Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

Announcing: The Cunning Blood on Kindle

I am most pleased to announce that the Kindle ebook edition of The Cunning Blood is now available on the Kindle store, for $2.99. It’s also available through Kindle Unlimited as part of KU’s monthly subscription service. No DRM, not now, not ever.

Cover by Richard Bartrop.

My regular readers know that this is not a new book. In fact, it’s now sixteen years old, having been written between November 1997 and April 1999. I shopped it between 1999 and 2005, and eventually sold it to ISFiC Press, which released the first edition hardcover at Windycon in Chicago in October 2005. The hardcover (which is still available) reviewed well, getting a thumbs-up on Instapundit and a rave in Analog the following spring. I still have some reservations about the cover, but in general, given that it was a $28 first-edition hardcover, I consider it an almost-complete success. ISFiC was particularly good at promotion, and got me reviews in places I didn’t know existed.

I fretted and waffled over republishing it for a long time before putting my back into creating the ebook edition. Why? Not sure. As best I can tell, after so many years of trying and failing to make a name in SF, something in me just couldn’t quite believe that it was possible to self-publish an SF ebook and get any kind of hearing for it. Granted, I have some promo work to do, and am researching mechanisms like BookBub and KDP Coundown Deals. But the hardest part was just getting off the dime and doing it. Some credit for that goes to Eric Bowersox and especially Sarah Hoyt, who got a little tough with me last Saturday and motivated me to get the final 10% finished and put the damned thing on the market.

The Cunning Blood is hard SF with a vengeance, perhaps the hardest SF I have ever written. The premise (and primary world-building concept) is this: In 2142, Earth’s risk-averse world government (controlled by the Canadians) creates an escape-proof prison planet by releasing a self-replicating bacterium-sized nanomachine into the ecosphere of Zeta Tucanae 2. The nanobug seeks out and corrodes electrical conductors carrying current beyond a few tens of microamps. Nothing depending on electricity works for long on the prison planet, technically the Offworld Violent Offenders Detention Station (OVODS) but informally referred to (especially by its inmates) as Hell.

Because the nanobugs make surface-to-orbit travel impossible, Earth handed control of the planet to its inmates, and drops convicts on Hell in disposable lifting-body landers. Earth assumes that Hell will always remain a gaslight-and-steam neo-Victorian sort of society, forgetting that the Victorians were ignorant, whereas the Hellions are handicapped. They know what’s possible, and over the next 200 years create a high-tech civilization complete with mechanical/fluidic computation and (as the story opens) spaceflight.

Earth gets a few hints about what’s going on down on Hell in 2374, and frames an ace pilot for murder, then offers him his freedom if he will travel to Hell, gather intelligence about Hellion technology, and return alive via an unspecified mechanism. Pete Novilio accedes, and not only for his freedom. Peter is a member of a secret society developing a distributed and highly illegal nanotech AI that lives in human bloodstreams. The Sangruse Society (from “sang ruse,” French for “cunning blood”) would like to establish a chapter on Hell. The Sangruse Device, after all, is not electrical in nature and could thrive there, beyond Earth’s heavy hand. So Peter descends into Hell with Geyl Shreve, a grim but talented agent of Earth’s CIA-like Special Implementers Service. What they discover astonishes them–and ignites a three-way war between Earth, a faction of American rebels intending to overthrow Canadian rule, and the Hellions themselves.

If you like action, SF ideas, and a sort of optimistic exuberance you don’t see much of in fiction these days, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Give it a shot.


  1. Rick Widmer says:

    Sixteen years? Damn how time files!

    So when will you finish the sequel?

    1. Since I have a policy of always starting what I finish, I had better start it first.

      A sequel is planned. It’s called The Molten Flesh, and it’s about the nanomachine that even the Sangruse Device fears: Protea. How much Hell figures into it I’m not sure yet. But after the reception TCB is getting, I figure I’d better get on it.

  2. Rich Dailey says:

    Hear, hear! Reading reading!

    1. Rich Dailey says:

      Interesting: I began reading using Amazon’s cloud reader on my desktop computer, and notice duplicated lines of text, and one spot where text is missing. On my phone and tablet apps everything is rendering correctly.

      1. I’ve not seen that, but will look into it. Thanks for the report. They also messed up the links on the product page earlier today. The Kindle readers and Kindle apps all find the novel without difficulty, but the conventional Amazon product page is messed up.

        1. Rich Dailey says:

          I changed the font size and background color in the cloud reader settings, and the problems disappeared.

  3. One-click away… downloading to my Kindle now. 🙂

  4. jim f says:

    got my copy…

  5. Erbo says:

    And, as soon as you sent me the link, I went and bought my copy. And forwarded the link to Sabrina so she can get one. And to Lexxi, who says she’ll get it when she gets paid next. And I shared your post on Facebook, which resulted in an old friend from college picking up a copy.

    “You tell two friends, and they tell two friends, and so on, and so on, and so on…” (to quote an old TV commercial)

    Now I’m going to have to figure out how to pitch the book to my coworkers. And to Quora. And to possible other places…

      1. Whoa. I’m blushing. But that doesn’t stop me from being grateful.

        Oh, and I had some craziness creep in the back door of my devious head yesterday: Sophia Gorganis walks into Oscar Wilde’s drawing room in Metaspace and sits down across the table from him. He pours her some tea, and she starts in on seducing him. She needs a body to download into, and getting a body requires the cooperation the of Protea Society. Wilde becomes infatuated with her–he was good at that, and liked both men and women–and before you know it, Sophia’s back.

        Getting scenes for the story is a good sign.

  6. Gary says:

    Whoops. Looks like the book has been pulled. When I follow the link, I only get offered the $28 hardcover version.

    I’ll try again later today.

    1. Gary says:

      Ignore parts of my previous comment. The Kindle version is available, but it’s not listed in the ‘available formats’ section.

      So following the direct link works, and searching the Kindle Store for it works, but a general search of Amazon won’t find the Kindle version, and the hardback is not linked to the Kindle version.


      1. Yes. I saw that. WTF? I have no idea what’s going on with this, but thanks for being persistent. Something in me was telling me it had all been too easy so far…

  7. jic says:

    I got hold of a second-hand copy of the hardback a while ago, but I’ve bought it again for the Kindle (because why not? And anyway, you didn’t get paid when I bought the second-hand copy), and I’ve just reviewed it on I like the new cover art.

    1. It’s hard not to like the new cover art. Richard drew a pretty literal representation of Sophia Gorganis’s flagship, the Yellowknife. I really did picture it pretty much like that. The guy is amazing.

      Thanks for buying the book. Again. I priced it at $2.99 to make it an impulse “what the hell” kind of purchase. So far it’s working: I’ve sold 63 books in the first 24 hours, which is about double what I had hoped.

      1. Three hours later, and sales are up to 109. Glenn Reynolds plugged it on Instapundit, and all Hell is breaking loose…

  8. great unknown says:

    A very incidental note. Did your fretting go with “prevaricating” or did you mean “procrastinating”? If the former, perhaps you should go into politics.

    1. Someone else asked me this yesterday, and point taken. I definitely meant “prevaricating,” as I wrote, but I was going with the meaning of the word as I learned it, which is “waffling” or “being undecided.” I’m going to edit the text but I’ll leave this comment in place. It’s really more of a synonym of “dissembling” these days.

  9. Jason Kaczor says:

    Bought it, but of course being also a contrarian, I don’t use a Kindle (*cough*, Kobo Aura H20 is my platform of choice – finally, paper-white, high-resolution, waterproof e-reader), but… thanks to Kindle PC, no DRM and Calibre (which I first learned about from you as well), I managed to make myself an EPUB. Now to fit in some reading before my big move.

    1. The age of DRM is ending, I think–it’s strongly related to the hegemony of Big Media, which is showing some mighty big cracks these days. You’re a classic example of why I simply won’t put DRM on any of my material: It limits my audience, and limiting your audience is a big-company ego thing that I just won’t do.

      Big move? You too? Lot of that going around these days…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *