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New Release: The Sea of Stars – Gwenhyver

The Sea of Stars - Gwenhyver

QSFer Gwenhyver has a new FF sci-fantasy book out: The Sea of Stars.

A sapphic swords & sorcery space adventure! Venturing to the skies was meant to be perfect…

Adventurer JASYN has dreamed of taking to the skies her whole life. But it’s difficult to thrive on a sky ship when no-one trusts you to not blow a hole in the hull with your inconsistent ice-powers.

Meanwhile, engineering-savvy ATALANTA fits in like a well-oiled cog in a machine, even though being contained within a faulting sky ship with a bunch of strangers is the last place she wants to be.

But never mind navigating the skies, what about navigating this crew?

What is Captain Herakles’s problem? Her mood is as changeable as the weather, and she struts about like she owns the place (because, okay, maybe she does own the place!), but would it end all the worlds under the Seven Suns to let Jasyn and Atalanta spend time together?

When an unexpected detour lands them on an unknown world, they get everything they want, and more: Jasyn gets her chance at adventure, and Atalanta’s distrust for the skies is about to be allayed or realised.

The Sea of Stars is the second book in the Jasyn and The Astronauts series — a sapphic, swords & sorcery in space reimagining of Jason and the Golden Fleece — an adventure fuelled by wonder and good intentions, while navigating weather fronts formed of emotions along the way. Climb aboard and sail the sea of stars!

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Relentless ropes of hail lash the hull. Metal groans, air filters gasp and pipes strain as the [C]ARGO ship roars to the skies. That the dented-chrome vessel hasn’t yet folded in on itself like a dying star is — to Atalanta’s mind — a surprise and a nerve-jangling relief.

Pushing beyond her own terror, she signs words designed to help Jasyn calm. And, as their fingers thread together, as Jasyn’s tension melts away, the skies respond. Curtains of storm part, unveiling star-studded oblivion.

“Clear skies ahead,” confirms Cosmic Forecaster Lynk, the awe, relief, and disbelief in her voice echoed by the gasps and laughter of the crew and the captain’s question:

“Is this you, Ice-monger?”

As they drift above the main deck, the torn patchwork of burgundy and purple of Jasyn’s cape undulates. Even the loose locks of her ash-blond hair reach for the vista beyond the glass.

The chaos of crew orbits them. The threat of the unknown tugs at the ship. But in this moment all is still.

If only Jasyn’s abilities extended to freezing time itself, Atalanta would capture the wonder and possibility before everything — inevitably — unravels and Jasyn discovers the hard way that the heavens care little for explorers. Even ones with charming, lopsided grins, powers of ice, and the best of intentions.

As they break from orbit against the odds, the star-studded twinkle in Jasyn’s eyes suggests the skies are made of magic and mystery.

If only that were true.

How Atalanta loves to see the sparkle in Jasyn’s eyes. How she fears it too. She’d never want to dampen Jasyn’s sense of adventure. She’d never want to see her lost without direction, or scared of what lies ahead. But there’s something to be said for a healthy dose of apprehension. It’s an unwelcome lesson never to trust the skies.

The ship shunts.

“Gravity adjusted,” the ship informs them as they all drop with punctuating thuds to the deck. Not that Atalanta minds. Even with her breath knocked from her, she’d much prefer the bruising of solid ground to being lost to the tide between stars.

That her fingers are still entangled with Jasyn’s, that they’d instinctively gravitated to each other, warms her more than any therma-stone or fire-pit could. It’s hardly any time since the sky ship workshop, where mouths, tongues, fingers and feelings had all aligned, and Jasyn’s ice-created stars had crystallised into galaxies around them. The sensations still crackle beneath Atalanta’s skin.

That Jasyn’s eyes connect with hers sparks a smile.

“Remember how you wanted adventure?” Atalanta signs. And in that moment, she feels Jasyn’s drive toward the skies, her happiness at finally reaching them, as her own.

The sensation departs, and her smile falters. Because the actual stars reflected in Jasyn’s eyes tug at the fraying threads of Atalanta’s calm, threatening to unravel her and weight her down like an overactive gravity console.

The controls must be overcompensating. The air around her squeezes too tight, forcing the air from her lungs. For a moment, even her knuckles, knees and teeth hurt.

“You okay?” Jasyn signs with one hand as they fight against gravity and help each other to their feet.

Atalanta manages a nod, but she’s fooling neither of them.

“The gravity console is calibrating,” the smooth and outwardly calm voice of the captain announces to the helm. Her words snake through the open comms, pulling Atalanta’s Transonic focus with them in a dizzying vertigo, down through the layers of the ship until they spill out through the open comms on the floors below.

As if a sudden escape to the skies isn’t enough to churn her stomach, dizziness lingers as she retrains her Transonics on her immediate surroundings.

A silken sound steals her focus — curls spring. The scratch of the shorter hairs catching against thumb. The furrows of the design shaved into temples — as the captain sweeps a hand through her sculpted neon purple-blue hair.

With a shake of her head, Atalanta takes a literal and Transonic step back. Captain Herakles might be a masterclass in chiselled looks, muscles, and confidence, but that doesn’t mean Atalanta has any desire to experience her up close. Transonically, or otherwise.

Why the captain is frowning at Atalanta and Jasyn, and their linked hands in particular, Atalanta has less than a clue. Captain Herakles stands tall, defiant, as she surveys the ether-screen above the two helm-wheels — but her gritted teeth and straining sinews confess that she’s just as susceptible to an over-exuberance of gravity as the rest of them.

“Don’t panic, snowflakes,” First-mate Castor jeers from her flight-technician station, with a flick of her silver hair. “Don’t go melting just yet.”

Adept at entertaining crowds in The Games arena with weaponry, her toned physique and athletic prowess, Castor apparently also has enough confidence in her role aboard the ship, and enough no-confidence in the new arrivals, to make fun of them. But — ba-boom-ba-boom-ba-boom — the flight-tech’s thundering heart lets Atalanta know she’s shielding behind bravado.

Atalanta can hardly blame her heart — and the rest of the crew’s — for stumbling. Her own is doing a mighty job of the same as her Transonics sweep through the layers of the ship, pulling at threads of sound, knotting into panic in her gut.

Sounds on Iolcus at least had the good grace to dissipate into the atmosphere, but the innumerable noises on the ship insist on echoing within its shell. Each taking form, rattling on every surface within until it loses energy and dies, taking a piece of Atalanta’s sanity with it.

Nausea slides within her veins.

A groan… A strain… Metal complaining…

Somewhere in the ship…

Something is wrong.

Before she can locate it, the sounds whip away.

In amongst the Transonically-audible blizzard, rasps and wheezes are familiar, but their quantity and formation are different. Enough to give her a migraine.

Perhaps it’s just her panic colouring her perception…

But dismissing potential chaos is as ill-advised as taking to the skies aboard a faulting vessel.

Author Bio

Gwenhyver writes stories with fantastical elements and queer characters. She lives in a village on Dartmoor, England, with her wonderful wife. When she’s not happily hermit-ing in her writing den, she’s likely roaming the moors or exploring cycle trails wearing too much hi-vis. Jasyn and the Astronauts – Book 1 – Under the Ice Skies is her debut novel series.

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