Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Eighth Key by Laura Weyr


Release date: March 31, 2021
Subgenre: Gay fantasy romance

About The Eighth Key:


The magic is gone…or is it?

Lucian is a jaded flirt and professional bard who knows all the old songs about sorcery. When he meets Corwin, a shy mage who can still use magic despite the Drought, Lucian finds his desire growing with each passing day—not just for answers, but for Corwin himself.

Sparks fly as they find themselves passionately entangled in adventure and each other. But learning the true origin of the Drought and the Key to ending it comes at a price that their bond may not survive…




“...the shadows shifted and flowed, revealing Corwin’s face in the low light. The darkness coalesced into an oval bubble around the flute. Lucian fought to keep his eyes mostly closed and his body relaxed. He’d never seen magic done on such a scale. He knew all the stories, but no one had power enough for things like this anymore.

The flute, fashioned from light-colored wood, seemed to fade from sight as the shadows surrounding it thickened, flowing into and through it as well as around it. All at once, it was visible again. Lucian’s eyes flew open despite himself.

The flute, his flute, was glowing.

It was faint at first, brightening as he watched. It was like gazing at the sky as the sun came up, the glow increasing gradually but inexorably. Lucian squinted against it, but kept still.

It grew brighter and brighter, and then, without warning, the light was gone.

Lucian couldn’t see anything but the after-images burned into his eyes, the shape of a white flute made dark against his eyelids.

Slowly, his vision cleared.

Corwin was still there.

He was staring down at the flute. As Lucian watched, his hands closed and tightened around the instrument. His shoulders rose then fell again in a barely-audible sigh. Lifting his head, he gazed out at the forest. The shadows that had surrounded him before were gone, and Lucian could see the deep frown carved into his brow in the remnants of the fire’s dim glow.

Without warning, Corwin moved. He didn’t leave, as Lucian had half expected him to. Moving slowly, he put the flute back. Lucian couldn’t be sure, but he thought the mage’s hands were shaking. Slowly, he replaced the other items, the tinderbox and clothing. When everything was stowed away, Corwin returned to his spot on the other side of the fire. Lucian heard him shifting and settling as he lay down again.

It was hard to sleep after that. Lucian lay awake for a long time, his mind running in circles, skipping from one idea to the next in the disconnected way of late-night thoughts.

Mages didn’t create. Everyone knew that a Water mage was useless in a true desert, and people used to say, if you wanted to be cold, you should marry a Heat mage - they would use all the heat in the room to boil a cup of tea. Perhaps a Light mage could have drawn the light from the fire and the crescent moon and faint stars to make the flute glow.

A Shadow mage could not.

But surely Corwin couldn’t have controlled the shadows so precisely if he were a Light mage. Lucian had seen the way he’d covered first himself and then the flute with darkness. Yet he’d also, somehow, made the flute glow.

What Lucian had just seen went against everything he’d ever heard about mages. He would hardly have been more surprised if he’d seen a frog flying through the air or a cat swimming underwater. He wondered that it didn’t frighten him. He felt only a mounting fascination.”


Amazon | Journey Press 


About Laura Weyr:

When it comes to fusing elaborate high fantasy with steamy romantic erotica, no one does it better than three-time Hugo Finalist Laura Weyr! Her first full-length novel, The Eighth Key, will captivate as well as excite. Laura lives in sunny California with her husband, daughter, and cat. Stay tuned for more from this talented new arrival!




Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for March 2021


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 and small press 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, Asian fantasy, paranormal mystery, paranormal romance, fantasy romance, science fiction thrillers, space opera, military science fiction, YA science fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, dystopian fiction, dragons, leprechauns, valkyries, aliens, telepaths, interdimensional portals, interstellar wars, space mages, space colonisation, menopausal werewolves, crime-busting witches, King Arthur in space, alien monster spiders from beyond 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:

Monster of the Dark by K.T. BeltMonsters of the Dark by K.T. Belt:

Carmen Grey always knew she was different.

None of the other children seemed able to read minds. None of the other children were able to manipulate their toys without touching them. On the morning of her sixth birthday, three men dressed in black arrive to remove her from the loving care of her parents.

