Thursday, December 31, 2015

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for December 2015

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month
It’s that time of the month again, time for “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some November books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. We have space opera, military science fiction, paranormal romance, epic fantasy, urban fantasy, weird westerns, Steampunk, cyberpunk, post-apocalyptic science fiction, fairy tales, werewolves, dragons, aliens, empaths, ice maidens, doomed knights, demon hunters, transgender time travellers, black magic outlaws, monkey queens, spaceships next door, Wild West mummies, South East Asian steampunk and much more.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

Second Skyn by Damien BoyesSecond Skyn by Damien Boyes:
If it weren't for his Digital Life Assurance, Toronto Police Detective Finsbury Gage would be dead—smeared across the highway by a crazed man in a stolen urban assault vehicle. Finsbury hung together long enough for the recovery team to arrive. His wife wasn't so lucky.

Now, six months later, his mind restored to a prosthetic brain, wrapped in a healthy new body, and technically immortal, Finsbury is back to a life that no longer exists. He's all alone, his home a shrine to everything he lost. He's been reassigned, knocked from Homicide to busting bit-heads and chasing after lost minutes of the idle rich. And his thoughts connect directly to the internet.

The only thing keeping Finsbury from blowing his plastic brains out is the memory of his wife's death. It's 2.57 seconds long and plays on repeat, every time he closes his eyes. But from within this loop of pain and grief he discovers a reason to go on—the haunting glimpse of the wild-eyed man responsible for his wife's death.

Finsbury's gonna find this guy, no matter what he has to do.

But Finsbury isn't the only one on the hunt. Something is coming for him. Something like the world has never seen. Something that will force Finsbury Gage to abandon everything he believes—everything he is—to survive.

Kiss of Ice by Cora BuhlertKiss of Ice by Cora Buhlert:
The Winter Knight is sent out to execute the Ice Maiden who has already killed countless men. So far, none of those sent to bring the Maiden to justice have ever returned. But the Knight is confident that he will succeed where they failed, for he is protected by powerful magic.

When the Winter Knight finally reaches the castle of the Ice Maiden, she is strangely calm in the face of death and does not even try to resist. But has the Winter Knight truly succeeded where so many before him have failed or does the Ice Maiden still have a trick or two up her sleeve?

This is a dark and wintery fairytale of 4700 words or approximately 16 print pages altogether.

Redblade by Robert DahlenRedblade by Robert Dahlen:
“I want to be a hero. Like the Monkey Queen.”

Michiko Koyama, the hero known as the Monkey Queen, and her partner in adventure Beth McGill are happily adjusting to finally being more than friends. But Beth has made a new friend, student and fellow geek girl Abigail Main-Drake, and Michiko is trying very hard not to be jealous.

Meanwhile, a rise in assaults by ogres is putting Emigre communities in danger. A hero has risen to help defend them, the swashbuckling sorceress who calls herself Redblade. Michiko is thrilled to have a new ally, but Beth is feeling left out, unneeded.

But what Michiko and Beth don't know is that Abby is Redblade. And that secret, and the magic sword Abby carries, could spell doom for the Monkey Queen.

Join the adventure with Michiko and Beth in this fifth book in the Monkey Queen series, written with new readers in mind! Fantasy with heroines, humor and heart!

The Spaceship Next Door by Gene DoucetteThe Spaceship Next Door by Gene Doucette:

The world changed on a Tuesday.

When a spaceship landed in an open field in the quiet mill town of Sorrow Falls, Massachusetts, everyone realized humankind was not alone in the universe. With that realization, everyone freaked out for a little while.
Or, almost everyone. The residents of Sorrow Falls took the news pretty well. This could have been due to a certain local quality of unflappability, or it could have been that in three years, the ship did exactly nothing other than sit quietly in that field, and nobody understood the full extent of this nothing the ship was doing better than the people who lived right next door.

Sixteen-year old Annie Collins is one of the ship’s closest neighbors. Once upon a time she took every last theory about the ship seriously, whether it was advanced by an adult ,or by a peer. Surely one of the theories would be proven true eventually—if not several of them—the very minute the ship decided to do something. Annie is starting to think this will never happen.

