Foundation travels “Long Ago, Not Far Away” and blows up its own premise

Season 2 of Foundation is currently streaming, so I’m doing episode by episode reviews again. For my takes on previous episodes, go here.

Warning! There will be spoilers under the cut! Continue reading

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Foundation Discovers “The Last Empress”

Season 2 of Foundation is currently streaming, so I’m doing episode by episode reviews again. For my takes on previous episodes, go here.

Warning! There will be spoilers under the cut! Continue reading

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Commercial Break

Before we return to our regularly scheduled Foundation reviews, I have a few things to announce.

For starters, I was over at Galactic Journey yesterday, talking about the heyday of science fiction dime novels and the first stirrings of the horror dime novel boom in West Germany in 1968.

I also have a couple of new and not so new stories out:

One story that’s brand new is “Rest My Weary Bones”, a dark fantasy tale told from the POV of a skeleton warrior forced to serve in the undead army of an evil necromancer, which appeared in the July 2023 issue of Swords and Sorcery Magazine.

For something a little more wholesome (even though it does start on a blood-soaked battlefield), my flash story “A Cry on the Battlefield” has been reprinted in the anthology The Little Cozy Book, edited by Nathaniel Webb of Wyngraf Magazine.

The Little Cozy BookThe anthology also includes cozy fantasy fiction by Gideon Marcus, L. Chan, Amanda Cook, Ian Martinez Cassmeyer, L.D. Whitney, George Jacobs, J. Thomas Howard, Jonathan Olfert, Frederick Sheilira, Neil Willcox, Jo Miles, Sam Lesek, Jenna Hanchey, Miranda Ray, Coby Anthony Rosser, Sheila Massie, Jess Hyslop, Stew Shearer, Ziggy Schutz, Simon Kevin, Jennifer Hudak,Dawn Vogel, Jamey Toner, Gregory Kilcoyne, Nathaniel Webb and Patricia Miller.

You can buy The Little Cozy Book here. There’s also a lovely review by German writer, translator and fan Maike Claußnitzer here.

Finally, here are some cozy photos of my personal copy of the anthology, because books and toys are a great match:

Three friendly Matryoshka dolls cluster around The Little Cozy Book

These friendly Matryoshka dolls are big fans of The Little Cozy Book.

The Little Cozy Book with hedgehog and badger

Cuddly woodland animals sniff out The Little Cozy Book.

Stuffed pig with The Little Cozy Book

This little piggy reads “The Little Cozy Book”

Duncan and Evil-Lyn with The Little Cozy Book

Duncan and Evil-Lyn are about to get cozy.

Finally, I also have a story out in the anthology Simultaneous Times Volume 3, edited by Jean-Paul Garnier and presented by Space Cowboy Books. My story is called “We need to talk…” and deals with the relationship problems faced by bug-eyed monsters and the human women they tend to embrace on the covers of old science fiction pulps.

Simultaneous Times Volume 3

The anthology also includes stories by Jonathan Nevair, F.J. Bergmann, Brent A. Harris, Gideon Marcus, A.C. Wise, Tara Campbell, David Brin, Robin Rose Graves, Renan Bernardo, Christopher Ruocchio, Toshiya Kamei, Todd Sullivan, Susan Rukeyser, Ai Jiang and Michael Butterworth, so check it out.

You can buy your copy here. There’s also a book trailer on YouTube.

Finally, because it’s fun, here is Skeletor posing with my contributor copies:

Skeletor poses with contributor copies of Simultaneous Times Volume 3.

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Some Comments on the 2023 Dragon Award Winners

The winners of the 2023 Dragons Awards were announced today at Dragon Con in Atlanta, Georgia. The full list of winners may be found here.

Since it seems I’m committed/cursed to cover the Dragon Awards – coverage of previous years may be found here – let’s delve right into the categories.

The 2023 Dragon Award for Best Science Fiction Novel goes to The Icarus Plot by Timothy Zahn. This win was a bit of a surprise, because it was easily the most obscure novel in this category (and File 770 notes that it has the lowest number of Goodreads ratings in the category). And while Timothy Zahn is certainly a popular author, he is best known for his Star Wars work these days, including creating Grand Admiral Thrawn who is about to make his debut in live action. However, Dragon Con is mainly a media con, so Timothy Zahn’s Star Wars work may have given him more name recognition among casual voters. And The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, easily the most popular novel in this category, does lean more towards horror than science fiction. Plus, Baen Books, which published The Icarus Plot, traditionally has a strong presence at Dragon Con and Zahn was there in person to accept his award.

The winner of the 2023 Dragon Award for Best Fantasy Novel is Witch King by Martha Wells.  This is an excellent winner and was also my personal choice. I’m a bit surprised that the much lauded Babel by R.F. Kuang didn’t win, but then Witch King came out in May 2023 and may simply have been clearer in people’s memories than Babel, which came out more than a year ago.

The 2023 Dragon Award for Best Young Adult and Middle Grade Novel goes to The Golden Enclaves by Naomi Novik. This wasn’t my choice, since I don’t particularly care for the Scholomance series. However, the series is very popular and both The Golden Enclaves and the entire series are Hugo/Lodestar finalists this year. The fact that The Golden Enclaves won in the Young Adult category also reinforces that a lot of readers consider the Scholomance series YA, even though others vehemently disagree.

The winner of the 2023 Dragon Award for Best Alternate History Novel is Lost In Time by A.G. Riddle. This wasn’t my choice, but the win isn’t very surprising, since A.G. Riddle is very popular and easily the best known author in this most obscure of Dragon Award categories.

The 2023 Dragon Award for Best Horror Novel goes to A House With Good Bones by T. Kingfisher. This was also my choice and is a very worthy winner IMO.

The winner of the 2023 Dragon Award for Best Illustrative Cover is Kurt Miller’s cover for Tower of Silence by Larry Correia, which can be seen here sans typography. Now I wasn’t wowed by any of the finalists in this category and IMO the Tower of Silence cover is one of the weakest in this category. I guess it won more because Larry Correia is a popular author with the Dragon Awards crowd than on its own merits.

The 2023 Dragon Award for Best Comic Book or Graphic Novel goes to Dune: House Harkonnen by Brian Herbert, Kevin J Anderson and Michael Shelfer. The popularity of the Dune graphic novels continues to surprise me, considering that another Dune graphic novel also won in this category last year and that yet another Dune graphic novel is also on the Hugo ballot this year. Of course, it’s possible that the Dune graphic novels are actually good – I haven’t read any of them.

