Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Martian Dreams by JC Hay


by JC Hay

All the excitement lately has been about those seven planets discovered in TRAPPIST-1, but thirty-nine light years is a long way to travel, and if we want to spread beyond our fragile blue-green rock, we’re going to need to look a lot closer to home. That means Mars.

I consider myself an optimist where Mars is concerned. Despite humanity’s mostly bad track record sending stuff to our nearest neighbor – we’re currently only at a 44% success rate overall – I think that the time is going to come when we establish a long-term base of operations on the Red Planet. Maybe not in my lifetime, but before the century is out.

That doesn’t mean I think it’s going to be easy – every element of Mars seems to be designed to inhibit human habitation. From the reduced sunlight (leading to a sense of perpetual exhaustion, at least for the first generation of colonists), to the superfine dust that clogs even the tightest seals, to the broader dangers of windstorms and radiation, Mars is not rolling out a welcome mat for us.

The moon wasn’t in a hurry to welcome us either, but we managed to make that trip repeatedly (not without risks, or deaths, but we did it). Mars will be the same way. In my Corporate Services books, the colony on Mars is in its infancy. Though we haven’t seen it in the books (yet), I’ve got a clear picture of how it looks – domes of 3-d printed concrete, covered with two-three feet of soil to protect the inhabitants from radiation and micro-meteors. Those, in turn, connect together to form larger structures like workshops and gardens, running of a combination of wind and reduced solar. It’s not a utopia, but it’s enough of a break from the corporate wars that high-tech thief Elise wants to head there as soon as her next job is done.

Too bad fate has other plans.

Dubai Double-Cross

From the underworld of corporate infighting…

Heavily modified and highly skilled, “acquisitions expert” Elise Briggs worked behind the scenes of the corporate world’s espionage wars. Or she had, until her most recent target turns up murdered and she’s forced to go on the run with the only person who can exonerate her, the victim’s lover and personal assistant.

…To the city’s glittering towers…

Plucked off the street to be the plaything of one of the richest women in the world, Na’im thought his life was finally complete; his obedience and the suite of cybernetic modifications he carried were a small price to pay for life at the top of society. Until his boss is murdered and his only ally is the professional thief hired to rob them.

…They can’t run from what’s inside

On the run and running short on allies, Elise and Na’im are about to discover that the murderer is closer than either of them suspect. If they plan to survive on the futuristic streets of Dubai, they need to learn how to trust each other, because when everything can be upgraded and emotions can be programmed, sometimes all that can keep you human is your heart.

Dubai Double-Cross is available now from:

Author Bio

JC Hay writes romantic science fiction and space opera, because the coolest gadgets in the world are useless without someone to share them.

In addition to Romance Writers of America, he is also a proud member of the SFR Brigade (for Science Fiction Romance), the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Romance chapter, and a member of RWA’s PAN (the published authors network).

His Corporate Services series, a set of connected cyberpunk romances, are set eighty years in our future where the limits of humanity are being stretched and tested, and our hearts are the hardest thing to keep pure.

Find JC Hay online:

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

SFRB Recommends 70: The Champion of Barésh by Susan Grant

Jemm Aves toils for a mining company by day, but at night she is a successful bajha player, disguised as a male to compete in the violent underworld of the colony’s fight clubs. Every win puts her one small step closer to her goal: saving enough to escape Barésh with her family. When a royal recruits her to be a star player for his team, her ruse proves to be her most perilous game yet when it puts both their lives—and her heart—at risk.

Prince Klark is eager to reverse his reputation as the black sheep of the Vedla clan. If his bajha team can win the galactic title it would go a long way toward restoring the family honor that his misdeeds tarnished. On Barésh, he tracks down an amateur who has risen to the top of the seedy world of street bajha, offering the commoner a chance of a lifetime: a way off that reeking space rock for good. But his new player comes with a scandalous secret that turns his plans and his beliefs upside down. He sets out to win a very different prize—his champion’s reluctant heart.

The world of Barésh is convincing and vivid. The bahja (which I can best describe as sensory-deprivation fencing) matches are even more intense, whether in a bar, or a training exercise, or an emotional duel. I do wish we got to experience a few more in the professional arena.

Jemm is a treat. She's driven, kind, and not cowed by Klark. Her family relationships also feel authentic, and I love her interactions with her difficult brother.

