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New Release: Of Friction – S.J. Lee

Of Friction - S.J. Lee

QSFer S.J. Lee has a new sapphic military sci-fi book out (bi, lesbian), Altered Earth book 1: Of Friction.

Decades of hostilities. A chance for peace. Caught between belligerent groups, will this operation be her last?

Sam “Valkyrie” Ryan is reeling. Struggling with her brother’s recent decision to make their next assignment his last, the recon specialist fights to change his mind. But she has no time to process her emotions when they’re tasked to protect a pivotal reconciliation summit between the Altered and Humans from human-supremacist terrorists.

Distracted by a charming female medic, the golden-haired marine struggles to stay focused as events quickly unravel. And with the conflict becoming dangerously unpredictable, secrets from the past catch Sam by surprise as she uncovers a plot to destroy all of humanity.

Can she stop a violent and oppressive history from spiraling into a catastrophic future?

Of Friction is the fast-paced first book in the Altered Earth dystopian military speculative fiction series. If you like strong women, tense action, and slow-burn LGBTQ+ romance, then you’ll love S.J. Lee’s gripping tale.

Warnings: Explicit language, graphic violence, deaths, mentions of substance abuse.

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Loud voices and commotion turned her attention further down the road. Sam could make out a group of men smudged with dirt and dark stains huddled around something, struggling to drag it into the road from a perpendicular path. Beyond that, Sam could make out a bridge over what she assumed was the river.

“Hey, hey.” One scrawny, especially dirty man with mangy hair nudged one of the others and nodded at the marines who had come to a stop meters away from them.

Fox quietly pulled Junpei, who had gone stiff, behind him.

Sam realized the large bag on the ground was, in fact, a person. It was a bloodied man with a swollen face, and scrapes and welts showing all over exposed skin where the clothes had rolled up or torn. A breeze lifted, and she could smell a metallic copper twang mixed with another foul scent. She wasn’t sure if it came from the person on the ground or the hoard of men surrounding him.

A tension suspended in the air as the gang turned to face Echo. Sam angled herself toward the right side of the road, almost standing in the ditch shoulder to watch everyone. She knew her brother had moved to the left, mirroring her.

There were six people. Sam monitored as two of the men furthest away moved their hands to their waistbands. She could spot dark shapes of ink on different parts of the individuals’ skin. Children of Charon lamps.

She touched her right thumb to cool metal and slowly manipulated the safety off on her rifle, keeping the weapon in a casual position against her chest so as not to alarm or telegraph her intentions. She could hear a few soft clicks around her as the other marines had the same idea. They hadn’t even reached the settlement walls and were already face-to-face with their target.

Krill held a hand out in a greeting and placating gesture, not touching the weapon still slung on his shoulder. He called out in a steady voice, “Good afternoon, gentlemen.”

One of the gang members, a large birthmark stamped on the side of his bald head that looked like a single horn, dropped the leg he was holding and straightened up much taller and wider than Echo’s team lead, almost the same height as Fox. He puffed his chest out and looked menacingly up and down at Krill and the heavily armed group behind him.

Sam fought the urge to roll her eyes. The bull had bravado.

A knotted, smaller hand curled around the man’s forearm at his lamp tattoo. At the touch, Bull took a small step to the side, although his threatening glare settled on Fox. A spindly woman with a small, sharp nose, a shrewish face, and a short haircut that stood up at odd angles stepped forward. A long revolver hung loosely in a tattered holster on her skinny waist.

She addressed Krill in an equally shrewish voice steeped in the regional accent. “Good afternoon…”

Sam was confident Krill’s greeting of “gentle” did not suit the group in front of them.

The woman flashed a cruel smile, and Sam saw red gums and yellowing teeth. Her eyes were dark black, but they blazed with something furious and crazy, asking to be challenged. Her skinny neck showed a red patch of irritated skin—scratch marks.

Sam quickly scanned the others, and she found more of those scrapes. Her lip curled. She recognized it. She had seen it many times before. This woman, this shrew, the leader of this band of misfit Charonites, was a stim junkie. Dilated eyes proved they were hopped up on it now. Sam raised her guard a tick higher. She disliked the Children of Charon, and she hated junkies. The combination…

Behind Shrew and her pet Bull, the person on the ground groaned and flopped over onto their back, the bloody and bruised head lolled to the left. Black and gray hair stuck out in tufts, matted with thick blood. He opened his eyes and looked at the marines.

A flash of blue, green, and brown.

Heterochromatic eyes.


Author Bio

S.J. Lee is a foreign service specialist by day, gamer, photographer, and writer by night. She has worked and lived in Iraq, Mexico, Chile, India, Brazil, and Guyana, and currently resides in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area with her spouse and rescued street-dog. Of Friction is her debut novel and the first of the Altered Earth series.

Author Website

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