Margaret Wander Bonanno, writer

"Three science fiction novels about science fiction"

Something old, something new or: Everything old is new again. Ember Days is now available for the first time since 1980, as a Kindle book, with softcover and other venues to follow:

AILURANTH: a novel in 12 chapters

World War I looms on the horizon. Beneath the airship- and flying-bicycle-filled skies of London, Peregrine Gallagher, apothecary clerk, labors on a device he calls a Visualiser – a computer interface decades before its time. The goal is to link Britain with “the Hun” in real-time via a colleague in Cologne and, in addition to making them both wealthy, stave off the war. If people can see that they’re more alike than different, why would they let their leaders compel them to fight?

In any event, Peregrine hopes his sometime lover, Lady Euterpe Gosling, whose husband is a diplomat, will be impressed enough by the Visualiser to become his patron. His work is interrupted by the abrupt arrival through a broken window of a frightened ginger cat who, as he watches, transforms into a freckled ginger girl. Or is it the other way around?

While Euterpe is in Southampton watching the unsinkable Titanic sail, Peregrine draws out Xenia’s story – of running away from a workhouse in Wales to adoption by a clan of Irish Travellers to a cruel accident that left her on the cobbles of London. But she’s never turned into a cat before.

Peregrine realizes a cat hiding behind the draperies would make a perfect spy, and presents her to Euterpe. If Xenia can learn to channel her shapeshifting, Euterpe can offer her an unimagined adventure as her traveling companion, from the conference halls of Berlin to the salons of Paris. Xenia wants one thing in return – for Peregrine to build a device that might save the life of someone she loves.

A little bit of cyberpunk, some alternative history, a generous dollop of magic, brief appearances by Lincoln, Churchill, and Bertrand Russell, as well as a talking Octopus: Can a small ginger cat change the course of history?

Please note: This is Chapter 1 of a serialized 12-chapter novel. One chapter will be released on Kindle every month through 2018, with a paperback version of the entire novel available in December.

Now available in paperback and Kindle editions:

Morgan Judd is doomed to the life of a debutante, at least if her mother Melissa, wife of Senator Bill Judd, has her way. But Morgan’s never followed the rules, and she flouts parental expectations by enlisting in the Marine Corps as soon as she turns 18. However, her father uses his influence to have her assigned to Project Occult, an experimental program designed to test recruits’ psychic abilities in an effort to create Super Soldiers and, not incidentally, keep his daughter out of harm’s way.

Trying to be just another grunt, Morgan earns her squad’s respect and the nickname “Starbuck” during an escapade involving a miniature drone and a great deal of alcohol. But then a half-dozen terrorists infiltrate the supposedly secure base and kidnap Morgan and three other Marines.

The four become the subject of global speculation, with one persistent rumor dominating, particularly in cyberspace…that Morgan’s father, with his ties to the intelligence agencies, has had his own daughter kidnapped in order to play on public sympathy (Morgan is the perfect mashup of MIA and Pretty Blonde Girl Abducted) and bolster his bid for the White House.

Enter another Gang of Four – an unlikely group of cyber-friends who track the rumor to its source, though not without consequences for themselves, the missing Marines, and Politics as Usual.

The year is 1978. Sarah Morrow is a brilliant Chaucer scholar. Former nun and widow of a famous artist, she creates a peerless department of medieval literature in a small Catholic college in Brooklyn, incurring the envy of her colleagues. At the peak of her career, she suffers a stroke which renders her unable to read.

Joan is a former student of Sarah’s, just divorced and with too little sense of self or direction to make her newly acquired freedom work for her. She devotes herself to helping Sarah regain her powers.

Also at Sarah’s side is Pietro, a Jesuit priest, a great shaggy bear of a man who has long nurtured tender love for Sarah, spending a considerable amount of time wondering what might have happened if he’d met her before he yoked himself with the Roman collar. And for a brief moment, the flesh triumphs over the spirit.

Gradually learning about each other and themselves, the two women join forces to rebuild Sarah’s competence and fight against the indignity of forced retirement. Ultimately, each gains a new purpose and commitment, and the novel ends with a poignant and very real sense of hope.


