Thursday, September 29, 2016

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for September 29, 2016

Here is our weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with more tributes to Dave Kyle, discussion of the movie The Girl With All the Gifts, lots of awards as well as the usual mix of writing advice, interviews, reviews, awards news, con reports, crowdfunding projects, science articles and free online fiction. 

Speculative fiction in general:

Comments on The Girl With All the Gifts:

Tributes to Dave Kyle:

Awards:

Writing, publishing and promotion:

Interviews:

Reviews:

Crowdfunding:

Con reports:

Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends: 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Turncoat Prince (Dragonsfall, Book 2) by Amelia Smith

Release date: September 27, 2016
Subgenre: Epic fantasy, dark fantasy

About The Turncoat Prince

 

Darna is just a guildswoman, or so she’d like to think, but her alleged father was the prince of a backwater province. Her uncle assassinated him to claim the throne, and now he's coming after her.

With assassins on her heels, Darna takes on a job in the remote province of Slaradun. The prince is irate to find that this limping woman has replaced the able-bodied man he hired, but according to the contract, he’s stuck with her for the season. Darna finds the prince arrogant and high-handed, but he’s also intelligent and well-read. As winter closes in on Slaradun keep, late night conversations turn from sea walls to more intimate territory, and the province’s lost dragon reappears.

This book is the second in the Dragonsfall trilogy. To enjoy it properly, read The Defenders' Apprentice first, and perhaps also the beginning of Darna’s story in the prequel novels, Scrapplings and Priestess.

Excerpt:



This place isn’t safe for you,” he said. “I think you should go stay in the temple.”
Don’t be ridiculous; I’ve lived here for years.” Darna looked over her shoulder and drew the curtains across that last gap. “Is it something to do with Tiadun?”
Thorat nodded. “Was the prince of Tiadun your father?”
I don’t know.” He might have been. After all, her mother had been a priestess and might have lain with any number of men, including the prince of their province, but no man was supposed to claim a priestess’s child as his own, though they did when it suited them. The prince had tried to claim her. He’d sponsored her priestess training, possibly because she’d stood as proof that he could sire a child, although a girl child wouldn’t normally inherit the throne. He’d needed that, not that it had done him any good in the end.
He’s dead now, so it doesn’t matter.”
Thorat shook his head. “That’s the trouble. It does matter. Calar, his brother, your uncle, he found out about you. He wants you dead. He’s offered a land grant, a rather large land grant, and a share of the Cerean trade in dragon stones to the man who kills you.”
Kills me? Me?” Darna’s voice squeaked. “Why?”
I don’t know all of it,” Thorat said, running his hand through his hair. His hand looked strong, competent. He had a good longsword which he knew how to use. Maybe he would protect her, not that she’d ever needed protection before.
You don’t know all of what?” Darna asked. If she was going to be murdered, she’d like to know why.
He had your father murdered.”
I don’t know that he was my father.” The idea that Calar had killed his brother, the prince, was not at all surprising.
The prince looks like you. Looked like you. He had the same expressions. I believe he was your father, even though you’re not like any other princess I’ve seen.”
I wasn’t raised to be a princess.”
You weren’t raised at all. You’re half-wild.”
Exactly,” Darna said, “but now I’m also a full initiate of the Guild of Planners.”
Congratulations. I didn’t know that.”
They blessed my masterwork this past winter, just before Tiada was killed.” Tiada was the dragon and guardian deity of her home province. Dragons were supposed to live forever, as long as the land, so now her homeland was dead. The death of the dragon meant far more to her than the death of a man ever could, even if that man had sired her, and that was far from certain. Thorat had been there at Tiada’s death. That much she knew, though the details of why he’d been there were not entirely clear.
You know about that?” Thorat asked.
Iola thought I should know. She said that Tiada had joined the deepest stream, and that that was different from death, though it looks the same to us on the surface. She knew that I was Tiada’s child.” Darna had sensed the absence of the dragon before Iola had told her about it.
And not the prince’s,” Thorat mused.
I have no interest in being connected to the prince of Tiadun,” Darna said. “He had nothing that I wanted. Everyone knows that. Besides, it wouldn’t make any difference. Why would Calar want me dead?” She did know her alleged uncle’s name. She kept track of what was happening in Tiadun, just in case. “I’m no threat to him.”
But he thinks you are, and he’s right,” Thorat said.

