New Helen Shepherd Mystery available: Kitchen Witch

If you took a look at the brand-new Indie Crime Fiction of the Month round-up I posted two days ago, you might have noticed that one of the new releases listed was a new Helen Shepherd Mystery. So here is the official new release announcement for Kitchen Witch, the tenth Helen Shepherd Mystery to date (and there are at least two more coming up).

The inspiration for this particular Helen Shepherd Mystery was culinary. For you see, I’m very fond of wild garlic a.k.a. ramsons a.k.a. wood garlic a.k.a. bear garlic, a tasty and healthy leafy herb. Wild garlic is only available for a few weeks in April and early May, so I have it as often as possible when it’s in season. My favourite way of preparing it is lightly sauteeing the leaves in olive oil, tossing them with garlic, tomatoes, olives and red pepper flakes and serving it with pasta. Here’s a pic I took last time I had wild garlic spaghetti.

I buy my wild garlic at the supermarket, but quite a few people forage their own. And so, during wild garlic season, I came across an article that warned of the dangers of mistaking the leaves of autumn crocus or lily of the valley, both of which are highly poisonous, for edible wild garlic. This got my mystery writer’s mind working and wondering what if someone deliberately switched harmless wild garlic leaves for poisonous autumn crocus?

Now there are few things that get a mystery writer’s mind going faster than a good murder method. And so I came up with the story of Eudora Pembroke, herbalist, eccentric and self-styled witch, who ends up dead in her favourite armchair, after eating a wild garlic salad that contains a lethal dose of autumn crocus leaves.

As always, Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd and her team question several witnesses and potential suspects. One of these witnesses/suspects is Tara Willows, owner of a New Age shop. I enjoyed writing Tara a whole lot, so much that I decided to keep her around and give her her own spin-off.

I’m not a “write to market” person at all, but I am interested in genres and subgenres and how they are defined. Now I’ve explained before that the definition of crime and mystery fiction is quite different in Germany and the US and that the definition of “mystery” in the US is much narrower than the definition of “Krimi” a.k.a. “crime fiction” in Germany. As a result, most of the crime shorts collected in Murder in the Family and elsewhere (Murder in the Family, Volume 2 is coming soon BTW) are Krimis, but they’re not mysteries in the US sense. But unfortunately, the crime fiction category at Amazon is something of a wasteland – mystery is where the readers and the sales are. So I tried to write a crime story that would fit into the narrower US definition of mystery and so the Helen Shepherd Mysteries were born.

Now one of the most popular mystery subgenres are cozy mysteries featuring an amateur sleuth, usually a woman, solving mysteries, often using specialist knowledge about cooking, baking, crafts, etc… Cozy mysteries are not easy to come by here in Germany – the crime fiction sections in bookstores are dominated by thrillers and suspense – though I enjoyed the atmosphere and quirky characters of those that I’ve read. I also considered writing one, provided the right protagonist came along. When Helen and DC Walker walked into Tara’s shop to question her, I realised at once that Tara was the amateur sleuth protagonist I’d been waiting for. So look out for the first Tara Willows Mystery soon.

But for now, here is Kitchen Witch, the latest Helen Shepherd Mystery:

Kitchen Witch
Kitchen Witch by Cora BuhlertWhen Eudora Pembroke, a self-styled witch, is found dead in her house after ingesting a poisonous plant, everybody suspects a tragic accident. After all, Eudora was elderly and might have mistaken the poisonous plant for a benign herb.

But Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd is sceptical. Would a skilled herbalist like Eudora Pembroke really make such a beginner’s mistake? And who might have had a motive to poison her?

 

 

More information.
Length: 12500 words
List price: 2.99 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.

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for May 2017

Indie Speculative Fiction of the MonthIt’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 authors newly published this month, though some April books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have urban fantasy, epic fantasy, historical fantasy, Arthurian fantasy, Asian fantasy, dystopian fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, Cyberpunk, space opera, military science fiction, near future science fiction, science fiction romance, fantasy romance, gothic romance, paranormal romance, paranormal mystery, horror, young adult science fiction and fantasy, dragons, vampires, witches, magicians, shamans, mercenaries, superheroes, star dogs, werewolves in space, galactic empires, planetstriders, intergalactic plagues, time travel, telepathic space pirates, killer clones, jackalope wives, kidnapped fae, King Arthur reincarnated 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:

Blue Gold by David BarkerBlue Gold by David Barker:

The near future. Climate change and geopolitical tension have given rise to a new international threat – a world war for water. This most vital of resources has become a precious commodity and some will stop at nothing to control its flow.

When a satellite disappears over Iceland, Sim Atkins thinks he knows why. He is given the chance to join the hallowed Overseas Division and hunt for the terrorists responsible. But his new partner Freda Brightwell is aggrieved to be stuck with a rookie on such a deadly mission.

Freda’s misgivings are well founded when their first assignment ends in disaster – a bomb destroys a valuable airship and those responsible evade capture. Seeking redemption, the British agents follow the trail to a billionaires’ tax haven in the middle of the Atlantic ocean and uncover a web of deceit that threatens global war. Whom can they trust?

As the world edges ever closer to destruction Sim and Freda must put their lives on the line to prevent Armageddon – and protect the future of ‘blue gold’.

Magic Waking by Eva ChaseMagic Waking by Eva Chase:

Die, reincarnate, repeat. It’s been a long fifteen hundred years…

Reborn wizard Emma Hale has three goals in life, or rather lives: Track down the present incarnation of the legendary King Arthur, fend off the shadow creatures that hound him for as long as she can, and break the spell that binds their souls in this morbid cycle.

If only she had a better idea how she’d cast that spell in the first place. And if only Arthur’s current host wasn’t so cocky yet distractingly good-looking. Because Emma is falling even harder for the man she can’t have.

When a fae mercenary with power to rival Emma’s puts her king in his sights, Emma burns through all her tricks just to stay one step ahead. Now her only chance is to find some way to destroy the mercenary before he and his army of dark forces destroy Arthur.

No human Emma’s ever known has managed to kill a fae. But if she can’t, and quickly, this death might be their last.

Looking for a story full of sarcastic wizardry, cruel fae, and a star-crossed love centuries in the making? Scroll up and grab this Arthurian-flavored urban fantasy today!

Starfang by Joyce ChngStarfang: Rise of the Clan by Joyce Chng:

Is a clan captain going to sacrifice everything for her clan? Tasked to kill Yeung Leung by her parents, powerful rival clan leader of the Amber Eyes, Captain Francesca Min Yue sets out across the galaxy to hunt her prey, only to be thrown into a web of political intrigue spreading across the stars. Is Yeung Leung collaborating with the reptilian shishini and playing a bigger game with the galaxy as a price? Is Francesca’s clan at stake? Welcome to Starfang: Rise of the Clan, where merchants and starship captains are also wolves.

“Wolves should not be in space, but here we were, a clan of wolves and merchants. Instead of the preserved forests of New Earth and Noah’s Ark, we were in ships of steel and armor, reading data scans and commanding officers on the bridge. Wolves within the uniform of merchants and mercenaries, human seeming, claws and teeth sheathed.”

– Captain Francesca Ming Yue, of the warship Starfang.

Welcome to Starfang, a space opera with werewolves, politics and intrigue.

Human by Karen DiemHuman by Karen Diem:

Death? Acceptable risk. Taxes? No problem. Ancient magical cutlery of mass destruction? Bad, very bad.
Following a brief foray into the world of superpowered vigilantism, extreme sports enthusiast and halfhearted tax preparer, Zita Garcia, wants her old life, her shiny new abilities, and none of the consequences. She’s even willing to hide her powers since the alternative means endangering her family and living life as a literal lab rat.
Unfortunately, supervillains are searching for the pieces of a decrepit magic dagger, hurting innocents and fueling nasty anti-super protests. Her close friends, who helped before, are barely speaking to her, and one of them stands in the path of the violent hunt for the knife.
Zita better dig out her mask—fast.
Human is the second in the Arca superhero urban fantasy series, and as a movie would be rated “R” for immoderate language, lame sexual innuendo, and comic book violence. While Human can be read as a standalone, it contains spoilers for the first book in the series.

Retrograde Horizon by Charon DunnRetrograde Horizon by Charon Dunn:

A fast-paced epic science fiction adventure set in 3748 on an earth with a very different climate, not to mention configuration, chemistry and composition. For Young Adults and Old Children.

TRIGGER WARNING: contains potentially upsetting material about explosions, terrorists attacking schools, malfunctioning robots, school bullies, mean principals that assign a bunch of extra homework, paparazzi, poverty, affluenza, bad neighborhoods, public transit, precipitous drops in socioeconomic status, police drones, police, clandestine lizard fights, exploding roller coasters, unicorn attack, industrial steam calender malfunction, pissed-off chef with a deep fryer … I’d better stop, I’m starting to get into spoilers and I’m barely into the second chapter.

In volume one, Sonny made his way home. Now he’s in volume two, and those pesky clones are still trying to kill him – or worse. Meanwhile, his family is still trapped in a comfortable suburban development on the clones’ super secret mist-shrounded volcanic island somewhere in the South Pacific. It’s starting to look like he’s going to have to go get them, if he can get past the assassination attempts, and avoid getting distracted by true love.

Toric's Dagger by Jamie EdmundsonToric’s Dagger by Jamie Edmundson:

Toric’s Dagger is just another religious relic, until it’s stolen. Belwynn and her twin brother, Soren, volunteer to lead a team tasked with its retrieval. Drawn into a world of danger and treachery, they must rely on Soren’s magical abilities, and on the telepathic bond they share.

Now, as kingdoms and empires start to fall, the twins confront the dark forces that threaten them. They must not let the Dagger fall into the wrong hands. But when mercenaries, zealots and sorcerers are all hunting for the same weapon, who should they trust?

Book One of The Weapon Takers Saga, an Epic Fantasy Series in the tradition of Tolkien, Tad Williams & GRR Martin

Behind the Lines by Chris Fox:Behind the Lines by Chris Fox:

A brand new adventure in the Void Wraith universe

Mechs, kaiju, epic space battles, and galactic archeology…

The Void Wraith ravaged our galaxy, nearly eradicating both humanity and our enemies, the Tigris. Captain Nolan vowed it would never happen again, that he would find the Void Wraith’s dark masters.

Nolan leads a company of mechs into uncharted space, where a new foe lies in wait. The Coalition’s fleet is destroyed, and Nolan’s squad is stranded behind enemy lines. Between them and escape stand three Planetstriders, thousand meter monstrosities capable of destroying an orbiting capital ship.

In order to survive, they must disable these titanic war machines, an impossible task made even more difficult by the discovery of a terrible secret – one that must reach fleet command, no matter the cost.

Fire Wall by Dana FraserFire Wall by Dana Fraser:

RESIST

The men in the bunkers have sent a hit squad to Cash Bishop’s Tennessee homestead. They want to take his woman—and his life.

RESIST

Hannah Carter just found out that she could be the key to bringing down Project Erebus if she can leave behind everyone she loves and infiltrate the Black Diamond facility.

If she tries, the only guarantee she has is that there will be blood.

RESIST

Cash won’t stand by while Hannah puts herself in danger. Even if he has to drag her complicit brother along by the balls and kill every damned soul inside Black Diamond, he will find and protect the woman he loves.

And bring down the corrupt government that ended America.

RESIST

Jess Rising by D.M GuayJess Rising by D.M. Guay:

Seventeen-year-old Jess Flowers sees the killer in visions. He slaughters the helpless with fire and lightning. And she’s next on the kill list.

Billy Combs is the gorgeous outcast with the electrifying secret. He’s stolen Jess’ heart, but his own past may be darker than he’s let on.

As the body count ticks higher, a growing pile of evidence links Billy to the crimes. Jess’ heart says no, but she’s the new kid in isolated Salt Creek, Ohio, a town with a life-changing secret, a town where people aren’t what they seem, a town where it’s hard to know who to trust.

Can she tame the mysterious powers surging within her and identify the real killer before it’s her turn to die?

Magic Reborn by Carly HansenMagic Reborn by Carly Hansen:

On the run and disguised as a boy, Fenix Graystone finds sanctuary when a witch opens her home, arms her with charmed knives, and transforms her into a fearsome fighter. But when an enigmatic vampire overlord arrives seeking help to solve the murders of three young women, Fenix’s newfound peace shatters.

