Category Archives: Author Spotlight

Excerpt: Lucifer’s Star by C.T. Phipps and Michael Stukkus

Summary:

From the bestselling author of The Rules of Supervillainy:

Cassius Mass was the greatest star pilot of the Crius Archduchy. He fought fiercely for his cause, only to watch his nation fall to the Interstellar Commonwealth. It was only after that he realized the side he’d been fighting for was the wrong one. Now a semi-functional navigator on an interstellar freight hauler, he tries to hide who he was and escape his past. Unfortunately, some things refuse to stay buried and he ends up conscripted by the very people who destroyed his homeland.

LUCIFER’S STAR is the first novel of the Lucifer’s Star series, a dark science fiction space opera set in a world of aliens, war, politics, and slavery.


..*** Excerpt ***.

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Chapter One

The sight of the burning starships around me was like a galaxy of new stars lighting up the emptiness of space. Their fuel and energy cells burned without oxygen long after the crews had suffocated in the vacuum of space. Hundreds of dreadnoughts, battleships, carriers, and starfighters exchanged fire in the largest battle of the war.

The Revengeance was taking point in the assault on the enemy flagship Earth’s Successor. We had managed to take out its support craft and casualty ratings were still well within acceptable parameters. Acceptable as long as I didn’t think of Black Squadron-3 as Daniel, Skull Squadron-6 as Rebecca, or Dagger-Squadron-7 as Lisa. They were men and women I’d trained with and called friends, now just particles and gas.

“Focus,” I commanded myself, then spoke into my helmet’s comm. I was sitting in the middle of my tight Engel-fighter cockpit moving at speeds which boggled the mind. While space was largely empty, the tightness of the battle formations meant I needed to fly like I’d never flown before. The slightest misstep would mean not only my death but my entire squadron’s destruction. “Dagger Leader, I need you to bring up your teammates to thin out the ranks of those Crosshairs.”

“Yes, your Excellency,” Dagger Leader, a woman named Arianna Stonebridge, said, referring to me by my noble title rather than rank.

I hated that. Continue reading

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New-Release Spotlight: Light Dawning by Ty Arthur

About the Book:

Once known as the City on the Hill and revered far and wide for its independence and boundless opportunity, Cestia has become home only to the damned. Surviving under the brutal occupation of a southern empire for three long years, the oppressed populace has lost hope of liberation, turning instead towards an increasingly desperate rebellion willing to commit any atrocity for a chance at freedom.

As total war approaches, four lost souls trapped behind Cestia’s walls are on a collision course with fate, destined to either save the city or see it utterly destroyed while calling on forces beyond mankind’s comprehension. For good or ill, the light of a new day is about to dawn.
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Continue reading

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Excerpt & Giveaway: Project Mothership by Ash Gray

Summary:

Rose, a sweet and kind librarian, is on her honeymoon with her goofy gym teacher husband when the trip takes a turn for the worst and she is abducted by aliens. When the spacecraft is attacked by the enemies of Empress Nashal, Rose makes it back to Earth freshly impregnated by alien royalty with said enemies on her heels. Now faced with running for her life, she is joined by Zita, a cheerful alien marine, and must make the choice between her unborn alien child and her baffled husband, who believes the child is his.

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*I have thirty (30) free ebooks copies of Project Mothership to go along with this excerpt! The link and details for the giveaway are located at the bottom of the post, following the excerpt 🙂

..

*** Excerpt ***.

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“Well, as McDonald’s says, have it your way,” said Zita with a shrug. She frowned. “Or is that Burger King?” Rose saw her reflect a moment before shaking it off. “Doubt I need to tell you that more FBI goons will be here shortly.” She glanced at one of the houses, in the window of which a woman stood gaping. “Thanks in no small part to your neighbors. The other agents spread out and were checking different houses while we were having a drink. Some are still down the street harassing people. Shooting out those tires might hold them back a while. Nice shootin’, by the way, Tex.”

Rose staggered to a stop when she saw Zita insert her key in a honda. It was bright yellow with a large pair of red novelty lips on the antennae, and considering the fact that very few people today even drove cars that ran on gasoline, it was the most screamingly conspicuous vehicle they could have used. Yet Zita slid behind the wheel without hesitation. She paused with one long, slender leg out of the car and looked up at Rose.

“What’s the problem?”

“I’m not getting into that thing,” Rose said at once. “You’re out of your mind! If we’re not stopped by every officer between here and – wherever you’re taking us –!”

“Listen, Rose,” said Zita wearily and leaned her forearm on the wheel. She stuck a cigarette in her mouth, and her bloody hand shook a little as she struggled to light it. “You listenin’?”

Yeah,” said Rose, derisively wrinkling up her nose.

“I been living here on your oblivious little planet for going on sixty years now,” Zita said.

Rose’s brows shot up.

“And you know how I was never noticed? Never caught by the feds or even got a damn parking ticket?”

“How?”

