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Reading Material

OK, day three of suggestions on something to help wile away the hours.  I hope these are useful.

John van Stry has put a long list of his works on sale for 99 cents starting at midnight tonight.

J.E. Tabor has a space western serial up on his website, titled Once Upon a Time in the Heavens.

Melanie Nyles has her complete Luriel Cycle trilogy available for 99 cents.  Check out her website for more of her books and deals.

The world of Ahlias has a history of warfare between supernatural beings—daemons and luriel—which have nearly destroyed it at times. But ever since the Scientific Reformation, humans abandoned their beliefs in religious traditions, except for those who continue in secret to avoid persecution by daemon-controlled authorities. The luriel search for the power to end the war, while daemons hunt them down. Legends state that for either side to win, both must be destroyed. For millennia, the humans of Ahlias have been caught in the middle, and now, a mythical power has awakened in one of them. Daemons are relentless, but they have their weaknesses…

 

A reader suggested Black Hat Blues by Gene Kendall.

Meet Mr. Scratch. He’s an evil sorcerer, ruthless CEO, and diabolical weapons manufacturer. Scratch exists as drawings on paper, but he’s certain he’s better than you.

Meet Mark. He created Mr. Scratch. Never thought he’d meet him one day.

And Mark certainly never thought the fractured marriage of Jack and Gloria Power, fictional characters in his long-running comic book, would have dire consequences here in the real world.

In the 1970s, underground cartoonist Mark Lipscomb followed his muse and created, quite by accident, a merchandising phenomenon. The characters from his comic POWER & GLORIA penetrated the mainstream, becoming an action figure line, a syndicated action cartoon, and really anything else their images could be slapped upon.

Today, the audience is dwindling, and Mark’s adjusting to life with the new corporate owners of his creations. Arthritis has severely hindered Mark’s ability to draw, and his stories have a tendency to offend the modern taste makers, generating a routine series of social media outrages.

He does have one defender, though. His own creation, the villainous Mr. Scratch, who’s escaped a dangling plot thread from Mark’s final issue. The ingenious rogue has traveled the multiverse and found himself in Mark’s backyard. Truly, they were fated to become fast friends.

Except, Scratch isn’t as harmless in the real world as he is on the printed page. As the days pass, Mark can no longer deny what he’s created. Macular degeneration and arthritic wrists don’t lend themselves to old-fashioned slugfests, so Mark must get creative if he wants to stop the bloodlust of his destructive id.

 

If you’re looking for a tale to read on a dark night by the light of a fire, check out The Marchioly Project by P.A. Piatt.

Alexandru Statornik had everything – until it was all ripped away…

As his life spirals downward, Alex is recruited for a top-secret government research project at a secret prison in the heartland of America. He expects to find a most-wanted terrorist, but what Alex discovers is more horrifying than he could have ever imagined. The government has been holding a prisoner for over a hundred and fifty years – and that prisoner is a vampire.

When the project goes horribly wrong and the vampire escapes, it falls on Alex to hunt down and destroy the savage evil that has been unleashed on the world.

If he fails, eternal darkness will settle over all of mankind.

 

Treasure of the Black Hold, by S. Evan Townsend, looks like a really good detective story.

The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of . . . When private detective Rick Bailey is hired by the exotically beautiful and outrageously wealthy Princess Nora, he thinks it’ll be easy money. Escaping from her rebellion-torn kingdom, the princess has lost her handmaiden, Lores: the only person who knows how to find the hidden royal jewels. But when his search for the equally lovely Lores turns deadly, Bailey realizes that there is more to this case than it first seemed. When someone tries to kill him, he discovers that the roots of evil run deep. With his own set of values and sense of honor, Bailey must keep one step ahead of murderous mobsters, secret government operatives, and a genetically enhanced Lores as he races across the galaxy in search of the truth. The only things he knows he can trust are his eight-foot-tall ladybug-like girl Friday and a powerful weapon that responds to his thoughts. Will Bailey find the treasure of the black hole in time and will he survive long enough to discover why it is something worth killing for?

 

The latest volume of the Planetary Anthology Series is out, Uranus:

These are the stories of Uranus. Stories of new beginnings and creation. Stories of the mysterious seventh planet in our solar system and of the God of the sky that it was named after:

The Rising of Michael Reid, by Constantine Nakos – Michael Reid wasted his life. Now he has been given the chance to make amends. Every day he wakes up in the grave where he was buried and sets off for wherever Providence guides him.

Serendi-bunny, by Julie Frost – Alex Jarrett may be a mad scientist, but he’s a mad scientist on a mission to cure cancer. When he buys a pair of robot bunnies from the internet to help him accelerate his research, he gets more than he bargained for when they turn out to be assassin-bots sent from the future.

Forty-Two Years of Summer, by Karina Fabian – Forty-Two years of summer is a love story, an old woman’s reminiscing, and a peek at what the future could be. It reminds us that whatever the challenges, even the coming 42 years of Uranus winter, there is love and joy and the 42 years of summer.

Weather Witch of the West, by Ben Wheeler – Uranus is controlled by the Weather Witches. From their floating sky-palaces, they manipulate the weather, change the seasons and hold the lives and deaths of the countless inhabitants of the gas giants in their calculations.