The winner of the 2023 Dragon Award for Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series is The Sandman. I have to admit that this surprised me a little, for while The Sandman comic was extremely popular in its day, the TV series seemed to get less attention than most of the other finalists in this category. But then, the Star Wars and Star Trek fan votes were split between Andor and The Mandalorian and Strange New Worlds and Picard respectively, which may well be why The Sandman was able to triumph.

The 2023 Dragon Award for Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie goes to Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. This is one win that makes me very happy, because Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is a fun movie and finally a good Dungeons & Dragons movie. It’s also a movie almost everybody who actually watched it seemed to like, though it’s apparently considered a box office failure, because it was flattened by the Super Mario Bros Movie, which came out only a week later. Something similar happened to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, another movie almost everybody who actually watched it seemed to like, but which was squashed at the box office by the juggernaut that is Barbie. Plus, it’s great that something with “dragon” in the title has finally won a Dragon Award. It’s notable that after winning every award in the multiverse, Everything Everywhere All At Once failed to take home a Dragon Award, though I’m sure the Daniels will comfort themselves by looking at their Oscars, Golden Globes, BAFTAs and every other award Everything Everywhere All At Once won.

The winner of the 2023 Dragon Award for Best Digital Game is The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. This isn’t a huge surprise, because Tears of the Kingdom got a huge amount of buzz and also generally good reviews. I’m also happy that that Harry Potter game did not win.

The 2023 Dragon Award for Best Tabletop Game goes to Magic the Gathering: The Lord of the Rings. Again, this isn’t a very surprising win, because Magic the Gathering has won in the Best Miniature/Collectible Card/Roleplaying Game category of the Dragons five times in eight years now. Maybe they should just rename the category “Best Magic the Gathering Set”.

A couple of other awards were handed out at Dragon Con as well, so here is a brief rundown: The 2023 Hank Reinhart Fandom Award goes to Amanda Makepeace. The 2023 Julie Award, named in honour of Julius Schwartz, goes to Marty Krofft, one half of the Krofft Brothers TV producer duo behind many popular children’s shows. The 2023 Eugie Foster Memorial Award goes to “Quandary Aminu vs The Butterfly Man” by Rich Larson, which can be read here, and the 2023 Mike Resnick Memorial Award goes to the “For the Great and Immortal” by South African writer Daniel Burnbridge. As far as I can tell, all of these seem to be good and solid choices.

In general, the Dragon Awards are continuing on their way towards becoming what they were initially conceived to be, an award for broadly popular SFF works with big fanbases. Also, this is the first year as far as I remember that women outnumber the male winners in the five novel categories with three women and two men winning. Considering that the Dragon Awards have skewed heavily white and male since their inception, this is progress, though the list of winners is still very white.

Camestros Felapton also weighs in on the 2023 Dragon Award winners here.

ETA: Doris V. Sutherland weighs in on the 2023 Dragon Award winners at Women Write About Comics.

Still, eight years into the award, the Dragons have largely consolidated themselves and become what they were intended to be.

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First Monday Free Fiction: “The Mermaid of Foghorn Point”

The Mermaid of Foghorn PointWelcome to the September 2023 edition of First Monday Free Fiction. There was no August edition, because I forgot.

To recap, inspired by Kristine Kathryn Rusch who posts a free short story every week on her blog, I’ll post a free story on the first Monday of every month. At the end of the month, I’ll take the story down and post another.

This month’s free story is The Mermaid of Foghorn Point, a story in my Hallowind Cove series. I found myself in Bremerhaven this week and so I felt like posting a maritime story this month.

So follow Paul MacQuarie and Rachel Hammersmith, as they meet…

The Mermaid of Foghorn Point

It was what passed for a pleasant winter evening in the little seaside town of Hallowind Cove, known far and wide as the Harbour of the Weird. The fog that enveloped the town eleven months a year was light tonight, the banks looking more like a bridal veil than a thick woollen blanket.

Paul MacQuarie and Rachel Hammersmith, both relative newcomers to the town, strolled along the little harbour hand in hand. Last year, Paul had inherited a house he didn’t particularly want from a deceased uncle he’d barely known. As for Rachel, she’d first visited Hallowind Cove on one of the rare clear and sunny days and promptly fell in love with a little bakery on Gloomland Street. So she’d bought the bakery, only to find out what the other eleven months in Hallowind Cove were like. In spite of the fog and the general weirdness, both Rachel and Paul had stayed and even bonded over their shared experiences.

Tonight, they were headed for The Croaking Foghorn, a harbourside pub that always offered fresh seafood and good conversation. Okay, so the conversation at The Croaking Foghorn was mostly limited to Ian Rayburn, the talkative barkeeper, and Old Hank, a drunkard who had permanently installed himself on the second barstool from the left. But the seafood — well, that truly was exceptional.

A flicker of movement on the otherwise deserted street attracted Paul’s attention. A shiver ran down his spine, for on particularly foggy nights, a vengeful zombie — pardon, revenant — who wanted Paul dead for a crime committed by one of his ancestors, prowled the docks. Paul’s first encounter with the revenant had been a close shave and the last thing he needed was a repeat of that particular incident.

About the second last thing Paul needed was for Rachel to find out that one of his ancestors had been a ruthless killer and that his name was at the top of the most wanted list of a vengeful zombie as a result. Cause there were some things you really didn’t want to reveal on the first date.

The flicker of movement turned into a flutter of wings. A second later, a raven settled down on one of the bollards that lined the harbour.

Paul relaxed. “Oh, it’s you, Hugo. You just about scared me to death.”

Rachel turned to the raven and smiled. “How is it going, Hugo?”

Although he was a bird, Hugo was one of Hallowind Cove’s most famous or rather infamous residents. For unlike other ravens, Hugo could talk — well, sort of. At any rate, his croaking sounded very much like talking. He was also a veritable Cassandra and inevitably uttered dark warnings. Much of the time, they were even true.

“Tu-urn a-round,” Hugo croaked, “Go home.”

“Oh please, Hugo,” Paul said, “We’re just having dinner at The Croaking Foghorn. And besides, the fog isn’t very thick tonight. No danger that he’ll be there.”

“No danger that who’ll be there?” Rachel wanted to know.

Paul felt the blood rush to his cheeks and wondered if he could blame it on the cold wind that blew along the quay. “Just a re… resident of sorts who doesn’t like me. He’s sometimes on the docks, when the fog is particularly thick. But tonight he is at home or should be.”

If vengeful zombies actually had a home, that was.

