Sunday, May 4, 2014

Starshine by G. S. Jennsen: Spotlight with Excerpt


 


Science Fiction
Age Recommendation: Mature Reader 
 
 
SPACE IS VAST AND UNTAMED, AND IT HOLDS MANY SECRETS. Now two individuals from opposite ends of settled space are on a collision course with the darkest of those secrets, even as the world threatens to explode around them.

The year is 2322. Humanity has expanded into the stars, inhabiting over 100 worlds across a third of the galaxy. Though thriving as never before, they have discovered neither alien life nor the key to utopia. Earth struggles to retain authority over far-flung planets and free-wheeling corporations while an uneasy armistice with a breakaway federation hangs by a thread as the former rebels rise in wealth and power.

Alexis Solovy is Earth Alliance royalty, her father a fallen war hero and her mother an influential military leader. But she seeks only the freedom of space and has made a fortune by reading the patterns in the chaos to discover the hidden wonders of the stars.

Nothing about her latest objective suggests the secret it conceals will turn her life— not to mention the entire galaxy—upside down. But a chance encounter with a mysterious spy leads to a discovery which will thrust Alex into the middle of a galactic power struggle and a sinister conspiracy, whether she likes it or not.

When faced with its greatest challenge, will humanity rise to triumph, or fall to ruin?

AURORA RISING is an epic tale of galaxy-spanning adventure, of the thrill of discovery and the unquenchable desire to reach ever farther into the unknown. It's a tale of humanity at its best and worst, of love and loss, of fear and heroism. It's the story of a woman who sought the stars and found more than anyone imagined possible.



 
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STARSHINE EXCERPT

 

Alex lugged the unconscious form to the jump seat, deposited it unceremoniously and engaged the safety harness.

Mesh straps emerged from the wall and snaked around to pull him upright in the chair, hands snug against his sides. She activated a web normally used to secure cargo; the subtle silver glimmer barely registered against the gunmetal fabric of his environment suit. She code-locked the web.

Only then did she disengage the suit’s seal and remove the helmet from her captive. A mop of soft, loosely curly black hair tumbled across his forehead and along his neck. She ignored it to scan the manufacturer imprint inside the helmet.

~ 2321, Seneca SpaceEX, Ltd. ~

The accent, of course. “Well that’s just…great.”

She carried the helmet over to a cabinet on the opposite wall and dropped it in a drawer, stripped off her own environment suit and stowed it, then sat down in the cockpit chair. Her toes propelled the chair in agitated circles while her fingers drummed a staccato rhythm on the armrest.

This did not fit in her schedule. Not repairing a gaping fissure in the hull and certainly not babysitting a prisoner. Why did she have to go all honorable and rescue him? She could have simply kept going and everything would have been fine….

Admittedly, there would still be the small matter of the hole in her ship. And he would be dead.

She spun the chair around to face him. The gun rested on her thigh, but her hand maintained a loose grip on the trigger. With a flick of her thumb the nervous-system suppressor field keeping him unconscious dissipated.

It took only a few seconds for the man’s eyelids to begin to flutter, long black lashes beating against tanned olive skin. An additional second ticked by.

His head snapped up. Bright indigo eyes met hers, startlingly clear and alert. She forced herself not to flinch and to meet his gaze coolly.

“You’re Senecan.”

He glared at her with what she took to be cocky contempt, almost as though he hadn’t noticed he was rather extensively restrained. “Are you insane? Why the hell did you shoot me? I didn’t even have a weapon!”

She didn’t answer right away, instead eyeing him appraisingly. Advanced if utilitarian environment suit. Beneath the suit, hints of a lean but athletic build. A taut posture which evoked the impression of a panther poised to spring, restraints be damned. Well-defined but not angular facial features dominated by vibrant, piercing irises.

In sum, every pore of his being oozed one thing…

…okay, fine. Every pore oozed two things. The first was irrelevant.

The second was dangerous. She arched an emphatic eyebrow. “Somehow I don’t think you need a weapon in order to kill me.”

He didn’t argue the point. “And why should I want to kill you?”

“I don’t know, you tell me. You’re the one who opened fire.”

“Merc raiders attacked me on the way here. I thought you were one of them. Are you?”

“No.”                                     

“Well I’d say ‘sorry,’ but seeing as how you shot down my ship then shot me, I’m not feeling particularly generous at the moment.”

She shrugged with intentional mildness, a counter to the intensity of his stare. “Self-defense. What are you doing here?”

“Studying the pulsar. What are you doing here?”

“Just seeing the sights. You’re lying.”

“So are you.”

“Maybe. I’m also the one holding the gun and the key to those restraints.”

“Fair point.” He paused as an odd shadow flickered across his eyes…then chuckled with surprising lightness. “I’m sorry, but I can’t tell you what I’m doing here.”

She nodded deliberately, as if she were contemplating a philosophical assertion, and decided to play a hunch. His lilting and very distinctive accent had vanished, replaced by the generic intonation heard on the largest independent worlds. Such a talent was uncommon, and typically found in a very specific skillset.

She crossed one leg over the other and relaxed a bit in the chair, though the gun remained on her thigh. “Hmm. Well, I suppose that means you’re likely either military, intelligence…or a criminal.”

Her eyes narrowed in pointed accusation. “I bet you’re a criminal. A human slave trafficker, or maybe a gunrunner, arming the violent gang wars on the independents? Or are you a drug dealer…yep, I bet that’s it. I bet you sell hard chimerals to kids so they can burn their brains out, but not until they—”

He growled in palpable frustration. “I wouldn’t do that. Ever.”

She grinned smugly. And she was quite proud of herself. “So military or intelligence, then.”

Her gaze ran down and up the length of his body again, this time for dramatic effect. “And I highly doubt the military would let you keep that mess of a haircut, so intelligence it is.”

His brow furrowed into a tight knot at the bridge of his nose; the muscles of his jaw contracted beneath cheeks shadowed by the hint of stubble. He looked at her as though she resembled some sort of alien creature, perhaps with slimy tentacles swirling about her head, but remained silent.

She took the silence as confirmation. “Why is Senecan Intelligence interested in the Metis Nebula?”

He blinked, and with the act his expression morphed from dismay to wary detachment. “This is unclaimed space. I have as much of a right to be here as you do.”

“Wasn’t what I asked. Why is Senecan Intelligence interested in the Metis Nebula?”

“I still can’t tell you, especially not when you’re Alliance. What are you doing here?”

Her mouth twitched before she managed to squelch it. “What makes you think I’m Alliance? This is a civilian vessel.”

“Oh, you’re not military—though you’re not far removed from it—but you are definitely Alliance.”

“Why?”

“The way you said ‘Senecan.’ Like it was a curse.”

She met his penetrating stare with her own cool one. “It is.”

“Lovely.” The left corner of his mouth curled up in a brazen smirk. She instantly disliked it. “In fact, I’d put credits on you being from Earth.”

“There are sixty-seven Alliance worlds. Why would I be from Earth?”

“Earthers exude this arrogance, this pretentiousness—as though even now, nearly three hundred years after colonization began, they’re still the only people who really count.”

“That is not true.” Her toes swiveled the chair again. Her gaze drifted away from his to stare at the ceiling. Seconds ticked by in silence; she felt him watching her.

Finally she rolled her eyes in reluctant exasperation. “Okay, it’s totally true—but not me. I don’t feel that way.”

His self-satisfied smile noted he could give as good as he got, and knew it. “So you are from Earth.”

Dammit.
 
 
MEET THE AUTHOR
 
 
When she was two years old, G. S. Jennsen informed her parents that she would be learning to read now. She was never again without a book in easy reach.
When she was four, she brought the dinner-table conversation to a screeching halt by inquiring as to what everyone knew about the nature of infinity.
The rest is history. A long, convoluted history that wound across the United States and back again—and back again—through a shocking variety of windowless libraries, windowless corporate boardrooms and windowless engineering labs.
 
 
She has been a corporate attorney, software developer, freelance editor and now author (she finds she prefers the latter). She currently lives in Colorado with her husband and best friend (they're the same person), who works as an electrical engineer, and their two furry, four-legged children.
There are many windows in her home, half of which look out on the Rocky Mountains.
Starshine is her first novel.
 
 
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