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Rescue Me: About the Animal Rescue Team in Galactic Search and Rescue

by Carol Van Natta

The Pets in Space® anthologies all feature science fiction romances, action, and pets. I love my pets dearly, so if I ever got to visit the stars, I’d be smuggling at least one of my cats with me. Which is why I’m convinced that pets are going with us to the stars. Let me tell you about the pets—an animal rescue team—in Galactic Search and Rescue, my story in Pets in Space 5.

First, a little background. In this space opera universe set in the far future, some people have extraordinary mental talents, ranging from telepathy and telekinesis to healing and empathy. These people are called “minders.” One of the more exotic talents is animal affinity, the ability to connect with the minds of animals.

Also in this universe, the majority of minders work for the government’s Citizen Protection Service, a vast agency with many mission areas. For example, helping out when catastrophe strikes. The Galactic Search and Rescue division has minders who are trained in disaster response. Thanks to animal-affinity minders, they also have animals who are trained to help.

The heroes of Galactic Search and Rescue are Taz, a telekinetic minder, and Rylando, an animal-affinity minder. Most animal-affinity minders are restricted to one family of animals, such as bunnies or birds. Rylando, on the other hand, can connect with pretty much any land animal, from birds, to mammals, to marsupials, to reptiles. Consequently, his trained rescue team is rather unorthodox.

Moyo is a hellhound, a genetically-engineered dog bred to be scary. Moyo was a training reject because she didn’t want to bite people’s legs off, she wanted to make friends and drool on them. Shen is a shepherd mix with enough energy to power a small city and a get-it-done kind of dog. She’s very fond of telling people what they should be doing.

The two cats are Phobos and Diemos, illegally-bred refugees from the shady pet-trade industry. They are excellent at getting humans to properly worship…, er, pet them, which has a calming effect on terrified people. Mariposa, the little burrowing owl, has fantastic hearing and eyesight, which Rylando can “borrow” for scouting purposes.

Otak, the giant pouched rat, is a genius among rats. In the future, rats like these have been bred for thousands of generations to detect one or two specific scents. Otak can distinguish eleven and counting, so he’s named for a polymath genius in the early days of space exploration.

Last but not least is Lerox, another product of the pet-trade industry. Here’s a brief excerpt from Galactic Search and Rescue that describes him and the team:

The giant brown-and-tan weasel sank his sharp teeth into the charred corner of a piece of freight padding.

Subcaptain Taloszjaril “Taz” Correa touched the earwire on the side of her face. “Rylando? Is it okay if Lerox bites the burned bits?

Yeah, he’s ace, as long as he doesn’t eat them,” responded Subcaptain Rylando Delroinn, in her earwire. Otherwise, Taz couldn’t have heard him over the pulsing whine of the skimmer engine. “I asked him to investigate the damage. It’s good practice for him to figure out how recently the burn happened.

Technically, Lerox was a pet designer’s idea of what a pre-flight, long-extinct prehistoric weasel called an “ekakeran” might have looked like. That was how the zero-ethics pet-trade industry got around legions of laws against genetically altering cornerstone species like badgers, tayras, or stoats. Lerox stood knee-high, and when he wasn’t exploring anything or nibbling everything, he was sliding into a human lap to demand a belly rub. He lived on the other side of the universe from shy and retiring.

Taz envied Rylando’s easy camaraderie with all his animals. His minder talent allowed him to sense their thoughts, direct their actions, and see and hear through their senses. The unit commander insultingly called them pet-trade rejects, but Taz knew better. They were a working team. Very non-regulation, but better than most of the human teams in their dysfunctional Galactic Search and Rescue unit. Galactic law dictated that the Citizen Protection Service had to operate GSAR, but apparently, the law didn’t say how well.

About Pets in Space 5

It’s time for an escape! Pets in Space® 5 is back for the fifth amazing year! Escape to new worlds with twelve of today’s top Science Fiction Romance authors. They have written 12 original, never-before-released stories filled with action, adventure, suspense, humor, and romance that will take you out of this world. The giving doesn’t stop there. For the fifth year, Pets in Space® will be donating a portion of the first month proceeds to, a non-profit charity that supports our veterans and first-responders. If you are ready to forget the world around you and make a difference while you’re having fun, grab your copy before it’s gone!



Apple Books:



About the Author


Carol Van Natta is a USA TODAY bestselling and award-winning science fiction and fantasy author. Series include the Central Galactic Concordance space opera romance series that starts with Overload Flux and features two previous Pets in Space® novellas, and the Ice Age Shifters® paranormal romance series that starts with Shifter Mate Magic. She shares her Fort Collins, Colorado home with a resident mad scientist and just the right number of equally mad cats, the latter of whom are rather put out that dogs play a more prominent part of this story than felines.

Pets in Space® 4 supports those who run toward danger when others are running away

Welcome to a special Pets in Space edition of Dead Author Live! I haven’t done a Dead Author Live for several months because of our noisy renovation, but I’m excited today to talk about Pets in Space 4!

