Veronica sez: Alexis is one of the eight other authors in the Pets In Space anthology (PISA)! So happy to have her as my guest today – I always love discussions that touch on classic science fiction stories.
Alexis: One way to understand science fiction (by which I mean mostly in written form, not media – the traditions of novels from Frankenstein to now, by writers who take science into account) is that science fiction is the genre that explores new ways of being human – mutants, cyborgs, new societies, genetically engineered variants, clones and more.
It also explores new ways of being humans’ pets.
My own contribution to the tradition, so far, is genetically engineered unicorns in a spinning interstellar amusement park. Prince the unicorn is something of a pet – but possessive enough of the story’s heroine to consider the hero something of a rival.
Interestingly, in some classic SF – including 1950’s and 1960’s juvenile or YA SF – I come up with rather a lot of instances where the “pet” is either symbiotic or sentient. For example, there are bouncy, furry basketball-sized creatures that turn out to be the juvenile form of an ancient civilized race on Mars in Robert Heinlein’s Red Planet. The individual the reader meets, the pet a boy has named named Willis, is a remarkably memorable character. In Battle on Mercury by Lester del Rey, there is an energy creature of a kind called Wispies. It was named Johnny Quicksilver by the boy who befriended it. It turns out to be intelligent, and an ally against a similar but nonsentient, destructive species called Demons. By the end of the book Johnny is communicating through a robot. There’s an Alan Nourse book whose hero is a young alien medical doctor, who has a small symbiotic blob that always sits on his shoulder and turns out to be more vital than the reader knew. And there is an alien cat who turns out to be not only telepathic, but a member of an intelligent though predatory race on an alien planet colonized by mankind. This isTick-Tock the Crest Cat in James Schmitz’s story “Novice”.
In addition there are cats or dogs or other species morphed into human form. Some of the memorable first of these were Cordwainer Smith’s Underpeople. Anyone who read his tales may find it hard to forget the beautiful C’Mell, who was genetically engineered from a cat, or the saintly D’Joan – who ends up being a version of Joan of Arc in “The Dead Lady of Clown Town.”
All of these stories formed my SFFnal outlook when I was young and led to me finding it easy and fun to write about pets in space.
SF has an enduring fascination for pets that are not pets, more than pets, and more mysterious than they are taken for at first. What a lot of great stories this implies! Many of them have long since been written, and done well. Some of them are in our PISA Anthology. And many of them haven’t been written yet!
The blurb for Pets In Space:
Even an alien needs a pet…
Join the adventure as nine pet loving sci-fi romance authors take you out of this world and pull you into their action-packed stories filled with suspense, laughter, and romance. The alien pets have an agenda that will capture the hearts of those they touch. Follow along as they work side by side to help stop a genetically-engineered creature from destroying the Earth to finding a lost dragon; life is never the same after their pets decide to get involved. Can the animals win the day or will the stars shine just a little less brightly?
New York Times, USA TODAY, Award Winning, and Best selling authors have eight original, never-released stories and one expanded story giving readers nine amazing adventures that will capture your imagination and help a worthy charity. Come join us as we take you on nine amazing adventures that will change the way you look at your pet!
10% of the first month’s profits go to Hero-Dogs.org. Hero Dogs raises and trains service dogs and places them free of charge with US Veterans to improve quality of life and restore independence.
And the blurb for Alexis’s story, ‘Spike’:
Young Roboticist Ten Jaxdown has to deploy, and possibly sacrifice, the swarm of investigative robots that he has invented and cares about more than anything else in the star system. It may be the only hope for those depending on him and his robots to save them. Yet, even as frantic preparations for the unprecedented deep-space rescue mission are set in motion, it could all be threatened by sabotage.
Anastasia Steed is an intrepid young mission designer. She steps forward with an idea that can improve the odds of the mission. Neither she nor Ten expect the assistance they receive from a very unusual pet. A pet that will bring together two alienated human beings who didn’t realize they needed each other. Can Ten and Anastasia discover who is behind the sabotage, save the mission, and discover what is evolving between them? With a little bit of unusual help, anything is possible.