Historical speculative fiction

History-inspired mythic fantasy. Alternate history. Retrofuture science fiction. Love.

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Dusk Peterson writes historical speculative fiction: history-inspired mythic fantasy, alternate history, and retrofuture science fiction. Family affection, friendship, platonic life-companionships, and romance often occur in the stories. Dusk Peterson's fiction has been honored seven times in the Rainbow Awards, including winning the Fantasy and Alternate Universe/Reality categories. Mx. Peterson is also a writer of young adult fiction and new adult fiction. A resident of Maryland, Mx. Peterson lives with an apprentice and several thousand books.

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In addition to the releases below, free online serializations of my older novels and stories are announced at my blog and e-mail list.

New releases || Reissues and new editions || Upcoming releases.

New releases


Runaway (Waterman short story). Bat is in trouble. Again. The only way out of the trap this time is to take a leap into the future, into a world of wonders that his mind can scarcely grasp. But trouble awaits him at the border to his refuge. How Bat handles that trouble will determine his own future . . . and the future of what he is leaving behind.

Duties of a Second-Ranked Master (Waterman short story). Studying at boarding school is hard enough. Balancing the needs of your liege-master and liegeman is impossible. As Davenham struggles to be both loyal and protective, he finds that he must consult the most despised student at school. But what use is it to seek advice on duties from a boy who seems incapable of mastering his own duties?

Liegeman's Service (Waterman novelette). Bereft of his liegeman, Pembroke is forced to cut short his education in order to serve his liege-master at the Third Landstead University. War upon the waters seems imminent in their bayside landstead. But Master Rudd, who will soon rule over their landstead, is interested in nothing but food, games, and his most recent passion, women. With his own bed now cold, Pembroke must decide how far his loyalty extends to his liege-master. The answer may lie in long-remembered tales from Pembroke's boyhood.


The Awakening (Dungeon Guards novel). Barrett Boyd has awakened from death to a new and baffling life. He knows that he is a guard in the queendom's royal prison, the Eternal Dungeon. But why do the prisoners matters so much to him? Who are these other guards who appear to have claims over him? And how will he survive while he finds his new place in this world? As Barrett seeks to make sense of his surroundings, he must contend with a would-be love-mate, a grumbling rebel, deadly enemies, and the challenge of how to wield his expanded skills.



Hidden Blade (The Three Lands novella). His father is a dull farmer. His mother is a dull farmer's wife. He seems destined for a similarly dull life. But then a stranger appears in their village, and suddenly the talk is of soldiers and spies and secrets and gods. Will he be able to break free of his father's legacy and make a bold dash to a life of his own?


Death Mask (The Three Lands novel). For eighteen years, he has survived in an army unit where few soldiers live more than two or three years. Now he finds himself in circumstances where his life is a living hell. Will the soldier who defied death find that life is too great a challenge? Soldiers, spies, slaves, rebels, assassins, gods, and men who set out to break him . . . The Lieutenant of the Border Mountain Patrol will learn that his greatest test is himself.


Free-man's Blade (The Three Lands short story). Free-men are the backbone of Emor: the men who run and protect the empire. But when a young servant finds himself unexpectedly vaulted into manhood, he must decide how he will use his power, and who will pay the price of his decision.


Breached Boundaries (The Three Lands novel). The boundaries of rank declare that Serva can be a princess or she can be a slave. But for the bastard daughter of the King of Daxis, life is not that simple. Forced to be a tool in a battle waged by her land's unstable King and his dangerously devious heir, Serva cannot even find refuge among her fellow slaves. Instead, she secretly explores the hidden portions of the palace. In this way, she meets an imprisoned spy who is scheduled for execution.  But when a simmering war bubbles to the surface, Serva must choose where her loyalties lie. She must also solve the mystery of the spy's past, and of her own future.


Hell's Messenger (Life Prison novel). In Mip's most notorious life prison, Death appears in a strange disguise. It had seemed for a while that the plan would work: a bold conspiracy by a group of idealistic prisoners and sympathetic guards to stop abuse at Mercy Prison. Then betrayal occurs, and Tyrrell finds himself in a new life prison, with new rules to be learned. No longer is he in a position of leadership; now he is surrounded by men who question his most fundamental values. He has new allies as well: fellow prisoners who like what they see in him, a healer who refuses to accept current conditions, and guards who may or may not provide the help that the prisoners desperately need. But Hell's messenger, Death, visits Compassion Prison, keeping his face hidden until it is almost too late for Tyrrell to recognize his touch.


