7 July 2021

[Blog Tour] 'Secret Mage' (Book 1 in The Blood Magic Series) By Rebecca Jaycox #Fantasy #YA

by
[Blog Tour] 'Secret Mage'  (Book 1 in The Blood Magic Series) By Rebecca Jaycox #Fantasy #YA
'Secret Mage' - Blog Tour Banner

The Book:

Secret Mage
(Book 1 in The Blood Magic Series)
By Rebecca Jaycox
  • Published 9th June 2020 by Aelurus Publishing
  • Page Count: 340 pages
  • Genre: YA Fantasy

The Blurb:

Some secrets are too deadly to keep, some bloodlines too powerful to contain …

Reggie Lang might only be seventeen, but she’s had to grow up fast. Losing a father as a baby made things hard enough, but when her mom turned to alcohol for refuge, Reggie had to hold things together. She still does. If only she could escape it all …

When the other kids at school start calling her a freak, things only get tougher. What’s worse, she worries they’re right. Reggie shouldn’t be able to bring dead creatures back to life but somehow she can? If it wasn’t for her ride-or-die best friend, she’d have completely lost it by now.

When a mysterious man invades Reggie’s dreams, is it just another sign that she’s falling apart? He claims he’s her guardian – that he’s from another world. He tells her that her father’s killer is there …

… and that now an evil mage is gunning for her, destroying anything in his way.

Reggie’s always wanted to escape her life, but not like this. Does she really have to run to protect the people she loves? Who will take care of her mom? The man in her dreams says he’ll teach her about magic and protect her. That he’ll send someone he trusts to collect her. That her blood makes her powerful. It’s a hard choice, but ultimately protecting her mom is worth anything.

The magic-saturated world she discovers might be full of wonders, but the horrors are worse than she could have imagined. Can the man sent to guide her really protect her, or is the sign of his slavery an omen of what will happen to her?

Reggie will be pushed to her limits as she attempts her treacherous journey, struggling to adapt to a strange new world and learning to wield her powers. The Dark Mage isn’t easily evaded. He rules this world with a bloody fist. Because it’s blood he’s after—Reggie’s blood. And avoiding capture might just be the toughest thing Reggie has ever faced. 
[Blog Tour] 'Secret Mage'  (Book 1 in The Blood Magic Series) By Rebecca Jaycox #Fantasy #YA
'Secret Mage' - Book Cover

'Secret Mage' - Excerpt:

She ran up the stairs and closed her bedroom door, leaning against it for a moment. She placed her tea on a white wooden desk with faded pink flowers painted along its edges. Her bed stood in the middle of the room, sporting an old-fashioned wrought iron frame also painted white, and a navy blue comforter hanging over the sides. Reggie had bought the blue comforter in defense of the overtly feminine room.

She flopped on her bed, sighing with pleasure as the mattress dipped and cradled her weight. Wrapping herself in soft navy folds, she snuggled into her pillow and closed her eyes. She promised herself she would only rest for a minute, but sleep pulled her under.

Once again she sat in the high-backed chair, her face turned toward the heat of the fire. The man sat across from her, his eyes probing her face. Reggie was surprised at how comfortable she felt, despite his scrutiny; as if she knew he held the answers she sought.

“I like your duster. It’s pretty hot,” she said, breaking the silence.

His eyebrows shot up and his following laughter made her smile. He ran a hand over the leather. “Well, that’s not what I was expecting, but thank you. You’re usually much more . . .” he paused, searching for the right word.

“Bratty?” Reggie supplied

He laughed again, the deep sound soothing her nerves. “I was going to say hostile. I don’t think you’re a brat. You’ve had a busy day. How did your research mission go? Did you find out how you revived that beetle?”

“No, but I plan on looking again tonight. Or maybe I wouldn’t have to look if you’d just explain what’s going on.”

“Are you sure you’re ready to know?” he asked.

Reggie gritted her teeth, holding onto her rapidly diminishing patience. “Yes! You told me you were here to help me. Well, here I am, Professor, enlighten me!”

“You’re right. I did tell you I was here to help you.” He sighed. “It’s just people from your world are conditioned to think one way and information that doesn’t fit their worldview is usually taken badly.”

“Is something wrong with me?” she whispered.

“No,” he assured her. “You’re different than most people, but nothing is wrong with you. You see, you straddle two worlds. And the Other is finally showing you its face.”

Reggie leaned forward, her elbows on her knees. “I don’t understand. What two worlds?”

“Do you remember anything about your father?”

Surprised at the change of subject, she shook her head. Half-formed ideas flitted through her mind, but nothing took hold. “Not really. He went hiking in the woods behind the city when I was really young. He went missing. He was really handsome. He’s smiling in all the pictures I’ve seen. I mean, he seemed like a happy guy.” Reggie smiled briefly and then looked away. “My mom completely fell apart after he was gone.”

“I’m sorry,” the man said gently.

She looked at him as tears stung her eyes. She shrugged, embarrassed. “So what are you getting at? That my dad has something to do with what’s happening to me? He’s dead.”

He fingered the scar on his face. “This might be hard for you to understand. Your father wasn’t from here. He never was supposed to come here, but he was always headstrong, too curious for his own good, and very powerful,” the man said with affection. “And once he met your mother . . . I knew he was never going to be whole living in our world again.”
[Blog Tour] 'Secret Mage'  (Book 1 in The Blood Magic Series) By Rebecca Jaycox #Fantasy #YA
Rebecca Jaycox

Author Bio:

Rebecca Jaycox grew up in the tiny town of Berryman, which borders the Mark Twain National Forest and the Courtois River about 70 miles south of St. Louis. The beautiful landscape fed her imagination, and she began writing stories at age 10 and never stopped. Always seeking adventure, Rebecca moved to France after she graduated college with a journalism degree to teach English at a French high school. Bitten by the travel bug, she has recently visited Italy, Greece, Austria, Spain, and finally made it to her bucket-list destination of Istanbul last summer. Rebecca now lives in New York City with her husband, Gregory. She enjoys reading and writing fantasy, urban fantasy, steampunk, and science fiction.

