Friday, August 17, 2018

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for August 17, 2018


It's time for the weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with the Fireside Fiction 2018 black speculative fiction report, yet more on the firing of James Gunn from Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3,  The Meg, The Calculating Stars, tributes to Michael Scott Rohan, WorldCon 76, WakandaCon, racism in the SCA 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 Fireside Fiction's 2017 black speculative fiction report:

Tributes to Michael Scott Rohan:

Comments on the firing of James Gunn from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3:

Comments on The Meg

Awards:

Writing, publishing and promotion:

Interviews:

Reviews:

Crowdfunding:

Con reports:

Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends: 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Apple-Tree Throne by Premee Mohamed

Release date: August 14, 2018
Subgenre: Ghost story

About The Apple-Tree Throne:

 

It is the turn of the century in an England that never was. Bright new aqua-plants are generating electricity for the streetlights; news can be easily had on the radio-viz; and in Gundisalvus' Land, the war is over and the soldiers are beginning to trickle home. Amongst these is Lt. Benjamin Braddock, survivor of the massacre that ended the war, and begrudgingly ready to return to a world that, well, doesn't seem to need him any more than it did in peacetime. His friends have homes and families to return to, while he's got nothing but his discharge papers and a couple of unwanted medals. Oh, and one new thing: the furious ghost of his commanding officer.

Fortunately, since the officer's family is so vehemently adamant that Braddock join their rich and carefree fold, he doesn't have much time to fret about being haunted. But the secrets of the war are about to catch up to them all.

 

Excerpt:

 

It's autumn, the time for ghost stories. Not the innocent skies and washed-out roads of spring; not the stifling heat of summer, nor less the dead of winter when sounds carry for miles. Autumn is when adventures begin, when the air is crisp and the paths are dry and the leaves whisper and the scent of smoke on the downs travels like a secret. It must be autumn, when everyone is held in abeyance between their home and their destination, when every trip is a journey.
I wake to tapping at the glass and spend a moment reckoning it: dash, dash, dash, dot. Dash, dash, dash, dot.
Two nines. Get out.
Shan't. I roll out of bed and see the Major-General, still quite dead, as dead as the last time I saw him, hovering above the sill. The new electric street-lights, soft and golden in the fog, illuminate the gaping wound in his throat. Meeting my gaze with a look of hatred, he reaches out once more and strikes the glass of the window. Nine, nine.
I pull the curtains shut, muffling his outrage till I can drop off again. Perhaps he is still angry about the funeral.

***

"Major-General Theodore Wickersley was a good man," I begin, but this statement is so contradictory to what is actually transpiring at his funeral that I trail off in embarrassment. In the silence, Wickersley's mother emits one loud sob, sending crows yelping from the fawn sea of oaks behind us. Surely for her sake, if nothing else, I must continue.
Before I lose my nerve I describe his rapid rise through the ranks, his fairness as a leader, his loyalty as a soldier. I praise his brilliant military mind — stuttering into silence as another of Wickersley's Irregulars gestures frantically at me to cut it out. I express my deep condolences to the Greater Republic of Britannia as well as his family, friends, and fellow soldiers. As I do so, several of my fellow soldiers simply leave, slipping past the rows of family with murmured excuses, as if a quiet slap to the face might be any less painful than a loud one.
I am the only one who has agreed to speak. It is over swiftly, and the spade-man walks bold as brass through the assembled mourners, who part Red Sea-fashion to avoid his dirty shovel. He nods briskly at me, as one professional to another, and begins to fill in the grave. Wickersley's mother handed me a pink rose when I met them at the gates, which I had meant to toss upon the coffin, but the work is proceeding so swiftly that I feel it would be an intrusion.
In minutes it is done, and he switches to another tool with a flat, oblong head to tamp down the fluffed-up black dirt. Finally, the sliced squares of sod are replaced. They will catch again, put down roots long before winter comes. Funny that cemeteries always end up on the best farmland. Or is it the other way around? All those bodies turning the thin soil rich and black over hundreds of years. That old story they tell to scare children, about what happens to those who eat hazelnuts from a cemetery.

 

Amazon | Kobo

 

About Premee Mohamed:

Premee Mohamed is an Indo-Caribbean scientist and spec fic writer based in Canada. Her short fiction has been published by Automata Review, Mythic Delirium, Pseudopod, Nightmare Magazine, and many others. Her debut novel, 'Beneath the Rising,' is slated for publication by Solaris Books in 2020.  

 

Website | Twitter| Curious Fictions

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Klone's Stronghold by Joyce Reynolds-Ward

 Release date: June 25, 2018
Subgenre: Urban Fantasy

About Klone's Stronghold:

 

In a world of supernatural beings, not knowing what you are is dangerous.

After Reeni Dutta's ex-husband Karl attacks her at a music festival, she finds a refuge teaching cryptid construct children at Klone's Stronghold in northeastern Oregon's isolated Bucket Mountains. But things are not as they seem at the Stronghold, from the older proprietors of a nearby store and the Stronghold's leader Alexander Reed Klone, to Reeni herself. She discovers it's not just Karl who seeks to control who and what she is, but forces from her past that threaten her present. Can she learn the truth about herself and do what is needed in time to defend the Stronghold?


