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Alert readers will have noticed that there are two stories included in this volume.

"Wise Child" is a reprint. It first appeared in in June 2016, and was written as a "support story" for Alliance of Equals, published in July.

"Street Cred". . .is something else again, having started out in life as part of a larger thing – in fact as several scenes from forthcoming Liaden Universe® novel Neogenesis (Baen, January 2018). Sadly, those scenes didn't fit, or didn't exactly fit, and thus they became outtakes.

We'll just mention here that Neogenesis, as a book, generated. . .a larger than average number of outtakes.

This particular series of outtakes, though. . .

Those of you who have hung out long enough with writers, either online or in-person will have at one time or another heard the phrase, "kill your darlings." Broadly translated, this means, "The scene reads well, the dialogue sparkles, and the characters shine – but, truthfully, it doesn't really belong in this story. Best take it out."

We here at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory have removed such scenes many, many times over our careers. Sometimes, the material has found its way into another book, later; sometimes, the removed scene is strong enough to be reworked into a short story; sometimes. . .well, sometimes, it just gets shifted over to a file of removed scenes and there it sits until it is forgotten.

This last was the destiny of the various pieces that contributed to "Street Cred." The removed bits just took the plot of Neogenesis in a direction which – while not wrong – was not immediately compatible with the rest of the plot-threads that make up the novel.

That being so, the following scenes were removed from the final novel: Val Con's unfortunate comeuppance in an alleyway; Lady yo'Lanna's letter (in response to the letter Nova had written to her, in Dragon in Exile) regarding current conditions on Liad and in the Council of Clans; and Miri and Val Con's argument in the wake of said unfortunate comeuppance.

None of it, recall, was Bad Stuff, taken by itself; it just Didn't Belong. It was therefore pulled, as we had done with different such bits, before.

This time, though. . .

We. Just. Couldn't. Bear. To part with Lady yo'Lanna's letter. We just couldn't let it molder away into oblivion in a forgotten file on a backup drive. And the odds that we'd find a place to use it were. . .well, pretty close to nil. That's just Life; the story of Neogenesis had swept beyond the point where that letter could reasonably be introduced, and enjoyed.

And, because we couldn't bear to lose the letter, or, if it comes to that, the reprise of the scene from Agent of Change, we decided to –

Take those three outtakes and weave them into a story, dammit.

So, that's what we did.

Nothing in this story spoils Neogenesis, by the way, though you'll find some echoes of the story in the novel, and vice-versa. We were particularly pleased to have some room to look at the street qe'andra program more closely, and see how Ms. kaz'Ineo and her barely literate apprentice are coming along.

We're pleased with the final story, and hoped that you enjoyed reading it as much as we ultimately enjoyed writing it.

Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Cat Farm and Confusion Factory

Winslow Maine

February 2017

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