Excerpt: ‘Kill/Switch’ by L. Chan

 

Stolen memories and black market tech feature in L. Chan’s intriguing story, ‘Kill/Switch’.

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‘Kill/Switch’ by L. Chan

Excerpt:

Harpold opened his eyes and stared at his dead face. Cheeks already chalk white; dry eyes forever staring at the ceiling. A memory interrogation rig was still pressed tight around the head of the corpse. He traced the twist of wires from the rig back to the humming computer between him and the body.

Wu Yen Xing, said the security tag pinned to the breast of Harpold’s smart looking suit. Harpold’s body was dead in a chair. Harpold’s soul however, was alive in another man’s body. The world spun; he bent over double and splattered the floor with hot vomit. His memories, another man’s body. Memory transfer gone wrong? Sour, dusty air filled his lungs and left his nostrils slowly. He ran inventory; a litany of memories spaced to see if the transfer had gone through.

He was Harpold David Chang.

  1. He was ten. He topped his class in mathematics.
  2. His first kiss. She was drunk. He was not.
  3. Graduated a year early, top two percent of his cohort.
  4. Third year in Tarshem Industries, first year in advanced memory tech research.
  5. A missing year, one of five stolen from him when he fled the industry.
  6. Up to his eyeballs in synthetic drugs, working black market memory tech.

As the present day drew nearer, he sampled his memories with increasing frequency. Years. Months. Weeks. Long term was intact. Short term was good up to about a week before. He examined his new security pass. Interrogator, First Class, it said. First Class meant dangerous work, deep diving into the memories of the recently dead, fishing for memories in a sea of decaying neurons. Except somehow Harpold was in Wu’s body and he had nothing to explain why someone wanted his memories bad enough to kill him. That, and two giant holes in his memory.

~~~

L. Chan’s Author Page

Insignia: Asian Science Fiction Page

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Excerpt: ‘The Galaxy’s Cube’ by Jeremy Szal

The third excerpt I’d like to share from our new anthology is by another first-time contributor, Jeremy Szal.

‘The Galazy’s Cube’ is a gritty tale of black market tech dealing set in New Bangkok.

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‘The Galaxy’s Cube’ by Jeremy Szal

Excerpt:

It started to rain as he made his way back home, warm spatters of water drumming on tin roofs and taut tarpaulins. Two moons were visible in the sky, pouring pale light on the road. The third was obscured by thick clouds. Back on Earth, where his grandparents were born, there had been only one moon in the sky. And the days were twenty-four hours long, not thirty-two. He’d been meaning to go there, see the wonders they spoke about. But even getting a permit to travel would require years of saving. And then there was buying the actual ticket. He’d spent all his money on his daughter when she came down with the blister plague, slowly eating away at her body. Every sale he made from selling equipment fought back the disease just a little more. But in the end, it hadn’t been enough. It had crawled into Serah’s brain and killed her.

Some days Jharkrat didn’t know what kept him going.

He arrived at his bottom floor apartment. Blood-red creepers curled around the sagging poles that were weary with the building’s weight. He fished for the rusty key and unlocked the ancient door. He could have gotten a keypad or printscan system, but that would draw attention. Showed he had something to hide. The place was going to get broken in again anyway. No need to encourage the thieving devils. He’d seen what people would do for money. Just last month a man a couple of blocks down from him had traded his newborn son for a dog so he could sell its litter. Jharkrat had to restrain himself from going over and smashing the man’s teeth out.

The flat was a wreck; the floor littered with computer equipment and crushed beer cans, plastic chairs wrapped in thick cables. A moldy fan spun lazily overhead, swirling muggy air around the room. Stock was packed in cardboard boxes threatening to fall apart, stacked to the ceiling. Jharkrat swept away a disassembled motherboard from his desk and brought out the cube. He simply had to know what this was. There was no way the Ministry had licensed it. Which just made it all the more exciting.

