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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: A Vanishing Glow, by Alexis Radcliff

Alexis Radcliff is an author who emailed me out of the blue asking if I’d consider reviewing her book. I told her I couldn’t guarantee a timely review, and instead recommended she send me a piece for Boosting the Signal so that she could appeal to y’all directly about whether you might like to read her book. Which is, by the way, A Vanishing Glow, which she described to me as ‘a deep and thrilling blend of steampunk and flintlock fantasy’. So maybe what you might get if you smoosh Boneshaker and the Rebels of Adalonia books together? If that sounds awesome, read on for an excerpt from the book. Which nicely features a clear goal of SCIENCE! Or at least, science in the name of war. Check it out.


A Vanishing Glow

A Vanishing Glow

“Isn’t this kind of dangerous, Doc?” Verse rubbed her arms and looked around the field. “I feel like we should have ear protection or something.”

“Got it covered.” Nilya pulled a handful of cotton bits out of her jacket pocket and passed two to Verse, two to Doc, and then jammed two in her own ears.

“What about Doc’s eye?” asked Verse. Her voice sounded muffled through Nilya’s cotton, but still audible.

Nilya blinked, and looked at Doc. “What about your eye, Doc? If this works, I’d hate to be responsible for something happening to it.”

Doc reached up and tapped himself in the center of the construct eye with two hard taps, making Nilya flinch. “Special crystal compound. Designed by Vasaan himself to work with mystech. Your pulser can’t do anything to it.” He grinned. “Go ahead, Nilya. Fire it up.”

“Wait, wait!” Verse scrambled to stuff the cotton into her ears. Then she covered them with her hands. “Okay, go ahead.”

“Here goes.” Nilya held out the pulser in front of her and braced herself. A queasy, nervous fluttering started up in her stomach. This was her moment. They were only a few feet from the beakers. It had to work. “Here goes nothing. One… two… three!” She flipped the switch.

A loud, keening shriek pulsed out of the tiny pinholes on the device in her hand. It vibrated with the energy of the mystech crystal inside. She winced at the volume of the shriek, despite the cotton, and gritted her teeth, holding the pulser nearer to the beakers. Are they vibrating? She couldn’t tell. She stepped closer.

She spared a glance back at Verse and Doc. Verse stood tensed and ready to jump backwards, one eye squeezed shut and the other peeping open, fixed on the beakers. Doc stood impassively, arms folded. He had a strange expression on his face. He unfolded his arms and raised a hand to rub the back of his neck.

The beakers stood silent and serene on the tree stump, giving no indication that the noise affected them. They should be vibrating by now. There’s no technical reason it shouldn’t work. Why isn’t it working? She bit her lip. What did I do wrong?

There was a loud pop and the device jerked in Nilya’s hands. The mechanical shriek cut off.

Doc was screaming.

She spun around to see him kneeling on the ground, rocking back and forth as he wailed, both hands covering his construct eye. Verse stood frozen behind him, a horrified expression plastered on her face. Nilya dropped the pulser and rushed to his side, grabbing him by the shoulders. Her heart thudded in her chest. “Doc, Doc, what is it? What happened?”

“My eye! My eye, what did it do to my eye? I heard something shatter…” His fingers frantically probed at the socket and then came away. He stared up at Nilya in confusion, natural eye rolling wildly. “I can’t see!”

His construct eye looked intact, though it no longer glowed red with its signature inner light. Nilya took a deep breath. She could still make out the black focusing bands clearly on the dull crimson surface. “It looks okay, Doc,” she assured him. “But deactivated. You can’t see?”

“My right eye…” He stared at her in shock, trying to comprehend what she was saying. “Intact?”

His hand snapped back to his neck, grasping at the brass compartment that held his M-cell seating. The casing swung out on tiny, concealed hinges, and his fingers groped for the mystech crystal inside. Tiny yellow shards tumbled out instead, and he caught them in his hand and brought them around to stare at them.

“I’ll be damned to hell,” he said, looking up at her in amazement.

Nilya stared back. Mystech shards… She stood and returned to the pulser, sweeping it up off the ground, and popped the casing off in a single motion. A similar pile of shards sat in her own M-cell seating. She upended the device, shook them into her hand, and held them out for Doc and Verse to see.

“What is it?” Verse asked. “What’s going on?”

Did my pulser do that? Nilya stared down at it, stunned. But how?

“What is it?” Verse pleaded.

“Something I’ve never seen done before.” Doc climbed unsteadily to his feet. “Her device destroyed the nearby mystech crystals instead of the glass.” He shook his head. “I never even thought…”

“But how? She didn’t build it for that, did she?”

