New Release – The Last Forest – Short Story

I am pleased to announce the release of my latest short story:

The Last Forest

#Darkfantasy #shortstory #nature

When humans come to fell the last forest, they are in for a surprise.
A short dark fantasy tale of the wrath of nature.
Approx 2500 words.

Universal Link

Available as an e-book in all the major e-book stores.

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Book Spotlight – The Kitchen Brigade – Laurie Boris – Dystopian Fiction/Women’s Fiction #Indiesrock

Title:  The Kitchen Brigade

Author:  Laurie Boris

Genre:  Dystopian fiction/women’s fiction

Main character description (short). Valerie is petite and pretty, with chestnut curls. But beyond that seemingly innocuous exterior, she’s resourceful and much tougher than she would have believed before her world went to hell.

Synopsis: The Kitchen Brigade is a dystopian novel set in a future America torn apart by civil war and Russian occupation.

Valerie Kipplander is a talented culinary student and daughter of the assassinated secretary of state. When the regime discovers her in a refugee camp jail, she’s forced to cook for the Russian general whose army is occupying New York.

But being part of the head chef’s kitchen brigade is only a different kind of prison. The safety that had been promised her is an illusion. The resistance wants her to join them. And one of the guards wants her dead.

She knows she has to act. To rebel against her Russian captors could prove deadly, but how long can she serve the men destroying her country?

Brief Excerpt 250 words: Valerie might have been in this house before. During her childhood, perhaps, when her father the diplomat and her mother the French heiress attended parties and teas at which Valerie was made to wear uncomfortable dresses and sit still, hands folded like sleeping doves in her lap. But as Chef took her to where she presumed she would sleep, Valerie didn’t dare ask who owned the house, or where the previous owners had gone. Since the war started she’d learned many things she would have preferred not to know.

“The general rises early,” Chef said over her shoulder. “So we rise earlier. You will learn the routine.” She paused in a corridor and rapped on a door. A woman swung it open as if waiting breathlessly for the knock.

“Yes, Ma—Chef.” She looked to be in her early twenties. Her honey-blond hair, scraped into a severe ponytail, accentuated her rounded face and long nose. She was tall, her shoulders slumped slightly forward as if she’d spent many years trying to hide her height, or the fact of her existence, but her frosty blue eyes—incongruous against her olive-toned skin—went to Chef Svetlana as if the sun and moon rose and set by her will. Then her jaw tightened as she caught sight of Valerie.

“This is Two,” Chef said to Valerie. “She’ll show you the way things work.” Then Chef Svetlana paused a moment, as if mentally sliding a few puzzle pieces into place. “You’ll answer to ‘Three’ and nothing else. It’s easier that way, and the sooner you get accustomed to that, the better.”

Why should readers buy this book (50 words max)?

It’s a fast-moving, entertaining story about what unites us even as the world divides us. It’s full of cooking—it revolves around a band of female chefs—snappy dialogue and unforgettable, broken characters seeking redemption. If you like adult dystopian stories without the apocalypse, you might enjoy The Kitchen Brigade.

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Links etc.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/laurie.boris.author/
Twitter:  @LaurieBoris
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Laurie-Boris/e/B005I551QA
Website:  http://laurieboris.com

 

 

Review – Spawn of Dyscrasia – audio – fantasy/dystopian/specfic

Spawn of Dyscrasia is the second book in the Dyscrasia world fiction – a reader doesn’t have to have read the previous book, but I think it helps. I shall be reading the others soon.

This world is dark, corrupted and filled with monsters – giant insectoids, twisted humans, bird-creatures and hybrids. Sickness has left its mark on the world, and most of the humans live in fear, ignorance or semi-enslavement to magic, monsters and dark forces.  There are, of course, good people – Helen is a curer – an artist who uses her craft to heal the strange lords, who protect the lands from the disease and dark forces. That, I think was the most fascinating aspect of this unique world. Art is power and magic. It heals and gives strength to Lysis – the skeletal necromancer lord who rules. I loved this idea – Helen’s art is her power, her salvation and, in many ways, her curse.  Helen is young, naive, afraid, confused but brave, loyal and the hero of the piece.  She has her burgeoning magic and strength of will which keeps her alive.  Helen is awesome!

The narrator for the audio is well chosen, her voice is powerful, yet easy to listen to. I was captivated.

5 stars.

I am definitely going to read the other books – I want to know more of this world, and it’s history – and listen to other audiobooks by this narrator.

Review – The Day of the Triffids – audio

The Day of the Triffids – Audible UK

I’d forgotten what a great book this is, and the radio adaptation was splendid. This post-apocalyptic tale of plants, the destruction of civilisation and the human spirit is told in a series of episodes. The cast was well-chosen – and I especially liked the lady playing Josella. There is a good deal of suspense and fear. As civilisation rapidly crumbles the hero (Masen) questions everything.

The book – although written in the 1950s this tale is also (as they so often are) a tale for today. Genetically modified plants – the titular Triffids – are bred from an assortment of other plants (and it hints not just plants) and produce oil which surpasses other types of oil. Of course, humans need this oil and merrily breed these plants – which not only are rather aggressive but also mobile. When a comet (is it a comet or something brought about by the Triffids?) brings world blindness to anyone or anything who saw the impressive light show the triffids now have the advantage. They are tough, mobile, poisonous, aggressive, can communicate and are ruthless.

As with many of the sci-fi books written around that time, there is a good deal of classic horror – expect a body-count, and the majority of humans don’t come out so well. Civilisation is only a veneer – and as soon as the comforts and safety of it disappear the fighting, the looting, the backward steps start. Our heroes have to review their moral code. Decent folks who would not, under normal circumstances steal, or cause harm, are now looting, shooting and uprooting.

There are many facets – GM crops (as we would call them today), bio-warfare, the fall of civilisation and a good deal of survival of the fittest. But of course, the human spirit, and brain will find a way to survive.

It’s a great book and a great audio rendition.
5 stars

Book Spotlight – Assassin 13 – Adult Dystopian

Title: ASSASSIN 13

Author: Tom Reppert

Genre: Adult Dystopian TimeTravel

Main character description (short): Like all badass heroines, Lauren projects sass and grit to cover past hurts. She’s trained as an elite assassin and takes pleasure in the lives she ends to better her world. Then she ends up in 1920s Hollywood, and her purpose shifts from hit jobs to caring for and protecting others, ironically, from gangsters who were idolized in her dystopian world.

Synopsis: Lauren Ramirez, an Assassin 13, which means she’s the best at her profession, is betrayed by her employer, the President of the United States, when she takes a high-rank target job to get information on her mother’s killer. While she’s attempting to escape in a space shuttle from his trap, she hurtles through a time displacement anomaly and lands in the glam of 1927 Hollywood.

 Lauren finds herself working for one of Hollywood’s top actresses, Pauline Windsor, who is dating mafia member Benny Sorrentino. He is caught up in a gangland war with the Colombini brothers for the city’s profitable bootlegging and gambling rings. Even as she clings to the revenge for her mother’s death and somehow fixing her broken shuttle to return for the information, Lauren’s relationship with the people she meets, stunt pilot Remy Garnett, Pauline, and Pauline’s children, all begin to change the hard surface of her heart.

 When Pauline’s relationship with Sorrentino draws her and her family into the gangland war, Lauren must decide whether to use her 22nd century talents and technology in their defense or abandon them to slip back into her time and get the information she needs to avenge her mother.

Brief Excerpt 250 words:
A malignant aura emanated from him that only Lauren could see. The Pelosi brothers flanked him like two cobras.

When he walks, he brings menace like the night, Matt said quoting some long forgotten future movie.

Leaning down, Sorrentino kissed Pauline quickly on the lips. “Hey, doll.”

Doll? That’s a bit cliché, isn’t it? Matt said. Is he going to stick a grapefruit in her face now?

Focused on the gangsters, she didn’t answer.

Pauline’s eyes lit up, then worry crossed her face. “Ben, are you all right?”

He waved her concern away, “Hardly more than a scratch. I’m fine.” He glanced at Lauren with raised eyebrows. A dark look came into his eyes. “I remember you, toots.”

“Ben, this is Lauren Ramirez. She manages my business affairs. She was at the dinner party.”

“Yeah, good to see you again.” Sorrentino reached for Lauren’s hand, but she kept both under the tablet. Frowning, he retracted his, and locked eyes on her. “Business manager? Then you’re just the person should be here with what I got for Pauline. Miss Ramirez, or is it Mrs.?”

“Benny the Bug,” Lauren said. “How did you get a name like that?”

He stiffened. His features grew dark.

Pauline glared at her. The room had been silently watching. Now, tension floated through like static electricity among gasoline barrels.

Lauren’s hand went theatrically to her chest in a picture of innocence. “I hope I didn’t offend you, Mr. Sorrentino. I meant no harm. Benny the Bug? That is your name, isn’t it.”

“What the hell’s with you?” His voice, low and cold, sounded like gravel being stomped.

Why should readers buy this book (50 words max)? Buy this book because it is a fun read. It is entertainment pure and simple. I write books I would want to read. It is heart-pounding, thriller action, so I’m told, with a little romance and strong emotions. I hope people will feel those when they read it.

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Author bio:

Tom Reppert is an army veteran with a BA in English and History, as well as MAs in Creative Writing and Professional Writing. He spent twelve years in Africa and Asia teaching English Literature and Composition. An award-winning author, his writing includes educational essays, short stories, and novels Past Murders, The Far Journey, and The Captured Girl. Tom lives in Sandpoint, Idaho on idyllic Lake Pend Oreille, where he is currently working on his next novel, one set both in the future and the past.

 

Author Social Media Links

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/Tom-Reppert-1506957986047973/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Repptom

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7219792.Tom_Reppert

Amazon

Amazon UK

Goodreads
Book: ASSASSIN 13
Category/ Genre: Adult Science Fiction
Teaser: Assassin 13 is a time travel thriller set in a dystopian future and 1927 Hollywood.

Lauren Ramirez, an Assassin 13, which means she’s the best at her profession, is betrayed by her employer, the President of the United States, when she takes a high-rank target job to get information on her mother’s killer. While she’s attempting to escape in a space shuttle from his trap, she hurtles through a time displacement anomaly and lands in the glam of 1927 Hollywood.

Lauren finds herself working for one of Hollywood’s top actresses, Pauline Windsor, who is dating mafia member Benny Sorrentino. He is caught up in a gangland war with the Colombini brothers for the city’s profitable bootlegging and gambling rings. Even as she clings to the revenge for her mother’s death and somehow fixing her broken shuttle to return for the information, Lauren’s relationship with the people she meets, stunt pilot Remy Garnett, Pauline, and Pauline’s children, all begin to change the hard surface of her heart.

When Pauline’s relationship with Sorrentino draws her and her family into the gangland war, Lauren must decide whether to use her 22nd-century talents and technology in their defense or abandon them to slip back into her time and get the information she needs to avenge her mother.

Click to Tweet Get your FREE copy of ASSASSIN 13 by @repptom MARCH 16! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38929567-assassin-13 #timetravel #scifi #ontheporch #hollywood #dystopian #readers Please RT!
Click to Tweet: Click to Tweet Check out reviews on @Repptom #dystopian #timetravel ASSASSIN 13 & get FREE COPY https://ctt.ec/7oJ51+ #ontheporch PLS RT

Blogs Participating in the Blog Tour (with more chances to win a free hard-copy of ASSASSIN 13!)
The Tattooed Book Geek
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Christopher Schmitz
OD Book Reviews
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Navigating Worlds
EG Moore Freelance and Fiction
Rebecca Waddell

The book will be free March 16-20
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Kirkus Review: “Characters are dynamic, especially headstrong Pauline, but Matt is a real surprise; he adds comic relief and Hollywood trivia to keep Lauren informed, even if she occasionally threatens to scrub the opinionated AI from her neurobots. The old Hollywood backdrop imbues the story with authenticity, including the name-dropping of classic film stars and the impending introduction of movie sound, a possible detriment to the current silent-era actors. Reppert wisely simplifies the time traveling, with its explanation decidedly less important than rich character development. Regardless, the oddly practical ending should appease fans of the subgenre. A striking tale flaunting a strong protagoni

Dirty Dozen and Returning Author Interview – Andrew P. Weston – Sci-Fi

#Dirtydozen #Meetanauthor #Scifi

Name: Andrew P. Weston

Please tell us about your publications.

My publications have been produced with the guidance and support of the team at Perseid Press and as you will see, I tend to favour themes with a science fiction, fantasy and paranormal bent.

The science fiction slot is filled with the IX Series, detailing the trials and tribulations of the legendary lost 9th Legion of Rome who marched into the mists of Caledonia in circa 100AD and were never seen again. Needless to say, they didn’t just disappear, and the series has grown into something of a gem.

The trilogy is comprised of the following books: The IXExordium of TearsPrelude of Sorrow. (Just released, get it while it’s piping hot!)

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The fantasy paranormal niche is nicely filled by the exploits of Satan’s Reaper, Daemon Grim. His adventures are told through a series of anthologies and full novels incorporated within Janet Morris’ critically acclaimed Heroes in Hell universe.
The novels are: Hell BoundHell Hounds – (and Hell Gate out in the Fall of 2018 – stay tuned).

The anthologies that leapfrog the novels are: Grim – Doctors in Hell, Pieces of Hate – Pirates in Hell, and later this year, Devil’s Trull – Lovers in Hell.)
If you want to stay with the flow of Daemon Grim’s evolution, it would be best to start with Doctors in Hell, and then go on to Hell Bound; Pirates in Hell, followed by Hell Hounds. Do you see? Each of the anthology pieces is a complete short story in itself, but it also adds substance to Grim’s overall adventure.

What first prompted you to publish your work?

The challenge! There’s a well-known maxim that states we all have a book inside us. But how many actually sit down and do it? How many dedicate themselves to the uphill marathon of putting all those thoughts and ideas into a coherent mass, from which you have to pick out the nuts and bolts of an organized tale that grips and entertains? I nearly gave up a good half dozen times on my first book. But I’m glad I persisted … because now I can’t seem to stop.

What have you found the most challenging part of the process?

Now I’m progressing? Being too picky. When I write the first draft and complete my running edits, I’m paranoid about not repeating the mistakes I made in my first few manuscripts of overusing certain ‘descriptive’ words or expressions.

I can’t help it. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, which makes me my own worst enemy when it comes to relaxing and letting things roll naturally. (The amount of hair pulling and fist clenching that goes on in my house would entertain the most avid WWE fan).

However, I’m addressing that particular challenge and hope to grow my hair back soon.

Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’?

I think it’s true to say I plot by the seat of my pants!

My readers will know I do plan things out rather meticulously before I start writing, especially during the world building stage. The same goes when it comes to the story arc. I like to chart the course I intend to follow so I can prepare sub-plots and mini-arcs along the way. You know, those little side-stories that keep the reader engrossed. However, I’ve learned NOT to stick rigidly to plan. Some of my best, most heartrending scenes came to me ‘mid-type.’ And when I went with those spur-of-the-moment ideas and allowed them to expand until they were interwoven into my concept…? Well, I think my stories have been enriched in every case. (Mac McDonald’s death in The IX being one such panster moment. Originally, he wasn’t destined to die, you see J ).

How influential is storytelling to our culture?

Nowhere near as influential as it should be.

I was very fortunate growing up, my mother would read to me every night before bed, and my father was always making weird and wonderful tales up with which to regale me. Whether it was written or no, I remember how I lived what I was listening to, imagining in my head what the monsters looked like, the creatures in the forests, the undersea caves full of treasure, etc. Storytelling stimulates the mind – in both the speaker and listener – and encourages a world of fantasy in ways mobile phones and iPods never will.

Which authors have influenced you the most?

Stephen Donaldson: for his use of descriptive prose. (and a darn good story-arc).

Tad Williams: for writing in a way that involves you in the most incredulous adventures as if they really could be a part of everyday life.

Neil Gaiman: Because it’s Neil Gaiman and I don’t think there’s a topic in existence he can’t turn into a weirdly, wonderful marvel that will hold you spellbound to the end.

Edgar Allen Poe: He inspired me to bear my dark soul in poetry, and damned the consequences.

What is your writing space like?

Think of what a gaily decorated and fully-laden Christmas Tree looks like after playful kittens high on catnip have been let loose on it for a while, and you won’t go far wrong.

Tell us about your latest piece?

I’m just concluding the Author’s Cut edition of Kiss of the Succubus, book 2 of the Cambion Journals. This particular series is being completed in tandem with the first Guardians trilogy. Both were debut works I completed as I broke into the business and I’m ensuring to give them the attention they deserve. I can’t wait for readers to meet these characters – especially Augustus Thorne. (You’ll see, ladies. You’ll see.)

What’s your next writing adventure?

I’m still thinking about it. Once the Author’s cut versions of the Guardian Series and Cambion Journals are out the way, I have the foundations in place for several projects: Something from the IX world – most likely a prequel; the completion of the second trilogy from the Guardians universe; new adventures within the Cambion multiverse; the further exploits of Daemon Grim; and a brand new untitled project set in a dystopian future.
I know…so much to do, so little time, and only one pair of hands!

What is the last book you’ve read?

The Artisans of Albia trilogy by Cas Peace. (It comes as one book you see…a cunning ploy) I really do recommend it. It’s great fun to read and will definitely pique your interest in the follow-ups. (I know I’ll be reading them)

Is this the age of the e-book? Are bricks and mortar bookshops in decline?

No. True readers love real books too much. The smell and atmosphere in a bookshop can’t be replaced. This subject reminds me of a wonderful little one-liner the actor Stephen Fry said to an interviewer who asked him a similar question. His reply ran along the lines of…”Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators.”

Isn’t that awesome? And it makes a powerful point, doesn’t it?
Yes, I enjoy ebooks and the ease by which you can buy them online. But buying and reading them that way will never usurp actually holding the real deal in your hands and feeling its cover, the texture of the page, the smell of the printing process and the ambience of a shop. Heaven.

Is there a message in your books?
Always. The thing is, spotting them.

Some are tongue-in-cheek. From the very beginning, I’ve sprinkled cross-references to my other works in each novel. Little phrases here and there. A name, a title, a term of endearment or address. (Here’s a good one – when The Rage of Augustus, Book 1 of the Cambion Series becomes available, see if you can spot a direct nod toward ME – Andrew P. Weston, author). I’m there if you look carefully. And no, I’m not talking about my name on the cover. J

Apart from that, I do like to include some form of real-world moral or ethical dilemma within my story arcs that helps the reader appreciate, “What if?” What would I do if I faced that predicament? Would I be as restrained? That strong? That determined? Or would I simply take the easy course and go with the flow?
Again, they are there if you look, and each of them are specific to the story arc in question.

Links:

Links to Prelude to Sorrow

Amazon UK

Amazon

Website: http://www.andrewpweston.com/

Blog: http://andrewpweston.blogspot.gr/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WestonAndrew

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andrewpaul.weston

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Bio:
Andrew P. Weston is Royal Marine and Police veteran from the UK who now lives on the beautiful Greek island of Kos with his wife, Annette, and their growing family of rescue cats.

An astronomy and criminal law graduate, he is the creator of the internationally acclaimed IX Series and Hell Bound & Hell Hounds (novels forming part of Janet Morris’ Heroes in Hell shared universe). Andrew also has the privilege of being a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the British Fantasy Society, the British Science Fiction Association and the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.

When not writing, Andrew devotes some of his spare time to assisting NASA with one of their remote research projects, and writes educational articles for Astronaut.com and Amazing Stories.

 

Book Spotlight – Prelude to Sorrow – Sci-fi

Title: Prelude to Sorrow

Author: Andrew p. Weston

Genre: Science Fiction

Main character descriptions:
Marcus Brutus. General of the 9th Legion and Field Marshal of the combined taskforce.
Samuel Pell. Captain, Royal Marines and commander of the Special Forces contingent.
Jake Rixton. Captain, U.S. Cavalry. OIC of the mounted brigade.
Gul Shaní:  Deputy Magister of the Senatum of Arden.
Psi Calen: Chief Scientific Advisor of the Senatum of Arden.
Va-ákil: Supreme Magnate of the Kresh (Horde).
Altás: Prime Catalyct – Battlemaster – of the Primus Host of the Kresh.
James Houston. Turncoat and murderer. Onetime officer-in-command of the 5th Company, 2nd Mounted Rifles. Now a Horde changeling.

Synopsis:

The task force dispatched from Arden to eradicate the Horde menace failed, and for those few left alive, the tenet by which they have survived for so long resounds as never before.

Fight or Die!

Now marooned, out of time and out of place, the survivors lick their wounds and struggle to recover while the Horde gathers their strength for a final strike that will change the course of history forever. The fate of the galaxy – and more – hangs in the balance.

But fate, it seems, isn’t done with the Ninth, and our heroes find themselves forced to mount a last-ditch attempt to end the threat once and for all.

Will the darkness be vanquished, or will our heroes’ efforts finally signal the beginning of the end of their adventure?

 

Brief Excerpt 250 words:

A deafening cry split the heavens and boomed across the savannah. He looked up and saw what could only be a huge bird in the sky, roaring a challenge that twisted the fabric of everything he held dear and caused every other living creature lurking around the watercourse—both friend and foe—to flee in mutual panic.

Instinct took over, and the entire clan stampeded back through the reeds in a mad dash toward the welcoming protection of the jungle.

The alpha risked a quick glance over his shoulder at their nemesis.

Wings as voluminous as clouds and pregnant with fulgurous discharges blotted out the sun. A monstrous beak and unbelievably large talons blazed like a furnace, searing his eyes and baking the ground where they passed.

Morbid dread froze his heart, and as he watched, the awful thing belched fire and cleaved in two. While the bulk of its mass fell on prey to the northeast, the vehemence of its thermogenic gaze continued on toward his troop, shrieking of death and retribution.

He screeched, and the tribe increased its pace.

Moments later, he could hear his family crashing into the undergrowth. He had no doubt they’d be paying scant heed to the thorns scratching at their faces or the twigs yanking out divots of hair.

Safe now?

His concerns were timely.

Thunder pealed and the ground shook. A sweltering exhalation swept by, igniting leaves, bushes, trees, and exposed fur alike.

 

Why should readers buy this book?
The story of the “Lost” 9th legion of Rome has been a matter of conjecture for centuries, as well as the subject of countless works and two major Hollywood films. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the truth of their disappearance was explained here, in all its bitter glory?

 

IXPreludeSorrowLargeAdvert - Copy

 

Links:
Website: http://www.andrewpweston.com/

Blog: http://andrewpweston.blogspot.gr/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WestonAndrew

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andrewpaul.weston

Book Links

Amazon

Amazon UK

 

Bio:
Andrew P. Weston is Royal Marine and Police veteran from the UK who now lives on the beautiful Greek island of Kos with his wife, Annette, and their growing family of rescue cats.

An astronomy and criminal law graduate, he is the creator of the internationally acclaimed IX Series and Hell Bound & Hell Hounds (novels forming part of Janet Morris’ Heroes in Hell shared universe). Andrew also has the privilege of being a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the British Fantasy Society, the British Science Fiction Association and the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.

When not writing, Andrew devotes some of his spare time to assisting NASA with one of their remote research projects, and writes educational articles for Astronaut.com and Amazing Stories.

 

Book Spotlight – Dream Dancer – Janet & Chris Morris – Scifi/Post Apocalyptic

Dream Dancer

Title: Dream Dancer

Authors: Janet and Chris Morris

Genre: Science Fiction/Post-Apocalyptic

Synopsis:

Everything you’ve seen or read till now took you only to the brink . . .

Neither pure fantasy, nor straight science fiction, nor earthbound dynastic saga, Dream Dancer is a stunning amalgam of all three. It is a family saga with the epic appeal of Dune and the action and excitement of Star Wars. It is a saga of love, power and treachery that will appeal to men and women equally; full of action, compulsively readable and quite unlike anything being published in the realms of fantasy today.

The heroine, Shebat, is a remarkable girl from Earth. She is brought to the vast empire of the Kerrion family by a renegade son; named as its future ruler on a whim of his autocratic father; abducted to the slums where the Kerrions’ slaves drug themselves with powerful mystical sorcery; and finally rescued to take part in a great rebellion. She falls in love with one brother but marries another and becomes more Kerrion than some born to the name. A magical seductress of men, passionate in her lust for power, Shebat moves among those who control the destinies of millions, for whom treachery and betrayal are as easy as murder.

Set in the timeless future on a primitive, savage Earth and on the sophisticated habitats of deep space, Dream Dancer is the first volume of a three-part saga.

Why should readers buy this book (50 words max)?

‘Neither pure fantasy, nor straight science fiction, nor earthbound dynastic saga, Dream Dancer is a stunning amalgam of all three. It is a family saga with the epic appeal of Dune and the action and excitement of Star Wars.’

Links etc.

Universal Link https://books2read.com/DreamdancerJMCM

You can learn about Janet Morris here:

Janet Morris on Wiki

Blog/Website

http://www.theperseidpress.com/

https://sacredbander.com/

Twitter

https://twitter.com/uvmchristine

https://twitter.com/uvmchristine/media

Review – 1984 #Audiobooks edition

1984 on Audible.co.uk

George Orwell – author 

Andrew Wincott – narrator

It’s been a while since I read 1984 – one of the masterpiece dystopian books of all time and I’d forgotten what an excellent, and terrifying book this is.

1984 is dark, it is not a happy-go-lucky read and the audio edition does not make easy listening. That said Andrew Wincott was the perfect narrator for this timeless story. It’s a deep, thought-provoking boo laced with a terrifying dystopian truth, and the narrator really nailed that in his reading. From the contemplative, yet naive Winston Smith to the intelligent and brutal O’Brian he roused emotion in the listener. I found myself transported to the frightening world of Winston Smith and thinking how familiar it seemed in so many ways.

Although set in a futurist 1980s (it was written in 1948), the book has a timeless air. History as the reader know is it very different. In Winston’s world Freedom is Slavery, War is Peace and Ignorance is Strength. Many terms people use regularly stem from this book – Thoughtpolice, Big Brother, Doublethink and many people argue that the surveillance in our own societies is reminiscent of Orwell’s world.

His view of crowd mentality is awfully prescient when one looks at recent events across the world. (When individuals may be harmless people, but as a group they become ‘A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledgehammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic.’)
1984 (Nineteen Eighty-Four)
Describing the “Two Minutes Hate”, Part 1, Chapter 1.

Orwell’s dark story brings us politics gone insane, the nature of freedom and slavery, thoughts about what we believe history to be, the human spirit to survive, and the human will to power. Winston Smith is, to a great extent, an Everyman; a man of middling, but not great intelligence, in a rather mundane job, unsettled in his life and questioning what is around him, but not really able to understand why things are as they are.

I’d also forgotten the ending – which I won’t spoil but it did make me want to shout ‘No!!!!’ rather loudly.

I Can’t recommend this highly enough. It’s a superb story – which everyone should experience – and a brilliant rendition.

5 Stars to the narrator.

5 stars to the author.

Read 1984 or listen to this awesome retelling – it’s worth the time and it might just broaden your outlook. Read it!

Hell Week 2017 – Day 2 – Seth Lindberg/Ernest Haeckel

 

Welcome to Day 2 of Hell Week 2017. Seth Lindberg has risked his soul (bit late for that), and joined us by the baelfire for an interview. First we meet his character Ernest Haeckel.

Pirates in Hell cover

Who are/were you?   Tell us about your life before you came here, and after.

EH: Greetings, I am Ernest Haeckel, renowned evolutionist, artist, and philosopher. You heard of my contemporary Charles Darwin, no doubt? I coined the term ecology and am famous for my beautiful drawings of lifeforms. My embryological montages unexpectedly drew anger from my fellow scientists.  They deemed I embellished too much. Yet, I stand by my depictions of embryos and the notion that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. You look confused, no doubt because  of your retarded ancestry. Just understand my hypothesis that embryos express shapes of all their lesser, ancestral forms as they develop. So before your embryo matured into human form, it appeared as a pig and even a fish.

question-1-embryos

Describe your home/environment in Hell.

EH: I find myself in Duat, a corrupted afterlife comprising ancient the Nile Delta and the Mediterranean Sea. Here the waters are corrupted by the first plague under Ramses II’s rule. Instead of water, blood flows. The once verdant banks are spoiled purple. A Vile Delta and Vile River surround me. No vegetation grows here. Fragments of cyclopean statues emerge from sandbanks like broken teeth. Inhabitants do not age here. Lingering pharaohs outlive the monuments made in their honour.

question-2-montage-sea

Why do YOU think you’re in Hell/Duat?

EH: I do not deserve to be here since I am of Homo mediterraneus race, the most advanced actually. Perhaps I must finish my census of Mediterranean life. Luckily, this coastline is overpopulated with locust nymphs and frog embryos, tadpoles and such. These Schistocerca gregaria larvae look unique to me. It may be a new species… I must draw this.

 

Hell covers all eras and technologies, there are many hells within Hell. How have you adjusted to this strange world?

EH: Thankfully, my faith in monism is affirmed. My body transcended with my soul cohered to it. Since I live again in the afterlife, I know I can return intact to the land of the living. What can enter, must be able to leave, correct? So, I do not mind visiting this strange Duat. What is crucial is that I defend my reputation and quell criticism. I am a true scientist. I do not fake my art. I can’t wait until my fellow scientists see what I have found here! I must convince them of my authenticity.

 

Who are your friends/allies here?

EH: Well, I am more interested in acquainting myself with biology than making friends, but if you mean “human allies” then there is my fellow Caucasian Howard Carter. He is the only other to wear a bow tie and fedora around here. Note, Howard is not a naturalist. He is fascinated with antiquities and material artefacts more than nature. That is why he is in hell.

 

Do you have any enemies here?

EH: Certainly the elements work against me. The vile Mediterranean Sea keeps swallowing up my documentation. How many times must I draw the lifeforms only to have the tidal waters consume my data?  Then there are those piratic warriors floating out there: the Sea Peoples. The pharaohs won’t let them on the land. They just float out there. They must be getting bored.

 

What is the WORST thing about being here?

EH: The cursed waters! I swear this Vile Delta sinks with Lemuria.

 

What is Lemuria?

EH: Man originated there. All twelve human races evolved from Lemuria, that continent adjacent to Africa and Asia. The Indian Ocean flooded it, just as Duat sinks now. With haste, we must end this interview. The Sea comes to reclaim my equipment and drawings. You distract me.

 

Before you arrived here did you actually believe in HSM and his fiery domain? Bet that was a shock!

EH: I have not seen this omniscient ‘HSM’ you speak of, but I do not expect to. There are no real gods, angels, or demons.  I have seen some pharaohs who deem themselves godlike, but they looked very human to me. Gods are just arrogant vertebrates.

 

Are you sure?

EH: Certainly. All my hypothesis are as good as theories.

 

Your future may get worse.

EH: How much worse could things get? Enough, I must chase my art again…

 

 

Author Spotlight

1) *Name and bio.

SEL: I’m Seth (S.E.) Lindberg, residing near Cincinnati, Ohio working as a microscopist by day and dark-fantasy writer by night. Two decades of practicing chemistry, combined with a passion for the Sword & Sorcery genre, spurs me to write adventure fictionalizing the alchemical humors.  As a practicing chemist and hobbyist illustrator, I’m driven to explore the weird experience of artists & scientists attempting to capture the divine. I identify with early scientists before chemistry splintered from alchemy, when Art & Science disciplines had common purpose. Take, for example, early anatomy (Medieval and Renaissance period): surgeons searched for the elements of the soul as they dissected bodies; data was largely visual, and had to be recorded by an illustrator. The technology behind paint and dyeing was developing alongside advances in medicine. Back then, the same instrumentation in apothecaries produced medicines as well as paints/inks, so the distinction between artist & scientist was obscure.

 

Tell us about your story for this edition.

SEL: Curse of the Pharaohs: In the Egyptian realm of the dead of Duat, many pharaohs wait to be judged by Anubis; yet he has been in absentia for centuries. As the piratical Sea People threaten to come ashore, the meddling duo of Howard Carter and Ernest Haeckel unearth Anubis’s Hall of Two Truths. Eleven anxious Rameses risk leaving the shoreline unprotected to chance judgement (and a chance to get out of Duat!).

 

What inspired you to use the character(s) you’ve chosen?

SEL: Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919) was a dedicated, philosophical scientist with outstanding artistic skills. He documented thousands of life forms and published his beautiful plates in “Art Forms in Nature” (translated from German: Kunstforman der Natur). But then his fascination with Art-Nature caused an uproar when he tweaked his drawings of embryos in 1874. Haeckel envisioned familiarities across the embryos of fish, salamanders, turtles, pigs, rabbits, and humans; then he represented these in an evocative table. At a time when photography was not practiced, data was art…and vice versa. Some still claim his drawings were legitimate, but in any case, his artistic embellishments stirred a controversy. His beauteous art will forever be overshadowed by a philosophy that evolved into Social Darwinism, an evil variant of Darwin’s concepts that would inspire the Holocaust.

The Mediterranean Sea is ideal setting for a hellish story. The turn of the 19th century was rich with advances in evolutionary theory, science, and even speculative fiction. Anatomists, philosophers, and scientists ruminated on how far to extrapolate Darwin’s assertions. Haeckel was certainly combing the seashore for lifeforms to draw. Nearly the same time, ~1922, Howard Carter was busy searching for humanity’s past; Carter’s meddling eventually revealed King Tut’s tomb.
The notion of having Haeckel explore the Mediterranean in his afterlife was intriguing; to make it entertaining, he was paired with the obnoxious, tomb-raiding Howard Carter.  Thankfully there was a pirate-themed tie-in available with the Sea Peoples of ancient times. In what universe other than Perseid Press’ Heroes in Hell series can an author mix such disparate people/cultures/themes together? I am thankful to have had this opportunity to explore Duat and contribute to Hell.

4) How did you become involved with this project?

SEL: An invitation followed after contributing to Heroika: Dragon Eaters, Perseid Press’s anthology of historical fiction / fantasy.  Legacy of the Great Dragon, my short story for Heroika, features the Father of Alchemy entombing his singular source of magic, the Great Dragon. According to Greek and Egyptian myth, the god Thoth (a.k.a. Hermes) was able to see into the world of the dead and pass his learnings to the living.  One of the earliest known hermetic scripts is the Divine Pymander of Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus.  Within that, a tale is told of Hermes being confronted with a vision of the otherworldly entity Pymander, who takes the shape of a “Great Dragon” to reveal divine secrets. Legacy of the Great Dragon fictionalizes this Hermetic Tradition, presenting the Great Dragon as the sun-eating Apep of Egyptian antiquity.

 

If you could pick any quote about Hell which would be your favourite?

SEL:  There is a lot to say about Hell! Readers need to be assured that it is always okay to explore it. I defer to several authors from the Doctors in Hell anthology; this death-panel drops many quotes about the series and serves as welcoming introduction to the Heroes in Hell series:  Death Panel Convenes on why it is OK to go to Hell at any time (2015).

 

What other books/short stories have you written?

SEL: I focus on alchemy-inspired, dark fantasy. Separate from submitting to Perseid Press’s Heroika: Dragon Eaters, I have relied on Sword & Sorcery as a medium to contemplate life-death-art with my Dyscrasia Fiction series. Dyscrasia literally means “a bad mixture of liquids” (it is not a fictional land).  Historically, dyscrasia referred to any imbalance of the four medicinal humors professed by the ancient Greeks to sustain life (phlegm, blood, black and yellow bile). Artisans, anatomists, and chemists of the Renaissance expressed shared interest in the humors; accordingly, the scope of humorism evolved to include aspects of the four alchemical elements (water, air, earth and fire) and psychological temperaments (phlegmatic, sanguine, melancholic and choleric). In short, the humors are mystical media of color, energy, and emotion; Dyscrasia Fiction presents them as spiritual muses for artisans, sources of magical power, and contagions of a deadly disease.  The books explore the choices humans and their gods make as this disease corrupts their souls, shared blood and creative energies.

I plan to continue Dyscrasia Fiction in parallel with submitting stories to Perseid Press, forever shaping the muses of alchemy into heroic fiction.

CURSE OF THE PHARAOHS – Excerpt

  1. E. Lindberg

We hold, with Goethe, that “matter cannot exist and be operative without spirit, nor spirit without matter.”

– Ernst Haeckel, Riddle of the Universe, 1900 CE

Howard Carter, renowned discoverer of King Tutankhamun’s tomb, strode forward, his chin high. He led the quadruped by a leather rein. The leash was connected to a muzzle with a false beard. The bushy-mustached Carter addressed the other suited man, who likewise wore a bow tie and fedora. “Hello, sir, good day. Nice to see a fellow Caucasian gentleman here.”

The white-bearded man looked up, placing his drawing implements beside his brass, monocular microscope. Tipping his hat, he said, “I am Doctor Ernst Haeckel. I confirm we are both Homo mediterraneus. And you are?”

“In need of a cigarette, Doctor. There are few simple pleasures to enjoy here.” Too prideful to extend a hand in greeting, he kept one on the leash while his other stroked his vest’s inseam. He puffed out his chest in a display of masculine power, not unlike that of an alpha gorilla prepared to defend its territory. “Pardon, I thought my identity to be self-evident. I am Howard Carter. The Howard Carter. Archeology and antiquities are my specialty.”

“Oh, that Carter. I recall you started looking for a tomb, but never found it.”

“I did locate King Tutankhamun’s tomb. Soon after your death perhaps, since the whole living world knows my name. I am sure you would remember had you been alive at the time.” He relished his memory of discovery. “Ah, tomb number KV62. And you should note, Doctor Haeckel, that it was unperturbed!”

“Splendid. What did you do to said unperturbed tomb?”

“Opened it, of course!”

Confused, Haeckel went back to sifting the blood-soaked, purple sand. He found a ruby-colored cankerworm and placed it on his microscope, then looked through the lens before it could wiggle away. Face hovering above the microscope’s ocular, he asked, “Did you preserve or destroy it?”

“Don’t be foolish. I examined the tomb’s contents, of course. Some say it released a curse, though I was immune to such superstitions. I found many artifacts.” Sold several to local dealers, he thought to himself. “I have found it difficult to perform my trade since coming to Duat.”

“What is this ‘Duat’? Is it your employer’s acronym perchance? The Department of Underworld Antiquities or something?”

Carter smiled, “No, Doctor. It’s simply the Egyptian afterlife, wherein we find ourselves. Duat was coined by the natives long before we died.” Haeckel listened while keeping his attention on the cankerworm, so Carter inquired, “Are you looking for something in particular?”

“I must finish my census of this infernal version of Mediterranean life. This coastline is overpopulated with locust nymphs and frog embryos, tadpoles and such.” Haeckel said. “These Schistocerca gregaria larvae look unique to me. It may be a new species. Do you happen to know anything about embryology or evolutionary theory?”

“I recall your scientific community does not take kindly to imagination.” Before Carter could expound on Haeckel’s controversial embryological data, long proven to be embellished with abundant artistic license, the bound quadruped suddenly began a snorting, which escalated into an awkward yelp: “Hap . . . hap . . . suuuuu!”

“Gesundheit!” Haeckel said, taking notice of Carter’s pet. The being was hunched over and wearing some erotic, black leather corselet which left its buttocks exposed. It was forced into squatting because a lengthy wooden phallus protruded from its anus, no doubt some lodged sex toy projecting out his rear like a tail. The faux beard attached to the leash’s muzzle could be mistaken as a canine snout. The apparent quadruped resembled an enslaved jackal. Tassels and buckles adorned the leather straps, indicating the device once had been worn by­­ a partner. Haeckel inquired, “A human specimen? Are you expanding your interest beyond the artificial, and into the natural?”

“Ah, so you like what I found in KV60?” The reference confused Haeckel, so Carter explained, “My catalog number for the Valley of The Kings.”

“Mister Carter, I don’t know your catalog system — nor that specimen’s identity. You are sadistic to keep a human on a leash and torture him with that stick.”

“You misunderstand. I found him in this condition, chained to sandstone walls with that phallus up his arse. Far be it from me to take something away from its proper owner.” Carter motioned to remove it, and the man whirled in a circle, avoiding him. “See? He wants to keep it.”

Haeckel said, “Is that how the Egyptians buried their kings?”

“He is no king. He is the only non-royal I found. He must have died this way, perhaps a pharaoh’s masochistic lover. He does appear grateful that I freed his tether from the tomb, however. He is strangely talented in locating hidden ruins. Before leading me here, he sniffed out several buried sites which I am anxious to investigate further. I let him lead me for a time toward Vile’s end. To you, actually. Are you certain you do not recognize him?”

“Ja whol! I am certain. Does it . . .” From his low vantage, Haeckel felt compelled to confirm the specimen’s gender and thus peered beneath its posterior. “Does he have a name?”

“Mutt . . . Mutt . . .” the quadruped interposed, the bit of its leather bridle hindering speech.

“See, Doctor Haeckel, I fear this man now thinks himself a dog. Leashed as I had found him, preferring to crawl on all fours, then identifying himself as a mutt.”

“Is that all he says?”

Mutt spat, “Hap . . . hap . . . suuuuu!”

