New Stretch Goal Perk + Extra Bonus in the Alien Bride Lottery Kickstarter’s last week! #aliens #scifiromance #kickstarter #crowdfunding

The Alien Bride Lottery Kickstarter just passed another stretch goal! In January 2023, I will be sending an audio annotation of Entered in the Alien Bride Lottery to all backers at the $5 and above level!

And as a bonus gift, I will send a magnet of the Alien Bride Lottery Vol. 1 to all backers whose pledges include physical merchandise.

We still have three days left in The Alien Bride Lottery Kickstarter, and these are the next two stretch goal rewards:

Stretch Goal 11: Every backer at $5 and above will receive an Alien Bride Lottery pin or keychain and every backer whose pledge level includes physical merch will receive a paperback copy of Betrayed by the Alien Bride Lottery.

Stretch Goal 12: I’ll send an audio file of the second Alien Bride Lottery short, “Betrayed by the Alien Bride Lottery,” read by the author (me!) to all backers at the $5 and above tiers.

To reserve your copies of these Alien Bride Lottery book perks, be sure to back the Alien Bride Lottery Kickstarter now.

And if you’re already a backer, be sure to share the Alien Bride Lottery Kickstarter by going here and clicking on the social media links!

Last Chance to get 3 bonus books when you back the Alien Bride Lottery #Kickstarter! #alienromance #scifiromance

Your chance to get three hot alien romances as a bonus when you back The Alien Bride Lottery Kickstarter ends August 15 (I’ve extended it by one day!)–and the entire Kickstarter ends August 17–so be sure to back the project today to maximize your bonuses!

When you back this project for as little as $5, you join more than a hundred other readers and receive Kickstarter-exclusive perks, including two brand-new Alien Bride Lottery stories, exclusive artwork, bonus ebooks, alien-romance-themed book swag, and more!

Publishing on Kickstarter

And while you’re at it, check out some of these other great publishing projects on Kickstarter:

Projects Available to Back:

Projects Available to Follow:

One Week Left to Back the Alien Bride Lottery #Kickstarter! #alienromance #scifiromance

The Alien Bride Lottery Kickstarter campaign is almost over! If you haven’t backed it yet, be sure to check it out here–as a backer, you can get tons of alien romance ebooks, paperbacks, hardbacks, swag, and more!

About The Alien Bride Lottery Volume 1 Limited Edition Hardcover

Are you a fan of sexy science fiction romance, hot aliens, and surprise meetings between fated mates?

Do you enjoy spicy alien romances?

Even more, are you looking for a guaranteed happily ever after?

If you’ve answered yes to these questions, then you don’t want to miss out on the passionate romance series The Alien Bride Lottery.

This hardcover edition includes Entered in the Alien Bride Lottery, Captured for the Alien Bride Lottery, and Claimed for the Alien Bride Lottery.

Adult Science Fiction Alien Romance 18+

 *** This book is 100% complete and is currently being re-edited. I am raising funds to create this special hardcover edition with professional formatting. *** 

Genre: Adult, Alien Romance, Science Fiction Romance

Format: Hardcover, paperback, and ebook (pdf, mobi, epub)

Page Count: 400+

The Bachelor meets The Hunger Games…In Space!

The Alien Bride Lottery Volume 1 tells the stories of three human women whose names are drawn in the Alien Bride Lottery to participate in the Bride Games as part of a treaty between the Khanavai warriors and Earth’s leaders—whether or not the women want to become an alien’s chosen mate! (Hint: they don’t!)

This book includes three novels, and you do not need to have read any of the other books in the series in order to enjoy this fantastic sci-fi romance.

The Alien Bride Lottery is fully written. It is currently being edited for a second time and is awaiting professional formatting.  This story, previously published on Amazon Kindle, has not been released in hardcover. This version also includes a hot bonus scene written especially for this edition!

I have successfully published more than fifty books on Amazon and various retailers.

The hardcover print version will not be available for purchase until late 2023, and that edition will not have all of the bonus content included in this book as presented with this Kickstarter offer.

About The Alien Bride Lottery, Vol. 1

The Setting

Station 21 is the Khanavai-run space station that is home to The Bride Games, the Bride Treaty’s answer to “neutral territory.” There, the brides whose names are drawn in the Bride Lottery compete for the chance to win an alien mate–and participation is compulsory. 

The Characters

The Heroes: Khanavai Males

Cav Adredoni is a pilot in the Khanavai space military, but he has plans to go through training to join the military intelligence unit. He doesn’t have time for a new mate, but this might be his only opportunity!

Zont Lanov is a member of the Khanavai’s military intelligence, a spy for his government. But when Dr. Amelia Rivers goes on the run rather than join the Bride Games, Zont decides she’s the mate for him and goes to Earth to track her down.

Eldron Gendovi is a military commander who takes care of his people–including the woman he hopes will become her mate and her young son–no matter what it takes.

The Heroines: Human Women

Natalie Ferguson is a college student with a crush on a jazz musician classmate. When her name is drawn in the Alien Bride Lottery, she’s determined to get out of marrying a total stranger. She’s playing this game to lose.

Amelia Rivers is a talented surgeon who’s avoided the Bride Lottery so far–and when her name is drawn, she removes her tracker and translator and runs. Too bad for her, Zont Lanov is as determined to catch her as she is to avoid being caught.

Mia Jones is in hiding from her abusive ex. But her black-market tracker isn’t as anonymous as she was assured, so when she’s taken to Station 21, she focuses on bringing her young son to join her…while Commander Gendovi focuses all his attention on her.

Plus a whole slew of fun alien sidekicks, most of whom are tasked with keeping the brides in check, including Vos Klavoii, the beleaguered and manipulative Games Director.

***To READ an excerpt from Entered in the Alien Bride Lottery, for free, CLICK HERE. ***

Back the Alien Bride Lottery Kickstarter by August 14 and get these books FREE:

The Alien Bride Lottery Kickstarter Perks also includes TWO new books: Evading the Alien Bride Lottery and Betrayed by the Alien Bride Lottery.

Back The Alien Bride Lottery now for all this and more!

Alien Bride Lottery Kickstarter: Stretch Goals & Bonus Updates!

Hi, everyone!

We’re past the 6th stretch goal, thanks to all you amazing folks who backed the project! I have reached out to an artist to commission the chapter headings for the special edition of the hardcover edition. I can’t wait to share them with you!

I’m also adding a new bonus perk to everyone who backed at a level to receive physical merch (or who orders physical merchandise as an add-on). You’ll all be getting a signed bookplate sticker. Check out the design below—I’ll be signing these right before I send them out!

We’re on our way to goal #7 – which is…a second ebook volume of early science fiction stories by women. I used to be a college English professor and have edited a lot of collections of works by other authors—I’ve had a lot of fun putting this one together and am excited about sharing it with you. You can see the cover for this one below!

