blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Cronian Incident – Matthew Williams

TheCronianIncident

To celebrate the upcoming release of the final installment of The Formist series, we’re going back to where it all started in The Cronian Incident

Read on for details, excerpt, and a chance to win a signed copy of the book!

The Cronian Incident FINAL 150dpiThe Cronian Incident ( The Formist #1)

Publication Date: September 2017

Genre: Science Fiction

Jeremiah Ward was just another convict, a disgraced investigator who once worked the Martian beat, now serving his sentence in a mining colony on Mercury. When a member of a powerful faction goes missing on Titan, Ward is given an opportunity he cannot pass up. In exchange for investigating the disappearance of this figure, he gets a clean slate and a second chance.

But, the deeper Ward digs the more secrets he finds. Instead of investigating a missing person’s case he becomes embroiled in a centuries-old conspiracy and Ward comes to realize his one shot at redemption may cost him his life.

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Excerpt

Prologue

They stood two by two. In standard squad formation, moving onto their target area.

In front, Bern and Valeri stood, there arms held squarely at their sides. Durand could see that their hands were twitching. Valeri was attempting to hide it by crossing her arms and tapping out the rhythm of some unheard melody against her bicep. Bern however couldn’t decide what to do with his hands, and kept wiping them against his trouser legs.

Durand and Chayond were fortunate that way. In their hands, the equipment bags hung. Though relatively light, they were just burdensome enough to require both hands to carry them. They did not have to worry about idle hands or telltale signs of nervousness as they waited for the elevator to finish descending.

“Remember, no talking,” said Valeri, reminding them as the elevator came to a stop. The doors slid open to admit them to the station’s main hub. Bern nodded forward, and the four stepped out onto the platform.

Evening was now upon them, with several bright lights shining down from the station’s vaulted ceiling. Through the station’s dome, a thick grey haze was just visible. The faint traces of light reflected off of Saturn’s disc turned what would have been the black night into a deep, murky twilight.

The four of them were quickly swallowed up by the din of chatter, footsteps, and the sounds of a computerized voice making announcements in Anglish, Franz, Deutsch, Chin and Swahili.

The station was filled with hundreds of locals milling about, moving from one transit lane to another. Few paid them any attention as they walked through the crowds. Why should they? To onlookers, the group’s blue and orange coveralls designated them as maintenance staff. To all recording devices and sensors in the area, their ID tags also designed them as such.

Still, Chayond felt a tinge of panic every time the bag he carried rattled. None of their party would fare too well if they were stopped for inspection. Chayond felt himself looking at the few Gendarmes mixed in with the commuters out of the corner of his eye. If Bern saw him, she would certainly backhand him across the face. Of course, she would wait until they were no longer in public before doing so.

It seemed to take a terribly long time to cross the main floor. At the far end, they began to descend a flight of stairs, and Chayond felt a little better. The bag was rattling louder, luckily it was being drowned out by the whooshing noise of hypertrains coming and going inside their tubes. The dull, monotone computerized voice continued to announce the arrival and departure of trains, though it was becoming more difficult to hear. The noise was like a cushion that began to cloak their every move.

Valerni motioned to their left as they reached the bottom of the stairs. Commuter traffic continued to pour around them, which made maintaining their tight formation somewhat difficult. Still, they held in their two-by-two stance, moving towards the left track – and to the small door that led to the maintenance tunnel. No one followed them there. All the commuter traffic was drawn to the tubes and left what appeared to be a maintenance crew alone.

As soon as they were through the hatch, the noise stopped. The busy station was now sealed behind the pressure door. The only sounds now the gentle hissing of the tunnel’s pressure controls.  of course, Valeri’s commanding voice. Checking her chrono, she made a quick consult of their timetable.

“We’re on schedule,” she said. “Let’s keep it that way. Move out.”

The four collapsed into a single line, moving down the tight tunnel as quickly as they could. Durand threw the strap of his bag over his shoulder and Chayond did the same. Their steps became fast and heavy, their work boots striking hard against the metal grates that lined the floor. Heavy pipes and ducts controlling the settlements flow of fresh water and air whizzed by their heads. The high pressure and heat combined to make the going very uncomfortable.

Yet still, they moved. Rigid discipline and a clear purpose driving them onward. Until they reached their destination and set up, they could not relax.

When they finally came to the hatch that would admit them onto the platform that they wanted, they had all broken a good sweat. Only Valeri appeared to not be out of breath.

“Alright, pay attention because we don’t have time to dither.” Reaching into the pocket of her coveralls, she retrieved a small handheld. She held the transparent device up. Displayed on it was a single-frame. A man’s face.

