Here is your tasty book sample, Gentle Reader!
THE 1ST CHAPTER
What’s with the pet thing anyway?
There is no doubt about it. Humans are weird.
Surely all the other aliens would agree with Tristol on this subject – especially at the pub (which was run by humans) on the space station (also run by humans). But humans could be efficient in their weirdness and often quite fun. And no one argued with the fact that they were awfully prolific in all things, breeding faster than any other space-faring species ever encountered in the charted galaxy. They spread. Like fungus. They also spread their legs. A lot.
They were cute, though. Tristol admitted that. Fertile sexy brown-toned creatures, humans, with those adorable round little ears and petal shaped eyes.
But they were also weird.
Take the whole keeping of pets thing. Who would have dreamed up such an eccentricity? Keep an animal in one’s abode intended for neither work nor food but just companionship? Very weird.
Tristol, however, was a galoi, the notoriously easygoing loga variant, too. Which meant that once he met one of these so-called pets, he was rather taken with the concept. Or at least, this particular sample thereof.
*Cat*neuter*pet* Mister Montiguous was currently under Tristol’s care. And Tristol was utterly enamored of the funny hairy four-footed beastie. To have charge of a cat, particularly this cat, was a truly sacred responsibility.
Mister Montiguous’s humans were away on their second honeymoon. Tris had been chosen to feed the cat, and to pet the cat, and to call the cat a wonderful feline creature.
Tristol had no idea what a second honeymoon meant. To start with, the word honeymoon was mysterious. What did the excrement of bees and a satellite astral body have to do with spousal contracts? And then, why did one need two of them?
*Human*female*friend* Elle spoke eloquently about wanting to sit on sand and drink fruity drinks with umbrellas in them for her second honeymoon.
Tristol’s hair quivered in confusion. Why sand? Would not sand get into certain intimate places? Most uncomfortable. Then, after looking up the word umbrella because it was new to him, there being no weather on a space station, Tris was also left wondering, Why stick a large accessory meant for rain into one’s drink? Would this not damage both the accessory and the drink? Seemed a soggy bit of business.
But Elle and *human*male*friend* Olav (Elle’s spousal contract) were excited about the whole endeavor. Since Tris spent most of his life excited about something, he was always delighted to facilitate the sensation in others. So he sent his *human*heterosexual*spousal-unit*friends* off on their weird *soggy*sandy*honeymoon* thingy and undertook the task of looking after their cat.
Mister Montiguous was a diminutive furry creature who happened to miraculously weigh the same as a small asteroid when standing on one’s chest. Tris thought dark matter might be involved. The cat had the general attitude that if given due worship, devotees would be rewarded with a loud rumbling sub-vocalization (called a purr) and the occasional tiny tongue lick.
Tris thought both purr and licks were the most wonderful things. He was a particular fan of all sub-vocal rumblings. The isoga of his own species made a similar noise when calming their young.
Elle had actually been hesitant when asking Tris to help with the cat. Not because she did not trust Tris, but because she thought Mister Montiguous might require too much effort.
“He can be such a bother, Tris love.”
Tris had bounced on his heels, hair trembling in excitement. “It is a profound honor. You will show me everything to do with Mister Montiguous’s maintenance and I shall be most diligent in his alimentation.”
Elle had looked at him as if he were daft.
Tris was accustomed to that, from humans. His boss gave him that look nearly half a dozen times a day. But Tris was genuinely thrilled. After all, wasn’t this the reason to live among aliens? To experience their foibles. Like tiny predators as pets. And honeymoons. Perhaps when Elle and Olav took their third honeymoon, they would let him join them and observe.
The first time Tris met Mister Montiguous, Tris had been, as Olav put it, gobsmacked. (A good word, that. Tris would have to find a moment to apply it himself. )
“But why do you have a *cat*neuter*pet*?” Tris kept asking them, after he determined the creature was not a new species of sentient alien. He would not want to offend the cat by talking about it, as if it could not participate in the conversation.
Mister Montiguous had a certain level of sentience, but not so that Tristol’s diplomatic training need be applied.
“Because cats are great,” Elle explained. “And they’re one of the few pets not restricted to the home world.” Apparently cats came from Hu-Core and had spread across the universe along with their human protectors.
They had been sitting in the humans’ living room and drinking tea at the time, a ritual Tris found odd if enjoyable. Hot beverages as an instrument of welcome, fancy that? They were all watching the cat. Mister Montiguous performed some kind of interpretive dance move in pursuit of a tossed fluffy ball. Olav laughed and called him a wonderful feline creature.
“You keep it around for entertainment?” Tris had learned early on that there was very little humans would not do in pursuit of entertainment. (This also possibly explained all the progeny. ) They were easily entertained, especially, as it turned out, by Tris. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement. Tris was wildly curious and naturally flirty, and humans were easily flattered by both. Perhaps cats were the same.
Olav was good about explaining things once he knew Tristol was eager to learn. “Originally, cats went on ships for pest control. They’re rather ferocious hunters, although you’d never know it looking and old Monty here. His most strenuous activity is eviscerating a bowl of protein sim.”
Mister Montiguous stopped chasing the fluffy ball and flopped over in apparent exhaustion.
“It is marvelous,” defended Tris, utterly charmed.
When Mister Montiguous staggered over to him, and pressed a furry face into the hand Tris offered, Tris fell in love. Physical affection was something he greatly missed. Humans were not nearly as *open*contact*touch* as the galoi. He missed that a lot, and this funny hairy beastie seemed to notice.
“You can pet him, Tris. Just down his back and then scratch about the ears. Exactly.” Elle’s eyes were pleased as Tristol worshiped her cat.
“It is so soft!”
“He is a he, Tris,” Elle corrected, gently.
“But I thought you said it was a neuter?”
Olav laughed. “Neutered, not neuter. He has masculine parts. Well, some of them, just no longer the ability to procreate.”
Tristol nodded. That made sense. The cat was like a male isoga, then. Physically male, only without the ability to inseminate like an antiga. Tris adjusted his vocabulary to the proper pronoun and worked hard to become very good friends with Mister Montiguous. Male isoga were often the most powerful of the galoi. He would not want to make a mistake with the cat equivalent.
Tris had been invited over to Elle and Olav’s quarters for a meal (hot beverages came before food). It was his first time inside the private quarters of a human couple on a friendship basis. It was always amazing to see the inside workings of a human home. Tris would do anything not to offend and be dismissed. So he did exactly as Elle instructed and stroked the cat along the grain of his fur.
Mister Montiguous began to purr.
Tris decided that Mister Montiguous was the best thing in the whole galaxy.
Except for Detective Hastion, of course.
Detective Hastion made his hair fluff.
Now, several rotations later, Elle and Olav had invited Tris to cat-sit, and Tristol was beyond honored. Although cat-sit was another odd word. Tris hoped he was not meant to actually sit on top of Mister Montiguous. He did not think either of them would enjoy that. In fact, it seemed to work the other way around. The cat would occasionally sit atop him in some kind of primitive dominance display, as if Tristol were mere furniture designed specifically for one dictatorial carnivore. Tris accepted this status gravely.
He took his cat-sitting duty very seriously, more seriously than his actual professional job on the space station.
“You need to do what?” His *human*female*boss* Adjudicator Jones seemed more than unusually gobsmacked by his insistence. (Such a good word. )
“I must leave early, my boss,” Tris said, clasping his fingers, bouncing only a little, and trying to control the rapidity of his breathing. He was about to go feed a cat! “I must go forthwith to bestow upon Mister Montiguous his protein supper. It is the hour of his consumption.” Tristol tried to use big impressive words so his boss might understand how important this was.
“Who,” Adjudicator Jones asked with slow confused gravity, “is Mister Montiguous?”
Tristol was amazed. “You have not met him? Oh but he is wonderful! He is…” he allowed a significant pause to draw out the verbal tension, “…a feline.”
His boss did not seem suitably impressed. “You need to leave early to feed a cat?”
“Yes! Do you not see how important it is? I have been given sacred charge of a beloved human pet. He is a delicate thing. I must take the greatest of care with him.”
“Tristol, it’s just a cat.”
Tris did not understand such a dismissive attitude.
“Oh, stop looking at me with such big wounded eyes. Go on, then.” She flapped her hand at him. “Wait.”
Tris paused before sprinting out the door.
“Don’t forget your com pad.”
Tristol’s hair wilted slightly in embarrassment. “Oh dear. Of course not.” He gathered up his small portable computing device and other necessary communication equipment from his desk, as he was supposed to do every night.
The adjudicator merely looked affectionately amused. “How long will you have care of this cat?” How long, he knew she was really asking, will you be so scattered?
“Six whole days!” Tris tried to impress upon her the significance of the responsibility. “I am the only one they asked. Such a privilege.”
His boss looked as if she were trying not to laugh. She did that a lot around him. Tris thought, sometimes, it was one of the reasons she hired him. Humans and their love of entertainment.
He was also an excellent diplomatic negotiator and cultural mediator, of course. He was, after all, loga. Those few galoi who left Gal were in high demand because they were all loga, and loga got along well with every other species. Loga got along with everyone. Except for the pakaa nova. But then no one got along with them. And even pakaa nova were still more likely to talk to a galoi than any other alien.
Most species also thought galoi were cute and unthreatening. Big round eyes, excitable hair, and purple tones apparently conveyed wonder and innocence. Tristol would take what he could get.
Humans also thought the galoi were sexy.
Tris thought this was great.
But right now he had a cat to feed.
Lilliput Mocks the Cover
There it is, the first scene of The 5th Gender, I hope you enjoy Tristol and his general perspective on humans and life aboard a space station.
You can buy here, or you can find out more about this book on my website.
If you want more insight into this book you can take a look at the inspiration board on Pinterest!
Yours with silly aliens,
- Did you miss my latest release announcement? This stuff goes to my Chirrup members, because I love them bestest. Sign up here.
- Not into newsletters? Get only new releases by following Gail on Amazon or BookBub!
The 5th Gender (A Tinkered Stars Mystery as G. L. Carriger).
Preorder on Amazon | Elsewhere | Direct from Gail
Audio is coming.
Sci-fi queer romance meets cozy mystery in which a hot space station cop meets the most adorable purple alien ever (lavender, pulease!) from a race with 5 genders.
- Reticence, The 4th and final Custard Protocol book. August 6, 2019
- Fan Service Omnibus, October 2019 to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Soulless.
- Need to know what Gail is writing right now? That’s in the Chirrup.
GAIL’S DAILY DOSE
Your Moment of Parasol . . .
The Queen June, 1874
Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Your Tisane of Smart . . .
10 Specialty Bookstores That Are Definitely Worth a Visit
Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
The Funniest and Weirdest Stories Of Damaged Library Books
Some days I’m a machine, some days I move the colored squares around on my Google calendar so it makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something.
~ Self on Twitter
Quote of the Day:
“Does anything ever get described as a ‘low-octane thriller’?”
~ Borderlands Books Hillarious “Overhead in the store” April News
(Gail suggests Mad Max… haw haw)
“I suspect it may be like the difference between a drinker and an alcoholic; the one merely reads books, the other needs books to make it through the day.”
(Interview with The Booklovers blog, September 2010)” ~ Gail Carriger