Book Promo! An Embarrassment of Riches. Also Writing Challenge

king of the spaceways


I don’t have a terrible lot of room to throw stones. I know that covers are difficult and that it’s almost impossible when you can’t draw or render scenes and are dependent upon what you find.  Or rather, no, it’s not impossible. Between Pixabay and paying stock sites (I think well of dreamstime) most people can manage a not cringe-worthy cover.  If you look above that is obviously a photoshop, and no, I wasn’t that good yet.  But I could now, and probably will at some point make it a not-cringe worthy cover. Look at covers of your genre and please, please, please try something like.  I did a cover series here.

Why this matters: COVERS ARE YOUR BIGGEST MARKETING TOOL.  I’m not the only one who has passed up on a book because the cover didn’t fit the genre. Look, if you don’t take elementary care to have your cover be 1) genre signaling 2) reasonably attractive I don’t trust you to have written a book worth the first ten minutes of reading without throwing it against the wall metaphorically speaking.

You don’t have to pay 1k for covers. In fact, particularly if you’re doing e-only and you go above $500 for covers you should have your head examined. Again, go look at stock sites. Understand the cover is not “a scene from the book” (how would the reader who hasn’t read the book yet know?) but mostly signaling correct genre.  And stock photo sites are FULL of attractive images you can use for maybe as low as $15. Look for a font somewhat like the ones in your genre, and GO.  There’s more it. I did a series on it here. If you’re totally at sea, go read it.

I will NOT include in the promo books with covers so bad that I would not even consider clicking on them to see the contents. Look, we have limited real estate and a cover that’s text only on a blank background for a time-travel story will bring all the other books down (not to mention in that particular case, I’d want to read or skim the book because of the theme)  Seriously, a translucent clock-gear-and-face on a blank background with the title would be better in that case, even if signaling “literary.”  At least it doesn’t signal “I have no clue.”

No, you can’t make money on the book to have enough to pay for a cover. People don’t buy books that signal wrong.

And yeah, I know it’s a strange standard to most of you, but I’m willing to tolerate less than wonderful covers. I’ve been known to make less than wonderful covers for myself or family, and fixed it later. We’re not always perfect.  However in the year of our Lord 2019 there are minimal criteria that don’t scream “I’m phoning it in.” Learn them. Apply them.


Book Promo

*Note these are books sent to us by readers/frequenters of this blog.  Our bringing them to your attention does not imply that we’ve read them and/or endorse them, unless we specifically say so.  As with all such purchases, we recommend you download a sample and make sure it’s to your taste.  If you wish to send us books for next week’s promo, please email to bookpimping at outlook dot com. If you feel a need to re-promo the same book do so no more than once every six months. One book per author per week. Amazon links only.



I AM IN THIS, EDITED BY JAMES YOUNG:  To Slip the Surly Bonds (The Phases of Mars Book 2.


Throughout the human experience, historians have wondered, “What if?” What if Americans had fought on the side of Germany in World War I? What if Germany had invested in naval aviation in World War II? What if Russia had started World War III?

Wonder no more, for these questions, along with many others, are answered within the pages of this book. Told by a variety of award-winning authors, like Sarah Hoyt, the 2018 Dragon Award Winner for Alternate History, Richard Fox, the 2017 Dragon Award Winner for Best Military Science Fiction, and Kacey Ezell, the winner of the 2018 Baen Reader’s Choice Award, “To Slip the Surly Bonds,” deals with aviation warfare that never happened in our world…but easily could have.

The second book in the exciting new “Phases of Mars” anthology series, there is something for everyone inside! From fighting alongside the Red Baron, to flying a P-38 Lightning, to present day air warfare, “To Slip the Surly Bonds” traces a century of aviation warfare…that wasn’t. From learning how the PBY got to the new world in Taylor Anderson’s “The Destroyermen” series…to fighting the French in a very different Vietnam, this book has it, so come aboard and find out “what if” all of these things had changed history…just a little. You’ll be glad you did!

FROM BLAKE SMITH:  A Capital Whip: A Pride and Prejudice Sequel.



An invalid for much of her life, Miss Anne de Bourgh has precisely one accomplishment: carriage driving. She is proud of her skill with reins and whip, and justifiably so.

But when another young lady moves into the neighborhood, and challenges Anne’s place as the most accomplished driver in Hunsford, Anne must prove to herself, to her beloved horses, and to her family that she is worthy of the name de Bourgh, and she does not shrink away from a challenge.

FROM MARGARET BALL:  Dragon Scales (Dragon Speech Book 2).


It’s one thing to meet a dragon in the snowbound mountains of the High Pamirs, but quite another to entertain him when he shows up at your Austin home, together with his sulky and all-too-human teenage girlfriend! Linguist Sienna Brown battles a shapeshifting dragon who helps himself to her clothes and demands enormous quantities of pizza, a teenager whose ignorance of American customs doesn’t prevent her from picking up every man she meets, a nosy neighbor and a group of Russian thugs who are tasked with acquiring the dragon for their own country. In addition, her boyfriend is terrified that the dragon’s presence will tempt her to use its magical but brain-injuring native language. And he’s not entirely wrong about that.

FROM PAM UPHOFF:  Kaat (Wine of the Gods Book 45).


A Novella in the Wine of the Gods Universe

Oner Agent Kaat Withione Sideris Kriti successfully infiltrated the enemy’s home world. But circumstances and time, friends and then family . . . where will her conflicted loyalties fall?

LAURA MONTGOMERY:  Simple Service (Martha’s Sons Book 1).


A lost starship. A lost colony.

Two factions. One expendable son.

When the colony’s governor requisitions the colonists’ personal weapons, Peter Dawe’s father sets him a simple task. Get their weapon back.

But the Marss have all the technology, and Peter, a second generation colonist, the youngest of ten, the expendable son, must contend with the guard, palace politics, and his biggest problem of all, Simon, his brother.

Sunday Writing Challenge

And for your writing challenge: We know that when we go to space Earth’s biosphere will go with us.  Sure, we might try to keep them here.  But you know as well as I do that (particularly if there’s ever such a thing as one-man-interplanetary, let alone interstellar, ships, cats, dogs and inevitably mice will travel with us [and chickens with the Portuguese.]

So, have fun, and write me a few paragraphs about that delightful scamp napping above, or his counterparts of paw hoof, claw or tentacle in other ships.

It’s Companion Animals To The Stars. 😛  (And if you feel like giving us a blurb for what the story would be, we won’t complain either.)

40 thoughts on “Book Promo! An Embarrassment of Riches. Also Writing Challenge

  1. He stalked.

    The giants had invaded his world but now he had gotten into their flying cave.

    The giants will meet the fate of all invaders.

    What! Something was staking him!


    “Hey Fred! Look what Alley Cat brought us!”

    “What another alien pest? Good Cat!”.

    The cat purred and accepted the praise of the humans. How dare that thing threaten his pets.

  2. The sands of New Nemea weren’t that much of a bother to Frank, but after even the short ride in the open-top hovercraft from the starport, his partner’s coat could use more than a sonic shower. Atreus wasn’t exactly fastidious to begin with, but at least he styled himself as more of a house cat. Coming to greet Frank from the starport was about as much exertion as he got in a week.

    “So the dish is operational, and you only need my help with calibrating the transceiver and encryption module?”

    “Yes. I can do the coding myself, but the module uses the old wired switchbox system, and that has to be setup manually, plug by plug and all.”

    “You mean, you needed… an extra pair of hands?”

    Atreus rolled his eyes and shrugged, his dark brown mane forming a cloud of dust around them both.

    “One of these days, Poling…”

    Frank smirked. Sentience or not, teasing a 500-pound lion was generally on the list of things people could only do once in their lives… usually at the end. Especially on New Nemea, where the million-and-a-half quadrupedal residents had developed quite an honor culture, with mauling being considered an acceptable response to insult. Frank, however, knew his old friend to be at least a bit more thick-skinned than that.