The Others

Lingri the Inept is Chronicler of the dying days of her island species. Peaceful, finely tuned by genetic and nutritional science, no longer able to laugh, the Others had lived for centuries in magnificent cities on their archipelago. On the same world, across a wide ocean, life for the People—a feudal species barely emerged from the primeval mire—was cold, brutish, nasty, and short. But now the People had begun to venture farther across the ocean in their primitive vessels, and Lingri, sent as a Monitor to secrete herself among the People and observe them, is aboard one such vessel.

What if Columbus had stumbled upon a 21st-century civilization in the New World? Here is one possible outcome.


In this second book of the Others trilogy, the last of the Others are in exile, fleeing their ravaged Archipelago across a sea fraught with danger to sanctuary in a land of ice, for nowhere else in the World is safe for them. Reunited with her Intermix son Joreth, Lingri attempts to explain the many threads of event, personality, and circumstance that have entangled her existence with the People’s.

She relates her lifelong relationship with the Healer Dweneth, her incendiary relationship with the musician Redrec, father of her son, and most especially her connection with the madman Dzu, an outcast of the People’s reared by Others, who uses everything in his power as ruler of the World to destroy those who once nurtured him.

As Lingri weaves her tale together, word reaches the peace-loving Others that the People are now warring against each other. Will the Others turn away, or risk themselves once more in an attempt to save the World?


Summoned from her exile in the Iceworld, Lingri is asked to return to the larger World in order to save the People from themselves. But how much can anOther give? Lingri must choose between the safety of the Iceworld and the individuals who bind her there—her Intermix son Joreth, his pregnant wife Dwiri, and the possibly mad telepath Lerius—or the prospect of peace in the nearly demolished World.

She must face Dzugash the Pure, instigator of the genocide, her lifelong nemesis Chior, who might have averted the slaughter but refused, and Jemadar, who loves Lingri and is willing to endure torture for a species not his own. This final confrontation between People and Others will either heal them both or destroy them all forever.



Left to die on a world so horrifying that it was known as Hellguard, a feral child named Saavik was rescued by Spock, who took the half-Vulcan, half-Romulan orphan home to his parents, knowing that if anyone could nurture and teach this bright and troubled creature, they could.

Now a Starfleet officer, Lt. Saavik remains behind on Vulcan when her crewmates return to Earth to stand trial following the events on Genesis, only to learn that the Hellguard survivors are being murdered one by one. But who is responsible? And is she next?

Enmeshed in a complex web of spies and counterspies, Saavik forms an uneasy alliance with the Romulan Narak, who claims to be her father, and insists he can stop the killings with her help, but at a price. Ambassador Sarek's overtures of peace to the Klingons threaten Romulan society, and for this he must be destroyed.

Her life and her loyalty at stake, not knowing where to turn or whom to trust, Saavik must find her own answers, and discover who she truly is.

"The Greater Good"

No man wakes up in the morning thinking "Today I will do evil." Every one of them tells himself he’s doing what he’s doing for the greater good. And when that greater good serves an Empire which at its core is evil, the lines get even more blurry.

A brash and often overly ambitious young officer who wants a starship of his own so badly he can taste it, Lt. Cmdr. James T. Kirk is convinced he must kill Captain Christopher Pike for the sake of the Empire’s best starship. But sometimes brashness has to be tempered with a little logic and common sense...


Before James T. Kirk, another captain stood on the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise, spearheading its mission of exploration into the uncharted reaches of the galaxy. He was a man driven to perfection, a brooding soul whose haunted eyes reflected the burden of the impossible standards he set for himself, and for whom his longtime science officer, Spock, one day would risk everything. Yet, little is truly known about the enigmatic Christopher Pike. the events that defined him...or the secrets that consumed him.

From the embers of his early childhood among Earth’s blossoming interstellar colonies, to the terrifying conflagration that led him back to the world of his birth, from the mentor who would ignite young Chris’s desire to return to the stars, to the career he blazed in Starfleet that would end in the supreme sacrifice—the path of Pike’s astonishing life leads through fire again and again. But even amid the ashes of Talos IV, the forbidden world on which he would live out the remainder of his days, the dreams smoldering still within his aging, radiation-ravaged breast fan the flames of Pike’s spirit to accomplish one final task...

MERE ANARCHY, Book 6: Its Hour Come Round

Captain James T. Kirk is dead, lost during the launch of the U.S.S. Enterprise-B. His former shipmates are not the only ones who mourn his passing: Raya elMora and the people of Mestiko are stunned to learn that the man who has played such a pivotal role in their lives over the past three decades is now gone.

But Kirk's passing comes as Mestiko is on the threshold of a new era, as they have come from near-destruction to contemplating membership in the Federation. The surviving crew of the Starship Enterprise gather together at this strife-torn world one last time as its future hangs in the balance...


Abandoned as a child, without a home or family, past or future, Zetha survived only by her own cunning in the back alleys of Romulus before being taken by the Tal Shiar and remade into one of its deadliest weapons. But Zetha is about to undertake a mission unlike any in her experience.

The mysterious return of a virulent scourge thought to be long extinct threatens devastation on a scale almost too horrific to contemplate. Zetha’s only hope of stopping it is across the Neutral Zone—among the enemies of Romulus. Now Admiral Uhura, centenarian chief of Starfleet Intelligence, must decide what to do with the knowledge Zetha has risked her life to bring to her. Uhura must assign a hand-picked team of Starfleet officers to covertly trace the contagion to its source—and do whatever is necessary to contain it.

But the world awaiting Lt. Benjamin Sisko, Lt. Tuvok, Dr. Selar, and Zetha herself is a hot zone of secrets, deceptions, and subtle machinations revealing an imminent holocaust beyond anything the away team expected, or could hope to combat.


In the twenty-first century: Years before the formal first contact that would be recorded in Earth's history, a Vulcan space vessel crash-lands in the South Pacific, forcing humanity to decide whether to offer the hand of friendship, or the fist of war. Complicating matters is a second visitation: a group of people from two hundred years in the future, who serve on a starship called Enterprise.

In the twenty-third century: A new novel called Strangers from the Sky reveals the truth about this heretofore unknown first contact. Reading the novel leads to nightmares that torment Admiral James T. Kirk - dreams of his dead comrades, Gary Mitchell, Lee Kelso, and Elizabeth Dehner, from his earliest days aboard the Enterprise - visions of a forgotten past in which he somehow changed the course of history and destroyed the Federation before it began.


Warrantors of Peace: the Federation's daring experiment to prevent war among its members. each Warrantor, man or woman is hostage for the government of his native world - and is instantly killed if that world breaks the peace.

Now Romulans have kidnapped six Warrantors, to foment political chaos - and then civil war - within the Federation. Captain Kirk must send Sulu to infiltrate Romulan territory, find the hostages, and bring them back alive - before the Federation self-destructs...



Preternatural Too: Gyre

Karen is a struggling science fiction writer with a serious problem: the telepathic alien jellyfish in her current work in progress, a novel called Preternatural, are trying to communicate with her. Has she invented the aliens or have the aliens invented her? And if she is going crazy, can she still sell the movie rights?

She is helped through a series adventures by the stars of a cult science fiction TV series, a time traveler whom she first meets in a pre-Christian Celtic stronghold on the verge of being wiped out by Caesar's legions and again in a bomb shelter in Berlin in 1945, and a mystery woman who may or may not be the daughter of a Nazi mastermind.

Among them they save a planet or two, intervene in a kidnapping, and track down a valuable Russian artwork thought lost forever in World War II, which bears a striking resemblance to a spy novel that Karen once wrote but couldn't sell.

Except this time her fiction turns out to be fact. Again. Or is it the other way around?

