I hold in my hands now, the first two printed paperbacks of my two 2019 novels… AeroQuest 1 : Stars and Stones, and When the Captain Came Calling. Both novels were not actually written in 2019, but both were finished and published this year.
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.
This, for me, has been a very difficult and bad week. But I will have to tell you about that in the future post after I find the funny parts hidden in the suffering. The good news for today is that I got the book I have been rewriting published.
The two spaceships finally locked together belly to belly in the middle of a barrel roll. Dalgoda’s fireball was tearing itself apart from inside. Flaming projectiles tore free on every side of it, sparking out in airless space. Meanwhile, Tron’s Pinwheel Corsairs were bathing the two spiraling space dancers with hot laser fire. Two of the six corsairs had a pretty decent lock on Trav’s ship and were peeling more chunks off the drive core.
Ham, “can you get the Goofer out of his ship before it blows?”
“I can try,” said
Ged, more to himself than to Ham. His brother was busy trying to fly the
ship in a carnival-ride maneuver.
down the hatchway ladder to the ventral docking port. The metal around
the port doorway was already glowing red from heat. With a moment of
panicky concentration, his hands grew fire-lizard scales all over them, like
gloves that appeared out of nowhere. How did he do this thing?
Well, he had to admit to himself that as a safari leader, he’d skinned more
than a few of the fire-resistant xeno-beasts in the past twenty years. He
knew the feel and look of the skin quite well. He had even tasted
fire-lizard flesh. His protected hands
could spin the locking wheel of the heated door and throw it open without
singeing his fingers off.
You’re a hero.”
Ged expected to
see the thin, eye-patched face next, but instead he found himself looking into
the beautiful blue face of a Nebulon woman.
“Who are you?”
Ged asked with open mouth.
young lady with the yellow hair just shrugged and eyed Ged like she didn’t
“She’s part of my
treasure, Ged!” called a goofy voice from somewhere behind her. “Pull her
into your ship. Not all Nebulon slave girls speak Galactic English, you
Ged pulled her
into the Leaping Shadowcat.
blue-skinned boy with bright yellow hair was held up next to be rescued.
“He’s the son of
the Nebulon Princess.”
I’m greedy, not perverted!”
argue that. He pulled the boy in too.
“Where’d you get
the cool lizard gloves, Ged?” asked Trav as he clambered through the doorway
and eyed the scales with his one uncovered eye.
“I kinda made
them,” Ged answered sheepishly.
“Is our boy, Ham,
ready to jump out of this mess?”
“I hope so.”
Trav hauled a huge anti-gravitic cargo-bag into the ship after him and slammed
the portal door. “Eeyow!” he cried as he burned holes through the fingers
of his own gloves. It was fortunate the Goof always wore those stupid
white gloves. They saved him from burning flesh off his fingers.
“Ham, you can let
‘er go!” hollered Ged into his commo dot. The communicator was glued
comfortably to his throat.
They heard a rumble
as the Leaping Shadowcat released her grip on Trav Dalgoda’s nameless ball of
flame and melting hull. The rumble was followed shortly by a huge boom
and jarring shockwave.
the Goofer up here. We’ve got big problems with his corsair friends.”
widened. “What happened that made that shock wave?”
exploded and took out two of the trailing corsairs.”
Goofy, “I hope Maggie and Tron are all right. They’re good friends of
“Do I read the
situation right?” asked Ged. “If they live, they are going to kill us?”
“Well, yes, but I
still love Tron like a brother.”
unhappily. He wished he lived in the same alternate universe as Trav
I am a novelist. In the same way that a pianist is a pianist because he plays music on the piano, I am a novelist because I have written 12 novels and published eleven of them. I am not a professional novelist. I have made $1.75 in royalty payments for August 2019. But not being a successful writer for money does not prevent me from being a novelist.
So, don’t be surprised when I say that I have strong opinions about what a novel is and what it should be.
First of all, a novelist must also be an avid reader. Not merely a reader of other novels by other novelists, but of anything and everything. Essays, plays, non-fiction books about a wide array of factual things, and pseudo-factual things, and conjecture, and conspiracy theories, and poetry, and science books, and Mark Twain, and Isaac Asimov, and Charles Dickens, and Ray Bradbury, and comic books, and graphic novels, and more, and more, and more… for as long as your brain shall work. A novelist should try to read everything, because to be a good novelist, you must know everything. Certainly you must know far more than what you actually write down into novel form.
A good novelist must be good at short fiction as well. Because a novel is more than just one story. It is made up of parts. I call them Cantos. Most writers call them Chapters.
But whatever you call them, or even if you don’t give them separate titles or sections in the novel, they are like short stories in themselves. They must have their own lead sentence, their own beginning, middle, and end. They must have their own end line, or punch line, or thesis statement. And they must have, by their end, a point to make about setting, plot, character, or theme.
A novel is layer cake of little stories, each layered upon other layers, and all baked together into the same over-arching cake.
And a novel, when it is published, is never really done. Sequels, prequels, and serialization are always possible and sometimes even necessary. Rewrites and new editions are also a thing. And even in the mind of the reader, the novel never really ceases to have an effect. I still carry around A Tale of Two Cities in my head everywhere I go, and through everything I do, even when I am writing my own novels. Sidney Carton is very much alive to me, even though he dies at the end of the novel.
So, there you have it. A bunch of burbling about novels from an unsuccessful novelist. For whatever it is worth, I am truly a novelist. And I do not apologize for being that sort of low-down, despicable sort of human being.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.