Tag Archives: Scifi

DEEP

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Title: Deep

Author: A.L. Bates

Genre: Science Fiction, Gay Romance, Gay SciFi

Length: Long Novella

Publisher: Wayward Ink Publishing

Synopsis

Fleeing from a troubled past that left him feeling tarnished and used, Sean finds work as a medic aboard the deep sea mining ship Ariel, on a distant planet.

Under the leader ship of the infuriating, yet charismatic, Captain Joel Riley, Sean settles into his simple, but dangerous, new life. It’s a life he soon comes to love; albeit one in which he conceals his sexuality and avoids intimacy.

But Sean’s new world is turned on its head when an old face threatens to expose him for the man he used to be.

With Joel’s help, will Sean learn to come to terms with his past and become a man he can be proud of?

Deep AL Bates

Buy Links

Don’t miss the Valentine’s Day Sale (February 11-17) 50% off on WIP’s website and 40% off on ARe!

WIP: http://www.waywardinkpublishing.com/product/deep-by-al-bates/

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Deep-L-Bates-ebook/dp/B01AOB6VW0/

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Deep-L-Bates-ebook/dp/B01AOB6VW0/

Amazon AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/Deep-L-Bates-ebook/dp/B01AOB6VW0/

Amazon DE: http://www.amazon.de/Deep-L-Bates-ebook/dp/B01AOB6VW0/

ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-deep-1969763-177.html

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Giveaway

Prizes: $10 WIP Gift Card + $4.99 WIP Gift Card

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About the author

A.L. BATES has a keen interest in Sci-fi and adventure novels and enjoys writing stories with strong characters in imaginative backgrounds. Although an avid writer, Deep is the first published novella by A.L. Bates.

A.L. Bates can be found on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authoralbates

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Halloween Special: Donum

Time for my favourite cocktail – some sci-fi/fantasy with a squeeze of steampunk. Here’s Alexandra Lane’s Donum.

Insulated from the rest of the world by the Great Smoky Mountains, idyllic Capers is the kind of place where every parent dreams of raising their child: picturesque, wholesome and unsullied by crime. That is, until billionaire business mogul Noigel Braddock skulks into town. Noigel establishes a technology company that he promises will bring prestige and wealth to the hamlet, in the form of a sweeping global business innovation. Princely good looks and debonair persuasion, bolstered by his Ivy League education, belie his true intentions.
On the heels of this transformational development for the town, Capers residents Katy and Charles Leonardis welcome a son who quickly becomes known as “Teal”, for his striking greenish-blue eyes. While every parent thinks that their child is special, even Katy and Charles cannot ignore the fact that some very strange and unsettling paranormal phenomena have unfurled around their son.

Moral decay quickly falls over Capers as townspeople begin committing atrocities they never would have entertained before. Demons roam the streets and fearful encounters with the unknown take place. When these dark forces attempt to extinguish the life of young Teal, he inadvertently discovers the full range of his unusual but powerful gifts.

Once Noigel’s real intentions for Capers are revealed, Teal must race the clock and outmaneuver the older, more cunning Noigel to prevent total destruction of Capers. In the process Teal is tested and shaped by his friendships, loss, love – and his faith in God.

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The Running Game on Audio

If you’re on the road, cleaning the house, or out in the garden you still need to read a book right? Well now you can download The Running Game as an Audio book. Check out the sample and listen to the wonderful Mil Nicholson as she narrates my paranormal thriller.

http://www.audible.com/pd/Mysteries-Thrillers/The-Running-Game-Audiobook/B00T82F3S0/ref=a_search_c4_1_3_srTtl?qid=1432565805&sr=1-3


Terence Park

This is a post for all you indie authors about inspiration, influences and science fiction. This is a must read for all your aspiring SF and Fantasy authors from a really talented author Terence Park.


 

Influences. We’ve all got them. Who looks at theirs? It’s not something I’ve spent a lot of time on but I suppose mine began with Space Westerns. Of course I didn’t call them that; not then. An aspect of Space Westerns that I’ve found interesting, I call Backwoods SF. I’m going to look at that and see where it leads.

What’s in a term

Backwoods: Not in the big city; wooded or partly cleared and far from a city; remote or culturally backward.
SF: Fiction with healthy doses of scientific speculation.
Big cities: where decisions are made and where the politicians who make them hang out. These are places where the rewards are compelling and what’s on offer is a cosmopolitan style of life, new technologies, new (and laxer) social mores. They are where it’s at. Yet cities are also at the sharp end. In a way they’re the kitchen of civilisation – if you can’t stand the heat you get out. Big city life is demanding and unforgiving. Trust is in short supply. Can-do writ large morphs into opportunism. It has more than its fair share of thieves and crooks. Let your guard down and you suffer. Those who dwell there know it’s the price they pay for living at the apex of civilisation. City Slickers, if they think on it, will consider those in smaller cities, towns, villages… as further down the slippery slope of success.
Stories to entertain that market will need big themes, something to lift the reader above the overpowering presence of masses of people. By its very nature, most Science Fiction gravitates to a city point of view. But not all. There’s a strand connecting to the realities of rural life. Backwoods SF is as far away from Space Opera as you can get.

Writers in this area

Clifford D Simak and Robert Heinlein spring to mind. Robert Heinlein needs no introduction. He works this strand well in novels such as Red Planet, Farmer in the Sky, Tunnel in the Sky and Starman Jones. Heinlein’s works are suffused with the self-determination and individualism that is often seen as American in character. His heroes rely on their own judgement and skills and have a healthy disregard for overbearing authority – jumped-up men in suits. This is not unfamiliar territory to those who read Westerns.

Tunnel in the Sky cover

Tunnel in the Sky

Rod Walker steps through a gate to do a survival course on an alien planet. The planet is a wilderness and he’s there for a week. But after the course ends, the gate doesn’t reopen. He’s marooned. There are others trapped there just like him. They work together to build a place to live. In this work, Heinlein shows the best and worst of human nature.

Clifford D Simak was an exemplar of Backwoods SF. His settings were often rural and his heroes, backwoodsmen. When his stories concluded, he often left mysteries hanging. His work was usually described as gentle and pastoral. Clifford said of his work:

Overall, I have written in a quiet manner; there is little violence in my work. My focus has been on people, not on events. More often than not, I have struck a hopeful note… I have, on occasions, tried to speak out for decency and compassion, for understanding, not only in the human, but in the cosmic sense. I have tried at times to place humans in perspective against the vastness of universal time and space. I have been concerned where we, as a race, may be going, and what may be our purpose in the universal scheme—if we have a purpose. In general, I believe we do, and perhaps an important one.
In his hands fiction became something greater than homespun story-telling.

All the Traps of Earth cover

All the Traps of Earth

In All the Traps of Earth, Clifford twists and turns through each story so the reader can rarely guess where each will end. Many of these tales mix his sense of the homely rural and suburban against a backdrop of the alien and cosmically vast. The title pice shows a robot closing down the accounts of the Barrington family, to which he belongs. The problem is the last of the Barrington’s just died. That means he (the robot) will have to have his personality erased. These short stories remind me of PK Dick.

