Cover of Save Our Souls by Leighton Dean

Today on the author blog, Leland Lydecker reviews the second novel by author Leighton Dean.

The aptly-named Save Our Souls follows pilot and Captain’s son, Ford, and his family, the crew of the freighter Jian Seng, as they fight to survive in the face of an unholy trinity of catastrophes. The seemingly lifeless ship that barreled into their craft is only the first salvo of a universe that seems intent on eliminating the crew of the Jian Seng in the most unpleasant ways possible.

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Friday evening found me crowded into a shed with a motley group of individuals. The shed was attached to the back of a slant-roofed little house tucked into a steep hillside a few miles north of Fairbanks, Alaska. The crowd included everything from grey-haired retirees to stay-at-home moms to workers in grimy Carhartts, and even a few professional transporters like myself. Chatter wandered between the heavy snow load, predictions of when the first willow blooms would be out, and speculation about whether the coming summer would be as poor for pollen collection as the last one was.

At the back of the shed, an elderly gentleman with wild white hair handed out buzzing cages; each sturdy 4 inch by 16 inch by 12 inch enclosure contained a queen and roughly 5,000 of her subjects, totaling 4 lbs of bees. (Bees are sold by weight rather than number for reasons of expediency.) This particular bee dealer is the only one in Fairbanks, supplying hundreds of backyard beekeepers in the area.

I’ve been transporting bees for over a decade now, but rumor has it this will be the bee dealer’s last year. That may mean the end of my yearly bee run, or it may mean a much lengthier run down to Delta Junction or Anchorage to meet another dealer. For now, I collect 8 lbs of bees, wrap their cages in my jacket, and climb up a crude staircase to the dealer’s parking area. Now comes the fun part.

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 Welcome to the Madhouse: a Medical Space Station Thriller by S.E. Sasaki

Welcome to the Madhouse chronicles the adventures of Dr. Grace Lord as she begins her residency aboard the medical space station Nelson Mandela. Plenty of challenges are in store, from eccentric surgeons to a dangerously manipulative psychiatrist to an alien super-virus, but Dr. Lord is not entirely on her own: she soon finds an unlikely ally in Bud, an android gifted with artificial intelligence.

In fact, Bud is more than just sentient: he feels human emotion. And from the moment he lays optical sensors on the extremely talented, smart, and beautiful Dr. Grace Lord, he falls madly in love with her.

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Today on the author blog, I’m going to do something different. What follows is the first page of a short story that will be released as part of an anthology this summer. Hel’s Fury is set in Fairbanks, Alaska, in a dystopian near future. And yes, the spelling is deliberate.

A Taste of Things to Come: Hel’s Fury

As Fairbanks Police Captain Nathan Spencer waded through the soggy snow toward the crime scene, a growing sense of dread supplanted his annoyance at being called out first thing on a Monday morning. Dozens of other pairs of boots had already made the same journey, clearing a wide path from the parking area to the underside of the nearby Steese Highway bridge.

To his right the Chatanika River rushed by, muddied by year-round mining operations upstream. A forest of scraggly black spruce marched off into the pre-dawn dimness on the far bank. To his left, a handful of Alaska State Trooper SUVs and several Fairbanks Police cars sat in the parking lot of an abandoned campground. Ravens circled overhead.

The crime scene was thirty-some miles northeast of Fairbanks, and fell under the Troopers’ jurisdiction. Spencer silently cursed whatever circumstance had connected the scene to one of the FPD’s many open cases.

A FPD detective named Henriksen met him at the edge of the highway overpass, expression grim.

“This had better be good,” Spencer snapped. “I’m going to be pissed if you called me all the way out here just because someone strung up a couple more drunks.”

The detective grimaced. “These weren’t drunks. That’s why I called you. These are some of ours.”

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 Cover of Darrell B. Nelson's The Genocide Game.

This week on the author blog, Leland Lydecker reviews The Genocide Game. A megalomaniac billionaire with an automation fetish plots to wipe out ninety-eight percent of the world’s population, and it falls to Stan– pick-up artist guru and self-proclaimed word-nerd– to save the world.

To be more accurate, Stan bumps into Raven, a scientist on the run from her job in the billionaire’s R&D lab, and offers to help her. Pretty soon they’re both on the run from Ferguson’s comically inept goons, racing to reveal the existence of a genetically engineered super-virus before Ferguson can unleash it on the world.

Although it sounds like a cool premise, The Genocide Game has some unfortunately fatal flaws. Let’s start with Stan.

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