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Announcement: Earthshatter, by Albert Nothlit

EarthshatterQSFer Albert Nothlit has a new sci fi book out:

The world is gone. All that’s left are the monsters.

The creatures attacked Haven VII with no warning. An AI named Kyrios, a nearly omnipotent being, should have protected the city during the Night of the Swarm.

Except It didn’t.

No one knows why It failed, or why It saved eight specific people: the Captain, the Seer, the Sentry, the Messenger, the Engineer, the Alchemist, the Medic, and the Stewardess. They have no idea of the meaning behind the titles they’ve been given, why they were selected and brought together, or what Kyrios expects from them. When they awake from stasis, they find their city in ruins and everyone long dead. They’re alone—or so they think. But then the creatures start pouring out from underground, looking for them. They don’t stand a chance in a fight, and with limited supplies, they can’t run forever. All they know is that the creatures aren’t their only enemies, and there’s only one place they can turn. Kyrios beckons them toward Its Portal, but can It be trusted? In Its isolated shrine in the desert, they might find the answers they need—if they can survive long enough to reach it.


Excerpt

February 21

9:55: Fifteen hours to the Night of the Swarm.
Dex and Alain
Psychiatry Wing, Electorate Research Compound
Haven VII

DEX LIKED being in the mental asylum, even if he couldn’t get out.

At least here he was away from everyone else. It had been much harder before, when he’d had to go to school, when his parents had insisted he spend more time with the other kids. They hadn’t understood why he couldn’t be near other people—and neither had he, not until he became older and realized no one was quite like him. Nobody felt the way he did. Nobody saw… not really.

So when Dex’s parents had finally given up and sent him here, he had been glad. He’d been ten at the time. Now he was fourteen. Here in the Psychiatry Wing, he had finally known relief. He was alone most of the time, and that was good. He only spoke regularly with two people: Agnes, the young nurse who brought him his food and medication, and Alain, who visited two or three times a week, depending on how busy he was. Lately he’d been coming less often, though. Maybe it was because most of his time was now spent in the Medicine Sector with the rest of the undergraduates. Or maybe he just didn’t like coming anymore.

Dex shook his head. He knew that wasn’t true; Alain loved visiting. He was the one person Dex could be himself with, and he was certain the feeling was mutual. If he didn’t come as often, it was because becoming a doctor was hard work. Dex had never told Alain, but he suspected the reason his older brother had enrolled in a medical career was a not-so-hidden wish to help find out what was wrong with Dex’s mind.

Dex smiled in his cell. The doctors who came sometimes would have figured it out long ago, too, if they had been willing to accept that there were things their science had yet to catch up with. Just because you can’t explain something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

“Dexter Fournier, you have a visitor,” a disembodied voice called.

Dex stood up and stretched, smiling. He had been thinking about Alain, and now he was here. Or was Alain here because he had been thinking about him? Sometimes he couldn’t tell the difference anymore.

He walked in small, precise circles around his room as he waited for Alain to come up. It usually took fifty-three steps from the time they announced him to the time he came in. Fifty-one. Fifty-two. Fifty—

The door opened.

“Hey, Dex! What’s up?”

“Hi, Alain.”

“Hey, you really have to open the windows in here from time to time. What’s the point in you getting the deluxe suite if you’re not going to take advantage of it? The view is supposed to be great.”

“Suite?”

Alain shrugged. “Sure, why not? It’s all in the eye of the beholder.”

Dex nodded faintly. He let Alain stomp into the cell and open the windows. He did not point out that he would have liked to open them himself, but the latch was set too high for him to reach unless he jumped on his bed, and he didn’t like to do that. Alain was more than a head taller than Dex, though, and he didn’t notice the height problem. He probably thought everybody should be as tall as he was.

Alain gave the glass a shove, and nice morning air filtered through. Outside, the sky was a bright blue. This part of the compound was set right at the edge of the city, and Dex’s window had a nice view of the wastes beyond. Dex sometimes dreamed of running outside in that arid desolation, away from the world. He knew he would die very quickly if he actually did it, but the idea was somehow comforting.

Alain snapped his fingers, smiling. “Hey, Dex, don’t zone out on me. I can hardly squeeze enough time out of my schedule to come see you, and I want to make the most of it.”

“Sorry,” Dex said. He sometimes forgot normal people spent most of their time talking, not thinking.

Alain plopped down on the bed and threw him a pillow. “No, you’re not sorry. You love to be off in your own little world, and you know it.”

Dex grinned. It was so easy to be with his brother. Anyone looking at them would probably think they couldn’t be more different, but that was just on the surface. They looked different, but they kind of thought alike.

Alain was really athletic, for starters. He was only twenty, but he had tried his hand at most professional sports around Haven VII and succeeded at nearly all of them. He was no prodigy, but he had an iron determination that usually got him what he wanted. Once he had even told Dex he had been invited to play in a Torus Racing exhibition match in Haven Prime. Alain had turned the invite down at the last minute, though. He had never said why.

Alain’s skin, though naturally pale, had a healthy tan because he spent so much time outdoors. Dex knew he was popular with the girls, and he certainly had the looks for it. His face was edgy, so well-proportioned it looked chiseled by some sculptor, and his deep blue eyes had a haunting quality about them. He wore his hair at medium length but with an asymmetric style that left it a bit longer on one side than on the other. There were always a few strands falling over his forehead, covering his eyes. His hair was raven black, almost blue when the light was right. Even now, with slight dark circles under his eyes from lack of sleep and too much studying, Alain managed to look good.

Dex was his polar opposite in looks. He was thin, frail looking even. His skin had never felt that much sunlight, and he had a deathly pallor that made him look like he had some kind of chronic illness. His hair, when he had had any, had been light brown. Now he always shaved his head—it saved time otherwise spent in combing, and besides, some of the pills Agnes gave him knocked patches of hair off anyway.

Alain had once told Dex he had weird-looking eyes. Maybe it was true. They were a light gray color that could almost look white at times. He had perpetual dark circles under his eyes, but they didn’t make him look interesting like Alain’s. Just tired. And weak. He wasn’t short, and he wasn’t even done growing yet, but he knew Alain was always going to be the taller of the two. Still, he didn’t mind looking the way he did. Dex knew that was the way people expected him to look. The poor, helpless crazy boy. Look at him. He needs help. In truth, he didn’t need anybody’s help. And he was stronger than even Alain suspected.


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Author Bio

Albert Nothlit wanted to become a writer long before he realized it was his way of connecting with others. There is something special in reaching out through words that carry a piece of his soul, and there is nothing better for him than hearing back from readers. It turns the product of what can be a very individual-centered profession into a shared experience, a chance to talk, to grow, and share. He firmly believes that the desire to create new worlds out of thoughts, memories, and emotions speaks to a greater truth within him. He still hasn’t figured out what that is, though. It’s going to take a lot more meditation, for which he unfortunately has no patience. He only knows that books changed his life, and that brightening someone else’s day with a story is the highest accomplishment he can think of achieving.

Albert currently lives in Mexico City, where he has somewhat reluctantly gotten used to the crowds. He shares a home with his husband and their sassy little dog named Link. His two other passions are gaming and running, although not games involving running because those can be boring. His favorite games are RPGs, and one of his guilty pleasures is watching eSports in pubs whenever the opportunity arises. He has an MSc in Environmental Engineering, which has turned out to be surprisingly helpful in creating postapocalyptic science-fiction worlds. Not that he thinks that an apocalypse is unavoidable. He is a secretly hopeful man who thinks the future will be better—just no flying cars. Imagine the safety hazards.

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