With the cigarette lit, Zita exhaled smoke and smiled. “I hid in plain sight.” She pulled her leg in the car and shut the door. “Now get in.”

“Hey!” shouted Mr. Peterson. “That’s right – arrest her! We’re gonna talk about my car!”

Rose’s heart skipped a beat when she saw an FBI agent running down the street at them. She ran around the other side of the car and climbed in, and seeing her get inside with Quinn, the agent tossed his plasma rifle and ran full tilt, his face solemn behind his black glasses.

“Effing mechs,” complained Zita, watching the man approach through the rearview mirror.

With Quinn in her lap, Rose scrambled to strap the seatbelt across them both. “What are you waiting for? He’s coming!”

Paaaatience, grasshoppa,” said Zita around the cigarette in her mouth. Her hand closed on the stick shift, and she didn’t look at what she was doing, her eyes fixed instead on the rearview mirror.

“God, and it’s a stick?” Rose said in exasperation and tossed her hands. “We might as well turn ourselves over!”

“Geez, what a pessimist,” Zita muttered with a small smile. “Quiet. I’m parallel parked and I need to concentrate.”

“What? Who’s worrying about that now?”

“Shh.”

“Oh god,” Rose moaned and held Quinn tight in her arms.

“Juuust a little closer, you sonova bitch,” Zita muttered, eyes fixed on the man in the rearview mirror.

Rose scowled. “Could you not swear in front of my –” Her voice trailed away to a scream when a giant hammer launched out of the trunk. As the man was finally closing in, the hammer came down on him, shattering him in a cartoonish spray of screws. When the hammer lifted again, the man was a metal stain on the pavement. Several neighbors screamed as they stood on their step, and Rose felt just as horror-stricken to see the man’s smashed face reflected in the metallic glasslike coating on the hammer. The hammer retracted into the trunk again, and smiling, Zita started the car up. She didn’t acknowledge it when Rose just stared at her in silent shock.

Quinn, contrary to being horrified, was smiling and clapping her hands. “The man went smoosh, Mommy!” she said happily. “He can’t hurt us. He went smoosh.”

“Yes!” Rose agreed and hated how shrill and horrified her voice sounded.

Zita laughed softly. “And off we go,” she sang as they pulled onto the street.

“Glad to see you’re so satisfied,” Rose said sarcastically. She was appalled by Zita’s casual manner but had to remind herself that the woman wasn’t just a photographer: she was a soldier.

“Why shouldn’t I be satisfied?” Zita smiled and tapped the clock on the dash with a red nail. “We made this place more dangerous than L.A. in less than thirty-six minutes. That’s a record.”

Rose rolled her eyes, but she glanced down at Zita’s hand, which was operating the stick shift expertly. On the crown of the stick was a red button with the small black symbol of a hammer on it. She swallowed hard and looked out the window, wondering what other lethal contraptions the car hid.

They slid slowly into traffic, and though Rose wanted Zita to hurry, she knew going slowly would draw the least amount of attention. At least until the police or the FBI or whoever caught up with them. She wondered dismally if some of the neighbors hadn’t been too shocked to take down Zita’s license plate.

“Smoking is illegal, you know that,” Rose scolded. “What is that, a Camel? I thought Camels crashed in the last regression. Keep the smoke over there!” She waved the smoke away from Quinn.

Zita rolled her eyes and kissed out a wisp of smoke. “Are you always such a pill?”

Rose frowned. “It’s just that smoking could get us pulled over. Why couldn’t you have just been a pothead? Weed’s legal.”

“Not while driving, it’s not,” Zita pointed out with a breathless laugh.

“Don’t you have a car seat or something for my daughter?” Rose further admonished.

Zita snorted. “What does this look like? A nanny van?”

Rose scowled. “You said you’d been searching for us for years. Seems you would’ve been prepared.”

“Eh,” said Zita with a shrug. “I said I was searching. Never said I believed I would find you.”

“Now that you have, where are you taking us?”

“To safety . . .” Zita’s voice trailed off as her eyes glanced in the rearview mirror. “Shit.

“Could you not –!”

“Quinn’s got more to worry about than swearing at the moment, Rose!”

Rose glanced in the rearview mirror as well and her heart stopped. A man in a black suit was running toward them over the top of the cars that crowded the street. His face behind his black sunglasses was coldly solemn and determined. He carried no weapons, but as he was coming, his hands started to morph into long, silver knives.

“Do something!” Rose burst.

“Do what? This isn’t Terminator II —

“Pull out the hammer thing!”

“The Smashinator 5000 –”

Smashinator?”

Zita shrugged. “I was drunk.”

Rose made an impatient noise.

Relax,” Zita said, crushing her cigarette in the ashtray. Her lips curled into a small smile. “Buckle up.”

Before Rose could question the woman, Zita’s high heel pressed slowly on the gas, and without warning, they leapt forward like a bullet. Rose felt her entire body slap back against the seat, though Zita and Quinn were sitting as if nothing had changed, merely looking through the windshield as the car rocketed forward.

