Aphelion: Chapter 3, Urban Decay

In which Varrett considers therapy and has a very profound epiphany about bean bags; and we learn what the life of a Runner in Horizon’s Crown looks like.

Preview:

Varrett hauled his reluctant ass out of bed. 05:02 his bedside clock said with an obnoxious neon-orange flash of light and a quiet buzz. He swatted for it — and much like every other morning, the stupid clock dodged him. All while being perfectly immobile.

Oh, how he’d have liked to be immobile too; stay flat on his back in his room and let Horizon’s Crown do its thing out there without him for a day or two. Yep, of course he had a room. Nothing near as spacious as Naemie’s bedroom (which he’d totally been in before), but big enough for a low bed with a reasonably comfortable mattress, a desk of the orderly, yet cluttered variety, a dresser with the drawers never closed, a standing mirror in a corner, and enough floor space left to allow for one Varrett-sized klutz getting laid out face first.

Because sitting up had been one thing. Blearily rubbing at his face and forgetting he’d dropped his pants next to it? That was a different story altogether. One that ended with his feet tangled up and the floor saying Hi by smacking him in the chin.

“This is going to be an amazing day,” he mumbled into the dusty carpet and wondered if, maybe, just maybe, he should have stayed in bed.

But then who’d earn all the credits he’d thrown at Clive yesterday?

Ten minutes later, and he’d herded together his work gear, slapped it on, and was busy latching his vest shut while he sifted through a handful of messages that’d come in overnight. They scrolled by at the edge of his vision: two repair offers for the water boiler, a garage bill with a countdown crawling towards zero at the bottom of the message, three variations of Hey, V, would you mind [insert errand here], and one from Naemie with a— woah, hello —attachment. Plus a bunch of spam. Because where would civilization be if no one tried to sell you snake oil cures for the known universe’s most terrifying virus or add another inch or so to your dick?

It’d be— once and for all —over.

Read Aphelion on Ao3
Explore Aphelion on Campfire

Exploring Horizon’s Crown as I write it is so much fun. There is a lot to see and not enough words that fit into one chapter. Though what’s even better? Exploring it with Varrett. He has got just the right amount of fucks to give and his optimism helps me through the grimmer places.

I’ve also got to say I am really enjoying Campfire. It helps me keep my own facts straight and I’ve reached a point in Aphelion where that’s beginning to be really important.

Aphelion: A Cyberpunk-lite Web Serial

#zombie apocalypse #slow burn #cyberpunk-lite #soulmagic #soul links #a tiny bit of horror #hope in the face of darkness #rated m for language because Varrett is a potty mouth

In a world where tech runs off the concept of one’s soul and where dragons steady cosmic scales, heroes are shaped in the shadow of an ancient grudge.

Horizon’s Crown was an Earther triumph; a stage at the frontier of known space, a city of hope and dreams and infinite potential.
Then one man bit another.
Now, under the watchful eye of its orbital island, it straddles the line between dead and dying; a city of nightmares and endless sorrow.            

Varrett Vild Vickers belongs into a pilot’s chair. He’s meant to dodge asteroids, to race dragons, not chase credits so he can pay rent while HC’s major demographic clicks its teeth at him and tries to eat his face off. But it’s fine. Really. He copes.

Or that’s what he tells himself, all the way until a woman falls from the sky and turns his already upside-down life very sharply sideways. 

Armed with nothing but her worst-kept secret and a ledger of lies, Sophya Soulwright tricks her way into Horizon’s Crown, looking for redemption and for meaning to a life she never held dear.
What she finds instead is a city trying its hardest to live, and a man who courts death every step of the way. He’s infuriating, tireless, and he’s her only hope.

They wish they’d never met. 

Aphelion is a work in progress and will be updated with new chapters and behind the scenes elements as it matures. My intention is to explore Horizon’s Crown alongside Varrett and Sophya, so expect the pacing to not be ideal at times. The eventual end result will be polished accordingly!

Comic Review: Radius

By Katrin Gal. Find it here!

Rarely I find something that snatches me up as quick as Radius did. I mean, honestly, how couldn’t it. Have you seen the art? That’s what got my attention anyway. Came for the gorgeous visual. Stayed for the world building, the layered characters, and the burning need to know how their story continues.

Tom Ravens, Tank, Surfer and Buster: The “Hellhounds” are an elite unit tasked with keeping Avon’s rebels in check. Their most recent mission does not go as planned…

Radius is a gritty cyberpunk/sci-fi story in an original setting focused on a (literally) split planet divided into two distinct halves and held together by a mysterious energy source. Each half is home to a distinct faction who do not see eye to eye. To spice it up some more, an artificial virus turns its survivors into dangerous cyborgs. Which is exactly the sort of spice this Taff wants and needs in her life if you know anything about her.

The art is delicious. The panels creatively put together. There’s an entire section in the second issue where one of the main protagonists, Tom Ravens, is having himself a shower and then a bit of a breakdown, and I swear to the dog currently licking my ankle that those pages are my absolute favourite of any comic I have read up to this point.

There’s so much emotion and motion conveyed in the art that I just got to praise it and recommend to anyone.

The characters got depth and are intriguing. The good guys and the bad guys. My fav used to be Tom but then I learned some stuff about Tank and I think I may be team Tank now because, EXCUSE ME SIR?! He made my printer overheat. c( ⁰ 〰 ⁰ )੭ Anyway.

I got little else to say that’d do this justice. You should experience it for yourself and you can totally do that (in English) over on Katrin’s Patreon. And if you’re in Germany or Austria, maybe even get yourself a physical copy? They look gorgeous on shelves.

Radius comics on my shelf. They look gorgeous.
Pardon the dust.

What to expect: Cyberpunk aesthetics. Action. Two factions at odds (one sleek and clean, one gritty and rough). Beautiful visuals. Great panel composition. Gorgeous characters. Also handsome characters. And beautiful characters. They are really good to look at, okay?!

What Taff didn’t like: Uhm. Needs more Tank on a horse. Obviously. Duh.

Short Story Review: Blackberries and Snow

By Lacey over at allnightwriting
Read it here.

It’s hot today, going to be hotter tomorrow, and now the sky is an unbroken field of haze that burns the throat as it goes down and reeks of charred wood and burnt rubber.

I‘ve never reviewed a short story before, so I am not entirely sure where to start or where to end, especially with this particular piece. There’s a lot packed into so few words, and it all comes together under the unkind heat of a world turned hostile by rampant climate change. Which, now more than ever, is a topic that very much resonates with a lot of us. Worries us, even. Though while that is a tangible theme, the story didn’t leave me feeling grim and hopeless. No. Rather the opposite. 

I feel the string that ties me to these people, to my home, acutely this morning. It’s alive, vibrant, and hooked so deeply into my heart that it’s going to hurt when I pull away.

Blackberries and Snow is a a beautiful, short eco punk story that follows a young woman in her steps over the threshold of her childhood home, and out into an uncertain, but hopeful future.

I like it, okay. I don’t really know what else to say. Lacey’s writing has always drawn me in, and I love how she doesn’t ever let us lose hope, or get lost in the darkness of an inherently dark theme. 

A Shielding Thing: Day 0

When I was twelve or so, I was neck deep in imagining a world that knew no boundaries, where one day little Taff would chop at the air with a lightsaber, and the other she’d battle fierce Xenomorphs.  Or why not both at once?  It was a world, where velociraptors were friendly, and horses had feathers, and dragons liked it when you rode the skies with them.

It was great.

But then life happened, innocence was lost, and while I grew up, so did the carefree and boundless world.  It changed.  Over. And. Over. Again.  Until the only thing that I could still recognize, was a single name in it:  Shielding. 

And for so long- for more than a century -I’ve doubted that I would ever be able to pluck that world from my head at all.  Because everyone says they’ll write a book one day, don’t they?  Well.  A lot of them, anyway, except then they never actually do.

Just look at Google’s opinion on the matter of:

howmany

Out of every 1,000 people that set out to write a book, only 30 actually finish. And if you then add on top of that the fact that only 20% of people who write a book actually publish it, this means only 6 people get published. [source]

Don’t quote me on that tho’ – it’s from 2012, and we’ve got self publishing really taking off now, which, hey- was mostly why I’ve finally decided that I’ve run out of excuses.  Because once you’ve put almost four novels worth of content out there, have finished three books, there’s really no more room to argue “But, I can’t.” 

Shielding Thing - A Valiant Remedy

Latchkey Hero, my Dying Light fan fiction, has made it into a solid third season, with two whole books finished.  Season two and three are good as original already, giving me an opportunity to practice building a plot from the bottom up.

A Valiant Remedy ended at 200k words, and… doesn’t suck.  Who’d have thought bringing A Shielding Thing together with Chris Redfield Resident Evil, would actually work?

So.

Buckle up.

We are getting started.  And since I’m posting this there, I suppose I got to take responsibility for actually following through.

Part 1 of the first book has been outlined.  Sort of.