The Moreva of Astoreth Author: Roxanne Bland Genre: Science Fiction
In the world-building tradition of Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey and Ursula K. LeGuin, The Moreva of Astoreth is a blend of science fiction, romance, and adventure in a unique, richly imagined imperialistic society in which gods and science are indelibly intertwined. It is the story of priestess, scientist, and healer Moreva Tehi, the spoiled, headstrong granddaughter of a powerful goddess who is temporarily exiled from Temple life in her beloved desert home to a volatile far northern corner of the planet for neglecting to perform her sacred duty, only to venture into dangerous realms of banned experimentation, spiritual rebirth, and fervent, forbidden love.
I made my way back through the underbrush. I’d just reached the path when I heard something crashing through the forest. Whatever it was, it was a lot bigger than a mouse. Then the crashing sounds ceased. I stopped and looked around but couldn’t see anything. Curious and uneasy, I stepped onto the packed dirt. I froze. Standing on the path between the village and me was a great, shaggy beast. A curved horn grew out of its snout. It had feet the size of dinner plates ringed by wicked-looking claws. And it was staring at me. It bellowed, stood on its hind legs and then charged. The world seemed to slow to a crawl. I screamed, a long, drawn-out sound, hurled my bag into the underbrush and ran. Even though I had the speed of the Devi, I sensed it gaining on me. I imagined its hot breath on my neck. Unless I did something and fast, I wasn’t going to make it out of the forest alive. Up ahead, I spied a tree that looked sturdy enough to hold me and put on a burst of speed. When I reached it, I leapt into its branches and started climbing. Higher and higher I climbed. When I dared look down the beast was snarling and clawing at the tree trunk as if to tear it apart. I said a prayer to Astoreth. Then it started shaking the tree so hard I nearly lost my grip. Squeezing my eyes shut I screamed again and again and hung on for dear life. Crack! A roar of pain. The shaking stopped. I heard the beast crashing away through the forest. I opened my eyes to see Teger standing about twenty šīzu from my tree, his usual scowl on his face. “Moreva, come down from there!” I shook my head. I watched him move closer. He must have seen the look of terror on my face because his hard expression melted into concern. “Moreva,” he said, his deep, gravelly voice gentle. “Come down, Moreva.” I looked in the direction where the beast had gone. I couldn’t see it, but I knew it was still out there. I shook my head a second time. “It’s not coming back, Moreva. It’s all right to come down now. Besides, I’ve got my rifle so if it does come back, I’ll just shoot it again.” Well, that made sense.
Roxanne Bland grew up in Washington, D.C., where she discovered strange and wonderful new worlds through her local public library and bookstores. These and other life experiences have convinced her that reality is highly overrated. Ms. Bland lives in Rosedale, Maryland with her Great Dane, Daisy Mae.