Thursday, October 18, 2018

Rick or Treat (The Fae Killers, Book 3) by Jaxon Reed

Release date: October 2, 2018
Subgenre: Urban Fantasy

About Rick or Treat:

 

Rick Strickland hasn't flown a plane since he died over three centuries ago. But after being sucked into the vortex during a fae attack on Headquarters, he lands in the back of a doomed airliner bound for London crowded with helpless passengers and a poisoned crew.

He soon discovers this world is strangely different from the one he's used to. The American Revolution failed and territory east of the Mississippi remains colonized. The Republic of Texas controls land to the west and is the dominant hemispheric power. Nazi Germany controls most of Europe, but despite the date there has been no Second World War . . . yet.

Now, a plot by the Nazis on All Hallows' Eve appears imminent. Rick is alone with no outside help, and fae influence on this alternate is increasingly obvious. The Texans are locked and loaded, but they've never faced a fae before. Then, a coded message from their rarely used embassy in New York City arrives . . . and it's addressed to Rick. Can he foil the Nazi plot and turn their Halloween trick against them?

 

Excerpt:

 

An hour later, Rick stopped for breath. He gazed out at the table where the ambassador, Angela Dorn, and half a dozen top embassy personnel stared at him. Albert Einstein sat at the other end of the table, gazing calmly back.

Rick had explained everything as best he could. There were thousands of universes, he said, and his team travelled among them. Thanks to an attack on the group’s headquarters, several people were sent scattered among the alternates. That was how Rick got here, “falling into” the ambassador’s airplane. He also had no way of contacting anyone back home.

Each world deviated somewhat from Original Earth, some more than others. This world, Rick explained, deviated considerably without a United States, no Second World War (yet, at least), and a successful Nazi empire.

As he paused, he looked around the table. Angela stared back with a dubious expression on her face.

She said, “You’re asking us to believe a lot, Mr. Strickland.”

Rick raised his eyebrows in acknowledgement and said, “I know. And, I’ve got no proof to offer, either, other than my word. But, I can almost guarantee that your world is headed toward disaster. You’re way overdue for the Second World War.”

“We managed to dodge another war,” MacGraw said, “Thanks to Prime Minister Chamberlain.”

Rick said, “That just delayed the inevitable. And by letting Germany marshal its resources, the coming conflagration is likely to be worse than it would have been otherwise.”

The Texans shifted in their seats, uncomfortably. Rick suspected he hit a nerve. Perhaps it was a heated topic of conversation among them.

MacGraw turned to look at the other end of the table. He said, “What about you, Dr. Einstein? Does this notion of parallel worlds hold any scientific water?”

Einstein nodded slowly, his gaze never leaving Rick. He said, “Haf you met my doppelganger on another world, Herr Strickland? My doppelganger?”

Rick said, “Yes sir, I have.”

Und, vat vas he like?”

“Well, I didn’t really get to know him. I was too busy trying to help save him and my world’s Oppenheimer from an attempt on their lives.”

The mention of Oppenheimer raised some eyebrows around the table.

Und, vat vere ve doing, Herr Doktor Oppenheimer und myself?”

“Well, uh, Dr. Oppenheimer was deeply involved in developing our nuclear bomb program. You see, the United States won the race in developing the bomb, beating out Germany. With it, we were able to end the war in the Pacific and maintain peace in Europe for quite a while.

“As for you, you had written a letter to our President, Franklin Roosevelt, explaining that splitting an atom would indeed result in a gigantic release of energy. You assured him the research was worth pursing for military purposes. You weren’t really involved in the Manhattan Project. That’s what we called the program developing the atomic bomb. But, you were instrumental in convincing people that it was a feasible pursuit.”

A long silence followed. Finally, MacGraw cleared his throat. He pointed to a man on the other side of the table, a handsome young fellow with dark brown hair and an angular face. He wore a white lab coat with a pocket protector guarding several pens and mechanical pencils.

“Smitty, what do you think? Is this guy from another world similar to our own?”

Smitty nodded and said, “He either is, or he’s a German spy who knows everything about our most secret programs.”

