Friday, March 31, 2023

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for April 1, 2023

It's time for the latest weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with an uproar about a hatchet job profile of Brandon Sanderson, a shake-up at Disney and Marvel Comics, Star Trek Picard and Star Trek in general, The Mandalorian and Star Wars in general, The Last of Us, Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves, The Power, Tetris, The Big Door Prize, season 2 of Yellowjackets, the abuse allegations against Jonathan Majors and much more.

Speculative fiction in general:
Comments on Wired's hatchet job profile of Brandon Sandderson: 
Comics and Art:
Film and TV:
Comments on Star Trek Picard and Star Trek in general (spoilers): 
Comments on The Last of Us:  
Comments on season 3 of The Mandalorian and Star Wars in general: 
Comments on Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
Comments on The Big Door Prize
Comments on season 2 of Yellowjackets:
 Comments on The Power:
Comments on Tetris
Comments on the assault and abuse allegations against Jonathan Majors:

Writing, publishing and promotion:

Classics reviews:
Con and event reports:
Science and technology:
Free online fiction: 
Trailers and videos:


Thursday, March 30, 2023

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for March 2023

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 urban fantasy, epic fantasy, historical fantasy, cozy fantasy, YA fantasy, sword and sorcery, paranormal mystery, science fantasy, space opera, military science fiction, Cyberpunk, horror, dragons, vampires, mages, shark shifters, elf assassins, exiled soldiers, genetically engineered space marines, alien invasions, crime-busting witches, crime-busting psychics, rival potion shops, roadside inns, terrors from the deep 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:

Grimsbane by Nicholas AppleyardGrimsbane by Nicholas Appleyard:

In times past, the Grimm Horde—a cursed people corrupted and commanded the dread sorcerer Aihaab—were defeated and banished to the underground kingdom of Ash Ul M’on. Their master, Aihaab, was slain, and the world breathed a sigh of relief.

But now fell auguries whisper that the darkness has returned. Crows circle the skies. Men quarrel and worship the shadows. And a changeling warrior, Steeleye, adopted by the noble clans of the North, dreams of a vast field of destruction and death in which a beautiful red-headed woman calls to him.

Though Aihaab was defeated, his seven dark servants—great demons of old—were not. Called by the Goddess of Death, The Morriggu, Steeleye must now embark upon a quest to rid the world of these ancient terrors before their new master, a force far more terrifying than Aihaab, completes the work Aihaab left undone…

Grimmsbane is the startling first book in the intended Steeleye series, an epic sword and sorcery tale in the tradition of Robert E. Howard. Combining heroic fantasy with cosmic horror, Grimmsbane explores the psychological price of heroism, the meaning of fellowship, and what it means to face one’s death with courage.

A Rival Most Vial by R.K. AshwickA Rival Most Vial by R.K. Ashwick:

Two potion shops, one heated rivalry…until hate bubbles over into something else.

Any adventurer worth their sword knows about Ambrose Beake. The proud, quiet half-elf sells the best, and only, potions in the city—until a handsome new shopkeeper named Eli opens another potion shop across the street, throwing Ambrose’s peace and ledgers far off balance.

Within weeks, they’re locked in a war of price tags and products—Ambrose’s expertise against Eli’s effortless charm. Toil leads to trouble, the safety gloves come off, and right as their rivalry reaches a boiling point…

The mayor commissions them to brew a potion together.

The task is as complex as it is lucrative, pushing both men to the limits of their abilities and patience. Yet as the fires burn and cauldrons bubble…they find a different sort of chemistry brewing.

Exile by Jay AspenExile by Jay Aspen:

In the aftermath of a deadly invasion, Samaran is a land in turmoil.
Bandits prey on cities and farmsteads, corsairs prowl the high seas.

Ariel has earned her place with the elite Mage-warriors of the Eldrin, sworn to protect King and country––but power comes with a cost. The Elementals who can bestow dragonfire and ice-skills are wild and unpredictable, focused on their own long-term goals.

But now the sinister power behind the war is once more taking shape and form, the strength and skill of the Eldrin will be needed to lead the resistance.

For Ariel, life has become complicated. Visions of the distant threat haunt her dreams, her sister treads a precarious path as royal concubine and bodyguard, her Elemental ally seems to have gone rogue––and the love of her life has ended their relationship.

If only she can control the wild power inside her to defeat the raiders…
Then maybe she can protect her sister from the schemes of influential conspirators––and maybe even persuade Marin they can be reunited when the fighting is over…

Elf, dragon, wolf, and a mysterious Mage-warrior weave a dangerous path in this fantasy adventure-romance epic from Jay Aspen.