One late August morning, a little over three years since the ship landed, Edgar Somerville arrived in town. Ed’s a government operative posing as a journalist, which is obvious to Annie—and pretty much everyone else he meets—almost immediately. He has a lot of questions that need answers, because he thinks everyone is wrong: the ship is doing something, and he needs Annie’s help to figure out what that is.

Annie is a good choice for tour guide. She already knows everyone in town and when Ed’s theory is proven correct—something is apocalyptically wrong in Sorrow Falls—she’s a pretty good person to have around.
As a matter of fact, Annie Collins might be the most important person on the planet. She just doesn’t know it.

Twiceborn Endgame by Marina FinlaysonTwiceborn Endgame by Marina Finlayson:
Half human, half dragon, all vengeance.

No one said being half dragon would be easy, but Kate O’Connor’s life has gone completely off the rails. She thought she’d won the succession war between the daughters of the dragon queen, until a shocking betrayal changed everything.

Now seven new sisters have joined the fray, a sinister government taskforce is gunning for her, and the Japanese queen has hit town, bent on snatching the throne for herself. Worst of all, her beloved son has been abducted.

The shifter world has never seen a proving like this one, but then, there’s never been a dragon quite like Kate before. She’ll need her human ingenuity as well as her dragon magic to save her son and everyone she holds dear. The final moves in the deadly endgame take her from goblin caves to Japanese palaces as she races against the clock to snatch victory from the dragon jaws of defeat.

Twiceborn Endgame is the third book in the urban fantasy trilogy The Proving.

Dead Man by Domino FinnDead Man by Domino Finn:
I'm Cisco Suarez: necromancer, shadow charmer, black magic outlaw. Sounds kinda cool, doesn't it? It was, right until I woke up half dead in a dumpster.

Did I say half dead? Because I meant 100% dead. Full on. I don't do things halfway.

So here I am, alive for some reason, just another sunny day in Miami. It's a perfect paradise, except I'm into something bad. Wanted by police, drenched in the stink of dark magic, nether creatures coming out of the woodwork, and don't get me started on the Haitian voodoo gang. Trust me, it's all fun and games until there's a zombie pit bull on your tail.

I'm Cisco Suarez: necromancer, shadow charmer, black magic outlaw, and totally screwed.

The Bizarre Half Life of John Fortune by James GideonThe Bizarre Half-Life of John Fortune by James Gideon:
John Fortune is a street kid made good. Thanks to a genius for maths and physics, he carves out a successful career in interstellar engineering. But there's something not quite right about John. Something not quite human. His one true friend, Frank Patterson, is sure he knows the secret. Frank can't afford to be wrong. Mankind's survival depends on it.

This 10,000 word short SF story/novella is perfect for fans of Ray Bradbury and Mike Resnick.

Omega Baggage by Eileen GlassOmega Baggage by Eileen Glass:
Liam doesn’t have a plan, but he’s got the basics covered. As far as food, shelter, and clothing are concerned, he does right by his omega. But still the smaller wolf flinches from him, never speaks. And every mild suggestion is obeyed to the letter. Something’s not right, he knows that, but maybe it’s for the best.
Skye wouldn’t stay if he learned the truth.

Baggage is a novella of about 26,000 words.

The Sea is OursThe Sea is Ours: Tales from Steampunk South East Asia, edited by Jaymee Goh and Joyce Chng:
Steampunk takes on Southeast Asia in this anthology

The stories in this collection merge technological wonder with the everyday. Children upgrade their fighting spiders with armor, and toymakers create punchcard-driven marionettes. Large fish lumber across the skies, while boat people find a new home on the edge of a different dimension. Technology and tradition meld as the people adapt to the changing forces of their world. The Sea Is Ours is an exciting new anthology that features stories infused with the spirits of Southeast Asia’s diverse peoples, legends, and geography.

Mission Improbable by J.J. GreenMission Improbable by J.J. Green:
In the deepest reaches of the galaxy there are places and beings that aren’t impossible, just very, very improbable.

Carrie Hatchett is a low-achieving daydreamer, and the last person on Earth who should be resolving disputes for the Transgalactic Council. After providing a good home for her butt-ugly dog and psychotic cat, her biggest challenge in life is to avoid being fired, again.

