QSFer J. Scott Coatsworth has a new lesbian sci fi book out: The Last Run.
Sera is the last runner from Earth, bringing badly needed supplies to the Tharassas Colony across a twenty-five year gulf between the planets. Jas works on a hencha farm to make ends meet, harvesting berries from the semi-sentient plants.
Neither one that knows their lives—and worlds—are about to change forever.
Sera fought with the controls of the damaged starship. The Spin Diver bucked as it hit Tharassas’ atmosphere, waves of heat distorting the view. Her namesake spin was off, causing the ship to wobble and corkscrew, deflecting the heat of entry unevenly.
Sera thanked God for all her months of training as the rattling of the ship made her teeth chatter. The whole craft shook and Sera feared it would break into pieces. “Spin, a little help?”
“I can fire the thrusters to reduce the eccentricity of the ship’s current entry angle.”
“There may not be enough fuel left for a safe landing.”
“If we don’t get this fall under control, there won’t bea landing.” The small bridge was getting warm and sweat beaded her brow. She wiped it off with the back of her sleeve. “Cut it as close as you can.”
“Understood. We’re getting a request from ground control.”
Sera snorted. This place saw a starship once in a generation. “Ground control” was likely an old comm set in a dusty room of whatever passed for the capital city. Bunch of mud huts, most likely. “Put them through.
“Approaching Earthship.” The voice had a strange accent, though it spoke recognizable English. There was a lilt to it… something like the old British English back on Earth. “This is Dayin in Gullytown.”
She growled. “Earth is dead.”
“Dead. War. Plagues. You name it.” She had no patience for this.
“Okay…” Clearly the poor guy didn’t know how to process that. “You’re approaching us at high velocity. Are you in distress?”
“Sorry, Dayin. The ship has some damage.” That was an understatement. “Suggest clearing the landing field to a radius of two kilometers.”
“Two kilometers?” He sounded incredulous. “Mas, you were right. It’s coming right down on top of us.” That last sounded fainter, as if he was covering the comm.
“What?” She didn’t need this right now.
“Are you coming destroy us?” That was directed at her.
Sera grunted. “Not intentionally. Just get everyone as far away from the landing field as you can.” The ship’s thrusters fired, then fired again.
“Affirmative.” Dayin didn’t sound like he believed her. “See you on the ground.”
Fucking backwater world. “Sorry. Can’t talk. See you soon.” Or not.
It was scalding now in the small cabin. She unzipped her top, thankful for the small bit of relief.
This ended one of three ways.
A safe landing in… what was it called? Gullyport?
A hard landing in an unpopulated area.
Or a crash in the middle of this backwater civilization and innocent civilian deaths.
She planned to avoid option three at all costs.
The thrusters fired again and the bucking finally stopped. The ship settled into spin mode, and the heat on the bridge began to dissipate.
Spin’s voice broke the sudden quiet. “Sera, are you okay? Your heart rate is elevated.”
“Thanks, Spin. I’m good now.” From understatement to overstatement. “How much fuel do we have left?”
“Too little for a safe landing.”
“Shit.” The ground below was flying up at them. She had no time.
“Get me to the edge of the landing zone, as far away from the city as you can manage.”
“There’s still not enough fuel for a safe—”
“Just get me there. We’ll burn what we have, and then divert all of our shield power to the underside of the ship five seconds before impact. Is that clear?”
Was it her imagination, or was there a bit of sadness in the ship’s voice? “You okay, Spin?”
There was a long, uncharacteristic pause. “I’m not going to survive this, am I?”
Sera bit her lip, hard. “I… I don’t think so. I’m sorry, Spin.”
An extra second of quiet accentuated the reply. “I will do all I can to save you.” A pause. “It’s been a hell of a ride.”
Sera blinked. she hadn’t expected such a human response from the ship’s computer. “Spin—”
The AI cut her off. “Twenty seconds to impact.” One of the ship’s side thrusters fired and Sera fired the main rockets beneath the ship.
Below, the city, a strange collection of populated ridge lines, was expanding far too quickly as Sera rode a column of fire down toward the red landing field.
“Ten, nine, eight…”
“Seven, six, five, four…”
Tavi, I love you—
The thrusters cut off and Sera was slammed against her chair.
Crash foam filled the cabin.
Spin’s voice was muffled. “Three, two, one.”
Sera blacked out.
Scott lives with his husband Mark in a yellow bungalow in Sacramento. He was indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine. He devoured her library, but as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were.
He decided that if there weren’t gay characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.
A Rainbow Award winning author, he runs Queer Sci Fi, QueeRomance Ink, and Other Worlds Ink with Mark, sites that celebrate fiction reflecting queer reality, and is an associate member of the Science Fiction Writer’s Association (SFWA).
Scott’s Website: https://www.jscottcoatsworth.com/