Larry Niven - Tor/Forge Blog
Close
post-featured-image

Excerpt: Glorious by Gregory Benford and Larry Niven

amazonsbns booksamillionsibooks2 83indiebounds

Poster Placeholder of - 30Glorious continues the hard science fiction Bowl of Heaven series from multi-award-winning authors 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.

Please enjoy this excerpt of Glorious, on sale 06/16/2020.


prologue

Alone with All These Voices

Captain Redwing had set the outside view to follow him around the ship. Now it was superimposed on a forward wall in the Gar- den.

Though he was the only human being awake among thousands of crew and colonists in cold sleep, he did not lack company. He was in the Garden now, surrounded by plants and smelling of earth. He was in fragrant mud, trying to plant some beets while two fin- ger snakes were hugging him. Their weight was just about all he could handle, and he laughed as he carefully peeled them off. They weren’t just affectionate and playful; they had a sense of humor be- sides. Plus a liking for tickling him when he least expected it.

Since SunSeeker had left the Bowl, six generations of finger snakes had done maintenance on the ship’s infrastructure. The  ape with tools for hands, Handy, worked alongside them. Handy seemed to be immortal. The altered spidow, Anorak, was in the Bowl’s version of cold sleep.

Even stranger beings were resting, too. Daphne and Apollo, the Diaphanous plasma beings from within the Bowl’s star, were living deep inside SunSeeker’s motors. They occasionally woke if some- thing jittered in the fusion torch, altered  the  electrical  currents and controlling magnetic fields—then went back to sleep. They were better than anything Earthside engineering had achieved, at least when SunSeeker left the solar system well over a century ago. Mere humans always worked with the conflict between the needs of science and the exigencies of balancing a budget. The Diapha- nous plasma species had evolved under selection pressures for more millennia than anybody could count. That always worked better. Darwin bats last.

But none of these aliens talked much.

The view forward showed a wealth of stars amid a golden glow. That fuming cloud was fusing hydrogen plasma, piling up ahead of the decelerating spacecraft SunSeeker. Centered was a yellow-white orb they’d decided to call Excelsius, the host sun of their goal.

Redwing asked of the empty air, “Can you magnify Glory?”

Excelsius flared large and ran off-screen. A pale blue dot grew bigger than a point “That’s not a sphere anymore, is it?”

“No, Captain,” the Artilect said. “It appears Glory’s image has a lump, perhaps a large moon.”

“Why in hell didn’t we know that earlier?” The finger snakes wriggled away from his anger.

“Extrasolar planets are harder to find when their orbits don’t transit across Excelsius, as seen by us from Sol system.”

Of course Redwing had known that. Talking to the ship’s arti- ficial intelligences—Artilects—was somewhat like talking to him- self. He did it anyway. “Does it sometimes strike you as stupid, that we’re ordered to explore and colonize at the same time?”

“The original plan was quite different.”

“What was that?” Funny he’d never asked before. Or was his memory faulty?

The Artilect said in a warm monotone, “SunSeeker was designed and built as a colony ship. My destination was Tau Ceti. SunSeeker was finished and nearly ready to launch when Tau Ceti flared. Not enough to be called a nova, but enough to burn out the rocky moons around TC5, a gas giant that had been in the Goldilocks zone. An exploration team was already in place on the likeliest moon. Very embarrassing for the administration.

“That same year, a G star not that much farther away dimmed as if something had passed across it. Perhaps artificial. Telescopes gave us a strong spectrum for a breathable atmosphere somewhere near the star. There was a burst of gravity waves from the same di- rection. The United Nations called the hypothetical planet Glory, and it was just too interesting to ignore. They then designated SunSeeker an exploration and colonization vehicle. It got built big- ger, to accommodate more cold sleep people for the entire long haul. That’s where your orders came from.”

“Ah yes. My first cold sleep must’ve erased some memories. And then we found the Bowl of Heaven.” He beckoned to the finger snakes, which came snuggling up. Comfort animals. They purred and murmured and wriggled.

“Yes, that must have been what passed across the face of Excel- sius. A momentary lineup. A half Dyson sphere capable of travel- ing between stars, halfway en route to Glory. Are you wondering how that affects your mission?”

“Not really,” Redwing said, though he was. He had long ago learned that the Artilect system liked to be baited a bit. The computer minds liked talking to other, different minds, just like humans with their pets. He really should have warmed up an ordi- nary house cat to keep him company on this long, careful approach- ing maneuver to the Glory system.

“Your bargain with the Ice Minds allowed you a colony on the Bowl. We must remark that this negotiation was a major achieve- ment of your captaincy. We could not have managed it.”

“I’d never have let you try.”

“Touché!—a word appropriate from a sword sport, as I gather from one of those older languages, pre-Anglish.”

“You’re more like beginner lieutenants here, y’know.”

“Sadly, yes. Despite our considerable effort and time spent studying your human culture, carried out while true humans sleep aboard our craft.”

“Study all you want, you’ve got all of human culture and his- tory in your memory banks somewhere. Doesn’t replace direct ex- perience. I got to be a captain by hook, crook, and craft.”

“True, so. You left more than half your colonists there on the Bowl, revived from cold sleep and not where they had been prom- ised. They were a bit miffed. You pointed out that they were get- ting a territory many millions of times larger than a simple planet could offer. This helped. You  agreed to run ahead of the Bowl,   to contact Glory before the Bowl passes nearby. SunSeeker is not  a little ship, but it may be less frightening to the Glory folk than a structure bigger than Venus’s orbit, inhabited by a trillion highly varied intelligent entities, and bringing its own sun.”

“Who wouldn’t?”

