(review request submitted by Erin Lale, contributing author/editor, for an honest critique)
(Story One)The End of Historyby Gordon Yaswen explored TIME in the manners of science and philosophy. In doing so, Yaswen reached a broader audience. The more individuals who can debate/explore a topic = more readers, more press. That is the goal of most writers. To get people talking about their work!
(Story Two)Space is majestic, but it also comes with obstacles and fears. Every time a person explores space and the unknown, they are essentially gambling with their life. If something life-threatening happens in space, there is no 9-1-1. You and your comrades only have yourselves to rely on and no one else. All of this was emphasized in Choiceby Ralph Ewig.
(Story Three) Noble Northern Spirit by Erin Lale was vastly different from its predecessors in this anthology. Erin Lale did not venture out into space. Her adventures took place on Earth. Hers centered almost entirely around magic.
Through the fourteen chapters, Erin Lale mentioned witches, the mob, drug smuggling, Jesus, Satan, and (deep breath) THOR!
There were several mythical beings discussed, in-depth or in passing. She really threw everything into the story except the kitchen sink. 😀
Speaking of kitchen sink, if I had magical powers, I’d used them to tackle the dishes in my sink. 😛
(Story Four) Testing Time by Tony Thorne MBE could be plausible in one aspect. If any citizen created a working time machine or force field, the military would be all over them. They’d confiscate the tech and the person.
The interesting part of Testing Timecame millions of (Earth) years later. I wished this section was explored more. Yes, I want about another 10-20 more pages. Why? Because there was so much more Tony Thorne could’ve said. Testing Time felt like it was just getting started when the story was (technically) wrapping up.
Tony, I would love for you to expand this tale. I’d read it if you did. 🙂
(Story Five) The Artist Formerly Known as G-d by Erin Lale discussion of time travel, disruption of events, changing history, and warnings about when/where not to travel got me thinking. If I could travel to any period, where would I blast off to first?
I don’t know about Aunti Cassie and her opinion of her time spent with da Vinci. It might be an unforgettable experience to witness the creation of one of his genius inventions.
The only thing I know for sure…I would limit my time in any place which didn’t have indoor plumbing. I’m a bit spoiled in that way. 😀
(Story Six) The Beginning by J.L. Toscano would appeal to anyone who works in the sciences or is fascinated by science as a hobby. My hubby and his friends regularly discuss, and debate topics brought up in The Beginning. There’s also a theory that we (Earthlings) are merely puppets, and someone is pulling our strings. After reading The Beginning, you’ll wonder if this theory could be plausible. I’m sure many will debate this question. 🙂
Heart Rating System: 1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) Score: ❤❤❤
Ralph Ewig, from Western Europe, a rocket scientist at SpaceX.
Tony Thorne MBE, awarded a chivalric order by the Queen of England for advances in cryosurgery tools and carbon fiber furnaces, resides in the Canary Islands.
J.L. Toscano, a teacher at the Scarsdale Schools in New York.
Maria Arango, from Cuba, a woodcut artist.
Lisa Yount, from California, an artist and jeweller.
Erin Lale, invented technical processes in iDEN and CDMA wireless communications technology.
Erin Lale writes fiction, nonfiction, poetry, etc. She published Berserkrgangr Magazine, owned The Science Fiction Store in Las Vegas, was Acquisitions Editor at Eternal Press / Damnation Books, reviews books for Eternal Haunted Summer Magazine, writes an official blog for Witches and Pagans Magazine, and is the originator of the Time Yarns shared world universe. She lives in Nevada with her black cat, Happy.
For those who might not be familiar with you, would you be a dear and tell the readers a little about yourself? How did you get your start in the writing business?
(Rexx)Nobody is ‘born to write’. I am no exception. I’d never been particularly good with grammar, and had no idea about the more complex rules (I probably still don’t, truth be told). How to write dialogue was beyond me, and I had no idea where to start with plot.
The closest I’d ever come to ‘proper’ writing was when I entered an Interactive Fiction competition in 2004 (IFComp) and wrote a text adventure based on the legend of the origin of Tai Chi. I really enjoyed describing locations and creating puzzles, and I was happy with that, so it never occurred to me to write a novel.
