Spotlight & Excerpt: Under Fortunate Stars + Giveaway

Under Fortunate Stars banner

This is my post during the blog tour for Under Fortunate Stars by Ren Hutchings. Under Fortunate Stars is a timey wimey space opera for lovers of Star Trek and Firefly.

This blog tour is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours and the tour runs from 10 till 23 May. You can see the tour schedule here.

Under Fortunate Stars book cover

Under Fortunate Stars
By Ren Hutchings
Age category: Adult
Publisher: Rebellion Publishing
Release Date: 10 May 2022

Blurb:
Two Ships. One Chance To Save The Future.

Fleeing the final days of the generations-long war with the alien Felen, smuggler Jereth Keeven’s freighter the Jonah breaks down in a strange rift in deep space, with little chance of rescue—until they encounter the research vessel Gallion, which claims to be from 152 years in the future.

The Gallion’s chief engineer Uma Ozakka has always been fascinated with the past, especially the tale of the Fortunate Five, who ended the war with the Felen. When the Gallion rescues a run-down junk freighter, Ozakka is shocked to recognize the Five’s legendary ship—and the Five’s famed leader, Eldric Leesongronski, among the crew.

But nothing else about Leesongronski and his crewmates seems to match up with the historical record. With their ships running out of power in the rift, more than the lives of both crews may be at stake…

Links:
Goodreads
Bookbub
Amazon
B&N
Waterstones
Bookshop
Rebellion Publishing


Excerpt:

UMA
Engineering Deck, ZeyCorp Gallion

Despite all the empty seats around the Engineering pit, Uma stood next to the captain as the rest of the crew filed in. With everyone assembled in one place, there was no denying just how tiny the Gallion’s turnover crew was.
The captain, two directors, eight engineers, Shaan, and Zel. Thirteen people and one android, that was everyone on board.
No. Fifteen people, Uma corrected herself. The Ambassador and the Voiced interpreter remained oblivious in their guest apartment. Uma couldn’t imagine how anyone was going to tell the diplomatic contingent about this.
She looked around at the crew. Wazar, the equipment team lead, was clutching a steaming hot beverage to her chest like some kind of elixir, her shock of blue-grey hair in disarray. The Cordero siblings, both of them engine techs, looked dazed and bleary-eyed after hours of repeated engine core resets. Even Zel was out of sorts, hovering anxiously at the edge of the pit. His usually-perfect coif was flat on one side, as if he’d slept on it.
By the time Director Barnabyn appeared—dressed in his formal blazer, just like the captain—the crew was abuzz with speculative conversation. Outside of a drill, Captain Fransk had never invoked an emergency Full Staff Assembly.
“Crew of the Gallion,” Fransk began. He drew in a long, laboured breath. “It’s been many hours since the event that knocked out our engines, and we haven’t yet restored our  connection to the network. We don’t know if our signals relaying our position have reached anyone. We have no idea where we are.” He paused. “We have a long list of serious problems. But none of those are the reason I called this assembly.”
Fransk’s gaze lingered on Uma for a moment, and she gave him a small, encouraging nod.
“The Gallion has picked up another ship’s distress call,” Fransk continued. “Dean alerted me and the directors. But… as our current crew is so small, I want to share what we know
with all of you before we make any decisions.”
A confused whisper rustled through the room.
“The transmission we received is of human origin, albeit using an antiquated comms protocol. It is the only external signal of any kind that we’ve received since our ship entered  the energy field.” Fransk turned to the android. “Dean? Show us the ship scan.”
Dean tapped two smooth fingers together to call up a projection. As it unfolded above the android’s hand, the image slowly resolved and enhanced, and the outline of a ship  appeared.
An unsettlingly familiar ship. The back of Uma’s neck prickled again.
“I’ve isolated the source of the signal and located the ship, eighty klicks away,” the android said. “You will note that this image quality is unusually poor. That is due in part to the interference from the energy field, but the ship also has two scan-jamming devices mounted on its cargo bay. The devices are of an extremely old make and quite inefficient, so this  hasn’t prevented us from mapping their hull.”
The image zoomed in and rotated. “It appears to be a small civilian ship,” Dean continued. “The hull profile suggests a short-haul freighter, 00Y class—a common war-era vessel. The best-known ship of this type is undoubtedly the one that carried the Fortunate Five to Etraxas at the end of the war. The Jonah.”
Uma thought of the small, silvery model of the Jonah that sat on the shelf in her apartment, and a chill squirmed down her spine.
“Of course, the Jonah was a very ordinary ship for its time. There were thousands made exactly like it.” The android paused. “Most of them would be long out of service by now, but a few may still be spaceworthy if they were well-maintained. This could also be a modern replica of the Jonah.”
“Replay the transmission, Dean,” Fransk said.
The android’s head bobbed, and the crackling recording began to play.
“Calling all channels, we have an emergency! This is the civilian cargo hauler Jonah. Is anybody out there? We’ve had a complete systems failure… ran into some type of… unusual  energy field… no power. If anyone’s receiving this, we need immediate assistance. This is an emergency. I repeat, this is Eldric Leesongronski of the Jonah, requesting assistance.”


Ren Hutchings

About the Author:
Ren Hutchings is a speculative fiction writer, writing mentor, and history grad. She spent most of the past decade working in game dev while also plotting twisty space novels. She loves pop science, unexplained mysteries, 90s music, collecting outdated electronics, and pondering about alternate universes. Ren always drafts out of order, and almost everything she writes ends up involving a dash of time travel.

Author links:
Website
Twitter
Instagram
Newsletter


Giveaway
There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of Under Fortunate Stars. One winner wins a paperback copy of Under Fortunate Stars. Open International.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Under Fortunate Stars square banner
Lola's Blog Tours graphic

Spotlight, Excerpt, & Author Interview: Dark Factory + Giveaway

Dark Factory-BlogTour-Banner

Dark Factory-Cover

DARK FACTORY
by Kathe Koja
RELEASE DATE: May 10, 2022
GENRE: Speculative Fiction / SciFi / LGBT / Literary

Welcome to Dark Factory! You may experience strobe effects, Y reality, DJ beats, love, sex, betrayal, triple shot espresso, broken bones, broken dreams, ecstasy, self-knowledge, and the void.

Dark Factory is a dance club: three floors of DJs, drinks, and customizable reality, everything you see and hear and feel. Ari Regon is the club’s wild card floor manager, Max Caspar is a stubborn DIY artist, both chasing a vision of true reality. And rogue journalist Marfa Carpenter is there to write it all down. Then a rooftop rave sets in motion a fathomless energy that may drive Ari and Max to the edge of the ultimate experience.

Dark Factory is Kathe Koja’s wholly original new novel from Meerkat Press, that combines her award-winning writing and her skill directing immersive events, to create a story that unfolds on the page, online, and in the reader’s creative mind.

Join us at DarkFactory.club. The story has already begun.

BUY LINKS: Meerkat Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Excerpt:

“Ari! Hey Ari, how’s it going?”
“Hey,” his nod to the skinny DJ on the bench opposite Jonas’s office, blue glass walls half-covered with overlapping Dark Factory posters, the effect is like peering into a paper aquarium. “It’s going good. Tight.”
“I just got in from Chromefest, I played some crazy great shit,” the DJ digging into his bag, a dangle of fake gold giveaway charms, too many stickers, TOOT SWEET, U DONT REDLINE U DONT HEADLINE, pulling out a mix stick. “You got a minute?”
“Got a meeting,” with a shrug, a smile, his public smile—
—but inside the office no Jonas, only his spoor: empty NooJuice cans, Causabon trainers still new in the box, a white dinner jacket hung on the hulking recliner, and between the tilting piles on the blue glass table that is Jonas’s desk, two burner phones, both vibrating like wind-up toys: Ari takes up one, then the other, neither are numbers he knows. Also on the desk is a flat delivery box stacked with t-shirts, a new streamlined design, and “Y makes the logo move,” Jonas at the door, slamming the door, Jonas wearing last summer’s t-shirt, black and sleeveless beneath a clear plastic wrap jacket; with his hair sheared at the sides he looks like a brand-new cleaning brush, Ari hides a smile. “Lee thinks it’s too subtle. What do you think?”
“Not if it moves,” an answer and a parry, Jonas likes to test everyone, Ari most of all. “Chockablock thinks of everything.”
“And overcharges for everything too. Wear it around, see what people say,” and as Ari drapes a shirt around his neck, “I know it’s your day off, but I need you in the box tonight.”
“Just me?”
“You and whoever else I stick in there. Be good, or it’ll be Lee.”
“I don’t have a problem with Lee.”
“That’s not what she says.”
“Then that’s her problem.”
“True. Got a smoke? Darcy’s after me to quit,” as Ari offers one of the black blunts he gets from the boys in the clubs, Jonas rooting in the desk’s mess for an ashtray, and “Lee said,” Jonas’s shrug half-annoyed, ”some woman gave birth on the floor last night? To an actual baby? What a mess.”
And Ari laughs—“The Factory’s first natural-born citizen”—and after a moment Jonas laughs too: “Your brain, Ari, your fucking brain,” pulling out his real phone, a quick dictating bark, “Lee, find those baby people, give the baby free admission for life. Tell Media to make a big deal out of it—”
—as Ari exits in a puff of smoke and a flutter of posters, past the still-waiting DJ, and two runners toting scent canisters like oversized silver bullets, another runner wrangling a wobbling rack of boxed NooJuice, provided to the production in exchange for ad placement, another of Ari’s ideas that Jonas approves, Jonas drinks half a dozen cans of that swill a day. Lee drinks it too, though Ari knows she hates it; sometimes he catches Lee studying him when she thinks no one can see.
In the performers’ lounge he slips on the new t-shirt—a little loose across the chest, he likes his shirts tighter—smooths back his hair, then heads for the NOT AN EXIT sign over the loading dock doors: a delivery van rolling out, another just backing in that he sidesteps, out to the street, Neuberg Street . . . A teenager, the first time, he came here to drink cheap lager and fuck and dance to loud music with boys—he still fucks and dances, but Jonas has taught him something about wine, so he drinks that instead, chilled and white, it pairs nicely with the blunts—sixteen then and wide open, new to the scene, new to joy: his look changed, his slang, even his walk, more swagger, more aware of his body as he roamed past the schnapps bars and phone stores and crumbled brick alleys, the corner charging stations shaped like top hats where the boys hung out, flirting and sparring in the noise of sidewalk speakers and the whirring purr of the trains, the muezzin’s call floating over avenues of beech and linden trees and the black-washed façades of the remodeled industrial flats, cafés hot with espresso and frothing oat milk, and the clubs’ 4 a.m. aroma of lager and latex and Club-Mate, dancing panting bodies, moisturizer and tobacco and tears. And now these streets are his streets, he lives in one of those expensive flats, he has everything he wants in this world, almost everything.
The October sky is overcast as a tarnished mirror, heat still radiating from the pavement, he stops at a Kaffee Kart for an iced espresso and “Your shirt’s really cool,” says the freckled barista, as Ari records her reaction for Jonas’s eventual benefit. “Dark Factory! I’d go every weekend if I could, it’s like the world if the world was perfect. You go a lot?”
“I go every night. I work there.”
“You work at Dark Factory? Oh cool! What do you do?”
And Ari smiles, because there is no name for what he does, what he is, what Jonas needs most, what Lee for all her stats and apps and 24/7 devotion can never be: the bridge between the Factory and the world, a native of both because “I’m the ambassador,” he says, and lifts his cup to toast—the barista, the Factory, his job, himself—as a sudden gust of steam surrounds him, like a saint’s silver halo, or a personal storm.


Author Interview:

1. Tell us a little about how this story first came to be.
All my books start with a character, someone I see in my mind’s eye, wonder over, consider; then that character opens the door to others, to their world, and to the book. For Dark Factory it was Ari Regon, wild hair and that smile, this guy was clearly out to have some fun. So I followed him.

2. What, if anything, did you learn when writing the book?
Oh, what a great question. I learned that my immersive event work—I’ve produced and directed over twenty live performance events, in places like galleries, museums, a Victorian mansion, a historic church sanctuary—could merge with my writing, and people could be invited to interact with a book the same way they do at the live shows: immersive fiction! And Meerkat Press was one hundred percent collaboratively involved with the concept, creating the Dark Factory site to invite readers into the story from the jump.

3. What surprised you the most in writing it?
How BIG it was. It was a world that knew exactly what it wanted to be, and do—just like Ari, whose role in that world is as producer extraordinaire, always looking to create the unforgettable night—and just kept growing and morphing. That’s one reason it took me twice as long to write Dark Factory as any of my other novels, over three years.

4. If it’s not a spoiler, what does the title mean?
It has more than one meaning, but Max Caspar explains it better than anyone.

5. Were any of the characters inspired by real people?
None of the characters in the novel, but there are more than a few real people interviewed by Marfa Carpenter/McSq2 on the site: a tattoo artist, several professors, an arts journalist/editor, a sound designer, a ministry worker, all of them offering their real thoughts and opinions on life, art, and their own fields and disciplines. Immersive again.

6. Do you consider the book to have a lesson or moral?
That reality is a state more amazing than we ever believed.

7. What is your favorite part of the book?
Impossible to answer this one! But I do love the push-and-pull interactions between playful Ari and serious Max, on pretty much every topic, from the meaning of life to soba noodles.

8. Which character was most challenging to create? Why?
Definitely Marfa—her changes over the course of the novel took me by surprise, but looking back, those changes were always there, always part of who she was and could become. That’s the way for all of us, though, all the potential selves we could be, that we make with our choices, every day.

9. What are your immediate future plans?
We have multiple launches and events scheduled, into June and beyond, and new fan content coming for the site. So it’s all Dark Factory for now.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kathe Koja writes novels and short fiction, and creates and produces immersive fiction performances, both solo and with a rotating ensemble of artists. Her work crosses and combines genres, and her books have won awards, been multiply translated, and optioned for film and performance. She is based in Detroit and thinks globally. She can be found at kathekoja.com.

kathe-koja-c-rl

Website | Twitter | Facebook


Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link

Book Blitz & Excerpt: Rationality Zero + Giveaway

Rationality Zero Blitz Banner

Rationality Zero
by J.M. Guillen
(The Dossiers of Asset 108, #1)
Publication date: April 28th 2022
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction

A living weapon. An attack on the laws of reality. One chance to save the world.

Michael Bishop is a man who never dreams, who never gets ill. He lives his entire life oblivious to the truths hidden from him.

He is a tool in the hand of the most powerful organization on Earth.

Michael’s world transforms when They bring him online- when They activate the mysterious technology buried within his skull.

Then, the lies fall away. He becomes Asset 108. Using intricate technology, he defends humanity from the gibbering, tentacled horrors that haunt our world.

When mysterious renegades fracture the very laws of nature, Asset 108 is put into position. As the world begins to unravel, a cabal of madmen with physics shattering powers hunt 108 and his cadre, driving them into an alternate reality— a realm filled with inhuman horror.

Between otherworldly arachnids, muscled brutes infected with psionic parasites, and depraved cultists, grisly deaths lurk behind Michael’s every choice.

Yet all too soon, things become far, far, worse.

Goodreads / Amazon


EXCERPT:

Regular people, folks with normal lives, never dream of how strange their world could quickly become. When things get weird…

That’s where I come in.

Most of the time, things were simple. I lived the perfect life, my days drawn from most men’s fantasies. I didn’t work; I didn’t have to. I got a wire into my account every two weeks. It varied, but the amount surpassed what some people made in six months. Yet I didn’t know where it came from. The sources had vague names like VRS Solutions or Apex Enterprises, throwaway companies that disappeared the next week.

Some might call me spoiled. Yet it got better.

I drove a new sports car. A candy-red thing that got me all kinds of attention. My wardrobe was perfectly tailored to me and quite expansive. My apartment in San Francisco should have run over ten grand a month, yet I never paid a dime of rent. It had a movie room, three separate bedrooms, and a small library, not to mention the personal white room for my Facility gear.

Oh, and… company.

I almost never spent an evening alone. I could have a different enchanting companion every night if I wanted. Or two. Not due to being a sleazy pickup artist, it was simply the way my evenings unfolded. I went to the right clubs, wore the right clothes. Before I knew it, I was dancing with someone like Caprice or her nameless friend. And the night’s enticements had just begun.

As I said, I lived most men’s fantasies.

There were other things though, odd things.

I never got ill. Never.

I never remembered my dreams.

I never worked out, ate whatever I pleased, and remained incredibly fit.

I’ve never done taxes—in any country. A notation on all deposits read: tax paid.

I had no account with any public utility or phone company, yet I owned a phone and used electricity.

I never bought my clothes or books or other diversions. A metallic white board hung on my fridge. Just now, it had “Men in Black” scrawled across it, indicating I wanted the VHS. As soon as I left, I felt certain it’d appear, yet I’d never seen anyone come into my place.

When in torpor, I had no curiosity about any of this. They took care of everything. It was simple. I lived the perfect life.

Until activated.

Once active, I was a tool in the hand of the most powerful organization on Earth. I had access to devices and technology that literally shaped reality as we know it. We accomplished this through the alteration of laws we termed axioms. In actuality, axioms were an analogy for the various laws of physics, some yet to be discovered by mankind.

To Assets such as myself, the axioms of physics were weaponry. They might be bent or altogether broken while on assignment. The awesome technology responsible for that was an absolute requirement for what we did, the bare minimum of what we needed in order to come back alive.

Because dark, inhuman things lurked in the shadows of our world—things most people couldn’t even imagine. Our very reality was under siege by beings older than humanity itself.


Author Bio:

JM Guillen was your average, everyday awesome writer just trying to make it in this modern, awful corporate dystopia. He knew he wanted to make wonderful, bizarre things, but how could he afford to make that happen? Every day, he sat about crying and drinking, trying to figure out what he could do.

THEN A RADIOACTIVE METEOR CRASHED INTO HIS BACKYARD! FROM OUTER SPACE!

While examining the fuming interstellar rock, unknowable emanations radiated into the very center of his being. These unearthly energies changed the very depths of him, granting him powers that no man can name, and no god could ever master.

Reeling from the influx of spectral energies, he stumbled back into his home, his eyes open. Now, an entire universe unfolded before him. Now, he saw the way.

HE STARTED HIS OWN EVIL PUBLISHING COMPANY!

Now, JM Guillen begins to meet AWESOME people who supported his INSANE plans. Fiendishly, he scrawls story after story, writing steampunk, dark fantasy and eldritch horror…

Reality will never be the same.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Patreon / TikTok / Newsletter


GIVEAWAY!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hosted by:
XBTBanner1

Scroll Up