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A Christmas Cactus for the General

by Angel Martinez

Book Cover: A Christmas Cactus for the General

Exiled to Earth for perhaps the worst failure in Irasolan history, General Teer must assimilate or die. Earth is too warm, too wet, too foreign, but he does the best he can even though human males are loud, childish louts whom he can't imitate successfully. When a grieving seaplane pilot strikes up a strange and uneasy friendship with him, he finds he may have been too quick to judge human males. They are strange to look at, but perhaps not as unbearable as he thought.

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Publisher: Mischief Corner Books
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So much water. General Teer checked the boards again, but he had read his instruments correctly. In the entire vast universe, there were bound to be planets such as this one, but his Irasolan brain refused to accept it. So much water.

Granted, much of it was saline, but those huge salt-laden expanses drove weather patterns. There would be rain more than once every few years. Enough rain that plants grew on the surface, huge plants in some cases, the likes of which he could not have imagined in dreams.

Oxygen levels ran a bit high, the average temperature too warm for comfort. I have only two choices remaining, though: acclimate or die. Perhaps it would be better…

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No. His Exalted Keeropness had taken that from him. Denied an honorable execution and sent into exile, his last shred of honor would burn in the winds of this alien sun if he took his life now. No one would know, of course. Still, the idea was too repugnant to entertain for more than a moment.

Teer tapped into the record pod to send his final message home. "I, General Teer of the Second Horath, hero of the Violet Day Offensive, acknowledge my arrival in orbit around the planet of exile. I confirm that I have no knowledge of this system's coordinates. My stasis sleep remained uninterrupted throughout transit. I failed you, Karet. For that, I am deeply sorry. For the good of the people and the Keerop, I resign myself to this uncharted gravity well. May the mother of seeds have mercy on me."

With a sharp hiss, the landing pod closed around him, molding to his body so tightly he felt he would suffocate until the inner membrane began to feed him oxygen in little sips, just enough to keep him alive. The edges of his vision darkened. It was better to make these pod flights half-conscious.

The words of an old spacer's prayer whispered in his head as the pod launched. I step out of the great night into the unknown. May the gravity pit's clutching embrace leave me breath and bone.

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Reviews:PizzyGirl on Prism Book Alliance wrote:

5/5

I really enjoyed this story and found myself smiling more often than not. I connected emotionally with both Bruce and Teer. I loved their story. The way they each dealt with grief and the friendship and easy camaraderie that naturally formed between the two. I loved Teer’s perspective on humans and Earth. His outlook was often humorous though he did not mean to be. His understanding of human traditions was a subtle or maybe not so subtle way for the author to point out the absurdities in some of the ways things are done without being disrespectful to those readers who follow those customs. Bravo Ms. Martinez. Finally, I loved the ending. It was perfectly beautiful.


About the Author

The unlikely black sheep of an ivory tower intellectual family, Angel Martinez has managed to make her way through life reasonably unscathed. Despite a wildly misspent youth, she snagged a degree in English Lit, married once and did it right the first time, gave birth to one amazing son, and realized at some point that she could get paid for writing.

Published since 2006, Angel’s cynical heart cloaks a desperate romantic. You’ll find drama and humor given equal weight in her writing and don’t expect sad endings. Life is sad enough.

She currently lives in Delaware in a drinking town with a college problem and writes Science Fiction and Fantasy centered around gay heroes.


The Autumn Lands

by J. Scott Coatsworth

Book Cover: The Autumn Lands
Editions:Kindle - First Edition: $ 3.99 USD
ISBN: B01APHN02W
Pages: 178
Paperback - First Edition: $ 8.99 USD
ISBN: 978-1523419227
Pages: 178
Audiobook - First Edition: $ 14.95 USD
ISBN: B01IAEO2PQ
Pages: 178

Jerrith is running. Kissed by an elf, he can’t remain in his hometown of Althos any more. Not that he wanted to stay.

Caspian still hasn’t figured out why he kissed Jerrith, but he’s running too. Since he was exiled from the Autumn Lands, his past has been hazy, and his future uncertain.

But when a stray memory brings things into focus, the two decide to run toward something together. What they uncover will change how they see the world, and themselves, forever.

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In the end, Jerrith took off his shirt and wrapped his body around Cas’s gingerly. They lay together on the blanket for a long while, looking out over the lights of the valley and the spray of stars high above. The golden moon had set, and a cool breeze blew up from the Red Hills.

Cas was momentarily at peace for the first time in as long as he could remember. He’d lost track of the time he’d spent with the caravan, days that had rolled into weeks, weeks into months and more. It was close-on two years since he’d been exiled by his father, the King, from the Autumn Lands.

His back itched, but he’d learned to ignore that by now.

Jerrith seemed to notice, though. He pulled away to stare at Cas’s back, his warm hand feeling the nubs there. “What are these?” he asked, and Cas felt a shiver of pleasure go through him at the man’s warm touch.

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“That’s where my wings used to be,” he said softly, and squeezed his eyes shut. The darkness swelled in his chest again and threatened to overwhelm him. He could still feel the pain from when they had been cut off, at the order of his father. That he remembered. He pushed the darkness back down, and glimpsed something, almost lost in the pain. A strange wisp of a memory of his wings being removed, not cut off, crossed his mind. He shook his head to clear it and turned to look at Jerrith, sitting up behind him.

Jerrith’s face was drawn tight in a mixture of confusion and concern. “Wings?” he said, his brow furrowed. “You had wings?”

Cas nodded, sitting up. He was totally at ease with Jerrith, as if they had known each other forever, even though they’d only met hours before. It was a strange but pleasant feeling. “All of the Nevris are born with wings. You didn’t know?” There was something wrong with that statement, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it.

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Reviews:Alexander on Love Bytes wrote:

The world building was well done, enough clear descriptions to allow my imagination to fill any gaps, and the science fiction elements were kept relatively clean and simple, which worked well in terms of ease of reading, and not to give anything away, but I did not see the story ending like it did, although once the final act had been played out, it made perfect sense, and I commend Coatsworth for that “wow” moment.

I really enjoyed Bastian’s narration of the story, how he brought such life to the characters as they undertook their forced journey back to The Autumn Lands. The characterization were distinctive and consistent, Bastian voice was, in my opinion, a great choices, as one of my pet peeves is when the narrator does not match the characters in therms of age / tone. On the technical side, I was pleased with the consistent and appropriate pace and clear diction, which made the story a pleasure to listen to.

I will definitely re-listen to The Autumn Lands and will search out more books by Coatsworth.


About the Author

Scott has been writing since elementary school, when he and won a University of Arizona writing contest in 4th grade for his first sci fi story (with illustrations!). He finished his first novel in his mid twenties, but after seeing it rejected by ten publishers, he gave up on writing for a while.

 

Over the ensuing years, he came back to it periodically, but it never stuck. Then one day, he was complaining to Mark, his husband, early last year about how he had been derailed yet again by the death of a family member, and Mark said to him "the only one stopping you from writing is you."

 

Since then, Scott has gone back to writing in a big way. He has sold more than a dozen short stories - some new, some that he had started years before. He is currenty working on two sci fi trilogies, and also runs the Queer Sci Fi (https://www.queerscifi.com) site, a group for readers and writers of gay sci fi, fantasy, and paranormal fiction.