Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Dying for Space by SJ Higbee

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This is my stop during the blog tour for Dying for Space by S.J. Higbee. This blog tour is organized by Lola's Blog Tours. The blog tour runs from 14 till 31 December. See the tour schedule here.

Dying for SpaceDying for Space (The Sunblinded Trilogy#2)

By S.J. Higbee

Genre: Science Fiction

Age category: New Adult

Release Date: 14 December 2017


Cadet Officer Elizabeth Wright just wants to make her father proud, while the mercenary warlord is looking for her to replace his dead family…

I finally get the opportunity to become a serving officer and fulfil my childhood dream, as well as get to know my biological father, General Norman. And when I first clap eyes on Restormel, the HQ of my father’s space mercenary outfit, it’s the most beautiful building I’ve ever seen.

But appearances can be deceptive. There are dark secrets hidden in the twisting corridors and blood-soaked cells beneath the training grounds and banqueting rooms. Secrets that seep out. Secrets that demand fresh victims, because whatever else happens, they can’t be allowed to see the light of day…

You can find Dying for Space on Goodreads

You can buy Dying for Space here on Amazon

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Excerpt Four

Hearing the hostages’ appeals for help had hardened the mood on Peacebringer. I swear the crew would’ve spacewalked down to Modimo, where we finally cornered the slimers. They were heading for a series of caverns in the foothills surrounding one of the biggest plateaux on the dirtball. Bilge-babble claimed that Morrigan was up for vaporising the moon, but as it orbited the mining planetoid Hosi, that was a complete non-starter.
Our fighting force landed over the horizon from their camp. We spent a long, unlovely journey bouncing around the transporter as it jolted along what passed for a road on this dust-scuffed ball. Then, bruised and aching, we disembarked and crawled for a long light year to surround them, all fully suited as Modimo’s atmosphere was only just breathable if you moved no faster than a dozing snail. We’d just got into position when their proximity alarms started howling.
Sergeant Gently’s face tightened behind his facemask as his voice growled into my eardrop, “Right. This is liable to get flooding messy.” He glared at me as if it were my fault. “You stick with me like we’re Tuf-Taped together. Got that?”
“Yessarge.” My mouth was on auto while the rest of me was struggling to take it in. I was actually seeing real action. Today some bad people were going to die. Maybe some of us would get hurt, too. My guts churned with excitement and fear. Inside battle gauntlets, my hands were damp. The only dank spot was having Sergeant Gently alongside.
Even now, as lasers spat and spyflakes sizzled on max power around me, resentment burned. Was I also rushing to attack alongside the rest of the crew? Nah, I was tethered to Gently’s apron-strings. Gripping my weapon, I cursed under my breath as everyone else surged past us. Fact was, I was so busy fuming about being kept out of the action I missed Sarge’s first hand-sig to move up. His slap across my visor soon had me paying attention, though. After which, I was struggling to keep up with Gently, who must’ve been related to a snake, the speed he belly-wriggled across the ground.
Come to think of it, his Mum being a poisonous reptile would explain much about him.
“Give it up! You’re not gonna get outta this. Throw down your weapons!” Morrigan’s amped voice roared over the opening stutter of weapons’ fire.
“Go prod yourself, bitch! Or better still – wait till I give you one, myself!” came back the reply. “Keep this prod-fodder company, why don’t you?” A girl about my age stumbled as she was shoved out from behind a rock, falling to her knees. Wearing nothing but a few shreds and a breather, she was bloodstained and filthy. And so traumatised, she seemed indifferent to the weapon trained on her head.
They’d chosen their position well. It was a small gully surrounded with boulders and the geo-fiz readouts suggested the area was honeycombed with caves. We all knew if the pirates managed to escape underground, we could spend the next year trying to flush them out. Our air-drone hovering over their camp suddenly exploded in a fireball and sadly, the flaming remains didn’t land on top of them.
Sarge started swearing under his breath as the Captain’s voice came through my eardrop, “Our spyflakes are being fuzzed, but we estimate there are around twenty bandits and between four and ten hostages. So careful who you’re shooting at, people. That said – our instructions are that this scum don’t leave here in one piece. The ship they took is one of our subscribers.”
