Sunday, August 18, 2019

Ghost Hunters Anthology 08 – S. H. Marpel

Ghost Hunter Anthology 08 - Speculative Fiction by S. H. MarpelLife isn’t easy when you’re a library cat who was formerly a Cat Goddess out of Egypt.

And then you’re introduced to two young male time-travelling scientists by your friend who natively bends time herself, with the help of organic tesseracts that float around her.

Of course their machine won’t work – but then it does.

And they are trapped in Ancient Egypt because they only went there to prove a point – and their machine was stolen meanwhile…

So starts the Hermione series – the latest creations of S. H. Marpel in his mystery series, “Ghost Hunters”.

Anthology containing:

– Hermione
– When Cats Ruled
– A Case of Lost Time
– Enemies & Bookends
– The Tao of Mysti

Now, this particular anthology doesn’t only talk about Hermione’s adventure. We also give Mysti a chance to explain how the Lazurai healing works. Oh, you may know the Lazurai from earlier books. But if you don’t, check out the Notes at The Tao of Mysti’s end. (Or get the earlier seven books in this anthology series…)

Excerpt:

I’D BEEN CAUGHT IN a cross-fire. And just got saved from bleeding out.

Now my shape-shifting was on hold until I healed. But I was stuck in human shape, having to re-learn the human experience.

I don’t know when I first appeared on Earth. Before recorded time somewhere. And for the last few centuries or so, I’d been happy as a library cat.

But then I got bored, and started helping out with simple missions.

Good thing they got to me in time on this one.

Now I had to re-learn what it is to be human. Me, the cat-goddess.

But I’d never be able to shift back to my native form without shooting pains up that arm – until I could understand human relationships – ones that always left the scholars of the ages mystified.

Easy-peasy for a goddess. Maybe.

– – – –

THE FIREBALLS AND SHARP spinning discs were aimed right toward us as we arrived.

Sent from rock-outcrops in the darkness beyond our glow-balls. An ambush.

Sal and Jude’s shields came up, but John had already gotten himself nicked. He was holding on to his other arm with his free hand, blood seeping between his fingers. We were pinned down.

So I sent to Sal – “Let me out. I’ll hold them while you get John to safety.”

“You sure?”

“We’re sitting ducks otherwise.”

Sal nodded to me and to Jude.

I leapt out and multiplied with alternate selves, borrowed from multiple time-lines. All of us tiger-sized now. And we each held the small groups in stasis. Something I could do indefinitely.

Sal and Jude took John out of there. The attackers and my multiple me’s were now all in a Mexican stand-off.

Until their reinforcements came in.

Then one of my other future selves went down with a bad slice and a lot of blood. I signaled the others to retreat and take her with them. Then shrunk down to my smallest cat size and bounced out of harm’s way to a small rock outcropping that was out of their firing-sights. Mostly.

It was just a nick, but I wasn’t going to hold that blood in with my tiny paws. And any larger form that had regular hands would stick out enough to become a target….

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Sunday, August 11, 2019

J. R. Kruze Short Story Collection 03

J. R. Kruze Short Story Collection 03The third collection of short stories by J. R. Kruze.

Known for a unique take on common situations, and a dry wit, Kruze is also able to look at usual circumstances and see unusual aspects to write about. These stories will let you start wondering about the world around you.

Mystery, fantasy, paranormal, romance and science fiction are a few of this mixed genre collection.

Enjoy seeing your world through J. R. Kruze’s eyes…

This anthology contains:

 – The Girl Who Became Tomorrow by J. R. Kruze
 – The Autists: Brigitte by J. R. Kruze
 – Dark Lazurai by J. R. Kruze
 – The Girl Who Saved Tomorrow by J. R. Kruze
 – A Dog Named Kat by J. R. Kruze
 – The Saga of Erotika Jones 01 by J. R. Kruze
 – A World Gone Reverse by J. R. Kruze, S. H. Marpel 
 – The Arrivals by C. C. Brower, J. R. Kruze

Excerpt:

I TORE OFF THE HEADSET with it’s VR goggles and earbuds. They skidded across my massive desk, scattering papers and files like a mini cyclone. Only stopping when they wrapped around the very solid, unmovable gray base of Lady Liberty.

Someone had cast her as a thick bronze piece, originally created as a classless idea of a lamp support. I took out all that wiring and plugged that hole so she again stood for something. It’s original message of friendship between two nations, united in the birth date of universal independence and freedom, had been altered by marketing to mean wanting “…huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

But those weren’t my favorite lines, which were at the beginning, “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!”

I stood at that thought, and walked over to the two walls of plate glass, floor-to-ceiling windows that overlooked that N’Yack harbor. Clear days would allow you to see that Gray Lady standing with her back to us, far out in the harbor.

And my thoughts always went back to my own grandmother and her grandmother – who had started and fostered a lineage of independent geniuses, ones who kept that legacy of pushing forward the technologies of this culture.

They didn’t come here through that harbor, but instead were born and raised in the Heartland. Extreme geniuses with talent far beyond their time, education, and sex.

Along with that natural-born freedom to think, to innovate, to create a better world than the one we each were born into.

I brushed a black lock out of my eyes and swung the rest of that long dark mane out of my way. And put my arms akimbo as I stood there, defiant against the history that had brought me here to this point in time, this office.

That’s what I thought as I looked far out across that harbor, looking for the real Gray Lady out there.

Not for long.

Because right about the time of that thought, I got a blinding flash of intuition and my reflexes soared me into action. Literally.

I ran, leaped, and flew across to the other side of my up-armored desk, where I landed and curled into a reverse-rolling ball of tucked knees and arms. A ball that bumped to a stop back under that tiny desk crawlspace.

Just before the explosion blew what was left of those two glass corner walls out into the streets below. And ignited the rest of my former office into a fireball.

At least that’s what they later told me happened.

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Saturday, August 03, 2019

Root – New Speculative Fiction by C. C. Brower, J. R. Kruze

Root - New Speculative Fiction by C. C. Brower, J. R. Kruze

When A.I. goes wrong, it goes horribly wrong.

In order to make massive changes to any computer program, you have to have administrator access: “root”.

Integrating chips into humans had become almost a social media requirement. Fear of Missing Out had the latest enhancements available to anyone who could afford them. Soon, legislatures legalized a simple audio “bio-hack” now available through over-the-counter pharmacies and installed as simply as a ear piercing. The chips had “momentary” root access to your brain. (It said so in the tiny type of the TOS.)

Soon, advertising-paid versions made the cost of implants virtually free, as the massed populations of major metropolitan and coastal megalopoli were all connected. Software upgrades were free and frequent.

And then the “fad” of the timed dopamine “rushes” started – where everyone stopped mid-action and enjoyed the smooth burst of calming hormones while a Macarena-style tune played. Like an elevator-music sponored pomodoro break where everybody simply went on “pause”.

Then the “accidental” deaths became more commonplace. Some regained their motion faster than others, an advantage for petty thieves – and others.

A single teen-ager saw a pattern to the deaths – as murders-for-hire. But who listened to an underachieving high-school student with a conspiracy theory, no matter how brilliant. Except this one girl with some serious connections…

But the hacks also worked in reverse. Soon they were pursued – by those people who “returned” a split-second faster than others.

And wanted to keep it their little secret…

Excerpt:

It was only polite to stop and stare.

Also, it meant that the cops wouldn’t bust you or ship you off to some “facility” where they kept “people like you”.

Because the city, everyone it in – except for us extreme few – were all wired in. This is where social media led us to. For a few moments every hour, like some sort of enforced pomodoro break, people would zone out wherever they were and whatever they were doing. They’d all wake up on cue, smile and carry on.

The rest of us had to play along. Or else.

Because when 99.99 percent of humans around you all did the same thing – you’d better, too. People had not-so-funny ways to dealing with people that didn’t. Especially as they were vulnerable – everyone was vulnerable – during those moments. So it was a matter of “public safety” that you pretended to zone out along with everyone else.

Just another reason for the walls around the city, and keeping people out as much as keeping them in. To keep us safe from everything else “out there”. Where they weren’t necessarily all plugged in. The rumors were that those were all the Luddites and ‘deplorables’ who were so ‘backward’ they couldn’t see the obvious advantages to plugging in. Just above their station, they explained.

Like that was a bad thing.

– – – –

Me, I couldn’t be bothered. I had my studies to do. I had things to figure out.

For now, I could almost count down the days, hours, and seconds before I was no longer required to attend their truly dreary “schooling” to get my mandated so many hours of “education” so I’d be one of their “well-adjusted” and “productive members of society”.

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