Friday, December 19, 2014

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for December 19, 2014


  Here is our weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web:

Speculative fiction in general:

Writing, publishing and promotion:

Interviews:

Reviews:

Crowdfunding:

Con reports:

Science and technology:

Odds and ends:

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Atomic Sea by Jack Conner

Subgenre: Epic Fantasy, Science Fiction
Release Date: December 1, 2014

ABOUT The Atomic Sea:

A thousand years ago, the sea began to change, and the change spread.

Now the boiling, toxic, lightning-wreathed Atomic Sea has encompassed every ocean on the planet, and the creatures that live in it have become mutated and unnatural. The sea's taint can infect any human who comes in contact with it or with unprocessed seafood, killing them . . . or altering them. No one knows why the sea has become this way or what it portends, only that it's irrevocably changed the world.

Meanwhile, world war has erupted, and the small country of Ghenisa, like many others, is tottering on the brink of collapse under the onslaught of the Empire of Octung. Middle-aged widower Dr. Francis Avery is aboard a military whaling ship far out on the Atomic Sea when a series of murders onboard propels him down a rabbit-hole of danger and terror unlike any other.

Soon he becomes aware of a spy on the ship, but that's just the beginning. With the help of the grizzled whaler Janx and a mysterious woman named Layanna, he will embark on an epic quest to save Ghenisa from Octung and unravel the secrets of the Atomic Sea.

Excerpt:

Whale songs groaned through the hull of the ship as Dr. Avery and the sailors played cards. The cabin reverberated to the sounds—long, tapering peals that stood hairs on end—and alchemical lanterns threw drunken green shadows against the walls. Sailors glanced around uneasily.

Avery tossed his cards face-down and said, “Well, then, lads, if no one will match me, I believe that pot is mine.”

The seamen muttered as he raked in his winnings. Some were big men, whalers, hairy and covered in tattoos. The Navy men and women tended to be slimmer, neater. The room smelled of oil, leather and cigar smoke, some of which curled up from Avery’s own cigar clamped between his teeth. He was not a large man, but somehow that made him stand out all the more. His smoke drifted around his balding head with its black comb-over and joined the cloud that stirred against the ceiling.

“That’s your fourth haul tonight,” said Janx, one of the whalers, tall and rawboned. His nose had been torn off in a whaling catastrophe years ago, and a piece of leather covered the hole where it had been, held in place by straps that went round his head. “And three without showin’ your cards.”

“Feel free to match my bet next time,” Avery said. “It has been an unusually good night, I must admit.”

It was Janx’s turn to deal, and the cards fluttered with surprising grace through his rough, scarred hands. Scars and tattoos seemed to mark every inch of his body. His shaven head gleamed in the light.

“Your luck’ll turn, Doc,” he said. “See if it don’t.”

Avery raised his eyebrows. After a look at his cards, he said, “I think not.”

“You’re bluff—”

The door burst open. Lt. Hinis stormed in, dressed in her environment suit, huge and bulky with its bronze helmet and grilled visor. “Doctor, come quick, we need your help. There’s been a killing.”

“Another one?” Janx said. “Damn.”

“Has the killer been caught?” Avery asked.

“No,” Hinis said. “But the patrols are out. The murder happened outside.”

Avery crossed to the wall, where with Hinis’s assistance he donned an environment suit of his own. Like hers, it resembled a diving suit of antiquity, all treated canvas, brass joinings and big brass helm. There were no true diving suits anymore, of course; no one was insane enough to use one, not for a thousand years. In the background, the whale songs bellowed louder—closer—and whalers glanced at each other soberly.

As Avery reached the door, Janx grunted, and the doctor looked back to see that Janx had flipped over Avery’s cards. A two of jades nestled against a three of fates.

Janx shook his head. “Never saw a worse hand.” He hesitated, then said, “Y’know, Doc, the killer could still be out there. Might be I should come with you.”

Avery waited while Janx shrugged on an environment suit, and they followed Hinis out into the night.





Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Maze of Fates by Geronimo Bosch

Release date: November 23, 2014
Subgenre: Dytopian, Science Fiction, Cyberpunk

About Maze of Fates

 Agnise would do anything for her lover, Dolores, including selling sexual favours in the sleazy underworld of Dominion City. They work together out of The Elite Lounge, where their employer, Silla, has become entangled in their romantic affairs. Into this love triangle arrives the unwanted attentions of their gangland boss, Zoot.

