Thomas K. Carpenter is a full-time urban fantasy / magical academy author. His bestselling, multi-series universe, The Hundred Halls, has over 28 books and counting. His books focus on fantastic families, magical academies, and epic adventures. All the books can be found at major retailers and directly from the author at In addition to his extensive novel publishing, his short fiction can be found at Galaxy's Edge, Audible Plus, and Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, among other places. He's also edited multiple anthologies and written tie-in fiction for gaming companies. He lives in Buena Vista, Colorado.

Mirror Shards edited by Thomas K. Carpenter

Explore the edge of augmented reality in thirteen tales from thirteen fantastic authors. When the digital world collides with our real one, bringing all its problems and benefits, mankind will have to relearn what it means to be human.

In this glimpse of possible futures, you will go on the hunt to track down a fugitive on the other side of the known Universe. Learn the price of ubiquitous knowledge, or find peace and understanding in the absence of it. Dive deep into the ocean to avert a kidnapping using only the tools at hand. Experience new realities underwritten by an alien love of entertainment. Find hidden truths contained within our smallest gestures. Hide something so valuable, it would drive a man to crime. Or find that sometimes, what it doesn't hide is what endangers us most.


The metaverse is coming! I chose this one because it's a little too close to where we are now, as the digital and meatspace worlds start to overlap. Thirteen authors explore augmented reality in this anthology, a glimpse at where we might be the day after tomorrow. – J. Scott Coatsworth



  • •"The stories in this anthology all have augmented reality (AR) as a common element integral to each story. However, how each author incorporates AR into their story is as varied as the authors themselves. Carpenter has amassed a diverse collection of highly entertaining and thought provoking AR stories in "Mirror Shards, Volume 1". As with all good anthologies, I now have another list of talented writers whose works I can explore further. I look forward to the next installment of this series. Highly recommended for all sci-fi fans."

    – Reader review
  • •"With Mirror Shards, Carpenter has managed to put together a satisfying collection of science fiction writing that comprises a pleasing range of topics, ideas and literary styles. A professional and interesting anthology, it should be enjoyed by both regular readers of speculative fiction and those who like to dabble from time to time."

    – Reader review
  • •"Recently finished enjoying this surprisingly excellent anthology - surprising because I was initially concerned that the "augmented reality" theme might limit the stories to a tired range of cyberpunk cliches. Yeah, I was wrong. The contributors all find different takes on the subject, and the stories are finely crafted with several being truly excellent. ("Music of the Spheres" by Ken Liu, "Stage Presence, Baby" by E.M. Schadegg, and "The Watcher" by George Walker are my personal favorites.) Everything is covered from near-future "familiar world" SF to far-future, post-alien-invasion space opera."

    – Reader review



From Ken Liu's Music of the Spheres

One time, when my little sister Lucy was almost four, she found a saran-wrapped half of a lemon in the fridge.

"Oh, I've never seen a yellow orange before!" She grabbed it and got ready to bite into it.

As the big brother, I was supposed to teach her about the dangers of the world. I explained to her that the "yellow orange" was not for eating. "You're really going to regret that."

But Lucy was skeptical. I had to show her how I had arrived at my conclusion.

I pulled off my glasses and put them on her, even though Dad had warned me that Lucy was too young to stare at augmented display screens.

I laughed. The glasses hung precariously on Lucy's tiny ears and button nose. She looked cartoonishly adorable.

Her pupils dilated as they focused on the ghostly layer of text and video now floating over everything she saw. I had set it to show content from The Children's Encyclopedia, and I knew what she would see as she turned to look at the lemon: the semi-transparent, looping video of a young woman making a face as she licked a slice of lemon, and scrolling text: 5% of lemon juice is citric acid. "That's almost five times the acid content of orange juice," I said, showing off my command of mathematics. "So that means it's extremely sour."

Lucy took off the glasses and promptly bit into the lemon, and the expression on her face was priceless. (Of course I was the one who got in trouble later with my parents.)

For Lucy, reason would always come second to experience.