The Pit of Despair…

EXCERPT from Inner Diverse, Book 2 of The Splintered Universe: When Rhea is sent to Sekmet to live out her remaining life run by the scum of the criminal community—all addicted to the drugged food—she finds herself reviled as a puny human and an ex-enforcer—she’d put some of them there, after all. Knowing her days are numbered and finding herself without a safe place to bed-down, Rhea makes a desperate bid to survive. Taking a Rill’s advice, she agrees to be sponsored by the ruffian Bondar as a contestant in The Game—a game of survival involving strength, courage and wits to an audience, who bet on a winner. It is a simple contest with one winner and one loser: the simple task is to immobilize or kill the opponent and capture the “magical” wakesh root—a highly sought after elixir that can break her from the soporific addiction of the prison’s drugged food:

rhea-contemplative01

Rhea Hawke (Vali Gurgu)

I stood in the centre of the five hectare blood-stained arena, facing the semi-circular bleachers where Bondar and Barbariccia and an audience of several dozen aliens sat, packed like blood hounds smelling death.

I inhaled the rank smell of unwashed bodies, sweat and old blood and privately wondered what I was doing here. Bondar seemed to think I was capable enough; he’d gleefully accepted me as his candidate and now looked smug, seated not far from Barbariccia, who ignored him and studied me with a look of amusement on his calm face… Suddenly aware of my soiled clothes, I grew self-conscious and nervously fidgeted as I waited for Barbariccia’s candidate to enter the arena.

Bondar abruptly stood up and held up my original jacket in one hand and my slacks in the other.

“I’m still looking for a buyer for these!” he announced happily in a multi-timbral chorus. “Great clothes of impeccable quality. Original Enforcer clothes.”

Which they weren’t, I thought scathingly. They were just ordinary flight clothes. Damn that Bondar! The bastard was selling my clothes right in front of me, his own candidate. It showed me what kind of team we were…and what he thought of my chances.

“Are they intelligent?” someone in the audience asked.

Bondar brought both my jacket and pants up to his reptilian face and buried his snout in them with a deep inhale. All he smelled was me, I thought, wincing inside. I felt my face tighten to a grimace as I watched him smear my clothes over his face: it seemed that essence of Rhea was a perfume for him because his doleful eyes flickered dreamily shut and his many mouths smiled lecherously. Several inmates cackled.

“You can’t tell by smelling it, creon!” someone scoffed.

“They’re far too small!” said another. “She’s just a puny little pip.”

My gaze involuntarily flickered down my own torso. I wasn’t that small, I thought petulantly. I was almost six feet tall.

Bondar bent down and lifted up my boots. “What about these? Real gravity boots. They instantly adjust according to the weight of the wearer to the gravitational pull of any planet you travelled to—”

“No one’s going anywhere, you buffoon!”

They started booing him and shouted for him to sit down.

I dropped my gaze to the dirty blood-stained floor as the jeers and slanders spread to me. I heard several pointed insults aimed at the human race. What was I doing here besides inviting abuse?

Mayling had sagely waited until just before I entered the arena, when it was too late to back out, to fully explain the game to me: “It’s a simple contest: just find and take possession of the wakesh root, hidden in the obstacle course of the arena, before the opponent does—and keep it by immobilizing the other contestant. This is usually done by killing the opponent but you don’t have to…” I had repeated the part about usually killing the opponent and Mayling ignored me to continue: “Whatever you do, don’t let yourself fall into the pit.”

“Pit?” I had repeated with a hard swallow.

“No one ever gets out. Usually youz just hears a lot of splashing then a lots of silence. Sometimes a sobeks wanders in and manages to eludes the peat saws and turbines, then youz also hear thrashing and lots of awful cries of terrors and pains as the sobek bites off a limb and—”

“I get it,” I cut in.

“There are two ways to plays the games,” Mayling went on. “Defeats your opponent first then looks for the root ats your leisure, or finds the root first and use its to defeats your opponent. Which way youz goes depends on your personal strengths. Considering your present status and your humans abilities, I suggests youz first finds the root, then takes a bite of the root immediately to gives yourselfs a decided advantage over your opponent.”

That only worked if I got it first. And that was unlikely, given the wave-sensitive eyesight of the Xhix, who’d just entered the arena through an adjacent door. Wonderful, I thought with growing despair. Xhix could see through objects.

Holding a mining shovel in one hand, the Xhix waved to the cheering crowd with his other. I dismally recalled the crowd’s jeers and catcalls when I’d entered the arena. It was obvious who they thought would win.

I was contemplating the misnomer of Mayling’s use of the term obstacle course, when Barbariccia stood and shouted, “Let the contest begin!”

I kept a sharp eye on the Xhix, who stood poised several meters from me. Maybe I could outsmart him. I might be more swift, if I let him lead me to the root. The Xhix seemed to realize what I was thinking. He faced me with a smirk and turned black, tapping his shovel with his paw. He wasn’t about to give away the whereabouts of the root.

The floor rumbled and, just a meter from where I stood, it abruptly separated, giving off a strong waft of sulfur. The gap in the floor groaned into a long chasm that continued to widen. Both the Xhix and I stepped back. This must be the infamous pit Mayling had referred to. I carefully leaned over to catch a glimpse of what lay below. I made out murky bog and peat, moving slowly across the gaping opening as the penal facility rolled along, churning up peat and mire some ten meters below—

Something hard and painful struck my head, throwing me off balance into the gap with a startled grunt. I briefly registered the Xhix’s victorious laugh as I pitched forward and blacked out.

I jerked awake, inhaling water. I’d plunged into black cold churning water and broke the surface with gasping breaths.

saltwater marsh-NS copy

Marsh on Sekmet

 

 

Inner-diverse-front-cover-WEBInner Diverse is the second book of The Splintered Universe Trilogy:

When Galactic Guardian Rhea Hawke investigates the genocide of an entire spiritual sect, she collides not only with dark intrigue but with her own tarnished past. Her quest for justice catapults Rhea into the heart of a universal struggle across alien landscapes of cruel beauty and toward an unbearable truth she’s hidden from herself since she murdered an innocent man.

