In the distant past, a branch of the human species adapted to the sea. Over millennia, the people lived and changed, returning to the ocean. Their shape transformed, allowing them to swim sleek and swift beneath the waves. Their lungs grew more efficient, and one lobe evolved a rudimentary ability to extract oxygen from the water. The oxygen extraction organ allowed them to pass into languor and live for long periods without breathing. In times of danger or times of storm, the sea people could sink deep underwater, wait for safety, and survive.Vonda McIntyre has made a bunch of her fiction free for download, including her Nebula award-winning novel The Moon and the Sun. It is the story of Marie-Josephe, "a young lady in the court of Louis XIV" in an alternate 17th-century France:
~ "The Natural History & Extinction of the People of the Sea"
When her brother Yves returns from a naturalist voyage with two sea monsters (one live, one dead), Marie-Josèphe is caught up in a battle of wills involving the fate of the living creature. The king intends to test whether the sea monster holds the secrets of immortality, but Marie-Josèphe knows the creature to be an intelligent, lonely being who yearns only to be set free. In a monumental test of the limits of patience and love, Marie-Josèphe defies the will of the king, her brother, and the pope in defense of what she knows is right, at any cost. McIntyre's atmospheric prose envelops the reader in a fully realized world--sights, smells, and sounds are described in great detail .I'm looking forward to reading it.
What's very cool is that you can also read "The Natural History & Extinction of the People of the Sea" at Book View Cafe. This fictional encyclopedia article - written by McIntyre and illustrated by Ursula LeGuin - inspired The Moon and the Sun. It is a description of the natural history of distant relatives of humans who evolved to live in the sea. These sea people inspired the legends of Nereids and sirens and sea monsters. As ship technology improved, they came into contact with humans, and we cruelly hunted them to extinction. It's not a pretty history . . .
Read "The Natural History & Extinction of the People of the Sea" and other fiction by Vonda McIntyre.
Image: Detail of illustration of "The Natural History & Extinction of the People of the Sea" by Ursula LeGuin
Tags:science fiction, Vonda McIntyre, free fiction