“This is David Lee,” Valeri said. “He’s the Formist the Chandrasekhar’s sent on ahead to do their dirty work. Our intel says he’ll be travelling alone by the time he gets to the line. So that’s when we take him down.”

She tapped the screen. Lee’s image was replaced by a video feed of him standing with a woman. They stood close to each other, a degree of intimacy clearly implied by their body language.

“This is our contact. She is the one who provided us with Lee’s itinerary. According to her, Lee will be here at the time indicated, and he will be alone. However, if we find that they are together, then something’s gone wrong and we’ll need to take them both down. There can’t be any suspicion on her.”

“Who is she?” Durand asked.

Valeri shrugged. “Didn’t ask.  neither should you. All you need to know is, she’s not our target. If it comes down to it, we take them both down.  we leave her behind for the authorities to collect. Any other stupid questions?”

Durand was sufficiently shamed and shut up. Bern though had some thoughts on that score and offered them freely.

“Probably some just whore from the Yellow Light District. Point is, she’s a fucking patriot and gave us this information. So she’ll understand, I’m sure.”

All heads in the group nodded. A rumble shook the tube, indicating that a hypertrain was going by. It was nothing more than a passing tremor. No sound made it through the sealed pressure doors.

“That’ll be the 2115 to Cassini now,” she said, smiling. “Our Dr. Lee will be making the next one. Better suit up.”

Durand dropped his equipment bag on the ground, kneeling down to open it. Chayond did the same, placing his bag on the floor and separating the tabs on the seal. As Durand began removing their change of clothes, the others began to disrobe. The suits Durand passed out looked like something reptilian, scaly surfaces the same color as mercury. They were thin, no heavier than a stack of thermal blankets, with hoods at the top and small terminals on the left arms.

Valeri and Bern quickly became half-naked, their sweating frames glistening from the tube’s lighting. Quickly, they pulled the silver skins over their coveralls and began doing up all the clasps, sealing the suits around themselves and firing up the cells that powered them.

Durand tossed a suit aside for himself before handing one over to Chayond, who hesitated. His head was swimming from all the heat, the run had left him drained and full of endorphins. Still, he was aware enough to feel damn apprehensive. Accepting the suit seemed like a terrible step, one from which there was no turning back.

Durand noticed his hesitation. “Hey, you good?” he asked. Chayond glanced quickly in Valeri direction. She looked up from her suit to shoot him a look of disapproval and he quickly averted his eyes.

“Yeah, I’m good,” he replied, taking the suit in hand and unzipping his coveralls. Somehow, one look from Vslero was enough to silence any doubts, or enough to scare him into compliance.

A moment later, all four members of the team were suited up in their new vestments. Everything from their necks down was now covered in specialized material. Valeri pulled the last piece into place, pulling the hood up and covering her hair.

“Remember,” she admonished. “Make sure your sticks are charged just right. Too much, and his implants might rupture.  that’s the last thing we want.”

All heads nodded again. Chayond interpreted the mention of the sticks as an order to distribute them. Reaching down into the bag, he began pulling them out, one by one. Four slender truncheons, a small console on one side, contained a power indicator, an electrical port, and a few controls. He handed the first to Valeri, passed out the second and third, kept the fourth for himself.

Each team member inspected the sticks to ensure that they were set at exactly the right power level before sliding them neatly into the waistband of their outfits. Each stick connected with the suit’s internal power supply.

“Alright, let’s power them up,” ordered Valeri. “Let’s see if these things were worth the price.”

“Doubt that,” Bern said sarcastically. “ they still better work.”

As one, Bern, Durand and Chayond pulled the hoods up over their heads and engaged the suit’s power supply. Three low-frequency squeals sounded out in the tube, and where three men with silver skins stood, suddenly there were just three faces. The rest of their heads, like their bodies, were now cloaked in advanced stealth fields.

Valeri smiled. “Not bad.” She pulled her mask into place over her mouth and eyes and put her finger to the terminal on her arm. It took less than a second before she completely disappeared from view.

“How do I look?” she asked, her voice filtered and modulated by the mask.

“Like nothing at all,” replied Durand.

“Good.” She suddenly reappeared, removing the mask and hood. “Then be ready. If the target escapes, we may not get another chance. So make this one count.”

Available on Amazon

About the Author

Matthew Williams Headshot

Growing up in the 80s and 90s Matthew Williams was born in to science fiction. He enjoyed many of the infamous SF franchises of the time and read many of sci-fi’s most influential works. As an adult, Matt marvelled at those SF novels which stood the test of time, while making valuable observations of the human condition, and he decided to create his own novels.

As a professional writer for Universe Today, Matt is well-versed in many nerdy topics ranging from: spaceflight to terraforming, Earth sciences to physics, and the future of human space exploration. He has interviewed many of today’s top scientific minds and NASA personnel, and been a featured speaker at astronomy societies. His articles have appeared in such publications as Business Insider, Science Alert, Phys.org, HeroXPionicGizmodoFuturism and IO9.

Matthew S. Williams | Facebook | Twitter

Click HERE for a chance to win a signed copy of The Cronian Incident!

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Blog Tour: The Unadjusteds – Marisa Noelle*

Sixteen-year-old Silver Melody lives in a world where 80% of the population has modified their DNA. Known as the altereds, those people now possess enhancements like wings, tails, and increased strength or intelligence. Although Silver’s parents created the nanite pill used to deliver these genetic modifications, Silver is proud of her unadjusted state.

However, when the president declares all unadjusteds must take a nanite, Silver has no choice but to flee the city with her father and some friends to prevent the extinction of the unadjusteds.With Silver’s mother in prison for treason, Silver’s father is the unadjusteds’ only hope at finding a cure. But time is running out as Silver’s father is captured by the president’s almost immortal army. Vicious hellhounds are on Silver’s trail, and her only chance to recover her father involves teaming up with a new group of unlikely friends before all humanity is lost.

My thoughts:This was a high octane YA sci-fi thriller, set in a world where nanites can embue people with strange powers and abilities – mostly derived from animal DNA.Unfortunately instead of only using this new technology for good, to cure disease and benefit humanity, greed has caused many to go too far and it has caused corruption and harm. It’s also mutated some beyond human and turned them into disturbing hybrid creatures.Silver Melody’s parents are scientists and deeply involved in this new nanite tech, but also trying to find a way to reverse it. She is unadjusted, or so she believes. With a band of fellow outsiders she plans to bring down the corrupt President and rescue her parents.This was a fun, fast paced and engaging book, I liked Silver and her friends, a group of smart, determined young people, and the plot was intriguing and enjoyable.*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: Blood Metal Bone – Lindsay Cummings*

Her destiny was death. The shadows brought her back.

Wrongly accused of her brother’s murder, Sonara’s destiny was to die, sentenced to execution by her own mother. Punished and left for dead, the shadows have cursed her with a second life as a Shadowblood, cast out and hunted by society for her demon-like powers.

Now known as the Devil of the Deadlands, Sonara survives as a thief on the edge of society, fighting for survival on a quest to uncover what really happened to her brother and whether he is even dead at all…

My thoughts:

This was really interesting and clever, starting of as a typical fantasy novel, suddenly there’s a space ship and it’s like a completely different book. And such a good one.

I really enjoyed my first fantasy/sci-fi read of 2021 and thought the characters were brilliantly drawn and I cheered for Sonara and her crew as they took on an invading force and an ancient evil. Tremedously fun and with a wyvern and horse sidekick team too!

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Book Review: Machine – Elizabeth Bear*

Check out my thoughts on Ancestral Night

In this compelling and addictive novel set in the same universe as the critically acclaimed White Space series and perfect for fans of Karen Traviss and Ada Hoffman, a space station begins to unravel when a routine search and rescue mission returns after going dangerously awry.
Meet Doctor Jens.
She hasn’t had a decent cup of coffee in fifteen years. Her workday begins when she jumps out of perfectly good space ships and continues with developing treatments for sick alien species she’s never seen before. She loves her life. Even without the coffee.
But Dr. Jens is about to discover an astonishing mystery: two ships, one ancient and one new, locked in a deadly embrace. The crew is suffering from an unknown ailment and the shipmind is trapped in an inadequate body, much of her memory pared away.
Unfortunately, Dr. Jens can’t resist a mystery and she begins doing some digging. She has no idea that she’s about to discover horrifying and life-changing truths.
Written in Elizabeth Bear’s signature “rollicking, suspenseful, and sentimental” (Publishers Weekly) style, Machine is a fresh and electrifying space opera that you won’t be able to put down.

My thoughts:

This was really good, it started out as a pretty straightforward medical drama in space, then became a hostage situation, with a whole hospital being held up by a rogue virus infecting every AI that comes into contact with it.

As with Ancestral Night, the AIs are smart and a little sassy, the marvellous crime solving bug Goodlaw Cheeririlaq is back in their snazzy jacket, and there’s a new hero in Dr Jens, a woman who has to try to figure out her new patients, even though she’s not an AI doctor, and solve a mystery or two.

This was really enjoyable and gripped me the whole way through, the terrible crimes being secretly carried out in the hospital are shocking and justly need revealing, Jens is a really great character, her vulnerability and chronic pain condition hold her back slightly but she works around it and doesn’t let her apparent limitations stop her.

Thank you to Will at Gollancz for sending me a copy to review. Machine is available from all good bookshops (and evil ones I suppose!)

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Blog Tour: Gallowglass – S.J. Morden*


The year is 2069, and the earth is in flux. Whole nations are being wiped off the map by climate change. Desperate for new resources, the space race has exploded back into life.
Corporations seek ever greater profits off-world. They offer immense rewards to anyone who can claim space’s resources in their name. The bounty on a single asteroid rivals the GDP of entire countries, so every trick, legal or not, is used to win.
Jack, the scion of a shipping magnate, is desperate to escape earth and joins a team chasing down an asteroid. But the ship he’s on is full of desperate people – each one needing the riches claiming the asteroid will bring them, and they’re willing to do anything if it means getting there first.

Because in Space, there are no prizes for coming second. It’s all or nothing: riches beyond measure, or dying alone in the dark.

My thoughts:

This was really good once it got going. I enjoyed the author’s One Way, so I knew that once Jack got into space, the plot would be cracking along at a brilliant pace and would be so much more than it first seemed.

Jack is escaping from his uber wealthy parents, who are obsessed with living forever, determined to carve out something for himself, whatever that may be.

Earth is dying, climate refugees are desperate to find new home and one way to do that is to stake their claim on asteroids out in space, ideally ones rich in mining rights. You do this by sending out a gallowglass – they stake the claim and then hunker down in cyro-sleep to guard it, waiting for a crew like the one Jack joins to come and get them and their rock.

Out in space however, lots of things can go horribly wrong, as it is for Jack. The mismatched crew the captain has cobbled together struggle to get along and more than one of them has their own agenda.

Clever, inventive and quite dark, this had me hooked all the way through. Jack’s an interesting character, when everyone else wishes to get rich, he wants to leave that behind and just live his own life. Blending science fact with futuristic fiction, this is a smart space thriller with plenty of action and intrigue.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: Rejuvenation – Byddi Lee

Rejuvination

To celebrate the release of the final instalment in Byddi Lee’s gripping Dystopian trilogy, we’re going back to where it all started in Rejuvenation!

byddi-lee-rejuvenation-one-kindle-cover-400x600-1Rejuventation

Publication Date: March 23, 2020

Genre: Dystopian Sci-Fi

Publisher: Castrum Press

The Melter War has left the Earth’s surface devastated, leaving humanity to survive on what little land is left between the Scorch Zones and the rising oceans, where towering subscrapers dot the dystopian shore lines.

Bobbie Chan is a doctor caring for the ultra-elderly in one such subscraper when she notices a mysterious, new disease afflicting her patients; some show signs of age reversal before a catastrophic, and often fatal, cardiac arrest strikes.

Bobbie begins to wonder if she is witnessing a bio weapon in full force. A Melter attack? Are they destined to finish the war they started?

Bobbie begins a race against time to rescue the Rejuvenees and uncover their true enemy

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Byddi Makes the Leap to Sci-Fi

How Irish Legends Inspired A Science Fiction Trilogy About Getting Younger.

As I was growing up, the  Irish legends that captured my imagination most were not the daring-does of Cuchulainn – The Hound of Ulster nor the stories of Macha – the queen who gave her name to my home town Armagh. In fact, the ancient warriors and royalty didn’t interest me at all, but those stories that involved distorted ageing and extended longevity did. It was an indulgence of sorts to weave the essence of these stories into The Rejuvenation Trilogy.

Rejuvenation is set in a dystopian future. There are matter streamers to provide food, hovercrafts for transportation, and carebots to tend to the frail. Against this backdrop of technology, we see a society that is top-heavy with an aged population. People still yearn to be and stay young.

The Irish fairy tales have stood the test of time and inspire the children of that era, such as our main characters, Bobbie and Gracie, fraternal twins. Gracie suffers from a rapid ageing disease called Progeria and is particularly drawn to the stories of  Tír na nÓg, the Land of the Forever Young that’s far across the waves and can only be reached by a magic horse as she explains to Bobbie…

‘“I’m no angel,” Gracie said, grinning. “I’m one of the little people, a leprechaun! And I’m going to escape to Tír na nÓg.”

“To where?” Bobbie asked.

“The land of everlasting youth. Everyone is beautiful and young there, and when I go there, I’ll look just like you,” Gracie said. “But with black hair, like Daddy.”

“How do you know all this?”

“I read about it on the Internet.”

“Can I come?” Bobbie couldn’t imagine being anywhere without Gracie.

“Yes, but you’ll have to wait until when you’re old. Like me.” Gracie’s fuchsia pink dress reflected off her skin, giving her bare, veined scalp an ethereal glow.

“But you’re only nine. We’re the same age.”

“Yes, but I’m the one who’s a fairy, remember? I’ll watch over you from Tír na nÓg. Time passes slower there than it does in Armagh, so it will only feel like ten minutes to me before you’re there, too.”’

Excerpt from Rejuvenation Book 1

The Children of Lir is another example of a legend that tells of excessive ageing and longevity. Lir’s children are turned into swans by their stepmother and sent into exile for three hundred years. They returned to their home in Ireland and resumed human form – as three-hundred-year-old humans – then they died. I’m grossly paraphrasing, but nonetheless, it’s a tragic tale.

We find out early in Rejuvenation Book 1 that Gracie died at the age of 13 from her condition. Her death left a lasting effect on her twin sister Bobbie who, feeling she had acquired a special understanding of ageing because of Gracie, went on to become a geriatrician. In Rejuvenation Book 2, Bobbie uses the fairy tale of the Children of Lir to try to make sense of ageing and death in the real world, a challenge for her since she sees both daily in her job.

Other Irish fairy tales hold more promise, like the one about Fionn Mc Cool being tricked by the old witch, the Calliagh Berra on top of Slieve Gullion, the highest mountain in County Armagh. As the story goes, one day Fionn found a young woman crying by the lake at the top of the mountain. When he asked her why she said she’d dropped her gold ring into the lake. Being the hero he was, he jumped in after it. But the girl was the old witch who was jealous of her sister for being in love with Fionn. The witch had put a spell on the lake so that when Fionn came out, he had aged to become a withered old man with white hair. But Fionn’s followers made the witch reverse the spell, and he became young again.

The Rejuvenation Trilogy is all about regaining lost youth and its consequences. Bobbie’s most elderly patients contract a strange disease which proves fatal to some but others, including her Granny, survive and become younger, fitter and psychopathic!

I was drawn to the idea that eternal youth wasn’t exactly the be-all and end-all and wanted to explore the gifts that come with age. In a society that values the beauty of youth, that’s quite a challenge, but even the Irish legends will have us realise that the beauty of youth is only skin deep as in the story of Oisin, Fionn Mc Cool’s son.

As the story goes, Oisín falls in love with Niamh, a woman of the Otherworld. She takes him across the waves on a magic horse to Tír na nÓg. After what feels like three years to Oisín, he becomes homesick and wants to return to Ireland. Niamh warns him to stay on the magic horse and never to touch the ground. But when Oisín returns, he discovers that 300 years have passed in Ireland. He falls from the horse and instantly ages. As the years catch up with him, he quickly dies.

In Rejuvenation Book 1 this same legend is reflected in several instances of age catching up quickly on a youthful body and although this legend is not actually recounted, it forms the basis of some of Bobbie’s nightmares.

‘By the time Death carried Gracie to Tír na nÓg four years later, Bobbie had read scores of legends about the Land of the Forever Young. Alone in the bedroom, Bobbie had once shared with Gracie, she’d jolt awake after dreaming of her twin sister returning for her on a white horse, young and beautiful, her black hair billowing out behind her. Bobbie would reach for Gracie, but as their hands touched, Gracie’s hair would turn white, her skin would wrinkle, her body crumple as she died all over again from old age.’

Excerpt from Rejuvenation Book 1

I think ultimately the idea of folding the old fairly tales into a high-tech dystopian future is a metaphor for life – we can’t forge ahead and embrace the new and the vivacious unless we can carry with us and learn from the stories and wisdom from years gone by.

Purchase Rejuvenation or the Complete Trilogy Below!

Amazon UK | Audibke UKAmazonAudible | Castrum Press

About the Author

ByddiLee2020

Byddi Lee grew up in Armagh and moved to Belfast to study at Queen’s University. She has since lived in South Africa, Canada, California and Paris before returning to live in her hometown, Armagh.

Her Rejuvenation Trilogy, is published by Castrum Press and Rejuvenation Book One,  Book Two and Book Three all available now. Book One is also out in audiobook.

Sign up to Byddi’s newletter for more details of release dates.

She has published flash fiction, short stories and, in 2014, her novel, March to November.  Byddi has also co-written the play IMPACT – Armagh’s Train Disaster with Malachi Kelly and Tim Hanna. IMPACT was directed by Margey Quinn and staged by the Armagh Theatre Group in the Abbey Lane Theatre June 2019.

During the COVID 19 pandemic when all theatres were closed, Byddi teamed up with Malachi and Tim to write Zoomeo & Juliet and Social Bubble Toil & Trouble suitable for live performance delivered through Zoom, produced by Margery Quinn and performed by the Armagh Theatre Group.

Byddi is a co-founder of the spoken word event Flash Fiction Armagh and is co-editor of The Bramley – An Anthology of Flash Fiction Armagh.

