|Each morning fog in WNC in August means a winter snow.|
|Each morning fog in WNC in August means a winter snow.|
The first version of Dune the movie came out in 1984. Kyle Maclachlan played Paul Atreides and Sting had a part, too. I don't recall the details except that I was unimpressed. However, I've found a wonderful review of that movie and I urge you to read it. It'll make your day. It certainly reassured me that my hazy recollection is spot on.
In 2000 John Harrison plucked up the courage to have another go in a three-part miniseries. Alec Newman played Paul Atreides and William Hurt was his father, Duke Leto. The miniseries won two Emmy Awards in 2001 for Outstanding Cinematography and Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a miniseries or movie, and was nominated for a third Emmy for Outstanding Sound Editing. The series was also praised by several critics. And, dear reader, I thought it was pretty good. Certainly much better than the 1984 farce.
Then a new movie was announced. It was due for release in 2020 but the dreaded covid delayed its release until this year. I've finally had a chance to watch it and I think it's terrific. Some people have complained that it's part one of a two part series but I think that's fine. One of the reasons for the 1984 flop was that the film was too short, cutting necessary background scenes without which the plot made little sense.
The special effects are awesome. The sand worms are menacing and convincing and I loved the helicopters which fly like dragonflies. The acting is excellent, too. Paul Atreides matures and grows during the film, leaving this viewer panting for the next movie.
If you haven't seen it, do yourself a favour. There's even a love story just waiting to happen.
week's episode ended with
Max sneaking inside the ice cavern and Addy following. Find out what he's up to in today's episode.
An abducted cop and a gladiator prisoner must learn to trust each other with their lives…and their hearts…to escape their alien captors.
Keeping a stealthy distance so he couldn’t detect the dim lantern light or her footsteps crunching over the hard-packed snow, Addy tailed Max through a maze of twisting, narrow passages of Ice Mountain Caverns. When she turned the last corner, she saw Max nearing the rear entrance. Beyond the cave’s mouth, the moonslight glittered on a stark, snow-covered wilderness.
“Going somewhere?” she called, her voice echoing off the ice.
Max stopped but didn’t turn around. “Yes.” There was no hint of surprise in his voice. If he had known all along she’d been following him, he obviously didn’t care.
Addy rushed past him and turned so they stood toe to toe. “Without me?”
“So that’s why you wouldn’t tell me your plans. You knew all along you were going to ditch me.”
“You lying son of a bitch.” She aimed for his cheek, but he caught her wrist mid-swing.
“I never lied.” His hand was like a vice with pressure so great her bones nearly crushed beneath his gloved fingers. “I promised you two things. One, I’d help you escape. Two, I’d leave you behind if you slowed me down. I’ve kept my word.” He dropped her hand and strode past her into the liquid moonslight flooding the cavern’s mouth.
“You also said you wouldn’t hurt me.” She rubbed the pain from her wrist.
He stopped but again didn’t turn around. “Which is why you have to stay. You’ll be safe here.”
“Safe? Hiding in an ice village? Have you climbed this mountain? You can see a Hyborean spaceport from here.”
“Don’t you understand?” He turned on her. The light from the oil lamp reflected off his angry green eyes. “You can’t have this baby out there. You’ll both die. I can’t protect you.”
“You mean you won’t.” He didn’t want to have to protect her. He didn’t want her or their baby at all. She would have rubbed the tightness from her chest if it weren’t for his dark, angry eyes narrowing at her.
“And why should I?”
“Because I’m carrying your baby.”
“Hell, woman, you’re not on Earth, so stop thinking like a damn Earthling. I have no obligation to you.”
“Bullshit. I am the mother of your child.”
“Do you know how many women have carried my children? Do you think I’ve ever seen any of them again? Or the kids? I am a stud. A fucking animal, as you had said. I do my job, and I don’t get involved.”
“Wait a minute.” Addy stepped back. “This isn’t about me, is it? This is about you trying to forget who you are so you can make sense of this barbaric world. Only you can’t. Can you?”
