Saturday, March 31, 2018

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for March 2018

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 February 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. This month, we have epic fantasy, urban fantasy, dark fantasy, paranormal mystery, science fiction romance, space opera, military science fiction, funny science fiction, science fantasy, horror, weird fiction, weird western, dragons, dragon thieves, elves, werewolves, shifters, superheroes, aliens, mercenaries, starship mages, killer asteroids 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:

Last Dragon Standing by Rachel AaronLast Dragon Standing by Rachel Aaron:

Dear Reader,

There is no way to write a blurb for this final book without spoiling all of the others. Suffice it to say, mysteries resolve, dragons war, pigeons abound, and no one is safe as Bob’s grand plan finally comes to fruition.

But the Great Seer of the Heartstrikers isn’t the only one whose schemes are nearing completion. The Nameless End is coming, and even the machinations of the world’s most brilliant dragon seer might not be enough to stop it. As everything comes crashing down, it’s up to Julius to prove what he’s always known: that seers can be wrong, and Nice Dragons don’t always finish last.

Baptism of Fire by Cora BuhlertBaptism of Fire by Cora Buhlert:

Cadet Anjali Patel had hoped for something more exciting than guard duty for her first mission with the legendary Shakyri Expeditionary Corps, the best fighters in the Empire of Worlds.

However, this boring job quickly turns hot, when an enemy convoy comes up the mountain pass Anjali is supposed to guard.

This is a prequel story of 4500 words or approx. 18 print pages to the "In Love and War" series, but may be read as a standalone.

Gold Dragon by Lindsay BurokerGold Dragon by Lindsay Buroker:

Now that Trip’s siblings are safely back in the capital, he would like it if life got back to normal. As normal as possible for a half-dragon army officer learning to use his magical powers when he isn’t busy piloting with Wolf Squadron.

But trouble keeps popping up, and the capital isn’t the safe haven Trip had hoped. More and more dragons are working together, with attacks growing frequent as they scheme to claim the country for themselves. Equally daunting, Rysha wants to introduce Trip to her parents, parents who want a proper nobleman for their daughter, not some odd commoner sired by a dragon.

If Trip is to have any chance of bringing peace to the country—and impressing Rysha’s parents—he’ll have to finally and fully embrace what he is and what he can do. Before time runs out.

Right Ascension by Nicole ClaireRight Ascension by Nicole Claire:

“This is Captain Anderson. Brace. Brace. Brace."

Sophia Anderson has a heritage she should be proud of, but to those onboard the AUS Corvus, she’s not earned her position like the rest of them.

Every day she has to prove herself to the Anderson Universal crew onboard her ship. And then the worst thing happens.

The captain is killed in battle and Sophia, as First Officer, must take his place.

Teaming up with the unflappable Lieutenant Commander Leo Saito, Sophia finds her footing onboard the beleaguered vessel as well as something much more precious.

Intimacy and destiny align amongst the planets and stars, but can the chief science officer and captain overcome the pressures of command when falling in love and still save their fleet?

And can any of them hope to survive the treacherous voyage to New Earth unscathed?

When humanity reaches for the stars in a race for survival, only the most daring amongst them will succeed.

Going for Broke by Zen DiPietroGoing for Broke by Zen DiPietro:

There’s no place like home.

Cabot’s adventures have brought him all the way around to his home planet.
Ditnya Caine has turned on the PAC, even as it continues to battle the Barony Coalition.
At least Cabot’s on a familiar battleground.

He’ll dig up some old connections and forge some new ones to figure out what Ditnya and Barony are plotting. In the process, he’ll even have to deal with some personal unfinished business.

They say you can never go home, but Cabot’s about to prove them wrong.

This book concludes the Mercenary Warfare series, but fear not—Cabot, Nagali, and Omar will continue in the overarching Dragonfire Station series. It’s always a good day to be a trader.

Berserker by Dyane FordeBerserker by Dyane Forde:

“Love…can destroy, it can build, or it can do both at once…”

With the Papilion’s whereabouts unknown, the Shadow pursues its plan for Marathana’s destruction. In control of the Northern tribes and strengthened by allies in the Deep Southernlands, the Shadow prepares to unleash its ultimate weapon, the berserker.

Jeru’s sudden reappearance reveals the presence of a powerful, new will at work. Blessed by the Lightbearer and supported by a ragtag group of survivors and unexpected allies, Jeru prepares to lead the small army into enemy territory.

As war breaks, Kelen and Jeru clash one last time. One brother seeks to destroy, the other to save. The strongest will prevail, sealing Marathana’s ultimate fate.

