QSFer M.D. Neu has a new queer sci fi book out in his A New World series: Conviction.
A little blue world, the third planet from the sun. It’s home to 7 billion people with all manner of faiths, beliefs and customs, divided by bigotry and misunderstanding, who will soon be told they are not alone in the universe. Anyone watching from the outside would pass by this fractured and tumultuous world, unless they had no other choice.
Todd Landon is one of these people, living and working in a section of the world called the United States of America. His life is similar to those around him: home, family, work, friends and a husband.
After the attack on San Jose, Todd is appointed to Special Envoy for Terran Affairs by the nentraee, a position many world leaders question. Undeterred Todd wants to build bridges between both people. However, this new position brings with it a new set of problems that not only he, but his new allies Mi’ko and Mirtoff must overcome. Will the humans and nentraee learn to work together despite mistrust and threats of more attacks by a new global terrorist group, or will the terrorists win? Will this bring an end to an already shaky alliance between nentraee and humans?
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Thank to you Queer Sci Fi for having me here today to talk about Conviction, book two, of my A New World series. It’s been an amazing year with both book one and book two coming out so close to each other. I didn’t want folks to have to wait for the completion of the first part of the story. Contactand Convictionwere supposed to be one book, but the story was too large coming in at around 170,000 word so I’m glad people will get to see how part one ends, before we move on to Part two and Part three (books three and four respectively).
Today I have one of my favorite excerpts from the book. This is a fun moment where Todd finally meets Faa, Mirtoff’s companion animal. It’s a moment I’ve wanted to share with people since they first met Faa way back in book one, chapter one:
“Hello, Todd,” Mi’ko said, speaking English.
“Good afternoon, Mister Vice Speaker. You wanted to see me?” Todd turned to Mirtoff. “Oh, Madam Speaker, hello.” He bowed.
Todd hadn’t spent a lot of time with the speaker general. However, during his interactions with her, she seemed remarkably intelligent and professional. Unlike those times, today, she didn’t have a cup of tuma. As always, her auburn hair was braided up into a bun with a few wisps running along the side of her face. Her brilliant dark brown eyes, which Todd had learned were rare for the Nentraee, always seemed to sparkle, giving her a kind appearance.
“Todd, a pleasure,” Mirtoff said.
Faa trotted over next to her and sat down as she spoke.
“I should go.” Todd adjusted the cuffs of his shirt. “I didn’t mean to interrupt you.”
“No sense, Todd.” Mi’ko waved him over. “We are finishing up, and I requested your presence, so there is nothing for you to interrupt.”
“It is I who should go.” Mirtoff dusted off her pants. “I need to get Faa back for his lunch.”
“A cádo.” Todd knelt to look at Faa. “I didn’t know you had one, Madam Speaker.”
Todd hadn’t seen one this close. From what he understood about them, they were akin to dogs or, maybe, cats. Bigger than Bianca for sure, Faa seemed to be about the size of a cocker spaniel, if not a little bigger.
“Oh, he’s beautiful. I love his eyes,” Todd said. “Hello, little guy.” He stuck his hand out for Faa to sniff. “I’m not gonna hurt you.”
“Provider, this human Todd?” Faa asked, tilting his head toward Mirtoff.
“Jesus H. Christ!” Todd shouted and dropped on his butt.
Both Mi’ko and Mirtoff shared confused expressions as Faa jumped on the chair behind Mirtoff. A small whimper came from his mouth.
“It talks. I didn’t know it could talk. How in the holy hell does it talk?” Todd picked himself up off the floor and knelt. “I’m…I’m sorry. He startled me. I didn’t mean to scare him.” He gestured to Faa. “You never said they talked.”
“You have animals that speak on your planet, don’t you?” Mi’ko questioned.
The cádo shook and his eyes were double their normal size.
“Well…” Todd tried to calm his voice. “Parrots or some other birds, but that—not like that. I thought he would mimic words like them, but he’s smart. He knows what he’s saying, doesn’t he?”
Mirtoff’s hand gently rubbed Faa’s back and his head.
“Human scared Faa.”
The Nentraee words came out slow and deliberate so Todd could understand.
Mirtoff sat. Faa climbed onto her lap and nuzzled her arm.
“It’s all right, little one. He won’t hurt you.”
Todd recognized the words. “I’m sorry.”
“Faa, this is Todd Landon,” Mirtoff said. “Todd, this is the cádo who selected me, Faa.”
“Hello,” Todd said and waved.
Faa turned to Mirtoff and then to Todd. His muzzle shifted around, and then he finally said, “Todd.” He swished his tail.
“How?” Todd asked.
“They communicate at a lower level than we do, but they have intelligence. However, they are totally dependent on us.”
“But the language? The intelligence?” Todd asked.
Faa murmured as Mirtoff rubbed his head. He had stopped trembling.
“The best comparison is they are similar to small children,” Mi’ko said. “We assumed since humans have animals that talked and are smart it wouldn’t be so shocking. You said yourself you talk to your cat all the time.”
“But Bianca doesn’t talk back.” Todd paused. Well, she did, in a way, and they understood each other, but not like this. “I just…that is an animal trait that we’ll need to let people know.”
Faa sniffed the air and got up. He jumped off Mirtoff and sauntered to Todd. He sniffed the air again. “Todd Landon.” He seemed to struggle to pronounce the words.
“Just let him come to you,” Mirtoff said.
The three watched Faa move closer, each step cautious. Todd remained kneeling on the floor.
“They don’t eat meat, right?” Todd asked.
“Correct.” Mirtoff kept her eyes on Faa.
Faa sniffed and moved closer, his tail swishing. With a nimble movement, he jumped and landed on Todd’s lap. Faa pushed his front paws into Todd’s chest and stared at him. “Todd Landon.”
Todd’s heart skipped a beat as Faa looked him in the eyes.
Faa was gray and had a short muzzle, dwarfed by his large green eyes and his floppy ears.
“Faa.” Mirtoff snapped her fingers and pointed to the floor, addressing Faa in Nentraee words that Todd didn’t recognize.
Faa mentioned Todd’s name twice, along with other words, but Todd couldn’t focus, his heart starting to pound. He wasn’t fearful of animals, but he had never run across an animal that looked him in the eyes as if sizing him up for a meal.
Relax. It’s fine. He’s just like a big dog. He’s not going to hurt you. Look at those big, beautiful eyes. I’m sure he’s more scared of you than you are of him.
Faa continued speaking and used Todd’s name again.
Todd turned to Mirtoff and Mi’ko for some hint of what the creature said. He couldn’t read their expressions.
“He likes you and wants to be friends,” Mi’ko said.
Faa nudged against Todd’s legs and started to murmur happily.
“Okay, by far this is the oddest thing I’ve experienced since I started.” Todd paused and sat so Faa could sit more on his lap instead of knocking him over. “He’s adorable and beautiful. Don’t get me wrong.” His voice cracked as he forced a small chuckle. He wasn’t sure what to do with the cádo resting happily on his lap.
Faa is a heavy little beast.
Mirtoff called to Faa in Nentraee and clicked her fingers.
Faa’s muzzle shifted.
“I’m sorry, Todd,” Mirtoff said. “I didn’t expect him to act that way. He’s normally not that curious. It’s good information so we can address this with our population. I should have had you and Faa meet sooner.”
Faa jumped off and walked to Mirtoff’s side.
Todd’s shoulders and neck relaxed now that Faa was off him.
Faa nudged the back of Mirtoff’s leg and addressed her in Nentraee.
“He hopes to see you again, and he wants to be your friend,” Mirtoff said.
Mirtoff and Faa moved to the door. She knelt next to Faa and whispered in his big floppy ear.
Faa giggled and then padded over to Todd, glancing up with his big doe eyes. “Bye Bye, Todd,” he said in English, then padded back to the door, and Mirtoff and he walked out.
“Bye, Faa.” Todd waved.
Amazing. That was incredible.
So, this is Todd’s official introduction to Faa, we get to see a lot more of Faa in this book and in book three. He’s one of my favorite characters to write for and I hope readers enjoy him as much as I do.
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“I believe this should be adequate.” Mi’ko checked his datapad to ensure all the proper requisitions had been finalized. He glanced around the room again with a pleased smile.
“Do you think he’ll enjoy living here?” Mi’cin asked.
They were here to inspect the quarters he had selected for Todd in the secured area of the speaker’s ship. He could have left it up to Vi-Narm or one of his other aides, but this was important and he needed to handle these details personally. Todd was important, and he wanted to make sure everything was perfect. Plus, it was an opportunity to spend more time with Mi’cin.
“Mister Todd Landon was adamant about staying in his own home and commuting, but it’s not practical.” Mi’ko ran a hand over the desk, then checked his fingers for dust. “And with the rise in protest against us across the planet, it’s not safe. Even though his government insists it is.”
“If you say so,” Mi’cin said. “He didn’t strike me as very logical after our brief meeting.” He went to one of the windows and opened it. “It would be nice to have quarters like this for myself. Does he need all this space? He’s one male.” He inhaled deeply and viewed the park below. “It smells like home. But it’s a replica, not the real place.” His nose crinkled.
“Mi’cin, don’t sulk. Our living situation isn’t that bad, and you are not a child.” Mi’ko put a hand on his son’s arm and squeezed. “I know you hurt. We all ache for our home, but these ships are our home, for now. It’s a pain we all share. By working with the humans, especially Todd, that pain and the loss of our home will lessen.”
Mi’cin’s expression fell. “Assuming the humans will work with us.”
“Please be supportive.” Mi’ko frowned. “I understand you have your misgivings, but please.” He inhaled, smelling the damp trees. “And since when have you not enjoyed the ship’s gardens?” He looked out to the woodland where several tall trees, paths, and waterways ran in countless directions.
The grounds were replicas of some of the famous parks on Benzee and her satellites. The ship’s builders gave as much space as feasible to allow people the chance to enjoy the open space. The artificial light that mimicked the day-night cycle of Benzee had gradually been adjusted to the length of Earth’s day.
“He does, indeed, have a better view than us, but that’s all right.” Mi’ko grinned and thought.
This new position for Mi’cin will help focus him. Give him a chance to interact with the humans and learn about them.
“A view of space would have been equally nice,” Mi’cin said, “but I doubt he’d be used to such a thing.” He turned back to the window. “Such a waste.”
“I assure you it’s not a waste.” Mi’ko ran a hand over the soft fabric of the chair. “Considering the nature of this position. Plus, I thought a view of nature and all the fresh scents would make him feel more at home. It will give him a sense of what Mentra Park was like.”
Mi’cin clucked his tongue.
“What?” Mi’ko questioned. “That was one of your favorite parks on Mentra. You made me take you there whenever we went to visit my parents. You loved the views of Benzee.”
Mi’cin said nothing.
“As you wish, Father.”
“I’d like to ask you to assist Mister Todd Landon to help him acclimate,” Mi’ko said. “It’s going to be hard for him at first. Even though he’s been studying our language and culture—”
Mi’cin’s sigh muted his father. “Of course. I’ll do my best. You have my word. Besides, isn’t that what your aide is supposed to do?”
“True, but this is the first time I’ve had an aide who’s my son.”
“Well, Vi-Narm can’t do it all, and your other aides are busy,” Mi’cin said. “I can use the experience, as you and Mother both keep telling me.”
“I can think of no one better to support me.” Mi’ko focused on his son. “You know, you’re both very quizzical, so you will be good for each other. I hope you can become friends.” He reached out and gently touched Mi’cin on the cheek.
A soft chirp came from the door. It opened to reveal Vi-Narm. Her tightly braided hair had a few wisps out of place; her breathing was heavy.
“Vice speaker, there is a problem with the Envoy position. General Gahumed, with the support of General Fanion, is calling for a special session in the council chamber.”
“What now?” The muscles around Mi’ko’s eyes twitched and the tips of his ears started to warm. It had been like this for several weeks. These continued issues with his own people were taking far too much of his time.
M.D. Neu is a LGBTQA Fiction Writer with a love for writing and travel. Living in the heart of Silicon Valley (San Jose, California) and growing up around technology, he’s always been fascinated with what could be. Specifically drawn to Science Fiction and Paranormal television and novels, M.D. Neu was inspired by the great Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, Stephen King, Alfred Hitchcock and Kim Stanley Robinson. An odd combination, but one that has influenced his writing.
Growing up in an accepting family as a gay man, he always wondered why there were never stories reflecting who he was. Constantly surrounded by characters that only reflected heterosexual society, M.D. Neu decided he wanted to change that. So, he took to writing, wanting to tell good stories that reflected our diverse world.
When M.D. Neu isn’t writing, he works for a non-profit and travels with his biggest supporter and his harshest critic, Eric, his husband of eighteen plus years.