The little yellow Honda dematerialized, speeding through the other cars in a blur of color. Almost instantaneously, the car stopped again, but Rose could still feel her cheeks flapping in her eyes. Very slowly, she blinked and flexed her mouth, trying to work the cold stiffness out of her face. She thought for certain Quinn would be terrified, but the girl was giggling and clapping her hands instead.

“Yay!” Quinn squealed. “That was fun! We went swoosh!” She raised her hands to the ceiling in triumph.

Zita smirked, watching Quinn as she unbuckled her seatbelt. “Maybe the kid really is entirian after all.” She glanced at Rose and snorted a laugh to see the other woman sitting in mute shock with her hair flying. “You alright?”

Rose glared sideways at Zita. “You could have warned me.”

Zita slowly grinned. “Where’s the fun in that?”

◊  ◊  ◊

*** Project Mothership is available TODAY!!! ***

Buy the Book: 

Amazon | Goodreads

◊  ◊  ◊

GIVEAWAY!

Please click on the Rafflecopter link below to enter to win thirty (30) ebook copies of Project Mothership! Good luck!:)

Runs through May 16, 2017 (05/16/2017)

*** RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY!!! ***

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/f7bdb4fc15/?

◊   ◊   ◊


About the author:

Ash Gray is actually a dragon, writing her stories on a minuscule laptop in the murky dark of a silent, wet, cold, comfortable cave. Having quite large claws, she goes through laptops like tissue paper within the span of a week, but it is worth the effort, time, and money to share her stories with an audience as in-love with fiction as she.


 

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Excerpt & Giveaway: Rites of Azathoth by Frank Cavallo

Summary:

“Rites of Azathoth is an occult-thriller rooted in the H.P. Lovecraft tradition, or what is sometimes called the Cthulhu Mythos. It is a book that will appeal to general horror audiences, especially any fans of Lovecraft himself, as well as fans of Clive Barker, Peter Straub and Jack Ketchum,” says Cavallo.

F.B.I. criminal profiler Diana Mancuso doesn’t do field work anymore. Not since a tragic mistake that cost innocent lives. But when notorious serial killer Luther Vayne escapes from prison and resumes his campaign of brutal murders, the Bureau convinces her to take one last case.

To catch him, she must understand him. She must delve into the arcana that fuels his madness, risking her life and her sanity to follow his twisted path.

The trail plunges her into a shadowy world of occult rituals and unspeakable horrors, leading to a secret cabal operating at the highest levels—and a plot to summon the darkest of all powers, to bring forth an evil that does not belong in our world—to enact the Rites of Azathoth.


*I have one (1) free copy (ebook or paperback) of Rites of Azathoth to go along with this interview! The link and details for the giveaway are located at the bottom of the post, following the excerpt 🙂

.*** Excerpt ***

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Cleveland Police Department

Third District

2001 Payne Avenue

October 30, 1974

2:13 am

 

Transcript of Voluntary Oral Statement

 

Interrogation conducted by: Detective Edward D. Sadowski

Badge No.: 366

Suspect Name: Luther Charles Vayne

DOB: 10/16/1944

Ht: 5’11”

Wt.: 185

Eyes: None

Distinguishing Marks: numerous tattoos and brandings, scars on face and hands

 

OFFICER: You have expressed your desire to waive the presence of counsel and to make a full confession. Is that correct?

VAYNE: It is.

OFFICER: This is regarding the murder of Anna Dressler and Eric Dressler?

VAYNE: Yes.

OFFICER: What is it you want me to know?

VAYNE: As I mentioned to your desk officer, I killed them both tonight.

OFFICER: What exactly did you do? Can you tell me that?

VAYNE: I have done only what I was sent here to do.

OFFICER: Sent? From where? By whom?

VAYNE: The shadows that speak to me are of no concern. All that matters for you is that I killed the woman and her child. That is enough, is it not? I have no wish to hide anything anymore.

OFFICER: Anymore? You’ve done this before?

VAYNE: Yes, many times over the last year.

OFFICER: You’ve been killing women and children for a year?

VAYNE: Patience, detective. As I told you, I have no wish to hide anything. The facts of this and every one of my deeds are yours to examine now.

OFFICER: You know who this boy and his mother were, don’t you? Mrs. Dressler was an heiress. She had quite a large fortune. That’s no accident is it? You targeted this kid, and his mother, didn’t you?

VAYNE: I know who they were, and more importantly, who they were not. I know many things about them that you do not. Believe me detective, money was not involved, in this or any other of my recent acts. These were no mere children. At least until tonight, and for that I am very sorry.

OFFICER: Sorry? Ok, that’s a start. Why don’t you tell me what you did here?

