Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Jadia (Secrets of Sagebrush, Book 1) by Greg Pippin

Release date: April 21, 2015
Subgenre: Middle Grade Fantasy

About Jadia

If you slept one day and woke up in a grand palace – to which you had never been before - only to find yourself lying in a coffin, what would you do? What if you woke up in the body of someone else than yourself, or even worse yet if that person, of whom you supposedly took the body, had been long dead? Jadia, Secret of Sagebrush, steep in paranormal adventure and speculative mystery, is a middle grade fantasy about a girl, who embarks on a quest to find out the truth behind her impaired memory, which will trap her within a mazelike riddle.


Penelope shuddered. How could I miss that? After all, it was the ring of Isis that had survived Jadia. Jadia had it all along, and perhaps Jadia had known it before she came to Isis. Penelope sighed. Penelope then cast a spell to see if Jadia would survive. The cauldron began boiling. Penelope took a tiny jar that contained blood and tipped it to the cauldron. Penelope's hand was shaking as the crimson drips of blood fell. The colorless soup began changing. It turned red at first, then ruddy orange, and then simmering sliver. If Jadia was to die, it’d turn black or remain gray. Penelope blinked, as a face began taking a shape.
Did I cast a different spell?
Perhaps she had drunk too much of berry wine the other night. It could be the effect of frog fluid that she added to her drinks. On the mercury soup appeared a little freckled girl’s face. Penelope reeled away from the cauldron—and from the little human child standing there like a ghost.
“Is that your way of saying long time no see, my friend?” said Jadia.
“How? How did you escape—?”
Penelope looked up at Jadia with horror. Jadia couldn’t have recovered so soon, Penelope furiously thought.
“Yes, I couldn’t have done that,” said Jadia, lazily strolling around the cauldron. “You cast a wrong spell, Penelope. Shame. It is your destiny that matters, not mine.”
Jadia bent over.
Jadia drew her face an inch from Penelope’s. Penelope looked petrified, unable to move.



About Greg Pippin:

Greg Pippin is a many sided, art-oriented, sport-driven, fun-loving, philosophically biased person of letter. Mr. Pippin has B.A. from the University of California, Irvine, majoring in English. Currently he lives in Southern California.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Tiding of Magpies (Monkey Queen Book 4) by Robert Dahlen

Release date: May 22, 2015
Subgenre: Comic adventure fantasy

About A Tiding of Magpies:

“One for sorrow, two for joy.”
When Jiao, a princess from Faerie's Far Lands, comes to the Wonderland Diner and Tavern looking for help, it's showtime for the Monkey Queen! Michiko and her best friend, Beth McGill, have to rescue the princess' boyfriend from the minions of a scheming warlord, and then race against time and fend off goblins, ogres and monsters to fulfill a prophecy.

But Michiko has been hiding something from everyone, even Beth, and no secret is forever. And when that secret is revealed...

Everything will change for Michiko and Beth.


From Chapter Three, where an unlikely hero comes to the rescue...
The executioner nodded. "Farewell," he said to the prince as he raised his sword. "Long life to Lord Hong."
A pair of iron and brass fans knocked the sword aside. Before the executioner could react, Jiao swung both fans at him, hitting him on the sides of his head. As he reeled away in a daze, she knelt by Prince Yun. "Armpits like cherry blossoms?" she asked as she started to untie him.
"You should have heard what I said about your nose," Yun responded.
"You and your sweet talk." Jiao smiled.
"Can you get those ropes?"
"I'm trying," she said as she tugged at them, "but they're knotted tight."
"Now if you'd only bought the razor-edged fans, I'd be free already."
"Cousin Ming tried those once," Jiao said. "She wrecked three dresses—"
"Princess!" She looked over at the executioner, who was getting to his feet. "Move away from Prince Yun!"
"Never," Jiao said. "We stand together. We will die together."
"How convenient." The executioner raised his sword.
"Hey, fathead!"
The executioner turned and saw Beth, standing near the edge of the platform, her wand in hand. "Wizard!" he hissed.
"I've been called worse." Beth aimed her wand at him and shouted, "Zap!"
The magic bolt struck the executioner in the chest. He yelped in pain, staggering as the hair on his arms and torso stood on end. He glared at Beth and growled, "Filthy wizard!"
"Okay," Beth said as she stepped back, raising her hands. "Maybe 'fathead' was a little bit harsh—"
"I hate wizards!" the executioner roared as he chopped through the air with his sword. "Die!"
"Oh crap." Beth turned and jumped off the platform, running through the square as the crowd dove out of her way. With a snarl, the executioner followed her.
"Should we help?" Prince Yun asked as Princess Jiao finished untying the ropes.
"She can take care of herself," Jiao said. "I think."

