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Another interview

- I recently did an interview for Aconite Café that is now online. You can check out the full text of the interview here.

Read the first chapter of Under a Dark Sky

All around me the angels are falling.
One by one they burst silently into flame as we fall to Earth.
Blinding pain, searing heat and I'm burning too.
I scream myself awake.

The wall of light is cold and wet against my cheek as I lean against it.
I blink and the world tilts, the wall becomes an ocean, and with the return of smell the ocean becomes a glittering pool of vomit reflecting the flickering streetlights overhead.
Nice work, Perez. Real classy.
An early morning rainstorm batters the city, black clouds under a dark sky. Badly animated holo-signs cast dancing shadows over the alley where I'm lying. Fuck. Someone should tell me I have a drinking problem.
But this time I have a good reason to get drunk. A damn good reason.
Most of us would drink to forget seeing a helpless man murdered in cold blood. The rest would reach screaming for the bottle when they saw what the victim did to his captors afterwards.
A man in a dark coat watches me from the mouth of the alley. I can't see his face, but the way his coat flaps in the wind like a shroud draping a corpse reminds me of someone. There's something familiar about him that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, but I've seen too many shrouded corpses in my life to be intimidated.
"What? Never seen a guy pass out in the rain before?" I rasp, my throat raw from too much cheap whisky.
Never again, I promise myself, feeling the asphalt grind against my cheek. I swallow and then instantly regret the action when my stomach turns over and I heave up sour bile and what feels like the major part of my guts all over again. Then I have to smile at the self-delusion. Who am I kidding? This is not the first time I've passed out after a night of drinking with Wagner, and it won't be the last.
At least I had the decency to do it outside this time. I roll over on my back and let the warm rain wash the filth from my face. A raving appetite rumbles my insides. How long have I been out? I don't have the foggiest, but it can't be that long, or Wagner would have come looking for me. Come to think of it, I have no idea how we ended up at this place at all. There's a hole the size of a headshot exit wound in my recollection of the night and I've got a headache to match. Not a first either.
In the sky above, the bright band of the Ring slices the sky in two, glittering like a frosted scimitar in the light from our not-yet-risen twin suns. To the east, a peach tint above the skyline heralds the birth of yet another dreary morning. Fuck this. It's time to get back to work.
I roll back on my side and the guy on the corner is gone. Either satisfied I wasn't going to ruin his karma by choking to death on his watch, or he figured I was not worth robbing. Either way, I guess he decided I was someone else's problem.
O tempora o fucking mores, huh?

When I finally scrape my ass off the ground and stumble back into the thundering noise inside the bar, Wagner is sitting in a corner booth, nursing a bleeding fist and a full pint. He sees me come in and I give him a nod, quietly impressed that he has managed to get into a fight while I was gone. Perhaps I was out longer than I thought. My giant Norse friend just gives me the evil eye and downs his beer in one long swallow.
I head for the bar through the rowdy crowd. My usual cure for a hangover like this is a stiff whisky or two, but my stomach is not up for it. Too bad. I could really use a dram right now because my hands are shaking and there's a dull ache in my back. Week-old bullet holes tend to do that to you.
Working as head of security for the largest corporation in the system has its perks, but the downside is you tend to get shot a lot. Somewhere out there I know there is a bullet with my name on it, but so far I've had the fortune to only get shot with nameless ones. Getting old in this business is not an option and I know it's only a matter of time before I get painfully acquainted with that bullet. Unfortunately this job is the only thing I know how to do, so quitting is not an option. Talk about a bum deal. With my luck I would probably get killed by a speeding bus on my first day as a civilian anyway. I'm such a bloody cliché.
I squeeze in next to a noisy teen threesome snogging against the counter and wave to the bartender. "Water. On the rocks. Make it a double." I have to shout and use sign language to make myself heard over the rumbling dysFunk basslines shaking the foundations of the building.
An unusual order, judging by the time it takes the barman to whip it up. That gives me time to think about some things I'd rather not think about. Like why we are here.
Not in the philosophical sense, but why Gray has sent for Wagner and had him meet me here in this illegal bar on the Rim of Southern Masada.
We're here because Gray wants us to find a guy and bring him in. At first it sounded like your average, easy-in, easy-out, smash-and-grab assignment, but then I saw the video.

The camera points dead ahead, showing a concrete wall hung with a grim-looking banner bearing the crossed swords and stylised supernova of a Redeemer battle flag. A man in an expensive-looking black silk shirt kneels on the floor in front of it. His dark hair falls almost to the floor and a well-trimmed beard adorns his chin. He's a handsome man, and the blood running down his forehead from the deep wounds beneath the spiked metal crown is almost too much. You couldn't have created a more perfect rendition of the suffering of Christ if you'd commissioned Michelangelo. His hands are tied behind his back.
Head bowed in submission, tilted slightly sideways, he gazes one-eyed into the camera from beneath dripping brows. Where the other eye should be is only a red, gaping hole. He breathes heavily through flaring nostrils and it's obvious he's struggling to keep his calm.
From stage left comes another man into the frame. He wears the long, loose dress and headgear of a holy warrior. The vicious knife in his hand and the dark beard on his chin complete the picture. He walks behind the kneeling man and is joined by two similarly dressed men, one on each side.
You know what's coming.
The stage is set, and the scene is no different from a thousand such plays from the bloody repertoire of religious terror. The speech is no different either. Neither is the final gasp of fear and denial as a rough hand grabs hair, pulling back and to the side, and neither is the cruel climax. The knife does its grisly work on his throat with the frightening precision of a skilled butcher. God is great.
The head flops forward and the body sags, one bent leg twitching, a dark glistening spot of bodily fluids spreading beneath the kneeling form.
Looking steadily into the camera, the executioner declares this to be the inevitable end facing all false prophets, and then he starts counting off the political prisoners they want released. There are always prisoners they want released.
A wet bubbling sound comes from the corpse as air escapes from collapsing lungs.
The list of prisoners goes on and on and this is usually the place where the major news feeds cut to the inevitable government press-conference. Outraged officials denounce all forms of extremism. Promises are made of increased persecution of innocent civilians. You know the drill. Everybody knows they will not catch the people responsible for the slaying, but they want to keep their jobs, so what else can they do?
But this video is not on any of the major feeds. Not yet. On the underground channels they don't cut, they don't fade. Instead the video rolls on, and this is where things start to get really interesting.
As the list is being read, a sudden movement in the lower part of the frame draws the eye. The head of the corpse is moving.
Slowly lifting from the bloody chest, the head pulls back, blood still running feebly from the wide gash. Even to my untrained layman's eye the amount of blood looks remarkably small and his long hair barely sticks to the gore. As I watch transfixed, the blood flow stops completely.
The three men notice the movement and stare in silent disbelief. Any self-respecting executioner with an ounce of pride in his work would now start to wonder if he's losing his touch. This guy certainly is, judging by the look on his face. One of the other would-be executioners is crying ecstatically. He has pissed himself.
The solitary eye of the murdered man is once again level with the camera, and he's smiling, but it's not a smile you'd expect to find on the face of Christ. This smile is ancient and dark and filthy. It's the smile of death and decay and the suffering of little children. It's the smile of all the atrocities committed in the name of religion and a promise of nothing but more of the same.
He flexes his arms and his hands are no longer bound behind his back and he preaches to the camera like a first-rate televangelist. His single eye locks on mine beneath the bloodied brow, the iris an almost unearthly light blue. "... I am the Lord resurrected, I am the word retold. I am Alpha and Omega. Mine is the kingdom of God, and mine is the vengeance. Bow down before me and worship, for the day of judgement is nigh and the time for repentance is over. To each his just end, to the righteous, as to those weighed and found wanting. Rejoice, and let this be a message of unity for the lambs of the true flock. The man-god has once more been slain, and once again he stands resurrected. The armies of the Goat are approaching but a new kingdom is rising to stand against them, and this time there will be no forgiveness for the enemies of God."
He gets up from the floor in a single fluid move, like a trained dancer or a martial artist and turns on his captors. The camera is knocked over, the lens cracks and the image freezes, but the sound plays on.
It's the stuff nightmares are made of.