Connect with Rebecca Jaycox:

Vision Films Brings Post-Apocalyptic Contamination Flick 'Lethal Virus' to Audiences This Summer [Trailer Included]

by
Vision Films Brings Post-Apocalyptic Contamination Flick 'Lethal Virus' to Audiences This Summer [Trailer Included]
'Lethal Virus' - Movie Poster
Vision Films Inc. announced the North American release of the contagion horror film Lethal Virus on July 27. The film, partially shot during the pandemic, is a production of Virtual World Pictures and World Real Games, with the collaboration of Canary Film Factory and directed by filmmaker Daniel H. Torrado, who also co-produced, co-wrote and post-produced. 
Eerily familiar, a deadly and highly contagious Corona virus sweeps across the globe, this time unleashing flesh-eating zombies. Although the film is to entertain with a good dose of action and suspense, it is a warning about the dangers of climate change and the need for a more caring society. Can anyone survive?

The Synopsis: 

In a post-apocalyptic world where food is scarce and danger is high, a new super virus begins to infect the remaining population and threatens to destroy what's left of humankind. As a special forces group transports a young scientist, their last hope for a cure, to her lab against all odds of survival, they encounter zombie-like creatures who are the newest victims of the super virus.

The Trailer:


Starring an international cast including Christian Stamm (Westworld, Malnazidos), Loretta Hope (Barren, Hexagon), Ramón Álvarez (Justice League, Jurassic World) and Tomas Paredes (James Bond, El Cid). And for the action scenes, the team of specialists from films such as Assassin's Creed, Mission: Impossible - Fallout, Rambo 5, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Terminator 6, among others, were used.
Lise Romanoff, CEO/Managing Director of Vision Films shares, "Lethal Virus is such a timely film that brings together an international cast and great effects for a harrowing and gruesome escapade to save humanity."
Writer/Director Daniel Torrado says, "During the filming, the pandemic began and we watched in amazement as the script was transforming into reality before our eyes. During the shooting we also suffered the inclemency of climate change, in the form of unexpected snowfalls and torrential rains, but we decided to use the setbacks to our advantage, adapting the scenes and including snowy sequences of great visual beauty."

  • The zombie thriller will be available on VOD and cable platforms across the US and Canada, and on DVD. Official Selection of the NIAFFS International Action Film Festival 2021.

5 July 2021

[Blog Tour] 'Ariadne Unraveled: A Mythic Retelling' By Zenobia Neil #HistoricalFantasy

by
[Blog Tour] 'Ariadne Unraveled: A Mythic Retelling' By Zenobia Neil #HistoricalFantasy
Ariadne Unraveled - Blog Tour Banner

The Book:

Ariadne Unraveled: A Mythic Retelling
By Zenobia Neil
  • Publication Date: 7th July 2021
  • Publisher: Hypatia Books
  • Page Length: 345 Pages
  • Genre: Mythic retelling/ Historical Romance
[Blog Tour] 'Ariadne Unraveled: A Mythic Retelling' By Zenobia Neil #HistoricalFantasy
Ariadne Unraveled - Front Cover

The Blurb:

Ariadne, high priestess of Crete, grew up duty-bound to the goddess Artemis. If she takes a husband, she must sacrifice him to her goddess after no more than three years of marriage. For this reason, she refuses to love any man, until a mysterious stranger arrives on her island.

The stranger is Dionysus, the new god of wine who empowers women and breaks the rules of the old gods. He came to Crete seeking vengeance against Artemis. He never expected to fall in love.

Furious that Dionysus would dare meddle with her high priestess, Artemis threatens to kill Ariadne if Dionysus doesn’t abandon her. Heartbroken, the new god leaves Crete, vowing to become better than the Olympians.

From the bloody labyrinth and the shadows of Hades to the halls of Olympus, Dionysus must find a way to defy Artemis and unite with his true love. Forced to betray her people, Ariadne discovers her own power to choose between the goddess she pledged herself to and the god she loves.
[Blog Tour] 'Ariadne Unraveled: A Mythic Retelling' By Zenobia Neil #HistoricalFantasy
Ariadne Unraveled - Teaser

Ariadne Unraveled - Excerpt:

The sacred olive grove, which usually gave Ariadne such peace, was dry and brittle with the heat of the long summer. Leaves and a few neglected olives crunched under her feet as she walked with Thalia. Manko and Talos followed behind at a distance.

“I brought honey and oil if you desire it,” Thalia said.

“Thank you, Little Leopard.” Years ago when Zoe had teased Thalia for her freckles, Ariadne had given Thalia the name to show how much she liked the spots.

Ariadne had told no one that the goddess had ceased speaking to her long before Dionysus had come. The goddess did not always speak to her high priestesses, but this felt different. Sometimes a high priestess could reach the goddess by swinging to epiphany.

They stopped before the sacred swing that Daedalus had built for Pasiphae. In early spring, novice priestesses wove flower braids around the two cedar posts. Musicians would play, and priestesses and novices would sing while Ariadne swung.

But now, at the height of summer, the swing appeared dried out, as if the sacred doorway would yield nothing. Still, Ariadne would try. She smoothed her skirt down and sat on the swing.

This is as close as you will come to flying, her mother had said when she and Phaedra first learned how to pump their legs on the swings designed for children. This one was different. The pillars were wider at the top, so the ropes hung at an angle. She had to work much harder, but that often led to epiphany.

She gripped the hot ropes and kicked off. As a child, she had thought Phaedra would travel this path with her, believing the two daughters of Pasiphae would both become priestesses. Ariadne’s crescent-shaped mark had begun to tingle at her first blood, but the goddess had never spoken to Phaedra.

Ariadne pulled back and pushed. The wind rushed through her hair, whooshing in her ears. She let the rhythm carry her to and fro. Sweat beaded her brow. The sun beat down. Let this be another show of my devotion, Goddess. Please tell me what to do. She pumped her legs, leaned back on the ropes. Had she angered the goddess by marrying Dionysus? Had the offerings Thalia, Melia, and Zoe left not appeased her? Or did the goddess no longer care?

She swung higher, pumped, and extended her legs over and over again, until her mind cleared. Now the goddess could enter and convey what she wanted Ariadne to do.

Fully entranced, Ariadne let her mind search for the goddess as her body continued to swing. She traveled to the cave sanctuaries. First, the one in the hills above Knossos, but the darkened cavern where women left offerings and came to give birth was empty. Her mind’s eye flew high, leaping from one peak to another. An old priestess alone in a cavern, staring out from the rocky crag to the sea below. Two girls who had just started their moon blood climbed up to another, eager to be able to enter the sacred space for the first time.

But the goddess was not there.

Ariadne swung, searching in her mind, calling the goddess by her names.

Mistress of Wild Things, Great Goddess, Our Lady, Artemis.

She searched across the island, from temple to temple to the uninhabited wild lands. She spied mountain goats asleep in the shade, and a griffin vulture circled above a canyon. Ariadne felt herself soar with the bird, the wind on her wings, her vision keen.

Great Goddess, where are you?

This sensation of flying with the bird, of going from cave to cave was a new one. Her power had never been this strong before.

She swung higher and higher, ignoring the pain in her hands and legs. Intense heat enveloped her, and she imagined jumping straight up into the sky, directly into the sun. Bright light and searing heat surrounded her.

Granddaughter.

The Titan Helios stood before her, his bronze skin giving off its own light. His eyes glowed with the sun itself; a crown of flames danced on his pure gold hair.

I have had a vision of you, child. Your fame will be great, but you will be abandoned and remembered as a girl left behind, though you will be far more than that. Your service to Crete is near its end.

Ariadne gasped. What did he mean? She could not speak. The fire of the sun consumed her, blinding her so she lost her connection to her strength. She put her hands up to feel where she was and began to fall, out of the sky, plummeting to the earth below.

She imagined falling into the sea, being extinguished by the water, but no, she fell toward Crete, past the griffin vulture, gliding on the wind, past the sleeping mountain goats and back toward her vacant body in the dried-out grove.

Thalia screamed as Ariadne’s body pitched backwards off the swing. Ariadne opened her eyes to see a flash of blue sky, the crooked olive branches. She had flown, and now she fell. She had reached an epiphany only to be thrown back to earth. Was she to die? Was that the goddess’s message to her?
[Blog Tour] 'Ariadne Unraveled: A Mythic Retelling' By Zenobia Neil #HistoricalFantasy
Zenobia Neil

Author Bio:

Zenobia Neil was named after an ancient warrior queen who fought against the Romans. She writes historical romance about the mythic past and Greek and Roman gods having too much fun. Visit her at ZenobiaNeil.com

Connect with Zenobia Neil:

[Blog Tour] 'Ariadne Unraveled: A Mythic Retelling' By Zenobia Neil #HistoricalFantasy
Ariadne Unraveled - Tour Schedule Banner

1 July 2021

Star Trek's Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura) to Christen the Real World Federation Headquarters

by
Star Trek's Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura) to Christen the Real World Federation Headquarters
Nichelle Nichols
On September 10-12, 2021, Nichelle Nichols will meet with fans for autographs, photos and other activities during her trip to Northwest Ohio to officially christen the headquarters of the International Federation of Trekkers on Cleveland Road in Huron.
  • The Federation is the only Star Trek fan club founded with the approval of series creator Gene Roddenberry. After 36 years of service, the organization moved into its new headquarters facilities in fall of 2020. Fans, donors, volunteers and tourists are welcome to visit the new facility.
"The new facility is the culmination of a dream. It is a testament to the selfless work and gifts of our volunteers and donors over these many years," mentioned Russ Haslage, cofounder of The Federation. "And there is nothing more fitting than to have my long-time friend and 'adopted' showbiz mom here to officially christen the location."
Star Trek's Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura) to Christen the Real World Federation Headquarters
Lt. Uhura (screengrab)
In a career spanning seven decades, Nichols has been a singer, dancer and actress on stage, television and movies, but is best known in her groundbreaking role as Lt. Uhura, the communications officer on the U.S.S. Enterprise in Star Trek, the original series, and six subsequent movies.

While at Federation headquarters, Nichols will sign autographs and pose for photos with fans in the replica of Captain James T. Kirk's chair on the Enterprise bridge. An opportunity to have dinner with Nichols is also available. All proceeds from the meet-and-greet will benefit Nichols' retirement fund.

Star Trek's Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura) to Christen the Real World Federation Headquarters
Star Trek, the original series (screengrab)
The Federation was founded in 1984 by fan Russ Haslage and Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the show. Its mission is to maintain shared interest in the Star Trek universe and, in keeping with the mission of the United Federation of Planets, to help others.

  • The Federation has more than 30 chapters with a total of more than 2,100 members, with charitable works including the funding of local museums, offering food, clothes and school supplies to local children, feeding the homeless and much more including even a mission in Zimbabwe.
Star Trek's Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura) to Christen the Real World Federation Headquarters
The visitor's center at Federation World Headquarters.
The organization's new world headquarters facility features a visitor's center, gift shop and much more. It is open to fans and visitors and can be found at 501 Cleveland Road West, in Huron, Ohio. 

Their website can be found at trekfederation.com.
  • The Federation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Donations are tax-deductible.
SOURCE: The Federation

Related Star Trek Stories:

29 June 2021

[Blog Tour] 'The Art of Love' (The Golden City, Book One) By A.B. Michaels #HistoricalFiction

by
[Blog Tour] 'The Art of Love' (The Golden City, Book One) By A.B. Michaels #HistoricalFiction
The Art of Love - Tour Banner

The Book:

The Art of Love
(The Golden City, Book One)
By A.B. Michaels
  • Publication Date: 4th May 2014
  • Publisher: Red Trumpet Press
  • Page Length: 360 Pages
  • Genre: Historical Fiction

The Blurb:

Your Journey to The Golden City begins here...

FORTUNE…SACRIFICE…PASSION...and SECRETS


A tale of mystery, social morality and second chances during America’s Gilded Age,
The Art of Love will take you on an unforgettable journey from the last frontier of the Yukon Territory to the new Sodom and Gomorrah of its time - the boomtown of San Francisco.

After digging a fortune from the frozen fields of the Klondike, August Wolff heads south to the “
Golden City,” hoping to put the unsolved disappearance of his wife and daughter behind him. The turn of the twentieth century brings him even more success, but the distractions of a hedonistic mecca can’t fill the gaping hole in his life.

Amelia Starling is a wildly talented artist caught in the straightjacket of Old New York society. Making a heart-breaking decision, she moves to San Francisco to further her career, all the while living with the pain of a sacrifice no woman should ever have to make.

Brought together by the city’s flourishing art scene, Gus and Lia forge a rare connection. But the past, shrouded in mystery, prevents the two of them from moving forward as one. Unwilling to face society’s scorn, Lia leaves the city and vows to begin again in Europe.

The Golden City offers everything a man could wish for except the answers Gus is desperate to find. But find them he must, or he and Lia have no chance at all.
[Blog Tour] 'The Art of Love' (The Golden City, Book One) By A.B. Michaels #HistoricalFiction
The Art of Love - front cover

'The Art of Love' - Excerpt:

New York, 1899

Over the next several days, under the guise of carrying artwork to and from school, Lia moved her most important belongings to the apartment Sandy had rented. She packed clothing, art supplies, her jewelry, and most important, the items that would remind her of the one real treasure she was giving up. Every evening she sat and watched Little Georgie, sketching him at play and at rest, trying to memorize every part of the precious child she had brought into the world. His tiny, exquisitely formed little ears; his soft cheeks (which someday, she imagined, would grow angular like his father’s); his mouth shaped like a cupid’s bow, rooting quietly as he slept.

She gave Polly and the housekeeper time away to visit their families and spent her last day at home with her son, sitting with him on the floor of the nursery as he built tall castles out of blocks and laughed delightedly when they fell. She held up the carved wooden cow and asked him what a cow says and he said “Moo.” The sheep? “Baa.” The horse? “Eee eee eee.”

“That’s my smart little man,” she whispered, tears running unchecked down her face.

“Mama,” he said, waddling over and patting the wetness of her cheeks.

“Yes, my darling boy,” she whispered. “Mama loves you. Mama will always love you.”

She put him to bed one more time and crooned his favorite lullaby. “Sleepyhead, close your eyes. Mother’s right here beside you. I’ll protect you from harm, you will wake in my … my … ” she couldn’t go on. He lay on his back looking up at her and smiled and reached for her. She leaned down and hugged him one last time and stayed with him until he fell asleep.

You can do this you can do this you can do this, she chanted to keep herself in one piece. She filled her small suitcase, donned her coat, and went downstairs to confront George. He was working in the library. The light in the room was dim except for the lamp on his desk. It lent an intimacy to the space. It was quiet; only the tic, tic, tic of the Ormolu clock marred the silence.

“George?” she called from the doorway.

“Yes, come in,” he replied, still engrossed in the report he was reading.

She checked the pendant watch he had given her on their first anniversary. Sandy would arrive to pick her up shortly; she had only to get through this last charade. She walked over to his desk.

“George, look at me.”

George looked up, a puzzled expression crossing his face as he saw that she was dressed to go out. He frowned. “Where are you going?”

“I’m leaving you for someone else.”

He leaned back in his chair, disbelieving. “What did you say?”

“I said I’m leaving you for someone else.”

“Lia, that’s not funny.”

“It’s not meant to be.” She leaned over his desk. “Do you understand? I’m leaving this marriage and I’m committing adultery to do it. Do. You. Understand?” She drew the words out as she held his eyes.

Comprehension cast a shadow over his features, and he slowly shook his head. “No, Lia. No. You don’t have to do this.”

She stood up straight and repeated the words she’d rehearsed many times. “I love someone else and I no longer love you. I’m moving in with my lover and I’m never coming back.”

“Wait. Who—”

“Sandy,” she said.

George rolled his eyes and snorted. “Ah, yes. The sodomite.”

Lia drilled him with her stare until he felt compelled to face her again. “Ask your mother and her friends about that … and thank you for the insult to one of the finest men I know. You are making this easier.”

George stood up as if to overpower her. “I’ll fight you on this.”

It was Lia’s turn to scoff. “Will you, George? Think long and hard about that. What will you gain? What will you lose?”

“What about your son?” he asked, frustration lacing his tone. “Our son. You’re just going to abandon him?”

You can do this you can do this you can do this. “My son will be loved,” she replied. “You talk to Emmaline about that.”

“Em? What does Em know about this?”

“Nothing. Only that she is a woman with so much to give who is ready to be loved … do you understand me, George?”

He stared at her, not speaking, and she could practically see the wheels turning in his head as he processed all that she was saying, all that she implied. His own eyes welled with tears as he realized what she was doing for him, for them. He reached for her. “Lia—”

She held out her arm to ward him off. “You must hate me until this is over, it is the only way,” she whispered. “Hate me to your parents, to your friends, to your lawyer, to everyone except Em and our son, and do not call Sandy a sodomite ever again. Do you understand me?” she repeated. She heard the near hysteria in her voice.

His eyes clear with comprehension, he nodded. “What will you do?”

“Lay low until the storm passes, then San Francisco, I think.” She smiled sadly. “So, you won’t have to pay that invoice from the Institute after all.”

“Lia?” Sandy stood in the doorway to the library, hat in hand. “I’m sorry. No one answered, so I let myself in. Are … are you ready to go?”

Lia continued to look at George. After a moment she inclined her head and saw George echo her, ever so slightly. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and opened them again, smiling through her tears.

“I will send you the address where your attorney can reach me,” she said. “Polly and Mrs. Rudd will be back tomorrow. If Little … Little Georgie wakes up—”

“I know,” he assured her gently. “Sing him the lullaby.”

“That’s right,” she said, her voice breaking. “Good night, George, and … and bless you.” Lia turned and took Sandy by the arm. They stepped into the cool of the evening and began walking down the street.

Sandy patted her hand. “How did it go?”

She sighed and put her head on his shoulder. Her voice hitched. “I think I know what it feels like to stab oneself in the heart.”

“You are quite a woman, Amelia. If I were someone else, I think I’d do anything to make you mine.”

“You are just who I need you to be, dear friend. Let’s see how it all plays out.”

“Yes, let’s,” he said as they continued on their way.

Author Bio:

A native of California, A.B. Michaels holds masters’ degrees in history (UCLA) and broadcasting (San Francisco State University). After working for many years as a promotional writer and editor, she turned to writing fiction, which is the hardest thing she's ever done besides raise two boys. She lives with her husband and two spoiled dogs in Boise, Idaho, where she is often distracted by playing darts and bocce and trying to hit a golf ball more than fifty yards. Reading, quilt-making and travel figure into the mix as well, leading her to hope that sometime soon, someone invents a 25+ hour day.

Connect with A.B. Michaels:

[Blog Tour] 'The Art of Love' (The Golden City, Book One) By A.B. Michaels #HistoricalFiction
The Art of Love - Tour Schedule

25 June 2021

China Is Using Mythology & Sci-Fi To Sell Its Space Programme To The World

by
China Is Using Mythology & Sci-Fi To Sell Its Space Programme To The World
The Wandering Earth is a Chinese sci-fi film which the government promoted abroad. (Netflix)
On the morning of June 17, China launched its long-awaited Shenzhou-12 spacecraft, carrying three Chinese astronauts – or taikonauts – towards the Tianhe core module. The module itself was launched at the end of April, forming part of the permanent Tiangong space station, which is planned to remain in orbit for the next ten years.

China’s construction of its own space station stems from the nation’s exclusion from the International Space Station, a result of US concerns over technology transfers that could enhance China’s military capabilities. Undeterred by this, China has forged ahead with its own space programmes and alliances. Since, the country has demonstrated that the Chinese “brand” of space technology is reputable and can hold its own in the international arena.

An impressive track record of remarkable space endeavours is not the only thing that distinguishes China’s space brand from other national players. The government and related organisations have made concerted efforts to establish a unique “Chinese space culture” alongside the country’s advances in space technology. While the target audience for many of these cultural creations remains domestic, China’s space ambitions are directed at global audiences in a variety of ways.

Legendary beginnings

Perhaps the most obvious example of this is the naming of these programmes after China’s traditional roots.

The name Tiangong translates as “Heavenly Palace”. This was the residence of the deity who holds supreme authority over the universe in Chinese mythology, the Celestial Ruler. The name is particularly fitting for a Chinese space station, which acts as a home in the heavens for the country’s taikonauts. The meaning of Shenzhou, the missions that take taikonauts to space, is “Divine Vessel”, which is also a homophone for an ancient name for China, “Divine Land”.  

China Is Using Mythology & Sci-Fi To Sell Its Space Programme To The World
The Moon Goddess Chang'e. (Wikimeda)
China’s lunar exploration missions, meanwhile, are named after the legendary Moon goddess Chang’e. The tale goes that Chang’e flew from Earth to the Moon after stealing the elixir of immortality from her husband, Hou Yi.

According to Chinese mythology, Chang’e continues to live on the Moon with her rabbit companion, who spends its time pounding the elixir of immortality in a mortar for the goddess. The rabbit is known as Yutu, or “Jade Rabbit”. China’s two lunar rovers, the second of which became the first to land on the far side of the Moon in 2019, are named after it.

A key component of this lunar landing mission was Queqiao, a communication relay satellite. This was named after the myth of the “Magpie Bridge”, which joins the “Cowherd” and the “Weaver Girl” across the stretch of the Milky Way in a romantic folktale. The satellite acted as a vital bridge of communication between the Chang’e mission components and China’s mission control centre.

The linking of China’s traditional past to its forward-looking space activities serves to strengthen the identity of these space programmes as distinctly Chinese.

In connecting these achievements to the country’s cultural heritage, they are presented not as mere copies of their space power predecessors, but as having developed from national talents and progresses. They also serve as a reminder that while the programmes aim for the furthest reaches of space, China’s future will never be disconnected from its national and cultural roots.

Furthermore, these legendary names are a signal to the international community that space is not the exclusive domain of historical western figures such as Apollo or Artemis, but that it also belongs to the lineage of the Chinese people.

China’s future in fiction

Over the last few years, multiple corporations based in China have released space-themed commercial products and promotional campaigns in conjunction with China’s official space organisations, from upmarket fashion brands to KFC. But perhaps the most notable promotion of China’s space ambitions is in films.

In 2019, the blockbuster sci-fi film The Wandering Earth was released. The film was well received, and was publicised by the state’s international media platforms as a must-see.

Director Frant Gwo has spoken about the importance of the message behind the film, claiming that China’s way of thinking about space is vastly different from US ideologies. According to Gwo, while the US dreams of eventually leaving the Earth to move to other planets, the Chinese space dream is to improve life on Earth through the use of space resources. The film promotes the idea that we mustn’t try to flee our planet, but instead, we must strive to protect it. 


While most space-themed commercial products remain aimed at a domestic market, Chinese sci-fi is becoming increasingly popular abroad. Books such as The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin, who wrote the short story which The Wandering Earth was adapted from, Folding Beijing by Hao Jingfang, which is also being adapted for the screen, and The Redemption of Time by Baoshu have all succeeded as translations.

Recognised by politicians as a potentially powerful tool for promoting state-approved narratives, government bodies have encouraged China’s sci-fi filmmakers to incorporate narratives that fit with the regime’s wider ideological and technological ambitions.

The fantasy aspect of sci-fi may explain why the genre is being internationally promoted first over other commercial products that feature imagery of actual Chinese space missions. Unlike China’s increasing capabilities in space, which are viewed as a threat by the US, the country’s fictional space developments pose no real-life risk. Able to incorporate the backdrop of a technologically powerful China into entertaining and compelling narratives, such stories allow foreign audiences to engage with the idea of China as a space power without the kind of political discourse that surrounds its real space activities.

Eventually, a foreign audience may begin to grow more comfortable with the notion of China as a technological world leader. And this, in turn, may cultivate an interest in the activities of the Chinese national space programme.

About Today's Contributor:

24 June 2021

[Blog Tour] 'Queen of Blood' (The Cross and the Crown, Book 4) By Sarah Kennedy #HistoricalFiction

by
[Blog Tour] 'Queen of Blood'  (The Cross and the Crown, Book 4)  By Sarah Kennedy #HistoricalFiction
Queen of Blood - Blog Tour Banner

The Book: 

Queen of Blood
(The Cross and the Crown, Book 4)
By Sarah Kennedy

  • Publication Date: 26th March 2021
  • Publisher: Penmore Press
  • Page Length: 321 Pages
  • Genre: Historical Fiction

The Blurb:

Queen of Blood, Book Four of the Cross and the Crown series, continues the story of Catherine Havens, a former nun in Tudor England. It is now 1553, and Mary Tudor has just been crowned queen of England. Still a Roman Catholic, Mary seeks to return England to its former religion, and Catherine hopes that the country will be at peace under the daughter of Henry VIII. But rebellion is brewing around Thomas Wyatt, the son of a Tudor courtier, and when Catherine’s estranged son suddenly returns from Wittenberg amid circulating rumours about overthrowing the new monarch, Catherine finds herself having to choose between the queen she has always loved and the son who seems determined to join the Protestants who seek to usurp her throne.
'Queen of Blood' - Front Cover

'Queen of Blood' - Excerpt:

At dinner, Benjamin studied the young men who occupied one side of the long table. The four newcomers, guided by Robbie, helped themselves to the roast lamb and bread without assistance, and they finished off five bottles of French wine among them. They had been introduced simply as Tom, John, Edward, and Peter, and they laid into the custard with a vengeance, not waiting until the dirty plates had been taken away. Diana had taken a low seat, across from the newcomers and away from the others, and Veronica appraised the strangers more than she ate. Alice kicked at Catherine under the table until her shin could withstand no more abuse and she squeezed the girl’s knee. Old Moll peeked around the corner of the doorway once, and backed away.
“Have you brought your books home with you, Robbie?” Catherine finally asked.

“Books will be burned in England,” her son said. “And I am called Robert now.”

“Who has said anything of burning books?” said Catherine.

“Books. Men. It will be all the same. I have brought my necessities and no more.”

Benjamin said, “And what is necessary for a young man these days?”

The two at the end exchanged a sideways glance and dug into their sweets. Robert said, “Men will need their consciences more than anything else now.”

“Yours must be very heavy,” said Benjamin. He rose and turned his back to tend to the fire.

Robert spoke to his mother. “The reformed priests will be forced to divorce their wives. The lands will be seized for the Pope. Some of those lands are mine.”

Catherine coughed into her hand. She scanned the four feeders. “The lands are held in my name, Robbie. Robert. Until my death. The properties that will be yours were Overton land, never the Church’s. They’re safe enough.”

“The church lands will be mine, will they not, Mother?” added Veronica. She cast her brother a glare. “If anyone must worry, Brother, I am the one, not you.”

“Anyone who is the child of a priest should worry,” said Robert. “Anything owned by a person who holds old Church property will come under the scrutiny of this new court. That may mean my land.”

“You’re chasing ghosts, boy,” said Benjamin, sitting again. “England is ruled by law, and even the queen must follow it. Is this what you came back for? To raise a rabble like the drunks in the public houses?”

Again the furtive meetings of eyes.

“I’m not worried,” said Veronica. “The queen has always been a great friend to me. And the queen’s sister, as well.”

“The queen’s sister?” said one of the four. “She will need friends. She has had too few.”

“What do you mean by that?” demanded Benjamin. He leaned onto the table, and the daughters all leaned back.

“He means that the Lady Elizabeth is reformed and the new queen is not,” said Robert. “She has been ill-treated by this Roman Mary and someone must defend her rights.” He pushed himself away and stood. “This is no time for wrangling and debate. We are weary and will retire.” The others all shoveled in last bites and wiped their faces. They bowed stiffly at Catherine and crowded out.

“What a pack of hounds he’s gathered,” said Benjamin. “And what a large set of cases they carry about with them, for men who need nothing more than their consciences.”

“They’re young, and young men are often angry,” said Catherine. “They want the world to turn on them.”

“It will turn on them, in truth, if they don’t mind their mouths,” said Benjamin. “And if they are so angry, what are they doing here? Why didn’t they stay in Wittenberg, where they have allies?”

Catherine said, “He didn’t say that they came from Wittenberg. Did you not hear them speak? I think these friends of his are all Englishmen.”
[Blog Tour] 'Queen of Blood'  (The Cross and the Crown, Book 4)  By Sarah Kennedy #HistoricalFiction
Sarah Kennedy

Author Bio:

Sarah Kennedy is the author of the Tudor historical series, The Cross and the Crown, including The Altarpiece, City of Ladies, The King’s Sisters, and Queen of Blood. She has also published a stand-alone contemporary novel, Self-Portrait, with Ghost, as well as seven books of poems. A professor of English at Mary Baldwin University in Staunton, Virginia, Sarah Kennedy holds a PhD in Renaissance Literature and an MFA in Creative Writing. She has received grants from both the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Virginia Commission for the Arts.

Connect with Sarah Kennedy:

[Blog Tour] 'Queen of Blood'  (The Cross and the Crown, Book 4)  By Sarah Kennedy #HistoricalFiction
Queen of Blood - Blog Tour Schedule Banner

17 June 2021

Amazons And Warrior Princesses On Screen – The Legacy Of Xena 20 Years On

by

Amazons And Warrior Princesses On Screen – The Legacy Of Xena 20 Years On
Lucy Lawless as the fierce Xena, the warrior princess (AF archive / Alamy)
Xena the warrior princess, played by Lucy Lawless, captivated audiences around the world for six series with her high kicks, sword skills and distinctive war cry. The series followed her as she fought her way through armies, monsters and gods, alongside her soul mate and moral compass, Gabrielle (Renee O'Connor).

Xena travelled across space and time, taking us from ancient Greece to Rome, Egypt, Britain, China, India, Scandinavia and finally to Japan, where it all came to an end 20 years ago on June 18 2001.

Starting life as an antagonist of Hercules in three episodes of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena was so popular as a character that she was given her spin-off series that ran from 1995 to 2001. At the time, Xena: Warrior Princess was considered groundbreaking as it started a strong female action heroine and was the only popular adventure, action, science fiction or fantasy show that featured female leads without male counterparts.

On the 20th anniversary of the final episode, it worth revisiting this great show and exploring why it was loved by a truly broad spectrum of viewers, from young girls drawn in by an active female role model and ancient history buffs to sci-fi fans and the LGBTQ community.

Xena and the Amazons

A reformed warlord from ancient Greece, Xena was not an Amazon but a friend to the tribes of warrior women. To ancient Greek writers, the Amazons were women who fought and behaved like men and were unnatural barbarians. They have since been adopted as positive female role models who break with misogynistic stereotypes of womanhood – they live in a self-sufficient, female-dominated society as warriors and intellects. The term Amazon feminism is now used to describe a branch of feminism that promotes female physical prowess as a way to achieve gender equality.

Before Xena, the Amazons featured in the 1970s Wonder Woman series. Not quite the feminist icons we expect today, these women wore pastel-coloured negligees as they adopted a peaceful life without men on Paradise Island.

In Xena, while the Amazons may also have been attired in revealing costumes made of furs and skins, their separatist society values martial as well as academic skills. An Amazon tells Gabrielle that the Amazon world is based on “truth and an individual woman’s strength”.

The Amazons from Greek mythology lived apart from men, at the edge of the known world, and fought bravely against male heroes such as Hercules, Theseus and Achilles. In Xena, the Amazons also live in a matriarchal society and are skilled fighters who can hold their own against men.

The Amazons in Wonder Woman (2017) can be seen as Xena’s big-screen descendants. The costumes and fighting prowess of Penthesilea (Nina Milner) in the BBC drama Troy: Fall of a City (2018) has tinges of Xena. While the leadership ability of the immortal Amazon Andy (Charlize Theron) in the Netflix film The Old Guard, can also be seen as inspired by Xena.

But while Troy: Fall of a City and The Old Guard are aimed at older audiences, Xena was popular across all age groups. For instance, episodes of Xena were broadcast in the UK on Channel Five’s Milkshake! Saturday morning slot in the 90s and early noughties for young viewers. This led many young girls to adopt Xena as their role model.

Amazons And Warrior Princesses On Screen – The Legacy Of Xena 20 Years On
Xena and Gabrielle (Screengrab)

The Xena subtext

Xena was also popular with gay and lesbian viewers. In the 1990s, openly gay relationships were mostly missing from popular US television series. However, Xena’s relationship with Gabrielle was interpreted as much as that of hero and sidekick as it was friends and lovers. Series producers began to play with this idea, for example, putting Xena and Gabrielle together in a sexy bath in season two fan-favourite episode A Day in the Life, so that for many, the subtext became the main text.

Although a lot of fans were dismayed that Xena died in the final episode they were treated to a long goodbye kiss between Gabrielle and Xena’s ghost. Series producers never openly made Xena and Gabrielle a lesbian couple. But LGBTQ+ fans championed their relationship, which is believed to have paved the way for openly gay relationships we see in television series today.

One of the joys of looking back at Xena 20 years on is its playfulness when compared with dark fantasy sci-fi fantasies like Game of Thrones. It features seriously badass female characters, and at times offers a serious message about female solidarity and feminism, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. Some of the special effects may now seem dated, but the storylines still ring true and the characters of Xena and Gabrielle can continue to be inspirational for a new generation of young female viewers.

About Today's Contributor:

Amanda Potter, Visiting Research Fellow, The Open University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

16 June 2021

[Blog Tour] Discovery By Barbara Greig #HistoricalFiction

by
[Blog Tour] Discovery By Barbara Greig #HistoricalFiction
discovery - tour banner

The Book:

Discovery
By Barbara Greig
  • Publication Date: 28th June 2020
  • Publisher: Matador (imprint of Troubador Publishing Ltd)
  • Page Length: 336 Pages
  • Genre: Historical Fiction

The Blurb:

Discovery: An epic tale of love, loss and courage When Elizabeth Gharsia’s headstrong nephew, Gabriel, joins Samuel Champlain’s 1608 expedition to establish a settlement at Quebec, he soon becomes embroiled in a complicated tribal conflict. As months turn into years, Gabriel appears lost to his family.

Meanwhile at home in France the death of her father, Luis, adds to Elizabeth’s anguish. Devastated by her loss, she struggles to make sense of his final words. Could her mother’s journals, found hidden among Luis’s possessions, provide the key to the mystery?

The arrival of Pedro Torres disrupts Elizabeth’s world even further. Rescued from starvation on the streets of Marseille by her brother, Pedro is a victim of the brutal expulsion of his people from Spain. Initially antagonistic, will Elizabeth come to appreciate Pedro’s qualities and to understand the complexity of her family?

Buy Links: 

Available on Kindle Unlimited ✔ Amazon UK ✔ Amazon US ✔: Amazon CA ✔: Amazon AU ✔: Waterstones ✔: Kobo ✔: Troubador ✔: WHSmith ✔: iBooks ✔: Google Play ✔ Book Depository ✔: 

[Blog Tour] Discovery By Barbara Greig #HistoricalFiction
Discovery - cover

Discovery - Excerpt:

Despite being weary, Elizabeth did not go to bed after she had taken her leave of Thomas. Waiting until she heard his heavy footsteps pass her chamber, she crept out of her room in the direction of her father’s. She paused momentarily outside Pedro’s door and wondered if he was asleep and if he had helped himself to some cold mutton from the kitchen before retiring for the night. Once again, she experienced a niggle of guilt as she had done earlier in the day; she should have invited him to eat some supper instead of acquiescing to Thomas’s demand.

On reaching Luis’s chamber, Elizabeth lifted the latch tentatively and was rewarded by the faintest of clicks as it was released. She eased the door open. Shafts of silvery light flooded the room and through the open shutters Elizabeth caught a glimpse of the full moon, riding high in a cloudless sky now that the storm had passed. Leaving the shutters open, she padded towards the bedside table and positioned the candle to give maximum light. Its yellow glow fused with the moonlight, producing an eeriness which somewhat unnerved her. Glancing around the room, to check that she was alone, Elizabeth chided herself for being fanciful.

The chest, one of two which held her father’s books, was locked. Thwarted, she took her time to think where he might have put the key. She scanned the room, puzzled over why the chest was locked, for the books had been freely available when her father was alive. The volumes, although valuable, many of which had been collected by her father’s grandfather, Hernando Gharsia, were only known to the family and to friends at the university. Her eyes alighted on the other chest in the room, the one where she had found the letter. It was worth a second look.

As before, she removed the items one by one except for the letter which was now concealed in her own jewellery casket: a piece of paper so momentous that no-one must see it, especially Thomas. However, unlike the previous occasion when she just laid it to one side, Elizabeth untied the bundle of silk. It rippled from her hands, a cascade of sea-green, the colour given depth by the ghostly light. The material was old and creased with dirt at the edges where the linen cover had slipped open but enough could be salvaged to fashion an exquisite dress. She ran her hand across the silk. Why did her father have it in his possession? Why had her mother never used it? Or told Elizabeth about it?

Returning to the task in hand, Elizabeth retrieved the candle from the table and held it low over the open chest, revealing the base and all four corners. There was no key. Disappointed, she returned her father’s treasures, ensuring that the silk was well-wrapped within the linen, and was about to take a last look around the chamber when Thomas’s deep bass boomed from the threshold. “What do you think you are doing?”

She swung round to face him, the candle-holder shaking in her hand. “You gave me such a fright!”

Thomas made a dismissive gesture. “It is your own fault – creeping like a thief in the night.”

Elizabeth did not retaliate, which immediately aroused her brother’s suspicions. Instead, she continued to stare at him, her eyes huge and defensive in the flickering flame. “Well?” he demanded.

“I wanted to look in Papa’s book-chest.”

“What for?”

“A book,” she replied lamely. She could tell he did not believe her, so she challenged him. “Why is the chest locked?”

“The contents are very valuable.”

“I know, but I can’t remember Papa ever locking it.”

“I am the head of the household now.”

“You have the key?”

“Yes.”

“Why have you locked the chest?”

“We have a guest in the house.”

Elizabeth surprised herself by rushing to the Castilian’s defence. “Pedro would never steal from us.”

“How can you be certain? I see you have given him access to the books in the parlour. He might wonder what others we have.”

“Pedro would not steal. I have come to know him while you have been away.”

“Perhaps that is so, but you know that our father has many books in his possession unsuitable for a faithful Roman Catholic.”

“Pedro would not betray us either. He is a Morisco. Papa gave him his Qur’an.”

“He did?”

“Yes.”

“True, I think it unlikely he would betray us, but we must protect ourselves, and our assets.”

“Assets?” Realisation dawned on Elizabeth. “You cannot think of selling some of Papa’s books!”

“I might if money is short.”

“But we have the vineyard, the saffron, and our trade.”

“I was not talking about us.”

“Oh Thomas,” Elizabeth warned. “You must not support the Huguenot cause now. It is too dangerous.”

“Nonsense! Now is the time to arm, to be ready for any attack from the new king. I plan to set off for Uzès the day after tomorrow to see what preparations that city is making. Then I will return to Montauban.”

There was no point in arguing, Thomas was, as he had said, the head of the family. Elizabeth walked towards the door. “I think I will go to bed.”

“What about the book you were looking for?”

“It can wait. I am tired.”

She reached the threshold, came to a halt and waited for Thomas to move. Raising the candle, she looked directly into his eyes but did not speak. He paused long enough to make her feel uncomfortable and then stepped to the side. “You can ask me for the key anytime.”
[Blog Tour] Discovery By Barbara Greig #HistoricalFiction
Barbara Greig

Author Bio:

Barbara Greig was born in Sunderland and lived in Roker until her family moved to Teesdale. An avid reader, she also discovered the joy of history at an early age. A last-minute change of heart, in the sixth form, caused her to alter her university application form. Instead of English, Barbara read Modern and Ancient History at Sheffield University. It was a decision she never regretted.

Barbara worked for twenty years in sixth form colleges, teaching History and Classical Civilisation. Eventually, although enjoying a role in management, she found there was less time for teaching and historical study. A change of focus was required. With her children having flown the nest, she was able to pursue her love of writing and story-telling. She has a passion for hiking, and dancing, the perfect antidotes to long hours of historical research and writing, as well as for travel and, wherever possible, she walks in the footsteps of her characters.

Discovery is Barbara’s second novel. Her debut novel Secret Lives was published in 2016 (Sacristy Press).

Connect with Barbara Greig:

Twitter ✔ Facebook ✔ Amazon Author Page ✔ Goodreads ✔

[Blog Tour] Discovery By Barbara Greig #HistoricalFiction
discovery - tour schedule banner

You Might Also Like