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science fiction

Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Wreck of the Nebula Dream, by Veronica Scott

Veronica Scott is one of my fellow authors from the Here Be Magic crowd at Carina Press! She writes the Egyptian Gods series for Carina, but she’s also got some indie work, and this post is about one of those! Wreck of the Nebula Dream is SF adventure with a side helping of romance, and if you’re a fan of the lore of the Titanic sinking, you may well find this book to your tastes–because it draws a lot of inspiration from that. This book won awards in 2013, and got a lot of highly favorable commentary from the SFR (science fiction romance) community.

You don’t need to stretch much to figure out what her hero’s goal is in this story: save lives. Check it out!


Wreck of the Nebula Dream

Wreck of the Nebula Dream

Captain Nick Jameson, Sectors Special Forces, reporting as ordered for the interview. I don’t usually talk about that time on the Nebula Dream–I think pretty much everyone in the Sectors knows the story of how she was the newest, most luxurious spaceliner ever built, destroyed on her maiden voyage, with a huge loss of life. I happened to be the right guy, in the wrong place – what was a solder like me doing hobnobbing with the rich and high powered on such a ship, you may ask? Asked myself that, more than once on the first few days of the voyage. Usually when I was getting drunk in my cabin, trying to blot out the memories of my last disaster of a mission. If the ship’s Second Officer hadn’t given me a tour, trying to impress me with the new tech, if I hadn’t met Mara Lyrae, first on the shuttle and then again in the Casino…well, I might have opted for finishing the trip in cryo sleep and then where would we all be? Dead or worse, that’s where.

Mara’s pretty amazing. She was a Vice President for Loxton Galactic Shipping at the time, doing big business deals, wheeling and dealing across the Sectors. But the moment the ship was in trouble, she was right there, brave as any soldier I ever served with, ready to do what had to be done to save lives. I tried to get her off in a lifeboat right after the crash but she wasn’t having any of that, no, sir. Mara is stubborn. There were some kids trapped in a cabin close to hers up on the next level and she wasn’t leaving the Nebula Dream without them. We had some pretty tense moments rescuing them, let me tell you.

Couldn’t have done it without Khevan, member of the D’nvannae Brotherhood. He’s just as scary smart and strong as the legends say those guys are, with a healthy dose of spooky stuff going on between him and the Red Lady his order serves. I don’t know if she’s a goddess or an alien or what she is, but she came through when we needed her. Of course then she tried to kill poor Khevan because she was mad at him but that’s another story. Talk to him about that.

Then there was Twilka, the Socialite. I gotta say I thought Twilka was going to be dead weight for my little group. Worse than the two kids! Spoiled rich girl, totally in her own version of reality, went off looking for her jewelry when we had to risk going down into the hold to find some gear I needed. But, she did pull her weight later when events demanded she step up. I’ve got no complaints about her and if she ever needs my help, I’ll be there.

Lady Damais? I uh, I still can’t talk about her, not in any detail. What she did for me, for all of us that night on the Nebula Dream, well, there are no words. I know she was an old lady, pretty ill by all the signs, but she had more guts than many a soldier I’ve served with.

So those were the people I was directly responsible for, while we were running around the Nebula Dream that night. The AI was trying to hold her together for me, maintain air and artificial gravity levels where I needed to be. My challenges? Find my gear, call for help, keep us alive till help arrived, fight off the enemy forces that showed up, ask Mara to have dinner with me if we actually did survive…yeah, long night. Not to mention various other surprises and developments that kept getting thrown at us. If only there’d been enough lifeboats. Lot of “if only” about the wreck.

Later some reporter told me about a shipwreck in ancient times, on Old Earth, where a lot of good people didn’t make it either. The Titanic, I think? Looked it up one day, sounds like her officers and a lot of brave people did the best they could too, against overwhelming circumstances. Freezing ocean or freezing outer space, innocent men, women and children in harm’s way, too many lost.

