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Dave Freer

Dave FreerDave Freer is an Ichthyologist turned author because he’d heard that the spelling requirements were simpler. They lied about that. He lives in a remote part of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, with his wife and chief proof-reader, Barbara, four dogs and four cats, two sons (Paddy and James) and just at the moment no shrews, birds, bats or any other rescued wildlife. Besides working as a Fisheries Scientist for the Western Cape shark fishery, running a couple of fish farms, he has worked as a commercial diver and as a relief chef at several luxury game lodges. Learn more at Dave Freer’s blog.

Cuttlefish

Cuttlefish — (2012) Publisher: The smallest thing can change the path of history. The year is 1976, and the British Empire still spans the globe. Coal drives the world, and the smog of it hangs thick over the canals of London. Clara Calland is on the run. Hunted, along with her scientist mother, by Menshevik spies and Imperial soldiers, they flee Ireland for London. They must escape airships, treachery, and capture. Under flooded London’s canals, they join the rebels who live in the dank tunnels there. Tim Barnabas is one of the underpeople, born to the secret town of drowned London, place of anti-imperialist republicans and Irish rebels, part of the Liberty — the people who would see a return to older values and free elections. Seeing no farther than his next meal, Tim has hired on as a submariner on the Cuttlefish, a coal-fired submarine that runs smuggled cargoes beneath the steamship patrols, to the fortress America and beyond. When the Imperial soldiery comes ravening, Clara and her mother are forced to flee aboard the Cuttlefish. Hunted like beasts, the submarine and her crew must undertake a desperate voyage across the world, from the Faeroes to the Caribbean and finally across the Pacific to find safety. But only Clara and Tim Barnabas can steer them past treachery and disaster, to freedom in Westralia. Carried with them — a lost scientific secret that threatens the very heart of Imperial power.

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The Steam Mole: A rollicking good time

Readers’ average rating:

The Steam Mole by Dave Freer

Dave Freer’s YA novel The Steam Mole is a rollicking good time. This book picks up almost immediately after Cuttlefish. Tim Barnabas and Clara Calland are now in Westralia, a free nation on the Australian continent. Clara and her scientist mother Mary have sought asylum from the dreaded coal-driven British Empire, alive and well in 1953 in this world, but Tim and the rest of the submarine’s crew are stranded while the Cuttlefish is being repaired.

Freer sets up the action quickly. On the threshold of safety, Mary Calland suddenly falls into a mysterious coma. Clara tries to reach Tim for help, but he has signed aboard a steam mole, a subterranean drill used in Westralia’s rich ore mines. He is deep in the desert. Back in London, the evil Duke Malcolm has arranged for Clara’s... Read More

Cuttlefish: Interesting world-building carries this submarine adventure

Readers’ average rating:

Cuttlefish by Dave Freer

It’s 1953 in a world where the British Empire never collapsed, the first World War lasted one year, and the second never happened. England commands a global, coal-fueled empire and has hastened rapid global warming. London, like Venice, is a city of canals. Irish rebels and “London undergrounders” wage a guerilla revolution against the crown. This is the world of Dave Freer’s YA submarine adventure Cuttlefish.

Tim Barnabas is a young crewman on the coal-powered submarine Cuttlefish. Clara Calland is the daughter of an imprisoned Irish rebel and a prominent chemist. Mary, her mother, has discovered a chemical process that will shift the balance of power in the world. She and Clara are smuggled aboard the Cuttlefish, headed for America, and the chase is on.

The villain is Malcolm, Duke of Leinstar, t... Read More

More by Dave Freer

Rats, Bats and Vats  — (2000-2011) With Eric Flint. Publisher: Chip Connolly was a conscripted grunt in trouble: stuck behind enemy lines with a bunch of cyber-uplifted rats and bats. Rats with human speech, but with rat priorities: sex, food and strong drink. And the bats were revolutionaries planning to throw off the human yoke — with high explosive. Then there was the girl they’d rescued. Rich. Beautiful. With a passionate crush on her “heroic” rescuer. Her entourage was a screwball Alien tutor, and a cyber-uplifted lemurlike pet galago with delusions of being the world’s greatest lover. Of course things only got worse. Seven rats, five bats, a galago, two humans, a sea-urchin-like alien and an elderly vineyard tractor without brakes… against several million inimical aliens. He was going to die. Mind you, not dying could be even more terrible. That girl might get him.

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Pyramid Scheme — (2001,2007) With Eric Flint. Publisher: An alien pyramid has appeared in the middle of Chicago, growing so large even the military can’t stop it, or the way it transports citizens into the world of mythology.

Dave Freer and Eric Flint Pyramid Scheme, Pyramid PowerDave Freer and Eric Flint Pyramid Scheme, Pyramid Power


Dragon’s Ring — (2009-2012) Publisher: Tasmarin is a place of dragons, a plane cut off from all other worlds, where dragons can be dragons and humans can be dinner. It’s a place of islands, forests, mountains and wild oceans, filled with magical denizens. Fionn — the blackdragon — calmly tells anyone who will listen that he’s going to destroy the place. Of course he’s a joker, a troublemaker and a dragon of no fixed abode. No one ever believes him. He’s dead serious. Other strive to refresh the magics that built this place. To do so they need the combined magics of all the intelligent species, to renew the ancient balance and compact. There is just one problem. They need a human mage, and dragons systematically eliminated those centuries ago. Their augury has revealed that there is one, and they seek her desperately. Unfortunately, she’s fallen in with Fionn, who really doesn’t want them to succeed. He has his own reasons and dark designs. The part he hadn’t worked out is that she will affect his plans too. Chaos, roguery, heroism, theft, love, kidnapping, magic and war follow. And more chaos.

