Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike and Sunday Book Promo


Sunday Book Promo

FROM BLAKE SMITHThe Hartington Inheritance (The Hartington Series Book 1)

(It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you associate with me you start getting a little strange.  This is the only thing that explains why Blake who is sane as a brick decided to write regency in space, as though Witchfinder weren’t weird enough.  At any rate, it’s good, get and read.)


Almira Hartington was heir to the largest fortune in the galaxy, amassed by her father during his time as a director of the Andromeda Company. But when Sir Josiah commits suicide, Almira discovers that she and her siblings are penniless. All three of them must learn to work if they wish to eat, and are quickly scattered to the far reaches of the universe. Almira stubbornly remains on-planet, determined to remain respectable despite the sneers of her former friends.

Sir Percy Wallingham pities the new Lady Hartington. But the lady’s family will take care of her, surely? It’s only after he encounters Almira in her new circumstances that he realizes the extent of her troubles and is determined to help her if he can. He doesn’t know that a scandal is brewing around Sir Josiah’s death and Almira’s exile from society. But it could cost him his life, and the lady he has come to love.



Ah, the perils of married life. Stubborn wombows, holy-terror birds, the Officers’ Wives Club…

Auriga “Rigi” Bernardi-Prananda eagerly awaits her husband’s return from advanced scout training. A predator returns in his place, and Rigi must learn to adapt to his new role in the military, and to navigate the perils of Army society. Especially when Tomás insists on her presence as he helps establish a new human and Staré settlement on Verdina, Shikhari’s northern continent. He and the Staré need Rigi’s skills as healer and Wise Eye, one who sees through concealment to find the truth.

Once in the north, Rigi discovers that the wildlife outside the camp poses only a minor hazard. Those predators merely want to eat her. A predator inside the camp threatens her husband’s career, and her and Tomás’ honor. Rigi must call on all her training, as well as her Staré allies and Martinus the M-dog, if she is to accomplish her mission with dignity, honor, and marriage intact. And without spilling anything on herself at a tea or ladies’ theatrical evening.

Woman’s work is never done. Nor is it ever dull.

FROM CHRISTOPHER NUTTALL:  Heinlein in Reflection: Robert A. Heinlein in the 21st Century.


Robert Anson Heinlein was the Grandmaster of Science-Fiction, originator or populariser of many of the science-fiction tropes we take for granted today. Heinlein laid the groundwork for countless authors to follow, combining his engineering knowledge and experience with a knowledge of humanity to open vast vistas for his readers. His popularity remains undiminished, even three decades after his death. Heinlein remains one of the greatest science-fiction writers in history.

But is Heinlein still relevant today?

He could be – and still is, even by the standards of our time – very controversial. In his later years, he pushed the limits as far as he could. His characters were freethinkers to a degree even we find alarming, discarding the chains of their societies in a manner that could be both heroic and dangerously unwise. His books – and Heinlein himself – have been accused of being fascist, or sexist, or racist, or thoroughly immoral. Is Heinlein still a great mind? Or should he be forgotten like so many other writers of his time?

In this collection of essays, science-fiction writer Christopher G. Nuttall takes a fresh look at Heinlein’s books, assesses the accusations made against Heinlein’s work and concludes that yes, Heinlein is still relevant today …

Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

So what’s a vignette? You might know them as flash fiction, or even just sketches. We will provide a prompt each Sunday that you can use directly (including it in your work) or just as an inspiration. You, in turn, will write about 50 words (yes, we are going for short shorts! Not even a Drabble 100 words, just half that!). Then post it! For an additional challenge, you can aim to make it exactly 50 words, if you like.

We recommend that if you have an original vignette, you post that as a new reply. If you are commenting on someone’s vignette, then post that as a reply to the vignette. Comments — this is writing practice, so comments should be aimed at helping someone be a better writer, not at crushing them. And since these are likely to be drafts, don’t jump up and down too hard on typos and grammar.

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is: lush

49 thoughts on “Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike and Sunday Book Promo

  1. Minerva: Your thoughts tell me that you’re a lush.

    Idris: What can I say? You’re luscious.

    Minerva laughed as she stroked his body.

    1. Oh, for some strange reason, I was thinking “lush” had a meaning of “lusting for the opposite sex”.

      But I suppose “luscious” works. 😀

  2. No, she wasn’t always a lush. But when an octopus pops open the top of the aquarium and says to your advisor, “Yo, Bob, quit ditchin’ yer Familiar!”, drinking one’s way through graduate school seems like a very good option. At least for Mathilda it was.

