Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Categories: M/M Romance, Romance, Science Fiction
Creating planets and guarding the stars leaves novice planet builder Kai Faewiva lonely. For members of Kai’s species who are born with an organ called a caerellon, their true love, their Sun or Moon, is identified at birth. But the novices are people who have lost their perfect love, and Kai’s Sun is long dead, killed in an accident when he was five years old. Or so everyone thought.
After recovering from another bout of the unidentified illness he has battled for years, Kai returns to work. But his quiet day at the planetarium is thrown into chaos when scans of Goka Prime, one of the planets in the Sol-Alpha2 system, picks up a life-form that shouldn’t be there. Kai’s Sun, Oliver Gyin, is alive and well, but how he got to be on Goka Prime, no one knows. Now he needs to be brought home.
Ollie has lived most of his life in the City of Harrea, never guessing he is from another planet. Surprised to find a stranger means the world to him, Ollie wrestles with his loyalties and the drive to return with Kai. To leave Goka Prime, he must give up everything and everyone he knows. But twenty years apart means Kai and Ollie face a fight to secure their destined future.
The East Terrace had clear views of the city and the hills in the distance, and the setting sun bathed the world in hues of red, purple, and orange. “One of the best views from the palace,” Ollie said. “Guests aren’t usually allowed here.”
Kai glanced back to the door. “Will we get in trouble?”
“No, Menish is a personal friend. He won’t mind.”
“Must be good to have a friend who rules the city.”
Ollie chuckled. “We went to school together. I often have to remind myself that he’s the sultan and not the kid who helped me toilet paper the housemaster’s study windows.”
“Very good friends.”
Ollie didn’t think Kai needed to know just how good a friend Menish had been at one point, although what they had enjoyed was nothing more serious than teenage exploration. “Put it this way: he’d have no problem with me showing you this terrace.”
“The sunset is quite beautiful,” Kai said, turning to face it, and Ollie thought Kai wanted to steer the conversation away from Menish.
“Yes. It changes through the seasons, but I think this is my favorite time of year.”
“Then I am fortunate we chose this time to visit and a place on the mission became available.”
Kai’s choice of word in calling his visit a mission was a little strange, but Ollie thought better of mentioning anything. “Oh, you were. The festival to celebrate the end of harvest starts in a few days, and the city is awash with stalls and street entertainment.”
Kai turned back to him, cocked his head to one side, and smiled. “Perhaps you would agree to be my guide for that as well?”
The hopeful expression and the slight smile made Ollie swallow thickly as he stared into Kai’s dark brown eyes in the failing light. Kai bit his bottom lip and tilted his head back a little to look Ollie in the eye, making Ollie lick his own lips involuntarily. His hand twitched to cup Kai’s cheek and rub his thumb across his cheekbone to prove his hypothesis that Kai’s skin would be soft and warm to the touch.
The little voice in the back of his head returned, and it bluntly reminded Ollie he wasn’t a single man. The pang of guilt made him turn away, and he saw a confused look on Kai’s face. Not only was he in danger of betraying Rica, but he was also leading Kai along on a dance that Kai didn’t know Ollie already had a partner for.
He stepped away, shaking his head. “I’m sorry, Kai. I can’t do this. While I can’t deny you have caught my eye like no one else, I am not the type of man to be unfaithful.” There, he’d said it, made it clear he was attached, and Kai’s expression morphed first to confusion and then into hurt. “I don’t understand.”
“I have a boyfriend.”
“Boyfriend?” asked Kai weakly.
“His name is Rica. He’s away at sea.” The devastation on Kai’s face almost made Ollie step closer and gather him into his arms, but he forced himself to put more distance between them. “I’m sorry, Kai. I was so wrapped up in the connection we seemed to share I lost sight of things. I should never have let it get this far, and I must stop it going further.”
“I see.” Kai turned away. “I wish you a good evening, Mr. Gyin. If you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to enjoy the view a little longer before I find one of the servants to show me to my room.”
“Of course. I’ll see you in the morning.”
Kai didn’t reply, and Ollie retreated back inside, part of his mind protesting that he was going the wrong way, the other part telling him he was doing the right thing. He turned back to see Kai still standing on the terrace, his head bent. Ollie fled, fearing that if he stayed a moment longer he’d do something he’d really enjoy but regret later.
Today we ask Rebecca about the joys and challenges of science fiction world building. Here’s what she had to say:
I have wanted to write a science fiction gay romance for ages, thanks to the love sci fi I developed as a teenager and the subsequent science degrees I earned. ‘Under Glass’ was a project that took almost a year to complete, and allowed me to combine my love of biology with my fascination for planet formation. Yeah, I am as geeky as that sounds.
I imagine the joys of world building for me are similar to other people’s. This is my world and my rules! If I want my characters to have super advanced endocrine system, then I can have it, and it doesn’t have to be based on the human one. I can break the laws of physics, and reinvent evolution and biological development to suit my species to my heart’s desire.
The biggest challenge for me is to create the world without either giving too much or too little detail. If I want alien bazaars then I need the smells of spices, a range of oddities that appear on the stalls and the jostle of people, but I don’t necessarily need spend pages describing every single new vegetable. The same could be said for the mode of transport. In ‘Under Glass’ Kai travels to a planet his species made that is housed in the planetarium. I invent a process and refer to mathematical constants they use but I don’t try and show every detail. The first reason for this is because this is fiction and if I could do physics that well I’d be working at CERN and, secondly, the idea is enough: too much exposition makes the story drag.
World building is one of my favourites things relating to writing, and science fiction allows me to be as free as possible. I dare say it would be no surprise to hear I’d like to write more sci fi in the future.
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Rebecca Cohen is a Brit abroad. Having swapped the Thames for the Rhine, she has left London behind and now lives with her husband and young son in Basel, Switzerland. She can often be found with a pen in one hand and a cup of Darjeeling in the other.
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