Candlemark & Gleam is known for finding exciting new voices. Yet an equally integral part of our vision is to give starships to bold experienced astrogators. One of the talents I’ve always tracked closely is Melissa Scott, a pioneering forerunner who opened new paths in the genre way ahead of trends. With immense pride and joy I can now tell lovers of paradigm-shifting SF that Melissa has chosen us as the launch pad for her novel Finders.
Melissa really needs no introduction, she’s among the brightest stars in the firmament of SF. With a PhD in history from Brandeis, she has published more than thirty original novels and several short stories, most with queer themes and characters, and is known for her expansive and effective world-building. She has created several still-active series (the fantasy mysteries Points; the occult adventures Order of the Air co-authored with Jo Graham; gay Victorian murder mysteries co-authored with Amy Griswold; and the serial space opera The Rule of Five co-authored with Don Sakers). She has also written authorized tie-ins for Star Trek: DS9, Star Trek: Voyager, Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, and Star Wars Rebels.
Melissa won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1986, and Lambda Literary Awards for Trouble and Her Friends, Shadow Man, Point of Dreams (written with long-time partner and collaborator, the late Lisa A. Barnett), and Death By Silver, written with Amy Griswold. She has been shortlisted for the Tiptree Award. She has won Spectrum Awards for Shadow Man, for the short story “The Rocky Side of the Sky,” Death by Silver, and Fairs’ Point.
I first got in touch with Melissa when I was envisioning The Other Half of the Sky. The story she sent me, “Finders”, was reprinted in Gardner Dozois’ Year’s Best SF. So was “Firstborn, Lastborn”, the story she wrote for To Shape the Dark. The two stories, set in a fully imagined universe with vividly delineated protagonists, form the nucleus of Finders. The novel is a seamless fusion of adventure, myth and science-as-advanced-as-magic:
Cassilde Sam is a barely solvent salvage operator, hunting for relics in the ruins left by the mysterious Ancestors—particularly the color-coded Elements that power most of humanity’s current technology, including the ability to navigate through hyperspace. Cassilde is also steadily fading under the onslaught of Lightman’s, an incurable, inevitably fatal disease. She needs one last find big enough to leave a legacy for her partner and fellow salvor Dai Winter.
When their lover and former colleague Summerlad Ashe reappears, offering them a chance to salvage part of an orbiting palace that he claims contains potentially immense riches, Cassilde is desperate enough to take the gamble, even though Ashe had left them both to fight on the opposite side of the interplanetary war that only ended seven years ago. The find is everything Ashe promised. But when pirates attack the claim, Cassilde receives the rarest of the Ancestors’ Gifts: a change to her biochemistry that confers near-instant healing and seems to promise immortality.
But the change also drags her into an underworld where Gifts are traded in blood, and powerful Gifts bring equally powerful enemies. Hunted for her Gift and determined to find Gifts for her lovers, Cassilde discovers that an old enemy is searching for the greatest of the Ancestral artifacts: the power that the Ancestors created and were able to barely contain after it almost destroyed them, plunging humanity into the first Long Dark. Haunted by dream-visions of this power whispering its own version of what happened, Cassilde must find it first, before her enemy frees it to destroy her own civilization.
We expect to show Finders to the world within the next fifteen months, along with vibrant launches from other scoutships of the Candlemark fleet: Kristin Landon, Elana Gomel, Kelly Jennings, Justin Robinson. Keep this frequency open!
Top Image: Dreaming Metal; cover design, David Dodd (Crossroad Press)
Addendum: Here’s Melissa’s discussion of the novel’s origin.