An infinite number of monkeys with and infinite number of word-processors will supposedly eventually type out everything I have ever written and everything I am going to write… As well as everything I will ever write with a random word misspelled or replaced with the wrong word. It would be an infinite mess. After all, infinite monkeys and infinite word-processors would fill infinite space and leave no room for infinite bananas. The monkeys would all starve after the initial typed manuscripts are completed, and any surviving monkeys that randomly evolved an ability to eat word-processors would die from exposure to infinite rotting monkey corpses. The whole thing gets gruesome after a while.
But let’s get serious for a moment. (Something that is generally difficult for Mickey.) Monkeys with type-writers will not solve my essential problem. I will not run out of stories before I run out of time for story-telling. And I find it totally creditable that my time is almost gone.
I am ill again, with a viral infection that gives me headaches, low-grade fever, and a wicked cough. I feel horrible. I had chest pains last night that led to a serious debate yet again. If it had been a heart attack, that would’ve been the end. I cannot survive economically another hospital bill. So, I have to go on the theory that since the last heart-attack scare was only arthritis in the ribs and the strange effect that has on EKGs, this one must also be the same. I can’t afford any other conclusion. And since I am still alive to write this, it was obviously the correct conclusion to draw.
The titles I have listed above, still in my stupid old head, are eleven more books I will add to my growing list. This is, of course, entirely dependent on how much longer I have before the darkness claims me for all time. I have writing to do. No more days off. And if I get five more years of two books a year, I just might make it. But last night convinced me that the effort may end at any time. So, though I am sick, I better get busy and write something.
Ged, Junior, Tkriashav,
Naylund, Sara, and Friashqazatla were all gathered in the office of Shen Ming
inside Akito House.
Aero-sama, we are here to determine the course we must follow to honor the prophecy.” Shen Ming smiled his unnerving crooked smile.
prophecy are we talking about?” asked Ged.
“The prophecy of
Shan,” answered Naylund.
“The prophecy of Xan,”
chuckled. “Ah, so… a matter of spelling,
ha? It is the wisdom of my ancestors
that the two prophecies are the same.”
“How do you know
this, Shen Ming-sensei?” asked Naylund.
“What does the
prophecy of Shan say is the White Spider’s first task?”
“He will teach
students the Way of the Spider.”
“And what does
the prophecy of Xan say he will do first?”
“He will teach Psions
to use their inborn powers,” said Tkriashav.
“Is this not a
similarity rather than a difference?”
nor Tkriashav was able to dispute that.
“Well, then, I
will discuss this first with the Black Wolf.”
Shen Ming smiled at Friashqazatla.
“Who is the Black
Wolf?” asked Naylund. Ged looked
confused as well.
“I am the Black
Wolf,” admitted Friashqazatla quietly.
“And how do you
know this to be true, little Freddy?” asked Shen Ming very patiently.
“I see the Black
Wolf in my inner eye. He constantly
tells me, Come and be me.”
“Do you know the
process to become the Black Wolf?”
“I do not. It distresses me.”
Friashqazatla, or, more simply, Freddy, was a very comely and attractive child. His skin was a rich, reddish brown in color. His hair was jet black and shiny. His eyes were two glowing-blue sky-colored sapphires.
“The Way of the Spider is to look within,”
said Shen Ming. “The Way of the Spider
is self-fulfillment and the honing of personal skills and moral strengths. Can this Way not also mean the development of
“Yes, honored Shen
Ming-sensei. I understand how to teach shape-changing
power like my own,” said Ged. “But how
can I teach the Way of the Spider if I do not know it?”
“Have you a
personal code of morality and honor, Ged-sensei?”
“Then teach that
as the Way of the Spider, for the White Spider is you.”
“And is that all
that I must teach?”
“I believe in the
combat with Ginjiro, the Black Spider, you actually consumed his flesh, did you
“And your Psion
power allows you to change into any living creature you have tasted or
otherwise genetically analyzed, yes?”
“Then the Way of
Combat will be easy for you to teach, for Ginjiro, though evil, was a master of
powerful martial arts.”
Ged was a bit stunned
to learn that part of what he was to teach was knowledge he had gained by
eating a teacher of martial arts.
“Who will I be teaching the Way of the Spider to?”
“I see three students here. Lovely Sara, the daughter of Naylund Smith-sama. Your own little blue nephew, Junior Aero. And, of course, the Black Wolf, whom I will always refer to as Freddy because of the lack of ease I have saying his birth name without bruising my tongue and cracking my few remaining teeth. And there is one other we must add to this dojo. We have reason to believe he is a Psion also, a telekinetic. His name is Shu Kwai.” “I accept this assignment, Shen Ming-sensei.”
Ged bowed to Shen Ming humbly. He had become a teacher, complete with the necessary class to be one.
Naylund Smith was dressed in a formal
silk jacket with an embroidered Japanese-style phoenix raising its wings across
the chest and turning to flaming ashes on the back. A white chord ran down the left leg of the
blue silk pants and ended in an embroidered white spider, the first time Ged
was to see the White Spider’s personal logo on anything.
Ged couldn’t help
but admire the strong-looking, erect posture of this amazing man. He wore a gold earring in his left ear; his
head was shaved and hairless except for white eyebrows, a white bun at the very
back of the head, and a white goatee.
The man’s iron-gray eyes glared like the stare of an eagle. Only the golden walking stick hinted at any
weakness in the man, and he never seemed to lean upon it.
“The web of space
is locked in an ever-expanding spiral dance,” said Naylund as ceremonial armor
was strapped to Ged’s arms and chest.
“The spiders that move from strand to strand are merely a counterpoint
to the great dancing flow of the web itself. When spiders contend for space on the web,
then the dance reaches its most violent and most beautiful point. I cannot help you with the next few steps of the
dance. The prophecy says that you will
be victorious, but no prophecy is ever absolute unless it can be proven to come
from God himself.”
“You sound like I
am about to have some kind of duel,” said Ged cautiously. “I thought this was just a welcoming
“It is that. It is also deadly serious.”
Little Ham Aero
Junior was brought to Ged dressed in a milk-white kimono, and an embroidered
white spider picked out in light blue covered the heart. The female attendants left him with Ged.
“I am to stand
with you, Ged-sensei,” the boy said.
“Did Frieda teach
you to speak so well?” Ged asked the little Nebulon.
“No. I learned your language long ago by telepathy.”
“Why didn’t you
ever teach it to your mother?”
“She hardly ever
spoke to me. I was nothing but a
reminder to her of the shame of her servitude.”
“I’m so sorry for
“Don’t be. Now I belong to you and you belong to
me. I will stand at your side and die
rather than leave you.”
“A very handsome
and noble child,” said Naylund. “He
deserves to be treated well by you, Ged.”
Naylund-sensei. I am learning to love my
nephew too.” Ged smiled at Junior.
to Ged to leave the tent where he had been dressed in armor. He was now done up in the armor of a Japanese
daimyo or feudal lord, a samurai. He had
everything but the demon mask on him.
As Ged, Naylund
and Junior stepped out into the arena, 40,000 people cheered. Ged was stunned to see so many people. Being a spacer meant being alone more often
than with other people. He’d never in his
life been with so many at once.
“Behold! The so-called White Spider,” said a man
across from Ged in the arena. He gestured
with a silver katana sword to Ged and his two companions. “What do you say that I test this
gaijin? Do you really believe he is the
The crowd roared
that they did believe.
“Well, we shall
see,” said the man, drawing his katana in front of him.
“He will now try
to kill you, Ged,” said Naylund. “If he
succeeds, he will kill the boy and me as well.”
“But, wait!” said
Ged. “I am unarmed!” He sounded panicky.
prophecy,” said Naylund, “that’s not supposed to be a problem.”
“I am the Black
Spider,” shouted the man. Ged noticed
his black silk robes bore a red spider-symbol on the chest. “I will kill you now, Ged Aero!”
The man charged at Ged with lightning speed. He was obviously martial-arts trained, and knew precisely what to do. Ged tried to dodge, but the katana came down on his right shoulder in a perfect arc. Ged’s right arm was neatly severed at the shoulder.
gasped. Ged fell to his knees gasping
also. Junior tried to run to him, but
Naylund grabbed him and firmly held him.
one. Ged must pass this test himself.”
Ged’s mind swirled,
but fixed on an image from his mind implanted there when Tara helped him return
to his rightful form. His inner eye
sharpened and fixed the image with crystal clarity. Immediately the arm grew back into
place. The crowd was silent with shock.
“So!” said the
Black Spider. “You are a magician! It will help you not! I have killed many magicians before you.”
Ged didn’t bother
to listen. Power was surging through
him. He could feel the rightness of each
shape as it came to him.
Junior, amazed at what he saw. Ged had
changed first into the lithe figure of Tara Salongi so that the bulky clothing
and armor would fall away. Then, as the
nude female Ged stepped free of the binding clothing, he was already turning
into the fearsome raptor dinosaur from Don’t Go Here.
“Try this!” cried
the Black Spider as he leaped onto Ged’s scaly back and tried to sever the
saurian head. Ged’s clawed foot nimbly
came up and swept the attacker off, as easily as a horse knocks flies off his
flanks with a twitching tail. The other
clawed foot found the Black Spider as he hit the ground, the wicked hook
slicing into the flesh of his stomach.
The Black Spider
wobbled to his feet again, defiant and angry.
His intestines began to droop out of his wound. “Good trick, spider, but
I’m not beaten yet!”
Even as the Black
Spider was bragging, Ged remembered one other beast he had been forced to kill
and eat. He morphed almost immediately
into a Samothracian Shadowcat, one of the most difficult creatures he had ever
hunted. On the colorful planet of Samothrace,
with its many xeno-flowers, shadowcats had developed the ability to change
color so masterfully; they could practically disappear from view. As soon as the first paw touched the sand of
the arena floor, Ged shimmered and disappeared.
“What? Where…?” cried the Black Spider, swinging his
sword wildly. Attacks battered him from
three sides. Ged it seemed, had turned
into the wind. It looked like puffs of
air were slashing the Black Spider; until finally, the sword fell from his hand
and the Black Spider fell dead and thoroughly bloodied. Ged remained invisible so as not to disgust
the crowd as he replenished himself by feeding on the flesh of the enemy. He also ate his own severed arm before he
finally reappeared in his own form.
Naked, he quickly
dressed in the samurai armor once again, though not bothering with the many
straps and ties. The crowd was utterly
silent, which left Ged wondering what it meant.
approached solemnly, holding two sheathed swords in his hands.
“You have done well,
my son. Take your swords of office.”
received the swords from Shen-sensei. He
bowed. There was a beautiful silver
katana with a white ivory pommel and a smaller golden wakizashi with a blue
woven pommel. The crowd now began to cheer
“I have defeated the Black Spider?” asked Ged of Naylund.
“You have defeated the first of many Black Spiders, Ged-sama. We will never be at a loss for villains.”
The city of Kiro, Gaijin was a
heavily populated place. The city was
full of high-rise pagoda towers and Kyoto-style castles. Dominating the skyline was the huge obsidian
sculpture of a Black Cat atop the Temple of the Four Pillars of the Secret
Way. Naylund Smith explained it all to
Ged Aero as they made their way through the ornate city.
Ged and Dr. Smith
were accompanied by the two children and Xavier Tkriashav. Tkriashav’s young nephew, Friashqaztl,
trailed behind the group, timid and shy.
All the newcomers were overwhelmed by what they saw.
“This place is
more beautiful than anything I ever saw in my visions,” said Tkriashav.
