Monday, September 5, 2016
Dreaming of the Stars (In Love and War, Book 1) by Cora Buhlert
Release date: August 28, 2016
Subgenre: Space opera
Even in a galaxy torn apart by war, the young still have dreams.
On Rajipuri, a poor planet in the Empire of Worlds, Anjali Patel and her two younger sisters look up at the stars and dream of escaping the limitations of a traditional and rigidly stratified society.
At the same time, in a camp for war orphans in the Republic of United Planets, Mikhail Grikov also looks up at the stars and dreams of escaping a life of pain and abuse.
One day in the far future, they will meet and change the galaxy. But for now, they're merely dreaming of the stars…
This is a prequel novelette of 8500 words or approx. 29 print pages to the "In Love and War" series, but may be read as a standalone.
Half a galaxy away, on the far edge of the Republic of United Planets, one of the two great polities that had divided the galaxy amongst themselves, lay Wamsler IV. It was a cold and miserable rock with a breathable atmosphere, but hardly any vegetation. Just rocks and mud and more mud.
Wamsler IV had been a mining colony once, but the demands of the war effort had long stripped the world of any useful resources. So the Scientific Council in its infinite wisdom had decided to put the used-up colony to another use, namely to house the masses of refugees displace by its ongoing seventy-seven year war with the Empire of Worlds.
Juvenile Camp 12M8 was a facility for war orphans, though you wouldn’t know it by the looks of it. Instead, the place looked more like a prison than an orphanage. Rows of drab pre-fab barracks sat on the muddy ground, surrounded by an electrified perimeter fence tall enough to keep even the most nimble of youths inside. The single gate was manned by uniformed guards twenty-four seven.
Loitering near that gate, though not near enough to attract any undue attention from the guards, was Mikhail Alexeievich Grikov, one of the more than two thousand children and adolescents housed at Juvenile Camp 12M8.
Mikhail was a lanky boy with pale skin, dark hair cropped brutally short and brilliant blue eyes. The drab blue uniform worn by all inmates of Camp 12M8 hung loosely from his skinny frame, too big and too small at the same time, for a recent growth spurt had left the sleeves and legs too short.
Though the uniform at least hid the bruises that covered his body. Discipline was swift and harsh for troublemakers at Juvenile Camp 12M8. And Mikhail was considered a habitual troublemaker.
One of the gate guards was looking his way, so Mikhail quickly ducked back into the shadows between the barracks, lest he catch another beating for whatever stupid rule he was breaking this time. He leant against the wall of the barrack and tried to ignore his growling stomach. The daily calorie allowance of one thousand eight hundred calories was never enough for his growing body, leaving him perpetually hungry.
Mikhail was fifteen years old. He’d been at Camp 12M8 for seven years now.
He’d been born on Jagellowsk, a world of extensive woodlands and yellow wheat fields, once called the breadbasket of the Republic. Mikhail had spent his first eight years on Jagellowsk, growing up on a farm among those wheat fields with his parents, grandparents, an older sister called Katya and a dog called Laika. They were all gone now, blown up along with his homeworld by an Imperial superweapon. Mikhail was the only one left.
In seven years on Wamsler IV, Mikhail had learned to lock away his memories of his family and his homeworld in his heart, so no one could take them from him, just like they’d taken everything else. His clothes, his hair, shorn brutally short so it was easier to manage, his language, for the camp guards punished the kids for not speaking Standard, even among themselves, even his name, for the official camp records only listed him as Mikhail Grikov, aged fifteen, omitting the patronymic, since the database had no field for it.
Mikhail did not care. In his heart, he was Mikhail Alexeievich Grikov of Jagellowsk, son of Alexei and Irina, brother of Katya, and would always be.
Cora Buhlert was born and bred in North Germany, where she still lives today – after time spent in London, Singapore, Rotterdam and Mississippi. Cora holds an MA degree in English from the University of Bremen and is currently working towards her PhD. Cora has been writing since she was a teenager, and has published stories, articles and poetry in various international magazines. When she is not writing, she works as a translator and teacher.