The story for WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM, a 2013 SFR Galaxy Award and Laurel Wreath Winner:

Traveling unexpectedly aboard the luxury liner Nebula Dream on its maiden voyage across the galaxy, Sectors Special Forces Captain Nick Jameson is ready for ten relaxing days, and hoping to forget his last disastrous mission behind enemy lines. All his plans vaporize when the ship suffers a wreck of Titanic proportions. Captain and crew abandon ship, leaving the 8000 passengers stranded without enough lifeboats and drifting unarmed in enemy territory. Aided by Mara, Nick must find a way off the doomed ship for himself and other innocent people before deadly enemy forces reach them or the ship’s malfunctioning engines finish ticking down to self destruction.

But can Nick conquer the demons from his past that tell him he’ll fail these innocent people just as he failed to save his Special Forces team? Will he outpace his own doubts to win this vital race against time?


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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Angel on the Ropes, by Jill Shultz

Jill Shultz is a fellow member of the Outer Alliance mailing list I’m on, which is a mailing list for authors in support of QUILTBAG speculative fiction. Jill’s book is science fiction, all about how a trapeze artist leads a perilous double life. Will her secret–and her choices–save her planet, or ruin it?

Jill’s submission for Boosting the Signal today is an excerpt straight out of the book, which conveniently addresses the theme of character goals!


Angel on the Ropes

Angel on the Ropes

My stomach quivered as the train settled onto the station, the last stop before the circus. I cued my music and closed my eyes, mentally running through my routine again.

What if I’m not good enough?

I glanced at Elsbith, who’d chosen to be my mother against all common sense. She held my hand without talking and for once I was grateful that Seekers kept silence in their pockets, next to the tissues. A legacy of our Earth Quaker ancestry.

I took a deep breath.

I will be great.

But even if I amazed them, would they let a leopard into the troupe?

That question plagued me as we entered the tent, as I took off my makeup—a test of trust—and as I peeked through the curtains. It didn’t stop until I took my mark.

I flipped up onto the trapeze bar, then rolled backwards into a full split. Still upside down, I hooked the rope with the back of my knee, struck a gazelle-like pose, and rotated around the rope, letting the round melody flow through me. The air was warmer up here, and silkier—from the spotlight? I wanted to scoop up two delicious armfuls and never let them go.

For several moves I worked from one rope to the other, swinging from horizontal to vertical and back, feet never touching the bar. Gradually, the music tightened and I brought both feet to the trapeze, facing front. Now more instruments rushed in. My pulse kicked.

My first big move.

I tipped down into an arabesque so deep my forehead swung toward the bar. At the last second I somersaulted forward and caught the bar between my legs, then kicked out and pinwheeled around the trapeze, chest high, legs as long and straight as a ballerina’s as I spun. Around and around, not a wobble left or right. My heart surged each time my head swung down. Five more times, feet still in perfect pointe. A howl swelled in my throat. After a dozen pinwheels, I stopped. The audience clapped, the sound reverberating in my chest like a second heartbeat, speeding my own. I moved sideways on the bar, but not far enough, and had to scootch to position myself correctly. Sloppy, I thought, wincing. The next trick was cleaner, the three after that as good as I could make them, with minimal hand traffic. I slipped into a layback, turning my face to the crowd as I touched my foot to my head, flashing them a smile.

I could’ve stayed like that all day. How could it be over this soon? I jumped backwards off the trapeze and landed neatly. Chest heaving, I stepped out of the spotlight toward the front of the stage, squinting as I sought out Squirrelman Jim. Was that a nod? Sweet Light, please let it be.

There were three kids in leotards seated behind him. What were they doing there?

The training vid disappeared. Not the kids. Real. Real kids, not holos. My breath backed up in my throat. Even at this distance, they’d see I was a leopard, my white eyebrow bright as a signal flag. I felt like the dowels had been blown out of my joints, leaving one bone perched precariously on the other.

Squirrelman waved impatiently at me.

I was supposed to trust him. Completely. If I joined Cristallo, I’d have to put my life in other people’s hands.

The flying part of my audition might be over, but the leopard still had to pass.