Double Trouble by Simon HaynesHal Spacejock 8: Double Trouble by Simon Haynes:

Hal Spacejock dons a flash suit, hypershades and a curly earpiece for a stint as a secret agent, while Clunk is invited to a ‘unique business opportunity’ by a pair of rusted friends.

Inevitably, things turn sour, and it’s all hands to the pumps as the good ship Spacejock springs leaks from stem to stern.

The Empire of Dust by Robert I. KatzThe Empire of Dust by Robert I. Katz:

Michael Glover survived every mission the Empire assigned him and then he survived the revolution that ended it all.

But can he survive when everything he knew and held dear has vanished into the past?

Awakened after 2000 years to find a new Empire rising to replace the old, Michael is given a second chance to make a difference. Can he take advantage of that chance? Does he even want to?

Trouble is brewing among the stars. Ships are vanishing. Military bases are being attacked. Chaos is spreading. Is this random piracy or a wide-spread conspiracy?

Naval intelligence is desperate to find out and Michael Glover, a soldier without a country, a man thought dead for over 2000 years, reluctantly decides that he cannot stand by when duty calls.
It’s a new Empire but the same old mission, and Michael Glover, deep in his soul, is still a soldier who can be counted on.

But Michael Glover has an independent streak. He’ll carry out the mission but he’ going to do it in his own inimitable way, whether naval intelligence likes it or not.

Gods and Demons by B.R. KingsolverGods and Demons by B.R. Kingsolver:

Life's tough as an Elf girl stranded in Earth's realm. Humans don't believe in Elves or magic, so I try to stay low key.

Then a jaguar shifter drops in out of nowhere and tells me about an ancient blood-magic statuette, powerful enough to blow holes in reality. She needs an Elf to track it down, and I'm the only Elf available.

But every blood mage in the world also wants it. Enter stalker werewolves in a black Mercedes, a master magician leaving a calling card on my door, and demons every time I turn around. It wouldn't be so bad, but some of them are really rude.

Time for a lesson in manners.

Not a Mermaid by Madeline KirbyNot a Mermaid by Madeline Kirby:

It’s July in Houston, and when heat waves and storm warnings finally give way to flooding rains,

Jake Hillebrand’s strange dreams take a sinister turn. When the flood waters recede, the body of a young woman is found on the banks of Buffalo Bayou - a young woman whose life overlaps with that of Detective Victoria Perez.

With Perez on the sidelines, maybe she and Jake can finally come to an understanding. Or not.
Petreski's working with a new partner, Jake's declared a major, Jennifer Katz is moving on with her life, and Don has no idea that the new cat hanging around his apartment is not what she appears.

Contains even more carbs than "Not a Werewolf", plus all you can eat shrimp!

Dragon Lost by Lisa ManifoldDragon Lost by Lisa Manifold:

I'm Aodan. A thief. A really good thief.

My best friend Margrite and I are nearly out of this crappy city. With this last job, we'll have enough to disappear on an island somewhere. We're so close I can practically smell the rum drinks.

But then all hell breaks loose when I wake up as a dragon. You know, teeth, claws, blue scales, furniture exploding under my massive form. The feeling of smoke is a permanent fixture in my throat. The dragon appears when it wants to, and I black out.

I don't have time for this.

To add to all this drama, I think someone is trying to kill me. My home is gone. I have nowhere to hide while I sleep off the crazy dragon hangover that comes after each appearance of the beast. As if the dragon scales weren't enough, I'm now plagued by this new voice in my head - some annoying guy wanting to talk, and meet, and who knows what else? All I want is for me and my best friend to get out of town alive.

If I could stop sprouting a tail at inappropriate times, that would be pretty great too.

Dragon Lost is the first book in the Dragon Thief series.

Oblivion by David NethOblivion by David Neth

Ethan still doesn't know what happened to his missing brother four months ago. No idea where he went, who took him, or where to find the answers. But then he discovers Fizz, a mutant whose acid spit can melt off a man's face, and he has a new lead.

Meanwhile, Carlo Martelli is in a rage. His cousin's murder can only be a threat to his rule in the local mafia. The immediate suspect is the traitorous Michael Bello who ratted him out to the police. As the mob war erupts, Fuse finds himself in the cross-hairs, which may have been a trap for him all along.

