Astrum by Faramond Frie

This book is amazing. A story about an adventurer and warrior, recounted to an audience at the Savoy, and written as an epic poem. That’s right the whole book is one amazing epic poem.

Indians living on the moon. Ships that fly, I’m not sure Faramond Frie describes it as such, but there is definitely a Steampunk element to this story, in so far as it is a parallel world of fiction where the science has developed in an alternative way to our own. The blurb on the back of the book describes it as being in the spirit of Jules Verne and HG Wells so I guess that confirms it.

It has grand themes about the way technology is developed by powerful men and misused for their own power and development. The kind of men who in our own world benefitted from the slave trade and develop the machinery of war.

There are elements of love and friendship. Integrity and soul.

The poetry is wonderful. No nonsense poetry that carries the story on a wave of rhyme. It would make a brilliant play.

“I only wanted to test my ability.
I never thought my creations
would come with such responsibility!
And yet the truth is very clear.
My conscience speaks in words of thunder.
I must become a Father.
I will show him love and wonder,
and teach of pain and fear as well
and grow a human heart
beneath the metal shell.”

Copyright Faramond Frie © 2016

Did I mention the robots and dragons?

This is an amazing book and I heartily recommend it.

 

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The Adventures Of Miss Ann Thrope

The sound of the explosion was deafening. Sanguine, Miss Ann Thrope gently squeezed her trigger and another merk evaporated. She never really understood the technical function of the futuristic weaponry her friend provided, just that they worked.
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Whipping around with a lightning speed that belied her appearance, she casually erased three more. That’s how she saw this space pistol, or ray gun as she told it to her grandchildren at their bedtime stories, like an erasure, rubbing out a smudge on her beautiful pencil drawings.
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Racing ahead at breakneck speed she dived low under a hatch to the left, coming out in a roll as her eraser led before her and sent a volley of precision shots into the troops trying to pin her down with their erratic fire.
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Silently Miss Thrope edged her way down the metallic corridor with the low level lighting. In this future age, security was controlled by the Station which was almost sentient. In the age Miss Thrope chose to make her home, they were just coming to terms with intelligent fridges and central heating that linked into the home computer network.
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In the distant future every surface, space, temperature gradient, any physical existence was controlled and monitored by the Station.
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The only way to possibly be covert was with some very special counter technology, like physical hacking. Miss Thrope walked down the corridor with complete confidence of, in essence, being an invisible undetectable physical virus.
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That was her first mistake.
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The creature that sank it’s huge claws into her shoulder pulled her back off balance. Sentient itself, it paused just a little too confidently before sinking it’s scything savage jaws into it’s victim.
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Having dropped her eraser Miss Thrope was surviving purely on instinct. The long bladed stiletto from her wrist sheath appeared in her hand and was thrust through the soft flesh below the lower jaw and hopefully into it’s tongue. With a roar of pain the great leviathan reared back opening up the wound and nearly tearing Miss Thrope’s arm out of it’s socket. Over-riding the terrible pain in both shoulders she took an incendiary grenade from her harness and activating it via her neural net, threw it down the roaring throat of the beast. Her friend’s grenades were very sophisticated. She picked “bang” on a scale from one to ten, of two.
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“Should have picked one,” she thought to herself as she limped down the metal passageway, completely deafened and covered in ribbons of stinking flesh.
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Copyright Jhedron Luckspar © 2016 2018
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To enjoy THE ADVENTURES OF MISS ANN THROPE you can buy it via my book page
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Stockholm Conversation

You ask me about the meals in my stories. The friends dine together a lot. In my life I love to eat. Eat out, eat in, good food cooked well. But sharing the experience, that adds quality of life. I love to eat out with friends, or to cook a meal for them, or to be cooked for. Good food, good wine, good friends it’s the stuff of life. Location too is important. Dining, like life is all about ambience, mood. You can find it, you can create it, you can enjoy it. When you get it you have to be a part of it, like being an actor in a play or a film. One of the differences I found going to Steampunk conventions in different countries. In some places the visitors dress up in their bowler hats, goggles, boots, ladies in extravagant dresses. They are into the ideas, the stories of Jules Verne, Phillip Pullman, Cory Doctorow. They assume a character they have created and stay in character all weekend. They create and share in an ambience. In some other places, Steampunk is just a tribe fashion, like mods and rockers.

