Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)
Set on Earth in the future, some war between multiple alien races basically destroyed our planet. One alien race (the Inlari) were fleeing a different very aggressive race, and came to Earth to hide. The aggressive race found them here and left the planet in ruins, killing most humans, most Inlari, and leaving most of the planet poisoned and unlivable. New Zealand and Australia were the only two livable places left, the former in control of the Inlari, the latter of the humans.
The book contained four novellas, set in that world. As scifi-ish as this setup sounds, the stories were really about relationships, mostly interspecies relationships (as fitting the book's title).
Self-published, but both well-written and quite well (if not perfectly) edited. I would have 100% believed this was a traditionally published book (except for the fugly cover).
The Memoriam by M. J. Kelley A story of the Inlari and how they handle memories and forgetting. A young boy "passes a test" (sort of) to become one of his race's most important figures. The story follows his relationship with his mentor. Twist provided by a girl who failed in that same role.
Sad and dark. I enjoyed it quite a bit, though it was my least favorite in the book.
Underground Intelligence by Elaine Chao In the alien-held New Zealand, the humans are kept as slaves. The last three novellas all deal with that. In this one, we learn of the human underground resistance in New Zealand, but more importantly is the relationship between one Inlari man and the human resistance fighter woman who came to steal tech from him. A story of how friendships and trust can start, and the effects they could have.
I really liked this one. I loved the Inlari character so much.
Transmission Interrupted by Dana Leipold Through this novella we learned of the Inlari's religion... but it was really about the relationship between a young Inlari girl and the human (slave) boy she loved. It had a nice twist to it, which was foreshadowed in the story, but I hadn't picked up on, so once it happened I had to laugh at myself for not realizing.
Though stories about religion of this type make me uncomfortable (the religion being an excuse to make one group feel superior and make it okay to hurt another group -- too realistic), I still enjoyed it a lot. The characters made the story. Unfortunately the ending wasn't believable: [Click here]The girl killed herself by stabbing herself in the heart with a sword she grabbed from a soldier. Falling on your sword? Sure, that could work. But just standing there and holding it in your hands and stabbing yourself in the chest? With adults in arm's reach of you? That I don't buy.
Babylon’s Song by Woelf Dietrich Ugh, this story. Sad and dark and wonderful. In this novella we followed a very young girl. Her family murdered, she and her sister were stolen from their home in Australia by Inlari slavers. She was nine, her sister was four. The story followed through her training as they tried to break her, she and her sister sold to different people. She ended up in the hands of a very kind Inlari (such a lucky break for her, that's very uncommon, the Inlari think of humans as animals). Bad, spoiler things happen and the girl and her master are taken into custody by the Inlari police force.
I didn't completely like or buy the ending, I wish it had ended sooner (with an open ending), but still. I loved this story, it was my favorite in the book.
This book is currently $5 on Amazon, and well worth the price (so long as you're okay with dark stories). It's been a long time since I've enjoyed and been so impressed by a self-published book. I wish more of them were like this one.