Posted by Judith Tarr

When I first got to thinking (as one does) about horses in space, I had in mind Earth horses traveling on spaceships and living on alien planets. There’s another side to them however, if one is a science-fiction fan, and that is the idea of the equinoid alien.

Writers have based their aliens, iconic and otherwise, on any and all species of terrestrial creatures, from lions to lizards (and dinosaurs) and even saguaro cacti. But horses have tended to make their way into space with few modifications, and I haven’t seen or heard of any spacefaring sentients based on horses.

(Yes, please, commenters: if you’ve found them, let us know about them.)

Centaurs, yes, but that’s a semi-humanoid variation. John Varley’s Titan, for example. Even, in a weird way, Larry Niven’s Puppeteers. But no horses as such.

One obstacle might be the fact that horses are hooved animals, and therefore (humans might think) severely limited in their ability to build and manipulate technology. Even the word “manipulate” implies hands and, more specifically, opposable thumbs. Hooves in contrast are literally blunt instruments.

Elephants get around this problem by having long, supple, extremely manipulable trunks with a “finger” or two on the end. Horses don’t have anything close to this, but their upper lips are amazingly flexible and extensible. They have a surprising degree of shall we say dexterity with their teeth as well. I have one who can untie people’s shoes (and he has proved that he knows exactly where to tug, which means he has a sense of the structure of a knot; he also understands English sentences, but that’s neither here nor there, here), and there are horses who have to be locked in with combination locks or padlocks because their lips and teeth can jigger latches and fasteners. Once one of these equine geniuses figures out how to undo it, he’s staged a jailbreak and headed for the feed room. And probably liberated all the other horses on the place as well.

So there’s potential for ability to develop and build technology as humans would conceive it. Probably machines would be large, with very large parts, and keys or levers operable by teeth and hooves. Building would in some ways be easier for equinoids than for preindustrial humans: horses are extremely strong, and can both pull and carry significant weights. Building pyramids, raising standing stones? No problem.

Building starships? Supposing the equinoid has the intelligence to conceive of all the essentials, from life support to propulsion to stellar navigation, she’ll quite probably manage to construct something to suit. Worldships and generation ships would make sense: lots of space to run, and lots of room to grow fodder, fertilized by the crew, with water cycled and recycled through both the crew and the on-board pasturage.

We don’t need to be constrained by the one-hooved model of equine, either. The original horse, the Eohippus or hyracotherium, was a small-dog-sized, five-toed animal. Modern horses keep vestiges of all five toes. They walk on the middle toe which is now the familiar hoof; the nail of a second toe, called the ergot, appears on the pastern joint above the hoof; and a third manifests as the chestnut or callosity up past the knee or just below the hock. The remaining two toes have essentially disappeared; there are faint remnants in the splint bones between the hooves and the knees or hocks.

Hyracotherium illustration by Heinrich Harder.

There are legends of polydactyl horses in historical times—throwbacks with extra toes. Julius Caesar supposedly had such a horse, and a few have been documented in the past couple of centuries. There’s not much evident use in a terrestrial horse with spare toes, but an alien horse might evolve something resembling hands. Then she would have enhanced toolmaking (and using) capability.

Even if that doesn’t happen, there may be other ways to compensate for the lack of fingers and thumbs. Living tools, for example.

Humans and horses have a unique symbiosis: human cares for and feeds the horse, horse carries or pulls the human or helps plow the fields or log the woods. Unlike any other species of terrestrial animal, the horse is regularly and consistently ridden, and riding requires at least some degree of mental connection with the animal.

Now suppose we reverse the polarity. The horse is the one in charge. The rider, a primate or other smaller creature with good eyesight and dexterous hands, executes the horse’s commands. Originally this might involve planting fields of grass or grain, building storehouses for fodder and shelters for horses and their helpers, constructing containers for water and feed, fashioning harnesses, and so on. Later, with developing technology, horses might design and their helpers execute tools and machines and, eventually, starships.

This isn’t as improbable as it might sound. Horses, like dogs, do not have the anatomy for human speech, but they can certainly understand it. An equinoid with high intelligence would come up with ideas and technologies that her physical body might not be constructed to build—but that’s what tools are for.

Once I got to thinking about horse-as-brain, I realized that there are even more ubiquitous and much smaller creatures which might serve in the right circumstances. Horses are a magnet for flies and insects of all sorts. If, on our alien planet, our equinoids found a way to turn pests into an asset, they would have what amounted to swarms of living nanobots.

Think about what ants or bees could do under the control of a highly intelligent entity. Flies are far more random, but they do swarm, and if bred and eventually engineered for specific purposes, could build quite sophisticated mechanisms, all the way to computer parts. They might even, far along in the history of the species, build their own replacements: actual, mechanical nanobots that would, in turn, build starships.

Then we would have our spacefaring equinoids, and a complete planetary infrastructure to support them—though with time and expansion through the star roads, that infrastructure might move into space as well. Traveling planetoids and rogue moons as well as huge generation ships would be more than comfortable for a species that needs ample room to run.

Next time I’ll tackle the issue of psychology and culture, because now I’ve started, I can’t stop.

That’s worldbuilding for you. One thing leads to another leads to another, and before you know it you’ve built a universe. Populated, in this case, by equinoids—and if we’re writing science fiction for Earth humans, that means first contact somewhere along the way. And that, considering how humans feel about horses, would be a very interesting proceeding.

Top image: a direhorse from Avatar (2009).

Judith Tarr is a lifelong horse person. She supports her habit by writing works of fantasy and science fiction as well as historical novels, many of which have been published as ebooks by Book View Cafe. Her most recent short novel, Dragons in the Earth, features a herd of magical horses, and her space opera, Forgotten Suns, features both terrestrial horses and an alien horselike species (and space whales!). She lives near Tucson, Arizona with a herd of Lipizzans, a clowder of cats, and a blue-eyed spirit dog.

Posted by Chris Lough

One of the many ways the The Dark One attempts to unmake the world in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series is by influencing the weather. When the series begins an unnaturally long chill has pressed itself over the land, and it is broken only by the emergence of the series’ savior, The Dragon Reborn. Later on in the series, the world (or at least the part of the world that we see) is beset by an endless summer. Heat pervades, drought persists, and there is no doubt that The Dark One is doing so in an attempt to smother the denizens of the world into submission. The threat is considered so great that the advancing plot of the entire series is eventually called to a halt so that this “endless summer” can be thwarted.

Last year, New York City, and really the entire northeastern United States, experienced the hottest summer in recorded history. This endless steamroom of a season was probably what Rand, Mat, Egwene, and company had to suffer through in The Wheel of Time. As we gear up for another potential four month-long heatwave, I got to wondering: how long did the world of Jordan’s Wheel of Time have to hold out?

The beginning of The Wheel of Time’s heatwave has no exact start date, but we know that Book 3, The Dragon Reborn, starts in late winter. From the Prologue chapter “Fortress of the Light”:

Twin fires on the long hearth at either end of the room held off the late winter cold.

The Dragon Reborn largely concerns itself with Rand scampering off to Tear as Moiraine, Perrin, Mat, and company follow behind. Rand starts his journey near the beginning of a calendar year, but how long does it take for him to get to Tear?

Steven Cooper’s Chronology of The Wheel of Time provides an exact answer, tracking the character’s movements by the phases of the moon and (at this point in the series) the length of time it would take the characters to travel by foot/horse/boat. Cooper’s chronology then appends that data to our 12-month calendar since the events of The Wheel of Time actually take place on an Earth in the far future/distant past.

Cooper’s chronology notes the events of The Dragon Reborn as starting in January or February, and concluding on May 20th. If The Dark One has implemented its “endless summer” stratagem then its effects are not yet apparent on account of it still being late winter and spring during the events of Book 3.

