Cover of Dial D for Deadman by Barry J Hutchison

Dial D for Deadman is a superbly executed hybrid: part noir detective novel, part paranormal mystery, part comedy. The action takes place on a popular interstellar crossroads called Parloo, in the gritty, downtrodden surface city known to its inhabitants as Down Here.

Our hero is Dan Deadman, deceased detective at large. Between ne’er-do-wells opening portals to the Malwhere, interdimensional amnesiacs, and a missing-persons case with an exceptionally gory twist, Dan quickly finds himself up to his eyeballs in trouble.

At times like this, he’d give his left nut to be a real detective. If he still had nuts.

Continue reading “Review: Dial D for Deadman”

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Cover of Thrill Kings: The Shaftway by Rik Ty

A short story about an inter-dimensional rescue worker who gets skunked by the otherworldly creature he’s trying to rescue, Thrill Kings: The Shaftway might be best described as Lovecraftian science fiction. And as such, it brilliantly succeeds.

Protagonist Nonstop corners a small, furry, brownie-shaped creature in a ruined warehouse and sends it back to its home dimension– but not before the terrified creature gases him with something unpleasant and highly hallucinogenic. What follows is a harrowing climb out of a ruined elevator shaft while our hero struggles in the grip of an incredibly bad trip.

Author Rik Ty has a unique writing style that lends itself well to this futuristic scifi-Lovecraft blend, and his descriptions are, as Nonstop would say, ‘ace.’ Here are a couple of my favorites.

Nonstop revved and drew nearer. The Inter-D looked like a bath mat, like a bath-mat-cake, or a brownie, or a cake-loaf, or something else that was low and thick with a top coating of acorns. He guessed its sustained speed to be about seven miles an hour, which, in his opinion, was respectable for a rectangle.

The moonlight, the beautiful moonlight, showed herself in several shafts of low light haze, which streamed down from holes in the ceiling and seemed to announce: “Here: take a closer look at some old file cabinets.”

These evocative descriptions and their subtle humor are the icing on the cake of a truly excellent weird scifi short story. If you haven’t picked up a copy for yourself, what are you waiting for?

Thrill Kings: The Shaftway and Thrill Kings: The Size Of Minneapolis Upright are available on Amazon and will be free every Saturday in October 2018. Check out author Rik Ty’s website for more info about this promising series.

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Over the last week I’ve been fleshing out some new ideas for the sequel to Necrotic City. Some have asked “But what happens to the city?” and this is for them. It’s also for all the people Adrian left behind. I’m really excited about this project and I hope you will be too!

Continue reading “Necrotic City: The Sequel”

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Cover of Stormhaven Rising by Eric Michael Craig

In the wake of the discovery of an asteroid on a collision course with Earth, the United States government scrambles to contain the news before it can spark a panic– but some secrets are too big to keep. Soon they aren’t the only ones rushing to devise countermeasures.

Their most viable competitors are the Chinese, and a global megacorporation to end all megacorporations: Stormhaven, founded and run by uber wealthy reclusive genius Colton Taylor. (Think Elon Musk, but considerably more altruistic and an all-around decent human being.)

Set in a near future where the US Department of Defense and NASA have only become more encumbered by bureaucratic gridlock (and in NASA’s case, insufficient funding,) private sector technologies have evolved leaps and bounds beyond that of the public sector. As such, Taylor’s Stormhaven may be the only real hope Earth has. There’s just one problem: private spaceflight is strictly forbidden, not just in the US, but on a global scale. In light of the strained political climate of impending doom, the last thing the US government wants to do is grant Stormhaven permission to reach space.

The tense and at times disastrous narrative that evolves from this situation is equal parts grim and inspiring. Stormhaven Rising represents an interesting blend of genres: part political thriller, part hard scifi, and part impending disaster. Together they make for a fun and fascinating read.

Continue reading “Review: Stormhaven Rising”

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Weathered old building at a relay site. Photo by Nocturnal Lynx Photography

What follows is the first chapter of a new work in progress called Interference. It has yet to be seen whether this will wind up being a short story or something longer, but right now my money is on something longer.