In 2011, I met my partner, Kris. He wasn’t a particular fan of many of the TV programs I enjoyed, but I convinced him to watch a boxset of that 90’s classic, Babylon 5, and he fell in love with it. Around this time, I convinced him to start using a wheelchair because of his disability and, after some strong initial resistance, he took it up and found the wheelchair liberating. In 2012, I started a new job at a software development company that focused on behaviourism, and while working there I realised that I could *learn* to write. It was just a skill other people learn, after all.
By 2013, Prompted by my love of Babylon 5 and games like Mass Effect, I had started making notes. Kris provided the inspiration for several character notes and plot points; I was desperate to write something scifi that involved a wheelchair, but didn’t ‘fix’ disability. Once I’d convinced myself I’d got enough notes to start forming a plot of sorts, I started reading books about the various components of writing and finally put pen to paper / fingers to keyboard. At this point, Kris started training to be a fitness instructor, so I used the time while he did his courses to begin writing.
Come the end of 2013, I’d completed the first draft of Synthesis:Weave. It was another year of editing (and seven more drafts) before I handed it over to my editor and subsequently rushed to publish it. Now, years later, and after having written the sequel, I regretted that decision and went back to tear it down in a rewrite, which has now been published as a second edition in August 2018.
(Kam) I’ve read many backstories and I find yours to be one of the most intriguing ones I’ve read. As for Babylon 5: I’m more of a “Star Trek: The Next Generation” kind of gal. I love Picard! BTW: Kris, in the photo above, is an inspiration to all who think that something is impossible. There’s no shame in trying. If you fail, that’s ok, at least you tried.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, please share how you handle it.
(Rexx) For me, writer’s block seems to come about because of two things that actually have the same cause: lack of information.
I’ll get stuck because I’ve not thought of some way for characters to get out of/into a situation, or not enough backstory. I’ll also find myself paralysed when I don’t know where the plot should go next – usually because it could go in far too many directions. Both of these are down to not having a vital piece of information – be that something I need to think of in backstory, or some way of limiting what can happen next.
I’m a plotter, although I don’t go to such depth as planning chapters and scenes. Instead, I plan ‘waypoints’ – information I want to relay to the reader, significant events I want to happen, problems that can occur, and occasionally fully-written scenes I want to insert. I don’t necessarily know the order of these when I write them, so once I’ve got enough I’ll go through and group them into themes which often end up representing the start, early middle, late middle and ending of the book’s plot.
I start writing and then see where each of these points leads, so getting stuck is a consequence of not having the right piece of the puzzle to put in next to continue the flow. It can sometimes be remedied by writing on paper instead of using a keyboard; the medium forces me to go forwards without being able to stop and edit what I’ve put down. Other times, prompting myself about the problem before driving to work or doing some other menial task will mean I suddenly have an idea when I’m not expecting it.
Will you please share with the visitors what genre(s) you write? Also, when you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
(Rexx)I currently write science fiction, although I like to veer slightly off-genre to mix things up a little. Only recently, I discovered that my work falls into ‘solarpunk’. While I will read dystopian, I wouldn’t want to write it and prefer upbeat/optimistic scifi.
When I’m not writing or doing my day job (as a systems developer), I like to play computer games. I don’t spend as much time reading as I probably should, but I do read to my partner before bed, so I guess that counts.
I’ve been in a group of RPG players for just over 10 years now, and we play 3rd edition D&D – although it took them nine years to convince me to have a go at running the game myself. They enjoyed it, and I recently convinced them to give Traveller (scifi rpg) a go. I think playing D&D has fed back into my writing and given me a way to understand the characters I write and get into their heads. Similarly, writing has furnished me with the tools to make up my own adventures and encounters with greater ease.
(Kam) I’ve played D&D once in my life. My husband introduced me to it because he spent so much time playing it in his youth. He hoped I would love it too but I didn’t. Guess I’ll stick with Yahtzee, Uno, and Scrabble.
I know many writers, such as myself, keep their pastime/career a secret. Do those close to you know you write? If so, what are their thoughts?
