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Our Favorite Non-Humanoid Aliens

Our Favorite Non-Humanoid Aliens

the three body problem by cixin liuA while back, we put together a kickin’ list of aliens who might not be able to ‘kick’ in the traditional ‘human’ sense of the word, because they are not humanoids. Now, with the new Netflix series of Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem captivating audiences across the galaxy, we thought it’d be a great time to bring this important piece of literary listicle writing back to the forefront. Because it’s an important piece of science fiction but also because of the Trisolarans, a notably unhuman species of extraterrestrial entities.

Check that list out below!


by Emily Hughes

The idea that any aliens the human race might encounter will look even vaguely humanoid is so tired. While the proliferation of humanoid aliens in science fiction is understandable – it can be hard to conceive of creatures so foreign we might not even recognize them as sentient. But it does happen! Here are five more of our favorite non-humanoid aliens in sci-fi.

The Ghorf (Knight by Timothy Zahn)

Placeholder of  -67When Nicole first wakes up on board the ship Fyrantha, she’s understandably a little unsettled by the appearance of Kahkitah, a bipedal shark-like alien who seems to be made of melted down glass marbles. But these chondrichthian creatures aren’t nearly as fierce as they look – mostly they serve as counsel and muscle on the densely-populated, living spacecraft.

Rainbow Bamboo (Semiosis by Sue Burke)

Place holder  of - 2Semiosis is a first-contact novel about plants, and at its heart is the relationship between the human settlers on the planet Pax, and a species of plant known as rainbow bamboo, which has a collective consciousness that takes the name Stevland (long story). Stevland’s voice, once it and the settlers have figured out how to communicate, is fascinating – it has awareness of all parts of its root network at once, and can manipulate its chemical reactions to grow faster, slower, in new places, or to communicate danger or opportunity to its human friends and other plants alike.

Sandworms (The Dune series by Frank Herbert, Brian Herbert, and Kevin J. Anderson)

Poster Placeholder of - 37How could we not include Sandworms, honestly? They’re iconic in the science fiction world, and for good reason. These leviathans, indigenous to the planet Arrakis, are instrumental to the production of the highly valued spice melange, though they’re intermittently dangerous to the people who harvest said spice. And though the sandworms can be managed and (occasionally) ridden, they can never truly be tamed.

The Gelet (The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders)

Image Placeholder of - 10On the planet January, human settlers are limited to two habitable cities – but outside those cities, in the planet’s dark, cold hemisphere, live a species reviled and feared by humans: the furry, tentacled Gelet.

The Gelet are a species of individuals who share a telepathic group mind and a collective memory. They’re sentient, empathetic, and ambitious, aiming for a goal as lofty as saving their dying planet. And when Sophie, the protagonist, befriends them, they introduce her to a future filled with one thing she never anticipated: hope.

Aunt Beast (A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle)

Image Place holder  of - 40As Meg Murry recovers from her confrontation with IT, she’s nursed back to health by the four-armed, eyeless, furry creature she comes to think of as Aunt Beast. Aunt Beast is a gift, a being who writer Jaime Green calls “the embodiment of grace.” She loves Meg while creating space for Meg’s pain and anger – and we all need that sometimes.

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$2.99 eBook Sale: October 2020

There’s a hint of fall in the air and we are SO excited for all the thrilling reads we have to offer this month with our down-priced ebooks! Check out which ones you can snag for only $2.99 throughout the entire month of October below.


Poster Placeholder of - 65Alone with the Horrors by Ramsey Campbell

Three decades into his career, Ramsey Campbell paused to review his body of short fiction and selected the stories that were, to his mind, the very best of his works. Alone With the Horrors collects nearly forty tales from the first thirty years of Campbell’s writing. Included here are “In the Bag,” which won the British Fantasy Award, and two World Fantasy Award-winning stories, “The Chimney” and the classic “Mackintosh Willy.”

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Place holder  of - 57The Toll by Cherie Priest

Titus and Melanie Bell are on their honeymoon and have reservations in the Okefenokee Swamp cabins for a canoeing trip. But shortly before they reach their destination, the road narrows into a rickety bridge with old stone pilings, with room for only one car. Much later, Titus wakes up lying in the middle of the road, no bridge in sight. Melanie is missing. When he calls the police, they tell him there is no such bridge on Route 177 . . .

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Placeholder of  -63Hell House by Richard Matheson

Rolf Rudolph Deutsch is going die. But when Deutsch starts thinking seriously about his impending death, he offers to pay a physicist and two mediums $100,000 each to establish the facts of life after death. Dr. Lionel Barrett, the physicist, accompanied by the mediums, travel to the Belasco House in Maine. For one night, Barrett and his colleagues investigate the Belasco House and learn exactly why the townfolks refer to it as the Hell House.

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Image Place holder  of - 13HEX by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Welcome to Black Spring, the seemingly picturesque Hudson Valley town haunted by the Black Rock Witch, a seventeenth century woman whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. Everybody knows that her eyes may never be opened or the consequences will be too terrible to bear. The elders of Black Spring have virtually quarantined the town by using high-tech surveillance to prevent their curse from spreading. Frustrated with being kept in lockdown, the town’s teenagers decide to break their strict regulations but, in so doing, they send the town spiraling into dark, medieval practices of the distant past.

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Image Placeholder of - 44The Mothman Prophecies by John A. Keel

West Virginia, 1966. For thirteen months the town of Point Pleasant is gripped by a real-life nightmare culminating in a tragedy that makes headlines around the world. Strange occurrences and sightings, including a bizarre winged apparition that becomes known as the Mothman, trouble this ordinary American community. Mysterious lights are seen moving across the sky. Domestic animals are found slaughtered and mutilated. And journalist John Keel, arriving to investigate the freakish events, soon finds himself an integral part of an eerie and unfathomable mystery.

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The Keep by F. Paul Wilson

“Something is murdering my men.” Thus reads the message received from a Nazi commander stationed in a small castle high in the remote Transylvanian Alps. Invisible and silent, the enemy selects one victim per night, leaving the bloodless and mutilated corpses behind to terrify its future victims. When an elite SS extermination squad is dispatched to solve the problem, the men find something that’s both powerful and terrifying.

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Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge

Halloween, 1963. They call him the October Boy, or Ol’ Hacksaw Face, or Sawtooth Jack. Whatever the name, everybody in this small Midwestern town knows who he is. How he rises from the cornfields every Halloween, a butcher knife in his hand, and makes his way toward town, where gangs of teenage boys eagerly await their chance to confront the legendary nightmare. Both the hunter and the hunted, the October Boy is the prize in an annual rite of life and death.

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Legion by William Peter Blatty

A young boy is found horribly murdered in a mock crucifixion. Is the murderer the elderly woman who witnessed the crime? A neurologist who can no longer bear the pain life inflicts on its victims? A psychiatrist with a macabre sense of humor and a guilty secret? A mysterious mental patient, locked in silent isolation? Lieutenant Kinderman follows a bewildering trail that links all these people, confronting a new enigma at every turn even as more murders surface.

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I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells

Dead bodies are normal to John. He likes them, actually. They don’t demand or expect the empathy he’s unable to offer. Perhaps that’s what gives him the objectivity to recognize that there’s something different about the body the police have just found behind the Wash-n-Dry Laundromat—and to appreciate what that difference means. Now, for the first time, John has to confront a danger outside himself, a threat he can’t control, a menace to everything and everyone he would love, if only he could.

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Queen 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.

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The Family Plot by Cherie Priest

From Cherie Priest, author of the enormously successful BoneshakerThe Family Plot is a haunted house story for the ages—atmospheric, scary, and strange, with a modern gothic sensibility that’s every bit as fresh as it is frightening.

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The First Days by Rhiannon Frater

The morning that the world ends, Katie is getting ready for court and housewife Jenni is taking care of her family. Less than two hours later, they are fleeing for their lives from a zombie horde. Thrown together by circumstance, Jenni and Katie become a powerful zombie-killing partnership, mowing down zombies as they rescue Jenni’s stepson, Jason, from an infected campground.

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Nightflyers & Other Stories by George R. R. Martin

On a voyage toward the boundaries of the known universe, nine misfit academics seek out first contact with a shadowy alien race. But another enigma is the Nightflyer itself, a cybernetic wonder with an elusive captain no one has ever seen in the flesh. Soon, however, the crew discovers that their greatest mystery – and most dangerous threat – is an unexpected force wielding a thirst for blood and terror….

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Stranded by Bracken MacLeod

Badly battered by an apocalyptic storm, the crew of the Arctic Promise find themselves in increasingly dire circumstances as they sail blindly into unfamiliar waters and an ominously thickening fog. Without functioning navigation or communication equipment, they are lost and completely alone. One by one, the men fall prey to a mysterious illness. Deckhand Noah Cabot leads the last of the able-bodied crew on a journey across the ice and into an uncertain future where they must fight for their lives against the elements, the ghosts of the past and, ultimately, themselves.

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The House of Cthulhu by Brian Lumley

The fabled riches of the House of Cthulhu draw thieves and warriors from throughout the civilized-and uncivilized lands, but none escape with so much as a single gemstone, for they discover that Cthulhu’s House is not a temple but a dwelling-place. Surely the Elder God lives there still, waiting for an unwary person to open the portal between his world and ours . . . .

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The Five by Robert McCammon

As they move through the American Southwest on what might be their final tour together, the band members come to the attention of a damaged Iraq war veteran, and their lives are changed forever. This is a riveting account of violence, terror, and pursuit set against a credible, immensely detailed rock and roll backdrop. It is also a moving meditation on loyalty and friendship.

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Excerpt: Queen by Timothy Zahn

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Place holder  of - 70Queen is the climactic conclusion to New York Times bestselling author Timothy Zahn’s thrilling space adventure series, The Sybil’s War.

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.

She just has to unite the many alien races being forced to combat for their freedom, dodge slaving war profiteers determined to capture her, and convince an AI at war with itself to trust her above all else.

Please enjoy this special, extended excerpt of Queen, Book 3 in the Sibyl’s War series, available 4/14/2020. 


Nicole decided to try the ready room first, hoping that if Kahkitah had been caught there and captured he would have left behind some trace of his presence. But there was nothing. No trace, no Shipmasters, and no Kahkitah.

He wasn’t in the pump room, either. But even as she and Jeff sat down to try to come up with their next move the door opened and the big Ghorf slipped inside.

“I’m so sorry to have concerned you,” he apologized.

“Don’t worry about it,” Nicole assured him. “We’re just glad you’re here. How did you get away?”

“I thought it best to continue with the façade my people have carefully constructed these many years,” he said, sitting down beside her. “Instead of running to the first group of Wisps I continued past them as if I had panicked and had no idea what I was doing.”

He tapped one leg, where Nicole could now see a thin line of discoloration. “The Koffren eventually connected with a shot and brought me down.”

“They got you?” Jeff asked, frowning. “And then they just let you go?”

“Yes, but not without considerable persuasion,” Kahkitah said. “I explained that Nicole had asked me to bring food and water for a meeting you were planning. I told them this was my first trip to this region of the Fyrantha, and that I’d only brought a few food bars and water bottles.”

“In other words, just what you had on you,” Jeff said.

“Yes. I told them you were annoyed that I hadn’t brought more. I told them I apologized, that I’d misunderstood. Then, when the Koffren appeared, you told me they were here to kill me for my failure and ordered me to run.”

“What about the fact that you helped me get away?” Nicole asked.

“I told them I thought some creature from the Fyrantha’s dark underbelly had attacked us,” Kahkitah said. “I panicked and pulled you free. I was also startled and confused to learn that you’d left long before the Koffren caught me.”

“And they bought that?” Jeff asked, frowning.

“The conversation wasn’t actually with them,” Kahkitah said. “One of the Shipmasters—Fievj, I believe—did the questioning. The Koffren merely stood by and acted angry.”

“I doubt they were acting,” Nicole said.

“And then he just let you go?” Jeff asked.

“He did better than that,” Kahkitah said. “He brought me to the hive himself. Did you know that centaur armor could fly straight up the heat-transfer ducts?”

“No, but it makes sense,” Nicole said. “They have to be able to get around somehow, and they still don’t control all the Wisps.”

“But he just let you go?” Jeff persisted. “I can’t believe even Fievj is that naïve.”

“Oh, not at all,” Kahkitah said. “He placed a device on the back of my jumpsuit that I assume was a location tracer of some kind.” He whistled something untranslatable. “Sadly, there was a lingering odor from the removal chemical that I found distressing, so I left the jumpsuit in my room and changed into another.”

“They used a chemical to get the stuff off?” Jeff asked. “I’d assumed they would have to cut it.”

“No, it was a far more elegant solution,” Kahkitah said. “They had a small bottle with a dropper built into the lid. Two drops on the tangler tendrils dissolved and evaporated them in short order.”

“A liquid chemical, huh?” Jeff said with a lopsided smile. “An elegant solution. Nice.”

“I don’t follow.”

“A liquid chemical,” Jeff said. “A solution.”

Kahkitah looked blankly at him a moment, then turned to Nicole. “I think I must be missing something.”

“Oh,” Jeff said, the smile disappearing. “Never mind. I forget you’re not speaking English. Solution probably doesn’t have the same double meaning in your language.”

“No, not at all,” Kahkitah said. “But I’m sure the joke was amusing.”

“Like we say, you had to be there,” Jeff said dryly. “Forget it.”

“I will,” Kahkitah said. “Someday, when this is all over, we must discuss wordplay.” He gave a short whistle. “But that is the future. This is the present. I presume you’ve come up with a plan in my absence?”

“We’re working on it,” Jeff said. “We spent most of the last hour worrying about you. I guess we’ll know better next time.”

“Your concern was indeed unnecessary, but nonetheless greatly appreciated,” Kahkitah said, ducking his head. “Hopefully, the information I gleaned during my interrogation will make up for the lost time.”

“You reverse-interrogated them?” Jeff asked. “Nice.”

“I don’t know that term,” Kahkitah said. “I asked no questions, but simply observed. First, the entanglement weapons.”

“You mean the spider guns?” Nicole asked.

“Yes,” Kahkitah said. “Is that what humans call them?”

“I don’t know if humans call them anything,” Nicole said. “It’s what I call them. I’m not sure we even have anything like that on Earth.”

“We didn’t as of a few years ago, anyway,” Jeff said. “What about them?”

“They aren’t designed for the Koffren,” Kahkitah said. “The grip and the placement of trigger and other controls don’t fit hands and fingers their size.”

“So they’re Shipmaster weapons,” Jeff said, nodding.

“So I conclude,” Kahkitah said. “I furthermore don’t believe the Koffren ever shot them before today.”

“You getting that from their rotten accuracy?”

“Rotten at the beginning, but much better at the end,” Kahkitah agreed. “I furthermore conclude that projectile weapons of that sort aren’t completely foreign to them.”

“Interesting,” Jeff said thoughtfully. “Not just that, but the other implications. Fievj was with them in the lower level, and I can’t see him bothering with that centaur section unless it’s stocked with those greenguns.”

“So why were the Koffren using spider guns?” Nicole murmured.

“Exactly,” Jeff said. “Even if they’re trying to take us alive, a greenfire bolt is a hell of a lot harder to dodge than a spider glob. And a precision weapon like that would make it a lot easier to disable a target without killing him or her.”

“Which means they don’t trust them,” Nicole said. “Fievj and the Shipmasters. They don’t trust the Koffren.”

“Not surprising if the Koffren are merely more warriors for the arenas,” Kahkitah said.

“Yeah, well, that’s where it gets confusing,” Nicole said. “One of the Shipmasters—probably Fievj—told me the Koffren had been taken from their homes and were mad about that. But then one of the Koffren said that the one who’d brought them in wasn’t Fievj but Nevvis—he’s another Shipmaster—and that Nevvis deals with the buyers.”

“Could have been a little psych going on,” Jeff suggested. “Pretending they were higher up the food chain to put us at a disadvantage.”

“I don’t think so,” Nicole said. “The Koffren also said they were testing us for our value in battle. I can’t see the Shipmasters telling just anyone what they’re up to.”

“Well, somebody’s lying,” Jeff said. “Big surprise there.”

“Assume for the moment that the Koffren are telling the truth about being buyers,” Kahkitah said. “That raises more interesting questions.”

“Such as?” Nicole asked.

“Have the Koffren always been aboard?” Kahkitah said, ticking off fingers. “Are they newcomers? If so, were they brought in specifically for you, or were they here for a different purpose? Are there more than just two of them?”

“And why would the Shipmasters give them spider guns instead of greenguns?” Jeff added. “By the way, as to that last one, we don’t know for sure that the two in the lower level were the same ones we tangled with in Q1.”

