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 (unless you’re me or my relative. Deal.) One book per author per week. Amazon links only. Oh, yeah, by clicking through and buying (anything, actually) through one of the links below, you will at no cost to you be giving a portion of your purchase to support ATH through our associates number. I ALSO WISH TO REMIND OUR READERS THAT IF THEY WANT TO TIP THE BLOGGER WITHOUT SPENDING EXTRA MONEY, CLICKING TO AMAZON THROUGH ONE OF THE BOOK LINKS ON THE RIGHT, WILL GIVE US SOME AMOUNT OF MONEY FOR PURCHASES MADE IN THE NEXT 24HOURS, OR UNTIL YOU CLICK ANOTHER ASSOCIATE’S LINK. PLEASE CONSIDER CLICKING THROUGH ONE OF THOSE LINKS BEFORE SEARCHING FOR THAT SHED, BIG SCREEN TV, GAMING COMPUTER OR CONSERVATORY YOU WISH TO BUY. That helps defray my time cost of about 2 hours a day on the blog, time probably better spent on fiction. ;)*
FROM CYN BAGLEY: Tiny Joe and the Green Knight Terraforming Co.: Cases 1-3
Most customers are extremely satisfied with the job “The Green Knight Terraforming Co.” does to refurbish their planets. However when there are customer complaints, then the human Joe called Tiny is the person who solves those problems.
Joe’s backup muscle, Donald is there for the occasional times when Joe touches before he looks. Joe, Donald, and the lab animals troubleshoot those problems that need a delicate touch with a hammer. There is a one hundred percent guarantee that this group can fix any customer problem– or fix the customer.
A collection of short stories
FROM JULIE PASCAL: Traditional by Accident.
Can you say yes, if it’s impossible to say no?The encroaching Solaran empire has gobbled up Svana’s world. Svana fled her planet with the first wave of refugees, swept up with members of a different clan. Space is vast and she finds herself on a space station, alone, waiting hopelessly for her own family to arrive to save her. Thomas is from her world and similarly adrift. He offers to save her, and it’s an offer that Svana can’t refuse, but that doesn’t mean that letting him save her is the right thing to do.
Unless, perhaps, they can somehow save each other.
FROM MARGARET BALL: A Tapestry of Fire.
Thalia Kostis is a budding magician (depending on how you define it), but she has a theoretical mathematician’s grasp on socialization and people skills. When pressed into spying on a rival magician’s company retreat to find out where kidnapped coders are being held, she expected things to go completely sideways.
She didn’t expect to end up mistaken for her rival’s fiancee…
Now she has to juggle her own impending wedding, her cover, her magic, and company politics that might turn out deadlier than anyone expected!
FROM BLAKE SMITH: The Hartington Inheritance.
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.
FROM LAURA MONTGOMERY: Manx Prize.
Charlotte Fisher lives under colliding skies.
It’s the second half of the twenty-first century, and mankind has reached Earth orbit but not much farther. Orbital debris is a by-product of the industrial activity, and it’s dangerous both to everyone up there and the bottom lines of the corporations offering a prize to get rid of it. Charlotte heads up a team chasing the Manx Prize for the first successful, controlled de-orbit of a dead satellite. To win, she and her team must out-think and out-engineer a cheating competitor, dodge a collusive regulator, and withstand the temptations offered by a large and powerful seastead.
The sky’s not the limit. It’s the challenge.
If you like hard science fiction, impossible odds, and a touch of romance, you’ll love Laura Montgomery’s Manx Prize. Buy Manx Prize to join the race for space today!
FROM MACKEY CHANDLER: Family Law.
People love easily. Look at most of your relatives or coworkers. How lovable are they? Really? Yet most have mates and children. The vast majority are still invited to family gatherings and their relatives will speak to them.
Many have pets to which they are devoted. Some even call them their fur-babies. Is your dog or cat or parakeet property or family? Not in law but in your heart? Can a pet really love you back? Or is it a different affection? Are you not kind to those who feed and shelter you? But what if your dog could talk back? Would your cat speak to you kindly?
