Saturday, September 5, 2015

Strength Does Not a Sword-fighter Make by Claire Ryan


There's a long-running trope in fantasy - whether in books, games, or films - that a big sword wielded by a strong man is the medieval equivalent of a trump card that beats all others. Witness Conan, with his bulging muscles, or the Mountain from A Song of Ice and Fire, or even the ridiculously over-sized weapons seen in almost every fantasy video game. There's nothing wrong with this as a narrative device, of course, but have you ever wondered if the same would hold true in real life? It seems obvious, doesn't it?

The truth, unfortunately, is a big fat NO.

A little history


First of all, let's just be clear that I know that people don't kill each other with medieval weaponry any more. There is some lost context because we don't have an unbroken chain of mastery from current Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) to the fighting styles that would have been practised back when death by pointy steel objects was a thing. However, we do have the training manuals from that time, and the people learning from them are human beings with the same number of arms and legs, so we can certainly determine what's probable and what's not.

Let's look at some examples of European swords from 1000-1500 AD.


zweihanders
Here are some German zweihanders, which were probably the biggest swords to be used on the battlefield.




espandon
Here's a Swiss longsword, which was commonly used in two hands.




arming sword
This one is a replica of a 13th century arming sword, which would have been used in one hand along with a shield.



rapiers
And finally, a selection of rapiers, daggers, and basket-hilt broadswords.


Now, I'm sure the first thing you'll notice is that these swords look rather boring. They're all quite long and thin, with no unnecessary spikes or bits added on. It might surprise you to learn that all of them, even the zweihanders, are very light, even deceptively so. Usually, the first thing that a newcomer to HEMA says on being handed a longsword, for example, is 'Wow, it hardly weighs anything!'

Those medieval weaponsmiths did not mess about, believe me. Their blades were made from high quality steel, and so of course they were light and strong. The idea of a giant, unwieldy sword that no one but a strong champion can lift is pure Hollywood fantasy. A real sword doesn't require a lot of strength to move it effectively through space.

The physics of swordplay


At a very basic level, swordfighting is all about physics. It's no accident that real swords the world over tend to all look a little bit alike; they're all made for the singular job of killing people as efficiently as possible while keeping the wielder as safe as possible. The physics to do that requires a thin, light sword.

So, you need a certain amount of strength to swing a sword. It's far more important, however, that you have the strength to stop it mid-swing and change direction. Up to a point, there comes a trade-off between the power of a blow and how much you can do once the blow is in motion. Swing too hard, and you are very, very dead when your opponent parries and you can't stop the counter-attack.
But would you ever want to swing particularly hard? Well, no, not really. The big, obvious wind-up, as a hero grunts with effort, is another Hollywood fantasy. Likewise the idea of swordplay being slow - most movies show swordplay that is actually as slow and frustrating as watching a Formula 1 car driving through a parking lot! If you connect with a blow, it doesn't take much to do a lot of damage against an unarmoured opponent. A rapier, for example, only needs about 4lbs of force to skewer someone. Swinging a sword is really not like swinging a baseball bat, regardless of what you see in the movies. Fencing, even with really big swords, is all about precision, speed, skill, and muscle memory rather than strength.

This brings me on to talking about the crossing of the swords. This is a very important concept in swordplay, and it's the big reason why strength is so much less important.

Who would win in a fight?


Let's say you put Inigo Montoya from the Princess Bride into the ring with the Mountain from A Game of Thrones. Speed and skill versus strength and power. Who would win in that fight?

The answer is Inigo, every time.

