Pets in Space is a brand new science fiction romance anthology in which I and eight other authors have stories about – pets in space! You can get a free sampler of the first scenes of every story in the book at Instafreebie. Release date for the anthology is October 11, so this month, we’re trading blog posts . . . and here is how SFR author Laurie Green invented the pet.
When I first hopped onboard the Pets in Space Anthology, I already had an idea brewing for the “pet” element of my story. I’d been kicking around the concept of a future heroine having her own space companion, a ship’s mascot that I affectionately dubbed “space weasel.”
I saw space weasel as an evolved version of a weasel/mongoose we know today. Her job on the ship would be to eradicate any sort of pest that invaded, because let’s face it, the infestation of a starship—an enclosed biosphere contained within an infinite vacuum–could lead to some very bad things!
As I began to develop the story, I realized the creature would have to be more than just a space weasel. I’d need to carefully assemble an eradicator-extraordinaire.
So how do you “build” a superior starship exterminator? One that can infiltrate a vessel’s hidden spaces to tackle rats, mice, gophers, snakes, grasshoppers, wasps, tribbles…well, maybe not tribbles—cuteness overload! But seriously, what DNA ingredients could be mixed and matched by an ambitious biohack to create the perfect pest eliminator?
Hmmm. Let’s take a closer look at that.
First off, maybe incorporating the attributes of the space weasel is a pretty good idea. The bravado, quickness and natural venom-resistance of a mongoose [ info link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mongoose ], for one. Mongooses are fierce hunters of the Herpestidae family, best known for protecting households in India from the deadly cobra as made famous by Rudyard Kipling’s much-loved short story Rikki Tikki Tavi from The Jungle Book. They also actively hunt rats, scorpions, frogs and lizards. Definitely a prime candidate for a ship’s mascot, don’t you think? Some mongooses grow to three feet long (though half of that is tail) and would be too bulky to chase down pests in some of the smaller conduits and ducts of a starship. We need DNA from one of the smaller foot-long species to whip up the ideal creature.
Next up, the quick and nimble weasel [ info link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weasel ]which are also closely related to ferrets, mink and otters. With their long, slender bodies and smaller 6-8 inch size, they can follow small prey right into their burrows, and are also big consumers of rodents. I think we’d definitely want these qualities combined into our pest terminator.
We’d also want loyalty and trainability traits so they could work side-by-side with the crew and obey commands. This mascot would definitely need to be part–and maybe a lot—canine. But not all canine phenotypes would be well-suited for shipboard life. Some are too large. Some were bred to do very different things. Though many are hunters, their specialty is fowl. What sort of canine genetics and body type might work best folded into mongoose and weasel DNA? That answer was literally right at my feet. Dachshund! Dachshunds were bred with short legs and long bodies so they could pursue badgers and rabbits down into their burrows. Since two of the miniature long-haired variety are a big part of my life, they loaned not only some of their DNA to the mix, but also one of their names. 🙂
Last, but certainly not least, we’d need to include some traits to make for a very easy-care animal. After all, this girl is going to live on a spaceship. It’s not like she can be taken out for a walk! She’d need the natural instincts to be litter-trained along with the superior predatory skills of a house cat. Our last ingredient is feline DNA.
And now we have the perfect creature. A loyal, affection, easily-trained, nimble, venom-immune, superior vermin hunter who is small enough to fit comfortably on her master’s shoulder or invade the infrastructure of a space vessel in search of trouble.
We have a StarDog!
About the Story StarDog
Navigator Taro Shall has a mission no one wants – find a way to eradicate snakes on a starship. He never expects to find the answer to his problem in a charming street vendor named Adini. His already unusual mission becomes more complicated when he suddenly acquires an adorable StarDog that soon sweeps him and Adini into the maw of a brewing insurrection.
Laurie A. Green is a three-time RWA Golden Heart® finalist, an award-winning author, and a science fiction romance enthusiast who founded the SFR Brigade community of writers, which is now nearly 900 members strong.
Twitter Handle: @SFRLaurie