New Years in Japan
The Lampworks Lamplighter SF & Fantasy News & Reviews
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Celebrating the New Year in Japan
I’m writing this newsletter from a tatami mat in an old house in Japan. Far from the big cities, we have a bamboo-forested mountain rising in back of the house and rice fields stretching in front. The folks here warn me not to walk up the mountain as I’ve done most of the past thirty years, due to the frequent encounters with monkeys and wild boar recently. Maybe the climate, maybe the food supply, but the critters have been coming down the mountain into town, ravaging the fruit trees and family gardens. I’ve contented myself with walking to some of the Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples that dot the wooded groves around the village. There’s a quaint and nearly forgotten old shrine to foxes on a nearby hillside that I visited this morning. Dusty and crumbling, I wonder if it’s had callers since my last trip three years ago. This evening a fox came into the yard and called its eerie call in the darkness. Maybe they noticed my visit to their shrine.
After visiting the family, we headed out for a couple of days on the coast. Lighthouses, seafood, and spectacular sunsets. Siri is very good at navigating the twisty Japanese roads, but atrocious at pronouncing the city and street names. (It kept calling the city of Ise “eyes” instead of “ee-say” for instance.) There was much eye-rolling and chortling at the mangled names.
By the time you get this, I’ll be on the flight back to the U.S. Here’s wishing you a happy and prosperous New Year. Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu!
A short story for the holidays in the world of Knots. Escher and Emeline have brought a tree into the house to decorate, and Trefoil the cat must investigate, of course. There’s something not quite right about this tree – they’ve brought trouble into the house along with it. It’s up to Trefoil to guard the house against the mayhem that ensues. If he doesn’t get put outside first.
Free download from StoryOrigin
Monsieur Resche is an art thief. He has crossed a bridge into a quaint town that disappeared from Switzerland four centuries ago. All the magic that our world once had has ended up there. A precisely tied knot, an exactly folded paper, or a cunningly drawn figure can unlock wonders and horrors.
Resche has a mind that lets him excel at this new craft, but that brings him to the notice of powerful mages who play a great game of geomancy with tiles the size of countries. And when he looks for the bridge back to Geneva, it is nowhere to be found.
The Fractalist priest offers aid that may not be what it appears, the Jeweler has intricate schemes, the newspaper editor has taken an interest, the Astromancer had good advice before she was murdered, and Resche’s cat just makes wisecracks.
Knots is a compelling story filled with unexpected characters, plot twists, literal location twists, mystery, and redemption.
Have Kindle Unlimited? Read Knots for free on Amazon!
What We‘re Reading
Visit our archive of reviews and recommendations on the Books We Like page of our website. You‘ll find over one hundred recommendations in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Non Fiction.
In the second installment of the Reconners trilogy, David has become the leader of their resistance cell. After taking down one major Epic – the emergent super-powered humans who rule the world – they now face multiple even more powerful adversaries. At the same time, David has to wrestle with having fallen in love with an Epic who was formerly an opponent. This has caused his team to question his loyalties, with the prevailing belief that Epics invariably turned evil when they aquired their powers. Even more importantly, in the ruins of Manhattan, they begin to find clues to what caused the sudden outbreak of superpowers. Now they have to survive long enough to find of fighting their powers, or maybe of curing them off their sociopathy.
In the conclusion to the trilogy, David leads his team against their former leader who has become the most powerful High Epic to date. Their face off takes place in the former city of Atlanta, which has been turned to salt and now sails across the country. They acquire an unreliable Epic ally who can steal the powers of any other epic they touch. Can they learn from the Epics who can steal or bestow powers something that can kill – or cure – all epics?
Once upon a time, there was a family of artists who painted Illuminations for a living. These Illuminations are charms of a sort, protecting homes from fire, warding off mice, helping healing, or encouraging the bread to rise. The youngest daughter, Rosa, wants desperately to become an Illuminator to help her family, but the magic hasn’t kicked in yet. One day in the cellar of magical knicknacks, she finds an old box and releases a malevolent Illumination, one that defaces other Illuminations and drains their power. Her family’s business will be ruined if she can’t stop this rogue drawing.
This is pitched as a middle-grade novel, but all ages will appreciate the innovative magic system and the folklore woven around it.
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Of Half a Mind
When you talk to yourself, there’s only one voice. When you picture something, there’s but a single mind’s eye.
Recently graduated psychologist, Dr. Sam “Doc” Price and his inexperienced team had always held those principles to be true…at least, under normal circumstances. But as they studied the work of Dr. Ned Worthington, a brilliant but troubled neuroscientist, they began to wonder if he had created an electronic world that was anything but normal. He claimed it could rewire the brain, repurpose sections of it for new uses. And the man who had used it was capable of remarkable feats.
But as their awe of what might be possible grew, so did their unease about what was implied. Just beyond what they could prove, there seemed a dark side of the technology and perhaps, a man who had succumbed to it. Was he watching? Was he coming for them? And when Doc and his team finally secured the evidence they sought, only one question remained. Now that they knew, could they survive the truth?
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Of Mycelium and Men
William C. Tracy
Lida was their last chance for an uncolonized planet. But a world-spanning fungus had colonized it first.
Agetha and her husband have spent their whole lives in the fleet’s zero-G. Now all is turmoil as the fleet lands, discovering they are surrounded by a single fungal biomass spanning the entire planet. To build a new home, the fleet must confront a dangerous organism, and Agetha must decide if she can raise a family in this inhospitable landscape.
Jane Brighton holds tenuous command over the colony and its administrators. She and the other gene-modded leaders emerged from their four-hundred-year suspended animation to find a crew much different from the one that departed Old Earth. Jane must direct the colony’s fragile growth and defend it against being overrun by the fast-growing biomass.
But there is something none of the colonists know. The massive organism that spans the planet is not simply a fungal mass, nor even a chimerical combination of species that once roamed the planet. The biomass has desires and goals, and one is to know these strange beings carving out a home in its midst.
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Fall Into Fantasy 2022 Edition
Fall Into Fantasy returns with 17 new tales of the magical and supernatural. Join us for stories of old libraries, clockwork creations, magical merfolk, druids, dangerous fae, wizards and witches. Discover love in unique ways and learn if destiny is immutable. We’ve got a sassy fairy paired with an adventurer and old forgotten gods resurfacing. These stories from returning, and new members, of the Cloaked Press Family will surely help you to escape your reality for a time.
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Predator and Prey
Hunting criminals is what Venator Sergeant Lucy Sawyer does best, but when a target professes their innocence, why would she believe them?
Nate Briggs gave up his decorated career in the Strion Army Special Forces to find his abducted brother. What he didn’t expect was to become the target of a venator bounty contract.
Will Nate be able to avoid capture by the system’s best bounty hunter, or will Lucy bag another criminal and continue to climb the ranks of the venator guild? Or will the interference by Zuniga Galactic Investments turn everyone’s life upside down?
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Meet Dixie. She’s Half Demon but not Half Bad!
In my world demons ride the electrics and vampires are the number one wet dream in everyone’s fantasy until they forget the safe word. Then it all ends in tears and a sharp stake. Or a beheading…because better safe than sorry.
It’s one of those weeks where things escalate quickly. Your favourite client gets himself prince-napped. Then there’s the unexpected house visit from his very great aunt, the Empress; who knew she did those? Who knew she’d demand answers from me? But that’s not the worst part of the week. The truly horrendous thorn in my side is working with the biggest, baddest, hottest vampire of them all because someone is making zombies and that’s treason.
So now I’m riding shotgun with the city’s favourite poster boy vampire, and because he’s BFFs with the Empress, I can’t stake him either. Not unless I find him in a very compromising situation…
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Loss of the Unbound
Chaos in the making…
One year has passed since the terrible events at Eldenhaven–one year since the bond shared between Kalindra and Rina was severed. One year since war was declared by Lundell upon Dracomancers, and one year since Parthenis has known nothing but war…
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