Book Cover for 'Planet Woman' a Novel by Judith Rook (1)

Lewis Brock, First Peer of the ancient Haute-Forêt family on the planet of First Home has been used to having his own way, so far as women are concerned. But when he is sent as envoy to a reclusive planet called Circe he meets a woman who will not let him have his own way.

Tethyn Claibrook-Merjolaine lives her own vital and useful life on the planet she loves and plans never to leave, but although she clings fiercely to her independence, the appearance of the intriguing and commanding man disturbs her happy and comfortable existence.

Circe is one of the sentient planets in the system; Circe can think, and the humans who live with her are slightly different from the humans on other planets. However, they keep themselves to themselves and do not make contact with non-thinking planets.

But now, Circe is reaching out to First Home, the strongest world of the solar system, because she has sensed a great danger approaching from far off in the galaxy, and she is making plans to deal with it.

Tethyn must escort the envoy and his entourage on an expedition to her hidden family home where he will encounter the planet herself, see some of her powers and learn about her past. The envoy is deeply affected by the experience.

During the excursion Tethyn admits to herself that she has come to love Lewis although in return she cannot hope for anything other than his desire. But desire is not enough, and when Lewis wants to take Tethyn to First Home, she refuses him.

Then personal danger for Lewis arrives. An enemy has followed him from First Home, and lives begin to alter.

What makes your world special or different?

Over thousands of years, the planet Circe has become self-aware, and now acts with understanding and intention.

She is an entirely ethical personality, knowing the separation of good from evil and realizing that darkness must be resisted and, if possible, destroyed.

How does your main character fit into this world?

When the first few human colonising families settled on Circe, one thousand years before, they became the Foundation Houses.  Tethyn, my main character, is the youngest female descendant of the Claibrook-Merjolaine Foundation House.

Is there a system of magic? If so, please tell us about it. Or tell us about the technology of your world.

The magical element lies in how the planet Circe operates, and in how she interacts with the humans who live with her.  She produces small mineral-based particles, called parthobots [a reference to a type of a-sexual reproduction, combined with ‘robot’—a worker] which can form themselves into whatever the human mind can devise.

She reproduces in the form of organisms which appear on her surface, inert and only potentially living, until they are found and released by the few special humans who have become ‘locators’.  Tethyn, my main character, is a locator.

Circe produces a special vegetation which, harvested and processed by humans, is used to construct the material needs of her human population, apart from food, which is grown in normal agricultural conditions.

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By contrast, the humans who live on First Home (which is not a sentient planet) are technological giants and have developed a new type of time drive which moves beyond Einsteinian principles of relativity (as in ‘Star Trek’)  and takes their space ships easily across the vast distances of the cosmos.

A major point of conflict in the novel is the necessity for Circe and First Home to work cooperatively.

What are the people who inhabit your world like? Are they based on real-world cultures? What systems of government are in place?

The Circeans are completely human, with human desires, needs and motivations.  However, like Circe, most of them are strongly ethical.  They are very much aware of the fact that their planet can think and can actively affect their lives, and they live by a ‘Rule’—a code which regulates how they live with a sentient planet.  The Rule will be understandable to any person who is concerned about sustainable living on Earth.

The system of government is provided by the Planetary Council, a gathering of people attached to Foundation Houses, who are in contact with Circe herself.

The humans who live on First Home are regulated by the power of the First Families—the humans who first colonised the non-sentient planet five hundred years before humans arrived on Circe.  The First Families provide the government, but in a manner that is acceptable to the other humans who live on First Home.

The First Homers are more like Earth humans, ego-driven, discoverers, innovators.  They represent the opposite pole to the Circeans, but they realise that Circe produces an unusually successful human genome, and they believe that Circe produces materials that would be of great benefit to First Home.

Man of Two Planets (1)

[For a more comprehensive description of the relationship between the two planets, please refer to the Prologue to the novel “Man of Two Planets”, which is included at the end of this Questionnaire.]

Is there anything special, precious, or unique about your world’s geography or its place in the universe?

The only unusual aspect is that the same [un-named] solar system contains both sentient and non-sentient planets.

What are the two most interesting facts or features of your world?

One interesting fact about Circe is that the land which she originally gave to the first colonisers, has gradually developed to hold a special building for each Foundation House. These buildings and land (known on Circe as ‘allocations’) are now hidden, and most people would not be able to find them.

However, the special buildings are fantastical, hold a clear and unambiguous record of every detail of Circe’s history, and are used to regulate current human behavior.

Circe has contact with her humans on different levels. There are certain very special people who are in direct contact with her, but these very few humans are not involved in the everyday life of the planet; they are the caretakers of the allocations and are responsible for accessing the historical records.

Circe can send the minds of these people out into the distant cosmos, and it is through them that she has become aware of an approaching darkness.

This is perhaps the most extreme example of the symbiosis existing between Circe and her humans.

How does the landscape or geography of your world affect the plot or theme of the story?

Circe has three very large continents and a comparatively small human population which lives on only one of the continents.  The uninhabited continents produce the special vegetation which Circe provides in lieu of mineral mining.  Some people on First Home look on Circe as a future possibility for Lebensraum and as a source for unusual, but very desirable, resources.

What is one last thing you would like readers to know all about your world?

In “Planet Woman”, Circe is shown as a fundamentally benign world, one that can and has made mistakes in the past, but who will always support her humans and protect them from danger.

This does not change in the second book of the series, “Man of Two Planets”, but the fact that Circe also has a dark side emerges more clearly.   Although she has never developed an aggressive, militaristic, human culture, that possibility lives deep within the planet’s psyche, and from time to time it comes to the surface in individual human beings.  A pleasant and appealing young man is one such person, and in this development of the story, Circe sends him to First Home to learn how to become a warrior.

The two planets begin to draw more closely together.  The well-disposed characters from First Home learn a lot more about Circe, and the villains begin to take a powerful place.

At the end of this second book in the series, Circe finds herself confronting problems she had never anticipated, and as the story continues into a third novel, Circe will need the protection of her humans, just as much as they need hers.

PROLOGUE to Man of Two Planets (Book 2 in the “Circe” Series)

It would be wrong to say that the planet Circe kept herself apart from her fellow worlds, very wrong indeed.  People from the other thinking planets in the solar system came and went.  Lines of trade between the human populations were very well established, and all sorts of cooperation had been going on for hundreds of years.  Circe enjoyed the best of contact and good relations with her sentient neighbours.

What Circe did not have, and did not want, was involvement with unconscious planets like Cortherros and First Home.  Once Circe had repaid the people of First Home for all the assistance she had received during the first colonisation years, she began to withdraw from the larger world, with the full consent of the humans who lived with her.

It wasn’t that she disliked the First Homers.  She simply found contact with them uncomfortable.  First Home humans were not suited to Circean conditions; they were too bound up in self, too ambitious, too energetic and enterprising, and the purple and green planet slowly and carefully separated herself and her people from them.  The very small amount of trade she conducted with her non-sentient neighbours passed through Euridice, who was less sensitive than her sister.

Circe might have done things differently if her humans had wanted other ways, but for the thousand years which had passed since first settlement, the Circeans were more than content with their Circean lives.  Of course, there were always the restless spirits who needed other experiences, other surroundings, and these left their mother planet to settle on the sister worlds.  Reports filtering back showed that none ever relocated to First Home.

Rumours spread about the things which Circe produced for her own use, and periodically the non-mind planets attempted to penetrate her isolation, but always without success.  No one could establish direct communication with her; the links weren’t there, and messages relayed by the other sentient planets received only vague, polite and inconclusive replies.

Then one day Circe sent her own message to First Home, directed through Euridice, and the First Homers nearly fell down from the shock.  But they very quickly recovered and despatched a formal diplomatic mission without delay.

In retrospect, that message came to be seen as the point of paradigm change, not only for Circe and First Home, not only for the other planets of the solar system and the quadrant it belonged to but, as it turned out, probably for the whole galaxy.

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