An excerpt from
Send in the Clones
A tale of the Super City Police Department
by Keith R.A. DeCandido

(From The Side of Evil)

Who’s in the interrogation room?”

Detective Kristin Milewski, who simply had not had enough coffee yet, stared intently at Officer M.C. Cunningham as she asked the question.

For her part, Cunningham looked very reluctant to answer. “I think it’s the Clone Master.”

“You think?”

“Well, he looks just like him, but he’s dressed up in that silly white outfit that all his henchmen wear.”

“And he just showed up?”

Cunningham nodded. “Came in, went straight to Sarge’s desk, wearing the whole outfit, saying he had to talk to a detective about the Clone Master. Then he took off the mask, and it was the Clone Master. Sarge had me take him up to Interrogation 2, and—well, you two are the only ones here.”

Milewski turned to face her partner, Detective Jorge Alvarado, who held up both hands. “Whatcha lookin’ at me for? I don’t even remember which one the Clone Master is.” Alvarado recently moved to Super City from Baltimore, and he still hadn’t gotten all the superheroes and supervillains straight in his head.

Though he should have recalled this one, as he was the scourge of the homicide squad. “Clone Master’s the one who keeps dying and then coming back. He’s probably the most reckless of the costumes out there, and he’s always getting himself knocked off. Every time that happens, one of us has to perform a death investigation, because the annotated code says that every time a body falls in Super City, the SCPD must perform an investigation. Which, for the Clone Master, is a huge waste of time, because somehow he always comes back.” She turned back to Cunningham. “And he’s in there now?”

“Disguised as one of his henchmen, yeah. I don’t get it, either, but he said he wanted a detective, so…” The uniformed officer shrugged.

Milewski stared at Alvarado, then stared at Cunningham, then declared, “I need more coffee.”

Once she’d poured more of the squadroom sludge into the mug her mother gave her when she made detective, she led Alvarado into the video room. The interrogation rooms all had cameras that fed to monitors here.

In her years on the job, Milewski had never actually encountered the Clone Master in person. The last two times he died and there was the usual abortive investigation, Fischer and Billinghurst had handled it. Both instances were right after she got promoted to homicide from vice. She had seen his face a few times, though, in news reports, and once in the morgue when the M.E. was working on one of his clones.

The person she saw on the monitor for Interrogation 2 matched her memory of that face: large nose, weak chin, beady eyes, and tiny ears. He was drumming his fingers on the battered metal table in the center of the room, and rocking back and forth in the metal chair. That seat was uneven and squeaky and uncomfortable, all of which was quite deliberate, since the people who sat there were intended to be made as uncomfortable as possible.

The one difference was that this one didn’t have a right eyebrow.

“That’s the guy?” Alvarado asked.

Milewski nodded. “And he’s wearing the same outfit his thugs wear. All the guys who help him on his jobs wear that froofy all-white thing that makes them look like low-rent Jedi, plus hoods to hide their faces.”

“That’s gotta fuck up their peripheral vision.”

“Prob’ly, yeah.” Milewski gulped down the rest of her coffee, which burned her throat a bit. “Let’s dig out the casefiles on the last couple Clone Master deaths, and then we’ll see what he’s got to say.”

They went to the file cabinets and retrieved the files in question, and then went into the interrogation room. The Clone Master stopped drumming his fingers and sat up straight. “Finally!”

“I’m Detective Milewski, this is Detective Alvarado. You must be the Clone Master.”

“I’m Markos Balidemaj, yes. Or, rather, I’m Clone Number 78. I mean, I’m both. I’m a clone of the Clone Master.”

Milewski sat down across from him, placing the two folders in front of her, while Alvarado chose instead to lean against the far wall. “So what do we call you. ‘Mr. 78’? Or can we be casual and call you ‘Clone’?”

“I wish I could answer, but I’m having trouble keeping track of who I am.”

“Okay. Well, you came to us, so why don’t you tell Detective Alvarado and I what it is you want to say?”

He took a very deep breath. “I want to enumerate all the crimes committed by all the various versions of Markos Balidemaj since 2007.”

Alvarado asked, “Is that when the Clone Master first showed up?”

“Of course,” the clone said as if it was the stupidest question ever.

“He’s new,” Milewski said quickly. “I remember when he—or you, whatever—first showed up. You took on Old Glory and got your ass kicked, but you got away. Two weeks later, the Bruiser fought you and you were killed. Everyone figured that was the end of it, and nobody understood why you were called the Clone Master.”

“And then another Clone Master arrived to do battle with the Superior Six.”

“When you also died.”

Balidemaj smiled. “Well, I—or, rather, the Clone Master—can afford to be reckless.”

~ * ~

Read the whole thing in The Side of Good / The Side of Evil releasing December 1, 2015.


Everyone loves a hero…but sometimes we can’t help but root for the villain…

Indulge both impulses with this nostalgic flipbook anthology—The Side of Good / The Side of Evil. After all, everyone is the hero of their own story and sometimes a change in perspective can make a world of difference. 

Superheroes inspire us to be more than we can be, and on the flip side, Supervillains are reminders of the potential for darkness within us all. The Side of Good / The Side of Evil looks at the best and worst that über-mankind is capable of.

With stories by comic book and literary masters: James M. Ward, Bryan J.L. Glass, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Aaron Rosenberg, Robert Greenberger, Gail Z. Martin, Janine K. Spendlove, James Chambers, Walt Ciechanowski, Neal Levin, John L. French, and Kathleen David this collection is guaranteed to be super…no matter which side you pledge your allegiance to.

Featuring a never-before-published Furious(TM) short story! 


by Rachel Fernandez


The wait is over and it’s time to party! This Saturday November 21, 2015 join us for a pre-release launch for the highly anticipated nostalgic flipbook anthology, The Side of Good / The Side of Evil.

Come celebrate the release, attend panel discussions, and meet The Side of Good / The Side of Evil attending editors and authors, including: Danielle Ackley-­McPhail, Greg Schauer, Bryan J.L. Glass, Gail Martin, Walt Ciechanowski, James Chambers, Drew Bittner, Aaron Rosenberg, and Keith R.A. DeCandido, as well as meet attending artists Mike McPhail and Jason Whitley.

What: Philcon: The Side of Good / Side of Evil Launch Party
Where:  Crowne Plaza Hotel, Cherry Hill, NJ in the Con Suite (suite 823)
When: Saturday, 7pm-9pm.

Can’t make it to the launch? We’re sad to hear it, but you can still get this amazing collection. Pre-order your copy on Amazon.

NOTE: To get this book in ebook pre-order the individual ebooks The Side of Good (B016Z5GEF8) and The Side of Evil (B016X95RC2)


ebook-Final-HourglassAn Excerpt from
The Girl in the Hourglass
by Drew Bittner

JANUARY 4 wrote:

Another year, another blog entry, dear readers. I have to write an essay on the War for Mr. Samuels—600 words, can you believe it?—and then go to my weekly session. Mom’s offered to help, so I’m thinking about writing it from her point of view. I mean, who wouldn’t? She went through The Process as a teenager, became a superstar on the battlefield and for Victory Studios, and she even survived… unscathed! Having a figure from the history books sleeping a dozen yards away is pretty useful sometimes.

What else? Oh, they’re upping my meds again. Seems I’m growing a tolerance. Egad, I might actually be able to feel an emotion. Is that allowed? Not for me. :::dramatic sigh:::

Ah well. Off to the salt mines of high school. Miss Double-Red, out!

(See additional 15 comments…)

Kyrie slouched in the passenger seat, wrapped in sullen silence, as Susan pulled their sedan up to the curb. Her daughter was good at sullen and silence both. “Okay, you know the drill, kiddo,” the former superheroine Superhot said to her child. “Take your meds at lunch, report any upset to the counselor, keep your phone on you at all times.”

Jawohl,” Kyrie muttered, eyes fixed out the window. She slumped in the passenger seat, eyes slightly glassy. Even that flicker of defiance from Kyrie was extreme, given how doped up she was.

Susan Maxwell sighed. She really tried not to resent her daughter’s attitude—the therapist had told her often enough that double reds acted out, especially once they entered the danger years—but it was damned hard. Damn you, Tom, did you have to die?

She smothered the thought as quickly as she could. It didn’t help to blame her dead husband; when he was out mowing the lawn four years ago, it surely didn’t cross his mind that he’d dissolve into bubbles, leaving behind nothing but Bermuda shorts, sandals, and an idling mower. Not to mention a grieving wife and a daughter who’d seen the whole thing.

As flameouts went, it was surprisingly gentle. She could at least be grateful for that, if not for the fact that Kyrie still had nightmares. their daughter had been on a daily regimen of tranquilizers and mood suppressors since that day; some nights, Susan needed help sleeping too. And if Kyrie was a bit of a zombie these days, at least she was alive. Too many double reds weren’t.

Susan hated drugging her child, stealing the fire and passion that made her Kyrie. She consoled herself with thinking she’d have hated burying her child even more. It was better that way, it had to be.

