Review of High Couch of Silistra, the Author’s Cut, by Janet Morris

Review by Maddie M. originally published at: https://hedgehogbookreviews.com/2016/10/07/review-high-couch-of-silistra-by-janet-morris/

 

Review- High Couch of Silistra by Janet Morris

High Couch of Silistra by Janet Morris

imgresRating: 4/5 stars

-I would like to give a big thank you to Perseid Press for the paperback copy of this book!-

The men and women living on Silistra are governed by a hierarchy of sexual desire and fertility. Infertility is a widespread issue that allows the most sexually appealing women the greatest power. Estri is among the most powerful in the land—she holds the position of the high couch of Silistra. Estri’s mother died during childbirth and she has yet to know much about her father. She is sent on a quest to find her father and discover the secrets that his kind may hold.

In my opinion, this should be a classic science fiction book, especially for those who love female protagonists. Estri is a strong woman who leads with her body and her wit. She was really fun to join on this adventure across strange lands. I thought she was by far the most interesting character in the book, so I naturally paid a lot of attention to her and was left wanting more. I love strong-minded (and, in this case, bodied) women who don’t take any bs from men to whom they don’t owe anything. Go Estri!

I also thought it was cool to hear about the customs of these different societies that Morris so brilliantly created. Estri visits a few places that each have their own customs. I’m not sure how Morris made them so unique, but she found a way to make them all intriguing.

When I got to some of the first sexual scenes, I was a bit confused. I was thinking that Estri was submitting to men as a way of giving up. I soon realized that I was thinking in the mind of someone from our world, not Silistra’s. In actuality, Estri was pleasing these men as an act of power and domination. Switching into this mindset was very freeing.

I was searching for a good science fiction read, and I definitely found it. High Couch of Silistra is full of new cultures and creatures to study. I can’t stop thinking about how I really want to meet a hulion, a big cat with wings and a mane. I definitely want to read more of The Silistra quartet and follow Estri on more adventures. If you’re a science fiction lover (especially with a passion for female protagonists), you’ll love this book.

Interview with the Sacred Band’s Ghost Horse

See original post at:  https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/character-interview-ghost-horse-fantasy/?platform=hootsuite

Character Interview – Ghost Horse – Fantasy

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Something a little different today, we get to meet not only a brave animal but one who has lived and died and lived again.

Welcome to Ghost Horse, from the Sacred Band Books.

Tell Us About Yourself

Name (s):  Ghost-horse; the bay.  If you can hear me, you’ll know it.  I have no name in the way you mean.

Age:  thirteen years, interrupted by death and resurrection.

Please tell us a little about yourself:  A war-horse am I.  Strong and brave.  Straton’s horse am I, once found, then lost, then found again.  Of all the Sacred Band of Stepsons, Ace called Straton alone now rides me.  When he’s astride my broad back, nothing is impossible.

Describe your appearance in 10 words or less:  Sixteen hands, blood bay war horse, broad backed and strong.

Do you have a moral code? If so what is it?  A moral code?  Bear my rider whence he must go, forever.  Run far and fast.  Bring my rider’s battle to his enemies.  Charge boldly; never falter; never hesitate; refuse no challenge.  Feel the love, hear the words of my human partner…

Would you kill for those you love?  I do.

Would you die for those you love?  I have done so.  And been brought back to life for my human partner’s sake thereafter.  Now nothing harms me, no metal cuts me; in any battle, my blood never spills. Nowadays I do not die for love; I live for love – the love of my human partner, Straton.

What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses.  Carrots and sugar-beets, those my weaknesses, which I dearly love.  Running over green grass, into battle, finding the safest path to victory for my rider, protecting him and all his Sacred Band:  these are my strengths:  As the only ghost-horse of the Stepsons, my place is always in the forefront:  with Straton I forge new ground; I bear him everywhere, unflinching.  Such service we have seen, such places far and wide, as few horses ever see.

Do you have any relationships you prize above others? Ace called Straton, the right rider for this broad back; the right partner for my battles.

Do you like animals? Do you have any pets/animal companions?  Do I like other horses?  As with men, some horses are brave, some cowardly; some generous, some churls.  I was bitten in the throat by a man who attacked me as if he were a dog, once.  So dogs are not my friends.  Sometimes a cat will bide with me, in this stall or that.  I like cats:  they give loyalty when deserved; they are rightly cautious.

Do you have a family? Tell us about them.  I have been a cavalry horse since I was two, and chosen from a band of captured bachelors.  Straton has brought me up; he is all I trust, all I love; he is my family.  Sometimes he finds me a mare or two, but battle is my greatest passion:  in war, Straton and I find our greatest joy.  Sometimes we run for the sheer bliss, over vast plains and through forest, with no enemy in sight.  Straton’s lover, Ischade, resurrected me after the dog attacked me, after the battle in which I was mortally wounded. She loves Straton; I love Straton, so Ischade is, in some ways, under my protection.  Up behind Straton she sometimes rides me, and then no place is too far, no goal to loft, for us three

Can you remember something from your childhood which influences your behaviour? How do you think it influences you? I remember the day Straton chose me, the look in his eye, the apple in his hand.  He sent me to other men, to teach me the ways of war, and got me back again.  We have thundered into so many battles, even the Battle of Chaeronea together.  With Straton astride me, I never doubt, I never fear.  Wherever he wills to go, I can carry him, be it to hell itself and back again.  This I believe because Straton knows it:  whatever my rider thinks, I know to be true.  Wherever he wants to go, I will take him.  Whatever he needs, I try to be.  So Straton gives me the wants, the needs, the courage of a man, and I show him the wants, the needs, the courage of a horse, and together we are indomitable. A horse wants to fight or flee, as does a man; deciding which is my rider’s task.  Making his wishes real, that is mine.

Do you have any phobias?  Dogs and the men who become them.

Please give us an interesting and unusual fact about yourself. I have a spot on my withers where men can see into hell itself, and a spot on my hip where they can see into nothing at all.

Tell Us About Your World

Please give us a little information about the world in which you live:  The world in which I live is wherever my rider, Ace called Straton, wishes to go.  I have fought on Wizardwall, against the black mages of Nisibis.  I have fought on the battlefield of Chaeronea; I have fought in mystical Meridian.  Since I was foaled in Syr, I have been adventuring:  first among the other horses, until the mares cast us bachelors out; then in the high steppe country, and at last as a war-horse of first Straton and then the greater Sacred Band.  We fight in the forefront; we travel by cloud conveyance from war to war.  We have numinous allies to take us any place in space and time.  Except for my rider and the witch who loves him, all I care for is contained in Tempus’ Sacred Band.  And someday, Straton has promised me, we three will ride forever, away from witchery and angry men, in the green fields of the gods.

Does your world have religion or other spiritual beliefs? A horse believes what he can see and feel, and is bred to tell what he can trust.  We have our gods, you know:  Epona, Poseidon, Hekate, and the war gods before them:  a war-horse gives his life into his rider’s hands, and that rider gives all to the gods.  My world is full of enemies, who’d eat a horse as soon as kill a man, and those enemies have rival gods.  So we war-horses fight on the side of right, as our riders see it.  And that will never change, has been the same since the first gods were foaled.

If so do you follow one of them? I follow the gods of Ace, called Straton.  As long as he lives, that will never change.

Please describe (briefly) how this affects your behaviour:  I am a war-horse, so I go to war.  With Ace called Straton astride, I do the needful, all his gods command, since his gods are also mine.  I am a peace-keeper, so I ply angry streets.  I am an explorer, so I lope where no horse has ever gone before.

Do you travel in the course of your adventures? If so where?  I go where Ace called Straton needs to go.  I fight for him, with him, beside him.  I keep him safe whether we are in this world or another.  Anyplace a horse can go, I take him – even a world away.  I have spun in whirlwinds unto foreign lands, even Thrace and Scythia and on from there.  Not future or past or anywhere is barred from the Sacred Band of Stepsons, so in ranks we sortie.  Even Tempus, the Riddler, has commended me in public for my bravery, when I have fought in dimensions some horses never tread, and more farther realms lie just ahead….

Name and describe a food from your world.  Salt hay, tender and tan, bluest grass bitten right from the earth, roots and dirt and all; fat oats, steamed until their hulls break open; corn and molasses and flaxseed mashed.  My favorites though, are carrots with their green and lacy tops, and chunks of tender sugar-beet.

Does your world have magic? If so how is it viewed in your world?  Magic is the necromant who resurrected me, gave me a chance to come back to this world for the rider whom I love.  Some think magic is aught than natural; I say magic is the wind in your mane, yielding turf underfoot, and a rider on a mission.

What form of politics is dominant in your world?  Politics are for mares and men, not for stallions.  I will walk upon my hind legs to strike any enemy of my rider or my mares and foals.  I will trample jackals and lions and feral dogs.  I believe in giving one warning squeal, and a bellow of promise; then I strike, unashamed, to defend what is mine:  that is the extent of politics for me.  The rest is clacking of jaws and whistles on the air.

Does your world have different races of people?  We have humans of every color and belief and shape and size, just as we have horses as diverse.  In a herd of horses, as in a crowd of people, those who are alike band together against those of different nature.

Name a couple of myths and legends particular to your culture/people. In ancient times, Zeus gave two horses to Tros, king of Troy, to console the king after the god had taken Ganymede for his young lover.  From those great horses, the best, the strongest, the fastest horses are sprung.

What is the technology level for your world/place of residence? We have chariot with metal-bound wheels and axles fitted with scythes.  Some of us wear armor, felt or scales of metal.  Some of us have iron shoes upon our hooves.   What item would you not be able to live without?  My rider.

Does your world have any supernatural/mystical beings? Please tell us about some.  This world is full of gods, mages, shape-shifters; and demi-gods, and elementals – even a demiurge or two and creatures who spawn weather gods and fashion fates.

Within your civilisation what do you think is the most important discovery/invention? Horsemanship, so that we and our riders can be better partners.

Name three persons of influence/renown within your society and tell why they are influential (Could be someone like Christ/Mandela/Queen Elizabeth or a renowned figure from a non-human/fantasy world.)  Hekate, goddess of race horses.   The Hippoi Athanatoi, the immortal horses of the gods themselves, offspring of the weather gods themselves; and all the Hittite god of horses, Tarhun, in and of himself a storm god.

Author notes:

Book(s) in which this character appears plus links

The Sacred Band  http://www.amazon.com/Sacred-Band-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B00AMLKJAI

The Fish the Fighters and the Storm God  http://www.amazon.com/Fish-Fighters-Song-Girl-Sacred-Stepsons-ebook/dp/B007VQIJFY

Author name: Janet Morris and Chris Morris

 

Website/Blog/Author pages etc.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sacred_Band_of_Stepsons

https://www.facebook.com/TheSacredBand

https://www.facebook.com/JanetMorrisandChrisMorris

https://www.facebook.com/JanetEMorris

https://www.facebook.com/christophercmorrissings

https://www.facebook.com/fishfightersonggirl

https://www.facebook.com/SacredBandBeyondTriolgy

https://www.facebook.com/PerseidPublishing

http://www.theperseidpress.com/

http://sacredbander.com/

http://www.amazon.com/Janet-Morris/e/B001HPJJB8/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janet_Morris

http://www.amazon.com/Chris-Morris/e/B008L41JNO/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_2

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Morris_(author)

Character Interview: Nikodemos of the Sacred Band

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Character Interview Number Three – Nikodemos – Fantasy/Mythic

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Welcome to Nikodemos, of the Sacred Band.

Tell Us About Yourself

Name (s):  I am Stealth called Nikodemos; Niko to my friends.

Age:  How do you mean?  I have spent five years in the City at the Edge of Time, where time doesn’t pass, and lived now and again on Lemuria, where the Band is based, and where mortals do not age.  When I joined Tempus’ Sacred Band with my first partner, I claimed twenty-five years, not quite true, but I’d already been a right-side partner for nine years.  I have served sixteen years with the Stepsons.  So, thirty-seven, perhaps, as mortals count time.

Please tell us a little about yourself.  First I should tell you that I answer your questions only at my commander’s order.  I’m overall second in command and hipparch, or cavalry commander, of the Unified Sacred Band of Stepsons.  I manage our prodromoi, our skirmisher light cavalry, as well as our heavy cavalry.  I am a committed Sacred Bander, right-side partner of our commander, Tempus, called the Riddler, the Black, the Sleepless One, the Obscure, Favorite of the Storm God.  I am also a secular Bandaran adept, initiate of the mystery of Maat.  I’ve claimed Enlil when I have needed a tutelary god.  These days, the goddess Harmony calls me her own.  I’m not a man for words.

Describe your appearance in 10 words or less.  Tall, but shorter than Tempus.  Hazel-eyed.  Dark-haired.  Fit.

Do you have a moral code? If so what is it?  The Sacred Band Ethos guides me.  I am still learning what the Riddler has to teach.  I strive for balance in all things.  Stepsons should want neither too much to live nor too much to die.  To serve with the Band requires unflinching determination; unwavering devotion – to one another, to honor, to creed.  I’m Bandaran at my core: venerating the elder gods, but worshiping only the god within.  The Band says, ‘Life to you, and everlasting glory.’  I don’t ask destiny even that much.  Only to be useful while I live.

Would you kill for those you love?  I have.  I do.  It’s what I am:  a fighter.  I told you:  My mystery is maat, one of seeking balance and equilibrium, truth and justice. On occasion, I become justice incarnate, when justice must be dispensed with a sword.

Would you die for those you love?  I am a Stepson.  So, of course.  If you are really asking about my being immortalized by Harmony, I will tell you only that what is between me and the goddess is ours alone, not yours to know.

What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses?  We are all weak, even those of us, like my commander or myself, who’ve been immortalized by some god or goddess or touched by sorcery.  I’m a Bandaran fighter.  I have a calling:  I take my strength, my mystery, my spirit and my skill out into the World and challenge its evil until it wears me down. Then I return home to Bandara or lately to Lemuria, restore my internal equilibrium, and do the same again.

If I must confess a flaw to you – and only the gods know why – it would be that I ask too much, not only from others, but from myself.

Do you have any relationships you prize above others?  Ah, the women.  Everyone asks about how a Sacred Bander can love so many women.  It’s a soul that calls me, not the size of breast or buttocks.  But yes, I love women as well as men and horses, and the sun that’s new every day, and weather on the wind.  Without love, how can a man live fully the life that the gods bequeath?

My relationship with my commander is most important:  love without limits, wisdom beyond price; leadership is what he teaches, and commitment beyond measure.  I know I’m imperfect, still young in his sight, still balancing my rage.  More now than ever, since the goddess Harmony touched me, I need his guidance.

And there’s Harmony herself.  That this goddess favors me, gave me that great horse, is beyond my ken but she’s goddess of the Balance, after all.

Above all else come my brothers of the Sacred Band.

And Randal, although he’s a mage and a shape-shifter, was once a partner to me and still like a brother.  Not every man is alike in mind: our differences define us.

Do you like animals?  I love the Band’s Tros horses, and the horses we bred up in Free Nisibis, and the black horse the goddess gave me.  Love is vulnerability, you must understand:  love comes at the risk of grief.  I’m careful how much vulnerability I court.

Do you have a family?  More than one:  The Unified Sacred Band of Stepsons; Bashir and the freemen of Nisibis; the adepts of Bandara.

Can you remember something from your childhood which influences your behaviour?  Too much suffering, too much death.  Terror in war.  Slavery and sorcery.  And then a left-side leader who loved me and made a man of a foolish boy.

Do you have any phobias?  Witches.  Warlocks.  Arrogance.  Stupidity.  Stupidity kills more than all else.