“If he’s a Nazi,” MacGraw said, “why would he save me? It seems foiling a plot to take down mah flight would not be the thing for him to do.”

Smitty shrugged. “Gain our trust, I guess.”

“But you don’t really think that?”

Smitty said, “Nah. If Dr. Einstein says it’s possible, then I say he really is from a parallel world. Even though it’s hard to believe that in his world Texas would just be one state among many instead of an entire country. I find that the least believable part of his story.”

Rick said, “Texas was its own country on my world, for about seven years.”

Smitty smiled. The comment seemed to make him feel better.

 

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About Jaxon Reed:

Jaxon Reed is a science fiction and fantasy author. Amazon's digital imprint, Kindle Press, selected his book The Empathic Detective for publication through Kindle Scout. Recently the sequel, Ghostsuit, was also awarded a publishing contract through Kindle Scout. He is the author of Thieves & Wizards, an epic fantasy, and The Redwood Trilogy, a science fiction series. Jaxon is an Aggie, living in Texas on a ranch with his wife and boys, several cats, and one pound dog.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Mages' Home (Defenders of the Wildings, Book 1) by Kyra Halland

Release date: September 21, 2018
Subgenre: Weird western, Fantasy romance

About Mages' Home:

 

Once, they were hated and hunted by mage hunters and Plain folk alike. Now, former bounty hunters turned renegade mages Silas and Lainie Vendine finally have the life they dreamed of - a home and ranch of their own where they can live in peace and raise their family, and the friendship and respect of their non-magical neighbors.

When a company from across the western sea comes to Prairie Wells, bringing marvelous new inventions, Silas and Lainie figure it only means more prosperous times ahead for the town and for them - until an old and vicious hatred of mages rears its head.

As troubles stirred by unseen enemies divide the town, many of Silas and Lainie's neighbors turn on them. When danger strikes at the heart of their home and family, Silas and Lainie must fight to protect everything they love, everything they've worked for, before it's all destroyed.

If you love fantasy filled with romance and adventure in a unique setting, come join Silas and Lainie Vendine in this new tale from the Wildings.

Mages' Home is the first book of Defenders of the Wildings, a follow-up series to the western-inspired fantasy series Daughter of the Wildings. It is a self-contained series and can be enjoyed even if you haven't read Daughter of the Wildings.

Contains language, violence, and mild sensual content.

 

Excerpt:

 

(Amber Bay, Early spring)

“That is the substance?” Dorbiza asked, directing his question to the lavender-skinned man.

The native answered in perfect Chardonikan. “It is, Underministers. A gift from the P’wagimet people in exchange for the Chardonikan Union’s generous considerations in the past and in the future. This is only a sample. Greater quantities are being safely stored in the place where the weapons are being made.”

“Of course,” the wizard added, “because of the difficulties in transporting the devices, they must be manufactured much closer to the Wildings – what you call the Central Territories. And it is more convenient to have the mission’s headquarters there, as you know.”

“Excellent,” Dorbiza said, again addressing the P’wagimet man. “And this material, it works as promised?”

“It has been extensively tested, Underminister,” the wizard answered, edging yet a little further away from the box. “I think you three gentlemen and your leaders will be more than pleased. Miss Dorbiza – forgive me, Madam Commander Dorbiza – looks forward to giving you a more detailed report in person.”

Dorbiza gave him a dismissive glance. “Of course.”

Faced with the reality of the wizard before him – not a legend, not a rumor, not something out of the history books, neither an inhuman monster nor a mindless beast, but a living, breathing human being – Cajali could no longer remain silent. To speak was risky, but his conscience demanded he say something.

“Are we certain this is absolutely necessary?” he asked his colleagues, trying to say what needed to be said in a way that wouldn’t bring suspicion or censure upon himself. “It seems to me that the cost of the devices and the difficulty of making them are far greater than any benefit this tactic might provide. Even considering the generous donation of the key material by this man’s people.” He nodded to the native man.

“If you are having doubts, Mr. Cajali,” Dorbiza said mildly, “please feel free to remove yourself from this assignment and express your concerns to the High Commission.”

