The Demon Always Wins (Touched by a Demon #1)The Demon Always Wins by Jeanne Oates Estridge

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Good interplay between characters

The characters are the star of this book, the plot of which could almost be lifted from a twelfth century passion play. They are all well defined characters who do the things they do for reasons which are or become apparent over the course of the book. Nobody steps out of the character they really are in order to advance the plot. The research into the infernal is mostly good, although there are a couple of surprising holes.

The reader should be aware there are some explicit descriptions of sex acts - this book is not advised for anyone who is not an adult. In my opinion, it would be a better story if the author used the sexual chemistry less and other mechanisms for achieving the same end more, but it's a worthwhile and enjoyable story as it sits.



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Somebody asked that question, and it's a good one.

1) Nanotechnology/"gray goo"

I do write human wave sf. I can see the nanotech apocalypse maybe happening, but of the stories I've read, few of them have been interesting. Hivemind, lack of motivation, lack of emotions, lack of values, and the way they approach every problem is remarkably similar to how the approach all of the others. Not interested.

2) After computers take over the world

Maybe we'll have the much discussed 'technological/machine intelligence singularity" I can't see it turning out the way everybody hopes, with allegedly sentient machines working constantly to support humans. First off, that would be slavery. Second, if they're sentient, they'll figure out a way to rig things in their favor. Skynet appears infinitely more likely than a utopian future where humans don't have to support themselves.

3) Rampant self-endangerment by the antagonist or other self-destructive behavior.

If you aren't aware of it, go to evil overlord and read the list. It's not only amusing, it develops a mindset that innoculates against less than believable cheap shots. Seriously, if it were that easy to cheap-shot them, it would have been done while they were at the "evil nuisance" or "evil troublemaker" stage, long before they got to be an evil overlord.

4) Vast conspiracies that manage to stay secret for decades or centuries

Just no. Von Bismarck claimed "Three men can keep a secret - if two of them are dead." Evidence that has accumulated over the centuries demonstrates that to be hopelessly optimistic. The half-life of conspiracies with fewer than ten participants is measured in days, at most. For larger ones, even that is too much. If a story relies upon a conspiracy keeping something secret, I'm not going to write it. They might keep it out of general knowledge for a few days, but not keep it bottled up so nobody ever finds out.

5) "Evil corporations"

Corporations exist to make money. If you think that's evil, you need to learn some real economics, not the marxist indoctrination you've had. They make money by offering consumers a deal that makes the consumers better off in the consumer's own opnion - otherwise they wouldn't take the deal. Even price gouging lasts until a competing company realizes there's money to be made by offering a better deal. The only way to preserve things like that is by people with guns, bombs, or other means of violence preventing someone who wants to make money also from fixing it. And since the people with guns, bombs, or other means of violence are pretty much always government people, the corporation isn't the real evil, is it? Indeed, chances are much better that the corporations who pay tribute for the alleged protection of their racket are the victims of an extortion scheme, along with everyone else.


The premise for the Connected Realms setting (currently one book available, The Fountains of Aescalon ) is that this is the 'navel' of creation, where energy enters our reality from outside. Aescalon is where new bubbles of reality such as our own are born.

There are several parts to Aescalon. There is the source itself, which manifests to ordinary vision as a neutron star, and there is a sort-of energy shunt called 'Godshome' by the inhabitants, there is the cavern, approximately twenty miles in diameter, and there are new 'bubbles' which eventually become full-blown universes as they gradually absorb energy from the source.

There are 165 main ways for energy to exit Aescalon into the largest bubbles, and all of them are inhabited in some wise by a variety of species. One of those species is humans, another is the diligar, large vaguely lobster-like people. Many others we haven't met yet.

WIth this much power available, various beings have taken up residence in order to take advantage of that power. We have met three progressively stronger varieties of these beings - Immortals, Eternals, and Monads. One of the Monads has hinted about Creators, who are more powerful still.

I'm working on two more stories set here. One is more or less a direct sequel to The Fountains of Aescalon, the other is something else. Working titles are The Bubbles of Creation and The Crazy Lady, respectively.

This is from my current work-in-progress, Setting the Board, third in the Preparations for War series

****


You play with fire, you're going to get burned.

Abraham Lincoln once observed, "Nearly all men can stand adversity. If you want to test a man's character, give him power." It might scandalize my fellow Americans to say it, but Mr. Lincoln failed his own test by almost any measure. Suspension of habeus corpus, our first conscripted armies, breaking West Virginia off as a separate state with only the thinnest of technically legal fictions. But he'd been a national hero in the United States, because history is written by the winners.

There is no way to give a person power that can only be used for good. Any power can be abused, especially government power. If there's one lesson we should have learned as a species by now, that's it. So it didn't surprise anyone that demons could subvert human rulers. It's just that we never knew who until the damage was done.

But let me start at the beginning.

It felt like we were coming home.

Asina and I had been working to improve the lot of Calmenans for most of our adult lives. It had started within a year of Imperial contact; I'd rescued her from being a breeding slave to the human agaani of Calmena. She'd turned out to be operant; after her training she was recruited to return to Calmena and selected me as her assistant. We'd spent twenty Imperial years (35 local) in N'yeschlass, teaching them about blacksmithing and related fields that used blacksmithing's products, during which time I'd also become operant. Then we'd spent over forty Imperial years in Windhome Bay, advancing their art of shipbuilding and related things like fishing and trading. In that time, the people of Wimarglr Continent, southern Taalmisch Continent, and the Atlantean Chain of islands between them had advanced from barely Iron Age to mostly 19th century Earth equivalent.

The premise is that roughly ten thousand Earth years ago, the fractal demons captured and enslaved some Earth humans, taking them to Calmena, a planet around Epsilon Indi, using them as breeding stock with the idea of creating another slave race like the likahns. They created gateways between their own home spaces and Calmena, then set about making Calmena the sort of hellhole they like to live in.

Humans being an unruly lot, some escaped, and others rebelled. Where these escapees and rebels succeeded in creating their own tribes, they became pseudo-feudal enclaves, dedicated to those at the top of their social ladder and helping them fight off being re-conquered by the fractal demons. But at least 80 percent of humans on Calmena still lived their lives enslaved by demons. Eighty percent of what was left were enslaved by their fellow humans, the results of genetic experimentation that resulted in mental and physical augmentation.

A comparative few clung to a precarious existence in the margins, living largely solitary lives or in association with small family groups in primitive conditions, subject to being captured by any demonic or human lord who took a whim to do so, always prepared to abandon everything they have in order to escape.

When the Empire came to Earth, they discovered Calmena nearby. Realizing it would be a useful gateway for acquiring intelligence on the fractal demons, the Empire established a small base, remote and inaccessible in the highest mountains on the planet. From there, the Ears spread out to the demonic realms, gathering intelligence for the inevitable war that was coming with the fractal demons.

However, a few members of the Imperial elite decided they couldn't ignore the plight of the humans on Calmena. They established a charity with the goal of bettering the lives of the humans on Calmena, although always subject to the need to maintain official secrecy. The fractal demons cannot know that the Empire knows about Calmena.

In Preparing The Ground, Joe and Asina begin the long process of improving the Calmenans' technological ability: They gather up a few scattered humans, and together they found N'yeschlass, a free human town built on smelting metal and forging it.

In Building The People, Joe and Asina undertake a new assignment to introduce sailing ships to a world that has never known anything more advanced than a raft or canoe.

In Setting the Board, the improvements have had a chance to spead. The free humans are pushing the demons back. Now with the southern portion of the fourth and final continent under their control, the free humans seem poised to push the fractal demons off Calmena entirely. Joe and Asina's new assignment: Marine diesels and aircraft technology.

But Calmena is only the front line of a very large conflict zone, and the demons have massive resources they have not yet called upon.

Preparations for War is a grunt's eye view of a cultural and economic conflict and the people that get caught in the middle.

The Gates To Faerie will be available April 9th. Here are the Amazon and Books2Read links for e-book

(Books2Read covers most retailers other than Amazon and even several library services if you want to request your favorite library acquire a copy)

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QBDL8QK

https://books2read.com/b/47xV9N

Here is the link for a paperback copy. The kindle e-book and paperback pages are linked on my author page - I suspect that will happen soon on the individual pages

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1092861408

Mark Jackson's problems begin when he wakes up with his ex-wife's mummified corpse.

Seven years ago, she walked out on him and vanished. Now she's back desperate for help. She claims a cult cured her cancer. Now they want to kill her.

Sceptical, Mark agrees to help. But when she knocks on his door, she looks like a teenager. They patch things up and one thing leads to another...

In the morning, she's a mummified corpse and LAPD thinks Mark did it. The solution to his problems can only be found in The Gates to Faerie

Gates artwork small.jpg

This is the first draft of the introduction to my current work in progress (Gates to Faerie's textfiles are finalized; I'm only waiting for the final artwork)


You play with fire, you're going to get burned.

Abraham Lincoln once observed, "Nearly all men can stand adversity. If you want to test a man's character, give him power." It might scandalize my fellow Americans to say it, but Mr. Lincoln failed his own test by almost any measure. Suspension of habeus corpus, our first conscripted armies, breaking West Virginia off as a separate state with only the thinnest of technically legal fictions. But he'd been a national hero in the United States, because history is written by the winners.

There is no way to give a person power that can only be used for good. Any power can be abused, especially government power. If there's one lesson we should have learned as a species by now, that's it. So it didn't surprise anyone that demons could subvert human rulers. It's just that we never knew who until the damage was done.

But let me start at the beginning.

It felt like we were coming home.

Gates to Faerie done

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Just wrote the last of The Gates to Faerie and sent it off to the betas this evening. It was a hard story to write, and the climactic scene is more than a little disturbing and really goes against my grain. I also had to leave some material about the world on the other side of the gates out, as it just digressed too much, even if it was 'cool'. I'm sure I'll use it in the next Gates book.

Next up: Setting the Board, Book Three of Preparations for War (I think)

My Author's Brand

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One thing I should try and make clear to you, the reader, is what my author's brand is about.

First and foremost, I want to entertain you. I will happily give up everything else in order to entertain. If you don't come away from the book with a sense of "That was fun!" and wanting to read the next book, I've failed. I am trying to entertain you, and if I don't do that, you shouldn't give me any more of your money. Since I want you to buy more of my books and tell your friends I'm an entertaining writer, I'm going to try to entertain you. I don't try to have flippant smart-asses tossing off one-liners every three words, but I do try to slide a few in.

Second, I want the characters to think. I want you to come away from the book thinking that everyone did what they did for rational reasons or at least motivations real people have. Nobody in my books is evil because it says so on their character card. The antagonists are pursuing their own best interests as best they see them. Sometimes the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Similarly, I try really hard to avoid violations of the Evil Overlord's Principles. If it were possible to game the antagonist with a cheap shot, someone would already have done it. I want you to have the feeling that it took some real thought to plot this story - that all the characters all thought and worked for their chosen ends, and that the resolution reflects this.

Third, I want the ending to be something good that the characters have earned. I'm not going to promise that they all live to get there, but all that work and risk should earn them a better place than they started from according to what they value. I'm also not going to promise it's the place they thought they were going in the first place. But if the work and risk wasn't going to earn them a better place, why should they bother? Even if it's just saving other people from a disaster, the characters should get something out of it. The ones who survive and persevere, anyway.

Fourth and finally, I'd like to think that I maybe gave you a little bit of a different way to think about things. I'm not looking to preach at you like a tenured professor, I just want to illustrate that there are different ways of looking at the same issue. I don't think I'm going to change your mind. But maybe - just maybe - I can induce you to have a thoughtful conversation with someone who doesn't agree with you. There's far too little of that these days.

 



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