Monday, April 30, 2018

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for April 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 March 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, historical fantasy, paranormal mystery, paranormal romance, science fiction romance, space opera, military science fiction, near future science fiction, science fiction mystery, science fantasy, post-apocalyptic fiction, alternate history, horror, weird fiction, non-fiction collections, dragons, knights, dark elves, gargoyles, grim reapers, shifters, superheroes, airships, aliens, mercenaries, yakuza, space mages, mutants, killer plagues, windwalkers, space cops, lovers on the run, foiled weddings, Bonnie and Clyde redeemed, new books by a Hugo finalist, a Nebula finalist and a Kitschies winner 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:

Murder on the Titania and Other Steam-Powered Adventures by Alex Acks:

Captain Marta Ramos, the most notorious pirate in the Duchy of Denver, has her hands full between fascinating murder mysteries, the delectable and devious Delilah Nimowitz, Colonel Geoffrey Douglas (the Duke of Denver’s new head of security), a spot of airship engineering and her usual activities: piracy, banditry and burglary. Not to mention the horror of high society tea parties. In contrast, Simms, her second in command, longs only for a quiet life, filled with tasty sausages and fewer explosions. Or does he? Join Captain Ramos, Simms and their crew as they negotiate the perils of air, land and drawing room in a series of fast-paced adventures in a North America that never was.

Murder on the Titania and Other Steam-Powered Adventures includes 4 novellas and a short story about piracy, banditry, burglary, jail-breaking, several brilliant bits of detective work and all manner of otherwise lawless hijinks performed by the valiant Captain Ramos and her crew.

Murder on the Titania: Colonel Geoffrey Douglas, the Duke of Denver’s new head of security, is drawn into a high society murder mystery on the Airship Titania. None of the passengers are quite what they seem, including the mysterious young woman who always turns up where she is least expected.

The Curious Case of Clementine Nimowitz (and Her Exceedingly Tiny Dog):
A simple burglary goes horribly awry when Captain Ramos and Simms stumble across a dead body, a small dog and the deceased’s heirs, the noisome Morris and the rather too interesting Delilah.

The Jade Tiger: a mysterious woman enlists Captain Ramos’s aid in getting her revenge on her former employer and Captain Ramos finds herself doing an unintentional good deed.

The Ugly Tin Orrery: Captain Ramos and her crew embark on what appears to be a perfectly ordinary train robbery, only to be drawn into the Duke of Denver’s political machinations via a strange metal artifact. Throw in a spot of jail breaking and an encounter with the lovely Delilah, and it’s all in a day’s work for Captain Ramos and Simms.

The Flying Turk: The Airship Titania is entering a new era and welcoming its first automaton pilot. Or, perhaps not. Captain Ramos and Simms are back aboard the Titania for a heady mix of murder, robbery, peeved scientists and oblivious peers, with a spot of engineering thrown in.

The Knight's Secret by Jeffrey BardwellThe Knight’s Secret by Jeffrey Bardwell:

Sir Corbin, the retired Hero of Jerkum Pass, rides for honor, glory, and his pension with the aid of a magic ring. The knight’s mission takes him to the capital of the Iron Empire. The city is in an uproar. The emperor has been slain by rogue mages. The new empress is livid. Soon all mages are suspect... including Corbin’s daughter.

When Corbin dies on the eve of the mission, his granddaughter Kelsa dons his armor, his manner, and his face to save her mother. Hidden behind the magic ring, she infiltrates his old regiment. The army has become a slithering nest of vipers. Imperial mages and cavalrymen move warily around each other. Both sides snare the disguised hero in tight coils of suspicion, politics, and lies. When the vengeful empress launches a vendetta against all mage kind, Kelsa must decide whether to save her family or preserve the empire.

Unravel The Knight’s Secret, the first fantasy adventure of The Mage Conspiracy series. Discover a world of lurid entanglements and political intrigue where lies cut deeper than any sword.

Fire Ant by Jonathan P. BrazeeFire Ant by Jonathan P. Brazee:

Floribeth Salinas O’Shae Dalisay is an Off-Planet Worker, employed as an exploration pilot by the giant corporation, Hamdani Brothers. Sent on a routine mission to analyze one of the millions of systems in the galaxy, she stumbles across something that could threaten humanity’s very existence. She barely escapes with her life, but in the process, has to shut down her scout’s AI.

As with all OPWs, she has few rights, and instead of being lauded as a hero, the corporation thinks she is lying. Her managers believe she found something valuable and shut down her AI in an attempt to hide that fact, hoping she can sell that information to the highest bidder. Grounded, and with a huge debt now over her head, Beth has to convince the powers that be that a very real danger to humanity is lying in wait out there in deep space.

C.H.U.D. Lives! edited by Eric S. BrownC.H.U.D Lives! A Tribute Anthology, edited by Eric S. Brown:

Today’s top Horror and SF authors pay tribute to C.H.U.D. in this anthology of original fiction.

C.H.U.D. is a genre defying, cult classic film featuring monsters living in the sewers below New York. The stories in this anthology expand the world created by the film and add depth to the C.H.U.D. universe like never before. From stories of apocalyptic horror and all out monster action, to tales of underground parties interrupted by uninvited guests and evening strolls that end in death, this anthology will leave you both smiling and breathless.

