Andromeda Dreaming – Part One

“Where’s home?” Atica asked as she rubbed her eyes and gazed out the window.

Braxas pointed to the sky. “Just there. See the bright star in the center? Now look just a bit to your left. That’s your homeworld, Allura, in the Andromeda Galaxy.”

“Will I ever see it again?”

“Someday. Don’t despair, Atica,” Braxas assured her as he guided her back to bed. “Sleep well. I will see you again soon.”

Atica crawled into her bed and grabbed her stuffed bunny. As she snuggled into her covers, she watched Braxas wink at her and then fade away.

Like so many other orphans scattered across the Universe, Atica had been aboard the Dilectia, an enormous expedition ship exploring deep space when it came under attack. The parents placed their children in pods and cast them out into the vast expanse, much like seedlings from an Earthly dandelion, dispersed by solar winds. At the age of six, Atica landed on Marmooth, a small planet occupied by bipeds, like herself. She’d been accepted into a caring family consisting of two mothers and two fathers and their eight children, but Atica never felt a part of them. She was not a Marmoothian and never would be.

Atica’s only salvation was the nightly visits from Braxas, a hologram who’d been placed aboard the computer on her pod. Unfortunately, he was only a Model-2 ATH – Andromedan Tutor Hologram – and had just enough power for a few hours of evening courses. He taught her all about the known Universe, about Allura, and about her parents. All things to keep her memory barely intact. When he left her each night, Atica imagined him returning to the pod that still sat in the back yard of the house she occupied with the Klaufk family. He’d be kicked back in a reclined seat, sipping a fizzy with his body hooked into the matrix to recharge. It was a silly story she told herself. She knew full well that when Braxas disappeared each night, he became the matrix, nothing but bits and bytes of data.

As she closed her eyes, Atica thought about her parents. They were both engineers and had been so proud for the chance to serve aboard the Dilectia. Atica had only been three when they’d boarded the ship, but she remembered so clearly playing in the zero-gravity school room while her parents worked. A tear fell from her clinched eyes as she recalled the horrible explosions that pelted the ship minutes before she was cast off by her mother. She could still see her mother’s red, tear-soaked face as she said her final goodbyes.

“If we survive, we will come for you,” her mother had promised as she buckled Atica into the small seat. “We love you, Atica.”

It had been three years. Atica no longer had hope that she would see her parents again. Somedays, she feared she would never return to Allura either. Had the Captain not sent a distress signal back to Andromeda? Her pod had a tracking chip in it. Surely someone would come for her, even if her parents hadn’t survived.

These were thoughts that kept young Atica awake at night. Thoughts that she dragged around all day like ghosts. Her mind recalled the mournful eulogy the Captain said each time someone had been killed or lost in space. Words she could never forget. Words she repeated each night as she drifted off to sleep.

We mourn the loss of…. And cast back to the Universe our brethren. Those who came from stardust and now return to stardust. May the light of Andromeda bring your spirits home again.

As she fell into a deep sleep, Atica wished to be lost, to be stardust, riding the solar winds back to Andromeda.

 

Each morning began the same. Her adopted sisters, Sasine and Elanta, who were close to Atica’s age, would jump on her bed to awaken her. They were the only three too young to join a trade school and remained home with the mothers. Atica still couldn’t bring herself to call them Mama, so instead she called them Mata G and Mata C, mata being a word of endearment on Allura. G stood for Gladia and C stood for Cristasha, the women’s given names. They’d both accepted Atica’s words for them. Even Sasine and Elanta used them on occasion. The fathers weren’t as accepting. They didn’t like being called Dal M or Dal T and insisted upon being called Papa. Atica tried every way she could to keep from addressing them, often directing all her words to the Matas.

“Mata G says we can help her in the garden this morning,” Sasine informed Atica as she helped braid Atica’s long white hair.

Elanta rummaged through the closet. “We should all wear matching shorts and tops. Then we’ll be the same.”

Atica stared at herself in the mirror. She would never be the same as Sasine and Elanta. They had copper skin, long black hair, and deep green eyes. Atica was as pale as the light blue seas of Marmooth, and with her cobalt eyes and her white hair, she stood out regardless of how she dressed. Despite the agony of the reminded contrast, she smiled at Elanta and nodded her head. She couldn’t refuse Sasine or Elanta anything.

