In Birmingham

I’ve arrived safely in Birmingham and am now utilizing my 30 minutes of free hotel WiFi per day.

Meanwhile, Debts to Pay, the newly released fourth installment in my Shattered Empire series, is today’s featured new release at the Speculative Fiction Showcase.

We continue to post all sorts of great content over there, so check it out to tide you over until I get back.

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Away for a few days

I’ll be in Birmingham in the UK for a few days with only spotty internet access, so blogging and tweeting and other internet activities will be only sporadic.

But have no fear, there’ll be photos when I get back.

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Realism and Revolutions in Science Fiction

iO9 has a great article by Esther Inglis-Arkell about ten lessons that fictional dystopias and the revolutions that topple them can learn from real life revolutions.

The weak worldbuilding of many modern dystopias is a well known problem. It’s particularly endemic among YA dystopias (which are mostly metaphorical rather than realistic anyway), but dystopian fiction aimed at adults isn’t immune as e.g. the 2002 movie Equilibrium with its flat-out unrealistic finale (“Yeah right, like it would be so easy”, I thought upon first viewing) shows. By the way, I had completely forgotten that William Fichtner whose performance as the disabled cop Carl Hickman in Crossing Lines is a large part of what makes that show worthwhile, was also Equilibrium. But then a lot of unlikely people were in Equilibrium, including a bunch of German TV actors, which makes watching the film an even weirder experience than it would normally be.

Now I’ve always had a soft spot for what I call “revolution SF”, science fiction about a brave ragtag band of rebels fighting some kind of oppressive system. These stories used to be quite common, both in space opera, before it got colonised by military SF and the representatives of the system suddenly became the heroes, and in dystopian SF proper. The main difference was that in space opera the revolution usually succeeded, whereas in dystopian SF the system usually won and our brave ragtag band of rebels either managed to escape into the wilderness, if it was a happy ending dystopia, or were broken, reabsorbed into the system and/or killed, if it was a really bloody depressing dystopia. I preferred the happy endings, of course, though I gobbled up all of them as a teenager, happy and sad. I was never happier than when I was made to read both Brave New World and 1984 in 12th grade, because hey, we were reading science fiction in school and even the “good kind” (i.e. revolution SF). Okay, so both books ended unhappily, as did the short fiction they made us read such as E.M. Foster’s The Machine Stops. But then it was school, so expecting SF about revolutions that actually succeeded would’ve been too much to ask. Continue reading

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Two new Shattered Empire stories available: Seedlings and Debts to Pay

Today I’ve got a double release in the Shattered Empire series to announce, because both the long awaited novella Debts to Pay as well as a new Shattered Empire short story named Seedlings have just come out.

Seedlings is another story focussing on Holly di Marco and Ethan Lord Summerton, whom we first met in Mercy Mission and History Lesson. It was originally intended as the opening scene of an upcoming novella, but somehow it didn’t really fit in with the rest of the novella. However, the characterisation and worldbuilding would have been a pity to lose, so I finally decided to turn it into a standalone short story.

Debts to Pay, which features Holly’s friend and fellow mercenary Carlotta Valdez on a solo mission, had an even more complicated history, because it is an extensive rewrite of a short story called “The Nighthuntress” that I wrote more then twenty years ago during my second semester of university. When I looked through my inventory of finished stories, I also came upon “The Nighthuntress”. The writing needed a lot of work and besides the story tied in to the now defunct Femla universe, a space opera universe I developed in my teens and that’s basically unusable now, though parts of it survive in the Shattered Empire series.

As I read “The Nighthuntress” again for the first time in twenty years, I thought, “Some of this is actually quite good.” I also realised that it would work quite well as a solo mission for Carlotta Valdez. So I rewrote the entire story from scratch and also added in some elements, e.g. the Smoofs don’t exist in the original story at all.

I’m quite happy with the result, plus we learn a lot more about Carlotta, including the identity of her mystery lover who is mentioned in History Lesson. And can I just say how happy I am about the cover art, especially since it’s so difficult finding SF stock art featuring women who don’t look like strippers or sex workers as well as any kind of stock art featuring people of colour at all.

Seedlings
Seedlings by Cora BuhlertOnce Ethan Summerton was the heir to a lordship, and a whole planet besides. But all that was taken from him, when his father decided to side with the Galactic Rebellion against the Fifth Human Empire and was murdered for his troubles along with the entire Summerton family, leaving Ethan the only survivor.

Now, cooped up with more than two thousand other Rebels in the eternal night of the planet Pyrs, Ethan Summerton is reduced to tending the rebel base’s greenhouse. Not that he minds – Ethan has never been a snob and besides, he’s always liked gardening. Besides, it gives him the chance to impress his new best friend Holly with the crops he’s growing.

A hardened mercenary, Holly di Marco doesn’t have much use for gardens and greenhouses and strange leafy things. But they matter to Ethan and since Holly is supposed to take care of him, she tries to feign interest as well.

But then one day, an incident involving a lost little girl, chickens and batavia lettuce shows her what Ethan Summerton is truly made of.

For more information, visit the Seedlings page.

