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$2.99 eBook Sale: July 2021

Summer is finally here and you know what that means…SUMMER SALES! Check out what books you can grab for the entire month of July here!

Place holder  of - 48Deal with the Devil by Kit Rocha

Nina is an information broker with a mission—she and her team of mercenary librarians use their knowledge to save the hopeless in a crumbling America. Knox is the bitter, battle-weary captain of the Silver Devils. His squad of supersoldiers went AWOL to avoid slaughtering innocents, and now he’s fighting to survive. They’re on a deadly collision course, and the passion that flares between them only makes it more dangerous. They could burn down the world, destroying each other in the process…Or they could do the impossible: team up.

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Image Placeholder of - 22Sorcery of a Queen by Brian Naslund

Driven from her kingdom, the would-be queen now seeks haven in the land of her mother, but Ashlyn will not stop until justice has been done. Determined to unlock the secret of powers long thought impossible, Ashlyn bends her will and intelligence to mastering the one thing people always accused her of, sorcery. Meanwhile, having learned the truth of his mutation, Bershad is a man on borrowed time. Never knowing when his healing powers will drive him to a self-destruction, he is determined to see Ashlyn restored to her throne and the creatures they both love safe.

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Poster Placeholder of - 24Venus by Ben Bova

The surface of Venus is the most hellish place in the solar system. The sky is perpetually covered with clouds of sulfuric acid. The atmosphere is a choking mixture of carbon dioxide and poisonous gases. This is where Van Humphries must go. Or die trying. His older brother perished in the first attempt to land a man on Venus, years before, and his father had always hated Van for surviving when his brother died. Now his father is offering a ten billion dollar prize to the first person to land on Venus and return his oldest son’s remains. To everyone’s surprise, Van takes up the offer. But what Van Humphries will find on Venus will change everything–our understanding of Venus, of global warming on Earth, and his knowledge of who he is.

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Image Place holder  of - 51The Nightjar by Deborah Hewitt

Alice Wyndham has been plagued by visions of birds her whole life…until the mysterious Crowley reveals that Alice is an ‘aviarist’: capable of seeing nightjars, magical birds that guard human souls. When her best friend is hit by a car, only Alice can find and save her nightjar. With Crowley’s help, Alice travels to the Rookery, a hidden, magical alternate London to hone her newfound talents. But a faction intent on annihilating magic users will stop at nothing to destroy the new aviarist. And is Crowley really working with her, or against her? Alice must risk everything to save her best friend—and uncover the strange truth about herself.

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Excerpt: Neptune by Ben Bova

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Poster Placeholder of - 36Hugo Award winner Ben Bova continues his grand tour of the human settled solar system with a fan-pleasing look at life in the Outer Planets, among the moons of Neptune.

In the future, humanity has spread throughout the solar system, on planets and moons once visited only by robots or explored at a distance by far-voyaging spacecraft. No matter how hostile or welcoming the environment, mankind has forged a path and found a home.

In the far reaches of the solar system, the outer planets—billions of miles from Earth, unknown for millennia—are being settled. Neptune, the ice giant, is swathed in clouds of hydrogen, helium, and methane and circled by rings of rock and dust. Three years ago, Ilona Magyr’s father, Miklos, disappeared while exploring the seas of Neptune. Everyone believes he is dead—crushed, frozen, or boiled alive in Neptune’s turbulent seas.

With legendary space explorer Derek Humbolt piloting her ship and planetary scientist Jan Meitner guiding the search, Ilona Magyr knows she will find her father—alive—on Neptune.

Her plans are irrevocably altered when she and her team discover the wreckage of an alien ship deep in Neptune’s ocean, a discovery which changes humanity’s understanding of its future…and its past.

Please enjoy this free excerpt of Neptune by Ben Bova, on sale 08/17/2021. 


Budaörs, Hungary

On a very clear day from the top floor of the unfinished glass-walled tower you could see the dark smudge on the northwestern horizon that marked the capital, Budapest.

Even in its incomplete state the tower was of course the tallest building in the city of Budaörs, a slim, soaring monument to the pride and wealth of Baron Miklos Magyr, the richest man in the city, in all of Hungary, in the whole of southeastern Europe.

For slightly more than three years the glittering entrance to the incomplete Magyr Tower  had been draped in black, mourning for the baron’s death in the dark, ice-clad ocean that encompasses the distant world of Neptune.

The baron’s daughter, Ilona, kept the funeral drapery in place, driven by grief and the prideful stubbornness that was a hallmark of the ancient Magyr family, whose ancestry could be traced back to those medieval days when the Hungarians were nomadic invaders of Europe galloping out of the endless wastes of the east, fierce and merciless. And clever. In time they settled in the fertile valley of the Danube, adopted Christianity, and became a powerful defender of the land against the new tribes of would-be invaders pouring in from the West.

Sitting alone in Castle Magyr’s spacious dining hall, the remains of her breakfast nothing more than crumbs scattered across her dishes, Ilona Magyr gazed at the portraits lining the walls around her. Her ancestors gazed down at her, proud, imperious, self-satisfied.

Ilona thought for the thousandth time that she should commission a portrait of her father. She would have it hung at the head of the hall, above the seat she occupied. But she shook her head. No, that would be admitting that he is dead. I can’t do that.

The chief butler, Ghulam, approached her as silently as a wraith.

“The children are waiting in the gymnasium,” he said in a near whisper.

Ilona looked up into the butler’s expressionless face. Ghulam was like the furniture that surrounded her, as much a part of the castle as its foundation stones. He was almost as tall as Ilona herself, but thickset, dark of complexion, his black hair cut in a bowl that framed his impassive face. He had been a member of the castle’s staff since Ilona had been a baby, as were his father and his father’s father.

“I’ll be there directly,” Ilona said, pushing her chair back. Ghulam guided the chair away from the table as Ilona got to her feet.

She was strikingly tall, slim, her bony long-jawed face far from beautiful but intelligent, purposeful, with a drive and a temper that matched her long, flowing red hair. She knew that her jaw was too strong for the rest of her face: some called it stubborn, even haughty. he accepted it as a family inheritance. She was wearing a fencer’s uniform: a white, high-collared padded jacket and knee-length knickers.

As she got to her feet, Ghulam reminded her softly, “Captain Humbolt is due in one hour.”

“Yes,” said Ilona. “I know.”

The Fencing Academy

Twenty-five girls and boys—aged from nine to fifteen—were waiting for Ilona in the castle’s spacious gymnasium, one floor below the grand ballroom.

All of them wore fencing outfits: high-collared white jackets with matching knickers and wire-mesh helmets. Several of them were already whacking away at one another, the ringing of steel blade against steel blade almost drowned out by the excited shouts of the youngsters gathered around the duelists.

The action and the clamor died instantly as Ilona strode into the gym, dressed in her form-hugging fencing uniform. The combatants whipped off their helmets and saluted her with their swords.

“Places, everyone!” she called out, clapping her hands sharply.

The girls and boys immediately lined up, pulled their helmets over their heads, grasped their sabers in their gloved hands.

For nearly an hour Ilona worked them up and down the length of the gym. “Forward!” she commanded. “Right foot, left foot—lunge!” And twenty-five sabers flashed out, straight and true.

At last Ilona saw Ghulam appear at the door, nodding silently to her. Humbolt has arrived, Ilona thought.

She pointed to the tallest boy among her pupils, who hurried to her side.

“Take over for me, Janos,” she said. “One hour, then let them go home.”

Janos—tall and gangly—grinned and nodded. He had been a member of the fencing class since Ilona had started it, more than six years earlier. She left him in the middle of the floor and headed for the door where Ghulam waited.

Then Ilona saw that another man was standing in the doorway, behind the butler. Derek Humbolt, Ilona realized.

Humbolt was known throughout the worlds as the most fearless, most competent, boldest explorer of them all. And a legendary womanizer. He was wearing a high-collared jacket, skintight trousers and calf-length boots polished to a mirror finish.

Smiling, Ilona thought he looked like a ruggedly handsome brute. His reputation must be well-earned, she told herself.

“Captain Humbolt,” she called as she approached him.

With a gracious sweep of his arm, he replied, “Baroness Magyr.”

Ghulam stepped back, leaving the two of them standing face-to-face.

“It was good of you to come,” Ilona said.

His lips curved into a smile. “An invitation from the baroness can’t be ignored.”

Raising her saber, Ilona smiled back and asked, “Do you fence?”

Humbolt looked past her to the youngsters exercising noisily across the gymnasium’s floor. “Not with swords, I’m afraid.”

“Too bad.”

“I suppose I could learn, although I imagine I’m a bit too old to start now.”

“Nonsense!” said Ilona. “You’re in the prime of life.”

“How kind of you to say so.”

Calling to the butler, Ilona said, “Ghulam, please show Captain Humbolt some of the castle while I get out of these sweaty clothes and wash up.”

“Certainly, Baroness.”

Turning back to Humbolt, she said, “I’ll meet you on the rooftop in half an hour.”

Half an hour later, dressed in a powder-blue pantsuit that accentuated her long, lean, leggy figure, Ilona sat at the table that had been set in the exact center of the spacious, nearly empty, roofless top floor of the castle and with an excellent view of the unfinished Magyr Tower. She silently studied Derek Humbolt, sitting across from her.

Humbolt was a bare two centimeters shorter than the willowy Ilona, broad of shoulder and flat of midsection, his dark thickly curled hair flecked with gray, his craggy face handsome enough to seem totally at ease even in the presence of Magyr riches. His jet-black eyes sparkled as he sipped at the wine that the robot server had poured.

“You set a good table,” he said to Ilona, placing the long-stemmed wineglass down as precisely as landing an interplanetary spacecraft.

Ilona smiled minimally. “I didn’t invite you here merely for lunch, you know.”

“I guessed that,” Humbolt said, his broad smile dazzling.

Ilona looked back at Humbolt. She could see it in his eyes: He wants to seduce me. I’m nothing more than a potential conquest, as far as he’s concerned. The trick will be to get him to agree to heading the mission without submitting to his male ego.

“I intend to go to Neptune,” she said flatly.

“The planet Neptune?” Humbolt asked, his brows rising. “That’s a long way from here.”

Ilona nodded slightly. “My father is there.”

“He died there.”

“I don’t believe that he is dead.”

Humbolt’s face remained smiling, but tensed visibly. He said, “Nothing’s been heard from him for more than three years. He must be dead.”

“Or cryonically preserved.”

“In cold storage? Not bloody likely.”

For the flash of an instant Ilona wanted to lean across the luncheon dishes and slap the self-certain egotist in his smiling face. She could picture the shock that would rattle his smug confidence. But she suppressed the impulse. You get better results with sugar, she heard her sainted mother whispering in her mind.

“My father is an ingenious man. I believe he might well have chosen cryonic preservation once he realized his submersible was beyond recovery. I believe he’s waiting for me to find him.”

Humbolt shook his head slowly. “The temperature of Neptune’s ocean gets hotter, the deeper you go. Even if your father somehow rigged a cryonic system to freeze his body, it would have crapped out by now.”

Ilona’s dark gaze flashed again, but she chose again to ignore his deliberate crudity. “I need someone to pilot my ship to Neptune and enter its ocean to search for my father. I’ve been told you are the best man for the job.”

“That’s probably true,” Humbolt said, his easy smile returning.

“Will you do it?”

“Will you be coming along?”

“Of course.”

Fixing his gaze on Ilona’s cobalt-blue eyes, Humbolt asked, “How much are you willing to pay?”

“Whatever you wish,” Ilona replied, quickly adding, “Within reason.”

Agreement

Humbolt’s heavy dark brows rose slightly in surprise.

“Whatever I wish?” His smile broadened. “I don’t come cheaply, you know.”

Ilona’s face remained perfectly serious. “I know precisely what you earned on your last four excursions,” she said.

“Those were all missions to Jupiter and Saturn,” he replied, his expression unchanged. “Neptune is a lot farther . . . and much less understood. That makes it more dangerous.”

“That’s why my father went there. To explore. To discover.”

“I would require a minimum of five million New Dollars.”

At last Ilona smiled back at him. “I expected nothing less.”

Humbolt broke into a wide grin. “That’s agreeable to you?”

“Agreeable,” Ilona answered.

With a crafty expression on his ruggedly handsome face, Humbolt asked, “And you intend to come along with me?”

“Of course.”

“As crew?”

“As owner.”

“Ah. No duties, then.”

“The submersible is highly automated. It needs only a captain to give it directions.”

“Very good.” Humbolt thrust his right hand across the table.

“We are in agreement?”

Ilona could see the picture in his mind: the two of them, alone together at the far end of the solar system, millions of kilometers away from any other human being. Very deliberately she allowed him to imagine the possibilities.

She took his hand in hers. “Done.”

“Done,” he echoed.

They got up from their improvised luncheon table. Ilona walked slowly to the edge of the parapet looking toward the glass and steel Magyr Tower.

Standing beside her, Humbolt asked, “Do you intend to ever finish the tower?”

She shrugged minimally. “When we find my father and bring him back, he can direct the work that remains to be done.”

“But if we don’t find him?”

Again she shrugged her slim shoulders. “I really haven’t considered that possibility.”

Into Orbit

Humbolt stared out at the rolling landscape, in the direction of Budapest. The afternoon was pleasantly warm and sunny, the landscape beyond the edge of the city was green and orderly, cultivated by untold generations of hardworking peasants and, in more recent decades, by industrious indefatigable robots.

“You have a beautiful country,” he said to Ilona.

Without turning to look at him she replied, “We worked hard to make it beautiful. And to keep it that way.”

Still gazing at the green countryside, he murmured, “Neptune is a long way from here.”

“Yes, it is. I understand that.”

“It will take several weeks to get there, and then we’ll have to go through the encircling windy clouds, crash through the ice and dive down into that ocean. Most of it is unexplored.”

“I have contracted with the Interplanetary Council; they will pay a sizable fee for whatever we find down there.”

“We’ll need a very reliable ship.”

“I’ve already bought one. It’s being refurbished even as we speak.”

Humbolt’s cocky grin returned. “Have you now?”

“Would you like to see it?”

“Certainly.”

“It’s at the orbital maintenance facility at the L4 station. We can ride up there tomorrow.”

“You’ve already made arrangements for the trip?” Humbolt asked.

Pointing to a wide treeless open area on the outskirts of the city, Ilona said, “My family owns the local spaceport. I’ll phone the manager and make the arrangements.”

#

The following morning Ilona met Humbolt at the office of the spaceport’s manager. The two of them were treated with great courtesy and driven to a rocket shuttle, standing on its tail fins, fully fueled and crewed, waiting for them to arrive.

Humbolt went slightly slack-jawed as they were escorted up the ramp and into the shuttle’s interior. The passenger compartment was empty except for them and the uniformed steward.

“You travel first class,” he said.

“Why not?” Ilona asked carelessly.

The steward gestured to the first row of seats, but Ilona went past him and slipped into the third row, taking the window seat. Humbolt slid in beside her and started pulling the safety harness over his broad shoulders.

As Ilona reached for her safety harness, the steward said, in a respectful whisper, “Liftoff is scheduled for fifteen minutes from now. May I bring you a refreshment while you wait?”

“A glass of Tokaji Aszú, please,” said Ilona, with the smile that a noblewoman reserves for dealing with servants.

“And you, sir?” the steward asked Humbolt.

“Egri Bikavérfor me.”

Ilona’s smile changed. Bull’s Blood, she thought. How macho. How common.

The steward brought their wines and Ilona clinked glasses with Humbolt.

The overhead speaker announced, “Liftoff in twelve minutes.” It was a robot’s flat emotionless voice, Ilona knew.

They sat in growing anticipation as they finished their wine and allowed the steward to take the empty glasses away. Humbolt sat back in easy anticipation; Ilona tried to hide the slight edge of nervousness that always crept over her during the endless moments of a countdown.

At last the speakers announced, “Three . . . two . . . one—liftoff.

Even through the passenger compartment’s heavy acoustic insulation, the rocket engines’ thunderous roar filled the air. The shuttle shuddered as it lifted, slowly at first and then with growing acceleration, pressing them into their cushioned seats. Ilona stared through the small oval window as the Earth fell farther and farther away. Within seconds a cloud cover obscured her view.

“We’re off!” Humbolt said needlessly, and Ilona realized the man was just as excited, just as nervous, just as thrilled as she was.

For the first time since boarding the shuttle, she relaxed.

 

#

 

Ilona listened attentively to the prerecorded safety lecture as the robotic voice warned that the shuttle would be effectively in zero gravity for the few moments it took to connect to the L4 station’s hatch. Humbolt grinned at her as he unclicked his safety harness and floated up out of his seat.

“Don’t like zero gee?” he asked.

Ilona shook her head, slightly annoyed. “It’s okay. I’ve experienced zero gravity several times.” She did not bother to explain that she’d flown into orbit a half-dozen times to acclimatize herself to weightlessness.

She let the safety straps float up off her shoulders and then rose gracefully out of her seat, taking care to grasp the back of the seat before her.

The steward floated along the aisle toward them and led them to the main hatch. They waited in expectant silence until the lights beside the hatch turned green and the overhead speaker announced, “You are now free to leave the shuttle. Have a pleasant visit to the L4 facility.”

The hatch popped open slightly. The steward reached out and pushed it fully open.

“Welcome to L4,” he said, with a mechanical smile.

Grateful for the feeling of gravity that made her innards feel normal once again, Ilona stepped out of the shuttle and into the reception area of the massive L4 space station. With Humbolt at her side she headed out to the passageway and the nearest observation blister.

The blister was empty, of course, cleared of other visitors by the station’s staff. It was a longish enclosure, dimly lit, with a row of comfortable armchairs running along its middle. Its curving roof was transparent, and through it Ilona saw the beautiful blue and white curve of Earth sliding by.

“Aahhh,” Humbolt sighed, staring out at it.

Ilona was standing with her back toward him. “This way,” she instructed.

Humbolt turned. Hanging there in space was a huge metallic sphere. Sparks glinted here and there across its wide metallic surface: robots at work.

“That’s your ship?” Humbolt asked.

Ilona heard surprise in his voice. And, for the first time, respect.

“Yes,” she replied. “Hári János.

Staring at the globular ship as it floated in orbital space, Humbolt’s handsome face now contracted into a puzzled frown.

“She looks familiar.”

“You flew her to Saturn,” said Ilona, “back when she was known as John F. Kennedy.

Humbolt’s bewilderment vanished. “Of course! The JFK! I rode that bird into Saturn’s ocean. Twice.”

Ilona allowed the beginnings of a smile to curve her lips. “I bought her from the Astronomical Association. She’s being refurbished now, brought up to date.”

“Under a new name.”

Nodding, Ilona explained, “Hári János is a Hungarian national hero.”

“A myth, isn’t he?”

“Is he? He kept Napoleon from invading Hungary.”

“By bedding Marie Louise.”

“According to the tale,” said Ilona.

“A rogue. A braggart. A barroom drinker.”

“A national hero,” Ilona repeated.

Humbolt shook his head.

Ilona asked, “Would you like to go aboard and see how we have updated the ship’s equipment?”

“Of course!”

The Hári János

From the observation blister Ilona led Humbolt back down to the docking area, past the berth where their shuttle was moored, and to a smallish debarkation port. A team of six—two men, two women and two human-sized robots—were waiting there. They all snapped to stiff attention as Ilona stepped through the port’s entrance hatch.

Behind the team ran a row of lockers. Glancing at Humbolt, Ilona said, “You are size eleven-A, so I was told.”

He nodded, grinning. “You’ve done your homework.”

Pointing to the lanky, redheaded man standing nearest her, Ilona said, “My assistant has.”

It took several moments for them to pick suitable nanofabric space suits from the lockers and worm into them. The suits were light and transparent, like rain gear, except for the thick-soled boots and the glassteel bubble helmets.

With the robots standing inertly to one side, the four human crew members helped Ilona and Humbolt into the suits, hung the life-support backpacks on their shoulders, then quickly checked them.

“You are good for EVA,” said the red-haired team leader, gesturing toward the airlock hatch at the locker room’s far end.

Without a word Ilona clomped in the heavy boots toward the hatch, Humbolt behind her. Her heart was thumping with a mixture of excitement and fear, but she didn’t want Humbolt to notice her emotions.

They stepped into the smallish, almost claustrophobic airlock, Ilona first. Once Humbolt stood beside her, the inner hatch swung slowly closed.

The airlock was bathed in lurid red light. An automated voice announced, “Evacuation initiated.” Ilona heard the clatter of a pump that dwindled as the air was sucked out of the enclosure.

“Opening outer hatch,” the mechanical voice announced.

Ilona stared wordlessly as the outer hatch swung open. She saw a spattering of stars, hard and bright, against the utter blackness of space. To one side hung the curve of Earth, green swaths of land and glittering blue ocean with a parade of purest white clouds marching across it.

And before them, slightly higher than their hatch, rode the huge sphere of Hári János, gleaming with reflected sunlight.

Without a word to Humbolt, she stepped to the edge of the airlock hatch and clipped the safety line coiled at her waist to one of the bolts ringing the airlock’s hatch.

Humbolt said, “You know what you’re doing, don’t you?” She heard approval in his tone and was glad he couldn’t hear her heart thumping beneath her ribs.

“Ready?” she asked him.

“Ready,” Humbolt replied as he snapped his safety tether to one of the bolts along the opposite rim of the hatch.

Ilona stood for an endless moment at the edge of the hatch, then launched herself toward the massive globular spacecraft hanging a few dozen meters away. She made it to its oval entrance, gripped a bolt to keep herself from bouncing away, then pressed the stud that opened the outer hatch.

Humbolt glided up to her as the hatch slid open. He helped her connect her tether and then did his. With an exaggerated gesture, he pointed into the hatch’s interior and said, “Ladies first.”

Suppressing a flare of anger at his chauvinism, Ilona instead forced a smile and murmured, “Thank you, kind sir,” as she disconnected her safety line from the shuttle’s hatch and felt it reel up at her waist.

He disconnected himself from the shuttle too and entered the airlock behind her, waited until its display light turned green, then cracked the seal on his glassteel helmet.

With a pleasant smile he nodded and said, “Air’s okay.”

They floated through the inner hatch into a long tubular passageway that delved into the heart of the enormous spacecraft. Waiting in front of them was an open trolley that seated four people. Humbolt grinned as he pushed his bubble helmet up and over his head, leaving it dangling at the back of his neck. As Ilona did the same he commented, “This is an improvement. When I rode this bucket we had to slide along a guide wire, like tourists on a zip line.”

As she pulled herself into the waiting trolley, Ilona replied, “This is better.”

“And safer,” Humbolt added, sliding into the tiny car beside her and snapping his seatbelt.

Once they were both seated Ilona commanded, “Trolley go!”

The car started slowly down the long tube, picking up speed until the tunnel’s walls became a blur. Overhead lights turned on as they rushed by, and turned off as they passed.

“This is fun!” Humbolt hollered as they raced down the featureless tunnel.

Ilona smiled, amused.

“Twelve spheres, nested inside each other,” Humbolt said, in a schoolteacher’s lecturing tone.

“That’s how the ship deals with the increasing pressure as it goes deeper into Neptune’s ocean,” Ilona took up, to show she wasn’t ignorant of the concept.

“Right.”

“Theoretically, we can go all the way down to the ocean’s bottom.”

“I got about two-thirds of the way down to the bottom on Saturn, but one of the supporting pistons jammed and I had to go back up to the surface.”

Ilona saw the frustration that still etched his face, so many years after that mission.

She said, “The pressure you faced there was more than what we’ll have to deal with on Neptune.”

As if he hadn’t heard her, Humbolt muttered, “Two of my crew died on that mission. I’ve always wondered if it was something wrong that I did.”

Their little trolley was slowing down noticeably.

“Almost there,” Ilona said.

Humbolt nodded silently. She realized he was reliving the expedition to Saturn that had killed two of his crew.

They sat in silence as the trolley glided smoothly to a stop at the end of the long tunnel. They were at the heart of the massive spacecraft, Ilona knew. The place where they would spend weeks searching for her father’s submersible. Would he still be alive inside it, Ilona wondered, waiting for me in cryonic suspension?

Humbolt floated onto the platform that ran the length of their little trolley. His smile looking a bit forced, he bent slightly and extended his hand to Ilona. She gracefully grabbed it and moved next to him. Both felt the magnetic pull of the platform on their boots.

“Here we are,” he said.

Ilona nodded to the metal hatch at the end of the platform.

“Ready to inspect our command center?” she asked.

He grinned at her. “After you, boss.”

Command Center

With Humbolt a step behind her, Ilona walked to the end of the platform and said in a firm voice, “Hatch open, please.”

The metal hatch immediately slid back. Ilona stepped through the open doorway and the interior chamber lit up brightly.

“Everything’s voice activated within the twelve spheres?” he asked.

“Almost everything.”

Humbolt brushed past her, then hesitated as his head swiveled, taking in the command center.

“You’ve really improved it,” he murmured.

It was a circular chamber, its walls lined with display screens and rimmed with a continuous long, low sofa. At its center was a high-backed black-leather command chair, its armrests studded with control buttons, flanked on either side by two smaller chairs. Identical doors stood on either side of the compartment; the curved ceiling was the milky gray of still another set of display screens.

Dipping her chin toward the command chair, Ilona said, “You can run the entire ship by yourself.” She pointed to a shining metal circlet studded with electronic receivers. “The sensor ring will connect all the ship’s systems directly with your cerebral cortex.”

“And all those control studs in the armrests?” he asked.

“One of many backups.”

Jabbing a finger at the door to the left, Humbolt asked, “What’s behind them?”

“Crew quarters,” Ilona replied. “I don’t intend to spend the next few months of my life without my comforts.”

Humbolt brushed past her and went to the door. Opening it and walking along a short hallway. He came back a few minutes later and exclaimed, “Like a first-class hotel!”

Ilona said, “Two mini-suites on this side, two more on the other.”

“But there’s only the two of us.”

She could see it in his eyes: the thought of sharing her bed.

Pointing across the command center to the other door, she explained, “Your quarters will be on that side. I’ll bunk in here.”

He looked more thoughtful than disappointed. “That still leaves two bedrooms unoccupied.”

“One,” Ilona corrected. “We’re picking up a planetary scientist at Mars.”

Humbolt’s ruggedly handsome face registered surprise. And curiosity.

“Male or female?”

“A young man from the University of Munich. His name is Jan Meitner. Very brilliant, I’ve found.”

With a lascivious grin Humbolt asked, “Ménage à trois?”

“Nothing of the sort,” Ilona answered sharply. “This mission is to find my father. And do some exploration. You can forget about your erotic imaginings.”

To her surprise, Humbolt’s grin did not shrink by as much as a millimeter. “Hearkening and obedience,” he said, with a slight bow.

She knew what was going through his mind. Time is on my side, he was thinking.

The two of them returned their attention to the command center’s equipment. Eying the food dispensers at the rear of the compartment, Humbolt seemed satisfied that he had everything he needed, even more. The ship was well equipped, and stocked with enough food stores to last three people for half a year, at least.

Standing behind the central command chair, he nodded approvingly. “You seem to have thought of everything.”

Ilona responded, “I hired a team of the most renowned mission planners on Earth. They’ve thought of everything for me.”

Humbolt lowered his head in silent acknowledgment. He checked the sensor ring.

“Have you seen enough?” she asked.

“For the moment.” Casting his gaze around the viewscreens lining the circular chamber, he added, “I’d like to schedule a run-through tomorrow. Familiarize myself with the layout, get accustomed to the equipment, that sort of thing.”

“Certainly,” Ilona said.

As they stepped back to the hatch and the trolley waiting outside the command center, Humbolt asked, “This planetary scientist . . . how much do you know about him?”

Climbing down into the trolley, Ilona said, “I met him last year, at a seminar on Neptune’s life-forms that I attended. He is a very fine young man, from a good family. He’s studying the remains of the Martian civilization, digging through the ruins, that sort of thing.”

“And he’s giving that up to go to Neptune?”

“For what I’m paying him, I imagine he would go to the end of the Milky Way galaxy.”

Humbolt lowered himself into the trolley seat next to her, in silence. But the expression on his face looked thoughtful, almost worried.

Copyright © Ben Bova 2021

Pre-order Neptune Here:

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Every Book Coming From Tor in Summer 2021

Summer is almost here and we’re so excited for warm weather, sunshine, and NEW BOOKS!!! Check out everything coming from Tor Books in summer 2021 here:

June 1

Image Placeholder of - 60The Library of the Dead by T. L. Huchu

Ropa dropped out of school to become a ghostalker – and they sure do love to talk. Now she speaks to Edinburgh’s dead, carrying messages to those they left behind. A girl’s gotta earn a living, and it seems harmless enough. Until, that is, the dead whisper that someone’s bewitching children – leaving them husks, empty of joy and strength. It’s on Ropa’s patch, so she feels honor-bound to investigate. Ropa will dice with death as she calls on Zimbabwean magic and Scottish pragmatism to hunt down clues. And although underground Edinburgh hides a wealth of dark secrets, she also discovers an occult library, a magical mentor and some unexpected allies. Yet as shadows lengthen, will the hunter become the hunted?

Placeholder of  -9Alien Day by Rick Wilber

Will Peter Holman rescue his sister Kait, or will she be the one to rescue him? Will Chloe Cary revive her acting career with the help of the princeling Treble, or will the insurgents take both their lives? Will Whistle or Twoclicks wind up in charge of Earth, and how will the Mother, who runs all of S’hudon, choose between them? And the most important question of all: who are the Old Ones that left all that technology behind for the S’hudonni . . . and what if they come back?

June 8

Place holder  of - 16Shadow & Claw by Gene Wolfe

The Book of the New Sun is unanimously acclaimed as Gene Wolfe’s most remarkable work, hailed as “a masterpiece of science fantasy comparable in importance to the major works of Tolkien and Lewis” by Publishers Weekly.

June 22

Image Place holder  of - 22Witness for the Dead by Katherine Addison

When the young half-goblin emperor Maia sought to learn who had set the bombs that killed his father and half-brothers, he turned to an obscure resident of his father’s Court, a Prelate of Ulis and a Witness for the Dead. Thara Celehar found the truth, though it did him no good to discover it. He lost his place as a retainer of his cousin the former Empress, and made far too many enemies among the many factions vying for power in the new Court. The favor of the Emperor is a dangerous coin. Now Celehar’s skills lead him out of the quiet and into a morass of treachery, murder, and injustice. No matter his own background with the imperial house, Celehar will stand with the commoners, and possibly find a light in the darkness.

June 29

Poster Placeholder of - 26When the Sparrow Falls by Neil Sharpson

Here, in the last sanctuary for the dying embers of the human race in a world run by artificial intelligence, if you stray from the path – your life is forfeit. But when a Party propagandist is killed – and is discovered as a “machine” – he’s given a new mission: chaperone the widow, Lily, who has arrived to claim her husband’s remains. But when South sees that she, the first “machine” ever allowed into the country, bears an uncanny resemblance to his late wife, he’s thrown into a maelstrom of betrayal, murder, and conspiracy that may bring down the Republic for good.

July 6

The Empire’s Ruin by Brian Staveley

The Annurian Empire is disintegrating. The advantages it used for millennia have fallen to ruin. The ranks of the Kettral have been decimated from within, and the kenta gates, granting instantaneous travel across the vast lands of the empire, can no longer be used. In order to save the empire, one of the surviving Kettral must voyage beyond the edge of the known world through a land that warps and poisons all living things to find the nesting ground of the giant war hawks. Meanwhile, a monk turned con-artist may hold the secret to the kenta gates. But time is running out.

Joker Moon from George R. R. Martin

Theodorus was a dreamer. When the wild card virus touched him and transformed him into a monstrous snail centaur weighing several tons, his boyhood dreams seemed out of reach, but a Witherspoon is not so easily defeated. But now when he looked upward into the night sky, he saw more than just the moon . . . he saw a joker homeland, a refuge where the outcast children of the wild card could make a place of their own, safe from hate and harm. An impossible dream, some said. Others, alarmed by the prospect, brought all their power to bear to oppose him. Theodorus persisted . . .never dreaming that the Moon was already inhabited. And the Moon Maid did not want company.

July 13

The Freedom Race by Lucinda Roy

In the aftermath of a cataclysmic civil war known as the Sequel, ideological divisions among the states have hardened. In the Homestead Territories, an alliance of plantation-inspired holdings, Black labor is imported from the Cradle, and Biracial “Muleseeds” are bred. Raised in captivity on Planting 437, kitchen-seed Jellybean “Ji-ji” Lottermule knows there is only one way to escape. She must enter the annual Freedom Race as a runner. Ji-ji and her friends must exhume a survival story rooted in the collective memory of a kidnapped people and conjure the voices of the dead to light their way home.

The Justice in Revenge by Ryan Van Loan

The island nation of Servenza is a land of flint and steel, sail and gearwork, of gods both Dead and sleeping. It is a society where the wealthy few rule the impoverished many. Determined to change that, former street-rat Buc, along with Eld, the ex-soldier who has been her partner in crime-solving, have claimed seats on the board of the powerful Kanados Trading Company. Buc plans to destroy the nobility from within—which is much harder than she expected.

July 20

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected. When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother’s identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. There, Zhu learns she is capable of doing whatever it takes to stay hidden from her fate.

August 10

The Rookery by Deborah Hewitt

After discovering her magical ability to see people’s souls, Alice Wyndham only wants three things: to return to the Rookery, join the House Mielikki and master her magic, and find out who she really is. But when the secrets of Alice’s past threaten her plans, and the Rookery begins to crumble around her, she must decide how far she’s willing to go to save the city and people she loves.

Sword & Citadel by Gene Wolfe

Sword & Citadel brings together the final two books of the tetralogy in one volume: The Sword of the Lictor is the third volume in Wolfe’s remarkable epic, chronicling the odyssey of the wandering pilgrim called Severian, driven by a powerful and unfathomable destiny, as he carries out a dark mission far from his home. The Citadel of the Autarch brings The Book of the New Sun to its harrowing conclusion, as Severian clashes in a final reckoning with the dread Autarch, fulfilling an ancient prophecy that will forever alter the realm known as Urth

August 17

Neptune by Ben Bova

In the future, humanity has spread throughout the solar system, on planets and moons once visited only by robots or explored at a distance by far-voyaging spacecraft. Three years ago, Ilona Magyr’s father, Miklos, disappeared while exploring the seas of Neptune. Everyone believes he is dead—crushed, frozen, or boiled alive in Neptune’s turbulent seas. With legendary space explorer Derek Humbolt piloting her ship and planetary scientist Jan Meitner guiding the search, Ilona Magyr knows she will find her father—alive—on Neptune. Her plans are irrevocably altered when she and her team discover the wreckage of an alien ship deep in Neptune’s ocean, a discovery which changes humanity’s understanding of its future…and its past.

The Exiled Fleet by J. S. Dewes

The Sentinels narrowly escaped the collapsing edge of the Divide. They have mustered a few other surviving Sentinels, but with no engines they have no way to leave the edge of the universe before they starve. Adequin Rake has gathered a team to find the materials they’ll need to get everyone out. To do that they’re going to need new allies and evade a ruthless enemy. Some of them will not survive.

August 31

The Devil You Know by Kit Rocha

Maya has had a price on her head from the day she escaped the TechCorps. Genetically engineered for genius and trained for revolution, there’s only one thing she can’t do—forget. Gray has finally broken free of the Protectorate, but he can’t escape the time bomb in his head. His body is rejecting his modifications, and his months are numbered. When Maya’s team uncovers an operation trading in genetically enhanced children, she’ll do anything to stop them. Even risk falling back into the hands of the TechCorps. And Gray has found a purpose for his final days: keeping Maya safe.

Fury of a Demon by Brian Naslund

The war against Osyrus Ward goes poorly for Bershad and Ashlyn. They are pinned in the Dainwood by monstrous alchemical creations and a relentless army of mercenaries, they are running out of options and allies. The Witch Queen struggles with her new powers, knowing that the secret of unlocking her dragon cord is key to stopping Ward’s army, she pushes forward with her experiments. Meanwhile, with every wound Bershad suffers, he gets closer to losing his humanity forever, and as the war rages, the exile turned assassin turned hero isn’t even sure if being human is something he wants.

September 7

You Sexy Thing by Cat Rambo

TwiceFar station is at the edge of the known universe, and that’s just how Niko Larson, former Admiral in the Grand Military of the Hive Mind, likes it. Retired and finally free of the continual war of conquest, Niko and the remnants of her former unit are content to spend the rest of their days working at the restaurant they built together, The Last Chance. But, some wars can’t ever be escaped, and unlike the Hive Mind, some enemies aren’t content to let old soldiers go. Niko and her crew are forced onto a sentient ship convinced that it is being stolen and must survive the machinations of a sadistic pirate king if they even hope to keep the dream of The Last Chance alive.

 

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$2.99 eBook Sale: March 2021

It’s the start of a new month and that means…NEW BOOKS ON SALE!!! Check out what ebooks you can snag for only $2.99 throughout the entire month of March here.

Image Placeholder of - 99Space Station Down by Ben Bova and Doug Beason

When an ultra-rich space tourist visits the orbiting International Space Station, NASA expects a $100 million win-win: his visit will bring in much needed funding and publicity. But the tourist venture turns into a scheme of terror. Together with an extremist cosmonaut, the tourist slaughters all the astronauts on board the million-pound ISS—and prepares to crash it into New York City at 17,500 miles an hour, causing more devastation than a hundred atomic bombs. In doing so, they hope to annihilate the world’s financial system. All that stands between them and their deadly goal is the lone survivor aboard the ISS, Kimberly Hasid-Robinson, a newly divorced astronaut who has barricaded herself in a secure area.

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Image Place holder  of - 57Drop by Drop by Morgan Llywelyn

In this first book in the Step By Step trilogy, global catastrophe occurs as all plastic mysteriously liquefies. All the small components making many technologies possible—navigation systems, communications, medical equipment—fail. In Sycamore River, citizens find their lives disrupted as everything they’ve depended on melts around them, with sometimes fatal results. All they can rely upon is themselves. And this is only the beginning . . .

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Poster Placeholder of - 17City of Broken Magic by Mirah Bolender

Five hundred years ago, magi created a weapon they couldn’t control. An infestation that ate magic—and anything else it came into contact with. Enemies and allies were equally filling. Only an elite team of non-magical humans, known as sweepers, can defuse and dispose of infestations before they spread. Most die before they finish training. Laura, a new team member, has stayed alive longer than most. Now, she’s the last—and only—sweeper standing between the city and a massive infestation.

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$2.99 eBook Sale: February 2021

It’s the start of a new month and that mean…NEW BOOKS ON SALE!!! Check out what ebooks you can snag for only $2.99 throughout the entire month of February here.

Poster Placeholder of - 16Crack’d Pot Trail by Steven Erikson

It is an undeniable truth: give evil a name and everyone’s happy. Give it two names and…why, they’re even happier. Intrepid necromancers Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, scourges of civilization, raisers of the dead, reapers of the souls of the living, devourers of hope, betrayers of faith, slayers of the innocent, and modest personifications of evil, have a lot to answer for and answer they will. Known as the Nehemoth, they are pursued by countless self-professed defenders of decency, sanity, and civilization. After all, since when does evil thrive unchallenged? Well, often—but not this time.

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Image Place holder  of - 70Recluce Tales: Stories from the World of Recluse by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.

For over a thousand years, Order and Chaos have molded the island of Recluce. The Saga of Recluce chronicles the history of this world through eighteen books, L. E. Modesitt, Jr.’s most expansive and bestselling epic fantasy series. Brandon Sanderson, New York Times bestselling author of The Stormlight Archive, calls it “Essential reading for any fan of the increasingly impressive world that is Recluce.”

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Placeholder of  -89The Best of Gene Wolfe by Gene Wolfe

From a literary perspective, this will certainly be the best collection of the year in science fiction and fantasy. Gene Wolfe, of whom The Washington Post said, “Of all SF writers currently active none is held in higher esteem,” has selected the short fiction he considers his finest into one volume.This is the first retrospective collection of his entire career. It is for the ages.

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Image Placeholder of - 74Songs of the Dying Earth edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois

To honor the magnificent career of Jack Vance, one unparalleled in achievement and impact, George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, with the full cooperation of Vance, his family, and his agents, have created a Jack Vance tribute anthology: Songs of the Dying Earth. The best of today’s fantasy writers to return to the unique and evocative milieu of The Dying Earth, from which they and so many others have drawn so much inspiration, to create their own brand-new adventures in the world of Jack Vance’s greatest novel.

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Place holder  of - 97Metatropolis by John Scalzi

A strange man comes to an even stranger encampment…a bouncer becomes the linchpin of an unexpected urban movement…a courier on the run has to decide who to trust in a dangerous city…a slacker in a “zero-footprint” town gets a most unusual new job…and a weapons investigator uses his skills to discover a metropolis hidden right in front of his eyes. Welcome to the future of cities. Welcome to Metatropolis.

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Tales of the Grand Tour by Ben Bova

In novels like Mars and Moonbase, and Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn, as well as Privateers, The Precipice, and The Rock Rats, Ben Bova has been telling the stories of the wars and rivalries, the outsize individuals, public crusades, and private passions that will drive us as we expand into the Solar System and make use of its vast resources. And throughout, Bova has shown our cosmic neighborhood as we know it to be, giving us a sense of Venus and Jupiter and the Asteroid Belt and Mars that’s as up-to-date as the latest observations. For the last two decades have been a golden age of near-Earth astronomy and observation, and in his novels Bova has made dramatic use of our newest knowledge.

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The Whisperer and Other Voices by Brian Lumley

The Whisperer and Other Stories contains a complete short novel, The Return of the Deep Ones, as well as eight more weighty slices from the dark imagination of Brian Lumley. Here are several of Lumley’s best H. P. Lovecraft-inspired tales, including “The Statement of Henry Worthy.” Also included are “The Luststone” and “The Disapproval of Jeremy Cleave,” proving that Lumley can make one laugh even while the hairs on the back of their neck are slowly coming to attention. . . .

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Broken Stars by Ken Liu

In Hugo award-winner Liu Cixin’s ‘Moonlight,’ a man is contacted by three future versions of himself, each trying to save their world from destruction. Hao Jingfang’s ‘The New Year Train’ sees 1,500 passengers go missing on a train that vanishes into space. In the title story by Tang Fei, a young girl is shown how the stars can reveal the future. In addition, three essays explore the history and rise of Chinese science fiction publishing, contemporary Chinese fandom, and how the growing interest in Chinese SF has impacted writers who had long laboured in obscurity.

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$2.99 eBook Sale: July 2020

$2.99 eBook Sale: July 2020

The holiday weekend is almost here and we have some great books for you to add to your digital TBR pile! Check out all the books you can snag the ENTIRE month of July for only $2.99 here:


Image Placeholder of - 24Blood of an Exile by Brian Naslund

Bershad stands apart from the world, the most legendary dragonslayer in history, both revered and reviled. Once, he was Lord Silas Bershad, but after a disastrous failure on the battlefield he was stripped of his titles and sentenced to one violent, perilous hunt after another. Now he lives only to stalk dragons, slaughter them, collect their precious oil, and head back into the treacherous wilds once more. For years, death was his only chance to escape. But that is about to change.

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Image Place holder  of - 10A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

All the world, from Scirland to the farthest reaches of Eriga, know Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist. She is the remarkable woman who brought the study of dragons out of the misty shadows of myth and misunderstanding into the clear light of modern science. But before she became the illustrious figure we know today, there was a bookish young woman whose passion for learning, natural history, and, yes, dragons defied the stifling conventions of her day.

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Placeholder of  -71The Bard’s Blade by Brian D. Anderson

Mariyah enjoys a simple life in Vylari, a land magically sealed off from the outside world, where fear and hatred are all but unknown. There she’s a renowned wine maker and her betrothed, Lem, is a musician of rare talent. Their destiny has never been in question. Whatever life brings, they will face it together. Then a stranger crosses the wards into Vylari for the first time in centuries, bringing a dark prophecy that forces Lem and Mariyah down separate paths. How far will they have to go to stop a rising darkness and save their home? And how much of themselves will they have to give up along the way?

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Poster Placeholder of - 23An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors by Curtis Craddock

Born with a physical disability, no magical talent, and a precocious intellect, Princess Isabelle des Zephyrs has lived her life being underestimated by her family and her kingdom. The only person who appreciates her true self is Jean-Claude, the fatherly musketeer who had guarded her since birth. All shall change, however, when an unlikely marriage proposal is offered, to the second son of a dying king in an empire collapsing into civil war.

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Place holder  of - 30Powersat by Ben Bova

Two hundred thousand feet up, things go horribly wrong. An experimental low-orbit spaceplane breaks up on reentry, falling to earth over a trail hundreds of miles long. And it its wake is the beginning of the most important mission in the history of space. A sweeping mix of space, murder, romance, politics, secrets, and betrayal, Powersat will take you to the edge of space and the dawning of a new world.

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Every Tor Book Coming This Summer

It’s almost time for summer weather and that means…SUMMER BOOKS! Due to COVID-19, we shuffled some of our on sale dates around, so check here for the most up to date list of when you can get your hands on some of the most highly anticipated books of the season:

June 16

The Unconquered CityPlaceholder of  -28 by K. A. Doore

Seven years have passed since the Siege—a time when the hungry dead had risen—but the memories still haunt Illi Basbowen. Though she was trained to be an elite assassin, now the Basbowen clan act as Ghadid’s militia force protecting the resurrected city against a growing tide of monstrous guul that travel across the dunes. Illi’s worst fears are confirmed when General Barca arrives, bearing news that her fledgling nation, Hathage, also faces this mounting danger. How much can she sacrifice to protect everything she knows from devastation?

GloriousImage Place holder  of - 31 by Gregory Benford and Larry Niven

Audacious astronauts encounter bizarre, sometimes deadly life forms, and strange, exotic, cosmic phenomena, including miniature black holes, dense fields of interstellar plasma, powerful gravity-emitters, and spectacularly massive space-based, alien-built labyrinths. Tasked with exploring this brave, new, highly dangerous world, they must also deal with their own personal triumphs and conflicts.

June 23

Image Placeholder of - 35The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison

In an alternate 1880s London, angels inhabit every public building, and vampires and werewolves walk the streets with human beings in a well-regulated truce. A fantastic utopia, except for a few things: Angels can Fall, and that Fall is like a nuclear bomb in both the physical and metaphysical worlds. And human beings remain human, with all their kindness and greed and passions and murderous intent. Jack the Ripper stalks the streets of this London too. But this London has an Angel. The Angel of the Crows.

June 30

Place holder  of - 11Interlibrary Loan by Gene Wolfe

E. A. Smithe is a borrowed person, his personality an uploaded recording of a deceased mystery writer. Smithe is a piece of property, not a legal human. As such, Smithe can be loaned to other branches. Which he is. Along with two fellow reclones, a cookbook and romance writer, they are shipped to Polly’s Cove, where Smithe meets a little girl who wants to save her mother, a father who is dead but perhaps not. And another E.A. Smithe… who definitely is.

July 7

Poster Placeholder of - 50Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliott

Princess Sun has finally come of age. Growing up in the shadow of her mother, Eirene, has been no easy task. The legendary queen-marshal did what everyone thought impossible: expel the invaders and build Chaonia into a magnificent republic, one to be respected—and feared. But the cutthroat ambassador corps and conniving noble houses have never ceased to scheme—and they have plans that need Sun to be removed as heir, or better yet, dead.

Or What You Will by Jo Walton

He has been too many things to count. He has been a dragon with a boy on his back. He has been a scholar, a warrior, a lover, and a thief. He has been dream and dreamer. He has been a god. But “he” is in fact nothing more than a spark of idea, a character in the mind of Sylvia Harrison, 73, award-winning author of thirty novels over forty years. But Sylvia won’t live forever, any more than any human does. And he’s trapped inside her cave of bone, her hollow of skull. When she dies, so will he.

Little Brother & Homeland by Cory Doctorow

Cory Doctorow’s two New York Times-bestselling novels of youthful rebellion against the torture-and-surveillance state – now available in a softcover omnibus

 

July 14

In the Kingdom of All Tomorrows by Stephen R. Lawhead

Conor mac Ardan is now clan chief of the Darini. Tara’s Hill has become a haven and refuge for all those who were made homeless by the barbarian Scálda. A large fleet of the Scálda’s Black Ships has now arrived and Conor joins Eirlandia’s lords to defeat the monsters. He finds treachery in their midst…and a betrayal that is blood deep. And so begins a final battle to win the soul of a nation.

The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowl

Elma York is on her way to Mars, but the Moon colony is still being established. Her friend and fellow Lady Astronaut Nicole Wargin is thrilled to be one of those pioneer settlers, using her considerable flight and political skills to keep the program on track. But she is less happy that her husband, the Governor of Kansas, is considering a run for President.

July 21

Trouble the Saints by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Phyllis LeBlanc has given up everything—not just her own past, and Dev, the man she loved, but even her own dreams. Still, the ghosts from her past are always by her side—and history has appeared on her doorstep to threaten the people she keeps in her heart. And so Phyllis will have to make a harrowing choice, before it’s too late—is there ever enough blood in the world to wash clean generations of injustice?

 The Sin in the Steel by Ryan Van Loan

Buc and Eld are the first private detectives in a world where pirates roam the seas, mages speak to each other across oceans, mechanical devices change the tide of battle, and earthly wealth is concentrated in the hands of a powerful few. It’s been weeks since ships last returned to the magnificent city of Servenza with bounty from the Shattered Coast. Disaster threatens not just the city’s trading companies but the empire itself. When Buc and Eld are hired to investigate, Buc swiftly discovers that the trade routes have become the domain of a sharp-eyed pirate queen who sinks all who defy her.

Quantum Shadows by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. 

On a world called Heaven, the ten major religions of mankind each have its own land governed by a capital city and ruled by a Hegemon. That Hegemon may be a god, or a prophet of a god. Smaller religions have their own towns or villages of belief. Corvyn, known as the Shadow of the Raven, contains the collective memory of humanity’s Falls from Grace. With this knowledge comes enormous power. When unknown power burns a mysterious black image into the holy place of each House of the Decalivre, Corvyn must discover what entity could possibly have that much power. The stakes are nothing less than another Fall, and if he doesn’t stop it, mankind will not rise from the ashes.

Uranus by Ben Bova

Humans can’t live on the gas giants, making instead a life in orbit. Kyle Umber, a religious idealist, has built Haven, a sanctuary above the distant planet Uranus. He invites ”the tired, the sick, the poor“ of Earth to his orbital retreat where men and women can find spiritual peace and refuge from the world. The billionaire who financed Haven, however, has his own designs: beyond the reach of the laws of the inner planets Haven could become the center for an interplanetary web of narcotics, prostitution, even hunting human prey.

I Come With Knives by S. A. Hunt

Robin – now armed with new knowledge about mysterious demon terrorizing her around town, the support of her friends, and the assistance of her old witch-hunter mentor – plots to confront the Lazenbury coven and destroy them once and for all. Robin must handle new threats on top of the menace from the Lazenbury coven, but a secret about Robin’s past may throw all of her plans into jeopardy.

July 28

Deal with the Devil by Kit Rocha

Nina is an information broker with a mission—she and her team of mercenary librarians use their knowledge to save the hopeless in a crumbling America. Knox is the bitter, battle-weary captain of the Silver Devils. His squad of supersoldiers went AWOL to avoid slaughtering innocents, and now he’s fighting to survive. They’re on a deadly collision course, and the passion that flares between them only makes it more dangerous. They could burn down the world, destroying each other in the process…Or they could do the impossible: team up.

The Baron of Magister Valley by Steven Brust

The salacious claims that The Baron of Magister Valley bears any resemblance to a certain nearly fictional narrative about an infamous count are unfounded (we do not dabble in tall tales. The occasional moderately stretched? Yes. But never tall). Our tale is that of a nobleman who is betrayed by those he trusted, and subsequently imprisoned. After centuries of confinement, he contrives to escape and prepares to avenge himself against his betrayers. A mirror image of The Count of Monte Cristo, vitrolic naysayers still grouse? Well, that is nearly and utterly false.

Automatic Reload by Ferrett Steinmetz

Meet Mat, a tortured mercenary who has become the perfect shot, and Silvia, and idealistic woman genetically engineered to murder you to death. Together they run for the shadiest corporation in the world… and realize their messed-up brain chemistry cannot overpower their very real chemistry.

August 4

The Living Dead by George A. Romero and Daniel Kraus

In a Midwestern trailer park, a Black teenage girl and a Muslim immigrant battle newly-risen friends and family. On a US aircraft carrier, living sailors hide from dead ones while a fanatic makes a new religion out of death. At a cable news station, a surviving anchor keeps broadcasting while his undead colleagues try to devour him. In DC, an autistic federal employee charts the outbreak, preserving data for a future that may never come. Everywhere, people are targeted by both the living and the dead. We think we know how this story ends. We. Are. Wrong.

Space Station Down by Ben Bova and Doug Beason

When an ultra-rich space tourist visits the orbiting International Space Station, NASA expects a $100 million win-win: his visit will bring in much needed funding and publicity. But the tourist venture turns into a scheme of terror. Together with an extremist cosmonaut, the tourist slaughters all the astronauts on board the million-pound ISS—and prepares to crash it into New York City at 17,500 miles an hour, causing more devastation than a hundred atomic bombs. In doing so, they hope to annihilate the world’s financial system.

Sorcery of a Queen by Brian Naslund

Driven from her kingdom, the would-be queen now seeks haven in the land of her mother, but Ashlyn will not stop until justice has been done. Determined to unlock the secret of powers long thought impossible, Ashlyn bends her will and intelligence to mastering the one thing people always accused her of, sorcery. Meanwhile, having learned the truth of his mutation, Bershad is a man on borrowed time. Never knowing when his healing powers will drive him to a self-destruction, he is determined to see Ashlyn restored to her throne and the creatures they both love safe.

A Chorus of Fire by Brian D. Anderson

A shadow has moved across Lamoria. Whispers of the coming conflict are growing louder; the enemy becoming bolder. Belkar’s reach has extended far into the heart of Ralmarstad and war now seems inevitable. Mariyah, clinging to the hope of one day being reunited with Lem, struggles to attain the power she will need to make the world safe again.Lem continues his descent into darkness, serving a man he does not trust in the name of a faith which is not his own. Only Shemi keeps his heart from succumbing to despair, along with the knowledge that he has finally found Mariyah. But Lem is convinced she is being held against her will, and is determined to free her, regardless the cost.

August 11

The Tyrant Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson

Baru’s enemies close in from all sides. Baru’s own mind teeters on the edge of madness or shattering revelation. Now she must choose between genocidal revenge and a far more difficult path—a conspiracy of judges, kings, spies and immortals, puppeteering the world’s riches and two great wars in a gambit for the ultimate prize. If Baru had absolute power over the Imperial Republic, she could force Falcrest to abandon its colonies and make right its crimes.

The Last Uncharted Sky by Curtis Craddock

Isabelle and Jean-Claude undertake an airship expedition to recover a fabled treasure and claim a hitherto undiscovered craton for l’Empire Celeste. But Isabelle, as a result from a previous attack that tried to subsume her body and soul, suffers from increasingly disturbing and disruptive hallucinations. Disasters are compounded when the ship is sabotaged by an enemy agent, and Jean-Claude is separated from the expedition.

By Force Alone by Lavie Tidhar

Everyone thinks they know the story of King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table. The fact is they don’t know sh*t.

Arthur? An over-promoted gangster. Merlin? An eldritch parasite. Excalibur? A shady deal with a watery arms dealer. Britain? A clogged sewer that Rome abandoned just as soon as it could.

The Shadow Commission by David Mack

November 1963. Cade and Anja have lived in hiding for a decade, training new mages. Then the assassination of President Kennedy trigger a series of murders whose victims are all magicians—with Cade, Anja, and their allies as its prime targets. Their only hope of survival: learning how to fight back against the sinister cabal known as the Shadow Commission.

The Wizard Knight by Gene Wolfe

A young man in his teens is transported from our world to a magical realm consisting of seven levels of reality. Transformed by magic into a grown man of heroic proportions, he takes the name Sir Able of the High Heart and sets out on a quest to find the sword that has been promised to him, the blade that will help him fulfill his ambition to become a true hero—a true knight. Inside, however, Sir Able remains a boy, and he must grow in every sense to survive what lies ahead…

August 25

The Memory of Souls by Jenn Lyons

Now that Relos Var’s plans have been revealed and demons are free to rampage across the empire, the fulfillment of the ancient prophecies—and the end of the world—is closer than ever. To buy time for humanity, Kihrin needs to convince the king of the Manol vané to perform an ancient ritual which will strip the entire race of their immortality, but it’s a ritual which certain vané will do anything to prevent. Including assassinating the messengers.

Architects of Memory by Karen Osborne

Terminally ill salvage pilot Ash Jackson lost everything in the war with the alien Vai, but she’ll be damned if she loses her future. Her plan: to buy, beg, or lie her way out of corporate indenture and find a cure. When her crew salvages a genocidal weapon from a ravaged starship above a dead colony, Ash uncovers a conspiracy of corporate intrigue and betrayal that threatens to turn her into a living weapon.

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$2.99 eBook Sale: April 2020

$2.99 eBook Sale: April 2020

Happy April, everyone! A new month means new monthly deals—are you excited?! Check out what Tor eBooks you can grab for $2.99 throughout the entire month below:

Image Placeholder of - 17Leviathans of Jupiter by Ben Bova

Physicist Grant Archer led an expedition into Jupiter’s hostile planetwide ocean, attempting to study the unusual and massive creatures that call the planet their home. Unprepared for the hostile environment and crushing pressures, Grant’s team faced certain death as their ship malfunctioned and slowly sank to the planet’s depths. However one of Jupiter’s native creatures–a city-sized leviathan–saved the doomed ship. Now, several years later, Grant prepares a new expedition to prove once and for all that the huge creatures are intelligent. The new team faces dangers from both the hostile environment and from humans who will do anything to make sure the mission is a failure, even if it means murdering the entire crew.

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Poster Placeholder of - 70Unwrapped Sky by Rjurik Davidson

Once, it is said, gods used magic to create reality, with powers that defied explanation. But the magic—or science, if one believes those who try to master the dangers of thaumaturgy—now seems more like a dream. Industrial workers for House Technis, farmers for House Arbor, and fisher folk of House Marin eke out a living and hope for a better future. But the philosopher-assassin Kata plots a betrayal that will cost the lives of godlike Minotaurs; the ambitious bureaucrat Boris Autec rises through the ranks as his private life turns to ashes; and the idealistic seditionist Maximilian hatches a mad plot to unlock the vaunted secrets of the Great Library of Caeli-Enas.

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Image Place holder  of - 98Zero Sum Game by S. L. Huang 

Cas Russell is good at math. Scary good. The vector calculus blazing through her head lets her smash through armed men twice her size and dodge every bullet in a gunfight, and she’ll take any job for the right price. As far as Cas knows, she’s the only person around with a superpower…until she discovers someone with a power even more dangerous than her own. Someone who can reach directly into people’s minds and twist their brains into Moebius strips. Someone intent on becoming the world’s puppet master.

 

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Place holder  of - 7Nemo Rising by C. Courtney Joyner

Sea monsters are sinking ships up and down the Atlantic Coast. Enraged that his navy is helpless against this onslaught and facing a possible World War as a result, President Ulysses S. Grant is forced to ask for assistance from the notorious Captain Nemo, in Federal prison for war crimes and scheduled for execution. Grant returns Nemo’s submarine, the infamous Victorian Steampunk marvel Nautilus, and promises a full Presidential pardon if Nemo hunts down and destroys the source of the attacks. Accompanied by the beautiful niece of Grant’s chief advisor, Nemo sets off under the sea in search of answers. Unfortunately, the enemy may be closer than they realize…

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Every Tor Book Coming This Spring

We’re poking out our heads from our winter hibernation to yell about TOR SPRING BOOKS! We are more than ready for the weather to get warm so we can drag this big ol’ stack of books outside. Here’s EVERYTHING coming from Tor this spring:

March 24

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The Poet King by Ilana C. Meyer

After a surprising upheaval, the nation of Tamryllin has a new ruler: Elissan Diar, who proclaims himself the first Poet King. Meanwhile, a civil war rages in a distant land, and former Court Poet Lin Amaristoth gathers allies old and new to return to Tamryllin in time to stop the coronation. For the Poet King’s ascension is connected with a darker, more sinister prophecy which threatens to unleash a battle out of legend unless Lin and her friends can stop it.

 

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A Broken Queen by Sarah Kozloff

Barely surviving her ordeal in Oromondo and scarred by its Fire Spirit, Cerulia is taken to a recovery house in Wyeland to heal from the trauma. In a ward with others who are all bound to serve each other, she discovers that not all scars are visible, and dying can be done with grace and acceptance. While she would like to stay in this place of healing, will she ever be able to the peace she has found to re-take the throne?

 

April 7

The Glass MagicianPlace holder  of - 37 by Caroline Stevermer

Thalia Cutler doesn’t have prolific family connections. What she does know is stage magic and she dazzles audiences with an act that takes your breath away. That is, until one night when a trick goes horribly awry. In surviving she discovers that she can shapeshift, and has the potential to take her place among the rich and powerful. But first, she’ll have to learn to control that power…before the real monsters descend to feast.

 

April 14

Image Place holder  of - 75Queen by Timothy Zahn

Nicole Hammond is a Sibyl, a special human that has the ability to communicate with a strange alien ship called the Fyrantha. However, Nicole and all other sentient creatures are caught up in a war for control between two competing factions. Now, the street-kid turned rebel leader has a plan that would restore freedom to all who have been shanghaied by the strange ship.

 

Poster Placeholder of - 19The Last Emperox by John Scalzi

Emperox Grayland II has finally wrested control of her empire from those who oppose her and who deny the reality of the empirical collapse. But “control” is a slippery thing, and even as Grayland strives to save as many of her people form impoverished isolation, the forces opposing her rule will make a final, desperate push to topple her from her throne and power, by any means necessary. Grayland and her thinning list of allies must use every tool at their disposal to save themselves, and all of humanity. And yet it may not be enough. Will Grayland become the savior of her civilization . . . or the last emperox to wear the crown?

 

April 21

You Let Me In by Camilla Bruce

Cassandra Tipp has left behind no body—just her massive fortune, and one final manuscript. Then again, there are enough bodies in her past.

Cassandra Tipp will tell you a story—but it will come with a terrible price. What really happened, out there in the woods—and who has Cassie been protecting all along? Read on, if you dare…

 

The Cerulean Queen by Sarah Kozloff

The true queen of Weirandale has returned. Cerulia has done the impossible and regained the throne. However, she’s inherited a council of traitors, a realm in chaos, and a war with Oromondo. Now a master of her Gift, to return order to her kingdom she will use all she has learned—humility, leadership, compassion, selflessness, and the necessity of ruthlessness.

 

April 28

Critical Point by S. L. Huang

Math-genius mercenary Cas Russell has stopped a shadow organization from brainwashing the world and discovered her past was deliberately erased and her superhuman abilities deliberately created. And that’s just the start: when a demolitions expert targets Cas and her friends, and the hidden conspiracy behind Cas’s past starts to reappear, the past, present, and future collide in a race to save one of her dearest friends.

 

May 12

Deal with the Devil by Claire Eddy

Nina is an information broker with a mission—she and her team of mercenary librarians use their knowledge to save the hopeless in a crumbling America. Knox is the bitter, battle-weary captain of the Silver Devils. His squad of supersoldiers went AWOL to avoid slaughtering innocents, and now he’s fighting to survive.

They’re on a deadly collision course, and the passion that flares between them only makes it more dangerous. They could burn down the world, destroying each other in the process…Or they could do the impossible: team up.

 

May 19

I Come With Knives by S. A. Hunt

A dangerous serial killer only known as The Serpent is abducting and killing Blackfield residents. An elusive order of magicians known as the Dogs of Odysseus also show up with Robin in their sights. Robin must handle these new threats on top of the menace from the Lazenbury coven, but a secret about Robin’s past may throw all of her plans into jeopardy.

 

Uranus by Ben Bova

On a privately financed orbital habitat above the planet Uranus, political idealism conflicts with pragmatic, and illegal, methods of financing. Add a scientist who has funding to launch a probe deep into Uranus‘s ocean depths to search for signs of life, and you have a three-way struggle for control.

 

May 26

Automatic Reload by Ferrett Steinmetz

In the near-future, automation is king, and Mat is the top mercenary working the black market. He’s your solider’s solider, with military-grade weapons instead of arms…and a haunted past that keeps him awake at night. On a mission that promises the biggest score of his life, he discovers that the top secret shipment he’s been sent to guard is not a package, but a person: Silvia, genetically-altered to be the deadliest woman on the planet—her only weakness is her panic disorder.

 

June 2

Trouble the Saints by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Phyllis LeBlanc has given up everything—not just her own past, and Dev, the man she loved, but even her own dreams. Still, the ghosts from her past are always by her side—and history has appeared on her doorstep to threaten the people she keeps in her heart. And so Phyllis will have to make a harrowing choice, before it’s too late—is there ever enough blood in the world to wash clean generations of injustice?

 

June 9

The Living Dead by George A. Romero and Daniel Kraus

A pair of medical examiners find themselves battling a dead man who won’t stay dead. In a Midwestern trailer park, a Black teenage girl and a Muslim immigrant battle newly-risen friends and family. On a US aircraft carrier, living sailors hide from dead ones while a fanatic makes a new religion out of death. At a cable news station, a surviving anchor keeps broadcasting while his undead colleagues try to devour him. In DC, an autistic federal employee charts the outbreak, preserving data for a future that may never come. Everywhere, people are targeted by both the living and the dead.

 

The Tyrant Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson

The hunt is over. After fifteen years of lies and sacrifice, Baru Cormorant has the power to destroy the Imperial Republic of Falcrest that she pretends to serve. The secret society called the Cancrioth is real, and Baru is among them. But the Cancrioth’s weapon cannot distinguish the guilty from the innocent. If it escapes quarantine, the ancient hemorrhagic plague called the Kettling will kill hundreds of millions…not just in Falcrest, but all across the world. History will end in a black bloodstain.

 

The Shadow Commission by David Mack

November 1963. Cade and Anja have lived in hiding for a decade, training new mages. Then the assassination of President Kennedy trigger a series of murders whose victims are all magicians—with Cade, Anja, and their allies as its prime targets. Their only hope of survival: learning how to fight back against the sinister cabal known as the Shadow Commission.

 

June 16

By Force Alone by Lavie Tidhar

Everyone thinks they know the story of King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table. The fact is they don’t know sh*t.

Arthur? An over-promoted gangster.
Merlin? An eldritch parasite.
Excalibur? A shady deal with a watery arms dealer.
Britain? A clogged sewer that Rome abandoned just as soon as it could.

 

Glorious by Gregory Benford and Larry Niven

Audacious astronauts encounter bizarre, sometimes deadly life forms, and strange, exotic, cosmic phenomena, including miniature black holes, dense fields of interstellar plasma, powerful gravity-emitters, and spectacularly massive space-based, alien-built labyrinths. Tasked with exploring this brave, new, highly dangerous world, they must also deal with their own personal triumphs and conflicts.

 

The Unconquered City by K. A. Doore

Seven years have passed since the Siege—a time when the hungry dead had risen—but the memories still haunt Illi Basbowen. Illi’s worst fears are confirmed when General Barca arrives, bearing news that her fledgling nation, Hathage, also faces this mounting danger. In her search for the source of the guul, the general exposes a catastrophic secret hidden on the outskirts of Ghadid. Illi must travel to Hathage and confront her inner demons in order to defeat a greater one—but how much can she sacrifice to protect everything she knows from devastation?

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$2.99 eBook Sale: Earth by Ben Bova

The ebook edition of Earth by Ben Bova is on sale now for only $2.99! Get your copy today!

Image Place holder  of - 88About Earth:

A wave of lethal gamma radiation is expanding from the core of the Milky Way galaxy at the speed of light, killing everything in its path. The countdown to when the death wave will reach Earth and the rest of the solar system is at two thousand years.

Humans were helped by the Predecessors, who provided shielding generators that can protect the solar system. In return, the Predecessors asked humankind’s help to save other intelligent species that are in danger of being annihilated.

But what of Earth? With the Death Wave no longer a threat to humanity, humans have spread out and colonized all the worlds of the solar system. The technology of the Predecessors has made Earth a paradise, at least on the surface. But a policy of exiling discontented young people to the outer planets and asteroid mines has led to a deep divide between the new worlds and the homeworld, and those tensions are about to explode into open war.

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This sale ends 1/31/2020.

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