Please give us an interesting and unusual fact about yourself.  I was courted by the entelechy of dreams who gave me a charmed panoply forged in hell itself.  I was stalked by a witch.  The Greek goddess Harmonia is my current lover.  Pick any one.

Tell Us About your World

Please give us a little information about the world in which you live.  These days I live with the Band.  Lately we’ve been in Thrace.  When we’re not campaigning, we billet in Lemuria.   There the Riddler’s sister rules with unchallengeable power from behind its sheer seaside walls.  From there we fight where the commander and his woman send us, anywhere in space and time – past, future, other realms.

Does your world have religion or other spiritual beliefs?  So many.  What’s between men and gods powers all.  We fight in theomachy, too often:  Tempus is Favorite of the Storm God, so we fight a lot of wars.

Do you travel in the course of your adventures? If so where?  Where?  Sometimes, a world away.  Wherever Cime, the Evening Star of Lemuria, decrees.  To places decoupled from time and space, like Bandara or Meridian or the City, or Thrace.  We’ve been places others only dream of.  We fought in a future so far away that the seas were dead.  We fought in a place so primitive ancient beasts walked the earth.  Sometimes we slip through gates between dimensions…  I’m a simple fighter.  Ask Tempus and Cime these questions, not me.  We go where he leads, we fight where he puts us.

Name and describe a food from your world.  Nisibisi blood wine, made with bullock blood.  Possets of watered wine with cheese and nuts and barley.

Does your world have magic?  If so how is it viewed in your world?  You jest.  We fought a war for more than a decade against sorcery, thought we’d won it, but now fight the mages yet again in other realms.

What form of politics is dominant in your world? (Democracy, Theocracy, Meritocracy, Monarchy, Kakistocracy etc.)  An intellectual said we are timocrats.  What that means, I don’t know.  We fight for honor and our commander, not for place or race or national goals.  Dominant in our world are fools and kings and reavers and their sorcerous allies, who scheme under any name that will give them greater power.  They try to seize control of everything and everyone.

Does your world have different races of people? If so do they get on with one another?Races vie for power.  People hate anyone different, then deem them soulless, then try to wipe them out.  Tempus says that, absent reason, men will fight over eye-color, hue of skin or heavenly affiliation.

Name a couple of myths and legends particular to your culture/people.  We have no myths, except perhaps the one that says no nation can lose if Tempus and the Band fight on its side.  We have truths and realities, sometimes long forgot and often twisted, that fools think are myths, going back to the time of Gilgamesh.

What is the technology level for your world?  Tempus and his sister have the Lemurian windows, to take you anyplace in space and time.  We use repeating crossbows; some forged iron, some poor steel, some bronze, but well forged bronze still bests iron.  We have naphtha and poisons, great ships and more, and cloud-conveyance.  But what difference?  It’s the man, not the weapon, that wins the day.

Does your world have any supernatural beings?  Supernatural?  Like the entelechy of dreams who is regent of the seventh sphere?  Or do you mean the gods?  Jihan, the Froth Daughter?  Witches?  Sorcerers.  Some mainlanders say that we Bandarans do the same as sorcerers, just under another name.  Mystical creatures?  Of course.  Naiads.  Erinyes.  We have devils, demons, fiends, snakes that change shape, giant vipers and rocs and eagles.  Don’t you?  We have zombies, vampires, necromants; even a ghost horse, Straton’s mount. And our warrior-mage Randal, one of our bravest fighters, can become a dog or an eagle when he must…

Author notes: Novels(s) in which Nikodemos appears.

Beyond Sanctuary (1985), (2013), Janet Morrishttp://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Sanctuary-Sacred-Band-Stepsons-ebook/dp/B00GU0FPDG

Beyond the Veil (1985), (2013), Janet Morris http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Veil-Sacred-Band-Stepsons-ebook/dp/B00GU0FIG0

Beyond Wizardwall (1986), (2013) Janet Morrishttp://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Wizardwall-Sacred-Band-Stepsons-ebook/dp/B00GU0FH6G

Tempus (1987), (2011) Janet Morris http://www.amazon.com/Tempus-Sacred-Band-Stepsons-Tales-ebook/dp/B00BI175EY
City at the Edge of Time (1988), Janet Morris and Chris Morris
Tempus Unbound (1989), Janet Morris and Chris Morris
Storm Seed (1990), Janet Morris and Chris Morris

The Sacred Band (2010), Janet Morris and Chris Morrishttp://www.amazon.com/Sacred-Band-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B00AMLKJAI

The Fish the Fighters and the Song-girl (2010), Janet Morris and Chris Morris,http://www.amazon.com/Fish-Fighters-Song-Girl-Sacred-Stepsons-ebook/dp/B007VQIJFY/ref=pd_sim_kstore_2

Nikodemos  also appears in Morris & Morris Sacred Band of Stepsons stories set in the Thieves’ World shared universe, including:

“Wizard Weather,” Storm Season, Ace 1982

“High Moon,” Face of Chaos, Ace 1983

“Hell to Pay,” The Dead of Winter, Ace 1985

“Power Play,” copyright (C) Janet Morris, Soul of the City, 1986

“Pillar of Fire,” copyright (C) Janet Morris, Soul of the City, 1986

Author name:Janet Morris

Chris Morris

Website/Blog/Author pages etc.

theperseidpress.com

sacredbander.com

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janet_Morris

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Morris_(author)

https://www.facebook.com/PerseidPublishing

https://www.facebook.com/TheSacredBand

https://www.facebook.com/SacredBandBeyondTriolgy

https://www.facebook.com/tempusandniko

https://www.facebook.com/fishfightersonggirl

https://www.facebook.com/JanetMorrisandChrisMorris

The Ghost Horse Interview from the Sacred Band of Stepsons series

see original link at: https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/character-interview-ghost-horse-fantasy/?platform=hootsuite

 

Welcome to Ghost Horse, from the Sacred Band Books.

Tell Us About Yourself

Name (s):  Ghost-horse; the bay.  If you can hear me, you’ll know it.  I have no name in the way you mean.

Age:  thirteen years, interrupted by death and resurrection.

Please tell us a little about yourself:  A war-horse am I.  Strong and brave.  Straton’s horse am I, once found, then lost, then found again.  Of all the Sacred Band of Stepsons, Ace called Straton alone now rides me.  When he’s astride my broad back, nothing is impossible.

Describe your appearance in 10 words or less:  Sixteen hands, blood bay war horse, broad backed and strong.

Do you have a moral code? If so what is it?  A moral code?  Bear my rider whence he must go, forever.  Run far and fast.  Bring my rider’s battle to his enemies.  Charge boldly; never falter; never hesitate; refuse no challenge.  Feel the love, hear the words of my human partner…

Would you kill for those you love?  I do.

Would you die for those you love?  I have done so.  And been brought back to life for my human partner’s sake thereafter.  Now nothing harms me, no metal cuts me; in any battle, my blood never spills. Nowadays I do not die for love; I live for love – the love of my human partner, Straton.

What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses.  Carrots and sugar-beets, those my weaknesses, which I dearly love.  Running over green grass, into battle, finding the safest path to victory for my rider, protecting him and all his Sacred Band:  these are my strengths:  As the only ghost-horse of the Stepsons, my place is always in the forefront:  with Straton I forge new ground; I bear him everywhere, unflinching.  Such service we have seen, such places far and wide, as few horses ever see.

Do you have any relationships you prize above others? Ace called Straton, the right rider for this broad back; the right partner for my battles.

Do you like animals? Do you have any pets/animal companions?  Do I like other horses?  As with men, some horses are brave, some cowardly; some generous, some churls.  I was bitten in the throat by a man who attacked me as if he were a dog, once.  So dogs are not my friends.  Sometimes a cat will bide with me, in this stall or that.  I like cats:  they give loyalty when deserved; they are rightly cautious.

Do you have a family? Tell us about them.  I have been a cavalry horse since I was two, and chosen from a band of captured bachelors.  Straton has brought me up; he is all I trust, all I love; he is my family.  Sometimes he finds me a mare or two, but battle is my greatest passion:  in war, Straton and I find our greatest joy.  Sometimes we run for the sheer bliss, over vast plains and through forest, with no enemy in sight.  Straton’s lover, Ischade, resurrected me after the dog attacked me, after the battle in which I was mortally wounded. She loves Straton; I love Straton, so Ischade is, in some ways, under my protection.  Up behind Straton she sometimes rides me, and then no place is too far, no goal to loft, for us three

Can you remember something from your childhood which influences your behaviour? How do you think it influences you? I remember the day Straton chose me, the look in his eye, the apple in his hand.  He sent me to other men, to teach me the ways of war, and got me back again.  We have thundered into so many battles, even the Battle of Chaeronea together.  With Straton astride me, I never doubt, I never fear.  Wherever he wills to go, I can carry him, be it to hell itself and back again.  This I believe because Straton knows it:  whatever my rider thinks, I know to be true.  Wherever he wants to go, I will take him.  Whatever he needs, I try to be.  So Straton gives me the wants, the needs, the courage of a man, and I show him the wants, the needs, the courage of a horse, and together we are indomitable. A horse wants to fight or flee, as does a man; deciding which is my rider’s task.  Making his wishes real, that is mine.

Do you have any phobias?  Dogs and the men who become them.

Please give us an interesting and unusual fact about yourself. I have a spot on my withers where men can see into hell itself, and a spot on my hip where they can see into nothing at all.

Tell Us About Your World

Please give us a little information about the world in which you live:  The world in which I live is wherever my rider, Ace called Straton, wishes to go.  I have fought on Wizardwall, against the black mages of Nisibis.  I have fought on the battlefield of Chaeronea; I have fought in mystical Meridian.  Since I was foaled in Syr, I have been adventuring:  first among the other horses, until the mares cast us bachelors out; then in the high steppe country, and at last as a war-horse of first Straton and then the greater Sacred Band.  We fight in the forefront; we travel by cloud conveyance from war to war.  We have numinous allies to take us any place in space and time.  Except for my rider and the witch who loves him, all I care for is contained in Tempus’ Sacred Band.  And someday, Straton has promised me, we three will ride forever, away from witchery and angry men, in the green fields of the gods.

Does your world have religion or other spiritual beliefs? A horse believes what he can see and feel, and is bred to tell what he can trust.  We have our gods, you know:  Epona, Poseidon, Hekate, and the war gods before them:  a war-horse gives his life into his rider’s hands, and that rider gives all to the gods.  My world is full of enemies, who’d eat a horse as soon as kill a man, and those enemies have rival gods.  So we war-horses fight on the side of right, as our riders see it.  And that will never change, has been the same since the first gods were foaled.

If so do you follow one of them? I follow the gods of Ace, called Straton.  As long as he lives, that will never change.

Please describe (briefly) how this affects your behaviour:  I am a war-horse, so I go to war.  With Ace called Straton astride, I do the needful, all his gods command, since his gods are also mine.  I am a peace-keeper, so I ply angry streets.  I am an explorer, so I lope where no horse has ever gone before.

Do you travel in the course of your adventures? If so where?  I go where Ace called Straton needs to go.  I fight for him, with him, beside him.  I keep him safe whether we are in this world or another.  Anyplace a horse can go, I take him – even a world away.  I have spun in whirlwinds unto foreign lands, even Thrace and Scythia and on from there.  Not future or past or anywhere is barred from the Sacred Band of Stepsons, so in ranks we sortie.  Even Tempus, the Riddler, has commended me in public for my bravery, when I have fought in dimensions some horses never tread, and more farther realms lie just ahead….

Name and describe a food from your world.  Salt hay, tender and tan, bluest grass bitten right from the earth, roots and dirt and all; fat oats, steamed until their hulls break open; corn and molasses and flaxseed mashed.  My favorites though, are carrots with their green and lacy tops, and chunks of tender sugar-beet.

Does your world have magic? If so how is it viewed in your world?  Magic is the necromant who resurrected me, gave me a chance to come back to this world for the rider whom I love.  Some think magic is aught than natural; I say magic is the wind in your mane, yielding turf underfoot, and a rider on a mission.

What form of politics is dominant in your world?  Politics are for mares and men, not for stallions.  I will walk upon my hind legs to strike any enemy of my rider or my mares and foals.  I will trample jackals and lions and feral dogs.  I believe in giving one warning squeal, and a bellow of promise; then I strike, unashamed, to defend what is mine:  that is the extent of politics for me.  The rest is clacking of jaws and whistles on the air.

Does your world have different races of people?  We have humans of every color and belief and shape and size, just as we have horses as diverse.  In a herd of horses, as in a crowd of people, those who are alike band together against those of different nature.

Name a couple of myths and legends particular to your culture/people. In ancient times, Zeus gave two horses to Tros, king of Troy, to console the king after the god had taken Ganymede for his young lover.  From those great horses, the best, the strongest, the fastest horses are sprung.

What is the technology level for your world/place of residence? We have chariot with metal-bound wheels and axles fitted with scythes.  Some of us wear armor, felt or scales of metal.  Some of us have iron shoes upon our hooves.   What item would you not be able to live without?  My rider.

Does your world have any supernatural/mystical beings? Please tell us about some.  This world is full of gods, mages, shape-shifters; and demi-gods, and elementals – even a demiurge or two and creatures who spawn weather gods and fashion fates.

Within your civilisation what do you think is the most important discovery/invention? Horsemanship, so that we and our riders can be better partners.

Name three persons of influence/renown within your society and tell why they are influential (Could be someone like Christ/Mandela/Queen Elizabeth or a renowned figure from a non-human/fantasy world.)  Hekate, goddess of race horses.   The Hippoi Athanatoi, the immortal horses of the gods themselves, offspring of the weather gods themselves; and all the Hittite god of horses, Tarhun, in and of himself a storm god.

Author notes:

Book(s) in which this character appears plus links

The Sacred Band  http://www.amazon.com/Sacred-Band-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B00AMLKJAI

The Fish the Fighters and the Storm God  http://www.amazon.com/Fish-Fighters-Song-Girl-Sacred-Stepsons-ebook/dp/B007VQIJFY

Author name: Janet Morris and Chris Morris

 

Website/Blog/Author pages etc.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sacred_Band_of_Stepsons

https://www.facebook.com/TheSacredBand

https://www.facebook.com/JanetMorrisandChrisMorris

https://www.facebook.com/JanetEMorris

https://www.facebook.com/christophercmorrissings

https://www.facebook.com/fishfightersonggirl

https://www.facebook.com/SacredBandBeyondTriolgy

https://www.facebook.com/PerseidPublishing

http://www.theperseidpress.com/

http://sacredbander.com/

http://www.amazon.com/Janet-Morris/e/B001HPJJB8/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janet_Morris

http://www.amazon.com/Chris-Morris/e/B008L41JNO/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_2

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Morris_(author)

Interview from the Void: Chris Morris by Donny Swords

It is my honor to introduce Christopher Crosby Morris.  His passion to connect with life, and its people, and to be an honest, true voice that shines out is an extremely valuable blessing.  I have had the opportunity to interview Janet Morris his extraordinarily talented wife already.  I knew Chris’ responses would be very informative.  I had no idea how insightful of an interview I was in for.  I am humbled.  Chris Morris possesses fiber, that something which took years of practice, and years of pushing beyond mastery to possess.  His writing- no matter the medium, whether you prefer audiobooks, music, or written prose challenges and moves the mind into directions not often pursued, but well worth the journey.  I have been listening to Chris narration of the Sacred Band available on audio lately, and as a singer who has studied formerly under one of the greatest voice instructors of all time I have to say that I would not be able to deliver so much substance, such enriching quality in my deliveries, even using my characters. In short, Chris Morris is astounding.  Keep reading to begin finding out why.

Hello, thank you for agreeing to the interview.  Would you tell us a little about yourself?
A must have! Click Here.My pleasure. My consuming passion is voice in all its aspects, but especially as it manifests in storytelling, both in prose and verse, literature and song. Metaphorically voice represents many things, even the sum of a life. Voice is a double-edged sword we learn to wield to our benefit or detriment. Most recently I’ve assumed the task of narrating our prose catalog and am thrilling to offer publicly what has heretofore been a private but seminal feature of our writing process.
 
You write as a team with your wife Janet Morris.  When did you first become drawn to writing, was it before or after you met her?
Before. Since childhood I’ve enjoyed arranging words to varied effect. In my youth I became a marvelous liar, more because of my fascination with discerning and fabricating what people wanted to hear than from mischievous or malicious intent. When Janet and I met our first collaborations were songs, many of which I still perform today — they are that good. She wrote stories from a very early age. A lasting part of our attraction was and is a shared desire to precisely express what life is showing us, and that means capturing those observations in story form. The difference — or complementarity — between us is that she is expansionist in her portrayals and I am reductionist.
 
You are a musician, when did you start playing?  What instruments do you play?
My older sister and brother proved miserable piano students, so our parents decided that Christopher could do without. Unbeknownst to me (and thankfully so), I was spared the disadvantage of entering musical life through the doorway of percussion. I’m a baritone and baritones seldom wow anyone vocally until the instrument develops, usually in one’s mid- to late twenties. Therefore my public school music teacher, Ms. Hutton, smiled commiseratingly and showed me to a seat with alto boys whose glee club lot was to huff and puff in support of the shrill girls reciting rote melodies. I loved it: anonymity and license to experiment with pitches against a preprogrammed backdrop of boys droning away predictably. In short, I sang, and still sing, first and foremost. And I utterly believe that all music in the human bandwidth derives from controlled breathing.
Guitar started for me at age eleven and is my most satisfying lifetime tool-oriented skill path, several times requiring me to experience the miracle of starting over in order to thoroughly master basic aspects. At this point I am pretty deeply into creating digital models of guitars impossible to achieve in strictly analog settings; I use custom built guitars with Graphtech’s Ghost hexaphonic sensors fed to Roland’s VG99 effects unit, then into a Yamaha board (with my vocal mic) and out in stereo to one of two twin Bose tower monitor systems (L1 and/or L1 Compact) so I am always in the same sound field as any listener. This all stems from wanting a bigger – not louder – guitar sound. I “build” a guitar for any song that needs something a little different and now have twenty or thirty pretty amazing guitars dial-able from one setup. Can’t wait for you to come check it out, and we be jammin’ man.
 
To me the guitar is a universe of possibilities, which is the same with writing.  Do you ever feel limited by people’s expectations of you and your crafts?
I could spend an hour on your first statement here, but will answer the question bit first. No, I no longer feel constrained due to others’ irrational calculations of what comprises art. I say ‘no longer’ because every creative must ascend from the pit of self-doubt into the light of self-knowledge and mastery through determined focus and practice. In his autobiography Miles Davis stated the gospel: “The most difficult thing a musician can do is sound like himself.” And, as you said in that first sentence, it’s “…the same with writing.”
 
When I played onstage I got instant feedback as to how I was doing.  I often find it difficult when I release a book and it gets less attention than I’d hoped.  Does your perception of what you feel will or won’t be received well change when you consider your fan base?
Buy Music
No, nor should it for you. This is a variant of the last question, but with a putative contrast between two, on the surface, apparently different art forms. Beneath the surface however they are so closely related as to be nearly identical: they are both listening sports, simultaneously involving the sources and receivers and overlapping the roles of each. Anything you can say of one has an obvious parallel in the other, the biggest difference being in rate of transmission.
One of the glories of human consciousness is that we can hear ourselves hearing ourselves. Shakespeare was the first to portray characters listening to their own inner voice, “the invention of the human” as Harold Bloom calls it. In both music and literature you are your own first audience and, if you like what you hear, by any and all means do not hesitate to proceed for want of external approbation. They are your audience, not your judges. Disregard this truth and that way lies madness.
 
Get your copy here Does a really good review feel as good as a standing ovation at a gig, or are they apples and oranges?
Glad you asked. Distrust both. If you pin your self-esteem to them and their approbation or lack thereof, you are lost. As Heraclitus said, “He who is praised to the skies lives a life of fantasy.”
 
You and your wife Janet are a team, how does that dynamic play out when you are developing a novel?  When it is underway?
Our novels develop from conversations reaching a point where further elucidation will best be accomplished by the exploration of personality(ies) in our case, fictional heroes — living their way through circumstances embodying the challenge under consideration. Our working definition of a hero is one who struggles in service to an ideal; if we run out of ideals we may write a different sort of book, but that protagonist would most likely be struggling to find out what happened to all the missing ideals … hmmm.
When the book is under way it’s buckle up time, the blessed state, because (and this is hard for many of our writer buddies to accept) we honestly don’t know everything that’s going to happen. The way to find out the details is to go where only the characters can take us. By that time we are way onboard and strapped in and boldly going we know not where, but headed for a climax we’ve seen but not yet lived. Fun or what? Is it real? For us and the characters, you bet. Does it have that precious quality of feeling true to life? Yup. That’s the reward of the collaborative arrangement; it imparts a binaural, binocular, bi-conscious view of uncertainty, which we and a host of readers find magnetic.
 
When you edit do you have a process?
When Janet began drafting (typing, mind you) High Couch of Silistra I would read her day’s output (and still do) aloud, because sound is primary to my apprehension, especially if analytics are involved. When I draft we do the same. Although it might seem laborious, this actually saves time and speeds up the rate at which we achieve publishable work. Linguistic anomalies can be heard by the ear and missed by the eye; our editing voice benefits from two sets of each. I’m frequently amazed at how much a slight alteration of pitch or emphasis can inform the net effect of syntax. If we have a passage that wants to be heard a certain way it’s incumbent on us to nail the punctuation so the experienced reader ‘hears’ it.
 
Since you began as a published author, how have things changed?
It might be easier to list what hasn’t changed, but for those tuning in late there’s: lots more slush being published and given away; increased ability of content providers to call the shots at every production level; no more meddling middle-folk; no more security of the reasonable advance for a multi-book deal; lots more transparency; even more slush being published and given away; piracy; more feedback from readers and trolls; general confusion as to what intellectual property is and how to preserve ownership of it; still more slush being published and given away; genre-fication whelping a litter of niche-of-a-niche-of-a-niche popularity contests; ability to purchase emblems of legitimacy bestowed for a price by formerly powerful arbiters of taste such as Kirkus; global reach to millions of readers; yet more slush being published and given away, or did I say that enough?
 
One of your recent projects was narrating the audio book “The Sacred Band”.  Could you tell us what it takes to accomplish such a feat?
Like anything worth doing, it takes tenacity and focus. Because it was a first-time project The Sacred Band audio book involved a learning curve which added time and cost. I’m a team player and narration has a solitary aspect to it; I’m getting accustomed to it, but I was grateful for the technical assistance of a good friend who babysat me as I got this first one recorded over a period of a little more than a year. If I narrated full time it might now take me only eight or nine weeks. I’m working in Adobe Audition and can handle everything up to but not including audio-post mastering chores (adding noise reduction, some compression and normalization processing before converting to Mp3 for submission). I am an ACX.com (Amazon>Audible>ACX) user and have no plans to market outside their considerable infrastructure; I’d recommend them to beginners because they’ve done the homework necessary to service all the stakeholders in a project. ACX is also a good place to listen to samples of what other production teams are doing and obtain a reference point of view as to what constitutes a finished product. ACX costs nothing to join; they’re compensated from what Audible gets from sales of your book.
 
I say feat due to your performance.  You are merged with your and Janet’s characters in that delivery.  This summoning of Tempus or whomever is speaking shows a deep connection to your characters.  Do they make you laugh or cry?
I had already read The Sacred Band aloud two or three times before embarking on the narration. We are meticulous about “voicing” our characters and punctuate and format very carefully to emphasize their characteristic speech patterns while still retaining transparency of style. For our first audio project we decided to hire Alex Hyde-White to learn the ropes and see how an accomplished pro would narrate our material. He did a bang-up job with Wake of the Riddler, a shorter TW piece of Janet’s, and immediately caused me to realize what I could bring to our work because of my greater familiarity. I am gratified that you heard the characters coming through because after experimenting with inventing a distinctive sound for each character I opted instead to read with consistently clear articulation and to respect each character’s mood and message within the limits of my voice rather than risk caricature.
They don’t make me laugh or cry. They make me disappear. I miss that when we’re not together.
 
Your music is intelligent and endearing, quite moving actually, were you going for the same effect on the audio book?
Thank you. Yes, in both cases it turns out to be what I do instinctively. After countless attempts to sound “commercial” musically, I finally took Miles’ advice and dared to embrace what comes out of me ingenuously. Being comfortable in one’s own skin is worth whatever effort is required to make it so. It took me decades to get there (hence my remarks about the acclaim of others) but once arrived, I rejoice to possess sheer bandwidth that accommodates a broad spectrum of emotion without disproportion.
 
What is your take on violence in books?
Gratuitous…or not. If a story is merely a vehicle to roll out a train of atrocities, what’s the point except to titillate adolescent sensibilities? Writers of all sorts leverage threats of violence, many to avoid the laborious task of carefully laying out a sequence of events building to a genuine need for overt confrontation. I write for the more experienced reader, and myself, who want a little more justification, realism, and reason to care what happens than a story where hardware and machinery are indistinguishable. No doubt about it, there’s violence in books.
 
Who are your favorite musicians?  Authors?

Ray, Mose, kd, Chet, Tony, Sly, Diana Krall, Tommy Emmanuel, Bill Evans, JS Bach, CPE Bach, Mozart, Davey Spillane, Bela Fleck, Victor Wooten, Nat, Haydn, Corelli, Leadbelly (see video), Lightnin’, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, Dinah Washington, Aretha but she ticks me off, Eddy Arnold, Mitchell Parish (wrote the lyrics to Stardust), Carmichael (wrote the melody to Stardust), Michel Legrand.
Janet Morris, Arthur Clarke, Hermann Hesse, John Milton, Will Shakespeare, Jack London, Will James, Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, Heraclitus of Ephesus, P. G. Wodehouse, Harold Bloom, Homer, Deborah Koren, Mika Waltari, Sam Harris, Roger Penrose.
 
How long did it take to compose the backing track on the Outpassage trailer?
Read Outpassage It took about two days, back in late ’78, culminating in that recording. It’s a song called No Man’s Land, a bedroom demo recorded on a TEAC 10 inch four track reel to reel with Janet on bass, Leslie Kuipers on guitar, Nathan Seely on drums, Ted Lo on ARP string synthesizer, and me on guitar and vocal. It smoked sufficiently that we began playing the Boston fusion clubs around Berklee and generally had a very good time. We were regrouping after moving back from LA in the wake of the MCA album’s short but glorious run, and I still had three quarters of my band to work with and Ted and Nathan eager to jump in. We were listening toMahavishnu and Return to Forever and I was wondering why nobody ever sang over that kind of stuff, plus it was in my “sky high” period when I’d figured out how to build section momentum with circular patterns. The song has some cool cousins I’ll put up pretty soon. What I’m digging now is that shelf life is pretty much irrelevant these days and No Man’s Land has a rabid following on a site called NumberOneMusic.com ; entry level listeners take in Hendrix and Gaga and Norah and Eminem and me all at once and could care less when a piece of music was made or even whether the artists are still alive.
 
Tell us about your publishing house.
Perseid is damning the torpedoes and putting out stuff that is representative of what we grew up wanting to read; we say books for experienced readers, or books worth reading.
 
What inspires you?
My favorite of your questions.
Growth. A starry sky. Acceptance of the greater without diminution or forfeit of personality. Personal truths: the value of distinguishing between what one is told and what one learns from experience. The love of a dog. The suppositions of consciousness turned upon itself. In music the ability to reharmonize melody, steal time (rubato) and imply realms beyond physical scope. Kindness. Exploring Heraclitus’ thesis that all things are reflected in all things. The hunger for truth, beauty and goodness. Sister Wendy.
We live in cataclysmic times, for all I know analogous to all preceding ages. What is unknown to me so overwhelmingly eclipses what is known that my fate is to be inured to the idea that uncertainty is somehow requisite to continuity. I accept. I am human for a blink, a moment in an infinite progression. My moment too is subsumed in eternity and, being part, reflects its whole — harbors the DNA of the eternal — from micro to meta. So, even as a relatively infinitesimal particle I may intake my portion of the entire mystery of mysteries. If I am a moment, so am I eternal. Beyond cool.
And partnership…to host an intellectual life is a high privilege, to share such a life closely, transcendent, to make art of such sharing, nonpareil.
 
For readers new to your novels, which three would you recommend?
 
The Sacred Band (book, e-book, audio book) Click Here.
 Outpassage (book, e-book) Read Outpassage
The Fish the Fighters and the Song-girl (book, e-book). Buy
 
How important are reviews to you?  For marketing?  For sales?
 
Reviews are Rorschachs of their writers, offering subjective accounts of questionable exposure to some work or other. The substance of reviews is of most interest to other reviewers. Although taken for marketing currency, reviews are seldom value added. Creators inevitably fail to accurately calculate the effect of reviews on sales because the study of the relationship is an inexact science at best, at worst an obsession stymieing their creative efforts for lack of prudent allocation of attention.
 
Now advertising is a little different….
I would like to thank Chris Morris for this famously insightful and encouraging interview.  It is good to know the human condition is not wasted on him- but rather seen as an opportunity to grow.  Bravo- Chris!  See everyone next time.  🙂Thanks for reading.Donny  
Chris’ Links: http://www.amazon.com/The-Sacred-Band/dp/B00N1YRVH2/http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/The-Sacred-Band-Audiobook/B00MU2VCEO/http://www.amazon.com/Outpassage-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B00IDC1E84/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=http://www.amazon.com/Fish-Fighters-Song-Girl-Sacred-Stepsons-ebook/dp/B007VQIJFY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1410294833&sr=1-1&keywords=the+fish+the+fighters+and+the+song-girlhttp://numberonemusic.com/christophercrosbymorris/https://www.reverbnation.com/christophercrosbymorris?profile_view_source=profile_boxhttp://www.amazon.com/Everybody-Knows-Christopher-Morris-Band/dp/B004GNEF3A/https://soundcloud.com/christopher-morris http://www.amazon.com/Chris-Morris/e/B008L41JNO/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_2https://www.facebook.com/JanetMorrisandChrisMorrishttps://www.facebook.com/christophercmorrissings http://www.sacredbander.comhttp://www.theperseidpress.com/# http://www.facebook.com/christopher.c.morris.7?fref=ts http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Morris_(author)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLqxH_Tx5VA https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7g79LZAgk8w https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2EylzKQa4yghttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCv4GA5W5eA https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICAPn0E7NC0 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SQFmxwfT7ghttp://www.amazon.com/Outpassage-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B00IDC1E84/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=    Where to find Donny Swords stuff:   Donny Swords author ( Facebook )  (Blog) Primal Publications (Facebook )  (Blog) The Indie Collaboration ( web )   Novels & Links

Jimmo Speaks Out:

PERSONAL INTERVIEW WITH JIMMO FROM TRUCK STOP EARTH @PERSEID_PRESS #DARKHUMOR #UFO #SFF

2 Votes

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I’m not gonna give you all the ins and outs of old Jimmo’s life. I’ve sat in too many cracked plastic chairs before nosy-butt social workers doing that. You want deep psychological analysis of James Ignatius Malachi Obadiah Osborne’s life? Let me give you the name of my current shrink. I think Penelope has it on a thumb drive somewhere.

But in a nut shell — joke! — I’m just your average ex-vet wandering traveler who has been sucked up into a Gray mothership and been given the classic intimate biological examination. I’ve seen it all and been there, from Key West, Fla., to the ass-end of the road here in Della, Alaska. I like long walks on the beach, Norwegian aquavit, Irish wolfhounds, tough women (preferably redheads), and people who won’t give ya bullshit. Oh, and the smell of White Shoulders and AquaNet hairspray, but only because AquaNet has been proven to deter aliens. I don’t know why. You think Jimmo has all the answers?

 

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

You know that moment when you’ve had one too many beers and your bladder is bursting and you take a nice, long pee? Remember that little tickle of pleasure you get? That’s about as close as it comes to perfect happiness. Too strange?

OK, how about this. You take on some huge challenge, like fighting a kick-ass wildfire that’s roaring down at you and it’s just you and your crew, a few Pulaskis, and maybe a DC-3 dropping retardant. Everything else doesn’t exist. It’s just this moment and something you have to do or you die, that’s what it is. And you don’t die. You stop the fire or come out alive in a firefight or maybe kick cancer’s butt. That’s perfect happiness, because you thought you might die and you didn’t.

But also, having close and intimate sex with someone who understands you and you understand them, and you satisfy each other almost perfectly, yeah, that’s not bad, either.

 

What is your greatest fear?

When you’ve looked into the Big Black of death and come out the other end, there is no fear. But the idea that the Alien Occupation Government might eventually take over this planet, and the Grays would use us for whatever evil they have in mind, that scares me. It should scare you, too, oh dear reader, if only you knew the truth.

 

What is your current state of mind?

Highly under the influence of very effective psychoactive drugs. OK, not really. I realized long ago all I got was sexy pharmaceuticals that no one really knew how they worked, but they did. My current state of mind is bliss.

 

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

You should read my co-author’s account of that in Truck Stop Earth. Basically, we kicked alien butt and sent those asshole Grays screaming. We won a big battle. I’m hoping we win the war.

 

How would you like to die?

Quick and painless. Once you get past the pain and into the Big Black, there’s not much else. If I can’t die fighting, I’d be OK dying loving.

 

What is your motto?

Life is what happens when really good psychoactive drugs quit working.

 

truckstop_EBOOK

 

Title: Truck Stop Earth

Author:  Michael A. Armstrong

Genre: Dark Humor, Aliens, Science Fiction

Publisher: Perseid Press

Release Date: August 1, 2016 (E-book available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble now)

 

Book Blurb:

The mother of all alien bases. The big one, the megabase, the center of the Alien Occupation Government, the headquarters, the brain, the nerve center, the absolute pinpoint big base, right there, right in the hills above Della. Forget Roswell. Forget Machu Picchu. Forget Stonehenge and Tikal and all those alleged alien bases, abandoned every one of them. This was the big one, right now, the source of all my troubles, the world’s troubles, the whole solar system’s troubles. Right there.

 

Out there across the valley, shining across it like a beacon, was a big flat mountain. “Oly’s Mountain” I later heard it called, or Table Top, some said. I could feel it, feel the humming and the disruption of the ether right down to my bones. I didn’t even have to take out my little pocket detector that’s disguised as a Swiss Army knife. I knew, I just knew. And my butt chip burned like an exploded capsule of sulfuric acid. God damn, right there in the mountain — not on it, in it.

 

Book Trailer:

 

Extended Excerpt:

We hauled butt up East Road and might have had to pass a few trucks at the speed Samm put the crew-cab to, except that everyone else was hauling butt, too: cops, fire trucks, volunteer firefighters. It was as if that fire were a big drain hole and we were rubber duckies getting sucked down into the tub, that’s how it pulled all of us to the fire. The smoke got thicker the closer we got, a nice stiff breeze out of the north whupping upon us, the day breeze. As we got closer, I began to think that maybe I should be going the other direction. Had no choice, though. I was in that damn truck.

We scarfed down our burgers as we trucked out there, Samm eating one-handed and driving with the other hand, a sort of frightening sight. I understood, though. It might be a while until we ate again. Soon enough we got to the logging camp. Samm didn’t even close his door or yank out the keys to the truck — in fact, he left it running. The only thing he did was turn it around so it faced out, toward the road. I understood. That was our lifeboat.

“Grace, you take Freddy and Jimmo,” Samm shouted. “Work on keeping the fire from jumping the road.”

“And if it jumps the road?” she asked.

“That won’t happen. Hold the line,” Samm said.

“Hold the line,” Grace mumbled. “Right.” She pointed at me and Freddy. “Freddy, you’ve got a red card. Jimmo, grab a chainsaw and a Pulaski and do what Freddy tells you. Come with me.” Grace had picked up a Pulaski, this ax-like thing that was also a pick, and we rushed up to the road side of that big clearing.

Someone had started up one of those feller-bunchers and slowly — it’s not like they moved all that fast anyway — moved toward a line of dead trees up the road. Thick smoke rolled downhill toward us, but in all the smoke I couldn’t see any flames. Maybe that was good, maybe that was bad, I just fucking didn’t know.

“Might as well attack that line of trees,” Grace said, pointing across the road from the camp. A standing clump of red, almost needleless trees lined the road across the way. It seemed kind of stupid, a logging camp surrounded by a dead forest. Later, Samm told me that it was a land dispute, this land owned by someone from Outside who hadn’t seen the land in twenty years and didn’t understand that the whole fucking forest had died and the trees had to come down. This was war. You did what you did to stop the fire and to hell with property rights.

The little forest narrowed down into a V as it came to the road. Grace explained that I should break up the grass and other ground flammables on either side of the V as she and Freddy felled trees. They began lopping off trees so they fell uphill, into the fire and a big slash pile. Even though the trees had died, they still had branches and witches’ brooms and shit that could catch fire. A lot of the dead trees had punky middles, which made them harder to burn. If you could fell ’em the middle wouldn’t catch fire and it would slow the burn down. Mainly, Grace explained in all the chaos, in a calm voice that made me listen closer, “Mainly we don’t want a crown fire, where the tops burn.” A crown fire was like a whole new level of shit.

With all the smoke and the heat I couldn’t tell if we fought back the fire or just wasted a lot of good burger fuel for nothing. I’d cut trenches in the dry underbrush, exposing dirt, so that if the fire burned out of the slash piles we made it wouldn’t go further. Grace said we were making a back burn, creating our own little Dresden there so that the big Tokyo of a fire wouldn’t have anything else to burn. You understand? Of course not, you assholes don’t know history. Dresden was like this quaint little city the Allies firebombed in Double-Ya-Double-Ya Two, and Tokyo another example of 20thCentury martial urban renewal.

Get into the flow of something like that, where you’re not quite sure you’ll live but hope to fuck you don’t die, and after a while, time is nothing. Time doesn’t slow down, it doesn’t stop, it just no longer becomes a marker by which the universe gets measured. It isn’t when it once was. What mattered to me was the dirt I exposed, the flames that didn’t cross the road, and the fire that burned itself out.

You just fought. My uncle who was in the war said that once: You just fought. First came chaos and then an organization of chaos and then chaos became your local reality, and you understood it. It developed its own rules and everything and quit being chaos. I focused entirely on one task, one general series of movements: lift Pulaski, dig into ground, turn over dirt, lift Pulaski again, repeat as necessary.

Eventually, though, this new reality came into being, a new form of chaos which I realized with a start was the way the world had been some time ago. The smoke seemed thinner, the heat less. Between Grace and Freddy and that guy on the feller buncher (which I still thought was a rocket launcher), the forest in front of us turned into a big bonfire, controlled and orderly and consuming itself and not more forest. I saw around me that other workers scrambled with wet rugs or sheets stamping out fires from falling ashes that had fallen on the wind. Other than that, the fire had not crossed the road.

“We held the line,” Grace said, but with a tone of voice that said she didn’t believe it.

“Held the line,” Freddy said.

“Did it,” I said.

“Did it. Damn it, we did it!” Grace raised her chainsaw in triumph.

“Shoulda done it faster,” Kyle said from behind us. “It almost got away from us. It got one of the fuel trucks.”

Grace glared at him, bandana long ago fallen away, but her hair still in perfect shape, only with so much smoke and ash that it looked like a black helmet. “We held the line, Kyle.”

“I really need you to listen to me closer, Grace,” Kyle said. “I’m only offering criticism for your own good.”

“Oh, fuck —”

She didn’t get the next words out. Freddy shoved her aside and they both rolled toward me, almost knocking me down. I stepped aside and let them fall, then looked up to see why Freddy had tackled Grace. The guy with the feller buncher held a burning tree in the claws of his machine. Smoke obscured his vision and he couldn’t quite see where he was going. The machine stopped and the guy let down that log, branches still on it, the crown roaring.

We later figured out that he must have seen a tree on our side of the road that caught fire, just one tree, and in our complacency we missed it. He didn’t, though. Guy saved the day, he did, and what did it matter what happened next?

He dropped the tree. Just like I’ll always remember that shred of metal whirling at me when the Zapata cannery blew up, I’ll remember that tree falling. It came down, right on an open part of the airstrip, which was what the feller-buncher dude was aiming for, a nice open spot. All would have been well and this story might have turned out different, if not that the tree in its falling, a branch of the tree in its falling, nicked Kyle.

“I need you to step aside,” I wanted to say, but couldn’t. I’ll feel a little guilty forever after that I didn’t.

The tree came down. The branch nicked Kyle. The tip was sharp. As it fell, it knocked off his helmet, and sliced right through his left ear, your basic Van Gogh chop job. Kyle reached up with his left hand, held it to his ear, and then looked down at a glob of blood in his palm. He didn’t scream, I’ll give him credit for that, but he did look mildly uncomfortable.

When Kyle’s helmet came off, this amazing pouf of silver-blond hair sprung straight up, kind of a Disco Do, just whisping over his ears and falling boyishly over Kyle’s forehead — over his squinty little eyes. But then a spark or a little flame from the burning tree hit his hair, and kawoosh, it went up like a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol, and inside of two seconds, Kyle went totally bald, nothing more than ashes on his scalp.

He rolled forward, over and over like you got taught in grade school to put out a fire if for some chance, hey, a burning tree fell on top of you and lit your precious little Disco ’Do on fire. Kyle slapped at his head and his ears, or what was left of the left one. His right leg stuck out kinda funny, and for a moment I thought it was broken. It was broken, I swear. Kyle reached down and twisted and turned it, then stood up.

His right ear dangled by a little thread of cartilage, only it didn’t bleed. At least, I thought his right ear had been ripped off, too. Kyle turned away from us for a second, did something to the side of his head, and turned back. He did this kind of dancing jig thing, took a deep breath, and smiled.

“Kyle, man, your ear got ripped off,” Samm said. “Are you OK?”

He reached up, felt for the bloody patch, reached down to the ground and picked up something that looked like a shriveled up mushroom. Kyle smeared that thing against the stump of his left ear, then smiled.

“What ear?” he asked.

Samm looked at Kyle, over at us, back at Kyle. He started to say something, then shook his head.

“Good as new,” Grace said.

Ayup, I thought.

Except he put the ear back on backwards.

 

 

Buy Links:

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30650517-truck-stop-earth

 

Amazon US https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HN3JAJS

 

Barnes and Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/truck-stop-earth-michael-a-armstrong/1123961595?ean=9780997531008

 

Kobo https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/truck-stop-earth-1

 

Michael and Leia bw

 

Author Biography:

Michael Armstrong was born in Virginia in 1956, grew up in Tampa, Florida, and moved to Anchorage, Alaska in 1979. He has lived in Homer, Alaska, since 1994. He attended the Clarion Science Fiction Writers Workshop and received a bachelor of arts from New College of Florida and a master of fine arts in creative writing from the University of Alaska Anchorage. His first novel is After the Zap. Michael’s short fiction has been published in Asimov’s, The Magazine of Science Fiction, Fiction Quarterly, and various anthologies, including Not of Woman Born, a Philip K. Dick award nominee, and several Heroes In Hell anthologies. His other novels include Agviq, The Hidden War, and Bridge Over Hell, part of the Perseid Press Heroes in Hell universe.

 

Michael has taught creative writing composition, and dog mushing. He is a reporter and photographer for the Homer News. He and his wife, Jenny Stroyeck, live in small house they built themselves on Diamond Ridge above Homer, which they share with an incredibly adorable labradoodle.

 

Social Media Links:

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/michael.a.armstrong.writer/

Twitter https://twitter.com/maaarmstrang

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4100550.Michael_A_Armstrong

Publisher http://www.theperseidpress.com/

Introducing Truck Stop Earth, a novel by Michael A. Armstrong

This article by John O’Neill originally appeared in Black Gate Adventures in Fantasy Literature:  https://www.blackgate.com/2016/07/14/black-gate-online-fiction-truck-stop-earth-by-michael-a-armstrong/

 

Black Gate Online Fiction: Truck Stop Earth by Michael A. Armstrong

Thursday, July 14th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Truck Stop Earth banner-small

Black Gate is very pleased to offer our readers an exclusive excerpt from Truck Stop Earth by Michael A. Armstrong, published in deluxe trade paperback and digital formats this month by Perseid Press. Here’s Janet Morris, publisher of Perseid.

Is Truck Struck Earth a memoir? Science fiction? New Pulp? Paranormal (or paranoid) fantasy? Noir in the Shaver tradition? UFOlogy? Magical realism? Social Commentary? Black humor? We dunno. But we’re proud to bring you this tough, dangerous book that breaks every rule you thought separated true from false, good from bad, and literature from trash.

Michael A. Armstrong’s first novel was After the Zap. His short fiction has been published in Asimov’s, The Magazine of Science Fiction, Fiction Quarterly, and various anthologies, including Not of Woman Born, a Philip K. Dick award nominee, and several Heroes In Hellanthologies. His other novels include Agviq, The Hidden War, and Bridge Over Hell, part of the Perseid Press Heroes in Hell universe.

Here’s the description:

Truck Stop Earth: The mother of all alien bases! The big one, the mega-base, the center of the Alien Occupation Government: the headquarters, the brain, the nerve center, the absolute pinpoint big base, is right here on Earth, just outside Della, Alaska. Forget Roswell. Forget Machu Picchu. Forget Stonehenge and Tikal and all those alleged alien bases — abandoned, every one of them. This is the big one, right here on Planet Earth, right now, the source of all the world’s troubles, the whole solar system’s troubles. Right here. Finally, the unflinching truth about aliens on Earth is exposed inTruck Stop Earth, as told by an alien abductee to award-winning reporter, Michael A. Armstrong.

The complete catalog of Black Gate Online Fiction, including stories by Mark Rigney, John Fultz, Jon Sprunk, Tara Cardinal and Alex Bledsoe, E.E. Knight, Vaughn Heppner,  Howard Andrew Jones, David Evan Harris, John C. Hocking, Michael Shea, Aaron Bradford Starr, Martha Wells, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, C.S.E. Cooney, and many others, is here.

Truck Stop Earth was published July 1, 2016 by Perseid Press. It is 292 pages, priced at $25.20 in trade paperback and $9.99 for the digital edition. A hardcover edition will be available in August.

Read more at the Perseid Press website.

Read an exclusive excerpt from Truck Stop Earth here.

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