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Aeroquest… Scherzo 4

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Scherzo 4 – Rolling a Twenty

“So, Trav Dalgoda does it again.  Your total roll of the dice with your skill of plus eight added to it is an impossible success of twenty.  You fly the burning spaceship into a curly-patterned rendezvous with the Leaping Shadowcat.”

“That’s a load of bull-puckie, Mr. M!” said Arturo.  “He always rolls a perfect twelve on two six-sided dice!”

“You agreed that he could use his jack-of-all-trades skill to do this.”

“But it’s a plus eight!  That is just too unfair for a skill you can use to do almost anything.”

“You let me spend all my adventure points on that one skill,” Eddie said.

“He’s right you know.  And besides, if he were to fail that role, then the two ships could crash, killing your two characters as well as his.”

“And mine too!” said Amanda.  “Trav rescued Madonna from the slaver pirates of Mingo remember.”

“Yes,” said the game master, “and her little blue son too.”

“Aw, that little bugger is just an NPC that you put into the story.  I really don’t care if he dies.”

“Eeuw, cold-hearted woman!” said Eddie.

At that moment, Dr.Hooey opened the front door of the young teacher’s apartment.

“Oh, hello.  My time machine must’ve had another brain fart and brought me to the wrong time and relative dimension.”

“Wait a minute,” said Eddie, “Who the hell are you?”

“Yes, exactly, but maybe hell is a bit too strong.  My name is Dr. Hooey.  I am looking for a place to leave a baby from the distant future.”
“A baby?” Amanda gasped.

“Oh, yes.  And who are you, young lady?”
“I’m Amanda Lilliput and this is my boyfriend Arturo Castrovalva.”

“Would you like to raise a baby from the future?”

“Um… no, thank you.”

“May I ask what you people are actually doing?”

“It’s a science fiction role-playing game.  These former students of mine are all playing space-faring characters in a space adventure set in the distant future,” said the goofy-looking teacher.

“Oh, my.  That is somewhat worrisome.  Are you sure you don’t want a space baby from the future?”

“Oh, I do!” said Eddie.

“No, he really doesn’t,” said the teacher.  “Thank you anyway.”

So Dr. Hooey left and closed the door behind him.

“That was weird,” said Arturo.

“Mr. M, I need to make a new character for the game,” said Eddie.  “He will be a time traveler, and I will call him Dr. Hooey.”

 

 

 

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Living On After Writing

I finished a novel over the weekend. It was one of those novels that you have to write before you die because anything short of finishing it would leave your whole life incomplete.

So, now that it is finished, I can go ahead and die, right?

4clownsWell, of course, it is not as simple as that.  I created a cover for it.  But it is not proofread and formatted and I have to give it time to cool down, being fresh out of the oven, before I read it over again, make adjustments, and publish it.  And I have two other novel drafts that haven’t yet reached the published state of being.  So, I better put off dying for just a bit.  Any clown can tell you that giving birth to a novel that you have been composing for 4o years and writing down for six months takes a lot out of you.  And you have to stop and take a breath.  At least one.  Before you forge ahead with the next one.  I do have Recipes for Gingerbread Children already formatted and I am working through the final edit.  I am still in poor health yet and could drop dead at any moment.  My computer is all funky from some sort of virus, hopefully not computer flu… or computer black death.  So, I am still in a mad rush to beat an unknown deadline beyond which I am really dead.

I don’t have the luxury of dying yet.

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I have to deal with the death of another beloved character,  I can’t seem to write a comedy adventure novel without killing somebody at the end of it.  Shakespearian comedies all end in marriages, and it is the tragedies that end in mass deaths.  But like any clown, I have most things backward in my life.  You learn that as a teacher in public schools, you really are just another form of professional fool pursuing your profession foolishly.  That is kinda what life is for.  And it doesn’t change when you retire and try to become a foolish writer of foolish novels to leave behind as a foolish legacy to a whole foolish world.

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But, as for the question of whether there is life after writing… I really don’t know, and I am still not ready to find out.

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Another Novel Done

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I finished another rough draft novel last night.  And when I say rough draft, I really mean I have pieced it together at a rate of about 500 words a night, about two nights per Canto (What Mickey inexplicably calls a chapter), with revisions and editing already complete.  Of course, there is no such thing as a final draft.  The majority of my novels have been plotted and planned and created over the last 40 years of my life.  I will continue twiddling, correcting, and messing with all of my novels until I drop dead.  But this draft I just finished is actually 95% finished and almost ready for publication.  The books I have lined up now for a final effort are Recipes for Gingerbread Children, The Baby Werewolf, and finally including Sing Sad Songs.  Look for all three of them soon.

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Aeroquest…Canto 40

 

Aeroquest banner aCanto 40 – The Thin White Duke

      Castle Orpheum was a completely enclosed and very unusual under-water city.  The Dancer Downport was on a floating platform anchored nearly a mile above the city dome.  The vast underwater dome could only be reached by commuter submarine.  It was isolated and difficult to reach, yet a critical link in the chain of interstellar commerce, as well as the shadier parts of the “package industry”.

To reach it, one normally had to surrender all personal security to the good will of the Blackhawk Corsairs.  They were as much pirates as they were protection, though.  Aero and Cloudstalker both didn’t want to risk trusting them.  So, Ham Aero had flown the Leaping Shadowcat straight into the world-wide sea on the planet Dancer.  When they located the entry base on the top of the city dome, Arkin Cloudstalker communicated his intentions directly to the Thin White Duke.  Miraculously, Castle Orpheum opened to them and allowed them in without ever consulting the Blackhawks who ruled there.  The ship was parked in the main vehicle bay where it had ample room.  The crew locked it up and headed down a lift shaft into the city itself.

“We are going to have to be careful here,” said Arkin to the crew.  “Razor Conn is a good man, but his organization is full of less than trustworthy types.”

“Didn’t this planet once belong to a Mechanoid?” asked Ham.

“Khoolbas DiQuiri, yes.  He was half computer, half lard.  The fattest Mechanoid ever re-animated.  Razor Conn took over this planet and this city from him.”

“Is he dead then?” asked Duke Ferrari.

“No, Han,” said Arkin.  “Half of this planet’s artificial systems run through his computerized brain.  If Razor had killed him, this planet would lose atmosphere and become a giant ice ball again.  He’s a prisoner, but he’s still alive somewhere here in Castle Orpheum.”

As the access port to the lift shooped open, the crew stood looking at a Chinese man in a black suit with a gangster hat and black cape.

“Greetings, gentlemen.  I am Shad Blackstone, Razor Conn’s number two man.  I’ve come to take you to the White Duke.”

Nothing more was said.  In a single file line, the group followed the mysterious caped Chinaman into the city streets.  Castle Orpheum was a detailed reconstruction of 1930’s Chicago back on the planet Earth.  Everyone dressed like Al Capone and the only vehicles allowed in the city were 1930’s-style roadsters with photon-battery engines.  Many openly carried ACR’s (advanced combat rifles) shaped like Tommy guns.  Molls and urchins roamed the streets trying to con the toughs into cutting them in on the action.  It was like an alien culture to the crew of the Shadowcat.

“What’s with this place?” asked Duke Ferrari.

“It has style,” said Blackstone mysteriously.

Most of the buildings they passed were styled as theaters, speak-easies, and pool halls.  Most, however served functions different than they appeared to, and almost all had private dwellings in the upper stories.  The dome’s sun-source and artificial lights were set on a kind of permanent twilight, making the whole place eerily like the set of a film-noire movie.

Shad Blackstone led them into a building marked as Keyser’s Old-Style Brewery.  The six guards they saw wore Blackhawk combat armor and carried plasma guns.

“No one breaks in here, do they,” said Ham.

“Are we gonna get shot at?” asked the Lupin boy, Sahleck Kim.

“No,” said Blackstone, “at least, not by us.”

The party entered a small computer room to be scanned.

“This is Fortunato Tomb,” said Blackstone, introducing the Kritiian with the four scanners.  Tomb was an insect-man from the planet Kriti 5.  He had a brown carapace and four hands.  He walked upright on his hind two legs.  In the face he looked like a huge praying mantis with multi-faceted eyes and big, sharp mandibles.

“Hold still and this will go quickly,” said Tomb with a creepy voice coming through a universal translator device he wore on his abdomen.

“Where’s your hat, bug man?” asked Trav.  “Everybody else in this place has a gangster hat.  Or maybe I should call it a Ged Aero hat?”

“I ate mine, monkey man,” said Tomb, “but I’m still hungry.  Maybe you’ll be so kind as to hand me yours?”

Tomb ran the scanners over everyone, though no one would say what he was looking for.  Trav held his gob hat in his hands the entire time.

“Gentlemen,” said Blackstone, “it is time to head into the inner sanctum of the Thin White Duke.”

A bookcase rolled away from the wall to reveal a secret staircase.  Shad Blackstone led the way up the stairs, which re-sealed after they all had passed.  The inner sanctum was styled after a public library with numerous book racks and tables that left ample room for study.  There were computers and holo-displays built into the surface of every table.  A few leather-bound paper books were open and spread about on the tables.

The Thin White Duke himself was obviously well nick-named.  He had white hair, a white suit like Mark Twain, and was rail thin in an almost emaciated way.  He also wore a white half-cape over his left shoulder.

“So, I am honored by your visit, Hannover Ferrari,” said the White Duke.

