Twice the Man completes the Bete Trilogy by Stephanie Barr.
Six months ago, a cargo ship loaded with teens and kids fleeing a war on their homeworld accidentally get tossed across the universe via wormhole and crash-land on a beautiful, life-filled planet. But all is not paradise. Shapeshifters among these castaways must use their powers to fight not only the planet’s dangers but also those among the humans who equate the shapeshifters (Bete) with demons. In books one and two (Beast Within and Nine Lives), these threats are addressed.
In Twice the Man, Rem, who shifts into a primitive man, and Cil, the Jade Cobra take center stage and must face the worst threat yet, the natives of this planet who have the power to take their powers away. The Bete will have to face who they are outside their talents, forge new alliances, and find a way to survive this most deadly challenge yet. And all before nightfall
“Rem,” Sinda said, lowering her voice to an intent whisper. “Try to teleport out of here. Now while no one’s watching.”
Rem, who had still not opened his eyes, used all of his consciousness to visualize Cil and will himself there. The pain neither abated nor increased. But he went nowhere. He willed himself to grow, to become his other form, but, if there was even the slightest change, he could not detect it.
“No joy, eh?”
“None at all,” he whispered. “What now? I’d ask my talent, but I don’t have one anymore.”
He felt a slap on his arm, hard enough he opened his eyes without thinking, then reeled a couple of moments.
“Don’t you ever,” she hissed, “talk like that again. If you start moaning that you’re worthless, I will totally lose my temper. I can’t shift into anything and I haven’t exhibited even one tiny talent, but you think I’m worthwhile. And you’re right! Because I’m smart and capable and don’t just curl up and die when challenged. And neither do you. Last time you had an impossible problem, you developed a new talent instantly. Not that I’d turn it away today but say that doesn’t happen.”
“You don’t understand,” he said.
“Yeah, boo-hoo. Grieve later, we got stuff to do. Gonna give up, let the bad guys win, fall all to pieces just because you’re down to the same set of tools the rest of us humans have? If you do, I’ll know your tolerance of humans was a lie from the beginning as well as every word of admiration you’ve ever given me.”
“That’s not fair!”
“I’ve heard you and Xander say that no one is superior to anyone else, that there isn’t Prime and sub-Prime and, I presume, humans a step below that. If you truly believe that, you need to snap out of it. I get that losing a super-cool set of tools to play with is a bummer, but we don’t have time for that. You have all the gifts of the smartest humans I know. Use ’em and let’s figure out a way out of this mess, and, yes that may mean never getting your powers back. I promise, if you help find a way free, I’ll let you wallow in your disappointment for two whole weeks, but only when we have the time to spare.”
Rem had put his hand over his abused eyes, but he lifted it to regard Sinda through one eye. She really was wrong. She was still beautiful. “If I come up with a way out of this and it works, will you take my interest in you seriously? Treat me enough like a grownup that I have a chance to woo you?”
“Woo?” she went into a peal of laughter. “We’re surrounded by hostiles who have purged the magic out of everyone, we are facing death, torment, or enslavement, and you want to woo me?”
“What better time will I ever have?”
A bite of... Stephanie Barr
Q1: Would you rather be a hero or a villain?
I’d have to be the hero. To me, evil is illogical. Power and wealth for its own sake is meaningless and I don’t understand (even today after tons of study) why it has driven so much pain and destruction, why people have accepted it as natural for it to be a driver. Power and money buy you what? I don’t get it. And the people most driven to obtain it do so much damage and the after effects are almost always the opposite of what they intended (ignominy and self-destruction) because history is clear that pure drive for these things end in failure in the long run (always). Other drivers less universal but still common for villains: revenge, one-up-manship for the glory of one-up-manship, and lust strike me as equally stupid. Justice is fine but not revenge, else you become no better than the monster you’re fighting. And I think we need to walk away from the notion that people can’t control lust as plausible. Check yourself into a mental hospital. Kindness, empathy, tolerance understanding cooperation: everything good we have today came from these things. If I’m not supporting them, I’m way too short-sighted to be intelligent.
So, the problem with me being the villain is I’d have to be stupid. And I don’t like playing stupid characters.
Q2: What is worse, ignorance or stupidity?
Stupidity. Ignorance can be cured with will, education, and experience. Stupidity tends to willfully reject anything that challenges its supremacy.
Q3: Chocolate cake or coffee cake?
Coffee cake. I like chocolate all right, but it tends to be too sweet (I prefer dark chocolate) whereas I love cinnamon, butter and, on a really good day, cream cheese. Always.
Although Stephanie Barr is a slave to three children and a slew of cats, she actually leads a double life as a part time novelist and full-time rocket scientist. People everywhere have learned to watch out for fear of becoming part of her stories. Beware! You might be next! You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, her blog, her webpage or sign up for her newsletter to keep in touch.