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Hugh Likes Fiction: Elder Race

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Elder Race
Written by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Published by tor.com

The Skinny – A braided novella that plays well with two very different set of tropes.

Lynesse Fourth Daughter is a princess on a noble quest. Perhaps the queen forbid her to get involved, and she doesn’t really know what she’s doing, but she’s off to a good start. She’s even recruited the legendary sorcerer Nyrgoth Elder to her side. Except that ‘Nyrgoth’ is in fact Nyr Illim Tevitch, a shlubby, depressed anthropologist from Earth, who should be studying the regressed society of interstellar colonists instead of playing wizard. But the rest of his team headed back to Earth centuries ago, and he hasn’t heard anything from them. And he’s lonely and depressed. But everything should work out fine, right?
Elder Race mixes far-future science fiction with old school sword and sorcery. Author Adrian Tchaikovsky weaves a deft course between genre tropes and delivers a stunning gut-punch of a novella packed with complex characters.
The story is split between the points of view of the main characters, switching off between Lynesse and Nyr as they go to confront a ‘demon’ causing havoc on the planet’s surface. Nyr is sure that this is just another bit of old technology that’s gotten out of hand. Lyn is sure that the Ancient Sorcerer will have no problems dealing with evil magic, as he did centuries before, when her ancestor called him. Of course, they’re both super wrong.
One of my favorite tricks Tchaikovsky plays with in this story is in the use of language. Nyr is constantly frustrated by the fact that he can’t even confess that he’s a charlatan, because all of this post-Earth cultur’e’s words for ‘scientist’ are also cognates for ‘wizard.’ By shifting perspective, the reader gets to understand both characters better than they do each other. There is even a great sequence where their text appears side by side, and the reader sees the same story as Nyr means to tell it and as Lyn hears it.
Tchiakovsky takes a warrior princess and a displaced sci-fi crew member and puts them into what amounts to a comedy of manners, with each struggling to both use the other to their own ends, and to understand one another. It’s a clever little story, and it surprised and moved me more than I expected.
Elder Race is a delightful spec-fic gem of a novella, and I highly recommend picking it up, whether you’re a fan of quests or post-human existential angst, it’s a cocktail sure to delight the palate.

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Everyday Drabbles #662: The Interrogation

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The detective lit his last cigarette, knowing the nearest corner store was an hour away by car. Outside the cabin, the tall grass waved in the red light of dawn. They’d been at this all night.
Across the table, the suspect combed her fingers through her hair and rested her chin on her palm. She didn’t look at all tired. Cigarette smoke drifted right through her and she didn’t even cough.
He hated interrogating ghosts. They just didn’t have the same buttons as the living.
“Let’s take it from the top. Where were you on the night you were killed?”

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Everyday Drabbles #647: The Telepath

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He had the power to read minds. If he could see a person, their thoughts would fill his head, as overwhelming as though they were shouting in his ear.
He wasn’t even able to watch television. Recorded images still broadcast the actors’ minds, and plots became lost in their anxieties and emotions. Just a photograph would cause him to experience a single sharp stab of memory.
He realized the problem was with his eyes. If he didn’t see the person, the thoughts couldn’t come through. The blindfold helped for a while.
Then he had to resort to more drastic measures.

Thanks for reading! You can support me and find links to all my other work via my Linktree!

Everyday Drabbles #646: The Ghost Ship

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The ghost ship appeared suddenly out of the fog, floating above the water on rotten boards and torn sails, threatening to overwhelm the little merchant ship.
The pilot rang the alarm bell as the crew panicked. “Quit your blubbering and get to your posts,” The captain growled. “Priests to the forecastle!”
A trio of holy men rushed on deck, each wearing the vestments of a different order. They chanted at the approaching craft, and it paused before fading back into the shadows.
The captain nodded, satisfied. The Haunted Sea was full of dangers, but it always paid to be prepared.

Thanks for reading! You can support me and find links to all my other work via my Linktree!

Everyday Drabbles #620: The Other Reindeer

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Everyone knows about Santa Claus’s eight flying reindeer. But few people wonder about how his counterpart, the Krampus travels in his grisly duty.
He too has a team of creatures that pull his sleigh, but you could scarce call them reindeer. They are monstrous, wild things, and when they are not in their master’s service, they roam this very wood.
Their antlers are a tangle of jagged bone, and their fang-filled mouths drip with an unjolly venom. They stalk after those who walk through the forest after dark, and they don’t care about naughty and nice.
You’d better watch out…

Thanks for reading! You can support me and find links to all my other work via my Linktree!

Everyday Drabbles #606: Conductor

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Three icy faces stared out at the applicant over the conference call. “I see you’ve conducted for the Boise Philharmonic, and San Antonio Public Transit?”
“Yes. I’ve conducted busses all over, actually.”
“This committee doesn’t appreciate jokes, Mr. Schwartzkopf.”
Saying nothing, he picked up his baton and made a few deft, quick strokes. There was an awkward silence before chaos erupted on one of the cameras. A blaring horn, breaking glass, the glare of headlights and the brief flash of a vehicle number and one of their colleagues dropped from the call.
“Shall we discuss compensation?” Schwartzkopf asked, grinning malevolently.

Thanks for reading! You can support me and find links to all my other work via my Linktree!

Everyday Drabbles #596: Shadowhuntr

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It was dark by the time he reached the abandoned factory. He found a dry patch of ground, set down his backpack and pulled out his lamp. The heavy-duty contractor’s lamp lit the space in a harsh LED glare. It was the lynchpin of his arsenal.
He took a quick look around, then launched the Shadowhuntr app on his phone. He was in the top five on the combination ARG and urban exploration toolkit. Tonight’s raid would take him over the top.
But he became so engrossed in checking his standings he never noticed the creature creeping up behind him.

Thanks for reading! You can support me and find links to all my other work via my Linktree!

Everyday Drabbles #585: Triumphant Return

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He returned victorious from his rounds with the moon still high in the sky.
He’d spread holiday cheer the world over. And if his cheeks felt a little too warm and he was weary to the bone, that was just proof of a good night’s work. As he touched down in his domain, he couldn’t help but smile as he looked down at a field of smiling faces.
He reminded himself that this was their success too. They had all worked hard all year to spread terror and darkness.
The pumpkin king howled to the moon. Another Halloween was finished.

Thanks for reading! You can support me and find links to all my other work via my Linktree!

Hugh Likes Comics: I Walk With Monsters

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I Walk With Monsters #1
Written by Paul Cornell
Drawn by Sally Cantirino
Colored by Dearbhla Kelly
Published by Vault Comics

The Skinny: Hunting monsters, both supernatural and human

Jacey and David hunt monsters in rural America. Jacey grew up with her brother Jace on a farm, and they both knew what their father did with the hands who came to briefly stay and help out. That was until Jace was sent away to stay with “An Important Man.” Now, she searches the backroads and dark underbelly of the heartland, searching for a clue to what happened to him. David’s story is more complex.
Paul Cornell’s dialog is a treat here. It has a simple elegance that works really well to convey character. Jacey snaps with defiant boredom while in the clutches of a serial killer, and the short, rote dialog between her and David in the next scene quickly conveys that they have been at this a while. The extraordinary has become routine. And when that all falls apart, the flashback scenes deliver very effective menacing dread.
Sally Cantirino’s art with Dearbhla Kelly’s colors create a moody and oppressive atmosphere. Figures face the reader and challenge their notions of comfort and security. With a palate of browns and dark yellows, they evoke an endless autumn, a dark and dying world.
I Walk With Monsters gives an intriguing glimpse into a world of monsters, serial killers, and rich, deep characters. You can find it digitally through Comixology, or in print at Your Local Comics Shop.

Publication Announcement: ‘The Head That Wears the Crown’ on the No Sleep Podcast!

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Hello readers!

Just in time for Halloween, my quick chiller, “The Head That Wears the Crown” has been featured on an episode of The No Sleep Podcast!
The story starts about 10 minutes in, is produced by Phil Michalski and read by David Ault and Erika Sanderson, and they all do a phenomenal job bringing the story to life.
You can listen to the story online HERE, or support the podcast by buying the full episode or a season pass.

Thanks for your support, and I hope you enjoy the story.

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