Book Review: When Dark Falls, by Pippa Jay

whendarkfalls_1650x2550Kadie is a young woman trapped in the city of Nephopolis, where “morning comes in flame and darkness.” Although she has tantalizing clues, she has no memory of her life before. Now, she slaves for meager rations under the tyranny of the man known as Dark, whose cloudburners toil daily to blot out the sun. Only the occasional distant kindness of her manager, Jev, leavens her endless labor, and Kadie is drawn to him. But it’s too dangerous to act on her feelings, as the slightest infraction could mean a death sentence; or worse, the slow and painful metamorphosis into the monstrous nightcrawlers who enforce Dark’s will. Kadie remembers Dark didn’t always rule. The superheroes of her time had died trying to oppose him, even Blaze, the greatest among them. But Dark’s costly victory had left him permanently scarred.

Nocturnelle is a rogue superhero, her past a mystery even to herself. Her considerable powers earn her a wary acceptance among the few low-talent survivors of the Alliance of Super Heroes and Heroines. Nelle’s cybernetically enhanced sidekick, Shadow, is the only minor hero who is willing to trust her. But he draws the line at exploring their mutual attraction, insisting a deeper relationship would violate league rules, making them both outcasts. Neither are willing to risk their partnership with ASHH when there’s important work to be done. Together, they slip into the night to gather intelligence and battle the tyrant’s thugs and his eerie nightcrawlers. Nelle has one goal: to defeat Dark or die trying.

Nelle doesn’t realize that Dark is moving swiftly to fulfill her death wish, and that Kadie holds the key to her mortal weakness.

‘Punk of any kind is usually not my genre, because authors too often get so caught up in the gadgetry that they shortchange the characters.

Pippa Jay is not one of those authors. The technology of her world is deftly–even beautifully–described, vividly calling up the scene without the eye-crossing detail that causes me to flip ahead, looking for the story. Instead, the decopunk blends seamlessly into, and supports, the story. And the characters and fast-paced action caught me up and drew me into a toxic world where love is a risky endeavor for good people and heroes alike.

Pippa’s characters have depth. Alone, afraid, barely subsisting, Kadie could easily have been a wilting flower. But her courage in facing her fear and the daily grind comes through. Nocturnelle could have been simply a kick-ass superhero. But we get to see the doubts and insecurities behind her driven determination.

In shorter books, something has to give. But here, not so much. In addition to sympathetic characters and strong world-building, Pippa delivered a plot with plenty of action, with only one minor challenge to my willing suspension of disbelief. The force of the story rolled right over it.

This is a book I would’ve swallowed in one sitting. But I made the mistake of starting When Dark Falls right before I had to leave for a friend’s party. I spent a lot of time wondering how the story would turn out. I would suggest you make sure you’ve got a sufficient chunk of time, then get yourself a cup of tea, or pour a glass of wine, and settle in for a good read. Then, why four stars, you ask? My star ratings are on a logarithmic scale. Check out my ratings on goodreads, and you’ll see even my long-time favorite authors don’t always achieve five stars. For me, three stars means, the book was good. Four stars means, the book was excellent, and I’ll look for this author. I think you will, too.

40k; 2/5 heat level. I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

Welcome Guest Author…Pippa Jay!

I’m pleased to welcome Pippa Jay to the Scotian Realm. Pippa is an award-winning author, writing in multiple genres, including science fiction, paranormal, and decopunk…often with a dash of romance. She also writes about superheroes, and I sometimes think she is one herself as a multi-tasker par excellence. She’s here to talk about her newest release, When Dark Falls. (Come back on Wednesday, December 10th for my review of a great read!)

First, let’s meet Pippa…

What three words would your friends use to describe you?
Annoying, weird, and enthusiastic. Although I mostly get the first two from my children.

Do you have a personal credo or motto that helps to guide your decisions?
From the film Galaxy Quest: “Never give up, never surrender!”

