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Wonderland

Life After the Zombie Apocalypse

Wonderland
Editions:Kindle - First Edition: $ 2.99
Pages: 102
Paperback - First Edition: $ 7.99
Size: 8.50 x 5.50 in
Pages: 102

Zeke is a hermit in his late forties who lives a quiet life in a small cabin in the Western Montana mountains, a few miles outside of Thompson Falls. He’s gotten used to being alone since the end of the world, and has everything he needs. Everything but someone to talk to.

Nathan is a younger man on a cross-country trek, searching the country for someone... anyone still alive. Saddled with a ghost from his old life and a case of OCD, he stumbles upon Thompson Falls and a pack of rabid dogs.

Rescued by Zeke, he has to figure out how to be human again. And with Christmas just a week away, both men have to figure out if there’s something left to be hopeful for, and if they might have a future together.

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Zeke returned to the kitchen and pulled a couple dirty plates from the sink.

Nathan had flinched when Zeke had hugged him. He had started to shake.

Did that mean Nathan liked him? Was afraid of him, disgusted by him? He didn’t know how to read the signs. He'd always been crap with all that touchy feely stuff.

He glared at the stacks of dirty dishes. He hadn't quite finished cleaning the place, but maybe he could keep Nathan out of there until he had a chance to get things organized.

His visitor seemed like a nice guy. Zeke wished his gaydar was better.

He washed the plates with some dish soap, giving them a good scrub, and dried them with some of his precious paper towels. He pulled out the last of his smoked salmon and put it on the plates, along with the fruit salad. "I have a few Snapples left," he called. "Lemon or peach?"

"Peach is fine."

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Zeke hauled the plates and a couple forks out into the living room and presented one of them to Nathan with a flourish. "Compliments of the chef."

Nathan laughed. "What I wouldn't give to go to a nice restaurant again." He took the plate and set it on his lap.

"I would love to have cheese again. Especially mozzarella."

"I would die for a Hershey's Special Dark chocolate bar."

"I loved dark chocolate." Zeke returned with the drinks and a couple more paper towels and took a seat on the floor against the wall by the fireplace where he could see Nathan properly. "Where did you start out on your journey?"

"Vermont. Seems like I've been walking forever." Nathan took a bite of the salmon. "What about you? Ooh, this is delicious."

Zeke looked around the old cabin. So many memories. "I grew up here. This was my Dad's place. He passed away a few years ago."

"It's... nice." Nathan took a drag on the bottle of Peach Snapple.

"It's a pack-rat's heaven," Zeke corrected him.

"Yeah." Nathan smiled wanly. "Sorry. My OCD is getting the better of me. I thought I had it under control, but the dog attack, and being in a place like this... Stress is a big trigger for me."

"Oh man. I'm sorry." A light went on in Zeke's head. "That's why you wanted the Xanax." He glanced outside. It was getting dark. "I can run to town right now—"

"It's all right. I can cope until tomorrow. The Xanax just helps take the edge off for a few hours; gives me time to cope. I've learned other ways to manage it."

"So... OCD. Like that TV detective, Monk?"

Nathan winced. "Yeah. Kinda. It's more complicated than that."

"How long have you had it?" Zeke's gaze lingered on Nathan's naked chest. He was feeling warmer than he ought to.

"Since I was ten." Nathan looked at the piles of stuff around the room.

Poor guy looked nervous as hell. "You think hoarding is a kind of OCD?" Zeke joked to lighten the mood.

Nathan snorted. "This isn't hoarding. It's survival."

"Yeah, I suppose you're right." Nathan was handsome, even dirty as he was. Zeke decided that he wanted to kiss him rather badly.

He shifted his trousers. He wasn't usually so out of control like this.

Of course, Nathan had the whole only other living human being on the face of the Earth thing going for him too.

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Fix the World Anthology

twelve sci-fi writers save the future

Fix the World Anthology
Editions:Kindle - First Edition: $ 6.99
Pages: 238
Paperback - First Edition: $ 16.99
ISBN: 978-1-7323075-8-2
Size: 8.50 x 5.50 in
Pages: 238

We’re a world beset by crises. Climate change, income inequality, racism, pandemics,  an almost unmanageable tangle of issues. Sometimes it’s hard to look ahead and see a hopeful future.

We asked sci-fi writers to send us stories about ways to fix what’s wrong with the world.  From the sixty-five stories we received, we chose twelve most amazing (and hopefully prescient) tales.

Dive in and find out how we might mitigate climate change, make war obsolete, switch to alternative forms of energy, and restructure the very foundations of our society,

The future’s not going to fix itself.