(Rexx) If I think people might be interested in scifi, I’ll mention my novel(s). I’m actually more proud of the fact that I write than of the work I do every day, simply because it’s easier to talk to people about writing than it is to explain the technicalities of my day job.
My relatives and friends are proud of my writing (or so they say), but at times it’s a delicate balance to keep from getting obsessed with writing and have it getting in the way of my relationship with my partner.
Will you share with us your all-time favorite authors? If you’re like me, it’s a long list so give us your top ten.
(Rexx) I’ve read mostly ‘classic’ scifi and fantasy authors, and very few contemporaries, hence my skewed favourites.
Ursula Le Guin
Arthur C Clarke
Alan Dean Foster
(Kam) Some of these names are not familiar to me. For that, I say thank you. I love being introduced to new authors/reading material.
If you could choose one book to go to the big screen, yours or otherwise, which book would you choose and whom would you love to see cast in the parts?
(Rexx) I’m going to be self-indulgent. I want to see Synthesis:Weave on screen. I wrote it to feel like a movie.
Bill Nighy (the British actor, not the science guy) as a particular enigmatic figure.
Rachel Weisz as Monica Stephens
Tom Hiddleston or James McAvoy as Sebastian
Bryce Dallas Howard as Sebastian’s sister, Janyce.
Emily Blunt as Karan
Ben Cross as Agent Gladrin (I had him in mind when writing the character)
A genuine amputee (double or otherwise) to play Aryx. Favouring Kurt Yaeger, although there are several paralympians who would suit, if they could act!
The laws of physics are about to change …
A tsunami on a space station. An explosion with no trace of the bomber.
Cyber-security expert Sebastian knows evidence doesn’t magically disappear, yet when he and his colleague Aryx, a disabled ex-marine, travel the galaxy to find the cause, there seems to be no other explanation.
Can they unravel the mystery before his family, home, and an entire race succumbs to an ancient foe?
Would you care to tell us what you’re working on now? That is if it’s not top-secret information. If so, just whisper it in my ear. I swear it’ll go no further.
(Rexx) I’ve finished the sequel to Synthesis:Weave, and at this time I’m working on the cover for that, along with plotting the final book in the trilogy. I’ve also got ideas for an unrelated mild scifi set on present-day Earth, which I want to centre on a female character – it’s going to have a completely different feel to anything I’ve written so far.
Where can we find your stories, and is there a particular reading order?
(Rexx) Ebooks are available on Kindle, Kobo, Google play and Nook (all DRM free, so you can read it on any of the devices you own, regardless of which platform you purchase it from). Paperback and hardback formats are also available.
The preferred reading order is the order in which they were written. Synthesis:Weave was written first, followed by the short story prequel, Synthesis:Pioneer, which, when read after S:W, gives the ‘oh, so that’s what they meant!’ factor.
Synthesis:Weave 2, Afterglow is due out in March 2019, and follows immediately on from Synthesis:Weave.
When Calendula accepted the post of linguist aboard the Fluorescent Lightingale, she felt as though she’d been accepted as a token crew member. Little did she know what pivotal role she would play in Earth’s future.
Please note, Synthesis:Pioneer is a prequel short story to the Synthesis novel series only, and not a full-length novel.
Would you please share how your present and future fans can contact you?
(Rexx) By contact form on rexxdeane.com, or on Twitter @RexxDeane – I don’t tend to use Facebook much now and have been distancing myself from that platform, although I do have a page there.
Before we conclude this enlightening interview, do you have anything else you’d like to share? The stage is all yours.
(Rexx)I would like readers (and perhaps writers) to remember that just because a book has a character with a disability, it’s important not to make the disability the focus of the book. Disabled people just want to get on with their lives, and quite often get sick of being lectured or constantly presented with books that say they should behave a certain way. To be presented realistically, disabled characters should be the same. Just have them “get on with it,” and readers will love your book for it.
Your final comments (Q10) are absolutely true. People don’t want to be seen for what they can’t do but praised for the things they’ve accomplished. Disabled or not, we are all capable of truly amazing feats.
