Tag Archives: Ciarrah’s Light

The Sun Child Chronicles—fantasy with one foot in sci-fi territory

Hello readers! Progress on the Sun Child Chronicles continues. I just returned the final round of edits on Ciarrah’s Light (book 3), to the publisher, I have the mockup of a fabulous cover from Catt Ford (which I wish I could share, but can’t), and we’re rolling on to final preparations for an October release. Since I haven’t shared here in a while, I thought I’d stop in and talk about one of my favorite things about the Sun Child Chronicles—its sci-fi roots.

Ethra, main character Lucky’s home world, has little of what we think of as technology. They still use candles for light and fires for heat, and the books are full of swords and horses, talismans and spells. But I’ve mentioned before that the core of my idea for the series came from quantum physics and string theory, which proposes the likelihood of multiple dimensions, possibly with worlds proceeding in parallel fashion on each one. In the series, Ethra and Earth are twinned worlds occupying roughly the same position in space, but with varying time streams and different environments. In book three, a third world, Terrathia, is introduced, and it could not be more different from Ethra. There, science ruled, intelligence valued above all else. That proved to be a problem in the end—for the Terrathians, but also for Earth and Ethra, after the Terrathians got desperate. Here’s one of the book’s short prologues, to give you a hint of the trouble in store for Lucky, his friends, and Ethra in Ciarrah’s Light.

Pahlanus, Ancient Prime of Terrathia, sat uncomfortably in a chair made for Earthborns in the Valley City, California boardroom of an Earth enterprise known as Allied Biotech, Incorporated. The five Earthborns present, though touted as their world’s leaders in what they called “bio-development,” seemed to Pahlanus rather dull-witted. That suited his purposes, but he wondered: if these were Earth’s best minds, how had they ever managed to uncover the secrets of DNA and gene-splitting?

In many ways, though, even the crude Earthborns had advanced their technology beyond the Ethrans. To a refined Terrathian Prime, the people of Ethra seemed farmers to a man, with no more education or insight than what was required for ploughing or woodcraft. Yet Pahlanus knew this to be deceptive. In the sciences, Ethra clearly remained a backwater. Yet it had been Ethrans who’d best learned to manipulate energy with their minds, to channel that energy work into instruments, charms, and talismans for even greater strength. This excellence could be accounted for by the sheer abundance, in Ethra, of the particular energy they employed. They called it magic, but it was life force, and it sustained their world. Perhaps because of their attunement with that deep energy, Ethrans were also the first to find the double-sided, hollow, interdimensional barrier they called Naught. And, astonishingly, they’d been the first among the triplet worlds to understand the permeable nature of that boundary and exploit its weakest sections, using them as portals to other dimensional realities—other worlds.

Pahlanus shifted the pillows stuffed between his narrow Terrathian body and the arms of the chair. They provided not-quite-enough support, and the longer he sat, the more his long spine tended to curve in ways it shouldn’t, and his tall head, with only his own stiff collar to help his undeveloped muscles, seemed very heavy. Yes, he was physically uncomfortable, and alarmingly aware of it. This was another sign of Terrathian decline, which is what had brought him to this meeting.

Life-splitting, or gene-splicing as used in Earth, had been discovered in that backwater world only forty or so years earlier, but in Terrathia time had moved differently, and many generations had passed since the appropriated science had first been used in the laboratories of great Terrathian Primes. Pahlanus himself had made the key connection, adding Ethran life-force magic as a wedge to accomplish true life-splitting. With these tools, all emotional baggage—and unnecessary physicality—had been sequestered away. The Terrathian Primes were perfected, and mining lives provided all the energy needed to keep these superior beings nourished.

After many years of progress, Pahlanus was the foremost example of the end result. He was all mind, his brain capacious, attached physically to a minimal body able to handle objects and move him from place to place. His emotional “Echo,” to use a translation of the Terrathian term, had been bundled into an ethereal, barely visible form loosely bound to him by a cord of energy. For the hundreds of years he’d lived in this state, he’d been able to ignore the presence of the Echo entirely, allowing it to feed silently from the life force he consumed in lieu of material food.
Until now.

Like other Primes, Pahlanus increasingly found himself aware of both physical and emotional discomfort, for the separation from the Echo had weakened. Terrathian life force, even supplemented as it had been by the energies of Ethra and Earth, had become scarce, for in their exuberant pursuit of perfecting themselves, his kind had failed to realize the resource did not infinitely renew itself. As Terrathia died, they’d taken emergency measures and stockpiled life-force energy, enabling them to create a small, temporary, substitute world. It could not be sustained indefinitely, but it must be maintained until the Primes of Terrathia had regained sufficient strength and physicality to colonize elsewhere.
To do that, they would need a vast amount of pure life force.