What’s on your bucket list? 
There’s several places I’d like to travel to, mostly because I either have old friends there, or new friends I’ve met since I joined Facebook. But I’m still amazed I’m a published author, which I never dreamed of ever being, so even if I never did anything else exciting in my life I have that.

Do real people, places &/or events show up in your writing?|
They have, but perhaps not in ways people might recognize. I think authors as a whole take in lots of details and information in their everyday life, and it’s inevitable that some of it will end up in their work, even subconsciously. I’ve used days at the nearby beach as inspiration for a tropical planet, a feature in my home town as part of a space station, personal experiences for things that happen to my characters, etc.

Does someone critique your writing for you? How do they affect your writing?
I now have a wide group of fellow authors or enthusiastic readers who will critique my work. Different stories go to different people depending on who has the time and what the story is, and most have their own particular way of giving feedback. It helps me spot plot holes or inconsistencies, where I’ve gone overboard on detail or repetition, or where I need to do more. As I’ve grown more confident, I’m less likely to take some of the advice if it’s just come from one person or I feel I have a valid argument for leaving something as it is, but I’ve also gotten better at taking criticism and using it constructively. I’d like to think it makes my writing better.

In your opinion, what qualities make for a great author?
Determination, passion, enthusiasm, the ability to pick things up quickly, and a willingness to research, learn, experiment, and take criticism.

And now for the book! When Dark Falls is an alternative 1920s decopunk superhero romance released by Breathless Press on the 21st November. I’ll have a review on Wednesday, December 10th. But here’s a teaser….


In a city where Dark Technologies Inc. now runs the show, Kadie Williams has more immediate concerns than the fall of Blaze, their guardian superhero. Almost every morning for the last few months she’s woken up with cuts and bruises on her body, and no idea how she got them. There are no nightmares. No evidence that she sleepwalks, or any sign of a break in. And nothing to tell her who’s been cleaning up after her. As just one of thousands of civilians conscripted to slave away in the labs of Professor Dark, she knew there’d be trouble ahead. But she never expected it to be so bad, or so personal.

Desperate for answers, Kadie looks to the new defender of the night, the only person who can hinder the total domination of Professor Dark—Nocturnelle. The mysterious vigilante superhero came from nowhere with her cybernetic sidekick Shadow, set on putting an end to the brutality of Dark’s regime. But as his laboratories work on a new secret super-weapon, Nocturnelle and Shadow may not be enough to save Nephopolis…or to save Kadie either.

Describe the hero in three words: Loyal. Caring. Sad
And the heroine? Fiery. Unstable. Driven.
What two words best sum up their relationship? Rollercoaster ride!

Please give us an excerpt!

Nocturnelle perched on the carved griffin statue decorating the tower’s cornerstone, with hundreds of feet of empty space between her and the ground below. Her second skin felt tight. It was a familiar sensation and yet always the first thing she noticed on waking, as if her body needed to remind her of the fact. She stretched and her outer skin crackled like leather. She flexed her fingers, the delicate oh-so-white digits a stark contrast to her black arms. Silver lines marked her left forearm, and she frowned at them. She was meant to be impervious to blades and bullets, and yet somehow, not too long ago, she must have injured herself.

As she rose, her skin creaked. She stretched again, and then tugged her hands through her hair, pulling the thick swathe of black silk from her face and knotting it at the back. Darkest Night forbid it should get in her way. The second skin pressed tight against her forehead, running around her eyes and mouth, cradling her chin. She ran her fingers around the edges, tracing the outline. Perfect. Her body tingled as though electricity danced in her veins, and she smiled. Breathed in the evening air. This was her time.
Viscous and reeking, the night sky hung over the city of Art Deco towers and buildings like an oil-slick. Behind her, the metallic chinking of the cloudburner cooling after a day spent scorching the sky ticked away the seconds like a clock.


The deep male voice sent a shiver down her back, and she turned. “Ah, my faithful Shadow. Ready for another night-time jaunt?”

A figure stepped out of the shadows to join her. He matched her for height; his whipcord frame clad in a charcoal-colored armor vest, black combats, and a hip-length military jacket. When the rooftop lights hit his face, the chiseled jawline showed; his skin a dark tan. He wore a mask over his eyes, but his teeth gleamed white when he smiled. And when he smiled, something inside Nelle set her heart racing.

“Ready and set, Nelle.”

Thank you! Where can my readers find you?

Website –

Add When Dark Falls to your goodreads shelf. Sign up for Pippa’s no-spam newsletter to stay up to date with releases, cover reveals, sales and giveaways for all her titles and more.

Where can my readers find your books?

Amazon page
Omnilit/All Romance eBooks
Barnes and Noble

And now…the contest!

Contest open internationally until the 19th December

WP_20141125_007By day, Pippa Jay is a dedicated (and “mild-mannered”?) member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade, blogging at Spacefreighters Lounge, Adventures in Scifi, and Romancing the Genres. Her works include YA and adult stories crossing a multitude of subgenres from scifi to the paranormal, often with romance, and she’s one of eight authors included in a science fiction romance anthology—Tales from the SFR Brigade. She’s also a double SFR Galaxy Award winner, been a finalist in the Heart of Denver RWA Aspen Gold Contest (3rd place), and the GCC RWA Silken Sands Star Awards (2nd place). But who is she behind the mask…? Pippa wants your help:

“I’ve donned my superhero guise for the length of the tour, and you get to name me and decide my talent(s)! If I like it, I may include it in the sequel to When Dark Falls and credit you in the acknowledgements.

“To enter, please put the name, talent, and your contact details in the comments. Please note – by entering this contest you are giving me full permission for me to use the superhero name without any recompense to you, financially or otherwise, other than the acknowledgement, and you are waiving any rights to the name. You’ll also get a digital format of your choice for When Dark Falls.”

Book Review: Darkship Thieves by Sarah A. Hoyt

I just finished reading Darkship Thieves, and my first thought was: Excellent! It’s the first of a series!

The only thing better than reading a good book is discovering there are others like it lined up in a nice, neat row.

Hoyt’s feisty main character gets to be tougher than nails…but also displays the doubts and insecurities of a nineteen-year-old torn from everything she has ever known.

Three centuries ago, human society was blown apart by bio-engineering gone horribly wrong. The failed experiment casts a long shadow, catching up in its net two vastly different people from vastly different worlds.

Patrician Athena Hera Sinistra is a human from Earth–and a survivor. Wakened from sound sleep by the survival instinct that served her well in reformatories and insane asylums, Thena outfights, outwits, and outruns her father’s goons, bent on mutiny while returning to Earth.

Problem is, she gets stuck in a drifting lifepod with nowhere to run to…except for the ship of bio-engineered Christopher Klaavik, engaged in the illegal harvesting of pods from the semi-organic powertrees that provide Earth with a renewable source of energy. Problem is, Kit works on behalf of Eden, the mythic haven of the renegade refugees from Earth’s long-ago genetic cleansing.

Reared from infancy to hate and fear each other on sight, Athena and Kit discover a growing mutual respect and attraction displacing ingrained prejudices.

But they can’t outrun their pasts, or the plots in which they are only pawns.

I like character-driven stories, and Hoyt delivered there. But I also enjoyed her world-building, where societal norms are driven by tyranny, libertarianism, self-interest…and in the end, the human heart.

Darkship Thieves is the kind of book I like to enjoy with a pot of tea and home-made biscotti for a thoroughly enjoyable evening escape.


