QSFer Sandra C. Stixrude has a new sci fi book out:
An inhabited planet is not what an interplanetary mining company hopes to find while in search of rare mineral deposits, but the low-tech natives should be won over by a few ‘miracles’, right? Emily Nandi, the mining company’s legally mandated xenologist, isn’t so sure. The planet’s social structures are complex, fascinating and frustrating – she advocates research and caution rather than the seat-of-the-pants first contact the company president wants.
Investigator Shadow is convinced ghosts are watching him until a fellow investigator disappears, plucked from his harduk’s back without a trace. When he reappears at the city gates, naked, half-frozen and ill, he brings back a harrowing tale of strangers on a ship high above the planet.
From this shaky beginning, suspicion and misunderstanding fuel one culture-clash driven disaster after another, punctuated by apocalyptic prophesies from the oracle, Telluris. This is no way to get to know one’s long-lost cousins from Earth.
Book Six in the Anchorage Series
The waking cycle proceeded, as always, with the speed of half-frozen syrup. Emily knew perfectly well she wasn’t ‘essential personnel’ when the crew emerged from jump sleep. The accelerated cycle drugs were expensive and couldn’t be wasted on her. Still, it irritated her to be one of the last ones awake, always the last one to straggle onto the bridge, where she would need to ask a hundred questions to catch up.
She couldn’t decipher any of the garbled words yet in her half-waking state, but an unusual amount of chatter came over the comm system.
Leon would tell her. No matter how tired he was from the jump, he would always stop by her console and lean against her chair to fill her in. Then he’d stretch until his spine popped and say, “Gotta catch some z’s, Em. Dead on my feet,” before he staggered away to his rest.
Leon Kosciusko was the Venture’s only jump pilot. While the rest of them slumbered through faster-than-light travel, he stayed awake, fought the currents, and kept the ship together. It might have been less of a strain on him if he’d had a relief pilot, but jump jockeys were a precious, costly commodity. The company wasn’t willing to finance more than one.
Emily drifted further toward waking. The lights of the cubicle grew clearer, and suddenly the comm chatter resolved into distinct words.
“…medic up here for Leon! Now!” Robbie roared from the bridge.
“Already on their way, McPherson.” Dr. Liu’s calm, professional voice implied that Robbie should be calm as well. “They’re coming down the tube.”
Something’s terribly wrong.
Their in-system pilot, Robbie McPherson, was a veteran of the Kohlite Marines and not easily shaken.
Emily forced her legs out of her padded sleeping web and told her dispenser she wanted coffee, but her words were still too slurred.
“Please restate,” the annoyingly polite CG voice requested.
“C-O-F-F-E-E,” Emily spelled out in irritation. She had to get fully awake.
“Professor Nandi?” Dr. Liu’s voice spoke directly into her cubicle. “I’m showing increased vitals, please check in.”
“I’m up, Doc, I’m up,” Emily muttered. With fingers that felt like sausages, she punched in the sequence to let medical know she was awake and relatively alert.
As soon as she could trust herself to stand, she pulled on a coverall and deck boots and propelled herself down the zero-gravity tube to the bridge.
Leon has to be all right.
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We’ll be honest here – Sandra is the other half of Angel Martinez’s rather odd brain. She writes the mainstream Science Fiction while Angel writes the steamy stuff.
A native Delawarean, Sandra has written science fiction for nearly twenty years, with her first story published in 2006. She concentrates on writing distant-planet science fiction liberally spiced with culture clashes and tilted social norms, suitable for any reader old enough to reach the starship controls.
She has one son, one husband, and two cats, graduated from the local university with a degree in English Lit, and worked at various and sundry jobs while writing. She recently reached the point where she can write full time and is overjoyed at being able to concentrate on imaginary things.
Email: [email protected]