About four years ago, my author friend Pauline B. Jones and I started the Pets In Space® anthology and invited some other science fiction romance authors to join in. We put together an annual collection of all new stories featuring action, adventure, romance and a pet of some sort involved in the story. Sort of like “Lassie in space”. (Not the racier kind of ‘pets’ you find in some steamy fiction!).
The idea was to find new readers for scifi romance and to support a worthy, pet-related cause with a portion of the royalties. Now in our fourth year, we’ve hit the USA Today Best Seller list twice and been able to give our charity quite a nice chunk of donations, thanks to our wonderful readers.
Pets in Space® 4 Anthology Blurb:
Pets in Space® 4 is proud to present 13 amazing, original new stories. Join the adventures as today’s leading Science Fiction Romance authors take you on a journey to another world. Pets in Space® proudly supports Hero-Dogs.org, a non-profit charity that provides service animals to veterans and first responders in need. Join New York Times, USA TODAY and Award-winning Bestselling authors S.E. Smith, Anna Hackett, Tiffany Roberts, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Laurie A. Green, Donna McDonald, Regine Abel, Alexis Glynn Latner, JC Hay, E.D. Walker, Kyndra Hatch, and Cassandra Chandler for another exciting Pets in Space® anthology.
Pets in Space® authors have donated over $7,100 from royalties in the past three years to help place specially trained dogs with veterans and first responders. 10% of all pre-orders and the first month’s royalties of Pets in Space® 4 will again go to Hero-Dogs.org.
For this article I thought it would be fun to ask each of our authors what their first pet on Earth was and then which science fiction pet they’d like to own and why. I’ll go first.
USA Today Best Selling Author Veronica Scott, Star Cruise: Idol’s Curse
Two crew members of an interstellar luxury liner must join forces with a retired military canine to find a missing relic before the curse brings disaster for everyone.
Earth pet: My first ever pets were two white rabbits, Meadow and Thumper. I have only a vague memory of them because I was about three at the time but we do have a battered family photograph of me with them. My first pet I actually remember was a cat, fancifully named Cinderella Pusstytiptoes, who had nine kittens one day, much to my surprise. (I was eight then.) My only other really vivid memory of her was when she killed a copperhead snake that was creeping up on my baby brother in the backyard. So I guess the idea of a valiant pet was implanted in my head at a young age!
SF pet: As far as science fiction pets, I loved Anne McCaffrey’s fire lizards on the planet Pern in her Dragonriders series but as a cat lover, I admire Jonesy, Ripley’s cat in the Alien movie franchise. He kept his cool at all times.
New York Times and USA Today Best Selling Author S. E. Smith, Madas’s Falling Star (Lords of Kassis Series):
Even an incredibly skillful warrior Princess needs help sometimes. Can Madas trust the strange warrior who fell from the sky with her life… and with her heart?
I love the question – what was my first EARTH pet. Since I haven’t been anywhere else, I’ll have to admit it was a dog. There is something about a dog that melts my heart. I love how dogs can give you unconditional love, protection, and the fact that they never mind – or share – your deepest secrets. That makes them the perfect pet. Dogs are also perfect to cuddle up with during nap-thirty.
SF pet: The SF pet that I would love to own is the dog from the movie ‘Planet 51’, LOL. I love that it is based off the movie ‘Aliens’, but they have made him really cute. I would love to have my own space dog with his sense of humor!
USA Today Best Selling Author Anna Hackett, Dark Guard (Galactic Gladiators: House of Rone Series):
A cyborg who’s vowed to keep his emotions and lethal powers leashed, discovers the one woman who can bring him to his knees.
Earth pet: My very first pet was a cat when I was about eight years old. I named her Penny (after super-smart Penny from the cartoon show ‘Inspector Gadget’) and I couldn’t wait for her to be my loving sidekick. Unfortunately, Penny did things her way, and wasn’t really that keen to hang out with kids….or anyone really.
SF pet: If I had to pick a pet to borrow from sci-fi it would totally be Porthos, Captain Archer’s pet beagle from ‘Star Trek: Enterprise’, but I have to say that Goose the “cat” from Captain Marvel is running a close second (and would probably be way more fun than my old cat Penny!)
USA Today Best Selling Author Tiffany Roberts, Entwined Fates (The Infinite City Series)
Being separated by time and distance does not lessen the love Volcair has for the woman who captured his heart.
Note: ‘Tiffany Roberts’ is the pen name for a husband and wife writing duo.
First pet: From Tiffany: A cat named Spunky. He was the runt of the litter, so small, so adorable, so fluffy. He was also the loudest. He had three black marks around his nose and mouth that looked like a goatee, which were stark against his white fur. We took him home, along with one of his siblings. He was the most loveable, sweet-natured, patient cat—he also ended up being the largest and fattest!
From Robert: The first pet I remember was our family dog, Bo. She was a sweet, playful dog with long, soft fur. I don’t remember much beyond that—she passed way when I was still quite young, and most of my childhood memories (the few I have, anyway) are pretty fuzzy, but Bo has stuck in my memory to this day.
SF pet: If we could own a sci-fi or fantasy pet, it’d be something we could bond and communicate with. Whether or not they could talk, they’d at least have the ability to understand us and respond in an intelligent fashion. They’d be large enough to appear intimidating, sleek enough to get around tricky spaces, and they’d have the protectiveness of a dog.
USA Today Best Selling Author Pauline Baird Jones, Cyborg’s Revenge (Project Enterprise Series)
Can two almost human geeks find love while they fight against their old Master?
Earth pet: My first Earth pet was a cat. We called her “kitty.” I know, sad, but I was a kid and middle one at that. It wasn’t my fault.
SF pet: If I could have my perfect fantasy pet, it would be a flamingo, but a sentient one, so I’d know how he or she was doing. And when he or she wanted to dance. That’s the great thing about a flamingo, they dance as slow as I do these days.
USA Today Best Selling Author Laurie A. Green, Spydog (The Inherited Stars Series):
An agent must decide if he can trust the savvy female Rathskian warrior that crosses his path or if he should deliver her to his superiors.
Earth pet: When I was about ten years old, I finally convinced my “No Pets!” parents to let me bring home a Beagle-Collie mix pup that I fell in love with while staying with some relatives. The pup was all golden tan except for four white tippy toes and “Ginger” seemed like the perfect name–even though this pup was a male. Ginger and I had some great adventures playing hide-and-seek in the woods behind our house and swimming in the lake. I taught him how to negotiate a homemade obstacle course that included climbing ladders and crossing narrow beams. He was a very smart and trusted companion for a lonely “only child” (all my brothers and sisters were adults off to college or careers by then). Even after all these years, I still miss my childhood friend and I know how lucky I was to have had a great dog like Ginger when I was a kid.
SF pet: I love any story that involves animal companions, but one of my very first fiction animal favorites would be Ramoth from Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series. Why? Just two words sum it up. Telepathic dragon. Having a monstrous flying fire lizard as a loyal companion and air taxi would be a wonder on so many levels, but one that can also communicate with me via thought? That would be the ultimate. I also credit Anne McCaffrey’s wonderful Dragonflight for sparking my desire to write Science Fiction Romance, and Ramoth, herself, was a huge part of the fascination.
Regine Abel, Doom (Xian Warriors Series):
A genetically engineered war machine finds love with the human doctor who may be his only chance of survival.
Earth pet: The Chicken – When I was about seven or eight years old, my parents brought back a chicken from a farm they’d visited, and we had it roaming around in our massive backyard. My brothers and I didn’t know if it was a rooster or a hen, but we didn’t care. We were so proud of our pet! Every day in school, we were like celebrities with everyone inquiring about our chicken crowing in the morning. That alone should have given it away as a rooster but what did we know then? Unfortunately, that story didn’t have a happy ending. Three or four weeks after we’d acquired it, my aunt came over, chopped its head off, and covered it with a huge pot. My brothers and I—aged seven, eight, and nine—were freaking out, shouting at her to let our pet go. She kept telling us it was dead, but we could understand that it was just the nerves still acting up. Naturally, we all swore we wouldn’t eat any of it that day. But once it was cooked and in our plates… Well, yeah, you can guess the rest.
The Goldfish – Like most kids, we’ve had a goldfish as a first pet. My brothers and I were always arguing as to whose bedroom it should be in, and whose turn it was to feed it or clean its bowl. Well, okay, no one fought over cleaning the bowl except for trying to pass that chore off to someone else. As the only girl with two older brothers and a third one on the way, I usually got my way with things. So, I got the keep the goldfish in my room for the longest time until we eventually moved it to the family room. Our parents had essentially stated that we needed to show we could be responsible caring for it in a collaborative fashion before they would even consider getting us a different pet that was far more high maintenance.
SF pet: As far as alien pets are concerned, I must admit that I am a little partial to some of the pets I’ve created as part of some of my novels. In terms of purely cuddly, I’d have to pick Cutie, my little sekubu from Unfrozen (Valos of Sonhadra). She had the body of a ferret with the white fur of a Persian cat and a draconic head. Cutie was beyond entitled, but also irresistibly adorable. However, if I had to choose a more battle-oriented pet, then I’d either pick Stran from my PISA® 4 story Doom, or my Karvelis from my Ravik’s Mercy (Braxians 2) novel. They are not only badass-looking, but they are also deeply loyal and will butcher anyone who dares threaten someone they consider of their pack.
USA Today Best Selling Author Alexis Glynn Latner, Winter’s Prince (Starways Series):
A scientist looking for a genetically engineered unicorn and a historian seeking the right question find each other in an interstellar amusement park full of dangerous games.
Earth pet: The first pets I remember were Ralph and Mabel, two bantam chickens. That was when I was a toddler so the memories aren’t encyclopedic. My Mom told me that I liked to carry Mabel around the house, and I once raided the fridge while carrying Mabel – and left Mabel inside. Mom quickly rescued the hen! I’ve had a soft spot for chickens ever since. They are rather wonderfully semi-alien when you remember that one branch of dinosaurs evolved into birds. The most dinosaur-like birds I’ve ever seen are roadrunners. Chickens are softer and sweeter than that, except when a rooster crows. Mom told me that Ralph was lurking under a coffee table one day when a visitor came calling. And from the couch the lady was sitting in, she jumped about a foot in the air when Ralph let out a crow.
SF pet: For an alien pet that’s really a pet (one that’s not a sentient life-form taken for a pet – there are a lot of those) it’s hands-down the ambulatory plant-animals I invented for my upcoming novel Witherspin. My hugworts are clean, curious in liking to investigate drawers and cabinets, impervious to vacuum and most of the other hazards of space, and affectionate in twining around their owners. Otherwise no pets that I’d really and truly like to own come to mind from reading SF and watching Sci Fi over the years. There may been a dearth of really good alien pets before Pets in Space® came along!
USA Today Best Selling Author J. C. Hay, Heart of the Spider’s Web (TriSystems: Smugglers Series):
The last thing Sheri needs is a brooding, brawny smuggler watching her every move, but his help is all that stands between her and a crime lord’s wrath.
Earth pet: My first earth-pet—at least the first who was mine alone—was a hermit crab. I can understand why people might not find them especially exciting pets, but for me they were too fascinating to watch. They were so different from mammals, birds, and other pets, that it completed captivated me. Drinking, eating, even the way it cleaned its eyes; nothing about hermit crabs felt like they were from Earth, and that was the perfect spark for young imagination.
SF pet: Picking a single pet from science-fiction is hard! Technically my Umbra Wolves are the pet I’ve always wanted, but that feels like cheating. Instead I’m going to go with my favorite dog-analog, the calot. I liked Burroughs’s speedy, goofy, 10-legged frog-dogs already, but the way they animated Woola in (criminally underappreciated SF film) John Carter brought all the puppy charm into the open and cemented them as my favorite. Plus it’d be nice to have a dog who actually brings the toy back when I throw it!
USA Today Best Selling Author E. D. Walker, The Princess and her Bodyguard (Alien Animal Rescues Series):
A kidnapped princess and her bird companion must rely on the exiled guard who loves her to help them.
Earth pet: My first earth pet was a gorgeous and sweet-tempered long-haired tabby named Huntington when I was three years old. He lived to the ripe old age of eighteen and was such a wonderful cat the mailman mourned when he passed. He’s pretty much been my platonic ideal of Cat ever since.
SF pet: I’d love to own one of the fire lizards from The Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey. Telepathic, beautiful, and totally devoted to you? What’s not to love?
USA Today Best Selling Author Kyndra Hatch, Interrupting Starlight (After The Fall Series):
The human composed a song in his heart, a pull he couldn’t ignore, a draw that demanded further exploration.
Earth pet: My first pet was a long-haired dachshund / terrier mix. Her name was Ailey. I had her in college and she loved hiking with me at a nearby state park. She would run and leap over rocks and a rushing stream along the trail. It used to scare me because I thought she’d fall in and get swept away, but she never did. For a small dog, she was the most sure-footed dog I’ve ever seen.
SF pet: If I could have a pet from science fiction, I’d like a porg from ‘Star Wars’. They scurry over rocks like Ailey Dog used to do and I like their inquisitive nature.
Cassandra Chandler, Import Quarantine (The Department of Homeworld Security Series):
A simple house call to care for a sick animal turns a young woman’s life upside down when she discovers the ‘house’ is really a spaceship!
Earth pet: I’ve had so many pets in my life—cats, dogs, lizards, fish, birds, even sea monkeys. But my first pet was a cute orange-and-white striped tabby cat named Tigger.
SF pet: As much as I loved Tigger, I have to say, if I could have any pet, I would want one of the fire lizards from Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series. Who wouldn’t want a teeny dragon that curls around your shoulders and shares a semi-telepathic bond with you?
Donna McDonald, Nothing Remotely Familiar (My Crazy Alien Romance Series)
Nothing is normal when Topper finds herself expecting again.
Earth pet: My first pet was a dog and I’ve been a dog person since. His name was Bob because his tail had been broken and half of it was removed (bobtail). He was short shepherd, likely a cattle dog, since I lived between two very large dairy farms. He was the runt of his litter and in my family I’m the runt as well at five feet.
SF pet: If I could choose any space pet, I would like it to be a shifter who could mimic Earth animals. I would like it to have the power of speech and to be smart enough to help me when I need help. It would kind of be nice to have one that I could wear on my body. Is that strange enough—lol? My second choice would be a dragon the size of a large breed dog that was a vegetarian. It’s like you can buy dragon food at the pet store, right?
You can learn more about the anthology at https://www.petsinspaceantho.com/