LITERARY SCIENCE FICTION--The Archives of Varok
THE WEBS OF VAROK now available online in several editions, including a classy hardcover. See reviews below.
Notes on The Webs of Varok, by Katherine Campbell
"Who knew sustainable economics could be so much fun? Served up with large helpings of adventure and novel romance, the post-growth society of Neeper’s complex but completely imagined world on a hidden moon of Jupiter is the setting for a page-turning struggle between the eternal themes of personal accumulation vs. the common good.
"The evil Mahntik schemes to grow and dominate Varok’s economy, mindlessly replicating the mistakes of earthlings, from energy-intensive globalized trade to water pollution from the overuse of nitrate fertilizer. Fighting back is the inter-species family of varoks, humans and ellls recently returned from a station on Earth’s moon where they were unable to help prevent the disintegration of the unsustainable human economy of 2050 CE. The human example reinforces the lessons that varokian society learned millenia ago after the collapse of the equally unsustainable economy of their own forebears. Orram, the varok head of the mixed family, accepts the position of Governor of Living Resources and struggles to repair and reinforce the steady-state economic system that has allowed varokian society to evolve and thrive in the wake of that long-ago disaster."
Kathy Campbell co-taught a sustainability course with Neeper in New Mexico in the early 2000s. She currently lives in central Massachusetts, where she is heartened to observe the emerging network of relocalization and sustainability efforts, from a system of cooperatives in Springfield to a transition town in Greenfield, and from Coop Power, solar building and alternative financing to the preservation of farmland, forests and wetlands in the broad Pioneer Valley.
By Douglas Cobb at BookSpotCentral.com
"Cary Neeper deftly weaves the various points of view she writes about into a page-turning novel that will keep you interested and wanting to read more from the start to the finish. With her in-depth descriptions of the moon, she displays incredible world-building skills and makes Varok seem like it could be a real place with a myriad of life forms.
The Webs of Varok is a spellbinding read and a great addition to Neeper’s series, The Archives of Varok. . . ."
Douglas Cobb, author and book blogger, Book Spot Central
Read the complete comprehensive review
THE WEBS OF VAROK--Prologue
I found myself immersed in a living painting . Opalescent blues and tans danced a slow waltz with sheets of lightning behind portly trees, knee-deep in dark, blue-green scrub. Rock and adobe buildings with rounded contours shared nearby cliffs or nestled under huge trees, scattered on the hillsides or clustered near streams and lakes. All sang with a peaceful quiet. Only a few tall figures moved along the paths, spiraling their hands at the occasional rider on wheeled craft. Across broad, rust-hued fields leapt huge rabbits, like shaggy giraffes with smiling dog faces.
"They're daramonts, Orram, aren't they?"
My varok nodded and smiled, raising his chiseled brow without looking up from the navigation panel.
The vision faded, but the painting was mine now, a part of me.
"Want me to call up some more memories while Conn's still soaking his gills?"
"I'd love it," I said, easing forward to take Conn's usual seat next to Orram.
"Where shall we go?" he asked. "My past is yours for the reading."
"How about interactions with ahlork?"
"I'll see what I can remember. Too bad elll brains are so convoluted. Conn could give us some good memories, but they're not easy to access."
"He's told me about his first encounter with ahlork when he arrived on Varok."
"Oh yes, the ahlork who was applying to the Concentrate." Orram smiled. "Conn took the brunt of Nidok's rage when he was rejected."
"Conn didn't realize he should not offer a comforting word."
"A comforting insult might have fared better."
"Hold that thought," I said.
Orram raised his chin and pulled his full mouth into a thoughtful grin . "I was only one Jovian year old when I encountered my first ahlork. I had just started work on calculus at the Concentrate . . . sitting outside at a table, a bright peach colored sky . . ."
I felt the pen in Orram's young hand sketching a diagram—no, a graph. Suddenly a small whip encircled his wrist. I felt the grip of an ahlork's prehensile wingtip and heard the strange gargling sound of his rough Varokian words.
"Show me this. Show me this writing, varok."
With his free hand, young Orram pushed five long fingers through his head of silver-streaked bronze hair. What can I do? The ahlork could slash me if I don't tell him something. What can he understand?
"Tell me these lines," the ahlork demanded. "What are they meaning?"
"I am learning calculus."
"You learn about warts?"
Young Orram laughed, and for a moment nearly went irrational with comingled fear and bemusement. Quickly regaining control, he said, "No, no. It's your brain that has warts. This is mathematics."
The strangled sound of the ahlork's laugh flooded Orram's memory and filled my mind, overlain with the the crackling of chitinous wing plates as the beast took off from the table.
The sounds faded, leaving pleasant traces that merged with the love I knew was in real time, coming from the deepest blue of Orram's eyes.
"Thank you," I said, as his gaze shifted again to the instrument panel.
"We'll do more later, Tan. Tell Conn to put on a wet-sweater and come back to work flying home. He won't want to miss the swing around Jupiter."
(For the first chapters and a chance to critique for prizes click herea.)