On the Wings of Dragons

I think I was in late grade school or early high school when I first read Dragon Riders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey. My eldest sister handed it to me, saying, “I think you’ll like this.” And just like that, I was hooked, catching up with ones already published, waiting for the next one out. Swallowing up The Ship Who Sang in one sitting…

McCaffrey stood out from the other SF authors I first read because of the way she integrated music into her stories. Sometimes as the stage setting, sometimes, as in the Harper Hall Trilogy, taking front and center. To this day, I still think about Menolly and her struggle to become a harper. Music is a vital part of my life, and her work resonated with me. (It holds true for me as a writer, as well. In my first book, Forge, the hero saves himself from death-by-trash-recycling by singing raucously–and drunkenly–enough to be heard by the tech who was about to hit the waste-processing button. You can read the first three chapters here.)

In celebration of Anne McCaffrey’s birthday–and her love of music–here is one of the filk tunes from the Masterharper of Pern CD.

Care to share your first memory of reading McCaffrey, or perhaps meeting her at a con? Please leave a comment!



Fables and Universal Truths

“Fable is more historical than fact, because fact tells us about one man and fable tells us about a million men.” – GK Chesterton

The father of a friend of mine never read fiction. Fiction “wasn’t true,” and therefore a “waste of time.” Too bad he never heard Chesterton’s quote. GK was onto something. Jung’s version was “the most personal is the most universal.” And this is the truth that drives good fiction.

Now, I’m not saying all fiction is created equal. There’s quite a lot of dreck that is a complete waste of time. But…I love the stories where heroes rise up in defense of the good, the true, the honorable; where love, sacrifice, and courage matter.

In our daily rounds of facts, seldom do we notice how one life well-lived makes a positive difference in the lives of others; in the life of the world. Biographies give us the example of a great person. But we can easily excuse ourselves from being a Washington, a Lincoln, a Gandhi…a Jesus. Or we can console ourselves, that at least we are not Stalin, Pol Pot, or Hitler. But the fluidity of fiction invites us to identify with the hero. Fiction gives us a chance to see the truths within us. Good fiction celebrates the power of the human spirit. Looking into the mirror of fiction, we see not only the best (and sometimes the worst) of ourselves–but of humankind.

Or, as another good friend has said: “You may not like it, but you’re an awful lot like me.”

Rites of Spring Blog Hop

Hello SF/SFR fans, and welcome to my stop on the Rites of Spring Blog Hop! Instructions for the giveaway are at the end of the post.

Here in cyberspace, the harbingers of the season aren’t the greening of the grass, the warming of the winds, or lengthening days borne in on the wings of returning birds. Instead, we offer you the opportunity to load your e-reader (or your nightstand) with books you’ll want to curl up with during the last chilly nights–and take to the beach on the first warm days.

If you like epic SF, with a dash of the Celtic, and a story where love matters…then “FORGE: Book I of the Thrall Web Series” is your kind of book. Think “Jason Bourne meets Braveheart in space.” Now add dark scary bad guys….

The Khevox are race of amoral psychic predators who fuel their powers with the life energy of slaves harnessed to their masters’ will by the thrall web, etched into their skin in a brutal rite of binding.

The psychically gifted humans of the Scotian Realm, warned by their high king’s vision, have been expecting the arrival of an enemy who will enslave them, body and soul. While they don’t know the identity of the enemy, they know their only hope of victory is an alliance among the three peoples, Scotians in partnership with the wary and distrustful reptilian Xerni and Tormin amphibs of the neighboring star domains.

No one recognizes the enemy already walks among them. No one dreams the fate of the three peoples is tied to the destiny of a man unjustly trapped in the chains of an indentured servant–an izzy.

Keir, found naked and crashed out, is an unidentifiable and mindblind amnesiac known only as “Tazhret”–“Nameless” in the Tormin tongue. Sentenced to servitude, he survives on scraps of kindness from his master’s mate–and clings to the vision of a woman with nut-brown hair, who insists he has a good name.