“The calibrator,” Nilya said. “I’d never used it before. My design just resonates, but it’s the calibrator that helped me set the frequency.”

“I’m amazed, Nilya.” Doc let the crystals in his palm fall to the ground and dusted off his hands. “What you’ve stumbled on… Do you realize the potential this has?”

Nilya nodded mutely. Her mind was already racing with the possibilities. A handheld weapon that could knock out every light in a building or disable a guard’s shockrod? One person could hamstring an entire squad of Istkherian Steelguards. She licked her lips, mouth suddenly dry.

“So what do we do, now?” She held the pulser open in her hands, exposed to the air. The device was unharmed, despite the jolt of the shattering crystal. “I’m sorry about the scare with your eye,” she added.

“Forget my eye. It’s fine. Next we test it again.” He gestured back towards the workshop as he stared thoughtfully at her invention. “I have spare crystals in the shop. After we do that, then I take your device and go have a little chat with the Colonel about your potential as a military engineer. We might be wasting your talents with your current assignment.”

Nilya nodded, still too excited to speak. After this, they won’t just let me join the weapons engineering corps. They’ll probably ask me to run it!


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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Ether & Elephants, by Cindy Spencer Pape

I’ve featured fellow Carina author Cindy Spencer Pape on Boosting the Signal before, with her book Dragons & Dirigibles. I’m thrilled to feature her again today, with the latest installment of the Gaslight Chronicles, Ether & Elephants! And don’t forget–if you like the sound of this book, Carina has a 40% off site-wide sale going on till Monday, so you can get this book as part of that sale! Her character for this piece is Thomas Devere, and his goal is simple: win back the love he’s lost, and become a proper father for the child who’s most likely his son. Take it away, Cindy!


Ether and Elephants

Ether and Elephants

My life was simple when I was a kid. Pick a few pockets, dodge a few coppers, maybe cheat the occasional sailor in a game of cards. Whatever it took to find a little food and a place to get off the streets at night, since the slums of London were rife with vampyres in those days. I teamed up with some other street rats, we learned to kill the vampyres, we got a permanent room over a tea shop, and life was pretty good. Then when I was fifteen, it all went crazy. We got ourselves adopted by one of the best monster-hunters in England. I found out I wasn’t a bastard at all, but the legitimate heir of a bloody baronet! In just one day we were off the streets of Wapping and into a St. James mansion. Even then, I knew, and my new mum knew, that I was in love with Nell, the younger girl in our crew. So they didn’t legally adopt me. Someday, Nell and I would be married.

That was before I did something so devastatingly stupid that it destroyed everything. In university, for a while, I let my little head do the thinking, and wound up married to a barmaid who claimed I’d gotten her pregnant. Day after the wedding she disappeared, and I never heard from her or the child again. It didn’t matter though. I was married, so Nell and I were doomed. She took a job teaching music to blind children, and I did my best to avoid her as much as possible.

Then, Fate intervened. One of Nell’s students went missing—a boy with supernatural gifts, not unlike my own. As soon as I began to investigate, I knew there was a good chance that young Charlie was my missing son. Finding him and his mother became the sole focus of my life.

Now, we’ve discovered hints that I might not be legally married after all. That Charlie, who may or may not be my son, might be better off if I did have the marriage ruled invalid and simply claimed him as my son, despite the stigma of illegitimacy. His mother appears to be involved with an old enemy of ours—an Alchemist who uses children to test his chemical and magical potions.

So I might be free to marry Nell, but now she wants nothing to do with me. And it looks like we’re heading to India. It’s a three-day airship ride. Her natural father might be waiting on the other end, as we hunt a criminal and a little boy through a foreign land. Anything could happen. Anything at all.


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Other People's Books

Cleaning out my inboxes book roundup

Trying to clean up my tag structure around here, which means I’ll be rearranging a lot of the tags I have on forthcoming posts as well as older ones. Like, say, the book roundup posts! Which I’ll be putting under the “Other People’s Books” category now.

Here though are my last five purchases picked up from Kobo!

