Sunday, May 31, 2015

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for May 2015

Indie Speculative Fiction of the MonthIt’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 April 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, 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, paranormal romance, post-apocalyptic fiction, YA fantasy, epic fantasy, time travel romance, Steampunk, Cyberpunk, horror, werewolves, wizards, fairytale princesses, monkey queens, pearl divers, heroic thieves, dwarves in love, alien invasions, conspiracies, ghosts, lots of LGBT characters and much more.

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:

The Time Slip Girl by Elizabeth AndreThe Time Slip Girl by Elizabeth Andre

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?

The Pearl Diver by S. Elliot BrandisThe Pearl Diver by S. Elliot Brandis

I’m Elsie, from the planet Caelum.

It’s 96% ocean, but that’s okay. Out of all six planets (or seven, if you believe the myths), we’re the only people with gills. I can breathe underwater for minutes at a time, discovering the secrets of the deep-sea.

Diving is my first love.
But not everybody understands.

Each year they run a competition—a single black pearl is dropped into the ocean, and graduating students dive to find it. It sounds easy, but it’s not. The ocean is a dark and dangerous place, with caves, crevices, and flesh-eating creatures. Some years, not everybody survives.

It’s how my brother died.

My parents won’t let me compete. At times it seems like the whole island is against me. I don’t care. I will enroll, win, and gain the ultimate prize—a job diving on the head planet of the entire system. I’ll do whatever it takes. I’ll fight for a better life, out there in the stars.

I will be the Pearl Diver.
Or die trying.

The Revenant of Wrecker's Dock by Cora BuhlertThe Revenant of Wrecker’s Dock by Cora Buhlert

Strange things keep happening in the permanently fog-shrouded seaside town of Hallowind Cove, earning it the nickname “Harbour of the Weird”.

When Paul comes Hallowind Cove, after inheriting an old house from an uncle he barely knew, he doesn’t put much stock in those stories. But then he finds himself hunted by an angry zombie, who is looking to avenge a century-old crime…

A Tiding of Magpies by Robert DahlenA Tiding of Magpies by Robert Dahlen

“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.

This is book 4 of the Monkey Queen series.

81hhX7nJQ1L._SL1500_Inoculated by Scott Michael Decker

Orphaned on a muddy planet and reared by giant paramecia, Lydia observes with inoculated indifference as the nearby Gaean Empire crowns its new, ugly Empress. Suddenly, her life goes haywire. Pursued across the galaxy, she tries to discover why her fellow Homo sapiens have taken such a sudden dislike to her, and why her adoptive Paramecia are going to such lengths to protect her.
The Initiative by Bruce FottlerThe Initiative: In Harm’s Way by Bruce Fottler

Sam Maxwell hates his bland, dead-end job at a company that’s little more than a labyrinth of cubicles. Seeking a better position, the Blanchard Corporation quickly extends him a surprisingly generous job offer. But something mysterious is lurking beneath the prestigious veneer of this multi-billion dollar technology giant. After accepting the offer, Sam’s life is surreptitiously evaluated by a board of directors who are anxious to recruit candidates for their clandestine consortium. To those already part of this consortium, it’s simply known as The Initiative. To Sam, it’s the start of a perilous venture to help protect one of the most closely guarded secrets in modern history.

Lady in Blue by Kimberly G. GiarrantanoThe Lady in Blue by Kimberly G. Giarrantano

The Lady in Blue stole a car and fled Ash.
Out on Devlin Road she emerged from a crash.
She wandered the woods with her head dripping blood.
Then drowned in the river in water and mud.

All her life criminology student Liz Bloom has heard this rhyme, meant to scare young campers. When she’s about to take on her first cold case, Liz learns the eerie song is about her great aunt Lana. Liz isn’t big on studying, but she does have one advantage most criminologists don’t — she can speak to the dead.

In 1955, Lana Bloom was an eighteen-year-old beauty with Hollywood dreams who fell in love with a stranger. When Lana died in a bloody car crash, all signs pointed to the mysterious man who was never seen again.