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About Amelia Smith:


Amelia Smith writes magazine articles about Martha's Vineyard, fantasy sagas about dragons, and blog posts about nothing in particular. To learn more about her, visit www.ameliasmith.net.

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Courting Trouble (In Love and War, Book 3) by Cora Buhlert

Release date: September 15, 2016
Subgenre: Space opera, science fiction romance

About Courting Trouble

 

Once, Anjali Patel and Mikhail Grikov were soldiers on opposing sides of an intergalactic war. They met, fell in love and decided to go on the run together.

Now Anjali and Mikhail are trying to eek out a living on the independent worlds of the galactic rim, while attempting to stay under the radar of those pursuing them.

But when Anjali and Mikhail stumble upon a protection racket during a routine shopping trip, they have to make a choice: Lay low to avoid attracting attention or stay true to their personal ethics and intervene?

This is a story of 6700 words or approx. 23 print pages in the In Love and War series, but may be read as a standalone. 

Excerpt:

 

Djamila was an unremarkable dustball of a planet, notable only for one thing, its strategic location along one of the major trade routes between the Republic of United Planets and the independent worlds on the galactic rim.
Its main trade hub was the city of Demirkan on the North Continent, a sprawling metropolis that had sprung up around the planet’s biggest spaceport, nestled at the foot of a mountain range.
Next to the spaceport, the most important structure in Demirkan was the Red Market, named for the bright red awnings that shielded shoppers and vendors alike from the merciless desert sun.
No matter what the hour, the Red Market was always bustling with activity. Hundreds of vendors were offering goods from a thousand world to crowds of eager buyers. Legend had it that anything in the galaxy could be found at the Red Market, either above or below the counter.
Two figures briskly made their way through the labyrinthine passages of the Red Market. A man and a woman, both in their mid twenties, walking side by side in the perfect synchronicity born of close companionship.
The man was tall and lanky, though he moved with the natural grace of a trained fighter. His hair was dark and fell down to his shoulders. His skin was uncommonly pale, his eyes were a striking blue. He was clad all in black — boots, utility pants, shirt, all topped by a long coat of black synth-leather, that also concealed the blaster he wore in a shoulder holster. This was Captain Mikhail Alexeievich Grikov, formerly of the Republican Special Commando Forces.
The woman by his side was a good head shorter, with brown skin, dark eyes and glossy black hair she wore tied back into a single long braid. Like her companion, she wore utilitarian clothing, though she had opted for a tunic of flowing synth-silk in bright colours with a matching scarf rather than the stark black her companion favoured. She, too, was armed, with a blaster on one hip and a dagger on the other. This was Lieutenant Anjali Patel, formerly of the Imperial Shakyri Expeditionary Corps.
Djamila was a harsh world and Demirkan a harsh city. And while the Red Market might be a place of wonder, it was also a place of danger, its passages prowled by various gangs in search of easy prey.
But even the most hardened criminals of Demirkan knew better than to bother the pair that strolled across the Red Market, preferring to give them a wide berth instead. For Mikhail Grikov and Anjali Patel radiated danger, which was not surprising, considering they were two of the deadliest fighters in the galaxy. They were also on the run.
The Republic of United Planets and the Empire of Worlds had been at war for eighty-eight years now, grinding up generations of soldiers in endless battles. Mikhail and Anjali had been two of those soldiers, the best their respective governments had to offer. They’d met on the battlefield, fought, but failed to kill each other and finally had taken each other prisoner. And somewhere along the way, they’d managed to fall in love and decided to run away together, deserters and traitors to the Republic and the Empire both.
The Republic and the Empire might not be able to agree on anything, but there was one issue in which they were curiously of one mind. The traitors Patel and Grikov had to be found and brought to justice, whatever the cost.
So Mikhail and Anjali had fled to the independent rim worlds, the only place where they could live in relative peace, working as security, mercenaries, muscle-for-hire and hopping from world to world, always trying to stay one step ahead of their pursuers. And today, their flight had brought them to Djamila, to the Red Market in the city of Demirkan.
Though the exact purpose that had brought them to the Red Market today was not escape or even work — no, the reason was something far more prosaic. Mikhail and Anjali were shopping for groceries. Or rather, Anjali was shopping for groceries, while Mikhail was tagging along.
“What about that one?”
He pointed at a stall that was selling a bewildering variety of powdered spices and dry goods that to his uneducated eyes looked exactly like the sort of thing Anjali was looking for.
“Oh no, that won’t do at all,” Anjali replied, “The quality is bad, the spices are old, preserved by irradiation and quite possibly adulterated as well. They add yeast extract, monosodium glutamate, bran or even sawdust, you know?”
To be honest, Mikhail hadn’t known that. “I bow to your superior knowledge,” he said with a smile, wondering how in the universe Anjali could tell all that without a thorough chemical analysis, for he sure as hell couldn’t. But then, Anjali had some genetic enhancements, courtesy of her former masters, that he lacked.
“That man at the spaceport said there was a Rajipuri spice merchant somewhere here at the Red Market. We only have to find him or her.”
Rajipuri was Anjali’s homeworld, commonly referred to as the jewel in the Imperial crown, for it kept the Empire supplied with fierce warriors, powdered spices, brightly patterned synth-silk and intricate jewellery. All the finest quality in the galaxy, or so Anjali insisted.
“How about asking for directions?” Mikhail suggested, “Rajipuri merchants can’t be too common, this far from the Empire.”
“I’m a Shakyri warrior. We never ask for directions.”

