Two FREE short stories from an Internet pen pal, cover artists and editors for indie writers, and some of my summer reading...
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Two Free Short Sci-Fi Stories From Singapore

A member of the alternate-history forum I've been part of since high school wrote a couple of short-short stories a couple years back that I copied onto my blog. Since that blog post is pretty old (2010), I decided to copy them here to share with you guys.

The first story is based on a news article someone posted about Singapore building an underground nuclear reactor. One board member joked that Singapore could become a real-life Dwarven Kingdom (think the underground cities in Lord of the Rings).

Sanjay connected that with Moria from the first LOTR movie:

Fifteen hundred years later...

The King under the Equator held in his hands the gate between East and West...but the merchant princes of Singapore delved too greedily and too deep and they woke the sleeping Darkness. Who knows what dwells in the nighted caverns at the bottom of the world, who knows what strange blasphemies burrow the living rock? 

No man knows. But the jackal and the lizard haunt the vine-encrusted towers of Singapore- Queen of the East, once proud now dust. Mariners sail far clear of that cursed isle for at dawn and dusk they say the shattered lights of the City glow once again, and in that hard, unwholesome light strange things are seen.

But they do not like to speak of it. 

Here's the second story, which came around after someone posted an interview with Stephen Hawking in which he warned that contact with aliens could go about as bad for us as contact with the Europeans went for the Indians. Sanjay suggested the reason humans haven't been visited by aliens is because we're the first species in the universe to achieve sentience. He then wrote this story:

Maybe we're the first ones. A million years from now they will speak of us; Human, Terran, words that mean angel- or demon- in a billion languages. We walked among the stars in fire and shadow, we stretched our hand across the galaxy and called it our own. At our command races were uplifted or cast down.

Only a few fragmented tales and corrupted records remain of those times. And spacefarers still speak of dark and disturbing legends, of the few damned ships which have slipped off course and come at last to ancient Sol where the husks of mighty defence platforms still ring storied Earth and the brave- or foolish- spacer who slips past comes at last to the threshold of glory and awe and madness, the ancient planet where Humans raised themselves from the dust and from whence they hurled themselves across the void.

The legends are whispered for few- if any- are those who return from that dire globe, if the legends be true. A strange light glows in the ancient cities of Earth and things live which should long since have perished for the Humans knew secrets far beyond the ken of any latter day sentients. Perhaps the foolhardy spacer who has grounded his craft in an ancient city will step forward and walk the dusty streets and who knows what will step forth to greet him, shrouded in dark energies? Some things are best left undisturbed, a memory of glory and agony among the stars and the name of Human should not be spoken lest it summon that which cannot be endured. They are the First Ones. Let them rest.

I'm not sure if he's comfortable with his full name going out online, so I just refer to him as "Sanjay" or "the man from Singapore." He also wrote a guest review of the movie 300: Rise of an Empire if you'd like to read that too.

I've also read some of the stories he's posted (including a couple set in a world where Alexander the Great lived longer, conquered India, and in the chaos following his death an illegitimate son established an empire there) and if any should become available, I'll let you guys know.
Indie Writer? Looking for Cover Artist or Editor?

Chris Nuttall, an independent science fiction and fantasy writer I became acquainted with through the alternate-history forum, has some really nice covers for his books. Since crappy cover art seems to be a perennial problem for indie writers, I figured I ought to avoid that trap by asking whom he uses.

Here's his list of cover artists--and editors too.

I'm primarily interested in the cover artists because although I can edit and proofread decently, my artistic skills are rather lacking. See my DeviantArt page here, for example. Refrigerator art does not sell books. If I'm going to compete with the science-fiction, fantasy, and horror put out by the big publishers, I'm going to have to match them.

Unfortunately, that costs money. I imagine if I seriously intend to independently publish my books (probably Battle for the Wastelands), I'll need to fund the project with a Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign.
My Summer Non-Fiction Reading List
With most of the summer off, I had a lot more time for writing once some job training and moving was done, but also a lot more time for reading. Here's what I got from the library once I re-upped my Atlanta-Fulton library card.

One Nation Under Gods: A New American History-I first heard about this book because a reviewer said it made the argument there was a period in American history where there were more Muslims in the United States than Roman Catholics.

(I'm guessing this would refer to the period before the end of the African slave trade and the mass migration of Irish Catholics to the U.S. The first generation of slaves would have been pagan or Muslim, at least when they got here, and there wouldn't have been many Catholics in the U.S.)

I haven't read very far into it, but I did some reading a few years back on the practice of Islam among American slaves and it persisted until the War of 1812 at least--a Muslim imam kept slaves from Sapelo Island in southern Georgia from fleeing to the British--so that argument at least is plausible.

Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present-Two of the alien races that populate my various writing projects--the Del-Saurians from my moribund Libertarian space opera Insurrection and a newer project that's basically the fall of the Western Roman Empire IN SPAAACE and the Avians from my 25% to 33% completed novel Bloody Talons: An Oral History of the Avian War--were originally pastoralists (nomadic peoples who travel with herds of livestock--think the Bedouin Arabs or the old-school Huns and Mongols), not agriculturalists like ourselves. In order to build plausible histories and societies for these beings, I'll need to know more about pastoral societies on Earth.

West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776-I first heard of this book while I was earning my masters in world history at Georgia State University. The author, a professor at my alma mater the University of Georgia, describes everything else that was going on in North America during that pivotal year. For example, the Spanish began colonizing southern California from bases in Mexico because they were afraid the Russians, who were already exploring Alaska, might take California themselves. I haven't gotten that much farther, although since I did see the author speak at GSU once, I know it gets into other interesting topics like the Creek Nation purchasing a European-style ship to trade livestock to Cuba.

The stuff I've read so far has already proven good enough. I really recommend this for anybody interested in U.S. History.
Copyright © 2016 Matthew W. Quinn, All rights reserved.

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