The Inn of the Seven Stars by Kevin BeckettThe Inn of the Seven Stars by Kevin Beckett:

A tale of an inn with good music, tasty food, strong beer … and inadvertent necromancy.

Travel is hard work and, for the Fiddler named Cal, any stop at an inn is a place to perform, to share the songs and music he has loved and, perhaps more importantly, use those in exchange for a warm bed, good food, free drinks, and maybe some extra coin.

However, the roads we travel are roads that have existed long before we set foot on them and, at the crossroads where Cal finds the Inn of the Seven Stars, he encounters an demonstration of inadvertent necromancy. To put matters to rest, an immortal must be queried, an inquisition must be stopped, and an inn must be saved.

But not before he finishes his beer in front of him.

Exiled to Perdition by Jonathan P. Brazee and J.N. ChaneyExiled to Perdition by Jonathan P. Brazee and J.N. Chaney:

Where does a warrior go when the war is over?

Forged into human weapons to defend humanity against impossible odds, Sergeant Major Reverent Pelletier and the rest of the IBHU Marines and other hyper-augments are discarded by those they fought to protect.

Now that the war is over, they are deemed too dangerous to exist.

Yet, they may still prove valuable.

With two recent, deadly wars against alien races, humanity needs to know what other threats are out there. Exiled from human space, they are given a new mission: dive into the unknown depths of the galaxy and discover what else lurks in the far reaches of space.

Space is vast but full of danger. Discovering it is a near certainty, given enough time.

Survival is a different story.

Wrenched by Lindsay BurokerWrenched by Lindsay Buroker:

Matti Puletasi finally has the name of one of the people responsible for her parents’ kidnapping. He’s a powerful billionaire with magical security strong enough to keep out dragons, but she’s determined to get in to question him. Make that interrogate him.

Sarrlevi, the elf assassin she’s fallen in love with, would usually help her, but he’s fighting a battle of his own. The wounds he received in their last skirmish aren’t healing, and something in his blood is affecting his mind. And it’s getting worse.

If Matti can’t reach the billionaire and find a way to heal Sarrlevi, she could lose everyone she loves.

Notes and a Nomad by Carl Cota-RoblesNotes and a Nomad by Carl Cota-Robles:

Al Hardin is 15 years old and he's just left his hometown. Haunted by the memory of his mother's passing, he's looking for a place to start over and become someone new. But when he meets a talented piano player by the name of Soya, he's drawn into a conflict against a notorious trio of criminals that will change his life.

Meanwhile, across the vast desert from him, a dragon rider is setting off on a secret mission. 15-year-old Maya dreams of following in his footsteps one day and bonding with her own dragon, but she'll have to prove herself first. As she takes on an important job for the departing dragon rider, she struggles to maintain an important childhood friendship.

This is the prequel to the Dragon Destiny series. It's the story of a determined girl navigating friendships and mistakes before becoming a dragon rider. And it's the story of a boy, forging a new personality that comes to be known as The Silver Bandana.

The Palace Behind the Sky by Emery GallagherThe Palace Behind the Sky by Emery Gallagher:

Winter in Tandora finds the country locked in a stalemate of war, and Charlie of Windsong remains with the Heir's Army to support Prince Justinian's fight for the throne.

Loyalties and allegiances prove tenuous during times of conflict, and a sudden betrayal forces Charlie to flee for her life in the dark of night. She escapes her pursuers with the help of friendly strangers and finds refuge in a fantastical place where she is welcomed as an honored guest. But the longer she stays, the more suspicious she becomes that not all is as it seems in this magical place, and she is uncertain of who she can trust. When the truth is revealed, Charlie finds that the outcome of the war rests on a decision she must make. Her choice leads her on a fast-paced adventure through the Eastern Lands where she encounters danger, subterfuge, and someone from her past.

Her journey to Shala reunited her with her father, and her father's political scheming brought her back to her home country. Now to save those she cares about, Charlie must depend on her own abilities as she takes on a task that puts her at the center of the battle for the country. On this next adventure, Charlie encounters magic beyond what she has ever seen, steps into her new role as leader of the Order of the Dagger, and takes the future of the Eastern Lands into her own hands.

The Last Lion of Karkov by Dale GriffinThe Last Lion of Karkov by Dale Griffin:

"Emotionally compelling protagonists and an action-packed storyline make this a rousing fantasy read" —Kirkus Reviews

"Commanding attention, the novel is propelled toward its gripping end: the world into which the twins were born is not the world that they will leave behind. Intelligent and brave, they inspire a new generation of citizens." —Foreword Clarion Review

Raised in Karkov, a military, male-dominant kingdom, twins Natalia and Jillian know nothing but battle. When Jillian emerges as the dominant twin and apparent heir to the throne, Natalia, the softer and more diplomatic sister, ceases her military training. As Natalia prepares to marry the prince of her father’s favored Western ally, Jillian is set to become the first woman Lion of Karkov. But things don’t go as planned when the older generation of warriors values her womb over her sword. Suddenly, the role Jillian has fought for all her life is slipping through her fingers…and she’s not about to let it go without a fight.

