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science fiction

Boosting the Signal, Carina Press

Boosting the Signal: The Epherium Chronicles: Echoes, by T.D. Wilson

Today’s Boosting the Signal is the latest installment of The Epherium Chronicles, from fellow Carina author T.D. Wilson. Because yay, SF! T.D.’s been on Boosting the Signal before with a prior installment of this series, and now, we’re revisiting his protagonist–who has the larger goal of the safety of humanity jammed up against how he must report on the death of a friend.




EDF Dreadnaught Armstrong
High Orbit
Tau Ceti 3
Tuesday, March 11
Earth Year 2155

James Hood stared at the blank screen of his terminal. An hour had passed with him sitting at his desk, and he hadn’t typed a single word of the letter he intended. In truth, he didn’t know where to start. As a warship Captain, he had written many letters over the past several years to family of fallen crew members under his command, but this occasion was altogether different. This message of condolence was for a close friend and the circumstances of his death were shrouded in conspiracy.

Hood stood from his comfortable chair and shook his head in disgust. EDF Command had created different magnitudes of elite cover ups in the past, often to hide to the unfortunate intangibles that the public couldn’t properly digest, but this time they fabricated a façade to promote a sense of order among the rank and file. The truth behind the falsehoods was that the brass was scared. He couldn’t believe that Admiral Grant, the supreme commander of the EDF fleet, would actually go along with it. The mere reality of that fact made the pain in his heart even greater.

Turning away from the terminal, Hood walked over to the nearby viewport and stared down at the lush green planet below. He was certain many in the upper echelon of the EDF had no idea what was orchestrating the unrest back home, but after what his people experienced on the planet surface, he had a pretty good idea now. There was a horrible darkness stalking humanity, and Hood was certain that the recent events on Earth were at its direction. This new enemy’s long term goals were still unknown, but it has the power to feed on people’s fears and turn friends into bitter enemies.

The Tau Ceti star appeared on the horizon of the planet and its warm light bathed the sky below in a yellowish orange glow. Inspiration swelled within Hood. Just like the life giving power of the nearby star, his people had managed to thwart the darkness at the new colony. The thought of their victory gave him renewed hope. He didn’t have all the answers, but he had faith they would be revealed when Earth and the EDF needed them most.

Hood spun on his heel and returned to his desk. His fingers struck the letters on the digital key pad with vigor. “Victoria, it is with deep regret that I must confirm to you the news of the untimely death of your husband. Russell died doing what he always hoped he would—saving a life of a friend…”


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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: The Void, by Timothy S. Johnston

Straight-up SF is a rarity in the Carina Press catalogue, and so I’m pleased to give some signal boosting help to Timothy S. Johnston, who’s been writing the SF thriller miniseries The Tanner Sequence. Book Three of this, The Void, releases on March 30th. And his protagonist, homicide investigator Kyle Tanner, has a very clear and very urgent goal: escape.


The Void

The Void

Lt. Kyle Tanner, Homicide Section, Security Division, CCF
2403 AD

They say in our society that if you just follow the rules and shut up, everything will be fine.

No one gets hurt.

No one dies.

No one’s hauled away for days of torture, the worst part of which is watching your own family slaughtered.

Just shut up and obey.

It’s easier said than done.

You see, when abuse of power is going on all around you every single day, it can get to you. You start to fantasize about what you could do. How you could hurt them. How you could make them pay for the things they’ve done. But most important, you start to plan. What would it take to get away from them? To just … run?

The military rules the human race now. They control every aspect of our society. From art to commerce to travel. It’s the most restrictive time in the history of humanity.

The fact that I’m a lieutenant in the military doesn’t exactly make it easy for me. I try to tell myself that at least I’m doing some good. At least I’m helping people, helping families.

But they don’t really seem to care either. It’s understandable. After all, they’re in survival mode too. They just don’t want to get noticed for saying or thinking the wrong things. That would be bad.

I’m a homicide investigator. I try to set things right, to give families closure. It’s how I get some peace of mind in this life. But when civilians see me coming, wearing the jet-black uniform of the Confederate Combined Forces, it wrenches at their guts. They don’t see a savior.

They see a killer.

I want to run. I want to get out of this crazy society.

The fact that I’m an officer will help, along with the fact that on this final mission I have a way out.

“Transport this serial killer to Alpha Centauri,” my Commanding Officer had ordered me. “Take this ship — it’s a two week trip each way.”