“They were,” Kahkitah said. “I saw marks on their wrists from the tridents.”

“We cut them?” Nicole asked, frowning. “I don’t remember seeing any blood.”

“There wasn’t any,” Kahkitah confirmed. “The marks were not so much cuts or scratches as they were indentation marks. Their skin appears to be quite thick and dense, though there’s a subtle color variation toward the neck that perhaps suggests the skin of their faces is thinner and less durable.”

“Hence the helmets,” Jeff said, nodding.

“That was my thought, as well.”

Nicole winced, thinking back to that first confrontation. Just as well that she hadn’t tried to take one of their swords while the Wisps held them frozen. She probably couldn’t have cut through their skin even if she’d tried.

“Anyway, good catch,” Jeff said. “Though just because we’ve already met these two it doesn’t prove there aren’t more of them wandering around the Fyrantha.

“Agreed,” Kahkitah said.

Nicole sighed. A lot of questions, not a lot of answers. “So what’s their next step? Bring in a whole army of Koffren to hunt us down?”

“That would be the logical escalation,” Kahkitah agreed. “Assuming the Wisps are willing to do that.”

“If the teleport rooms are in Q1 the Wisps probably wouldn’t have a choice,” Jeff said. “The Shipmasters have that section pretty well locked down.”

“Perhaps,” Kahkitah said. “But I’m beginning to suspect the dynamic is considerably more complex.”

“I agree,” Jeff said. “Let’s hear your take and see if it matches mine.”

“Very well.” Kahkitah paused a moment, steepling his fingers in front of him as if collecting his thoughts. “The Shipmasters are unwilling to face us directly. Not in combat, at least. The Koffren, whether permanent residents or recent arrivals, are therefore pressed into service as surrogates.”

“Only they didn’t do all that well,” Nicole pointed out.

“Exactly,” Kahkitah said. “But at this point, the Shipmasters have a dilemma. If they can’t stop us quickly, they risk us doing permanent damage to the ship, or at least to their plans. But if they bring in more Koffren to assist them, it underscores the Shipmasters’ weakness. Worse, if the Koffren are indeed buyers, they might decide they have sufficient numbers to take the entire Fyrantha for themselves by force.”

“Cutting out the middleman,” Jeff said, nodding.

“Exactly,” Kahkitah said. “I daresay that a ship run by Koffren would be worse for us than a ship run by Shipmasters.”

If they could really take control,” Nicole said. “The Shipmasters might be able to turn the whole ship against them before they were taken down. If they did that, I don’t think even Koffren would do very well.”

“Perhaps not,” Kahkitah said. “But that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t try.” He looked at Jeff. “Did I miss anything?”

“No, I think you covered it pretty well,” Jeff said. “Just one more point. I agree that right now the Shipmasters probably don’t want to show weakness by bringing in more Koffren. But if and when that resolve breaks, it’ll break all at once. In other words, we won’t be able to just push them back gradually. The minute they think we might get the upper hand they’ll crack, and we’ll be up to our armpits in Koffren.”

“Ouch,” Nicole said, wincing. “How do we know when that’s about to happen?”

“Unfortunately, probably not until we’re up to our armpits in Koffren.”

Nicole snorted. “You’re a big help.”

“Sadly, he’s not wrong,” Kahkitah said. “There’s seldom any way to anticipate an enemy’s desperation level. Worse, when Fievj decides to bring in reinforcements he may not bring Koffren. He might instead bring in someone worse, someone we’ve never seen and don’t know how to fight.”

“You think they’ve got someone worse than Koffren they could call?”

“I wouldn’t want to bet they don’t,” Jeff said. “Of course, the nastier the ally, the bigger the risk that they’ll turn on the Shipmasters and we’ll get running battles through the Fyrantha’s passageways.”

“Until the Wisps catch up with them,” Nicole said. “Near as I can tell, they can immobilize anyone they can get a grip on.”

“Which means that if Fievj ever gets control of all of them, in all four quadrants, we’re toast,” Jeff said, scowling. “You’re absolutely sure he can’t send any of the Q1 group here?”

“As far as I can tell, the Wisps can’t even see any of the Fyrantha except the part they work in,” Nicole said. “Plus a corridor or so into the next section.”

“You realize how bizarre that is, right?” Jeff asked. “What if there’s an emergency? Do you have to reprogram all of them before you can send them somewhere else?”

“No idea,” Nicole said. “But I’ve questioned a bunch of them, and that just seems to be the way it works. Trust me, if I could have brought some Q4 Wisps into the Q1 arena, I’d have done so. We’d have taken down the Koffren with a lot less trouble.”

“I’m not doubting you,” Jeff assured her. “I’m just thinking about going up against a quadrant’s worth of Wisps you can’t control. Unfortunately, that’s where the Shipmasters and the greenguns are, so that’s where we have to go.”

“You intend to capture some weapons, then?” Kahkitah asked.

“Well, we’re sure not going to take out the Koffren with the toy arrows and swords the Ponngs and Thii brought along,” Jeff said. “You know, it occurs to me that one other reason the greenguns haven’t come out to play might be that the Shipmasters don’t want the Koffren to even know they have weapons like that. If that’s any part of it, us just having one that we could bring out for show-and-tell might make for a decent bargaining chip.”

“I’m not sure what you think we can bargain for,” Kahkitah said. “But I agree that better weapons are vital. Have you a suggestion on how to proceed?”

“We get a crew together and head into Q1,” Jeff said. “There has to be an armory in there somewhere. We find it, we get in, we get armed, we get out.”

“Just like that?” Nicole asked, frowning.

“More or less,” Jeff said. “That’s the easy-to-remember version, anyway.”

“Sort of skips over the part about dodging Wisps, Shipmasters, and Koffren, doesn’t it?”

“I didn’t say there wouldn’t be challenges,” Jeff said with a shrug. “But the Fyrantha’s a big ship, and there can’t be that many Shipmasters and Wisps aboard.”

“What about Ushkai?” Nicole countered. “If he and the Shipmasters are watching the whole ship, it’s going to be pretty hard to keep dodging everyone.”

“Only if there are enough of them to watch everywhere at once,” Jeff said. “Once we’re ready to move on the armory, a couple of nice diversions will hopefully help clear the way.”

“Though you first have to find this hoped-for armory.”

“Number one on our things-to-do list,” Jeff agreed. “You coming?”

“If you think I’ll be useful,” Kahkitah said.

“Oh, I’m pretty sure I can find something for you to do.”

“I’m coming, too,” Nicole said.

“Uh-uh,” Jeff said firmly. “Sorry, but you’re too valuable to risk.”

“And you aren’t?” Nicole countered. “Besides, I know the ship better than you do.”

And you know the Shipmasters, as well,” Kahkitah said, his birdsongs suddenly sounding thoughtful. “Interesting.”

“What’s so interesting about it?” Nicole asked. “I’ve spent a lot more time with them, that’s all. It’s no big deal.”

“You also understand how to deal with the Thii,” Jeff said, eyeing her thoughtfully. “And from what you told me earlier, you did the same thing with the Ejbofs in Q2.”

“And the same answer for both of them,” Nicole said. “Are we going to go hunt down some weapons, or aren’t we?”

“What do you think, Kahkitah?” Jeff asked, making no move to stand up. “The inhaler?”

“She hasn’t used it for quite some time.”

“Residual effects, maybe?”

“Perhaps,” Kahkitah said. “Though you’d then have to explain why none of the other Sibyls could do such things.”

“Maybe they can,” Jeff suggested. “Maybe they all get these same hints and feelings, but Nicole’s the only one who hasn’t ignored them.”

“Also, none of the others were declared the Fyrantha’s Protector.”

“Point.”

“Okay, just stop it,” Nicole cut in. “If you’re talking about me, you do know I’m right here. Right?”

“We are indeed talking about you,” Kahkitah said. “Specifically, we’re noting the ease with which you understand the Fyrantha and everyone aboard.”

“I already told you that’s not a big deal,” Nicole said. “I had to learn to read people back in Philly. It was how you stayed alive in Trake’s gang.”

“Reading humans is one thing,” Kahkitah said. “Reading Wisps, Shipmasters, and Thii is something else. I believe there’s more at work here than just your Earth experience.”

“I agree,” Jeff said. “I’m thinking you’ve become more of an ally to the Fyrantha than you realize. It’s picking up information on everyone aboard and feeding it to you, maybe on a subconscious level. Giving you stuff you otherwise wouldn’t know or understand.”