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About Cora Buhlert:

Cora Buhlert was born and bred in North Germany, where she still lives today – after time spent in London, Singapore, Rotterdam and Mississippi. Cora holds an MA degree in English from the University of Bremen and is currently working towards her PhD. 
Cora has been writing, since she was a teenager, and has published stories, articles and poetry in various international magazines. She is the author of the Silencer series of pulp style thrillers, the Shattered Empire space opera series, the In Love and War science fiction romance series, the Helen Shepherd Mysteries and plenty of standalone stories in multiple genres. When Cora is not writing, she works as a translator and teacher.

 

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for September 23, 2016

Here is our weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with a lot of listicles, the 50th anniversaries of Star Trek and Raumpatrouille Orion, tributes to Dave Kyle, the Emmys and other awards as well as the usual mix of writing advice, interviews, reviews, awards news, con reports, science articles and free online fiction. 

Speculative fiction in general:

Awards:

Writing, publishing and promotion:

Interviews:

Reviews:

Con reports:

Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends: 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Stem (Pollen, Book 2) by Aaron D. Lamb

Release date: September 5, 2016
Subgenre: Dystopian science fiction

About Stem:

 

After escaping the extermination of everyone they loved, Rome and Mae seek revenge.

However, the world outside their city sized prison is too busy to care. They form a desperate friendship with an unlucky Zoo guide, caught in the wrong place at the right time. Together they face the forces of a corrupt government, a sensationalist media, and an apathetic public.

And they only have a week left to live.

Suspenseful, political and awash with colourful characters and epic set pieces.

Stem the sequel to sci-fi hit Pollen, builds to a finale that pits hero against hero.

Excerpt:



“Don’t fuck this up,” Henry whispered to himself.
Henry Underhill, a graduate of the CSKU Academy for Advanced Engineering, and yet most days he felt like a chump. He clapped his hands together; he winced at the sting and watched the spit of sweat fly off in all directions. 
This was his first class ticket to be free of Rita. Her name ebbed into him, like water through a crack in the sea wall. The dismal feeling pulled him toward a dark sinkhole at the centre of his living room. He liked the idea of his sinkhole; it was full of things that couldn't hurt him, things he was the master of, books to read, games to win. No Rita. No heart-pounding chaos.
He sighed. He loved the heart-pounding chaos.
 
He took a big gulp of water and a final look around his apartment. Tidy, nothing embarrassing, but enough knick-knacks to spark conversation.
He flicked his holoprojectors on and the room lit up. A beautiful blue light filled his home, and then overlaid a waiting room in a fancy hotel in perfectly replicated 3D.
“Just ask questions,” Henry said to himself.
His brother had done this a thousand times and had been coaching Henry for weeks.
 
“Don't compare anyone to Rita.”
 
The waiting room turned green.
“Welcome, Henry Underhill,” the host of the waiting room said.
 
No projection, a bodiless but pleasant voice.
 
“Your premium membership enables you access to the best Life-Swipe has to offer. We have matched you with several women based on your biometric data and preference settings. Relax, enjoy the dates, and remember: you've got five minutes per date. If you don’t like, swipe! Have fun, Henry.”
Henry’s room then split. Half, his room; the other half of the room lit up with a stranger’s living room. Neat and tidy too, bookshelves, paintings on the wall. Henry relaxed.
“Oh, hi,” said the projection of a woman beamed into the room.
 
Curly red hair, cool green eyes with a big bright necklace; she looked like she was ready for a night at the opera. He saw from her quick facts file she was two months older than him, and liked the same music.
 
“So. Five minutes,” she said softly.
“Yeah, what can you do in five minutes?” Henry laughed weakly.
“I beg your pardon?”
“I mean, you know, five minutes is no time at all. You have to get right into it, don't you?”
“Right into what?”
“Conversation.”
“Oh sure! Sorry, for a second I thought you'd come to the wrong kinda dating site.”
“I hope not. So let's get down to it!”
“Seriously? You want that kinda date? I'm not that person.”
“What? I'm confused. I’m not here for a sex ...”
SWIPE.
“Right,” said Henry. “Fucked that up then.”
“Sorry Henry,” said the host voice as the projection flicked back to the waiting room. “Would you like feedback?”
“Sure,” he said nervously.
“Your feedback is, ‘I think he was after a sex line’.”


Amazon

 

About Aaron D. Lamb:

Aaron Lamb born in the Medway Towns, grew up in the gritty terrace housing of a main road to an industrial estate. Wrote his first novel aged 11 and hasn't stop telling stories since.
He has trekked extensively around the wilderness of Norway and Finland, ran a cabaret show in London's Soho for four years, ran an ultra marathon and has lived in Eastern Cambodia.
He now lives in Australia with his wife in a little flat with a fantastic garden and enjoys a beer in the evening and cooking interesting dinners! 

 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Graveyard Shift (In Love and War, Book 2) by Cora Buhlert

Release date: September 11, 2016
Subgenre: Space opera

About Graveyard Shift

 

While docked at the civilian space station Unity for repairs, the Republic of United Planets battlecruiser Great Endeavour undertakes a trial flight with an inexperienced bridge crew. Disaster strikes and the Great Endeavour crashes into Unity's shopping concourse, killing more than three hundred people.

A tragic accident, but in times of war, the public is not willing to accept tragic accidents. And so the Republic's government sends its best troubleshooter, Colonel Brian Mayhew of the Republican Special Commando Forces to initiate a cover-up.

This is a novelette of 14100 words or approx. 48 print pages in the In Love and War series, but may be read as a standalone. 

Excerpt:

 

At the same time, Katharina Woywood, Captain of the Republic of United Planets battlecruiser Great Endeavour, was having dinner with Alfonso Gutierrez, Station Commander of Unity.
Katharina Woywood was forty-two years old with dark eyes, lightly tanned skin and dark hair that she wore in a severe bun at the nape of her neck. She’d been Captain of the Great Endeavour for six years now and wore the uniform well. But the Great Endeavour was not where her career would culminate. No, Katharina was going places. She’d make Commodore one day, perhaps even Admiral.
But for now, she was enjoying the downtime — enforced though it was — food that was not the standard shipboard grub for once and the company of Commander Gutierrez who was not just an attentive host, but handsome to boot.
They were having dinner in a room reserved for special functions, a circular chamber at the very top of Unity’s central pylon covered by a glass dome. The view was breathtaking. The planet of Legrelle far below, Unity’s revolving multi-ring structure all around and finally the stars above. It was like dining in deep space, only without the suffocation and explosive decompression.
Katharina regaled Commander Gutierrez with war stories of the Great Endeavour’s many adventures and her part in the battle of Zatar, all the while wondering what it would take to seduce the Commander and make love with him right here under the stars.
Katharina was torn out of her reverie, when the Commander suddenly scrunched his rather attractive forehead in a frown.
“Captain?” he asked, pointing at something behind her, “Isn’t that your ship?”
Katharina turned around and spotted the unmistakable outline of the Great Endeavour where it definitely wasn’t supposed to be.
“What the hell?” Katharina rose to her feet and walked up to the very edge of the glass dome. “I did not authorise this.”
Commander Gutierrez wandered over to join her. “Might just be a trial flight,” he said.
“I still didn’t authorise this. And the duty officer…” Blast, what was the name of the new third officer again? “…has strict orders to get my authorisation for any unplanned operation, no matter how small.”
“I’ll call docking control,” Commander Gutierrez said and promptly did, “Docking control? What’s the Great Endeavour doing outside its berth?”
“They requested permission to undock maybe two minutes ago,” the bored voice of the docking officer replied.
“And why?” Katharina demanded.
The docking officer’s shrug was almost audible over the com. “Trial flight, they said.”
“I did not authorise any trial flights,” Katharina insisted. She pulled out her com unit and called the bridge. “Great Endeavour, what in blue blazes are you doing outside the repair dock?”
“I’m sorry, but the bridge crew is currently busy with crucial flight manoeuvres. Please stand by.”
The voice from the com unit was young, unfamiliar and female. But then, the Great Endeavour had gotten in a bunch of cadets fresh from the Academy two days ago. Must be one of them.
“I can see you’re busy with flight manoeuvres,” Katharina snapped, “Unauthorised flight manoeuvres. And now give me the duty officer.”
“I’m sorry, but Commander Flynn is busy right now. Please stand by.”
Flynn — yes, that was the new third officer’s name. Though he wouldn’t be third officer for much longer, once Katharina got her hands on him.
“Do you have any idea who you’re talking to, nitwit? This is your Captain. And now put me through to Flynn.”
“Yes, sir…” Katharina could almost picture the com officer snapping to attention. “I mean, ma’am. Sir.”
Katharina was about to order the girl to put her through to Flynn again, but before she could, Gutierrez interrupted her.
“What the hell are they doing?” he exclaimed.
Whatever the Great Endeavour was doing, it was clearly wrong. The ship was too close to the docking clamps. It would…
And then it did. Katharina watched as her ship collided with the docking clamps and scraped along the length of the clamps. She winced, feeling the scratches in the hull of the Great Endeavour as if they were injuries to her own body.
“Give me Flynn now,” she yelled into her com unit.
“Your pilot is incompetent and a bloody idiot”, Commander Gutierrez remarked.
It was unlikely that the pilot had heard him over the open com. Nonetheless, he proved that he indeed was both incompetent and a bloody idiot and should never have been let out of the simulator, because he clearly panicked and made a mistake that would have made a beginner blush.
“No, no, what are you doing, idiot?” Commander Gutierrez exclaimed.
“Stop the bloody ship now,” Katharina yelled into her com unit, “Shoot the pilot, if you have to, just stop it!”
But it was too late. A split second later, alarm klaxons went off all over Unity.

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About Cora Buhlert:

Cora Buhlert was born and bred in North Germany, where she still lives today – after time spent in London, Singapore, Rotterdam and Mississippi. Cora holds an MA degree in English from the University of Bremen and is currently working towards her PhD. Cora has been writing since she was a teenager, and has published stories, articles and poetry in various international magazines. When she is not writing, she works as a translator and teacher.

Website | Mailing list | Twitter | Google+ | Instagram | Pinterest


Friday, September 16, 2016

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for September 16, 2016

Here is our weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with Star Trek's 50th anniversary, the three fractions of speculative fiction, plenty of WorldCon and DragonCon con reports as well as the usual mix of writing advice, interviews, reviews, awards news, con reports, crowdfunding projects and free online fiction. 

Speculative fiction in general:

Comments on fifty years of Star Trek:

Awards:

Writing, publishing and promotion: 

Interviews:

Reviews:

Crowdfunding:

Con reports:

Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends: