Category Archives: NOVEL WRITING

AeroQuest 1… Canto 2

Adagio 1 – Googol Marou

Sometimes a good historical tale requires the right story-teller to really explain it correctly.  Sorry, you are stuck with me, Professor Googol Marou.  I am an astronomer and physicist, not the kind of story-teller I knew so well when the events I will try to relate to you actually happened.

I am not calling this bit “Chapter Two” like an ordinary writer with writing sense would.  No, I am following the unscientific metaphors that Ged Aero himself always used when telling a story.  He talked about the universe as if it were a symphony played by musical instruments that don’t make sounds.  Their musical notes are actually lights and energies, physics, if you will, or some such nonsense as that.  So, the first chapter was called a “Canto”, a section of poetry or lyrics, intended to be sung out loud.  This little pile of narrative nonsense is primarily exposition, a part that is probably good to know about, but it won’t kill you if you skip it.  It won’t kill the story either… hopefully.  I may also use “Nocturnes” in the course of this tale, classical movements of romance and sensual beauty.  And I am looking forward to the “Scherzos”, the short interludes of comic musicality and brief relief from the heavier fare.

My over-all plan for this tale is to tell you how a group of teachers were able to make history and change the Galtorr Imperium of a Thousand Worlds, turning it into the New Star League, even though the stars in it were billions of years old.

Now, you might wonder how it is that a group of teachers were able to conquer and realign the very stars, especially since they didn’t know they were teachers at the outset, but I swear it is true.  I’m not the liar Trav Dalgoda was.  And, even though I didn’t personally witness everything I intend to tell you, I did participate a bit.  And, I was able to learn even more through my special telescope.

Space in the era of this history was already partially colonized by human beings who originated on Earth. Four branches of Earthers had reached out to the stars and planets of the Orion Spur of the Sagittarius Spiral Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy.  The Texans had created the Coreward Union of Inhabited Worlds, also known as the Pan Galactican Union.  Those fools in their plasticized cowboy hats had a way of running roughshod over the galaxy until they met forces more determined and self reliant than they were.  I don’t apologize for Space Cowboys, there really is no excuse for them, but they were a necessary part of the cultural mix that preceded the New Star League.

The Japanese had reached out to the Trailing Area of the Spur and their colonies disappeared from known space. Many thought they had run afoul of a powerful alien menace.  In some ways, it was probably the truth.  Still, the inscrutable Space Samurai would come back to haunt us in a new incarnation.  It would prove to be the right thing at the right time.

The Southern European Union had branched out towards the Nebulas of the Leading Edge of the Orion Spur.  There they founded an exclusive humans-only Empire called the Classical Worlds.  They were so pig-headedly convinced of their own perfection and superiority, that they took to living everywhere as Space Nudists, shaping the environment to accommodate the human form rather than making any adaptations themselves.  These descendants of the French, Italians, and Greeks adopted Greco-Roman dress and culture, and I mean the Ancient form that had served the original Greeks and Romans back on Earth, the culture of social nudity and reverence for the naked human form.  They were very enlightened about philosophy and science, but as buck-naked people, they had absolutely no fashion sense.  They were also unusually prejudiced towards any intelligent being that wasn’t human.  They never seemed to figure out that most humans weren’t really intelligent beings.  Still, in the long run, we needed them too.  Good thing we didn’t have to look at them often… well, unless we really wanted to.

And finally, the Eastern European Space Initiative had made maximum use of their discovery of the humanoid lizard Galtorrians found in the Delta Pavonis Star System on a planet known as Galtorr Prime.  They established their Imperium in the center of the Orion Spur.  Something about the Germans and Russians just naturally dove-tailed with the lizard peoples of Galtorr.  The Galtorrian lizard-men and humans became the first genetically altered, melded race in known space.  They were able to take advantage of the many genetic similarities between humans and reptiloids for the purposes of making the two species into one, the Galtorrian Imperial Lizard Race.  They were like humans in every way, even mostly blond-haired and blue-eyed, but their snake-like eyes had vertically slitted pupils. They discovered they could thrive in Earth-like worlds and hostile Galtorr Prime-like worlds equally well.  They used their supposedly superior breeding to field vast space armies and navies of powerful starships and began conquering their neighbors.  This, of course, included the conquest and devastation of the Earth itself.

The Galtorr Imperium had been established almost 500 years before Ged and Ham Aero started the Great Outworld Expansion of 5526 C.E.  People would come to call the Imperium the “Thousand Planets” because of the 1,212 inhabited worlds in the 882 stellar systems it had conquered or colonized.  It was not the securely settled Orion Spur that I am sure you enjoy now.  It was necessary to keep an active scout service even in the heavily populated center of the Imperium.  Information traveled only as fast as the fastest starships, and one end of the Imperium rarely knew what was happening in the other end.  There had been a need for the Galtorrians to fight three Jihads and five Unification Wars.  Pirates and Privateers were everywhere.

No merchant traveled safely. New colonies often disappeared without a murmur.  Delivering goods meant risking life and limb.  Of course, some of my best friends were pirates at one time.  You shouldn’t really hold that against them.  But it is no wonder that an outworld expansion required someone of great courage and character to step out of the general darkness.

Now, I’m sure you are wondering, “Who are you, Professor Googol Marou, to be telling us about the distant past over so many light years of space?”  Well, that would be a good question.  I’ve been described as a “total nut-job” on many occasions. I know what I’m talking about, though, because I’ve studied history in action through the Marou Ancient Light Holo-Assembler Telescope (the MALHAT).  It takes the collected light from the stars and planets we see, and reassembles it in a holo-recording that shows what happened at the moment those light particles reflected off the event.  The true genius, of course, was in finding the quantum shape-memory in photon particles and building a re-assembler.  That means that to view the past as it was 500 years ago, all you have to do is look at it from 500 light years away and gather 500 year old light.  This I could do from the relative safety of a space platform or space ship.  I mostly preferred a scientifically-oriented lab ship, but also found Ham Aero’s quaint little hunting ship serviceable as well.  And, I invented this wonderful thing.

I won’t lecture you now on the fierce repressions of the Galtorr Imperium.  Most of that goes without saying, and if you’ve heard of them at all, you know it is true.

I know you are probably still marveling over the simple brilliance of the Marou Ancient Light Holo-Assembler Telescope!  I can’t blame you.  I’m still amazed that I invented it.  It makes me have to stop in the middle of my thesis just to marvel at myself.  Wow!  Aren’t I wonderful?

What I will tell you, though, is that the Aero brothers left known space because Ged was slowly transforming into a rare form of Psion known as a Shape-Changer.  Like the telepaths, pyros, savants, teleporters, and telekinetics who made up the usual run of Psions, shape-changers could make use of their entire brain system in a conscious way to control the universe around them by mind power alone.  That is not to say that they were any smarter, wiser, or more moral that the rest of us, just unusually gifted with special brain powers.

The Imperium hated Psions because they were so much harder to control.  They actively hunted, persecuted, and, often, even executed Psions.  I, myself, am not a Psion, but you will note in the course of this history, when I come into the picture to play a key role, that I have a real affinity for Psions and their way of life.  So, as the story continues, please don’t doubt the veracity and mental stability of my observations.  I’m a genius, after all.  My inventions prove it.

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AeroQuest 1… Canto 1

Canto 1 – Escapade

When you look out the portal of a space craft, especially a large portal like the main view-port of the Leaping Shadowcat, you get a glimpse of the great orchestra of light and silence that has been playing its music in space since the dawn of time.  The diamond-bright stars glow with an electric melody in a great sea of black, littered with the silent notes of the Galactic Symphony written on the face of the universe, and being conducted by God himself.

Ged Aero stared at this silent music as he contemplated his brother’s plan.  Ham Aero had proposed the impossible.  How could it be the only solution?

“You can’t deny it any more, Ged.  The Galtorr Imperium is no place for a man like you.”

“…but the unknown, Hamfast?  How can you expect to get by beyond the edges of known space?”

“Others have done it in the past.  You know that civilization still has not absorbed even half the worlds that Martin Faulkner visited five hundred years ago.”

“Yes,” said Ged, pulling at the front brim of his dirty brown fedora as if to hide his eyes and the doubt that was in them, “but he was an explorer.  He knew how to live in space without any human contact for years on end.”

“What he can do, we can do.”  Ham pushed a fall of thick yellow hair out of his eyes.  It had been far too long since he had had a haircut, but only their mother had been allowed to do it, and she was now gone.  “We have to.  Prejudice against you has reached the point that it will be fatal.”

“Okay, I know that.  But I’m learning to control it.  I don’t have to change all the time.  I can stop it when I need to, and maybe even start it myself.  I don’t know why it happens, but I think I can make it work for me instead of against me.”

“Yes, well, mutations like yours are almost always fatal in the end.  You’ll slip at the wrong moment, and the Imperials will have your head on a platter.  What did they call your disease?”

“Lycanthropy.  Werewolf disease.”

“That’s my point exactly.  We both know it’s really something else, but the torches will come out to burn you the next time they see you change even a little bit.”

“Unknown space, Ham?  Does it have to be unknown space?”

“Yes, Ged.  Unknown space.  It’s my spaceship.  The decision is ultimately mine.”

It was a beautiful space ship.  It was a safari cruiser of the Xenomorph Class, a smooth airfoil shape with silver skin and a photon drive that could leap across parsecs of space in practically no time.  It could land on planets with atmosphere as easily as it could glide through the electric sparkle of space.  It had a good, sturdy ground ATV and accommodations for as many as twenty-five people.

“So how do you plan to navigate the unknown?”  Ged knew Ham was a capable starship captain, but they had no reliable navigator.  And the third member of their minimum crew of three, the engineer, was not even aboard.

“Goofy can do it.  He’s more gifted than you believe.”

“Don’t tell me your friend Trav Dalgoda is the engineer we’re waiting for!”

“Okay.  I won’t tell you.”

“Are you insane?  You’re going to jump out into unknown space with that Lunar Tick as our only means to fix the ship and set our course?”

“Yeah,” said Ham, grinning.  “It doesn’t sound too smart when you put it that way.  But he is an original thinker and a good problem-solver.”

“He’s also wanted on four planets and owes ten million Galtorrian credits to the biggest Vice Lord in the Thousand Planets.”

“Yeah.  It was easy to talk him into jumping out with us.”

“Oh, I’m so glad it was easy.”

The two brothers had started calling their boyhood friend, Travis R. Dalgoda, “Goofy” when, as an academy graduate, he started wearing an eye patch over his left eye even though he could see through it perfectly.  It didn’t hurt that he always wore that silly Donald Duck sailor’s hat that he got on his one and only leave on the Disney planet.  He also had a thing for ties with weird pictures or sayings on them.  Trav was one of a kind.

“I guess I understand your plan finally,” Ged said morosely to Ham.  “You’re going to bring an end to my suffering by committing suicide in deep unknown space.”

“Yeah,” said Ham staring out the view port at the silent music of the stars, “Something like that…”

At that moment, a blazing piece of space junk trailing sparking debris came fluttering toward them like a wounded sparrow.

“Oh, gawd!  Get to the co-pilot console, Ged!”

Whatever it was, it was maneuvering, using powered flight.  It was apparently seeking them out.

“Any bets that this burning space-ball is Goofy?” Ham asked as he strapped himself into the pilot chair.

As if in answer, Trav’s voice came over the ship-to-ship commo.  “Ham-boy!  You gotta help me.  I picked up a band of followers on my way out of system!”

“Yep.  That’s Goofy,” moaned Ged.

“I’m pickin’ up bad guys!” shouted Ham.  He flipped on the commo.  “Goof?  You got six of them on your tail?”

“Oh, is that all?  My sensors are out.  I figured it was more like fifty.  Pinwheel Corsairs, ain’t they?”

“Yes.  I make them to be Tron Blastarr and Maggie the Knife.  What’s your beef with them?”

“Oh, they’re friends of mine.  I helped them loot a cargo out of Mingo Downport.  They just didn’t like the ninety-ten split I left them with.”

“Typical,” muttered Ged.  “They got the ten, right?”

“Could I split it any less fair than that?” Trav answered. Ham launched the Leaping Shadowcat into an arching intercept course.  Ham had never done a high-speed docking maneuver before, that Ged knew of, but the young pilot was about to learn fast.

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What Next?

So, now that I have finished another novel that I have been working on for more than twenty years, I have decided to turn away from the hometown novels and take up some science fiction/humor again.

And I, of course, am not smart enough by any stretch of the imagination to avoid choosing my disastrous first novel from 2007, AeroQuest. This particular novel is spectacularly in need of a serious overhaul and re-write.

First of all, it has too large of a cast with new characters introduced in almost every Canto (what I inexplicably re-name chapters). Likewise they are interacting in too many different settings and planets and spaceships without enough individual explication of each. It screams out in agony to be divided into smaller chunks and both expanded and simplified.

The first book, Stars and Stones, will be centered on the planet Don’t Go Here. That, of course, is a bizarre world populated entirely by sentient beings who were marooned on the planet by pirates and space wolves. Even more bizarre, the populous has responded to a growing population with limited resources by adopting a caveman culture based on a lone cartoon holovid of The Flintstones.

The characters and the plot-lines will be pared down and simplified.

And, having done some work on AeroQuest 1 already, I also got a headstart on AeroQuest 2 by creating a cover for it.

My daughter, the Princess, created this space background for me.

