• 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!

     

     

New free novella by Nicole Murphy!

Dream of Asarlai Book Three

Nicole Murphy has written a free novella continuing the story of her Dream of Asarlai trilogy, and she’s given us an extract  and a little intro to share with our fellow Voyagers:

It’s been twelve months since Rogue Gadda hit the shelves and the Dream of Asarlai trilogy came to an end.

It was a happily-after-ever ending. But it was never my intention for everything to go back to normal. That’s not how life works, when major events occur. Things change. We change. The fate of the world shifts and new possibilities and threats rise.

That meant that there was room for more. More about the guardians. More about the world of the gadda. More about the tension that arises from trying to keep your existence secret in a world where you’re the clear minority.

The first of those stories, answering the ‘what happens next’ question, is a novella ‘The Festival’. It was released on July 12, an auspicious date as it marks the Festival of the Star, the greatest day in the gadda calendar.

With the blessings of Voyager – I’ve self-published it and until the end of July, it’s available for free.

So if you’ve not been game to try the Dream of Asarlai trilogy – here’s a chance to do so without it costing you anything. I’m pretty confident that once you’ve read it, you’ll be running out to grab the other books and see how this story began.

***

Dream of Asarlai Book One

IT’S BEEN A YEAR SINCE ASARLAI WAS CAPTURED, BUT THINGS ARE FAR FROM SETTLED IN THE GADDA WORLD…

If you were the member of a secret magical race, how would you hide from humans?

The bardria and its guardians have decided to hide in the open by showcasing the gadda stronghold

 of Sclossin to the humans as a tourist destination, in the process proving the residents are normal.

The purists, however, believe the best solution is to remove the gadda from all contact with humans. The Festival of the Star, the biggest celebration of the year, is the perfect place to begin their campaign.

The guardians are sure they’re ready for anything the purists throw at them. But are they ready for the resurrection of an old enemy?

WARNING: The Festival contains spoilers for the Dream of Asarlia trilogy, and hot steamy sex.

***

July 11, 8pm.

It was time.

The meal had been superb. Many bottles of wine had been consumed. The atmosphere around the large table was convivial, with laughter and raised voices and the occasional thump on the wood to punctuate a story.

Councillor Robert Yarrow gestured to his butler, who left the room. The councillor stood and waited for the noise to die down and for all attention to come to him.

With every head that turned, Yarrow’s back got straighter, his shoulders more relaxed, his chin higher.

“My friends,” he said, smiling at the twenty faces that looked at him. “My most wonderful friends. Your sacrifice will be lauded for generations.”

Twenty faces took on varying hues of green and white as they recalled why they were here.

The door opened, the creak shocking in the silence. The butler came forward, bearing an ornate silver bowl on a matching tray. He placed it on the table before Yarrow and then stood at his master’s shoulder.

Yarrow lifted the lid and the rank odour assaulted his senses. He fought to maintain a stoic appearance—he wouldn’t convince anyone to eat if he showed the scent alone was this terrible.

Dream of Asarlai: Book Two

Unfortunately, he wasn’t the only one close enough to smell it. Lisa Jane gasped and held her napkin to her face.

“We can’t eat that,” she said.

Everyone leant forward, the people at the far end of the table standing to do so. All recoiled, although Yarrow knew they couldn’t possibly all smell it.

“I understand your concern.” As he spoke, Yarrow used a pair of tweezers to pick up one rancid piece of beef. The green coating on the meat was foul. He lay it on the pile of cheese slices that rested on the other side of the silver tray and pulled the corners of the top slice around the meat. “But we agreed that your food poisoning be natural rather than an incantation, so the guardians won’t suspect a plot.”

He rolled the morsel between his palms so the cheese encased the meat. Then he dipped the ball in a small tureen of mustard, before laying it on a small plate and handing it to the person on his left. As he made more, the plates were passed around the table until everyone had one. Meanwhile, the butler refilled the wine glasses.

All twenty of Robert’s guests stared down at the poison pill before them and their thoughts were clear on their faces—dread, fear, disgust.

“We do this to save Sclossin and all gadda,” Yarrow said quietly. “We do this to ruin the festival and so reveal how terrible the plan to invite humans into our village is. You will be revered for your actions tonight.” He lifted his glass in a toast then swallowed, both to mask the smell with the bouquet of the wine and to hide his smile. He was so glad he wouldn’t be eating the meat.

As one, his guests picked up the poison and swallowed. None chewed, and each grabbed their wine and used it to wash the horrid meat down their throat.

“Now, I suggest you all go home and make yourself as comfortable as possible. I pray that you will not suffer too much tonight.”

One by one, they transferred away, disappearing from view in the blink of an eye. Yarrow put the lid back on the silver bowl and his butler took it away to safely dispose of it. No one in the Yarrow household was to be harmed by the tainted meat.

Yarrow went to his study and sat in his armchair. His port was open, a crystal glass standing ready. He poured himself a drink and sipped it slowly, easing into the leather upholstery with a relaxed sigh.

Everything was in order. Each of his different groups had their task and combined, they were going to spell disaster for the festival tomorrow. The bardria would have to re-consider making the town of Sclossin more accessible to humans and the next step in cutting all access to humanity would be taken.

Yarrow shook his head. It astounded him that it wasn’t clear to all gadda that for the sake of their survival they needed to cut ties to the human race. At the human population bloomed and their technology improved, the chances of them discovering that in their midst lived a secret race with powers beyond imagining grew.

It would be disastrous. Everyone agreed on that. Either there would be gadda who would use their power to try and rule humanity, or there would be humans who would find a way to use vulnerable gadda for their own vices.

Some people thought the answer was to hide in plain sight. Be right in amongst the humans. People wouldn’t conceive of the concept that their neighbour, workmate, friend wasn’t human.

Robert’s entire being quaked with the stupidity of that idea. The only salvation was to leave the humans to their lives, their world and hide the gadda away.

It was the right way. Tomorrow’s decimation of the festival would prove it. And the best part of his plan was the guardians couldn’t stop it.

Robert Yarrow downed the last of his port with a smile.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/181532
Thanks Nicole. You rock!

The Courier’s New Bicycle: a review

The Courier's New Bicycle In case you needed any more convincing to go and read it, Nalini Haynes great review for The Courier’s New Bicycle  for the Dark Matter Fanzine blog really should do the job!

The Courier’s New Bicycle is a masterpiece; I haven’t felt this way about a work since Wings of Desire.  Highly recommended; this is brilliant speculative fiction not to be missed. ”

 

Be sure to check out more great posts and reviews over at the Dark Matter fanzine blog!

Great reviews for Dark Griffin & Nightfall!

The Speculating on SpecFic blog has just posted up some great reviews for 2 Voyager books both new and old(ish)! Check out their review for Nightfall by Will Elliott here and if you loved reading her ongoing short story Bran the Betrayer here on the blog, check out the review for KJ Taylor’s first novel, The Dark Griffin. Thanks Shaheen!

Bran the Betrayer Part 20 ( a short story by K.J. Taylor )

Here’s the final part of the new short story by K.J. Taylor, set in the world of her Fallen Moon Trilogy AND her brand new book, The Shadow’s Heir!  Happy Friday reading Voyagers!

Bran the Betrayer Pt. 19

*

‘What home?’ Bran demanded. ‘She’s got no other family.’

‘That’s none of my concern,’ said Ruel. ‘It’s your business. Find a family that will take her, leave her at Guard’s Post for the Northerners to find – you can smother her with a pillow for all I care. But you cannot keep her and live here.’

‘Fine,’ Bran spat. ‘Then I’m leavin’.’

‘You cannot live in any Eyrie with that child,’ said Ruel. ‘If you keep her, I will legally exile you. Wylam will not want you, and Eagleholm is destroyed.’

‘Then I’ll go back to Canran,’ said Bran.

‘Canran is gone,’ said Ruel. ‘Lord Holm’s last followers decided not to accept our peace offer, and they suffered the consequences. Their Eyrie has been destroyed. Branton Redguard, I warn you one last time-,’ he pointed straight at Laela. ‘Rid the Eyrie of that child, or leave and never return.’

Continue reading

Win a copy of the Game of Thrones RPG for Xbox or PS3!

     You’ve read the books. You’ve watched the show on TV. Now A Song of Ice and Fire fans can dive right into Westeros and play as a character in the Game of Thrones RPG!  The RPG has its own storyline and you can play as either a member of the Night’s Watch or a rogue Knight as part of a detailed story full of political intrigue and twists overseen by George himself.
For your chance to win  a copy of the PS3 or Xbox360 version, Comment on this post and tell us in 25 words or less which character from the books you’d love to play as in a game and why. Don’t forget to let us know which version of the game you’d like too.
We’ll choose the winners next Thursday. Australian residents only, sorry!

Modern Day Alchemy

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!

Intumescents

mercury thiocyanate

Mercury Thiocyanate
Image: Tomasz Szymborski, Creative Commons License

In the English language, ‘intumescent’ is a word that means distressfully or abnormally swollen, or something in the process of swelling. In chemistry, intumescents are substances that – upon the application of heat – result in the production of enormous amounts of ash, many times the volume of the original substance. This ash will be less dense than the original substance. In the past, intumescents have been used in pyrotechnics and in the production of fire retardants.Probably the most spectacular tumescent is mercury thiocyanate. Upon application of heat, this chemical expands and coils in a serpentine manner to form a yellowish or greyish mass of tentacular ash; it looks more like the hair of a Medusa to me. A quick surf of the internet will supply you with video clips of this spectacular process; it is referred to as the Pharaoh’s Serpent or the Pharaoh’s Snake. Mercury thiocyanate used to be a popular compound for fireworks, but its toxicity became an issue and it is no longer used as much.

When mercury thiocyanate is ignited, rapid oxidation causes it to decompose into carbon nitride, mercury sulfide and carbon disulphide. Notice the original substance contains a cyanide compound, sulfur and mercury, so it is extremely toxic, and the fumes released during the decomposition are poisonous. Even after its transformation, the ash is toxic enough to kill anyone ingesting it – like small children; tragedies have occurred. As interesting as this process is to observe, I would recommend just watching the video clips.

If I were a modern day alchemist and discovered mercury thiocyanate, I believe I would dedicate of this chemical to Cthulhu. However, it is suspected the first person to synthesize the compound was a chemist, Jöns Jacob Berzelius, in or around 1821. No pentacles or tentacles were involved … what a shame.

Non-Newtonian Fluids

First off, let’s look at Newtonian fluids, so that we have a an idea as to why non-Newtonian fluids are so weird. A Newtonian fluid will remain a fluid regardless of the kinetic forces that are acting upon it, in other words, the viscosity of the fluid should be dependent on its temperature and pressure and not the forces action upon it. Water is the perfect example; if you stir or shake water it will remain a fluid, but a change in temperature or pressure can turn it into ice or steam.

This is not the case with non-Newtonian fluids. Under a sudden change in sheer forces, certain non-Newtonian fluids will lose viscosity and act like a solid. Cornflour (also known as corn starch) mixed with water acts in this manner. The faster you try to stir the mix, the stiffer it becomes … stop stirring and it slumps back into liquid. If you try to ‘throw’ a bucket of the mix, it will stay in the bucket. However, if you tip the bucket onto its side, the cornflour and water mixture will flow out like a fluid. As the water and cornflour mixture is entirely harmless, I can recommend playing around with it. I’ve seen the men from Mythbusters attempt to run across a pool of cornflour and water … with mixed results (pun intended); you can see this on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GWhOLorDtw

On ‘The Big Bang Theory’, our intrepid band of scientists used the vibrations of speakers to ‘stress’ a similar mixture: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CJJ6FrfuGU

There are liquids that act in the exact opposite way to cornflour and water, like most house paints; they remain thick while at rest and become more fluid when stressed – or all the paint would drip off the walled once applied. These are non-Newtonian fluids as well, because their viscosity is affected by the kinetic forces acting upon them. Some polymer clays start out as quite stiff and become more elastic as they are ‘worked’; again, they can be classified a non-Newtonian fluid.

As an alchemist, I would rate a non-Newtonian fluid as super loony, but still pertaining to the element of water, so I would imagine it was ruled by the Moon. Or, if I may postulate a sixth element after fire, water, earth, air, and aether,  and suggest they are just FUN!
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*The Voyager Science Queen is also known as Lynne Lumsden Green- find out who she is in About Our Contributors!