Book 4, The Shadow Rising, obfuscates the issue by setting two of its three plotlines in A.) The equivalent of the Gulf of Mexico and B.) A vast desert. The only setting where it is possible to find evidence for the onset of the “endless summer” is in Perrin’s plotline, which takes the character back to the temperate woodland climate of Emond’s Field on June 9th. Not long after the arrival of the characters, the narrative gives an indication of the summer’s heat. From Chapter 30, “Beyond the Oak”:

[Mistress Al’Vere to Loial] “I do wish there was something we could do about your height, Master Loial. I know it is hot, but would you mind wearing your cloak, with the hood up?”

The events in The Shadow Rising extend to mid-summer, where Book 5, The Fires of Heaven, begins. Chapter 1, “Fanning the Sparks” gives the reader the first direct evidence that The Dark One is causing an unnatural lengthening of the summer heat, accompanied by drought:

South and west it blew, dry, beneath a sun of molten gold. There had been no rain for long weeks in the land below, and the late-summer heat grew day by day. Brown leaves come early dotted some trees, and naked stones baked where small streams had run.

While summer naturally begins in The Shadow Rising, it is The Fires of Heaven that makes it clear that summer is being unnaturally extended. (How The Dark One is pumping that much energy into the atmosphere is unclear, and a bit beyond the scope of this article. Maybe The Dark One is cheating and just diverting global jetstreams around the Westlands continent, naturally creating a massive dome of stagnant high pressure air?) Cooper’s Chronology can now be used to find how long the summer lasts. Nynaeve, Elayne, and Aviendha use the Bowl of Winds in Book 8, The Path of Daggers, to fix the weather. The first indication that they have succeeded is in Chapter 20, “Into Andor”, when a light rain begins to fall. Cooper pegs Chapter 20 as occurring on January 20th.

June 20th (sometimes the 21st) is the summer solstice, marking the beginning of summer on Earth’s northern hemisphere. Therefore, the “endless summer” in The Wheel of Time lasts almost exactly seven months. That is a long, dangerous stretch of what are most likely 100 F/37 C+ days, especially when coupled with an absence of rain.

But in a roundabout way, did this “extra” summer actually help the forces of Light?

Heatwaves are dangerous. Over time they disrupt the body’s ability to thermoregulate, making a person heat-sick and eventually causing permanent organ damage. (At a certain threshold the body is storing more heat than it is emitting, so a person’s internal temperature rises and the organs start cooking slowwwly.) Heatwaves also shove out cloud cover, and the constant direct sunlight hastens drought conditions. This dry vegetation is essentially tinder for naturally occurring wildfires, which can wipe out large swaths of forest and usable farmland. (This land recovers but is unusable for habitation until it does.) Heat also disrupts the pollination and growth process of plants, leading to lesser, or even negated, crop yields. An unending heatwave can eliminate water, food, and the animal and manpower required to harvest it.

But a heatwave needs time to affect crop yields to such an extent, even when coupled with a supernaturally maintained drought. (In the 1930s it took three unceasing years of drought–and bad plowing practices–to turn the farmlands in the U.S. plains into dust. The extended drought experienced by California this decade took a similar length of time to reach a point where the effects became widespread.) While a summer that is a little hotter and a little drier than usual will affect crop yields, it is safe to assume that food production in The Wheel of Time could function as normal through the seven months that comprise The Dark One’s “endless summer”.

That the heatwave lasts only seven months is key. Even though conditions worsen as the heatwave sticks around into the fall and deep winter, farmlands and food crops in the Westlands could remain viable until the following summer, when lack of water would be severe enough to trigger widespread crop loss, with famines following. However, since the “endless summer” sticks around for only 4 months after the onset of autumn, does this mean that the Dark One’s machinations actually ended up giving farmers an extra growing season?

When considering what could be grown in a temperate climate that was given an extra (though dry) summer, there are three groupings of food crops that should be taken into account.

  • Biennials, which need two years, and a “cold period” in the middle, to grow to maturity. In essence, they begin growth in one summer, continue through an altered cycle of growth over the winter, then finish growing the next summer.
  • Annuals, which take one year to grow. They begin growing in the spring and reach maturity in the late summer or fall of the same year. (There are also “winter annuals”, which start growing in the fall and finish in the spring.)
  • Perennials, which grow on a constant rapid cycle, regardless of the time of year, if the climate is favorable.

An endless summer would seriously hinder biennial crops like spinach, certain onions, carrots, some lettuces, and assorted herbs, since a portion of their growth cycle is being directly disrupted by the loss of a cold season.

Wait, spinach, onions, carrots, lettuces…

THE DARK ONE HATES SALAD.

While biennials would struggle, annuals, since their growing season is three to four months, would suddenly have an entire extra summer in which to be planted and harvested. These crops include much of the mass-produced food that forms the basis of our diet, like wheat, corn, rice, and soy. Perennials don’t quite receive an entire extra growing season, but they would most likely be a go-to choice for farmers taking advantage of the warm weather thanks to the necessity of “crop rotation”.

As plants grow they extract nutrients–specific minerals and elements like nitrogen–from the soil in which they are planted. That soil typically needs a growing season to refresh the store of those nutrients. Crop rotation also controls fungi and other pests that feed on particular crops. For example, if a farmer rotates their potato crop to a new field in the next season, then any potato bugs lingering in the first field lose their food source and die out, making the field fit for replanting of that crop.

Crop rotation can be as simple or as complex as the farmer needs it to be. Better Hens has a handy overall chart explaining one possible order in which to plant and rotate crops:

Better Hens crop rotation

And here’s a crop rotation schedule from Ukraine Farming that specifies rotation of grains over land-type:

Crop rotation grains

Essentially, the extra growing season provided by the “endless summer” would result in more grains and fruits for the Westlands continent. And while the fruits wouldn’t keep past the following spring, the grains would be able to last 1 to 2 years, which easily encompasses the time between the events of The Path of Daggers and the end of the series.

While the weather and the soil remain amenable to an extra growing season during this period of endless summer, it’s an open question as to how many farmers would be willing or able to take advantage of it. A farmer is not going to break from their annual rhythm and replant just because of a warm September. But what about a warm October? A warm November? Winters are a struggle for farms, both in terms of finances and food, and while farming is a cautious and practiced profession, it’s quite possible that crop farmers would at least take advantage of the warmer weather to plant perennials. Those with larger estates would most likely consider reseeding for wheat, as well, instead of leaving perfectly temperate fields inactive.

Farmers and estate owners who do decide to replant during this extra growing season could face issues with labor shortages and possessorship of land. During the events of The Fires of Heaven, certain lands would be too war-torn to be able to plant new crops. The Shaido tear through large swaths of Cairhien during this point in the series, the Two Rivers has just been through hell, and Andor’s leadership is in absentia. These three territories hold vast tracts of farmland, and it can be surmised that a significant portion of it is abandoned or damaged, since the Dragon Reborn orders grain to be shipped north from Tear after stabilizing Andor and Cairhien.

These conflicts are settled by the end of The Fires of Heaven, but is that in time for the survivors to return to their farms and begin a new crop? Would the destruction of their lands actually motivate the farmers to plant anew so they can get back on their feet? Or would there simply not be enough manpower to plant again?

There isn’t enough detail to determine a reliable answer to that question, but the advantage of an additional growing season remains for the forces of the Light (and really, thanks to the forces of the Light. If Aviendha, Elayne, and Nynaeve hadn’t ended the summer when they did, farmlands would have quickly started to become unviable.) Even if only 15% of farmers in the Westlands are able to take advantage of that extra growing season, that is still a massive amount of extra food. Considering that crops begin to fail in the following summer (around Books 10 and 11), and that Rand himself spoils food up to the end of Book 12, The Gathering Storm, it is possible that this additional 15% is the only thing that prevents the people of the Westlands continent from being starved out by the time that The Last Battle arrives.

Which means that the only reason the forces of the Westlands number large enough to win Tarmon Gai’don is because of The Dark One’s own intervention.

With every turn of the Wheel, the Shadow’s hatred of salad leads to its own undoing.

This article was originally published in September 2016.

Posted by Fran Wilde

Once upon a time (cough, August 6, 2013, actually), Tor.com published “I Hate Boats,” by Carl Engle-Laird. Carl’s gone on to brilliant things, but I still want to argue with him about the post, and especially this sentence in particular: “Whenever my beloved protagonists get on a boat, I groan, put the book on the table, and pace around the room muttering angrily to myself, alarming friends and loved ones.”

Carl, now that you’re a big-deal editor at Tor.com, I’m finally ready to tell you that I feel exactly the opposite way. I love boats, and when I see one in a book, I feel a lot of hope. I grew up sailing on the Chesapeake Bay, reading nautical histories, and what I want in my fiction is a boat that feels real and suits the plot. When a book takes me over water, I’m eagerly looking for the most seaworthy craft.

Such boats do exist! I am pretty sure we agree on this, because when you said, “The sad thing is that I think stories about boats and sailors can be incredibly compelling. A vessel on the open sea is a full, totally enclosed world unto itself…,” I nodded enthusiastically. But you left your readers a warning, “Don’t just treat your sea voyage as an opportunity to have things happen to your helpless protagonists, who don’t know any more about how to sail than you do. If you do, the only result will be wasted pages,” and I wanted you to know that they’re out there, those exciting boats you seek!

To prove it, I made a list of my favorites. This list is a relatively short one for me, in part because I don’t fall in love with many literary boats, magical or otherwise, for the same reasons you cite. I am, however, a collector of favorite hulls—even those that get only a chapter or a small mention in a much larger story, when they are written well and become their own enclosed world for a moment.

To gain a berth on the list, a boat must first and foremost feel like a boat. It must not be any other conveyance or structure in disguise. Boats behave differently than, say, Inns or Carriages, for instance. The very physics of a boat is different from everything else. The boat must travel over water (with apologies to the lovely spacefaring Diana, the ship in Arabella of Mars by David Levine, and many others). And it must be a sailing ship. That’s personal preference. (I have nothing against motorboats. I just don’t like them.)

So here are nine hulls that number very high among my favorites. Carl, perhaps we can revisit the boat-hate sometime? And for the rest of you, what are your favorites?

 

Lookfar (aka Sanderling)

earthseaLookfar was my first boat made of paper and words, and my best-beloved, because of the exchange that happens when Lookfar is re-named: “… do you call her Lookfar, and paint eyes aside her prow, and my thanks will look out of that blind wood for you and keep you from rock and reef. For I had forgotten how much light there is in the world, till you gave it back to me.” The brown/red sailed clinker isn’t as fancy as Sea Otter, Dolphin, or Shadow (an archipelago trilogy requires many boats), but it gets the mage Ged where he needs to go in Le Guin’s Earthsea Trilogy.

 

Nightjar

Daughter-NoNationThere are many ships in Stormwrack, but this one is mine. “Nightjar was a seventy-two-foot cutter with a crew of twenty-five. It had been enchanted so that it was ever-so-slightly inconspicuous, easily overlooked by casual observers.” Created by A.M. Dellamonica, Nightjar is among the first of a fleet of enchanted ships in a portal universe, beginning in A Daughter of No Nation.

 

Vivacia

LiveshipAmong of the liveships created by Robin Hobb (The Liveship Traders series, 1998-2012), the Vivacia captured my imagination first. Crafted from wizardwood and sentient, Vivacia is a standout craft with Opinions. (For the record, The Paragon also commands my readerly attention.) Hobb’s liveships are compelling characters as well as ships.

 

The Giggling Goat

drowning-eyes-coverEmily Foster’s weather-mage beset ship and its stalwart captain in the novella The Drowning Eyes [Editor’s note: acquired by one Carl Engle-Laid for Tor.com Publishing…] handle wind shifts and storm tides equally well. The Goat’s deck and gunwales are a fantastic setting within which its characters interact, but it’s also an excellent vehicle for the plot. (I also love the map in this book, too, but that’s for another post).

 

HMS Surprise and HMS Hotspur

HMSSurprisePatrick O’Brian’s own creation, titular novel and frigate both. Yes, I know this is nautical fiction, not fantasy. It is still the shiniest boat, and a beautifully rendered world unto itself. HMS Hotspur is also a gorgeous sloop, crafted by C.S. Forester. (Look, Carl, it is not every day that a sloop gets a fancy position in a movie and I am a sucker for sloops and this has NOTHING to do with Ioan Gruffudd being really impressive as Horatio Hornblower. Not a thing.)

 

Clalsu

FifthSeason“Its sails are tawny canvas, also much-mended and sun-faded and water marked.” Though readers spend only a very short time aboard the Clalsu, after just a moment we realize we’re sailing with people—especially Captain Meov—who really know what they’re doing. Best of all, this boat reacts to the behavior of those aboard in a way that is much different from land because the author rocked it. Thank you, N.K. Jemisin, thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing good boat physics in The Fifth Season.

 

The Poison Orchid

RedSeasCaptained by Zamira Drakasha and drafted by Scott Lynch in Red Seas Under Red Skies, the Orchid is my favorite pirate ship in part because it’s got all its working bits and is an actual working ship (a brig, actually…) You can practically hear it creak as it comes about. (To be fair, Carl did include The Poison Orchid as a good example of boat writing in his “I Hate Boats” post, too.)

 

The Left-Handed Fate

LeftHandedFateA privateer ship that has its home port in the magical Nagspeake, the Fate carries Lucy Bluecrowne and her friends Max and Liao through the troubled waters of the War of 1812. While sailing up and down the Chesapeake, the Fate calls at my own former home port of Fells Point, Maryland, further endearing it to me. Author Kate Milford has created a wonderful set of ships and ports for this middle grade book, The Left-Handed Fate.

 

This article was originally published August 2016.

Fran Wilde taught sailing on the Chesapeake Bay and can still tie a one-handed bowline. She is the author of the Andre Norton-, and Compton Crook Award-winning and Nebula-nominated novel Updraft (Tor 2015), its sequel, Cloudbound, publishing from Tor in September 2016, and the novella The Jewel and Her Lapidary (Tor.com Publishing). Her short stories appear in Asimov’s, Tor.com, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Nature. She writes for publications including The Washington Post, Tor.com, Clarkesworld, iO9.com, and GeekMom.com. You can find her on twitter @fran_wilde, Facebook @franwildewrites and at franwilde.net.

morbane: Utena Shadow Girls Santa picture with text "absolute destiny apocalypse yuletide" (Utena)
([personal profile] morbane posting in [community profile] yuletide May. 29th, 2017 10:36 pm)
Sorry for the delay - I got behind again due to Jukebox.

However, in the last 20 days, 2 more works have been added to the New Year's Resolution collection. Check them out!

Works in Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha | Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha and The Martian (2015) )


Challenge information )

Posted by Ana

Hello and a Happy Monday to all!

Today we are hosting the cover and exclusive excerpt from The Eterna Solution, the conclusion to Leanna Renee Hieber’s Eterna Files series, set in her Victorian gaslamp fantasy world.

The Cover:

eterna-solution

The Except:

Chapter One

Clara woke to whispers and dread. The shadows of her small cabin on a cross-Atlantic steamer bound for New York were too close and the cramped space seemed even more claustrophobic than when she’d fallen into uneasy sleep.

The first days aboard the packet, a vessel chosen for top of the line speed, were filled with victorious, albeit harrowing, tales as the American Eterna and English Omega teams recounted their climactic, supernatural encounters outside Parliament and those who battled the Vieuxhelles estate and saw to its destruction.

The warmth of reconnecting, marveling at the strength of their colorful compatriots’ varied gifts and bravery in the face of madness was so powerful that Clara had not yet fully registered the concern for what they’d find upon their return.

A gifted Sensitive from an early age, Clara’s gifts had been sharpening at an exponential rate since her lover’s death. Waking to unease, her first instinct was to call, to bid him come to her in luminous, spectral visitation and talk with her about the state of the spirit world and what she might expect, but she stopped herself.

When Louis Dupris died and in doing so discovered that he had made the protective Ward of localized magic that was the Eterna commission’s great legacy, the knowledge he brought from the beyond helped Clara mend the torn, bleeding tissues of grief, giving her something to fight for and with instead, making his sacrifice meaningful. But their souls had said their goodbyes. Their story was at an end and she was, now, finally at peace with his spirit moving on to help guard his native New Orleans. For all that she might feel lonely, she was not alone.

Not because her dear soul-sister Rose lay sleeping in the bunk below, a woman recently awakened to the paranormal but less attune to it. Not because her former guardian, Senator Bishop, a man she loved all her life but had shuttered the sentiments deep below decks, was across the corridor, perhaps lying awake and thinking of her…

No, some other thing was awake and aware of her. The shadows across the room were not only too close, but unnaturally dark.

Not one to be afraid of a resident spirit or haunt, she felt the hairs rise on her neck and arms, the familiar, unsettled twist in her stomach. Her body did not yet call for her to be on a countdown to collapse but she had to be wary, as the epileptic seizures that accosted her whenever the spectral world crossed a line from a pleasant encounter to an onslaught of something altogether malevolent was often a quick and dizzying shift.

There was no remaining still any longer, so she clambered down from the upper bunk as soundlessly as she could so that Rose would not be awakened by whatever next occurred. Water was a charging and shielding element for Clara and she felt safer in the open than in close quarters when something was sniffing her out, so she resolved to seek solace and safety on deck.

Throwing the skirt of her burgundy riding habit over her head and buttoning the matching jacket somewhat messily, she palmed her cabin key and quietly slipped out the wooden door, locking it behind her.

The smell and tang of the salt spray on her tongue, the sea air’s moist kiss against the open collar of her bodice, were an immediate tonic. The lace panel lined with glass buttons that was meant to cover her neck flapped in the breeze, the buttons thrumming against the hollow of her throat in a rhythm that matched the cracking of the Union Jack flying above her head as she stepped further out onto the aft deck. Nothing made Clara feel so alive as the sea.

Closing her eyes, she communed with at least three past lives lived most vibrantly upon the water. In doing so, she felt exhilarated and replenished. Gathering herself, renewing her psychic and spiritual shields, she breathed in the vitality of the ocean and snapped energy out from her body like a whip, breaking off the tendrils of any negative spirit or demonic murmur that had managed to cling to her after the battle in London.

She spun slowly, surveying the ship and the waves around it, lifting a hand to sweep aside stray, dark blond strands of hair that wanted to experience the same freedom as her skin. In their number were a few fresh grey strands, her connection to the spirit world hastening the silvery growth. At twenty-nine, the greying was premature, but her former guardian and the true love of her life, Senator Bishop, had gone silver in his twenties and had always blamed it on the ghosts. She would too. She looked around for them, or for the worse company; demons.

The shadows retained their normal angles, depth of light and expected shapes; nothing was lurking. Not anymore. But something was not right. The salty air, one of Clara’s favorite tastes, held a slight tinge of copper. Sulfur even.

The foul air was one thing, the sounds were another. There was a howling off the water, something not human, but not altogether industrial, something that Clara had never heard before. She could not imagine what creation, entity, or machine could make such a noise.

Clara’s mentor, the clairvoyant and ever-elegant Evelyn Northe-Stewart, exited the cabin corridor onto the aft deck, her gaze immediately pinning Clara, to whom she nodded in acknowledgement. The medium wore a thick saffron dress robe and cloak over her nightclothes.

Not far behind her, Omega department’s Miss Knight, London’s lavishly theatrical psychic asset approached, her raven hair in a long braid. She wore an elaborate crimson kimono. The layers which were not bound to her person whipped behind her like a scarlet flag in the wind.

The moon shone blindingly down on them and bathed them all in silver, an incredible, almost theatrical effect.

Clara could not help but recall lines from Macbeth’s witches, chanting in otherworldly meter in her mind’s ear.
The three Sensitives looked at one another with a mixture of confusion and fear. Clara pressed her hand to her bosom, where the protective Ward created from her late lover’s research still lay—she’d created a sort of poultice of the contents and had been loathe to remove it from her person—and felt a little surge of power for the press.
Perhaps it was just a trick of the mind but it did seem to offer a bit of shield against the difficult sounds.

Movement drew their attention and all three turned to see that Rose Everhart had joined them, rubbing her eyes and seeking out Clara first, as if she were an anchor. The two, born a sea apart, had found in one another the soul sister-ship of lost lives and the bond kept growing.

Clara responded by placing a firm hand on Rose’s trembling shoulder once she stood at her side, in a plain working-woman’s skirt and shirtwaist with buttons not quite aligned. If Rose was indeed first discovering otherworldly communication and instincts that Clara had fielded all her life, it would be a confusing time indeed for her. They needed to be mutual ports in supernatural storms.

“I don’t suppose any of you have any idea what woke us,” Rose asked, her voice shaking.

Evelyn indicated an area about a meter from the ship. “I assume it happened because we are not alone. Those dark shapes are not clouds.”

Clara’s blood chilled when she finally noticed the contrast. A sequence of ink-black forms lay off the port side like an artificial horizon line. It wasn’t the first time they’d seen such lightless things; Beauregard Moriel had a whole army of Summoned, vile presences that had slipped through a fissure he’d created between the natural and unnatural world. These shadows were no more welcome here than they had been marching up Embankment with the aim to tear down the stones of Parliament.

“The two walks,” Evelyn continued, her voice trembling. “Two paths between the living and the dead. The Society opens these corridors and hell slips through to float along the water.”

“They appear to be inactive. Summoned and awaiting orders?” Miss Knight queried, studying the predators.

“Waiting, or ready, either way we have to try to banish them,” Clara stated. “They are a danger to us, to everyone on this ship. What if our trajectory passes right through them?”

Evelyn began to softly murmur scripture used in exorcisms; simple renunciations of devils and evil.

Clara imagined that Evelyn’s words lessened the opaque density of this pitch-black armada, but she couldn’t be sure. The bright night sky seemed to be playing surreal tricks on her; Clara didn’t feel her regular faculties of sight could be trusted.

“Clara, you brought more of the protective Wards we created, yes?” Rose asked quietly. “I…”

“Yes. I’ve a doctor’s bag full of them in our cabin,” Clara replied. “I made sure Senator Bishop traveled with a case, and Andre and Effie with their own. Lord Black supplied his own cabin with them and made a small fort of them around our beleaguered Lord Denbury,” she chuckled mordantly. “I think your proud non-believer Mister Spire remains the only unarmed person among us.”

Rose looked at the silhouettes. “I feel we’ll need many, to keep them from noticing us. To give us room…” She shuddered. “By God, I feels like I did in front of Parliament, with all of the damnable silhouettes parading… It’s stifling.”

Clara placed her hand on Rose’s shoulder and she could feel her tension ease. They had that ability to balance one another, their souls always had.

“That’s likely what the wretched forms are there for,” Evelyn said grimly. “A certain show of strength from whatever of the Master’s Society is holding on after Moriel’s death. We should mount as many Wards as possible on this ship at once.”

A strange tearing sound to Clara’s right sent her whirling, nearly knocking into the woman who appeared suddenly from around the side of the tall stack as if propelled by an engine.

“What the bloody hell?” the woman exclaimed. The voice was familiar, as was her small stature and great presence.

“You…” Clara said to the woman known as the Visitor, who had appeared in heraldic capacities throughout her life like some combination of philosopher, guardian angel, and prophet of doom.

Known to some as Lizzie Marlowe, she was inexplicable. A woman of sharp angles, a petite redhead with a braid down her side, she was dressed as a proper Victorian explorer, in a thick white blouse, a split skirt, boots, and a seaman’s cap. A peculiar belt of instruments wrapped her waist. Clara peered at the devices—was that an astrolabe?

“Why am I here? What have you done, Templeton? This is 1882, yes?” Marlowe barked. She looked the women up and down studiously, her gaze softening only once she seemed to recognize them.

Clara raised her eyebrows. “What have I done?”

“I was minding my own business,” the visitor continued, “hardly honing in on you and your lot, and now I’ve been dragged here by my spiritual hair.”

“Well now,” Clara said incredulously, “isn’t that turning the tables?”

Marlowe thought a moment. “Yes, I suppose it is. You are powerful, Clara. Center of the storm indeed. A magnet, even, pulling the likes of me here? I’ll have to do more research on you!” She paused for breath and seemed to assess her surroundings for the first time. “Good God what is that racket?”

“I was hoping you could tell me,” Clara replied. “And for once explain how you come and go like a ghost.”

“I’m human, a mortal woman named Elizabeth Marlowe.”

“What do you want with me?” Clara asked.

“You know, you’re a bit demanding, my dear,” Marlowe admonished.

“I think I learned that from you,” Clara countered.

The visitor loosed a deep chortle. “I’m so proud. But you must have brought me here for a reason, so let’s discern it, shall we?” She gave Clara and her companions a curt smile and angled her head towards the sea, narrowing her eyes at the eerie glow of the horizon line. She slowly turned completely around.

“Hmm. No. That’s not right,” Marlowe muttered and began tapping along the brass-trimmed rail of the ship with a small wrench plucked from her leather belt.She listened to the way the metallic clinks changed in pitch as if she were striking a tuning fork and scowled. “Very, very wrong…”

The howl changed, as if incorporating the ting of the brass, as if it were two notes in a reverberating chorus and the visitor made a face of supreme distaste..

“Before we take on those dreadful forms out there, where exactly are we?” she asked.

“In the middle of the Atlantic ocean in the middle of the night during a full moon in Jupiter,” Miss Knight said, pursing her lips and striding toward Marlowe and Clara.

Offering Knight a prim, unamused smile, Marlowe stormed off toward the wheelhouse, calling over her shoulder, “I need details! Latitude and longitude, direction and route.”

The three ladies were left to stare at one another.

“She’s not a ghost, yet I cannot get a sense of her,” Knight muttered. “It’s maddening. She burst into our Omega offices once, then vanished without leaving a trace; I thought if I just had another chance, I could see what I’d missed. It seems that she is beyond my gifts,” she finished, unhappy at being bested by this mystery.

“I’m relieved someone else has finally seen her,” Clara confessed. “I used to think I’d gone mad whenever she came around. She’s been… an infuriating mirage my whole life, flitting in and out at the most critical and dire moments.

Not at all how I imagined a guardian angel, but then again, I’ve not led a normal life, I doubt I’d be assigned a normal angel…” She finished with a weary little laugh.

“She’s human,” Evelyn stated firmly. “But more. I’ve never seen anything like her. This is astral projection at is most sophisticated.”

“Ah,” Miss Knight murmured. “Astral projection. Yes. If that’s the case, well. Incredible.” Her tone now a bit jealous.

Rose was silent, staring, baffled, in the direction Marlowe had gone. A sharp and logical woman, Rose would find no solace in gifts that offered a range of vagaries.

Marlowe soon strode back toward them, brandishing a chart that flapped in the wind. Clara wondered if she’d snatched it right out of the captain or first mate’s protesting hands. Marlowe spread the wide paper atop a small table that sat between two deck chairs. As the others gathered around, Marlowe seated herself and began pointing.

“We’re here,” she said, placing an ungloved finger at the center of the ocean between North America and Europe. Dotted lines arced across the chart, denoting sea lanes and major currents.

“This is the Trans-Atlantic cable,” she said, indicating a relatively straight line across the Atlantic. She pointed at the line of black forms. “Those shadows are directly above it. On our current course, we shall pass right over the cable and therefore right under them.” She looked at the women. “But there is an alternative. There’s a sea lane to starboard, above a protective line that is not on this map.”

“Can we convince the captain to change course?” Evelyn asked.

“Leave that to me,” Marlowe stated. “But as I’ve not much time, I need you to understand something. The harmony of the earth is off. Someone is transmitting something unnatural along that cable. But that’s not the only thing you’re hearing.”

“Yes, there’s an echo,” Clara stated.

“It’s not the only line across the waters. There’s all these,” she danced her fingertips over the cartography.
“They denote currents and routes, intangible yet forces of nature, beholden to wind, water and tides. But life, since ancient times, pulses along the greatest of all Lines. And that is, I believe, how you summoned me, Clara Templeton. And if so, I am beholden to you, because I am of the great Lines,” Marlowe stated. Clara blinked at her. Did she mean lineage? She pressed on, “What’s important is these Lines above all else.”

“What lines?” Clara asked, finally exasperated.

“Ley Lines,” Evelyn finished.

Everyone stared.

“Oh, come now, don’t be surprised,” Marlowe scoffed. “You’re all clairvoyants, aren’t you? Aren’t Ley Lines a given in your world?”

Rose opened her mouth and as a small sound of protest issued forth, Marlowe batted her hand.

“The weight of all of you brought me here,” Marlowe continued, attempting a patient tone, “Clara being my most potent tether along such a key Ley line as the Trans-Atlantic. Here between the lines of natural Ley force and the man-made wires, something is trying to interfere.”

‘Maybe someday you can do what I do, Clara. If you were able to access your past lives differently, on a different trajectory… It grows a bit tedious, being the only one stretched this far across time. I could use a companion.”
Marlowe smiled. When she smiled it was alternately endearing and terrifying, as there was something nearly ancient about the expression. Marlowe was too human, too much of one all at once. She was overwhelming.

“Is that what this is about?” Clara asked softly. “Companionship?”

“Ah, no,” Marlowe said definitively. “I could never take you away from your most important timeline. You began to understand, by wielding localized magic, and deploying a soul compass, to understand the lines along which life runs.”

“Ley lines are the… latitude and longitude of magic?” Rose asked, grasping for purchase on the topic.

Marlowe grimaced at the world “magic”. “Do you have to call it that?”

“Life-force, energy lines so powerful they are nearly supernatural,” Clara offered.

“Yes. Can you feel those lines?” Marlowe asked.

Clara thought a moment. “No.”

Marlowe leaned in. “Try.”

“How? What do I look for?”

Marlowe clucked her tongue. “You’re clairvoyant, you don’t look. Not in the normal way.”

Clara reflexively thought to ask what sense she should sharpen but remained silent when she knew the answer would be her sixth; the maddening sixth, knowing without being able to prove how in common terms. But if there was one thing the Eterna commission had demanded of her, it was that she stop second-guessing that knowledge and begin treating it with proud certainty.

There was a long pause. All Clara could hear was the water, see was the endless horizon, smell and taste was a salt-wind, and feel was that moist wind on flushed cheeks and the sensation of a speeding vessel beneath her steady feet that had no trouble with the pitch and yaw of the boat.

As for her sixth sense, Clara wasn’t sure what indicators to consider. She could feel Elizabeth staring at her, through her, perhaps seeing more of her than even she could. It was terribly disconcerting, everything about the visitor always was; she made no sense to any of her senses, especially not her sixth.

Very often her sixth sense was a hybrid of other senses, a slight tweak to her hearing or a flicker to her vision.

The visitor suddenly smacked her in the abdomen. Clara yelped. Had she been wearing her corset it would have been like hitting a cage considering the steel bones, instead, being in only soft layers and with her body on high alert it had a higher impact.

“Your gut will tell you where the Lines are,” Marlowe stated, “Don’t think, just feel the flow of energy and tell me which direction it is from where you stand right now.”

Clara stared at this unprecedented, unpredictable woman and faced the prow. The hairs on her head rose a bit and there was a visceral stirring sensation within her. She felt her left hand lifting, pointing forward as they headed west, every movement coming from that visceral place. Her body flooded with a warm, luminous power. She smiled, unable to help herself. She could, in fact, feel this line.

There was an audible component too. Something soft lifted from this peaceful thrall, a thrumming, vibrant hum that was not the steam engines, not the water, a faint violin string in vibrato across the waves.

“That’s the Ley Line,” Marlowe murmured, pleased, “Towards where you’re pointing, ahead, behind, we’re basically on top of it in this sea lane. But the direction you turned? That thing that made you perk your ears up port side and come out here to see what was wrong? The rest is-”

“The Trans-Atlantic cable ringing with a sour note, comparatively,” Clara finished.

“Dissonance. Yes.” The visitor sighed. “The cable was put in unfortunately close to our Line. Doubt the planners had any sense of it, but who can blame their instinct? Something drew them, literally along this line. Humans gravitate to these old lines constantly, but sometimes I feel like what happens upon them are at cross purposes.”

Evelyn, Miss Knight and Rose had all been listening at a polite few paces off, but Evelyn took a step forward, Marlowe’s nearest rival in terms of sheer force of presence.

“The force of the world doesn’t like to run on man-made wires but goodness if mankind doesn’t like to run along the force of the world,” Evelyn offered.

“If that’s not the truth, I don’t know what is” Marlowe murmured and looked up at the stars. If Clara wasn’t mistaken, the one towards which the visitor stared winked out. At this, the strange woman frowned, as if personally wounded. She turned fierce eyes upon Clara.

“So. Remember this lesson, Templeton. Never forget it. These lines are life or death. For you, and for me…”
It was Miss Knight’s turn to step forward, her long crimson robes billowing dramatically in a gust of wind. “Do you know, then, what will happen next?”

“No, not exactly,” Marlowe replied. “Beyond the fact that the amassed, negative energies are a distinct threat no matter where they appear. I mean, I could try to see your future if I concentrated very hard, but there are too many variables to say for certainty and my consciousness can only hone in here on you for so long before I become a danger.”

“Are you, then,” Clara asked, “in more places than one?”

At this, Marlowe smiled. “Aren’t you?”

Clara thought of her lives, lives she could see at any point if she concentrated hard enough, lives that each chewed upon an important crux. She had a sense the Lines were her crux, the one that this life hinged upon. There was a truth to the visitor’s idea of a broader consciousness. At that moment came a gust of wind so strong and sudden that Clara had to close her eyes against the salt spray. When she opened them again, the visitor was gone.
While she’d been focused on Marlowe, Rose had gone to their cabin to retrieve the doctor’s bag filled with protective Wards.

At Rose’s side walked Senator Bishop, an additional bundle of Wards in his hands. Tall, striking and distinguished, dressed in a black satin robe, his silver hair now positively glowed in the moonlight, giving his distinguished face a preternatural halo.

The moment he caught sight of Clara, his eyes sought out hers and spoke volumes of his care. She moved to meet him nearer the door he’d entered from, the magnetism that had grown between them was dizzying and she put her hand on the rail.

“Warding the ship,” he stated with a smile. “Leave it to a group of brilliant women to be working through the night for the benefit of all.”

He turned to nod out at the water and the still-floating shadows. “They woke me too, a thrumming racket in my ears and a dread press on my heart. I have to imagine anyone with even rudimentary Sensitivities either won’t be able to sleep or will have a miserable set of nightmares to show for it,” he said grimly.

He shook off the pall and turned to Clara, beaming. “What may I do to help, my dear? I am ever at your service.”

His deference and respect, his radiant smile, as if her rising to leadership was the source of his greatest pride, moved and inspired her. Her fingers ached to touch him but she had to recall herself to the moment and task at hand.

“Thank you, Rupert,” she murmured. She turned to the rest of her company and spoke with calm authority. “We should Ward each flank of the ship, and at different levels, but in inconspicuous places. It will be done quickly if we divide up the vials.”

“All the more quickly for extra hands,” came another voice from the deck door directly behind them.

Harold Spire, the leader of London’s Omega division, ‘a policeman turned circus manager’ as he termed himself bitterly, strode towards their number, dressed in shirtsleeves that accented broad shoulders and an open waistcoat that mirrored the company’s haphazard dress.

Brown hair mussed, the default scowl of the dour man was affixed until he saw Rose step out from behind Clara and his expression softened.

“Have you worked around us Sensitives long enough that the presence of the paranormal affects you as it does us? Drawing you to the front lines?” Clara asked with a hopeful smile.

“No, that honor goes to Lord Denbury,” Spire replied with a sigh. “Poor boy had one bloody hell of a nightmare, woke moaning about his mother, his razed home, the demons… He wasn’t quite to a screaming fit but I heard enough on the other side of the cabin wall. Lord Black thankfully was able to quiet him, he’s like a mother hen, that one.”

“Cluck, cluck,” Black said with a small laugh, his turn to speak from the doorway, his own box of Wards in hand.

“He’ll be all right. He just needs time to heal, grieve, and to frankly be away from all this. Warding will help, I’m sure.”

An immaculate, handsome, fashionable man who usually dressed in light colors, patterns and pastels, a stark contrast to the darker and bolder shades of most of the rest of the teams, Lord Black was presently arrayed in an emerald silk smoking jacket with a loose cream ascot, looking far more put together than the rest of them.

Wards were distributed among the group.

“We’ll affix them inconspicuously how?” Spire asked. Rose lifted up a small box of twine, cloth and scissors.

“Miss Everhart again wins the day with usefulness,” he stated. She beamed and Clara could feel the little ripple of light and warmth that resulted. Energies and moods were atmospheric conditions and despite Spire’s thick clouds of skepticism, his deepening bond with his second-in command made for clearer skies.

The small glass tubes were mostly filled with London’s protective recipe and a precious few still held New York’s ingredients; Clara hoped they would work here, in the middle of the ocean, for both shores.

Without a word between them, Miss Knight and Evelyn began lashing Wards to various out of the way places along the prow, Lord Black, Rose and Spire went aft and port.

Clara instinctively went starboard, towards the Ley line side, and Bishop followed. They were silent, knowing that prayerful contemplation was the best way to attend to their work and to charge the Wards with their own personal fire. She felt the Wards vibrate in her hand as if invigorated as she neared the ship’s rail.

Once she’d tucked two of the glass tubes into a notch in the wood, striking a match to light their contents, satisfied by the ethereal light that burned in the glass, she reached out to feel the Ley line again. It was like it was singing within her.

As she felt it, she turned port side. In the distance, one of the wavering, inky humanoid shapes hovering above the Trans-Atlantic cable faded into the bluer night sky. Clara smiled. Magnifying the Lines within her, an amplifying resonance, there was an effect. The full line of shadows were gone and she heaved a sigh of relief.

The rest of the team had vanished, leaving her alone with Senator in what likely was a message of encouragement.

No one could doubt what an indomitable partnership Clara and he had become. “Do you believe in Ley Lines?” Clara asked finally.

“Yes. I could feel what you did. You seemed to be tapping directly into them, a refreshing jolt all around you.”

“Better than a cup of coffee,” Clara chuckled before she looked out again at where the inky silhouettes had floated. “We have to fight to keep the Ley lines clean, wherever they run, and try to keep industrial lines clear. Wards can cleanse any Ley lines that industry sullies and they can in turn bolster the Wards. A symbiotic protection.”

Bishop placed his hand on her shoulder. “So we shall. Fight the deadly shadows with the potency of our life. I’m so proud of you and your widening power.”

“Thank you for being so very good to me,” she said, turning to him, intuiting that his touch invited closer contact.

“You have kept me good all my life,” he said earnestly, keeping the hand on her shoulder but sliding his other around her waist, as if he were about to dance with her.

“My powers of mesmerism could have taken me down a very dark path,” he continued. “The ‘two walks’ as Evelyn always called them. Life and death, war and peace, illumination or obscurity, generosity or greed. Because of you, the great responsibility that was providing for inimitable you, there was no choice but to walk the upright walk. Being good to you has always meant what is good for me.”

“And… now?” she asked, tilting her head to him. Just what kind of power could she wield indeed? His fingertips inched down her back and further around her side, beginning to envelop her in a covetous embrace.

“I want to be very good to you indeed,” he murmured.

She let herself fall against him with a soft sigh as his arms fully enclosed her, having longed for a kiss since the last night at Lord Black’s estate. There, something definitively changed between them; an agreement that she would carefully open herself to feelings buried deep in her heart. In that compression it had become far more precious, a diamond waiting to be mined.

A laugh sounded around the side of one of the great steam stacks. At the sound, Bishop turned his face, taking a step back and letting his arms fall away, breaking what had been the promise of a kiss, ever the gentleman of public propriety, offering Clara an apologetic look.

She turned to the noise to see Louis’ twin, Andre Dupris and Eterna’s best spy Ephigenia Bixby deeply engrossed in conversation, dressed as though they’d not yet gone to sleep, Andre in the navy evening suitcoat he’d worn to dinner and Effie in a white linen dress with ribbon trim, her tight brown spiral curls tucked up under a felt and feather hat.

The two had partnered together in England, sliding between classes and cultures, saving as many lives of the struggling together as they could, striving to keep them from the Masters Society’s vile clutches. The moment they made out the figures at the side of the ship as their compatriots, Effie gasped.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” she said, looking from Bishop to Clara, “I hope we didn’t… interrupt anything.”

“Indeed,” Andre intoned with a slight, knowing smile that made Clara blush.

“Ever since the nights trying to convince the dock workers not to work for Apex, trying to warn as many of London’s underclasses of the dangers as possible, we’ve not been able to keep regular hours and find ourselves pacing the night,” Effie confessed.

“I was awoken by the sense of Summoned forces and we’ve just been Warding the ship,” Clara offered.

“Ah!” Andre exclaimed. “I’m no Sensitive but I was there when those shadows snuffed out Eterna’s researchers and not a day goes by that I don’t yearn for the Summoned to be banished from the face of the earth forever. I’m sure they’re the reasons I couldn’t sleep tonight.”

“But perhaps we should all try again,” Bishop stated. “I think our Warding has made the night sing more sweetly.” He bowed his head. “Until morning, friends, for soon we are home,” he said, and walked off with a lingering look at Clara before disappearing beyond the door to the cabin halls.

“Goodnight,” Clara said, casting one more glance over her shoulder at the water before striding ahead to the deck door, hoping to catch Bishop in the hall beyond. But he was gone into his room, and she didn’t dare pursue him there. Not yet.

Lying in her bunk, Clara drifted to sleep with an unresolved question on her mind, wondering if her new skills of Ley line sensitivity would increase the likelihood of epileptic attacks. If fully attune to the great dynamos of the earth’s life force, would she be paralyzed in the face of danger? With every gift there came physical consequences and she prayed she wouldn’t suffer unduly in the process.

Copyright © 2017 by Leanna Renee Hieber

About the Novel:

Leanna Renee Hieber brings Victorian London and New York to life and fills both cities with ghosts and monsters. Two groups of paranormally talented investigators discover that the Eterna compound—thought to be the key to immortality—is, instead, a powerful protective charm. That protection is sorely needed, for both England and the U.S. are under attack by dark forces.

Having vanquished the demonic pretender to the British throne, the now-united forces of the Eterna Commission and the Omega Department reach America ready to take on a new menace. But like the United States itself, this evil is rapidly spreading from sea to shining sea. Will the new magic our heroes have discovered be strong enough to defeat it?

With its blend of Victorian details, complex plots, and compelling characters, Hieber’s fascinating historical fantasy continues to earn critical acclaim and has a dedicated readership.

On-sale Nov. 14, 2017 from Tor.

About the Author

Actress, playwright and author Leanna Renee Hieber is the award-winning, bestselling author of Gothic Victorian Fantasy novels for adults and teens. Her Strangely Beautiful saga, beginning with The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, hit Barnes & Noble and Borders Bestseller lists and garnered numerous regional genre awards, with new revised editions from Tor Books now available. Darker Still was named an American Bookseller’s Association “Indie Next List” pick and a Scholastic Book Club “Highly Recommended” title. Her new Gaslamp Fantasy saga, The Eterna Files and Eterna and Omega, is now available from Tor Books. Her short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies such as Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells, Willful Impropriety, The Mammoth Book of Gaslamp Romance, featured on Tor.com and she writes for Criminal Element. A 4 time Prism Award winner for excellence in the genre of Fantasy Romance, Leanna’s books have been selected for national book club editions and translated into languages such as Complex Chinese, German and Polish. A proud member of performer unions Actors Equity and SAG-AFTRA, she lives in New York City where she is a licensed ghost tour guide and has been featured in film and television on shows like Boardwalk Empire. She is represented by Paul Stevens of the Donald Maass agency and is active on Twitter @leannarenee.

The post The Eterna Solution: Cover & Excerpt appeared first on The Book Smugglers.

The Guardian: Manchester trauma surgeon racially abused on his way to work

Specifically: Yorkshire-born Naveed Yasin -- who had spent the previous two days doing extremely demanding surgery on victims of the Manchester attack, and was heading back into work to do more of the same -- was called a "terrorist" and told to "go back to [his] own country" (with assorted other racial slurs and obscenities, naturally).
rydra_wong: The display board of a train reads "this train is fucked". (this train is fucked)
»

Btw

([personal profile] rydra_wong May. 29th, 2017 08:28 am)
I am generally ignoring UK politics in favour of US politics because the latter is a fuck of a lot more entertaining right now.

However, this is happening:

The Independent: Conservatives slash election projections as Corbyn surge in polls continues
The Guardian: Tory nerves fray as Jeremy Corbyn narrows Theresa May’s lead in new poll

To be more accurate, I think it's not that Corbyn himself is doing anything spectacularly impressive but that May is fucking up spectacularly. And the Tories still have a solid lead.

(And obviously by this point, we know that polling seems to be broken even if nobody knows why.)

However, just avoiding a Tory landslide would mean a lot. And for the Tories to end up with a reduced majority (and May seen as a liability) would be magical and also hilarious.

(LET ME DREAM. I CAN STILL DREAM DAMMIT.)
case: (Default)
([personal profile] case posting in [community profile] fandomsecrets May. 28th, 2017 03:35 pm)

⌈ Secret Post #3798 ⌋

Warning: Some secrets are NOT worksafe and may contain SPOILERS.

01.


More! )


Notes:

Secrets Left to Post: 02 pages, 38 secrets from Secret Submission Post #544.
Secrets Not Posted: [ 0 - broken links ], [ 0 - not!secrets ], [ 0 - not!fandom ], [ 0 - too big ], [ 0 - repeat ].
Current Secret Submissions Post: here.
Suggestions, comments, and concerns should go here.

Posted by John Scalzi

Yup, she did it, and here is the photographic proofa photo set with her (and Hunter, her boyfriend) before, during and after the graduation ceremony. Enjoy it as if you were there your very own self!

(And for those wondering, it was a fine ceremony, and very quick, since Athena had a graduating class of 32. Small rural schools, man. But it was enough time to get all misty-eyed.)


otw_staff: Sarah Loch OTW Communications Staffer (Sarah Loch OTW Communications Staffer)
([personal profile] otw_staff posting in [community profile] otw_news May. 28th, 2017 01:00 pm)
 Banner by caitie of an OTW-themed guest access lanyard

May's OTW guest Euclase talks fanart, the power of fandom & the importance of community https://goo.gl/Wt2BAJ
darjeeling: Priest Set & Kisara | Yuugiou DM ([ ANIM ] powerful is the soul)
([personal profile] darjeeling posting in [site community profile] dw_community_promo May. 28th, 2017 01:33 pm)

The [community profile] yugioh fandom community is getting a reboot, just in time for the new series! Whether you're a fan of the original Duel Monsters, GX, 5D's, Zexal or the new VRAINS, all series and fanworks are welcome. Fanfic, art, icons, discussions, it's all good. There's also a new FRIENDING MEME posted for meeting other fans.
sheafrotherdon: (Default)
([personal profile] sheafrotherdon May. 28th, 2017 10:36 am)
Yesterday I experienced the first real "transition" day from the unending busyness of the last few weeks at work to the more unstructured time I'll get for the next three months. I'll have plenty to do this summer, but the rhythm will be different - more long periods to do things, less short, sharp pivots to tend to 17 things one after each other. I'm looking forward to that so much!

But I do struggle with the transition. Yesterday I kept having to ask myself "what should I do now?" and answers did not come easily. But I took a walk, and I did a little yoga practice, and I read the beginning of a book by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama about joy. I also spent a lot of time on the internet spinning between facebook, twitter, and tumblr, and I'm hoping not to do that so much today. But every time, this time of year, I have to relearn what it is to do something because of internal impulse instead of external pressure. It takes practice. So today I think I'll be practicing by cleaning up my back porch and yard. This is especially important since people are coming over to enjoy both this week.

Last night I went out to a friend's farm and enjoyed dinner with her, her husband, and another friend of ours. It was such a lovely night - the food was excellent, the company was irreverent, and the farm is really gorgeous. My friend's husband and I bonded over having learned to drive a tractor before a car, and I thrilled to get up close and personal with all the farm equipment, which was all so impossibly large that I felt like a Lilliputian. I got to hang out with their dog, and drive home under a beautiful clear sky, and it was just a wonderful moment out of time. Yay!

I hope Sunday brings you joy!

Posted by Tara Olivero

Skam? What, like a scam, or a con? No, I’m talking about Skam, the Norwegian teen drama created by Julie Andem that has catapulted into stunning international success in recent months. With the first season NRK’s Skam released in 2015 and the show currently headed into its fourth season, Skam (which means shame in English) [...]

The post 5 Reasons Why You Should Be Watching Skam! appeared first on Women Write About Comics.

musesfool: tom mcrae lyrics icon (i was born in a summer storm)
([personal profile] musesfool May. 28th, 2017 11:15 am)
Hey y'all, did you know there's a Rivers of London novella coming out at the end of June? Or possibly September?
The Furthest Station

There have been ghosts on the London Underground, sad, harmless spectres whose presence does little more than give a frisson to travelling and boost tourism. But now there’s a rash of sightings on the Metropolitan Line and these ghosts are frightening, aggressive and seem to be looking for something.

Enter PC Peter Grant, junior member of the Metropolitan Police’s Special Assessment unit a.k.a. The Folly a.k.a. the only police officers whose official duties include ghost hunting. Together with Jaget Kumar, his counterpart at the British Transport Police, he must brave the terrifying crush of London’s rush hour to find the source of the ghosts.

Joined by Peter’s wannabe wizard cousin, a preschool river god and Toby the ghost hunting dog, their investigation takes a darker tone as they realise that a real person’s life might just be on the line.

Amazon says June 30 but Goodreads says maybe June 30 or maybe September 21. *hands* Either way, I've pre-ordered.

***
Apparently Fallen London, and some people I RP with, are good for me. It's just the tiniest morsel of a snippet, but it's ending an indescribably long period of Not Writing. Brought into existence by what I read of Hallowmas and other festivities that entail wearing disguises. It's a start.

Read more... )
cofax7: Olivia Dunham's ponytail (Fringe - Olivia - behind)
([personal profile] cofax7 May. 27th, 2017 06:41 pm)
1. Yesterday, a meeting I stressed over all week was cancelled, and instead I treated myself to a nice lunch and a long afternoon nap.

2. My house is mostly clean, and the new vacuum cleaner works well.

3. The dog's medication is working, which means she no longer pees in her sleep. (Yes, really. Sigh.)

4. I had a lovely lunch (with gelato!) and a long walk in the redwoods with [personal profile] laurashapiro and [personal profile] shrift.

5. There are still 2 more days of the weekend, and I have no obligations whatsoever. This is kind of awesome.
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([personal profile] case posting in [community profile] fandomsecrets May. 27th, 2017 03:47 pm)

⌈ Secret Post #3797 ⌋

Warning: Some secrets are NOT worksafe and may contain SPOILERS.

01.


More! )


Notes:

Secrets Left to Post: 00 pages, 00 secrets from Secret Submission Post #544.
Secrets Not Posted: [ 0 - broken links ], [ 0 - not!secrets ], [ 0 - not!fandom ], [ 0 - too big ], [ 0 - repeat ].
Current Secret Submissions Post: here.
Suggestions, comments, and concerns should go here.
case: (Default)
([personal profile] case posting in [community profile] fandomsecrets May. 27th, 2017 03:42 pm)
[ SECRET SUBMISSIONS POST #545 ]




The first secret from this batch will be posted on July 3rd.



RULES:
1. One secret link per comment.
2. 750x750 px or smaller.
3. Link directly to the image.
- Doing it RIGHT: http://i.imgur.com/KuBug.png
- Doing it WRONG: http://imgur.com/KuBug

Optional: If you would like your secret's fandom to be noted in the main post along with the secret itself, please put it in the comment along with your secret. If your secret makes the fandom obvious, there's no need to do this. If your fandom is obscure, you should probably tell me what it is.

Optional #2: If you would like WARNINGS (such as spoilers or common triggers -- list of some common ones here) to be noted in the main post before the secret itself, please put it in the comment along with your secret.

Optional #3: If you would like a transcript to be posted along with your secret, put it along with the link in the comment!

musesfool: darth vader saying "He said what about his sister? Gross." (he said what about his sister?)
([personal profile] musesfool May. 27th, 2017 12:15 pm)
This morning I got rid of two shopping bags full of DVDs and CDs that have done nothing but gather dust for years, and also got rid of all the shoes I no longer wear, so that was another trashbag full of stuff that is no longer taking up space. It's small but it's a start, right?

Also, two benadryl and I slept through the night! Progress!

In lieu of having anything interesting to say, here are a couple of links from tumblr that made me laugh out loud:

- Darth Vader is not your 'daddy'

- the scandalous backstory of the new Chargers logo

- this amazing new superhero duo

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