  Content warning for brief references to torture and grievous bodily injury.

Kay’s treads just weren’t made for off-road travel. After nearly losing his balance and sliding back down a particularly rocky slope, the battered librarian climbed to his feet and took stock of his surroundings.

Rocky soil stretched up the rutted trail in front of him, framed on either side by scrubby alder and arctic birch. Ahead, over the shoulder of the hill, the antennas of a radio tower farm stretched into the cloudy sky. Kay removed a crushed alder leaf that had become caught in the hinge of his right elbow and allowed himself a moment to stare longingly at the antenna array, lost in its hypnotic song.

Continue reading “Interference, Chapter 1: Kay”

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Conflict ahead sign

Let’s talk believable antagonists and realistic sources of conflict.

I’m not going to get into the four types of conflict, or six, or however many it is now. I am going to talk about creating a believable antagonistic force, rather than one of those cardboard caricature, source-of-all-evil bad guys.

The concept of a having one person be the source of all of a story’s conflict has always seemed overly simple to me. Either the antagonist has help, or the protagonist’s problems are going to be disappointingly simple to solve. A lone enemy, unaided, is easy to overcome.

Continue reading “Antagonistic Forces”

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Cover of Dark by Paul L Arvidson

Paul L Arvidson’s Dark is an unexpected hybrid, part science fiction and part heroic fantasy. The residents of the place known as the Dark inhabit a labyrinth of pipes and drains surrounding a central aqueduct known as the River, and readers will quickly realize that it is a created world rather than an organic one.

Dun, a budding shaman, and his boisterous friend Padj, along with a clever alchemist named Tali and their mysterious guide, Myrch, are tasked with following the River to its source and finding out what has become of their clan’s upstream neighbors.

Continue reading “Review: Paul L Arvidson’s Dark”

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Birth of the Eye by Justinas Vitkus

The flash fiction that follows was inspired by the artwork “Birth of the Eye,” by Justinas Vitkus. If you’d like to see more, check out his profile on DeviantArt.

The Stolen Moon

When the largest of the planet’s three moons finally slid free of the horizon, everyone on the research team looked up in awe.

“I don’t think that moon always belonged to this planet,” Senior Geologist Shayna Darris said.

“The hell are you mumbling about?” Mission Commander Jason Haze snapped, barely glancing up from putting together a portable security turret. “Get back to work, all of you. It’s going to be dark soon.”

“Take a chill pill, Commander,” one of the mechanics shot back. “There’s nothing hiding in the dark. Sit back and enjoy the moonrise.”

“Surely you see it too,” Darris said, nodding toward the massive red moon, its face dominated by a circular impact crater.

“See what? It’s a moon, for Star Mother’s sakes! The system surveys say it’s always been there.”

“2B6V is tidally locked. If it’s always been there, how did it get that impact crater?”

Continue reading “Flash Fiction: The Stolen Moon”

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Cover of Grounded: A Dragon's Tale by Gloria Piper

Grounded: A Dragon’s Tale follows a young dragon named Manycolors who has been burdened with the care of a flightless sibling. The narrative takes short breaks to focus on a human youth named Hote, who battles a mysterious illness as he works with the Watchers studying the dragons’ planet.

With its themes of misfit youngsters, youthful rebellion, and the looming threat of greedy poachers, I quickly formed suspicions regarding how the story might turn out. I’m thrilled to report that the author broke out of those tropes to create something unique, intriguing and unusual.

Continue reading “Grounded: A Dragon’s Tale Review”

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Ruhanna's Flight and other stories book cover

Within the pages of Ruhanna’s Flight and Other Stories, author Jeanette O’Hagan spins tales of shapeshifters and seafaring peoples, youthful struggles, first loves, enduring loss, and incredible courage. All but a few of the stories are set in the world of Nardva, and some of the characters will be familiar to readers of O’Hagan’s Akrad’s Children.

Continue reading “Review: Ruhanna’s Flight & Other Stories”

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