I couldn’t move. My shoulders and neck clenched, pulsing an ache into the sockets of my jaw. Sweat chilled on my body. Part of me wanted to disappear and part wanted to fight and part wanted my mother to walk in and fix everything, the way she always did, with that magic I hoped I’d develop if I ever became a good enough Seeker.

Under the heat of three stares I started up the aisle, heart slapping. The smaller girl’s face was pinched and red. The tall girl’s face was perfect, exactly what I would have picked for myself. My right calf tensed so hard it almost charley-horsed. I’d never felt so ugly in my life.

“Freak.” The short girl’s nostril riffled.

The tall girl rolled her eyes. “Just once, Destiny—”

“Beena, let be,” said the boy.

I took a deep breath. There is Light in her, I thought. Reach it and anything is possible. I swallowed hard.

“What are you doing here?” Destiny asked me.

“Dreaming. Same like you?”

“Nothing like me.”

“That’s right,” Beena said, leaning back into a pose that was both jazzy and regal. “She’s good.”

The boy jumped to his feet and held out his hand. “Better than good. That was kushti.” His eyes sparkled. “I’m Jango.”

I shook his hand, hoping he couldn’t feel mine tremble. Jango held my hand a little longer than was polite—trying to prove he wasn’t afraid to touch a leopard?

“Got to go,” I said, tilting my head toward the coach.

When I was standing in front of him, Squirrelman said, “Well done, Amandine. And welcome to Cristallo.”

“What?” yelled Destiny. “This is some kind of joke, right? Because you’d never risk Cristallo for a—a—” She glowered at the floor. “We’re adding a freak show? That’s so lubberly. And isn’t it dangerous? What if the Plaguellants found out it was for real?”

You have nothing to fear,” he replied.

The breath trapped in my mouth turned hot and nasty. I didn’t want to cause them any trouble. I just wanted to fly.

“Destiny,” Squirrelman whispered, making her look up. “This is what circus is all about. To do more than others can even dream, you must care more—and risk more—than they dare.

“And that’s why I want you to help us create a haven.”

Haven? I frowned. I already had one, and it wasn’t what you’d think.

But nothing would stop me from flying.


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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: In the Course of Diplomacy, by Robert A. Boyd

Robert A. Boyd is a fellow member of the Northwest Writers Association, and if you like your science fiction from non-human points of view, you may well want to check him out. Though for reasons that will be obvious to anyone who’s read Faerie Blood, I did snerk at the mention of Elvis Worshippers!


In the Course of Diplomacy

In the Course of Diplomacy

In The Course Of Diplomacy
C’traBenla, rani D’enta
(Translated via the Ic’nichi Embassy, Geneva)

I am so delighted to speak again with all my dear friends there on earth, especially now that the Contact Crisis seems to be winding down, and relations are improving between d’enchia and earth. Those were some troubling times; times when war seemed all too likely, and distrust and paranoia were rampant on both sides. I don’t think any of us realized before then how traumatic First Contact could be!

Thankfully the Arbiters were able to work through the tensions and forge the beginnings of a lasting peace between our two worlds. The diplomatic effort (which I had a small part in) was fraught with problems, personal conflicts, political tensions, and—it must be said—the gyrations of some of your less stable folks such as the Anti-techs and the Elvis Worshippers. Yet through it all, through the misunderstandings and shortages and broken water mains, we managed to limp on. Our tails dragged at times, surely, but we came through.

I’m sure the Arbiters won’t approve (K’deiTai can be such a spoil-sport at times!), but I want to make an appeal to all you good folks there in the Alliance Of Nations. Diplomacy is a herd effort, and so much goes on in the background which the public never sees, but which can shape the destiny of whole civilizations. Fortunately, now that the crisis is passing, the story is starting to come out in a trilogy of recently published books, translated to human language, which tell the real saga of what went on behind the scenes; although that ‘muck-raking expose’ cheap shot is terribly unfair.

Hey, I’m not perfect. We all have our awkward moments, don’t we? And it doesn’t help that the cultural differences between our two races can be so confusing at times. Why make such a fuss over that fire at the Defense Ministry, I ask you? And why all the fuss over that little misunderstanding which almost led to the embassy being evacuated, or the time I blackmailed the Chancellor…but I suppose I shouldn’t talk about that even now.

