Friday, September 21, 2018

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for September 21, 2018

It's time for the weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with Iron Fist, The Predator, Captain Marvel, the relationship of Ernie and Bert, a Goodreads scandal, the disintegration of KBoards 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 Iron Fist:

Comments on The Predator:

Comments on the Captain Marvel trailer:

Comments on Ernie and Bert's relationship:


Writing, publishing and promotion:



Classic reviews:


Con reports:

Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends: 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Imaginary Worlds of B.R. Kingsolver: A Collection of Three First-in-Series Novels by B.R. Kingsolver

Release date: September 9, 2018
Subgenre: Urban fantasy boxset

About The Imaginary Worlds of B.R. Kingsolver:


Three new worlds. Three exciting adventures. Three first-in-series Urban Fantasy books from author BR Kingsolver. Explore three unusual imaginative worlds. Travel with a sexy telepath in a world that could be ours, a mutant thief and assassin two hundred years in the future, and an Elven witch stranded on Earth.

The Succubus Gift (Telepathic Clans #1)
Chameleon Assassin (Award winning first book in the Chameleon Assassin series)
Gods and Demons (Dark Streets #1)

The Succubus Gift - The Goddess blesses Her people with 25 Telepathic Gifts. In addition to Telepathy, the Gifts include command over Air and Fire, Telekinesis and Teleportation. Brenna’s life isn’t the same after she discovers her unusual and mysterious heritage. In addition to being a telepath, Brenna learns she has the Succubus Gift.

Chameleon Assassin - Libby is a mutant, one of the top burglars and assassins in the world. For a price, she caters to executives’ secret desires. Eliminate your corporate rival? Deliver a priceless art masterpiece or necklace? Hack into another corporation’s network? Libby’s your girl. Voted Best Contemporary/Urban Fantasy of 2017 by eFestival of Words

Gods and Demons - Life’s tough as an Elf girl stranded in Earth’s realm. When a jaguar shifter drops in out of nowhere and asks me for help in tracking down an ancient blood-magic statuette, I say no thank you. I learned a long time ago the key to survival is keeping a low profile. But it's hard to ignore an artifact of the gods powerful enough to blow holes in reality.




The Succubus Gift

By BR Kingsolver

Brenna came home from work on Friday, put her backpack on the kitchen table and went to the refrigerator to get some juice. The front door shook with a loud bang and she whirled around. Another loud bang and she saw the door frame bulge. She could feel two men outside, the ones that had followed Jared that night last summer. She glanced at the back door, but with a third bang the door frame gave way and the door fell off one hinge into the living room.
She threw up her strongest shields, becoming essentially invisible, and froze, hoping that with no movement they might not know she was there. The two men rushed into the house holding guns. One came through the living room and into the kitchen. Turning and shaking his head, he motioned the other man up the stairs. She heard him go from room to room and open the bedroom closet.
He came back down, and the man in the kitchen motioned toward the basement door. The second man cautiously opened the door and turned on the light, then descended the stairs. Frantically, Brenna looked around for a weapon. It was all fine to have a black belt, but these guys were a lot bigger than she was and they had guns.
The only thing she could see was a twelve-inch cast iron frying pan sitting on the stove. The man had his back to her, and she moved as quietly as she could to the stove and picked up the frying pan. Moving slowly, she walked up behind him, and raising it over her head with both hands swung it down on his head. It made a sound like a gong, and he fell to his knees and toppled forward to the floor.
She entered his mind, and heard the spear thread from the man downstairs. What was that sound? Getting no response, he tried verbally. “Helmut, what was that sound?” in German.
She moved to the side of the basement door as she heard him coming up the stairs. His gun was the first thing that came through the doorway, and she stepped forward and swung the frying pan like a baseball bat, catching him square in the face. He toppled backward down the stairs.
She looked down and saw him lying at the bottom, the bottom part of his body on the steps and the upper part on the basement floor. He didn’t move.
She heard movement behind her, turned and saw the first man raise himself to his hands and knees. She took two steps toward him, grabbed him by the hair and pulled his head up, then hammered her knee into his face. She heard bones crunch, and blood sprayed on her pants and across the floor. She let go of him and he fell face first to the floor.
More footsteps pounded through her front door, and she whirled, raising the frying pan then slumping with relief when she recognized Jared and Robbie, guns drawn. Jared raced into the kitchen, sparing a glance at the man on the floor, “Are you all right?” She nodded.
Robbie started up the stairs but she said, “He’s in the basement.” He turned, and cautiously approached the basement door, looking through it then clattering down the steps.
Jared lifted the first man’s head by his hair, nodded once and dropped him, then straddled him, pulling his hands behind his back and handcuffing him. He took a second set of handcuffs out and locked his feet together. He looked at the frying pan. “I need to get me one of those.”
Robbie came back into the kitchen. Jared gave him a look and Robbie just shook his head.
“What?” Brenna asked, alarmed. The look on Robbie’s face, concern for her, and his silence told her what he didn’t say. “He’s dead? Oh, no, please tell me he’s not dead!”
“I think he broke his neck when he fell.”
She turned and walked to the kitchen table, set the frying pan down, pulled out a chair and fell into it, her face in her hands. Jared went to her, putting his arm around her shoulders.
“Will they put me in jail for a long time?” she asked in a small, quiet voice. “I don’t want to go to jail.”
“You’re not going to jail Brenna,” Jared told her. “This is Clan business, no one is going to call the human authorities. Besides, you were just defending yourself.”




About B.R. Kingsolver:

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

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

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

Website | Mailing List




Monday, September 17, 2018

Collision Course (In Love and War, Book 5) by Cora Buhlert

Release date: August 29, 2018
Subgenre: Space opera, Science fiction romance

About Collision Course:


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 as mercenaries on Metra Litko, an independent world on the galactic rim, while attempting to stay under the radar of those pursuing them.

Anjali and Mikhail are working a routine bodyguard job. But things quickly go awry, when an assassin bypasses all security measures to shoot the wrong target… or does he?

Anjali and Mikhail set off in pursuit, only to find themselves confronted with a figure from Mikhail's past who could threaten their newfound freedom.

This is a novelette of 8000 words or approximately 27 print pages in the In Love and War series, but may be read as a standalone.



Mikhail walked over to the edge of the roof, put aside his rifle and sat down, armoured legs dangling over the edge of the roof. Anjali abandoned her post — not that there was much to watch anyway, since Grigorian wasn’t even here yet — and settled down next to him. And so they finished their meal in companionable silence, while casting longing looks at the Plasma Café across the street and its bright pink neon sign that promised “Tasty Doughnuts” in letters a storey high each.
“Maybe…” Mikhail said, “…when all this is over and Grigorian is safely back in his mansion again, we could go over there and have coffee and some doughnuts.”
Anjali smiled. “Doughnuts would be nice…”
Mikhail had introduced her to doughnuts shortly after they’d come to Metra Litko, amazed that Anjali had never had any, even though there was a Rajipuri pastry named balushahi that was similar. And though Anjali did not much care for either Republican cuisine or the food found on the rim, she’d nonetheless quickly fallen for doughnuts. Just as she’d quickly fallen for Mikhail.
“…but I’ll have tea.”
“Something to look forward to then,” Mikhail said, “Once this mission is over.”
On the street far below, large groundcars were floating up to the Ostrowsky Hotel to spit out men in dark suits and women in evening gowns. The guests were beginning to arrive. Though no sign of Grigorian yet.
A drop of water landed on Anjali’s nose, quickly followed by another that dripped off the sleeve of her utility jacket.
“Great. Now it’s starting to rain, too. For of course, there couldn’t be just one day without rain on this misbegotten world.”
Rain was not good during a sniper mission. It impeded visibility and could mess up the trajectory of the shot.
Beside her, Mikhail suddenly stiffened.
“What is it?” Anjali wanted to know.
Mikhail relaxed. “Nothing. I just got some kind of interference on my com implant. Apparently, it doesn’t play well with the external commlink.”
As if on cue, both their commlinks buzzed.
“Showtime,” the gravelly voice of Pavel Horacek, commander of the security team on his mission, sounded in their ears, “Grigorian is on the way.”
Anjali and Mikhail promptly sprang into action. Anjali settled herself behind her Marcasona Mark IV sniper rifle again, her gaze sweeping the street through the scope, while Mikhail adjusted his own rifle.
Through the scope of her rifle, Anjali watched Grigorian’s big groundcar float up to the entrance of the Ostrowsky Hotel, where it came to a halt. At once, several other members of the security team surrounded the car.
“All clear,” Pavel’s voice announced through the commlink.
One of the security guards opened the door. Arkady Grigorian emerged, dressed in a formal black suit. He was a bulky man with olive skin, oily dark hair and a pencil-thin moustache, whose upwards twisted ends made him look like a villain from a bad vid drama.
The guards attempted to hustle Grigorian inside, but — like so many people who hired security specialists — he completely failed to listen to them and instead insisted on lingering outside the hotel. He held out his hand to help his date for the night exit the car.
Grigorian’s plus one was a striking woman with glossy black hair swept up in the kind of hairdo that was impossible to archive without a styler. Her body was swathed in a gorgeous red gown that gave Anjali wardrobe envy. At the woman’s throat, on her ears and at her wrists glittered jewellery that looked like very much the work of a Rajipuri goldsmith. Must have been purchased at Thuzar’s House of Fine Jewellery then, cause Thuzar was the sole importer of Rajipuri jewellery here on Metra Litko, Anjali had seen the prices he charged. Grigorian was clearly generous with his gifts to his girlfriend. But then, he could afford it.
Anjali thought of the gold and garnet pendant she wore around her own neck. “Unlike us,” she thought.
“Idiot,” Pavel’s voice sounded in their ears, “Hangs out on the street to wait for his girlfriend. Even though he’s in danger and she’s perfectly safe, cause no one cares about Grigorian’s arm candy du jour.”
Once more, the security guards tried to hustle Grigorian and his girlfriend inside. And once again, there was a delay, when the heel of the woman’s shoe caught on the carpet outside the hotel.
At the edge of her field of vision, Anjali spotted a flicker of movement. She swept her scope towards the movement and relaxed, once she realised that it was only a patron exiting the Plasma Café. The man pulled up the collar of his synth-leather coat against the rain and hurried across the street.
Anjali swept her scope back towards the entrance, where Grigorian and the security team were still trying to get the shoe of his girlfriend free from wherever it had gotten stuck.
All of a sudden, the woman collapsed, a spot of darker red blossoming on her gorgeous gown. Grigorian cried out, while the security guards piled on top of both of them.
A split second later, Anjali heard the shot.
“Target down, target down,” Pavel’s voice yelled in her ear.

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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. She also runs the Speculative Fiction Showcase and the Indie Crime Scene and contributes to the Hugo-nominated fanzine Galactic Journey.


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Saturday, September 15, 2018

The Mourner's Cradle: A Widow's Journey by Tommy B. Smith

Release date: September 14, 2018
Subgenre: Horror, Dark fantasy

About The Mourner's Cradle:


The tale of a widow's harrowing journey through grief and peril into the cold remnants of a dead world.

Damon Sharpe had in part found victory, he believed, in his battle to unearth a truth obscured by time. By autumn, he was dead, leaving to his wife Anne a house of unfulfilled wishes, remnants, and the key to the enigma of his obsession, the Mourner’s Cradle.

A journey through grief and peril delivers Anne Sharpe from her home in St. Charles to the faraway skeletons of a long-dead civilization where she will find the desperate answers she seeks…or die trying.

This horror novel is perfect for fans of…
  • The Silent Corner by Dean Koontz
  • The Fisherman by John Langan
  • The Grieving Stones by Gary McMahon
  • Daphne du Maurier
  • Thomas Ligotti
  • Shirley Jackson
  • Dan Simmons

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.




She faced the black-haired man in the blue suit and locked him full in her stare. “You have no right to be here.”
Keller appeared surprised. The surprise was feigned, Anne knew. No matter what he pretended or said to the contrary, Keller knew the hardship he had inflicted.
“You did your best to destroy everything my husband worked for,” Anne said to him.
“No, Mrs. Sharpe, you have it wrong,” Keller said.
“He was my husband,” she said. “You think I don’t know what went on in his life? You think I don’t know about the things you’ve done? You’re a liar, Keller.”
Keller looked around, becoming nervous. People were staring. Tabby Reinhart, still standing near, took another step back.
“Get out of here,” Anne said to Keller. “You are not welcome here. Get out.”
“Don’t you think you’re overreacting?” he asked.
“Get out!” Her hand twisted into a fist. She swung and struck him right in the face.
Keller’s head jerked back. His face flushed crimson. He grabbed her arms and she fought him, screaming.
Arms grabbed Keller from behind and pulled him back. Tabby rushed between them, pleading quietly with Anne. Anne shoved her away. More people pulled Anne back, but she shouted and fought against them.
Keller yanked his arms free of those around him and strode for the door. At the door, he took a look back, his jaw clenched. His eyes burned with anger.
“Dear, please,” the older woman urged Anne. “It’s all right. He’s gone.”
Anne turned her eyes toward the door where Keller stood a moment before, saw the truth of the old woman’s words, and forced her mouth shut. She pushed her shaking hands down to her sides.
“Will you be all right?” another voice asked her from out of eyesight. She didn’t know who had spoken and didn’t care. She took a deep breath. With this group of people around her, she felt like she was suffocating.
“Please,” she said through her teeth. “I just need to be alone.”
The group hesitated. After a moment, someone stepped away. The rest soon followed, leaving Anne again to stand in front of her husband’s coffin, tears on her face, emotion pouring from her fractured life.
The people standing behind her still wore those masks of concern, she imagined. She couldn’t turn to face them. Not now, in her moment of weakness. They didn’t deserve to witness this, her fragility. Besides, they wouldn’t understand.
It wasn’t sadness that possessed her and hardened her face against the tears that fell. It was hatred.




About Tommy B. Smith: 

Tommy B. Smith is a writer of dark fiction and author of The Mourner’s Cradle, Poisonous, and the short story collection Pieces of Chaos. His work has appeared in numerous publications over the years, including Every Day Fiction, Night to Dawn, and the anthology Tales from The Lake Vol. 3. His presence currently infests Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he resides with his wife and cats.