He didn’t say anything. She didn’t give him the chance.
“In the breeding box when I asked you how many children you have, I saw the hurt in your eyes. You’re only lying to yourself by pretending you don’t give a crap. Tell me, does acting like a beast help ease your pain?”
He wouldn’t meet her gaze.
“I didn’t think so. Maybe because you’re not a beast. You’re a man.”
“I am a beast.” In one move, Max grabbed her by the arm and the neck and slammed her up against the cavern wall.
She dropped the lantern. The light extinguished.
“Do you know,” his voice came cold and rough, “that I feel no remorse when I kill?”
“Let go.” She gasped and clawed at his hand around her throat. Her heart pounded. Her head throbbed from colliding with ice.
“That I enjoy seeing a man take his last breath? Watching his life drain in my bare hands?”
Towering over her in all his gladiator power, his hand tightened around her arm, each finger digging into her flesh. Hot tears cooled her cheeks. Why was he doing this?
“A man doesn’t lust for killing. A beast does. A man has a job and a family and plays catch with his kids. A beast doesn’t. A man can control his primal urges,” he said in his husky breeding-box voice. “The beast in me can’t.”
His hand was off her neck and promptly squeezed her breast. Hot, fierce lips covered her mouth. A sudden leg sweep widened her stance, knocking her off balance until his hips pinned hers against the ice, pressing the baby between them.
Since that day in the shower, she’d imagined his hands on her body, his mouth on hers again, but never had she imagined his raw hunger. He unleashed his feral need, and her heart pounded, caught between fear and desire.
Her body had burned for his touch, but not like this.
He jerked his head back into the moonslight. Disgust lit his wild, green eyes. “I can’t control the beast.”
Unable to catch her breath in time to stop him, she watched Max’s silhouette stride into the frozen wasteland.
“You just did.” Her words fell on deaf ears. “For the second time.”
* * *
The arctic air chilled his burning cheeks as he trekked out into the vast emptiness. He could feel the daggers of hate she shot him penetrating his spine.
Don’t look back. The last few minutes replayed over and over in his mind until the memory burned itself there. He had to remember her fear. Remember her hate. Remember her eyes seeing him as a monster.
Because that was what he was.
And she needed to remember his brutality. She had called him a man, but she sure as hell knew better now.
Maybe there were times when he had tried to be human, but his animal instincts had always taken over. That was why he was better off alone.
That was why she was better off without him.
She’d never survive the journey to the equator, anyway. Though she hadn’t complained, he knew she’d been starving and was exhausted and in pain. He’d seen the way she held her swollen belly.
A blast of wind from the north pressed into his back. Taking advantage of the gust as he had done many times before, he adjusted his backpack and ran, Mother Nature pushing him over the packed snow.
Even if the damn woman managed to make the long trek to the ocean, what would she do when she got there? His plan was to hop on an iceberg, an ice floe, or driftwood and let the South Arctic Current take him to the Southland continent. There was no way in hell she could pop out a kid on an iceberg.
He’d rather she stayed in the safety of the village and hate his guts than risk their lives in the wilderness. If she’d left, neither she nor his baby could survive.
And he couldn’t survive in the Tuniit village. He was no damn provider. What did an ex-gladiator have to offer anyone? All he knew how to do was fight and mate. Hell, he’d probably murder the Hyboreans for all the suffering he’d had to endure. But even if he could control that urge, he’d wind up picking fights with the men and sleeping with the women.
One woman’s shapely body came to his mind. And that woman deserved a home and someone to love and look after her and his baby—the baby, he corrected himself. He couldn’t be that someone. He’d never stayed in one place since his abduction.
For him, home didn’t exist.
She’d be safe in the Tuniit village. Neither the Hyboreans nor the humans there would hurt her. They’d find her a husband, and no other man would ever touch her.
Never again would he feel the heat of her sleeping body curled against him as they huddled for warmth in their shelters. Never again would he watch her hands slip beneath her clothes to reapply thermal cream when she thought he wasn’t looking. Of course he’d been looking. He’d wished it had been his hands moving over her bare flesh, caressing her breasts, her hips, her firm ass.
He wanted to taste her mouth, to run his tongue down her body, to kiss her dark birthmark on the soft, sensitive flesh just inside her pelvic bone. Oh, to feel her squirm beneath him as he made her hot and wet and ready.
Legs turning over faster now and arms pumping harder, he sprinted until his chest burned from the cold air, taking comfort in the familiar ache of his muscles. The pain would not quell his lust.
He could still see her body writhing, could hear her begging him to fuck her, could see her gray eyes filled with wanton desire...
He hadn’t meant to hurt her, but he couldn’t stop himself. How he’d managed to not rip off her thermal suit and take her right there in the ice cavern, he didn’t know. Another minute and the beast would have consumed him. And he would have devoured her.
But now she was safe.
Poor Addy! Was scaring and leaving her at the Tuniit Village the best way to keep her safe? Max seemed to think so, but he isn't aware that Regan is on the hunt for them. Will Regan find Addy at the village and force her back to the Human Breeding and Research Center? Find out in next week's episode or read the full story now for only $2.99 at your favorite retailers.
That's right, it's back! Preorders recently went live for Pets in Space® 7, and even though we have no author from Spacefreighters Lounge in this year's rendition, this collection of great science fiction romance stories--with pets--has become an SFR staple that we wanted to share with our readers.
Pets in Space is back and better than ever! Featuring 13 original, never-before-released stories from some of today's bestselling science fiction romance authors, starring your favorite sci-fi pets. These furry, feathered, and slightly alien friends are always ready for a new adventure with their two-legged human and alien companions. From dogs to cats to sea creatures and unicorns, these romantic tales show that pets are more than just animals – they’re family.
This limited-edition anthology includes novellas by some of the biggest names in science fiction romance. New York Times Bestseller S.E. Smith and USA Today Bestsellers R.J. Blain, Grace Goodwin, Skye MacKinnon, Carol Van Natta, Honey Phillips, Carysa Locke, S.J. Pajonas, JC Hay, and Kyndra Hatch, plus Leslie Chase, Winnie Winkle, and Candace Colt.
The Pets in Space® 7 authors continue their vital support of Hero-Dogs.org, the non-profit charity that improves quality of life for veterans of the U.S. military and first-responders with disabilities.
Exclusively in Pets in Space® 7:
Welcome back to Part 25 of my serialized "aquatic" Science Fiction Romance story, The Shell and the Star.
If you're just seeing this story for the first time, you can catch up on all the parts published to date by clicking this link:
If you're reading along each week, you know that things have gone from bad to unrecoverable for Jinn. Last time, she learned Trey's fate in her absence. The Imperator -- Trey's father -- has told her that Trey has disappeared, and is believed to be dead, lost to the Deep.
She fled the imperator's manor in dark despair, devastated at the thought that Trey is gone.
Heartsick and lost, she piloted her bubble to the barrier at the bay entrance. Tears streamed down her face. Her body trembled uncontrollably. She was lost. Without hope. If Trey had ended his life there, why shouldn’t she follow? Would she have the courage to sacrifice herself to the Deep?
If Trey was gone, she had no future. An outcast of the Star and spurned by the Shell, she was completely and totally alone. Once her envirosphere’s power supply failed she’d have no refuge. Yes, she could breathe underwater now, but without her bubble’s protection, without food or shelter, alone and banished, she’d soon die. Better a quick death than lingering agony.
Her tears no longer fell. Jinn was numb, beyond feeling.
If Trey had truly cast himself into Deep, she wanted to be near him in death.
She skirted the edges of the city, beyond the watercourt where Trey had played his last game. The lingering memory of the Perlings' excited shouts and calls only bringing her further despair. Hearing Trey’s invitation in her head again -- “Maybe you’d like to go for a swim with me now?” --felt like a spear through her heart.
Now she understood the pain of deep grief, an agony so terrible the only escape was death. She had brought Trey to this. She was responsible.
Jinn sat at the edge of the barrier for a long time, staring into the dark depths with mounting terror. Immense shadows stirred in the deep blue gloom. Circling, hunting.
Jinn recoiled within the shelter of her bubble. What had lured these monsters in? Had they recently fed here, now lingering close to the barrier, scouting for more prey? Was this where Trey had met his fate?
One of the creatures swam up from the depths, approaching her. It was dark, and monstrous and hideous, opening its gaping mouth to expose teeth the length of daggers.
Jinn spun her sphere in a circle and fled in terror.
She couldn’t do it! She was a coward and an outcast. She had no honor.
She drove her bubble mindlessly, aimlessly, until she recognized the entrance to Trey’s Garden at the edge of the Imperator’s estate. Instinctively, she’d steered through the narrow inlet into the pool where Trey told her he had once come to escape Tardem’s cruelty. Now it was her escape. No longer wanted in either realm, maybe here she could find peace with his memory—with the heartache she’d caused—before her bubble failed and left her to her doom.
Surfacing near the boulder-strewn shore, she parked in a shallow, rock-rimmed lagoon, powered her conveyance down and cast open the top seal. Throwing her head back and closing her eyes against the blazing heat of the sun, she listened to the rumble of the waterfall and pulled in deep, desperate gasps of air.
Above, foreboding black boulders rose in blocky steps that seemed bleak and unwelcoming. It reminded her of the rocky shore where Trey had carried her up when they escaped the Razortooth. Her tears came rushing again.
Her gaze traveled up and up the jumbled cliff, to a cloudless cerulean sky above that seemed to damn her.
Up that cliff was where she’d go. Away from the sea—away from the Perling. But away from Talstar too, far beneath the sky. Somehow she’d find the strength to climb—or drag herself--up and up into the lifeless wastelands. They’d never find her body.
Just like they’d never find Trey’s.
Sobbing, she raised her console and opened the top hatch of her bubble, working her body through the opening and sliding down the sphere onto a rocky shelf. Steadying herself with one hand on a boulder, she abandoned her bubble for the hard black stones above the water line.
Jinn struggled to stand, setting her jaw. Spying a narrow incline of sand twisting through the rocks, she willed her limbs to move under the heavy hand of gravity.
She began the impossible climb. Sometimes managing a step or two. Sometimes walking on her knees. Sometimes dropping to all fours. Her will alone kept her moving. Climbing. Crawling. Clawing.
Her muscles burned. Her mouth gaped to pull in oxygen. Time became a heavy thing on her shoulders, the slope ahead seemed an impossible task. The uncaring sun blazed on, the heat making her vision swim and her muscles seize. She sliced her knee on a sharp outcropping and cried out in pain. Her knee bled, the rivulets of red soon caked with stinging grit. Grasping the crown of tall stone, she rose on shaking legs, forcing herself to take just one more step.
One more stagger.
One more stumble.
Then…the incline leveled out to flat, barren ground. Here she gave up the battle and surrendered. She’d slithered up the last of the slope on her belly and lay still and beaten and beyond hope on the scalding summit.
I’m so sorry, Trey. I didn’t know…
Here her life would end. It was the price she’d pay for hurting Trey. For being the reason he swam into the Deep.
Delirium brought her memories of their first and last swim together, of the joy of moving unencumbered through the water at his side and the sweet passion they’d found in each other’s arms. If only she could go back and make it right.
If only it wasn’t too late.
The black fog came for her, choking out her regrets and memories. Her skin was on fire, her mouth so parched, she couldn’t swallow. Hades was no legend, she’d found it here in this terrible, empty place.
But no. This couldn’t be hell. Because now she heard Trey’s deep voice call to her, and she knew nothing so perfect could exist in damnation. Was it just her anguished mind summoning the sweet sound of his voice, one last time?
Now she was floating, resting in a gentle hammock that lifted her from the scorching ground. Before the darkness took her, she marveled at the comfort of what was surely Death’s strong and tender hands.
Is Jinn about to join Trey in the great beyond?
Stop back next Monday for Part 26, and find out.
Meanwhile, have a great week!
|Nichelle Nichols as Uhura|
As Nyota Uhura, Communications Officer of the Federation Starship Enterprise, Nichols broke new ground for Black actors in the Sixties, inspiring generations of young Black women to follow in her footsteps in both acting and space exploration. Most of you know those stories about her, so I won’t repeat them. (If you aren’t familiar, I urge you to look her up.) I do, however, have a personal memory of her to share.
Years ago, my young daughter Jessie and I were at the Shore Leave Science Fiction Convention in Towson, Maryland where Nichols was a featured guest. The autograph line was long and cost a bit, so I sent Jessie, who was 13 at the time, to meet Nichols and get her autograph. But I put Jessie up to a joke: “Ask Nichelle to do an imitation of Bill Shatner while you’re up there!”
Nichols had just done her “show” at the con, with lots of imitations, so I thought she might be up for it. And, sure enough, when Jessie got to the star, I heard a big laugh echo through the convention hall. “Oh,” Nichols said, hand on her chest, “I—couldn’t—do—that—to my—friend!” In perfect Shatner style. Hilarious!
The next time I saw Nichols at Shore Leave she was still smiling, but was in a wheelchair, beginning to suffer the effects of dementia and stroke. It’s consoling to think of her exploring new galaxies in infinite space, healthy and happy once more. RIP Nichelle and thank you.
In the second book, Rescuing Romila, the team is stationed undercover on Shar Burk space station, a hive of corruption and villainy presided over by Governor Soldar. Their role is to collect intelligence about Soldar's operation for Fleet Intel but while they're there, they rescue Romila, who owns a souvenir shop, from an attack. They've stumbled across a drug-smuggling ring and, with Romila in tow, they set off to track down the perpetrators.
This story takes us to the cold planet Akhlut where Romila's paramour, archaeologist Sunil, is working on a dig. It's also where the statues of warriors that Romila sold in her shop are carved. They had been hollowed out to hold drugs. But there's more to Akhlut than cold temperatures and drug smuggling. On her own, Toreni learns of a secret hidden in the mountains and the drug-smuggling operation morphs into something even more dangerous. The Misfits must resolve their differences. If they don’t act together, and quickly, many lives will be at risk.
There's lots of action and adventure - but there's also romance. Toreni may well have found the love of her life. In this scene, Romila is having dinner with her new friend, Alric.
Alric gestured at the dance floor where two couples swayed to music provided by a trio of performers. "Come and dance."
Dance? The nerves flared again. Not that she couldn't dance. Where she was raised dancing came with growing up. Music played, you danced. Oh, why not? She was here for a good time. Alric took her hand and led her the four steps to the dance floor. His hand was warm and strong, but gentle. He slipped his arm around her waist and drew her against him, not too close. She gazed into his eyes. They were yellow, like hers, but with flecks of amber.
"Do you know the steps?" she asked.
"No. Doesn't matter, does it? It's a slow pace. We can just walk around in time to the music."
She giggled. "We can do that."
It was nice. The music floated around her, an easy two-part rhythm that she could follow without thinking. The man holding her guided her and soon it was just her, and him, alone in a sensual mist of their own making.
She floated back to reality when the music stopped.
"A pity," Alric murmured. "I enjoyed that." He hadn't let her go.
"So did I."
He leaned in closer to whisper, his breath warm on her ear. "Fancy dessert at my place?"
She gazed up into eyes dark with heat. Dessert wasn't going to be cake and cream. The little voice insisting it was too early and she wasn't ready was shoved aside by another woman shouting that tomorrow might never happen, seize the moment while you can. She smiled. "I'd like that."
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