Mailvox: Book Update

In response to some questions regarding the direct bookstore.

  • Yes, you can buy THE ALTAR OF HATE ebook edition separately from the hardcover+ edition. Yes, it is the current epub that contains “Shinjuku Satan” and the other new additions to the anthology.
  • Yes, you can buy A THRONE OF BONES hardcover+ edition directly from Arkhaven now. No, not the paperback, but the audiobook+ and the ebook editions are also available there.
  • No, you cannot buy most of our ebooks from Amazon right now. We’ll get them back up there eventually, but it is not a top priority at the moment. Please recall that most of the independent publishers that relied on Amazon are struggling or have already gone under; our direct business will always be our priority.
  • Yes, we are working on expanding our direct business beyond the USA and the UK. One step at a time. Please recall that it’s only been seven months since Aerio shut down and we began replacing it.
  • Yes, there will be A SEA OF SKULLS audiobook+ edition. No, it will not be available on Audible. It will only be available directly from Arkhaven or UATV.
  • Yes, the JUNIOR CLASSICS VOLS. VII and VIII will ship to backers and will be available for sale before Christmas.

If you have any other questions, leave them at the link below on SG. Unless they are shipping-related questions, in which case please contact the appropriate shipment house by email or on SG.

There is also some exciting Castalia-related news coming with regards to an upcoming crowdfunding campaign by a third party.

And since we’re at it, here is another selection from the short story “A Reliable Source”, an addition to THE ALTAR OF HATE that was originally published in the anthology RIDING THE RED HORSE.

From “A Reliable Source”

“There’s the man of the hour!” General William Norstad, commander of SATGO, was a tall man whose broad shoulders bore three stars apiece. “Colonel James, allow me to be the first to congratulate you. And someone get this man a beer!”

“Thank you, General.” James smiled at the blank looks on the faces of the men from the other three forces. “We had some first-rate support from the intelligence community.”

“Earlier this morning, a Grimm pilot under Colonel James’s command terminated with what can only be described as extreme prejudice both Aden al-Muhajir and Osama al-Ansari, numbers twelve and eighteen on our priority list.”

“Just doing our job, General.” The officers with their hands free clapped, others raised their drinks in salute. Three more officers arrived, including another Air Force general, and they, too, came over to congratulate James and shake his hand as the reason for the celebratory mood was explained to them.

Once all sixteen of the invited commanders were present, Norstad’s face grew more serious and he urged them all to take a seat and get comfortable.

“I’m sure most of you are wondering what the purpose of this interservice conclave is. As I expect you will have worked out by now, all of you command drone bases located on U.S. soil. As it happens, you represent sixteen of the twenty-five most effective drone commands in terms of kill-to-mission ratio. I think it speaks well of the armed forces that each branch is represented here today!

“However, the nature of war is such that no success long goes unremarked by the enemy. As with the laws of physics, for every action there is bound to be a reaction of some kind. In the last four years, our drones have successfully targeted over fifty-six hundred enemy combatants and proven to be our most effective weapon in the ongoing effort against terrorists and militant extremists around the globe. So, it is not surprising that the enemy appears to have embarked upon a new strategy, one that involves attacking our drone pilots and sensor operators here in the United States of America!”

There was more than a little murmuring at this, but James exchanged a glance with the Marine general, who nodded at him, his face showing absolutely no surprise. Had the Marines lost any pilots, or was this simply the Corps’s storied stoicism in action?

“In the last six months, fourteen drone pilots and three sensor operators have been found dead in circumstances ranging from deeply suspicious to seemingly innocuous. In addition, eight non-flying staff officers have either been murdered or committed suicide, inexplicably in the case of the latter. These deaths fall within the range of statistical probability, although they are on the high side, and none of them show any overt signs of being the result of terrorist activity. Moreover, the 25 deaths were spread out among twenty different bases, which is why no one recognized the pattern until there was a reason to go looking for it.”

“What sort of reason was that, General?”

Norstad smiled grimly and turned to face the Army general who’d asked the question. “Two weeks ago, the National Security Agency contacted SATGO with regards to intel it harvested from a social media site. We were informed that a YouTube channel was being used by a militant branch of Parisian jihadists to disseminate coded messages in retro music videos, hiding their communications in plain sight. Apparently single frames consisting of one letter were being inserted into the videos, which were invisible at a normal 24 frames-per-second rate, but allowed the viewer to read the message when the video was slowed down.”

“Are you’re saying that a connection between some of these deaths and the YouTube videos has been established? Or is this just civilian conjecture?” The admiral from Pax River sounded skeptical.

“All the videos associated with that channel have been analyzed. They contained direct references to eighteen of the twenty bases previously mentioned.”

And with that, the room fell into stunned silence. Norstad nodded. “We are no longer the predators, gentlemen, we are now the prey. In consultation with the NSA and the FBI, SATGO is in the process of developing an enhanced security protocol for all drone bases, foreign and domestic, with a particular emphasis on the bases deemed to be at the greatest risk. I assume you grasp, gentlemen, that your own bases are most certainly among those most likely to be targeted.”

“How many of those twenty bases that have already been hit are represented here, General?”

Norstad gave the Marine general a tight smile. “Twelve of them, General. Twelve of them.”