If you’ve hung around me for very long, then you know that I am one of the co-founders of the Pets in Space anthologies, along with author Veronica Scott.

When Veronica Scott and I conceived the idea for our Pets in Space anthologies, one of the first things we talked about was supporting a charity that benfited our military and first responders—those who run toward danger when others are running away. And we hoped for some kind of pet tie-in.

It was total serendipity when we found Hero Dogs. This will be our fourth year as proud supporters of Pets in Space ® authors have donated over $7,100 in the past three years to help place specially trained dogs with veterans and first responders.

Why veterans and first responders?

My father was a veteran of both WWII and Korea. He was 18 years old when he was drafted into the Army and 21 when his national guard unit was sent to Korea.

At eighteen I was just starting college, not setting off to get shot at.

I sometimes forget how young they all were. How homesick, how seasick. How scared. When my dad left for Korea, he’d been married three months. His 18 month deployment meant he missed the birth of his first child. He didn’t know if he’d make it home. He didn’t know he’d live to find himself called one of the Greatest Generation. He just did his duty, then and throughout his life. He was my first hero.

I am so grateful to all the men and women of our military and to our first responders.

I am so grateful to Hero Dogs and other organizations that stand ready to help veterans and first responders recover from wounds received during their service. It is our privilege and honor to support Hero Dogs again this year. As in the past, 10% of all preorders and the first month’s royalties of Pets in Space 4 will once again be donated to

We hoping to raise more this year, but we need your help to do it. Please join us in supporting this very worthy cause by buying a copy of Pets in Space 4 and in sharing information about Pets in Space 4 with friends and family, in your real life and on social media. I promise you that you won’t regret it. You and, everyone who buys a copy will get to read 13 amazing stories of romance, danger, and of course, the heroes and heroines’ loyal and brave pets. It’s almost 1500 pages of science fiction romance, adventure with pets.

And yes I am an organizer, but I’m also one of the author’s. My story in the anthology is called Cyborg’s Revenge and it is a related story in my Project Enterprise series. What’s it about you ask?

They say you can’t go home again, but what if it is the only way to truly be free?

Rap and Ale have a mission to neutralize the man who enslaved them and their crew. It’s dangerous, with a high probability they will fail, but it is the only way to be truly and completely free of their past—and free to find a future with each other.

Here’s a teaser from the story:

That was the problem with plans. No matter how carefully Rap planned, stuff happened. As a robot he’d been able to react swiftly to rapidly changing dynamics. This body was much slower, but he couldn’t have executed this plan in his previous unit. And the only reason this human body had a chance was because of its cyborg enhancements.
You are welcome.
The AI, Nelson had come with the enhancements. Or the enhancements came with the AI. There was no question Nelson was key to making them work properly. But having a voice inside his head was an acquired taste—one Rap was still acquiring.
Your plan is imperfect.
Nelson was correct—
I am always correct.
Rap didn’t dispute this. It felt too much like arguing with himself, even though he knew Nelson was a separate entity operating inside Rap’s head.
“It is all we have,” Rap pointed out, startled by the sound of his voice in the otherwise empty room. If not stopped, the Q’uy, and V’ruwak in particular, would move against them again, harder than the last time, and they’d barely survived that.

Can Rap and Ale defeat their enemy and find their own happy-ever-after? Only Rap’s chatty pet Snake knows for sure.

I hope you’ll join us this year for 13 amazing adventures in space! Pets in Space 4 will land on eReaders all over the galaxy on Oct 8, 2019! Okay, maybe not the whole galaxy, but you never know, right?

And I’d like to personally thank you for your support of the Pets in Space anthologies. When Veronica and I talked about the first one, we had no idea there would be four. And there wouldn’t be without you, our readers. Thank you so much for taking this adventure with us. You are the best!

Unexpected Delights with Cassandra Chandler

One of the pleasures of doing an anthology is getting to meet new authors, even if only online. I meet Cassandra Chandler through the Pets in Space® 4 anthology and she immediately impressed me with her enthusiasm that just beams out of her. I asked Cassandra to share with me a little about her pet in Pets in Space® 4 so over to Cassandra….

One of the best aspects of being a writer is when the story, the characters, or the world surprise you. The Department of Homeworld Security has been no exception. I think the most delightful surprise so far has been the cats.

It started in Export Duty, when I discovered that Ari has been watching Earth cat videos and desperately wants one as a pet. I had no intention to make that part of his character, but it came up so naturally in his conversation with Rin that I knew I had to keep it. Now, I can’t envision Ari without a cat in his arms. It’s a different cat every time, and I’m hoping to make this a running gag in the series going forward. Lucky for Ari (and me), the newest human members of the Department of Homeworld Security have a pretty large clowder of rescue cats for him to hang out with.

The Vegan xenobiologist, Cyan, is also smitten with cats, but she can go one step farther than Ari—she can talk to them. That was another surprise I discovered while writing the series, and one that I’ve been exploring quite a bit in my mind. Beyond the desire for food, shelter, affection, and entertainment, what would a cat want? And what would a technologically advanced lizard person and a cat even have to talk about?

Turns out, quite a bit.

Cyan talking to the cats started out as a fun quirk, but has now fed into one of the pivotal aspects of world building for this series. It’s informed not just the direction the story is heading, but also where it’s coming from. I’ll be unveiling this as the series goes on, but there is a particular family of cats that will be figuring prominently in this all—starting with Marq’s pet, Meredith.

I’ve hinted in the series that something bad happened on Vega that drove the Vegans from their homeworld, but not what. After listening to Cyan talk to Freddie (the marmalade tabby from Export Duty) in my head, and now Meredith, from my Pets in Space® piece… wow, I’ve learned a lot about this universe. And I’ve never been more excited to see where the stories are about to go and how Meredith’s very special kittens figure into the shenanigans (because there will be shenanigans). I hope you’ll come along for the ride!

Grab your copy of Pets in Space® 4 today! For a limited time, Pets in Space® 4 brings together today’s leading Science Fiction Romance authors to help, a non-profit charity that helps our service veterans and first responders.

Cassandra Chandler uses her vivid imagination to make the world more interesting, spawning the ideas she turns into her whimsical Science Fiction romcoms and darkly evocative Paranormal and Urban Fantasy Romances.

Excerpt from IMPORT QUARANTINE in Pets in Space® 4 anthology:

She grabbed her phone from her bedside table and ran to the door, stepping up on her tiptoes so she could see through the eyehole. The motion sensor light had tripped, and through the fish-eye lens, he looked…

Pretty cute, actually.

He had greenish-blue eyes, sandy brown hair—shorter on the sides than on the top—and a strong jaw and nose. Nice lips. Really nice lips. His arms were braced on either side of the doorframe and his shoulders were broad enough that he looked totally capable of knocking down her door.

“Wow, he is buff,” Caitlin whispered.

He lifted his fist and hammered on the door again, hard enough to make the pictures on the walls shake. She yelped and jerked back.

“Caitlin O’Rourke!”

“I’m here,” she yelled. “You can stop knocking.”

His tone hadn’t lost any of its urgency when he said, “I need your help.”

“I’m not a doctor.”

He went quiet.

She was about to look through the eyehole again when he said, “Brigid told me you were.”

“Brigid,” Caitlin murmured. “Of course.”

Brigid, the quieter twin who somehow lived the more interesting life. Brigid, surrounded by celebrities that hired her to cook for them. Brigid, the valedictorian, who could do no wrong in their parents’ eyes.

“I’m a veterinarian,” Caitlin said.

“A what?”

“An animal doctor.” Caitlin raised her voice so he could hear her clearly.

“That’s what I need. Please, my cat needs help.”

Military Honors for Heroes

I had seen military honors on television shows, but had never experienced it in real life until my dad, a veteran of WWII and Korea, passed away last year.

While military honors are mandated by law, I know the men who served with my dad (and my dad while he still lived) consider it a privilege to be in the honor guard for a comrades in arms.

I don’t think any television show or movie can capture the poignancy of the real deal. The haunting effect of the bugler and then the echo as another distant bugler echoes “Taps.”

I could feel my dad saying farewell for now to his buddies. And we were so grateful to the younger soldiers who also gave up time on a Saturday morning to honor my dad. I could feel their deep respect for what they were doing and for the man they were doing it for.

I wanted to share this clip because it is the essence of why we wanted a charity that helps veterans for Pets in Space. It was our privilege to work with Hero Dogs last year, and it is an even greater privilege to be able to work with them again this year with Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2.

We are so grateful for our veterans, for all the heroes who stand in harm’s way to protect us, to protect our freedom.

Pauline Baird Jones Military Honors for Heroes

They called my Dad’s generation the “greatest,” and there is no question they deserve the designation. Boys became men when they were thrown into battle against ruthless enemies. Thankfully there are still heroes, still “greatest” men and women willing to face ruthless enemies in our time.

And thank goodness for organizations like Hero Dogs who are there to help them when they come home suffering from the injuries of war.

Hero Dogs raises and trains service dogs and places them free of charge with US Veterans to improve quality of life and restore independence. 10% of all preorders and the first month’s profits go to

Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2 will release world-wide Oct 10, 2017.

The pets are back! Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2, featuring twelve of today’s leading Science Fiction Romance authors, brings you a dozen original stories written just for you! Join in the fun, from the Dragon Lords of Valdier to a trip aboard award-winning author, Veronica Scott’s Nebula Zephyr to journeying back to Luda where Grim is King, for stories that will take you out of this world! Join New York Times, USA TODAY, and Award-winning authors S.E. Smith, M.K. Eidem, Susan Grant, Michelle Howard, Cara Bristol, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Laurie A. Green, Sabine Priestley, Jessica E. Subject, Carol Van Natta, and Alexis Glynn Latner as they share stories and help out, a charity that supports our veterans!

Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2 will release world-wide Oct 10, 2017.

Pauline Baird Jones never liked reality, so she writes books. She likes to wander among the genres, rampaging like Godzilla, because she does love peril mixed in her romance.

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