Danger (Dark Light collection). Soon after they were born, they were tattooed with the signs of their ranks: master or servant. Now, in the time between past and future, the youths of the Midcoast nations find themselves in predicaments and even high danger. Unable to flee their troubles, they face a thick, unyielding barrier . . . until the power of friendship breaks through.

Honors: Two honors in the Rainbow Awards 2017-2019: Honorable Mention. 3rd Place, Best LGBTA Anthology / Collection.


Darkling Plain: A fantasy omnibus on romance, friendship, and disabilities (Darkling Plain collection). 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. From the introduction: "This series omnibus covers a range of disabilities: cognitive impairment, speech disorders, mobility impairment, anxiety, emotional disturbance, visual impairment, and what I can only term as magic impairment. Yet when I wrote these stories, my thoughts were not on disability but on love: friendship and romance. I wrote about people like myself: people who stood outside the main boundaries of society, people who longed for companionship, people who sought something even higher than companionship. Those are the young people on these pages."

Reissues and new editions


Mercy's Prisoner (Life Prison). A cold-hearted murderer. A vicious abuser. A young man hiding a shameful secret. A bewildered immigrant. A pure-minded spy. All of these men have found their appointed places at Mercy Life Prison, where it is easy to tell who your enemies are. But a new visitor to Mercy is about to challenge decades-old customs. Now these men's worst enemies may be hiding behind masks . . . and so may their closest allies.

Honors: Three honors in the Rainbow Awards 2014: Honorable Mention. Finalist. Runner-up, Gay Fantasy.

Multiformat e-book reissue.

=== Upcoming releases ===

The following stories are currently scheduled for release.

Forge (The Eternal Dungeon novel). The capital city of the Queendom of Yclau has a restless population of oppressed commoners, a queen determined to keep control of the rabble, and a hidden killer stalking the streets. It's an explosive combination. Into this world will come a man nobody expects, least of all himself.

Empty Dagger Hand (The Three Lands novel). Dolan is a quiet young man who spends his days working as a scribe. So why does he have a dagger hidden within his clothing? When Dolan's hidden life turns to disaster, he must make his way through a warring world of many enemies and few allies. Figuring out which men are his allies will take time, and not much time is left. As an empire crumbles and civilization is threatened, Dolan must use all his wits to survive, for only he can bring to safety the greatest treasure in the Three Lands.

The Night Watch (The Three Lands novella). They are the elite unit of the Northern Army, and their power is growing. But what they need is more than power: they need wisdom. Xylon is the conscience of the Home Division Patrol. Everyone says so. But when his conscience fails him, Xylon must find the courage to help his fellow patrol guards through the greatest danger that the Great Peninsula has ever faced.

In the Spirit (The Three Lands novelette). Prince Richard has a high office in the army, a ruler who trusts him, and a loyal subordinate. He also has a murderer who is likely to kill him one of these days. Amidst the many uncertainties of his life, can Richard count on love, or will that become yet another treachery?

The Fire Before (The Three Lands novella). The god's fire is fierce, but not as fierce as the god's wrath if you turn away. Tristan is the King's heir, destined to rule the Kingdom of Koretia. His nephew Robin has taken Tristan's place as baron of their town. Now both men are about to face the worst crisis their land has ever known. And neither of them understands what the true crisis is. As Tristan struggles to find the courage to follow his god's command, and Robin tries to find a middle ground between piety and disloyalty to his uncle, the two noblemen will be forced to confront the consequences of war . . . and the consequences of their own inaction.

Search for the Jackal (The Thousand Nations novel). When a young man named Dolan flees from the north, he finds danger on all sides. The Northern Army wants him back. The Empire of Emor wants him dead. His native homeland of Koretia may not want him at all. And his only protection is a man with motives that are mysterious and possibly deadly. To remain alive, Dolan must forge alliances, cement friendships, break and heal a killer, and seek a lost god. Most of all, he must decide what his goal is and how high a price he is willing to pay to achieve that goal.

Stream of Dying (The Thousand Nations short story).

Large Talk (The Thousand Nations short story).

Blog announcements of my latest fiction

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Chronicles of the Great Peninsula

Koretia, Emor, and Daxis were all founded on the same day, but as the centuries have passed, the Three Lands of the Great Peninsula have become increasingly divided by religion, government, and culture. Koretians worship many gods, Daxions worship one goddess, and Emorians revere only their law. Emorians claim that Koretians are vicious and superstitious, Koretians think that Daxions are vile oath-breakers, and Daxions charge that Emorians abuse their children and slaves.

If a god were to appear in the Three Lands, would his appearance bring an end to the fighting between nations? Or would he merely help to spark an inferno of war?

Chronicles of the Great Peninsula is a cycle of fantasy series about an epic battle between cultures, set at a time when a centuries-old civilization is in danger of being destroyed.

The Three Lands. He vowed himself to his god. Now the god is growing impatient . . . The Three Lands is a fantasy series on friendship, romantic friendship, romance, and betrayal in times of war and peace. The series is inspired by conflicts between nations during the final years of the Roman Empire.

The Thousand Nations. In a shattered world of warriors and barbarisms, only the deepest ties of friendship and romance can protect them. That, and a god they may not be able to trust. The Thousand Nations is a fantasy series about what happens after the fall of a civilization. The series is inspired by conflicts between nations during the Dark Ages.

Chronicles of the Great Peninsula series resources.

Turn-of-the-Century Toughs

Tough (noun): a tough and violent person; a street ruffian; a trouble-maker.

Turn-of-the-Century Toughs is a cycle of diverse alternate history series about adults and youths on the margins of society, and the people who love them. Set in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as in a future that never existed, the novels and stories take place in an alternative version of America that was settled by inhabitants of the Old World in ancient times. As a result, the New World retains certain classical and medieval customs.

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 an award-winning alternate history series on romance, friendship, and family, set in a nineteenth-century prison where the psychologists wield whips.

Dungeon Guards. In the Eternal Dungeon, there are only two types of guards: skilled guards or dead guards. But one guard has been both. Dungeon Guards is an alternate history series about nineteenth-century prison workers who seek love and companionship as they fight together against danger.

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 an alternate history series on friendship, romance, and rebellion in nineteenth-century prisons.

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 an alternate history series on love 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 an award-winning speculative fiction series of love in an alternative version of the Chesapeake Bay region during the 1910s and during the future as it was envisioned in the 1960s.

Dark Light. Only in the dark can one truly see the light. Dark Light is an award-winning alternate history series presenting book bundles of interlinked stories from Turn-of-the-Century Toughs.

Turn-of-the-Century Toughs series resources.

Other writings

Archived series. Series that I'm no longer updating regularly, though I may add to them from time to time.

My online nonfiction. I've written a lot of nonfiction. My nonfiction sites are no longer updated; some of the information presented is out of date.


Story tags.

Chronicles of the Great Peninsula timeline, with stories linked in chronological order.

Turn-of-the-Century Toughs timeline, with stories linked in chronological order.

List of published fiction in reverse order of the date of composition. Includes publication histories for each of the stories.

List of published fiction by date of publication. Also serves as a timeline for my literary life.


Biography | Awards | Interviews | FAQ.

My social networks and updates e-mail list. Stop by to see which stories I've just released, or to give me your feedback.

Shared universes. Fan works! Commissioned art! Stories and art set in my worlds by other authors and artists. I welcome fan works of my writing.

Word counts. For those interested in my creative process.

All writings by Dusk Peterson are copyright 1981-2020 Dusk Peterson. For more information, see my copyright policies.

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.


If you send me pretty compliments, I will print your letter out and frame it above my computer. (This isn't much of an exaggeration.) If, on the other hand, you send me a letter that begins, "What kind of nitwitted writer are you? You gave your character blue eyes in scene one and green eyes in scene two!" then I will raise up a shrine in your honor and burn candles upon your altar.

Constructive criticism, enquiries, and idle chit-chat may be sent to Mx. Dusk Peterson at  duskpeterson(at)fastmail.fm. Or stop by my social networks.