She is taken to an underground facility meant for others like her, for Clairvoyants. Stripped of her name and identity, over the years she is fashioned into something scary—something lethal. Each day is an endless struggle and every night is plagued by nightmares. Yet Carmen’s ultimate battle won’t be to save her life but to keep her soul.

Spelunkers by Cora BuhlertSpelunkers by Cora Buhlert:

During a holiday in Belgium, college students Evan and Matt decide to explore an uncharted cave in the Ardennes. Also along for the ride is Evan’s sister Kate, who has been tasked with looking out for her brother since early childhood.

Deep inside the cave, Kate, Evan and Matt stumble upon a portal to another world. But does this portal represent the greatest adventure of their lives or a terrible danger…?

This is a science fiction short story of 3800 words or approximately 15 print pages.

Earth's Fury: Our Last Thanksgiving by Declan ConnerEarth's Fury: Our Last Thanksgiving by Declan Conner:


Rob Bell is financially screwed, although his wife doesn’t know it yet. His only hope is to sell a house that he’s constructed near to the beach. With one day to go to the sale, his, and everyone else’s world comes crashing down. Severe movement in the Earth’s tectonic plates caused by sun flares discharging positive charged particles into the mantle, go on to create a disaster that scientists failed to predict in its enormity. EMPs destroy the grid. Ash from volcanos darken the land. Floods divide the nation, with new mountain ranges created. The USA will never be the same again, changed forever.

Their home in a gated community is high in the hills of Santa Monica, overlooking the Pacific. They decide to stay put. Survival is the new game, money no longer an issue as death casts its shadow over the World and their community.

As their food supplies run low, and constantly under attack from outsiders, Brogan the head of their community security creates a mini fiefdom, with Rob’s wife in charge of rations. Under attack, and falling foul of Brogan, and with death stalking him, Rob knows the only way out is for them to travel to his dad’s bunker. Trouble is, io get there is a thousand-mile journey fraught with danger and his wife doesn’t want to go. Fiercely loyal, he will have to decide if he should leave or to stay.

His life and others will depend on the outcome

Leprechaun Luck by Addison CreekLeprechaun Luck by Addison Creek:

It’s St. Patrick’s Day and Lemmi, Charlie, and Liam are determined to have some fun before going to watch the guys play baseball.

What happens next is unexpected, to say the least, but Lemmi and Charlie are determined not to miss the baseball game. Now if only the leprechaun would tell them where Liam is . . .

This is a short story coming in at about 12,000 words.

Witchy Reservations by Stephanie DamoreWitchy Reservations by Stephanie Damore:

There's nothing practical about magic—which is why I ditched my wand years ago.

Thirteen years, to be exact.

The day I left Silverlake.

Except now, a family emergency has called me back home, and quite frankly, I'd rather be anywhere but here.

But when my aunt raises her wand to cure a friend and he ends up dead, it becomes abundantly clear I'm not leaving anytime soon.

Welcome to Silverlake, a place where nothing is EVER as it seems... and where a witch can find, and lose, a lot more than herself.

Phantom Echo by Eldon FarrellPhantom Echo by Eldon Farrell:

His search for a killer will put him in the crosshairs.

The body of a college student is dumped in an alley far from campus. Is it a case of bad timing, or a drug deal gone wrong?

As the detective assigned to the case, Nathan Miller suspects something more sinister behind it. Convincing his superiors of this won't be easy, though, and following his instincts will require more than just bending the law. He may need to break it.

But when his pursuit leads him to Syria, and then London, he's forced to seek aid from the Phantoms—allies who might be enemies. Will they help the killer he's after, or join him in seeing justice served?

First Runes by Rachel FordFirst Runes by Rachel Ford:

The war is over. The chaos is just beginning.

The North won, but peace is a distant dream. Youngling dragons plague the countryside. On the border to No Man’s Land, Knight Protector Ana Derel negotiates a tenuous peace between the slave warriors turned refugees, for whom only a death sentence waits at home, and the local populace, which wants no part in feeding or aiding their former foes. Far to the North, Knight Protector Brynja Evansdatter struggles with the ambitions and mistrust of the elven mages she freed from captivity. They’ve sworn off the Southern king who shackled them, but they’re not ready to swear fealty to the Northern queen.

And at the heart of all the chaos, with the power to command the races of dragons and destroy whole armies of men, are the most powerful weapons ever devised by men or elves: first runes.