 

 

 

Black Site by Michael Patrick HicksBlack Site by Michael Patrick Hicks:

Are you prepared to enter the BLACK SITE?

Inside an abandoned mining station, in the depths of space, a team of scientists are seeking to unravel the secrets of humanity’s origin. Using cutting-edge genetic cloning experiments, their discoveries take them down an unimaginable and frightening path as their latest creation proves to be far more than they had bargained for.

Perfect for fans of H.P. Lovecraft and Alien comes a new work of cosmic terror!

Black Site is a short story of approximately 10,000 words.

Sky Dancers by E.E. IsherwoodSky Dancers by E.E. Isherwood

Can discovering sunshine trigger the next apocalypse?

Elle is a typical doomsday bunker teenager, living under the crush of routine. She attends classes, tries to follow the rules, and endures the same petty jealousies and anxieties teens have endured since fire was used as the first hangout. But a crumbling section of tunnel exposes a big lie about her world, and Elle’s life quickly spirals downward.

She’s harassed by the enigmatic Commander. She must ward off unwanted advances from older male survivors. And, as the ultimate insult, everyone seems to know more about her past than she does. Elle seeks freedom in the plague-ravaged wasteland outside her home, but discovers the true threat to her people, and her own future, lies coiled inside the dark tunnels she left behind.

Can Elle uncover and expose the secrets buried with her underground home? Or will they fade away like the memories of everyone who thinks to oppose the Commander?

Sky Dancers is a dystopian read that will have you turning the pages! If you like mysterious wastelands, abandoned bunkers, and strong female leads, you will love the Eternal Apocalypse series!

Shadows of Our Fathers by Rex JamesonShadows of Our Fathers by Rex Jameson:

Imagine a war between angels and demons that extends across our universe. Now, think bigger. Imagine that the fight between Lucifer and Jehovah extends across not only our universe but also involves two more ancient universes filled with demons and the remnants of the proud elven race.

Angels and demons fall as the Great War between Order and Chaos comes to a close. For those who thought Jehovah’s days of smiting stopped in the Old Testament, it’s time to give the devil his due.

In the face of democratic and social reforms, the Chaos Universe struggles with its past while pursuing the future that King Lucifer promises. While the demons thrive, the creator of the Elven universe looks to his own past for the salvation of his favorite immortals. Jehovah’s wife Gaea and son Isaac seek asylum in Chaos as Lucifer and Jehovah have their final, apocalyptic battle.

“Shadows of Our Fathers” is the last book of the Lucifer’s Fall trilogy, and book three in the Primal Patterns series.

Contamination by Patty JansenContamination by Patty Jansen:

Jonathan Bartell is a young man, just out of university, when he signs up for the position of Quarantine Officer at the Orbital Launch Station.

He is part of a crop of students who flocked to study exo-biology when bacteria were discovered on Mars, and who are now all making their living flipping burgers, because the jobs are few and hard to get.

He is lucky to get a job in space, no matter how mundane.

Or so he thinks…

Gaby Larsen is a doctor at the tiny hospital at the space station, and she keeps secrets, not because she wants to keep them, but because she is too scared to share them.

Because out in space, your worst enemies are your fellow travellers.

Prelude to Insurrection by J.C. KangPrelude to Insurrection by J.C. Kang:

Only an orphan half-elf spy can avert a rebellion before it starts.

Jie’s superior senses have made her the perfect lookout. Now, as the adopted daughter of the Black Lotus Clanmaster, she wants to prove her pointed ears aren’t a liability when she’s tasked to infiltrate a rebel lord’s castle.

In this prequel to Songs of Insurrection, Jie must decide between her duty to the emperor and her sense of compassion toward the downtrodden. No matter her choice, it will have explosive consequences for her, the realm, and the upcoming war.

Jackalope Wives and other stories by T. KingfisherJackalope Wives and Other Stories by T. Kingfisher:

Winner of the Nebula and WSFA Short Fiction Awards

From award-winning author T. Kingfisher comes a collection of short stories, including “Jackalope Wives,” “The Tomato Thief,” “Pocosin,” and many others. By turns funny, lyrical, angry and beautiful, this anthology includes two all-new stories, “Origin Story” and “Let Pass The Horses Black,” appearing for the first time in print.

 

Once Giants by Eugene Kirk and Garan MadOnce Giants by Eugene Kirk and Garan Mad:

The future is a no-holds-barred free for all, but all in a day’s work…when you were Once Giants.

The year is 2189, and a wormhole leading to five habitable planets has been discovered, prompting a new global space race. Political undermining and sabotage abound, creating the perfect blend of chaos and opportunity for newly minted NETwork operator Tina Thompson to put her augmented, former pro-wrestler body to the test in the mercenary game.

But her celebrity past isn’t so easy to outrun. And when her infamy botches her latest job in Imperial East Africa, her actions trigger repercussions that affect former rival Shay Santiago as well.

As Tina and Shay both struggle to salvage their lives, a bigger threat looms. A mysterious gravitational anomaly has appeared, threatening to destroy the solar system itself. And Shay’s old high school flame may be the only person on Earth who can stop it.

Richly textured, interweaving narratives introduce new characters and bigger military sci-fi threats in this second installment of Once Giants, offering a thought-provoking look at how one person’s actions can affect the entire world.

The Metaverse by William KurthThe Metaverse: Virtual Life – Real Death by William Kurth:

An FBI Agent more comfortable hunting criminals the old fashioned way. A brilliant scientist who kills using Virtual Reality. And an Artificial Intelligence with an agenda of its own.

The Metaverse, more than the “internet of things,” is a place where humankind has devised a way to comfortably and seamlessly merge the biologic and the digital to the point that neither is readily distinguishable from the other. As people in ever greater numbers choose to live, work and play “In World,” so too do those who prey on their fellow man.

The Metaverse is a fast-paced Crime Thriller that takes place in the not too distant future with technology that even now is a part of our world.

A Dark Inheritance by Erme LanderA Dark Inheritance by Erme Lander

“I do not require your eternal love or devotion Ms Johnson, merely what is inside your veins.”

When Tina Johnson, single mother, forty, wakes up in an isolated castle in Central Europe she simply wants to return to her daughter as quickly as possible. She doesn’t expect to find that she has been kidnapped and brought into a world where power is the key to survival and sanity is an optional extra.
Tina discovers she has been watched for many years, she has a rare genetic structure that makes her attractive to vampires and has the possibility of living for well over a century, if she allows herself to become infected. Kalmár has stolen her and intends to keep her captive, hiding her from both her family and other vampires. She meets Wolfie, his bonded servant, unable to disobey the orders given by his master whether he wishes to or not. Normality becomes a frightening place as Tina struggles to escape those holding her and to fights to keep her daughter, her lover and her freedom.

Pirate Nemesis by Carysa LockePirate Nemesis by Carysa Locke:

Killers. Thieves. Pirates. Family.

Mercy Kincaid is a fugitive from her own family. Her dangerous telepathic gifts make her a target. So is anyone she gets close to. When her best friend is captured and tortured, Mercy’s only hope is to reunite with the family that tried to murder her as a child. She trusts few among her blood relatives, but finds herself intrigued by an enigmatic and dangerous killer.

Reaper has spent a lifetime watching his people die. He’s vowed to kill anyone who jeopardizes their survival. Mercy’s gifts are the biggest threat they’ve faced in eleven years, since a biological weapon nearly annihilated the pirate colonies. But Reaper realizes her talents can either destroy them, or save them. He must decide if he’s fallen victim to her power, or if he can truly trust the beautiful woman and her compelling abilities. If he makes the wrong choice, everyone dies.

Pirate Nemesis is the first book in an ongoing space opera series. If you like compelling world-building, fantastic characters, and romantic adventure, then you’ll love Carysa Locke’s new twist on an old genre.

The Rending by Carol Holland MarchThe Rending by Carol Holland March:

The saga of The Dreamwalkers of Larreta continues . . .

Deadly time rifts threaten Earth and Larreta. The rifts have swallowed people, buildings and the land itself. They must be stopped before the very fabrics of both worlds are torn apart.

Dreamwalker Leo can look backward in time. Jesse can walk into the future. Both of these abilities are needed to create the dangerous truan passage to locate and defeat the mysterious instigator of the rifts.

But Jesse is a volatile newcomer, unable to completely control his abilities. And Leo is still uncertain of his personal feelings for Jesse.

Working past their issues is key to discovering the location where the rifts originate. But the dark force behind the rifts has other plans—ones that won’t allow the two dreamwalkers to remain together. And only together can the rifts be stopped.

Physllis Wong and the Girl who Danced with LightningPhyllis Wong and the Girl Who Danced with Lightning by Geoffrey McSkimming:

When Phyllis Wong’s friend Clement finds a seemingly ordinary old movie poster in an antique shop, little does Phyllis know that the discovery will fling her on a journey into the past … a journey that will lead the brilliant young magician and clever sleuth to a forgotten mystery surrounding one of the most famous stories ever written!

 

 

Moonlight, Roses & Murder by Lori MoultonMoonlight, Roses & Murder by Lori Moulton:

Selina is a woman with a secret and she has been hiding it for a very long time. With her nieces, she runs Luna’s, a nightclub in downtown Seattle, catering to Steampunk and Goth clientele. When someone leaves a body behind her club, she is drawn into a web of mystery and murder. Puncture marks on the body indicate a vampire might be responsible and when more women are killed, a red rose is left by their bodies. As a vampire hunter comes to investigate, Selina wonders, who she can trust…

 

Feral by P.J. PostFeral by P.J. Post:

He’s just a teenager, hollow and lost, looking to keep the past buried, to forget. He surfs the backwash of the westward migration across a dead America; a war-torn desolation devoid of electricity, infrastructure and civilization. It has become a strange and unrecognizable land, rife with the worst of humanity. And his is a life without hope, equally dark and solitary.

Until he meets Feral.

Once was boy, selfish and directionless.

Now is love.

Now is reason.

Now is vengeance.

She is his vow, his purpose, and to save her, he’ll murder the world.

Children of the Shaman by Jessica RydillChildren of the Shaman by Jessica Rydill:

When their aunt is taken ill, thirteen-year old Annat and her brother are sent from their small coastal town to live with their unknown father. Like Annat, Yuda is a Shaman; a Wanderer with magical powers, able to enter other worlds. As Annat learns more about her powers, the children join their father on a remarkable train journey to the frozen north and find a land of mystery and intrigue, threatened by dark forces and beset by senseless murders that have halted construction of a new tunnel. But Annat’s doll, her only remembrance of her dead mother, may hold a dark secret – and when her brother Malchik is kidnapped, Annat and her father must travel onwards to find him before it is too late.

Between uncertain allies, shadowed enemies and hostile surroundings, it is only in the magical kingdom of La Souterraine that they can find answers – and it may be that only a Shaman can save the family and the Goddess.

Missing Things by Hollis ShilohMissing Things by Hollis Shiloh:

Is there a way to save the captive fae?

Jocelyn and Ellis, magicians and life partners, grapple with dilemmas and a miasma of magic and mystery.

Jocelyn searches out magical artifacts, and struggles with the troubling gap in his memories — and the feeling that his and Ellis’s partnership is falling apart.

Meanwhile, Ellis works desperately to dig into a wicked injustice being perpetrated against a kidnapped fae…and finds it may be too much for him to handle alone.

43,000 words
Men of Magic book 2
Very low heat

Rimward Stars by Glynn StewartRimward Stars by Glynn Stewart:

A helpless ally calls for aid
A ruthless enemy strikes without mercy
The fate of empires turns on even the smallest actions

When a minor trade partner sends the Castle Federation a desperate call for aid, they have few resources to spare from their all-consuming war against the Terran Commonwealth. Unwilling to be seen failing their allies but able to spare only a tiny force, Castle sends a hero to command the task group: Captain Kyle Roberts, the Stellar Fox.

Beyond the Rimward frontier of the Federation and its allies, little is as it seems. The pirates are being armed by an outside force, and the politics of these worlds is made deadlier by their poverty. When the Coraline Imperium—the Federation’s oft-difficult ally—sends forces as well, it risks a conflict that could undermine the Alliance protecting them both.