VAYNE: I would have thought the act spoke for itself. If you’d like a narrative however, I am prepared to oblige. Simply stated, I cut the woman’s head from her neck. I drove an iron rod through her body, then through the body of her child. Just before I cut out his heart. [Pause] Would you like to hear about the others as well, detective? Or shall we take a break? You look like you might need some water.

OFFICER: How many others are there?

VAYNE: The boy and his mother tonight were the thirteenth.

OFFICER: You’re prepared to confess to thirteen murders? Thirteen double murders?

VAYNE: I am. That is why I came here tonight, to confess to everything, to every killing I have committed. At your convenience, of course. This will have to be the end of it. For now.

◊  ◊  ◊

*** Rites of Azathoth is published by Bedlam Press and is available TODAY!!! ***

Buy the Book: 

Amazon | Barnes & NobelGoodreads

◊  ◊  ◊

GIVEAWAY!

Please click on the Rafflecopter link below to enter to win one (1) copy (ebook or paperback) of Rites of Azazthoth! Good luck!:)

Runs through May 3, 2017 (05/03/2017)

*US residents ONLY

*** RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY!!! ***

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/f7bdb4fc14/?

◊   ◊   ◊


About the author:

Frank Cavallo is a horror and dark fantasy writer. His previous works include Eye of the Storm, The Lucifer Messiah, The Hand of Osiris, and the Gotrek & Felix novella Into the Valley of Death.

He was born and raised in New Jersey. He graduated from Boston University with a degree in Communications in 1994 and he earned a JD from the Cleveland Marshall College of Law in 2001. His life-long fascination with the darker side of human nature has led him to devote most of the past 15 years to a career as a criminal defense attorney, at the Cuyahoga County Public Defender Office, in Cleveland, Ohio. There he has come face-to-face with some of the truest horror in this world. Murder, rape, burglary, drugs. That’s his bread and butter.

Readers can connect with Frank on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

To learn more, go to http://www.frankcavallo.com/

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Excerpt: The Perihelion by D.M. Wozniak

D.M. Wozniak is not nearly as interesting as the worlds and characters he creates, except, perhaps, for the fact that he has six children – three of whom are triplets. He lives in the close suburbs of Chicago with his wife Michele, five daughters, one son, and a massive labrador. He’s not sure if his home would be part of Bluecore 1C or in the Redlands.

For decades he has been reading speculative fiction novels by the likes of Gene Wolfe, Dan Simmons, Neil Stephenson, and Patrick Rothfuss, and somehow found the time to write one of his own. And then one became two.

A software architect by trade, his interests also lie in photography, independent music, and wasting money on his Porsche 911. Oh wait… forget that. He had to sell it.

If you enjoyed The Perihelion, check out The Gardener of Nahi. It’s just as confusing.

www.dmwozniak.com


The Perihelion

by D.M. Wozniak

Prologue
Bluecore 1C

I have seen more human tragedy than all of my oaks, creeks, and beaches combined.

Since you are a mortal, you may naturally think I am referring to occurrences that have happened in your brief lifetime — I believe your word for it is modern. You lack perspective, however, which is why you constantly repeat the same mistakes over and over again, as if they are your seasons. No. This madness started even before I was a Bluecore.

It started even before I had a name.

During the War of 1812, the Battle of Fort Dearborn was on my soil, in a grove of cottonwood saplings. At the time I was considered wilderness — one of the invading white commanders said my lands were “so remote from the civilized parts of the world.” Little did he know he would die at the hands of the natives that hunted my prairies for years, his heart being cut out and eaten, to absorb his courage.

You see? Things like that never happened ten-thousand years ago, when ice began carving me from the earth, like one of your prodigious sculptors.

Oh, but you might say in reply, “the wolf eats the heart of the white-tailed deer.” And you would be right. Thousands of years ago before you humans came into my lands, they did exactly that. But they ate the hearts to survive.

You mortals are special, in the sense that you have reason. You eat like animals, you copulate like animals; yet soon thereafter the similarity ends. And the dreaming begins.

About the same time that ill-fated commander’s heart was eaten, the natives started calling me “shikaakwa,” which means “smelly onion” in their tongue. I always liked that name, since it honored the illustrious leeks which thrived in my watersheds. It commemorated something that I have always freely given away.

Years later, when traders came from France, they took this name and changed it into their own tongue, because you mortals can’t simply take something and let it be. You need to change it and mold it. You are masters of the malleable. You need to make it yours.

And so the city of Chicago was born.

There was a great fire in 1871, where hundreds of you humans perished, and much of me was burnt to the ground. This, in and of itself, caused me no pain, except perhaps the folly which I saw unfolding, knowing there was nothing I could do to stop it. You built all of your buildings out of wood from my trees! What did you think would happen? Little did you know that before you settled my lands, prairie fires occurred as often as I required them. These were necessary to keep the overzealous in order — to give a chance at new life. Fire is the level-setter. It is the prime regenerator.

That’s one thing I will give you credit for. You rebuilt after the destruction, as I hoped you would. You traded wood for stone. You swapped your mediocre stupor with grand dreams. And for the first time, I was proud that you called me home.

For nearly two-hundred years, you prospered.

But then, something odd happened: you let your dreams get the better of you.

Somehow, you lost your way. Like the tall spires that you build, which scratch the heavens, you started believing that you were something else. In your selfish arrogance you started to create laws which did not abide in the nature of common sense. It would be as if I said to a cottonwood tree that she could walk, or if I told the white-tailed deer that he could slay the wolf.

I could say all of these things to make them happy, but I’d be lying.

The culmination of this pride came in the year 2069. By then you stopped referring to me as the city of Chicago. Instead, you took a hatchet to history and glued a number and letter together as my name: Bluecore 1C. You began fighting amongst yourselves, convinced that the other side was wrong. There were riots. You built walls to keep yourselves apart from one another.

You humans! Is the sea wrong? Is the prairie wrong? Or can they both exist in peace with one another? There is a time and place for everything, but when you change the center to yourself, nothing will be in balance.

And so now we are caught up to your own dizzying time. Why you mortals ever called it an attack I shall never understand. Who was attacking whom? Let me distill this to its essence: the technology which was taken from you simply did not exist even a hundred-thirty years prior. Do you even comprehend how short of a timespan that is? It is an afternoon in the sun for me.

Speaking of the sun, I wonder if you see the irony. Out of all days to lose your own self-directed sense of power, the all-giving source was right there. It was the perihelion, of all days, when this so-called attack occurred. Except you could not even see it, because you were all turned away from the truth. You had changed the center.

No. That’s not quite right. If I recall, there were six mortals among you that learned the truth before the end. In that darkness, they found something invaluable. In that silence, they heard a voice.

Perhaps it is true what you mortals say: In all tragedy, something good always comes from it.

Continue reading

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New-Release Spotlight: Rebirth (The Praegressus Project #1) by Aaron Hodges

About the Book:

A thrilling new scifi by New York Times Bestselling Author Aaron Hodges.

For centuries, our evolution has stagnated.
Surrounded by technology, we ceased to adapt.
Until now…

In 2051, the Western Allies States have risen as the new power in North America. Now a mysterious epidemic is spreading across the countryside, igniting terror wherever it touches. But its victims do not die – they change. People call them the Chead, and destruction follows in their footsteps.

Amidst the wealth of San Francisco, eighteen year old Chris is caught in the cross-hairs of the government when his mother is accused of treason. Spirited away in the night, he wakes in a facility hidden deep in the Californian mountains. There he must face the horrors of the Praegressus Project. Chances of survival are slim; but only the lucky get to die…

Continue reading

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Free Ebook Alert: Some of the Best from Tor.com: 2016 Edition

Tor.com is very excited to offer a free download of the 2016 edition of Some of the Best from Tor.com, an anthology of 25 of our favorite short stories and novelettes from the last year. Readers worldwide can download the ebook for free by signing up for the Tor.com Publishing newsletter from 12:00 P.M. EST on January 10th until 11:59 A.M. EST on January 17th.

Of course, you can always enjoy all of our free weekly short stories by visiting Tor.com’s fiction index. These stories were acquired and edited for Tor.com by Ellen Datlow, Ann VanderMeer, Carl Engle-Laird, Liz Gorinsky, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Justin Landon, Diana Pho, and Miriam Weinberg. Each story is accompanied by an original illustration.

Learn more below!


Table of Contents

  • “Clover” Charlie Jane Anders
  • “The Art of Space Travel” Nina Allan
  • “The Destroyer” Tara Isabella Burton
  • “Traumphysik” Monica Byrne
  • “The High Lonesome Frontier” Rebecca Campbell
  • “Lullaby for a Lost World” Aliette de Bodard
  • “A Dead Djinn in Cairo” P. Djeli Clark
  • “Breaking Water” Indrapramit Das
  • “Autobiography of a Traitor and a Half-Savage” Alix E. Harrow
  • “The City Born Great” N. K. Jemisin
  • “Everything That Isn’t Winter” Margaret Killjoy
  • “The Weight of Memories” Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu
  • “The Maiden Thief” Melissa Marr
  • “The Caretakers” David Nickle
  • “Your Orisons May Be Recorded” Laurie Penny
  • “meat+drink” Daniel Polansky
  • “The Three Lives of Sonata James” Lettie Prell
  • “The Great Detective” Delia Sherman
  • “Finnegan’s Field” Angela Slatter
  • “The Weather” Caighlan Smith
  • “Terminal” Lavie Tidhar
  • “Her Scales Shine Like Music” Rajnar Vajra
  • “La beauté sans vertu” Genevieve Valentine
  • “That Game We Played During the War” Carrie Vaughn
  • “A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers” Alyssa Wong

◊  ◊  ◊

About the Tor.com Publishing Newsletter: 

This monthly newsletter includes the latest updates on Tor.com Publishing titles from authors like Nnedi Okorafor, Seanan McGuire, Malka Older, Charles Stross, and many more, including excerpts, sweepstakes, exclusive content, and author features.

How to Redeem:

To redeem the free ebook edition of Some of the Best from Tor.comVisit this link between noon (12:00 P.M. EST) on Tuesday, January 10th, and 11:59 A.M. EST on Tuesday, January 17th to sign up for the Tor.com Publishing newsletter and download the DRM-free ebook. This offer is available globally.

◊  ◊  ◊
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Excerpt: Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton

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Summary:

Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. The content addresses social issues. It’s a children’s story for adults, not for the prudish, fainthearted or easily offended.

Lacy Dawn occupies the body of an eleven year old and sounds like one, but she has evolved under the supervision of Universal Management for hundreds of thousand of years. She is not a typical little girl, and if you think of her as such, you may be shocked.

She lives in a hollow with her worn-out mom, her Iraq War disabled dad, and her mutt Brownie, a dog who’s becoming very skilled at laying fiber optic cable. Lacy Dawn’s android boyfriend, for when she’s old enough to have one, has come to the hollow with a mission. He was sent by the Manager of the Mall on planet Shptiludrp (Shop ’till You Drop) to recruit Lacy Dawn to save the universe from an imminent threat to its economic structure. In exchange, Earth would be designated as a planet that is eligible for continued existence – granted immunity. Will Lacy Dawn’s magic enables her to save the universe, Earth, and, most importantly, her own family?


*** Excerpt ***

From chapter 13, Mom I’d Like to Introduce You to My Fiancé:

…..…Jenny (the mother) walked up the hill to Roundabend. She called Lacy Dawn’s name every few yards. Her muddy tennis shoes slipped and slid.

I hear her voice. Why won’t she answer me?  Continue reading

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Author Spotlight: Dead Reckoning by William Dresden

About the Book:

Jesse is a bad man. A killer yes. A monster, sometimes. Most often, though, he is a Judge, an ex-gunslinger cursed with a supernatural ability called – the Reckoning.

Now he finds himself hunting the forests of upstate New York for Horse Thieves, Wendigos and other nightmares that lurk in the darkness. Only this time, what he finds will change him in ways he never thought possible, bringing him one step closer to finding the man who murdered his family.

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Continue reading

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Excerpt: Nightscape Double Feature No. 1 edited by David W. Edwards

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David W. Edwards is the writer, director and producer of the feature film Nightscape and author of the novels Nightscape: The Dreams of Devils and Nightscape: Cynopolis. He attended the University of Southern California’s prestigious screenwriting program and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English Literature while working for a variety of Hollywood production companies. He’s the founder and former CEO of a successful high-tech market research firm, and a former two-term state representative. He currently lives in Hillsboro, Oregon with his family.


Nightscape Double Feature No. 1

 edited by David W. Edwards

Chapter 1

The Moving Fortresses

28 November 1917

Outside Cambrai, France

The German A7V tanks rolled over the British defensive fortifications, mechanized landslides indifferent to the screams of the dying under their treads. The vanguard of sturmpanzerwagen numbered a dozen strong and was spread out enough to prevent easy targeting. Geysers of wet earth havocked the air around the armored vehicles as exhausted British gunners scrambled to find their range.

Since the beginning of the battle eight days ago, the British had managed a series of hard-won victories, pushing the Germans back from Havrincourt and crossing the Hindenburg Line. The British had then commandeered and fortified the trenches dug by their enemies. The Germans, stung by their humiliating eviction, had launched this sweeping tank assault.

Tanks were a relatively new addition to the battlefield. The British had first made use of its Mark I tanks at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette about two years ago. Although those early models had been slow moving and given to frequent breakdowns, leaders on both sides were quick to recognize the strategic advantages of the concept. Design advances in the interim had borne out their expectations. British Mark IV tanks had made surprisingly short work of the formidable defenses here at Cambrai, driving the enemy into a frenzy. The Germans had retaliated by deploying their own tanks in a desperate but disciplined bid to out

flank and outmaneuver their foes. The British had met them straight-on in the southwest corner of the wood, determined to bully the Germans into submission with their larger, more heavily armored vehicles.

Both strategies had proved hideously effective in racking up the dead.

British howitzers zeroed in and began taking their toll on the iron behemoths. One shell struck a tank squarely in the side. The force of the explosion kicked it over. Frantic voices leaked from the hull. The soldiers bottled up inside clawed at each other to escape the rush of flames. None did. The fuel and ammunition sparked and burst, leaving a smoking crater nearly a hundred feet in diameter. Charred remains scattered piecemeal over the entrenched British. Most of the defending soldiers ignored the gore. They’d seen much worse, here and elsewhere.

Several, however, broke ranks, scrambling away, screaming for God, their mothers, anybody, to save them. They splashed through the black, calf-deep trench water.

