QSFer Mary E. Lowd has a new queer furry/uplift sci fi book out: “Tri-Galactic Trek.”
Join Captain Pierre Jacques and the intrepid crew of the Starship Initiative on their grand journey through the universe. In addition to the loyal dogs and clever cats onboard, meet an Ursine exchange officer and a photosynthetic green otteroid from the planet Cetazed, not to mention the only android in the fleet—an androgynous arctic fox.
In this episodic novel, you will encounter alien races, strange worlds, technological malfunctions, and an all powerful trickster in the form of a Cheshire cat. Get ready for a ride of discovery, awe, and wonder from the Ursa Major Award-winning author of the Otters In Space trilogy.
The starship Initiative glided through space, the technological culmination of centuries of work done by uplifted cats and dogs from Earth. The graceful, swooping lines of the ship’s exterior twinkled with light from within, where the ship’s crew lived their lives. Dogs and cats worked side by side, exploring the universe, searching out other species, and seeking the humans who had left them behind.
Captain Pierre Jacques was a Sphynx cat, and he was grateful from the tips of his pink ears down to the end of his hairless tail that humans had taken the time to uplift his people to sentience before disappearing from the history records. But personally, he couldn’t have cared less what had happened to them afterward. He was a forward looking cat. An explorer. That’s why he’d abandoned his degree in archeology and focused on his career in the Tri-Galactic Navy. He was one of the first feline starship captains, and he had to live up to the honor of commanding the flagship of the fleet.
A beautiful blue sphere hung on the Initiative’s viewscreen like an ornament, a glass bauble to be admired. The blue expanses of the alien world were dotted with emerald chains of islands and frosted with lacy white clouds. Captain Jacques could have stared at the world in peaceful contentment for hours, watching the lacy clouds chase each other, drifting slowly over the oceans and obscuring the island chains. But the Initiative was orbiting this world because they’d received a distress call.
“Open a channel down to the planet,” Captain Jacques ordered. He leaned against the side of his captain’s chair, and the tip of his hairless tail twitched anxiously beside his carefully crossed hind paws.
The Ursine exchange officer at the ship’s helm said, “Yes, Captain,” in her deep, rumbly voice, and with a large, brown-furred paw, she worked the brightly colored buttons on her console.
The image of the blue world disappeared from the main viewscreen and was replaced by the image of a white-furred creature with a round face, long ears, and a very twitchy nose. The creature wore a hooded robe with the hood loose around her shoulders. She looked a great deal like an Earth rabbit would, if humans had uplifted them. Much like how the Ursine exchange officer, Grawf, looked a good deal like an Earth bear.
Captain Jacques stood up from his chair and took several steps toward the main viewscreen. His tail swung jauntily behind him, and he said, “I am Captain Pierre Jacques of the Tri-Galactic Navy Starship Initiative. My crew and I have come to your world in answer to a distress call. May we be of service? What is the nature of your planet’s distress?”
The rabbit-like figure twitched her nose again, and her left ear bent in the middle, flopping forward. “You are on a starship?” she asked. More nose twitches. “Orbiting our world?”
“Yes,” Captain Jacques said, a purr rumbling deep in his throat. There was something deeply satisfying about making first contact with a new alien species. Scans of the world below had shown that this world did have space-faring technology, but the lack of satellites and outposts in the rest of the star-system suggested that they hadn’t had it for very long.
“The Tri-Galactic Navy is a peaceful, exploration-focused fleet of scientists and diplomats,” Captain Jacques explained to the alien bunny. “We’ve been exploring the three galaxies clustered together in this quadrant of space, and sentient creatures from many worlds have joined our union.” Here the Sphynx cat captain gestured with a pink-skinned paw at Grawf, the Ursine exchange officer. “We have rules for our interactions with less technologically developed species, but our scans suggest that your world has developed the basics of spaceflight. And if it’s within our abilities, we’d like to assist with whatever problem you’re facing.”
The rabbit alien muttered something, presumably to someone standing just outside the view of the screen. Then she turned back toward the captain and said, “I am Kytha of the planet Hoppalong. Our technology is the problem. We have a fleet of our own — starships, as you say — but they’ve broken down, and we need to fix them. Soon. Quickly. Right away.”
Captain Jacques glanced toward the back of the bridge and skewed an ear interrogatively at his head engineer, Lieutenant Jordan LeGuin, an orange tabby wearing techno-focal goggles. The orange tabby nodded, and then Captain Jacques turned to face the alien rabbit again. “I’d be happy to send a team down to look at your vessels, to see if we can help. In return, would you be willing to send a delegation of your leaders up to my vessel? To learn about the Tri-Galactic Union and discuss whether your planet, Hoppalong, would like to join?”
The rabbit’s other ear flopped forward, and after a moment’s consideration, she nodded. “Yes, that would be acceptable.”
Once they’d agreed on the logistics of both missions — the diplomatic summit and the technological aide — Captain Jacques ordered the communications channel closed. As soon as the Hoppalong’s face was replaced on the view screen with her peaceful blue world, Grawf rumbled from her station at the helm, “Captain, you should know that I’m getting some weird gravitational readings from the surrounding space.”
Captain Jacques approached the helm and looked at the console. The display showed the gravitational lines around the planet Hoppalong, depicted in a cheerful shade of orange. As Grawf had said, there was an unusual fluctuation, almost a pulse or a flicker, in the lines, as if there were another highly massive object nearby, distorting the gravity field.
“It almost looks like the pattern we’d see if Hoppalong had a small moon…” Captain Jacques traced the lines on the console with a carefully extended claw. “…except only if that moon were somehow popping in and out of existence.”
Mary E. Lowd writes stories and collects creatures. She’s had six novels and more than 150 short stories published so far. Her work has won an Ursa Major Award, two Cóyotl Awards, and two Leo Literary Awards. Meanwhile, she’s collected a spouse, two offspring, a bevy of cats and dogs, and the occasional fish. The stories, creatures, and Mary live together in a crashed spaceship disguised as a house, hidden in a rose garden in Oregon. Read more of Mary’s stories atwww.deepskyanchor.com.