~~~

Jeremy Szal’s Author Page

Insignia: Asian Science Fiction Page

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Excerpt: ‘Connecting Through the Cosmos’ by Holly Schofield

 

Another great story in Insignia: Asian Science Fiction is by new contributor, Holly Schofield.

‘Connecting Through the Cosmos’ follows twins Andy and Stephen’s struggle to survive working for an alien race.

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‘Connecting Through the Cosmos’ by Holly Schofield

Excerpt:

Stephen grows aware he is slumped in his console chair and the Crow has withdrawn to its quarters. The screen is dark. He drags off his helmet, letting it fall to the floor beside the Crow’s discarded headset. He grabs the towel he keeps under the chair and mops the conductive gel and the sweat from his head. He pictures Andy doing the same.

The dizziness, nausea, and lingering pain take time to subside. He had just given a part of his life, his mind, and his soul in order to help the Crows’ colonization efforts. He scrubs his face, checks orbits, and realizes that PanEuro-TianGong8 has swung close by. He will head there tonight and spend most of his pay, attempting to forget the sensations he just experienced. He cannot imagine how Andy copes. His little brother lives ‘in the moment’, suffering transfer agony to an even greater degree than Stephen. And Andy’s isolation on Kepler-48b is total—he will have no human contact until the warm-up session with Stephen tomorrow.

After a while, Stephen eats a protein bar then forces himself to stand. When the Crow sleeps is Stephen’s time to do his research. The components of his own helmet utilize well-documented human neurology, but the Crow’s headset is taking him much longer to understand.

The countdown clock reads 17 years, 6 days, and 4 hours.

~~~

Holly Schofield’s Author Page

Insignia: Asian Science Fiction Page

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Excerpt: ‘Stars, Bright as Light’ by Joyce Chng

One of my favorite parts of publishing a new anthology is introducing the authors and their stories here on The Insignia Series blog.

The just-released Insignia: Asian Science Fiction anthology has 8 diverse tales of body-swapping, tech hacking and stealing, inter-dimensional relationships, and, a ghost story!

The first excerpt is from the first story in the anthology: Joyce Chng’s ‘Stars, Bright as Light’.

Joyce Chng has been with The Insignia Series from the beginning, and has contributed a wonderful ‘cyber-punkish’ (her word!) YA story set in futuristic Singapore.

 

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‘Stars, Bright as Light’ by Joyce Chng

Excerpt:

Ma was not at home when I returned from school. She worked part-time at the supermarket as a cashier.

She had left a plate of fried rice on the table. I had a few spoonfuls and some water before I went back to my room. Ma had cleaned up and thrown away the clutter. Thank you, Ma, I thought. She had done so much for me: for example, I needed her to shower me, as I wasn’t as mobile and agile as before. My disease was progressive. It was only about two years ago when the paralysis reached up to my hips and my legs weakened, forcing me to use a motorized wheelchair. I wanted so badly to be independent. Kids my age were hanging out and going to parties, but I couldn’t go out without a parent anymore.

I completed my homework. Writing was beginning to frustrate me. I couldn’t hold the pen for long as my fingers would shake and cramp up.  That was why I loved the simpath game. Ma hesitated at first when I wanted to install the connector ports but acquiesced after the sales representative showed us the benefits of this virtual reality combat game.

As a pilot of a war robot, you battle robots. You need no physical controls, only the power of your thoughts and will. As you progress in the game, you attain different Grades. The highest will be Grade Five. We have uploaded anti-hacking programs and firewalls to protect our players. An in-game death doesn’t mean real-life death. Players will also earn in-game credits that can be translated into real currencies. Rest assured, auntie, she will be fine.

~~~

Joyce Chng’s Author Page

Insignia: Asian Science Fiction Page (Insignia Vol.5.)

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HAPPY RELEASE DAY! ‘Insignia: Asian Science Fiction’

HAPPY RELEASE DAY everyone! I hope you all enjoy this new addition to the series. We have a few new authors joining the team on this one, so please check out their profiles for more info on their other published works, projects, etc.