Time for a quick lesson on HEMA! Here's a breakdown of the various parts of the sword, using a rapier for reference:


anatomy of the rapier


Part of the skill of swordplay is gaining control over your opponent's sword. In the schools of Italian swordsmanship, this is called 'gaining the crossing', where you meet your opponent's sword in just the right way so that you can control the direction in which it moves, and you can counter-attack and injure your opponent without risking yourself. This is done by doing three things:

  • Crossing over the centre line between you and them
  • Putting your sword's forte (the part near the hilt where you can apply a lot of force) against their sword's debole (the part far away from the hilt where very little force can be applied)
  • By keeping your true edge (on the same side as your fingers) on top of their false edge (on the other side from their fingers)

Swords behave very much like long steel levers, so these three elements combine to negate your opponent's strength and enhance your own. Gaining a good crossing is so effective that it honestly doesn't matter how much bigger and stronger your opponent is. Unless they're also skilled enough and precise enough to gain the crossing back, they'll be the one bleeding out at the end of the fight. (In my HEMA club, there's a very common demonstration which shows the power of a good crossing. The instructor places the biggest new fighter against the smallest one, and has them cross swords while giving the latter the three advantages above. Then they tell the former to try to move their sword. Every time, the sword cannot be moved, no matter how much force the fighter puts into it.)

In the fight between Inigo and the Mountain, Inigo could likely put the light, thin rapier blade through the other man's eye socket three times before he could swing once. But even if the Mountain did swing his big, heavy sword with all his might, Inigo only needs enough skill to catch the blade on a good crossing, and suddenly all that strength counts for nothing.

HEMA practitioners generally act on the assumption that real swords look a particular way and swordfighters learned a particular way because that was what worked. I think it's clear that strength is the least important attribute in medieval swordplay simply because it's the only one where you don't need more of it to win a fight. Against a fast, skilled, precise opponent, you need to be faster, more skilled, and more precise - but against a stronger opponent, all you need is to know the right technique.


About Claire Ryan:



 Claire Ryan is a writer who produces fantasy adventure, steampunk, sci-fi, genre - basically anything weird. She's worked in online advertising, affiliate marketing, and (gasp) retail management, and she's finally decided to try writing books for a living.

She wrote The Author's Marketing Handbook because she got tired of repeating herself all the time while talking to other writers.

Her first novel is due out summer 2015.

== Irish ex-pat now living the Canadian Dream in Vancouver. Web programmer by day. Occasional maker of cloth-based stuff. Book-binder. Longsword fighter. ==

Website | Twitter

Friday, September 4, 2015

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for September 4, 2015


And here is our weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with tributes to Wes Craven, Afrofuturism, Sasquan con reports as well as the more 2015 Hugo debate.

Speculative fiction in general:

Awards:

Hugo and Alfie Awards aftermath:

Writing, publishing and promotion:

Interviews:

Reviews:

Crowdfunding:

Con reports:

Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends: 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Hunted (Auralight Codex: Dakota Shepherd, Book 2) by Shei and Annathesa Nikola Darksbane

Release date: August 13, 2015
Subgenre: Urban fantasy

About Hunted

 

Dakota Shepherd is such a newb: newly Awakened, rookie werewolf, supernatural investigator in training. Her command of the wolf inside is shaky at best, and her grasp of the unstable magic she wields is worse. She sure has a lot to learn about her new life in the supernatural world. So why would anyone want to stalk her?
A trespasser in pack territory. Blood on the mountain. An urban legend, spoken only in whispers.
Can Dakota rise to the challenge of a deadly foe?
There’s no shame in being new: everyone starts out that way. But in a world of powerful supernatural threats, being a newb could get a girl killed. And if Dakota isn’t up to the job of protecting herself, how can she hope to protect her loved ones from the ancient supernatural killer that hunts them? 

Excerpt:



