Science fiction, even if it is comically trying to exaggerate everything and satirize current-world character types, oh, and parody Star Wars and Star Trek, it still needs to truthfully engage with science facts and the basic truths that make the universe operate.
My book that has space pirates as central characters uses a fundamental truth about people. People who lead hard lives and have a lot of difficulties to overcome tend to become better people. But people who have things handed to them (by inheriting a planet because you are immortal or by the magic powers granted to you by Ancient artifacts) tend to become corrupt and criminal.
The book is the first of a five-part series of which the first three are already published and available on Amazon. And this book is free from now until Tuesday, the 21st. Click on the link above and get yourself a copy of the e-book.
If you are as goofy and cartoon-obsessed as me, you may remember that Popeye the sailor was known for the catchphrase, “I yam what I yam”. And if you do remember that, it will not surprise you that, when told a yam is another name for sweet potato, Popeye was furious. “It cannot be!” he argued. “I would not say I sweet potato what I sweet potato! That’s ridicumess!”
Well he has a point.
But I would like to talk today about the things that I sweet potato, and why I sweet potato those things.
First of all, I yam a humorist.
I yam this thing not because I am funny. You may think I yam funny because I say really goofy things for no apparent reason, and then keep on talking long enough to convince you that I did have a point to make, but my brain leans so far to the left that I am hardly right about anything.
And I make bad puns a lot.
You see, I have to use humor constantly to deal with all the hard things in life, because being too serious in the face of the world’s basic uncaring cruelty only leads to depression and taking a beating from life. In fact, I can think of any number of situations in my past where I avoided a beating only because I made a joke that made the bully laugh.
So, being a humorist is a survival tactic. Humor keeps you alive.
You see someone like me has to face all the pain and heartache and cruelty the world has to offer by using humor. The real reason is that, when faced with a bad situation, if the humor gland can’t empty itself of all the jokes it produces, it will begin to swell. The humor gland is located either in the brain or maybe in the behind (I am not medically qualified to tell you which it really is), and it can only swell to a certain point, and then it will explode. This is very bad thing for you, if you survive it, and certainly unpleasant for anybody nearby.
But the joke, properly launched at the target, will make somebody laugh, even if it is only the humorist himself. And laughter is the best medicine. Unless it kills you. You have to be careful not to die laughing. The angels will be offended, and the demons will all laugh too.
But I yam not only a humorist. I yam also a teacher.
I began to realize that I might be a teacher when, in graduate school to get a remedial master’s degree to help with the fact that plain English majors all starve to death, I discovered I had a talent for explaining things in simple terms. And then, immediately afterwards, I discovered I had an even greater talent for being ignored while the people I was explaining to made the mistakes they wouldn’t have made if only they had listened to me, before they failed spectacularly, and then realized how the solution I had explained would’ve made them succeed instead. There is apparently no better way to learn an important lesson.
Teaching is, of course, a pretty cool job. You tend to have the summers off. And you get paid for summer because they split the amount of money you earn for the year (which considering what a babysitter makes on average per child and per hour is far too little for the hours you put in) into twelve monthly pittances.
Of course you are expected to have a university degree (although no teacher college in the world can teach you what you really need to know in order to face that many little monsters… err, darlings… every day) and preferably some grad school, and a certification to teach in your chosen subject, and an additional certification if you are going to teach more than one subject (and ESL and Speech and Journalism, all of which I was expected to teach, are separate certifications) and you have to take hours of additional training every single year, and you have to get re-certified every five years, and… Well, you have to be basically smarter and much better-educated than Bill Gates… But the school janitor will probably be making more money per month than you do.
Anyway, it’s a job you just gotta love. I yam a teacher.
And really, there are a whole lotta yams in my basket yet that I could tell you about. I yam a Red Skelton fan. I yam sometimes a nudist (when I don’t have to put on clothes to keep myself from scratching all my psoriasis-plagued skin off). I yam also an artist (of the type known as a cartoonist). I yam pig-headed sometimes, and I yam Grumpy sometimes (so I go from being Porky to one of the Seven Dwarfs.) I yam a lotta things. And my sweet-potato basket is large.
But I can’t talk about all of my yams today. Too many yams are bad for my diabetes.
But here’s one last yam. I yam a storyteller. And I have a free Kindle e-book promotion this weekend. The book is the first in my series of AeroQuest books. It is a science fiction story with a humorous bent. And I mean, it is seriously bent in some places.
So, click on the link and get yourself a copy. It’s funny. And I will save the other sweet potatoes for another day.
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
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.
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.”
unknown, Hamfast? How can you expect to get by beyond the edges of known
“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?”
“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.”
Ham? Does it have to be unknown space?”
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
“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!”
won’t tell 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.”
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
At that moment, a
blazing piece of space junk trailing sparking debris came fluttering toward
them like a wounded sparrow.
Get to the co-pilot console, Ged!”
Whatever it was,
it was maneuvering, using powered flight. It was apparently seeking them
“Any bets that
this burning space-ball is Goofy?” Ham asked as he strapped himself into the
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!”
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?”
make them to be Tron Blastarr and Maggie the Knife. What’s your beef with
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.”
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.
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.
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.