But a strange green mist sucks her beneath her kitchen sink, and an unusual clerical error leads to an offer she foolishly doesn’t refuse.

In settling a conflict between the mechanical placktoids and the mysterious oootoon, Carrie reveals a threat to the entire galaxy.

Mission Improbable is Book One in the light-hearted, fast-paced Carrie Hatchett Space Adventures series.

Flowers in a Dumpster by Max Allan GunnellsFlowers in a Dumpster by Max Allan Gunnells:
Seventeen Tales to Frighten and Enlighten

The world is full of beauty and mystery. In these 17 tales, Gunnells will take you on a journey through landscapes of light and darkness, rapture and agony, hope and fear.

A post-apocalyptic landscape where it is safer to forget who you once were... An unusual support group comprised of cities dying of a common illness... A porn star that has opened himself up to demonic forces... Two men battling each other to the death who discover they have much in common... A woman whose masochistic tendencies may be her boyfriend's ruin... A writer whose new friendship proves a danger to his marriage and his sanity.

Let Gunnells guide you through these landscapes where magnificence and decay co-exist side by side.

The Fredorian Destiny by Adair HartThe Fredorian Destiny by Adair Hart:
The timeline is wrong. This is discovered when Dr. Albert Snowden and his niece, Emily, travel with Evaran to a galactic cultural exhibition event on Kreagus, the capital home world of the Kreagan Star Empire and galactic superpower near Earth. The Fredorians should be presenting an ancient artifact, known as the Arkaron, to the Kreagan emperor. The problem is they aren’t. Evaran has decided to step in and help the Fredorians achieve their destiny while stabilizing the timeline.

They must find the three lost Arkaron crystals in order to assemble the Arkaron. To make matters worse, Seeros, a powerful industrialist, has a bounty on their heads, causing bounty hunters to harass them each step of the way.

As if that weren’t enough, an unknown faction is hiring freelance mercenaries to hunt them down as well. Evaran is joined by others, and together, they will have to navigate these perils to assemble the Arkaron and achieve the Fredorian destiny.

Choosing You by Jaylee JamesChoosing You by Jaylee James:
Collin is in high school when he is visited by a time traveler - a woman who claims to be his wife in a hypothetical future... only the timeline has been disrupted, and the two will never meet unless he makes four key choices in his life that will guide them together again.

"Choosing You" is a short story in a conversational, first-person voice, about what happens when deciding to love someone becomes a literal choice. It's 7300 words long and features a transgender protagonist.

House of the Healer by Jim JohnsonHouse of the Healer by Jim Johnson:
The Scales Are Out of Balance

After surviving a brutal cultist attack on her village, Ruia led the other survivors to the safety of Fort Sekhmet with the help of Tjety, a Ranger of Mayat. With Tjety's life now hanging in the balance, can Ruia gather enough help and learn to use her newfound hekau magic to heal Tjety before the forces of darkness close in and snuff out all hope?

House of the Healer is the third episode in PISTOLS AND PYRAMIDS, a monthly series best described as an ancient Egyptian-themed weird western with magic. And mummies. Lots of mummies.

The Fourth by Floyd LooneyThe Fourth by Floyd Looney:

Tara is "The Fourth".

She woke up inside of a cylinder in an underground chamber with no memories. She is told that the world has been devastated by war, disease and mutations. Humankind had evacuated Earth and fled to hundreds of different worlds far away. A quarantine was declared, but this did not prevent pirates and slavers from raiding the villages of the remnant left behind.

Tara feels strangely compelled to "fix" Earth, knowing this could take decades and generations. She is "The Fourth".

Greyson was born and raised as the only child of a high government official on the world called Roma, which modelled itself after the Roman Empire. The women of Roma are created artificially and have no rights. Thus, Roma is a pariah among civilized worlds.

As a young man Greyson is framed for a crime and his own father exiled him from his home world.
Tara wants to find out what it means to be "The Fourth" and to bring Earth back from the dead. Greyson wants to go home and clear his name. Their paths are destined to cross.

Chaos in the Starless Nights by J. Alex McCarthyChaos in the Starless Nights by J. Alex McCarthy:
Time is relative.

