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NEW RELEASE: Redshift – R.M. Olson

Redshift - R.M. Olson

QSFer R.M. Olson has a new queer space opera out, Singularity book 1: Redshift.

It appears out of nowhere—one moment the sky is empty, the next, there’s a rent in the fabric of space itself. And nothing in the system will ever be the same.

In the far reaches of the Rim Mountains, itinerant field-scientist Aran Romeu is searching desperately for the cure to an incurable disease—one that’s slowly killing his best friend. He’s sworn to do whatever it takes to find it. But when the portal opens, and something comes through, he realizes that ‘whatever it takes’ will involve travelling into the uncharted space beyond the portal. And he’s not the only one after the cure, and willing to do whatever it takes to get to it first …

In the weighty halls of government, Chief Justice Alba Espina is preparing a political gamble that could change the shape of the system itself. The appearance of the portal shatters her carefully-laid plans and hands her political rival a weapon he could use destroy her—unless she can delay him with the promise of a diplomatic mission through the portal. But the stakes of the mission are higher than just her personal ambition. If her diplomatic mission doesn’t succeed, it might just spell the end of humanity itself.

In a remote spaceport, Savina Moya, the system’s most talented assassin-for-hire, is on the run again after her latest murder. But when a deadly government agent is sent after her, with instructions to bring her back dead or alive, the diplomatic mission heading into the portal may hold the key to Savina’s survival—if she’s brave enough, or desperate enough, to take it.

No one knows what’s beyond the portal. And as the three of them are drawn inexorably together in uncharted space, with no idea who is an ally and who is an enemy—it’s an open question if any of them will live long enough to find out.

Warnings: violence, apparent pet death (she doesn’t really die), minor reference to past child abuse

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The sleek government ship nosed its way into the passenger shipping lanes that wound through the old section of the city.

Aran stared out the plex windows at the colourful, noisy bustle of the streets below him, fighting back the wash of irrational panic.

There was absolutely nothing to be afraid of.

He’d been repeating that to himself under his breath for the last hour, ever since the transport had entered Vila Nova do Sol’s airspace, and even running through the data he and Istvay had gathered on their most recent excursion hadn’t been enough to hold back the choking dread.

It hadn’t actually helped.

It also hadn’t helped that he was bloody terrified of flying. And of heights. And of whatever the hell jiggly, gelatinous substance the unmanned government ship had spat out at them in fancy little dishes for their meals.

Istvay had eaten it with every sign of satisfaction. Aran had poked at it a few times, and then secretly slipped it to Ani when Istvay wasn’t looking. Which meant that now he was hangry, as well as terrified.

He sighed, leaning back in his seat and closing his eyes, trying to force his muscles to unclench.

Cortisol and adrinocorticotropin, obviously, as well as a flood of glucagon and catecholamines. An effective cocktail of hormones, if your future plans include running for your life, or fighting off a swarm of carnivorous common prairie snouts.

Less effective if your plans involved sitting in a damn unmanned government transport, to be brought into the city where you’d grown up and then spent the rest of your life trying to get away from. He could almost smell it—the confusing, heavy scent of cooking food, unwashed bodies, the ozone tang of the power generators and the dark, smoky fragrance of burning charcoal, all seasoned with the inescapable whiff of rotting garbage. The incessant noise and press and bustle, the feeling of wanting to crawl out of his own skin to get away from it all.

None of his long string of foster parents had ever understood it, but Istvay’s mother had. And whenever he couldn’t bear things any longer and escaped to the streets, the small makeshift shelter in one of the alleys, where she and Istvay lived and where he could take refuge from the chaos, had been the only constant, secure, safe memory of his entire childhood.

Until she’d died, of course.

He sighed heavily and squeezed his eyes closed, clenching and unclenching his fists to rein in the growing panic.

There was absolutely nothing to be afraid of.

Istvay had dozed off hours ago, head lolling back against the seat-cushions, but now they stirred and blinked their eyes open. “Aran?” Their voice was thick with sleep. “Are we there already?” They sat up, scrubbing at their eyes. “I thought you’d be sleeping.”

Aran looked away, muttering something about not being tired.

Istvay sighed, still rubbing their eyes. “Aran. It’ll be fine. We’ll get in there, you’ll talk to them, we’ll leave. Easy as that.”

“Yeah,” Aran muttered, stroking Ani’s tentacles, where she sat bunched in his lap. She gave a chirruping little purr and flattened her bulbous body with pleasure at the touch.

Istvay blew out a breath. “I’m not going to be able to talk you into leaving Ani behind, am I?”

Aran tightened his hand protectively on Ani’s tentacle, then yelped, frowning down at her. “Ani, you know better. If you don’t like something, we’ve talked about ways you can let me know.” He looked ruefully at his hand, which was already swelling, and going an ugly greenish-purple where she’d nicked him with a tentacle-spike. “Look what you’ve done. Now I’ll be wearing a bandage when I go in and talk to the Council.”

Ani had the grace to look mildly ashamed, and tightened her tentacles protectively around his wrist.

Istvay was watching, shaking their head. “I suppose it’s no use my reminding you that thing is considered an illegal method of biological warfare by the entire rest of the system?”

Aran rolled his eyes. “Ani’s perfectly tame. And completely harmless, look at her.”

She snuggled a little closer to him, her body now a delicate blue, her tentacles curling around his arm, the skin flaps she used for flying wrapped around him like a hug.

“She just poisoned you,” Istvay pointed out, a trace of exasperation in their tone. “She literally just poisoned you, and the only reason that you’re not convulsing on the floor right now is that she’s done it so often you’ve built up an immunity.”

Aran rubbed Ani’s head affectionately, carefully avoiding the venomous line of serrated teeth that marked her second external mouth. “She only does that if she’s upset, and it was my fault for upsetting her in first place. Besides, she’s very intelligent. She’d never do it to someone else, and she knows it doesn’t really hurt me.”

Istvay looked meaningfully at Aran’s hand, which had now swollen to almost twice its usual size, and was sending tingling pulses of pain up his arm.

Aran rolled his shoulder to shake it off, and sighed.

“And that group of bandits we ran across last summer?” Istvay prodded.

“They were trying to kill us,” Aran said patiently. “The result wouldn’t have been any different if we been travelling with a protection drone.”

Istvay give a disbelieving snort. “Last I checked, protection drones don’t inject their prey with digestive fluids, then suck out the liquid afterwards so there’s nothing left but crumpled husks.”

Ani glanced up at the exasperated tone in Istvay’s voice, and curled herself tighter around Aran’s arm.

Aran stroked her soothingly. “Well, they were already dead. She was just following her instincts. I don’t see that it makes any practical difference.”

Author Bio

R.M. Olson is the author of The Ungovernable series. She has ridden the Trans Siberian railway, jumped off the highest bungee jump in the world, gone cage-diving with great white sharks, faced down a charging buffalo bull, and knows how to milk a goat. Currently she resides in Alberta, Canada with her four children, three cats, and a dog the size of a small bear. She goes hiking and skiing more often than she probably has time for, eats more chocolate than is probably good for her, and reads more books than is probably prudent.

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