The Neotenic Queen

Tales of Sex and Survival in the Sonoran Desert

By Alejandro Canelos
Illustrations by Rachel Ivanyi

For the animals and plants of the Arizona desert, every day is about staying alive. But it’s all the other stuff—desire, fidelity, hope, envy, grief, betrayal—that bridges the gap between science and fiction and highlights the interconnectedness of the human and natural worlds.

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About the Book

The Neotenic Queen

A wealthy Gila monster suffers from halitosis. A young peccary chooses a side in war. A rattlesnake upends the historic enmity between serpent and man. A subterranean termite princess comes home. Two mothers, a dove and a woodpecker, are confronted by an unthinkable crime. A rogue saguaro cactus learns to listen. A jilted roadrunner moonlights at a hummingbird sex resort. These and dozens more characters run, hop, slither, and fly through captivating storylines and natural history-style illustrations. Equal parts biology, fantasy, tragicomedy, and conservation, The Neotenic Queen is a collection of stunning revelations.

Contains mature content.

About the Author

Alejandro Canelos

Alejandro Canelos was born in Nogales, Sonora and raised in Tucson. He earned a BA in Biology from Harvard in 1992. His second story collection, Hunters and Thieves (Neotenic), was published in early 2023. In his spare time, he plays drums professionally—freelance, all styles—and sings tenor II in two community choirs. He enjoys hiking, mountain biking, cheering on the UA Wildcats, jazz, and spending time with his family.

About the Illustrator

Rachel Ivanyi

Rachel Ivanyi is one of those strange people who like the smell of formaldehyde. It takes her back to the early days of working in a museum lab. She is at home among the preserved and mounted critters. She applies both her scientific and artistic training, giving animals everlasting life through art and bringing attention to environmental issues. Rachel received a BS in Zoology from U.C. Davis and Graduate Certification in Natural Science Illustration from U.C. Santa Cruz. Many of her paintings have been exhibited across the U.S. and internationally and are part of permanent collections, both public and private. Her illustration clients include National Geographic, Scientific American, and nature institutions around the world. Having taught a wide variety of nature art classes over the course of her 25+ year career, she is currently a core instructor for the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Art Institute. When she’s not in her art studio, you will likely find her looking for reptiles, dancing, or hanging with her family.

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