Fear twisted Cajali’s stomach. The images of his wife and children, who might yet be within the reach of the Commission, went through his mind. If Dorbiza sent a message accusing Cajali of being less than completely loyal, the message would take months to reach the Commission. But once such a message was on its way, the plans Cajali had made to protect his family would be greatly imperiled. For their sakes, and the sake of his plans, he must not say any more, no matter what his conscience required.

* * *
(Prairie Wells Township, Later that spring)

As Silas turned away, Lainie remembered something. “Oh, I meant to tell you, Ap got back from town a while ago. He says there’s going to be a meeting tomorrow with that new foreign company that’s come to town. They’re going to talk about what they’re doing here, that sort of thing.”

“Huh. I’ve been wondering about them, but no one seems to know anything,” Silas said. “When’s the meeting?”

“Three o’clock, at the Thirsty Cow.”

“You want to come?”

Lainie thought about it, weighing all the different demands on her time and attention. “I’ll admit I’m curious. But I figure the hands will want to go too, and if they don’t, they’ll be busy with chores. So I’ll stay with the children and you can tell me all about it when you get home.”

“I’ll do that,” Silas said, then he and his passengers headed back around the corner of the house.

Lainie watched them go, wondering what the new foreign company was planning. Whatever it was, if new companies were coming to Prairie Wells, surely that meant more prosperous times ahead for the township, and for her and Silas.

A hungry squall from Kessie and another whiff of full diaper called Lainie back to the here and now. “Come on, baby girl,” she said. “Let’s get you fixed up.”

 

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About Kyra Halland: 


Kyra Halland has always loved fantasy. She has also always loved a good love story. She combines those two loves by writing the kinds of romantic fantasy novels she loves to read, tales of magical worlds where complicated, honorable heroes and strong, smart, feminine heroines work together to save their world - or their own small corner of it - and each other.

Kyra Halland lives in southern Arizona. She's a wife, mom and mom-in-law, proud grandma, and devoted servant to three cats.



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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

In the Vanishers' Palace by Aliette de Bodard

Release date: October 16, 2018
Subgenre: Fairytale retelling

About In The Vanishers' Palace

 

From the award-winning author of the Dominion of the Fallen series comes a dark retelling of Beauty and the Beast.In a ruined, devastated world, where the earth is poisoned and beings of nightmares roam the land...

A woman, betrayed, terrified, sold into indenture to pay her village's debts and struggling to survive in a spirit world.

A dragon, among the last of her kind, cold and aloof but desperately trying to make a difference.
When failed scholar Yên is sold to Vu Côn, one of the last dragons walking the earth, she expects to be tortured or killed for Vu Côn's amusement.

But Vu Côn, it turns out, has a use for Yên: she needs a scholar to tutor her two unruly children. She takes Yên back to her home, a vast, vertiginous palace-prison where every door can lead to death. Vu Côn seems stern and unbending, but as the days pass Yên comes to see her kinder and caring side. She finds herself dangerously attracted to the dragon who is her master and jailer. In the end, Yên will have to decide where her own happiness lies—and whether it will survive the revelation of Vu Côn’s dark, unspeakable secrets...

Advance praise for In the Vanishers’ Palace
“Another stellar offering by Bodard. Her signature intensity is on display in this tale of people (and dragons) struggling to survive in the ruins of an alien conquest. Emotionally complex relationships interweave with richly drawn and deftly nuanced world-building.” —Kate Elliott, author of the Court of Fives series

“A transformative experience. With dragons.” —Fran Wilde, Hugo and Nebula nominated author of The Bone Universe and The Gemworld series

 

Excerpt:

 

