ALTERNATE TIMELINES: historical speculative fiction with diverse characters by Dusk Peterson
 
Historical fantasy. Alternate history. Retrofuture science fiction. Diversity.

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LIFE PRISON: a Turn-of-the Century Toughs series ¶ By Dusk Peterson


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.

The series is part of the Turn-of-the-Century Toughs cycle. Companion series: Commando.
 


HOW TO READ THE STORIES

Click on the linked titles of stories to read the online versions, where available. (Information about my online fiction.) For the bookstore versions, click on the appropriate links. Multiformat e-books are free.
 

SERIES CONTENTS
 



Reviews

"The world-building is exquisite. . . . The writing is fantastic. Each word shows talent and craft, research and imagination, passion and purpose." Inked Rainbow Reads.

"Easily captures the minds of any reader, even those who might not think this to be 'their thing,' with its dark setting and even darker themes. But there is a point to all this seemingly unnecessary suffering and pain. Reformation is at hand and with it comes a serious call to action, to the re-examination one's own sense of morality and of right and wrong. Believe you-me, this book makes you THINK about topics of discussion most would prefer never to think about or take into account." Reckless Indulgence of the Written Word.

"Combining a historical background similar to that of Victorian [America] with a skilled perspective into the nature of human relations and a wide range of characterization, Life Prison is a real page-turner . . . This is a story and an author not to be missed." Rainbow Reviews (PermaFrost).
 


Mercy's Prisoner (Volume 1 of Life Prison)

"'You have committed a vile and savage act, one that any other nation would punish with death. Our punishment, on the other hand, will only be to give you what you want. You have sought to live in a world without boundaries of civilization, and such a world shall henceforth be your dwelling place.'"

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.
 

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     ¶ Data: 90,000 words | Publication history.
     ¶ Reviews: Goodreads | Inked Rainbow Reads | Reckless Indulgence of the Written Word | Shari Sakuri | Crystal's Many Reviewers | World of Diversity Fiction | Love Bytes Reviews. Mercy's Prisoner #1: Goodreads | Mllesatine (Deutsch) | Rainbow Reviews | Snuffylicious. Mercy's Prisoner #3: Brief Encounters.
     ¶ Honors: Honored in the Rainbow Awards 2014 in three categories: Runner-up, Gay Fantasy. Finalist. Honorable Mention.


VOLUME CONTENTS

Life Prison (original, shorter version from 2002). In the unmerciful world of Mercy Prison, there is no rule but unending pain. For Merrick, the arrival of his new guard provides hope that he may break beyond the boundaries of his life prison. But appearances can be deceptive, and Merrick does not yet recognize the danger this guard poses to his future.

Men and Lads. Two guards. Two prisoners. A multitude of problems.

Milord. He was the model prisoner, respectful to his guards and loyal to his fellow prisoners. What no one knew was that he held the key to destruction.

Isolation. Being locked in a prison cell can cause a man to re-examine his priorities. Especially when the door never opens.

Curious. His job is to guard the prisoners. But against what?

Mercy's Prisoner: Epilogue.

Mercy's Prisoner: Historical Note.
 


Hell's Messenger (Volume 2 of Life Prison)

"'Death did not hold the name then that he holds now.'"

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.
 

     ¶ Data: 110,000 words (full volume).
 

VOLUME CONTENTS

Trial (free multiformat edition | Kindle edition). The prisoner has suffered endless pain and has raised a rebellion. Now he faces his greatest trial.

Tour (free multiformat edition | Kindle edition). He has taken his first step to being accepted by the other prisoners. But what is the secret of the missing prisoners?

Initiation. Companionship comes with a price. Feed subscription Upcoming. To receive notice of e-book publications and free fiction, subscribe to Dusk Peterson's e-mail list or blog. See below for a progress report on upcoming fiction in this series.
 


Short stories

Emancipation (Wattpad edition). Civil war is tearing apart the land. Again. . . . "Emancipation" is loosely inspired by events at a border-state manor during and after the American Civil War. This is a special Juneteenth holiday gift story for my readers.

In the Silence (published in Risk). He can't speak. He can barely see. He experiences only fear and the faint whispers of something he had once known. But an intruder into his secure retreat from danger will pull him into awareness of what stands before him. What stands there is renewed danger . . . and the hope of something more.

Torture (The Eternal Dungeon / Life Prison; published in Risk)). When the High Seeker of the Eternal Dungeon visits a foreign prison, he discovers that his dark reputation has preceded him. So has the dark reputation of his dungeon. The host is eager to show him that matters are run very differently at Mercy Life Prison. The High Seeker has his suspicions about what he will find in that prison, but even so, he is not prepared for what the prison has to teach him about man's nature . . . and his own nature.

Cell-mates (published in Risk). Sentenced to life in prison, Tyrrell didn't have many opportunities for bed-play . . . unless he could count what the guards did to him as "play." So his future seemed brighter when he was paired with a cell-mate he'd been eyeing for a long time with affection and lust. If only Tyrrell could keep from becoming his cell-mate's latest murder victim . . .

Coded Messages (published in Risk). One of them rapes prisoners. The other wants to help prisoners. So why are they talking to each other?

Lord and Servant (published in Risk). When you're a long way from home, you find companions where you can.

Rain (The Eternal Dungeon / Life Prison / Commando / Michael's House / Waterman; published in Risk). Five boys. Five rainy days. Five opportunities for trouble. In this cycle of five short stories, five young men in troubling situations must make choices that will change the path of their upcoming lives . . . and the path of the societies they dwell in.


Maps and series resources

Maps for this series and related series.

Turn-of-the-Century Toughs, a cycle of historical speculative fiction series that includes this series. This page includes resources such as a chronology of major political events in the cycle.

Life Prison research. Blog entries by the author on research for the series.

Bibliographies for this series:
The Boer War and Turn-of-the-Century Firearms.
Masculinity, Crime, and Everyday Life in Victorian and Edwardian Times.

Shared Universes: Works set in the Life Prison world by other authors and artists.
 


Progress report: status of upcoming stories

Updated June 2017. All titles and ordering are tentative at this point.

Hell's Messenger (Volume 2).


Justice's Hammer (Volume 3).


Side stories.



Next series in the Turn-of-the-Century Toughs cycle:

[ Commando ]



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