Buy it for the low price of 0.99 USD, EUR or GBP at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Casa del Libro, Scribd, Inktera, txtr, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Der Club, Libiro, Nook UK, DriveThruFiction, OmniLit/AllRomance e-books, Flipkart, e-Sentral, You Heart Books and XinXii.

Debts to Pay
Debts to Pay by Cora Buhlert Once Carlotta Valdez was a mercenary, working for the highest bidder. No job was too dirty or too dangerous as long as she got paid.

But then Carlotta had a change of heart. She joined the Rebellion against the Galactic Empire and met rebel leader Arthur Madden, perhaps the only man in the universe she genuinely admires.

However, the past has a nasty habit of catching up with you when you least expect it. And so, while on a mission for the Rebellion, Carlotta runs into Darius Gilroy, crime lord, all around scumball and her former boss. Gilroy had a job for Carlotta and he won’t take no for an answer. And to emphasise his point, he threatens to hand her over to the Empire, if she doesn’t accept.

So Carlotta finds herself en route to the rimworld of Rothea III to take out a drug lord who has been encroaching on Gilroy’s territory. The drug lord certainly won’t be missed, but how can Carlotta reconcile an assassination job with her newfound rebel convictions? And how can she get Gilroy off her back, lest he threaten her and her comrades again?

For more information, visit the Debts to Pay page.

Buy it for the low price of 3.99 USD, EUR or GBP at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Casa del Libro, Scribd, Inktera, txtr, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Der Club, Libiro, Nook UK, DriveThruFiction, OmniLit/AllRomance e-books, Flipkart, e-Sentral, You Heart Books and XinXii.

Finally, I also want to mention that you can buy a bundle of all Shattered Empire stories at DriveThruFiction for only 5.99 USD.

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Harvest Festival 2014

This Saturday was not just the start of school for this year’s crop of first graders, but also the day of the harvest festival, an annual celebration of farming and food that consists of a parade through my semi-rural suburb of Bremen, a service at the local Lutheran church and a big party in the evening and night (held on the football field some 500 meters from my home and therefore rather noisy).

Since the parade passed through my street, I had the chance to take some photos. Photos of the 2011 and 2012 harvest festivals may be found here, by the way. I must have missed the 2013 festival for some reason.

This year’s harvest parade seemed a little shorter and had fewer floats than those in previous years with longterm stalwarts such as the choir Liederkreis Harmonie, the homeowners’ association Siedlervereinigung Hördener Heideweg and the local chapter of the Kyffhäuserbund (originally a war veterans’ organisation, now a social club for the rural elderly) missing. I suspect that the Kyffhäuser and Liederkreis Harmonie simply died out, given the advanced age of their membership. Come to think of it, the same might apply to Siedlervereinigung Hördener Heideweg, since the original homeowners of Hördener Heideweg must be in their 70s by now.

Nonetheless, I’m glad that we still have a harvest festival parade, since a lot of these small festivals have died out in recent years.

Now let’s have some photos: Continue reading

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Photos: Lüneburger Heide 2014 (with bonus crazy house)

Here in Northwest Germany, one of the most popular destinations for holidays and short trips is the Lüneburger Heide, a nature preserve with a unique heath landscape that’s great for hiking, biking and horseback riding. It’s particularly beautiful in late summer and early autumn when the heath is in bloom, turning whole swathes of the landscape pink.

I already posted some photos of the Lüneburg heath in 2012, but those photos were taken when the heather bloom was almost over, so the heath looks brown rather than pink. This year, we went to visit the Lüneburger Heide earlier in the year, so I managed to catch the heath in full bloom.

The Lüneburg heath is actually divided into two nature parks, the Lüneburger Heide proper and the Südheide (Southern heath). We initially drove to the Lüneburger Heide nature park where the 2012 photos were taken, only to find every single parking lot literally overrun by tourists (for some reason they were also wearing the most garish parkas imaginable). They’ve also installed parking ticket machines in the meantime. So we said, “Screw all that!” and decided to try the Südheide instead. Cause I’ve been to Südheide before and found it just as pretty as the Lüneburger Heide nature park and a lot quieter.

We finally ended up in an area called Heide am Schillohsberg between the villages of Hermannsburg and Unterlüß. The Heide am Schillohsberg was not just quieter than the massively travelled area between Over- and Niederhaverbeck, we literally didn’t see another human being there. The area was also wilder and a bit less manicured than the Over-/Niederhaverbeck area.

So let’s have some photos: Continue reading

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And still more Hugo and WorldCon Analysis

It’s been three weeks now, since the 2014 Hugos were awarded at LonCon3 and yet we’re still talking about both. Continue reading

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An Interview and some Odds and Ends

First of all, I’ve been interviewed again by fantasy writer Judy Goodwin at My Writerly World. I talk quite a bit about research and the Silencer series.

Over at Pegasus Pulp, I also talk a bit more about the eight hour fiction challenge and link to the results.

Finally, the Speculative Fiction Showcase has been really active these past few days. Heidi, Jessica and I have posted lots of great content such as interviews with Stan Smith and Vincent Trigili and new release spotlights for Warriors by C. Gockel and The Chains of War by Dean F. Wilson. And we’ve got a lot more stuff planned, so keep checking back for new releases, author interviews, guest posts, speculative fiction links and more.

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The Gamora movie, guest-starring the “Guardians of the Galaxy” or Germany discovers the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Back in April, I noted that the publicity campaign for Captain America: The Winter Soldier here in Germany as well as reviews of the film seemed to focus far more on Black Widow than on Captain America, the actual star of the movie.

Back then, I assumed that the phenomenon was due to the fact that it’s kind of hard to sell a guy calling himself Captain America, who was created to fight Nazis in WWII, to German audiences, so a butt-kicking Russian ex-assassin turned superheroine was probably more palatable, particularly when played by Scarlett Johansson.

However, I noticed a similar phenomenon in the media coverage for Guardians of the Galaxy, which premiered in Germany this week. One of the comparatively few TV reports (apparently, covering period dramas of questionable historical accuracy such as some Volker Schlöndorff film about a Nazi general who is ordered to blow up Paris and doesn’t, because it’s so beautiful*, or a Dominik Graf movie about Friedrich Schiller having a threesome with two sisters** are considered more deserving of coverage in many quarters) breathlessly announced Zoe Saldana’s new movie Guardians of the Galaxy, followed by footage of Gamora kicking arse and being awesome, an interview soundbite of Zoe Saldana, the Zoe Saldana baby bump watch, more Gamora being awesome, some team footage and Vin Diesel saying “I am Groot”. All in all, it was certainly an interesting take on the movie.

Now Zoe Saldana is certainly the most famous among the main Guardians actors actually seen on screen (Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel are only heard and not in German, where Rocket Raccoon is dubbed by Fahri Yardim), since nobody here knows Chris Pratt, cause Parks and Recreation does not air in Germany. Indeed a rather good Austrian TV report about Guardians of the Galaxy and the Marvel Cinematic Universe in general (a phenomenon the German language cultural press is only now taking note of) called Chris Pratt “a largely unknown actor”, while the review in my local paper (amazingly the reviewer actually enjoyed the movie) meticulously listed every single supporting part Chris Pratt previously played.

So it certainly makes sense for German reports to focus on Gamora rather than Peter Quill, it’s nonetheless notable that German coverage of two subsequent Marvel movies focussed more on the female leads, both of whom just happen to be tough arsekickers with a shady past, rather than on the male stars. Add in the fact that Luc Besson’s Lucy – which isn’t a Marvel movie, but features Scarlett Johansson kicking arse and coincidentally hints at how awesome a Black Widow solo movie would be – is currently sitting at the top of the German cinema charts and that Maleficent, another female led fantasy film, was also a big success in Germany and I think it’s safe to say that German audiences do like female led action movies and heroines who kick arse.

While on the subject of the much maligned Lucy (yeah, so the scientific premise is nonsense, but then it’s not as if there aren’t plenty of movies full of nonsense science), here is a great post in defence of the movie by urban fantasy writer Kyoko M.

Indeed, the most fascinating thing apart from the Gamora focus is that even the notoriously snobby high-brow cultural press here in Germany completely enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy, as these reviews from Spiegel Online, the Süddeutsche Zeitung (which even detects some social and political criticism in the movie), Die Welt (which doesn’t quite understand the movie, but still believes it’s a masterpiece) and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.***

In fact, a friend just recently noted that she hadn’t heard a single negative opinion about Guardians of the Galaxy anywhere. It seems to be that rare movie everybody seems to enjoy.

Though come to think of it, those high-brow cultural publications that actually lowered themselves to review The Avengers generally enjoyed it as well, as this Spiegel Online review as well as this marvelous review from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung show.

*It’s quite possible that what swayed the otherwise very obedient general was less the beauty of Paris and more the fact that there were better uses for explosives in late 1944 than blowing up a city. Besides, as the host of one of those cultural programs on TV said, that same general had zero qualms about rounding up and deporting Jews earlier.

**It’s doubtful whether Schiller ever really had a threesome with the sisters, all we know is that he wrote letters to both of them. But most certainly, Schiller and the sisters did not engage in a poly relationship in the modern sense.

***I now imagine Marcel Reich-Ranicki and Frank Schirrmacher spinning in their respective graves.

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month: August 2014

Indie Speculative Fiction of the MonthIt’s that time of the month again, time for “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”. And this month, the round-up will even be crossposted to the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a new group blog dedicated to all things speculative fiction.

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 Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have a broad spectrum of titles, featuring science fiction, space opera, epic fantasy, Steampunk, paranormal romance, dystopian fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, urban fantasy, Chinese mythology, Norse mythology, fairytale retellings, zombies, shapeshifters, shamans, witches (lots of witches for some reason), angels and demons, time travel, superpowers, sea adventures and much more. We’ve even got a bonafide Campbell award nominee this month.

This is also one of the most international “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month” round-ups, featuring writers from the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Poland and Thailand.

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:

Justice Calling by Annie BelletJustice Calling by Annie Bellet

Gamer. Nerd. Sorceress.

Jade Crow lives a quiet life running her comic book and game store in Wylde, Idaho. After twenty-five years fleeing from a powerful sorcerer who wants to eat her heart and take her powers, quiet suits her just fine. Surrounded by friends who are even less human than she is, Jade figures she’s finally safe.

As long as she doesn’t use her magic.

When dark powers threaten her friends’ lives, a sexy shape-shifter enforcer shows up. He’s the shifter world’s judge, jury, and executioner rolled into one, and he thinks Jade is to blame. To clear her name, save her friends, and stop the villain, she’ll have to use her wits… and her sorceress powers.

Except Jade knows that as soon as she does, a far deadlier nemesis awaits.

Justice Calling is the first book in The Twenty-Sided Sorceress urban fantasy series.

Geodesic by Morton BlakeGeodesic Episode 1: Fabio by Morton Blake

When Fabio Velazquez arrives on the secretive military base on Io, he knows two things: one, that he’s had his memories erased and modified and two, that he has a secret. Except because of one, he has to piece together from bits of memories what two is.

The portents aren’t good: he’s hated by his fellow soldiers, responsible for “the greatest fuck-up in military history”, traitor and human guinea pig. Yet, he managed to be trusted with a secret so big that the military has almost killed him and still haven’t gotten their hands on it.

His nickname might be Escape Artist, but in the hostile environment of Io there is no way to escape. Or so the military thinks.

Unlocked by K.J. BryenUnlocked by K.J. Bryen

New York, 1985.
Sophia Parks is used to battling demons. But when she is approached by a girl who needs help banishing a demon, Sophia struggles to help her, and must go up against the most powerful demon she’s ever faced. To fail might mean losing everything she loves . . .

This short prequel to “Lokte” (coming in September) delves into Sophia’s past, and incorporates some unlikely characters from the novel.

 

Zombie Flood by Victoria ChampionZombie Flood: Disaster of the Dead by Victoria Champion

A storm of undead is coming to the Louisiana swamps.

In the churning fury of the strong winds and rain of a natural disaster, an unnatural contagion is born. The sickness is carried within the storm surge’s relentlessly advancing tide.

As the first wall of the hurricane assaults the lush swampland, humans and innocent creatures are infected. Their resultant mutation brings with it an insatiable and shocking hunger. The savage herd of monstrosities goes in search of food.

Guided by one-hundred and thirteen mile-per-hour winds at their backs, the gruesome horde slogs towards a small rural town known for its alligator tours.

Stranded by the flooding in Lustre Perle, federal agents fight alongside local Cajuns against the horrifying and deadly invasion, and although they are from different worlds, they must overcome their prejudices, fears, and distrust and rely on each other if they are to survive.

Strikers by Ann ChristyStrikers by Ann Christy

One hundred and twelve years after the fall, the Republic of Texas is built on two foundations: total freedom and total responsibility. A law broken means a strike against the lawbreaker. Five strikes means execution. The only hope for the law breaker is to escape Texas—to go Striker—before justice comes for them.

Sixteen-year-old Karas Quick has never had it easy. The daughter of a Striker and an alcoholic mother, she’s gotten everything she has the hard way — even the strike on her neck. Yet try as Karas might to stay above-board with the authorities, there are some things you just can’t plan for.

Like seeing the face of her long-lost father paraded through the town square in chains.

In the blink of an eye, Karas’s life changes forever. Potential strikes be damned, she has to see her father one last time. What she discovers propels her upon an unimaginable journey, one she can only hope she’ll survive.

Benton, Vol. 2 by Jolie du PréBenton: A Zombie Novel, Volume 2 by Jolie du Pré

Jennifer Benton’s family died in the first wave of zombie attacks. She found friends in a small group of survivors, and she’s fallen in love with Mark, the charismatic young man leading them.

Though the survivors now have a fragile sense of safety, some of Jennifer’s new friends die, and she has a beautiful blonde rival. Jennifer thinks jealousy will bring Mark back.

She’s wrong.

And now everything may be over—for everyone…

Part 2 of the Benton series, following Benton, Volume 1.

Accession by Terah EdunAccession by Terah Edun

Sixteen-year-old Katherine Thompson wasn’t trained to rule a coven. That was her sister – perfect, beautiful Rose. But when a mysterious plane crash kills off the heir presumptive of the Sandersville coven she has no choice.

After stepping in to fill her sister’s shoes, Katherine realizes she didn’t have a clue – faery wars, depressed trolls and angry unicorns are just the beginning.

For centuries, her family has served the high Queens on both sides of the Atlantic but it is a well-known rule that mid-level witches stay away from high-level Queens.

But when Katherine’s youngest cousin vanishes without a trace in the Atlanta court and no one wants to investigate, Katherine decides to step into the darkness on her own. She will soon discover that nothing, especially in a queen’s court, is as it seems.

Half Faerie by Heidi GarrettHalf Faerie by Heidi Garrett

Melia is an eighteen-year-old half-faerie, half-mortal who longs to fly like the full-blood faeries. She also yearns for a life that’s truly her own, which might prove more difficult than sprouting wings. Her faerie mother practices black magic and her mortal father plots to bring war to the enchanted world. No matter how she yearns to distance herself from them, Melia can’t seem to escape their long shadow.

