COVER REVEAL – MAN AND MACHINE

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We are excited to present to you the cover of Man and Machine, Defending the Future Volume 7. After a three-year hiatus, editor Mike McPhail has given us another great volume for your reading enjoyment, featuring series veterans Brenda Cooper, Bud Sparhawk, Jennifer Brozek, James Chambers, Patrick Thomas, Jeff Young, Robert E. Waters, Eric Hardenbrook, Nancy Jane Moore, Judi Fleming, and Danielle Ackley-McPhail, plus our newest recruits: Ronald T. Garner, Aaron Rosenberg, and Anton Kukal.

In addition, the collection contains a final farewell from CJ Henderson, written just before his passing, about his participation in the Defending the Future Series.


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Back Cover Copy

The plan had been to un-man the battlespace, replacing flesh and blood with steel and carbon fiber. Machines, both remote-controlled and autonomous A.I.s, would fight and be destroyed in the name of freedom; sparing the troops at the cost of the nation’s treasure.

However, as with any arms race, the opposing side’s technology eventually catches ups to yours, resulting in the need to put lives back in harm’s way on the frontline; to deal with, and adapt to the unknown, as only humans can.

 

eSPEC BOOKS WEEK IN REVIEWS

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This has been a rather good week for discovering reviews. Here are the highlights. To read the full review, click the link. 

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“If you’re a comic fan, this will fit you to a tee, and even if you’re not, this is still a collection of well written and fun stories.” 4 1/2 Stars, David L. Felts, SF Reader.com 

Congrats to Gail Z. Martin, Larry N. Martin, John L. French, James M. Ward, and Drew Bittner for being highlighted in the review.

“Personally I found the Side of Evil stories to be more enjoyable, but that may be personal alignment.” 3 Stars, Danny, Goodreads


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“I tried not to let my personal love of CJ affect my rating here but, thankfully, the stories were all wonderful enough that it becomes a nonissue.” 5 Stars, Joshua Hair, Goodreads


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“I liked this book, and if you are a steampunk or fairy tale fan, this you will probably like it, too.” 3 Stars, Laura, Goodreads


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“This anthology of Fantasy stories is quite excellent. There was not one weak story here.” 5 Stars, Jeff Miller, Goodreads

 

DECEMBER NETGALLEY ANNOUNCEMENT

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Do you love great speculative fiction? Are you a reviewer? Would you like to be?

eSpec Books offers all of our new titles on NetGalley for review. Reviews can be posted on Amazon, GoodReads, or a personal or professional blog site. Currently available are our two newest novels. You must have a NetGalley account to request the books for review, but anyone can create an account. To request these titles click on the below titles.


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by Brenda Cooper

The world, for some, has crumbled.

Disease and natural disasters have brought on social collapse in the Pacific Northwest.

For Sage, born and raised in the safe haven of the Oregon Botanical Gardens, that has never been more than academic.

What more could she ask for than to be safe and fed?

But life in the Garden is static.

Sage longs to experience the world beyond the Garden walls as society climbs from the chaos. Her reckless exploration forces her elders to give her a choice: Stay here, hidden in safety, or go and never return.

Sage chooses to leave.

Will she learn soon enough on her journey that the world outside the Garden follows no law? That there is no predator more dangerous than man?

Will she learn soon enough that to rebuild the world one must be ready to fight for it?

She will need to if she chooses to live.


Brenda Cooper’s novel, Edge of Dark, just won the Endeavour Award


proof-front-sisterThe Sister Paradox 

by Jack Campbell

Liam Doesn’t Have A Sister. And She’s Weird.

Liam is his parents’ only child,
and that’s just fine with him.

Until the day the sister-he-never-had
shows up at school.

Just to make it worse, the sword-wielding Kari tells him they have an important quest to complete.

And that’s how Liam finds himself dragged into another world, facing basilisks and unicorns, cursed objects, elves, and even a dragon, all magical and dangerous, but none more so than the sister he didn’t have until that morning. A sister who turns out to be quite good with her sword, and ready to use it when faced with things like a dragon as long as her brother is at her side.

Liam begins to realize two things: it’s going to be a very long day, and having a sister can be weird.

But most unsettling of all, he’s not sure he minds…


“Jack Campbell has penned a fun, engaging, fantasy story that’s brought to life by depth and authenticity of its young characters. A major  win!”

– Ty Drago, Author of the Undertakers and Publisher of ALLEGORY


 

WINNER – COSMOS

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Our congratulations to Christopher J. Burke, winner in eSpec Books’ November Flash Fiction Contest. His prize is publication on the eSpec blog and one free ebook from among the eSpec publication list.