The point is, even if I am impulsive and hot-tempered (as some unkind souls would tell you) I have the best intentions in all the Universe. And a lot of what happened wasn’t my fault. Can I be blamed for the entire fleet being put out of commission when I went into labor? I mean, really!

No matter. What I’m trying to say is that the real story of our diplomatic effort with you humans remains largely untold, and this new trilogy will go a long way to improving understanding all around, and thus improving relations between d’enchia and earth. I hope all you good people who cherish peaceful interstellar relations will look into them.

In The Course Of Diplomacy (Part 1)
Diplomacy’s Stepchild: The Dreamsingers’ War (Part 2)
Diplomacy’s End: The d’enchia Incident (Part 3)

You can find them through our human distributor:

The Written Wyrd
Or through
Or at Norwescon and Orycon

Thank you all for your time and interest. Well, I have to go now. I’eiBida will be home soon, and I just know he’ll be upset when I tell him about my latest misadventure!



Buy the Book: The Written Wyrd | Amazon

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Join Kowal and Scalzi’s Insect Army!

Because this, right up with Dara’s I’m going to sue the Internet for LIBEL!, is pretty much THE BEST ANSWER to the entire explosion going around the SF genre for the last several days.

I have called dibs on the “light brown apple moth”, Epiphyas postvittana, described by Wikipedia as “a highly polyphagous pest”. Because hey, I like all kinds of food! And if I get to be a pest, all the better!

Meanwhile whoa, SF Signal linked to me by way of linking to the excerpt from the Daily Dot that included my earlier link. So if you’re coming over from SF Signal, hi there. All of my posts on the current matter can be found under the tag “petitiongate”.

I’ll update this post today with further items of note as I see them!

ETA: And speaking of those items of note…

Popehat, regarding the threat to sue the Internet for libel, basically says “AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA no”.

Mark Tiedemann has very good commentary over here. That post was actually written last year, during last year’s SFWA explosion, but it’s still timely and pertinent since this one’s related to last year’s too. Tiedemann writes about how he didn’t get it at first–where “it” is what all of the people upset during last year’s explosion were upset about–and then he did.

Ann Aguirre is right up front about why she doesn’t miss SFWA in the slightest, for pretty much all of the reasons that have been voiced already.

Book Log

Books and readings and signings FTW!

So I went to Third Place Books tonight for a reading and signing by the mighty , who read one of the very best little bits from Boneshaker, and who then answered a lot of questions and signed quite a lot of books. Far and away, hands down, the best question answered was that yes, there will be a sequel to Boneshaker. Which I’d actually already seen her mention on her blog/LJ posts about its progress, but I hadn’t realized it was Boneshaker‘s sequel! Anyway, it’s coming. It’s called Dreadnought. I will be waiting for it with bells on.

Also happened to see there, so I thanked her for sending the e-arc of Street Magic to me, and picked up a couple more books of hers while I was there. In print, since I’m trying to keep the Seattle-based authors on the Buy In Print list!

But on a related note, I also asked the staff about their shiny new POD machine–with, of course, an eye to whether they could print Drollerie books. I had the guy at the info desk do a couple of searches, but sadly, it looks like Drollerie books are NOT in its database. So assuming that Faerie Blood joins the Drollerie print roster, the only option will be to order it. If the situation changes I will of course let folks know.

Meanwhile I must note that the following books have now been purchased by me:

In print:

  • Demon Bound and Witch Craft, by Caitlinn Kittredge

In e-book:

  • Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament, by S.G. Browne

And, since Fictionwise is having a massive and I mean MASSIVE sale for the end of the year (to the tune of everything between 40 and 60% off, so if you haven’t bought Faerie Blood yet now would be a REALLY GOOD TIME, not like I’m hinting or anything okay yeah well I am), I’m probably about to do another e-book run. A good chunk of this will be buying stuff by Morgan Howell, because I just read Book 1 of his Queen of the Orcs trilogy and liked it quite a bit.

Until then, the yearly books purchased tally is now up to 173.