Thanks, Charlie, for having me on your blog again. 🙂
For my new released, “The Homecoming”, out today from Less Than Three Press, I have an exclusive excerpt for you. This is my “wolfman meets spaceman” story, and this scene begins when Alvin, one of the four returnees to Earth, first wakes up after his ship, the Sapphire, has crash landed.
I hope you enjoy it.
Author: J. Scott Coatsworth
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Published: July 29th, 2015
Genre: Gay, Sci-fi
Cover Artist: London Burden
When his own world is destroyed, Aldiss and his crew barely manage to escape, leaving friends and lovers behind. What was meant to be an exploratory trip back to the home world turns into a mad dash for survival.
When they awaken from stasis on Earth, which was abandoned by humanity five centuries before, they must quickly learn about their new home. While exploring the region around the ship, Aldiss meets Hari, a shape-changer, whose people harbor secrets that might cost the crew their lives.
Aldiss Harlson’s eyes flickered open. He lay on a firm bed, staring up at a ceiling crowded with instrumentation. He blinked, and tried to move. His body was sluggish, non- responsive. Where am I? Did we make it?
He turned his head to look down at his wrist, where a tube was attached to his circulatory system via an embedded shunt.
Memory returned, slowly. He was on the Sapphire. He was on a mission back to Earth, the home world of legend, the world his grandfather Alvin, the old bastard, had died trying to reach.
His own world had ended. The suspension drugs leached their way slowly out of his system. His blood was recirculated and cleansed. Eventually he sat up, shakily throwing his legs over the side of the suspension bed.
The dreams that had plagued him in suspension lingered: fire and brimstone, the world’s ceiling falling, hot crystal that tore through whatever it touched. Lorin running after him. The ship blasting off with just the four of them. He’d been too late.
Aldiss shuddered, and pushed down the painful memories. Too soon. Too much grief. Better, now, to care for the ones who were here.
He stood, stretching long-unused muscles, and surveyed the insides of the small exploration ship. The guidance console flashed. He waved his hand over it and a 3-D model of the ship appeared, red marks plastered all over it. Probably damaged in the fall, it would never fly again. It was a miracle they’d reached Earth at all.
He was the first awake. The others were as still as corpses under the plas of their suspension beds. He sat still for a few moments, alone with his thoughts, while the last of the drugs wore off, and then disconnected the shunt.
“Sapphire, status of the others?” Silence. Maybe the AI had been damaged, too. The emergency lights cast a reddish pall over the tiny ship’s innards, looking far too much like blood. He found an ASEA jumpsuit that fit him in one of the lockers, and then swiped the console, bringing up the manual controls. The vitals for the other three explorers appeared in mid-air before him—at least that still worked.
Rober Cosgrove and Xandra Collier looked fine, but there was something wrong with Cat Ivins. They’d check her status once she had been awakened.
There would be four from Antana present for this homecoming of sorts, though it was a rather hastily executed one. Four souls. Few enough to build a new world with.
The exploration mission had taken on a renewed urgency when the Flare had begun, and they had barely escaped with their lives. He looked sadly at the empty sleep cells; two hadn’t even made it to the ship. Gods, Lorin, I miss you. He had been the team archeologist, but he’d been much more than that to Aldiss.
It seemed like just a moment ago that his world had ended—though almost a year had passed.
What do you do when your world dies? There were no precedents, not that he was aware of, except perhaps the end of the D’narth. But no one could have prepared him for the loss of his city, in Kanador, or of Antana. He grasped the memdisc that hung upon a chain around his neck, one of the few things he’d brought with him.
He supposed he was a spaceman now, a man without a home.
He checked his arm. The slit where he’d been struck by a shard of burning crystal had healed with the smallest of scars. He was lucky, he supposed, though maybe he’d have been better off dead. He shook his head—there was no time for self-pity.
He was also fortunate that the auto protocol had initiated his awakening from the Sleep. Now it was time to bring the others out, too. Better their company than the bleakness in his own soul.
He ran through the procedure, starting with Rober, then Xandra, then Cat, setting a time delay between each.
When it was done, he put his head in his hands and cried until no more tears would come.
Scott has been writing since elementary school, when he and won a University of Arizona writing contest in 4th grade for his first sci fi story (with illustrations!). He finished his first novel in his mid twenties, but after seeing it rejected by ten publishers, he gave up on writing for a while.
Over the ensuing years, he came back to it periodically, but it never stuck. Then one day, he was complaining to Mark, his husband, early last year about how he had been derailed yet again by the death of a family member, and Mark said to him “the only one stopping you from writing is you.”
Since then, Scott has gone back to writing in a big way, finishing more than a dozen short stories – some new, some that he had started years before – and seeing his first sale. He’s embarking on a new trilogy, and also runs the Queer Sci Fi site, a support group for writers of gay sci fi, fantasy, and supernatural fiction.