Relive the fear as these original stories take you beyond the movie to events that occurred before, during, and after the scenes we remember so well.

Includes C.H.U.D. related stories by Jonathan Maberry, Tim Waggoner, JG Faherty, Mort Castle, Michael H. Hanson, Martin Powell, Ben Fisher, Jason White, Chad Lutzke, Ross Baxter, Philip C Perron, David Bernstein, Nick Cato, Alex Laybourne, Christopher Fulbright, Angeline Hawkes, David Robbins, Robert Waters, Greg Mitchell, Ryan C. Thomas, and Eugene Johnson.
With an introduction by David Drake. Compiled by Eric S. Brown.

C.H.U.D. Lives! also features in-depth interviews with Andrew Bonime (producer) and Parnell Hall (screenwriter), as well as never before seen behind-the-scenes photos from the classic 80s horror film.

Vampire Vigilante by Elena BryceVampire Vigilante by Elena Bryce:

A kick-ass heroine and a gargoyle with a stone age view of women

Iona Thorn is an immortal with a gift. She can see into the hearts of man and know exactly how much evil dwells there. But as a Guardian, Iona won’t take a human life, no matter how corrupt they may be. Instead she uses her talents to rid the world of the darker strain of vampires, and L.A. is rife with them.

While battling to hold on to her most treasured possession, a stake that contains a genuine nail of the cross, Iona accidentally awakens a gargoyle. Edrick might share her passion for justice, but he has the manners and instincts of another era, and is determined to protect her, even from herself.

Iona wants to reclaim her holy stake, but the enemy may be too formidable to beat, unless a strapping hunk of stone can be convinced to weigh in. But the longer Edrick remains awake the weaker he gets, and even a rock can break…

Freedom's Horizon by Cora BuhlertFreedom’s Horizon by Cora Buhlert

Once, Anjali Patel and Mikhail Grikov were soldiers on opposing sides of an intergalactic war. They met, fell in love and decided to go on the run together.

Now Anjali and Mikhail are trying to eke out a living on the independent worlds of the galactic rim, while attempting to stay under the radar of those pursuing them.

After a run-in with a Republican spy on the rim world of Metra Litko, Anjali and Mikhail need to get off planet fast. So they sign on as security aboard the freighter Freedom’s Horizon, which is supposed to transport a valuable cargo through pirate infested space.

But they have far bigger problems than pirates, for the Republic of United Planets sends no less than three battlecruisers after them, commanded by none other than Colonel Brian Mayhew, Mikhail’s former superior and now their most determined pursuer.

The chase culminates in a stand-off in orbit around Metra Litko, where Anjali and Mikhail have to make a fatal choice. Fight and endanger the innocent crew of the Freedom’s Horizon or surrender and face death and worse at the hands of the Republic.

This is a short novel of 55000 words or approximately 185 print pages in the “In Love and War” series, but may be read as a standalone.

Double-Cross by Cora BuhlertDouble-Cross by Cora Buhlert:

Once, Anjali Patel and Mikhail Grikov were soldiers on opposing sides of an intergalactic war. They met, fell in love and decided to go on the run together.

Now Anjali and Mikhail are trying to eke out a living on the independent worlds of the galactic rim, while attempting to stay under the radar of those pursuing them.

When they are hired to retrieve a shipment of bootleg medical nanobots, it seems like a routine job at first. But it quickly turns out that they are not the only ones who are after the nanobots. And their client has an agenda of her own.

This is a story of 5100 words or approx. 20 print pages in the “In Love and War” series, but may be read as a standalone.

Oaths by Lindsay BurokerOaths by Lindsay Buroker:

General Ridgewalker Zirkander is getting married.

Sardelle—the woman who’s battled dragons, shamans, and countless enemy soldiers at his side—has accepted his proposal, and it’s the perfect time for a wedding. It’s been two months since any dragons or sorceresses attacked the city, the Cofah haven’t come after their kidnapped emperor, and King Angulus has stopped yelling at Ridge for his inadvertent role in destroying the castle.

Yes, it’s the perfect time for a wedding.

Never mind that the resident dragon who thinks he’s a god is pressuring Ridge to build a temple for him, or that the pirate-turned-scientist Tolemek has disappeared. Or that Ridge’s mother is on the verge of discovering that magic exists and her future daughter-in-law is a sorceress. These are small hiccups, and the wedding will go smoothly. Ridge is sure of it. Really.

Windwalker. Forbidden Flight by H.G. ChambersWindwalker: Forbidden Flight by H.G. Chambers:

Sixteen-year-old Kiva Fariq has always dreamed of soaring on the four-winged raptors that scour the desert skies. But the windwalker sect is closed off to women. What’s more, it’s said the deadly predators can only be bonded by men.

Undeterred, Kiva attempts the deadly windwalker trials in secret. Should she survive, she will face an even greater challenge: bonding a raptor of her own. When signs of an ancient enemy appear upon the plains, she desires more than ever to protect her people. But the threat is closer than anyone realizes, and will soon bury them all in a tomb of sand and stone—unless she can stop it.

Shards of the Nightmare by Joel CornahShards of the Nightmare by Joel Cornah:

They expected her to die within hours of being born, this strange child with blue skin. But she grew; unnatural, wild, curious and defiant.

And then her mother found the Sea-Stone Sword, and her father became a tyrant.

Torn between who she is and who she wants to be, Sini follows her bodyguard into the forgotten lands and the forbidden seas, searching for an answer that the Seers have sought for centuries: how can they defeat a tyrant? How can the Sea-Stone Sword be silenced?

And the answer lies in the Shards of the Nightmare.

Scylla and Charybdis by Lindsey DuncanScylla and Charybdis by Lindsey Duncan:

Anaea Carlisle, raised on an isolated space station populated solely by women, believes the rest of the universe has been plunged into anarchy and ruin by an alien-engineered disease known as Y-Poisoning. On a salvage mission, she helps rescue a hypermental named Gwydion who challenges everything she thought she knew.

Forced to flee the station with Gwydion, Anaea finds herself in an inexplicable, often hostile world, permanently divided between the Galactic Collective and the Pinnacle Empire. She longs for some place to call home, but first, she’ll have to survive …

Yesterday's Spacemage by Timothy EllisYesterday’s Spacemage by Timothy Ellis

Pirates and Slavers Beware, the Space Mage is coming for you!

All Thorn wanted, was to be a Battle Mage.
He had the talent, and his whole future was before him.

On the day of Choosing, he finds things don’t always go as planned. Suddenly Thorn’s life is thrown into fast forward, and he finds himself in a world not of his own choosing.

In a world of spaceships and blasters, instead of horses and swords, Thorn needs to adapt and survive, make new allies, and rediscover that although nothing is familiar, he’s still a Mage, and pirates and slavers beware.

Yesterday is history, and today he’s become, Yesterday’s Spacemage.

The Big Bumper Felapton Digest 2017 by Camestros FelaptonThe Big Bumper Felapton Digest 2017 by Camestros Felapton:

An exciting compilation of essay, pictures and nonsense from the 2018 Hugo Award Finalist for Best Fanwriter, Camestros Felapton. Featuring Timothy the Talking Cat and Susan Triceracopter, the collection is a meandering sample of posts from the eponymous blog Covering topics such as The Last Jedi, Doctor Who and the sureal politics of 2017, the digest is Lancashire hotpot of gravy, potatoes and strange bits of meat in a tasty gravy. Enjoy!

Magic After Midnight by C. GockelMagic After Midnight by C. Gockel:

Magic is real, and Marcia’s life is a fairy tale. Except, according to her stepdaughter, she’s the wicked stepmother. Undermined by a meddling godmother, Marcia is struggling to raise three teenagers in a world of enchantment and monsters. When she’s introduced to a Night Elf who appears half her age, love is the last thing on her mind.

Count Darerick Razvano is a Night Elf–please don’t call him a vampire! Fighting for the survival of his race, he has no time for matters of the heart. When a charming widow inadvertently threatens the Night Elves’ most carefully guarded secret, Darerick must seek Marcia out to save his people.

Marcia’s devoted to get children. Dare’s determined to save his race. They aren’t looking for love, but love might find them.

In a world of monsters, love may save Night Elves and humans alike.

A standalone, slow burn, paranormal romance in the world of I Bring the Fire.

Harriet Walsh: Peace Force by Simon HaynesHarriet Walsh: Peace Force by Simon Haynes:

Harriet Walsh is desperate for work, but when an intergalactic crime-fighting organisation offers her a job she’s convinced it’s a mistake. She dislikes puzzles, has never read a detective mystery, and hates wearing uniforms. So why did the Peace Force pick her?

Who cares? Harriet needs the money, and she’s happy to go along with the training for as long as they keep paying her. She’d better dig out some of those detective mysteries though, because she’s about to embark on her first real mission…

Dam Nation by Clark Hays and Kathleen McFallBonnie and Clyde: Dam Nation by Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall:

 Saving the working class from a river of greed.

The year is 1935 and the Great Depression has America in a death grip of poverty, unemployment and starvation. But the New Deal is rekindling hope, with federally funded infrastructure projects, like Hoover Dam, putting people back to work. Set to harness the mighty Colorado River for electricity and irrigation, the dam is an engineering marvel and symbol of American can-do spirit.

So, why is someone trying to blow it up?

When an informant on the construction site is murdered, Bonnie and Clyde—spared from their gruesome deaths and forced into a covert life working for the government—are given their second assignment: stop the bomb and protect the thousands of laborers and families in the company town. It’s their most dangerous mission yet: working for a living.

Can the notorious lovers put aside their criminal ways long enough to find out who wants to extinguish the American dream, and hopefully reclaim a shred of redemption along the way?
The thrilling story cuts back and forth between the modern era where a reporter interviews the now-elderly Bonnie Parker, and the dangerous 1930s undercover exploits of Bonnie and Clyde, as they are thrust into a fight to defend the working class against corporate greed.

Dam Nation continues the explosive “what-if” series about two unlikely heroes fighting to defend the working class during America’s Great Depression, a historical thriller with unsettling contemporary parallels.

Kiss of the Demon Girl by Eddie R. HicksKiss of the Demon Girl by Eddie R. Hicks:

Ruthless, foulmouthed, and sometimes drunk. That’s me on a good day. Just imagine what I’m like on a bad day.