  3. “I don’t understand,” Jack said to the Herbivoid. “You’re a plant creature. Why does alcohol have the same effect on you that it does on me?” “Don’t know,” the creature replied with a drunken slur. “Not a biologist. But whatta you care, anyway?” “I’ve just never seen lush vegetation before.”

      1. Wow. And here I was expecting a carp to the face for that one.

        I’ll take it, though. Thanks, guys.

    1. If there is such a thing as a well-crafted pun (or perhaps shaggy-dog story?), this one surely tests well into the megaton range.

      1. It certainly got a FAR better response than I expected. I’d love to know exactly what I did right here so I can harness this power and use it for… Well, I was about to say “evil,” but with puns I suppose that’s built in.

  4. “You look a bit tipsy, Lord Seneschal.” She stood a little straighter in her crisp uniform.

    “I have been reassigned, m’Lady Marquessa,” he hiccupped, and sank more deeply into his heavily upholstered chair. “Into the illustrious ranks of the Luminous United Serene Hoplites.” He frowned. “I am to report surface-side at 0:800. Urgent matter. Rubble to rearrange, or some such.”

    The Marquessa raised an eyebrow. “You must have really irritated Her Exalted Obliviousness.”

    The Lord Seneschal stared into his empty chalice. “Evidently.”

  5. The greenhouses were lush. All of the common air-plants were here: Amazonian Broadleaf, Australian Broadleaf, Fangrass, and Draping Saltgrass, each with its own chambers. Gundal waited a moment, then asked: “Which kind do you need, Matt?”

    Matt didn’t know if that was amusement or pride in the cyborg’s voice. Either way, he deserved it, for this was gorgeous. The Fangrass was even blooming, and small pink flowers seemed to be all over its chambers. Reluctantly he turned away: “We’re set up for Saltgrass.”

    “Okay.” Gundal handed over a short-range com. “Let me sterilize, and I’ll go in and pick out some plants for you. About fifty, correct?”

  6. “Why didn’t you tell us this had happened?!” Isaac rounded on Magister Osborne, eyes blazing; Colin didn’t think he’d ever heard Isaac sound that angry at anyone, much less a Magister. “This must have been going on for months! Years!”

    “She’s probably the only Magister who could have gotten away with it for that long, come to that,” said Christabel gloomily, looking down at the unconscious Magistra Quintus. With one slippered foot, she reached out and toed Quintus’s drooling mouth shut. “Alchemy and Pantechnika are just about the only Arts you can still do at all while semi-hammered.”

    Isaac was still almost literally hopping with his fury. “Don’t tell me you couldn’t have known! Was the Grand Magister just scared of what’d happen if it got out one of our instructors was a lush?!”

    “Isaac!” Colin hissed, but too late. For all Magister Osborne’s easy-going nature, Isaac had clearly crossed one of his few lines; suddenly the tall blond man had straightened, staring unblinkingly down at Isaac. The lab was abruptly, terrifyingly silent.

    “I am a physician and a healer, Mr. Asher,” said Osborne evenly. “I am as bound by medical confidentiality as any Sparrow doctor. Do not for a second think that merely being a favoured student gains you an exception from that. Your concern does you credit. Your entitlement does not.”

    Isaac reddened and looked away. Colin wanted to disappear through the floor.

  7. One beer doesn’t make you a lush, even if it is 8.5% abv.
    But, even though it is “warm” out, it certainly is not lush with vegetation outdoors right now.
    It’s 36! Betting it goes above 40 tomorrow for the rain, then colder than that 18 they were predicting to freeze the mess it makes today and tomorrow.

    1. This winter has specialized in rainstorms that freeze, so you get snow over (crunchy, if lucky) ice. Studded snow tires for the win! ($SPOUSE has studded grip strips for her shoes. They’ve saved her a few times this season.)

      1. We’ve had two. Well we had one and are having number two. The first was right after our first real snow and this one is a week and a bit after some real snows, so as everything goes below freezing the fun begins. Well, the loading on my roof is very low. With the new metal roofing, a little rain offloads the snow right quick. I need more retention or the mail man will refuse to leave my mail. Things to do yhis spring and summer.

