My latest publication,Free Hugs, is now available to read or listen to at Metaphorosis magazine. I wrote this story in early days of this never-ending pandemic and it began as a response to several of my elder family members lamenting not being able to hug their grandkids. It was such a small, human lament, that I wound up writing a draft about an engineering grandson who designed a special robot to go give his Gram a hug on her birthday. He padded the bot’s chest and neck so that if she closed her eyes, it would feel like a real hug. Then, the idea kind of took on a life of its own, caught up in capitalism, the hugbots got sensors to measure happiness hormones, and suddenly they were EVERYWHERE.
And, you know, that story just never quite grabbed me. It seemed like something everyone would be writing during lockdown, so I put it away and went back to my pandemic depression. It wasn’t until I started wondering what would happen to all of those robots after the pandemic was over that I found the story I wanted to write. Free Hugs is that story. I hope you like it, I hope you’re well, and I hope you stay that way.
Peter J. Foote’s debut novella,Boulders Over the Bermuda Triangle, is the third episode in Engen Books’ multi-author Slipstreamersseries featuring the adventures of Cassidy Cane. In the series, risk-loving anthropologist Cassidy Cane is hired by one Professor Gamgee to explore a series of portals that may lead anywhere. Think Indiana Jones meets Doctor Who, with the portals acting as TARDIS.
In Boulders Cassidy flies through a portal over the Bermuda Triangle that lands her in deep space. Her aircraft fails and her only hope is what looks like a space station ahead. With a bit of luck, an adolescent, reptilian alien named Agnoix, notices Cassidy’s plight and launches a rescue. What Agnoix doesn’t know is that she’s about to save a human, one of the reptilian Xik’en species’ mortal enemies. Rather than turning Cassidy in, Agnoix decides to fight her learned prejudice and see the human as simply another soul in need of help.
While the youth’s struggle to overcome her cultural bias was my favourite part of this book, there were many other elements that delighted me. Foote knows his way around reptiles and it comes through in his imagined space station: organic tunnels lined with plants and humid, smelly air. He has also employed a clever work around to keep the mining station safe from the asteroid field they work in, but I’ll let you read those details on your own.
I give this book a solid 4/5 and highly recommend this book, especially for Doctor Who fans like me. Which brings me to one more not insignificant detail…
(cue suspenseful music)
I am also writing an episode in this series! Eee! Come back tomorrow for more details!