There are deeper games afoot as local schemes play the great powers against each other. Captain Roberts is caught in the chaos as fire and blood explode across the region. There is only one certainty: these Rimward Stars must not fall.

Star Dog Corruption by Lucas C. WheelerStar Dog Corruption by Lucas C. Wheeler:

After the Star Dog Fiasco, as it was termed by the media, Star Dog is joined by Nathan, Nicole, and Clancy while trying to rebuild his life. In the midst of a serial jewel theft and deepening conspiracies, can Star Dog truly fit into society, or will society reject him like a bad organ? Will he be able to stop the thefts and honor his name, or is there something more sinister at work?

 

 

Witch Spelling by A. WoodleyWitch Spelling by A. Woodley:

A fictional tale of witches, warlocks and wizards trying to fit in with the mundane way of life but always fearful of the consequences of being found out, especially after having already been persecuted and driven out of another town previously.
An accidental skirmish between two differing species, (both of which were once witches and warlocks) banished to adjoining worlds in an alternative dimension.

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for May 2017

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

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

Our new releases cover the broad spectrum of crime fiction. We have cozy mysteries, historical mysteries, police procedurals, children’s mysteries, mystery short fiction, paranormal mysteries, psychological thrillers, legal thrillers, crime thrillers, near future crime, yakuza, smugglers, watchmakers, lawyers, vampires, kitchen witches, magician sleuths 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 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:

Kitchen Witch by Cora BuhlertKitchen Witch by Cora Buhlert:

When Eudora Pembroke, a self-styled witch, is found dead in her house after ingesting a poisonous plant, everybody suspects a tragic accident. After all, Eudora was elderly and might have mistaken the poisonous plant for a benign herb.

But Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd is sceptical. Would a skilled herbalist like Eudora Pembroke really make such a beginner’s mistake? And who might have had a motive to poison her?

This is a mystery novelette of 12500 words or approximately 45 print pages.

Tools of the Trade by Cynthia E. HurstTools of the Trade by Cynthia E. Hurst:

He’s considered a heretic. She’s a 13-year-old thief. Jacob Silver and Sarah Simm are mistrusted by the residents of their Cotswold market town even before the suspicious death of wealthy merchant Thomas Martyn – a man with the power to destroy both of them. But a secret night visit, a hidden scandal and a second murder mean that the two outsiders on the fringes of society are now thrust into the spotlight. Can they discover the truth others have missed – or concealed?
‘Tools of the Trade’ is the first novel in the Silver and Simm Victorian Mysteries series.

Impulse Spy by Carrie Ann KnoxImpulse Spy by Carrie Ann Knox:

Studious grad student Quinn’s orderly world is shaken up when she meets mysterious stranger Sloan McKenzie, private investigator and man-dazzler extraordinaire. And she wants Quinn’s help.

It turns out a little espionage may be just what Quinn needs. And she finds that she can even use her hearing loss to her advantage. But when a target of their surveillance turns up dead, and Quinn realizes she may have unwittingly played a role, she may be forced to put her future career–or her life–on the line to uncover the truth and keep other innocent bystanders from harm.

The Metaverse by William KurthThe Metaverse: Virtual Life – Real Death by William Kurth:

An FBI Agent more comfortable hunting criminals the old fashioned way. A brilliant scientist who kills using Virtual Reality. And an Artificial Intelligence with an agenda of its own.

The Metaverse, more than the “internet of things,” is a place where humankind has devised a way to comfortably and seamlessly merge the biologic and the digital to the point that neither is readily distinguishable from the other. As people in ever greater numbers choose to live, work and play “In World,” so too do those who prey on their fellow man.

The Metaverse is a fast-paced Crime Thriller that takes place in the not too distant future with technology that even now is a part of our world.

Physllis Wong and the Girl who Danced with LightningPhyllis Wong and the Girl Who Danced with Lightning by Geoffrey McSkimming:

When Phyllis Wong’s friend Clement finds a seemingly ordinary old movie poster in an antique shop, little does Phyllis know that the discovery will fling her on a journey into the past … a journey that will lead the brilliant young magician and clever sleuth to a forgotten mystery surrounding one of the most famous stories ever written!

 

 

Moonlight, Roses & Murder by Lori MoultonMoonlight, Roses & Murder by Lori Moulton:

Selina is a woman with a secret and she has been hiding it for a very long time. With her nieces, she runs Luna’s, a nightclub in downtown Seattle, catering to Steampunk and Goth clientele. When someone leaves a body behind her club, she is drawn into a web of mystery and murder. Puncture marks on the body indicate a vampire might be responsible and when more women are killed, a red rose is left by their bodies. As a vampire hunter comes to investigate, Selina wonders, who she can trust…

 

Hidden Defendant by Rachel SinclairHidden Defendant by Rachel Sinclair:

Harper’s uncle, Jack Calhoun, has been charged with murdering a priest. Jack has no idea if he killed the priest or not. All that he knows is that he woke up in the rectory, holding a knife, with a priest covered in blood at his feet.

It soon become apparent that Jack is not who he seems. He’s not the man who Harper grew up with. He’s become something else. Somebody else. It’s possible that he really killed Father Malone – Harper must come to terms with the reality.

As Harper gets further into the case, she’s never quite sure exactly what happened. She doesn’t want to believe that her beloved uncle would be capable of such a crime.

All signs point to Jack as the murderer.

Did he do it?

With the twists and turns that you’ve come to expect from a Rachel Sinclair legal thriller, this tightly-paced story is not to be missed!

Better than Suicide by Amy TasukadaBetter Than Suicide by Amy Tasukada:

A bag of drugs. A twisted cop. A mob on the verge of self-destruction…

Nao Murata is the new Godfather of the Matsukawa syndicate. When Detective Yamada confronts Nao over a dead drug dealer, the Nao knows his organization isn’t responsible. The Matsukawa doesn’t deal drugs… or does it?

When Nao discovers drugs in a locker owned by his syndicate, he no longer knows who to trust. With the police bearing down on the Matsukawa, Nao must make unlikely allies to find out the truth. Can he discover who is betraying him before time runs out, or will everyone suffer for a crime he didn’t commit?

Better Than Suicide is the second book in a Japanese mafia thriller series. If you like complex plots, gripping suspense, and splash of gay romance, then you’ll love the next installment in Amy Tasukada’s Yakuza Path series.

The Girl in the Darkness by John TriptychThe Girl in the Darkness by John Triptych:

Brenda DeVoe lives a lonely, quiet life in a secluded house by the backwoods of Virginia. Her days are spent working as a volunteer at the local animal shelter, caring for unwanted and injured pets. Once the toast of their small town, Brenda and her husband Jeff were destined for great things until one fateful night, when their young daughter disappeared without a trace. Their marriage soon fell apart and they separated, each to live out their damaged lives as best they could. Years later, Brenda finds something familiar when an injured cat is brought into the shelter, and the nightmares that she had once left behind are now returning … with a vengeance.

If you like the pulse pounding novels of Mary Higgins Clark, Gillian Flynn, Kathy Reichs, Tami Hoag and Paula Hawkins, then have a look at this newest psychological suspense thriller by John Triptych!

Ferrying Riches by A. WoodleyFerrying Riches by A. Woodley:

Gabe and Derry Thomson were twin brothers looking for a new life, in a new town, where they found themselves mixed up in the type of criminality that they’d only ever seen in films before.

 

 

 

 

Murder Melange by A. WoodleyMurder Melange by A. Woodley:

20 fictional murder short stories.

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Introducing the Indie Crime Scene

Many of you will know that in addition to the Pegasus Pulp blog and my personal blog, I also co-run the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a blog for all things indie SFF, together with Jessica Rydill.

Talking of which, I totally forgot to mention that Jessica and I have been interviewed at Joshua Pantalleresco’s Just Joshing podcast last month, where we talk about our books and our writing as well as about the Speculative Fiction Showcase. You can listen to the episode in question here.

Anyway, this weekend I was getting Kitchen Witch, the next Helen Shepherd Mystery, ready for publication. I went looking for places to promote the new release, basically for the crime and mystery equivalent of the Speculative Fiction Showcase. However, I found nothing along those lines. So I thought, “Hey, why don’t I just create my own crime and mystery promo site?” And so the Indie Crime Scene was born.

So what is the Indie Crime Scene? Eventually, I hope that it will become for the crime, mystery and thriller genres what the Speculative Fiction Showcase is for SFF, a place where you can look up new indie releases and read author interviews. There’ll be a regular link round-up as well.

What sort of books will the Indie Crime Scene feature? As explained here, my definition of crime fiction is fairly broad and encompasses not just classic mysteries, from cozy to hardboiled, and detective fiction, but also noir, suspense, both romantic and otherwise, and thrillers.

I’ve already had some submissions and the first new release spotlight will be posted tomorrow. So if you’re interested in mysteries, crime fiction and thrillers, check out the Indie Crime Scene.

Indie Crime Scene

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for April 2017

Indie Speculative Fiction of the MonthIt’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 authors newly published this month, though some February books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have urban fantasy, epic fantasy, Asian fantasy, dystopian fiction, Cyberpunk, space opera, military science fiction, science fiction western, science fiction romance, paranormal romance, horror, dragons, werewolves, third twins, mindjackers, bounty hunters, FBI witches, alien invasions, galactic empires, intergalactic animal rescues, genetically engineered tiger supersoldiers 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:

The Rogue Prince by Lindsay BurokerThe Rogue Prince by Lindsay Buroker

Starseer, pilot, and animal lover Jelena Marchenko wants to prove to her parents that she’s ready to captain her own freighter and help run the family business. When she finally talks them into getting a second ship and letting her fly it, it doesn’t faze her that the craft is decades old and looks like a turtle. This is the chance she’s craved for years.

But it’s not long before the opportunity to rescue mistreated lab animals lures her from her parentally approved cargo run and embroils her in a battle between warring corporations. To further complicate matters, her childhood friend Thorian, prince of the now defunct Sarellian Empire, is in trouble with Alliance law and needs her help.

Torn between her duty to her family and doing what she believes is honorable, Jelena is about to learn that right and wrong are never as simple as they appear and that following your heart can get you killed.

Broken Wolf by Stacy ClaflinBroken Wolf by Stacy Claflin:

The wolf essence stone—finding it could free werewolves from the curse of the moon. Or it could kill them all.

Victoria has burned with “the fever” to find the stone since hearing about it. Hundreds of werewolves before her have died in the quest. That legacy doesn’t deter her, though. She’s willing to risk anything to find the stone and break the curse that forces them to shift every full moon. Her obsession compels her to travel to Iceland, where she feels the stone calling to her. Pulling her toward it. If only she knew the ancient evil residing inside.

Toby fears the changes in his beloved Victoria. He sets out to find the one person who might be able to help—Soleil, a Valkyrie with incredible power and vast knowledge about essence stones. But even she may not be enough to stop the carnage Victoria is about to set loose on the world.

Victoria has a strong connection to both the stone and danger behind it. Will she be able to end the curse of the moon, or will the stone destroy them all?

USA Today bestselling author, Stacy Claflin, brings you Broken Wolf, the fourth book in the Curse of the Moon series. It’s a paranormal romantic suspense saga that features gripping supernatural drama, surprising twists, dynamic characters, and heart-pounding romance. For the best reading experience, follow the series in order.

Eye of theTiger by Michael-Scott EarleEye of the Tiger by Michael-Scott Earle:

Imprisoned and subjected to brutal genetic experiments, space marine Adam has been changed into a perfect predator. A super soldier that is part man, part tiger, and all killing machine.

When his latest mission has an unexpected outcome, Adam finds himself free of his explosive control collar and honor bound to protect a mysterious woman. Now he is on an alien planet, and they are both being hunted by the most powerful mega corporation in the solar system. Their only escape lays at the helm of an experimental starship hidden beyond countless layers of military security.

All Adam has is his military training, sense of honor, and a beautiful woman who needs to drink blood to live.

It is time to let the tiger out.

Scions of the Star Empire by Athena GraysonScions of the Star Empire: Scandal by Athena Grayson

When a princess who’s no stranger to scandal runs afoul of the secrets of the most powerful cabal on Landfall, even her crown can’t protect her from the consequences.

They can have anything they want…except a future.
Nothing infuriates Princess Ione Ra more than having someone else take control of her reputation from her, and her old nemesis–gossip journalist Jaris Pulne–is poised to do just that with pilfered pics of her caught in a compromising position with her power-couple partner. As someone who’s no stranger to manipulating the markets on her own social life, Ione knows the wrong scandal means social suicide.

Privilege is a prison…
For the other half of the power couple, Den Hades, his survival has depended on staying in his powerful father’s shadow in order to protect his secrets. But on the very night of his one chance to earn a shot at becoming a Scion–and freedom from his father’s ambitions, scandal threatens to tear him from Ione, or worse–force them together before their time.

Symphony of Fates by J.C. KangSymphony of Fates by J.C. Kang:

Kaiya escapes her ordeal at the hands of the Teleri Emperor, only to return to a homeland beset by enemies on all sides, and crumbling from within.

As a teenager, she quelled a rebellion with the Dragon Scale Lute. As a young adult, she vanquished a dragon with the power of her voice.

Now, robbed of her magic by grief, Kaiya must navigate a web of court intrigue to save the realm before it falls. Only she can lay claim to the Dragon Throne on behalf of her unborn sons—whether the father is the lover who perished rescuing her, or the hated enemy who killed him.

In the final story in Kaiya’s saga, she must rally a nation, repel invaders, and prove to the world why her family alone holds the Mandate of Heaven.

Edge of War by Anthony MelchiorriEdge of War by Anthony Melchiorri

Humanity’s expansion into the stars has led to awe-inspiring discoveries—and terrifying new threats. An insidious alien race is waging an interstellar war, enslaving any civilization they encounter to carry out their galactic rampage. Now they have set their sights on mankind.

Tag Brewer is a medical scientist. Not a ship’s captain. But as humanity’s survival hangs in the balance, he must lead a ragtag crew of humans, a skeptical alien, and a synthetic lifeform into the depths of enemy territory. There he forms an uneasy alliance with a group of aliens—the Mechanics—fleeing from the destruction.

There is only one way to track down and stop their frightening new adversaries. Tag must follow the trail of devastation left behind in the fallen Mechanic empire. There he hopes to recruit other survivors to their cause. But what Tag and his crew find is far more dangerous than any of them thought possible.

Witness Enchantment by T.S. PaulWitness Enchantment by T.S. Paul:

The Magical Crimes Division of the FBI has been loaned out to WITSEC to help protect a very valuable witness. The only problem is they don’t like FBI Agents and refuse to allow them to take him. Agatha and her charge are plagued with Magickal Assassins, Evil Witches, and Fergus her Mini Unicorn. What is one Witch to do when even members of your own family are trying to kill you?

 

 

Locked Tight by Susan Kaye QuinnLocked Tight by Susan Kaye Quinn

In a world filled with mindreaders, being a mindjacker is a good way to end up dead.
And Zeph is no ordinary jacker.

He can break open the toughest minds—or lock the weakest ones—but that just makes him a weapon every jacker Clan wants to control. To keep his family of mindreaders safe, Zeph does what his Clan leader says and tries to shut out the screams—but when jackers are revealed to the world, he has no choice but to hug his kid sister goodbye and leave home.

Passing for a reader is something Zeph does well, but when readers start changing into jackers and his family disappears, Zeph must return to a city filled with jackers who hate him, trick a mindware CEO into helping him, avoid a girl who knows him too well, and spy on the most powerful jacker in the state.

All without dying or revealing his abilities—or being caught in the firestorm of hate between jackers and readers that’s threatening to pull the world apart.

Second Time Charm by Hollis ShilohSecond Time Charm by Hollis Shiloh

I’ve wanted to work with a wolf partner for as long as I can remember. This is my third — and final — chance of being chosen by one.

You know what they say. Be careful what you wish for.

I had no idea wolves could be as broken as my new partner is. He has an intense phobia of dogs, his attitude reeks, he barely knows how to take care of himself, and doesn’t care about much of anything — except having lots of sex.

That’s the best thing about our partnership, the sex. But sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it. I don’t know how to fix this. He’s difficult, annoying, handsome as hell…and I don’t want to give him up.

My dream come true is starting to feel like a nightmare. But the one he’s living turns out to be far worse.

A shifters and partners novel

The Third Twin by Darren SpeegleThe Third Twin by Darren Speegle

Some things should never be bred…

Barry Ocason, extreme sportsman and outdoor travel writer, receives a magazine in his mailbox and opens to an ad for an adventure in the Bavarian Alps. Initially dismissing the invitation, which seems to have been meant specifically for him, he soon finds himself involved in a larger plot and seeking answers to why an individual known only as the elephant man is terrorizing his family.

Barry and his daughter Kristen, who survived a twin sister taken from the family at a young age, travel from Juneau, Alaska to the sinister Spider Festival in Rio Tago, Brazil, before he ultimately answers the call to Bavaria, where the puzzle begins to come together.

Amid tribulation, death, madness, and institutionalization, a document emerges describing a scientist’s bloody bid to breed a theoretical “third twin,” which is believed to have the potential, through its connection with its siblings, to bridge the gulf between life and afterlife. The godlike creature that soon emerges turns out to be Barry’s own offspring, and she has dark plans for the world of her conception that neither her father nor any other mortal can stop.

Mercury's Bane by Nick WebbMercury’s Bane by Nick Webb:

They’re all gone. We remember them like yesterday: pieces of our stolen heritage. Things like NASA. Football. Parades and pies. Good things, comfortable things. We remember a time when we were alone in the universe, safe and oblivious.

But it’s all gone now.

We called them the Telestines, and in the face of their ruthless invasion we were powerless. By 2040, all the world’s governments and militaries had fallen, and the remnants of humanity exiled to the solar system. We looked down on our blue planet, so close to our birthplace, so close to our home. But the miles may as well have been lightyears.

Our anger smoldered in the darkness of space. On Mars. On Ganymede. In the dank crowded filth of the asteroids. We swore: we will take our planet back.

And today, it begins. Our fleet is ready. Our soldiers determined.

Earth will be ours again.

Coil Hunter by Dean F. WilsonCoilhunter by Dean F. Wilson:

Welcome to the Wild North, a desolate wasteland where criminals go to hide—if they can outlast the drought and the dangers of the desert. Or the dangers of something else.

Meet Nox, the Coilhunter. A mechanic and toymaker by trade, a bounty hunter by circumstance. He isn’t in it for the money. He’s in it for justice, and there’s a lot of justice that needs to be paid.

Between each kill, he’s looking for someone who has kept out of his crosshairs for quite a while—the person who murdered his wife and children. The trail has long gone cold, but there are changes happening, the kind of changes that uncover footprints and spent bullet casings.

Plagued by nightmares, he’s made himself into a living one, the kind the criminals and conmen fear.

So, welcome, fair folk, to the Wild North. If the land doesn’t get you, the Coilhunter will.

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for March 2017

Indie Speculative Fiction of the MonthIt’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 authors newly published this month, though some February books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have urban fantasy, epic fantasy, Asian fantasy, space opera, military science fiction, near future science fiction, post-apocalyptic science fiction, dystopian fiction, science fiction romance, time travel, horror, dragons, vampires, witches, ghosts, superheroes, aiens, robots, artificial intelligences, cyborg bounty hunters, supersoldiers, mutant assassins, galactic empires, Martian judgements, intergalactic prison breaks, radioactive wastelands, lake monsters, murder mysteries in space 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:

Wisps of Spider Silk, First Thread by Athena AndreadisWisps of Spider Silk – First Thread by Athena Andreadis:

Wisps of Spider Silk, First Thread is a diptych of two interlinked space opera stories (“The Stone Lyre” and “The Wind Harp”) that tell of interplanetary cultures in conflict — and in perilous alliances — over psychic talents and the dominance they can confer.

These two stories are wisps of a vast nebula. In this universe the Minoan civilization partly recovered from the Thera explosion and some of its descendants eventually took to the stars, as did their adversaries. This is the universe of “Dry Rivers” and “Planetfall” which appeared in Crossed Genres in 2009.

Traitor by Krista D. BallTraitor by Krista D. Ball:

Seven years ago, Rebecca St. Martin took the coward’s path to save her skin. She has lived with that decision, eking out a life as an indentured servant on a space station far from home. Only now, fate has decided to give Rebecca another chance. A ghost from her past plans to execute a daring rescue from the prison bowels of the station Rebecca now works.

Rebecca has to face the same decision she made all those years ago. Could she watch her friends be murdered? Or could she, just for once, be a hero?

Aletheia by J.S. BreukelaarAletheia by J.S. Breukelaar:

Deep below the island, something monstrous lies waiting for Thettie, and it knows her name.

“Family and small town desires and secrets simmer in J. S. Breukelaar’s melancholy and affecting mix of literary, noir, and horror by the lake. ALETHEIA is a compelling 21st century ghost story. Don’t lose your Gila monster!” — Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and Disappearance at Devil’s Rock.

The remote lake town of Little Ridge has a memory problem. There is an island out on the lake somewhere, but no one can remember exactly where it is—and what it has to do with the disappearance of the eccentric Frankie Harpur or the seven-year-old son of a local artist, Lee Montour.

When Thettie Harpur brings her family home to find Frankie, she faces opposition from all sides—including from the clan leader himself, the psychotic Doc Murphy.

Lee, her one true ally in grief and love, might not be enough to help take on her worst nightmare. The lake itself.

A tale of that most human of monsters—memory—Aletheia is part ghost story, part love story, a novel about the damage done, and the damage yet to come. About terror itself. Not only for what lies ahead, but also for what we think we have left behind.

Dead World by Cora BuhlertDead World by Cora Buhlert:

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 eke out a living on the independent worlds of the galactic rim, while attempting to stay under the radar of those pursuing them.

When they are hired to retrieve a weapons prototype from an abandoned planet, it seems like a routine job. But it quickly turns out that the planet is not as empty as they had thought. And soon, Anjali and Mikhail find themselves caught in a deadly chase across a radioactive wasteland.

This is a novella of 27500 words or approx. 95 print pages in the “In Love and War” series, but may be read as a standalone.

The Bay of Sins by J.D. ByrneThe Bay of Sins by J.D. Byrne:

The war is over, but nothing is settled.

On the Neldathi side of the Water Road the clans are slowly pulling apart following a sudden murder. Hirrek is tasked with getting to the bottom of a mystery: was this killing the random act of a violent, unstable man? Or was it something more sinister, a hint of what the Neldathi thought they’d defeated during the war? The unity won in blood may be slipping away.

In the rebuilding city of Innisport, life is returning to something like normal. That’s largely due to Mida, given the task of rebuilding the city by Antrey Ranbren herself. After Mida hands power over to the Guild of Politicians, she finds herself on trial for her life, charged with treason and being a collaborator. Along the way she meets someone, a curious remnant of the war, who makes her rethink the way she sees those that destroyed her city.

In the meantime, Antrey returns from exile, escaping to the wilderness of Telebria. She gains new allies, including Rurek, and a new foe, the Sentinel Faerl. He’s best known among the other Sentinels as the man who let Antrey slip away once before, getting all his men killed in the process. Now he has a chance for redemption and revenge. But Antrey is willing to do anything to ensure that her legacy does not slip away.

The chase is on, as the saga of The Water Road barrels toward its explosive conclusion.

The Boy with the Blue Sky by N.C. DavisThe Boy With The Blue Sky by N.C. Davis:

How far would you go to bring back a loved one from the dead?

Theo returned her stare. ‘It’s not just a program.’
‘Then what the hell is it?’ she said.
‘It’s a digital reconstruction of our son.’

On the anniversary of their young son’s death, teacher Eury can only find peace by descending into an electronically-induced world of dreamless sleep.

Her husband Theo, a music lecturer, is at the end of his tether and has tried everything he can think of to drag Eury out of the darkness. So, in a final act of desperation he acquires software that can digitally resurrect their child.

Will it bring Eury back to him or will the shock drive her deeper into a world of endless slumber?

The Boy with the Blue Sky is a story that shines a light on the steady creep of technology, into the most intimate parts of our lives.

Starbound by J.J. GreenStarbound by J.J. Green:

Humanity has colonized Mars and invented interstellar travel—joining the thousands of alien races that explore the deepest reaches of the galaxy.

Jas Harrington is the sole survivor of a Martian colony disaster. After growing up in institutions on Mars and Earth, she travels to Antarctica to train as a deep space security operative. All she wants is to graduate college and escape her past, but it isn’t long before she faces familiar prejudice against returned colonists.

Jas must navigate aggression, bigotry, and the frozen Antarctic wastes if she’s to fulfil her dreams.

For once, fighting her way out of her problems isn’t an option, until it is.

Prequel to the 10-book space opera serial, Shadows of the Void.

Prominence by A.C. Hadfield and Colin F. BarnesProminence by A.C. Hadfield and Colin F. Barnes:

They tried to destroy our planets. Our way of life. They tried to send us into extinction. But we, the Coalition, fought them and won. That was a decade ago. We had assumed they were beaten for good.

We were wrong.

They’re known as the Host: a cabal of aliens seeking to dominate our sector of space. And they’re back—with help from a powerful new enemy.

Against their wrath, we must stand. We’re outnumbered and unprepared. If we lose, we lose everything.

But there is hope. An ancient race of long-dead but technologically advanced aliens called the Navigators have a ship called the Blackstar that could potentially turn the tide. That is if I, Kai Locke, a humble ship racer, can find it and learn how to harness its power in time.

If I fail, the Coalition will fall, and the Host will consign us to a distant memory. I refuse to let that happen. I will fight to my last breath for the Coalition’s survival.

Simon Rising by Brian D. HowardSimon Rising by Brian D. Howard:

Five years ago, an alien ship crashed into the bay. Since then, vigilantes and criminals with extraordinary powers increasingly dominate headlines.

A man wakes up in the hospital with no memory. He’s told he is Steve Ambrose, a serial bank robber who was shot while being arrested. Everything changes when he discovers he has telekinetic powers. Hunted by FBI Special Agent Rachel Moore, and with unknown enemies around every corner, can he change who he is, or is the dark criminal everyone accuses him of being too deeply a part of his nature to escape?

The Enemy Within by Patty JansenAmbassador 6: The Enemy Within by Patty Jansen:

Two men went on a surfing trip in a remote area. Only one came back, accused of murdering the other.

Sounds simple, right?

Not quite, because the alleged murder happened on another planet, the accused is a member of the secretive Pretoria Cartel of super-rich business tycoons–with illegal off-Earth ventures–and the only person who can remotely be called a witness is an alien, the elder Abri from the Pengali Thousand Islands tribe.
Diplomat Cory Wilson is asked to accompany Abri to the Nations of Earth court, but when he and his team arrive there, their contacts have been moved to different cases, their rooms are bugged and their movements restricted. No one is answering their questions, but it is when a lawyer is murdered and Cory’s team captures a mysterious stalker that things get interesting.

Just as well they are prepared in the usual way: alert and highly armed.

Dances of Deception by J.C. KangDances of Deception by J.C. Kang:

An invincible empire threatens to invade Cathay, and only a Dragon Song can ensure peace.

After vanquishing the Last Dragon with the power of her voice, all Kaiya wants is a quiet life of anonymity. Instead, the Emperor sends her to negotiate peace with the aggressive Teleri Empire.

The critical mission reunites her with her childhood friend Tian, now an assassin-spy who loathes killing. He is no longer the adorable, gullible boy from her memories, any more than she is the adventurous, sweet girl from his. Instead of rekindling nostalgia for a youthful innocence they both yearn for, their reunion ignites a mutual hatred.

When the Teleri Empire breaks off talks, Tian must help Kaiya escape. Orcs, Ogres, and enemy soldiers stand between them and home, and their volatile relationship could get them captured… or killed.

Chameleon Uncovered by B.R. KingsolverChameleon Uncovered by B.R. Kingsolver

The dark sequel to the best-selling Chameleon Assassin.

Libby has a chance to build a legitimate reputation when she’s hired by one of the world’s most prestigious museums to bolster their security. The gig is in Chicago, where her heartthrob lives, so she hopes for a little romance.

She’s on a first-name basis with larceny, mayhem, and death, but Libby’s not used to being on the receiving end. Chicago is far darker and more dangerous than her native Toronto. Amidst terrorist bombings, stolen treasure, and murder, a mutant prophet calls for revolution. Away from her family and friends, Libby has nowhere to turn as enemies assault her from all sides.

Their mistake. Libby is a dangerous enemy.

2184: Beneath the Steel City by Ben Lovejoy2184: Beneath the Steel City by Ben Lovejoy:

In London 2184, the government monitors every move its citizens make, logs every action, notes every visit, supervises every communication, penalises the slightest transgression with all the warmth and sympathy of a hungry piranha.

Computer tech David Lafferty has grown tired of living beneath the crushing weight of a billion petty rules, and decided it was time to create his own rules in an underground life beneath the steel city. Aided by Saira, a Self-propelled Artificially Intelligent Robot Assistant, and a small circuit board stolen from the government, all is going well until an unknown adversary appears to have learned his every secret …

The Cosmic City by Brian K. LoweThe Cosmic City by Brian K. Lowe:

In the conclusion to The Stolen Future trilogy, Keryl Clee finds himself at the center of a crisis which could mean the destruction not only on Earth, but of Time itself. Hostages of a time-traveling madman who is creating an army from the past to conquer the world of the future, before Clee and Lady Maire can defeat him they must come to grips with the shocking truth behind the 300-year-old Nuum invasion of Earth.

Beset by new and powerful enemies, betrayed by the Council of Nobles itself, Keryl Clee has one last chance to unite the peoples of Earth–Nuum and Thoran, human and non-human alike–because even he is powerless against those who are coming from beyond the stars to reach…The Cosmic City.

Insurgence by Lori Ann Ramsay:

Earth’s last hope relied on the mission to Xeoron, to save the captive from the horrid alien virus that claimed so many lives and plagued mankind for over three centuries. The mission would also set those bound on the alien planet free, even if it meant giving their own lives. The team had trained most of their lives for the mission, with many entering the Academy of Space Exploration as young as twelve years old. Now the launch propelled their starship into space at warp speed to a planetary system on the other side of the galaxy. The team sought to free the humans held captive there, whether dead or alive and to bring back a cure to save mankind and to save planet Earth from an alien invasion and annihilation. But the underlying possibility of captivity on Xeoron and failure to complete the mission hung in the air, would they succeed in saving Earth and mankind?

Insurgence is the first book of The Realm of Xeoron series. A space opera sci-fi series with genetic engineering, colonization on an alien planet, and contact with aliens.

Prison Break by Jim RudnickPrison Break by Jim Rudnick:

The Warlord Noriega, once captured is now being tried for the destruction of the Barony destroyer the Gibraltar with hundreds of casualties. But his lawyers are claiming that the Confederacy does not have jurisdiction and that is the court cases that begin with this tale. Added is the threat from the largest Warlord, Konoe, that if the Confederacy does sentence Noriega to life, then that constitutes a declaration of war with his realm.

The Barony is also now a part of the investigations over on Birdland, where the Duke and Duchess are discovering more about the mysterious ball-birds–and why they seem to be important even though the knowledge about them is scant. This however is also a factor in the new dissolution of the partnership between the Duke, the Baroness and the Caliph. With all the Xithricite that is currently known on the RIM, the Caliph and his new admiral are formidable powers on the RIM.

As the Warlord is sentenced to life on Halberd the lawyers file with the RIM Confederacy Supreme Court and yet the Warlord Konoe will not wait, and tries to break Noriega out of the prison planet–something that has never happened before. Ships clash and battles occur as the breakout rises to Pike Station up above the prison and threaten the security of the RIM Confederacy too…

Blood Hunt by Izzy ShowsBlood Hunt by Izzy Shows:

Wizard without a license. Defender of London.

The Hunter in the Darkness. Not a title I wanted, but that’s who I am now. Vampires are trying to destroy my city. We’re one mistake away from the world knowing about magic, but the vampires don’t care. They just crave their next fix. I have to stop them, but I can’t risk using the demonic powers I have. Whatever lurks inside me, it’s dark, and it’s hungry. I will find a way to fight on my own.

Vampires are not the only evil in this world.

Judgment of Mars by Glynn StewartJudgment of Mars by Glynn Stewart:

A war fought in the shadows
A conspiracy shattered in fire
A moment of weakness…
When politics are played for blood.

The destruction of the secret archive of the Royal Order of Keepers on Mars has left Damien Montgomery, Hand of the Mage-King, with his enemies defeated, his lover dead—and his questions unanswered.

When he seeks out the remaining Keepers for answers, he discovers only violence and death in their strongholds. Someone else is hunting down the survivors to make sure they never answer Damien’s questions—or anyone else’s.

As a wave of murder sweeps Mars and the consequences of the Keepers’ conspiracy sink home, Damien is summoned before the Council of the Protectorate to answer for the deaths of two other Hands. In the political heart of the Protectorate of Mars, he finds he may be forced to choose between honoring the oaths he swore and preserving the survival of the Protectorate itself!

Team Guardian by Naomi StoneTeam Guardian by Naomi Stone:

This collection includes the three Team Guardian adventures: Sweet Mercy, Safe Haven and Shining Hope.

When a probability bomb exploded in the heartlands of the US, no one couldhave predicted the results. Spreading chaos was the point of using a probability bomb. Thousands died. Others were gifted with strange powers. Ten years later the world had become a different place.

When Rachel Connolly — a Reverse Empath — and Franklin Luke Delano (Fluke) — a Probability Talent — meet in the course of capturing a would-be bomber, they have little time to explore their powerful connection before they must draw a mad Puppet Master into the open.

Beth Talbot’s psychometry Talent is a curse as well as a blessing, making Time for her less a smoothly-flowing river than a storm-tossed ocean. She sees David Connolly as a rock of stability in that maelstrom, with his Talent for neutralizing other Talents like hers. But how can she even try to turn his attention her way when everyone on Team Guardian needs him, especially with amad Talent out to take control of the entire world’s computing – and banking -systems.

Maybe Tom could have called on another Illusionist to help in the hunt, but Sophia Alvarez is the best, and she’s been on his mind since the last mission they worked together. Tom takes on the authority and responsibilities of leading the Team – in time to join the FBI in tracking down a rogue Talent behind a string of killings they believe the work of a vigilante Talent bent on destroying sexual predators.

The Piranha Solution by John TriptychThe Piranha Solution by John Triptych:

In the near future, a new space race begins. Private industry is now pushing the limits of human exploration and colonization. NASA has changed its mandate into a regulatory agency to oversee all US-based corporations and individuals involved in interplanetary expansion.

Stilicho Jones always has his hands full while working as a personal troubleshooter for eccentric trillionaire Errol Flux and his numerous cutting edge space projects. When a mysterious and potentially deadly situation threatens the colonies on Mars, Stilicho must team up with a feisty NASA special agent in a race against time to avert a looming catastrophe that could end any hope of inhabiting the Red Planet.

Check out The Piranha Solution. If you were ever inspired by the NASA Space Program, Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars, Robert Zubrin’s The Case for Mars, or Andy Weir’s The Martian, then have a look at this newest, edge of your seat technothriller!

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Of narrative catnip, cultural taste differences, telling my own stories and a new “In Love and War” novella: Dead World

As many of you probably know, I currently have two space opera series going on: The Shattered Empire series and the In Love and War series. Both are stories of rebellion and of fighting an unjust system, because such stories are narrative catnip to me to the point that my personal definition of science fiction once included “there is a rebellion or a struggle against an all powerful system” as a crucial ingredient of SF.

Shattered Empire tells the story of a political rebellion against the typical evil SF empire. The focus is very much on the various characters, their stories and their reasons for joining the rebellion, but overall it’s mainly a story of a political rebellion.

In Love and War is different. It also has an evil galactic regime or rather two of them, the Republic of United Planets and the Empire of Worlds, and protagonists rebelling against them. However, Ajali and Mikhail’s rebellion is personal rather than political. They are not trying to overthrow their respective regimes and free the galaxy from oppression. No, all they want is to be left alone to spend their lives together in peace.

