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Fiction Disabilities & Special Needs

Season One: Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space!

by (author) Cait Gordon

Renaissance Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2023
Disabilities & Special Needs, Space Opera, Own Voices
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2023
    List Price

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In a galactic network known as the Keangal, where space is accessible...

Lieutenant Eileen Iris and the command crew of the S.S. SpoonZ haven't a clue what it means to be disabled. That's not a metaphor--no one they know has ever applied that term to living beings. So, when a startled intergalactic janitor calls them disabled but is 'ported away a bit too soon, they realize they might never get the answer to that particular question. Unphased, duties resume as Lieutenant Iris tries to appease her overprotective guidebot Clarence; Security Chief Lartha and her new sentient prosthetic legs offer kick-ass protection; Mr. Herbert's inventiveness is a treasured godsend (though he's not quite grasped how to flirt); Commander Davan's good humour comes through whether trumpeted, texted, or signed; and Captain Warq's genteel but firm leadership keeps everyone at their best.

Until on one mission, where they tear through space. Just a little bit.

About the author

Cait (pronounced like 'cat') Gordon is a Canadian disability advocate who writes speculative fiction that celebrates the reality of diversity. Originally from Verdun, Québec, Cait worked for over two decades as a technical writer, then channelled her love for words into storytelling.

She is the author of the humorous space adventures Life in the 'Cosm and The Stealth Lovers.

Her short stories appear in Alice Unbound Beyond Wonderland (Ed. Colleen Anderson), We Shall Be Monsters (Ed. Derek Newman-Stille), and Stargazers: Microtales from the Cosmos (Eds. Jarvey and MacNab). The Hilltop Gathering from We Shall Be Monsters features a disabled protagonist and was discussed at a symposium about Frankenstein at Carleton University.

In 2016, Cait founded the Spoonie Authors Network to connect with writers in the disability community. Her desire to find better disabled and autistic representation in fiction prompted Cait to co-edit Nothing Without Us with Talia C. Johnson. The multi-genre anthology features authors and protagonists who are disabled, Deaf, neurodiverse, and/or who manage mental illness.

Nothing Without Us was included in the syllabus of a disability studies course at Trent University and earned a 2020 Prix Aurora Award nomination.

Even though her own works deal with issues about identity and human/alien/monster rights, Cait has always felt humour is an important part of world-building. "Without humour, it doesn't feel realistic."

Cait is also a musician and singer who has been living in Ottawa with her guitarist husband, author Bruce Gordon, since 1998. She's friendly, somewhat feisty, and really loves cake.

Cait Gordon's profile page

Excerpt: Season One: Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space! (by (author) Cait Gordon)

"Please! I'd just been dusting. I didn't know the contraption was alive!" This is what the startled intruder had said in his own tongue, but nobody in the command crew actually understood any of the words.

Captain Warq spotted Lieutenant Iris and motioned her toward him. She rushed over with Clarence jetting after her.


The captain wore his speech interpretation visor but seemed at a loss. He stood tall in his pristine dark grey and gold uniform, his sea-foam-green skin still glowing after his pre-shift workout. Warq scratched the back of his silvery-white crew cut, which was his "tell" when he was in deep thought. He abruptly stopped the motion to sign:

"Lieutenant, I don't understand this person's spoken language, and he doesn't know IGSL. Everything he says is coming up as gobbledygook on my visor. This looks like a job for our highly-skilled communications officer." He signed the compliment with a kind smile.

Lartha, standing with two other security guards, triple-tapped a sensor on her chair, which transformed the mobility device into a massive tubular weapon. She took it into her arms like it weighed a feather and pointed it right at Wendell.

"Don't shoot! I'm a janitor from NASA. I swear, I didn't know the machine worked! They told me to clean the laboratory. I was only doing my job!"

"No, I can't make that out," said Iris. "Captain, might I recommend that Lieutenant Commander Lartha and her team refrain from blasting this person into microns? Just for a sec?"

"I agree. Security, no disintegrations." Warq couldn't help but hold back a grin at Lartha's reaction. He knew a groan when he saw one.

"Yes, Captain," said the security chief, not moving from her position.

Iris dashed to her workstation. "Let me access my language archive. Maybe we'll find a match."

Davan held a scanning device and waved it over the intruder.

"Thoughts, Commander?" signed the captain.

The science officer and second-in-command switched off the device. "No internally concealed organic weapons. Vital signs indicate this being is frightened and not a threat. Yet, I'm not sure what the object is that he's clutching onto so dearly."

"Here it is!" shouted Iris. "Goodness, I had to dive deep for this one. There had been an away mission that went awry about two hundred years ago. An anomaly that sucked their ship to an unknown galaxy but thankfully brought them back to ours again. Funny, they don't say where the anomaly was located; the information seems to be redacted. Anyway, the language is Earthan. Or, more accurately, one specific Earthan tongue. Setting audio-visual translation now."

The captain walked over to Wendell and signed, "Earthan Being, how did you come to be on this ship?"

Wendell beamed with relief. "You speak English! Thank goodness."

"English," said Iris. "I'll make a note of that. Guessing he's from the land of Eng?"

"I'm so glad you can finally hear me," said Wendell to the captain.

Captain Warq paused. "I'm sorry? Hear you? I'm afraid you're mistaken. But I do comprehend your speech now. Are the people of the Nasa continent not familiar with Intragalactic Sign Language? Perhaps sign a little for us, so we can detect if we have your dialect in our system."

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