by Carol Van Natta
One of the pleasures of world building a science fiction universe is the change to imagine how medical science has improved. Considering how much has happened in the last century (antibiotics, organ transplant, cancer treatments based on genetics), it’s fun—even therapeutic—to invent further improvements that seem miraculous by today’s standards.
For example, as far as we’ve come today in making injuries sustained in war survivable, we aren’t as far along in helping military personnel deal with the aftermath. Most modern societies assume its constituents are autonomous and able-bodied, and don’t quite know what to do about things like post-traumatic stress, mobility impairment, or loss of a limb. In my space opera series, I can assume much better repair and long-term treatment options, including cloned parts, cybernetics, and rapid-healing protocols.
Even so, there’s nothing like the healing power of pets. They love us, they entertain us, and they help us engage in the world outside of our own heads. Even when naughty kittens climb the curtains or bumbling puppies knock over the water dish again, we’re just as likely to laugh as to scowl. When (not if) we make it to the stars, I guarantee we’ll take our pets with us. That’s the theme of the science fiction romance anthology, Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2. Twelve authors wrote stories that all involve pets, from alien lifeforms, to conventional and exotic Earth animals (cats, dogs, emus(!)…), to genetically modified, designer creatures of history, myth, and legend (how about a dire wolf as a guard dog?). I probably got carried away with the number of pets in my story in the anthology, “Pet Trade,” but I couldn’t pick just one. In all the stories, the pets act just as they do now, as companions, as catalysts, as troublemakers, and sometimes as quiet saviors.
In that spirit, the authors are donating 10% of the first month’s profits to Hero Dogs, a U.S. charity that provides hand-raised and specially trained service dogs to disabled veterans, to improve their quality of life and give them independence. The dogs are provided free of charge, and Hero Dogs works with both the veteran and the service dog for life. It’s an amazing charity, and we all love the idea of helping heroes, one dog at a time.
Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2 features twelve stories by today’s best-selling and award-winning authors, and is available at all major retailers.
Carol Van Natta writes science fiction and fantasy, and is the author of the award-winning Central Galactic Concordance space opera series that starts with Overload Flux. She shares her Fort Collins, Colorado home with a resident mad scientist and various cats, and they all want to explore the galaxy.