Species Imperative # 1
Despite dire rumours of disappearances on other worlds, biologist Dr. Mackenzie (Mac) Connor, is far more interested in salmon than aliens.
Until the day aliens become interested in her.
First Published in 2004 by DAW Books Inc.
Cover art by Luis Royo
2005 Nebula Preliminary Ballot
2005 Prix Aurora Award Finalist
Main Selection of the SFBC
PortentThe drop glistened, green and heavy, as it coalesced at the leaf’s tip. The drop trembled, then tumbled. It fell into the calm water of the pond below, sending a ring of ripples outward, its green diffusing until invisible. Mute.
Another fell. Then another. Within moments, there were drops forming and flowing to the tips of thousands of leaves, each drop falling free in turn, the sum etching the pond’s surface, staining its clarity an ominous turquoise. Released from their burden, the leaves stirred the air as they sprang upward, only to be bent again under more of the green liquid. Below, the pond blurred and grew, consuming its banks.
Yet more fell.
The leaves themselves began to blur, their sharp edges washing away, the softer tissues dissolving with each new drop until skeleton veins rattled with the beat of false green.
Ferns lining the pond’s edge rotted as the floodwater reached their base, fronds having no time to curl into death as they toppled and sank. The trees themselves began to blur, their bark no match for this new and hungry rain, their branches weakening first where the green drops collected in fork and crook, so they cracked and fell, landing with a splash.
The drops continued for hours.
Until all that remained was a green lake, cupped by lifeless stone.
Then the mouths began to drink.
From Chapter 6 ...
...The triumphant arrival of two students bearing a mattress pad and bedding startled Mac from a cramped curl in the armchair, where she’d moved to read more of Brymn’s publication list and fallen asleep instead. With apologies and an endearing lack of coordination, the pair insisted on making up her bed. Mac dimly remembered shooing them out the door, then tripping her way on to the promised comfort.
By that point, anything flat would have worked.
So she was vaguely surprised some unknown time later to find herself lying flat on her back, wide awake. It was dark, without even stars glowing overhead. Darker than it should be. The light rimming the door frames was gone, as were the pinpricks of green and red from the indicators on various gauges she should be able to see in her lab.
She must be dreaming. Norcoast didn’t have power failures. It broadcast its own power and there were backups and redundant systems galore – more than most major medical centers – necessities in an environment subject to hurricane winds and the vagaries of summer students.
Her stomach mentioned breakfast.
Not dreaming, Mac decided, coming fully awake. Instinct kept her still.
Something scurried across the ceiling.
Mac’s heart began to pound. She fought to keep her breathing quiet and even, as if she still slept.
She wasn’t alone.
Excerpt from Survival © 2004 Julie E. Czerneda and DAW Books Inc.
Used with permission.
Stellar Magpie created three beautiful bookmarks, one for each title of Species Imperative. (Artisans: Karina Sumner-Smith and Sarah Jane Elliott)