For one person, time flies by at a rapid pace. In a blink, hundreds of years pass. A life begins and ends, a million-year-old traitor returns to the place he once betrayed, an eyeless assassin questions his mission as he takes an innocent life.

In a flicker, an omnipotent leader's rule crumbles beneath his feet, a treacherous woman revels in her plans as they come together to bring down those around her.

In a single second, four paths cross. As each story ends, the next begins in A Universe Without Stars.

Of One Skein by P.J. PostOf One Skein, Part 1 by P.J. Post:

This romance brought to you by the end of the world...

Lost children.
Biological weapons.
The Cart People.
A puppy.

Forgiveness has never been so far away.

This is episode 3 of Feral, an ongoing serialized story.

Snowberry Blossom by Missy SheldrakeSnowberry Blossom by Missy Sheldrake:
Follow the knight Azaeli and her best friend Rian the Mage on a quick adventure to seek the Snowberry Blossom, a bloom that holds magic only if picked at midnight on Midwinter's Eve.

Grab a cup of cider and sit back to read this tale of romance, adventure, and fantasy told Mya, Bard of His Majesty's Elite of Cerion.

This short story takes place in between Call of Sunteri, book 2 and book 3 of the Keepers of the Wellsprings series, but there are no spoilers and it reads as a stand-alone tale.

KEEP by Hollis ShilohKEEP by Hollis Shiloh:
Pete might always know when people are lying, but that doesn't make him a good judge of character. Will he ever find a man who wants to keep him?

Pete's the kind of guy who gets on people's nerves. He can't sit still. He talks too much. He doesn't know when to shut up. And he always knows when people are lying.

While his talent wasn't strong enough to get an empath rating from the ESRB, he now has a second chance with the new testing system they're using. If he makes it, he'll have some well-paying job offers from people who actually appreciate his gifts.

Maybe this time things will work out. Maybe his life will finally take a turn for the better. With some hot guys in it, too.

The Prime Rift by Veronica SicoeThe Prime Rift by Veronica Sicoe:
Taryn has risked everything to free the first human colony from the tyranny of the TMC. With the help of her mind-linked ally, the alien warlord Amharr, she has finally succeeded.

Now Taryn must free the other colonies too, before the Ascendancy's world-crushing ships reach human space.

But when she needs him most, Taryn must let Amharr go, or their Link will kill him. The others who stood by her side have seemingly turned against her. And the sadistic TMC General Hurst, who craves the power of Taryn's Link, is now hunting her down.

With time running out, Taryn is about to face her greatest challenge yet, and she must do so alone.

Grand Master's Mate by Aurora SpringerGrand Master's Mate by Aurora Springer:
Young empath, Violet Hunter, and her crafty Grand Master, Athanor Griffin, tackle the villains threatening civilization.

Their worst enemy, the Red Queen, rampages across the galaxy evading capture, while blocked portals restrict normal commerce among planets. Compounding their problems, half the Grand Masters on the Council fear Violet is the agent of their doom as her father foretold, and vow to eliminate her. To restore peace, Violet and Athanor embark on a hazardous quest for a weapon hidden by the ancient psychic masters on one of four planets. But, the weapon proves elusive, dangers lurk in the ancient sites, and new alliances forged with bizarre entities may not be sufficient to foil their enemies and save the galaxy.

Reminiscent of science fiction stories by Frank Herbert and Andre Norton, this rollercoaster adventure offers weird characters and deadly horrors balanced by lighthearted moments. Grand Master’s Mate is Book 3 of the Grand Master’s Trilogy.

Echoes of a World Gone by Elliott WebberEchoes of a World Gone by Elliott Webber:
After finding a mysterious radio signal, Luke and his sister, Ada, journey through the deadly environment of the post-apocalyptic desert, risking everything for a chance of a better life.

Nameless by Mercedes M. YardleyNameless: The Darkness Comes by Mercedes M. Yardley:
Luna Masterton sees demons.

She has been dealing with the demonic all her life, so when her brother gets tangled up with a demon named Sparkles, ‘Luna the Lunatic’ rolls in on her motorcycle to save the day.

Armed with the ability to harm demons, her scathing sarcasm, and a hefty chip on her shoulder, Luna gathers the most unusual of allies, teaming up with a green-eyed heroin addict and a snarky demon ‘of some import.’
After all, outcasts of a feather should stick together...even until the end.

