Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
This sci-fi story is set on an interspecies ship traveling in the distant universe. For the most part, there is only one of any individual species on the ship. There is only one human, Jen, and the captain is concerned that she is broken, because she is not “behaving within previously observed species parameters”. The captain is concerned about the safety and well-being of everyone on the crew, and so he assigns Security Officer Raskli, a Growlan, to investigate the change, to see if she can identify the problem, and fix it. Why was Raskli chosen for this task? Because the ship’s doctor said “you are both members of lactating placental species”. Ha!
Raskli’s investigation into humans, and Jen in particular, is laugh out loud funny. One of her first observations:
[Humans] ate everything. It was a wonder than any other life on the planet had survived.
When she thought she had sufficient background, Raskli decided that she should become “friends” – a somewhat unusual concept to ritualistic Growlans – with Jen, and looking for a friendship ritual, followed the interspecies manual instructions for “dating”:
The initiator of the date will sometimes bring a small offering to the domicile of the acceptor. Angiosperm blooms or boxes of sugar-and-cocoa-bean globs appear to be traditional for one-on-one dates, while offerings of substantial, meal-oriented food or fermented drink are more common for group dates.
This was the most adorable little meet-cute you can imagine. Raskli’s heart was in the right place despite her awkwardness, so Jen accepted her friending request and the two proceeded to get to know and like each other despite the huge cultural differences. Since the story is told from Raskli’s point of view, we get the outsiders perspective of humans and their quirks, and the author did a fabulous job of making fun of all the crazy things we do.
When Raskli was able to identify that the holiday season was exacerbating Jen’s feelings of homesickness and loneliness, she decided to put on a ship-wide celebration, and started researching. In addition to our Western standards like Christmas, Hannukah, and Kwanzaa, she also found references to solstice, yule, saturnalia, rohatsu, and others, and decided to just use them all. In addition to the “traditional large sacrificial plant” that was “large, possibly radially symmetric, sloping limbs with many sharp spikes. Looks fierce”, there were “shining spheres” and “glitter snakes”. I was having so much fun reading how the decorations that have become so commonplace to us might be described by an alien who has never seen anything like them before!
The romance between Raskli and Jen was perfectly sweet. No other word to describe it! The story was just the right length, the various alien crew members all existed in almost perfect harmony, and at the end of the story I just couldn’t stop smiling. I’m going to keep this around to re-read when I need a little happiness! Brava, Angel Martinez!
Cover art by Freddy MacKay was exactly how I pictured Jen, sitting in front of a window that looked to be straight out of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Very appropriate!
Expected publication: December 9th 2017 by Mischief Corner Books, LLC