QSFer Molly J. Bragg has a new queer sci-fi romance out (lesbian, agender): Mail Order Bride.
Ten years ago, aliens from a Galaxy spanning government called the Hegemony arrived in the Solar system and ever since Earth has been on a long, slow journey to becoming a banana republic. Samantha ‘Sam’ Murray has spent her entire high school career doing everything her mom could think of to earn a chance at an off-world education that would keep her from living a life of poverty. But with just a few weeks left before graduation there’s no scholarship in sight and Sam has her heart set on getting an apartment with her best friend and crush, Jenny, and maybe finding out if they can be more than just friends. All of her plans come crashing down when she finds out her mom has signed her up for an arranged marriage on another planet as a way to get her the off-world education she’s sure Sam needs.
Sam arrives on Talamh, a planet ravaged by disaster, expecting to find herself promised to some rich alien prince. Instead, she finds herself among a species that has no concept of gender, promised to a beautiful alien that makes Sam’s little gay heart skip a beat every time she looks at them. There’s just one problem. Orla, the person Sam is promised to, is already in love with their best friend Sorcha. As Orla and Sam’s betrothal moves forward, they find themselves falling in love, but Sam can’t help but worry that Sorcha will come between them. At least, until she and Sorcha start to develop feelings for each other.
Will desire and jealousy destroy all their futures, or will Sam, Orla and Sorcha find a way to be happy together?
BETH WATCHED THE BUILDINGS pass as the air cab carried her over Los Angeles, taking in the changes the last ten years had wrought on the city. Most of the low-income areas had been bulldozed, and those areas were now filled with alien arcologies. Massive buildings that stretched kilometers into the sky, each one a city unto itself, and in their shadows, the skyscrapers that had once been incredible achievements of human architecture and engineering. The buildings, which had been hubs of human industry and centers of financial empires, were now reduced to little more than playhouses for the backwards primitives who had the misfortune to be born natives of the Galactic Hegemony’s latest colony world.
If they’d had another century or two, things might have been different. Humanity had been advancing quickly. They wouldn’t have been on par with the technology of the Hegemony by any stretch, but they might have been able to dictate better terms. The Gatekeepers hadn’t cared. The gate had drifted into a stable orbit in the outer system, and the Gatekeepers had announced that, like it or not, the Sol system was being added to their vast network of space-fold gates. The first ships from the Hegemony had arrived just a month later, and ever since, Earth had been on the road to becoming the galactic equivalent of a banana republic.
So far, her job and her savings had let her avoid the worst of what was happening, but unemployment was at a record high as alien automation systems replaced human labor in almost every sector. The company she worked for had shifted gears from research and development to reverse-engineering alien tech and had seen a short windfall in profits, but that was starting to vanish as the inevitable inflation drove prices up and the people that they had been selling reverse-engineered tech to could no longer afford it.
Beth wasn’t really that worried for herself. She’d been poor before, and however much she might hate the idea, she could survive being poor again. What brought her to LA today was Sam. Sam was getting close to graduation, and she had acceptance letters from every college that could afford postage. A 4.0 unweighted GPA, high SAT scores, and a couple of impressive summer internships meant that schools were falling all over themselves to offer her full rides. Ten years ago, that would have all but ensured her a bright future. These days, a PhD from Harvard, Yale, or MIT wasn’t worth the cost of paper the degree was printed on.
People still made noise about human exceptionalism and about taking humanity’s place in the larger galactic community, but Beth had spent a lot of time over the last decade studying the history of colonization on Earth, and it never once ended well for the people being colonized. Regardless of what happened to the colonized peoples as a whole, there were always individual exceptions – people who avoided the fate of their brethren. It was her determination to ensure her daughter’s future that brought her to LA today. While billionaires had started buying their kids spots in alien schools the moment they were allowed out of the Sol System, Beth didn’t have that option. She was well off enough that she and Sam weren’t feeling the effects of the colonization yet, but nowhere near rich enough to buy a ticket off-world for Sam, much less pay for an off-world education. Instead, she’d spent years looking into other options. So far, none of her work had paid off, but she hadn’t given up hope. She was headed to a meeting with a broker who helped place kids into programs that offered grants, scholarships, and all expenses paid exchange programs. She was going to find a way to offer her daughter a better future than most of Earth’s children could look forward to. No matter what it took.
Molly is a 45-year-old trans woman with a degree in Astro-physics and a love of storytelling. She loves science fiction, superheroes, and giant robots. Her hobbies include collecting transformers, watching way too many crafting videos on YouTube, and complaining bitterly about the way a certain comic book company treats her favorite superhero.