No other novel I ever write will match the joy I feel in bringing Alien People to life. This is a true culmination of a writing journey that started as a teenager – a journey that has shaped my adult life.
I wrote the original rough draft for Alien People over the summer before starting my freshman year at the University of Utah. I tried to get a summer job after graduating from high school, but I did not own a car at the time, so I had limited employment options. I decided to spend that summer writing a science fiction novel. I concocted a clever story idea and cranked out a 400-page story in only three months.
The early version of Alien People put the rough in rough draft, but it held storytelling promise. It also held a special place in my heart as my lone novel that my Mom read before her death. I tinkered with the story through the years and finally developed and refined it enough to send this novel out into the world in 2020. I love Calandra, Xttra, and the other wonderful characters who populate this fictional universe and hope you will feel the same way as you get to know each character.
I am indebted to Jefferson Keyes, Spencer Durrant, and Sandra Coon for valuable feedback that helped me refine this story and bring it to life. I am also grateful to Micah Marquez and the design team at 100 Covers for the beautiful cover they created for this novel. – JC
“For Mom, who encouraged me to reach for the stars and discover my own new worlds.”
A broad smile burst across Calandra's face as the ramifications of her discovery became clear in her mind. This was no ordinary probe.
The observatory telescope revealed a simple object no more remarkable than a random asteroid to untrained eyes. Her instincts led Calandra to a different conclusion as she studied the probe. Laying eyes on a holographic image of this satellite aroused excitement inside her. Peculiar details immediately surfaced in the probe's design. It felt like someone ripped an object from the pages of a historical text and set it before Calandra.
A broad square sail boxed in a central silvery sphere on all sides. The sail divided into four triangular sections. Rods extended from each section boundary, forming a partial x shape, and fused into the central sphere. A clear material composed the sail and reflected the sphere's coloring. It reminded Calandra of a gigantic mirror.
One thing seemed certain. This strange orb resembled nothing she had ever seen launched from Lathos. And this simple fact alone created a mystery that made Calandra's heart skip a beat.
“You need to look at this.”
She tugged on the sleeve of a dark-haired man seated at an adjacent workstation and coaxed him toward the telescope. He squinted at the same three-dimensional image floating above a holocaster connected to the telescope and studied it. A perplexed expression soon washed over his face, mirroring Calandra’s internal reaction when she first noticed the small probe.
“This can't be one of ours. The shape is all wrong.” Her colleague pressed down on a panel on a display screen in front of the telescope. “This probe doesn't comply with our standards, Confederation standards, or any other standards I'm familiar with.”
“That's what I thought too.”
"And the trajectory is much too distant and on an odd angle. I know of no authorized orbital paths so far away from our sun. Or any so elliptical."
He cast his eyes at Calandra and ran his fingers through his curly blond hair.
“Who do you think launched this thing?”
The young astronomer answered with a shrug while pondering his question.
“No clue. I think we’ve got a mystery probe on our hands, Dal.”
Calandra cross-checked coordinates on the telescope — down to the minutes and seconds — a second time and a third time. Dal's first observation proved correct. This probe showed many irregularities both in distance and orbital path. Enough were present to rule out a launch from the surface of Lathos. These irregularities signaled a point of origin entirely outside their system.
She pursed her lips and glanced back at Dal.
“If the probe didn't come from Ra'ahm, or Confederation territory, then where did it launch? And who launched it?”
He did not answer Calandra. Dal studied the rotating image above the holocaster. Ports on each side of the square pad emitted lasers. These struck the pad simultaneously and formed a small light field to recreate a scaled-down image of the probe. It showed how the observatory telescope viewed the probe in real time. The holocaster light field cast an ethereal green glow across his face. His eyes settled into a half-squint as Dal traced the contours on[…]”
Excerpt From: John Coon. “Unknown.” Apple Books.