(It’s only right to start this out with a big thanks to the fantastic narrators who’ve done most of the work in bringing this year’s batch of seventeen new audio books and counting to Audible. So a big time THANK YOU and job(s) brilliantly well done to Wayne Keller III, Bethany Seidel, Nathan Lujan, Natsumi Bailey, Josh Banks, Justin R. Gibson, Geoff Sturtevant, Tim Toddhurst, Maggie Karlin and Danny Dawes–I absolutely and quite literally could not have done all of this without you folks. Sure, the stories are mine, but I guarantee all those who have done neither that audio book recording is a lot more work than typing. Best to all, happy reading and listening and here’s a look at the new stuff, followed by the existing stuff because it may as well all be here in one place.)
Where it all began
First published, forty-second to make it to audio: Here at last is Kevin Candela’s first novel, the beginning of the Dragon’s Game Trilogy.
On far distant Gavelin, Leks and Quinara – scrappy human survivors of a demonic plague that has all but wiped out their civilization – race against time in a perilous journey to the perceived safety of the cradle of their society: the great coastal city of Amaline on the Sandarine Sea. Along the way they meet horrifying carnivorous mud monsters, sentient human-hunting thunderstorms and an outcast bio-alchemist with a warped sense of humor whose bizarre menagerie features a panther-like beast made of living metal. The alchemist, Yakano, not only finds their dilemma intriguing but adds one of his own: the stars of Gavelin’s night sky are blinking out one by one! Across the Milky Way a mind-blowing display of celestial fireworks lights up Earth’s skies. The meteor shower turns out to be as harmless as it is dazzling, depositing only one nearly invisible remnant over the course of an all-day bombardment. That remnant soon makes its presence known to Tor, a restless tween-ager with summer to kill and “totally weird new mushrooms” popping up in his backyard. The mushrooms attract other unique characters as well, including alien theorist/science fiction junky Roman Novato, itinerant gnome-stealer Chalice Rayne and a century old witch named Cinna whose ill-gotten supernatural talents are pushing her toward a terrifying meltdown. The fates of all are intertwined in ways not even Roman could imagine. Opening the Dragon’s Game Trilogy with a nonstop barrage of alternating terror, mirth and wild ideas, Mushroom Summer is a funhouse thrill ride that incorporates flying demons without faces, inexplicable chasms in open water, mysterious 500-year-old musicians, giant space mantis overlords and a space-roving sea of malevolent spirits called The Howling Wind into a rollicking ride to – and through – The Other Side.
Wayne is currently working on the audio book for the next book in the trilogy, The Ballad of Chalice Rayne
The weather has taken a very strange turn…
Rada Dunn’s solitary life on her bean farm changes in a staggering instant as a stranger is blasted off her front porch by a bolt of lightning from a clear blue sky. Think Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds with lightning instead of feathered assailants–set in the frontier days in a spot remote enough that the terrified citizens of the small town of Peace are pretty much on their own to deal with what seems to be doom from the sky.
R U Ready to Ride?
First in the Bob series, in this one driver Sam Gage is hearing an invisible airplane every time he’s around a seemingly ordinary stranded driver he picked up on the road.
In the second installment of the Bob saga, Zep “ZC” Carter is trying to get a couple of friends out of the limbo-like interdimensional Slip Zone via making some iffy deals with freaky beings at a moving carnival that’s hard to find and harder to describe. Audio on the way.
The second and third collections from the writer of A Year in the Borderlands.
With seventeen tales apiece, new extended excursions into the strange, terrifying and wondrous. As with Borderlands, the narratives run the spectrum…connected only by their depictions of things that most of us would call supernatural. Features previously unpublished stories along with those originally available only in anthologies.
Fourth in the trilogy by a guy with a math minor…
Twenty years later, Big K is still at it. But his gigantic flying mate Magenti hasn’t been seen for years, so Krakenstein’s “sidekick” is the stealth sub Moray 2, captained by none other than Shea Sanders–the tech rescued when Krakey was “born.” With a diabolical company called Evostar up to no good in the Aleutians, the former Max Shepperton is after them–so they recruit his vengeful brother and put him in charge of a shapeshifting cloud of nanobots. It’s Krakenstein vs. his brother Ult the Nanotitan in a battle for humanity’s future.
And here’s the fifth…with audio on the way.
By the way, these aren’t really the fourth and fifth books in a trilogy…that just sounds funny to say. Krakenstein Lives! and Krakenstein Meets The Space Monster are actually the first two installments in the sequel trilogy, series title Krakenstein: The Next Regeneration (with smiling apologies to Star Trek.) The third and final in this sequel trilogy, and the last Krakenstein novel planned, is Krakenstein Conquers The World (with smiling apologies to all the Frankenstein movie titles that have been affectionately parodied in this series, including that one.)
Note that just because that’s it for Krakey after Conquers doesn’t mean there will be no more giant monster stories. Of course it doesn’t mean there will either. The K saga is going to be complete at six tales. It’s a Tesla three, six and nine thing.
It Came from Beneath the Sea – to deal with us!
Something has risen from the depths, but in a fashion so small and subtle that it’s already passing among us before we even realize it. The intellect behind this infiltration is ancient and driven by a perspective almost impossible to conceive–freed at last from its imprisonment beneath the Atlantic Ocean floor, it is trying to figure out what we are…and if we’re going to be a problem for it. Which of course we are, because that’s what we do.
Before there were oceans, when all was fire…
The discovery of a giant egg in a collapsed limestone bluff by a kid with an iffy home life turns out to be much more than a bit of scientific melodrama when the egg proves to be a lot less fossilized than it looks. Soon enough the primeval creature spreads its wings and goes off looking for…well, someplace where there’s not a widespread dead-or-alive hunt on for it.
Strangers in Strange Lands – because it’s double feature time again!
Two stories of alien visitors in dire situations. In “H RRY BACK!” the visitor is alone in a hostile world–ours. In “Mercury Station” the imperiled aliens are humans…because the setting is a planet-encircling base on Mercury.
No Nemo or Nautilus, just a lot of scared people running from giant centipedes. By the way, centipedes are kinda scary. Think Tremors: The ‘Burbs (which they haven’t done yet.)
As Fire Dragon has been paying highly respectful tribute to the classic SF and fantasy movies of the ’50s and ’60s all along, it should come as no surprise that the genetically engineered “bug” attack would arrive sooner or later. With thrilling narration by Kaitlin Ciurleo, this tale of a farming community detective’s sleepy life being shocked into bizarre go mode by a horde of gigantic centipedes is one big modernized nod to movies from Them! to Tremors.
Confessions of a Scared Straight Cryptid Hunter
Nathan Lujan really captures the vibes of two distinctly different paranormal investigators as they recount their experiences actually encountering two all-time favorite cryptozoological entities–Bigfoot and a “sea serpent.” Both stories told in first person. Previous Fire Dragon “based on the legend” stories include “Imp” and “The Night Has a Thousand Wings.”
Call from Dr. Einstein–do you accept charges?
Beginning as part of Night Sky Presents, a literary-and-audio “wheel series” wherein four writers take turns presenting “episodes” of their own “Halloween-themed” sagas in an ongoing rotation manner (like the old TV show, the NBC Sunday Mystery Movie), this series will continue past those first three installments as the various threads of different tales weave together. That’s right, characters will recur…albeit not as anchors of future installments so much as their simply appearing because they’ve become part of the overall plot.
Ghost Phone is about average folks who get phone calls on phones that aren’t functioning–that old antique nailed to the pawn shop wall, that desktop phone from the 1970s that’s lying in the box in the attic, etc. The ghosts tell them to do things–and of course therein arise the various plots, which range from saving the world from a catastrophic physics experiment to stealing and even murder…because not all the ghosts are nice guys.
The second tale is a whole different story…
In the first story, “The Professor’s Gambit,” the focus is on a “good ghost” sending Time Weathers on a crazy quest to stop a potentially world-destroying experiment. But “Threadcutters” is nothing like that, because that’s the way it goes with the Ghost Phone calls. In the second tale, which plays not like a quest but as a crime-laden road trip involving far less likable central characters, think Fargo: In other words, that kind of dark comedy-flavored drama of misadventure. Again, the Ghost Phone tales will vary in tone…and even genre at times…across the whole “includes paranormal stuff” spectrum. To wit, check out the third one (with audio on the way.)
The third Ghost Phone series story, “Occam’s Shaving Kit,” is a throwback to those classic “gather people at a remote setting and challenge them” (or kill them, whatever) tales wherein the cast–strangers to one another, sharing the common trait of loving mysteries and puzzles–must solve a riddle and other clues in order to find a long lost treasure and thereby earn a piece of its value for themselves. Sounds old and cliched, huh? Yeah, kinda. But they all fell for it anyway…and are they ever in for a surprise; that is, assuming they live.
Be careful when you tell a little kid what’s real and what isn’t…
Because the human mind just may be beyond even its own understanding...
A Heist for All Audiences–Even Voles
A vole’s eye view of a tomato heist, with the heroic Erno, he of the famous thieving escapades, pitted against the brilliance and resourcefulness of the unseen and obviously quite villainous vegetable hoarder known as the Gardener. Fun for all ages, kind of a rarity in this catalog.
It is risen…
This is what happens when you love Godzilla and Gamera and happen to know better than to try to write about those beloved titans, instead creating a pantheon of your own in a trilogy filled with cool heroes, noble scientists, scheming billionaires and of course gigantic city-stomping monsters.
Sometimes it’s just flat-out about the fun…
Steve Martin was right: Comedy is not pretty.
In fact, sometimes you just wanna avert your eyes completely.
And this is about what happens when you’re so inspired by the absurdist comedy of the Marx Brothers, Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker-Proft, Trey Parker and Matt Stone and the movie Mystery Men that you decide to blow all your sf/fantasy/horror “respect points” and just put out an over the top superhero parody. Actually the humor was going to be in the Peter Sellers Clouseau mode until it became apparent that such sophisticated awkwardness just doesn’t fit this era. Believe it or not, these are mostly not crude narratives–there’s no point to blunt humor when you’ve got a flying naked guy as your premise.
The legends have returned…all in one place
A millennium in the making, three years in the telling…
And more on the way…
Krakenstein Conquers the World
Cosmic Thief: Kalyx of Marini
The Greed Bug
Little Women and Big Monsters
Six Kinds of Crazy (six story NON-sf/fantasy collection)
Bob the Interdimensional Trucker #3: Diabala’s Messenger
Everybody’s Revenge (Little Women with Even Bigger Guns)