Saturday, December 20, 2014

Giveaway: HALF-RESURRECTION BLUES by Daniel Jose Older and Midwinter’s Eve Giveaway Hop

Half-Resurrection Blues - Daniel Jose Older

We have two copies of HALF-RESURRECTION BLUES by Daniel Jose Older up for giveaway for US addresses. It’s attached to the Midwinter’s Eve Giveaway Hop in celebration of the season. You will find more about the hop at the bottom of this page.

HALF-RESURRECTION BLUES is urban fantasy which includes a diverse set or characters.


Here’s more about the book:

Carlos Delacruz is one of the New York Council of the Dead’s most unusual agents—an inbetweener, partially resurrected from a death he barely recalls suffering, after a life that’s missing from his memory. He thinks he is one of a kind—until he encounters other entities walking the fine line between life and death.

One inbetweener is a sorcerer. He’s summoned a horde of implike ngks capable of eliminating spirits, and they’re spreading through the city like a plague. They’ve already taken out some of NYCOD’s finest, leaving Carlos desperate to stop their master before he opens up the entrada to the Underworld—which would destroy the balance between the living and the dead.

But in uncovering this man’s identity, Carlos confronts the truth of his own life—and death.…

Mass Market Paperback | 336  Pages | 6 Jan 2015 | NAL | Adult

DANIEL JOSE OLDER is the author of HALF-RESURRECTION BLUES (book one of the Bone Street Rumba urban fantasy series from Penguin's Roc Books) and the upcoming Young Adult novel Shadowshaper (Scholastic's Arthur A. Levine Books, 2015). Publishers Weekly hailed him as a "rising star of the genre" after the publication of his debut ghost noir collection, Salsa Nocturna. He co-edited the anthology Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History and guest edited the music issue of Crossed Genres. His short stories and essays have appeared in Tor.com, Salon, BuzzFeed, the New Haven Review, PANK, Apex and Strange Horizons and the anthologies Subversion and Mothership: Tales Of Afrofuturism And Beyond. Daniel's band Ghost Star gigs regularly around New York and he facilitates workshops on storytelling from an anti-oppressive power analysis. You can find his thoughts on writing, read dispatches from his decade-long career as an NYC paramedic and hear his music at ghoststar.net/, on youtube and @djolder on twitter.


midwinter hop

This giveaway is part of the Midwinter’s Eve Giveaway Hop which runs from December 21st to 31st. It’s hosted by Bookhounds and I Am A Reader Not A Writer. To access their blogs please see the top two listings within the linked blogs for the hop below. Or access Bookhounds’ blog by clicking on the badge to the right. To enter more giveaways at other blogs, link on the listed blogs in the linky below.

Please be a reader or follower of Layers of Thought to enter this giveaway. There are a number of ways that you can keep up-to-date on reviews, giveaways, author interviews, guest posts, and more.

Below are your choices on ways to follow.

Ways to “Follow”

  1. Facebook (For blog updates in your feed add me as a friend.)
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To enter this contest please fill out the Google form.

Now for the other blogs offering bookish giveaways in this hop. Happy holidays!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Incoming Books: December 12, 2014

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It’s our Incoming Books feature for December 12, 2014.

J by Howard Jacobson

Finalist for the 2014 Man Booker Prize.

Man Booker Prize–winner Howard Jacobson’s brilliant and profound new novel, J, “invites comparison with George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World” (Sunday Times, London). Set in a world where collective memory has vanished and the past is a dangerous country, not to be talked about or visited, J is a boldly inventive love story, both tender and terrifying.

Kevern Cohen doesn’t know why his father always drew two fingers across his lips when he said a word starting with a J. It wasn’t then, and isn’t now, the time or place to be asking questions. When the extravagantly beautiful Ailinn Solomons arrives in his village by a sea that laps no other shore, Kevern is instantly drawn to her. Although mistrustful by nature, the two become linked as if they were meant for each other. Together, they form a refuge from the commonplace brutality that is the legacy of a historic catastrophe shrouded in suspicion, denial, and apology, simply referred to as WHAT HAPPENED, IF IT HAPPENED. To Ailinn’s guardian, Esme Nussbaum, Ailinn and Kevern are fragile shoots of hopefulness. As this unusual pair’s actions draw them into ever-increasing danger, Esme is determined to keep them together—whatever the cost.

In this stunning, evocative, and terribly heartbreaking work, where one couple’s love affair could have shattering consequences for the human race, Howard Jacobson gathers his prodigious gifts for the crowning achievement of a remarkable career.

Random House | October 14, 2014 | Hardcover | Pages: 352

The Flight of the Silvers - Daniel Price

The Flight of the Silvers by Daniel Price

Without warning, the world comes to an end for Hannah and Amanda Given. The sky looms frigid white. The electricity falters. Airplanes everywhere crash to the ground. But the Givens are saved by mysterious strangers, three fearsome and beautiful beings who force a plain silver bracelet onto each sister’s wrist. Within moments, the sky comes down in a crushing sheet of light and everything around them is gone.

Shielded from the devastation by their silver adornments, the Givens suddenly find themselves elsewhere, a strange new Earth where restaurants move through the air like flying saucers and the fabric of time is manipulated by common household appliances.

Soon Hannah and Amanda are joined by four other survivors from their world—a mordant cartoonist, a shy teenage girl, a brilliant young Australian, and a troubled ex-prodigy. Hunted by enemies they never knew they had and afflicted with temporal abilities they never wanted, the sisters and their companions begin a cross-country journey to find the one man who can save them—before time runs out.

Hardcover | 608 Pages | 4 Feb 2014 | Blue Rider Press | Adult

Dead But Not Forgotten - ed Harris and Kelner

Dead But Not Forgotten edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner

There’s more to Sookie Stackhouse than you ever knew…

The #1 New York Times bestselling Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris spawned a hit TV show and captivated fans around the world—including other authors. Now this group of writers, specifically chosen by Charlaine, pays tribute to “the southern, mind-reading belle who gets mixed up in the world of vampires and magical creatures” (The Kansas City Star) with a collection of fifteen all-new stories about your favorite residents of Bon Temps.

With contributions by Rachel Caine, Dana Cameron, Bill Crider, MaryJanice Davidson, Leigh Evans, Christopher Golden, Nancy Holder, Dean James, Toni L. P. Kelner, Jonathan Maberry, Jeff Mariotte, Seanan McGuire, Suzanne McLeod, Nicole Peeler, Jeanne C. Stein.

Hardcover | 352  Pages | 25 Nov 2014 | Ace | Adult

Closer to Home - Mercedes Lackey

Closer to Home by Mercedes Lackey (Book One of Herald Spy)

Mags was once an enslaved orphan living a harsh life in the mines, until the King’s Own Herald discovered his talent and trained him as a spy. Now a Herald in his own right, at the newly established Heralds’ Collegium, Mags has found a supportive family, including his Companion Dallen.

Although normally a Herald in his first year of Whites would be sent off on circuit, Mags is needed close to home for his abilities as a spy and his powerful Mindspeech gift. There is a secret, treacherous plot within the royal court to destroy the Heralds. The situation becomes dire after the life of Mags’ mentor, King’s Own Nikolas, is imperiled. His daughter Amily is chosen as the new King’s Own, a complicated and dangerous job that is made more so by this perilous time. Can Mags and Amily save the court, the Heralds, and the Collegium itself?

Hardcover | 368  Pages | Hardcover | 7 Oct 2014 | DAW | Adult

Night Shift - Singh, Andrews, Shearin, Vane

Night Shift by Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, Lisa Sherin, and Milla Vane

Four masters of urban fantasy and paranormal romance plunge readers into the dangerous, captivating world unearthed beyond the dark…

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh delivers a smoldering story with Secrets at Midnight, as the scent of Bastien Smith’s elusive lover ignites a possessiveness in him that’s as feral as it is ecstatic. And now that he’s found his mate, he’ll do anything to keep her.

In #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews’ novella, Magic Steals, when people start going missing, shapeshifting tigress Dali Harimau and jaguar shifter Jim Shrapshire must uncover the truth about the mysterious creatures responsible.

From Milla Vane—a warrior princess must tame The Beast of Blackmoor to earn a place among her people. But she quickly discovers that the beast isn’t a monster, but a barbarian warrior who intends to do some taming himself.

It’s seer Makenna Frazier’s first day on the job at Supernatural Protection and Investigations, and her first assignment is more than she bargained for when bodyguard duty for a leprechaun prince’s bachelor party goes every which way but right in national bestselling author Lisa Shearin’s Lucky Charms.

Mass Market Paperback | 384  Pages | 25 Nov 2014 | Berkley | Adult

The Bodies We Wear - Jeyn Roberts

The Bodies We Wear by Jenyn Roberts

A streetwise girl trains to take on a gang of drug dealers and avenge her best friend’s death in this thriller for fans of Scott Westerfeld and Robin Wasserman.

People say when you take Heam, your body momentarily dies and you catch a glimpse of heaven. Faye was only eleven when dealers forced Heam on her and her best friend, Christian. But Faye didn’t glimpse heaven—she saw hell. And Christian died.

Now Faye spends her days hiding her secret from the kids at school, and her nights training to take revenge on the men who destroyed her life and murdered her best friend. But life never goes the way we think it will. When a mysterious young man named Chael appears, Faye's plan suddenly gets a lot more complicated. Chael seems to know everything about her, including her past. But too many secrets start tearing her world apart: trouble at school, with the police, and with the people she thought might be her friends. Even Gazer, her guardian, fears she's become too obsessed with vengeance. Love and death. Will Faye overcome her desires, or will her quest for revenge consume her?

Random House | Hardcover | September 23, 2014 | Pages: 368 | Young Adult

Last Plane to Heaven - Jay Lake

Last Plane to Heaven by Jay Lake

Last Plane to Heaven is the final and definitive short story collection of award-winning SF author Jay Lake, author of Green, Endurance, and Kalimpura.

Long before he was a novelist, SF writer Jay Lake, was an acclaimed writer of short stories.  In Last Plane to Heaven, Lake has assembled thirty-two of the best of them. Aliens and angels fill these pages, from the title story, a hard-edged and breathtaking look at how a real alien visitor might be received, to the savage truth of “The Cancer Catechisms.” Here are more than thirty short stories written by a master of the form, science fiction and fantasy both.

This collection features an original introduction by Gene Wolfe.

Tor Books | September 2014 | Hardcover | 320 pages

The Collected Stories of Frank Herbert

The Collected Stories of Frank Herbert by Frank Herbert

Frank Herbert, the New York Times bestselling author of Dune, is one of the most celebrated and commercially successful science fiction writers of all time. But while best known for originating the character of Paul Atreides and the desert world of Arrakis, Herbert was also a prolific writer of short fiction. His stories were published individually in numerous pulps and anthologies spanning decades, but never collected. Until now.

Frank Herbert: Collected Stories is the most complete collection of Herbert’s short fiction ever assembled—thirty-seven stories originally published between 1952 and 1979, plus one story, “The Daddy Box,” that has never been appeared before.

Tor Books | November 2014 | Hardcover | 704 pages

Copperhead - Tina Connolly

Copperhead by Tina Connolly

Set in an alternate version of early 1900s England, Copperhead is the sequel to Tina Connolly's stunning historical fantasy debut.

Helen Huntingdon is beautiful—so beautiful she has to wear an iron mask.

Six months ago her sister Jane uncovered a fey plot to take over the city. Too late for Helen, who opted for fey beauty in her face—and now has to cover her face with iron so she won’t be taken over, her personality erased by the bodiless fey.

Not that Helen would mind that some days. Stuck in a marriage with the wealthy and controlling Alistair, she lives at the edges of her life, secretly helping Jane remove the dangerous fey beauty from the wealthy society women who paid for it. But when the chancy procedure turns deadly, Jane goes missing—and is implicated in a murder.

Meanwhile, Alistair’s influential clique Copperhead—whose emblem is the poisonous copperhead hydra—is out to restore humans to their “rightful” place, even to the point of destroying the dwarvven who have always been allies.

Helen is determined to find her missing sister, as well as continue the good fight against the fey. But when that pits her against her own husband—and when she meets an enigmatic young revolutionary—she’s pushed to discover how far she’ll bend society’s rules to do what’s right. It may be more than her beauty at stake. It may be her honor...and her heart.

Tor Books | September 2014 | Trade Paperback | 336 pages

Twenty First Century Science Fiction - ed Hartwell, Hayden

21st Century Science Fiction edited by David Hartwell and Patrick Neilson Haydon

Twenty-First Century Science Fiction is an enormous anthology of short stories—close to 250,000 words—edited by two of the most prestigious and award-winning editors in the SF field and featuring recent stories from some of science fiction’s greatest up-and-coming authors.

David Hartwell and Patrick Nielsen Hayden have long been recognized as two of the most skilled and trusted arbiters of the field, but Twenty-First Century Science Fiction presents fans’ first opportunities to see what their considerable talents come up with together, and also to get a unique perspective on what’s coming next in the science fiction field.

The anthology includes authors ranging from bestselling and established favorites to incandescent new talents including Paolo Bacigalupi, Cory Doctorow, Catherynne M. Valente, John Scalzi, Jo Walton, Charles Stross, Elizabeth Bear, and Peter Watts, and the stories selected include winners and nominees of all of the science fiction field’s major awards.

One of Publishers Weekly's Best Science Fiction Books of 2013

Tor Books | September 2014 | Trade Paperback | 576 pages

The Cusanus Game - Wolfgang Jeschke

The Cusanus Game by Wolfgang Jeschke

Biologist Domenica Ligrina fears her planet is dying. She might be right.

An atomic disaster near the French-German border has contaminated Northern Europe with radioactivity. Economic and political calamities are destroying the whole planet. Human DNA is mutating, plant species are going extinct, and scientists are feverishly working on possible solutions. It becomes increasingly apparent that the key to future salvation lies in the past. In 2052 a secret research facility in the Vatican is recruiting scientists for a mission to restore the flora of the irradiated territories. The institute claims to have time travel. When Domenica’s sometime-lover tells her that he knows her future but that she must decide her own fate, she enlists despite his ambiguous warning. 

The Middle Ages hold Domenica spellbound. She immerses herself in the mysteries, puzzles, and peculiarities of a culture foreign to her, though she risks changing the past with effects far more disastrous than radiation poisoning. Perhaps there is more than one Domenica, and more than one catastrophe

In the tradition of Stanislaw Lem and Philip K. Dick, Wolfgang Jeschke's The Cusanus Game is a novel of future disaster in Europe by the grand master of German science fiction.

Tor Books | September 2014 | Trade Paperback | 544 pages

Hawk - Steven Brust

Hawk by Steven Brust (Vlad #14)

Years ago, Vlad Taltos came to make his way as a human amidst the impossibly tall, fantastically long-lived natives of the Dragaeran Empire. He joined the Jhereg, the Dragaeran House (of which there are seventeen) that handles the Empire's vices: gambling, rackets, organized crime. He became a professional assassin. He was good at it.

But that was then, before Vlad and the Jhereg became mortal enemies.

For years, Vlad has run from one end of the Empire to the other, avoiding the Jhereg assassins who pursue him. Now, finally, he's back in the imperial capital where his family and friends are. He means to stay there this time. Whatever happens. And whatever it takes.
Hawk is the latest in Steven Brust's New York Times bestselling Vlad Taltos series.

Tor Books | October 2014 | Hardcover | 320 pages

Afterparty - Daryle Gregory

Afterparty by Daryl Gregory

It begins in Toronto, in the years after the smart drug revolution. Any high school student with a chemjet and internet connection can download recipes and print drugs, or invent them. A seventeen-year-old street girl finds God through a new brain-altering drug called Numinous, used as a sacrament by a new Church that preys on the underclass. But she is arrested and put into detention, and without the drug, commits suicide.

Lyda Rose, another patient in that detention facility, has a dark secret: she was one of the original scientists who developed the drug. With the help of an ex-government agent and an imaginary, drug-induced doctor, Lyda sets out to find the other three survivors of the five who made the Numinous in a quest to set things right.

A mind-bending and violent chase across Canada and the US, Daryl Gregory's Afterparty is a last chance to save civilization, or die trying.

Tor Books | April 2014 | Hardcover | 304 pages

Tides of Maritinia - Warren Hammond

The Tides of Maritinia by Warren Hammond

Maritinia is at the far edge of the Empire, a planet with little economic value in the Sire’s sphere of influence. 

And it’s just rebelled.

The people of Maritinia believe the Empire will not care that they’ve broken free. But the Empire is built on the belief that if an insignificant planet can revolt, then other, more important planets might follow suit.

So the Empire sends an agent to Maritinia with a mission: assassinate and replace one of the conspirators, and do enough to sow discord that when the soldiers do land, any opposition will be quickly crushed.

Thus Jakob finds himself immersed in the inner circle of the madman who led the rebellion. A raw recruit with only his political officer—a separate consciousness inserted into his brain—to speak with, Jakob is out of his element as an operative. And while he falls deeper into the conspiracy, he begins to question everything: the despotic admiral in charge of the coup, his feelings for a native woman, and—most troublingly—whether he still agrees with the will of the Sire.

Harper Voyager Impulse | 02/12/2014 | Ebook

Christopher's Diary Secrets of Foxworth - V.C. Andrews

Christopher’s Diary: Secrets of Foxworth by V.C. Andrews

Jealousy, tragedy, survival, and revenge—the discovery of Christopher’s diary in the ruins of Foxworth Hall brings new secrets of the Dollanganger family to light and obsesses a new generation. With Flowers in the Attic and Petals on the Wind both now major Lifetime TV events, this first new addition to the Dollanganger story in nearly thirty years is a timely look at the events in the attic—from teenage Christopher’s point of view.

Christopher Dollanganger was fourteen when he and his younger siblings—Cathy and the twins, Cory and Carrie—were locked away in the attic of Foxworth Hall, prisoners of their mother’s greedy inheritance scheme. For three long years he kept hope alive for the sake of the others. But the shocking truth about how their ordeal affected him was always kept hidden—until now.

Pocket Books | 352 pages | October 2014 | Mass Market Paperback

Crooked River - Valerie Geary

Crooked River by Valerie Geary

With the inventiveness and emotional power of Promise Not to Tell, The Death of Bees, and After Her, a powerful literary debut about family and friendship, good and evil, grief and forgiveness.

He is not evil. I am not good.

We are the same: broken and put back together again.

Still grieving the sudden death of their mother, Sam and her younger sister Ollie McAlister move from the comforts of Eugene to rural Oregon to live in a meadow in a teepee under the stars with Bear, their beekeeper father. But soon after they arrive, a young woman is found dead floating in Crooked River, and the police arrest their eccentric father for the murder.

Fifteen-year-old Sam knows that Bear is not a killer, even though the evidence points to his guilt. Unwilling to accept that her father could have hurt anyone, Sam embarks on a desperate hunt to save him and keep her damaged family together.

I see things no one else does.

I see them there and wish I didn’t. I want to tell and can’t.

Ollie, too, knows that Bear is innocent. The Shimmering have told her so. One followed her home from her mom’s funeral and refuses to leave. Now, another is following Sam. Both spirits warn Ollie: the real killer is out there, closer and more dangerous than either girl can imagine.

Told in Sam and Ollie’s vibrant voices, Crooked River is a family story, a coming of age story, a ghost story, and a psychological mystery that will touch reader’s hearts and keep them gripped until the final thrilling page.

William Morrow | 10/14/2014 | Hardcover | Pages: 336

Flesh and Blodd - Patricia Cornwell

Flesh and Blood by Patricia Cornwell

It’s Dr. Kay Scarpetta’s birthday, and she’s about to head to Miami for a vacation with Benton Wesley, her FBI profiler husband, when she notices seven pennies on a wall behind their Cambridge house. Is this a kids’ game? If so, why are all of the coins dated 1981 and so shiny they could be newly minted? Her cellphone rings, and Detective Pete Marino tells her there’s been a homicide five minutes away. A high school music teacher has been shot with uncanny precision as he unloaded groceries from his car. No one has heard or seen a thing.

In this 22nd Scarpetta novel, the master forensic sleuth finds herself in the unsettling pursuit of a serial sniper who leaves no incriminating evidence except fragments of copper. The shots seem impossible, yet they are so perfect they cause instant death. The victims appear to have had nothing in common, and there is no pattern to indicate where the killer will strike next. First New Jersey, then Massachusetts, and then the murky depths off the coast of South Florida, where Scarpetta investigates a shipwreck, looking for answers that only she can discover and analyze. And it is there that she comes face to face with shocking evidence that implicates her techno genius niece, Lucy, Scarpetta’s own flesh and blood.

William Morrow | 11/11/2014 | Pages: 384 | ARC Edition

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Review: AN IRANIAN METAMORPHOSIS by Mana Neyestani

An Iranian Metamorphasis - Mana Neyestani

Review by John for An Iranian Metamorphosis by Mana Neyestani. 

John’s quick take:   A wonderful autobiographical graphic novel detailing the Kafkaesque story of Iranian cartoonist Mana Neyestani, as he goes from idealistic writer, to detainee in the feared Iranian prison system, to homeless fugitive and refugee.

John’s description:    Neyestani was a children’s cartoonist working for an Iranian newspaper. Despite the increasingly radical nature of the government he felt safe as he contributed to the leisure section of the paper and not the political section. But one of his innocent cartoons inadvertently sparks tensions with some Azerbaijanis in the Islamic Republic, who feel insulted as a cockroach in the story uses an Azeri word. In a tense political climate, tensions lead to demonstrations lead to riots, and the Iranian government needs someone to blame. Neyestani and his editor are called in for questioning.

After a Kafkaesque series of events they find themselves detained indefinitely in Iran’s horrendous prison system and then placed in solitary confinement. Eventually he is unexpectedly released – albeit on a temporary basis. Fearing for his future, Neyestani and his wife flee the country and travel through Dubai, Turkey, Malaysia and China, trying to find some form of freedom and a place they can call home. But they find life as refugees with no legal status is almost as stressful as the life they have left behind.

John’s thoughts:    This is a powerful and eye-opening story, that is told with the help of some excellent illustrations and plenty of dark humor. You get an insider’s view of some of the complex political, cultural, ethnic and authoritarian issues within the Islamic Republic – and it is not a pretty picture.

Neyestani is put through an absurd series of events, and throughout the story draws some parallel’s with Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, even using a cockroach as a theme that runs through the story. He goes through his own transformation from a young easy-going idealistic writer, to a beleaguered and downtrodden prisoner, to a fearful and anxious fugitive. The absurdities are almost hilarious; but this really happened.

I’d rate this book four stars and thoroughly recommend it to anyone who likes intense autobiographies or who wants to better understand what it is like to live in a radical and authoritarian state. And don’t be put off by the fact that this is a graphic novel – I think that the format actually allowed the author to enhance the story-telling.


Mana Neyestani (born 1973, in Tehran) is an Iranian cartoonist and illustrator for economic, intellectual, political, cultural, and professional magazines. He is particularly known for his work for the newspaper Zan and Persian language Radio Zamaneh. He is the recipient of the Cartoonists Rights Network International award for courage in editorial cartooning, 2010. He now lives in France.

See excerpt on Words Without Borders.

Softcover | 200 pages | Uncivilized Books | October 2014

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Excerpt: TIDES OF MARITINIA by Warren Hammond

Tides of Maritinia - Warren Hammond

We have an excerpt of the first chapter for Tides of Maritinia by Warren Hammond. It’s science fiction.

There is also a current giveaway for Tides of Maritinia here on the blog if you care to enter.


Chapter 1

I was an assassin.

And a virgin.

I didn’t mean to say I’d never had sex; stabbing flesh with flesh was the best kind of stabbing there was.

I was a virgin because I hadn’t knifed for real. Never put blade to skin and loosed a river of blood. Never sliced through muscles and organs. Never drove a blade deep to the core.

Never put my lips to the flame and blew out another’s soul.

Never until Maritinia.

***

Kneeling on the restaurant’s rooftop, I scanned the watery horizon until I spotted a few slivered strokes of brown against the endless sprawl of rolling emerald and gold. The boats came from the Empire’s Ministry, sunlight glinting off five domes at the horizon’s edge.

This was the last flotilla of the afternoon. He would be on one of those boats. My target. Colonel Drake Kell.

My throat was dry. Strange that it could get so dry on a world that was nothing but water. I tried to tell myself it wasn’t fear. But it was.

I wiped sweat from my forehead. Again. Pol must have noticed. "You need to relax, Jakob. You’ve trained for this."

"I know," I replied, my words traveling down the little channel in my thoughts. That was how I communicated with the consciousness living inside my skull. Pol was what I called him. Short for Political Officer.

"You’re ready for this," he said.

I sucked in a deep, calming breath and tried to believe he was right. He should know. He’d been through this before. Countless times. For centuries, he—or one of his many duplicate consciousnesses—had been coaching operatives like me. More than a coach, though, he was a companion and a comrade. A confidant. A source of strength.

No way I could do this without him.

Crouching to stay hidden, I moved away from the wall, shoes crunching on broken tile. From the corner of my eye, I spotted a crab disappearing under a roof shingle. This planet was infested with the damn things.

A few more steps, and I’d moved far enough that nobody would see me if they looked up from the quay. I stood straight and stretched my arms to the cloudless sky, muscles gleefully unknotting.

I paced back and forth. Had to get the blood pumping. Get the circulation circulating.

Feeling refreshed, I moved back to the whitewashed wall, dropped back down to my knees, and checked for crabs before propping my elbows on the stone.

Chin resting in my right hand, I looked to the east. The flotilla was closer but still a long ways off. "You see how slow they move, Pol?"

Of course he did. He saw through my eyes and heard through my ears. "You must be patient."

"How can they stand to move so slow? How do they ever get anything done?"

"You know they have no choice."