Whoever controls them, controls the fate of the known world. Derel and Evensdatter fought side-by-side in the war. Now, they will need more than blades to bring peace.

Foxwood by Joe FleckFoxwood by Joe Fleck:

In an alternate future, fourteen-year-old Victoria has lived in a bunker for all her life, convinced that beyond the metal walls of her home is a mysterious “Nowhere.”

When she escapes, she is thrown into the futuristic city of Foxwood, rebuilt over Seattle after a catastrophic earthquake. Victoria was never supposed to leave her bunker and isn’t in the Network. Without a Network Chip implanted in her head, Victoria has no identity, an no place in Foxwood.

Despite lacking social skills or street smarts, she gets a job at a massive 3D printing business. This company is targeted by a terrorist team of humanoid machines that are indistinguishable from ordinary humans.

In an effort to prove her worth as a bunker child, Victoria attempts to expose an infiltrator before the terrorists get a chance to attack. On top of that, the education system controls overpopulation by killing the least intelligent people with a terrifying Birthday Exam.

Orange City by Lee Matthew GoldbergOrange City by Lee Matthew Goldberg:

Imagine a secret, hidden city that gives a second chance at life for those selected to come: felons, deformed outcasts, those on the fringe of the Outside World. Everyone gets a job, a place to live; but you are bound to the city forever. You can never leave.

Its citizens are ruled by a monstrous figure called the "Man" who resembles a giant demented spider from the lifelike robotic limbs attached to his body. Everyone follows the man blindly, working hard to make their Promised Land stronger, too scared to defy him and be discarded to the Empty Zones.

After ten years as an advertising executive, Graham Weatherend receives an order to test a new client, Pow! Sodas. After one sip of the orange flavor, he becomes addicted, the sodas causing wild mood swings that finally wake him up to the prison he calls reality.

A dynamic mash-up of 1984 meets LOST, ORANGE CITY is a lurid, dystopian first book in a series that will continue with the explosive sequel LEMONWORLD.

The Fearless by J.J. GreenThe Fearless by J.J. Green:

Space opera meets Arthurian legend.

The Britannic Alliance has been brought back from the brink of disaster by Taylan Ellis, a Royal Marine fighting to win back her homeland.

During one of the battles, the Fearless, the BA flagship, mysteriously disappeared and is now adrift in the Asteroid Belt. Taylan joins the expedition sent to find out what happened.

What she discovers out there is another clue in the riddle of the reappearance of King Arthur. What’s more, it means the Alliance could win back the Britannic Isles, but only if Taylan plays her cards right.

The fight goes on!

Wicked Honeymoon by Lily Harper HartWicked Honeymoon by Lily Harper Hart:

Jack Harker and his new wife Ivy have beaten the odds, and with that comes a little rest and relaxation. They have a two-week honeymoon planned, and the first leg involves a glamping trip down the river.

Jack has never been one for camping, and the truth is, he would’ve preferred anything but what they’ve got planned. Ivy, however, is desperate to prove that camping can be fun. What Jack wants most is for Ivy to have everything, so he gives in.

He may live to regret it. That is if he doesn’t die first.

What should’ve been an idyllic kayaking trip down the river, complete with gourmet meals and glamorous tents, turns into a mystery when one of the other guests finds blood on the ground on the second day. Jack and Ivy are instantly suspicious … but they seem to be the only ones.

There’s no body, so no reason to worry, and yet Ivy’s dreams won’t let her rest. Can you prove murder when there’s no body and nobody is missing?

That’s the plan for Ivy and Jack, although the trip will have them questioning more than their fellow travel-goers. It will have them questioning their instincts, too.

Strap in. Just because it’s a honeymoon, that doesn’t mean the ride won’t be bumpy.

Songs of Insurrection by J.C. KangSongs of Insurrection by J.C. Kang:

Only the lost magic of Dragon Songs can save the world. Only an awkward girl with the perfect voice can rediscover it.

The Dragon Singers of old summoned typhoons and routed armies, liberating mankind from the orcs before fading into legend. Now, with the world again facing a new cataclysm, the power of music stirs in Kaiya, a naïve misfit with the perfect voice.

Without a master to guide her, she must rely on Hardeep, a disgraced foreign paladin, to help awaken her latent magic. His motives might not be entirely noble. When he leads her to the fabled Dragon Scale Lute, which only a Dragon Singer can wield, it is up to Black Lotus Clan to intervene.

