They come from distant stars and worlds beyond our own. Strange, dangerous, fascinating – dare you face the aliens? Dare you learn their secrets?
Here Be Aliens!
Part of the Here Be – Monsters, Myth and Mayhem series. https://bundlerabbit.com/s/here-be-series
Fade to Gold – Stefon Mears
Scifi Motherlode – Robert Jeschonek
The Great Succession Crisis – Laurel A. Rockefeller
Alien Blue – DeAnna Knippling
Alien Influences – Kristine Kathryn Rusch
The Sun Doctors – Meyari McFarland
Adventurer (Star Minds Lone Wolves) – Barbara G.Tarn
Cursed Planet – Linda Maye Adams
Earth Plan – David Sloma
Chasing Chipmunks – Rebecca S. W. Bates
Author name: Michèle Laframboise
Figure 1 My first novel
What first prompted you to publish your work? The desire to right wrongs, imagine other futures. Often, a gut reaction to a very bad novel led me to create endearing characters that are not stereotypical heroes. For instance, in my Jules-Verne series, the entire narrative POW is from a very shy Martian woman with brittle bones, which gave her a peculiar voice.
How did you become involved in book bundles? Would you recommend it? Bundles allow us to discover new writers: buying for our favourite writers in the lot, then discovering new ones in the same genre. Bundles are a way to mutually enhance our reader’s platforms, doing amiable coo-petition. It is important that the bundle has a shared specific theme that will appeal to readers, and prompt them to try the authors they don’t know, because of the subject.
Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’?
Figure 2 Getting stuck in a plot loop
I had had my heavy-plotter period, outlining, erasing, outlining again, rewriting, and still getting me in a stuck in a corner!
My first novel took 12 years to complete this way. My last novel was longer, but took me about two months. Now I’m a pantser for most of my works, but I usually have a good idea of what’s cooking ahead, like when you walk in the dark with a flashlight, seeing a few steps ahead. Some times I do not even write my scenes in order. If I’m stuck, I manage to back up and find a way out.
Figure 3 Finding a way out
What does writing bring to your life? First: I love sciences. I graduated in two fields and did research. Alas, the “publish or perish” saying is true, especially for a shy woman.
Academia spat me out like an alien body.
As a “failed” scientist, I discovered I could tell stories and share my enthusiasm for sciences and nature, and also, invent other types of societies.
What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey? Do not spend months polishing a text. Perfection can never be attained. Stop worrying.
Do your best, correct a few typos or get someone to read the text over, and move on to the next story.
Beware of the tiny, high perched signing tables (yes, I fell from those!)
Figure 4 Those high tables are dangerous!
Sort these into order of importance: Awesome world-building / Great characters / Good plot
(very far after the three first)
How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at?
Figure 5 Researching for my SF novels
As an ex-scientist, I used to spend far too long researching a novel. Now I do it on the fly, because science changes fast. The specialised research I did 20 years ago for my first novel is totally outdated today. When a new publisher took up the story, I had to redo the research and make some change in the plot.
Ecological space lifts (there’s one described in my SF series)
Black holes and membranes
What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Get a copy editor, and a first reader.
What’s the worst advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? You must absolutely get an agent to get published.
Tell us about your latest piece? Ice Monarch follows a lonely cyber-butterfly as he drifts over a planet scarred by climatic changes. A former scientist transplanted into an immortal body, he serves powerful masters from former fossil energy companies. He has to live with the consequences and sacrifices of his past choices, while survivors scrape a miserable existence from the earth. He may get a chance to redeem his past mistakes. But can he? It has been prompted by my long-standing involvement in ecological sciences, and I imagined what a distant future could look like.
What’s your next writing adventure? I am writing the first in a series of steampunk-dystopian SF novels. And I am taking narrative risks, so it can go both ways. My two first readers liked it.
What is the last book you’ve read? The Murderbot Chronicles, by Martha Wells. Just for the title character’s voice!
Are indie/self published authors viewed with scepticism or wariness by readers? Why is this? There were a lot of quality issues in 2010, when electronic books were rare. Now there are millions, and the first wave of get-rich-quick hopefuls have left the field. The quality level is getting better and better, as many writers looking at bad contracts from trad-publishers choose to go indie.
Four of my publishers have gone down in the last five years. I created my own publishing company, Echofictions (dot) com, to get my backlist available for my readers, and to control the publishing process. I love to do the graphical design of my covers.