    Entering the comm station, Atreus nodded to where Frank was to be settled for the week, and headed for his own quarters.

    As the cabin door slid open, Frank noticed a rather well-fattened goat, bells and all, tied to the desk. The goat looked at them puzzled. Frank reciprocated. Turning to Atreus, he raised an eyebrow:

    “You’re having guests?”

    “I ordered takeout.”


    Frank thought best to leave his partner to his dinner. He wasn’t well versed in the particulars of Nemean dining etiquette, and in these matters, ’twas curiosity that killed the cat.

    * * *

    I’m not quite sure this kind of “uplifted” species fit the description of the challenge, but this is one scene, and the final joke in particular, that I’ve wanted to get out of my system for quite some time now. So, here it went.

  3. It was a cold day in the middle of February. Fresh snow had fallen the night before. It was marked only by the dog’s dinner-plate sized tracks around the yard. Plus the expected yellow snow, of course. Being a giant dog meant not having to save up for marking territory.

    After casually menacing the neighbor’s cat by hanging his head over the fence and woofing at her, he had a good roll and then lay down to have a snooze. Shortly after that, the cat ambled over and made a nest on his back. She had a knack for finding the coziest spots, and the back of a dog the size of a polar bear was it.

    Spike was chasing squirrels in his sleep when an odd odor woke him. It smelled almost exactly like a human… but not quite. He cracked an eyelid and observed a well-dressed, well-fed middle-aged woman making her way up Jimmy’s driveway to the back fence. He yawned, licked his lips and looked at her the way most dogs look at most humans. Hopefully. Maybe there was an outside chance the not-lady would feed him.

    She looked at him for a while, not saying anything or making the ‘come here’ gestures people normally made. He lost interest and flopped down again with a moan, as if he would surely die of starvation.
    Finally, she spoke. “I was wondering if you could help me. I’d like to get your opinion on something.”

    Spike rolled an eye at her, to see if she was speaking to him. No one else was there. Apparently, she was. He got up, dislodging the cat, and trotted up to the wire fence. It came up to the bottom of his chest. He was looking down at the woman. He looked at her hopefully again. Humans were suckers for the hopeful look, maybe this not-human would be too.

    “Never mind begging, I didn’t bring any steaks with me,” she said tartly.
    Spike raised an eyebrow. Not a good opening gambit in a negotiation, admitting she had nothing.

    “If you insist, I suppose I could go and get one,” she said reluctantly.

    Spike licked his lips again. Now they were getting somewhere.

    “I’d like to play a song for you. This was played for a colleague of mine by someone you know, a Mr. George McIntyre.” She pulled out a cellphone and showed it to him. He sniffed at it to make sure it wasn’t food. “This would be a lot easier if you’d stop pretending to be a normal dog you know,” she said. “I’m not the least bit deceived.”

    Spike licked the phone, just to be extra sure. And to get a taste of her DNA, but she didn’t need to know that. Then he went back to looking hopeful. He also sent the DNA data to Brunhilde for analysis. He’d given her a heads-up as soon as the not-human smell touched his nose. Things were in motion.

    “Fine, have it your way,” the woman said in resignation, wiping her hand on a handkerchief she pulled out of her purse. “This is a song played from one spaceship to another out by Barnard’s Star the other day.” She flipped her finger on the phone screen a few times, and played Rob Thomas’s “Little Wonders.”

    It was the song George used to play and sing to him in the old apartment in Toronto. When he was dying of cancer, and his insides had hurt. The song had made George cry, and he had held Spike close and petted him. It was a private thing between a dog and his human, and here was this not-human butting her nose in. Spike kept the hopeful look on his face, but it was a lie. He wanted to bite her.

    As the song played, Spike decided he’d had enough and looked into her eyes. He saw that she was not a human at all. This was a being huge with power, old and strong.