My name is Reika. I don’t know who I am anymore other than the following facts:

I’m unlikeable.
I used to be a member of the Yakuza.
I think a succubus has a thing for me.
The police shot me six times.

After my discharge from the hospital I learned that I had the unique talent to control fire. That’s right, a modern day pyromancer. I have no idea where these powers came from, the doctor that worked on me upped and vanished, along with all records of me ever being admitted to the hospital.

That’s when shady people from the shadows began to stalk me, some even had the balls to attack me. Don’t worry, I flambéed them all, I can take care of myself. What I am worried about are the people of New York City. Who’s going to defend them when my war with these shadow people reaches a boiling point?

I don’t want to be a heroine. I just want my life back.

Star Warrior by Isaac HookeStar Warrior by Isaac Hooke:

In a galaxy where the fabric of reality can be bent and shaped by a privileged few, and almost any skill desired is a mere injection away, one young man is thrust into the fight of his life.

Tane, a hydroponics engineer with some mean crop gene-splicing skills, decides to get chipped. The operation gives him full control over his autonomic nervous and endocrine systems, plus the ability to install custom memories.

All seems well until a couple of days later aliens come knocking at his door. And they aren’t the friendly type.

Soon Tane finds himself on a frenzied flight across the galaxy with a woman who can warp the very fabric of spacetime, her partner–who’d just as soon kill Tane than protect him–and a starship that calls him snarky pet names. He’s on the run not simply from the aliens but the whole damn human space navy.

He only wished he knew why.

Unfortunately for Tane, the answer might just destroy him. Not to mention the entire known universe.

Rectifier - The Electric Man by Brian D. HowardRectifier – The Electric Man by Brian D. Howard:

Oliver Stewart just wanted to be left alone after his life fell apart. He never expected to be kidnapped by a secret lab and dumped in a mass grave, left for dead as a failed experiment.

Except it didn’t fail.
Now he can control electricity.

When the people he feels most responsible for, some only teenagers, are abducted by the same men in their van, the clock ticks down before they end up dead—or worse.

To save them he’ll have to confront his most shameful mistakes, find the lab to mount an impossible rescue, and pick sides in a vicious gang war with far-reaching implications.

This gritty, must-read adventure is the second book in the After the Crash superhero series but stands alone as a complete story.

Blank Tapes Volume 2, edited by Paul HuxleyBlank Tapes Volume 2: more weird and dangerous tales, edited by Paul Huxley:

‘blank tapes’ returns with 17 new weird and dangerous tales. This is not a typical collection of stories. If you feel discomfort, uneasiness, a sense of disassociation and mild paranoia after reading these stories the publisher cannot be held responsible.

‘blank tapes’ is a challenging and daring mix of poetry, experimental fiction and short stories with dark themes. It is not for the faint of heart, weak of bladder and narrow of mind. Inside you will find missives from the outer parts of human experience, and a few from beyond that, which have slipped through the cracks in reality to find their way into your hands.

Perimeter by David M. KellyPerimeter by David M. Kelly:

PERIMETER – Deceit has no boundaries

Joe Ballen’s working on a new ore-processing platform in the harsh environment around Mercury. When a savage Atoll attack decimates his crew, Joe is injured and must return to Earth to recover. While it’s a setback for the project, at least it means he can rebuild his relationship with his wife after nearly a year away.

But then the security forces come calling. Vital starship engineering files are missing, and without them Earth has no hope of escaping Atoll domination. Someone has to locate the files, and Ballen is bulldozed into the not-so-choice assignment.

But he’s not the only one in the hunt. As Joe struggles to find the data, he becomes tangled up in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse. It’s a journey that will take him to the perilous depths of space, where no one is quite what they seem. Can old enemies ever make good allies? And can Joe trust even the people closest to him?

Ballen’s back in another action-packed sci-fi noir thriller, guaranteed to keep you turning the pages.

Blood Lore by Erme LanderBlood Lore by Erme Lander:

You are always welcome to come home… aren’t you?

“The saw rasped against bone and Mika clenched her jaw as her own teeth remembered the red stained ivory sliding beneath them. A crack of powerful muscles and the marrow laid bare. Ears back, eyes hooded – watching. She knows the man will die on the table.”

After five years of hard study, Mika has achieved the rank of Journeyman Medici. Few know that she is a girl pretending to be a boy in the male dominated world of Ackbarr. Far fewer know of the animal concealed beneath her skin.

Searching for any knowledge of her kind, she is determined to travel back to Cassai. The forests of her childhood are seductive, calling to the memories buried deep within but she discovers that her world has moved on without her. Or maybe it never was as she remembers.

The events in this book take place about five years after those in “The Lion of Ackbarr.”

Book One of The Medici Chronicles

Grim Tempest by Amanda M. LeeGrim Tempest by Amanda M. Lee:

Life should be good for Aisling Grimlock. She’s engaged to a great guy, she’s getting the hang of being a reaper, and her rich father spoils her rotten on a regular basis. All that changes when a series of storms hit and the Michigan populace starts turning downright dangerous.

The streets are running with blood as people turn on one another for no good reason and the hospital is filling up with the sick and injured. That’s on top of the ones who are dying in terrible fashion … and leaving nothing but angst in their wake.