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About Robert Dahlen:

Fantasy novelist, all-around wisecracker, baker of cookies and penguin aficionado, Robert Dahlen lives in California with lots of penguins (no surprise), a tablet stuffed with e-books and works in progress, and a nice hat. He is hopefully working on more Monkey Queen stories as you read this. And FYI, his last name is pronounced "duh-LANE", as in "The rain in Spain falls mainly on Dahlen," and we hope none of you are now singing "The ren in Spen falls mainly on Dah-len". If you do, it'll hurt my bren. Er, brain.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for May 22, 2015

And here is our weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this time with yet more Hugo debate, a Game of Thrones controversy as well as plenty of discussion of Avengers: Age of Ultron and Mad Max: Fury Road.

Speculative fiction in general:


Hugo controversy:

Game of Thrones controversy: 

Discussion about Avengers: Age of Ultron:

Discussion about Mad Max: Fury Road:

Writing, publishing and promotion:




Con reports:

Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends: 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Interview: Elizabeth Andre, author of The Time Slip Girl

Release date: May 19, 2015
Publisher: Tulabella Press
Subgenre: Lesbian time travel romance

About The Time Slip Girl:


What if the woman you loved was more than a century away? Dara, a computer programmer from Chicago, is visiting London when she opens a door in an Edwardian house and slips into Edwardian England. Agnes, a beautiful London shop girl, takes in the bewildered 21st century American lesbian, but, as Dara begins to accept that she is stuck in 1908, she also begins to accept that she has feelings for Agnes that go beyond gratitude. And the longer Dara stays, the harder Agnes finds it to hide her growing love for the accidental time traveller from the future. Will they overcome grief and prejudice to acknowledge their true feelings for one another? Or will Dara be snatched back to the 21st century before they can express their love?

Interview with Elizabeth Andre:


What was the inspiration for The Time Slip Girl? 
The idea came to me in a dream. I dreamt one night nearly two years ago now that I had somehow gone back in time to 1908 London and found myself living with a young Englishwoman who worked in a shop. When I woke up, I thought, “Well, why not?”

Have you always been interested in time travel?
I think so, yes. It’s intriguing, the notion that time could allow one to move through it, back and forth, at will. I don’t think it ever occurred to me that it could really be possible. It was just something fun to daydream about.

What books, movies or TV shows do you like that have dealt with time travel?
Well, there are several movies and TV shows I’ve enjoyed that use time travel as their central premise. Any number of Doctor Who episodes have used it, and I get a kick out of Doctor Who. When I was a kid I loved Quantum Leap starring Scott Bakula. I also liked Life On Mars (U.K. version) as well as movies like Time After Time, Somewhere In Time, Back to the Future and Edge of Tomorrow. And I can’t forget Ray Bradbury’s A Sound of Thunder, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and Night Watch by Terry Pratchett.

The Time Slip Girl, unlike your favorite books, movies and TV programs, is unusual in its protagonist, Dara Gillard, because she is African American and a lesbian. Do you think it’s about time we had a protagonist like her in a time travel story?
Sure, but I didn’t get here first. The protagonist of Octavia Butler’s Kindred is a 20th century African American woman who travels back to early 19th century Maryland when slavery was still an important part of this country’s economy. I must say I haven’t read Kindred. I thought while I was writing The Time Slip Girl that maybe I should, but I decided against it because I thought it might hamstring me in one way or another. Butler’s work is phenomenal, so I think I might have felt too intimidated to continue writing my story.
What would you say was the greatest challenge of writing The Time Slip Girl? I’d say the greatest challenge was imagining what it would be like for a young, African American lesbian from the 21st century to navigate a life, her new life of finding a job and love, in the utterly bewildering time and place of 1908 London. It was actually an exciting time in London then. The Olympics were held there that year. The drive for votes for women was picking up steam, so lots was going on. Still, it would have been mystifying to find yourself there if you’re used to smartphones, TV, movies, international air travel and round the clock access to a variety of food even if you don’t have the layers of being a different race and sexuality from the majority of the population.

