• Fiona McIntosh: Voyager Author of the Month

    Fiona McIntosh was born and raised in Sussex in the UK, but also spent early childhood years in West Africa. She left a PR career in London to travel and settled in Australia in 1980. She has since roamed the world working for her own travel publishing company, which she runs with her husband. She lives in Adelaide with her husband and twin sons. Her website is at www.fionamcintosh.com.

    Her latest book, The Scrivener's Tale, is a stand-alone and takes us back to the world of Morgravia from her very first series, The Quickening:


    About The Scrivener's Tale:

    In the bookshops and cafes of present-day Paris, ex-psychologist Gabe Figaret is trying to put his shattered life back together. When another doctor, Reynard, asks him to help with a delusional female patient, Gabe is reluctant... until he meets her. At first Gabe thinks the woman, Angelina, is merely terrified of Reynard, but he quickly discovers she is not quite what she seems.

    As his relationship with Angelina deepens, Gabe's life in Paris becomes increasingly unstable. He senses a presence watching and following every move he makes, and yet he finds Angelina increasingly irresistible.

    When Angelina tells Gabe he must kill her and flee to a place she calls Morgravia, he is horrified. But then Angelina shows him that the cathedral he has dreamt about since childhood is real and exists in Morgravia.

    A special 10th Anniversary edition of her first fantasy book, Myrren's Gift, will be released in December!

     

     

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Bran the Betrayer Part 16 ( a short story by K.J. Taylor )

Here’s part 16 of the new short story by K.J. Taylor, set in the world of her Fallen Moon Trilogy. Happy Friday reading everyone!

Bran the Betrayer Pt. 16

Bloodtalons screamed. Finally kicking away the ruins of the net, he bounded after Bran. Stumbling as the pain rose in his back and chest, Bran was too slow to get away, and the griffin’s huge forepaw slammed into him and sent him flying. He landed in a shower of sand, and skidded away until he hit the wall of the fighting pit.

Only half conscious, his eyes full of sand, he looked up and saw Bloodtalons limping toward him. Coming in for the kill.

Laela, he thought.

Slowly, painfully, he dragged himself back up out of the sand. Bloodtalons was still coming at him. He had lost his sword, so he reached around to the back of his belt and freed the axe – the only weapon he had left. He grasped it in one hand, and braced himself for a final assault.

‘Come on!’ he wheezed. ‘I ain’t dead yet!’

But Bloodtalons didn’t look about to charge again. He moved slowly now, limping badly in one foreleg. On his chest, the deep wound Bran’s sword had left poured blood onto the sand.

‘C’mon!’ Bran yelled again. ‘What kinda wild griffin are yeh?’

Bloodtalons snarled, and made a clumsy run at him.

Bran knew he himself was hurt, but his legs were fine. He raised the axe and prepared to sidestep the charge, as he had before.

But before Bloodtalons reached him, he stumbled. His run slowed, and he staggered sideways with a hiss and a groan. His weak foreleg buckled, and he half fell.

Bran charged. Bloodtalons lashed out at him with his beak again, but weakly and slowly this time. Bran grabbed the beak with his free hand and wrenched it sideways. Before Bloodtalons could pull free, he hit him hard with the axe, in the neck just behind the jaw. Bloodtalons screamed again and fell sideways, exposing the spot even further, and Bran took his opportunity and struck again and again, hacking at the griffin’s neck right where the great throat vein waited.

He knew he had succeeded when blood spurted out with so much force that it sprayed over his face like hot rain. Bloodtalons convulsed, tried to make one last feeble strike at him, and then collapsed onto his side, twitching as his life’s blood pulsed out of him.

Bran dropped the axe and nearly fell on top of the dying griffin. He could feel himself shaking.

Above the crowd roared again. He couldn’t tell if they sounded triumphant, or disappointed. He didn’t care.

He limped away and found his sword lying half buried in the sand. The hilt was sticky with blood, but he picked it up and slowly walked back to where Bloodtalons lay. The griffin was still alive, barely. Bran knelt on his neck, and finished him off with a brutal stab through the eye and into his brain.

Bloodtalons jerked once, and finally stilled.

Bran stood up, over the griffin’s body, pointed his sword to the sky, and bellowed his victory.

The crowd bellowed back, and to his amazement he heard some of them begin a chant.

Bran! Bran! Bran!

Bran the Betrayer!’ some shouted, but they sounded almost admiring.

Yeah, Bran thought suddenly. I am a traitor. I stayed loyal to the city, and I betrayed Arren.

‘Bran the Betrayer!’ he shouted back defiantly.

Bran the Betrayer wins!’ came the voice of the announcer.

Bran grinned wildly. He’d won. Gryphus had given his protection. He could go free, and Kraeya as well. What did it matter that he was Bran the Betrayer? He would live.

The gate that had let him into the pit opened again, and he thrust his sword back into his belt and limped off toward it. The pain had really begun now, but it wasn’t so bad that it meant his injuries would kill him.

As he entered the weapons room he pulled off his breastplate. The talon cuts in it were so deep they had almost gone straight through. Any deeper and it would have been him. As it was, he could see dark red and purple bruising already forming under his tunic. He carefully felt his chest, and soon detected several broken ribs. Bloodtalons’ beak had left a deep cut on his back as well, and there were other cuts and bruises on his arms. But none of it was very serious. He’d be a while recovering, but he’d survive. And now that he was free, the first thing he’d do was deal with Anyon. See to it that he got arrested, one way or the other. Then maybe Bran would testify at his trial. Serve him right.

‘Betrayer my arse,’ he muttered to himself. ‘Nobody spits on a Redguard’s honour an’ gets away with it.’

The two guards who had brought him to the pit were waiting, with looks of open admiration on their faces.

‘That was amazin’!’ one exclaimed. ‘I don’t believe it!’

‘Hardly anyone ever goes up against a wild griffin an’ lives,’ said the second.

Bran grinned, and then winced. ‘I told yeh I was innocent,’ he said. ‘Gryphus says so too.’

‘Now they all knows it,’ the first guard said stoutly. ‘I saw Isleen a moment ago; she’s gone t’let yer partner free. They’ll be here any moment.’

‘Good.’ Bran winced again, and went to sit down on the bench. Just doing that made his ribs flare up, and he groaned. ‘Argh. Feels like I got a handful of rusty daggers in there.’

‘I ain’t surprised,’ said the first guard. ‘Just rest up a bit until Isleen calls us, all right?’

‘Sure,’ said Bran. He rubbed his chest very carefully, but even that made it hurt. He cringed. ‘What’s yer name, by the way?’ he asked.

‘Me, I’m Talmon,’ said the first guard.

‘Nerris,’ said the other. ‘Here.’ He offered Bran a water bottle.

Bran drank deeply, and waited until, sure enough, Isleen arrived. She came down into the weapons room by herself, looking a little flushed.

‘There you are,’ she said. ‘Congratulations.’

Bran stood up. ‘Is Kraeya there?’

‘Yes. Arak and I set her free. She’s waiting for you outside.’ Isleen cleared her throat. ‘Lord Branton Redguard,’ she said formally. ‘You have won your trial by combat, and are therefore innocent in the eyes of Gryphus. I am hereby empowered to present you with this.’ She offered him the scroll that declared his pardoning. ‘You are hereby cleared of all charges, and are allowed to go free with immediate effect.’

Bran took the scroll, and tucked it into his tunic. ‘Thanks, Isleen.’

He stood up, nodded to Talmon and Nerris, and went up the passageway and into daylight.

Kraeya was waiting there, and she rushed straight to him. ‘Bran!’

Bran hugged her around the neck. ‘Kraeya! Thank gods!’

She nibbled gently at his hair, grooming him as if he were her chick. ‘I knew that you would survive, my Bran. I trusted you to have the strength to save us.’

‘An’ I did,’ said Bran. Her feathers were warm and soft on his blood-spotted face. ‘I did. We’re all right now, Kraeya. We’re gonna be fine.’

‘Yes,’ said Kraeya. ‘And I am proud that you are my human.’

Bran let go of her. ‘C’mon,’ he said, eyeing the crowd all about. ‘Let’s get back to the Eyrie an’ get Laela out of that cell.’

*

We’ll post up Part 17 next Friday 15th June!

K.J Taylor is the author of the Fallen Moon Trilogy:

The Dark Griffin, The Griffin’s Flight & The Griffin’s War

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Rocket Science

So you’re into sci fi? But what about sci fact? Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction…

Each month our very own Voyager Science Queen* will bring you interesting, quirky and downright bizarre tasty morsels from the world of science. And its all completely, totally, 100% true!

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The Cartwheel Galaxy
(Photo credit: IYA2009, FETTU, NASA/ESA, P. Appleton, JPL-Caltech, J. Uson, NRAO/AUI and Palomar Sky Survey.)

We’ve all heard that saying ‘it’s not hard, it isn’t rocket science’. This infers that rocket science is complex and complicated, and you have to be very bright to understand it. Nineteen year old Aisha Mustafa, a physics student from Egypt’s Sohag University, has come up with a theory for a new type of fuel-less space-propulsion system using an esoteric physics concept … the Casimir Effect. So, Aisha has come up with a type of rocket science even more complex than balancing a rocket on a controlled explosion.The Casimir Effect is based around the string theory in Quantum Physics; that there is really no such thing as a vacuum and every point in space is an oscillating field, flashing through a range of ‘vibrations’ that we understand as ‘space’, ‘time’, and ‘matter’. If you want a more complex explanation that that … you will probably need to start studying for your Ph.D. in Physics. From my own limited understanding, one of the implications of the Casimir Effect it that it supports the concept of the breakdown of the laws of causality – and causality is where one thing causes something else to happen, one event after another in a logical progression. To me, this is the point where Physics is synonymous with Philosophy.

So, how does Aisha’s design work? Aisha uses shaped silicon plates – similar to the ones used in solar-power cells – placed close together but not touching. The Casimir Effect is the repulsion/attraction that the ‘vibrations’ – quantum particles, matter/anti-matter foam or whatever you want to call it – creates between these plates.  In the vacuum of space, this should create a force that would ‘pull’ or ‘push’, creating the basic thrust of propulsion system. This system works in a vacuum because is no particles of matter to interfere with the creation of this force.

Now, think of the benefits of a fuel-less propulsion system. It can run forever without the need for input from another energy source; in fact, the further it gets into the depths of space the better it should run!  How this might dramatically improve humanity’s ambitions for exploration of the universe, with probes or ships that can propel themselves for eternity. If that thought can’t excite, I don’t know what else can.

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*The Voyager Science Queen is also known as Lynne Lumsden Green- find out who she is in About Our Contributors!