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On the Road: Tor/Forge Author Events for August

Eterna and Omega by Leanna Renee Hieber Repo Madness by W. Bruce Cameron Arabella of Mars by David D. Levine

Tor/Forge authors are on the road in August! See who is coming to a city near you this month.

Levi Black, Red Right Hand

Wednesday, August 3
Orlando Public Library
Orlando, FL
6:30 PM

Robert Brockway, The Empty Ones

Tuesday, August 30
Powell’s City of Books
Portland, OR
7:00 PM

W. Bruce Cameron, Repo Madness

Tuesday, August 23
Grand Rapids Public Library
Grand Rapids, MI
7:00 PM

Thursday, August 25
Darcy Library of Beulah
Beaulah, MI
7:00 PM

Saturday, August 27
Saturn Booksellers
Gaylord, MI
11:30 AM

Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston, The Swarm

Friday, August 5
Barnes & Noble
Orem, UT
7:00 PM

S. B. Divya, Runtime and Greg Van Eekhout, Pacific Fire

Saturday, August 6
Mysterious Galaxy
San Diego, CA
2:00 PM

Leanna Renee Hieber, Eterna and Omega

Tuesday, August 9
Barnes & Noble
West Chester, OH
7:00 PM

Thursday, August 11
Morris-Jumel Museum
New York, NY
7:00 PM

Wednesday, August 17
KGB Bar
New York, NY
7:00 PM

Mary Robinette Kowal, Ghost Talkers

Tuesday, August 16
Volumes Bookcafe
Book Launch Party
Chicago, IL
7:00 PM

Wednesday, August 31
Boswell Book Company
Milwaukee, WI
7:00 PM
Also with Ada Palmer, Too Like the Lightning

David D. Levine, Arabella of Mars

Saturday, August 13
Writers with Drinks
San Francisco, CA
7:30 PM

Sunday, August 14
American Bookbinders Museum
SF in SF
San Francisco, CA
6:30 PM
Also with Cecil Castellucci and Ben Loory

Tuesday, August 30
SFWA Reading
Wilde Rover Irish Pub and Restaurant
Also with Sandra Odell and Django Wexler
Seattle, WA
7:00 PM

Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Hex

Monday, August 1
Quail Ridge Books & Music
Raleigh, NC
7:00 PM

Malka Older, Infomocracy

Thursday, August 4
Internal Matter
Books provided by Brookline Booksmith
Also with Liz Hauck, Caitlin FitzGerald, and Allana Tarnto
Boston, MA
6:30 PM

Wendy N. Wagner, Pathfinder Tales: Starspawn

Tuesday, August 16
Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing
Beaverton, OR
7:00 PM

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New Releases: 7/12/16

Here’s what went on sale today!

Arabella of Mars by David D. Levine

Arabella of Mars by David D. Levine When William III of England commissioned Capt. William Kidd to command the first expedition to Mars in the late 1600s, he proved that space travel was both possible and profitable. Now, one century later, a plantation in a flourishing British colony on Mars is home to Arabella Ashby, a young woman who is perfectly content growing up in the untamed frontier. But days spent working on complex automata with her father or stalking her brother Michael with her Martian nanny is not the proper behavior of an English lady. That is something her mother plans to remedy with a move to an exotic world Arabella has never seen: London, England.

However, when events transpire that threaten her home on Mars, Arabella decides that sometimes doing the right thing is far more important than behaving as expected. She disguises herself as a boy and joins the crew of the Diana. Now Arabella just has to weather the naval war currently raging between Britain and France, learn how to sail, and deal with a mutinous crew…if she hopes to save her family remaining on Mars.

Clear to Lift by Anne A. Wilson

Clear to Lift by Anne A. Wilson Navy helicopter pilot Lt. Alison Malone has been assigned to a search and rescue team based at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada, near the rugged peaks of the Sierra Nevada, and far from her former elite H-60 squadron. Alison is desperate to be transferred out of the boonies, where careers stagnate, and back to her life and fiancé in San Diego. Alison’s defenses start to slip when she meets mountain guide Will Cavanaugh during a particularly dicey mission. Will introduces her to a wild, beautiful world of adventure that she has never known before. Stranded on a mountain during a sudden dangerous blizzard, Alison questions every truth she thought she knew about herself. When Will braves the storm to save her life, she must confront the fact that she has been living a lie. But is it too late to change course?

