Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Unblinking (The Shuttered Lands Trilogy, Book 1) by Kira Carter

Release date: September 5, 2017
Subgenre: Dystopian YA

About Unblinking

 

Everyone is watching.

Minka Stanis just wants to be left alone—impossible since the Eyes record and broadcast every moment of her day. Then a humiliating incident in the high school cafeteria makes her the laughingstock of her tower city, and life behind the glass walls becomes unbearable. When the intriguing new boy at school tells her about a place away from the gaze of the cameras, Minka plots her escape from the towers. But the Shuttered Lands are across the desert, and going there will mean leaving everything she’s ever known behind.

Fresh out of tower training, Zedd Fincher is settling into his dream job. When he gets assigned to edit Minka Stanis’s Stream footage, he spins her every misstep into a string of hit clips. As Minka’s fame grows, so do Zedd’s feelings for her. But a crisis at home brings the darker side of his work into focus. And Zedd soon learns editing other people’s lives has consequences.

As Minka is thrust unwillingly into the spotlight and Zedd’s life begins to unravel, only one thing is certain:

The Eyes are always watching.

Excerpt:

 

Mom opens the door to my room just as I begin punching my pillow in the hope of forcing my frustration out through my knuckles.
“Zedd?” she croaks.
I pause mid-thump and blink at her, only mildly irritated that she didn’t knock. “Sorry. This thing’s all lumpy.”
“I’m going back to the hospital.” She visibly takes a breath. “Do you want to come?”
A burning lump of guilt boils up in my throat and punches me in the tonsils. “I’m sorry, Mom. I think I might hold off. I barely slept last night.” My eyes dart toward the empty slack juice bottle—I meant to throw that out while she was napping.
If Mom’s eyes followed mine, she doesn’t show it. “You sure?”
Tomorrow would probably be better.” My lies thud against the wall like bullets, but Mom doesn’t let them knock her over.
“Okay, sweetie.” She raises a hand to brush the hair out of her face. “I’ve checked—there’s enough food in the fridge for you. And don’t wait up. I’ll probably sleep there again tonight.” She gives me a tired half wave and I shoot her a smile, but inside I’m cursing her for always being a mom—and myself for not being a better son.
After Mom leaves, my thrashing gets worse. I can’t sleep, and I can’t push Dad’s face out of my mind—nor the image of Mom smiling weakly when I rejected the idea of going to the hospital.
I should probably just smother myself with my pillow, but instead I launch off my bed and bring up the Scrolling Eye channel on my deskscreen. I’d rather look at other people’s lives than my own right now. Faces of Tower Lands residents flash across the screen, a never-ending mosaic of shapes and expressions. It’s impossible to know who lives in which city, but it doesn’t matter. The founding trustees designed the tower cities to be almost identical, ten strongholds of civilization. From babies to the old people living out their days at the top of Tower Ten, everyone has a Stream, and everyone spends a significant portion of their time surfing the Streams of relative strangers or watching the channels to see the latest clips—clips I help compile, clips I…manipulate.
Minka’s Stream: eating dinner with her parents. Her head bobs as she chews the pale food cubes, her chocolate eyes flashing across the silent table. Finally, she brings up the tree, rooting around in the conversation to find some shred of truth. I brush my fingers against the screen, wishing I could actually touch her and hoping she’s not setting herself up for disappointment. If she could find a way to run off to the Shuttered Lands, would she let me go with her? Would the connection I feel through her Stream hold up in the real world?
Another pang of guilt rushes through me. I can’t leave Mom and Dad behind. I can’t just desert my life and pretend this nightmare isn’t happening. Even though that’s exactly what I want to do. I bet they don’t have Sanatoriums in the Shuttered Lands or doctors that determine if your dad needs to leave his home to die in a sterile box.
On my deskscreen, Minka shrinks under her mother’s glare. I want to tell her it’s okay. Let her know I share her feeling of numbness, and the belief that something intriguing lies beyond these glass walls.


Amazon | Paperback


About Kira Carter:

Kira Carter lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she enjoys running on the beach, exploring the woods, and reading stacks and stacks of books. 
 


Friday, September 15, 2017

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for September 15, 2017


It's time again for our weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with It, Inhumans, The Orville, Outlander, Indiana Jones, tributes to Len Wein and Jerry Pournelle as well as the usual mix of awards news, writing advice, interviews, reviews, awards news, con reports, crowdfunding campaigns, science articles and free online fiction. 

Speculative fiction in general:

Comments on It:

Comments on Inhumans

Comments on The Orville

Comments on the season 3 premiere of Outlander:

Tributes to Len Wein:

Tributes to Jerry Pournelle:

Awards:

Writing, publishing and promotion:

Interviews:

Reviews:

Crowdfunding:

Con reports:

Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends: 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Tiff in Time (The Fae Killers, Book 1) by Jaxon Reed

Release date: September 12, 2017
Subgenre: Urban fantasy

About Tiff in Time:

 

In the beginning, God created people, angels, and fae. Creatures existing between the spiritual realm and the physical, fae scattered among parallel worlds spreading magic and chaos.

The Walker hunts fae, killing them, bringing them to justice. On occasion, he recruits followers. He found Tiff, an orphan, and raised her to be one of his best hunters. A skilled killer, she jumps into any timeline on any alternate, and seeks her prey.

A powerful artifact and a mysterious fae crop up in the Roaring Twenties, in Chicago. Tiff is on her way. But this time, after centuries of being hunted, the fae have other plans. . .

Excerpt:

 

The Walker strolled through a medieval seaside village. Death and destruction stretched all around. Most of the huts in the small settlement still smoked, recently destroyed by fire. All that remained smoldered in ashes and embers. The stench of burnt wood and cloth and flesh drifted through the air.
The tall, blond-haired man stepped over bodies, blood and entrails spread on the ground. Carrion circled the village, attracted to the scent of death on the wind.
He glanced at the sea, and noted Norse sails dipping below the horizon.
“Where are we, Cait?”
A female voice responded in his head.
“Northumbria circa A.D. 793, depending on the calendar. This alternate has a 98.8 percent resemblance to O-Earth.”
He nodded, and continued plodding forward, heading deeper into the destroyed village. He stopped when he heard a little girl crying.
The Walker altered course and approached the remains of a nearby home. A man and woman lay gutted on the ground near what had been the front door. Faces pale from lack of blood, their listless eyes stared into eternity.
A little girl, about two years old, sat between them crying. Her long golden hair fluttered softly in the gentle breeze, and her sparkling blue eyes were filled with tears. Her simple white dress showed dark red stains from her mother’s blood, where she had hugged the corpse.
His heart melted.
He kneeled down and pulled the girl close to his chest in a warm embrace. She buried her head in his tunic, sobbing uncontrollably.
She seemed so little, and frail.
“What’s her name, Cait?”
“Her parents named her Tyfainne. No connection to royalty. Her line will probably assume a geographic location for surname purposes.”
“Does she have any relatives nearby? Anybody who can take her in?”
“Her father’s family lives in a village nearby. But, by the standards you have programmed into me, they are not ‘good people.’”
He nodded, letting the information sink in as the little girl finally stopped crying. She shuddered, wiped her face, and looked up at him with those incredible eyes.
He gave a mental command, and the pocket on the side of his tunic filled with sugar cubes. He reached in and grabbed several, then held his hand near the girl, palm up and full of treats.
She tentatively reached out and grabbed one, looking up to see if her actions would be acceptable. He smiled at her warmly, and she popped a sugar cube in her mouth. Her eyes grew big in wonder at the taste. She grabbed the rest of them, shoving them in quickly, one by one.
“Okay, I think we’ll take this one. Leaving her here would condemn her to a miserable fate.”
The Computerized Artificial Intelligence Terminal neither agreed nor disagreed.
“Open a door, Cait. Let’s go home.”