No, it’s not elitist. Look at Bruce Willis’s character in The Fifth Element. He is a hard nosed character who kicks ass. He still dresses smartly when he goes to the opera.

When I wrote the Rabbit Chronicles, a lot of events and characters were based on real people, real events. I still do that a little. A trip to London or Stockholm will inspire elements of stories. A few characters are based on people I know, friends. Mostly now it’s imaginary characters and events.

When I was writing the Rabbit Chronicles, which I started at a Swedish Sci Fi / Steampunk convention, the story started at that convention, with people I met there. If anyone gave me their email address I used to send out a weekly chapter from the new book. The main villain in the book is based on a guy who emailed me back a few times because he liked the stories. I asked him if he wanted to be in the book, and did he want to be a hero or a villain. So the Hrym was born.

I had about twelve characters and because the friends dining together was so important, and as I was returning to Swecon the following year, I invited all the real people out to dinner at Linkoping at my expense. Three from England and eight from Sweden. We had a great dinner and it became part of the book. The ones who turned up in real life are the ones in the story who survived. I finished writing the book the next day.

Yes, my own character died quite early on. I wasn’t comfortable writing about myself, even if it is imaginary. The surviving characters have reappeared in what is now a trilogy. The Adventures of Miss Ann Thrope is my second book in the trilogy and I hope to have the third book ready for July, six weeks from now.


Yes, I do write quite fast. Short, sharp chapters, and hopefully plenty of them.

Even during the last few days, in Stockholm, I have written every day. I’m off to Uppsala tomorrow for the convention. Looking forward to meeting old friends.

My next project. Well, as I said, the third book is going well. My friend Faramond Frie will be at Swecon signing books. He arrives tomorrow. We are working on a graphic project together which we hope has potential for the future. As well as a writer he is a great artist and has done the covers for my last two books. We were at a Sci Fi convention in Ghent, Belgium, a few years back where we were just across the aisle from his childhood inspiration, Ian Gibson, who worked on the Judge Dredd comics.  He got to spend half an hour talking to him. Whether it’s in the pages of a book, or your life, it’s an amazing adventure. You get to choose.

Thank you very much.

The Student

It was part of her therapy.

Aiasdotter had suffered both psychological and physical torture at the hands of The Hyrm, and although she had been “healed” by Stiletto’s medical technicians there was still the “pain.”

Aiasdotter had been given to “Schripp, and his first act had been both training aid, and bonding technique. He had taken away her vision.

It was only temporary, a blockage of the functioning of the occipital cortex, and she knew that when she earned it, she would get her sight back.

The crack of the shinai against the men grill of the Kendo armour made her head rattle, although in truth it was only a light tap.

“Feel,” ‘Schripp encouraged for the hundredth time. Again, she waited. It wasn’t like being in the dark, there was no light, no vision. All her other senses had become incredibly acute. She could smell ‘Schripp’s sweat in the confines of the room and hear the slow beating of his heart, but the physical senses were not fast enough for what she was trying to do. She had to feel the attack.

Time and again ‘Schripp had told her, “you must feel the intent. Do not think.”

Months had been spent disciplining her mind, that she might learn to lose her thoughts.

There was no noise, no movement, just her own action. The shinai in her hands moved with lightning speed, to be held vertical by her left ear and the crack of the bamboo was deafening.

Her feeling of triumph was short lived as a fraction of a second later the right side of her men was lightly struck, and that patient voice spoke right beside her.

“And again.”

Copyright Jhedron Luckspar © 2014 2018
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For a FREE eBook of Revenge Of The Hrym visit my Book Page
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The Assassination

Lady Bane shed a silent tear as she threw the blue rose into Stiletto’s gaping grave.

The unseasonal mist sent cold fingers around the gravestones in the Oxford cemetery, and glancing over at his companions ringing the graveside, Gregory pulled his overcoat collar up against the drizzling rain and walked away to the waiting cars.

Henrik, a nice young man at heart, had been told to up the ante. The order to assassinate Lord Stiletto had come directly from The Rabbit and Henrik was under a great deal of stress and confusion.

He wasn’t a killer, he knew that in his heart, and basically, he quite liked Gregory and Stiletto when he had met them in the now destroyed Sweden, and that vanished reality of his planet Earth. He realised that he now owed his life to The Rabbit, but deep inside he knew he wasn’t a murderer.

