QSFer Gideon Marcus has a new queer YA sci-fi adventure out (bi, poly), The Kitra Saga book 2: Sirena.
One starship, six friends, 10,000 lives in the balance
Young captain-for-hire Kitra Yilmaz has gotten her first contract: escort the mysterious Princess of Atlántida beyond the Frontier and find her a new world. It’s a risky job, fraught with the threat of pirates, dangerous squatters, and rising romantic tensions.
Still, Kitra and her crew are up for anything — until they find a lush world, perfect for settlement…with an enormous ghost ship already in orbit.
What secret does the crippled vessel hide? And is Kitra ready to take responsibility for its precious cargo?
Praise for the Kitra Saga:
“[The Kitra Saga] has a lot to offer: a diverse crew, convincing alien worlds, and an overall sense of adventure and companionship — with all the ups and downs it comes with.” — Robin Rose Graves, Parallel Worlds Magazine
“Kitra is successful in providing a compelling action/adventure tale while maintaining an emotional drive that proves to be the heart of the story… the reader is bound to fall in love with the characters and the relationships that develop along the way.” — Dark Matter Magazine
“How close are we going to get?” Peter asked. He tried to keep his tone casual, but I heard the edge of nervousness.
“Close enough to know what’s going on,” I said simply. Then added quickly with a glance at Sirena, “If that’s alright with you.”
“I want to solve the mystery, too. Marta, is he still dead?”
“The ship, darling. Ships are ‘he’ are they not?”
“She,” Fareedh murmured.
“Neither,” I said, a little too loudly. Peter suppressed a chuckle.
“Quite,” Sirena said after the briefest of pauses. “How is the ship?”
“I’m able to get a better map of emissions from here, though Peter would be better at explaining what they mean.”
“Right,” Peter said. He did something, and the bogey filled the screen. It was painted in a muted network of colors, mostly hoops that girdled the vessel. “There’s still power being generated. You can see the purple glow along the axis down at that one end. It’s being transmitted throughout the vessel, too. But if that engine’s as big as I think it is, it’s putting out too little energy to be in anything but standby mode.” Focusing on work had steadied his voice, or maybe a powered- down ship was less threatening.
“Oh, this is interesting,” I heard Fareedh murmur.
“What’s up?” I asked.
He was running a hand through his hair, one eyebrow raised. “If we can get close enough, or maybe inside, I can query their ship’s sayar. It’s got a public access channel.”
“You can’t do it from here?”
He shook his head. “Signal’s too weak. I can tell a connection can be made, but I can’t make one.”
I frowned. I hadn’t thought of actually boarding the thing. “How would we get in?”
Peter walked up and put a hand on my seat, the other pointing at the rainbow schematic in the Window.
“Ships this big usually have a dock or bay for tenders on the axis. It’s probably not on this end of the bogey given the power paths. We’d need to go to the front.”
I swiveled in my chair to look up at him, then to the rest of my friends in turn. It was too big a decision to make by myself. “Do we do this?” I asked.
Marta nodded without hesitation. “I think we have to check it out. If they’ve got a rightful claim, we need to confirm it. If they’re in trouble, we have to render assistance under the Laws of Space.” There were nods and rumbles of agreement.
I turned back to the Window, considering the bogey one last time. I’d deliberately put Majera behind the cylinder in the same orbit on instinct. It’s much faster to dock with something passive when you’re coplanar.
I took the sticks and gave it a try. It was trickier than I’d thought. I handled the orbital change just fine, but as we passed under the mystery ship, I muffed the nudge back into its orbit, ending up slightly above the thing. Now it was gaining on us, looming closer and closer. Lord, the thing was enormous! I kept my cool and nudged the
thrusters, spiraling in just ahead of the bogey. It was like playing tag with a hover bus. Finally, sweat on my forehead, I managed to “park” Majera in orbit just in front of the cylinder, maybe 100 meters away.
The bogey was an array of semicircles from here, the sun half-illuminating all of the raised surfaces. There were no external lights to guide us. It was only then that I realized how quiet everything had gotten. I let out my breath in a gusty exhale and heard the rest follow suit, followed by a nervous, high-pitched laugh that could have been Marta or Peter.
“Well, here we are,” I said. “Are we going to have to put on suits and leap the rest of the way?”
“Are you serious?” That was Sirena, surprise heightening her accent.“
“No problem,” Peter said with a wry tinge to his words. “We do this all the time. You just load Pinky into the airlock, evacuate the air, and shoot him at the center.”
“What happens when he goes ‘boooiiiinnnnnnnng’?” Marta asked.
“What happens when I go ‘splaaaat’?” Pinky replied, but he flushed an amused salmon color.
“I don’t think we’ll have to do any spacewalking,” Fareedh said calmly. “I’ve got a strong signal here. I think I can query their ship’s sayar and get it to open up.”
I looked at him in puzzlement. “Aren’t there security measures to keep that from happening?”
“Oh, sure,” he said, smiling with a mysterious air. Then he grinned more broadly. “Actually, defensive protocols aren’t very robust on civilian ships. It’s not like they plan to repel boarders like in the old wet navies. And anyway…” he trailed off. Slim fingers played over his console and his eyes narrowed in concentration. “Yeah, I kind of expected this. The bogey’s in emergency stand-by mode.”
“Could that ship be, I don’t know, hibernating?” I asked.
He shook his head, the short ponytail waggling. “That’d look different. The ship’s sayar is completely open to external control, no defensive protocols at all, like it restarted from scratch.” Fareedh looked fixedly at me. “I think something happened to the ship.”
“That makes sense with what I’m seeing, too,” Peter chimed in.
“What little power there is isn’t being distributed evenly. There are several middle decks that look cut off.”
The sweat was clammying my underarms. What had we gotten ourselves into?
“So you can…” I coughed, cleared my throat. “You can cycle their lock so we can slide in?” I asked.
Fareedh nodded. “Yeah, I have full control.”
Deep breath. Then, “Okay. Trigger their running lights if they’ve got any. If nothing explodes, I guess we’re going in.”
Hugo Finalist Gideon Marcus, Author of the Kitra saga.
Three time Hugo Finalist Gideon Marcus is the founder of Journey Press, an independent publisher focused on unusual and diverse speculative fiction. He also runs the time machine project, Galactic Journey. A professional space historian, he is a member of the American Astronautical Society’s history committee.
In 2019, he edited Rediscovery: Science Fiction by Women (1958-1963) a seminal anthology of some of the best works of science fiction’s Silver Age. His most recent works, Kitra and Sirena, comprise books one and two of The Kitra Saga, a YA space adventure featuring themes of isolation, teamwork, and hope, and starring a queer protagonist of color.
Gideon lives in San Diego County with his writer/editor wife, Janice, and their polymath artist daughter, Lorelei…along with a cat, a snake, and an immense library. He is currently hard at work on Hyvilma, third book in the Kitra Saga.