Sunday, February 18, 2018

Now Reduced: Addict (The Cassie Tam Files, Book 1) by Matt Doyle

 Release date: May 8, 2017
Subgenre: Science fiction mystery,  Cyberpunk

About Addict:

New Hopeland was built to be the centre of the technological age, but like everywhere else, it has its dark side. Assassins, drug dealers and crooked businessmen form a vital part of the city’s make-up, and sometimes, the police are in too deep themselves to be effective. But hey, there are always other options …

For P.I. Cassie Tam, business has been slow. So, when she’s hired to investigate the death of a local VR addict named Eddie Redwood, she thinks it’ll be easy money. All she has to do is prove to the deceased’s sister Lori that the local P.D. were right to call it an accidental overdose. The more she digs though, the more things don’t seem to sit right, and soon, Cassie finds herself knee deep in a murder investigation. But that’s just the start of her problems.

When the case forces Cassie to make contact with her drug dealing ex-girlfriend, Charlie Goldman, she’s left with a whole lot of long buried personal issues to deal with. Then there’s her client. Lori Redwood is a Tech Shifter, someone who uses a metal exoskeleton to roleplay as an animal. Cassie isn’t one to judge, but the Tech Shifting community has always left her a bit nervous. That wouldn’t be a problem if Lori wasn’t fast becoming the first person that she’s been genuinely attracted to since splitting with Charlie. Oh, and then there’s the small matter of the police wanting her to back off the case.

Easy money, huh? Yeah, right.



I always did like Venetian blinds. There’s something quaint about them in a retro-tacky kinda way. Plus, they’re pretty useful for sneaking a peek out the front of the building if I feel the need. That’s something that you just can’t do with the solid, immovable metal slats that come as a standard in buildings these days. That said, a thick sheet of steel is gonna offer you a damn sight more security than thin, bendable vinyl, so I keep mine installed. Just in case.
Another round of knocking rattles the front door, louder this time than the one that woke me.
The clock says 23:47, and the unfamiliar low-end car out front screams “Don’t notice me, I’m not worth your time,” which makes for the perfect combo to stir up the paranoia that the evening’s beer and horror-film session left behind. This is my own fault. My adverts are pretty descriptive in terms of telling what I do: lost pets, cheating partners, theft, protection, retrieval of people and items, other odds and sods that the city’s finest won’t touch…I’ve got ways to deal with it all. That’s right, I’m a real odd-job gal. The one thing that I don’t put in there are business hours. The way I see it, even the missing pet cases usually leave me wandering the streets at half-past reasonable, so what’s the point in asking people to call between certain hours?
More knocking, followed this time by the squeak of my letter box and a voice. “Hello? Cassandra Tam?”
It’s funny, really. For all the tech advances that the world has made, no one has been able to improve upon the simple open-and-shut letter box. I stumble my way through the dark and wave dismissively at the frosted glass. The light switch and the keypad for the door lock are conveniently placed right next to each other on the wall to the right of the door, so welcoming my apparent guest is a nice, easy affair. The lock clicks a moment after the lights flood the room, and I pull the door open.
“Cassie,” I say, turning and skulking my way back into the room. “Or Caz. Drop the Tam.”
I hear a sniff behind me, and the lady from the letter box asks, “Are you drunk?”
“If I pass out in the next five minutes, then yes,” I reply, turning the kettle on. I’d left it full, ready for the morning, but I guess this is close enough. “Take a seat at the table. Would you prefer tea or coffee? I’d offer beer, but since I reek of it, I guess I must’ve finished it.”
Footsteps creep unapologetically across the room, and a chair squeaks on the floor. Good. If you can’t deal with a snarky response to something, don’t say it all, and if you can deal with it, then as far as I’m concerned you don’t need to apologise.
“Coffee,” the lady says. “So, do you always see potential clients in your underwear, or is it just my lucky day?” Her voice has a slightly playful edge to it, but with a sarcastic kick to round it off.
The business portion of my apartment comprises entirely of a small open-plan room separating my kitchen from my living room. And by open plan, I mean an allotted space that encroaches on both territories but is conveniently large enough to house what I need. Or, in other words, a table, four chairs, and nothing else. Since filing went near entirely digital, filing cabinets have pretty much become obsolete, so the two that I found dumped outside the building when I bought the place currently live in my bedroom, and contain a mix of quick access work stuff and personal files I’d rather not have floating on the net. Most things, though, I store electronically, the same as everything else.
I rarely use the business table to eat, read, or any of that junk, so until this evening it’s been entirely empty for a good few weeks. The lady sitting there now is studying me, I can see, and probably wondering if this was a mistake. Whatever she may have expected, a Chinese-Canadian gal of average height in a cami top and a loose pair of sleep shorts most likely wasn’t it. For what it’s worth, though, I’m studying her just the same. She’s a lithe-looking thing, dressed in a casual pair of jeans and a plain black fitted top under a leather jacket. If the metal plugs running down her shaven head like a shiny, rubber-tipped Mohawk weren’t a giveaway for what she is, the light scarring punctuating the outer edges of her pale blue eyes certainly would be. She’s a Tech Shifter, and like most of her ilk, she looks like a punk rocker gone cyborg.


Now only 2.99 USD at

Amazon | Nine Star Press


About Matt Doyle:

Matt Doyle lives in the South East of England and shares his home with a wide variety of people and animals, as well as a fine selection of teas. He has spent his life chasing dreams, a habit which has seen him gain success in a great number of fields. To date, this has included spending ten years as a professional wrestler, completing a range of cosplay projects, and publishing multiple works of fiction.

These days, Matt can be found working on far too many novels at once, blogging about anime, comics, and games, and plotting and planning what other things he’ll be doing to take up what little free time he has.


Website | Facebook | Twitter | Google + | Goodreads

Friday, February 16, 2018

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for February 16, 2018

It's time for the weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with tributes to Victor Milán, Star Trek Discovery (spoilers again mostly marked, but reader beware), Black Panther, Altered Carbon, The Cloverfield Paradox 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:

Tributes to Victor Milán:

Comments on Star Trek Discovery:

Comments on Black Panther:

Comments on Altered Carbon:

Comments on The Cloverfied Paradox


Writing, publishing and promotion:




Con reports:

Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends:

Monday, February 12, 2018

Blank Tapes Volume 1: Weird and Dangerous Tales, edited by Paul Huxley

Release date: February 1, 2018
Subgenre: Slipstream anthology

About Blank Tapes Volume 1


'blank tapes’ brings you nine stories from the fringes of reality. Challenging, thought provoking and just plain absurd, these stories are not your regular feel-good tales. It’s their job to worm their way into your thoughts and never leave. Bold new voices bring you disturbing insights from the further reaches of the possible. Just because you’re from around here doesn’t mean that you’re not alien.

Red Arrows by Anna Cotton: When Raymond goes for a haircut he isn't the only one who's going to come out with a new look.
Shark Girls by Dermot Jelfs: Thoughts on the true nature of dolphins and other concerns.
Down in the Dirt by L. Tucker: Meet Colin, your kid’s new best friend.
BLOCK parts 1-3 by Paul Huxley: The boy, the businessman, the doctor and the mother. Four lives irrevocably changed by the impossible.
I Don’t Believe in Ghosts by Damn Sung: There’s something strange in this house, but who are you going to call?
Filiarch by Gareth Pale: She always tips well, but this is the last time this pizza-boy is making the delivery.
Binky by Paul Huxley: He’s such a sweet little thing, unless his master is threatened.



Had it not been raining that day there may have been some witnesses.
They would first have seen a woman cradling her pregnant belly in her arms as she ran down the neon splashed street, past the darkened shop fronts and alleyways. An observer would have caught sight of two heavy set men jogging after her some way back, their right hands under the breast of their jackets. Anyone standing on the street may have also noticed one of the thugs pull a gun with casual grace from under the crook of his arm and take aim. They certainly would have heard the shot rip through the air and the four that followed. Through the confusion and panic that gunfire causes somebody may have seen much to their surprise that the heavily pregnant woman was unhurt and had managed to escape down the subway steps. A passer-by would have seen the clouds of debris as the bullets struck the tiled walls either side of her.
But nobody was there that thick-clouded night and these events went unseen, unheard, unnoticed. Nobody saw the rain turn to steam on the hot snub-nose barrel. Nobody saw the thugs reload their weapons and slowly descend the slippery steps after their prey.
Nobody saw or heard the two shots that followed.
Jude lay on the floor of the underpass clutching a wound in her chest. Those two fuckers had got her. She'd heard several shots and felt two. One in her chest and the other... oh shit... the back of her hea-
A quiet rainy night under the streets, a pregnant woman named Jude lies still. Skull cracked and leaking consciousness fading, ebbing and dripping. Puddle of grey thought. Before the blackness came she noticed the intricate tiling on the ceiling. Blue and white tiles. And the occasional red.

Blood pooled around Jude's head like a halo and ran down the fine guttering between the tiles of the station floor. The criss-crossing red matrix spread along the platform; a map of vivid colour. Conjoined crimson cruciform tessellating in a widening pattern. A dull bass rumble and a gust of wind heralded an approaching train. The express doesn't stop at this platform at this late hour, so it continued past to its destination, oblivious to the lonely body just outside its doors.
And then Jude fell.
A vast emptiness spread around her and she tumbled into oblivion. Her senses became clear and sharp. She could see web of fine filaments below her, each spreading out from a central point as if an explosion of a million sparks had left a trace of their trajectory. It was into the mesh of silver strings that she now fell.


About Paul Huxley:

Paul Huxley was born in Northampton, England and at the age of nine, moved with his parents to the south of France where they lived for five years. It was here that he found his passion for books, having discovered an English language library tucked away in a small rural village.
Having worked in film (in which he still dabbles), with several features and shorts in production, Paul ventured into fiction.
In 2017 Paul established Twin Monocle Publishing to release new and exciting genre stories from talented writers.

He lives in Sheffield England, with Elizabeth, Harrison, Eloise and their terrible dog Milly