At first, Jillian wants to destroy the young male warrior that the older generation favors. But soon, the two begin to fall for each other, and dark secrets behind Karkov’s past come to light. Now, Jillian finds herself in the unthinkable position of defending her former rival…and defying her father. Her defiance inspires a younger generation of warriors, who dub her the Lioness of Karkov.

Furious, her father ousts Jillian and the warriors who swore allegiance to her, setting in motion a chain of events that will disrupt everything he swore to protect. As innocent lands suffer invasion, greedy monarchies fall to revolution, and the wedding of the century threatens to live up to its name, Jillian and Natalia must reckon with the consequences of love and war. When four nations converge on a battlefield, one sister must decide whether to embrace the life she always wanted—or stand up for the destiny that was never meant for her.

Witching With Sharks by Lily Harper HartWitching With Sharks by Lily Harper Hart:

One of the biggest trivia competitions in the world is coming to Paradise Lodge, and Hali Waverly is expecting an influx of guests. What she’s not prepared for is murder.

When a body drops on the resort’s beach, however, she finds herself knee-deep in the investigation along with her new boyfriend Gray Hunter. Unfortunately for her, there are a few too many suspects for her comfort level.

Between the other contestants—a flamboyant group of individuals whom Hali has trouble relating to—and the workers, there’s no limit to the pool of potential killers. Finding the right one isn’t going to be easy.

When you add in the dark merrow, who continue to make their presence known, Hali has her hands full.

All she wants is a little rest and to have a good time. That might not be in the cards though. When it becomes apparent that someone is trying to control the outcome of the competition, all bets are off.

Beaches, bodies, and Bloody Marys? Yup, things are about to get hairy for St. Pete’s favorite witch and shifter.

Oh, yeah, there will be some shark shifters too.

Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

The Night Belongs To Us and Other Stories by Jess LandryThe Night Belongs To Us and Other Stories by Jess Landry:

Sometimes the deepest wounds are from those we hold the closest.

In her debut collection, Bram Stoker Award-winner Jess Landry blurs the line between genres, magnifying the darkness in the spaces in between, and confronting those relationships that are nearest and dearest to us in the most horrific ways.

A mother and her daughter escape Nazi Germany, boarding the Hindenburg under the promise of a new life. An abused musical protégé discovers that her rage fuels much more than her cello-playing abilities. A hardened police officer finds something unexpected in the rising flood waters of her evacuated hometown. A woman ventures out onto the sea, in hopes of finding a mysterious mist where the dead roam freely. A strange tar infests the home of a young girl, swallowing everything in its wake, including her mother. Two broken women form a tragic bond while searching for a missing person in the dead of winter.

Mothers. Daughters. Sisters. Friends. No one is safe.

This collection of scary short stories is perfect for fans of Gwendolyn Kiste, SP Miskowski, Gemma Files, and Nadia Bulkin, as well as mystery and suspense short stories.

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

Cast the First Crone by Amanda M. LeeCast the First Crone by Amanda M. Lee:

Scout Randall’s life has turned from bad to worse. With her boyfriend’s murderous mother on the loose, that means she’s a target. But where will the attack come from?

Scout thought they would have time to figure things out, time to regroup and come up with a plan. She was wrong. The next enemy is on their doorstep.

When a body is found in a remote hunting lodge, a familiar symbol painted on the wall, Scout knows it’s time to go on the offensive. Unfortunately for her, she’s not entirely certain what she’s hunting for.

Is it a human? Is it a vampire? Is it something worse?

Scout and her motley crew of witches and shifters are ready to fight, but when you don’t know your enemy, that’s virtually impossible.

Scout’s answers lie in her past, and the search she thought postponed is suddenly on her. The family that let her go might just be back in the mix. Will they be friends or foes, however?

Big answers are coming fast and furious. Scout’s never been in more danger, and yet if she can hang on just a little bit longer, her past will provide the answers she’s always wanted.

It’s time for the reunion to end all reunions…if Scout can stay alive to see it through.

