Lilith Frost has a new gay space opera out: Trials on the Hard Way Home.
In this groundbreaking work of science fiction, one man attempts to return to Earth after years of living in an off-planet structure.
Twenty-five-year-old Bryan is a student scientist living off-planet with the two men he loves. But when he senses that danger is about to befall his adopted home, Bryan wants to evacuate. Convincing one of his lovers to board a spaceship toward home, Bryan is soon confronted with the truth about his life. His journey through the void of space not only exposes his current troubled relationships but also threatens to uncover the secrets about his past. Now, Bryan must finally come to terms with who he is and how his origins might put his lovers in danger.
A story of three polyamorous lovers and one man’s secrets, Trials on the Hard Way Home is an intense and dramatic journey embracing the best in science fiction and LGBTQ+ literature.
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He smelled smoke, and that’s how he knew something was going on. He put on his shoes quickly so he could slip outside with binoculars to look down the street.
“You’re being silly,” David said to him as he began walking toward the front door. “Someone left their burners on. Something’s burning. That’s all.” By now, Bryan knew there were things you dismissed, things you learned to live with, and things from which you run. It wasn’t a shock that David refused to believe that the fires that had been burning in other towns would inevitably make their way to their neighborhood, Starton. Pearway was a newer off-planet structure built in space for human habitation and had had many technical difficulties in their time living there. Fires were somewhat common. There was no end of theories about these fires: maybe this structure can’t handle the terraforming that was done to it, maybe someone is setting them in order to get everyone to leave, maybe the businesses who established the structure in the first place do it for profit, maybe it’s a cleansing by humans, by nature, by God, by time travel, by monsters, or just bad luck. They would seem to start in areas with more troubles. That’s why David would never think they were coming to Starton, a charming upper middle class university town. David sat on the sofa reading a vintage paperback novel as Bryan crept outside. David seemed entirely unperturbed by the smell of smoke, but Bryan could not share his sense of tranquility. Life on Pearway had been too tumultuous in his experience to dismiss this.
At the street there was nothing that he could see, but the smell of smoke was strong. He went up the stairs to his building’s roof and he found himself met with quite a different view. He didn’t need the binoculars to see this: It seemed like a wave of fire was headed their way, blanketing large swaths of the town. It was maybe a few miles out. It was dark, being a little after midnight, and what had seemed like clouds in the sky at first glance were now obviously massive plumes of smoke. The smoke hadn’t yet made its way over to cover the sky above his own home, but it wasn’t too far away. They had been seeing news stories about fires catching in neighborhoods around Pearway; their state-of-the-art, off-planet home; but they were contained, and it hadn’t seemed to have happened since then for months. What he was looking at now was like the end of the world: Fire reaching from side to side of the horizon, coming for him. A panic stirred in him. He made his way back down from the roof to their flat.
“Where is our luggage?” Bryan said to David as he threw open the bedroom’s closet door and grabbed a few garments. He began sloppily folding them, and then he went for the dresser. “Can you get our bags?” David became a bit more alert at this flurry of activity. Bryan was not the type to get easily excited about anything. Honestly, it was a shock that he even went outside to check on the smell at all.
“They’re, erm… in the hall closet. I’ll get them.” David walked away to retrieve the suitcases. Bryan had created a small and untidy stack of clothes and necessary toiletries. He had also gathered a small trinket box of sentimental objects. That was it, it was all they would need. David came around the corner with three large suitcases and set them in front of Bryan.
“I’ll go get the others. I don’t mind which one you choose, but you know I favor the leather. Oh gosh, this hasn’t been balmed in a while. I hope it won’t crack.” he said, fingering the seams. “And I hope it doesn’t get wet!”
Bryan stared at the luggage. “David, no. We can take one bag each. Like, a backpack or a small duffel. None of this bulky stuff can come. Please hurry. Get maybe three or four outfits, some underwear, and deodorant or whatever. We have to go now.” David seemed paralyzed by the restriction. “Please,” urged Bryan. “There’s a huge fire coming this way and we have to go now. Just a few things you can move around easily in, and let’s go.”
As David was collecting his things, Bryan was noticing how quiet it was outside. There should be people running down the streets, shouting, cars screeching by, maglevs running at full speed, but there was nothing. No one was on the streets. He hadn’t seen any neighbors in their hallway as he was checking out the fire. The panic inside of him was growing. He didn’t really know their neighbors that well. Brennan was the one who knew all the neighbors, their friends, their parents, their pets, and their favorite colors. Brennan would know who to talk to and who to check on, but he wasn’t here. He was away with his brother doing mechanic work on a large, long haul ship. He would be gone for a month to four months at a time on those godforsaken jobs, and neither Bryan nor David liked that. He was supposed to be gone for two months for this job in particular, but he had called and said it was running long and would be another two weeks. By now, Bryan and David knew two more weeks meant another month, and that was already three weeks ago. If it were only a week from now, Brennan would be here, and they would all be together for this; for what seemed like the end. His absence was felt strongly at this moment because Bryan knew what would happen next. Thankfully, before he could begin with a fit of despair, David announced he was packed. The oxblood leather backpack was fancy for someone running for their life, but it was obvious David didn’t understand that that’s what they were doing. Bryan looked at his face and assessed for any emotion resembling fear. David looked concerned but oblivious. Bryan envied that.
Lilith Frost is a science fiction author who lives in the deep south and loves fast-paced stories with complicated characters.