QSFer D.N. Bryn has a new MM steampunk fantasy out (bi, gay, trans ftm): Odder Still.
Rubem of No-Man’s Land was content keeping to his wine, his pets, and his extensive collection of fishnets.
But since a sentient, fuel-producing parasite bonded to his brainstem, every morally-depraved scientist and hardcore rebel for a hundred miles wants to ruthlessly dissect him. The parasite itself is no better, influencing his emotions and sassing him with his own memories as it slowly takes over his body.
The only person offering Rubem help is Tavish K. Findlay, a dashing and manipulative philanthropist whose mother’s fuel company monopolizes their corrupt underwater city with an iron claw. She desperately wants to tear Rubem apart for the parasite before those who oppose her can do the same. Her son is irresistibly charismatic though, and after a lifetime of being kicked out and disavowed, Rubem is desperate to believe in the friendship Tavish offers.
With revolutionary plots and political schemes tangling his every choice, Rubem must soon decide whether or not to trust Tavish in his fight against the parasite’s growing control.
Odder Still is an M/M fantasy novel with a interracial, class-crossing slow burn romance, murderous intrigue, and a parasite-human friendship in an underwater steampunk city. It is the first in a series, each with a romantically fulfilling ending and a final HEA, with steamy thoughts and foreplay but no explicit sex. (Content warnings for alcohol consumption and animal death.)
Warnings: Alcohol consumption, alcoholism, and drunkenness (without alcohol-related anger or violence.) References to a past violent pet death, and multiple instances of animal death, including those of cats and dogs. General fantasy violence with minor fantasy gore. References to feeling a parasite move inside the body of the point of view character. Near drowning. Instances of severe blood loss due to scientific experimentation. References to the dissection of a parasite from the main character’s body. Body horror of an aesthetically-pleasing, shimmering rainbow variety.
THE PARASITE FUSED TO my neck appears dormant.
That’s the best word for the immortal, fungal creature my homeland calls ancients. When Lilias chained me here, she rattled off her own name for it—an aurora. The pretty term slips in and out of her conversation as she sits at the wall phone beside this little house’s curtained window, absently tapping the knife at her hip. Her gaze bounces to me, eyes fixing on the parasite like she’s imagining what it might look like severed from my neck. Or perhaps what my neck might look like severed from my body.
But I fear the mess of black that clings to me like a second skin more than I fear my old blackmailer turned kidnapper. She’s mortal, predictable: all anger and impulse and ambition. This parasite, on the other hand, has already defied everything known of its kind. When Lilias first claimed it as her pet, weeks ago and hundreds of miles south, it should have done as every other aurora has and latched to a nonsentient host to quietly begin producing the ignits our societies use as fuel. Instead, it decided to cling to me: a human. And for now, it only clings, not trying to wind itself into my body and seize control of it the way the creatures do to their usual hosts. Not yet, anyway.
I just have to remove it before then.
Danny Bryn is a queer, disabled author of speculative fiction and fantasy romance. When not writing, they conduct infectious disease surveillance in their hometown of San Diego, where they enjoy basking in the Santa Ana winds, hiking the brush-heavy slopes, and eating too many tacos.