Something tells me this is not going to be a rescue operation. Why the hell does Gray want this guy? And why do I get the feeling we might all be heading for a very exciting future?
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Mission accomplished!

- I can now retire, satisfied my writerly life has peaked. I can not top the current ranking for Under a Dark Sky.
Ranked at place 666 on Amazon

Classy literary neighbours

- According to the Literature Map, I have some very nice neighbours. I think I'll invite them over for barbecue and beers. I bet they'd like that.

On the rebel colony planet Elysium, a man claiming to be the next Messiah is brutally executed in a live video streamed by religious extremists. Nothing terribly original so far for Elysium.
Only this time, the man doesn't die.

It's incredibly macho and hyper-violent still, which is fun. It's well-written, has some neat ideas - the especially odious fundie churches are a good twist ... Well worth a read. It also wraps up into a self-contained story with the promise of a sequel, rather than a cliffhanger. Like I said, a cut above. It reminds me a lot of Richard K Morgan's stuff ...Amazon customer

When cynical chief of security Asher Perez is sent to find the man, it soon becomes apparent that no-one is who they seem and that something dark is stirring in the shadows.
Something that has been watching humanity since the dawn of history.

I very much enjoyed your characters, your story, and your writing… I enjoyed the humour in the story… You have a strong and unique story with unique themes. Ray Rhamey, editor
I think your book has bestseller potential.
Creativia Publishing

Download a free preview of Under a Dark Sky

- A free preview of Under a Dark Sky is now available to download from ProlificWorks!
Just visit this link to claim your own copy. If you enjoy what you read, there are links to buy the full novel at the end of the preview.

The preview is available in Epub, Mobi and PDF formats.

Download a FREE preview!

A free preview of Under a Dark Sky is now available to download from ProlificWorks!
Just visit this link to claim your own copy. If you enjoy what you read, there are links to buy the full novel at the end of the preview.

The preview is available in Epub, Mobi and PDF formats.

Work in progress

Under a Winter Sun is the working name for the highly anticipated sequel to Under a Dark Sky, and I'm trying to put in as much writing as I can between work and the baby.
Don't despair folks. I will get it ready.
Johan M. Dahlgren is a Swedish writer of hard boiled science fiction action stories. Over the years he has been an elite soldier, windsurfer, film maker, downhill skier, musician, artist and office slave.

His work has been compared to that of Richard K. Morgan's best selling Altered Carbon and the rest of the Takeshi Covacs novels, Gavin G. Smith's Veteran novels and Neal Asher's Polity novels.

Dahlgren's current project is the Worldburner Suite, a cyberpunk tech noir series of sci-fi thriller novels. The first book of the series is called Under a Dark Sky and is available to buy from Amazon and other well stocked retailers. The next novel in the series, Under a Winter Sun (work in progress) will be heavier on the military sci-fi and move into more of an Alastair Reynolds Revelation Space scope.

Johan lives in Kungsbacka, Sweden, with his girlfriend and two children. He is published by Next Chapter.

More information about the novels can be found in the Novels area. To learn more about the author, or contact him or his publisher, please visit the About section. In the Media section you will find videos and audio files related to Dahlgren's work.
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The story so far...

'Twas a maelstrom of thunder and death, the day the dark princeling came into the world. The foul trumpets of Kaz'an heralded his arrival with blasts powerful enough to change the winds in the sky and the mindless thralls of the kingdom stood at attention all the way to the crimson horizon to hail their new master. The cries of the newborn echoed around the throne room and the denizens of the land roared in furious joy. The man child already knew where his destiny lay.

Or that's the way Johan would like it to have been on the day he was born. Instead it was a fine spring morning in 1973 in the pleasant town of Gothenburg in western Sweden.
He didn't have a clue what he wanted to be when he grew up.
And there was not a mindless thrall as far as the eye could see.
And there was not a mindless thrall as far as the eye could see.

Johan and his parents moved into his grandparents' old house by the sea outside Gothenburg, and soon his two younger brothers arrived. Sadly, there were still no trumpets of Kaz'an.
At a young age Johan discovered the joy of books. When he started school at the age of seven, his mother told the teacher that the little boy had just finished Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth. The teacher thought she was joking. She was not.
Ever since then he's been interested in science fiction and the fantastic. In school he was never happier than when it was time to write essays. He would churn out page after page of action stories instead of the usual "What I did during summer holiday" drivel the teacher had asked for.
Luckily, his teachers never seemed to mind.
Maybe they liked action stories.
When he was ten, he - like so many other young boys at that sensitive age - discovered the forbidden but darkly alluring pleasures of role playing games.