In the snippet I’ve chosen for this event, this is Keir’s first flesh-and-blood encounter with the woman who has haunted his dreams for two years; the woman who has just healed him, and dragged him from the edge of death…


   Black and total. The darkness of a sunless cavern deep in the bowels of the earth where Scotian demons cavorted with the Te, dark gods of the Xerni, toying with their mortal victims. [Keir] struggled against rock from the devil’s furnace. Crushed, cut, seared, pinned helpless. Dirt gritted in his mouth and nose, filled his lungs, and choked him. In an agony of effort, he clawed the burning rock, fought for every breath. But the rock was impervious, and the weight grew heavier. His body melded into the earth, while the demons laughed in the dark.
   A spark danced across his vision, breaking the black. Flaring brighter, it moved over him and freed him from the fiery, entombing dark. A voice, unrecognized yet familiar, insisted he leave the clutching shadows behind and join her in the light. His stumbling steps grew more confident, and he followed the voice down a long road from the darkness.
   He opened his eyes.
   I’m either dreaming, or I’m dead. The muzzy-headed thought held no particular terror for him. Wherever he was, she was there—nut-brown hair, pale skin, and large amber eyes flecked with topaz and emerald. She smelled of rain, of the clean thunderstorm sweeping over the green river valley. She was so beautiful. Just like he remembered. He would have smiled, but he was so very tired.
   A cool hand touched his burning forehead, and he fell into deep sleep.



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Thank you for joining us for the “Rites of Spring Blog Hop.” Enjoy the rest of your tour. Keep your hands inside the shuttle, and watch out for twisting wormholes!

Return to Rites of Spring:

“Star of the County Down”

Top o’the Mornin’ to you!

I like to post things musical on Mondays. I figure everybody’s spirits can use a little lift, facing into another busy week.

Given that yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day (Did you wear green? I did!) my taste is running toward the Celtic. For me, it’s a pretty short leap from Celtic to the Scotian Realm…which leads me directly to “Star of the County Down.” This is an old Irish folk tune  I claimed as part of the musical heritage of the Scotian Realm–mainly because I had the image of a “girl with nut-brown hair.” I must have heard this song sometime in my life, because I recalled that scrap of lyric. But I had to find it on to remember the whole–and it was perfect, because it’s just the kind of song you can sing in haze of drunken glory.

For Keir, the hero of FORGE, this song saves his life at the beginning of the book. Abandoned to die in the lunar transfer station’s waste processing center, he makes enough noise with his lusty rendition of this tune that the izzy (indentured servant) making her rounds decides to investigate before hitting the button and disintegrating the day’s refuse…and him along with it. (Moral of the story: You never know when a song will make your day!)

Here’s the version from a small venue in 1999 by Van Morrison and The Chieftains. Enjoy, and have a wonderful week!

Welcome…Guest Author Robert Roman!

very pleased to welcome Robert Roman to my blog today. Bob and I have been writing buddies for a while now, and there’s a reason: I enjoy his stories! I’m reading both of his online Juke Pop Serials, and I want to find out how they end, so please…go out and give them votes!

And now, without further ado, here’s Bob:

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I’m writing two simultaneous serials at the moment, as well as holding down a full time (645a-445p) teaching job, so the idea of “when I’m not writing” sounds a little silly, but lately my free time has been spent playing Mass Effect 3 with my wife and Pokemon with my son. 

What would you do with a time machine?

I’m a big Doctor Who fan; what wouldn’t I do with a time machine? 

What do you enjoy reading? What’s in your TBR pile?

Of course! I’ve just finished rereading the Wheel of Time series, and I’m waiting to get my hands on the last book. I’ve also just caught up with the Dresden Files, read Redshirts, and started reading the Old Man’s War series. That’s about all that’s in my TBR pile for certain right now. 

What authors have influenced your writing?

Tolkien. Moorcock. Cooper. Weber. Lackey. Ringo. Jordan. Butcher. Westerfeld. Sanderson. Briggs.

Also, and he gets his own paragraph because I am a huge fanboy, Pratchett.

What genre(s) do you write in? What attracts you to it/them?

