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Book 3 of The Polaris Chronicles is out!

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Knives of The Ring is now available (ebook and paperback) on Amazon. Click here to order!

Kingslayer and battle-mage Taki Natalis now fights for the empire that conquered his homeland. It’s not a question of loyalty: it’s a choice between kill or be killed.

Battered by defeats on the Ursalan campaign, Taki and his squadmates must race against time to find a legendary, ancient fortress suspended in the heavens. But their nemesis, the Sanctissimus Rex, desires it too and will stop at nothing to harness the unimaginable power waiting within.

Mighty foes, unhinged commanders, and malevolent fortune stand in the way, but the lives of millions hang in the balance.

We had actually intended for The Polaris Chronicles to be a trilogy, but realized that to both take the story full-circle and also end the individual books at good stopping points, we’d need to go for four. Would our series be a tetralogy or quadrilogy? Anyone who knows the answer, let us know!

For the upcoming holiday season, we although thought it important to get our act together and make sure people could buy paperbacks if they wanted, so we started that even earlier and ended up that you could order a paperback before the electronic copy. Make sure to leave us reviews on Amazon and Goodreads if you like Knives!

So, when can you expect to see the concluding volume go on sale? All we can say is sometime in 2017, and then it’s time to start another series, beginning with Watcher.  Never fear, though. We plan on releasing another spinoff/continuation soon, this time about a certain redheaded, foul-mouthed fan of things that go bang.

A (sort of) walkthrough for Ladykiller in a Bind

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Christine Love’s Analogue: A Hate Story will always hold a special place in my heart, because it is possibly the only popular game out there about Koreans in space (besides the venerable Starcraft, of course). Yet, if you’ve ever played Analogue to the end, you’ll also know that it’s not exactly a lighthearted romp or something you play for casual fun: you must construct additional pylons, and they’re all made of sorrow.

I’d heard that Ladykiller in a Bind, the newest entry from Love Conquers All Games, was going to be a sharp departure from Analogue, but since I’d loved the previous entry so much, I knew I’d buy Ladykiller when it came out. I didn’t even need to try the demo when I met the developer at PaxEast a year ago—I’d already decided. And, as expected, the game is worth every penny. Thus, this won’t be a traditional review of the game, since there are already better-written ones on other sites. Rather, this is going to be a summary of my two (so far) playthroughs: one that I “lost” and one that I “won.” And for those of you who want to end up together with The Beauty (and keep her), I guess this would be one of the first walkthroughs out there.

For simplicity, all characters will be referred to by the first item on the default choices list, even though you can rename them to whatever you want.

My first playthrough:

I decided quickly on that I probably wasn’t going to win the in-game “Game” and its five million-dollar prize, and that for this run I’d attempt to to romance as many of the side characters as I could, while pursuing The Stalker as my night-time interest. I wasn’t really interested in seeing what happened if I racked up 5 suspicion points, although I may try for it on another playthrough just for completeness.

I clicked through the tutorial, met The Boss and the other major side characters, and was left with my first set of options for the afternoon of Day One. I clicked on the branch with the least difficulty: The Athlete and The Nerd with one star, and…promptly fell head over heels in love with The Nerd.

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Spoiler alert: I don’t think it’s possible to really romance her, since the furthest I got was a kiss that fizzled pretty quickly. But I think she might actually be the best-written character in the game. Not because of compelling drama or a tragic back-story or unexpected betrayal, but because she’s just so breathtakingly, amazingly real.

I pursued The Nerd’s route with a vengeance, didn’t steal her phone from her when she fell asleep on my shoulder, and ended the route with fewer votes than I’d started with. I also earned the extreme pleasure of seeing her smile and blush.

After the Nerd was through, I started The Boy. After he stole my phone and used it ala Anthony Weiner, I found myself pining for the option to chuck him off the side of the ship. Alas, this isn’t Hitman and murder wasn’t an option. For Ladykiller Unleashed I think The Beast should have a garroting wire and cyanide in the ol’ inventory. Please, Christine, if you’re reading this?

The Boy’s route done, I then clicked on The President. Spoiler alert: I declined to give him my votes, even in exchange for the motorcycle, which is probably why I got Epilogue B in the end. I’m going to have to go through and replay this route a few times, because I either terminated it prematurely somehow or ran out of game time, and it felt unfinished. I didn’t get the achievement, either, so there’s definitely more.