After the half-faerie is accused of being her father’s spy, her best friend advises a trip to the Illustrator. The mysterious woman marks Melia’s forehead with an ink blotch, then claims the indigo stain will call a green-eyed stranger from distant lands to the half-faerie’s aid. Spooked more than comforted, Melia dismisses the woman’s words. Rather, she travels to the mortal world to confront her father.

The fallout from her visit destroys what’s left of their already fractured family. Melia’s mother is unforgiving. The punishment she metes out will leave her middle daughter torn between guilt and ecstasy, challenge the bonds between three sisters, and complicate Melia’s relationship with the green-eyed stranger. The half-faerie is sucked deeper into the vortex of her family’s dark history when her younger sister pursues their parents’ damning legacy. Melia and the green-eyed stranger must stop her–or risk the rise of Faerie’s darkest queen.

Daughter of Light is a spinoff of the 14th century French fairy tale, Melusine. A high fantasy with fairy tale elements, it’s great for readers who enjoy fairy tales retold. The variety of female characters, layered story, and intriguing cosmology make it a great read for young adult and older readers.

The Tree Hugger by Heidi GarrettThe Tree Hugger by Heidi Garrett

Born and raised in the Free Territories, Magnolia Lee Winthrop, prefers the company of trees and nature to spending time with most people. Although she’s not much of a talker, she’s got plenty of strong opinions about life and how it should be lived, just like her mother and grandmother.

After the settlement’s forest farm is burned to the ground, Magnolia’s life can never be the same. To cope with her grief, she’ll have to leave behind everything she’s ever known and loved for a hard journey through a foreign, paved, and abandoned world.

The Tree Hugger is a dystopian retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Dryad.”

Warriors by C. GockelWarriors by C. Gockel

When science meets Chaos, what could go wrong?

Bohdi Patel is keeping the revelation that he is Chaos incarnate a secret, and handling the revelation about as well as one would expect. He’s in a downward spiral: losing his lease, totaling his car, and trying to keep everyone he cares about at arm’s length.

Veterinarian Amy Lewis is wondering what happened to the funny, flirty, curious Bohdi she knew in the land of the Norns. He’s become moody and sometimes cruel. She is definitely glad she didn’t become romantically entangled with him … most of the time.

When tragedy strikes Amy’s beloved mutt Fenrir, and Odin strikes Bohdi’s best friend Steve, they have to work together again. Amy’s knowledge of science, Bohdi’s talents for theft, and both of their survival skills are put to the test. But more than Steve and Fenrir’s lives are at stake. Amy and Bohdi may unlock the key that saves mankind from the gods … or bring about the apocalypse.

This is Part V of the I Bring the Fire series.

A126608-NJL._SL1500_Mr. Ruins by Michael John Grist

In the tsunami-drenched dregs of a ruined future world, ex-Arctic marine Ritry Goligh is a loner with no roots, future, or ambition. He works as a diver of minds in the floating slums beyond the tsunami wall, smoothing language injects into gray matter. He spends his nights in an alcohol-fueled blur of petty violence and sex, until a shadowy figure with an excellent hat drops the corpse of Napoleon at his feet.

This is Mr. Ruins. He offers Ritry a better future, and in the rusted hull of a belly-up cathedral ship, in the abandoned remnants of old-war infrastructure, unveils an awesome truth: the memories of the dead linger on, and can be consumed for strength. Ritry signs on, and with that new strength begins to grow again.

But Mr. Ruins asks a terrible price. In a metaphoric world where memory is magma and consciousness is a chord of seven lost marines battling through the mind’s molten core, Rit must learn to fight for his sanity, and the sanity of every person he loves. Because Mr. Ruins knows them now, and wants them for himself.

From Death by Nigel HenryFrom Death by Nigel Henry

Every year Tobin North and his father make the months-long trek to Miner’s Quarry on behalf of their village. They always return home with a fresh supply of encircling crystals, the one item that can protect humans from the undead demons that swarm outside their doors every night. But this year is different, because this year Tobin and his father were told they aren’t getting a new batch of crystals. To make matters worse, their old supply is running low, which means their village is on borrowed time.

And time’s almost up, because families are starting to die.

This is book 2 in the Demons of Sedona series, following The Healer’s Pact.

High Coven by Mona HannaHigh Coven by Mona Hanna

Ariel is getting used to being a new mother and is excited to see her best friends Hallie and Sean again. She just wants to spend time with them and relax and hear about their wedding. Unfortunately, relaxing is the last thing any of them can do on this visit.

Thrust into a new place, the High Witches are delighted to find the fourth—but the circumstances couldn’t be worse. A group of men are determined to stop them from casting a spell that could change the world, bringing immense joy but also great disaster. The risks of the spell might be beyond their ability to handle.

A great darkness is coming. It will take more than two High Witches to stop it: it will take a coven.

High Coven is the third and final book in the High Witch series, following High Witch and Witch Emerging.

Blood of the Water by Jamie MaltmanBlood of the Water by Jamie Maltman

Fire returned in a blaze of war and destruction.
What will Water bring to the one who finds her?

A slave dreams of freedom for all.
An aristocratic soldier yearns for power.
A sculptress covets revenge.
But the painter she loves urges her to use her Talent for peace.

