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First True E-Book SF Novel Published Online 1996

= Starlight Deep Within a Gothic Sea =

Published online in 1996. John Argo's (John T. Cullen's) novel tells the story of a young reporter named Zoë Calla, in a small California coastal town, who uncovers a plot to conquer the world. During the dinosaur age, an alien invasion fleet came to earth, but its ships burned up in orbit. One plunged into the sea, where its computer core is now starting to reassemble the ship and resume the invasion. Already it's got strange avatars living in Zoë's brain, and weird events happening across town—people are dying or falling into strange comas, and it's getting scary around San Tomas. More info at the book page on Amazon online. Written 1990 as Heartbreaker, retitled 1998 as This Shoal of Space, and in 2019 (Blade Runner Year) retitled Woman in the Sea.

A complex, imaginative tale set in a small California coastal town where the every-day touches hauntingly on the fabric of far space. A young reporter looking for her big break investigates mysterious zoo murders and stumbles upon an intergalactic invader in a virtual netherworld. Two men hover at the periphery—sinister Det. Vic Lara and handsome curator George Chatfield, each with his own terrible mysteries. The ending is not for the literal-minded—but by today, most people have seen "The Matrix" and other VR-empowered flicks and can deal with The White Stuff, The Cold Thing, and other concepts expanded upon here. This was one of the first virtual reality SF stories, written originally in 1990 and far ahead of its genre. It's a horror novel in the broad sense, and yet it never technically departs from the strictures of SF. Among the many novel concepts developed, which baffled early readers, was the idea of massively arrayed parallel computers (in this case, early laptop microprocessors). Huge fan base around the world with tech-savvy computer folks in the late 1990s for these and other John Argo novels.

Review: Tracy Eastgate, Under The Covers Reviews (circa 1998?) "Five Stars. Outstanding, A definite must read… a powerful book"—Tracy Eastgate, Under The Covers Reviews.

Ms. Eastgate contacted John Argo privately to say: "I want to pay you a compliment. Rarely does a book EVER get under my skin or in my subconcious enough to cause dreams of any sort, but I'll tell you what, by time this morning came, I wasn't sure I wanted to go back to sleep or not… lol… I actually had mild nightmares last night… I love it… this is an absolutely awesome book."—Tracy Eastgate, Under The Covers Reviews, in a letter to the author of this novel.

What is DarkSF? John Argo defines DarkSF as 'The Dark Chocolate of Speculative Fiction.' It is not about shallow characters and juvenile story fare (scary, horror, blood, gore, or the like) but about the finest the SF genre has to offer. It is cinematic, rich, nuanced, atmospheric, even poetic at times. Think Blade Runner, Dark City, and other complex, sophisticated imaginative material. This of SF classics by Cordwainer Smith, Alice Sheldon ('James Tiptree, Jr.'), Chip Delaney, Octavia Butler, Ursula K. LeGuin, Ray Bradbury, William Golding, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, and other masters of the art. For thoughtful readers.

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intellectual property warning

click to read Read Half Free/Try-Buy at Metaphysical Fiction (COM). You read half of this novel free, with the option to buy the entire e-book edition for the price of a cup of coffee if you wish. For the price of a cup of coffee, you can buy the e-book (no obligation). The coffee is gone in minutes, but the e-book (or p-book) is yours forever, and the author appreciates your kindness. Thank you!

Browse or Buy at Amazon

The book linked at left is an e-book edition to browse; or buy & download from Amazon for your Kindle reader.
     The middle link is for the corresponding print edition. Most of these are standard 6x9"; a few have added trim sizes available (5x8"). More info at Amazon.com.
     Most print editions are also available at Barnes & Noble online; or call/visit your local bookstore to order.


Gallery of Past Covers

Carousel. Selected past titles and covers since the book was written (Heartbreaker 1990 and published online 1996; retitled in 1998 as This Shoal of Space; retitled 2018 as Woman in the Sea). Current title is Starlight Deep Within a Gothic Sea.