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About Jaxon Reed:

Jaxon Reed is a science fiction and fantasy author. Amazon's digital imprint, Kindle Press, selected his book The Empathic Detective for publication through Kindle Scout. Recently the sequel, Ghostsuit, was also awarded a publishing contract through Kindle Scout. He is the author of Thieves & Wizards, an epic fantasy, and The Redwood Trilogy, a science fiction series. Jaxon is an Aggie, living in Texas on a ranch with his wife and boys, several cats, and one pound dog.
 


Monday, September 11, 2017

Mass Hysteria by Michael Patrick Hicks

Release date: August 10, 2017
Subgenre: Horror

About Mass Hysteria

 

It came from space...

Something virulent. Something evil. Something new. And it is infecting the town of Falls Breath.

Carried to Earth in a freak meteor shower, an alien virus has infected the animals. Pets and wildlife have turned rabid, attacking without warning. Dogs and cats terrorize their owners, while deer and wolves from the neighboring woods hunt in packs, stalking and killing their human prey without mercy. 

As the town comes under siege, Lauren searches for her boyfriend, while her policeman father fights to restore some semblance of order against a threat unlike anything he has seen before. The Natural Order has been upended completely, and nowhere is safe.

...and it is spreading.

Soon, the city will find itself in the grips of mass hysteria.

To survive, humanity will have to fight tooth and nail.

This edition includes a bonus short story, Consumption!

Excerpt: 

 