Honor Among Thieves

Honor Among Thieves

  • Rolling in the Deep, by Mira Grant. Because Mira Grant goes without saying. And also MUAHAHA EVIL MERMAIDS!
  • A Desperate Fortune, by Susanna Kearsley. Because she also goes without saying, and I need to get caught up on her stuff. This is her latest release, another of those dual-timeline historical-and-contemporary romances she does so well.
  • Honor Among Thieves, by James S.A. Corey. Because while the majority of Star Wars novels have been relegated to non-canon status, screw it, this one’s starring Han. Which makes it highly, highly relevant to my interests!
  • The Diabolical Miss Hyde, by Viola Carr. Grabbed this one because it was available for $1.99, and because it’s been getting some good buzz on the blogs. Steampunky followup to the famous Jekyll and Hyde story–this time starring Jekyll’s daughter.
  • Justice Calling, by Annie Bellet. Urban fantasy. Grabbed this one by way of showing her some support in the Hugo brouhaha.

This puts me at fifteen for the year.

Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Dragons & Dirigibles, by Cindy Spencer Pape

This is a fun one, folks, because today’s Boosting the Signal guest is none other than Carina’s powerhouse mistress of steampunk romance, Cindy Spencer Pape! She’s got a brand new book in her ongoing series, the Gaslight Chronicles! And the goal of her heroine Melody McKay? Get back into the sky. No matter what irritating earls may be in her way.


Dragons & Dirigibles

Dragons & Dirigibles

Airships are my life. Designing, building and then flying a machine that soars above the clouds is about the most exciting, exhilarating career I can imagine.

And that explains why I’m still a spinster. In Queen Victoria’s England, what man is going to accept an airship engineer and pilot as a wife? As far as I can tell, exactly none, since I have no intentions of giving up flight if I ever do settle down. Still, sometimes it does feel like life is passing me by. My brother and sister are both married now, along with my best friend, Wink. I have a gorgeous nephew and my sister-in-law is expecting twins any day. I suppose my role in life is to be the crazy auntie who takes the kiddies on dirigible rides.

At least that was my plan until my perfect, crash-free record was broken when someone shot—that’s right, shot—my prototype silent-flight airship out of the sky. And wouldn’t you know it, I ended up on the lawn of an earl who thinks women ought to be wrapped in cotton wool and trotted out for teatime. He’s stifling his poor niece, who’s a fun little imp. I wonder what it would take to get the stick out of his arse? Or maybe it’s a mast, since he used to be a Navy man. He might almost be handsome if he’d actually smile for a change.

Thanks to a sprained ankle, I’m stuck here in Devon at his gloomy old manor house, while he’s trying to investigate a smuggling ring. Since I think it was the smugglers who shot me down, I’m inclined to help. Even if he doesn’t want me to. Maybe in the process, I can get it through his thick head that females are more than just brainless baubles.

As soon as that’s done, I am soooo out of here and heading back to London, where I belong.


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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn: A Steampunk Faerie Tale

We’ve got a packed lineup today for Boosting the Signal, y’all–this second post is courtesy of Danielle Ackley-McPhail, who’s come across my radar thanks to a couple of Kickstarters I’ve supported, as well as the Outer Alliance mailing list. Danielle has a work coming out in September that she wants to get the word out about now, and I gotta say, the concept of a clockwork djinn makes me go ooooo.


Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn

Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn

Whispers from the Viper’s Tongue – Rassul Maroun, King of Thieves

Free…I will be free, and no little tinker boy is going to stand in my way. I have ruled the Nejd for decades. I have delivered greater and more knowledgeable men than he to their final meeting with the Almighty. I will not be thwarted by a clueless lad who is barely aware of the matters he disrupts.

I have been charged with finding and retrieving the fabled treasure of Nader Shah, then must deliver it to my master, the Qatar Shahanshah. I could not care less if I should discharge this duty. After seventy years bound to this cursed desert I would claim what treasure I may for myself and forget the Qatar Dynasty. Yet I can never forget the spells that bind me, not only to this place, but to this life of servitude.

I cannot leave the Nejd without the legendary Peacock Throne and its associated treasure. A treasure I have found, yet ancient magic prevents me from taking it up and purchasing my freedom with its coin. Still, I have secured it and have vowed I will find a way to break the spell binding both it and me.

I am so close. Nearly I have had the key within my grasp, only to have a tinker boy threaten to take the prize from me.

I will not sit back and allow this Baba Ali to strand me for all time among these sands.

At first I sought my freedom and an end to the line of Farzeen, the guardian set upon the hidden treasure by Shahrokh, the last shah of the Afsharid dynasty.

Now? Now I seek an end to Baba Ali…the treasure be damned.


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Follow the Author On: Official websites Sidhe na Daire and Bad-Ass Faeries | userinfolit_handyman, userinfodamcphail, and userinfobadassfaeries on Livejournal | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon Author Page | Goodreads