J. Scott Coatsworth has a new queer sci fi book out, Liminal Sky: Oberon Cycle Book 1: “Skythane.”
Jameson Havercamp, a psych from a conservative religious colony, has come to Oberon—unique among the Common Worlds—in search of a rare substance called pith. He’s guided through the wilds on his quest by Xander Kinnson, a handsome, cocky skythane with a troubled past.
Neither knows that Oberon is facing imminent destruction. Even as the world starts to fall apart around them, they have no idea what’s coming—or the bond that will develop between them as they race to avert a cataclysm.
Together, they will journey to uncover the secrets of this strange and singular world, even as it takes them beyond the bounds of reality itself to discover what truly binds them.
Scott is giving away your choice of a $25 Amazon Gift Certificate or a signed first edition of the Liminal Sky: Ariadne Cycle Trilogy (USA only). Enter via Rafflecopter:
Unique Excerpt – Skythane
Around Jameson, the character of Oberon City shifted. The prefab structures had ended as suddenly as a crash, and instead the street they followed, if one could even call it that, was surrounded and covered over with all manner of building materials, from corrugated metal panels to old rusted cargo containers. They passed under the conglomeration, and Jameson looked up in wonder.
A faded advertisement for something called Mugjuice graced the side of one of the more permanent structures. Some of them looked like old warehouses, while others were too ramshackle to even be called buildings—and pipes and wires stuck out here and there at odd angles.
The stench grew worse, if that were possible—thousands of people lived down here with no real plumbing or sanitation. As he looked around, he realized he was being watched. Eyes peered out and down at him from up among the conglomeration of debris above.
Trash heaps were piled up on either side of the street like fetid banks of snow, in some places nearly twice Jameson’s height. Something rustled under one of them, and he looked quickly away.
The odors, which had been intermittent in the normal city streets, were pervasive in the Slander, and he put his forearm up against his face to ward off the worst of the smell.
He cast a nervous glance backward at the disappearing light behind them. It felt like the descent into hell his mother had been so fond of warning him about. Indeed, the heat was becoming oppressive; sweat dripped off his brow, and he tried to wipe it off, mostly unsuccessfully, with his sleeve.
He decided that he hated cities.
The street was empty of traffic except for the three of them. “Do you know where we’re going? This whole thing seems a bit irregular.”
Xander laughed harshly. “Not exactly. Ask her.”
“Who is she?” He glanced at Quince, riding ahead of them, her white wings tucked in behind her. Like a rock and roll angel.
“An old friend.”
Jameson was getting tired of being spoken to in such vague terms. He wasn’t used to being treated this way. Did this guy even work for OberCorp? He felt odd in these absurdly casual clothes. “Oh, come on. I’m an official representative of the Psych Guild. You shouldn’t be keeping me in the dark like this….”
Xander turned to glare at him over his shoulder, and Jameson shut up. None of this was going as he’d planned. Trapped as he was on the back of Xander’s cycle, though, he wasn’t in much of a position to do anything about it just yet.
Quince turned down yet another side alley, and Xander followed. Though Jameson was not a good judge of such things, this area looked even seedier than the part they’d just passed through. The buildings were mostly rusting, corrugated metal, and the walls sagged on both sides. In fact, few stood at anything like a right angle to the ground.
Oily liquid pooled here and there, covered over with some kind of algae that was a dark purple and vivid orange.
They threaded their way through the narrow space around stacked piles of debris. When he looked up, he saw Oberon’s green-tinted sky above, just visible between the buildings.
At last, Quince stopped, climbing off her bike and palming an unassuming door. It looked new—strangely out of place in this run-down district. It slid open, wide enough for her cycle to pass through, and she slipped inside with the bike, gesturing for Xander to follow her. They climbed off his cycle, and Xander pulled it inside after them.
As the door slid closed behind them, the room lit up, revealing a large, white space. Jameson felt Xander’s body stiffen. Following his gaze, he saw the group of men standing on the edge of the room, waiting for them.
The building was an old warehouse, but it had been cleaned up and modernized inside. Plas pallets were neatly stacked in one corner, and the building boasted a wide-open floor plan with new cement floors and a large roll-up door on the far end.
He returned his gaze to the four men. They were all sharply dressed. Like mafia guys in the Old Earth serials.
“What the hell is he doing here?” Xander hissed as his bike settled to the ground. He glared at the man across the room, his whole body tense.
“Relax, Xander.” Quince put a hand on his shoulder. “We need him.”
Xander spat. “I don’t like it.”
Quince gestured at him to stay put and strolled alone toward the group of men. “Gentlemen, thank you for meeting us here.”
The biggest of the men, a giant guy with red hair and a full bushy beard, stepped forward to shake Quince’s hand. “Your message said you had something of interest to us. I had no idea it was something so valuable.” His brown, close-set eyes looked directly at Xander. He looked hungry. “I’ve missed that one.”
Quince shook her head. “I’m sorry, Rogan, but he’s not on offer.” She ignored his muted growl. “I’ve got something even better for you.”
Rogan’s eyebrow arched. “It would have to be much more valuable to make up for such a loss.” His gaze remained fixed on Xander, who squirmed.
Jameson wondered what exactly this man had done to Xander to make the self-confident ass act so squirrelly.
Quince glanced back at them and grinned. “Yes, he is quite a catch,” she acknowledged. “But what if I could get you back in on the pith trade instead?”
Rogan’s attention snapped back to her. “Don’t play games with me,” he growled. “Pith is dead. No one’s run any in the last three months.”
His men shifted as one, reaching for what Jameson assumed were weapons. “Oh crap,” he whispered and looked around wildly. There was nowhere to run.
“Correction.” Quince put her hands on her hips, looking as confident as Jameson didn’t feel. “It was dead. Things are going to change soon, and someone’s going to make a helluva lot of money when they do.”
Xander was looking at Quince as if he’d never seen her before.
Rogan registered a flicker of interest. His men put their hands back in their pockets. “Why should I believe you?”
“Because I brought this for you.” Very slowly, she reached into her own pocket and pulled out a small plastic box about a hand’s width wide. She placed her palm on the surface, and the device hummed and split open. She took out a sealed vial filled with an inky black liquid and handed it to Rogan.
He took it reverently, looking down at it, his mouth dropping open.
“What is it?” Jameson whispered. It was small, dwarfed by the size of Rogan’s hand.
“About a quarter million crits’ worth of pith.” Xander whistled softly, staring at Quince. “Who are you?” he asked, low enough that only Jameson could hear him.
“That’s yours, with plenty more to come,” Quince said. “But only if the three of us walk out of here alive, with anonymous transportation out of the city.”
Rogan stared down at the pith for a moment more, seeming transfixed. Then he looked up, nodding slowly. “Whatever you need.” He didn’t even look at Xander. He turned to one of his men, a short gentleman who looked more like a majordomo than a common thug. “Dawson, make sure this woman gets everything she asks for.” He nodded at Quince.
“Your assistance is much appreciated.” She flashed him an insolent grin.
Rogan held up his meaty fist in her face. “I warn you. Fuck with me and I’ll string you all up and bleed you dry. Even that one.” He pointed at Xander, who paled. Then Rogan turned and beckoned for the rest of his men to follow him out the door.
I like to read a little bit of everything, mix it up a bit, so to speak, historical, contemporary, even the occasional BDSM or MF book. However, Sci-Fi and fantasy are perhaps the ones I read the least, mostly because I can be a tad particular with them since it takes real talent to build worlds like you need to do in this genre.
Scott Coatsworth did a fantastic job with that in this novel! He created a world that felt relatable and added just enough detail and description to make me feel as if I could see it all in my head. It’s so easy to go over the top with that, but he kept it simple and because of that, it worked better for me. Not only that, but the plot was so interesting and action-packed, with very likable, lovable even, main characters that I was definitely rooting for, and I’m not just talking about Xander and Jameson, but Quince, Morgan and even Robyn, as well.
The writing was stellar, the pacing was a bit slow at first, but picked up in the second part of the book and I loved the progression of Xander and Jameson’s relationship. The chemistry between them was undeniable, even if there was no sex on page, and I couldn’t even be bummed about it because I was so engrossed in the story.
I’m very intrigued by what else Mr. Coatsworth has up on his sleeve in this ‘verse, seeing as the ending gives me hope that we’ll have more in the future.
*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure, a review wasn’t a requirement. ***
Scott lives with his husband Mark in a yellow bungalow in Sacramento. He was indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine. He devoured her library, but as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were.
He decided that if there weren’t queer characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.
A Rainbow Award winning author, he runs Queer Sci Fi, QueeRomance Ink, and Other Worlds Ink with Mark, sites that celebrate fiction reflecting queer reality, and is a full member member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).
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