Featuring the first four chapters from four brilliantly pulpy novels.
Daughters of Forgotten Light by Sean Grigsby: a floating prison is home to Earth’s unwanted people, where they are forgotten… but not yet dead, in this wild science fiction adventure.
Fury From the Tomb by S A Sidor: mummies, grave-robbing ghouls, hopping vampires, and evil monks beset a young archaeologist, in this fast-paced Indiana Jones-style adventure.
Drake by Peter McLean: a sorcerer hitman takes out the wrong target and ends up in the crosshairs when he tries to do the right thing, for once.
Necrotech by K C Alexander: street thug Riko has some serious issues – memories wiped, reputation tanked, girlfriend turned into a tech-fueled zombies – and punching people is the best way forward.
File Under: Pulp Fiction [ Gutter Fantasy | Splatter Punk | Grindhouse | Splatter Punk | Spaceploitation ]
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About the Author
SA SIDOR writes supernatural historical adventures. He lives near Chicago with his family. He is also the author of four acclaimed dark crime thrillers.
PETER MCLEAN was born near London in 1972, the son of a bank manager and an English teacher. He grew up in the Norwich alternative scene, alternating dingy nightclubs with studying martial arts and practical magic. He has a black belt in Taoist Wu-Dang kung fu and practices Chaos magic.
K C ALEXANDER is the author of Necrotech, an aggressive transhumanist sci-fi, and co-author of Bioware’s Mass Effect: Andromeda: Nexus Uprising. Specialties include imperfect characters, reckless profanity, and an inclination to defy expectations. She writes whatever she wants to.
Read an Excerpt
FURY FROM THE TOMB by S A Sidor
We found it right where the phantasm had indicated.
The horned skull rock.
I used my telescope to make a quick survey. The surrounding desert supported no life. Not a bird, reptile, or the lowliest dung beetle left any visible mark on the landscape.
The exhausted camels grumbled and spit in our faces.
It was good to not be riding any more. My backside had grown calloused, but I had yet to acclimate to the seasick pitch and yaw of an ambling camel.
I rubbed the dirt between my fingers. It felt decidedly unclean. There was oiliness to it, as if it had absorbed a viscid liquid that would not drain off. The men were tired and no good for any work that day. Yet an unusual cheerfulness had arisen in them, almost mania. They poked at each other like boys, smirking, and a few began to dance, stomping their feet with spirited vitality. This buoyancy I attributed to our arrival.
We lit fires, ate our meager rations, and all quieted.
A moonless night – so impenetrable I could not discern the skull rock, though I knew it hunkered in the sands a few yards away from camp. Once inside the tent, my prone body fell quickly to sleep and – quite unusual for me – I did not dream.
NECROTECH by K C Alexander
I plunged into brutal consciousness.
The light searing through the thin barrier of my eyelids did its best to fry my already scrambled brains, leaving me groaning as I threw an arm over my aching eye sockets. My tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth, glued by a gummy layer of what felt like mange. Given the taste, something furry had crawled inside my mouth and spawned a litter.
That would explain the three-legged tango my guts were attempting, and possibly the incessant drone flattening all the wrinkles in my brain. Whatever chemical slank I’d gotten into last night, it wrecked me. Hard.
Keeping my eyes squeezed shut, I managed to work up enough foul-tasting saliva to rasp a groan. “Who do I have to fuck to turn that light off?” My voice, ruined by the mother of all hangovers, graveled.
I didn’t get an answer.
I tried again, too hoarse to inject it with my usual impatient demand. “Lucky?”
I cracked an eye from under my arm. Shafts of light branded my retinas. My vision went supernova despite the shade, and what was left of my brain dried into a crusted scab. Groaning, I squeezed my eyes shut again and desperately tried not to throw up all over myself.
Not my finest hangover. Not my first, either. I had a habit of waking up in places I couldn’t remember blacking out in. Some called it one of my better traits – usually because it involved at least two of us fucked up and naked.
The problem here was that I wasn’t supposed to be doing that anymore. I’d promised my girlfriend I’d tone it down, at least when she wasn’t with me. What little I could glean here made it clear Nanji was definitely not with me.
Goosebumps rippled up the skin of my calves. I shuddered, which only drew my attention to the feel of my bare ass plastered against equally bare metal—both made colder by the frigid temperature of the room.
I’d gotten the fucked up and naked parts down okay, but where? The air smelled way too clean for a hostel. I couldn’t pin the scent. It wasn’t perfume or even that so-called refreshing crap the average air scrubber spat out to mask the usual nasal mugging. I’d never gotten olfactory analyzers installed, so while I knew mercs who could list off every molecule in a fifty-meter radius, I couldn’t make it past clean.
That alone was enough to tell me I wasn’t anywhere near my squat. Nothing short of an industrial air filter would make that ratfest smell good. I wasn’t even sure what good smelled like. Not this.
This smelled like nothing. Sanitized, sterile.
Breathing took effort; it tasted like I was licking something’s fecal afterbirth with every swallow. The dull bass beat pounding in my skull was either my chipset shorting out or the aftereffects of whatever I ate, drank, smoked, shot or snorted last night at the self-congratulatory hey, we screwed the pooch and didn’t die revel. Hell if I could remember what I’d ingested, how much and with who. Knowing me, it could be anything, anyone, anywhere.
All I remembered was the club. Lights, skin. Sweat. I was fresh off Lucky’s chopshop miracle table, celebrating the life I almost wasted on a job gone bad, and then...
Nothing. I’d blacked out.
DRAKE by Peter McLean
He saw my warpstone and raised me an angel’s skull, and there was no way I could cover that bet. I had a Knight-high flush and the Tower, which is a fair hand in Fates, but that warpstone was all I had left. My palms were itching like badgers in heat. I looked down at my cards and the face of the Knight of Cups looked back up at me. He looked drunk and happy in his painted tarot world, the lucky sod. I was just drunk, and in London.
Someone laughed, away on the other side of the smoky club. I heard glasses clinking together and the rattle of dice at another gaming table. Across the table from me Wormwood was starting to look impatient. He poked another cigarette between his thin, grey lips and lit it with the butt of the last one. He mashed the old one out in the overflowing ashtray beside him without looking and coughed a streamer of acrid smoke into the already thick air. A strand of his long hair was stuck greasily to the three-day growth of stubble on his cheek.
He rested his free hand on top of the skull and stroked it with fingers that were nicotine-stained to the colour of dark mahogany.
“Well, Drake?” he said. “I ain’t got all bleedin’ night.”
I cleared my throat, and the waitress wiggled up beside me with the bottle and poured another generous slosh of whisky into my glass. Very expensive, very old single malt whisky. I nodded a thanks at her. She was pretty, I thought. Nice tail. Another night I might have tried it on with her, but this was proper serious now and I needed to concentrate on the game. I knocked the whisky straight back and set my glass down on the table.
The Tower, again. This was the third hand tonight that I’d drawn it as my trump, and if that didn’t suck for an omen I didn’t know what did. I glanced at the two decks of cards on the table, the thick one for the suits and the slimmer deck of major arcana which were the trumps in the game. I half wondered if Wormwood was cheating somehow, but that was a dangerous kind of thought to be having here. I reached up to loosen my tie a little, and stretched out my aching neck until it cracked. Wormwood was drumming his fingers on the skull now, and his huge, horned minder was starting to give me that look that said I’d better not be taking the piss. I found myself wondering where exactly you bought a dinner jacket to fit a nine foot tall demon, and what sort of tailor wouldn’t think that was a bit odd. I realized my attention was wandering again and forced my eyes back to my cards.
“Right, look,” I said, trying to put the enormous minder out of my thoughts. “I’d be about ready to call you on that but, um…”
“But you’re skint,” Wormwood finished for me. “Aintcha?”
DAUGHTERS OF FORGOTTEN LIGHT by Sean Grigsby
That’s one thing they never told Lena Horror about space – how damn dark it is. Her gang sped down the glowing glass streets of Oubliette, but it was only a tease of light, false and too dim for comfort.
Their cyclone motorcycles didn’t exactly have wheels, even though Grindy had always called them that. They were round like wheels, they spun like wheels, but the bikes hovered on swirling circles of blazing light. Pretty as Christmas in Hell and three times as hot.
No wind blew on Oubliette, but Lena wasn’t about to let that stop her. If she just went fast enough the illusion of wind could be created. She adored feeling her hair thwap against the back of her shoulders and tickle her ears, the flapping brown strands a lot louder than the low hum of two-wheeled death between her legs. But most of all, she liked how the cyclones lit up the city, piercing the shadows and letting everyone know, when they saw blue light bouncing off the buildings, the Daughters of Forgotten Light were coming.
Always traveling in a V formation, they rode five strong now. Only a month before it had been six. Even missing a rider, their bikes took up the street’s width and anyone in their path had better move or get run down. Riding like that, each Daughter was at another’s side. If another gang shot at them from behind, they had more chance of seeing it coming, or at least one of the sheilas in the back could scream an alert before the rest of the Daughters got blasted.
There was a truce on, wasn’t there? Truce or no, Lena wasn’t about to drop her guard. Lena told herself a leader shouldn’t question her own decisions, just like those under her shouldn’t challenge them. Did they think paranoia had her all fucked up? This was still Oubliette, and trust had long gone extinct.
“The shipment just came through the Hole,” Hurley Girly shouted from Lena’s right. Her blond pigtails bounced as she whipped her head up, looking to where the box hurtled toward them like a meteor.
Shit. Lena could have spit if she didn’t think one of her gang would have caught it in the face.
Beyond Oubliette’s towering buildings, outside the city’s green, fabricated atmosphere – the Veil – the quarterly shipment jetted from the space gate. The Veil made Oubliette a sprawling roach motel. Whatever came in never went out, and that included all the stale air, and all the sorry sheilas confined to the city.