The Monster War by Alan Gratz

The Monster War by Alan GratzThe Monster War is the third book in the action-packed, steampunk League of Seven series by acclaimed author Alan Gratz. Having discovered the monstrous secret of his origins, Archie Dent is no longer certain that he is worthy to be a member of the League of Seven. But with new enemies to face, he realizes that he may not have the luxury of questioning his destiny. Wielding the Dragon Lantern, the maniacal Philomena Moffett has turned her back on the Septemberist Society, creating her own Shadow League and unleashing a monster army on the American continent. Archie and his friends must race to find the last two members of their league in time to thwart Moffett’s plan and rescue humanity once more.

Necessity by Jo Walton

Necessity by Jo WaltonMore than sixty-five years ago, Pallas Athena founded the Just City on an island in the eastern Mediterranean, placing it centuries before the Trojan WarAmong the City’s children was Pytheas, secretly the god Apollo in human form. Sixty years ago, the Just City schismed into five cities, each devoted to a different version of the original vision. Forty years ago, the five cities managed to bring their squabbles to a close. But in consequence of their struggle, their existence finally came to the attention of Zeus, who can’t allow them to remain in deep antiquity, changing the course of human history. Convinced by Apollo to spare the Cities, Zeus instead moved everything on the island to the planet Plato, circling its own distant sun. Now, more than a generation has passed.

The Cities are flourishing on Plato, and even trading with multiple alien species. Then, on the same day, two things happen. Pytheas dies as a human, returning immediately as Apollo in his full glory. And there’s suddenly a human ship in orbit around Plato–a ship from Earth.

Rebellion by J. A. Souders

Rebellion by J. A. SoudersIn this conclusion to J. A. Souders’s thrilling, twist-filled Elysium Chronicles series, Evie Winters and Gavin Hunter return to the isolated, dangerous underwater city that they fought so hard to escape. Back in Elysium at last, Evie has finally found her true self hidden under layers and layers of false memories implanted by the woman she knew as Mother. Thanks to the intervention of her father, she knows the horrible truth about Mother and her insidious plans for the city. With the help of the love of her life, Gavin, and her best friend, Asher St. James, Evie is determined to free her people from the cruel dictatorship of Mother’s laws. But how do you free people who don’t know they need rescuing?

The Stars Askew by Rjurik Davidson

The Stars Askew by Rjurik DavidsonThe Stars Askew is the highly anticipated sequel to the New Weird adventure begun by talented young author Rjurik Davidson. With the seditionists in power, Caeli-Amur has begun a new age. Or has it? The escaped House officials no longer send food, and the city is starving. When the moderate leader Aceline is murdered, the trail leads Kata to a mysterious book that explains how to control the fabled Prism of Alerion. But when the last person to possess the book is found dead, it becomes clear that a conspiracy is afoot. At its center is former House Officiate Armand, who has hidden the Prism. Meanwhile, Maximilian is sharing his mind with another being: the joker-god Aya.

It seems the seditionists’ hopes for a new age of peace and prosperity in Caeli-Amur have come to naught, and every attempt to improve the situation makes it worse. The question now is not just whether Kata, Max, and Armand can do anything to stop the bloody battle in the city, but if they can escape with their lives.

Time Siege by Wesley Chu

Time Siege by Wesley ChuHaving been haunted by the past and enslaved by the present, James Griffin-Mars is taking control of the future. Earth is a toxic, sparsely inhabited wasteland–the perfect hiding place for a fugitive ex-chronman to hide from the authorities. James has allies, scientists he rescued from previous centuries, as well as the Elfreth, a population of downtrodden humans who want desperately to believe that James and his friends will heal their ailing home world. James also has enemies. They include the full military might of benighted solar system ruled by corporate greed and a desperate fear of what James will do next. At the forefront of their efforts to stop him is Kuo, the ruthless security head, who wants James’s head on a pike and will stop at nothing to obtain it.

NEW FROM TOR.COM:

The Ghoul King by Guy Haley

The Ghoul King by Guy HaleyQuinn returns in The Ghoul King, another story of the Dreaming Cities by Guy Haley. The Knight, Quinn, is down on his luck, and he travels to the very edge of the civilized world – whatever that means, any more – to restock his small but essential inventory. After fighting a series of gladiatorial bouts against the dead, he finds himself in the employ of a woman on a quest to find the secret to repairing her semi-functional robot. But the technological secret it guards may be one truth too many…

NOW IN PAPERBACK:

The Iron Assassin by Ed Greenwood

The Nightmare Charade by Mindee Arnett

Revelations by J. A. Souders

NEW IN MANGA:

Magical Girl Apocalypse Vol. 8 by Kentaro Sato

Monster Musume: I Heart Monster Girls Vol. 2 by OKAYADO

Pandora in the Crimson Shell: Ghost Urn Vol. 5 by Masamune Shirow

See upcoming releases.

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Interplanetary Airfaring Technology of the Nineteenth Century

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Arabella of Mars by David D. LevineWritten by David D. Levine

My novel, Arabella of Mars, takes place in an alternate 1814 in which the solar system is full of air and you can travel to other planets by sailing ship. How could this possibly work? I spent a lot of time during the development of the book working out how interplanetary travel might be accomplished using the technology of the Napoleonic Wars.

The first challenge is getting into orbit from the Earth’s surface. Given that the atmosphere extends into space, you can do this with a hot-air balloon—but, without propane or similar high-energy-density fuels, it would be difficult to carry enough fuel. I worked around this by giving the ship a boost of exceptionally hot air from ground-based furnaces, which is then kept warm with coal for the rest of the ascent. Eventually you reach orbit, where you are in a state of “free descent,” and you can deflate and fold the balloon envelopes.

Once you’re in orbit, how do you navigate? Despite pictures you may have seen of fanciful 19th-century airships, there’s no point in putting sails on a lighter-than-air craft. A balloon is, in effect, a giant sail already: it moves with the wind. Adding more sails doesn’t change that appreciably, nor would sails allow you to change course or speed. The only reason a sailing ship of the sea can travel in a direction other than with the wind is that it has a keel, embedded in a different medium.

Furthermore, if space is full of air, there would be a general flow of wind due to the Earth’s motion around the sun… and when I say “general flow of wind” I mean a planet-scouring gale, because the Earth’s orbital speed is 67,062 miles per hour. To avoid this, Mary Robinette Kowal suggested that the interplanetary atmosphere (which she called the “cosmic tide”) moves around the sun at the same speed as the planets, while each planet’s atmosphere moves at the planet’s own rotational speed. This implies some really complex and nasty weather where the two atmospheres grind against each other, an area which I eventually named “the Horn.”

After considerable thought and discussion with like-minded geeks, I decided that the complexity of the weather at the Horn was the key to navigation. Once in this zone of chaotic winds, you simply find an air current that is going in the direction you want and put yourself into it. To move the ship from one current to another I invented “propulsive sails,” or “pulsers”—a pusher propeller of wood and canvas, built like a Greek windmill, driven by the crew using bicycle-like pedals. In this world you can always tell an aerial sailor by his enormous calves and thighs.

So once you are in orbit, you strike all sails to reduce air resistance (except for the fore-and-aft sails—spinnakers and spankers—which are used for steering and to keep the ship from spinning counter to the rotating pulsers), pedal into a favorable air current, then set all sails to catch that wind. Then you can simply drift with the current until the next course change.

Of course, when you are floating in midair in free fall, you have the problem of figuring out where you are and how to get where you are going…but that’s a topic for another essay.

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Follow David D. Levine on Twitter, on Facebook, and on his website.

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On the Road: Tor/Forge Author Events for July

Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt Arabella of Mars BY David D. Levine Clear to Lift by Anne A. Wilson

Tor/Forge authors are on the road in July! See who is coming to a city near you this month.

Levi Black, Red Right Hand

Wednesday, July 27
Eagle Eye Books
Decatur, GA
7:00 PM

Max Gladstone, Four Roads Cross

Wednesday, July 27
Porter Square Books
Cambridge, MA
7:00 PM
Also with Malka Older.

Neal Griffin, A Voice from the Field

Thursday, July 21
Barr Memorial Library
Fort Knox, KY
12:00 PM

Thursday, July 28
Book Passage
Corte Madera, CA
10:00 AM

Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Hex

Monday, July 11
Brookline Booksmith
Brookline, MA
7:00 PM
Also with Joe Hill and Paul Tremblay.

Tuesday, July 12
Bear Pond Books
Montpelier, VT
7:00 PM
Also with Paul Tremblay, Kristin Dearborn, and Daniel Mills.

Wednesday, July 13
University Bookstore
Seattle, WA
7:00 PM

Friday, July 15
Old Firehouse Books
Fort Collins, CO
6:00 PM
Also with Stephen Graham Jones.

Sunday, July 17
American Bookbinders Museum
San Francisco, CA
6:30 PM
SF in SF – also with Richard Kadrey.

Tuesday, July 19
Dark Delicacies
Burbank, CA
7:00 PM

Wednesday, July 27
Eagle Eye Books
Decatur, GA
7:00 PM
Also with Levi Black.

Saturday, July 30
Malaprops
Asheville, NC
5:00 PM
Also with Jeff VanderMeer.

Jon Land, Strong Light of Day

Tuesday, July 19
Perks & Corks
Hosted by Savoy Bookshop and Café
Westerly, RI
7:00 PM
In conversation with Avram Noble Ludwig.

David D. Levine, Arabella of Mars

Wednesday, July 13
Powell’s Books
Beaverton, OR
7:00 PM

Friday, July 15
Mysterious Galaxy
San Diego, CA
7:30 PM

Saturday, July 16
Bearded Lady’s Mystic Museum 
Hosted by Shades & Shadows.
Burbank, CA
8:00 PM

Wednesday, July 20
KGB Bar
New York, NY
7:00 PM
Also with Helen Marshall.

Thursday, July 28
Eagle Harbor Book Co
Bainbridge Island, WA
7:30 PM

Friday, July 29
University Bookstore
Seattle, WA
7:00 PM

Avram Noble Ludwig, Shooting the Sphinx

Tuesday, June 28
Barnes & Noble
New York, NY
7:00 PM

Tuesday, July 19
Perks & Corks
Hosted by Savoy Bookshop and Café
Westerly, RI
7:00 PM
In conversation with Jon Land.

Malka Older, Infomocracy

Wednesday, July 27
Porter Square Books
Cambridge, MA
7:30 PM
In conversation with Max Gladstone.

Ada Palmer, Too Like the Lightning

Monday, July 11
RiverRun Bookstore
Portsmouth, NH
7:00 PM
Also with Jo Walton.

Tuesday, July 12
Harvard Book Store
Cambridge, MA
7:00 PM
Also with Jo Walton.

Wednesday, July 13
WORD Bookstore
Brooklyn, NY
7:00 PM
Also with Jo Walton.

Ralph Peters, The Damned of Petersburg

Saturday, July 9, 2016
Barnes & Noble
Alexandria, VA
3:00 PM

Tuesday, July 12
E. Shaver Booksellers
Savannah, GA
5:00 PM

Wednesday, July 13
Magnolia Hall
Bluffton, SC
6:30 PM

Sunday, July 31
Southampton Books
Southampton, NY
5:00 PM

Katie Schickel, The Mermaid’s Secret

Thursday, July 7
BookTowne
Manasquan, NJ
6:30 PM

Jo Walton, Necessity

Monday, July 11
RiverRun Bookstore
Portsmouth, NH
7:00 PM
Also with Ada Palmer.

Tuesday, July 12
Harvard Book Store
Cambridge, MA
7:00 PM
Also with Ada Palmer.

Wednesday, July 13
WORD Bookstore
Brooklyn, NY
7:00 PM
Also with Ada Palmer.

Anne A. Wilson, Clear to Lift

Tuesday, July 12
Poisoned Pen
Scottsdale, AZ
7:00 PM

Thursday, July 14
Barnes & Noble
Scottsdale, AZ
7:00 PM

Saturday, July 16
Bookworks
Albuquerque, NM
3:00 PM

Tuesday, July 19
Warwick’s Books
San Diego, CA
7:30 PM

Wednesday, July 20
Book Carnival
Orange, CA
7:30 PM

F. Paul Wilson, Panacea

Monday, July 11
Poisoned Pen
Scottsdale, AZ
7:00 PM

Tuesday, July 12
Dark Delicacies
Burbank, CA
7:00 PM

Thursday, July 14
Norcross Cultural Arts Center
Hosted by the Gwinnett County Public Library. Books provided by Eagle Eye Books.
Norcross, GA
7:30 PM

Thursday, July 21
BookTowne
Manasquan, NJ
6:00 PM

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Sneak Peek: Arabella of Mars by David D. Levine

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Arabella of Mars by David D. LevineSince Newton witnessed a bubble rising from his bathtub, mankind has sought the stars. When William III of England commissioned Capt. William Kidd to command the first expedition to Mars in the late 1600s, he proved that space travel was both possible and profitable.

Now, one century later, a plantation in a flourishing British colony on Mars is home to Arabella Ashby, a young woman who is perfectly content growing up in the untamed frontier. But days spent working on complex automata with her father or stalking her brother Michael with her Martian nanny is not the proper behavior of an English lady. That is something her mother plans to remedy with a move to an exotic world Arabella has never seen: London, England.

However, when events transpire that threaten her home on Mars, Arabella decides that sometimes doing the right thing is far more important than behaving as expected. She disguises herself as a boy and joins the crew of theDiana, a ship serving the Mars Trading Company, where she meets a mysterious captain who is intrigued by her knack with clockwork creations. Now Arabella just has to weather the naval war currently raging between Britain and France, learn how to sail, and deal with a mutinous crew…if she hopes to save her family remaining on Mars.

Arabella of Mars will be available July 12th. Please enjoy this excerpt.

1

AN UNEXPECTED LETTER

Arabella eased her bedroom door open and crept into the dark hallway. All about her the house lay silent, servants and masters alike tucked safe in their beds. Only the gentle tick of the tall clock in the parlor disturbed the night.

Shielding the candle with one hand, Arabella slipped down the hallway, her bare feet making no sound on the cool boards. She kept close to the walls, where the floor was best supported and the boards did not creak, but now and again she took a long, slow step to avoid a spot she had learned was likely to squeak.

Down the stairs and across the width of the house she crept, until she reached the drawing-room. In the corner farthest from the fireplace stood the harpsichord, and the silent figure that sat at its keyboard.

Brenchley’s Automaton Harpsichord Player.

Nearly life-sized and dressed in the height of fashion from eight years ago, when it had originally been manufactured, the automaton sat with jointed ivory fingers poised over the instrument’s keys. Its face was finely crafted of smooth, polished birch for a lifelike appearance, the eyes with their painted lashes demurely downcast. A little dust had accumulated in its décolletage, but in the shifting light of Arabella’s little candle it almost seemed to be breathing.

Arabella had always been the only person in the family who shared her father’s passion for automata. The many hours they had spent together in the drawing-room of the manor house at Woodthrush Woods, winding and oiling and polishing his collection, were among her most treasured memories. He had even shared with her his knowledge of the machines’ workings, though Mother had heartily disapproved of such an unladylike pursuit.

The harpsichord player had arrived at Marlowe Hall, their residence in England, not long after they had emigrated—or, as Arabella considered it, been exiled—from Mars. It had been accompanied by a note from Father, reminding them that it was one of his most beloved possessions and saying that he hoped it would provide pleasant entertainment. But Arabella, knowing that Father understood as well as she did how little interest the rest of the family had in automata, had taken it as a sort of peace offering, or apology, from him specifically to her—a moving, nearly living representative and reminder that, although unimaginably distant, he still loved her.

But, alas, all his great expense and careful packing had gone for naught, for when it had been uncrated it refused to play a note. Mother, never well-disposed toward her husband’s expensive pastime, had been none too secretly relieved.

That had been nearly eight months ago. Eight months of frilly dresses and stultifying conversation, and unceasing oppressive damp, and more than any thing else the constant inescapable heaviness. Upon first arriving on Earth, to her shame Arabella had found herself so unaccustomed to the planet’s gravity that she had no alternative but to be carried from the ship in a sedan-chair. She had barely been able to stand for weeks, and even now she felt heavy, awkward, and clumsy, distrustful of her body and of her instincts. Plates and pitchers seemed always to crash to the floor in her vicinity, and even the simple act of throwing and catching a ball was beyond her.

Not that she was allowed to perform any sort of bodily activity whatsoever, other than walking and occasionally dancing. Every one on Earth, it seemed, shared Mother’s attitudes concerning the proper behavior of an English lady, and the slightest display of audacity, curiosity, adventure, or initiative was met with severe disapproval. So she had been reduced, even as she had on Mars, to skulking about by night—but here she lacked the companionship of Michael and Khema.

On Mars, Michael, her elder and only brother, had been her constant companion, studying with her by day and racing her across the dunes by night. And Khema, their Martian nanny or itkhalya, had been to the two of them nurse, protector, and tutor in all things Martian. How she missed them both.

Setting her candle down, Arabella seated herself on the floor behind the automaton and lifted its skirts, in a fashion that would have been most improper if it were human. Beneath the suffocating layers of muslin and linen the automaton’s ingenious mechanisms gleamed in the candlelight, brass and ivory and mahogany each adding their own colors to a silent symphony of light and shadow. Here was the mainspring, there the escapement, there the drum. The drum was the key to the whole mechanism; its pins and flanges told the device where to place its fingers, when to nod, when to appear to breathe. From the drum, dozens of brass fingers transmitted instructions to the rest of the device through a series of levers, rods, springs, and wires.

Arabella breathed in the familiar scents of metal, whale-oil, and beeswax before proceeding. She had begun attempting to repair the device about two months ago, carefully concealing her work from her mother, the servants, and even her sisters. She had investigated its mysteries, puzzled out its workings, and finally found the displaced cog that had stilled the mechanism. But having solved that puzzle, Arabella had continued working with the machine, and in the last few weeks she had even begun making a few cautious modifications. The pins in the drum could be unscrewed, she had learned, and placed in new locations to change the automaton’s behavior.

At the moment her project was to teach it to play “God Save the King,” as the poor mad fellow could certainly use the Lord’s help. She had the first few measures working nearly to her satisfaction and was just about to start on “Send him victorious.” Laying the folded hearth-rug atop the harpsichord’s strings to muffle the sound, she wound the automaton’s mainspring and began to work, using a nail-file, cuticle-knife, and tweezers to reposition the delicate pins.

She was not concerned that her modifications might be discovered between her working sessions. It was only out of deference to Mr. Ashby, the absent paterfamilias, that her mother even allowed it to remain in the drawing-room. The servants found the device disquieting and refused to do more than dust it occasionally. And as for Fanny and Chloë, Arabella’s sisters were both too young to be allowed to touch the delicate mechanism.

For many pleasant hours Arabella worked, repeatedly making small changes, rolling the drum back with her hand, then letting it play. She would not be satisfied with a mere music-box rendition of the tune; she wanted a performance, with all the life and spirit of a human player. And so she adjusted the movements of the automaton’s body, the tilt of its head, and the subtle motions of its pretended breath as well as the precise timing and rhythm of its notes.

She would pay for her indulgence on the morrow, when her French tutor would stamp his cane each time she yawned—though even when well-slept, she gave him less heed than he felt he deserved. Why bother studying French? England had been at war with Bonaparte since Arabella was a little girl, and showed no sign of ever ceasing to do so.

But for now none of that was of any consequence.

When she worked on the automaton, she felt close to her father.

 

The sky was already lightening in the east, and a few birds were beginning to greet the sun with their chirruping song, as Arabella heaved the hearth-rug out of the harpsichord and spread it back in its accustomed place. Perhaps some day she would have an opportunity to hear the automaton perform without its heavy, muting encumbrance.

She looked around, inspecting the drawing-room with a critical eye. Had she left any thing out of place? No, she had not. With a satisfied nod she turned and began to make her way back to her bedroom.

But before she even reached the stairs, her ear was caught by a drumming sound from without.

Hoofbeats. The sound of a single horse, running hard. Approaching rapidly.

Who could possibly be out riding at this hour?

Quickly extinguishing the candle, Arabella scurried up the stairs in the dawn light and hid herself in the shadows at the top of the steps. Shortly thereafter, a fist hammered on the front door. Arabella peered down through the banister at the front door, consumed with curiosity.

Only a few moments passed before Cole, the butler, came to open the door. He, too, must have heard the rider’s hoofbeats.

The man at the door was a post-rider, red-eyed and filthy with dust. From his leather satchel he drew out a thin letter, a single sheet, much travel-worn and bearing numerous post-marks.

It was heavily bordered in black. Arabella suppressed a gasp.

A black-bordered letter meant death, and was sadly familiar. Even in the comparatively short space of time since her arrival on Earth, no fewer than five such letters had arrived in this small community, each bearing news of the loss of a brother or father or uncle to Bonaparte’s monstrous greed. But Arabella had no relatives in the army or navy, and had no expectation of her family receiving such a letter.

“Three pounds five shillings sixpence,” the post-rider said, dipping his head in acknowledgement of the outrageousness of the postage. “It’s an express, all the way from Mars.”

At that Arabella was forced to bite her knuckle to prevent herself from crying aloud.

Shaking his head, Cole placed the letter on a silver tray and directed the rider to the servants’ quarters, where he would receive his payment and some refreshment before being sent on his way. As Cole began to climb the stairs Arabella scurried back to her room, her heart pounding.

 

Arabella paced in her bedroom, sick with worry. Her hands worked at her handkerchief as she went, twisting and straining the delicate fabric until it threatened to tear asunder.

A black-bordered letter. An express. No one would send such dire news by such an expensive means unless it concerned a member of the family. She forced herself to hope that it might be an error, or news of some distant relative of whose existence she had not even been aware … but as the silence went on and on, that hope diminished swiftly.

Who was it who had passed? Father, or Michael? Which would be worse? She loved them both so dearly. Michael and she were practically twins, and he had many more years ahead of him, so his loss would surely be the greater tragedy. But Father … the man who had shared with her his love of automata, who had sat her on his knee and taught her the names of the stars, who had quietly encouraged her to dare, to try, to risk, despite Mother’s objections … to lose him would be terrible, terrible indeed.

Every fiber of her being insisted that she run to her mother’s room, burst through the door, and demand an answer. But that would be unladylike, and, as Mother had repeatedly admonished, unladylike behavior was entirely unacceptable under even the most pressing circumstances. And so she paced, and pulled her handkerchief to shreds, and tried not to cry.

And then, startling though not a surprise, a knock came on the door. It was Nellie, her mother’s handmaid. “Mrs. Ashby requests your presence, Miss Ashby.”

“Thank you, Nellie.”

Trembling, Arabella followed Nellie to her mother’s dressing-room, where Fanny and Chloë, already present, were gathered in a miserable huddle with their mother. The black-bordered letter lay open on her mother’s writing-desk, surrounded by the scattered fragments of the seal, which was of black wax.

Arabella stood rooted, just inside the door, her eyes darting from the letter to her mother and sisters. It was as though it were a lukhosh, or some other dreadful poisonous creature, that had already struck them down and was now lying in wait for her. She wondered whether she was expected to pick it up and read it.

She ached to know what the letter contained. She wanted nothing more than to flee the room.

Nellie cleared her throat. “Ma’am?” Mother raised her head, her eyes flowing with tears. Noticing Arabella, she gently patted the settee by her side. The girls shifted to make room for her.

Arabella sat. Each of her sisters clutched one of her hands, offering comfort despite their own misery.

“The news is … it is … it is Mr. Ashby,” Mother said. She held her head up straight, though her chin trembled. “Your father has passed on.”

“Father…?” Arabella whispered.

And even though the distance between planets was so unimaginably vast … even though the news must be months old … even though it had been over eight months since she had seen him with her own eyes … somehow, some intangible connection had still remained between her and her father, and at that moment she felt that connection part, tearing like rotted silk.

And she too collapsed in sobs.

Copyright © 2016 by David D. Levine

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Book Trailer: Arabella of Mars by David D. Levine

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About Arabella of Mars: Since Newton witnessed a bubble rising from his bathtub, mankind has sought the stars. When William III of England commissioned Capt. William Kidd to command the first expedition to Mars in the late 1600s, he proved that space travel was both possible and profitable.

Now, one century later, a plantation in a flourishing British colony on Mars is home to Arabella Ashby, a young woman who is perfectly content growing up in the untamed frontier. But days spent working on complex automata with her father or stalking her brother Michael with her Martian nanny is not the proper behavior of an English lady. That is something her mother plans to remedy with a move to an exotic world Arabella has never seen: London, England.

However, when events transpire that threaten her home on Mars, Arabella decides that sometimes doing the right thing is far more important than behaving as expected. She disguises herself as a boy and joins the crew of the Diana, a ship serving the Mars Trading Company, where she meets a mysterious captain who is intrigued by her knack with clockwork creations. Now Arabella just has to weather the naval war currently raging between Britain and France, learn how to sail, and deal with a mutinous crew…if she hopes to save her family remaining on Mars.

Arabella of Mars, the debut novel by Hugo-winning author David D. Levine offers adventure, romance, political intrigue, and Napoleon in space!

Arabella of Mars comes out July 12th. Pre-order it today:

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