Now they’ve given me a way to escape. My lover Shaheen wants to run too. She wants to get on that jumpship with me and just cruise into the dark loneliness of deep space. Disappear together.

But if I decide to run, I know they’ll follow.

They’ll hunt me down until I’m dead.

But I have to try.

I can’t handle this life anymore.

But I can hear them screaming in my head right now.

Run, Tanner. Run.

We’ll be right behind you.


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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Nine Planets, by Greg Byrne

And it’s a Dragonwell Press doubleheader today, as a second new Dragonwell author, Greg Byrne, is here to share a piece about his new SF novel Nine Planets. Greg’s hero, Peter Blackwell—no relation to the Blackwell family over in Jonathan Ferrara’s book, one presumes!—has a very straightforward goal. I.e., regain his lost memories, and save the world in the process.


Nine Planets

Nine Planets

Brotherhood command sled

Within twenty minutes of Boston, Blackwell checked the sled’s threat screens, looking for the traitor’s Cabal jumpship.

Most of the traffic was routine—shuttles, commercial airliners, cargo planes, military aircraft patrolling borders—but a single icon distracted him. The flight path of a green cube matched his exactly, although it trailed him by some distance. He stared at it for a few seconds with increasing suspicion—the Cabal jumpship, surely—marked it with a red circle as a possible threat, but withdrew his hand without revealing its ID. Breathing carefully, he walked around the platform, considered all the traffic from every angle.

It did no good; he only noticed the green cube. And how it eroded that small nugget of courage in his belly! He reached out his hand several times towards it. It would only take a second, he thought, to touch it and see it was nothing but an innocent plane.

Innocent indeed. He reached out his finger and touched the icon, and the data rose above it in clear shimmering letters.

Corporate jumpship. Registration: Metron Corp, Hamburg. Holiday charter.

Cabal? The jumpship ID passed all the deceptor checks down to about seven verification levels, though he still didn’t trust it. He would watch it and see.

With a cautious relief, he did a thorough check of the screens as Valentina had instructed him, mildly surprised he was still alive, that the great stub-winged sled was aloft, held there in space by powers and principles too complex for him. All indicators were green. The Poor Man status screen showed Book and Valentina still alive, though Ed’s icon had greyed. The sled hummed faintly.

Blackwell breathed out, aware for the first time of many things, even stronger than the deep memory of Moscow. His heart flexing, taking the load. His command of the situation. A clear purpose. The faint presence on the bridge of Book and Ed and Valentina, resonating softly off walls, continuing with him. The pulsing sense of obligation to make good their sacrifice.

And a secret hidden in Boston.

After a foodcell from the galley and a brief but satisfying wash and shave, he nudged the VR control into autopilot and set the sled on its final approach to the Brotherhood base in the Back Bay Fens.

The screens showed other aircraft—passenger liners, cargo planes, merchant and company jumpships—although their flight paths showed a slight change as they vectored in towards Logan International, and the jumpship followed him exactly.

So, he thought, not surprised.

Cabal. They’re following me.

At a thousand meters, with the sled in vertical descent, he unbuckled himself from the chair and leaned over the edge of the command platform to watch the ground rise up to meet him. An eight-lane freeway lay to the north, its lights both red and white, rows of dark-roofed buildings like townhouses to the south-east, and the lights of a city’s tall buildings to the east. He scanned the terrain like a minesweeper, trying to remember, though all he saw at the center of his field of vision was a dark pocket of marshy land through which a moonlit river bent like an arthritic snake.

The muddy river, freeway and city. His ninth planet pulsed faintly and, although he could not see the cobbled courtyard, and his was the only engine ascending or descending, he knew he would see everything as soon as he passed into the timeslip zone. He sat down and clicked into his PFZ, waiting for his heart to jolt.

The sled descended through five hundred meters without so much as a flutter, and he was starting to worry when, three hundred and ninety meters above the ground, his pulse jolted like a sparrow frightened.

The sled touched down with barely a shudder, its hydraulics settling. As the faint whine of the reactor slowed and deepened, he saw that the sled’s safeties—reactor, shields, navigation—were green.

But now the red threat circle of the Cabal jumpship was flashing as it grew nearer to his stationary sled, the diminishing seconds ticking down inside his head.

At one hour fifty seven and eight seconds, he stepped out of the sled into the smell of cool marsh night.


