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🌟 Please join me in welcoming author J.S. Fields to Stories That Make You Smile. J.S. is here today celebrating the upcoming release of the fourth book in her fabulous Ardulum series, Tales from Ardulum. They’ve generously brought along an excerpt, giveaway, and a wonderfully informative guest post. Read on to learn all about character Emn! 🌟
Tales from Ardulum
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.
Series: The Ardulum Series (book #4 – but mostly a prequel)
Publisher: NineStar Press
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
Interior Illustrations: Micah Epstein
Release Date: June 10, 2019
Length: Novel / 56,500 words
Heat Rating: Moderate
Pairing / Genre(s) / Keyword(s): F/F, NB/NB, Science Fiction, Space Opera, Not Romance, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, nonbinary, space battles, origin stories, space rogues
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.
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.
☆ Guest Post ☆
Know your Ardulum Characters
Pt. 2 – Emn
Emn has perhaps the most vivid arc in the ARDULUM series, although she does get fewer POV chapters than Atalant. Her journey from first to second don, her romance with Atalant, her part in the destruction of the Ardulum capital, show us a young woman with a complicated past and unsure future. In part two of this four part series (find the other three parts on the blog tour for TALES FROM ARDULUM), we explore ten random facts about Emn that just didn’t make the cut into the final books.
(1) In her first don, Emn didn’t have any clothing preference due to having lived most of her life naked. After metamorphosis, however, she preferred dresses almost exclusively, as they weren’t as tight on her skin as flightsuits or pants. Getting an adult body fundamentally overnight is a great plot for a 1980s comedy, but in reality it would likely come with cracked, tight skin and balance issues at the very least. Anyone who developed breasts during puberty has not-fond memories of how painful that process was, and I imaged Emn’s new body being somewhat similar.
(2) While Atalant is pansexual, like most Ardulans and Neek, Emn is a lesbian. Should the two ever decide to bring a third into their relationship, it will almost certainly be a woman.
(3) The woman on the cover of FIRST DON is meant to be Emn as she emerges from her chrysalis. Clearly Emn would not be wearing any make-up, however, or whatever necklace the cover model has on.
(4) In my head, after the ‘one year later’ novella at the end of TALES, Atalant and Emn get a pet duck that lives on the Lucidity. They name it ‘Neek.’
(5) The Passion of the Pitcher Plants book that Nicholas suggests to Emn in the birthday short in TALES had to actually be written partially so I could take lines from it. If you’re wondering, the evening did go well, up until Atalant got an emergency call from the Eieans and had to go. They were on their way to third base.
(6) Emn only produces digestive enzymes for cellulose. Ardulans in general can digest meat, but don’t care for the flavor. Part of Emn’s genetic engineering was to limit her to one food source.
(7) Early drafts of THIRD DON explored Emn’s and Nicholas’ budding friendship quite a bit more than what made the cut. However, the two are great friends and, after the romance book debacle in TALES, now frequently gossip to each other about their latest smutty finds.
(8) Emn’s favorite way to eat andal is steamed with a light honey glaze.
(9) In case you missed the math, though she is short, Emn is almost 20 years old at the start of FIRST DON. This makes her a juvenile by Ardulum standards, but she acts so childish due to being raised in near isolation. If you pay close attention, her speech and thought patterns age up quite quickly across the first book as she gets more exposure to the galaxy. Had she not been raised in isolation she’d have spoken and acted a lot more like Callum, the server at the inn in THIRD DON.
(10) It is not clear what Risalian genetic manipulation did to Emn’s lifespan. Neek lifespans are on par with humans, however Ardulans have distinct life cycles that, total, last only about 40 years. What does this mean for Emn and Atalant’s long term prospects? Only a Risalian could tell you for sure.
Meet the Author
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.
Website | Twitter ( @galactoglucoman) | Goodreads | QueeRomance Ink | Amazon
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:a Rafflecopter giveaway