Author site: Susan Grant

This recommendation by Lee Koven.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Perseverance and A Wrinkle In Time by Libby Doyle

They told Madeleine L’Engle her book was too strange. Nevertheless, she persisted.

In the summer of my thirteenth year, my family moved to the country, away from the small town where I’d lived my whole life. Away from my little friends. Our small town was urban, right outside of Philadelphia. Our new place was in the country. Sure, it smelled wonderful, like pine trees. Sure, wild strawberries grew in the fields, but there weren’t any kids in sight. I wanted to go back to my little town, where playmates were always right outside the front door.

My mother could see I needed company. Her solution was inspired. She handed me a book, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. I was already an avid reader, but I had never encountered anything so absorbing, the beginning of my obsession with science fiction and science fiction fantasy. My imagination was on fire. My mind was racing. The heroine was a 13-year-old girl just like me! I read it once, then immediately twice. This book taught me about heroism, about love. I wanted to meet the happy, gentle centaurs that populated one of the book’s fantastic planets.

Recently, I gave my step-granddaughter a copy of A Wrinkle in Time. My granddaughter is a cool kid. Climbs to the tops of mountains. Excellent at mathematics. What better book for her than the story of Meg, a brave girl close to her age, also great at math? Meg rescued her father from a planet enslaved by an evil disembodied brain with powerful telepathic abilities. The brain, known as IT, exerted hypnotic control over the inhabitants’ minds.

Meg had the help of her classmate Calvin, her brother Charles and her friendly neighbors Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which, who were actually alien centaurs disguised as humans. This crew used the “tesseract,” (sound familiar?) to bend the space-time continuum and slip through a wrinkle in time to search for Meg’s long-lost father. Through all their dangerous adventures, Meg comes into her own. When Charles is in danger, Meg steps up to show how strong she’s become.

I hope my granddaughter loves this book as much as I do. I hope it helps her develop a life-long love of reading. And if she tells me she likes it, I’ll tell her the challenge faced by Madeleine L’Engle to get it published. She was rejected by 26 houses. According to a well-sourced Wikipedia article, publishers thought the book was too unusual, with too much science. They thought its stark presentation of evil was too dark for young adult fiction. In fact, several paragraphs comparing the enforced conformity of the evil brain’s planet to totalitarian regimes were cut from the final draft.

L’Engle has also explained that female protagonists were rare in science fiction at the time, making it a hard sell.

Lucky for the Science Fiction Romance Brigade, those days are over! And thank the writing gods that Madeleine L’Engle persisted. Her book went on to win the Newbery Medal and, according to Wikipedia, has been in continuous print since it was published. The book even got a shout out at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, when Chelsea Clinton mentioned it as a book that influenced her as a child. From one generation to the next. I should tell my granddaughter about Chelsea, too. 

The views expressed in this post are those of the author, Libby Doyle, and don't necessarily reflect those of the SFR Brigade.

Check out Libby Doyle's website here:

Books by Libby Doyle:

Monday, March 6, 2017

Meet the #Author Monday: S.B.K. Burns #scifi #romance #timetravel #interview

Please tell us a bit about yourself:

I’m a retired scientific generalist and an applied mathematician with multiple advanced degrees and journal-published research that’s been downloaded around the world. My research might be interesting to Sci-fi writers since it provides an analog for the number of planets of various sizes that might be expected to form in accretion disks orbiting distant stars (Trappist 1, for example, with its 7 Earth-sized planets).

At the moment I’m publishing my second SFR series, AGES OF INVENTION, which honors women scientists and those women who funded European royal societies of science in the past.

Tell us about your book:

My latest book, FLY LIKE AN EAGLE, a non formulaic, sci-fi, time-travel, steampunk romance introduces an alternative science history. It’s a story of forbidden love where only the lovers can stop a world-obliterating timequake by determining if Franklin’s Kite Experiment—ushering in the electronic era—is a go/nogo.

What inspired you to write this particular story?:

This is the second book in the AGES OF INVENTION series. What started me writing the first book, ENTANGLED, was the paucity of women named as great scientists of the past. I, too, like the women in the movie, HIDDEN FIGURES, had to learn and work as the only woman in my graduate courses and the world of corporate science. As I investigated the controversity about who discovered calculus, I noted that it was the royal wives who encouraged their husbands to establish the European Royal Societies of Science which funded the great scientists of the past.

Please share a favourite snippet from your book:

Just welcomed into her home, was a man she barely recognized as her father’s associate, John Vaughan… and his footman. They stood speaking with her father.
She would analyze Vaughan’s features to see how he’d aged from the younger man she’d remembered. Vaughan and his man motioned toward her father, and then in the direction of the painting.
Looks as if they’re discussing it. Well, she had her own opinion about such gifts and would not to be left out. She also wanted to alert her father about the giant bird she’d seen the hawks attacking, but then she remembered how his eyes glazed over anytime she spoke eagerly about the nesting hawks. Hard metal and angular things interested him more than the natural world.
Flowing effortlessly down the stairs like the well-brought-up lady she pretended to be, Samantha wondered about the artist who created that canvas, why anyone thought such a scandalous gift would be appreciated, let alone hung on a wall in her household.
Crossing the foyer, she approached the men. They faced away from her, gazing at the painting. Vaughan’s man stood a little behind the others, dressed all rudely informal as one of her father’s livery stablemen might.
Disturbingly tall. His exposed hands, forearms, and neck were tan. Yes, very tan indeed. He’d not bothered to tie his shoulder-length hair back, And it was black, very black, almost the blue-black of the night sky, just like the brave in the painting her father, Vaughan, and this savage were now viewing.
“I wonder who painted it?” she said aloud to no one in particular
Her father and Vaughan, closer to the painting, hadn’t heard her, but Vaughan’s man turned and she forgot to breathe. He’s the model, subject of the painting, the Indian brave surrounded by those sex-crazed maidens. He’d dressed somewhat differently this time, she admitted. Clothed. Yes, and it was strangely troubling to her that he was.
Had she just seen a twinkle in his eye and a twitch of his full and naughty lips? Yes, definitely a twitch. He bowed to her, never taking his eyes from where—she reminded herself— she’d forgotten to close her shawl and don her bodice lace. She squinted to see her appearance in the mirrors above the wainscoting and noticed her breasts were dangerously close to popping out of the scooped neck of her gown—or was that in her imagination, the effect of her disrobement by his eyes?
How rude. How could her father allow the savage to look at her that way? How could her aunt?
Her aunt’s negligence wasn’t difficult to figure out. Before Samantha descended the stairs to view the painting, the room to her guardian’s door had been opened by maids attempting to prepare for the guests. Her aunt rested on a chaise—pickled.
“Do you like the painting? Horrible. Horrific. Is it not?” the savage said. “I thought you might recognize me, and I can see from the way you’re looking at me you do. I told Davies to destroy it. Instead, he finishes the painting and sends it to my father by way of yours. I couldn’t be more embarrassed.”
He didn’t look embarrassed. Not as embarrassed as the brave in the painting being fawned over by those young women. Not as embarrassed as she, with him examining her chest.
“I’ll wait,” he said.
Wait?” What could he mean?
His eyes squinted, sparkled. “Go on up now and finish dressing.”
Was he laughing at her? Meaning to instruct me about my own business?
Samantha scrunched her face, giving him the meanest look she could muster. Wrapping her shawl around her more tightly, then clutching it, she wondered why she’d decided to leave her lace behind, her breasts open to all his scrutiny. Looking down at her slippers, because she couldn’t force herself to look up into his smug face, she stifled a retort and rushed up the stairs to her bedroom. Behind and below, she heard a confusion of men’s voices, perhaps chastising that rude man.
She hurried into her room, closed the door, and rested back against it. With uncomfortable awareness, she knew that man had been Vaughan’s half-breed son, Migizi. She vaguely remembered his visits. When we were much younger.
Opening her shawl to assess the problem, she almost expected herself to be naked. At least she felt naked, and something else, some other part of her body, down there between her thighs, beat as rapidly as her heart.
Samantha knew where the throbbing came from. She wasn’t that naïve. She’d read about it while viewing the medical illustrations in her comparative anatomy texts.

Which comes first for you – a character's looks, personality or name?:

Honestly, looks and names are not as important to me as personality. And for that, as mostly a pantser, I let my characters find themselves. Of course, I do lots of historic research of those mathematicians and scientists of the past before I give them voices.

Any tips for aspiring authors?:

Don’t worry about your first words. You have a committee in time just waiting to help you out. They’re the you of tomorrow and the next day, and the next day. All the me(s) who edited my books for me wish all the you(s) great success.

Questions for fun:

If you had the power of time travel, is there anything you would go back and change?: No.

Why/why not?: As a fluid mechanics person, I choose a real, existing, physical parameter called The Flow. My time-traveling Native American, Migizi, in FLY LIKE AN EAGLE, calls this flow by its Algonquin name—Bimijiwan. So my philosophy might be, Go with the flow.

Here’s a quote that starts off the novel, FLY LIKE AN EAGLE:

 “Faith does not need to push the river because faith is able to trust that there is a river. The river is flowing. We are in it.”                           Franciscan Father Richard Rohr

As you can see, I like to blend science and spirituality in my books. I believe them to be two major aspects of existance.

What super-power would you choose?: A creative mind has got to be the greatest superpower, because no matter what life brings, in some way, it can always be seen from a positive perspective.

If you could have three wishes, what would they be?: To love the universe—cubed.

What is your favourite book?: SECOND FOUNDATION (I love Arcady, and, of course, Asimov)

Favourite genre and why?: Romance, because it’s the best genre to learn about character development from both male and female points of view.

Upcoming news and plans for the future?: My critique partner, Jackie Leigh Allen, will know more about that than I would. Each year, I get so exhausted going to RWA Conferences around the States. Not to worry—Jackie has already reserved the hotel rooms for us, so I’ve got to go!

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us!:
Pippa and SFR BRIGADE, You are so very much welcome.
Everyone, have fun reading and writing SFR.
SFR rocks!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Romantic Novelists' Association Blog: RoNA Awards 2017: Paranormal or Speculative Romanc...

Romantic Novelists' Association Blog: RoNA Awards 2017: Paranormal or Speculative Romanc...: This year’s shortlisted novels include space adventures, timeslip, and a ghost story, and include two independently published novels. ...

I am thrilled to be one of the finalists on this shortlist, with the latest in the Destiny Trilogy - Beloved Enemy.

I have been a member of the SFR Brigade for a long while now but have only just plucked up courage to post - hope this is OK but I am so excited I wanted to share!


Cat Kincaid is obsessed with killing the man she believes is responsible for the torture and death of her sister, but when she eventually catches up with him, survival becomes a greater priority than revenge.

Kerry Marchant, haunted by memories, regret, and self-blame, shields himself from the pain of the past by committing himself totally to the starship, Destiny, of which he is part owner. However, the beautiful, red-haired woman who reminds him of his lost love, and who he suspects is working for a corrupt regime, represents a possible threat not only to the ship, but to his heart.

Marooned on an inhospitable planet, they need to work together to stay alive, fighting not only unknown assailants, but their growing attraction. But how can they learn to trust each other when he has vowed never to get close to a woman again, and she made a solemn pledge to destroy him?

Thursday, March 2, 2017

SFRB Recommends 69: Blood Surfer by Debra Jess #superhero #sfrom

Welcome to Star Haven, where the police arrest and imprison alternative humans, if not execute them outright. When outlaw Hannah Quinn saves Officer Scott Grey’s life by bloodsurfing through his broken body, he winds up on the wrong side of the kill line.

Hannah blew any chance she had of escaping Star Haven when she chose to save Scott’s life. Scott has a reputation for killing Alts instead of arresting them. Now that she’s triggered his dormant Alt ability, he’s forced to go on the run with her until she can break his despised Alt power.

Suspicion dies hard after a lifetime of conditioning. Despite the threat to their lives, Hannah finds herself falling for the one man she can’t trust — and Scott falls for the woman who destroyed his life.

With love and mistrust at war in a city where betrayal can earn your freedom, will Hannah and Scott’s tenuous bond be enough to save them?

Jess sets up some young protagonists (college-age in many places) with interesting family issues. Hannah and Scott have some prized abilities, but that doesn't change that they are little fish in a bigger pond. They're forced to confront what they really want from their lives, each other, and the people who raised them. I like how Jess explores these questions. The ending is a Happy For Now, as I believe their story will continue.

This recommendation by Lee Koven.

SFR Brigade Bases of Operation