But before we get to the story, I also have a couple of other announcements to make. For starters, I just crossed the 3000 lifetime sales threshold a few days ago and blogged about it, including a detailed breakdown of vendors and books, over at the Pegasus Pulp blog.
What is more, there are also a couple of seasonal book sales going on at the moment. For starters, there is the Magic Winter Book sale, which offers plenty of holiday and winter-themed science fiction and fantasy books for 99 cents all December long.
If romance is more your thing, author C.B. Maurice has organised a holiday romance cross promo, which will also run all December long. The promo is divided into sweet holiday romances and spicy holiday romances, so there’s something for every heat level. Oh yes, and you can also find some books by me in both promos.
If your reading needs still aren’t satisfied by all the low cost holiday book on offer, I also have a new release of my own to announce. It’s an action-packed science fiction story called A Mess of Arms and Legs and Limbs and it’s another story to come out of the 2017 July short story challenge.
The inspiration for this story was a thread at KBoards about the genre expectations of space opera and military SF audiences. Now if you’ve taken a look at the space opera and military science fiction bestseller lists at Amazon recently, you’ll have noticed that about 95 percent of them consist of stories about humanity locked in a mortal struggle with evil aliens (who are of course either insectoid or reptilian or – if we’re going to be really original – a Cthulhu knock-off) and only Captain Manly McMannerson and his ragtag crew of misfits and outcasts can save humanity. A lot of the time, the blurbs read like something that might have appeared in Astounding Stories or Amazing Stories in the 1930s to 1950s. My reaction to such stories is usually “Meh. Been there, read that and besides, Heinlein did it better”.
However, these stories undoubtedly popular. And then during that discussion on KBoards, someone posted, “Well, who doesn’t love the description of alien blood splattering across a bulkhead?” and I thought, “Uhm, me. Cause the evil aliens and the splattering alien blood are just a big, huge cliché.”
Since I was just doing the July short story challenge at the time, I thought, “Hey, why don’t I just try to ‘write to market’ for once and write a story about heroic humans fighting evil aliens, complete with alien blood splattering onto bulkheads. So I started writing a scene told from the POV of someone crouching behind a barricade waiting to blast away some invading aliens. I followed my at that point still nameless protagonist through the aliens’ initial attack and the immediate aftermath. Then I wondered, along with Matt (who’d gained a name by now) and Cally just what to do next and how to defeat the aliens. And this is how A Mess of Arms and Legs and Limbs was born. And yes, alien blood does splatter onto a bulkhead in the course of the story.
In the end, A Mess of Arms and Legs and Limbs doesn’t quite perfectly hit what the market for military science fiction and space opera apparently wants after all. For starters, Matt and Cally aren’t manly space marines, just two underpaid and underequipped security guards at a mining outpost. There is a genuine manly space marine in the story (well, ex-space marine), Security Chief Burnett, but he has three lines before the aliens kill him.
As for the aliens, I heroically resisted making them insectoid and reptiloid and instead opted for Cthulhu types, but they’re still very much aliens who are evil for the sake of being evil and an enemy that it’s okay to shoot without reservations. Though we do find out about their (rather prosaic) motivation for attacking human outposts at the end. What is more, I also managed to sneak in some references to the 1981 science fiction movie Outland, which is also set in a mining colony. Though ironically, Outland is not a movie about aliens, evil or otherwise. Indeed, the conflict is purely human.
Now that I had a nice little science fiction action tale, I of course also needed a cover. And that’s when I came across the perfect image, courtesy of the talented Luca Oleastri. Okay, so the Barbie type silvery space suit doesn’t quite match what I envision, but the multi-tentacles aliens are perfect.
So what are you waiting for? Kick some alien butt with…
Humanity thought they were alone in the universe. They were wrong.
When aliens attack Hyams II, a small mining colony on the galactic rim, all that stands between the attackers and the terrified civilian population are a handful of underpaid and underequipped security guards.
However, two of those guards, Cally and Matt, use all their skills and their knowledge of the colony’s layout to fight back and hold the invaders at bay. And in the process, they also manage to uncover the biggest secret of all: Why are the aliens attacking human outposts at all?
Length: 6500 words
List price: 0.99 USD, EUR or GBP
Buy it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Scribd, Smashwords, Inktera, Playster, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, e-Sentral, 24symbols and XinXii.