When those aims collide, new friends join in the desperate race through foreign lands and ancient ruins to uncover knowledge of the mysterious Damoz. What do they want? Can they be stopped?

Blood of the Water (Arts Reborn: Book II) continues the journey of Simon, Elysia and Persei that began in Brush With Darkness.

Ruin by Harry MannersRuin by Harry Manners

Before the End there had been great cities, knowledge, power, bustling billions. All silenced when the vast majority of the world’s population, quite suddenly, vanished.

After forty years, an ominous force is laying waste to the survivors, and famine has struck. Norman Creek is struggling to feed the many mouths of New Canterbury, which clings to life while thousands starve or burn out in the wastes. Yet still they collect books, computers, art, saving all they can. They have a mission: to begin again.

And Norman has a destiny: to lead them, prophesized at birth to bring about the return of civilization. But all he ever wanted was to disappear into the crowd, and turn his back on the legend.
When a barbaric horde sets out to conquer the British Isles, and past misdeeds spell the city’s doom, Norman must overcome self-doubt and mount their final stand, as the last war of mankind begins.

A Rip in Time by Monique MartinA Rip in Time by Monique Martin

An old enemy returns threatening to destroy not just Simon and Elizabeth but the timeline itself. To keep that from happening, they travel back to 1888 London to find Jack the Ripper…and save his life. If he dies, the timeline changes, everything they know and their lives together, will be lost. But they soon discover the only thing harder than saving a monster is finding him.

The Crosses are back in book 7 of the Out of Time Series.

 

Liquid Blue by S.A. MulraneyLiquid Blue by S.A. Mulraney

Part II continues the story of Caeden Llewellyn. With Caeden’s apparent death, his father and best friend investigate what caused the Jupiter mining rig malfunction. Meanwhile, a not-so-dead Caeden is reunited with a long lost relative and discovers the creatures behind a plot that could bring war to Earth’s solar system.

Liquid Blue, Part II is 20,000 words and the second of three parts. Liquid Blue, Part I is here.

 

Spirit Blade by M.A. NillesHunters and Chains by M.A. Nilles

Part 1 of 5

Nadia wants no part of the shevoru, the dark blade that has gained power by possessing the souls of raging half-bloods and monsters she has killed. Since learning the secret of the dagger and the spell that the sorcerers taught her to use, she has freed herself from its influence. She is finally ready to make the journey to rid the world of its evil by using the power of an ancient device.

The Adept leaders desire the power of the dagger to serve their purposes, but the messenger they sent to retrieve it from Nadia is the last person she wants to see…

Part 2 of 5

Nadia wants no part of the shevoru, the dark blade that has gained power by possessing the souls of raging half-bloods and monsters she has killed. Since learning the secret of the dagger and the spell that the sorcerers taught her to use, she has freed herself from its influence. She is finally ready to make the journey to rid the world of its evil by using the power of an ancient device.

When Lord Je’Kaoron is taken captive by an enemy demonlord, Nadia is determined to free him, but she has to free herself first…

Code Burn by Elizabeth Noble DayCode Burn by Elizabeth Noble Day

Everyone in the small, secluded town of Mahogany has a Gift — including absorbing electricity, Knowing the future, putting people to sleep, and causing earthquakes.

Lilliana Cooper, seventeen, is a Fire Wielder. When an ominous red streak appears in the sky, Lilliana’s Gift changes. Instead of releasing fire from her palms, her entire body bursts into flames. Code Burn, a twenty-four hour time period where Gifts are amplified, has begun.

A lantern can end Code Burn and restore Mahogany back to normal — but it is missing.

With people like Belle (who has a job ringing the bells in the bell tower but has no sense of rhythm), Darlene (Lilliana’s grandmother who recently returned after a long absence. The last time Lilliana saw her, a man died in a fire), Boris (an alarm technician who uses hammers to crush alarms — because that’s how you stop an alarm from ringing, right?), and Francis (the shoe salesman who doesn’t wear shoes), Lilliana navigates Code Burn and searches for a way to end it — before it causes Mahogany permanent damage.

Memories from a Different Future by David PandolfeMemories from a Different Future by David Pandolfe

For Nikki, it feels like no time has passed since they rescued Henry’s sister from her abductors. After all, in the in-between realm, time is completely different than for those still “living.” Even though it’s been almost twenty years, only lately has Nikki started crossing between realms again. She’s been checking on Ian—the person they knew as Curtis before he jumped into a new life. Nikki hasn’t admitted it to the others but she’s been curious. Could Ian’s life really be as good as it seems? Can she find the courage herself to try the other realm again despite what happened last time?

When Nikki suddenly starts receiving ghostlike visits from Curtis—all these years since he returned to the physical realm—she can’t imagine how it’s possible. She also realizes it has to mean something serious. Nikki soon learns that, three days from now, an incident on Earth will end Curtis’s new life. Now, Nikki, Henry and Jamie must find a way to alter the outcome of a future event only they know will take place. They’ll also have just minutes to make that happen. Otherwise, Curtis is going to die again, taking with him any hope Nikki and her friends had for starting over.

This is the sequel to Jump When Ready.

