Between Venus & Mars
S.C. Mitchell
SciFi

Once Upon a Galaxy . . .

Zana Starchild is on a mission to restore her tribe’s livestock and save herself from one more meal of kelp. Sure, it’s technically illegal to visit Old Earth, but to a rim rat like Zana, galactic laws are really just guidelines. Her wrecked starship just means she’ll need to use her backup plan to get off the abandoned world, an old Earth legend her uncle passed down to her.

Pulled from a relaxing shower, across the galaxy to Old Earth, Galactic Marshall Kyle Kepler finds himself naked and marooned with a quirky rim rat. Zana’s broken more laws than Kyle can count, and he plans to arrest her, just as soon as he can find transport off the planet and a pair of pants.

A junk heap of a starship, a magical tree, and a roving gang of mutant kangaroos are just the beginning of rollicking intergalactic journey filled with laughs, love, and adventure.

Uncaged Review: This is the second of the Soul Mate Tree books I’ve had the pleasure to review and the third in the series. You will need to obtain a book to read the poem about the tree, but the premise is the tree will gift you with your soul mate if you believe. (Too bad one doesn’t really exist.)
Chapter one opens with Zana Starchild from Konga 10, a rim world, piloting a TRS-90 starship. Her uncle had salvaged the ship after it crashed on their planet and the pilot died. Zana is using the ship to get to old Earth. She is accosted by pirates at the last jump point. They let her go when they scan the ship only to discover she is telling them the truth when she said the ship wasn’t worth the time to steal.
Zana crash lands on Earth. Her uncle Onwin sent her there to get cells from animals so they could restart the herds which had been stolen by another group leaving their clan to starve on a planet which was mostly ice and snow. Her uncle had also told her about the Soul Mate Tree which had sent him to their planet where he stayed after falling in love with his wife.
One major problem her uncle warned her about was the roo gangs, who were dangerous fast breeding creatures. But she needs to find livestock and obtains cells to save her planet with or without roo. After touchdown, which was more of a crash, Zana gets to work finding animals, hoping the repair droid could make the ship fly again to get her back to her planet. She keeps thinking about the tree her uncle had told her about, thinking she could use a nice stud to help her.
Meanwhile, Kyle Kepler, a Galactic Marshal, is due for a long vacation. He thinks about calling a girl he had met, but realizes it would only be a short relationship as most women wouldn’t put up with his schedule. He goes home and decides to take an old fashioned shower before going to bed.
Back with Zana, she is having success with finding pigs, chickens and cattle, a wild turkey and elk. She is looking for sheep when she is startled by a voice saying, “Hello hummie.” It is a roo gang and they want her for dinner. These are kangaroos who have mutated to be able to speak and reason after residual radiation sped up their evolution. She has reason to be afraid of the slow witted creatures as they were very strong but they musculature changed to where they were slow, so Zana hopes to be able to outrun the group.
Zana races away from the roos who follow her up a hill to a tree. She believes it’s the Soul Mate tree her uncle Onwin told her about and believes she is about to meet the man of her dreams. She puts her hands on the tree, but instead of being transported elsewhere, a man who is naked with white stuff in his hair shows up. He is large and well-muscled, not that Zana is interested. Kyle snaps at her, telling her how teleporting sentient beings is against galatic law before the roos notice there are two of them. When Kyle asks where they are, she tells him old Earth.
Okay, you now have the set up for a fun book where Kyle and Zana go back and forth with the should I or shouldn’t I while attempting to stay safe from the roos and getting her ship to running so they can get off Old Earth and back to civilization. Of course, things don’t go smoothly. Kyle at first believes she is a criminal until he discovers she is here to save her clan on a rim planet. Kyle curses out the government who hadn’t come through to help the people on Konga 10, vowing have the rim planets visited more frequently.
Even though Kyle classifies Zana as a rim rat, he comes to respect her and her unorthodox beliefs and ways. The longer they are together, the closer the couple become.
This is a book filled with scenes where you laugh and root for Zana and Kyle. It becomes the haves and have nots and Kyle ends up wanting to help her and her people if they are able to leave Earth in her old dilapidated starship.
I found the book a fun read. It was as good, if not better than the first one I read which was set in the sixties and seventies. I loved the sci-fi future with the emphasis on finding a soul mate. You can’t help but root for Zana who is desperate to save her people, doesn’t want a soul mate so much as someone to help her get home.
There is some foul language and a few love scenes which fit the book and didn’t detract from the story. I give the book five stars since I had to keep reading to discover what happened next even though I knew they would end up together and it was a matter of where. Give it a try and discover a wonderful author who tells a fun story. Reviewed by Barbara

5 Stars