Right from the beginning, Aisling is convinced the storms are magical in origin. Of course, because she’s prone to theatrical fits, no one believes her … until the storms hit a little too close to home and Aisling herself is in danger from the one person she trusts above all others.

As a cop, Griffin Davenport is used to putting his life on the line. What he’s not comfortable with is being a threat to the people he’s supposed to be helping. The storms, you see, don’t affect reapers but those they love are in a heap of danger.

Aisling is determined to find the source of the storms, even if it leads to someone in her own family. She’s willing to claw, scratch and fight until the danger is eliminated. She’s also willing to whine, cajole and beg if it means she gets her way.

A big fight is coming, and it will be under a cloudy sky. Will the Grimlocks live to reap another day or have they finally found an enemy that’s big enough to take them out?

Suicide Run by Nathan LowellSuicide Run by Nathan Lowell:

A new ship. A young crew.
A dream job gone horribly wrong.

When circumstances drive Zoya and Natalya to accept an offer from the most powerful organization in the Western Annex, it looks like their ship – literally – comes in. The job fails to live up to its promise and the pair soon find themselves fighting for their lives against a booby trapped ship and its unseen master.

Will they unmask their enemies and survive their Suicide Run?

Of Blood and Ashes by Kyoko M.Of Blood and Ashes by Kyoko M.

The world’s deadliest dragon, the infamous Baba Yaga, is loose on the streets of Tokyo.

Dr. Rhett “Jack” Jackson and Dr. Kamala Anjali have been tasked with helping the government take down a dragon the size of a Tyrannosaurus Rex after it sends part of the city up in flames. Things worsen when they lose track of dragon in none other than Aokigahara, the Suicide Forest–a section of woods in Japan that is rumored to be one of the most haunted places on earth. They’ve also got the yakuza who cloned the dragon hellbent on getting her back, and they don’t care who they kill in order to re-capture the dragon.

Jack and Kamala are joined by CIA field agent William Fry and dragon-hunting expert Juniper Snow as they infiltrate the forest to hunt the dragon before she can hurt anyone else. Between the ruthless yakuza hot on their trail and the growing mistrust in their small hunting party, it will take a miracle for Jack and Kamala to make it out alive…

Of Blood and Ashes is the second book in the series, following the Amazon bestselling Of Cinder and Bone.

hypnoSnatch by Trisha McNaryhypnoSnatch by Trisha McNary:

Is it love, or is it alien abduction?

A young human, Antaska, encounters love and its dark side while traveling in outer space with her psychic cat and a giant alien. Mischievous but evil part-reptile humanoids team up with Antaska’s nemesis, a genetically enhanced fitness instructor, to take revenge on her to the ends of the universe. But her unexpected kidnapping spoils their plans.

Relationships can be complicated, especially between different species. A fast-paced dark comedy set one million years in the future.

Alien Pets, formerly Pets and Masters in Space, is the prequel to this book.

Misfortune of Song by Christy NicholasMisfortune of Song by Christy Nicholas:

~ Even a soldier cannot fight love ~

In 12th century Ireland, all Maelan wants is to do his duty to his Chief and maintain his family’s good name. However, his granddaughter Orlagh, is hell bent on wreaking havoc, with no care for the consequences

When Orlagh falls in love with an itinerant bard, Maelan must rule with an iron fist to keep her from running away. However, her rebellion against his strictures results in disaster and he almost loses her in the same way he lost his beloved wife.

Maelan must make some difficult decisions and bargains with the Fae to save his granddaughter’s life and future. Can he save her happiness as well?

Emergent by Michael S. NuckolsEmergent by Michael S. Nuckols

An emergent artificial intelligence immobilizes the world’s computers on the same day that a genetically-modified influenza virus begins killing millions. Is it war? Or something worse?

At his new job with a Seattle biotech company, Ridley Pierce refuses to use artificial intelligence to code software for synthetic organs. Fuzzy calculations,sweeping assumptions, and infinite loops can kill. What Ridley doesn’t know is that an AI is already in control and his parents are among its first victims.

Can Ridley rescue the digital world before society collapses? Or, has the Information Age already been lost to history?

The Lunar Deception by T.E. OlivantThe Lunar Deception by T.E. Olivant:

Alya has anxiety issues. Well, so do a lot of people. But not everyone explodes their enemies when they lose control.

Alya is a Geep, a mutant. Her genes were contaminated by an accident on the moon. This gives her extraordinary powers, but it also makes her a threat.

Determined to discover the secret of the contamination, Alya takes a position in the Lunar University.
Unfortunately, the Continuum controls the moon, and it doesn’t like Geeps. There’s nothing the organisation would like better than to wipe out Alya’s people completely. But Alya is not about to let that happen.

Section 12 by Krista StreetSection 12 by Krista Street:

To save them, she’ll risk everything.

The last time Dr. Meghan Forester saw Davin and the other infected Kazzies, she made a heart-wrenching choice. Now, her new life is filled with loneliness.

Trying to carry on while Davin and her friends are held captive on Reservation 1, Meghan begins a daunting position at Compounds 10 and 11 in Washington state. There, she is thrust into a challenging new world with a handsome assistant as her guide.

But Meghan refuses to abandon her friends, so when reports surface of atrocities being committed within Reservation 1, she returns to South Dakota and discovers the only way to save Davin and her friends is to face her old enemy. An enemy who will stop at nothing to keep the Kazzies contained, even if that means taking a life.