Lord Stiletto was out driving in the Oxfordshire countryside in his favourite Bugatti. It was an original car from 1939, one he had picked up from the Milan home of Ettore Bugatti himself, just as the second world war was kicking off. He had driven it down to Sicily where he had shipped it over to Malta using his contacts, and there stored it in a cave on the small adjacent island of Gozo.

Now he was racing along the road to Lechlade, wind buffeting his bowler, goggles firmly in place.

Henrik had gone for an indirect method of murder. His choice, spiked metal sheets, nailed into the tarmac surface of the Lechlade road. Almost immediately behind the caltrops he had parked a traction engine, recently stolen from the neighbouring village’s steam fair. He felt a nascent thrill knowing Stiletto’s love of the arcane and ancient.

Stiletto came around the corner in third, at eightyfive miles per hour, and saw the traction engine stationary in his path. Slamming his right foot on the brakes and taking his foot off the gas, powering fuel in to the super turbo charged engine, he skidded sideways down the narrow Cotswold roadway. When he hit the caltrops, the tyres exploded on the sharp metal spikes, and the beautiful old car began to roll, as it left the ground, and accelerated towards the waiting engine.

Henrik had been having second thoughts about his murderous course, several days before the date with Stiletto, and had taken the opportunity to send a message to Gregory. Stiletto took some persuading to sacrifice his beautiful sports car, but with Haydrift Eaglebeard as a passenger, and some nifty hand jive, the two friends were travelling through an alternate dimension as the classic sports car, almost a national treasure, exploded in a ball of fire as it slammed into the huge steel roller that fronted the traction engine, artfully placed in the Bugatti’s path.

 

Copyright Jhedron Luckspar © 2015 2018

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For a FREE eBook of Revenge Of The Hrym visit my Book Page
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The Tram

Eight Earth weeks earlier….

The image was burnt onto the surface of Gregory’s retinas. The pink manic eyes of The Rabbit in the window of the Belgian tram.

Stiletto had taken a wrong turn, in more than one sense of the word. Now his car was screaming in reverse between medieval buildings as the looming city tram gained on the startled friends.

The day had begun much better. Here in Ghent, to attend the Science Fiction Convention, Gregory, Stiletto and Lady Bane had arrived in good time and made their presence in the great hall. Comic artist legend, Ian Gibson, a well-respected Master of the genre, and well represented in Lord Stiletto’s fabled library, was unexpectedly at the adjacent table. Stiletto was delighted to meet this unsuspecting mentor, and was fortunate to spend quite a lot of time learning from the old Master. Was this why he miscalculated the shenanigans of The Rabbit? Like an avalanche that starts with a single pebble, the origin of Karma is often lost in the mists of events.

Rubber tyres burnt and howled as Stiletto accelerated the reversing car, horn blaring to clear the Saturday evening crowds. Once over the small bridge he applied his handbrake as the car squealed in a tight arc almost about its front axis and shot backwards in a straight line down the narrow side street.

The tram hammered past, stuck on its tracks. It was the Girl with the red hair, commented Lady Bane. A part of Gregory’s mind had noticed her, driving the tram at the retreating car, but most of his horizon had been filled with the piercing pink eyes of The Rabbit.

Gregory was reasonably sure that vampires didn’t exist, at least in the daytime, so he was quite surprised to meet a Steampunk one. He and Sarah were manning the table whilst Stiletto was off wandering the halls. It was the teeth that were so fascinating. Apparently, she paid thousands for the dental work.

Lady Bane had seen some sights in her life. Stiletto coming through the door in his shirt sleeves and waistcoat, but still wearing his bowler hat and goggles, threw the broken and bloody chair leg into the waste paper basket.

“Goddamn vampires,” he spoke calmly as he took his empty pipe from his pocket and nonchalantly put it between his teeth.

“What, not the one talking to Gregory,” she asked in amusement.

“The very same,” he chuckled, taking the pipe out to speak,

“quite besotted!”

 

Copyright Jhedron Luckspar © 2015 2018

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For a FREE eBook of Revenge Of The Hrym visit my Book Page
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The Pain

In the end it was all down to the slime. The slime extracted from the gall bladder of a very angry space cucumber. It was from this special ingredient that was made a neural pathway that allowed the user to explore the secrets of the universe.

Gregory had been metaphorically bashing his head against the walls of reason, trying to come up with a plan to rescue Aiasdotter, when all along what was required was the ability to slip under the surface.

Lady Sarah looked like she had gone several rounds with a Megafraken pit fighter, and that was before Stiletto’s technicians changed her face. It was she who had volunteered to use the slime to penetrate the dark planet of The Hrym.

Like a corrupted Japanese Daimyo listening to the screams of a boiling Dutch cabin boy, The Hrym was carried away by the music coming from Aiasdotter’s cell. He didn’t have to actually be present, as he was aware of everything. He brought a whole new meaning to the oft’ misunderstood concept of multi-tasking.

The Hrym was a connoisseur, and just as the conductor of the Berlin Symphonia could hear the minutest change in the tone of his lead violinist’s E string, so too, The Hrym felt the minutest of fluctuations in the terror and pain experienced by his erstwhile brilliant and efficient private secretary.

Connected to his neural network, The Hrym connected straight to the cell where Aiasdotter was being kept and tortured.

In the Hrym’s future world the dimensional reality of neural communication and entertainment had come a long way from the 3D cinema and TV back at the beginning of the 21st Century Earth. Now it was like he was in the cell, and had brought his presence with him.

Sat there in the chair was Aiasdotter, and yet The Hrym knew it was not her. His supermarket suit and shiny shoes changed to a red colour as the sensitivity of the neural net picked up the subtle shift that his physical presence would never reveal.

The colour change was a step too far. Haydrift Eaglebeard who had been stood silently in the corner lost momentary control. Using an ancient Tibetan meditation technique, he had been holding himself in a stasis of No Thing whilst the switch between Aiasdotter and Lady Sarah had taken place.

Seven and a half seconds were required and to Sarah strapped to the plastic chair, it seemed like an infinite moment of torment.

Suddenly The Hrym was standing before her, face almost catatonic in its banality, and yet his whole presence burning red like Lucifer on a bad day.

And then, that kindly face stepped from the corner and with a few waves of his hand, the pain was gone.

Copyright Jhedron Luckspar © 2014 2018

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For a FREE eBook of Revenge Of The Hrym visit my Book Page
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The Spectacles

The friends had gathered for a dinner at Gregory’s private dining room at the Savoy. Gregory mused that they could be forgiven for being mistaken for a private dining club rather than a close-knit band of cosmic adventurers.

Lord Stiletto had particularly enjoyed the quail although he had some issues with eating them. But what was the difference between them and organic poultry, or estate shot pheasant. Just because they are cute he supposed. Not a thought he would have been too happy sharing with the table. It was good that the seven were all together again. A magical number, although in truth and secret they were nine. He was just settling down to some goats’ cheese when they were disturbed by a knock on the door, and the Maître d’, profusely apologising for the interruption, supervised the wheeling in of a large widescreen TV. He placed a remote control, and an engraved wooden box in front of Gregory, bowed and left the room, silently closing the large double doors behind him.

“What the devil,” growled Eaglebeard.

“I thought there were no interruptions,” commented Magnus.

“Is it a surprise?” asked Lady Sarah.

“Sorry,’’ replied a disturbed Gregory, “I’m as much in the dark as you are.”

“Then you had better press play,” said ‘Schripp, his empty sockets holding them all where his useless eyes had been removed, and skin transplanted from his buttocks had been grafted over to cover them.

Gregory picked up the remote control and meeting the eyes of his friends, carefully pressed play.

Sat in a simple plastic chair, terror etched into the lines around her eyes was the limp and haggard form of Aiasdotter.

Held loosely in her bleeding and bruised hands was a small wax sealed package.

“I think you had better open the box,” said Stiletto calmly.

“It might be a trap,” purred the Lady Susanna.

“I don’t think so,” replied Gregory, and releasing the catch of the beautifully crafted box he took out a pair of ladies round golden spectacles.

“What’s the engraving on the box,” asked Eaglebeard.

“Oh, only a Rabbit.”

 

Copyright Jhedron Luckspar © 2015 2018

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For a FREE eBook of Revenge Of The Hrym visit my Book Page
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The Personal Assistant

The Rabbit wasn’t the only one who had been recruiting at the Steampunk Festival at Gavle, Sweden.

Aiasdotter was the best PA, The Hrym had ever had. Efficient, organised and brilliant, she kept his cosmic empire ticking like clockwork. Working for such a totally evil being had caused some psychological adjustments and some nights she woke up screaming from the vacant banality of it all, but Aiasdotter was a crucial element in the struggles of the friends in their campaign against The Rabbit.

Today all hell had broken loose. The Hrym was not happy. It was impossible to tell from his face, which showed no sign of personality or emotion, but the instant annihilation of all the barmaids in every part of the city, their friends and families was a sure indication that yesterday’s events had got under his skin.

Confident from the moment of their landing outside the city, he had played with the bastard retards like wasps in a jam-jar, and was incandescent when they escaped. Over and over, he replayed the vid of the tall one losing his eyes, but his satisfaction was taken away with the calm and determined way he carried on, as if he had his face destroyed on a daily basis. And, how was it possible for him to fight so well?

Aiasdotter placed the cup of tepid water on The Hrym’s desk, and returned to her duties. It was hard for her to maintain her own sense of calm when she saw the events of the battle and escape over and over again.

And then she saw it. Computers had long ago left the realm of hardware. The software was now tied into the neural processing power of the user’s brain, although in big business, or in the employ of cosmic psychopaths, they were heavily encrypted. Still, being such a trusted part of The Hrym’s network she had very high clearance access, and she had just learnt the whereabouts of the Package. Hard to imagine it was still intact.

She had no chance of getting a message to Gregory, she would have to act. Leaving her desk, she said something banal to The Hrym, and headed down to the storage facility.

The Hrym was disappointed. Aiasdotter was a fantastic asset, even if she was leaking information to the Retards.

Copyright Jhedron Luckspar © 2014 2018
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For a FREE eBook of Revenge Of The Hrym visit my Book Page
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The Dark

The only one untouched by the carnage was Haydrift Eaglebeard. He didn’t know if it was lightning reflexes or instinct that had moved his hand, but he found he was in a pink cavity where the exploding neural tissue and fragmented bone had stopped about an arm’s length away from him. He would have to work on that, a detached part of his mind thought, with a bit of expansion he could have protected the group, although ‘Schripp’s proximity to the barmaid meant he couldn’t be helped. Still, he passed his hand over the damaged face of his friend and the pain although not the blindness was taken away.

‘Schripp was focused on the eyes of the girl. His sword, razor sharp, a fractions gap from her throat, and then the world exploded. His face was an agony of pierced flesh and his vision was gone.

With the calmness of a warrior he turned to where he knew Stiletto would be, and handing him his blade, took a napkin from the bar, and wiped the pureed flesh from his face and useless eye sockets.

He felt the presence of Eaglebeard, and a callused hand was passed gently over his face. The pain had gone, only the blackness remained.

“Come on Zatoichi,” his friend whispered, and taking his arm they ran off at a sprint.

The alarms were still shrieking and ‘Schripp slid on the slimy floor but managed to keep up. After one hundred metres he felt the pressure to stop and the tsuka of his katana was slid into his hand. ‘Schripp pushed his awareness out, and found his hearing and smell were super acute with the absence of his vision, and he silently thanked his old Master for the constant drills with and without a blindfold.

A concussion rocked the space as Stiletto fired a gun of some sort and the friends raced off down the corridor, Haydrift keeping close, but only maintaining the barest of touches arm to arm. ‘Schripp could sense a space coming on the left, and the threat concealed there. Blade held lightly in the right hand, left arm brushing his friend’s, he moved across to that side of the passage, sword tip slightly raised as he became open to the void.

He felt the change of pressure in the confined space and with unerring accuracy slid his stance forward to meet the attack, bringing his blade through the neck of the Tark mercenary. There was a thud as the mercenary’s head bounced on the floor and rolled away.

He could hear the sounds of battle around him, and instinctively knew the feel and presence of his three friends. The time for concealment was long gone, and taking weapons from their fallen opponents, blades were sheathed, and heavier fire power was unleashed. In all, fiftynine seconds had passed since his world exploded, and apart from Eaglebeard’s joke, not one word had been uttered.

“NOW,” yelled Eaglebeard, and ‘Schripp felt a powerful heave as they all slipped through the portal Eaglebeard had opened with his replacement hand.

 

Copyright Jhedron Luckspar © 2014 2018

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For a FREE eBook of Revenge Of The Hrym visit my Book Page
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