QSFer Freddie A. Clark has a new queer cyberpunk/grimdark book out, The Falling Feathers Series, Act I: The Harbinger of Freedom. Ace, bi, gay, lesbian, non-binary, poly, trans ftm.
In the millenary world of Taenand, the continent of Empiria is oppressed by a fifty year lasting military dictatorship perpetrated by the Army of the Harpy, the leader of which is the young General of aristocratic descent Ludwig Maximilian Eckhale who inherited the throne and became the second Emperor of his Era.
In these challenging times, Valerius Raleigh, a young noble as the Emperor himself, takes on the mission to inspire his country to break its chains and free itself from the ever more raging tyranny, first becoming a symbol and a messenger of freedom, then building an army whose purpose is to take down the reign of terror and injustice which threatens to spread all over Taenand due to the ruthless ruler’s strategic mindset and powerful alliances.
The Harbinger of Freedom is the first act of the Falling Feathers Series, a crazy mix of blood, sex, drugs, hacking, cybernetic augmentations, shamanism, fantasy creatures, artificial life and an overall retrofuturistic and cyberpunkish aesthetic. In this vast, complex world, liberty and self-determination play a pivotal role in the search for balance and justice for all, while the diverse characters are pawns in a gritty game of power, intrigues and violence in which there is no place for surrender or subjugation.
Warnings: Gore; physical, psychological and emotional abuse; mutilation; medical procedures; self-harm; social hatred; childhood trauma; substance addiction; prostitution; spiders; PTSD; warfare.
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Valerius spotted him on Wanderer near the sidewalk opposite where he stood, and he wasn’t alone. By his side, riding a similar bike but painted a plain pastel pink, two girls were also waiting for Valerius to join them.
The second rider was also a noble, a red-haired young woman who always kept her hair in an updo and was so disgusted by her social status as to reject her title of Marchioness, preferring the definition of Marchionex, whatever that meant. Iulia Dower, twenty-six, was a quiet and sophisticated lady who wore boxy jackets with padded shoulders, highlighted by bright colours that represented the only display of rebellion that could still be considered legal. She had a small, rounded face, tiny thin lips often painted in red lipstick, and a blaze of freckles that speckled her white skin lit by a vague apricot undertone. Her wide-set green eyes were hidden behind the sharp mirrored shades she wore on her upturned nose, and they were coloured a shimmering magenta like the big oval earrings hanging from her lobes.
Her passenger could be defined as an intruder because she was neither an aristocrat nor a hired citizen living in Athala for job-related reasons. Her name was Rita, but Valerius had never learnt her surname, although he considered it irrelevant information. A caring girl, cheery as few others when someone gained her trust, Rita had the umber skin typical of the insular state of Lapewati, that remained independent from the Empire due to its location in the Vestral Archipelago; however, she was the great-granddaughter of Lapewatian people who moved to Empiria during the libertarian Rational Era, which ended in Year 1 of the Harpy Era, and as many Empirians of non-aristocratic descent she had never been allowed to learn more about her native culture or visit those lands to experience their autonomy. Nonetheless, she was proud of her natural thick curls, which she embellished even more by dyeing a lock of hair a different colour once every four months.
Currently, Rita’s tuft was platinum blonde, and it stood out from the tight pink hood of the hoodie she wore under a large, plump jacket tightened by cyan bands at the wrists and the waist. Her full lips were jasper-coloured, her wide nose adorned by a silver ring on a nostril, and her thick black eyebrows topped her bright black eyes highlighted in indigo eyeshadow.
She was the first to lift from her seat and wave a hand in the air while Valerius crossed the road to reach them, and she was the first to talk when, having thrown his half-smoked cigarette, Valerius climbed to sit behind Vincent. “Did your day suck again, today?” she asked chuckling and wrapping her arms around Iulia’s hips to give her a loving hug.
“More than ever, to be fair,” he replied, grasping the handhold placed under the elevated passenger seat. “My life could end tomorrow, and I need a distraction.”
“So, we’re getting wasted in Delham tonight?” asked Iulia, her lips turned upwards in a witty grin.
Valerius nodded with a radiant smile. “Of course we’re getting wasted.”
Hearing this, Vincent turned the knob and revved Wanderer’s engine before whizzing over the asphalt and popping a spectacular wheelie. Iulia mirrored him, instantly going full throttle, pushing Rita to an amused scream followed by an excited laugh.
Vincent rode those highways and their curves like roaring pitch tides inhabited by monsters that were too slow to grab him. Valerius was accustomed to the sensation and pleased by the rush of the getaway, a fast-paced spark of freedom, looked up to the sky while the speed-boosted wind whipped and enraged his long hair in a hectic dance, ruffling and tangling it into stretched ropes, before caressing and softening it once again.
Like a reckless warrior of the road, Vincent drove Wanderer up to Athala’s borders and then headed to Axtaris, where he merged with the stream of two and four-wheeled vehicles that crowded the streets. He weaved between them even overtaking some Imperial vehicles that quickly took an interest in him and Iulia.
She was as skilled as Vincent and familiar with escaping from Imperial Centaurs, the motorcycle-riding unit of the Army of the Harpy; hardworking soldiers and bold pilots in their form-fitting black suits and full-face helmets adorned with glowing white streaks, identical to those decorating their narrowing sport bikes, with polymer windshields and powered by impressive electromagnetic engines supported by flaming thrusters.
It wasn’t long before three Centaurs gave chase, therefore Vincent turned left and revved the engine again to do another wheelie after which Wanderer regained its stability and thrilling speed.
For a moment Valerius felt like he was about to faint, sure he was going to fall, but taking advantage of an isolated glimpse of deceleration, the baron reinforced his grip on the handholds, gasping and stretching himself towards the exalted biker.
The Centaurs, however, weren’t willing to give up. Vincent carried on, weaving through the immense commercial avenue of the district to confuse them.
Only one chaser was able to approach them, and the Centaur who was riding it came at Wanderer, ramming it to make it swerve.
Exploiting that sudden hardship, Vincent took an empty street that turned towards the core of the Army of the Harpy, the influential district of Rivet. “We’re close, Vincent,” shouted Valerius. “Turn right, come on!”
Trailed by Iulia, Vincent heeded the advice and entered the direction that would bring them to the entrance of Delham, the notorious independent district of Helbell.
Freddie A. Clark is the author of The Harbinger of Freedom and builder of a cyberpunkish fantasy world.
Proud human slave of three former stray cats, Non-Binary person and Norse Pagan, hopeless nerd and big fan of any kind of Fantasy media, Freddie is a Cyberpunk geek influenced not only by the works of William Gibson, Neal Stephenson and Pat Cadigan among many others, but also by manga masterpieces as Akira and Ghost in The Shell. Freddie is also a synthwave music enthusiast and a devoted fan of ’80s aesthetic, movies and pop culture.
Her debut novel is the first act of The Falling Feathers Series, the epic journey of a young man who has taken up the torch to free his land from the grip of a tyrant. A story of equality, rebellion and struggle for one’s rights, for which Freddie is a fierce advocate.