Raised in New Orleans, Kelly Jennings now lives in the Boston Mountains, where she writes science fiction when she is not catering to cats. Her short story "History of the Invasion Told in Five Dogs" appeared in The Year's Best Science Fiction: 35th Annual Collection. Her first novel, Broken Slate, was published in 2011; her second, Fault Lines, appeared in 2018. She is a member of SFWA.

In the Deep by Kelly Jennings

Velocity Wrachant and the crew of the Susan Calvin have been working in Pirian Space for three years, doing adjunct work for the Pirian fleet. When they are offered a mission in Republic Space, they know this is their chance to be taken in as full members of the fleet. And the job looks safe enough: they are to rescue some Pirian fleet members out of contract labor, while also learning what they can about local insurgencies.

The planet they are sent to, Durbin, is in Republic-held space. But it's at the fringes of that space, in the seldom patrolled area known as The Deep. Velocity takes the mission, hoping to get in and out without attracting the attention of the powerful, and hostile, Combines. Once they reach the planet, however, they learn that the political situation there is far more complicated—and dangerous—than they expected.



  • "…as gritty and complex as the first novel-length adventure… // Strongly reminiscent of C.J Cherryh at her best."

    – Gwyneth Jones, author of the Aleutian trilogy, winner of the World Fantasy, Clarke, Dick, and Tiptree awards
  • "In the Deep evoked for me // space opera at its best: C.J. Cherryh, Lois M Bujold, Arkady Martine, and Frank Herbert's Dune. Jennings offers character development and worldbuilding in spades to make a fractally complicated universe that feels real and lived in."

    – Paul Weimer, SFF book reviewer and Hugo finalist
  • "In this fun, intrigue-laden space opera, // Jennings gives an intriguing glimpse of a much larger setting. // Fans of found family will love the portrayal of Velocity and her crew of scrappy underdogs."

    – Publishers Weekly
  • "More political intrigue and gamesmanship than a standard space-battle story... // Solid world building, likable characters...nifty plot twists…"

    – Craig Clark, Booklist



The baths aboard the Sungai were twelve interconnected cabins, each round and bright with murals, each one a bit warmer than the previous, each big enough for fifteen or so bathers. At peak hour these cabins overflowed with aunts and grandmothers; adolescents gathering to scrub one another's backs and discussing very serious matters indeed; parents with their infants; children tumbling everywhere. Right now, though, at the pit of afterwatch, Adder had this cabin, the hottest, all to herself, and had pulled the seal on the hatch to keep the steam in.

Moving over to rinse, Adder tapped start and spun in a circle to let the jets of clean water shoot over her. In microgravity, any jets that didn't smack into her kept traveling along their vector; Brontë had to dodge. Adder grinned at this and tapped the panel that stepped up suction in the drain grids. "Just to be clear. You're planning to go along with Edu on this job."

Brontë drew her eyebrows down. "What do you mean? Do you think we shouldn't go?"

"I think you shouldn't go," Adder said, stressing the second-person pronoun. "Captain Wrachant said to stay here on the Sungai until she got back, and you promised you would."

"That's not so," Brontë corrected. "The Captain said You stay here until I get back, and then she said, I want you safe, and then she said, Do you hear me? And then I said Yes."

Adder scowled. "Even for you, that's duplicitous."

"Even for me?"

"Even for a Combine heir, I should have said." Adder slid into the dryer and lifted her face to the blast of warm air. Shouting over it, she said, "You know the Captain only took this job because the Sungai promised to keep you safe."

"I know I'm not anyone's little treasure box. I'm not here to be kept safe." Brontë followed Adder out to the lockers.