Substrate Phantoms

Substrate Phantoms by [Reisman, Jessica]
THE BOOK: Substrate Phantoms.

: 2017

  Jessica Reisman

: Mark Teppo

: Resurrection House Books, Arche Imprint

SUMMARY: The space station Termagenti—hub of commerce, culture, and civilization—may be haunted. Dangerous power surges, inexplicable energy manifestations, and strange accidents plague the station. Even after generations of exploring deep space, humanity has yet to encounter another race, and yet, some believe that what is troubling the station may be an alien life form.

Jessica ReismanJhinsei and his operations team crawl throughout the station, one of many close-knit working groups that keep Termagenti operational. After an unexplained and deadly mishap takes his team from him, Jhinsei finds himself—for lack of a better word—haunted by his dead teammates. In fact, they may not be alone in taking up residence in his brain. He may have picked up a ghost—an alien intelligence that is using him to flee its dying ship. As Jhinsei struggles to understand what is happening to his sanity, inquisitive and dangerous members of the station’s managing oligarchy begin to take an increasingly focused interest in him.

Haunted by his past and the increasingly urgent presence of another within his mind, Jhinsei flees the station for the nearby planet Ash, where he undertakes an exploration that will redefine friend, foe, self, and other. With Substrate Phantoms, Jessica Reisman offers an evocative and thought-provoking story of first contact, where who we are is questioned as much as who they might be.

WHY THIS TITLE?: Substrate Phantoms refers to many things–the phantoms of our own inner substrates, those that might wander the substrates of space. The in-between, the layers and places below the surface, those are always the most interesting to me.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? If you like both science fiction and fantasy, space travel and mysteries, I think you might enjoy Substrate Phantoms. Also diverse characters coming together, transformations, a little humor, adventure, goats. And language–Kirkus called Substrate Phantoms a “deep dive into prose-poetry sci-fi and mind-stretching mystery.”


“Substrate Phantoms takes place in a world both haunted and haunting, a high-tech ghost-in-the-machinestory with plenty of sharp edges. Jessica Reisman‘s luminous prose andintricate characterization will mesmerize, entertain and surprise you . . .right to the last page.” — A.M. Dellamonica, award-winning author of The Nature of a Pirate.”

“It’s a testament to Reisman‘s storytelling chops that after reading just the opening chapter, I could hardly wait to get back to the book to find out what was going on. There is a threat and a promise in that opening, and what followed did not disappoint. Reisman‘s world-building skills are no less impressive than her storytelling. I was immersed and invested in the characters immediately and was pulled into their story by the way the author continued to expand my view of the universe she had imagined. This is the whole package: fully-realized characters with a mystery to be solved, set in a vivid science fictional world.” —  Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, New York Times Bestselling co-author of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

“Substrate Phantoms is beautifully written and richly imagined, with themes and imagery that remind me of Samuel R. Delany’s Babel-17.” — Judith Tarr, award-winning author of Forgotten Suns.

AUTHOR PROFILE: I have always loved any fiction or art that opens doors–or windows or cracks in the air–to possibility, that lets wonder into the room.

I grew up on the east coast of the U.S., was a teenager on the west coast, and now live in Austin, Texas. I’ve been employed as a house painter, a blueberry raker, an art house film projectionist, a glass artist’s assistant, an English tutor, and an editor, among other things. I dropped out of high school and now have a master’s degree. I was a Michener Fellow in grad school and graduated from the Clarion West workshop. I’ve been a narrative junkie from a young age, and have always found inspiration and solace in books, movies, and television. Also in animal life, nature, good food with friends, artful cocktails, and rain. My first novel came out in 2004, The Z Radiant from Five-Star Speculative Fiction, set in the same science fictional universe as Substrate Phantoms. I’ve had stories in a wide variety of magazines and anthologies, most recently the story “Bourbon, Sugar, Grace” at

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I strive to write novels that are both page-turners and at the same time a touch “literary” in their love of and flexibility with language. The most valuable aspect of science fiction for me, aside from the gosh-wow of it, is imagining a better humanity, from the best of what we are and can be, in a deep, wide universe that honors not just the diversity of humanity, but of nature in all its amazing expression.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: See the author’s page on Amazon.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Book People; Austin Public Library.WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT:  Available from Resurrection House Books, AmazonBarnes & Noble, Indigo


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Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

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