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An international cadre of authors and musicians team up in an experimental fusion of reading, technology, and music—the newest grab bag of entertainment goodies from storybundle.com.
I’m one of the curators for storybundle, and I’ve put together science fiction, fantasy, and horror bundles before, plus a forthcoming bundle of Urban Fantasy and another bundle of books on the craft and business of writing to be released in November (Nanowrimo month). Today, storybundle.com is launching an innovative new multimedia bundle, with an amazing mix of fantasy fiction and fantasy music—music that tells a story, the perfect soundtrack to your reading. Eleven writers and musicians have teamed up to offer the Fantasy Music and Books bundle.
Bundles are great deals for readers and for indie writers alike—and now, indie musicians, too. In the Fantasy Music and Books bundle, five authors and six musicians offer a wide variety of works—and readers pay their own price, from as little as $3 to as much as you like. Readers will get fiction by bestselling and award-winning authors, including Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Rhiannon Paille, Peter J. Wacks, Steven L. Sears (Xena: Warrior Princess), and an original “Terra Incognita” tale by me, and music by Abney Park, Pandora Celtica, S.J. Tucker (with an unreleased album “Stolen Season”), Heather Dale, the Borderers, Heather Alexander, and my own Roswell Six. The music styles range from Renaissance a capella to fantasy prog to steampunk rock.
You might like some of the music more than others, but you get it ALL, plus the fiction, for less than the price of one CD—so why not take a chance?
And this bundle has Easter Eggs—bonus content that gets unlocked automatically as more bundles are sold, cool innovative stuff such as previously-unreleased tracks by some of the music groups, new stories, even whole books, including the personal memoir and history A Brief History of Jazz Rock, by famed comic writer Mike Baron.
For those who followed my work on the epic “sailing ships and sea monsters” Terra Incognita fantasy trilogy, you heard me talk about working with some of my favorite rock stars to develop two companion music CDs. My wife Rebecca and I wrote the lyrics to songs that highlight one of the storylines, and our record label, Shawn Gordon’s ProgRock Records, put together a supergroup “Roswell Six” featuring the lead singers from Dream Theater, Kansas, Asia, Saga, and others, in a great fantasy rock CD. That CD is one of the pieces of the extended bundle, as well as my Terra Incognita tale “Mythical Creatures.”
And a portion of the proceeds goes to two excellent charities, the Clayton Medical Fund, a cancer charity by the late SF writer Jay Lake, and the Challenger Learning Centers for Space Science Education.
As a reminder, there’s only a week left to go on my Cosmic SF Bundle, also from storybundle.com—science fiction books by classic and cutting edge writers, Frank Herbert, Brandon Sanderson, Anne McCaffrey & Jody Lynn Nye, Kevin J. Anderson & Doug Beason, Michael A. Stackpole, Peter J. Wacks, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Mike Resnick, and Jay Lake & Ken Scholes.
This partnership with Story Bundle is an experiment, and may be the new face of digital content partnerships, allowing fans to pay what they can afford while receiving work from their favorite groups, and finding new authors. This partnership, if successful, will also give artists and authors a new distribution outlet for their work.
WordFire Press is pleased to be the publisher of a brand new eco-fantasy thriller written by New York Times bestseller Brian Herbert (and, of course, my frequent coauthor) and his wife Jan. A gripping and expansive epic about the wonders of the ocean, mutant humans, and a war against the corrupt polluters on land. The tide has turned—and the sea and all its denizens are fighting back!
OCEAN is available in trade paperback print form and in all eBook formats.
Bestselling author Brian Herbert and his wife, Jan, have combined their talents to create an epic ecological fantasy novel.
In 2024, Earth is consumed by a great War of Ocean Liberation: a military force of sea creatures attacks naval installations, shuts down shipping lanes and fishing operations, and destroys offshore oil-drilling rigs. Huge blue whales, sharks, dolphins, and even monstrous creatures thought to be extinct—all strike with ferocity and surprising strength.
The marine armada is led by hybrid, transformed humans who call themselves Sea Warriors, ocean-rights zealots who can swim to the deepest regions of the sea and live off the bounty of the waters. Their commander, Kimo Pohaku, announces his startling intention: The complete liberation of the seas from human control.
