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New Release: Mercury Rising – R.W.W. Greene

New Release: Mercury Rising - R.W.W. Greene

QSFer R.W.W. Greene has a new queer alt-history sci-fi book out: Mercury Rising.

Alternative history with aliens, an immortal misanthrope and SF tropes aplenty

The year is 1975 – Robert Oppenheimer has invented the Atomic Engine, the first human has walked on the moon, and Jet Carson and the Eagle Seven have sacrificed their lives to stop alien invaders.

Brooklyn, however, just wants to keep his head down, pay his mother’s rent, earn a little scratch of his own, and maybe get laid sometime. Simple pleasures! But life is about to get real complicated when a killer with a baseball bat and a mysterious box of 8-track tapes sets him up for murder.

So, his choices are limited – rot away in prison or sign up to defend the planet from the assholes who dropped a meteorite on Cleveland. Brooklyn crosses his fingers and picks the Earth Orbital Forces, believing that after a few years in the trenches – assuming he survives – he can get his life back. Unfortunately, the universe has other plans.

Brooklyn is launched into a quest to save humanity, find his true family, and grow as a person – while simultaneously coping with high-stakes space battles, mystery science experiments and the realisation that the true enemies perhaps aren’t the tentacled monsters on the recruitment poster… Or are they?

Warnings: Jellyfish. Murder via baseball bat.

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Commander Jet Carson shrugged into his flight jacket, assuming the weight of its fireproof fabric. The coat snagged on his gun belt, and he rolled his shoulders to settle it into place.

The lump in the bed across the room rose to one elbow, sleep-tousled hair falling in soft layers around a heart-shaped face. The sight made the air stick in Jet’s chest. Twenty years married, and it happened every time he saw her. He crossed the floor in two quick steps and sat on the bed.

She fluttered her hand over a yawn and blinked up at him. “Do you have to go?”

He smiled. “You always ask that.”

“Always will.”

He bent to kiss her. “Betty Brown.” He kissed her again. “Betty Brown, you are mine, mine, mine.”

She cocked an eyebrow. “I think you mean ‘Betty Carson’.”

“Girlfriend, fiancée, wife…” He winked. “You’ll always be the girl I met at the malt shop.”

“And you’ll always be the jerk leaving me.” She pretended to somewhere else.

Jet brought her chin back in line with his and looked into her eyes. “I always come back.”

“You’d better.” She sat up in bed, the covers falling to reveal her silk camisole. “Level with me, Jet. Is this one dangerous?”

“Piece of cake, darling girl. A quick ride to the top to see if anything is coming our way.” He grinned. “But I’ll get out to Mars one of these days. It’s only a day out and back with the new Oppenheimers. John’s already done it twice.”

“And everything John Dunne does, you have to do, too.”

He laughed. “Unless I do it first.”

Jet blew Betty a kiss and made his way into the early-morning air. The Cape was fifteen minutes away by car, but he could get there in half that on his motorcycle. He detoured to buy doughnuts for his prep crew and parked on a scenic overlook above the Cape. Looking at the rocket towers and gantries always made him feel giddy, like when he was kid and wanted to be a real spaceman. His eyes swept the scene. Low-orbit patrols and scrambles. Not exactly what you imagined when you signed up. The day’s mission, something to do with an overnight meteor strike in Kansas, unexpected though it was, promised to be more of the same. Jet got back on his bike and continued to the Cape.

There were two taciturn guards at the gate instead of the usual friendly-faced singleton, and it took Jet a few extra minutes to clear security. He snagged a chocolate-glazed from the box and handed the rest of the pastries to a runner. “Get these to Big Swede,” he said, pointing to the launch bay with his doughnut. The runner hurried away without answering. Jet pursed his lips and watched him go.

He slid his hands in his pockets and whistled all the way to the logistics office, where he stuck his head through the door without knocking. “What’s in the wind, Mickey?”

The logistics chief tilted his head to look over the top of his reading glasses and leaned back in his chair. “Not a thing, Jet. They say get ’em ready, I get ’em ready.” He held up his clipboard so Jet could see the cotton-candy pink of an ammunition requisition.

Jet leaned against the door. “How ready are we talking?”

“Full load for everyone.”

“Lot of firepower for a bunch of space rocks.”

“You don’t look too broken up about it.”

“Any day I chase stars is a good one.” He pushed himself upright. “Everyone else in Brief?”

“Yeah.” The chief stuck out his hand to shake. “Good luck up there, Jet. See you on the other side.”

The elevator took Jet five levels down and dropped him off at the briefing room. The rest of his squad, the men of Eagle Seven, were already there. Carl White waved and pointed to a seat next to him. “What do you hear, boss?” he said.

Jet dropped into the seat. “Not much, but we’re going up loaded for grizzly.”

“Interesting.” Ed nodded toward the podium, where the NASA bigwigs were gathering. “Maybe we’re about to find something out.”

Pad boss Guenter Werthner kept the briefing short and unusually vague: Launch in two hours, form up in high orbit, and unseal a packet of formal orders. The thin-faced man straightened his bow tie. “That’s all the information I’ve got, boys. This little trip originated at the highest level.” He switched off the podium light. “We’re out of time. Prepare your ships.”

Jet leaned over to whisper. “Sounds like this might be worth getting out of bed for.”

Carl frowned. “High orbit with all weapons loaded? I don’t get it. Who are we going to shoot that far out?”

“Guess we’ll find out at 1350.” Jet clapped his pal on the back. “See you up there.”

Carl nodded absently. “Good flying, Jet.”

Jet took the monorail to the launch pit, where his crew was already hard at work on his ship. The aging LRF-15 stood on its tails, umbilicals attached at every port.

The crew chief appeared out of a bank of steam, wiping his hands on an oily rag. “We’re making her good for you, Jet.”

Sven Lindeson had a PhD in physics but no one called him “Doctor.” Some of the other eggheads insisted the pilots use the honorific, but Sven was always just “Sven” or “Big Swede” because of his height and broad shoulders.

Jet stuck out his hand, and Sven engulfed it in a paw like a catcher’s mitt.

“Don’t suppose you can tell me where we’re going,” Jet said.

Sven grinned. “Straight up. No sudden stops.”

Jet faked a wince. “Then I just take a left at the moon. Thanks a heap.”

Sven ran a hand through his thinning blond hair. “Go see to your baby. After all this milk she may need burping.”

Jet paused to exchange pleasantries with a few other members of the launch crew, but he only had eyes for his ship.

Author Bio

R.W.W. Greene is a New Hampshire USA writer with an MA in Fine Arts, which he exorcises in dive bars and coffee shops. He is a frequent panelist at the Boskone Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention in Boston, and his work has been in Stupefying Stories, Daily Science Fiction, New Myths, and Jersey Devil Press, among others. Greene is a past board member of the New Hampshire Writers’ Project. He keeps bees, collects typewriters, and lives with writer/artist spouse Brenda and two cats.

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