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Carrol Fix

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MISHKA: Book One of The Quadrate Mind (Hard Cover)
by Carrol Fix   

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Books by Carrol Fix
· Sunshine & Shadow: Memories From A Long Life
· MISHKA: Book One of The Quadrate Mind (Paperback)
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Science Fiction

Publisher:  iUniverse ISBN-10:  0595671055 Type: 


Copyright:  April, 2005

Galactic Union war fleets are at the brink of mutiny, battling for control of the Mishka and the secret they guard—a secret that could mean destruction, or salvation, for all civilization. Tiny and gentle, the Mishka welcome Ambassador Allyah Ahern into their culture and their hearts. Their secret pulls her deeply into a mystery where only the Prince, the Guardian, the Mystic and the Integrator can save the Mishka and the Galactic Union. Satisfying from beginning to end, MISHKA is a suspenseful science fiction adventure novel filled with captivating depth and surprising insights.

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MISHKA : Book One of The Quadrate Mind : Author - Carrol Fix

Having covered half of the 300 meters to the building mounds, Allyah suddenly saw a group of about a dozen small humanoids approaching. Startled, she stood upright, waiting as they neared. The Mishka were waist high to Allyah and covered with short, softly curling, white hair that blended into the landscape so well she hadn't seen them until they were only a few meters away. With gentle, delicate hands and no words, they took the drag ropes courteously from her and quickly slid the heavy burden across the ice, some of them pulling and some pushing. Much to her relief, they appeared eager to help move the burden to the shoodah, and, with only a little trepidation, Allyah hurried to catch up. She saw no hint of the hostility McKinley had suggested; instead she felt a sense of comfort and safety.

The ice ended sharply at the edge of a beautiful stone stairway leading down to the wide metal doors of a stone building set deep into the frozen surface, its rounded roof covered with layers of ice and snow.

At the top of the stairs, they stopped to unlash the ropes around her possessions and, with sometimes two or three to a box, carried the load inside. The steps, narrow with short risers, built for small legs and feet, were awkward for Allyah as she carefully descended and entered through the open doorway after the Mishka.

She found a shallow storage area stacked on either side with Galactic Union labeled supplies, and, ahead of her, a set of doors made of a smooth, dark wood that could never have grown on this planet opened into a huge room with separate living areas, divided by head high partitions covered with rich fabrics. To Allyah's amazement, the room held all the comforts of a modern home. On the right was a kitchen, complete with autochef, recycler, and the latest model of the Universal Garment Creator. To her left was a laboratory, well stocked with electronic equipment, where McKinley must have done the analysis for his reports. Walking down the wide, empty aisle in the center of the room, she found a comfortable lounge area on the right with a deep cushioned sofa, a bar, and an entertainment center; to the left, an office with desk and communicator; a sleeping area in the far left corner; and the walls of a refresher unit in the corner on the right. There were no windows, but each area was lit by ordinary glowtubes suspended on long cables from the high ceiling. Allyah's environmental suit registered a comfortable external temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

She pulled off her headpiece, shaking loose her short, brown curls, and turned toward the Mishka. They all stood near the closed front door by her belongings, their huge, round eyes watching her expectantly. Three of them stepped forward as she came back, and Allyah studied the tiny faces turned up to her. Surrounded by thick white lashes, their eyes were disproportionately large and very blue, above a delicate, almost human nose and pale lips. The hair covering their faces was short, almost like fuzz, gradually lengthening and curling over the tops of round, furry ears perched attentively atop each side of the head.

In a soft, breathy voice, the center female said in perfect Union Standard, "Welcome to this planet," and, placing a small hand on her chest, added, "This Mishka gives greetings."

All of them bobbed down and up at the knees in a surprisingly graceful half squat.

McKinley's notes indicated they were unable to understand most instructions and had difficulty with communicating, but Allyah had no trouble understanding the little Mishka. Recovering from her surprise, she replied, also in Standard, giving the canned greeting of the First Contact Ambassador. She spoke with heartfelt sincerity, realizing this was the first time . . . ever . . . that she had uttered these words on an alien world.

"I bid you greetings, on behalf of the Galactic Union and the Galactic Union Director, Robert Atherton. We thank you for the honor of allowing us to visit your world and to learn about your people and your culture. It is our hope that you will grant us the privilege of introducing you to our people and our way of life, in order that we may move into the future in peace and harmony with one another." She bent her knees in the way she had seen them do.

There was a rustle of movement among them that could have been alarm. Fearing she had misinterpreted the gesture, Allyah spoke quickly, raising her hand beseechingly.

"Please, forgive me if I have given any offense. It is not my intention to offer insult, only to learn from you. Please inform me if I ever do or say anything inappropriate."

The middle Mishka said, "Nothing was done wrong. This," and she repeated the bob, "is a sign of respect from one lower to another higher. The Mishka were not expecting it from this McKinley."

Were they unable to distinguish one human from another? Allyah wondered. Hoping she was interpreting the Mishka's response correctly, Allyah bobbed again.

"I am here to learn from you and I greet you as a student to a teacher." The Mishka visibly relaxed, and she saw a few of them smile. "I am not McKinley," she said, placing a hand on her own chest, "I am Ambassador Allyah Ahern."