This is volume one in The Bone Angel Trilogy by Mercedes M. Yardley,

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Mission Improbable (Carrie Hatchett Space Adventures, Book 1) by J.J. Green

Release date: December 15, 2015
Subgenre: Space Opera

About Mission Improbable


In the deepest reaches of the galaxy there are places and beings that aren’t impossible, just very, very improbable.
Carrie Hatchett is a low-achieving daydreamer, and the last person on Earth who should be resolving disputes for the Transgalactic Council. After providing a good home for her butt-ugly dog and psychotic cat, her biggest challenge in life is to avoid being fired, again.

But a strange green mist sucks her beneath her kitchen sink, and an unusual clerical error leads to an offer she foolishly doesn’t refuse.

In settling a conflict between the mechanical placktoids and the mysterious oootoon, Carrie reveals a threat to the entire galaxy.

Mission Improbable is Book One in the light-hearted, fast-paced Carrie Hatchett Space Adventures series.


All the cardboard boxes in the kitchen were empty so Carrie went to check the rest of the flat. She saw a small unopened box in the bedroom. Toodles’ claws flashed out as she passed the bed, but she sidestepped just in time.
Toodles, sweetiepie, did you miss Mummy?”
Carrie opened the box. Inside were a bottle of washing up liquid, scourers, a plunger, washing up brushes, spray cleaner and cloths. Everything that should go under the kitchen sink. She would have to force that door open.
On the way back past the bed Toddles caught her, raking three long scratches through her tights.
Ow! Toodles, that really hurt. Don’t be cheeky.” Carrie squatted and peered under the bed. Baleful orange eyes glowed in the shadows. “You’re a very cheeky girl sometimes, Toodles, did you know that?” As Carrie reached towards the cat, Toodles’ claws made another lightning-fast appearance and Carrie snatched her hand away. A hiss was followed by a guttural, whining growl.
Squinting into the darkness Carrie said, “Okay, so you want to be alone for a little while. I can see that. It’s a new place and you’re feeling vulnerable. I get it.” She picked up the box and stood. “Barry doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I do listen. I do hear what people have to say, don’t I, Toodles?”
After returning to the kitchen, Carrie pulled with all her might at the stubborn cupboard door, but it would not budge. She opened the other cupboards, but they were all full. She frowned at the box of kitchen stuff. It was so annoying. It was the last box, and if she could just put the contents away she would be finished.
Rogue clattered into the kitchen, barking, his paws slipping on the tiles. Carrie smiled. Her lovely handsome dog was feeling better already.
Then she noticed what he was barking at. The cupboard door under the sink was glowing, a green pulsating light. Carrie’s hand went to her mouth. “Oh no. Rogue, what is it?”
Toodles’ catty whine from the bedroom joined Rogue’s deep-throated woofs, creating an escalating cacophony until, with a bang, the door flew open. Carrie jumped and Rogue whimpered and fled, his tail between his legs. Toodles’ whine stopped. A vivid green glow shone from Carrie’s under-sink cupboard, bathing the kitchen in an eerie light.
Her heart in her mouth, Carrie stumbled back towards the kitchen door, intending to follow Rogue’s hasty retreat, but after a moment she hesitated. Her breathing slowed and her head tilted to one side. She took a step towards the cupboard, and another. Bending down, she peeped inside.
Green mist swirling in a lazy spiral filled the space. Carrie crouched closer, gazing at the mist. It looked like an emerald Milky Way set in motion, its centre disappearing into infinity. She could not figure out what it was. A gas leak? Something supernatural? She stuck out her nose and sniffed. The mist had no smell. A sudden thought occurred to her—maybe she could ask for a rent reduction? Swirling green substances in cupboards were definitely an inconvenience, especially when they frightened her pets.
As her hair began to lift and pull towards the open cupboard, Carrie wondered briefly what it might mean before she was sucked, head first, under her kitchen sink.



About J.J. Green:

Fascinated by the unusual and unknown since childhood, J.J. Green first departed the U.K. as a young adult and has lived in Australia and Laos as well as her current abode, Taiwan. Her choice of writing genre reflects her interests and includes science fiction, fantasy, weird, dark and humorous tales.