With their matching outfits and braided hair, the three clambered down the stairs and into the kitchen. They expected to see Mata C at the stove cooking breakfast, but she was nowhere to be found and there was no food laid out for them. Sasine and Elanta didn’t seem at all bothered by their missing mother, but Atica fretted and paced the floor.

“Don’t worry, Atica. You know our mamas disappear sometimes,” Sasine said as she dragged a chair to a cupboard, climbed onto it and gathered three bowls.

Atica sighed. “But never at breakfast.”

Elanta gathered cereal and milk and sat them on the table. She glided by Atica, patted her on the shoulder and chuckled. “Our poor sisling doesn’t like change.”

Atica cringed at the word sisling which meant adopted sister. It reminded her once more that she was not a part of the Klaufk family. It was true though. She didn’t like change. She ignored Elanta’s teasing and walked out onto the cobblestone patio, looked over the edge of the wall and out into the garden. Mata G was nowhere to be found either.

“They’re both missing,” she announced as she rejoined Sasine and Elanta in the kitchen. She plopped down in a chair, frowning.

Sasine poured the green and purple cereal into each of the three bowls, covered it with milk and sat a bowl in front of Atica. “Eat. They’ll be back when they get back.”

In all this time with the Matas, Atica still didn’t understand why they disappeared periodically. Usually it would be just one or the other, but since Sasine turned ten a week prior, they’d given her more responsibilities. It was apparent that now she was also their babysitter.

“Aren’t you just a tiny bit curious?” Atica asked, staring at Sasine and lifting a spoonful of cereal to her mouth.

Sasine shrugged her shoulders. “I will know soon enough. No sense in rushing my childhood.”

They’d had similar conversations in the past, but this was the first time Sasine had alluded that she too would go through this. Did all the Marmoothian women disappear for a bit?

“How do you know you will know soon?”

“Our mamas told me.”

“But they didn’t tell you why?”

“No.”

“And you didn’t think to ask?”

Sasine sighed. “I am not as curious as you are, Atica. When it is my time to know, I will know.”

Elanta slurped her milk and then looked up at Atica, grinning wide with a milk moustache. “I will know some day too.”

“So, this is a Marmoothian thing.”

Sasine nodded. “Our papas disappear too. We just don’t see it since they work all the time.”

“Will I disappear?”

Sasine and Elanta glanced at one another for a long moment, and then with scrunched up faces, they looked back at Atica. In unison, they replied, “I don’t know.”

Atica folded her arms across her chest and leaned back in her chair. “I’ll never get used to this place,” she said with a sigh.

 

The three toiled in the garden all morning. Sasine tended the matarask fruit trees which yielded a sweet, honey-like purplish-blue fruit. The limbs had to be pruned often or they would entangle themselves with the other fruit trees and bear poisonous fruit. Elanta pulled weeds along the rows of lettuces and other greens. She enjoyed being close to the ground so she could play with various beetles and worms. This meant that Atica got the nastiest of jobs – wheeling barrels of manure and water to the garden and dispersing them.

Every now and again, Atica stopped, wiped her brow, and looked up into the pink sky. She tried to imagine what the sky looked like on Allura, but she’d only seen pictures of home on the vast holowalls in the suite she’d shared with her parents on the Dilectia. Her memories of then were fading with each passing day. Had the skies been periwinkle? She struggled to remember, but failed. She’d have to ask Braxas. It was nearing high-noon which meant Atica would have to go inside. Her skin couldn’t handle the heat of midday.

“I’m going in now,” she yelled at Sasine, who merely waved in acknowledgement.

By the time Atica reached the shade of the house, her skin burned. She’d stayed out too long. She went up to her room and walked into the small closet-like chamber the Klaufk Dals had built for her. She closed the door, sat down on the coolness of the crystal bench, and let out a relieved sigh. This small floor-to-ceiling crystal room was all she had to connect her to Allura. She closed her eyes. In her mind, she could hear Braxas speaking.

The cities of crystals. Streets, buildings, even the saunas, all filled with crystals. The mountains of crystals beaten by the clear aquamarine oceans. That is Allura, my sweet Atica. That is home.

Atica curled up on the bench and fell into a deep sleep, dreaming of Allura, far away in Andromeda.


Andromeda Dreaming is a YA Science Fiction story. Young Atica has been marooned on an alien world, adopted by a family there. She longs for her parents who may or may not be alive, and Allura, her homewold in the Andromeda Galaxy. Will she ever see her parents again? Or will she have to accept a life on the foreign planet Marmooth where she fears she will never fit in?

Andromeda Dreaming ©2016-2017 Lori Carlson. All rights reserved. Permission must be granted to distribute or copy this serial (unless reblogging). Thank you.

Jump ahead to Part 2

Short Story Review – The Moment by Lawrence M. Schoen

The Moment is a 10-page Science Fiction short story. The story begins with an archaeocaster named Cwaliheema who seeks to broadcast about the Mark and the long lost story of its origin and the race of people involved, but before it can complete its transmission, it is snuffed out. Over time, others come to the same moon to witness the Mark and try to understand all that has occurred on the moon since the discovery of the Mark – a race of clones known as the Krenn, mere specks who eventually kill themselves in a horrible war; Seela, a broccoli-stalk king of the Vegetable World who sucks up the remnants of the dead Krenn, only to be poisoned by them and dies; a peer review chorus from the Trindle Journal of Medical Profundities who complete their job and disperse; a library protocol who fails to recognize it has become obsolete in its pursuit of the Moon, the Mark and all who’ve come before it to that place, and is eventually erased from lack of interest and funding; auditing particulates who arrive after no trace is left of the events on the Moon with the exception of the Mark, and whose audit takes far too long and yields nothing of significance, but stories of it later become folklore; and lastly, a coterie of proto-godlings led by a liquid hydrogen tutor. The Mark creates The Moment, an event of extreme importance, as explained by the tutor.

Schoen is a masterful story-teller. He weaves words like fine cloth, creating intricate, detailed suits of events. He takes seemingly unlikely things and creates believable beings out of them full of life – lives that end in tragedies and disappointments.

The story is told like an unfolding folktale, rich in poetic language that will leave you in awe. This is a story to be read again and again, to slowly savor bit by bit until you’ve devoured it completely, satiated by its beauty.

Rating: 5 Stars

Genre: Science Fiction

To Read: If you’d like to read the story, please contact and follow Lawrence on Twitter @klingonguy. He will gladly direct you to a free copy of it.

Book Review – Refugee Road (Freedom Fighters #1) by Nikki Landis

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Refugee Road is the first book in the Freedom Fighters series, set in an alternate history of a war torn United States. Lizzie lost everything in the war – her mother, sister and her best friend. Now she is a refugee, fighting along side a small band of freedom fighters, led by a man named Darren who is not only the leader, but a vengeful, dangerous man. Along the way, you meet Mal who is like a big brother to Lizzie and Alec, a man she met once before the war and who becomes Lizzie’s whole world. Alec is a member of the militia, the sworn enemy of the refugees.

What I love most about this book is how rich the characters are. Landis has created characters so believable that you cannot help but care about them, even her villains, Darren and Donnovan (who is only a villain for a short while). As much as you want to cheer for Lizzie, Alec and Mal, you also want to see them defeat Darren and Donnovan.

Landis has also done an excellent job with settings. Her descriptions put you right there in each scene, in the cold and dark, shivering in the mud, or warm and safe in a temporary shelter. There is one terrifying scene that she does exceptionally well – when Lizzie is beaten.

I will confess, I do not generally read romances. What set this one apart is the alternate history and dystopia nature of the story. The romantic scenes in the story are sweet in nature. A bit overly mushy, but told in a gentle manner. If you enjoy sweet romances, you will definitely enjoy this one.

My only criticism for this story is that while it began with a lot of action and suspense, it did slack off in the middle. This is probably just my own reaction since I do not read a lot of romances because all the romance happened in the middle. By then end of the book, the action did pick up again.