Figure 6 My table at the last Ad Astra convention in Toronto (pic by the author)
Echofictions specializes in fun and sweet (sometimes bitter-sweet!) stories in multiple genres, from short form to novel-length. Most of my stories have been previously published in pro/semi-pro magazines, so the professional editing/revision steps have been done. The quality is not in question, the challenge is getting the public to discover my brand of satiric and (generally) upbeat SF&F stories.
|AMAZON author page||https://www.amazon.com/Mich%C3%A8le-Laframboise/e/B00JFGLMPM/|
A science-fiction lover since childhood, Michèle Laframboise sprinkles coffee grounds on her tomato plants to help them achieve consciousness. Beside gardening, Michèle has published 18 novels and more than 45 short-stories, earning some reticent recognition among the literati. You may taste her fiction in magazines like Solaris, Galaxies, Fiction River, Compelling Science Fiction, Abyss&Apex.
Figure 7 A fun picture of me in a first contact situation!
(credits: Gilles Gagnon)
A face pic with my steampunk goggles!
(Credits: Sylvie-Anne Jeanson)
Michele’s story features here:
Worlds on the brink of apocalypse, or already there.
Nature’s wrath and dominion over humanity, and humanity’s folly incarnate.
Dark magic, terrifying tech, greed, ravaged environments, rare courage and grim hope in lost cities and fallen worlds.
Brave new worlds or last best hopes — Dare you glimpse the future?
Welcome to Amanda Schmidt
I have published thirteen books. I have two stories that are two books (Taken, Solace), one trilogy (The Shadow Dragon), one story that will be two books (Rise of Ansea), and the rest are all stand-alone books (Not Human, Heart of the Emperor, The Huntsman’s Daughter, Project 21, and Adventurer’s Spirit). They are all fictional adventure stories with a love story entwined. Each story has two main characters: a strong – or will become strong – female and a male that eventually is the perfect compliment to her. My published stories so far tend to take place on other worlds because I love using my imagination, although some of my stories talk about Earth, or start on Earth, but only one of them completely takes place only on Earth. I have one story (my trilogy) that is true fantasy – with dragons, swords, magic, lords, wizards… The books I publish contain the elements that I like to read: action, adventure, twists and turns, love, heroes, vicious enemies, fighting (weapons and hand to hand combat).
What prompted you to publish your work? My oldest son was about ten when he caught me writing. He was smiling from ear to ear after I confessed what I was doing and he said, “You’re going to be famous.” I didn’t believe that, I mean, I was hiding that fact that I was writing. However, his excitement dwelled in my mind and I began to consider maybe I could publish. I eventually allowed people to read my manuscript and they encouraged me to publish, which clearly I did. It only took two years for me to gain the courage to do so.
What have you found the most challenging part of the process? Finishing/not having enough time. I am constantly being bombarded with a new idea, and the ideas do not wait until I’ve completed the previous idea. So, I’m constantly changing what I’m working on. Which takes me even longer to finish a story. Plus, I don’t read as fast as I’d like, so revising takes forever and then, again, another idea pops in for something not related to this story. It’s a vicious cycle really (but I love it).
Are you a ‘pantser’ or a plotter? Definitely a pantser. I have never been able to write an outline. When I had to write papers in school, I usually did it after I finished the paper/story – or had to change the outline when I was done. When I sit down to write, the moment I begin typing, the story plays out in front of me, and not always in chronological order. For example, at least three of my books, I wrote the first chapter after I finished writing the rest of it.
What are your views on free books? I’m personally on the fence about that one. I do not think it demeans the author or his/her work. Getting your stories out there is an important part of being a writer, especially as an indie author since all marketing falls on the author. Free books seemed like a great idea when I started. I was told to make book one free and then they’ll come back for more. They didn’t, and I struggled again with the idea that maybe my stories are not “good”. One day someone said to me that they download free books all the time, and they had read very few of them. However, they did read the ones they paid for… because they paid for them. And my numbers seemed to reflect the idea that they probably weren’t that far off the mark. I’ve never had much luck with selling my ebooks for free, and getting sales off my other books, so I stopped. However, I do tend to give out my paperbacks, because I have made a few fans that way.
How do you deal with bad reviews? I always take my reviews to heart, even the bad ones. However, depending on what is said, is how I react to it. I honestly don’t expect everyone to like my stories, because I don’t like all the books I read either. A review is a person’s opinion and they’re allowed to have one. I usually take the bad review as constructive criticism, sometimes I can see their point. Like with the “Huntsman’s Daughter”, I unpublished it and am trying to find the time to tend to the issues that my “editors” and I missed. However, there have been times where the review kind of hurt, like when they attacked something about a character. I wanted to be able to defend that character against whatever it was that they were attacked for, but alas I cannot. Those are the times I make myself warm cookies, grab a glass of milk, and get back to writing. Or I talk to a friend and vent a little. The last time I did this my friend said: “writing with your heart again, I see.” I shrugged, and let that sink in. Then I realized that person didn’t understand my character’s behavior because they hadn’t experienced a similar situation to what my character was dealing with – or if they had, they dealt with it differently – and that allowed me to not be so frustrated.
Order of importance?
Great Characters – If I get attached to the characters in a book I will finish reading that book guaranteed. If the main characters don’t draw me in, I will stop reading the book. So yes, when I write, character development is huge to me.
Good Plot – If the characters and their development are great, I will be more forgiving of the plot. I will finish the story and if there’s a sequel I’ll probably read it as well. As a writer, plot isn’t something I’ve struggled with, I actually don’t think about it too much because the characters tend to write the plot for me.
Technically perfect – I’m not saying it has to be perfect, but if there’s too many technical issues – then I will stop reading it. I’ve put down a book before because there were a ton of short sentences and my brain was so fixated on the all the periods that it was not picking up any of the story. I am pretty lax on typos, and am proud of myself when I catch a homophone error, but I am not a grammatical Nazi by any means. As long as the errors are not overabundant and don’t pull me out of the world the author created, I will continue to read the story.
Awesome world-building – This is not necessary for me as a reader. I’ve come to realize there are two types of people, those with active imaginations and those who need to be told what to see. Which type am I? I’m the type who gets annoyed if there’s too much description. I have a very active and strong imagination so I don’t need pages of details to see something. Give me an idea of what you see and my brain will do the rest unless it is important to the story. Even when I take the time to read all the details an author is giving me, my brain pictures what it wants. I would much rather the words be used for moving the story along or building the character than telling me about a tree that has little if any relevance to the story. As a writer, I do draw the scenery, but I’ve had times where my friends have had to remind me that they are not in my head, so I go back and write to help them see what I see.
How is storytelling influential to our culture? I believe storytelling is very influential to our culture. It helps to inspire and motivate people, it gives people a way to escape this world for a while, it gives something for people to relate to. My older son was not a strong reader, he hated it when he was in early elementary. We introduced him to comic books and by the time he was in sixth grade he was reading above his grade level, but more importantly, it inspired him to make better choices. We had a discussion the other day, and he looks at me and says, “Mom, tragedy helps build character. It sucks, but it’s the truth. Look at Batman. His parents were killed, and that’s horrible I know, but look at who he became, look at all the good he did and people he helped. If his parents hadn’t died he would not have become that incredible man.” And if you think about Star Trek, and all those devices they used that inspired people to figure out how to create things that were similar… like cell phones. Storytelling invigorates the mind and encourages us to think differently than we did before.
What is your writing space like? My writing space is anywhere I can sit with my laptop. In the summer I like to write outside under the trees, but when it’s not nice, I’ll sit on the floor, in my bed, on the couch. I’ve sat in bleachers waiting for wrestling meets to start, in my car waiting for my kids to get done with class, at the library, at a coffee/tea shop. I’m really not too picky about my writing space because as soon as I start typing, this world falls away. Although sometimes if there’s too much talking or the TV is loud, I usually plug in headphones and I’m good.
Tell us about your latest piece.
My most recent story I’ve published is “Adventurer’s Spirit”. It takes place on another world where two different races of people exist. Alyxzandra belongs to a people who are in touch with the world they live on, and Jared’s people do not think twice about the planet. Alyxzandra and Jared meet in the woods when they are young – she was playing a game and he was hunting. They should have seen each other as enemies, but the moment they saw each other they only saw someone who didn’t deserve to die. Jared should have killed her that day, and she should have let Jared die when he is attacked by a Zurgala, but instead they keep each other alive not knowing that these two incidents would change everything. This story follows their journey of friendship as they do their best to protect each other, their sacrifices, and the impacts it has on them and the world they live on.
What’s your next writing adventure? I am always working on more than one thing, but currently I’ve been a bit obsessive over Story 20. I’m almost 150,000 words in, and the ending is almost complete. This is an adventure story taking place far from Earth. It is a story of unexpected love, betrayal, and survival.
Is there a message in your books? I don’t set out for there to be, but they do seem to fall in line with my beliefs that nature is important, that love knows no bounds, that you’re stronger than you know, that men and women are equal and a complement to each other, and survival is possible even in our lowest/darkest moments.
