Below are the 18 semifinalists of the 3rd annual Self-Published Science Fiction Competition, complete with descriptions, author info, and purchase links.

Any Minor WorldChildren of the BlackDark Theory
The Fall Is All There IsGold RecordThe Hand of God
KenaiPanacea GenesisPrompt Excursion
ReplacementA Slice of MarsSunset
Tasmanian GothicThree Grams of ElsewhereThrill Switch
Time to PlayWistful AscendingWoe to the Victor

Any Minor World

Craig Shaefer

For Roy Mackey—a recovering addict who makes his living as an unlicensed PI and occasional muscle for hire—tracking down a dead writer’s final manuscript should be a walk in the park. Too bad his client is a phony, the dead writer is a thief, and shadowy men are watching his every move. All clues lead to a canceled pulp-adventure comic, The Midnight Jury, and its reclusive author. 

Lucy Langenkamp is living a quiet life as an art restorer in Las Vegas; when Roy helps her escape from a crew of armed kidnappers, she’s as baffled as he is.Then one of her own characters, a flamethrower-wielding “human exterminator,” steps out of the pages of her comic book and into the real world. He’s intent on hunting her down, and he isn’t alone. The pulp villains spawned from Lucy’s childhood imagination are coming to life, searching for their long-lost author. Her most sinister creation, the Illustrated Duke, has a dark plan in motion.

This is a job for Lucy’s two-fisted vigilante, the Midnight Jury. But the Jury is missing. To save the day, Lucy and Roy must descend into a noir-drenched nightmare city on a rescue mission. The walls between fiction and reality are shattered, there’s wild magic in the air, and it’s up to two unlikely heroes to risk it all and save the day.

SPSFC Team: Edpool

Genres: Gothic comic fantasy sci-fi


Children of the Black

W.J. Long III

Humanity has survived

On the far end of the universe, with Earth little more than a faded memory, they thrive on worlds where once they were enslaved. In the millennia since, these persistent beings built new societies, but when the two greatest nations among them met for the first time, there was war. The all-consuming conflict bent the wills and morals of both powers beyond recognition, leading to levels of experimentation and cruelty once thought impossible. Yet, in a universe drowned in blood, an opportunity for peace is seized.

In the uncertain aftermath of the truce, a broken soldier haunted by the horrors of the war and the lost psionic girl he once risked his life to save scratch out a life in the dusty streets of Minerva City. Meanwhile, from worlds beyond, shadows from their past descend to offer a different path.

In exchange, the two must find a powerful secret once thought capable of bringing solace to a desperate wartorn universe, but in this time of uneasy peace, it holds a more destructive power. Uniquely qualified and entirely in over their heads, they put their lives on the line to embark on a harrowing adventure and discover not only answers to their broken pasts but a taste of perils lurking in the Black.

SPSFC Team: Science Fiction News

Genres: Space opera, Military


Dark Theory

Wick Welker

A robot yearns to remember. A thief struggles to forget. A galaxy on the verge of collapse.

On the fringe of a broken civilization, a robot awakens with no memories and only one directive: find his creator. But in the village of Korthe, Beetro finds only radioactive pestilence, famine, and Miree—a tormented thief with dreams of retiring after her final score. Meanwhile, the fiefdom is plunged further into chaos when a new warlord seizes control, recasting serfs as refugees and leaving derelict robot peasants in his wake. With a shared interest in survival, Beetro and Miree team up to pull off an impossible castle heist: steal a single flake of dark matter, the world’s most valuable and mysterious ore.

But as they trek through the feudal wasteland in search of answers, they realize the true extent of the chaos surrounding them: the stars are disappearing from the sky and the entire galaxy is unraveling. As he uncovers his origin, Beetro discovers he may be the key to the salvation of the cosmos—or its destruction. Time, space, and loyalty become relative as he learns the real reason he was created.

SPSFC Team: Book Invasion

Genres: Science fantasy, Space opera


The Fall Is All There Is

C.M. Caplan

All Petre Mercy wanted was a good old-fashioned dramatic exit from his life as a prince. But it’s been five years since he fled home on a cyborg horse. Now the King – his Dad – is dead – and Petre has to decide which heir to pledge his thyroid-powered sword to.

As the youngest in a set of quadruplets, he’s all too aware that the line of succession is murky. His siblings are on the precipice of power grabs, and each of them want him to pick their side.

If Petre has any hope of preventing civil war, he’ll have to avoid one sibling who wants to take him hostage, win back another’s trust after years of rivalry and resentment, and get an audience with a sister he’s been avoiding for five years.

Before he knows it, he’s plunged himself into a web of intrigue and a world of strange, unnatural inventions just to get to her doorstep.

Family reunions can be a special form of torture.

SPSFC Team: Red Stars

Genres: Science fantasy


Gold Record

Leigh Saunders

Tour Guide. Emissary. Diplomat. Thief.
On her 217th birthday, Brianna Rei hooks up with smuggler-thief Jerrold McKell to steal the legendary Voyager Gold Record. But their partnership doesn’t go exactly as planned. Pursued across the Hundred Worlds by bounty hunters, and hiding the secret of her true identity as a Synth, Brianna finds herself having to make a series of increasingly difficult choices – choices that could put both of their lives in jeopardy.

SPSFC Team: Space Stars

Genres: Space opera, Heist


The Hand of God

Yuval Kordov

The world ended—twice.

Only Esther, the Eternal One, saw it all happen. As head of the powerful Revenant Sisterhood, she shepherds humanity from Cathedral, the Last City. Except Cathedral isn’t the last city, and her sisterhood’s power is far from holy.

It’s the year 2500, give or take. The passage of time has become as blurry as the gray wastes that cover most of North America. No moon or stars light the night, and demonic hordes smash against the last outposts of civilization.

Two reborn nations vie for humanity’s future. In the west, Cathedral unleashes its God-engines—ancient walking war machines—in a final bid to cleanse the earth. In the east, the struggling city-state of Bastion turns to the last living AI for salvation. Between them, a tribe of technological scavengers unwittingly holds the balance of power.

Hell is on the horizon. Who will survive?

SPSFC Team: Wayward Stars

Genres: Post-apocalyptic, Far future


Kenai

Dave Dobson

A planet steeped in mystery…
Jess Amiko is long past her days as a space marine, with all the glory of that time tarnished beyond repair by what came after. Trying to rebuild from the ashes, she’s taken a job as a security guard on Kenai, a lonely world far from the Council systems. It’s supposed to be easy duty – quiet and peaceful, on a docile world with no real threats, watching over an archeological dig at a site built by a race long vanished.

Betrayed and attacked by forces unknown, and finding that nothing on Kenai makes sense, Jess is plunged into a desperate fight for survival that leads her deep into the mysteries of Kenai’s past, and deep into the hardship and paradox the planet imposes on all who call it home.

SPSFC Team: Peripheral Prospectors

Genres: Space opera, Military


Panacea Genesis

L. Ana Ellis

Mariela Stafford is a vice president at the world’s largest metaverse and pod warehousing company, until she’s demoted by her new boss and replaced by his digital clone. Now the clone wants to kill her boss and is blackmailing Mariela to help.

In 2115, embedded chips, expanded virtual reality, and the threat of extreme weather have led to a market for businesses that keep a person’s body alive in a habitation pod while the person lives entirely in the metaverse. But not everyone embraces technological advances – a group of people have adopted the tech of 2005 while isolating themselves to resist the temptation of advanced technology. Panacea Corp – the world’s most powerful corporation – connects both worlds through providing the metaverse, the pod warehouses, and the land to the technology resisters.

Mariela’s boss, the new CEO of Panacea Corp, gives her job to his digital avatar and then adds insult to injury when he tells her to train it. Now the avatar, in a bid for power, is forcing Mariela to help it kill the CEO. To delete the avatar, she’ll need to access an 80-year-old server in the isolated area.

Mariela recruits others to carry out her plan, but none of the other team members knows the true nature of what they are doing. The team members include a man who’s still resentful about losing his job three years ago after being outed as unchipped, a woman who doesn’t fit in with the chipped or the unchipped, a renowned former player in the Zazora Games, and a woman who just left her habitation pod after living in the metaverse for 32 years.

SPSFC Team: Wayward Stars

Genres: Dystopian, Cyberverse, Earth opera


Prompt Excursion

Lewis S. Kingston

An injured officer awakes on a heavily damaged military spaceship. Her memory is impaired. No one answers her calls. The ship is out of control. They are dying, adrift, the chance of rescue shrinking by the second.

Clinging to the few positive thoughts she can remember, she fights to survive, to restore order, to bring the ship to safety. But should she?