Dark and Lonely Water by Graeme ReynoldsDark and Lonely Water by Graeme Reynolds:

Dark and Lonely Water is aquatic horror at its finest.”—Gingernuts of Horror

When Samantha Ashlyn is forced to return to her home town to write an article on a series of drownings, she initially resists, finding disturbing similarities to her childhood experiences. However, once she starts looking into the assignment, she finds that things are not what they seem. An ancient evil is rising again, aided by what appears to be a centuries-old conspiracy to keep it hidden. With the help of a disgraced police diver, Sam races to stop the nightmare before more lives are lost. Not realising that her investigation has put herself and those she loves in terrible danger.

Set in Northern England, this folk horror novel is perfect for fans of strong female protagonists, dark humour, conspiracies, mythological creatures, dark fantasy, and thrillers.

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

Ropes and Last Hopes by Trixie SilvertaleRopes and Last Hopes by Trixie Silvertale:

When a suspicious death takes the life of a friend, our psychic sleuth must expose a killer’s dirty laundry…

Mitzy Moon hopes for a normal day running errands. And this time, she’s determined to get her grandmother’s couture properly cleaned. But her day gets stuck in a spin cycle when she encounters crime-scene tape at the dry cleaner’s and a puzzling murder.

With her only way into the case through an undercover stint in the women’s wrestling league, Mitzy charges ahead with little help from her mentor, Ghost-ma, or her entitled feline. But if the bell rings before she corners the suspect, more lives could end up on the ropes.

Can Mitzy hold a murderer down for the count, or will she be taken out in a lethal smackdown?

Nine Sailed Star by Glynn StewartNine Sailed Star by Glynn Stewart:

A captain, exiled for disobeying orders in the heat of a battle against dragons
A shaman, desperate to keep her clan of sailors out of servitude
An archmage who has foreseen the destruction of all worlds

The elvar, with their long lifespans and rigid traditions, condemned Cat Greentrees for fleeing an unwinnable battle to bring news of a new threat. Cat plans to wait out his exile by drinking himself into a stupor, but the words of prophecy dog his heels.

When one of the powerful and revered archmages—a short-lived halvar named Armand Bluestaves—receives a similar prophecy, Cat will need to decide whether to throw away what’s left of his reputation to wage a reckless campaign into the void.

In the void, there are no currents to propel ships. There is only hungry darkness and the ghosts of destroyed worlds. If they want to save all free var of the Spheres, they’ll need to leave everything they know behind.

But first, they need a ship...and a crew.

Infiltration by James David VictorInfiltration by James David Victor:

The enemy of your enemy is your friend. Maybe.

Carl and his team have been sent on a desperate mission to infiltrate the Palacian homeworld and apprehend the queen. When things go wrong, a new enemy emerges and they are faced with a difficult choice, and their only chance of winning the war might be to trust their sworn enemy. If they choose the lesser of two evils will it still mean destruction of the human race?

Teeth of the Rakshasa by B.J. WestTeeth of the Rakshasa by B.J. West:

Revolutionaries, thieves, or terrorists?

Depending on who you talk to, Spider King and his cohorts in the infamous Gordian Net are either criminals or revolutionaries in the ongoing struggle against the corporations that have replaced the federal government of the formerly united States.

Nobody pushes their notoriety as Robin Hoods harder than Spider himself. Arrogant and egotistical, Spider is a veritable rock star of the hacking world. It would be annoying if he wasn’t actually every bit as good as his talk.

Attracted by their reputation, a peculiar client approaches the Gordian Net with an opportunity that could be the score of a lifetime. But what first appears to be a simple hack-and-grab run quickly snowballs into an all-out war with the most powerful tech company in the world.

Spider will have to outthink, outrun, and outmaneuver the most ruthless street operatives in San Francisco without becoming the next victim of a new weapon of unspeakable horror.


Thursday, March 23, 2023

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for March 24, 2023

It's time for the latest weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with more on the discussion surrounding the rise of AI writing and art bots, Star Trek Picard and Star Trek in general, The Mandalorian and Star Wars in general, The Last of Us, Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves, 65, Shazam! Fury of the Gods and the mess that is the DC Cinematic Universe, season 2 of Shadow and Bone, season 2 of Yellowjackets, Scream VI, tributes to Lance Reddick and Dina Norlund and much more.

Speculative fiction in general:
Film and TV:
Tributes to Lance Reddick:  
Comments on Star Trek Picard and Star Trek in general (spoilers): 
Comments on The Last of Us:  
Comments on season 3 of The Mandalorian and Star Wars in general: 
Comments on 65
Comments on Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
Comments on Shazam! Fury of the Gods and the mess that is the DC Cinematic Universe: 
Comments on season 2 of Yellowjackets:
 Comments on season 2 of Shadow and Bone:
Comments on Scream VI:

Writing, publishing and promotion:

Classics reviews:
Con and event reports:
Science and technology:

Free online fiction: 
Trailers and videos: