Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow.
Passing Shadows is a trilogy of short stories with a lesbian main character, Li Liang, who is one of the sole surviving witnesses of the destruction of Earth. The stories tell of the beginning of a long exodus across the galaxy looking for a haven where mankind can start again.
The stories are:
Overthrown By Strangers
Habitation Of Dragons
Book Title: Passing Shadows
Publication Date : 12 December 2016
Publisher: Self-published through Glass Hat Press
Cover Artist: Kellie Dennis at Book Cover By Design
Wordcount: c 29,400
Category: Sci Fi, Gay mainstream, Short Story trilogy
Li Liang has found a berth to suit her: chief pilot and first officer of the all-female crew of an old space freighter, the Sappho. Then one ordinary, unremarkable morning, Liang retunes the Sappho’s communications systems just in time to catch the breathless, terrible accounts from Mars of the total destruction of Earth.
Earth’s a cinder. The unknown alien race that destroyed it has left Mars, too, in flames and is ravening outward from the solar system, devouring every human colony on the way.
Liang’s one of the few survivors, racing ahead of the Devourers, rescuing as many frightened, shocked people as she can. Will Liang and the pitiful remnants of humanity find a new haven, somewhere to start again? Or will she, too, echo the dreadful last message coming out of their dead home?
They’re coming. Oh God, they’re coming.
We’re silent for a very long time, just looking out at the city. When Earth went dark, we heard the Martian broadcasts of the attack, heard the despair and the terror. I’m willing to bet that every single one of us has jack-knifed up in bed, roaring up out of nightmare. We hear those anguished screams in our heads and imagine we’re the ones screaming, that we’re trapped there and dying in torment and pain. And I’m willing to bet we’ve done it more than once.
And now we can see it, or something close to it. This is what a desolate wasteland looks like, when war has burned across it.
I don’t realise I’m crying until Thom’s hand brushes over my face, wiping it clean. His own eyes are wet. I hadn’t even noticed him swopping seats with Penny King, but I’m glad he’s there. I tuck my hand into his and hold on.
“What do you think happened?” Kit isn't usually subdued, but the deserted, desolate city streets must impress even him. He's quiet and withdrawn and that's not usual.
The Major looks grim, his mouth drawn down so hard it looks as if nothing will ever make it turn upwards again. “Nothing good. That doesn't look like something that just fell into disrepair. It looks like explosive damage to me.”
He points to a domed building at one end of the plaza. The dome is shattered, great shards of it missing, like an egg shell cracked open, the jagged edges biting up into a smoky sky the colour of ash. Rubble lies scattered across the stone pavement.
Thom shifts in his seat. “Most of the buildings show the same sort of damage.”
“Do you think...?” I stop, shake my head, squeeze my eyes tight shut against the stinging. “Is it like this there? At home? I can’t picture home anymore.”
Thom’s hand tightens on mine. He puts his other arm around my shoulders.
“From everything we heard and saw before Mars went, there won’t be this much left.” Matt Harrington’s voice is cold, his tone a little distant. “This city is a greater memorial to its people than anything we have left.”
“Don’t!” someone says. One of the troopers.
“War, then,” Kit says. "Looks like they're long gone, both the victors and the vanquished."
"Sometimes I wonder if we'd be able to tell which is which." There’s a deep sadness in Thom’s voice.
The city could probably tell. The city of the victors isn’t likely to be this bleak.
Links at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk
Passing Strangers will also be available on Kindle Unlimited.