When he was ten, he - like so many other young boys at that sensitive age - discovered the forbidden but darkly alluring pleasures of role playing games.
He and his friends would sit for days on end, rolling their dice, moving their meticulously (but not very well) painted metal orcs and spinning tales of dark and dangerous lands.
And the occasional drunken halfling who betrayed his companions to the city guard and had them all arrested.
Who made up all the tales of dark and dangerous lands?
Guess three times.
The friends kept playing their RPGs far longer than the other kids on the block. In fact, on certain nights, when the stars align and the moon shines red with blood, they still gather their worn dice and meet up for more adventures in the dark and dangerous lands. The only difference is the Mountain Dew has been replaced with micro brewed IPA and fine Scotch and they no longer have to wear fake beards to look like grizzled adventurers.
The drunken halfling still makes the occasional appearance, though.
The drunken halfling still makes the occasional appearance, though.

After high school Johan did his military service in the Swedish Royal Marines. That was a bit of a heaven and hell experience for him.
On the one hand, it was great fun (he loves to blow stuff up, shoot big guns and ride in cool boats).
On the other hand, it was a real pain in the behind, because he discovered he is allergic to running mile after mile in full combat gear, crawling through icy mud and making hundreds of push ups. It makes him very tired and nauseous.
And he doesn't like to kill things.
Not even mosquitoes. Unless they draw first blood, in which case they will be dealt with swiftly and painlessly.
Still, he got a green beret for his troubles and learned how to blow up bridges. It's always good to have career options when you don't know what you want to be when you grow up.

After surviving the military he went to university to get a degree. Since he still didn't know what he wanted to be, he asked his parents for advice.
His mother suggested teaching (she was a teacher), since Johan likes to explain things to people and can't stop telling people useless bits of trivia they never asked for. By the way, did you know you can fly to Mars in 2-5 days with an acceleration of only 1g? Amazing.
His father suggested studying computer science (he worked with computers), since Johan likes to play video games.
It was a close call, but the video games tipped the scales, and four years later he had his Masters degree in computing and went to work in the IT business, where he is still plodding along.
The trumpets of Kaz'an? Silent as the grave.
The trumpets of Kaz'an? Silent as the grave.

Johan still doesn't know what he wants to do when he grows up.
Maybe writing is his thing.
Making stuff up for a living sounds like a job for a responsible adult.

Johan is the author of Under a Dark Sky
He is published by Next Chapter

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Stephen Hawking reads Under a Dark Sky!

Listen to world famous theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking reading the first chapter of Under a Dark Sky, and marvel as his smooth, rich voice brings the story to life in ways you could never have imagined.

Buy Under a Dark Sky

Under a Dark Sky is available from these online and physical retailers.
Amazon has the world exclusive on the eBook version. The rest of the retailers sell the novel in physical format online.
It's also available in store at Science Fiction Bokhandeln.

If you don't fell like buying it, I won't hold it against you.
For now.

The cover of Under a Dark SkyAmazon

Under a Dark Sky Free Download!

- It's that time of year again to be merry!
From December 30 to January 1, my novel Under a Dark Sky will be FREE to download from Amazon!
If you haven't read it yet, now is your chance!
All I want for Christmas is that you leave a review, good or bad.
Preferably good.

Smashwords interview

- I just rediscovered an old interview I did for Smashwords many moons ago. If you haven't read it yet, you can check it out here.

Oh no!

Unfortunately the epic eBook giveaway ended years ago. Thank you all for your interest in the novel!

However... If you contact me using any of the below channels I might still be persuaded to cough up another copy if you ask nicely :-)

If you want to support me you can always buy the novel from any of the sources below.

Today's One Star Review

- This review is for the print version of Under a Dark Sky.
This novel has an interesting premise and several good plot twists, but the good parts drown in a sea of macho action that's so exaggerated and twisted it takes focus away from the story. [...]
What's really sad is that the world described is fascinating and could have been a shining pearl, as real world problems occasionally flash by, but it all drowns in a scenario normally only seen in old video games, like Duke Nukem.
- Random Guy on the Internet
That's a perfect description of my intention with the novel. If that's a bad review, I don't need good ones!
This is a deleted chapter from my novel Under a Dark Sky. It takes place just after Perez has been to the doctor and he's waiting for Finn in the bar. Naturally, Perez gets into an argument with an old man.
I hope you enjoy it.