“We had no choice,” said Duke Ferrari plainly.  “You are the Sector Duke, and we can’t operate in your sector without your permission.”

“Nothing illegal, I suppose?”  The White Duke arched an eyebrow.

“Well,” said Cloudstalker, “we plan to rebel against the Galtorr Imperium.”

“I know your plan.  I dispatched agents to this planet Don’t Go Here and I have information for you about Ged Aero’s journey to a planet called Gaijin.  I would like to know what you are planning to do about the ancient relic that your Goofy Dalgoda plans to steal.”

The group was astounded by the revelation of the depth of the White Duke’s intelligence sources.  Ham Aero turned red in the face on Goofy’s behalf, but Trav himself showed no change of expression at all.

“Uh…” Arkin Cloudstalker tried to say, “we never actually… um… approved Dalgoda’s plan.”

“Don’t panic, my friends.  Razor, Shad, and I have talked it over carefully.  We want you to take the thing.  It is dangerous beyond belief and we don’t trust anyone to handle it more than Ged Aero.”

“What is this thing?” asked Ham, alarmed.

“We’ll examine it tomorrow.  For now, let’s just say that we are planning to give it to you.  In return for taking it off our hands, I will help you with your rebellion.  The planets Dancer, Regal One, and Inchon will join your alliance.  We no longer claim White Palm.  That was Nefaria’s planet, and the Count disappointed me greatly in his recent dealings.  He and his Expedition One archeologists have another ancient device buried somewhere that, if I knew where it was, I would give to you.  My agents are supposed to try to make things happen in the Imperium, especially since the Emperor went insane, but Nefaria started dealing in the darkness with things I can’t control.  I won’t have it.  My agents all answer to me.  My allies merely have to swear that they are on my side.”

“You aspire to be Emperor yourself, Duke Keyser?” asked Duke Ferrari.

“No, Han.  I expect I will be supporting YOU for the next Emperor of the Galtorr Imperium.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Clowns Complete

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Clowns in Color

    Clowns Complete

          Clowns with Smelly,

                    Great Big Feet!

The picture I have been working on of the clowns of Sing Sad Songs is now finished.

These are the clowns;

  • Mr. Dickens (Boz) the clown of character
  • Mr. Shakespeare (the Bard) the clown of creativity
  • Mr. Disney (Diz) the clown of comedy
  • Mr. Poe (with his pet raven Nevermore) the clown of consequences

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Aeroquest… Adagio 8

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Adagio 8 – Mechanoids

At this point, it is important that you know the difference between a Metalloid and a Mechanoid.  They are not the same.  The two terms are not interchangeable.  The differences are critical to making your way through the modern galaxy. You should probably also know what a simuloid is, but I don’t want to overtax your little brains just now.  After all, there’s a better than eighty percent chance that, as you are reading this, you probably don’t have an electronically enhanced mind.

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A Metalloid is what Sorcerer 4 was.  It is an entirely artificial life form.  Syn Corporation is the most dominant manufacturer of Metalloids, but artificial intelligence and artificial emotions have made them independent of their original makers.  Many Metalloids were made not for sale by a factory, but by a parent robot who simply wanted to reproduce.  Often, Metalloid parents use pieces from their own bodies to manufacture offspring, replacing the part taken from them later on.  They almost always gift their robo-child with a piece of their own intelligence.  Hence Metalloids can be very much like humans in their make-up and mental profiles.

I apologize for my prejudice here.  Unless I forget to tell the story of the Great Robot Pie Fight, you will see why I hate robots.  They are nasty!  They are inscrutable.  I would rather not spend time with them.  Well, with the exception of the occasional Metalloid entertainment girl-robot.  I admit to kinda liking those.

Mechanoids are an entirely different story.  To be a Mechanoid, you must have first been a living being.  Dead bodies are brought back to life through a marriage of flesh and circuitry.  Minds are reloaded from computers and usually are kept as emotion-free as it is possible to do for a living mind.  Dead and decayed flesh is restored as far as it is possible to do with the primary level of technology common in the galaxy.  The Mechanoid is a true machine-man, more so than any titanium Metalloid.  Well, machine-man, machine-woman, machine-child, or machine-horse as the case may be.

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Now, I know it has been said by many observers that Mechanoid beings actually remember portions of their previous lives as a living being.  I mean to show proper respect to those who claim this, but that is a load of hoo-haw.  It is not physically possible for that to be true.  I have studied the physics of the question and know this with certainty.  The re-animated one cannot retain the electro-chemical memories of their previous life.  Death effectively removes the data from whatever is left of the brain, even if we are talking about someone intentionally turned Mechanoid while they were still enjoying a healthy life and then carefully preserved.  I would maintain that any story to the contrary is impossible, and induced by the various psychoses that Mechanoids are susceptible to.

