On a world somewhat like Earth, but three thousand light-years nearer to the centre of the Milky Way galaxy, three rebellious young aliens met in secret to ready a spaceship for a forbidden adventure…
“We will be violating our most profound taboo,” said Novan in his voice of doom. “Traveling to unknown worlds—unauthorized primitive unclaimed worlds—looking for living beings we are commanded to leave alone.” His full name was Rleza-novan-nga, engineer and navigator. He had recently transitioned to his male phase.
“Yes! Won’t it be fun?” responded Alala. Analala-noa, still early in her female phase, was the researcher and inventor, and was deeply attracted to newly-male Novan. “And why are you using the language of the Talkis, Novan, instead of our beautiful Singi voice? You think just because you’ve made your transition to male you should talk like a tall upright Type 1?”
Novan stood erect on eight tentacles, balling up his four front foot tentacles. His newly-emerging male skin pattern and texture shone deep red.
“Look, he thinks he is a tall Type 1, lording it over us,” scoffed Alala. “Why don’t you stand on just two tentacles, like a real Type 1 biped?” She tried to push him off balance; then he chased her around the enclosure, making hooting noises. She squealed with joy, her skin patches glowing bright pink.
Nala ignored their chase. “Are you having second thoughts, Novan?” she asked. Bvar-nala-nga, also a young female, was the chronicler and songteller. Her pale green and mauve skin patches rippled rhythmically. “We all know this is crazy. We risk everything if we do this.
Novan spoke: “Yes, we’ve all traveled to the tame worlds of the Confederation. On this trip we’ll face so many more hazards. We’re likely to die. We plan to jump to worlds never before visited by any from the Confederation. No idea what we will encounter. Life forms inimical to our health and survival. Microbes that aren’t controlled by our toxin protocols. Alien races that view us as hostile invaders. “
“We won’t land on worlds until we’ve evaluated the hazards,” Alala replied, still enthusiastic. “Look at the other side. Suppose we discover exciting new worlds. When we return we’ll be greeted as heroes.
“If our leaders allow us to return. Such trips are forbidden. They’re likely to lock us up as soon as we land, to prevent us from telling others of our exploits. We’ll be shamed and shunned and exiled.”
Alala said to him, more sober now, “It’s not too late to turn back or follow a different path. We could send out robotic probes to these worlds and not travel there ourselves, therefore be less likely to get into trouble.”
“No,” Nala said, crossing her arm tentacles in a sign of negation. “Ever since we deciphered the song of the crystal,” she said, looking at the small piece of metal on the table, “we’ve known we were going. None of us would be satisfied if we changed our minds now.”
“Agreed,” said Alala. “We have but one chance. If we don’t take this adventure now, we never will. The Elders will take control of our lives. You, Novan, will be assigned to a drab male existence far from our clan Haw. Nala, you’ll have to sing the propaganda songs of the Elders, meant to keep our people in check. And I? Assigned to raise juveniles I have no clan connection with.”
“Yes, that’s right,” said Nala. “We’ve all agreed that our fates if we remain on this world are worse than death. Thus undertaking a hazardous journey loses us nothing. Death is the worst that can happen to us.”
The two females gazed intently at Novan, who drooped his eyestalks. “I agree with you. I’m not having second thoughts. I just wanted to make sure we all know that this is a perilous journey we are undertaking, not a childish lark.”
A Bite of… Mike van Horn
How much of you is in your hero/villain?
A lot. My heroine, Selena M, is a singer. She writes deep soulful songs but is afraid to perform them in public. I write deep philosophical pieces that I’ve never shared with anybody. She got rich performing maudlin country ballads. Her most famous is “Cotton Candy Lovin,” which she’s sick of, but is the most requested. I’ve written twenty-some business books, which powered my business for a quarter century, but my heart is in my science fiction stories.
But see, she had a singing alien that showed up and together they rekindled her passion for singing. My alien muses are of the insubstantial nature, but they do keep me focused on sci fi.
Would you rather live in this world or the one you create in your books?
I write the worlds I’d like to live in. Most of my stories take place on Earth in the near future, so it’s pretty familiar. I’d love to go to the clubs Selena performs at: Berzerkly, Club Xanadu, Slick Slims Slither Inn. They don’t exist, but they should.
I would also love to have Selena’s spaceship and travel to the worlds she goes to, and hobnob with her alien buddies.
I don’t do dystopias, hostile alien invasions, or evil monsters.
Who are the four people–living, dead, or fictional–you would most like to entertain at a dinner party?
I’ll invite Elon Musk and Neil deGrasse Tyson, because I’ve modeled two of my main characters after them.
I’d bring back Ursula LeGuin, because I love her stories, and she’d be an excellent counterbalance to these two powerful men.
And of course I’ll include my heroine, Selena M, because she’s a sassy chick who takes no guff, and she’d love to hang out with these folks.
Mike van Horn in his own words:
I started writing science fiction over thirty years ago, but writing to make a living got in the way. Lots of how-to books aimed at small business owners. Two books published traditionally, plus a dozen self-published, all built around our consulting business, The Business Group.
A few years ago I saw that if I was ever going to get my stories told in this lifetime I’d better get going! Since then I have concentrated on sci-fi. Aliens Crashed in My Back Yard started out as a short story, but metastasized into a trilogy, and I’m now working on Book 4.
I have an MBA from UCLA, and most of my career I’ve run small consulting firms. I’ve also started a restaurant, fixed up old apartment buildings, and run an export management firm. One thing I’ve never done is work for a large corporation.
Writing science fiction is by far the most fun!
My wife BJ is also a writer and a consultant. We live north of San Francisco in a house that’s too big, surrounded by oak trees.
The best place to find Mike is on his website where you can also find his blog and sign up for his newsletter. As Crazy Alien Escapade is yet to be published you can check out Aliens Crashed in My Back Yard, the first book in the Agate and Breadbox trilogy, while you are waiting.