Because the instrument’s fell power can save the world…

Or destroy it.

Romancing the Crone by Amanda M. LeeRomancing the Crone by Amanda M. Lee:

Scout Randall has lived her life in the shadows, always wondering who abandoned her when she was a child and where the magic she boasts came from. Finally, she is about to get some answers.

It won’t be easy, though.

After a wild fight that saw shifters and vampires joining together to battle under an eclipse, things in Hawthorne Hollow are relatively quiet. Scout’s newly-found sister is locked in a cell, her grandfather is laying low, and the enemy appears to be regrouping.

That allows Scout and her boyfriend Gunner to make a trip to her childhood home. Upon their return, a shifter attacks and throws their world into a tailspin. He’s easily dispatched but appears to be suffering from a magical infection that has his body wasting and his mind collapsing.

It’s up to Spell’s Angels to figure out what’s going on, and because nothing is ever easy for Scout, the investigation is going to be harder than she imagined.

It seems there’s a new top vampire in town, and his powers are extensive for a creature who wasn’t born into his legacy. On top of that, he’s crossed paths with Scout before and knows exactly how to push her buttons.

Scout is a fighter but the world is closing in on her. She’s going to need her new co-workers and the family she doesn’t know to help her out on this one … and even then nothing is a given.

The road before her is winding but answers are finally here. Scout will finally know what she is. Whether she survives long enough to benefit from the knowledge is completely up in the air.

Death Kiss by Naomi E. LloydDeath Kiss by Naomi E. Lloyd:

With one kiss I can see when, where and how you will die.

Some would call it a gift. But not me.

My death kiss is a curse that has branded me a witch, with no human rights, and has turned me into the most wanted girl on earth.

Why? Because in a world where a vicious movement of sadistic killers are murdering random people to stop overpopulation, my kiss holds the power for salvation.

And makes me a prime target for abduction.

Which is where I am now. Captured by three brothers, burning with grief after witnessing my parents’ murder, and tormented with fear of what is yet to come…

For something doesn’t add up.

I’m trapped inside a deadly game of kiss and tell, but I know there’s a darker agenda at play.

What it is? I just hope I can live to find out.

Death Kiss is an adult, dark fantasy, romance novel which draws you into a world of magic, deception, seductive twists, and desire.

Blood Moon by Catherine LundoffBlood Moon by Catherine Lundoff:

The Wolf’s Point werewolf pack, born from the magic that calls small groups of middle-aged women to embrace their inner and outer wolves, has been protecting the town for generations. Now Becca Thornton and the Pack have their hands (and paws) full of all the trouble they can handle. Plus a bit extra. Pack member Erin Adams just found a dead body in the trunk of her car and confessed to murder. But no one’s sure who the victim is and Erin can’t remember what happened. Did Erin fall off the wagon and murder a former foe? She doesn’t trust herself and Becca’s beginning to have her doubts.

If that wasn’t enough, Becca’s ex-husband sold their old house and their new neighbors are clearly up to something. Can the Pack get the mystery solved and Erin’s name cleared before the next full moon? Or do the town’s new residents have other plans?

Valkyrie by David NethValkyrie by David Neth:

The end of the world might be sooner than they think.

The valkyries secretly hand-select fallen heroes to bring back to Valhalla to prepare for the final battle. While out at a nightclub, Kathy witnesses a valkyrie collect a dying man's soul. Thinking the valkyrie is doing harm, she tries to fight her off, but loses.
Back in Valhalla, the valkyries view their lapse in secrecy as a sign that the final battle is beginning. They capture Kathy and bring her back to Valhalla while they rally their army to send into battle.

Meanwhile, Samantha is reeling from having told Steven she's a witch. But when she discovers Kathy's gone missing, she puts her strained relationship aside to save her sister, only to end up in just as much danger as Kathy.

With the valkyries preparing for war, Samantha and Kathy must prove that they mean no harm in order to return to their normal lives. But the end of the world might be sooner than they think.

Valkyrie is the third book in the Coven series, which serves as a prequel series to the Under the Moon series.

Heaven Fall by Leo PetracciHeaven Fall by Leo Petracci:

Draysky was born to die in the mines.

Like his father before him, his fate was to harvest treasures until the dust claimed his lungs. He’d die the lowest of society, a Knotted, buried with their thin cord still around his neck. He would never advance as a mage, never to learn of the forbidden runes of the kingdom magicians. But when he looks away from the northern mountains, he allows himself to dream that one day, he’d buy his freedom and escape the mines forever.

But the mines don’t relinquish claimed lives so easily. They draw him in deeper, pulling him into their depths, and when Draysky discovers the source of their treasures, he’s left with a choice.

Return to his labor, and be grateful for the years he has left, or risk his life by seizing the mines’ power. Becoming a threat to those who thrive supported on the backs of his people.

And discovering why runes are forbidden.

Chiral Justice by L.L. RichmanChiral Justice by L.L. Richman:

Old enemies never die.

The unthinkable has happened: an Akkadian assassin has helped broker peace between her star nation and the Alliance. Micah and the rest of Task Force Blue watch the peace talks with guarded optimism—but they know one thing the rest of the settled worlds don't.

Clint Janus has vanished — with the Alliance's most closely-held secret.

Micah Case is that secret.

Janus is now allied with Akkadia's new premier, Asher Dent, but the man is not as peace-loving as he might seem. It's going to be up to Micah Case and Task Force Blue to prevent Dent from achieving that which he wants most: total space supremacy over all the settled worlds.

Chiral Justice is the third book in the Biogenesis War series, and completes this first story arc in the Biogenesis Universe.

Lycan Legacy: Paladin by Veronica SingerLycan Legacy: Paladin by Veronica Singer:

Across the width of the world, Logan’s agony screams in my soul.

Shackled in silver which burns his flesh, he is trapped in a foreign country, lured to captivity by the kidnapping of his human daughter.

I am Luna, the leader of the pack, and it falls on me to lead a rescue mission.

Still, politics would stay my hand. After all, Logan isn’t family, just the runt of my pack; disobedient, combative, and always in trouble.

Wrong. Dead wrong. Pack is family.

Politics decree that I can’t bring the rest of my pack to avoid an international incident.

But nobody said I couldn’t bring Mike, my superhuman bodyguard, an ex-SEAL with the skills to survive anywhere.

And nobody knows about my magical talents, talents that would make the most vicious werewolf seem tame.

Screw politics. Luna White doesn’t leave a packmate in captivity.

The Blackwing War by K.B. SpanglerThe Blackwing War by K.B. Spangler:

Three thousand years ago, the Deep appeared without warning. This alien life form was quickly put to service teleporting people and cargo across great distances, which allowed mass colonization throughout the galaxy. It has also allowed Lancaster, the organization which controls access to the Deep, to grow wealthy and powerful. Cross Lancaster, and you are forced to travel between planets using standard faster-than-light technologies. Nobody wants that!

Tembi Stoneskin is having a very bad day. A Witch in service to the Deep, she spends her time disarming bombs in shipping stations. On her way home to Lancaster, the Deep shows her the aftermath of a weapons test powerful enough to slice a moon in half. While the Deep is a vast intelligence, it is a terrible communicator, and relies on its Witches to translate humanity’s requests into thoughts, moods, and impulses that it can understand. Tembi is a young Witch, but she is a skilled translator and she has learned how to speak with her powerful alien friend.

As they set off to find the source of the weapons test, Tembi and the Deep are pulled into the ongoing war between Earth-normal humans and genetically modified humans. But all wars are founded on excuses, and the Blackwing army has much more to hide than a simple shattered moon.

Last Light by Paul StephensonLast Light by Paul Stephenson:

The year is 2107. Earth is dying. For Wyn, Lois, and Judd, that’s the least of their problems.

Wyn is the pilot on the ISS Minos. Its mission: a race to the ice moon of Europa to cure the disease destroying humanity’s crops. But not everyone on board seems to have the same agenda.

Lois is an Interpol agent investigating the world’s worst criminals – those rich enough to get whatever they want and powerful enough to murder without consequence – and her cover’s been blown.

Judd is hiding as far away from humanity as he can, working in a cheap tourist attraction on the Moon. But when an old man pries a long-forgotten secret from his head, he can no longer hide from the truth he’d buried even from himself. Because Judd is a telepath, and a weapon badly wanted by both sides of an unseen war.

They might not know it, but each holds a key to Earth’s cure… and humanity’s survival.

If you like pulse-quickening action, blood-soaked science fiction, revelations, and revolutions, you’ll love this first episode in Paul Stephenson’s Sunset Chronicles, the new monthly sci-fi horror serial from the author of the bestselling Blood on the Motorway saga.

A Darker Magic by Glynn StewartA Darker Magic by Glynn Stewart:

A bloody war has ended in a restored peace
And the shield of Martian magic guards the stars
Two centuries of spell and steel to ward all humanity

Two years ago, Lieutenant Commander Roslyn Chambers stood witness to the surrender of the last remnants of the Republic. Fueled by atrocity against Mage and mundane alike, the secessionists who waged war against the Protectorate of Mars are finally defeated.

Now, a special commission from the Mage-Queen of Mars takes Roslyn deep into the former Republic to hunt the architects of that atrocity. Mages who betrayed their own, the creators of Project Prometheus must be brought to justice.

But hidden from even the Republic, Prometheus has woven magic and technology together once more. Here, hidden from all prying eyes, they have created a monster…one that even a Protectorate forged by the spell must call black magic.

Marauders by T.S. ValmondMarauders by T.S. Valmond:

How far is too far to save the human race?

Captain Dana Pinet is struggling to put her demons to rest while carrying the last of humanity still reeling from the loss of their world onboard the Starship Hope.

She and the crew will be tested yet again when they come into contact with a group of plucky aliens enthralled by their circumstances and eager to befriend them. Things turn ugly when the aliens make off with precious cargo and half their dwindling supplies.

In pursuit of the thieves, the crew discovers they’re not the only ones after the pirates, and getting caught in alien cross-fire will only make matters worse. If Dana can’t track down the pirates and their stolen cargo, it may bring about the extinction of the human race.

Marauders is the thrilling second book in the science fiction series Starship Hope. If you like intriguing first contact with aliens and survival at all-costs scenarios, you’ll love this second book by T.S. Valmond.

Katana of Trust by A.C. WardKatana of Trust by A.C. Ward:

Escaping death by her father's hand was only the beginning...

Determined to prove herself to the gods, Shou will do anything to forget the journey that brought her to the island of the kami. Now is her time to rise up and take her place as the true chosen one.

But when enemies try to destroy Shou, another human saves her. She's shocked that he bears the same mark as she. Suddenly, Shou questions everything about her history. Is she truly the chosen one of the prophecy?

Teaming up with Masaru, heir to the Date clan, is her only option to uncover the truth and save herself from death. As Masaru and Shou grow closer, one thing is certain: they've been wrong about the prophecy all along. Nameless and desperate, will Shou find her courage and fight for her place among the kami or forge a path of her own?

The Eighth Key by Laura WeyrThe Eighth Key by Laura Weyr:

The magic is gone...or is it?

Lucian is a jaded flirt and professional bard who knows all the old songs about sorcery. When he meets Corwin, a shy mage who can still use magic despite the Drought, Lucian finds his desire growing with each passing day—not just for answers, but for Corwin himself.

Sparks fly as they find themselves passionately entangled in adventure and each other. But learning the true origin of the Drought and the Key to ending it comes at a price that their bond may not survive...

Monday, March 29, 2021

Monster of the Dark (Mirrors in the Dark, Book 1) by K.T. Belt


Release date: March 30, 2021
Subgenre: Urban Fantasy, Dystopian

About Monster of the Dark

Carmen Grey always knew she was different.

None of the other children seemed able to read minds. None of the other children were able to manipulate their toys without touching them. On the morning of her sixth birthday, three men dressed in black arrive to remove her from the loving care of her parents.

She is taken to an underground facility meant for others like her, for Clairvoyants. Stripped of her name and identity, over the years she is fashioned into something scary—something lethal. Each day is an endless struggle and every night is plagued by nightmares. Yet, for Carmen, her ultimate battle isn’t to save her life, but to keep her soul.



The four of them reached the aerocar, and the man in the suit gestured for her to get in. She did so without question, and then he sat next to her. The other two men sat up front. No one said anything, but Carmen didn’t mind that. She often thought people talked too much anyway. What was the point when, most of the time, you already knew what they were going to say?

The aerocar didn’t move right away as the soldiers still piled into the rest of the vehicles in the convoy. Carmen didn’t pay them much mind; her attention was firmly fixed on the man in the suit. Why couldn’t she figure him out? He was different from every person she’d ever met, that much was certain. He did nothing more than watch her casually out the corner of his eye, but she could swear he was fighting her. If he wasn’t, there was resistance of some sort, whether it was produced by him or not.

As he drew more of her attention, this wasn’t just a game anymore to her. Carmen thought she found a crack in his shell, but when she pushed through, the next barrier was even stronger. The frustration made her curl her hands into little fists, and it was then, and quite by surprise, that she heard a voice in her head.

Impressive,” it said. “However, it’s more polite to ask permission first.

Carmen’s mouth dropped open. Her parents always told her she was different from other people—that she was special. She wasn’t so sure about the second part, but she already knew the first. The other kids were just different around her, wary even when she sat quietly in a lonely corner of the playground. They could look at her and somehow know she was not one of them. Yet, for all that, she never thought she’d hear voices in her head. Crazy people heard voices, and she wasn’t crazy. She was just different, as she was constantly told.

The man in the suit looked at her and smiled. “Don’t be alarmed. You’re not imagining this,” he said telepathically.

Carmen now knew how those kids at the playground felt. She moved as far away from the man as possible while continuing to stare. Her breathing quickened. She didn’t even notice the car had started to move.

“How…how do you do that?” she asked quickly.

The man smiled again. “You are strong. Unusually strong. But it seems like you have yet to discover the full extent of your abilities. I shall correct that.

She had no idea what he was talking about. “Who are you?” she asked.

The man paused for a moment. “You may call me Janus,” he said, using audible sound for the first time.

She considered her response for a few seconds. “My name is Carmen.” Her mother and father would want her to be polite—and her mother did tell her to stay good, whatever that meant.

“No, it is not,” Janus said sternly.

The change in his demeanor took Carmen aback. It was not that he was angry—at least, he didn’t seem angry. He was just so…forceful.

“You don’t have a name. Not yet. You don’t have a name until we give you a name.”

Amazon | Kobo | Apple | Google Play | Thalia 

About K.T. Belt:

Yup, I’m the evil guy keeping you up all night to read, “Just one more page.” A storyteller from birth, it was inevitable that I’d find my way to writing books. All of my works have a very strong focus on character and believable worlds.

Other than books, I’m a licensed pilot and certified jet nerd. I’m also interested in motorsports and a lover of the “sweet science.”



Friday, March 26, 2021

Interview with Joshua Chaplinsky, author of The Paradox Twins

Today it gives the Speculative Fiction Showcase great pleasure to interview Joshua Chaplinsky, author of The Paradox Twins.

Your press release says The Paradox Twins is “a copyright infringing biographical collage that exists on the Internet, pieced together by an unknown auteur.” Who is the unknown auteur?

I can’t tell you that! That’s the mystery of the whole thing! But according to his bio, he is “…the Webmaster of He is a college dropout who self-identifies as an artist—as opposed to an author—that paints with the words of others.” Sounds pretty pretentious, if you ask me.

Who are or were the twins, and the Langley family? 

The twins are the offspring of prominent Boston physicist, Paul Langley, and his wife Florence. There’s Max Langley, renowned author of the bestselling Anthropica book series for young adults; and Albert Langley, local high school science teacher.

What is “the famous thought experiment”?

The Twins Paradox is a thought experiment in special relativity in which one identical twin takes a trip in a rocket while the other remains on Earth. The paradox is that each will view the other as having aged less. A pretty potent metaphor for sibling rivalry.

The novel is available for pre-order, to be released from Clash Books in April 2021. How does the novel relate to the website and the webmaster?

The novel and the website are technically one and the same, as are the webmaster and the author. In reality it is a promotional blurring of lines.

As a collage made up from various unreliable sources and narrators, does it have any precedents in book or film format?

Oh, sure. Tons. Pale Fire by Nabokov, House of Leaves by Danielewski, the Bible. 

What if anything has the book got to say about the current era of “post-truth” and “alternative facts”?

Personal truth, say from a storytelling perspective, or interpretation of art, is subjective. Scientific facts, however, are not. But it seems a lot of people have trouble telling the two apart.

The Langley Twins are haunted by the past - and the future. To what extent is this a ghost story? 

To the extent that we are all “haunted” by our past, but also because Albert Langley’s dead father might be visiting him at night, unless it’s not his father, but a future version of his brother, which… I’m not sure which prospect is scarier. 

Your other published works include Whispers in the Ear of A Dreaming Ape, and Kanye West—Reanimator. How much does satire animate your writing? 

Depends on the project, but I’d say a fair amount. I feel The Paradox Twins is more sincere than satirical, at least from a social standpoint. I suppose it does lampoon family dynamics a bit. Personally I find satire works better in the short form. Personally as in my own writing. 

“The Paradox Twins is an experimental, sci-fi ghost story about the scariest, most unknowable quantity there is—family.” Tell us more.

I mean, that pretty much says it all. Family is one of the most important things in the world, yet every family is different. You know the old adage, “You can choose your friends…” There’s no predicting what you’re gonna get in the family lottery, and that’s scary—from the perspective of a child or a parent. Nobody wants to spend all that time and money raising a kid that turns out to be a total jerk!

Has your own life or your family history fed into the story? 

Definitely. It feeds into every story, just not always in the most obvious of ways. People looking for clues to “who I am” in The Paradox Twins will find themselves mislead by red herrings of their own making. 

You are the managing editor of and also appear on Twitter as @jaceycockrobin. What do you feel about the messy world of the internet where social media has changed the meaning of, er, meaning beyond recognition?

Like anything, the internet and social media has its pros and cons. Every new development does. Every advancement throughout the ages has been heralded as both a miracle and a curse. Ultimately I think it’s more about the people behind the changes, and how they implement and utilize them, that makes the mess.

Will there be more books?

If people buy this one! Otherwise, there might only be more manuscripts that sit on my computer gathering digital dust.

How have the last few years blurred the difference between fiction and reality and what does that mean for writers?

It’s made it harder to shock, to stretch credulity, to be satirical, because real life has become so bizarre. Truth has always been stranger than fiction, but as of late “truth” has become a parody of itself. People read books to escape that shit. Pretty soon all books will be about normal people doing mundane things.

According to the webmaster: “I do not claim ownership of copyright over any of the materials reproduced within. This site is presented for “edutainment” purposes only (because why should you pay when it comes from the heart?). Also, I feel it falls under the umbrella of fair use as a derivative work.” How does this disclaimer relate to other famous prefaces like the one to Gulliver’s Travels? 

You know, I’ve never read Gulliver’s Travels, so I’m not sure! Does Milo Manara’s Gullivera count?

Why should they pay when it comes from the heart?

That’s a good question! It’s a catch-22. Too many writers are concerned with climbing the charts, as it were.

Who was Donald Barthelme and what was so important about collages? 

Barthelme was a writer known for his unconventional short stories, which often read more like a collection of descriptions and events than an actual narrative. What was so important about collage? You’d have to ask him, but you can’t—he’s dead! Did you see his obituary?

Amazon CLASH Books pre-order link

About Joshua Chaplinsky:

Joshua Chaplinsky is the Managing Editor of He is the author of The Paradox TwinsWhispers in the Ear of A Dreaming Ape, and Kanye West—Reanimator. His short fiction has been published by Vice, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Thuglit, Severed Press, Shotgun Honey, Broken River Books, and more. Follow him on Twitter at @jaceycockrobin. More info at

website | unravelingtheparadox | Instagram | Twitter


Thursday, March 25, 2021

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for March 26, 2021

It's time for the latest weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy at ninety and the many iterations of Star Trek, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and the Marvel Cinematic Universe in general, Superman and Lois, the so-called "Snyder cut" of Justice League, the season 3 finale of American Gods, The Walking Dead, Solar Opposites, Godzilla vs. Kong, tributes to Dean Morrissey and much more.

Speculative fiction in general:
Film and TV:
Comments on William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy at ninety and Star Trek in general:
Comments on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and the Marvel Cinematic Universe in general (spoilers):
Comments on season 3 of American Gods
Comments on Superman and Lois
Comments on the so-called "Snyder cut" of Justice League:
Comments on The Walking Dead
Comments on season 2 of Solar Opposites:
Writing, publishing and promotion:



Classics reviews:

Con and event reports:
Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Trailers and videos: