Sylvain Neuvel’s Giant Debut

By Carl Slaughter: With over 500 4- and 5-star Amazon reviews, thumbs up from NPR, Kirkus, Red Rising’s Pierce Brown, and Wayward Pine’s Blake Crouch, plus comparisons to The Martian and World War Z, debut author Sylvain Neuvel launched his Themis File series with Sleeping Giants. Waking Gods followed in April 2017.

SLEEPING GIANTS
By Sylvain Neuvel

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

PRAISE FOR SLEEPING GIANTS

  • “As high-concept as it is, Sleeping Giants is a thriller through and through. . . . Not only is Sleeping Giants one of the most promising series kickoffs in recent memory, it’s a smart demonstration of how science fiction can honor its traditions and reverse-engineer them at the same time.”—NPR
  • “A remarkable debut . . . Reminiscent of Max Brooks’s World War Z, the story’s format effectively builds suspense.”—Library Journal (debut of the month)
  • “This stellar debut novel . . . masterfully blends together elements of sci-fi, political thriller and apocalyptic fiction. . . . A page-turner of the highest order.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
  •  “Neuvel weaves a complex tapestry with ancient machinery buried in the Earth, shadow governments, and geopolitical conflicts. But the most surprising thing about the book may just be how compelling the central characters are in the midst of these larger-than-life concepts. . . . I can’t stop thinking about it.”—Chicago Review of Books
  • “First-time novelist Sylvain Neuvel does a bold, splashy cannonball off the high dive with Sleeping Giants. It bursts at the seams with big ideas and the questions they spawn—How much human life is worth sacrificing in the pursuit of scientific progress? Can humanity be trusted with weapons of ultimate destruction? And the biggest: Are we alone? But all that really matters is that this book is a sheer blast from start to finish. I haven’t had this much fun reading in ages.”—Blake Crouch, author of Dark Matter and the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy
  • “Reminiscent of The Martian and World War Z, Sleeping Giants is a luminous conspiracy yarn that shoots for (and lands among) the stars.”—Pierce Brown, New York Times bestselling author of Red Rising

WAKING GODS

As a child, Rose Franklin made an astonishing discovery: a giant metallic hand, buried deep within the earth. As an adult, she’s dedicated her brilliant scientific career to solving the mystery that began that fateful day: Why was a titanic robot of unknown origin buried in pieces around the world? Years of investigation have produced intriguing answers—and even more perplexing questions. But the truth is closer than ever before when a second robot, more massive than the first, materializes and lashes out with deadly force.

Now humankind faces a nightmare invasion scenario made real, as more colossal machines touch down across the globe. But Rose and her team at the Earth Defense Corps refuse to surrender. They can turn the tide if they can unlock the last secrets of an advanced alien technology. The greatest weapon humanity wields is knowledge in a do-or-die battle to inherit the Earth . . . and maybe even the stars.

PRAISE FOR WAKING GODS

  • “Kick-ass, one-on-one robot action combines with mind-bending scientific and philosophical speculation. Series science-fiction fans will enjoy this follow-up filled with unexpected revelations and a surprise finale.”—Booklist
  • “Pure, unadulterated literary escapism featuring giant killer robots and the looming end of mankind. In a word: unputdownable.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

A. G. Riddle’s Future Medical Thrillers

A. G. Riddle

By Carl Slaughter: Pandemic by A.G. Riddle will be released May 15, 2017.  Pandemic is the first novel in a new series, Extinction Files. Genome, the sequel to Pandemic, is set for November 2017.

A.G. Riddle is the author of the phenomenally popular Atlantis Gene. We last reported that Atlantis Gene had 13,000 Amazon reviews.  Now the figure is up to 14,000.  Most speculative fiction novels get less than 500 reviews on Amazon.

PANDEMIC

In Africa, a mysterious outbreak spreads quickly. Teams from the CDC and WHO respond, but they soon learn that there is more to the epidemic than they believed. It may be simply the beginning of a global experiment–one that will change the human race forever.

A hundred miles north of Alaska, an American Coast Guard vessel discovers a sunken submarine at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. It has no national identification and doesn’t match the records of any known vessel. Deep within, researchers find evidence of a scientific experiment that will alter our very understanding of the human race.

In Atlanta, Dr. Peyton Shaw is awakened by the phone call she has dreaded for years. As the CDC’s leading epidemiologist, she’s among the first responders to outbreaks around the world. It’s a lonely and dangerous job, but it’s her life–and she’s good at it. This time, she may have met her match.

In Kenya, an Ebola-like pathogen has infected two Americans. One lies at death’s door. With the clock ticking, Peyton assembles her team and joins personnel from the Kenyan Ministry of Health and the WHO. What they find in the remote village is beyond their worst fears. As she traces the origin of the pathogen, Peyton begins to believe that there is more to this outbreak–that it may be merely the opening act in a conspiracy with far reaching consequences.

In Berlin, Desmond Hughes awakens in a hotel room with no memory of how he got there or who he is. On the floor, he finds a dead security guard from an international pharmaceutical company. His only clue leads him to Peyton Shaw–a woman who seems to know him, but refuses to tell him how. With the police searching the city for him, Desmond desperately tries to piece together what happened to him. To his shock and horror, he learns that he may be involved in causing the outbreak–and could hold the only key to stopping it.

As the pathogen spreads around the world, Peyton and Desmond race to unravel the conspiracy behind the pandemic–and uncover secrets some want to keep buried.

GENOME

The truth was discovered thirty years ago, almost by accident. Dr. Paul Kraus had spent his entire career searching for what he called humanity’s lost tribes–human ancestors who had gone extinct. When Kraus compared the DNA samples of the lost tribes with our own, he found a pattern of changes: a code. At the time, the technology didn’t exist to unravel what it meant. To protect the secret, Keller hid his work and disappeared. Now the technology exists to finally understand the mysterious code buried in the human genome, but finding the pieces of Keller’s research is more dangerous than anyone imagined.

Dr. Peyton Shaw and her mother have obtained part of Kraus’s research–and a cryptic message that could lead to the remaining pieces. They believe his work is the key to stopping a global conspiracy–and an event that will change humanity forever.

The ultimate secret, buried in the human genome, will change our very understanding of what it means to be human. For Peyton, finding it may come at an incredible price. She must weigh the lives of strangers against those she loves: Desmond Hughes and her mother. With time running out, Peyton makes a fateful choice–one that can never be undone.

Elaine Isaak’s Dark Apostle Series

By Carl Slaughter: Elaine Isaak’s fourth novel in her Dark Apostle series, Elisha Mancer, came out in February in 2017 from DAW under the name E.C. Ambrose.  Isaak’s international thriller, Bone Guard One: the Mongol’s Coffin, came out April 22.  She has completed the manuscript for a Chinese epic historical fantasy novel.  The research for the manuscript led to Bone Guard One.

ELISHA BARBER

England in the fourteenth century: a land of poverty and opulence, prayer and plague…witchcraft and necromancy.

As a child, Elisha witnessed the burning of a witch outside of London, and saw her transformed into an angel at the moment of her death, though all around him denied this vision. He swore that the next time he might have the chance to bind an angel’s wounds, he would be ready. And so he became a barber surgeon, at the lowest ranks of the medical profession, following the only healer’s path available to a peasant’s son.

Elisha Barber is good at his work, but skill alone cannot protect him. In a single catastrophic day, Elisha’s attempt to deliver his brother’s child leaves his family ruined, and Elisha himself accused of murder. Then a haughty physician offers him a way out: come serve as a battle surgeon in an unjust war.

Between tending to the wounded soldiers and protecting them from the physicians’ experiments, Elisha works night and day. Even so, he soon discovers that he has an affinity for magic, drawn into the world of sorcery by Brigit, a beautiful young witch…who reminds him uncannily of the angel he saw burn.

In the crucible of combat, utterly at the mercy of his capricious superiors, Elisha must attempt to unravel conspiracies both magical and mundane, as well as come to terms with his own disturbing new abilities. But the only things more dangerous than the questions he’s asking are the answers he may reveal.

ELISHA MAGUS

Elisha, a barber-surgeon from the poorest streets of benighted fourteenth-century London, has come a long way from home. He was always skilled at his work, but skill alone could not protect him on the day that disaster left his family ruined and Elisha himself accused of murder. With no other options, Elisha accepted a devil’s bargain from Lucius, a haughty physician, to avoid death by hanging—by serving under the sadistic doctor as a battle surgeon of the king’s army, at the front lines of an unjust war.

Elisha worked night and day, both tending to the wounded soldiers and protecting them from the physician’s experiments. Even so, he soon found that he had a talent for a surprising and deadly sort of magic, and was drawn into the clandestine world of sorcery by the enchanting young witch Brigit—who had baffling ties to his past, and ambitious plans for his future. Yet even Brigit did not understand the terrible power Elisha could wield, until the day he was forced to embrace it and end the war…by killing the king.

Now, Elisha has become a wanted man—not only by those who hate and fear him, but by those who’d seek to woo his support. Because, hidden behind the politics of court and castle, it is magic that offers power in its purest form. And the players in that deeper game are stranger and more terrifying than Elisha could ever have dreamed.

There are the magi, those who have grasped the secrets of affinity and knowledge to manipulate mind and matter, always working behind the scenes. There are the indivisi, thought mad by the rest of the magical world: those so devoted to their subject of study that they have become “indivisible” from it, and whose influence in their realm is wondrous beyond even the imaginations of “normal” magi. And then there are—there may be—the necromancers, whose methods, motives, and very existence remain mysterious. Where rumors of their passing go, death follows.

But death follows Elisha, too.

ELISHA REX

Elisha was a skillful barber-surgeon, cutting hair and stitching wounds for poor peasants like himself in 14th century London. But that was before catastrophe ruined his family. Before he was falsely accused of murder, and sent to die in an unjust war. Before he discovered his exceptional potential for a singularly deadly magic, and was forced to embrace his gifts and end that war…by using his newfound abilities to kill the tyrannical king.

Elisha is no longer the lowly barber he was, but it is hard to tell exactly who he is now. The beautiful witch Brigit, his former mentor, claims him for the magi, all those who have grasped the secrets of affinity and knowledge to manipulate mind and matter, and who are persecuted for it. Duke Randall, the man who first rose against the mad King Hugh, has accepted him as a comrade and ally in the perilous schemes of the nobility. Somehow, he has even become a friend to Thomas, both the rightful king and, something rarer, a good man.

But he is still a regicide, and in order to solidify Thomas’s authority among the restive barons, he had to let the new king sentence him to a horrific public execution. With Thomas’s covert aid, Elisha faked his death and went into hiding, but the peasants of London are beginning to call it a martyrdom, as legends of Elisha’s spectacular “miracles” in the service of his country have spread. Yet Elisha is finally beginning to understand the dreadful power within him, and he has never felt less holy—or more terrified.

Because there is another force at work in the world, a shadowy cabal beyond the might of kings and nobles, that sees its opportunity in the chaos of war and political turmoil—and sees its mirror in Elisha’s indivisible connection with Death. For these necromancers, Elisha is the ultimate prize, and the perfect tool.

When the necromancers’ secret plans begin to bear black fruit, England teeters on the brink of a hellish anarchy that could make the previous war look like a pleasant memory, and it appears Elisha is the only man who can stop it. But if he steps forward and takes on the authority he is offered to save his nation once again, is he playing right into the mancers’ hands?

Why does it seem like his enemies are the ones most keen to call him Elisha Rex?

ELISHA MANCER

Elisha was once a skilled barber-surgeon, but healing is no longer his finest art. After discovering his exceptional potential for a singularly deadly magic, Elisha has slain a king, stopped a war, and even had the regency thrust upon his own commoner’s head until he could rescue the true heir, Thomas.

With Thomas back on the throne of England, Elisha must now work on his king’s behalf to fight an even greater threat than civil war: the specter of the necromancers, a shadowy cabal that has already corrupted priests and princes, and that may have even grander, darker plans.

Elisha travels to the continent to warn England’s allies of the mancer threat, as well as to discover the full extent of the mancers’ plans. But it soon becomes clear that if he is to have any hope of stopping those plans from coming to fruition, he must forge new alliances in unexpected places—as well as embrace the terrifying magical abilities in his possession, a move he fears will make him into just the kind of man he strives against.

BONE GUARD ONE: THE MONGOL’S COFFIN

An ancient song leads to a deadly race to find Genghis Khan’s tomb.

Former special ops officer Grant Casey thought that the Bone Guard was a good idea. A team specializing in securing historically important archeological digs across the globe—how could it possibly fail? A distinct lack of clients indicates that the idealistic vision of the Bone Guard may not have been such a good idea after all.

Just when things seem doomed to fail, Casey runs into university researcher Liz Kirschner, who has just uncovered what looks like a map to Genghis Khan’s tomb. An assassination attempt, an arson at her research library, and the bankroll of a mysterious Hong Kong billionaire clinches it: The Bone Guard has their first client.

Facing a Chinese government that wants to destroy the tomb of the man who conquered their land, the Bone Guard hunt for clues from Cambridge, England, to the steppes of inner Mongolia, the whole time dodging assassins, government police, and relying on a Hong Kong billionaire who seems to be manipulating them for his own ends.

As the forces converge on the map’s stunning archeological destination, Casey’s idea of the Bone Guard turns out to have been a very good one indeed.

ELAINE ISAAK SOCIAL MEDIA

Website: http://elaineisaak.com/index.php

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elaine.isaak.7

Twitter: https://twitter.com/elaineisaak

Wonder Woman — Rise of the Warrior [Official Final Trailer]

Wonder Woman finally arrives in theaters on June 2.

Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, when an American pilot crashes on their shores and tells of a massive conflict raging in the outside world, Diana leaves her home, convinced she can stop the threat. Fighting alongside man in a war to end all wars, Diana will discover her full powers…and her true destiny.

 

Blade Runner 2049 Official Trailer

Blade Runner 2049 is coming to theaters October 6.

Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.

 

Escape Pod Makes Editorial Staff Changes

Escape Artists announced today that Divya Breed and Mur Lafferty are the new co-editors of Escape Pod, the weekly science fiction podcast, filling the role formerly occupied by Norm Sherman. Benjamin C. Kinney will take on the role of assistant editor.

Norm Sherman has stepped away for a variety of personal reasons.

Alasdair Stuart, owner of Escape Artists, Inc.. endorsed the new editors:

I’m incredibly happy to see Mur and Divya take the helm at Escape Pod. Their talent, discernment, and enthusiasm for the field is inspiring, inclusive, and welcome. I can’t wait to see them build on the esteemed past of the world’s first science fiction podcast and set its course for new stories.

Divya Breed

Divya Breed has been with Escape Pod for the past two years, first as an Associate Editor, and then as Assistant Editor. She is also an author of science fiction, writing as S.B. Divya. Her short stories have been published in various magazines, including Lightspeed, Mothership Zeta, and Tor.com, and her writing appears in the indie game Rogue Wizards. Her debut science-fiction novella, Runtime, was released by Tor.com Publications in May, 2016, and is a Nebula Award Finalist.

Mur Lafferty

Mur Lafferty is an author and pioneer podcaster who has been involved with Escape Artists since nearly the beginning (after Serah Eley Fed-Ex’d brownies to her as a bribe to spread the word about this new podcast magazine format). She was one of the founding editors of Pseudopod, editor of Escape Pod for a brief time, and then founder and editor of Mothership Zeta, the quarterly ezine for Escape Artists. She is currently the co-host (with Matt Wallace) of Ditch Diggers, a Hugo Finalist for Best Fancast, and the author of the science fiction murder mystery Six Wakes, out from Orbit.

Benjamin C. Kinney

Benjamin C. Kinney has been an Associate Editor for Escape Pod for the past year. He is an itinerant neuroscientist with a frozen New England heart, though nowadays he lives in St. Louis with two cats and his Martian wife. He no longer creates cyborg monkeys, after too many nights delivering them Prozac. His fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, PodCastle, Flash Fiction Online, and more.

Escape Pod is the premier science fiction podcast magazine, bringing its 40,000 listeners a variety of original and reprinted short fiction.

Hot Serial:  NYRSF Readings Series Presents an Evening with Serial Box Authors

L to R: Joel Derfner, Michael Swanwick, Max Gladstone, Matthew Cody, Lindsay Smith, Ellen Kushner, Amy Goldschlager.

By Mark L. Blackman: On the spring evening of Tuesday, May 2, the New York Review of Science Fiction Readings Series, in a special event, showcased Serial Box, a publisher of serialized fiction in text and audio delivered in weekly episodes; it currently runs five ongoing series. In this innovative – or perhaps retrograde – publishing platform, as with television, the serials are collaboratively written by author teams. Representing four of the serials, and reading from their projects, were authors Michael Swanwick, Max Gladstone, Lindsay Smith, Matthew Cody, and Joel Derfner. (Ellen Kushner participated in the events, though did not read.) The stories were as diverse as the “writers rooms,” touching upon Urban Fantasy, Mannerpunk, Magical Espionage, and Young Adult Science Fiction.

Welcoming the audience to the Series’ venue, the Brooklyn Commons in transit-accessible Brooklyn, executive curator Jim Freund, host of WBAI-FM’s Hour of the Wolf radio program on sf and fantasy, shared the sad news of the death of Ama Patterson, who had been an integral part of Andrea Hairston’s performance at the Series. He thanked members of his own team, hinted at a possible special event later in the month, and announced that the 26th Season would likely close on Tuesday, June 6 with readings by Sam J. Miller and Lara Elena Donnelly. He then turned the stage over to the evening’s guest host/guest curator (and curator emerita) Amy Goldschlager.

Amy Goldschlager, an editor, proofreader and book/audiobook reviewer, related that serialized fiction began in the 19th century (notably with Dickens), and shared worlds with Thieves World and Wild Cards; Serial Box, she saw as “a wonderful confluence of it all.” With that, she introduced the first reader of the night, Joel Derfner, representing the Mannerpunk Tremontaine.

Joel Derfner

Joel Derfner is the author of Gay Haiku, Swish: My Quest to Become the Gayest Person Ever and What Ended Up Happening Instead, and Lawfully Wedded Husband: How My Gay Marriage Will Save the American Family. (Indeed, he does live, “alas, in Brooklyn, along with his husband and their small, fluffy dog.” He never did explain that “alas,” however.) His selection, from the prequel to – set 15 years before – Swordspoint, and preceding the writing of On the Causes of Nature (which figures in that novel), was characterized by Goldschlager as a “delightfully snarky bit of foreshadowing,” and contained many double entendres – intentional and not – about sausages. (His sex scenes, he said, were too long.)

Lindsay Smith

Next to read was Lindsay Smith, who offered a scene from the “urban fantasy Cold War thriller” (Goldschlager) The Witch Who Came in From the Cold. There are, Smith explained, two factions of witches, the Fire and the Ice (so “the Cold” is not just the Cold War), fighting a war (here in 1970s Prague) alongside the one with American, British and Soviet spies.

Matthew Cody

Like Smith, Matthew Cody is a YA author; his published works include the award-winning Powerless and the Supers of Noble’s Green series, the Robin Hood re-imagining Will in Scarlet, and his current series The Secrets of the Pied Piper. His Serial Box series, ReMade, is about resurrected teens who are kidnapped and sent to the future; the action takes place in the future and in flashbacks (the present), and the scene that he chose was one of the latter. The boy, Holden (yes, named after you-know-who), who played a fairy (the only boy one) with no lines in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, nervously offers a ride to the cast party to its star (Titania), which does not end as he might have hoped.

During the intermission, a raffle drawing was held for donors in the audience, and two won a season of the Serial Box serial of their choice.

Max Gladstone

Max Gladstone, co-creator of The Witch Who Came in From the Cold and creator of Bookburners, describes himself as having “been thrown from a horse in Mongolia, drunk almond milk with monks on Wudang Shan, and wrecked a bicycle in Angkor Wat.” He is also the author of the Craft Sequence of books about undead gods and skeletal law wizards­, Full Fathom Five, Three Parts Dead, Two Serpents Rise, Last First Snow., and the forthcoming Ruin of Angels (which doesn’t have a number in the title!). Bookburners is, he explained, a “supernatural procedural” about secret agents from the Vatican who pursue demons and black magic. For his reading, he offered the audience a choice between the first season and a preview of the third, which is launching in June, and the latter won out (the vote was not “rigged”). (What happened in Belfast?)

Back on stage, Goldschlager said that she and Freund had asserted that there can’t be a NYRSF Readings season without a reading by Michael Swanwick, and he writes for Serial Box. Swanwick has written nine novels – the latest of which is Chasing the Phoenix – 150 short stories, and countless flash fictions, and has received the Nebula, Theodore Sturgeon, World Fantasy and Hugo Awards. He returned us to The Witch Who Came in From the Cold, prefacing his reading by noting that, as if there aren’t already too many characters in it, he had brought in two more, the Russian general Bitovsky and the Norwegian Magnus. (They must be spies – they’re meeting in “a spy bar.”)

There was a recess as the stage was reset with all of the readers – joined by Kushner – for an interview by Goldschlager. She opened by asking about the process of collaboration, which Gladstone called “a Frankenstein process.” There are a lot of story breakdowns. (As on tv, the editor/publisher equivalent is a “showrunner.”) Smith said that Witch is “more puzzle-piecey,” with people gravitating toward their own characters. Derfner disagreed, and jokingly called her a liar. There are a lot of personal meetings over Tremontaine. Gladstone noted his writers retreats. What struck him, said Swanwick, was how many times a story goes through the editorial process, somewhere between six and 123 (he cited a debate over whether it’s duct tape or duck tape – as in a film or tv show, there has to be consistency, or continuity). There is a “house voice.” Derfner said that he liked “having structure, and not having to make things up.” In Season 1, he said, he had trouble getting Diane’s (the Duchess Tremontaine) voice right and asked Kushner to revise him. She said that she was doing Joel doing herself; the process was “metaphysical” (I offered the word). They had to invent a new way of doing a narrative.

Cody said with his background in theater (he holds a Master’s Degree in Theater, with a focus on Shakespeare), he enjoyed the collaborative process. People would fight for their idea, but only up to a point. Alluding to ReMade, Goldschlager noted that we figure things out (that they’re in the future) before the characters do, and wondered about how “genre-savvy” the readers are, particularly in YA. Whatever the genre, replied Cody, soap opera is the “underpinning” of YA. Finally, she asked Gladstone if The Witch Who Came in From the Cold and Bookburners take place in the same universe. “Stay tuned,” he intoned, providing a perfect conclusion to the interviews.

In the Q&A that followed, an audience member asked how they select people to be “in their zone.” Gladstone looks for writers “who are going to jump on and run with it” and had a “willingness to speak the same language.” Kushner said that she had it easier, had the advantage of everyone being a Swordspoint fan, knowing and loving the Riverside books, and knowing that they can “play well with others.” The writers, she continued, “have to be flexible, open to their ideas being changed.” There are gay men in the story, and so she has “an actual gay man” writing episodes. His theatrical background also helps. (Derfner has, as his biography states, composed the score to musicals that “have played in New York, London, and various cities in between [going counterclockwise].”) Her Tremontaine team, she observed, was “queer or writers of color, or both.”

The next questioner asked if the long form was easier to play with than a shorter form. Gladstone said that it made it easier to “compartmentalize.” Smith said that they have to create an “atmosphere;” she can tell which writer wrote which episode, yet the story unifies and flows. The final questioner asked about how much work goes into the “Series Bible” (again, a tv term). Cody said that it gave “everyone a level playing field,” but, as Gladstone agreed, it changed quickly and almost immediately as everyone gave input.

The customary Jenna Felice Freebie Table returned and there were copies of Tremontaine offered for sale. The audience, which approached 70, included Melissa C. Beckman (the Readings’ “official photographer”), Richard Bowes, Rob Cameron, Lynn Cohen Koehler, Barbara Krasnoff (the House Manager and a Nebula Award nominee), John Kwok, Lissanne Lake, Marianne Porter, James Ryan, Terence Taylor (Tech Director), Paul Witcover, and Serial Box co-founders Molly Barton and Julian Yap. Throughout the course of the evening and afterward, members of the audience availed themselves of the Café’s fare.

It Was Forty Years Ago Today, Princess Leia Taught the Band to Play

Be the first on your block to own a copy! A free download from Dan Amrich and Jude Kelley of Palette Swap Ninja – their hilarious, newly-released album “Princess Leia’s Stolen Death Star Plans”.

This year marks two important pop-culture milestones: The 40th anniversary of Star Wars on May 25, and the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band a week later, June 1. Our new album merges both into one full-length concept album titled Princess Leia’s Stolen Death Star Plans. It’s the entire Beatles album as accurately as we could record it, only now it tells the story of Star Wars: A New Hope — in order. We sweat the details on both sides in an effort to do both cultural milestones justice. Writing hyper-specific lyrics that match the original songs’ cadences; reverse-engineering everything the Beatles recorded, from distorted saxophone riffs to Indian tabla rhythms; recording everything from scratch and learning as we went — well, that’s what takes five years.

Amrich and Kelley explain:

Deftly merging two pop-culture landmarks, Princess Leia’s Stolen Death Star Plans tells the story of 1977’s Star Wars to a custom recording of The Beatles’ 1967 masterpiece Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – in order. “We’ve released song parodies before, but nothing this ambitious,” says singer/guitarist Dan Amrich. “Once we settled on merging A New Hope with Sgt. Pepper’s, we completely committed ourselves to turning these two sacred cows into the ultimate double cheeseburger.”

Katrin Auch matched up the songs with Star Wars footage in this series of videos:

  • “Princess Leia’s Stolen Death Star Plans/With Illicit Help From Your Friends” – Track 1 & 2

  • “Luke is in the Desert” – Track 3 – Princess Leia’s Stolen Death Star Plans

  • Never Better” – Track 4 – Princess Leia’s Stolen Death Star Plans

  • “Imperial Holes” – Track 5 – Princess Leia’s Stolen Death Star Plans

  • “He’s Leaving Home” – Track 6 – Princess Leia’s Stolen Death Star Plans

  • “Being From the Spaceport of Mos Eisley” – Track 7 – Princess Leia’s Stolen Death Star Plans

  • “The Force Within You” – Track 8 – Princess Leia’s Stolen Death Star Plans

  • “AA Twenty-Three” – Track 9 – Princess Leia’s Stolen Death Star Plans

  • “Dianoga” – Track 10 – Princess Leia’s Stolen Death Star Plans

  • “Keep Moving Keep Moving” – Track 11 – Princess Leia’s Stolen Death Star Plans

  • “Reprise/A Day in the Life of Red Five” – Tracks 12 & 13 – Princess Leia’s Stolen Death Star Plans

[Thanks to David Stever for the story.]

Joshua David Bellin’s Monsters

Joshua David Bellin

By  Carl Slaughter: With praise from Jonathan Maberry and a mention in a Washington Post cli-fi feature, Joshua David Bellin broke in with Survival Colony 9 in 1995.  He followed with the sequel Scavenger of Souls in 2016.  His deep space action/romance Freefall is due in September 2017.  Joshua likes monsters.  Really scary monsters.

SURVIVAL COLONY 9

In a futuristic landscape ravaged by war, a colony’s hopes for survival hinge on one teenage boy in this fast-paced, action-packed story “filled with interesting plot twists, compelling characters, and gripping action” (VOYA).

Querry Genn is in trouble. He can’t remember anything before the last six months. And Querry needs to remember. Otherwise he is dead weight to the other members of Survival Colony 9, one of the groups formed after a brutal war ravaged the earth. And now the Skaldi have come to scavenge what is left of humanity. No one knows what the Skaldi are, or why they are here, just that they impersonate humans, taking their form before shedding the corpse like a skin.

Desperate to prove himself after the accident that stole his memory, Querry is both protected and tormented by the colony’s authoritarian commander, his father. The only person he can talk to is the beautiful Korah, but even with her, he can’t shake the feeling that something is desperately wrong. Whatever is going on, Querry is at the center of it, for a secret in his past not only makes him a target of the Skaldi’s wrath, but the key to the colony’s future.

Read an excerpt from Survival Colony 9.

PRAISE FOR SURVIVAL COLONY 9

  • “Joshua David Bellin brings serious game in a post-apocalyptic thriller that collides breathless action with devious world building and genuine heart. A terrific novel!” (Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of ROT & RUIN and V-WARS)
  • “Tantalizing mysteries abound among the human and inhuman inhabitants of the bleak landscape, and the postapocalyptic plot is satisfyingly full of twists.” (Booklist)
  • Survival Colony 9 will appeal to sci-fi fans who will anxiously await the planned sequel.” (School Library Journal)
  • “This cautionary tale is filled with interesting plot twists, compelling characters, and gripping action. Fans of dystopian thrillers should find the conflicted protagonist’s story thought-provoking as he discovers his identity, establishes a new family, and finds hope in his desolate environment.” (VOYA)
  • “Debut author Bellin weaves a bleak postapocalyptic tale of survival against overwhelming odds, centering around an amnesiac teenager who plays a pivotal role in his colony’s attempt to stay alive.” (Publishers Weekly)
  • “An amnesiac struggles to make sense of his place in a war-ravaged world where small bands of human survivors scramble to stay one step ahead of a menacing, body-snatching threat.” (Kirkus Reviews)
  • “Set in a gritty post-apocalyptic world, SURVIVAL COLONY 9 is both an adventure and an exploration of what it means to be human. This debut novel made me feel almost as desperate to find out the secret behind Querry Genn’s existence as he felt. And what a surprise when everything was revealed!” (Margaret Peterson Haddix, author of The Missing Series)

SCAVENGER OF SOULS

Querry Genn must face the truth about the past and fight to save humanity and the future in this stunning sequel to Survival Colony 9, which New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry called “a terrific novel.”

Querry and the members of Survival Colony 9 have defeated a whole nest of the creatures called Skaldi, who can impersonate humans even as they destroy them. But now the colony is dangerously low in numbers and supplies. Querry’s mother is in command, and is definitely taking them somewhere—but where? Some secret from her past seems to be driving her relentlessly forward.

When they do finally reach their destination, Querry is amazed to discover a whole compound of humans—organized, with plenty of food and equipment. But the colonists are not welcomed. Everything about them is questioned, especially by Mercy, the granddaughter of the compound’s leader. Mercy is as tough a fighter as Querry has ever seen—and a girl as impetuous as Querry is careful. But the more Querry learns about Mercy and the others, the more he realizes that nothing around him is as it seems. There are gruesome secrets haunting this place and its people. And it’s up to Querry to unearth the past and try to save the future in this gripping conclusion to the Survival Colony novels.

Read an excerpt from Scavenger of Souls

FREEFALL

In the Upperworld, the privileged 1% are getting ready to abandon a devastated planet Earth. And Cam can’t wait to leave. After sleeping through a 1,000-year journey, he and his friends will have a pristine new planet to colonize. And no more worries about the Lowerworld and its 99% of rejects.

Then Cam sees a banned video feed of protesters in the Lowerworld who also want a chance at a new life. And he sees a girl with golden eyes who seems to be gazing straight though the feed directly at him. A girl he has to find. Sofie.

When Cam finds Sofie, she opens his eyes to the unfairness of what’s happening in their world, and Cam joins her cause for Lowerworld rights. He also falls hard for Sofie. But Sofie has her own battles to fight, and when it’s time to board the spaceships, Cam is alone.

Waking up 1,000 years in the future, Cam discovers that he and his shipmates are far off-course, trapped on an unknown and hostile planet. Who has sabotaged their ship? And does it have anything to do with Sofie, and the choices—and the enemies—he made in the past?