The Lone Wolf Anthology

A Dark Fantasy Story Collection

Check it out, a new, Amazon Exclusive book featuring some Book of Deacon lore!

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A while back, a fellow author named Derek Siddoway approached me to make a pair of contributions to an anthology of short stories he was putting together. He was calling it The Lone Wolf Anthology, and thus the theme of the anthology should be pretty easy to figure out. This one’s all about characters who prefer to work alone.

It’s a pretty darn good lineup, so before I talk about my contribution, look at the authors in this thing, here paired up with their most famous series:

  • Introduction by Michael Fletcher (Manifest Delusions)
  • Ben Galley (Emaneska, The Scarlet Star Trilogy)
  • Derek Alan Siddoway (Teutevar Saga)
  • James Downe (Legacy of Ash)
  • Joseph R. Lallo (The Book of Deacon)
  • Jeffrey Poole (Tales of Lentari, Bakkian Chronicles)
  • Timandra Whitecastle (The Living Blade)
  • Michael D. LeFevre (Ghost of the Black Bull)
  • Damon J. Courtney (Dragon Bond)

Nice, huh? It seemed like it would be a fun project, so I put some thought into it and asked a few fans. Naturally one character in particular comes to mind when one uses the phrase “lone wolf” in my stories… though maybe “lone fox” would make more sense. Alas, Lain is still slotted for a few LONGER stories, so I felt the short should focus on someone who has never had the spotlight. Thus, a character which is technically named Rasa but is known by some fans as “The Frozen Chosen” got his moment to shine. I call the story The Rules of the Game.

However, I was asked to write two stories. For the second one, I decided to adapt one of those famous “Bad Idea Exercises” that had clogged my brain for far too long. Originally it was an idea slated for Ivy, but trying to work it into one of the other stories really felt like it was a stretch, so I set it aside. Now it is a standalone story with a musical twist that I call The Dwarfendam Run.

Both are short stories, somewhere in the 8,000 to 10,000 word range, and they join a host of other great tales. Right now the book is available exclusively on Amazon and you can read it for free if you’ve got access to Kindle Unlimited, so check it out!

A New Sci-Fi Bundle

Well what do you know, two newsletters in a row about bundles!

Hi everyone! For a while, I’ve been downright taunting you with a gorgeous cover for the Big Sigma Collection: Volume 1. Well, good news. The wait is over. But, even better news, that book is not coming going to be alone!

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I’m pleased to announce the latest of the bundles I’ve curated for StoryBundle. We’re calling it the Sci-Fi Adventure Bundle, and it might just be the biggest and best bundle I’ve put together so far. If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you’re already aware of StoryBundle. For the newcomers, here’s the quick version:
StoryBundle puts together collections of books to be sold for a limited time at a price of your choosing. These are eBooks, free of pesky DRM, and usable on just about any ebook platform you’re likely to have. There’s an entry level which you can get for as little as $5, and a bonus level starting at $15 that’ll get you a bunch of bonus books, and you can even designate a slice of your payment to go to one of the associated charities.

So, what have I picked for you good people? Oh, I think you’ll like it. In the $5 base bundle you get:

  • Cyborg Legacy by Lindsay Buroker
  • The Big Sigma Collection: Volume 1 by yours truly (more on this in the next section of this very email.)
  • Undersea by Geoffrey Morrison
  • Shifting Reality by Patty Jansen

If you’re feeling like a big spender and have $15 or more dollars to toss around, you get this whole haul:

  • Brining Stella Home by Joe Vasicek
  • Temporal Contingency by me again.
  • Undersea Atrophia by Geoffrey Morrison
  • Oasis by Dima Zales
  • Stopover at the Backworlds’ Edge by M. Pax
  • Ambassador 1A: The Sahara Conspiracy by Patty Jansen
  • Contract of Betrayal by Tammy Salyer
  • Scavenger: Evolution by Timothy C. Ward

And if you’re on the StoryBundle mailing list, you got TWO MORE BOOKS, Seeing Red by Patty Jansen and The Backworlds by M. Pax.

Pretty good, huh? I handpicked these authors either because the book itself is top notch or because they have proved time and again that they are masters of the genre. “But Jo,” you may ask, “Does that mean you haven’t read every one of these books?” As a matter of fact, I haven’t! Because Cyborg Legacy didn’t exist until shortly before this bundle was ready to launch. That’s right, Lindsay Buroker is debuting that title right here in the bundle. And let’s not forget that The Big Sigma Collection is debuting here as well! Scroll down to read the details about that little title, but not before you pick up the bundle!

The Big Sigma Collection

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Like The Book of Deacon Anthology, The Big Sigma Collection is intended to be a starting point for people who want to read my sci-fi stories but don’t want to have to buy a whole stack of books. The collection includes all three of the first books in the series: Bypass Gemini, Unstable Prototypes, and Artificial Evolution. But rather than just gathering together a bunch of stuff you’ve already read, I also took some time last year to write three brand new stories:

  • Squee’s Day Out – An unlikely short story about Squee the Funk’s mischievous adventure while Lex and Michella are away.
  • Building the Perfect Pet – The untold story of how Solby the Funk came to be.
  • Beta Testers – A novella detailing the first time Garotte and Silo worked together in an unsanctioned military operation.

Combined, these new stories total about 75,000 words. For people who write normal length books, that’s a whole new novel. For people like me who tend toward the longer stories, it’s about half of one. Either way, a few hours of fresh reading for you.

Here’s where the bundle above comes in. It would be a pain to have to buy three books you already own just to get the new short stories, wouldn’t it? Well, if you buy that bundle, whether you get the standard or bonus bundle levels, if you pay the lowest amount, that works out to about a dollar a book. Which means you can get the collection for about a buck, which is a fair price for a trio of brand new short stories, I’d say.

“But Jo,” you might object, “I don’t want to have to pay for all of those other books, regardless of how good you claim they are.”

Well, Mr./Mrs. Doubter, I’ve got good news for you! Once the bundle is over (next month), there will be a very short pre-order and then this book will be available for $7.99 in all the usual places, purchasable by itself on the device of your preference.

“But Jo,” you might further object, “What if I don’t want to have to pay so much just to get a few extra short stories?”

Well, my frugal friend, there’s a solution for you as well, but it involves that rarest of traits: patience. Over the course of the next five months I will be rolling out one story per month as newsletter perks. This will include all three short stories included here, plus a pair of fantasy stories we’ll discuss in the weeks ahead.

So there you go! Pick up the Bundle to get this for a price of your choice (as little as $5 for it and four other books), buy it in February for $7.99, or wait and get the new stuff for free. Whatever you do, I hope you enjoy it!

Looking Back on 2016 and Looking Forward to 2017

It’s been a heck of a year, hasn’t it folks? Don’t worry. This isn’t a post about how awful 2016 was. There are plenty of those to go around. Instead, I’m going to talk a bit about what this year looked like from the point of view of my writing and self-publishing journey. First let’s look at the new releases.

In 2016 I put out four full length titles: Temporal Contingency (Big Sigma 4), Ichor Well (Free-Wrench 3), The Redemption of Desmeres (The Book of Deacon 3.5), and Between. I can’t say any of them were blockbusters, but those of you that have read them all seem quite satisfied. The reviews I’ve gotten are positive, and while they haven’t all made back their cost, they’re still earning, so it’s just a matter of time.

Aside from my direct releases, there are also a few supplementary releases to talk about. I self-financed a reading of The D’Karon Apprentice (Book of Deacon 4). It’s the second audio book I’ve done via ACX, and though I’m thrilled with the narration and the quality of the result, it looks like it’s going to be a long time before I earn back the cost. A good performer costs money, and as it stands right now, the demand for audio editions of my stories doesn’t quite justify it.

Meanwhile, Books in Motion picked up several of my other stories for publication. This year Bypass Gemini and Unstable Prototypes released. Since they paid me an advance, technically I’ve already made a profit on those. Neat, huh?

The Great Convergence was released in Germany and has been quite successful, might I add.

In non-book news, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing Podcast, which I co-host with Lindsay Buroker and Jeff Poole, passed the 100th episode. We’re developing quite a following, and I’ve heard from a number of people that it has been extremely helpful, and ranks among their favorite author podcasts. Its humbling to be of value to my fellow author types, and though Lindsay is unquestionably the driving force of the podcast, I’m happy to add what value I can.

Whenever I commission a piece of art, particularly figurines, I always get a bunch of people asking me where they can buy one. In 2016 I decided to give people that option, if they had deep enough pockets. The figurines I commission cost at least $100 a piece (often much more) but thanks to the sculpting prowess Leilia Clay and the digital artistry of Liz Landis, I was able to make Solby/Squee and Myn available in full color or one color 3D prints via Shapeways. You can also get a nifty Myn Pendant and some other stuff, if you’re interested.

While we’re on the subject, I also had some neat stickers printed, and I’ve still got some bookmarks and bookplates. You can only get those by sending me a self-addressed, stamped envelope (international folks, email me to figure out the postage alternative). Send your letters (and goodies, why not?) to:

Joseph R. Lallo
PO Box 190
Colonia, NJ 07067

 

So that’s the year that was. Now, let’s look ahead.

I’ve got a few things already finished and either awaiting an edit or a cover. There’s The Big Sigma Collection: Volume 1, which will release next month (hopefully). I’ve also completed Free-Wrench 4, and a story called Pizza Dragon. There’s also a short story collection called “Lone Wolf” that will include two stories, one of which is in the Book of Deacon series.

Thanks to a vote, at least Book of Deacon 5 and probably The Rise of the Red Shadow 2 will be written next year as well.

There are some new things I’m trying for 2017, too. For the first time, I’m writing something in someone else’s setting. Lindsay Buroker opened up her Fallen Empire series for Kindle Worlds, and I’ve thrown my hat in the ring to write something. I wrote the first words in that project today and I’m going to try my darnedest to get it released for the official launch in April. I’ve also written a children’s book that is being illustrated as we speak.

You can also expect to see Artificial Evolution become an audio book, as well as at least Free-Wrench, if not Skykeep as well.

Aside from the writing, what are my plans for 2017? Well, like everyone I’m hoping to get a little healthier. I wasn’t as disciplined as I’d like to be in almost any way this year, and I’m hoping I can improve that next year. That means higher word counts, and more books overall. Hopefully I can get on a better schedule, too. And frankly, the time has come to start reading more regularly. My brain needs feeding.

That’s about it for me! Hope you had a good 2016 and here’s hoping for an even better 2017.

The Leading Ladies Bundle

The D’Karon Apprentice joins an epic lineup of fantasy stories with non-distressed damsels

If you’ve read just about any of my books, you’ll know that I’m no stranger to the popular fantasy tropes. Dragons, wizards, prophecies, etc. They’re classic story elements for a reason! But one cliche I tend not to use is the traditional “Damsel in Distress.” Let’s face it, ladies don’t always get a chance to be heroic in fantasy stories. Often they exist as little more than the target of courtly romance and/or a McGuffin for the hero to fetch, in either case wearing a thoroughly impractical ensemble. It can make for an interesting story if written well, but that’s seldom been the sort of story I wanted to tell.

It turns out, I’m not alone!

StoryBundle and Charlotte E. English — both of whom I’ve worked with multiple times in the past — have teamed up to produce The Leading Ladies Bundle. This is a limited time, name-your-own-price bundle of stories with a strong female lead or a supporting cast of capable ladies. The D’Karon Apprentice–ironically the book of mine with the most scantily clad lady on the cover–joins works from such heavy hitters as Lindsay Buroker (another person with whom I’ve frequently collaborated), Annie Bellet, and (of course) Charlotte E. English. Here’s the full lineup, plus some words from the curator herself.

In these tales of derring-do, the ladies have stepped firmly out of the background. Not every story is female-led, though many are. In some of these books, they’re taking centre stage and rocking it. In others, it’s a supporting cast of women that shines.

I have for you an aristocratic amateur sleuth and a wayward forest witch from W. R. Gingell; a top mathematician and codebreaker from Lindsay Buroker; and from Joseph Robert Lewis and J. Zachary Pike, elf ladies as we’ve never seen them before. There’s a cursed princess from Annie Bellet, a brilliant scholarly mage from Rachel Cotterill, and a cast of wizards, necromancers and dragons from Joseph Lallo. And from me, there’s a predominantly female team of wily masqueraders with a grand mystery to solve.

These books cover a range of fantasy sub-genres, from comic to epic to romantic to adventure fantasy. They’ll take you to diverse fantasy worlds, and show you how spectacular leading ladies can be.

– Charlotte E. English

The initial titles in the Leading Ladies Fantasy Bundle (minimum $5 to purchase) are:

  • Elf Saga – Doomsday (Omnibus Edition) by Joseph Robert Lewis
  • The D’Karon Apprentice by Joseph R. Lallo
  • Watersmeet by Rachel Cotterill
  • Masque by W.R. Gingell
  • Encrypted – Forgotten Ages Book 1 by Lindsay Buroker

If you pay more than the bonus price of just $15, you get all five of the regular titles, plus five more!

  • Orconomics by J. Zachary Pike
  • Seven Dreams by Charlotte E. English
  • Gryphonpike Chronicles Volume 1: The Barrows by Annie Bellet
  • Wolfskin by W.R. Gingell
  • Decrypted – Forgotten Ages Book 2 by Lindsay Buroker
Quite a deal, wouldn’t you say? I hope you’ll pick it up! And you can do so starting now over at StoryBundle!

Between Release

It’s time for a new book, everyone! Between is available wherever books are sold. For the first week or so it’ll be $0.99, so if you want it cheap, get it early! After that, the price will go back up to $3.99.

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Here’s the blurb:

Between is a new sci-fi/fantasy adventure from the mind behind The Book of Deacon, Free-Wrench, and Big Sigma.

Philo Middleton wasn’t having a very good day. It began with him waking up strapped to a chair inside a strange, high-tech chamber. His mind was wiped clean, even his own name unfamiliar to him. And yet somehow things went sharply downhill from there.

After being collected by Rill, a three-headed sea serpent with a curious set of dispositions, he learned he had somehow found his way to a place known by its many displaced residents as The Between. It wasn’t so much a location as a lack of location. Time did not exist there. The concepts of direction, distance, and gravity were subjective at best. Worst of all, with laws of physics dictated largely by whim, science and technology were nearly worthless. Those with a mind for magic held all the power, and those unfortunate ‘science-types?’ They did what they were told.

Philo was quickly joined by a cast of characters unified only in their desires to survive and one day return to their homes. Along with Rill, he soon found himself either aligned or at odds with creatures like Trixie the mechanically-inclined demon, Mr. Stubbs the scheming hobgoblin, and the vampiric Duke. They worked as the all-purpose henchmen known as ‘fetchers’ for the adorably nefarious Overseer.

If he wanted to survive, Philo would have to find a way to make himself useful, and if he wanted to escape, he would have to find people he could trust. Too bad the only thing rarer than a useful science-type was a trustworthy fetcher.

This was a fun one. Not what I’d call a major release, because let’s face it, Book of Deacon and Big Sigma are where my bread is buttered, but fun nonetheless. If you’ve not been following closely, then you should know that an unedited version of the first 2/3rds of this story was released on a weekly basis on Wattpad a while back, but when it failed to get traction over there I sidelined it, then finally decided to finish it this year.

As I’ve said before, this was the way I put “The Bad Idea Exercise” to work for me. If I got a bad idea lodged in my head, I would write it down just to clear my brain so I could move on. Often I would just throw that idea way. (Call it preemptive editing.) But sometimes I felt there was the kernel of quality buried somewhere in there, so I’d hang onto it. Eventually I had tens of thousands of words mounded up in that document, so I decided to see if it could be made into something resembling a cohesive plot. And it turns out, yes! I could!

I hope you like the story. And while you’re reading, why not play one of these little games?

Crossover Watch: This story has two subtle-to-not-so-subtle elements that are explicitly crossovers from the Big Sigma and Book of Deacon Universes. You might even spot a Free-Wrench reference.

Origin Hunting: Most of the characters/events in the story and several whole lines were originally rejected ideas from other stories. As you read, maybe try to figure out where a given character came from!

I hope you pick up Between and enjoy it. If you do, let me know. Better yet, let everyone else know with a nice review!

Audio Giveaway and NYCC

Hi folks!

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Just a quick couple of notes today. First, Karyn O’Bryant–a name you’ll know if you’ve been following the releases of my audiobooks–emailed me to let me know she’s got an extra copy of The Battle of Verril on CD. She’s interested in giving it away to a fan of the series, and I’ve got a few copies of the other titles, so we’ve decided to run a giveaway. If you’d like a chance to win, check out the gleam.io giveaway. Contest ends October 12th.

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Also, if you’d like to meet me in person and you’re in the NYC area for New York Comic Con, I’ll once again be attending. Email or tweet me if you’re attending and maybe I can schedule a meetup in Artist’s Alley like last year.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading!

Updates and Such

Hi folks!

Good heavens, it’s been a while since I did a good old fashioned blog post. It turns out very few people actually check my website for updates, so I divert most of my news to my twitter and facebook pages. But I decided now might be a good time to have a nice blast from the past and dust off the blog.

So, what have I been up to? Well, a while back I was asked to produce a few stories for a fantasy anthology about lone wolf characters. I wrote two stories, tentatively named The Dwarfindam Run and The Rules of the Game. Those’ll be out in the anthology at the end of the year, and eventually will cycle into the newsletter perk list. (A good reason to sign up for the newsletter, if you haven’t already.) One of them, The Rules of the Game, is tied to the Book of Deacon series. The other is a one-off not related to (or set in) the Book of Deacon world. Unless I change my mind about that.

I’ve also got a cover for The Big Sigma Collection: Volume 1, an anthology of the first three books in the Big Sigma series. It will include at least two, probably three short works/novellas. Those are the stories I’m working on now, and like the Lone Wolf Shorts, will eventually make their way into the Newsletter Perks. Wanna see the cover? Here it is, as always, illustrated by Nick Deligaris.

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And so the series has its emblem.

People who faithfully read every ridiculous thing I write will be familiar with Between. It’s sitting in basically unedited, incomplete form on Wattpad right now. It recently received a brush-up and completion, and will be available in novel form “soon.” In this case, soon is defined as after the second pass of the edit is finished and after I get a cover for that too. However, seeing as how it’s likely to be my next full-length novel to release, I’ve been accumulating artwork. Here’s The Overseer by robo-shark.

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As evil as he is adorable, I assure you.

The inimitable spookychan drew a picture of Trixie as well.

trixxie commish[web]

I look forward to introducing the rest of the characters eventually.

And finally, for those of you who entered the audio-book contest, thanks! The winners have been drawn. Keep your eyes peeled for a potential “second chance” contest to get another shot at winning The D’Karon Apprentice in audio-book form!

Thanks for reading!

The D’Karon Apprentice Audiobook Giveaway

Hi folks! Audible gave me a stack of codes for free copies of The D’Karon Apprentice. I’ve decided to give ten of them away via a fancy raffle! If you’re an audible user (or have been thinking of becoming one) go ahead and enter the raffle for a chance to get a code for all 21+ hours of Karyn O’Bryant-narrated Book of Deacon goodness!

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D’Karon Apprentice Audiobook Giveaway

Ichor Well is Available Now!

The third book in the Free-Wrench Series has finally been released!

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Nita, Lil, and Wink, and the rest of the Wind Breaker crew continue their adventures today. If you’re impatient to get to it, pick it up now on Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords and everywhere else! And if you haven’t started the series? Now’s a great time to start, because Book 1 is FREE for a limited time on all the same stores!

Free-Wrench continues to astound me with its success. Those who have been with me long enough will know that it began as a NaNoWriMo experiment. Back then the theory was I’d do a new standalone story each NaNoWriMo to stretch my writing chops. You folks quickly put a stop to that, making it clear NaNoWriMo was destined to be “the month of steampunk” for the foreseeable future. Ichor Well is by a wide margin my longest Free-Wrench story, and as you’ll see in the blurb below, I feel it’s got a pretty darn nifty plot.

Ichor Well is the third adventure in the Free-Wrench Series of Steampunk novels.

Ever since Nita Graus left her homeland and joined the crew of the Wind Breaker, the reputation of the airship and its crew has been growing. The destruction of the mighty dreadnought, the escape from the legendary Skykeep, and the inexplicable ability to remain hidden from the ever-watchful eye of the Fug Folk have combined to make her and her fellow crew the stuff of legend. Alas, legendary heroes cannot exist for long without attracting a worthy villain. Luscious P. Alabaster strives to be just that foe.

While he works his nefarious plans, the crew itself is not without turmoil. Captain Mack, already having survived far more years in the hostile skies than he had any right to expect, is making plans for his golden years. The crew is gradually learning all that Nita can teach them, leaving her with the looming decision of whether or not she still has a place among the crew.

Before the matter of the future can be settled, the crew has the problems at hand to solve. And in escaping the webs woven by the cunning and eccentric Alabaster, they may discover the darkest secrets the churning and toxic Fug has to hide.

Followers of my various social media accounts have been treated to some recent artwork of the characters returning or debuting in this story. We’ll start with robo-shark’s recent illustration of Wink and Nikita, two of the adorable/surly inspectors that call the Wind Breaker their home.

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By far the most substantial addition to my character artwork for the Free-Wrench series comes courtesy of SpookyChan.

Here’s Nita.

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And Lil. (This may well be the definitive picture of the maniacally enthusiastic Chastity “Lil’ Coop” Cooper.

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And finally, the nefarious LUCIUS P. ALABASTER! You haven’t met him yet. But you will…

Alabaster [web]

Once again, this book is now on Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords! If you like it, please remember to leave a review.

The Redemption of Desmeres

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This being the Book of Deacon Newsletter, I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind folks that The Redemption of Desmeres, my latest Book of Deacon story, is available now. This one slipped under the radar a bit, what with it’s sudden, surprise release a few weeks ago, but the reviews have been great. If you missed it, pick it up! If you’ve read it, please let me know what you think. If people enjoy the further story of Desmeres, it might be fun to explore other characters, or even further stories of Desmeres and his growing circle of friends and allies.

Ichor Well Cover Reveal and Pre-Order!

If you’ve been paying attention over the last few months, you know that I’ve been working on a number of different projects. Because editing and artwork tend to become a bottleneck, rather than seeing one project all the way through, I’ve been continuing on to another project just as soon as I complete the previous one. That means things get really confusing for me, since eventually I end up doing a release on a book that I’ve not had to think about for MONTHS. To that end, I’m happy to announce the pending release of last year’s NaNoWriMo project, Ichor Well.

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It’s slowly becoming available for pre-order on iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Google Play. The Amazon version will be available much closer to the release date, July 14th, 2016.

The cover is, as always, by Nick Deligaris, and here’s the Blurb:

Ichor Well is the third adventure in the Free-Wrench Series of Steampunk novels.

Ever since Nita Graus left her homeland and joined the crew of the Wind Breaker, the reputation of the airship and its crew has been growing. The destruction of the mighty dreadnought, the escape from the legendary Skykeep, and the inexplicable ability to remain hidden from the ever-watchful eye of the Fug Folk have combined to make her and her fellow crew the stuff of legend. Alas, legendary heroes cannot exist for long without attracting a worthy villain. Luscious P. Alabaster strives to be just that foe.

While he works his nefarious plans, the crew itself is not without turmoil. Captain Mack, already having survived far more years in the hostile skies than he had any right to expect, is making plans for his golden years. The crew is gradually learning all that Nita can teach them, leaving her with the looming decision of whether or not she still has a place among the crew.

Before the matter of the future can be settled, the crew has the problems at hand to solve. And in escaping the webs woven by the cunning and eccentric Alabaster, they may discover the darkest secrets the churning and toxic Fug has to hide.