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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: In the Void, by Sheryl Nantus

Boosting the Signal continues to technically be on hiatus on the grounds that I am frantically trying to pull the last of Victory of the Hawk out of my head. HOWEVER, a few folks have asked me to run pieces for them anyway! And I said sure, as long as they could get me completed pieces without me having to make any tweaks to them.

One of those people is fellow Carina author Sheryl Nantus, who y’all may remember sent me a piece for her Carina release earlier this year, In the Black. Sheryl’s back now, because Book 2 of that same series has released! Folks, I give you In the Void. In this piece, we’ve got one of the crew of the Belle having a sneaky suspicion about the goals our next hero in the series had better be setting for himself. Take it away, Sheryl!


In the Void

In the Void

Diego! Mon ami! How’s it going…yeah, I know it’s been a while since I got in touch. Been a busy few weeks on the Bonnie Belle but I guess you heard about that. Bad business, crazy business with one of the girls getting murdered.

You got it all? Man, that’s fantastic. Your buddy was cool but I told him I’d rather deal with you direct ’cause we’re buddies. Yeah it was a bit of a lie but he was getting a bit too greedy asking for a tip and between you and me I know he gets enough of a cut. Besides, I like dealing straight-on with my suppliers.

I’ll pass on your condolences to Bianca along with the new curtains. She’s taking it hard but who can blame her? Still life goes on like the Guild wants and we’re turning and burning hard for every landfall with Captain Keller taking us in the black and keeping us safe.

Keller? She’s a damned good captain, better now that she’s gotten a bit o’fun with Marshal LeClair. I know we’re not supposed to know but he keeps coming ’round to inspect the Belle and make sure we’re all fine and ends up in the Captain’s cockpit more often than not, if you get my drift.

It’s good for her and for him and for all of us—well, maybe not Sean. He’s one of the boys, a fine medic and a sweet Irish who’s been around almost as long as Kendra. I think. You know they don’t like to talk about where they been or what they were before signing up to be a Mercy man or a Mercy woman.

He’s got a look about him like when a gear’s been worn down, the edges catching but not quite right—you get what I’m saying? I know it’s tough for everyone out here on the edge but he’s looking a bit more frayed than usual. Sometimes he gets this look and I know he’s not here on the ship and he sure as hell isn’t a Mercy man. He’s gone elsewhere and it’s got to be an awful place from the expression on his face. Then he comes on back to us and makes a joke and tries to hide from the pain.

Can’t blame him for getting tired of being out here. He’s getting older and there’s not a lot of old Mercy men. I know, I know, mature men are better lovers and all that but Sean’s getting to the point where he’s gonna have to figure out what he’s all about without the Belle.

Anyway, thanks for the supplies. I know the Dragons appreciate our business and you know I appreciate you coming out here to meet me. I’ll probably have a bigger list next time—got two cabins empty and I just know the new courtesans are gonna want to redecorate and that’s bad for me and good for you.


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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Cycling to Asylum, by Su J. Sokol

I gave y’all a heads up about this a while back, and now I’m quite pleased to present this Boosting the Signal feature on Cycling to Asylum, the new book by Su J. Sokol. It’s noteworthy to me not only because it’s queer-friendly SF/F, but also because it’s set in Quebec! Which, as I keep saying, is highly, highly relevant to my interests. Su’s character Laek has a goal of taking what began as a coping mechanism for dealing with a stark, painful childhood and turning it into a reality of justice for all.

Side note: Boosting the Signal remains on informal hiatus until I’m done with Victory of the Hawk, but Su had this piece ready for me and I wanted to go ahead and run it. More Boosting the Signal will be back in August!


Cycling to Asylum

Cycling to Asylum

The doctor says I have to stop going to New Metropolis. He said, “Laek, that thing you do…disappearing inside your mind. I knows it’s been an important survival mechanism for you, but it’s really very scary.” Then he told me that he understands. But he doesn’t. Not really.

I first created New Metropolis when I was eight years old. Living with “the Community.” Yeah, the cult. The one that lived in the dome. Where they had the weather experiments. We were cut off from the world, with no natural environment. And under the power of one powerful man.

Maybe I deserved the punishments. I was a stubborn kid. I wasn’t good at conforming. I’m just not made that way.

They called it the thinking place. An opportunity to consider the bad choices I’d made. My “decision” to isolate myself from the group. The place was a windowless cell. No one was allowed to talk to me. I don’t know when the hallucinations began. I was eight. I didn’t think to try to mark the time. Don’t know how I would have anyway. Day and night were one. The food tasteless, always the same. Even when I screamed, they still wouldn’t answer me.