I want to thank Rexx for sitting down with me today. I also want to thank everyone who’s reading this and decides to share, comment, or purchase Synthesis: Weave and/or Synthesis: Pioneer. Remember, reviews are helpful to authors. They love them. I’m sure Rexx especially loved the ones posted to Goodreads.(See below)
Chris B. (Synthesis:Weave), 5⭐: A Scifi story that keeps you gripped from beginning to end, with many twists & turns, a must read for all Scifi fans, it’s an excellent read, looking forward to a second book in the future 🙂
Alastair (Synthesis: Weave), 5⭐: I read this, and I liked it. Full of inventive ideas, spaceships, aliens and mystery. What’s not to like?
Rose E. (Synthesis: Pioneer), 5⭐: This is a very short SciFi story about 30 minutes of reading in which we get an introduction to ‘The Synthesis Series’, and a brief insight into the very varied crew on board the ‘Fluorescent Lightingale’.
This tale centres around the linguist aboard who goes by the name ofCalendula a talented young woman who uses all her senses. I particularly like how the author describes what she smells and hears upon boarding the ship.
I really do not wish to say more otherwise the story may be spoiled, but I do know that I will be moving the main story up my reading list.
(Kam) Yes, I know the last review had a typing error but I didn’t think it was appropriate to change it. It’s their review, not mine. Plus, I don’t think the error undermines the love Rose had for the story. 😛
Meet former space engineer, Joe Ballen. These days, he’s scraping a living flying cabs in flooded-out Baltimore, trying to avoid the clutches of his boss and the well-meaning advice of an old friend. When one of his passengers suffers a grisly death, Joe is dragged into a dangerous web of ruthless academic rivalry centered on a prototype spaceship.
As the bodies pile up, Joe becomes suspect number one, and his enemies will stop at nothing to hide the truth. With the help of an enigmatic scientist, a senile survivalist, and the glamorous Ms Buntin, can Joe untangle the conspiracy and prove his innocence before it’s too late?
Mathematics Of Eternity: the first in an explosive SF thriller series by a fantastic new Canadian author.
The future’s about to get a lot more action-packed!
“Negotiations between the assembled Earth nations and Atoll negotiators broke down today, with no relaxation of the restrictions on Earth-based extra-orbital operations. General Chadwick, from the combined Atoll security forces, stated there would be a vigorous response to any attempt by Earth to increase operations outside Low Earth Orbit, other than the Mars mining operation. He also said that this boycott included the starship—”
I stabbed the off-button hard enough to make the plastic click sound like a gun had gone off inside the car. The news shouldn’t have bothered me, but it did. The fact that I used to work in space was part of it—the fact that I couldn’t any longer was another. But mostly it was because the Atolls were right—we didn’t deserve another chance.
I pulled up outside The Kase waiting for the traffic lights to change. The rain on the windshield distorted the garish neon and holo-projections from the bar into painful tracks that burned ghostly afterimages on my retina. I rubbed my face to ease the ache in my eyes, a two-day growth of beard rasping against my palms. Time to polish yourself up a bit, Ballen, otherwise someone’s going to think you stole this cab. It had been that kind of night. The only thing keeping me going was the thought that my tour was over for another twelve hours.
The cab bucked and I grabbed the shuddering controls, wrestling the car into a level attitude. The door hissed open as someone slid in the back. The turbines whined as the stability systems fought to compensate for the shift in weight distribution and for a second I thought we were going to plummet to the ground.
I cursed loudly, my fingers only slowly releasing the death grip I had on the controls as the motions steadied, not caring if my new passenger heard. The old adage was true—there really is always one.
“You better watch yourself, chief.” My cab had been almost a meter away from the Jump-Off platform—a potential disaster when you’re sixty meters up at L4. “That’s not a choice likely to take you to retirement.”
All I could see in the mirror was a dark shadow filling the entire back seat. “I’m off duty. You’ll have to call someone else.”
“Two-Seven-Three Fairland Road, Ell-One. Rossmoor.” The voice had a liquid rasp that didn’t sound like it came from drink alone. More like the death rattle from a set of lungs drowning in a sea of flesh.
Maybe he hadn’t heard. I sure didn’t want a forty-kilometer detour on my own clock. “The light’s out, chief—I’m off-duty. Give me a break and get out.”