Pahlanus cleared his long, serpent-slender throat, preparing to speak in the reedy remnant of his voice. He surveyed the five heavy-featured Earthborns present, and then locked his gaze on the glowing eyes of the single Ethran attendee. In a deplorably emotional quest for vengeance and power, this woman had cooperated with an experiment of Terrathian science. That test had succeeded. Though technically dead, the Ethran woman now existed and acted in a kind of quasi-location between Naught and the living worlds.
The Earthborns at last ceased their prattle and looked toward Pahlanus expectantly. He spoke, his words barely loud enough to break the silence.

“Gentlemen, my lady Liliana. We need your children.”

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Filed under Harmony Ink, Lou Hoffmann, Sunchild Chronicles, Uncategorized, YA Fiction

The Sun Child Chronicles continue in 2018—excerpts here!

Hi friends! I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted here, but one of the things I’m set on making happen in 2018 is suiting up and showing up here more often. I’d like to make this blog a little busier in support of YA authors who are unafraid to represent people from across the gender and sexual identity spectrum in their work, and in the process make it interesting and fun for readers. There’s only one of me, and at the present time I just don’t have enough news to keep it fresh all by myself. If you know of an author you’d like to see here, let me know in comments and I’ll see if I can get that done.

The Sun Child Chronicles are continuing! Book 3, Ciarrah’s Light is in editing with the publisher (Harmony Ink) right now, and it will be out in October—still a way off, but not too far. Here’s the blurb, and the graphic here has a snippet to tempt you.

Luccan, future Suth Chiell of the Ethran Sunlands, also known as Lucky, has completed one harrowing quest, but his adventures and hardships are only beginning. There’s little time to recuperate before his mother’s apparition attacks, drowning Lucky in horrible nightmares that drain his life and nearly kill him. Only through the power of his sentient obsidian blade, Ciarrah, can Lucky claw his way out of the shadowy visions and back to consciousness. But further horrors await him when he opens his eyes, and his country needs him more than ever.

Unstoppable wraiths—products of an advanced but dying alien world called Terrathia—are attacking, and swords and arrows cannot stop them. Fortunately Ciarrah’s magical light can, and with his uncle Han, the wizard Thurlock, his winged horse, and a horde of shifters from Earth at his back, Lucky faces them, determined to put an end to his mother’s destructive evil once and for all. But will stopping her end the horrors facing his world?

Meanwhile, the plan for the series has been expanded from five books total to six, and I’m busy writing book 4, Dragon’s Rise. Here’s a brief excerpt from my work-in-progress, just for fun.

Morning came cool and damp by the stream, but the music of the flowing water was sweet, and the day promised to be fine. Thurlock sat upon his bedroll and, listing to one side, flicked a lazy magical hand at the fire to light it. He clearly hadn’t been awake for long.

“Good morning, Thurlock,” Lucky said—very softly because he felt like loud words might shatter something.

Thurlock grunted and rolled onto his knees. He looked as though he was preparing to stand, though it might take some time. Lucky shot up and rushed over to offer him a hand. Thurlock accepted the help, which surprised Lucky once he thought about it.

“Thank you, young man,” Thurlock said. “Some days I do feel like I’m getting older, and this is one of them. I suppose it’s to be expected. I’ve not truly rested for days.”

“Didn’t you sleep last night, sir?”

“With one eye open, Luccan. With one eye open. Give me a few moments to wake up and drink some tea, and we’ll talk about your dreams.”

“My dreams?” How had Thurlock known?

“And some other things. How are the horses?”

Lucky recognized a dismissal when he heard one, so despite his discomfort with the idea that Thurlock had somehow known what had gone on in his head during the night, and despite his anxiety over what “other things” might be on the agenda for conversation, he left the wizard alone and went to tend the horses.

Lucky had always liked horses, though he’d been clumsy with them at first. After his stay with Morrow’s family, he’d gained confidence and come to understand them a lot better, and now he thought they liked him, too. Even the noble Sherah nuzzled him in greeting. He’d rubbed them down pretty good the night before, and they’d had access to fresh grazing and water where they were picketed, so there wasn’t a lot they needed. He looked them over, checked their hooves the way he’d been taught, and then gave them a light brushing to wake them up. He left them happily munching oats and went back to see about his and Thurlock’s breakfast.

He didn’t actually have to, though. He came back to the camp to find his plate keeping warm on one of the rocks lining the firepit, already loaded with bacon, slices of hearty bread, and a roasted apple. He smiled, and then smiled wider when he watched the water in his cup transform to hot cocoa. “Thanks, Thurlock,” he said, but he was wondering how the old man would take it if he asked for mocha from now on. He had recently developed a taste for coffee with his chocolate in the morning.

Lucky was still eating when Thurlock put his plate aside, refreshed his tea, and sat back, settling his gaze on Lucky. Which felt a little creepy and made Lucky wonder if he had a chocolate moustache or something. Of course that wouldn’t be what was on Thurlock’s mind, though. More likely he was about to treat Lucky to a serious wizardly conversation.

“Of course you know I can’t enter your mind like Han can, Luccan, but I set a spell—for your safety of course—to catch your dreams, and this morning it was quivering like a spider’s web when a giant fly lands in it. It’s a marvelous little spell, really, one I worked up when Han was young and his grief for his family was fresh. It catches the worst of the things that enter through our dreams and prevents them from getting deep into the mind.”

Flabbergasted that Thurlock had this remedy at hand and hadn’t used it to save him from his mother’s awful shade, Lucky blurted, “Why didn’t you use it to get me out when my mom had me trapped in the dark?”

“Oh,” Thurlock said. “I wish I could have, but it doesn’t work after the fact. Only if it’s set up ahead of time. But let me tell you more about it. It siphons off some of the more troubling aspects of the dream that are internal, coming from inside a person, and if one examines the web of the spell, they can see hints of the dream’s material. In this case, I saw mists and colors—that lovely electric blue we’ve both come to associate with evil things, and violet. The colors of darkness.”

“But you didn’t wake me?”

“I started to, but I saw your face, and you weren’t afraid, or hurt, or sick—not at all the way you looked during those other dreams. Instead you looked alert, interested, and maybe a little sneaky. Do you remember your dream, this time?”

“Yes,” Lucky said, noticing with surprise that it was true.

“Want to tell me what you saw?”

Lucky told him about his spying in the dream, and then, in conclusion, insisted, “Thurlock, I know the place I saw is a real place. It wasn’t like where my mother took me when she had me… my mind… captive. I don’t know where it is, but it’s part of the real world. This world. They… the enemy, I guess… they’re planning something big—bigger than the battle of Hoenholm. I’m sure of it, and that place I saw is where it’s going to happen.”

Thurlock spent a few minutes torturing his beard and sipping his tea, making a rude noise once when he shifted on his rock, followed by a muttered “oops.” Finally he looked once again at Lucky and said. “Could be just a dream, Luccan.”

Lucky wasn’t fooled. “You don’t believe that.”

“No. But it could be. Do you remember the features of this place you saw? Landmarks and such?”

“I… think so. Maybe.”

“Could you draw a picture of it?”

Lucky laughed out loud. “Thurlock, I can’t draw a stick figure so’s anybody’d recognize it as human.”

“Oh yes, I recall your runes were pretty sloppy. We’ll have to work on that—runes are important. But as to this other, perhaps, would you recognize the place if you saw a picture of it?”

“Um… probably?”

“Are you asking me?”

“Probably, sir.”

“All right then. That could be useful. Saddle up. We’ve got to get moving. Wait, though.” He picked up a pile of metal bits from a rock next to him and held it out to Lucky. “Put this on.”

When Lucky shook it out, he discovered it was a hooded shirt made out of disks of sun metal linked together—leaf mail, he supposed. “I’ll bake,” he said, letting it show that he also thought it was ridiculous. They weren’t being shot at, for the gods’ sakes.

“Would you rather wear full, stiff armor like Gimli the Dwarf?”

“How did you know I read Lord or the Rings?”

“I know you read it twice.”

“Three times.”

“I know lots of things. Answer the question?”

“No.”

“Put it on then.”

“Why?”

“Because I said so.”

This was not the sort of argument Lucky was likely to cave in to, generally speaking. However when the person saying it was an obscenely powerful wizard who was currently causing sparks of irritation to stream from his magical staff…. Well, Lucky put the mail shirt on.

“Can I leave the hood down.”

“Of course you can—for now. I’m not unreasonable.”

That’s it for this time. I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope to see you soon.

Click here to go to find the first two books at the Harmony Ink Press store.

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Filed under GLBTQ fiction, Harmony Ink, Lou Hoffmann, Sunchild Chronicles, YA Fiction