This week’s offering is three videos of classic science fiction and fantasy reads. We hope you’ll enjoy them all. If you are interested in the books, they can be purchased via the links provided.

If you are an author and would like to participate in one of these series, please visit the eSpec Books Author Reading Series Facebook page for details.

The eSpec Books Author Reading Series

Lisanne Norman reading an excerpt from her short story “Hope’s Children” from In Harm’s Way (DTF8) edited by Mike McPhail.

The eSpec Guest Author Reading Series

Danielle Ackley-McPhail reading an excerpt from her short story “Mama Bear” from the upcoming anthology Bad Ass Moms, edited by Mary Fan and published by Crazy8 Press.

Gordon Linzner reading his story Masquerade, published in issue #1 of JEET fanzine way back in the day!

All purchase links in these posts are Amazon Associate links
and we do receive a token commission if you should purchase via these links.



We are proud to announce that eSpec Books has launched a brand-new YouTube series featuring our authors reading from their works. A number of videos have already been posted and more are to come. Here is a list of what is already up:


Danielle Ackley-McPhail reading Brothers (from Dogs of War, Defending the Future Volume 6)


Danielle Ackley-McPhail reading A Legacy of Stars (from A Legacy of Stars, a stand-alone collection)

Jeff Young reading Bucket Brigade (from In Harm’s Way, Defending the Future Volume 8)

Please like and subscribe to be notified of new videos as they are posted.



We are thrilled to announce that several of our authors were recognized in Tangent’s annual Recommended Reading List among some very prestigious company.

To give you the highlights relevant to eSpec Books:

From Footprints in the Stars,
edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail

“The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of” by Christopher L. Bennett (Footprints in the Stars, 7/19) SF (VS)

“The Black Box” by James Chambers (Footprints in the Stars, 7/19) SF (VS)

“The Sound of Distant Stars” by Judi Fleming (Footprints in the Stars, 7/19) SF (VS)

From (DTF8) In Harm’s Way, edited by Mike McPhail

“Slingshot” by Aaron Rosenberg (In Harm’s Way, 10/19) SF (TG)

“Medicine Man” by Robert E. Waters (In Harm’s Way, 10/19) SF (TG)

“Sympathetic” by Eric V. Hardenbrook (In Harm’s Way, 10/19) SF (TG)

Heroes of the RealmFrom Heroes of the Realm, edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail (Published by RealmMakers)

“Hard’s Watcher” by Kerry Nietz (Heroes of the Realm, 7/19) SF (KPH)

“The Brick” by Jeffrey Lyman (Heroes of the Realm, 7/19) SF* (KPH) – One-Star Recommendation


Congratulations to the contributors to In Harm’s Way, book 8 in the Defending the Future anthology series, for recognition in Publisher’s Weekly of a job well done.  Highlighted in the review were authors Brenda Cooper, David Sherman, and James Chambers.

This impressive anthology of 12 military science fiction stories pairs suspense with heart, showcasing oppressive regimes, deeds of heroism in the wake of alien invasions, and the depths of limitless, unknown space. – Publisher’s Weekly

(Click on the above link for the full review.)

Back Cover Copy

When fire and steel meet flesh and bone, a soldier learns a hard truth: you’re not fighting for Glory and Honor, but for survival, for you and your comrades, and you will be damned if you’re going to leave any of them behind.

Join us for twelve tales of military heroism and courage in the face of a hostile enemy.

With stories by Brenda Cooper, Bud Sparhawk, David Sherman, Robert E. Waters, Jeff Young, James Chambers, Lisanne Norman, Robert Greenberger, Aaron Rosenberg, Christopher M. Hiles, Eric V. Hardenbrook, and Danielle Ackley-McPhail

If you are a reviewer, bookseller, or librarian interested in a review copy, the book is currently listed on NetGalley through the end of August. 



Normally, I would wait for the final cover image with text and such, but I am so impressed with the base art that I just can’t wait. Here is what will eventually be the cover for In Harm’s Way (Defending the Future volume 8).

In Harm’s Way – Mike McPhail, McP Digital Graphics

It is funding right now…just three days left. Here’s the link, if you’d like to check it out: In Harm’s Way.

Would you want to see this as an art print option?