I nudged against the Jump-Off and re-opened the door. He didn’t move, and I turned round to get my first proper look at him. Purple and red bar lights reflected on his waxy skin, and he must have weighed well over a hundred-eighty kilos. A sweat-drenched green jacket molded itself to both his torso and the seat, making his face look sickly. I couldn’t remember ever seeing anyone so overweight, outside historicals. Everything about him was bloated. From the head that flowed directly into his shoulders without the benefit of an intervening neck, to the corpulent fingers gripping the worn parahyde seat as if he were scared he’d fall off the world. It was no wonder the car had struggled—he was a one-man weight-restriction violation.
Sometimes when the circuits fail, all you can do is accept it and reroute. There wasn’t a chance I’d be able to get him out single-handed. It would be easier to take him where he wanted to go and hope he was sober enough to get out under his own steam.
I shrugged and hit the meter. The lights had long since gone green, so I eased the throttle forward to minimize any motion sickness. The last thing I needed was the alcoholic excess in his gut emptying in the back of the cab. Then, as if I needed anything else to make my night miserable, an asshole in a Saber cut me up from below. His streamlined tail almost clipping the front of the cab as I wrestled to keep things together in the turbulent wash from the arrest-me red sports car.
I shook my head. “Life’s too short,” I muttered.
“Your statement carries a paradoxical veracity that forms a Universal comedy.”
I hadn’t meant to be overheard and didn’t generally start conversations with drunks. His quirky mannerisms singled him out from the usual fare, though. It’s true you see pretty much every aspect of life while driving a cab, and after two years I’d seen them all. But I’d never had anyone using phrases like paradoxical veracity—not even sober.
“It was a rather discourteous maneuver. You should tag him.”
My jaw tightened. Decades ago, the Saber driver would have been handled by the national sport known as “drive-by shooting.” Now, with the promotion of civic thinking, we had the more humane, if less immediate, option of tagging anti-social behavior. The all-seeing Argus brain reviewed each tag and, if judged guilty, the appropriate points were added to your citizenship record. Amass enough, and you faced fines, community service, or “attitudinal re-adjustment” in severe cases. An electronic voxpop bringing peace and tranquility to the teeming streets and suburbs of the United States and Provinces.
I should have tagged the guy, but I’d never really bought into the idea. My previous life had left me used to the rough and tumble of a more anarchic environment, where you relied on personal relationships and dealt with problems by rolling up your sleeves and getting stuck in when needed. Marking someone with a coded low-energy laser felt a little unsatisfying, not to mention cowardly.
“I guess I’m not quick enough,” I said. “No harm done.”
My passenger’s deep-set eyes seemed to darken in the RearView. “You have a good heart, sir. Most people find it easy to use that particular reflex.”
“You’ve definitely had too much to drink.” His manner and old-fashioned speech piqued my curiosity enough for me to break my own rule and attempt a conversation. “A good night, chief?”
“Good night?” He hesitated. “In the bar?”
“Sure. You were in The Kase, right?”
“Was that its name? I didn’t really take much notice.” He looked out of the window as the city lights from the buildings slipped past us. “I don’t get out much.”
His size made that seem likely. “You must have had a good few drinks if you don’t know where you were. Was it a celebration?”
“Oh, I wasn’t drinking. I’ve been in so many bars tonight I don’t remember them all.”
I was getting annoyed now. Not with my passenger, but with myself. I’d broken my no-engagement rule, and now it turned out he was simply another drunk who couldn’t remember how much he’d had, or where he’d been. Besides, I should have been home. “What were you doing then? Those places only have one purpose.”
“I bought a lot of people drinks. They seemed to enjoy it.”
“That’s pretty generous. You must be one of those eccentric millionaires I see in the trashy Solidos.”
“Millionaire?” He seemed genuinely surprised and coughed wetly. “No, I’m not especially wealthy. Money doesn’t matter anymore.”
“It does to some of us, chief.”
I followed Broadway south, passing over the bloated wetlands that stretched across the old Inner Harbor and Federal Hill. The once grand buildings footed several meters in the water lapping around their crumbling lower levels. Many were flood-thrus, but I could see faint glimmers of light creeping out of the grimy windows. Wet-foot didn’t care where they lived. All they wanted was a roof over their heads. Danger and disease didn’t deter them in the slightest.
“They should put those people in proper buildings.” The liquid voice rolled out of the darkness of the back seat. He must have followed my gaze and guessed what I was thinking.
The Big Shake and rising sea levels had driven people inland, away from the encroaching ocean. Waterfront property no longer commanded a premium—it was a danger to be avoided. As a result, even the most precarious of condemned buildings held groups of otherwise homeless residents. Not all of them lived there illegally—as long as you stretched the definition of legal. City health ordinances were often “overlooked,” and upper-level apartments in buildings that should have been torn down, or concrete-filled as sea defenses, were frequently rented out. Sometimes at ridiculous prices, but when you’ve lost everything, even crap is better than nothing.
We swept over the distended extremes of the Patapsco, pushing west until we hit Silver Lake, then I settled the car into Airway Six which followed the path of the old Highway One, heading southwest. I kept the car within the 100/100 ‘City’ zoning limits as we followed the track of the highway, the ribbon of crumbling pavement lined with equally crumbling buildings that looked like splintered teeth pushing out of a jawbone of some huge leviathan.
“Housing isn’t the problem,” I said. “There are subdivisions past the old Beltway virtually empty, thousands of homes—but those people can’t afford even subsidized rent.”
“That can’t be.”
My passenger sounded shocked, and I wondered where he’d been hiding. The FabHome scandal had left swathes of houses built with taxpayers’ money lying empty and slowly falling apart, while city officials enjoyed generous business trips. It was an old story even back when Ramses was building pyramids, but fresh enough to fill the news for the last three months. Human altruism at its finest.
We finally escaped the limiters past Larch, and I lifted the nose, bringing the cab up to 500 meters while boosting to 200 klicks. The landscape was flat, and outside the managed traffic zone I was free to use my own discretion, as long as I didn’t break the general free flight regs for an AeroMobile. Of course, the cab could have managed all this on its own, but since the ICab debacle, a human driver was mandatory.
“They should let those poor unfortunates have those houses for free. Are people really that selfish and greedy?”
“Free? That’s a four-letter word with a lot of people.” The Pilot beeped several times, warning me of our imminent arrival. I throttled back and did a slow drift, spiraling around the U-shaped apartment building as I brought the car down outside the main entranceway at L1—ground level. “Talking of which, we’re here, and you owe an even fifty-five.”
He didn’t answer, so I turned to encourage his exit. I could hear his breathing, the wheezy inhalation of air followed by an almost spluttering exhalation. For a moment, I thought he’d fallen asleep and cursed, wondering how the hell I’d get him out. Then I noticed tears rolling down his fat cheeks.
“There’s a girl.”
“There usually is…” Something in his tone made me think he wasn’t using the word girl euphemistically. “Maybe you should keep that to yourself though.”
He leaned forward, and I tasted his fetid breath as it filtered through the screen. “Take care of her.”
“Sure… don’t worry, chief, I’ll take care of it.” All I wanted was to get him out of the cab so I could go home. “Now go sleep it off. Everything will look better in the morning.”
“Sleep? Yes. ‘What dreams may come?'” His voice sounded tiny and afraid—like something was eating him up inside. “I don’t want to be alone.”
“No one does. Call your girl tomorrow and apologize. It’ll be fine.” It was time to draw this melodrama to a close. “Look, chief, I’ve got a wife and kids waiting. If I don’t get home soon, I’ll be alone too.” It was a lie, but claiming a family usually helped with drunks.
He dragged his credit chip out from a pocket and tapped it against the payment scanner. A couple of seconds later it let out a doleful beep, and the screen flashed with a red declined warning. The doors locked automatically, and the plastic security window between me and the passenger compartment shuttered tight.
“I have no money left?” His tear-streaked face swam close to the transparent barrier. “I must have spent it in the bars. I’m so terribly sorry.”
