Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

My answer to the challenge I posted last week. I ended up with Hardboiled Space Opera, and this is the kind of thing I came up with. Over the wod limit and hardly my best work, but its also the most I’ve written recently, so there’s that I guess.

Malachi sat in the spaceport bar of Copernicus Station, a half-filled glass of chilled vodka in front of him. His smart glasses told him it was “morning,” but that didn’t mean much in a stable orbit around a gas giant being mined for hydrogen and helium. He blinked when his commlink chirped, and his virtual assistant popped up in front of him, a diminutive hologram named Clara who perched herself on the edge of the bar. She’d opted to go for the standard secretary look this morning, hair in a bun, horn rimmed glasses, skirt falling exactly at mid-thigh, the first few buttons on her blouse undone. He’d tried to adjust the settings so that she would appear the same every time, but either they were buried so far down in the system settings as to be impenetrable or she’d deliberately moved them to somewhere else in her operating system.

“Drinking this early?” Clara asked, peering at Malachi’s glass over her glasses.

“Early?” Malachi asked. “I’ve been up for… what,” he checked his heads-up display, “four hours already. It’s a mid-day aperitif.”

The bartender, a four-armed, vermilion skinned Karaxxian looked over at in his direction, but Malachi waved him off. He’d have to remember he was in a public space and pitch his voice accordingly given only he could see Clara and her voice was being piped directly to the subcutaneous speaker implanted behind his ear.

Clara sniffed. “If it weren’t for me, you’d be nothing more than a dissolute degenerate.”

Malachi regretted getting her the thesaurus upgrade, and not for the first time. “Yeah, yeah. So are you just going to bust my balls for having a drink?”

“Not at all. You have a client.”

Malachi blinked. “You couldn’t have led with that? So what’s the case?”

“Missing person. Client says she’s looking for her daughter.”

Malachi wrinkled his nose. “Isn’t that what station security is for?”

“According to her, she already went to them. They’re processing but… well, you know how it is,” she replied.

“Yeah, yeah.” He finished his drink. “Send me the details.

“Adriana Baraxan. Human. States that she is a pilot for an independent cargo hauler.”

“So a smuggler,” Malachi interjected. It wasn’t a judgement statement, only an observation.

“Probably,” Clara conceded.

“What does she want?”

“She didn’t state a reason. Says she’s only willing to discuss the case in detail in person. Maybe she doesn’t trust the station’s network security.”

“Huh.” Malachi scratched at the stubble on his chin. “So she’s smart. Okay. Let’s go see what she wants. Did she give a location?”

A map popped up on his overhead. He recognized it as leading to a green space with a great view of the planet they were orbiting. “Interesting. Public space, but with enough space to make it hard for someone to eavesdrop. Seems our client knows what she’s about.” Malachi nodded in professional approval. “When did she want to meet?”

“Fifteen minutes from now.”

Malachi swore under his breath. He’d have preferred a bit more time. Time to go back to his one room square of an apartment and change his clothes at least, if not take an actual shower. No joy there though. Instead, he tapped his device against the contact pad at the bar and tipped his bartender before stepping out into the thoroughfare outside. The park was a short walk away, easy to get to without having to hop on the maglev. The stations’ gravity was enough to keep him balanced, but he’d grown up on a terrestrial world. Looking up to see the void of space and the looming giant of the planet instead of blue sky always sent a shudder down his spine.

He arrived at the park with about five minutes to spare.

“So where’s the client?” he asked.

“Ah, of course. Here is her location.” A golden halo appeared over a woman sitting on a bench. Malachi approached from an angle where he would be clearly visible to her as he walked up, hands buried in his pockets. The woman had the pale, nearly translucent skin of someone who spent all her time in her space. He could tell, even though she was sitting down at the moment, that she’d be taller than him if she stood up, and her body would have the elongated look of a person unaccustomed to normal gravity. She wore simple enough clothing, black flight jacket over a blue high-necked shirt, black flight pants. She wore her dark hair close cropped and held a tablet on her lap, scrolling through… something. New feed maybe. Contract list more likely, if she was what she said she was.