Darkmoon by Christine PopeDarkmoon by Christine Pope

The answer to the end lies at the beginning….

One hundred and fifty years ago, a terrible curse descended on the Wilcox clan, dooming generations of women to an early death should they bear a child to the bloodline of Jeremiah Wilcox. Now Angela McAllister is carrying Connor Wilcox’s child, and if she can’t find a way to break the curse, that same doom will fall upon her.

The solution to her dilemma lies somewhere in the past—her own, and that of the woman who cast the curse so many years before. Angela’s quest to find the answers she needs will transform the lives of everyone she knows, Wilcox and McAllister alike, and will forever change everything she has ever believed about herself.

This is Part 3 of the Witches of Cleopatra Hill series, following Darkangel and Darknight.

Terminus Shift by Chris ReherTerminus Shift by Chris Reher

Seth Kada, a deep-cover agent working for the Commonwealth, has tracked a group of rebels to the remote Tayako Orbiter. But before he can seize them, the rebels are captured by a powerful rival faction and spirited away.

Seth manages to re-capture one of the rebels, a subspace navigator named Ciela, and soon realizes that her crew’s origin and purpose are far more pivotal than anyone could have suspected.

Caught up in a violent clash between rebel factions, Seth and Ciela’s divergent loyalties must be put aside to prevent the destruction of a peaceful civilization – and find her people before their ultimate destiny is realized.

Watch Over Me by Alice M. RoelkeWatch Over Me by Alice M. Roelke

On a grasslands world, a hero’s daughter falls for a shape shifter—the one man she can never have.

When a shape-shifter attacks 15-year-old Meri, a mysterious guy named Porse comes to her rescue. He’s also a shape-shifter—the friend of Meri’s hero, the dead freedom-fighter named Balile.

When Porse tells Meri that she’s really Balile’s daughter, and the current ruler wants her dead, it turns her world upside down. Porse brings her to a town hidden from danger in the midst of the grasslands. There she grows up, making friends and enemies and meeting her only living relative.

She also inherits her father’s blue sword—and falls increasingly in love with Porse, the one man she can never have. Consumed by her first love for her rescuer and friend, Meri struggles to find her place in the world, all the time knowing some will always wish to kill her.

Sometimes it seems as though only Porse stands between her and danger, and he’s the most trustworthy person in the world. But is he? Meri would give anything to have him return her feelings, but he claims he doesn’t. Yet he gives off mixed signals.

And will he always be here to protect her like she wants to believe, or will he disappear without a moment’s notice, the way her aunt claims?

The Deviant Underground by Elisabeth RoselandThe Deviant Underground by Elisabeth Roseland

Even with the ability to stop time, you still can run out of it.

Kathryn should be institutionalized or incarcerated.

That’s what happens to deviants—people born with unusual abilities. And if the government knew she can teleport and stop time, she can say good bye to her freedom. Not that her life is all that great anyway. Her inability to control her gifts forces her to keep everyone at a distance. Few friends. No meaningful romantic relationships. Until Susan introduces her to Charge, that is.

When the 6’4” guy with the caramel-colored skin and million-watt smile shows up at her door, she lets her guard down. What she discovers is that her best friend and her new lover have gifts of their own, and there’s an entire underground network of undetected deviants living freely in society. Kathryn’s brought into the fold with open arms, and she’s finally found something she’s never had—a family.

But now, people are disappearing. Some come back weeks later with strange scars, sutured wounds, and missing limbs, with no memory of what happened. Some don’t come back at all.

When Charge becomes the next victim, Kathryn is willing to teleport to the edge of the world to find him, but confronting the mastermind behind the kidnappings puts her life in jeopardy. And when the rescue attempt goes horribly wrong, she wonders if dying might have been a better idea.

Warning: This book contains teleportation, mind control, and sparks that fly in sexy–and possibly deadly–ways.

The Glass Mountain by Jessica RydillThe Glass Mountain by Jessica Rydill

Now aged sixteen, Annat is living in the city of Masalyar and training as an apprentice shaman. Struggling with the pangs of first love and a wish for freedom, she is horrified to see the crows flying over her city. Something she thought destroyed for ever has risen again: a spectre from the past.

When her brother disappears, she and her aunt set out to find out what has become of him. But Annat is caught and imprisoned in the Glass Mountain, a place from legend.

A powerful Magus needs their souls and their father’s heart to cast his greatest spell, to bring a dead man to life. Unless he can be stopped, Annat, her brother and their father will die; and the country will be overthrown.

But there is something hidden in the Mountain that will change their lives. They must fight to protect their own world, and to save another: one so small it can be hidden in a suitcase.

This is the sequel to Children of the Shaman.

Wes and Kit by Hollis ShilohWes and Kit by Hollis Shiloh

Wes has a soft heart—even if it is a gear heart from when he was mechanicalized during the war. Now close to homeless and in desperate straits, he still finds himself taking on a stray dog—and helping out an injured man he stumbles across in an alleyway.

That’s how he meets Kit. A harmless, gentle clock repairman with a heart condition of his own, Kit is in danger…because he’s working on a certain clock.

