Monday, October 23, 2017

It's a Pet (in Space) Parade! Check Out these Stellar Sidekicks

In the science fiction romance universe, stories sometimes involve more than just the heroes or heroines. Occasionally, the main characters have a help, hindrance, or sidekick that takes the form of a unique animal companion.

The non-human companions in one particular collection of books are important enough to be named in the title. Today, I'd like to introduce you to a few of the pawed, winged and ??? players from Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2--now a USA TODAY Bestseller!

All the pet sketches shown below were created by the very talented Nyssa Junea.

Story: Wired for Love
Species: Dog
Breed: Belgian Malinois
Name: Bogan
Unique trait: K9

In Wired for Love, author Michelle Howard knew exactly what her pet choice would be. A K9! After doing a bit of research, she decided the Belgian Malinois would be the perfect breed because of their beauty, agility and suitability as a K9 dog. Putting a trained K9 in a science fiction story required a bit of creativity but worked out well. Hunter was a former soldier and war hero who wanted nothing to do with his old military life. Dedicated K9, Bogan, changes that with his sudden appearance in Hunter's world.

Story: Star Cruise: Songbird
Species: Bird
Breed: Alien Eagle
Name: Valkyr
Unique trait: Telepathic Raptor Warbird

Veronica Scott's inspiration for Valkyr was a real parrot she'd actually once met. As a very young bird, the parrot had lived through the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and been passed down through two generations of family members since. But a parrot wasn't right for the story Veronica wanted to tell, so she thought back to one of her favorite Andre Norton science fiction books, The Beastmaster. The military hero in the story had a team of telepathic animals, one of those being an African eagle. Veronica decided to make her hero a Special Forces officer who’d inherited a special telepathic warbird from his own planet. The heroine of the story is a futuristic pop star inspired by Adele, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Lady GaGa and other popular singers. When the hero is assigned as her bodyguard while she's on tour aboard the starliner Nebula Zephyr, you can be sure things are going to get interesting.

When it comes to Carol Van Natta's story, Pet Trade, there are 17 pets to choose from! I'm going to feature two of the most notable in our crazy pet parade.

Story: Pet Trade
Species: Dog based?
Breed: Foo Dog
Name: Shiza
Unique trait: Designer pet

In author Carol Van Natta's Central Galactic Concordance, the pet trade is unhindered in creating fantasy animals from myth and legend for profit. Foo lions (or fu lions, if you prefer) inspired by old Chinese tales of the magical creatures are one of the high dollar animals they create. The pet trade's version of the "breed" is small, cute, and mainly dog with a curly mane and square jaw (holding many teeth, just like the fantasy creature that inspired it). Ex-Jumper Axur Tragon ends up with the Foo Dog when he crashes in the frozen north on a frontier planet. For all his lazy charm, he is designed to protect children--and pets--and has the means to do so.

Story: Pet Trade
Species: Insufficient Data!
Breed: Chimera
Name: Kivo
Unique trait: Intelligent and possibly empathic

Carol Van Natta's Kivo is a chimera, but not the one drawn from popular mythology. In the pet trade, the term refers to any creature they’ve designed out of their fevered imaginations. Kivo is a hodge-podge of unusual features--bat-like ears, carnivore teeth, six legs, two tails! Veterinarian and pet trade specialist Bethnee Bakonin is an animal-affinity healer who could ply her trade anywhere in the galaxy, but she has good reasons for hiding out on a backwater world. So does Axur, as it turns out, and that makes for some smokin' conflict in the story.

Story: Time Trap
Species: Bird
Breed: Parrot
Name: Sir Rupert
Unique trait: Time traveler with special abilities

When Pauline Baird Jones picked a parrot as the pet for her story, she learned all sorts of fascinating facts about parrots, such as "there are about 372 different types of parrots" and "parrots are believed to be one of the most intelligent of birds" and "some parrots can live for over 80 years!" and "parrots have four toes per foot that are arranged for maximum grip" and even "the combination of toes and beak make them dextrous climbers." There are many different names for parrots including the kea, kaka and kakapo. (Say THAT three times, real fast!) Sadly, nearly 30% of the world’s population of parrots now face extinction because of habitat destruction and poaching for the pet trade. However, Sir Rupert did not become an agent for the Time Rebellion because of poaching or habitat destruction. He just likes kicking Time Service tush! *big Parrot grin* *which probably isn't possible, but if Sir Rupert could grin, he'd be grinning here*

Story:  Rescued by the Cyborg
Species: Cat
Breed: Domestic kitten
Name: Mittzi
Unique trait: Being soft, fluffy and adorable

Cara Bristol like dogs, but she's always been more of cat person. When she was invited to write for the original Pets In Space anthology, her first instinct was to write about a cat. As it happened, the pet in the first collection ended up being a robotic dog named Sparky. In Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2, she decided to go with her first instinct and make the story pet a little kitten named Mittzi. Her real-life cat, Hannah, approves, although Cara suspect she thinks she should be the star! (But Cara believes if Hannah were ever to go to space, she’d sleep through most of the journey!)

Story: Mascot
Species: Hugwort
Breed: Plantimal
Name: Jesse Greenfinger
Unique trait: Almost indestructible

In all the various stories with brave, quirky, heroic and mischievous pets Alexis Glynn Latner's may have been the most unusual. Jesse Greenfinger is a plantimal - a genetically engineered combination of plant and animal genes both from Earth and an ill-fated colony world called Planet Green. Jesse's species is called hugworts. With genetic good reason, they look like nothing so much as enchanted morning glories. They are mobile, affectionate, as curious as cats, clean, and space-hardy: perfect pets for space places. Indeed, Jesse is the mascot for the deep space station which is the setting of the story, Mascot. At one point Jesse climbs a station ladder; this hugwort has places to go and things to do (and a few secrets of its own).

Story: Courting Disaster
Species: Dog, cat and other
Breed: StarDog
Name: Luna
Unique trait: Bio-engineered starship mascot, and...?

Luna is a StarDog, like Katrina before her. She was created to serve as the perfect mascot and pest exterminator on starships...but it turns out that wasn't the only purpose for the dog-cat-weasel-mongoose bio-constructs. They also have other talents, and Luna's unique abilities may come in very handy when Captain Jagger and Ketsia Tayah end up on a dangerous mission through the rogue-infested dark nebula known as the Bradley Rift. When the hero and heroine fall into enemy hands, will one smart little StarDog be able to save the day?

So now that you've met a few of the pets from Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2, we'll hope you'll want to jump aboard and grab a copy of the book. Will this help convince you?

Yes! The book hit the USA TODAY Bestseller list the first week it was published! All the authors are very appreciative of the support of readers and the science fiction romance community for helping make this happen.

We'd also like to note that 10% of the first month's profits (which includes all preorders) will go to support the wonderful Hero Dogs organization that provides service dogs free of charge to military veterans. Just a reminder that the window will be closing on Veterans Day, in about three more weeks.

Find Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2 at your favorite vendor by clicking here.

Thanks for joining us today for this special Pets (-in-Space-) Parade!


  1. Very fun idea! I loved the pets of Embrace the Romance!

  2. Thanks, Pauline, and I agree. Loved getting some of the background on these space critters. These authors' imaginations know no bounds. :)

  3. Such a great post - thanks for doing this, Laurie!

    1. Thank you! It was a lot of fun to put together, Veronica. And I learned some new things about the pets, too.

  4. Love seeing the drawings. Since I have read all the stories it added to the pleasure.

    1. Thank you for stopping by, JC. :) I think the artist did a wonderful job on the sketches, too.


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