Big Sci-Fi Giveaway!

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OK. See that picture up above? All you have to do is click it, enter in a few details and BAM, you’ll get FOUR free sci-fi books in your inbox. If you happen to be one of five lucky winners, you’ll also get ebooks for all the books pictured. And one lucky winner gets a prize package that will include over 17 (!) signed physical books sent to your house. So…what’re you waiting for?! Get clicking!

Changing History

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Today’s the day!

Alt.History 102 is changing history starting today. From Nikola Tesla to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Hedy LaMarr to Hannibal, Native American disease resistance to Cold War politics, there are stories in this collection whether you are a history buff, or a sci-fi genre reader to all points in between. I’m super proud to be a part of this collection and my story “Requiem” I believe is one of the finest things I’ve written.

Throughout the past week, I’ve done some interviews with the authors, but before I leave the links below for those, here is the interview Hank Garner (Also an Alt.Historian) did with Samuel Peralta, Jennifer Ellis, Therin Knite, and myself. We had a lot of fun talking together and I think it shows.

Now back to the text interviews. Click on any of the names below for the previous interview.

Will Swardstrom

Drew Avera & Asha Bardon

J.E. Mac

Hank Garner & Therin Knite

Rysa Walker

Jennifer Ellis & Alex Roddie

And I couldn’t leave this without a link to the book, which you can get by simply clicking on the book’s image below. Reviews are already rolling in and so far readers are loving having their histories altered before their very eyes. Go buy it for just 99 cents for a limited time and read it for yourself!

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Meet The Alt.Historians — Jennifer Ellis & Alex Roddie

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ALT-History-102-eBook (1)One day away from the official launch of Alt.History 102!! 

(I might be a tad excited…)

I think I said before that when I finished my story “Requiem,” I can honestly say it was one of the toughest challenges I’ve had as a writer — balancing the “real life” aspects of the story with the speculative elements I would add in by changing one or two historical events. I would say that most of the authors in Alt 102 would agree with me, especially the first of my guests today: Jennifer Ellis. Her story leads the collection and is a knock-out. She tackles the story of Hedy LaMarr in a real and emotional way. I appreciated her take on it and it fits the collection to a “T”.

Alex Roddie on the other hand is a new voice to me. I was tangentally aware of him through other work by mutual friends, but this was the first time I have been personally introduced, and I am looking forward to diving into his story later today.

If you missed them, the other interviews so far for Alt.History 102 are here —> Me, Drew Avera & Asha Bardon, J.E. Mac, Hank Garner & Therin Knite, and Rysa Walker.

And now, Jennifer Ellis…


 

Jennifer Ellis

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

I live in the mountains in Canada where where I write, hike, ski, borrow dogs, and evade bears. I also work as a climate change researcher, evaluator and strategic planner. I write mostly science fiction and fantasy. My Derivatives of Displacement series for children and adults is a time travel portal fantasy about the intersection between magic and science. The first novel in that series is A Pair of Docks and I just released the third novel A Grave Tree in November. I’ve also written several stand-alone novels including In the Shadows of the Mosquito Constellation set in the near future after peak oil has caused an economic collapse. I have also been lucky enough to be included in several anthologies such as Synchronic: 13 Tales of Time Travel, Tales of Tinfoil, Tales of the Apocalypse and now Alt. History 102.

I came to Alt. History 102 in part through Synchronic, which Samuel Peralta was also part of, so we had met there, and in part because I submitted a novel to the Future Chronicles one book thread and Samuel checked out some of my other writing. I am extremely excited to be on board.

