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Twin-Bred by Karen A. Wyle
Twin-Bred by Karen A. Wyle
Can interspecies diplomacy begin in the womb? After seventy years on Tofarn, the human colonists and the native Tofa still know very little about each other. Misunderstanding breed conflict, and the conflicts are escalating. Scientist Mara Cadell’s radical proposal: that host mothers of either species carry fraternal twins, human and Tofa, in the hope that the bond between twins can bridge the gap between species. Mara lost her own twin, Levi, in utero, but she has secretly kept him alive in her mind as companion and collaborator.
Mara succeeds in obtaining governmental backing for her project – but both the human and Tofa establishments have their own agendas. Mara must shepherd the Twin-Bred through dangers she anticipated and others that even the canny Levi could not foresee. Will the Twin-Bred bring peace, war, or something else entirely?
Guest Blog Post --
Character Interview with Mara Cadell
[Introductory Note: Mara has a secret to keep, and her answers to these questions reflect that. The secret: that her fraternal twin brother, Levi, died shortly before birth, and that she has dealt with the trauma of that loss by keeping him alive in her mind as a companion.]
Q. When did you first conceive of the Twin-Bred project?
A. In one sense, the idea first occurred to me when I was quite young -- a child, in fact. I believe I was seven years old. I was -- I was aware of the deep bond between twins, and I thought what a shame it was that humans and Tofa couldn't be twins, so they'd get along better. It was several years later that I learned about host mothers who carry fetuses for other women. I immediately recalled my earlier fancy, and wondered if the physical obstacles to cross-species implantation and so on could be overcome.
Q. Do you regard the Twin-Bred -- emotionally speaking -- as your children?
A. Not really. The relationship isn't that -- personal. I don't hover and worry over every little bump and bruise, or concern myself with fusses and tantrums. The ones whose host mothers have left would be much more likely to go to one of the nurses, possibly Chief Nurse Gaho, for something close to maternal attention. I think my feelings are more like those of a teacher who takes pride in her students' progress and achievements.
Although I am quite protective of the Twin-Bred's safety and well-being. You might say intensely protective.
Q. The official name of the Twin-Bred project is the Long-Term Emissary Viviparous Initiative, or LEVI. Is it a coincidence that those initials spell a name? Is the project named after someone in particular?
A. That's a personal matter. Next question?
Q. Would it be accurate to say that LEVI would never have gotten off the ground without funding and support from the governing Council?
A. Certainly. I'm no fundraiser. I have no particular gift for stroking egos and such. I suppose that if I'd happened to know someone both wealthy and interested, we could have managed with private funding. Most likely, we would still have had the same problems -- excuse me, occasional issues -- about the time frame in which results could be expected, and exactly what return on investment we could produce. Although we would have had personal continuity, instead of the turnover we've naturally seen on the Council over time.
Q. I understand you're an artist. What are your favorite subjects?
A. I don't usually call myself an artist. I like to sketch. I've done a little painting, but I rarely have time for it. My cartoons tend to be about things that annoy me. It helps me keep my temper.
Q. I see you have a cartoon on your desk. May I take a closer look?
A. (pause) Yes. Of course.
Q. This cartoon shows a woman sitting up in bed. It's you, isn't it? And she's holding a pillow at arm's length, and the pillow is sticking out its tongue at her. And one of the moons, the larger one, is showing through the window -- but it's making a really nasty face.
A. I don't always sleep well. And on occasion my dreams can be less than pleasant. Now I don't wish to be rude, but I really do have a great deal to do, and I'd best get back to it. Thank you for stopping by. I'll have someone give you a tour of the facility on your way out. It's worth seeing.
The human colony on Tofarn and the indigenous Tofa have great difficulty communicating with and basically comprehending each other. Scientist Mara Cadell is running a project where host mothers carry twins, one human and one Tofa, in the hope that the bond between twins can bridge the gap between species. Alan Kimball, a member of the governing human Council, is hostile to the Tofa and has inserted agents into the project.
Excerpt #1 from Twin-Bred
Tilda looked at her twins, cuddled close together in the crib. Mat-set had all four arms wrapped around Suzie. They seemed to cuddle any chance they got. Maybe they were glad to be free of separate amniotic sacs.
She looked down at Mat-set and remembered the rumors of Tofa with five arms instead of four. She had even seen pictures, but who knew whether they were authentic. Certainly none of the Tofa Twin-Bred babies had been born with extra limbs.
Tilda glanced over at the big dormitory clock and then back down at the babies. She gasped and staggered a step back. Mat-set was still holding Suzie with four arms. So how was he scratching his head with another one?
Tilda looked around wildly for a chair, found one blessedly nearby, and sank down on it. She pinched herself. Nothing changed. Well, who said you couldn’t pinch yourself in a dream and keep on dreaming?
She got up and walked, a bit unsteadily, to the intercom and buzzed for a nurse. Then she went back to the crib. Of course. Four arms, only four, and what was she going to do now?
She decided to be brave and sensible. If she had really seen it, the staff had to know. And if she hadn’t, and she didn’t wake up, then she was ill, and she should get the help she needed.
The chief nurse tucked Tilda in and watched her drift off to sleep, sedative patch in place. Then she went back to her station and called up the monitor footage on Tilda’s twins.
* CONFIDENTIAL *
CLEARANCE CLASS 3 AND ABOVE
LEVI Status Report, 12-15-71
Observation of the Tofa infants has shed some light on the longstanding question of whether the number of Tofa upper appendages is variable among the Tofa population. The thickest of the four armlike appendages is apparently capable of dividing when an additional upper appendage is desired. . . .
Councilman Kimball bookmarked the spot in his agent's report and opened his mail program. He owed an apology to the young man who had claimed his poor showing against a Tofa undesirable was due to the sudden appearance of an extra appendage. Apparently the man had been neither dishonest nor drunk.
After discharging that obligation, Kimball made a note to seek further details as to the divided arms' placement, reach, and muscular potential. His people needed adequate information to prepare them for future confrontations. After all, forewarned — he laughed out loud at the thought — was forearmed.
About the author: Karen A. Wyle was born a Connecticut Yankee, but eventually settled in Bloomington, Indiana, home of Indiana University. She now considers herself a Hoosier. Wyle's childhood ambition was to be the youngest ever published novelist. While writing her first novel at age 10, she was mortified to learn that some British upstart had beaten her to the goal at age 9.
Wyle is an appellate attorney, photographer, political junkie, and mother of two daughters. Her voice is the product of almost five decades of reading both literary and genre fiction. It is no doubt also influenced, although she hopes not fatally tainted, by her years of law practice. Her personal history has led her to focus on often-intertwined themes of family, communication, the impossibility of controlling events, and the persistence of unfinished business.
Author link: www.KarenAWyle.net
Twin-Bred Playlist Promotion
I'm running a special promotion for Twin-Bred: be the first reader to suggest a song for a Twin-Bred playlist, and if I agree with your selection, your name and song choice will be included in an appendix to a future edition of the book!
Please send an mp3 file, or a link to a YouTube video where I can hear the song, to Karen A. Wyle at firstname.lastname@example.org. (At the same time, please let me know if you'd like to be on my email alert list, so you can hear about upcoming releases and events.)
I'll post occasional updates about the playlist on Twin-Bred's Facebook page.