“Tu-urn a-round,” Hugo repeated, “Go home.”

He fixed Paul and Rachel with eerily glittering eyes.

“No fish to-day,” he croaked.

Rachel shook her head. “Now that makes hardly any sense at all. As usual.”

“Wa-arned you,” Hugo croaked. He took off and fluttered ahead, only to settle on another bollard further down the street.

“Te-ell her,” he croaked and nodded at Paul.

Paul sighed. “Just shut up, Hugo,” he said good-naturedly.

After all, he had a date tonight, the first since coming to Hallowind Cove, and he wasn’t going to let anyone ruin it, least of all a raven with delusions of clairvoyance.

Hugo did indeed shut up. And up ahead, the lights of The Croaking Foghorn were coalescing from the mist, a beacon in the gloomy night.


Paul and Rachel reached the pub without any further interruption, whether by croaking ravens or vengeful zombies. Gallantly, Paul held open the door to let Rachel enter.

Behind the bar, Ian, the landlord, beamed. “Evening, Paul. And Miss Hammersmith, what a pleasant surprise!”

On the second barstool from the left, Old Hank briefly looked up. “Evening,” he mumbled, before contemplating his beer again.

There was another patron at The Croaking Foghorn tonight, Eddie Bramwell, a local fisherman and captain of a boat forebodingly named The Damned Privateer. He looked pale and visibly shaken. His hands were clutching a mug full of grog.

Paul briefly wondered what might have happened to upset Eddie so. But then, this was Hallowind Cove and weird things happened on a regular basis here. And besides, Paul had other things on his mind tonight. Such as his date with Rachel.

So he headed for a table in the corner, even pulling out the chair for Rachel.

“What do you want?” Ian asked from behind the bar, “The usual?”

“A beer for me and…” Paul shot a questioning glance at Rachel.

“…a glass of dry white for me, please,” Rachel supplied.

“…and the catch of the day for both of us,” Paul finished.

Ian suddenly became very urgently interested in a glass he was polishing. “Ah, well, there is a problem,” he admitted.

“What problem?”

“You can have all the wine and beer you want,” Ian replied, “But, well… you can’t have the catch of the day.”

Paul sighed. Why tonight of all the evenings he’d spent in this pub?

“And why not?”

“Cause there is no catch of the day,” Ian replied, an edge of annoyance in his voice.

“Nope, there isn’t,” Old Hank echoed.

Paul was about at the end of his patience now. “And why, pray tell, is there no catch of the day?”

“You’d best ask Eddie about that,” Ian replied and shot a telling glance at Eddie Bramwell, who was still clutching his grog, as if his life depended on it, “After all, he’s the one who came back empty-handed from his fishing haul today.”

“Empty-handed?” Rachel repeated, “You mean you didn’t catch anything? At all?”

It was Old Hank who answered. “Aye. Eddie didn’t catch nothing today, not even a single herring.”

“And he still won’t tell us why,” Ian added, shooting another sharp look at Eddie.

“Cause you wouldn’t believe me anyway, that’s why,” Eddie said. His hands were clutching the mug of grog so hard that his knuckles had turned white, but so far he hadn’t taken a single sip.

“Try us,” Rachel said encouragingly.

“This is Hallowind Cove, after all,” Paul added, “We believe a lot of stories that other folks won’t.”

“So what are you waiting for?” Ian said, “After all, you can’t just come back with no fish and no explanation either.”

“All right,” Eddie finally relented, “But I’m warning you, it is the darndest story.”

“Even stranger than the one about the disembodied arm?” Ian asked.

“Aye, much stranger,” Eddie replied. He lifted his mug and took a gulp of grog, as if to fortify himself for his tale.

“So this morning, the Privateer was out fishing, as always. We were just off Foghorn Point, hoping for a good haul of cod and haddock and mackerel. It was a fine morning. Bit of fog, but then that’s normal…”

“Aye, it is,” Old Hank said and took a gulp of his own drink.

Ian rounded the bar, a glass of beer for Paul in the one hand and a glass of white wine for Rachel in the other. He brought the drinks to their table and set them down, before returning to his post behind the bar, as Eddie continued his tale.

“We had the nets out and were hoping for a good haul, when suddenly, one of the nets began to twitch like mad. So we reeled it in, or rather we tried. Cause the net, you see, it just wouldn’t budge. Almost as if it was stuck…”

“Let me guess, the point of his tale is that The Damned Privateer lost her net and that’s why there’s no fish,” Rachel whispered to Paul and took a sip of her wine.

“And then it became a battle, just me and the crew against the elements. The harder we reeled, the more whatever was inside the net tugged and tried to get away. I was getting real excited by this point, cause I thought we’d caught something really good. Maybe a shark or a swarm of bluefish or even a swarm of bluefin tuna…”

Paul privately wished that Eddie really had caught a bluefin tuna or even a whole swarm of them. Cause that would have meant that he and Rachel could have had tuna steaks tonight instead of just a drink.

“We reeled and reeled and then we finally managed to haul the net aboard,” Eddie continued, “And then we saw it. A fishtail — biggest I ever saw — covered over and over in green and blue and silver scales. And I thought, ‘Damn, we haven’t just caught a bluefin tuna, we’ve just caught the biggest bluefin tuna known to mankind. Guinness Book of Records, here I come.’ So I walked around the net to take a closer look at our record-shattering catch. And then my heart just about stopped.”

Eddie took another gulp of rum.

“For there, entangled in my net, was a woman. And not just any woman, but the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. Her hair was like gold, her skin like marble. She was naked as God had made her and her… uhm, well, you know…”

Eddie made an eloquent gesture.

“It’s all right,” Rachel said, “You can say ‘boobs’. I assure you, my delicate ladylike constitution can handle the word.”

“Well, they were perfect at any rate. Like two mounds of pudding with a cherry on top.”

“And that…” Rachel whispered to Paul, “…is a mental image I really don’t need.”

“She didn’t move,” Eddie continued, “She just lay there, her body still, her eyes closed. So I bent down to check her pulse and see if she was still alive…”

“I bet you were only too eager to do CPR,” Rachel remarked.

“Of course, Miss,” Eddie said, “I’m a sailor, after all, from a long line of sailors. We all know the importance of rescuing the shipwrecked. Unlike the wreckers and their offspring…”

Eddie turned around to shoot Paul a telling glance. Paul gave him a dirty look in response.