“Captain Baraxan?” Malachi didn’t offer to shake hands.

“Ahh. You must be the detective. Malachi, isn’t it?” She turned off the screen on her tablet and stood up. Like he’d guessed, he had to stare up a bit to meet her eyes. “Thank you for meeting with me.”

“Private investigator,” he corrected her. “What can I help you with?”

She flipped the tablet so that it was facing him. She touched the screen and an image popped up of an older man, graying temples, sagging jowls. One of his eyes was brown and the other a brass colored orb. “One of my partners has gone missing. I was able to track him down this far, but, well, the man has gone to ground. He owes me a considerable sum of money and I would like to have a rather involved discussion with him about it.”

Malachi snorted. “I’m sure you would. What’s his name?”

“Harrod.”

“Just Harrod?”

“We did business. That’s all. So do you think you can find him?”

“Clara?” Malachi asked, tapping his implant.

“Already on it boss.”

“Who’s Clara?” Baraxan asked.

“My not-so-silent partner,” Malachi replied.  “She helps with the leg work.”

Baraxan frowned. “Is that the woman I spoke to earlier?”

“Yeah, let’s go with that,” Malachi replied.

They stood, awkwardly, in the park, watching the space craft silently dock and depart as they drifted in high orbit above the swirling clouds of the giant planet planet below. Malachi had to repress the everyday panic of knowing that only a thin amount of material separate him from the vacuum of space, and that if any part of the delicate system failed, all he would have to look forward to was an agonizing death by asphyxiation as the oxygen levels depleted on the station.

“Okay, boss, I’ve got a hit on some of the public cameras,” Clara piped in his ear. “But you’re not going to like it.”

“Yeah?”

“He’s down in Yellow Sector.”

Malachi bit back a curse. “Any idea when he got on the station?”

“There’s no record of him in the public Customs reports,” Clara confirmed. “How ever he got on the station, it wasn’t through official channels.”

“Okay,” Malachi said, addressing the captain. “I’ve got a bead on where he is, but I’m going to have to go in and verify.”

Baraxan raised a delicately thin eyebrow. “Why’s that?”

“He’s in Yellow Sector. Think of it as the local bad neighborhood. There isn’t much in the way of video surveillance down there, which means he’s gone to ground. Someone looking like he does though… well, someone is bound to have seen him.”

“Very well. I shall accompany you.”

Malachi gave a short bark of a laugh, then realized she was being serious. “I don’t know that’s such a great idea,” he said. “Yellow Sector types can be a bit rough.”

The captain gave a small smile. “I’m not unused to the coarser types, detective. Lead on.”

Malachi felt the difference as he entered Yellow Sector. There were no outside view ports and more graffiti and the air felt closer, stuffier. He led, Captain Baraxan trailing behind. They’d stopped at his office so he could pick up his sidearm, an air compressed needle gun, the tips dipped in a paralytic. Nominally non-lethal, though a shot in the neck could lead to asphyxiation. He’d offered to give the captain a weapon, but she declined. He wondered if she concealed a weapon under her bulky jacket, but decided it would be impolite to inquire.

They entered the Cosmic Joke, a speakeasy run by an acquaintance of Malachi’s named Jules. Jules had the coal black skin and heavy, compact build of a Politanian… a denizen of a world known for its high gravity and brutal solar radiation. He waved at Malachi when he saw him enter. Captain Baraxan hung back, checking out one the holographic displays projected into the middle of the space.

“What’s with the navy with you?” Jules asked

“Huh?” Malachi asked.

“The spacer over there. You telling me she isn’t military?”

“Civilian captain,” Malachi corrected him.

Jules made a noise in the back of his throat. “Could have fooled me. All right, what can I do for you?”

“Looking for someone. Someone in particular.” He pulled up the image of Harrod, broadcast it on top of the bar. “Have you seen him?”