The rural / outdoor life; what is it? It’s not just city economics; labour + materials + process = result; there’s a whole lot more it than that. Those who live the outdoor life see something different; they see the pattern and flow of nature. This is brought out through the story. Character emphasis will be different, its development will be refocussed; regardless of whether it’s set in the outback of some place on Earth, or in the big back yard of another planet. This becomes the baseline. Contrast it with the unknown / alien; the two will be very different. These pre-built extremes are ready to generate conflict; the known matched off against the strange and unknowable. If you’re the writer, you’ve now some variables from which to draw the characters of both hero and alien. Your protagonist loves nature? Nature gets in the way of the alien. Your protagonist knows how to track a trail, the alien uses gadgets for that… and so on. From there you can start to flesh out your alien’s back story which will in turn determine further traits. A delight for the writer and hopefully, the reader.

UK Outback = up North

I always felt that Backwoods SF was an interesting notion to develop. However, here in the UK we don’t have no outback. It’s hard to be a long way from Big Cities in the UK – the nearest one to me, Manchester, is a mere 15 miles off. I live in Rossendale. Still; I empathise to being disconnected from the hustle and bustle of city life. I guess if I worked there (as I have in the past) that that would vanish, and the disconnect might well transfer to the place I live. We’re admonished: write what you know – it gives your work authenticity. I know small town life and it informs my narratives. So that’s what I plug into them.

Bundling these together can lead to interesting and intellectually satisfying results. For example: where does an alien on the run go? Does he / she go to ground? or go to the most important person they can find, perhaps pretending to be the ambassador of an advanced race? Could the alien become part of a technology transfer trading setup? Heading for the President or someone in authority sounds superficially attractive. This is actually a snag, if you’re on the run, as that’s the first place a pursuer would check on. Symbols of power mean a lot on technologically undeveloped worlds and it’s easy to work out who makes decisions. A lot depends on how thorough pursuers are likely to be, and how well versed they are in the craft of information gathering.

Alien as Refugee

This is what I did in Lucky (named for my alien heroine). Lucky rejects most of the above as too likely to get noticed and decides to go to ground. She second-guesses human intolerance and, rather than go to a big city, chooses to settle in a town. She finds a place where ‘one more’ makes little difference; where the chance of being outed as a true outsider is low. The country she chooses, the UK, has large scale, on-going immigration. She works on her back story: she is a refugee (just not from Earth). Knowing my locale, the rationale for why an alien might choose to hide there seems plausible.

Writing point: you know your neighbourhood. Write it. It gives a voice to your area. Done well, it sounds authentic. Or you can always research. If you’re a writer, you’re always researching – even when you’re not!

What aliens do you do?

At some point, you, as author will want to move from unknown, presumed hostile aliens, to something a little more sophisticated – imagine your Nth alien saying its equivalent of “I am Dalek. I exterminate” – that gets kind of repetitive. Before we look at this further, there’s another aspect that deserves some attention; human reaction. Alienness gives the opportunity to stoke up fear of the unknown. If there’s one thing to provoke humanity to a killing frenzy it’s fear of the unknown. Run with that and you have something for your alien to second guess. That’s assuming your alien’s intellect takes precedence over its instincts; it could of course be a predator, come to hunt, or a feeder / breeder that hosts on anything alive (like Giger’s alien). This elicits a primal response. Is that your only aim?

Alien as Victim

A key alien character in A Guide to First Contact knows there is no means of returning home. She starts in the hands of authority and, without the opportunity to develop a good back story, her options are limited. Were she to escape, the pluses and minuses for big cities come into play. Big can mean easier to hide in; but also harder to stay out of  reach of those who would go out of their way to identify her and hound her, or profit from her. They would never let her alone. Recognising the inherent threat in humanity, she is forced to suffer in a secret laboratory. She becomes a victim. If you know no one, who can you turn to? I give my aliens difficult choices but they don’t all respond the same way. Some display the manners of cultured guests at a dinner party while others behave like opportunists (a trait we know so well).

This kind of talk suggests another look be taken at characterisation. As a writer, you’ve developed characters in contrast to alienness. But this then provokes you to round out your alien characters. Do you make them accessible? give them traits to which we can connect? Here, Zenna Henderson is worth noting because she pays particular reference to sympathetic alien portrayal. The two works I have of hers are The People: No Different Flesh, and Pilgrimage. As a rule I mix it up. A twist of inscrutability, some sympathetic traits plus, where appropriate, reference to the places you know.¹

Pilgrimage cover

Pilgrimage

Zenna Henderson wrote about alien exiles in the American midwest, who call themselves the People. They live in secret but come across as gentle and more akin to the spiritual side of humanity. Their flight from their doomed home world left them scattered across the US and Pilgrimage documents their stories as they try to find each other.

Lucky is mostly set in Codwich, a fictional town in the North of England. It felt appropriate to add some reference to its Celtic and Anglo-Saxon heritage. She asks a tramp about himself:

“You didn’t tell me your name,” Lucky called from the kitchen. She listened, but his only answer was quiet silence. Another sensitive area? She racked her brain for another tack, while she prepared the teapot. The kettle came to a boil and she dug out a tin with a still unopened pack of Rich Tea biscuits.
“I’m researching, you know.” he called.

“Sugar?”

“Please.”

Lucky added milk to the jug and brought in the tray, flushed with the success at having made a cup of tea for her first visitor. She looked at her small table, puzzled; he had emptied his pockets onto it. In the corner nearest him was a dirty handkerchief, tissue paper and a crumpled carrier bag. Covering the rest of the space were several plastic cards and heavily creased paper documents. His arms trembled but he swept them aside to make room for the tray.

“What are you researching?”

“Many things. Codwich, Coed y Ffin – tree bordered?” She knew how words morphed over time and recognised the Anglo-Saxon rendering of the original Cumbric term for the town. Few would. ²

Stretches of Guide are pastoral. Easing in a local reference was tricky. Sometimes, all that’s possible is a reference, meaningless to all but a few. Here, an amateur conspiracy investigator who’s tracking down a missing astronaut, retires for the day, baffled:

Maybe there really was redaction style webware out there.
So, her name was a no-go area. Did that apply to the other crew members? No way to tell, but based on Ms Singerton it was likely.
Something to chew over while watching soccer on Sky-Fox. The Clarets playing the Gunners. No wine, no firearms. Where did they dream up these names from? I would have flicked the channel but didn’t have the energy. ³

The Clarets is the nickname of my home town team who have been a Championship side since 2000; as of the time of writing – 18/11/14 – they look like making a return by the end of the season. Predicting they’ll be playing Arsenal in Premier League, March 23rd, 2019? Now that’s Science Fiction!

Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine
Clifford D Simak


Notes

¹ Aristotle’s Poetics

The rules to creativity were outlined in antiquity by Aristotle in a work that came to be known as the Poetics. I haven’t seen a satisfactory translation of this piece but if you cut through the philosophical trappings, you can see the granddaddy of works on writing; it dealt with issues that writers still deal with.
Section 4.3: poor characterisation makes poor tragedy
(although this section sees Aristotle talking of tragedy, this has much wider application)
Section 8.1: In all things: is this plausible? probable?
Section 11: things may be portrayed as they should be, even if they aren’t
My notes on Aristotle’s Poetics are here.