BUCKLEY scratched at the door, a shrill and nervous whine stuttering from his probing muzzle. His nose was flared as he sniffed at the thin gap between door and doorjamb, his nails scrabbling against the wooden trim.
“Jesus, Buck!” Melisa Delacourt said. “Calm down.”
She had raised the volume on the television three times, but the damn dog just kept getting louder and louder, determined to outmatch the flat screen’s audio. The news was reporting on last night’s meteor shower and she wanted to hear about the rock that splashed down in the lake.
“Sky watchers have been in for a real treat these last three or four nights,” the weatherman was saying. “A rare celestial event has been lighting up the skies in various parts of the world, but if you happened to be up late last night, you might have caught sight of a few shooting stars right in our own backyard. If you were asleep, though, no worries. A few of our night owls sent us these stunning videos, so let’s have a look!”
The weatherman, a stocky fella who barely looked out of his teens, was replaced with shaky cellphone footage. The first couple of seconds were dark and blurry, but after a moment, the nighttime sky lit up with a brilliant streak cutting diagonally across the screen. The meteor was a little bitty one, but still—a meteor strike! Damn near in her own backyard, too!
“Another viewer caught site of this much larger meteor,” the weatherman said, “and we’ve confirmed that it did indeed land out by the old McClellan farm.” He continued to prattle on as another motion-sickness-inducing cellphone video showed a bright speck in the sky, one that rapidly grew bigger and brighter until it exploded in a flash of blindingly white light.
The video was intense, but Melissa paid the broadcaster no mind as he talked over the looped footage. Besides which, the fucking dog was barking so goddamn loudly she could hardly even hear the report. She knew the story wouldn’t be very juicy, though – the farm, if one could even call the small caved-in house and toppled barn a farm, had been abandoned for ages. And since Melisa hardly ever went out onto the peninsula, she could care less what went on there. The lake, though, now that was exciting. Maybe one of the reporters would come by to interview her! She hoped it was that Carmichael fellow. He was tall, with a cast iron jaw and silver hair, handsome as the devil with icy blue eyes that sent a pleasant chill through her every time the camera zoomed in on him during one of his nightly reports. Melissa thought about doing her hair and make-up, just in case. If Carmichael did come out this way, she wanted to look her best.
Buckley though, he had other ideas and sounded to be in one hell of a tizzy.
Goddamnit, dog!
Slamming a rocks glass filled with tequila, she shoved off the couch and walked to the golden Lab. The dog looked at her, to the door, back at her. As she drew nearer, he began barking more urgently.
“I’m coming, I’m coming.”
Dog’s really gotta go, she thought. She’d never seen Buckley this agitated before, but brushed it off as an achingly full bladder. Poor thing waited too long, that’s all.
As she drew nearer, Buckley let out a louder bark, the fur along his spine standing on end. A low, tremulous growl shook loose from deep inside his throat, and he took a step forward, baring his teeth.
“What’s gotten into you, boy?”
This was weird behavior, but then again, Buckley was a bit of a weird dog. He’d take himself for walks. Put a leash on him and let him take hold of the loop in his teeth, and he was good to go. He’d wander all over the neighborhood, head held high and tail wagging, happy as can be. He’d also eaten an entire bag of mothballs. Only the once, and years ago at that, but she was convinced the chemicals had messed with his mind, making him even weirder. He was probably getting doggy dementia from it.
She reached the door, forcing Buckley to step back, and the growl grew deeper, louder. He barked once more, and—now growing annoyed with him—she told him to shush. He backed up, blocking the door, a rope of drool leaking from the side of his mouth.
“C’mon, you wanted out,” she said. “Move.”
Christ, he really was getting demented, she thought.
She had to lean across the dog to turn the deadbolt, but as soon as her arm was stretched out he moved fast. His jaw clamped down around her forearm, his guttural growls sending an odd vibration through her skin as he shook his head back and forth.
The teeth tore through her, bone deep, but the attack was so sudden and unexpected that the pain hadn’t even set in. Shock flooded her immediately, and she screamed, “Buckley!”
Delacourt went to take a step back, her heel slipping on the entryway throw rug, and she fell hard on her ass, her arm twisting painfully, still gripped tightly in her dog’s mouth.
Once she was down, he let go. And then, eighty-five pounds of hard muscle and golden fur dropped atop her chest, his face in hers, jaws snapping.
Her pain receptors were firing with maddening frequency as her cheek was torn away, and she smacked at the dog’s flanks, like punching a slab of beef and just as useless.
Her ears were filled with the noises of her own pain, of Buckley’s grunting and growling and snapping. She smacked at his head, hard as a brick and twice as heavy. He nipped at her face again, her nose cutting open against his teeth.
Delacourt went to deliver another smack, but Buckley was fast. His jaws took off three of her fingers before her open palm could land again.
“Get off,” she screamed, losing herself to the panic. Her feet fought for purchase beneath her, trying to push herself backward, but she was stuck under the weight of the dog, trapped between his four legs and snapping mouth.
The second she moved, his face lunged down into the meat of her throat. Teeth drove through flesh, crunching through the thick, rubbery vein and splashing crimson against his golden face. His snout burrowed deeper and when it came up, it was with a mouthful of throaty sinew.
Her fighting legs went limp, one bare foot collapsing to the floor, lifeless.
Buckley stood over her for a moment, watchful, waiting. Finally, a single, unenthusiastic wag of his tail and a small whine broke the stillness. He turned and went back to the door, clawing at the jamb and sticking his gory snout into the gap between the floor, whining again. Fighting with the door, his paws and face smeared his dead owner’s blood across the white metal finish. His nails dug grooves into the trim, peeling away paint and wood.


e-Book available at:

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Audio book available at:

Audible | iTunes


About Michael Patrick Hicks:

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novel Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist. He is also the author of the short horror story, Consumption, and his work appears in the science fiction anthology, No Way Home. He lives in Michigan and is hard at work on his next story.

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Friday, September 8, 2017

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for September 8, 2017


It's time again for our weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with Dragon Con, the Dragon Awards, yet more WorldCon 75, criticism of the "Show, don't tell" advice, the controversy surrounding a proposed all female Lord of the Flies film, Inhumans, The Shape of Water as well as the usual mix of awards news, writing advice, interviews, reviews, awards news, con reports, crowdfunding campaigns, science articles and free online fiction. 

Speculative fiction in general:

Comments on the all-female Lord of the Flies film:

Comments on Inhumans:

Comments on The Shape of Water

Awards:

Writing, publishing and promotion:

Interviews:

Reviews:

Crowdfunding:

Con reports:

Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends: