New Sci-Fi Crime Releases

If you enjoyed the stories in CROOKED volumes 1 and 2, you’ll be delighted to hear that the authors are an industrious bunch. Many have new books out in their well-loved series — or are launching new series entirely. Read on for a round-up of this winter’s new releases from some of the fabulous authors I’ve been privileged to work with as part of CROOKED!

(Note that a lot of these books are further on in the series — follow the links to pick up the first book in the series if you haven’t already.)

Huntress at the Helm by Greg Dragon

The Geralos, scourge of the Anstractor universe, have set their eyes on the Nusalein cluster of colonies. Lieutenant Helga Ate and the Nighthawks, having completed a mission on the planet Genese, are called in to assist with holding off the invasion. Now, the team finds themselves involved in a crisis where trust is short, and the enemy is varied. Will Helga’s luck and knack for survival be enough with an inexperienced crew and a ship only partially repaired?

Buy on Amazon, or read for free with Kindle Unlimited.


Code Reaper by E.L. Strife

In a digital world, who strips your online presence when you die so no one can steal your assets, ruin your name, or destroy your family after your death?

Kaisha is an elite Code Reaper for Divisiom Enterprises, helping to sever digital ties of the dead and protect their life’s achievements from hackers. After the mysterious murder of her parents, Kaisha sticks to the shadows, burning the existence of the less fortunate, like them, from the online realm.

Kaisha has learned to protect herself and the assets of the lower classes while she works. She has no desire for the cushy life of a Corporate Code Reaper. Even a simple hack can ruin an entire family.

When a major corporate player, Mr. Deranth, unexpectedly summons her to wipe his digital slate, she’s stunned. But Deranth has picked her for a reason. It isn’t supposed to be his time to die.

Kaisha finds herself chasing a trail of early deaths, trying to find signs of murder in the code. Divisiom wants her to leave it alone and just do her job. When she won’t stop, Divisiom hunts her down.

Teaming up with Holt, one of Mr. Deranth’s guards, Kaisha discovers a dark truth behind the corporate leader’s murder, one that opens her eyes to a powerful virus coursing through the underground. With cybersquads after her, Kaisha must pull from every skill set to find the source before its evidence is erased forever.

Can she stop the virus before she becomes the next client on another Code Reaper’s scrub list?

Buy on Amazon, or read for free with Kindle Unlimited.

The Corpse Corps by Eric Warren

Fresh off her promotion and finally accepting the reality of twenty-seventh century living, Lilah Barrows finally feels like she has a grasp on the future.

That is, until she botches her first command, throwing her whole promotion into question. However, there is something else gnawing at Lilah, something she can’t quite describe, but it sits in the back of her genetically-enhanced brain, chipping away at her.

Just as she’s decided she’s ready to seek some help, Lilah finds herself in shackles and being paraded in front of her friends and her squad, accused of a crime serious enough to have her stripped from her body and placed back in storage. The only problem is, no one will tell her what law she’s broken.

Determined not to go down without a fight, Lilah manages an escape with the help of an old friend. But when it turns out her escape was made possible by the twenty-seventh century equivalent of a cult, Lilah will have to dig deep if she hopes to figure out who these people are and what they truly want.

It turns out this group may have the answers about her mental condition and her past, but to learn the truth, Lilah will be tasked with changing the Stellar Union at its most fundamental levels. And the reality of what really happened to her could cost Lilah her sanity…and her life.

Buy on Amazon, or read for free with Kindle Unlimited.


Traitor Game by Kate Sheeran Swed

Book 3 of the Parse Galaxy series.

Sloane Tarnish isn’t the kind of girl who typically harbors celebrity fugitives on the rugged little spaceship she calls home. But now that she’s stuck with one, she can’t help but feel she’s pretty darn good at it, thank you very much.

She doesn’t know how long her crew will be able to hide.

She doesn’t know what the Cosmic Trade Federation will do next in their bid to control the entire freaking galaxy.

What she does know, with absolute certainty, is that Galactic Fleet Commander Gareth Fortune is innocent of all crimes.

The only trouble? Finding a way to prove it…

Get it anywhere books are sold.

Symbiotech by C.E. Clayton

Ellinor is done—running and hiding.

Cosmin has made it violently clear that wherever Ellinor and Kai go, he will find them. And, he will gladly make their families suffer until Ellinor returns what she stole from him. But Ellinor cannot, and will not relinquish Fiss; not to those who would bind and shackle him to serve their greedy agenda, not to anyone.

Even with her magic returned, and with Fiss, Kai, and Jelani to help, they are still no match for Cosmin, a point made agonizingly clear when Ellinor and her friends tangle with an old foe. Without more power, Ellinor has little hope of saving her family before there is nothing left to save. The power is there, but learning how to harness her upgraded magic is complicated, and time has run out. Then there are other distractions, in the guise of feelings Ellinor would never have thought possible for her again, if it weren’t for the charming Jelani and her growing attachment to him.

Allies are in short supply, and any help will come with a price, but that won’t stop Ellinor from returning to Euria. She will face Cosmin von Brandt and save her family, or die trying.

Buy on Amazon, or read for free with Kindle Unlimited.


Cast Off by R J Theodore

The Action Packed Conclusion to the Peridot Shift Trilogy

Peridot is on the edge of annihilation. Once life-giving, the world’s Trade Winds are transforming people into soulless monsters. The surviving Alchemist gods neglect their followers or take advantage of them. Even worse, a delicate peace has been wasted, and everything and everyone is at stake, especially Meran, the mistreated embodiment of the planet.

Captain Talis and the crew of Fortune’s Storm must try to do some good with what’s left of Peridot in the hope that, together, they’ll reclaim the hidden pieces of Meran’s soul before the chaos seals her disastrous fate.

Get it anywhere you find fine books.

Morphus Ascendant by G.J. Ogden

The search for a superweapon leads to a conflict with the galaxy’s most dangerous criminal cartel

Despite their best efforts to subdue Goliath, the superpowered alien AI continues to grow stronger and more lethal. Billions already lie dead across the galaxy as the entity works its way toward Earth, and the Star Scavengers are losing faith. All of their hopes now lie in finding another artificial entity – one that fought and defeated Goliath long before humanity was born.

The only problem is that this entity is dead.

Thanks to their informant inside the military, Hudson and Tory learn the location of their potential ally’s body. As an artificial being, they hope there is still a chance to revive it and get it back into the fight.

But Goliath and its death cult controlled by fanatical leader, Amelia Ash, are no longer the Star Scavenger’s only problems. The Council – the galaxy’s deadliest crime syndicate – are gunning for them too, as are bitter relic-hunting rivals, the Creed Brothers.

Battling the odds, and winning, is what Hudson and Tory do best. But this time, they will need more than just luck and guile to achieve their goal of stopping Goliath; they’ll need a weapon powerful enough to destroy it.

Star Guardian is an epic space opera series, blending the action and fun of Firefly with the treasure-hunting adventure and mystery of Indiana Jones. Start reading today!

Buy on Amazon, or read for free with Kindle Unlimited.


Rememory by Frasier Armitage

In the future, memory is currency. Felix is broke, on the run, with nothing in his head but a combination of numbers.

Someone robbed him of his mind. Now it’s time he took it back.

★★★★★ “Armitage deftly executes the fresh concept of memory as currency. REMEMORY is part cyberpunk, part thriller, and a total blast to read. Truly captivating.”–EL Strife, Author of the Infinite Spark series and Zedger

★★★★★ “A mind-blowing short story about a man on a perilous pursuit to take back his looted memories. I’d absolutely give it five stars.”–Dawn Ross, Author of the Dragon Spawn series

★★★★★ “Phenomenal story…absolutely phenomenal”–Davene Le Grange, Poet and Author of The Cyber Punk: Ready 2 Play? and other science fiction

Buy on Amazon, or read for free with Kindle Unlimited.

The U.F.O. Case by Austin Dragon

All aboard the Falcon Express! Earth’s first royal luxury hoverjet designed to travel the skies, on the seas, underwater, and into space! What could possibly go wrong with our hero detective on-board for vacation?

A dream of high-end travel has arrived. But that dream becomes a Nightmare…at 40,000 feet!

LIQUID COOL is Sci-Fi Meets the Detective Crime Thriller!

In the action-packed (and funny) cyberpunk detective series, we tag along with Cruz, our sci-fi detective (and unlikely hero) with attitude. But this time it’s not the fifty-million-plus, supercity of Metropolis. We only start there. We’re 40,000 feet up, traveling 700 miles per hour in the dark skies.

Preorder wherever you find fine books.


Gifts for Readers: 2021 Edition

Oh, hello! Welcome to my gift guide for readers for 2021. Got a reader on your shopping list? Are their reading tastes weird like mine? You’re in the right place.

These aren’t the “Best books of 2021.” Nor is this a comprehensive list of books I think are worth gifting.

Rather, this is a list of books I personally read in the last year or so that I wholeheartedly recommend. Books I’ve been dying to shout about. Books that, were we standing next to each other right now, I would put directly in your hands and insist you purchase.

There are sci-fi and fantasy books, of course, along with a couple fun YA/middle grade and some suspense/thrillers to round out the mix. I’ve also included a few of my favorite non-fiction books from this year.

I thought about copying over the product descriptions so you could actually know what the books are about. Instead I opted to write my own blurbs while drinking a bottle of wine. You’re welcome.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

(Quick note: Some of these links are affiliate links — which means I get a few pennies when you make a purchase. But believe me. I’d be shouting about all of these things for free. I also chose to include for the print links, because they donate to local bookstores! You could also order through your own local bookstore if you like.)


Oh, wait! Before we dive in to the books, do you have a reader in your life, but you’re not sure what their favorite genre is, or what they have or haven’t read? Give them the gift of lots of books at their fingertips!

  • E-reader — I have both a Kobo Clara and a Kindle Paperwhite, and love them both equally. I know, I know. The smell of paper, etc., but the ability to pack all 27 books you’re certain you’ll read on vacation without taking up any more suitcase space than a poetry chapbook is pretty great. Plus, when you’re reading Fonda Lee’s doorstopping Green Bone saga way too late in bed and you nod off and the book hits you in the face, it doesn’t hurt as bad if it’s an e-reader.
  • Oh, they already have an e-reader? Do have one of these lovely e-reader covers by Fintie? I have a galaxy print for my Kobo and a marble print for my Kindle — I also got one of their hardshell cases for my laptop. Seriously, I always assume if something has fun patterns and colors it’s not as well-made — but these Fintie cases are great. (And apparently only available on Amazon, sorry.)
  • Audible subscription — One of my favorite wedding gifts was an Audible subscription. My husband and I were headed on an extended trip to Peru after our wedding, and we spent a ton of time listening to audiobooks together. (And, hey — you can get the Bulari Saga books on Audible now!
  • subscription — a new kid of the audio block, is a great option if you want to listen to audiobooks, but also support your local bookstore. Their app is super intuitive — I’ve really been loving it.

Science Fiction and Fantasy

I wish I’d had a chance to read a fraction of the amazing sci-fi and fantasy books published this year! Here were some of the faves I read this year.


Persephone Station by Stina Leicht

Thank you to my cousin Faith for recommending this book to me! She said it reminded her of my Bulari Saga, and damn if she wasn’t right. Seedy underworld alliances, found family who have each other’s back, and lots and lots of explosions. You’re gonna love it.

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Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

I don’t read a ton of fantasy these days, but I LOVE Rebecca Roanhorse (keep reading this gift guide, you’ll see). So when she released her first epic fantasy based around Pre-Columbian cultures, I picked it up — and devoured it in a few days. Lush, lovely, and a real page-turner. I cannot wait for the next book in this series!

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Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

Since I’ve brought up Roanhorse, I’m just gonna go ahead and put this one here, too. Post-apocalyptic monster-hunting adventures set on the Navajo Nation after a flood cuts it off from the rest of the world and tears the fabric of the world between gods and humans once more. Love love love both this book and its sequel!

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Torn by Rowenna Miller

Did I say I didn’t read much fantasy these days? Sure, but when Rowenna Miller tweeted a 1-star review complaining that Torn had “not enough magic and too much rebellion” I one-clicked it and was not disappointed. Do you like fashion, sewing, and revolutionary politics? Like a lot of fashion, sewing, and revolutionary politics? This will be right up your alley.

Also, LOOK AT THAT COVER! I can’t get over how fantastic it is with the needles and the blood and the whole thing. I am clearly the target market. Maybe someone on your list is, too.

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Deal with the Devil by Kit Rocha

Hey, speaking of rebellion? I am loving this new series by Kit Rocha. Communist mercenary librarian badasses do crime for good with rakishly broodily handsome supersoldiers. A little steamy, but not nearly as much as Kit Rocha’s Beyond series — which I also enjoyed, but gotta say I’m digging this new series more.

Pick it up for the person on your list who you’d most like to have on your team during the apocalypse.

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Jade City by Fonda Lee

Have I raved at you about Fonda Lee’s Green Bone saga yet? No? Well let me rave at you now. Gorgeously written, full of complicated characters you love to root for, and all those tense, complicated crime family negotiations that I just eat up. The final book in the trilogy just came out a few weeks back and I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, so if you spoil it for me I’ll cut you. Don’t even try.

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Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald

Since we’re talking intensely epic crime family drama, please go read the Luna trilogy. Fashion! Dinner parties! Lavish descriptions of both intricate interpersonal politics and delicious-sounding cocktails. GORGEOUS and DEADLY and SO MUCH FUN.

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Whyborne and Griffin series by Jordan L. Hawk

I picked up Widdershins because I met Jordan at a writer’s conference and we instantly bonded over our deep appreciation of good IPAs. Bonus, his books sounded fun! A bookish wizard solves cosmic horror crimes with his dashing ex-Pinkerton detective boyfriend and best friend the headstrong lady archaeologist? Let’s check it out, I figured.

Friends — these books got me through the pandemic. Whenever I needed a good pick-me-up, I grabbed the next book in the series and sank into a world full of people I’m secretly starting to think of as friends. (Oh — heads up, there are steamy times ahead.)

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Want more recommendations? Check out my “hopeful science fiction” post for some more great reads.

Suspense and Thriller

Don’t tell anybody, but even though I write science fiction I primarily read thrillers. I binge them like candy with no regrets — and I’ve read some amazing ones this year.


Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone

I picked up Jane Doe on recommendation a month ago, and absolutely tore through it. The minute I finished, I texted this to a couple of fellow true crime podcast listening friends:

Hey murder ladies book club — I just read Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone on recommendation from a new friend and I fucking loved it. A functioning sociopath who loves her cat sets out to ruin the life of a manipulative asshole dude. I would now kill for Jane but she would probably get there for me first.

I could rave more about it, but you should probably just pick it up for your weirdo true crime podcast loving friend. (I see you girl, email me.)


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Killshot by Elmore Leonard

Not gonna lie, I’ve been wanting to read some Elmore Leonard for a while, but 100% picked this particular book because it shares a title with Bulari Saga 5. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but from the first paragraphs vividly describing the cracks in the hitman’s hotel room ceiling I was totally hooked.

(Seriously — almost a year after reading it, so many scenes of Killshot are etched in my mind. Leonard is a master of detail.)

I also gotta say I was expecting a bit more stereotypical relationship between the husband and wife, but a lot of the book is from her point of view and — guys. Leonard clearly interviewed some exasperated women as research for writing Carmen Colson. Just let Carmen take care of business, Wayne. She’s got this. Step back and don’t worry your pretty little head. Just go fishing or whatever you do, Wayne, Carmen’s got a plan.

