October 2016A Bard Act To FollowMichael A. VentrellaMichael Ventrella's Fortannis setting has produced a lot of fine fantasy fiction, and the fourth collection maintains a high level of quality throughout.

Some of the stories are simply amusing ("Curso and the Wizard's Apprentice"), some tragic ("The Consistency of Small Minds"), and others heartwarming ("The Mutiny of Broken Things" and Ventrella's own "Remembering the Future"). Our protagonists range from courageous knights and cynical adventurers to an absolutely chilling, self-justifying sociopath. Taken together, they give us a picture of a living, immense world which can cover the span of human (and biata, dwarf, elf, ogre, and goblin…) endeavor and passion.

A Bard Act to Follow does not merely continue the fine tradition of Fortannis; it elevates the written world to the next level, and indeed, as the title plays upon, will be a hard act to follow!

- Ryk Spoor, author of the Balanced Sword trilogy
October 2016DominionD.A. HewittIt’s the year 2075. Lunar mining and processing facilities have prospered near the lunar south pole, where the Moon’s largest city, Valhalla, rests on the rim of the Shackleton Crater.

Dominion Off-Earth Resources has beaten the competition into space and is ready to establish its monopoly with the opening of the orbiting space resort Dominion. But Pettit Space Industries has a secret plan to emerge as a major contender in the commercialization of space. The upstart company is training the first space rescue squad at a secluded off-grid site in Barrow, Alaska.

The rescue squad gets nearly more than it can handle when its first mission involves the Pope, who’s traveling to the Moon to establish the Lunar See. During the rescue attempt, they discover Earth is imperiled by an asteroid large enough to cause mass extinction. Using the unique skills taught during their training, skills emphasized by the great psychoanalyst Carl Jung, these Jungi Knights must elevate their game if they are to save both the Earth and the Pope—while not getting killed in the process.
October 2016Zep TepiBill ParkerBefore the time of man, according to the ancient legends, the gods walked the earth. The Egyptians had a name for this time. They called it ‘Zep Tepi’ -- the First Time. That time is where this story began. Five Moons: Zep Tepi picks up the story ten thousand years later…

It all started with an emergency call from a world at the farthest edges of explored space.

“You are our only hope,” they tell Dallas Blake and the crew of the Five Moons. A deadly virus will kill them all if the Five Moons doesn’t get the vaccine to them right away. But, like every other mission the Five Moons has taken on, this was but the tip of the iceberg. One thing was certain -- someone tried to kill these people.

But the Five Moons was the Nexus of Fates. It had chosen each member of the crew for a reason. Then it chose Star, but it wasn’t done with them yet. Its next choice would become a light, shining into the darkness.
October 2016The Fourth DocumentLee B. WoodsBoston businessman Lewis Lowellen just wanted to buy something for his wife, Georgia, something to help send them off on a long-awaited retirement aboard their million dollar sailboat: Destination, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Needing a professional to help sail the yacht, Lewis hires a charter skipper and his girlfriend to share duties during the 1500-mile trip down the Atlantic. While waiting for Georgia to say her goodbyes, Lewis strolls into a pawn shop and pays $65 for a strange document simply because he thinks Georgia will like its “old world charm.” What he doesn’t know is that the document is an original Magna Carta—valued at $21 million—and then stolen from the U.S. National Archives by a sociopath and a silent-alarm wizard, neither of whom can figure out how the Boston man ended up with the manuscript. Life aboard the sailboat is fun for a while, but when the thieves look to their employer in Bermuda to help them find the boat, life becomes a rough and not-so-ready pursuit that ends on a dark night in a Caribbean airport. September 2016ShadowvaleVanessa IsittInspired by a real life loss of inheritance, Shadowvale explores the life of an unwanted bastard son who ultimately finds his true legacy in the love and loyalty of his friends. September 2016WitcheryFred WaissA werebear has killed two people and Teyla leaves in pursuit. Her mother, Mirra, has known for years that Teyla’s father, Kaar, is imprisoned by Maalak. With Teyla gone, she goes to free Kaar or die in the attempt. The two helped defeat Maalak years ago in his bid to conquer the city-state of Kessia. He has prepared to try again, confident he will be victorious.

Teyla’s quest is side-tracked by Argus Cord on a mission to find white witches to aid Kessia in the upcoming struggle. The two become lovers and Teyla agrees to help in the battle against Maalak. But she discovers that her father is Maalak’s prisoner. She must attempt rescue, but she cannot protect Argus and herself. Kaar escapes with Mirra’s help, and the two join the forces of Kessia.

As the armies clash outside the southern wall of Dark Home in a battle of magic and steel, Teyla arrives at Dark Home. Maalak discovers her presence and she finds herself face-to-face with the most fearful master of dark magic that has ever been.

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September 2016

All Liddy wanted was her space ship back…was that too much to ask?

She had the money (well most of it anyway) to buy it back at a customs auction. But wouldn’t you know it, some jerk in a black jacket wanted the Sundancer too and the bidding went to high heaven. Thanks, Jack! Now the two ex-cons each own half of a one-man ship, and neither Liddy nor Jack think that’s going to work out in the long run.

So they make a deal: the first space-bum to raise enough cash to buy the other out wins Sundancer. See. It’s a nice simple arrangement that can’t be screwed with no matter how many religious fanatics, gangsters, terrorists or undiscovered aliens they have to deal with. Why the only possible thing that could foul up this neat little competition is…love.

Liddy and Jack cannot be the ideal couple. Still, they’re bringing their messed up broken selves into this whirlwind relationship without a map, a clue or even a flashlight to illuminate their way. But sometimes friendship comes natural, camaraderie grows powerful and love becomes inevitable.

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September 2016

My own people, Anoza not humans, came in the night to kill me, to kill my unborn child, to finish an ancient evil. Only Dallas Blake, wounded and bleeding, stood against them, but he did. It was all that we could do to just fight for our very lives, but that was not the end of it. The evil ones had kidnaped my father.

How much worse could this get? To rescue my father, the Five Moons would be pitted against unknown forces with technology a million years more advanced. A whole Merc rebellion was coming to a boil out beyond the Seven Pillars, right where the Five Moons needed to go. It was led by Dallas’ arch nemesis, Sarsen Tabbot. And then we would have to cross the Great Rift into unknown Anoza space.

But the Five Moons is more than just a starship. It is the Nexus of Fates. It chose each one of us for a reason. Its last choice could blow this whole thing wide open.

[Read more]