Extract / Preview: Confluence The Trilogy by Paul McAuley (from Child of the River, Book 1)

CPP - PM - Confluence The Trilogy


The White Boat

The Constable of Aeolis was a shrewd, pragmatic man who did not believe in miracles. In his opinion, everything must have an explanation, and simple explanations were best of all. ‘The sharpest knife cuts cleanest,’ he often told his sons. And: ‘The more a man talks, the more likely it is he’s lying.’
But to the end of his days, he could not explain the affair of the white boat.
It happened one midsummer night, when the huge black sky above the Great River was punctuated only by a scattering of dim halo stars and the dull red swirl of the Eye of the Preservers, no bigger than a man’s hand and outshone by the heaped lights of the little city of Aeolis and the lights of the carracks riding at anchor outside the harbour entrance.

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Extract / Preview: The Thing Itself by Adam Roberts

CB - Go - Dec - The Thing Itself 1
Thing and Sick
The beginning was the letter.
Roy would probably say the whole thing began when he solved the Fermi Paradox, when he achieved (his word) clarity. Not clarity, I think: but sick. Sick in the head. He probably wouldn’t disagree. Not any more. Not with so much professional psychiatric opinion having been brought to bear on the matter. He concedes as much to me, in the many communications he  has addressed to me from his asylum. He sends various manifestos and communications to the papers too, I understand. In  all of them he claims to have finally solved the Fermi Paradox. If he has, then I don’t expect my nightmares to diminish any time soon.

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Extract / Preview: The Death House by Sarah Pinborough

CBP - The Death House


‘They say it makes your eyes bleed. Almost pop out of your head and then bleed.’
‘Who says?’
‘People. I just heard it.’
‘You made it up.’
‘No, I didn’t,’ Will says. ‘Why would I make that up? I heard it somewhere. You go mad first and then your eyes bleed. I think maybe your whole skin bleeds.’
‘That is such a heap of shit.’

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Extract / Preview: The Boy Who Wept Blood by Den Patrick

CBP - The Boy Who Wept Blood


The Second Son of Allattamento

6 Giugno 325
Lady Araneae Oscuro Diaspora, formerly of House Contadino, known to her subjects as the Silent Queen, sat back from her letter-writing. Her nightgown was a pale grey silk that left her arms bare, alabaster skin almost luminous in the candlelight. As ever she wore a veil over the bottom half of her face, a neat triangle of matching fabric, a line of blue embroidery dancing along the topmost edge. Her kohl-stained eyes stared out of the lead-latticed windows; the town of Santa Maria slept in darkness beyond the glass. Blacksmiths slumbered, children snored faintly, while drunks mumbled and turned, beset by night terrors. Mothers and fathers dared dream of a prosperous, safer future.

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Extract / Preview: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

CB - Aug - The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet From the ground, we stand;
From our ships, we live;
By the stars, we hope.
Day  128, GC  Standard  306


As she woke up in the pod, she remembered three things. First, she was travelling through open space. Second, she was about to start a new job, one she could not screw up. Third, she had bribed a government official into giving her a new identity file. None of this information was new, but it wasn’t pleasant to wake up to.

She wasn’t supposed to be awake yet, not for another day at least, but that was what you got for booking cheap transport. Cheap transport meant a cheap pod flying on cheap fuel, and cheap drugs to knock you out. She had flickered into consciousness several times since launch – surfacing in confusion, falling back just as she’d got a grasp on things. The pod was dark, and there were no navigational screens. There was no way to tell how much time had passed between each waking, or how far she’d travelled, or if she’d even been travelling at all. The thought made her anxious, and sick. Read the rest of this entry »

Extract / Preview – The Mysteries by Lisa Tuttle

CB - JF - Nov - The Mysteries


The strangest memory of my childhood concerns my father’s disappearance.
This is what I remember:
It was late September. I was nine years old, and  my sister Heather was seven and a half.  Although summer was officially over and we’d been back at school for weeks, the weather continued warm and sunny, fall only the faintest suggestion in the turning of the leaves, and nothing to hint at the long Midwestern winter yet to come. Everybody knew this fine spell couldn’t last, and so on Saturday morning my mother announced we were going to go for a picnic in the country.

My dad drove, as usual. As we left Milwaukee, the globe compass fixed to the dashboard – to me, an object of lasting fascination – said we were heading north-northwest. I don’t know how far we went. In those days, car journeys were always tedious and way too long. But this time, we stopped too soon. Dad pulled over to the side of a country road in the middle of nowhere. There was nothing but empty fields all around. I could see a farmhouse in the distance and some cows grazing in the next field over, but nothing else: no park, no woods, no beach, not even a picnic table.

‘Are we here?’  asked  Heather,  her  voice a whine of disbelief.

‘No, no, not yet,’ said our mom, at the same moment as our dad said, ‘I have to see a man about a  horse.’

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Curveball by Jeremy Sorese: Preview!

CG - Oct - Curveball

Coming in October NoBrow Press bring you Curveball, a futuristic dystopian tale of love and heartbreak written and illustrated by the writer of Boom! Studios Steven Universe Jeremy Sorese – and we have a preview of the wonderfully evocative interior art, rendered in duo- (and trio!-) tone below…



Opening pages… Curveball P1

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Extract / Preview: The Ark by Patrick S Tomlinson

NOTE: Where normally we bring you an extract from the beginning of the book, we’ve been given an exclusive excerpt of Patrick S Tomlinson’s THE ARK jumping straight into the action at Chapter 7!


The starboard manipulator arm disintegrated into a violent swarm of tiny projectiles pinging off the acrylic sphere like a shotgun blast, leaving a dozen chips in the glass and sending the pod spinning out of control.
“Mayday!”Benson shouted into the com as the Ark tumbled into and out of his view. “Mayday! I’m hit!”
Only years spinning around in the Zero ring kept him from blacking out or throwing up. Warning lights blinked angrily all around him, while an alarm screamed throughout the tiny cabin loud enough to ring in his ears until his visor snapped shut, silencing them.
“Mayday, does anyone copy?” Bursts of static filled his ears. “Mayday. I’m calling from inside the EVA pod.”

Agonizing seconds ticked by while Benson waited for a response. The pod’s gyrations continued unabated. The com was his only hope, he was way outside of the range of his plant’s wireless connection. Read the rest of this entry »

Extract / Preview: Dreamland by Robert L Anderson

CB - Sep - Dreamland

P A R T   O N E

All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream
—Edgar Allan Poe
Afterward, Dea blamed it all on Toby. She knew it wasn’t nice to blame a cat. It was definitely immature. But that was life: one big chain reaction, a series of sparks and explosions.
Always, explosions.
If Toby hadn’t clawed through the screen door, she would never have met so-and-so, she would never have said such- and-such, she would never have done blah, blah, blah. She’d still be slogging through dumb algebra homework in Fielding, Indiana, getting picked last in gym class and ignored in the cafeteria.

Funny how Fielding, Indiana, didn’t seem so bad anymore. Or maybe it just didn’t seem important. Not after the cops and the disappearance. Not after the men with no faces and the city in the sand.

Not after the monsters started showing up in the mirror. Definitely not after Connor.


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Extract / Preview: Limit by Frank Schatzing

CB - JF - Nov - Limit


I want to wake up in a city that doesn’t sleep—
Good old Frankie-boy. Untroubled by urban transformation, as long as there was a stiff drink waiting for you when you woke up.
Vic Thorn rubbed his eyes.
In thirty minutes the automatic alarm signal would rouse the early shift from their beds. Strictly speaking he couldn’t have cared less. As a short-term visitor he was largely free to decide how he was going to spend the day, except that even guests had to adapt to a certain formal framework. Which didn’t necessarily mean getting up early, but they woke you anyway.