Raelya and I chatted about driving, cars, flying, planes, and her interest in older aeronautical mechanics for the remainder of the drive to my Knoxville apartment. Raelya pulled us into the apartment’s small parking lot and turned off the truck. As she started to get out, I put a hand on her arm to stop her. “Hey, wait.”
Raelya glanced up at me, tilting her head curiously, and I realized I recognized the motion as a simple askance. Without the mental blocks keeping my wolf away, I was beginning to find I understood wolfish body language fairly naturally.
“I forgot I need boxes and stuff. Would you go pick some up from Walmart before we get started?” I pulled out my wallet and started counting out bills.
Raelya tilted her head. “Of course, but you do not want to come with me?”
I smiled at her. “I have a couple things I’d rather clean up alone before someone helps me pack up if that’s okay. Won’t take long, but you can grab the boxes and maybe get us a pizza if that sounds good?”
Raelya smiled. “Ah, of course. What kind of pizza do you like?”
I shrugged. “Not picky. I bet I’ll eat anything you’d eat anyway.”
Raelya grinned. “Is that a challenge?”
I laughed. “Do your worst, pizza-wolf.”
Raelya laughed and I offered her the bills. Raelya shook her head. “This is too much.”
I shrugged. “I’d rather be sure you have enough.”
“I do have money of my own, you know.”
“Sure, but you’re doing this for me, so I wanna cover it.”
Raelya took the bills and gripped my hand as she did. “Stop worrying about it all so much, Dakota. We are pack now. We are family. You do not have to cover every little thing, or treat every favor as if you are a burden.”
“I know, but I’m not used to it yet.” I admitted, squeezing her hand around the bills.
Raelya smiled, lifting her other hand to brush my hair back from my eyes. “I know. So I am going to help you get used to it.” She pulled the bills from my hand and laid them on the seat next to me.
I frowned. “But—”
“Shh! No buts. You would do the same for me. And one day you will. We are pack, Dakota. We do not worry about paying each other back. We just all do our best to help all of us. Now go inside and hide your naughty toys before I get back.”
I sputtered. “I— Wha— That’s not what I meant!”
Raelya laughed and nodded slowly. “Of course it is not.”
I glared at her playfully and put the bills back in my wallet. “Seriously, I was talking about other things.”
“Of course you were.” Raelya grinned at me then made a shooing gesture. “Do not worry, Dakota. If I were you, I would want a chance to hide my naughty toys too.”
I laughed at that as I slid out of the truck and closed the door. Raelya cranked the truck, and pulled it smoothly out of the parking space. I went on inside to hide my naughty toys.
 
 

Amazon

 

About Shei and Annathesa Nikola Darksbane:

Shei Darksbane and Annathesa Nikola Darksbane are a wifey&wifey team, writing Urban Fantasy and Space Opera, with plans for various Sci Fi & Fantasy series in the future, all with LGBT elements, but with a strong focus on story and character development, and a whole lotta world-building. All their stories are co-created but written by one primary author with input from the other. When they aren't writing, Shei and Annathesa are gamer girls, roleplaying or playing video games, watching their favorite shows, and geeking out over fandoms, cosplays, and science.

Website | Twitter



Monday, August 31, 2015

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for August 2015

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month
It’s that time of the month again, time for “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some July books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. We have science fiction, space opera, science fantasy, paranormal romance, fantasy romance, post-apocalyptic fiction, dystopian fiction, YA fantasy, epic fantasy, urban fantasy, Asian fantasy, grimdark fantasy, weird western, demons, djinns, witches, werewolves and other shifters, space pirates, exiled princesses, desert planets, Wild West mages, lots of LGBT characters and much more. We also have a whole lot of books by women this month.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

Four-Minute-Warning Four Minute Warning by Cora Buhlert:

Two tales of love and loss and nuclear war.

Thirteen Minutes
Caught in a supermarket, when the alarm goes off, Michael and David admit some unspoken truths to each other before the bombs fall.

Four Minute Warning
Tracy and Jimmy know you can’t survive a nuclear war, even if civil defence leaflets and radio broadcasts claim otherwise.

Runespell by Sela CarsenRunespell by Sela Carsen:

In most fairy tales, the prince rescues the princess. It’s not often she gets to return the favor.

Mai Westenra is pulled into a centuries-old quest for vengeance and magic, never realizing that she’ll find love in the midst of danger.

Tyr Halvarsson has waited lifetimes to be rid of his curse. Resigned to his immortal half-life, one selfless act of humanity can redeem him. Or kill him.

Together, Mai and Tyr must work against time and magic to perform the runespell that will save their lives and give them a chance at love that lasts.