Frozen Shadows by Gene O'NeillFrozen Shadows And Other Chilling Stories by Gene O'Neill:

Hitch a ride with the master of setting as he blends and bends genres with science-rich, thought-provoking short stories. “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”

“A maestro of the field, Gene O'Neill's stories are consistently well-executed. He writes with authority, depth, and loads of worldly and writerly experience, and delivers fascinating stuff.” – Darren Speegle

Along the way you will travel to the top of Mt. George, up and down Napa Valley, through Sacramento, and into the heart of the Bay Area, to the ‘Loin in San Francisco, Hotel Reo, Chapel of the Chimes, the back streets of Oakland, and other familiar dark places. The stories explore quantum entanglement, Visual Migraine Events, electro-shock treatment, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and Tourette’s syndrome experimentally treated with Temporary Deep Brain Stimulation. And as you read you may start to notice all these stories are connected in a way.

“Frozen Shadows” – Coming of age autobiographical
“The Algernon Effect” – A transgressive love story
“Transformations at the Inn of the Golden Pheasant” – A damaged vet describes a bizarre transformation
“On the Right Side of the Road” – An ex-con suffering from Visual Migraine Effects may just save the world
“Black Tar/Red Alien” – A heroin addict’s confrontation with a horrific alien
“Broken Lady” – An aging singer pays a terrible price for defending herself during a rape
“The Shaking Man” – An ex-con receives an experimental treatment for his Tourette’s Syndrome with unexpected results
“3-Dot People” – An amnesiac man drops literally into the Tenderloin of San Francisco
“A Faint Scent of Musky Lime” – A fan of the writer Tom Really finds himself experiencing one of Reamy’s horrific stories
“At the Lazy K” – A historic epic of a ghost plaguing a rehab clinic on an old ranch

High Barrens by Alice SaboHigh Barrens by Alice Sabo:

Seeing into a soul is easy for Flint.

She can change a life or even the world with her words.
She should have kept her mouth shut.

Flint thought that having six older brothers and growing up in a dangerous frontier town would prepare her for anything. She soon discovers that the world is a lot more complex than she expected, and it’s going to take more than a strong back and good intentions to achieve her goals.

When it comes to magic, all the wishes in the world won’t change who you really are. And sometimes that’s okay.

300 Degree Days and Other Stories by Deborah Sheldon300 Degree Days and Other Stories by Deborah Sheldon:

‘Sheldon’s stories lift the skin of small, suburban lives to expose the raw nerves beneath. Her writing is intimate, compelling and alarming…’ – The Short Review, UK.

Sometimes, the ties that bind are sharp enough to cut. In these eleven stories, set in contemporary Australian suburbia, Deborah Sheldon examines the darker side of family relationships. Unsettling and incisively written, each story of betrayal, envy, loss or bad blood resonates for a long time after reading.

Pursuit by Val St. CrowePursuit by Val St. Crowe:

The war between the humans and the aliens is over. The humans lost.

Gunner Jisse captains the Star Swallow, a ship that takes whatever job it can, from running guns for the Resistance to smuggling food to hidden human outposts. If the aliens discover what he’s doing, he and his crew are dead.

Eve Harlowe sees visions. She’s always known her future is to be the mother of a champion, who will finally defeat the aliens and set humans free. The first step toward her fate is setting foot on Gunner’s ship. He’s destined to be the father of this champion.

Gunner’s not interested in any of that. He thinks seeing the future is hogwash until Eve sees an attack that comes to bloody fruition. If it weren’t for annoyances like busted rescav thrusters and firefights in space, he’d have gotten Eve off his ship already.

Because the aliens have visions as well, and they’ve identified Eve as a threat. The aliens will chase her to the dark corners of the galaxy with one goal. Destroy.

Mage Provocateur by Glynn StewartMage Provocateur by Glynn Stewart:

Vengeance hunts them.
Rebellion seeks them.
Loyalty commands them.
The shadows will fear them.

Captain David Rice and Mage Maria Soprano have made their choice, signing up with the Martian Interstellar Security Agency and converting Red Falcon into a covert operations ship for the Protectorate.

Their new duties drag them back into the very underworld they once strove to escape, intentionally provoking the Azure Legacy into a renewed conflict. They find unexpected allies with secret agents from Legatus’s rebellion against Mars as they seek to stop Mikhail Azure’s Blue Star Syndicate from being reborn.

The Azure Legacy wants revenge. Legatus wants blood. David and Maria are bound by the overriding duty of all officers of the Mage-King’s Protectorate:

Protect the innocent.

Spacer by J.A. SutherlandSpacer by J.A. Sutherland:

Jon Bartlett's path is clear before him: finish his last year of schooling, then off on the family's ships to learn the intricacies of interstellar trade. But a message of tragedy at home comes for him, and his expected life is flung far out of reach and he's cast into a role he never wanted.

