QSFer Gideon Marcus has a new queer YA sci-fi book out (bisexual): Hyvilma.
A damaged ship, a dying shipmate–can she save both?
Under attack! The flight back to Hyvilma should have been the easy part for the crew of the Majera–until a deadly ambush by pirates sends them reeling through hyperspace. Now getting to the planet in time is the only way Captain Kitra Yilmaz can save her dying friend.
But landing at Hyvilma may be impossible: war has broken out on the Frontier.
With illustrations by Hugo Finalist Lorelei Esther.
“Two. One. Egress.” The last came out a hiss.
Nothing. No gut-wrench. No cramps. Astonishment quickly gave way to fear. We must not have left Jump!
Panicked words formed in my mouth, cut off abruptly as the Window came on, revealing a brilliant starfield. A small, violet-and-white globe of a world lay just to the right of center. Hyvilma, I recognized.
Fareedh was out of his chair, clapping Peter on the back. “That was beautiful, man. I didn’t feel a thing!”
“I’m getting better at this,” he replied with a hint of pride.
Sirena said wistfully, “With Jumps that smooth, even Consuelo might tolerate travel.” I’d forgotten all about her, the princess’ lifelong aide who’d been left behind on Hyvilma. She hadn’t left much of an impression, though I remembered her being very efficient.
I turned to face Sirena. “Do you think she could help make plans? Maybe speed up Pinky’s getting into the hospital?”
She considered. “That’s not a bad idea. I’ll have to see if we’re in sayar range.” She tapped the rim of her chair, and a phantom interface floated before her. I watched as she began the comm, then realized I’d completely forgotten about my collision worries. I swiveled, clutching for the controls.
“Are we clear, Marta?”
“I’ve got nothing in the immediate vicinity,” her voice sang. “Picking up normal traff..ic.”
I caught her hesitation. “What’s up?”
“I thought traffic was normal. There are ships out there. Maybe more than usual. And there’s a…I don’t know…a hum. It’s suffusing the commercial comm bands.”
Sirena looked up at me from her sayar display. “I can’t make a signal,” she said.
Fareedh looked over her shoulder. “You mean we’re out of range?”
“No. It simply won’t send.”
Marta’s voice broke through. “I think we’re being jammed.”
“Us?” Peter yelped. “Specifically?”
“No, like I said, it’s all across the spectrum. I don’t think anyone can…hold it, there’s one strong signal coming through on the Navy band. Let me tune it in.”
I took a deep breath. If the Navy was involved, at least they might have a handle on what was going on. The Window lit up with a sensor display of the space around Hyvilma, the world fading into an outline. The planet didn’t have a moon, so anything besides the world itself had to be artificial. Even without turning on our scanners, the display was speckled with dozens of lights, each with a little alphanumeric code next to them. Transponder codes. There were definitely more than I’d seen when we’d left the system, weeks before. And there was something curious about the pattern they were in. I bit my lips, contemplating. That was it: there were none close to the planet proper. It was like they were in some kind of holding pattern.
I remembered then that we’d left our transponder off after running away from the pirate. If the Navy was actively involved right now, that could get us in trouble. I turned to face Peter, since he was the only one who could turn it back on.
Marta distracted me. She had her hands over her ears, disbelief on her face. I caught her eye and looked the question at her. She set the comms from private to public. A strident voice filled the room:
“…say again, in the name of the Trans-Frontier People’s Front, the volume of space within 30,000 kilometers of Hyvilma is controlled space. Any vessels who enter this zone will be fired upon. Further instructions will be provided within the next twelve hours. I say again, in the name of…”
Marta turned off the comms and spread out her hands in an expression of confusion. “It just repeats.”
“Who are these people?” Sirena asked.
“No clue,” I said. “No, wait.” I cast my mind back. There was a dim memory from…fifth grade? Mom meeting with a representative from a group. It wasn’t a planetary leader. “Yeah, the FPTF. I remember a friend and I thought it was the funniest name ever, like the sound of people spitting at each other. They shouldn’t be here, though. The FPTF was on Sennet and Talvi.”
“And now,” Sirena said matter-of-factly, “they are here.”
I looked at Fareedh. “That doesn’t make any sense. There’s a giant cruiser standing guard over the planet making sure no one messes with the Trans-Rift ferry. The Faucon. Your brother’s on board, you said.”
His eyebrow rose. “He is at that.”
“Folks,” Marta said. “You’re not going to like this.”
“As opposed to all the other things we have to like at this moment,” Peter said.
“What is it, darling?”
Marta looked bleakly at Sirena. “The message is coming from the Faucon.”
“We’re dead,” Fareedh said, his voice so low as to be almost inaudible.
Founder of Journey Press, an independent publisher focused on unusual and diverse speculative fiction, four-time Hugo Finalist Gideon Marcus also runs the time machine project, Galactic Journey. He is a professional space historian, member of the American Astronautical Society’s history committee, and a much sought after public speaker.
An acclaimed science fiction author, he has just finished Hyvilma, third book in The Kitra Saga, a YA space adventure series featuring themes of isolation, teamwork, and hope, and starring a queer protagonist of color.
His short fiction can be found in Dark Matter, Utopia, Simultaneous Times, and elsewhere. He is also the editor of the Rediscovery: Science Fiction by Women anthology series, featuring some of the best works of science fiction’s Silver Age.
Gideon lives in San Diego County with his writer/editor wife and their Hugo-nominated artist daughter…along with a cat, a snake, and an immense library.