Janet Delane wasn’t supposed to be a spaceship captain. She’s fresh out of high school, and she has trouble with technology – it seems to hate her personally. Now she’s been drafted into GUPPEAS, an interplanetary peace organization, and put in charge of the SS Turkey and its misfit crew. She’s in over her head, she’s crushed out on a rival captain’s boyfriend, and she’s trying to negotiate peace with the Exalted Leader of Pluto, who’s just banned….CHOCOLATE?!
Targeted Age Group:: Young adults
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I love the combination of science fiction and humor, such as “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (Douglas Adams) or “Space Opera” (Catherynne Valente). Science fiction fans don’t mind poking fun at their favorite tropes. And sometimes – 2020 in particular – I need a light, fun story where nobody dies and the universe isn’t in danger of destruction. So I wrote a story about a teenager who accidentally becomes a spaceship captain, and she and her misfit crew have to negotiate with an alien leader so evil that he’s just banned chocolate.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I shouldn’t be allowed near computers. I don’t even have to touch them – I just look at them funny, and they malfunction. My main character, Janet Delane, has the same problem, to the point where she’s convinced that technology hates her personally. Her ex-boyfriend calls her “Jam-it the technology slayer.”
Her crew includes a shape-shifting security officer, a bad-tempered first officer who glows in the dark, and a kleptomaniac pilot from a planet where larceny is a respectable career choice. Janet’s brother, a gadget-obsessed engineer, bears some resemblance to my own brother.
I reported to the GUPPEAS headquarters with a duffel bag stuffed full of my belongings slung over my shoulder. I was greeted by a smirking Venusian man with slicked-back blue hair and a lime-green aura. I’ve heard that Venusians don’t have auras on their home planet; it’s some sort of reaction to the colder temperatures in the rest of the galaxy. Colors are very individual; my ex-boyfriend Pietro used to go from lavender to deep indigo to show degrees of pleasure. On the GUPPEAS officer, lime green apparently meant smarmy. His cologne had that new spaceship smell, hot metal and glue, but his smile was more like a used-spaceship salesman.
“Janet Delane? Welcome to GUPPEAS. I’m Vertin Bogler, the Undersecretary to the Oversecretary to the Director of Recruitment and Retention.” He handed me something that looked like an oversized cell phone with straps at both ends. “Here’s your beepity-beeper.”
“Communications device. It’s short for Boron-Edged Electrum-Powered Integrated Technological Yadayada Bifurcated Electronic Eleventy-Purpose Existential Radio.”
“Of course it is. What else would it be short for?” I let him attach it to my arm with the straps.
“You don’t get a weapon, of course, this being a peace organization.” He gestured toward a device mounted on the wall. “We tried using felicinators, which put the targeted creature in a really good mood, but some species like Plutonians tend to torture people when they’re in a good mood.”
“Felicinator is short for…”
I stopped listening, his voice providing a dull background buzz as I looked out the office window at the spaceport. The ships hailed from all over the galaxy, and I recognized some of the styles, from the deceptively simple Saturnian saucers to the constantly moving Cassiopeian ships made of living matter. My eyes were drawn to one elegant ship that looked like a Terran design, shaped like a golden dragon with wings half unfurled. Would I get to serve on a ship like that?
“Captain Delane?” Bogler’s voice broke in.
That was weird. There was a captain with the same name as me?
Bogler took a heavy box off his desk, grunted, and thrust it into my arms. “Here are the forms you’ll have to fill out.” He picked up a pile of folded clothes in several too-bright colors, and tossed them on top of the box. “And there’s your captain’s uniform. I’ll show you to your ship.”
Wait, did he just call me “Captain”?
He flitted across the room to the lift, and I staggered after him as best as I could, half carrying and half dragging the box. “There must be some mistake. I’m not a captain; I’m a felon. The charge was wanton and mildly atrocious destruction of government property.”
“That’s all very interesting, Captain,” he said. “But we never make that sort of mistake. Don’t forget to get your paperwork done.”
“Paper? You mean, like, from dead trees? Doesn’t the ship’s computer do your forms?”
“The forms aren’t compatible with your ship’s computer. We’re not sure what is compatible with your ship’s computer. We’ve sent it to seven technicians, a psychiatrist, and an acupuncturist.”
We stepped off the lift and emerged next to the port, in an area that appeared to be the salvage yard. In front of us stood a battered husk of metal shaped like an ugly long-necked bird—a turkey, maybe—with the tail about to fall off. It was burned in some spots and rusted in others, with a shuttlecraft-sized hole in one side.
“Here’s your ship,” he said, giving it a cheerful pat.
I stared. “Can I change my mind and go to jail instead?”
The tail fell off.
Links to Purchase Print Books
Link to Buy The Cosmic Turkey Print Edition at Amazon
Link to Buy The Cosmic Turkey Print Edition at Barnes and Noble
Links to Purchase eBooks
Link To Buy The Cosmic Turkey On Amazon
Social worker by day, space cadet by night. I write both serious and silly, science fiction and contemporary, YA and adult. I'm not indecisive, I'm just Californian.
"The Cosmic Turkey" is my first novel. I also have a collection of linked short stories, "Lost in Translation," that I'm planning to expand into a novel-in-short-stories.