“Anyway, I bent down to check her pulse. Her skin was cold to the touch, like I was touching a fish. And then I saw it. Underneath that golden hair, she had gills on her neck…”

Eddie made a dramatic pause.

“So I looked at her, really looked at her…”

“Rather than at her boobs,” Rachel mumbled under her breath.

“…and I noticed that she had no legs. Just as the giant bluefin tuna I’d caught had no head.”

“So you caught a double amputee with gills on her neck and a headless monster fish,” Ian said, “Well, that’s certainly some catch.”

Eddie shot him a dirty look. “No, idiot, I caught a mermaid. A bona-fide mermaid. Cross my heart and everything.”

“A mermaid,” Hank exclaimed, “There ain’t been a mermaid caught in these waters since Jedediah MacQuarie, the ancestor of our Paul here, caught one in 1876. He had it stuffed and mounted…”

Paul sighed. “Of course, he had.”

And given his luck, the descendants of that mermaid were probably out for his blood as well.

“You can still see it in the Hallowind Cove Museum to this day,” Hank said.

“That old thing?” Rachel exclaimed, “Oh please, you know that’s just the top half of a department store mannequin mounted onto a fish tail.”

“Well, this one was real,” Eddie said and took another gulp of grog, “As real as you and me and Ian and Hank and Paul. Cross my heart and swear to die.”

“So what did you do?” Rachel wanted to know, “You didn’t have it stuffed and mounted, did you?”

Eddie was taken aback. “Course not. After all, I’m not a villain like Old Jedediah MacQuarie, may he roast in hell like a spitted pig. So I did the only thing I could do. I freed her from the net and threw her overboard.”

Eddie drained the rest of his grog.

“Her body sank beneath the waves and for a moment I wondered whether she was dead after all, mermaid or not. But then there was a ripple in the water. And then she suddenly bopped back up — or at least, the part of her that was a gorgeous woman did. She smiled and waved at me and then she dove back beneath the waves and was gone.”

“So…” Ian leant across the bar. “…that’s a nice story, Eddie. But it still doesn’t explain why you didn’t bring back any fish today.”

“Course, it does,” Old Hank piped in, “It explains everything. Cause Eddie here turned around right away and headed back for the harbour, didn’t you?”

Eddie nodded. “Aye, I did.”

“Cause you see, to catch a mermaid means bad luck, even if you let her go, like Eddie here did,” Hank continued, “Jedediah MacQuarie, may he rot in his grave, died not a week after he caught the mermaid, when the revenant finally got him.”

“Oh please, he didn’t catch a mermaid,” Rachel countered, “He created a fake that was just convincing enough for a small town museum in the late nineteenth century.”

“Be that as it may, he still died less than a week thereafter,” Hank said darkly.

“And I’m sure absolutely no one was sorry to see him go,” Paul thought to himself.

Hank lifted his glass to no one in particular. “And that was the end of Jedediah MacQuarie, may the worms eat his carcass.” Belatedly, he remembered that Paul was present and added a quick and not particularly sincere “Sorry.”

“Uhm, Paul, the fog out there is getting thicker,” Ian said from behind the bar, “So you’ll probably want to go home, especially since I have no fish for you anyway. Eddie had better leave, too, cause his great-great grandfather used to sail with Jedediah MacQuarie…” Ian shot a sharp look at Eddie. “…even if he likes to forget that inconvenient fact at times.”

“Yeah, screw you, too, Ian,” Eddie grumbled and got up, “It’s easy for you being all smug, just cause your great-great-grandfather happened to be the sheriff back in the day.”

He downed the rest of his grog in one gulp and staggered out of the pub.

Paul nodded at Ian and finished his beer. “Thanks for the warning, pal.”

Ian grinned. “De nada. Miss Hammersmith can of course stay here, if she wants to. We may have no fish today, but we still have plenty of wine.”

Rachel shook her head and downed the last of her wine. “No, it’s all right. I have to get up early tomorrow anyway. After all, I have a bakery to run.”


Not long thereafter, Paul and Rachel were walking along the docks again, arm in arm. The fog was getting thicker and Paul watched it warily, waiting for the tell-tale shamble of the revenant and his hissing about death and murder and the Mary Durban.

But so far, all he spotted was Hugo, the raven, still sitting on a bollard, silent for once.

“So, that was quite the story,” Rachel said, “Okay, so we didn’t get anything to eat, but Eddie dished up some truly fascinating sailor’s yarn instead.”

“So you don’t think his story is true?” Paul asked.

“Oh, I’m sure Eddie believes it’s true,” Rachel said, “I just don’t think he’s a very reliable narrator. So what about you? Do you believe him?”

Paul walked on in silence for a moment or two. “I’m not sure,” he finally admitted, “Okay, so it is a preposterous story. On the other hand, this is Hallowind Cove, Harbour of the Weird. Strange things do happen here. I’ve seen some of them myself. So have you.”

Rachel laughed, a sound not unlike the silver bell door chime of her bakery. “Yes, the Krampus. That was really something and I still have no idea what actually happened there or if I didn’t imagine the whole thing after all.”

“In that case, we both just happened to imagine the exact same thing. After all, I saw him, too.”

Rachel flashed him a pretty smile. “Yes, you did.” She paused. “But there’s still a difference between the Krampus and a mermaid. And I’m not willing to buy any old Hallowind Cove yarn, just because one strange story happens to be true.”

“It’s not just the Krampus story that turned out to be true,” Paul said, keeping a worried eye on the fog, which was indeed getting thicker by the minute, “At least one other story is true as well.”

“That’s another thing,” Rachel said, “All those telling looks and dark hints they gave you. What was that all about?”

“Well…” Paul hedged.

“Te-ell her,” Hugo croaked.

So Paul took a deep breath. “Well, it seems that my ancestor, Jedediah MacQuarie, may something really unpleasant happen to him wherever he is now, was apparently the worst villain Hallowind Cove had ever seen…”

“Really? I thought Jonathan Switchback, the serial killer who lived on Gloomland Street, was the worst villain this town had ever seen. And the slave-holding Beauregards and Zachariah Grimm, the town hangman, were pretty nasty pieces of work, too.”

“Well, maybe Jedediah was just the second worst villain then,” Paul said, “But he was one really, really bad guy at any rate. Turns out he was the leader of the wreckers, who set false lights on the cliffs to lure ships to their doom and then killed any survivors to salvage cargo. And apparently, Jedediah either stuffed and mounted mermaids, too, or at least created some very convincing forgeries.”

“Trust me, the fake mermaid at the Hallowind Cove Museum is not even remotely convincing,” Rachel said.