The Tale of Yin by Joyce ChngThe Tale of Yin by Joyce Chng:

The duology of Oysters, Pearls & Magic and The Path of Kindness sees the stories of Mirra and her daughter, Kindness, as they struggle to find their identities and selves on the planet they have called home. A feminist YA novella, the Tale of Yin looks at magic, privilege, the landscape and compassion. 

Hunted by Shei DarksbaneHunted by Shei and Annathesa Nikola Darksbane:

Dakota Shepherd is such a newb: newly Awakened, rookie werewolf, supernatural investigator in training. Her command of the wolf inside is shaky at best, and her grasp of the unstable magic she wields is worse. She sure has a lot to learn about her new life in the supernatural world. So why would anyone want to stalk her?

A trespasser in pack territory. Blood on the mountain. An urban legend, spoken only in whispers.
Can Dakota rise to the challenge of a deadly foe?

There’s no shame in being new: everyone starts out that way. But in a world of powerful supernatural threats, being a newb could get a girl killed. And if Dakota isn’t up to the job of protecting herself, how can she hope to protect her loved ones from the ancient supernatural killer that hunts them?

This is the sequel to Awakened.

Pierce by Jolie du PrePierce: A Vampire Serial, Episode 1 by Jolie de Pré:

When vampire warning signs flog the city and people mysteriously disappear one by one, Alicia avoids the nightly hours like the black plague. This attractive, African-American lady spends her days waitressing all while struggling to make a living after a devastating breakup. Her city is already a danger zone, and the arrival of a Caucasian, blood-thirsty trio (Dagon, Vince, and Bess) only amplifies the dilemma. Dagon is a romantic treading between the lines of hopeless and hopeful, whereas Vince’s sexual compulsion doesn’t leave him with any room for true love. Bess is clearly attracted to the much-flaunted Dagon, but alas, her interest is unrequited. Could it be that someone else—of non-vampiric origin, has grabbed a tight hold on his non-beating heart? And with all these monstrosities running about, is Alicia truly safe in the comfort of her own home between sunset and sunrise?

Gods of Blood and Bone by Azalea EllisGods of Blood and Bone by Azalea Ellis:

My name is Eve Redding. I am the new god.

I never wanted to become a Player in the Game, never intended for any of this to happen. I was content with my ordinary, invisible existence among the millions of civilians crowding my city. But the monstrous creators of the Game forced me to Play, and I’m the type to cling to life by the tips of my bloody fingernails.

At first, I was enamored by the ability to augment everything about myself, to become smarter, stronger, prettier…better. But after my teleportation to that first Trial - a death tournament held on a beautiful, vicious alien world?I would have done anything to escape the Game.

I needed power to protect myself and those I cared about from the Game and its creators, so I took it. But every deadly choice I made along the way eroded not only what once made me weak, but what also made me human.

Riot of Storm and Sky by Jennifer EllisionRiot of Storm and Smoke by Jennifer Ellision:

War draws closer, like a tide to the shore.

Bree and her friends have escaped the clutches of the Egrian King, but their troubles are far from over. Still reeling from the secrets that drew new breath when her father took his last, Bree sets off for the safety of Nereidium– the kingdom she’s just learned is hers.

But with the King’s ire at its peak and war a certainty, Nereidium is no longer safe. As Prince Caden rallies the Egrian people against his tyrant father, Bree, Princess Aleta, and Tregle race to the Nereid shore to warn them of the incoming danger—and to put the Nereid Princess on the throne.

The only trouble there: Bree can’t bring herself to reveal that the Princess is her.

It’s not a dilemma she can waste time pondering. With a new weapon in his arsenal, the King’s strikes are sure to be bolder than ever before. And Bree may not be ready to wear a crown… but she won’t let her kingdom down without a fight.

This is the sequel to Threats of Sky and Sea.

Taming the Wolf by Irma GeddonTaming the Wolf by Irma Geddon:

Jared is a young medical resident with a quick wit, a ripped body and a heart of gold. He has a terrible secret—one that has always stopped him from baring his heart to any girl.