Get the complete Splintered Universe Trilogy. Available in ALL THREE FORMATS: print, ebook, and audiobook. You can listen to a sample recording of Outer Diverse, Inner Diverse, and Metaversethrough Audible.

audible listen

Microsoft Word - trilogy-poster03.docx

GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY!

Rhea likes to use proverbs as barbs and to unhinge her opponent when she gets nervous or feels trapped. Send me a good proverb for Rhea to use and I will send you a code to obtain a free Audiobook from Audible. Codes are limited, so it will be first come, first serve until we’re out. Send your proverb to Nina Munteanu at: nina.sfgirl[at]gmail.com.

 

 

 

nina-2014aaa

Nina Munteanu is a Canadian ecologist / limnologist and novelist. She is co-editor of Europa SF and currently teaches writing courses at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. Visit www.ninamunteanu.ca for the latest on her books. Nina’s bilingual “La natura dell’acqua / The Way of Water” was published by Mincione Edizioni in Rome. Her non-fiction book “Water Is…” by Pixl Press (Vancouver) was selected by Margaret Atwood in the New York Times ‘Year in Reading’ and was chosen as the 2017 Summer Read by Water Canada. Her novel “A Diary in the Age of Water” will be released by Inanna Publications (Toronto) in 2020.

 

Sekmet, Mistress of Dread

 

Bog Planet wholeSekmet is the penal planet from which no one ever escapes. The planet is a giant bog-marsh and the prison itself is a massive 2-kilometre barge that travels the wetland planet and mines the peat. The very word evokes fear. Sekmet is the bogeyman. Early on, in Outer Diverse, Rhea’s colleague Bas warns her to be careful or she might end up on Sekmet for her transgressions; Rhea scoffs that only senseless killers go to that bog planet to die and rot. But soon Rhea will alter her cavalier defence. Things will change for her…

Sekhmet

Sekhmet

Sekmet is named after the lioness-headed Egyptian warrior goddess (Sekhmet). Variously known as “the one who is powerful or mighty”, “One before whom evil trembles”, “mistress of dread”, and “Lady of Slaughter”, Sekhmet is often depicted in red, the colour of blood.

In Inner Diverse, Bas’s warning is realized; Rhea is hunted and captured then after a hasty “trial” she is sent to Sekmet. There, she, too, will meet the goddess’s wrath—and tremble.

As the AI ship takes Rhea down to the planet surface, she has a good view of the wetland planet:

I gazed out my porthole at the barren patchwork of the small wetland-dominated planet, whose surface resembled an early impressionist’s painting. Dominated by sombre russet and indigo tones, the raised bog was dotted by a hasty spray of cobalt lakes and pools.

Although it was mid-morning on the planet, the mostly grey sky was saturated in low cloud and it was drizzling outside. Spates of wind drove sheets of rain hailing sporadically against my porthole. It was a wet desolate place. But then again, “A drowning man is not troubled by rain—Persian Proverb, Rhea,” I said quietly to myself. The weather was the least of my concerns.

Wetland-Trent6

Swamp on Sekmet

As the ship descended, I could make out the individual pool system of the blanket bog with its inhospitable tapestry of dark and wet shapes. I dispassionately reviewed what I knew of the planet. Its cool wet climate and rich iron deposits promoted the development of muskeg, string bogs, darkly forested swamps and wildflower-filled fens. This was Sekmet, a less than Earth sized planet that orbited the KO star, HD177830 in the constellation Vulpecula. My new home. Where I was going to die.

 

As the ship turned, I made out the actual penal colony with its dozens of grey tapered stacks billowing out white smoke. The facility resembled a huge factory, floating on a glistening wet mosaic of multi-textured and coloured vegetation. The facility, appropriately named Hades by its inmates, was in fact a huge peat mine that migrated across the huge blanket bog, extracting peat for sale to maintain the colony.

The life span of inmates on Sekmet was usually less than a year and I wasn’t sure I was going to be all that tenacious. The Eosian Guardian who’d shoved me into this AI ship had offered his own prognosis with a sinister laugh: “You won’t last a jagging week, human. They despise Enforcers. They’ll eat you alive then excrete you as bog fertilizer!”

The ship had informed me earlier that Hades contained an inordinately high number of Rills as inmates. If any one alien race had the right to despise me, the Rill did. I’d single-handedly subverted their one and only attempt at obtaining freedom from a long life of oppression by the Legess. I decided that Sekmet was going to be my personalized purgatory.

They will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes,” I recited the lines from Proverbs in a quiet breath.

 

When the AI ship lands on the huge barge platform, Rhea is instructed to get off.

Log over water forest-DeasPark copy

Wetland on Sekmet

The exit hatch door opened and the AI droned, “This is your destination, Rhea Hawke. Please disembark.”

My chest clenched. I swallowed down my fear and stepped out onto the platform of Sekmet’s landing bay, catching the faint sulphurous smell of the bog. The doors of the ship abruptly closed behind me, making me involuntarily flinch. Annoyed at my reaction, I gathered my composure and swiftly assessed the empty platform, hearing only the hum of the ship’s engine. My gaze rested on the endless hummocks and large meandering ponds of tea-stained water outside.

As the ship made ready to leave, I felt my heart pounding with the sudden urge to bolt. I had a panicked notion to leap off the platform into the murky bog. Swim, wade, scrabble to eventual safety in the wilderness of Sekmet in those distant hills. The ship lifted off the ground in a turmoil of dust and thunder. My face twisted with indecision as I tensed, poised to flee—

A male Azorian burst in from the adjoining chamber and I braced for an attack. He pelted right past me then leapt into the murky water. I watched him thrash through the undulating bog, stumbling, submerging and trying to swim—his left arm was amputated at the elbow. I was about to follow when laser shots peppered the water around him for several heartbeats. I flinched. As suddenly as the shots began, they ended and the Azorian slowly sank until only his head remained above the water. I stood stiff, trembling hands over my mouth, and breathing hard. I stared at the head bobbing slowly in the water.

