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New Release: Emergent Mars – Russell Klyford

Emergent Mars - Russell Klyford

QSFer Russell Klyford has a new queer sci-fi book out (lesbian, non-binary): Emergent Mars.

A hard science fiction novel that raises the question: How will humanity free itself from all the mistakes of its past as it expands into the solar system?

Mars, once humanity’s new frontier, is now in a tight situation. After nearly twenty-five years of colonization efforts, a unique society composed of both humans and sapient robots called mecha, is emerging in the dozen settlements dotted around the Red Planet; a society that looks to a progressive, post-capitalist, post-patriarchal future. But their peaceful way of life of equality, participation, and self-determination, is under threat following a rebellion and tragic massacre that set off a series of events, which will test their resolve and resourcefulness to bring about independence from Earth.

Ailia Bax, a gay, burnt-out war correspondent, treks across the planet, interviewing its inhabitants, trying to come to terms with the cultural and economic developments that are unfolding. She finds herself not only captivated by the stark, monumental beauty of the planet, but caught up in the complex political situation and must make choices that will shape her life forever and possibly determine the fate of all those who call Mars home.

Get It on the Author Website


Excerpt

Oh, I forgot to mention. The name’s Reinhardt Gurooman, but you can call me Rhino if you like, most people do.” He puts his right fist forward in greeting. While he is high on my interview list, I hadn’t expected to meet him on my first sol.

I return the greeting by bumping my gloved fist with his. Our suits exchange personal contact details and messaging protocols so we can stay in touch anywhere on the planet and near space through the rednet. “Pleased to meet you, Rhino. I’m curious, is Gurooman, a traditional name?”

“Mostly. It’s an Anglicised version of the word for Old Man Kangaroo that my Australian First Nations Yugembeh-Turrbal-Yagera ancestors used. I believe the original word was guruman, kuruman, or gromun, depending on which language and dialect you pick,” he says proudly. “I grew up in Ipswich, a city in South-East Queensland. Did a little bit of this, then a little bit of that, before ending up here on an alien planet. How about you? Is Bax an American name?”

I shake my head, forgetting that the movement doesn’t translate through my helmet. “Not originally. My ancestors came from Kent in England, but I grew up in Portland, Oregon.” Feeling self-conscious, I laugh and add, “… before ending up here on an alien planet.”

He chuckles too. “Well then, let’s get you and the other newbies to the transfer rover,” he says, cocking a thumb towards the landing field.

He takes off down the incline I had wandered up, and I turn to follow him back to the level ground of the landing field, making sure to take small shuffling steps so I don’t overbalance in the light gravity. As I troop back down the slope, there’s a squeaking sound through my boots with each step. The sound transports me back to my childhood; running down a dune at the beach with the summer sun overhead and squeaky sand underfoot. It’s a strange feeling to have the two experiences superimpose over each other across so much time and distance. Not déjà vu, but instead, a blending of recollection and immediate reality.

The activity around the shuttle continues as habitat supplies and equipment are unloaded by humans and mecha. Martian mecha are unlike Earth robots. Some wag once commented that they look like versions of the old cartoon robot Bender Rodríguez, only without the hedonistic attitude and foul mouth. At about 5 feet 7 inches (171 cm) they have roughly cylindrical bodies, two legs, two articulated arms with three grippers each, a sensor strip wrapping across the front of their domed head and a light strip that goes up over the centreline of their head to display emotions with different colors, like an electronic mood ring. Two subtly grilled speakers at the chin enable conversation with humans.

Off in a corner of the field, along with a cluster of shuttle support buildings for repair and maintenance, catering, ground support, baggage handling, and so on, a solitary gauzy wind sock flutters limply in the light extraterrestrial breeze; its support pole topped by a futuristic looking anemometer and wind vane.

Rhino leads our group to an initially sturdy-looking vehicle parked near a large rock outcrop on the opposite side of the landing field. The transfer rover appears as a super-wide cross between an airfield Rapid Intervention Vehicle and a CASSPIR, one of those old South African mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles that they used for transporting troops. It’s riding on big, bulbous metal-mesh tires with a front cab seating four, and a rear cabin that will hold over twenty passengers and associated equipment. Rhino warns us it isn’t pressurized, so we stay in our suits.

The vehicle is reflective greenish-yellow, apparently to make it easier to see in low lighting conditions and during dust storms. I’d been informed by the orientation material to be aware of this and to keep my eyes out for rovers. Not only because they’re big, dangerous machines that can run you over if you aren’t careful, but so I would know what to look for if I got caught out in the open and needed either shelter or transport. Under the side windows on both sides of the front cabin is emblazoned the name WADENBEIßER.

What strikes me most about the vehicle however, is how beaten up it is. It looks as if it’s been in one, no, several major accidents that have variously twisted the chassis causing a misalignment of the rear wheels, dented in the cabin roof so it’s out of square and leans to the right slightly, scraped and scuffed nearly every visible panel on the vehicle. I understand now why the machine isn’t pressurized. There’s no way anything is aligned closely enough to create a seal. I shrug inwardly, it’s probably just an old workhorse they’ll be scrapping soon, and since none of us are dignitaries or all that important, they’ve kept the proper vehicles sensibly garaged.

As the rest of the passengers are climbing into the back of the rover, Rhino draws me aside. “Would you like to come ride with me up front?”

I give him an enthusiastic, two thumbs up.

Once we have clambered into the cab I notice there’s a fine smattering of red dust on his helmet, shoulders, and arms. It swirls up in the lazy 0.38 G and thin air as he moves, before spreading delicately across the seat and dash which, along with the rest of the cabin, already has a thick coating of the stuff. I am about to make a smart comment regarding the messy work conditions, when I see I have a similar fine layer on my suit and my movements are also adding to the cabin’s shabby appearance. Instead, I turn to him. “Calf-biter?”


Author Bio

Russell Klyford is a pseudonym. The person behind Russell Klyford is a sixty something science fiction buff, born and raised in Brisbane, Queensland and currently living in the bush capital of Australia, Canberra, with his wife and surrounded by his native plant garden.

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