The female struggled to understand, "If you are not McKinley, what is your purpose?" She faltered somewhat on the pronouns, her forehead creasing in a very humanlike frown. Confused, Allyah tried to think. The Mishka must believe she and McKinley were the same in some way, not just of the same species, but that they had the same reasons for being on the planet. That was true, up to a point, but somehow she had to show them she was different from him and wanted to be treated as an individual, not just another version of him.

"Ambassador is what I do," she said, carefully. "Allyah is my individual name and Ahern is my family name."

With a worried glance at the male and female on either side of her, who looked decidedly uncomfortable, the female asked, "Then you are Ambassador?"

"That's right."

This time signs of relief were apparent throughout the group. "Good," the female said and, as though finally satisfied about something, motioned to the group of Mishka standing behind her. They immediately parted, walking around Allyah and down the long central aisle to pass through another dark doorway at the end of the room, the last one closing the door gently behind them.

As they filtered past, Allyah was struck by how similar they were to one another and that she could not have told them apart. Only the first female and her two companions remained.

"This Mishka," she said, tiny hand on her chest, "and that Mishka," pointing to the female on her left, "and that Mishka," indicating the male, "will be here to help."

Feeling as though she had missed something very important, Allyah hesitantly smiled at the trio. "Thank you. I will be grateful for any assistance you can give me." She wasn't sure just what form that help would take, but at least it appeared they weren't yet throwing her out.

Glancing at the gear stacked on the floor, the female said, "That McKinley kept items in this room. Is it appropriate for this Ambassador also to keep items here?"

With relief she realized they intended to let her remain for quite a while. "Yes," she said, knowing McKinley would not be coming back. "I think this would be an ideal place for my things."

As Allyah moved to begin unpacking, the female asked in her soft voice, "Please, is this Ambassador male or female?"

Surprised and somewhat annoyed with herself for not clarifying that in the beginning, she also wondered why McKinley hadn't taught them the outward differences in human sexes. What additional information had he neglected to convey? The Mishka, clothed only in the covering of their own thick body hair, obviously shared humanoid genders.

"I am female," she said with a smile, vowing to make this the first of many lessons on humans. The female also smiled, sharing what seemed to be a significant glance with her companions, as though confirming her own deduction.


Shock froze Allyah as everything suddenly fell into place. She remembered what the first female had told her about McKinley saying they should serve and obey. No wonder the Mishka didn't trust her—they had been bullied and abused by a monster. These quiet, gentle people had been saddled with a dictator for two long years. She understood why they knew where everything should go; they had been his servants, fetching and carrying at his every whim. She saw his foul behavior on the lander for what it was—McKinley's rage at being dispossessed, a tyrant knocked off his throne.

Professional Reviews

Daniel Jolley - Amazon
So many science fiction novels merely retread the paths we have trod before, introducing us to alien species we have already met, albeit in different guises, so the introduction of an original, wholly enchanting new race is something to be celebrated. The Mishka are such a race. Carrol Fix has given us a novel that truly transports its readers to a new world, and the imaginative journey proves to be as emotionally engaging as it is fascinating. In the process, Fix shows us the best and worst of humankind, as man alone – or at least a cruel, blindly ambitious subset of man – could dare to exploit such a precious alien race for his own selfish purposes, and only the caring and sensitive better half of man can stand up for the innocent against such unadulterated evil.

Mishka is an ice world whose mysterious inhabitants live beneath the ground. The Mishka themselves are somewhat small creatures covered in white fur – I tend to see them in my mind's eye as close cousins to that little Snuggles bear. All the Galactic Union knows about the alien world comes from the information supplied by a surly agent named McKinley, but now Ambassador Allyah Ahern has come to hopefully establish diplomatic relations with the Mishka. This being her first real diplomatic assignment, Ahern is both excited and nervous when she arrives – but the Mishka put her at ease once they realize that she is not "this McKinley." In fact, she seems to share some kind of special connection with the Mishka, a kind of nonverbal communication that allows them to exchange feelings and emotions. Three of the little guys befriend her and see to her needs until such time as she is able to meet with the local leader – who, seeing her potential, invites her to actually become Mishka. She is unable to communicate these events with her home base, but Allyah jumps at this chance to know the Mishka better.

Meanwhile, the First Premier of the Galactic Union is plotting to oust the Director and assume power for himself – and Mishka, specifically the great secret that McKinley discovered during his stay there – assumes a primary place in his plans. The Mishka have a power that McKinley could not learn but plans to steal by force. All of these political machinations are interesting and well-told, but I was always anxious to get through them so that I could return to Mishka – that is where the magic of this novel truly lies: the race's customs and rituals, their profound means of communicating, their mastery of mysterious forces, and – most of all – their remarkably benign, peaceful, spiritual way of life. When the plans hatched by the First Premier and McKinley put these special creatures in danger, you feel as if you are somehow one with the Mishka in spirit, having learned the basics of their ways through the eyes and feelings of Allyah.

Fix has really done an incredible job of introducing us to the Mishka. Rather than just describing them (which would not have begun to convey the essence of their existence), she allows us to get a sense of their nature and their unique gifts by way of experience; in a sense, we – like Allyah – come to see them as they are by learning to become Mishka ourselves to some degree. We share their emotions, especially when they are frightened, we share their joy on happy occasions, and we share their wonderful communion with one another; it would be hard indeed to simply break off our connection with them after finishing this one novel – thank goodness this is only the first book of a series featuring these marvelous creatures. I for one cannot wait to be reunited with the Mishka and to learn more about the Quadrate Mind.

Daniel Jolley

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