It was more likely the bank had stopped his credit chip if he’d been as generous as he claimed, but my patience was exhausted. I got out and manually unfolded the back door, opening it wide. “Come on, chief. Forget the money and get out.”
“I’m sorry for causing trouble, I really am.” He shuffled part way through the door. The car dipped alarmingly on its landing gear, and I was glad I was dropping him off at ground level. “I have some cash in my apartment. I’ll get it and return immediately.”
“I may look stupid, but I’m not. I am tired though.” I sighed. “Get out of here before I change my mind. I won’t even watch what direction you go.”
He struggled out, barely making it even with the door opened fully and again I wondered how he’d managed to get in at the lights. Maybe he was an acrobat under those layers of flab, but it seemed unlikely.
“Please, don’t be angry.” His eyes shone like two titanium bearings freshly bathed in oil. “I will bring you some money, I promise. This won’t take very long.”
My boss is pretty tight when it comes to non-payers, but I really didn’t care. All I wanted was a hot shower and a cold beer—not necessarily in that order—but if agreeing would get him out of my hair then I’d play along. “Okay, you get some cash. I’ll wait five minutes and if you choose not to come back, don’t worry. I won’t be disappointed.”
He nodded profusely, tears running down his face as he waddled towards the arched entrance. I was surprised when the entry system recognized him and allowed him into the protected interior. I leaned against the car, wondering whether to cut my losses or give the guy the benefit.
The condo had that bare functionality mixed with quality workmanship typical of late-twentieth architecture, all sharp lines and black quartz walls mixed with a pinstripe steel exoskeleton. It was probably part of the growth of designed communities that enjoyed a brief popularity before their eco-conscious designers gave up and went back to making money. It wasn’t the kind of place I’d associate with drunken non-payers, but that didn’t mean anything. His claim to have real cash was intriguing. I hadn’t seen any in years and wondered if I’d still recognize it.
A light flickered several floors up, outlining a pagoda style section forming the top floor corner of the U, and I saw an unmistakable shadow totter past thinly screened windows. A penthouse then—maybe he was genuine.
There was a faint smell of cooked meat in the air. It could have come from the apartments, but at that time of night, it was more likely a NeverSee in the sewer. It wasn’t pleasant—maybe cat or something even worse. I pulled out my Scroll and, with a slight sense of embarrassment, called up the inappropriately-named WorldLink News—one of the sleaziest news-tabs. I’d be the first to admit it was mostly mindless dross, but it held a perverse fascination. I opened up the classifieds—nothing else reveals the true depths humanity can sink to any better—and scanned various enigmatic headlines.
My mind was toying with the delights of “Willy. Got the powder, you still got the meat? H.,” when a sickening wet impact shattered my guilty entertainment. A heartbeat later a burning snap of something stabbed deep into the back of my shoulder, and I staggered forward. Time seemed suspended in the dust-heavy wind as the Scroll slipped from my fingers and clattered on the rough concrete paving.
I turned—not having to look far for the source of the sodden explosion. A lump of still-quivering gelatinous protoplasm was splashed over the pavement a few meters away. Snakes of uncoiled intestine slithered towards me as the moist, salty odor from the steam drifted into my nostrils on the cold night air.
Twin rows of burst ribs reached upwards through the green jacket, like claws from a pair of cupped hands begging for more. Remnants of a head were scattered across the sidewalk, its once precious cache discarded in a casual puddle of gray and crimson mucous.
Ballen’s back in another action-packed sci-fi noir thriller, guaranteed to keep you turning the pages.
PERIMETER – In space, treachery runs deep
Joe Ballen’s working on a new ore-processing platform in the harsh environment around Mercury. When a savage Atoll attack decimates his crew, Joe is injured and must return to Earth to recover. While it’s a setback for the project, at least it means he can rebuild his relationship with his wife after nearly a year away.
But then the security forces come calling. Vital starship engineering files are missing, and without them Earth has no hope of escaping Atoll domination. Someone has to locate the files, and Ballen is bulldozed into the not-so-choice assignment.
But he’s not the only one in the hunt. As Joe struggles to find the data, he becomes tangled up in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse. It’s a journey that will take him to the perilous depths of space, where no one is quite what they seem. Can old enemies ever make good allies? And can Joe trust even the people closest to him?