 

With the ship departed, chaotic sounds drifted in from inside the colony. Faint echoes of shrill outcries, mad laughter and raucous groans filtered in with the light breeze. It sent a chill through me—

“The stupids ones stills thinks theys cans escapes thats ways,” a nasal voice said behind me.

Startled, I spun around. When I saw the female Rill waddle toward me, huge arm—weapon—stretched out, I instinctively went for my MEC and caught air. My MEC was, of course, no longer holstered on my hip. That damned gesture and ominous paw got me every time, I thought and let the tension drain from my posture. I grimaced and murmured to myself, “Speak of the devil.”

 

At the entrance from the platform inside the penal barge, Rhea passes the looming statues of Anubis—ancient Egyptian jackal god (who took part in judging a person’s guilt) and the lion-headed Sekhmet. High between the massive statues, a makeshift sign has been erected that hangs above the open doorway. Words inscribed in a messy but clear scrawl read: I am the way into eternal grief; abandon every hope, all you who enter.

*****

Inner-diverse-front-cover-WEBInner Diverse is the second book of The Splintered Universe Trilogy:

When Galactic Guardian Rhea Hawke investigates the genocide of an entire spiritual sect, she collides not only with dark intrigue but with her own tarnished past. Her quest for justice catapults Rhea into the heart of a universal struggle across alien landscapes of cruel beauty and toward an unbearable truth she’s hidden from herself since she murdered an innocent man.

Get the complete Splintered Universe Trilogy. Available in ALL THREE FORMATS: print, ebook, and audiobook. You can listen to a sample recording of Outer Diverse, Inner Diverse, and Metaverse through Audible.

audible listen

Microsoft Word - trilogy-poster03.docx

GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY!

Rhea likes to use proverbs as barbs and to unhinge her opponent when she gets nervous or feels trapped. Send me a good proverb for Rhea to use and I will send you a code to obtain a free Audiobook from Audible. Codes are limited, so it will be first come, first serve until we’re out. Send your proverb to Nina Munteanu at: nina.sfgirl[at]gmail.com.

 

 

nina-2014aaa

Nina Munteanu is a Canadian ecologist / limnologist and novelist. She is co-editor of Europa SF and currently teaches writing courses at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. Visit www.ninamunteanu.ca for the latest on her books. Nina’s bilingual “La natura dell’acqua / The Way of Water” was published by Mincione Edizioni in Rome. Her non-fiction book “Water Is…” by Pixl Press (Vancouver) was selected by Margaret Atwood in the New York Times ‘Year in Reading’ and was chosen as the 2017 Summer Read by Water Canada. Her novel “A Diary in the Age of Water” will be released by Inanna Publications (Toronto) in 2020.

 

 

Who Is Rhea Hawke?

 

 

Rhea-courtyard01

Rhea Hawke (Vali Gurgu)

We look a little more closely at what makes Rhea Hawke the Galactic Guardian Enforcer she is:

Date and place of birth Twenty-three years ago, 192 SGT, in Vancouver, Canada; daughter of Laura Wood and Colonel Mark Hawke. The story goes that Hawke was shot down in the Vos invasion of Earth when Laura was six months pregnant with Rhea—just as the Eosians came to rescue Earth from annihilation.
Physical attributes Face dominated by strong features for a woman: a long, almost aquiline nose and full mouth framed by well-defined cheek bones and a firm jaw. Face framed by dark, long, wavy hair, which Rhea tends to tie back when she’s working. She stands at 6-feet—tall for a human female but short for the Galaxy among very tall aliens. Nevertheless, she carries a long confident stride.
Idiosyncrasy A tendency to bluster and bluff with biting sarcasm when under attack. She often recites a wise proverb when she’s nervous. Rhea hides her kindness and compassion—even from herself—with an arrogant, overly-confident and alienating composure.
Job Galactic Guardian Enforcer. Rhea joined when she was fifteen. She served as an Enforcer-in-training for two years then became a full Galactic Enforcer at seventeen—over much protest from the rest of the Eosian Precinct.
Weapon of choice MEC (Mechanical-Electro-Concussion) pistol, a solid hand gun of her own design. In a single sweep, the wave-weapon can maim, render unconscious or kill according to someone’s DNA.
Clothing of choice Black Enforcer clothes and her Great Coat, made of intelligent material that protects, alerts, and enhances her abilities in her work.
First injury as an Enforcer A long wound on her lower left buttock from the slash of a dool blade; she’d received it in a skirmish with Venik slave traders who had ambushed her on EpsEri 2. It was before she learned how to handle her Great Coat.
Most loved 1) Her tappin, Jasper, a cat-like stray she feeds and sleeps with when she’s home.
2) Benny, her AI ship, who has a sense of humour and excellent taste in music;
3) Serge, the mysterious seductive art collector (before her discovery)
Most hated 1) The Vos, who invaded the galaxy and killed her father.
2) The Eosians, who saved Earth from annihilation by the Vos. It’s complicated. Rhea calls them baldies (given they are completely hairless).
3) Serge (after her discovery)
Most ironic Rhea signed on with the Galactic Guardians, Rhea as the only human amid only Eosians—who she hates.
Favourite drink/drug Rhea likes to drink soyka, a coffee-like soy-based stimulant. She is addicted to soyka gum and relies on it when she is nervous. Despite telling Laura Dob of Galaxy News that her favourite drinking place is the Muddy Pit in the Hive, Rhea very seldom goes there.
Dark secret Rhea has several, but the best ones she isn’t even aware of.

 

Here is some backstory to the present:

Splintered Universe         ~Timeline~            Book I: Outer Diverse

Detail When Date
Azaes makes contact with Earth 215 years ago 0 SGT
Genevieve Dubois crash lands on Eos and returns to Earth with first alien contact 200 years ago 15 SGT
Azaes murdered, Genevieve escapes into countryside and gives birth to Diana 199 years ago 16 SGT
Diana Wood born (daughter of Azaes and Genevieve Dubois, 51) and lives in seclusion 199 years ago 16 SGT
Laura Wood (Hawke) born (daughter of Diana Wood, 110, and an unknown mate [Vos shape-shifter, Ka]) 110 years ago 105 SGT
Spiritual leaders share dream of Borrias;

Eosians end their isolation to form Galactic Guardians and research the galaxy, terraforming

100 years ago 115 SGT
Vos destroy Bor, begin siege of Earth 30 years ago 185 SGT
Eosians take on the Vos, colonize Earth (eventually defeat the Vos in five years) 29 years ago 186 SGT
Rhea Hawke born (daughter of Laura, 87, and Ennos, [Vos] ageless) 23 years ago 192 SGT
Rhea (at age 5) melts U’clid 18 years ago 197 SGT
Rhea joins Galactic Guardians at age 15 8 years ago 207 SGT
present 215 SGT

Inner-diverse-front-cover-WEB

Inner Diverse is the second book of The Splintered Universe Trilogy:

When Galactic Guardian Rhea Hawke investigates the genocide of an entire spiritual sect, she collides not only with dark intrigue but with her own tarnished past. Her quest for justice catapults Rhea into the heart of a universal struggle across alien landscapes of cruel beauty and toward an unbearable truth she’s hidden from herself since she murdered an innocent man.

Get the complete Splintered Universe Trilogy. Available in ALL THREE FORMATS: print, ebook, and audiobook. You can listen to a sample recording of Outer Diverse, Inner Diverse, and Metaverse through Audible.

audible listen

Microsoft Word - Trilogy-Vcon-AD-2.docx

GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY!

Rhea likes to use proverbs as barbs and to unhinge her opponent when she gets nervous or feels trapped. Send me a good proverb for Rhea to use and I will send you a code to obtain a free Audiobook from Audible. Codes are limited, so it will be first come, first serve until we’re out. Send your proverb to Nina Munteanu at: nina.sfgirl[at]gmail.com.

 

nina-2014aaa

Nina Munteanu is a Canadian ecologist / limnologist and novelist. She is co-editor of Europa SF and currently teaches writing courses at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. Visit www.ninamunteanu.ca for the latest on her books. Nina’s bilingual “La natura dell’acqua / The Way of Water” was published by Mincione Edizioni in Rome. Her non-fiction book “Water Is…” by Pixl Press (Vancouver) was selected by Margaret Atwood in the New York Times ‘Year in Reading’ and was chosen as the 2017 Summer Read by Water Canada. Her novel “A Diary in the Age of Water” will be released by Inanna Publications (Toronto) in 2020.

Impossible Love…

EXCERPT from Chapter One of Outer Diverse. Armed with information on the recent Schiss massacre, Galactic Guardian detective Rhea Hawke travels to the planet Horus (47 Uma a) in the 47 Ursae Majoris system to confront the sage Ka—a hawk-like being and gatekeeper of the Schiss Order—to convince him to permit her to travel to Paradise City on Horus’s moon Uma 1: she needs to warn Rashomon, one of the remaining Schiss priests, of an attempt to assassinate him.

Rhea library02

Rhea Hawke (Vali Gurgu)

Thinking of Serge’s possible mission if he was who I thought he was, I decided to pursue my quest more forcefully. “Rashomon might be in grave danger now … from an assassin.”

“Indeed,” Ka said too casually for my taste. He continued to walk placidly down the archway.

“I must warn him. Prepare him.”

“Really?” he returned in a voice of challenge. “One assassin to take care of another?” I felt his tone slightly mocking as he aimed a pointed glance from my sidearm, holstered in plain view, to my heating face. “You honestly think that you can make a difference?”

I decided to tell him the truth. “I think the assassin is already on Uma 1. I might be able to help. I … know him.” I swallowed convulsively, hand in my pocket and feeling for the info-pod Bas had given me. “He’s a shapeshifter and I can recognize them no matter what shape they take on.”

Ka frowned and nodded as if to himself. “You are presumptuous, Rhea Hawke. You speak half-truths. You are a paradox,” he said. “So out of tune, a jumble of discord. Yet, surprisingly open for one so closed. You’re very cynical for one so young. But also incredibly naïve for one so cynical.”

I felt my jaw clench with discomfort at his self-conflicting prognosis of me. How could anyone be naïve and cynical at the same time? I hated being analyzed or judged. But I remained calm. I had to convince this old philosopher to give me a permit to travel to Uma 1 do I could warn Rashomon…and find Serge.

I decided to go with another one of my Plan B’s: a gamble based on psychology—not my strong suit: “I know that one reason Rashamon remains in isolation is because he fears shape-shifters.” I’d finally captured Ka’s undivided attention. I dove in. “I can provide Rashomon with unequivocal proof.” I pulled out my MEC. “This device can detect shapeshifters. I could let him use it on his staff and visitors.”

“A weapon?” Ka glared from my weapon of destruction to me.

“A tool,” I cut in. “As a tool. I can set it to detect. Only detect. There would be absolutely no danger.”

Ka went silent for some moments. I decided that was a good thing. He hadn’t dismissed my offer outright. Then he finally spoke in a musical voice, “I sense that you are a seeker of the truth; yet you willingly harbor much that is untrue.”

My brows furrowed, and I felt the side of my mouth twitch up in puzzlement. That wasn’t a “yes”, I decided.

 

OuterDiverse-front coverOuter Diverse is the first book of The Splintered Universe Trilogy:

When Galactic Guardian Rhea Hawke investigates the genocide of an entire spiritual sect, she collides not only with dark intrigue but with her own tarnished past. Her quest for justice catapults Rhea into the heart of a universal struggle across alien landscapes of cruel beauty and toward an unbearable truth she’s hidden from herself since she murdered an innocent man.

Get the complete Splintered Universe Trilogy. Available in ALL THREE FORMATS: print, ebook, and audiobook. You can listen to a sample recording of Outer Diverse, Inner Diverse, and Metaverse through Audible.

audible listen

Microsoft Word - trilogy-poster03.docx

GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY!

Rhea likes to use proverbs as barbs and to unhinge her opponent when she gets nervous or feels trapped. Send me a good proverb for Rhea to use and I will send you a code to obtain a free Audiobook from Audible. Codes are limited, so it will be first come, first serve until we’re out. Send your proverb to Nina Munteanu at: nina.sfgirl[at]gmail.com.

 

 

nina-2014aaa

Nina Munteanu is a Canadian ecologist / limnologist and novelist. She is co-editor of Europa SF and currently teaches writing courses at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. Visit www.ninamunteanu.ca for the latest on her books. Nina’s bilingual “La natura dell’acqua / The Way of Water” was published by Mincione Edizioni in Rome. Her non-fiction book “Water Is…” by Pixl Press (Vancouver) was selected by Margaret Atwood in the New York Times ‘Year in Reading’ and was chosen as the 2017 Summer Read by Water Canada. Her novel “A Diary in the Age of Water” will be released by Inanna Publications (Toronto) in 2020.

Rhea’s Proverbs

OuterDiverse-front coverAs part of her liberal use of sarcasm, detective Rhea Hawke often plucks a choice phrase from her well-stocked collection of Earth proverbs when she confronts a challenging adversary or situation. Look for these in Outer Diverse:

Talking without thinking is like shooting without aiming … Old Chinese proverb.”—Rhea Hawke

The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it—old Chinese proverb.”—Rhea Hawke

“The Jewish have a proverb,” I growled in his ear, hearing him whimper as my grip tightened. “Don’t open a shop unless you know how to smile.”—Rhea Hawke

The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected: old Swedish proverb.”—Rhea Hawke

A hunting dog will eventually lose its life on the mountain—old Chinese proverb.”—Rhea Hawke

First rule of engagement: never underestimate your enemy, especially if she’s a human—Rhea’s proverb.”—Rhea Hawke

There’s another Chinese proverb that says: Don’t chase a dog into a blind alley—it might snap at you.”—Rhea Hawke

“When you go up to the mountain often, you will eventually encounter the tiger—Chinese proverb.”—Rhea Hawke

CoverI04

Rhea Hawke (Vali Gurgu)

When Galactic Guardian Rhea Hawke investigates the genocide of an entire spiritual sect, she collides not only with dark intrigue but with her own tarnished past. Her quest for justice catapults Rhea into the heart of a universal struggle across alien landscapes of cruel beauty and toward an unbearable truth she’s hidden from herself since she murdered an innocent man.

 

Get the complete Splintered Universe Trilogy. Available in ALL THREE FORMATS: print, ebook, and audiobook. You can listen to a sample recording of Outer Diverse, Inner Diverse, and Metaverse through Audible.

audible listen

Microsoft Word - trilogy-poster03.docx

GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY!

Rhea likes to use proverbs as barbs and to unhinge her opponent when she gets nervous or feels trapped. Send me a good proverb for Rhea to use and I will send you a code to obtain a free Audiobook from Audible. Codes are limited, so it will be first come, first serve until we’re out. Send your proverb to Nina Munteanu at: nina.sfgirl[at]gmail.com.

 

nina-2014aaa

Nina Munteanu is a Canadian ecologist / limnologist and novelist. She is co-editor of Europa SF and currently teaches writing courses at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. Visit www.ninamunteanu.ca for the latest on her books. Nina’s bilingual “La natura dell’acqua / The Way of Water” was published by Mincione Edizioni in Rome. Her non-fiction book “Water Is…” by Pixl Press (Vancouver) was selected by Margaret Atwood in the New York Times ‘Year in Reading’ and was chosen as the 2017 Summer Read by Water Canada. Her novel “A Diary in the Age of Water” will be released by Inanna Publications (Toronto) in 2020.

Love’s Labour’s Lost…

EXCERPT from Chapter One of Outer Diverse; Galactic Guardian Detective Rhea Hawke sprawls, broken, in the acid-rain mud of an AI-run city—her chase gone terribly awry. Rhea had just jacked the particle-wave stream to the ancient dusty solar system of Fomalhaut, a bright isolated star below the galactic plane about twenty-five light-years from Earth. She’d chased the Dust smuggler V’mer to the sentient city on Mar Delena, home of the largest Dust-addict population in the galaxy:

Rhea-marsh02

Rhea Hawke (Vali Gurgu)

My heart pounded up my throat. I gazed past the long barrel of the Q-gun drilled into my face to V’mer’s menacing grin. The shapeshifter bent over me like a vulture as I lay on my back in the mud. My chest heaved with pain and acid rain stung my eyes, forcing me to blink.

“Now whose fear do you smell, bitch?” V’mer snarled. He shoved the gun further up my nose. The sour smell of congealing blood cloyed in my nostrils. I gulped in sobbing breaths, tasting blood. V’mer sneered down at me out of yet another alien face he’d taken on. He’d assumed the giant form of a hairless purple-skinned Eosian. He’d literally torn out of his clothes. Rain sluiced down the smooth muscular flesh of his naked body, and his bald head shone in the amber street light. “I heard about you,” he went on. “Rhea Hawke, the only human Galactic Enforcer. She loved baldies so much she tecked herself into one—”

I squirmed up in sudden rage, but he slammed his boot hard on my torn shoulder and laughed sharply. I seized in an agonized breath and let my head fall back. White spots strobed in front of my eyes.

“You’re one to talk,” I hissed out between wheezing breaths and fought against passing out.

“You mean the form I’ve taken on? I did it so you could feast on my magnificent body and use your baldie tecks to smell all of me.” He barked out a stuttering laugh. “Wanna kiss me, Officer Hawke?” He went into a mock sing-song: “Rhea, scare-ya, wouldn’t you cry? She kissed the baldies and made them die …”

Alarm seized my heart. How did V’mer know about that malicious tease at the precinct?

V’mer let his laugh die down to a frown of concentration and stroked his face, mock-philosopher style. “Or is it more that you hate your own kind so much …?”

My eyelids involuntarily fluttered shut, and I felt myself slide into darkness. How did it come to this? It was only minutes ago that I was the one in control …

OuterDiverse-front coverOuter Diverse is the first book of The Splintered Universe Trilogy:

When Galactic Guardian Rhea Hawke investigates the genocide of an entire spiritual sect, she collides not only with dark intrigue but with her own tarnished past. Her quest for justice catapults Rhea into the heart of a universal struggle across alien landscapes of cruel beauty and toward an unbearable truth she’s hidden from herself since she murdered an innocent man.

Get the complete Splintered Universe Trilogy. Available in ALL THREE FORMATS: print, ebook, and audiobook.

audible listen

Microsoft Word - trilogy-poster03.docx

GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY!

Rhea likes to use proverbs as barbs and to unhinge her opponent when she gets nervous or feels trapped. Send me a good proverb for Rhea to use and I will send you a code to obtain a free Audiobook from Audible. Codes are limited, so it will be first come, first serve until we’re out. Send your proverb to Nina Munteanu at: nina.sfgirl[at]gmail.com.

nina-2014aaa

Nina Munteanu is a Canadian ecologist / limnologist and novelist. She is co-editor of Europa SF and currently teaches writing courses at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. Visit www.ninamunteanu.ca for the latest on her books. Nina’s bilingual “La natura dell’acqua / The Way of Water” was published by Mincione Edizioni in Rome. Her non-fiction book “Water Is…” by Pixl Press (Vancouver) was selected by Margaret Atwood in the New York Times ‘Year in Reading’ and was chosen as the 2017 Summer Read by Water Canada. Her novel “A Diary in the Age of Water” will be released by Inanna Publications (Toronto) in 2020.

 

The Splintered Universe, Book 1: “Outer Diverse” Audiobook

 

 

OuterDiverse-front coverOuter Diverse is the first book of the Splintered Universe Trilogy, set in and around the Milky Way Galaxy. The first book begins as Galactic Guardian Detective Rhea Hawke investigates the massacre of an entire religious sect, catapulting her into a treacherous storm of politics, conspiracy and self-discovery. Her quest for justice leads her into the heart of a universal struggle and toward an unbearable truth she’s hidden from herself since she murdered an innocent man.

Dab of Darkness summarizes the audiobook:

I had the pleasure to listen to this book 5 or 6 years ago, and I really enjoyed it then. I’m very pleased to say that this book has stood up well over the years. Rhea Hawke is still the bad ass I want to be when I grow up. I love her dress sense (boots, weapons, sentient great coat), her sorta pet tappin (kinda a cat with 3 tails), and her best friend Benny, who is the AI on her little work-issued spaceship. Alas, she messed up big time at work (the Galactic Guardians, which is way more bureaucratic than it sounds), and she lost all but her boot and her sorta cat.

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Rhea Hawke (Vali Gurgu)

While wallowing in her self-pity, wondering what to do with her life now, she joins a gym where she meets Serge. He’s way more sexy than his name hints at. Pretty soon, she’s spending nearly all her time at his place. She’s held back from snooping into his past, as she would have done in a heart beat when she worked for the Guardians. That’s going to come back to bite her in the butt.

 

I especially enjoyed the tangled relationship she has with her mom. She loves her (maybe) but hates her too (and definitely hates that she sleeps around so much!). But her mom has kept some really big secrets from her and that had to sting, so I see her point most of the time.

So many aliens! I love this aspect to the story because humans aren’t the focus. In fact, they are basically an endangered species. Barely tolerated in most civilized places, Rhea has had to work twice as hard to prove herself worthy. She’d rather do that than take the path her mom did (free love).

Then there’s the evil Vos. Cue evil laughter. So many rumors about what they can do, what atrocities they have done. I know it’s quite silly, but I love this because that’s my last name, minus and S, pronounced the same way. Hahaha! If I lived in Rhea’s universe, I’d have to change my last name or risk being shot on sight…

Dawn Harvey does a great job with all the different alien voices. She really went the extra mile, making them sound as described in the text of the story. I don’t know how she made some of those voices, but they really worked!…The pacing is perfect. Her voice for Rhea is spot on – a hero that is sometimes vulnerable.

SplinteredUniverseTrilogy-Amazon

The trilogy consists of Outer Diverse, Inner Diverse, and Metaverse. and is available in ALL THREE FORMATS: print, ebook, and audiobook.

You can listen to a sample recording of Outer Diverse, Inner Diverse, and Metaverse through Audible.

audible listen

GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY!

Rhea likes to use proverbs as barbs and to unhinge her opponent when she gets nervous or feels trapped. Send me a good proverb for Rhea to use and I will send you a code to obtain a free Audiobook from Audible. Codes are limited, so it will be first come, first serve until we’re out. Send your proverb to Nina Munteanu at: nina.sfgirl[at]gmail.com.

Nina Munteanu’s story is full of surprises, full of action and twists and I liked it so much!Lilly’s Book World

 

An addictive start to the trilogy!Book Addict

 

A feast for the senses; glorious worlds with complex inhabitants hurtle towards our unprepared ears—QuirkyMezzo23

 

I want to grow up to be Rhea HawkeDabOfDarkness

nina-2014aaa

Nina Munteanu is a Canadian ecologist / limnologist and novelist. She is co-editor of Europa SF and currently teaches writing courses at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. Visit www.ninamunteanu.ca for the latest on her books. Nina’s bilingual “La natura dell’acqua / The Way of Water” was published by Mincione Edizioni in Rome. Her non-fiction book “Water Is…” by Pixl Press (Vancouver) was selected by Margaret Atwood in the New York Times ‘Year in Reading’ and was chosen as the 2017 Summer Read by Water Canada. Her novel “A Diary in the Age of Water” will be released by Inanna Publications (Toronto) in 2020.

Rhea Hawke Gets Fired…

EXCERPT from Chapter Two of Outer Diverse, Book 1 of The Splintered Universe Trilogy: Galactic Guardian Detective Rhea Hawke sits in her boss’s office after she kills a lead in a skirmish before she is able to acquire critical information on a case. Hawke insists that the Vos (an alien race that had previously attacked Earth) are linked to the spiritual sect massacre she is investigating.

Rhea library02

Rhea Hawke (Vali Gurgu)

“You don’t get it, Hawke,” he cut me off, smacking the table with his large hand. “I’m not just taking you off the case; I’m closing it. You’re the only proponent of a Vos link and you keep killing your witnesses. We’ll pursue the spiritual killings some other way, with other—less controversial—operatives, but we’re not chasing some Vos-related fantasy. You’re the only one who believes that the Vos have something to do with Eclipse’s Uma-1 massacre and The Rose’s hit list. There’s nothing here to show me that the Vos have returned or intend to. It’s over, Hawke.” He snapped the dossier shut with a finality that made me flinch.

With that final move, he’d nullified my last two months of work: the countless hours of research; dogging subversives and terrorists across the galaxy to dark alleys and smoky back rooms of seedy bars on nameless planets; the needless sacrifices made by colleagues, not to mention my own blunders. With the case shut, Asphalios, even V’mer, had died for nothing.

“I went along with your crazy hunch,” Ennos continued savagely. “Now I’m cutting it loose. This investigation is over. You’ve done enough damage. I want your gun, your badge, and your Great Coat. We’ve impounded Benny.”

He was leading to this but it hit me like a MEC concussion wave anyway. I swallowed the saliva collecting in my mouth and kept swallowing down the ache that rose in my throat. A sudden tremble shook me. Tears stung the backs of my eyes and threatened to close my throat. He was firing me. Only, Ennos couldn’t do it outright. He was too soft on me. Because of my mother. He was trying to ease me out by convincing me it was my idea. Mouth compressing to a thin line, I commanded myself not to cry in front of him; I’d never cried in front of anyone. But I couldn’t say what I wanted to say or the dam would break and the tears would flow. I could only stare at him with the eyes of a wounded animal, pleading and glaring at the same time.

“Hand them over,” Ennos said, taking advantage of my silence. He motioned to me impatiently with his hand, eyes shifting away.

I fumbled shakily for the sobek wallet that held my Enforcer badge and slammed it a little harder than I’d intended on the desk. Then I pulled out my slim pocket pistol from an inside fold of my Great Coat and placed it on the desk beside the badge.

“The MEC too,” Ennos said. “You know the rules,” he reminded me. “It’s non-regulation. No civilian is permitted to have a non-regulation weapon or to carry anything higher than a Class D.”

I sucked in a long breath then snapped open the holster on my thigh and surrendered my MEC alongside the pocket.

Ennos scowled at the gun. My weapon of senseless destruction, he’d called it. Yet he’d pleaded for the design earlier, then bullied me with threats of confiscation after I’d demonstrated the MEC’s capability for devastation.

“Just so you know, sir,” I said, hand resting on the weapon and eyes pinning his, “if anyone tries to design this MEC from its parts, they’ll never succeed, because I rigged a failsafe mechanism based on an algorithm only I know. It’ll be useless.”

Then I slowly let go. Ennos’s face remained stony cold but I thought I noticed it twitch and his eyes briefly falter.

“The coat,” he said.

After another moment of hesitation, I shrugged out of my Great Coat, the Enforcer’s real badge. My shield. I folded it carefully and slowly, stroking the smooth sentient fabric with trembling hands, then placed it on top of the badge and weapons. I stood rigid in my black sleeveless top and trousers, arms hanging stiff at my sides and fighting off shivers. I felt naked.

“That’s all, Hawke,” Ennos muttered. He avoided my eyes and waved a dismissive hand while finding some files to study. “Get your personal things in Stores. Take a holiday in the Rec-Center. Find your life again,” he ended, not bothering to look up, and I knew I’d been dismissed. And fired.

OuterDiverse-front coverOuter Diverse is the first book of The Splintered Universe Trilogy:

When Galactic Guardian Rhea Hawke investigates the genocide of an entire spiritual sect, she collides not only with dark intrigue but with her own tarnished past. Her quest for justice catapults Rhea into the heart of a universal struggle across alien landscapes of cruel beauty and toward an unbearable truth she’s hidden from herself since she murdered an innocent man.

Get the complete Splintered Universe Trilogy. Available in ALL THREE FORMATS: print, ebook, and audiobook. You can listen to a sample recording of Outer Diverse, Inner Diverse, and Metaverse through Audible.

audible listen

Microsoft Word - Trilogy-Vcon-AD-2.docx

GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY!

Rhea likes to use proverbs as barbs and to unhinge her opponent when she gets nervous or feels trapped. Send me a good proverb for Rhea to use and I will send you a code to obtain a free Audiobook from Audible. Codes are limited, so it will be first come, first serve until we’re out. Send your proverb to Nina Munteanu at: nina.sfgirl[at]gmail.com.

nina-2014aaa

Nina Munteanu is a Canadian ecologist / limnologist and novelist. She is co-editor of Europa SF and currently teaches writing courses at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. Visit www.ninamunteanu.ca for the latest on her books. Nina’s bilingual “La natura dell’acqua / The Way of Water” was published by Mincione Edizioni in Rome. Her non-fiction book “Water Is…” by Pixl Press (Vancouver) was selected by Margaret Atwood in the New York Times ‘Year in Reading’ and was chosen as the 2017 Summer Read by Water Canada. Her novel “A Diary in the Age of Water” will be released by Inanna Publications (Toronto) in 2020.

Why Ya Gotta Listen to The Splintered Universe Audiobook Trilogy

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Rhea Hawke (Vali Gurgu)

Because of Dawn Harvey. It’s that simple.

If you haven’t listened to a book narration by voice actor Dawn Harvey before, you’re in for a treat. When I first embarked on this audiobook project, I had no idea what to expect. I give full credit to the original audiobook publisher, Iambik, who have since closed their doors (my books are currently carried and produced by Audible). Iambik introduced me to Dawn Harvey. She was one of three narrators they’d short-listed for me to audition. I had a short bio of each narrator along with a sample of their reading.

You can listen to samples from all three books here:

audible listen

I knew nothing about the process of narration or turning my print book into an audiobook. But, I did know what I needed in the voice of my book:

  1. The story is told in the first person by Galactic Guardian Rhea Hawke, a cynical angry human in a world of aliens; Rhea hates the colleagues she works with. They consider her puny and incompetent and rash and they continually remind her of some of her earlier disastrous mistakes. Rhea’s voice had to reflect a gritty hardness and sarcasm, while betraying a hidden compassion and kindness. Dawn’s voice nailed it. Dark and rich like a good cup of coffee, Dawn captured Rhea completely. The grit. The hardness. The irony. The vulnerability lurking beneath it all.
  2. The story takes place throughout the galaxy and Rhea encounters over twenty different alien species—all of which needed a distinct voice when conversing with her. Dawn showed incredible versatility in capturing their voices according to the alien’s morphology and culture, which I provided. One of the aliens has five mouths and speaks in a multi-timbral voice; Dawn successfully portrayed it.

OuterDiverse-audiobook-IambikI was so impressed when I listened to the final recording of Outer Diverse (the first book in the trilogy). It was as though I was experiencing the story for the first time—as if I hadn’t written it myself—I was right there, exploring with Rhea Hawke, journeying to the outer planets of the galaxy. Dawn had breathed life into my character and my story. I was totally unprepared for my reaction. Voice artists would explain her techniques: her prepared pauses, tone, speed, inflections, etc. I knew they were there. But that didn’t seem to matter; what mattered was that she’d embraced both my main character and the story and it all came out in her voice.

So, give The Splintered Universe Audiobook trilogy a listen and treat yourself to the entertaining narration of Dawn Harvey. Check out the fawn-like Fauche, raptor-like Khonsus, Azorians, burly Badowins, the amoeba-like Ngu and chameleon-like Xhix. Tell me what you think.

Microsoft Word - Document1

The trilogy consists of Outer Diverse, Inner Diverse, and Metaverse. and is available in ALL THREE FORMATS: print, ebook, and audiobook. You can listen to a sample recording of Outer Diverse, Inner Diverse, and Metaverse through Audible.

audible listen

Microsoft Word - Trilogy-Vcon-AD-2.docx

GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY! GIVE AWAY!

Rhea likes to use proverbs as barbs and to unhinge her opponent when she gets nervous or feels trapped. Send me a good proverb for Rhea to use and I will send you a code to obtain a free Audiobook from Audible. Codes are limited, so it will be first come, first serve until we’re out. Send your proverb to Nina Munteanu at: nina.sfgirl[at]gmail.com.

An addictive start to the trilogy!Book Addict

A feast for the senses; glorious worlds with complex inhabitants hurtle towards our unprepared ears—QuirkyMezzo23

I want to grow up to be Rhea HawkeDabOfDarkness

Rhea courtyard03

Detective Rhea Hawke (Vali Gurgu)

 

nina-2014aaa

Nina Munteanu is a Canadian ecologist / limnologist and novelist. She is co-editor of Europa SF and currently teaches writing courses at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. Visit www.ninamunteanu.ca for the latest on her books. Nina’s bilingual “La natura dell’acqua / The Way of Water” was published by Mincione Edizioni in Rome. Her non-fiction book “Water Is…” by Pixl Press (Vancouver) was selected by Margaret Atwood in the New York Times ‘Year in Reading’ and was chosen as the 2017 Summer Read by Water Canada. Her novel “A Diary in the Age of Water” will be released by Inanna Publications (Toronto) in 2020.

Audiobook Blog Tour of The Splintered Universe Trilogy: Book 3 “Metaverse”

We continue our Audiobook series blog tour with Book 3 “Metaverse” of Nina Munteanu’s “The Splintered Universe Trilogy,” a science fiction detective adventure, starring the indomitable Galactic Guardian, Rhea Hawke.

full-cover-final copy

 

“Dawn Harvey breathed incredible life into the lead character, Rhea Hawke–both sarcastic and vulnerable at the same time; a detective with a cynical edge, and sultry voice tinged with wiry sarcasm. The story unfolded through Rhea’s narrative like an old film noir as she unraveled mysteries that led to the greatest one: her own.”–Amazon Review

Book 1, Outer Diverse: January 8-14
Book 2, Inner Diverse: January 15-21
Book 3, Metaverse: January 21-28

The tour with blog sites includes spotlights, reviews, audio excerpts, Rhea’s proverbs, character profiles, guest posts, interviews of author, narrator (and character Rhea Hawke!)

Join the third part of the audiobook tour with “Metaverse“, the last book of the trilogy.

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In Metaverse (Book Three) the scintillating conclusion of the Splintered Universe Trilogy, Rhea Hawke travels back to Earth, hoping to convince an eccentric mystic to help her defend humanity from an impending Vos attack–only to find herself trapped in a deception that promises to change her and her two worlds forever.

 

“An action packed adventure! I really enjoyed the narration by Harvey for this second book. She has a large cast of characters to portray and she did them all excellently! I felt like each was easily distinguishable and had their own quirks. The story … had a great amount of action to keep me interested the whole time. I feel like I truly understand more about this crazy and exciting world. I can’t wait to see how this all ends up, but I’m now 100% invested in Reah and her companions! ”–The Book Addict 

TOUR SCHEDULE for METAVERSE

Follow the itinerary for “METAVERSE“, Book 3 of the trilogy (Jan 22-28):

Jan. 22nd:
Assorted Nonsense (Spotlight + Audio Excerpt, Rhea’s Proverbs)

Jan. 23rd:
Lilly’s Book World (Review, Spotlight + Audio Excerpt)

Jan. 24th:
Book Addict (Review, Spotlight + Audio Excerpt, Interview with Rhea Hawke, Rhea’s lexicon Giveaway)

Jan. 25th:
Dab of Darkness Book Reviews (Review, Interview with Rhea Hawke, Splintered Universe Lexicon)

Jan. 26th:
Jazzy Book Reviews (Spotlight + Audio Excerpt, Rhea’s lexicon, Giveaway)

Jan. 27th:
The Book Addict’s Reviews (Audio Excerpt, Character Interview, Rhea’s lexicon)

Jan. 28th:
Chapter Break (Spotlight + Audio Excerpt, Character Interview)

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“A master of metaphor, Munteanu turns an adventure story into a wonderland of alien rabbit holes… a fascinating and enthralling read.” (Craig Bowlsby, author of Commander’s Log)

“A rollicking science fiction plot with all the trappings…Hawke is a maverick in the wild west tradition…a genetic mystery with lethal powers.” (Lynda Williams, author of Okal Rel series)

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What a rollicking tour it’s been! If you missed any of it, just go back to the previous posts here to find the archived blog posts of the tour.