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton

Release date: November 8, 2015
Subgenre: Social Science Fiction

About Rarity from the Hollow:

Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. The content addresses social issues. It’s a children’s story for adults, not for the prudish, fainthearted or easily offended. 

Lacy Dawn occupies the body of an eleven year old and sounds like one, but she has evolved under the supervision of Universal Management for hundreds of thousand of years. She is not a typical little girl, and if you think of her as such, you may be shocked. 

She lives in a hollow with her worn-out mom, her Iraq War disabled dad, and her mutt Brownie, a dog who’s becoming very skilled at laying fiber optic cable. Lacy Dawn’s android boyfriend DotCom, for when she’s old enough to have one, has come to the hollow with a mission. He was sent by the Manager of the Mall on planet Shptiludrp (Shop ’till You Drop) to recruit Lacy Dawn to save the universe from an imminent threat to its economic structure. In exchange, Earth would be designated as a planet that is eligible for continued existence – granted immunity. Will Lacy Dawn’s magic enable her to save the universe, Earth, and, most importantly, her own family?


            ... Jenny walked up the hill to Roundabend. She called Lacy Dawn's name every few yards. Her muddy tennis shoes slipped and slid.
            I hear her voice. Why won't she answer me? 
            “Sounds like she’s talking to someone,” Jenny said to the Woods. 
            Nobody responded. The trees weren't supposed to since Jenny was no longer a child. Her former best friends had made no long-term commitment beyond childhood victimization. They had not agreed to help her deal with domestic violence in adulthood. She hugged the closest tree.
            I will always love you guys. 
Jenny quickened her pace, stopped, and listened for human voices. A few yards later, she stopped again.   
            Now it sounds like she’s behind me instead of in front. 
            Jenny looked to the left of the path.
            There ain't no cave Roundabend, but there it is. 
            She walked toward the entrance. The voices grew louder and she looked inside. Lacy Dawn sat on a bright orange recliner. Tears streamed down her face.  Jenny ran to her daughter through a cave that didn't exit and into a blue light that did.
            “All right, you mother f**ker!”
            “Mom!” Lacy Dawn yelled. “You didn’t say, ‘It’s me’ like you're supposed to."
            DotCom  sat naked in a lotus position on the floor in front of the recliner.  Jenny covered Lacy Dawn with her body and glared at him.   
            "Grrrrr," emanated from Jenny.  It was a sound similar to the one that Brownie made the entire time the food stamp woman was at their house.  It was a sound that filled the atmosphere with hate.  No one moved.  The spaceship’s door slid shut.
            “Mommmmmy, I can’t breathe. Get up.”
            “You make one move you sonofabitch and I’ll tear your heart out,” Jenny repositioned to take her weight off Lacy Dawn.
            Stay between them.
            “Mommy, he’s my friend. More than my friend, we’re going to get married when I'm old enough -- like when I turn fourteen. He’s my boyfriend -- what you call it -- my fiancé.” 
            “You been messin’ with my little girl you pervert!” Jenny readied to pounce. 
            “MOM!  Take a chill pill! He ain’t been messing with me. He’s a good person, or whatever. Anyway, he’s not a pervert. You need to just calm down and get off me.”
            Jenny stood up. DotCom stood up. Jenny’s jaw dropped.
            He ain't got no private parts, not even a little bump.   
            “DotCom, I’d like to introduce you to my mommy, Mrs. Jenny Hickman. Mommy, I’d like to introduce you to my fiancé, DotCom.”
            Jenny sat down on the recliner. Her face was less than a foot from DotCom’s crotch and she stared straight at it. It was smooth, hairless, and odor free.  
            “Mrs. Hickman, I apologize for any inconvenience that this misunderstanding has caused. It is very nice to meet you after having heard so much. You arrived earlier than expected. I did not have time to properly prepare and receive. Again, I apologize.” 
            I will need much more training if I'm ever assigned to a more formal setting than a cave, such as to the United Nations.
            “Come on, Mommy. Give him a hug or something.”      
            Jenny's left eye twitched. 
            DotCom put on clothing that Lacy Dawn had bought him at Goodwill. It hung a little loose until he modified his body. Lacy Dawn hugged her mother…    
…“Besides, the transmitter was part of Daddy’s treatment. There're a lot of other things that he did to help fix Daddy. DotCom is like a doctor. You can see that Daddy has gotten better every day. And no, there ain’t no transmitter in you. DotCom figured you out like a good doctor and the only things wrong are a lack of opportunity and rotten teeth that poison your body. You don’t need no transmitter. He just gave you a few shots of ego boost. I don’t know what medicine that is, but I trust him. You ain't complained since the shots started -- not even with an upset stomach.”