Their association with the Madame of the Lounge was supposed to protect the lovers from the perils of the job. But, Zoot's intention to have Agnise and Dolores satisfy his every whim as his personal slaves, leaves Silla in a position of power from which she can dictate the course of their lives. Agnise, however, has other ideas. She will fight tooth and nail, doing whatever it takes to protect the love she shares with Dolores.

Excerpt:

Having relinquished control of the skidoo, Agnise brought the flyer in to land on the bustling verge of Kandinsky plaza, by the steps leading up to the imposing House of the Specious Charlatan with its grandiloquent facade.
Next, she took hold of the erstwhile pilot by his surprisingly spindly and insubstantial neck, threatening him with further violence by clenching her other fist. The feller’s chunky, angular oddball head turned a deepening scarlet and purpling blue.
“I’ll take the wings; they’ll be plenty enough help. Just get the fuck out now, so I don’t have to hurt you again...”
The warning fell on deaf ears, “This isn’t what it seems, I can assure you...”
Futile pleading, all for nought: “Funny, cuz it seems like a skidjacking to me...” Agnise struck the pilot in his elongated face and hoisted him by the seat of his troobs up and over the rim of the Starburst, sending him sprawling in a contorted heap upon the polished and shining steps of the house of credulous worship.
“There are people who can help; it’s my job to persuade you...” The smartly-dressed freak was unusually insistent, to the point of being annoyingly so.
“Just a tip...” Agnise dispensed a little wisdom whilst settling into the pilot’s seat and gunning the zooter, preparing to scoot, “...next time, try sending a woman and I might not punch her in the face.”
“Wait...” The spindly dude tried again, pluckily, “...I’m an androgyne.”
This announcement caught Agnise a little by surprise, but she didn’t get what the creep stood to gain from it.
And, nor was she hanging around to find out: “Well, try putting on a dress...”
Firing up the SpankMobile, Agnise quit the scene lickity-splitly, leaving the vehicle’s owner agape in her wake as, in no time, the Starburst melted into the twinkling brilliance of the cold Dominion night.
Putting the encounter from her mind, Agnise proceeded to address her options...
Nice set of wings: Could take her anywhere she might want to go.
Next requirement: Credit. She had funds stashed away which didn’t require signing-off by His Zootness, but, if she accessed them right then, that would lead the Yardees straight to her. She’d need to hit on a friendly and it needed to be someone unconnected to the Yard. Wray at The Crookery would wait, Agnise wasn’t taking the gift of a ride back anywhere near The Vapours, she was putting distance between her and The Wrecking Yard; the further the better. So, that made The Elite Lounge and the Hot Plate out of bounds. At least, until Agnise could obtain an arsenal and return all guns blazing... take the fuckers down.
She thought of an old flame, a total crackball called Cheeba; dozen-daisy crazy with a rocket in her socket. Agnise had been tight with her as a teenster, back in the days before Dolores blew up into her life and wondered if Cheeba still hung with the Holy Rollers at the Mission over in SkankVille, which was nothing like as religious as it sounded. The Mission was home to a pseudo-cult getting fat on the tax breaks and kickbacks made available by State to minority religious orders, of which there were an ever greater proliferation, thanks to the scheme. In reality, the Mission was a happening hotspot, raging any time of day or night – An all-round, general palace to debauchery. They justified their religious status by defining themselves as an ecstatic cult deeply devoted to the Dionysian rite of bacchanal and, in their devotion, the Holy Rollers were kept busy; it became a vocation, almost.
Even to a good-time girl like Agnise, the Holy Rollers dedication to the cause was mighty impressive and actually, maybe, a little disconcerting. So, hell yeah, why wouldn’t Cheeba still be hanging out down there – it was the kind of place that could cope with her...
Using the ComsTex on the Orion’s dashboard, Agnise dropped Cheeba a shout to let her know that she was heading her way.
Then, she opened up the Starburst and let that Gazoota fly...


Amazon 

About Geronimo Bosch


Some of my best ideas arrive when I'm sleeping.

You know the type: Some clown with a melted face offers me a bag of jelly beans that contains the whole damn Multiverse; each one I eat is me chomping down an entire Universe... this one's sweet... and this one's really bitter. That one tasted like gorgonzola!