A portion of Spacer was previously published as the short story Wronged, by J.A. Sutherland
The Promise of a Battered Moon by Jack TengThe Promise of a Battered Moon by Jack Teng:

A planet-killer asteroid is hurtling to Earth and everyone is freaking out. But not Manon Fontaine. She knows what the asteroid really is and it’s hers. Once she controls it, she’ll revive the world’s post-war economy and also her mother’s mining company. But first, she needs to navigate family betrayals and kidnapping attempts before she can finally determine her own fate.

Meanwhile, Ann Wilson, an augmented Union super-soldier, has been having problems (beyond the mental strains of indiscriminate killing): her last targets were blown up with fractional deuterium devices, and made things very messy. Ann hates messes. What she hates more is a commanding officer who jerks her around and then sends her, of all places, to Luna City. Little does she know she’s conducting illegal missions to gain control of the asteroid.

In the middle of it all, is Eric Lin, a Union-born-Chinese thruster mechanic. Because of the war with the PPA, he’s been ostracized and forced off-planet to Luna City and the orbital colonies. All he wants is to be accepted and left in peace. This apparently is too much to ask, as both the Union and the PPA send soldiers to drag him away for the-hell-knows what. The reason is in fact that he holds the key to controlling the asteroid.

Amidst traitorous double-agents and assassinations, Manon, Ann and Eric’s paths collide, leaving a wake of destroyed orbital stations and rampaging mobs, ultimately leading them into a confrontation on the moon.

Sparks Fly by Llinos Cathryn ThomasSparks Fly by Llinos Cathryn Thomas:

After twenty-five years of single-minded determination, Marianne Gordon has finally achieved her ambition and been promoted to Principal of the Vesper School for Zero-Gravity Artistic Display.

But her moment of triumph is cut short when she discovers that she must share her position with Josephine Knight, a celebrated zero-gravity performer who doesn’t know the first thing about teaching. Deeply insulted, Marianne does her best to carry on as though Jo isn’t there, but Jo has a way of making her presence felt.

When the future of Marianne’s beloved school is threatened, Jo may be the only person who can help – but only if Marianne can learn to let her in.

Nepenthe Rising by John TriptychNepenthe Rising by John Triptych:

In the far future, two major factions are locked in a galactic cold war. As tensions mount between the technocratic Union and the genome-harnessing Concordance, both sides anxiously watch for a chance to conquer the other.

The Nepenthe is a pirate vessel, loyal to neither. Led by the enigmatic Captain Dangard, her rough and ready crew includes the cat-like alien Commander Creull, Zeno the immortal synthetic, the dashing Garrett Strand, and Duncan Hauk, a promising young recruit.

Hired by a cryptic employer, the crew waylays a transport ship carrying a mysterious passenger. In due time, this incident sparks the beginnings of an interstellar conflict that could threaten the state of known space.

The first of an epic new sci-fi series, Nepenthe Rising delivers what today's fans want: detailed world-building, thrilling action, and mind-blowing adventure on a grand scale.

Dusthunter by Dean F. WilsonDustrunner by Dean F. Wilson:

Nox is a wanted man.

While searching for a criminal, the fabled Coilhunter wanders into a tribal village massacre. He didn’t do it, but that doesn’t matter. The clues point to him, and he’s made a lot of enemies over the years. Many would happily see the tables turned.

His pleas of innocence fall on deaf ears. No sooner does he try to find the real killers than posters go up across the Wild North—posters with his face and his name. He isn’t the only bounty hunter out there. Dozens assemble to cash him in.

Tasked with finding out who’s framed him, Nox must also survive the constant onslaught of frontier law. He’s used to hunting others. He’s not so used to life on the run.

This is a standalone book in the Coilhunter Chronicles series, which can be read in any order.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for March 30, 2018

It's time for the weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with  Pacific Rim: Uprising, Isle of Dogs, Ready Player One, WonderCon, an uproar about the upcoming Hugo Award finalist announcements 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 Pacific Rim: Uprising

Comments on Ready Player One:

Comments on Isle of Dogs


Writing, publishing and promotion:




Con reports:

Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends: 

Thursday, March 29, 2018

High Barrens (Tales of Haroon, Book 1) by Alice Sabo

Release date: March 29, 2018
Subgenre: Epic fantasy, YA fantasy 

About High Barrens:


Seeing into a soul is easy for Flint.

She can change a life or even the world with her words.

She should have kept her mouth shut.