“Bless you, dear fellow! He does sneeze a lot,” Carter declared.

“Beneath that leather costume is a man. His hair, skin, and body shape indicate he is Homo mediterraneus: of the same race as you and I. The most advanced race, actually.” Haeckel became introspective. He switched his contemplations from the microscopic wonders to the macroscopic. He looked beyond the Egyptian ushabti toward the offshore soldiers. A vast fleet of warriors lined both port and starboard sides of the bird-headed warships. Clothed in kilts and corselets, they did not look much different than the Egyptians. Many wore horned helmets or bronze headbands; all had short, curly black hair. “Who are the floating folk?”

“They are Sea Peoples. Mere pirates, according to the pharaohs. I wager they desire a home more than plunder. Stay on this side of the shield wall and you should be alright.”

“And where are these pharaohs you speak of?”

Carter pointed toward the inland ruins. “Just the Ramses type. I cannot seem to find any others. The pharaohs watch the coastline intently.”

Haeckel asked, “Why do they not take off their masks?”

“They did not pass into death as whole as we did. I found their mummies already unwrapped, with faces flayed. Some vandal had gotten to them first. I woke them all and welcomed them to Duat. Each was quick to don their ceremonial gold helms,” Carter explained. “They are stripped of identity. They rule over a dead land. No doubt, there is a curse amongst them —”

“Are the pharaohs cursed? Or are the invaders from the sea?” Haeckel pondered, “Or are we, since we share their situation?”

“All mysteries remaining to be answered, Doctor.”

“Oh, I love riddles,” Haeckel said, trying to reconcile his evolutionary beliefs with this situation. He stood between two armies of the most advanced human type, the Mediterranean race. War was constant, even in the afterlife. There was only one Delta, over which many souls contested. Perhaps all humans were cursed. A frog hopped by. Haeckel seized it, holding it up by one leg for inspection. “Lot of Batrachia here. In unprecedented numbers.”

“Ramses II’s tomb was full of them. They spread when I released his mummy from KV7.”

“This species is unique, Carter. The Royal Society will never believe what I find here without sufficient documentation. I must convince them.”

“Your scientific community is not here. Plus, there is no way out of Duat.” Carter raised an eyebrow with a hint of hope. “Unless you plan to return to life. Do you know a way?”

Haeckel yet struggled to solve the riddle of the afterlife. Duat could not be entirely closed. Bodies and souls had entered here — united in fact, so the dualists were wrong. “Certainly, all my hypothesis are as good as theories,” Haeckel affirmed aloud. “My faith in monism is reinforced here, since my body and soul remain cohered. Since I live again in the afterlife, why could I not return intact to the land of the living? What can enter, must be able to leave. Of course there is a way back.”

Musing, Carter stroked his vest. “Although we kept our souls, Doctor Haeckel, our bodies do not need to eat. We are different here. Does it not bother you, Doctor, that the orb overhead casts shadows for this frog specimen but not for you? Not for your body? Nor for mine?”

Haeckel returned his attention to the sand, noting how the frog’s silhouette hung suspended from thin air. “Heilige Scheisse!”

“Holy sheut, indeed,” Carter mistranslated Haeckel’s profanity. “Doctor, that is no ordinary sun. The hieroglyphs in the tombs explain that it is a circular window into the Lake of Fire. Shadows are cast onto earth’s living realm, not here.”

They turned their attention skyward, to gaze upon the orange-red orb. Beside them the quadruped stared and howled, “Hap . . . suuuuu!”

Carter asked, “Do you see that? Something fiery is emerging from the light.”

“It’s a bird,” Haeckel guessed, squinting.

“A plane?” surmised Carter.

Out of ear shot of the fedora-crowned men, eleven Rameses exclaimed, “Anubis’ barge! Ammit the Devourer comes!” The flight of the burning galley affirmed their shaken Egyptian faith. The pharaohs stood in salutation.

The spectacle demanded the attention of all; even their enemies looked up. The solar barge descended without oars, resting on the back of a chimera sailing atop an infernal plume. A living crocodile’s head adorned the ship’s bow, its hull propelled by a hind set of hippopotamus legs with lion legs at the fore. Ammit the Devourer emerged from the supernal fire, her nostrils flared with smoke as she exhaled plumes that fueled the ethereal, enflamed clouds on which she rode. Her maw bit at ostrich feathers that evaded her hot breath, floating as if tracking some invisible path, remaining barely out of reach — but always avoiding ignition. Ammit approached land so all could see that the galley upon her back held a woman. A lady with a conical crown stretched over the side, grasping at the ostrich feathers.

Ammit landed on the purple beach in midstride, running along its shore, each footprint blazing. She halted and stood on her hippopotamus legs, rearing so her passenger could exit. Then Ammit burrowed into the bloody sand; her bed of flames went with her as she burrowed deeper into the underworld. In her wake, a smoking cloud veiled the hedjet crowned woman.

As the smoke of her passing dissipated, the leather-clad pharaoh strutted forward and bent to pick up the ostrich feathers.

The shield wall broke formation as the ushabti dropped their weapons to prostrate before her. A female pharaoh had been sent from the Eye of Ra! The woman placed the feathers into her hedjet, transforming her headdress into a proper Osirian atef. So mesmerized, the Egyptians did not observe Teuta signal her advance.

“Hap . . . suuuuu,” Mutt howled. He bolted forward abruptly to release himself from Carter’s grip. Mutt breached the line of ushabti, and galloped alongside the shoreline. He drooled as he advanced, anxious to lick her. Hatshepsut wore a bleached-leather cat suit which contrasted her bronze skin and black hair. Ebony kohl framed her eyes, underscored with green malachite liner.

Mutt met on her on the beach. He sniffed her groin with passion. She smelled of frankincense.

“Senenmut! My lover, my vizier, my architect!” Hatshepsut stroked Senenmut’s head until he calmed. Pressing her anterior against Mutt’s posterior, she strapped on the harness and then withdrew to unsheathe the wand. She stood proudly, feet widespread, outfitted as a king. “Were you bound for a long time? How did you find me?”

 

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