“Funny you should ask. He was here, what, two days ago? Said he had something to sell and was looking for a buyer.” While he spoke, Jules poured two glasses of chilled vodka and pushed one across to Malachi.

“You know what it was?” Malachi asked.

“No. He wasn’t asking me, which means it wasn’t drugs or booze.”

“Who was he talking to?”

“You know Warrix?” Jules asked.

“Yeah, I know him,” Malachi confirmed, before downing the rest of his vodka, a pleasant numbness spreading through him. “Wish I didn’t. Thanks Jules.”

“Yeah, no worries. On the house, okay? Just don’t get yourself dead.”

Malachi rubbed at the back of his head. “Yeah, wasn’t on my to do list, don’t worry.”

As he walked back over to Captain Baraxan, Clara piped up in his ear. “I don’t have to tell you what a catastrophically bad idea this is, do I?”

“Nope, you don’t. Got a pretty good idea already,” Malachi replied.

“You’re going to go through with it any way though aren’t you?”

“Yep.”

Clara ran through her new thesaurus, Malachi recognizing many of the terms as being synonyms for stubborn, stupid or both.

“Any luck?” Captain Baraxan asked.

“Your boy Harrod has been meeting with a local crime boss, name of Warrix. Anywhere else, he’d be small fry, but he’s a player here. We, uh, have a history.”

“Do I want to know?”

Malachi shrugged. “I might have shot him once. Okay, twice.”

“Hmm. Where can we find him?”

Malachi shook his head. “Are you sure you want to go through with this? I mean, I get that Harrod owes you money, but you can’t spend it if you’re dead.”

“Do you want out?” The captain stared hard at Malachi, and he realized she was weighing him, deciding what kind of person he was. To his surprise, he decided he cared.

“No,” he said, somewhat to his own surprise.

He led them out of the Cosmic Joke and down into the service tunnels that made up the bulk of Yellow Sector, passed the makeshift shelters and jury-rigged habitations of those poor souls who couldn’t quite afford either regular station housing or a ticket off. He knew where Warrix would be, down in a disused security station, surrounded by his men, secure in his territory. Warrix’s guards spotted them long before they got close, but no one challenged them, which means Warrix wanted to talk to them. Or wanted to personally kill them. Malachi figured it could go either way.

“Well, if it ain’t my least favorite detective,” Warrix boomed from his translator speaker mounted on his hover chair. The boar headed sapien was restricted to the chair, his spinal cord having been severed when Malachi shot him. “Got a lot of nerve coming down here.” The various degenerate scum that made up his court laughed and chuckled along with him.

“I’ve got business with you,” Captain Baraxan said, stepping forward. Malachi tried to pull her back but she flowed around his clumsy grasp, leaving him with nothing but air. “Man named Harrod. I’m looking for him.”

“Hey, Harrod, someone’s here to see you,” Warrix called out.

One of the men threw back the cloak he’d been wearing, an evil grin on his face, his brass eye gleaming in the low light.

“Hello, Captain. Me and Warrix here came to a bit of an understanding, see? So you and the detective can just walk on out of here.”

Captain Baraxan tilted her head to one side. Malachi wondered how big of a mistake he’d made. Then she moved.

A metallic ribbon dropped from the sleeve of her jacket and she flowed through the room. The ribbon sliced through the air, parting Harrod’s head from his body. Weapons were out and firing, and Malachi dived behind a column, keeping his head down as charged blasts ripped through the air. He spared a glance out, fully expecting to see the captain’s lifeless body, but the shots fired at her bounced off an invisible field, sparks flying up as the protective shield she wore deflected the attacks. Malachi saw Warrix trying to guide his chair out of the area, so he lined up a careful shot and caught him in the side of the neck. The chair careened to one side, nearly dumping its occupant on the ground before coming to a soft stop against a wall.

Most of Warrix’s people had the good sense to know when they were overwhelmed and fled the captain and her ribbon blade, and she had no interest in pursuing them. With the room cleared, she stooped down and collected something from Harrod’s body.