Author references

² Lucky p47

Lucky is on the web as Lucky and other stories
Lulu: 21617090 (UK Crown Quarto)
ASIN: B00IMNXWK2
Resource

Lucky cover

Lucky

³ Guide p240

Guide is on the web as A Guide to First Contact. The title is an ironic play on words.
Lulu: 21455011 (US A5)
Lulu: 21444383 (UK Crown Quarto)
Lulu: 21444388 (UK Case Wrap)
ASIN: B00EUI42U2
Resources

Guide cover

Guide

Web sites
WordPress
My Telegraph
Goodreads


Ronin (Part 2)

As promised here’s another extract from Jan Domagala and his book Ronin.

 

PROLOGUE

He stood on the Observation Lounge looking out at the vista of stars, waiting to die.

Out of the four volunteers for the special experimental programme, only he and Kurt Stryder were left alive. The other two, Summerfield and Watson, had died in circumstances too horrible to contemplate. Was this his fate too, to die like them?

He knew there were risks involved in the programme, a fact of any experimental programme but seeing those risks, seeing the consequences up close and personal made him doubt the validity of both the programme and his eagerness to enlist in it. It was too late to pull out now though, for the final round of tests had been completed. At least he had gotten that far, more than could be said for Summerfield or Watson.

Turning away from the large panoramic viewport he decided to return to his quarters. It was after midnight station time, which was synchronous with Earth Central Time. At this time of night only the night shift were working keeping this station, Research Station Five, operational. He walked towards his quarters, nothing more than a cubicle with a bed really, and he entered. He soon had disrobed placing his uniform in the wardrobe, the only other piece of furniture present in the Spartan quarters before climbing into the bed.

He was more tired than he had first thought and sleep came to him quickly. After a few hours sleep, he was suddenly awakened by a searing pain that ripped through his abdomen like a wildfire. He tumbled out of bed wrapped in the duvet that strangled his movements. He tried to stand but a wave of nausea engulfed him like a raging tide washing over the shore. He stumbled and steadied himself against the wardrobe to prevent falling on

the floor then activated the locking pad on the door. As it opened on a cushion of compressed air he threw himself out into the corridor beyond.

A series of hacking coughs wracked his body and when his sight returned he saw the wall he had leaned against for support was splattered with blood.

This was not good. This was how the other two started before they died.

He was afraid then and he screamed for help before another coughing fit took control.

He fell to the floor, his stomach heaving, the pain building to excruciating levels. As he lay on the floor he turned his head to see a pair of boots running toward him. He had never felt such pain and he was so weak he could hardly lift his head.

He felt someone cradle his head and he looked up into a pair of worried eyes.

He coughed once more spraying the shirt of whoever was holding him with blood before he succumbed to the darkness that had been creeping into his peripheral vision.

The man cradling his head accessed a comm channel via his Neural Interface.

When the call was connected he said, “Sir, Captain Bell

has just died.”

1

Kurt Stryder was taking a shower when his Neural Interface tingled, telling him a comm. channel had been accessed and a call was coming through to him.

“Go ahead,” he said. The NI automatically connected him to various networks, wherever he was on a starship, station or on a planet, whether it was comm. networks or the main computer on board. Effectively doing away with the need for external devices, the NI gave remote access to the same sources. Most Col Sec personnel were fitted with these NI’s and also, some private citizens who could afford the cost of surgery, and the device.

“Something’s happened to Bell,” General Sinclair said, his voice coming through as clear as if he stood next to him in the room.

“What, same as the others?” Stryder asked almost knowing the answer, which would make his own worst fear come true.

“I’m afraid so, just like Summerfield and Watson.”

“How long have I got?” Stryder asked, for he was part of the same project and now, the only remaining test subject left alive.

“There’s no guarantee that what happened to them will also happen to you. They assure me they’re doing everything in their power, to get to the bottom of this,” Sinclair said.

“Excuse me sir if I don’t feel reassured. What I don’t understand is, if we all had the procedure at the same time, why have the others died at different intervals?”

“That’s something they’re looking into, I can assure you. I want you to come to the main lab right away. There are some tests they want you to perform and I want you

under close surveillance at all times, until we get to the bottom of this.”

“Right, I’ll just finish my shower and be right there sir.”

“There’ll be an escort waiting at your door when you’re ready, Sinclair out.”

Stryder continued with his shower now that the tell tale tingle had left him, as the connection was severed.

All he could think of was, when would he die? He’d seen the reports of the first two deaths and they were horrible. He’d seen his fair share of death during combat and had caused enough of his own to warrant his participation in this project. This was supposed to help bring about the end of the needless death, or at the very least, help reduce it. He had thought that if the results of this project helped to save one life in the field, then whatever they had to endure would be worth it.

Now he wasn’t so sure. It didn’t seem right to sacrifice three lives, possibly more, to save only one life. The balance was off, and he had no idea how to redress it.

Finishing his shower, he dried off and quickly got dressed in his uniform of white shirt and dark blue trousers. The Col Sec emblem was on the patch pocket on his shirt, over his heart and the three pips of his rank of captain were on the epithets. He glanced in the mirror to ensure he was presentable, but what he saw disturbed him somewhat. His blond hair was cut to regulation length, not too short but trimmed neatly around ears that lay flat against the side of his head. High cheekbones gave evidence of his Nordic ancestry, as did his cobalt blue eyes. His normal, warm smile was missing now, replaced with a worried frown. Trying not to think about what could lie ahead, he went to the door.

As the door opened he saw his escort, two marines from Recon Delta. Delta was his old unit, the elite of Col Sec, which meant the General was taking this development

seriously. The marines promptly fell in behind him as he left his room.

Arriving at the main lab he was met by General Sinclair and Doctor Baxter, the two main men heading this project. General Sinclair was in overall command of Col Sec; both Recon Delta and Intelligence Division. Doctor Baxter was in charge of the lab.

“There you are Captain,” Sinclair said as Stryder entered the lab, flanked by his escort. Sinclair was in his fifties but still ram-rod stiff from his years in Col Sec. His brown hair was receding from a high forehead in a widow’s peak. Below that, his deep brown eyes were unfathomable, as was his normal, stoic expression. Thin lips rarely if ever, spread into a smile. It was said in some circles that, if Sinclair had ever indulged in playing poker, with his normal deadpan expression, he could have been wealthy beyond his dreams.

“Yes sir, I see you’ve beefed up the security somewhat,” Stryder replied with a sardonic smile.

“Yes I thought it about time.”

“Granted, but don’t you think it smacks of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, just a little?”

“Your opinion is thus noted Captain, but Baxter here doesn’t share your sense of doom. Tell him Doctor.”

Stryder turned to the doctor not daring to hope. He said, “Tell me what, Doc?”

Baxter was smaller than the other men in the lab who were all professional soldiers standing between six feet one and six feet three inches tall, with lean hard physiques that had been honed through years of hard training. Baxter, however, was five feet ten inches tall, with a thin, reedy body that had rarely seen exercise. His mind though was as sharp as any blade known to man.

“Well Captain, you know as well as any on this project, that what we’ve witnessed, has been unprecedented and quite frankly, simply should not have happened…,” he

said, his slate grey eyes aglow with excitement. He ran his hand through his thinning, salt and pepper hair, and then pushed his spectacles up his aquiline nose, a habit of his when he was nervous, or excited.

“But it did happen, sir, three times now. The same every time. What I need to know is, when is it gonna be my turn and can you prevent it?” Stryder asked.

