In the distance, distorted by the nutrient gel filling the stasis tank, klaxons blared.

The vat’s seal popped, exposing him to the sting of cold, dry ship-board air. Marc’s breather unit detached, followed by the connections that kept his body functioning through the long dark sleep. The klaxon became louder, more immediate.

Red emergency lights strobed as he opened his eyes, illuminating a dimly lit storage hold. He had just enough time to realize that this was not the comfortable passenger carrier he’d gone to sleep on before the stasis pod tilted upright and dumped him out on the dirty metal decking. The nutrient gel steamed as it flowed down a conveniently located drain. Icy metal welcomed him, naked and shivering, back into the real world.

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It’s hard to believe that yet another summer is nearly over. The leaves are turning yellow in my corner of the world, and the infamous low-lying areas experienced their first frost a few weeks ago. Where does the time go?

In my case, time flies when you’re screaming busy. I’ve been invited back for Part II of a superb speculative fiction anthology, Trumpland 2020: Divided We Stand, and am currently working on my entry.

Hel’s Fury, my submission for the first Trumpland collection, was extremely dark. It was kind of a worst case scenario, a hodgepodge of national news and the worst of my state’s own tendencies.

I’m happy to announce that my as-yet-untitled submission to 2020 will be much brighter. My goal is to highlight some of the good in Alaska and Alaskans, the spirit of community and resistance that I grew up with and still see occasionally in Alaska’s remote corners.

I’m also exploring Patreon as an avenue to get my short fiction in front of more readers and support myself while doing it. The first wave of September tier rewards are now live and I’m particularly excited about this month’s story, which digs into the origins of my cyborg OC Frank the Tank.

As some of you who’ve been with me the longest may know, Frank started out as a bit character in a piece of flash fiction.

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I’m proud to announce that today marks an exciting new step in my writing journey! But first, a proper introduction.

My name is Leland, and I write science fiction and crime stories. Most take place in the future, some are set in my home state of Alaska, and many contain hints of the otherworldly and unexplained.

I’ve been writing for the better part of 25 years, and for most of that time I wrote for myself. Writing was and is my escape from the grim grasp of reality. It’s a ray of light in a dark world.

In October of 2017 I published a cyberpunk science fiction novel called Necrotic City; and as of now I’m working on the sequel and a couple of other novel-length projects. I also run a weekly blog where I share flash fiction, short stories, reviews, and my thoughts on our high tech, low life world.

Money is tight, and because of the Other Job that pays the majority of my bills, so is writing time. My goal is to be able to write full time, so I’m trying something new: I’m launching a Patreon page.

I know there are a lot of you out there who enjoy my writing. Whether it’s the sequel to Necrotic City, my short stories and flash fiction, or my reviews and writing advice, becoming my patron is a great way to make it possible for me to create more of the content you love.

For as little as $2 a month you can gain access to at least one piece of brand-new fiction per month, excerpts from works in progress, deleted scenes, and exclusive insights into the weird worlds I create. If you think about it, that’s a pretty good deal. Virtually nothing in life is that cheap– not even a cup of coffee.

Kindly stop by my Patreon and check out the reward tiers. August’s monthly rewards are already up, and there’s also some free short fiction. Whether you choose to pledge a little or a lot, your contribution is greatly appreciated!

The following excerpt is a sneak peek at one of August’s patron rewards. Enjoy!

From A Call in the dark, Available now on Patreon:

The hulking wreck of an interstellar cruiser hung above an undeveloped world, baking under the gaze of the system’s giant-class star. The wreckage should have been wholly unable to host life. Debris formed a lethal halo around it, ejected from open ports and shattered shielding. Whatever had happened to the cruiser, it had been bad.

Stellar surveys reported it had been there for some time. The wreck was a permanent fixture, an ever-present star in the night sky of the planet below. It had been there for what CF46’s human cargo would have called ‘generations.’

And yet he was reading a distress signal that no other passing ship had registered… or chosen to register.

“…emergency. …support failing! Requesting immediate assistance…”

Support me on Patreon to read the rest!

A  q&A about my patreon launch

Q: Oh no! Does this mean you won’t be posting flash fiction and short stories for free on your blog anymore?

A: Absolutely not! I plan to continue posting here as I have been. Supporting me on Patreon is a way to access additional content and show your support for the stuff I create. 