What do you hope a reader gets from the book?
Frankly, I just hope readers enjoy it and think it’s a good story.

Amazon | Smashwords | AllRomance


About Elizabeth Andre:

Elizabeth Andre writes lesbian romance, science fiction and young adult stories. She is a lesbian in an interracial same-sex marriage living in the Midwest. She hopes you enjoy her stories. She certainly loves writing them.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Curse You, Albert Einstein! By A.E. Williams

Curse You, Albert Einstein!
By A.E. Williams

Imagine you are on a road, in a convertible car that is REALLY fast. There you are, zooming along at over a hundred miles an hour, the wind in your hair, and the bugs in your teeth. (Well, hopefully no bugs…) Now, you see a speed limit sign up ahead. It says MAXIMUM SPEED is 500kph. Your car is capable, you think, of going faster than that. So, you push down the accelerator, and the engine whines and suddenly you run out of fuel. You coast into a gas station; fill her up, and take off again, determined to hit 500kph. Leaning hard on that pedal, you approach that limit and suddenly, the engine winds down. 
You are out of fuel. Again! Luckily, there is ANOTHER gas station, so this time you gas it up with Premium. You get an oil change while you are there. In fact, you put on new tires and even pump them up to maximum pressure. As a final consideration, you PUT UP THE TOP!
Now, grimly gripping the wheel, you embark on toward your destination, pushing the limits of man and machine, as the engine screams in protest, and the revolutions climb – and, you’re out of gas again.
Such it is with Faster-Than-Light travel in the world of Einsteinian and Newtonian physics. Just as soon as you get going, you end up running out of something. The faster you go, the heavier you get. The more fuel you need. The fuel adds more mass.
It’s a vicious cycle of fail.
There’s no easy way to say this, but in real space, faster than light is, so far, not an observed phenomena. This makes it a bit difficult to travel around the place. But, is there any hope at all for we science fiction nerds? Can there be a loophole? A worm-loophole, maybe?
Let’s take a look …

FIGURE 1: It’s all HIS fault![1]

We’ve all seen the famous equation. It’s been pounded into our heads since the 1940’s, with all the movies and books and stories and everything. Einstein’s problematic equation.
Energy equals Mass times Speed of Light Squared

That C is CONSTANT, at 186 282.397 miles per second.[2]
If you algebraically[3] re-arrange the equation a bit, then you can get:
E / M = C2
This means that as Mass Increases, you need more Energy so that the numbers on both sides of the equation are the same.
So, let’s do a simple[4] math problem to show how this works:
I am going to use two numbers to get a result. They are X and Y.  These are called VARIABLES, because, as you will see in a moment, they can vary in value.
I am also going to have a number C, for CONSTANT. I want C = 4 for this problem, okay? It will ALWAYS be 4. Because that’s what a CONSTANT does, it stays the same; constant.
Now, there are many ways to have the LEFT side equal the RIGHT side.
If we set the RIGHT side to 4:
16 / 4 = 4
This is true. It will always be true. [5]
4 = 4
If I say let X = 16 and Y = 4, then this will mean the EQUATION is true. [6]
Here are ALL the steps:
Y = 4
C = 4

The equation is going to be: [7]
X / Y = C
Substitute the values for the variables:
16 / 4 = 4
4 = 4
Now, let’s change the 16 to 480.
Why? Because I want to show what happens if X gets bigger.
480 / 4 = 120
This is NOT true.
Why? Because 480 / 4 does NOT equal 4, correct? It’s 120.
Well, A.E., you may be asking, why can’t we just use 120 instead of 4, QED?
Because the 4 on the RIGHT hand side will ALWAYS be 4.That is why it is known as a CONSTANT. The VARIABLE values are the two on the LEFT side. They can vary, in order to make the equation TRUE.
So, the illustration shows the relationship between X and Y, which in good old Albert’s fine equation, equate to E and M.
(We won’t go into the ‘squared’ bit, because it simply makes the relationship exponential, meaning it happens a LOT faster as things get bigger.)
This matter / energy thing gets compounded by two other interesting aspects of space-time. As a body approaches the speed of light, it gets HEAVIER. This requires MORE energy, (fuel) to make it accelerate more. Remember the automobile in the beginning?
Every time you approach the speed of light, you end up running out of fuel because you are not only carrying the mass of the car and passenger, but also need enough energy to carry the mass of the fuel itself ( and pumps, engines, tanks, wiring, all of that).
In real-world rocketry, there is an equation known, oddly enough, as The Rocket Equation.[8]
Basically, it states that a rocket, because it needs to carry fuel and machinery to create that all-important thrust to send it off into space[9], has a mathematical point of balance. Exceed this point, and the rocket won’t go anywhere. It’s too heavy to lift itself off of the launch pad.
Science fiction authors usually just ignore all of this.