“Do I understand
correctly that you are the Master Telepath and Psion?” asked Naylund Smith.
“Yes. I am a powerful telepath, teleport, and
clairvoyant. I am not the most powerful
of my people, however.”
Dr. Smith, “but you figure prominently in the Prophecy of Shan.”
“If that is a book,
I’d like to see it,” said Tkriashav.
“In time. It is a holy book to these people.”
All around the
small group, silk-robed people had been gathering to watch as if the six people
from the space ship were a circus parade.
Many shouted “White Spider!” as if prayers had been at long last
“Can you tell me
why I am supposed to be this White Spider?” asked Ged as he took long strides
to hurry past lemon-yellow-skinned admirers.
destiny.” Naylund smiled and nodded his
head indulgently. “The web of outer
space has brought you to us to pick up the threads woven by the last White Spider. The last spider wove this world and its
society. You have come to link it to
other webs and expand this world’s reach back into the stars.”
“You talk a lot of
poetic nonsense.” Ged looked away at the
is also sometimes Truth,” said Dr. Smith.
“I will help you to learn that in time.”
came to a beautiful castle made of white stone and Gaijinese Teak wood, inlaid
with bright blue sapphires. It appeared
to have been their destination all along.
“This,” said Dr.
Smith, “is the Palace of a Thousand Years.
It is your new home.”
“We will live
here?” asked Junior.
Dr. Smith looked
at the blue boy. “It is the palace
belonging to Shen Ming. It is the
traditional home of the White Spider. It
is the place where the last White Spider, Shan Sasaki once lived and worked.”
“Do you expect me
to give up space travel?” asked Ged.
“It’s the only life I’ve ever really known.”
“It will be part
of the life you will lead as the White Spider.
It is the work you are expected to do for us.”
“Hmm.” Ged stared up at the curved roofs of the
Palace of One Thousand Years.
Naylund Smith led
the way into the palace through a large wooden gate. Inside they came into a courtyard that
bustled with activity as if it were a small town all by itself. The courtyard had an ornate Torii arch that
marked the center of the great building.
There were practice yards there where groups of children under the care
of a schoolmaster were learning martial arts, probably karate. There was a large oriental garden for quiet contemplation
inside the palace, as well as the entrance into a riding stable filled with
two-legged llama-like mammals called kians.
Naylund pointed out
the two master towers where the instructors lived. There was a massive central building which
Naylund called the Akito House. It
contained the vast White Spider library, a place that had almost as many bound
volumes of books as books on computer memory crystals. Finally, he pointed out Shen Ming’s Hall,
which, he informed them, was the White Spider’s official residence.
They entered Shen
Ming’s Hall through a double door that proved to lead to a huge indoor bathing pool. Naked yellow men, women, and numerous
children were all bathing there. Junior
Aero would’ve blushed if his skin hadn’t been blue. Ged’s skin turned crimson.
Up a marble
stair, they came into the Administrator’s Hall, and a large, stately office. Behind the desk was Shen Ming himself, looking
spry for a man of nine hundred years. He
was bald as a cue ball except for a single top knot at the apex of his head, and
he looked like a wrinkled Alfred E. Newman.
Shen-sensei,” began Dr. Smith. “I bring
before you Ged Aero. He is…”
“I know, Naylund-sama,
I know. He is the new White Spider. I would know him anywhere! He is just as Shan-dono described him in the
ancient moved swiftly out from behind the desk and took Ged’s hand. He placed it on his own hairless head. His ridiculous lop-sided smile made new
wrinkles blossom across his wizened face.
“I pledge to you all that I have, White Spider,” Shen Ming said in tones of awe. “I will serve you all of my remaining days.” Ged couldn’t begin to speak. The place and the situation filled him up. Tears welled up in his eyes
Yep, I have now finished writing and publishing twelve books. I have reached a dozen. And the fascinating thing to me about my stories is that, even though they are pure fiction, they are about my life, especially my inner creative life.
All of the books have a connection to my home town. Rowan, Iowa, is portrayed in the books as Norwall (Rowan with the letters remixed and two L’s added for Love and Laughter). The two science fiction books are connected not so much by place as by characters. Stardusters and Space Lizards begins with aliens and humans fleeing the failed invasion of Earth from the site of the defeat with Norwall residents now a part of the alien space-ship crew. AeroQuest 1 has an ancestral connection through Orben Wallace, The Bicycle-Wheel Genius. His descendant is Googol Marou, the story-teller of the AeroQuest saga.
So, here’s a picture of the 12 books in time order (more or less).
And just to make matters a bit clearer, here’s the time-ordered books with approximate times indicated;
I do have more novels to write if I am given enough time and life to do them, but they will be fit into this timeline after 1974 C.E. and before 5541 C.E. That’s only a space of about 3,400 years to fill, so I will have to work hard to squeeze it all in.
In Japanese the name Gaijin means
“foreigner” or “gringo”. It denotes a
barbarian who is too close to nature to truly ever understand the ways of the
celestial culture of the dragons. It was
an appropriate name for the planet. All
who came there, even the dolphins and whales, were foreigners and off-worlders. The true culture was a secret deeply embedded
in the planet itself.
Dr. Naylund Smith was an immortal. He had lived on 17th Century Earth and been among the first explorers to leave the planet in a space craft stolen from the invading Tellerons. He had met the original Sylvani, and loved them as a people. He used his vast knowledge and medical skill to help them evolve into the people they were now. He and his young daughter, Sara, were standing outside the Celestial City of Kiro as the spacecraft Megadeath touched down on the plains outside the Dragon Wall. They watched the sleek war machine settle gracefully to the soil where no starship had been for nearly 800 years. It was with a mixture of emotions that Naylund watched it. He knew that the ship carried what his daughter needed most. He also knew that it would bring an end to the peace and unspoiled beauty of the world of Gaijin.
“Daddy, are they
bad men?” asked eight-year-old Sara. Her
blond hair fell golden and beautiful over one eye. Her little-girl body was nearly lost in the
graceful white silk kimono she wore.
One. They are good.”
“Why are you so
bring the White Spider back to us.
Things will change here. The
Gaijin I love will be no more.”
“The White Spider
from the stories? That should be
exciting, shouldn’t it?”
The little girl
put her soft hand into the gnarled old turkey claw that was Naylund’s
hand. He was comforted by the gesture.
touched down in sight of the Dragon Gate.
The town was surrounded by an ornately carved wall that was shaped like
a dragon’s body. The only entrance was
through the Dragon Gate, the open mouth of an ornately carved Celestial
Dragon. The city was secured behind the
energy barrier created by the Sylvani Technology in the wall itself. Naylund would have to escort whoever was
inside the space ship through the Dragon Gate, because he did not wish them to
run afoul of either the Gate Guards or the ancient energies of the wall itself. Only those with proper chi, like himself,
could pass through unchallenged.
He walked out to
The first down
the starship’s exit ramp was obviously an Earther by heritage. His skin was pink like Naylund and Sarah’s
skin, not yellow or orange like the Gaijinese.
The boy that followed the man in the fedora hat, though, was a Nebulon,
blue-skinned and yellow-haired. The boy
looked Naylund directly in the eye, and revealed himself as a telepath by doing
so. Naylund was not a Psion himself, but
had come to know them because Sarah was a telepath, born of a Psion mother who
died mysteriously during the birth.
Naylund, extending a hand in a gesture of welcome, “welcome to the planet,
Gaijin, Honored White Spider.”
“Why do you call
me that?” asked the sharp-eyed man in the fedora hat. “I am Ged Aero. I am here because a Psion told me to
come. I don’t know you. Why do you call me by that name that I’ve
been hearing so much lately?”
“I hate to be the
one to break it to you, Ged Aero, but by stepping out of that starship, you
have fulfilled an 800-year-old prophecy.
The people here will hail you as a god reborn. You are like Jesus Christ to them. You are here to teach them, and lead them out
of their millennium of isolation.”
“Perhaps you are
mistaken. What if I am not the White Spider
laughed. “Shan’s Prophecy tells how you
would speak those very words when you arrived here. The people would not follow a White Spider
that never doubted himself and acted without reserve. Those are the qualities of a Black Spider. We have too many of them all ready.”
Ged looked the
old man in the eye. Naylund could see
something there he had never seen before. This man was a different sort of Psion. He was a changer, one who could change himself,
and by doing so, change the worlds around him.
“Exactly who are
you, old man?” asked Ged.
Naylund-sensei. Naylund Charles Smith,
Doctor, Adventurer, and Scholar. I am
from Earth, but from long, long ago.
Ged-kun, I will help you in your new role as leader of this planet. I pray that you will learn to love it as I
said the little blue boy, “who is this lovely girl?”
Naylund looked at
the bright-eyed boy. He was a handsome
child with the beautiful powder-blue skin of a superior race of beings. Naylund felt attraction to him immediately,
though he had no idea yet why.
“This is my daughter,
Sara Smith. I pray that you both will
learn to love her too, just as I do.”
is said that life in space exists on a spider’s web of invisible star
lanes. A photon drive can propel a starship
only through certain well-defined mathematical probability arrays to a new
location in geometrically-and-gravitically-folded space. They work basically by popping in and out of
reality, though you can only precisely describe the physics of it in mathematical
terms. So, of course, there are those
who claim that if space is filled with spider webs, then God himself must be
the Great Spider who spins it all.
roared into orbit around the bright blue planet that filled the life zone of a
star listed on the charts as The Old Yellow Man. It had been identified as a habitable system
before, but no one had dared to come this far beyond the Imperial Borders to
colonize before. At least, no one these
spacers knew about.
“This is a
spectacular world,” said Vince Niell.
“Yeah, man,” said
Nikki Sixx. “Like a toatally gnarly
Ged chuckled at
the verbal density of his crew. You have
to be happy with the pick of the litter even if the dog pound only has mutts.
“What do your
sensors pick up, Cold?” Tkriashav asked Cold Death.
“Wha…?” the white-skinned
panel, you thick…” grumbled Ged.
“Oh,” Death said. “Signal from the third moon of the big gas
planet, man. Like, ancient dudes put a
scout base there. Dead zone, dude. No life.”
“Other signs of
civilization?” asked Tkriashav.
in the third orbit. Also, dead
zone. One moon around this planet. None around the planet in the first
orbit. Also, dead zones, dude.”
“What about the
planet below us?” asked Ged, beginning to grow impatient with the brain-dead
zombie stoner at the sensor panel. “Are
there people or signs of civilization on this planet?”
“Whoa… Like two
billion people. Not human, man. Humanoid, but definitely not human.” Cold death shook his green Mohawk hair-do
like a horse shakes flies off its mane.
He was definitely not human either.
“Vince? Do you think you can land safely?” asked Ged.
man. I can put her down on a dime. I’ve never had such a sweet girl under my
control before. Yeah, baby!”
Ged ground a
frustrated fist into his temple. He knew
there was something important about this mission because of Tkriashav’s
damnable clairvoyance, but he felt he needed to know what. Was it something for his own good? Or something for the greater good that would
mean sacrificing his own life? He wanted
to be able to make those choices himself.
“Cold Death? I’m gonna hate myself for having to ask this,
but do you find any signs of a starport down there?”
field! A flat patch! A place to put down where we don’t go
CRASH! BOOM! And blow up!”
man. Major city with walls, flat all
around, dude. Gnarly!”
“You see it,
Vince?” asked Ged.
“Ugh! What does that mean?” Ged looked at Xavier Tkriashav. Tkriashav merely shrugged.