A cold chill ran up Nicole’s back. She’d known he was going to say that. Somehow, she’d known.

How in hell had she known?

“We know the Fyrantha’s on our side,” Jeff continued. “The fact that it hasn’t blown the whistle on the Ghorfs’ secret comm system shows that much. If it wants the Shipmasters kicked out, or at least doesn’t want them turning it back into a warship, then it makes sense it would do whatever it could to help you.”

“Yeah, interesting,” Nicole said, pushing herself up off the floor and standing up. A little too fast; a whisper of light-headedness touched her.

Jeff was up and at her side in an instant. “You okay?” he asked, taking her arm in a steadying grip.

“I’m fine,” Nicole said, trying to pull away. For half a second he seemed to resist, then let go. “You must be feeling better.”

“I’m pretty much healed,” he said. “Whatever else the Fyrantha might be, it’s got a really good medical service. Doesn’t mean I ever want to get shot by another greengun, of course.”

“Yeah, let’s all try to avoid that,” Nicole said. “I’m going to Q3 to find Wesowee and Kointos’s gray group. Maybe I can talk them into helping us.”

Jeff glanced at Kahkitah. “I thought you wanted to help us look for the armory.”

“I thought you said that was too dangerous,” Nicole shot back. “So how do I use these secret Ghorf phones?”

Another look between Jeff and Kahkitah, a longer one this time. “Just find another Ghorf,” Kahkitah said. “Seven of the eight Q3 repair teams have one. Any of them will know how to get a message to me.”

“Fine,” Nicole said. “Send a message to Wesowee when you’re ready to head to Q1 so he’ll know I’m coming.”

“Yeah,” Jeff said, sounding distinctly unhappy. “Nicole, I really don’t like the idea of you going off alone.”

“She won’t be,” Kahkitah assured him.

“No, you need to go with Jeff,” Nicole told him firmly.

“Not me,” Kahkitah said. “I was speaking of Moile and Teika.”

“What, the Ponngs?” Nicole scoffed. “Sorry, but I’m not waiting for you to go back and get them.”

“No need,” Kahkitah assured her. “They’re already here.”

Nicole felt her eyes widen. “They’re what? Where?”

“In a room a few doors down the corridor,” Kahkitah said. “I thought they might be useful, so I brought them with me from the hive.”

“And just left them outside?” Jeff asked, frowning. “Why didn’t you bring them in?”

“I thought we might discuss matters they would not yet be permitted to hear.” Kahkitah looked at Nicole. “You will take them with you, won’t you?”

Nicole glowered. For a second, Kahkitah had seemed like the earnest, simpleminded creature he’d always pretended to be.

She would never again see him as simpleminded. But maybe the earnest part was real.

She’d hoped to go off on her own for a little while, to work through the stuff Jeff and Kahkitah had just dumped on her. Clearly, that wasn’t going to happen. Maybe that was what Kahkitah had planned all along. “Fine,” she bit out. “Whatever. Go grab them, and let’s get moving.”

Moile and Teika were more than willing to accompany Nicole, their pointed but otherwise useless swords held proudly.

Useless swords; and out here in the Fyrantha’s hallways, mostly useless Ponngs. But at least they knew how to keep quiet.

They were doing a lot of that now as Nicole led the way up along a nearby stairway, her mind churning. Maybe the idea that she was becoming linked to the Fyrantha was something new, something she’d never thought of before. More likely, it was something she’d already known and simply pushed into the back of her mind with all the other thoughts and memories she didn’t want to admit were there.

Now, thanks to Jeff and Kahkitah, those suspicions had been dragged out into the open where she could no longer ignore them.

It made a certain amount of sense, really. Ushkai had told her the original Lillilli owners had set up the Fyrantha so that only humans could repair it, though he hadn’t known why. Maybe that was because they knew that humans could connect to the ship on a level that would let them become true friends and allies. If Nicole thought about it that way, it was like she suddenly had a boyfriend.

Problem was, she didn’t want a boyfriend.

She’d worked incredibly hard over the years to avoid that exact situation. She’d played Trake’s men against each other, favoring one and then another, talking one into giving her crash space—and hopefully nothing else—then making sure to move on to the next before she wore out her welcome. Every time she’d slipped up, every time she’d been forced to endure one of those horrible and thoroughly unwanted couch sessions, it had left another black scar on her mind that needed to be buried away.

It wasn’t just that there was no one in the gang she liked enough to be a willing participant in such things. It was that anchoring herself to any one person was incredibly dangerous. With all the jockeying back and forth for position, with Trake ruling over everyone with an iron fist, and with deaths and injuries sometimes a monthly occurrence, picking the wrong partner could be fatal for a woman. If she lost her man to gang violence, she would be fair game for whoever grabbed her first. If she lost him to gang politics, she would be bit by the same backlash.

What would happen to her if the Fyrantha lost its battle against the Shipmasters?

Because it might. Probably would, in fact. The Shipmasters had all the cards, all the weapons, and the most critical parts of the ship. They had allies and servants and the teleport rooms and a full quarter of the Wisps. All Nicole had was Jeff, Kahkitah, a handful of humans and Ghorfs—

“Where are we going?” Moile asked from a few steps below her.

Nicole sighed. And two Ponngs and four Thii.

Wonderful.

“Up another couple of levels,” she told him. “We’ll be heading back down to the arena, but I want to cross the central heat-transfer duct a few levels above it. Less chance of running into a Q3 Wisp that way.”

“I thought the Q3 Wisps were under your control,” Teika said.

“I haven’t really tested that,” Nicole said. “Anyway, whatever it was before could have changed in the past few hours. Why, you getting tired?”

“Not at all,” Moile assured her. “We will follow the Sibyl wherever she leads.”

Nicole hissed silently. Still playing their self-chosen roles as her loyal slaves. The whole thing still set her teeth on edge.

And it got worse. One of Trake’s gang getting kicked under the bus usually bounced the same mess to his woman. If the Fyrantha lost, and Nicole lost along with it, would that happen to the Ponngs and Thii? The Shipmasters needed the humans to fix their ship, and the Ghorfs to provide the necessary muscle, but she doubted they needed a half dozen aliens who barely came up to Nicole’s chin and had no strength or technical expertise to speak of.

Could she persuade Jeff and Carp to take them into the blue group and teach them how to repair the Fyrantha’s circuits? Maybe their thinner fingers could get into places that human ones couldn’t reach.

Another chill ran through her. What in hell’s name was she doing?

She’d spent half her life training herself not to care about other people, because caring never gained anyone anything but a punch or a knife in the gut. She’d started life aboard the Fyrantha by playing Carp and the others against each other, making sure to never get close to any of them. Maybe she’d gotten a little too close to Jeff and Kahkitah, but that was purely because they could be useful to her as allies.

But the Ponngs and Thii were of no value to her. None at all. So why did she care what happened to them?

Or was any of this coming from her at all? Was it instead coming from the Fyrantha?

Get out of my head! she thought viciously at the ship. You can tell me what to do, but you can’t tell me what to think.

There was no answer. She hadn’t really expected one.

But her concern for the Ponngs and Thii was still there.

Ushkai had declared her to be the Fyrantha’s Protector. He hadn’t mentioned anything about her also becoming the ship’s slave.

Copyright © Timothy Zahn 2020

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$2.99 eBook Sale: March 2020

$2.99 eBook Sale: March 2020

Spring has sprung and that means new deals for March! Check out what Tor eBooks you can grab for $2.99 throughout the entire month below:

Place holder  of - 57Pawn by Timothy Zahn

Nicole 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. However, she learned long ago that nothing comes without a catch. Nicole soon discovers that many different factions are vying for control of the Fyrantha, and she and her friends are merely pawns in a game beyond their control. But, she is tired of being used, and now Nicole is going to fight.

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Placeholder of  -96Stealing Worlds by Karl Schroeder

Sura Neelin is on the run from her creditors, from her past, and her father’s murderers. She can’t get a job, she can’t get a place to live, she can’t even walk down the street: the total surveillance society that is mid-21st century America means that every camera and every pair of smart glasses is her enemy. But Sura might have a chance in the alternate reality of the games. Turns out, she has very valuable skills, and some very surprising friends.

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Image Place holder  of - 82The Iron Dragon’s Mother by Michael Swanwick

Caitlin of House Sans Merci is the young half-human pilot of a sentient mechanical dragon. Returning from her first soul-stealing raid, she discovers an unwanted hitchhiker. When Caitlin is framed for the murder of her brother, to save herself she must disappear into Industrialized Faerie, looking for the one person who can clear her. Unfortunately, the stakes are higher than she knows. Her deeds will change her world forever.

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Poster Placeholder of - 56Empress of Forever by Max Gladstone

A wildly successful innovator to rival Steve Jobs or Elon Musk, Vivian Liao is prone to radical thinking, quick decision-making, and reckless action. On the eve of her greatest achievement, she tries to outrun people who are trying to steal her success.

In the chilly darkness of a Boston server farm, Viv sets her ultimate plan into motion. A terrifying instant later, Vivian Liao is catapulted through space and time to a far future where she confronts a destiny stranger and more deadly than she could ever imagine.

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GamechangerImage Placeholder of - 32 by L. X. Beckett

Rubi Whiting is a member of the Bounceback Generation. The first to be raised free of the troubles of the late twenty-first century. Now she works as a public defender to help troubled individuals with anti-social behavior. That’s how she met Luciano Pox. Luce is a firebrand and has made a name for himself as a naysayer. But there’s more to him than being a lightning rod for controversy. Rubi has to find out why the governments of the world want to bring Luce into custody, and why Luce is hell bent on stopping the recovery of the planet.

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The Sol Majestic by Ferrett Steinmetz

Kenna, an aspirational teen guru, wanders destitute across the stars as he tries to achieve his parents’ ambition to advise the celestial elite. Everything changes when Kenna wins a free dinner at The Sol Majestic, the galaxy’s most renowned restaurant, giving him access to the cosmos’s one-percent. His dream is jeopardized, however, when he learns his highly-publicized “free meal” risks putting The Sol Majestic into financial ruin. Kenna and a motley gang of newfound friends—including a teleporting celebrity chef, a trust-fund adrenaline junkie, an inept apprentice, and a brilliant mistress of disguise—must concoct an extravagant scheme to save everything they cherish.

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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 MagicianPoster Placeholder of - 50 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

Placeholder of  -47Queen 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.

 

Image Place holder  of - 75The 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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A Fond Farewell—Series We’re Saying Goodbye to in 2020

A Fond Farewell—Series We’re Saying Goodbye to in 2020

Everything ends eventually, and that is (sadly) true for several Tor series in 2020. This year marks the conclusion of some of our flagship sagas, as well as one epic fantasy that we’re releasing in a four-month sprint (bingebingebinge)! So, if you want to make sure you’re all caught up, here’s a list of everything ending in 2020. But don’t worry, we’ve got plenty of new and ongoing series to take you well into 2020—and beyond!

Placeholder of  -23Heart of Black Ice– The Nicci Chronicles –Terry Goodkind 

Taken captive by their enemies, King Grieve, Lila, and Bannon are about to discover the terrifying force that threatens to bring destruction to the Old World. The Norukai, barbarian raiders and slavers, have been gathering an immense fleet among the inhospitably rocky islands that make up their home and are poised to launch their final and most deadly war.

ON SALE NOW!

 

Poster Placeholder of - 52Song of the Risen God– The Coven Series – R.A. Salvatore 

The once forgotten Xoconai empire has declared war upon the humans west of the mountains, and only a small band of heroes stand in the way of the God Emperor’s grasp of power. But not all hope is lost. Far away, an ancient tomb is uncovered with the power to stop the onslaught of coming empire and, possibly, reshape the very world itself.

ON SALE NOW!

 

Image Placeholder of - 91Servant of the Crown– Dragonslayer Trilogy – Duncan M. Hamilton 

A swordsman and a dragon make an unlikely pair as they team up to defeat the Prince Bishop. This trilogy started just a year ago, so if you haven’t gotten hooked yet, now is the time to dive in. Come for the swordplay and magic, stay for the compelling characters searching for meaning in their lives.

ON SALE: 03/10/2020

 

Place holder  of - 95The Poet King– The Harp and Ring Sequence – Ilana C. Myer 

The nation of Tamryllin has a new ruler, who proclaims himself the first Poet King despite not all in court supporting the regime change. 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.

ON SALE: 03/24/2020

 

Image Place holder  of - 65Last Emperox – The Interdependency – John Scalzi 

The collapse of The Flow, the interstellar pathway between the planets of the Interdependency, has accelerated. Entire star systems are becoming cut off from the rest of human civilization. Emperox Grayland II has finally wrested control of her empire from her enemies, but “control” is a slippery thing, and the forces opposing her rule will make a final, desperate push to topple her from her throne.

ON SALE: 04/14/2020

 

Queen – The Sibyl’s War Series  Timothy Zahn

Nicole Hammond was just trying to survive on the streets of Philadelphia, then she and her partner Bungie were abducted by a race of mysterious moth-like aliens and taken to a strange ship called the Fyrantha.

ON SALE: 04/14/2020

 

 

The Cerulean Queen– The Nine Realms Series – Sarah Kozloff 

 The series that starts AND ends in 2020! Perfect for binging, this is an epic fantasy that’s part kick-ass Disney princess and part Game of Thrones. The exiled Princess Cerulia of Weirandale was raised in obscurity. She has no resources, no army, nothing that can help her against her enemies—except their gods.

ON SALE: 04/21/2020

 

Critical Point – The Cas Russell Series – S.L. Huang 

When a demolitions expert targets math-genius mercenary Cas Russell and her friends, the hidden conspiracy behind her past starts to reappear. The past, present, and future collide in a race to save one of her dearest friends.

ON SALE: 04/28/2020

 

 

 The Shadow Commission – The Dark Arts Trilogy – David Mack

In The Shadow Commission we jump forward almost another decade from the events in the previous Dark Arts novel, The Iron Codex. Now it’s November 1963, and Cade and Anja have been living in hiding, training new mages. But when President Kennedy is assassinated, a series of murders whose victims are all magicians forces Cade and Anja to learn how to fight back against the sinister cabal known as the Shadow Commission.

ON SALE: 06/9/2020

 

The Unconquered City – Chronicles of Ghadid – K.A. Doore 

Seven years after the Siege — a time when the hungry dead had risen — elite assassin Illi Basbowen must find the source of the monstrous guul that travel across the dunes. How much can she sacrifice to protect everything she knows from devastation?

ON SALE: 06/16/2020

 

 

In the Kingdom of All Tomorrows – Eirlandia – 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. But when a large fleet of the Scalda’s Black Ships arrives, Conor must join Eirlandia’s lords to defeat the monsters. And so begins a final battle to win the soul of a nation.

ON SALE: 07/14/2020

 

The Last Uncharted Sky – The Risen Kingdoms Series – 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 the ship is sabotaged by an enemy agent and Jean-Claude is separated from the expedition. Meanwhile, a royal conspiracy threatens to undo the entire realm.

ON SALE: 08/11/2020

 

Breath by Breath – Step by Step Series – Morgan Llywelyn 

The residents of Sycamore River emerge from nuclear war caused by the Change and its effects on technology. As they try to rebuild their shattered lives, they discover the Change continues and that for some, the air has become lethally toxic.

ON SALE: 08/25/2020

 


The Hellion – Malus Domestica 
S.A. Hunt 

Robin Martine has destroyed witches all across the country, and now makes her way to the deserts of rural Texas where a dangerous gang leader wields an iron fist over his wife and daughter. Robin vows to protect these Latina women from harm, but may be underestimating how powerful Santiago Valenzuela is… and how his shapeshifting powers may pose a threat to everyone Robin holds dear.

ON SALE: 09/15/2020

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Excerpt: Pawn by Timothy Zahn

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Nicole 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.

Nicole soon discovers that many different factions are vying for control of the Fyrantha, and she and her friends are merely pawns in a game beyond their control. But, she is tired of being used, and now Nicole is going to fight.

Please enjoy this excerpt of Pawn, which is on sale now, and get the thrilling sequel, Knight, when it goes on sale on April 16.

CHAPTER ONE

On her last day on Earth, Nicole Hammond woke from her hung-over stupor to the sound of vague and distant voices, the reek of booze and blood, and the rough slap of someone’s hand against her cheek.

“Wake up, bitch.”

She rolled off the mattress onto the hard wooden floor, her cheek stinging as she tried to drag herself back to consciousness. She pried open her eyes, wincing as the early-morning sunlight blazing through the window burned into them.

It was Bungie.

Damn.

She reversed her movement, rolling back toward the mattress and groping beneath her pillow for her knife.

Bungie was faster. “Uh-uh,” he said, snatching up the pillow and tossing it aside.

Nicole swore under her breath as her bleary eyes took in the empty spot where the pillow had been. Her knife was gone.

So was the tattered wallet where she’d stashed her share of last night’s take.

Damn, damn, damn.

“Where’s your knife?” Bungie demanded, taking a step toward her and planting one foot squarely in the middle of her mattress.

“I don’t know,” Nicole said, the words coming out slurred from a painfully dry mouth. She glanced over at the bedroom door, hoping Jasp might have heard the commotion. Surely Bungie wouldn’t want to take on Jasp in his own place.

“If you’re counting on Jasp, don’t,” Bungie said, a dark sort of smirk in his voice. “Last I saw he was still at the party. Looking for someone to take you off his hands.”

Nicole felt her heart sink. Jasp had the nicest place of anyone she knew, and she’d hoped she could sweet-talk him into letting her crash here at least another couple of weeks. But like everyone else before him, he’d apparently had enough of her sleeping off hangovers on his floor.

A second later, her heart leaped again as a horrible thought suddenly struck her. Had he given her to Bungie? Was that why the big ugly ape was here? To collect her and take her to his place?

God, no. Please, no.

“Get dressed,” Bungie went on, his dark smirk going just plain dark. “I need a doctor.”

Nicole blinked away more of the mental haze. She’d assumed the smell of blood had been coming from her, that she’d bitten her lip or maybe vomited before collapsing on her mattress last night.

But it wasn’t. It was coming from the bloody rag Bungie was holding pressed against his left side.

So Bungie had gotten into another fight. Big surprise. “What did you—?”

“Just get your damn clothes on,” he snarled.

“Yeah, keep your shirt on,” she muttered, getting unsteadily to her feet. She staggered a moment as her head suddenly went all dizzy, but the chair where she’d dropped her jeans and sweatshirt was right there beside her, and she was able to grab on to it before she fell over. The clothes reeked of booze and sweat, but she didn’t want to take the time to go hunting for something clean. Especially not if Bungie was going to bleed on her.

“Come on, come on.”

Nicole didn’t answer, concentrating instead on getting dressed. Her head was throbbing twice as hard as it had been when she first awoke, and she desperately wanted a drink. But Jasp wouldn’t appreciate it if she helped herself to his supply without asking first.

Luckily, she wouldn’t have to. Once she was dressed, she’d drive Bungie over to Packer to get fixed up, and Packer always had some booze lying around. She could easily talk him out of a drink or two for her headache while he sewed Bungie up.

As she pulled on her clothes, and as Bungie cursed under his breath behind her, she listened to the voices whispering through her pounding head.

They were louder than usual today.

In fact, she couldn’t remember them ever being as loud as they were right now. Certainly not since the first time she’d heard them, four years ago on the day after her fifteenth birthday. Trake had introduced her to whiskey at that party, and for a long time afterward she’d just assumed the voices were a normal part of a hangover, like the buzzing in her ears and the sweats and the dry mouth and the headache.

But over the years she’d slowly come to realize that the voices weren’t something that anyone else experienced. The voices were totally and uniquely her.

She’d been scared when she first figured that out. She’d heard about people with strange voices whispering at them, usually as part of a creepy story about a serial killer or someone who’d walked off a ten-story building.

Nicole’s voices never told her to do anything like that. They never told her to do anything. They never even called her by name, like they did in most of those stories. Usually she couldn’t even make out any words, like she was listening to a radio that was playing too softly.

Over time, she’d gotten more or less used to it. Even when the voices stopped being just a part of every hangover and started coming at odd times of the day or night it didn’t bother her too much.

Though she sometimes wondered if she was going insane when she woke up in the darkness and heard the whispers.

“What the hell is taking you so long?”

“Almost ready,” Nicole said, making a face into her sweatshirt as she pulled it over her head. This was not exactly the way she’d hoped to sleep this one off.

But she didn’t have much choice. Bungie was part of Trake’s group, and he was hurt, and if she didn’t help him, she could find herself out on the street with no one to take her in. It wasn’t like Trake couldn’t get someone else to play lookout and distraction for him—the Philadelphia streets were full of people who would jump at an easy job like that. “Let me get my boots,” she added, hurrying toward the window.

“You got shoes right there.”

“Those are wet,” Nicole said over her shoulder.

“You throw up on ’em?”

“I stepped in a puddle.”

“Oh, for . . .” His voice trailed off into a rumble of muttered curses.

She actually had stepped in a puddle, though not exactly a soaky one, if Bungie bothered to check to see if the shoes were wet. Not that she cared.

But her boots were near the window, and getting to the window got her to her window box.

And that was what she really cared about. She needed to see if, sometime during her weekend binge, her whiskey-soaked brain had remembered to water her flowers.

It had. Even just a glance showed her that the dirt was still moist, and the plants themselves seemed to be doing fine.

“I swear, if you’re mooning over those damn plants—”

“I’m getting my damn boots,” Nicole shot back, grabbing one and leaning against the wall for balance as she pulled it on.

She ran her eyes over her small collection of plants, then lowered her gaze to the window box itself. That small wooden box was the single constant in her life, the one thing that had been with her since she left her grandmother’s house four years ago. In that time some of the plants had died and been replaced, and some of the planter’s wood trim had chipped or broken off. But she didn’t care. She’d carried that box everywhere, and when Jasp threw her out she would make sure that her plants went with her.

She just hoped that whoever Jasp pawned her off on wouldn’t have a basement place like Packer’s. The flowers needed their sunlight.

“Ready,” she said, zipping up the last boot and turning back to face Bungie. “Do we need to score a car, or—?”

She broke off, feeling her eyes widen. In the short time it had taken her to dress, the rag Bungie was holding to his side had gone from merely red with blood to dripping with it.

This wasn’t his usual deep scratch. This was something a hell of a lot more serious.

“Already got a car,” he grated. He was still standing upright, but he was starting to stagger a little. “Give me a hand, huh?”

Nicole moved to his uninjured side, steadying him and helping him across the room to the door. The stairs down to the street were the trickiest part, and there were a couple of times when she thought she was going to lose it and send both of them tumbling to the next landing. But with one arm around Bungie and the other hand on the rickety railing they finally made it.

Trake had better appreciate her going through all this. Bungie damn well better appreciate it, too. “Which one?” she asked, shivering as the cool early-morning air hit her sweaty skin.

“There,” Bungie said, pointing to a BMW crookedly parked beside a fire hydrant. “You drive.” He pressed a set of bloody keys into her hand.

“Where are we going?” she asked as she steered them toward the car.

“I already told you—the hospital,” he rumbled. “Put me in the backseat—this side, right here.”

Balancing Bungie on her arm and shoulder, she got the car unlocked and opened the back door. “Easy now—watch the ribs,” he warned. “Watch the ribs, damn it!”

A minute and some more cursing later, she had him settled. She closed the door, then hurried around the hood and got in behind the wheel. “VA hospital’s closest,” he told her between clenched teeth as she closed her door. “We’ll try there.”

“Do they take non-vets at the VA?” she asked, wincing as she touched wetness on the seat beside her. Definitely a good thing she hadn’t bothered with clean clothes.

“They’ll take me,” Bungie told her, his voice dark. “Come on, come on—I’m bleeding back here.”

“I just meant it might be better to try somewhere else,” she said, turning her head to look over the seat at him.

And caught her breath. From somewhere under his shirt he’d pulled out a gun.

Not the little .22 she’d seen him wave around when he was playing tough. This gun was a lot bigger, and a lot nastier.

And she’d seen it before somewhere. “Where did you get—?”

“Drive,” he said. The quietness of the order was somehow scarier even than his usual yelling.

Hastily, she turned back and fumbled the key into the ignition, an unpleasant tingle between her shoulder blades. The car started, and she pulled out into the street.

What the hell had the big idiot gotten himself into this time?

She’d walked past the VA hospital only once, a couple of months ago, but she remembered the way. Luckily, early-morning traffic in this part of Philadelphia was always light.

And as she drove, she tried to think.

This was bad. Dangerously bad. Bungie was as addicted to fights as he was to alcohol, but the worst she’d usually seen him with was bruises and maybe a few cuts. Packer was pretty good with those, though Nicole had never figured out where Bungie got the money to pay the old medic’s ridiculous fees. She probably didn’t want to know, either.

But minor cuts didn’t bleed like this. Bungie didn’t have the skill to boost a late-model car like the BMW, either.

And in all the years he’d been hanging around Trake and his group he’d never had a gun like that.

So: felonies. Probably up to his neck in them. Even if the VA hospital was willing to treat him, the minute they cut off his shirt and saw that big bleeder they’d probably call the cops. If it was a gunshot wound, she was pretty sure they had to call them.

But that wasn’t Nicole’s problem. She’d take him in, because buying points with Trake was a good idea and arguing with a bleeding man holding a gun wasn’t. But the minute he was out of sight, she would get as far away from him, his gun, and his stolen car as she could.

In fact, it might not be a bad idea to get out of the neighborhood completely for a few days. She had a little money saved—

She made a face. No, she didn’t. Everything she had was in her missing wallet.

Had Jasp taken it? He could have noticed that she put it under her pillow every night. But Jasp didn’t seem like the type for something that petty. More likely, she’d lost it somewhere at last night’s party. Maybe she’d lost her knife there, too.

Or maybe one of Trake’s guys had lifted it while she was too drunk to notice. There were enough jerks hanging around who would do something like that just for the fun of it.

Which still left her with no money and a burning need to lie low for a while.

Where could she go? She didn’t know many people outside of Trake’s group, and most of those also knew Bungie. Someplace farther out, maybe out of the city completely?

That might not be a bad idea. She’d been trying for months to get Trake to move her up from lookout to pickpocket, but he always said she needed more practice. Living and scoring on her own for a few days might be the chance to prove that she could do that.

The one thing she would absolutely not do was call her grandmother and ask for help. She’d face Bungie and his new gun before she’d do that.

“There!”

Nicole jerked her attention back from unpleasant thoughts of her future to unpleasant thoughts of her present. The hospital was straight ahead, its VETERANS ADMINISTRATION sign prominent beside the drive entrance. “Is there an emergency room?” she asked, looking around. “I don’t see a sign.”

“Who said anything about an emergency room?” Bungie growled. “That lot over there—that’ll be where the doctors park. Go.”

Nicole frowned. She’d seen enough TV to know that doctors had special stickers on their cars for hospital parking lots. How did Bungie expect her to park in there without drawing attention they didn’t want?

But she didn’t dare argue the point. Not with Bungie in pain. Especially not with Bungie in pain and holding a gun.

“There,” he said, leaning over the backseat beside her, his breath unpleasantly hot in her ear, the gun twitching at the edge of her vision. “Getting out of his car—see him?”

“Yes,” Nicole said. The man was in his late twenties, about Bungie’s age, with short hair and a professional-looking suit. The car he was getting out of was bright red, with the kind of spindly-spoked wheels she’d always liked. There was no way to tell if he was a doctor, but he certainly looked like one.

“Get beside him,” Bungie ordered. “Come on, move it.”

Nicole pressed down on the pedal, sending the car leaping forward.

The doctor closed his door and did something with his key ring, making the lights flash and the horn give a short toot. Turning toward the hospital building, he headed briskly past the other parked cars. Nicole watched him out of the corner of her eye as she reached his row and turned into the narrow lane.

“Get beside him and stop,” Bungie said, and there was a sudden surge of cool air at the back of Nicole’s neck as he lowered the rear window.

“Wait a second,” Nicole said as she suddenly saw where he was going. Bad enough to be riding in a stolen car with him. But to help him with a kidnapping? That was a whole new level of bad. “How about I park here and go bring him to you? Okay? You know I can do it—just like how I got that guard out of the way a couple of weeks ago? You can rest here, and I’ll bring him back—”

“You ever try to outrun a bullet?” Bungie interrupted.

Nicole swallowed hard. “No.”

“Tell you right now, this isn’t the day to try,” he said quietly. “Now get beside him and stop.”

The doctor, his mind apparently on other things, didn’t seem to notice them until Nicole stopped the car. He looked up, a sort of mildly curious expression on his face—

“You a doctor?” Bungie demanded.

The man took a second look, and Nicole saw his expression stiffen. “The hospital’s right there,” he said, pointing at the big building behind them. “They can take care of you.”

“How about you take care of me?” Bungie said, lifting the gun into view over the windowsill. “Get in the car.”

A wave of fresh nausea swept through Nicole’s already queasy stomach. He was doing it. He was really, truly, doing it. “Easy, Bungie,” she said carefully. “This isn’t worth it. We can find another—”

“Shut up, or I’ll kill you both,” Bungie snarled. “I’ve already killed one man today. I’m in the mood. Get in the car, Doc. Now.

It took the doctor a second to find his voice. “Look. I can see you’re upset—”

“How about seeing that I’ve got a gun?” Bungie cut him off. “Get in the damn car.”

“I don’t have anything to treat you with,” the doctor protested, his voice starting to crack. “Let me take you into the hospital—”

“You got a medical bag?”

The doctor swallowed. “In my car. But it’s not much more than a first-aid kit.”

“Good enough,” Bungie said. “Let’s go get it. Nice and slow.”

The doctor’s eyes flicked to Nicole. “Better do as he says,” she said. “He’s not in the greatest mood.”

“Yeah, I can see that,” the doctor said grimly. “Fine.”

He turned and headed back toward his car. Bungie tapped the back of Nicole’s head with his gun in silent order, and she let up on the brake, letting the car roll alongside the doctor.

Across the lot, a couple of other doctor types were chatting together as they walked toward the hospital, and Nicole found herself gripping the steering wheel tighter. If the doctor decided to risk shouting a warning to them . . .

Apparently, Bungie was thinking the same thing. “What’s your name, Doc?” he asked out the window.

“McNair,” the man said. “Sam McNair.”

“Got a family, Sam?”

“No.”

“So no one would miss you if I blew you away?”

A muscle in McNair’s cheek tightened. “Take it easy,” he said. “I’m not going to make trouble.”

They traveled the rest of the way in silence. Nicole kept the car beside the doctor, her brain and head throbbing. Had Bungie really killed someone?

Maybe he had. It would explain the car and the gun. Probably his wound, too, if whoever he’d killed hadn’t gone quietly.

And now he’d said it out loud, and in front of a witness. So where did that leave her?

She didn’t know. All she could do was hope the doctor fixed Bungie well enough to travel, and that she could ditch him before the cops caught up with him.

They reached McNair’s car. “My bag’s in the trunk,” he told Bungie. “Wait here and I’ll go get it.”

“Better idea,” Bungie said with a grunt. “Stand right there—right there—where I can see you. Put it in park, Nicole, and give me a hand.”

He seemed weaker than he’d been when they’d left Jasp’s place, staggering as Nicole helped him out of the backseat. But his eyes were wide-open and alert, and she could see by the strain in his jaw and neck that he had his teeth clenched. Running on pure willpower now.

“Okay, Doc,” he said, keeping his gun pressed against his side where it wouldn’t be so visible to anyone passing by. “Nice and slow.”

Not that there was anyone passing by. In fact, as Nicole glanced around, she realized that for the moment the three of them were completely alone in the parking lot, probably as isolated as it was possible to get in a big city.

She hoped all that seclusion wouldn’t make Bungie feel secure enough to do something stupid.

The voices were getting stronger.

McNair led the way to the rear of his car and pulled out his key ring. For a second he seemed to hesitate, maybe wondering whether he dared risk hitting the panic button instead of the trunk release. Bungie didn’t say anything, but just took a step closer to him. The doctor’s cheek tightened, and with a quiet thunk the trunk popped and swung smoothly open. “Good choice,” Bungie rumbled. “Get it.”

For a second the two men locked eyes. Then, McNair’s cheek twitched again and he reached into the trunk and pulled out a black doctor-style bag. With his free hand, he reached up to close the trunk.

There was a puff of air on the back of Nicole’s neck, and a pair of arms slithered like snakes around her shoulders and locked together solidly across her chest.

A startled scream tried to explode from her throat. But all her muscles were suddenly frozen in place. Bungie spun around to face her, snarled something disbelieving as his gaze jerked upward to something above her head. He grabbed at Nicole’s arm, his fingers tightening around her rigid flesh as he swung his gun to point over her shoulder.

McNair gasped something and grabbed Bungie’s gun arm, either trying to wrestle the weapon away from him or else drag it off-target from wherever it was aimed. Bungie snarled and swung the arm back at him, slamming the side of the gun against the other’s forehead. McNair staggered, but managed to keep his grip. Bungie tried to bring the gun back around, but he was pulling against all of McNair’s weight, and it wasn’t working. The voices in Nicole’s head gave a sudden, shrieking gasp.

