"A fantastic milieu . . . a true character story . . . one incredible climax."
Midwest Book Review
"Characters aplenty--both protagonists and colorful supporting types--vividly-drawn, realistic individuals whose dialogue is authentic."
Internet Review of Science Fiction
"Everything you look for in a great science fiction read . . . By the time the book ended, I only wished it were longer."
The Future Fire
"Believably tormented characters, unique world-building, realistic dialogue, adventure, exploration, alien lifeforms . . ."
"Exploring emotional conflicts and human foibles ranging from revenge and redemption to love and obsession . . . foreshadowing is subtle, building dramatically."
Other Books by Bruce Golden
"If Mickey Spillane had collaborated with both Frederik Pohl and Philip K. Dick, he might have produced
Better Than Chocolate."
Asimov's Science Fiction"
"Bruce Golden's gonzo police procedural of the future mixes aliens, sex, and murder into a hard-punching satirical adventure that inserts its stilettos of critical wit so stealthily that you'll die laughing."
Paul Di Filippo
“Its vibrant characters are both larger-than-life and true to it . . . a delicate balance of parody
and punchy realism.”
"The understated satirical tone of the book makes it anything but a cliché . . . a lively, fun read—it keeps you turning pages and wanting more."
PaperCuts Library Journal
"Though character-driven, this book has atmosphere and action to burn, while delivering sometimes-profound social commentary on issues like freedom, sexual repression, privacy, morality, and religion, all with biting satire and comic undertones . . . Golden’s talent for creating original characters is matched by his uncanny gift for clever but realistic dialogue, which crackles and pops off each page. Jam-packed with double entendres, tweaked expressions, and futuristic jargon, this book is damned fun . . . a fast-moving, entertaining read you won’t be able to put down . . . Better Than Chocolate is pure sci-fi satisfaction, living up to its title in delicious spades."
The science fiction novel about love, lust, and what it means
to be human.
Zach was just looking for a novel
Mary was searching for her
place in the world.
They found each other.
In a future world, where the creation of artificial humans has led to a caste of "non-people," the fight for civil rights takes on new meaning. A loner who's an
expert on lust but a novice when it comes to love, falls for a naive but beautiful androne. He teaches her what it means to be human, but can't give her what she really wants--her freedom.
"Steeped in the ambience of classic 1950's Galaxy magazine ... social satire, irreverent anti-establishmentarianism, and pseudo-hardboiled narration ... Golden writes with zest and good pacing ... a certain flippancy of characterization
and delivery ..."
Asimov's Science Fiction
“ A sexy, sometimes satirical take on a unique and forbidden relationship ... a wry look at the human condition in the tradition of Heinlein and Asimov ... science fiction with heart, and a book destined to leave a lasting impression.”
Speculative Fiction Reader
Buy SIGNED Copies of
Better Than Chocolate
Dancing with the Velvet Lizard
Mortals All or
Red Sky, Blue Moon
Directly from the Author.
Therefore I Am
A Science Fiction Anthology
Sci-Fi Magazine 2009 Almanac
Romanian almanac of essential science fiction featuring the stories of Robert Heinlein, Bruce Golden, Robert Silverberg, Poul Anderson, Gregory Benford, Theodore Sturgeon & more
North of Infinity II
An Anthology of Short Fiction
Featuring the Works of Robert J. Sawyer, Bruce Golden, & others
War of the Worlds
An Anthology of Short Fiction
Paying Homage to the H.G. Wells Classic
A Collection of Speculative Fiction About Love, Lust, Romance, & Passion
Warrior Wisewoman 3
The Distaff Side of
Love & Sacrifice
A Companion Anthology to the
Book of Shadows
An Anthology of Short Horror Stories
Neverlands and Otherwheres
Stories with an Otherwordly Twist
Top International Horror 2003
Winners of the 2003 International
Horror Story Contest
Science Fiction in the Netherlands
Who is Bruce Golden?