And it's not as if the clown has any qualms about this senseless devouring of reality... I ask the freak: "What happens when I eat the Universe that we're in right now...?"

And, the weirdo just looks at me with eyes that have seen too much of the heart of every star; have been baked hard, then melted, and ultimately screwed - and he says to me, this Dream Peddler, he says, "Aaah, there you go laddie: we're in all of them, at the same time, for all of eternity..."

Then, he starts to laugh, maniacally, in the manner of someone who's been given far too much adulation for far too long, and when I look again into the bag of jelly beans, I realise that I've been eating pellets of dung all along.

That sort of thing.

I like to channel a sense of dream absurdity and multi-textural reality into the high-octane, psychedelia of the dystopian, cyberpunk sci-fi that I write. It seems to me an adequate form for satirising the sheer, unbridled lunacy of life on Earth as a human in the 21st century.

Because if you forget to smile and laugh, you go mad...

Author Website

 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Chinatown Haunting Thriller by Wesley Robert Lowe

Subgenre: New Adult, Paranormal, Suspense, Thriller
Release Date: November 28, 2014

ABOUT A Chinatown Haunting Thriller:


The ghostly, beating heart of the series is Vancouver’s 150-year-old Chinatown, the largest in Canada and one of the oldest in North America. Although this bustling cultural hub prospered for many years, it has since degenerated, and today Chinatown is clawing its way to a kind of renewal.

Those of us that live in Vancouver commonly joke that this is a city where everyone comes from somewhere else. While the earliest Chinese were poverty-stricken peasants, some of the newer arrivals fly here in first class or even in their own private jets. And because Vancouver regularly places among the best cities in the world to live, the characters that reside here -- living, dead, or something else entirely -- are diverse and complex.

While the worldview here is definitely Western, there is a strong Chinese influence. Since the 1960s, Canada has been a preferred place for Chinese to immigrate to. Schools are top-notch, healthcare affordable, homes a fraction of high-end Asian dwellings… not to mention breathable, non-polluted air. There are now so many Chinese that some give Vancouver the nickname “Hongcouver.”

It’s made for a diverse country, and in addition to money, education and culture is a completely different outlook on reality. For most Chinese, the world is not simply black and white, living and dead, good and evil. Gods, demons, angels, other spirits, ancestors and more cohabit this world with us.

There are no rules to their behavior. Some can directly affect the lives of the living; some can’t – or won’t. Some can transform their appearances; some only wish they could. Some are kind, some are not. Some are capricious; others are on a mission. Some are solid, some you can stick your hand through... and for some, you can do both, depending on their moods.

In this world, there are no absolutes, no rules.

Oh, and one more thing. In these books I use the umbrella term “spooks” to refer to all of these otherworldly beings. I’m bestowing spectral characteristics of good or evil. The word does not refer to spies, nor is it used as a pejorative.

The first book, Deadly Love, is Free at: Amazon | iTunes | Kobo

Monday, December 15, 2014

The "Meet My Character" Blog Hop Revisited

I already discussed the "Meet My Character" blog hop in these pages back in October.

However, in the almost two months since the last post, several more authors have introduced us to their characters, so it was time for a new round-up post. So here is a list of all posts so far. Prepare to meet some fascinating, albeit fictional people (plus one android):
And here are some coming attractions:
  • December 21, 2014: Amelia Smith
  • December 28, 2014: Patty Jansen
  • January 4, 2015: Harry Manners
  • January 11, 2015: Vincent Caine
  • January 18, 2015: free
  • January 25, 2015: free
  • February 1, 2015: free
As you can see, we still have some free dates in January. If you're interested in taking part in the "Meet My Character" blog hop, please contact Cora Buhlert.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Interview with Bruce Fottler, author of Paladin's Odyssey

This week, Bruce Fottler, author of post-apocalyptic thriller Paladin's Odyssey, answers those tricky Speculative Fiction Showcase interview questions...




Apple or PC?

PC all the way. Nothing against Apple, but I've spent too many years in corporate finance positions where PC's were always used (while creating new cover-sheets for TPS reports). These days I'm no longer cool enough to own an Apple. They watch out for people like me at the Apple stores. I'm never allowed inside.

Do you use Scrivener or Word?

