Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dark Side of Luna is Live!

Yes indeed, Dark Side of Luna, the sixth and final installment in Series One of Space 1889 and Beyond, is now live. It is available from the Untreed Reads online store, Amazon, Scribd,, Barnes and Noble, and Lightning Source. As always I encourage you to purchase it directly from the Untreed Reads online store as the publisher and authors both get a bigger piece of the action, and of course in this case I am one of those.

The next book, which starts Series Twio but picks up right where Dark Side leaves off, is co-authored any Andy Frankham-Allen and myself, and it's a real plunge into the seamier sides of London and international politics. But that's a different matter. For now, enjoy Dark Side of Luna.

It’s been almost a month since Nathanial and Annabelle rejoined HMAS Sovereign. For Annabelle it’s been a journey of uncertainty; she had expected a happy reunion with George Bedford, first officer of the flagship of Her Majesty’s Royal Navy, but instead he’s been distant. She fears it has something to do with her newfound disability. For Nathanial, however, the journey has been uneventful since he’s spent the entire time locked in the brig under the cloud of treason.

Things change abruptly when Sovereign is ordered to return to Luna, and retrieve Doctor Cyrus Grant, who has been sending increasingly confusing heliograph messages back to Earth. There is an air of uncertainty in Otterbein Base, and concern over Grant’s well-being. Once again he’s gone missing, turning his back on the Selenites and the British research team stationed there – leaving with creatures who are neither human nor Selenite.

A search-and-rescue mission is soon underway, taking our heroes deeper inside Luna than ever before. There they will discover the mysteries of the Drobates, and their amazing City of Light and Science. Annabelle is concerned that her uncle will no longer accept her, and Bedford is concerned that being on Luna once again will have adverse effects on his captain, but these things are the least of their worries. Grant is close to uncovering the answers to an age-old secret, but he is not the only one who seeks this knowledge. A creature stalks the dark underworld of Luna, a creature once human, and quite insane.

Dark Side of Luna is the series one finale of Space: 1889 & Beyond, and signals a new era of political upheaval and adventure for the series, as the key to humanity’s future is unveiled.


BEDFORD LOOKED out of the thick glass of the cutter’s forward lower viewing port and shook his head. He expected robust security at the landing ground of Otterbein Base, but he had not counted on a mob of turbaned and khaki-clad Indian Army men swarming over the area.

“Have a care, Coxswain. Let’s not crush any sowars today when we set down,” he said and the helmsman smiled slightly in reply. The cutter settled gently to the gravel landing ground and had scarcely come to rest when Bedford heard an insistent banging on the main hatch. A Marine corporal undogged the hatch and swung it to the side to show a European of medium height and swarthy complexion in khaki drill and an officer’s Sam Brown belt, but no badges of rank on his bush jacket.

“Who’s that and what’s your purpose?” the man demanded.

“I am Lieutenant Bedford of HMAS Sovereign, and I’m here to see Captain Folkard.”

The man nodded. “Harrison, Punjab Frontier Force, and officer commanding, Otterbein Station.”

“Ah, Colonel Harrison, of course. I did not expect the commanding officer to meet us, sir.”

“Didn’t intend to. We’ve suffered a security breach. Regrettable. Losses, you know, losses all around.”

“Losses all around?” Bedford asked, and he felt his heart accelerate. “The young lady in the party was not…”

“What? There’s a lady down here, too? Damn me if I can keep track. But no, it’s your young officer, Ainsworth. Identified him from his papers. Sorry, one of those damned ants got him. Chopped him up rather badly. Care to look? No? Just as well. Private Anil Singh suffered the same fate. Ghastly. Good chap, Singh. Why’d your people take the cutter away and leave this Ainsworth behind alone, eh?”

“Our people did not take the cutter. The Selenites, probably the ones who attacked him, did. Five of them, with Russian-made Berdans. They took the cutter up and attacked Sovereign.”

“What’s that? Ants with Berdans? Well then, where are your people?”

Bedford stifled an exasperated sigh. “They are still here, Colonel. As I said, I came here to find my captain. I take it you haven’t seen him?”

Harrison looked around, as if he might find the others from Sovereign standing within arm’s reach, then he looked back at Bedford, his expression a mixture of irritation and confusion. “Well damn it, man, if they’re still here, who flew your cutter full of ants away?”

“One of the Selenites, I imagine, as only they were on board when they docked with us.” Bedford no longer kept the sarcasm from his voice, but it was lost on Harrison, as a good deal else seemed to be as well. Bedford caught a faint odour of gin on the colonel’s breath.

“What? No. Ants can’t fly one of those cutters. I’ve never seen one at any rate,” Harrison declared and then nodded forcefully, as if that settled everything.

Bedford judged Harrison the sort of man who considered the absolute boundaries of possibility to be the things he had actually witnessed with his own eyes. Bedford thought that made Harrison a singularly bad choice for lunar duty. Well, that was the Army for you.

“I wonder, Colonel, if you could have your men clear enough of the landing ground for my coxswains to bring the other three cutters down? One of the men is new to his job and I wouldn’t want him to injure any of your sowars.”

Harrison turned away to clear his men off the field as another man, of slighter build and in a suit coat instead of khaki, trotted up from the direction of the main building. He paused for a moment to catch his breath and mop his brow with a handkerchief, and then extended his hand.

“Professor Robert George, director of the base,” he said. Bedford shook his hand and introduced himself and again asked after the landing party.

“Captain Folkard and his men, and Doctor Grant’s niece, have gone in pursuit of Grant. Three Selenites accompanied them. They have been gone some hours, I know not in what direction.”

“You do not think they have approached the Heart?”

“The Heart is made up of many parts, Lieutenant. Colonel Harrison has posted guard details at those nearby parts we know of, but I doubt any man, even Grant, knows where every piece of the Heart is located.”

Bedford frowned. He hadn’t really expected to find Folkard and the others here at the base, but he had hoped for more useful intelligence than this. The Marines poured out the open hatchways of the cutters and now formed a double line on the gravel landing ground, barked into place by their colour sergeant. Major Larkins and his vice, Lieutenant Booth, joined Bedford and Director George.

“Ships troops assembled and ready,” Larkins said casually after Bedford made the introductions. “Your orders, Lieutenant?”

Bedford noted that Larkin stopped short of calling him “sir”. Larkins outranked Bedford, but as a Marine officer he was not in the ship’s chain of command, and so long as he was assigned to Sovereign, he obeyed its master. It may have rankled him to take orders from someone this junior to him, but that was the Navy for you. Colonel Harrison wandered back to join the group and Bedford used the opportunity of another round of introductions to think through what his next move should be.

“Colonel Harrison,” he said, “I believe the Berdan rifles suggest a continued Russian presence on Luna. Someone armed those red Selenites, someone taught them how to use a breach-loading rifle…”

“Not very well, I shouldn’t think, or you wouldn’t be standing here now,” Major Larkins put in.

“Thank you, Major, that may be true. But the fact remains someone did arm and train them, however inadequately, and most importantly someone taught one of them to fly a cutter equipped with a Grant-Stone-pattern aether propeller governor.”

“Oh, I see,” Director George said and mopped his brow again. “That is quite extraordinary. I should like to have seen the Selenite pilot your craft. I would not have thought they had the forelimb manual dexterity to do so.”

“Nevertheless,” Bedford said.

“Well I still don’t believe it,” Harrison grumbled. “Oh, the Russkies are probably behind it all, you’re right on the score, but I warrant some tsarist hero piloted the ants to your ship and jumped clear immediately before they docked, just to throw us off the scent.”

“How would he have survived?” Director George asked.

“Survived? How does that enter into it? Those chaps don’t put the same value on human life we do,” Harrison said.

Major Larkins looked at Harrison and then at Bedford. Bedford met his eyes and, though neither man’s expression changed, they understood each other: Harrison was a fool.

“It’s still very odd, though,” Harrison continued. “I haven’t seen evidence of Russians in this part of Luna for quite some time. Indeed, the only relic of their occupation left is the wreck of their flyer Borodino, on the opposite side of the reservoir.”

Bedford narrowed his eyes. “Take me there.”


  1. I realise I'm going to sound like a bit of a heathen, but are these novels ever going to be available as real (ie print) books (for those f us who can neither afford a tablet/reader nor have any interest in getting one)?

    1. Tim, you don't sound like a heathen at all -- more like a Luddite. :^)

      It's a fair question but I do not have a firm answer for you. Untreed Reads is, as their name suggests, a completely e-only publisher. Since I and the other authors retain all print rights, it's certainly possible these books can appear in print form, but that requires a print publisher interested in doing so. It's certainly possible, and we've had one nibble, but nothing real yet. When and if we close a deal, you'll hear about it here.

      In the mean time, and if you really don't want to get sucked into the reader/tablet world, you can buy these titles from Untreed Reads as pdfs and read them on your home computer. What could be better? (I know, the feel of real paper in your hands.)

    2. Thank you, Frank. I shall be keeping an eye out then for news about future print publications... or perhaps someone will offer to produce them as audiobooks ;)