An Interview with Bruce
Ancient aliens seed the primordial oceans of Earth with protoplasmic material found on other worlds, then return millennia later to see what they have wrought. They not only observe the human civilizations they find, they contact some of them, conducting investigative studies. When they leave, they decide to cull large groups of humans and their environs, which they convey across the galaxy and transplant onto another world to continue their study. Ultimately this great speciation experiment will have unexpected
and dire consequences for the experimenters.
Meanwhile, on this new world, a group of Vikings evolve over the centuries into a cutthroat corporate culture of racial purists in an early industrial society. They have designs on the lands of a nearby continent where tribes of Sioux still cling to their old ways. And they may not be the only forced immigrants on this planet.
War ensues, and at the core of the conflict is a native herb which may be the cure for a disease that ravages the corporatocracy, as well as being the secret to longevity.
Save a Tree
Buy an ebook
Red Sky, Blue Moon
Dancing with the Velvet Lizard
Better Than Chocolate
One of the Largest Collections of Speculative Fiction
by award-winning author Bruce Golden.
Journey into other worlds, other dimensions, and other times to meet an alien musician, a hideous sun demon, an apocryphist, a bedeviled baseball player, and an old woman resigned to living out her last days cared for by a machine. See what happens when a Native American shaman sends the government a bill for making it rain, and a 119-year-man drives his classic automobile into the middle of an insurrection, chased by flying cars. Discover a missing planet, lust potions, the color of silence, the wonders of phasing, the horrors of the withering, and the riddle of the whales.
Ancient Secrets . . . an Alien Intelligence
Spurred by the discovery of a 45,000-year-old artifact,
a heretic priest launches an expedition into the
unexplored regions of a frontier world in search of the fabled
City of God.
An exobiologist studies primate-like creatures she believes have
the capability to evolve into the first extraterrestrial sentient species, unaware of their mysterious origin.
A young man seeks his mother's killer amidst a rough and tumble camp of off-world lumberjacks.
A woman is torn between love for her husband
and lust for her stepson.
A guilt-wracked man finds himself recruited by a colonial rebellion
despite his desire to withdraw into narcotic dreams.
If a world could speak . . .
“The creation and exploration of alien worlds is at the core of science fiction, and
Bruce Golden's new novel EVERGREEN shines proudly at the core of that core!
If you can imagine Ursula Le Guin channeling H. Rider Haggard, you'll have the barest conception of this stirring book, which centers around a mysterious artifact
and the people in its thrall.
Reminiscent of the work of Robert Silverberg, this planetary romance
will introduce lucky readers to a world both magical and spooky,
yet ultimately as tangible as your own backyard.”
Paul Di Filippo, Hugo & Nebula Award finalist
Excerpts From EVERGREEN
“Dr. Nikira needs rest. Can’t this wait, Vincent?”
“No, it can’t. You’ll see, Jimi. This is mega. It’s hugando.”
Nikira and Jimiyu made their way into the abbey’s study, and Vincent shut the door behind them.
“Sit down, Doctor,” Jimiyu insisted, gesturing toward a comfortable chair. Nikira didn’t argue. He dropped into the chair as Vincent retrieved a case he’d placed on the table.
“All right, Vincent, what is it that’s provoked you so?”
“This,” he said, opening the case. “This is it.” He pulled out a rather unsightly chunk of wood about the size of a man’s hand, three or four inches thick. One side was fairly flat, but the other appeared to be an uneven tangle of shorn roots, covered with a thin veneer of an amber-colored resin.
Nikira took it from him. “What is it, exactly?”
“It’s an ancient artifact. It was just chance that I heard about it,” said Vincent, the words rushing out of his mouth. “I scanned it last week, then bought it. I got some experts to analyze, ruminize, and speculize--you know, run some tests. Look at it, Doctor. Look at it.”