If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere—

Thorn started unfastening his belt. Because he thought staying too long in bed was degrading, he didn’t trust anyone else’s automatic devices to allow him to spend as little time of his life as possible asleep. Particu- larly since he liked to decide for himself who or what summoned him back to consciousness. Thorn loved turning his music systems up to the max. And he preferred to entrust his wake-up call to the Rat Pack, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, Sammy Davis Junior, the disreput- able heroes of times past, for whom he felt an almost romantic affection. And up here nothing, nothing at all, was conducive to the habits of the Rat Pack. Even Dean Martin’s now famous observation that ‘You’re not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on’ was physically invalidated, and nor would the inveterate toper have been able to indulge his predilection for falling off his bar-stool and tottering out into the street. At 35,786 kilometres above the Earth’s surface there were no prostitutes waiting for you outside the door, just lethal, airless space. Read the rest of this entry »

Extract / Preview: Way Down Dark by J P Smythe

CB - Jul - Way Down Dark


The story goes that Earth was much older than the scientists thought. We had assumed that we had billions of years left; that we would be totally prepared if the worst hap- pened. Maybe that made us complacent. We thought that we understood what we were doing to the planet. We thought we had time to fix it.
The first problem was overpopulation: too many people on the planet and not enough room for them. Then there wasn’t enough fuel, there wasn’t enough power, and we were wasting what little we had left. The planet got full around the same time as it started cracking and shaking. The weather changed, becoming warmer and colder at different times, extremes of everything and we couldn’t adapt fast enough. The scientists knew that we were doomed.

The people of Earth scrambled for anything to save themselves. They built these ships in a rush – as many as they could manage, that’s how the story goes – and they loaded them up with people and sent them up into the sky. I’ve imagined that so many times: all of these ships crowding in the skies. Not everybody could be saved, that’s how the story goes. The people sent up in the ships – they were the lucky ones. Read the rest of this entry »

Extract / Preview: The Return of the Arinn by Frank P Ryan

CB - JF - Nov - The Return of Arinn

A Dragon’s Regret

Spiralling as he rose on the battering winds, the Dragon King – Omdorrréilliuc to the worshipful Eyrie People and, more familiarly, Driftwood to Kate Shaunessy – found the thermals that were capable of bearing his titanic mass aloft. On the beach below, every face gazed up in rapture. Kate realised she must look minuscule,  waving  goodbye from on high to the fast-disappearing Cill children. They included her friend Shaami, and the special one who was already taller and more knowing than the others, the new Momu, who was gazing heavenwards with those big golden eyes. The pain of leaving them, knowing she might never see them again, felt like a cold splinter of iron impaled in Kate’s heart. But all too soon they were gone, the beach reduced to a snowflake of brilliant white before it too was lost behind the clouds that were materialising against the up-thrust mountains.
The dragon’s voice remained a rumble as deep as thunder even when it addressed Kate mind-to-mind: <Weep not for others but for yourself in your coming ordeal.>

‘I’ll still miss them terribly.’

<The heart is a poor guide to reason.>

‘Ah,  sure, and where would we be without it?’

<Safer, perhaps. And besides, they no longer need your help.>

‘No. They have a new young Momu to guide them.’

<And who in this war-torn world will guide you when you have proven yourself so refractory to common sense?>

‘I know I’ve been unreasonable, but I’m back now. I do so hope that we remain friends. Please tell me where we are headed?’ Read the rest of this entry »

Masked Volume 2 by Serge Lehman and Stephane Crety: Preview!

CG - Titan - Oct - Masked V2 We’ve been looking forward to checking out Lehman & Crety’s MASKED series, brought to the UK by Titan Comics in collected volumes, this being the second. So we’re behind on our reading but no reason you should be. Scroll on and have a peak into Volume 2, coming in October!


NB. Pages in order but not sequential.

Masked Vol 2 Preview 1

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Extract / Preview: Mythmaker by Marianne de Pierres

CB - AR - Nov - Mythmaker


I savoured the sunrise from the eastern butte. Today’s was extraordinary: splashes of molten gold as if the sun had dripped burning liquid on the plains. The sand and the silhouette of the distant western ranges gained colour with each moment, turning pale pink like the chest feathers of the cheeky galahs that swept the plains. The mulla-mulla was in flower too after a recent rain –a carpet of deep purple.
Birrimun Park: the last natural habitat in the world.
My father gave his life to this place, and, if it came down to it, so would I. Birrimun was the only place in the world that I felt whole, and sane, which was why I was about to accept a deal with my previously estranged mother and give up my work as park ranger to become her spy.


I sighed loud enough that my horse, Benny’s, ears flicked back at me. Perhaps that was an overly dramatic summation of my current situation, but then life had taken some dramatic turns of late. Not so long ago, Nate Sixkiller of the US Marshal Service had joined Parks Southern as my colleague. I hadn’t welcomed the coupling, but I was beginning to tolerate it a little better than at first. I worked better alone, and so, I decided, did he.

Together, he and I were supposed to be assisting the Global Joint Intelligence Commission (GJIC) in their preparation to halt some kind of Other Worldly coup. Read the rest of this entry »

Extract / Preview: The Night Clock by Paul Meloy

CB - Reb - Nov - The Night Clock


LEWIS WATCHED BARRY Cook stumble across the lawn with the green loop of a hosepipe caught around his ankle. He stopped, looked up. Lewis froze as Barry’s eyes, redblack as blood blisters, fixed on the kitchen window; his tongue lolled, redblack too, behind his teeth. His left arm reached out, fingers clawed, and made a feeble grabbing motion toward the window. His right arm was gone; just a stump remained, congealed and tattered, torn off at the shoulder. Through the glass, Lewis could just make out a low, miserable moaning sound. Barry looked down at the hosepipe snagging his ankle.
Barry reached down, fingers still making that reflexive grabbing motion, and tried to unhook the hosepipe. The task was beyond him; he toppled forward and cracked his forehead against the marble birdbath.

“Someone should put that poor sod out of his misery,” Dawn, Lewis’s mother, said as she joined Lewis at the window. She shook her head as Barry began levering himself up, using his one arm to push himself to his knees, his chin resting on the rim of the birdbath. He had sustained a gaping, bloodless gash to his brow. His expression was one of stunned incomprehension, that of someone perhaps fallen victim to fierce and unanticipated incontinence.

Barry regained his feet. The fall had  dislodged  the hosepipe and Barry used this new freedom of movement to gather enough momentum to propel him up the garden towards the house. He reeled across the patio and thudded against the back door. Dawn gasped, pushed past Lewis and tried to fumble the bolt across but Barry was already pushing his way into the kitchen. The side of his face and his butchered shoulder pressed against the frame, one unlit crimson eye glaring through the gap, the final incredulity of his own astonishing death still embossed in its expression. His mouth opened and he uttered a choked, throaty shout. Read the rest of this entry »

Extract / Preview: Your Resting Place by David Towsey

*** NOTE: If you’ve yet to read David Towsey’s The Walkin’ Trilogy you may wish to sample the second volume – Your Servants and Your People – on Carabas here before reading this ***

CB - JF - Nov - Your Resting Place PROLOGUE
Walter had five bodies on the bed of his wagon. Judging by the clean holes through their heads, they’d stay that way. He liked that: one less thing to worry about. They weren’t bleeding much, either. The boards of his wagon were stained plenty already; the rusty smell was a constant, as were the specks. But it was important to keep the bed clean. He had a reputation to think of.
He waited on the edge of Pine Ridge until dawn, and then waited some more. Law-Man Miller was not an early riser. Walter couldn’t fault him for that – Pine’s trouble kept late hours. He licked his lips at the memory of whiskey and took a slug from his water-skin, then grimaced; he didn’t have the imagination to fool his mouth. Collect from the Law-Man first, then see to Patches and the wagon, and then a soft bed and a soft body. He rubbed the base of his back. He’d earned a little respite. He glanced at the bodies in the wagon. A canvas sheet covered all but their feet.
‘I too have earned it!’ They  stayed silent.

He rubbed his nose and was shocked at the chill of his finger. He’d waited long enough. The first flick of the reins had no effect. He leaned over to find Patches asleep. The shaggie’s talent for sleeping standing up rankled him and he slapped the reins harder. He was pleased with the resulting snort as Patches lurched forward, the wheels creaking their own protest. They were all idle – he was the only one in this outfit who understood hard work. As he rolled into Pine Ridge, he figured he might be the only  one  in  the whole county. Read the rest of this entry »