Staff Sergeant Quincy McNeil cursed and shouted, “Hold the bloody line by damn! Come back! That’s a direct order!”

The soldiers pretended not to hear. They continued their mad flight, tripping and stumbling over the bodies of their dead comrades. McNeil pointed his revolver at the nearest retreating back.

A strong hand pushed his arm down. McNeil choked back his anger when he realized his immediate superior, Captain William Davenport, had been the one to intervene. The captain thrust his chest forward and said, “The hell, Staff?”

“They’re deserting, sir!”

“And you’d waste precious ammo shooting them in the arse? Best save your ammo for the coming infantry! Look, man!” He waved toward the line of implacable A7Vs without risking a look above the parapet. “Those tanks are holding their positions! They know they’ve got us pinned with their machine guns!”

McNeil cursed again, wishing he knew how to swear in more than one language. This was a situation where cursing in the Queen’s English alone struck him as woefully inadequate.

Following that first tank hit, the remaining German tanks retreated just out of artillery range and, from positions of relative safety, raked the trenches with lethal gunfire. Any British soldier foolish enough to make a run for safety was cut down within a pitiful few yards.

To McNeil’s mind, it was a just punishment. “Why the hell wasn’t our artillery brought up to support this position, sir?”

The captain raised his voice in order to be heard over the yelling, gunfire and fitful explosions. “Because our esteemed Colonel Breen is more concerned about securing his command post. I sent word days ago for at least two dozen tanks. It was clear the Germans were going to make a push to retake this position.”

“Well, of course they were, sir!” McNeil said. His broad face was hectic with color and beaded in sweat. He hefted a perisher or trench periscope above the sandbags to survey the field. His small mouth twisted into a rictus of horror. “Blast and damn!”

“What is it, Staff?”

Lowering the perisher, McNeil said, “Infantry, sir. Those Huns are bringing up mortars, getting them in position, storm troops with machine guns and flamethrowers right behind them. Another five-ten minutes and we’ll be overrun.” He sleeved sweat from his low forehead.

“Maybe those scarpers figured the odds right, eh, Staff?”

“No better way to die than up against it, sir. Six generations of McNeils have served in Her Majesty’s army and I’ll be damned before I turn.”

Davenport grinned and clapped his staff sergeant on the shoulder. “You’re a good man, McNeil. I’ll be sure to put you in for promotion when we’re drafted into God’s army.”

“Can’t we pull back, sir?”

“To where? It’s a hundred yards to the next line and the way those tanks are firing, every man jack of us will be plugged straightaway.” Davenport checked his revolver to make sure it was fully loaded. His face was naturally pale so he couldn’t be accused of blanching in the face of duty. He had chipped plaster cheeks and a crooked nose with large black nostrils. A prim school teacher sort. “Afraid there’s nothing for it but to go down faces front and the Lord’s Prayer on our lips.” He brought his weapon chest-high and opened his mouth to order a suicidal charge over the bags.

McNeil caught the captain’s elbow.

Davenport frowned. “What, Staff?”

McNeil cocked his head like a foxhound on point. “Something’s coming, sir … planes, yeah.”

“Then they must be Richthofen’s. His damned squadron owns the skies over Cambrai.”

McNeil pointed and said, “Well, there’s some of our flyboys don’t know that, sir!”

Davenport trembled at the sight of three gunmetal gray Bristol Fighters streaking out from behind the clouds. The two-seater bi-planes were fast, agile and deadly effective.

“My sweet Lord,” Davenport murmured. “They must be either total madmen or the luckiest fliers alive. How the bloody hell did they get past Richthofen?”

The two men watched the planes pass over the array of tanks and German infantry beyond. A few Germans took potshots at the planes but it was an empty gesture. None of the rounds came anywhere near the screaming fighters. The planes were famously powered by Rolls Royce Falcon engines. The British marooned in the trenches relaxed their trigger fingers and allowed for a measure of hope.

The Bristol Fighters broke formation and peeled off in divergent loops to join again over the enemy. The first plane opened up with its forward Vickers machine gun, strafing the infantry. A swath of Germans convulsed under the unforgiving barrage. Blood misted the air. Those on their feet after the initial salvo weren’t upright for long. The gunner engaged the rear-facing Lewis: vip-vip-vip. Hot lead ripped into flesh and shattered bone. The dead and wounded turned the mud carmine.

The second plane went pell-mell for the tanks. As it zoomed in low, the gunner didn’t use his Lewis; instead, he tossed stubby, tear-shaped bombs. The plane came in so fast the gunner had time to drop only two. But his aim was spot on. Both struck home in successive flashes.

British broke into cautious cheers. The remaining tanks started back into the trees but were unable to get the necessary speed to avoid the plane’s second pass. Two more A7Vs were blasted to trifling scrap.

The third Bristol Fighter circled high above the mayhem, presumably on the lookout for enemy fighters. The German air ace Baron von Richthofen and his squadron of ravening killers had driven off the Royal Flying Corps days ago. If McNeil had told Davenport this morning that three British planes would come to his aid by afternoon, he would have thought the man barmy.