Of course, it doesn’t quite work out that way, for starters because both regimes pursue them relentlessly, though the Republic is a tad more enthusiastic about it. What is more, Anjali and Mikhail – being the sort of people they are – cannot just stand idly by, while others are in danger. And so they hop from planet to planet, trying to survive and stay one step ahead of their pursuers, while helping those in need.

I write a bit more about the background of the In Love and War series, what inspired it and what I want to do with it here, here and here.

In short, I had two characters I enjoyed spending time with, the potential for many adventures featuring those characters and what I thought was a compelling overall story arc full of cultural clashes, forbidden love, the conflict of love versus duty, heroic sacrifices, characters standing up against an unjust system and choosing to do the right thing, even if it could cost them everything. I had two lonely people overcoming their troubled past and finding companionship, love and a purpose in life. I also had two characters who roam the universe, helping others in need and solving those people’s problems (and eventually aquiring a makeshift family in the process), while remaining permanently on the run and unable to solve their own. In short, the In Love and War series combines various elements that are narrative catnip to me. So I reasonably assumed that the series and its elements would also be narrative catnip to others.

Alas, the In Love and War series doesn’t sell very well or at least not nearly as well as I’d hoped. Part of that might be due to the fact that I launched the series just as the US presidential election was reaching its hottest phase, when books sales fell across the board. Part of that might also be due to the covers, which are stylistically quite different from other indie space opera and indie SF romance covers.

However, in a way, the covers are appropriate, because the In Love and War series is also quite different from other indie space opera and indie SF romance series. I’ve written before about how the indie mantra of “Writing to market” is causing indie SFF to become a lot more narrow ad formulaic than traditionally published SFF ever was at its worst. And so, when I look at the also-boughts/also-vieweds of the In Love and War books, on the one hand, I see a lot of cookie cutter military SF with plots and ideas that weren’t new when Heinlein was writing them sixty years ago, and on the other hand, I see a lot of equally cookie cutter alien warlord romances that read a lot like the werewolf/werebear/shifter paranormal romances that were popular a few years ago, only with aliens instead of werwolves. The covers are naked manchests with strategically placed dots for SF romance and exploding spaceships for space opera. There was one space opera cover in my also-boughts that looked uncannily like a recruiting poster for a hypothetic Nazi space program. And people who are attracted fascist aesthetics in space probably won’t particularly care for my quirky little series about a mixed race couple who just happen to be deserters on the run from their respective governments.

No offence to the people who read and write about bare-chested alien warlords, exploding spaceships and manly space marines doing manly things in space. Those books may not be my cup of tea, but they’re obviously somebody’s – a lot of somebodies in fact – cup of tea, so more power to those authors and their readers. However, my stories – though they absolutely fit into the space opera and SF romance categories – don’t feature bare-chested alien warlords and manly space marines doing manly things in space.

Last year, I did a guest post on Sarah Ash’s blog as part of her “Nobody Knew She Was There” series on women SFF writers, where I wrote the following:

Another problem facing international writers is more subtle. For in a market – whether indie or traditional –that is still dominated by American tastes and expectations, our stories often fail to hit those expectations. Because even though we have consumed more than our share of American cultural products – books, films, comics, television – we nonetheless aren’t Americans. Our history and culture, not to mention our experiences and influences, are different. In fact, you may have noticed that I mentioned a lot of works above that few people outside Germany have ever heard of. So the stories that rise out of the stew pot of our subconscious are quite different from what an American writer would produce, even if they are nominally part of the same genre. In fact, it took me a long time to realise that a lot of what I perceived as bugs in the fiction I consumed, were actually features to the American audience those works were aimed at.

A lot of what I write, including the original spark behind the In Love and War series, is an attempt to fix the bugs in other people’s stories. And though I’m aware that many of those bugs are actually features for the (American) target audience of those works, I still can’t resist fixing them, even if it means subverting the tropes that attract part of the audience to the genre.

That truth was brought home to me sharply, when I was entering the changes resulting from the final proofread of the next In Love and War novella, while the 2017 Academy Awards ceremony was running in the background. Now US TV generally has a lot more commercial breaks than German TV and this includes the Academy Awards. What is more, the Academy Awards are on in the middle of the night in Germany, i.e. not exactly prime TV advertising real estate, unless it’s for phone sex hotlines. And so the German broadcaster fills up the commercial breaks in the Oscar ceremony with trailers for the nominated movies (since it can be assumed that people watching the Oscars will be interested in movies).

And this is how I chanced to see a trailer for a movie called Allied, which was nominated for an Oscar for best costume design. I’d never heard of the movie before and the brief clips shown during the Ocar ceremony made it look like “Agent Carter – the Movie” (which I would actually watch). However, the trailer (and the movie I presume) told a very different story: We got a couple of action scenes and a handsome 1940s couple played by Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard having adventures and falling in love. So far, so good. But then the trailer took a sharp turn, when we got a scene where Jared Harris (the British suicide guy from Mad Men) in a military uniform told Brad Pitt that they suspected Marion Cotillard was a Nazi spy and ordered Pitt to find out the truth and personally execute her. If he refused, he would be hanged.

So what does Brad Pitt do? Does he tell Jared Harris where he can shove his order, even if it means risking the gallows? Does he go on the run with Marion Cotillard, shadowy military guys hot in pursuit? Does he shoot the bunch of them? No, he begins to doubt Marion Cotillard, whereupon the trailer descends into a series of increasingly tense scenes between the two of them.

Now these days, comparatively few movie trailers excite me. Most just leave me bored. This one, however, made me actively angry. It made me angrier than I’d been at a stupid movie trailer in years (and coincidentally, the last one was also a WWII movie starring Brad Pitt – I do sense a pattern there). It also made me wonder how a movie with such a terrible plot could ever get made, let alone with obviously high production values, good actors and a good director (Robert Zemeckis, who can do so much better).

Remember that I was entering the final changes into the manuscript for the next In Love and War novella, when I saw that trailer. And the very premise of the In Love and War series is that two elite soldiers fall in love against all odds and turn their back on their respective regimes, because they both refuse to hand over the other to certain death. In short, the story, the whole series I was working on at that moment, was the polar opposite of that movie.

Like everybody, I have a few tropes that I really, really hate. And one of my most hated tropes – a trope that’s pretty much an instant “Book meets wall” and “Movie/TV show meets OFF button” moment for me – is characters turning against friends, loved ones and family members at the slightest hint of any wrongdoing and subsequently turning over those friends, loved ones or family member to the police, the courts, the FBI or whomever. I can tolerate that trope, if the suspect is actually guilty and turns out to be a serial killer or something similarly awful. However, in the vast majority of cases – even if the suspect is guilty and most of them aren’t – the crime is comparatively minor like smuggling or theft or drug possession. That trope is what killed Quantico for me, what killed Blindspot for me, what killed Picket Fences for me, what caused me to dislike Benjamin Sisko from Deep Space Nine. Amazingly, it did not kill The Maltese Falcon for me, but then I find I can never be angry at any character played by Humphrey Bogart for any reason.

However, it wasn’t until I chanced to see a trailer for a movie featuring a particularly noxious instant of that trope, while working on a story that is the exact opposite, that I realised that this trope I hate so much might not be a bug for US audiences at all, but a feature. For while Germans – and most Germans I have talked to hate this trope, too – value personal loyalty to friends and loved ones more highly than loyalty to a state or system, Americans don’t necessarily seem to share this preference and indeed find something compelling in stories where someone chooses loyalty to the state/system over loyalty to a loved one. As for why this is so, I suspect the reason lies in our sorry history. For within living memory, we had not one but two regimes where plenty of people decided to value loyalty towards the system more highly than personal loyalty and chose to sell out their friends and loved ones to the state (and it happened. A lot). This sort of history leaves its mark, both on our collective psyches and on the stories we choose to tell.

So is part of what made the story of Anjali and Mikhail so very compelling to me, the fact that they are both willing to turn against their respective regimes (and both the Empire and the Republic are pretty damn awful – these are not nice democracies) and turn their back on everything they ever strove for in their lives for the sake of love, the very thing that puts off American readers? I don’t know.

As I said before, I can only tell my own stories, not somebody else’s. And I hope that at least some of you will give Anjali and Mikhail a chance and follow their adventures.

Which finally brings me to the actual point of this post, namely that there is a new In Love and War novella available. It’s called Dead World and sends Anjali and Mikhail on a deadly chase across a nuclear wasteland, relentless pursued by a bounty hunter who’s after the prize on their heads.

It’s got action, emotion, vile villains, heroism and of course, true love. So just check it out, will you? And if you want to read the whole series, there’s a handy bundle available at a sharply reduced price at DriveThruFiction.

Dead World
Dead World by Cora BuhlertOnce, 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 eke out a living on the independent worlds of the galactic rim, while attempting to stay under the radar of those pursuing them.

When they are hired to retrieve a weapons prototype from an abandoned planet, it seems like a routine job. But it quickly turns out that the planet is not as empty as they had thought. And soon, Anjali and Mikhail find themselves caught in a deadly chase across a radioactive wasteland.

More information.
Length: 27500 words.
List price: 2.99 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, txtr, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, e-Sentral, 24symbols and XinXii.

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An interview and a new post-apocalyptic collection: After the End

For starters, I’ve been interviewed by C.E. Martin, author of the pulpy Stone Soldiers series, as part of his Chowmageddon series about post-apocalyptic fiction and particularly food after the apocalypse, so head over there and check it out. And while you’re at it, you can also read the other interviews in the series with Ann Christy, Marcus Richardson, Lawrence Herbert Tide and Leo Nix.

The timing of the interview is highly convenient, because I also have a new release to announce, which just happens to fall into the post-apocalyptic subgenre.

The new release is a short story collection entitled After the End – Stories of Life After the Apocalypse. All but one of the stories in the collection were the result of the 2016 July short story challenge. The objective was to write a story per day in July 2016.

When you attempt to write a whole lot of stories in a very limited time frame, certain themes inevitably emerge. And one of the themes that emerged during the 2016 July short story challenge was post-apocalyptic stories. As for why I felt so drawn to this particular theme, I suppose the unstable geopolitical situation and general apocalyptic mood in the summer of 2016 (which has not exactly become any more stable since then) had something to do with it.

The apocalyptic scenarios featured in After the End are all different. Five of the apocalypses are triggered by climate change, one of the likelier end of the world scenarios, though the particulars vary. There are three stories set in a world flooded due to global warming and melting ice caps, a story set in a world suffering from massive droughts due to global warming (with an extra shout-out to the depletion of the ozone layer) and a story set in an ice-bound world where climate change has paradoxically triggered global cooling and a new ice age in the Northern hemisphere.

Other apocalypses are more fanciful. I have a story set in a world where modern technology has ceased to work due a massive electromagnetic pulse caused by a solar storm and where humanity suddenly has to rely on nineteenth century technology. There is the requisite zombie apocalypse story, of course, and a story set after the robot apocalypse.

However, as varied as the end of the world scenarios are, one common theme became notable as I was putting together this collection. For while the vast majority of post-apocalyptic fiction focuses on the struggle for survival in the immediate aftermath of the apocalypse, the stories in this collection are all set years or decades after the apocalypse, when a new normal has asserted itself. And most of them feature young protagonists with little to no memories of the world before who are just trying to get through their everyday lives.

Initially, I wondered why the theme of young people living in the new normal after a world-shattering apocalypse resonated with me so much. And then it hit me: The reason why that theme resonated with me so much was because I had been that young person growing up after a world-changing catastrophe and just trying to live my life in the only world I knew, while older people, the generation of my parents and grandparents, just could not stop talking about the bad old times.

Of course, I did not grow up after the literal end of the world. However, I grew up in postwar Europe at a time when the Third Reich and the bombings of World War Two were still within the living memory of my parents and grandparents. And World War Two was pretty damn apocalyptic for those that lived through it, particularly in Europe and Asia. Even by the time I was a kid, some thirty to forty years later, there was still visible bomb damage in our town, either hidden behind billboards or in the form of suspiciously empty lots in otherwise densely built areas.

