Dead Man’s Hammer


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Deanna was just another third-rate colony in the Terran Empire – and it was pretty much as boring a lump of rock as could be expected. That is, until Gary Beck, aka Beck the Badfeller ran over an obsidian crow with his jeepo on the highway to San Fedora and didn’t have a spare tire. Things pretty much went down hill from there.

An assassin had come to Atro City, an assassin with a score to settle. She was refined and pretty – but as poets might say, beauty can be deceiving – and the same poets who described Helen of Troy as the face that launched a thousand ships, might have written about Villainessa Tittle as the bitch that sank them.

As an assassin, she was the worst kind: she was absolutely terrifying, she took pride in her work, enjoyed what she did for a living – and above all, she was bloody good at it – and this time unfortunately, it was absolutely 100 percent personal.

Beck the Badfeller – Deanna’s most famous bounty hunter, was dead – and it was up to Cindy-Mei Winter, Sheriff Peg, Deputy Mike, Fred the Arborian – and Gary Beck himself – to solve it.

“Quite simply, Christina Engela is one of the best voices in sci-fi right now and to not read her work would be to miss a treat!” – Mark Woods, author of Time of Tides and Fear of the Dark.

Dead Man’s Hammer” is the third title in the Quantum Series by Christina Engela.

Details:

  • Published: March 16, 2019
  • Words: 50,028.

Synopsis:

[Spolier Alert]

Dead Man’s Hammer” is the third title in the Quantum Series by Christina Engela – a writer described as ‘that rarest of authors – able to seamlessly blend together elements of dark horror and sci-fi to create stories that will stay with you long after the last page has been turned.’ (Mark Woods, author of ‘Time of Tides’ and ‘Fear of the Dark‘). Her writing in the sci-fi genre has been described as ‘one of the most unique and captivating styles I’ve encountered in science fiction.’ (Alex S. Johnson, author of The Doom Hippies.)

Set after the second book (“The Time Saving Agency“), “Dead Man’s Hammer” shows just how easily things can go horribly wrong – and not even in a nice way! Cindy-Mei Winter is a former Colonial Intelligence Agency agent now residing on the charming Terran colony world called Deanna, populated by a unique blend of western-esque characters and alien life-forms – including the ubiquitous crabby-grass.

navigational-symbols-deanna

Dead Man’s Hammer” sees the re-introduction of Fred, the unique Arborian character from “Black Sunrise“. For those of you new to this series, Fred is a walking, talking plant life-form from a distant planet called Arboria – perhaps the only planet known for having forests that migrate with the seasons. Far from being a mere curiosity or a comedy- prop, Fred’s ability to blend into his surroundings is uncanny –  almost legendary in fact, and he is not above being an instrument of justice – and occasionally, vengeance.

gary-beck

Gary Beck, a.k.a. Beck the Badfeller.

Dead Man’s Hammer” is a darker story than the previous two, and the story begins with the death of Cindy-Mei’s beau, Beck the Badfeller, at the hands of an incredibly dangerous and highly skilled assassin (whose most likely name is Villainessa Tittel) who has a yen to kill Cindy-Mei Winter – over and above the contract she has with the former CIA agent’s name on it. Meanwhile, Mei – who is all but crippled by the grief of losing Gary Beck, the love of her life, in so cruel a manner – goes dark, retreating deep into herself in order to bring Tittel’s macabre and bloody romp through Atro City to a speedy end – even if it kills her.

Sheriff Peggy-Ann Muller, a long-time friend and associate of Gary’s, does what she can to catch the killer, to support the grieving Mei – while also striving to keep her out of trouble! Tittel, meanwhile, seems set on making the most of her advantage.

As the story progresses however, it becomes clear that the vaunted Gary Beck (aka Beck the Badfeller) has not been killed after all. Well, that is to say, he was – but since Gary Beck had made the acquaintance of Johnathan Scrooby, nothing seemed seriously set in stone anymore, and even death seemed to be no more than a temporary inconvenience. Scrooby’s intervention makes it possible for Beck and Scrooby to brainstorm (over Triple Brainscrew Skullhammers at the Time Saving Agency canteen) how to save Mei, dispose of the assassin, and make Deanna a safe place again. When he returns to the timeline, it is – well, just in time. For Scrooby this is an act of friendship and the repayment of a debt. For Beck, it’s an eye-opener to be able to come so close to death – and then to be able to return to his life and his loved-ones.

The History of “Dead Man’s Hammer”

When I first started writing Quantum, I wrote the original first three books in the same year! No, it wasn’t deliberate… I mean, what kind of lunatic sits down one bright sunny day and thinks, “Yes, I think I feel like writing three books simultaneously”? It just worked out that way!

To explain it simply, I started out writing “Black Sunrise“, and it just got longer, and longer, and more complex, and midway through I decided to split it down the middle and turn the next part into book 2 “The Time Saving Agency” … and another part, which became “Dead Man’s Hammer“… and then I worked on them all simultaneously! Yes, it was taxing just getting those first three drafts together, but over the years they’ve been refined really well!

Around 2005, I published the first version of “Dead Man’s Hammer” on Lulu, and updated and refined it and its cover again in 2007.

In 2014, I got picked up by a small press, which contracted me for all my titles, and to comply I took everything down from Lulu and waited for the publisher to hold up its end of the bargain. It was a long wait for a train that never came; and by May 2016 the company essentially frog-marched every one of their authors who weren’t “pure horror writers” out the door of their stable, leaving me back at Square One with my head spinning.

Upon my immediate return to self-publishing in May 2016, I re-released the then complete four titles in Quantum, including “Dead Man’s Hammer“.  I made good use of the opportunity to edit, format and to create new covers.

In 2019, I revised all the Quantum Series books and redesigned all the covers so they all looked like part of the same series – and unique from Galaxii! At any rate, I feel the current series of covers does the story justice!

     

Reviews:

Suspense, drama and modern issues all of which are tackled in a fun but important way…

“As the Quantum series unfolds, it grows more and more impressive. Dead Man’s Hammer is proof that Christina Engela can build an established world and insert so many genres into it along with retaining a unique style of writing that not only tributes her influences but has a way of confiding in readers.

We are back on the quirky planet of ‘Deanna’, home of the rather ominous sounding ‘obsidian crows’ and more specifically ‘Atro City’ – a place this time around we get to know a bit better while referencing the previous stories of the ‘Quantum series’.

Someone is targeting my favourite characters; an assassin enigmatically named ‘Villainessa Tittel’ who is after one person in particular – series regular, Cindy-Mei Winter. ‘Villainessa’ proves to be quite a force in her field of work and does everything in her power to draw in ‘Mei’, wiith whom she shares an interesting history. It is in this history where readers will find the true message and meaning of the story. While ‘Mei’ has moved forward in life she must face what is essentially a demon of her past and a life before she became ‘Cindy’ and it’s trying to torment her! This is a massive nod to modern issues that many people face in the transgender community and in life as a whole, sometimes it isn’t about who you were, but what you are now and what you truly feel. This concept is galvanised by another character ‘Danielle Grauffis’ who is in a process of transition in her young life compared to ‘Mei’.

Of course other returning regulars such as ‘Beck the Badfeller’ – who we get a name origins story from and special branch ‘Fred’ the Arborian make appearances along with an extended appearance from ‘Sheriff Peggy-Ann Muller’ who makes quite a team with ‘Mei’ – and this is where a crime mystery element of the story truly shines.

Suspense, drama and even tragedy are ways that I would describe the journey this story represents, not to mention that crime-mystery theme along with some more important issues that these books are not afraid to tackle; as much as this sounds heavy, it’s a fun read! Throughout Engela’s writing style naturally flows and is fun to read.

Revenge is a dish best served cold, you could even say as cold as ‘Winter’ – but that’s only something ‘I heard through the grape vine…

5 Stars” – Lee Hall, UK writer & reviewer, September 9, 2019.

Reader’s Comments:

Left Me Begging For More

“Dark humor and some blood and guts sprinkled with light-hearted fun! Left me begging for more at the end!”- Angie Pote – 2006.

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If you would like to know more about Christina Engela and her writing, please feel free to browse her website.

If you’d like to send Christina Engela a question about her life as a writer or transactivist, please send an email to christinaengela@gmail.com or use the Contact form.

Show your appreciation for Christina’s work!

All material copyright © Christina Engela, 2019.

 

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