145,900 words; 296 pages
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On the brink of interstellar war, life (and sex) continues. Humans, aliens, and modified humans gather at the University of All Worlds in search of knowledge… and self-knowledge… but the first bomb has fallen and the fate of this multicultural, multispecies mecca is in question. A thought-provoking work on sexuality and the connections between people–whether male or female, human or alien–The Stars Change is part space opera, part literary mosaic of story, poem, and art.
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The Stars Change: an erotic science fiction novel-in-stories. On a South Asian-settled university planet, tensions are rising, and as they reach the brink of interstellar war, life (and sex) continues. Humans, aliens, and modified humans gather at the University of All Worlds in search of knowledge… and self-knowledge… but the first bomb has fallen and the fate of this multicultural, multispecies mecca is in question. Some people will seek solace in physical contact, some will look for spiritual answers, while others will find their strength in community, family, and love. Some will rush home to make love to their wife. Or wives. Or husbands. Or indeterminate gender human and/or alien partners. Others will be forced to decide where they stand — what is worth fighting for, or maybe even worth dying for.
In The Stars Change, author Mary Anne Mohanraj presents a multi-layered, thought-provoking, and far-reaching work on sexuality and the connections between people–whether male or female, human or alien. The Stars Change is part space opera, part literary mosaic of story, poem, and art.
It is fitting that a book that emphasizes the power of community was funded through Kickstarter. Begun as a project entitled “Demi Monde,” The Stars Change is the result of the money raised by supporters that went to pay for not only the art and illustrations in the book, but the author’s time, allowing her to focus on writing for that crucial interval.
About the Author: Mary Anne Mohanraj is the author of Bodies in Motion, Sri Lankan-American linked stories (HarperCollins), as well as Silence and the Word, The Best of Strange Horizons (ed.), Aqua Erotica (ed.), and The Poet’s Journey (a children’s fantasy picture book). Bodies in Motion was a finalist for the Asian-American Book Awards and has been translated into six languages. Mohanraj received an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Prose (2006). Mohanraj lives in Chicago, where she teaches creative writing and post-colonial literature at the University of Illinois; she also taught at the Clarion workshop in 2008. She is a graduate of Clarion West, and holds an MFA and a Ph.D. in creative writing.
The Night Air
Not fucking again. Literally fucking, which was the problem—Kimmie’s upstairs neighbors, the skinny brown human and the curvy gold human, were at it again. For what, the fourth time tonight? The management could claim however much it wanted that the walls were supposed to be sound-proofed; the truth was that this was a shitty apartment, it clearly wasn’t up to code, and when two grown adults decided to hurl their bodies together on a battered wooden bed, you could hear it. You would think after getting the news that the war was finally on, after years of hate-mongering and human-supremacist-group posturing, the pair would have gone decently to sleep, but no. They were probablycelebrating life or some such bullshit. Kimmie couldn’t take it anymore. She shoved back the chair from her desk, grabbed a fur to wrap around herself, and headed out into the night.
She just wanted to walk, far and fast and until her brain stopped buzzing. Sometimes walking helped. The streets were more empty than usual—everyone who had someone was probably at home, cuddling them up, waiting for the bombs to fall or the shooting to start or the diseases to spread or just for the chips in their heads to catch viruses, melt, and drip out of their brains. And yeah, the truth was that if she had someone, Kimmie would probably do the same thing. But she didn’t, and that alone was enough to make it easy to glare at the people who were glaring at her, as they always did when they saw her walking around wrapped in a fur. Fucking holier-than-thou types. How did they know that it wasn’t synthetic? It could totally be synthetic.
It wasn’t, but they had no way of knowing that, not unless they looked past the thick bright azure fur she’d wrapped around herself. Not unless they could look at Kimmie’s own orange pelt, the pointed crimson ears jammed into a knitted cap, the clawed hands, the fucking tail, and correctly identify her as Varisian. Sure, if they did that, and if they then happened to be educated enough to be familiar with the adulthood rituals of her tribe, then they might recognize that the remains of the creature wrapped around her were, in fact, real. That it was her own kill, and that she had managed to face down a dumb critter with three times her mass and armed only with what she could make herself after being dumped in the Jungle. Jungle with a capital J, because it was the only real Jungle left, huge and carefully preserved in the midst of Varisia, a world that had gone completely high-tech. And yet we still value our ancient rituals, oh yes, we care about who we are as a people, and any youngling who can’t survive the way our people did a thousand years ago (when they had no fucking choice)—well, that kid doesn’t deserve to live, does she?
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