Paige is a smart girl, but she’s hopelessly shy and awkward—that is, until Cupid stabs her with his golden arrow, and all she can think about is getting in the pants of perfect but secretive Jared.

Will Cupid’s decision to make Paige fall hopelessly in love with Jared spell trouble for them both?

To the Gap by Kyra HallandTo the Gap by Kyra Halland:

The secret of Lainie’s forbidden magical gifts has been exposed, and Silas wants to take her far away from the Wildings to a place where she can be safe. To earn money for the journey, Silas signs them up to work on the big annual cattle drive to the Gap.

Lainie dreams of making the Wildings into a place where she and Silas and other mages can live in peace. The cattle drive is the perfect opportunity for her and Silas to show the Plain settlers of the Wildings that not all mages are wicked, heartless monsters.

While Silas has reason to believe that the danger to Lainie is worse than he thought, Lainie can’t agree that leaving the Wildings is the answer. As they travel with the herd, Lainie and Silas must avoid being captured or killed by mage hunters and discovered by the mage-hating Plains, while protecting the herd from renegade mages looking for money and trouble. And they have to find a way to resolve the disagreement between them – do they seek refuge in a faraway land or stand and face the dangers of being outlaw mages in the Wildings? – before it tears them apart.

This is Book 4 of Daughter of the Wildings, western fantasy romance for adults and older teens.

Revolver by Michael Patrick HicksRevolver by Michael Patrick Hicks:

Cara Stone is a broken woman: penniless, homeless, and hopeless. When given the chance to appear on television, she jumps at the opportunity to win a minimum of $5,000 for her family.

The state-run, crowdfunded series, Revolver, has been established by the nation’s moneyed elite to combat the increasing plight of class warfare.

There’s never been a Revolver contestant quite like Cara before. The corporate states of America are hungry for blood, and she promises to deliver.

The “stunning and harrowing” short story, originally published in the anthology No Way Home, is now available as a standalone release and features an all-new foreword written by award-winning science fiction author, Lucas Bale.

Old Ways by Paul KleynhansOld Ways by Paul Kleynhans:

Saul escaped the capital with the blood of the Emperor and Princes on his hands, but the recently crowned Empress seeks revenge. She will not rest until her father’s murder is avenged, and sends her Inquisitors, the Dark Legion, to bring him to justice. While hunted by the Inquisition, monsters of the deep, and pirates, Saul sets off to free his brother, the rightful King of Ubrain, from the arena in Qash—a city built on the backs of slaves.

This is the sequel to Dark Legion.

Legend of the Jinn by Jennifer LiuLegend of the Jinn – The Teapot Storm by Jennifer Liu:

And the Jinn break their lamps…
In the vast Arkazian Desert, stories of the magical wish-granting Jinn tantalize the sands. Awe-inspiring and life changing all hope to cross their path. All except Verity.
Verity has angered the Jinn and now their magic laces her blood in a poisonous race. Cursed, she must find the cure her grandfather has hidden in the sands. But before she can save herself, the Jinn demand she save another.
 
A girl for a girl, the trade must be completed
Liam and Hank are two villagers from the Smoke Stacks. Poor and ill-equipped they trick Verity into joining their rescue mission – a girl from their village has been taken. A girl they both seem to love.
As the three race across the sand, dark shadows trail close behind. The Kingdom’s greatest soldier has defected and, now with dark magic on his side, he is nearly unbeatable. And he has one mission – to stop Verity.
 
Time is running out
Chased from all sides, Verity is caught in a desperate struggle. The magic inside of her is addictive and seductive, but as it grows, her humanity diminishes. If she doesn’t find the cure, the Jinn will win and she will be forced to join their ranks as they stage a rebellion to overthrow the human world.

Oasis by Floyd LooneyOasis by Floyd Looney:

Oasis is a desert world, a backwater world ignored by the Star League for generations. The people have subdivided themselves into “tribes” over time. When space pirates and their unknown benefactors try to take over, a teenager named Jake tries to rally people to the defense of their world.



The Last of the Ageless by Traci LoudinThe Last of the Ageless by Traci Loudin:

Three centuries ago, humans and aliens fought for control of the Earth, ending in an apocalyptic disaster known as the Catastrophe…

Dalan is a shapeshifter
He hails from a tribe of mutants dedicated to preserving fading species by taking their forms. To become fully recognized as an adult, he must pass a trial in the wastelands far from home.

Nyr is a killer
When her lust for bounty yields an ancient artifact of mysterious origin, everything she knows is turned upside down. Once a hunter, now a pawn, she must learn to rely on others to survive what’s coming.

Korreth is a slave
Without any extra talents, he depends on nothing more than his strength and wits as he flees the army of mutants that enslaved him. He must return home to warn his people before the swelling ranks of monsters threaten his family.

…but in the shadows, a new threat rises—one that could end what little remains of civilization: The Last of the Ageless.

Casimir's Journey by Lisa ManifoldCasimir’s Journey by Lisa Manifold:

When Casimir looked up, the last thing he saw was Thea. He saw nothing after that and he didn’t expect to.
Until he saw bright, white light, and heard someone talking to him. This was nothing like he expected.
Follow Casimir as he works his way back to Thea – or will he? Catrin is determined that Thea is a waste of his time, talent, and certainly of his heart.

Who will prevail? A great power, or an even greater love?

Casimir’s Journey is Book Two in the Sisters Of The Curse series.

Witch's Curse by Chrissy MossWitch’s Curse by Chrissy Moss:

Hunted since birth, now Okira must use the power she’s been hiding…or die trying.

Trained in secret, hidden from the rest of the Sea of Tears, Okira felt safe; until fate had other plans for her. When a playful sylph pulls Okira into the ocean it sets off a chain of events that lead her down a deadly path.
Danger lurks around every corner. To survive Okira must tap into the abilities she has only begun to understand, stretching her knowledge to the brink.

Now Okira must travel across the Sea of Tears with the shape shifter, Brother Hawk. Together they must find a way to stop the acolytes in their mad lust for power before the high priest unleashes the kraken and destroys everyone.

Witch’s Curse is the second book in the Witch’s Trilogy.

The Blood Moon by David NethThe Blood Moon by David Neth:

Brother witches Josh and Chris have sacrificed a great deal for their magical responsibilities. Their Aunt Kathy is the only family they have left, and together they must face their enemies to keep them from targeting any more victims. But when Kathy is put in the hospital after an attack, the boys are a witch short.
With the brothers at their weakest, they uncover a growing new power trying to organize the demonic hierarchy. Josh and Chris are left alone to battle an evil stronger than anything they’ve ever faced. An evil so strong it might cost them their lives.

The Melding by Claire RyanThe Melding by Claire Ryan:

THE MELDLING is a tale of epic fantasy, set in a world where humans have been driven underground by a war not of their making, and one woman must find the truth of her existence within her own heart.
She was rescued from a darkened dungeon; brought out into the light with no memory of her past. Her only certainty was her name: Suzanna.

Her flesh marks her as a daemon, one of a race of deadly warriors locked in a war with their mortal enemies, the daevas, that has scoured the surface of the world. Humans are irrelevant to them both. But it was Lukas, a human knight, who carried her from the dungeon, nursed her back to health, and protected her from harm. Her body may be daemonic, but her soul is not, and there is a far deeper connection between her and Lukas than either of them will say.

Lukas decides to bring her to Bastion, the hidden underground city of the humanva, to face the judgment of the Distant Nine. On the journey, the truth is revealed: Suzanna is a meldling, a rare fusion of daemonva and humanva. Meldlings are unstable, dangerous, and prone to total madness. Suzanna may be the first to keep her sanity, but if the Distant Nine decide that she is a threat, she will also be the last.

Suzanna must accept her past, and finally learn who or what she really is, underneath her daemonic skin. Drawn into events beyond her control, the meldling will become the key to ending the war – but will it be with the destruction or the salvation of the daemonva?

And are her feelings for one human knight real?

Final Sacrifice by S.M. SchmitzFinal Sacrifice by S.M. Schmitz:
 
Lottie is determined to end the nightmare her resurrection has caused and the constant threat she and her friends face because she exists. She has organized a war against the leaders of the company that transports people from her home planet to Earth, and the time has come for her battle to begin.

In the final book of the Resurrected series, Lottie and her friends must attempt to destroy the business that has spent years trying to kill them, and now, there are thousands of people all over the world who are participating in Lottie’s insurrection. If she fails, she and her friends will lose their lives. But if she succeeds, she and her friends will finally have the freedom to live.

This is the sequel to Resurrected and Insurrected.

Bear and Fox by Hollis ShilohBear and Fox by Hollis Shiloh:

Dane is a lonely bear shifter who doesn’t know if he’ll ever find a mate. Then one day he finds himself defending a fox from a brutal wolf attack. He’s found his mate—and the fox shifter is scared of him.

Will Dane ever earn the trust of his mate, a shy, handsome, suspicious man who’s had little reason to ever trust anyone?

Contains a honey-loving bear, a sweet, suspicious fox, gay uncles, a tiny bit of shifter politics, and enough food to shake a stick at.

Heat level: very low
~32,000 words

Sasharia En Garde by Sherwood SmithShasharia En Garde by Sherwood Smith:

First published as two books — Once a Princess, and Twice a Prince — this romantic fantasy has been revised and published as one book, as first intended. It is set in the same world as Crown Duel, to which Sasha’s mother, Sun, was once swept away by a real prince.

But not to happily ever after. Her prince vanished, and a wicked king took the throne. Since then, Sasha and Sun have been hiding on Earth, both training in martial arts until Sasha is tricked into going back to Khanerenth.

She’s more than ready to kick some bad-guy butt, but is the stylish pirate Zathdar the bad guy? Or artistic, dreamy Prince Jehan, son of the wicked king?

Meanwhile Sun is determined to cross worlds to save her daughter. She might not have been a very good princess, but nobody messes with Mom!

Revelations by Ella SummersRevelations by Ella Summers:

Five tales of magic, technology, and adventure plunge deeper into the fantasy world of Sorcery and Science.

Silas sees a young Prophet girl fight off a band of elite soldiers during Silas’s Vacation.

In Solstice Games Assassin, Silas alone can stop an assassination that could catapult two empires into war.

Fireworks tells the story of Marin’s explosive plan to revolutionize airship travel.

In Agent of SIN, Selpe spy Leonidas Chase and his partner find themselves neck-deep in an investigation that could pit them against their empire’s most powerful aristocrats.

When one of Elitia’s greatest researchers goes missing, Ariella and Davin track him to a renegade camp in Portal Keys.

Revelations is Book 3.5 in the Sorcery and Science series.

Noontide Sun by Jessie ThomasNoontide Sun by Jessie Thomas:

For seven long years, Sarah has heard nothing but her betrothed’s voice against a perpetual storm.
After incurring the wrath of a spiteful Redcoat officer capable of wielding magic, Sarah was separated across centuries from Gabriel, the young man she intended to marry. While Gabriel languishes in a prison where the years pass without aging him, Sarah is trapped in a present that isn’t her own with the key that can free him.
When the key starts to disintegrate, Sarah is forced into a race against time to rescue the young man she loves before they’re both lost to the depths of waning magic.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for August 28, 2015


And here is our weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with rememberances of H.P. Lovecraft, Sasquan con reports as well as the 2015 Hugo results and analysis thereof.

Speculative fiction in general:

Awards and Hugo debate:

Writing, publishing and promotion:

Interviews:

Reviews:

Crowdfunding:

Con reports:

Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends: 





Thursday, August 27, 2015

Legend of the Jinn - The Teapot Storm by Jennifer Liu

Release date: August 14, 2015
Subgenre: Young Adult Fantasy

About Legend of the Jinn - The Teapot Storm:

 

And the Jinn break their lamps...
In the vast Arkazian Desert, stories of the magical wish-granting Jinn tantalize the sands. Awe-inspiring and life changing all hope to cross their path. All except Verity.
Verity has angered the Jinn and now their magic laces her blood in a poisonous race. Cursed, she must find the cure her grandfather has hidden in the sands. But before she can save herself, the Jinn demand she save another.
A girl for a girl, the trade must be completed
Liam and Hank are two villagers from the Smoke Stacks. Poor and ill-equipped they trick Verity into joining their rescue mission - a girl from their village has been taken. A girl they both seem to love.
As the three race across the sand, dark shadows trail close behind. The Kingdom’s greatest soldier has defected and, now with dark magic on his side, he is nearly unbeatable. And he has one mission – to stop Verity.
Time is running out
Chased from all sides, Verity is caught in a desperate struggle. The magic inside of her is addictive and seductive, but as it grows, her humanity diminishes. If she doesn’t find the cure, the Jinn will win and she will be forced to join their ranks as they stage a rebellion to overthrow the human world. 

Excerpt:

 

“Do you believe in the Jinn?” Liam asked.
Verity stilled at the abrupt change in topic. She felt her throat tighten, she hated that question. It always felt like a trick to her, one she could never answer properly. Regardless of where you were from, whether you were one of the poor from the Smoke Stacks or the rich from the Arkatress, everyone agreed on one thing. The Jinn. They were creatures of legend and magic and beloved by all. Verity, on the other hand, had been raised with very different beliefs. “Everyone knows the Jinn,” she finally answered. “They’re,” she swallowed hard, “delightful stories. Magical.” She strove for the most diplomatic answer.
Quince, who had raised her, was a very intelligent man, an academic. And like most academics, he tended to have somewhat controversial beliefs. Ones that had been taught to her before she’d learned what was socially acceptable. It wouldn’t do her any good to go against the popular opinions. And considering they were from the Smoke Stacks, well she’d rather stray on the cautious side and not offend their superstitious beliefs. They didn’t need to know how she really felt about the Jinn.
“Three wishes and a magical lamp,” she continued, nearly choking on the words as she started to babble. “Who hasn’t grown up with those stories?”
“They’re not just stories,” Hank said, turning to look at her, a serious expression on his face.
Verity swallowed hard again. Fanatics. They were Jinn chasers, obsessed with the myths. The thought turned her stomach. It made sense now, why they’d be in Dovetail. Citizens of the Arkazian Desert viewed the Jinn as the magic of the land. They were your salvation when times were tough. Magical creatures who could make any wish come true if you happen to be lucky enough to stumble upon one. 
Now Verity had been brought up knowing otherwise. She’d been raised to never chase fairy tales but she’d also long learned that her upbringing hadn’t been normal. Her beliefs weren’t the norm, so she had quickly learned to keep her mouth shut.
While most of the people who lived in the desert only dreamed of the Jinn. Of adventuring through the sands and finding the magical lamps. There were some, who took it too far, whose dreams seeped into reality. Those were the ones she’d been warned against.
And now she was trapped in the sand with two of them.
“We need to find a Jinn,” Hank was saying.
Verity fixed a smile to her face and tried to nod understandingly. All the while, slowly inched her fingers to her waist.
“A friend of ours has gotten herself into a bit of trouble and we’re looking for her.” Liam was saying as Verity’s fingers wrapped around the dagger she kept hidden by her waist.


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About Jennifer Liu:


If you asked my mother what my favorite toys were growing up, she would tell you that they were books. I've always loved reading and have an overactive imagination. Storytelling was my form of entertainment and I invented wild tales of magic and adventure whenever I had trouble sleeping.

Then, as they have an unfortunate tendency to, the fairy tales and stories faded into the background as I stumbled through an accounting degree and into a career in finance. And as I sat surrounded by dull cubicle walls, tapping number after number into a monster excel sheet, it hit me how much I missed creativity and story telling.

And so I tapped into my sleeping imagination and stretched my cramped fingers and started typing and out came The Teapot Storm.

I'm thrilled to be embarking on this journey and just want to say thank you for taking a chance on me.

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