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

I have written an alternate history of Hedy Lamarr, Hitler, and World War II. Hedy Lamarr has always fascinated me. The facts of her life are in many ways stranger than fiction. Born in 1914 to wealthy Jewish parents in Vienna, she was the first woman to appear nude on screen in the controversial movie Ecstasy in 1933. She then married Austrian arms dealer who had dealings with Hitler and Mussolini and entertained both leaders at he and Hedy’s castle home. While fleeing her marriage, Hedy met Louis B. Mayer and was signed immediately to a contract with MGM studios. Dubbed the most beautiful woman in the world, she became a major Hollywood star at the height of the golden age of Hollywood, but she is also credited with inventing frequency-hopping spread spectrum technology, which is the basis for Bluetooth, Wi-fi and many other modern communication methods. Upon receiving her invention, the military immediately classified it, and Hedy was dismissed to help the war effort by selling war bonds. Hedy did not receive credit for her invention until very late in her life when she was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

All of these factors create so many delightful what ifs for an alternate history. What if Hedy’s invention was used in World War II? What if Hedy was a spy for the Allies, or the Axis powers, as some have speculated she might have been? What if Hedy had a relationship with Hitler, as has also been speculated? I took these threads and ran with them and had great fun as a result.

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?

So many great Chronicles to choose from, so little time. My original instinct was to say that I would love to be in The Time Travel Chronicles (which I would of course… I would like to be in any Chronicles anthology) as I write time travel fiction and it would be great cross over to my other work. I spend lots of time thinking about various models of time travel, and paradox, and multiple universes, and stuff like that. And of course I would be interested in The Dragon Chronicles as I’m always tempted to throw a dragon or two into my fantasy series. Who isn’t? There will be a dragon somewhere in my future I’m sure. But I think I would like to be part of The Galaxy Chronicles. It would push me more as I have never written a story set in space, but I like to be pushed, and I am of course a huge Star Trek, Star Wars fan. I would like to see what I could deliver in a different galaxy, and I’ve always thought it would be handy to be a Jedi.

Anything else you’d like to plug?

Well you can always buy any of my books. I promise action-packed adventures. The first novel in my Derivatives of Displacement series is only 99 cents. You can find my library here: http://www.amazon.com/Jennifer-Ellis/e/B00H6V6PH8

You can also check out my website at www.jenniferellis.ca where I write about writing, and my upcoming releases and give away short stories.


Alex Roddie

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

My name is Alex Roddie, and I’m a freelance writer and editor. I have a background in historical fiction and have written two novels set in the mountaineering culture of 19th century Britain: The Only Genuine Jones and The Atholl Expedition. More recently, I’ve branched out into science fiction. I have written short stories for the anthologies No Way Home and Crime and Punishment, both of which include work from Chronicles authors Lucas Bale and Michael Patrick Hicks. That’s how I became involved in the Future Chronicles project.

In addition to fiction, I’m an outdoor and adventure-travel writer. Backpacking and mountaineering are my passions and I have written content for a number of UK-based outdoor magazines and websites. This year I’m planning a thru-hike of the 500-mile Arctic Trail in Scandinavia.

My day job is editorial work, and I make a living helping other self-published writers to achieve success. I also freelance as sub-editor for Sidetracked Magazine.

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

The Locked Web is really two different alternate-history concepts in one. What if the Cold War never ended? and What if the internet never developed? In my story, these two ideas are tightly interwoven. A Soviet cyber-attack in 1982 leads to the microcomputer boom of the eighties failing in the marketplace, and the web is simply never invented. By 2015, Britain is still locked in a bitter war with the USSR and electronic communications are tightly controlled. Small-scale atomic attacks have been a fact of life for twenty years.

Computers have evolved in a weird direction, too, and this is really how I first got the idea for the story. I started to wonder what the world would be like today if small British computing firms such as Acorn, Sinclair and Psion hadn’t died off early, but instead flourished after a hypothetical failure of IBM and Apple. In this alternate history, Britain is the computing powerhouse of the world – but that’s largely irrelevant, because computing has no place in the lives of most people.

In the 2015 of The Locked Web, computers are seen as suspicious and alien objects. Old mainframes and dumb terminals are used in places like national libraries and universities, but the government has access to advanced tech such as e-ink desks. The only unregulated network is the Academic Subnet, and that’s where a new freedom movement arises – the Web Supremacist movement. Mirroring true events, the effort to set information free emerges from academia.