“Anyway — uhm — my ancestor Jedediah, whom I didn’t even know about until last year, was a really horrible person. Lots of people hated him.”

“I could see that,” Rachel remarked.

“And since this is Hallowind Cove, some of those people — people in the loosest sense of the word — are still out to get me more than one hundred and forty years later. Like the revenant, a zombified sea captain, who blames Jedediah for killing him and his crew, probably with very good reason, too. And this revenant prowls the docks on particularly foggy nights. He’d tried to kill me before and…”

Paul cast a worried look at the sea, where a thick bank of fog was building.

“…well, if I stay here any longer, he’ll probably try again.”

“We should probably leave then,” Rachel said, “Cause I’m hungry and not really in the mood for fighting zombies tonight.”

“So… you don’t mind?” Paul wanted to know.

“Of course not,” Rachel said, genuinely taken aback, “Crap, did you think I would dump you, just because your ancestor was a bad person who also managed to sic a pissed off zombie sea captain on you?”

She stopped and looked right at Paul, looked him in the eye.

“Everybody’s ancestors did bad things, though not everybody has an angry zombie and a fake mermaid to remind them of that fact. But what Jedediah MacQuarie did doesn’t matter. Cause you are not him.”

Rachel smiled and pressed a quick kiss onto Paul’s lips.

“And now come on. I still have some leftover cupcakes at the bakery and I think we’re both hungry. And then you can tell me all about your encounter with the bloodthirsty zombie sea captain.”

Hand in hand, they walked away, back towards the safety of the town.

“Aww, young lo-ve,” Hugo croaked with a heartfelt sigh.

The End


That’s it for this month’s edition of First Monday Free Fiction. Check back next month, when a new free story will be posted.

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Foundation Experiences “A Necessary Death”

Season 2 of Foundation is currently streaming, so I’m doing episode by episode reviews again. For my takes on previous episodes, go here.

Warning! There will be spoilers under the cut! Continue reading

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for August 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 July books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have urban fantasy, sword and sorcery, paranormal mystery, space opera, military science fiction, YA science fiction, Steampunk, Dieselpunk, folk horror, regular horror, vampires, zombies, aliens, starships, magical swords, feminist monsters, puppets living in appartment walls, crime-busting witches and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a group blog run by Jessica Rydill and myself, which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things speculative fiction several times per week.

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:

Servant of a Pale Sword by Tim AkersServant of a Pale Sword by Tim Akers:

A lone pilgrim travels to the Temple of Absolution to free himself from a great sin. But when the priests of the temple cut too deep, Lohit Maast is left with no memory of who is or what burden he sought to escape. Among his things is a strange and powerful sword, its blade forge from materea, the very bones of the world. Is he a thief? An assassin? The hero of some great campaign? Or is he something far more dangerous…



Constant Sorrow by J.N. Chaney and Terry MaggertConstant Sorrow by J.N. Chaney and Terry Maggert

Humans have been in the stars far longer than Van originally thought, and they’ve been busy.

But not every visitor to or from Earth has good intentions, and the Peacemakers are faced with an uncomfortable reality. The Earth is about to meet aliens. Some of the aliens are bringing goods to trade. And among those items—are weapons.

When a secret cabal of humans who want to exploit the Earth is revealed, Van has to decide how and where to fight this threat. Along the way, he reveals a secret history that began in the Great War—and ends with mass chaos on his home planet.

Van won’t let that happen—at least not without a fight, and to hold back the gears of war, he’s going to need a lot of help. With Torina at his side, the crew faces a decision that will change the future of the stars themselves, and challenge the Guild, the Earth, and the Equal Grasp as the universe gets smaller with each contact between humans and aliens.

How can Van manage the clash, save earth, and deliver peace?

If he can, what will it cost him?

I Found Puppets Living In My Apartment Walls by Ben FarthingI Found Puppets Living In My Apartment Walls by Ben Farthing:

Can you tell me how to get… out alive?

Johnny awakes. A puppet looms over his bed.

He recognizes the furry monster: Grandpa was its puppeteer on the children’s television show R-City Street. But Grandpa went missing a year ago. He disappeared from this very apartment building, which was converted from the old R-City Street studio.

Desperate to see Grandpa again, Johnny follows the puppet inside the building’s walls, ever deeper into a puppet-infested labyrinth…

I Found Puppets Living In My Apartment Walls is a horror tale from the “darkly inventive” purveyor of uncanny places and wondrous evils, Ben Farthing.

Galaxy Unknown by M.R, ForbesGalaxy Unknown by M.R. Forbes:

Two hundred years ago, the generation starship Pathfinder fled a war-torn Earth, never to be heard from again. Until now…

Captain Caleb Card and his crew are on a mission to investigate a transmission believed to be from the lost ship. Ambushed upon arrival, they immediately fear the worst. But the beacon isn’t only active, it’s on the move, and where it leads will change everything they thought they knew about the universe. Cast into a distant galaxy brimming with unknown dangers, they’ll need to adapt quickly if they want to survive long enough to help the missing colonists.

Hextraordinary Circumstances by Lily Harper HartHextraordinary Circumstances by Lily Harper Hart:

Vampires are taking over the French Quarter.

Ofelia Archer was hoping for a break, a stretch of quiet time to enjoy the opening of her brother’s new bar, but the sight of vampires walking the rooftops one evening, tracking her, makes her wary. Then, the next morning, when a body is dropped in front of a famous vampire house, things in the Quarter take a turn.

Ofelia’s dealt with vampires before, but there’s something different about this fang gang. She’s confused enough to wonder: Are they really dealing with vampires, or something else entirely?

Zach Sully, Ofelia’s fiancé and a local police detective, starts digging. It seems there’s more than one dead body afoot…and possibly a conspiracy to hide multiple deaths.

Ofelia’s team is prepared to figure out the truth, even if it means putting themselves in danger to do it. When the new enemy focuses on her father Oscar, however, Ofelia goes on the offensive.

The French Quarter is a place where things frequently go bump in the night. This fight is about to get bloody, however.

In more ways than one.

Beast Mom by Kim ImasBeast Mom by Kim Imas:

An Oregon mom is about to lose her $#!t.
It might be what the government’s been waiting for.

On the outside, Harriet “Harry” Lime is a typical American mom. But after years of packing all the lunches and picking up all the socks, she’s become a bit…off on the inside. And after stumbling upon the offensive new statue at her daughter’s school, she gets unusually angry and turns into a gigantic monster.

