She survived future wars, but can she survive her own fancy brothel?

Illustration for article titled She survived future wars, but can she survive her own fancy brothel?

In Kieran Shea's novel Koko Takes a Holiday, Koko Martstellar has retired as a mercenary after living through some of the most intense warfare imaginable. Her reward? Running a luxury brothel full of simulated violence and weirdness. Until it all starts going south. Here's the first ever excerpt.


Titan Books, which is putting out Koko Takes a Holiday in June 2014, is comparing it to Richard K. Morgan and Lauren Beuekes, and it definitely seems to have the recommended amount of futuristic grit. Here's the first synopsis:

Five hundred years from now, ex-corporate mercenary Koko Martstellar is swaggering through an easy early retirement as a brothel owner on The Sixty Islands, a manufactured tropical resort archipelago known for its simulated sex and violence. Surrounded by slang-drooling boywhores and synthetic komodo dragons, Koko finds the most challenging part of her day might be deciding on her next drink. That is, until her old comrade Portia Delacompte sends a squad of security personnel to murder her.


And here is an exclusive excerpt, plus the first look at the book's cover:

Koko Martstellar watches Archimedes sleep beside her in bed and blows out a plume of crinkle-flake smoke straight at the room’s ceiling fan.

Yeah, so things got a little out of hand tonight, she thinks. Big deal. Koko knew an incident like this was bound to happen sooner or later. All of The Sixty’s pleasure vendors have been hurting of late, what with the instability in the lower trade markets tamping down discretionary income and all, but honestly, what was the CPB HQ thinking? Opening up The Sixty Islands to the Kongercat re-civ ilk—what, just because they’re flush with credits and can afford it? Not to besmirch the heavily promoted ceasefires and the internationals kowtowing to re-civ play niceties, but those freaks are just plumb crazy.

Illustration for article titled She survived future wars, but can she survive her own fancy brothel?

After crushing out her smoke in a halved husk of a coconut on the nightstand, Koko leaves Archimedes in bed and slips on a pink silk kimono. She leaves her bedroom and tramps downstairs to check the incoming messages on the bar’s central register. The news on the projection prompts is as bad as she expects. The Custom Pleasure Bureau is sending a security detail around in a few hours. The communication indicates it was their intention to be there sooner, but Koko’s brothel operation is built on one of the few S.I. islands without a connecting bridge system. ETA 9:00 AM, sharp. Huh. For a fleeting moment, Koko rues not letting those two re-civ Kongercats just have their way.

Koko had been going over the books in bed upstairs when Archimedes cried out for her that there was a problem in the main bar. Archimedes has always been a bit of a fusspot, so Koko figured the boy was merely out of fresh ice or grenadine or something. Not the case at all. Koko stalked right out of her bedroom and instantly knew the score. As her fellow mercenaries used to say back on deployment, the two Kongercats had jacked up a total BSGD situation.


Bad shit, going down.

Kongercats re-civs are pretty easy to distinguish from the run of the mill S. I. patrons, what with their hereditary facial lesions, papery skin, and Chinese heritage. Generations of excessive radiation exposure from smartwars and general malnutrition have a way of muddying up the breeding, and those two were no exception. Loud too. Eight drinks into a mean drunk loud. The women held knives to two of Koko’s best boywhores’ throats, and from the look of things, they were raising their elbows and getting ready to saw.


Koko didn’t hesitate. On the landing outside her room, she kicked open the bamboo trunk braced against the railing and snatched up the Belgian sub-cutter. A hell of a weapon—favored for street-sweeping action. Of course, when those two re-civs saw the huge gun in her arms they drew sidearms concealed beneath their vests. Expected, of course, and a quick finger-squeeze and a wipe left to right was all it took.

Oh, well. No matter. Portia Delacompte will have her back on something like this. A self-defense infraction with a couple of former hostiles on The Sixty for carnival? Are you kidding? Portia Delacompte has seen plenty of bad craziness with the likes of such savages herself, and Delacompte knows how these BSGD scenarios go.


Ten years Koko’s senior, Portia Delacompte hung up her own mercenary spurs years before Koko. Traded in her weapons for spreadsheets, went corporate, and sharked her way up through multiple leisure syndicate postings until Delacompte landed the cherry gig of all cherry gigs—Executive Vice President of The Sixty Islands Operations. It wasn’t long after this wild success that Delacompte reached out to her old comrade, and at the time it was an offer that was, as they say, hard for Koko to refuse.

Run her own brothel and saloon on The Sixty? The most expensive and violent pleasure resort on the planet? Color Koko grateful. She took that opportunity with both hands and feet. Koko figured she was more than a tad overdue, actually. After all, she’d yanked Delacompte’s fat out of the fire on more than one occasion, and after that one terrible night back in Finland, Koko just assumed things had finally found their way of working themselves out.


It wasn’t such a bad life running a brothel. Keep the customers well-oiled with the hooch, manage the games of chance, and pair up guests with whomever they desired from her roster of sexual pleasers. Nearly an equal split between haimish work and a snoozing hammock routine. Beat making planetary regions stable for long-term capital concerns, that’s for sure. Most evenings Koko even kicked off early and found herself joining the party.

Standing at the bar, Koko reflects back to an earlier time when she and Delacompte were out fighting for the multinational conglomerates. They had been on a re-stabilization mission for ElektroCorp and were pinned down beneath marginally radioactive debris near the obliterated ancient seaport of Sanya. A former noodle manufacturing facility. Jejune, Koko had been a few years into her service, but one bombed-apart industrial landscape looked pretty much like any other to her. Initially, things had gone well on the mission. But then, in a blink of an eye, everything went straight to hell. With two operatives from their brick killed, she and Delacompte ended up cut off from the rest of their unit.


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Dances with Peeps

It sounds like a good, violent, mindless romp, which I love now and then, so I'll check it out.

But that cover is ridikilis. The eye makeup for starters. I think mercenaries have other things to think about. I can kind of understand the hair. And the face is too perfect to have seen years of regular combat. Could we please have a female mercenary who looks like a career female soldier? I'm not saying career female soldiers don't do the makeup and such (I've known a few), but they don't do it during combat.