“But that’s just it, the same every time. All three died exactly the same.” said Baxter, thrusting his hands into the pockets of his white lab coat.

“I understand that Doctor, what’s your point?”

“You know the basis of what we’re doing here, right? We’ve injected you all with a serum that would alter you genetically; to enhance your immune system, to give you the ability to heal faster and to aggressively attack toxins.”

“Yes sir, I was briefed fully at the induction, we all were.”

“And you agree that no two people’s d.n.a. is exactly the same?”

“Yes sir.”

“So why would the treatment affect three people in exactly the same manner, at different intervals, when it has been proven, that there are no toxins present in the serum?”

“I don’t know Doctor; you tell me, you’re the expert. No wait, you suspect foul play. How is that possible? I thought the facility was locked down tighter than an air lock in deep space”

“It is, but considering we are in deep space, that comment is redundant. Having said that, it’s the only explanation that fits the facts,” Baxter said.

“So what’re we gonna do sir?” Stryder asked, glancing at the general.

“You are going to continue with the program, leave the security of this facility to me,” Sinclair replied confidently.

“Do you have a list of suspects sir? I’d like to know so I can keep an eye out, or am I to be the bait?” Stryder asked.

“We’re looking into it Captain,” Sinclair said, giving nothing away as usual.

Stryder watched as Baxter turned to the General and said, “Tell him.”

“Tell me what sir? What is it you’re keeping from me?” Stryder asked suspiciously.

Sinclair stared at Baxter for a second, his eyes boring into him with repressed anger. Baxter was a civilian scientist working for Col Sec, but not directly under Sinclair’s command, otherwise that little outburst would not have happened. He looked away from the doctor then turned to face Stryder. There was a battle going on inside his head, Stryder could see that. When he came to a decision he said, “Okay, we suspect that Captain Howard may have something to do with all this.”

“Howard? Isn’t he in charge of security here?”

“Yes and we have to handle this carefully. If he has ties to the Alliance, then we need to find out. We’ll have to keep him under close surveillance but without alerting him to the fact we’re on to him. If he is our man and he gets wind of our suspicions, there’s no telling what he might do.”

“One thought has occurred to me sir, why is he going to so much trouble, when this project clearly doesn’t work?” Stryder asked.

“Excuse me?” Baxter replied indignantly, staring at the taller man as if he had insulted him.

“Well sir, if this serum is supposed to increase our immune system, to make us more able to fight off toxins, how is he killing us off one by one? All the testing we’ve undergone so far has been to see if it affected us on a physical level. As far as I can see, our immune system has not been tested yet. Surely if a poison or toxin of some sort has been used shouldn’t the serum have neutralised it?” Stryder explained with no trace of malice.

Baxter’s expression softened a little. He said, “That again, is something of a mystery. You were right to point out about the testing. We had to ensure that the serum had no debilitating effects on your abilities to perform as a soldier. In fact, in your case Captain, it had quite the opposite effect; it actually increased your strength and stamina. I’m sure you’re aware that your endurance levels have increased by twenty five per cent.”

Stryder expressed mild surprise and a little bewilderment.

“To be honest Doc, I thought you were taking it easy on me, well on us, actually. I never realised it was just me, we never tested together. I just put it down to my training in Recon Delta being harder than what you put us through.” He paused then asked, “But why me?”

Baxter had no answer for him other than a shake of his head and a bemused expression. When he spoke his voice displayed his frustration.

“We’ve encountered so many variables that that were, to be honest, unexpected. Each test subject has had a different reaction to the serum, however small. You, it seems Captain, are the only one to exhibit any positive reaction to the serum. It seems the serum did not affect the immune system of the first three. In fact, once the autopsy results are in on Bell, I’m sure it will confirm my earlier findings, that their immune system, actually saw the serum as a threat, and destroyed it.”

“How is that possible sir, and what does it mean for me? Am I in danger from it?” Stryder asked a little concerned.

“On the contrary, it seems to have increased your metabolism, now all we need to do in order to get it to increase your immune system. We need to get it to attach itself onto your DNA to affect your immune system genetically; otherwise it could be perceived as a threat by

your body’s defences and be destroyed by the very thing it seeks to improve.”

“And how on earth do you intend to do that?”

“I’ve developed a nano serum, billions of tiny robots programmed to attach the serum to the specific strand of your d.n.a. We just inject it into your bloodstream and they get to work. We should see results within a very short time.” Baxter said smiling and almost rubbing his hands together in glee at the prospect of this new development.

“Billions of tiny robots Doc? I’m no scientist but how have you programmed so many, in such a short space of time,”

“We’ve been working on nano bots for many years. They’re used extensively throughout the medical profession as I’m sure you’re aware. Programming them was relatively easy; they work in series you see. If you programme one, it passes that data along to the rest almost instantaneously.”

“When are you planning on—” Stryder stopped short when he saw Baxter reach for a syringe.

“Right now Captain, roll up your sleeve please.”

Before he knew it the injection had been administered and he was pulling down his sleeve again.

“How soon Doc, before you know? What can I expect?” he asked, unsure of what would happen next.

“Not sure really, but the nano bots should get to work immediately. As to the question whether you’ll feel anything, I wouldn’t expect so. Remember this is taking place at the genetic level so the changes should go unnoticed until the immune system is threatened.”

“So what you’re saying basically, is that I won’t know if it’s worked until I get injured?” Stryder asked.

“Well, I suppose that’s somewhat true, yes,” Baxter replied seeming a little unsure.

“You don’t sound too confident Doctor.” Sinclair said.

“We’re not dealing with absolutes here, we’re into uncharted waters. This has never been attempted before and quite frankly, until we get some sort of results, until we can test this, I don’t know what to expect.”

“Forgive me Doc if I don’t feel reassured.” Stryder said.

“If it works though, just think of the potential. Think of the lives we’ll be able to save.” Baxter said, pushing his spectacles up his nose again.

“Going back to my earlier question about Howard sir, why is he going to so much trouble to kill us all off? Does he know something about this that we don’t, or is the Alliance so afraid that we may be on to something, that they’re desperate to stop us at any cost?”

“It’s no secret that they are desperate to prevent us gaining any sort of advantage over them and if they can’t duplicate our research, then the safest thing to do is either discredit it or destroy it,” Sinclair said.

“If he’s in charge of security won’t he be pissed off that you brought in Recon Delta to take over?”

“Oh, I do hope so,” Sinclair said with an uncharacteristically smug smirk.

“I get it, you want to rattle his cage and force him to make a mistake.”

“Of course,” Sinclair said.

“So, not only am I a guinea pig, but I’m bait now as well?” Stryder said.

Baxter looked from him over to Sinclair, then down to the floor, unable to maintain eye contact with him. The General though, had no trouble at all looking at him.

“Don’t feel guilty Doc, I’m first and always a soldier, this comes with the territory,” Stryder said never taking his eyes off Sinclair.

“You got that right Captain; this is what you signed up for,” Sinclair said coldly.

“Yeh! The life in Recon Delta, it’s not just a job, it’s an adventure.” said Stryder.

 

Download this book now from Amazon.


Ronin

Today I’ve got an extract from Jan Domagala and his book Ronin. Take a look and we’ll be showcasing more from this book tomorrow.