The ebook is now available from Smashwords and all Amazon sites for US $1.99.

 

ASIAN SCIENCE FICTION

 

INSIGNIA VOL. 5 includes 8 science fiction stories with Asian characters and/or settings.

 

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CONTENTS

‘Stars Bright as Light’ by Joyce Chng

‘Islets of the Blest’ by Nidhi Singh

‘Uncle Ping’s Evening Farewell’ by Ray Daley

‘Connecting Through the Cosmos’ by Holly Schofield

‘The Galaxy’s Cube’ by Jeremy Szal

‘Kill / Switch’ by L. Chan

‘The Drowning Pool’ by Vonnie W. Crist

‘Love and Relativity’ by Stewart C. Baker

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AVAILABLE FROM:

| Smashwords | B & N | kobo |

| Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon CA |

| Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon ES |

| Amazon IT | Amazon NL | Amazon JP | Amazon BR |

| Amazon MX | Amazon IN |

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Add on Goodreads

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Also, the first 4 Insignia anthologies are on sale at Smashwords for 99c until July 31st. They make great summer reading!

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Cover & Contents Reveal for INSIGNIA Vol.5.!

Coming Soon!

Hi everyone, I’m excited to share the new cover and list of stories for our upcoming Asian science fiction themed anthology! This is the 5th anthology released for The Insignia Series and since it’s not region-based like the first 4 books, I decided to go green on this cover…Hope you all like the new look. 🙂

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CONTENTS

‘Stars Bright as Light’ by Joyce Chng

‘Islets of the Blest’ by Nidhi Singh

‘Uncle Ping’s Evening Farewell’ by Ray Daley

‘Connecting Through the Cosmos’ by Holly Schofield

‘Change of Light’ by Richard Agemo

‘The Galaxy’s Cube’ by Jeremy Szal

‘Kill / Switch’ by L. Chan

‘The Drowning Pool’ by Vonnie Winslow Crist

‘Love and Relativity’ by Stewart C. Baker

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Update to Submission Call

Hi everyone! If you’re on summer vacation at the moment like me, hope you’re relaxing. (Or, getting lots of /editing done!).

In an effort to attract more submissions and be able to fill the first open anthology call sooner, I have opened the theme to ALL Asian science fiction. Your story must still satisfy the general submission requirements, so please check the Submissions Page for further details. Our ‘Birds & Beasts’ anthology call is still open too – so get writing!

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And I’d just like to say a quick thank you to all the authors who have already submitted and/or have helped share the submission call. Every new contact helps this tiny imprint grow!

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Check out the latest Insignia Series anthology here:

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JULY NEWS: Smashwords Sale, Open Submissions, + more

Hi everyone, hope you’re all having a great July. Sorry I haven’t posted for ages, life’s been busy and I’ve cut back on my social media time recently. I hope to get back into things again from August though. I have a lot of projects I want to do. 🙂

Anyway, here’s what’s happening at INSIGNIA STORIES this month…

SMASHWORDS SUMMER SALE – ENDS JULY 31.

For the next week, all Insignia Series anthologies are on sale for just 99c! Simply go to the desired book page and enter the sale code listed with the usual BUY information. Easy!

LINKS:

Insignia Vol 1: Japanese Fantasy Storieshttps://www.smashwords.com/books/view/399204

Insignia Vol 2: Chinese Fantasy Storieshttps://www.smashwords.com/books/view/462261

Insignia Vol3: Southeast Asian Fantasyhttps://www.smashwords.com/books/view/627976

Insignia Vol 4: Asian Fantasy Storieshttps://www.smashwords.com/books/view/714228

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UPDATE ON OPEN SUBMISSIONS

Submissions for both the ‘Asian Dystopian/Cyberpunk’ and the ‘Birds & Beasts’ themed anthologies are still currently open.

I only need 2 or 3 more stories for the Dystopian/Cyberpunk call, so I’d like to close this soon. If you have a story -send it in! If you need more time, please message me about it. And if you have a friend who might be interested in submitting for this theme, please share the Submissions Page with them.

I definitely want to publish this anthology before Christmas, so need to get started with edits, cover design, etc.

As for the Birds & Beasts theme, I only have 2 accepted stories. This will stay open for a few months, so I hope to get more writers interested in doing this one. Tell all your friends!

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BOOK OF THE MONTH

I’m always happy to post a good Asian fantasy book recommendation here on the site. Reviews are also welcome. Email me at blackwingsandwhitepaper(at)gmail.com with your suggestions, links, images, etc.

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Excerpt: ‘White Lady’ by Tina Isaacs

The last story in Insignia: Asian Fantasy Stories is a very interesting tale about a Singaporean mortician.

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‘White Lady’ by Tina Isaacs

Excerpt:

“What made you choose this life? It’s so…” he raised his eyes to the ceiling as he fumbled for a word, which wouldn’t come across as condescending, “…macabre.” Despite efforts, he couldn’t hold back the shudders that racked his spine.

Timothy suspended a pen over his note pad. He glanced at the fine-boned lady as she silently went about her task. She had the weathered face of someone who’d experienced her share of grief, and her skin was as sallow as the body which lay under the white shroud before her—or so he imagined.

She slowly laid out an array of equipment and materials on the three-tiered trolley beside her. On the top tray of the trolley, he eyed a row of brown glass bottles, silver canisters and various steel tools that she’d lined with painstaking care.

“I supposed you could say the profession chose me, rather than the other way around.” Her almond-shaped eyes crinkled at the corners as she paused in her task and looked up at Timothy. “The womenfolk in my family have always been White Ladies, you see. My mother, my grandmother, and her mother before her.”

He smiled and nodded to encourage the undertaker’s narration, his pen rushing furiously in an attempt to get it all, verbatim, despite the digital recorder he’d placed on the gurney in front of her.

“Techniques on how to prepare bodies after death were passed down the generations… Of course, the way we’ve handled things has changed over the years, but the premise is the same,” she said, her smile soft. “You see, many believe the way we prepare the body for the afterlife stems from the manifestation of society’s desire for some kind of continuity after death. It’s like a show of respect to those passing into the next realm, on the belief that we’ll be shown the same respect when we die. And this is especially true for the Chinese.”

~~~

Tina Isaacs’ Author Page

Insignia: Asian Fantasy Stories Page (Insignia Vol.4.)

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AVAILABLE FROM:

| Smashwords | B & N | kobo |

| Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon CA |

| Amazon DEAmazon JPAmazon IN |

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Add on Goodreads

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WRITE FOR US! We currently have 2 open submission calls

Excerpt: ‘Untouchable’ by Sheenah Freitas

Here’s an excerpt from returning contributor, Sheenah Freitas’ Nepalese fantasy piece.

Note: this is a flash story so the excerpt is shorter than others we’ve posted.

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‘Untouchable’ by Sheenah Freitas

Excerpt:

In her earliest memory, she wanted to be a Kumari—they were one of the beautiful girls in Nepal worshipped for being the reincarnation of the great goddess Taleju. She believed she could feel power and wisdom exuding from those young girls. Young and old always clamored around the Kumari hoping for some sort of advice or just to be in the presence of a god. They thought the Kumari buzzed with divine energy.

She always wanted to be closer. She wanted to touch their feet, to be intimate with a god herself. But she was too afraid of what she might actually feel. What if she felt nothing at all? Or what if she did feel something? What would that do to her? Would she denounce her faith as a Buddhist and convert to Hinduism?

Despite everything, she lacked the courage to meet them.

But now, she thinks she will never see one.

She is dying.

Sheenah Freitas’ Author Page

Insignia: Asian Fantasy Stories Page (Insignia Vol.4.)

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AVAILABLE FROM:

| Smashwords | B & N | kobo |

| Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon CA |

| Amazon DEAmazon JPAmazon IN |

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Add on Goodreads

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