Friday, January 20, 2017

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for January 20, 2017

Here is our weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with discussion of Sherlock, appreciation for Octavia Butler as well as the usual mix of awards news, writing advice, interviews, reviews, awards news, con reports, crowdfunding projects, science articles and free online fiction. 

Speculative fiction in general:

Comments on Sherlock:


Writing, publishing and promotion:




Con reports:

Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends: 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Sundown Apocalypse (Sundown Apocalypse, Book 1) by Leo Nix

Release date: December 31, 2016
Subgenre: Post-apocalyptic, military science fiction

About Sundown Apocalypse:


It is the end of days, the Apocalypse of Revelations has begun and terrorists have effectively taken out the super powers cleansing the planet of the 'disease of civilisation'.
​Small bands of survivors are forced to confront the horrors of a psychopathic enemy. They fight back the only way they can - with sudden and savage violence.
Sundown, under the mentorship of an ex IRA commander and a retired Vietnam war CIA operative, struggles with his own demons as he guides a determined band of civilians to defeat their enemy and to survive the harshness of the Australian desert.

If you like hard-hitting, fast-paced adventure without the fluff, this is the series for you.


"Boyo, what did those naughty terrorists do to your arm now? Come with us and we'll fix you up." Halo and Beamy teased as they led him off to see Tricia where she was gathering up the terrorist's medical gear. Halo was back to his fine mood, swinging his captured M16 over his shoulder African soldier style. A captured bandoleer of bullets draped over his other. His hair and face were a mess of blood from the head wound and he still hadn't noticed it.
Tricia looked up as they walked in. Assassin's arm was now swollen and bruised but the bullet hadn't hit anything serious. It had gone straight through the flesh on the edge of his biceps.
"You are a lucky soldier," she smiled, "any closer and you'd need a major repair job. I won't bother stitching this it'll heal itself in time, just don't knock it. Gail can have a look at it when we get back." She then cleaned up his bruised forehead with some antiseptic cream.
Halo smiled brightly at Tricia and her eyes opened wide. His hair was matted in blood and his face streaked with red clots. He looked frightening.
"Does anything hurt?" she asked as she sat him down and began to cut his hair away from the wound.
"Nah, yeah, nah." He was all dumb now he was being touched by this gorgeous angel. Her English accent had melted his heart and he was almost in a swoon. "I do feel a bit dizzy and it hurts when you touch my head."
"Hold still, this is nasty. It looks like one of those bullets has creased your scalp and taken some of your brains with it." She gave a wicked laugh.
"Huh? You're kidding me aren't you? Can you really see my brains? That's not good is it?" Halo really did feel dizzy now and he started to slip sideways off the seat.
"Catch him Beamy, he's about to pass out." Ordered Tricia without bothering to stop her cutting and swabbing.
Beamy gently held the unconscious Halo until Tricia had finished then she placed him on the officers bed. His head heavily swathed in a bandage that made him look like a mummy.
Tricia looked at his boyish face and smiled to herself. These are just boys, she thought, but her body said something else and she automatically put a hand to his face and stroked it. Just then Halo opened his eyes and they stared at each other for a split second that felt like an eternity.
"OK soldier," she said smartly back in control, "we'd better get you back to work. Make sure you see Lorraine when we get home." She went back to packing the remaining medical gear in readiness to take it all with them.

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Smashwords


About Leo Nix:

Leo is a psychologist who has worked in the prison system, education and in private practice. He is published in both non-fiction and fiction genres describing fiction writing as the best form of therapy he has ever experienced. He is currently writing a post-apocalyptic series set in the Australian desert and the city of Adelaide. He is married with three children.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Interview with David Barker, author of Blue Gold

Today the Speculative Fiction Showcase are delighted to interview David Barker, author of forthcoming post-apocalyptic novel Blue Gold.

Is this your first attempt at writing a book or do you have any drawer novels or shorts hidden away – or published?
It’s my first try. This story seemed to stick with me until I got it right.