How important is writing to you? The only thing more important to me than writing are my kids. And they will attest to the fact that when I don’t write it affects everything about me. I become forgetful and dumb – we joke around that I can’t think straight because of the voices in my head (the story ideas are taking up too much space). Irritation and sadness tend to take over my mood more easily, and my focus goes out the window. I love writing, stopping isn’t an option. It’s my solace, my happy place, my space to challenge myself to think outside the box and become more than I thought I could be.
I graduated from Eastern Michigan University and live in Rochester, Michigan. I am a single mother of three amazing children who have helped me rediscover my love of writing. I started writing in 2009 and discovered there were many stories within me that I wanted to share. With the help of my family, friends, and fans, I have gained confidence in myself and in what I love, allowing me to live my dream to be an author who finds inspiration everywhere: my past, listening to music, in laughter, and even random moments while out hiking or practicing Tai Chi.
I discovered the hard way how important believing in yourself and your dreams is. With each story I write, I hope to take my readers into a world that will captivate their attention. I hope my stories remind you to believe in your dreams, allowing you to think outside the box and become more than you thought you could be.
Name: Nicodemus Etalo: Please, call me Nick.
1) Tell us about yourself.
Well. I have an older sister and younger brother. My parents are no longer together. I work for the Trintaty Military. I work with a team to rescue people who’ve been taken by the scum of the universe. I get aboard the ship and defeat whoever thinks they have a right to make people do things against their will, and then we get the survivors back to our ship and help them get their lives back.
2) How did you end up in the situation you’re currently in?
We had intercepted a Krutan ship to rescue those whom it was holding prisoner. When I found the Krutan, I also found a woman in a room with him. He threw her across the room, and she hit the ceiling, which subsequently fell on top of her. I rescued the woman, Zehána, and we blew up the ship. It should have been over at that point, however it was just the beginning.
3) Do you have any regrets?
No way. Zehána had endured more torture than any of the people I had helped rescue so far. That alone stands that I made the right choice.
4) Is your life now as you envisioned it? If not, then why?
Absolutely not. Twice, I had envisioned the rest of my life a certain way and neither time I was right. The first vision I had wasn’t a positive one. I was a young child, I didn’t realize I had an option of how I was supposed to live, so I thought I’d always live my life with this… broken heart so to speak. You know that heavy feeling you get when you’re not living the life you were meant for. With my mother having once been in the Trinataty military, we lived a good life, had lots of things – whatever we wanted and then some. However, I learned the hard way that we were not allowed to help others. I had researched about the Trinitaty Military when I was older, and I left home the moment I could because I did not want to live that life.
The second time was when I met Zehána. I had been serving the Military for a long time, and I had it down to a science. Find the scum of the universe, rescue the people, get them home or to base, and then on to the next ship of universal filth. It was the perfect life for me. I lived and breathed my job. However, the day I rescued Zehána everything changed. I had convinced myself it was because of the circumstances I had found her in, and then she was not treated like the other survivors. My need to protect her became above and beyond what was normal, especially for me. Nothing in my wildest dreams prepared me for what came next.
5) Do you believe in monsters?
I certainly do. Working for the Trinitaty Military, I have seen my fair share. It’s why I continue to do what I do.
6) Do you have a moral code?
Yes. I’m usually a good soldier, I do what is expected of me. Unless I feel that it isn’t the right thing to do. As I told my friend, Connor, “Sometimes you have to think for yourself, question the motives of your superior. Sometimes you have to break the rules to do the right thing.”
7) Would you die for someone you love?
That’s an easy question since death is always a possibility when you’re saving people from monsters. I wouldn’t even bat an eye.
8) Who is your greatest enemy?
Before this particular adventure, I don’t think I would have known the answer. However, the Krutan, whom Zehána calls “the beast”, has definitely showed me what a real enemy looks like. Highly intelligent, calculating, and patient.
9) Tell us about your family?
My mother disappeared after I left home, although I’ve heard rumors that she went back to work for the Trintaty Military. We are not close in any way. My father still lives on Zynast, the planet I’m from, but we don’t keep in touch. I have a younger brother who is a mediator for the Trintaty Military, whom I see from time to time, and my older sister… well, she’s been through a lot. She works at the base so I see her every time I come home.
10) How would you describe yourself?
An average guy who wants to do the right thing. I suppose you could consider me a workaholic, but honestly, I just love my job. Being able to save people who have been kidnapped from their homes, feels good. I’m a little stubborn which sometimes gets me in trouble, but I always think things through.