Ah, the Genre question! I write in Steam Punk, Fantasy (both Urban and Contemporary), Science Fiction and, occasionally, Romance. Much to the dismay of everyone who tries to sell my work, I often do so all at the same time.

I’ve been told by my friend Maureen (and others) that I actually write Horror, but that’s not true. I…just frequently find myself using the elements of Horror when writing my fiction. I think the reason I do that is because Horror, like Romance, evokes such visceral reactions, whereas the stereotypical Science Fiction or Fantasy story evokes very ephemeral, intellectual reactions, and sometimes those just aren’t what I’m going for. Fantasy and Science fiction both have the potential to show very vivid, moving things, and I try to do that. Sometimes I even succeed.

I’ve also been told I write humor, only not really. Some said I take all of the elements of a completely over the top, campy humor story and then write them completely seriously. Which, if you think about it, may be another place the Horror comes from.

What’s your day job? Does it affect your writing?

I’m a teacher, and it does. First and foremost, it takes up an enormous amount of raw time. I mentioned the 645 to 445 schedule before, and that’s before any time spent grading papers, preparing lessons, or anything like that. The extra time mostly goes to working with my students in a mentor capacity. I work at an Urban school, and a lot of the kids don’t have any adults they trust. I figure for every non-school question I answer, that’s another few minutes (hours? days?) they have to spend thinking about school stuff.

On the other hand, my students inspire me. I see kids walking to school every single day with no coat, and I’ve found out later they’re doing it because there’s no one at home to buy them a coat, because “home” is an abandoned building. When a kid like that is making it to school every day, I have no excuse why I can’t spend an hour writing every day.

Also, some of my students are just such… characters. For example, if ever one of my characters says “made me feel some kinda way,” one of my students (she knows who she is, and she’s a “Genius!”) is directly responsible.

Note…Bob didn’t mention it here, but if you go out to his website, you’ll see that he plans to split half the money he earns from writing between his school science lab and his student Anime, SF, Game & Writing Club. You can help just by reading and voting for his online Juke Pop serials (fun, easy & free!) Check out to learn more.

Tell us about your new release.

One of my two current serials is Blank, a Young Adult Space Opera. It’s an ongoing YA serial, so a hard wordcount isn’t available, but I expect it to wind up around 70,000 words. It’s the first in a three book planned series.

Describe the hero &/or heroine in three words each. What two words best sum up their relationship?

– Dustie (the Heroine) – Focused, Haunted, Conflicted
– Tomas (Hero #1 (there’s always a love triangle)) – Solid, Prepared, Considerate
– Guy (Hero #2) – Dashing, Snarky, Secretive
– Dustie & Tomas – Cyrano, Roxanne
– Dustie & Guy – Primal, Misunderstood

Who is your favorite character from this book? (Can you include an excerpt involving this character?)

Dustie, definitely.
(See below for excerpt.)

What other titles do you have published? (Please include a brief sentence or two about each.)

Blue Bloods Everyday heroes gifted with superpowers in the wake of global catastrophe!
The Strange Fate of Capricious Jones – A mother is betrayed at 30,000 feet, a motherless daughter finds peril in the middle of a war. Steam (Diesel Steam) Punk!.
A Christmas Evening Vigil – Sequel to Cap Jones. Leigh Abrams comes into her own. Steam Punk Christmas Sweet Military Romance with Heroic Cyborg Zombies and Skateboarding Diesel Powered Giant Mecha.
Road Mage – A handicapped mage with a checkered past must fight against an evil sorcerer everyone else thinks is a hero (strong language)
Fae Eye for the Golem Guy – Micah Slate has fallen for Ophilia Morgan, but she doesn’t know he exists. Leave it to his Pixie Godfather to make things right! (Adults Only, some explicit scenes.)
What Not to Fear – Sequel to Fae Eye. Michaela Miles is a fallen angel trying to make her way as a police officer. Her new partner, George Matthew Franklin, (Micah and Ophilia’s godson) isn’t making that any easier, and the demon stalking the town is just the icing on the cake. Pixie Godfathers to the rescue again! (Adults Only, some explicit scenes.)