Alliance Stars by Michael WallaceAlliance Stars by Michael Wallace:

Captain Jess Tolvern of HMS Blackbeard is leading a Royal Navy expedition across long-dormant space lanes toward Old Earth when an alien fleet ambushes her battle cruiser. The aliens are Adjudicators, an ancient race whose ethos is to judge other species and reduce their survivors to a stone age existence.

Tolvern sends a desperate message back to headquarters and retreats with her damaged ship to friendly systems. By the time she returns, the aliens have already invaded Alliance territory with a powerful fleet of star fortresses and accompanying dragoon ships, trapping and laying siege to the allied fleet.

While repairing her ship, Tolvern cobbles together a squadron of damaged allied warships, former raiders, and the local survivors of an Adjudicator attack to drive off the alien fleet.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Interview with David M. Kelly, author of Perimeter

Today, the Speculative Fiction Showcase welcomes David M. Kelly, whose new release, Perimeter, we featured on April 21st. 

1. Tell us about the Joe Ballen sci-fi thriller series. Is Ballen a hero or an anti-hero, in your view?
Joe is a hero, but a reluctant one, and doesn’t like people to think of him that way. He’s a very pragmatic character who tends to feel that he just does what has to be done to survive. He’s also very cynical and knows that in reality most people are very much a mixture of good and bad traits. His cynicism results in plenty of snarky humor, but he knows when to be serious too.

2. Your first book in the series is called Mathematics of Eternity.  Is there anything readers new to the series need to know?
Perhaps the most important thing is that it’s not necessary to understand mathematics! The title relates to a scientific theory one of the characters believes, but both books in the series are very approachable. The Joe Ballen universe is set in the near future around 150 years from now. Much of the action in book 1 takes place in flooded out Baltimore, whereas book 2 is largely set in space.

3. How important is your interest in science to your writing? 
Very. I’ve been a science devotee since I was  young, and it was that interest that first got me hooked on science fiction. That said, I keep my books  focused on solid storytelling with strong plots and characters. The science is there and as correct as I can make it, but it’s more behind the scenes rather than “in your face.”

4. Are there any challenges specific to writing a mystery/thriller set in space?
I think that there’s always a temptation to pull solutions out of a technical hat, which in my mind is unsatisfying. The characters need to solve things for themselves, and that’s very much a part of Joe and several of the characters in the books. You need to lay down the clues and clearly establish the “world” so that readers don’t feel cheated by some “Deus ex-machina” ending.

5. When creating the character of Joe Ballen, were you influenced by any previous crime or thriller series, from Sherlock Holmes to Phillip Marlowe to Bond?
That’s an interesting question, as I’m a fan of all of those characters, especially Holmes, and there are undoubtedly influences in there. Joe is in some ways very much a “scientific” puzzle solver. As an engineer he works through problems methodically to reach conclusions, but he also has much of the world weariness of a Marlowe or Sam Spade.

6. As a writer of science fiction, how important is it for you to get the science right?
For me it’s a big part of my writing. For some of my short stories I relax things somewhat, but the Ballen novels are all as realistic and plausible as I can make them. I do take a couple of shortcuts here and there, nothing impossible, but beyond the current boundaries of science. Sometimes this involves a lot of research though most of that stays “behind the scenes” and may only appear in an actual story as a few words here and there—but they’re the “right” words as far as I can make them.

7. You talk in your bio about watching the moon landing on TV. How do you think space exploration and its legacy has affected your writing?
The moon landing was very important to me and kickstarted my interest in science and ultimately science fiction. Even now I love watching rocket launches and would love to see one “in the flesh,” and if there were ever an opportunity to take one? Well, I’d be there in a flash! I like to think that my writing reflects this passion, not only for the idea of space flight but also in the importance of “keeping it real” as much as possible.

8. If the opportunity arose, would you like to go to Mars, and why?
There’s a lot of focus on Mars currently, which is nice to see, though I’m not sure it’s a good next step for us. The moon is a lot closer and would be perhaps a better testing and development ground for the mechanics of living and surviving on another world. But of course, the space romantic in me goes wild at the idea of hopping to Mars and stepping out on the surface of another planet. Mars has been such a place of mystery from H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds through Burroughs’ John Carter/Barsoom series and Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles all the way up until The Martian. Mars is so tantalizingly close to earth, and yet also so different and enigmatic. 

9. What is your view of mega-series like Star Wars, Star Trek, Babylon 5 and the rest? It is hard to underestimate their importance to our culture. Do you think this fascination will continue?
I’ve never been a big fan of Star Wars. The special effects are undoubtedly impressive, but I always felt the stories were simplistic and underdeveloped. I was much more of a fan of Star Trek, but even with that I have an uneven relationship with it. I liked the original series when I was younger and also the original cast movies. After that the only version that grabbed me was Deep Space Nine, which I felt was the best Star Trek they’ve ever done because of the deeper characters and story-telling. As you say, these series have had a huge impact on our culture as a whole though, and I’m sure that attraction will continue. People tend to like what they’re familiar with and so will undoubtedly keep things boiling over. For me though, I think both of the franchises have perhaps been around too long for their own good. I’d like to see them doing something different as they seem to be getting very “samey.” The Abrams Star Trek tries to do this, but for me it also in a sense tries to spoil what has “gone before” ((ba-ding-tish!) rather than working in sympathy with the original material. To me we need less “rebooting” and more original thinking that extends and builds on the originals. I might be in a minority on this, but I think that the field of science/speculative fiction is now so broad and rich that the domination of such big franchises is something of a detriment to the community as a whole.

10. What are you views on extra-terrestrial life forms? Is there any evidence of alien life, and have they visited Earth, or is the jury still out?
I don’t believe aliens have ever visited Earth. I think the idea is more a reflection of our own selfish anthropomorphic tendencies. It’s certainly interesting to speculate on the idea from a fictional point of view, but I’ve seen no convincing evidence. On the other side of things, I am absolutely sure that we aren’t alone in the Universe. There are so many stars, so many planets out there, that it seems to me the chances of Earth being the only planet to develop life, even intelligence, is very unlikely. The problem comes in the area of distance, both spatially and historically. As Douglas Adams said “Space is big. Really big.” And it may be that any intelligence out there is simply so far away that we could never interact, making us practically “alone” even if not mathematically. Also the Universe has been around for billions of years and as far as we know will continue as far into the future, so any intelligence may also be isolated by vast periods of time. This makes for a very lonely situation here on Earth, and I hope life isn’t quite that rare, but it also highlights how precious and vulnerable life is here, and why we need to all value it highly.

11. What is your writer’s day and how do you relax?
The day varies somewhat depending what stage I’m at in the publishing phase. I like to write first thing though, as that’s when I feel most creative. I aim to put in a solid morning working on producing new words, then later I will work on some of the more ancillary aspects of writing—promotion, marketing, graphical work among other mundane tasks. I find it a little difficult to relax as my mind tends to be always working on new ideas. Relaxation for me comes from reading scientific news articles, hiking and (in summer!) swimming, I also have a 1991 Corvette ZR-1 that I love to drive and always brings a smile to my face.

12. What about the current spate of Science Fiction films – any that must be seen, or must be avoided?
You’re really picking some of my pet peeves here 😊 I’m not impressed by much of what is coming out of Hollywood at the moment, and not just in the science fiction genre. The industry as a whole seems to have largely forgotten the basics of plotting, character development and story mechanics and replaced it with CGI. I like CGI, I make my own book trailers using that technology, but I don’t connect emotionally with a bunch of pixels. Superhero movies seem to be the dominant “science fiction” fashion now, but to me they’ve been around too long and are all looking the same. Also movies are getting far too long in a bizarre kind of cinematic “my movie’s longer than yours” pissing contest—which would be okay if they were filling them with quality content, but instead it’s just “lets pack in more CGI.” TV seems to be doing a little better, and it’s nice to see more original series becoming available. I enjoyed the Childhood’s End mini-series, and there are several others in development that look interesting such as Pohl’s “Gateway” and a show based on Asimov’s Foundation series (if it ever gets made). 

13. Have you got any contemporary science fiction favourites?
I read a lot of indie books these days and am currently enjoying Stormhaven Rising  by Eric Michael Craig. Christina McMullen is another great indie SFF author who produces consistently readable books, and I’m working through her Kyrobi trilogy. I’m also looking forward to trying Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140, which sounds similar to my thoughts in the Joe Ballen series in some ways. I’m also planning on picking up Andy Weir’s new Artemis novel, and John Scalzi is always worth reading.

14. What is your next project, and can you tell us about it?
I’m currently working on a novel set in the same universe as the Joe Ballen series, but later on in time.  It involves a group of people who get shipwrecked on a planet and has plenty of suspense. I’m also working on book 3 in the Joe Ballen series.

About David M. Kelly:

David M. Kelly writes intelligent, action-packed science fiction. He is the author of the Joe Ballen sci-fi thriller series and the short story collection Dead Reckoning And Other Stories. He has been published in Canadian SF magazine Neo-opsis.

David’s interest in science and technology began early. At the age of six his parents allowed him to stay up late into the night to watch the television broadcast of Neil Armstrong stepping on to the surface of the moon. From that day he was hooked on everything related to science and space.

An avid reader, he worked his way through the contents of the mobile library that visited his street, progressing through YA titles (or ‘juveniles’ as they were known back then) on to the classics of Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Harry Harrison.

David worked for many years in project management and software development. Along the way his interests have included IPSC combat (target) pistol shooting, crew chief on a drag racing team, and several years as bass player/vocalist in a heavy rock band. He also managed to fit in some real work in manual jobs from digging ditches and work on production lines to loading trucks in a haulage company.

Originally from the wild and woolly region of Yorkshire, England, David emigrated to Canada in 2005 and settled in Northern Ontario with his patient and supportive wife, Hilary. Foot surgery in 2014 temporarily curtailed many of his favourite activities – hiking, camping, piloting his own personal starfighter (otherwise known as a Corvette ZR-1). But on the plus side, it meant a transition from the world of IT into life as a full-time writer—an opportunity he grasped enthusiastically.