Does that mean the hostages are expendable? I didn’t know. Thinking of that girl and what she’d gone through made me sick to my stomach. Looking up, I spotted another air-drone buzzing in the sky. Laser fire broke out ahead of us and the ground shook as something big exploded off to the left. I couldn’t see a thing, stuck behind the largest rock Gently managed to find. Indeed, it was so big you could’ve fitted at least another two useless newbies behind it. I started shuffling to the edge. Until a hand landed on my shoulder.
Sarge growled in my eardrop, “If I had my way, we’d still be aboard Peacebringer alongside Morrigan – but she wanted me with the troops. Which is why you’re here. But don’t you so much as breathe without my yaysay, girl.”
“No, Sarge.” My voice was flat with the effort of holstering my temper. I was s’posed to be experiencing action – not shielded behind some old rock while everyone around me got to join in!
“Cover my back and then follow when I’m in position. On my mark,” he snapped.
Easing right up behind Sarge, the sharp smell coming off him was a shock. He’s afraid.
“Now!” Gently dived across the gap between our rock and the next smaller boulder. For an older man, he moved fast.
Jabbing my weapon out round the rock, I let off a couple of volleys. Then recalled Morrigan’s words about being careful who we shot at. Cold with horror, I stopped. What if I’ve just taken down one of our own? Or worse still – one of the hostages?
A zipping burst pinged off the rock, pattering stone shards onto the sand. I crawled to the other side and risked a quick look. A bandit had my boulder in his sights and was waiting. I jerked back as dust and hot splinters flared off my suit shielding. Another spatter of laser fire erupted on either side of me. What if they’ve surrounded me? What if I’m cut off? What if I hit Sarge and I’m left here?
Get a grip, for Mother Earth’s sake! Jessica’s nagging was no help.
Gritting my teeth, I loosened the flap on my pulse grenades. The crudsuckers weren’t taking me without a deal of grief. After seeing what they’d done to that poor girl, no way was I gonna end up like that.
“Norman! Move up,” roared Sarge. “Now, flood it!”
Light-headed with terror, I flung myself across the gap to the smaller boulder. The bandit who’d been shooting at me was slumped across the scarlet-splashed outcrop. I only managed a fleeting glimpse as I dived for cover, but the sight brought a savage spike of pleasure. Yeah! Hope it hurt, you hell-bound bilgescum.
Sarge was waiting, eyes glittering behind his facemask. “When I say, ‘Move’ I don’t ╩╝spect you to take all day over it!”
“No Sarge.” There was nothing else to say, especially as he had a point.
“We gotta lay down some diversionary fire. Trust your suit. It won’t fail. Think you can do it? Cos if you can’t, there’s no shame in it. This sliming mess,” he muttered, jerking his helmet towards the fighting, “isn’t normally how we ease newbies in.”
My face burned with shame. While I’d been cowering behind that rock, I’d left him waving in the wind. I should’ve been the one to take out that pirate, not left it to someone else. “I can do it, Sarge. My word on it.” I hefted my weapon, flinching at the bright green readouts winking back at me. Everyone’s firearms around me were mostly showing orange.
I ducked out from behind the boulder. Two pirates had just set up a phase cannon off to the right, which could potentially pin down several of our positions – including ours. However, it was pointed at one of the smallest rocks where a couple of our people were trapped.
As he started shooting, the shielding flared red around it and Sarge’s voice sounded in my eardrop, “If the scumsac gets a shot off at that rock, Claxton and Thursk will be chewing carbonised sand.” He paused as he squeezed off another round. Soon as he stopped, I aimed and fired, swallowing rancid-tasting fear.
Claxton and Thursk were in a world of trouble. The only thing stopping them being blown off the face of the dirtball was our combined firing. Because to fire the cannon, the zilchers would have to drop their shields and so long as Sarge and me kept up our barrage, they wouldn’t risk it. So we thought.
One of the bastards ducked down and bobbed back up, holding up a small boy in front of him and the cannon. They were going to use him as a human shield while they blasted away at Claxton and Thursk. About the same age as Luke, the child was crying as the slimesac jabbed a laser pistol at his head.
“Mine!” Sarge knelt up, steadied his weapon and aimed.
I held my breath, waiting alongside him. As soon as the tell-tale shimmer outlining the cannon and its crew disappeared, I heard Sarge hiss.
OhMotherEarthabove, he’s not going to— But he did. That headshot was the sweetest piece of targeting I’ve ever seen – and I’ve seen a whole lot since then. The scuzzer slumped forward, knocking the boy clear of the pirate’s outcrop. The child curled in a ball, screaming for his Mummy.
I was on my feet, zigzagging towards him before I thought about it.

First book in the series:

Running Out of Space

Elizabeth Wright has yearned to serve on the space merchant ship Shooting Star for as long as she can remember – until one rash act changes everything…

You can buy Running Out of Space on Amazon

SJ HigbeeAbout the Author:

Born the same year as the Russians launched Sputnik, I confidently expected that by the time I reached adulthood, the human race would have a pioneer colony on the Moon and be heading off towards Mars. So I was at a loss to know what to do once I realised the Final Frontier wasn’t an option and rather lost my head - I tried a lot of jobs I didn’t like and married a totally unsuitable man.

Now I've finally come to terms with the fact that I’ll never leave Earth, I have a lovely time writing science fiction and fantasy novels while teaching Creative Writing at Northbrook College in Worthing. I’ve had a number of short stories, articles and poems published – the most recent being my story ‘Miranda’s Tempest’ which appeared last year in Fox Spirit’s anthology Eve of War. I recently signed a publishing contract with Grimbold Publishing for my science fiction novel Netted, which is due to be released in 2019.

I live in Littlehampton on the English south coast with a wonderful husband and a ridiculous number of books. I can be found online chatting about books at my book review blog and you’re very welcome to pop onto my website and my Facebook page

You can find and contact S.J. Higbee here:

- Website

- Blog

- Facebook

- Twitter

- Goodreads

Guest post

Five Books That Feature Food by S.J. Higbee
Dying for Space blog tour
As food and dining features quite heavily in Dying for Space, I thought I would list five of my favourite books that also ensure we know what their characters are eating.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy - until he is rescued by an owl, taken to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, learns to play Quidditch and does battle in a deadly duel. The Reason ... HARRY POTTER IS A WIZARD!
To be honest, I could have chosen any of the Harry Potter books, but this is the one that introduces the magical sweets. I love the idea of those chocolate frogs hopping around the train carriage – and of course, there are also those amazing feasts at Hogwarts… Like most growing children, Harry and his friends are often hungry so Rowling ensures that plenty of food appears in her adventures, helping the worldbuilding by emphasising the otherness and wonder of this parallel magical world.

The Mongrel Mage – Book 19 in The Saga of Recluce series by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
In the world of Recluce, powerful mages can wield two kinds of magic – the white of Chaos or the black of Order. Beltur, however, has talents no one dreamed of, talents not seen in hundreds of years that blend both magics. On the run from a power hungry white mage, Beltur is taken in by Order mages who set him on the path to discover and hone his own unique gifts and in the process find a home.
This is another author whose books always feature food very heavily. I love the way this master worldbuilder takes you into the everyday life of his protagonist, Beltur, so that we know his daily routine, what he wears, how often he washes and what he eats. The issue regarding food immediately lets the reader know how far up the social scale our hero is and whether the society is also prospering. I also find it interesting that high-ranking Chaos mages cannot get involved in food preparation as they tend to taint food, so they eat to live, rather than live to eat. A nice twist using the magic system that Modesitt is so good at.

A Civil Campaign – Book 12 of the Miles Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold
Miles Vorkosigan has a problem: unrequited love for the beautiful widow Ekaterin Vorsoisson, violently allergic to marriage after her first exposure. If a frontal assault won't do, Miles thinks, try subterfuge. He has a cunning plan... Lord Mark Vorkosigan, Miles' brother, also has a problem: his love has just become unrequited again. But he has a cunning plan... Lord Ivan Vorpatril, Mile's cousin, has a problem: unrequited love in general. But he too has a cunning plan...
Unlike the previous two authors, Bujold doesn’t pay special attention to what her characters eat in her books. But A Civil Campaign is as much a comedy of manners as a space opera adventure and there is a particular banquet in the book which had me giggling helplessly as it all went spectacularly wrong… I’d love to see HBO do a Game of Thrones treatment on this series – there wouldn’t be quite so many quarrelling factions or so much sex, but there would be just as much adventure and a lot more laughs.

The Martian by Andy Weir
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.
Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars’ surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive. And even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive.
Chances are, though, Mark won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark’s not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills—and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength–he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth.
Food isn’t just a matter of worldbuilding in this Robinson Crusoe-in-space adventure, it’s a matter of survival. Once Mark manages to organise his environment so it won’t kill him, the one thing he is most likely to die of is starvation. So there is a slog of mixing his own excrement with the soil to grow potatoes… Weir brilliantly demonstrates just what the odds are against his managing to live in such a hostile place by the battle he faces to produce sufficient food to prevent his death.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
In October 1843, Charles Dickens ― heavily in debt and obligated to his publisher ― began work on a book to help supplement his family's meager income. That volume, A Christmas Carol, has long since become one of the most beloved stories in the English language. As much a part of the holiday season as holly, mistletoe, and evergreen wreaths, this perennial favorite continues to delight new readers and rekindle thoughts of charity and goodwill.
With its characters exhibiting many qualities ― as well as failures ― often ascribed to Dickens himself, the imaginative and entertaining tale relates Ebenezer Scrooge's eerie encounters with a series of spectral visitors. Journeying with them through Christmases past, present, and future, he is ultimately transformed from an arrogant, obstinate, and insensitive miser to a generous, warmhearted, and caring human being. Written by one of England's greatest and most popular novelists, A Christmas Carol has come to epitomize the true meaning of Christmas.
I love this book – one of the splendid aspects of The Muppet Christmas Carol was that it actually used quotes from the book. Dickens is another author who has always used food in his books to great effect. I could go on explaining how he does it – instead I’ll include an small extract:
There were pears and apples, clustered high in blooming pyramids; there were bunches of grapes, made, in the shopkeepers’ benevolence to dangle from conspicuous hooks, that people's mouths might water gratis as they passed; there were piles of filberts, mossy and brown, recalling, in their fragrance, ancient walks among the woods, and pleasant shufflings ankle deep through withered leaves; there were Norfolk Biffins, squab and swarthy, setting off the yellow of the oranges and lemons, and, in the great compactness of their juicy persons, urgently entreating and beseeching to be carried home in paper bags and eaten after dinner.
And this isn’t the end of it – there are several more long, rolling sentences listing get more seasonal goodies in the same excited tone. But it is glorious and festive – no wonder this book still calls to us when we want to rekindle that seasonal excitement.
What are your favourite books that feature food? Do you enjoy reading about mouth-watering meals experienced by characters?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for taking part in the blog tour and doing such a wonderful job of featuring Dying for Space:).