As Lana unravels the details surrounding her last week of life, the tale she weaves for Liz is one of desire, betrayal, and murder. If Lana can’t identify her killer, not only will a murderer escape punishment, but her ghostly form will cease to exist. And Liz will have failed the most important assignment of all – family.

Twisted Cogs by Malcolm HemmingsTwisted Cogs by Malcolm Hemmings

It is the turn of the 16th Century, and the world has entered a golden age of art, invention, and architecture. This renaissance of literature and learning in Europa is suddenly thrown into overdrive when a chosen few “Stormtouched” begin displaying supernatural abilities. Torn between the age’s burgeoning love of science and the dark promises of magic, Europa has become a powder-keg of clockwork and sorcery.

Elena Lucciano doesn’t care about increasing mankind’s knowledge or exploring the mysterious workings of magic. Even though she herself is Stormtouched, Elena doesn’t have high ambitions. All she wants is for her mother to be proud of her, for her teacher to accept her, and to become one of the best artists in all of Italoza, content to ignore all thoughts of science and magic.

Unfortunately for Elena, the tides of invention and magic are sometimes not content to ignore those who ignore them…

Emergence-2500x1563-Amazon-Smashwords-Kobo-AppleEmergence by Michael Patrick Hicks

Still recovering from the events that befell her in Los Angeles, Mesa Everitt is learning how to rebuild her life.
The murder of a memorialist enclave changes all of that and sets into motion a series of violence that forces her into hiding. Hunted by a squad of corporate mercenaries, with the lives of her friends and family in danger, Mesa has no one to turn to, but she holds a dark secret inside her skull. She has no knowledge of that secret, but it is worth killing for.

The ghosts of her haunted, forgotten past are about to emerge.
The thrilling sequel to Convergence!

The Sentience Sentence by Ian JaymesThe Sentience Sentence by Ian Jaymes

What if your housemate was trying to take over the world?

Chris Kelton decides to stick it out one last summer in his college town after graduating, and takes on a housemate for few months to help with the rent. Why? He’s not sure. His new boarder, faculty at the university, wasn’t what Chris was looking for, but he takes him in anyway. Before Chris knows it, he’s helping with research, neglecting his cat, making big lifestyle changes and ignoring his friends. Even though he knows his summer guest is strange, Chris doesn’t seem to mind the mystery. Yet true intentions can only stay hidden for so long, and Chris soon discovers that his guest is not who he says he is. Has Chris inadvertently hastened the end of the world as he knows it? What will Chris do next? What can he do?

The Sentience Sentence is approximately 13,500 words in length.

Thea's Tale by Lisa ManifoldThea’s Tale by Lisa Manifold

Does true love really conquer all? The old fairy tales say yes.

Thea doesn’t believe in magic, witches, or fairy tales. They are merely stories for children. She’s not even sure about love, until she meets – again – the man of her dreams. When he tells her, “We do not see one another as we are. Love changes us, and we see one another through the eyes of love”, she’s lost. There’s no one else for her. All that remains is for him to speak to her father, and they will be able to live happily ever after.

Except Thea discovers that’s not quite how things work. Her father has his own agenda. There are handsome suitors vying for her hand. And her crown. Being next in line to the throne also means she’s got enemies. One is a powerful witch who places a curse upon her. Unfortunately, it’s doesn’t affect only Thea.
With many forces conspiring against them, the question is no longer will Thea and her love live happily ever after. It’s will they live at all?

The Sisters of the Curse series follows the twelve dancing princesses who found themselves cursed, and what happens afterwards. Thea’s Tale is the story of the eldest.

Naya's Invasion by Mia MitnsNaya’s Invasion by Mia Mitns

Falling for a human wasn’t part of the plan.
A Stand Alone Story

#29831 a.k.a. Naya is a fierce commander of the quiet alien invasion. Her tasks were minimal. Remain invisible. Direct the invasion. Reach the quota of humans. See how the other humans react.

Falling for a human wasn’t part of the plan.
Will Naya be loyal to her heart or her family?

Second story in the “Fallen Invasion” Series, following Fallen.

The Outsiders by Joe MynhardtThe Outsiders, edited by Joe Mynhardt

A Suspense Thriller / Horror featuring the gated community of Priory, with its cult leader Charles Erich and his followers, including those who want to overthrow him, and those who’ll do anything for him. Is that which they worship the true evil, or does evil reside in them?

Inside Priory awaits a lot more than meets the eye. The people might seem friendly, but only because their enigmatic leader Charles Erich accepts nothing less.

The cottages within this gated community seem simple enough, and even though what lurks beneath them is more ancient than mankind itself, can anything be more evil than the people worshipping it?

If you dare follow this UK invasion of five prime authors as they each tell their own story of the people living behind Priory’s steel gates and high walls, you’ll quickly find yourself an outsider, as well.

Featuring stories by Stephen Bacon, James Everington, Gary Fry, V.H. Leslie, and Rosanne Rabinowitz.

Nightfall by Shiriluna NottNightfall by Shiriluna Nott and SaJa H.

Gibben Nemesio thought his life was over the day he received a conscription notice demanding he train to be a soldier. When he left his home for Silver City, he never expected he’d thwart a terrible plot to murder the King and become an overnight hero—and he definitely hadn’t expected to find love in the form of a handsome mage trainee named Joel.

Three years later, Gib has fought his way from lowborn farmer to hold the coveted position as understudy to the seneschal. Despite heightening tensions between the King and High Council and the rumors of impending war still terrorizing the people of Arden, Gib finds solace in the company of his wise mentor, loyal friends, and beloved companion.

But with the arrival of an ominous message from a powerful enemy in the north, Gib quickly realizes peace is fleeting in a world where chaos lurks in every shadow, and treacherous forces—from both outside the country and within—threaten to destroy everything he holds dear.

This is book 2 in the Chronicles of Arden series, following A Call to Arms.

Forging Change by Alix NovarraForging Change by Alix Novarra

Ostracized and shunned, due to a mysterious illness that has left him in constant pain and with a limp, Elin, crown prince of the dwarven kingdom Quatnu doesn’t believe he has much of a future left.

When he’s ordered to attend a celebration for the safe return of the Diamond Warband, all he wants to do is catch a glimpse of Valodym, Captain of the warband and the dwarf he still loves. Just to make sure that Valodym has returned safely from the mission that many considered suicidal.

Valodym though? Is not the kind of dwarf who gives up so easily, especially not when there’s something worth fighting for. Like Elin, their happiness, and their future.

Jadia by Greg PippinJadia by Greg Pippin

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.

As The Ash Fell by A.J. PowersAs the Ash Fell by A.J. Powers

Life in the frozen wastelands of Texas is anything but easy, but for Clay Whitaker there is always more at stake than mere survival.

Yellowstone, along with two other Super Volcanoes, exploded with a tremendous fury following months of heightened seismic activity worldwide. The devastating eruptions released unmeasurable quantities of ash into the atmosphere. Coastlines were changed. New canyons were formed. Temperatures plummeted, dragging economies down, too. With no real way to sustain order, governments around the world began to fold, societies collapsed.

It’s been seven years since the ash rained down from the sky. Populations are thinning. Food is scarce. Despair overwhelming. Clay and his sister Megan have taken a handful of orphaned children into their home—a home soaring 16 stories into the sky. Providing for his adopted family is a 24/7 job for Clay. And with roughly six short months a year to gather enough food and supplies to last the long, brutal winter, Clay is forced to spend much of his time away from home—scavenging, hunting, and bartering.

Despite the vicious, unforgiving world he lives in, Clay has grown accustomed to his new life. That is, until he meets Kelsey Lambert.

Now, with winter rolling in earlier than ever, Clay must swiftly adapt to the changes in his life to ensure the safety of those he cares about.

The Wizard and the WoodThe Wizard and the Wood by Becca Price

“I’m dying.” Only a special kind of wizard could hear the cry that was carried by the whispery winds. Only a special kind of wizard could answer it.