11) How do others see you?
I suppose it depends on who you talk to. Martin, the captain of the ship I travel on, thinks I’m a pain in the as— butt, however, he knows that I am very good at my job – which allows him to bask in the glory of a skilled team. My friend Connor gets annoyed with what he sees as my lack of respect for the rules and stubbornness, but he knows I’m an intelligent guy, trying to do good in the universe. My sister sees me as a hero, but she thinks I can be difficult at times, and maybe a bit overprotective. And Zehána, she sees me as someone she can trust, and honestly that’s good enough for me.
22) Do you think you will be successful in your quest?
I sure hope so, because Zehána’s life is in my hands. And this is one point in my life I do not want to fail.
Amanda Schmidt – Nick’s creator can be found here
For more info – check out this link – and the bundle is only available for a limited time.
Nine novels and an amazing short story collection make this a fantastic military science fiction bundle.
Plus, another bonus: Our charity, AbleGamers, helps people with disabilities enjoy the imaginary worlds of video games all year, as well as in the holidays. The organization provides one-on-one assistance to help people with a variety of disabilities join the lively interactive world of gaming, easing the social isolation that being disabled can bring.
Can’t think of a better cause to help out.
So here’s what you can do: buy the bundle for yourself or your friends who love military science fiction stories, then toss in a few bucks for AbleGamers. Helping others while getting some top science fiction reading. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Also, the holidays are coming up and you can give this as a gift.
And remember, this bundle won’t last very long. Grab this bundle today and toss in a little extra for AbleGamers. You’ll make someone’s life a little brighter, and have hours of wonderful science fiction reading going into the holidays. – Dean Wesley Smith
For StoryBundle, you decide what price you want to pay. For $5 (or more, if you’re feeling generous), you’ll get the basic bundle of four books in any ebook format—WORLDWIDE.
- Perihelion by Tami Veldura
- Battlenaut Crucible by Robert Jeschonek
- Valor by Fiction River
- Can’t Shoot Straight Gang Returns by Blaze Ward
If you pay at least the bonus price of just $15, you get all four of the regular books, plus SIX more!
- Stealing From Pirates by Stefon Mears
- Trial Under Fire – A BattleTech Novel by Loren L. Coleman
- Skirmishes: A Diving Novel by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
- Guilt in Innocence by Keith R.A. DeCandido
- Life of a Dream by Dean Wesley Smith
- Invincible by David Bruns
This bundle is available only for a limited time via http://www.storybundle.com. It allows easy reading on computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get multiple DRM-free formats (.epub and .mobi) for all books!
Welcome to a day in the life of Gustavo Bondoni
Please give us a brief outline of who you are. I’m a novelist and short story writer from Argentina… or at least that is what I am by inclination. By training, I’m an engineer with an MBA who has always worked on the commercial side (sales and marketing) of companies varying from tiny startups to massive Fortune 100 enterprises.
My passion for writing came about because I love to read. And my selection of genre came about because Asimov and Robert Asprin and Douglas Adams were the men on the racks of my local bookstore when I was twelve and began to read adult fiction. With names like that, how can one not be hooked?
As an interesting aside this was the eighties, and I still have the battered copy of Heroes in Hell I bought at Waldenbooks way back then. I assume it’s the only copy in Argentina.
You’re a writer – how is this reflected in your typical day? I’m a writer, and it basically consumes my day, even when I’m not writing. On the practical side, I’ll be obsessively checking my email for acceptances (or rejections, sadly), contracts, edits, or just about any other communication with the publishing world.
On a more interesting note, I’ll always be plotting the story or book in progress, or cooking up ideas for new ones. That doesn’t change just because I might be working on something else.
Do you have a family? What do they think of your job? Do they assist you? I have a family. My wife and I live with four children: two that are hers from another marriage and two baby daughters of our own (2 years old and one month old as I type, respectively). The older kids seem more interested in their tablets than in books, but my wife is amazingly supportive… although she does sometimes get annoyed at my habit of not even realizing that people are talking to me when I’m writing.
How do you fit in ‘real life’? What in the world is real life? Actually, I try to live a normal existence. Unless I tell them, most people can’t even tell I’m a writer. The truth is that I can fit my target wordcount (around 1500 words a day) into the slots between other tasks.
Do you have a particular process? The only process I really swear to is to write every weekday, and to try to get 1500 words in. Anything else is a bonus. Some people like to outline… I prefer to find out what my characters are going to do as they do it.