Flint thought that having six older brothers and growing up in a dangerous frontier town would prepare her for anything. She soon discovers that the world is a lot more complex than she expected, and it’s going to take more than a strong back and good intentions to achieve her goals.

When it comes to magic, all the wishes in the world won’t change who you really are. And sometimes that’s okay.




Flint came home from the graveyard knowing that her life was finally going to change. Her father’s death set things in motion that had been stagnant for far too long. The house was somber with the whispered condolences of her neighbors. She laid out a meal for them taken from the winter stores that she had spent the summer putting up. She could be generous because she knew she wouldn’t need them. There was no reason to stay here anymore.
Only four of her six brothers were present. Steel, the oldest, was a soldier for the King and too far away to return for something as paltry as the death of a father who had disowned him. Flint had sent Steel a warning as soon as she saw her father’s spirit fire dim. Her brother understood what was about to happen. A few weeks later, a bundle of sturdy woolen cloth arrived for her with a handful of silvers hidden inside. She hadn’t seen Steel in years. It was more than she’d expected and a kindness that lightened her burdens.
Granite, the other missing brother, was in the lockup again, probably for another bar fight. He’d been given that name in the hopes that he would be persistent. Instead, he was stubborn and blockheaded. She knew he cared even less than Steel about their father, but she’d have to find him.
“I’m sorry to intrude at a time like this,” said a stocky man in threadbare clothes.
Flint knew he wasn’t the least bit sorry and wondered if he’d had to borrow those clothes to present such an impoverished aspect. “Good day, Mortar,” she said civilly.
“I’m wondering about the bills.”
She knew this was coming. Her father owned money to a lot of people. “I promised you’d be paid. It’ll take a bit of time to sort it all out, but everyone will be paid.”
He scrutinized her with a sour look. She held her head high. There was nothing for her to be ashamed of. The debts weren’t hers. But she had promised everyone in town that they would be paid. Mortar finally came to the conclusion that pestering wouldn’t advance his cause and slunk away. She let out a soft breath of relief.
Her other brothers stood awkwardly by the hearth, heads hanging, brows furrowed. Not a one of them mourned. Their father had been a hard man, unfair and selfish. It was a relief that he had finally passed, and yet it was still hard to lose a parent. He had been a larger than life figure, ordering her about for her entire life. She would miss him in a fashion, but she didn’t mourn him either.


Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Apple iTunes 


About Alice Sabo:

Alice Sabo is the author of science fiction, fantasy and mystery novels. She lives in North Carolina, where she gardens with hopes of outwitting the ravenous wildlife. You can find all her series, the order in which to read them, along with maps and other extras on her website.

Website | Blog | Facebook


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Guest post by Claire Fitzpatrick: Body horror: the gory ‘what if’ of speculative fiction.

Body horror: the gory ‘what if’ of speculative fiction

There seems to be this idea that body horror, or splatterpunk, is not worthy of literary credit. A lot of people think horror needs to raise its game, specifically in our postmodern capitalist world, constantly changing and evolving. Some people feel horror needs to change, too. But I think they’re reading the wrong books. People say they’re just not scared by literature anymore, that they’re numb to horror because of all the exposure to the overload of Netflix original paranormal films. But there is so much more to horror that has not yet been embraced. Specifically, body horror.

I am a speculative fiction author, though I mostly write body horror. I first stumbled across the term after I discovered Clive Barker. My friend gave me his 1987 dark fantasy novel Weaveworld and I instantly fell in love. I immediately requested more books. So, my friend sent me more, and I gradually fell under the spell of Barker’s highly imaginative writing, and his tales of body horror, and I begun to focus my own writing on body horror, firstly because I loved it, and secondly because I realised it was a way for me to put pen to paper my frustration and grief over the struggle of having Epilepsy. Since my diagnosis at 12 years old I always felt my own body betrayed me, but with body horror I found comfort, I found solace. I found a way to write about how I felt disconnected from my body in a therapeutic way.

Earlier this year, Breach magazine editor Bartholomew Ford called me ‘Australia’s body horror specialist.’ The title was extremely bizarre, as I don’t feel like any kind of specialist at all. Sure, I’ve been a panellist at speculative fiction conventions, but a specialist? The idea was absurd. But then I realised I was one of the few Australian speculative fiction authors who wrote body horror. If you type ‘Australian body horror writers’ in Google, my name shows up on the first page. If you type in ‘Claire Fitzpatrick body horror’ a list of my published short stories appears. It’s very strange. Yet it makes me question body horror as a genre in Australia. Why is it not as celebrated as other types of horror? What makes it a sub-genre at all?