Finally, the ocean is fighting back, but it might be too late….
Because of the passage of more than four hundred years since the great War of Ocean Liberation, some of the details have been lost to history. The part-fish, part-human Sea Warriors who led the revolt did not find it convenient—or necessary—to write everything down during a time of tremendous turmoil and upheaval. Nonetheless, certain over-arching facts are indisputable, dominated by one: This heroic group sought to gain control over the entire world ocean, so that they could give it back to the sea creatures inhabiting it.
All of us know the results of that war, but other details are sketchy, and subject to discussion. Owing to a lack of information about the day-to-day actions of the principals in this fantastic saga (especially with respect to Kimo Pohaku, Alicia Ellsworth, and Gwyneth McDevitt), this is a historical novel that draws upon news reports of the time, eyewitness accounts of their lives, and family journals that have survived the decades—in all, reports by people who were able to obtain some of the details of what was occurring beneath the ocean waves of the planet.
We can say with a certainty that the account you are about to read accurately reflects the personalities of Kimo, Alicia, and Gwyneth, and correctly portrays many of the events in their epic struggle—although for the purpose of telling such an important story, the authors have found it necessary to make educated assumptions about certain specifics, with a minimum of added material.
This, then, is their story, and the story of their brave followers—sea creatures, human-marine hybrids, and untransformed human beings—all of whom dedicated themselves to the cause of ocean liberation.
Let us go back in time now, more than four centuries to the year 2024….
Just beneath the surface of the aquamarine sea, the man swam more than two miles without surfacing for air, though he wore no breathing equipment. His arm strokes and leg movements were smooth, propelling him rapidly through the warm water. He had splendid tattoos of marine animals on his body—a tiger shark on one bicep and a bottlenose dolphin on the other, with a giant octopus tattoo adorning his back, and the image of a moray eel that looked as if the animal was draped over his shoulders. One leg bore the tattoo of a hawksbill turtle, and the other a Portuguese Man-of-War. Even the backs of his hands were tattooed—a marlin on one and a starfish on the other.
Following Kimo Pohaku were immense white sharks, spotted stingrays, barracudas, and swordfish, all thick in a “vee” formation, turning whenever he did, staying with him. He thought it was strikingly beautiful in this underwater realm, where sunlight filtered down from the shimmering surface above, and he had his aquatic friends.
Kimo often felt like a child when he swam, filling his eyes and other senses with the wonders of the sea. But he felt great responsibilities as well, and had learned many important things. He knew the Hawaiian names of the species with him: niuhi, hihimanu, kaku, and a’uku. All of these animals were potentially deadly, but he had no fear in their presence, knowing they would not harm him.
Aside from his abundance of tattoos, Kimo looked like an ordinary human being, a young, dark-skinned Hawaiian land dweller—but his appearance concealed functional gills behind the ears, under the hairline. He had other special characteristics as well, including a swim bladder that enabled him to dive deep in the water, and an ability to navigate by identifying variations in the Earth’s magnetic field—things he kept secret from people he knew on the land, except for his own small family. Underwater, he could also hear things beyond the auditory range of a human being—including the low- and high-frequency sounds that marine animals made when communicating with one another or looking for prey.
Due to his enhanced body, Kimo could remain immersed in the sea indefinitely, and dive as far down as he wanted—thousands of meters if he wished to do so—all the way to the deepest regions of the ocean without being harmed by the very cold water, or crushed by the extreme pressures at those depths.
Ahead, he saw the white and iridescent blue of a huge lion’s mane jellyfish, in apparent distress. Slowing as he approached it, he let the creature enfold him in its long tentacles—organs that could sting and kill with lethal toxin in a matter of minutes. As expected, the animal did not harm him—instead, it caressed him gently, then let him go and swam away. But not rapidly, and not with a natural motion. Kimo also noticed that the creatures accompanying him now were troubled and erratic in their movements, not swimming in their usual effortless manner.
Troubled by this, Kimo dove deeper, surging into the depths with powerful underwater strokes, leaving the bright tropical sunlight above him and entering darker, cooler water. At first his companions stayed on his tail, but then he noticed some of them beginning to struggle, and falling out of formation.
He’d been in possession of extraordinary swimming abilities since his earliest memories, and he used to wonder if he was a member of a unique species of human beings with gills and other disguised improvements. But he’d never met anyone like himself. He’d been born in these very waters after a sudden storm capsized a small boat his pregnant mother had been aboard. She had perished during child delivery in the wind-tossed sea, leaving the newborn boy floating beside her body, helpless in the water and connected by the umbilical cord.
Strange and mysterious events had occurred that day, things Kimo thought of often. As a baby he should have died along with his mother, but miraculously he had survived, and had been able to see clearly quite quickly. He remembered his own umbilical cord being cut by a swordfish, while sharks swam around him protectively. Later he would realize that his umbilical cord was tied tightly against his belly, in perfect fashion, but it was a detail he did not see happen, or at least, he could not recall it.…
As a result of his unusual birth and ensuing incidents, Kimo had a very special connection with the sea and the life forms inhabiting it, enabling him to notice the strange behavior of marine animals. In recent weeks this had been increasingly evident in the waters around the Hawaiian islands, where fish and other sea creatures were showing signs of sluggishness, agitation, disorientation, and diminished reproduction. It particularly troubled him that humpback whales had not come to the warm, shallow waters around the island of Loa’kai in the winter to give birth to their young, the first time they had missed doing that in Kimo’s lifetime.
The local news had not been carrying stories about any of this, and Kimo knew why. The influential tourism industry was keeping it under wraps, hoping the problem would go away—and business leaders had the Hawaiian press in their pockets. But Kimo knew the truth, and so did his adoptive father, who lay gravely ill at home.
Just that morning from his sickbed, Tiny Pohaku had spoken about bleached, dying coral reefs, global warming, species depletion, pollution, and other problems that adversely affected the world’s ocean, a vast body of water that covered most of the Earth’s surface. Then the old fisherman drew a disturbing analogy when he said, “I don’t have long to live, and neither does the sea. I feel myself dying with it.”
Now, swimming back toward the surface through the increasing brightness of sunlight in the water, Kimo noticed a male porpoise going in slow circles just beneath the surface, waiting for him. He could tell that, and quickly he noticed why. The animal had a bloody, injured dorsal fin, and Kimo could only speculate on what had happened. The propeller of a tourist boat might have struck it; the vessels were always trying to get close to sea life for viewing.
Kimo broke away from the formation with the other sea creatures, and for a time he swam alongside the porpoise. Reaching over, he stroked its back, taking care to avoid touching the injury. Then, as the two of them slowed in the water and drifted upward toward the light, Kimo touched the injured area gently, and spoke to the animal soothingly, transmitting his thoughts through the water as he always did. The creature did not show any fear. It became very calm, and presently Kimo saw the skin healing over, leaving no sign of the injury. He had done this numerous times.
Moments later the porpoise darted away, testing the repair that Kimo had performed.
He only wished he could do the same for his father, but that was not possible, because the dying man was a land creature.
Alicia Ellsworth worked two days a week in her grandfather’s magnificent aquatic park, on the southeast corner of his sprawling ranch and resort. The marine facility had eleven dolphins and three porpoises in captivity, and all of these animals were revenue producers, very popular with tourists and locals, who liked to sit in the viewing stands and watch the daily shows.
Not that Alicia’s grandfather needed the money; the Ellsworth Ranch was only a small portion of his business empire, which included cattle and resort operations here on the island of Loa’kai, along with general stores, hotels, and resorts throughout the Hawaiian islands, as well as radio and television stations, newspapers, and magazines, all based in Honolulu.
He ran his businesses with military precision, having been raised in a highly regarded military family. His father, Preston Ellsworth II (Alicia’s great grandfather), had been a war hero who ran for President of the United States and nearly won. He’d also written numerous books about the military, both non-fiction and fiction, including two that were made into major movies.
Interested in the history of her influential family, Alicia had not only read the books; she liked to listen to her grandfather, Preston III, tell the old family war stories. He’d served as a naval officer himself, before using the considerable Ellsworth fortune and properties as a springboard to become a successful businessman in his own right. The Ellsworth Ranch, in the family for generations, was considered the flagship of the business operations.
A few months shy of her twenty-first birthday, Alicia had auburn hair and was well-tanned from surfing the beaches of California and Hawaii. She wore khaki shorts, a wide-brimmed outback hat, and a blue tee-shirt bearing the stylized “E” logo of the famous ranch. As she stood by a bucket of sardines, she watched while one of the handlers—a slender Portuguese man named Johnny Lisboa—tried to get a bottleneck dolphin to do tricks it had been trained to perform. The creature was not cooperating.
She recognized the animal, named Rainbow by one of the handlers. The dolphin, a male, had been quite ill when brought in, and had undergone surgery, in which the marine veterinarian discovered plastic bags and other plastics in its stomach, garbage it had ingested somewhere in the ocean. Rainbow had survived the surgery and was now a healthy animal, around seven years old. He’d been one of the lucky ones, the vet said, because larger animals, such as orcas and humpback whales, had been killed by excessive amounts of plastic in their stomachs, and their bodies had washed up on shore.
The viewing stands were full of people sitting in bright tropical sunlight, locals and tourists who had come for the mid-afternoon show. Many were wide-eyed, excited children, and some called out encouragement to the dolphin, by name. “Come on Rainbow!” a little girl shouted, from the front row. “Jump and you’ll get your treat!”
But Rainbow just swam slowly around the pool, seemingly ignoring the efforts of the handler to get his attention. Lisboa walked around the perimeter of the pool himself, using an imploring, gentle tone, trying to coax the creature without upsetting it any more.
Alicia saw dark clouds moving into position overhead, preparing to drench the area. The locals noticed this as well, and some of them had brought umbrellas. The tourists, unaware of how fast the weather could change on the eastern shore of Loa’kai, seemed oblivious. They were likely to get quite wet, but the rain wouldn’t last long, and soon after the downpour, warm air would dry their clothes. She had seen sudden rainstorms dampen the unwary before, countless times.
Despite her own family connections, Alicia was only an assistant at the aquatic park, performing cleanup duties, bringing food for the animals, and other tasks that were needed. Alicia and her brother, Jeff, lived with their grandfather on the grounds of the resort, but had only been on the island for ten months, since leaving the mainland and accepting his offer to work at the ranch. That enabled them to get away from drug-addicted friends in California who were not a good influence on either of them—and parents who were even worse.
Her brother, nine years her senior, had been a decorated pilot in the Army, and now worked as a helicopter tour pilot for the ranch. Completely self-absorbed, Jeff spent a lot of effort trying prove himself to their grandfather and advance his own position, often seeking to make himself look good at Alicia’s expense. She didn’t care about such games, and tried not to think about whatever her brother was doing.
Alicia saw her own duties at the ranch as a chance to bridge a family rift that had occurred because of drug addiction by their father, Preston Ellsworth IV, her grandfather’s only child. She hoped that one day her father might come to Hawaii and make amends with the old man. At the moment, he was incarcerated for petty crimes in a California prison, and undergoing drug rehabilitation treatment, while Alicia’s alcoholic mother had run off with an itinerant musician.
Preston IV, a rarely-employed furniture salesman, had always been verbally abusive to everyone around him, but Alicia hoped that might change one day, if he ever got sober. She wrote to him regularly, but he had not replied even once. She didn’t know where her mother was, but had never really gotten along with her at all. At least with her father there had been some pleasant moments—though too few.
Today a group of Catholic children in prim uniforms had been escorted to the aquatic park by nuns in black habits, and sat near the front. Suddenly one of the students—a lad with shaggy black hair—rose to his feet and shouted, “Let Rainbow go, so he can roam the ocean! He’s not happy here! This is a prison!”
One of the nuns admonished the child and forced him back into his seat, but the message resonated with the audience anyway, as a smattering of adults agreed that the dolphin should be set free.
Finally, after much coaxing, the creature leaped out of the water and caught a fish, but would not do it again, and lapsed into complete disinterest.
Alicia couldn’t help wondering what was wrong with the animal, and if the boy was right. Maybe it was cruel to keep dolphins and porpoises in captivity, no matter the justifications she had heard, that these were all rescued animals that had been healed of their wounds. Despite that, and their usefulness in educating the public about the importance of ocean ecology, shouldn’t the creatures be set free at some point?
She had not thought much about such things before.
When the show was over, the young woman dumped the rest of the fish into the pool for food, then hurried inside to avoid the oncoming cloudburst.
Also see other WordFire Press books by Brian Herbert
Just wrapped up a great show at Denver Comic Con. This is our local show, and easier to pack up all the books and booth display for our table—but still a lot of work. Two vehicles fully loaded with boxes of books and setup materials—I drove one up, and WordFire Press managing editor Peter J. Wacks and his BLOODLETTING coauthor Mark Ryan drove the other. We set up the table on Thursday night and were ready to go for the launch on Friday!
photo by Steven L. Sears
My long-time friend (and fellow Superstars Writing Seminars founder) David Farland was also a guest at our table. Our team at WordFire Press had worked overtime to produce FIVE of Dave’s reissues, which we debuted at the con. Dave and I were on a panel about the Star Wars Expanded Universe as well as a panel on Tor Books and WordFire Press. I also did a panel with Peter Wacks and Steven L. Sears (exec producer of XENA) about a new documentary and fan film we’re working on. And I gave my popular “Building my first lightsaber” solo talk—to a completely full ballroom.
With David Farland at our booth
Dune readers are everywhere!
With LOST GIRL’s Gabrielle Villaneuve (photo by Steven L. Sears)
We had several volunteers helping us work the table, including Michelle Corsillo, Josh Vogt, Vivian Trask, Zoe Frasure, David Boop, and more. As we did at Dallas and Houston, we set up a place for fans to get their photos taken with me, and they got a free copy shared via my Official Kevin J. Anderson Page on Facebook. (At a venue where most celebrities charge $30 or more for a photo, they loved getting something free!) We took several hundred photos; here are a few samples. To see the rest, view the album on the Official Kevin J. Anderson page on Facebook
Next stop—FantasyCon and WesterCon 67 in Salt Lake City over the Fourth of July weekend!
How’s this for a deal? A wide variety of universes and futures, all in one big bundle—and you can name your own price.
I’ve participated several times in the great bundles from storybundle.com, and this new batch—the Cosmic Science Fiction Bundle—has got something (or more than one something) for every SF fan. Nine science fiction books, bestsellers, award winners, classics, short stories, grand epics—and you name your own price.
The way storybundle.com works is that a group of indie authors pool their books and help promote the whole bundle, sharing their fanbases. Readers get a great title by a favorite author, and also get introduced to other new authors. And all these indie authors get more exposure and support.
Pay a minimum price of $3 and you get six SF books in your choice of eBook format:
Frank Herbert’s classic SF thriller DESTINATION VOID
Jay Lake and Ken Scholes—METAtropolis: The Wings We Dare Aspire
Kevin J. Anderson and Doug Beason Nebula nominee—ASSEMBLERS OF INFINITY
Kristine Kathryn Rusch “Retrieval Artist” novel—ANNIVERSARY DAY
Mike Resnick, winner of every imaginable SF award, with a new collection —FIRST PERSON PECULIAR
Peter J. Wacks, mind-bending SF time travel novel—SECOND PARADIGM
But wait! There’s more! If you pay a minimum of $12 for the bundle, you get three bonus books
Brandon Sanderson, #1 New York Times bestseller with a SF short novel—LEGION
Anne McCaffrey & Jody Lynn Nye with their classic—CRISIS ON DOONA
and bestseller Michael A. Stackpole with a great SF adventure—PERFECTLY INVISIBLE
A portion of the proceeds from storybundle.com goes to a designated charity, and this time it will benefit a cause close to one of our own. Jay Lake, coauthor of METATROPOLIS in the Cosmic SF Bundle, just passed away on June 1 after a long battle with cancer. METATROPOLIS was rushed through production, and he received a finished copy of the print book less than two weeks before he died. The storybundle charity for the Cosmic SF Bundle is the Clayton Memorial Medical Fund, which Jay designated.
The Cosmic SF Bundle runs for only three weeks. Name your price, do good for a great charity, and get a batch of books that will send your imagination to the stars. (And please help us spread the word about the Cosmic SF Bundle to give a boost to indie authors and publishers.)