Neither. I use OpenOffice. The price was right.

Do you have any pets? Do they influence your writing?

We rescued a pure white cat from our local shelter last year. Her name is Isis, which is an unfortunate name to have these days. She's very pretty, but not very smart and spoiled rotten. When I see her lounging around like royalty, it motivates me to get writing, promoting, or just do something.

Would you rather see your stories on the big screen or the little screen?

Big screen, for sure. Back in high school, my buddy and I were aspiring film-makers nicknamed “Lucas and Spielberg.” We thought we were destined to someday make the next summer blockbuster movie. But sadly, for every future Lucas and Spielberg, there are hundreds of hopefuls (like us) that never make it. So now I write my stories as though they might someday make it to the big screen. Hey, I can still dream.

Are you hooked on any of the shows on the sci-fi channel? If so, which one(s)?

I loved Battlestar Galactica (remake, not original), SG-1, and yes, even SGA. These days I hardly tune in to sci-fi, or “SyFy” as it's now known. I lost interest once they misspelled their name and shifted their focus to reality shows & wrestling. Sad, it's sort of like how MTV stopped playing music videos.

Do you own copies of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings DVDs? The extended version? Do you ever watch them?

I own the extended version and think these movies rank among the best ever made. I've watched them too many times to count, mostly because my sons (and their cousins) used to watch them over and over again. If DVD's could wear out, ours must be pretty close. I wonder, do they come with a lifetime warranty?

Have you seen the first two parts of the The Hobbit? Are you planning to see the final installment?

I've seen both Hobbit movies, and my youngest son will probably try to drag me to an opening night showing of the third installment. I think they're pretty good, but it's hard to top the LOTR movies.

Are you a Luddite? Or do you prefer to be on the bleeding edge of technology?

I still place closer to the bleeding edge of technology. When I was younger, I though technology was too far behind. I'd dream of having what we have today. However, as I get older, technology seems to race further and further ahead of me. Someday I'll probably turn to the Luddite side, once Skynet tries to nuke us all.

Are you--or have you ever been--a gamer?

Nope, I never got addicted to that. Now I get to play the old-fashioned parent trying to pry his kids away from video games to do their homework.

Have you ever been to Starbucks?

Actually, never. I much prefer Dunkin' Donuts. Yeah, I know those are fightin' words to some.

Coffee or Tea or Water?

Coffee! Caffeine is an essential nutrient for writers.

Espresso, Drip, Instant, or French Press?

Um,.. Mr. Coffee?

Do you wear socks?

Only when they're clean and match something I'm wearing. My wife trained me well.

What are you wearing right now?

Mostly? A spoiled white cat who thinks she owns my lap, and her fur that shed all over my clothes.

Does life fascinate you?

I don't know how one could be a writer if it didn't.

Do you recycle?

Perhaps too much. Wait, you're talking about writing, right?


Author bio: 
 
Since exiting a finance career in a world of cubicles, Bruce Fottler has been busy writing novels. His latest is the post-apocalyptic thriller: Paladin's Odyssey.

Bruce grew up in the Chicago suburbs and moved to the Boston area as a young teen. While seeking a career-track that mostly put him behind a desk, he dabbled in creative pursuits such as producing, writing, and directing film shorts. However, it was always writing novels that interested him the most because they aren't limited by production budgets, technical capabilities, or tight shooting schedules.
Bruce has three other published novels: Chasing Redemption (Sci-fi thriller), Dover Park (Mystery), and The Juncture (Time-travel drama).

Links:
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Bruce-Fottler/e/B0074BB2J6/

Goodreads Author Page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5816196.Bruce_Fottler

Link to Paladin's Odyssey on Amazon: http//:www.amazon.com/Paladins-Odyssey-Bruce-Fottler-ebook/dp/B00OYZPJ8A

Paladin's Odyssey Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/PaladinsOdyssey

Bonus! Enter a Goodreads giveaway to win one of two signed copies of Paladin's Odyssey (Ends December 17th): http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/118327-paladin-s-odyssey

Please also note that Paladin's Odyssey is free through Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for December 12, 2014


  Here is our weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web:

Speculative fiction in general:

Writing, publishing and promotion: 

Interviews:

Reviews:

Crowdfunding:

Con reports:

Science and technology:

Odds and ends: