QSFer Stephen Graham King has a new sci fi book out:
Equal parts troubleshooters and troublemakers, Keene and Lexa-Blue, along with the sentient ship, Maverick Heart, have been known to solve a problem or two. For the right price, that is. But even they aren’t prepared for a desperate summons from a love Keene thought long past. For Daevin Adisi is now the Technarch of Brighter Light, one of the Pan Galactum’s most profitable corporate colony states, which teeters on the brink of war with Sotari, descendants of a people changed by nanogenetic experimentation. Seeking only to live a quiet, simple life free of the technology they blame for the worst part of their history, Sotari has struggled to co-exist with Brighter Light, a constant reminder of their own dark past.
And now, the uneasy truce has finally crumbled. In his last ditch attempt to save their world, Daevin has called upon Keene to help him finally bring peace.
Stephen is giving away one copy of his first novel, Chasing Cold – comment on this blog post for a chance to win. Be sure to include your email address!
Keene found him in a bar deep within the Grift, hunched over a quisling table in the back. He fugued, and the image Zyd had provided appeared before his eyes, the smoky, cramped room blurring behind it. Though the light from the game grid cast dramatic shadows on the man, the face matched. Definitely Nord, Keene thought, watching him down a shot then give a nervous wave of the empty glass to call for another.
Keene ‘pushed a drink order to the bar’s system, found a booth with a good view of Nord’s table, and took in the sad sameness of the bar while he waited. He’d seen a thousand others like it, in a thousand other Grifts around a thousand other spaceports across the Galactum. Deevee panes floated in air clotted with the spicy-sweet haze of fizzstick smoke, streaming wagers and odds on everything from races to sporting events to the games happening at the tables themselves. Underneath it all, Keene could hear the barely audible whisper of cards and the click of Slapjack tiles on the hard tabletops
*Got him in my sights, Blue, positive ID. Zyd’s intel is solid.* He looked in Nord’s direction, opened his node and ‘pushed the image to her as a server dropped off his drink.
*Good* Her satisfaction caressed his node. *I’m on my way. Mark him and wait for me.*
*Will do* Watching Nord, he took a sip of his cider, and it fizzed on his tongue. Not bad for a place like this, he thought. Too bad he wasn’t planning on drinking it.
He reached into his pocket for the tracer tablet, dropped it into his glass, and watched it dissolve into a pillar of whitish bubbles and disappear. He clutched the glass, took a breath to steady himself and focus, then eyed the mass of people between him and Nord. Seeing an opening, he ‘pushed to reserve his table and stood.
He wormed his way through the crowd, keeping the glass above his head to protect the contents. With the same honed skill he used to gauge weight distributions and lading of cargo, he calculated the distance he had to cross, the mark he needed to hit, how he needed to stumble, and just the right tone of embarrassed apology in his voice.
A gap opened in the crowd just where he needed to be. He moved left into the sudden void and was directly in front of Nord’s table. He shifted his body weight and stumbled into a short, doughy-looking man concentrating on a screen. Keene’s glass fell from his hands and hit the floor near Nord’s feet, the marked cider fanning out in a sheet under the table.
Nord started to rise, but Keene put a hand on his skinny shoulder, applying just enough pressure to keep the smaller man seated without him realizing he was pinned. Keene grabbed a napkin from the table and wiped at the frayed hem of Nord’s coat for cider stains that weren’t actually there.
“Shit, I’m sorry. I can’t believe I did that. Someone knocked my arm. What a waste of good tope, eh?”
Nord gave an irritated shake of his head. “Never mind. No damage done. Forget about it.”
“Thanks, man, really.” Keene shifted and saw Nord’s shoes planted firmly in the puddle of cider, drops spattered across the toes. He smiled down at Nord. “You enjoy the games, my friend.”
He turned and walked back to his booth, a half smile on his face. He settled back into the seat again, and ordered another cider.
*Marked and ready. I’ll wait for you here.*
He felt Lexa-Blue enter the bar shortly after that, the sensation in his mind like a shift in atmospheric pressure. He kept his eyes on Nord as he felt her make her way through the crowd to him. He knew she was in the booth with him an instant before he felt the seat shift under her weight.
“Hey, trader, wanna get squishy?”
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Born on the prairies, Stephen Graham King has since traded the big sky for the big city and now lives in Toronto. His first book, Just Breathe, tells the blunt, funny, and uncompromising story of his three-year battle with metastatic synovial sarcoma. Since then, his short fiction has appeared in the anthologies North of Infinity II (“Pas de Deux”), Desolate Places(“Nor Winter’s Cold”) and Ruins Metropolis (“Burning Stone”). His first novel, Chasing Cold, was released in 2012.
He is also an artist, working primarily in acrylics, but also dabbling in photography. He also loves to cook, so if you ask very, very nicely, he might make you dinner. More about his writing and art, as well as some of his favorite recipes, can be found on his website, http://stephengrahamking.com