Author J. S. Fields has stopped by today to share their latest release Tales From Ardulum from Ninestar Press, the final installment in a Space Opera series I’ve come to love and is listed on The Enby Book List.
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
Interior illustrations by Micah Epstein
Release Date: Monday, June 10, 2019
Format: Paperback, eBook
Buy Link: Amazon
Story Type: Novel >50k
Word Count: 56,500
Pairings: f/f, nb/nb
Keywords/Categories: lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, nonbinary, space battles, origin stories, space rouges
Is This Part of a Series?: Yes
Series Title: The Ardulum Series
Position (Number) in Series: Book 4, but most of the book is a prequel
Necessary to Read Previous Books: No
Warnings: fantasy space violence, moderate sexual content
Book Blurb: One year after saving the Neek homeworld and redefining the people’s religion, the crew of the Scarlet Lucidity returns to the Charted Systems for a much-needed break. For Nicholas and Yorden, the Systems will always be home, but for Emn and Atalant, too many memories compound with Emn’s strange new illness to provide much relaxation.
TALES FROM ARDULUM continues the journey of Atalant, Emn, Yorden, Nicholas, and Salice as they try to define their place in a galaxy that no longer needs them while battling the artifacts of Ardulan colonization. Other stories include Yorden’s acquisition of the Mercy’s Pledge (and his grudge against the galaxy), Atalant’s exile from her homeworld, Ekimet and Savath’s romance, and many others.
Series Blurb: The ARDULUM series blends space opera and hard science into a story about two women persistently bound to their past, and a sentient planet determined to shape their future.
“She is nothing, anymore,” the president responded. “She is Exile.”
“You can’t!” Neek burst towards the door just as it slammed closed. She rebounded and fell back to the floor, her tailbone taking the brunt of the fall. The ship’s engines began to whine, and the floor jostled as the craft left the surface.
Neek ran to the controls and slammed her hands on the stuk interface. Through the viewscreen, she saw capital buildings, the Ardulan Temple, and then treetops as the skiff left the city and moved to the suburbs. She tapped command after command into the computer, but each try brought an angry beep and no change in course. The ship was on autopilot and password locked. She had no control.
Neek swallowed, trying to ease the ache in her throat. Wherever they stashed her, she would find a comm. She would smuggle out handwritten messages if she had to. She wasn’t going to give up. That she had lost the robes, lost the Guard…she could mourn that in time. Saving the forests, that was her job. Helping her people move beyond Ardulum so they could truly participate in the Charted Systems, that was why she did all this, right? That she loved piloting was just a bonus.
A low tremble went through the ship. Neek had never felt a skiff do that before. Had she lucked out? Was it malfunctioning? Neek sent another query to the computer. The ship was…
Neek blinked. It couldn’t be.
The ship was going up.
Neek frantically queried the computer. The viewscreen still showed treetops, but that silo in the distance…that had been there the first time she’d looked. It had seemed closer for a while, but now, she realized as she squinted, it was far away again. She was watching a prerecorded loop!
“No!” The skiff was clearly going up. Neek’s ears were popping, and there was a funny feeling in her gut. Her planet’s skiffs were not designed to leave even the lower atmosphere. Only settees could do that, and this was no settee. Whatever the president’s engineers had done to make it spaceworthy, it hadn’t been nearly enough.
Neek threw commands at the computer. Land. Coast. Glide. STOP. Each returned with a ping and the perpetual image of treetops. He couldn’t do this. He had no right to do this! What in Ardulum’s name was the president thinking? Neek pounded at the controls, and the recorded loop fuzzed out to reveal space. Endless space.
Text scrolled across the computer screen:
Hours of air left: 233
Gallons of water remaining: 2
Food rations available: none
Communication systems: disabled
Destination: high orbit around planet Neek
Entertainment options: one video available of Heaven Guard airshow #4194, highlighting the double barrel rolls of Guard Four; all Neek holy texts available
Neek screamed. She kicked the console, her boot denting the cheap biometal. The Neek did not leave their planet. They did not live on space stations or strange worlds. They stayed put, to wait for Ardulum’s return. And she…she was meant to rot up here, in Neek space—rot while watching a planet she could see but never again touch. Rot while the Heaven Guard executed flawless formations in Neek’s upper atmosphere, ignoring her gold coffin spinning by. Rot while reading texts she’d had shoved down her throat since she was old enough to read—texts that were slowly destroying her planet.
She would never get her settee.
She was only nineteen years old, and she was going to die, alone, in space.
And there was nothing she could do.
A Complete Ardulum Timeline
For the true Ardulum nerds out there (or people who just REALLY like timelines), here is the annotated timeline my editor and I finally settled on for meshing the stolen timeline from SECOND DON into the final timeline for THIRD DON. You can still see some of our notes.
I learned a solid lesson doing this. Don’t run more than two calendars in the same series. It will only bite you in the ass later.
November 18th, 2060 – Crippling war ends, book one ends
December 2nd, 2060 – Systems still cleaning up post Crippling war, book two starts
Between August and December (late) 2060 – intention to travel to Xinar announced (Yorden), more ships from Alliance arrive (late December), Mmnnuggls overthrow government and Ekimet and Miketh taken prisoners (around December 12-14th), flare culls begin (mid-December),
December 5th, 2060 – Ttynn arrives to Risalian space to attempt negotiations (going to have to explain this as an early first contact so that Yorden is not in it)
December 12th, 2060 –Charted Systems invited to join Alliance fleet near Risal (explained as unknown why Risalians are trying to talk to the Alliance, will have to explain in Risalian chapter), Neek, Emn, Nick arrive on Keft, Yorden’s timeline in book three starts
December 13th, 2060 – Neek and crew trade Mmnnuggl pod for Lucidity (in theory they could arrive on Ardulum on this same day, assuming linear timeline), Yorden gets Neek’s old pod
December 14th, 2060 – Rallying still happening with growing armada near Risal, Yorden discusses xylan weaponry with Mmnnuggls, discovers Neek is alive
December 15th, 2060 – Yorden’s communication to Neek’s parents, planet Neek begins to pull away from Systems. Yorden negotiates with the Risalians
December 16th, 2060 – second call to Charted Systems to join the armada, crew still not on Ardulum via nonlinear timeline, on suggested linear timeline, Ardulum could move to Eie on this day
December 17th, 2060 – High Priest kills Neek president
December 18th, 2060 – Neek officially withdraws from the Charted Systems
December 19th, 2060 – Neek wormhole collapsed by Neek people (aided by Ekimet and Miketh), crew arrival on Ardulum (non-linear time here)
December 20th, 2060 – Charted System ships start getting tesseract generators, second day on Ardulum (nonlinear time)
January 1st, 2061 – Ekimet still preparing Neek for war
January 1st, 2016 – Militia training, laser additions to Charted System ships
January 5th, 2061 – testing completed on xylan ships
January 8th, 2061 – Charted System ships final count, ships still being outfitted with xylans. Ardulum moves to Eie? Suggest moving back
January 12th, 2061 – armada moves to Neek space, initial battle, given one week to comply. Ardulum moves to Eie on nonlinear timeline
January 18th, 2061 – Ardulum has been at Eie for one week now (a week is unlikely to be seven days). Palace reconstruction underway in book three. Tentative negotiation reached with Eieans and Ardulans
January 19th, 2061 – Mmnnuggls start burning Neek forests
January 24th, 2061 – Atalant hears the cries of the burning andal and Ardulum consents to let Atalant return to Neek
January 25th, 2061 –
January 26th, 2061 – Atalant returns to Neek, Yorden contacts her, most of end of book 3 happens this day or the next
January 27th, 2061 – final battle begins pre-dawn on this day. at some point in the battle the day rolls over to here (Ch18, bk3), Ardulum returns to Neek
January 2th, 2061 –
January 30th, 2061 – end of book 3
J.S. Fields (@Galactoglucoman) is a scientist who has perhaps spent too much time around organic solvents. They enjoy roller derby, woodturning, making chainmail by hand, and cultivating fungi in the backs of minivans. Nonbinary, and yes, it matters.
Fields has lived in Thailand, Ireland, Canada, USA, and spent extensive time in many more places. Their current research takes them to the Peruvian Amazon rainforest each summer, where they traumatizes students with machetes and tangarana ants while looking for rare pigmenting fungi. They live with their partner and child, and a very fabulous lionhead rabbit named Merlin.
J.S. Fields is giving away four prizes with this tour: a collectible soft enamel pin of the Mercy’s Pledge (2), and a high res version of one of the interior illustrations (their choice, pick from Yorden, Nick, Emn, or Atalant) (2). Enter via Rafflecopter.