Mechanoids are often violent and mentally unhinged.  They are more akin to ancient concepts of the un-dead than they are to the people or creatures they once were.  They live, yet their life and life-quality do not fit into the normal range of what we call life.  I imagine most, if not all Mechanoids wish for an end to their unnatural life, and like the Rot-Warriors, I examined on the planet Mingo, they actively sabotage their own chances for survival.

There are a few exceptions to every scientific rule, but my mind is closed on this issue.  If Ged Aero or Arkin Cloudstalker could neither one convince me, then I will never be convinced.  After all, they had experiences with Mechanoids that, on the surface, appeared to disprove my thesis.

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Aeroquest… Canto 39

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Canto 39 – the Wisdom of Solomon

The Palace of One Thousand Years was empty save for five people.  Ged Aero was about to teach his first official class.  With him were three students, Junior Aero, Sara Smith, and the quiet Gaijinese boy of ten known as Shu Kwai.  Junior and Sara wore only silken loin cloths.  Shu Kwai, in the Gaijinese tradition, would wear no clothing he had not earned.  His light orange skin was bare to the single sun, the Old Man.  The three students were kneeling on the practice grounds.  On a bench three hundred feet away sat Dr. Naylund Smith, watching intently.

“I may disappoint you three,” said Ged softly.  He pulled the brim of his fedora down to completely shield his eyes from the bright sun.  His ceremonial robes flapped slightly in the breeze.  It was the unconscious pose of the hunter… or perhaps the wary predator.  “I have thought a lot about what to teach you this day, but I haven’t a clue.”

Shu Kwai had not spoken a word since his parents had brought him to the palace.  Now he raised his brown eyes to Ged and looked at the master without changing his solemn expression.  “Aero-sensei, you are the White Spider.  Anything you say is destiny and probably the Word of God.”

Ged laughed softly.  “No pressure here, huh?”

Junior and Sara looked at each other and grinned.  Shu Kwai focused like a laser on Ged’s every word.  The grim boy did not smile or move a single face muscle.

“Well, here goes…  My mother back on Questor used to read from the Christian Bible to Ham and me.  We took many important lessons from it.  I know you three probably have not studied it, or even heard of it, but it was the greatest book ever written on the planet Earth.”

Sarah nodded.  The two boys showed no signs of recognition.  Ged knew he would have to have a sharp memory to carry this off.

“The secret, I think lies in wisdom and discipline.  These are two of the qualities that a wise king named Solomon used as major themes in his book of Proverbs.  In Chapter 3 he said about discipline “the discipline of Jehovah, O my son, do not reject and do not abhor his reproof, because the one whom Jehovah loves he reproves, even as a father does a son in whom he finds pleasure.”

“I find pleasure in having the three of you as my students.  I will provide not only facts for you to learn, but discipline as well.  If I correct you, it is because I know a better way and it shows evidence only of my love and respect for you.”

“Who is Jehovah?” asked Junior.

“According to the Bible my mother read, that was the name of the one God, the creator of the universe.”

“What if we believe in the Tao?” asked Shu Kwai.

“I will try to teach you better, but I will not argue with what you believe.  All I am saying, students, is that if I must offer discipline, it will be only loving reproof.”

“What will you say about wisdom?” asked Sara.

“Solomon said about wisdom… “Happy is the man who has found wisdom and the man that gets discernment, for having it is better than having silver as gain and having it as produce is better than gold itself.  It is more precious than corals and all other delights of yours cannot be made equal to it.”

“What wisdom will you teach us, Sensei?” asked Sara.

“I don’t know everything yet.  I am supposed to teach you about what I already know, and what I am learning about being a Psion.  You three all have the powers of a Psion?”

“Junior and I are both telepaths,” said Sara, “but he can talk to machines and computers, while I’m a healer.”

“I’m a telekinetic and a telepath,” said Shu Kwai.  “I nearly burned the house down in the night when I was dreaming.  I threw a candle across the room and made logs fly out of the burning fireplace.”

“How interesting!” said Ged with a fixed smile.  “You are all mind-readers, and I am not.  I am a morph.  I’m a shape-changer.”

“The best that ever lived, I heard,” said Shu Kwai.  “My father said no shape-changer ever changed size before as you did in the arena against the Black Spider.”

“My father says you came to save us,” said Sara.  “He said you have the discipline and the morality it takes to help us avoid becoming a monster from our Psion powers.”

“I will do what I can, but as I said, I really have no idea how to teach you.”

Naylund Smith came walking over to them clapping his hands.  “That is one of the finest lessons I have ever heard, honored Ged-dono.  Wisdom and discipline!  This whole planet needs that.  If they all had it, perhaps the plague of bandits and black spiders would end.”

“I hope I don’t let you all down.”

“You cannot,” assured Dr. Smith.  “The boy is right.  You are destiny.”

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