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Honored in the Rainbow Awards, Dusk Peterson writes suspenseful novels with gay, bisexual, heterosexual, asexual, transgender, and queer characters. Formerly a journalist and history writer, Peterson has written romance, romantic friendship fiction, friendship stories, historical speculative fiction, fantasy and science fiction, crime fiction, war fiction, contemporary stories, and narrative nonfiction.
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NEW E-BOOK: Trial (Life Prison: Hell's Messenger #1)
"Compassion's Keeper took his hand off the dagger hilt only long enough to turn a page. '"Sentenced to sixty lashes of the leaded whip. Sentence commuted to a transfer to Compassion Life Prison."' The Keeper raised his eyebrows. 'That's the first time I've ever heard a transfer to this prison described as a commutation. We'll assume that particular phrasing was meant as a joke.'"
The prisoner has suffered endless pain and has raised a rebellion. Now he faces his greatest trial.
For fifteen years, Tyrrell has struggled against odds to better the lives of his fellow prisoners. Now he must start all over again, for he has been transferred to Compassion Prison, reputed to be the worst life prison in his nation. The first signs of trouble at his new prison are brutally armed guards, a probing physician, and a Keeper of mysterious motives. But Tyrrell knows that, when he walks into his new cell, he'll face danger beyond measure:
The prisoners of Compassion, who are waiting to test him.
This suspenseful novella (short novel) can be read on its own or as the first story in the "Hell's Messenger" volume of Life Prison. Friendship, desire between men, and the costs of corruption and integrity are examined in this multicultural speculative fiction series, which is inspired by prison life at the end of the nineteenth century.
Tags: bisexual and gay characters, multicultural, prisoners, guards, wardens, spies.
He lay on the cold concrete in the darkness, cursing in an indiscriminate manner that embraced every guard he had possessed the misfortune to be serviced by. The chill of the ground, combined with his wetness, had set him shivering, and he could taste blood in his mouth where his teeth had caught his cheek as he fell. In an automatic manner, he checked his teeth. They were all there, except for the four he had lost over the years, courtesy of past guards.
He allowed Bailey to pull him onto his feet, and as he did so, he realized that laughter echoed in the dark room. The laughter did not come from either of his guards.
He raised his head. He was in a large, high-ceilinged room. That much he could tell from the echoes and from the fact that he could not see the ceiling. Most of the room was lightless. But in the left-hand corner ahead of him, on a balcony about where he would expect a ceiling to be, sat two men lit by wall-lamps. Both wore dark blue uniforms, and both had their boots resting in a leisurely manner on the low, barred railing of the balcony. Both had rifles in their laps, and both rifles were pointed straight at Tyrrell.
Tyrrell felt his empty stomach lurch. One of the men who had been laughing called across the room, "Mercy's man! What gift do you bring us today?"
"Compassion's man!" Oslo called back in a casual manner that suggested he was acquainted with the other guard. "I have a prisoner transfer for you. Fresh meat for the banquet."
The rifle-bearing guards seemed to appreciate this small witticism more than Tyrrell thought it merited; they hooted with laughter. "Tenderizing the meat, are you?" asked the second guard, who held a cigarette between his lips.
"Oh, believe me," said Oslo, grinning, "I've poked the meat quite thoroughly to make sure it's well done."
Tyrrell rolled his eyes. Even Bailey winced at Oslo's poor wit.
The first guard lifted his rifle and set it aside. "Ah, what a pity we will not be able to feast at length on him at our banquet. But we are somewhat gentler on our prisoners than you are at Mercy Prison. How many fuckings a year do you service each of your prisoners with? One hundred? Two hundred?"
"We're working on raising the number." Oslo's voice held nothing but amusement.
"Whereas we are unlikely to see your prisoner more than once or twice this year . . . if that much." The first guard pulled his boots off the railing and leaned over the railing, remaining in his chair as he scrutinized the scene before him. The wavering light of the gas-lamps on the balcony wall moved shadows across his face, which was thoughtful. "Hard to say from this distance," concluded the guard finally. "Why the transfer?"
"Your Keeper knows. You can probably guess. His name's Tyrrell."
The second guard, who had removed his cigarette from his lips in order to tap it over a spittoon nearby, went suddenly still. The first guard raised an appreciative eyebrow. "Oh-ho!" he said softly. "So that's the way of it. I was wondering how long it would be before Mercy's Keeper lost patience with those riot-rousers he's been housing. What happened to the others?"
Oslo shrugged. "We'll know when we get back. The first decision our Keeper made was to arrange this transfer. Your Keeper seemed willing to take him in."
The first guard shrugged as he leaned back in his chair. "Our Keeper," he said, "has all sorts of grandiose plans for this prison, though whether any of them will come to fruit is another matter. I suppose that servicing riot-rousers is part of his plan. Will you break your fast with us? Starke likes to arrive early for his gunner duty . . ." He gestured toward the second guard. "But I prefer to extend my dawn break as long as possible. You're welcome to join me in the guards' dining hall. The night watch will be coming off-duty soon, and I can introduce you."
"Yes," muttered Bailey through gritted teeth. "Warmth. Yes."
Oslo ignored him. "Good food wouldn't go amiss," he said, smiling. "And I hear that Compassion Life Prison is famed for that."
More hoots of appreciative laughter erupted from the first guard, though the second was busy drawing a long lungful of smoke from his cigarette and scrutinizing Tyrrell with an expression he could not read.
"We promise to feed you only the best," replied the first guard, getting to his feet and reaching toward a hand-sized lever set within a small, red hatch on the wall. "Come to the dining hall when you've delivered your charge. You remember the way, I'm sure."
"I hope I do," said Oslo, beginning to tug Tyrrell forward into the darkness, "but everything may be changed here, from what I hear. Your Keeper seems to want to turn things upside down."
"We'll see," said the second guard as his eyes followed Tyrrell's progress. His voice was barely audible, and his expression was hidden behind a puff of smoke. "We'll see. . . ."
¶ Available as a multiformat e-book (epub, html, mobi/Kindle, pdf, doc): Trial.
Click on the covers for more information. The online editions are free; the newly-reissued multiformat e-book editions are as priced.
(Life Prison). One of them rapes prisoners. The other wants to help
prisoners. So why are they talking to each other? (Includes major spoilers
for the novella Life Prison.)
RECENT CATEGORY BESTSELLERS
Click on the covers for more information. "The Breaking," "Love and Betrayal," and "Re-creation" are also newly reissued in multiformat.
REISSUED IN MULTIFORMAT
Click on the cover for more information.
"This series takes very complicated ideas and executes them masterfully. . . . I've never seen anyone handle the subject matter better." —Megan Derr's Top Ten MM Fantasy and MM Sci-Fi book lists (Scorching Book Reviews) on The Eternal Dungeon.
"A powerful tale of two men who accommodate the needs of each other
and learn to find happiness in a hopeless situation." —Amazon
(Lee Phillips) on Pleasure
(Slaves of the Northern Corporate Dominion).
My new series in the Turn-of-the-Century Toughs cycle is Darkfics, which is simply a collection point for all the side stories in the five Toughs series: The Eternal Dungeon, Life Prison, Michael's House, Commando, and Waterman. Many of the stories are free. The stories are listed in chronological order of the date when they were set, with a timeline interspersed, so even readers who have already read all of the side stories may find this page of interest.
If you look carefully at that page, you'll notice that I've also listed
stories and art which are created by other authors and artists but are
set in the Toughs universe. This is one of my periodic encouragements to
folks to please feel free to borrow my characters.
My characters like to get out of my yard now and then.
I've updated at Subtext the list
of writings by other authors that inspired my own work. Every time I think
that list is finished, I reread another book and discover where my Muse
got a story idea from. This time I reread the final chapters of Mary Stewart's
heterosexual romantic suspense novel Nine Coaches Waiting ("I saw
the look that came down over his face, bleak bitter pride shutting down
over anger, and I knew that I had turned my world back to cinders, sunk
my lovely ship with my own stupid, wicked hands . . ."), only to realize
that I was rereading the final chapter of Unmarked.
My tags page is one of the most-visited
pages at my website, so I've added more tags in hopes of making it easier
for visitors to find the particular stories they're looking for. Asexual
characters! Senior-aged characters! Afterlife! Rebels! BDSM! Age of Sail!
Romantic friendship fiction! They're all here, along with many more tags.
The Eternal Dungeon. In a cool, dark cavern, guarded by men and by oaths, lies a dungeon in which prisoners fearfully await the inevitable. The inevitable will be replaced by the unexpected. ¶ The Eternal Dungeon is a speculative fiction series set in a nineteenth-century prison where the psychologists wield whips.
Life Prison. They are imprisoned until death, and their lives cannot get worse . . . or so they think. But when an unlikely alliance forms against their captors, the reformers risk losing what little comforts they possess. ¶ Life Prison is a speculative fiction series about male desire and determination in nineteenth-century prisons.
Commando. The nautical nation is backed by the military might of an empire. The mountainous republic is populated by farmers and shopkeepers, and it has no standing army. The nautical nation is about to make the mistake of attacking the mountainous republic. ¶ Commando is a speculative fiction series that imagines what the South African Boer War could have been like if it had been fought on American soil.
Michael's House. In a world where temples are dying and sacred theaters have been replaced by brothels, what will happen when a hard-headed businessman joins forces with an idealist? ¶ Michael's House is a speculative fiction series set in a Progressive Era slum.
Waterman. How can a youth from a bay island boarding school survive when he is sent to a futuristic prison? ¶ Waterman is a speculative fiction series inspired by the Chesapeake Bay oyster wars, boarding school rivalries in the 1910s, and 1960s visions of things to come.
Darkfics. Only in the dark can one truly see the light. ¶ Darkfics collects side stories from Turn-of-the-Century Toughs.
Turn-of-the-Century Toughs series
The Three Lands. He vowed himself to his god. Now the god is growing impatient . . .
The Three Lands series
Princeling. In a world in which only the pitiless nobles who wage war hold power, and those who cannot fight must suffer or seek slow death . . . What would you do if you were a noble, and you lost the ability to fight? ¶ Princeling is a fantasy series set in a world where war has lasted for generations.
Darkling Plain. Separated in time and place, these young women and young men are united in their goal: to protect those they care for from the destruction of battle. The odds are against them. ¶ Darkling Plain is a collection of fantasy tales about young people in times of conflict.
Master/Other. Masters come in many forms. Some don't even know they're masters. ¶ Romantic and poignant, Master/Other offers speculative fiction stories exploring the dangers and sweet bonds of power.
Slaves of the Northern Corporate
Dominion. When humans are seen only in terms of profit and loss,
what happens to humanity? ¶ Slaves of the Northern Corporate Dominion
is a shared-universe science fiction series on exploitation and love, set
in a time when a nation's corporate government has institutionalized slavery.
Main Street Leather. Leather
is a world of rich pleasure palaces and endless sensual delights, where
dreams can be pursued without limit, provided that a man has the strength
to stand the test. . . . But in the rural town of Mayhill, population 32,000,
leather life is a little different. ¶ Main Street Leather is
a cycle of contemporary series with love stories and satire on transgressive
sexuality in past decades and the present.
Pixel-Stained: a documentary memoir of the electronic publishing revolution in gay genre fiction. The Pixel-Stained series publishes Peterson's memoirs in the form of e-mail, posts, and other documents. These accounts depict life at several electronic literature communities connected with gay genre fiction, as witnessed from the inside of those communities.
Narrative Nonfiction. Narratives and other nonfiction about religion, literature, gender, sexuality, and other topics.
Online nonfiction. Just click on
the link. It's a long list.
Subtext. My fan fiction (rare litfic), as well as a list of the novels that inspired my original works.
Shared Universes. More fan works! Stories and art set in my worlds by other authors and artists.
Buried Treasure. My recommendations of online male homoerotic stories and male friendship stories (and anything else that catches my interest).
Beta readers for my stories. My
editors, editorial assistants, proofreaders, and technical consultants,
with links to their websites.
List of published writings, positions, and honors: Divided by date.
List of published writings, positions, and honors: Divided by subject.
Word counts and progress report. Includes a list of the stories I'm currently working on.
Updates e-mail list, blog, and social networking
Cover designs: Dusk Peterson. Permission is granted for the reposting
and reprinting of the banners, covers, and story summaries (blurbs) for
the purposes of providing information on Dusk Peterson's writings. Please
link to duskpeterson.com if possible.
Constructive criticism, enquiries, and idle chit-chat may be sent to
Peterson, if you wish to be formal) at
duskpeterson(at)fastmail.fm. When I'm writing, my e-mail inbox is monitored
by my assistant; please mark any urgent e-mail with the subject heading