There were two of them, sitting on the edge of her bed, lazily dangling legs over the smooth sheets, dressed in flamboyant embroidered silk that shimmered with the light from the room. They looked identical. No, they weren’t. Subtle shifts of face and hands—harder to work out, because when they both moved, their faces changed by fragments—revealing antlers in their hair, thin and curled moustaches, a lion’s snout instead of a nose. Changing shapes between human and spirit in the blink of an eye. “You’re dragons,” Yên said, flatly.
Their smiles were dazzling and innocent. “I’m Dan Thông,” the one on the left said.
“And I’m Dan Liên,” her sibling said. “I’m the younger one.” And, in the face of Yên’s obvious confusion: “We’re your new students!”
The dragon. Yên struggled to remember what had happened after the river. Her mind threw up nothing except darkness, gradually closing in. “I’m going to need some time—”
A door opened. Yên made the mistake of looking up, and saw it lying at a right angle from her current position; and, through the doorframe, a corridor where every wall had windows opening on the vastness of stars. Oh, ancestors, she was going to be sick....
“Are you all right? Hey, big sib, did they eat anything today?” Liên asked.
“She,” Thông said, sternly. “Remember? Mother told us so. And you’re not leaving her space to breathe.” Thông used gender-neutral pronouns. Liên had an ambiguous appearance and used female ones.
“Children.” That was the dragon’s voice, sharp and pointed. “Behave. Respect is due to teachers, no matter how mortal they might be.” A pause, as her footsteps grew closer, and then, “Especially if they’re mortal. They’re more easily harmed.”
Yên’s stomach churned. She gave up on dignity and decorum, and bent over the edge of the bed, throwing up the meager contents of her stomach. The dragon. Ancestors, the dragon was going to kill her—
But she hadn’t, had she. What was she waiting for?
When she looked up, the dragon was leaning against one of the bedposts, with that same distant amusement she’d had in the Plague Grove. She wore flowing silk: a stark, black cloth of a shade that Yên had only seen in Vanishers’ cloth, with not one clearer patch to mar the deep color. When she moved, it was as if the night sky shifted and spread around her. What would it be like, to have those sleeves enfold Yên—those long, thin fingers wrapped around Yên’s shoulders? Yên found her breath catching in her throat again.
Beautiful. No. No. She couldn’t afford to think of the dragon that way. She was Yên’s master, Yên’s executioner. There was no future in desire or love. “You—” Yên swallowed, pulling herself upward, turning away from the vomit on the floor lest she be sick again. “You claimed my life.”
The dragon raised an eyebrow.
Yên forced herself to say the words, because she might as well burst the abscess. “Everyone knows dragons kill.”

 

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About Aliette de Bodard:


Aliette de Bodard writes speculative fiction: her short stories have garnered her two Nebula Awards, a Locus Award and two British Science Fiction Association Awards. She is the author of the Dominion of the Fallen series, set in a turn-of-the-century Paris devastated by a magical war, which comprises The House of Shattered Wings (2015 British Science Fiction Association Award, Locus Award finalist), and its standalone sequel The House of Binding Thorns (Ace, Gollancz). She lives in Paris.

 

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Monday, October 15, 2018

Orbit by Leigh Hellman


Release date: September 18, 2018
Subgenre: Science fiction, Cyberpunk

About Orbit:

 

Ciaan Gennett isn’t green, despite the brand of light hair that betrays her heritage: an Earth mother. A mother she remembers but doesn’t know, who left one day and never came back. Ciaan’s as metal as her home planet—cold and hard and full of so many cracks she’s trying to ignore that she doesn’t have time to wonder about questions that don’t get answers.

After one too many run-ins with the law, Ciaan finds herself sentenced to probation at a port facility and given an ultimatum: Prove that your potential is worth believing in. With help from her best friend Tidoris, Ciaan stays away from trouble—and trouble stays away from her. But when a routine refueling turns into a revelation, Ciaan and Tidoris find themselves forced into an alliance with an Earth captain of questionable morality and his stoic, artificially-grown first officer. Their escalating resistance against bureaucratic cover-ups begins unraveling a history of human monstrosity and an ugly truth that Ciaan isn’t so sure she wants to discover.

Now they all must decide how far they are willing to dig into humanity's dark desperation—and what they are willing to do about what digs back.

 

Excerpt: 

 

 [Prologue]

78 Years Later


NIGHT HAD ALREADY CREPT ACROSS Toi and the Earth loomed—huge and menacing and beautiful—just past the crooked rooftops, as it slowly consumed the sky. Across Toi’s dented metal streets two sets of footsteps pounded out a frenzied rhythm that echoed just slightly, like a spring rain over tin shingles.
Ive got to lose him, was all that Ciaan could think. The words looped through her mind: Ive got to lose him, I’ve got to lose him, I’ve got to lose him.
She didn’t care where she was; she barely noticed when the buildings began to shift from the shiny, newly-seamed ones of her neighborhood to the rusted, warped clusters she’d been warned about. She didn’t care that she couldn’t remember how long it’d been since she heard the curfew alarm; shed still been racing past gleaming lacquered storefronts then. All that mattered now was getting as much distance between Melean and herself as her stubby legs could manage.
Run all you want, greenie! Youre not gonna get away from me!” Meleans threat was broken up by his wheezing breaths.
Ciaan scanned the street directly in front of her, noting sharp turns at small intersections or down narrow alleys that she thought of taking always a second too late. Fear began gnawing sharp in the pit of her stomach as she realized that all the thick acrylic windows were closed and most likely locked here. No one would hear her scream; or if they did, they wouldnt care.
She decided, as she missed another possible turn, that her best bet was to stay on this main street. No one was going to come out of their house to help her, but she might run into some straggler coming back past curfew. And eventually theyd be out of this sector and then maybe shed be able to scream. At any rate, the main road kept her visible and out of dark dead-ends where she’d really be in trouble.
She listened behind her for Melean’s heavy breathing and footfalls, trying to gauge how far apart they were and whether or not it would be safe to slow down a bit. Her own breathing had become ragged and forced and her legs were shaking beneath her. She’d never really been a runner—despite her school’s mandatory rote physical drills. She could manage shorter distances well enough, but long distances always gave her side cramps. Plus, she’d never had to run for her life in organized athletics, so this was a whole other thing entirely.
The good news was that Melean seemed to be just as bad at murderous chasing as Ciaan was at terrified running. He wasn’t big in either muscles or fat, nor was he thin and gangly like many of the other boys on Toi, so she’d assumed he’d be better at it. He was, Ciaan imagined, what Earth boys looked like: tall enough, strong enough, handsome enough. The only thing he was too much of was mean. That’s what made him a p-kid.
Ciaan, on the other hand, looked exactly like a p-kid. Dark-skinned like Melean (but blotchy where he was smooth) with an undergrown, slightly disproportionate body that someone could look at and not quite be able to put their finger on what was off. Only they could with her, because of the one stark difference between her and the other p-kids: her hair. She could feel it slapping against her neck as she ran, thick woven braids of bright, gold-pale hair. The color they all said only Earth people could grow, the color she had never seen on any head but her own. The color that branded her forever as someone who wasn’t a real p-kid. Melean, with his close-cropped black braids, knew what that color meant—that it meant soft and weak and vulnerable and green like the wilting Earth where it came from—and that was why he tormented her every chance he got. That was why he was chasing her, and that was why she couldn’t let him catch her.
Come on youfilthylittle…brat!” Meleans voice sounded gummylike he had too much saliva in his mouth, or not enough.

 

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About Leigh Hellman:

LEIGH HELLMAN is a queer/asexual and genderqueer writer, originally from the western suburbs of Chicago, and a graduate of the MA Program for Writers at the University of Illinois at Chicago. After gaining the ever-lucrative BA in English, they spent five years living and teaching in South Korea before returning to their native Midwest.

Leigh’s short fiction and creative nonfiction work has been featured in Hippocampus Magazine, VIDA Review, and Fulbright Korea Infusion Magazine. Their critical and journalistic work has been featured in the American Book Review, the Gwangju News magazine, and the Windy City Times.

Their first novel, Orbit, is a new adult speculative fiction story now available through Snowy Wings Publishing. They also have a historical fantasy piece included in the SWP anthology, Magic at Midnight.

Leigh is a strong advocate for full-day breakfast menus, all varieties of dark chocolate, building a wardrobe based primarily on bad puns, and bathing in the tears of their enemies.

 

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