Muddification, by Clint Hale – When human-like creatures are produced by advanced technology, they have no soul. They are a mere shell. What happens when mankind attempts to fuse the human soul and intellect with one of these uninhabited bodies? Is the body only a vessel, or does it also have some impact on who and what a person is?

The Last Human, by Richard Paolinelli – Anne Fontana needed a getaway, a vacation all to herself. But some vacations are just too short. The world has changed, and when she returns, she discovers that she alone holds the power to save humanity, or change it irrevocably.

Blue Ring Beginning, by Bokerah Brumley – Archibald wants a new start. A former detective, he lands on the Uranus station, desperate for work. Will a last-second offer from the station’s commanding officer give him the fresh start he needs, or dredge up the past he wants to forget?

Two Households, None Alike, by A.M. Freeman – Two worlds collide with an inharmonious clash at a ceremony meant to unite. The Princess of Uranus, full of pride for her society’s progress, must marry the Prince of Mars – and become queen of a rough and foreign land.

Creativity, by Arlan Andrews Sr. – Arlan was once criticized by a supervisor for being “too creative.” This is a wish fulfillment revenge story. “Sometimes management should not try to screw over a truly creative person.” (And never, never irritate a science-fiction writer)

Kashika’s Empty Nest, by Sarah Byrne – As the newly widowed dowager queen of an ancient kingdom, Kashika is looking forward to a life of retirement and freedom from her royal duties when she finds herself arrested for the murder of the late king. Only her young and inexperienced son, now king in his own right, believes in her innocence.

The Long Dream, by Caroline Furlong – The U.S.S. Andrew Jackson discovers an abandoned cryo-pod in orbit over Uranus, prompting questions about the first manned mission to the seventh planet in the Solar System – questions someone does not want answered.

The Morrigan, by Christopher Wilson – Civilization is dying, society falling apart, anarchic reavers and hungry gangs taking control now that no one is left to stop them. But an aging scout pilot, driving an old relic from a bygone era, may finally have an answer.

Cold Heart of Ouranos, by J.D. Cowan – Underneath Ouranos lies a hidden evil forgotten by those who live in the frozen wastes and the heated city. Mysteries from the past have revealed themselves once more.

Room to Breathe, by Marina Fontaine – Home. Family. Friends. Daniel knows those words used to mean something special. But not anymore. Not for him.

 

 

J. Trevor Robinson has a pair of short stories and a young adult horror novel up for free on his website.  As someone who’s spent the past week trying to keep a 11 year old occupied, young adult fiction is definitely something we need these days.

 

John Taloni’s The Compleat Martian Defense: Earth’s Defense Awakens looks like a great throwback to the golden age of science fiction.

With Earth left in shambles by the Martian invasion, Queen Victoria’s daughter Louise must lead the world through a dire emergency: The Martians are coming back.First she must rescue Cavor from his prison on the Moon in order to build a defense fleet. Even with Cavor their efforts would be for nothing without the genius of Nikola Tesla leading the way. And on Mars, unexpected allies fight a rearguard action to help Earth. Meanwhile the Time Traveler repeatedly appears, but is he friend or foe?

 

I have a weakness for noir served with a twist of magic, and Bad Dreams and Broken Hearts by Misha Burnett looks really good.

It’s hard to fight wizards and demons when all you have is a gun and a badge.

The use of magic in the Sovereign City of Dracoheim is regulated by the Lord Mayor’s Committee For Public Safety. From the licensing of magi, to the health and safety requirements for magical manufacturing, to the import and export of goods to the Realms of Nightmare, dedicated civil servants ensure that the metropolitan area stays safe from magical mayhem.

Most of the time, anyway.

My name is Erik Rugar. I’m an agent of the Criminal Investigation Division of CPS. We operate outside of the authority of Parliament and are answerable only to the Lord Mayor himself. We get involved when the regular beat cops are out of their depth. If a magic shop gets robbed by junkies, or someone gets vaporized by a fireball, or shapechanging creatures start infiltrating the city, I get the call.

But I’m not a mage; I’m just a cop. I face down magical threats with my keen investigative skills and a trusty revolver.

Welcome to my world.

 

Finally, a brand new, hot off the digital presses short story anthology featuring some of my favorite authors is out, When Valor Must Hold.

It is a time of high adventure! A time for noble men and women to say “No!” to the evils that will befall their families and friends if they don’t rise to the task at hand. If their valor doesn’t hold, civilization will fall.

Fifteen authors have spun fourteen tales of hateful wizards, treacherous seas, and scheming foes. Of times when ancient evils roamed the Earth, looking for souls to claim, and dark prophecies foretold what would happen if the Evil Ones were allowed to succeed. This anthology has all of this and more.

When Valor Must Hold focuses on heroes worthy of facing such enemies. A tiny brownie stands up to a massive ogre. A mother races to protect her children. A hunter chases raiders. A guardian serves his king. Heroes lead forces into battle against overwhelming odds. There’s even a goblin trying to save his people by stealing dwarven rum.

Inside are fourteen fantastic stories of enemies testing the valor of heroes great and small. If their valor should fail, they will lose far more than their lives.

Will their swords shatter shields? Will their magic shine forth? Or will they see their homes and families perish when they fail? Step inside and find out!

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