GREAT FANTASY NOVEL discovered

Just when I’ve almost despaired of finding a new favorite SF/F writer I stumble across one. Her name is Emily Croy Barker.

The book which introduced me to her is The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic. It’s available from several sources. See her web page to find one you prefer.

Excerpted from Amazon: “Nora Fischer’s dissertation is stalled and her boyfriend is about to marry another woman.  During a miserable weekend at a friend’s wedding, Nora wanders off and walks through a portal into a different world where she’s transformed from a drab grad student into a stunning beauty.  Before long, she has a set of glamorous new friends and her romance with gorgeous, masterful Raclin is heating up. It’s almost too good to be true.

Then the elegant veneer shatters. Nora’s new fantasy world turns darker, a fairy tale gone incredibly wrong. Making it here will take skills Nora never learned in graduate school. Her only real ally—and a reluctant one at that—is the magician Aruendiel, a grim, reclusive figure with a biting tongue and a shrouded past. And it will take her becoming Aruendiel’s student—and learning magic herself—to survive.”

Click on the image to read the first few chapters and to buy the book.

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JANE MEETS CAT PEOPLE

I’m halfway through Book 3 of the Space Orphan trilogy. At this point my hero/ine Jane meets the centaur-like cat people. Before she only knew them from the city they left behind 19,000 years ago inside an asteroid in the Belt. There is also a good deal about them in the two versions of the Galactic Encyclopedia which Earth has.

The idea for the cat people came from the terrific short story “Call me Joe” by classic SF writer Poul Anderson. It appeared in the April 1957 issue of Astounding Science Fiction magazine and provided the inspiration for the cover by artist Frank Kelly Freas seen below. (The issue is available through several Amazon third-party sellers.)

Other aliens similar to Earth animals were also inspirations, such as the Hoka people of SF writers Anderson and Gordon Dickson. My centaurs are not as muscular as Freas’s Joe. They are, however, just as strong and fast, being the recipients of thousands of years of genetic improvements.

You will come to know more about the cat centaurs in Book 3 of the Space Orphan trilogy.

Click image for more info on “Call Me Joe.”

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RESPONSIBLE GUN LAWS

I’m a gun owner and fan from way back. My first gun was a Winchester-like BB gun. The second I got when was I was 17 – a Colt .45 1911 pistol which I customized with Goncala Alves grips. I recently sold it to Gunworld.com as a trade-in on a Glock 19 pistol.

I also carried a pistol as a military policeman, and have experimented with sniper rifles at gun shows. All this and more experience shows up in my books. This includes my Super Olympian books where the heroine is a three-sport Olympic athlete – and a superhuman. And in the forthcoming The Star Woman, whose heroine is a Marine sniper – and another superhuman.

Some of my fellow gun enthusiasts carry our love of guns to silly heights, romancing them, overstating their usefulness, and resisting fanatically any attempt to regulate them. I’m an engineer. I deal in facts. Though I regularly practice at my favorite gun range, firingline.net, there are a few facts that only the fanatics would dispute.

  • Pepper spray is usually a more practical self-defense option than a gun. HERE are some pointers for those who want to buy them. I suggest three PS devices: one on you, one in your car, one in your home.
  • Talent, skill, and control are more important aspects of gun use than the weapon itself. A deadly shooter with a .22 long target pistol is more dangerous than an AR-15 “fun” shooter – or a drugged-out gangbanger.
  • No civilian has a use other than fun for a military-grade gun.

A responsible gun-lover and gun-owner owes it to keeping our right to bear arms to resist both the far-right and the far-left efforts to institute totally free or totally nonfree gun ownership. We can do this by pressuring the NRA to cease its efforts to totally resist RESPONSIBLE gun laws. And to join organizations such as Gun Owners for Responsible Ownership.

Click image for more info.

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LADY DEATH, of the Confederation Tales, now available

Some of you asked about my plans for my several books and series. Here they are for the next several months to a year.

Finish & publish part three of the Space Orphan series. This is slow going, as I must keep the ambience established by the first and then the second book. I must also extend the previous story arc, not just repeat what went before. And come to a satisfying conclusion to that arc.

The Space Orphan trilogy is part of the Confederation Tales series. The trilogy touches on some of the vast stretches of space and time of the interstellar milieu in which the Orphan takes place. The novelette Catching Ultrawoman gave a bit more detail about a smaller part of the milieu: the Human Interstellar Confederation. Lady Death gives more about the Confed. It also tells why Anna Prince became an Interstellar Guardian.

This doesn’t mean that I’ve abandoned the stories in the Shapechanger Tales series. I’m also working on The Twice-Dead Boy. Nearly done, it tells the tale of Roan Kinnison, born in the early days of the American Republic as Rhonda Kinney. An unusually wet L.A. spring washes open the caved-in earth above Pacific Palisades beach. It plummets him, an apparent seventeen-year old, into Santa Monica Bay a century after his second death. He enters SanMo high school. And meets an incognito Hwd movie star.

As to the last part of the trilogy begun with Shapechanger’s Birth and continued in Shapechanger’s Progress? Shapechanger’s Destiny is well along but slow going, as other books have taken priority. Will it be ever be available? Yes. But when? Sorry, I don’t know.

Click image to read a sample and to buy the novelette.

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Sequel – ATHENA’S BUSINESSES

Some characters stick in our minds after we’ve finished a story. Such is the case of Athena Sarah Mawusi Akwete Ocampo, the main character in my Athena’s Journey. I’ve been almost forced by my subconscious to write a second novelette about her. Maybe the Ring of Fire Press is a better fit for her stories than the Grantville Gazette.

If you’ve not encountered it, the RoF Press is a treat to explore. Not all the books in their catalog are to my taste, but several of them I really enjoyed. A few of them are below. Click on each image to learn more.

To read the story I’ve submitted to the Gazette click the following image.

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STORY submitted to 1632’s GRANTVILLE GAZETTE

I’m a huge fan of Eric Flint’s 1632 series of books. If you’ve not yet encountered it, I suggest you check out the first book. To read a sample and buy the book, click this image.

So far the series contains 40+ books and covers the years 1631-1637. It begins when a small city in Virginia in 21st Century America is accidentally sent back in time to Germany in the middle of the Thirty Years’ War. The involuntary emigrants husband their dwindling modern resources to survive. And use their ingenuity to recreate those modern resources to thrive.

The success of the series inspired much fanfic. Some of it was of high quality, good enough to include in an online ebook press called Grantville Gazette. This publishes an anthology every three months and pays writers trade publication rates.

I too committed fanfic: a novella in the 1632 universe titled Athena’s Journey. News of the city from the future would inevitable reach every part of the world. Including West Africa and the port city of El Mina.

Among other ears they reach those of Athena Sarah Mawusi Akwete Ocampo, the three-quarters-white one-quarter-black daughter of a Portuguese merchant. Athena grew up impatient with the European role her father wanted for her and became a legendary warrior. First doubting the stories she hears of the city from the future she comes to half-believe them. And sets out to discover the truth.

To read the story I’ve submitted to the Gazette click the following image.

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to: JEFF BEZOS, subject: LUNA CITY

I’m an aerospace software and systems engineer, working most recently at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and Boeing’s Phantom Works. I am now retired and spend much of each day writing, mostly fiction.

I am also one of many diverse professionals who study, think, and discuss how to colonize the Moon. Here are some ideas your own engineers may not have suggested to you.

BUILD WITH TELEROBOTS – Drones remotely operated from Earth are most cost effective. “Deaths” among them are not tragic, they need no air or water or food or habitats, they need not be returned home.

BUILD WITH PREFABBED PARTS – Construction on the Moon can be done faster and better by doing the hardest work here on Earth.

USE LOCAL MATERIALS – Lunar rocks and soil contain useful minerals which can be extracted in several ways. These include oxygen and the metals iron, calcium, aluminum, and magnesium.

USE VR/AR HEADSETS – “Vears” are an infant industry slowly ramping up to a big business. Remote operation of drones and viewing of the Moon by long-distance “tourists” is a way to give Earth-bound humans a better way of visiting the Moon.

Putting people on the Moon is a practical near-term goal. Putting them on Mars is not. It’s time to build a moon base, or better a moon city.

After the base or city is built it would be covered by a thin layer of dirt to protect it from meteorites and extremes of heat and cold. Artwork by Chris Butler, available in several different versions at his web site.

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The ORPHAN on the RED CARPET

News from the Orphan sequel front:

At 25 Jane Kuznetsov (the Orphan) has her first boy friend. This is normal for the people where she was born. They lived very long lives and matured much later. They might not marry and have children until they were 50 or 100 years old.

Her boyfriend is a good deal older and a celebrity in the entertainment industry. On occasion he treads various red carpets at such events as movie premieres, awards shows, and such events. Naturally Jane has to have nice outfits for such events. Here is one.

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SHUFFLE DANCE – a growing phenom

The Shuffle Dance was inspired partly by Michael Jackson’s Moonwalk. It began in Melbourne, Australia, in the ’90s and grew in Asia, including Malaysia, Thailand, Korea, Japan, and especially China. At the same time it was spreading to Europe and more slowly the US.

Here are a couple of videos that show it off. The first is of a Chinese grandfather and his very young daughters. I wish I could dance as well as they do!

The second video features Slovakian dancer Nicolette Paxi Paxianova performing to a mix which includes Alan Walker‘s hugely breakout hit “Faded.”

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WOMEN with SWORDS – hypnotic

The title says it all!

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