Are you very organised? I try to be. Life has a way of biting you… and also, my wife is the Mistress of Chaos…
What is your ideal working environment? My ideal working environment would be an office with a closed door. But this is sadly not possible at home… and right now, my corporate job is also home-based. But one can dream!
What do you eat for breakfast? Tea with lemon and a type of cracker that you can only buy in Argentina called cerealitas. Unlike most crackers, these actually taste good and are therefore probably bad for me.
Would you recommend your chosen craft to those interested in doing it? Wow. Loaded question. It’s very difficult to make a living from writing fiction. Anyone looking to write for that reason would likely be better served by becoming a journalist. However, I have found no satisfaction greater than receiving an email confirming that something you invented was judged good enough by an editor you’ve never met to be shared with others and paid for. That rush is indescribable. So yeah, on balance, I’d say everyone should give it a try.
Most popular novel: Siege
Title: Addict (The Cassie Tam Files #1)
Author: Matt Doyle
Genre: Lesfic, Sci-fi, Crime Noir
Main character description (short):
Born in Vancouver, Cassie Tam is the daughter of a cop and an out lesbian. Now situated in the technological haven of New Hopeland City, she plies her trade as a Private Investigator, taking on odd job cases that the police either don’t care about or won’t touch. She’s built up a good reputation over the years and tends to solve cases with a healthy mix of the three S’s: smarts, snark, and sheer stubbornness. Oh, and the odd assist from her robo-gargoyle pet, Bert. Despite her tough exterior though, Cassie is prone to keeping stuff in, and is more than capable of finding social awkwardness when faced with the unfamiliar. That combined with her compulsion to keep digging, even when she knows she shouldn’t, can often leave her biting off more than she can chew.
New Hopeland was built to be the centre of the technological age, but like everywhere else, it has its dark side. Assassins, drug dealers and crooked businessmen form a vital part of the city’s make-up, and sometimes, the police are in too deep themselves to be effective. But hey, there are always other options …
For P.I. Cassie Tam, business has been slow. So, when she’s hired to investigate the death of a local VR addict named Eddie Redwood, she thinks it’ll be easy money. All she has to do is prove that the local P.D. were right to call it an accidental overdose. The more she digs though, the more things don’t seem to sit right, and soon, Cassie finds herself knee deep in a murder investigation. To make matters worse, Cassie’s client, the deceased’s sister Lori, is a Tech Shifter – someone who uses a metal exoskeleton to roleplay as an animal. Cassie isn’t one to judge, but the Tech Shifting community has always left her a bit nervous. That wouldn’t be a problem if Lori wasn’t fast becoming the first person that she’s been genuinely attracted to since splitting with her ex.
Easy money, huh? Yeah, right.
Brief Excerpt 250 words:
I ALWAYS DID like Venetian blinds. There’s something quaint about them in a retro-tacky kinda way. Plus, they’re pretty useful for sneaking a peek out the front of the building if I feel the need. That’s something that you just can’t do with the solid, immovable metal slats that come as a standard in buildings these days. That said, a thick sheet of steel is gonna offer you a damn sight more security than thin, bendable vinyl, so I keep mine installed. Just in case.
Another round of knocking rattles the front door, louder this time than the one that woke me.
The clock says 23:47, and the unfamiliar low-end car out front screams “Don’t notice me, I’m not worth your time,” which makes for the perfect combo to stir up the paranoia that the evening’s beer and horror-film session left behind. This is my own fault. My adverts are pretty descriptive in terms of telling what I do: lost pets, cheating partners, theft, protection, retrieval of people and items, other odds and sods that the city’s finest won’t touch…I’ve got ways to deal with it all. That’s right, I’m a real odd-job gal. The one thing that I don’t put in there are business hours. The way I see it, even the missing pet cases usually leave me wandering the streets at half-past reasonable, so what’s the point in asking people to call between certain hours?
More knocking, followed this time by the squeak of my letterbox.
Why should readers buy this book (50 words max)? Described as Sam Spade meets Blade Runner, Addict throws an old-style PI into a near future world and blends sci-fi world building with noir corruption. If you want a speculative fiction title with an LGBT lead that isn’t a coming out tale or erotica, this is the book for you!
Title: Tortured Worlds: Stories of Science Fiction
Author: Caleb Peiffer
Genre: Science Fiction
Main character description (short). Leon Caval and Nedda Silvio, stars of the first short story, Across Worlds, have never met in person, but each night they meet in a dream world. Leon has led a sheltered, privileged life, and the appearance of the highly evolved, seemingly heroic Supermen aliens is exciting to him. Meanwhile, Nedda, who’s never had a loving home or relationship, is skeptical of anyone with power.
A post-apocalyptic winter, superpowered aliens, a machine that controls the planets’ movement, immortal love, and voices echoing from nowhere. These are just some of the things that torture the worlds you’ll find in these stories.
The Tortured Worlds collection features five stories of science fiction and fantasy:
Across Worlds – While the Supermen, powerful extraterrestrial visitors, try to save the world, Leon and Nedda, two star-crossed strangers who meet in their dreams, have to save their own world from destruction.
A Pyre for the World on Ice – In a post-apocalyptic world frozen by a nuclear winter, time-traveling Alex Dandes has to track down a bomber in a seemingly lifeless Tokyo.
Receding – Quelorian, Lord of Chaos, sits on the edge of the universe, waiting for it to end, desperate to undo the past mistakes that tore him and the love of his life apart.
Throne of God – In the 26th century, the Neo-Sun gives light and life to the human race, and Samson Arsovi is the newest recruit elected to pilot the machine that controls our solar system.
Voices in the Void – If reality is an illusion, and we’re all the figments of one deranged, schizophrenic imagination, then whose dream are we in?
Brief Excerpt 250 words:
Nedda Silvio dreamed about a boy. Not the way other girls dreamed, about the nebulous idea of the perfect boy, someone handsome and sexy, sweet with a dark side or dark with a sweet side, who’d treat her like a princess and always say she was beautiful and respect her for her mind too. Nedda Silvio had only ever liked one boy. The one in her dream.
They’d never met in the daytime. Only in the dreamscape. It was a beautiful place, not misty and cushioned with clouds everywhere like she’d always imagined a world of dreams, but something a little like that. Not like Earth, either, but something like that too. It had forests, like Earth, with trees that were thicker and more like clouds than Earth’s. It had mountains, but they were round like giant hills, and sometimes shaped liked spheres that looked as if they should roll but didn’t. There were cities if you looked for them, full of crowds of people who never moved and never spoke. The people were hazy and formless and they didn’t have faces.
They talked about the Supermen, sometimes. The boy thought they were heroes. They scared Nedda, but she thought they were on the humans’ side. Whether or not that was a good thing, she wasn’t sure. The boy didn’t understand how those could be different things. He asked her if she’d read the novel the Superman who called itself Artemis had written. She hadn’t. He told her the story.
Why should readers buy this book?
Tortured Worlds features five sci-fi short stories that put – if you will – tortuous twists on sci-fi cliches. I think there’s something for everyone here. But more than that, it’s my hope that these stories will inspire. Show you that, no matter how tortured your world, dragons can be slain.
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Author Website: http://calebpeiffer.com
Tell Us About Yourself
Please tell us a little about yourself. I was born on a planet much like earth, but with two moons, I live in a village called the Lost Winds. This planet is situated in another galaxy far away from the galaxy where the blue planet Earth is. However, this planet is also blue and life has existed here for billions of years. The essential celestial gasses such oxygen, hydrogen, carbon- dioxide and nitrogen have also made us much like the people of the planet earth.
Describe your appearance in 10 words or less. I look like a human, but taller and thinner than an average human girl of my age. I have curly blue long hair all the way to the waist and a leopard skin. I have three fingers on two hands and three toes on two large feet. My eyes are blue and small serrated teeth. I have an upturned nose. I don’t have eye-brows, but a narrow forehead. I wrap myself with a sarong, like piece of cloth.
Do you have a moral code? If so what is it? I am a survivor in a volatile world beset with poverty. Political upheavals have destroyed the social fabric of our village. I try what needs to be done within the parameters of my ability. I am a nondescript person of no consequence. But I’m also fiercely independent. These are the circumstances that have shaped me.
Would you kill for those you love? I have not been in that situation, so I don’t know. I am just trying to be alive. But I know that I’m no killer, but a lover.
Would you die for those you love? Probably not. I’m also selfish. I want to live and try to help others to live.
What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses? My poverty cripples me somewhat. But I am resilient and hard-working. I am also clever. I know how to survive.
Do you have any relationships you prize above others? Why? My relationship with my friend, Tahu was unique. She and I grew up together; went to the same school in our village until she left for the city. I have a special bond with her. I have strong feelings for her.
Do you like animals? Do you have any pets/animal companions? I like farm animals. Cows and goats, for instance. We sell them as prized breed, drink and sell their milk for sustenance.