Nor was World War Two the only apocalyptic event within living memory. Very old people also still remembered World War One, which was equally apocalyptic and probably even more successful at totally destroying the world as it had been before. Then, when I was a teenager, the Berlin Wall fell, once again spelling the end of life as they knew it for friends and relatives from beyond the iron curtain. And finally, as an adult, I teach German to refugees who have fled the apocalyptic hellscapes of Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Eritrea and Mali for the relative safety of Europe.

The thing about real world apocalypses is that unless humanity is wiped out altogether, life goes on. People still go to work, fall in love, get married, have children. And to those children, life after the apocalypse will be the new normal.

It’s this new normal that the stories contained in this collection focus on. And it’s no coincidence that After the End starts with a funeral and ends with a man holding a baby in his arms.

Of the eight stories included in this collection, two probably require a bit of further explanation. The optical telegraph or semaphore described in “Lifeline” was a real communication technology that was developed in France in the late eighteenth century and became obsolete by the mid nineteenth century, when electrical telegraphs came along. You can learn more about optical telegraphy here.

One of the fairly few surviving optical telegraph stations is located in the town of Brake in North Germany. It was once part of an optical telegraph line stretching from the North Sea port of Bremerhaven to the city of Bremen. You can learn more about that line here (only in German alas). Nowadays, the Brake telegraph tower has been restored and turned into a museum. I had the chance to visit the museum during a trip to Brake. It occurred to me that optical telegraphy would be the ideal long distance communication medium after an apocalypse, which eventually inspired “Lifeline”.

The port of Bremerhaven is also mentioned in “Shelter” as the destination of the ice-locked vehicle carrier MV Aniara. Among other things, Bremerhaven is the one of the biggest transshipment ports for cars and other motor vehicles in the world. Every day, some four thousand cars pass through the port of Bremerhaven, more than two million per year, as well as a further million of busses, trucks, tractors, construction equipment and other heavy vehicles. The giant car carriers and the huge lots full of brand-new cars waiting to be loaded either onto vessels for export or onto trains for further distribution are truly a sight to see. And just like Paul tells Karla in “Lifeline”, pretty much everybody driving through Bremerhaven’s car terminal has probably thought of just climbing over the fence and nicking one of the ten thousands of brand-new cars waiting at the quay.

There really is a car carrier named MV Aniara by the way, operated by Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics who tend to name their vessels after operas. I chose it because of the science fictional connotations of the name, which of course refers to Harry Martinson’s epic science fiction poem Aniara and Karl-Birger Blomdahl’s eponymous opera adaptation. Here is a photo of the real MV Aniara, BTW.

So if you’re looking for some post-apocalyptic fiction that’s not all bleak, then check out:

After the End – Stories of Life After the Apocalypse
After the End by Cora BuhlertWhen the apocalypse has come and gone, life still goes on for the survivors struggling to adapt to the new normal.

In a drowned world, the descendants of surface dwellers remember the cities that were lost, the inhabitants of ocean floor colonies cling to outmoded customs and scavengers search the flooded ruins for anything that might be of use. In a world ravaged by droughts, two college students come face to face with how the other half lives. A lone explorer traverses the icy wasteland that used to be Europe. A group of children travels across a zombie-infested America in search of shelter and safety. After a robot uprising, a police officer is assigned to clean-up duties and finds an unexpected miracle among the ruins. And in a world blasted by electromagnetic solar storms, a nineteenth century technology suddenly becomes the sole means of long distance communication.

More information.
Length: 24500 words
List price: 2.99 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, txtr, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, e-Sentral, 24symbols and XinXii.

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for February 2017

Indie Speculative Fiction of the MonthIt’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 authors newly published this month, though some January books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have urban fantasy, epic fantasy, a whole lot of space opera, military science fiction, post-apocalyptic science fiction, dystopian fiction, science fiction romance, alternate history, Cyberpunk, LitRPG, horror, dragons, aliens, werewolves, cyborgs, supersoldiers, galactic empires, FBI witches, Appalachian monsters, zombie insects, revenge of nature, The King in Yellow 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:

After the End by Cora BuhlertAfter the End – Stories of Life After the Apocalypse by Cora Buhlert

When the apocalypse has come and gone, life still goes on for the survivors struggling to adapt to the new normal.

In a drowned world, the descendants of surface dwellers remember the cities that were lost, the inhabitants of ocean floor colonies cling to outmoded customs and scavengers search the flooded ruins for anything that might be of use. In a world ravaged by droughts, two college students come face to face with how the other half lives. A lone explorer traverses the icy wasteland that used to be Europe. A group of children travels across a zombie-infested America in search of shelter and safety. After a robot uprising, a police officer is assigned to clean-up duties and finds an unexpected miracle among the ruins. And in a world blasted by electromagnetic solar storms, a nineteenth century technology suddenly becomes the sole means of long distance communication.

This collection contains eight stories of life after the apocalypse of 24500 words or approximately 85 print pages altogether.

Cyborg Legacy by Lindsay BurokerCyborg Legacy by Lindsay Buroker:

Former Cyborg Corps soldier Jasim Antar was relieved to come out of the war alive and looked forward to switching to a less violent line of work. But nobody wants to hire a brawny cyborg to do anything that doesn’t involve brutalizing people on a daily basis. Stuck working as a debt collector alongside an eccentric pilot who enjoys knitting gifts for her grandkids when she isn’t blowing people up, Jasim longs to find a more peaceful existence.

 

 

Coalescence by Zen DiPietroCoalescence by Zen DiPietro:

Fallon’s back, and ready to settle things with Blackout once and for all. If she and her team can’t take control, the PAC will splinter and galactic war will decimate the populace.

Can one little rebellion save an empire? Avian Unit–and their friends–are sure as hell going to try.

 

 

Sieging Manganela by Charon DunnSieging Manganela by Charon Dunn

When you’re waging war against the people who sold your ancestors those multigenerational bioengineered supersoldier enhancements, you can pretty much predict they’re not going to meet you face-to-face, especially if they happen to have an endless supply of remote controlled drones.

The city of Manganela has been sending drones after the army camped outside for the past several years, and now it looks like the war might be ending soon, and Corporal Turo Berengar might even get to meet that city girl he’s been surreptitiously texting. Assuming he can survive the drones.

Heretic by C. GockelHeretic by C. Gockel:

The day of reckoning is coming …

Commander Noa Sato has almost reached the Kannukah Cloud. Within hours her crew may be able to reach Sol System through a hidden time gate. If they make it, she and her crew won’t just save their own lives–they’ll save millions from genocide at the hands of Luddeccean fanatics.

But the Luddeccean “fanatics” may not be as mad as Noa believes.

If the Ark reaches Sol, Professor James Sinclair will be revealed as the imposter he is. Designed to be the perfect spy, James’s love for Noa seems to be the only thing truly his own. But what can love be to an agent of the gates?

When the final confrontation occurs, and the truth of the gates is revealed, James and Noa will have choices to make … Choices that may divide them forever and lead to the destruction of the human race.

The Final Reconciliation by Todd KeislingThe Final Reconciliation by Todd Keisling:

Thirty years ago, a progressive rock band called The Yellow Kings began recording what would become their first and final album. Titled “The Final Reconciliation,” the album was expected to usher in a new renaissance of heavy metal, but it was shelved following a tragic concert that left all but one dead.

The sole survivor of that horrific incident was the band’s lead guitarist, Aidan Cross, who’s kept silent about the circumstances leading up to that ill-fated performance—until now.

For the first time since the tragedy, Aidan has granted an exclusive interview to finally put rumors to rest and address a question that has haunted the music industry for decades: What happened to The Yellow Kings?

The answer will terrify you.

Inspired by The King in Yellow mythos first established by Robert W. Chambers, and reminiscent of cosmic horror by H. P. Lovecraft, Laird Barron, and John Langan, comes The Final Reconciliation—a chilling tale of regret, the occult, and heavy metal by Todd Keisling.

Continue Online Together by Stephan MorseContinue Online Together by Stephan Morse:

Since stepping through the gateway to Continue, Grant has been many things: a dying hero, a malevolent imp, a robotic space explorer, and felon seeking redemption. Now he’s added a new role to the list—married man to a virtual woman. In his mind, nothing could be more perfect, but his newlywedded bliss is in jeopardy.

Trillium pulled the trigger on a digital Armageddon and the games have changed. Virtual people are being hunted down then deleted forever. Players’ characters are removed if they die three times. The AIs have a plan to fight back and protect their citizens by storing as much data as possible into a haven, including Xin’s.

To help secure the survival of his friends and wife, Grant will seek the secrets to salvation left behind from the game’s first heroes and programming team. Along the way, Grant reunites with old companions, sets aside past grudges, and pulls out every trick he’s ever been taught to help him in the race against digital death.

Failure means Grant will lose Xin a second time, but success may cost him even more.

Age of Order by Julian North:

In a world where all people are not created equal, Daniela Machado is offered the rarest commodity: hope.

For a girl from plague-infested Bronx City, the opportunity to attend the elite Tuck School in Manhattan is too tempting to turn down. There, among the so-called highborn, Daniela discovers an unimaginable world of splendor. But her opportunity soon turns into peril as Daniela discovers that those at society’s apex will stop at nothing to keep power for themselves. She may have a chance to change the world, if it doesn’t change her first.

Age of Order is a dystopian thriller filled with intrigue and unexpected relationships. It explores the meaning of merit and inequality in a world where the downtrodden must fight for a better future.

Recon: A War to the Knife by Rick PartlowRecon: A War to the Knife by Rick Partlow:

Tyler Callas is the pampered heir of a high-level Corporate Council executive, groomed from birth to take a seat beside her as a member of the ruling class of the Commonwealth society. But the bloody war with the alien Tahni has hit close to home and Tyler wants to join the military, something his powerful mother won’t allow.

Desperate to escape her control, Tyler changes his identity to Randall Munroe, a product of the poverty-stricken Underground, and enlists in the Marines. There he flourishes, becoming a member of an elite Force Recon unit and striking deep behind enemy lines. But when his platoon is assigned to take back the colony on Demeter from the Tahni, the mission falls apart, most of his comrades are killed and Munroe is wounded, separated from his unit and left for dead on an enemy occupied world.
With no other choice, he organizes the civilian colonists into a resistance movement and begins fighting against the occupation with limited supplies and no support. As the situation becomes more and more desperate, what began as a high-tech, interstellar conflict will become a war to the knife…

Special Agent in Charge by T.S. PaulSpecial Agent in Charge by T.S. Paul:

The Magical Crimes Division of the FBI has a new boss!

Agatha Blackmore’s Probationary period is over and she has been promoted to Special Agent in Charge. Now armed with a new team of Paranormal investigators she is setting out on a new adventure.

An innocent Werewolf child has been murdered. Local FBI Investigators have discovered that Slavery still exists in the modern world. The new team must combat deceit and corruption in their pursuit of Justice and Salvation for the Paranormals of the Midwestern United States.

What happens when the hunter becomes the hunted?

Fruiting Bodies by Guy RiessenFruiting Bodies by Guy Riessen:

It’s 1979 and a secret all-out war between science and nature has erupted in the forests of the eastern United States.

Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, also known as the Zombie Fungus, infects the brains of ants. A daring military mission has recovered samples and it looks like the fungus just evolved into humanity’s worst nightmare.

A Sci-Fi Horror Short Story of 5500 words.

 

Greenwood Cove by Celia RomanGreenwood Cove by Celia Roman:

I had three loves in my life: my daddy, him what my mama killed in cold blood; my son Henry, God rest him; and tall as an oak Riley Treadwell.

I lost all of ’em, one way or t’other, ’til Riley showed up on my stoop with a monster problem and tried to wiggle his way back into my life.

Only, weren’t no monster bothering him; was the one bothering his ex-girlfriend what’d stirred up a hornet’s nest out on Lake Burton amongst the muckity mucks. Weren’t no never mind to me, see? I was fine letting well enough alone, ‘cept curiosity got the best of me, and Riley, well. He weren’t above using that silver tongue of his to persuade me ’round to his way of thinking. If I’da listened to my gut, maybe I woulda avoided stepping knee deep into somebody else’s trouble.

Then again, I ain’t never been one to heed a warning when monsters come a-calling.

Author’s Note: Greenwood Cove was written in the native dialect of the narrator, found in the rural areas of the Southern Appalachians. The grammar, spelling, and syntax are not standardized American English.