Where can my readers find you?

Where can my readers find your books?

Blank (free, but please vote!) –
Blue Bloods (free, but please vote!) –
The Strange Fate of Capricious Jones –
A Christmas Evening Vigil –
Road Mage –
Fae Eye for the Golem Guy –
What Not to Fear –


I stood transfixed, staring at the beautiful, deadly armor at the far end of the bay, until the sound of a throat clearing startled me out of my reverie. I turned to face the young man I assumed was the Middie First, a little surprised that my clone father’s memories hadn’t sparked at the sight of the Dragon armor. I opened my mouth to report, and a thousand images washed over me. Grace, her hair a living beacon of red and gold. Her augments, green fire crackling across her skin, frying ‘Sect and ‘Mech and Vulg’ alike, no matter which dared touch her. Her armor, viper fast, incalculably strong, and powered by the captured heart of a collapsed star, flashing scarlet and gold in the light of a dying ‘Sect dreadnaught.


I came back to myself at the Middie First’s deep bass bark. I gripped his left hand in my right, squeezing across the palm in a crusher grip, holding it centimeters from my shoulder. By the look of him, he could have broken the hold without trying, but for some reason he was just staring at me. With arms that thick and a chest that broad, I wouldn’t have been surprised if he could break me in half at the waist. A quick glance at his armor, gaping open like a steamed clam, corrected my earlier mistake. He wasn’t piloting training armor, he was piloting a suit of heavily reinforced combat armor with absolutely no decoration, just the gray on white of a unit assigned to a school ship. I looked back at him, only to find him staring pointedly at my fingers gripping his hand.

“Sorry.” I let go of him, pulling my hand behind my back. Trying to make amends, I nodded toward his armor. “That looks really durable.”

He grinned, shaking his hand as he did so. I knew I hadn’t really hurt him, but it was nice of him to act like it. “Thanks. I’m gonna major in Armoring when I make Senior.” Despite his grin, he didn’t meet my eye. Instead he gestured to the EVA suit. “Commandant DeLann is waiting.”

I took First Officer Quick’s hint and got myself into the suit. When my sopping wet dress uniform stuck in one of the sleeves, the First grabbed it and pulled it up over my arm. One limb at a time, he helped me force the EVA suit on over my recalcitrant uniform. Finally he pulled the seal shut on the front. He tried to anyway. He stopped with one hand on each lapel, looking anywhere but my breasts. I sighed, grabbed the lapels away from him, and forced the seals shut. He moved to pull the helmet over my head, but I brushed him away and seated it myself.

The moment the helmet sealed, the world went silent save for my own breath and the quiet squish of sodden fabric. The First blushed and stepped away. He backed into his armor, slamming his arms into the forearm grips as he did. It closed over him, the armored plates, long curved claw-arms and short, powerful legs giving it almost crab-like appearance.

I hadn’t done much EVA work in the Rim Fleet. Out on the edge, we practiced for powered armor combat, but we mostly thought anyone who came all the way from another galaxy with a fight in mind would be riding in something that would take serious ship-based weapons to deal with. I’d have to get used to the way the rest of the Imperial Fleets relied on their Armor for just about everything. Without a set of armor of my own, I was stuck in an EVA suit like a little kid or a Civ.

The First finished his preflight and reached out with one big, claw-like hand to pick me up. I stiffened at being treated like a child, but the bay was already venting to vacuum. With no air in the room his externals wouldn’t pick it up if I shouted at him, and he hadn’t opened a com line. All I could do was fume quietly while he carried me to the bay door.

Once we left the bay, the view washed my anger clean away. Stars like a solid, glowing belt arced across the endless black of space. Beauty warred with claustrophobia somewhere in my gut, and despite all I’d been through today, beauty was winning. Before I could soak it all in, the First engaged his armor’s drives, turning us about and pushing us away from the bay. After a minute or so, we spun about and there, like a huge buckle on the broad belt of the Milky Way, my new home glowed brilliant red and gold.