fantasy book reviews Dave Freer 1. Dragon's Ring 2. Dog and Dragonfantasy book reviews Dave Freer 1. Dragon's Ring 2. Dog and Dragon


Bolg, PI  — (2012) Publisher: A humorous, satirical noir detective urban fantasy, set in a small city in flyover country, which has an unusually high population of Trolls, werewolves, fairies and a dwarf. Private Investigator Bolg, a Pictish gentleman who happens to be vertically challenging, a self-proclaimed dwarf and tattooed so heavily he appears blue, finds this restricts him to oddball clients. In this his first case, a wealthy fruitcake who want to dance with the fairies. Most PI’s would do their best to avoid this because they know there are no fairies. Bolg would like to avoid it because he knows the fairies to well, and they’re mean. Aided by a gargoyle informer and an ancient Celtic wizard, he sets about trying to oblige his client, and keep both of them alive. It’s no sinecure.

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Stand-alones:

fantasy book reviews Dave Freer The ForlornThe Forlorn — (1999) Publisher: While the xenophobic alien Morkth race searches the galaxy to destroy the last of human “vermin”, the lightly armed members of the only human colony must figure out how to defend themselves from the coming attack.


fantasy book reviews Dave Freer The ForlornA Slow Train to Arcturus — (2008) With Eric Flint. Publisher: The planet Miran had sent a spaceship to rendezvous with the enormous vessel that was approaching their star system. The vessel’s design was odd — a multitude of separate globular habitats in a framework — and most of the alien team that entered one of the habitats were slaughtered by savage creatures called “humans.” One alien had barely managed to escape to another habitat where the humans were more friendly, if rather technologically backward. But he needed to get back to his spaceship, and he would need one human’s help to do that. They would have to travel through several more habitats, each one isolated from the other, each with its own bizarre dangers and customs. And friendliness toward strangers was not one of those customs…


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By Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint, Dave Freer

Heirs of Alexandria — (2002-2013) Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint, Dave Freer. Publisher: it is the year 1537. The great winged Lion stares over a Venice where magic thrives. The rich Venetian Republic is a bastion of independence and tolerance. Perhaps for that reason, it is also corrupt, and rotten with intrigue. But for the young brothers Marco and Benito Valdosta, vagabond and thief, Venice is simply-home. They have no idea that they stand at the center of the city’s coming struggle for its very life. They know nothing of the powerful forces moving in the background. They have barely heard of Chernobog, demonlord of the North, who is shifting his pawns to attack Venice in order to cut into the underbelly of the Holy Roman Empire. All Marco and Benito know is that they’re hungry and in dangerous company: Katerina the smuggler, Caesare the sell-sword, Montagnard assassins, church inquisitors, militant Knights of the Holy Trinity, Dottore Marina the Strega mage… and Maria. Maria might be an honest canaler, but she had the hottest temper a boy could find. Yet among the dark waters of the canals lurk far worse dangers than a hot-tempered girl. Chernobog has set a monster loose to wreak havoc on the city. Magic, murder and evil are all at work to pull Venice down. Fanatical monks seek to root out true witchcraft with fire and sword. Steel-clad Teutonic knights, wealth traders, church dignitaries and great Princes fight and plot for control of the jewel of the Mediterranean. And somehow all of these, from thieves to mages to princes, must gather around Marco and his brother Benito, under the shadow of the great winged lion of Venice.

Mercedes Lackey Eric Flint Dave Freer Heirs of Alexandria 1. The Shadow of the Lion 2. This Rough MagicMercedes Lackey Eric Flint Dave Freer Heirs of Alexandria 1. The Shadow of the Lion 2. This Rough Magic 3. A Mankind WitchMercedes Lackey Eric Flint Dave Freer Heirs of Alexandria 1. The Shadow of the Lion 2. This Rough Magic 3. A Mankind Witch 4. Much Fall of Blood 5. Great Doom's ShadowMercedes Lackey Eric Flint Dave Freer Heirs of Alexandria 1. The Shadow of the Lion 2. This Rough Magic 3. A Mankind Witch 4. Much Fall of Blood 5. Great Doom's Shadowfantasy and science fiction book reviews


The Witches of Karres — (2004-2010) These are sequels to James H. Schmitz’s The Witches of Karres written by Mercedes LackeyDave Freer and Eric Flint. Publisher: It just wasn’t fair! Captain Pausert had foiled the deadliest of space pirates and eliminated the threat of the Worm World, yet his troubles kept piling up. Sent on a secret mission to stop the nanite plague, a self-aware disease that could devastate whole worlds, he quickly found that someone had convinced the Imperial Fleet that he was actually a wanted criminal, which led to a battle leaving his ship in urgent need of repairs. And while Goth and the Leewit, two of the notorious witches of Karres, could do amazing things, ship repair was not in their line. So he stopped at the next planet for repairs, but found that somehow his bank account had been cut off, and the authorities were looking for someone matching his description. There was only one thing to do-join the circus! An interstellar traveling circus, that is. All the galaxy loves a clown — as long as Pausert, Goth and the Leewit can keep their disguises from slipping. The show must go on — or the galaxy is doomed!

1. The Wizard of Karres 2. The Sorceress of Karres 1. The Wizard of Karres 2. The Sorceress of Karres