QSFer Albert Nothlit has a new gay sci-fi book out, Wurl book 2: World Warden.
Now that colonists Elias Trost and Tristan MacLeod have learned of the existence of another intelligent species on this planet, their life on New Skye has become even more perilous. Dresde, the ruthless wurl queen, has kidnapped Elias’s brother, Oscar, along with the egg of a rival queen.
Oscar Trost finds danger and privation under Dresde’s reign, but he isn’t alone. A small group of humans from the original colony ship, long lost from memory, live on the eastern continent as slaves to Dresde’s horrific whims. In order to survive, Oscar must find his courage and prove himself to these others while he awaits the rescue he is sure will come.
Elias and Tristan have to find Oscar and the egg, and fast. Every day their search becomes more desperate. But sprawling between them and Dresde’s lair is the untamed alien wilderness, teeming with threats from ground and sky. And in the vast ocean they must cross lies something else—something ancient that should not be disturbed….
ELIAS TROST trudged through the mire, followed by his maybe-boyfriend and three wurl with silver scales.
He glanced over his shoulder. Tristan MacLeod walked a few paces behind, panting with effort but tireless as always. Tristan’s gaze was fixed on the treacherous ground before him as he picked each step with care. He was slightly taller than Elias, and he had a buzz cut that was beginning to grow out a week after they had left the colony of Portree. Tristan’s bushy eyebrows gave his face an appearance of forceful intensity when he furrowed his brow with concentration, as he was doing at the moment. His square jaw was firmly set with evident determination. Tristan was always clean-shaven, even when out in the wild. Elias supposed Tristan was careful about his appearance because of the rigid discipline of the Colony Patrol, but he secretly preferred to see Tristan’s cheeks shadowed by dark stubble. In Elias’s opinion, it gave Tristan a gruff aura he found hard to resist.
Elias checked his link before he focused on the way ahead once more. The sleek steel contours of the wrist-held computer reflected the diffuse light all around him and showed him a brief reflection of his own face. Although Elias was the same age as Tristan, nearly seventeen in the long years of the world of New Skye, he looked younger because of his paler skin, his smooth cheeks, and the sharp lines of his trim, angular face.
His features were rather ordinary, with the exception of his eyes.
Elias’s eyes were not a hazel shade of brown like Tristan’s. His irises were iridescent, mesmerizing, and most definitely not human-looking. Elias had seen himself in a mirror many times since the change, but he did not think he would ever get used to seeing the shifting colors, white and pink and neon green, threading themselves in thousands of different shades every time he contemplated his reflection. He had not been born with such eyes. They were part of the legacy of Sizzra, the Spine wurl queen, with whom Elias had spent many harrowing months. He did not know what the colors meant, but it did remind him of a vow he had made to the weakening queen before she had allowed him to go back to his family.
He had promised to watch over her unborn brood.
It was a vow he meant to keep.
A loud huff to the right made Elias glance in that direction. It was hard to see more than a couple of meters away because of the fog that surrounded them, but as the hulking shadow of a Spine wurl approached, he recognized Narev, one of his three other companions. They were big creatures, standing as tall as Elias on six muscular legs. Narev’s body, like Vanor’s and Siv’s, was covered by metallic-looking scales of flawless silver. They looked like impenetrable armor, but Elias knew that they were not indestructible. He had seen creatures cut through them like an oar slicing through still water—creatures with sizzling talons and huge membranous wings. When he closed his eyes, Elias could still picture the carnage left behind by Dresde’s assault a week earlier, and he knew that the images in his memories would haunt him for a very long time.
Narev approached even more until he was walking next to Elias. His many legs sank alarmingly low in the quagmire they were crossing, but he did not appear to be worried about being trapped. In fact his movements were graceful, coordinated, and efficient. Elias’s eyes roamed over the dozens of long, wicked spines that covered Narev’s back, sides, and shoulders. Like his scales, they were silver. Most of them ended in sharp tips with serrated edges. A few of them were shorter since they were growing back to replace others that had been fired before. Elias had never been on the receiving end of Narev’s spines, and he did not want to be. He had seen firsthand how fast and how far an adult Spine wurl was able to fire his spines, and how deadly such an attack could be.
Elias placed his hand on the side of Narev’s neck.
“Don’t worry,” he told him. “We should be out of this swamp in a kilometer or so.”
Narev swiveled his spade-shaped head to look at Elias fully, fixing him with a gaze that was alert and attentive as it emanated from all three of his eyes. They were red and glowed softly in the foggy atmosphere, reminding Elias of the electronic lights of the security system he would sometimes see outside the genetics lab back in Portree. However, whereas a year ago Elias would have been terrified of looking into the eye cluster of a wurl, now he was reassured. Through physical contact with Narev, Elias could feel the gist of the wurl’s emotions. Narev was as determined as Elias. He was also curious. And a little bit bored.
Albert Nothlit is an engineer who loves thinking about the science behind science fiction. He has been in love with literature ever since Where the Red Fern Grows made him cry as a ten-year-old. Growing up as a gay man, he realized that he had rarely been able to truly connect with the characters he read about in books because almost none of them were like him. He didn’t have any fictional role models to look up to. Now that he is a writer, he tries to convey the joy and pride of being different through his own books and characters, celebrating the fact that each unique voice brings something special to the beautiful chorus that is human artistic creation.
He likes to think about what the future might be like with the help of science, but he has always been fascinated by that other, much more elusive corollary to scientific curiosity: the mystery of consciousness. He finds the fact that a mind can think about itself both marvelous and slightly terrifying. His books often explore how people (or aliens) grow as a result of facing hardship, which has also taught him valuable lessons through the tough portions of his life.
When he takes a break from writing, Albert loves to cook, despite his varying degrees of success when attempting to make good sushi rice. He loves hearing back from readers, so send him a note anytime!