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Dark Currents Audiobook Released at Podiobooks

| Posted in Fantasy / Science Fiction, Videos & Podcasts |

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At long last, the Dark Currents audiobook is up and running over at Podiobooks (you should be able to find it soon on iTunes too). Due to a misunderstanding on my part, and something to do with getting independent books into Audible, the entire novel is up for your listening pleasure. I’d meant to do a chapter each week, as we did with Emperor’s Edge, and that might yet get changed, so if you want to grab the whole thing in one swoop, now would be the time.

If you’re enjoying the audiobooks and would like to chip in a little to help fund the creation of future ones, my Kickstarter campaign still has a few days to go. You can donate as little as a dollar. Of course, if you kick in more, you can get signed paperbacks, copies of the completed audiobooks, extra scenes, and other goodies.

Thanks for the support!

10 Free or 99 Cent Steampunk Ebooks

| Posted in Fantasy / Science Fiction |

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For fantasy fans looking for a little weekend reading at an affordable price, here are a few steampunk adventures that are currently free or 99 cents at Amazon (many of them are in other places, too):

Free Steampunk Ebooks

Oh, just in case you’re stumbling across my blog for the first time and you haven’t read my stories, The Emperor’s Edge is free at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Smashwords. It’s a full-length high fantasy adventure with a hint of steam. And then…

To celebrate the release of the third story in my Flash Gold Chronicles, Peacemaker, the first novella is free at Smashwords. That one is definitely steampunk with a wrench-wielding heroine who has a knack for inventing things (and occasionally blowing up things too).

Okay, enough about me. On to other authors! I haven’t read most of these, but I tried to pick stories that had a 4.0+ average reviewer rating over at Amazon. If you’d like to recommend any other ultra affordable steampunk adventures, just let us know below. Short stories and novellas are fine.

The Strange Case of Finley Jayne (The Steampunk Chronicles)

The Strange Case of Finley Jayne

Finley Jayne knows she’s not ‘normal’. Normal girls don’t lose time, or have something inside them that makes them capable of remarkably violent things. Her behavior has already cost her one job, so when she’s offered the lofty position of companion to Phoebe, a debutante recently engaged to Lord Vincent, she accepts, despite having no experience. Lord Vincent is a man of science with his automatons and inventions, but Finley is suspicious of his motives where Phoebe is concerned. She will do anything to protect her new friend, but what she discovers is even more monstrous than anything she could have imagined…

Railroad! Volume One:Rodger Dodger (a steampunk western)

Railroad is a fast pace steampunk story of gadgetry, gunplay and grit.

Join us as we follow the strange stand-alone train known as the Sleipnir (pronounced Schlipnear); eight cars of free traveling steam powered might. Able to lay her own tracks, as well as pick them up again, the train is a marvelous feat of engineering, and as an unbound entity she can travel anywhere her master desires. The only trouble is the trouble she attracts. Her owner and creator, one Professor Hieronymus J. Dittmeyer, can’t seem to help but catch the attention of all manner of odd characters, including an undead conductor and a ghostly guardian. But even the most well intending ghost just isn’t enough to keep trouble from the tracks. From run of the mill outlaws, to world-class super villains, the crew of the Sleipnir needs hands-on protecting and they need it fast!

Enter Rodger Dodger, dead-eye marksman and all around vexed soul. Dodger finds he is inexplicably drawn to the Sleipnir and her crazy crew, though he is reluctant to return to the work of a gunslinger after a dreadful history of bloodshed and violence. At the request of a restless spirit, Dodger takes on the work, straps on the biggest guns this side of the Mississippi and soon finds his life will never be the same again. (Which is just fine with him because he didn’t like the one he had anyways.)

Timepiece

Elizabeth Barton longs to escape the endless round of social ritual that defines life in the village of Hartwich during the Regency of Prince George. Her neighbor William Carrington has lost the use of his arm in the Napoleonic Wars, and now must watch from the sidelines as the final act of that conflict unfolds without him. Both go through the motions of their lives, dutiful but dissatisfied, as the Battle of Waterloo looms on the horizon. When an anonymous benefactor sends Elizabeth a pocket watch that is more than what it seems, they are swept seventy years into the future.

The London of 1885 is a steampunk dystopia where the streets are patrolled by Gatling-gun-wielding robots and the clockwork of the British Empire is slick with its subjects’ blood. This future has its roots on the field of Waterloo–in the secret weapon Wellington employed there–and it will come true in seventy years’ time unless Elizabeth and William find a way to stop it.

Caesar’s Children: A Tale of Pluritopia

What if there were a world where all the utopias from nineteenth-century literature coexisted? And what if the nations of that world were divided into two types of utopias–the Aspirants, who seek the create the best of all possible worlds for themselves, and the Gildeds, who also seek the perfect world but long to force their own ideals on the other utopias?

On the world of Pluritopia, the citizens glide through the heavens in the bellies of fish-shaped airships and learn about the exotic goings-on of the sundry utopias by means of aether-powered telephonoscopes. But when a mysterious woman from the Earth’s center appears suddenly in the tranquil Pacific Northwest paradise of France-Ville, the ideal world finds itself on the brink of the unimaginable–a great conflagration that threatens to scorch Pluritopia to cinders.

The Inventor (Fantasies of New Europa Series)

For the Countess of Caithmore, a life of wealth has led to misery. Abandoned by her husband and widely accused of being nothing more than a porcelain doll without passion or intelligence, she has ventured into dangerous territory and commissioned the help of the most famous inventor in New Europa for a scandalous project.

In the depths of his laboratory, she will submit herself to a custom-built machine that will determine the extent of her coldness once and for all. The answer she craves carries a hidden risk, however, and the man whose invention has proven her ability to feel passion may not accept the role of lover-by-proxy for long.

Lady of Devices, a steampunk adventure novel (Magnificent Devices)

London, 1889. Victoria is Queen. Charles Darwin’s son is Prime Minister. And steam is the power that runs the world.

At 17, Claire Trevelyan, daughter of Viscount St. Ives, was expected to do nothing more than pour an elegant cup of tea, sew a fine seam, and catch a rich husband. Unfortunately, Claire’s talents lie not in the ballroom, but in the chemistry lab, where things have a regrettable habit of blowing up. When her father gambles the estate on the combustion engine and loses, Claire finds herself down and out on the mean streets of London. But being a young woman of resources and intellect, she turns fortune on its head. It’s not long before a new leader rises in the underworld, known only as the Lady of Devices.

When she meets Andrew Malvern, a member of the Royal Society of Engineers, she realizes her talents may encompass more than the invention of explosive devices. They may help her realize her dreams and his . . . if they can both stay alive long enough to see that sometimes the closest friendships can trigger the greatest betrayals . . .

The Caldecott Chronicles No.1

Caldecott Estate, the ancestral home of the 32nd Earl of Rothshire, is besieged. The undead are traipsing and crawling across overgrown lawns, intent on ripping the very flesh from the Earl’s body.

But many of them will not make it that far as the 32nd Earl has two things in their way: A prised Purdey shotgun and an accomplice named, Saffy. Saffy is a young and simple girl from the local village. She is quick of foot at setting traps, and dispatching the undead to the afterlife. She is endlessly coming up with cunning and disturbing methods to rid the estate of disease.

The bizarre and gruesome details are narrated in a journal by a very Aristocratic British gent. Get a first hand look on how the Victorian upper class deal with stumbling trespassers and see how one draws inspiration from a teenage girl born to kill.

The Steampunk Detective

The Steampunk Detective is a non-stop adventure story complete with airships, steam powered spaceships and enormous towers that stretch into orbit…

Jack Mason is an orphan wanting a new life. Ignatius Doyle is an aging detective who needs an assistant. When Jack goes to work for Mr Doyle, he has no idea what lies ahead.

With twists and turns and non-stop action, The Steampunk detective has been described as “The best dollar I ever spent.” Another reader said, “It’s addictive to read, and smart….characters are lovable, interesting, different.”

Filled with references to Sherlock Holmes and the world of Victorian literature, The Steampunk Detective is an action packed adventure for readers of all ages.

The Monster in the Mist (A Chronological Man Adventure)

It’s 1890 and the citizens of Boston are beginning to go missing in the fog.

The police are confounded. The public is frightened. The city is on the edge of hysteria.

It’s up to the mysterious Smith, inventor and adventurer, to figure out what’s going on with the help of his assistant, April Malone. They’ll have to face off against a secret society, corrupt policemen and a mad psychologist hell-bent on dissecting Smith, in order to solve the mystery of what’s going on and to save the city from an even more sinister threat.

It’s the first story of Smith, a hard science fiction time traveler with more than a enough quirk to last him several centuries.

A fast-paced 45,000 word tale of scientific adventure combines elements of DOCTOR WHO, SHERLOCK HOLMES and TONY STARK set against turn-of-the-century Boston’s soot-stained streets.

Free Fantasy Audiobooks (Podiobooks) You Can Check out

| Posted in Fantasy / Science Fiction, Videos & Podcasts |

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If you like listening to audiobooks, but you don’t like paying for them (hey, they’re pricy, I understand!), you can find a wealth of listening material over at Podiobooks.com.

These are independently published audiobooks. (They’re called podiobooks, because they get published, an episode or two at a time, and can be downloaded on iTunes and other podcast-friendly sites.)

With the help of my friends over at DarkFire Productions, I started publishing The Emperor’s Edge podiobook last month (it’s up to chapter 9, right now, and if you subscribe, you’ll get a new chapter delivered to your iPod or other mp3 player each week). So, that’s one free fantasy audiobook for you to try out.

But there are lots of others, too, including many that are already completed (so you can listen at your own pace and don’t have to wait patiently for authors to upload new chapters).

Here are a few popular fantasy novels over at Podiobooks:

Heart of the Ronin by Travis Heermann (historical fantasy)

Thirteenth-century Japan is a dangerous place, even in a time of peace. Capricious gods, shape-changing animals, and bloodthirsty demons are as real and unpleasant as a gang of vicious bandits. From the wilderness emerges a young, idealistic warrior with his father’s mysterious sword on his hip, a wise, sarcastic dog at his side, and a yearning in his heart to find a worthy master. He dreams only of being samurai. Little does he suspect the agony and glory that await him when his dreams come true….

Union of Renegades: The Rys Chronicles Book I by Tracy Falbe (epic fantasy)

Dreibrand Veta has killed for his country. At the frontlines of imperial expansion, he seeks to rebuild the fortune of his noble family. In his daring travels he encounters the rys, a race far more powerful than the human empire that bred him. Dreibrand cannot defy the rys Queen Onja nor defend his companion, Miranda, and her children from the wicked tyrant Queen. Desperate for help…

Shadowmagic by John Lenahan (YA fantasy)

A rip roaring fun fantasy adventure novel by John Lenahan very loosely based on Irish mythology where every chapter ends on the edge of a cliff (or at least a high curb.) Join Conor as he grapples with typical teenage problems like, how to deal with a father’s high expectations, how to survive in the world on your own and how to woo a beautiful girl – that wants you dead. Shadowmagic a podcast novel for young adults from 12 to 112.

Max Quick 1: The Pocket and the Pendant by Mark Jeffrey (YA fantasy)

When time mysteriously stops, young Max Quick must travel across America to find the source of this ‘temporal disaster’… Along the way, he and his companions encounter ancient mysteries, quantum Books, and clues to the riddle of stopped Time. But the more Max learns, the more it seems that his own true identity is not what he once believed…

Billibub Baddings and the Case of the Singing Sword by Tee Morris

It is The Era of Prohibition, where crime runs rampant in the streets and a city divided into territories serves as the ultimate prize.

Somewhere in this Underworld of Chicago, an enchanted weapon holds the key to ending The Gangland Wars. In the wake of The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, only one is man enough to stand up against Al Capone…

…a four-foot-one dwarf named Billibub Baddings.

Legon Awakening by Nicholas Taylor

Join Legon and his sister, Sasha, search to understand their true heritage, confused at the possibility that of being part human and part elf. Surrounded by elves, the newly introduced Iumenta race, Dragons and Humans; Legon and Sasha’s lives are filled with adventure and fantasy on their search for answers as they begin an epic journey of discovery; not to mention the incredible battle scenes which will be surely to capture your imagination…

The Secret World Chronicle, Book One: Invasion by Mercedes Lackey and Steve Libbey

Emerging mysteriously during World War II, metahumans became icons of the best – and worst – humanity had to offer. Yet sixty years later, the world still suffers from war, greed and madness. Worse, man’s nadir of systematic cruelty returns with bizarre new weapons. The metahumans of Earth must find a way to defeat this powerful foe and discover what lurks behind the scenes – a secret world hidden from our own. Mercedes Lackey, one of fantasy’s most beloved voices, and new talent Steve Libbey bring you a podcast series that catapults the classic superhero into the 21st century.

Fantasy Music from Around the Web

| Posted in Fantasy / Science Fiction |

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It’s Saturday evening, and I could write a serious post on noteworthy topics…or I could write about something silly, like fantasy music. Hm. Let’s go with the latter.

It’s hard to find tunes about magic, wizards, dragon slaying, and the like on your local radio station’s Top 40, but on the internet? You can find everything.

Here are a few tunes I’ve stumbled across over the years (as well as an online fantasy-only music station). There’s a mix of different types of music (though I’ve yet to come across a country or rap fantasy song), so if you don’t like one, try the others. And, of course, feel free to add yours in the comments.

Fantasy Music

Lord of the Rings by Blind Guardian (the song predates the movies, but the YouTube video I found uses clips from Peter Jackson’s trilogy):

Stormbringer by Deep Purple is straight out of the 70s and sounds like it. Supposedly, it has nothing to do with Elric’s Stormbringer sword in Michael Moorcock’s series, but they always go together in my head anyway.

Black Blade by the Blue Oyster Cult does reference the Elric books (the song was co-written by Moorcock).

I must confess: I read a ton of DragonLance and Forgotten Realms books as a kid, so I was tickled when I came across Raistlin and the Rose by Lake of Tears. It’s on some of my iPod running mixes to this day. (Yes, I am that geeky.)

Those of you who have played World of Warcraft will probably have heard this one already, but even if you’re not a gaming fan, you’ll be able to smirk at the lyrics if you grew up playing D&D or reading about wizards in robes. 😉 If nothing else, the singing gnomes are cute.

Big Blue Dress by Cranius

I’m not sure there’s any real fantasy in Tears of the Dragon by Bruce Dickinson (aside from the fact that the title has the word dragon in it), but if you like ballads, you might dig it.

If you like metal, there are quite a few bands that have done fantasy-themed songs and albums:

Thor by Manowar

Emerald Sword by Rhapsody of Fire

Asgard by Therion

A Quest for the Crown by Falconer

For those who like steampunk, there are a couple of groups that get into it with steampunk costumes and lyrics. Airship Pirate by Abney Park may be the best known.

The Death of the Cog by The Cog Is Dead is another fun steampunk tune:

For more steampunk music, check out The Clockwork Cabaret, a weekly radio show that you can listen to live online.

Lastly, you can listen to Radio Rivendell through iTunes or the web. It’s a “non-commercial, non-profiting European web radio station dedicated to playing the best fantasy music there is. 24 hours a day, all year around.”

Do you have any fantasy music you’d like to recommend?

Must-Read Steampunk Books (Want to Add Yours?)

| Posted in Fantasy / Science Fiction |

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I’m always looking for new books to read, so I asked the TwitterVerse for some steampunk recommendations. I’d read several of the suggestions that came back, but I found some new ones to check out too. In case you’re a fantasy fan and looking to try more steampunk books, I’ll include the list here.

Let me know what you think. Are these “must read” titles, or is there something else you’d recommend?

Perdido Street Station

steampunk-perdido-street-stationThis recommendation comes via Lynda Young, and it was my introduction to steampunk, several years ago. While the characters didn’t stick with me, the world-building did. Total immersion steampunk, magic, and crazy made-up creatures that were refreshingly creative after all the Tolkein-inspired medieval fantasy I’d read growing up.

Mieville’s much-praised first novel of urban fantasy/horror, was just a palate-teaser for this appetizing, if extravagant, stew of genre themes. Its setting, New Crobuzon, is an audaciously imagined milieu: a city with the dimensions of a world, home to a polyglot civilization of wildly varied species and overlapping and interpenetrating cultures. Seeking to prove his unified energy theory as it relates to organic and mechanical forms, rogue scientist Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin tries to restore the power of flight to Yagharek, a member of the garuda race cruelly shorn of its wings. Isaac’s lover, Lin, unconsciously mimics his scientific pursuits when she takes on the seemingly impossible commission of sculpting a patron whose body is a riot of grotesquely mutated and spliced appendages. Their social life is one huge, postgraduate bull session with friends and associates–until a nightmare-inducing grub escapes from Isaac’s lab and transforms into a flying monster that imperils the city.

Leviathan

Leviathan

Several of my Twitter buddies recommended this series (Beth Cato, Ryan Sanders, and Kendra Highley — she’s the one who first sent me a copy of the ebook and said, “read this!”). It’s young adult, but enjoyable at any age. The setting never gets in the way of the story, but it’s full of steampunk-goodness as well as creative world-building concepts (it’s the sort of alternate Earth you would have loved to see!), and the heroes are easy to identify with as well.

This is World War I as never seen before. The story begins the same: on June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife are assassinated, triggering a sequence of alliances that plunges the world into war. But that is where the similarity ends. This global conflict is between the Clankers, who put their faith in machines, and the Darwinists, whose technology is based on the development of new species. After the assassination of his parents, Prince Aleksandar’s people turn on him. Accompanied by a small group of loyal servants, the young Clanker flees Austria in a Cyklop Stormwalker, a war machine that walks on two legs. Meanwhile, as Deryn Sharp trains to be an airman with the British Air Service, she prays that no one will discover that she is a girl. She serves on the Leviathan, a massive biological airship that resembles an enormous flying whale and functions as a self-contained ecosystem. When it crashes in Switzerland, the two teens cross paths, and suddenly the line between enemy and ally is no longer clearly defined.

The Bookman

The BookmanThis recommendation (as well as a few others in here) comes from Ant over at SFBook (a review site you should check out, and not just because he was kind enough to review my books).

A masked terrorist has brought London to its knees — there are bombs inside books, and nobody knows which ones. On the day of the launch of the first expedition to Mars, by giant cannon, he outdoes himself with an audacious attack.

For young poet Orphan, trapped in the screaming audience, it seems his destiny is entwined with that of the shadowy terrorist, but how? His quest to uncover the truth takes him from the hidden catacombs of London on the brink of revolution, through pirate-infested seas, to the mysterious island that may hold the secret to the origin not only of the shadowy Bookman, but of Orphan himself…

Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate)

soulless-gail-carrigerThis was also a recommendation from Beth Cato, but it’s certainly a popular series, so I’m surprised more folks didn’t mention it. Perhaps because the steampunk elements are more decorative than key to the story (I’d probably call Soulless a historical fantasy). It does often get mentioned as a steampunk romance, though, and there are lots of positive reviews on Amazon, so you might want to give it a try (warning: vampires and werewolves abound).

Carriger debuts brilliantly with a blend of Victorian romance, screwball comedy of manners and alternate history. Prickly, stubborn 25-year-old bluestocking Alexia Tarabotti is patently unmarriageable, and not just because she’s large-nosed and swarthy. She’s also soulless, an oddity and a secret even in a 19th-century London that mostly accepts and integrates werewolf packs, vampire hives and ghosts. The only man who notices her is brash Lord Conall Maccon, a Scottish Alpha werewolf and government official, and (of course) they dislike each other intensely. After Alexia kills a vampire with her parasol at a party—how vulgar!—she and Conall must work together to solve a supernatural mystery that grows quite steampunkishly gruesome. Well-drawn secondary characters round out the story, most notably Lord Akeldama, Alexia’s outrageous, italic-wielding gay best vampire friend. This intoxicatingly witty parody will appeal to a wide cross-section of romance, fantasy and steampunk fans.

Steam Queen

Steam QueenIf you have an e-reader and like the idea of giving an indie author a try, this recommendation comes from Ant:

Europe is a dangerous, virtually lawless place. Armed bandits prowl the railway lines in their armed Steam Locomotive looking for easy marks, and heavily armed mercenary engines travel from town to town looking for work in a world where every day is a struggle for its civilians.

Erica, an emotionally disturbed girl from England finds herself joining one of these mercenary teams. What follows is a trek across Europe to where two mighty cities, each representing a different way of life, stand on the verge of a war which will shape the way Europe develops.

On one side are the Steam using traditionalists of St Vith, led by the charismatic and cunning General Roosje Cuvelier. On the other, stands the mighty Winterscheid Diesel Empire under the iron fist of the merciless Kaiser Sigmund Eisenburg.

Two vicious armies, treachery from her own allies and the world’s deadliest super-weapon are just a few of the dangers that Erica must face in her journey.

The Greyfriar (Vampire Empire, Book 1)

GreyfriarThis one was suggested by urban fantasy author Nicholas Olivio:

Griffith and Griffith, perhaps best known for their media tie-in work, merge vampires with steampunk in this tale of derring-do and star-crossed romance. In 1870 the vampires rose up and conquered the northern lands of Earth. The northern elites fled south to new colonies, leaving their subjects to the mercy of the predators. By 2020, the world is still divided. Princess Adele of the Equatorian Empire becomes the catalyst of the final human–vampire war when she is lost in vampire territory with only a mysterious adventurer known as the Greyfriar to help her. Set in a future that is comfortably quaint, where brass-plated technology is uninhibited by plausibility and the northern exiles may feel oppressed but the indigenous equatorial peoples never do, this melodramatic tale is fast-paced and entirely unchallenging.

Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel

phoenix-rising-a-ministry-of-peculiar-occurrences-novelStarla Huchton, the lady who does Amaranthe in the Emperor’s Edge podiobook, suggested this steampunk read for us:

These are dark days indeed in Victoria’s England. Londoners are vanishing, then reappearing, washing up as corpses on the banks of the Thames, drained of blood and bone. Yet the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences—the Crown’s clandestine organization whose bailiwick is the strange and unsettling—will not allow its agents to investigate. Fearless and exceedingly lovely Eliza D. Braun, however, with her bulletproof corset and a disturbing fondness for dynamite, refuses to let the matter rest . . . and she’s prepared to drag her timorous new partner, Wellington Books, along with her into the perilous fray.

For a malevolent brotherhood is operating in the deepening London shadows, intent upon the enslavement of all Britons. And Books and Braun—he with his encyclopedic brain and she with her remarkable devices—must get to the twisted roots of a most nefarious plot . . . or see England fall to the Phoenix!

Boneshaker

BoneshakerSeveral folks have recommended Cherie Priest to me, and this one is in my too-read pile, especially since it takes place in Seattle (my hometown).

In an alternate 1880s America, mad inventor Leviticus Blue is blamed for destroying Civil War–era Seattle. When Zeke Wilkes, Blue’s son, goes into the walled wreck of a city to clear his father’s name, Zeke’s mother, Briar Wilkes, follows him in an airship, determined to rescue her son from the toxic gas that turns people into zombies (called rotters and described in gut-churning detail). When Briar learns that Seattle still has a mad inventor, Dr. Minnericht, who eerily resembles her dead husband, a simple rescue quickly turns into a thrilling race to save Zeke from the man who may be his father. Intelligent, exceptionally well written and showcasing a phenomenal strong female protagonist who embodies the complexities inherent in motherhood, this yarn is a must-read for the discerning steampunk fan.

If you’d like to go back and try the classics, Peter Seaton from Gallant Press recommends 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (Unabridged And Complete) and Five Weeks in a Balloon (the Kindle editions are 99 cents and free respectively).

Ant from SFBooks also suggested Infernal Devices while Maria Snell recommends The Last Block in Harlem. Another recommendation from Starla is The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack (Burton & Swinburne in).

Thank you, TwitterVerse, for all the suggestions. Good readers, are there any must-read steampunk offerings you’d add to the list?

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