Figure 2: Eat Me, Physics!

They invent novel ideas that circumvent nasty old Einstein and his mean old math.
And, in doing so, create something wonderful:


Figure 3: Jedi Mind Trick[10]

The greatest contribution of science fiction to real science is that we all hope, one day, to have some of the neato-keeno things that can be glimpsed emitting from the fertile minds and frenetically typing fingers of the best of us.
Think of your cell phone. Now, what is this, then?

Figure 4: Can you hear me NOW?[11]

That little beauty was on the telly in 1965! Only a mere twenty years later, the telephone industry figured out how to get almost every living human to buy one of these things, and gouge them for the privilege. Is science fiction great, or what?
And how about flying cars? Or jet packs? Or…
But, I digress.[12]
Returning to our discussion of FTL, let’s also take note of the enormous amount of resources needing to be carried as provisions. Sustaining life as we gallivant across the Galaxy is going to be a bit problematic. (More of that mass stuff, don’t you know…)
I think it’s telling that most of the good, fun science fiction we all know and love just throws all this tedious fact stuff out the airlock, and gets on with the story. Why bother being accurate, when you can just make something up?
The problem is that people are getting more skeptical, because we ARE able to ask some pithy questions, thanks to the Internet. Our global hive mind is opening all of us up to potentials, and possibilities. We can fact check our own stuff, now. And, in doing so, our ability to be taken in by some hand-waving magical legerdemain is diminishing.
About damn time!
Oh yeah, about that damned time – time slows down. Well, relatively speaking that is. Speed of light travel slows time down dramatically, to the effect that a crew that departs on a sixty year mission may only age a few months, with respect to their perspective.
To everyone else, sixty years is going to pass by, and when the crew returns, everyone they know will probably be dead or just about. [13]
As a science fiction author, I am able to create all manner of cool stories about how my heroes’ space ship can just do something magic and get to the next part of the story. But, in real life, there are genuine obstacles to interstellar and intergalactic, because it just don’t work that way, folks.
Here’s an example for comparison:
The Voyager spacecraft, after travelling in space for thirty-eight years, is 19.5 billion kilometers away from Earth. It’s the closest we’ve come to interstellar travel. Note the very long time spent traversing the Solar System. This is peanuts compared to interstellar travel. The nearest star is 4.24 light years from us; current technology will get a probe there in about ten-thousand years.
Of course we yearn for a shortcut. FTL is it. But, we haven’t managed to create black holes, wormholes, folded space or even antimatter warp drives yet. [14]
A lot of this hinges on whether or not Einstein was 100% correct.
 IF ( and it’s a big if) we are able to locally affect our space time fabric, or find a sub-ethereal layer, or manage to master some manner of gravitational waves, we may be able to bend these physical laws to our advantage.
The big problem is that since everything can only travel at light speed, including light, radio waves, microwaves and similar radiations it is impossible to actually see anything ahead of you.
As the ship accelerates, it is catching up to light that already impinges on the ships viewing sensors (ie photodetectors or camera lenses). The shift in the speed will tinge any images blue.
 This is because of the Doppler Effect, the well-known phenomenon that can be easily observed as a vehicle passes you. It sounds distant, then close, then distant. But, the vehicle’s engine is not going any faster. The noise is a constant buzz, but it sounds the way it does because of the position of the emitting source relative to you as it passes by. The same is true of light, and it is used by astronomers to gauge acceleration between objects in space. There is a red shift as thing are receding away from Earth, and  blue shift as they move towards us. This is because the waves of light are further apart as the object is moving away from us, and they get compressed as they move towards us.
At near-light speeds, this causes a problem as the ship overtakes the visible light from objects. The light waves are stacked upon each other as they are emitted or reflected from objects, and the frequency shifts to the blue end of the spectrum. The practical effect of this is to make any pilots blind to what is outside the ship. Even specialized sensors are subject to this law of physics. It will require some very clever engineering to overcome this obstacle.
Another problem will be that of communicating to other vessels, and even with Earth. The current standard is the radio wave. These travel at the speed of light, so traveling from say, Mars to Earth takes about thirteen minutes. If you are sending large packets of data, then a round-trip conversation would take hours.
It also is asymmetric, like using a walkie-talkie or CB radio. The first speaker would transmit, then wait for the receiver to get the message, decode it, think about it, then respond with an answer. The process repeats itself for EVERY communication between those two points. NASA and ESA use military protocols to assure that communications are efficiently transmitted, (there is even talk of a Cosmic Internet being developed!).
But the harsh reality is still the same…when NASA gets information from Voyager, it is already 18 hours old!
Imagine if a satellite were sending data from the Crab Nebula 6500 light years away! A transmission from there would be over six and a half millennia old, and that would be only one-way!
In conclusion, there may someday be ways to shortcut these physical laws. The Universe in which we live constricts our ability to roam freely. Perhaps that is for the best. But, that will have to wait to be the subject of another of our upcoming discussions.

