Aliens Among Us and the Sub Zero Launch Today
In the early days of Science Fiction, alien species lived on every planet. Our sister planet, Mars, was inhabited at various times by little green men, four-armed, monstrous warriors, cephalothoracic beings with faulty immune systems, and very human-like beings with surprising cultural differences. Jupiter had intelligent life. Venus was populated. Every visible star had habitable planets in orbit.
With advances in telescope and dish technology, we know better now. We are, sadly, alone in our planetary system. Most stars with planets have them orbiting either too close (molten rock city) or too far (primordial soup? Sorry, we don’t have a microwave to defrost it.) The universe is absurdly vast and to believe ourselves alone in it seems a terrible arrogance, but the chances of finding our fellow stargazers diminishes over prohibitive distances. While it’s fun for the science fiction writer to speculate about alien cultures even in the modern era, we tend to be more circumspect in our placement of non-human species and less generous in their frequency.
This doesn’t mean we’ve given up on wild cultural speculation. Heaven forbid. We see three solutions to the problem of alien culture scarcity these days. First, the social evolution of humans on this planet still provides a heck of a lot of story fodder (just look at The Hunger Games, or Anne Tenino’s 18% Gray.) Dystopian and false-utopian futures are multiplying and spreading like English ivy right now. (If you’ve ever had English ivy in your backyard, you know what I mean.) Another path current science fiction writers take these days involves human Diaspora–a spreading out of humankind across the galaxy until we lose track of each other, changing in unexpected ways to adapt to new environments and living conditions.
The third? Ah, one of my favorites. Genetically altered humanity. Custom-built humans. Genetic manipulation is here, folks, and while the media wants to make you hysterical and frightened about it, we’re not going to end up with fifty-foot ants tearing down cell towers. The possibility of purposefully altered humanity strikes a chord in me, though, and opens up so many possibilities.
For Gravitational Attraction, I created the Corzin, super-warriors who are the product of careful genetic manipulation and selective breeding. For Vassily the Beautiful, readers got to meet the Silka brothers, all genetic constructs without biological parents, each with unique abilities built into his DNA.
Sub Zero (released 8/19!) contains a race of completely altered humans, almost to the point of being unrecognizable as human. Altered blood chemistry, changes in physiology, the addition of a nictitating eyelid, these were all intended as adaptations to a frigid environment. While their creation was for avaricious and evil purposes, as mine slaves, the dangpo have been free of their creators long enough to develop their own culture and values.
Come join the dangpo and me on our little adventure. Oh, and Aren, too. I suppose he can come along.
M/M Science Fiction Mystery
An AmberPax Forbidden Liaisons Story
“I was enthralled with this masterfully told, perfectly executed tale. The romance and mystery are equally important and go hand-in-hand. There is a harmony to this story that drew me in, comforting and challenging me at the same time. I watched the characters unfold, and marveled at the beauty I discovered on this cold, ice world. Fantastic. A must-read.”--Tom Webb, A Bear on Books
Blurb:Major Aren Dalsgaard's newest assignment is to investigate a series of murders on the frigid planet, Drass, where relations between the Treaty settlers and the natives have taken a nasty turn. A linguist and trained xenologist, Aren should be the ideal Special Investigations officer for the assignment. So what's the problem? Drass is where he died, more than a hundred and twenty years ago.
Sent by his family to the chigyel city, Nyachung finds himself confronted with a murder charge, racial prejudice, and a cryo-revived investigator who claims to be a hero from his grandmother’s generation. Major Dalsgaard could be crazy or he could be lying, but the sincerity in his spring-green eyes disturbs Nyachung more than anything else he encounters in the foreigners’ city.
Confronted with mysterious black boxes and a beautiful yet evasive young man as a prime suspect, Aren hopes he can solve the murders before his fierce sexual attraction to Nyachung gets the better of him…
Thuds and muffled screams came from the lab up ahead, only serving to underscore the sergeant’s anxiety. Aren bulled through the door and skidded to a stop, speechless in shock. Nyachung lay on his back on the gurney, stripped to the waist, arms stretched out to either side and strapped down to extensions. The staff had shoved something soft between his teeth, either to keep him from breaking them or to keep him from screaming too loud, and they had electro-pulse leads attached to his forearms, directly over the venom sacs and spur pads. The shocks from the hookup came in pairs, the first forcibly extending his arm spurs and the second zapping the sac in an attempt to force the venom out.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Aren bellowed.
The tech stared at him, nonplussed. “Getting your venom sample, sir.”
“By torturing him?”
“It’s standard operating procedure, sir.”
“Since when is physical abuse standard procedure in any branch of the service?”
Sergeant Wickstrom gave him a little nudge. “Sir, use of force in the obtaining of information or cooperation is up to the discretion of the facility commander. It’s in the manuals.”
“In the—you must be joking.”
“Afraid not, sir.”
Aren rubbed both hands over his face. “God. Barbaric century.” Then he stalked over to the tech. “Unhook him, please. Not only is this inefficient, it’s inhumane. Do you have any idea, Corporal, how sensitive those venom sacs are?”
The hapless corporal gulped a breath. “I…don’t know, sir.”
“Imagine hooking one of those damn things up to your testicles and then shoving another up your urethra. That should give you some idea.”
The poor tech had turned green. Aren patted his shoulder, not wanting the boy to pass out. “Just turn it off. Unhook him. There’s a better way to do this. Several, actually. You could have just asked him for a sample, but now that he’s a shuddering mess, he’ll need some help.”
While the tech unhooked the leads, Aren went around the gurney undoing straps.
“Sir, you know he’s a murder suspect, right?”
“Oh, yes. Terribly dangerous, I’m sure. Maybe you should stand back. Safety first.” Aren perched hipshot on the edge of the gurney and gathered Nyachung into his arms as he switched to dangpo. “Are you with me, little one?”
“Why are they doing this?” Nyachung tangled both fists in the front of Aren’s jacket, shaking uncontrollably.
“Sh, sh, they want some of your venom. To compare it to the venom in the woman you found. If it’s not your venom, then you didn’t kill her.”
A hoarse sound, more sob than laugh came from the little tale-singer. “They could have said so.”
“Yes, they should have.” Aren held up a collection tube. “Can you do it on your own?”
Nyachung held out one shaking arm, well away from Aren. He curled his fingers, forearm muscles contracting. “I can’t,” he gasped out.
Gently, Aren placed his hand under Nyachung’s elbow. “Will you let me help you? I know we’re strangers and this is in front of others, but it would be better than their way.”
Black eyes gazed up at him, wet with unshed tears of pain. “All right. Do you… Have you done this?”
“I have.” Aren massaged his thumb over the tense forearm muscles a moment. Then he reached around, encircling Nyachung with his arms, partially hiding him from prying eyes. He pressed gently on the pad with his thumb, pushing the arm spur out as one would a cat’s claw. Keeping the pressure constant and the collection tube held over the spur in two fingers, he turned his attention to the venom sac. Besides the obvious places, this was the most sensitive spot on a dangpo male’s body.
He caressed the tender, abused skin, barely holding back the urge to curl forward and kiss the spot where the electro-pulse had been. Nyachung made a sweet, whimpering sound that shot straight to his balls and Aren hoped he was holding the stone-faced expression he was trying for. He began to massage the sac, his thumb describing slow, gentle circles. Nyachung twitched in his arms.
“Easy, little one, easy. As soon as you’re able.”
With a soft cry, Nyachung hid his face against Aren’s chest, his body shuddering with pain as he released his venom. His poor sacs would most likely be tender for days but he had managed enough to fill the tube...