LJ Cohen is a Boston area novelist, poet, blogger, ceramics artist, geek, and relentless optimist. After almost twenty-five years as a physical therapist specializing in chronic pain management, LJ now uses her anatomical knowledge and myriad clinical skills to injure characters in her science fiction and fantasy novels. When not bringing home strays (canine and human), LJ can be found writing, which looks a lot like daydreaming.

LJ is active in IPNE (The Independent Publishers of New England), SFWA (The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America), and Broad Universe and blogs about publishing, general geekery, and other ephemera at http://www.ljcbluemuse.blogspot.com.

A Star in the Void (book 5 of the SF/Space Opera series Halcyone Space) will be published Summer 2018. For more about LJ and her books, visit http://www.ljcohen.net or https://www.amazon.com/LJ-Cohen/e/B006QL6GA0

Ithaka Rising by LJ Cohen

Welcome to the universe of Halcyone Space. . .

After a reckless young computer programmer resurrects the damaged AI on a long dormant freighter, she and her accidental crew blunder into a galactic conspiracy forty years in the making.

A derelict ship and a splintered crew are not the rewards Ro had hoped for when she helped disrupt her father's plans to start a war with smuggled weapons. But with the responsibilities of full citizenship and limited resources, she's forced to take her father's place working as an engineer on Daedalus station while she and Barre try to repair their damaged freighter, Halcyone. Barre's brother, Jem, is struggling with the disabling effects of his head injury, unable to read or code. His only hope is to obtain a neural implant, but the specialists determine he's too young and his brain damage too extensive.

When Jem disappears, Barre and Ro race to find him before he sells his future and risks his mind for a black market neural implant. But locating The Underworld along with its rogue planet Ithaka has political consequences far beyond what Halcyone's crew imagine, pitting Jem's life against deadly secrets from a war that should have ended forty years ago.


Lisa's second book is just as good as the first. The continuation of Ro Maldonado's journey into emancipation carries the ring of truth. Real problems. Real solutions – and none of them pat answers to cliché problems. I highly recommend this whole series. – Nathan Lowell



  • "When a rocket engine ignites, it doesn't look like much happens. The rocket barely seems to move and then it's going. The relentless pressure of the exhaust propels it faster and faster until it reaches orbital velocity. Ithaka Rising feels like it starts slowly. As the story unfolds and the pieces come together, the inexorable pressure of fine story telling, smooth characters, and compelling action rocket the reader into jump space where anything can - and probably will - happen."

    – Nathan Lowell, Creator of the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper and the Tanyth Fairport Adventures.
  • "By far my favorite part of this novel are the characters. None of them are perfect, but that's part of the charm. It's nice to meet complex, human, individuals who learn and grow in the course of their adventures. I really appreciate that the characters don't have sudden "aha!" development moments but instead change incrementally and realistically. And because they are so well-drawn, I found myself truly caring for their various predicaments and cheering each of them on. Of course, the story is amazing, too. Cohen writes good hard science fiction — the computer talk isn't just babble, the neuroscience is based in medicine — and that grounds the action, making it feel more immediate and realistic."

    – Amazon Review
  • "Every so often you get hold of a book/story that you just sink into and the rest of the world disappears. Ithaka Rising is that kind of book."

    – Amazon Review
  • "This novel is a grand science fiction adventure with a cast of characters who each had their own strengths and weaknesses."

    – Amazon Review



Barre turned up the music, and it transformed his mind into a concert hall with perfect acoustics, transporting him more than a dozen wormhole jumps and a few centuries away from the ruined bridge of the broken ship. The resonance of the strings swelled through him, vibrating the bones of his skull and his chest. If Ro called, he would definitely not hear her. He clenched his jaw and focused on tracing the chaos beneath the console.

It was work a tech drone could have done, but that was another on the list of the dozens and dozens of things they needed but didn't have. So while Ro was doing something in engineering, Barre was wedged into this cramped space, comparing the half-melted mess with the schematic she had pushed to him.

The ancient symphony soothed him, and as his hands did the grunt work of stripping wires and creating splices, his mind composed a more modern counterpoint, weaving synthesized computer tones though the main theme. He knew Halcyone was monitoring and got the sense the ship approved.

It wasn't Halcyone's fault she couldn't fly. It was Ro's.

An alarm tore through the music. As Barre jerked up, his head clipped the bottom lip of the console. Swearing, he scrambled to his feet, and pressed his hand against the dripping cut on his forehead. He shut off the symphony.

Barre sent a trill of four questioning notes to Halcyone. The AI silenced the alarm and sent the same notes back in reverse order. An apology. The sudden quiet made his ears ring.

He played the command tone and Halcyone opened the internal comms. At least they worked. Ro? What the hell are you doing?

Not now. Her clipped voice filled the bridge before she killed the channel.

The wound on his head throbbed and given the forty-odd-year-old ship's grime that now coated his hands, he knew he needed to get it cleaned off and sterilized. He queried Halcyone again. All calm. Whatever Ro was mucking around with, at least the ship wasn't going to go critical while he took care of himself. Barre glanced around at the half-dismantled nav console and his scattered tools. It was a miracle Halcyone had ever flown. Or at least a miracle they hadn't all gotten blown up in the process.

He updated the AI with his status in case Ro bothered to look for him, and strode to the airlock, his dreads swaying across his back. If he was lucky, his mother wouldn't be on duty in medical. Maybe he could convince one of the techs to let him grab some suture glue and a field bandage.

With his free hand, Barre unsealed the door, and stepped through into the station beyond. Before Ro resurrected the ship's AI, and before it tore loose from the station with its accidental crew and a hold full of smuggled weapons, he had been part of Daedalus's staff, at least by proxy. Now as a full Commonwealth citizen, he had his autonomy, but no real status on the station. His parents had not contested his emancipation request, and with a ship at his disposal, he figured he'd have been long gone by this point.

But Halcyone was a lot more damaged than Ro realized. Or at least that's what Barre assumed, since she'd been holed up in engineering for most of the past two weeks, only speaking to him in monosyllables after their last failed attempt to take off. And he'd been demoted to tech drone in the process.

With its stripped-down design and bare metal walls, Daedalus Station could have been an extension of the ship. Cold, clinical, like the infirmary. Like his mother. This late into third shift the corridors were deserted and the lighting set to minimal. At least neither of his folks would be in medical now, unless there were active emergencies.

He pressed his cleaner hand to the ident plate in the nexus, sighing in relief when it opened. By all rights, Commander Mendez could have revoked his access, which would have made things a lot more complicated than they already were. At the entrance to medical, he paused. He and Ro really needed to lay in their own stock of supplies. It wasn't like they could just requisition stuff, and neither of them had any money. Mendez had emptied Halcyone's storage bay of everything Ro's and Micah's fathers had been smuggling: the weapons, the battle rations, and all the medical equipment. It would have been nice to at least get a finder's fee, but Ro hadn't thought of that. And to be honest, at that point, they were all just glad to be alive.

The door slid open and the smell of the cleanser they used in medical flooded him with memories. Barre and his brother, Jem, had basically grown up in rooms like this. No matter where his parents had been stationedófrom hospitals in the Hub to the asteroid that housed Daedalusóthe familiar aseptic space had been a constant. He slipped inside the silent infirmary as the door sealed behind him. The entire place gleamed, the stainless steel reflecting even the minimal illumination. All the beds were empty, their stabilization webbing packed away, their displays dark.

The single on-duty tech slept in a berth built into the rear wall. Barre remembered napping in one just like it when he was little. After Jem was born, that's where the two of them had played. That had been a long time ago.

The door to the small cubicle his parents used for their office was open. The glow of a monitor brightened the room. The tech had probably forgotten to log out. Barre knew if his mother found it still on when she came in, she'd discipline the poor man.

He stepped inside. Something moved at the edge of his vision and he jerked around, hitting his jutting elbow on the door frame.

Shit. His hand jammed into the swelling wound. Pain made him woozy and a fresh trickle of warmth dripped into his left eye.

Damn it, Barre! Jem's urgent whisper filled the office. His little brother stood from where he'd been curled up in the high-backed desk chair and lurched across the room. What the hell are you doing?

Barre took his hand away from his head and blinked at it. Bleeding.