Space, the final frontier.
Those words defined my childhood. They filled me with hope and wonder and imagination. I loved the old space odysseys—I loved finding new galaxies, fighting evil Sith overlords, and saving the whales. Okay, I especially loved saving the whales. Say what you want about , but it’s one of my favorite of all time. Come to think of it, I think that’s because it’s so genuinely absurd—and it’s okay being absurd. It takes absurdity by the reigns and drives that chariot straight into the sun.
But that’s kinda what I love about the genre. It boldly goes—it pushes the boundaries of what’s comfortable and safe and goes further. When it aired, was ahead of its time in its representation of minorities in major roles. pushed the boundaries of how intergalactic stories could be told—and with what technology.
In college, one of my roommates was obsessed with —and I loved it, too. I had never seen anything like it before on television (but that doesn’t excuse it of its faults: cringe-worthy cultural appropriation and stigmatized stereotypes). At the time, however, it took me to a galaxy where heroes were smart-talking, sassy smugglers, and I fell in love with that.
, , , , , , , , , , and my fan-fave, —they shaped my childhood in wonderful and terrifying ways. (Anyone else scarred from that ride at Disney World, anyone? Anyone?) But even as I talk about sci-fi as a genre, I can’t forget where a lot of our preconceived ideas of “sci-fi” come from—
, , , , , , , , —even ! ! ! !—these films and series were the stepping stones in my understanding of sci-fi as more than a genre, but as, quite frankly, my absolute favorite way to reimagine the world.
To me, sci-fi isn’t a genre about scientific exploration and technology, it’s a genre that can—and often does—push the boundaries of what we expect from the world around us. Where fantasy likens back to (mostly) some re-imagined construct of medieval Europe, sci-fi was the first genre I can remember where a female was not a damsel, but a starship captain. It’s the first medium where I watched a black woman save her crew with her BAMFin’ communications prowess. It’s the genre where I first saw an openly interracial couple. An openly gay couple. An asexual character. Genderfuild. Now I’m not saying that sci-fi was where these things happened first, but where I first experienced them personally.
And because of that, I wanted to populate the kingdom in Heart of Iron with everything I loved about the genre that fostered me. I wanted to see myself on-page. I wanted female starship captains and queer romances and girls made of everything that is good in the universe—of bravery and compassion and iron and stars.
There is something about space that’s magnificent. It is ever-expanding, ever-reaching, ever-growing. It fills itself with millions upon billions of countless glowing stars that light up the unknowable and the unexplainable—guiding stars to new horizons.
Or perhaps, they are the stars that lead you home.
Take a peek at Heart of Iron with this excerpt below to celebrate its release today!
The universe roared in, sucking out the oxygen in the chute in a puff of frozen white. The door popped open and tore away so fast, it looked as though it disappeared completely.
Space itself ripped Ana and Di out of the chute, grabbing them by their very molecules. They shot toward the fleetship across the fifty-yard expanse. The access port grew larger by the moment.
They were coming in too fast. She’d miscalculated the gravitational fields between the two ships.
Drawing her pistol out of its holster under her arm, she shot the latch off the Tsarina’s chute. Di grabbed her by the waist and spun around just in time for his back to slam against the round door.
It crumpled inward and gave way into the starship.
The buffer of artificial gravity slowed them so when Di hit the floor, Ana on top of him, it was like falling from ten feet instead of a thousand. Pain still spiked through her backbone and shoulders and knocked the breath right out of her.
An emergency door slid over the open access port, repressurizing the emergency chute they’d landed in.
She coughed, rolling onto her knees, and clawed off her helmet to suck in a lungful of air. The ship’s air tasted stale, as though it hadn’t been recycled for a while. That was a good sign. Abandoned, like Jax said.
Di got to his feet first.
“Thanks for that,” she gasped, taking his hand, so he helped her up. She pressed the keypad to open the airlock and stepped into a corridor. “See? This is why we make such a good . . .”
The halogen lights overhead flickered on, humming.
“I thought Jax said the ship was running on emergency power,” she muttered.
“It is. Perhaps an internal generator belowdecks.”
The halogen lights popped on one at a time, illuminating the long corridor they had landed in. It was white, lined with silver doors glowing with red keypads. Locked. At first glance, the ship looked immaculate, but there was a thin layer of dust on the tiled floor, showing their boot prints as they traveled down the corridor.
“Where do you think we should start looking?” she asked, testing the nearest keypad. She punched in a random number, and it beeped red.
“Hey, do you think you can override these locks?” When he didn’t answer, she glanced over her shoulder. “Di?”
He cocked his head as if hearing something.
Slowly, his eyes slid toward the door in front of her, and he reached for his gun.