Step aboard the Prompt Excursion and find out what’s at stake in this high-tension Sci-Fi story that’s packed with mystery, technology, and adventure.

We all make choices. Hers might kill you.

SPSFC Team: Book Invasion

Genres: Military, Space exploration, Thriller


Replacement

Jordan Rivet

Jane is a leftover clone. Created for an unknown purpose, then abandoned at a rundown facility outside Grid City, she has a knack for trouble and a burning desire to find out why she was made.

When a powerful tycoon hires her to replace his son Isaac’s best friend, a girl from the same clone batch as her, Jane jumps at the chance to finally get some answers. All she has to do is convince the charming Isaac that his friend is still alive, without getting too close to him. Stepping into someone else’s life isn’t easy, though, even when you have the same genes.

As Jane struggles to survive at Isaac’s elite private school, she discovers the other clone’s death was no accident—and she might be next. She must solve her batchmate’s murder and unravel the mystery of their origins before the killer comes for her too.

SPSFC Team: Peripheral Prospectors

Genres: Dystopian, Mystery


A Slice of Mars

Guerric Haché

Mars is a strange place these days. Corporate overlords, capitalism, and even aging are things of the past on a planet increasingly brimming with biodiversity – yet pizzerias are in short supply!

Siblings Hett and San set out to change that. But a roboticist and a bureaucrat can’t run a restaurant alone, so they bring on some help – a bioengineer, a communications scientist, and an unlikely grad student from Earth. Together, this gang of geeks will brave the fires of small business.

But work is just a small part of life. People are complicated. Different brains, different wounds, different values, and one questionably tame wildcat will all collide as they try to grow and succeed together. What comes out of the oven, in the end, is anyone’s guess.

SPSFC Team: Space Girls

Genres: Mars colonization, Cozy, Slice of life


An unlikely savior emerges to prevent the advent of mass destruction and genocide descending on the world…

By Day: Los Angeles, 2040. When the terrorist known as Medusa threatens to kill millions with a stolen nuclear bomb, Nick Jameson makes a fateful decision. He reveals himself on global television as a Daywalker – a vampire with a soul. To save Los Angeles, Nick exposes not only his own gifts but three separate cultures based on millennia-old magic.

By Night: The three metahuman races exist in careful balance, working to maintain a fragile peace. Nick and his fellow Daywalkers successfully master their natural bloodlust. The Sentinels, armed with both magic and steel, repress their warlike instincts. And even some Nightwalkers, normally their natural enemies, have deserted the Court of Shadows to join the triple alliance. Nick Jameson is deeply involved with two such Nightwalkers – handsome Lorcan and powerful Rory. Both men love Nick. But neither can protect the new Ambassador to Humanity from the events he has set in motion.

By the Sword: Jeremy Harkness was lured into Medusa’s service under false pretenses. A loner with no one and nothing to cling to, he was willing to die for his cause. But the night Medusa tried to obliterate Los Angeles, Jeremy met Nick Jameson, triggering the onset of his own psychic gifts. For Jeremy is the third race of metahuman, a Sentinel, born to kill the Nightwalkers with no quarter asked or offered. And neither Medusa nor the Court of Shadows will settle for peace when they can make war.

Betrayal and treachery lurk around every corner on the road to coexistence, and at every turn, Nick must question who to trust among his metahuman allies, friends, and lovers—before their civilization is plunged into the depths of darkness and bloodshed. With millennia-old magic, emerging romance, and ever-shifting allegiances, this inventive series unveils a scintillating, homoerotic world of Nightwalkers, Daywalkers, Sentinels, and Humans, who battle for world dominance in the not-too-distant future.

SPSFC Team: Edpool

Genres: Near future, Science fantasy, Horror


Tasmanian Gothic

Mikhaeyla Kopievsky

Nothing was the same after the sky broke.

In a post-apocalyptic world, the small island of Tasmania has been transformed by a lush mutant wilderness, an impenetrable border wall that divides the affluent North from the contaminated South, and a decades-long war between the two crime lords of the southern reaches.

Solari, orphaned and alone, survives the war by scouring the Tasmanian wilderness for mutant organisms and transforming them into the highly addictive snowrock for cold and ruthless Yevgeny Worcsulakz. But when a troublesome ex causes Worcsulakz to reconsider the terms of their agreement, Solari runs – escaping the promise of violence with a handful of cash, a stolen van, and a pair of wings cleaved from a mutant moth.

Grafting the wings to her back grants Solari temporary refuge from Worcsulakz’s retribution and introduces her to the hidden world of Tasmania’s most vilified and reviled. There, as an outcast among outcasts, Solari finds an unlikely ally in Alcaeus – a man whose skin ripples with metal plates and whose voice rumbles like thunder – and together they flee across the wasteland of a ravaged Tasmania.

Chased by enemies through gangland strongholds, deadly forests, and carnival outposts, the two of them will form a tenuous connection. But, with their nightmares closing in and demons catching up, it may not be enough to save them. Hunted by Worcsulakz, the hidden terrors of the Fringes, the secrets of their past, and the deception at the core of their fragile alliance, Solari and Alcaeus will need to confront them all or stay condemned to a life of loneliness and brutality.

SPSFC Team: Space Girls

Genres: Dark, Biopunk, Thriller


Three Grams of Elsewhere

Andy Giesler

A reclusive empath confronts his role in the war that fractured the United States.

Fifty years ago, a new civil war fractured the United States into a mosaic of polarized nations. Ever since, Harmony “Bibi” Cain has isolated himself: from society, from technology, from family. A powerful empath weary from the constant intrusion of others’ emotions, he’s finally cloistered in his rural Wisconsin retirement community. He hopes to find, if not peace, then at least a little quiet.

But when four impossible-seeming killings shake North America, Bibi is drawn into an investigation he wants nothing to do with. The victims were killed by unstoppable drones only an empath can control—and decades ago, Bibi was an unwitting subject in the wartime program that created them: the program that weaponized empathy.

With his few remaining friends at risk, and tensions between countries of the former United States reawakening, everything may depend on Bibi’s lifelong struggle with his own extraordinary ability.

SPSFC Team: Space Stars

Genres: Near-future, Mystery


Thrill Switch

Tim Hawken

Detective Ada Byron is pumped to finally be assigned her first murder case… until she sees the crime scene. Someone has been killed exactly the same way as her father was seven years earlier.

To see if this is a copycat, or something more sinister, Ada must work with her personal nightmare Jazlin Switch – the programmer who murdered her dad. What follows is a mind-bending, heart-stopping ride through the dark side of reality and the virtual world.

SPSFC Team: Tar Vol On

Genres: Cyberpunk, Near future, Thriller


Time to Play

Erin Ampersand

A few minutes ago, Meghan Moretti’s biggest concern was getting the kids’ athletic clothes washed in time for practice this evening. Now, Earth has been forced into participating in some high-stakes intergalactic reality television. All electrical wiring has been slagged, and most combustibles neutralized. Some kind of evil space rodents are appearing on the front lawn, too.

Like any parent, Meghan’s first instinct is to keep her young children safely away from the monsters. When she learns that’s not possible, she has to find ways to help them thrive anyway.

What’s a mom to do?

SPSFC Team: Tar Vol On

Genres: Apocalyptic, LitRPG


Wistful Ascending

JCM Berne

The il’Drach have conquered half a galaxy behind the civilization-ending Powers of their mixed-species children.

Half-human Rohan, exhausted by a decade fighting for their Empire, has paid a secret and terrible price for his freedom.

Now retired, he strives to live a quiet life towing starships for the space station Wistful. His most pressing problems are finding the perfect cup of coffee and talking to a gorgeous shuttle tech without tripping over his own tongue.

A nearby, long-dormant wormhole is opened by a shipful of scared, angry refugees, and the many eyes of the Empire focus uncomfortably on Wistful.

As scientists, spies, and assassins converge, reverting to the monster the Empire created is the surest way to protect his friends. And the surest way to lose them.

SPSFC Team: Red Stars

Genres: Space opera, Superhero


Woe to the Victor

Nathan H. Green

It’s Earth’s last day and Captain Lewis Black drifts though space, watching it burn.

The pilots under his command are dead. The war with the Maaravi is lost. Air hisses into space from around the stump of his severed arm.

In the distance a Maaravi ship approaches. Whether to torture him for information, capture him as a prisoner, or take him as a trophy, he’ll have one last chance to hurt them.

Natasha Palmer, lead engineer on the failed Reaper missile program, knows humanity’s last, desperate, plan won’t work. She’s got one chance to change that, but it will mean a leap of faith beyond all others.

Humanity is vanquished, but some battles bring only woe to the victor.

SPSFC Team: Science Fiction News

Genres: Military, Aliens