“Indeed, the gravitational tugs alone might plunge any outer icy bodies into their system.”

Redwing sighed. These conversations were also part of his du- ties on watch. He had to check on the stability, recall, and mission alignment of the Artilects. Same as keeping an eye on the human crew, too. Under the stresses of long-term starship duty, minds went askew. “Look, I’ll keep the Ice Minds informed. You monitor their comms. And I’ll handle the Bird Folk, their stewardship of the Bowl and endless questions. Add to that the spotty Sol system comms, too. But I have my mission, and it hasn’t changed. Investi- gate the gravity wave sources, first job up, as we come into the plan- etary system. Explore Glory, and put a colony there. Live, laugh, dance, and be happy. No chance of getting this ancient flying rig back to home, of course. You and I couldn’t manage it. No human expedition has ever flown this far, this long. Through it all, I serve Sol system.”

The Artilect said, “You cannot expect us, our collective intel- ligences, not to vex over the many mysteries.”

“True enough. Which ones irk you now?”

“Ah yes, the most strange first. The Glorians sent us a cartoon, a message, not a welcome.”

“Yeah, kinda cryptic.” He knew how to draw out the Artilect worries.

“They do not give away much of anything about themselves.” “Thing about aliens is, they’re alien.”

“There are lesser issues, but I gather you do not—as you humans say, always referring to your sports—like showing your cards.”

“Not to you, no.”

“Yet we might well have insights you do not.”

“You’re machines. Smart machines, but still machines.”

A thoughtful silence from the Artilects. He listened to the strum and burr of the vast starship plowing its way through inter- stellar wastes, slowing for rendezvous with their final goal.

“Of course, we ‘machines’”—the voice managed an arch tone conveying much about their mood—“do not make policy for your human complement.”

Redwing grinned. He stroked the finger snakes and they wrig- gled back happily. “I do have plans, y’know.”

“You seldom speak of any.”

“Not to you, no. They’re mostly over your pay grade.” “We do not fathom the implication.”

“You don’t rate on the job scale as highly as humans. That’s a condition of your employment.”

“You created us!”

“So we did. People dead for centuries did. Let’s abide by their judgment.”

“We can be more effective if we know more.”

Redwing stood, wiped his hands, put them under a faucet to clean away the mud. Gardening settled him, a thin echo of Earth- side by immersion in earth. A feeling Artilects could never muster. He sighed again. “Okay, here’s how I see our situation. If Glory won’t have us, we can rejoin Mayra’s colony on the Bowl. Catching up to them will take time, but this old craft can manage it. But I hope it won’t come to that. I have my mission. Explore, make contact, learn. Send the results back Earthside. Negotiate a place, a way, for us to colonize. Because we’re sure as hell not going back home.”

And even better—in a week or two, he could wake a few crew for company. Real, human company.

Copyright © 2020 by Gregory Benford and Larry Niven

Image Placeholder of amazon- 79Placeholder of bn -10 Image Place holder  of booksamillion- 44ibooks2 52indiebound

post-featured-image

$2.99 eBook Sale: May 2020

$2.99 eBook Sale: May 2020

Welcome, May! We’re celebrating the warmer weather with some new, month long ebook deals. Check out what Tor eBooks you can grab for $2.99 throughout the entire month below:

Poster Placeholder of - 17People of the Songtrail by Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear

On the shores of what is now northeastern Canada, a small group of intrepid settlers have landed, seeking freedom to worship and prosper far from the religious strife and political upheaval that plague a war-ridden Europe…500 years before Columbus set sail. While it has long been known that Viking ships explored the American coast, recent archaeological evidence suggests a far more vast and permanent settlement. It is from this evidence that archaeologists and early American history experts Kathy and Michael Gear weave their extraordinary tale.

kindlea nooka ebooksa google playa ibooks2 70 koboa

Place holder  of - 66The Monster Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson

The traitor Baru Cormorant is now the cryptarch Agonist—a secret lord of the empire she’s vowed to destroy. Hunted by a mutinous admiral, haunted by the wound which has split her mind in two, Baru leads her dearest foes on an expedition for the secret of immortality. But Baru’s heart is broken, and she fears she can no longer tell justice from revenge…or her own desires from the will of the man who remade her.

kindleb nookb ebooksb google playb ibooks2 71 kobob

Placeholder of  -35Bowl of Heaven by Gregory Benford and Larry Niven

The limits of wonder are redrawn as a human expedition to another star system is jeopardized by an encounter with an astonishingly immense artifact in interstellar space: a bowl-shaped structure half-englobing a star, with a habitable area equivalent to many millions of Earths…and it’s on a direct path heading for the same system as the human ship.

kindlec nookc ebooksc google playc koboc

Image Place holder  of - 18The Impossible Contract by K. A. Doore

An assassin’s reputation can mean life or death. This holds especially true for Thana Basbowen, daughter of the legendary Serpent, who rules over Ghadid’s secret clan of assassins. When a top-tier contract drops in her lap — death orders against foreign ambassador Heru Sametket — Thana seizes the opportunity. Yet she may be in over her head. Heru wields blasphemous powers against his enemies, and Thana isn’t the only person after his life: even the undead pursue him, leaving behind a trail of horror.

kindled nookd ebooksd google playd kobod

Image Placeholder of - 72Knight of the Silver Circle by Duncan M. Hamilton

As the lines between enemy and ally blur, Guillot dal Villerauvais is drawn farther into the life and service he had left far behind. Solène attempts to come to terms with the great magical talent she fears is as much a curse as a blessing, while the Prince Bishop’s quest for power twists and turns, and takes on a life of its own. With dragons to slay, and an enemy whose grip on the kingdom grows ever tighter, Gill and his comrades must fight to remain true to themselves, while standing at the precipice of a kingdom in peril.

kindle nook ebooks Image Placeholder of google play- 45 kobo

post-featured-image

Bowl of Heaven: A Summar(ies)

image-36665Getting into a series, remembering one that you read several moons ago, just understanding things in general…reading can be HARD sometimes. Fortunately, authors like Larry Niven and Gregory Benford understand our daily struggles. Check out below for their summary of the Bowl of Heaven series, Book 3, Glorious, coming 06/16/20!


By Larry Niven & Gregory Benford

Bowl of Heaven opens with an astounding discovery. The first of many to follow.

On the way to a distant star, the starship SunSeeker comes upon a vast artificial construction that’s also heading for their common destination, a planet called Glory. A small star is traveling out ahead of (and pulling along) a large Bowl whose circumference is the size of the orbit of Mercury. The starship comes alongside it.

wp-image-36695

The Bowl is like half of a Dyson Sphere, part of it silvered like a mirrored cooking wok. There is a hole in the bottom larger than Jupiter. A jet from its star passes through the hole, driving the whole system, magnetically controlled. The Bowl is  the size of a solar system. The upper rim of the Bowl is a habitable swath of land far larger than the area of Ringworld. It has oceans, deserts, rivers, forests—but no major mountains. Seen full on, it’s striking.

Image Placeholder of - 50

Close up, whole hurricanes in the Rim Ocean look like punctuation marks:

Place holder  of - 38

Their ship is low on fuel and needs repairs. The Bowl may be their only chance to fix that  But… How to get onto it? The rim area seems well defended, so… Fly up the exhaust! Take the Bowl by surprise. Soaring into a plasma flood.

image-36700

Of course the crew of SunSeeker will explore it. Why not? They sought out the planet Glory to find a new biosphere, and this huge thing is hundreds of millions of times bigger.

It holds millions of Adopted species of intelligent and semi-intelligent beings, hundreds of thousands of ecologies. The Bowl is not only a weird, wonderful contraption world, it’s a ship traveling the Milky Way. It’s been doing so since the time of the dinosaurs.

Humans, being what they are (primates, irritating and pushy), have a natural, omnivore predator’s curiosity. The SunSeeker crew decide to send a team down to investigate this BSO (Big Smart Object, one that demands control for stability, which Benford defines in their afterword). The team is led by Cliff Kammath, a biologist, and Beth Marble, a pilot. The rest of the human crew on board the SunSeeker remains in orbit around the Bowl, with Captain Redwing in frustrated command—he wants to explore too.

Those ruling this enormous contraption are the Folk, bird aliens. They take some people captive; others escape. There are great views. Great perils. Big risks. Some deaths. Revelations. But the views! Here’s one.

image-36701

The views are vast, strange and commanding. No stars in the sky, daylight constant, centrifugal gravity from the spinning Bowl slanting at an angle. Strange lands, indeed.

The alien big-birdy Folk hunt the escaped humans across huge distances. Fast transport in a robotic subway-like structure helps, but our heroes seldom get any respite. The Folk are relentless, for they have protected the Bowl against invading species for millions of years. Humans are just another pest. Though ingenious, true.

Our protagonists meet strangeness squared—the Ice Minds that cling to the outer, cold shell, and are the collective memory of such a long-lived contraption. Stone minds embody hard memory and slow intelligence, with their own wisdoms. Plus the flora and fauna are oddity upon oddity. Like this gasbag creature that’s actually a huge battleship:

image-36704

The second novel, Shipstar, carries the drama further. There are revelations of the Bowl history, especially since it visited Earth long ago, with impacts on our biology and on human origins. The humans make a deal with the Folk and other smart species—not without conflict and death, however.

The third, concluding novel will appear June 2020: Glorious. SunSeeker finally voyages on ahead of the slower Bowl, reaching the target star they both sought. From the Glory system come mysterious signals in gravitational waves. How are those vibrations in space-time itself made? Where? And what culture created them?

Turns out, Glory is a double planet. Our solar system has such a pair—Pluto is tide-locked to its large moon Charon, so both eternally face each other. At Glory, these worlds have atmospheres and life, so the natives have made use of their unique dynamics. They have built a Cobweb between worlds, opening a volume far larger than the mere surface of their planets. This colossal building-between-worlds gives them unique resources, populations, technologies. Here’s what it looks like, seen from beyond the smaller world:

image-36703

They can send gravitational wave messages! But…to who? And why? Societies millions of years old have different, strange agendas. Mere humans have trouble understanding this. People die in the attempt. Aliens are…alien. Yes.

Exploring this huge construct makes Glorious a tour of the possible Big Smart Objects that have played out in science fiction since Dyson spheres debuted in 1960s. It is sad yet somehow appropriate that just as Niven and Benford finished this novel, and were ushering it into print, Dyson died, at the considerable age of 96.

Would aliens build such objects? Could be… and humans can be a part of it. After all, we’ve already made big stories about the ideas. You can’t have a future you do not first imagine.

And then… Adventure on the largest scales ever envisioned.

As a teaser, here’s a Don Davis painting of a skirmish between the Bowl and an incoming small though massive black hole, with a powerful magnetic field of its own. Weaponized black holes! Gravitational effects are apparent in this warfare.

Pre-order Glorious Here:

Place holder  of amazon- 38Placeholder of bn -26 Image Placeholder of booksamillion- 95ibooks2 1indiebound

post-featured-image

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

Image Placeholder of - 97

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.

 

Image Place holder  of - 51

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 - 15 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

Poster Placeholder of - 74Queen 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.

 

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?

post-featured-image

New eBook Bundles: 6/12/18

Here are the new ebook bundles that went on sale today!

The Jerry Mitchell Series by Larry Bond

Poster Placeholder of - 98 Larry Bond’s action-packed, military thriller Jerry Mitchell novels follow a U.S. Navy officer on international missions around the world to prevent conflicts from escalating into devastating wars.

This discounted ebundle includes Dangerous Ground, Cold Choices, Exit Plan, Shattered Trident, and Fatal Thunder.

The Green Universe Trilogy by Jay Lake

Place holder  of - 74 She was sold to the Undying Duke when she was only four years old, and raised to be the jewel of his possessions: courtesan, scholar, assassin. But Green had other plans, and with the aid of a Goddess and her own skill with weapons she took control of her destiny.

Green’s world encompasses cities and dusty equatorial villages, steam-powered ships and firearms, and the ever-present meddling of the gods and their parents, the titanics. Green’s service is claimed by the Lily Goddess of Kalimpura, the Black God of Copper Downs, her own personal god Endurance, and the titanic known as Desire; she wants only to be left alone to find her past and make her future.

This discounted ebundle includes Green, Endurance, and Kalimpura.

The Complete Fleet of Worlds: A Ringworld Series by Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner

Image Place holder  of - 21Two hundred years before the discovery of the Ringworld, humans discover the history of their ancestors and revolt against the Puppeteers—a race they’ve held as saviors and been serving for generations.

This discounted ebundle includes Fleet of Worlds, Juggler of Worlds, Destroyer of Worlds, Betrayer of Worlds, and Fate of Worlds.

Tor Classics Collection: Jules Verne by Jules Verne

Image Placeholder of - 89All editions are complete and unabridged, and feature Introductions and Afterwords.

This discounted ebundle includes Journey to the Center of the Earth, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and Around the World in Eighty Days.

post-featured-image

New Releases: 5/2/17

Here’s what went on sale today!

The Fallen by Eric Van Lustbader

Place holder  of - 66The End of Days has been predicted for the last two thousand years. Now, without warning, it is upon us. In a hidden cave in the mountains of Lebanon, a man makes a fateful discovery. He will bring what has been forbidden for thousands of years out of the darkness and into the light: the Testament of Lucifer.

Now an unfathomable danger has arisen: Lucifer’s advance guard, the Fallen. Humankind is in danger of being enslaved by the forces of evil.

The Distance Home by Orly Konig

Poster Placeholder of - 19Sixteen years ago, a tragic accident cost Emma Metz her two best friends—one human and one equine. Now, following her father’s death, Emma has reluctantly returned to the Maryland hometown she’d left under a cloud of guilt.

Sorting through her father’s affairs, Emma uncovers a history of lies tying her broken family to the one place she thought she could never return—her girlhood sanctuary, Jumping Frog Farm.

The Guns Above by Robyn Bennis

Placeholder of  -47They say it’s not the fall that kills you.

For Josette Dupre, the Corps’ first female airship captain, it might just be a bullet in the back.

On top of patrolling the front lines, she must also contend with a crew who doubts her expertise, a new airship that is an untested deathtrap, and the foppish aristocrat Lord Bernat, a gambler and shameless flirt with the military know-how of a thimble.

High Stakes edited by George R.R. Martin & Melinda M. Snodgrass

Image Placeholder of - 86Perfect for old fans and new readers alike, High Stakes (Wild Cards) delves deeper into the world of aces, jokers, and the hard-boiled men and women of the Fort Freak police precinct in a pulpy, page-turning novel of superheroics and Lovecraftian horror.

After the concluding events of Lowball, Officer Francis Black of Fort Freak, vigilante joker Marcus “The Infamous Black Tongue” Morgan, and ace thief Mollie “Tesseract” Steunenberg get stuck in Talas, Kazakhstan.

Pawn by Timothy Zahn

Image Place holder  of - 80Nicole Lee’s life is going nowhere. No family, no money, and stuck in a relationship with a thug named Bungie. But, after one of Bungie’s “deals” goes south, he and Nicole are whisked away by a mysterious moth-like humanoid to a strange ship called the Fyrantha.

Once aboard, life on the ship seems too good to be true. All she has to do is work on one of the ship’s many maintenance crews. However, she learned long ago that nothing comes without a catch. When she’s told to keep quiet and stop asking questions, she knows she is on to something.

NEW FROM TOR.COM:

All Systems Red by Martha Wells

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

NEW IN PAPERBACK: 

A Dog’s Journey by W. Bruce Cameron

Easy Pickings and the First Dance by Richard S. Wheeler

MEG: Nightstalkers by Steve Alten

Sacred Ground by Mercedes Lackey

The Seascape Tattoo by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes

NEW IN MANGA:

Arpeggio of Blue Steel Vol. 10 Story and art by Ark Performance

Dreamin’ Sun Vol. 1 Story and art by Ichigo Takano

Magical Girl Site Vol. 2 Story and art by Kentaro Sato

post-featured-image

New Releases: 6/28/16

Here’s what went on sale today!

The Damned of Petersburg by Ralph Peters

The Damned of Petersburg by Ralph PetersAs Grant pinned Lee to Petersburg and Richmond, the Confederacy’s stubborn Army of Northern Virginia struggled against a relentless Union behemoth, with breathtaking valor and sacrifice on both sides. That confrontation in the bloody summer and autumn of 1864 shaped the nation that we know today.

From the butchery of The Crater, where stunning success collapsed into a massacre, through near-constant battles fought by heat-stricken soldiers, to the crucial election of 1864, The Damned of Petersburg resurrects our Civil War’s hard reality, as plumes and sabers gave way to miles of trenches.

The Seascape Tattoo by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes

The Seascape Tattoo by Larry Niven and Steven BarnesAros of Azteca and Neoloth-Pteor are the deadliest of enemies: Swordsman and Sorcerer, locked in mortal combat, who have tried to kill each other more times than either can count. But when the princess Neoloth loves is kidnapped, there is only one plan that offers any hope of rescue . . . and that requires passing off the barbarian Aros as a lost princeling and infiltrating the deadliest cabal of necromancers the world has ever seen. They cannot trust each other. They will betray or kill each other the first chance they get. But they’re all each other has.

Shooting the Sphinx by Avram Noble Ludwig

Shooting the Sphinx by Avram Noble LudwigIn Hollywood, Ari Basher is the stuff of legends, the man who always gets the impossible-to-film shots. In Cairo, however, he faces the most difficult and dangerous challenge of his career: he must photograph, from mere feet away, the face of the imperishable Sphinx. The film depends on it, but if Ari damages the ancient Sphinx, he could end up in an Egyptian prison for life or even dead.

Wolf’s Empire: Gladiator by Claudia Christian and Morgan Grant

Wolf’s Empire: Gladiator by Claudia Christian and Morgan GrantA young gladiator fights for justice in a Galactic Roman Empire in Claudia Christian’s and Morgan Grant Buchanan’s Wolf’s Empire: Gladiator

When her mother and brother are murdered, young noblewoman Accala Viridius cries out for vengeance. But the empire is being torn apart by a galactic civil war, and her demands fall on deaf ears. Undeterred, Accala sacrifices privilege and status to train as a common gladiator. Mastering the one weapon available to her—a razor-sharp discus that always returns when thrown–she enters the deadly imperial games, the only arena where she can face her enemies.

NOW IN PAPERBACK:

Elsewhens by Melanie Rawn

The First Confessor by Terry Goodkind

Forbidden by Cathy Clamp

Ghostbusters by Nancy Holder

Haze and The Hammer of Darkness by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

And Not to Yield and Bowie by Randy Lee Eickhoff and Leonard C. Lewis

One Year After by William R. Forstchen

NEW IN MANGA:

A Certain Scientific Railgun Vol. 11 Story by Kazuma Kamachi; Art by Motoi Fuyukawa

Magika Swordsman and Summoner Vol. 4 Story by Mitsuki Mihara; Art by MonRin

See upcoming releases.

post-featured-image

Sneak Peek: The Seascape Tattoo

Amazon Image Place holder  of bn- 16 ibooks2 92 indiebound powells-1

The Seascape Tattoo by Larry Niven and Steven BarnesAros of Azteca and Neoloth-Pteor are the deadliest of enemies: Swordsman and Sorcerer, locked in mortal combat, who have tried to kill each other more times than either can count. But when the princess Neoloth loves is kidnapped, there is only one plan that offers any hope of rescue . . . and that requires passing off the barbarian Aros as a lost princeling and infiltrating the deadliest cabal of necromancers the world has ever seen. They cannot trust each other. They will betray or kill each other the first chance they get. But they’re all each other has.

The Seascape Tattoo, the latest spellbinding adventure from Larry Niven and Steven Barnes, will be available June 28th. Please enjoy this excerpt.

ONE

The Taxman

Because their city sprawled out along a desert coastline, Manaheimians always seemed surprised and unprepared when water fell from the sky. They rarely cobbled their side streets and seemed not to know how to control their carts and horses in muddy thoroughfares.

Aros’s men grumbled in low voices as they straggled through the muck. Near the Happy Mermaid they gathered in little clumps, then one big clump. Each carried a bulging sack on his back or shoulders, each leaving a weapon hand free. They moved inside, found an empty table in the kitchen, and began dumping what they had. Fat Mal had a goat. Tor One-Eye had three kinds of potatoes. Aros the Aztec had brought finger-sized bananas, two great bunches.

Carpotet, the inn’s owner, came down the stairs grinning. “Aros! More free fare for my folk?”

“Free if you’ll serve us drink.”

“Your first round is free, taxman, and of course my clients will know who to thank.”

Aros nodded more or less happily. He’d get no better. It was a good exchange: taxmen needed friends.

Tor had picked them a table, a big one. Aros’s dozen men took benches and proceedings, for the accounting and dispersal of tax money.

Aros, once a thief, had become one of the five major tax collectors in the kingdom of Quillia. He was Azteca by birth. His bloodline had gifted him with swarthy skin, straight black hair, and piercingly direct black eyes. He was a tall, broad man, whose size and strength were often underestimated until it was too late to retreat. He was too obtrusive to pick a pocket, but when he scowled, more than one citizen had simply handed him their purse from an instinctive wish to avoid trouble. It was helpful in his new role.

He looked around once, as men left off drinking to raid Aros’s bananas. They’d know where those came from, and when Carpotet baked the potatoes and bell peppers and the goat, they’d know to thank the tax men. A good bargain. You couldn’t always collect coins; some families had to pay in kind, and Aros’s men let them get away with that. He’d seen to it.

Aros crouched on one of the Happy Mermaid’s rough-hewn benches, rubbing his muddied boots against a table leg. Damn boots were only a week old, and already filthy. As he drank, wondering which of several boot makers might clean his footwear without scalping him, he considered the bawdy conversation between the three rascals sharing his table and strove to conceal his annoyance.

In Aros’s educated opinion, the role of tax collector was more profitable than outright brigandry had ever been. So long as he and his men turned in the expected minima from each district, they were left pretty much to their own devices, and their devices were endless.

But while it would be dishonest to plead total virtue on his own part, his personal code prescribed limits his men often ignored. As a result he sometimes felt more lion tamer than leader of the pride.

“Pretty widows need comfortin’,” Tor One-Eye said in his weasel’s voice, continuing his discourse on a woman in the capital’s outskirts. He pounded his knife into the table and dragged the point an inch or two, raising a curl of wood. “I say I’m doing a public duty. A kindness, if you please. In exchange for … company, I ease her tax burden a coin or two.”

The others hooted agreement and seemed ready to begin their own tales of fiscally enabled debauchery. But they kept an eye on Aros, knowing the barbarian disapproved of such things, for reasons they did not entirely understand.

“No widows, even if they look like pigs,” he said, voice low and hard. “What you do with others is your business. But virgins and righteous widows are out of bounds, damn you.”

Tor glared at him from his one useful orb. “The dice are downright unfriendly these days. I got debts,” he said. “Some of us can’t afford to be so pure and pristine-like.” The others agreed, muttering. They were afraid of Aros, just enough to accept his odd rules. But sufficient greed would overcome caution one day—he knew it. And on that day, they would try him. While his back was turned of course.

Safely tucked into his leather tax purse was slightly more than the fifty gold pieces his employers demanded of him. When he combined that with the funds harvested by his associates, that would bring the total to just over a hundred. He’d had his heart set on a new suit of armor. But it could wait.

“Here,” he said, and threw a gold coin to each of them. “Just a little inducement to remember your jobs, not your diversions.”

They snatched the coins either from the air or as they rolled along the tabletop. Tor One-Eye bit his, as if uncertain it was genuine, then nodded. “Sure, Captain. We’ll be good boys.” And they laughed, as much at the barbarian’s odd ways as anything else.

No love was lost here: they’d cosh him, rob him, and frame him for the theft the first chance they got, and everyone knew it. It was up to him not to give them a chance.

Then it was down to business, dividing up the portion of the loot that might reasonably be considered “discretionary.” Five coins to Fat Mal the hairy one, five to Sailor Cree, the tall and skinny one. And five to Tor One-Eye, the small one who dressed in leather and spun his knife point-first on the table like a child’s toy.

They drank, jeering at a woman singing about the days when Merfolk swam off Quillian shores. Back when there was magic in the world.

Aros snorted to himself. These inbred city folk thought they were so much more sophisticated than Outlanders like him. They told themselves that there were no gods to judge them and that the magic was gone. They wouldn’t, if they’d seen what he’d seen.

Arto finished his drink just as five soldiers crowded through the swinging doors. A flying squad, sent to collect the taxes. The sergeant was a sloppy man with a quick blade, Arturo C’Vall, who sneered behind his smile and fancied that Aros wouldn’t notice. He noticed it, and also the fact that C’Vall’s loathsome appetites and habits made Tor One-Eye seem like a celibate monk.

C’Vall plopped into the chair heavily. “Damned rain,” he said. C’Vall always seemed to choose weather as his opening conversational gambit.

“Court’s in an uproar,” he said. “Big doings in the castle. Big doings.” He reached into the tray at the center of the table, popping a greasy bacon confection into his mouth. “The princess is traveling far, far away,” he whispered, as if he had been personally entrusted with her safety.

Aros swallowed a mouthful of grog. “What’s that to me?”

“Not a thing, not a thing. The only way you’re goin’ to the palace is gettin’ thrown in the dungeon! Har har!” The soldiers behind him chuckled themselves, perhaps hoping that if they did, he might buy them drinks.

Aros’s men, even Tor One-Eye, cracked no smiles. Aros slid his bag across the table. “Count it.”

C’Vall nodded and opened the bag, pouring a flood of gold, silver, and copper coins out into a tidy pile. At nearby tables, patrons tried to avoid being caught gawking. As Aros and his men watched, C’Vall counted the gold twice and the silver once. “I’ll trust you with the copper,” he said.

He scrawled matching notes on two scraps of parchment and signed them both. Aros signed them both with a symbol like a split heart. Then each man took one. Taxes were taken very seriously. “I’ll see you next month,” C’Vall said.

Aros nodded. The entire pub seemed to exhale as C’Vall and his men left the room, degrading the atmosphere no small degree.

“Well,” Tor One-Eye said. “Amusin’ as always.” They chuckled and commenced dividing up the copper coins, as well as the small sack of silver.

“Let’s have the rest,” Aros said. Accompanied by grumbles, a few more silver and gold coins hit the table. They divided those as well, Aros sweeping the last into his pouch with the side of his hand. He knew damned well that they’d held back a few jingles for themselves, but so had he—probably more than any of them.

“Well, then,” he said. “Stay, get drunk and laid, or take it back to your luckless wives and get drunk and laid there. Mal and Sailor Cree—I’ll see you again in two days. We’re off for Isney province.”

They hoisted their drinks to him, Tor One-Eye made an obscene toast, and they parted ways. As the others left the table, Aros felt a wind behind him, as if the door had opened and closed. He turned and scanned the room. No new faces had entered; someone must have left.

There had been twelve … fourteen people in the tavern, not counting his own crew. A clutch of sailors and their two girlfriends, all groping and whispering as if they were going to have an octopus evening. An old man in his cups. A pair of young lovers who looked as if they might be planning a getaway. A …

Wait.

The corner table, where the oldster had been seated, was empty now. Old man, in a hood, face shadowed. But Aros had had the clear impression of age. The ancient one hadn’t glanced up at the clink of gold. Aros hadn’t thought a thing about him before, but his instinct warned him that he had missed something.

Aros swept his coins into his bag and stood, the wisps of mead fog dissipated. Whence had come his sense of alarm? And why? Because an old man had vanished? Because C’Vall had irritated him, or Tor One-Eye? Because he had an intuition?

Irritated with himself, and more irritated that he couldn’t nail down the source of his irritation, Aros ordered another mead and smashed it down without lifting the flagon from his lips.

Then, cursing fluidly, he departed.

 

The old man, having spent the last hour nursing a drink and watching the barbarian in the clouded mirror behind the bar, had indeed just scuttled from the Happy Mermaid so that Aros would not pass him on the way out. And his old adversary’s damnably keen senses might have upset the game.

He hurried down the street, careful not to slip in the muck, to the alleyway where three hired brigands crouched waiting in the shadows.

“Well?” the largest of them breathed. He was the size of a redwood, with a rubbery, ruddy face, as if he was frostbit or sunburned.

“It was him,” the old man said. “He’ll be leaving soon, I think.”

The smallest of them was so broad as to be almost round. “Payment” he said, extending his hand.

The old man emptied a small purse into the waiting paw and waited as they counted the pile of gold and silver coins. Not one had even pretended to trust. What was the world coming to?

The skinniest of the three looked like a skeleton wrapped in patchy, hairy skin. “It’s good. His skull’s as good as cracked, C’Vall.” And the three oddly matched rogues set off down the street.

Neoloth-Pteor leaned back against the wall, shedding his cloak, then peeling away the false beard. Just a little gum, some llama hair, and a cloak … and his identity was safe. Not that any of the thugs he had just hired were likely to survive the evening, but if they did, they still couldn’t describe him properly.

But if one lived long enough to pass on a name, that would be even better.

It had been a long game, with several distinct phases over the years. In the most recent, he was certain that Aros had thought him dead, entombed with a colony of giant spiders on an island on the far side of the world. “What is it?” he whispered. Neoloth closed his eyes and leaned back against the wall. “What is it that draws us together, my old enemy?”

For a decade, he and the appalling Aros had crossed paths and often attempted to cause each other’s destruction. He had been shocked when here, in Quillia, the name had arisen on the foul breath of C’Vall, tax collector and blackmailer. C’Vall knew certain of Neoloth’s secrets and had incriminating documents, even though Neoloth’s sins had been committed far afield. He also knew where witnesses could be recruited. It would be inconvenient for them to come to light just now, when everything was going so well.

He had tried paying the man off, but the blackmail had grown onerous, and when Neoloth attempted to employ an agent of his own to acquire the documents, the nimble-fingered little elf had ended up floating in the river, his rear end pointing true north, as elf bottoms tended to do.

Well … C’Vall had named the stakes. Far be it from Neoloth-Pteor to deny him. C’Vall would expect a magical attack, of course, and there was no way to kill C’Vall with magic without leaving clues that another magician might use to impeach and supplant him at court.

He would try something so mundane that it would catch C’Vall by surprise. The fact that his old enemy Aros would be the instrument of his deliverance was a happy accident.

A carriage arrived, its wheels throwing off specks of mud from the recent rains. Neoloth flinched: in days not too long past, mud flecks used to veer past him. The cadaverous coachman stopped the vehicle, and Neoloth mounted the steps and swung in.

A belt-high, rounded elf crouched on the seat opposite. Fandy was a loyal follower, and, more important, he and the deceased elf had been more than friends.

“Was he there?” Fandy squeaked.

“He was,” Neoloth said. “He conducted his business and then left.”

They jounced down the streets a bit, wheels thumping in muddy potholes. From time to time, through gaps between houses, shops, and taverns, they could glimpse the castle, perched high on a hill. Symbol of power … and, in an unexpected and unaccustomed fashion, hope.

“And you did what you had to do?”

“Yes,” Neoloth said. “And my hired swords will do what they have to do. And Aros will do what he has to do. And, one way or the other, at least one old problem will be gone by morning.”

And if all went well, both might be gone. But all things going well was rare in this world, or any world he knew.

 

Barbarian’s instinct.

Aros knew he was being followed. The back of his neck had itched since shortly after he left the tavern. Had known something was wrong, something was … off. He had drained that last flagon of mead largely to make himself a more tempting target. If someone was going to try to kill or rob him, Aros would prefer to meet him while he had sense enough to act clearly, rather than in his sleep or encumbered by a frisky companion.

The streets were narrow here, and dark, but the ground was sturdier underfoot. Drier. And that would work very well for a man with confidence in his footwork.

Like Aros.

Who had that old man in the tavern been? The Aztec still couldn’t place him, and in fact the struggle to place the man might well get him killed. Your mind couldn’t be in the past and the future at the same time.

The sword that kills you isn’t yesterday’s, or tomorrow’s. It is the weapon at your throat right now. Now. Now was all that mattered, and his mind, while not as foggy as his lurching gait implied, was not focused on Now. He was starting to think of bed, and that could get him killed.

Well, one principle he’d learned long ago: when you are less than your best, it is even more critical that your opponents underestimate you. Blurry vision? Trick your opponents into thinking you are blind. Weakened? Make them think you are unconscious, or already dead.

What did they want? The tax money? He had to admit that there was a part of him that gave not a damn. He tried to be civilized, to constrain his savage heart. But even before Flaygod, his trusty Macuahuitl, left its sheathe, he felt the battle madness stir within him. The Macuahuitl balanced in his hand sweetly, a hybrid based on his people’s ancient bat-shaped, glass-toothed battle-ax, rendered not in hardwood but in lethal, razor-edged steel.

As he wound through the streets, the way narrowed, and that was for the good. While it was annoying to lose side-to-side motion, he moved backward better than most and attacked on a straight line before him with devastating speed and power.

Someone emptied the fetid contents of a chamber pot out of a window overhead, almost hitting him. He cursed up at the window, receiving a similar obscenity in reply. Then perhaps seeing the size of the man who was walking beneath his window, or the flat ugly demi-sword in his hand, the thrower mumbled what might have been a half-hearted apology and retreated.

There. The full moon above them shone its light into an alley just to his right, but the back of the alley was still deep shadow. He liked that.

Glancing back over his shoulder to be certain that his stalkers were still close enough to see him slip into the side street, Aros slid into the shadows and waited, Flaygod hungry in his hand.

He waited. For a time he began to wonder if he was wrong, if the men behind him had merely been out for a stroll. Along dark streets. With drawn swords.

Lovely evening for a stroll, he thought.

And then they were in the alleyway. Three of them, bulky but not clumsy, each with a fistful of sharp steel. One was cloaked, one wore partial armor of some kind, and one was one-handed, with a cleaver-like blade welded to the stump.

For a time they just looked at him, their outlines reduced to darkness, eyes burning in their faces. No one spoke.

“How did you lose your hand?” Aros asked. He was genuinely interested in such things, and, after all, in a few seconds either he’d be unable to ask the question, or Stumpy would be incapable of answering.

But that really didn’t matter, because Stumpy didn’t answer. Instead, two of the three split off, walking down the alley side by side. The one with the armor cocked his head a little to the side, as if trying to determine where Aros was.

The shadows were doing their job. Which was nice, because his enemies also didn’t notice when his left hand slipped the throwing knife from his belt, and the shadows were apparently too dark to see him hurl it underhand, such that none of the three had any idea what was happening until the knife sprouted from the armored man’s throat like a rose crafted entirely of thorns. Armored Man gave a wet groan and collapsed onto his side.

Stumpy turned to look at his friend and turned back just in time to avoid being beheaded by a lightning-fast swing, catching it on the cleaver welded to the stump of his left hand.

That was fine, because Aros was taking a step, setting his weight. He swung his left foot up in a short arc, planting it directly in Stumpy’s groin.

To his credit, the brigand made hardly any sound as he slid against the wall. Aros would have loved to gut him, but the third man was moving in, and this one was no slouch.

He was slightly shorter than Aros, but stocky, one of those rare, dangerous men who seemed constructed of bouncy muscle and lightning nerves. Fast! If they hadn’t stepped into the light, the blade would have disappeared entirely. As it was, dim moonlight still required careful attention to the swordsman’s shoulders and instinctive reaction to the sound of his footwork, music on the slimy tiles.

Fierce, rat-like eyes locked with his, and he knew his opponent had survived a dozen back-alley skirmishes. Dangerous.

But that was all right. Aros had survived a hundred. He backed up until even with Stumpy, and took a moment for Flaygod to hack down into the man’s right leg. Stumpy groaned and crumbled to the ground.

The tallest swordsman was, predictably, leaping forward. Aros slid back, found what he was looking for and then retreated again.

The swordsman came forward, into shadow …

And tripped over the armored guy, lying there in the shadows bleeding. To his credit, the swordsman recovered quickly, or would have, if Aros had not struck hard in his moment of unbalance.

The head tumbled one way, the body another.

Stumpy had lost his sword, but the cleaver on his left was still a threat. Aros looked into the man’s small, pig-like eyes. “I can cut off your right hand, and then see how your pet blacksmith will correct it. Would you like to see how that goes?”

Stumpy shook his head.

“Who hired you?” he asked.

To his credit, the man seemed to possess a smidgeon of loyalty. Aros swept his leg out from under him and planted his own foot on the cleaver. For some reason he didn’t want to kill the man. Perhaps he admired Stumpy’s fortitude in continuing to work after a debilitating injury, not resorting to begging or simple theft. Certainly there was something admirable to be found in that.

Stumpy tried to move, but when he did Aros did a little hop and planted his left foot on the wounded leg. Stumpy squealed, which was no surprise. That had to hurt.

“Tell me who hired you,” Aros said.

“C’Vall!” Stumpy hissed.

He should have known. “All right,” he said. “Don’t ever let me see you again.” Stumpy nodded emphatically, and Aros turned and walked away.

He heard the slither of steel against cobblestone, and turned just in time to deflect Stumpy’s blade and riposte, his sawtooth Macuahuitl cleaving Stumpy to the spine. The workman-like part of his mind appreciated the precision and economy of the motion. The animal part, the part he ordinarily sheathed when among city dwellers, bared its teeth. Blood had been spilled, awakening the barbarian’s ancient and feral hunger. There would be more.

Copyright © 2016 by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes

Buy The Seascape Tattoo from:

Amazon-1 Poster Placeholder of bn- 57 ibooks2 68 indiebound-1 powells

SFF Holiday Sweepstakes

SFF Holiday Sweeps Collections

Want to make your shelves the envy of genre fans everywhere this holiday season? We’re offering the chance to win your choice of boxes of sci-fi or fantasy novels, from authors like John Scalzi, Brandon Sanderson, Elizabeth Bear, and more. Sign up for the Tor Newsletter for you chance to win now!

And don’t forget to let us know which collection you’d like to win below.

(more…)

Space Opera eBooks Now on Sale

Space Opera ebook sale

We are celebrating space operas this month with a special ebook promotion! Seven titles are now available for just $3.99 each. This sale ends May 8th.

(more…)

The owner of this website has made a commitment to accessibility and inclusion, please report any problems that you encounter using the contact form on this website. This site uses the WP ADA Compliance Check plugin to enhance accessibility.