            "He's a doctor?" Jenny asked.
            “What's your problem anyway?” Lacy Dawn asked. “I know.  You’re prejudiced. You told me that people have much more in common than they do that's different -- even if someone is a different color or religion, or from a different state than us. You told me to try to become friends because sometimes that person may need a good friend. Now, here you are acting like a butt hole about my boyfriend. You’re prejudiced because he’s different than us.”
            “Honey, he’s not even a person – that’s about as different as a boyfriend can get,” Jenny said.
            Mommy's right. Maybe I need a different argument.
            A fast clicking sound, a blur of motion, and a familiar smell assaulted them.
            "What's that?" Jenny asked. 
            She moved to protect her daughter from whatever threat loomed. Brownie, who had been granted 27 / 7 access to the ship, bounded over the orange recliner, knocked DotCom to the floor, licked DotCom’s face, and rubbed his head on Jenny’s leg. He then jumped onto the recliner and lay down. His tail wagged throughout. Jenny sat down on the recliner beside Brownie and looked at Lacy Dawn.
            “But, you were crying when I first came in. That thing was hurting you.” Jenny shook her finger at DotCom to emphasize a different argument against him.
            “Mommy, I'm so happy that I couldn’t help but cry. My man just came home from an out-of-state job. I didn't talk to him for a whole year. Before he left, he told me that he wasn’t even sure if he'd be able to come home. I still don’t know what happened while he was gone. We ain't had no chance to talk. All I know is that he's home and I'm sooooo happy.”
            “Your man came home from an out-of-state job?” Jenny patted Brownie on his head, some more and some more…. 
            It's unusual for a man to promise to come back home and ever be seen again. Brownie likes him and that's a good sign. Maybe she's right about him helping Dwayne. Something sure did and it wasn’t me. It is a nice living room. They've been together for a while and I ain't seen a mark on her. That's unusual too. He ain't got no private parts and that's another good thing. Hell, if I get in the middle, she’d just run off with him anyway. I'd better play it smart. I don't want to lose my baby. 
            “What about his stupid name?” Jenny asked.
            “I’ve got a stupid name, too. All the kids at school call me hick because my last name is Hickman.”
            “My name was given to me by my manager a very long time ago. It represents a respected tradition -- the persistent marketing of that which is not necessarily the most needed. I spam…,” DotCom said. 
            They both glared at him. 
            "Dwayne is sure to be home. I don’t want him to worry. Let’s go,” Jenny said. 
            “Okay, Mommy.”
            “I love you, DotCom,” Lacy Dawn stepped out the ship’s door, which had slid open. Brownie and Jenny were right behind her. 
            “I love you too,” DotCom said.
            Lacy Dawn and Jenny held hands and walked down the path toward home. The trees didn’t smile -- at least not so Jenny would notice. On the other hand, no living thing obstructed, intruded, or interfered with the rite.   
            Jenny sang to the Woods, “My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up.  My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up….”

About Robert Eggleton:

Robert Eggleton has served as a children's advocate in an impoverished state for over forty years. He is best known for his investigative reports about children’s programs, most of which were published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from 1982 through 1997, and which also included publication of models of serving disadvantaged and homeless children in the community instead of in large institutions, research into foster care drift involving children bouncing from one home to the next -- never finding a permanent loving family, and statistical reports on the occurrence and correlates of child abuse and delinquency. Today, he is a recently retired children's psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome physical and sexual abuse, and other mental health concerns. Rarity from the Hollow is his debut novel and its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines: Wingspan Quarterly, Beyond Centauri, and Atomjack Science Fiction

Author proceeds have been donated to a child abuse prevention program operated by Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. Robert continues to write fiction with new adventures based on a protagonist that is a composite character of children that he met when delivering group therapy services. The overall theme of his stories remains victimization to empowerment.

