The first round of the Self Publishing Science Fiction Competition 2 is over! All teams have announced their semi-finalists and the fearless leader of the Wayward Stars, The Shaggy Shepherd, has the full post with scores on her blog. The final scores are a group effort, an average of all our individual scores. Not everyone read every book for different reasons but that’s life. Not every book is for everyone, and sometimes life does get in the way. Still, I’m very excited for the books we send through for other teams to be judged.
The second round of SPSFC2 is where we’ll decide on the seven finalists. Every team will read the semi-finalists of two other teams, so six books. We’ll score them again and all the scores across the teams will be combined to determine the seven highest rated books. The final round we have to read all the finalists. If we’re unlucky, we’ll have to read seven books. If we’re lucky, we’ll have to read less. At the end of the second round, we’ll have read nine out of the thirty semi-finalists so there’s a good chance we don’t have to read all of them.
Our Semi-finalist picks
Tropical Punch by S.C. Jensen
Read my review
Strippers, Drugs, and Headless Corpses…
All in a day’s work for Bubbles Marlowe, HoloCity’s only cyborg detective.
What do an anti-tech cult, a deadly new street drug, and the corrupt Chief of Police have in common?
It’s a question Bubbles can’t afford to ask. Last time she got curious it cost her job, a limb, and almost her life.
She vows to stay out of police business. But with a newly minted cybernetic enhancement, a semi-legal P.I. license, and a knack for asking the wrong kind of questions… Vows are made to be broken, right?
When a seemingly straightforward contract takes a dark turn, heads literally roll. Unless she wants to take the fall for the murders Bubbles needs to cut town on the double. Too bad she’s flat broke.
And now, she’s being hunted.
In a world where dreams can be made real for the right kind of dough, nothing is as it seems. One thing is clear, though. The dream is becoming a nightmare.
As the body count stacks up, Bubbles realizes she’s made a terrible mistake.
Can she figure out who is behind the murders before she loses her head?
Warning: Don’t read this book if you hate fun, glitter, sassy robotic pigs, or hard-boiled badassery. Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett are rolling in their graves, but this is all their fault.
Clarity of Cold Steel by Kevin Wright
Read my review
The kid disappeared two days ago. Missing. Abducted. Murdered. What have you… Just another in an endless line of indigent kids wrung from the dregs of the Machine City.
And now it’s my job to find him.
Me. Avinash Singh, detective extraordinaire. Probably you’ve not heard of me. Not if you run the straight and narrow and ply the right side of the tracks. Cause me? I ply the other.
Two days missing…
Two long days in the Machine City, last bastion of mankind in all its fallen glory. Where the sum total of life’s cheaper than in part.
I hope I find the kid. By God, I do. But if I can’t find all of him, I pray I find none.
Join Detective Singh in this gritty steampunk thriller sure to set your blood to boil.
Titan Hoppers by Rob J Hayes
Read my review
Courage Iro will shatter the Gates of Power to protect his fleet.
Born talentless, Iro has all but resigned himself to a life of drudgery, watching his sister hop across to the massive space titan for supplies. But when the titan explodes and his sister is killed, Iro finds a new determination to take her place. He’s not about to let weakness prevent him.
When the fleet encounters a new titan, filled with powerful monsters, deadly traps, and mysterious cloaked figures, Iro is the first to spontaneously manifest a new talent. Now sent to a different ship, to train with others far beyond his strength, Iro will have to train twice as hard just to catch up.
To protect his fleet, and to uncover the mysteries of the titans, Iro won’t just open the Gates of Power. He’ll break them.
Our Round Two Allocations
Those Left Behind by N.C. Scrimgeour
A dying planet. A desperate mission. A crew facing impossible odds.
Humanity’s last hope lies with them…
Time is running out for the people of New Pallas. Nobody knows that better than Alvera Renata, a tenacious captain determined to scout past the stars with nothing but a handpicked crew and the promise she made: to find a new home for humanity.
But between navigating the dangers of dark space and playing first contact politics with a galactic civilisation already on the brink of war, Alvera soon realises keeping her word might not be as easy as she thought.
Her only hope may be the secrets of the ancient alien waystations scattered across the galaxy. The mysterious technology could be the key to humanity’s survival—or bring the unwanted attention of the long-forgotten beings who built them.
But remaining united in the face of annihilation is a lot to ask from a crew already splintering under the weight of their differences. A jaded pilot wrestling with his family’s blood-stained legacy looks for a place he can start over. A young translator desperate to leave her mark on the galaxy searches for meaning out in its lawless frontier. And Alvera reckons with the aftermath of betrayal as she fights for a way to save them all.
As they break apart to forge their own paths, Alvera and her crew all face the same question: what are they willing to sacrifice to save those left behind?
Those Left Behind is an epic, galaxy-spanning space opera full of exploration, adventure, and ancient alien mysteries. Fans of Mass Effect, The Expanse and Star Wars will love this character-driven science fiction novel—the first instalment in the Waystations Trilogy.
Reap3r by Eliot Peper
How far would you go to achieve your greatest ambition?
Nothing is what it seems in this speculative thriller about a quantum computer scientist, virologist, podcaster, venture capitalist, and assassin coming together to untangle a twisted enigma that will change the course of future history. Everyone has something to hide, and every transgression is a portal to discovery.
Taking you on a whirlwind journey from the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area to the distant shores of the Galápagos, Reap3r is a propulsive adventure that grapples with the price of progress and how technology shapes our lives and world.
Lightblade by Zamil Ahktar
One day, Jyosh will climb the heavens and slay a dragon god.
Though nothing could seem less likely for a slave, especially one whose body is too broken to cycle sunshine into destructive magical energy. Until he meets a woman who can secretly teach him the lightblade, an energy sword transmuted from sunlight, capable of changing size, shape, and performing incredible magical feats according to the wielder’s skill level.
Except she only exists in his dreams. Each hour of sleep equals a day in these shared lucid dreams, wherein he must master new lightblade abilities, bond with his teacher and other allies, and gain the fortitude to overcome his weakness and crush his enemies.
When Jyosh awakens to learn that a mysterious lightblade master, who also commands an armada of sky ships, is spreading destruction across the land, he’ll face a trial by fire against forces far more frightening than he could ever dream.
And forged from that fire, a Light Ascendent will rise.
Galaxy Cruise: The Maiden Voyage by Marcus Alexander Hart
Humanity needed a hero. It got a karaoke DJ.
Leo MacGavin is not the brightest specimen of humanity. But when he inadvertently rescues a flirty alien heiress, he’s promoted from second-rate lounge entertainer to captain of the galaxy’s most sophisticated cruise ship.
Before he can flee in terror, a human-hating executive gives Leo an ultimatum—complete the vessel’s maiden voyage or mankind’s last colony will be turned into a sewage dump. To make matters worse, a militant cyborg is undermining his authority, a giant spider is terrifying the passengers, and a sentient plant keeps stealing all the beer.
If Leo ever wants to see his home again, he’ll have to keep the guests happy through seven days of onboard antics and madcap shore excursions. As strange malfunctions tear the ship apart, can he hold his rag-tag crew together, or will he flush the last bastion of humanity down the crapper?
Debunked by Dito Abbott
Sometimes adventure knocks. Other times, it kicks the door in.
“Dearest Alexandria and Ozymandias,
If you are reading this, I have perished. My demise likely involved some manner of spiked pit or curiously fanged beast, so it’s doubtful I suffered long. Do not try to find me—the path is too perilous, and I am lost to the mortal plane. ”
When Alex and Ozzie read their grandfather’s latest “death” letter, they barely blink. Dying six times in two years has to be a record, even for an explorer as incompetent as Sir Quidby Forsythe III.
Faster than you can say “kidnapped by a giant, glowing lizard,” the Forsythe twins are dragged into a world of ancient prophecies, sarcastic swords of legend, mutant slime beasts, and a growing awareness their grandfather might be the greatest explorer in history.
With Skhaar the Annihilator hot on their trail, Ozzie and Alex must solve the mystery of Sir Quidby’s disappearance before they become the final victims of the Forsythe Curse.
Night Music by Tobias F. Cabral
The colonization of Mars has begun.
Following a rapid expansion of the manned space program due to the discovery of a potentially catastrophic Earth-crossing comet, Zubrin Base has been established on the Red Planet to oversee the capture of the rogue object.
During final preparations for a second expedition, however, contact has been lost with the outpost. Pilot Seth Boaz finds himself re-tasked for a rescue mission, one which will force him to confront his own past, as well as otherworldly forces with profound implications for humanity’s future.
A “Hard” Science Fiction space exploration novella, with affinities to the work of Greg Bear, Michael F. Flynn, and Arthur C. Clarke, NIGHT MUSIC incorporates realistic, near-future space technology and Mars mission and colonization models, as well as elements of Complexity Theory and nanotechnology. The author is a clinical psychologist, who applied that experience to the development of distinct and fleshed-out characters who speak with realistic voices.