Why have you chosen to write about a war over water?
It combines two of the most important issues of our age: climate change and geopolitical tension. The United Nations and the US National Intelligence Council have already warned of the growing risk of a conflict over water resources in the next 2-3 decades.

You describe yourself as a part-time economist. What does a part-time economist do, and does it have any impact on your writing?
I try to predict the future: figuring out how the global economy will evolve is a key aspect of my job. Those ideas helped shape the world that became the setting for Blue Gold. The company I work for has been kind enough to let me work part-time while I prepare for the book launch and crack on with the first draft of its sequel.

What, if any, science fiction authors have influenced you?
Lots, but three in particular: Frank Herbert, Douglas Adams and Arthur C Clarke. Herbert’s Dune, set on a planet without rain, was a huge inspiration for me, and I suspect a lot of other writers over the years. It’s 50 years old and still fresh!

Tell us about the Faber Academy course – how did you learn about it and did you find it useful?
My wife knew SJ Watson when he was an audiologist and when his first novel became an international bestseller, we knew the course must be good! It was exactly what I needed, teaching me about the pitfalls to avoid when writing fiction and some of the subtler ways to make a story appeal to the reader. The support of my tutor and fellow students was fantastic and still continues three years after the course finished.

Environmentalism is clearly important to you. It often seems to underlie much post-apocalyptic science-fiction. Is this significant?
I think we all get a little bit scared contemplating the consequences of climate change, but it’s easier to imagine that future if it’s the setting for a gripping thriller. Maybe if enough authors write stories about a dark future, we’ll learn to appreciate and look after the planet better.

You are clearly a supporter of local bookstores and libraries. Why are these important, to you – and to everyone else?
Libraries are a fantastic way for people to immerse themselves in all sorts of books at very little cost. Given my daughter’s ability to finish a 400-page book in a couple of days, that seems quite important to me! I love browsing bookstores in a way that doesn’t work online, and my local store runs a great sci-fi and fantasy book club that I attend every month.

Do you use Scrivener or Word? Or pen and paper?
Word, but I always carry a note pad and pen with me to scribble down ideas on my current novel or future projects before I forget them.

Are you a Luddite? Or do you prefer to be on the bleeding edge of technology?
Embarrassing to admit as an author writing about the future, but I am a bit of Luddite. I had fun stripping away some technology in the setting for Blue Gold.

Are you--or have you ever been--a gamer?
Definitely. I owned a ZX Spectrum in the early 1980s, fell in love with Lara Croft during the 1990s and discovered MMORPGs in the noughties. Unfortunately writing takes up most of my spare time these days, so I had to find a way to break my addiction.

Do you have your own office, study or writing space, or can you write in a cafe or the library?
I’m lucky enough to have my own study at home. But I did write quite a lot of Blue Gold’s first draft on a train – commuting home from work in the evenings.

If you were marooned on a desert island and could take just seven books, what would you choose?
Dune, Lord of the Rings, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, To Kill a Mockingbird, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and two graphic novels: Sandman by Neil Gaiman and Watchmen by Alan Moore.

What writer, living or dead, would you most like to meet?
Douglas Adams. He was a genius and a polymath.

If you could have any director to shoot the film of your book, who would you choose?
There are so many talented young directors that I don’t know well enough to answer. But James Gunn, the director of Guardians of the Galaxy, delivered a great combination of action and humour; something that I tried to do in Blue Gold.

How would you define Speculative Fiction?
Blimey, you’ve saved the toughest question until last. I think of speculative fiction as the stories that are created when a writer asks him or herself a ‘what if’ question and lets the answer stretch reality in new and exciting ways. (Sorry if that sounds a bit derivative of the quote in your website’s header – I must have sub-consciously memorised it!)

Blue Gold will be released on May 11, 2017: it is available for pre-order from Amazon here.

About David Barker:


David lives with his wife, daughter and three pet rats in Royal Berkshire, England. When not working, David likes to play tennis, surf, read books and watch films.

web-site | Twitter @BlueGold201

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Cost of Business (A Dragonfire Station short story) by Zen DiPietro

Release date: December 27, 2016
Subgenre: Space opera, short story

About The Cost of Business:


Cabot Layne has unintentionally become the owner of someone else's problem. In order to get free of it, he'll need to use every bit of his trader cunning. If he does it just right, he might stay out of prison. With a little luck, he'll even manage to turn a profit.


“Are you going to turn me in?” Arlen stood next to the trunk, which Cabot had opened just long enough to show her their very large problem. She was nice-looking, though part of that handsomeness might have been due to her youth. Like Cabot, she had naturally tan skin and light-brown hair. Her eyes were an amber brown, compared to his own blue-gray ones. She had a winsome rugged frame that spoke of Rescan sturdiness.
Cabot admired her composure. Being the connoisseur of people he was, he recognized the anxiety beneath her placid features. “That would save my skin at the direct expense of yours. Since you’re guiltless, I don’t wish to see that happen.”
Instead of reassuring her, this caused her face to harden in suspicion. “And what do I owe you for that?”
“You have nothing I want. What could I need from someone just getting set up in the business?” He laced his words with disdain, which took the edge off her suspicion. Yes, she’d understand derision and self-interest much better than she would altruism. His own distrust of philanthropy ran deep.
“Then why not sell me out?” she demanded.
“Even an innocent transaction involving Brivinium would tarnish my reputation. I don’t need the PAC breathing down my neck on every deal I make for the rest of my life. We can get the stuff back into the right hands, and keep our names out of it besides. We stay clean, the Brivinium gets returned, and nobody has to deal with countless hours of debriefings and administrative work. Everyone wins.”
“If we get caught
He cut her off. “We won’t.” He fixed her with a hard look, daring her to argue.
She backed down. The young ones always did. Taking a breath, she asked, “What’s your plan?”
A certain acumen, combined with a few decades’ worth of experience, gave Cabot the skills to retrieve information from the voicecom that, technically speaking, he wasn’t supposed to have. He prided himself on maneuvering within the gray areas that couldn’t result in any charges being brought against him. Even so, it was always prudent to avoid being caught.
In two days, a Briveen ship would dock for scheduled maintenance in accordance with the PAC’s strict protocols for engine safety. The security notes had indicated that the Briveen would inhabit standard guest quarters during the repairs. That would give Cabot time to arrange a business venture.
He opened a channel, placing a call to a pair of human traders who had been darkening Dragonfire’s boardwalk for a little too long now.
Cabot had no issues with competition. In fact, he found that the more trade activity that happened on Dragonfire, the more business eventually came his way. His objection to these two humans was personal. No, professional. Actually, it was personal, because of his dislike of how they sullied his profession. Yes, that was it.
Dirtbags like those two didn’t fulfill their contracts. They lied about volume, freshness, or item origin. They didn’t deliver as promised, and Cabot had no tolerance for that kind of sleazy, amateur behavior. He wouldn’t have that rubbish on his station.
Intending to leave a message, Cabot was surprised when one of the traders answered. It was Morris, the younger of them. He wasn’t bad-looking, overall, but he had the hardness around his eyes and mouth that Cabot recognized as an indicator of nasty temperament.
“What?” Morris snapped.
Cabot wore his most benign, pleasant expression. “How lucky to have caught you in person. I was hoping to schedule a meeting with you.” He paused, smiled knowingly, and added, “A business meeting.”

Available for free at:

Amazon | Apple iTunes | Smashwords


About Zen DiPietro: 

Zen DiPietro is a lifelong bookworm, dreamer, writer, and a mom of two. Perhaps most importantly, a Browncoat Trekkie Whovian. Also red-haired, left-handed, and a vegetarian geek. Absolutely terrible at conforming. A recovering gamer, but we won’t talk about that. Particular loves include badass heroines, British accents, and the smell of Band-Aids. Writing reviews, author interviews, and fun stuff at