Sample Chapter: Winter Song – Day 4

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Angry Robot (www.angryrobotbooks.com) has offered up 5 daily sample chapters from Winter Song, by Colin Harvey!

Three
Loki

The world through your eyes is full of pain and wonder, made even stranger by the whirlwind of voices shrieking for your attention:
“The Mizar Quartet are Sol-type hydrogen-fusing dwarf stars–”
“Isheimuri lingua confirmed as mix of Standard and Icelandic–”
Some voices verge on making sense, but most babble gibberish. Each is accompanied by a dizzying sense of vertigo, and little shocks deep inside your body. Occasionally you smell burning. Sometimes you taste colours, can hear, flickering jeering shadows.
“Absolute magnitude uses the same convention as visual–”
You are dimly aware that the nanophytes within you that keep your muscle tone even as you waste away are locked in a desperate fight against the cannibal predations of the remaining lifegel in a near sub-atomic battle of the idiots. Either through accident or a design flaw, the inhibitors appear to have failed, and if left to themselves will eat you alive.
“The Long Night was the longest conflict since the Hundred Years War–”
A strangely familiar voice cries out, “I won’t lie down and die!”
“The Isheimur populace is likely to suffer genetic drift and disease–”
The man Ragnar’s voice is a rumble from a mouth full of misshapen teeth, his words unintelligible.
“Pappi: estimated height one-metre-eighty, mass eighty kilos–”
The woman beside him answers, her voice lower. Her hair is lighter, but her features equally mismatched, one shoulder slightly higher than the other.
“Oedipus: son of King Laius and Jocasta of Thebes–”
You realize that the voice refusing to die was your own, but it sounds strange. It should be alto but is tenor instead. Perhaps your voice-box was damaged in the accident?
“Pantropy lost favour as Terraforming grew easier–”
The accident. The pain increases as a shard of memory brings with its suddenly perfect recall the accompanying agony: The smell of burning dust, the isolation, the heat. After a while your throat hurts with the scream – which tails off into a whimper.
“A quasar at absolute magnitude −25.5 is 100 times brighter than our galaxy–”
The girl – barely a woman – Bera strokes your head. “Hush, Pappi, he kannske skilja you,” she says. Her breasts ooze milk, and a part of you realizes that while she has given birth in the last three weeks for there to be lactation, there is no sound of a baby. The rational corner of your mind tucks this away for later, but the animal part that has control has you lunging forward on all fours, scrabbling at her clothes.
“Humanity only found other sentient life after four centuries of spaceflight–”

Read moreSample Chapter: Winter Song – Day 4

Sample Chapter: Winter Song – Day 3

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Angry Robot (www.angryrobotbooks.com) has offered up 5 daily sample chapters from Winter Song, by Colin Harvey!

Later, as Bera loaded up the vast tin bath with clothes and ran water from the hot tap into it, it struck her as odd that shape-shifters were always lumped into the same category as trolls and outlaws, snolfurs and other predators. But shape-shifters were so rare that no one – as far as she knew – had ever definitely been attacked by one. Maybe, if she could snatch five minutes on the Oracle later, she’d search.
She managed to turn the tap off before boiling water ran over the pan’s lip; at least – for all Hilda’s carping – there was no shortage of heat and hot water. It was a shame that, according to the Oracle, there was no longer the resource to tip Isheimur’s boundless low-level geo-thermal energy into full-scale vulcanism.
She was used to washing by hand. The farm had finally run out of parts for the antique washing machine when Bera had first arrived from the North, and the Norns refused to consider such parts life-saving, so their petitions via the Oracle for replacements had been useless. But she hated the way it chapped her hands, and the effort required to wring out the sopping clothes left her hands and shoulders aching. Still, she managed to wrestle the sodden blouses and shirts into the mangle, bolt the rollers into place, then turn the handle against a wall of inertia.
She jumped at the voice; “You want help?”
She turned. “Oh, Yngi, you startled me.” Isheimur only knew how Yngi the Halt with his club foot had managed to creep up on her.
His freckled face was as transparent as any window, so she saw his disappointment. She added hastily, “I know you didn’t mean to, but you should cough or clear your throat, or–”
“Okay, Bera.” he said. Ruddy features lit up:“You need help with that? I’m stronger than you are, even if I’m not as clever.”
She shook her head. “No thanks, Yngi. I’m almost done.”
He turned to go, just as Thorbjorg’s voice cut across them: “Yngvar Ragnarsson, get away from that whore!”
Yngi cringed, and Bera swung round at his wife, anger at one humiliation too many finally breaking her self-control. Before she could speak, a shriek from the courtyard interrupted them: “Grandpappi! Granpappi’s coming!”
Bera and Thorbjorg rushed out into the courtyard, Yngi hobbling behind. Both suns were now high in the sky, and Bera had to blink to focus. She followed the other’s gaze down the valley to west, and the men returning from a week at the Summer Fair.
The two men at the front of the group rode shaggy Isheimuri horses, which stood only chest high to a tall man, but were formidably strong. Ragnar liked to brag that his was the strongest horse on Isheimur, and the chunky buttermilk-coloured stallion needed to be to carry his owner and his belongings, which between them probably massed over a hundred and fifty kilos. Arnbjorn rode a slightly smaller horse alongside him.
Surprisingly the other two horses were riderless, and Ragnar’s tenant farmers walked beside their mounts, which were dragging something, but Bera couldn’t make out what it was. Bringing up the rear of the procession were the farmer’s eldest sons. Both had been unbearable ever since Ragnar had agreed to take them to the Summer Fair, and Bera suspected that they would be even more conceited now they had been, and would consider themselves too grand to mix with children. One had been flirting with Bera before she’d become pregnant, but had quickly lost interest when he learned of her condition, and probably wouldn’t even speak to her now.

Read moreSample Chapter: Winter Song – Day 3

Book Giveaway: Bite Marks and More!

I have autographed copies of Bite Marks by Jennifer Rardin for two lucky winners!

AND autographed copies of the mass market versions of Once Bitten, Twice Shy; Another One Bites the Dust and Biting the Bullet by Jennifer Rardin for two lucky winners!

Contest is open to US residents only. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends November 20. I’ll draw names on November 21, and notify winners via email.

Good luck!

Read moreBook Giveaway: Bite Marks and More!

Sample Chapter: Winter Song – Day 2

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Angry Robot (www.angryrobotbooks.com) has offered up 5 daily sample chapters from Winter Song, by Colin Harvey!


Two
Bera

Bera wanted to scream her grief at the night, but that would rouse the farmyard dogs. That would in turn wake the sleepers. She already felt so raw that she might as well have been scoured by sandpaper, and a public lecture from Hilda was more than she could face, so she clamped her jaw shut until it ached.
The farmyard was so cold that her breath threatened to freeze solid in the midnight air – not that Isheimur’s midnight-sky was like other worlds, she gathered:. It would be another five weeks until the equinox, when the Mizar quartet would line up together on Isheimur’s far side, with only the twin moons, Stor and Litid, to illuminate the true-dark for a few hours. Until then, though Gamasol and Deltasol had set within a few hours of one another, the further pair was still high in the sky.
That she could see where to put her feet on the rocky slope up to the grave made the act of mourning her dead son easier, and at least Ragnar had allowed her to bury Palli here, rather than in open ground. The graveyard was in a pocket of such boulder-strewn land that it was good for nothing else, unlike the rest of the valley. Its rocky border at least protected the bodies from burrowing marauders. Snolfurs were another matter – only a precious bullet or arrow would deter one of them.
She clambered past a tapped-out steam-vent which no longer gave its energy to the generator, the metre-wide pipe to the water tank down the hill now disconnected. Putting the sprig of lavender on the unmarked cairn was a pathetic little token, but it was all she had. At the thought of Palli’s little face turning blue, the tears started up again, half-blinding her, freezing on her face as they trickled down.
She crouched, offering prayers, to Wotan, Yahweh – any of the old ones who might exist, just in case – to take care of Palli. Assuming that there was an afterlife, rather than just mouldering in the dirt.
Wiping her eyes, she glimpsed something streak above the top of the Reykleif hills in a flat curve, so it couldn’t be a shape-shifter; nor did any troll ever move that fast. It was fiery bright, so it was most likely a meteor, she decided.
Standing again, she winced. Moving sent slivers of pain shooting through her cramped-up feet, numb even through the fur-lined house-shoes. Taking outside boots would have meant stumbling around in the boot-room, perhaps falling over one of the sleeping farmhands. She didn’t want that. Better her feet froze than to admit to the other women that she still grieved for her beloved bastard.
If her body didn’t give her away: ten days after burying him, her breasts were still swollen and sore, her blouses sodden even through the wadding that she’d shoved into her bra. The others must have noticed, but if they had, for once – in a rare show of restraint – they had said nothing.

Read moreSample Chapter: Winter Song – Day 2

Book Review: Indiana Jones and the Army of the Dead

Indiana Jones and the Army of the Dead

Indiana Jones and the Army of the Dead, by Steve Perry

In Indiana Jones’ latest adventure, he and friend Mac head to a small island in Haiti in search of a legendary black pearl. The pearl is known as the Heart of Darkness, and is said to have magical properties. Hot on their trail are German and Japanese agents, who want the pearl for themselves. But the most dangerous adversary is already on the island, a practitioner of voodoo, able to control bodies of the dead and the living.

This latest novel contains all of the action and adventure that are synonymous with the name Indiana Jones. And, of course, Indy has a love interest in the form of a beautiful guide, who has some secrets of her own. With more than Indy’s usual share of adversaries, the narrative jumps around from group to group. I wish more time would have been spent on Indy and his crew, rather than focusing so much on the Germans, Japanese, and the voodoo priest individually. Besides Indy, the most time is spent on developing the voodoo priest’s character and his simple motivation of a hunger for power. But, not spending enough time with Indiana Jones’ character is probably my only complaint. The story is definitely action-heavy, and plot and character-light. Which, is really what we’ve come to expect from the series.

Indiana Jones fans will enjoy this exciting and fast-paced treasure hunt through the jungle. Perry even included plenty of references to Indy’s previous adventures, some known and unknown. With endless zombies to battle, the suspense is continually built up to the final showdown, where all parties battle to escape and still hold onto the black pearl. I can’t get enough of the archeologist and adventurer, and certainly hope Del Rey continues the Indiana Jones series in novel form.

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