The cowed Germans scattered and ran for safety. Soldiers weighed down with flamethrowers abandoned their weapons to speed their retreat. The first Bristol Fighter dived at the fleeing men like a hawk stooping after choice field mice. The Vickers roared bullets. The rounds perforated a couple of discarded petrol tanks. Eight men disappeared in the ensuing fireballs so quickly they had no chance to scream or cry for relief. One took a full ten steps mantled in flames before finally, mercifully, collapsing.

The last of the tank crews abandoned their vehicles, clambering from their hatches to join the mass withdrawal. The second Bristol Fighter hurried them along with bursts of strafing fire and a couple of precision-thrown bombs. Another pair of tanks went up in plumes of fire.

The British, astonished and reassured, cheered with more and more confidence. Some isolated groups even assayed a celebratory song. And why not? A few short minutes ago they’d faced certain destruction and now here they stood, alive, wonderfully alive. Perhaps they would die tomorrow or the day after, but for now it was enough to live amid the receding battlenoise.

The Bristol Fighters formed up and came in for a joint landing on the denuded plot between the forward and support trenches. Captain Davenport and Staff Sergeant McNeil climbed up to full sunlight. Once the stout McNeil caught his breath, he gave out orders to his men: “Remain where you are and see to the wounded. The Captain and I will have a word with the lads, yeah. You’ll have plenty of time to thank em. Just hold your positions and keep your eyes peeled.”

The pilots and gunners shimmied out of the cockpits, flushed from the heat of their weapons. Davenport noted they hadn’t gone unchallenged. There were constellations of bullet holes across the wings and fuselages. The planes carried seven men in total. “The extra man must have crammed in with one of the gunners, Captain,” McNeil grunted. “Ballsy bastards.”

The lead pilot removed his leather aviator’s cap and goggles to reveal black hair trimmed to military standards and light blue eyes made small from effort. He was a wiry six foot three and moved with an easy, vigorous stride. He acknowledged Davenport with a smart salute. “Lieutenant Quigg reporting, sir.”

Davenport returned the salute while trying to hide his shock at the pilot’s youth. Despite his size, Quigg looked scarcely old enough to have graduated Sixth Form. “At ease, son. Which squadron are you with?”

“Begging the captain’s pardon, sir, you would be …?”

McNeil jumped forward, his face darkening. “Cheeky little bugger! The captain was killing Huns before you was breeched and you—”

The captain placed a stern hand on McNeil’s shoulder. “That’ll do, Staff. It’s well to be reminded of protocol now and again, and he’s more than earned the right.” He turned to Quigg and said, “Captain Davenport, Third Army, Eighth Eastern Division. And this fellow with the Chesterfield manners is Staff Sergeant McNeil.”

The staff sergeant barely registered his name. “Blast and damn!” McNeil blurted, staring at the pilot’s team. Now that they also had removed their caps and goggles one thing was clear: they were as young, if not younger, than their squad leader. “I got tinned meats older’n these lads.”

“Lads that fight and fly like men,” Davenport said. “Lieutenant, I take it you were looking for us?”

“Aye, sir. You should’ve received orders to assist my squad on a matter of great urgency.” He spoke in a firm but cordial Irish brogue.

Davenport was instantly impressed with the lieutenant’s demeanor. The youth didn’t so much as wrinkle his nose at the pervasive reek of piss and shit and rotting death. He might be a boy, but he had the self-possession of a canny old sweat. “I’m not aware of any such orders. But we’ve been out of touch with HQ for some time. Your arrival was just the hammer. I thought Richthofen had the air war decided.”

Quigg’s disconcertingly blue eyes shadowed over. “We left Duxford with a three plane escort but ran across the enemy some thirty miles west. Our escorts—they …” He shook his head then, recovering his voice, quoted from a popular Irish poem, “Our skies have many a new gold star.”

“Amen, son.” Davenport grimaced at the sentiment. He was inured to the larger carnage by necessity, but individual deaths still had the power to evoke raw emotions. The war hadn’t bled the feeling out of him yet. He started to lead the way to his command dugout. “Come along then. We’ll contact HQ and get this sorted.” He gave the pilot a sidelong glance. There was something familiar about the lieutenant’s name. Hold on, he thought. He recalled a Daily Herald story from a year or so past about an Irish lad with peculiar qualities nicknamed Strongboy … The realization forced a grin. “You wouldn’t happen to be …?”

“Aye, sir. That I am.” The pilot worked his jaw to suppress a shy smile. “Lieutenant Nolin Quigg of the Fifth Royal Irish Lancers. And these,” he said, gesturing to the youths flanking him on either side, “are the so-called Lost Boys.” He met the captain’s eye with a sobering look. “At the risk of sounding immodest, sir, we’re here to end this ruddy war.”

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