How much more complicated might it be if we meet really intelligent species not human? How would we treat these ‘people’ in feathers or fur? Perhaps a more difficult question is: How would they treat us? Are we that lovable?
When society and the law decide these sort of questions must be answered it is usually because someone disapproves of your choices. Today it may be a cat named in a will or a contest for custody of a dog. People are usually happy living the way they want until conflict is forced upon them.
What if the furry fellow in question has his own law? And is quite articulate in explaining his choices. Can a Human adopt such an alien? Can such an intelligent alien adopt a human? Should they?
Of course if the furry alien in question is smart enough to fly spaceships, and happens to be similar in size and disposition to a mature Grizzly bear, wisdom calls for a certain delicacy in telling him no…
The “April” series of books works from an earlier time toward merging with the “Family Law” series.
FROM DAVE FREER: A Mankind Witch.
To the North of the Holy Roman Empire are the pagan Norse-lands. It is here that Prince Manfred of Brittany, and Erik, his Icelandic bodyguard, must venture in the dead of winter to a mountainous land of trolls and ice to find a stolen pagan relic, the arm-ring of Odin, something so magical that it should not be possible to move it beyond its wards, let alone take it away. It is gone, and unless it is recovered before Yuletide and the re-affirmation of truce-oaths, a new Viking age will be born. King Vorenbras will lead his berserkers in an orgy of killing, rapine, looting and destruction, across the Empire’s unguarded North-Western flank.
Princess Signy is the King’s older stepsister, and everyone believes her to be the thief, a witch and a murderess. Everyone, that is, but Cair, her stable-thrall, a man plucked from the ocean, with a hidden past. Cair doesn’t believe in witches or magic, let alone that Signy could steal and murder. If he has to drag the foremost knight of the age, and his deadly bodyguard kicking and screaming though the entire Norse nine worlds to prove it and free her, he’d do it. No Kobold, dwarf, or troll is going to stop him, or his scepticism. Not the wild hunt. Not even a Grendel. He doesn’t believe in this superstitious rubbish. He’s a man of science and learning, and he’s used that to fake his way into being feared as a magic worker. But for Signy, he’ll be all of mankind’s witches.
He’ll have to be, because that’s what it’ll take to defeat the dark magical forces which are marshalled against them.
FROM MICHAEL HOOTEN: We Are All Enlisted
Peter Wright joined the Navy thinking that he could do his time in a nice, quiet billet somewhere on Earth. The Navy had other ideas. When the asteroid miners claimed their independence, Peter finds himself getting sent to space on a warship headed straight into the combat zone. He has to get used to everything: zero gravity, standing watch, and being the only Earth-born in his crew. And he has to be ready for the biggest battle the solar system has ever seen.
FROM J. L. CURTIS: April Fool.
Sean ‘Mac’ McCampbell just wants to keep his head down, avoid the riots, and finish his Linguistics PhD before his GI Bill runs out. But when the professors are promoting insurrection and the cops won’t contain the violence, Mac finds trouble won’t leave the people and places he loves alone.
There’s only so much hurt you can inflict on a man before he decides to do something about it.
The Long March is about to get a real surprise on April first!
FROM JEFF DUNTEMANN: Dreamhealer.
By day, Larry Kettelkamp keeps ancient PDP-8 computers alive in a collapsing industrial bakery. By night he wages war on nightmares, and has been waging that war for thirty years. As a young man, Larry discovered that he could enter other peoples’ nightmares, end them, and then vaccinate the dreamers against that nightmare with an ancient symbol that alters the relationship between the two hemispheres of the brain.
For nightmares are not random concoctions of our dreaming imaginations. Strange creatures called archons living in the subtle realms of the collective unconscious craft horrifying dreams to drop into sleeping minds, and then feast on the terror those dreams evoke. This scheme goes back 15,000 years, to the dawn of human history. It was created by a sort of super-archon who claims to be the Demiurge of ancient Persian myth.