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Blog Tour: Poleaxed – Peter Tyrer*

It is 1967. A mysterious disease appears in an English town. People fall down suddenly, poleaxed, and many die. Is it caused by a bacterium, a virus, a poison? Nobody knows, and top doctors squabble over its cause. But then two junior doctors and a young anthropology student, who has recovered from the disease, join together.

The three investigators continue their work to find out the cause of the disease, a virus whose worst effects are only shown in those who are very anxious. They think they have found the cause and the solution. But will they be in time?

This is a gripping dystopian tale, very much relevant to events unfolding today and written by Emeritus Professor of Community Psychiatry at Imperial College, London, Peter Tyrer whose long-standing interest in the connections between mental and physical health informed the novel.

My thoughts:

I seem to have read a lot of books recently about pandemics and diseases, real and imaginary, which considering this year’s stellar performance of These Are The End Times, seems to make some sense.

This book, written in 2018/19, is very interesting in that the infection is highly localised and the town takes the decision to close its borders and see if they can wait out the virus, while also continuing to look for both the origin and a treatment. This isn’t a new idea, famously a village in Derbyshire, Eyam, chose to completely cut itself off during an outbreak of plague in 1665, rather than risk spreading the Black Death beyond its borders.

What’s most interesting, and for me somewhat unnerving, is the idea that this virus, Poleaxe, affects people with underlying anxiety disorders far more seriously than anyone else. I have anxiety disorder and panic disorder, as well as depression, so were Poleaxe a real disease I’d be struck down very quickly and struggle to recover.

Luckily the protagonist of this novel, the very clever anthropology student Barbara, does recover and indeed identifies the origin of the virus and the link between anxiety and the more serious symptoms. This allows the health authorities to lift the quarantine and treat the afflicted.

Written by an expert psychiatrist lends a certain air of knowledge and expertise to the novel – if this was a real disease I know who I’d want working alongside the other doctors, someone who has a great understanding of the link between mental and physical health, a fact that has been thrown into sharp focus by the current pandemic and lockdown, but is often overlooked when treating medical conditions.

This book is both timely and also, thankfully, very much science fiction as opposed to fact, I hope.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Cover Reveal: Tripping the Multiverse – Alison Lyke

Cover Reveal Banner

I’m thrilled to share the cover of Alison Lyke’s upcoming release, Tripping the Multiverse! This is the first installment of an exciting new series!

Stay tuned for the book tour in January!

ttm front cover jpg

Tripping the Multiverse: Jade and Antigone #1

Expected Publication Date: January 21st, 2021

Genre: Science Fiction

As a science journalist, Jade has seen more than her fair share of peculiar oddities—none weirder than her socially inept fellow reporter Antigone. When the test of a teleporter using an electron collider goes awry, the two women find their world changed in subtle ways, with anomalies breaking out in their personal lives. Their increasingly unstable dimension gives Jadethe ability to shapeshift while Antigone can see portals into other worlds.

A fellow journalist who attended the experiment is trapped in another dimension and Jade and Antigone hold the key to saving him. Of course, their task is not just a simple rescue mission. Realizing they will continue to drift into increasingly stranger worlds until they straighten out the paradox, the women reluctantly agree to travel through the multiverse in search of a solution.

If you purchase the book prior to the publication date of January 21, 2021, they may use the promo code: PREORDER2020 to receive a 15% discount.
Pre-Order Here!

You can also pre-order on Amazon!

About the Author

Alison Lyke

I’m an author and an English and Communications professor from Rochester, NY. I’m an insatiable reader and a dedicated writer. I’ve spent many years honing my skills and I now enjoy helping others find and explore their own voices. I write fantasy and science fiction and I aim to captivate and inspire. I’ve written two published novels: a modern mythology titled Honey, which came out in 2013 and Forever People, a cyberpunk science fiction slated to come out in the spring of 2019. I also regularly contribute poetry and short stories to literary magazines.

Alison Lyke | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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Blog Tour: Fire Dancer – Ann Maxwell

FireDancer copy

Congratulations to author Ann Maxwell on the release of her novel, Fire Dancer! Read on for details, and excerpt and a chance to win a Kindle copy of the book!

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Fire Dancer: A Novel of the Concord Publication Date: November 10th, 2020 Genre: Science Fiction

Rheba and Kirtin are the last survivors of their homeworld, at the edges of the Concord, forgotten but rich in history and traditions. Rheba is a fire dancer, able to focus and manipulate vast amounts of energy through discipline and motion and form. Kirtin is her protector and mentor, training her in these skills and knowing that one day these energies may grow to consume her unless she masters her own emotions and the power she derives from them. In search of rumored other survivors like themselves, they set out amongst the worlds of the “civilized” Concord, finding that the presented superior and enlightened cultures they encounter conceal hypocrisies that assist even greater crimes. Entire civilizations built upon slavery and degradation are tolerated so long as they play the proper games of power and civility. Led by the promise of knowledge regarding one of her kin, Rheba and Kirtin are brought to Loo, a planet ruled by a hereditary empire of slavers and decadents. There, both of them are consigned to slave pits beneath the gleaming cities and palaces of the surface. Amongst the forgotten and cast-off, Rheba and Kirtin find others like themselves, stolen or abandoned by their homeworlds and left to languish here, subject to labors and appetites and whims of the planet’s rulers. But not everyone wants to remain a slave…

Excerpt

Onan was the most licentious planet in the Equality, if not the whole of the Concord itself. No activity was prohibited. As a result, the wealth of the Concord flowed down Onan’s gravity well—and stuck. Nontondondo, the sprawling city-spaceport, was a three-dimensional maze with walls of colored lightning, streets paved with hope and potholed by despair, and a decibel level that knew no ceiling.

“Kirtn!” Rheba shouted to the huge Bre’n walking beside her. “Can you see the Black Whole yet?”

Kirtn’s hands locked around Rheba’s waist. In an instant her lips were level with his ear.

She shouted again. “Can you see the casino?”

“Just a few more buildings,” he said against her ear.

Even Kirtn’s bass rumble had trouble competing with the din. He pursed his lips and whistled a fluting answer to her question in the whistle language of the Bre’ns. The sound was like a gem scintillating in the aural mud of Nontondondo. People stopped for an instant, staring around, but could find no obvious source for the beautiful sound.

All they saw was a tall humanoid with very short, fine coppery plush covering his muscular body, giving it the appearance and texture of velvet. On his head, the fur became wavy copper hair. A mask of metallic gold hair surrounded his eyes, emphasizing their yellow clarity. His mask, like the coppery plush on his body, was the mark of a healthy Bre’n.

Although Rheba looked small held against the Bre’n, she was above humanoid average in height. Her hair was gold and her eyes were an unusual cinnamon color that seemed to gather and concentrate light. Other than on her head and the median line of her torso, she had neither hair nor fur to interrupt the smooth brown flow of her body. Almost invisible beneath the skin of her hands were the whorls and intricate patterns of a young Senyas fire dancer.

Rheba slid down Kirtn’s body until she was standing on her own feet again. As she regained her balance, a man stumbled out of the crowd and grabbed her. He rubbed up against her back, bathing her in unpleasant odors and intentions. The patterns on her hands flared as she reached toward a dazzling electric advertisement, wove its energy, and gave it to the rude stranger. He leaped back like he had been burned.

And he had.

“I don’t think he’ll play with a fire dancer again,” Kirtn said in a satisfied voice.

He picked up the shaken man and lofted him onto a passing drunk cart. Then the Bre’n gathered up Rheba again and shouldered his way into the anteroom of the Black Whole. After the streets, the quiet was like a blessing. Kirtn smiled, showing slightly serrated teeth, bright and very hard.

“Not that he would’ve seen one before, or is likely to again.”

Rheba scratched the backs of her hands where the patterns had flared. Her hair shifted and moved, alive with the energy she had just called. Muttering the eighth discipline of Deva, she let both energy and anger drain out of her. She had come into this city willingly and so must abide by its customs, no matter how bizarre or insulting they might be to her.

“We should have taken out a license to murder,” she said in a mild voice.

Kirtn laughed. “We didn’t have enough money to buy a half-circle of silver, much less the whole circle of a licensed killer.”

“Don’t remind me. We could hardly afford to be licensed innocents.” Rheba grimaced at the mere 30 degrees of silver arc stuck to her shoulder. “Come, let’s find the man we came for and get off this festering planet.”

They had not taken three steps before a black-dressed casino employee approached them. His only decoration was a simple silver circle fastened on his shoulder. Kirtn and Rheba saw the man’s license at the same instant. When the man spoke, he had their attention.

“No furries allowed.”

Rheba blinked. “Furries?”

“That,” said the man, hooking a thumb at Kirtn, “is a furry. You’re a smoothie. Smoothies only at the Black Whole. If you don’t want to separate, try the Mink Trap down the street. They like perverts.”

Rheba’s long yellow hair stirred, though there was no breeze inside the Black Whole’s anteroom. Kirtn spoke a few rapid words in Senyas, native tongue of Senyasi and Bre’ns alike. “If we kill him, we’ll never get a chance to talk to Trader Jal.”

“I wasn’t going to kill him,” Rheba said in Senyas, smiling at the man with the silver circle who could not understand her words. “I was just going to singe his pride-and-joys.”

Kirtn winced. “Never mind. I’ll wait outside.”