Up Next:
June - Cyborgs, Artificial Intelligences, Trans-Humans, the Singularity and the Merging of Humans and Machine.
July - The Physics of Science Fiction Weapons.
August - The Reality of Living in an Undersea City.

A.E. Williams,  May 10, 2015

[1] "Albert Einstein (Nobel)" by Unknown - Official 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics photograph.
Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons  

[2] In 1972, using the laser interferometer method and the new definitions, a group at NBS in Boulder, Colorado determined the speed of light in vacuum to be c = 299792456.2±1.1 m/s. This was 100 times less uncertain than the previously accepted value. The remaining uncertainty was mainly related to the definition of the meter.
SOURCE: Wikipedia

[3] Hey! Come back! There won’t be a lot more math, I promise!
[4] Feel free to skip this part, if you like.

[5] In our Universe, at least!

[6] Bear in mind that this only is for THIS particular problem, with the rules we are using. Normally, you can have constants and variables trading places on each side, as long as you are consistent. But, that’s too much algebra for this short example.
[7] This looks like E/M = C2, right?
[8] This equation was independently derived by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, but more often simply referred to as 'the rocket equation' (or sometimes the 'ideal rocket equation'). However, a recently discovered pamphlet "A Treatise on the Motion of Rockets" by William Moore[2] shows that the earliest known derivation of this kind of equation was in fact at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich in England in 1813,  for weapons research.

Source: Wikipedia, again. Hey – don’t judge me! I like the convenience and it’s probably 85% accurate in general. Political and geopolitical or biography stuff is subject to alteration, but they get the science and math parts right pretty much always! And, let’s face it, when you Google this later, which entry are YOU going to read???

[9] Thank you, Sir Isaac Newton and your Second Law of Motion! (Not to be confused with the Second Law of Thermodynamics!)
[10] I mean, hang on just a second here. I was going to go for the very obvious “A NEW HOPE” gag, but, is it really ‘NEW’?  Remember, we are supposedly watching things that happened “A long time ago, in a galaxy far away”. If you’ve stayed with me this far, then you know that we are observing stuff that ALREADY HAPPENED. Not exactly ‘New’, now is it? Although, to be fair, if you have only JUST NOW seen this, I suppose it counts for ‘new’. Did you pop out a wormhole, then? Maybe you’d care to share just how that works, hmmm? Yeah. Didn’t think so…
Source: THIS GUY
[11] SOURCE: "20090704-1971 Star Trek TOS Communicator Replica" by David B Spalding - Own work.

[12] Sorry, I was looking on Google for cool things, and then got sad because we still don’t have all the cool things.

[13] Which is kind of depressing when you realize that all those Star Trek crews are flying off into space, at relativistic speeds. Except as regards Voyager…that’s just depressing all on its own.

[14] NASA is currently announcing that they are working on this technology, but it will be quite some time before the means to safely navigate a ship with such engines is also developed.