Lift-off with New Frontiers!

New FrontiersGreetings, gentle readers!

Today’s a special day! Yes, it’s Tuesday, but it’s also a release day! Not the next novel, I’m sad to say–though the final chapter of the Haunted Shadows trilogy is coming along nicely–but a short story for your good, cheap fun style perusal. (Note: for the trollers among you, I am not, in fact, good cheap fun…but this bit of sci-fi is.) Some of you may remember “New Frontiers” in an earlier incarnation. Well, it has been tightened up, edited and remastered, and now it has been repackaged in its own shiny form for e-book distribution. Grand Celestia has been kind enough, in the meanwhile, to coincide a Super Moon with the release. Seriously, you can read by that thing at night.

“New Frontiers” also has a shiny tag on the inside, for which I am grateful: an Unfettered Books selection. They’re quality people, those Unfettered folks, and I tip my hat to their efforts in redistribution.

Here’s the relevant links so that you might snag your own copy (for just $0.99!) — a link that comes with a rather broad smile and a most lofty salute to anyone who decides to take the plunge into the depths of space with me, and learn a bit about where privatized exploration just might take us.

Amazon (US) 

Amazon (UK)

Special thanks to anyone who takes the time to share these links today. May the week find you well!

Crass Costumes Dreams Wore

Deep down in the marrow of costumed bone

lies the lonely bastion where hope might roam

 

she cloaks herself in mercy’s skin,

constructing strength, as warmth, from within

 

scores the walls to scale the rain

before the river dries within the drain

 

hips akimbo, straddling the lands

once stoked and carved by swaying hands—

 

it’s more than stubborn brow,

it’s something less than the weight of a farmer’s plough;

 

yet prisoners don it day by day

with gloved flesh, lest humanity wash away.

Book Review: Retribution Falls

So, a daemonologist, a smuggler, and an Archduke’s heir walk into an airship—oh dear, you haven’t heard this one before, have you?

Retribution Falls is, like much of its steampunky brethren, strange above all else. The good sort of strange, mind you, but strange none the less. No lizard people, but airships abound (because how else would we know it was Steampunk? The goggles would make no sense!), magic and daemons are in the air, and money is the name of the game. Money is, after all, the driving focus of this novel, given that it’s a tale of a crew of smugglers.

Enter Darien Frey, captain of the Ketty Jay—a ship he loves above all else. Even his crew. Or his passengers. Even…well, alright, money would probably give it a run for it. He’s a man that would look a thief in the eye and tell him to go screw himself rather than turn over his precious ship—even if it meant getting some of the (expendable) souls around him iced. His crew? Much the same in temperament. But what do you expect? They’re a crew of bandits, smugglers, and lowlifes of the lowest rate.

No, I mean it, the lowest rate. They lack success, luck, and the money that goes with it. They barely have the money to keep flying but—you guessed it—with the dawning of the book, is the dawning of an opportunity: the job to end all jobs. Like any “job”, though, a hero (alright, anti-hero) isn’t about to get off without a hitch—and in this case, the hitch involves explosions and false charges of murder. Whoops. Welcome to fame (sans fortune) and a top spot on the number one most wanted list! Toss in a fugitive daemonologist for flavor, a desperate need to prove innocence, not to mention a seasoning of dark humor, and what you’ve got here is a real winner.

Does it have the depth you know I love? Alright, well, not in its entirety, but it strikes a decent enough balance for a book as outright fun as this one. Character development does abound, characters learn from past mistakes, and as quick as you can swallow this bit of literature, it’s rare that you actually feel left wanting over its course. No info-dumps will weigh you down, so it’s a speedy read.

Also: there is daemonism. Daemonism magic, to be exact, which is a sort of outright fantasy mixed with pseudoscience, and used just enough to tease one’s interest without giving enough away to truly pick apart. What’s more: it’s magic with a downside! Not all powerful—and that’s just the sort of magic I like.

Basically, Retribution Falls is an amusing package that fires on almost every cylinder: fast-paced action (including airship action, which is always glorious), rampant piracy, and characters with humor—and, well, character. In the words of a terrible song? I like it, I love it, I want some more of it. This is how you steampunk.

A Momentary Interlude to Discuss Violence in America

“Hands up, don’t shoot,”—a modern mantra.

Before the events of Aug. 9, it was a phrase that we all knew, a classic plea of self-defense. It shows surrender, peaceful surrender. Yet in Ferguson, that phrase has become a rallying cry, precisely because of how it did not work.

When you look at pictures on the news, it’s everywhere. On t-shirts. On posters. It is a jab at the police force there where, according to witness reports, Michael Brown, who raised his hands in surrender, was shot regardless by a white officer.

The end result hasn’t just been a slogan, though. Protests, riots, and an indefensible police response have been at the heart of news circuits over the course of the last week. Some outlets have come to refer to this St. Louis suburb as “Fergustan,” a not-so-veiled reference to the fact that we expect this sort of behavior more overseas—we just don’t expect to see it on the streets of what our leaders regularly proclaim, “The Greatest Nation on Earth.”

I write this message not because it’s not being covered. Lord knows, there’s round the clock coverage of this mess, both at home and abroad. Amnesty International is sending a team to its first ever American investigation for goodness sake, and it’s no longer unusual to see war correspondents on the scene. People are tense. People are watching. I’m writing this message as an appeal, and as an airing of details.

Last night, after the Missouri State Police finally relieved the Ferguson Police Department of their duties—following endless criticism of their overhanded efforts to dissolve protests—and hopeful speeches throughout the day, things took their darkest turn yet. Hours before a governor-imposed curfew, things turns violent when police attempted to disperse the crowds and “restore calm.”

The stated reasons: reports of gunfire, a protest a little too near to a police command center for their liking. The end result? Molotov cocktails, lines of riot police, tear gas, and as of this morning, a call for the National Guard.

Yes, that’s right, the National Guard. The people that are deployed against disasters have now found themselves in a situation they haven’t had to deal with since the 1960s—a need to quell raw, simmering rage, and restore order for those whose sole job should be to do so. Gov. Jay Nixon signed an executive order this morning deploying the U.S. state militia to the area, effectively dubbing Ferguson a disaster zone.

“Tonight, a day of hope, prayers, and peaceful protests was marred by the violent criminal acts of an organized and growing number of individuals, many from outside the community and state, whose actions are putting the residents and businesses of Ferguson at risk,” Nixon said in a statement on his website.

In contradiction, you have residents saying things like, “The smoke bombs were completely unprovoked,” said Anthony Ellis, 45. “It (the protest) was led by kids on bikes. Next you know they’re saying, ‘Go home, Go home!’” (Reuters)

State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson explained, in turn, that while most protesters were peaceful, the trouble came from “a few people bent on violence and destruction.” Elevating the level of the police response was, in his opinion, simply par for the course. Following that example, the state has now raised theirs, even as the Federal government steps in to autopsy Brown’s body (a third time it’s had to go through this, mind you), and supporting protests spring up in other cities.

In Ferguson, they’ve even closed schools today.

It’s out of control

So let’s break this down:

A week of protests.

Brutal police tactics, from start to finish, including the shooting of a man they later released criminal details on, but which they knew nothing of at the time. Journalists have been arrested for nothing more than reporting on the details, and there has been a determined effort to keep the information gatherers out.

Local, state and federal agencies scrambling for a response.

Autopsy after autopsy after autopsy.

Those people taking the streets say there often is no other outlet for their objections, that they have no alternative but to protest until they are listened to. It’s a sad state to find oneself in, not just as an individual, but as a community. Young and old alike, they’ve put up with a lot, for a very long time—the thing breaking here in Ferguson is not a single man’s poor decision, but the latest in a long-running sense of one versus the other, of an outlook on a community that does no one any favors.

It wasn’t even until a few days ago that the police finally caved to Civil rights activists’ demands for the name of the officer who shot and killed Mr. Brown—ostensibly out of concern for his safety, and probably logically so, but nonetheless, a poor move which only served to fan the flames in the community.

Conclusion?

Police, Politicians, and fellow Citizens, we need to rethink how this whole society thing is working. Because if this is how things turn out, it’s not. We don’t want the United States of America to be the land of freedom under which terms and conditions may apply. None of us signed a terms and licensing agreement.

What’s more, this should be a wake up call. With the militarization of police forces across the USA, the buying of surplus military arms, and, if a concerted effort is not made to rein in what exactly is “the law,” what exactly is “right and wrong,” the capacity for what is happening in Ferguson could happen anywhere, and that’s a truly dark thought.

Communication, people. It makes the world go round. Let’s engage before we disintegrate.

A Fairy Tale from Celtic Hearts

Burrowed into the emerald hills

I have found the ghosts of waves resonant

in every whistle of the reflection—

it lay beneath a stream dark as indigo.

 

I found the horse that would carry me back

across grey scale and falling sand

hoary as the one that held its hours

as a cloud its gift of rain.

 

There we rode across the moon

under baths of silver light youth made

sparkle in that distant sky, eternal

save for the need to breathe, and live, and love—

 

It touched my palms, this dream of mine

without cause or grace or end to mystery;

yet it fell, as perfection always does

until the next promise of a nightly love.

The Grand Unveiling: Introducing Unfettered Books

Time to cease the vague social media hints and grab the megaphone. Roll out the red carpet, gentle readers! I proudly present to you a shining new self-pub indie author book site:

Unfetteredbooks.com

Unfettered Books is a site that currently features myself and Nathan Hartley, whom some of you will doubtless recognize as my editor, though others might know him as the poet who brought The Vultures and I to the world. Both his book and my own are available on our site as well as links to his Facebook author page and more. The most exciting part of this is what Unfettered Books has to offer you all, our intelligent and engaging readers!

As a team, Hartley and I are very excited to offer a promise of quality, imagination and open dialogue that will guarantee a worry free reading experience. We are both avid readers of self-published and indie published books, and know the uncertainty that comes with the undertaking. Will this new, unknown author’s books be worth the time and money? Will the books be filled with errors, from plot-based loopholes to grammatical madness? Will the author walk away, leaving the series half finished?

With the Unfettered Books stamp of approval you can buy and read our books unbound and without worry, knowing there are little to no errors, complete chapters, satisfying endings (as well as guaranteed endings to any series under the guidance of our fingertips, mind you), and an honest, open dialogue with the authors.

You can find the whole of our Unfettered Books Collection on our website. You can also join our Reader’s List to access our free monthly newsletter!