Once Larry learns how to destroy archons instead of merely banishing them from dreams, this architect of all nightmares hunts Larry down and demands that Larry stop destroying the monster’s archon servants. Thus begins an escalating conflict that draws in a bored title-search agent, a witch and a lightworker, two teenage prodigies, a modern-day cult practicing ancient Persian death magick, dream mechas a quarter-mile high, and a very very large number of dogs.
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: ILLUSTRIOUS
34 thoughts on “Book Promo And Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike”
Oh! I really really liked a Mankind Witch. Awesome story of a civilized guy ending up among the barbarian Norse. Fun twist to magic.
Dave Freer writes good stuff. Highly recommended.
Yes, he does. In that vein of plot, I really wish the “Pyramid Scheme” series had taken off better.
Civilized Guy? The Man was a Pirate! 😆
Still a fun story. 😀
“And here’s the tomb of the Illustrious Mage-King of Dnalgne”.
“Illustrious? I’ve heard Infamous”.
“Quiet. Illustrious or Infamous, we don’t want to disturb his rest.”
“If you don’t want to disturb his rest, why the tours?”
“Apparently, his spirit doesn’t want to be forgotten. We tried blocking off access to his tomb, but terrible things happened.”
FWIW, I recommend Dreamhealer – it even treats the idea of “Mechas” with all the (dis)respect it deserves.
Nomination time. book does not have to be illustrious.
This is decidedly NOT at all original (in fact, a wolf of wax related it to me and others, once upon a time. If that makes no sense, congratulations. It doesn’t.) but I was reminded of it…
The Ant is an Example Illustrious
Of Industry Most Industrious
But could You be Calm?
Could You be Placid?
If You were full of Formic Acid?
Papa counted them in, then kept time on the drum set (which had honest-to-gosh heirloom Zildjians) as Mama played keyboard and sang with her sweet voice. Leah did her best to maintain a steady walking bass line on the old Illustrious, and the littles either accompanied on improvised percussion instruments (Joey was getting really good with spoons) or did baby jigs off to the side of the stage. The Guild Hall of Spaceport was full of people, mostly their neighbors with a few off-duty crew from whatever cargo vessel was currently loading, and they kept the room filled with sound while the crowd danced, sang along, or just chatted along the walls.
Meanwhile, on the greengrocer’s world,
In the Sunflower Galaxy
A sign reads;
Welcome to the Age of Asparagus
The plantlets are all aligned
The broccoli’s in bloom
Neath the carrot colored sun,
The kingdom Plantae has an illustrious future here
If the creeks don’t rise
and the sky don’t fall.
“Ceres Approach, HMS Illustrious holding on the initial vector for orbital mooring at USN Ceres. We are expecting USN tug support so we will hold until they join up.”
Tommie looked up from her console, surprise in her raised eyebrows. “Illustrious? The RN sent a Dreadnought all the way out here?”
“Apparently,” said Bill. “Shoot off a text to alert the Navy.” He checked to confirm the massive battlewagon had switched off it’s active stealth and background noise jammers, and had switched on it’s transponder so it was showing up and everyone’s nav radar – they had, so he hit his transmit key: “Radar Contact, Illustrious. Squawk 3726Alpha. We’ve sent over to wake up the Navy tug crews. Welcome to Ceres space, RN.”
Tommie finished logging the arrival and turned back to Bill. “So we’ve got attack carriers Reagan, Trump and DeSantis plus the Texas and Colorado BBs showing up on unscheduled exercises, all in the last two weeks, and the Implacable and Indefatigable RN BBs, and now Illustrious. What’s going on?”
As they packed up their intsruments (being especially careful with the high-hat and crash Zildjians brought from Earth before the Crisis), Leah noticed that there were no Spacers left in the room. There were still people there, but all of them were neighbors–she recognized Hal and Harry (sigh) chatting up the Guinan sisters, and the Fricke family packing up the last remnants of their famous potato salad. But there was not a single Spacer in the room, even though it was the monthly BYOB night at the Hall.
“Mama, something strange is happening. What’s going on?”
HMS Illustrious was what the Royal Avalonian Space Force categorized as a “I” class heavy cruiser. She was built for the Patrol Fleet role, and her simple lines were of the days when most starships were lucky to reach the Golf manifold of Reverse Space. She was slightly larger than most ships of her general class, due to the need to carry both additional anti-matter and supplies for long distance operations. The hatches were closed over the nine casemated 200mm laser cannons arranged in three sets of two forward of her drive ring, and a single set of three aft of the drive ring. Filling in the spaces between the 200mm laser cannons was nine 120mm laser cannons fore and three aft of the drive ring, giving the ship significant firepower to back up her bow-mounted 10m spinal positron cannon.
Illustrious was clearly made at the separation point between when first-line warships made the change over from magnetic cannons to gravity drivers for missile launchers. The driver tubes were built into the hull and armored, but the faint lines of the mounts to raise the drivers clear of the hull fore and after was still clear after multiple refits. Six launchers forward and three aft, and in the rear section of the ship was the launch cells for twelve torpedoes. As the shuttle approached, he could see the studded points where 40mm and 20mm point-defense laser cannons, with a suited crew checking out one of the smaller cannons gravity mirror generators.
Back to a familiar setting, going into the past this time…
“Wait just one damn minute!”
Maximilian looked up from putting the demon’s head in his bag to see a young woman giving him a fiery glare. She cut an attractive figure despite her short, messy brown hair and the tattoos she had on display in her off the shoulder robe. The tattoos themselves seemed to pulse with arcane energy, as did her violet eyes. She was clearly a formidable sorceress but she also had sense enough not to overexert her power as evidenced by the carbine in her hands. Maximilian was grateful that she wasn’t pointing it at him yet, though he didn’t know how long that would last.
“Me and my boys just about had that hellspawn! You don’t get to run off with out prize, Order dog!”
Despite her vulgar words the girl’s voice carried an upper class Severnian accent, making her all the more curious. He vaguely remembered gossip about the renegade daughter of a noble family making a living as a bounty hunter but he had never paid it much attention. Perhaps he should do better about that in the future. It might save him some trouble with angry sorceresses.
“If you call several of your men being knocked out cold by its magic ‘almost had him,’ sure.” the man stated, tying off the bag. “You’re lucky he didn’t kill all of you. Knights of Hell aren’t for amateurs, no matter how much raw talent they have.”
“What did you just say, Blondie?!” the girl shouted, the light on her left shoulder taking on a fiery glow.
“I said that your group tactics are sloppy, you rely too much on brute force, and…” Maximilian paused, stepping into a nearby shadow before emerging behind the girl, cutting down a creeping imp in a flash of steel. “You need to watch your back, too.”
The sorceress almost dropped her gun in surprise. Maximilian had to give her credit, she didn’t have it aimed at anyone and didn’t have her finger on the trigger so there was no accidental discharge. She had good discipline there at least. The girl still looked angry, but the point had been made.
“I don’t care if you take that one. It’ll be worth a good drink at least.” the knight said, cleaning the demonic blood off his blade before returning it to its sheath.
The girl grumbled, but manifested an energy blade with her hand and severed the imp’s head. Maximilian got a clear look at her shoulder tattoo, an arrow with a line through it near the base. He had seen similar tattoos on Order magicians practicing Astral Magic, a complex field that very few could even get the basics down on. Whoever she was, she had talent and perhaps access to fine tutors as well. With that, the last piece of the puzzle fell into place.
“Probably not the kind of drink you would be used to in your usual social circles, though, Lady Bellbrook.” he observed, unable to keep a look of amusement from his face.
“I ditched those a long time ago! Too many pompous asses!” the girl snapped, bagging the imp’s head. “And it’s Crissy! Crissy Rouge, not Lady Bellbrook! Got it, Blondie?!”