I knew. The Sire’s wisdom had been drilled into me all my life. I was from Korda, home world of the Sire. A world at the center of an empire of ten thousand worlds.

I’d traveled a long way to get to Maritinia, an ocean-covered planet on the farthest fringe of the Outermost Ring. Like all the other worlds in the Outermost Ring, it was too far from the Empire’s Core to be controlled at gunpoint. The Empire was far too vast to station armies and fleets in every corner.

A more clever solution was required: population control by means of technology control.

For the Maritinian people, that meant no technology. None at all. No plastics or metals. No electricity. No computers or robots or engines. Nothing beyond wheel, pulley, and lever.

Assert technological control and with it came political control. Such was the wisdom of the Sire.

"But look at them, Pol," I said with a grin. "Couldn’t we just slip them a couple outboard motors?"

"You say that because you’re impatient. The Sire’s wisdom is long-term. Besides, they have the squids."

Yes. They had the squiddies. I supposed that was better than paddling. Not much faster, though.

A small contingent of roughly one hundred of the Empire’s finest soldiers and administrators could manage a tech-restricted world like this one. It led to a remarkably stable system. It had worked since the Empire’s founding three thousand years ago.

But not anymore. Not here. Maritinia had gone rogue.

And one of my mission’s numerous goals was to find out why.

But first the traitor had to die.

If only those boats would hurry up. Infuriating things moved like drugged snails.

The waiting was the worst part. So much nerve-wracking, hair-pulling, crazymaking time to fuss and worry. Fourteen months since the Eyes and Ears of the Empire gave me my orders. Fourteen months. Maritinia was that far.

But those fourteen months were the easy part—I was training. I was doing. I’d made landfall eight days ago, though. Eight days with nothing to do but wait. And watch the tide go in and out. And think.

A sharp pinch made me jerk my elbow away from the wall. I rubbed the sore spot and looked down to see a pair of pincers retreating under a stone. Damn crabs got me again.

"You got too close. You have to be more careful."

"Oh, there’s a helpful nugget. I wish you could feel pain, Pol. I really do."

I unbuttoned my sleeve and reached inside to rub the skin near my elbow. "I hate this place."

I missed Korda. Illustrious home of the Sire. A civilized world. We’d tamed that fickle Mother Nature millennia ago. Smothered her by blanketing the globe with so many cities that they’d merged into one enormous metropolis that wrapped the entire planet in stone and steel. It was a beautiful place. A testament to the engineering skills of the Empire.

Looking to the setting sun, seeing the swaths of pink and purple sweeping the sky, I supposed this place had some natural appeal. But as far as I was concerned, it was the kind of appeal best appreciated in a painting.

Turning my gaze eastward, I saw that the flotilla of skiffs was finally getting close. Wouldn’t be much longer now.

I felt the tension in my gut, springs winding tighter and tighter.

To distract myself, I turned my attention to a pair of barges coasting in from the north. They rode low in the emerald water, their holds pregnant with kelp. Gliding to a stop, the barges were boarded by sweat-soaked Jebyl dockhands, who began the tough work of wrestling sopping bails of kelp down bamboo ramps to the pier, where woolly mammoths flapped their ears while awaiting their cargo.

I always knew that life in the Outermost Ring was different, but this world, with its winds and rains, and its rotten-fish stench, and its disfigured beggars, and barefoot children was so … so … crude.

At times, I wondered if the Empire should even bother retaking this planet. But all the ten thousand worlds served their purpose. The Sire smiled upon those who contributed, no matter how small. How these people could’ve shunned Him, I didn’t know.

The sun dropped below the watery horizon, the cool of dusk already on the air. Me, I was still sweating.

Sun departed, the rolling swells of the sea had lost their sparkle, and emerald water faded to a mosslike green. The golden kelp fields could hardly be called golden anymore. More like brown mustard now. And the domes of the Empire’s Ministry in the distance had lost their luster, brilliant silver dimmed down to the dull gray of concrete.

It was as if the sun had pilfered this world’s only riches on its way out.

Only the skyscreens still shone brightly, the stern-faced Admiral Dii Mnai—the self-appointed ruler of Free Maritinia—looking down on Maringua, his capital city. The man was a mystery to us. After seizing control, he’d severed communication with the rest of the Empire, and we’d not had much information on him beforehand. For a world like Maritinia, there had never seemed a need.

The voice came from deep inside my head. "Jakob? You’re going to miss the colonel."

I jerked my eyes back to the docks. "I know. I know." Eyes on the docks.

"Do you see him?" asked Pol.

I did. Colonel Kell was easy to spot, his walking pace seemingly twice as fast as anybody else’s. Of course, to me his bustling stride was normal. Kell was from Korda just as I was, his internal metronome forever swinging at a citified tempo. I watched him and his two guards move along the quay, coming in my direction.

"Are you ready, Jakob?"

Dread welled up from deep inside. Brittle nerves felt ready to snap. But I swallowed hard and answered in the affirmative. I can do this, I told myself. I can.

My knees creaked and cracked as I stepped across roof tiles and down a set of stairs that led to a meandering marketplace. I strolled past the first two fish stalls before turning right and exiting onto the quay just in time to fall in step about ten feet behind the colonel and his guards.

Kell moved with authority, head up, shoulders square, each step perfectly placed. His bootheels clacked sharply on the stone, precisely the way you’d expect of a lifelong military officer, one who clearly still knew how to handle himself. He was a real man, this Kell, a decorated veteran of the Secession Skirmishes, commander of dozens of ops, a true leader, and later a diplomat.

I was no match for Kell. My training wasn’t good enough or long enough. What in Sire’s name had I gotten myself into?

Until fourteen months ago, I was just an Analyst Second Class, a fancy title for a simple bureaucrat. A pastry-eating, coffee-and-cream-drinking, clock-punching pencil pusher complete with a wardrobe full of nothing but dark-toned suits that needed to be let out an inch per year.

A lifelong slacker foolishly trying to live up to Daddy’s expectations. I was a pretender. A fraud …

"I wouldn’t get too close, Jakob."

"Right." I slowed down, taking one step for every two of my hyper heartbeats. Letting Kell reel out a ways, I allowed the crowd to swallow every bit of him except for his cap, which bobbed regularly into view.

From experience, I knew early evening was a busy time on the quay. Tethered boats would take on supplies. Wheelbarrows full of fish would head for the markets, eel tails hanging over the edges. Herds of mammoth would be shepherded into their stables by gangs of young boys adept at the most deaf-making whistling I’d ever heard.

But tonight all that commotion was invisible to me.

The only thing I could see was the traitor’s cap.

The only thing I could hear was the insistent hammer of my heart.

The time was near. Time to do the job I was sent to do.

Assassinate the colonel.

Nobody could see me do it. Nobody could ever find his body. Because once he was dead, I was going to take his place.

Meet the new Colonel Drake Kell.


About Warren Hammond: Warren grew up in the Hudson River Valley of New York State. Upon obtaining his teaching degree from the University at Albany, he moved to Colorado, and settled in Denver where he can often be found typing away at one of the local coffee shops.

Warren is known for his gritty, futuristic KOP series. By taking the best of classic detective noir, and reinventing it on a destitute colony world, Warren has created these uniquely dark tales of murder, corruption and redemption. KOP Killer won the 2012 Colorado Book Award for best mystery.

Warren's latest novel, Tides of Maritinia, released December of 2014. His first book independent of the KOP series, Tides is a spy novel set in a science fictional world.

Always eager to see new places, Warren has traveled extensively. Whether it’s wildlife viewing in exotic locales like Botswana and the Galapagos Islands, or trekking in the Himalayas, he's always up for a new adventure.  www.warrenhammond.net

Friday, November 21, 2014

New Release: THE COLLECTED STORIES OF FRANK HERBERT

The Collected Stories of Frank Herbert

Just released a few days ago is this exciting short story collection for science fiction lovers – The Collected Stories of Frank Herbert.


Frank Herbert, the New York Times bestselling author of Dune, is one of the most celebrated and commercially successful science fiction writers of all time. But while best known for originating the character of Paul Atreides and the desert world of Arrakis, Herbert was also a prolific writer of short fiction. His stories were published individually in numerous pulps and anthologies spanning decades, but never collected. Until now.

Frank Herbert: Collected Stories is the most complete collection of Herbert’s short fiction ever assembled—thirty-seven stories originally published between 1952 and 1979, plus one story, “The Daddy Box,” that has never been appeared before.

FRANK HERBERT (1920-1986) was the Hugo and Nebula Award–winning creator of the Dune saga, and the New York Times bestselling author of the first five novels in the series, including Dune and Children of Dune.

Tor Books | November 2014 | Hardcover | 704 pages | $29.99

Pick up a copy at your favorite local independent book store!

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