He hires Wes to protect him until the danger is past…whatever its cause. But they find their feelings for each other are becoming too strong to ignore, despite the danger.

When a chance to solve the mystery presents itself, Wes finds he might just lose the man he’s come to love…if he can’t find Kit in time.

The Fingers of the ColossusThe Fingers of the Colossus by Keith Soares

From the author of The Oasis of Filth comes a collection of ten short stories covering science fiction, fantasy, horror, and revenge. Includes:

  • The Space Between – One in a million odds can seem a lot more dangerous when you’re millions of miles from home.
  • The Last – When you can’t remember your past, do you still have a future?
  • The Vacancy of Dreams – A prequel story in the world of The Oasis of Filth.
  • Black Fire – Of all the mages, Huldrych was, by far, the least respected, and for one simple reason: he was incapable of producing black fire.
  • All That You Know is Lost and Abandoned – An innocent conversation is one way to pass the time, even for those who may not be innocent.
  • Tilting – In the frigid waters off Kodiak, Alaska, a man can lose himself. Or be lost.
  • The Fingers of the Colossus – Failure is not an option for a colonel in the queen’s forces, even when the entire planet may be against him.
  • Time in Time – Some things are never really lost.
  • Have a Seat by the Fire – Angela Vengaza sits in a small house in the middle of nowhere on a mountainside, hoping to hold on for an hour.
  • Walking on the Spot – A grandfather and grandson, like mirrors through time, debate fate before taking an important journey.

The Archer Who Shot Down SunsThe Archer Who Shot Down Suns: Scale Bright Stories by Benjanun Sriduangkaew

A sampler of short stories taking place before and connected to SCALE-BRIGHT in chronological order. Chinese mythology retold from the time of humanity’s creation to contemporary Hong Kong.

“The Crows Her Dragon’s Gate” (first published in BENEATH CEASELESS SKIES, 2013. Ed. Scott H. Andrews). The story of Xihe, the mother of suns, when she was young and the world was new: how she met her husband, lost herself, and found it again.

“Woman of the Sun, Woman of the Moon” (first published in GIGANOTOSAURUS, 2012. Ed. Ann Leckie). Houyi rose in heaven, bow and arrow in hand: the hunt was her joy, the slaying of demons her delight. But most delightful was a serving girl called Chang’e.

“Chang’e Dashes from the Moon” (first published in EXPANDED HORIZONS, 2012. Ed. Dash). Chang’e has been a prisoner on the moon while the world turns and cities rise. For centuries Houyi has looked for a way to free her wife, and now she has found it in a distant grand-niece: a young mortal woman named Julienne.

The Rise of the Fallen by J.J. ThompsonThe Rise of the Fallen by J.J. Thompson

Thirteen year old Christopher Wright was a kid from the streets. When word got out that he could heal with a touch, a gang known as Talon tried to recruit him. When Chris turned them down, the gang attempted to take him by force. On the run, Chris met Judge Hawkes, the head of a mysterious group known as the Angelic Dominion. The judge informed the skeptical teen that he was one of a group of young people who had been born with the souls of angels. They had been sent to Earth to stop the forces of Hell from bringing about the Apocalypse.

To escape Talon, Chris reluctantly accompanied the judge back to his home to learn that he had, in fact, been telling the truth. He met others like himself and discovered that he wasn’t simply the bearer of an angel’s soul. His was the soul of one of the very first archangels: Sariel, brother of Michael and Lucifer.

Doomed to dwell in Purgatory and guard the Gates of Heaven, Sariel is determined to stop his Fallen brother’s forces here on Earth before they can destroy humanity and march on Heaven itself.

This is part 2 of the Angelic Wars series, following Confronting the Fallen.

Admiralette by Andrzej TucholskiAdmiralette – A Swarm of Black Birds by Andrzej Tucholski

Smart and brave Sephira, the Admiral’s daughter, believes that she can handle anything.

No one warned her, however, that a massive mutiny is about to rage across her floating country. Powerful social and political players clash and exploit ancient sea-faring traditions in order to destroy the stability of the multi-cultural Fleet. Will Sephira be able to diffuse this time bomb? Or will the demons of the past catch up with the current events and make things even worse?

In order to save her nation, Sephira embarks on a wind-powered adventure full of ocean breezes, strong sun, and true friendship.

The Chains of War by Dean F. WilsonThe Chains of War by Dean F. Wilson

THE FINAL HOUR. THE FINAL FIGHT. THE FINAL WAR.

The first of Agon’s chains has broken, and the others are straining. It is only a matter of time before he is free, before the world is engulfed in chaos and death.

There are few left to stop him. Most of the gods can only sit and watch in horror from their prison in the heavens, but the resurrection of the father god Corrias gives the people of Iraldas a sliver of hope, a fighting chance.

Yet the memory of Corrias’ failure to defeat Agon in ages past plays heavily on all minds. Many know that it is only the might of the Warrior-god Telm that can defeat the Beast. That god is dead, but his power lives on in his bloodline, in Ifferon and others like him, and they are tasked with waging a final war against the Beast.

Enter the world of Iraldas. Break the Chains of War.

This is the third book in the Children of Telm series, following The Call of Agon and The Road to Rebirth.

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