The Mercy of the Tide by Keith RossonMercy of the Tide by Keith Rosson:

Riptide, Oregon, 1983. A sleepy coastal town, where crime usually consists of underage drinking down at a Wolf Point bonfire. But then strange things start happening—a human skeleton is unearthed in a local park and mutilated animals begin appearing, seemingly sacrificed, on the town’s beaches. The Mercy of the Tide follows four people drawn irrevocably together by a recent tragedy as they do their best to reclaim their lives—leading them all to a discovery that will change them and their town forever. At the heart of the story are Sam Finster, a senior in high school mourning the death of his mother, and his sister Trina, a nine-year-old deaf girl who denies her grief by dreaming of a nuclear apocalypse as Cold War tensions rise. Meanwhile, Sheriff Dave Dobbs and Deputy Nick Hayslip must try to put their own sorrows aside to figure out who, or what, is wreaking havoc on their once-idyllic town. Keith Rosson paints outside the typical genre lines with his brilliant debut novel. It is a gorgeously written book that merges the sly wonder of magical realism and alternate history with the depth and characterization of literary fiction.

Chronicles of the Last Days by Amelia SmithChronicles of the Last Days by Amelia Smith:

Myril doesn’t need prophecy to see that her world is going to end – the city is sinking before her eyes. Foreign ships fill Anamat harbor, bringing traders bent on pillaging the city’s treasures – with help from the governor – as its people flee to hostile lands.

Her guildmaster calls on her to help save the Chronicles of Anamat from the pillagers. Meanwhile, her old friend Darna needs healing, Iola wants to go to her death in the dragons’ realm, and the Defenders are airing their secrets at just the wrong time.

How will any of them survive when the waters rise again?

Duchess of Terra by Glynn StewartDuchess of Terra by Glynn Stewart

When Terra knelt to an alien Imperium
They guaranteed our safety and our future
But now their enemies are coming for us

To preserve humanity’s survival and freedom in a hostile galaxy, Annette Bond tied her world to the A!Tol Imperium, taking on the mantle of Duchess of Terra to rule humanity in the Imperium’s name.

The A!Tol have provided technology, ships, and money to uplift the new Duchy of Terra, but those gifts come with strings attached. The Imperium has their own plan for Terra—but Bond has tricks of her own.

With enough time, she can build Earth a place in the galaxy. But as Bond’s many enemies gather their forces, the clouds of war threaten not only the recovering Terra but the entire Imperium.

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for January 2017

Indie Speculative Fiction of the MonthIt’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 authors newly published this month, though some December books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have urban fantasy, epic fantasy, Asian fantasy, space opera, military science fiction, post-apocalyptic science fiction, dystopian fiction, science fiction mystery, paranormal romance, fantasy romance, aliens, werewolves, robots, UFOs, intergalactic traders, FBI witches, magical source-fixers, mutant assassins, murdered gods, monsters in the woods 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:

Dick and Henry and the Temporary Detective by Kenneth Buff:

Space is full of adventure. And danger too. Fresh off their last case, Captain Dick Shannon and his harvest bot, HN-R3 report to Station 2 for reassignment, only to find the station in the middle of an attack that threatens the lives of everyone on-board. Now, Dick and Henry must work together with a mysterious woman, hopping from planet to planet in search of clues in order to save themselves and bring the monsters responsible for the destruction of the station to justice before it’s too late.

 

Hunted Wolf by Stacy ClaflinHunted Wolf by Stacy Claflin:

Her fiancé’s family wants her dead. And they won’t stop until she is.

Victoria and Toby have faced one trial after another since falling in love. Now they must face Toby’s old pack—a cruel traditional group opposed to anyone refusing to follow the old ways. Toby will do anything to protect Victoria, even to the point of separating from her. He sends her to a fierce bear shifter colony, where she will be hidden and protected.

Life with the werebears begins to take its toll, and Victoria’s worries get the best of her. She fears for Toby and her pack, but her thoughts are torn—she also fears her sister is in danger. Victoria is compelled to find and protect her, so she leaves the sanctuary of the werebear colony and sets off in search of her.

Victoria encounters so much more than she could have imagined once she embarks on her quest. Will she be able to find her sister before Toby’s old pack finds and kills her?

The Cost of Business by Zen DiPietroThe Cost of Business by Zen DiPietro:

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.

 

 

 

Murdered Gods by Marina FinlaysonMurdered Gods by Marina Finlayson:

Lexi didn’t set out to steal a god’s ring, but when a magic artifact starts trying to talk to you, what’s a girl supposed to do? She’s always had the ability to talk to animals, but this new development amps up the crazy. Now she’s afraid her power is out of control and she’s losing her mind.

The only person who could possibly reassure her that she’s not going mad is her mother, who has always refused to discuss the source of Lexi’s strange ability. Now that the jewellery is getting chatty, maybe she’ll finally spill the beans.

Unfortunately, going home means a trip back to the human territories, and Lexi only just made it out of there alive last time. She’s hoping for a quick visit, but with a god hellbent on retrieving the ring and a fireshaper she might have accidentally betrayed on her tail, life is about to get horribly complicated—for her and everyone she cares about.

Alien Tales and Lore by G.J. Gundersen Jr.Alien Tales and Lore by G.J. Gundersen Jr.:

Strange messages from alien visitors start to appear in the newspapers. A young farmer dares to visit a mysterious pyramidal hill that, according to village legends, was built by aliens. A lowly researcher at a government installation finds a fully functional alien spacesuit …

These are just some of the stories included in Alien Tales and Lore.

Gundersen’s entertaining stories are told in a folkloric or fairytale style, but they are unashamedly set in a modern age where odd occurrences may often be brought about by alien technology. The tales included in this volume are by turns enchanting, surreal, and troubling. But as with all fairytales and folktales, they offer an insight into human nature. Gundersen writes a new tradition for an age of alien contact!

Source-Breaker by Kyra HallandSource-Breaker by Kyra Halland:

After twenty-seven years in the trade and with a string of failures behind him, Kaniev the Source-Fixer is ready to go home and take up fishing. First, though, one more repair job lies ahead of him – the magical Source Chaitrasse is experiencing problems. Kaniev’s depleted finances and self-confidence demand that this time, he get the job done right.

Fransisa, once presumed to be the next High Priestess of Source Chaitrasse and now displaced by a young Chosen, the natural heir to the position, is struggling to hold on to her authority at Chaitrasse when a wandering tradesman appears, telling her the Source has a problem and he’s the one who can fix it. Though he looks more like a wandering brigand than a powerful wizard or wise scholar, Fransisa decides it can’t hurt anything to let him take a look.

Kaniev’s ill-fated attempt to repair Source Chaitrasse leads to a sorcerer who is conducting dangerous experiments with magic. Caught in the sorcercer’s schemes, Fransisa and Kaniev must overcome their past failures and their differences to stop him before the Sources of magic and all the lands around them are destroyed.

Songs of Insurrection by J.C. KangSongs of Insurrection by J.C. Kang:

The Empire of Cathay teeters on the brink of rebellion, and only the lost magic of Dragon Songs can prevent the realm from descending into chaos.

Blessed with an unrivaled voice, Kaiya dreams of a time when music could summon typhoons and rout armies. Maybe then, the imperial court would see the awkward, gangly princess as more than a singing fool.

When members of the emperor’s elite spy clan uncover a brewing rebellion, the court hopes to appease the ringleader by offering Kaiya as a bride.

Obediently wedding the depraved rebel leader means giving up her music. Confronting him with the growing power of her voice could kill her.

Chameleon Assassin by B.R. KingsolverChameloen Assassin by B.R. Kingsolver:

Libby is a mutant, one of the top burglars and assassins in the world. For a price, she caters to executives’ secret desires. Eliminate your corporate rival? Deliver a priceless art masterpiece or necklace? Hack into another corporation’s network? Libby’s your girl.

Climate change met nuclear war, and humanity lost. The corporations stepped in, stripping governments of power. Civilization didn’t end, but it became less civilized. There are few rules as corporations jockey for position and control of assets and markets.

In the year 2200, the world has barely recovered the level of technology that existed before the ice melted and the subsequent wars. Corporate elites live in their walled estates and skyscraper apartments while the majority of humanity supplies their luxuries. On the bottom level, the mutants, the poor, and the criminals scramble every day just to survive.

Urban Fantasy set 200 years in the future.

Sundown Apocalypse by Leo NixSundown Apocalypse by Leo Nix:

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.

Cat's Night Out by T.S. PaulCat’s Night Out by T.S. Paul:

Catherine Moore, Cat to her friends, trained with her friend Agatha Blackmore to be the best FBI Agents to ever graduate from the Academy. When Agatha left for her Probi assignment Cat had one of her own. A serial killer stalked the South. Sometimes it takes a Monster to catch a Monster.

Read this and other Tales from the Federal Witch Universe today!

 

 

Inwards Bound by Jim RudnickInwards Bound by Jim Rudnick:

Tempted by the dissolution of the huge empire inwards, Duke Scott and the Baroness and the Caliph join forces to send a ship inwards bound, to find new planets for the expansion of the RIM Confederacy—led by the new captain, Bram Sander. Making a mind-reader a ship’s captain means more than one might expect, and Bram has to worry about the issues that arise.

Broken now into smaller Warlord realms, the first thing to do is to find allies and that becomes a major thrust in the RIM Confederacy ships first voyage inwards—and that leads to various new allies and antagonists too. One Warlord wants to join the Confederacy and one wants to take it over by force and the chances of that happening are real.

As the new secret mine for Xithricite is found by the Confederacy who now mines the red ore in secret, the Warlord fomenting war sends declarations to the Confederacy ship and Bram must respond. Aided by his own red ship and the Leudies gifts, he foists the Confederacy wishes on the Warlords—and the battles begin…

The Winter Knife by Laramie SassevilleThe Winter Knife by Laramie Sasseville:

Death stalks a snowbound city from below… Feral dogs are blamed when a popular teen is killed. Is it just coincidence that he disappeared after infuriating 14-year-old Haley, who is torn between her anger and her desire to belong? More attacks implicate a creature of Northwoods myth she befriended in its summer form. As the DNR leads a cougar hunt in town, Haley makes a desperate plan to steal a car and use their empathic bond to lead the creature away from the city — driving alone into the fangs of a blizzard that makes roads hazardous even for experienced drivers. If she fails, either her monster or more members of her community will die.

Requiem for the Wolf by Tara SaundersRequiem for the Wolf by Tara Saunders:

They told him that the Lost were animals. Crazed and brutal, they said, a danger to themselves and others. Hero, they called him, for providing the mercy of a clean death. They lied.

The Tiarna Beo is a land frozen in the still moment between acts of savage violence. Forty years after a Purging that drove an entire race either into the ground or north through the mountains, every man watches his words and his neighbour. Only a fool draws attention to himself, and only the suicidal travel from the North.

Growing up fatherless in a cold and grieving home, Breag had a clear vision for his future – a good woman, a family of his own and a quiet life. When his good woman betrays him, her confederates force him into the Tiarna on a mission to find one of the Lost and bring it home to be sacrificed. Mired in hopeless duty and wandering rootless among people who would kill him if they knew what he was, Breag struggles to hold on to the frayed edges of his humanity.

But no good deed goes unpunished. When his rescue of a brutalised young woman reveals her to be the Lost he has spent eight years hunting, Breag is forced to choose between her life and his future. And she’s not prepared to go quietly. Breag’s choice will create ripples that ignite the fumes of anger among his people and theirs, and ultimately to burn the entire kingdom down around his ears.

The Perception of Prejudice by Alasdair ShawThe Perception of Prejudice by Alasdair Shaw:

Ace fighter pilot Anastasia Seivers is offered a secret assignment: to join a squadron taking the fight to Concorde’s true enemies. But this squadron isn’t part of the regular Concorde military, it is attached to the Legion Libertus, the independent force responsible for saving thousands of lives after the nuclear attack. After initial hope that her new commanders will be different, Seivers starts to suspect that they too are prejudiced against her.
Determined to remove the chip from Seivers’ shoulder, Prefect Olivia Johnson, commander of the Legion, takes her on as pilot for a special mission.

The Perception of Prejudice is a novelette in the Two Democracies: Revolution series.

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