    He was not impressed. George could eat the creature within for a snack.

    “Here’s what I want your opinion on,” said the woman. “As a dog, do you really think these humans are worth keeping around? Does this McIntyre kid really…?” but then she stopped because Spike had grabbed her coat in his teeth. He had his lips pulled back, his incisors resting on her collarbone, and he was glaring right into her eyes. Deep in his chest, there was a growl of warning.

  4. “Daddy?” The little voice came from his side, and Lars looked up from the agricultural information he was reading on his tablet.

    “What, Inge?”

    “We saw pictures of farm animals on Earth in our science lesson today. How come we didn’t bring any cows with us to Big Rock?”

    Lars laid the tablet on his knee and sat back on the rough wooden bench, leaning against the chilly stones of the wall. “Well, did the pictures show you how big cows are?”

    Inge shook her head, sending blonde curls flying. Lars tapped for a moment at his tablet, then lifted it so she could see. Her blue eyes widened.

    “They’re huge! That’s at least three times the size of one of our goats!”

    The father grinned. “More like six times the size, if you compare the biggest cows to the biggest goats. And what do our goats eat?”

    She thought for a moment. “Weeds and brush, mostly. Sometimes a bit of dried seaweed, and in the winter they get a little dried fish, too.”

    “Right. Now, cows need lots of green grass, and we don’t have a whole lot of that. Also, cows don’t like straight-up-and-down, rocky land like we have here. If we had a lot of marshy land, they’d handle that all right, but here, they’d likely fall right off the side of the hills!”

    His little girl giggled at the thought. “The goats like to jump around on the rocks.”

    Lars tousled her head. “They do. And they can carry a big pack and still jump around on the rocks. Useful animals.”

    Mira, his wife, looked up from her spinning wheel. “I’m sure glad they were genetically engineered for the cream to separate without a cream separator, though! Otherwise, we’d have to have one more piece of equipment just in order to have butter!”

    Lars nodded. “They’ve had quite a bit of genetic engineering — they make more meat, and produce more cashmere than their ancestors, too. Although not enough for all of our clothes. We should be thankful for the sheep, too.” It was wool from their sheep that Mira was spinning into strong yarn for a new pair of work britches for him. They’d brought stuff with them, but the hard work wore their clothes out fast, and there was no going back for replacements. Colonization, at least for now, was a single one-way trip, and then the colonists were on their own until some future date when faster ships, less expensive to operate, became available — if that ever happened. Science fictions books liked to talk about them, but in real life….

    1. …. Is goat milk somehow different from cow milk, that the cream doesn’t float to the top on its own?

      Or are we talking the kind of genetic engineering that would make the cream levitate above the top of the milk?

  5. Not an excerpt, but related to the topic…

    The video game Surviving Mars has you building a colony on Mars. One of the expansions added random pets wandering through the colony domes (they don’t do much else). Some of the pets – like dogs – are unsurprising. Some of the others, though, like the llamas…

  6. Deep instinct stirred in Spot as he stared out the porthole and watched the stars flicker by. Well, as far as he understood it, his humans didn’t see them flicker, but he could. There was some shape in the distance- his humans called it a ‘nebula’- moving across the window and a deep instinct said that if he swatted it, he might well capture it. It was the same as the Red Dot game he played with the youngest human, he knew but…


    The fuzzy blur kept going, it always did.

    1. in case you’re wondering, there was an involved and semi-elaborate backstory of Spot being a semi-uplifted cat on board a family-run tradeship… and i self edited that all away.

    1. Hubble images *from that site* are public domain. ones from other non- government sites may have been processed and be subject to copyright.

  7. “Shoo!” wipes cold sweat of terror from face. My cover was there. Calm down, Sarah, we’ll try harder, just don’t disturb the ship’s cat, she needs to check the cargo tomorrow before we load.

    1. Your cover is pretty damn nice. You’ve done good.
      Your blurb — dear LORD — sucks. I say as someone whose blurbs often also suck.
      Go read a bunch of old paperbacks backs of the books as penance and sin no more.

        1. hmmm. . . now I ponder whether I introduced Biancabella early enough in the blurb, since it opens with something she says.

      1. As one of Pam’s readers, her blurb issue may result from the fact that those of us who comment on her blog don’t really need a whole lot of selling to.

        And we comment a lot AFAICT.

  8. The wolf, white as snow, came over and tugged at his hand. Aidan followed, out the window, and up the moonbeam, past the clouds, past the winds, to where the stars shone in the moonless sky.
    One said, “The great hero! The bringer of magic of light and truth to the world!”
    Another laughed. “Do not glow, prince, you will set the skies in disorder!”
    He felt a panic-stricken moment, which worsened as he remembered panic might make him glow, and then he woke up.
    Glowing like the noon.
    “Trying to keep us all awake?” growled Robert.
    Aidan said nothing.

  9. When not actually on duty, the assistant astrogator could usually be found curled up in a porthole. Uplifted cats might be as smart as humans ( or might not, there was the usual difficulty in getting them to take tests seriously), but they still slept 15 hours a day.

  10. Ivan turned to launch himself towards the table, but a look under the table checked his movement and he sighed in exasperation. Trevor’s dog, Muffin, was under the table and he’d really wanted to eat his wrap in peace.

    Independent spacers tended to be odd people with some odd habits, which included having pets on board ship. Most of those who did chose something practical: fish and small birds were popular, and so were geckos. Both could deal with the changes from free-fall to thrust that were a permanent part of a spacer’s life. One woman of Ivan’s acquaintance had even trained a hamster to live with the constant switching between having a definite up and down to none at all. There were no cats, though. All the attempts to engineer out the genes that made the allergens had produced an animal that only looked like a cat. Their behavior had been – to put it mildly – erratic.

    A few – like Trevor – really wanted a dog and were willing to put in the effort to space-train them. And to give him his due, Ivan grudgingly admitted, Trevor had put in the work. No one had complained about finding dog poop in the common spaces or the air system. Muffin also stayed out of the engine room, bridge, and galley.

    The problem was size. Most spacers that took a dog chose small dogs that could be ferried around or crated if necessary. Small dogs also fit in standard crew cabins easily and had small appetites, which was useful in planing crew quarters and food requirements. Muffin, however, wasn’t small. The standard joke was that he was a combination of Malamute and Irish Wolfhound, whipped up in a lab run by retired professional basketball players. Trevor would swear that he’d had no idea that Muffin would get so big, but Ivan was not inclined to believe him. Under thrust, Muffin stood 104 centimeters at the shoulder, massed 118 kilos, and looked like a gray and black fluff-ball on stilts. In free-fall, like the Paducah was in now, he could take over an entire six-person table for a nap, with bonus space for the fur sticking out in every direction. Because of his size, he could, and had, learned to use the handholds in the crew passages, which gave him the run of the ship. Right now, he’d hooked his legs into at least two of the chair-stands. The seats were up, of course, but the stands were permanently attached to the deck, which kept him from drifting off.

    Ivan considered shooing him off to clear table space, but Muffin had one annoying habit that had proved impossible to get rid of. He would watch you eat, as closely as he could get away with. Worse, he had no sense of appropriate orientation. Spacers preferred to align themselves so their heads were pointing at the ceiling, as if they were under thrust, as a courtesy. Muffin would hang upside down from the ceiling and stare at you until you finished the last bite, if you let him.

    Ivan found the view of a dog that out-massed him looming over him from the ceiling disconcerting, and getting him st stop looming would probably take longer than it would to eat his snack. There was another break room not too far away. Maybe he could switch without acquiring an audience.

  11. The wizard walked toward her. Something moved on the wizard’s shoulder. A midnight-black cat, with dark red wings, peered at Minette with bright eyes. The wizard nodded gravely to her.
    “I heard you were the one who could best direct me to a good rock to watch the stars from.”

  12. Selunie rolled on her back and yawned. “I’m going to enchant a gryphon. A great golden gryphon. Then I’m going to fly high, high, high into the sky. Up to the stars. Then I’ll — ” She frowned.
    “It will depend on what you find there,” said Bredon, gravely. “Among the stars.”

  13. “Captain, Ben’s asleep” was the simple message over the com. Captain Otis Jonnson smiled and rolled out of his bunk. Six days of jerkdrive was enough. He stretched and listened. The ship was purring like a kitten. Good old Ben, he thought. Maybe Ben had finally got that cocky young engineer whipped into shape. Kid was eighty seven years old and thought his shoulders were six light years broad and his mind twice as deep. A few days of drive malfunction and expert instruction from Ben just might save the kids career from a terminal dose of aholeism.

    Otis strolled down to the Catseye to see for himself. Sure enough, Benjamie J. Caterwauler, chief inspector of the KSS Jayhawk was sound asleep. Ben rolled to her other side as he approached and winked slowly at him. Then she rolled back, looked at the stars, and went back to sleep. “Gonna be a good run, might make enough to take that 30 year vacation at Betelgeuse.”, he laughed as Ben chirrped her disapproval. “Just kidding old girl. You and me have been on this old tub for 172 years, no sense quitting when we’ve just broke her in. We’ll get some shore time at Knockaback in a couple weeks.”

    Ben mewed her approval and Otis strolled down to the bridge, whistling Put Me in Orbit When I Die as he went.

  14. “Just never gets old, does it?”

    Andrea Tanqueray shook her head, half in answer and half in irreducible awe and wonder at the starswirl framed (if you stood exactly *so*) perfectly in the ventral porthole of the mess nook. “No, it doesn’t. How could it? It’s home.”

    The Milky Way Galaxy, rendered small enough by sheer distance to disappear behind a stove lid, if she’d had an odd-enough reason to be holding one out at arm’s length. No way under all God’s wide black sky was *that* gonna ever get old… impossible, breathtaking, indisputable, and ever so joyfully familiar.

    As familiar as the feline lounging comfortably in the port embrasure below.

    One more magical gift of Alexandra Torgerson’s Asymptotic Drive, George Lee’s method of “cloning” the strange-matter “kernels” that made it run, and Matthias Vogel’s “downsourced” configuration that made a unit cost less than a typical fancy-development house. Now, still in the 21st century, barely long enough to be a truly interplanetary species, we were knocking on the door of becoming an intergalactic one. (No net energy input-output due to a zero-point interface with the vacuum itself; jumping from point to designated point plus or minus five percent of range, from a half-million miles to a hundred million parsecs; able to take off right from ground level, though never precise enough to land… the bane of bureaucrats and totalitarians everywhere on Earth.)

    And knocking loudly enough that the Space Force Survey Service paid good money even to tramp star-sloggers like their own, for scan-data on systems throughout the galaxy. And even ones outside it, around stars in exo-clusters like the one they currently gawked, using five 40-inch telescope packages the Survey Service was glad to loan out, for a deposit and unless you lost ’em. It made a nice Part-II mission to first delivering yet another boatload of wanna-be Martians to Utopia Planitia — long-jump off that patch of leased farmland west of Peoria, home in on Jupiter, loiter-drop in its comfortably large gravity well (large vs. minimum circular error jump of 5000 miles) enough to adjust velocity, then home in on Mars and rattle around enough to get set up for the gravity-aerobraking manuever, using the field-bubble the Drive also produced first as a drag-brake and heat shield and then as a vacuum-filled balloon.

    It sounded so simple, put that way, but it nearly made Andrea’s feet ache just to think about it. Exo-exploration was really the fun part of the trip. Though if you ever skimped on or screwed up the navigation… then bad and real bad.

    She sipped her morning tea, and contemplated the whirlpool lights of home.

    Their ship was not much fancy, you could see the screw-heads holding the rim of the porthole mounting, and she was built from good old welded iron like an oceangoing ship of the iron-hulled era. But New Hong Kong built well and not too dearly, and the modern Drive was robust like an anvil and proven almost as soundly by now. If they ever did get marooned out in the Big Black, it would be by the very worst of luck, not any carelessness or foolhardiness of theirs.

    And oh, the view from their front porch this fine (shiptime-A) morning…

    Pixabay, just below her line of sight and so many parsecs nearer, yawned that kind of jaw-cracking yawn that made a two-legged person wonder how such a feat was accomplished. He’d not been near as busy, recently, the Martians in their haste or goal-centeredness had managed to bring along not a few mice with their contingency grain stores. (Who’d-a thought, she reflected back to a very different-feeling childhood, that space travel would ever be SMR — Some Mousing Required? But this wasn’t NASA or Apollo or Artemis, and it dead certain sure wasn’t the Starship bloody Enterprise — not any one of the whole squeaky-clean lot of ’em. This was the human star diaspora, at last — and as always it did make you wonder, where in all the worlds was everybody else?)

    “So’s there anything new on the slow-wave from the ‘scopes, last night?” she asked, and went back to mindfully inhaling the heavenly cinnamon scent of her tea.

    “Same old position fixing on the cluster stars at large, and some decent data on this system itself. Looks like a fat-Earth in the habitable zone, and the star is an early K so it’s probably not going to be tide-locked. The package is busy running through the routine closeup-survey stuff on that one right now.” Justin Stevens’ voice held none of the slow-startup inertia of her own, but being such a fast-starting, perky sunrise-rooster made him the perfect companion to her own slow-starting, long-burning night-owl ways on their “side” of the 24-hour shipboard routine. As long as he got up *first* and gave her time to *wake up*.

    “That might be a pretty little find, if the habitability index proves out.” First-look, at a sufficient level of (later verified) detail, currently earned you a 300-year use and exploitation claim on such a world — though right now those were (not quite literally) a dime a dozen. ‘Fat Earths’ had about the same gravity as the original but a lower density, so there was 1.5x, 2x, even 2.5x the surface area, and often both more water and atmosphere. The only trouble was the lack of metals and heavy elements in general that usually came with the lower total density… and that could (more or less easily) be fixed by imports from a local asteroid belt or even another star system. Oh, yeah, and a honking big escape velocity too… but of course that was relevant to a Drive ship only on approach, and except for greater G loads and shield-stream heating, not so much then.

    Maybe the Greater Indian Commonwealth would be interested. Word to date was, they actually *liked* bigger worlds for some reason.

    With that sudden decisiveness characteristic of the feline race, Pixabay made a lithe jump of his own, down from the porthole casing (in the 1-g field that was one more optional blessing of a quiescent Drive bubble) and sidled up to her feet, giving voice to that particular meow that meant, “hunting has been so poor of late, please donate some Little Friskies to your hungry friend” — or but a slight variation on same. And as she turned over toward the feline side of the little ready-larder in the nook, Andrea read one more merry time the brass plate bolted to the interior paneling under the porthole.

    PIXEL — the Starship That Walks Through The Walls of the World

    Perhaps Heinlein and Tiptree might make strange and uneasy companions, she again and familiarly thought, but I like that image myself just fine.

    (Includes a few ideas and terms from Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke. And has behind it more unused background than I could shake a stick at, probably courtesy of Sarah’s picture clues being, still, as “unreasonably inspirational” as ever…)

  15. I see Alma Boykin’s latest is missing from this list, so I’ll expect it next week. Just finished the book, and it’s great! Answers a lot of questions about the founding of the “Elizabeth of” series.

  16. Given the number of animal-like beings who hang around here I’m surprised nobody’s done a “The Huns go to space” submission.

    Then again, I’m not sure how effective a starship crew you guys would make. Some of you don’t even have hands and I’m not sure which systems I trust that wallaby around…

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