So, you can clearly see that my daft plan is to re-write that simply awful book as a trilogy. A Sci-Fi trilogy? Wherever did I get a foolish idea like that?

Well, I always claimed that the original was half-inspired by Frank Herbert’s Dune trilogy, and half-inspired by Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. So, that should make for one seriously off-kilter mutant amalgamation of a book series.

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Filed under artwork, humor, new projects, novel, novel plans, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, Uncategorized

Transition Time

I have reached the point that I have to change the novel I am showing you on Tuesdays. When the Captain Came Calling is in the final proof-reading stage where I am almost ready to publish.

Now, I need a replacement.

I have decided to use the wreckage of my out-of-print disaster of a novel, Aeroquest as the new Work in Progress.

So, here is a look at the initial cover art mock-up for the re-vamped Aeroquest1.

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The Captain

In my newest book When the Captain Came Calling, there is a fantasy character who is basically an invisible man. Captain Noah Dettbarn is the captain of a ship called the Reefer Mary Celeste. It is an ill-fated ship on a fatal voyage. It runs afoul of a mermaid with man-eating intentions, a witch-doctor with a hungry volcano-god to feed, and a beautiful young girl who bewitches the captain.

All of this happens in the log book of the mysterious invisible captain who has returned to the Iowa farm town where he was born and raised just as the local kids’ adventurer’s club, the Norwall Pirates, is being re-organized with a girl as their leader.

Today’s first Paffooney is an illustration that I intend to use in the book.

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Saturday Is Art Day… Again

I draw things as illustrations to stories. Take, for example, the protagonist and hero of Catch a Falling Star.

Dorin Dobbs is boy from Iowa. That tells you some terrible things about him right there.

He was ten in 1990.

He hated girls.

He met some pretty green-skinned girls from outer space, amphibianoid frog-girls with fins on their heads. He danced with them to Mickey Mouse Club music while he was their prisoner on a sectet base on the planet Mars. They were dancing naked in the nutrient bath that all Telleron tadpoles use daily.

Brekka and Menolly are two of the Telleron frog girls with fins on their heads. They love Earth music in the 1990’s. They are background characters in Catch a Falling Star. They are main characters in the book Stardusters and Space Lizards, where they help Davalon and Tanith to conquer the dying planet of Galtorr Prime after the Telleron invasion of Earth failed in the previous book.

Tanith and Davalon (the Telleron boy in front)
Sizzahl of Galtorr Prime, Ecologist and Lizard Girl

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”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

Galtorr Prime is undergoing drastic climate change and environmental collapse and ends up being saved by superior Telleron technology and the lizard-girl heroine, Sizzahl, who has a plan for fixing the atmosphere and saving fundamental eco-systems. Of course, this is all science fiction-y stuff based entirely on fantasy and imagination and has nothing to do with the real world we now live in.

Millis, transformed from pet rabbit to near-human

Of course, not all characters I illustrate are people or aliens.

Millis, Tommy Bircher’s pet rabbit, is an ordinary albino bunny who eats a piece of alien technology that evolves him into a talking, walking-on-two-legs, near-human form.

He becomes the chef (who cooks only vegetable dishes) for Norwall, Iowa’s own mad scientist, Orben Wallace, in the book The Bicycle-Wheel Genius.

Orben Wallace, and his favorite bicycle, The Happiness Machine

I think I have now given out far more spoilers for stories than I have any right to do. But the thing about character illustrations is that your get to know the characters at a glance. And to know them is to love them.

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When the Captain Came Calling… Canto 29

Canto Twenty-Nine – In the Arms of an Angel

When Valerie awoke, she was no longer on the ground.  Someone was carrying her and she had someone’s jacket wrapped tightly around her bare body.  Someone was gently, tenderly lowering her into a bed loaded with comforter and quilts.

“Be careful of her head, Ray,” said an older woman.  Valerie vaguely became aware that a young man or boy was holding her, and lowering her onto soft bedding.  “How did you ever find her in such a condition?”  The woman was Patricia Zeffer, Ray’s Mom.  Valerie looked groggily up into the face of her rescuer.  It was Ray.

“I found her in the alley behind Martin’s Bar and Grill,” Ray said with deep concern in his voice.  “She was just lying there, completely nude and unconscious.  Did you call someone?”

“I am going to in a minute.  I will call the hospital in Belle City for advice.  Then I’ll call the poor dear’s parents.  I just needed to get a look at what’s wrong with her.”

“She’s awake,” said Ray, smiling down at her as he pulled a quilt over her.

“Oh, my poor, sweet girl,” said Mrs. Zeffer, “whatever happened to you?”

“I… I’m not entirely sure.”  Valerie’s voice was shaky and soft, almost too quiet to hear.

“Did you see if she was bleeding anywhere?” Mrs. Zeffer asked Ray.

“She had some bloody scratches on her shoulder and back, maybe from an animal.”

“Are you in pain, dear?”

“No…  I mean, only where the cat clawed me.  It stings.”

“Why were you in the alley naked?  Did something terrible happen?”  It was obvious from the look on her motherly face that Mrs. Zeffer wasn’t too sure she should be asking this question.

“I… I don’t know.  I was with Mary Philips and Pidney Breslow.  I’m afraid they may be hurt worse than I am.”

They didn’t hurt you, did they?” asked Ray.

“Of course not.  Someone else…”

“Do you know who?”

“Mom, you better call the sheriff too.  They will need to find Pid and Mary and make sure they’re all right.”

“Yes, yes, of course.”  Mrs. Zeffer hustled out of the bedroom headed for the phone downstairs.

“Ray, um… you found me naked?”

“I’m sorry,” said Ray.  “I could see you needed help.  I put my jacket on you.  I… um… didn’t look too hard.”

“Ah… it’s okay.  You saved me.  You and Barky Bill.”

“The Martins’ dog?  He fought off your attacker?”

“Well, yes… kinda.   I think he killed my attacker.”

“He did?  I didn’t see anybody lying there in the alley.”

“Well, you wouldn’t have.  It was a cat.  I think the dog ate him.”

“You were attacked by a cat?  Come on, you have to tell me the whole story.”

Valerie did.  She filled Ray in on everything he probably didn’t already know.

“Wow, that’s really messed up,” said Ray.  “The witchdoctor wants you as a virgin to sacrifice to the volcano, but the cat wanted to eat you?”

“That’s how I understood it.”

“I’m glad the cat didn’t eat you.”

“You… ah… Ray… can I ask you something?”

“Yes, Val.  I can’t promise I know the answer, but you may always ask.”

“Thanks… uh, Ray… you saw me naked in the alley?”

Ray blushed and looked away from Valerie’s face.  “Yes, I’m sorry.”

“You don’t have to be sorry… but… um… am I the first girl you ever saw naked?”

“Well, I…”

“I know you never had any sisters…”

“No, I didn’t, but…”

“I mean, it’s okay if I’m your first.”

“You aren’t.  Mary didn’t tell you about me, huh?”

“Well, yes, but… I mean, no… well… what was she supposed to tell me?”

“About why I need friends now?  Why she thought I needed to be a Norwall Pirate?”

“About why you are so sad all the time?”

“Yes.”

“No, not really.”

“Well, you see… um, I have a girlfriend already.”

“You do?  And you’ve seen her naked?”

“Um, yeah.  You see, she’s pregnant.”

“She is?  Who is she?”

“Carla Sears from Belle City.  She’s the prettiest girl in my class.”

“And she’s gonna have a baby?”

“Yes.” 

“Your baby?”

“Yes.”

“So, you’re gonna get married, then?”

“No.  Her parents won’t allow it.  They blame me for the whole mess… and I suppose they’re right.”

“She’s going to have the baby all by herself?”

“Well, that’s one of the things they are talking about… I mean…”  Ray’s eyes were filled with tears.

“You mean they might…?”

All Ray seemed to be able to do was nod.

“Oh.”  Valerie’s eyes began to gush tears too.  “I’m so… sorry… I mean…ah…”

She reached up and put her arms around Ray’s neck.  When she did, the quilt and the jacket fell away, revealing her naked self to him.  She was past mere embarrassment, but she held on.  He cried against her neck.

As he struggled for control of his emotions, she knew they had to talk about something else.  Anything else.  The walls around them were painted a warm, sunny yellow.

“This room is very pretty.  Is it your room?”

“No,” he said simply.  “It was my brother Bobby’s room.”

“Your brother?”

“The one that died before I was born.”  Ray had enough control to pick up the fallen jacket and put it back around the naked girl.  “I never knew him.”

“That’s sad too.”

“Yeah.  And hard.  I was the replacement child for Mom and Dad.”

“Replacement child?”

“They knew if they had another child, especially a boy, that he could be a hemophiliac too, just like Bobby.  But they took the chance anyway.  They were heartbroken by his death, and well…”

“So, they had you.”

“They did.  And now I’m…”

“You would be a great dad, Ray… if they… um…

“Yeah… but they won’t.”

Valerie squeezed him tightly.  She was beginning to see things in a way she never had before.  Ray was worthy of love.

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