the prison camp down.

She didn’t count on an infuriating shaman healer hitching a ride aboard her starship.

Nairo Bloodstone isn’t going to Earth to be a hero. He learned the hard way that when you’re a healer, doing your best for people is never enough. One miracle leads them to demand another and another. Heroes die exhausted and alone, and the galaxy continues with billions of people still clamoring for a miracle-worker to save them.

No, Nairo isn't going to Earth to be a hero. He intends to change what it means to be human.
***

"Shattered Earth" is a stand-alone novella in the Shamans & Shifters Space Opera series.

The Guardian, edited by Alasdair ShawThe Guardian: Eleven Science Fiction Stories, edited by Alasdair Shaw:

Guardians are defenders, carers and guides. Some look after individual people, others whole planets or universes, but all share a strong belief in their responsibility to protect their charges. The Guardian is an anthology of eleven science fiction short stories by writers from across the globe. It is part of the Newcomer series of scifi anthologies.

The stories are:
Awakening - Alasdair Shaw
The Lattice - Jeff Tanyard
Biting Shadow - C Gold
Gate of Dreams - Rick Partlow
The Following Star - Elizabeth Baxter
The Renewal - Zen DiPietro
Stowaway - Benjamin Douglas
Baptism of Fire - Cora Buhlert
Sleeping Giant - Andrew Vaillencourt
We Have the Stars - JJ Green
Warning Signs - Edward M Grant

Empowered Outlaw by Dale Ivan SmithEmpowered: Outlaw by Dale Ivan Smith:

The world believes only a handful of people can possess superpowers, but what if that is a lie?

Mathilda Brandt is one of the rare few Empowered. She’s just learned her missing sister is also one.
Even more shocking, Mat’s sister belongs to a hidden cult that believes anyone can possess a superpower, in defiance of everything known about the Empowered. If the authorities discover the cult’s whereabouts, they will end the cult and imprison anyone who has joined it.

But finding her sister and learning her secrets could destroy their family, and shatter the world forever.

Empowered: Outlaw is the third novel in The Empowered series.

Changeling's Fealty by Glynn StewartChangeling's Fealty by Glynn Stewart:

A ragged newcomer...
With a secret even he doesn't know
A backwater city...
With a countdown to an explosion no one is expecting
A secret Covenant...
And a conspiracy to break it to pieces

Jason Kilkenny is a new arrival in the Canadian city of Calgary. Unlike most newcomers, Jason isn't looking for a job in oil and gas: he's a half-fae changeling that wants to get away from the politics of the inhuman races.

He soon learns that despite being a supernatural backwater, the city is run by a near-godlike Wizard--and the shadows are full of unseen dangers. Jason's here to hide, but he finds himself called to service by Calgary's understaffed Fae Court.

As supernatural politics collide in his new home, Jason's plan to keep his head down is shattered and he finds himself testing the limits of his meager gifts. He cannot run, he cannot hide...and if he loses, he loses everything.

An Immortal Calling by Ryland ThornAn Immortal Calling by Ryland Thorn

Demon by blood. Hero by choice.

Jackson Kade is an immortal with demon blood in his veins and hate in his heart. Lennox Valdis is wild and fiery, and her demon heritage gives her a talent for magic. Together, they battle to keep the streets of New Sanctum safe from the loathsome Hell creatures that terrorize the city.

Now there is a Hell-beast on the loose that is a greater threat than anything seen in decades. Whether its presence is random or something more sinister, it will take every ounce of strength and courage they have for Jack and Lennox to defeat it. If they fail, it will cost much more than just their lives.

Can they survive its onslaught?

Tides by E.J. WenstromTides by E.J. Wenstrom

Rona didn't ask to be brought back from the Underworld, and now that she is alive again, she’s angry enough to raise hell.

It’s a good thing too, because hell is coming for her. As the realm braces for another round of wars between the Gods and the demigods, Rona’s fate is entangled with the unlikely heroes responsible for bringing her back to life: a golem marked by the Gods and a man with the touch of destiny upon him.

As this questionable duo heads out to face the unknown and stop the realm from destruction, Rona will be damned if they’re going to stop her from coming with them. Together, they embark on a quest to stop the war before it begins. For if they can’t stop the demigods, the entire middle realm of Terath will be torn apart, and everyone in their way destroyed.

But the fate of the realm isn’t the only thing Rona has to worry about, because the past she killed herself to escape is about to catch up to her again.

The Omarian Gambit by Trevor WyattThe Omarian Gambit by Trevor Wyatt:

The Earth-Sonali War has ended. Billions perished in the flames. But with peace established new enemies come to light ready to plunge the galaxy back into war…

The Terran Union cannot survive another war. Neither can the Sonali. The only path we have left is to lick our wounds. Rebuild. Recharge. We need to find a way forward. A way to avoid armed conflict A way to make sure nothing like that happens again.

Not every race agrees.

Some want war. They goad us into conflict. They seek to pit us against one another. To divide us, so that they may conquer.

It’s been three years since the war. We’ve learned our lessons. A new Galactic Council is forming. An era of cooperation and progress is at hand.

But only if we survive the coming tests. If we do, we’ll be stronger. And if we don’t?

Then this road to galactic peace will lead to interstellar war.

Of Wonder and Fear by Nicole ZoltackOf Wonder and Fear by Nicole Zoltack:

All of the entire land of Wonderland stands before me in a wild display of tradition and loyalty. Everyone is on his or her feet, stomping, cheering, and even jeering.?

The cobblestone pathway separates my people. Down the way sits Avice in an iron-wrought cage covered in flowers.

?The wretched girl in her simple dress and her terrible smile. The wicked girl and her thieving ways. The worthless girl and her betrayal, her devastation, her destruction.?

She will pay for her crimes against Wonderland.?
She will pay for being a horrific foreigner.?
She will pay dearly.?

Welcome to the wondrous land of Wonderland where an evil Alice threatens to destroy the entire realm.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Guardian: Eleven Science Fiction Short Stories, edited by Alasdair Shaw

Release date: November 26, 2017
Subgenre: Science fiction anthology

About The Guardian

 

Guardians are defenders, carers and guides. Some look after individual people, others whole planets or universes, but all share a strong belief in their responsibility to protect their charges. 

The Guardian is an anthology of eleven science fiction short stories by writers from across the globe. It is part of the Newcomer series of scifi anthologies. 

The stories are:
Awakening - Alasdair Shaw
The Lattice - Jeff Tanyard
Biting Shadow - C Gold
Gate of Dreams - Rick Partlow
The Following Star - Elizabeth Baxter
The Renewal - Zen DiPietro
Stowaway - Benjamin Douglas
Baptism of Fire - Cora Buhlert
Sleeping Giant - Andrew Vaillencourt
We Have the Stars - JJ Green
Warning Signs - Edward M Grant


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Algernon Wade and the crew of the Hansard arrive to study an abandoned colony for the Exploration Service. They find a highly advanced civilisation that met a grisly end. Their presence triggers an “Awakening”.

Rob Treutlen lives in a cage, just like everyone else on Earth. The Reptilian Empire constructed “The Lattice” around the planet, and they persistently demand more work from their captives. Rob hates it, but he has an ailing father to care for, and he can't afford to get involved with the resistance.
His father's death changes that. He seeks out the resistance and attempts to escape. It's dangerous, and his probability of success is low, but he's willing to risk it. Because having nothing left to live for makes some things worth dying for.

They say curiosity kills the cat, but what about a pup with only one life?
What starts out as a desire to see the great unknown outside the den quickly turns into more than “Biting Shadow” ever anticipated when he comes across a dying stranger who is desperately trying to pass on a ‘gift’. Now, as an unwitting host to alien technology, Biting Shadow struggles to make sense of the rapid changes made to his biology while also dealing with a hostile presence. These alterations may be the key to saving his family and even the planet, but at what cost to himself?

Andre Damiani is obsessed with finding the lost secrets of the Predecessors, thinking it will bring meaning and fulfilment to his life. When he finds the key to not just his own purpose but that of all life in the universe in a long-lost cache of ancient alien technology, he also finds it threatened by the same Corporate Council masters he’s served for decades. Damiani is forced to decide how much he’s willing to sacrifice to preserve the “Gate of Dreams” from the greed of men.

A lonely boy walks the empty corridors of a starship with only his dog for company. He guards a precious cargo: one that holds many secrets, one that only he can protect. But when “The Following Star” begins to catch the ship, he soon learns that his whole life has been a lie.

Arlen’s a trader, not a scientist. She never expected to be in a first-contact situation.
When an alien species needs her help, she discovers that there are people in the universe like nothing she ever dreamed. People who find her as unique and fascinating as she finds them. People who need her help with “The Renewal”.
Sometimes profit isn't everything.

A month ago, Ada Xander had a home, a family, and a normal life working the family mine on Cyron-2. Now she’s a “Stowaway”, sleeping standing up crammed in a smuggling cabinet on-board a pirate ship.
To survive, she’ll need to forge alliances, prove her worth, and become one of the crew. And all that assumes they won’t just space her outright if they find her.

Cadet Anjali Patel had hoped for something more exciting than guard duty for her first mission with the legendary Shakyri Expeditionary Corps, the best fighters in the Empire of Worlds.
However, this boring job quickly turns hot, when an enemy convoy comes up the mountain pass Anjali is supposed to guard. Her “Baptism of Fire” is more than she bargained for.

When a crew of desperate pirates sets down on a distant frontier world, the only thing between them and an easy payday is one old woman working the fields. But things are often not what they seem. What that woman knows makes all the difference between life and death, and a “Sleeping Giant” is stirring.

It is a foggy night in an alternate Victorian London. Eleanor, a world-famous inventor, fulfills a decades-old pact. In “We Have the Stars”, three friends meet, and the revelation that follows shatters Eleanor’s perspective on humanity and herself.

A damaged warship can’t remember much beyond its mission to defend the planet it orbits. When the Behemoth turns up and starts landing its passengers, no-one spots the “Warning Signs”.
  

Excerpt:

 

The shuttle bounced in the turbulent upper atmosphere. Algey held on to the restraints on his seat and studied Dr Oak. The older man seemed oblivious to the violent motion of the craft, focussing on his data pad.
“What do you think, Max?” asked Algey.
The doctor looked up and blinked. “Looks like a highly-developed colony, probably pre-Exodus. It’s hard to make a guess at population density when it was occupied, but given the number and size of the cities, I’d put the population in the four to five billion range. Certainly bordering on Core World status.”
“They looked pretty intact from orbit. No signs of bombardment.” Algey glanced along the row of archaeologists facing him on the other side of the compartment. “Any clues as to why it was abandoned?”
Max shook his head. “You Navy types are so impatient. I’ve not even set foot on the surface and you want answers.”
Algey bridled, almost reminding Max about his urgent demands to alter course. A couple of the security team to his right shifted in their seats, presumably feeling included in Max’s accusation.
The shuttle settled into a more smooth flight. Algey took a deep breath, pushing away his annoyance at the lead archaeologist. Being able to come on away missions like this was the biggest perk of commanding an Exploration Service ship instead of a Navy vessel and he didn’t want to waste it by getting bogged down in an argument.
“Boss,” called the pilot, his voice carrying through the open hatchway between the cockpit and the hold. “The Han confirms they’ve got us and have given clearance to land in the city.”
“Thanks,” Algey called back. “Did Lottie mention anything about the satellites?”
“She’ll send the data to your pad when she’s finished.”
“OK.” Algey drew his sidearm, checked it, and re-holstered it. The security team busied themselves readying their weapons.
Max glared at them then narrowed his eyes and pointedly looked down at his pad. Algey gave thanks that at least he wasn’t going to bring up his notion that the security team were just playing at being soldiers. The Exploration Service mandated an armed presence on all missions until such time as a complete absence of threat had been ascertained, and that was all there was to say about the matter. Most of the time, they only had to deal with fauna or the occasional aggressive flora, but from time to time they ran into raiders or people who didn’t want to be disturbed.
The shuttle broke through the cloud layer and the pilot brought them in a wide circle around the cluster of skyscrapers that marked the centre of the city. Everyone craned to see out of the windows, the petty sparring lost in the shared awe of setting eyes on a lost civilisation.
The shocking colours of the tall buildings affronted Algey’s sense of style, but there was no arguing that they were cheerful. Each tower seemed to vie with its neighbours to sport the most gaudy display; here flowers, there starships, no surface was left without a colourful coating.

 

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About Alasdair Shaw: 

I studied at the University of Cambridge, leaving with a BA in Natural Sciences and an MSci in Experimental and Theoretical Physics. My masters options included gravitational astrophysics, planetary geophysics, remote sensing and high resolution electron microscopy. I went on to earn a PGCE specialising in Science and Physics from the University of Bangor. A secondary teacher for over ten years I have plenty of experience communicating scientific ideas.
I grew up in Lancashire, within easy reach of the Yorkshire Dales, Pennines, Lake District and Snowdonia. After stints living in Cambridge, North Wales and the Cotswolds I have lived in Somerset since 2002.
I have been climbing, mountaineering, caving, kayaking and skiing as long as I can remember. Growing up I spent most of my spare time in the hills.
Landscape archaeology has always been one of my interests; when you spend a long time in the outdoors you start noticing things and wondering how they came to be there. At university I included geophysics in my options.
I am an experienced mountain and cave leader, holding a range of qualifications including ML, SPA and LCL. I am also a course director for climbing and navigation award schemes.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Year of the Knife by G.D. Penman

 Release date: November 28, 2017
Subgenre: Urban Fantasy Mystery

About The Year of the Knife:


Agent "Sully" Sullivan is one of the top cops in the Imperial Bureau of Investigation. A veteran witch of the British Empire who isn’t afraid to use her magical skills to crack a case. But Sully might need more than a good education and raw power to stop the string of grisly murders that have been springing up across the American Colonies. Every one of them marked by the same chilling calling card, a warning in the form of a legion of voices screaming out through the killers' mouths: “It IS tHe YEAr oF the KNife.”

Sully’s investigation will drag her away from the comforts of home in New Amsterdam, the beautiful but useless hyacinth macaw that used to be her boss, and the loving arms of her undead girlfriend, in a thrilling race against time, demonic forces and a shadowy conspiracy that will do anything to keep its hold on power and ensure that Sully takes their secrets to her grave, as soon as possible.

G.D. Penman’s imaginative The Year of the Knife is a fun, fast-paced urban fantasy mystery with an engaging set of characters, most notably Agent Sully of the Imperial Bureau of Investigation.

Excerpt:

 

The tunnel was pitch black and the trains weren’t running there thanks to the New Amsterdam Police Department’s order to cut the power, an emergency measure to keep Sully safe. Although safe was a relative term given that she was tracking a serial murderer through total darkness. It was a dangerous job, but one that suited Sully perfectly—certainly better than her earlier stint in the navy or the retirement in academia everyone seemed to expect from her. The subway company had made a stink about the impact the outage would have on their business, but they’d been left no choice in the matter. Besides, it was the middle of the night—not rush hour—they would survive the loss of a few hours’ worth of fares.

Sully kept her eyes down so that she wouldn’t give away her position, they were glowing a dull red, the tell-tale sign that she had conjured vision enhancing magic—in this case a modified night vision spell that allowed her to see in the sunless tunnels. She needed the element of surprise, she was in the killer’s territory now. The heat signature of a set of footprints led her along the narrow subway walkways. They were getting brighter the farther in that she traveled. The NAPD officers on the scene had warned her that there was a homeless population in the tunnels, so it was possible that she was chasing one of them instead of her killer but she doubted it. There was a certain cosmic geometry involved in magic, and once you knew how to interpret the angles, it only took simple calculations to work backward from effect to cause. Sully knew that whoever was casting the spells that had been killing citizens of New Amsterdam was doing it from down here.

The footprints were glowing brightly now—she was close. All of the creeping around, the cat and mouse nonsense—it was making Sully tense. If alchemy classes had taught her professors anything it was that there were certain substances that reacted violently under pressure, and one of those substances was Sully. She’d started the night off angry, and it had only gotten worse after dealing with the solid wall of ignorance at the NAPD. The few cops that didn’t treat her like an idiot for being a woman would treat her like an idiot for being Irish. It was enough to make anyone tetchy. Giving up any pretense of stealth, Sully shouted into the maintenance tunnel, “That trick with the trains was clever. Simple thaumaturgy, transferring the force from the train up to hit the people above. It takes a twisted kind of mind to come up with something like that. I like it.”In the tunnel ahead, purple spellfire appeared, sputtering from someone’s fingertips, presumably the killer’s. Sully's face split into a wicked grin and she dropped into a low stance.

 

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About G.D. Penman:

G D Penman writes Speculative Fiction. He lives in Scotland with his partner and children, some of whom are human. He is a firm believer in the axiom that any story is made better by dragons. His beard has won an award. If you have ever read a story with Kaiju and queer people, it was probably one of his. In those few precious moments that he isn’t parenting or writing he likes to watch cartoons, play video and tabletop games, read more books than are entirely feasible and continue his quest to eat the flesh of every living species.

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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*
 

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Robin and Jamie: An Original Fairytale by Lorri Moulton

Release date: August 14, 2017
Subgenre: Fairytale

About Robin and Jamie

 

Action, adventure, magic and romance. An ancient curse has returned to the lands and Robin and Jamie must help a fractured group of heroes reunite. Only by working together to solve an age-old prophecy, can they stop an evil sorceress and Lord of the North.

I started writing Robin and Jamie as an experiment. What can we do in a book that would not be possible in a TV show or movie? Never tell the reader if the main characters are men or women. I wanted to make the two main characters (and one of the water fairies) known for what they believed in, what class they came from, why they were fighting, how they fought, what their alliances might be...everything except whether they were the guy or the gal. I've always loved fairytales (alright, and the dresses) but it seems very impractical to be running around in the forest wearing one. I hope you enjoy the story!

Excerpt:


Prologue

A long time ago, the lands were new and green, surrounded by the bluest water imaginable.  All sorts of plant and animal life flourished on the lands and in the waters.  To the First Ones, who came to this land, it was a paradise.

For many generations, the people enjoyed long life and prosperity.  Artisans and craftspeople developed unique and beautiful methods for their work and eventually, the lovely lands were known for the wonderful items its people produced.

As the First Ones continued to live in freedom and harmony, they explored the more spiritual side of their beliefs.  They discovered that it was possible to reach a state of sublime oneness with all the plants and creatures in their lands and waters.  They slowly specialized in these various abilities as they had their arts and crafts.  For some, this ability led them to ascend to a higher plane of existence, while others chose to remain in the beautiful lands they loved.

After many, many generations, those who remained found they lived longer than their predecessors.  They were able to do more creative tasks with their new abilities, which some considered magic.  The people’s appearance changed slightly as they began reflecting these new abilities.

Far beyond their lands, there was rumor of a great lord, who envied the First Ones and their magic.  It was said that he was raising an army to take the land and the people, who dwelled there.  He also planned to learn the secrets of the plants and animals, believing they somehow held the key to the magical abilities of the inhabitants.  He would come and strip the land of everything that made it special, then bring it all back to his own kingdom.

The First Ones could have left and traveled to other places. Some even thought about following the few, who had ascended to the higher plane of existence, but that would do nothing to protect their lands and all that they loved.  So, they decided to stay and fight the lord.  They had no weapons, no defenses…only their magic.

As the lord arrived, they used their tricks and conjuring to confuse the soldiers and keep them contained to the beaches.  After many weeks, the soldiers grew tired of fighting and started to appreciate the beauty of the lands they saw.  Many left the lord as he slept, escaping to the lands beyond…and he was forced to start guarding his own men.  Those, who were loyal to him encouraged the lord to fight one final battle and defeat the magical beings, while they still had enough troops to be victorious. 

The lord had brought a lady with him, who was both beautiful and mysterious.  She was rumored to be a powerful sorceress and it was said she possessed a magic much darker than any found in this land.  The lord asked his lady for a way to defeat the First Ones and let him possess all that they had.

She told him it would cost him everything he desired, but she would do as he asked…


Amazon


About Lorri Moulton:

“You know what the issue is with this world? Everyone wants some magical solution to their problem and everyone refuses to believe in magic.”
--Lewis Carroll

Fairytales are simply stories that remind us to be our best selves. If we do this, we can be successful. Good will triumph over evil. True love is possible....and dragons can be tamed.

The need for fairytales is just as important today as it has ever been. True love is romantic, but it is also means considering what is important to someone else and when necessary, to put their needs before your own. To work together to accomplish the goals that matter to both of you. To be open to the idea that magical and miraculous things happen everyday. And to build a future that will make the world a better place, at least in your little corner of the kingdom.

So, take a step back in time and enjoy an Everyday Romance. Real life fairytales happen all the time. You just have to believe in the possibility…and look for magic in the most unexpected places.

My name is Lorri Moulton and I live on a farm in eastern Washington with my family and our five horses. I have a Master’s degree in History and grew up hearing so many wonderful stories about our own family tree. My grandparents spoke of a more simple time, when people loved each other and helped their neighbors. I hope these stories share some of that beauty of the past, with all of you.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for November 24, 2017


It's time again for a special Thanksgiving edition of our weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with Star Trek Discovery, Justice League, The Punisher, Blade Runner 2049, Future Man as well as the usual mix of awards news, writing advice, interviews, reviews, awards news, con reports, crowdfunding campaigns, science articles and free online fiction. 

Speculative fiction in general:

Comments on Star Trek Discovery:

Comments on Justice League:

Comments on The Punisher

Comments on Blade Runner 2049

Comments on Future Man

Awards:

Writing, publishing and promotion:

Interviews:

Reviews:

Crowdfunding:

Con reports:

Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends: