Tag Archives: stories

Free Stories July 8-12

For those of you who haven’t read Look to the Stars or The Freeport Mutineers, both short stories will be available for free this weekend.  Feel free to pick up a free copy and please leave reviews!

The Freeport Mutineers

The Freeport Mutineers, by Kal Spriggs
The Freeport Mutineers, by Kal Spriggs

Young Midshipman Wachter is about to face the rope.

Troubled by the rumors spread throughout the Southern Fleet, the young officer turned to the Marines and Sailors under his command… yet he and they were betrayed, arrested, and convicted of mutiny, all under the orders of the ambitious Lord Admiral Hennings.

Faced with the prospect of not only his own death, but that of the men under his command, Wachter must somehow find a way to do the right thing. Yet there is little hope with he and his men jailed, weaponless, and condemned, while the town of Freeport lies under martial law and the threat of dark sorcery.

Only one course lays open to him, to break his oaths and to swear allegiance to the cause of another, to become exactly what his enemies have accused him of being: a mutineer.

Look to the Stars

Look to the Stars, a short story by Kal Spriggs
Look to the Stars, a short story by Kal Spriggs

Sometimes it’s hard not to kill anyone.

Mason McGann is a smuggler, a liar, and a cheat. With his ship impounded by customs, he figures he has no choice left but to auction off information about the lost Dreyfus Fleet. But things are never what they seem when you hold information that can change the course of history.    All Mason wants is to buy his ship back, but he might have already set greater events in motion than he realizes.

Mason has to deal with a rogue military commander who is willing to kill for the power to conquer entire star systems.  Worse, he’s going to have to face his own past… 

There’s nothing in it for him, just his own stubbornness and the knowledge that if he doesn’t take a stand, millions could die. 

Look to the Stars is a short story in the Shadow Space Universe

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Oddball SF/F: Steampunk

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Seeing as I addressed cyberpunk, I figured I should turn a complete one hundred and eighty degrees and discuss Steampunk.

Steampunk is, at once, a narrow subgenre and also a broadly encompasing blended genre.   It has become massively popular in recent times due to its often fantastical elements and the broad spectrum of ideas and concepts that can be pulled in.  Steampunk is often used in alternate history, creating worlds of steam-powered airships and technology driven by steam, ingenuity, and lots and lots of gears.  Some steampunk now is focused on alternate history, while other authors create entirely new worlds.  Steampunk concepts such as airships, clockwork devices, and the like may sometimes appear in more traditional fantasy novels or series.

While the science behind a lot of the technology can be pure fancy, many steampunk stories have richly developed worlds.  Often the best steampunk is characterized by a thorough extrapolation of both culture, society, technology, and at least some grasp of history.  Steampunk characters tend to be larger than life, flamboyant, and yet gentlemen are gentlemen and ladies are ladies.  At the same time, many steampunk stories feature women who stand outside of societal norms and challenge the status quo.  The central core of steampunk, however, tends to be that it is complex, complicated, often larger than life, includes lots of ponderous and even dangerous machinery… and that it is fun.

Steampunk is often about adventure and exploration, and it is very much in tune with the founders of science fiction: Jules Verne and Arthur Conan Doyle.  Those authors used elements of the fantastic as well as scientific principles of their day to write stories of exploration, intrigue, and discovery.  In a way, steampunk can be seen as a tipped hat to these earlier authors, for whom the world still contained vast and unknown secrets, where maps required people to walk the ground and survey, and when the next horizon still held undiscovered riches.

Oddball SF/F: Cyberpunk

I was reading through various forums when I came across an interesting question… what is Cyberpunk.  Cyberpunk is a subgenre of Science Fiction and Fantasy that tends to be very singular, though in today’s markets, blending of Cyberpunk with other genres has occured.  As a subgenre of science fiction, it tends to be defined by a near-future semi-dystopian world, often with post-modern aesthetics.  The characters tend to be outcasts from society, often renegades, who are often antiheroes.  The latter is the ‘punk’ part, the main characters are often societal rejects, often by choice, who have rejected the system, much like Punk Rock.

Cyberpunk is odd because it often takes an anti-technology standpoint, almost to the point of suggesting that certain technology is inherently too dangerous.  Cyberpunk often utilizes cybernetic implants, hacking, cloning, and genetic engineering, all items that our society has serious ethical questions.  Most cyberpunk stories show deliberate missuses of these technologies, often by the companies or countries which should (in theory) protect their employees or citizens from such misuse.  Cyberpunk stories are often very dark, with characters who struggle for survival rather than to effect any real changes in society or the world at large.  An important theme to much of cyberpunk is the ethical delimmas posed by technology, and cyberpunk authors are sometimes unique in science fiction for questioning the advance of technology.

William Gibson is often considered the defining author of cyberpunk.  Many of Phillip K. Dick’s novels and short stories (to include a lot of them which have been made into movies such as Blade Runner and Minority Report) are very similar in themes and setting to standard cyberpunk.