Felice Picano has a new queer sci-fi book out: Dryland’s End. This is a rerelease.
Five thousand years in the future, life itself is in jeopardy!
A rebellion of intelligent Cybernetic servants has left the Females of the galaxy virtually sterile, crippling the controlling political body – the Matriarchy. The race is on to find a solution, but will it be enough to save the Matriarchy as other galactic authorities attempt to dominate them using sabotage and all-out war?
Dryland’s End is Felice Picano’s science fiction adventure for the new millennium. The novel touches on many of today’s most controversial subjects, such as interracial relationships, gender conflicts, gender identity, and same-sex pairings-and views them with a lens toward the future.
First published in 1995, This new edition features a foreword by the author.
The epic scale of Dryland’s End, has been rewarded with two follow-ups. The “City on a Star” trilogy carries on with The Betrothal at Usk (Oct 2021) and A Bard on Hercular (Spring 2022).
Ay’r was in an almost-empty soft-lounge in Cygnus-Port, lapping a Soma-Stelezine bar and gassing about the N’Kiddim and their tiny planet with a fellow Species Ethnologist, when the message repeated on the freestanding holo.
“Am I bizarre? Or is that you the Matriarchy’s paging?” Xell-I asked. “Hold on,” Ay’r said and listened.
The Matriarchal Council requests the privilege of a Meeting with the mother of Ay’r Kerry Sanqq’, full ident. unknown, last-known residence listed as the University for Species Harmony upon Sobieski IX. Please present yourself at any MC station for expenses-paid. two-
way, full holocommunication.
“They’re looking for my mother.” Ay’r was amazed.
“Problem with that?” Xell-I asked. “She’s not a sociopath or something?”
“Worse than that,” Ay’r said. “She’s been dead for centuries.”
“Your father will take the call. He probably already has. Cygnus-Port is a long comm. delay from the Center Worlds.”
“Forget it, Xell. He’s been gone for centuries, too.”
“Sweetness!” the sleek and chicly garbed Hume-Delphinid slid against Ay’r all of a sudden. “If I knew you were” – for an instant, he wondered if she’d be cruel enough to say “motherless”! But no, she finished – “an orphan!”
“Then you would what?” Ay’r asked. “You’ve already done everything an interspecies female could possibly do to bring me pleasure.”
“I’d have been nicer,” Xell-I cooed.
“I’m not an orphan. At least I don’t think so. Although, admittedly the last I heard from my father, I was still in Neonatal Education and Development. I think I’d better make that comm. It sounds like some sort of Cpm screw-up.”
“I saw a holo-comm. station in B-lounge,” Xell-I said. “And when you come back” – she batted her huge Icthyxalmic eyes at him – “I promise I’ll be mother, father, your whole Eve-damned pod to you!”
“You just want me to wear me out sexually, then have me leak something about the N’Kiddim Smalling Rite,” Ay’r teased. “But you’re going to have to wait until I publish.”
“Motherless bastard!” she now said, but Ay’r just laughed.
Ay’r found the holo-comm. station easily and, still holding the Soma-Stelezine bar, dialed. He had never before used one of the expensive Inter. Gal. Comm.s and was glad the MC would take the charges. He was surprised by how rapidly it worked. After only a tissue of static, the other screen materialized a holo of the Matriarchal Council logo, which was replaced by a live holo of a handsome woman about 500 years old, dressed in the MC uniform.
“State your business with the Matriarchal Council,” she said.
“I’m Ay’r Kerry Sanqq’.”
She looked confused.
“A holo-comm. here on Cygnus-Port was paging my mother.”
“Oh!” she said and then, “That’s a Secured Line.”
Immediately, the holo-comm. station he had stepped into sealed itself with a whoosh. Another first for Ay’r.
He was just thinking about what was going on here when another MC logo replaced the woman and a far younger woman – say, 150 or so – in the tight, long-skirted high-shouldered uniform of MC Security, showed. She looked at him licking the Soma-Stelezine bar and half smiled, then said, “It’s your mommy we’re looking for.”
“My mommy’s dead,” he said.
“How long ago?”
“At my birth,” he said with some embarrassment.
“Truly? Then if we did a quick full-neuron memory scan of you, it still wouldn’t show what she looked like.”
“I doubt it.” Why did the MC want to know what she looked like? “What’s this all about?”
“MC business. Hold!” She was replaced by the MC logo, then returned again.
“I’m requested to have you transport here.”
“I’m at Cygnus-Port. Where’s ‘here’?”
“Regulus Prime, of course!”
Reg. Prime: a.k.a. Wicca World, ruling planet of the Matriarchy!
“We’ll put you on an MC Fast.”
“But why?” Ay’r asked.
“Her Matriarchy, Wicca Eighth, wishes to speak to you.”
“To me? About my mother? This is bizarre!”
“It’s listed as a High Request,” she said, meaning an order.
“Her Matriarchy has been told all that I know?”
“All that you just told me. We can arrange a Fast from Cygnus-Port,” she said.
If anyone could, Her Matriarchy could. Ay’r wondered what Important Woman he would be bumping off the faster-than-light transport. Whoever she was, she would be in snit to hear it was a mere male doing it.
“It’s JoHanna by me,” he said slangily. “I’ve heard a lot about it, but I’ve never been to Wicca World.” No surprise to her: few males had.
“Meet your Fast at Cygnus-Port in one hour Sol Rad. We’re assigning you a guide to brief you.”
“A few current events.” She switched gears. “Might I offer a fashion tip! Codpieces are offensive here on Reg. Prime. Very loose trousers are suggested. Oh, and Her Matriarchy may or may not be amused by your fondness for drugged desserts. I’d think that over before you arrive.”
“Give my love to your spouses,” he signed off.
The MC Security bond broke on the booth, and Ay’r walked back to the lounge, where Xell-I had fallen into a state of deep contemplation.
He whistled high once. She slowly came to enough to feel him kissing her, caressing her vestigial dorsal lightly.
“How about a raincheck, Xell? I’m off to Wicca World.” And in case she still didn’t get the point. “On a Fast.”
“How too bizarre,” she uttered and fell back into musing.
Fifty minutes later, Ay’r was gliding across the surface of a wide corridor on a conveyance leading to the Fasts. He’d been checked through MC Security once, waved through three more times, and would evidently encounter several more of the statuesque females before he was ushered into the transport. Next to him, a squat Cyber Carryall was using its six arms to rearrange all of Ay’r’s luggage.
“Leave it. It’s fine now,” he told the Carryall.
“There is a more efficient manner of lading,” its mechanical voice replied.
The Carryall had been hurried in Ay’r’s rooms, and it had complained all the way here that it could pack the load better: Ay’r’s traveling baggage plus twenty-five differently sized objects containing all of his time with the N’Kiddim.
Felice Picano is the author of more than thirty books of poetry, fiction, memoirs, nonfiction, and plays. His work has been translated into many languages and several of his titles have been national and international bestsellers. He is considered a founder of modern gay literature along with the other members of the Violet Quill. Picano also began and operated the SeaHorse Press and Gay Presses of New York for fifteen years. His first novel was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Since then he’s been nominated for and/or won dozens of literary awards.
A five-time Lambda Literary Award nominee, Picano’s books include the best-selling novels The Lure, The Book of Lies, Like People in History, and Looking Glass Lives as well as the literary memoirs Men Who Loved Me and A House on the Ocean, A House on the Bay. Along with Andrew Holleran, Robert Ferro, Edmund White, and George Whitmore, he founded the Violet Quill to promote and increase the visibility of gay authors and their works. In 2009, the Lambda Literary Foundation awarded Picano its Lifetime Achievement/Pioneer Award.
Originally from New York, the author now lives in Los Angeles.