The last scene in the book is definitely a lead-in to the next book in the series titled Midnight Surrender, which I will now have to read to see how Lizzie gets out of that situation.

I am not going to rate this story negatively just because of the slow, romantic part in the middle. As I said, I don’t normally read romances, so for me, it was slow. For others though, it might actually be the best part of the story.

Rating: 5 stars

Genre(s): Alternate History/Science Fiction, Dystopia, Romance

To Purchase: Amazon

#BookPromo – Splinterlands by John Feffer

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About the Book

Julian West, looking backwards from 2050, tries to understand why the world and his family have fallen apart.

Part Field Notes from a Catastrophe, part 1984, part World War Z, John Feffer’s striking new dystopian novel, takes us deep into the battered, shattered world of 2050. The European Union has broken apart. Multiethnic great powers like Russia and China have shriveled. America’s global military footprint has virtually disappeared and the United States remains united in name only. Nationalism has proven the century’s most enduring force as ever-rising global temperatures have supercharged each-against-all competition and conflict among the now 300-plus members of an increasingly feeble United Nations.

As he navigates the world of 2050, Julian West offers a roadmap for the path we’re already on, a chronicle of impending disaster, and a faint light of hope. He may be humanity’s last best chance to explain how the world unraveled—if he can survive the savage beauty of the Splinterlands.

Part of the Dispatch Books series

To Purchase:  Haymarket Books – 50% off Paperback and ebook | Amazon – 39% off Paperback


Reviews

“In a chilling, thoughtful, and intuitive warning, foreign policy analyst Feffer (Crusade 2.0) takes today’s woes of a politically fragmented, warming Earth and amplifies them into future catastrophe. Looking back from his hospital bed in 2050, octogenarian geo-paleontologist Julian West contemplates his fractured world and estranged family. West is writing the follow-up to his bestselling 2020 monograph, Splinterlands, in which he analyzes the disintegrated international community. By 2050, the refugee-saturated European Union has collapsed; the countries of Brazil, Russia, India, and China have splintered; and Washington, D.C., is gone, destroyed by Hurricane Donald in 2022. There are water wars, imitation foods made from seaweed, inequality, disease, and sleeper terrorists. On a virtual reality trip to make amends, West visits his children—professor Aurora in a deteriorating Brussels rampant with kidnappings; wealthy opportunist Gordon in Xinjiang, no longer part of China; and freedom fighter Benjamin in prosperous Botswana. His ex-wife, Rachel, lives in a commune in a snowless Vermont, now a farming paradise. Lending credibility to his predictions, Feffer includes footnotes from West’s editor written around 2058. This novel is not for the emotionally squeamish or optimistic; Feffer’s confident recitation of world collapse is terrifyingly plausible, a short but encompassing look at world tragedy. ”
Publisher Weekly, Starred Review

“Feffer’s book is a wild ride through a bleak future, casting a harsh, thought-provoking light on that future’s modern-day roots.”
—Foreword Reviews

“John Feffer is our 21st-century Jack London, and, like the latter’s Iron Heel, Splinterlands is a vivid, suspenseful warning about the ultimate incompatibility between capitalism and human survival.”
—Mike Davis

Splinterlands paints a startling portrait of a post-apocalyptic tomorrow that is fast becoming a reality today. Fast-paced, yet strangely haunting, Feffer’s latest novel looks back from 2050 on the disintegration of world order told through the story of one broken family– and offers a disturbing vision of what might await us all if we don’t act quickly.”
—Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickle and Dimed and Living with a Wild God, and founder of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project

“A chilling portrayal of where the politics of division could take us. Now I only hope he writes the sequel to tell us how to avoid it!”
—Naomi Oreskes, co-author of The Collapse of Western Civilization


About the Author

unnamed-2John Feffer is the director of Foreign Policy in Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies. In 2012–2013, he was also an Open Society Fellow looking at the transformations that have taken place in Eastern Europe since 1989. He is the author of several books and numerous articles. He has also produced six plays, including three one-man shows, and published a novel.

John Feffer’s Website |Facebook | Twitter

Book Review – Liberator (The Liberators Saga Book 1) by Nick Bailey and Darren Bullock

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Liberator (The Liberators Saga Book 1) by Nick Bailey and Darren Bullock is a fast-paced, high-action, thrilling Science Fiction novel. The premise of the book is that corporations have control of everything and they war among themselves to keep that control. Skye Pennington co-owns Pennington & Shaw, a small corporation linked with Orlanda Nixon’s NCT, Nixon Combined Technologies. They’ve been friends for a long time, back to their days as fighters in the now-defunct Liberators, an advanced technology military group. When Skye gets kidnapped by the Danar Corporation, the Liberators reform to save her. The hook for the sequel is encouraging too.

The battle scenes in this novel are some of the best I’ve ever read. Bailey and Bullock really put you in the middle of the scenes with their descriptive prose.You become one with the fighters. The scenes are hard-core action, generally resulting in bloody massacres. Orlanda Nixon is the most impressive fighter with her sentient armor and katana. She cuts right through the enemy in record time, leaving dead bodies in her wake. You will not be disappointed by these scenes.

This duo writing team also gives you a well-written plot. There are no plot holes, no vagueness, nor unexplored areas. They stick to the plot of the story throughout. Their descriptive settings allow you to envision exactly where you are at any given time in the story. I’ve read world creations in other science fiction novels that left me flat and confused because I couldn’t imagine the settings. That is not the case with this novel. And finally, their characters are well-rounded. You get to know each of the main characters well through the descriptive scenes and characterizations. Even minor characters are described well. You get the sense that this novel was planned out from beginning to end and nothing was left to chance.

My only issues with this novel are the over-use of adverbs and adjectives, and the occasional awkward sentences. Nearly all of the adverbs used in this novel could be eliminated. This is an editing issue. Bailey and Bullock overuse words like ‘excellent’, ‘elegant’ and ‘splendid’ to describe Orlanda’s movements and actions. The reader already understands that Orlanda is a mighty force because of her sentient armor and abilities with the katana. The use of those adjectives over-sensationalized her. Here are a couple of awkward sentences which could have been re-worded through a decent editing process:

From Chapter Five – Only the almost imperceptibly tiny vibrations of the blade gave away the fact that the weapon was imbued with a power field that delivered a cutting edge unattainable by mere honing alone.

From Chapter Six – Killion pulled Skye back from the corner with a shushing motion, his sense of duty to protect his charge overriding the fact he knew she was a competent soldier in her own right.

After a while, I stopped looking for obscure errors and just enjoyed the story. Here is one description though that delighted me: his nerves jangled like stones in a can.

Overall, this is an exciting novel. The authors did a wonderful job with the plot, battle scenes, settings and characterization. If you enjoy hard-core, fast-paced, military-style science fiction, then you will enjoy this novel.

Rating: 4 stars (for literary issues)

Genre: Science Fiction/Thriller

To Purchase: Amazon

A Free Book Promotion, plus Other Bits and Bobs…

A promotional for a free book. Writers helping Writers.
Comments are disabled. Please visit Sarah’s blog to comment. Thanks.

Sarah Potter Writes

Desiccation cover (small)From today until this Friday, 25th November, those of you in the US and the UK can download for free the kindle version of my YA crossover science fiction/urban fantasy novel, Desiccation [Universal short link: http://myBook.to/QuirkyLit ]. Sorry to disappoint any bloggers who live outside of the US or UK, but the logistics of creating a worldwide free book promotion are rather complicated and can go totally wrong. It involves authors going to their accounts at KDP on Amazon and individually adjusting the prices down to zero in the different marketplaces. I’ve heard that if you time this wrongly, you can mess up the promotion.

I know that a few of my fellow bloggers have already purchased either the kindle or paperback version of Desiccation. Please, if you enjoyed reading it, could you tell your friends about the free promo, as personal recommendation is still the best way to…

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Book Promotion – The Wrong Stuff by Guy Thair

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Book Description

Hannah Meredith has always had a good eye and she’s a veteran bargain hunter, but she isn’t prepared, when she buys the box marked “Stuff” at a mysterious auction, for her world to suddenly unravel into a series of increasingly bizarre and terrifying events.

Soon on the run from a sinister cabal of vengeful corporate villains and their homicidal henchmen, Hannah must foil an evil plan to bring the world to the brink of global economic collapse, all the while keeping one step ahead of her pursuers.

A fast-moving thriller with a sci-fi twist, the plot stretches from chases through grimy backstreets of Victorian London back to the present day, where sudden violence shatters the tranquility of the English countryside.

Following Hannah and her unlikely allies in their frantic attempt to stay alive and save the world from disaster, The Wrong Stuff is exciting and original, with more than a touch of black humour.

Where to Order: Amazon UK | Amazon US

Available soon on Kindle and via Barnes & Noble


Book Excerpt

Extract from chapter one: Part one – A new acquisition.

Ever since her husband had died five years before, leaving her a considerable but not exorbitant inheritance, Hannah Meredith had loved going to blind auctions, just the thought of digging through the piles of assorted junk and miscellany made her heart race. There was something almost magical about buying a mysterious, sealed box for a few quid and then tearing it open to see if there were unrecognised treasures inside.

It wasn’t usually the case of course, mostly you just found third-rate silverware or cracked and faded crockery, old electrical components and obscure mechanical spare parts or, if you were really lucky, maybe some half-decent antique jewellery or a not-totally-dreadful painting.

She was never going to make a living from her lucky-dip bidding, but Hannah wasn’t giving up hope just yet. The Big Score might be the very next lot that went under the hammer, then how bad would she feel?

No, she felt perfectly justified in spending a hundred pounds or so every couple of months, it was hardly an extravagance after all, and she sold most of the items she had no use for online and at the garage sales she held twice a year, to make way for new purchases.

The latest Aladdin’s cave of dubious delights was an auction that had only recently opened in the upstairs room of a pub in a nearby village. She had already been to three others this month, (usually her limit) so she initially resisted the temptation, but the closer the time came to the sale, the greater the feeling grew that she would be missing out on something special.

By the time auction day arrived, there was no question of her not going, so convinced was she that her fortune awaited her, under the taped-down flaps of some anonymous cardboard box.

Hannah arrived early at the pub; a quaint, low-ceilinged place with a roaring fire in the hearth and walls covered in hunting paraphernalia and old black and white photographs of country life in days gone by. She bought herself a drink and wandered around the two small bars, inspecting the memorabilia of a community that had probably not changed all that much in two hundred years.

After a while she noticed people beginning to arrive and head for the stairs in the back corner of the pub, so she drifted over that way until she could hear muted conversations in the room on the floor above…

“…some interesting items…”

“…going to raise serious money with those…”

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen one as fine as this…”

Hannah casually strolled over to the bar, finished her drink and placed the empty glass on the oak counter, then turned and followed two more new arrivals up the stairs.

The atmosphere in the large open room was a strange mix of restrained excitement and almost spiritual reverence; voices barely raised above a whisper, small groups of people gathered in tight circles around the half a dozen tables that were the room’s only furniture.

Nobody even registered Hannah’s existence, let alone approached or spoke to her, so she made for the largest, least crowded table in the centre of the room, which seemed to attract only the merest glance from most of the punters as they drifted around, eyeing the sale items and whispering to each other.

“Oh, this is more like it,” Hannah thought as she saw the battered selection of boxes on the table, with things like Bureau, Misc and Basement written on them in marker pen, “there might be some surprises in those.”

Then she saw the box she immediately, shockingly knew with absolute certainty she was going to buy.

It was a medium sized box, the cardboard visibly older than most of the other boxes Hannah could see, but otherwise not remarkable in any way.


About the Author

img_26116834684271-picsayI live in Devon with my wife and daughter and have been writing short stories on my blog for the last couple of years. I use writing prompts from other bloggers to inspire me and, in November of 2015, I began a story based on the single word, “Stuff”.

After reaching the end of the initial post I thought the story was worth continuing, so I decided to use each subsequent prompt to write a new chapter, until to my surprise I had written the book you now hold in your hand.

It may be an unconventional method of composition, but it seems to suit my writing style and I hope you enjoy reading my “accidental novel” as much as I did writing it.

Guy Thair, 15/10/16

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