Monday, August 31, 2020

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for August 2020

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 July 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 urban fantasy, epic fantasy, science fantasy, paranormal mysteries, paranormal romance, space opera, military science fiction, dystopian noir, horror, vampires, werewolves, ghosts, zombies, ghouls, dragons, demon hunters, space mages, cyborgs, space marines, intergalactic outlaws, haunted asylums, haunted space stations, crime-busting witches 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:

Belle Vue by C.S. AlleyneBelle Vue by C.S. Alleyne:

Jealousy. Betrayal. Murder. And a hunger for vengeance that spans the centuries...

History student Alex Palmer is thrilled when his girlfriend, Claire Ryan, buys an apartment in Belle Vue Manor, formerly a Victorian lunatic asylum.

But as Alex begins to discover the dark truth about the asylum's past, he, Claire, and their friend Marianne find themselves on a nightmarish journey. Each will face the deadly consequences of the evil that began with the construction of the first Belle Vue Manor by an aristocratic French émigré in 1789, as well as the cruelty and satanic practices that continued when it became an asylum for the insane.

As the two strands--past and present--unfold, Alex uncovers a supernatural mystery where revenge is paramount and innocence irrelevant--without being aware of the price he, and those around him, will pay.

Indomitable by Jonathan P. BrazeeIndomitable by Jonathan P. Brazee:

Beth “Fire Ant” Dalisay is the Navy’s top ace.

But the alien Crystals really don’t care. They intend on wiping out humanity no matter who stands in their way.

Pulled from her Wasp fighter, the Navy assigns Beth as a scout pilot with a mission to find the Crystal’s home world. But in an underpowered Mosquito scout and no weapons with which to defend herself, if she finds their home system, can she possibly survive long enough to report back to Navy HQ?

In a final clash between humanity and the Crystals, can one pilot make a difference? Can humanity survive?

Legacy of Vale by Rhett C. BrunoLegacy of Vale by Rhett C. Bruno:

War threatens to destroy the Circuit once more...

After arriving on Ceres Prime, ADIM, is hesitant to help the Ceresians. Their hatred for his creator will never wane, and he starts to understand the danger all of Cassius’ many rivals pose. How can he keep him safe?

When Sage Volus finds herself a captive of Cassius Vale, she begins to struggle with her role in the coming war, and what exactly it means to be an executor. The removal of her cybernetic implant reveals emotions she thought she’d buried too deep to be found. She must make a decision on who she truly wants to serve.

After breaking free of the solar-ark Amerigo and certain death, Talon Rayne finds himself in unusual company. His quests to hold his daughter again will bring him to places he never thought he’d go, into the very arms of his people's most hated foe.

As the battle grows ever closer, threatening the all-out war that could annihilate millions, these four must determine what part they intend to play, who they will align themselves with, and what it means to be human in a solar system where that means less and less.

Storm Forged by Lindsay BurokerStorm Forged by Lindsay Buroker:

Moving into a rundown Victorian house with a vampire living in the basement isn’t as bad as I thought, but things go from weird to weirder when a badly injured gnome collapses in my back yard.

The surprising part? It’s my friend Nin’s long-lost grandfather.

Since he’s unconscious, we can’t figure out who’s chasing him, or where he’s been all these years, but if we can’t help him, he’ll die.

To make matters worse, there’s a new dragon in town. A female dragon. Everyone knows females are more dangerous than the males, and this one takes an instant dislike to me. It seems that she wants to date my mate, Zav, and has his mother’s approval.

If I can’t avoid her wrath and find a way to cure the gnome, Nin’s going to lose her grandfather, and I’m going to end up deader than the vampire in the basement.

The Renegade by J.N. ChaneyThe Renegade by J.N. Chaney:

Jace Hughes is a Renegade.

That means taking jobs and not asking questions, whether that involves smuggling, transporting runaways, or performing other, far less wholesome work. Whatever the situation, Jace is willing to do what it takes to achieve his dream and live the life he’s always wanted.

That is, until he comes face to face with an item of unprecedented value—something that could give him everything he needs to pay off his debt and be free.

The only problem is that selling it would also shift the balance of power between the two largest empires in the galaxy.

And spark another intergalactic war.

Unfortunately for Jace, he won’t have long to decide. Renegades, assassins, and government cronies are after the item, too, and unlike Jace, they won’t hesitate to kill.

Marauder's Compass by M.D. CooperMarauder's Compass by M.D. Cooper:

Jax and the crew of the Lightning Runner have narrowly escaped Sinclair and her DSA fleet, but their troubles are far from over.

The flight from Iydra Station has depleted their antimatter reserves. Without resupply, they’ll have limited options should they run into trouble again—which they fully intend to do. With numerous parties hunting for their ship, Jax must choose their haven carefully.

Penny knows of a secret city within a dwarf planet where they take refuge. However, it doesn’t take long to discover that their enemies have yet again increased in number. With several of the crew captured and the ship trapped, their options are few and drastic.

The mission to infiltrate the Paragonian outpost is in dire jeopardy and Jax must consider making the ultimate sacrifice in order to achieve victory.

And if he fails, all Aquilia will be swept up in war.

The Invisible by Seb DoubinskyThe Invisible by Seb Doubinsky:

It’s election time in New Babylon, and President Maggie Delgado is running for re-election but is threatened by the charismatic populist Ted Rust. Newly appointed City Commissioner Georg Ratner is given the priority task to fight the recent invasion of Synth in the streets of the capital, a powerful hallucinogen drug with a mysterious origin. When his old colleague asks him for help on another case and gets murdered, things become more and more complicated, and his official neutrality becomes a burden in the political intrigue he his gradually sucked into. Supported by Laura, his trustful life partner and the Egyptian goddess Nut, Ratner decides to fight for what he believes in, no matter the cost.

High Protector by Rachel FordHigh Protector by Rachel Ford:

Kaladorn. Slave born.

Rohana knew her destiny. She’d been born to serve her king, to live and die at his command. She hadn’t questioned when he ordered his armies into the frozen North, to fight a queen who threatened the South.

Except, Queen Ilaria has never been a threat to their nation. On a frozen field of battle, Rohana learns the truth. And she has one moment to make a decision.

One moment, for a slave to rewrite the fate of two empires.

This novel features characters from the first two novels, and introduces new characters. It is a stand-alone novel.

Blood Ties by K. GormanBlood Ties by K. Gorman:

Together again, and ready to bring the system to its knees.

Karin Makos has spent the last two months running from one thing or another—but all that's about to change. Her sister's back, and Nomiki's ready to grab their problems by the horns, throw them on their backs, and rip into them with her modified carbon steel blades.

With the backing of the Fallon Empire and a promising new lead, the two are determined to reach down into the mystery of their past and pull out its secrets, once and for all.

But they aren't the only ones on the move. And looking may uncover more than even they could have bargained for.

The Eurynome Code space Opera series continued with this unforgettable third installment. Grab your copy today!

Curse a Brew Streak by Lily Harper HartCurse a Brew Streak by Lily Harper Hart:

Ofelia Archer is living the dream … or as close as seemingly possible.

She owns her own business, her father seems to be on an even keel, and her new relationship with Detective Zacharias Sully is cruising right along. Everything changes in an instant, though, when screams from the street lead to zombies running amok through the French Quarter.

Ofelia is a tough witch who takes no guff but even she is at a loss. Who is creating the zombies? Where are they coming from? They’re not rising from the dead as much as being bumped off and used as an invading army.

Sully wants to take control of the investigation but the higher-ups in the New Orleans Police Department assign the case to a new detective, much to his chagrin. That detective is keen to find answers. Unfortunately, he’s looking hard at Ofelia to find them.

Sully and Ofelia are going to have to work together to find answers. Their adventure will lead them from the French Quarter to the Garden District and beyond. Even then, when things start coalescing, gnashing teeth won’t be the worst of their problems.

Months ago they were two factions working on their own. Now they’re together, and stronger for it.

Not all the magic in the Big Easy is good. Some is evil … and the two sides are about to collide.

Permutation by Patty JansenPermutation by Patty Jansen:

En route to a job in the asteroid belt, the transport ship that Jonathan and Gaby are travelling on is required to give assistance to a space station in trouble.

Astoria Station stopped responding to everything except automated messages. Jonathan and Gaby, familiar with disease and habitat collapse, offer to help.

But not even they are prepared for what they find, or the efforts by some to sweep it under the carpet.

Magitak by B.R. KingsolverMagitek by B.R. Kingsolver:

Hunter James was my grandfather.

He wanted to end the cycle of war, but instead he broke the world. Demons, vampires, and monsters poured through the Rift into our dimension. The Magi emerged from humanity's shadows and fought the Rifters, eventually forging an uneasy peace.

For most humans, demons, and Fae, magik and technology are totally incompatible. But some mages are able to manipulate mechanical and electrical devices. They are called magiteks.

My name is Danica James. I'm a magitek and a cop with the Arcane Division. My job is to protect humanity from the monsters. Sometimes the monsters are human.

Freaky Seas by Amanda M. LeeFreaky Seas by Amanda M. Lee:

Mystic Caravan Circus is heading to Charleston and – per usual – trouble is not far behind.

For Poet Parker, who is grappling with saying goodbye to her assistant, she’s looking forward to quiet nights on the beach and quality time with her boyfriend. All that changes when the sea starts giving up its dead … and they appear to be hungry.

Under normal circumstances, zombies wouldn’t be a big deal. They’re slow, lumbering, and easy to dispatch. This infestation is different … and they appear to be controlled by a strange creature long since thought extinct.

Gorgons were believed to be things of myth and legend but one is haunting the beaches of Charleston … in close proximity to the circus and a writer’s retreat. In fact, the nutty individuals spouting fantastical stories and trying to one-up one another in the bluff house overlooking the circus grounds are all suspects because one of them is controlling the gorgon. Finding the individual responsible for causing endless upheaval and death is no easy task, though.

Poet is a fighter but this battle is all-encompassing.

Not every monster is obvious. Sometimes they hide behind human faces.

This time Poet is going to have to wade through layers of darkness to find the light. Surviving to see the final sunrise will take them all working together … and even then they might not be strong enough to claim victory.

Darkness is coming. Will anyone survive to see the dawn?

Sanctum by Hannah McBrideSanctum by Hannah McBride:

A survivor on the run

After refusing the laws of her sadistic pack, Skye Markham barely escapes with her life, seeking sanctuary with the feared Blackwater pack. Hunted by her former Alpha and his soldiers, she’s determined to create a life even though she knows they will come for her.

An alpha with a pack to protect

As the next alpha in line, Remy Holt has spent years guarding the Blackwater pack and his family from those who seek to seize control and destroy them. The last thing he needs or wants is Skye Markham and the dangers she brings with her adding to the stress on his pack, but his wolf has a different opinion. He wants her, and after one moment that shouldn't have been possible, he knows he’ll never be able to let her go.

A bond unlike any other

Skye thought she was finally safe, but as her bond with Remy strengthens, the shifter world starts to break apart at the seams. Missing shifters, a dying population, and pack wars are all causing their sanctuary to crumble around them, and Skye is trapped in the middle of it all. Someone is out to destroy the pack and if they succeed, there will bring down everything Remy has sought to protect and for Skye… maybe there is no such thing as a sanctuary.

Ghouls and Alchemy by Amy B. NixonGhouls and Alchemy by Amy B. Nixon:

My name is Nathan Holloway. I was a US Marine before they transformed me into an Amethyst Hunter.

They are Nexus, a covert organization specializing in extracting dead soldiers from the battlefield, reviving them through alchemy and using them for wet work.

Hunting witches and sorcerers, vampires, fae, shapeshifters and magical lawbreakers? That's the easy part. But being immortal? Well, that's a different question.

For me, immortality comes with a hefty price tag.

My Materia Prima - the quintessence of every living organism - is growing feeble. Nexus' remedies have turned me into an addicted junkie. My sardonic cynicisms are rewarding me with more enemies than allies. And the mysterious Alchemist, who gave me a second chance at life, has condemned my soul to the fiery pits of hell.

Things can't get worse, can they? They can, and they just did.

One of our agents has gone rogue and stolen a supersonic combat aircraft. The country's under a ghoul invasion. The ghoul-breeding Sa'alin queens are nowhere to be found. And in the midst of it all, we discovered something cunning, vile and even more lethal than the ghouls. Something we thought was erased from existence centuries ago - a necromancer.

Join Nathan as his journey weaves him into a web of ancient alchemy, high-tech science fiction and mythological fantasy.

Reckless Pursuit by Safari SpellReckless Pursuit by Safari Spell:

A dragon is no match for love...

As the handsome and charismatic son of a powerful fallen angel, dragon shifter Spencer Kaden has spent centuries seeking pleasure and little else.

So when his father sends him to the backwoods city of Cypress, Georgia, as a sentry for the Grigori, he plans to do what he always does until it’s time to leave - divide, conquer, repeat. But that was before falling in love with his beautiful yet troubled coworker, Talor Gardin.

Grief-stricken from debilitating loss, Talor suffers from panic attacks and deepening depression. She's in no place to be pursued. But when she begins to spiral, Spencer finds himself torn between who he is and who he wants to be.

Desperate to save her, he must decide if he will risk everything he holds dear by daring to ask a favor of the siren, the powerful and dangerous sworn enemy of the Grigori...or if the price of love is too great a cost.

The Service of Mars by Glynn StewartThe Service of Mars by Glynn Stewart:

Secrets have been unleashed
Worlds have fallen
A Mage-King has died
But the war rages on!

Secrets and warships combined to turn the tide of the Siege of Legatus, delivering the capital of the Republic of Faith and Reason into the hands of their enemies. With Damien Montgomery called away to lead the entire Protectorate of Mars, fighting the war falls to Mage-Admiral Jane Alexander and Mage-Lieutenant Roslyn Chambers.

As the Martian Second Fleet moves against the remaining Republic worlds, Captain Kelly LaMonte’s covert stealth ship sweeps the worlds away from the conflict, searching for the Republic’s government-in-hiding and a chance to end the bloody conflict.

But this war began in the shadows, and the secrets hidden in those shadows threaten to turn the tide of the war once more—and bring it to the heart of the Protectorate!

Cursed Wolf by Brogan ThomasCursed Wolf by Brogan Thomas:

For a shifter…
…being stuck in wolf form is torture.

The moment I shifted; my life changed.

After witnessing a traumatic event at a young age, nine-year-old Forrest shifted into her wolf form – and was unable to shift back. Years later and suffering at the hands of her malicious step-brothers, she stubbornly clings to the hope that she’ll turn back into the girl she once was.

But when her magic returns at the moment she needs it most, Forrest is thrust back into the world of humans. There’s only one problem. Her pack is out to kill her.

Struggling to learn how to walk and talk again, Forrest finds herself on the run from the cold-blooded shifter council. But hidden deep within her human form lies a secret – a powerful magic that has the potential to set her free.

If only she can stay alive long enough to master it…

Invasion by James David VictorInvasion by James David Victor:

Undercover behind enemy lines and there’s only one person he can trust. Maybe.

The Skarak have invaded with a force certain to overwhelm all of humanities defenses. To make matters worse, Boyd’s cover in the Faction is on the verge of being blown. Even if he can escape, his chances of survival are thin. Can he trust an enemy who just might turn out to be more of a friend than he ever thought possible? Or will it even matter as the Skarak look to destroy both the Union and the Faction?

Invasion is the third book in the Blue Star Marines series which follows a young man who will have to push his hatreds aside and come to the aid of all humanity.

Download Invasion and see if humanity can overcome itself and survive in the vast darkness of space!

Friday, August 28, 2020

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for August 28, 2020

It's time for the latest weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with the debate about the SFF canon, the debate about the Retro Hugos, Ray Bradbury at 100, Star Trek: Lower Decks and the various other iterations of Star Trek, Lucifer, Lovecraft Country, The Boys, Tenet, She Dies Tomorrow and much more.

Speculative fiction in general:

The debate about the SFF canon:

Ray Bradbury at 100:

Film and TV:

Comments on Star Trek: Lower Decks and Star Trek in general:

Comments on season 5 of Lucifer

Comments on Lovecraft Country:

Comments on season 2 of The Boys:

Comments on Tenet

Comments on She Dies Tomorrow:


The debate about the Retro Hugos:

Writing, publishing and promotion:



Classics reviews:

Con and event reports:


Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends: 

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Guest post by Chris H. Stevenson: Story Origin of Screamcatcher: Web World

Screamcatcher cover

Story Origin of Screamcatcher: Web World

It all started with a dream catcher. This iconic item, which is rightfully ingrained in Indian lore, is a dream symbol respected by the culture that created it. It is mystifying, an enigma that that prods the imagination. Legends about the dream catcher are passed down from multiple tribes. There are variations, but the one fact that can be agreed upon is that it is a nightmare entrapment device, designed to sift through evil thoughts and images and only allow pleasant and peaceful dreams to enter into consciousness of the sleeper.

I wondered what would happen to a very ancient dream catcher that was topped off with dreams and nightmares. What if the nightmares became too sick or deathly? What if the web strings could not hold anymore visions? Would the dream catcher melt, burst, vanish, implode? I reasoned that something would have to give if too much evil was allowed to congregate inside of its structure. I found nothing on the Internet that offered a solution to this problem—I might have missed a relevant story, but nothing stood out to me. Stephen King had a story called Dream Catcher, but I found nothing in it that was similar to what I had in mind. So, I took it upon myself to answer such a burning question.

Like too much death on a battlefield could inundate the immediate location with lost and angry spirits, so could a dream catcher hold no more of its fill of sheer terror without morphing into something else or opening up a lost and forbidden realm. What would it be like to be caught up in another world inside the webs of a dream catcher, and how would you get out? What would this world look like? How could it be navigated? What was the source of the exit, and what was inside of it that threatened your existence? I did remember that in the center of the web was a hole that marked the passage of beautiful dreams that descended down upon the sleeper--THAT had to be the way out!

Screamcatcher: Web World, the first in the series, was my answer. Upon later reflection, and after the story had been completed, it reminded me of the portal fantasy Jumanji. Only this was not a board game. I knew that if I were the first to do this, then I'd have one shot and one shot only to get it right. And as far as POC, I thought what better lead character could I use other than a First Nations Tribe female teenager, who knew enough about Indian lore to understand and read some of the signs to guide them through this universe. I knew that I hit on something when one of my reviewers said, "Just like Jo Rowling owns the wizarding world, you just put your stamp on the dream catcher world--own it, and be proud of something brand new." I only hope and pray I live up to this. 

About Chris H. Stevenson:

Chris Stevenson author photo

Chris Stevenson, aka Christy Breedlove, originally born in California, moved to Sylvania, Alabama in 2009. His occupations have included newspaper editor/reporter, astronomer, federal police officer and part time surfer. He has been writing off and on for 36 years, having officially published books beginning in 1988. Today he writes science fiction, fantasy, paranormal romance, young adult (his specialty), thrillers and horror. He has a total of 13 titles appearing on Amazon. He was a finalist in the L. Ron. Hubbard Writers of the Future contest, and took the first place grand prize in a YA novel writing contest for The Girl They Sold to the Moon. Under the Christy Breedlove pen name, he took first place for the best YA book in the N. N. Light Book Awards Contest, and just now took a 5-Star review and badge in the Reader’s Favorite Awards contest. He writes the popular blog, Guerrilla Warfare for Writers (special weapons and tactics), hoping to inform and educate writers all over the world about the high points and pitfalls of publishing.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Belle Vue by C.S. Alleyne

Release date: August 25, 2020
Subgenre: Horror thriller, Paranormal mystery


About Belle Vue:


Jealousy. Betrayal. Murder. And a hunger for vengeance that spans the centuries...

History student Alex Palmer is thrilled when his girlfriend, Claire Ryan, buys an apartment in Belle Vue Manor, formerly a Victorian lunatic asylum.

But as Alex begins to discover the dark truth about the asylum's past, he, Claire, and their friend Marianne find themselves on a nightmarish journey. Each will face the deadly consequences of the evil that began with the construction of the first Belle Vue Manor by an aristocratic French émigré in 1789, as well as the cruelty and satanic practices that continued when it became an asylum for the insane.

As the two strands--past and present--unfold, Alex uncovers a supernatural mystery where revenge is paramount and innocence irrelevant--without being aware of the price he, and those around him, will pay.




“Oh, dear God.”

The stench hit her first, then the pain. Ellen whimpered and struggled to open her eyes. The sticky crust split to reveal an impenetrable darkness. She squirmed, but short heavy chains chafing her ankles and wrists held her spread-eagled on the stone floor.

A rough piece of cloth covered her but despite the intense heat, she couldn’t stop shivering. She tried to swallow but her throat was too parched and swollen. Panic rising, Ellen gasped for air.

Without warning, violent cramps ripped at her insides. She dry-retched, splitting her lips further. Another wave of agony pounded through her. Exhausted and knowing she couldn’t take much more, she prayed and prayed.

New sounds cut into her consciousness. The rattle of metal on metal, a key turning in a lock, the creaking hinge of a reluctant door.

She blinked and twisted her head away from the flickering light. Her blistered tongue gave a tentative lick at the blood on her lips. Ellen welcomed the soothing dampness but craved more. A sliver of hope won out and she turned her face toward the new arrival. Through narrowed eyes, she could just make out a shadow.

“Help me.”

The shadow became a man lunging toward her. Two steps to the center of the room. One quick motion and a gush of cold water slapped into her face. She spluttered, shaking her head.

“Today’s water.” The man sneered. “No more ‘til tomorrow, if yer lucky.”

The voice sounded familiar, but she couldn’t think who it might be. A sharp kick in the side from a metal-tipped boot; then another added to her indescribable pain. The man’s eyes glittered with malice as he increased the onslaught. She cried out and struggled uselessly against her chains. The pail clattered onto the flagstones.

“No food either.” The boot went in again. “You. Only. Waste it.”

With every kick and grunt, his sweat sprinkled over her like a perverted holy rite. But now, beyond her flesh yielding to the repeated blows, she didn’t move.




About C.S. Alleyne: 

C S Alleyne grew up in Australia and originally trained as a hotel manager in the UK. After several postings in the Caribbean she changed tack and completed her MBA followed several years later by a PhD in Information Systems. She is a management consultant and also lectures in several universities.
With a lifelong love of reading, anything historical and a fascination with the supernatural and death, CS’s vacations usually include visits to such places as the Pere La Chaise cemetery and the catacombs in Paris, the tombs in Egypt, the Popes’ crypts in the Vatican and any nice English church yard with gravestones – you get the picture!   
CS was inspired to write Belle Vue by her daily journey past a block of luxury apartments that had been converted from an old asylum. Like her protagonist, Alex Palmer, she started to investigate its past and learnt that one of the inmates was murdered there in the late 19th century. The victim’s sister was hung for the crime. CS was also thrilled to discover the asylum’s overgrown cemetery in her explorations of the area!
Belle Vue is her first novel. Jonathan Myerson (Oscar nominated, Bafta and 4 Time Emmy winner) says he is ‘blown away’ by Belle Vue – “I am hugely impressed by this novel – it’s ambitious and daring and amazingly imaginative.”