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When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain

This one was a bit of a tough read due to subject matter (missing girls, sexual assault, the loss of a child), but it was an excellent book. I read it soon after we’d spent a weekend in Humboldt County, CA, so the setting of the book felt gorgeously familiar. And the prose was really, really lovely. Like, Tana French lovely.

It’s perfect for that true crime fanatic in your life.

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The Secret Place by Tana French

Hey, speaking of Ms. French, have I shared with you lately the good word that is the Dublin Murder Squad series? I’ve been rereading Tana French’s books this year because her prose is a masterclass in writing conversations where one level of information is being relayed in the words, and a total other level is happening in the body language. Hashtag writer goals.

It’s hard to pick a favorite of her books, but I do really love The Secret Place. Don’t be scared off that it’s book 5 in the series — you can pick them up in any order. If you’re looking for a standalone, her most recent book, The Searcher, was also really fantastic.

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Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

Also in the category of books that got me through the pandemic? At one point when I totally lost motivation for anything, I picked up Stillhouse Lake and binged it — and the next three books in the series — over the course of a week.

They’re just so page-turnery, with characters you want to root for, and some seriously cliff-hanger writing. I’ll shout out a content warning for violence against women, stalking/harassment, and on-page serial killer horribleness. Caine handles that all very skillfully and thoughtfully, in my opinion, but I don’t want to throw you in a pond you aren’t interested in swimming in.

(That’s a thing people say, isn’t it?)

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Young Adult/Middle Grade

My niblings are getting to reading age, and the eldest (she’s almost 11) takes after her auntie with her nose always buried in a book. The following suggestions are books I’ve bought for her recently, and also read (and loved) myself.


Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol

Quick humblebrag, but Eisner and Caldecott award winning Vera Brosgol is my neighbor! Like, “hey Vera can you grab that package off my porch we’re out of town” neighbor. Like, “hey Jessie do you want half a loaf of this sourdough I just made” neighbor (she’s an excellent baker!).

But you don’t care about that. You care that Vera is a phenomenal storyteller and illustrator, and Be Prepared is incredible. I bought it for my niece and my sister says she read it through twice the same day it showed up in the mail.

Hey, me too, kid. Highly recommend.

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Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

Yes, this post has become a shameless Rebecca Roanhorse stan account. Here’s the thing, friends. I grew up on the Yakama reservation, surrounded by people like the characters in Roanhorse’s books — people I so rarely see in the sci-fi/fantasy genre. So that’s one of the reasons I love her work.

But more than that, her writing is just ridiculously fun! I bought this book for my niece for Christmas, but I read it first myself and it was fantastic! (Don’t tell my niece and spoil the surprise — I don’t think she’s old enough to have found my blog).

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Clockbreakers: Asterion’s Curse by Kate Ristau

This is another series I bought for my niece this summer. I loved mythology at her age, so I figured we’d both dig reading this series together. I was totally right — they’re really fun! Plucky BFFs learning how to fend for themselves, quirky minotaur mentors, and a truly cunning villain.

Full disclosure, Kate’s a friend — but that’s not the only reason I was able to score a signed set for my niece. Head to her website and I bet she’ll sign some for you, too.

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The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks

Bear with me on the self help recommendation here, but I have been thinking about The Big Leap constantly since I read it a few months ago. Gay Hendricks has a very “so I was talking to my buddy the CEO on the golf course the other day” vibe, but he teases out the ways that we hold ourselves back from love and happiness in a truly brilliant way. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy for yourself, and for a friend.

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Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

I debated putting this one in here. Not because it wasn’t absolutely the best book I read in 2021, but because it’s … not “gifty”? Not happy? I read this for a book club, and I kept texting the friend who recommended it “OMG this is getting so horrible” and she would text back “Oof just wait.”

It’s a true crime book about a series of murders of members of the Osage tribe in the early 20th century, and the way Grann lays out the story and surrounding history is masterful. Like, I’m still reeling in awe of his storytelling skills. (Is it too much of a spoiler to say that white colonizers weren’t a good thing for the original inhabitants of this continent?)

Killers of the Flower Moon is being made into a movie directed by Martin Scorsese, which should be coming out next year. And maybe this isn’t a classic holiday gift, but this book is Extremely Recommended Reading. You won’t regret it. Give it to a friend. Read it yourself. Then email me and let’s talk, I have a lot of Thoughts.

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In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

I can’t even remember the last time I read a memoir, but when Mark Teppo showed me this memoir about an emotionally abusive relationship where every chapter is written as a different genre — “The Dream House as Noir,” “The Dream House as Bildungsroman,” etc. — I was fascinated. It’s gorgeously written, and way more of a page-turner than I expected.

Wait — is this not a good gift guide book either? Like, if you give a memoir about an emotionally abusive relationship to a friend, what message will they be thinking you’re trying to send? I’m starting to worry I’m failing at this gift guide thing.

But read this book, it’s awesome. I couldn’t put it down even though — and I can’t stress this enough — it’s a literary memoir. Those usually bore the shit out of me.

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The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls by Mona Eltahawy

Okay we’re back on track here, I promise. Do you have a badass feminist on your holiday shopping list? Get them this book. Mona Eltahawy is a NPR correspondent and generally rad person, and I am totally loving her collection of empowering feminist essays about the traits women are generally expected to have, and what we should embrace instead.

Get angry, murder ladies! Whether you’re navigating the seedy underworld of Luna (or Jade City or Persephone Station), sewing up a rebellion, librarianing mercinarilly, taking down way more than your fair share of serial killers, or just making up for your husband Wayne’s lack of awareness (I SEE YOU CARMEN COLSON, YOU GODDESS), Mona Eltahawy outlines the seven skills you need to dismantle the patriarchy.

Learn them. Internalize them. We ride at midnight.

(Oh hey, men, you’re more than welcome to ride with us! The patriarchy sucks for you, too.)

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Photo by Lucas George Wendt on Unsplash

12 space opera boxed sets for only 99c each!

Whether you’re hunting for a good vacation read or searching for your next favorite series, here’s approximately one zillion pages of adventure! Get your space opera fix for days (weeks? months?) with these incredible 99c boxed set deals.

You’ll find space pirates, space marines, and space gangsters! Rogue AIs, lost fleets, and bounty hunters! Thrilling heroics, exhilarating battles, twisty plots, and dastardly subterfuge!

Every one of these boxed sets is only 99c — and also available in Kindle Unlimited, if that’s your thing.

Dig in and stock up on these incredible deals while they last!

(Note that I’m using affiliate links. 🙂


The Colossus Collection: Books 1-7
by Nicole Grotepas

The City of Jade Spires might look utopian, but it’s certainly no paradise. Just ask Holly Drake, a schoolteacher in prison for killing her husband.

Serving an unfair sentence sucks, but at least she’s safe. That is, until someone exonerates her and she walks free. She has no idea who’d do this for her, until they reveal their hand: they have a job for Holly.

Recognizing her old life is over, she has no other choice. If only she knew how to steal a priceless jewel about to be moved off-planet. But as the screws tighten on her need for cash she remembers just who to ask.

With only days to assemble her crew, she races to stay ahead. The question is: how far across the 6 Moons system will they have to go, and how deep will they have to dig into the underbelly of their world to succeed?

More importantly, can they even pull this off before time runs out?

Buy it now.


Legacy War: The Complete Series
by John Walker

Humanity has long explored mysteries of their past. From the theories of Atlantis to the fabled stories of Greek Gods, most had been dismissed as fantasy and legend. When humanity discovered ‘the Orb’, such fairy tales came a little closer to having some potential truth. Even scratching the surface of the knowledge contained within this ancient technology granted an understanding of faster than light travel and a wild number of other luxuries.

Employing this newfound knowledge, humanity built the Gnosis, a highly advanced starship capable of long range travel and self-sufficient exploration. They would visit other solar systems, departing as pioneers into the unknown. But as excitement built with the people of Earth and the journey drew near, an alien race arrived in Sol, intent on stealing the Orb.

Now, with a hostile first contact initiated, humanity is thrust into universal conflict, one where other beings vie for powerful artifacts spread throughout the galaxy. As they conduct their first interstellar battle, they find themselves drawn into an intrigue they do not understand but must engage for if they do not, they may well face an opponent they cannot defeat.

Buy it now.


The Bulari Saga: Complete Series
by Jessie Kwak

Willem Jaantzen has everything he could ever ask for: his goddaughter is safe, his businesses are thriving, and the upper crust of Bulari seem to have finally forgotten his notorious past. Until, that is, his oldest rival turns up murdered and the blame—and champagne—begins to flow.

It turns out Thala Coeur died as she lived: sowing chaos. And when a mysterious package bearing her call sign shows up on Jaantzen’s doorstep, he and his crew are quickly swallowed up in a web of lies, betrayals, and interplanetary politics.

It’ll only take one stray spark to start another civil war in the underworld, and Jaantzen is the only man who can stop it. If, that is, he’s willing to give up everything he’s worked for.

Buy it now.


Lunara Station: Books 1-3
by Clara Woods

She used to be a wealthy business woman with the gift to control what others think. Until her father started to keep secrets. A carefully crafted plan to uncover his lies fails when smugglers almost kill Lenah in her own house.

With her gift mysteriously failing, she escapes by stealing the smuggler’s old ship. Things only get worse when a cyborg on a personal mission snatches her craft and kidnaps Lenah.

Forced to fly to a dubious planet, Lenah discovers an artifact on board that could unleash galactic catastrophe. And even worse: everyone wants it.

As a chase for the artifact’s secret begins, can Lenah and the cyborg work together and take down a powerful evil to protect humanity?

Buy it now.


Pirates of the Milky Way: Books 1-10
by Jaxon Reed

When the League moves on a golden planet deep inside Republican territory, war breaks out. Competing forms of galactic government fight to the death. AIs strategize, teleporting star fleets and space-based weapons systems across vast distances in an epic interstellar conflict.

Outgunned and desperate for more ships, the Republic turns to privateers, recruiting law-skirting companies from the fabled planet of Lute and offering huge rewards for their service.

One man, Captain Christopher Raleigh, flies the Ultima Mule with a crew of brilliant misfits. Together, they set out to teach the League a lesson or two, and collect multiple bounties along the way.

Buy it now.


The Shadow Order: Complete Series
by Michael Robertson

If there’s a problem in the galaxy no one else can fix, the Shadow Order get a call.

A team pulled together because of their individual talents, the Shadow Order have little time for rest as they embark on one dangerous mission after the next, fighting volatile creatures on hostile planets.

Although when their goals begin to clash with their morals, they start asking questions.

Who are they really working for? What’s the link between the seemingly unrelated missions? Are they the bad guys?

Do they even want to know?

Buy it now.


Hell’s Rejects: Books 1-4
by M.R. Forbes

Lieutenant Abigail Cage never expected to find herself in Hell. There was a time when she was one of the most respected operatives in the military. Now she’s doing hard labor on the most miserable planet in the universe.

Not for long.

The Republic is looking for the most dangerous individuals it can control. The best of the worst, and Abbey is one of them. Joined by the most ragtag collection of criminals the galaxy has to offer, she sets out to recover the ships and take down the traitors who stole them.

There’s only one problem…

A new evil is rising in the galaxy. One with a power unlike anything anyone has ever seen. One that’s been waiting for this moment for a very, very long time. And it wants Abbey too.

Buy it now.


Oblivion: The Complete Series
by Joshua James and Daniel Young

Two decades of bitter war between Earth and her furthest colonies is finally at an end. Captain Lee Saito’s massive new starship is sent to seal the uneasy truce.

But a series of terrorist attacks on Earth and the mysterious acts of a strange cult threaten to derail the fragile peace.

When the mission goes awry, Saito must try to salvage what he can in deep space while his estranged son must navigate a conspiracy back on Earth that could implicate the highest levels of government.

As it all spirals out of control, the future of humanity hangs in the balance.

Buy it now.


Galactic Sentinel: Ultimate Edition
by Killian Carter

Jason Grimshaw has one job. Get the cadets to Colony 115. Just another day. Just another milk run.

Or so he thought.

When scanners pick up an unidentified alien vessel, it’s already too late. With his ship blown out from under him, and his crew scattered across a war-torn planet, his day just keeps getting better. The good news? One of the pilots survived. The bad news? She’s the biggest pain in his ass, and she’s stranded miles away.

When Clio Evans said she wanted to fly for Fleet, crash-landing a starship in hostile territory wasn’t what she had in mind. She may not be the most experienced pilot, but she sure as hell has a few tricks up her sleeve. With an army standing between her and the rest of her crew, she’ll have to pull out all the stops, even if it means exposing a secret that’ll see her hanged for treason.

Buy it now.


Dark Space: The Complete Series
by Jasper T Scott

Freelancer and ex-convict Ethan Ortane is on the run. He owes crime lord Alec Brondi 10,000 sols, and his ship is badly damaged. When Brondi catches up with him, he makes an offer Ethan can’t refuse. Ethan must infiltrate and sabotage the Valiant, the Imperial Star Systems Fleet carrier which stands guarding the entrance of Dark Space, and then his debt will be cleared.

While Ethan is still undecided about what he will do, he realizes that the Imperium has been lying and putting all of Dark Space at risk. Now Brondi’s plan is starting to look like a necessary evil, but before Ethan can act on it, he discovers that the real plan was much more sinister than what he was told, and he will be lucky to escape the Valiant alive.

Buy it now.


The Deep Black: Complete Series
James David Victor

Captain Drummond Bayne is a Navy Ranger tasked with bringing order to the lawless reaches of space. When a simple mission turns deadly, they find themselves navigating space more dangerous than they can imagine. Can they save themselves and uncover a conspiracy that could tear the galaxy apart?

The Deep Black Boxed Set contains the entire Deep Black space opera series. If you like fast paced space adventure, rogue pirates, and stories more complex than good vs. evil, you are going to love your visit to the Deep Black.

Buy it now.


The Pike Chronicles: Books 1-8
by G.P. Hudson

The Sol System was conquered and humans lived as slaves for 500 long years.

Now, after years of brutal warfare, humanity has been liberated. Liberation, however, comes at a cost, and the Sol System has become nothing more than a puppet state for a vast galactic empire.

For Jon Pike, a war hero who has lost everything, there is no substitute for freedom. He blames the aliens for humanity’s troubles, especially the one living inside him.

But when he is sent on a top secret mission into unexplored regions of the galaxy he discovers that humanity’s troubles are just getting started.

Can he find freedom for himself and humanity?

Buy it now.

99c Sci-Fi Boxed Set Sale

A bunch of great space opera and sci-fi authors are offering 99c sales on their boxed sets this month, so I’ve collected as many as I could find here.

Know something else that should be included? Drop a line in the comments.


Athelon (9 books)

By Justin Bell

A routine shuttle trip gone wrong. A young girl submerged into a galactic conflict. A single chance to help win the war.

Get it here.

Beam 3d

The Beam (6 books)

By Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant

When all of humanity is connected, the network is the true power.

Get it here.


Blackbeard (7 books)

By Michael Wallace

The bestselling STARSHIP BLACKBEARD and SENTINEL series: Space battles, alien wars, and interstellar politics.

Get it here.


The Colossus Collection (4 books)

By Nicole Grotepas

Being arrested for murder isn’t so bad. At least she knows the truth.

Get it here.


The Durga System (3 books)

By Jessie Kwak

Jail breaks, heists, and hostile takeovers — they’re ready for it all.

Get it here.


Earth Space Service (9 books)

By James David Victor

Genetically engineered aliens. Hostile encounters. Just another day for the Earth Space Service Marines.

Get it here.

Freedom’s fire

Freedom’s Fire (6 books)

By Bobby Adair

It was never a question of if the aliens would come, it was only ever when.

Get it here.


Galactic Arena (5 books)

By Dan Davis

Earth’s champions must fight for humanity. Until now, our heroes have all been defeated…

Get it here.


Gateway to the Galaxy (9 books)

By Jonathan Yanez and JR Castle

The Arilion Knights have faded to legend. Famed warriors of this galactic order have not been required to fight the darkness in the universe for centuries, until now.

Get it here.


The Lost Starship (3 books)

By Joshua James

Save the cure. Kill the crew. That was the dying order of the captain of the starship Elixr. The ship followed the order. Then it lost its mind.

Get it here.


Outcasts of Earth (3 books)

By James David Victor

Criminals. Murderers. Thieves. That’s what makes the Outcast Marines special. And expendable.

Get it here.


Void Wraith (6 books)

By Chris Fox

Mankind’s outer colonies are disappearing. Without warning. Without a trace. Fleet command chalks the attacks up to pirates, but Captain Dryker of the UFC Johnston isn’t buying it.

Get it here.

Did I miss a 99c sci-fi boxed set sale this month?

Let me know in the comments!

Happy reading,

[Interview] Great Expectations takes to the stars with Kate Sheeran Swed

I’m thrilled to present something a little different today: an interview with fantastic new indie sci-fi author Kate Sheeran Swed. Her first book, Parting Shadows comes out today, and it’s marvelous.


Parting Shadows is the first book in the Toccata System series, a trio of novellas which are all inspired by classic literature — but with Kate’s own unique spin.

I truly loved Parting Shadows. The characters were complex and fascinating, and the setting was rich and deep. Even though we only get a glimpse of the overall universe in this book, I got the sense that we’re barely scratching the surface. I can’t wait to explore more of the Toccata System as the series goes on.

If you’re a fan of science fiction that combines fast-paced plots with beautifully-imagined characters and lovely prose, definitely pick up Parting Shadows.

And at $0.99 for the novella right now, it’s a total steal.

Read on to learn how Kate takes inspiration from classic literature for her sci-fi books, how she incorporates travel into her writing, and more.

Parting Shadows (Toccata System Book 1) 

Raised by a heartsick AI, she’s programmed to kill. And desperate to flee. 

After growing up on an isolated space station, Astra dreams of solid ground. But with an AI guardian plugged into her head–and her nervous system–it’s not like she’s flush with choices.  In fact, she’s got just one: use her training to carry out the rogue AI’s revenge. Her first mission? Assassination. 

When her target flashes a jamming device that would guarantee her escape from the AI’s grasp, Astra sets out to steal it. But the AI’s plans are more dangerous than she suspected. Corrupted by heartbreak, the wayward computer is determined to infect the star system with a new order of digital tyranny. 

Astra’s been raised to care for no one but herself. Now she’ll have to decide if she’s willing to trade the star system’s freedom for her own. 

Parting Shadows is a far-future take on Estella Havisham’s journey in Great Expectations, and the first installment in Kate Sheeran Swed’s Toccata System novella trilogy.

Universal Book Link (ebook) | Your Local Bookstore (print) | Goodreads

Interview with Kate Sheeran Swed

What draws you to writing science fiction?

I actually started writing fantasy, but about the time I wrote my superhero novel (which I’m going to be putting out next year), I started reading more about space. There’s something so mystical about it!

It’s beautiful, but it’s also so dangerous. From here, I’m always looking up at the moon and staring at the stars. I read that Andrew Chaikin book, A Man on the Moon, and I was amazed that we got to the moon when we barely had computers. And when you think about how dangerous it is — I don’t know. It just mystifies me.

And I’m terrified of it! I would never want to go up to space, so I guess that ambiguity between my feelings of being so fascinated and so scared at the same time is what interests me.

The second book in the Toccata System Series starts with Claire standing on the spaceship and just being like, “I’m in a tin can — there’s a really thin wall between me and space, and I hate space.”

You also take a lot of inspiration from the classics, which I love. The inspiration for Parting Shadows was Great Expectations. Can you talk a bit about how that came about? I’m especially curious about how you made the leap from Great Expectations to a heartsick AI, which was brilliant.

The heartsick AI was what made me decide to write the story. Great Expectations is one of my favorite books ever, so I was thinking of writing a novella from Estella’s point of view. I was writing stream of consciousness and picturing this old lady in the Satis House and the creepy wedding feast, and I thought what if Estella’s being raised by a heartsick AI instead of this broken-hearted woman?

What was one of the toughest parts of transcribing the story of Great Expectations into space?

Each of the three books of the Tocatta System Series are inspired by the classics, and for me it’s always how much do I want to stick with the original idea of the story, and how much do I want to leave it? With Parting Shadows, I leave it pretty fast. 

I also was trying to decide if Henry, who is the Pip character, was even going to have a benefactor? In Great Expectations his benefactor is not Miss Havisham, but in this book I decided that had to be SATIS.

I’m sorry if from spoiling that, but it’s a 19th-century novel.

That’s okay. Bad English major confession time, I’ve not actually read Great Expectations. But you can definitely spoil the 19th century novel for me.

[Laughs] I feel like you know pretty early on that Pip’s benefactor is not Miss Havisham. So I played with the idea of it in Parting Shadows

Generally, I decide to leave the classic story as soon as my story become its own. The story decides where it’s going to go. With Parting Shadows I kept the themes, while also trying to let it be it’s own thing — because I wanted it to ultimately be my story.

I do that more and more as the series goes on. Parting Shadows has a little more connection to Great Expectations, and Phantom Song is inspired by Phantom of the Opera. But by the time I get to Darkening Heaven, it just kind of waves at Treasure Island as it sails by. 

In your bio you talk about all the places you’ve traveled around the world. Do you bring any of that to your stories? If so, how?

I feel like Iceland comes in a lot. If I’m ever trying to describe a rugged landscape, or the most beautiful landscape, Iceland comes in. 

But a lot of the time it’s more a feeling of travel, the experience of travel. rather than knowing which specific building might affect a scene. But when I was writing Phantom Song, the second book in the series, I definitely included a bit of Paris. The original Phantom of the Opera is set in Paris, so I drew on things like the Versailles.

Do you often sneak in little references like that in things you write?

Oh, definitely. I sneak in a lot of things, like references to pop culture — you’ll see some references to Marvel movies especially. There’s a Princess Bride reference in one of the books. I try to nod to some of my favorites because it makes me happy to do that. I don’t know if anyone else would ever notice it.

With all your traveling, have you traveled someplace specifically for your writing, or as a literary pilgrimage?

I have been to Charles Dickens house in London, twice. And I have a little silver Charles Dickens from the house. He sits and watches me write — next to Princess Leia.

Those are some good patron saints.

Yes! I also have my little Marvel characters up there, but Princess Leia and Charles Dickens are my favorite.

I like to visit literary people’s homes. In Paris we went by Picasso’s house, and I studied abroad in Lancaster, England, which is up in Lakes District, where Beatrix Potter lived. I also went out to Yorkshire to James Herriot’s veterinary office. It’s a really cool museum, and I stayed in this bed-and-breakfast that actually had little hotel rooms attached to a tavern. I felt like I was in a fantasy novel!

What do you get out of the experience of visiting literary people’s homes?

For James Herriot, that was really neat because he writes about the exact place you’re standing. With Dickens, he’s one of my heroes. So the idea that he was here, that this person was there. . . . The history of it really resonates with me.

Is there anything you’d tell “last year Kate” about how your experience publishing Parting Shadows has been?

I would say, “It can happen.” 

I was looking at my Amazon Author Central page today, and I was like, I have book covers for two out of three of the books that I was just thinking about last year. I had a draft of Parting Shadows at this time last year, but the other two were just ideas.

Now Phantom Song is almost finished. And I have an outline of Darkening Heaven. And I have two short stories that go along with it.

So I guess I would say to Past Kate, “Those books will be out there. You just have to do the work.” 

I’m thrilled that I decided to do this, and it feels like the right thing for me. I’m really happy.

Grab your copy of Parting Shadows here:

Universal Book Link (ebook) | Your Local Bookstore (print) | Goodreads

Looking for Some Hopeful Science Fiction?

Lately, I’ve been in the mood for hopeful science fiction.

Maybe it’s the new year, maybe it’s being in the throes of winter, or maybe it’s just that I’m a bit over SF/F shows and books where everyone stabs everyone else in the back, and the moral is that life’s tough and then you die.

I’m craving hope. Trust. The prevalence of justice. Friendship against all odds.

If you’re craving that as well, this blog post is for you.

These books aren’t necessarily light reads,  but they are the sorts of books where you can expect things to turn out all right at the end. Times may be tough. Hardships may need to be endured. It may be the apocalypse.

But the good guys will probably win, and justice will probably be served.

I’ve included some of my favorite hopeful science fiction books/series here, and I also asked a few friends who are book bloggers/podcasters to help.

If you have any favorites you don’t see on this list, please please let me know in the comments! I love recommendations, so don’t hold ’em back.

Paradox Trilogy by Rachel Aaron

(3-book series)

Paradox Trilogy by Rachel AaronThese books are a ton of fun. Fascinating worlds, a badass main character, and a great will-they-won’t-they love story that races alongside the fast-paced plot.

I devoured this trilogy when I first came across them years ago!

From the description:

If Sigouney Weaver in Alien met Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica, you’d get Deviana Morris — a hot new mercenary earning her stripes to join an elite fighting force. Until one alien bite throws her whole future into jeopardy.

Amazon | IndieBound | Powell’s | Kobo | Nook | iBooks

The Expanse series by James S.A. Corey

(8+ book series)

Expanse by James SA CoreyThe Expanse is another series I fell hard for when I first came across it. If I recall, my husband brought home the first three books as an impulse buy from Powell’s, and we both devoured them, then binged the TV series when it came out.

From the description:

Two hundred years after migrating into space, mankind is in turmoil. When a reluctant ship’s captain and washed-up detective find themselves involved in the case of a missing girl, what they discover brings our solar system to the brink of civil war, and exposes the greatest conspiracy in human history.

Amazon | IndieBound | Powell’s | Kobo | Nook | iBooks

Fallen Empire by Lindsay Buroker

(8-book series)

Fallen empire trilogyI’ve always loved Lindsay Buroker’s writing, and the Fallen Empire series was no disappointment. But what really drew me in was the chemistry of the two main characters, enemies who are forced to work together and eventually develop trust and camaraderie.

From the description:

The Alliance has toppled the tyrannical empire. It should be a time for celebration, but not for fighter pilot Captain Alisa Marchenko. After barely surviving a crash in the final battle for freedom, she’s stranded on a dustball of a planet, billions of miles from her young daughter. She has no money or resources, and there are no transports heading to Perun, her former home and the last imperial stronghold.

But she has a plan.

Steal a dilapidated and malfunctioning freighter from a junkyard full of lawless savages. Slightly suicidal, but she believes she can do it. Her plan, however, does not account for the elite cyborg soldier squatting in the freighter, intending to use it for his own purposes. As an imperial soldier, he has no love for Alliance pilots. In fact, he’s quite fond of killing them.

Alisa has more problems than she can count, but she can’t let cyborgs, savages, or ancient malfunctioning ships stand in her way. If she does, she’ll never see her daughter again.

FYI — the first book is free as an ebook!

Amazon | IndieBound | Kobo | Nook | iBooks

The Indranan War series by K.B. Wagers

(3-book series)

Indranan war trilogyThe instant I saw the cover of Behind the Throne, I desperately wanted to read it. And then I saw this description:

Behind the Throne begins an action-packed new series with a heroine as rebellious as Han Solo, as savvy as Leia, and as skilled as Rey.

Yes, please!

Behind the Throne is dark and violent at times, but what made me love it was the intense bonds of loyalty and trust between the characters. The world may be bleak, but the characters don’t have to face it alone.

Add in a splash of space gangsters, plenty of twisty politics, and detailed descriptions of fashion and meals, and it pretty much hits all my “instant-buy” buttons. So much so that my mom noted Behind the Throne reminded her a lot of my own Durga System books.

Amazon | IndieBound | Powell’s | Kobo | Nook | iBooks

Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers

(3-book series)

Angry planetThe Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers has been making waves for the past few years — and I love this description:

Follow a motley crew on an exciting journey through space—and one adventurous young explorer who discovers the meaning of family in the far reaches of the universe—in this light-hearted debut space opera from a rising sci-fi star.

I have yet to read them, but Cylia Amendolara of BookBarkerSFF highly recommended this series.

Here’s what she had to say:

This is about chosen family (I am a target market for these) and the choices we make when things are hard. It gets to the root of why I love speculative fiction, a fantastic setting to showcase the deep morality of people choosing to do the right thing.

Amazon | IndieBound | Powell’s | Kobo | Nook | iBooks

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

(Standalone novel)

Station ElevenStation Eleven was recommended to me a few years ago by my friend Andrea Rangel, a knitting pattern designer with whom I share a love of good science fiction.

For a novel about the end of the world, it takes a suprisingly optimistic approach about the human capacity to do good in the world, and the importance of art.

I highly recommend it.

From the description:

An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

Amazon | IndieBound | Powell’s | Kobo | Nook

Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente

(Standalone novel)

Space OperaThe first time I saw the cover of Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente, I screamed “Yes!” at my computer. Because I love Valente, and I love Eurovision, and I love a good book title pun.

Space Opera came highly recommended by Cylia Amendolara of BookBarkerSFF. She says:

“Aside from the fact that I did an entire twitter rant on my personal account on why this book is amazing (thread starts here), this book gently feeds you heartbreaking truth and hope in the midst of glitter and pageantry and song (and the possible annihilation of the human race). Cat is a friend and this book is the truest true version of her and I want everyone to love it as much as I love it and her.”

From the description:

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy meets the joy and glamour of Eurovision in bestselling author Catherynne M. Valente’s science fiction spectacle, where sentient races compete for glory in a galactic musical contest…and the stakes are as high as the fate of planet Earth.

(Um, what’s not to love about that?)

Amazon | IndieBound | Powell’s | Kobo | Nook

Waypoint Kangaroo by Curtis Chen

(2-book series)

Waypoint kangaroo

If you’re looking for an incredibly funny romp, may I point you toward Waypoint Kangaroo by Curtis Chen? You’ll find Kangaroo, a quirky, vaguely incompetent super-hero spy, alongside a charming cast of characters committed to saving the world.

Plus, it’ll make you laugh out loud.

(Oh! And Curtis has cleverly designed a puzzle into the cover — can you solve it?)

From the description:

Kangaroo isn’t your typical spy. Sure, he has extensive agency training, access to bleeding-edge technology, and a ready supply of clever (to him) quips and retorts. But what sets him apart is “the pocket.” It’s a portal that opens into an empty, seemingly infinite, parallel universe, and Kangaroo is the only person in the world who can use it. But he’s pretty sure the agency only keeps him around to exploit his superpower.

After he bungles yet another mission, Kangaroo gets sent away on a mandatory “vacation:” an interplanetary cruise to Mars. While he tries to make the most of his exile, two passengers are found dead, and Kangaroo has to risk blowing his cover. It turns out he isn’t the only spy on the ship–and he’s just starting to unravel a massive conspiracy which threatens the entire Solar System.

Now, Kangaroo has to stop a disaster which would shatter the delicate peace that’s existed between Earth and Mars ever since the brutal Martian Independence War. A new interplanetary conflict would be devastating for both sides. Millions of lives are at stake.

Weren’t vacations supposed to be relaxing?

Amazon | IndieBound | Powell’s | Kobo | Nook | iBooks

The Murderbot Diaries by Marsha Wells

(4-book series)

MurderbotFor as grim as the title sounds, the Murderbot novellas are truly delightful. The story is told from the point of view of a bored SecUnit who’s hacked its governor module after a traumatic last mission, and who’s determined to keep its humans safe this time around.

Though, it’d much prefer if its humans would just stop doing stupid things so it could watch its soaps instead.

If you haven’t met the Murderbot yet, please allow it to charm you to bits.

From the description:

“As a heartless killing machine, I was a complete failure.”

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid – a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.

Amazon | IndieBound | Powell’s | Kobo | Nook | iBooks

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

(5-book series)

hitchhikersLevi Ergott of book review site Epic Grit recommended one of my favorite science fiction series from when I was a college student — if you haven’t already read The Hitchhiker’s Guide, I really recommend you put it on your list.

As Levi says:

“So Adams is pretty cynical, and Earth is blown up in the beginning of the book; but there is a hopeful message despite all of that. With determination, a positive mindset, and a whole lot of highly improbable luck you can fix anything.”

Plus, you’ll learn where all the dolphins went, what to take with you at the end of the world, and what might go through the mind of a bowl of petunias during its final moments.

Oh — and the answer to the question of life, the universe, and everything.

Amazon | IndieBound | Powell’s | Kobo | Nook | iBooks

The Martian by Andy Weir

(Standalone novel)

MartianThis last recommendation comes from Luke Elliott, co-host of the Ink to Film Podcast, a fantastic podcast where writer Luke Elliott and filmmaker James Bailey discuss science fiction and fantasy books along with their film adaptations.

(They have an excellent few episodes where they dissect The Godfather with Fonda Lee, author of Jade City.)

Though Luke admitted to me that he loves grimdark, he says of The Martian, “It’ll leave you feeling optimistic about the future of space-travel and the human spirit!”

Levi Ergott of Epic Grit also recommended The Martian as “one of the latest and greatest takes on the modernist vision — science, human ingenuity, and force of will overcoming all obstacles.”

Amazon | IndieBound | Powell’s | Kobo | Nook | iBooks

Still looking for hopeful science fiction?

Durga Novella CoversMight I humbly suggest you take a look at my Durga System books? They’re full of plucky protagonists, found family, conflicted people making tough choices, rollicking adventures, delicious food, and — of course — plenty of gunfights and explosions.

And you can trust that everyone’s got each others’ backs.

For even more good book recommendations, please also follow the bloggers/podcasters who helped me out with this list!

Cylia Amendolara — BookBarkerSFF (Twitter | Instagram)

Levi Ergott — Epic Grit

Luke Elliott — Ink to Film Podcast

Got hopeful sci-fi recommendations of your own? Leave them in the comments!

Nerdy Sewing + Win a Copy of The Expanse: Leviathan Wakes

Have you been reading The Expanse series, or watching the show on SyFy? 

I love it. 

I love tight focus on the characters, the action and adventure, the moral choices, the plucky team who’s got each others’ backs — all of it. 


But most of all I love the unrelenting sense of optimism in this series. Yes, people can be terrible to one another. Yes, we make mistakes. Yes, there are horrible tragedies in the world. But rather than going in the direction of grimdark nihilism (think Altered Carbon or Game of Thrones), The Expanse makes you feel like there’s still hope in the world.

Basically, these are the sorts of books I hope I’m writing. 

So when I was asked to participate in a promotion where we picked a best-selling book to give away, I knew I had to pick Leviathan Wakes.

You can enter to win an ebook copy of Leviathan Wakes here.

Get your e-reader into uniform

This isn’t entirely book related, but I suspect you’re the sorts of folks who like nerdy things.

Behold: my latest sewing obsession. Kindle/e-reader covers inspired by Star Trek: The Next Generation uniforms. 

Three kindle covers designed to look like Star Trek uniforms: Red, blue, yellow.

I whipped up a few this week as a relaxing break from staring at computers, and they’re surprisingly fun to make! They’re lined with merino wool knit jersey and nice fluffy batting to give them some padding, then finished with a bright gold button. 

(I was too impatient and took this photo before sewing buttons on the red and yellow.)

The blue one is for me, since I always figured I’d be a science officer. And I heart Beverly Crusher.

What do you think?

Ridiculous? Fun? 

Should I make up a few more and throw them up for sale on my website?

Let me know!

For Your To-Be-Read List

Trail of Lightening by Rebecca Roanhorse


(I actually attempted to pre-order this book THREE TIMES because every time I saw someone tweet about it I thought OMG I need to read that. Amazon kindly reminded me each time that I’d already ordered it. 

When it finally showed up on my Kindle, I devoured it, then bought a paperback copy at WorldCon in hopes that I’d meet Rebecca and get her to sign it. Unfortunately, I didn’t meet her. But what I’m saying here is this book is good. The sort of unique story you don’t see every day, populated by characters that remind me of my friends and neighbors — way more than the European epic fantasy I read as a kid ever did. I wish teenaged Jessie had had this book.) 

While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters.

Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last best hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much more terrifying than anything she could imagine.

Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel the rez, unraveling clues from ancient legends, trading favors with tricksters, and battling dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology.

As Maggie discovers the truth behind the killings, she will have to confront her past if she wants to survive.

Welcome to the Sixth World.

Find it on AmazonKoboBarnes & Noble

Oh, and thanks for WorldCon!

A huge thank you to everyone who stopped to see me at the booth at WorldCon.

(Missed it? Here’s a bigger version of the photo in the header — the booth was gorgeous!)

I sold a ton of copies of books, met a bunch of fellow book-lovers, stayed out way too late with new friends, and in general had a great time.

If you’re in Portland, I’d love to see you September 27th at Mother Foucault’s Bookshop, where I’ll be doing a reading at 6pm.

Happy reading!

Writing a World in Glimpses

Two years ago, I wrote the short story that gave me my first glimpse into the Durga System. (It was published in the second volume of Bikes in Space, a fantastic series of feminist bicycle science fiction edited by Elly Blue.)

In that story, Willem Jaantzen was the villain — but as I expanded on the premise of the original short story I became more and more fascinated by him and his crew.

(If you’ve read Starfall, you’ve been introduced to Starla already; if you’ve read Negative Return you’ve gotten to meet Manu.)

Since those books came out, I’ve written another novella, a novel, and a short story — all set in the same world. Each dips into Willem Jaantzen’s story, especially exploring his relationship with his goddaughter, Starla Dusai. 

Writing these books has been like solving a puzzle. The entire world is one massive picture, and every book or story lets me shine a light on another small portion of that picture. 

And, believe me — I hear my readers! I read the reviews that say “I want more story!”

I’ll be releasing more stories soon. 🙂

Ultimately, my goal is to structure the Durga System books like this: one central series of full-length novels centered around Jaantzen and his crew, bolstered by a constellation of character-specific novellas and short stories that shine the flashlight on fascinating parts of the picture that aren’t within the scope of the main series.

One such story that’s just come to light is the moment that Willem Jaantzen meets Starla’s parents, the famed space pirates Raj and Lasadi Dusai.

When I was asked to write an exclusive short story as part of a giveaway (more on that in a second), I knew that was the story I wanted to write.


“Rogue” takes place many, many years before Starfall, when Jaantzen is just getting his feet underneath him.

A tricky job is starting to go south — and it only gets worse when he comes face-to-face with the most notorious space pirates in the Durga System.

Of course, every story I write introduces me to new facets of the world that I’d like to explore. After writing “Rogue,” I’m beginning to suspect I may have to write a side series featuring Raj and Lasadi’s adventures aboard the Nanshe

Stay tuned — more Durga System stories are imminent. In my next post I’ll be revealing the cover of my next novella, Deviant Flux!

“Rogue” is available for a limited time as part of the Distant Worlds Giveaway over at Bookwrapt through the end of August. Go get it before it’s gone!

For Your To-Be-Read List

An Oath of Dogs


by Wendy Wagner

(I recently devoured this fantastic far-future colony adventure with a dash of mystery by local Portland author and all-around delightful human, Wendy Wagner.)  

Kate Standish has been on the forest-world of Huginn less than a week and she’s already pretty sure her new company murdered her boss. But the little town of mill workers and farmers is more worried about eco-terrorism and a series of attacks by the bizarre, sentient dogs of this planet, than a death most people would like to believe is an accident. That is, until Kate’s investigation uncovers a conspiracy which threatens them all.

Find it on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound

Happy Birthday, Negative Return!

It’s been over a year since I released Negative Return.

While I had hoped to have less of a gap in my publishing schedule this time around, part of the reason for the delay is that I’m saving up my words to give you something really exciting later this year.

I’m not yet ready to announce release dates, but I do have another Durga System novella and three full-length novels in the works for sometime in the winter.

You’ll be hearing more over the next few months as I get things finalized and can share bits of books with you. (Stay tuned for a cover reveal for the next novella, Deviant Flux — I just saw the final design, and it’s amazing!)

One other thing I’m doing to prepare for the launch is trying to get the existing Durga System books into the hands as many readers as possible. I ran a sale on Starfall a few months ago, and now it’s Negative Return’s time to shine.


Get Negative Return for $0.99

What readers are saying about Negative Return:

“…another expertly blended mix of crime story and science fiction.”

“I love the characters, and can’t wait for more.”

“Best single word description – unputdownable!”

Amazon | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | More store

Oh, and one more thing…

Reviews are critical in helping readers discover books by indie authors. If you’ve read Starfall or Negative Return and want to share the love (and make sure I can keep writing more in the series!), please leave a review. 

Thank you so much!

For Your To-Be-Read List

Bikes Not Rockets


edited by Elly Blue

*Note — I’ve had stories in several of the Bikes in Space series. In fact, one story inspired the Durga System series! I don’t have a story in this volume, but it will be very worth checking out. 

Bikes Not Rockets
 is the fifth volume of the feminist bicycle science fiction series, Bikes in Space. Featuring 12 works by talented writers and artists, you’ll find a wide range of perspectives and visions.

The common theme among all of the stories is the bicycles that propel all these protagonists towards and through major turning points in their lives (and the universe!).

Preorder your copy on Kickstarter!

Nepenthe Rising


by John Triptych

In the far future, two major factions are locked in a galactic cold war. As tensions mount between the technocratic Union and the genome-harnessing Concordance, both sides anxiously watch for a chance to conquer the other.

The Nepenthe is a pirate vessel, loyal to neither. Led by the enigmatic Captain Dangard, her rough and ready crew includes the cat-like alien Commander Creull, Zeno the immortal synthetic, the dashing Garrett Strand, and Duncan Hauk, a promising young recruit. 

Hired by a cryptic employer, the crew waylays a transport ship carrying a mysterious passenger. In due time, this incident sparks the beginnings of an interstellar conflict that could threaten the state of known space.



by S.J. Bryant

For eons a dark force has lurked inside Archalon, waiting.

In 2354 the Confederacy set it free. Now the alien uprising is imminent and there’s only one person left to stop it.

Nova goes where others dare not. She shoots first, talks little, and carries a chip on her shoulder the size of Boullion 5. Her reckless courage is all that stands between the Ancients and the annihilation of the human race.

Fear the hero who has nothing left to lose.

If you love science fiction, don’t miss out on this action-packed adventure!

Get it on AmazonKobo, Nook

Summer Shenanigans

Last weekend, I went with some girlfriends to Tillamook, Oregon for a getaway weekend. If you’ve never been to Tillamook, it’s best known for its dairy industry — so of course we visited Blue Heron creamery to sample delicious brie and feed the animals.

(That’s me as a bull above, with my friend and fellow author Alexis, writing as Alexis Radcliff, as a peacock. Photo by Kristin Koontz.)

I find summers fun, but exhausting. While Portland winters are designed for hunkering down and getting work done, as soon as we get our stretch of rain-free summer days we try to pack in as much as possible.

In July I have two family reunions, two groups of friends/family coming to visit us in Portland, and of course all the impromptu barbecues, bike rides, and trips to the river that are bound to happen. 

As a self-employed writer, it can be hard to find balance in the summer. On the one hand, so long as I turn in client work on time I can get the work done wherever. Because my client work load tends to be lighter in the summer, I can be more flexible and take advantage of all the fun. 

On the other hand, it can be incredibly hard to simply relax without feeling like I should be working harder. If I blow off early on a Friday I’m basically playing hooky alongside the most demanding boss ever (me).

Anyhow, all that to say that summer is here in the Pacific NW, and it’s going to be glorious and frenetic and exhausting and fun. 

What have you got planned?

Writing update

Summer will inevitably put a dent in my fiction writing productivity, but I do still have goals! I’m still drafting the sequel novella to Starfall, which is very close to being finished. It’ll be called Deviant Flux.

And I’m also working on a special Durga System short story (working title is Rogues), which will be available next month as part of a very cool giveaway. Keep your eyes peeled!

For your To-Be-Read list

Summer reading for me is all about books that completely absorb me. I tend to read a lot of thrillers and mysteries in summer for that reason, and it’s even more fun when I can find a sci-fi mystery!

I recently picked up Mur Lafferty’s Six Wakes on the virtue of the cover and tag line alone, and I’m so into it. Six criminal clones alone on a space ship, all woken at the same time to the grisly murder scene of their past bodies, a crime which they now have to solve? Yes, please!

You should also check out Alexis Radcliff’s A Vanishing Glow. Longtime newsletter readers may remember that Alexis and I launched our first books (A Vanishing Glow and Shifting Borders) together. It’s a dark fantasy with an excellent thread of mystery and great characters!

Six Wakes


by Mur Lafferty

In this Hugo nominated science fiction thriller by Mur Lafferty, a crew of clones awakens aboard a space ship to find they’re being hunted-and any one of them could be the killer.

Maria Arena awakens in a cloning vat streaked with drying blood. She has no memory of how she died. This is new; before, when she had awakened as a new clone, her first memory was of how she died.

Maria’s vat is one of seven, each one holding the clone of a crew member of the starship Dormire, each clone waiting for its previous incarnation to die so it can awaken. And Maria isn’t the only one to die recently…

Find it on Amazon, Kobo, IndieBound

A Vanishing Glow


by Alexis Radcliff

The king is dying, and the fate of the realm rests in the hands of four people: A young, idealistic prince, a rugged soldier from the borderlands, an ingenious runaway inventor, and a mad, brilliant wizard who brought his magic-fueled machines to a world that was hardly ready for them.

Intrigue is rampant, and trust is in short supply…

When a brutal murder rocks the foundations of the kingdom, only one man has the skills to bring the killer to justice. With sword and musket in tow, he digs through the guts of the seedy underworld to find not only the assassin, but also the name of the smiling nobleman who ordered his friend’s death.

Find it on Amazon