Honorable Mention
Anton Kukal – The Broken Boy

For those interested in submitting to this month’s contest details can be found at:

DECEMBER FLASH FICTION CONTEST – A VILLAIN IS BORN


Surveying the Void
Christopher J. Burke

Martinez sat in the pilot’s seat, like she did for sixteen hours every day, staring into the inky black void between the stars. The rest of the time she spent lying in her bunk a few feet away in the back of the small cabin or in the cylindrical shower stall across from it. Next to the stall was a mini-galley, containing the dwindling supply of rations and an increasing number of plastic bags, filled of the refuse of many meals gone by, and sealed with duct tape.

The instruments hummed quietly, powered mainly by sunlight eight hours old. Sensors were always on the lookout for stray comets and odd plutinos. However, most of the time, they just dutifully recorded what scarce invisible particles could be found in that vast nothingness of space. Not that there was anything wrong with that—or the equipment, for that matter. Nothing is a data point, too. A boring one, but still data. Everyone knew there would be more zeroes than ones out here. And all those bits were being strung together to form a digital environmental map of the region just beyond the outer Kuiper Belt.

Some days, the dull, tedious monotony had her wishing for, say, aliens to appear from a hyperspatial wormhole and demand an audience with her Queen. But she would settle for a stray asteroid crossing her path like a black cat on Friday the 13th.

Not that the occasional icy, space rock hadn’t crossed her path. The bigger ones were identified, observed, photographed, scanned, and catalogued. Smaller ones, as large as bowling balls but much more massive, could be collected. That required a combination of skill, luck, and actual piloting. Any excuse to deviate from the programmed flight plan was put into action. As a result, at least a dozen of them had been secured in the hold.

Those were the days she lived for. Something positive to do. A chance to take the wheel, fire the thrusters and enter a course correction afterward. Those calculations alone broke up the boredom.

And then when it was done and logged, back to watching the viewscreen and checking the equipment. If nothing else, after five months and four trips in an ever-widening arc, Capt. Lisbeth Martinez knew the equipment inside and out. She could probably be certified in operations and maintenance.

Midday by the ship’s clock, she ripped open a ration bar and grabbed her journal. She’d taken to writing daily reflections on the trip and how her life had brought out here on the edge of humanity. The decisions she’d made. Her choices, both good and poor. The things she had accomplished, and the void she felt inside. And what had led her to a six-month stint inside a single-manned survey ship.

She’d filled hundreds of pages with doodles and musings and along the way had discovered quite a bit about herself. She’d realized that even with others flying similar routes—explorers, traders, miners, and scientists—there were days where she estimated that if she turned the viewer toward that bright, but tiny star in the distance, every human in existence would fall somewhere on the port side of her ship. No one to starboard. On a map of all humanity, she could draw an arrow to the very last dot on the far right edge and label it, “Lisbeth Martinez was here.”

Looking up at the Sun, she wondered. Where was Earth in its orbit? Were her parents on this side or the other? What about her sister, Flora, with her lakeside house on Mars?

She was so lost in thought that she didn’t hear the sensors until the fourth chirp. Something was out there in the distance up ahead, twenty degrees starboard. She glanced at the fuel gauge and then turned on the radio.

Kuiper Base, this is Capt. Lisbeth Martinez on Papa Sierra 1-7-8. Deviating from plan to intercept unknown object.”

A moment later, the speaker squawked back at her. “Papa Sierra 1-7-8, this is Kuiper Base. Negative, you are too low on fuel.”

“Nate! Glad it’s you on duty. You know I have this. I’ve done it lots of times.”

“Martinez, you’re almost home and you’re already overdue from venturing too far astray. I don’t want you getting stranded out there.”

She smiled. “Nate, you worry too much. I won’t use any more than I need. Besides, Colonel, you know I’ve already done the calculations.” She hadn’t, of course, but that wasn’t a cause for concern. Still, she shut the radio in case he called her on the bluff.

Martinez rolled to the right, adjusted the pitch, and applied just enough thrust to get her close to the pinging object like she’d done a dozen times before. Time to make it a baker’s dozen.

Smooth sailing. A moment later, she had visual confirmation of another dirty snowball about the size of a grapefruit. After a couple more quick maneuvers, she brought it aboard.

Then she took her pencil and opened the journal to a fresh page and started working out the calculations to get back. She could’ve called Col. Nathaniel “Nate” Oldacre for an assist, but who wanted the “I told you so” that would accompany it.

It was a week later when PS187 limped into Kuiper Base and docked. The crew chief met the ship immediately with a maintenance team. Col. Oldacre personally came down to speak to Martinez, so she could see him as he spoke to her through the comm on a private channel.

“Colonel, I’m ready to go out again as soon as the ship is supplied.”

“Lis, you have less than three weeks left on your sentence. You can spend it confined below decks. I can get you a link to the video library, so you won’t be bored. No one has to know you’re there. No one will bother you.”

“Thank you, sir. I’d rather go out again.”

He sighed. “You know that’s another month, minimum. And with your curiosity and your seeming determination to want to break through the heliopause to find Voyager 1, it’ll be much longer.”

“This room has been my home for five months and eight days. I’d rather be locked in here seeing the cosmos than be stuck down there watching them on a vidscreen.”

The colonel had figured her choice already. While they talked, the crew had already begun resupplying Prison Ship 187, and it was already scheduled to depart at 0800, Base time.

 

DECEMBER FLASH FICTION CONTEST – A VILLAIN IS BORN

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In the Harry Potter universe, the child who would become Lord Voldemort was born on December 31, 1926 (don’t try and do the math…it doesn’t work). In honor of this fantastic fictional day, we want to see your stories about that pivotal moment when something sets your character on the path to the dark side. You have 1231 words. Entries may be in any of the speculative genres.

NOTE: Your entry should not in any way include the characters or settings from the Harry Potter universe, to do so would be a copyright violation and would invalidate the entry.

Click here to learn more about Tom Riddle/Voldemort.

Entries should be mailed to especbooks@aol.com as a .doc, .docx, or .rtf attachment no later than midnight on December 31st. Please include your name, story title, and contact information on your manuscript itself. If we cannot identify your entry from the file you will be disqualified. Multiple submissions are permissible, but reprints are not. Winning entry will be published on the eSpec Books blog and the winner will receive a free ebook copy of the eSpec Books title of their choice. Prize can be reserved for a future book if the winner already has the available titles.

Visit http://www.especbooks.com for a list of titles.

NOVEMBER FLASH FICTION CONTEST – COSMOS


Just ten hours left to enter this month’s flash fiction contest!

eSpec Books

cosmosCarl Sagan was born on November 9th, 1934. He inspired whole generations not only to look to the stars, but to reach out and touch them. In honor of this great man, this month’s theme is Cosmos. Stories can be fantasy, science fiction, pretty much any genre, as long as it nails the theme. You have 1934 words.

Click here to learn more about Carl Sagan.

Entries should be mailed to especbooks@aol.com as a .doc, .docx, or .rtf attachment. Please include your name, story title, and contact information on your manuscript itself. If we cannot identify your entry from the file you will be disqualified. Multiple submissions are permissible, but reprints are not. Winning entry will be published on the eSpec Books blog and the winner will receive a free ebook copy of the eSpec Books title of their choice. Prize can be reserved for a future book if…

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CONVENTION SCHEDULE – PHILCON

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Philcon

Hard to believe that Philcon is already coming up. eSpec Books will have a table in the dealer’s room, for those who need to bring their library up to date. We will also be holding a launch party Saturday from 7pm to 9pm in the Con Suite (823). Hope to see you there! Below is our full schedule.

Danielle Ackley-McPhail
Sat 7:00PM in Executive Suite 823 – The eSpec Books Launch Party, Hour 1
Sat 8:00PM in Executive Suite 823 – The eSpec Books Launch Party, Hour 2

Panelists: Danielle Ackley-McPhail (mod), Mike McPhail, Jeff Young, Robert E. Waters, James Chambers, Eric Hardenbrook, Lawrence M. Schoen

eSpec Books launches their new titles, The Best of Defending the Future, edited by Mike McPhail and Danielle Ackley-McPhail, POST by Brenda Cooper, and In the Lamplight, by L. Jagi Lamplighter. Join the authors and editors for food, fun, and prizes

Sun 11:00AM in Plaza III (Three) – Marketing Multi-Genre Works
Sun 1:00PM in Plaza III (Three) – So Should I Just Self-Publish Through Amazon, or What? 

Mike McPhail
Fri 9:00PM in Plaza III (Three) – “Reverse the Polarity? But that Would…!”

Sat 11:00AM in Executive Suite C – Shared Storytelling in Games
Sat 12:00PM in Plaza II (Two) – What To Do When Real Science Outpaces Your Current SF Project 
Sat 7:00PM in Executive Suite 823 – The eSpec Books Launch Party, Hour 1
Sat 8:00PM in Executive Suite 823 – The eSpec Books Launch Party, Hour 2