Now she’ll have to figure out why that keeps happening-and why some mysterious uniformed men have begun lurking around town-all while keeping up with the grocery shopping, the carpool, and all those mother@#!&ing socks.

As soon as Harriet discovers that other local women are undergoing their own amazing transformations, she faces the sudden danger of being ripped away from everyone and everything she loves. Still, she’s begun to wonder: How much of her old life-with its surplus of cleaning, cooking, and monthly cramping-does she want to hold on to, anyway?

Medusa Falling by G.S. JennsenMedusa Falling by G.S. Jennsen:

*A stand-alone adventure set in the Amaranthe universe*

“Can I ask where we’re going?”
“Someplace safe…as safe as anywhere on this broken, fallen world can be.”
A first contact encounter isn’t supposed to kick off with a dead body.
Ambassador Marlee Marano has been dispatched to Belarria as part of a Concord initiative to meet new species and build alliances. But when an assassin murders her counterpart in front of her eyes and takes her hostage, she is plunged into an alien world on the brink of collapse.

With no way to contact Concord or get offworld, Marlee’s only allies may be a shadowy band of rebels with a questionable agenda steeped in government conspiracies, mysterious genetic experiments and bloody historical grievances that threaten to boil over. The rightness of their cause is the least of her concerns, though, for she finds herself wanted for murder and hunted by all sides.

Medusa Falling is a heart-pumping sci-fi adventure that will take you on a roller-coaster ride of twists and turns as Marlee races to uncover the secrets and lies of a captivating but deadly alien culture and find a way home.

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

Mystic Caravan has hit Texas, and things are supposed to be quiet in Austin. The only thing of note in a city that praises itself for being weird is the nest of vampires that rules the town.

They’re not the ones wreaking havoc this time, however.

Poet Parker knows something is up when a walk near the river results in an attack from a manic man with an ax. When he disappears just as quickly as he appeared, however, she knows something magical is afoot.

It seems Austin is trapped in the clutches of a bored being, and her way of entertaining herself includes bringing urban legends to life…and unleashing them on the city.

Poet has fought every type of magic imaginable, but this one leaves her flummoxed. It’s almost as if she’s dealing with a child mentally. Magically, however, she’s dealing with a monster.

Urban legends aren’t the only thing putting Austin in an uproar. The visiting loas—both of whom are there for Poet—are also drawing attention…and from all the wrong people.

Some magics are too strong to fight. Poet is not the sort of hero who can turn her back on people in need, however. Even if it means putting herself at risk to save them.

Poet has new magic at her disposal. Now she has to learn how to use it…or they will all perish.

It’s a fight to the finish, and who will come out on the other side is anybody’s guess.

The Lioness and the Rat Queen by Noah LemelsonThe Lioness and the Rat Queen by Noah Lemelson:

A city burning…
A murderous tycoon on the run…
And three vigilantes out for revenge…

Marcel never thought his investigations would lead to this; his once-friend Lazarus Roache turned slaver and cruel puppet master. For the good of Huile, and to salve his conscience, Marcel must take Roache down, even if that means following him into the desolate and savage reaches of the Wastes.

Yet the tycoon is not the only Wastefolk with a past with Marcel. To find the tycoon Marcel must break hardtack with an old enemy, a disgraced imperial general who he had once tried to kill, and is more than eager to return the favor. Yet she is not the greatest threat in the Wastes, for there is also a bounty hunter on his trail, the mysterious Queen of Rats, who somehow seems to know Marcel’s every dark secret.

Hyvilma by Gideon MarcusHyvilma by Gideon Marcus:

A damaged ship, a dying shipmate–can she save them both?

Under attack! The flight back to Hyvilma should have been the easy part for the crew of the Majera–until a deadly ambush by pirates sends them reeling through hyperspace. Now getting to the planet in time is the only way Captain Kitra Yilmaz can save her dying friend.

But landing at Hyvilma may be impossible: war has broken out on the Frontier.

An Unholy Triquetra: Celtic Fairy Tales</em> by Jason Parent, William Meikle and Curtis M. LawsonAn Unholy Triquetra: Celtic Fairy Tales by Jason Parent, William Meikle and Curtis M. Lawson:

Three unique voices in today’s horror bring you new takes on an old power that threatens to reshape our world. Celtic legends are reborn within these pages, with fresh stories guaranteed to spark nightmares in the vein of Grimm’s pre-Disneyfied fairy tales.

A Knot Within A Knot by Jason Parent: A man survives a plane crash only to find himself in darker circumstances, with a winter storm on the horizon and an orphaned child in tow. An elderly woman faces off against a god of night and his steed from the confines of her airplane seat, while another hides from night and storm in the hope of a new dawn. Unbeknownst to them, their fates are linked and dependent upon the next two tales.

Bound in the Valley of Balor by Curtis M. Lawson: After surviving a plane crash, a corrupt federal agent and a mob informant find themselves stranded in a remote valley. Blood spilled during a conflict between the two awakens an ancient evil bound beneath the valley. Can either of them escape from The Valley of Balor?

Summons by William Meikle (part of hisMythos of Sigils & Totems): Would you fall slave to the rhythm?
He came to Scotland after the death of his wife in search of peace. But the old house is restless. Something is waking, something noisy, something that will not be denied.
His search for meaning in the face of ever increasing activity in the house leads him down strange occult pathways, into deep history and a story that is racing to a finish.
The rhythm calls to him. Will he fall slave to it? Or is there a path to be the drum master before it subsumes him utterly?

This Celtic horror anthology is perfect for fans of folk horror, myths and legends, supernatural horror fiction, Grimm fairy tales, and Scottish survival horror, or fans of Ritual by Adam Nevill, Bag of Bones by Stephen King, or the legendary Ramsey Cambell.

Fire, Steel and Petroleum by Glynn StewartFire, Steel and Petroleum by Glynn Stewart:

From the author of Starship’s Mage, this short, magazine-style dieselpunk story delivers on action and an Arthurian hopepunk style.

Raiders have burned the village. With innocents in danger, a Knight must stand.



The Dead Shall Rise (Dark Tide, Book 10) by Jay Wilburn, Armand Rosamilia and Erin LouisThe Dead Shall Rise by Jay Wilburn, Armand Rosamilia and Erin Louis:

They’re coming to get you, Brave Reader.