 

 

PROLOGUE

He stood on the Observation Lounge looking out at the vista of stars, waiting to die.

Out of the four volunteers for the special experimental programme, only he and Kurt Stryder were left alive. The other two, Summerfield and Watson, had died in circumstances too horrible to contemplate. Was this his fate too, to die like them?

He knew there were risks involved in the programme, a fact of any experimental programme but seeing those risks, seeing the consequences up close and personal made him doubt the validity of both the programme and his eagerness to enlist in it. It was too late to pull out now though, for the final round of tests had been completed. At least he had gotten that far, more than could be said for Summerfield or Watson.

Turning away from the large panoramic viewport he decided to return to his quarters. It was after midnight station time, which was synchronous with Earth Central Time. At this time of night only the night shift were working keeping this station, Research Station Five, operational. He walked towards his quarters, nothing more than a cubicle with a bed really, and he entered. He soon had disrobed placing his uniform in the wardrobe, the only other piece of furniture present in the Spartan quarters before climbing into the bed.

He was more tired than he had first thought and sleep came to him quickly. After a few hours sleep, he was suddenly awakened by a searing pain that ripped through his abdomen like a wildfire. He tumbled out of bed wrapped in the duvet that strangled his movements. He tried to stand but a wave of nausea engulfed him like a raging tide washing over the shore. He stumbled and steadied himself against the wardrobe to prevent falling on

the floor then activated the locking pad on the door. As it opened on a cushion of compressed air he threw himself out into the corridor beyond.

A series of hacking coughs wracked his body and when his sight returned he saw the wall he had leaned against for support was splattered with blood.

This was not good. This was how the other two started before they died.

He was afraid then and he screamed for help before another coughing fit took control.

He fell to the floor, his stomach heaving, the pain building to excruciating levels. As he lay on the floor he turned his head to see a pair of boots running toward him. He had never felt such pain and he was so weak he could hardly lift his head.

He felt someone cradle his head and he looked up into a pair of worried eyes.

He coughed once more spraying the shirt of whoever was holding him with blood before he succumbed to the darkness that had been creeping into his peripheral vision.

The man cradling his head accessed a comm channel via his Neural Interface.

When the call was connected he said, “Sir, Captain Bell

has just died.”

1

Kurt Stryder was taking a shower when his Neural Interface tingled, telling him a comm. channel had been accessed and a call was coming through to him.

“Go ahead,” he said. The NI automatically connected him to various networks, wherever he was on a starship, station or on a planet, whether it was comm. networks or the main computer on board. Effectively doing away with the need for external devices, the NI gave remote access to the same sources. Most Col Sec personnel were fitted with these NI’s and also, some private citizens who could afford the cost of surgery, and the device.

“Something’s happened to Bell,” General Sinclair said, his voice coming through as clear as if he stood next to him in the room.

“What, same as the others?” Stryder asked almost knowing the answer, which would make his own worst fear come true.

“I’m afraid so, just like Summerfield and Watson.”

“How long have I got?” Stryder asked, for he was part of the same project and now, the only remaining test subject left alive.

“There’s no guarantee that what happened to them will also happen to you. They assure me they’re doing everything in their power, to get to the bottom of this,” Sinclair said.

“Excuse me sir if I don’t feel reassured. What I don’t understand is, if we all had the procedure at the same time, why have the others died at different intervals?”

“That’s something they’re looking into, I can assure you. I want you to come to the main lab right away. There are some tests they want you to perform and I want you

under close surveillance at all times, until we get to the bottom of this.”

“Right, I’ll just finish my shower and be right there sir.”

“There’ll be an escort waiting at your door when you’re ready, Sinclair out.”

Stryder continued with his shower now that the tell tale tingle had left him, as the connection was severed.

All he could think of was, when would he die? He’d seen the reports of the first two deaths and they were horrible. He’d seen his fair share of death during combat and had caused enough of his own to warrant his participation in this project. This was supposed to help bring about the end of the needless death, or at the very least, help reduce it. He had thought that if the results of this project helped to save one life in the field, then whatever they had to endure would be worth it.

Now he wasn’t so sure. It didn’t seem right to sacrifice three lives, possibly more, to save only one life. The balance was off, and he had no idea how to redress it.

Finishing his shower, he dried off and quickly got dressed in his uniform of white shirt and dark blue trousers. The Col Sec emblem was on the patch pocket on his shirt, over his heart and the three pips of his rank of captain were on the epithets. He glanced in the mirror to ensure he was presentable, but what he saw disturbed him somewhat. His blond hair was cut to regulation length, not too short but trimmed neatly around ears that lay flat against the side of his head. High cheekbones gave evidence of his Nordic ancestry, as did his cobalt blue eyes. His normal, warm smile was missing now, replaced with a worried frown. Trying not to think about what could lie ahead, he went to the door.

As the door opened he saw his escort, two marines from Recon Delta. Delta was his old unit, the elite of Col Sec, which meant the General was taking this development

seriously. The marines promptly fell in behind him as he left his room.

Arriving at the main lab he was met by General Sinclair and Doctor Baxter, the two main men heading this project. General Sinclair was in overall command of Col Sec; both Recon Delta and Intelligence Division. Doctor Baxter was in charge of the lab.

“There you are Captain,” Sinclair said as Stryder entered the lab, flanked by his escort. Sinclair was in his fifties but still ram-rod stiff from his years in Col Sec. His brown hair was receding from a high forehead in a widow’s peak. Below that, his deep brown eyes were unfathomable, as was his normal, stoic expression. Thin lips rarely if ever, spread into a smile. It was said in some circles that, if Sinclair had ever indulged in playing poker, with his normal deadpan expression, he could have been wealthy beyond his dreams.

“Yes sir, I see you’ve beefed up the security somewhat,” Stryder replied with a sardonic smile.

“Yes I thought it about time.”

“Granted, but don’t you think it smacks of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, just a little?”

“Your opinion is thus noted Captain, but Baxter here doesn’t share your sense of doom. Tell him Doctor.”

Stryder turned to the doctor not daring to hope. He said, “Tell me what, Doc?”

Baxter was smaller than the other men in the lab who were all professional soldiers standing between six feet one and six feet three inches tall, with lean hard physiques that had been honed through years of hard training. Baxter, however, was five feet ten inches tall, with a thin, reedy body that had rarely seen exercise. His mind though was as sharp as any blade known to man.

“Well Captain, you know as well as any on this project, that what we’ve witnessed, has been unprecedented and quite frankly, simply should not have happened…,” he

said, his slate grey eyes aglow with excitement. He ran his hand through his thinning, salt and pepper hair, and then pushed his spectacles up his aquiline nose, a habit of his when he was nervous, or excited.

“But it did happen, sir, three times now. The same every time. What I need to know is, when is it gonna be my turn and can you prevent it?” Stryder asked.

“But that’s just it, the same every time. All three died exactly the same.” said Baxter, thrusting his hands into the pockets of his white lab coat.

“I understand that Doctor, what’s your point?”

“You know the basis of what we’re doing here, right? We’ve injected you all with a serum that would alter you genetically; to enhance your immune system, to give you the ability to heal faster and to aggressively attack toxins.”

“Yes sir, I was briefed fully at the induction, we all were.”

“And you agree that no two people’s d.n.a. is exactly the same?”

“Yes sir.”

“So why would the treatment affect three people in exactly the same manner, at different intervals, when it has been proven, that there are no toxins present in the serum?”

“I don’t know Doctor; you tell me, you’re the expert. No wait, you suspect foul play. How is that possible? I thought the facility was locked down tighter than an air lock in deep space”

“It is, but considering we are in deep space, that comment is redundant. Having said that, it’s the only explanation that fits the facts,” Baxter said.

“So what’re we gonna do sir?” Stryder asked, glancing at the general.

“You are going to continue with the program, leave the security of this facility to me,” Sinclair replied confidently.

“Do you have a list of suspects sir? I’d like to know so I can keep an eye out, or am I to be the bait?” Stryder asked.

“We’re looking into it Captain,” Sinclair said, giving nothing away as usual.

Stryder watched as Baxter turned to the General and said, “Tell him.”

“Tell me what sir? What is it you’re keeping from me?” Stryder asked suspiciously.

Sinclair stared at Baxter for a second, his eyes boring into him with repressed anger. Baxter was a civilian scientist working for Col Sec, but not directly under Sinclair’s command, otherwise that little outburst would not have happened. He looked away from the doctor then turned to face Stryder. There was a battle going on inside his head, Stryder could see that. When he came to a decision he said, “Okay, we suspect that Captain Howard may have something to do with all this.”

“Howard? Isn’t he in charge of security here?”

“Yes and we have to handle this carefully. If he has ties to the Alliance, then we need to find out. We’ll have to keep him under close surveillance but without alerting him to the fact we’re on to him. If he is our man and he gets wind of our suspicions, there’s no telling what he might do.”

“One thought has occurred to me sir, why is he going to so much trouble, when this project clearly doesn’t work?” Stryder asked.

“Excuse me?” Baxter replied indignantly, staring at the taller man as if he had insulted him.

“Well sir, if this serum is supposed to increase our immune system, to make us more able to fight off toxins, how is he killing us off one by one? All the testing we’ve undergone so far has been to see if it affected us on a physical level. As far as I can see, our immune system has not been tested yet. Surely if a poison or toxin of some sort has been used shouldn’t the serum have neutralised it?” Stryder explained with no trace of malice.

Baxter’s expression softened a little. He said, “That again, is something of a mystery. You were right to point out about the testing. We had to ensure that the serum had no debilitating effects on your abilities to perform as a soldier. In fact, in your case Captain, it had quite the opposite effect; it actually increased your strength and stamina. I’m sure you’re aware that your endurance levels have increased by twenty five per cent.”

Stryder expressed mild surprise and a little bewilderment.

“To be honest Doc, I thought you were taking it easy on me, well on us, actually. I never realised it was just me, we never tested together. I just put it down to my training in Recon Delta being harder than what you put us through.” He paused then asked, “But why me?”

Baxter had no answer for him other than a shake of his head and a bemused expression. When he spoke his voice displayed his frustration.

“We’ve encountered so many variables that that were, to be honest, unexpected. Each test subject has had a different reaction to the serum, however small. You, it seems Captain, are the only one to exhibit any positive reaction to the serum. It seems the serum did not affect the immune system of the first three. In fact, once the autopsy results are in on Bell, I’m sure it will confirm my earlier findings, that their immune system, actually saw the serum as a threat, and destroyed it.”

“How is that possible sir, and what does it mean for me? Am I in danger from it?” Stryder asked a little concerned.

“On the contrary, it seems to have increased your metabolism, now all we need to do in order to get it to increase your immune system. We need to get it to attach itself onto your DNA to affect your immune system genetically; otherwise it could be perceived as a threat by

your body’s defences and be destroyed by the very thing it seeks to improve.”

“And how on earth do you intend to do that?”

“I’ve developed a nano serum, billions of tiny robots programmed to attach the serum to the specific strand of your d.n.a. We just inject it into your bloodstream and they get to work. We should see results within a very short time.” Baxter said smiling and almost rubbing his hands together in glee at the prospect of this new development.

“Billions of tiny robots Doc? I’m no scientist but how have you programmed so many, in such a short space of time,”

“We’ve been working on nano bots for many years. They’re used extensively throughout the medical profession as I’m sure you’re aware. Programming them was relatively easy; they work in series you see. If you programme one, it passes that data along to the rest almost instantaneously.”

“When are you planning on—” Stryder stopped short when he saw Baxter reach for a syringe.

“Right now Captain, roll up your sleeve please.”

Before he knew it the injection had been administered and he was pulling down his sleeve again.

“How soon Doc, before you know? What can I expect?” he asked, unsure of what would happen next.

“Not sure really, but the nano bots should get to work immediately. As to the question whether you’ll feel anything, I wouldn’t expect so. Remember this is taking place at the genetic level so the changes should go unnoticed until the immune system is threatened.”

“So what you’re saying basically, is that I won’t know if it’s worked until I get injured?” Stryder asked.

“Well, I suppose that’s somewhat true, yes,” Baxter replied seeming a little unsure.

“You don’t sound too confident Doctor.” Sinclair said.

“We’re not dealing with absolutes here, we’re into uncharted waters. This has never been attempted before and quite frankly, until we get some sort of results, until we can test this, I don’t know what to expect.”

“Forgive me Doc if I don’t feel reassured.” Stryder said.

“If it works though, just think of the potential. Think of the lives we’ll be able to save.” Baxter said, pushing his spectacles up his nose again.

“Going back to my earlier question about Howard sir, why is he going to so much trouble to kill us all off? Does he know something about this that we don’t, or is the Alliance so afraid that we may be on to something, that they’re desperate to stop us at any cost?”

“It’s no secret that they are desperate to prevent us gaining any sort of advantage over them and if they can’t duplicate our research, then the safest thing to do is either discredit it or destroy it,” Sinclair said.

“If he’s in charge of security won’t he be pissed off that you brought in Recon Delta to take over?”

“Oh, I do hope so,” Sinclair said with an uncharacteristically smug smirk.

“I get it, you want to rattle his cage and force him to make a mistake.”

“Of course,” Sinclair said.

“So, not only am I a guinea pig, but I’m bait now as well?” Stryder said.

Baxter looked from him over to Sinclair, then down to the floor, unable to maintain eye contact with him. The General though, had no trouble at all looking at him.

“Don’t feel guilty Doc, I’m first and always a soldier, this comes with the territory,” Stryder said never taking his eyes off Sinclair.

“You got that right Captain; this is what you signed up for,” Sinclair said coldly.

“Yeh! The life in Recon Delta, it’s not just a job, it’s an adventure.” said Stryder.

 

Download this book now from Amazon and tune in tomorrow for another sneak peak.


A Guide to First Contact

Today s the turn of Terence Park and his novel A Guide to First Contact.

 

A mission to a near earth object. Sound familiar? I guess it should; we’ve been aiming at that for the last 50 years or so. Ruling out the Moon and Mars landings, the Rosetta mission to 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko counts as the first. What will we discover? Dunno; but in a fictional sense that’s where things kick off in my book: A Guide to First Contact.
 
