This 35K word novella was originally written to be my story in the Pets in Space 6 anthology (which is no longer available).
Some years the Pets story idea would come first for me and other years the pet concept was first and drove the story. This year they arrived in my head together, which made things easy.
I LOVE “Groundhog Day” style stories, and of course the original movie with Bill Murray. It finally dawned on me in 2021 that I could and should write one myself if I enjoyed them so much. So I did! I had to do more advance planning for this one than I usually do for a book. I like to let the plot unspool for me as I write (no outlining) but in a story where the whole point was the day repeating, I had to ensure I had certain story anchors in that first time through the day for the action to hinge on and a way forward for my heroine Raelyn to be able to figure out how to solve the problems. I had a lot of fun coming up with what would happen on the repeating day as she works on various ideas, some of which do help her and others which go seriously awry.
Even I got to loathe the sound of her alarm clock as she wakes up each time!
My family has always enjoyed turtles as pets. We’ve had a lot of the common green turtles and many red-eared sliders over the years. My brother is especially keen on turtles and not only has several as pets, he also does rescues and has hand raised baby snapping turtles until they were old enough to be re-released into the wild. I decided to make my space pet a turtle this year in honor of my brother, who is one of my most devoted readers and fans.
Eyn is an alien turtle of course and he can and does leave his shell most days. I always felt a bit sorry for terrestrial turtles that they had to carry their shell around all the time and couldn’t go out unencumbered at least occasionally so Eyn has that freedom. He returns to his shell nightly and can close it up tight, and while he sleeps the biological mechanisms in the shell structure replenish his energy. He belongs to Raelyn, my heroine, who is a senior stewardess on board the Nebula Zephyr interstellar luxury cruise liner and is also a symbol of her home world and its belief system.
He can also function as a piece of living jewelry for her. Eyn not only sets off the events in the story, he’s also quite involved in dealing with bad guys along the way to the plot’s resolution and the Happy Ever After ending. It was a fun challenge to me each year to ensure the pet was more than just a pretty set decoration but was also important to the events. I think Eyn manages all of that quite nicely although he’ll probably need a nap in that shell by the end of the novella.
Did I mention he has three eyes?
I put a big Easter egg into the book when it comes to the alien object which Raelyn buys as the book opens. Anyone who has read my novel Lady of the Star Wind will know immediately what she’s got in her hand and the possible dangers involved. That book isn’t connected to this novella, however, and you don’t have to have read Lady before this one. It was just a cool nod from me to a detail in an older book. One of the underlying worldbuilding assumptions in my Sectors universe is that it’s all connected and also that there were alien civilizations in space for millenia before we got there.
Of course we see other members of the Nebula Zephyr’s crew from past stories in this book but this can be read as a standalone.
STAR CRUISE TIME LOOP by Veronica Scott
Raelyn Cantorini, senior stewardess on the interstellar cruise ship Nebula Zephyr thinks the alien artifact she bought on the last planet the ship visited was just a pretty glass orb…until her pet Eyn knocked the ornament off a table, shattering it and sending her into an infinitely repeating time loop. Stuck reliving the same day over and over, Raelyn has only hours to try to save the ship and everyone on board from dying in a terrible catastrophe.
As she tries to solve the mystery of what happens to the ship right before midnight each time the day repeats, Raelyn meets Kev Gordonn, the former Special Forces soldier turned actor and finds herself falling in love with him. Each time the day repeats, she learns more about him while he has no memory of her.
Can she persuade him they’ve met before? Will he trust her enough to help stop the Nebula Zephyr’s destruction? And if they do save the ship, will that reset time for Raelyn? This is a lightly edited rerelease of my novella from the Pets in Space 6 anthology. No new material has been added.