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?

I’d probably pick The Robot Chronicles. I’ve always been interested in robots but have never written about them.

Anything else you’d like to plug?

You can follow me on Twitter at @alex_roddie.

My website is www.alexroddie.com.

 

Meet The Alt.Historians — J.E. Mac

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ALT-History-102-eBook (1)Here we go. When I solicited interviews from my fellow authors in Alt.History 102, I never dreamed I would get this. This…I don’t even know what to say. I sent out four broad questions, expecting a short little interview. J.E. Mac (otherwise known as James McCormick) decided to send me a manifesto. He put words into my mouth, so turnabout is fair play, right? J.E. has a potty mouth at times, so since this is MY blog, I substituted some of his words for my own. Think 80’s TV censorship if you will.

So, if you see the word SNICKERDOODLE, FLAMETHROWER, DAGNABIT, DIME, CHEESES or GOLLY DANG, be assured that James has more of a potty mouth than me, and I’ll leave the interpretation of those words up to you.

So…strap yourselves in, get a beverage of your choosing, and enjoy my “INTERVIEW” with J.E. Mac.


 

In response to Alt.History 102, Will asked some questions. Some serious questions. Very serious questions.

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

My name is James McCormick. Oh SNICKERDOODLES. That’s not what it says on my story. Well, FLAMETHROWER.

I write SciFi as J.E. Mac.

Why J.E. Mac? Well, it’s just my name super shortened. I always felt, that visually, McCormick is kinda a lopsided name. It’s very heavily weighted to the left—and that poor k is just a teeny tiny hook hanging on for dear life. I don’t know if many of you guys out there are typography nuts or anything (I was a big comicbook fan as a kid—also inked comics for DC a lifetime ago), but I just felt that I’d always have to capitalize my name (Brandon Sanderson style) and I didn’t really want that.

So… I thought J.E. Mac would look cool, big and blocky on a cover. (Yes, kids. “Cool” was my reason). I thought it’d be all BEN HUR. Big and Bold. And Simple. I’m not sure it does any of that. But whatevs. It’s what I use now.

Ironically, looking at the cover of Alt.History 102, I also noticed another advantage. It’s super short.

I mean, look at that long list of names. Then mine just pops out because of the visual contrast.

Wish I could claim having the foresight to do that (Or that I rigged the anthology to have all other authors with moderately longer names)… Actually, there’s no way to finish that sentence. I wish I had that foresight lol.

Now, I get it. Sounds like I’m super egotistical and all (I am! Nah. Not really). But your author name is your brand and I really want people to read my SNICKERDOODLES. So, you know, getting people to see and remember your name is a big deal.

Yet, you post on Facebook as James McCormick and not J.E. Mac.

SHUSH YOU! I AM A COMPLICATED MAMMAL DAGNABIT! /sobs into a pillow.

GOLLY DANG, James (he means J.E.) you wrote a FLAMETHROWING novel answering a sliver of the first question.

Well get used to it Interview Me.

WILL: Wait, isn’t this my interview?

J.E.: Is it?

Interview James: Nah. Bug off Will.

J.E.: Dude, I liked his story in Alt.History

Interview James: Lookit you, you sell out!

WILL: Can we like, move on please?

I nod. But Interview me rolls his eyes.

WILL: What else have you written?

I used to write screenplays. A lot. Had a few optioned. They were generally 1 hour action-y stuff (think J.J. Abrams). Or half hour comedies. Had moderate success. But not enough to write home about. (Or pay bills with. That last one being the more important. At least, I think so. Wonder what my mother thinks about that? I mean, I have to wonder. Obviously, I haven’t written home in awhile).

So why the hell am I not doing that?

Well, it takes money. And people with money get a lot of say. And I don’t generally like being told what to do. So, uh…

Yeah.

I actually didn’t like the idea of not being in control of my own creative destiny. I didn’t like that the stories I would write would ultimately not be reflections of me, but of what test market 22K deemed appropriate.

(P.S. It’s the type of creativity and logic that posits: Hmm, people love watching monkeys. Look at all the hits on YouTube. And man, people sure love doctor dramas. That’s it! We’re making a show called Dr. Monkey about a chimpanzee doc and all the hot trim he pulls on the side).

I know. I’d probably watch it too.

I decided to learn how to write a novel. I mean, I can write. Er, sorta. I mean, well Stephen King aside, ya don’t need a large vocabulary. So, I took that as a challenge. (Man, gotta say, it’s… different. Two dozen short stories in, one novel, and a bunch of half written novels, and all I can say is that the process is a very different one).

WILL: Let’s try this again. What specifically have you written? Like, give us a title (mutters something that sounds a lot like ‘you DIMEbag’ under his breath),

DAMAGED GOOD.

There, happy?

I wrote a novel called DAMAGED GOOD.

It’s about an assassination attempt on the Los Angeles Mayor in the near future. It’s also about a six year old robot girl, Celia, who is left for dead and witness to some shnazzy SNICKERDOODLES. And a hard boiled detective, Jack Cutter—probably should lead with him, since he’s the main character and all—with a grudge against synthetics that needs to use Celia to solve the crime.

WILL: So BLADE RUNNER meets WITNESS?

Dude… You got some Harrison Ford love going there.

WILL: Who doesn’t?

Truth. /fistbump.

What made you write it?

Funny thing is, it’s the type of SciFi story I dig. Blade Runner is one of my all time favs. Altered Carbon is up there. (If I ever write fast enough, I have a story I want to flesh out that was heavily inspired by Altered Carbon—not how you’d think tho. Just gonna have to wait and see, suckahs! …if it ever gets written that is. /sadface).

I also discovered an odd thing about genre.

People either want detective stories / thrillers. OR Scifi. They don’t really want both. The audiences are two very dissimilar audiences.

You really gotta coax one over to opening the cover to get them to sit down with the characters a little.

NOTE: I’m not saying they don’t enjoy reading both genres. I’m saying getting them to pay for a book that isn’t another David Baldacci clone or George R.R. Martin clone is tough (P.S. Yes, I use a very broad term for SciFi. You know, like George R.R. Martin. The SciFi term. Not how broad he is).

I’m glad to see Hugh Howey is jumping into the future-noir detective stories, though. Hopefully it makes people realize that, hey, SciFi doesn’t have to be all dry and stuffy. It can be nail biting suspense. Or tales of murder and mystery.

The two can exist well together. And plenty of people cognitively understand this. Just convincing them to pick up a book is another behemoth task in and of itself. (One that I’m still learning, being a noob and all).

WILL: Sounds great.

Is that sarcastic?

WILL: No. It really. Sounds great.

You. Are speaking. Like you. Are. William. Shatner.

WILL: You know damaged goods has an ‘s’ on it right?

OMG, Will. You are so lucky this is the internet. I’d smack that smug smile off your face. Just. Punch you. Right in the mouf.

WILL: Well, you know. Grammar. It does.

Yeah, yeah. My reason was twofold (Meh, let’s make it threefold). It’s the idea of ‘good’ being damaged. It plays off the obvious ‘damaged goods,’ as in, maybe Celia is one. Or Cutter. Or everyone. And, I like the anomaly. I like titles that are a little off. That make you ask, I wonder what that means (without being so esoteric that you’re some Dada artist picking names out of a hatHi, every anime ever! P.S. Big fan).

So where are we?

WILL: Still question 1. Unfortunately.

What brings me to Alt.History 102?

WILL: Yes.

Truthfully?

WILL: I’d hope so.

I missed the deadline for Alt. History 101.

Like, I, uh. Slacked off?

Is there a way to put that, that, uh, like makes it sound like I did it because I knew 102 was gonna be awesome? That it would have a blue cover instead of a red one? (I love blue btw. Red, not so much).

WILL: No, James. There isn’t.

Yeah. Well, I had been following Sam’s (Samuel Peralta) Future Chronicles for quite some time. Actually, had read an anthology called Synchronicity that was somewhat of a predecessor to the

Future Chronicles: Time Travel Anthology. This one had a story from Sam, Nick Cole, Michael Bunker, Jason Gurley, and Susan Kaye Quinn amongst others. Basically, SciFi indie writers you see quite a bit on the scene.

Somehow, Susan and I started talking on Facebook… Um, if this interview is any indication, this is pretty much how I talk. It’s all stream of thought, but, ya know, I try to be entertaining or tell a joke or two. Some people respond to it. Others just block me.

And we hit it off. She’s a great lady. Read her stuff! Seriously. I’m partial to her DEBT COLLETOR series.

Interview Me: You unbelievable sell out!

Anyway, I don’t know for sure, but I have a sneaking suspicion that she told Sam about me. And Sam had just so happened to have an idea for an offshoot of Future Chronicles that was the Alt History series.

And I posted DAMAGED GOOD in his, by now infamous, “one book” thread.

I thought it was an interesting idea. But I really, really didn’t want to do—History as you know it, but one tiny thing changed. Hitler tripped and fell on his way to art school and we all lived happily ever after! I was worried that was the type of stories ALT HISTORY would generate.

I also wanted to do something local. About something I knew. That maybe many people didn’t.

Anyway… I’m sure I’ll go more in-depth about it in a future question.

WILL: CHEESES! MORE in-depth? You’ve only answered one question.

Yes. More in-depth.

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

Funny you should ask that!

WILL: (sighs and hangs his head in his hand). It’s not funny at all.

DROUGHT is about a future Los Angeles in which the events of The Rape of The Valley never took place.

Basically, the short hand is—you know CHINATOWN? Its plot and stuff? Yeah, well that really happened. (Not the Jack Nicholson stuff, but the screwing over the people of Owens Valley).

You probably know the name Mulholland. Well, you know it because they were responsible for a lot of shady shenanigans in a very corrupt birth of Los Angeles that made a handful of people very rich. As rewards, many of these men named streets after themselves. Woohoo!

As I mentioned before, I didn’t really want to do a past setting. I didn’t want to go back to the event and nudge a couple things around that would result in a different outcome.

I wanted to look at what would happen to the development of the city if it had never occurred. Where would a Los Angeles be?

Fun fact – A small group of powerful men wanted the Los Angeles population to grow because they needed crews to help pump oil. The city itself didn’t have the means to support a population like what they needed. Chiefly, being a desert climate, cheap easy access to water. Cuz, ya know, people gotta drink water to live.

So, you know, that’s not really a story. That’s just a setting. A world.

You need the human element.

And this is where I’m always terrible at pitching my stories. Because I don’t know which story to pitch. I prefer talking about the human element. But then you get questions like… Yeah, but what happens?! And honestly, the poster is usually the cool plot SNICKERDOODLE (blowing up).

SIDE BAR: Shane Black, amongst others, have this theory that must stories are really two stories. I tend to agree. One story is the plot. The things that happen. But the other story, is the WHY you’re telling the story. The ‘what’s it all mean?’ The ‘so what?’

Godard called it writing for the invisible. I like that.

You can have the greatest plot in the world, but without the human element no one is going to get past page one.

DROUGHT is also about a father who left Los Angeles that has intermittent business dealings there, who winds up taking his daughter to see the city for her first time.

(P.S. This is the “rookie cop” story model. It’s a really good, fast, simple way to introduce an audience/reader to something far out or exotic—Have a character who has been there and one who hasn’t. That way, the character who has, gets to tell the one that hasn’t (and the audience) a whole lot of exposition. Yes, it’s a cheap trick, but it’s effective. So good, check out how many television pilots use this device).

Anyway, I just wanted some sheer culture clash in a Los Angeles that resembled more of a desert wasteland than anything else. I thought it’d be cool to have a bunch of people living out in the desert. That have learned to live there without help or aid from civilization. And make civilization sort of a trap.

I mean, so many of our stories are about how civilization is good. But not many think about everything we have to give up living in a society.

People don’t stop to realize that a city, the rules and laws, are all man-made constructs. We’ve literally convinced generations that they have to do what they’re told – yet, we’ve somehow disassociated that with the notion that it’s some other dude (who tends to profit quite a bit off telling you what to do) telling you what to do.

The irony is—I started writing this a year and a half ago. Before I knew Mad Max was coming out. Before California started really ramping up about going into a drought. So, it was kinda timely in an odd way.

Anyway, I think I covered what my story, DROUGHT, is about.

WILL: Uh, yeah. Just slightly.

WILL: Moving along…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?

Well, I did try to get in a (super short) story to the Time Travel Chronicles.

Maybe it was because of Synchronicity. I don’t know. Actually, didn’t really think about why I pushed for that anthology. But that’s probably a large part of it.

I submitted a story called, BUTTERFLY, that was about a father and son.

I had this revelation about my own relationship with my father. And about generations. And how limited we are by our own perceptions. Basically, the new generation always thinks the old is wrong, or crazy, until they get to the age where they realize the context of what the older generation was saying all along. Only now, they’re the old generation and when they go to tell the younger one, they don’t listen (Irony :p).

DAMAGED GOOD has some similar theme running through it as well, although it’s not the main one of that book.

If you’ll indulge me…

WILL: Like I haven’t already?

…I’d like to share the opening of that story. It’s my favorite opening I’ve ever written.

“What’s this?” my father asked holding up a baggy.

He knew what it was. I knew that he knew. And he knew that I knew that he knew. That came with knowing the future, I guess. He had been there and I hadn’t.

I’m a big fan of repetitious dialogue. But not repetition for the sake of repetition. More, repetition in how words can change meanings in different context.

So that’s one answer.

WILL: ONE?! HOW MANY ARE THERE GOING TO BE?!

Three.

WILL: (falls over in his chair).

The other is the Cyborg Chronicles. There’s a story that happens offscreen (offbook?) between DAMAGED GOOD and FOREVER SIX (the sequel) that makes Celia somewhat of a quasi-celebrity. I wanted to tell that story in a Future Chronicle.

WILL: And the third?

Is going to be in 103.

WILL: That’s, uh, not how alternate history works. That’s in the future.

We don’t know that. I don’t know if I’ve been accepted. Hell, there might not even be a 103. We can’t tell.

WILL: Right… therefore you CAN’T alter it.

I’m altering it right now. I’m making it happen.

WILL: OMG. Is this almost over already?

What was the last question?

WILL: Anything else you’d like to plug?

Nah. I think I’m good.


Editor’s note…

WILL: FALLS OVER. DIES. Gets resurrected as a mosquito somewhere near James’ house in Hawaii. 

THE END

Meet The Alt.Historians — Drew Avera & Asha Bardon

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ALT-History-102-eBook (1)We’re changing history this week with the upcoming publication of Alt.History 102. The anthology, curated and co-edited by Samuel Peralta, is ambitious and bold. (I might be a little biased…) The release is slated less than a week away on January 31, and we’re all geeking out a little over here, so excuse the glee. 🙂

The list of authors is fantastic and I can’t wait for readers to see the fruits of our efforts.

Yesterday, I introduced…myself. Today, I’m thrilled to present two interviews with my co-authors Drew Avera and Asha Bardon. Don’t worry…the rest of the line-up is in the wings. So, without further ado, let’s hear what these two have to say.


 

Drew Avera

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

My name is Drew Avera (pronounced Avery) and I’m a science fiction author who lives in Virginia. I’m known more for the books I’ve written in The Dead Planet Series, but I also write a lot of science fiction short stories. Sam invited me to Alt. History 102 because of a story I wrote called Reich, which is a blend of alternate history and a dystopian future. I also have a story featured in The Immortality Chronicles which was my first anthology with the other Chroniclers.

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

My story is called “The Tesla Gate” and it is about Nikola Tesla building a device to help his friend relive his life with his recently deceased family members. Tesla is a bit different in my story than he was known for, but every brilliant person is hiding something. You’ll have to read my story to see what is lurking in one of the greatest scientific minds in history.

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?

I would have loved to be in “The AI Chronicles” or “The Galaxy Chronicles”. Maybe they will do another round of those…

Anything else you’d like to plug?

If you would like to jump into The Dead Planet Series then check out the first book in the series for free. It is called Exodus and you can pick it up here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00C1KP6SS


Asha Bardon

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

Hi I’m Asha and I live in a quiet town with my cats and guide dog. Under the name Lesley Smith, I’ve published two novels (The Changing of the Sun and The Parting of the Waters) as well as a story in The Z Chronicles and various self published shorts that you can find on Amazon. I come to Alt.History 102 under the guide of a chance to write historical fiction, something I’ve never tried before. I pitched Samuel three ideas: one focusing on America before it was discovered as the New World, another focusing on Hannibal’s success against the Romans and the final idea was a reversal of the Space Race. Sam went with Hannibal and so “The Elissiad” was born.

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

I spent the first year of my degree continuing my study of Classics (a subject which basically covers every aspect of ancient Greece and Rome) and we read a number of classical texts, most notably Virgil’s Aeneid which I always preferred. Homer’s Illiad was basically a war movie and bored me; The Odyssey was pure fantasy but Virgil, he mixed both and came out with a much more memorable epic.

My story revolves around the idea of Hannibal winning against the Romans but it’s not set in that period. Rather it focuses on the Golden Age of Carthage, a generation or so later, where the city has been blessed by gods and is the new Eternal City. Except the gods, Tanit and Baal, aren’t all they seem and the city isn’t as peaceful as it appears with a religious faction, the Warriors of Mithras, having incited the people to question their benevolent deities.

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?

All of them? Actually I’m happy with the ones I’ve been in and hope that I’ll be included in future line ups (my inner geek would love to be in Gamer, for example). Oh and something apocalyptic but we’ll see.

Anything else you’d like to plug?

Sure. As I mentioned I have a couple of novels out with more to follow this year. You can buy them from Amazon and peruse my backlist here: http://www.amazon.com/Lesley-Smith/e/B00BXA1MXA

I also blog at www.ashabardon.com and live on Twitter as @AshaBardon. Come and say hi!

Covers, Release Dates, and FREE BOOKS

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Oh wow…a lot going on, so let’s just jump right in. This blog has three parts:

— Release date for Blink

— Cover reveal and release date for Alt.History 102

— New cover and details on how to get Z BALL for FREE!

Blink

I was wavering a lot, but I finally set a release date for Blink, the first full novel co-written by my brother Paul and me. We think it’s a ton of fun and think readers will love it just as much as we did writing it. The paperback may or may not be ready by then, but for sure the book will be available on Kindle on…February 4, 2016. 

I’m not sure if I’ll do a preorder for it, but if I do, it’ll just be a few days beforehand. I’ve got a Launch Party in the works and some great giveaways surrounding the launch, so stay tuned for that! Once again, marvel at this awesome cover one more time…

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Alt.History 102

As a history teacher, I was a little jealous when Samuel Peralta put out Alt.History 101 without me in it. (OK…a lot jealous.) Fortunately, Sam invited me into this volume and I got to dip back in the past to Pre-Napoleonic France and Austria with a story about Mozart and Marie Antoinette entitled simply “Requiem.” The release date is…January 31 and here is the cover reveal!

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Z BALL

When I released Z BALL on its own (originally in The Z Chronicles), I did a simple little cover. I thought it worked. It did not. But then I was at an author event in November and met a local comic book artist and we talked about making up a new cover. I’m thrilled to say it is done, on the book and ready for your eyes. Here it is…and Z BALL is free today and tomorrow! Click the awesome picture to get it free on Kindle! (P.S. we did a little extra work on the cover for the paperback, so if you like awesome looking books in your house, pick it up for just $5.99.)

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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.