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The rumbling increased to a roar, and more dark patches appeared in the green lagoon waters. So expensive. So laborious to stabilize what was left. But every bit worth it, in this moment.

A great spume of water sprayed high enough to throw a shimmer of mist across her face as the first part of the old city broke the surface. As the spume cleared, the top of the Campanile di San Marco rose above the water, green roof gleaming like new. A nice touch. The Restoration Guild must have worked overtime on that one. Its golden weathervane was gone, but the bas relief of the lion of St. Mark made her clutch her heart.

“Mamma, what’s the lion for?” She licked chocolate off her hands, desperate to make her afternoon snack last just a little longer.

“It’s the symbol of the city.” Mamma put her hand on Cinzia’s chest, patting it—boom boom, boom boom. “The beating heart of who we are.”

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Cinzia stumbled. It felt like yesterday.

“You okay?” Gio’s brow creased.

“I… sorry, yes. So many memories.”

Skipping over the bridges. The bad days of the quarantine. The corner market where mamma used to do her grocery shopping…

The Flood.

Another building broke the surface nearby—the Santa Maria della Salute, the beautiful basilica. Water poured off the gorgeous green domes in a thundering flood. They were mostly intact, though one of the smaller ones had a gaping hole—water poured out of it, cascading down to the lagoon like a waterfall, joining the general uproar of the Rise.

“Look, Kendra. You can see the outlines of the Canal Grande now.” The old waterway—the pulsing artery of the city—snaked away from them like a backwards ’S.’ In the distance, she could make out the edge of the Sestriere Cannaregio, the district where her mamma had lived in a modest apartment in an old stone palazzo that looked out on a concrete courtyard.

Waters rising, as it rained for close on a month, coming ever closer to their own second-floor balcony.

What if the water doesn’t stop coming?” Cinzia stared out at the concrete courtyard, where the seawater swirled and churned.

“Don’t worry about that, tesoro. The water always stops, eventually. Now come here and help me with dinner.”

She had been lucky. She had survived.

All across the lagoon, the buildings of Venice were rising from the water. Many were broken, piles of bricks and debris covered with algae and surprised fish that flopped around on suddenly exposed land. The outlines of the city were becoming clear as water poured out of the buildings, churning the lagoon into a muddy, frothy mess.

A row of palazzos along the edge of the Canal Grande collapsed, sending up a deafening roar as they crumbled into rubble. Cinzia stepped back instinctively, pulling Kendra with her as the platform rose thirty meters into the air to avoid the cloud of debris that briefly rose above the lagoon before settling back to earth.

“Nothing to be alarmed about. Not all buildings were stabilized prior to the Rise.” Doctor Horvat’s lined face nodded reassuringly from the hovering screen before them, her voice broadcast across the world and to the Lunar colonies far above. “We expected some collapses. We will keep you away from the dangerous areas.”

“What if the city doesn’t stop rising?” Kendra grasped the railing, her gaze locked on the scene below.

Gio knelt next to the girl. “There’s no chance of that. The polyps have a very short lifetime…”

Cinzia was grateful to him. He probably understood the science behind all of this far better than she.

Her mind drifted.

They ate the last of the almond cantucci, savoring the hard cookies even though they were stale. Cinzia was still hungry, but she knew better than to ask for more. There was no more.

Outside, the rain had finally slowed to a constant drizzle.

Mamma ruffled her hair, managing a wan smile. “I need you to stay here, Cinzia. Someone will come for you, I promise. I will find us help.”

The helicopters had stopped coming days before, and the boats that had been plentiful the first few days, with men telling them to stay put, had bypassed their part of the city ever since.

The rumbling subsided.

Cinzia opened her eyes and looked around. For just a moment, there was absolute silence on the traghetto, along the shore, and on the sky board.

She looked over the railing.

Venice—her Venice—lay before her. It was in sad shape. Many of the landmarks she remembered were tarnished or broken. Whole zones of the city had collapsed, and except for Piazza San Marco, a green film covered the risen city. She was a ghost of her former glory.

But she was there, as solid and real as the hand before Cinzia’s face.

 

—From "Rise," by J. Scott Coatsworth

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Eventide

Book Cover: Eventide
Editions:Kindle - First Edition: $ 0.99
Pages: 33

What if you woke up in a strange place that was as familiar as your own home, but also completely strange and different? What if you opened your curtains to find the universe looking back at you?

Welcome to Eventide.

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Chinatown

Chinatown - J. Scott Coatsworth
Editions:Kindle - First: $ 0.99
Pages: 40

Deryn is a dreamcaster in the new Chinese enclave in what was once San Francisco. He and his girlfriend Gracie scrape together a life, living in an old department store and struggling to live by the Charter under Chinese rule.

But when someone offers a way out, Deryn is afraid he might lose everything if it goes wrong, including his unborn child. Until he learns that a worse fate awaits them all if he doesn't act.

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Cailleadhama: Through the Veil

Caileadhama: Through the Veil
Editions:Kindle - First: $ 2.99
Pages: 100
Paperback - First: $ 8.99
Size: 8.50 x 5.50 in
Pages: 100

Colton is a trans man living in a climate-changed world. He plies the canals that used to be city streets, earning a living taking tourists on illicit journeys through San Francisco's flooded edges beneath the imposing bulk of the Wall.

Tris is an elf who comes through the veil to the City by the Bay - the Caille - on a coming of age pilgrimage called the Cailleadhama. He is searching for his brother Laris, who went missing after crossing through the Caille years before.

The two men find they have common cause, and together they set off to find Laris in a world transformed by the twin forces of greed and climate change. And in the end, they find out more than they ever expected, both about the warming world and their own selves.

Note: This story was originally published in the "Myths Untold: Faery" anthology from Wilde City Press. It is presented here in its original form.

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Reviews:Chris Sweeso on Bayou Book Junkie wrote:

I loved how the author wove action with mythology and romance and gave us a very detailed story that I just couldn’t put down until it ended! Colton and Tris were both amazing on their own, but together they seemed unstoppable and I was very happy with how their relationship progressed and the resolution in the end.


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The Last Run

The Last Run
Editions:Kindle - First: $ 2.99
ISBN: B07WWH579T
Pages: 98
Paperback - First: $ 7.99
ISBN: 978-1688284906
Size: 8.50 x 5.50 in
Pages: 98

Sera is the last runner from Earth, bringing badly needed supplies to the Tharassas Colony across a twenty-five year gulf between the planets. Jas works on a hencha farm to make ends meet, harvesting berries from the semi-sentient plants.

Neither one that knows their lives—and worlds—are about to change forever.

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The Shoreless Sea

Liminal Sky Book 3

The Shoreless Sea
Part of the Liminal Sky series:
Part of the Liminal Sky: Ariadne Cycle series:
Editions:Kindle - First: $ 4.95Paperback (Abkhazian) - Second: $ 18.99 USD

As the epic trilogy hurtles toward its conclusion, the fight for the future isn’t over yet. It could lead to a new beginning, or it might spell the end for the last vestiges of humankind.

The generation ship Forever has left Earth behind, but a piece of the old civilization lives on in the Inthworld—a virtual realm that retains memories of Earth's technological wonders and vices. A being named Lilith leads the uprising, and if she succeeds in setting its inhabitants free, they could destroy Forever.

But during the generation ship's decades-long voyage, humanity has evolved. Liminals with the ability to connect with the world mind and the Inthworld provide a glimmer of hope. They'll have to face not only Lilith’s minions, but also the mistrust of their own kind and persecution from a new government as homotypicals continue to fear what they can't understand.

The invasion must be stopped, the Inthworld must be healed, and the people of Forever must let go of their past and embrace what they’re meant to become.

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Homecoming

Second Edition

Homecoming - J. Scott Coatsworth
Editions:Kindle - Second: $ 2.99
Pages: 100
Paperback - Second: $ 8.99
Size: 8.50 x 5.50 in
Pages: 100

Spaceman meets wolfman.

When his own world is destroyed, Aldiss and his crew barely manage to escape, leaving friends and lovers behind. What was meant to be an exploratory trip back to the home world becomes a mad dash for survival.

When they awaken from deep sleep on Earth, abandoned by humanity five centuries before, they must quickly learn about their new home. While exploring the region around the ship, Aldiss meets Hari, a human-wolf hybrid, whose people harbor secrets which just might cost the crew their lives.

Will Hari and Aldiss uncover the secrets of the past and find common ground? Or are Aldiss and his team doomed to failure?

Excerpt:
Reviews:Paul on Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words wrote:

“This book clicks on just about every level... a ride worth taking.”


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Ithani

Liminal Sky: Oberon Cycle Book 3

Ithani - J. Scott Coatsworth - Liminal Sky: Oberon Cycle
Part of the Liminal Sky: Oberon Cycle series:
Editions:Kindle - First: $ 4.95
Pages: 325
Paperback (Abkhazian) - First: $ 18.99 AUD
Pages: 325

Time is running out.

After saving the world twice, Xander, Jameson and friends plunge headlong into a new crisis. The ithani―the aliens who broke the world―have reawakened from their hundred millennia-long slumber. When Xander and Jameson disappear in a flash, an already fractured world is thrown into chaos.

The ithani plans, laid a hundred thousand years before, are finally coming to pass, and they threaten all life on Erro. Venin and Alix go on a desperate search for their missing and find more than they bargained for. And Quince, Robin and Jessa discover a secret as old as the skythane themselves.

Will alien technology, unexpected help from the distant past, destiny and some good old-fashioned firepower be enough to defeat an enemy with the ability to split a world? The final battle of the epic science fiction adventure that began in Skythane will decide the fate of lander and skythane alike.

And in the north, the ithani rise….

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Now it is the time of night
That the graves all gaping wide,
Every one lets forth his sprite,
In the church-way paths to glide:
And we fairies, that do run
By the triple Hecate’s team,
From the presence of the sun,
Following darkness like a dream.
William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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Erina’s iridescent wings fluttered in distress.
The time of the Great Migration was almost upon them. Overhead, the sun turned redder day by day. Soon it would unleash a torrent of heat and radiation that would destroy the ithani, the Heart, and Erro itself.
Ze had foreseen the end of the war years before and had passed zer knowledge on to Thshnel’Jirron, trusting zi to protect them all. But zis plan had gone too far, and soon the ithani would destroy themselves in a bid for immortality.
Only zi would survive, immensely more powerful than now. A virtual vengeful god.
Ze had seen that, too, but it had come to zer far too late.
Each generation of the ithani had a seer, and ze had been born from the Heart with that heavy responsibility upon zer small shoulders. Even a seer didn’t know everything about what was to pass. Only the bits and pieces that were passed on to zer from the athrà. Besides Jirron, no one else knew ze had the gift.
Something, or someone, was coming, ze didn’t know what yet, but ze could feel it in zer bones.
Ze was at a loss for what to do next. Ze let out a whoosh of breath, resigned to waiting. It would come to zer, the vision she needed. When the gods thought it was time.
Until then, ze would keep zer wings low to the ground and do nothing further to draw attention.

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Reviews:Melanie on Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words wrote:

"This book is magical in its reach and edifying in the joy and depth of its conclusion... an absolute tour de force... That’s just the way this whole novel goes…like dancing lights above a lake. It will entrance you, pull you in, leave you to wonder at it all. And then make you want to take the journey all over again."

Joscelyn Smith on Goodreads wrote:

"FINALLY! This was an absolutely brilliant ending to the Oberon series. The cliffhanger ending of Lander left me desperate for more but Ithani more than made up for the wait. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it, my only complaint is that this is the end and I'm going to miss these amazing characters. I have no doubt that I'll be rereading this series more than once."


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Spells & Stardust

Spells & Stardust - J. Scott Coatsworth
Editions:Kindle - First: $ 3.99
Pages: 136
Kindle (Abkhazian) - First: $ 9.99 AUD
Pages: 136

Spells & Stardust is Scott's first anthology - eight sci fi and fantasy shorts that run the gamut from regeneration to redemption.

The Bear at the Bar: A gay fish out of water tale with a pinch of magic.

Tight: What happens when your lover disappears in midair?

Morgan: The year when everything changed.

Re-Life: What if you were reborn in a strange new future?

A New Year: They met every eleven years. And each time, Hank's life changed.

Repetition: What if you wanted to go back in the closet?

Gargoyle: Sometimes you get what you deserve. Sometimes it happens on All Hallows Eve.

Avalon: A few bright moments in the sun, stolen from outside time.

Most of these stories have been previously published in various anthologies and journals. This is the first time they have all been collected in one place.

Excerpt:

The edge of the old cement pediment crumbled away beneath Hank’s feet into the river far below, glistening in the light of the almost-full moon. The bridge railing was cold at his back—he could feel it all the way through his jacket and shirt to his skin. He could see his breath glowing in the night air.

The nearly-frozen water rushed by in the river below, flowing under the bridge behind him and on toward the ocean far away in a steady flow, silver in the moonlight and heavily laden with winter rain. As soon as he gathered his courage, Hank would let go of his grip on the railing and fall into those icy waters, to disappear forever from the world of men.

It was New Year's Day, 1986, an hour after midnight, and it was the end of things for Hank.

Or it should have been.

It was also the night he first met Dale.