“Gorgeous, isn’t it?”

I hadn’t heard the click of the com line opening, and for a moment I was too overwhelmed by the stars and ship to reply. My claustrophobia was fighting a heroic delaying action in the pit of my stomach, but my heart was racing and my eyes felt like they were going to pop out of my head. I wanted nothing more than to stay right here ogling the splendor of the stars and my new home among them.

Yeah, EVA is like that.

Thanks, Bob, for visiting today. I’m looking forward to the next installments of Blank and Blue Bloods on Juke Pop Serials…so keep writing those chapters! Meanwhile, I’m gonna go hide the keys to the TARDIS.

SFR Brigade Presents…FORGE

Welcome! I’m glad to have you stop by this corner of “SFR Brigade Presents…”

So you think you’re having a bad day? Imagine waking up from a nightmare of enslavement…in jail. With no idea how you got there, or even who you are. You’re “Tazhret”…”Nameless.” You’ve been accused of being a drug addict–because they found you rocketed on an illegal hallucinogen. And now, you’re about to be turned into an indentured servant–an izzy. You’d probably be looking for a lifeline, too. Someone–even if she might be only the product of your drug-fueled hallucinations–who tells you what you most need to hear….


Rough hands hauled him off the cot. Dizzied, he stumbled between the deputies, his steps dragging out of the cell, across the back of a large room crowded with desks, toward an oversized, dull-metal armchair, covered with straps. He stopped short on a hard gasp. The deputies pushed him forward.

“Move along, Tazhret,” the chief constable ordered. “This is your simplest path to a fresh start—”

Tazhret erupted into sudden violence, twisting out of the deputies’ grasp, jamming his elbows into their guts. They doubled over. A right cross to the chief’s jaw rocked the Tormin back.

Tazhret ran. Ran toward the exit, almost flying in light gravity. Must be on a lunar transfer station—

The electric hammer of a hurled shockstick hit him in the back of his head, fried his nerves, and plunged him back into darkness. Chains waited for him there, and an evil master. And a woman with nut-brown hair, who whispered, “You have a name.”

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SFR Brigade Presents…

Welcome! I’m glad to have you stop by this corner of “SFR Brigade Presents…”

For my first appearance here, I’ve got a snippet from my first book: “FORGE: Book I of the Thrall Web Series.”

Brief set-up: Keir–once a “half-starved izzy, mostly a lump of scars inside and out”– is now fully healed. In command of his talent, he leads the effort to save the planet Forge from cataclysm. As the first step, he must establish, on the psychic plane, a rapport with the woman who healed him. The same woman who has haunted his dreams since he first lost his name, his talent, and all his former life. (Nica’s full name has been deleted in order to reduce the spoiler-lishness of the clip….)

The scar down the left side of his face throbbed with the beat of his racing heart, as the healer raised her hand and laid it over the old wound. Avatar-to-avatar…and yet his skin warmed to her touch. Trinity, she was so close, he could kiss—

She took his hand, pulled up his sleeve, and showed him his wrist, with its wide, white scar—now pulsing with a golden glow.

“Keir, what…?” She brushed the tip of one finger across the remnant of his shackles.

Keir’s skin tingled. His heart skipped a beat, only to pound still faster with the desire to touch her in return. She was no longer a phantasm woven of scoot hallucinations and desperate hope. She was there, flesh-and-blood on the physical plane—there on the energy plane where thoughts and emotions took on the solidity of rock. With the embodiment of his dreams before him, Keir reined in his yearning heart. Nica he could have loved with honor. [The lady healer-adept] was beyond his touch. He gently reclaimed his hand, tugging the sleeve over the shimmering scar.

“I wear the gift of a healer’s touch, milady, and have mended well.”

Buy FORGE here.
~120k words. Semi-sweet. Epic adventure.

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