Werewolves In Space

And vampires. And mages. And of course, aliens.

As you’ve probably gathered from the above (not to mention the post immediately below this one), Jahannan’s Children is set in Maqu, Melera’s home galaxy. Folks have asked me why I put the three Earthers out there. Answer: it’s fun. It’s different. And there are some interesting themes to explore. Alien-ness, for one. What it feels like to BE an alien. I got an inkling of it on my first trip to the Far East. It was more than not being able to speak the language. That was a given. The shock was to realize I had no clue how to decipher the writing.

Think about that. I don’t speak any of the European tongues (including British). But all of these languages are written using the Roman alphabet–to me, a familiar frame of reference. With my smattering of Latin, I can usually figure out the gist of whatever it is I’m reading. German’s a little harder, but it’s still doable. In Japan/China/Korea, etc., I had no frame of reference. Without it, there was no way I could figure out anything. I couldn’t even figure out where to start.

I’ll be honest–it scared me at first. It was like being a baby. I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t read. I could only communicate through gestures. Oh, I know what you’re thinking–they speak English, so what was I worried about? But you see, that’s not true everywhere in those countries, even in Japan. And there were times I was in places where no one spoke or understood English. So I was limited to pointing, nodding, shaking my head, scissoring my fingers to simulate someone walking, things like that. The saving grace was that those kinds of gestures are used by almost all human cultures, so my needs were understood–eventually, anyway.

So all things being equal, what if I was in a place where these “universal” gestures meant nothing? Putting my hands together, placing them against my cheek, tilting my head and then closing my eyes–means sleep, right? But what if it meant something obscene? How would I know? If the reaction is anger, what if my confused expression is taken for further insult?

That’s the situation facing Parker, Kurt and Garrett in Maqu, Melera’s home galaxy. She was the alien in TAW, but now it’s our Earth-born zots who are the aliens. At least Melera had the opportunity to study Earth culture before leaving her island base, but the other three didn’t get that luxury before blasting off to Maqu. For all of them, Melera is the key to their survival. That’s fine for Parker. She loves him. But Kurt and Garrett are skating on some seriously thin ice. They know damned well the only reason Melera hasn’t spaced them is because of the tryst, and what their deaths might mean for Parker.

Here’s a question for you. How would you feel if you were forced to place your life in the hands of someone who, but for the love of another, would kill you in a heartbeat?

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