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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Space Opera

Aldeaith Tearshan (of The Outworlder, by Natalie J. Holden)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a young soldier who left his bucolic world to get a taste of the bigger universe. He’s here to tell us about the people of a thousand worlds, of the technomagic that binds them together, and picking sides when the rebels are people he grew up with.


Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

I was born in Nes Peridion, one of the newly colonized worlds in Meon Cluster. My parents came from Tarviss—well, they were brought by their lord, but quickly realized that away from Tarviss he had no way to keep them under control and got rid of him. So we lived as free people.

My parents were simple farmers and the first people to settle in Nes Peridion. It took them a lot of work to turn it into the fruitful farming colony it is today. The beginnings were especially hard, our crops and stock needed time to adjust to local soil and climate. I was born a few cycles after they settled and I think that by that time, the worst was already over. Some years were rough, though.

What did you do as a child?

There was always something to do at the farm, and we had to help since we were old enough to stand. Not the hard stuff, just keeping an eye on zeeath birds or working in the herb garden.

‘We’?

I have a sister and two older brothers. Well, had. My brothers died as children, taken by the diseases. I don’t really remember them too well.

My sister’s fine. She lives with our mom in Nes Peridion.

Between dead siblings and constant work, that sounds like a pretty rough childhood.

It’s the one I had. Do you think Dahlsian children have it better? They may get their education and their playtime, but they spend their lives locked in. They never feel the sun on their faces, or the breeze in their hair. They never play with living animals. They don’t even eat real food, only this tubed sludge. And when they go outside, they freak out, they go down with allergies, sunburn, and their immune systems are so compromised, a light cough can kill them.

I was never sick in my life. Drop me in a new world and I can survive, I don’t even need any fancy technomagic. I know how to find shelter, make water safe to drink, find food. I could build my own house if I had to. And I’m strong enough to carry a Dahlsi person through half the world—I already did that once, when my colleague broke her leg. She was as light as a feather.

So was it really that bad for me?

Do you have any cherished memories?

Hm. Maybe the times Aeva and I ran to the river to play. I liked making patterns with colorful stones. Aeva was always better at pretending. She also learned to crochet little dolls—I think in old Tarviss they were used for some rituals, but we just used them to play. Although mom would always undo them to save the yarn. Textiles were hard to come by in Nes Peridion.

Just the two of you?

Yeah. We were never good with other people—well, Aeva was a bit better, she even had friends. But most of the time we preferred each other’s company.

It got harder as I grew older and my brothers died. The amount of work to do remained the same, but there were fewer hands to do it. We were a small community, you know, so we had to do everything by ourselves. Not just grow food, but make houses, make furniture, make tools. Travel to the lake to fish or the nearby mountains for salt and lime. Also, there was no iron anywhere nearby so if a tool broke and no trader came, we had to replace it with a flint one. 

Flint?

It’s not so uncommon. All the metals in Tarviss have been mined ages ago; iron tools have to be brought from off-world and if they break, people have to use what they have on hand.

I became quite good at this. Maybe because I could sit for hours hitting rocks until they produced something I was happy with.

What do you do now?

I left Nes Peridion to work for Mespana. It’s a Dahlsian organization, but they accept outworlders. Our primary job is exploring new worlds within Meon Cluster and assessing their usefulness to the colonists. But we also had other duties. Escorting tax collectors or helping colonists with various problems.

Continue reading “Aldeaith Tearshan (of The Outworlder, by Natalie J. Holden)”

Kate & Kyle (of Chaos Fountain, by D.C. Ballard)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a rambunctious couple. Let’s hope we can settle them down to an interview about life in their world, where they will tell us how an average-Joe got to be an intergalactic admiral, and what is it like living with a commercial telepath.


Kyle: “Oh for crying out loud, another one of these? Don’t I even get to introduce myself? I’m sure you have that down somewhere, but can I at least intro myself?”

Of course.

Kyle: “Cool, thank you. Hope you don’t mind, but I asked my fiance to join me this time. I expected that when Tory asked me to sit for another interview, that it would be another one of these things.”

That is fine.

Kyle: “Well, my name is Kyle Durlow, and this is my fiance Kate Trell-do.”

Kate: “Katlene Thor Trell-do, to be specific. Kyle, how come the only person I can sense is you?”

Kyle: “Not sure. I suspect that the interviewer isn’t actually here, or they are some kind of semi-sentient construct. Tory still hasn’t answered that question from the first time around.”

Kate: “Ah. Wish a lack of answers from him was a surprise.”

So, Kyle. Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

Kyle: “Nothing special about where I grew up, assuming you are familiar with mid-90’s Earth. I mean. I have been to several alternate realities at this point, and with few exceptions, the mid-90s is damn near the same everywhere. Kinda weird that way.

I was born in central California. Lived and grew up in the Sacramento/Auburn/Stockton area over various parts of my youth and teenage years. Went to high school there. Was a B-ish student, had a few friends, summer job at one fast food joint or another. I hung out at the mall. Got my first car at 16, a true POS of a VW Rabbit. It only had three cylinders, but it got me to where I needed to go, and it sipped gas.

I did community college and earned Associates, which got me a job in San Diego. Like I said, nothing special about me, at least not until I met Kate.”

I see. Okay then, what about you Kate? Or do you prefer Katlene?

Kate: “Kate is fine, thank you.

I was born on the Kaldaree colony world of Fuullist, where my father was working at the time as a power consultant. I spent the first few years of my life as a colony kid. I got a better education than most because dad was well paid and mom was from a core family. Because my mother wasn’t more than a sensitive, she could choose any mate she wanted. Don’t let the laws fool you. The core families don’t give you much choice, other than a choice of pre-selected mates, if you are anything over a Class 8.

My abilities manifested right when they should, which was only a year we after returned to Kal-dar, the Kaldaree home world. As I was already done with my base education, and displaying abilities, mom’s family sponsored me to attend the second best telepath academy. I was only rated as a high Class 10, so I consider myself lucky to have gotten that. The graduation certificate got me into the legal telepath program, and uncle Kel covered the cost as a graduation present.

As with Kyle, it really was not that unusual for someone of my species who was a low level telepath. I had friends, played kids games. I was normal.” Continue reading “Kate & Kyle (of Chaos Fountain, by D.C. Ballard)”

Nash Xander Korpes (of The Korpes File by J.I. Rogers)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a master technician, formerly with the Korlune Military Research and Development. He is also the first from the diasporan population to win top prize at the prestigious Symposium.

As Nash’s time is limited, I’ve arranged to meet with him between appointments. He indicated that he is willing to answer questions about his early life and talk about some of  the difficulties he’s faced, career-wise, in a country ruled by xenophobic traditions.


Congratulations to you and your team on your recent Symposium win, Master-Tech Korpes. Do you have a moment to share with my readers?

Certainly, it would be my privilege, Assaph. I’m a big fan of your column.

How does it feel to be the first Diasporan entrant to have won this prestigious competition?

That’s not entirely accurate. My Master-Mech, Davis Trent, is also Diasporan but I think I can speak for both of us by saying it feels great.

Can you give my readers a little history about yourself? Where were you born, for instance?

Born? Just kidding. Yes, contrary to popular opinion I wasn’t hatched in a Rec-Gen lab; I had real parents, though I never met my father. He was killed in our last border skirmish with Ankoresh. My great-grandparents were among the first Tyran refugees settled in Diaspora Twelve after the final exodus. Locals referred to D-Twelve as Astel which means ‘hope’ in Tyr; my mother said it actually translated to ‘awful weather.’

By the time I was seven, my mother had become the Master-Mech in charge of the city’s reactor. She, my grandmother, my sister and I lived in a three-bedroom apartment that had been in our family since the settlement. The city was less than twenty kilometers from the coast, so we were constantly being hit by the storms that blew in from the Northern Hotari Sea; our dome maintenance crews deserved medals for their efforts.

Up until ten years ago, Astel had one of the top producing Tellium mines which employed over half the city’s population. Sadly, like most of our equipment, our air filtration systems were outdated and couldn’t handle the level of dust that was generated. The particulates that escaped created a perpetual amber-hued haze. You had to mask-up when they were swapping the filters out, or you’d run the risk of getting a lung infection. Continue reading “Nash Xander Korpes (of The Korpes File by J.I. Rogers)”

Jazatar Baldrik, aka Jaz (of Trust A Few by EM Swift-Hook)

Dear readers, tonight we have something slightly different. A notorious criminal was recently released back into The City. After 5 years of brutal convict military service, he has to face up to a future with very limited prospects.

We could not get him to appear on the interview couch as a guest, as we lost track of him amongst the stars. Instead, we were able to replicate here the last pre-release report from the Coalition.


Report of interview with Jazatar Baldrik.

Pre-Release assessment final phase. Interview conducted by Specialist Interrogator Kilven, Coalition Security Forces. Interrogation Room 473.

Subject appeared slightly ill at ease, high levels of adrenaline recorded, several emotional peaks noted, none visible externally. Neurocological reports suggest the degree of honesty and self-revelation the interview required will have been a mid-level trauma for the subject.

So Jaz – You prefer I call you Jaz? Good – You have been serving a sentence with the Special Legion for the last  five years – and that means you must have committed a crime that is considered a capital offense. Can you tell me about that? Oh, and do bear in mind we’ll know if you are lying to us and if you do that could prejudice your chances of release.

Yeah. I know that. I’ve been wired to the Lattice long enough to know how it works. But, your question, what’s to tell? It’ll all be in my record and you lot ripped everything I ever knew about anything out of me when I was arrested. So you know I was part of a terrorist attack on a Coalition installation. If it’d worked it’d have screwed up Coalition control of the Varn Sector, but it didn’t – someone must’ve betrayed us because you lot were there and waiting. And you know what? The fact I had zero previous and a solid record as a merc fighting in your inter-corporate resource wars didn’t even get a mention at my trial. And you’ll also know I never liked those fanatics in the Legacy, I’m not going to have anything more to do with them. I only did it for my brother.

Ah yes, your ‘brother’ – not a biological relationship, but you felt a strong emotional bond for Avilon Revid, the leader of that terrorist strike. Do you still feel the same way?

About Avilon? Well now that’s an interesting question, because he’s not ‘Avilon Revid’ anymore is he? After your brain plumbers got through with him he’s a completely different person. He’s not got the faintest idea about what he was like before, only what he’s been told. So no, I don’t feel the same way – I feel it different. But no matter what he’s become he’s still my brother and I’m not going to let him rot if he gets out of this. Continue reading “Jazatar Baldrik, aka Jaz (of Trust A Few by EM Swift-Hook)”

Ayn (of Shiva XIV by Lyra Shanti)

shiva-xiv-lyra-shanti

Dear readers, tonight with us is Ayn, otherwise known as The Bodanya, Shiva the Fourteenth. Predestined to become the great messiah of his people, Ayn must save his galaxy from disease and war. But when an unknown enemy threatens everyone he loves, the destiny he thought was his spins out of control.

He is here to tell about the conflicts of his true identity, and the choices he made in life. 

Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

I grew up secluded in the Holy Temple on the planet Deius. I was mostly raised by the high priest, Meddhi-Lan, who was like a father to me. I didn’t know my mother very well, unfortunately, for it was against the Dei priests’ laws. I’m not sure why… but they didn’t let me see her much. Unfortunately, the priests believed me to be their “Bodanya,” which means savior. It was very difficult for me to accept as a child. I just wanted to be a normal boy. If I’m honest, I had a strange, gilded childhood. However, I was given a lot of love and attention from Meddhi-Lan, and from my secondary teacher, Pei, who was like an older brother. I had a wonderful dog-like pet named Duna too. I have fond memories of my childhood, despite its abnormality.

Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?

I was mostly forced to study, especially meditation, since I was expected to understand the “paradox” of the universe. But I did receive a wonderful birthday gift when I was seven. It was a blue-colored toy boat, and I loved it so very much. I believed it could fly, and I would one day fly in it to the heavens where I would meet all the Gods in the old myths. Continue reading “Ayn (of Shiva XIV by Lyra Shanti)”

Craze (of The Backworlds by M. Pax)

M Pax - The BackworldsDear readers, tonight on the guest couch with have Craze, the interstellar adventurer. Craze will tell about the The Backworlds, and the amazing sights he’s seen amongst the stars.

 

What are the Backworlds exactly?

The Backworlds are the outmost solar systems inhabited by humans. Backworlders are genetically modified humans, in other words, humans terrformed to fit a world instead of the world terraformed for humans. Backworlders were created by Fo’wo’s, who grew to resent us then tried to annihilate us.

What was the lowest point in your adventures?

I thought it was when my Pa threw me out of the house ‘n kicked me off the planet. I didn’t know crap then. Being the most hated man in the galaxy is a low point. A really low one. Continue reading “Craze (of The Backworlds by M. Pax)”

Ziva Payvan (of Dakiti by EJ Fisch)

 

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Dear readers, tonight we have the rare opportunity to talk with a very special guest. You know her work but not her face. She is one of the Fringe’s deadliest assassins and commander of the Haphezian Special Police’s elite Alpha special operations team.

What can you tell us about the planet of Haphez? What was it like growing up there?

As you might imagine, I’m a little biased. There are some beautiful planets in this galaxy, but Haphez tops them all. We as a people take a tremendous amount of pride in our homeworld. Some of the views of the mountains and forests and the Tranyi River are absolutely breathtaking. Even so, physical appearance isn’t everything. I didn’t have what many would consider an…ideal upbringing; after spending most of my childhood on my own and most of my adult life working for HSP, I’ve gotten an inside look at the true nature of this place. Like any civilized world, there’s a seedy underbelly – that corruption and danger you don’t see at first glance. Some of that is because we get a lot of foreign traffic here. Our Noro Spaceport is one of the last major stops before you leave the Fringe and enter unsettled space. But there are plenty of Haphezian natives who make their fair share of contributions to the problems we have. It was something I saw first-hand during my time on my own, and something I continue to see almost every day thanks to my career.

I’m sorry, this probably wasn’t the answer you were looking for. I’m probably the worst person to ask about this. Obviously not everyone has had the same problems as I have, and after spending years focusing on and fighting the negative, it’s sometimes hard to see the positive. Continue reading “Ziva Payvan (of Dakiti by EJ Fisch)”

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