Excerpt: ‘The Star Ball’ by Amy Fontaine

 

The second story I’d like to share tonight from Insignia: Asian Birds & Beasts is by a new contributor, Amy Fontaine.

Amy’s story is a fun adventure about a Japanese boy who meets a mischievous kitsune (fox-shifter).

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‘The Star Ball’ by Amy Fontaine

Excerpt:

Koki’s mother had been tired when she came home from work earlier tonight. Tired, and distracted. After feeding Koki, she had slouched off to bed and forgotten to lock the inside lock on the back door. Koki noticed. Koki notices things.

Now Koki puts on his slippers, slips on a jacket over his pajamas, and tiptoes out of his room and down the stairs. He opens the back door of his apartment and sneaks off into the night.

The apartment is in a very modest neighborhood in the Northern Higashiyama area of Kyoto, but only a few blocks away is a beautiful park. A cobbled path lined with cherry trees and paper lanterns leads through lush ornamental plants to a red, arched bridge across a stream. The bridge leads to a tea house and a pagoda that stands beside it. During the day, Koki loves to come to this park with his mother, but he has never been here at night.

Koki starts crawling under bushes, turning over rock after rock and catching beetle after beetle. He squeals, a sound that seems more fitting of a five-year-old or a puppy than a ten-year-old. As he crawls under the last bush on the left before the red bridge, Koki’s eyes are suddenly met by a bright, piercing white-gold light. Koki yelps and scrambles backwards out of the bush, hearing a corresponding yelp of surprise and terror as he does so. When his vision clears, he sees a four-tailed golden fox standing before him, growling. Beetle legs hang from her mouth.

“What are you doing here, little runt?” hisses the fox, in a voice that isn’t quite real. “This is my territory, and these are my beetles! You have no right to hunt here, human!”

Koki bows to the fox. “I am sorry, honorable fox.”

The vixen bursts into peals of laughter that sound like tinkling bells.

“Honorable?” the fox scoffs. “You know nothing of kitsune, do you?”

In response, Koki begins to recite the natural history of the red fox. He sounds like an encyclopedia. The fox growls and shakes her head.

“You believe everything they tell you in science books, don’t you? Foolish boy. The things those books have told you to be false are the ones that are most important.”

~~~

Author Photo(2)

Amy Fontaine is a wildlife biologist who writes wild speculative fiction and poetry. Her first novel, Mist, is a young adult fantasy about shapeshifters, elemental magic, and being the change you wish to see in the world. She is currently writing an interactive novel inspired by Japanese kitsune folklore for Choice of Games. You can find her published work at https://amyfontaine.wordpress.com.

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AVAILABLE FROM:

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| 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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HAPPY RELEASE DAY! ‘Insignia: Asian Birds & Beasts’ (Vol. 6.)

Cheers to our second anthology release this summer! In this volume you’ll find an array of animal shifters, magical creatures, gods, and spirits. Story settings include: India, Japan, Cambodia, China, and outer-space!

ASIAN BIRDS & BEASTS

INSIGNIA VOL. 6. includes 8 short stories with Asian characters, settings, and magical creatures.

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CONTENTS

‘Reborn’ by Nidhi Singh

‘The Star Ball’ by Amy Fontaine

‘Raising Words’ by Stewart C. Baker

‘Apsaras’ Dance’ by Kelly Matsuura

‘We, the Ravens of Bai Gao Lou’ by Russell Hemmell

‘The Azure Dragon’ by Lorraine Schein

‘The Churail and the Crow’ by Keyan Bowes

‘Vermillion Nights’ by Joyce Chng

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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 |

 ~~~

Add on Goodreads

~~~

Interested in writing for us? A new submission call opens on September 1st! See our Submissions Page for full details.

 

August News

Hello everyone, and a warm welcome to our new blog followers!

Well, it’s been sweltering here in Japan for the past few weeks. We’ve had several days over forty degrees and still with high humidity! I’m ver glad I bought a new air-conditioner for my office this year. How’s the weather where you guys are?

I’ve been using my summer break to work on a few Insignia projects, so thought I’d post a summary here of what’s happening for anyone interested…Cheers! ~~Kelly~~

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1) Insignia: Asian Science Fiction was published in July, and is currently in Round 2 of a cover art contest over at All Author. If you like our cover design and would like to support us, please pop over and vote! No need to be a member or register on the site to do so.

VOTE HERE!

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2) Insignia: Asian Birds & Beasts will be released on August 20! I did an announcement post about it a few weeks ago, but if you missed it, you can check out the book details HERE.

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3) Next Insignia Series anthology?

A few people have asked about the next project: I’d like to open a new submission call in September or October, so would be curious to hear from you writers out there what themes would interest you…Or readers, what would you like read about next?

One of my ideas at the moment is to do ‘Flash Fiction & Poetry’, accepting work up to 1000 words in length, and open to poetry for the first time. I’ve been writing 100-word stories recently, and love how much story you can tell in just a few paragraphs.

All stories would still be required to be set in Asian countries (or a fantasy version of) and have leading Asian characters.

My second idea is to do a ‘Best of Asian Fantasy 2018‘. Submissions will then be open until year-end, and I would select maybe the Top 5 stories from those nominated. Stories would have to have been published this year by a journal or small press anthology etc, NOT self-published pieces.

Lastly, my best idea for a story-themed anthology is to do ‘Asian Ghost Stories’. I think we have ghost stories in every Insignia anthology to date, so I feel it would be easy to fill with great submissions.

Of course, I’d love to hear your ideas! Leave your suggestions in the comments below, or chat with me on Twitter sometime! Our Twitter link is: @InsigniaStories and my personal account is @KellyMatsuura

That’s enough typing for me tonight (I’ve been proofreading and formatting all day). Enjoy the rest of the month, and Happy Travels to those of you on summer vacation 🙂

Excerpt: ‘The Drowning Pool’ by Vonnie Winslow Crist

‘The Drowning Pool’ is a lovely mix of science fiction and fantasy, with Indian cultural elements. It a flash piece, so the excerpt is just a small tease….

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‘The Drowning Pool’ by Vonnie Winslow Crist

Excerpt:

The swimming pool on the Chandra Estate in New Thoothukudi was shaped like a coffin. From local historical records, Darshan knew this had not been the case when the pool was first constructed on Mars in the twenty-third century. Then, it had been oval in shape, and the centerpiece of an elaborate garden. But that was prior to Lalita’s drowning.

The facility manager stood on a slope of well-manicured grass and contemplated the pool. Mango and arjuna trees, genetically modified to fit the terra-formed planet’s climate and trimmed to near-perfection, and jasmine, bred to bloom year-round, surrounded the pool’s patio. Wrought metal chairs circling form-stone tables with decorative umbrellas poking out from their centers were positioned around the pool awaiting the wedding reception guests. Bathed in the glow of solar lamps and the scant moonlight of Phobos, the scene beneath the environs-dome was postcard beautiful, except for Lalita’s ghost perched on the edge of the pool.

~~~

Vonnie Winslow Crist’s Author Page

Insignia: Asian Science Fiction Page

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Excerpt: ‘Love & Relativity’ by Stewart C. Baker

Stewart C. Baker is a new contributor to The Insignia Series, and his story, ‘Love & relativity’ is an interesting Indian sci-fi piece that’s sure to linger after reading.

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‘Love & Relativity’ by Stewart C. Baker

Excerpt:

Dearest Adhi,

The psychiatrist assigned by Headquarters suggested I start a diary to help me cope with your ship’s disappearance.  Instead, I’m going to write you a bibliography.

I won’t write every day, and maybe you’ll never read this anyway, but it helps to think that someday I’ll be able to show you what I’ve written here.  To think that somehow, someday, we will bring you home.

Can’t write any more today.

I miss you.  I love you.

Indira

#

Source: ‘Special Relativity, The Universe, and You’ (New Beginnings Press: London, 2028)

Date Read: December 3, 2036

Summary:  Time is not an absolute, but depends on your location in the ‘hypersurface of the present’—a map of all physical space.  The speed of visible light limits observations to events already past, so the past is all there is.

Notes: While reading, I discovered I was pregnant.  It’s strange to think that once she’s born, I’ll only ever be able to see what she was—even if it’s only a few nanoseconds difference.  I wonder, if someone is inside you, can you still connect at the speed of ‘now’?

Ravi from mission control keeps calling, but they are no closer to learning what became of your ship.

Be safe.  I love you.

Indira

~~~

Stewart C. Baker’s Author Page

Insignia: Asian Science Fiction Page

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Coming Soon! ‘Insignia: Asian Birds & Beasts’

Yes, folks, we have another anthology releasing soon!

With stories from regular contributors and a few wonderful newbies, we have it all: dragons, kitsune, magical birds, snake-shifters, and ….werewolves in space? ( No, that’s not a typo). I promise a great mix of legends and settings.

Coming August 20!

ASIAN BIRDS & BEASTS

INSIGNIA VOL. 6. includes 8 short stories with Asian characters, settings, and magical creatures.

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CONTENTS

‘Reborn’ by Nidhi Singh

‘The Star Ball’ by  Amy Fontaine

‘Raising Words’ by Stewart C. Baker

‘Apsaras’ Dance’ by Kelly Matsuura

‘Ravens’ by Russell Hemmell

‘The Azure Dragon’ Lorraine Schein

‘The Churail and the Crow’ by Keyan Bowes

‘Vermillion Nights’ by Joyce Chng

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Last days of the Smashwords Summer Sale! The Insignia Series volumes 1 to 4 are on sale for 99c each until July 31st. See the list here.

And if you haven’t checked out Insignia: Asian Science Fiction yet, you’ll find all the book info and links on the Insignia Vol.5. page.

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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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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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Excerpt: ‘Four Claws’ by Allison Thai

‘Four Claws’ is the first story in Insignia: Asian Fantasy Stories.

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‘Four Claws’ by Allison Thai

Yifei had never left the palace before. Had no good reason to do so, until now. And she hadn’t the slightest clue where she was headed. All she knew was that she had to get as far away from home as she could. Stopping, or turning back would kill her. Yifei flew past the outermost village to reach the mountain range, and only then did she slow down. Blood still dripped from her wounds, and she tried her hardest not to look down at them.

Pangs of hunger stopped her from going any farther. She needed something to eat. Despite frantic scanning, she saw nothing edible in sight. Only rocks and dirt. Yifei closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath. She let it out in dismay. Even her dragon-enhanced sense of smell could not do much if she had no training at all.

Something flitted overhead, catching her eye. Dark wings, still and outstretched, made wide, slow, sweeping rounds high in the air. Vultures. If vultures were around, that meant there had to be food nearby.

Yifei’s ears perked, and she glided closer to the site. Upon further inspection, she realized that the vultures circled over a body. A human body.

Her mouth watered, and the very act made her recoil with disgust. Was she really that hungry? Yifei squeezed her eyes shut. She could not stoop so low as to eat a human. She was an imperial dragon, a princess of the ruling Quan family—

No, not anymore. The title was stripped from her, just as the toes on her feet were ripped off. Clinging to dignity was just an old habit. A habit she had to throw away if she wanted to survive.

~~~

Allison Thai’s Author Page

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

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AVAILABLE FROM:

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| Amazon DEAmazon JPAmazon IN |

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Add on Goodreads

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Write for Us – Submissions now OPEN!

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