I think a lot of people tend to assume body horror authors can’t write anything else, which is simply not true. I describe myself as a speculative fiction author as I also write paranormal, science fiction, and even dark fantasy. However, body horror, for me, is deeply personal. There are an overwhelming number of horror authors in Australia, all fantastic storytellers, but visceral horror tends to be overlooked. And for me, it’s very strange.

Horror boomed in the 1980’s, and when Clive Barker dropped like a bombshell on the scene it was truly a revolutionary time. Clive Barker pushed horror to its limits, then twisted them up and spat them out with his writing that was so incredibly original there was no one to compare him to. His writing – about sexuality, pain, pleasure, seduction – was so deep, so grotesquely beautiful, and pushed all taboo subjects out the window. Yet Barker didn’t care. For him, he was just getting started. But his writing, as grotesque as it is, is gargantuan, outlandish, and incredibly erotic. I suppose, for me, his writing gave me confidence in my own.

When I first started writing I had no idea my stories fell under the body horror umbrella term, and it wasn’t until I discovered Clive Barker that I realised there were other people, other writers, who understood just important the genre means to me. Body horror explores the ‘what if’ of horror. What if a person’s body suddenly grew into a tree overnight? What if you woke up with an eye on the back of your head? What if you shed your skin like a snake, leaving one aspect of yourself behind and embracing another? The idea is boundless. And it’s this ‘what if’ idea that excites me and fuels my own writing.

Clive Barker

My forthcoming short story The Eagle (to be published by Disturbed Digest as the June feature story) is a culmination of all my experiments with body horror wrapped up into something I couldn’t dream of writing when I first started. Although my first professional publication Madeline (published in Midnight Echo Issue 11 and republished in Dead Of Night: The Best Of Midnight Echo) was a tale of pubescent body horror, it was only after it was published that I began to take myself seriously as a body horror writer. My short story Synthetic (First published in Breach Magazine, republished in Phantaxis magazine) is a story I consider to be a cousin of Madeline, as I realised my writing had a theme to it, and it was something I wanted to continue writing. While I love being called ‘Australia’s body horror specialist’ I prefer the term ‘speculative fiction author’ to describe my work, since my other upcoming story Deep Sea Fishing (to be published soon by Black Beacon Books) is a paranormal tale with a twist. But I think that’s the good thing about being a speculative fiction author – you can write about different sub-genres and explore your own creativity. And while body horror is my favourite genre to write, I understand it’s still a niche sub-genre of Australian horror, especially since a lot of magazines specifically mention they don’t like body horror or splatterpunk in their submission guidelines, so I tend to branch out and take my writing down different avenues.

The best advice I would give for authors thinking about travelling down the road of body horror is to just go with it. There are not a lot of Clive Barker’s in this world, but I believe in time body horror will rise up, and I know it’ll be bloody awesome. I look forward to sharing my forthcoming short stories with everyone!

Claire Fitzpatrick

 About Claire Fitzpatrick: 

Claire Fitzpatrick is an author of speculative fiction and non-fiction. She has been a panellist at Conflux in Canberra and Continuum in Melbourne. Called 'Australia's body horror specialist' by Bartholemew Ford, editor of Breach magazine, she enjoys writing about the human body and the darker side of humanity. Her short story Madeline - first published in Midnight Echo 11 - was republished in Dead Of Night - The Best Of Midnight Echo. Several of her short stories have won minor university-level writing awards. She lives in Brisbane. Visit her at

Deep Sea Fishing will appear in Shelter From The Storm, an anthology from Black Beacon Books.
The Eagle will appear in Disturbed Digest, published by Alban Lake Publishing.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Double Trouble (Hal Spacejock, Book 8) by Simon Haynes

Release date: March 15, 2018
Subgenre: Humorous science fiction 

About Double Trouble:


Hal Spacejock dons a flash suit, hypershades and a curly earpiece for a stint as a secret agent, while Clunk is invited to a ‘unique business opportunity’ by a pair of rusted friends.
Inevitably, things turn sour, and it’s all hands to the pumps as the good ship Spacejock springs leaks from stem to stern.



