We’re getting closer and closer! We’re so excited! But for now, we have today’s wonderful Author Guest, Carol Van Natta!
Why I Wrote Cats of War to Support Hero Dogs
by Carol Van Natta
When the Pets in Space 3 anthology organizers, Pauline Jones and Veronica Scott, invited me to write a story for this year’s anthology, my first question was “where do I sign?”
I love the idea of pets in space. Humans are hardwired for pets. I’ll bet you a small moon that when we humans finally make it to the stars, we’re taking our pets with us. And if we find other alien lifeforms that don’t eat us, we’ll try to make pets of them, too.
My story in the anthology is CATS OF WAR, for which I blame my cats. They insist all space opera is vastly improved by the inclusion of cats in the stories. They’re put out that the next book in the big damn story arc of my Central Galactic Concordance series doesn’t involve cats at all, so they prevailed on me to make it up to them with the creatures in this story. The future genetic designers who created the “cats of war” took features from several species, but mostly felines, to create stealthy spies and thieves, which cats naturally excel at. The short story excerpt below introduces the cats to Ferra Barray, the human heroine of the story.
In my previous Pets in Space story (PET TRADE), dogs were the heroes (and believe me, I got an earful from my cats about that). In CATS OF WAR, dogs are guards and hunters.
Don’t tell my darling cats, but I think dogs are today’s heroes, because of their versatility and companionship. The Pets in Space anthologies all support a fantastic charity, Hero-Dogs.org. They pair trained service dogs with disabled U.S. veterans and first responders to improve their life and help them regain independence.
Our medical science and military have made vast improvements in helping and dealing with the immediate physical and mental aftereffects of trauma, but we’re not so good at the long-term consequences. The same goes for first responders, who put their lives on the line when disaster strikes, and sometimes pay the price.
Our civilian infrastructure is designed based on the assumption that citizens are healthy in mind and body, and don’t need help, or extra time, or accommodation. To a disabled veteran or first responder, a trained service dog can be the difference between becoming a shut-in and finding their place in the world again.
This is why I hope you’ll buy Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3, and help us help America’s heroes.
Here’s the excerpt I promised:
The standing white-legged boxes for the container gardens looked bigger than she remembered them from her first-day tour. She skirted around to the left, under the hanging tree branches. Slower, fatter raindrops drummed on her hood.
The closer she got to the corner of the fence, the more she became convinced she had visitors in her mind. Not telepaths, because they used words, and not empaths, because they were all about feelings. The two thought patterns were lost, and cold, and hurt. They’d called and called, and finally found someone to hear them.
Great, now she was dreaming while awake in the middle of a rainstorm.
She aimed the torch for the dark hulk that had to be the repair bot. Sure enough, there were Oran Mòr’s orange stripes.
It turned its head, opened its eyes, and meowed softly.
Ferra nearly stumbled to her knees. The torch dropped to the ground and winked out.
A creature rose to its feet and shook water everywhere.
A picture blossomed in her mind of another dark catlike creature, waiting in the dark beyond the fence, unable to fly over it because of a broken wing.
She lit one of the small hand lights on her wrist. The creature in front of her stood knee-high at the shoulders and had the hint of an orange-striped bat-type wing folded flat along its side.
“You’re real.” It was all she could think to say.
The creature switched its long tail in annoyance.
Yes. Help us. Help him.
Once again, the image of the injured creature flashed in her mind.
She’d never imagined sentient animals, not in her wildest dreams. It was too cold and damp to be a dream. And too cold and dangerous for an injured creature to be stuck outside.
Read more in CATS OF WAR, one of eleven new, original stories in
Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3
10% of the first month’s profits goes to Hero-Dogs.org
Story blurb for CATS OF WAR:
A repair technician must convince a disgraced military sub-captain to help her save two special cats before trouble engulfs them all.
Military Subcaptain Kedron Tauceti counts the days until he can leave the rare metals factory and his current duty station as the liaison to the Criminal Restitution and Indenture Obligation system. The post was protection—and punishment—for exposing a theft ring in his previous assignment. He’s more than ready to get his career back on track on a new base halfway across the galaxy, even if it means leaving behind the one person who makes him want to stay. Not that he’s told her, because technically, he’s her warden.
Former financial specialist and current indenturee Ferra Barray, hiding from her past, only has three months to go on her restitution sentence. She’s lucked into a tech repair job, and If she keeps her head down, she’ll be free to figure out her future. Unfortunately, the local boss behind every illegal scheme in the facility wants her to steal for him, and she’s running out of excuses. And now the heroically handsome Tauceti, who she hoped could help, is transferring out.
Everything changes when Ferra discovers two genetically modified cats. Saving them takes incredible risks. She doesn’t know what she’ll do if she can’t convince Tauceti to take them with him and keep them until she’s free to come for them.
When trouble erupts at the factory, it might just be the cats who save them. Find out what happens in this exciting stand-alone novella from Carol Van Natta’s award-winning Central Galactic Concordance space opera series.
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About the Author:
USA TODAY bestselling science fiction and fantasy author Carol Van Natta shares her Fort Collins, Colorado home with a resident mad scientist and various cats, all of whom would love to travel to the stars.