Do you have a family? Tell us about them. Yes. I have a mother and a father. My brother was adopted by my parents. He was a foundling, and left to die as a toddler of three, when my father found him on the edge of the village.
Can you remember something from your childhood which influences your behaviour? How do you think it influences you? I have seen pretty horrific stuff in this short life. My experience has hardened me somewhat. I have no illusions about reality. It is a harsh place and this has made me selfish. However, I do believe it could be much worse. I still love my dear family and want to get them the best possible life I could. All this is probably reflected in my dreams but I’ve heard far worse happenings with far-fetched stories.
Do you have any phobias? Not that I know of. I am very brave.
Please give us an interesting and unusual fact about yourself. My dreaming is unusual and interesting. I have seen a whole spectrum of life go by in my dreams. I have seen desperation among my friends that has driven them out of the village in search of a safe land. This herd instinct of self-organization has been depicted. Because I also see myself knitting these stories in pink honey comb pattern. It is almost as though I am pulling their strings of fate from a long unending yarn. In Greek, it’s called moirae.
And then I also see a whole new world of happiness, free of fear and pain. This is a particularly interesting episode. It almost feels as though a surreal utopia called Shingdi, of the imagination has come about. A transformation into a transcendental reality of a metaphysical world has occurred; found only in death. However, I never wake to see the reality.
Tell Us About Your World
Please give us a little information about the world in which you live.
Two moons orbit in my planet. There is much turbulence here as the forces of two moons dominate our moods and philosophies. It is a very strange world which is almost Earth-like, yet people speak a language not spoken on Earth. There is intergalactic interactions between my planet and other planets from various galaxies. Earthlings have traveled through our space. We know about their culture, occupations, habits and customs as they know of ours. There is much exchange of culture.
Does your world have religion or other spiritual beliefs? If so do you follow one of them? Please describe (briefly) how this affects your behaviour. Yes, people have a faith in the Lost Winds called Mohammedan. But I am no follower of any faith. My folks in the village follow several faiths. Faith does not seem to influence much in the way of any moral standing on this planet. People go about their chores in life, killing, cheating, loving as usual. Faith does not seem to take much effect in the moral conduct of my people. On Draviland, there is another faith called the Jesuit faith which is predominant there.
Do you travel in the course of your adventures? If so where? Yes. I travel to the city from the village in dreams. And I also travel to faraway galaxies and countries separated by great many oceans and space.
Name and describe a food from your world. Salted fish. Wet rice. Grass tea.
Does your world have magic? If so how is it viewed in your world? Music and natural features are magical. A planet of orange soils, purple waves and black streams. Apart from it everything else is cold reality. However, the dream carries other elements from other planets in peculiar, magical blends.
What form of politics is dominant in your world? (Democracy, Theocracy, Meritocracy, Monarchy, Kakistocracy etc.) It is democratic but has a strange combination, verging almost on autocracy and theocracy. The rule of law allows for the party in power to kill the opposition or any dissenting factor in the society. And yet, they come to power through people’s votes and elections. The moment they come to power, they want to remain in power for life like anointed monarchies. People, don’t seem to matter much after that. Because, in the hands of such a ruling party, governance basically becomes self-serving and dictatorial.
Does your world have different races of people? If so do they get on with one another?Yes. Humans from planet earth can settle here. They are free to choose. The society won’t stop them.
Name a couple of myths and legends particular to your culture/people. Earthly banshies are a popular legend and myth which seeped into the culture.
What is the technology level for your world/place of residence? What item would you not be able to live without? It is not a particularly tech world. But what they would not be able to live without is the winged space ships called the buraq to transport people from one galaxy to another. However, there is pervasive use of telephones in some more advanced countries on the planet.
Does your world have any supernatural/mystical beings? Please tell us about some. The Buraq is a mythological winged animal fashioned to build our space ship. It is operated by the power of lightning. In the course of one night, Buraq could transport people across space from one galaxy to another at the speed of light.
Within your civilisation what do you think is the most important discovery/invention?The use of telephones and the space-ship.
Name three persons of influence/renown within your society and tell why they are influential (Could be someone like Christ/Mandela/Queen Elizabeth or a renowned figure from a non-human/fantasy world.) Mohammedan and Jesuit have influenced people’s religion. Buraq is a mythological non-human/fantasy which has shaped the spaceship and intergalactic travels.
Book(s) in which this character appears plus links
Nalia appears in Moirae only.
Author name: Mehreen Ahmed
Website/Blog/Author pages etc.
Moirae on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LYMIGTW
Amazon author page: https://amazon.com/author/amazon.com.mehreenahmed