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


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”.



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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