There was a split second and then the doors opened. Matt dived out, executing a graceful half-roll and bringing his weapon to bear. Hal tripped over his dressing gown and fell on his face with a thud. His knives slid across the marble floor, the blast rifle knocked him in the back of the head and something rolled past his nose with a beeping sound.
Around the lobby, conversations ceased and guests lowered their newspapers to observe the disturbance.
"Grenade!" shouted Hal. "Incoming! Fire in the hole! Run!"
Pandemonium reigned as guests leapt up and ran to and fro, shrieking wildly. In the confusion Hal kicked the grenade into the lift, reached inside and pressed the UP button. He withdrew his arm just before the doors closed, and then he loosed off several shots at the roof for good measure.
Dust rained down, and the elevator doors bulged. Hal saw Matt gesturing towards the exit, and they left on the tail of the fleeing crowd. They ran past the doorman and straight into the road, where there was a savage whine of airbrakes as a groundcar came to an emergency stop. The window went down and the driver leaned out. "This is a road, you maniac! You ever hear of sidewalks?"
Hal plucked a grenade from his belt and held it up between thumb and forefinger. "How'd you like an ornament for your dashboard?"
The driver ducked back inside and the car roared away. Hal grinned to himself as he went to put the grenade back, then stopped grinning when he realised the pin was hanging from his belt. He held the grenade to his ear and his heart stopped as he heard a frantic beeping over the noise of the crowd. It was live!
"Grenade! Everyone down!" he shouted, then rolled it under a black van parked nearby. The doors opened and three men tumbled out, running headlong down the road, shedding curly earpieces, sunglasses and guns. The vehicle erupted in a giant ball of fire, sailing several meters into the air before landing on its side, a blackened crumpled wreck. Fortunately, the vehicle had absorbed and deadened the blast, but even so it had been a lucky escape, and Hal vowed to treat his remaining grenades more carefully.
He ran to the pavement, where Matt was waiting for him, his back to the wall and his weapon drawn. "Did you get a look at them?"
Hal shook his head. "Came out of nowhere."
"They seem to be targeting you. You'll have to be careful."
Silently, Hal agreed.

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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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Saturday, March 24, 2018

Interview with Dyane Forde, author of Berserker (Book 3 of the Rise of the Papilion Trilogy)

Today on the Speculative Fiction Showcase, we talk to author Dyane Forde about her recently released novel Berserker, the third and final instalment of the Rise of the Papilion Trilogy.

1. Your novel Berserker, Book 3 of the Rise of the Papilion Trilogy, was released on March 8th. For readers who are new to the Trilogy, can you tell us a little about the story?
The Purple Morrow is the introduction to the trilogy, so it sets up the main characters, their world, and the various conflicts. At first, the story was supposed to be one book. I wanted to chronicle the journey of a man (Jeru) at his lowest point who, through various situations, finds resolution and transformation at the other end of the proverbial tunnel. So, why not write about a young man whose wife dies on their wedding night and, guilt-ridden, decides he can’t face the future? That is, until his homeland is threatened by the same Beast-Men who destroyed his village years before, he stumbles upon someone from his past who complicates his already complicated life, finds out he’s the saviour of mankind, while dealing with the most terrifying thing of all: the threat of falling in love again. Book 2, Wolf’s Bane, deepens the overarching mythology and sets up the final conflict between the two main characters, which takes place in book 3, Berserker. Clicking on the hyperlinks will bring you to my blog for a ‘behind the scenes’ look into each book’s backstory. 

2. What inspired you become a writer, and a writer of Fantasy?
I've loved books from the time I was a kid and always had one tucked away somewhere. That evolved into a desire to write, especially after I realized how flexible writing could be when I was in the first grade. I discovered that the sense and feel of a sentence changed depending on how words were put together. I always liked puzzles, and I think writing stories became a kind of a puzzle to me: how to put words together to describe what I was thinking or feeling. 

My short stories and flash fiction touch various styles and genres but my novels lean towards fantasy. I think it’s because I have the freedom to create a world from scratch that best suits my story and characters. 

3. Are they any books that have influenced you as a writer?
Hills like White Elephants, by Ernest Hemingway, was a short story that left a deep imprint on me. I read it in high school and was gobsmacked by how much story he told with so few words. I imitated that style for many years.

Clan of the Cave Bear, by Jean M. Auel, was a book I really enjoyed because of the world-building. Though it was a foreign, pre-historic world, Auel wrote it in a way that made it feel real; it was easy to picture. I tried to model that a lot in my trilogy.  

There are a slew of Margaret Atwood books I love. She’s such a smart, witty, enlightened author that it’s hard not to admire her work. 

4. Your story deals with two men, Kelen and Jeru, whose struggle will influence their world for good or evil. Have your characters ever surprised you when you were writing their story?
Good question! As for Jeru, not really. He’s the Everyman struggling to cope with huge responsibilities that often conflict with each other with the confidence and understanding of a regular guy. I expected him to struggle and fret but ultimately grow through the course of the story. 

Kelen is different. He wasn’t in the original cast, but suddenly popped into my head one day as I was walking to the bus and thinking about what the story needed for an upcoming chapter. He appeared fully-realized. So everything about him was a surprise!

5. What films are you watching at the moment, at the cinema or on DVD, a streaming service, etc?
Oh, I pretty much scour Netflix for quirky movies, low-budget movies (they aren’t all bad and I’ve found a few gems!), anime, and a lot of foreign movies and shows. I find it refreshing to watch foreign programs and films because the point of view, values, production, and writing are often different to North America’s. I really enjoyed the German series, Dark, and I frequently watch Korean movies. I enjoy listening to foreign languages. 

6. Do you read any other kinds of fiction?
I used to read a lot of science-fiction and, in fact, I think that was my go-to genre for years. I also read some mysteries or thrillers, but sadly, I don’t have a lot of time to read at the moment. The last books I read were some of Terry Brooks’ Shannara series (I really liked the Isle Witch), as well some of the YA books my daughter reads. I particularly liked The Rains and Last Chance by Gregg Hurwitz. She likes that I show an interest in what she reads and we talk about the books afterwards. She’s a voracious reader, like I was. 

7. When world-building, where do you start? With the characters, or the place?
I think the characters come first. I figure out who they are and what their story is and then figure out what kind of world made or influenced them. A lot of the time, I end up building the world as I write the story—I’m not much of a planner. 

8. Are you a planner or a “pantser”? Or a little of both?
Honestly, I don’t plan books in advance on paper. I spend a lot of time thinking and arranging things in my head and then sit down to write. I write the story sequentially. I don’t know why, but the moment I write something down, like an idea for a scene, I lose interest. It’s like currency that’s been spent. I’m also terrible at taking notes while I write. That’s one reason editing and rewriting the trilogy was so painful. But, I’ve come to accept it as part of my process and get on with it. 

9. Is this the final book in the series, or will there be more?
Berserker is the last book in this series. But, the world of Marathana is rich, and there are so many other interesting characters in it that I could see myself expanding the world by featuring some of them. 

10. What next – another novel, or some shorts?
Right now, I have no immediate plans to write another book. I have some manuscripts on the backburner waiting to be rewritten or developed, but I’ve got a lot on my plate: a new blog in addition to my regular writing blog, I’m co-leading a writing group on Scribophile, plus I have a job and a family. I do participate in flash fiction contests from time to time, but most of the writing I do right now is article-related for blog or guest blogs. 

11. How do you think things are for indie fantasy writers?
I think sites like yours are doing a great job exposing us to new readers. (Thank you! SpecFic Showcase) There are so many fantasy books out there that it’s hard to get attention, especially for independent authors who might be better at writing than marketing. I’m happy that there is such an interest and demand for the genre and that writers are responding to the demand. Sites like yours make it easier for authors and readers to find each other. 


 “Love…can destroy, it can build, or it can do both at once. One must not underestimate the human bond.” –the Lightbearer

With the Papilion’s whereabouts unknown, the Shadow pursues its plan for Marathana’s destruction. In control of the Northern tribes and strengthened by allies in the Deep Southernlands, the Shadow prepares to unleash its ultimate weapon, the berserker.
Jeru’s sudden reappearance reveals the presence of a powerful, new will at work. Blessed by the Lightbearer and supported by a ragtag group of survivors and unexpected allies, Jeru prepares to lead the small army into enemy territory.  

As war breaks, Kelen and Jeru clash one last time. One seeks to destroy, the other to save. The strongest will prevail, sealing Marathana’s ultimate fate.

About Dyane Forde:

Forde's love of writing began with an early interest in reading and of words in general. She was amazed at how linking words together in different ways had unexpected and pleasing results on others. This sparked a life-long desire to write all types of things, from short stories, novels, flash fiction, to poetry. Berserker, Book 3 of the Rise of the Papilion trilogy, is Forde's third published book. The trilogy is available on Amazon. For more, visit her on her blog.

Where to buy: Amazon

Friday, March 23, 2018

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for March 23, 2018

It's time for the weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with feminist science fiction, Black Panther, Black Lightning season 2 of Jessica Jones, the last ever episode of The X-Files, Pacific Rim: Uprising, Isle of Dogs, Krypton, Ready Player One 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 Black Panther:

Comments on Black Lightning

Comments on season 2 of Jessica Jones:

Comments on The X-Files finale: 

Comments on Pacific Rim: Uprising:

Comments on Isle of Dogs:

Comments on Krypton

Comments on Ready Player One:


Writing, publishing and promotion:




Con reports:

Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends: