Welcome to the twelfth blog tour stop on the Under Nameless Stars blog tour. Today you’ll not only find the next question in the giveaway competition, but also a guest post from Christian. When I read Zenn Scarlett last year I fell in love with Katie, the rikasett and some of the other animals in the Ciscan cloister on Mars where Zenn lives. Coupled with Christian work in horse rescuing, it triggered the following question:
Almost every little girl and many boys go through a horse-mad phase at some point in their life. What would be the equivalent in Zenn’s world? Would it be the rikasett or is there another animal that every child goes mad for?
Below you can find Christian’s answer to that question and the giveaway competition.
As someone who hosts rescued horses on his farm, and also hosts young volunteers who dedicate their time and energy to helping me out with these animals, I’m reminded almost daily about the “horse-mad” phase that many young humans go through – and that some of us never outgrow. I think with horses, the animal’s beauty and grace, but also its size and power, are major factors in making it such a seductive presence for us, both when we’re young and as adults. So, what would be the equivalent creature to inspire this particular form of overboard-animal-affection in Zenn’s time and place? Well, with its network of a dozen “civilized” worlds and a handful of other planets that harbor life in some form, the Local Systems Accord offers an expanded list of potential creatures for young humans and Alien Sentients go crazy over.
In Zenn’s case, the raccoonish-lemurish rikkaset that she named Katie became her own intense focus of attention when the infant animal was abandoned by its owners at the Ciscan Cloister on Mars where Zenn lives, and where she would later begin her novice year of exoveterinarian training. The fact that rikkasets have brains of sufficient capacity to allow them to learn sign language was also a key reason for Zenn’s strong bond with this demanding little marsupial. Plus, rikkasets are just wicked cute. So there’s that.
For the natives of the planet Sigmund’s Parch, the bat-like hooshrike is a creature that appeals to many young Parchers (humans from Earth who colonized the planet some 75 years ago). Flying, fruit- and nectar-eating mammals, hooshrikes have skin-covered, quadruple wings, with a large primary set stretching up to 15 feet, and a small set of secondary, stabilizer winglets. Being nocturnal feeders, their eyes are very large, and their pointed muzzles contain a long tongue capable of reaching deep into the flowers to extract the nectar they favor. As pups, hooshrikes are adorable and make congenial pets. But, as with most wild animals, by the time they reach adulthood, their size and strength make them less than suitable companions, and many are set free at this stage. Usually, these adult animals are accepted back into the nearest hooshrike colony and are able to adapt to life in the wild once more.
Another life form that many find highly appealing is the mudlark. These fungal animoids are a sort of highly evolved plant-animal hybrid. Native to the tidal zones and estuaries of the Great Swamp Coast of Tandua, mudlarks are one foot to two feet high. They have a central stalk, topped by a large, fleshy, circular “cap.” This cap is dotted with multiple small openings, which the mudlark uses to breathe through. But it has also evolved to use these openings as a means of vocalizing. Mudlarks are sessile, anchored in one place, so they can’t run away from predators. Instead, they developed their extraordinary vocal abilities as a defense mechanism to frighten away anything intent on eating them. Their complex vocal skills enable them to mimic an amazing range of sounds. So, as pets, the mudlarks are taught to imitate not only the voices of their owners, but also to mimic many other sounds, like the full instrumentation of entire orchestras. This, not surprisingly, makes them a favorite companion animoid all across the Accord.
And finally, when it comes to bonding, the enormous species of space-faring creature known as Indra also comes to mind. Of course, these ancient life forms aren’t exactly pet material – they’re 700-foot-long vacuum-dwellers that inhabit the huge engine room warrens of starliners. But the Procyoni Grooms — female astronavigators who from life-long attachments to their Indra — would say that their “Stonehorses” are much more than mere draft animals harnessed to propel starships hither and yon. The Grooms’ mystical relationship with their Indra would appear to many outsiders to fall squarely into the realm of all-consuming obsession, if not actual madness.
And, frankly, that’s just the tip of the alien goodness afoot in both Zenn Scarlett and Under Nameless Stars. If your readers are curious, Zenn and I invite them to dive into the books and meet the full cast of earthly and otherworldly creatures awaiting them. Cheers!
Following a stint as an in-house copywriter/scriptwriter at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, he supplied freelance copy for the entertainment industry and scriptwriting for live-action and animated TV.
Currently, he writes from his 150-year-old farmstead in Iowa which he shares with a fluctuating number of horses (generally less than a dozen, but not always), 30 or so cats, a dog, three ferrets and a surprisingly tolerant wife.
The Zenn Scarlett books are his first novels, however he admits to being an unrepentant fan of science fiction and fantasy ever since discovering the tales of Edgar Rice Burroughs in the fifth grade. He can be found at his blog: christianschoon.com and on Twitter.
Christian and Strange Chemistry are running a special giveaway with some awesome prizes. And you get 17 chances to enter! Links to the other participating blogs and an extract for Under Nameless Stars can be found here.
For your chance to win a copy (ebook or physical – your choice!) of both Zenn Scarlett and Under Nameless Stars PLUS a Name Your Own Star Gift Package, simply answer the following question:
When Liam calls Zenn mule-headed, she replies that mules are
d. Good with numbers