Our hero, Mackenzie Winifred Elizabeth Wright Connor, is a biologist studying the recovery of salmon in the Pacific Northwest. She has pledged devout loyalty to her salmon and pointedly ignores the goings-on of life on other planets, even when that life is being mysteriously wiped out. She is volunteered by the Ministry of Extra-Sol Human Affairs when an alien scientist, notable in his field of archeology, comes to beg her assistance in the search for the killers. Brymn is a Dhrin, a species that has ignored biology to the point of forbidding the study of all biological sciences. He hopes her experience in studying the survival of salmon will translate to knowing how to insure the survival of the Dhrin. One thing leads to another, of course, and she is soon embroiled in galactic politics as well as a fight for the survival of mankind.Fantasy Book Spot rates it a "10". The other two books in the series are Migration and Regeneration.
Czerneda was formerly a researcher in animal communication and her fascination with biology on Earth has inspired her alien species. As she said in an interview with Strange Horizons:
JC: I use what I know about the mechanics and motivations of animal communication when building my aliens, definitely. For example, Esen, the main character of my Web Shifters books, typically finds herself either at an advantage or disadvantage due to a form's ability to communicate. I also like to put humans into situations where they have to communicate with the non-human, then show the potential for misunderstanding. Such fun. One of my favourites has been the Drapsk, from the Trade Pact books (A Thousand Words for Stranger, Ties of Power, To Trade the Stars). I loved finding ways to make communication technology for beings who smell meaning.Czerneda has long been an advocate of using science fiction as a tool for science literacy (see her guide for teachers No Limits: Developing Scientific Literacy Using Science Fiction and the recently released science fiction short story collection Polaris: A Celebration of Polar Science), and that was part of the inspiration for the Species Imperative series.
LT: Tell us about Species Imperative: Survival, just out in May 2004. What sparked the idea for this novel?Czerneda's latest novel, Reap the Wild Wind will be available in September.
JC: The idea echoes back to my interest in encouraging scientific literacy, particularly in biology. I mean, if we don't understand ourselves as living things, how can we hope to make informed choices? I wanted to write about a situation where there are many intelligent species, coexisting in space, all sure the big problems have been solved as long as everyone pays their bills, but. . .my "but" is that one of those species has an unsuspected biological drive, a "species imperative" that will come to threaten all the others. I chose migration, because staying on your side of the fence is part of being a polite neighbour. If you must migrate, rules of territory and property are lost. What happens then? Not to mention, I've made that migration a little more dangerous than most.
Find more books by Julie Czerneda at the Amazon Biology in Science Fiction store.
Tags:Julie Czerneda, Species Imperative, ecology