A couple of hours later I'm back in the bar where I met Wagner. I'm halfway down my first bottle of whisky for the night, I'm in a lousy mood and I'm still no closer to figuring out what this mess is about or who is behind any of it.
There are just too many questions buzzing around in my head and the whisky is not helping. Who killed all those people in the bunker? And where is the murdered prophet now? The obvious answer is that someone went in, killed everyone and made off with the guy. But who? The church or another sect who wanted to lay their hands on the saviour would be the obvious choice. It could be one of the other corporations, I guess, but my money's on the church. They have both the motive and the resources to pull off something like that. But why the slaughter?
And what the hell does Gray want with the guy? Apparently they have had some dealings in the past and Gray must have done something to piss the guy off.
And then there's the detonator in my head. Why didn't Gray's doctors find it when they patched me up last week? They must have seen it. Unless they are in on it.
This is exactly the reason why I don't want to get involved in these things. It's always too bloody complicated. Thank the powers that be for whisky. I take a big drink from my glass.
All I know right now is that we need to hack that memory cube to see if there are any clues on the video feeds from the bunker and then find a geneticist who can analyse the DNA on the knife.
Then we just have to find the bastard.
The spherical detonator is lying on the table in front of me, its little red eye winking steadily at me like a flirting clockwork lover. I'm staring back, playing hard to get. So far it has told me shit, but after a couple more drinks I'm certain the little bastard is going to talk to me. Right now though, it is starting to piss me off.
"You bastard, stop winking at me like that." I frown at it as I down the last of the scotch in my grimy glass. The ball doesn't respond. The guy sitting across the aisle does.
"What? Are you talking to me, asshole?" He looks like a hobo, frizzy beard, wild eyes, missing teeth and all. He looks like he's already on Death's doorstep, but he's probably not a day over sixty. He's bulky and the washed out olive-green t-shirt sporting the stylized black eagle-insignia of the marines is still tight across his chest. I'm guessing he's a veteran from the Great War. There aren't many of them left.
I know we should put them on pedestals and feed them grapes for what they did for us, but they all seem to suffer from varying degrees of drug abuse and mental health-issues. They would probably fall from the pedestal and break their necks as soon as someone looked their way. It turned out the war wasn't all that Great after all and it cost them their souls. Too bad for them, but it doesn't give them the right to hassle civilians.
"No, buddy, I'm not."
"Well, there ain't no-one but you and me here, so I'm figuring you must be talking to me." He jerks a thumb at his chest. "Unless you're talking to that little ball there." He stabs a crooked index finger at the detonator. The yellowed nail on the end of his digit looks like it might fall off at any second.
"Perhaps I am talking to this little ball. What's it to you? Look, mister. I'm not worth it. Just ignore me and go back to your beer. Here, I'll even buy you another one."
I reach for the console in the middle of the table to order him another beer. It's probably the last thing he needs right now, but according to the time-honoured tradition of situations like these, it's the correct thing to do. He doesn't even listen to me.
"Do I know you?" He stares at me, or rather, he stares half a meter to the left of me, with bloodshot eyes. I look over my shoulder to make sure he's not talking to someone else. "No, buddy, you don't know me." I turn back to find his ugly face in mine, stinking of sour beer and something rotting. I think it's his teeth, judging by the look of them.
"Damn right I don't. So who the fuck do you think you are, to come here and tell me what to do?"
"Look, I wasn't talking to you, so please go back to your beer and let's just forget about all this, OK?"
"Are you a fucking coward? Is that what you are?" He must be having an epiphany, because his entire face illuminates. "Yes, I think that's exactly what you are, a fucking coward, sitting there all fancy and shit, drinking expensive whisky," he waves at the bottle, "and thinking you're better than me." Spittle starts flying from his lips as he works himself into a frenzy.
"No, I'm just as bad as you are, old man, trust me. I just don't want any trouble right now, OK?"
"Well, maybe I want trouble? Ever think of that? Maybe I want to kick your fucking ass, just because I don't like your ugly face?" He waves a fist in my general direction, knocking over my empty scotch glass.
"Ain't no law against being ugly as far as I know," I reply as I watch the glass roll to the edge of the NoClean table-top. It falls to the concrete floor where it bounces with a dull, plastic clatter. It's a sure sign of class when a joint doesn't trust their patrons with real glasses.
When I look back up at the drunk veteran he's still shaking his fist at something. Whether it's me, Fate, God or the demons of his past, I don't know and I don't care. All I care about is going back to my fine bottle of scotch and my foul state of mind.
"Relax, grandpa. Keep this up and there will be blood." I mean it as a piece of friendly advice to keep him from hurting himself. Instead, he takes it as a challenge.
He plants his big, dirty hands on the tabletop, partly to intimidate me and partly to keep himself from toppling over. From the number of glasses on his table I can tell he's been at it for quite some time. The size of his pupils and the dark veins around his eyes tell me beer is not his only addiction. I'm quietly impressed he can stand at all.
"Are you looking for a fight, asshole? Maybe you like having your ass kicked? Huh? Is that it? Do you like to take it up the ass?" He's shouting now, and people are starting to look over from the other tables with interest. A couple of rich kids got into a fight about an hour ago, but it turned into a boring wrestling match, people lost interest and they got kicked out. Now the audience is hoping for some real violence.
"No more nor less than the next guy. Look, mister, I really think you need to relax and go out for a breath of fresh air or a joint or a needle or something. You're starting to intrude on my personal space here." I make a sweeping gesture indicating the table and the chairs around it.
"Personal space? Personal space? There is no such thing as personal space. Space is the most impersonal thing there is. I've been there."
The guy's got a point and it's the first intelligent thing he's said all night. There really is a fuckload of nothing out there. I've been there too.
Then he changes track, his drug-addled mind working in mysterious ways.
"Do you know who I am?"
Oh crap. Here we go.
"No, I don't know who you are," I reply with a sigh, getting ready to duck the wild haymaker when it comes, as I know it will.
"I'm the best fucking sniper in the 301 marine corps, that's who I am. I once shot a Terran major in the eye from a click away, through dense jungle. In the rain. Took his head clean off. They never found me. I was fucking invisible to them."
They should have used their noses. They would have found him in no time at all and saved me this crap.
"I was a ghost, man. A ghost. That's what they called me. Ghost. I'm fucking untouchable."
Why anyone in their right minds would even want to touch him is beyond me, so I guess he has a point.
"I'm sure you are." I for one wouldn't touch him with a fully charged cattle prod. I lean away from him, partly to get away from the sour breath and flying spittle, and partly to reach for the detonator on the table between his grubby hands. Big mistake. He spots where my hand is going and he's impressively fast when he goes for it, wartime augmentations evidently still online. He's a split second faster than me and he grabs the metal sphere from the tabletop with a triumphant cackle.
"Now what have we got here?" He holds it up to the light to inspect his find. "Lost the last one of your balls, have you?"
That was almost funny. I'm almost laughing.
"Give it here." I hold out my hand.
"Well, well, well. Would you look at this? Now, ain't this a beauty? Where the hell did you get your hands on one of these little bastards? Are you some kind of terrorist? You know there's a bounty on people like you?" Here comes the crooked finger with the threadbare nail pointing at me again. "You're gonna make me rich, asshole. God knows I've earned it, and they know it too. You're going down pal.” He stabs the finger at me again, over and over, stuck on jerky repeat. Who they are is very unclear.
"I said, give it here, old man. That thing is none of your business." I gesture for him to return the detonator.
"What if I don't? You gonna fight me? You think you can beat me, terrorist cocksucker?"
"Give it here, or I swear to whatever god you worship that I will ghost your fucking ass and send you to meet him, right here, right now." I stab a finger at the table top to underline my words.
"No can do mister. You forgot to say 'please'."
Right. That does it. Without getting up I break three of the bones in his arm in alphabetical order. As I pry the sphere from his broken hand I can feel the splintered bones of his wrist grind against each other under the grimy skin. I drop him with a quick elbow to the throat and he goes down like a ton of bricks.
I glare at the disappointed spectators at the other tables. You'll have to find your entertainment somewhere else tonight, you fucking vultures.
I put the detonator back in my pocket and get up from the table. A quick swipe of my hand pays the bill, including a hefty tip to keep this little incident out of the police reports. Then I reach for my half-empty bottle of scotch before stepping over Ghost's convulsing body. He'll live, but he will have problems breathing for a couple of days. I warned him. He had the option to simply walk away, but he didn't. I fucking warned him twice.
The bastard gets a boot in the ribs for good measure as I leave, but I've got to hand it to the guy. He barely whimpers.
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New review on Amazon

- I just noticed I got another review for Under a Dark Sky on Amazon. It's been a while since it was posted, which just goes to show how often I visit Amazon and check out my novel. I need to step up my game there,
Twisted concept and fun
The protagonist isn't who he thinks he is and continues to develop throughout the book. He is changed by the people who surround him. The action pulled the reader and the protagonist forward. The twists are philosophical and keep the reader guessing. I wonder what the next steps will be and who he will have to fight...
4/5 stars

I really like that the reviewer called it a "twisted concept". Mission accomplished.

New year, new Writer's Retreat

- It's that time of the year again when I go off on a secluded writer's retreat to create great art together with my author friends. So far, so good. I've got some solid writing done. Now it's time for lunch and then back into the cave.

UADS will be available for free on Amazon between December 23 and 27!

- 'Tis the season to be jolly!
Under a Dark Sky will be available for free on Amazon between December 23 and 27.
Go get a copy and then tell everyone you know. This is too good an offer to miss out on!

The writing goes well

- Writing has picked up again, and I'm now nearing the end of the first draft of the sequel to Under a Dark Sky.
I still have the final showdown to write and I want to get it properly epic. It needs to be a satisfying ending to the novel while at the same time leave an opening to the third and final volume of the Worldburner suite. Not an easy feat.

I got a thousand words written today

- Between changing some blinds, putting up a baby gate and clearing out part of the garage, I got a thousand words written on Under a Winter Sun.
So it should be ready some time next century.

Sent some agent query letters

- I just sent away some agent query letters. Keep your fingers crossed someone will get back to me with positive news!

About the author

Johan M. Dahgren is a web developer, a skier, a friend of cuddly animals and a born optimist.
None of which reflect on his writing.


Funkar ju asbra såklart!

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R.I.P. Stephen Hawking

- A legend has left us.
He will leave a black hole behind...

Quote of the day

Isn't it interesting that the same people who laugh at science fiction listen to weather forecasts and economists?Kelvin Throop III

Oh, the grand life of being a part time writer on baby leave

- After driving the big kid off to school, doing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen I get an hour or two to write while my girlfriend and the baby sleeps. Perfect!
I got 2K words down yesterday. Progress on the sequel to Under a Dark Sky is slow but steady.
Keep your fingers crossed the baby continues to sleep.

A slight delay...

- Work on Under a Winter Sun has been delayed because I just had a baby. Hopefully he will be a sleepy little kid.
If not, I will channel all the sleepless nights into even more hard boiled adventures.

I got my first 1 star review on Amazon!

- Yay, I finally got my first 1 star review on Amazon!

If I can't get into a story by the first 10% it's over. In this books case there simply isn't any story to get into,,, or it's so poorly told the reader has to guess what it might be.

Read the review in full on Amazon

I am Alpha and Omega

Chapter one of Under a Dark Sky

All around me the angels are falling.
One by one they burst silently into flame as we fall to Earth.
Blinding pain, searing heat and I'm burning too.
I scream myself awake.

The wall of light is cold and wet against my cheek as I lean against it.

I blink and the world tilts, the wall becomes an ocean, and with the return of smell the ocean becomes a glittering pool of vomit reflecting the flickering streetlights overhead.

Nice work, Perez. Real classy.

An early morning rainstorm batters the city, black clouds under a dark sky. Badly animated holo-signs cast dancing shadows over the alley where I'm lying. Fuck. Someone should tell me I have a drinking problem.

But this time I have a good reason to get drunk. A damn good reason.

Most of us would drink to forget seeing a helpless man murdered in cold blood. The rest would reach screaming for the bottle when they saw what the victim did to his captors afterwards.

Subscribe to my newsletter!

- Subscribe to my newsletter to get an email notification when there are updates concerning Johan M. Dahlgren or my writing!

Status update

- Despite the despicable kittens, this season's Authors' Retreat was once again a success. I managed to edit parts of the sequel manuscript and even got 2000 new words written. The story is shaping up pretty well, I think.

Mission status update

- This writer's retreat is a total failure.
It's impossible to pen hard boiled action with a purring kitten on your lap.
Damn those kittens.
Damn them all to hell.

Autumn Author's Retreat

- Tomorrow I'll be going away for the annual Autumn Author Retreat (try saying that three times fast after a couple of beers).
Hopefully I will get a lot of writing done.

Wish me luck.

Wherever did he come from?

- A new character just turned up out of the blue, ready to rock 'n roll, and demanded to be in the sequel to Under a Dark Sky. He's a bit of a tough guy and he's bringing an interesting back story to the table, so I couldn't say no.
It will be very interesting to see how the novel develops now that he's on board. This should shake things up a bit.
I hope everyone will be alright.

Book Trailer 1

Watch the book trailer for Under a Dark Sky, featuring a brilliant soundtrack by James A. Semple. You can hear more of James' music on his Soundcloud page.

Book Trailer 2

Watch the new book trailer for Under a Dark Sky. Once again, it feature the music of the very talented James Semple.

Great review of Under a Dark Sky on Amazon!

It's incredibly macho and hyper-violent still, which is fun. It's well-written, has some neat ideas - the especially odious fundie churches are a good twist ... Well worth a read. It also wraps up into a self-contained story with the promise of a sequel, rather than a cliffhanger. Like I said, a cut above. It reminds me a lot of Richard K Morgan's stuff ... Plz write more of them Mr Dahlgren. [5/5 stars] — Read the review in full on Amazon

Thank you so much, anonymous Amazon Customer!

FREE Creativia giveaway of the day!

- Oh look!
Under a Dark Sky is today's free giveaway on Amazon.
This is your one time chance to learn for free what goes on in my mind. I'm not guaranteeing you will like the novel, but I think it's pretty decent.
But then, I would say that, wouldn't I...
Go get your copy now!
Did I mention it's FREE?

