Welcome to the Zenn Scarlett blog tour stop on Lovey Dovey Books! Please enjoy Christian Schoon's awesome post on Zenn and her dream to become an exoveterinarian. Learn what's involved in this out-of-this world job and why Zenn wants to get up close and personal with alien animals!!
Zenn grew up behind the mud-brick walls of the Ciscan Cloister Exovet Clinic and Training Facility. So, from the very start, she was surrounded by alien animals. Mostly big, often dangerous but always intriguing. She followed her mother, Dr. Mai Scarlett and her Uncle Otha, the clinic’s medical director, as they made the rounds of the clinic’s exotic patients, treating their illnesses, healing their injuries, fulfilling their varied dietary needs and generally caring for them. So, for Zenn, alien animals weren’t at all “alien,” they were familiar friends and acquaintances, with distinct personalities and fascinating behaviors. Like 200-foot-long Tanduan swamp sloos that use their sticky, 30-foot tongues to lick giant insectoid prey out of their subterranean hives. Or Zenn’s little pet rikkaset, Katie, who is able to communicate with Zenn using sign language, and whose refractive fur allows her to “blend” with her environment and vanish from sight.
And, while Zenn occasionally had visitors her own age from the nearby town of Arsia, she basically grew up as the only child within the sprawling cloister compound. This too caused her attention to be focused on the animals at the clinic, as opposed to an “average” child’s interaction with peers.
From an early age, Zenn was able to appreciate that her mother and uncle held the clinic’s animals in high regard. She also directly witnessed the process of how Mai and Otha brought sick animals to a healthy state, how they reduced or prevented an animal’s suffering, and how these animals then responded to the human beings who were so intent on healing them. For a young girl in this situation, it was a natural progression for her to go from affection for these animals to a desire to help them the way she’d seen her mother and uncle do. In fact, from the time that Zenn was old enough to understand that there was such a thing as an exoveterinarian, she was determined that one day she would become an exovet like her mother. This determination went beyond being a dream for Zenn, and became a firm expectation.
Added to this is the attitude of others toward the exoveterinarian profession in general. While it’s true that most Martian colonists, and almost all Earthers, are deeply suspicious of alien races and their animals, even the most xenophobic person understood that an exovet endured rigorous medical training to reach the status of a fully licensed exoveterinarian master, and in most people, this engendered at least a grudging level of respect. Even a young girl would appreciate the sort of status accorded to an exovet.
As for what’s involved in exovet training at the Ciscan Cloister, it’s somewhat similar to schooling that the more familiar Earther-animal veterinarian schools provide, but with a few… interesting additions. Besides the standard core-curriculum of courses in alien animal biology, anatomy, neuroscience, pathology, clinical examinations, anesthesia, surgery and other requirements, Zenn’s exovet training would involve in-depth courses in the planetary ecologies on the dozen inhabited worlds of the Local Systems Accord. Understanding the diverse environments in which various alien animals evolved is a vital part of any exovet’s schooling and provides the foundation for any further specialization in treating the life forms of a specific planet. Then there are the species-specific tools of the exovet profession. Like the in-soma pod, for instance. Roughly seven feet long and three feet wide, and streamlined for ease of passage, the in-soma pod is a diagnostic vehicle that the exovet pilots through the interiors of the largest alien species. These species would include the swamp sloo mentioned above, and other mega-fauna such as the 700-foot-long Lithohippus indra, or Stonehorse. Once inside the animal’s digestive tract or certain fluid-filled body cavities or ventricles, the exovet is then able to deploy the in-soma pod’s various outboard manipulator arms and other tools to diagnose ailments or injuries and to conduct therapeutic procedures, all without the need for surgical interventions conducted from the outside.
So, as noted above, that Zenn would commence her novice year of exovet training at the Ciscan Cloister was, for her, predetermined. There was simply no other path she could envision her life taking. The fact that her mother Mai had been lost during an in-soma pod insertion into an ailing indra when Zenn was young only reinforced this passion, and in fact most likely contributed to Zenn’s near obsession with ascending to the position of a full master exovet.
Of course, the initial year of exovet training is considered the most difficult of all the years that follow. As Zenn begins her own novice year of school at the cloister, it’s safe to say she’ll find herself tested in ways she cannot even begin to imagine.
About the author:
Born in the American Midwest, Christian started his writing career in earnest as an in-house writer at the Walt Disney Company in Burbank, California. He then became a freelance writer working for various film, home video and animation studios in Los Angeles. After moving from LA to a farmstead in Iowa several years ago, he continues to freelance and also now helps re-hab wildlife and foster abused/neglected horses. He acquired his amateur-vet knowledge, and much of his inspiration for the Zenn Scarlett series of novels, as he learned about - and received an education from - these remarkable animals and the awesome veterinarians who care so deeply for them. (Website)
About Zenn Scarlett:
When you're studying to be exoveterinarian specializing in exotic, alien life forms, school... is a different kind of animal.
Zenn Scarlett is a resourceful, determined 17-year-old girl working hard to make it through her novice year of exovet training. That means she's learning to care for alien creatures that are mostly large, generally dangerous and profoundly fascinating. Zenn’s all-important end-of-term tests at the Ciscan Cloister Exovet Clinic on Mars are coming up, and, she's feeling confident of acing the exams. But when a series of inexplicable animal escapes and other disturbing events hit the school, Zenn finds herself being blamed for the problems. As if this isn't enough to deal with, her absent father has abruptly stopped communicating with her; Liam Tucker, a local towner boy, is acting unusually, annoyingly friendly; and, strangest of all: Zenn is worried she's started sharing the thoughts of the creatures around her. Which is impossible, of course. Nonetheless, she can't deny what she's feeling.
Now, with the help of Liam and Hamish, an eight-foot sentient insectoid also training at the clinic, Zenn must learn what's happened to her father, solve the mystery of who, if anyone, is sabotaging the cloister, and determine if she's actually sensing the consciousness of her alien patients... or just losing her mind. All without failing her novice year....
May 7, 2013, Strange Chemistry Books
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