  8. She could blame Madame Nyx; in fact, it would be insane not to, it being that woman’s fault alone that she had lived trapped in the city for as long as she could remember.
    But inching along behind Florio where the lush foliage hid everything a step from the path, having to hold back the branches to pass, had Rosine cursing herself as a coward, dreading this strange new landscape, the countryside.
    “There’s a clearing ahead,” said Florio.
    Rosine nodded, and told herself she dreaded the possibility of being ambushed. All the more in that they were fleeing Madame Nyx.

  9. “It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you associate with me you start getting a little strange.”

    Does that also apply to hanging out virtually here on the blog?

    1. Nope. Those of us who hang out here don’t need to START getting a little strange.

      Fluffy is suggesting s’mores. In the garden where we can watch the colliding galaxies.

  10. “Mr. Slim-Howland’s consuming daiquiris as fast as that woman can pour them,” said Gwendolyn.

    “That woman,” replied butler Jenkins, “is Mr. Slim-Howland’s, ah, paramour. Your concern is noted, but, as a maid, misplaced.”

    “I am programmed to sense distress,” countered Gwendolyn. “I don’t wish Mr. Slim-Howland to become a lush.”

  11. Feldrake looked around at the lush landscape. He knew that others of his kind would immediately set it to flame. But, gazing across the broad meadow bordered by dense vegetation, he suddenly felt at home.

    “A quarter horde for your thoughts” a soft voice behind him offered.

    Twisting his long, sinuous neck around to gaze at her, he thought that Kelwyn was the most beautiful dragon he had ever seen. That she agreed to be his mate was astonishing.

    “This place feels right” he said watching as her eyes widened.

  12. “That’s a really interesting-looking drink you’ve got there.”

    Eilidh Benoist turned swiftly from looking in the mirror as she sipped her (quite genuinely fancy) drink, to the person suddenly at her left.
    Youngish, maybe two-thirds her own forty-plus years. Snappily dressed in an outfit just a touch too understated to be called a tuxedo.

    He really didn’t give off that smarmy IFF code some did, at all — what they’d been calling a “lounge lizard vibe” since before the dawn of spaceflight — but he wasn’t exactly registering on the “wholesome” end of the spectrum either.

    “it’s called a pousse-café. The layers are different kinds of booze, increasing specific gravity from top to bottom, so they don’t mix much. If you’re careful and patient, you can drink them one by one.” Or at least that was her working hypothesis, for this latest run of an ongoing experiment.

    Ellie — pronounced always like that, spelled that way far too often in sheer self-defense as well — had been looking at the woman in the mirror behind her raised glass too, deep-blue bare-shouldered dress and dark hair flowing over all. Not bad in sum, if she did dare say so herself.

    She’d also been looking there at the sturdy, dark-haired man back at one of the tables behind her. It was rare to be able to observe Captain Paul Regan in the wild, as it were. You could tell, underneath all the easy competence and good nature, there were hard and fiery depths. He’d said his grandfather had been a for-real career mercenary, once, and she did not doubt the blood had run true.

    A good man to have nearby, at any true need…

    “Wow. You some kind of scientist or something?”

    Was it the “specific gravity” part? She’d already found saying “specific impulse” was functionally equivalent to outing herself.

    “Not tonight. Tomorrow I’ll be a starship chief engineer again. Sort of *like* a scientist, without all the fun research. But the travel perks rock the worlds.”

    The third sentence wasn’t strictly true. She and her new apprentice, Arkady Beschloss, were working on a Hilbert box in their often-faint spare time. If it was really tweakable, a Vector Basis Adapter could turn the drive field of even a tramp rim-runner like her ship into a finicky but decently powerful quantum computer. Able to do things like brute-force a 1024-bit symmetric cipher key in a fraction of a second, if you were so inclined. Just a trinket, but fun.

    “Can I buy you a drink?”

    “Not one of these, nobody ever could pay proper attention to more than one.”

    And, she reflected, there were starting to be enough people in the bar that it would not come as a diverting challenge to a bored-stiff bartender any more.

    “How about a New Lewis single-malt instead?”

    Hunh. The man actually *did* know something. If there were any real-world equivalent to the fictional-mythic “Dorsai whisky” from the old pre-millennial stories, New Lewis Gray would probably be it.

    “That would be fine, but only if you’ll sit here and drink one with me.”

    No, she wasn’t even coming on to him. Just sorting the decoys from the RVs.
    As they used to say, back in the bad old days of nuclear strategic standoffs.

    “Sure, that sounds great. Why don’t you just toss off that fancy cocktail first?”

