My Favorite Bit: Aimee Kuzenski talks about SEEDS OF INHERITANCE

Aimee Kuzenski is joining us today to talk about her novel, Aimee Kuzenski. Here’s the publisher’s description:

She lost a war ten years ago. For a chance to fight again, she’ll use any weapon that comes to hand – even her own daughter.

What’s Aimee’s favorite bit?

When I was a kid, we moved around a lot. Town to town, school district to school district. I didn’t have much continuity of friend-group as I grew up, and this was exacerbated by introversion. I was a pretty lonely child much of the time.

So where did I turn for companionship? The science fiction section of the local library.

I regularly checked out a stack of books three feet tall, returning in a week to exchange them for another stack. (The librarians loved me.) Many were new reads to me, but a few I checked out over and over, until I could see the words in my mind whenever I wanted – the placement, the font, the flaw in the paper right next to the quote.

DUNE was one of those books. I’ve eagerly watched every adaptation. I have two copies in my home library.

But despite my love for the book, the way it sweeps me into a richly realized world, the complex politics, the relationships – there’s one place it and its adaptations fail me.

The portrayal of women.

DUNE surrounds its cypher of a main character with powerful, complex, human women who serve as little more than foils or helpmeets for Paul Atreides. Lady Jessica is a member of a secret society that trained her in martial arts, in half-magical manipulation and extreme self-control, and the narrative assigns her the role of wife and mother above all else. Alia, Paul’s sister and more powerful in almost every way, is simply too weak to contain it all; she fractures and fails herself and her family. (And yes, I know it’s a novel of its time, but that doesn’t mean I have to LIKE it.)

The more I think about it, the madder I get. And what do writers do when that happens?

We grind that fury into stories.

SEEDS OF INHERITANCE began as a reaction to my frustration with DUNE, but it grew into its own world powered by botanical technology and sentient FTL treeships. My analog to Paul Atreides dies before the book even begins, leaving his mother and sister trapped in the ruins of his failed rebellion. It’s a celebration of powerful, complex, and flawed women, trapped in untenable situations.

My favorite bit is a moment where my main character, Berenike, has managed to get her daughter out of the emperor’s grasp but couldn’t escape herself. She’s brought before the emperor, expecting a quick death sentence.

But even her enemy sees value in her. And she must decide whether to take his bargain and keep working to destroy him in secret, or to give up and accept death.

Leontios held out his hand, the very picture of a lord granting a boon. “You have ten minutes. Think carefully; this offer won’t be extended or repeated.” He beckoned to Theodora. “Come, spymaster. Let’s give the prisoner privacy to decide her future.”

After the barest hesitation, Theodora obeyed. Berenike was left alone with unexpected indecision tightening her breath.

The choice should be clear. What self-respecting revolutionary would willingly lie down with the enemy to save her own life? The rebellion had taken her husband and son, her calling, and now Evrim. She was nothing. The cause mattered, or nothing did.


Wasn’t this exactly what she’d pressed upon Evrim? The seeming of submission, while continuing to work for justice? She had no reputation to sully; Leontios was exact in his summation. The rebels blamed her for Serhan’s death and the crippling of the movement. The Order had dismissed her to her former mentor’s cruel care. She had nothing to lose, and the potential for much more – if she could start the tumble of the Order, wouldn’t the Blood Purity laws follow suit? Couldn’t she work from within the empire to bring justice to all the spacers who’d been left childless and alone by the empire’s expansion?

And it wasn’t as if she could hate herself more. Wasn’t she due some kinder treatment, after a decade of slavery?

The sudden blooming of flowerlights jolted Berenike out of her thoughts. She looked up, squinting, and saw Leontios’ stone face. Theodora stood beside him, stiff with tension.

“Well, Berenike? I will have your choice.”

I’ll avoid spoilers here. Just know that when she answers, it won’t be as a helper to the main character. Berenike has the agency to make her own decisions. Always.


Book Link




Aimee Kuzenski is a speculative fiction author and practitioner of Filipino martial arts. In the wider speculative fiction community, she is a graduate of Viable Paradise, a board member with the 4th Street Fantasy convention, and you can find her short fiction online at Translunar Travelers Lounge.

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