David M. Kelly writes intelligent, action-packed SF. He is the author of the novel, Mathematics of Eternity and the short story collection Dead Reckoning And Other Stories. He has been published in Canadian SF magazine Neo-opsis.
David’s interest in science and technology began early. At the age of six his parents allowed him to stay up late into the night to watch the television broadcast of Neil Armstrong stepping on to the surface of the moon. From that day he was hooked on everything related to science and space.
An avid reader, he worked his way through the contents of the mobile library that visited his street, progressing through YA titles (or ‘juveniles’ as they were known back then) on to the classics of Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Harry Harrison.
David worked for many years in project management and software development. Along the way his interests have included IPSC combat (target) pistol shooting, crew chief on a drag racing team, and several years as bass player/vocalist in a heavy rock band. He also managed to fit in some real work in manual jobs from digging ditches and work on production lines to loading trucks in a haulage company.
Originally from the wild and woolly region of Yorkshire, England, David emigrated to Canada in 2005 and settled in Northern Ontario with his patient and supportive wife, Hilary. Foot surgery in 2014 temporarily curtailed many of his favourite activities – hiking, camping, piloting his own personal starfighter (otherwise known as a Corvette ZR-1). But on the plus side, it meant a transition from the world of IT into life as a full-time writer—an opportunity he grasped enthusiastically.
David is passionate about science, especially astronomy and physics, and is a rabid science news follower. Never short of an opinion, David writes about science and technology on his blog davidmkelly.net. He has supported various charity projects such as the Smithsonian’s Reboot The Suit and the Lowell Observatory Pluto Telescope Restoration. He also contributes to citizen science projects such as SETI@home.
Amy was five when she vanished during a family trip, only to be found hours later, clutching a golden acorn and claiming to have visited fairies. Now she’s eighteen, and the fairies are calling her back.
While attending a wedding deep in the Antrim glens, the voices grow darker and their song takes hold. Not sure if she’s mad or if the fairies are real, she flees, drawing well-meaning Simon into her fairy-fuelled road trip.
To escape their hold, she must confront long-hidden secrets, and find a truth which may not be hers to unearth.
But, even then, the fairies may not let her go…
If there’s a line between fantasy and madness, then Jo Zebedee’s characters are dragged kicking and screaming across it. A dark fable about belonging that is rooted as deeply in Northern Ireland as it is in the fantasy genre, with shades of Graham Joyce thrown in for good measure. – Stephen Poore, Longlist Gemmell Award
Waters and the Wild had me in suspense from the first page to the last. Ancient legends meet the modern world in a powerful tale of haunting ambiguities. – Teresa Edgerton, author of the Green Lion Trilogy
Waters and the Wild is a sinister, heart-stopping tale of fairy abduction in the beautiful glens of Antrim. You need it. So read it. – Peadar O’Guilin, Author of The Call
In Belfast, John Dray protects his younger siblings by working for the local hard man. Set up, he’s sent to the formidable alien prison, Inish Carraig, a fate Henry Carter, the policeman assigned to John, can’t stop.
Once there, John discovers a plot which threatens Earth and everyone he loves. To reveal it, he has to get out and there is only one person who can help.
A bestseller in Alien Invasion, Inish Carraig is an original science fiction novel ‘blessed with an entirely novel storyline’ Alexander Stevenson-
‘A thoughtful and intelligent writer’ – Allen Stroud, British Science Fiction Association reviewer
An exceptional novel. The pace is incredible with hard hitting characters and a powerful plot.’ Sffchronices.com
‘Tight and dramatic throughout.’ Sfbook.com
‘Onto my pile of best novels of the year.’ JLDobias, author of the Cripple Mode series.
Jo is the author of five sf and fantasy novels, based either in her native Northern Ireland or her Space Opera world of Abendau. Described as a ‘thoughtful and intelligent writer’ by the BSFA, Jo has been an Amazon bestseller across a range of categories. She also teaches writing speculative fiction and attends conventions when she can. When not writing, she runs a consultancy, runs after not-so-small-children and thinks cloning technology is the only way forward.