He followed the cry to the Wide Wild Wood, a place that should have been filled with magic and wonder. But the dryad, the guardian of the Wide Wild Wood, was gone. Without its Guardian, The Wood had sunk into sadness. Its waters sat dark and stagnate, its creatures hid, its plants grew unhealthy. Not even a very special wizard could dispel the sadness by himself. But if the wildfolk came to his aid, he might just have a chance.

The Mages of Bennamore by Pauline M. RossThe Mages of Bennamore by Pauline M. Ross

A fragile peace. A clash of magic. A woman with secrets.

The war between Bennamore and the coastal region was over almost before it began. But the uniquely powerful mage who forged the alliance is dead, and the coastal folk are restless. Now the victors are bringing their spellcraft to the Port Holdings, unaware that the locals have their own less conspicuous magical ability.

Fen’s new job with the mages of Bennamore seems pleasant enough, but their powers threaten to expose her shady little habits. And then she can’t shake off the attentions of the flirtatious and uneducated guard, Mal. Nothing, it seems, will deter him.

The mysterious disappearance of a mage uncovers a dragon’s nest of deceit. Mal needs Fen’s help to figure it out, but she has divided loyalties and her past drags everyone into the middle of a violent conspiracy. Yet she may be the only one who can stand between the two countries, and stop them plunging back into a war which, this time, would destroy all of them.

The Sea Calls My Name by Hollis ShilohThe Sea Calls My Name by Hollis Shiloh

He lost his magic. How?

Returning to the bookstore by the sea, Daniel worries about how to tell his father that the money he saved to send his gifted son to magic school was a waste.

Daniel buries his secret under the pretense of coming home for a vacation. Then he meets Leaf Springfield, a beautiful young man who’s been systematically beaten down by his uncle.

Irresistibly drawn to one another, they learn they share more than a love for raw fish and the ocean—both have lost a mother, and their ties to the ocean may be more fantastic than they can imagine.

Passion explodes between the two. It terrifies Daniel how quickly his feelings for Leaf grow. There may be more here than meets the eye—about both of them.

My Sahil by Hollis ShilohMy Sahil by Hollis Shiloh

Grant Ralstead has loved Sahil Singh for years, working with him and being his friend but knowing all the time that the angry, fierce human is his mate.

Singh doesn’t believe in mates or love, and doesn’t trust anyone. But he worries every time Grant has to go away on a mission, endangering himself. Even though he pushes Ralstead away, his feelings about the wolf shifter are clearly complicated.

Is there any hope for a happily-ever-after between a wounded human and the wolf shifter who loves him?

A Ralstead and Singh short novella. Fits in the Shifters and Partners universe.
Relationship-centered, very low heat, some angst.
Approx. 19,000 words

911fUqS1pLL._SL1500_Thief of Pailtar by Robyn Wideman

Kiana is a thief.

But to be a thief in Pailtar you either join the Thieves’ Guild or pay them to work in the city. Kiana wants to join the Guild.

Kiana’s adventures take her to places she never dreamed of. Deadly animals, vicious monsters, and angry armies all stand between her and survival…Nobody said being a thief was easy!

Lifemaker by Dean F. WilsonLifemaker by Dean F. Wilson

The Regime is on the hunt, forcing the Resistance to take refuge aboard the Lifemaker, an advanced submarine that houses a special cargo: a handful of women who can still give birth to human children.
To evade the Regime’s own submersibles, all parties must work together, but tensions are high, and not everyone on board is looking out for the greater good.

As they descend into the deeps, they quickly learn that not all monsters work for the Regime.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for May 29, 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 as well as plenty of discussion of Mad Max: Fury Road and Tomorrowland.

Speculative fiction in general:

Tributes to Tanith Lee:


Hugo controversy:

Discussion about Mad Max: Fury Road:

Discussion about Tomorrowland: 

Writing, publishing and promotion: 




Con reports:

Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends: 


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."

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Apple

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.