Awesome, huh? Keep spreading the word about the project, because I know we can make this goal!


Alien Bride Lottery Hardcover #Kickstarter Update 6: Another Stretch Goal, More Bonuses Unlocked!

Once again, I’m thrilled to announce that The Alien Bride Lottery Kickstarter has hit its next stretch goal!

Stretch Goal #5: Unlocked

I’ve created new printable bookmarks from the latest artwork. Check them out below!

Surprise Bonus #6: Unlocked

For this week’s surprise bonus, I’ve added a printable alien-themed word search—it will go out to every backer.

New Stretch Goals

I’ve also added some new stretch goals recently, so check out the bonuses that will be headed your way as we unlock each new level:

  • At $3500, I’ll commission illustrated chapter headings for the special edition hardcover.
  • At $4000, I’ll create a new ebook collection of early science fiction stories by women.
  • At $4500, I’ll send a signed bookmark to every backer whose pledge includes physical merch.
  • At $5000, I’ll write a second Alien Bride Lottery short story (title TBD) to be sent to every backer digitally in January 2023.
  • At $5500, I’ll send an audio annotation of the first Alien Bride Lottery book to all backers at the $5 and above level.
  • At $6000, every backer at $5 and above will receive an Alien Bride Lottery pin or keychain.
  • At $6500, I’ll send an audio file of the second Alien Bride Lottery short story (title TBD) read by the author (me!) to all backers at the $5 and above tiers.
  • At $10,000, I’ll send a 4×6-inch print of the artwork to every backer.
  • If I hit $15,000 or more, I will send a signed paperback copy of Evading the Alien Bride Lottery and an 8×10-inch print of the exclusive art to every backer.

In case you missed it last time:

I’m already planning out my next couple of projects—but I’d like to get your input on which one(s) I should set up as Kickstarters first! None of these will go live before the current Alien Bride Lottery Kickstarter is done, of course, but I’ll need to start gathering up the extras that I’ll be giving away as bonuses during the Kickstarter run.

Right now, I’ve got six possible series ideas. Five of these are connected to new series: Alien Guardians, Alien War Brides, Abracadabra Apocalypse, Shadow Chronicles, or Borrowed Wings. OR I could use Kickstarter to finish out my Star Mate Interstellar Shifters series. You can see some of the covers from the projects below, and I’d love it if you took the quiz to let me know which one I should start with! 

Again, thank you SO MUCH for your support and encouragement! As the campaign continues, I’ll continue to share more surprise bonuses to celebrate and share with you, so be sure to spread the word.

Please click here and tap one of the share buttons to spread the word about this campaign!

Remember to Enter to Win

And as long as you’re sharing information about the campaign anyway, you should enter for the chance to win an exclusive Alien Romance Premium Swag Pack! (These are different from the goodies available via Kickstarter, just FYI.)

Final Chance to Get Early Backer Rewards

Also, the Early Backer Ebook Rewards (five hot alien and sci-fi romances by some of my favorite authors!) end on July 15, so if you’ve been waiting to back the campaign, now is the time to do it!

Tell Me More!

And I know I continue to ask this in every update, but as I continue to add stretch goals, I’d love to know: what are your favorite kinds of bonuses to receive when backing a publishing Kickstarter campaign?

Click on over to the campaign and let me know with a comment on this post.

Support Publishing on Kickstarter!

While I continue to decide what to do next time, please do continue to support this campaign by sharing the info about the book and rewards with a friend!

Finally, before you go, check out these great publishing campaigns by other authors, too!

Projects Now Available to Back

The Imp Series: Special Anniversary Edition Sets

If you love fast-paced Urban Fantasy with demons and angels and elves and werewolves (oh my!), then get onboard.

The Last Ranger: Book 1 in a new epic fantasy series

An all-new epic fantasy adventure full of magic, revenge, and rampaging titans, from bestselling author J.D.L. Rosell.

Angels of Hell: Poetic Tales of the Apocalypse vol. 1

A collection of Apocalyptic poetry that follows the Four Horsemen as they cross paths with Demons, Angels, Gods & Fae. Plus, a puzzle.

Have a great week, and I’ll see you here again soon!



Tiny and Fierce #excerpt #reverseharem #scifi #alienromance #MFRWHooks

Welcome to this week’s Book Hooks blog hop, sponsored by Marketing for Romance Writers! For my part of the hop, I’m sharing an excerpt from Tiny and Fierce: Her Alien Crew Book 1. Check it out below, then follow the link to the rest of the hop for some great romance books!

Available on Amazon in Kindle Unlimited

In a galaxy where humans are considered the least of all races, she’ll build a crew that adores her strength and style.

When Lise Klein took over her family’s deep-space salvage company, she never expected to stumble through a wormhole into a whole other galaxy full of strange alien races ruled by a cruel empress.

She learns she’s not the first human to wind up there—but the others were captured and sold as slaves. She’ll have to fight to survive.

All she wants is to find a way home. But when she takes on a crew of alien conmen, she finds something truly worth fighting for.

Now, to stay alive, they may have to free the entire system. Luckily for all of them, Lise may be little, but she’s tough.

Her Alien Crew is a slow-burn sci fi reverse harem romance featuring a fae prince with a giant ego and a smart mouth, an insectoid Chilchek warrior with a sensitive soul, and a mysterious, brooding fighter with the wings of a dragonfly—plus an illegally enhanced AI ship captained by one tiny human with room enough in her heart for them all.

Fans of Ruby Dixon, Anna Zaires, and Rebecca Royce will love this hot new whychoose sci-fi romance.


“You’re a cheat and a liar!”

I didn’t turn to find the source of the voice. It had nothing to do with me.

After a heartbeat, I realized the translation running from The Bluebird to the communication device implanted behind my ear didn’t come with its usual delay.

“Way to go, Blue,” I whispered. “You’re getting better at this.”

My ship’s AI snorted in my ear. “I didn’t translate that.”

Frowning, I spun around on my too-tall barstool, designed for creatures much larger than any human. In the corner of the spaceport bar, a Chilchek warrior unfolded himself to his full height—easily seven feet, not counting his pincer horns. Those added at least another three feet to his height.

Even in the dim lighting preferred by most of the bar’s patrons, the royal blue of the Chilchek’s chitinous body gleamed, the color a sure sign that he was male. The facets of his eyes twirled in shades of blue and green. He lifted all four of the legs—arms?—attached to his thorax and pointed them at the man he was facing off against.

Man. As in human male.

I gasped, my eyes widening. No wonder Blue hadn’t had to translate his speech.

A series of clicks and snaps came from the mandibles around the Chilcheck’s mouth. A heartbeat later, Blue’s translation came through. You dare dishonor my colony name? I will squash you like the tiny bug you are.

Bug? That was a bit rich, coming from a Chilchek. I bit down on a giggle and leaned in closer to watch the drama unfolding before me.

The Chilchek leaned forward over the table, looming over the man, who glanced around nervously before taking a step back, giving me a clear look at his face.

And oh, my hot, heavenly stars, he was gorgeous.

Not just because he was the first human I’d seen in months and months.

No, he was flat-out handsome. Dark hair, wide luminous eyes, full lips, high cheekbones.

Quit it, Lise, I scolded myself. No matter how long I’d been stuck here, I wasn’t in this freakshow of an alien bar looking to get laid. I needed a crew.

The Chilchek dropped all four forelegs onto the table, scattering the cards and currency that presumably made up the game they had been playing moments before.

Taking another step back, the human finally replied, raising his own arms as if to ward off the alien warrior. “Fine. If you say you weren’t cheating, then there’s no problem. I don’t want any trouble.”

Most of the players had pulled back from the table and were now, along with the rest of the bar’s patrons, focused on the confrontation.

Any second now, one of the two combatants would lunge for the other and the whole place would erupt in fighting. Time to get out.

I tossed some coins on the table to pay for my drink—Blue had translated its name as a Galactic Blaster—and dropped off the stool to stand on the sticky metal floor beneath. But as I turned to leave, I noticed one of the players step in closer to the table. This one looked more human than not, but built on a bigger scale. And with beautiful, multicolored metal wings on his back. He wore an eyepatch over one eye. With his single good eye, he shot a glance at the human, who gave an almost imperceptible nod.

What was going on here?

With an audible screech of his mandibles, the Chilchek scuttled across the table, employing all six of his appendages as legs, his pincer horns snapping closed inches from the man’s face.

Cursing, the human picked up a nearby chair and swung it toward the Chilchek.

The rest of the bar exploded, everyone drunk and itching for a fight.

The butterfly guy, though, took advantage of the distraction and swept all the currency off the table and into a bag.

Another alien staggered back from a blow someone had landed on its face and bumped into me, almost sitting in my lap. I pushed it off me and focused on the two who had started this bar brawl. They were still lunging, but neither had made contact.

This was a setup. They planned it all.

Without stopping to second-guess myself, I ducked and wove through the reeling crowd until I reached the back-entrance butterfly guy had slipped out through.

If my guess was right, I might have just found the crew I’d been looking for.

* * *

Download Tiny and Fierce Now!

Click here for the rest of the Book Hooks blog hop!

Character Interview: Garren Lowe from CK Kelly Martin’s TOMORROW


Please welcome Garren Lowe, a lead character from CK Kelly Martin’s new YA book Tomorrow, due out this month!

INTERVIEWER: When and where were you born?

GARREN LOWE: 2045 in Billings, Montana, the capital of United North America – the single nation that was formed from the merging of Canada and the U.S.A. in 2032.

INTERVIEWER Do you believe that what will happen in the future? That Canada and the United States will join together?

GARREN LOWE: It happened once already so it’s possible. But I don’t know. The future is subject to change. I’ve seen that firsthand.

INTERVIEWER: In your opinion what’s the worst thing about the future?

GARREN LOWE: Either the lack of freedom or people’s denial about our situation, take your pick. Androids do so many of the jobs that used to belong to people decades ago. That leaves over a third of the U.N.A. unemployed and living in social welfare camps. Then there’s the constant threat of terrorists attacks, the government’s abuse of eco refugees and crippling environmental degradation that meant our days were numbered. But we couldn’t talk about any of that back in 2063. The government controlled the media. If they didn’t like what you said or did they’d have your memory wiped and then covered with a profound desire to obey the state. Then they’d send you off to a toxic waste site to ‘clean-up’ until your body gave out from contamination. Meanwhile the majority of the population was addicted to “gushi,” a virtual reality system indistinguishable from real life. It had its roots in things like videogames and the internet. The technology got better and better, and lots of people couldn’t do without it. They’d rather live mostly in a virtual where they can have whoever or whatever they want than deal with unpleasant realities.

INTERVIEWER: That sounds brutal.


INTERVIEWER: But there must have been good things about the future too? Were there any things you preferred to the place that became your second home, 1986?

GARREN LOWE: Yes, there were good things. The Bio-net for one. It meant most diseases were a thing of the past for citizens of the U.N.A. No more deaths from cancer or heart disease. No more AIDs, allergies or diabetes. All of those things were cured long ago. In the future people lived a long, long time. But there were a few things they couldn’t fix. The Toxo virus for one. And radiation levels from the Pakistan-India War meant women had begun to lose their unborn babies to damaged D.N.A. at an unprecedented rate. Also, many of the prejudices I’ve seen in the 1986 didn’t exist anymore by 2063 – racism, homophobia and sexism. Those were things of the past by then.

INTERVIEWER: It’s good to hear there are some positive things about the future.

GARREN LOWE: Well, I’m hoping that by the time 2063 rolls around again things will be better in a lot of different ways. Like I said, the future is subject to change.

INTERVIEWER: You seem to enjoy quotes so I picked one out to share with you for this interview. “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt

GARREN LOWE: That’s a great one, thanks. I like it, and I believe it.

INTERVIEWER: I do too. Okay, we’ve talked about the good and bad things about the future, now what are the best and worst things about living in 1986?

GARREN LOWE: I have to tell you, the food was disgusting. Full of fat, sodium and chemicals no one should be ingesting. But I started to crave the food anyway. And then cigarettes, which were even worse because with no Bio-net I didn’t want to get cancer, but smoking is a hard habit to break. People act ridiculously in 1986 – junking up the environment without a second thought and giving themselves skin cancer from oiling themselves up in the sun. It’s crazy in some ways and fantastic in others. All these amazing animals we lost to extinction later – rhinos, elephants, polar bears and whales – you’d only find those in zoos in 2063 but in 1986 they were out in the wild for people to see. There’s also an incredible amount of freedom for people lucky enough to live in the west. They can travel the globe freely, unlike in the future when environmental damage and terrorist threats made that impossible. People had to remain within their national borders. Finally, 80s music is pretty great. It’s incredible to be able to see the talented musicians I’d admired from the future live. In 2063 the musicians were mostly clones, genetically spliced hybrids like Chena (a Tina Turner/Cher clone) and Supreme (another female solo act who was an amalgamation of all the original members of the Supremes) created in Chinese labs.

INTERVIEWER: How old are you during the events that occurr in 1986 Vancouver in Tomorrow?

GARREN LOWE: Nineteen. Freya and I were in Vancouver a year after we were sent back in time to 1985. The future was doomed and our parents – especially hers – were powerful people. They thought they were saving us by having us sent back and in some ways, they were right. But things got messy. And U.N.A. security started to search for us. We stayed in Vancouver too long. They got to Freya.

INTERVIEWER: I’d ask you how what happened after that but it would be a major spoiler so instead can you tell me what was the hardest thing you’ve ever had to deal with?