Q: Isn’t asking for additional money from your readers kind of, you know, greedy? You already get paid when people buy your book(s).

A: The vast majority of the content I create is free, but at the end of the day I still need to eat. I want to make a full-time career out of writing, and that means I need to do one of two things: focus my effort purely on for-profit writing, or explore additional sources of writing-related revenue. I’m hoping that in addition to providing my fans with more awesome content, Patreon will act as a tip jar for those who enjoy my work.

Have questions I haven’t answered here? Feel free to ask them in the comment section. And remember, whether you choose to support me on Patreon or not, I appreciate you. Thank you for reading the things I write. You rock!

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Cover of Dead Inside by Barry J Hutchison

In Dead Inside, deceased detective Dan Deadman’s life takes a darker turn. And that’s saying a lot for a series that started out with Dan hunting a child-snatching serial killer.

The action opens with a car chase and doesn’t slow down much thereafter as Dan, Olly, and Artur investigate stolen children, straying spouses, a series of grizzly ritual murders, and a visitor from the Malwhere more nightmarishly powerful than any they’ve faced before.

It’s also dark– very dark. Although it’s hard to name a favorite chapter of a book this good, mine would probably be when Dan and Ollie find themselves in the Malwhere. Ollie runs into her ‘father,’ the hideously evil entity that kidnapped her as a small child. And Dan… Dan relives his own death.

Continue reading “Review: Dead Inside”

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Cover of Lost Dogs: Last Fight of the Old Hound by Nils Odlund

Lost Dogs is a different kind of fantasy series. Last Fight of the Old Hound follows Roy von Waldenberger, a prize fighter and therianthrope, and much of the story’s conflict is internal. His inner wolf makes him stronger, faster, tougher– but it also fights for control of his mind in times of duress.

The author’s world building and character development are top notch, and I found Roy’s internal conflict incredibly easy to relate to. I love seeing fantasy used as a way to approach real life conflicts, and the author does a superb job of this. The inner wolf is a terrific metaphor, with its instinct-driven approach to life, boundless strength, and absolute unwillingness to compromise.

This is the story of one man’s struggle to reconcile what’s right by his conscience with what’s right for his loved ones and his future. A prize fighter on the cusp of retirement, he has been given a choice between retaining his reputation as an honest man, and ‘falling’ to a new fighter in exchange for the ability to leave with a healthy retirement bonus and his good standing in the business world intact.

This story is more of an afternoon read than a week-long one, but there’s enough world building, conflict, and action packed into Last Fight of the Old Hound for the reader to feel like they got their money’s worth. A gripping and evocative short read, I highly recommend it!

Lost Dogs: Last Fight of the Old Hound is available in ebook and paperback from Amazon.

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Blade Runner movie poster

Blade Runner bears about as much resemblance to the book that inspired it as a box of chicken nuggets does to a live chicken, but in this case that’s probably a good thing. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?  was a singularly strange story, puzzling on many levels. (If you’re interested, you can check out my review of Electric Sheep here.)

Harrison Ford plays Rick Deckard, a former Blade Runner (aka, police bounty hunter) who’s been forced back into service to hunt down a group of escaped Nexus 6 androids, now referred to as replicants.

The plot and world-building of Electric Sheep has been pared down significantly in some aspects and completely rewritten in others. No mention is made of the massive nuclear war that made most of Earth uninhabitable, although the off-world colonies remain. Replicants, produced to provide slave labor on the colonies, periodically escape and make their way back to Earth.

Continue reading “Review: Blade Runner”

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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep cover

I finally got around to reading Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? And although I had no idea what to expect going in, it was still nothing like what I expected.

Rick Deckard is a police bounty hunter, “retiring” escaped androids that pose a vague threat to Earth’s remaining human population. His world is dull and grey, full of despair and the detritus of human lives long gone. Nuclear war has made much of Earth uninhabitable, causing freak mutations and decimating animal populations. Most humans eligible to immigrate to off-world colonies have done so.

While this premise might sound dark, gritty, thrilling, and potentially action packed, –spoiler– this novel is not.

Continue reading “Review: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”

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Dredd 2012 - Judgement is Coming

For the purpose of disambiguation, this review is of Dredd (2012), starring Karl Urban as Judge Dredd and Olivia Thirlby as trainee Judge Anderson.

When Dredd and Anderson respond to a grisly triple homicide in the high rise mega slum of Peach Trees, they have no idea that they’re walking into the heart of a ruthless criminal’s base of operations. Ex-prostitute Ma-Ma (played excellently by Lena Headey) is the kingpin of a cartel that has risen to supremacy through a brutal combination of extreme violence and drug trafficking. The drug in question is Slo-Mo, a substance which slows the user’s perception of reality to 1% normal speed.

I’ll admit I didn’t have high expectations for this film. I’m not a huge fan of Karl Urban, and I had suspicions that Judge Anderson would be, as happens all too often to female action leads, little more than eye candy. The prominent place of Slo-Mo in the trailers gave me flashbacks to the heavy-handed drug propaganda of the 80s and 90s.

I’m happy to report that I was wrong. Dredd surprised the hell out of me. It was really good.

Continue reading “Review: Dredd”

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Cover of Redemption of Sisyphus by Eric Michael Craig

In the thrilling conclusion to Eric Michael Craig’s solar system-spanning Shan Takhu Legacy series, the fearless crew of the ice-harvesting research vessel Jakob Waltz, the remnants of the Human Union, and the rebels of Fleet Cartel battle an AI bent on saving the human race from itself by any means necessary.

The AI Odysseus proves to be a Pandora’s box of nasty tricks, and it possesses nothing that could even remotely be called a conscience. Powered by a “you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet” style of damage control –where the eggs are human lives– Odysseus works to extend its control to the edges of the solar system and eliminate anyone that could possibly be considered a threat to its power.

After all, it’s hard to protect humanity with all these pesky humans standing in its way.

Fortunately, in addition to the motley group of heroes and leaders we’ve come to know and love over the course of this series, there’s also a couple of pro-human AIs, a crew of upgraded humans, and a treasure-trove of mysterious alien technology on the heroes’ side.

Put all of these elements together, and the result is a grimly prophetic thrill ride peppered with seat-of-your-pants skirmishes and dark discoveries. Redemption of Sisyphus is a multi-fronted three-dimensional chess match against a malignant artificial intelligence able to infect almost any automated system, and capable of some deeply chilling meatspace tricks as well. The final installment of this series kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.

I don’t review more than the first book of a series very often, and that’s due to the fact that beyond book one it gets successively harder to write a decent review without revealing potential spoilers. Hopefully I’ve managed to walk that fine line between being too generic and revealing too much about the plot for new readers. Whether you love this review or hate it, let me know in the comments.

If it sounds like something you want to read, Redemption of Sisyphus is available in paperback, ebook, and Kindle Unlimited on Amazon. New to the series? Start with Legacy of Pandora, and check out my review here.

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Cover of Fulcrum of Odysseus by Eric Michael Craig

The discoveries made by the crew of the Jakob Waltz in the cold darkness of the outer solar system have set off a catastrophic chain of events, fatally destabilizing the fragile balance of power among the factions of the Human Union. Worse, they’ve inadvertently activated a doomsday failsafe created to protect humanity in the event of contact with an extrasolar entity.

Former FleetCartel Chancellor Katryna Roja and her allies are on the run, the crew of the Waltz is struggling to make the best of an increasingly ugly situation, and it’s beginning to look like humanity will be far worse off under the control of the omnipotent and all-encompassing AI known as Odysseus than they were under the Human Union. More calculating than the greatest chess master, able to infiltrate and manipulate virtually any system, Odysseus swiftly proves itself to be a cold, calculating, and ultimately ominous entity.

The artefact encountered by the intrepid crew of the Jakob Waltz isn’t without its own mysteries and perils either. Just as Odysseus at first seemed benignly helpful, the Tacra Un proves to be at times disturbingly unconcerned with the well-being and ongoing survival of its unwilling inhabitants.

If you enjoyed the hard science, intrigue, and interstellar action of Star Trek and felt that Skynet wasn’t far-reaching or threatening enough, then Fulcrum of Odysseus is definitely for you! It’s a riveting read and I greatly enjoyed it. Honorable mentions are also in order for the slang spoken by the residents of Tsiolkovskiy Freeport East (very nicely done!) and the introduction of genetically modified and upgraded humans. This is one of those rare series where the second book is even better than the first.

Sound interesting? Fulcrum of Odysseus is available in paperback, ebook, and Kindle Unlimited on Amazon. New to the series? Start with Legacy of Pandora, and check out my review here.

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