    Toss it off? *Really?*
    Ellie found her interest, never all that strong, falling faster than a glissando from a trombone with a dropped slide.

    “For all the heavens’ sake, young man, I’m a conoisseur, not a lush.”

    And though she was only half aware, Eilidh’s voice had become colder than the ice in her water glass.
    From somewhere in the mists of turn-of-the-millennium culture she so loved to cultivate, an old line surfaced with a new twist.

    A man is just a man, but a pour of good liquor is a drink.

    And though it was nothing like haughty or a sneer, the faint smile that graced her lips at the thought was colder than the space she fared.

    (Based on three pre-existing characters. But oh, so fun to write.)

  13. Howard Waite walked along the path through Aldrin Park, recalling that first visit so many years before. The sheer amount of exotic vegetation had nearly overwhelmed him, but he’d been determined to show himself worthy of the special treat of coming here.

    And at that age, we took such things so very seriously. He smiled, recalling the earnestness with which his younger self had approached the entire trip to Grissom City.

  14. “The site looks pretty green. You could even call it lush”. said the sensor technician.
    “That’s not a good sign”, replied Dr. Avery. “I read the report of the botanical survey team for this planet. The plant life is deadly.”
    “Plants? Deadly?” asked the captain.
    “I’m not exaggerating. Even on old earth, there were dangerous plants. The botany of this world could hardly be more inimical to human life if it had been designed that way. Everything has either razor edged leaves, alkaloids and toxic oils, thorns and spikes, rapid reaction times for plants, or aggressive and venomous insectoid symbionts. The variety of outright carnivorous species is impressive. I don’t think there is one native species of plant on this world that won’t kill you if you are careless. If that’s the proper site, it should be bare.”

  15. The slightly portly but not yet officially overweight man snagged another Venusian Lava Froth cocktail off of a passing robot-tray, swirled it gently so as to avoid depositing unsightly red spots on his pristine white early late evening hemidemisemi-formal tunic, and surveyed the other sapient occupants of the large ballroom.
    So far, he had chatted up three ambassadors, two consuls, and a chargé d’affaires who had recently taken over for a diplomat called home unexpectedly, for reasons unstated but well-known among the cognoscenti of the trade currently gathered on the planet Froom.
    Satisfied with his preliminary salting of the trade negotiations slated to begin in the morning, he surrendered to full enjoyment of the lush tones emanating from the quasi-cyborg chamber orchestra in the balcony. He glanced at the five-meter tall Trogas vine-tree that graced the central atrium and inhaled deeply, savoring the plum aroma with gingery top notes of the lush salmon-pink blossoms.
    So engrossed was he in these sensory delights, augmented by that fifth Froth of the evening, that he didn’t notice the approaching woman until she touched his arm softly and sighed.
    “Ah, Jenillifee!” he exclaimed. “I thought you weren’t here tonight. So disappointing, my dear.”
    The fourth ambassador to the conference slipped her slender silk-clad arm through his bent elbow and smiled.
    “I would not miss this gathering, or you” she said, with the elongated sibilants of the Grasmere system which he found so charming. “I have been speaking with your companion, and did not see you until now.”
    She inclined her head a bit toward the north wall, ranged with chairs and other seating apparatus for the assembled guests. A young man lounged carelessly on one of the sofas, almost laying on it, with closed eyes and an empty glass lightly balanced on his not-at-all portly belly, its long stem loosely corralled between two fingers of his left hand.
    “Oh, dear,” he said. “I fear my deputy is being quite the lush tonight. I apologize for any offense he might have tendered you, my dear.”
    “No offense at all, darling. We had quite a delightful conversation, in fact.”
    In fact, she was highly offended, as the younger diplomat had not spilled any confidential information about his superior’s strategy at all. Nor was he any kind of a lush: she had watched him nurse a single libation for the better part of two hours, a singular feat from which he had attempted to distract attention with knowledgeable, edgy banter about the other distinguished beings at the ball, a maddeningly attractive half-smile, and penetrating dark eyes on the verge of open laughter.
    Louche, perhaps, but definitely not a lush.

    (with a tip of the tophat to KL)

  16. “Captain, I have some good news and some bad news to report.”

    “What’s the bad news?”

    “Crewman Jones kind of mixed up the hydroponics fertilizer amounts. The lush overgrowth is blocking the hydroponics section door shut.”

    “And you have good news?”

    “We have fresh salad and fruit for dinner, sir.”

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