Rarity from the Hollow is available as a Kindle edition and a paperback.

Monday, December 28, 2015

House of the Healer (Pistols and Pyramids, Book 3) by Jim Johnson

Release date: December 25, 2015
Subgenre: Weird western

About House of the Healer


The Scales Are Out of Balance

After surviving a brutal cultist attack on her village, Ruia led the other survivors to the safety of Fort Sekhmet with the help of Tjety, a Ranger of Mayat. With Tjety's life now hanging in the balance, can Ruia gather enough help and learn to use her newfound hekau magic to heal Tjety before the forces of darkness close in and snuff out all hope?

House of the Healer is the third episode in PISTOLS AND PYRAMIDS, a monthly series best described as an ancient Egyptian-themed weird western with magic. And mummies. Lots of mummies.



Tjety cracked open his eyes, heavy with fatigue and pain, and squinted at parched earth and sun-blasted dunes that glimmered in the haze. A bleak smudge of clouds gathered on the horizon and crept toward him. His entire body was on fire, radiating more heat than even the glowing orb of the sun god, Re, beating down on him from on high.
He shivered in spite of the heat, blinked, and then found himself standing several feet away from his own body, which was sprawled out naked in the sparkling sand. His body was covered in cuts and scrapes and his right arm hung awkwardly, splintered by a cruel gunshot wound. A thin ribbon of silver connected his ba—his spirit—to his body.
He glanced down. He was in his ba-bird form—a hawk's body with his head rather than that of a hawk. His right wing was shattered, hanging limp against his body. Many of his feathers were damaged or missing, and he had numerous other small wounds, echoing the damage evident on his human form.
Tjety tried to flap his broken appendage, but all that did was shove a spear of pain into his mind that trailed down the gossamer-like strand of silver and crashed into his mortal body.
He stared at the drab wasteland all around him as cruel realization struck home. "Is this it? Have I fuckin' died and fallen in to the Duat?"
He frowned and focused on the silver thread connecting his ba-form to his body. If he had died, that thing should have been severed.
He puzzled it over, but a series of inhuman growls from somewhere deep in the wasteland around him broke his ragged concentration. He staggered around in his broken bird form, his shattered wing flapping helplessly. Horrifying shapes pulled from his bird form, his shattered wing flapping helplessly. Horrifying shapes pulled from his darkest nightmares—jackal-like creatures and massive undulating snakes—formed in the distance, uttered unearthly sounds, and started moving toward him.
Out of reflex and long practice, he went for his pistol, but his broken wing crashed against his body. He cried out in pain.
He made to draw his khopesh, but of course he wore nothing in this form. He then tried to gather strength from his hekau, to prepare a defensive spell, but the image of a dried-out watering hole flashed in his mind. He had nothing left—his wellspring of arcane energies was drained.
He backed away from the encroaching shapes, feeling his silver thread spool out, keeping his ba connected to his fragile mortal shell. The shadowy forms started to pick up speed, as if they smelled his blood and fear. He turned and ran as fast as his little bird legs could propel him, trying desperately to achieve some speed but fearing that he would be too slow, far too slow.



About Jim Johnson:

 Jim Johnson is the author of the Pistols and Pyramids series as well as other prose fiction series currently under development. He has written sundry other pieces of fiction, including several stories published in the Star Trek universe, and has freelanced for pen and paper roleplaying game companies, including Decipher and White Wolf. Please visit for more information on Jim and his interests and writing.

Jim lives in historic Alexandria, VA with his wife, newborn son, and several crazy cats.

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Friday, December 25, 2015

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for December 25, 2015

And here is our weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web in a special Christmas Day edition, this week with wall to wall Star Wars discussion. Most of the articles and posts, which contain spoilers, have spoiler warnings, but reader beware. Though we've also got a couple of non-Star Wars links as well, including several Year's Best lists. 

Speculative fiction in general:

Comments on Star Wars in general:

Comments on The Force Awakens


Writing, publishing and promotion:




Con reports:

Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends: