Sofia Cancino is tired of her mundane life, her artificial environment and her large, boisterous family descending every holiday season. She's promised herself this year will be different and books a stay on the exclusive—and expensive--holiday-themed resort, Yule Planet. She looks forward to being pampered while reconnecting with Old Earth traditions steeped in the magic and mysticism of nature. Everything will be perfect and she'll leave as a more authentic human, better connected to her roots.
Naturally, things go horribly wrong. Sofia's landing pod goes off course and instead of stepping out on the landing pad at the resort, she finds herself in the snow-swept perpetual winter of the planet's hinterlands. If that wasn't bad enough, she's "rescued" by a band of criminals on work release who run deliveries to the resort from far-flung shuttle delivery sites. They refuse to take her, a paying customer, to the resort and insist on dragging her along on their parcel run. Riding giant monsters. In frigid weather. Not to mention, Marta, who handles the monsters, obviously hates her.
If Sofia survives her vacation, she's definitely yelling at someone's supervisor until she gets a refund.
The escape pods fall to Earth one by one over the course of weeks, a mysterious and diverse alien diaspora, each pod containing a different alien race and leaving the world's governments scrambling to deal with this unexpected immigration. Serge Kosygin, still grieving and isolated after his husband's death, watches events with gray disinterest until one day he witnesses a pod crash for himself while driving home. Two of the alien visitors have died, but one survives, badly injured, and Serge is determined that if this alien is also going to die, it won't be under the harsh lights of a government facility.
Devastated by the loss of his life mates in their desperate effort to reach safety, the knowledge that Een is the last Aalana in this sector of the galaxy only compounds his sorrow. He wakes in an alien dwelling under the care of one of the native dominant builder species, a being who appears to share nothing with Een besides a bipedal structure. Slowly, with the help of his patient and kind host, he discovers they are more similar than he imagined as they share harmonies and his host assists him with language acquisition.
Their tentative first contact soon evolves into a deepening friendship, a balm for two grief-weary souls. They'll need each other and their growing bond for the troubles lurking just ahead.
(Edited and expanded re-release, originally Serge & Een.)
In a four-gendered world where correct gender identity is law, Venk struggles with his inability to choose one sexual orientation over another. His body has matured, but he still shows the multi-colored crest of a juvenile, someone who has not yet presented proper orientation.
With his family losing patience and others beginning to whisper, Venk must find a way to change his crest or be labeled an aberration. But the only choice he sees is a dishonest one.