Sunday, 15 October 2017

Running Out of Space by S.J. Higbee

Title: Running Out of Space
Series: The Sunblinded Trilogy#1
Author: S.J. Higbee
Genre: Science Fiction
Age category: New adult
Release Date: 11 October, 2017

Elizabeth Wright has yearned to serve on the space merchant ship Shooting Star for as long as she can remember – until one rash act changes everything…

I can’t recall whose idea it was. Just that me and my shipmates were sick of wading through yet another unjust punishment detail. So we decide to take ourselves off on a short jaunt to the lower reaches of Space Station Hawking to prove that fertile English girls can also deal with danger.

The consequences of that single expedition change the lives of all four of us, as well as that of the stranger who steps in to save us down in lawless Basement Level. Now I have more excitement and danger than I can handle, while confronting lethal shipboard politics, kidnapping, betrayal. And murder.

For a limited time Running Out of Space will be only $0.99!


      I opened my eyes to find myself lying on my back, staring at the sky – a shock. After nearly a year in a spacecraft, so much fresh air overstimmed my slagged senses. Apart from anything else, it stank. Of earth and greenness and rain. I sucked at the water trickling across my mouth because I was very thirsty, as well as soaking wet and cold. My teeth started to chatter.
Maybe it would be a zesting notion to get up. It took a while to struggle onto my knees and shakily scramble to my feet. Partly because everything hurt and partly because I couldn’t shake the idea I must be badly injured. I’d been in a shuttle crash, for Earth’s sake! But although my head was hammering hard enough to shiver my vision and I’d an impressive collection of cuts and purpling bruises, nothing seemed broken. I shaded my stinging eyes from the too-bright outdoor lighting, and tried to get my bearings.
      The sodden landscape was cheerlessly grey, with rain falling sideways in swirling gusts that plastered torn overalls against my rapidly numbing body. I squinted sore eyes. That grey smudge. There... behind that stand of trees. That’s smoke.
      I squelched across the gouge marks scarring the field, following the trail of shredded shuttle-stuff while my head thudded with vicious intensity. The tail section sheared off, here. The rest cleared the fence and finally ended up in the next field. I must’ve been thrown out.
      It took a long light year to trudge through the vile gloop the Cerens like to call soil. I fell over. Twice. The second time, I nearly didn’t get up. The only thing that kept me going was the sure knowledge that if I stayed sitting in the gluey mess, I’d die of hypothermia. Or disgust. I didn’t survive a dregging shuttle crash just to end up as fertiliser for some food crop. Besides, what if Wynn finds me? I flinched at the thought of his beautiful blue eyes staring at my mucky corpse.
      The going got easier once I reached the knee-high grass bordering the field as the tall plax-mesh fence offered significant shelter from the rain-laden wind. I headed for the track intersecting the fencing. A thick pall of smoke swirled through the opening long before I reached it. The chemical smell, overlaid with a cooked meat scent, made me cough like an apron-clad bloke downwind of the barbie. I used a shard of dura carbon to hack off the breast pocket on my overalls and cover my nose against the stinking smoke. But I could do nothing about the dread snaking in my belly.
      If Wynn survived, why haven’t I seen him? No way would he wander off without searching for me. I stumbled to a halt, as icy certainty gripped me. That’s it, then. He’s dead. I buried my face in my hands, despairing. Until a new voice zipped through my head like a fireball.
      Wynn could die out there, while you’re behaving like a baby. Haul it together, Lizzy!
      Jessica, that you? It sounded like her, for sure. Whether it was or not, just hearing her bossy voice ringing around the inside of my skull was sufficient to help me haul it together. On trembling legs, I rounded the corner and took in the mess. Judging by the torn earth and burning remains, the shuttle must have cartwheeled half the length of the field before finally coming to a halt upside down. I shivered as I imagined the force needed to create such large gouges, while wading through the quagmire and peering into each gaping hole, already half-full of water. Looking around the rainy, smoke-grimed mudscape at the flaming remains of the shuttle, I wondered if there was a bleaker spot in the whole universe.
      I spotted the first body, while stumbling through the wreckage. His head was tilted back at an impossible angle. His helmet had been torn off and his face was a red ruin. I shuddered. Hopefully, it was quick.
      I moved onto the next hole, dropped to my knees, and prodded at the water with a length of casing. My stomach slid somewhere around my mud-caked thighs when I realised someone was down there.
      Mark the spot, then move on. You can come back later, if you don’t find Wynn elsewhere.
      Typical Jessica. Still bossy, even when dead. Nevertheless, I draped shredded insulation in the rough shape of an arrow, before moving towards the burning remains of the shuttle. It was now a question of numbers. I’d found two bodies, one unidentified. Aboard the shuttle, there’d been Helmethead, the pilot, Wynn, and the three guards sitting opposite. Six, apart from me.
      The pilot was easy to find. His charred body was still strapped into the burnt-out remains of the cockpit, clearly beyond help. Another badly burned merc was hanging out of a ripped hole in the fuselage, but I couldn’t get close enough to see if he was still alive. Heat radiated from the blackened carcass of the shuttle. Further back, the fuel tanks were still burning.
Upwind of the thick, stinking smoke, the warmth was almost pleasant. I caught sight of someone was lying on open ground about ten yards in front of the shuttle, so mud-covered, I couldn’t tell whether he was wearing a uniform. Or alive.
      Hurry up, it could be Wynn.
      Yeah, I’m on it, Jessica. I half-ran, half-slithered towards the prone figure. But I slid to a stop a few feet away, as I realised the dregger was wearing a helmet. His arm twitched.
Mercury’s Dust, he’s alive. I couldn’t walk away. Kneeling beside him, I felt for his pulse. He’s warm to the touch... Which was when I recognised the numbers on the side of his helmet – I’d been staring at them when he’d hit me. It’s Helmethead! Wonder how he—
      His hand snaked out and gripped my arm as he surged to his knees. “Hello, girlie. Must be my lucky day, after all.”

