What do you get when you throw Chuck Wendig, Anne McCaffrey, and John Scalzi into the blender and turn it up to frappé? You get The Fifth Circle, a 117,000 word adult science fantasy yarn full of dragons, spaceships, and political intrigue as told by a befuddled, unreliable Earthan narrator.

Ambien can make you do weird shit. For architect Jeff Miller, the dose he takes on an airliner home turns out to be a doozy.

As with many hallucinations, everything starts almost imperceptibly. He’s flattered into a screen test for a fantasy blockbuster, but strangeness kicks up a gear when he gets the lead role of Titus Dragonmaster. Paranoia ensues when he learns the producers are an alien black ops extraction team that’s hell-bent to get Jeff—who they incontrovertibly believe is the self-exiled Titus Dragonmaster—home to save their city-state, The Fifth Circle. At that point, shape-shifting into a dragon to protect the cast and crew from ancient enemies seems perfectly normal. Right?

When he wakes up on his home world, Jeff has a massive hangover because he has no recollection of being Titus. In the meantime, he has to fend off insidious politics and deadly rivals the only way he knows how: with expressive profanity, pop-culture references, and caustic Pink Floyd quotes, all while renewing an uncomfortable relationship with his spectral mate.

But those pesky ancient enemies find they rather like the idea of invading Earth, so, because the whole shebang is Jeff’s fault, he is sent back to stop them—and retrieve his unusual Earthan family. In an Ingmar Bergman fever dream, Jeff’s loyalties are tested: fight to protect the home world’s fleet, or save Earth from total annihilation. At last he’s reminded that duty means doing what you must do, even though it sucks. Especially if it sucks.

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Sneak Preview of The Fifth Circle, Vol. II

The adventure continues as Titus fights his duplicitous past, a death sentence placed on him by political rivals, a race of beings from another Multiverse intent on draining ours of its energy--and the price he must pay to keep the Domains from annihilation. All the while, his extraordinary family takes their place at his side while the cosmos' plan for him is revealed--a plan that may cost him more than he can give. 

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Character Gallery

Check out the latest character sketches from The Fifth Circle, illustrated by the incomparable Dejan Delic.

 

Character Spotlight

Click here to see this month's character spotlight.

 

 

The Fleet Admiral blew out a breath. “You may be right, with TF 9 inactive.”

“Task Force 9? What is—”

“Part of Second Fleet comprised of ships, if you can call them that, with the highest capability profile in the Domains, regardless of registry. Even the pulsed bio-synths. Far higher. Never designed to be utilized on short notice, a command directive to promote plausible deniability that may end up exacting a price no one could have foreseen.”

Plausible deniability again. Unsettled, I yet managed a neutral shrug. This was net new territory, even for old Titus, but I’d be good and god damned if I came across as a boot.

“You now know more than all but a dozen top fleet officers.” She made a helpless movement with her hand. “Crews are redacted just prior to and immediately after operations to keep it that way, and that takes time. The Torturer-class dreadnaughts are too powerful, too exotic, and if widely deployed, they’d sure as hell terrify the Domains. Not good for the peacekeeping business, which explains why TF 9 has seen only two engagements since its assets were commissioned and those ops remain need-to-know because we were strategically backed into a corner. I’m reluctant about revealing this to say the least, Dragonmaster, but based on your optics, I cannot overstate how much we’ll need all EA weaponry we can bring to bear. For both reasons, as of this moment until cessation of hostilities, your vessel has been impressed as a privateer of the fleet on my personal authority and you will report directly to the fleet flag. You’re part of the fight after all, gods turn away, but everything’s forfeit with extreme prejudice if word of TF 9 gets beyond these walls. Trust me.”

“I’ll do what I can with Beats Working, but trust is poorly lit and it’s easy to get lost in its shadows. However, I do take your threat seriously. You’ll pardon me if I don’t salute.”

Olatanthus put a hand to her implant, gazed narrowly at me, and saw that I wasn’t joking. I returned the stare. “The fleet admiral’s table is set and Yandeenaa’s chief steward has found you some gloves. It may be our last meal for a while. And Titus,” she got between me and the slider, “I know you. Don’t try and do this all yourself. We fight as a unit and we win as a unit. You understand this. Respect it is all I ask.”