She began to object, then shrugged. The last time they had bumped against local prejudices, she had been the one to wait outside. She couldn’t remember whether sex, color, number of digits or lack of fur had been at issue.

“I’ll make it as fast as I can,” she, said, her hand on Kirtn’s arm, stroking him. She took an uncomplicated pleasure from the softness of his fur. his strength and textures were her oldest memories, and her best. Like most akhenets, she had been raised by her Bre’n mentor. “I can understand a prejudice against smoothies,” she murmured, “but against furries? Impossible.”

Kirtn touched a fingertip to her nose. “Don’t find more trouble than you can set fire to, child.”

She smiled and turned toward the licensed employee. She spoke once again in Universal, the language of space. “Does this cesspool have a game called Chaos?”

“Yeah,” the man said. He flicked his narrow, thick fingernail against Rheba’s license. “It’s not a game for innocents.”

Rheba’s hair rippled. “Is that opinion or law?”

The man did not answer.

“Where’s the game?” she asked again, her voice clipped.

“Across the main casino, on the left. A big blue spiral galaxy.”

Rheba sidestepped around the man.

“I hope you lose your lower set of lips,” he said in a nasty voice as she passed him.

She walked quickly across the anteroom of the Black Whole, not trusting herself to answer the man’s crude comment. As she passed through the casino’s velvet force field, a babble of voices assaulted her. Throughout the immense, high-ceilinged room, bets were being made and paid in the Universal language—but gamblers exhorted personal gods in every tongue known to the Concord.

Rheba knew only three languages—Bre’n, Senyas, and Universal—and Kirtn was the only other being who knew the first two, so far as she knew. The babbling room made her feel terribly alone. One Senyas, one Bre’n. Only known survivors of the violent moment when Deva’s sun had built a bridge of fire between itself and its fifth planet.

One Senyas, one Bre’n.

One galaxy of strangers.

With an effort, she shut away the searing memory of extinction. She and Kirtn had survived. Surely others must also have survived. Somehow. Somewhere. She would find them, one by one, if it took all the centuries of her life.

Available for Kindle and at Barnes & Noble! About the Author 51siVClLxoL._UX250_ New York Times bestselling author Ann Maxwell, also known as A.E. Maxwell and Elizabeth Lowell, is an American writer. She has individually, and with co-author and husband Evan, written more than 50 novels and one non-fiction book. Her novels range from science fiction to historical fiction, and from romance to mystery to suspense.

Elizabeth Lowell | Facebook | Goodreads | Newsletter

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Book Tour Organized By: R&R Button R&R Book Tours

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Blog Tour: Unbroken Truth – Lukas Lundh*

Beneath the arcane Rustpeaks lies the city of Lansfyrd, where visibility is at an all-time low and airships rumble through the skies. Detective Lentsay “Len” Yoriya is a former homicide detective stuck at a burglary assignment as punishment for loving the wrong person. But when a xenophobic radio-shaman is murdered and the killers try to frame the city’s oppressed insectoids, Len sees a chance to prove her worth. Though high-profile murders are rarely uncomplicated.

In the city’s affluent quarters, Len’s partner Vli-Rana Talie works as a lector at the university, studying the history of a species that once ruled the world. As the temperature rises for her partner, Vli will soon realize that delving into history, that some would prefer was forgotten, will carry risks of its own. Especially when the ambitions of empires are affected.

Meanwhile, there is an election coming up, and the tension simmering in the city is reaching a
boiling point. Vli and Len must findwhat allies they can and face the powers that threaten their home.

History never ends, and unless its lessons are heeded what was once the past might become the present.

Buy

Lukas Lundh grew up around books and started writing in early childhood. He speaks English, Swedish and Japanese from living in New Zealand as a teen and studying for a year in Japan in early 20s.
He is educated in philosophy, game design, creative writing and is currently working on a history
degree.
Between reading course books which inspire history flash-fictions, Lukas writes everything in between space opera, fantasy steelpunk, and post-ap war dystopias.
His debut novel, a steelpunk spy thriller, Unbroken Truth, is available for pre-order. He doesn’t blog,
but he is active on twitter.

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My thoughts:

This was a fast paced crime thriller with a political edge, set in a city full of tension.

Len is a determined cop, racing against time to defuse racial tensions following the murder of a popular politician, a killing that frames an ethnic minority and stokes tension among the residents of Lansfyrd.

Her partner, Vli, is a post-grad lecturer at the university, where those same tensions are beginning to rise amongst the students, and Vli’s research may unearth further complications.

Despite being set in a dystopian other world, this feels very apt to our current situation. With racial tensions on the rise, lockdown, political rallies and riots, this could be Earth in 2020.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.