by Robert Appleton
Genre: YA Scifi
Release Date; July 11th 2017
Summary from Goodreads:
Born on the streets. Made in the stars.
Under constant threat of invasion, the future of mankind's colonies is uncertain. Enter Jim Trillion and his best friend, Sergei, two young grifters scraping a living in the oases resorts of Mars. Their dreams might be big but their prospects are shrinking one petty crime at a time. Their luck is running out.
But after saving the life of a famous explorer, they receive the invitation of a lifetime--the chance to join a mysterious top secret academy and one day see the galaxy. If only it were that simple. The massing alien threat, Jim's unknown past, and the key to reaching the stars all propel them on a journey of self-discovery into the thrilling and terrifying unknown. There the ultimate prize awaits, a prize that could change everything: the Star Binder.
âAll they said was weâll be spending a lot of time in here,â Lyssa replies. âClasses are on the bottom five floors, morning and mid-afternoon, but the rest of the time weâll be in here. And they told us to mingle. That suggests teaming up, doesnât it?â
âI told you I donât know. Weâre stuck here. Letâs at least do something.â She puffs her cheeks and blows a slow, cherry-flavoured breath onto the digitab. Nothing happens to the screen, but I end up snorting a laugh. Sheâs just so jaded and honest and bored by the whole thing; itâs the opposite of what buggos are supposed to be like.
âAll right, you go first.â I motion at the stream of aimless, gormless candidates passing behind her. Theyâre not interacting with each other; all theyâre doing is walking in continuous loops around the Hex, weaving in and out of the various apparatuses, looking but not engaging. âSee who can come up with the best way of recruiting a teamie,â I add.
The sparkle in her eyes and the wicked grin twisting her lips tell me Iâve already lost this game. But one thing she doesnât know is Iâm a skimmer. A career skimmer. Craftiness is my trade. And I had one heckuva teacher.
âOur goal is to fill the other four seats,â she says, pivoting her head this way and that in the search for fresh fish. âBut they canât be all boys or all girls. Letâs make it interesting: you have to recruit at least one girl, and I have to recruit at least one guy.â
Sheâs ready to jump up and start when I add my own condition: âAnd hereâs the best part: weâre not allowed to leave our seats.â
âWhat? Then how do weââ
âFigure it out as we go,â I remind her.
She playfully narrows her eyes at me, then, with a crack of her knuckles, gets down to business. She sticks her pinkies in her mouth and lets loose an impressive whistle that stops everyone on this side of the arena dead in their tracks. I feel like hiding under the table, but Iâve promised not to leave my seat.
Lyssa crooks her finger at one boy, bats her eyelashes at another. She pats the seat next to her, waves, pouts, even strikes a desperate fashion model pose to beckon people over. But no one takes her on. Itâs either the funniest thing Iâve ever seen or the most pathetic.
She finally folds her arms and gives up. âWhatâs wrong with them? Was I that bad?â
âNot bad. Just not good enough.â
âOkay, hotshot, letâs see you do any better.â
I pretend to roll up my sleeves. âYou canât leave them to make the decision; you have to make it for them. Watch and learn.â I tug a girlâs arm as she passes. She pulls away. Flips me off.
âSuave,â says Lyssa.
After seeing that altercation, the other buggos instinctively keep their distance, so Iâm forced to resort to more creative methods of getting their attention. Before I can stop myself Iâve thrown a fistful of sand that showers at least five people. At least I have their attentionâand the cumulative hostility of a five-strong stink-eye.
This is harder than I thought. So I cup my hands into a loudspeaker: âListen up. The next one who sits at this table gets ten credits.â I might not have shouted loud enough, so I repeat the offer.
Not a single customer.
âHe means twenty credits,â Lyssa bids, and flicks her eyebrows up at me.
Still no takers.
âFifty,â I add. Nothing.
âOne hundred?â She ups the volume. âTrillion here will pay one hundred clips to whoever sits at his table. And heâll do all your homework for the next threeââ
âLyssa Van Buren has promised to snog anyone who joins our team. Boy or girl, it doesnât matter. Believe me, itâs worth it.â
Her half-scream, half-laughâwhile pulling at her own hairâleaves me in stitches. Sheâs about to jump across the table and probably beat me to a pulp when someone catches her eye, and she composes herself.
About the Author
Robert Appleton is an English author of science fiction, steampunk and historical fiction. He has written for Harlequin Carina Press, Samhain, and various other publishers. In his free time he hikes, plays soccer, and kayaks whenever he can. His favourite books and movies, like his own fiction, usually take place in the distant past or the far future. The night sky is his inspiration.
To celebrate the launch of Star Binder, Iâm giving away five copies of the brand new Kindle eBook. To enter, all you have to do is email me at email@example.com with STAR BINDER GIVEAWAY as the title, then tell me the name of the book or movie that first made you fall in love with science fiction. Easy as that. Iâll pick my favourites on July 31st and contact the winners directly. Good luck!
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