Just four days left to score some amazing bonuses. The below excerpt is from one of the stories featured in In Harm’s Way. Robert will have a story in Footprints in the Stars as well. Please consider checking it out on Kickstarter, or perhaps helping us spread the word. 

The Oath

Robert Greenberger

The deck plating rattled, adding to the cacophony that made it difficult to concentrate. There were concussive sounds coming from all directions although it appeared there were few direct hits on Biânjìng itself, but Jasmine Yue found it difficult to discern anything with assurance. All she knew was that the red alert klaxon woke her far too soon after her twelve-hour shift ended, then she was back in her scrubs and out the door of her cabin in under five minutes. As she hustled into the Emergency Room, adjacent to the colony’s clinic, it was clear casualties, other than nerves, were light – for now.

CMO Dhruv Naccarato, tall, dark-complected, and with impossibly straight black hair, nodded at her arrival, her hands attending to a leg wound. Yue immediately donned surgical gloves and awaited instructions.

As the pair silently worked on the victim, a man Yue did not recognize, she was given the highlights: a score of small alien spacecraft had arrived, somehow avoiding Quatrième’s planetary defenses, and opened fire on the Biânjìng colony. They had been firing back and forth for the last half hour.

There had been archaeological remains found on two of the other colony worlds, but they dated back centuries or millennia, confirming humans were far from alone in the universe. Yue settled on Biânjìng, the fourth human establishment on an alien world, helping establish the Quatrième colony. She arrived just as the last of the dome was completing, allowing oxygen to flow and humans to breathe. The scope of the years-long project astonished her along with the promises of new discoveries, never anticipating she would be part of the first contact with a living alien species after just four years. This was not how anyone had hoped for a living first contact to go, although it did confirm the worst fears of some factions still on Earth.

“Focus,” Naccarato snapped, forcing Yue to blink twice and study her colleague’s hands. They were carefully repairing vein damage to the man’s left leg and Yue needed to keep the area sponged clean. Noise around them increased as more injured arrived, more than the small medical staff could reasonably handle.

“I need more hands,” Naccarato snapped, her voice betraying a trace of her Indian heritage. “Tell Rocky to send whoever he can spare.”

Another nurse confirmed the order and hurried off to signal the deputy commander while Yue began arranging the dermaplast that would be packed around the wound to protect it from infection and help new skin grow.

As the pair began to close the torn skin, the loudest whoomph yet reverberated through the casing. Heads snapped up, brows knit in concern, and everyone hushed leaving the various machines to hum by themselves, waiting for someone from CentComm to let them know what just happened. Seconds later, the speakers flared to life and the red alert signal was cut off.

“Remain in place,” the stern voice ordered, one Yue didn’t recognize. “Alien vessel down half a klick from Biânjìng. Other ships are either destroyed or fled. Remain on highest alert.”

After the message repeated, silence fell over the Emergency Room but that lasted only seconds as doctors and nurses resumed work, giving orders, receiving confirmations although everyone’s voices were now subdued. Volunteers, anyone with EMT or even basic First Aid training, were beginning to arrive. Naccarato, to her credit, afforded them a quick acknowledging look and then directed them without pausing with her patient; freeing the more experienced medical staff to tend to the direst of injuries. The colony had three operating rooms, all of which were in service, which was why she and Yue were working in the ER. The energy level rose but there was efficiency, not panic.

Still, Yue worried what would happen to the colony and to the inhabitants of the alien starcraft that lay just a short walk away.

Bob_Greenberger copyRobert Greenberger is a writer and editor. He has worked for Starlog Press, where he created Comics Scene, the first nationally distributed magazine to focus on comic books, comic strips, and animation, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Weekly World News, Famous Monsters of Filmland,, and is a founding member of Crazy 8 Press. His dozens of books, short stories, and essays include Hellboy II: The Golden Army, for which he won the IAMTW’s Scribe Award, and The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: Murder at Sorrow’s Crown, co-written with Steven Savile. He is a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America and the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers, and holds a Master of Science in Education from the University of Bridgeport and a Master of Arts in Creative Writing & Literature for Educators from Fairleigh Dickinson University.


Here’s another excerpt from the upcoming anthology In Harm’s Way (Defending The Future 8), which is currently funding on Kickstarter. We have met our initial goal and are now working toward our stretch goals.

The following excerpt takes place in the author’s bestselling Starfist universe.

Contained Vacuum


According to  Janes Commercial Starfleets of the Confederation of Human Worlds, the unidentified starship off the  Dayzee Mae’s port bow was the SS Runstable, which had vanished two years previous, along with her crew and cargo.

Sergeant Tim Kerr, of the Confederation Marine Corps, stood on the bridge of the Dayzee Mae, watching the derelict ship on the display. The ship’s acting captain, Lieutenant Junior Grade McPherson, had just finished briefing him. The Runstable’s cargo had been destined for twenty different worlds, none of which were near enough to this jump point to explain why the ship might be where it was. And all of the containers she was carrying when last heard from were missing; the superstructure made a narrow tower over the empty container deck. It was emitting a distress signal but carried no friend or foe identification.

“She must have been taken by pirates,” McPherson said, “then abandoned here. This location is far enough from normal trade routes that she wouldn’t be found quickly. We don’t have a surveillance tech aboard,” he added apologetically, “and we lack the necessary equipment to detect life forms on her. So you’ll be going in blind.”

Kerr nodded silently, his gaze intent on the latest display, which showed the starship in fuzzy detail. Her near-space running lights were on, but her passenger hatch and a bridge hatch were open. No lights showed through the open hatches.

The Dayzee Mae was a civilian starship, confiscated by the Confederation navy when they caught her supporting an illegal alien slavery operation on the twin worlds Opal and Ishtar. McPherson and his crew were ferrying her to the navy base on Thorsfinni’s World where another crew would transport her to wherever the Court of Inquiry determined she should go. So, naturally, she didn’t have military-grade sensors. She did, however, have one piece of military equipment never before found on a civilian freighter. The THB, Tweed Hull Breacher, was used by Confederation Marines to cut their way into hostile or potentially hostile starships. The THB carried by the Dayzee Mae had been used by the Marines when they boarded and took her.

Finally, Kerr said, “It could be an ambush. I want to use the THB and force an entryway. We’ll enter through the rear of the bridge.”

“You’ve got it, Sergeant.” McPherson gave a wry grin. “You are our expert on hostile boardings.”

Kerr grunted. He hoped the boarding wouldn’t be against a hostile force; he and his men had seen enough action on this latest deployment, and were on their way home. Second squad, third platoon, Company L of 34th Fleet Initial Strike Team’s infantry battalion had been given the assignment of providing security on the Dayzee Mae during her transit to Thorsfinni’s World because the squad had suffered badly in the action on Ishtar. Two of the fire team leaders and one other Marine were still nominally on light duty, and two new men weren’t completely integrated into the squad yet. Chain of command thought this duty would give them a chance to rest and recuperate.

“We’re Marines,” Sergeant Kerr said a short time later, when some of his men groaned at being told about the boarding mission. “Everyone in Human Space expects us to do anything necessary, at any time, in any place, regardless how difficult.”

“We’re Marines,” Corporal Rachman Claypoole—one of the injured fire team leaders—muttered. “We do the difficult immediately. The impossible might take a little longer.”

“That’s right, Rock,” Kerr said. “Now go to the arms locker to check out your weapons and armored vacuum suits.”

“With chameleon overalls?” Corporal Chan asked.

“Yes,” he said. There was no telling who or what they might find aboard the derelict. The invisibility provided by chameleons could prove to be vital.

Armored suits, sir? Are we expecting trouble, Corporal Claypoole?” asked PFC Berry, one of the two new men in the squad.

There were vacuum suits, and there were armored vacuum suits. One protected the wearer from the vacuum of space, and the micrometeorites that swarmed through it.  Armored vacuum suits protected the wearer from the flechettes that could shred an unarmored suit, and almost every other known projectile, including plasma weapons, such as the Marines’ own blasters.

Claypoole snorted. “We’re Marines boarding an unknown starship in interstellar space. We don’t have an invitation. No shit, we’re expecting trouble.”


eSpec Books has a current campaign to fund three books. We’ve met our base goal, so the first book is funded, which means I can start giving everyone a sneak peek at all the wonderful words inside 🙂 This second excerpt is by Aaron Rosenberg, author of media tie-in novels and original fiction. I hope you enjoy! If you do, please consider checking out our campaign for Defending the Future: In Harm’s Way. We have 13 days left to fund two more books. With your support and/or help spreading the word, we can make that happen!


Aaron Rosenberg

“Let’s move, people!” Callie Gunderson shouted as the doors slid open allowing them to pile into the launch room. “Sling in five!” Her team poured in behind her, each of them racing to their assigned post with the ease of long practice and the haste of necessity. Every second was precious but they’d done this enough times, both live and in simulation, to know that as long as they each stayed focused on their given tasks they could hit the launch window without any problems.

“I’ve got an anomaly here,” Heaven sang out, their voice clear and smooth, even melodious, despite the potentially dire pronouncement. “Weight is nearly 250 kilos over norm.” Their job was checking the allowances, making sure everything was within standard operating parameters.

“Are we still within tolerances?” Callie asked. She was over at her own station, which was medical, gathering the tools and medicines they’d need. This was an emergency evac so the goal was to get there, grab everyone, and get back, but there would probably be some patching up needed, either before bringing wounded onboard or once they were underway.

“Well within,” Heaven acknowledged. They tapped their screen. “And we can still fit the full crew complement for the return.”

“Then leave it,” Callie ordered. “We can check it in flight, see if there’s anything that got left behind by the last team—I’ll bet it was Havoc, that lazy ass—but as long as we won’t be over limit, it’s fine.” Going over limit was a serious issue, since the sling was carefully calculated for the established tolerances—add extra mass and the difference could change their angle, their velocity, their braking speed, or all of the above. Often with disastrous consequences. “Station check, sound off!” she called to the room at large.

“Allowances, check!” Heaven replied.

“Sling, check!” Django answered.

“Compartment, check!” came Bev’s response from within the capsule.

“Gear, check!” Tomas acknowledged beside Bev.

“Supplies, check!” Callie finished. She checked the countdown clock mounted on the wall. They had exactly two minutes left. “Launch positions!” She raced for the capsule, trailing Django but leading Heaven, and once inside the three of them joined Bev and Tomas, who were already buckling in. Django took the pilot’s chair and, as team lead, Callie claimed shotgun beside him, while Heaven took the first of the side seats on Django’s side, facing Bev and Tomas. Then it was just a matter of waiting for the clock to reach zero.

“Sling in five, four, three,” Django declared, finger hovering over the launch button. “Two, one—sling!” 

AaronRosenbergAaron Rosenberg is the author of the best-selling DuckBob series (consisting of No Small Bills, Too Small for Tall, and Three Small Coinkydinks), the Dread Remora space-opera series and, with David Niall Wilson, the O.C.L.T. occult thriller series. His tie-in work contains novels for Star Trek, Warhammer, WarCraft, and Eureka. He has written children’s books (including the original series Pete and Penny’s Pizza Puzzles, the award-winning Bandslam: The Junior Novel, and the #1 best-selling 42: The Jackie Robinson Story), educational books on a variety of topics, and over seventy roleplaying games (such as the original games Asylum, Spookshow, and Chosen, work for White Wolf, Wizards of the Coast, Fantasy Flight, Pinnacle, and many others, and both the Origins Award-winning Gamemastering Secrets and the Gold ENnie-winning Lure of the Lich Lord). He is the co-creator of the ReDeus series, and one of the founders of Crazy 8 Press. Aaron lives in New York with his family. You can follow him online at, on Facebook at, and on Twitter @gryphonrose.

eSpec Books titles that include Aaron Rosenberg:
The Side of Good/The Side of Evil
Defending the Future 7: Man and Machine

Upcoming eSpec Books titles that include Aaron Rosenberg:
Beyond the Cradle 2: Footprints in the Stars


eSpec Books has a current campaign to fund three books. We’ve met our base goal, so the first book is funded, which means I can start giving everyone a sneak peek at all the wonderful words inside 🙂 This first excerpt is by James Chambers, one of the very first people I ask to any project and for good reason. I hope you enjoy! If you do, please consider checking out our campaign for Defending the Future: In Harm’s Way. We have 18 days left to fund two more books. With your support and/or help spreading the word, we can make that happen!

A Beach on Nellus

James Chambers

Sarah Nuhr FitzRose spotted the missing planet cruiser, Mercury, submerged beneath clear water at the end of a trail gouged through the jungle to the narrow beach and into the bright, rippling surf. A tongue flick to the sheath of her helmet lit her augmented reality display. Among the illuminated strings of data blinked a red icon, confirming the proximity of the beacon sewn into the abducted girl’s clothes.

Sarah scouted the shore for a place to land. The next nearest scrap of earth on Nellus lay 660 miles away across a world covered 98 percent by ocean. She banked the glider and eyed a sandy strip fringed by vine-draped trees and elephantine leaves. Cutting altitude until spray kicked up, she fired her braking thrusters then skimmed her glider’s belly across the surface to slow her approach. The glider lurched sideways. Sarah wrestled with it on course, skipping from wave crest to wave crest. She nosed down, plunging the glider beneath the fluid’s skin. The sharp drop in speed pitched her forward, knocking her helmet against the cockpit glass. Caught by the undertow, her glider jerked sideways into shallow waters then spun and skidded up the beach, furrowing sand until it stopped hard against a thick wall of entwined tree trunks.

The glider’s systems malfunctioned and winked out. The echo of the crash rang in Sarah’s ears.

When the shock faded, she punched the cockpit release, lifted the glass, and spilled out onto the soft sand. Wrestling her feet under her, she stood, surveyed her landing, and found the glider’s frame crumpled beyond repair.

She activated a sensor in her helmet to initiate a diagnostic app for her vital signs and then confirmed her weapon remained holstered at her waist. Her sleek, black body suit looked undamaged, and seconds later the diagnostic confirmed her stats as normal and verified the com-link to her orbiting ship, the Sif. She retrieved her gear bag from the wreck and slung it across one shoulder.

Ahead, an endless ocean confronted her. Behind, the abyssal dark of deep jungle awaited. To either side, the pale sand narrowed until it vanished between the two realms. She could swim along the shore or trek through the lush growth to reach the Mercury. Either way, she belonged to Nellus now, to its barely charted oceans and its inscrutable jungle untouched since its discovery early in the Myriarchy War.

She referenced her frustratingly limited planetary knowledgebase. Nellus had claimed seven exploratory expeditions before then being ignored because it held no strategic value. The planet’s most common fauna, nicknamed nellies, resembled, according to their database image, a monstrous mix of lobster and tuna with a long, translucent fin rising from its back. Each had two mouths set vertically parallel and ringed with razor-sharp teeth. They hunted in schools, which could devour their prey completely in seconds, but feeding frenzies often continued with the school consuming its own, reducing its numbers by as much as one third before satiating its hunger. Only Nellus’ sea clouds, rare, enormous creatures larger even than Earth’s blue whales, preyed on the nellies. The database listed no such predators on land, making the jungle path far more inviting.

She cycled through her full mission plan. Radiant ghosts of terrain maps slid across her view augmented by meager data—water content, soil composition, weather patterns—regarding Nellus’ vast oceans dotted by a few scattered land masses, even the largest of which sometimes vanished beneath its tides. The only thing Sarah knew less about was her objective: the abducted girl.

James Chambers2019

James Chambers is an award-winning author of horror, crime, fantasy, and science fiction. He wrote the Bram Stoker Award®-winning graphic novel, Kolchak the Night Stalker: The Forgotten Lore of Edgar Allan Poe. Publisher’s Weekly described The Engines of Sacrifice, his collection of four Lovecraftian-inspired novellas published by Dark Regions Press as “…chillingly evocative…” in a starred review. His story, “A Song Left Behind in the Aztakea Hills,” was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award.

He has authored the short story collection Resurrection House and several novellas, including The Dead Bear Witness and Tears of Blood, in the Corpse Fauna novella series. He also wrote the illustrated story collection, The Midnight Hour: Saint Lawn Hill and Other Tales, created in collaboration with artist Jason Whitley.

His short stories have been published in the anthologies The Avenger: Roaring Heart of the CrucibleBad-Ass Faeries, Bad-Ass Faeries 2: Just Plain Bad, Bad-Ass Faeries 3: In All Their Glory, Bad Cop No Donut, The Best of Bad-Ass Faeries, The Best of Defending the Future, Breach the Hull, By Other Means, Chiral Mad 2, Chiral Mad 4, Dance Like A Monkey,  Dark Hallows II: Tales from the Witching Hour, Deep Cuts, The Domino Lady: Sex as a Weapon, Dragon’s Lure, Fantastic Futures 13, Gaslight and Grimm, The Green Hornet Chronicles, Hardboiled Cthulhu, Hear Them Roar In An Iron Cage, Kolchak the Night Stalker: Passages of the Macabre, Man and MachineMermaids 13 No Longer DreamsQualia Nous, Shadows Over Main Street (1 and 2), The Side of Good/The Side of Evil, The Society for the Preservation of CJ Henderson, So It Begins, The Spider: Extreme Prejudice, To Hell in a Fast Car, Truth or Dare, TV Gods, Walrus Tales, Weird Trails, and With Great Power; the chapbook Mooncat Jack; and the magazines Bare BoneCthulhu Sex, and Allen K’s Inhuman.

He has also written numerous comic books including Leonard Nimoy’s Primortals, the critically acclaimed “The Revenant” in Shadow HouseThe Midnight Hour with Jason Whitley, and the award-winning original graphic novel, Kolchak the Night Stalker: The Forgotten Lore of Edgar Allan Poe.

He is a member and trustee of the Horror Writers Association, and recipient of the 2012 Richard Laymon Award and the 2016 Silver Hammer Award.

He lives in New York.

Visit his website:

Other eSpec Books James Chambers has contributed to:
The Best of Defending the Future
The Best of Bad-Ass Faeries
The Society for the Preservation of CJ Henderson
Defending the Future 6: Dogs of War
Defending the Future 7: Man and Machine
Gaslight & Grimm
The Side of Good/The Side of Evil
Beyond the Cradle 1: If We Had Known
Awakened Modern
After Punk: Steampowered Tales of the Afterlife

Upcoming eSpec Books titles by James Chambers:
Three Chords of Chaos: A Bad-Ass Faerie Tale
The Dead Bear Witness
Tears of Blood
The Dead in Their Masses

Upcoming eSpec Books title James Chambers has contributed to:
Defending the Future 8: In Harm’s Way
Beyond the Cradle 2: Footprints in the Stars


One week in on our Kickstarter campaign and In Harm’s Way is already funded. We are also about a quarter of the way to funding Footprints in the Stars.

While all of that is going on, we have moved into high gear on completing the first book. The stories are nearly all in and edited, with several authors having already supplied their final versions. 

Mike McPhail (McP Digital Graphics) is hard at work on the cover elements. Below is a test render of the figures to be featured on the cover:


In Harm’s Way is the eighth book in the award-winning Defending the Future anthology series. (All of the books are stand-alone, the number designation only indicating publication order.) The theme for this volume is rescue and recovery stories, and the contributors are Brenda Cooper, Bud Sparhawk, David Sherman, Robert E. Waters, Jeff Young, James Chambers, Lisanne Norman, Robert Greenberger, Aaron Rosenberg, Christopher M. Hiles, Eric Hardenbrook, and Danielle Ackley-McPhail.

Want to be among the first to get your hands on a copy? Please consider supporting our Kickstarter. There are a lot of amazing rewards you can only get through this campaign. Less than three weeks remaining to get in on this deal. Early backers are already receiving up to four bonus books, in addition to their pledge reward.


Where has the year gone? Already a quarter of the way in and it hardly seems we’ve gotten anything done at all! Time to fix that. We have launched our next campaign.


This go-around we have three books we want to do: In Harm’s Way (Defending the Future Book 8) edited by Mike McPhail, Footprints in the Stars (Beyond the Cradle Book 2) edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail, and Devil Dancers, a single-author collection by Robert E. Waters. If we hit our goal the first one will be funded. From there we work to unlock the other books via the stretch goals.

To learn more, please visit our page on Kickstarter.

Not your thing? Or not the right time? Don’t have the extra in your budget?

We understand. We’ve been there! But you can still help us by spreading the word.

Thank you,