Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Book Impressions - Recidivist Paradox by Mike Freeman

This is the third book in the author's 'Contact' series and like the previous two books it didn't disappoint. It's a blend of military high tech action, strategy and scientific exploration. Of the three facets the action dominates the story and while the tactics involved are similar for the engagements they are written with an immediate and engaging style. The action is fast paced and illustrates some interesting possibilities for future combat.

This also sets the tone for the book as a whole. It's comprised of mainly short and punchy chapters that seem a little frantic at first but I soon adapted and enjoyed the furious pace. The strategy is the least active element of the story and mostly provides a framework for the rest of the story. It is more developed than the previous books so I'm expecting this to expand further in the next - which I've already bought!

The action and strategy is well written but for me the biggest strength of the story is the exploration of alien technology and there's some fascinating ideas here. I'd love the book to have more of a focus on this aspect, but it provides enough to keep me interested.

So if you're a fan of military sci-fi, but with an undertone of scientific thought then this is a book, and indeed a series well worth checking out.

Two enemies are one...

Abbott turns the human civilizations against each other as more ships are consumed by the unstoppable Diss. The dwindling Alliance survivors struggle to learn more of the mysterious Plash and its transcendental technologies – desperate to find a way to combat the invulnerable Diss before the unrelenting Talmas hunts them down.

Ultimately, someone must confront Abbott face to face.

RECIDIVIST PARADOX is a hard hitting space opera/ scifi adventure. It is the THIRD book in the Contact series.

Rated [R]. Violence, sex, profanity.
US English. 131,500 words

Click here to buy Recidivist Paradox from Amazon (and it's a fine sci-fi adventure)

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Tuesday Tease - The Dark Victorian: Risen by Elizabeth Watasin

This week's Tuesday Tease is provided by Elizabeth Watasin from her her novel 'The Dark Victorian: Risen'. I read this a while back and enjoyed, and something fans of Victorian era horror/dark fantasy with a dash of steampunk will enjoy:

Click on image to buy from Amazon

Dark Victorian: Risen
by Elizabeth Watasin

The narrow alleys of Whitechapel Market were busy; frightened animals were being driven underground to be slaughtered in basements, their fresh dung caking the street. In the stalls lining the small street, butchers were hanging all manner of raw, dark meat, the cuts and portions unidentifiable. They laid out tripe. Women with babies bartered loudly with the sellers.

“Ha ha! Road kill,” Jim said, twisting in Art’s hand to look at the mysterious meat of one stall. Art paused in her walk to take in the odd phrase.

“There’s a bobby! He’ll know where the deed was done,” Jim said, turning in her hand again. Art took a breath and set aside her question. Her lack of understanding of some of Jim’s queer words could be due to lost memory, she thought. She cut a path through a pack of running street boys and approached the policeman laconically talking to a fish fryer.

Minutes later she was standing among other spectators who’d come to gawk at the alley wall where the cat meat man had met his end. Some of the blood had been cleansed; otherwise there was nothing to look at but the bit of walk where Culver Drury skinned his cats.

Some young men jostled Art and she firmly deterred a sly hand entering the folds of her dress with the handle of her walking stick. The pickpocket smoothly withdrew with his accomplices.

“Such a loss!” Jim said loudly as he stared at the alley wall. “I can just imagine that innocent and poor man’s horrible end. And for no good reason!”

“I ’eartily disagree,” an old ragged woman said from her window behind them. She had a clear view of the alley. “Drury was a vicious li’l brute. Yew’ll find no tears shed for the likes of ’im.”

“Oh, come now.” Art turned so that Jim could look at the woman. “Does anyone deserve to have their meat kill them?”

“If you’d seen ’ow he did it you’d say same,” she said darkly. “They weren’t mere meat to ’im.”

“Then who spoke to him last,” Jim asked in seriousness. “Who was here when it happened?”

The woman made to answer when her head tilted back. Her eyelids fluttered. Then a toothless smile broke upon her lined face.

“Mary ’ad a little lamb,” she said pleasantly. “Fleece all white with snow. And ev’where that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go. I h’idn’t see anyone, sir.”

Art sensed something; a fleeting brush that passed like shadow between them and the woman. Though she still faced the window, she felt as if the shadow swung her around. Art shook her head to get her bearings.

“Thank you, madam. Art, a token for her help.”

Art placed a few coins in the old woman’s eager hand.

As they walked away, curious boys broke from the murder scene spectators and followed them.

“Something happened,” Art said to Jim.

“Good! You’ve your senses. Gin dimmed Billy’s. The woman back there had been mesmerized, and you felt a bit of the black spell still on her.”

“I felt turned around. Myself and my thoughts.”

“Think of how a bobby must have felt. Not sure why we didn’t get a whiff of necromancy. Must’ve gone poof with the second death of the cats.”

“You those Secret Inspectors?” a grinning boy next to Art suddenly asked. “You goin’ to catch the warlock raisin’ them killer animals?”

“No, we’re going to ask him to tea! Maybe he’ll bring back my dear beloved doggie!” Jim said.

“Nick Blackheart would’ve ’ad him by now! The Blackheart would’ve chopped ’is ’ead off! Whoosh!” said the ragged boy on the other side of Art. He cut the air with an imaginary sword.

“The old Nick is good, but we’re taking care of this one!” Jim said.

Art paused when they arrived at a crossway that branched into three other alleys. She looked down at the boys tolerantly as they ran around them and whooped.

“The Secret Men ’ave nothin’ on the Blackheart!” one boy scoffed.

“Blackheart, Blackheart, Blackheart!” they chanted. They laughed and ran.

“Ar! The Nick will always be more popular! Go watch some poor cow get pole axed, you little rascals!” Jim yelled after them.

“Where to now, Friend?” Art asked.

“The murdered teacher’s,” Jim sighed. “For we need to know what was resurrected that’s not an animal.”

Art sobered and scrutinized her surroundings. She saw nothing but the laundry lines of the poor who lived in the little alley. If she reached a main thoroughfare she might remember where Stepney Green was. She stepped beneath the dangling black stockings and wet shirts and followed her nose for the market.

“Friend, who is the Blackheart?” she asked.

Though Jim had no features Art felt he looked at her aghast.

“You don’t know?” he said incredulously.

“Perhaps I never read penny dreadfuls.”

“Nick Blackheart’s not a penny dreadful hero or villain. She’s real.”

“She?” Art said. The Blackheart was becoming more peculiar by the minute.

“The latest Nick is. I believe she’s the fifth. And very good at it too, been at it five years. But she’s not been seen for months. Any of this giving you a ring?”

“A ring?” Art said in bafflement. “No, Friend.”

“Fall made a mistake with your memories! It’s essential you know this! Father Christmas?”

“Yes,” Art said.

“Punch and Judy?”


“Arr! That Fall. I’ll give you the beginning. Never mind, I’ll give you the whole of it. Black arts in England had its time to grow. And be used foolishly. The first Nick Blackheart appeared around 1840, I believe, riding out to rid the countryside of supernatural muck gone amok. He became the monster killer. Was at it a good while and when he died his name and legacy was passed on; tricorne, mask, cloak, silver pistols and all. Dashing fellow. But the supernatural is not impressed by dashing. Nick after Nick came and each, in some horrifying fashion, went. And even with a Blackheart on duty it was not possible for every threat to be defeated. Thus it was when the fourth Blackheart perished and the plague of Devil Dogs nearly wiped out half the East End that Prince Albert decided evil must be harnessed in England’s service to fight evil. And so the Secret Commission was born.”

“If there’s no sixth Blackheart the fifth must still be alive.”

“Let’s hope so. She first appeared on that big black horse of hers when the Devil Dogs were about to overrun and devour all of London. Drove them back in the—ha ha!—nick of time. Road kill for everyone! The poor ate heartily that night.”

Art wasn’t amused. Jim’s very odd way of speaking seemed further evidence of her lack of memory and the realisation of how much she didn’t know disturbed her.

Jim continued, “While we agents were being created—and expiring faster than a Nick—the Blackheart rode on, dispatching horrors straightaway to hell. Truly an efficient woman. And dashing. I’ve never seen her myself. Would be nice when she returns, I’m due for a holiday.”

Art ceased walking.

Something near was giving off a sensation. She felt it like a faraway lamp seen in the dark, but one that burned blackness not light and bloomed tendrils of subtle stench. Yet while the sensation made her skin crawl, it felt as familiar as the electrified eldritch energy she had awoken in at the Secret Commission.

“Hm,” Jim murmured. “He’s here.”

Art moved swiftly under the laundry lines.

Click here to buy The Dark Victorian: Risen from Amazon

About the Author:

Elizabeth Watasin is the acclaimed author of the Gothic steampunk series The Dark Victorian, The Elle Black Penny Dreads, and the creator/artist of the indie comics series Charm School, which was nominated for a Gaylactic Spectrum Award. A twenty year veteran of animation and comics, her credits include thirteen feature films, such as Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, and The Princess and the Frog, and writing for Disney Adventures magazine. She lives in Los Angeles with her black cat named Draw, busy bringing readers uncanny heroines in shilling shockers, epic fantasy adventures, and paranormal detective tales.

Follow the news of her latest projects at A-Girl Studio.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Guest Post on Pinnacle Editorial Blog

I've provided a guest post on Alex Roddie's Pinnacle Editorial blog about the ambiguity of language. You can read the post here:

If you're in the market for an editor then why not get give him a shout?

July Short Fiction Contest Winners

July's short fiction contest was the busiest one so far with over eighty entries. As you can imagine that made selecting the winners the hardest of the all the contest so far! It's taken me two days to read them all and then reduce the entries to a short list and then the final three. The standard of entries was very high and I'd like to thank everyone who entered there are some truly amazing stories in the entries.

Unfortunately there can be only three winners, although I have selected a few others which I will be featuring in the Sunday Story over the next few weeks so keep your eyes open for those. They might not have made the final three but they are excellent stories.

Today's post however is about the three winning entries and deserving winners they are, so without further delay here are the winners:

  • First prize of a £50 Amazon gift card or PayPal prize goes to Harrison Cutts for his story 'The Mysteries of the Manifold Man'
  • Second prize of a £20 Amazon gift card or PayPal prize goes to David Haynes for his story 'The Truth'
  • Third prize of a £10 Amazon gift card or PayPal prize goes to Andrew Orton for his story 'He Does Not Want to Die'
Congratulations to the winners, their stories are an excellent read. Thanks to everyone who entered and thanks to everyone who has helped spread trhe word about this contest. Please continue to do so as I'm sure you'll agree these stories deserve to be read.

And now enjoy the winning stories:

The Mysteries of the Manifold Man
by Harrison Cutts

‘You don’t understand the Manifold Man;
Don’t know what he sees with those eyes made of glass.
He’s sitting and watching the world going by
And watching the long ages pass.’
21st Century Proverb

Sometimes, they snigger in corners, the huddled masses, laughing at the Manifold Man, out in the cold. Sometimes, they pity his glassy eyes that can never smile; they wonder, in their quieter moments, if that gaping mouth has ever spoken the simplest of words. 
“I love you.”
“Nice day, isn’t it?”
“Where were you when the bombs came down?” 

The urchins in ragged scraps of cloth swarm about him when the winter subsides; they wipe his glassy eyes of their icicle tears and their small white hands free the snows from the thick folds of his own clothes. He is a friend to some, always there; he always listens as they pour out their troubles to his motionless form. He never judges them, never speaks, but they know he listens. He is a terror to others, and they sit by their bedsides as the fires die for the night, watching him watching them. If they can’t see him in the street, he’s under their beds, in the dark of their corners, coming to get them. 

“Don’t stay out tonight,” their tired mothers say, “the Manifold Man will get you.”
“But he never moves,” they say back. Hoping they’re right. 

And as they watch him from shattered windows, or throng around firelights that keep the night at bay, they do not understand the Manifold Man. What he has seen. What he has done. Who he is, and what he was. It does not matter to them. 

To them, he is a symbol, a grim reminder of the day the bombs came and the fire fell from the sky. He is an icon, proof that all can stand the test of time. A comfort by day to one lonely child, a terror at night to another. The older ones remember; he was there before they were, he will be there long after they’re gone. Has he always been there? They close the shutters, some afraid, some inspired. He is eternal; whether he brings fear or faith, he will always do so. 

What does he see through those reflecting eyes, in the glare of the flames and the cool of the moon? The man who never moves, never speaks, does he see at all? 

And the days come and go, and winters and summers blend into one. Stars move in the sky, new constellations rise and fall. Rock turns to dust turns to sand in the wind, and a thousand, a million, new faces flash past the Manifold Man. Still, he sits, motionless. Sitting and watching the world going by.

With long-dead eyes.

The Truth
by David Haynes

They said it was out there somewhere. They said it tip toed through the wasted ruin that was once called earth and whistled a merry tune.  And when The Truth winked with its one good eye, you better get the hell out of the way.
The Truth, that's what they called it. 
I call it something else. 

Five of us set out. The Sons of Men they called us, for the fate of all mankind rested on our over-burdened and weary shoulders. 
'Go find The Truth and bring it back to us,' they whispered. 'Find it and set us free.'
But how do you find something if you don't know what it is you're looking for? How do you find something that doesn't want to be found?
And should never be found.

We searched. We followed our brief and we looked. We got down on our god-dam hands and knees and looked under every stinking corpse until we could taste their rotting flesh on our tongues.
And then The Truth found us. 

Like I said, when The Truth tips you a wink you better run because it won't wink twice. But we didn't run, not the first time anyway, we just stared. What else were we supposed to do?

What Jonesy was thinking I'll never know but he didn't even scream when the windows on his mask filled with blood. His own beautiful blood. 
He never made a sound when his body betrayed him and The Truth ripped his guts apart, inch by bloody inch.

We ran then. We ran and we didn't stop until our lungs burned with the festering air we gulped down with each choking breath. 
But when you go looking for something that should never be found, it has a nasty habit of finding you. 

One by one we fell. One by eviscerated one.

Now only I am left. The last of the so called Sons of Men. 
And the ones who sought The Truth no longer know why they desired it so. 
And I no longer care. 

I shall run until my last breath. I shall run until my legs can no longer bear my weight. But it will not be forever. I know this.
When The Truth is so terrible, so unbearable, that you cant think straight, you can either wink right back at it and pucker up for a big old kiss, or you can run. You can run.

But it will find you and when it does...

He Does Not Want to Die
by Andrew Orton

He does not want to die.

He hears their voices.  They are coming.

He stands alone on the front line, his comrades mercilessly gunned down on the fields of war.  There is no-one left to support him, no last minute reprieve; no-one to continue the fight or to save his life.  The enemy approaches, guns blazing.  He is doomed.  He does not want to die.

They are without mercy.  They stand against everything he believes in: the ultimate freedoms of humanitarian love versus the cold, hard logic of death and power.  Here, in the treacherous battlefields of a deserted no-man’s land, the two sides converge: bone and sinew meet metal and plastic; human body in conflict with armoured war machine.  And they are winning.

They are unstoppable.  They swarmed his defences in an hour, wiping out his brothers-in-arms and leaders, warriors of the highest order.  And now he stands alone, awaiting death.  The war is lost.  There is nothing left save a desolate world.  He does not want to die.  He is no commander, nor ruler: he is but one soldier of the front line.  He is the only line.  He does not want to die.

It is said that when facing death, your life flashes before your eyes; but not his.  So focused is he on his task, his training has taken over, and though survival is not an option, he knows he does not want to die.  He is the last of his people, the others wiped out by these vicious, relentless killing machines, enjoying the destruction they deal out.  He almost admires their power.

Their energy weapons are getting closer.  They desire to kill him.  He does not want to die.  Extensive training and conditioning suggest suicide as the only option; take as many of them with him as possible.  But he has broken his conditioning.  He does not want to die.  He retreats.

They had once seemed under control, these monsters.  The scientists back home created a virus only partial to their composition.  It was futile.  They survive everything thrown at them.  Here they were held by his people for experimentation, rather than destroyed as animals as would now have seemed sensible.  Here they grew tired of their captors, incensed at their imprisonment.  And here, they fought back.

They are coming.  Their machines of war move ever closer, the low hum increasing, as he prepares his weapon in defence.  He cannot move away quick enough.  He does not want to die.  He has retreated, something that would get him killed if his superiors were alive to see it.  He turns at a sound behind him.

They are here.  With a thought impulse to his gun arm he charges up his weapon and aims it at his enemy.  It is futile.

He is the Last Robot in existence.  The humans are coming for him.  He does not want to die.

Tales of the Imp - The Morning After the Night Before

The latest drabble in the Tales of the Imp series has been posted in the Indie book Bargains newsletter (visit www.indie-book-bargains to sign up for a daily drabble and Kindle bargains). If you've not read the other drabbles in the series then you can find them all here:

And if you want to read the Imp's origin story then you'll find it in in the Off the KUF Volume One anthology, check it out on Amazon here:

And now what has the diminutive devil been up too...

The Morning After the Night Before

I floated on cloud nine. Naturally I felt exhausted, but in a good way. It wasn’t my first time, but I’d never been much of a ladies man. For the first time I’d made love rather than simply having sex.

And in so many different positions as well.

I grinned with joy and later I hoped to return for another evening of delightful discovery. My love had finally found its physical counterpart. This was really it and she most definitely the only woman for me.

“Nice work!” The Imp wore a smile of his own. “And now onto the next.”

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