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A Legacy of Stars


A Legacy of Stars

Click on the cover image to download
an excerpt of "Ghosts on the Battlefield"

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    Dark Quest, LLC

    Dark Quest, LLC/DTF Publications
    Military Science Fiction, Anthology

    Publication Date: November 2012

    Edited by: Mike McPhail
    Cover design by: Danielle McPhail

    Trade Paperback: 9781937051952, $14.95


If you’re in the mood for a smorgasbord of enjoyable tales from a fresh new voice [...]
give A Legacy of Stars a try. —Don Sakers,

[In A Legacy of Stars] Danielle Ackley-McPhail writes science fiction rooted in an old school sensibility
but with a fresh, contemporary tone. Highly recommended.
—James Chambers, Author

Back Cover Copy

Turn your eyes to the heavens and be amazed…

With one small step, mankind embarked on a journey fraught with potential and danger in equal measure.
In A Legacy of Stars, Danielle Ackley-McPhail delves into those same depths as
humanity ventures out into the complexity of space.

New worlds…dangers…marvels… Unearthly landscapes and beings that transcend alien. The conflicts of man versus, well… everything, including man. The bittersweet triumph of survival out among the stars.

In eleven reprints and two never-before-published stories, explore the harsh realities and boundless possibilities of mankind let loose on the greater universe. Pirates and gypsies, elite armed forces and scientific pioneers,
all faced with the horror, wonder, and unexpected challenges that life in space has to offer. Pitch battles,
political intrigues, military conquest, wondrous discoveries… glimpse what it is to be human, or not,
in the technological age, beyond the bounds of humanity’s cradle.


Foreword by Mike McPhail
Building Blocks -
introduction by John G. Hemry (Jack Campbell)

Carbon Copy -
introduction by Steve White
Zinn Mensch -
introduction by Bud Sparhawk
Oracle - poem

Travellin’ Show -
introduction by Keith RA DeCandido
Self Reflection - poem

The Devil You Don’t -
introduction by Jody Lynn Nye
SciFiKu 1 - poem

By Any Means -
introduction by Jack McDevitt
In the Dying Light -
introduction by Michael Z. Williamson
SciFiKu 2 - poem

True Colors -
introduction by Peter Prellwitz
Last Man Standing -
introduction by Keith RA DeCandido
To Look Upon The Face of God -
introduction by Brenda Cooper
Ghosts on the Battlefield -
introduction by David Sherman
First Line
- introduction by Charles E. Gannon
SciFiKu 3 - poem

A Legacy of Stars -
introduction by Paul Levinson

Story Reviews

On Building Blocks

Not all science fiction is about science.  Some of it is about people, or things other than people that think and feel.  Building Blocks tells the story of the humans who are investigating a new world and running into the sort of unexpected situations that only humans can handle.  It’s the sort of story that highlights why people, flawed and imperfect as they are, need to go to new words.  Even when they shouldn’t have gone to that particular world…

John G. Hemry (aka Jack Campbell), author of The Lost Fleet series and The Lost Stars - Tarnished Knight

"Danielle Ackley-McPhail’s “Building Blocks” took a sort of Weinbaum-ian look at aliens who are truly alien, in her tale of the slow offensive of an entire planet.—Luke’s Reviews

On Carbon Copy

This story has barely begun before author Danielle Ackley-McPhail plunges us into a high-tech and very high-density combat environment. This is military SF in its purest form; we are not detained by any discussion of what sort of polity heroine Katrion Alexander is working for, or for that matter what sort of enemies it faces. Rather, the story is reduced to the most basic problems of how to survive and—in Faulkner’s words—to prevail in the context of its well-thought-out setting. As such, it succeeds very well. On the basis of my own military experience, I was quite prepared to accept Trask as precisely the kind of jerk he initially appears to be. The revelation of his true nature is therefore rendered even more surprising.

Steve White, co-author of Extremis

“Danielle Ackley-McPhail’s “Carbon Copy” is like an Honor Harrington short story with an Asimovian pun at the end.” —Chris Paige, ConNotations Newsletter

On Zinn Mensch

A finely wrought tale of deep-space terror interwoven with the routine business of salvage and recovery that engages the protagonists for much of the story. Counterbalancing the mundane with the mysterious, a feeling of impending doom prevails as a mechanical mantra repeatedly injects itself into the narrative, their implication becoming startlingly clear as Kitch tries to resolve the meaning of German words scrawled above a mass of dead crewmen. Their fate becomes too soon terrifyingly clear in an exciting conclusion.

—Bud Sparhawk, author of the Shardie Universe series

On Travellin’ Show

Throughout human history, the entertainers have always been the weirdos, the freaks, the strangers, the people you don’t entirely trust, but the people you can’t stay away from. “Normal” people are captivated by them even as they’re repelled by them. In “Travellin’ Show,” humanity’s expansion into space hasn’t really changed that. Where once the Rom travelled on paths and roads to bring entertainment to each new town, now they travel through space from station to station to not only provide shows and tricks, but also goods and mail. In addition to being a fun look at the future of the so-called “gypsies,” this story also nicely shows the different sides of envying what you don’t have. And if you want to continue to get those shows, you’d be well not to mistreat them...

—Keith R.A. DeCandido, author of Dragon Precinct, Unicorn Precinct, and Goblin Precinct

On The Devil You Don’t

Enemies will come and go. Technology changes—sometimes improved, sometimes not. The only tools a soldier in any era can truly rely upon are her training, her instincts, and her companions-in-arms. On a ‘deniable’ mission, Kat Alexander is in no less danger than if her unit’s mission had official sanction, and can come back every bit as dead. In “The Devil You Don’t” Danielle makes the reader into an embedded (and unfortunately unarmed) observer on a rapid-moving ride-along, sharing the company’s frustrations and triumphs, not necessarily in that order. Kat and her company will keep you engaged in the action.

—Jody Lynn Nye, co-author of the Ship Who Won, with Anne McCaffrey

On By Any Means

What does it truly mean to be human? Danielle Ackley-McPhail explores a question we usually answer only with trite observations about love and friendship and mortality. But she takes us well beyond the standard responses with a tale of the occasional costs of survival.

—Jack McDevitt, author of Firebird

On In The Dying Light

Among a small ship crew, everyone is familiar, and at times, aggravating. Even civilian ships borrow military discipline to create a structure and culture that works. But introduce an outside agent of some kind, and the dynamics can shift drastically. There are tensions between people, internal struggles, both piled on top of the tedium, and sometimes drama of running the mission. Of course, not all demons can be readily recognized or resolved. For "In The Dying Light," Danielle Ackley-McPhail paints a small, sparse but emotive environment where things turn interesting, bad, then worse. Both gripping and chilling…

Michael Z. Williamson, author of the Freehold universe books.

Danielle Ackley-McPhail’s “In the Dying Light,” packed into the story a wallop of suspense and excitement, not just at the gunfights and violence, but weaving a strong story through the action. —Luke’s Reviews

[In the Dying Light] called to mind a combination of the movie Alien and Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Without going into it any more, I’ll just say that I really liked the story, and that Danielle definitely can write MilSF with the best of them. —Douglas Cobb, Boomtron Reviews

“In the Dying Light” by Danielle Ackley-McPhail was one of my favorite stories […] An Alien style horror tale, it is about the dangers of the strange uncharted regions of space. Ackley-McPhail builds tension well, and by the end you may find yourself gripped in the cold sweats of fear. —John Ottinger III, Grasping for the Wind Reviews

On True Colors

“True Colors” brings out the darkest and deepest of the tints and hues that make up betrayal. As seen through a smoky lens of intensity that shades the entire tale, Danielle Ackley-McPhail gives us a rainbow of bitter, wire-taught emotions that achieves a terrific contrast between loyalty and betrayal. The firebrand Katrion Alexander is the ideal catalyst for the reader to travel this wending trail of a story with as she and Scotch—the hard, yet understanding corporal of the 142nd Infantry—head off together to med-bay, unknowingly beginning a series of actions that will force the enemy to rear its head in an unlikely and unlooked for place. Kat and Scotch know they can trust each other. But as for anyone else... when will their true colors show?

—Peter Prellwitz, Author of the Shards Universe Series

On Last Man Standing

A great movie was once released with the tagline, “In space, no one can hear you scream.” This story gets around that by having subvocal communication, but it still has echoes of Ridley Scott’s classic, only it’s not an alien that menaces a company ship, but something just as deadly. Luckily, ships have engineers. I think what I loved best about this story was that, if it wasn’t for the guys who do science, everyone would die.

—Keith R.A. DeCandido, author of Dragon Precinct, Unicorn Precinct, and Goblin Precinct

On To Look Upon the Face of God

What if you woke up to see the vast empty of space all around you, to feel the slight shift of breath that is sure to run out of oxygen, and to hear nothing but your own voice calling a Mayday?

I liked this story a lot. I particularly love that in some ways it reminds me of Life of Pi. Nice story with a good emotional punch!

—Brenda Cooper, co-author of Building Harlaquin’s Moon,with Larry Niven

On Ghosts on the Battlefield

I’ve been there. In combat, that is. Of course, my combat was on the ground as an infantryman, not in the air as a combat pilot. But I’ve had to research aerial combat for some of my military Science Fiction novels. I think I got it right. For “Ghosts on the Battlefield,” Danielle Ackley-McPhail must have done the same research I did. There’s a considerable feeling of reality in this story, and that’s of greatest import to me in military fiction, SF or otherwise.

—David Sherman, co-author of the Starfist and DemonTech Series, with Dan Cragg

On First Line

In “First Line,” by Danielle Ackley-McPhail, you’ll find the same crackling action and deft pacing that you may have come to know in her other fiction. However, since many reviewers will point to those qualities, I want to take a moment to gesture at something subtler, but no less a hallmark of her writing: its intense engagement with humans in crisis. And, by means of a footnote, understand that—in Danielle’s fiction—the “crisis” she depicts is often as unique and quirky as the emotional involvement within and between her characters is intense.

I won’t spoil the twists and unusual crises of the protagonist of “First Line” by revealing any plot specifics, but I will guarantee you this: you won’t forget this story. With just enough peripheral science to build plausibility, Danielle unfolds a tale of both human and machine tragedy, sacrifice, and dark immortality that will remain with you long after you’ve read the last word. Strongly recommended!

—Charles E. Gannon, co-author of Extremis, with Steve White

On A Legacy of Stars

Marshall McLuhan once asked me who was my favorite science fiction writer. On most days, I would have answered Isaac Asimov, but on this day I said Olaf Stapledon, because my head was in the cosmos and I was thinking of his Star Maker. Would you believe me if I told you there’s something of Stapledon in the story now before you, Danielle Ackley-McPhail’s “A Legacy of Stars”? Read her liquid lyrics, and tell me they did not lead you into the “heart of a star,” if you feel like doing anything more than softly dreaming.

—Paul Levinson, author of The Silk Code and The Plot to Save Socrates

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