“Prepare Because Death is Coming” by Jay Wilburn: “Take this and bear the warning.” When a messenger arrives at Dry Stretch, warning that a horde of zombies is heading their way forty years after the fall, Bay scoffs at the news. But a ‘full body’ meeting is called. Ethic is sent north to scout, but in Dry Stretch, no one is preparing. No one is repairing the walls. A William Faulkneresque story of the dead set in a dystopic dust-bowl town.

“Zombie Diner” by Armand Rosamilia: A family finds themselves on the wrong side of the zombie apocalypse while on vacation in Florida…

“Dance with the Dead” by Erin Louis: Tiffney is expecting just another night at the strip club. But when a customer goes berserk in the VIP room, things take an unexpectedly bloody turn. Stuck with a cocaine raddled manager and a shady club owner. Tiffney faces the unimaginable and is forced to turn her coworkers into allies to fight the evil that has taken over the club. Together they have to fight to stay alive.

This Zombie horror anthology is perfect for fans of post apocalyptic survival, The Walking Dead series, zombie apocalypse, and World War Z.

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for August 2023

Welcome to the latest edition of “Indie Crime Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Crime Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of crime fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some July books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Our new releases cover the broad spectrum of crime fiction. We have hardboiled mysteries, cozy mysteries, small town mysteries, animal mysteries, humorous mysteries, historical mysteries, Jazz Age mysteries, paranormal mysteries, crime thrillers, psychological thrillers, political thrillers, environmental thrillers, police officers, FBI agents, private investigators, amateur sleuths, stalkers, serial killers, murdered ballerinas, crime scene cleaners, vampires, deadly weddings, deadly funerals, crime-busting witches, crime-busting socialites, crime-busting food bloggers, crime-busting grannies, murder and mayhem in London, Las Vegas, Florida, Greenland and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Crime Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Indie Crime Scene, a group blog which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things crime fiction several times per week.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

Murder at the Funeral by Beth ByersMurder at the Funeral by Beth Byers:

In this short sequel to Murder on the Downs, Vi and Jack and friends return to the downs. This time to see the body of their friend interred. His killer has been found. Justice has been served. It’s time to say goodbye.

Or is it?

When they go to bury their friend, they discover the body of another man. Someone else is in Daniel Poole’s casket, and his body is still warm. What happened to their friend? Who is the killer? And who would do such a thing?

Rebel Without a Clue by Mike FaricyRebel Without a Clue by Mike Faricy:

Private Investigator Dev Haskell is minding his business in the Spot Bar when beautiful Tracey Wilde walks in the door. Heads turn as she heads for Dev and enlists his help in investigating her soon to be former husband. A day later Dev gets contacted by Ernest Stanton, CEO of an investment company. Stanton wants to hire Dev to investigate a particular woman. Business hasn’t been this good in months . . . or is it? Dev takes on both new clients and quickly learns that appearances can be deceiving. Add to that the fact that Dev himself appears to be under investigation by another P.I. Can things get any crazier? Well, it’s Dev Haskell so of course the answer is yes, they can and will . . .

Better get your copy now and see if Dev can survive . . .

A Code to Kill by Elle GrayA Code to Kill by Elle Gray:

Most of us have a code we live by.
Some live their life altruistically, while others live by a more sinister code.
A code that only their victims know. A code to kill…

Fresh from a grueling joint operation with Spenser Song, FBI agent Blake Wilder continues to find herself being stalked and hunted down by an unknown culprit. The worst part is that they may be after her loved ones as well.

Still unable to identify her stalker, Blake meets up with Kit at a coffee shop.
There Kit gives Blake crucial intel about an arms dealer, with advanced weaponry.
A dealer that’s on a bloodthirsty path, a path that claimed the life of someone close to Kit. As Blake and her team investigate the case, they uncover a web of aliases, and a cryptic code name with a string of deaths connecting to it.

Dirty bombs, advanced weaponry, and a trail of silent victims.
Who is this elusive arms dealer? As Blake races against time to unmask the truth.
The only thing that is certain is this weapons dealer is on a path of bloodshed.
And killing is not just a choice, it’s the only code they live by…

Hextraordinary Circumstances by Lily Harper HartHextraordinary Circumstances by Lily Harper Hart:

Vampires are taking over the French Quarter.

Ofelia Archer was hoping for a break, a stretch of quiet time to enjoy the opening of her brother’s new bar, but the sight of vampires walking the rooftops one evening, tracking her, makes her wary. Then, the next morning, when a body is dropped in front of a famous vampire house, things in the Quarter take a turn.

Ofelia’s dealt with vampires before, but there’s something different about this fang gang. She’s confused enough to wonder: Are they really dealing with vampires, or something else entirely?

Zach Sully, Ofelia’s fiancé and a local police detective, starts digging. It seems there’s more than one dead body afoot…and possibly a conspiracy to hide multiple deaths.

Ofelia’s team is prepared to figure out the truth, even if it means putting themselves in danger to do it. When the new enemy focuses on her father Oscar, however, Ofelia goes on the offensive.

The French Quarter is a place where things frequently go bump in the night. This fight is about to get bloody, however.

In more ways than one.

Friday in Las Vegas by Kaye HopkinsFriday in Las Vegas by Kaye Hopkins:

When Isabel Morgan washes out of the police academy because of a deeply humiliating trait she wasn’t aware of (she can’t fire a weapon without closing her eyes), she discovers the world of crime and trauma scene cleaning. Enlisting the help of her roommate, Kenny Diaz, she starts her own cleaning business.

One of Izzy and Kenny’s first jobs is a possible murder/suicide at The Kingdom Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. As it turns out, this is one of her father’s cases. He is a homicide detective with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and wanting to be closer to her dad and his world, Izzy begins her own investigation—an investigation that puts her in the sights of one violent and vindictive security guard. But when she’s kidnapped and thrown into a dungeon-like room at the casino, she finds that guard beaten up and half dead.

So, who is the real enemy here? Could it be Devlin Russo the young handsome manager of The Kingdom with possible mob connections and the man she’s just fallen for? Could it be someone she hasn’t even met yet? And is she going to end up in the same condition as the security guard or are they both going to die, buried beneath tons of concrete, in a room where no one can hear you scream?

Emily Lickenson could not stop death by CeeCee JamesEmily Lickenson Could Not Stop Death by CeeCee James:

Join Emily Lickenson, the cat food blogger with a knack for finding trouble, in her latest cozy mystery adventure.

Emily had hoped to settle back into her peaceful routine after helping to solve the last crime spree, but fate had other plans. When she stumbles upon a murder victim in the alley behind her apartment building, she knows she can’t ignore her instincts.