Like most science fiction, Guide is a blend of fact and supposition. It has larger and smaller story arcs. In the outermost arc, evolution is set into a narrative framework. In doing this, attention is drawn to a wrinkle (or flaw) in Darwin’s thinking. It’s there which makes it convenient for plotting purposes. This arc goes on to describe classes of entity who are powerful enough to shape the course of life on Earth. To do this they use creatures who double up as living tools. Both classes of entity have a function and purpose – but events go awry. This ultimately drives them to take on human shape. So Guide has aliens who look like us, can act like us and in the end, start to think like us. Their story is touched upon enough to show personality and desire. 
Set within this is the main story arc. The hero in this is Triste, who is first tested and then goes on to become the bait in a larger scheme.
 
The minor story arcs are set in the present day and begin like this: Brent doesn’t fit. He’s a square peg in a round hole. Though he’s an intelligence liaison, he’s too clumsy to shack up to the woman he fancies. She heads up a research team who are busy looking into genetics and the history of man. What they don’t know is what they’re looking at is the result of an alien intervention, long, long ago, in the Late Pleistocene. Back in the present day, Brent’s long-time buddy, Watcher, bails him out again. Brent’s got a degree in haplessness – from the College of Life. 
 
The thing is, Watcher’s into stuff like conspiracies. Be careful Brent or you’ll be sucked in, gutted and hung up to dry.
 
Forty years later, the West has collapsed and the apocalypse is in full swing. What happened? Quite a lot. Earth was contacted by aliens triggering a rapture effect. No one has worked out what to do with the undying flesh of the undead. Most cities are abandoned as unsafe; they’re known as former urban areas. Xenogens – genetic plagues in all but name – are still raging out of control. Catch one and you degenerate into a dangerous, sub-human brute. The problem with dangerous, sub-human brutes is they’re xenogen carriers. Former Urban Area One (former New York) is crawling with them. Triste prowls its streets. There’s always work for a mercenary. 
 
Watch out Triste; something wicked is coming.
 
Heroes never listen. Triste meets Shoe. She’s on the run. They stumble upon an abandoned research lab and find old records of life before the apocalypse. But will they work out what went wrong? Do they want to? Shoe has got dark secrets; she knows more about xenogens than she lets on. There are other things she can’t tell Triste.
 
What does it mean to be human? Some appear human but aren’t. Others aren’t aware of the fact they’re not human. What comes after? (us of course) The apocalypse is the trigger. It takes the shape of a genetic storm which impacts on the human race as epidemics. This is a pre-cursor to post-human creatures. They begin to appear. The main character meets one. Not everything is sweetness and light in this future Earth, but they reach out to each other. They get to debate whether God exists. A key undercurrent is sex, but this rarely breaks the surface. There is more than one ‘First Contact’. The most powerful characters are female; the story won’t work otherwise. Guide, however, isn’t a feminist tract.
 
I’ve put up a resources site which is here: https://aguidetofirstcontact.wordpress.com/ After my book was edited (by Stephen Cashmmore of SfEP) I did a web interview with Louise Harnby which is here: www.louiseharnbyproofreader.com/4/post/2013/09/client-talk-the-independent-author-tp-archie.html (note: at that point I was writing under my web name). Guide is made up of two novels: The Fécunda, and The Xenocotrix. At some point in the future I will break it up into its constituent parts.
 
Where to get it: 
The UK links are:
 
US links are:
 
See also:

 


The City of the Mirage

It’s the end of the weekend and today we’re featuring author Jerome Brooke who has kindly taken the time to answer some questions about his book The City of the Mirage.

 

 

I think with any fantasy novel setting is always important. Can you describe to us your world and the influences you have had in creating such a place?

My Dark Empire of Astarte is set in the Multiverse. We live in a Cosmos that is one among many. Over the eons our children will sail to the stars and seed them with life. Astarte is one of the last born on our world, Sol III. She is the Great Queen, and is worshiped as a goddess in her realm.
We sometimes speculate that our reality is only one plane of existence – a cosmic cluster of galaxies. We also ask – where is everyone? A civilization should expand and fill the galaxy. Are we the very first, with a cosmic destiny?

What type of character is Astarte?

I wanted someone who was unlike the usual hero armed with a sword, with our own conceptions of right and wrong. She can be cruel, a “Dark Lord.” Her story is a Dark Fantasy. She has lived for eons, and seeks mortal lovers to amuse her. That is, she seeks to find a warrior to make her life interesting for a time. She needs a hero to fight and conquer for her entertainment.

The Conqueror is an ally to Astarte what is their relationship like?

The Immortal Astarte is a really Older Woman. The Conqueror is repelled by her savagery. However, she is powerful, and passionate. She gives him fine garments to wear, and delights to see him triumph in battle.

She is proud of her lover, and delights in war as a way to excite her, and as a cure for boredom.

A lot of people are put off by huge fantasy books, but The City of the Mirage is quite short for an epic fantasy – is it still packed full of adventure (and can you tell us some of the things that happen).

The hero is one of an Archetype. His adventures are akin to those of Beowulf. He leads her army into battle, and displays the valor expected of a hero. He also is handsome, and women respond to his valor and battle scars in an atavistic fashion (an instinct?).

The novel appeared as a serial in a magazine. Each chapter can be read as a separate, like the Conan or Sherlock Holmes tales. There were at one time long and short versions, and it all depends of what publishers will like and buy.

Astarte is obviously a name taken from Greek mythology, are there other Greek influences?

In the Empire, people wear garments like those of the classical world. These are tunics and capes, and loincloths. The weapons and armor are also taken from the eras of Rome and Sparta, and the Teutonic tribes. I imagine the same for the Conan and Gor series.

Are there any films or books that you would say are similar to The City of the Mirage?

I use the Conan and Gor books as a model. The Conan stories can be read alone, but share the same age and world. They have elements of a novel or saga. The same is true for the many books and stories of the Dark Empire of Astarte series, and also my other related series.

What is your favourite part of the story?

The final battle to serve Astarte is one I like. The enemy lord is beheaded, and his head is placed on a pike. The lips of the man still move, as if animated by an otherworldly vitality.

The City of the Mirage is part of a series called The Dark Empire of Astarte Collection, how many books are in this series and how many (include titles) are available to readers.

Under various pen names I have hundreds of books, stories, poetry chaps, collections and anthologies. The F&SF is mostly under the Jerome Brooke byline. There are 15 books on Amazon in the series (search under Brooke Dark Empire). However, there are related spin offs and related books and series.

How big is this series going to be and where do you hope to go with it?

I like the universe I have created for Astarte, and I issue new editions or revised versions as time permits. However, I am working on new unrelated series – series that are much more popular. So, the adventures of Astarte may or may not continue.

What about Jerome Brooke – after The Dark Empire what’s next for you?

I am writing the newer Kitti Katzz series, a series of sexy stories that are much more popular with readers than my F&SF. For example, I have recently put out a collection of “Sister Wives” books written as Kitti Katzz. Another resent series is my “Ladyboy and Her Girlfriend” books. Other like sets are ones that focus on Boss Ladies, Fantasy Maids, Uncensored Case Sexology Studies and so forth.

Another related series are the “Sister Severa” and “Mother Superior” series written as Juliet Baranne. Still another recent series is my Voodoo books of paranormal genre written as Joan Barron.

