Jameson Havercamp, a psych from a conservative religious colony, has come to Oberon—unique among the Common Worlds—in search of a rare substance called pith. He’s guided through the wilds on his quest by Xander Kinnson, a handsome, cocky skythane with a troubled past.
Neither knows that Oberon is facing imminent destruction. Even as the world starts to fall apart around them, they have no idea what’s coming—or the bond that will develop between them as they race to avert a cataclysm.
Together, they will journey to uncover the secrets of this strange and singular world, even as it takes them beyond the bounds of reality itself to discover what truly binds them.
Author Name: J. Scott Coatsworth
Publisher: Other Worlds Ink
Release Date: Saturday, October 10 2020
Genres: sci fi, wingfic, LGBTQ
LGBTQ+ Identities: gay, lesbian
Tropes: secret royalty, wingfic, portal fiction
Keywords/Categories: sci fi, science fiction, wingfic, aliens, gay, lesbian, trilogy, LGBTQ, portal, secret royalty, sci fi
Jameson held on for dear life as Quince steered her cycle off into the fields on the right side of the road. The bike raced along about five feet above the ground, the leaves of the plants whipping his arms and face as they rushed by. They were riding up the row between two tall stands of what looked like boxcorn, the plants heavy with square ears of the industrial vegetable.
He glanced back. Xander’s bike zoomed down the open road, racing off in an entirely different direction. “He’s a sitting duck on the road,” he said to Quince, shouting over the sound of the engine and the wind, jabbing his finger in Xander’s general direction. Though why that should bother him was beyond him. The man was a prick.
“He can take care of himself,” Quince shouted back. “Right now I have to worry about your ass.”
He looked down at the ground moving past—they weren’t going too fast yet. He could jump off the bike and run into the field. With any luck, he’d be able to lose himself among the corn plants and maybe find his way back to Oberon City, or maybe flag down the hoversport.
Behind them, one of those hoversports had risen off the ground and was following them doggedly. He prepared to jump, but then Quince poured on the speed, and his moment was gone.
He’d have to wait for a better chance. “And what about you?” he shouted. “Who’s watching your ass?” He glanced backward worriedly at the hoversport that was coming after them. It was quickly gaining ground.
“I’m not worried about me.”
As he watched the hoversport, it fired off a shot that burned away a half a dozen boxcorn plants to their left. “Holy crap. They’re trying to kill us.” He shuddered. There was no way he was bailing on the hoverbike now.
“Not if I can help it.” She turned halfway around, holding a pulse rifle, and got off a shot in the general direction of the hoversport. It evaded the blast easily.
The bike, however, veered slightly, sending a sickening shudder through Jameson’s stomach and taking a chunk out of the neat and even row of boxcorn.
“Give it to me.” He was not going to be killed in some stupid accident in a field in the middle of nowhere.
“Do you know how to use it?” The hoversport was almost on top of them now, and Jameson imagined he could see the pilot glaring at him from behind the dark plas window.
“Yes, I learned how to use one on my last posting on a mining colony. Sunday afternoon entertainment. Now give it to me.”
She nodded and handed the pulse rifle back to him. He grasped it and slipped his right hand around the grip.
With one hand around Quince’s waist, he turned and got off a quick shot. He winged the hoversport but it seemed to shrug off the blast.
“It’s shielded,” she said. “You have to hit it when the pulse laser fires.”
“Pulse laser?” He looked back at the approaching hoversport. Something that looked disturbingly like a gun turret was descending from the underside of the hoversport. “You’re kidding me.” He turned back to Quince. “They’re going to shoot us!”
He held on to her as best he could with his arm encumbered by the rifle. She veered through one of the rows of corn, the leaves slapping at them as if trying to pull them off the bike. There was a thunderous blast behind them as several of the corn plants seemed to spontaneously burst into flame.
“Hit ’em now!” Quince called back.
He turned and fired at the hoversport, but he was too slow. The pulse bounced off the shields harmlessly.
“They’re trying to kill us,” he said incredulously. “Oh my God, they’re trying to kill me.” He started shaking uncontrollably. “Why would they want to kill me?”
“Pull it together, Jameson,” Quince said. “I’d slap you if I could, but you’re going to have to do it yourself.”
Jameson’s gut twisted. No one had ever actively tried to kill him before. His parents were pacifist Christianists, so even his home life had been calm and quiet. Mostly.
“Hold on again, and get ready to fire.”
Jameson took a deep breath and steeled himself. There would be time enough to freak out later, if they got through this alive. He gripped Quince’s waist tightly with his left hand and turned just as the gun mount pulled back to deliver another laser pulse. He shot two blasts at the hoversport as Quince veered again, this time to the left. He glanced back to see one of them connect with the turret.
A blue lightning bolt spread out like a spiderweb, a hair-thin tracery spreading across the belly of the hoversport. Electricity raced around the top of the ship, sizzling in the afternoon air. Then it split the hoversport apart like an egg, the whole thing exploding and showering debris across the sky.
Little bits of burnt plas hit his back, and then the remnants of the hoversport were behind them as the cycle sped away.
“I did it.” He started to laugh, flushed with adrenaline. “I fucking did it!” He never cursed—well, hardly ever—but the force of the moment overrode his normal composure.
“Congratulations,” Quince said dryly.
Then the import of what he had done hit him. He’d taken a human life. Probably several. The sickness in his gut returned in force. “Stop the bike.”
“We should keep going,” Quince said. “There may be more of them coming.”
“Stop the goddamned bike!” He was going to lose it.
Quince braked to a halt, settling to the ground roughly and kicking up a cloud of dust.
He jumped off and fell to the ground, throwing up violently, expelling the contents of his stomach on the damp ground. It went on for what seemed like an eternity, and his world was reduced to the cramp in his gut and the vile taste in his mouth.
He felt soiled, dirty. Reduced to an animal state.
Eventually there was nothing left to come out, and he lay on his side, his breaths heaving in and out of his chest.
Quince put a hand on his back. “First time?”
He nodded, not trusting himself to speak just yet for fear he would kick off another bout of vomiting. His mouth tasted foul.
His back chose that moment to start itching, and such a mundane reaction made him laugh harshly. He sat up and took a deep breath.
Quince knelt beside him. “I remember my first time too. Hardest thing I ever did, even if the bastard deserved it.”
Jameson looked up at her, searching her eyes. “You killed someone?”
She nodded. “It was shortly after I arrived in Oberon City. I was walking through the Slander—I didn’t know any better back then. A man assaulted me, probably wanted to swipe my crits. I would’ve let him, if I’d had any, but then he wanted more. I was all alone, but I wasn’t helpless.” Her eyes took on a faraway look. “I broke his neck.”
He looked up at her with newfound respect. “It didn’t bother you?”
She snorted. “I was sick to my stomach, like you were. Then I went home and cried about it for three days.”
“But you got over it?” He’d counseled people before with difficult issues, and he had always told them that it took time to heal their wounds. Now he was starting to wonder if he had been a total idiot. This didn’t feel like something that would just go away, no matter how much time passed.
Quince thought about it. “Mostly. I hope to, one day.” She stood. “It’s good that it hurts, though. It means you’re still human.” She offered her hand.
“I guess that’s something.” He took her hand and stood up, wiping off his mouth with the back of his arm. “Let’s go.”
“Are you ready?”
“As ready as I’m going to get.” How did OberCorp track us down?
He hopped back on the cycle behind her, and they took off toward the line of trees in the distance.
The first thing to say about this book was that the author clearly has a talent for sci-fi fantasy world building. The world, the magic, and the explanation about how the planet is divided is very well done.
The characters were a little confusing. Two men and their guardian who had been a nanny to one of them when he was a baby, plus a huge ensemble of secondary characters typical in a high fantasy book that would have worked if it had been about 30,000 words longer.
As it was the personal relationships were hurried, confusing, and never really meshed. A lot of page time was given to the guardian/nanny character including her own point of view which would have been okay in a longer book, but took time away from developing the main characters in this. Ultimately neither of the two men get enough emotional development even if this isn’t a romance they still need fleshing out as whole characters.
I never felt I truly knew either of them.
And be warned there is a relationship cliffhanger at the end.
Scott lives with his husband Mark in a yellow bungalow in Sacramento. He was indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine. He devoured her library, but as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were.
He decided that if there weren’t queer characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.
A Rainbow Award winning author, he runs Queer Sci Fi, QueeRomance Ink, and Other Worlds Ink with Mark, sites that celebrate fiction reflecting queer reality, and is a full member member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).
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