GARREN LOWE: There are so many. What happened to Seneval (you’ll read about that), never being able to see either of my mothers again, the day Freya was taken and knowing that I might never see her again and that even if I did, she might be a vegetable. But the most painful thing was seeing what the Toxo virus did to my sister, Kinnari. She became a monster, and for a long time I believed I could’ve prevented that if I’d only been with her in Chicago when the virus started spreading. I’ve begun to forgive myself for that because so much has happened since and I can’t live in the past or the future. I need to make the most of my life and live in the moment. She would want that for me too, I know.

INTERVIEWER: After all you’ve been through, is there anything that still scares you?

GARREN LOWE: The same things as always – losing my freedom, losing my mind to a memory wipe and losing Freya. But you can’t live in fear. You always have to have hope.

INTERVIEWER: Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers?

GARREN LOWE: Just the obvious message about taking care of the planet. And if you’re in a tough spot you think you can’t get out of, don’t give up. I don’t know who said it’s not over till it’s over, but that’s the truth.



Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00021]

Synopsis via Goodreads:

The sci-fi adventure that began with Yesterday continues with a thriller that can also be read as a standalone.

2063, United North America: climate change has rendered great swathes of the country uninhabitable, the rise of robot workers has created mass unemployment, eco-terrorism is a constant threat and a 2059 nuclear exchange between Pakistan and India has torn large holes in the world’s ozone layer and pushed humanity’s existence towards a cliff.

Garren and Freya have managed to escape that nightmare world and lose themselves in 1986 Vancouver. But the future’s reach is long, and they’re no longer safe there. No one is. Shadowy forces are intent on influencing the past’s path. And when Freya is taken, it’s up to Garren to save both her, and the future.


“I’m not gifted like Freya. I never saw what was coming back then and if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t remember my past now either.” —Garren Lowe, Tomorrow


About the Author


C.K. Kelly Martin always thought she’d get around to writing in earnest eventually and began writing her first novel in a flat in Dublin, finishing it in a Toronto suburb. By then she’d discovered that young adult fiction felt the freshest and most exciting to her. You have most of your life to be an adult but you only grow up once!

Martin currently resides near Toronto with her Dub husband. She became an Irish citizen in 2001 and continues to visit Dublin often (although not as often as she’d like!) while working on teen novels. |

Home World, by Bonnie Milani – Review and Excerpt


Sci-Fi – Romance
Date Published: 9/15/2013

Amid the ruins of a post-apocalyptic Waikiki, Jezekiah Van Buren thinks he’s found a way to restore Earth – Home World to the other worlds of the human Commonwealth – to her lost glory.

Ingenious even by the standards of the genetically enhanced Great Family Van Buren, Jezekiah has achieved the impossible: he has arranged a treaty that will convert Earth’s ancient enemies, the Lupans, to her most powerful allies. Not only will the treaty terms make Earth rich again, it will let him escape the Ring that condemns him to be Earth’s next ruler. Best of all, the treaty leaves him free to marry Keiko Yakamoto, the Samuari-trained woman he loves. Everything’s set. All Jezekiah has to do is convince his xenophobic sister to accept the Lupan’s alpha warlord in marriage. Before, that is, the assassin she’s put on his tail succeeds in killing him. Or the interstellar crime ring called Ho Tong succeed in raising another rebellion. Or before his ruling relatives on competing worlds manage to execute him for treason.

But Jezekiah was bred for politics and trained to rule. He’s got it all under control. Until his Lupan warlord-partner reaches Earth. And suddenly these two most powerful men find themselves in love with the same woman. A woman who just may be the most deadly assassin of them all.


I’m going to be honest here. When I picked up Home World, I didn’t have high hopes for the book. The premise sounded interesting enough, but I’m a cranky old lady when it comes to science fiction. I want the worlds to be fully fleshed out and the characters to pull me in. I feared that Home World was going to be another we-screwed-up-the-world dystopian fiction with cardboard characters going through the motions to prove how crappy humans really are.

Wow, was I ever wrong.

Home World rocks.

By the end of the first few pages, I was totally hooked. Milani’s characters are real people, driven by real (and sometimes conflicting) desires in a lush world – and surrounding universe – that I fully believed. Jezekiah Van Buren’s backstory is skillfully woven into the text and rings true. His family members (oh! his family members!) are fascinating in their own right; they’re not just foils for Jezekiah. Even the things about the protagonist that I didn’t like seemed realistic—for example, his pleasure at thinking that Keiko is a virgin early in the novel exasperated me, but it wasn’t implausible.

I found myself wrapped up in an enthralling, steamy story of political and personal intrigue that kept me guessing from one moment to the next. I’m not going to give away any more of the novel; you need to find out for yourself.

I don’t often give out five-star reviews—my many years of teaching writing to college students have left me with a clear sense of the fact that writing can almost always be improved with a tweak here, a shift there. That’s why I always include a score in my reviews; I think a 6/10 conveys something very different from a 3-star review. But Home World is definitely an A-level book. If you like science fiction, you’ll like this book.

Seriously, y’all.

Read it.

Score: 9.5/10

5 stars



The Protector’s shuttle dropped into atmosphere above the North American mainland. It raced its sonic boom west across the steel blue waters of the Pacific until the green ridges of the Hawaiian Islands rose from the horizon like broken dragon teeth. Within the quiet luxury of the Protector’s private cabin, Jezekiah Van Buren leaned forward for a better view. Even this far out, he recognized the misty outlines of Maui and Kauai to the north of the island chain. To the south, he made out the Big Island, Hawaii itself. And Oahu, dead ahead, its outline etched in his heart.

Home. After three years of living the myth out on the galactic rim, he’d almost convinced himself that Home World was all a fantasy. Now, the beauty of the reality surprised him. Though not half as much, as the thrill he felt just in being here. The shuttle banked north, following the island chain to the space port up on Niihau. Jezekiah twisted in his seat to keep Oahu in sight as long as possible. Foolish to welcome the sight of home. There was nothing for him on Earth: no hope, no freedom – just Mother’s duty and Letticia’s hatred. He did not want to be here. Yet his body felt the islands’ call and his soul sang with joy. Sensors woven into the fabric of the seat picked up the telltale changes in his body’s chem signals that betrayed his eagerness and fed them to ShipMind. The shuttle upped screen magnification instantly. Squinting, he glimpsed the sunlit sparkle on Pearl Harbor before it vanished behind the gray-green coast.

“You sure your sister ain’t going to knife me, Milord?” The worried voice of the pretty boy wearing Jezekiah’s clothes broke his reverie.

Milord. The very title sounded like a death knell. He’d managed to forget, these past couple of years, that he was condemned to be the future Lord High Protector of Earth. Jezekiah rose, put on a smile to disguise the loathing in the thought, and scrounged memory for the boy’s name. He came up blank. “Quite. Unless you open your mouth and let her hear that accent.” Simple cosmetics let the crewman – ah, Roy, that was the name – fake the fiery red hair and impossibly blue eyes of the Great Family Van Buren, but the sweat sheening his skin was real fear. Admirable bravery, nonetheless, for a Sprite. SpriteType was gene coded for beauty, not courage. He pulled Roy’s collar straighter, smoothed the silken drape of his double’s blouse to show the flame-orchid crest emblazoned on it to better effect. No point telling the boy now that little sister Letticia was not really the reason they were trading places. “Just do the smile and nod. That’s all anybody’s expecting.”

Which was as well, since their disguises consisted of nothing more than hair dye and contact lenses. He could have had the ship’s surgeon do a thorough job, of course, But that would have made the switch official. Made it part of the ship’s records, got it posted to NetMind. Odds were too great Letticia would be monitoring ship’s records, looking for any hint he was planning something exotic. He had no desire to gift dear little Letticia a heads up on this switch. He was too eager to reach the Manor alive.

Jezekiah circled his stand-in, checking for any glaring flaws. The resemblance wouldn’t pass more than a casual glance: the boy was a bit younger than his own twenty-three years, a bit narrower in the shoulders. Still, the lad bore himself well, and had a SpriteType’s instinctive flair. He swept his jittering doppelganger a formal salaam. “You are perfection personified, Milord.”

“Yuh-huh. Scuttlebutt’s putting odds on blood, it is. ‘T’ain’t bettin’ in my favor, neither, they ain’t.”

“The bet’s on my blood, not yours.”

“Yuh-huh. Less’n your sister gets eager.” Roy’s eyes searched his, seeking reassurance. “So why’s she want to kill you anyway?”

It was a better question than the boy should be asking. The engineered characteristics that went into the SpriteType gene pack were designed to produce happy-go-lucky personalities in exquisitely beautiful bodies, not deep thinkers. But Type coding only guaranteed looks and talents, not luck. A Sprite who’d been forced to live by his wits the way this one had learned to think about things like surviving the night. He knew how that felt. Rather too well, in fact. But those were not memories he could afford at the moment. Or ever, if he had a choice.

“Wish I knew,” was all he said. It was the simple, wholehearted truth. Letticia didn’t want the Ring. Never had. Nor was she supposed to know anything about her part in the treaty he had worked out. Of course, with Letticia ‘wasn’t supposed to’ didn’t mean much. He pretended his sudden shudder was due to the cool air. Still, Kip Marsden would have alerted him had Letticia pried into his node too far; even Lush – no, better learn to think of his baby sister as Letticia – had never outwitted Kip. Yet. So Letticia shouldn’t have any reason to want to kill him. Yet she had most certainly spent a goodly part of the past few months trying. That was one of the main reasons he was coming home in such a hurry – he wanted this treaty ratified before that damned assassin of hers got lucky. The other reason was on Den Lupus, preparing his alternatives. If this treaty failed, Strongarm would take the Van Buren Commonwealth down with it.

He couldn’t afford to worry that possibility right now. Jezekiah straightened the Sprite’s shoulders, tugged the trousers to a sharper crease. “Doesn’t matter for you, in any case. You will be under the protection of the Protector’s own Sec chief. No one is going to risk attacking you.” He hoped.

He stood back, considered the effect. Not bad at all, for a joy toy who’d been gracing a petty officer’s bed this morning. It would do for distance work, and Kip Marsden would make sure the KnowNet cams kept their distance. Past that – Mother was clued. And on Earth that was all that mattered.

Which bent the odds of making it to the Manor alive in his favor. Assuming, of course, that Letticia hadn’t got clever while he’d been gone. Assuming that she hadn’t clued her assassin to anticipate precisely such a diversion. He forced the odds on that out of mind. Still, if the last few attempts were any indication, her hired killer would get quite close enough to recognize the substitution. Ideally, just not in time to find Jezekiah in the crew line.

Jezekiah dropped back onto the shuttle’s seat. The tendril of ShipMind woven into the soft leather read his measure, molded the cushions to him. He’d lost the habit of luxury these past two years; now, he allowed himself a moment simply to luxuriate in its enveloping comfort. He’d lost his edge in the Family games, too, though. That was the real worry. The little voice at the back of his mind recognized the bitter tinge in the thought. He hadn’t lost his edge, it murmured. He’d blunted it, deliberately and with enthusiasm. The thought of what Mother would say if he were fool enough to share that particular truth made him grin.

“’T’ain’t funny from my end, it ain’t.” Roy jammed hands on hips and scowled. “I still got time to back out of this, I do.”

Not really, Jezekiah thought, but there was no point in telling the boy so. Maybe he should drug the poor sot after all. Would not do at all if the fellow ran screaming for shelter when he met Letticia’s hatred at face range. He decided against it. Mother was clued; terror and Kip Marsden would handle the rest.

“Sorry.” He put his working smile on, watched the lad relax at its false re-assurance. “I was just thinking what a lucky sot you are. You will be my personal guest, remember. You get to sleep VIP, eat VIP, even screw VIP if you want. It struck me funny that you should worry.”

There, that put the dreamy look back in the lad’s eyes. He really was a lucky sot; his dreams were simple. Jezekiah felt a sudden pulse in the energy field encircling his Ring finger and tamped the jealousy down. He’d need to find gloves. Thick ones: the energy field that was the Heir’s Ring lit its yellow diamond shell from within. The result wrapped a cold, golden star around his finger. In a crewman’s line, it would stand out like a system buoy. Or an assassin’s beacon, in this case.

So, then. One more item on the to-do list. For these last few minutes, though, he was still free. If he played his hand right, he’d be back off Earth in a week. Without the Ring this time. Without the threat of the Protectorship hanging over his head. Free, once and for all and forever.

He upped the screens’ magnification again, shifted focus to Oahu. The tiny colored flecks he’d seen before bloomed into sails where windsurfers rode the breakers. Beyond them, Diamond Head’s blunt cone loomed over the curve of white sand that was Waikiki. The familiar blackened skeletons of ancient towers broke the jungle along the shoreline, a long, dark thread binding the Manor to his Family’s history.

“Scrat me,” said an awestruck whisper at his shoulder. “Those Home World stories really are true, they are.” Roy had peered out with him, sham dignity forgotten. “Always thought the legends were sawyered, I did.” The boy’s lips and eyes formed matching o’s of wonder. Decidedly not an acceptable Van Buren expression.

“Some of them are. But not Hawaii. There’s no need to lie about Hawaii.” Which tidbit was itself a lie. Still… no point ruining the lad’s fantasy. He’d make a fine bit of free PR once he was back out on the rim. And Makers knew – he corrected the Lupan expression – God knew ‘free’ was all Earth could afford these days.

The shuttle banked lightly, angling toward the great public port on tiny Niihau. Docking at three minutes, Milord, ShipMind announced. After two years holding his own on the rim, the title jarred. The reception party is assembled.

The muscles between his own shoulder blades tightened with the words. Jezekiah rose, shook his crewman’s coverall loose. He touched knuckles to forehead, crewman style, pinched color into the lad’s cheek. “Smile. You’re on.”

He felt the old, cold calculations settle in behind his eyes. His pulse steadied, the old half-smile formed of itself. So, then. He was home.

* * *

Earlier Van Buren Protectors had carved Earth’s deep space port out of Niihau’s broken volcano. Port facilities were carved into the inside curve of the mountain itself, creating a stone pueblo that overlooked the magnificent bay. Shambling along in the sweating crew line, Jezekiah risked a casual check back at the shuttle. Mother’s personal ship nestled on the Protector’s private landing pad, sleek and slim as a baroque pearl against the sapphire sea. Beyond it, a TransitLine cruise ship was freshly docked at the tip of the curve. The line of disembarking tourists snagged where it snaked behind the glittering dignitaries swarming Mother’s dock. Fathers from the full dozen worlds of the Van Buren Commonwealth worlds lifted children onto their shoulders to catch a live-eye glimpse of a Van Buren prince. The children, less concerned with princes than pleasure, squealed in delight and played catch-as-catch-can with the KnowNet cams whisking past.

Nice touch, that cruise ship. Gave him a flood of tourists to blend into. Had to be Mother’s work: it would take Van Buren level clearance to permit a hoi polloi liner to dock while one of the Family was on the field. Odd though, for Mother – she hadn’t allowed the rank and file within weapon range since the Tong rebellion.

“Aw, damn me, they lied, they did!” The woman ahead of Jezekiah wobbled to a stop. She had the massive build and albino complexion of the deep space mining clans. Explanation enough for her troubles. In a pinch, a ship-bred miner could survive a good fifteen minutes in full vacuum. In weather they were defenseless. Already her skin was reddening in the Hawaiian sun.

And yet… there was wonder in her eyes. Glancing down the queue Jezekiah saw that wonder reflected in a hundred faces. He’d seen it in a thousand tourist vids, some of them his own propaganda. The difference was that this time he felt it himself. This time he, too, felt every cell in his body thrill to the feel of Earth. He felt the pull, the sense that this place was right, that this was where he belonged. Genetic manipulation had adapted humanity to survive the physical demands of other worlds. But even the most radically engineered Types, even polymorphic LupanType, were still fundamentally human. Earth was home world, and every cell in every body on that dock knew it.

The wonder still shone in the miner’s eyes when her knees gave out. She dropped straight, nearly taking Jezekiah with her.

“Where you popper?” Jezekiah asked, using crew pidgin. Clansmen normally packed small, pop-up umbrellas to protect their skins from planetside suns. The umbrellas also prevented ship bred miners from attacks of psychotic agoraphobia at the sight of open sky, but no one with a sense of self-preservation reminded them of that.

“No thought t’need it. It’s Paradise they said.” She breathed deep, nearly choked on air wet and heavy with the scents of ocean salt and metal tang. “It’s lie, they did.”

“No lie. Just summer.” Jezekiah looked up as an airborne Sec cam buzzed the line. It slowed as it reached him, and he felt his skin tingle as it ran bioscan check on him.

“No screens, either – scrat that thing!” The miner woman swung her duffle bag wide off her shoulder, making the Sec cam bounce in its wake.

“Good shot.” The cam zoomed off, apparently satisfied. Still, he’d been spotted, no question. So, then. He could expect to find Kip Marsden waiting for him the other side of customs. Which couldn’t be soon enough. Damn, it was hot out here. “Need hand?” he asked as the miner doubled over her duffle, wheezing.

“It’s no groundhog dainty can be carryin’ me.” Her words were stronger than her voice.
“Lender, only,” Jezekiah said. He offered her his free arm, bracing himself so the weight she put on it wouldn’t stagger him. Truth was, it felt good to simply be himself, do simple, honest work. Good to be able to speak from his heart, for himself. Likely the last time he’d dare such honesty, he thought, and his little voice chided him for the resentment.

Besides, he’d forgotten himself just how sticky hot Hawaii’s weather really was. The crew’s customs line snaked along the unshielded section of the dock, leaving the off-world hands to either exult or fry in the Hawaiian sun while they inched toward the bureaucrats manning the crew customs booths.

A hundred feet or so ahead a trio of towering pylons flanked Niihau Port’s customs terminal. Open scanner booths filled the space between the pylons’ stone bases. Tourist scans, those. Their section of the dock was weather shielded. Paying visitors were sheltered from the unpleasant inconvenience of real weather. Mother wasn’t about to disappoint the chow line. For once, Jezekiah caught himself resenting the fact.

“Damme, worse’n scrattin’ Streiker, it is.” The miner wheezed, leaned on him hard.

“T’ain’t, either.” Jezekiah drew breath to chuckle at the defensiveness in his tone, wound up choking on a gush of hot, wet air instead. “Chance, at least, on Home World.”

“Fuh. Maybe.” On Streiker, parents careless enough to birth a natural were sterilized. The baby itself was simply thrown out onto the blue Streikern ice.

She eyed him speculatively, sudden curious. “You Home World local, I bet. Maker, maybe, I bet.”

“Half true.” Alone of all the worlds of the Commonwealth, only Earth still produced true, genetically unmodified human beings. Only on Earth, on Home World, could one still find completely natural humans, those astonishingly unpredictable people untouched by genetic engineering whose looks and talents and traits were determined by luck rather than a pre-packaged Type code. Only Home World still housed Makers. Made for improbable FunNet romances on the rim and unenviable living conditions on Earth. Among the Lupans, Makers ranked one step below God Himself.

“Got hard body check coming, you do, yeah?” The miner’s voice called Jezekiah’s attention back to the line.

“Yeah.” Dark memories tried to well up. He shoved them down. Not in time.

The miner straightened, though the motion cost her, and laid a kindly hand on his shoulder. “Give for take – tell ‘em you miner clan, you want. Jump you in my own self, you want.” She managed a leer in compliment and gold-capped teeth flashed in the sun.

“Thanks, but can’t.” It was no mean offer. She might be nothing more than hired crew on Earth, but she had the rank to grant him status within her own clan. He pried her fingers from his shoulder enough to kiss their tips. “Got family waiting other side.” That half of said family was trying to kill him wasn’t her worry.

“Your call.” She wheezed in earnest. Bad sign; humidity out here would rot her lungs if she stayed unsheltered too long.

Craning to see past the curve of the line, Jezekiah ran his gaze past the dark uniforms of the crew and customs folk, looking for Kip Marsden’s broad figure. He caught the recurrent flash of reflected sunlight from the transit shuttle station at the terminal exit. But no sign of Kip Marsden. A flicker of fresh worry tickled his gut. That Sec cam had already registered his biopat. Plugged into NetMind as he was, Kip would have pinpointed his location on the instant. Ought to be a whole Sec team strolling the dock by now. So where was he?

Damn and damn again. He had a whole new problem, if Kip didn’t show. Crew customs might not be as comfortable as the tourists’, but its scanners were just as efficient. He almost wished for a moment he truly was an Earth-born natural. Then he could stride through bioscan with impunity – without a Type’s genetic ID code, the man-made interstellar brain that was NetMind could not ‘see’ him. As it was, even the most cursory scan would spot his biopat in a heartbeat. At which point bureaucratic hell would break lose. Which was precisely the kind of ruckus his would-be killer would be looking for.

Something pale near the booth’s pylon caught his eye. A man in a light suit, broad-brimmed hat pushed back on his white-blond hair, shouldered through the in-coming queue. He was tall enough to seem slender, but his lazy sneer made a burly deckhand change his mind about shoving back.

Aryans. Jezekiah let the miner’s weight bow him a bit lower. Trouble by definition. Ugly trouble if Mother had the Aryans looking for him instead of Kip Marsden. AryanType was hard-coded suspicious, and Mother’s interrogators were trained to indulge the trait. The Aryan ran his cold, blue gaze across the nearest crew folk without interest, then settled his back against a pylon, pulling his broad-brimmed hat low against the sun. Watching.

Interesting, his little voice murmured. The Aryan carried no scanner. Despite the heat Jezekiah shivered. The fellow looked vaguely familiar, though he couldn’t put a name to the face. Could only mean he was attached to the Manor staff. It also meant the fellow would know him. He’d certainly be easy enough to spot. Even an eyeball scrutiny would recognize him under the hair dye and contacts, if someone knew who to look for. The Aryan was obviously looking. Looking eyeball only, keeping it out of Net. Easy enough to vanish him, too, out of Net.

So, then. Little sister Letticia had learned to hedge her bets. Be easy enough to spin a tale for the Aryans, send them looking for an imposter. Might not even have needed a cover story. A simple order would suffice; Aryans would carry out any Van Buren order that didn’t directly threaten Mother. Letticia could have him picked off out here and cry ooops later. Quite a nice idea, actually, his little voice noted. Warranted remembering. Assuming, of course, he survived it.

For a moment, he considered simply pulling off his gloves. Let the Heir’s Ring proclaim his identity. That was the easy way out, the path of perks and privileges. The path he’d vowed to escape. He left the gloves on.

Beside him, the miner doubled over, gasping, her face a dangerous shade of red. Jezekiah wrapped her arm over his shoulder, half-dragged her to the shade of the port wall. Helped that the move put the crew queue between himself and the Aryan.

Jezekiah lowered her to a squat, eased her head down to her knees. No question that she needed a medic. Stretching, he spotted the medics’ Helping Hand sign just beyond the crew customs booth and nearly whooped with delight. The medics’ booth ran straight through the mountain wall to open out on the terminal passage. Once inside he could simply catch a tour car to the Manor.

He squeezed the miner’s shoulder gently. “Stay put. I’m going to send help.” Head down, he eased toward the customs booth, trailing a hand along the rock face like a spacer who’d yet to find his groundhog legs. Keeping the queue between himself and the Aryan, Jezekiah stumbled toward the ‘authorized staff’ door at the back of the customs booth.

“Good try, monk. Get back in line.” A customs agent blocked his way with a scrawny arm. The man’s features had the humorless set of a NumbersType whose parents were either too poor or too cheap to pay for anything more than the most basic gene pack.

“Need water,” Jezekiah croaked. Hot as it was he didn’t even have to fake it.

“Yeah, sure. You and every other monkey trying to dodge scan.” The agent moved to shove him back.

Jezekiah locked the agent’s hand on his shoulder. He leaned forward and put heart and soul into preliminary retching noises.

“Gobbing monkey! Get over there!” The agent dodged aside, shoved him hard and fast toward the Helping Hand counter. “Just make sure you check yourself through here afterward!”

Hand clamped over his mouth, Jezekiah waved a bleary assent.

It was already crowded inside the station, and raucous. Crew folk provided the crowd, jump suited men and women huddled arms-on-knees in the chairs lining the walls. The ruckus came from a group of bejeweled Pandari merchants whose retainers were demanding personal heaters at the top of their collective and impressive lungs.

The humans who had settled Pandar world had been gene-coded to survive the mummifying aridity and UV radiation of Pandar’s blue-white sun. Even within the protection of the terminal’s weather screens, this lot needed breathing filters to survive Hawaii’s humid air. They huddled together in a brilliant clump, embroidered collars pulled up around their ears, nictating membranes flickering in distress across their eyes. The metallic threads on their robes raised rainbow reflections on their blue-black skin that matched the enameled patterns of their breathing filters.

A harried medic shoved a teardrop container of water into Jezekiah’s hand in passing, and Jezekiah let himself sag against the wall, cradling its moist coolness against his face. The coolness revived the cold little voice at the back of his mind, reminded him he needed to get out of here.

After he kept his promise. He was past the Aryan’s line of sight here. Already ID’d, too: every doorway in every public building had bioscanners built into it. The medical staff might be too busy to monitor scan, but SecNet would have fed his reading straight into Kip Marsden’s link. Even if not – he could slip his hand into any sync link in the terminal, and the resources of the planet were his. He didn’t need to run any more. At least, not yet.

Jezekiah worked his way over to an open bin of water teardrops behind the staff counter near the terminal side door. He filched an armload of teardrops from the bin, eyeballed the terminal passage for his escape route while he shoved them into a Helping Hand carryall. Fifty feet beyond the station, the terminal arched open onto a fern studded stone plaza. Through the exit arch, he could see the sunlit flash of departing transit cars. He hoisted the carryall higher on his shoulder. All he needed now was to collar a medic and he’d be on one of those cars.

Odd, though. Still no sign of Kip. He ran a quick scan down the terminal passage as he turned back toward the dockside of the station. No Kip – but he glimpsed a different figure lounging against a comm kiosk, watching the other tourists trudge past with professional indifference. He’d half-seen that figure on half a dozen worlds between here and Den Lupus, felt that presence in his gut.

So, then. So much for keeping his word. No hope of keeping his promise now, nor time to mourn the loss. He closed his eyes against the upswell of shame. No choice, his little voice urged. He needed to be out of here before the assassin spotted him. Dead, he was no good to anyone.

Jezekiah bumped into one of the Pandari retainers. He used a bowed apology to put the woman’s voluminous robes between himself and the assassin’s line of sight. Realized with a shock of relief that the jeweled pattern of her robes marked her as a medic. Stifling a grin, he shocked her to silence with a hand clamped around her shoulders. He had her steered half-way to the dockside door before her nictating membranes stopped flickering enough for her to actually take note of him.

“No questions.” Jezekiah used his formal voice, tone calculated to demand obedience. “A Van Buren operative needs your aid. You’ll find her squatting against the wall by the crew line. Treat her well.” Jezekiah shoved the carryall of water into the medic’s hands. He clasped the retainer’s shoulder, added a meaningful smile. “The Protector will reward you. Now go.”

Eyes still flickering, the medic swung the carryall over her bejeweled shoulder and strode outside.

So, then. He’d kept the dirt out of his soul a few minutes longer. Elbowing his way back to the water bin, Jezekiah filled another carryall. He swung it over his shoulder and strode out of the Helping Hand booth’s terminal door and into the trudging mass of tourists. With luck, the assassin would take him for one of the station hands assigned to keep newcomers lubricated until their transportation arrived.

Only his luck didn’t hold. He made the mistake of looking back just before he reached the exit. Down the corridor, the assassin looked up, looked his way. And smiled a feline, predatory smile.

Damn! Jezekiah’s mouth went dry. Only chance now was to reach the next transit car before the assassin got within range. There were a couple of still-empty cars at the stop. Around him, the crowd of tourists slowed as they hit the hot, humid wall of Hawaiian air. He shifted the carryall higher on his shoulder and picked up his pace. If he beat the tourists, he could commandeer the car before the assassin caught up.

Something hard hit him hard in the chest. Jezekiah slammed the carryall around into it, his pulse jumping.

“Hei, you!” A short young woman in a red sarong glared up at him from beneath a skewed plumeria wreath. She took in his crewman’s coverall and changed the glare to a smile of patently false welcome.

Joy toys, he thought. “Sorry,” he muttered, and moved to skip past.

“You wan’ gul? Show you good time, eh?” She was barely shoulder height on him, but she shifted with him to block his path.


Her smile widened, though not enough to touch her eyes. Clearly this was a girl who did not enjoy her work. Odd, then, that her stable master hadn’t used Seed on her – but no, not odd, not on Earth. Grandfather Ho didn’t distribute Venus Seed on Earth. Mother’d seen to that. He brushed past her and kept walking.

“Eh, wha’ kine spacer no wan’ gul?” She back tracked with him. “You stay come. Give good time, eh?” She was a tasty little piece, some primal section of his mind noted. Buxom but willow-hipped and lithe. With clear brown skin that bespoke fresh air and sunshine rather than a Seed sot’s haggard, driven lust.

“No money.” He said it sharper this time, and louder. He put his free hand out, palm up in peace sign, and brushed past her again. Behind him, he could hear a flock of tourists gaining ground, aiming for the nearest transit car.

“No hu-hu. You pay later.” She skipped ahead to block him again, giving him a view down her cleavage that tickled his groin.

Damned determined little piece. Or desperate. He refused to let himself consider the kind of penalty she must face for failure. “Later.” He didn’t need to fake the desperation in his own voice. He lengthened his stride to jogging pace.

The joy toy jogged backward with him. She wasn’t even sweating, he noticed with envy. “Heia, you don’ like gul?” Her gaze took on a narrow-eyed assessment – tinged, he noted, with relief. “You wan’ boy, eh? You come. Got lots pretty boy.”


She skipped into his path, nearly tripping him. Sidelong, he saw her throw a glance past his shoulder. He followed her line of sight to a trio of groundskeepers with the boulder builds of Samoans. Even in this sun, only one of them – an ambulatory mountain with a gleaming, black mole at corner of his jaw – wore a broad rimmed straw hat. They were watching the exchange with interest. And ambling closer.

Damn and damn again! The exchange had cost him precious moments. The tourists flocked past to engulf the transit car. Jezekiah swore softly. The only other empty car sat at the end of the plaza, far enough off to discourage most travelers. He shifted the carryall to the other shoulder, forcing the girl to skip out of its way.

Behind him the Samoans had spread out across the path. Their broad figures blocked his view of the terminal. Which was as well, since they also blocked the assassin’s sight of him. He’d have been relieved, had mole face not been grinning so broadly. The sight stirred memories that he refused to awake.

It took him two steps before the realization struck home. He glanced back again, mouth suddenly dry. Not a mole on that Samoan. It was a tracker stud, one of a pair that would be embedded in temple and jaw. The mark of a Registered killer. That explained the hat.

So, then. He was being herded.

He lengthened his stride abruptly. Swearing, the joy toy grabbed his arm. No invite this time. Her grip was hard as a man’s. Whirling, Jezekiah swung the carryall hard at the girl’s head.

She dodged, stepped in under it to jab her fingers into Jezekiah’s wrist. His arm went numb. She yanked the sack out of his hand, smacked the carryall into his midriff hard enough to double him around it. He heard the water slosh near his ears. Then her knee caught him between the eyes and the world went black.

About the Author


Bonnie Milani

Bonnie has taken what might be called the sandwich approach to writing. She started writing early, winning state-wide writing contests in grammar school, publishing an environmental fairy tale under the aegis of the NJ Board of Education in college. After earning her M.A. in Communication at Stanford, Bonnie freelanced feature articles for East Coast newspapers and regional magazines, from Mankind and Peninsula to Science Digest as well as how to articles for the late & much lamented fanzine Speculations. She stopped writing completely after marriage while building a pair of businesses with her husband. It was only with the successive deaths of each member of her family that she reclaimed her love of story-telling. Home World is the result.

Today, Bonnie lives with her husband of thirty-six years in Los Angeles. She is still a full-time benefits broker, specializing in employee benefits for entrepreneurs and micro-businesses.


Spotlight On: John Smith – Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars, by Roland Hughes

John Smith -Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars
by Roland Hughes

John Smith Last Known cover

Dystopian – SyFy


What if the Mayans got the start of the end correct because they had survived it once before? What if our written history was just as accurate as the old tale about three blind men describing an elephant? What if classic science fiction writing and television shows each got a piece of it correct, would you know which ones? If your eyes can only see a tiny portion of a collage do you know it is a collage?

Fans of Babylon 5, Star Trek TNG, Battle Star Galactica (the new one) and classic science fiction writing will enjoy the bountiful Easter Egg hunt contained within. When you were a child you learned to connect paper clips or thread beads together to make a necklace. Sit back and watch the beads you’ve had all your life form the picture you could not see. Consider for one second the possibility of the story, then hang onto your mind with both hands while you take the ride.

Roland Hughes’ Author Bio:
Roland Hughes is the president of Logikal Solutions, a business applications consulting firm specializing in VMS platforms. Hughes serves as a lead consultant with over two decades of experience using computers and operating systems originally created by Digital Equipment Corporation (now owned by Hewlett-Packard).

With a degree in Computer Information Systems, the author’s experience is focused on OpenVMS systems across a variety of diverse industries including heavy equipment manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, stock exchanges, tax accounting, and hardware value-added resellers, to name a few. Working throughout these industries has strengthened the author’s unique skill set and given him a broad perspective on the role and value of OpenVMS in industry.

To read Roland’s non-fiction books, please visit

To read Roland’s blog, please visit