“Of course,” Maximilian nodded. “Do be more careful next time.”
Crissy snorted and stormed off in a huff, leaving the knight to claim his prize and make his way back to HQ. He never imagined that he would run into Chryssa Bellbrook, daughter of the illustrious Earl Aloysius, hunting demons in a run-down slum like this. The girl had clearly gotten the most out of her family’s resources when it came to developing her magical talent, though he was less sure where she learned how to use a gun. Either way, she was going to be trouble, and he wasn’t looking forward to giving his report now that she was going to be a part of it.
Emily Long-Caudell always looked forward to seeing the Christmas tree in the main concourse of Grissom City. So tall it almost brushed the ceiling, it was made of aluminum with fiber-optic needles that shone with the ever-changing colors of light that was transmitted up the light-guides from its base. But the real attraction was the decorations: a hundred crystal globes containing miniature models of illustrious spacecraft from Sputnik to the present.
To my shock and horror, I have found that I must disagree with our illustrious hostess about something.
Akshully, masking does prevent covid deaths if you blow up runways with dynamite while wearing a mask. No runways, no international flights. No international flights, no international travelers. No international travelers, and the Chinese are only killing each other with their infernal biological weapons.
Highways, railways, dams, powerlines, data centers, water towers, and natural wonders are all things which can be potentially damaged by use of dynamite, and can be so damaged without violating the new norms of the new normal peaceful protest.
1. Cut off nose.
2. Spite face.
3. Pwn the libs.
5. Victory lap.
“So how’s the writing going these days, Dave?”
“Pretty well, actually.” And he stopped himself digging out the latest big folder of printout to show her, tangibly, how fast it was moving. “Maybe I’m finally learning how to just let the story flow, or even step back enough to let the characters and the setting do the work, let the story tell itself. Or maybe I’m really just finally taking it all seriously enough to keep putting in the time.”
“That’s great to hear, I know this is important to you. And as much as you’ve gone back and forth about ‘whether I can be a real writer or not’ — I’m happy to see you so industrious, writing instead of trying to write.”
“Thanks a lot for that, Jessica, you don’t know how much your support has really meant. I just wish it wasn’t so… illustrious, as well.”
Her quizzical look might not’ve been worth a thousand words, but surely at least a hundred.
“No, I don’t mean it like that, it’s just… you know I’m someone who has to let the story flow, right, not carefully ‘construct’ it to a blueprint like building a ship in a bottle, right?”
And her smile and nod of agreement was answer enough.
“And you know I’m a very visual person, right? That I have to see a lot of things before I can really understand them, even properly imagine them?”
“You may be one of the most ‘visually thinking’ people I know.”
“So it might not surprise you to learn that in order to write this” — and now he did dig the inch-thick folder of a hundred pages or more out of his backpack — “I also had to draw… this.” And he took out one of those cheap-but-serviceable ‘artist’s sketch books’ you can buy in office-supply stores. “Here.”
And she flipped though page after page of character studies, scenes, actual straight-up illustrations. “Wow. This is really good, too. It reminds me of those illustrated books from the late 70s and early 80s, you know, people like Poul Anderson and Jerry Pournelle. I really liked those, always wondered why they stopped publishing them.” And looked up, dark eyes serious. “Have you ever thought of doing a graphic novel, Dave?”
“Good Lord, Jessica, I’m hardly even comfortable with the idea I might be able to write a real novel, I guess I mean a print-only novel, yet.”
“The sky’s the limit, they used to say. Now, in the days of Starship and Dragon and Artemis… the sky is not the limit. As you know better than me.”
Angela sighed. “They all were inside. They will not regard as illustrious for venturing in.”
Karl snorted. “Did anyone regard you as illustrious for coming here, outside?”
She winced. “No.”
“My parents claimed it,” said Celestine, idly. “I think they wanted to be rid of a daughter with peculiar spellcraft.”
Plus of course they have appeared in many past vignettes.
“So!” A voice called across the street. “Here is a new member of our illustrious crew! Has she any clue? Do we have to test her from the start to learn what manner of gifts she has?”
A dark-haired woman, dressed in a dark wine-red gown, came toward them.
Autumn drew a deep breath and reminded herself to not appear so knowing. However illustrious the guests were, she should appear at least in doubt before she was introduced. A girl at her first ball should seem innocent.
If only because her husband would not want her to betray secrets.
“Where is our illustrious client?” The voice rang down the corridor.
Millefleur rolled her eyes. “Do not let it go to your head, Ava.”
Ava blinked. It did have to mean her.
“Indeed,” said Queen Gillian. “She flatters as she breathes. She would flatter a goose girl when dressing her.”
Sure I have illustrious forebears – if you look far enough back. My great-grandfather was Harvey Hawley Portarlington, 16th Earl of Mayhem. My great-grandmother was a parlormaid. Me, I’m Alf Portalini, bouncer at the He’s Not Here bar and occasional torpedo for Big Louie. I come from a long line of bastards and if I don’t like the way somebody looks at me, I’ll prove it.
Is that the bar that was founded by Duffy? Asking for a friend.
* Thinks of the radio show ‘Duffy’s Tavern‘ which always began with a phone call and the barmen telling the caller that Duffy was not in.
“He’s Not Here” was a real bar in the town I grew up in.
“The Chinese sold us a crappy submarine,” thought the Iranian captain as he watched HMS Illustrious, through his periscope, sail majestically on out of range. When he had tried to torpedo her, the sub started taking on water. And then the starboard engine seized up. It was only through the heroic and involuntary sacrifice of the men in the forward torpedo room that they weren’t all dead.
“Beijing must be made to pay for their perfidy,” he said to himself. “But how?”
“We have to get out of here,” Prince Artyom mumbled as he slid along an air vent.
“Yes, your Majesty.”
“If we can make it to the hangar bay, we might have a chance.”
“Of course, your Nobleness.”
“But we have to get past the coded hatch.”
“As you say, your Illustrious-“
“Would you shut up!” he hissed at the droid.
Turning back to inching along the vent, he quietly muttered, “I swear, buying Royal Etiquette droids was the worst decision my Father ever made!”
“Tarken the Illustrious? Name like that, you just know he’s a bastard, right?”
“Nah, Crank. He’s just like the rest of ‘em, heroes and ruddy saints every last one.”
“How’s that work? ‘Illustrious.’ Never heard of it not used as a dig, Gator. ‘Boss Thingummy, the Illustrious Lord of Shitbiscuits and Thieves!’ That, I’d buy. Hero to the muckrakers, saint to all the sinners. You don’t call a guy “illustrious” and not have an angle on him.”
“It was a different time, mate. Men back then, they called a guy that, they meant it. If you was a scumbag they called you a scumbag, didn’t matter if you was dead or no.”
“I guess, yeah. Sister Janice was always on us about tellin’ the truth and keepin’ our word.”
“She was, Lord rest her soul. Did us right, two punk kids from the gutter but that didn’t matter none to her.”
“So we gonna off this guy-”
“Because we gonna keep our word. Don’t matter none to me if he’s some kinda ghoul or other. Some sparkly vampire bullshit or fanged up villain. Told his ass twice, you sell that nasty shit on this rock, peddle that shit to bloody children on our rock, and we will end you. Don’t matter if its in the Tombs or on the docks.”
“Think Mister Illustrious would mind if we got a little ghoul blood on his fancy rock?”
“I doubt it. Punishing villains was probably right up his alley.”
“Are you sure this is a gallery of *illustrious* women?” I said. “I’ve never even heard of this one.”
Kirsten glanced at the portrait I’d indicated. “Anne Hyde Stuart?” she said. “The woman who made a Catholic of James II?”
I blinked. “Did she?”
“What an illustrious woman.”
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