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Sep 30, 2013

New SF Anthology: Space Jockey

Have you had a change to check out my new science fiction anthology? You can download it on Kindle for only $2.99! 

And if you've already read it, don't forget to leave a review!



A science fiction anthology about that classic career of the future… space pilot.

A young pilot thinks he knows the cost of war. Until he opens a forbidden door…

If you’re piloting a cargo of convicts on Titan, you’re already in trouble. Things can still get worse.

After the war, humanity gave up dreaming of the stars. But not him.

Can a fleet of ships run by citizens stop famine from being used as a weapon?

Every time he traveled to another world, he lost a little more of himself. Now they wanted him to make one last trip....

And more!

The anthology includes ten short stories, two novelettes, and one full novella, featuring stories by:

Scott Whitmore | Ethan Rodgers | Algis Budrys | Steve Brady
Jonathan Von Post | Adrian Tymes | M. Pax | Tara Maya | Jack Skillingstead
George Zhao | Jillian Romanowski | Philip K. Dick | Andrew Vu | Josef Vasicek



Learn More about the Worlds in Space Jockey


SHORT STORIES

Scott Whitmore – Green Zulu Five One
A young pilot thinks he knows the cost of war. Until he opens a forbidden door…
FIRST LINE: Tyko killed the first two Vyptellians quickly enough, sending bright green streams of charged slugs into spacefighters that were now millions of pieces of space debris….
Keep reading, “Green Zulu Five One”
Novel Excerpt: The Devil’s Harvest by Scott Whitmore

Ethan Rodgers – Farsider
If you’re piloting a cargo of murderers and rapists on Titan, you’re already in trouble. Things can still get worse.
FIRST LINE: I take a long drag from my cigarette, watching the androids load the metal pod onto the cargo deck under the supervision of four armed guards….
Keep reading, “Farsider”

Algis Budrys – The Stoker and the Stars
After the war, humanity gave up dreaming of the stars. But not him.
FIRST LINE: It was after the war, and we were beaten….
Keep reading, “The Stoker and the Stars”

Steve Brady – Going Hyperdown
Was letting this institution turn his brain inside out the best thing he could do for everybody in the galaxy?
FIRST LINE: Right eye day: the left eye was covered today. With one eye, which meant poor depth perception even in 3-D, Djonn went through all the four-dimensional (hyper) kinesthesia exercises….
Keep reading, “Going Hyperdown”

Jonathan Von Post – Garrett Lisi’s Exceptionally Simple Theory of E8 Stardrive
An advanced stardrive can turn the universe inside out. But it’s still not as twisted as the drive for revenge.
FIRST LINE: As I squeezed into the cockpit of the first starship, I had one last question….
Keep reading, “E8 Stardrive”

Adrian Tymes – AFK (Away from Keyboard)
For them, it was worth a fortune. For him, it was a part time job.
FIRST LINE: Rodrigo massaged his neck and shoulders as his computer logged in….
Keep reading, “AFK (Away from Keyboard)”

Tara Maya – Food, Peace, Power
Can a fleet of ships run by citizens stop famine from being used as a weapon?
FIRST LINE: Peace is always maintained by power; the only question is whose power….
Keep reading, “Food, Peace, Power”

Jack Skillingstead – Dead Worlds
Every time he traveled to another world, he lost a little more of himself. Now they wanted him to make one last trip.
FIRST LINE: A week after my retrieval, I went for a drive in the country….
Keep reading, “Dead Worlds”

Jillian Romanowski – 2134
She was reunited on the ship with the boy she loved—but he was promised to someone else.
FIRST LINE: I'm going to be collected tonight. The inevitable has finally arrived and I didn't even get to say goodbye to him….
Keep reading, “2134”

Andrew Vu – The End of the Universe
The end is near. Just not in the way you think.
FIRST LINE: How else would one traverse infinite space? One individual, one soul, isn’t enough to map out the universe….
Keep reading, “The End of the Universe”


NOVELETTES


Philip K. Dick – Mr. Spaceship
How can you defeat living ships? With a living ship of your own…
FIRST LINE: Kramer leaned back. “You can see the situation. How can we deal with a factor like this? The perfect variable.”
Keep reading, “Mr. Spaceship”

George Zhao – Eyes on the Universe
How far would you go to prove a theory? How about 8000 lightyears?
FIRST LINE: The human body doesn't really appreciate being vitrified and cryo-preserved….
Keep reading, “Eyes on the Universe”

M. Pax – Semper Audacia
She was the last one left. But she wasn’t about to give up.
FIRST LINE: The claxon blasted through the outpost. Leda vaulted onto her feet, reaching for the rings hanging above her bunk….
Keep reading, “Semper Audacia”


NOVELLA


Joself Vasicek – Star Wanderers: Outworlder
He was searching for a home. Instead, he found a girl without one.
FIRST LINE: Jeremiah knew something was wrong the moment he stepped out of the Ariadne’s airlock and onto Megiddo Station….
Keep reading, “Star Wanderers: Outworlder”




ENTER OUR CONTEST!

Win a FREE book if you can answer this question: In how many stories in Space Jockey does the hero physically pilot or ride in a ship, and in how many does the hero pilot the ship remotely?
EMAIL YOUR ANSWERS TO: contest@misquepress.com
Reviewers will be allowed a double entry in the contest. Sign up here for your review copy.




30. Secret Practice in the Woods




"Moth Dancer" by Electric Rainbow

Brena

Before dawn, the clanhold of Sycamore Stands already throbbed with the sounds of women pounding nuts. The astringent smell of acorn drifted from the leeching ditches between the clay domed huts. Once Zavaedi Brena made certain her snoopy neighbor, Auntie Ula, was not following her, she urged her two daughters, Gwena and Gwenika, past the clanhold stocade, down the embankment, to a spot hidden by sycamore trees. They did this every morning, yet every morning Brena had to battle all over again to force them to move, as if it were the first time.

Gwena, the oldest, spent an inordinate amount of time combing her hair. On the way to the woods, she craned her neck to attract the attention of young men burning brush for gardens. Several of the hoolilgans smiled at her like idiots, until they saw Brena and hastened back to work.

Gwenika, younger by two years, started her whining earlier than usual. “Do I have to practice today?”

Yes. You have to practice everyday.”

 “But I’m feeling very dizzy this morning.”

“Hrmf.” Brena still smarted from her cousin Ula’s admonishments last night. For fifteen years Ula had failed to have children of her own, but she insisted on lecturing those who did. “You’re too soft on the girls, that’s why the little one is so lazy. A good mother wouldn’t put up with that.” In the next breath, Auntie Ula went on to say, “And why do you push those girls so hard? It isn’t natural for a mother to put so much pressure on her daughters to become Tavaedies. What’s wrong if they just want to be wives and mothers?”

Brena wanted to shake her. Well, which is it? Am I an unfit mother because I’m too soft on them or an unfit mother because I’m too hard on them? She already knew the answer. She couldn’t win either way. A woman, even a Zavaedi, had no business raising a family without a man, and Brena had made it clear to the whole clanhold years ago that one husband had left her bitter enough for a lifetime. The last thing she needed was another man in her life.

And if my girls become Tavaedies, they won’t be dependent on a having a husband to tend their fields either. After her husband died, what would have been her lot if she had not been a member of the secret society, able to earn gifts from the community by her own skills? With one hungry babe toddling at her feet and a belly full of a babe to come...she shuddered at the memory. It had been hard enough as it was, returning to the troop after she’d quit to raise her family.

She checked the clearing again to assure they had privacy, then clapped her hands to retrieve her daughters’ errant attention. “Today, girls, I want to see you walk through the Badger and Deer Positions, in both the Still and Moving forms.”

“Yes, Mama,” they chimed. Warblers chirped overhead.

"Dancer in the Dark" by marlene-d


“Begin girls!” commanded Tavaedi Brena. “Deer Leaps, from Still to Moving.”  

Gwena flawlessly performed the steps several times. Gwenika, however, slumped through the forms with limp arms. She kicked at the dry leaves on the ground, then bent to pick up one of the spiky sycamore balls that littered the dust of the clearing.

“Can we dance somewhere else? These keep poking my feet.”

“No,” said Brena. “This is the safest place. I don’t want anyone spying on us.”

“How can you expect me to dance with poked feet?”

“Gwenika.” Every day it was some new complaint. Maybe Auntie Ula is right. I must have done something wrong with this one.

“Besides, my head is spinning. I’m feeling dizzy again.”

“Gwenika, I’ve told you—”

 “Also, I’m suffering from fatigue. And my heart is beating more rapidly than usual.”

“Your heart is supposed to be beating more rapidly. You’re exercising.”

“Yes, but my face is…


TO BE CONTINUED












TO BE CONTINUED

Frost by Kate Avery Ellison

In the icy, monster-plagued world of the Frost, one wrong move and a person could end up dead—and Lia Weaver knows this better than anyone. After monsters kill her parents, she must keep the family farm running despite the freezing cold and threat of monster attacks or risk losing her siblings to reassignment by the village Elders. With dangers on all sides and failure just one wrong step away, she can’t afford to let her emotions lead her astray. So when her sister finds a fugitive bleeding to death in the forest—a young stranger named Gabe—Lia surprises herself and does the unthinkable.

She saves his life.

Giving shelter to the fugitive could get her in trouble. The Elders have always described the advanced society of people beyond the Frost, the “Farthers,” as ruthless and cruel. But Lia is startled to find that Gabe is empathetic and intelligent…and handsome. She might even be falling in love with him.

But time is running out. The monsters from the forest circle the farm at night. The village leader is starting to ask questions. Farther soldiers are searching for Gabe. Lia must locate a secret organization called the Thorns to help Gabe escape to safety, but every move she makes puts her in more danger.

Is compassion—and love—worth the risk?

Download Frost on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Smashwords.

Excerpt


His eyes were closed and his face was pale. He was not dead, though—I saw the shallow rise and fall of his chest beneath his strange shirt and coat. Something in me loosened at the confirmation of his survival, like I’d been holding my breath.

Ivy reached my side. “He was moaning,” she said. At her words, he made a sound of pure agony that made my heart ache even if he was a dangerous Farther.

“He is probably full of infection.” I needed to step closer, to look him over, but I wasn’t sure if it was safe. I remembered last night and his expression when he’d woken in the barn. He had not looked grateful.

“His wound...” She pointed at the place where the blood had blackened his torn shirt and arm. “Shouldn’t we clean it again?”

I pressed my lips together. There was no way I was letting her within three feet of this Farther, not when he was awake. “Bring me some warm water and soap, and an extra shirt of Jonn’s. And some of the stew left over from last night’s supper. He’s probably hungry now.”

She hesitated, wanting to argue. The nervousness I felt rose up in me like a wave, and I snapped, “Go.”

She went.

With her gone, I could really examine him in the light of day. Last night it had been too dark to really see anything. His groaning was loud now, almost a keening. I’d heard the sound of my grandfather dying from stomach-sick years ago, and it was much like this. I crept closer, my midsection churning.

He was barely visible under the straw that covered him. His eyelids cracked open when I approached, and he rustled beneath his blanket of hay. I faced him without smiling or cowering. I wanted him to know that I was not afraid of him. Or at least, I wanted him to think that I wasn’t.

“You,” he whispered. His breath hissed between his teeth as the pain seized him again, and he shuddered. “You are one of those Snow People, the ones who live in the Frost.”

He was young, I supposed, probably not much older than me. But his voice had a strength in it that made him sound older than that. His hair was thick and dark, like every Farther I’d ever seen, and his skin was tanned darker than my pale Frost complexion. He had a thin, sharp face and lashes as long as a girl’s. They fluttered as he squinted at me.

“Yes,” I said, because the term Snow People was accurate enough when describing my village, although that was not what we called ourselves.

He took in my expression, and his eyes narrowed. “What are you going to do to me? Let me die? Or give me back?”

“Give you back?” I asked. What was he babbling about?

He sighed, and I realized that he had passed out again. His face turned the color of gravel and perspiration dotted his forehead.

I moved closer. My skin tingled at my nearness to him. There had been malevolence in his eyes—what if he sprang forward and grabbed me? What if he tried to hurt me? But he was unconscious and sick, and as my fears lessened, I grew bolder and leaned in to study his wound.

The blood had dried, leaving a sticky river of brownish-black down his shoulder and arm. The strange clothing on his back hung in tatters, exposing the torn flesh, and bits of rock and straw studded the wound. I could see from the severity of it that he would be dead before long.

The skin around his wound was swollen. I probed it gently.

He jerked awake at my touch, and his eyes flew open as he cried out. I staggered back, startled. Our eyes met.

Sweat ran down his forehead and dripped onto his nose. His eyes were wild with pain and terror. “Please,” he whispered, and for a moment he looked pitiful instead of defiant and dangerous.

I didn’t know what he wanted.




Find more from Kate on her blog, Twitter and Goodreads.

Sep 29, 2013

29. Capture

The Unfinished Song: Initiate
"Captured" by Arwen Danelle Robertson, arwenart.com


Kavio


…the men cudgeled his back. The blows brought agony without the solace of oblivion —the warriors knew their art, and steered their blows away from his head, aiming to hurt and subdue, not kill—yet. They tied his hands and feet, yanked his hair to expose his neck.

A mountain of muscle tattooed on both arms and both cheeks loomed over Kavio.

“The death blow is mine, blame or fame. You are all witness,” the leader barked at his men.

They grunted back.

This man knows who I am. Unfortunately, their acquaintance was not mutual.

“I know why you plan to kill me,” Kavio announced. Bold lies worked best. “But just the opposite is true.”

The leader shot a beefy hand out to grip Kavio’s neck. “Don’t waste my time.”

“Let me prove it.” “How ?” Good question. Kavio would bet his mother’s goat and toss bones
the big man and his sept of disciplined warriors weren’t petty bandits. The big man fought for kin and glory, but whose? What was his rank? Too good to be a mere sept leader, too far in the wilderness to be a War Chief. A war leader, then.

“Take me to your War Chief and let him decide after he hears my proposal,” Kavio dared him.
“Why should I waste War Chief Nargono’s ears on your begging?”

Nargono was War Chief of the Blue Waters tribe, once an ally of Rainbow Labyrinth, now one of his father’s bitter foes. To be fair, his father had a knack for embittering foes.

“Did you know my own father once gave me as a slave to the War Chief of Yellow Bear?” Kavio asked. “Yellow Bear—are they friends of yours?”

The big man glared at him through narrowed eyes. Whatever he saw, it bought Kavio another day of life. “Dump him in the boat.”

“Gag him, Rthan?” asked a warrior.

Kavio trotted the name through his memory, but it didn’t sound familiar.

“No, I want him to talk.” Rthan unclenched Kavio’s throat one finger at a time.


"Barbarian" by fdiskart







TO BE CONTINUED


Download the complete book for FREE or buy it on Amazon as an ebook or trade paperback:



Sep 28, 2013

28. The Snowsnake

The Unfinished Song: Initiate






…follow him into exile. Or maybe some would-be enemy wanted to make certain he would never return.

Kavio climbed higher into the mountains. The peaks met like clapped hands to divide the rains of the world in half. All waters of the eastern fingers cascaded into a drought-dry landscape of sand- stone phantasmagoria—stone rainbows, stone islands, stone waves, striated stone flavors of pepper and cayenne. All the waters to the other side flowed west, through terrain sweetened by late summer storms, down, gently down through valleys of oak and golden poppy, down, gently down to coastal forests and the sea.

In the mountains, however, autumn had already given way to winter, and he found the pass already thick with snow, where he sacrificed a night and a day to lay a trap. He had to choose his spot, plan his moves against possible countermoves, dance a spell without making it obvious to any hypothetical observers what he was doing. The crisp powder proved a convenient medium for false footprints. By the next nightfall, he was ready. He cast his prepared illusion around a log to make it look like his sleeping form, and then he doubled back over his trail, climbed a tree, and watched his own camp.

The moon rose with no sign of any intruder. Once he heard scritching in the tree where he waited and looked up into the stare of a snow snake, camouflaged like a fall of snow on the branch. Their venom was quite lethal, he recalled. He glared at it until it slithered away to find its own damn tree. He took this living echo of his journey omen as a sign he wasn’t just trying to catch an enemy who existed only in his paranoid imagination.



Then, close to midnight, he heard a twig snap below his tree.

Two masked Tavaedies crept into position, and, after exchanging a silent nod, rushed to hack apart the log he’d left in his sleeping roll. They cussed like drunks when they discovered they’d dulled their flint axes for no reason. In the dark, he couldn’t see their tribal marks, and might not have been able to guess in any case, since they both wore furs against the cold. He shadowed them back to their camp, a neat affair of two leather tents and seven canoes. The snow gave way to the ice-choked grasses of a frozen river. The ice was unbroken, and the grass tall enough to offer cover, so he followed cautiously, but something nagged him. Two men had attacked his sleeping roll, but there were seven boats.

Five more men cracked out of the ice in a circle around Kavio. Human, not fae. He couldn’t tell their tribe. Lathered with lard for warmth, camouflaged by mud and rushes, they were clumps of living marsh. They’d been crouching under a layer of ice no thicker than flatbread, breathing through reeds, waiting to spring their trap. Nets weighted with rocks dragged Kavio down while…




TO BE CONTINUED

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Author's Note

The mountains are loosely modeled on some mountains near where I live. The ambush is loosely modeled on some ambushers near where I live.

Sep 27, 2013

27. Journey Gifts And A Warning

The Unfinished Song: Initiate

"89" by yag65


Kavio


“…accept being smoked out of the Labyrinth like a rat?” cried Nilo.

“You’re just going to let Zumo win? You know that none of us will ever follow him as War Chief !”

“It’s too early to say it will come to that.”

“His blood flows from the Bone Whistler, and so do his ambi- tions. He’s already got you out of the way!” said Nilo. “With the White Lady under the Curse of Obsidian Mountain and your father growing older, and now you exiled—who else is there to stop him?”

“You going into exile with me won’t help,” said Kavio.

Nilo exchanged glances with some of the others. “It will—if we go to the Yellow Bear tribehold to raise an army against him. There are many of our people still living there who would follow us, who would follow you, Kavio. You could return in a year’s time with Tav- aedies and warriors at your back! We could finally wipe out—”

“Enough!” said Kavio. He inhaled air past his clenched teeth to calm himself. “Enough, Nilo. You mustn’t talk like that. You mustn’t even think it. I will raise no army to march against my own tribe- hold. And I will take no one into an exile that I alone earned.”

“I guess we all knew you would say that.” Nilo shifted his feet. “That’s why we brought you journey gifts.” He held out his spear. “I want you to have this—no, don’t shake your head. You can’t refuse, it’s a journey gift. We took care to gather nothing from the Labyrinth itself, only outlying holds.”

One by one, each one of them pressed close to Kavio to give him gifts. Weapons, clothing, food, water, even jewelry. Overwhelmed, touched, Kavio could only murmur his thanks.

When his friends had dressed him and weighed him down with almost more than he could carry, they finally allowed him to say goodbye.

Nilo clasped his hand, then hugged him. He said in Kavio’s ear, “But you are going to the Yellow Bear tribehold, aren’t you, Kavio?”

“Perhaps.”

Nilo smiled, satisfied with that. “Whatever you do there, we will be waiting for you when you get back. We have no doubt you will be back. And then the blooded spear will be loosed, whether any of us like it or not.”





Kavio

Kavio camped alone, as before, in much greater comfort, but with even less peace of mind. Nilo and the others had meant to encourage him to come back to the Labyrinth. Instead, the disturbing conversation made Kavio wonder—if his return to the Labyrinth would ignite a civil war, maybe the best thing he could do would be to stay away. So much for the freedom of exile. His responsibilities trailed him like spies.

Perhaps actual spies trailed him as well. He again heard a rustle nearby, a subtle crackling in the leaves that made him tense. Maybe Nilo, or some other would-be ally, still wanted to…


TO BE CONTINUED


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