Indeed, Nikira examined the object intently. Jimiyu saw the spark of interest in his eyes fan to flames the moment he saw what was carved into the flat side of the wood. It looked to Jimiyu like a rendering of tree--one whose limbs were alive with movement. He wasn’t sure why, but it seemed familiar.
“It looks like . . .” Nikira hesitated, staring at the carving, almost as if he didn’t believe what he was about to say, “it looks like the Tree of Life.”
“I knew it!” exclaimed Vincent. “I knew it. I remembered it from your book--the picture in your book.”
“Yes, yes,” Nikira replied, still preoccupied with studying the artifact, “that illustration was part of a pictographic representation discovered among the relics of Sumeria.”
“It’s very interesting,” Jimiyu interposed, “but Dr. Nikira needs to get something to eat now, and then--”
“Where was this found?” asked Nikira, ignoring Jimiyu’s concern.
“That’s the best part,” Vincent gushed, a convulsive smile entrenched on his face. “It was found off-world. It came from another world, Doctor--another world.”
Vincent could hardly contain himself waiting for Nikira’s reaction.
Jimiyu was slow to realize the significance. His attention was directed at his friend.
The gaze which Nikira focused on Vincent Boorman would have been frightful to Jimiyu if he hadn’t noticed the creases in the exhausted man’s face pulling taut, and the fatigue in his eyes evolving into wonder--a metamorphosis in mere seconds.
“And scan this,” Vincent continued unabated, “they measured its isotopes or something. What did they call it? I don’t tally that stuff--mass spectrometry or whatever. They say it’s more than 45,000 years old. Zapper huh?”
Nikira stood, still holding the artifact. Vincent beamed from ear to ear. “I don’t understand,” Jimiyu said. “What does it mean?”
Nikira seemed as if he were still in a state of rapture, so Vincent replied, “Don’t you tally this, Jimi? It could mean that Dr. Nikira’s hypothesis is true.”
“Cidade de Deus,” Nikira mumbled as if to himself. Then, focusing on Vincent, he said, “I must go there, see for myself.”
“Already cycling, Doctor. I knew you’d want to go, to find more evidence, so I’ve got my people setting it up. Even with all the credit I’ve got to spread around, it’ll take some time to secure space on the next outbound ship and arrange everything.”
“You would finance such an expedition?” Nikira asked, making no attempt to conceal the hopefulness in his voice.
“In for an artifact, in for a little anarchy and adventure,” Vincent quipped. “Besides, what better output for the billions my father left me?”
It was all moving too fast for Jimiyu. What were they talking about? Leaving Earth? Mounting an expedition to another world?
Nikira ran his hand across his balding head and stared up at the ornate crucifix mounted on the wall. “God has shamed me,” he said. “Rewarding me even as my faith began to lapse. Though I’m no longer worthy, he beckons me.”
Nikira turned and Jimiyu saw a different man standing there. Different and yet the same—standing taller, more like the astute, confident man he had known so many years ago.
Nikira looked again at the artifact, cupping it in his hands as if it were as fragile as crystal, and not something that had survived millennia. “On what planet was this found?” he asked.
“One of those colonial worlds halfway across the galaxy,” Vincent responded. “They call it Evergreen.”
* * * * *
“I’ve seen you around, Doc,” Ramos said, “but I don’t think I’ve ever seen you in here.” “Please, just call me Amanda. No, you’re right. This is my first time, though I’ve heard about the place.”
“Surprised that didn’t keep you away,” he said with a chuckle.
“Oh, I figured I’d see what it was all about. Even the most monastic recluse needs a little human interaction once in a while.”
“Is that what you are? A monk?” It was the one introduced as “Gash.”
“Actually, I’m an exobiologist. I just live like a monk.” Amanda smiled, but Gash didn’t react. “I’m camped north of Vaughn’s Valley. I’ve been studying a community of ursu--squats you call them.”