In any case, Karen finds herself riding a roller-coaster through the Möbius strip of time, and still manages to put all the pieces back where they belong...or does she?


by Nichelle Nichols
with Margaret Wander Bonanno

Saturna, born on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, is a dynamic and beautiful interplanetary heroine, possessing extraordinary powers derived from her unique ancestry. Her mother, Dr. Nyota Domonique is a microbiologist and commander of the Earth ship Dragon’s Egg. Leading Earth’s first expedition to Titan, Nyota and her crew discover that another highly evolved species has already established a colony there. The Fazisians are a handsome, peaceful, telepathic, strikingly attractive people with steel-blue feathery hair.

Their young leader, Tetrok, heir to the Fazisian throne, falls in love with Nyota. Both know that their feelings must be subordinated to their mission and the laws of their respective worlds, and yet they violate those laws, and Saturna is the outcome. Her very existence is a dangerous secret that could cause turmoil on Fazis, and initiate interplanetary war.

Tetrok’s jealous cousin Valton wants the throne for himself, and will do anything to discredit the king’s favorite. Only the wise elder Krecis, who has appointed himself Saturna’s mentor and protector, stands between Valton and his young charge, who holds the fate of both peoples in her small hands.




Sarah Morrow is a brilliant Chaucer scholar. Former nun and widow of a famous artist, she creates a peerless department of medieval literature in a small Catholic college in Brooklyn, incurring the envy of her colleagues. At the peak of her career, she suffers a stroke which renders her unable to read.

Joan is a former student of Sarah’s, just divorced and with too little sense of self or direction to make her newly acquired freedom work for her. She devotes herself to helping Sarah regain her powers.

Also at Sarah’s side is Pietro, a Jesuit priest, a great shaggy bear of a man who has long nurtured tender love for Sarah, spending a considerable amount of time wondering what might have happened if he’d met her before he yoked himself with the Roman collar. And for a brief moment, the flesh triumphs over the spirit.

Gradually learning about each other and themselves, the two women join forces to rebuild Sarah’s competence and fight against the indignity of forced retirement. Ultimately, each gains a new purpose and commitment, and the novel ends with a poignant and very real sense of hope.

A family saga spanning four generations, this is particularly the story of Helen Mary Manning O’Dell and her struggle to break the stranglehold of her family and her church on her life.

Born during the Depression in a working-class Brooklyn neighborhood, Helen is married young to a rookie fireman, an ex-Marine and would-be tough guy with a soft heart. She has four children by the time she is 25. Before she is 30, she discovers that it is not enough for her to be a housewife and mother.

Helen realized that she is in danger of lapsing into the same deadly life pattern that devoured her grandmother and is slowly gnawing at her mother. Breaking the cycle of dutiful daughter/​possessive mother, she decides to go to college and enter a new world. In a society revolving around a rigid religious and social structure, her venture into freedom has a price.

There are others in Helen’s life—her sentimental friend Loretta, who can only find love in impermanence, her brother Danny, bent on self-destruction, her brother Johnny, who turns to religion because life is too chaotic, her cousin Alistair, whose private life causes him to be ostracized from the family, her own children, who inflict their special brand of pain.

But it is Helen’s hold on her own life and her struggle to keep the family demons at bay that are the center of the story. As we follow her through life, we feel her hurts and frustrations, and share her triumphs. Her life is an uphill battle, but every day survived is its own affirmation.

“On Friday afternoon, Alice watched her husband die on television...”

Alice is a former social worker who runs a state agency for delinquent adolescents. But when she tries to help Jimmy, a homeless youth she finds sleeping in her garage, she gets in over her head.

Alice’s husband Sebastian is an actor, a soap-opera star suffering from a midlife crisis, who abandons the financial security of the soaps and the off-Broadway company he manages to make a dubious film overseas.

Alice has a younger brother, Mark, a former hippie with a math degree, whose wife Celia has supported for years. Celia is the lighting designer for Sebastian’s theater, longing for wider horizons and a baby before she is thirty-five.

Then there’s Claire, Alice and Sebastian’s daughter, a back-packing tomboy who wants nothing to do with her parents’ social milieu, or with the opposite sex. Until she meets Jimmy.

Jimmy is the catalyst, a young man in search of an identity. It is his interaction with all of these personalities against a background of supporting characters – actors, both has-beens and will-bes, a drunken, redneck playwright, the special twilight people known as the stage crew, social workers, cab drivers, nosy neighbors, and assorted crazies – that brings to life a cross-section of one neighborhood in a small town called New York City.

You might not take to Lynn Ann Loomis right away, not everyone does. After all, you wouldn’t expect a woman described as having “the biggest balls on the Street” to have an army of adoring fans.

But then, how many women are able to take over their dead daddy’s small-town insurance agency at the age of eighteen and outface all the doubters in Elliott, Missouri, to make a go of it? How many have the courage to leave a beery good ol’ boy husband for – of all frightening places – New York?

Landing in New York with two small children, a few dollars, and the business card of a fast-talker encountered at a conference in Chicago, Lynn Ann begins her climb to the top of the Street – the high-powered national insurance giants. She’s going to be a winner, no ifs about it. But when there’s a winner, there are also losers. “The daughter has the rep of being a slut,” says one of the teachers at the sixth or seventh school Lynn Ann’s children are enrolled in. And the son? “Very quiet. Kiss-ass quiet. A time bomb.”

Lynn Ann says everything is fine. It’s what the psychologists call denial.

And then Beth Schaffner arrives in their reluctant lives, a fairy godmother disguised as a guidance counselor, and with problems of her own. More through her generously given friendship than through her profession, she begins to change the way they see the world. But not before they all survive a trial of fire.

From Publishers Weekly:

"Bonanno cleverly explores materialistic values while taking a realistic look at a single-parent career woman struggling with family responsibilities and her own need for identity. When 18-year-old Lynn Ann Loomis loses her adored father, she inherits his insurance business and household, takes charge of a ditsy mother, two younger sisters and a treacherous office staff duo. Soon enough, Lynn Ann is also saddled with a no-account husband with whom she is 'crazy in lust,' a drunken, narrow-minded mother-in-law and two children. Eventually divorced, Lynn Ann parlays her experience into a high-powered Wall Street reinsurance job, buys a Summit, N.J., home, sends her children to private school. Her son's cry-for-help behavior leads her to therapy with Beth, a counselor who has problems of her own. Lynn Ann thinks all she needs is Mr. Right, but comes to see how the business world feeds ambitions and anxieties while starving personal needs. Bonanno (Angela Lansbury) brings a distinctive voice and a credible point of view to her arresting story of a plucky woman in a competitive world."

From Library Journal:

"Lynn Ann at 18 is forced to grow up too quickly in her small Missouri town when she has to take over her father's insurance business on his sudden death. She is good at it, but not so successful with family matters. Friction with her spendthrift mother and despair with an alcoholic husband finally drive her to New York City. There, after a struggle, she is again a successful business woman—but a lousy mother to her bulemic daughter and pyromaniacal son. Enter Beth, their private school counselor, a warm, generous woman who risks her own sweetheart and peace of mind to save these children. The contrast between the business worlds of Missouri and New York, and between the hard-hitting career woman and the equally tough but caring guidance counselor make for good reading..."

- Marion Hanscom, SUNY at Binghamton Library

“Intricate and elegiac...Bonanno crafts strong characters and depicts vividly distinctive societies in this thoughtful and unusual tale.” – Steven Gould, Publishers Weekly

"An enormously challenging puzzle story...for all its post-modern paraphernalia and homages to writers as dissimilar as Julian Jaynes and Douglas Adams, is an audacious act of the imagination that goes far beyond the merely clever..." - Gerald Jonas, The New York Times

Born in the late twenty-first century with amazing powers, Saturna, a half-human, half-Fazisian, innocently incites an uprising that threatens her home system with all-out interplanetary war.

“Read this as two women helping each other out when both need it most, read it as tart-tongued truth about the changes life brings to all of us, read it for some of the most superb minor characterizations in recent fiction. There is hardly a character here about whom one does not yearn to know more.” - Barbara Bannon, Publishers Weekly

“Four hundred pages of well-drawn characters who engage our attention from page one and alternately charm, annoy, worry and entertain us. Scene after scene reminds us of people we’ve known.” -Pat McNees, The Washington Post