About the Author:

Born the same year as the Russians launched Sputnik, I confidently expected that by the time I reached adulthood, the human race would have a pioneer colony on the Moon and be heading off towards Mars. So I was at a loss to know what to do once I realised the Final Frontier wasn’t an option and rather lost my head - I tried a lot of jobs I didn’t like and married a totally unsuitable man.

Now I've finally come to terms with the fact that I’ll never leave Earth, I have a lovely time writing science fiction and fantasy novels while teaching Creative Writing at Northbrook College in Worthing. I’ve had a number of short stories, articles and poems published – the most recent being my story ‘Miranda’s Tempest’ which appeared last year in Fox Spirit’s anthology Eve of War. I recently signed a publishing contract with Grimbold Publishing for my science fiction novel Netted, which is due to be released in 2019.

I live in Littlehampton on the English south coast with a wonderful husband and a ridiculous number of books.

I can be found online chatting about books at my book review blog and you’re very welcome to pop onto my website and my Facebook page.

Guest Post by S.J. Higbee:

Top Ten Fiction Writers

Thank you so much for inviting me along to write this guest blog. I was delighted to be able to give a Top Ten list of my favourite authors – though it was something of a struggle to knock it down to only ten… Here goes, in no particular order:-

Jo Walton
I don’t think I’ve read anything of hers I haven’t loved. I’m enormously impressed with her range – from her book about dragonkind set in Anthony Trollop’s Victorian society in Tooth and Claw to her Thessaly trilogy set in ancient Greece exploring the principles laid out in Plato’s Republic. She is clearly extremely clever – but she also has the ability to write clearly and approachably. I think she is one of our greatest contemporary speculative fiction writers and her work isn’t known enough.
Favourite book to date – Among Others

C.J. Cherryh
I was absolutely blown away by her tense, immersive first person narration and the manner in which I found myself pulled into her worlds. I love the fact that back when descriptions of future and fantastic worlds often went on for a couple of pages – Cherryh would simply give you what the character was experiencing. I must catch up with her current Foreigner series…
Favourite books to date – Heavy Time/the Finisterre duology (Rider at the Gate and Cloud’s Rider)

N.K. Jemisin
I vividly recall opening up the first page of A Hundred Thousand Kingdoms at Victoria Railway station and insisting on reading out passages to Himself, who was also trying to read. That doesn’t happen all that often. Her writing style is punchy and immediate – her stories engrossing. I have yet to finish The Broken Earth series, because I am saving it up as a treat to myself – preferably when I’m away on holiday.
Favourite book to date – The Fifth Season – Book 1 of The Broken Earth series

Kage Baker
Another extraordinary writer who isn’t known nearly well enough – she died in 2010, but her amazing The Company series is still a testament to her soaring imagination. I also loved Empress of Mars which is a knockabout adventure set on Mars which some pertinent things to say about runaway capitalism.
Favourite book – Mendoza in Hollywood – Book 3 of The Company series

Lois McMaster Bujold
Her remarkable Miles Vorkosigan series takes space opera by the scruff of the neck and gives it thorough shaking. I love the fact the books range from tense whodunits to a riotous comedy of manners with everything in between. Her smooth writing style is deceptive as she tackles all sorts of gnarly subjects in her adventure. I have recently also thoroughly enjoyed her Penric and Desdemona fantasy novellas about a young man accidentally possessed by a cadre of old and established demons.
Favourite book to date – A Civil Campaign – Book 12 of the Miles Vorkosigan series

Terry Pratchett
The Discworld series… I love his quirky style and the humour, particularly of the earlier books. I recall sitting in a laundrette howling with laughter at Moving Pictures – and the scene in Hogfather when Death is handing out swords and real ponies to astonished children in Ankh-Morpek’s leading store can still have me giggling aloud. I also have thoroughly enjoyed his multiple world science fiction adventure co-written with Stephen Baxter. The grandchildren are being raised on the Tiffany Aching stories and I still mourn his passing.
Favourite book – Hogfather – Book 20 of the Discworld series

Elizabeth Moon
I loved her wonderful space merchanting family in the Vatta’s War series and more space opera goodness in the Serrano Legacy series. There is an energy and smoothness in her prose and pulls me into her worlds – so I was blown away when Cold Welcome popped up earlier as the beginning of a spinoff series from Vatta’s War.
Favourite book to date – Speed of Dark

Robin Hobb
An excellent author whose fabulous, detailed world is depicted in her Realm of the Elderlings series. I particularly love her treatment of dragons – so clever and it takes three sub-series for that storyline to reach its conclusion. I also very much enjoyed her Tillu and Kerlew duology set in pre-history.
Favourite book to date – Dragon Keeper – Book 1 of the Rain Wild Chronicles and Book 10 of the Realm of the Elderlings series

Tanya Huff
This is another wonderful, prolific author whom I really respect. Her successful urban fantasy Blood series may seem fairly run of the mill, but when she wrote Blood Price, it was groundbreaking. I also love her military science Valor Confederation series featuring her gutsy protagonist Torin Kerr, so was delighted when the spinoff Peacekeeper series started in 2015 – but her Enchantment Emporium series has stolen my heart. Funny, wicked and completely original I just wish there were more books in this wonderful series.
Favourite book to date – The Wild Ways – Book 2 of the Enchantment Emporium series

John Wyndham
This is a blast from the past – one of the formative authors that I loved. When I read The Day of the Triffids I was blown away by the writing and the page-turning adventure. It was always a special day when I managed to get hold yet another Wyndham novel. One of the things I enjoyed about this author is how in amongst the adventure, he also pulled me in and made me really care – I cried while reading Chocky.
Favourite book – The Chrysalids

So there you have it – though I’d have been even happier if I could have included the likes of Tricia Sullivan, Foz Meadows, Jo Hall, Cressida Cowell, David Brin, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Sarah Ash… So many wonderful authors out there – so little time to read them all! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share them with you and your readers and if anyone wants to discuss any of these – or your own special favourite author – I’d be very happy to discuss them further in the comment section.

This is my stop on the blog tour for Running Out of Space by S.J. Higbee.
I hope you enjoyed reading.

The blog tour runs from 11 till 31 October.

This blog tour is organized by:

1 comment :

  1. Thank you for taking part in the blog tour for Running Out of Space:)