And out of nowhere two more figures appeared, one behind Bungie and one behind McNair. The newcomers’ arms darted around the men’s shoulders and their hands locked together, just like the arms that were holding Nicole.

But the attackers weren’t muggers or random strangers or even security guards from the hospital.

They weren’t even people.

They were taller even than Bungie, at least six and a half feet tall, with thin bodies and arms and pure black eyes. They had no noses, their mouths seemed to be little more than wide slits, and their heads were completely bald. Their skin was a pale, silvery white that glistened in the early-morning sunlight. As Nicole stared in disbelief, the creatures unfolded large, shimmering butterfly-type wings from their backs. The wings stretched up and out into the morning breeze.

An instant later, the world vanished.

Not the way it disappeared when Nicole drifted off into a drunken sleep, going gradually blurry as consciousness faded away. This disappearance was sudden, complete, painless, and terrifying.

Maybe not quite complete. She couldn’t see the car or the parking lot or the Philadelphia skyline or even Bungie and McNair. The whole world seemed to have turned a black so total that she felt like she could stretch out her hand and run her fingers through it. But she could still see the arms wrapped around her chest.

With nothing else for her to look at, and with another scream trying desperately to escape her frozen throat, she forced herself to concentrate on the arms.

Her attacker’s skin wasn’t silvery white, like she’d first thought. Instead, the skin itself was pure white, with an overlay of crisscrossing silver threads that gave it its metallic sheen. The fingers were interlocked together, but as she looked closely she could see that there were six fingers on each hand instead of five, and that the two on the ends both seemed to be thumbs.

That would have freaked her out, she thought dully, if her mind hadn’t already been completely freaked out by all the rest of it.

Don’t worry, Nicole. I won’t let you go.

Nicole felt her breath catch in her still-frozen throat. Suddenly, for a single moment, the normally wordless voices in her head had spoken words.

And they’d spoken the words to her. Not to somebody else, but to her, Nicole Hammond. Personally.

The horrifying stories of voices telling people to kill themselves were running through her mind when the blackness in front of her was ripped away like that street magician she’d seen once pull the black cloth off his hat.

But it wasn’t a pigeon that appeared in front of her, like it had from the magician’s hat. It was Bungie and Dr. McNair, standing exactly where they’d been when Nicole’s world disappeared. The silvery-white butterfly people were also there, one of them still standing behind each of them.

But they were no longer standing in the hospital parking lot. They were in a tall-ceilinged round room with dim overhead lighting and hundreds of glowing or flashing colored lights dotting the room’s curved walls. Between the lights, the walls seemed to be covered in a crosshatch of the same kind of silvery threads that were on the butterfly people’s skin.

From somewhere in front of her came a sudden whooshing sound, and a section of the wall that didn’t have any lights swung open, letting in a dazzling blaze of light. Through the ringing in her ears she heard the sound of footsteps, and as she squinted against the light she saw the black silhouette of a figure walking toward them. She couldn’t see a face in the glare, but from the way it walked she had the impression that it was a shortish, broad-shouldered human instead of another butterfly person.

Abruptly, it stopped. For a moment it stood still, and Nicole found herself tensing. Then, with a snort, it stepped to the side of the opening and bit out a couple of words in some crazy foreign language.

A moment later another shadow from outside the round room appeared and walked toward them, this one much taller and broader than the first shadow. As it came close, some of the reflected light bounced back from the walls onto its face and body and Nicole was finally able to make out some details.

It wasn’t just a big person, like she’d thought. Nor was it another of the butterfly people. Its face was utterly unlike anything she’d ever seen, reminding her somehow of a squashed shark face, complete with sets of gills on its neck. Its body was even worse, looking like it had been made by pouring a thousand glass marbles into a mold. The shoulder and hip and knee joints didn’t seem quite right, and the creature’s hands were thick and broad, like the paws of some horrible movie monster.

Nicole tried to shrink back, another scream boiling up inside her. But she still couldn’t move, and this scream was just as unable to escape her paralyzed throat as all the others had been. The marble monster stopped two feet away from her and reached out his hands.

And for the second time that horrible, terrifying morning, the world went black.

Copyright © 2017 by Timothy Zahn

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$2.99 Ebook Sale: Pawn by Timothy Zahn

Image Place holder  of - 90The ebook edition of Pawn by Timothy Zahn is on sale for $2.99! This offer will only last for a limited time, so order your copy today!

About Pawn: 

Nicole 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.

Nicole soon discovers that many different factions are vying for control of the Fyrantha, and she and her friends are merely pawns in a game beyond their control. But, she is tired of being used, and now Nicole is going to fight.

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This sale ends April 1st.

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New Releases: 5/1/18

Happy New Release day! Here’s what went on sale today.

A Dog’s Way Home by W. Bruce Cameron

Image Place holder  of - 40 Lucas Ray is shocked when an adorable puppy jumps out of an abandoned building and into his arms. Though the apartment he shares with his mother, a disabled veteran, doesn’t allow dogs, Lucas can’t resist taking Bella home.

Bella is inexplicably drawn to Lucas, even if she doesn’t understand the necessity of games like No Barks. As it becomes more difficult to hide her from the neighbors, Lucas begins to sneak Bella into the VA where he works. There, Bella brings joy and comfort where it is needed most.

Ban This Book by Alan Gratz

Placeholder of  -23 In Ban This Book by Alan Gratz, a fourth grader fights back when From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg is challenged by a well-meaning parent and taken off the shelves of her school library. Amy Anne is shy and soft-spoken, but don’t mess with her when it comes to her favorite book in the whole world. Amy Anne and her lieutenants wage a battle for the books that will make you laugh and pump your fists as they start a secret banned books locker library, make up ridiculous reasons to ban every single book in the library to make a point, and take a stand against censorship.

Medusa Uploaded by Emily Devenport

Place holder  of - 47 My name is Oichi Angelis, and I am a worm.

A generation starship can hide many secrets. When an Executive clan suspects Oichi of insurgency and discreetly shoves her out an airlock, one of those secrets finds and rescues her. Officially dead, Oichi begins to rebalance power one assassination at a time and uncovers the shocking truth behind the generation starship and the Executive clans.

The Military Science of Star Wars by George Beahm

Poster Placeholder of - 1 The first ever in-depth analysis of the tactics and equipment used by the heroes and villains of the Star Wars universe has arrived! Spanning all of the films, this comprehensive book goes in to detail about the various guerrilla tactics of the Rebel Alliance and the awe-inspiring might of the Grand Army of the Republic and Darth Vader’s Empire.

Including detailed examples from Earth’s military history, bestselling author George Beahm illustrates how a merciless empire managed to subdue a galaxy with the application of overwhelming force and technology, and how a ragtag group of rebels could cobble together enough of a punch to topple a seemingly-unbeatable enemy.

 

NEW FROM TOR.COM

Black Helicopters by Caitlin R. Kiernan

Image Placeholder of - 40 Just as the Signalman stood and faced the void in Agents of Dreamland, so it falls to Ptolema, a chess piece in her agency’s world-spanning game, to unravel what has become tangled and unknowable.

Something strange is happening on the shores of New England. Something stranger still is happening to the world itself, chaos unleashed, rational explanation slipped loose from the moorings of the known.

NEW IN PAPERBACK

And Into the Fire by Robert Gleason

Give Your Heart to the Hawks by Win Blevins

Gone to Dust by Matt Goldman

King Rat by China Mieville

Pawn by Timothy Zahn

Tiassa by Steven Brust

NEW IN MANGA

Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest (Light Novel) Vol. 2 Story by Ryo Shirakome; Art by Takaya-ki

If It’s for My Daughter, I’d Even Defeat a Demon Lord Vol. 1 Story by Chirolu, Art by Hota

Lord Marksman and Vanadis Vol. 7 Story by Tsukasa Kawaguchi; Art by Nobuhiko Yanai

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid Vol. 6 Story and art by coolkyousinnjya

Nameless Asterism Vol. 2 Story and art by Kina Kobayashi

Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs Vol. 1 

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New Releases: 5/2/17

Here’s what went on sale today!

The Fallen by Eric Van Lustbader

Image Placeholder of - 52The 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

Placeholder of  -59Sixteen 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

Poster Placeholder of - 8They 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 Place holder  of - 56Perfect 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

Place holder  of - 14Nicole 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

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