New Pulp Action Story Available

My short story “Bad Beat” appears in the latest edition of Millhaven’s Tales of Suspense, the latest edition of Millhaven’s themed short-story magazines.

The cover of Millhaven's Tales of Suspense showing a woman sitting in a bedroom next to a dead man and holding a large gem
©Mark Gunk/Millhaven Press

In addition to my tale of poker games gone wrong, hard-headed debt collectors, and just a smidge of weirdness, there are seven other tales of mystery, crime, and espionage, each packed with pulp action.

The edition doesn’t officially release until 1st July, but US readers can pre-order copies from the publisher today.

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The April Showers F/F Sci-fi and Fantasy Book Fair

The April Showers F/F Sci-fi and Fantasy Book Fair curated by LC Mawson starts today, featuring fifteen speculative fiction books where a protagonist is in a female/female relationship.
Two women facing each other against a background of stars

Pulping the Classics

I had a conversation over the weekend about whether certain genres need to be about particular things or whether they can be an aesthetic. And, as is common with discussion of genre boundaries, the discussion soon sent out a tendril into the field of literature vs. genre fiction. While the difference—if any—between literary and genre fiction is of interest to me, I was more intrigued by the question of whether the reverse of magical realism existed: a genre version of literature. So, I experimented with a pulp version of the opening of an American classic. I present it below, not to prove or disprove a hypothesis but in the hope it will amuse.

Seven Stones Complete Series Released

A slight niggle delayed the paperback edition of Seven Stones: The Complete Series; however, the EPUB and MOBI editions have just emerged. Pick up your copy from one of these fine retailers.

Book Cover for Seven Stones The Complete Series showing a rapier superimposed over standing stones
(©Dave Higgins)

Plagued by nightmares of shifting stone and ancient evil, Absolution Kobb, Reverend Militant of the Order of the Maker, journeys to the northern edge of civilisation. Encountering violence from both villagers and the inhuman tribes that dwell beyond the palisades, and exhausted from both his age and his visions, he is saved by two very different people: Anessa, a young villager seeking to escape a life of shopkeeping; and Haelen, an ageing healer seeking his kidnapped daughter.

At first, their aims align. However, with every step toward sealing the evil away taking them further from the simplicity of heroes opposing the darkness, they must each decide not only how far they will go but when an ally becomes a villain.

Pick up your copy today from your favourite retailer.

Seven Stones: The Complete Series Cover Reveal

Behold the front cover for Seven Stones: The Complete Series, a compilation of all ninety-seven parts of my weekly swords-and-sorcery serial, soon to be available in paperback and various eformats.

Book Cover for Seven Stones The Complete Series showing a rapier superimposed over standing stones
(©Dave Higgins)

The printers sent the proof copy out this morning, so—barring unexpected issues—it will be released this week or next.

ImmerseOrDie Might Be Too Mellow

One of the accusations levelled at ImmerseOrDie is that Jeff, Bryce, or I look for reasons to fail a book, that readers don’t judge books the way we do. I’ve never been inside Bryce’s head, but I feel a deep joy when a book makes it to the line; and we’re not alone in noticing issues.

<p style="text-align: justify;"Anne R Allen warns that minor errors at the start of the book could kill sales.

I’m a grammar freak, so a misplaced apostrophe or verb/object disagreement will stop me. I know not everybody is such a stickler. But I think all readers want to see that a book looks professional and polished. They don’t want to invest time in a book—even if it’s free—unless they feel they’re in competent hands.

While I agree that noticing these issues might seem to be limited to “grammar freaks”, IoD reports show issues that don’t cause us to put a book down still increase the chances that a subsequent issue will stand out enough to lose that sense of competence; so, for every reader whose attention catches on an issue, there are several who don’t stop at that point but are primed to judge later concerns harshly.

And for those who think the failures are still us being picky, remember that Allen (and people in her comment thread) believe that having a contents page that is boring – not ill-formatted, dysfunctional, or otherwise flawed, but just boring – damages sales.

Needs of the Few

100 Words of Speculation written over a background of fountain pen and printed text

Barry angled the mirror around. Satisfied no-one lurked near the door, he slipped into the supermarket.

His gut roiled at the stench. They always said, don’t go shopping on an empty stomach; who knew piles of corpses would be even more effective. Mirror preceding him, he crept toward the tinned aisle.

A woman in a bloodstained lab-coat staggered into view. “Hello? Are you… human?”

He lowered his weapon. “You worked at Gunderson Labs? Do you know what those things are?”

“Military robots. Designed to infiltrate. Programmed to protect the country, but we didn’t realise… overpopulation was such a threat.”

Be Mindful of the Present

100 Words of Speculation written over a background of fountain pen and printed text

I’ll die at 8:23 am next Tuesday.

Rather precise but true nevertheless.

Teenage dreams had given way to boring adulthood. Then I saw this advert “Scared to live? We offer seven days without worry about possible futures.” It was free and I literally had nothing interesting that evening, so I went.

Woke up with this watch and a note saying the bomb inside me would explode in seven days. Doctors agree something’s lodged in my brain but it’s too risky to operate.

Anyway, best get on.

Put the fucking money in the bag or I’ll blow your shitting head off!

Death of a Drone

100 Words of Speculation written over a background of fountain pen and printed text

Karl connected the repeater and stepped back. Fifteen seconds later, the window exploded. His breathing spiked as tiny drones swarmed through the hole. Pushing down images of neat holes in foreheads, he sent a message to all his contacts calling the President ugly.

The swarm drifted randomly as his contacts responded. He was right: no matter how good the machine learning was, social media tracking was useless if your desired targets only used strong encryption.

Which meant that only ordinary people, people like his mother just wanting to ask if he was caught up in that “robot thing”, got hit.