“I’ll see you back here at 2:45,” Susan said as Kyrie climbed out of the car. Once the door was shut, she waited, watching until Kyrie was at least most of the way to the door. Her therapist would say that she had become slightly obsessive, this need to watch her daughter as much as she could, as if she could prevent…

Susan stepped on the gas gently and drove off, putting distance between herself and the fears threatening to steal what life she had left.

~ * ~

“Yo, Ky, what up?”

Kyrie smiled slightly at hearing her friend Veronica’s exuberant good cheer. “Oh, the yoozh,” she said, dropping her pills onto the sidewalk and grinding them underfoot. “Better existing through chemistry, or so Mom thinks.”

“Yeah, I saw your post about ‘tolerance.’ They’re probably upping it because you haven’t been taking them for what, a year?”

Kyrie nodded. “Something like that. So how ’bout you? What’s new in V-world?”

“Essay for Super-Sam,” she said. “Six hundred words on the fall of Washington DC. Your mom was there, wasn’t she?”

Kyrie nodded. “Yeah, the whole American Arsenal team was there, fighting the ’Wocks. Mom’s talked about it once or twice. I think she saved some guys from Congress or maybe the White House. She’s supposed to go there in a week or two for the rededication ceremony.”

“I didn’t think the rebuilding was that far along.”

“They did some of the government buildings first, I heard, just to show America was back, rah-rah,” Kyrie said. “They won’t move the government out of Colorado Springs until more of the city is done, but that’ll take years. This is just for show.”

Veronica frowned. “Do you think your mom knows you’re not taking the meds anymore?”

Kyrie shook her head. “I stopped almost a year ago. If she knew—if she even had an idea—she would have kept me at home and force-fed them to me.” She bit her lip, then added, “She thinks I’m still the little girl who…” Kyrie broke off, not wanting to finish the thought. Even if she knew she was in control of her emotions, there were some tests not worth taking.

Veronica nodded and let it go. Best friends were good that way.

They made their way down the hall, jostled by kids older and younger, eyeballed by boys and talked about by girls. Kyrie and Veronica were two of a kind: both double reds. If any two girls in the school were soul mates, it was them. Their standing joke was that they should wear shirts decorated with the blood-red helix that represented double reds, if only to see everyone’s reaction. Sometimes Kyrie was able to enjoy things like that.

Kyrie stopped at her locker and stared. It was as if thinking of the symbol had triggered something. Someone had smeared two lines of red paint, twisting around each other, on her locker door. “Son of a bitch,” she muttered. She wanted to scream. She wanted to shout at the kids in the hallway, “You think this is funny? You think it’s a joke, waiting to see if I die? You jerks!”

She wanted to rage and explode…figuratively, anyway. She wanted to lose control, to make them really afraid instead of just nervous around her. She wanted them to feel a tiny bit of what she felt.

Every. Single. Day.

But she didn’t. She only sighed and felt a little depressed. If it wasn’t the mood suppressors, and it wasn’t, then it was just the weariness of repetition. She didn’t have that fight in her any more.

The kids in the hall still gave her lots of space.

“I’ll tell the principal,” Veronica said. “If it’s on my locker too, then he’ll have to do something.”

“It won’t be,” Kyrie said. “They like you.” She tried not to make it sound bitter, she really did. She mostly succeeded, and didn’t fool Veronica in the least.

Veronica didn’t say anything; they both knew it was true. Kyrie was the brooding, sullen, rebellious one, while Veronica had always been the charming, outgoing one. She would have been a cheerleader if not for her dangerously volatile genetics and was in the running for homecoming queen regardless.

“Come on, let’s go to homeroom,” Kyrie said. “It’s just going to be one of those days.”

She was beginning to wish she’d kept one of the pills. Maybe it was better to feel nothing than to feel like shit.

~ * ~

Read the whole thing:

Available on Amazon.
Available on

High school is tough enough without being a ticking time bomb.

No…really. My name is Kyrie Maxwell and I lost the genetic lottery. My parents are Supers and it turns out they never should have had me.

I’m what they call a Double-Red. A child of two genetically modified individuals lacking a key combination of genes that would keep me stable.

They tell me the meds are to keep calm. What they mean is they keep me numb. Too much excitement and I, literally, could explode, so they make sure I feel nothing. I’ve been doped my entire life. Well…until I decided I wasn’t going to take it anymore.

You know what I say? What’s the point? If they aren’t going to let me live, why try so hard to keep me alive?

Wait…do you hear something ticking?


eSpec Books is proud to announce the pending release of Drew Bittner’s The Girl in the Hourglass, a young adult novella about growing up Super…when it’s not so super. The official release date is August 31. The book is currently available for pre-order on Amazon: Order here.

The Girl in the Hourglass
Cover art by Angela McKendrick of Cuddles With Cats.

High school is tough enough without being a ticking time bomb. No…really. My name is Kyrie Maxwell and I lost the genetic lottery. My parents are Supers and it turns out they never should have had me.

I’m what they call a Double-Red. A child of two genetically modified individuals lacking a key combination of genes that would keep me stable.

They tell me the meds are to keep calm. What they mean is they keep me numb. Too much excitement and I, literally, could explode, so they make sure I feel nothing. I’ve been doped my entire life. Well…until I decided I wasn’t going to take it anymore.

You know what I say? What’s the point? If they aren’t going to let me live, why try so hard to keep me alive?

Wait…do you hear something ticking?


Less than two weeks to go on The Side of Good / The Side of Evil campaign. In honor of that I will share this rather timely meme, which has now become the foundation of eSpec Books’ August flash fiction contest.

Name Generator

Follow the instructions in the image to determine your superhero name. (If you don’t have a middle name only draw from the first and last columns, or if you have two middle names you can either use both when selecting from the second column, or you can chose which one to use of the two designated by your middle names).

Once you have your name share what hides behind your alter ego! Write your “origin” story in 2000 words or less by August 31st for a chance to win a prize (yet to be determined). Entries should be mailed to as a .doc, .docx, or .rtf attachment. Please include your name, title, and contact information on your entry.These can be funny or serious. All stories will be posted on the eSpec blog and readers will be encouraged to vote for which one they think is the best.

And then, if you have a moment, please check out our campaign for The Side of Good / The Side of Evil, an Incredible fiction anthology ( with stories by literary and comicbook masters: Peter David, James M. Ward, James Chambers, Aaron Rosenberg, Robert Greenberger, Walt Ciechanowski, Bryan J.L. Glass,Janine Spendlove, Janine Spendlove, Neal Levin, Gail Martin, Kathleen O’Shea David, John L. French, and Keith DeCandido.

And if you haven’t backed our campaign yet, but were considering it, don’t miss out on your chance at a free copy of Drew Bittner‘s The Girl in the Hourglass (only six slots left!), and bonus fiction stories by Gail Martin, Aaron Rosenberg, Robert Greenberger, Jean Rabe, Mike McPhail, Keith DeCandido, John L. French, and Donald J. Bingle.


Our current kickstarter campaign, THE SIDE OF GOOD / THE SIDE OF EVIL, is approaching the home stretch.

We really want to see this happen, and we also want you all to know how much we appreciate your support. With just two weeks to go we are instituting our pre-funding bonus reward program.

Once we hit the designated goals outlined below all backers will receive the indicated bonuses. These are digital rewards that you receive regardless of whether or not this project funds…though we really hope it does for everyone’s sake!

So, if you love great fiction, classic comics, or superheroes (villains) please consider taking a look at our campaign. You could help make an awesome project possible, and get loads of free bonus fiction as well!

$2000 Pre-Funding Bonus
A free digital download of
1. Keith R.A. DeCandido’s Dragon Precinct short story “Gan Brightblade vs. Mitos the Mighty” (This is currently only available through this kickstarter)
2. Donald J. Bingle’s short story “Hell to Pay”
3. Gail Z. Martin’s Deadly Curiosities novella “The Final Death”

$3000 Pre-Funding Bonus
A free digital download of
1. John L. French’s short story “Hero”
2. Mike McPhail’s short story “Beyond Imagine”
3. Danielle Ackley-McPhail’s short story “Purgatory”

$4000 Pre-Funding Bonus
A free digital download of
1. Danielle Ackley-McPhail’s microfiction collection Flash in the Can
(This is currently only available through this kickstarter)
2. John L. French’s short story “The Right Betrayal”
3. Jean Marie Ward’s short story “Glass Transit”

$4500 Funding Bonus SuperHero Bundle
Once we fund, one backer pledging $20 or more (randomly selected by the backers themselves) will win a prize pack of superhero loot, including:
1. A FURIOUS print signed by Bryan J.L. Glass.
2. A complete set of FURIOUS comics, issues 1-5, signed by Bryan J.L. Glass.
3. An original Furious Sketch autographed by Bryan J.L. Glass.
4. An assortment of Superhero DVDs.
5. An assortment of Superhero related goodies.

We are just $95 away from unlocking the first bonus bundle. Can you help us spread the word? We love to give stuff away, but we can only do it with your help. AND there are only EIGHT slots left for the 100 Backer Bonus!

Please share:


eSpec Books interviews John L. French, contributor to The Side of Good / The Side of Evil, a Superhero Flipbook anthology,


eSB: What drew you to this project?

JLF: I’ve always been interested in superheroes.

eSB: Which side are you writing for?

JLF: Truth, Justice, and the America Way, what else?

eSB: What got you interested in superheroes/villains?

JLF: I like stories of crime and adventure. In all of these there are, or should be, good guys and bad guys. This is especially so in superhero fiction with the lines between he two more clear-cut than usual

eSB: Please tell us a little bit about the inspiration for your story.

JLF: Some time ago I was asked to write a story for an anthology about phoenixes and firebirds. As one of my series characters is a pulp fiction hero called The Nightmare I created a story in which he helps a man who’s been cursed by immortality and rescues a phoenix. I like the character so much that I write two more stories about her and this Phoenix trilogy became the last three stories in my collection The Nightmare Strikes. I thought that was the (literary) end of The Phoenix. But as you know, a phoenix cannot die and so when I was asked to do a story I found myself brining her back.

eSB: If you could have one superpower, what would it be and how would it work?

JLF: I would be able to read, speak and understand every language there was, is, and will be

eSB: What would your weakness be and why?

JLF: Poor penmanship

eSB: Describe your ideal super suit.

JLF: That depends on the hero and his mission. Heroes like Superman need something bright, something people can look up to. Heroes like Batman, the Shadow, and (ahem) the Nightmare need something dark so they can blend in with the darkness. I think the best super suit out there today is the Flash’s

eSB: Who is your favorite superhero and why?

JLF: Batman and if you need to ask why you don’t know Batman.  My second favorite is anybody from Astro City. And if you don’t know about Astro City, you need to stop reading right now, go to a comic book store and buy the trade. Go ahead, I’ll wait …

eSB: Who is your real-life hero and why?

JLF: In general, it’s the people who keep us safe on a daily basis – the members of the police and fire department. Specifically it’s anyone who’s got the guts to do the right thing no matter the cost. There’s damned few of them these days and none of them hold elected office.

eSB: Who is the villain you love to hate, and why?

JLF: Keyser Söze – if you don’t know who that is, you need to watch The Usual Suspects as soon as possible. Go ahead, I’ll wait…

eSB: In your opinion, what characterizes a hero?

JLF: Raymond Chandler said it best – “Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. He is the hero; he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor—by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world.”
Anyone who meets this standard has the makings of a hero.

eSB: In your opinion, what characterizes a villain?

JLF: Someone who cares only for himself without regard to the consequences to the world or those who live in it. There are too many of these people around and, yes, some of them are in elected office.

eSB: What is your viewpoint on Sidekicks?

JLF: I think a direct punch to face works better than a side kick. Oh, you mean people like Robin. Let’s get one thing straight – heroes like Tonto and Kato were not sidekicks (sidekick is what Kato did) they were partners. Maybe they were not always treated as equal partners but they were partners. It’s kids like Robin who were sidekicks. They are good dramatic derives that give the hero someone to explain things the reader need to know as well as gives the hero someone to rescue on a regular basis.

eSB: What is your favorite superhero movie and why?

JLF: I don’t know if this counts but right now it’s Daredevil: Season One. Why? Because they got (most of) it right.

eSB: What other comic or superhero-related work have you done in the past?

JLF: I’ve written two superhero hero stories (Turquoise: The Right Betrayal” and “Hero” that can be found in my short story collection Paradise Denied and which will also be available as goals for this book.

eSB: What was your most exciting moment working in the comic industry?

JLF: My major contribution to the “comic industry” has been buying too many comics for far too long. But other than that, I have been in the three Batman comics written by the late, great C. J. Henderson. I “play” a crime lab technician for the Gotham PD and work for Captain James Gordon. It mirrors my real life job as a crime scene investigator for a large, east coast city. In addition, I am the co-editor of With Great Power … an anthology about people with superpowers.

eSB: If there was one comic franchise you could work on, which would it be and why?

JLF: While Batman is my favorite I’d like to take over either the Superman or Green Lantern franchises. Both of these have gotten away from fighting for truth, justice, etc. and have been too involved in fighting personal battles.

eSB: Fiction or comics, which is your favorite medium and why?

JLF: There’s this Romany fortune teller down the street who pretty good … but I don’t think that’s what you mean. I like books. The kind that come with just words and no pictures. I get to use more of my imagination.

eSB: Please tell us about your non-comic related work.

JLF: I write short stories and edit anthologies. My books include The Nightmare Strikes, The Grey Monk: Souls on Fire, Here There Be Monsters, The Devil of Harbor City, and (with Patrick Thomas) The Assassins’ Ball.

eSB: Thank you for allowing this glimpse beneath your alter-ego. We’re looking forward to more super heroics and evil geniuses to come.