Twice the Man is OUT!

>> Sunday, March 24, 2019


My Bete novels are among my best received. Not because they're sort of but not entirely YA while still appealing to adults (and I've had almost no one but adults read them). Not because they have adventure. And romance. And science. And magic. And a broken spaceship. And some of the best snarky banter in town, especially my bad-ass venomous snarky shipcats. Okay, maybe it is the shipcats.

And now, finally, I have finished the original intended trilogy with each of the original three best friends taking center stage in turn. Of course, none of the books were a one-man show, but the ensemble cast aspect, where half a dozen and more players have big parts, has become more pronounced with each successive book.  And I love it.

I may come back to my little world of castaways. We still have flooding there and a sentient arthropod out in the depths of the ocean not to mention that unexplained wormhole. But I tied up the most current stories, just like I promised. For a series that inspired by a manga/anime and written with my now adult daughter in mind (who never read it, ironically), I have  had a world of fun with the Bete series, and I hope you do, too. If you want to find them all, you can find them on my website. 
http://stephanieebarr.us 

Here's an excerpt:
As if breathing in her essence woke her, Rem felt someone stir against his chest. How she always ended up curled on his chest, he didn't know. But he loved it. "How are you feeling?" he managed to ask, hoping he hadn't blasted her with death breath.
"Could you just kill me?"
"No can do, beautiful. And that was something I thought I'd never say."
"I am not beautiful, but, given what happened to me when I opened my eyes, I don't suggest you find out for yourself."
"I don't need my eyes to know you're beautiful," Rem said, chancing a little squeeze.
"I don't want you to take this the wrong way, but I don't feel up to flirting. Or fending off flirting. Or, in fact, breathing."
"Flirting is the best reason I've come up with since I woke up for breathing, though I have morning breath that could kill a badger-boar at ten paces."
"Not true," she said, stirring in a more determined way and levering herself into a sitting position. "You'd have to get, I don't know, within arm's length."
Rem chuckled and then used his freed arm to grab at his head. The pain had not abated one iota.
"Rem," Sinda said, lowering her voice to an intent whisper. "Try to teleport out of here. Now while no one's watching."
Rem, who had still not opened his eyes, used all of his consciousness to visualize Cil and will himself there. The pain neither abated nor increased. But he went nowhere. He willed himself to grow, to become his other form, but, if there was even the slightest change, he could not detect it.
"No joy, eh?"
"None at all," he whispered. "What now? I'd ask my talent, but I don't have one anymore."
He felt a slap on his arm, hard enough he opened his eyes without thinking, then reeled a couple of moments.
"Don't you ever," she hissed, "talk like that again. If you start moaning that you're worthless, I will totally lose my temper. I can't shift into anything and I haven't exhibited even one tiny talent, but you think I'm worthwhile. And you're right! Because I'm smart and capable and don't just curl up and die when challenged. And neither do you. Last time you had an impossible problem, you developed a new talent instantly. Not that I'd turn it away today but say that doesn't happen."
"You don't understand," he said.
"Yeah, boo-hoo. Grieve later, we got stuff to do. Gonna give up, let the bad guys win, fall all to pieces just because you're down to the same set of tools the rest of us humans have? If you do, I'll know your tolerance of humans was a lie from the beginning as well as every word of admiration you've ever given me."
"That's not fair!"
"I've heard you and Xander say that no one is superior to anyone else, that there isn't Prime and sub-Prime and, I presume, humans a step below that. If you truly believe that, you need to snap out of it. I get that losing a super-cool set of tools to play with is a bummer, but we don't have time for that. You have all the gifts of the smartest humans I know. Use 'em and let's figure out a way out of this mess, and, yes that may mean never getting your powers back. I promise, if you help find a way free, I'll let you wallow in your disappointment for two whole weeks, but only when we have the time to spare."
Rem had put his hand over his abused eyes, but he lifted it to regard Sinda through one eye. She really was wrong. She was still beautiful. "If I come up with a way out of this and it works, will you take my interest in you seriously? Treat me enough like a grownup that I have a chance to woo you?"
"Woo?" she went into a peal of laughter. "We're surrounded by hostiles who have purged the magic out of everyone, we are facing death, torment, or enslavement, and you want to woo me?"
"What better time will I ever have?"
"I'll tell you what, loverboy. You figure a way out of this and make it work, and I'll totally date, or go out, or whatever you kids call it these days. I'd seal it with a kiss right now, but I think the state of our mouths would kill us both."
Since they were both sitting, she was within delightful reach. "I'm willing to risk it."
He slid his hands up her arms, and, to his intense satisfaction, she blushed. But then she pushed his hands away. "C'mon, c'mon, woo later, solve problems now."
"Aww," Danai said, obviously enjoying the romance. Silly kid. Rem chuckled and given how protective Kert was of her, Rem figured she'd find out about romance first hand soon enough.
He sat back against the corner of the wagon, pleased that the horrific after-effects of the dart were starting to recede. Or maybe it was Sinda. Either way… "Well, we don't have the upper hand." Rem looked through the wagon sides, counting wagons and what people he could see of the natives and the exiles. "Looks like there are more of us. Everyone from the upper camp and most of the crew and teachers from the lower camp as well as the Bete that were there and the older teenagers.  Maybe two hundred of us versus a hundred or so of them, if there aren't more in hiding. Probably, half are sleeping while the rest keep watch, I don't think any are missing. Or not many."
"Looks like most of the exiles are here so they're about half native and half the guys we kicked out. But then there are the wolves and I think that's their biggest advantage. That makes escape challenging as well as being a physical threat.  Also, we have been drugged and are still disoriented from having our skills ripped away. They are armed and know the area, which we don't, so the advantage is still on their side. And, they can communicate whereas we can't."
"Plus, they're ruthless while we still have our humanity," Sinda added, a little grimly. It surprised Rem. She was usually pretty tolerant with different cultures, but she looked positively murderous. Perhaps the double dose of dart had seriously impaired her good nature. Most likely, her antagonism wouldn't last, but she had it now.
"That's not always an advantage," Rem said. "People who think like a sword tend to (a) think of things in terms of black and white and (b) think everyone else thinks the same. No nuance. Nuance can be useful."
Sinda took in a breath and released it carefully. "Sounds like something I would have said myself. You're too smart by half, loverboy."

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