Malachi looked around at all of the bloodshed, feeling sick to his stomach and realizing he was at least partly to blame.

“Who are you?” he asked.

“Captain Baraxan. Kilvarian Navy Intelligence. This scum,” she kicked Harrod’s corpse, “was attempting to sell stolen information.”

“What kind of information?” Malachi asked.

She turned and left the station, and Malachi knew he’d never get the answer he wanted.

Later, back at the Cosmic Joke, Jules tried to ask him what happened.

It took three vodkas to get the story out of him.

A new noir piece of mine is up at The Dark City Crime and Mystery Magazine and is also available at Amazon in print and kindle. This is the second piece of mine they’ve published. The first can be found here.

I’d say its a departure for me, but well, my writing has been a bit all over the map recently. As for what I’m working on now, I’m part way through a short story featuring Ariadna. This would be the third story featuring her, the first two having appeared in Pulp Modern. It’s a no magic sword slinging adventure. I’ve also been chipping away at the Liam the Black novel. Hopefully I’ll be able to give progress updates as those happen.

With a Bang: Issue 12 Release

Posted: January 13, 2020 in Uncategorized

Broadswords and Blasters

Cover Image of Issue 12

Issue 12 will be the final issue of Broadswords and Blasters for the foreseeable future. Both editors are old enough to know that never is a really long time, so we aren’t permanently closing the door on it ever coming back, but we both acknowledged earlier this year that we were starting to get burnt out on the endeavor. We wanted to end while it was still fun and entertaining instead of trying to drive it down into dust. When will we be back? We can say with all honesty: We don’t know.

That said, we decided to go out in style with a tremendous double issue to celebrate three years of awesome New Pulp fiction. Because why go out with a whimper when you can go out with a bang?

J. Rohr returns to Broadswords and Blasters (he was last seen in issue 5)…

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Broadswords and Blasters

I’ve been a fan of Star Wars for as long as I can remember, but I’ve actually never been a fan of the Expanded Universe books and shows. Maybe it’s my character flaw, but nothing outside of the self-contained movie series has ever really captured my attention. I mean, I’ve read the Admiral Thrawn books and some of the New Jedi Order. The book Kenobi was decent enough, as have been some of the short story collections, but even those didn’t excite me the way the original trilogy did. People kept telling me to watch the CGI cartoons like Clone Wars and Rebels, but I can’t stand that kind of animation outside of video games. And, yes, I’ve played a lot of the games, but again they are sort of stored in a separate vault in my brain, alongside the tabletop RPG versions. They’re fun, but if they didn’t…

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Pulp Consumption: Storyhack #4

Posted: December 30, 2019 in Uncategorized

Broadswords and Blasters

Storyhack continues to put out an extremely professional looking magazine, and issue 4 is no exception. Each story comes with an internal illustration, and the external artwork leaves no doubt as to what the magazine is about. It is highly recommend for people who want action-adventure in their stories, but are less concerned with stories fitting within a certain genre as editor Bryce Beattie tends to pull from all conventions… so long as there is action to be had.

StoryHack Action & Adventure, Issue Four by [Beattie, Bryce, Blaylock, Sidney, Hart, Spencer, Restrick, Jason, Barrows, Brandon, Burnett, Misha, Frost, Julie, Mollison, Jon, Olsen, John, Mincemeyer, Damascus]

HawkeMoon by Sidney Blaylock, Jr. A king has been assassinated, so the captain of the royal guard goes in search of the one master assassin who was responsible… only it turns out she wasn’t the one behind it. This story is memorable for its characters, but even more so for the ultimate villain of the piece, The Scarecrow King.” I wished the setting had been a bit more developed than it…

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Broadswords and Blasters

Editors’ Note: Anthony Perconti lives and works in the hinterlands of New Jersey with his wife and kids. He enjoys well-crafted and engaging stories across a variety of genres and mediums.  His articles have appeared in several online venues and can be found on Twitter at @AnthonyPerconti.

Robert E. Howard’s novella Almuric[1] was his first and only foray into the ‘sword and planet’ subgenre of science fiction. Published posthumously in the pages of Weird Tales in 1939, Almuric recounts the trials and tribulations of Texan Esau Cairn on the savage planet of the story’s title. Howard presents a character, born in the wrong era, who is an out and out bruiser; a man so strong and physically imposing that he must always keep his strength in check. While on the run from the law for the accidental killing of the crooked political boss Blaine, he encounters one Professor…

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Issue 12 Cover Reveal

Posted: December 16, 2019 in Uncategorized

Broadswords and Blasters

Early on we were so excited about the cover art we had blog posts that were just cover reveals. We never lost the enthusiasm for the cover art, but somewhere along the way we just forgot to highlight it on its own. Well, let’s rectify that with the end of our third year of production, Issue 12. As always, Luke Spooner/Carrion House has knocked it right out of the park. This cover illustrates a scene from Anthony Pinkett’s “Aces and Rogues.” Issue 12 is scheduled for release around January 15th. Stay tuned for Kindle preorder information.

Cover of Issue 12, shows two starfighters roaring in from the top left.

Make sure you save a few dollars/pounds/yen/shekels/euros/etc from your holiday shopping. You’ll definitely want to get your hands on this beefy boy. You are reading that cover right: there are 18 authors listed, meaning this is indeed a double issue! Yes, we may be biased, but as a standalone issue, this really may be…

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Broadswords and Blasters

Yes, this actually captures the mood quite well.

Pulp Modern Tech Noir is the second barrel of bleak dark futurism that came out this fall (the first being from Switchblade which we covered last week). As it turned out, it was originally supposed to be a Switchblade only venture, but Scotch Rutherford had so many quality entries, he was able to talk Alec Cizak into taking some on. If Switchblade’s theme was the deal gone wrong and plans upended, this volume focused on the sex trade of the future because if one thing is true about humanity, it’s we haven’t lost our interest in the prurient, and the writers here don’t think we ever will.

Ran Scott provides a fantastic Blade Runner by way of a red-light
district wrap around cover, as well as lead in illustrations for each story to
set the tone.

C.W. Blackwell kicks things off…

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Cameron reviews SWITCHBLADE: TECH NOIR, which includes my short “Galatea in the Garden of Eden.”

Broadswords and Blasters

By now most of the New Pulp and PulpRev folk must have been exposed to the advertising for the crossover event of the year. Yes, I’m talking about the TechNoir special editions of Switchblade and Pulp Modern. Maybe Matt or I will cover the Pulp Modern issue next week, but today I’m going to focus on Switchblade.

First off, the covers for Switchblade are amazing. Editor Scotch Rutherford and I had a brief Twitter exchange this past week discussing good art–prompted by A.B. Patterson‘s tweet about putting together a collection of his stories. I said something about needing to pay good money for good art, and Scotch replied that good covers don’t always have to cost a lot. While that may be true for those with strong visual arts skills, I don’t think either Matt or I have the artistic eye to capture photographs quite the way…

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Broadswords and Blasters

Maxine Unleashes Doomsday by Nick Kolakowski
You wish your cover popped like this.

Nick Kolakowski (Boise Longpig Hunting Club, Slaughterhouse Blues, Main Bad Guy, et al) dropped this bomb of a book in our laps with a mad cackle before leaping into a stripped down war buggy with a fifty cal mounted on top…

Okay, so that’s not quite true, but this is one hell of a ride of a book packed with gun fights, snow plow thefts, rogue AI, car chases and crime. It’s a twenty minute leap into the future when the world (or at least humanity) is shuffling a bit closer to the edge of extinction, where all the current problems we’re seeing now (rising sea levels, crumbling infrastructure, corporations at the expense of people) is turned up to 11.

Enter Maxine, a born-loser, born into poverty and crime and with no clear way out. Her mother is reliant…

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