“Really?” Ramos seemed surprised. “Just you, by yourself, living with the squats? Sounds dangerous.”
“They’re not dangerous, I assure you.”
“It’s pretty far from civilization though. You like living out there?”
“There are times I prefer the simplicity of nature to the complexities of human society. Civilization’s not always what it pretends to be.”
“Not much civilization around here anyway,” spoke up Cayenne. “Woodville’s about as raw as a town comes.”
“To Woodville,” Ramos said, lifting his mug, “and its lack of civilization.”
Amanda joined them as they touched mugs in a toast.
Ramos wiped his lips with the back of his hand. “Well, I hope some of the shenanigans of our uncivilized men haven’t shocked you, Doc--I mean, Amanda. They can be a pretty raunchy bunch when it comes time to cut loose. You have to understand their situation--how hard they work.”
Amanda waved off his disclaimer. “It doesn’t bother me. Men aren’t all that complicated. Not anymore than your garden-variety houseplant.” She noticed Cayenne laughed at this. “They drink as much as their stems will hold, and then point themselves in whatever direction the sunshine is warmest.” Even Gash smiled.
“So too are the tree spirits like men,” Ford stated in a quasi-mystical tone. “The tree spirits eat and drink. They dance and sing the songs of the forest primeval. Listen. Can you hear them?” Ford cocked his head as if listening. “The tree spirits think, they hunt, they kill. At least I think they do,” he said, his tone changing from earnest to frivolous. “I think they think. At least I used to think so. They sure as hell drink, but do they actually dance? There’s a thought worth thinking about.”
Ramos tapped his finger against his head twice as if to let Amanda know he doubted Ford’s lucidity.
* * * * *
“She’s heard enough of your tall tales, Ford,” Ramos said. “So, uh, Amanda, how long have you been on Evergreen?”
“Only about four months,” Amanda replied. “What about you?”
“I’m one of the old-timers. Not like Ford of course. He was born here. But I’ve been here eight years. I came to work here when they were just starting the logging operation. I was one of the first timber jocks—got sawdust in my blood now. Of course that’s not what I set out to do. I mean I didn’t leave Earth just to become a TJ.”
“Why did you leave Earth?”
Amanda saw Ramos going back in his mind, reminiscing.
“I was young, dumb, full of fanciful ideas about outer space. I dreamed of adventures that would take me to alien cities, and into the arms of seductive green-skinned women. So I quit punching cattle and took the first outbound ship I could find. Of course the joke was on me, because there aren’t any alien cities, and all the women I’ve found are the same color as they are on Earth. Who would have thought that in all the galaxy we wouldn’t find a single intelligent creature?”
“Just because they haven’t found none yet, doesn’t mean there ain’t any intelligent aliens anywhere,” Cayenne said as if she still had hopes of such a discovery. “Look at what they found on Mars.”
“It was an intriguing find all right,” said Amanda. “From what I hear, the jury’s still out on whether the builders of those hives were intelligent or just instinctual.” Gash returned to his seat and picked up his drink. He’d overheard enough of their conversation to comment.
“Speaking on behalf of the one known intelligent species in the cosmos,” he said, raising his mug in mock toast, “I say here’s to something better.”
He followed through with another drink of his beer. Amanda wasn’t sure how to respond, so she continued with her previous thought. “Cayenne’s right though. Man has only discovered a dozen or so inhabitable planets. It’s still possible we may encounter an intelligence somewhere, sometime.”
“I don’t know,” said Ramos, sitting back in his chair. “Got my doubts about that.”
“Well, take the ursu for instance. They show signs of intelligence.”
“The what? Oh, you mean the squats?”
“Yes. They use crude tools, they have a loose tribal system, they build shelters--”
“Birds and beavers build shelters too,” Gash countered, “some pretty fancy. That doesn’t make them intelligent.”
“Actually, the nests of the ursu are quite similar in some ways to the lodges beavers build. As for intelligence, there are many ways it can be defined, many factors to consider. Just as there were many factors which resulted in man’s own ascent into intellectual awareness. Standing upright and walking on two legs was actually the first evolutionary step between ape and Homo sapiens. The ursu are in that transition stage--sometimes walking on two legs, sometimes on all fours. In ten thousand years or even a thousand, who knows how they will evolve.”
“By which time no one will care,” Gash muttered.
* * * * *
“Down here!” It was Max. “I’ve found something down here!”
The four of them scuttled through the darkness, past a couple of twists and turns, before they found him. He held his light up high, as if to get a better look at something. What it was, Filamena saw, was another painting on the cave wall. She was no expert, but this one seemed more elaborate, more detailed than the other. Many of the outlined figures had been filled in, though still with little detail, and there were various shades of the red coloring. Even the proportions were more accurate.
“Incredible,” said Amanda.
Luis just stared, but Filamena knew by his reaction he agreed with Amanda’s assessment. Filamena, too, found the scene depicted across the cave wall startling. She didn’t need anyone to interpret it for her. The dramatic imagery made it obvious what was happening. In its center was a group of the hairy creatures. They brandished clubs and threw stones. One of the clubs they held appeared to be on fire. All around them, surrounding them, were trees--trees with long branches snaking out, moving towards the creatures. One tree limb was shown grabbing hold of one of the creatures. Within the leaves and boughs were depictions of angry eyes that made it seem as if the trees themselves were alive.
Her first thought was that it must be a fantasy--a nightmare some creature had paid homage to on a cave wall. It must have been a terrible dream she thought. It certainly couldn’t have been real. Because what it showed was Amanda’s ursu fighting against the forest itself.
Also Available From Zumaya Publishing
Noah Dane is a mid-21st Century San Francisco police inspector who, while hunting his partner's killer and investigating a pair of seemingly unrelated murders, stumbles onto a conspiracy that threatens all humanity. Chastity Blume is a celebrated talk show host known as "America's Favorite Virgin" who discovers the sinister plot while searching for the mother she never knew. Along with Noah's new crime-fighting partner, a Marilyn Monroe celebudroid, they lead a cast of quirky characters towards a climax of comically sexy proportions, where all the clues point to an insanely popular new virtual reality experience that's Better Than Chocolate.
Watch the Better Than Chocolate trailer
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Excerpts from BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE
The captain got out of her chair, walked part way around her desk, and looked through the transparent partition. Noah saw something was bothering her–something she didn't want to tell him. He took the opportunity to retrieve his badge and gun. He didn't feel balanced without that weight in his shoulder holster.
“I wanted you to take a breather before you had to deal with this, but . . . I'm assigning you a new partner. Shut up and listen,” she said, stopping him short him again. “You know the rule book as well as I. You've got to be partnered-up. And I'll tell you right now, you're not going to like this. I don't like it either. But it's not my call. This play comes straight from the booth up top. Yesterday's debacle left you a marked man. So you can either stick to the game plan or find yourself back on bike patrol.”
“Hell,” wondered Noah aloud, “who is this new partner, some sort of mental defective? I know. It's a troll, isn't it? I'm not working with some alien midget.”
“That's not it, though I almost wish it was.” Captain Raevski walked back to her chair and sat. “You remember last year's celebudroid craze?”
“Sure. All those robots made to look and act like famous dead people. They were everywhere, hired out for parties, mall openings . . . .”
“Yes, well the fad faded away quicker than a lame-armed quarterback. Celebuwares went bankrupt, couldn't pay its taxes, and the city came out of the scrum holding its assets.”
“What in the name of Jack Daniels does that have to do with me?”
“It was in a local grid poll, didn't you see it?”
“I don't vote.”
“You should. The public decided it wanted to recoup its losses, and have the celebudroids retrained, or reprogrammed I guess you'd call it, for a variety of municipal tasks. Some jerkoff bench jockey in City Hall decided to see if one of these droids could do police work.”
“Don’t tell me.” Without taking his eyes off the captain, hoping for a telltale sign it was an elaborate gag, Noah dropped back into the chair.
“Yes. This particular droid has been reprogrammed with complete law enforcement and police academy training. It's passed all the written and physical tests.”
“Now I've been ordered to take it into the squad and make it part of the team. Specifically, I've been ordered to make it your partner.”
“I know. At first I thought it was somebody's idea of a joke too. Now the joke's on you, Dane.” As Noah tried to harness the rather schizoid engrams running amuck in his brain, Captain Raevski did something with her desk screen. A few seconds later, there was a knock on the door. “Enter,” she said officiously.
Noah turned and saw the front view of the blonde he'd eyed before. She was every bit as impressive from this angle. Rich honey-colored hair, bedroom eyes, lacquered nails, a tiny mole on her left cheek, luscious lips–though a touch heavy with the lipstick, he thought–and an hourglass figure that cried out for a full-body inspection. She had on this one-piece all white outfit that was belted in the middle and tight in the ass. It covered her from neck to calf and left most everything to the imagination. That was okay. He had plenty of imagination.
Then a string of cerebellic goup snapped and he realized he'd seen this tasty pow-whammy before. It occurred to him he recognized her from several pieces of pop art he’d chanced on in some store. The realization slammed him to the mat.
“Inspector Dane,” said Captain Raevski formally, “let me introduce you to your new partner, Detective Special Class, Marilyn Monroe.”
. . . She'd been inside the institute longer than she thought. It had grown dark–the only illumination the soft coral glow of the streetlights and a single public grid screen pulsing with some marketing inanity across the way. She retrieved her pad from her purse to call for her car, then realized she wasn't alone on the street. A trio of bikeroos, alternately resplendent and ragged in their striking blue colors, leaned on their bikes just yards away. She hesitated with her pad, and as she did, four more gang members coasted to a stop near her. They were all around now, leering at her with countenances both curious and threatening. Some of the faces were so young, she thought, too young to be on the street. Belatedly she thought of activating her pad's emergency link. A bikeroo approached her from behind and snatched the pad from her grasp.
“You won't need this,” he said, smiling almost politely.
“See what else she's got in there,” called another one, gesturing at her purse with a blade that glimmered in the dim light.
The first bikeroo held his hand out expectantly for her purse. Part of her wanted to slap it away, but the part that was in control right now was terrified–terrified and angry. She was angry at herself for being so preoccupied, so stupid as to put herself in this position. After a few seconds hesitation, she handed over her purse. That's when another trio of bikeroos pedaled in, the lead biker skidding to a stop so close she was about to jump out of the way.
This guy was older than rest, bare chested except for a fancy vest that looked small on his barrel frame. Chastity couldn't make out the designs, but she could tell his heavily muscled arms were covered with tattoos. She gathered from the way the other bikeroos wavered that this was their leader. He got off his bike, let it drop, and looked her over with deep-set eyes under beetle brows. His stare was disconcerting.
Chastity nervously pulled on her pale-lavender skirt and took a step back. The gangster tilted the bright-blue derby he wore back from his forehead and smiled like a kid at Christmas. A glint of silver ignited his grin.
“Chastity?” he asked in a gravel-toned voice. “Chastity Blume? Damned if it isn't really you.”
Chastity was used to being recognized, but this time she was caught unawares. It took her more than a moment to grasp how this bikeroo knew her name.
“I'm mega-fan numero uno. Haven't missed a single program–no, not a single one.”
Still flabbergasted, Chastity didn't know if she should feel relief or not.
“You dim bulbs know who this is don't you?” Only a few appeared to have caught up with their chief. “This is Chastity Blume, America's Favorite Virgin, a dyed in the bull celebrity. You know, from that show Gridspeak.”
Who is Bruce Golden?
Read An Interview With Bruce