Sunday, October 07, 2012


Walk the Fire! That's the e-book in which you'll find my latest story, Aborted Love with Chaos Motor at Lucky Pierre's! That's number 138 of The One-Thousand. You can get it here:

Or just click on the cover above.

So the book is a shared world anthology set in a universe in which there are certain fires which can each trace their origin back to one eternal fire discovered in a cave in France long ago. If you step into one of these fires, you might step out from another one, whether it's miles or light years away. You might also get lost forever, unless you're escorted by one of the Ferrymen, people who are able to navigate the space between fires safely. My fellow authors have come up with a wide variety of scenarios for stories set in this world, some of which take place in the past.

My story takes place in the future on planets far from Earth, wherein a trio of feminist revolutionaries from the Democratic Republic of the Congo are on the run, having stolen a very valuable artifact. The guy that's after them has a strong and complicated connection to one of the three. And one of the others seems just a bit insane. There's also a robot, a sociopath and snails. Lots and lots of snails.

As I post this, you have about six and a half hours left to grab a chance to win a free copy of the book from me. Hop on Twitter and retweet one of the contest tweets I've posted this weekend and you're entered to win. That's all there is to it. You can find me here: You don't even have to follow me, but it would be swell if you did.

To top it all off, here's the beginning of the story to prime your pumpiness:

by Matthew Sanborn Smith

The ocean filled her head.
Saltwater packed Shoksi's skull air-foam tight. It filled her gaping mouth and trickled down into her throat, toward her starving lungs just so. A little more. A little more.
Indroid! Shoksi's mind screamed to her onboard systems. Which way is up? Eight hundred and ninety three arrows, fluorescent orange in the green sea, swam past her vision like a school of fish. They pointed toward her feet. She flipped over and pushed her cold sluggish muscles for whatever they had left.
Shoksi broke through the skin. Her sinuses were on fire, her hearing bubbled and muted. Her throat spasmed between sucking in air and coughing up water in spatters and glugs. Through dripping curls she saw Tambi's head bobbing along the dark waters. They weren't far from a beach, thank god. Crowds hooted from the shore. The sky was pink.
“Where's Asha?” Tambi cried.
“I'll find her,” Shoksi said in a phlegm-choked voice. But as she fought for breath for the dive she saw a large form rising up beneath them. A mini-sub? Standing on top of it was that fool of a Firewalker. Asha's gloved fists broke the surface first, then her head with a great sucking gasp. Whatever she stood on knocked Shoksi off balance as it caught up all three of them. Shoksi fell back down, soaked her head again before her rear end hit the platform. She came into the air once more, wiped her fingers across her eyes and pushed her heavy hair aside. What the hell was going on?
“Yes! Yes!” Asha was shouting to the sky. She turned to the people on shore and pumped her fists. They ate it up. Whatever had rescued the three women had raised edges and began to resemble a raft as it drained. Bone white and navy blue, it sported a texture like a basketball. Shoksi felt lighter, even out of the water. Less gravity here. A low-flying seabird swooped close enough that the air smacked her as it passed.
The raft said something to them in what sounded like English.
“Lingala,” Shoksi said with a cough. “Or even French.”
"Sorry about that, ladies," the raft said in accented French, as it swept them toward the nearby shore. "People here like to exercise what they think is a sense of humor." It extended a bit of its edge into a hand shape, pointing into the air opposite the shore. A thin plastic pipe rose about six meters above the water. A Flame erupted from a brass fitting at its top. Across the sky beyond that was projected a replay of the three women emerging from that Flame and falling into the ocean below. Then idiot Asha rising from the ocean like a rockstar. The people on the beach were lined up waiting for them.
Shoksi instinctively went for her collapsible automatic. Kill them all, men first. But sadly, her hand slapped empty webbing on her pant leg. That's right. Tambi had said no weapons. Damned Tambi. Shoksi vomited a little sea water, only partially over the edge of the raft. She felt the alkaline burn of bile up inside her nose.
“What the hell kind of piece of shit Firewalker are you?” she shouted at Asha.
“Are you kidding?” Asha asked, looking down at her. “You should be thrilled! I had no idea we were going to come through alive!”
“She's not a real Firewalker,” Tambi said. Her long horse face wasn't looking at Shoksi, but toward their reception committee.
“You're telling me this now?”
“You can't let a real Firewalker in on a Church heist! You know that!”
“I'm almost a Firewalker!” Asha said.
A cloud of odd insects converged around the raft, each one hovering rather than buzzing about. Cameras. To Shoksi there was no such thing as good publicity. There were others higher up in the Culture Clash that handled that better than she did. She didn't know what this was, but she did know it wasn't part of the plan.
“Tell me you still have the motor!” Shoksi said to Tambi, remembering what had brought them to this point.
“I don't have your strength,” Tambi said holding up the little device by the handle, “But nothing would make me let go of this.”
“Thank god! Let's hope the water hasn't ruined it.”
“If it was that easy, it would have been ruined already.”
“Everybody's white.” Asha said, studying the shore. She still stood, as if this raft was her personal chariot. “I mean everybody.”
"We must be far out," Tambi said. "These people's ancestors probably left Earth when North America and Europe were still wealthy.”
“Australia,” the raft said.
“Same thing. Boat, we need to get back to that Flame. This isn't the world we wanted."
“There are plenty of other Flames on shore,” the raft said. “A lot easier to reach too.”
“Welcome to Pearth,” it said. “P-E-A-R-T-H. I guarantee you haven't seen anything like it before.”

If you want to read the rest of the story, enter to win a copy of the book on Twitter or just go buy the darned thing!

Thanks, folks!