Now Available – The Control

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Last summer I was fortunate to be one of the authors pegged for The Immortality Chronicles. I took my story and ran all through history. I wanted my protagonist to have seen everything — from Gilgamesh to Cleopatra, The Black Plague to Ebola, Mozart to Justin Bieber. I incorporated a popular theme — alien involvement in ancient Egypt, and I was off. What came of it was my story The Control, which I published on its own yesterday. I’m really proud of that story and think readers will love it as well.

To pick up your copy, click on the book cover below. The description will follow.

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A moment exists for everyone—a moment between disaster and victory. It was there, in that moment, where I lived. Always waiting. Always letting my fate be determined by others. Always hovering between a rousing triumph and a crushing catastrophe. I was that moment. But my moment was not to be under my control.

My name is Bek and I am immortal.

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Meet The Alt.Historians — Adam Venezia

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Alt.History 102 is up in the Top 10 of the Sci-fi Anthology charts and is getting some fantastic reviews, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t done meeting some Alt.Historians! Here is a few words from Adam Venezia. Who is he? I’ll leave that to him to answer…

Give us a brief introduction to you. Who are you? What else have you written? What brings you to Alt.History 102?

A few years ago, I walked away from a PhD program in Structural Engineering to pursue a career in writing. Seven years of studying engineering taught me that science fiction is more fun than science. Alt.History 102 is my first time publishing. Most everything before it has been practicing the craft.

What’s your story about? What gave you the idea for your story?

“The Black Network” is about what would happen if we didn’t have all this lovely access to the internet and computing. But, it’s not about a time before computers were invented. They exist, and are just as powerful as we think of them now. But access is limited, controlled by the wealthy, prohibitively expensive for just about everyone.

If you could pick a previous Chronicles anthology that you could alter history to go back and be included in, which one would it be and why?

Time Travel Chronicles. I actually got into the Chronicles by writing a story just for Sam – a sort of audition piece. Time Travel Chronicles was on the verge of coming out at that time, and I just barely missed my chance to be in that collection. A shame, because time travel is easily my favorite subject within science fiction.

Anything else you’d like to plug?

I recently started a blog. I’ve spent the past few years teaching myself to write, and put up the blog as a way of organizing and sharing what I know so far. That’s at adamvenezia.wordpress.com

My Top 10 (Actually 12) Favorite Short Stories of 2015

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2015 is almost up, and you know what that means…

That’s right — excessive weight gain around the holidays!

Also Top 10 Lists!!

Last year I loved making my Top 10 books of the year (which ended up being around 17 or something), but this year I’m going to break down my lists into smaller categories. One of those will be the Top 10 (Actually 12) Short Stories I read in 2015.

Obviously not comprehensive, and not all were written in the past year, but all made a big impression on me. I’m terrible at telling you exactly which was THE BEST, so I’m just going to give them to you in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. Fair warning — many of them are in the Future Chronicles anthologies since I’ve read each of them this year making them a significant reading source for me each time one was released.

A few caveats: A few stories may not have made the cut because I only took one per anthology, and I definitely left all of the parts of Hugh Howey’s Beacon 23 series off since they’ll make an appearance as a full novel on my best books of the year list.


Zero Hour by Eamon Ambrose

zeroRight off the bat, we get a revelation. Eamon has been well-known in the indie community for a few years as being a top reviewer and a big supporter of indie writers. That much talent wasn’t going to stay hidden behind his blog, though, and we were treated to the first of three (so far!), short stories by Eamon in August. The story could be written off, except that Eamon penned the story in the dreaded second-person perspective. You know — the same POV that you read all those Choose Your Own Adventure books in back in middle school. Eamon pulls it off with a flourish and is a fantastic new voice.

The Traveler by Stefan Bolz

tt chronI love how Stefan Bolz writes. Always interesting. Always compelling. Always positive. Even in The Traveler, which originally appeared in The Time Travel Chronicles, where bad things happen, there is an overall optimistic outlook. Bolz has the unique ability to take a dystopia and make it a place you want to be. In The Traveler, Bolz gives us a nuts and bolts (pun definitely intended) look at time travel as our protagonist builds a machine from scratch. The story is poignant and touching, and is one of a handful of phenomenal stories from that anthology.

Free Fall by Peter Cawdron

freefallPeter Cawdron is perhaps the best writer who you should be reading if you aren’t. He’s written stories about aliens, genetic engineering, time travel, and has most recently been focusing his time and talents on zombies and the monsters humanity creates. Free Fall is set in Cawdron’s zombie universe and is a fascinating take on the genre, putting an astronaut in space at the time of the z-pocalypse. What does he do? How does he react when a distress call comes to him from a little girl on earth? The tale is thrilling and captivating.

Tasty Dragon Meat by KJ Colt

dragonIn The Dragon Chronicles, one title took the title of the “Most Talked About,” and that was Tasty Dragon Meat. KJ Colt managed to tell a story that was funny, scary, and thrilling all at the same time. Who would imagine that ingesting dragon meat would do anything besides fill a starving man’s stomach? The idea that the addictive flesh of the dragon had hidden qualities was fun and inventive and earned Colt a spot on this list.

A Long Horizon by Harlow Fallon

11796327_10153423837640170_1900403244562143189_nThe Immortality Chronicles was the first Future Chronicles title to send proceeds to charity. One might think the stories would be subpar, but throughout it, the authors strove for excellence. Harlow Fallon’s A Long Horizon capped the collection with a bang. The story spans hundreds of years from a ship bound for the New World from Europe to a ship in deep space bound for unknown destinations. One thing is consistent – an alien who has formed a symbiotic (even parasitic) relationship with its host, a woman who was just on the cusp of adulthood on her voyage to America. It is touching, interesting, and visceral.

Piece of Cake by Patrice Fitzgerald

aiPatrice Fitzgerald takes artificial intelligence and adds something we all can relate to – cake. Originally published in The A.I. Chronicles, Fitzgerald’s story takes the cake (sorry!) as the story of A.I. run amok with political correctness. There are certainly shades and hints that allude to our society today and the steps we take to making everyone the “same” and ignoring unique body shapes. I applaud Patrice’s work on the story and how it rings true, but also how it hits the funny bone as well.

Writer’s Block by Hank Garner

writers blockEarlier when I mentioned Eamon Ambrose, I talked about how much of a boon to indie publishing he’d been. Hank Garner is quickly becoming a major voice for publishing with his Author Stories Podcast. Recording one a week, Hank is giving a voice (literally) to dozens of writers who deserve to be heard. Garner is a heck of a writer as well, publishing a number of works this year, including Writer’s Block, a story that most any writer can relate to. Of course, it isn’t as simple as just a case of writer’s block, as our protagonist Stu finds out and we get a magical story out of it.

Under the Grassy Knoll by Richard Gleaves

tinfoilDavid Gatewood is one of the best editors out there, and he took a chance this year by publishing Tales of Tinfoil, a short story anthology centered on conspiracy theories. The anthology is a bold choice and I think it pays off. Gleaves’ story leads the collection with a JFK rabbit-hole tale. Where Gleaves shines is the attention to detail and the plausibility. By the end, I was almost convinced that was the actual circumstances of the president’s assassination. Gleaves’ main work on his Sleepy Hollow series is lengthy (the three books total over a half-million words), but the short story here is a fine work, indeed.

Unconditional by Chris Pourteau

Unconditional_sml2Apparently this year Chris Pourteau just wanted to rip people’s hearts out. He originally published Unconditional on its own at the beginning of the year, and then folded it into an anthology entitled Tails of the Apocalypse featuring stories of animals in the end times. I’m sure with both appearances, readers left the story a few tears fewer. Basic premise: What about the family dog during a zombie apocalypse? Here’s the twist — the story is told from the POV of the dog who is loyal to the last. Well done, Mr. Pourteau, thanks for making me think of it all over again. I hate you.

Where Dragons Lie by Thomas Robins

41MGayjgjJLThis may be more of a novella, but I’m putting it here anyway. Right about the time The Dragon Chronicles was out and garnering five-star reviews, Thomas Robins released the first of two stories in a fantasy world inhabited by dragons and those afraid of them. The title dragon isn’t all he seems to be, however, and you’ll find yourself questioning a lot as you read through the story. Robins has since followed it up with a quasi-sequel and I hope he continues the story in 2016.

Concerns of the Second Sex by Pavarti Tyler

althistoryI don’t know if I can say it much better than what I said about this story when it was first released with the alt.history 101 title in July. So here we go: “Important? Yes. Important. Take Pavarti Tyler’s story for example. Entitled Concerns of the Second Sex, her tale looks at a world where the 19th Amendment never came to be. In fact, with the absence of the women’s vote, the world has reverted to a place barely recognizable. Well, recognizable if you’ve read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, but that’s about it. Tyler pays homage to Atwood with this story and takes it a step further with the treatment of other races, including race mixing. If we never respected the rights of half of the species, why would the race movement of the 50’s and 60’s be successful, either? The story is tragic, yet Tyler does give it a hopeful note. I found it poignant and an important story to read and understand where we’ve come from and where we are going.”

Carindi by Jennifer Foehner Wells

darkAn emotional gut punch rounds out this list as Jennifer Wells gets all the feels as the heart of the Dark Beyond The Stars collection. The authors and curator didn’t try to focus on it, but each of the authors for the anthology is a woman, showing that science fiction isn’t just for men. One of my favorites was Carindi, set in the universe of Wells’ debut novel, Fluency. The story focuses on dependency, love, and sacrifice. When everything you have is in the hands of someone else, what is does love mean? In the end, our actions are the loudest words of all, as we find in this moving short story.


…and there we go. What a great list. By no means is this comprehensive. I read a lot this year, but my my own admission, my reading list was mostly limited to independent publishing, namely The Future Chronicles anthologies. I rated A LOT of stories as five stars this year, so this list could change a lot depending on my mood. There were certainly stories that were great, but I had to set the line somewhere. Don’t worry — still going to have a Best Books of the Year list coming up in the next couple weeks. Stay tuned for that.

But what do you think? Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments.

 

Book Review — The Future Chronicles

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12016174_10153528189235170_522376485_oOver the past year, Samuel Peralta has diligently and deliberately put together a powerhouse science fiction anthology series. He’s been able to attract big name authors such as Hugh Howey, Ken Liu, Seanan McGuire, Robert J. Sawyer, Jennifer Foehner Wells, and Matthew Mather among many others. But, what makes the Future Chronicles volumes great is the platform for new and emerging talent from the trenches of indie authors. While the established authors have been the cornerstone for these collections, the indie talent Sam chooses for each book is exciting and raw.

Full Disclosure: I’ve been privileged to be in three FC anthologies so far (Alien, Z & Immortality) and have spots reserved in at least two more scheduled to run in the next six to eight months. Other than reading and loving The Future Chronicles Special Edition anthology, I have no involvement in the collection.

So if the different anthologies released in the past year were all-star teams, then The Future Chronicles is a best of the best. Some of my favorite stories from collections like The Robot Chronicles, The Telepath Chronicles, The Alien Chronicles and The A.I. Chronicles appear, inviting you to rediscover them, to read them again for the first time in the context of this new collection, outside of the confines of their genre-specific collection. For some, it seems to imbue them with new meaning. When reading A.K. Meek’s The Invariable Man (later expanded to a longer book) with a brand new story on one end and stories about telepaths just pages later, it almost can be read with a new and different point of view.

In The Future Chronicles, we get eleven stories previously released in those first four of the Future Chronicles collections. Each of these stories is excellent and represents those anthologies wonderfully. What is an extra treat are five brand new stories from Sam Best, Susan Kaye Quinn, Deirdre Gould, Angela Cavanaugh, and Moira Katson, as well as a Foreword penned by Hugh Howey. Each is a breath of fresh air. With the general theme, you don’t quite know what to expect…will these stories be about robots, telepathy, aliens, or something else entirely. I’m thrilled to say each of these could very well serve as a foundational block for an anthology of their own.

While I don’t want to ruin any discovery a reader will make on their own, Sam Best really rocks the beginning of the entire collection, Quinn again provides her own brand of singularity fiction with her story, Gould presents a mind-bending tale that will leave you shaking your head, Cavanaugh could give you nightmares (or are they…) for her story The Assistant and Katson threatens to leave you with tears after reading her heartbreaking story of defiance in the face of death.

What’s really amazing is how each of these stories works not only in the confines of their own specific genre, but also all alone and then back in the comfort of other Future Chronicles stories that may or may not be in the same vein. Peralta has crafted a juggernaut and readers are reaping the benefits. If you get the chance, read The Future Chronicles and then explore the other titles available in the Kindle Store.

David Bruns Reviews The Immortality Chronicles

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We’re getting some AMAZING reviews in for The Immortality Chronicles, but one thing the authors featured in the book cannot do is review it ourselves through Amazon. I’ve been mentioning the past few weeks how I felt about many of the stories, and fellow author David Bruns has taken it upon himself to write up his own review of sorts.

So click on David’s face to be taken to his blog where he shares his thoughts on the book.

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Meet the Immortals — ALL the Interviews!

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Today is the launch day for The Immortality Chronicles

(That means you should be reading the book, by the way…)

Not convinced?

A few reviews:

“WOW….All these authors created an awesome collection of stories of the possibilities of living forever…All of these authors were amazing! There wasn’t any story I didn’t love.” 

“This book was really good. There were so many interesting takes on the theme of immortality, and they all had a different spin on it. Every story kept me immersed to the end, I read it in one day because I couldn’t put it down.” 

“This anthology is ambitious in its reach and rich in its delivery.”

“If you haven’t read any of the FC series yet, I highly recommend starting with this one. You won’t be disappointed.”

……

BUT maybe you’ve already had a chance to read it….maybe you are waiting until Labor Day…maybe you still aren’t convinced…maybe you want a break. If you haven’t yet caught each of the author interviews for the anthology, this is Union Station of a sort for that. Following this, I’ll post the pictures of each of the interviewees. Click on the picture to be taken to their interview. Thanks for reading and as one of my old friends used to say, “Live Long and Prosper!”


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Patricia Gilliam

John Gregory Hancock

John Gregory Hancock

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Drew Avera

D.K. Cassidy

D.K. Cassidy

Thomas Robins

Thomas Robins

Gareth Foy

Gareth Foy

E.E. Giorgi

E.E. Giorgi

Harlow C. Fallon

Harlow C. Fallon

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David Bruns

D. Robert Pease

D. Robert Pease

Paul B. Kohler

Paul B. Kohler

Will Swardstrom

Will Swardstrom

Meet The Immortals — Will Swardstrom

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Hey look, it’s my turn! I’ve taken time and used this space to interview each of the other eleven authors featured in The Immortality Chronicles. I thought it only fair that I got to cap the interview series today.

Don’t forget to pick up your copy of The Immortality Chronicles for just $2.99 for a limited time. To check out the other author interviews, just click on their names: Patricia Gilliam, John Gregory Hancock, Drew Avera, Gareth Foy, D.K. Cassidy, Thomas Robins, E.E. Giorgi, Harlow C. Fallon, David Bruns, D. Robert Pease & Paul B. Kohler.

And now…me!

11796327_10153423837640170_1900403244562143189_nWho are you?

Okay…okay. I’ve asked this question of enough people at this point, I should have this down pat. I’m…24601. Shoot. That’s not right.

Okay…my name is Will Swardstrom. I’m a husband, father of two, high school history teacher, and author. Since 2013, I’ve written two novels and a couple handfuls of novellas and short stories. I enjoy teaching for my day job, so there isn’t a huge rush to quit and focus entirely on writing, but perhaps one day… Until that day, I’ll continue to find a balance between my two careers.

Why are you writing for The Immortality Chronicles?

I was on board with The Immortality Chronicles from the get go. Chronicles curator Samuel Peralta approached me about a volume that would act as a vehicle to foster charity donations and he chose Immortality for that. I’d done a previous anthology with my LOOW writing group, so he worked with me early on that side of the book. Eventually I was able to write my own story to help benefit First Book and contribute my third Chronicles story (I’ve also appeared in Alien and Z).

Also, now that I’ve read the entire collection, I’m thrilled to be sharing page space with these immensely talented men and women. Each time I get a story in a Future Chronicles anthology, I am just in awe of the words that surround my story on all sides, from the Foreword to the final acknowledgements, each book is a work of art.

11936983_10207733939815640_650787208_nWhat did you write for The Immortality Chronicles? 

My contribution to The Immortality Chronicles is a story called The Control. It spans much of human recorded history going back to ancient Egypt. I guess I started with the idea that aliens were behind the construction of the pyramids and the other monuments scattered around the Old Kingdom upwards of 5,000 years ago. From there my protagonist goes through history, always alive, but not always living. Not when your life is under someone else’s control. 

How can we find out more about you and your writing?

Well, right here is a great place to start! Up above there are links for many of my books and stories (although I have been terrible at updating this site in the past year or so.) Ultimately to check out my current works, visit my Amazon page HERE. I’m fairly active on Facebook and I can guarantee there aren’t any other Will Swardstrom’s out there. Just search and find me. I’m also on Twitter, but I am a terrible tweeter.

What’s next for you?

Oh boy. Here we go.

My brother, Paul, and I are co-authoring a book. I started it on a whim and he asked to help out and now it may be the best longform fiction I’ve been a part of. We’ve got nearly 83,000 words as of the start of September and I have a goal to finish it by the end of the month.

After that, I’ve got a few short stories to write and/or finish. One I can’t really talk about quite yet, but I can mention the story I have planned for the Alt.History 102 volume coming up. My deadline for that is November with a publication date of early 2016. My working title is “Requiem for an Austrian Princess.” (I’ll leave it there for now and reveal more details later.

In terms of anything else, we’ll just have to see what time allows for. I’m always up for something new, but I gotta make sure I take care of the day job, too.

Anything else we need to know about you and your story?

I was really drawn to The Immortality Chronicles by the epic tale of Gilgamesh. An ancient Sumerian story — in fact, the oldest story we have on record — that tells about Gilgamesh as a king in the Sumerian city of Uruk. Gilgamesh is a great king, mighty and powerful, but he has flaws. Eventually those flaws attract the gods who send him a friend, Enkidu. The two have a great bromance and go on epic adventures, but Enkidu eventually dies and much of the blame can be laid at the feet of Gilgamesh. In order to avoid Enkidu’s fate, he embarks on a search for immortality. The journey is long and tough, but he eventually learns man cannot become immortal, but immortality happens for those who live full and complete lives, allowing others to remember their deeds long after their mortal death.

How can we become immortal? Ultimately we can search for man-made ways — faster than light travel, gene therapy, freezing your body, etc. — but the true way to achieve eternal life isn’t found there.