Excerpt:

 

Gonna be a nice weekend for the Mudhole show!” Trina said from the front passenger seat, half-turning her head so that I saw her in profile. “Don’t you think so, Rocky?”
“Probably,” Rocky said absently, focusing on the two-lane country road winding its way through grassy farmlands and occasional oak patches. “Might get a little coastal fog in the morning, though. The Hangout’s close enough to the Coast Range for that. You did bring warm coverups, right, Reeni?”
“You’re never going to let me forget that raft trip, are you?” I bit back the sharp edge that threatened to creep into my voice. Rocky hadn’t known me before Karl, King of Glamping. “I know the coastal climate. Trina and I used to camp at Cape Lookout all the time. I just didn’t know about desert climate then.”
Before Karl. Before husbands. I studiously stared at the patch of bigleaf maple trees that sheltered a farmhouse as tension tightened my gut. It’s going to be all right, I told myself. You’re entitled to a life after Karl.
Trina slapped Rocky’s thigh. “That spare tent and sleeping bag we brought for Reeni were originally hers, goofball. Just because Karl didn’t camp doesn’t mean that Reeni hasn’t.”
Rocky laughed. “Being chivalrous meant I froze my butt. Just making sure. Sorry, Reeni.” He slowed the car. “Crud. Protestors. Better get down, Reeni.”
That tense sensation in my gut cinched down tighter. Another worry. The Mudhole band catered to halflings and supernaturals as much as they did full humans. It made for a fun show, but….
Not everyone was tolerant of tolerance.
“Can you see who it is?” I asked Trina.
She knew what I meant. “Yeah.” She leaned forward as Rocky slowed even more, following the line of cars turning onto the gravel drive leading to the Hangout. “Might be all right. Looks like it might be just the usual land use protestors.”
Now those were protestors I could handle. The Hangout wasn’t particularly popular with two of their conservative farm neighbors. As a result the number of shows like the Mudhole’s three-day festival were limited.
“Whew.” I settled back in my seat. Still, slender strands of tension threaded through my gut. I wasn’t going to dismiss that worry until we were complete inside the venue. Something’s wrong. I didn’t know what it was. Yet.
“Don’t get too comfortable,” Trina cautioned as we drew closer. “There’s more than the usual protestors—oh crud.”
Right then I almost threw up. “What?”
“Anti-supernaturals.” She peered closer. “And they’re not all white—shit! Reeni, get down! Religious and I think I see your uncle!”
“Shit!” I lay flat on my side in the back seat, pulling the just-in-case blanket over me. “Anyone besides Jayanesh?” I asked, once I was certain I was covered. Dread cinched tighter on me. This weekend was supposed to be fun. Not a family intervention.
“Sheriff’s keeping them back,” Trina said. “But yeah. Pastor Ananda’s there.”
“My parents?” I choked back the sick bitter taste in my mouth.
“No—wait. Your father.”


Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Apple iTunes | Scribd | 24symbols | Angus & Robertson


About Joyce Reynolds-Ward:

Joyce Reynolds-Ward is a speculative fiction writer who splits her time between Enterprise and Portland, Oregon. Her short stories have appeared in Children of a Different Sky, Steam. And Dragons, Tales from an Alien Campfire, River, How Beer Saved the World 1, Fantasy Scroll Magazine, and Trust and Treachery among others. Her books include Shadow Harvest, Alien Savvy, Netwalking Space, Pledges of Honor, Challenges of Honor, and Klone’s Stronghold. Joyce recently completed editing her first anthology, Pulling Up Stakes. Besides writing, Joyce enjoys reading, quilting, horses, skiing, and outdoor activities.


Website | Blog | Author Central


Monday, August 13, 2018

Harriet Walsh Omnibus One by Simon Haynes

Release date: August 5, 2018
Subgenre: Science Fiction Mystery, Space Opera

About Harriet Walsh Omnibus One:

 

For the first time, get all three Harriet Walsh novels in one volume!

All the Harriet Walsh novels are set in the distant future, where the galaxy has been colonised and human-like robots are commonplace. They're good clean fun, written with wry humor.

PEACE FORCE


Would you work for a deranged robot? Harriet Walsh does!
Harriet's weapon won't fire without the right paperwork, the patrol car is driving her up the wall, and her crime-fighting computer doesn't even have solitaire. Welcome to the Peace Force!

ALPHA MINOR


The Peace Force has a new recruit, and she's driving everyone crazy.

From disobeying orders to handling unauthorised cases, nothing is off-limits. Worse, Harriet Walsh is forced to team up with the newbie, because the recruit's shady past has just caught up with her. Meanwhile, a dignitary wants to complain about rogue officers working out of the station. She insists on meeting the station's commanding officer ... and they don't have one.

