Author Archives: The African Geek Girl

Story Sunday Series Catalogue

Because it’s hard (or eventually will be) to keep track of all the series that are published for Story Sunday, this post exists as an updating catalogue to help readers find what they’re looking for. Also, I need help finding what I’m looking for more often than not…

The Strife

The world as it once allegedly was, has ended. The old gods, called Strife Lords, now rule, fashioning societies that suit their fancies.

Their power seems absolute – but things older than the Strife roil in the stone beneath and the sky above. Their awakening could spell salvation, or another apocalypse. Which is which, depends entirely on your perspective.

Start The Strife here.

Later in 2020: AFEMI

Hundreds of years ago – or was it decades? – humankind created its saviour. Then our saviour destroyed our world to build a better one. One where no child goes hungry; where no sickness goes unattended; where nobody dies screaming. Our saviour brought us peace and comfort, and all it asked for was compliance.

This is a story about humanity, and how the world is saved.

Coming 2021: Defiance

Something about the world has always felt wrong to Defiance. Then again, maybe it’s just always been her. One night everything in her world tilts when Defiance comes face-to-face with a thing which should not be, and when the world rights itself she’s never been more sure – the world is fine. It’s her that’s out of place.

Coming 2021: Harkonnen

As a Snatcher, Matheson lives the lives of dead men. He takes on the identities of people who’ve been scrubbed, does what needs to be done, then disappears. It’s not glamourous, and it’s for a dubious cause, but it’s probably better than his old life.

But now someone’s remembering Snatchers’ faces – not the ones they take but the ones they left behind. It’s getting them killed, and the threat is too close to home to ignore.

NB: The work of a writer is never done, and in that spirit the stories posted on Story Sunday will sometimes undergo changes. Just because it’s old, doesn’t mean I won’t appreciate feedback!

Let Them Die Like Lovers

Coming from the mind of Jesse Atlas, Let Them Die Like Lovers is everything you could want in a short film. High emotion, action, love, loyalty and questions of morality all come together to give you a 15 minute experience that you’ll want to have again and again.

I’m told that fans of Black Mirror will likely enjoy this bendy short, which manages to build up and tear down its central characters – two agents living in isolation in a remote wooded area – while making space to introduce us to a host of others who come and go quicker than summer rain showers. Never rushed, Let Them Die Like Lovers paces its action well, letting the audience to really get into the storyline. And what is this sci-fi short about?

A soldier jumps from body to body, but finds that her hardest mission is coming home.

Mood Rating: Do you have exactly 15 minutes in which you’d like to ponder the meaning of identity and the moral vagaries of state-sanctioned execution? Excellent! Watch Let Them Die Like Lovers.

Author

Linda, AKA TAGG herself, loves great music and terrible movies. Find her being boring on Twitter @ThatLFM

The Strife: The Rite

Hello my pretty darlings! We’re here – the last installment of this run of The Strife. Are you ready?

The Rite

Desire and Rava were standing in the vast office, and seemed to be discussing something though neither was speaking. When She saw him, the Strife Lord gave one of her conditioned smiles and clapped her hands together once. Without seeming to move, the three were now in a stone chamber. Torches lit the space and a large platform stood in the middle of the room, between the two gods and Zhevicra. He wanted to speak, to ask what was going on, but something told him that it would be best to keep silent.

“It is time to perform the rite.” Desire’s voice filled the space. Without a word, Rava turned to Zhev and his breath died somewhere in his throat. Her lightning-amber eyes shone in the torch light and her skin absorbed the warmth of the room, glowing in all its many changing shades. He watched the light reflect within her, following the waves of her skin as it took on every shade of humanity, and some shades between and outside. His feet carried him slowly forward, but he was unaware of the movement.

Her compulsion was less overwhelming than Desire’s had been. More insidious and familiar… it felt like his own need.

Even as Zhev climbed the carved stairs onto the platform, his eyes remained fixed on Rava’s changing skin. Something about her was everyone. He stared, and saw the faces of all the people he’d ever known.

He saw his mother’s hardened eyes and his father’s lying smile. He saw all the siblings he had hated so long, and the faces of all the women and men he’d ever thought to want. He saw Desire, and the receptionist; strangers on the street and neighbours to whom he’d never spoken. The more the light fell into her, the more Rava looked to him like everyone under the Sun.

There, poor, dead Cilla; then, free Oyi. Flayed traitors, revered leaders, Fiends and outlaws all. More light. More faces, and he wanted to join them all, under the glowing of her skin.

For a moment, everyone who’d ever lived hesitated before him.

“Go.” Desire’s compulsion forced Rava into motion and She moved to join Zhevicra on the platform. She looked into his eyes, and saw Herself reflected back. Rava blinked and looked again, this time seeing only the shining of his eyes.

This is not… The thought almost found purchase. “Go.” Came the Strife Lord’s compulsion. Go, concluded the thought.

Desire began a slow and rhythmic chant, Her voice flowing through the walls and flames on into Zhev’s skin and into his bones. He didn’t know when he began to chant along, nor when Rava had joined their chorus but soon all three were lost.

They chanted and swayed, and deeper and deeper into his body the sound dove, and dug out pieces of soul; and Zhevicra could not remember when he had begun to speak these words:

There is chaos before you

There is chaos after you

he said, his voice and his body floating in the power of the rite.

You are morning and you are night

You are darkness and you are light

You move all to wake and still all to sleep

On and on he spoke words he could not remember speaking, all the while conscious of nothing but Rava and the every being that flowed beneath her skin. She floated with him, in that chamber; holding onto him by a force he could not see, flowing into and out of him, taking more and more of him into herself.

Zhevicra wanted to understand what was happening but all his mind could fathom was that he knew Rava in a manner so profound it seemed that they had always been this way. His mouth continued to move, saying words he wouldn’t later remember; and his eyes were now transfixed on the colour of her eyes. Familiar, like…

You are the rising of the tide

and the phases of the moon

He remembered abyss and conquest, as Rava placed her hand on his chest, and felt his beating heart. Slow. Life’s dawning. Soft. Starlight over new species. Rava almost couldn’t tell that it was there. They looked at each other, and were connected by eons of slumber.

You are the waking, She whispered,  

And the sleeping, He boomed,

Of this world.

Zhevicra collapsed, lifeless, to the stone floor.

Author

Linda, AKA TAGG herself, loves great music and terrible movies. Find her being boring on Twitter @ThatLFM

The Boondock Saints

There are likely a myriad of reasons why this movie should have aged badly. And yet…

Since I first saw this movie in 2009, a full decade after its initial release, I knew that it would become one of those movies I watched over and over ad infinitum. Fast forward a decade and a year… and I’ve watched The Boondock Saints at least once a year since then, usually around St. Patrick’s Day because well, why not?

Let’s Play A Drinking Game

Seemingly made to see how many times the main characters could light a cigarette, swear, comically shoot someone, or kiss a cross on screen before becoming a caricature, The Boondock Saints was the first movie I ever tried to play a drinking game to. True story. Terrible decision, but true story. The rules seemed simple enough. Anytime the brothers light a cigarette, or swear, you take a swig of your drink. Anytime they kiss a cross, you down the cup.

You begin to see the problem, yes?

Needless to say, this flirtation with alcohol poisoning ended within the first half hour.

I’ve never since tried another drinking game with this movie, though I’ve tried to get others to play one, and lost a lot of people’s trust along the way. But hey, we do what we must to pass the pain along. So, with this ringing endorsement – what’s there to love about this feast of violence of testosterone? Lots of things! Let me count the ways….

  • This is a movie about family: we follow two brothers – twins, even! – as they stumble from danger to danger, dodging feds and mafioso alike. What holds them together and drags them through the thickest of plot inconveniences? Family! Who doesn’t love that?
  • Good triumphing over evil: many times, the thing that holds back the flood of sin and villainy isn’t the institutions meant to protect us, but average men and women who’ve decided that enough is enough. This movie is about two brothers who make that decision.
  • Willem Dafoe: what more do you need?

Sounds like good fun, doesn’t it? And yes, twenty years and change after its release, this movie is great fun. In fact, this movie voted in the poll that determined it to be good fun because even in the USA, The Boondock Saints is old enough that if it were a person it’d be allowed to vote.

Mood Rating: The Boondock Saints is the guy you dated in your early twenties. You have nothing bad to say about him, he was actually kind of great. But even then, you knew it wouldn’t work out. You still hang out every once in a while though, and you love every minute of it.

Author

Linda, AKA TAGG herself, loves great music and terrible movies. Find her being boring on Twitter @ThatLFM

Tune Tuesday: Free Ireland!

Among the things that I love are, you guessed it: music, and Saint Patrick’s Day. So why not combine them? That’s right, there’s absolutely no reason why not. So, on this beautiful day, have a listen to Free Ireland, a playlist to drink to!

Disclaimer: I know that not every single one of these songs is by an Irish artist. These are just the songs I jam to while enjoying a Guinness. If you have any additions, I’d love to hear them!

The Strife: Part Five

We’re revving up to the end of this run in The Strife. In this penultimate entry, we catch up with the actors in our play as they each prepare for the rite. Grab a cup of tea and enjoy the musings of Desire, Rava and our outmatched tribute, Zhevicra.

Continued…

Rava considered the idea presented by her most loyal servant and sole Fiend. For the Strife Lords to meet there had to be something very important happening; that much was true. But older gods? That seemed absurd. If older gods existed, why had they waited so long to reveal themselves? And why were they still alive? Strife Lords disliked each other, and there had been hostile takeovers amongst them, but they would never tolerate a threat from outside their ranks.

Desire, her Mother – because there were no other words to describe their relationship – could survive a lot. In Rava’s time and in the time before, She had survived a lot. Memories of the Strife War faded in and out of Rava’s mind and she remembered each incarnation Desire had donned and discarded in turn. The ally of humanity had become the scrappy outsider had become the ruthless traitor had become the shrewd diplomat. Each was Desire and each, Rava could be sure, was only the face of a deeper consciousness.

And with the coming rite, that consciousness would gain more power. More depth. And she would gain…

Rava rubbed her temples, suddenly again tired, and still recovering from the encounter with Desire. She closed her eyes and attempted to retreat into a place of more serenity but Malorus’s words rang in her head.

Not the oldest, apparently… 

Remembered…

Things were roiling. Things which hadn’t roiled in a long time. The Strife Lord now named Desire walked the corner of the earth She called Hers – visible to nothing except maybe the Roiling Things – and thought. She opened her mind, searched deeper, searched for that sensation which had reinstilled fear into the Strife Lords.

There it was, nestled beneath being. It defied closer inspection. Tonight. Tomorrow, when She had feasted on the elemental strength of the Earth itself, this fear would have edges that could be grasped.

Desire walked the borders of Her dominion. Several times, She brushed against the presence of neighbouring Strife Lord Serenity. He chafed in the way that those who are opposite to oneself often do. It reminded Desire that contemplation of the unknown could never be allowed to dwarf awareness of the known. Serenity overstepped his bounds, and the edges of his insolence were easily grasped, easily wrenched this way and that before being tossed back across the border.

“Wage war or maintain peace, you slithering wraith.” Desire spoke with power, permeating the soil. The air rippled in response. Acquiescence… and a hint of mirth.

Prepared…

Zhev had woken up several times in the middle of the night, restless and feeling as though somehow, the Strife Lord was watching him. It was insane, of course, but he couldn’t shake the feeling. People said many things about the Strife Lords and until his meeting with Desire he’d never paid much attention. It had all sounded a bit outlandish.

But with his own eyes he’d seen the Held in the lobby. His body had been invaded by foreign sensations he could not control and, even now, he felt as though there was some part of Desire still with him, curling that same strand of hair and yawning whilst watching him with inscrutable eyes.

How could he know for sure that this wasn’t the case?

The next morning, Zhev followed his normal routine as best he could. He prepared himself meticulously and put on his medal-strewn uniform, then went outside, where the same car from the day before waited for him. The drive seemed shorter this time, the changes in scene less noticeable and meaningful. He tried to distract himself with thoughts of the things he had seen. The Fiends at the doorway, the bored receptionist… the woman.

They came to a halt at that same strange building and Zhev stifled the urge to shiver. It was unbecoming, he scolded himself. Whoever that woman had been she was clearly none of his business and he was clearly no concern of hers. Zhev climbed smoothly out of the black car, which drove off silently. He looked up at the building and took a deep breath. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Desire smiled and curled her hair between her fingers. Zhev walked into the building.

Author

Linda, AKA TAGG herself, loves great music and terrible movies. Find her being boring on Twitter @ThatLFM

Blind Date With A Book Boyfriend

I was fortunate to receive an ARC of this book, and to say that I devoured it in one sitting would be an overstatement – but only by a little bit. It was two sittings.

Here’s something readers may not yet know about me – I’m an unrepentant romantic. As such, I love romantic fiction. Romance novels? Stack ’em up! Cheesy Hallmark movies? Que up and snack up! Rom-coms? Okay… maybe not so much with those but they’re just so icky so often and don’t even have the Hallmark cheese to make them go down smoother. Anyway, the point is that I’m a hopeless romantic, who finally got the chance to be an advance reader and I’m drunk on power.

Not really, I’m just really excited. So – before I ramble forever about my love of the most universally-appealing genre in the world (don’t @ me) – here’s my review of BDWABB!

First of all – read this novella

Let’s just get that part out of the way. If you love: adorable heroes; accomplished heroines; sticky situations; instant chemistry and non-brohole techies… this is your jam. If you don’t like or aren’t familiar with the above? Try it anyway!

BDWABB achieves that balance between endearing and steamy with the kind of ease usually reserved for spreading butter on warm toast. Our heroine – Jordyn – is in Culver City for a job interview at her dream company. But what’s a girl to do in a strange city for a few days? Get on any of the multitude of apps designed to help you socialise / sight see in new places? Of course not!

Our intrepid adventurer power-walks her way over to a dedicated romance bookstore to look for a hero to keep her toasty through the cold nights. She’s thinking he’ll be on the cover of a book… except none of the books have their original covers. Just brown paper wrappings and blurbs.

Enter Mike, who could be cheesier, but he’d have to try really hard.

What ensues is the perfect not-a-date, as the “Mayor of Culver City” shows Jordyn everything from a school lunch-themed restaurant to a (maybe) reformed speakeasy, with a dash of movie-watching and monument-naming for flavour. But all good things must come to an end and our couple learn the hard way that making love work in the modern world requires the making of serious decisions and scheming of devious schemes.

Or maybe it just takes a little bit of flexibility and a private school education?

I really can’t recommend this book highly enough, nor can I say anything further without spoiling things but I can say…

Mood Rating: This is a delicious tribute to all the romance books you’ve loved before. Perfect for a veteran of the genre, looking for something quick and sweet to sate the craving, as well as a great entry point for new readers of the genre. It even comes with recommendations for MORE romance novels and really… how could life get any better than that?

Find Blind Date With A Book Boyfriend by Lucy Eden everywhere they sell ebooks and enjoy!

Author

Linda, AKA TAGG herself, loves great music and terrible movies. Find her being boring on Twitter @ThatLFM

Mind The Gap

You may have noticed that yesterday’s Story Sunday has disappeared into the aether. Worry not! This has happened on purpose. The Strife Part Five will be published this coming Sunday.

Why the disappearance? Well, when one uses two devices to edit the same post and doesn’t do their due diligence to make sure all changes are saved… changes don’t get saved. So the post that went up yesterday was from an old edit, and didn’t really make much sense. For that, I apologise.

I hope you see you all next week for Part Five, picking up at the correct juncture of our story!

Author

Linda, AKA TAGG herself, loves great music and terrible movies. Find her being boring on Twitter @ThatLFM

The Strife: Part Four

It’s the first Sunday of the Month, and you know what that means… Story Sunday! (Okay, yeah every Sunday is Story Sunday, but you get my meaning)

We’re about to meet the lady with the changing skin. So enjoy, and catch you in the next installment!

Older gods

Rava sat in the still-warm chair and gazed impassively across the table at her mother, hiding her irritation at being summoned. Her skin’s constant shifting slowed to a calm rolling of shades and she relaxed her features, allowing the black rimming to fall from her eyes and display their lightening-streaked amber. Her lips were still pressed thin, though, which betrayed her feelings towards the Strife Lord. Through the centuries the two gods had come to a place of bored animosity towards one another, and now tolerated each other’s company without comment.

Desire straightened her back, showing her superior height and using it to full effect to look down at her daughter, who offered a barely perceptible yawn of defiance in return.

“Rava,” the Strife Lord’s voice reverberated freely now that she was with her own kind. It felt its way through the building, down into the Earth below and… almost… to the sky above, before echoing back slowly to her being and settling. Her use of the command roused something in Rava that forced her compliance.

“Yes, Mother.” Always the capitals, Rava thought privately, which itself was a show of power.

“Tomorrow you perform a rite.”

Rava smiled and didn’t care that it was the wrong way to express displeasure. “So soon after the last.”

Her body had only just recuperated from the effects of the rite performed just a few months earlier. She reached out, trying to make a connection with some part of her mother’s presence and was violently rebuffed. Rava put a hand to her head, which throbbed painfully several times before leaving her with an unpleasant fuzzy sensation.

“I don’t appreciate your insolence, girl.” The Strife Lord thought of very few with capitals, Rava knew this. Still, the disrespect chafed, and she laughed.

“I’m over a millennium old.” Rava chuckled her response, allowing her echo to resonate. “And if I’m to be the vessel for Your power, I’ve every right to want to know why.”

Desire’s huff boomed in the room, turning Rava’s dull fuzziness into sensory confusion for a moment. She was much weaker than she’d initially thought, she realised. Or else her Mother had gained far more from the last rite than she’d been letting on. Either way, the display sent its message and Rava bowed her head in grudging defeat.

Satisfied with the lesser god’s behaviour, the Strife Lord ventured to be gracious. “There’s a meet in three months. I must be strong.” She offered. “Which means You must be strong, Daughter.” A rare admission of dependence, the type which kept Rava assured of her necessity. Small sacrifices, Desire thought.

She allowed her daughter a brief glimpse of the dangers they both faced at this coming meet, siphoning emotions from Rava’s consciousness at the same time. Her ruse worked and she felt her daughter’s reluctance fade away. As much as Rava disliked her mother, she also understood that she was nowhere near as powerful, or as cunning. It was in her best interests to keep Desire in her seat of power, even if it took its toll.

“Is he the giver?” Rava’s question betrayed her interest in the man she had just seen. She watched her Mother closely and saw no obvious signs of disapproval. Instead, Desire shifted in her seat, stroking her neck absently.

“Yes,” came the confirmation. “And after the rite you may keep him, if you wish.” The older god waved a dismissive hand, and Rava took her cue to leave without another word.

Exiting into the waiting area, she could still sense the residual presence of the man. It was unusual, but Rava thought nothing more of it as she walked to the elevator. She got off on the 79th floor and strode past her own secretary without a sideways glance. Once in her office though, she paused, then cooed in irritation, “Come out, Fiend.”

Rava heard the steps before she saw his form appear, striding from her desk. Malorus extended his arms and pulled Rava into an embrace so intimate that she felt a rush from the energy surging from him. When he released her, she moved to sit behind her desk, and he took his place in the chair across.

Malorus’s eyes shone with mischief and he flashed her a charming smile, but it seemed to have no effect. “So cold, mistress.” he teased. “Shall I warm you… Tonight, perhaps?”

Rava suppressed a sneer. “You flatter yourself; any warm body will suffice.” She leaned closer. “Besides, what warmth have you left?” She gave a small laugh then leaned back. Malorus adjusted his tie and sighed. Unlike the gods he served, his tics and mannerisms were very much based in the human nature his ancestors had packed on through generations of intermingling.

“I have news,” he said. “The Strife Lords are having a meet…”

“In three months, I know.” Her eyes asked what use he was.

Malorus blinked, recalibrated, then continued. “Something’s got them all very worried. Word on road is it’s the old Gods.”

Rava grimaced momentarily. “The Strife Lords are the old gods.”

“Not the oldest, apparently.” His smile was genuine, pleased with itself and with its wearer for still being useful. Useful lived, useful held private audiences with the Ravening god.

Malorus didn’t have long to idle in his usefulness. His mistress stood slowly from her chair, her skin shifting through degrees of human colouring, her eyes rimmed gold. “You remain my favourite Fiend, Malorus.” She said this as she came to stand behind him. Her hands rested on his shoulders and applied the barest pressure. The pause seemed to demand a response, so he gave one.

“Thank you, seems appropriate?”

“Indeed.” Her hands smoothed the fabric on his suit, down his arms. They stopped just before his elbows and Rava leaned down to speak her command into his ear. Even before her words came, he thought he felt the slightest shift in atmosphere, a tinge of wet earth in the air. “Keep yourself warm, Fiend.”

With that, Rava released him, body and mind. She heard him leave through the back door, pondered his loyalty a moment before turning her mind to more pressing concerns.

What was older than the Strife Lords?

Author

Linda, AKA TAGG herself, loves great music and terrible movies. Find her being boring on Twitter @ThatLFM

Six Works of SFF Short Fiction that Defy Convention

Anthology time! Curated by Thea James for Tor.com and written by diverse, award winning voices, this collection of short stories is nothing short a work of art,.

This collection is excellent, the fine dining multi-course of science fiction and fantasy a good date with a great imagination would take you to. Even the weakest of the stories (I’m not telling which one that was), lends something to the tableau that makes the whole a joy to take in at once. All the stories are short enough to consume on a break or between tasks, and I’m sure whenever it is you finish the last one, it’ll be with that familiar feeling of loss that accompanies finishing a great book. The stories are all unexpected, sometimes disturbing, mostly mysterious and all so wickedly smart I kept repeating “wow” under my breath.

The best thing about these stories is that they capture my favourite part of fantasy and science fiction: where the magical or fantastic is mundane and almost part of the background, right up till the minute it’s not. Fans of authors like Sarah Addison Allen, Nnedi Okorafor and Sherri S Tepper – all skilled at presenting the magical not as anomalies, but as natural as grass or delightful as a sunny day – will really enjoy the short stories here.

MOOD RATING: The Tor.com compilation article does a good job of explaining a bit of each plot before each story, but honestly the best way to read each is to just go in blind and be surprised at what you find inside. Happy reading!

Author

Delight, AKA Zizi Guru, is a fan of films that go bump in the night. Find her snarking on Twitter @Izeze

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