I am able to write the Kitti Katzz books quickly, and they are usually more popular among readers than the F&SF. However, The F&SF has some appeal to some readers, so I may do more if time permits. I live in Thailand, and have a family here. These are unsettled times, in this Kingdom of Siam.

 

You can download this book here from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/City-Mirage-Empire-Astarte-Collection-ebook/dp/B00JEVEDS6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1411169996&sr=8-1&keywords=city+jerome+brooke

And read more from Jerome Brooke: http://runesofthebard.wordpress.com/


Mexican Radio and Other Short Stories

This week I’ve been chatting with Jaysen True Blood and he has been telling me all about his book of short stories. Here’s what he has to say:

 

 

Mexican Radio and Other Short Stories is a real mix of genres, is there a running theme or style that unites each story?

Not really. I am a “stream of consciousness” writer.

This book is in two volumes, should the stories be read in order and how are the volumes different to one another?

The only stories out of order in the book are the westerns, and I didn’t realise it until after publication. Other than that, the others that are part of a series are all in order. But as a whole, the stories can be read in any order.

So let’s pick your favourite of the short stories – tell us a bit about it.

I would have to pick the title story, “Mexican Radio”. I had the silly song running through my head when I began and thought: “wouldn’t this make a great story? Then, I put the main character in the most impossible position I could-a staged prison break that he uses to his own benefit, and that of the female lead. Although there are so many excellent stories in these two books.

Who is your favourite character in all of the stories and what sets him/her above the others?

I would have to say either Fancy Marsh or Guy Marlowe. Fancy, because he carries a buffalo gun and knows how to use it, and Guy because he is fast with both guns and at cards.

What locations feature in your stories, are they based on real places?  

Most of my stories could be located anywhere, except a few sci-fi, but I do mention L.A., Baton Rouge, and a few other US cities, but there is only one-the historical fiction piece-that is based solely on fact…with conjecture mixed in.

Overall how many stories feature in each volume and how big on average is each story?

Book 2 has 23 stories and the Book 1 has 14.

Who is your target audience for Mexican Radio and Other Short Stories?

Anyone who likes a good story and loves adventure, no matter where the action takes them.

So you have your favourite but is there a particular scene you can show us from any of the stories?

As I raised up out of my hiding place in the backseat, she looked in the rear view mirror. As I scooted to a position right behind her, she thrust her can of mace in my face and commenced to sprayin’. I bellered in pain and surprise. Even though she was chokin’ on the mace herself, she didn’t let up until I knocked it loose from her grasp.

“Are ya stupid?!?” I exclaimed, eyes, nose and throat burning as if I’d swallowed a match and splashed gasoline in my eyes.

(From “Mexican Radio”)

And finally what is next for Jaysen True Blood?

I have two novellas, “Bad Company” and “The Faust Syndrome”, due out in a couple months and am working on a third. I also have another collection in the works.

 

You can download Mexican Radio and Other Short Stories now from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Mexican-Radio-Other-Short-Stories-ebook/dp/B00FLL00GM/ref=la_B00IUNJWFI_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1411485010&sr=1-4


The Running Game

I’ve been promoting authors for the past three weeks and – well you might have already seen – I also write books. This week one of my own stories is reduced to $0.99/£0.99 so I thought today I would shove the other authors out of the way and bring you an extract of my book The Running Game and don’t forget your comments are encouraged and welcome.

 

 

Five past eleven. Rachel’s shift should have finished three hours ago. She slammed her time-card into the machine. Nothing. She gave it a kick, then another until it released, punching her card and signing her out for the night. The hospital locker room was unusually quiet. There was a nurse signing out for the night, two doctors signing in. Nobody spoke to each other – it wasn’t that kind of place. Grabbing her threadbare coat from her locker, she drew it over her scrubs – the only barrier between her and the unforgiving October night. She walked through the ER waiting room, eyes fixed on the exit. You had to ignore the desperation. Three hours over a twelve hour shift, you had no choice but to pretend like you didn’t care. Push past the mothers offering up their sick children like you could just lay your hands on them and everything would be better. Push past the factory workers bleeding out on the floor. Push that door open and get out. Get home. You had to. In six hours the whole thing would start again.

The first blast of cold air slapped the life into her aching body. The second blast nearly pushed her back inside. She tightened the coat around herself, for the good it would do. November was coming, and coming fast. She quickened her pace, trying to outrun the winter.

She hurried past the skeletal remains of another fallen bank, a relic of the days when there had been an economy. Now the abandoned building housed those left to the streets; the too old, the too young, the weak, the stupid. Cops would be coming soon, moving them on, pushing them from one shadow to another until dawn or death, whichever came first. But for now they sat, huddled around burning canisters, silently soaking in the heat as though they could carry that one flame through winter. They didn’t notice Rachel. Even the really bad men lurking in the doorways, waiting for helpless things to scurry past, overlooked the young doctor as she made her way home. Nobody ever saw her. At least they never used to.

Three – two – one. Right on cue. She felt someone watching her. It was always the same place, opposite the third window of the old bank. He was hidden, not in the bank but close. So close she could almost feel his breath on the back of her neck. She’d watched muggings before, these were desperate times and people took what they could when they could. There were rapes too, five this week, at least five that had needed medical care. It was a dangerous city and getting worse. But this was different. He – and for some reason she knew it was a he – did nothing. For a week he had been there, never betraying his position or his intentions, but she could feel him and the longer he waited the more he tormented her. He knew where she lived, where she worked, the route she took to the exchange store. And he escorted her home each night without ever showing himself. It made no sense. And that made it so much worse.

She wasn’t intimidated easily, doctors in St Mary’s couldn’t be. It didn’t matter that she was only five feet tall and looked like a strong wind would knock her down, she had to take care of herself. But the stalking had spooked her. The sleepless nights followed, wondering who he was, what he wanted, if he knew.

There was nowhere for her to go in the city, no place she could hide, no escape. If she wanted to eat she had to work and he would be waiting for her outside the hospital – watching, doing nothing. She was tired of it, tired of everything, but there was something she could do. She could make it stop, one way or another. Whatever he had planned, whatever he wanted to do to her, he would have to look her in the eye as he did it, because she was done running.

She stopped walking and turned.

The street was empty. But she could still feel him there. The buildings pressed their darkness into the street and the spattering of hissing lamplights did little to expose the nocturnal danger below. There was noise, there was always noise; voices, vehicles, the persistent buzzing of the electricity struggling to reach the edges of the city. So much going on, so little to see – a perfect place to hide.

“Okay you pervert,” she whispered to herself. “Where’re you hiding?”

The road stretched back into a tightrope. Gingerly, her feet edged back towards the ruined bank. She scanned the buildings around her, the upper windows, the ground level doorways, waiting for him to pounce. One step – two step. Look. Nothing. She retraced her steps to the next building. Then the next. He felt so close – why couldn’t she see him?

“You want me, well here I am, you freak. Come and get me!”

There was a shout from the bank. Someone running. A man. Her stomach clenched. She braced herself. He pushed by her, hurrying away. It wasn’t him.

She turned confused and warm breath touched the back of her neck.

“Get down!” The world went white.

 

You can download this book for $1.66/£0.99 for this week only

http://www.amazon.com/Running-Game-Reachers-Book-ebook/dp/B00G7VJ0GG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1410981330&sr=8-1&keywords=the+running+game+l+e+fitzpatrick