Mass market paperback out May 3rd 2022!
Here Be Monsters
Something malevolent lurks in deep space, something able to pluck starships from their course and cause their crews to vanish.
It has a purpose: to use those ships to mark an unmistakable boundary. A warning.
It has an interest: Botharis, the planet where Esen and Paul have established the All Species’ Library of Linguistics and Culture. Home to Veya Ragem, whose ship was the first to trespass.
Esen and Paul will need every resource, every friend and even foes, if they’re to discover who–or what is behind this before more are lost. Once they do, Esen plans to use her abilities to comprehend and reason with this new species. What she doesn’t know? There truly are monsters. And they wait for you in the dark.
Just ask Evan Gooseberry.
“Julie E. Czerneda is one of the leading SF writers of the 21st Century. A biologist by trade, she’s brought a unique appreciation for the far-ranging possibilities of extraterrestrial biology to her fiction, and the result has been some of the most joyously alien characters in all of modern SF.”Black Gate
Web Shifter’s Library
Excerpt from Spectrum (spoiler alert!)
Veya Ragem, you have been informed of the risks inherent in the classified experimental upgrade identified as Pathfinder X23-42-6. Do you give consent?
Whether they admit it or not, deep spacers believe in an afterlife.
Sanity on long runs, out there in the vast. Faced by the uncaring empty, knowing there’d be no rescue? If all you were was meat in a can—if that was all you would ever be—why be all?
Veya believes. She’d died–surely she’d died–for where she is has nothing to do with being alive.
And everything to do with a hell she’d never imagined.
Do I have a choice?
Not if you want reinstatement. Not if you want to fly the latest and the best.
Her memory is composed of shards like glass. Some hold an image, without sound. Some only voices, without a face. They spin as if hanging from thread.
While she is gripped by thicker filaments, suspended in a mist without colour, without sensation. Has hands, sometimes. Has shape, if no skin. Watches her organs as they orbit.
Momma, tell me again about the worlds around the stars. About the people there. I want to know everything. I want to meet everyone.
Only her eye—that eye–doesn’t drift. Tethered to glistening threads, its orb hangs beyond her reach.
Not beyond her mind’s. Each time her eye focuses—every time–she’s no choice but see.
1: Cabin Night; Aircar Night
The warm evening breeze sighing through the open window was redolent of spring’s delicious blend of rot and new growth, with a whiff of annoyed weaseling which might have been my fault, having interrupted its hunt. Amphibians sang their impassioned evening chorus from tree, puddle, and cabin wall, drowning out the whine of thwarted night biters clinging to the screen. Duggs Pouncey, General Contractor for the All Species’ Library of Linguistics and Culture, triumphantly pulled the stack of chips across the workbench still serving her for a table and crowed, “You lose!”
Director Paul Ragem gave a rueful chuckle. Lionel Kearn, Library Administrator, studied his cards with disbelief, then folded them neatly and put them down. “Again.”
“Yet you keep coming.”
I closed the door behind me, regarding the trio with pleasure. Duggs, powerfully built, with clever hazel eyes and short black hair touched with grey, wore worn blue coveralls, the legs cut off below the knees. over a faded red and black plaid shirt. Her broad-toed feet were bare. Lionel was still in his staff’s yellow shirt and brown pants, with matching shoes, but as far as I knew he didn’t own casual clothes. Slim of body, he’d a long, usually serious, face with earnest brown eyes cornered by faint wrinkles. Wisps of hair graced the top of his head, a sign he’d broken the nervous habit of fiercely rubbing his scalp while thinking.
Being newly happy.
Paul had switched to a dark silk shirt over shorts. His tousled black hair dipped over a high forehead and his grey eyes brimmed with good humour. He leaned on an elbow, his lean strong form slouched comfortably.
Duggs grinned at me. “Catch anything, Es?”
With these Humans, I’d no hesitation sending my tongue along my lips, curling the tip over the sensitive nostrils at snout’s end, to imply a most successful hunt for mousels under Duggs’ back porch.
Paul, my first and best friend, lifted a judgmental eyebrow. Behave, that meant.
I dipped my ears in mild protest. “They’ve learned my scent,” I admitted, then had to boast. “If there are any left.”
Duggs laughed. “There’s plenty. Found a new nest in the equipment shed this morning.”
My ears perked up.
Paul pointed a finger.
Down they went again. It was as if he had them on remote control. “Maybe you should get a scruff,” I suggested, trying not to grumble. Paul was reminding me these card nights were for socializing, not hunting, unless his own subtle but real pursuit of how far we could trust Duggs with our secret counted. I hadn’t exactly given him a chance to do it before revealing my true self to her.
By accident. There’d been extenuating circumstances–
“Scruffs don’t bring beer,” Duggs said cheerfully.
I suspected she was aware of Paul’s protective wariness and didn’t care. And that Paul knew she knew and didn’t, yet–somehow this made him happier.Humans were so confusing.