However, Emily soon discovers the police aren’t interested in solving the crime, and no one is willing to talk. Does this unsettling silence have something to do with the victim? Who was he? And why is everyone being so secretive?

With the help of her trusty sidekick, Shakespeare, and Aunt Mattie, who’s dealing with the fun challenges of an adorable new foster pet, Emily dives headfirst into the investigation. Can she uncover the truth behind the murder, or will the crime remain unsolved? This delightfully gripping whodunit will keep you guessing until the very end, making it a must-read for all cozy mystery lovers.

Murder in the Chapel by Sonia ParinMurder in the Chapel by Sonia Parin:

To love and to cherish, til death us do part…

Returning from town, Evie, the Countess of Woodridge, and Tom Winchester find the village buzzing with excitement. Finally, they are getting married and everyone is thrilled and eagerly awaiting the day to celebrate the long awaited nuptials.

While they play host to wedding guests arriving from near and far, they each deal with their wedding jitters, even though they know nothing and no one will stand in their way.

… anyone present who knows a reason why these persons may not lawfully marry…

If anything can interfere with their wedding plans it is bound to be something quite ominous. Something along the lines of a dead body discovered in the crypt inside the Woodridge family chapel where Tom and Evie have been practicing the wedding ceremony.

A body with a gunshot wound to the heart.

The weapon is found and provides unquestionable proof of guilt.

The Countess of Woodridge’s guilt.

No Escape by A.J. RiversNo Escape by A.J. Rivers:

There are places in this world where you can enter, but never leave…

After witnessing and helping to solve many cases with FBI agent Emma Griffin, PI Dean Steele should get an honorary FBI badge as a reward.

With Fall and its festivities rapidly approaching, Dean gets an urgent call.

Four years ago, in the quiet town of Harper, three teens were murdered against the backdrop of Halloween.
Their body parts were found in the most bewildering way.
The body count has now risen and there are still no answers.

When the family of the first victim hires Dean to get to the bottom of it, he is plunged in a dark and terrifying web of secrets.

Now, it’s up to Dean to learn who the true Hallows Eve killer is before he builds another scarecrow out of his victim

Missed Cue by Lynn SlaughterMissed Cue by Lynn Slaughter:

When ballerina Lydia Miseau dies onstage in the final dress rehearsal of Romeo and Juliet, homicide detective Caitlin O’Connor is faced with the most complicated case of her career. She strongly suspects that someone murdered the ballerina, and her investigation uncovers several people close to the star who had reasons to kill her. But the autopsy reveals no apparent cause of death. If Lydia Miseau was murdered, who did it, and how?

Meantime, there’s Caitlin’s hot mess of a personal life. She has a bad habit of getting involved with married men. She knows it’s wrong, so why does she keep entangling herself in unhealthy relationships? She’s finally decided to go into therapy to find out.

Shadow's Conspiracy by Mary StoneShadow’s Conspiracy by Mary Stone:

Not every conspiracy is a theory.

When a man washes up onto Shadow Island, Sheriff Rebecca West has a moment of déjà vu. This isn’t the first body the ocean spat out on one of her beaches, but it’s the first one she’s found alive.


The brutal gunshot wounds to the victim’s hand and the lower part of his face indicate he was shot offshore and dumped overboard, but there’s no boat or perpetrator. Just a few cryptic clues before the victim becomes unresponsive.

At first glance, the investigation points to pirates or a drug deal gone bad. But as Rebecca delves deeper, she realizes that this is far more than an attempt on a low-level criminal’s life. The case stretches out its tendrils, entangling the esteemed members of Shadow Island’s Select Board, the sinister Yacht Club, and even her own sheriff’s department.

And it could jeopardize everything.

Blackmail, power, and corruption collide as Rebecca resolves to clean the island up once and for all. Unless she dies trying.

Arctic Inferno by Geza TatrallyayArctic Inferno by Geza Tatrallyay:

Arctic Inferno, the sequel to Arctic Meltdown, is a timely and gripping international environmental thriller set against the background of the devastation of climate change and the melting of the polar ice cap. The heroine, Hanne Kristensen, the beautiful Danish geologist appointed Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources for the newly independent Greenland, has to maneuver through a wave of setbacks to foil both a Chinese attempt to control Greenland’s natural resources and a more aggressive Russian attempt to gain hegemony over the sparsely populated fledgling country as well as to save her friend, the ousted Premier of Russia, Pavel Laptov. Her suitor, Canadian diplomat Richard Simpson, aids her in this process as well as in the design and signing of a new and more environmentally focused Arctic Treaty to save the region from complete environmental catastrophe. But at the same time Hanne’s private life is complicated by this relationship, as she has to choose between Richard and her long-time lover and childhood friend, Kristi Olafson. This is an action-packed novel with lots of twists and turns guaranteed to keep the reader at the edge of their seats, but also one that brings home the realities we could be living in the very near future.

Pineapple Maids by Amy VasantPineapple Maids by Amy Vansant:

Pineapple Port retirees Mariska and Darla have been many things to Charlotte Morgan—surrogate mothers when her grandmother passed, belly-fillers (almost constantly), and dime-store decorators when the new Charlock Holmes Detective Agency needed upgrading…

All they ask in return is one teeny, tiny, itty-bitty thing in exchange…To go undercover so they can find out who’s killing residents at a high-end assisted living manor.

What could go wrong if Darla and Mariska masquerade as residents? Or war with the manor’s “mean girls?” Or start a revolt via talent show?

Charlotte doesn’t have time to worry about the ladies. She’s and Declan are posing as staff, and they’ve got secret gardens, scary alligator prints, and poison tea to worry about. They’ll have to hurry—one of the residents just laughed himself to death while painting a cheeky art reproduction…

Will Dead Ed be the manor’s last casualty?

Grab some cookies and find out! (Just don’t drink the tea…)

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Foundation explains “Why the Gods Made Wine” and still has next to nothing to do with the books

Season 2 of Foundation is currently streaming, so I’m doing episode by episode reviews again. For my takes on previous episodes, go here.

For even more Foundation talk, I was a guest at the most excellent Seldon Crisis podcast and you can listen to us talking about Foundation, Asimov and the golden age of science fiction here.

Warning! There will be spoilers under the cut! Continue reading

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Foundation meets “The Sighted and the Seen” and has nothing whatsoever to do with the books

Season 2 of Foundation is currently streaming, so I’m doing episode by episode reviews again. For my takes on previous episodes, go here.

Warning! There will be spoilers under the cut! Continue reading

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