Throughout this playthrough, I’d spent my nights (save for one, when I racked up four suspicion bars on The Nerd’s route) with The Stalker. Unfortunately, the three guaranteed votes she gave me every night weren’t enough to make up for my poor performance in getting votes during the week. I lost the Game and lost The Stalker, but at least I got my bike back. The ploy at the end about 5 million bucks split 137 ways as hush money was pretty nifty.

My second playthrough:

This time, I was either going to win the Game, land more characters in the sack, or at least try to end the story together with my love interest. To change things up and experience the romance that other game reviewers were crowing about, I chose to spend my nights with The Beauty instead.

I went for The Photographer this time (since her route offered up to 14 votes at the outset). As a word of warning, I think that because I actively chose to help The Photographer in exchange for 4 votes, that might have locked me out of The Slut’s route. I’ll have to go back and experiment on playthrough number three. I took the gamble, gave my votes to her, and then endured the last scene with her to get 23 votes out of it. Not bad, save for getting violated.

At this point—because I’d locked The Slut out—my options were The Athlete, The Boy, and The President. I’d already gone through The Boy’s route (which hadn’t resulted in any sort of profit), and part of The President’s (which on the last playthrough might’ve actually incurred a loss), so I decided on The Athlete.

The Athlete’s route was surprisingly fun and relaxing to play. As is the case with The Nerd, you won’t do anything more than angrily kiss him (The Beast is about a 5.5 on the Kinsey Scale), but playing his scenes gave me a treasure trove of backstory on not only the side characters on the ship, but also The Beast’s fractured relationship with the rest of her family. Unfortunately, The Athlete resulted in no profit in terms of votes.

With only enough game time for two more scenes, I revisited The President’s route. Only this time, I went ahead and gave him all measly twenty-three votes I had in exchange for the motorcycle (this may rack up a suspicion point, by the way), figuring that again, I’d failed to win The Game, and once again, I’d leave his route incomplete.

Yet in the end, giving The President my votes in exchange for The Beast’s bike proved to be exactly the right thing to do. The move impressed The Prince so much that he offered to have The Beast become him (forever) in the eyes of the outside world, and thus gave me the leverage to convince the Beauty to dump her engagement with The President and stay with The Beast. I’ll consider this to be the “good” ending, and definitely better than epilogue B. Otherwise, I’m sure I’d have gotten a variant of epilogue B, save with The Beauty stuck in some unhappy arranged marriage.

So there you have it (Spoiler alert): Looks like the way to at least stick with The Beast’s love interest may be to make a deal with The President during his route. I had more than twenty votes at the time, though, and I’m curious as to whether the same outcome might be had with fewer.

My goals for the next playthrough are: 1) Unlock The Slut, 2) Complete The President, 3) Win The Game. Actually, that sounds like politics as usual in the good ol’ US of A. If you’re interested in playing it, LKIAB is for sale at the Humble Store:

And as a final treat, more Nerd:

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Prince of Maladies is out on Amazon! (yay for spinoffs!)

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Prince of Maladies is now available on Amazon!

The Imperium’s deadliest warriors are also its most despised, for they are descendants of demons. In his wisdom, the Padishah binds these tainted men and women to his service for the greater good.

Aslatiel and Lucatiel are poisoned by the same blood. When sibling rivalry plunges them into the depths of the prison school Sheol, only love will keep them alive til graduation.

Sometimes, a story’s antagonists end up getting just as much interest as the actual protagonists, as many of our readers have told us! Quite a few people wanted to know more about the mysterious and tormented sibling pair who gave Taki and his band of misfits all sorts of hell. So, just for you, we wrote this spinoff. Chronologically, it’s actually a prequel to Guns of the Temple, even though the work is listed as the third entry in the Polaris Chronicles.

Right now, Prince of Maladies will be offered solely in e-book format, but if there’s enough interest, we may be able to produce print copies in the future. But for that to  happen, we need to know, and you can let us know through your reviews on Amazon and Goodreads!

The sequel’s here!

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Tirefire the Lesser can’t seem to catch a break. Their country’s been taken over, Taki’s an honest-to-God kingslayer, no one’s changed their unit name, and the unit mascot’s still nowhere to be seen. So what else can possibly go wrong? Swords of the Imperium has the answers:

The Imperium continues its march over the remains of the Argead Dominion toward its next prize: Ursala, ruled by the Sanctissimus Rex and his thousand bloodthirsty daughters.

Taki and his squad, Tirefire the Lesser, must now fight alongside their former foes. But joining the Padishah’s army is riskier than facing the chopping block for a regicide like Taki.

On the warpath in a land of revenant knights and cannibal damsels, the squad faces its greatest challenges yet, and not everyone will make it out alive.

We’re happy to announce that Swords comes out on September 9th, 2016 on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited! And also because we got our act together more for this release, paperback copies will be available much, much sooner this time!

You don’t have to wait, though, if you’re on this page. Until September 8th, Erica and I are giving our free Advance Review Copies to those who sign up for our mailing list. All we ask in return is an honest review on Amazon/Goodreads when the book comes out!

Click here for your free advance copy of Swords of the Imperium.

And for those of you who can’t wait for yet another book of the Polaris Chronicles, wait ’til October. Lucatiel isn’t called the Prince of Maladies for nothing…

Bryan reads some space milfic and remembers the Alam- I mean, Enterprise

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…It’s like Star Trek: The Next Generation, minus the cringe.

Erica and I first came across Richard Tongue’s work while trying to find an artist for our own book’s cover. Impressed by what we saw, we ended up using the same artist. Erica isn’t a huge fan of space opera military fiction, but I remembered having a ton of fun reading Timothy Zahn and Dean Wesley Smith back in middle school, and so I decided to go ahead and give the Battlecruiser Alamo series a whirl, starting with The Price of Admiralty.

The plot and characters of this first series entry are already well-described by other reviewers, so I won’t spend a lot of time covering that. Suffice it to say, a lot of the well-loved tropes and plot twists that we expect from any good scifi milfic are present in droves, right down to the mandatory zero-gee spacewalk to recapture the bridge from the enemy. The characters are the ensemble of archetypes we all expect, from the sexy-veteran-ex-wingman-turned-tactics officer to the don’t-take-no-guff-sawbones-ship’s-surgeon. And of course, the ship itself starts out as a nonfunctional mess thanks to the ressentiment (not resentment, but rather the French word for “anger and jealousy”) of its previous crew and commander. Actually, that whole scenario made me think of the allegations that Bill Clinton’s staffers removed all the “W” keys from the White House computers (also causing $15,000 in other damages) before handing over the reins to Dubya back in 2004.

But none of this is bad: these are the things that we milfic fans love, desire, and outright expect their authors to produce. We want a scrappy crew of misfits making the best of a leaky rustbucket of a ship to overcome an impossible situation through pluck, irreverence, and lots and lots of bullets. Which harkens to the point I first brought up: this is like Star Trek TNG but without the cringe factor. Although I was a fan of the show (and even videotaped its final episode when we still had VCR’s), I never got over how bothered I was by the utopian perfection of the Enterprise D and its crew. Really, it was a show about well-adjusted professionals performing their duties admirably in the most advanced ship in the galaxy, funded by post-scarcity economics where replicators can make you earl gray, hot, on command. And honestly, that annoyed me. Conflict and deprivation create drama. A lack of those things, while desirable in real life, is boring as hell to sit through.

So The Price of Admiralty hits all the high notes for me. Space is a terrible and dangerous place where you will always be clawing at the bleeding edge of survival, and yet you still have to make money. I’d hate to live that way myself, but it’s damned fun to read about other people doing it. I will definitely be checking out the next installment.

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The book is out! (And now you can review it!)

Guns of the Temple is available on Amazon! Right now, you can buy the book for Kindle, and we anticipate that print versions will be available within a week or two. That’s right, PRINT versions (for those of you who love the feeling of something physical…I know I do!).

buy4Click above to buy and leave reviews!

Also, for our wonderful advance reviewers, this is the time to start leaving your reviews! If you downloaded an advance copy through our recent giveaway, please make sure to mention that you received a free copy of the book.

Thanks so much for helping us with this launch! We truly appreciate it, and look forward to writing more for your entertainment!

Guns of the Temple cover reveal!

Guns of the Temple for e-book

 

 

Lots of people say the cover’s the most important part of any book. Luckily, we found an artist who met all of our needs, and created something that we could all be proud of! It’s a weird, cool feeling to commission a work of art for oneself. We highly recommend it.

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Is finally about to release!

After nearly 3 years in the making, Guns of the Temple will finally be on sale August 5th, 2016, and will be available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited!

 


The Argead Dominion is the last holdout against the Imperial Padishah’s brutal westward expansion. An aging arsenal of decaying tanks and antique rifles lets Argead forces scrape by, but true victories are won by the Polaris: elite battle-mages enslaved for the world-ending sins of their ancestors.

Taki is an ambitious Polaris stuck with the dregs of his kind in a squad named Tirefire the Lesser. Though career suicide might be bearable in the right company, his new companions are anything but. The sniper despises him, the man-at-arms is profoundly depressed, and his beautiful captain has a penchant for beating her underlings.

As the invading horde draws closer, this squad of defectives must band together despite the long odds against them. But with Imperial assassins out for their blood and treachery from within their own ranks, survival will come with a high price. 


 

Now, if you want to read and review our book before everyone else, we invite you to become one of our advance reviewers!

Advance reviewers can download and enjoy a free copy of the book right now! What we ask is that on release day, August 5th, 2016, please leave your honest review on Amazon.com on this book’s page.

Don’t worry about the length of your review. Some people write walls of text, and some write a few words; it’s all good. Basically, if you enjoyed the product, want to see more, and would ever recommend it to a friend, a review is the best way to tell everyone else. If you find any typographical or grammatical errors, or if you don’t enjoy the book, please email us. Your feedback helps us improve!

To get the link for the book download, please sign up for our mailing list using the form below!

 

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Food stuff!

One of the best parts of living in Rhode Island, particularly Providence, is that it’s an amazing destination for foodies as well as amateur and professional chefs.  Erica and I are definitely in the amateur cook category, but we sure have some world-class ingredients.  Tonight we had a smaller dinner, just a one-course-one-bowl affair.

I’ve never really understood the thing against Brussels Sprouts.  Probably because the first time I’ve had them they were prepared extremely well.  Sauteed in butter with a wine reduction and plenty of chopped bacon mixed in, as opposed to steamed without salt or fat, which allows the natural bitterness to become unpleasant.    For tonight, I happened to have Sprouts obtained from the Brown University Market Shares program, Smoked Boar Bacon (that’s right, Boar Bacon) from PV Farm stand, and wild “chicken of the woods” mushrooms from Rhode Island Mushroom Company.

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I sauteed a garlic clove, chopped mushrooms, and chopped bacon in at least an ounce of butter from Rhody Fresh until tender, and then dropped in halved Brussels Sprouts and yet more butter.  Add salt and pepper, and you have a pretty tasty, savory dish.

But just bacon and sprouts needs some sort of starch and at least another type of vegetable, so I combined these with rice and curtido, an El Salvadorean pickled cabbage dish that’s typically served alongside pupusas.  Multiple recipes for curtido exist online, such as this one.  What you really need to be successful is a crock, though.

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Erica has an eye for amazing crocks, and made our curtido in this amazing, hand-made crock by Meredith Stern.  It holds a hell of a lot of cabbage and comes with an internal weight, which is important in fermentation of this sort.

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While putting the final touches on dinner, I couldn’t help but snack on some spicy dill pickles made by Fox Point Pickling Company.  I just picked up a jar at the Hope Artiste Village Wintertime Farmer’s Market.  The pickles have that appealingly deep bite with just a tantalizing whisper of carbonation that you can only get with true lacto-fermentation, but remain crisp, unlike a lot of their counterparts.

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Finally, dinner.  We ate this in a vulgar display of power over food as we watched episodes of Welcome to the NHK.

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Cats approved.

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Today I inspected our bees on one of the first sunny days of the season.  It’s been a few weeks since using Miteaway and since then the days have mostly been rainy and cold.  Thankfully, the bees really don’t care what we do for the most part, and the cycle of hive life continues.

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After suiting up and putting on veil and gloves, I lit the smoker and let it get to a nice, thick white blaze.  Currently the hive has 2 brood chambers (deeps) and a honey super on it (medium).  The very top, which is laid out on the foreground, is a feeder.

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The honey super frames weren’t well-developed, but there is some capped honey present!  We’ll probably be taking the capped sections for comb treats.  The wax from the cappings (the extremely white stuff) is usually harvested for beeswax and turned into candles, soaps, etc.

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The top brood chamber has several frames which are completely filled with honey (probably what Laline Paull refers to as “The Treasury” in her novel The Bees).  This is a sign of winter preparation – they’ll eat all of this honey to survive.  Though it’s tempting to harvest from these frames, they’re actually all filled with pupal bits and mites.

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Finally a closeup of muh bees!  Only one tried to sting me this time.  That’s what we consider an exceptionally gentle hive.