Nope, it's not here...

You have reached the website of science fiction author Johan M. Dahlgren.
Unfortunately the page you were looking for might have been moved or the link you followed was corrupt.
But don't worry! You can use the menu above to find what you were looking for, and even if you don't find it, I guarantee you will find lots of other interesting stuff on this site!

Why not read more abut the author?
Or maybe read about his debut novel, Under a Dark Sky?

Under a Dark Sky got its first review on Amazon

- The reviews are starting to come in. The average is currently 4 out of 5. Looking good so far!

Back from another writers' retreat

- I just got back from another very good writers' retreat in Smögen.
We got a lot of writing done, had some great food and wine and really enjoyed the saunas and the pools.
I got 2400 words written, another chapter added to the novel and the story advanced to another important stage on Under a Winter Sun.
Good stuff!

Free e-novel giveaway!

- To celebrate that summer is finally here, I'm giving away a free copy of my new novel Under a Dark Sky every day.
Hurry up and get it before someone beats you to it!
If you enjoy the novel (or not), please leave a review or some stars on Amazon, Goodreads, iTunes or Google Play Books!

Vote for the print cover!

- I'm currently working on getting the paper version of Under a Dark Sky ready to send to the printers. Before I can do that I need to decide on a cover, and this is where you come in, dear reader!
Which one would you pick off the shelf at your favourite book store?

Please help me decide on which cover to use by visiting the link below and clicking on your favourite cover.

You can use the buttons below the covers to view them against a white or black background, see them in greyscale and toggle big/small view, to give you an idea of how well the covers work in different formats.

Stephen Hawking reads Under a Dark Sky

- Lovers of quality audio books: I have a rare treat for you today!
This is your chance to listen to none other than Stephen Hawking reading the first chapter of Under a Dark Sky.

Never before has my novel sounded so good.

Free ebook for print buyers!

- As a friendly bonus to all of you who buy the print version of my new novel Under a Dark Sky I'm giving away a FREE (as in free beer) eBook version!

Click here to Download the eBook

Getting the eBook for free means you save almost enough money to buy yourself a nice bottle of beer to enjoy while reading the novel. If that isn't a good deal, I don't know what is.


- I just received another box of print copies of my novel Under a Dark Sky! Of course I had to do an unboxing video. The internet does not have enough of those.

You can buy your own very stylish copy by visiting one of these sites:


Or you can contact me directly if you would like a signed copy!

Back on Amazon!

- My novel Under a Dark Sky is now live on Amazon through my publisher, Creativia. Why not pick up a few copies? It's a perfect Christmas gift!

If you've read the novel, I would really appreciate a few stars and a word or two, good or bad, in a review on Amazon :-)

My author page is now live

- My publisher Creativia just told me my author page on their website is now live.
Please go check it out and share it with the world!

Check out their other authors while you're there. They obviously have very good taste in the authors they sign :-)

Name day

- Today is the (Swedish) name day of one of the new characters in Under a Winter Sun, the upcoming sequel to Under a Dark Sky :-)

I've been interviewed by Type & Tell

- Type & Tell is the self publishing tool I use to print physical copies of my book. (All e-books are handled by my publisher, Creativia).
To celebrate their first year in business, Type & Tell interviewed a number of their users, myself included.
Read an excerpt of what I said about their service (in Swedish only, sorry international people).

Type & Tell is a great self publishing service and I can wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who's thinking abut publishing a book of their own.
Great customer support and the finished novels look and feel amazing.

And THERE I'm in the top 100...

- ... 000!
Under a Dark Sky just reached position 81,987 on Amazon's best seller list. Thank you so much to all of you who buy my novel!
Does this mean I can write "Amazon best selling novel" on the cover? I mean, it IS in the top 10% of all eBooks on Amazon. That has got to count for something.

Book sale!

- I just heard from my publisher that there is currently a sale on my novel Under a Dark Sky. Go pick it up for only £1.99 on Amazon!
And please spread the word.

If you've read the novel, I'd really appreciate a review on Amazon :-)

Autumn Writers' Retreat

- I just got back from another writers' retreat. Between a lot of good food and drink I got some good editing done on Under a Winter Sun, and even managed to write a new chapter. I'm now about 2/5 into writing the first draft, so you'll have to wait a while yet to read the finished novel, but check back often for news and updates!

A five star review!

- Under a Dark Sky has got it's first five star review on Goodreads!
Fast-paced, exciting and full of twists! ... With it's gritty tone, dark sense of humor and colorful gallery of characters it's really got it all ... The dialogue between the characters is absolutely brilliant and really funny ... This book is a true gem! Highly recommended!
Head over to Goodreads to read the review in full.

Publishing status

- My novel Under a Dark Sky has now been moved to the account of my publisher, Creativia.
Until the publishing process has been completed, the "buy now" links for Amazon have been temporarily disabled.
Don't worry, the novel will be available for purchase again very soon!

I've signed a publishing contract!

- I can now call myself a published author! Yay!
I just signed the contract with Creativia and I couldn't be happier!
Time for champagne.
Now, where is that bottle?

I've been offered a publishing deal!

- I just got an offer from a publisher, and from what I can tell, it's quite a nice deal.
I'll keep you posted.
Given the proper marketing, I think your book has bestseller potential.

Book trailer soundtrack

This is the brilliant soundtrack, composed and orchestrated by James A. Semple for the Under a Dark Sky book trailer.

Part one:

Part two:

Under a Dark Sky is now available to buy at Science Fiction Bokhandeln!

- My novel Under a Dark Sky is now available to buy in store from the swedish SFF specialty bookstore Science Fiction Bokhandeln in Gothenburg!
Yay! I can now title myself a proper author!
If you happen to be passing the store in Gothenburg you can pick up your very own copy from the "new releases" section. Buy my novel and support a local sci-fi author!


Writers retreat

- I'm now at a writer's retreat in the Gothenburg archipelago, working hard on Under a Winter Sky, the sequel to Under a Dark Sky. The first chapter is coming along nicely.
Expect lots of epic sci fi action and cynical musings. And some new and very interesting characters.
Maybe there will be a preview or two popping up on the site in the near future. Check back often!

New Book Trailer!

- I just uploaded a new book trailer to remind you that now is your last chance to buy the print edition of Under a Dark Sky on sale! Sunday night at midnight the price goes back to normal...
Watch the trailer below, then get your ass over to Bokus or Adlibris and buy your copy while it's still cheap!

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Under a Dark Sky is available to buy in print!

- The printed version of my novel Under a Dark Sky is now available and ready to be ordered from both Bokus and Adlibris!
Why not pick up a copy for yourself or someone you really like?
It makes a great gift, and also doubles as a very stylish beer mat.

Of course, for the more modern minds out there, it's also available as an eBook. Click here to find your favourite vendor of electronic litterature.

My new site is launched

- My brand spanking new site is online, and I invite you all to browse around and see what you can find.
There's info on my work in progress novel Under a Dark Sky and some other bits and bobs that you might like.

The trailer is coming along nicely

- While waiting for the manuscript for Under a Dark Sky to come back from my editor, I'm working on a video trailer for the book.
Right now, it looks like a cheap out-take from a Transformers movie. But that's a good thing, because it's exactly the style I'm aiming for.
I'm now looking for some nice music to add to the trailer, so if you have any epic Hans Zimmer-ish or Steve Jablonsky-esque tracks lying about that you'd let me use, drop me a line!
If not, I might have to compose something myself, and you don't want that.

I'm now an official reject!

- Yay! I just got my first official rejection letter!
I always knew I was a great, misunderstood artist, and now I've got the documentation to prove it.

Working on the book trailer for Under a Winter Sun

- While I'm waiting to hear from a publisher or an agent, I'm taking a break from writing Under a Winter Sun, the sequel to Under a Dark Sky, to create another animated trailer. This time I'm going to do multiple cuts and my aim is to go for something more Hollywoodesque than the trailer for Under a Dark Sky.
We'll see where it ends up.
Here's a still frame from the trailer for you to enjoy.

Under a Dark Sky is now available to buy online!

- I just published my novel on Smashwords!
Head over there to read all about it and read the first 20% for free. It's available in all the major eBook formats, so you should be able to find a version that works on your reader of choice.

Smashwords is a publishing service that not only sells your eBook, but they also distribute it to most of the major eBook retailers world wide. Withing 12 hours it should be available on Amazon and in about a week you should see Under a Dark Sky available on all the major eBook sites.
Please help me spread the word!

PS: The first one who buys a copy gets a free beer :-)

UPDATE: Under a Dark Sky is now available to purchase on Amazon as well.

Updated the cover

- I updated the cover of Under a Dark Sky, because the previous one had a placeholder image which I graciously stole from the Internet. The new one has an image which is bought and paid for, so this is the wonderful, new, official cover of Under a Dark Sky!
In a day or two the new cover should have updated on the online bookstores as well, so if you bought the old version you can either keep that as a special edition (might become valuable if I don't get sued by the creator of the image), or re-download the book to get the new official cover.

Download a free sample of my novel!

- Curious about my novel Under a Dark Sky but not sure you want to spend your hard earned $4.99 on it? I would be too.
I mean, that's the price of half a good beer. And half a beer is half a beer.

So why not download the first nine chapters ABSOLUTELY FREE in ePub or PDF format to see if you like it?
You can read it on your iPhone, your iPad, your Android phone, your Windows phone or your desktop PC or Mac.

If you then decide to buy it and regret it, I promise to buy you the other half of that beer.

I got my first rating on Goodreads!

- Wahay!
I just got my first rating on Goodreads. Four stars out of five is amazing! And I didn't even pay whoever rated it.

Alas, another rejection letter...

- I just got another rejection letter from a publisher.
This time it was Baen books who gracefully declined. I'm still waiting for a reply from one more publisher and four literary agents, so there is still hope.

Introductory offer expiring!

- Now is your last chance to buy the eBook version of my new novel Under a Dark Sky at the special introductory price of $4.99.
After the end of April, the price will be $7.99 (which is still pretty cheap, but not AS cheap).
What are you waiting for? Pick up your copy now!

The print preview has finally arrived

- I just received the printed preview copy of Under a Dark Sky in the post and I've got to say I'm very pleased with the result!
The size is good, the print is good and the weight is very good. The paper quality is amazing, and the only thing missing is the classic print smell. That's the only downside of print on demand, I guess.

I ordered it through the new self publishing service Type & Tell and I'm very impressed with their commitment to service and quality.

Next on my agenda is ordering the distribution package that allows you, dear readers, to buy it from your local book shop.
And then fame and fortune awaits. Hooray!

I dropped 100K places on Amazon's best seller list over night!

- Wahay, I just dropped over 100.000 places on the amazon best seller list! From 169.000 to 276.000 over night.
It's tough at the bottom.
Please help me get back into the 100.000's! I only need to sell one or two copies to come back into the lime light:-)

I've submitted the manuscript!

- I just sent the manuscript off to a couple of publishers. Now we'll just have to wait and see if someone actually wants to publish it.
Fingers crossed everyone!

You don't have forever...

- The price of Under a Dark Sky has now gone up to $7.99 on Amazon, but until the change takes effect you can still purchase my debut novel for the very nice price $4.99. You never know how long an update will take on Amazon.
You might have an hour.
You might have 48 hours.
But you don't have forever.
Buy it now!

Under a Dark Sky has been sent to the printers!

- I just sent the manuscript for Under a Dark Sky to the printers, and if it goes through the technical quality check there should be a printed version available for purchase from your favourite physical book store in the not too distant future.

I'm printing it through the new Swedish self publishing service Type & Tell, which so far has been a very nice experience.
Type & Tell is still in beta and there are a few bugs as may be expected, but I'm very impressed with their customer support and the bugs have been promptly fixed.
Good stuff and a sign of their commitment to quality!

New edition of Under a Dark Sky, out now!

- There is a new edition of Under a Dark Sky available to download from your favourite ebook retailer!
I found some minor errors in the ePub-file (bad quotes and apostrophes) and I added a table of contents, copyright info and some author and contact info. And I've made all links in the eBook clickable (this is the future, after all).
Nothing major that detracts from your reading experience, but if you want the latest and greatest, you can download a new version.
Just visit the online store where you bought the novel and download it again and you should be set to go.
It's free!

If you haven't bought it yet, now's your chance!

I've found a composer for the trailer!

- I have found the amazing composer James A Semple who will write some original music for the animated trailer of Under a Dark Sky.
Check out his great compositions on the link above!

More news on the edit

- I just heard from my editor and hopefully I will get the manuscript in return next week. Then I will begin editing based on his feedback and suggestions.
Things are moving along!

Looking for publishers and agents

- I'm currently in the process of looking for a publisher or an agent to get my book out there!
It seems many publishers have recently dropped the requirement for authors to approach them through an agent.
Could they be feeling the pressure from the self publishing industry already?
Whatever the reason, that means I will soon be submitting my manuscript to a couple of publishers, and I will then wait anxiously for their response.
I might send it out to a few agents as well, just to be on the safe side.
If anyone out there has any connections in the publishing world, please let me know :-)

I've sent the manuscript to some agents

- I just sent the manuscript for Under a Dark Sky to five different agents and one more publisher.
Keep your fingers crossed that someone likes it!

I just got some feedback from my editor

- My editor has finished his first reading of my manuscript, and he liked it!
Now he's doing another read through, and then I will be in for a long haul of editing, but the novel is moving along.
Just thought I'd let you know.

New site design (again)

- Between waiting for response from an agent or a publisher and writing the sequel to Under a Dark Sky, I've taken some time to redesign the website again. I hope you like it!

British vs American spelling

- My editor just sent me an email wondering if I wanted to use British or English spelling in my manuscript. Out of old habit, I wrote it in British English, since that's what we learn in school in Sweden, and I replied I wanted to keep the British spelling, but I realise it's not a given.
Does it matter, as long as it's consistent throughout the manuscript? Does the spelling influence the experience of the story? Does a suit of armour look more posh than a suit of armor?
Please share your thoughts with me!

Read the first chapter

- The first chapter of Under a Dark Sky is now available to read online! Let me know what you think of it in the comments below. I'd love to hear your feedback!

Did some minor tweaks on the site

- I've started a redesign job on the site. We'll see where it goes.

The edit is done!

- My editor just sent me an email to tell me the edit is done! Now all that remains is to fix all the errors, spelling mistakes, bad language, bad storytelling and bad continuity in the text. And then the small matter of getting it published.
Please tell all your friends and relatives in the sci-fi publishing world to give me a call :-)

My official Facebook page is now live

- I just launched my official Facebook page! Please like the page to stay up to date on news about my work.

The first part of the soundtrack is complete

- Composer James A Semple (official website) has completed the first of two(!) brand new themes for my book trailer, and I have to say it blows me away! I love the track, and I just hope I can live up to that high standard with my visuals.

Check out James's other amazing tracks on his SoundCloud page!

Another preview of the trailer

- Here's another still from the book trailer.
At the moment I'm working on getting the timing right with the amazing soundtrack from James A Semple.

Working on the edit

- I have now started editing my manuscript after the feedback I got from my editor. He's gone through the text very carefully, and most of the suggested changes are minor; a comma here or a hyphen there, but he has also pointed out some larger issues that I'm trying to work out. I just hope the whole novel doesn't unravel when I start pulling on a thread...

The second part of the trailer music is done!

- The second part of the music for my book trailer is now complete, and I've got to say I'm very impressed by what James A Semple has come up with!

Check out his SoundCloud page for more of his amazing compositions!

The edit is about 2/5 done

- I'm slowly but surely working my way through the manuscript again, implementing the changes suggested by my editor.
I've managed to work out some inconsistencies and continuity errors, and also inserted a lot of commas. They seem to be my Akilles heel :-)

3/4 done with the edit!

- I've worked all day on the edit and I've managed to get through about 3/4 of the manuscript.
So far I think I've managed to solve all inconsistencies that my editor has pointed out, but I'm sure I've introduced others in the process :-)
Some evil spelling errors have been fixed, along with even more of those pesky commas.
When I'm done with the edit I will need a few more outside eyes on the text. Anyone interested in proofreading it?
If so, just drop me a line!

I'm done with the edit!

- I've finally managed to work my way through the manuscript and (I think) fixed all the issues pointed out to me by my editor.
Now I need some people to read it and see if there is anything more to fix before I start looking for an agent and a publisher!
Any takers?

Writing again!

- I've started work on the sequel to Under a Dark Sky, currently titled Under a Winter Sun.
This time we will get to see more of Wagner's home world Nifelheim and there will be lots of mystery, gunplay and some new revelations about the Hope system.

Did some more work on the trailer

- I remade the trailer from scratch again, because all the layers became unmanageable, but I think it turned out all the better for it. The only thing I haven't changed is the wonderful score from James A. Semple :-)
I've added a bunch of asteroids (always cool, although not very scientifically accurate), a more natural sun flare (not as flashy as the old one, but more scientifically accurate) and some depth of field to make it look more realistic.
I'll try to put up a test render soon for you all to enjoy.
Meanwhile, I'm starting to round up the publishers I'm going to submit the manuscript to. Some of the larger publishing houses still want submissions on paper. I mean, come on. This is the 21st century. Think about the trees!
And think about my work office who will have to provide the printer paper some dark and windy night in the not too distant future...

New site design

- While I anxiously wait to hear from a publisher I took some time to redesign the website. I hope you like it!

The book trailer is here!

- I've finally completed the book trailer for Under a Dark Sky!
It's taken much longer than I ever imagined to get it ready, and it's far from perfect, but I figured if I don't release it now, it will never be ready :-)
There might be a few updates to it in the future, but I think it's now pretty close to the vision I had when I set out.
It wouldn't be half as nice without the great music, specifically composed for the trailer by James A. Semple, so please check out his other brilliant music.
Make sure to set the quality to 1080p, hook up your surround system and hit the full screen button for maximum enjoyment :-)
Even J.J. Abrams would be proud of those lens flares!

Listen to the soundtrack!

- I've put together a Spotify playlist of some of the songs I listened to while I wrote Under a Dark Sky.
Now you too can hear what goes through my head when I write. Be warned!
Listen to it here!

An agent response!

- Many weeks ago I sent the manuscript for Under a Dark Sky to a bunch of publishers and literary agents, and I just received a reply from an agent.
...I enjoyed what I read and thought it had some obvious strengths. Unfortunately, however, we have decided that it's not quite what we're looking for at the moment...— Zeno Agency

Not the worst of reviews! There is still hope.
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The cover of Under a Dark Sky The cover of Under a Winter Sun