David is passionate about science, especially astronomy and physics, and is a rabid science news follower. Never short of an opinion, David writes about science and technology on his blog He has supported various charity projects such as the Smithsonian’s Reboot The Suit and the Lowell Observatory Pluto Telescope Restoration. He also contributes to citizen science projects such as SETI@home.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Saturday, April 28, 2018

C.H.U.D. LIVES!: A Tribute Anthology, compiled by Eric S. Brown

Release date: April 27, 2018
Subgenre: Science fiction horror anthology, media tie-in

About C.H.U.D. LIVES! A Tribute Anthology


Today’s top Horror and SF authors pay tribute to C.H.U.D. in this anthology of original fiction.

C.H.U.D. is a genre defying, cult classic film featuring monsters living in the sewers below New York. The stories in this anthology expand the world created by the film and add depth to the C.H.U.D. universe like never before. From stories of apocalyptic horror and all out monster action, to tales of underground parties interrupted by uninvited guests and evening strolls that end in death, this anthology will leave you both smiling and breathless.

Relive the fear as these original stories take you beyond the movie to events that occurred before, during, and after the scenes we remember so well.

Includes C.H.U.D. related stories by Jonathan Maberry, Tim Waggoner, JG Faherty, Mort Castle, Michael H. Hanson, Martin Powell, Ben Fisher, Jason White, Chad Lutzke, Ross Baxter, Philip C Perron, David Bernstein, Nick Cato, Alex Laybourne, Christopher Fulbright, Angeline Hawkes, David Robbins, Robert Waters, Greg Mitchell, Ryan C. Thomas, and Eugene Johnson.

With an introduction by David Drake. Compiled by Eric S. Brown.

C.H.U.D. Lives! also features in-depth interviews with Andrew Bonime (producer) and Parnell Hall (screenwriter), as well as never before seen behind-the-scenes photos from the classic 80s horror film.

  • Introduction by David Drake
  • Interview with the late Andrew Bonime
  • “Dog Walker” by Robert E Waters
  • “The Dwellers” by Nick Cato
  • “The City Will Eat You Alive” by Ryan C. Thomas
  • “Date Night” by David Robbins
  • “Strange Gods” by Christopher Fulbright and Angeline Hawkes
  • “Lost and Found” by Greg Mitchell
  • “They Are C.H.U.D” by Alex Laybourne
  • “C.H.A.D.” by Michael H. Hanson
  • “Samsa’s Party” by Ben Fisher
  • “The Way to a Man’s Heart” by Tim Waggoner
  • “Dweller Messiah” by Jason White
  • “That’s Entertainment!” by Mort Castle
  • “Toxic Disposal” by David Bernstein
  • “Monstrous Me” by Martin Powell
  • “Step Ate” by Chad Lutzke
  • “Zero Hour” by JG Faherty
  • “The Deuce” by Philip C. Perron
  • “All at Sea” by Ross Baxter
  • “You Will Never Leave Harlan Alive” by Jonathan Maberry and Eugene Johnson
  • Interview with Parnell Hall (screenwriter) by Eric S Brown
This book is dedicated in loving memory to Andrew Bonime, the producer of the C.H.U.D. film.

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.




T.H.I.S. C.I.T.Y. W.I.L.L. E.A.T. Y.O.U. A.L.I.V.E.

Ryan C. Thomas

“Kirby isn’t a homicide, he’s a missing person. I can’t tie up the whole force just because some guy decided to…walk out on his wife.”Captain Bosch

The rains had done nothing to wash the graffiti off the sides of the buildings. Ron Kirby stared at it like he did every other day. Disgusted. It wasn’t even legible. Bunch of swirls and symbols that were supposed to be the code names of the neighborhood kids, but it all just looked like alien screed. Damn kids. They were as annoying as the rats that flowed in and out of the dumpsters behind that dirty diner on Cleveland and Kenmore. Food there was atrocious; the burgers were hockey pucks and the coffee was tar. Not to mention it was a cop hangout, and those idiots were just itching to give upstanding citizens like himself a hard time. Only reason to go in there was the cute waitress, but even she got old after a while.
Vandals. Bad food. Corrupt cops. And rats.
It was all getting old, growing tiresome. It all seemed to weigh down on him, this city, this life. Especially his wife, Greta Kirby. She was always whining about something. All week she’d been up Ron’s butt about why he was coming home late. She suspected an affair. He knew it. But the truth was not so tawdry, just depressing. The truth was he’d been laid off from his job in the meat packing district two weeks ago and had yet to find another one. All the jobs at the Chelsea Pier were taken, and the storehouses were over-employed. It would change during the winter, he knew, since there was always someone who got tired of the cold, but that was a ways off. Rent was due now. Rent to keep living in this trash heap of a neighborhood.
He turned from the graffiti, looked up at the sky, looked for a familiar face in the night clouds. God, an angel, someone to hear his pleas. “C’mon, just give me this gig tonight.”
He couldn’t tell his wife he was jobless because she’d just call him a loser. She’d done that enough lately. He was tired of it. All he wanted was a new job, a better paying job, one that would put extra cash in his pocket.
His marriage was strained, sure, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t salvage it. He still loved his wife, after all. Still remembered their wedding day, how young and angelic Greta had looked. Her working two shifts at the laundromat had put so many lines in her face she looked like a road map, but he saw past the aging. He still remembered.
If he could just get this new job, some money, he could buy her something nice. They could start over. She wouldn’t think he was a loser.


Amazon | Goodreads | Crystal Lake