All up, it's another typical day in the Peace Force!

SIERRA BRAVO


Planet Dismolle is supposed to be a peaceful haven. So what's with all the gunfire?

A criminal gang has moved into Chirless, Dismolle's second major city. Elderly residents are fed up with the loud music, noisy cars and late night parties, not to mention hold-ups, muggings and the occasional gunfight. Chirless has no Peace Force, so Harriet Walsh of the Dismolle City branch has to help out. That puts her up against a gang of hardened criminals with only her training pistol and a few old allies to lend a hand.

And these allies aren't just old, they're positively ancient!

 

Excerpt:

 

They took the lift to the roof, where they emerged into the afternoon sunshine. The deep space fighter was sitting on its landing pad, towering over them like a sleek, grey-painted shark. Alice ran ahead to the ship, where she opened a hatch in the belly and pulled down the access ladder.
"Oh great," puffed Birch. "Just what I needed, more exercise."
"Are you sure you want to come?" asked Harriet. "Alice and I can handle this."
"What, miss out on my first Peace Force case for twenty years?" Birch grinned at her. "Just try and stop me." Even so, he looked apprehensive as they walked into the deep shadows under the ship.
Harriet waited for him to climb the ladder, then followed. They emerged in a small airlock filled with lockers and storage cupboards, and they followed Alice up a set of stairs to the cockpit, where she took the pilot's chair while Harriet and Birch settled in the two passenger seats at the rear.
"Is she all right flying this thing?" murmured Birch, as he did up his harness.
Harriet shrugged. "She's been flying all over the city recently, and Rover's smart enough not to hit anything."
"Oh, so that's the noise that's been keeping me awake at nights. I thought it was thunder."
"If she could afford the fuel she'd be buzzing cities on other planets."
"In that case, I'll organise a whip-around. It'd be worth if for a good night's sleep."
"I can hear you both, you know," Alice called from the pilot's seat. "Now strap in, we're ready to go. And Harriet, if you don't start calling this ship Arnie, you're not coming aboard ever again."
Alice flicked the starters and the engines burst into life with a shattering roar. Harriet eyed Birch's harness. "I'd pull that a bit tighter if I were you."
"Really?"
"Oh yes. Really."
He was still complying when the ship launched itself into the air, leaving the Peace Force building - and their stomachs - far below.
"Take it easy Alice!" called Harriet.
"I'm not flying. It's Arnie."
"I thought my name was Rover?" said the ship's computer, in an even male tone.
"Yeah, not any more," said Alice. "Arnie is way cooler."
"User dictionary updated."
"Can you take us to the Dismolle spaceport? We need fuel."
"So do I," said the ship, and Harriet clung to her seat as they turned sharply and tore across the city. The engines bellowed like a pair of angry dragons, and she cringed as she imagined the noise complaints Bernie would be fielding.
"Can't we fly any higher?" she shouted.
"Negative," said Arnie calmly. "Climbing wastes fuel, and there is none to spare."
"Do we have enough to get there?"
"Checking now."
"What do you mean, checking now? Why didn't you check before?"
"I didn't know our destination prior to lift-off."
Harriet closed her eyes. Some mission this would turn out to be, if they ended up sitting in a field waiting for a fuel truck. Then, before she could say anything, Alice spoke into a mic.
"This is your captain speaking," she said, her voice loud through the cabin speakers. "After our fuel stop at the Dismolle spaceport we'll be heading directly for Chirless. Estimated time of arrival is ..." Alice checked a display. "... about ten minutes."
"That can't be right," said Harriet. "Last time I took a sub-orbital flight to Chirless it was forty minutes, at least."
"Who said anything about sub-orbital?" Alice grinned over her shoulder. "We're going to skim the ground at full power."
Harriet just hoped they avoided any settlements between Dismolle and Chirless, because full power in this particular ship was enough to tear the surface off the landscape and leave giant furrows in its wake. Some company was apparently planning to build an underground transport loop between the two cities. Well, if they waited a bit, they could just follow in Arnie's brand new tracks, adding a roof. They'd have their tunnel finished in no time.

 

Amazon.com | Amazon UK | B&N | Kobo | Smashwords | Google Play

 

About Simon Haynes:

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock series, the Hal Junior series, and the upcoming Harriet Walsh series, as well as several dozen short stories. He is also the programmer and designer behind Spacejock Software, and is responsible for popular programs like yWriter and yBook.

 

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Friday, August 10, 2018

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for August 10, 2018


It's time for the weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with the return of Jean-Luc Picard, yet more on the firing of James Gunn from Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3,  The Darkest Minds, The Meg, Christopher Robin, a new Batwoman, the 2018 Dragon Awards 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 the return of Jean-Luc Picard and other Star Trek news:

Comments on the firing of James Gunn from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

Comments on The Darkest Minds:

Comments on Christopher Robin

Comments on The Meg:

Awards:

Writing, publishing and promotion:

Interviews:

Reviews:

Crowdfunding:

Con reports:

Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends: