Immerse Yourself in an Alien World
Khe loves her simple life on a farming commune, until she discovers that her gift for pushing the crops is a death sentence. Fleeing across the treacherous wilderness, she makes her way to the city of Chimbalay, searching for the orindles who might save her. But Chimbalay has its own dangers. The Powers are there—the secret rulers who have chosen Khe to be the mother of a monstrous new race.
Neither “man in space” SciFi nor classical fantasy, Khe deftly blends elements of both while satisfying those wanting something new in a dystopian story. Readers looking for solid world-building and fresh and fully-realized characters will especially enjoy this book.
“A wonderful new world to explore for those who want to read something different and new.” -Dag Rambraut, Science Fiction and Fantasy World
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
Khe explores several themes I’m interested in: life and death, of course, but also the push/pull of wanting to belong and wanting to be yourself. I wanted to explore and detail a society that was completely different from the one in which I, in which most of us, live. I’ll read most anything, but the novels I most enjoy take me somewhere I’ve never been before. I hope I’ve provided that experience for Khe’s readers. Plus, I’m a sucker for a good adventure story.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Khe popped into my head fully formed with red skin and emotion spots, bald and earless, at work on the commune. Developing her world was a slower process. The greatest challenge was working with no human characters. Not only did the entire world—society, family relations, methods of reproduction, foods eaten—have to be developed solely from imagination, but the two sets of alien species had to be distinct and unique, yet close enough to us that the reader could relate. Once that was done, it was a matter of letting Khe and the others live in their world. It was such fun to discover how clever and determined Khe was, and to watch her come into her own.
OUTSIDE CHIMBALAY KLER
“Shun the sweetly fragranced flower of desire, for the fruit is poisoned.”
–The Rules of a Good Life
Behind me, the beasts whistle—three short, low-pitched notes—the pack members on the hunt, calling to each other. There are seven of them, each one half again as tall as me. They run faster than I can, moving with a cruel grace on feathered, thickly muscled legs, a blur of red and white, like two-legged flames. If they’d seen me earlier, before I’d made it down the hills and this close to the gate, I’d be in their bellies.
I know the stench of the beasts’ foul breath. The calculating looks in their large black eyes. I’ve seen the damage their barbed teeth and pincher-clawed hands do to flesh. Beasts like these hunted me when I first came to the wilderness and thought it would be my sanctuary. I know better now.
My breath, harsh and ragged, makes white puffs in the air. Thin sheets of ice crackle beneath my feet. I spread my toes as wide as they will go, for balance. My cloak flares behind me as I run across the plain.
The city is tantalizingly near, agonizingly far. Chimbalay rises straight up from the plain, its black-glass towers protected by a massive stonewall and a silver-metal gate, ten-levels high at least. The gate is closed. I have to get inside. For safety from the beasts. To find the orindles, who are my only hope.
The beasts whistle again, their call changed, a sound so low, it’s almost a rumble. They’re spreading out. All twenty-four emotion spots on my neck tingle. I run, my heart knocking against my chest.
A noise, like a great rising storm, tears across the plain. I’m both afraid to look and afraid not to. I slow a little and glance toward the sound. Down the plain, something hard-edged and solid is moving in my direction. I can’t tell its speed or what it might be. I focus on the gate, running faster, concentrating on my goal.
Beasts whistle to the right and left. Two run past me, to get in front and press me back to their companions.
The sound of the wind grows louder, the moving thing coming nearer. The whistles of the beasts change, rising in pitch and coming closer together. The calls come so quickly that they are almost a continuous sound—one voice springing from seven points, fighting to be heard over the wail of the raging wind in the still air.
I don’t want to slow again to look, but anxiety makes me. I must know what the beasts are doing. Glancing over my shoulder, I see one and then another beast stopped, staring at the thing coming down the plain. The thing hovers a hands-breath above the land, streaming toward the open space between Chimbalay and me, the way vehicles move. But this is no vehicle. It’s close enough now that I can make out the protective outer mud wall and some of the buildings behind it.
My breath sticks in my throat. I’ve never seen one of the mobile trading villages on the move before. I’ve never been in an anchored one. Simanca made sure we were protected from that evil. I can’t worry about the corenta now. Reaching the gate is all that matters.
The gate is near enough that I can see the words Chimbalay Kler—Region Seat, Gambly One Region carved on it in letters nearly as tall as I am. The beast between the corenta and me suddenly stops, throws back its great shaggy-feathered head and howls in fear. I keep running.
The corenta keeps coming. The beasts wail and scatter. I would flee from the corenta too, if the safety of Chimbalay were not at hand. I pound against the closed gate, shouting, “Open up!”
The corenta, tiny compared to the massive ring of Chimbalay, settles itself on the plain, not far behind me. Not nearly far enough for comfort. They say not only the doumanas, but also the plants, beasts, and structures in a corenta are alive and conscious. They say the doumanas there have no faith in the creator. The skin on my neck burns as my emotion spots flare gray-green in revulsion. I bang my fist against the gate.
What will I say if someone opens the gate? Perhaps, “My name is Khe. I’ve come from Lunge commune to see the orindles, in hope that they can cure me.” Which is the truth, though saying it will probably get me taken for a babbler and driven away. Who could believe that a country doumana who’d only been off her commune for mating and one other time could find her way to Chimbalay?
Snow begins to fall, swirling around my legs. I pull my cloak tight around me. The creator, in its wisdom, made us smooth, without hair, fur, or feathers to come between us and the touch of the world. The beasts and birds are luckier. They are warmer during Barren Season.
The corenta at my back makes me nervous. My emotion spots flare blue-red, showing how I feel to any who might see me, though no one does. The corenta gate begins to open. I bang my fist harder against Chimbalay’s massive one, calling, “Let me in! Let me in!”
Metal hinges squeal gently as the two halves of the huge gate glide apart. I shove my body through the opening to get inside and am driven back by dozens of doumanas shoving their way out. They push against me, seeming more irritated than alarmed at the sight of a ragged female standing in the gateway.
My neck feels alternately hot and cold. My emotion spots flare gray-brown, showing my horror. The doumana’s emotion spots can’t be seen at all. Each wears a high-necked stiff collar that except for a slim V in the front completely conceals her throat. The collars hang down below the hollow at the base of their throats and extend at the sides out over their shoulders.
The creator gave us emotion spots so that all who see us would know the truth of our hearts. To cover your spots is anathema. What manner of place have I come to?
The place of the orindles, I remind myself. I fight my way against the flood of doumanas and into the kler.
Are any of these doumanas orindles? Does this one passing me now hold the knowledge for my salvation? Is that one pushing her way through the throng she who can return my life? Are the orindles the best among us, as Simanca said, or evil, as the babbler claimed?
Am I as mad as a babbler myself to have come to Chimbalay? A sharp loneliness stabs my chest. I miss Lunge commune, where my sisters still rise each morning and go to the fields. The place I ran from, and yearn for.
The place to which I can never return.
Alexes Razevich was born in New York and grew up in Orange County, California. She attended California State University San Francisco where she earned a degree in Creative Writing. After a successful career on the fringe of the electronics industry, including stints as Director of Marketing for a major trade show management company and as an editor for Electronic Engineering Times, she returned to her first love–fiction. She lives in Southern California with her husband. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys playing hockey and travel.
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