One night I dreamed about New Metropolis. A place where people could live. A good place. They city would welcome me and would be filled with friends. I built New Metropolis from scratch. Named every street myself. I imagined the squares, the fountains, the parks. Things I’d seen on my mother’s screen. I imagined with my mind and my heart and when the details were clear enough, the city began to form around me.

One thing about New Metropolis, there are lots of playgrounds. Even now that I’m grown, I can still find them. When I was in the thinking place, I went to one every day, every night. I loved the swings the most. And the climbing cube. I met lots of other kids. Some were my age but most were a bit older. I liked older kids. They tried to help me. At night, we’d all sleep under the g-slides. Or in the sandbox. I could feel my friends all around me. They held me tight at night and they let me cry if I needed to.

He came on my last day in the thinking place. He, himself. The man who was everyone’s father or lover or both. I woke up and he was in the room with me. I had been so afraid of him, but when he opened his arms, I came. I clung to him shamelessly.

After they let me out, I was careful not to forget New Metropolis. I repeated the details of the place in my mind. I grew it larger, made it more real. I went back there many times. When I suffered other punishments. When the pain was too much. The city always welcomed me. Each visit taught me more about it. I carved the details into my soul.

I escaped from the Community when I was fourteen. Maybe I could have managed to do it when I was younger. I was afraid, though. Not of the world, no. Of being alone. It’s something I can’t bear. I learned that about myself. Learned it in the Thinking Place.

So what if I was still off the grid. I was in the world. The real world. I didn’t think I’d need to go back to New Metropolis. I was wrong.

I was fifteen the first time I was arrested. And still off the grid. Back then, they didn’t do the iris scan until sixteen. And I had no g-print. A gift from the Community. I wouldn’t give the cops my name. I wouldn’t betray my group. I went back to New Metropolis instead, so I could bear the beatings and…and the other things they did to me. The city kept my mind safe. My body would have to fend for itself.

Once I met Janie, I stopped needing to go to New Metropolis. She kept me safe. She and Phillip. They held me fast in the real world. In New York, my adopted city where I had a life, a family, my kids, my work as a teacher. I taught social studies—history, geography, political science. I was still an activist, but I had to keep my past a secret. I was on the grid, more or less. I even used my real biometric data. The hack my group had done to my Uni—my ID—it worked. More or less. Until that day. That day when the federal cop found me biking home from the teacher’s union meeting. I had to let him…It doesn’t matter. I wasn’t really there. I went to New Metropolis and it was intact, waiting for my return.

Here’s my secret. Not the secret about my past but the secret of my heart. I believe that New Metropolis is real. It’s why I’m still an activist. Why I was willing to bring kids into a world that has so much pain and injustice. I don’t know exactly where New Metropolis is or how to get there, but in my heart I know it could be real if only we would work hard enough to create it. It has something to do with social justice. With solidarity and working collectively. It also has something to do with borders. With annihilating them. Or just not believing in them anymore. Maybe we can step across those false borderlines. Step across them holding hands and there, right there before us, will be New Metropolis, open and waiting and beautiful, ready to give shelter to all who need it.


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Special purchase notes from the author: In Montréal, the book is available at Librarie Paragraphe Books, Librarie Drawn & Quarterly Bookstore, Argo Bookshop and Coop La Maison Verte. In New York, Cycling to Asylum can be purchased at The Community Bookstore. Libraries and bookstores can also order the book from Red Tuque Books, the distributer.

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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Lex Talionis, by R.S.A. Garcia

R.S.A. Garcia comes to me by way of Anna Kashina, who was one of the first authors I featured on Boosting the Signal. Anna is however also one of the primary movers and shakers with Dragonwell Publishing, and Lex Talionis is a new SF/mystery release from Dragonwell.

And, now that I’ve read this piece from the book’s main character’s POV, I gotta say, I’m intrigued! It’s official! And thinking I need to read this book just to see her mow down her enemies. Because after all, you don’t get much more basic or elemental a goal than revenge.


Lex Talionis

Lex Talionis

I would introduce myself, but I don’t know my name.

My life began a couple of weeks ago, when I died in the Emergency Room of the Mathis Clinic on the planet Serron. My doctor, Colin Mayfeld, was about to write his final report when a little humanoid alien broke into the room, sat on my chest and brought me back with one touch.

I don’t remember any of it.

I don’t remember being in an alley near Bradley spaceport, even though that’s where I was found, barely alive but still breathing. An unconscious girl in a bloody spacesuit, with no ID chit.

