J. Scott Coatsworth has a new MM Sci Fi book out and has come here today to tell us lies. Yeah, I know. Boasting about being paid for them too. Whatever is the world coming to? Here was I thinking that on Valentine’s Day I should be posting gifs of sparkly pink hearts, and instead I’m facilitating a friend tell porky pies. Just as well he’s so good at them!
So this is a bit of a monster post. I’ve got Scott being mendacious, a load of info about the book, a competition, an excerpt and a review of Lander by yours truly. Now that calls for a menu here that will allow you to skip merrily about this post to read it in whatever order you like. Or, you know, for you to ignore and just read on. Your choice!
Guest Post: I’m a Paid Liar
I have one of the best jobs in the world. I get paid to tell lies. More specifically, I get royalties to tell stories of places that never were, except in my own fevered imagination.
It’s a gig I always wanted to have, since I got hooked on the lies of J.R.R. Tolkien and Anne McCaffrey. These authors wrote fully-realized worlds that sucked me in, that made me wanted to be there, to have a fire lizard on my arm and a dangerous ring on my finger.
You see, we authors live in this weird place. When our eyes are open, we’re in the real world with all y’all. But when we close them, we fall into somewhere else – a world where the rules of regular life are suspended and a world of possibilities opens up.
So I pull out little bits and pieces of things that aren’t true and weave them together into something that feels right.
So yeah, I’m a paid liar, but sometimes those lies, if I do my job, feel true.
J. Scott Coatsworth
About The Book
In the sequel to the Rainbow-Award-winning Skythane, Xander and Jameson thought they’d fulfilled their destiny when they brought the worlds of Oberon and Titania back together, but their short-lived moment of triumph is over.
Reunification has thrown the world into chaos. A great storm ravaged Xander’s kingdom of Gaelan, leaving the winged skythane people struggling to survive. Their old enemy, Obercorp, is biding its time, waiting to strike. And to the north, a dangerous new adversary gathers strength, while an unexpected ally awaits them.
In the midst of it all, Xander’s ex Alix returns, and Xander and Jameson discover that their love for each other may have been drug-induced.
Are they truly destined for each other, or is what they feel concocted? And can they face an even greater challenge when their world needs them most?
About the Oberon Cycle:
Xander is a skythane man whose wings have always been a liability on the lander-dominated half world of Oberon. Jameson is a lander who has been sent to Oberon to find out why the supply of the psycho-amoratic drug pith has dropped off.
What neither knows is that they have a shared destiny that will change the two of them – and all of Oberon – forever.
Buy The Book
Scott is giving away a $25 Amazon gift certificate and three copies of his queer sci fi eBook “The Stark Divide.”
Xander stared at the torrent of water pouring over the cavern entrance. Somewhere out there, Quince and the others were lost in the storm.
“What happened to everyone else?” Jameson shouted, putting his hand on Xander’s shoulder.
“I don’t know. Last I saw them was before the lightning strike.” How had things changed so quickly?
Jameson started toward the exit. “We have to look for them!”
Xander pulled him back.
Jameson’s eyes were wild.
He squeezed Jameson’s hands, trying to reassure him. “Hey, calm down. There’s nothing we can do right now.”
“We already lost Morgan.” Jameson’s eyes pleaded with him. “I can’t lose the rest of them.”
Xander shook his head. “It’s no use. We’ll never find them in this tempest. They’re seasoned veterans. They can take care of themselves. We’ll go looking after the storm passes.” The loss of Morgan weighed on him too, though he was less and less certain that Morgan had been a human boy at all.
Jameson looked doubtful.
Xander felt it too, but there really was nothing they could do. “Hey, it’s gonna be all right.” He pulled Jameson to him, enfolding the two of them with his wings. Jameson was soaked, but Xander didn’t care.
Jameson nodded against his chest. “You’re right. Gods, I know you’re right. I’m sorry. I thought we were done with all this.”
Xander held him out at arm’s length. “Gods, huh? We’re doing the plural thing now?”
Jameson gave him a half smile. “Trying it out? When in Rome….”
“How’s your hearing?”
Jameson cocked his head. “It’s better. But everything sounds muffled.”
Xander nodded. “I can tell.”
Jameson blushed. “Am I talking too loud?”
“Just a little.”
Jameson smiled sheepishly. “It’s weird. It feels like my ears are full of water.”
Xander kissed him gently. “It’ll pass.” He looked around the cavern at last, his eyes gradually adjusting to the dim blue light.
The place was a faeryland, filled with rows of golden stalactites and stalagmites, like the bulwarks of an eldritch castle. Each one was a miracle of minute detail, like candle wax dripped from above. The whole cavern was lit by a turquoise-blue glow.
Xander looked around for the source. It came from pools of water on either side of the cavern. The scintillating light shimmered along the walls, creating complex, ever-changing patterns.
“Look, Jameson… it’s beautiful.” They were both a muddy mess. “We’re stuck here until the storm blows itself out. Why don’t we get cleaned up and try to rest? Then we can figure out what to do next. We have a long flight to Gaelan.” He was still shivering from the rain.
“A bath sounds like heaven.” Jameson let Xander lead him to one of the glowing ponds.
“Do you think it’s safe to go in?” Xander asked, pulling off his boots and testing the water with his toes. It was warm.
Jameson looked queasy, but then he smiled. “They called them faery ponds. There’s a microscopic organism that makes the light. It’s harmless, but beautiful.” He grinned. “Romantic, even.”
Ah, that’s how you knew this place. “You’ve been here before, haven’t you?” he said, slowly and clearly, gesturing to indicate Jameson and the cavern. His own generational memories were still fleeting, occasional things.
Jameson’s smile fled. He shrugged. “Not me personally….”
“Shhh. I know.” If he closed his eyes and focused, he could see this place too, but he seemed to be able to block them out when they were inconvenient. “Too many memories.” Xander pointed at his head.
Jameson nodded. He looked relieved. He reached out and pulled Xander close, his hands warm on Xander’s waist.
Xander slipped his arms around Jameson and kissed him once, twice. He wrinkled his nose. “You’re filthy and you stink! So do I.” He held up his shirt as proof. It was covered in mud stains.
Jameson laughed. “We can fix that.”
He helped Jameson unlace the sides of his shirt, pulling it off to reveal the naked skin underneath. Jameson returned the favor, his hands lingering for a moment before withdrawing to pull down his own pants.
They shucked their wet and dirty clothes and descended into the water. It was surprisingly warm, silky and smooth around Xander’s waist.
The pool was about three meters across and sloped down to about a meter deep at the far end. There was a warm, gentle current drifting past Xander’s legs, and the stone beneath his feet had been worn smooth by water and time.
Xander washed the grime off his skin, and it drifted off into the water around him.
Jameson pulled him in deeper and gestured for him to lower his head.
Xander lay in Jameson’s arms, and warm water washed over him, carrying the mud and dirt out of his hair. Jameson massaged his scalp, pulling away the twigs and bits of gunk he’d accumulated on the mad run through the forest in the storm.
Xander’s desire threatened to overwhelm him at Jameson’s gentle touch. He dipped his face into the water and rinsed off. It was so fucking good to get clean.
He shook his head, splashing Jameson, who shot him an aggrieved look.
The look turned into a wicked grin, and Jameson splashed him back. Then they were going after each other and laughing, a fine mist of water flying through the air.
Damn, it’s good to hear you laugh again. Xander grabbed Jameson and kissed him, harder this time, and Jameson’s body responded. They fell back into the water, and Jameson was hard against him, his own need naked before Xander’s desire.
After all that had happened, Xander needed to feel human and alive again. He tugged Jameson back to the shallow part of the pool and pulled his skythane down on top of him, Jameson’s skin warm against his own.
He kissed Jameson’s neck and nibbled on his ear, eliciting a low moan.
Jameson wanted this as much as he did. He could tell.
For a long, slow, ecstatic hour, Xander forgot all about the storm.
The Oberon Cycle books (Skythane and, now, Lander) are an odd but fascinating mix of sci-fi and fantasy. I’ll admit that I personally find that a little harder to get into – am I reading hard tech-in-space or ancient gods and prophecies? Threading my way between the two takes a little more effort. Not that that’s a bad thing, but the merger of two can be challenging. I’m also a touch ambivalent about winged humans because the mechanics of that are rarely truly examined. They’d all have to have ginormously enlarged chests, like a bird’s, to have sufficient musculature to fly, I think, and hollow bones to reduce mass and weight–something that’s a bit glossed over in wing-fic!
All that said, I did find this a fascinating premise. A world split in two parts known as Oberon and Titania, with each half occupying a different dimension. Only a few can cross the boundary. This is a world where some humans, the Skythane, have been genetically altered to grow wings (how? Who did it?), and where two men are fated to unite to two main Skythane nations and reunite the long-sundered halves of the world. So far, so fantasy. But the reason for that world spilt? An incomplete attempt to save it from destructive solar flares, caused by an interstellar war, by moving it into a parallel universe. People get to it on spaceships and shuttles. But when you get there, there are nimfeaches, (a sort of ghostly alien butterfly) and fetches, prophecies and destined fates. The main antagonist here is a commercial company, OverCorp, exploiting the world to mine a drug called pith. So then you’re back in a dirty underworld of criminals and hard men (and women!), ruling a kind of Bladerunner world where people are linked electronically into a worldnet through implants. You can see why my head was spinning a bit.
To keep all this stuff straight and working, you need good worldbuilding. This is something Scott Coatsworth does so very, very well. The competing fantasy/tech threads are woven very cleverly into a consistent picture. That’s hard enough to do in either sci-fi or fantasy. Combining the two? Scott gets major kudos for his achievement here and a bow from yours truly, because worldbuilding is my **jam**. Love it when it’s done well.
The two MCs – Xander and Jameson are the lost princes returning to their realms to reunite the two halves of the world. They do that. And then there are consequences. Real, horrid consequences. So kudos for that too. Actions have to have reactions, and the outcomes are often chaotic. The personal consequence for these two revolves around the one thing I disliked in the first book where one character is fundamentally and irreversibly changed without his consent by the actions of another. That consent issue bugged me then, and comes around to bug both MCs now, leaving them unsure if their mutual attraction is even real. The person who instigated the change, though, is still… well, unpunished, for want of a better term. She feels a bit of guilt, but rationalises everything away in the name of expediency. That, Scott my boy, is still bugging me.
Anyhow, nice character development here as our two MCs get closer, get apart, get closer. Xander’s ex turns up and there is a very neat twist in his character arc that I truly wasn’t expecting. It certainly makes for a good, explosive resolution to book 2 (excellent battle!) just as a far bigger threat than OberCorp is stirring…
All in all, I enjoyed this. It builds neatly on Skythane and sets the scene beautifully for the third book, Ithani (to come). And while in some senses it’s a transitional book, there are enough plot and character resolutions to be a very satisfying read.
(Just as an aside, I love how the cover symbolises everything about this split world, with the shadow down the middle of the man’s face. While naked torsos leave me a bit ‘meh’, I do think that particular aspect of it is clever.)
Scott lives between the here and now and the what could be. Indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine, he devoured her library. But as he grew up, he wondered where the people like him were.
He decided it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at Waldenbooks. If there weren’t gay characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.
His friends say Scott’s brain works a little differently – he sees relationships between things that others miss, and gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He seeks to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.
He runs Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction that reflects their own reality.
Author Website: https://www.jscottcoatsworth.com
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Author Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/J.-Scott-Coatsworth/e/B011AFO4OQ