A corporation, Alchemistica, sends a team to Gondwana, a planet covered with a thick jungle. The planet is perfect for pharmaceutical prospecting, full of exotic vegetation loaded with even stranger chemical compounds that may make Alchemistica rich or kill the prospecting team or both, it is all the same to their corporate bosses. The newest member of the team, biochemist Lani Callis, wants to impress the team's veterans on her first prospecting trip, but she must overcome her own limitations to do so. Alchemistica hired Lani on the strength of how well she did on a holographic video game, not on how well she relates to others. She must learn to communicate to survive, for, as the human team studies Gondwana, it becomes apparent that the planet is also studying humans and the two do not speak the same language.
Authors note: Message from Gondwana is a short novella set in the same universe as the Eichi Testaments, which although well in the future, still bears all too many similarities to the current humanverse, especially the pursuit of profit. Humanity has spread across a hundred worlds, united by the Second Galactic Empire, an authoritarian Church Universal, and the corporations or kartels. Message from Gondwana takes place some seventy years before the main story arc of the Eichi Testament series. Although categorized as hard science fiction, the science in Gondwana is less about physics and rayguns than it is biology and genetics—although a laser karbine does come in handy from time to time. The novella also shows the writing style of David Wiley, including a flawed, but strong female protagonist, plenty of sharp dialog, some romance (how can being stuck on a planet of lush jungles not be romantic—unless it is because that jungle wants to kill you?), and characters getting themselves out of sticky situations (usually) by their wits and not just with a bigger gun or through newly-discovered superpowers. Enjoy!