I don’t remember talking to the alien when it brought me back, but Dr. Mayfeld says I did. The funny thing is, he says I didn’t speak Universal—I spoke Latin. And I asked the alien for help.

I’ll have to take his word for it. About what I said, that is, not about speaking Latin. I know I can speak Latin because I have had the same phrase going round and round in my head since I was able to make a coherent thought.

Lex Talionis. The law of retaliation—of revenge.

That’s the other thing I know.

I want revenge.

Someone killed me. Someone beat me, tortured me, raped me and left me for dead in an alley. Someone is walking around out there thinking I’m gone and never coming back. Some bastard thinks my story is over.

Well, it’s not over.

I’m not an ordinary girl. I’m healing faster than Dr. Mayfeld expected. I’m getting better every day. It’s because I’m an N-gene. I was genetically engineered in vitro to be smarter, stronger, faster. Whoever did this to me might have over-powered me once, but they’re never going to get that chance again.

I’ve given myself a name—Lex. And I have help. The alien that saved me can’t speak, but it’s still with me. I think it knows something. I think it can help me remember.

Dr. Mayfeld is doing what he can too. He has friends who might be able to assist the Troopers as they investigate the attack on me. There are ways to work on getting my memory back. He’s going to do whatever it takes to help. I don’t know why he cares. But he does.

I only care about a few things right now. I care about remembering my past. I care about being fully healed. And I care about finding who did this to me.

Because when I do find them, I’m going to make them wish to all the Gods in all the galaxies that they had killed me right the first time.


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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Crucible, by T.D. Wilson

Meanwhile, post #2 of today’s Carina Press doubleheader on Boosting the Signal is for the SF/F lovers among you! T.D. Wilson’s second book in his Empherium Chronicles series has dropped, and with it, he offers up this piece on how one of his alien characters rises to a noble goal: opposing the destruction of new human friends and their civilization. Check it out.




Humans. They are a fascinating species whose lives are entangled in unexplainable drama and contradictions. The ones who arrived on this planet they call Cygni 4 are full of passion and the desire for adventure, often at great risk. Yet they are fragile creatures. Much like the delicate crystals fashioned for each new life in a Cilik’ti birthing, their bodies cannot sustain their structure under great physical stress.

The great invasion against the humans initiated by the Chi’tan, the leaders of the Shi Council, and their allies was a testament to how little the Shi understand humans. This one has studied much of that conflict. Human death tolls were in the multitudes beyond egregious and still they found the will to fight on. Despite the lauding of great victories by the Chi’tan, those lives were extinguished without honor. The trophies of conquest brought home to display in front of the Shi council were hollow and worthless.

The N’lan, this one’s Shi, was not a part of the conflict and stood opposed to the idea that any Shi should annihilate a species based on presumption of a threat. The human colonists on this planet knew nothing of the Shi, until Captain Hood and his ship arrived. Even after the colonists’ accidental discovery of this one’s observation cave in the canyon, this one was not feared or shunned. The colonists embraced the opportunity to study and learn. This one’s mission on this world was the same—to listen, to observe and to understand.

In the quiet darkness of the cave, this one could hear the thoughts of the colonists nearby. Through concentration, their feelings and surface thoughts became clear, especially those from Commander Jillian Howard. This one has spent much time with this female. The humans speak of a bond called friendship, a sense of mutual trust and admiration. This one has finally understood, but it has already been put to the test. This one does not blame Captain Hood. His revelation of her younger sibling’s death during the invasion of the human’s system was harsh, but she would have discovered soon anyway. This one can sense her anger and her fear. Even now, this one’s presence reminds her of his death. Her pain is strong and it echoes through this one’s body. It is odd. Cilik’ti do not share their feelings in this way. This one did not know it was possible.

It no longer matters now. The Chi’tan are coming. They will bathe this world in destruction and the humans here will be no more. It is their way. This one has done what was necessary to warn them, but there is little hope. The N’lan can stop this. They have chosen not to. Their inaction is shrouded in the same shame from years past when the Chi’tan and their allies had annihilated other species in the false search for worlds to satisfy their lust for destruction. They have lost their way.

The N’lan will not act, so this one must. This one will remain here and face what end may come. This one is not afraid to face the end of life, but this one fears for those humans—those new friends—who stand against the Chi’tan. The N’lan must be reminded of who they are. To stop the bloodshed, there is no other way.

~Kree O’ta N’lan


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