Friends & Lovers of Sci-Fi: Here’s a Shepherd-Blog special peek at the cover of the upcoming Star Lawyers Origins Book 3 : Secrets of Rahjen (release date Sept. 2019), plus an excerpt from the opening sequence. Get a cool drink, sit back, and stand by for a steamy opener. (Who says nerds can’t have a love life?)
Excerpt from Star Lawyers Book 1 – Jump Gate Omega
Matthews Trade Embassy
Suryadivan Prime – Near the Galactic Rim
22 March 3104
A double life-sized bronze image dominated the reception area, an African-Asian woman in lab coat looking upward through the glass wall at the city skyline and visible stars. She held an old-style clipboard under arm, and her hair was swept back into a ponytail.
“Tanella Jennings,” Tyler whispered, loud enough for J.B. to hear.
“A thousand years later,” his brother said, “and we’re still following in her footsteps.”
Tyler wandered through the crowd and touched the base of the bronze statue. The others joined him. “Ironic. She designed the first functional FTL propulsion system, but never left the Earth’s surface.”
“That’s controversial,” Demarcus Platte said. Tyler and J.B. laughed politely. Demarcus did not appear amused. “Boss, you never read the Palmer Journal? Her best friend claimed they were abducted by aliens when they were teenagers.”
Tyler shrugged. “No offense, Inspector, but nobody takes that story seriously.”
“Well, some people do,” Demarcus grumbled.
Rosalie studied the memorial. “Quite a woman. I’m glad Daddy sent her image out here to the Rim.”
“Not just Jennings—look.” Tyler gestured to a pair of bronze works farther down the glass-roofed lobby. Even from this distance, the subjects of the metallic statuary were unmistakable. One had a dog by his side. Tyler recited the names like a space-traveler’s prayer. “Aurelio Lupetti and Brian Brightstar.”
“Two greatest captains in human history.” J.B.’s voice quivered with emotion. “Commander of the first faster-than-light starship, side-by-side with the foremost deep space explorer of them all.”
Rosalie smiled. “And his pit bull, Riley,”
Tyler took a deep breath. “Hero worship is adjourned. Let’s focus on tonight’s mission.”
Note to readers of the Star Lawyers books:
Star Lawyers Origins tells the stories of those three pioneers in human exploration of the galaxy in three trilogies. The first set—Stardate, Bad Moon Rising, and Secrets of Rahjen—and features Tanella Jennings-Blake ad her friends.
Star Lawyers Origins is a new series, which compliments the Star Lawyers books and brings a whole new set of voices from different eras along the time line in the Star Lawyers Universe. Not all Star Lawyers Origins will feature young central characters, but when the narrator or point of view character is a teen, I have downshifted the adult language and frank sensuality found in the Star Lawyers series to a “PG” rating, opening the first two Origins adventures to a wider set of readers.
So far, the formula seems to work. Those first two books, Stardate and Bad Moon Rising, have received warm praise from readers literally from Middle School to retirement complex. As storytellers from Disney to Isaac Asimov to George Lucas and James Cameron have shown, there is something universal about an adventure tale well told. Perhaps you will find the Star Lawyers Origins books worthy of that great story-telling heritage.
Now we move to Book Three of the spin-off series, The Secrets of Rahjen, which requires a caveat to readers who enjoyed Stardate and Bad Moon Rising. Although Book Three brings the central characters in the trilogy together again, seven years have passed and they are no longer middle schoolers but full adults. The language content and sensual interactions must shift accordingly.
Mark and Keshikka are lovers; Tanella Blake is no long a child prodigy but has earned a Ph. D. in theoretical physics and married Dr. Perry Jennings; and airhead Sally Ann Palmer has become a highly sought computer programmer. If the trilogy were motion pictures instead of books, parts One and Two would likely be rated PG, Book Three Secrets of Rahjen would be rated R due to factors (language, adult situations, etc.) which classify movies today.
Just like people do, the kids of Stardate and Bad Moon Rising have grown up. The next level is spicy, frisky, sexy, and sometimes a little naughty, as the adventure, humor, and romance continues during the early days of humanity’s march to the stars.
Welcome back to the expanded Star Lawyers Universe.
Technology doesn’t change who we are, it magnifies who we are. The good and the bad.
When your time comes, and it will, you’ll never be ready. But you’re not supposed to be. Find the hope in the unexpected. Find the courage in the challenge
You won’t be here for the end of the story.
Tim Cook, Appel CEO
Stanford University Graduation
Sunday, 16 June 2019 T.C.E.
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Sally Ann Palmer / 16 June 2019
* * * * * * * * * *
Prologue: Scientific Union
Palo Alto, California
Black sky wore its brightest stars like diamonds scattered across the roof of the city when Perry Jennings parked his dilapidated Mustang convertible on the top tier of the student parking facility. He turned to his date, the brilliant doctoral student Tanella Blake, and smiled slightly but made no move to open the doors or close the distance between them. They were platonic friends. So far.
Dr. Jennings turned in his seat but leaned back against the door, as though he wanted an escape hatch available. “You’re a lot of fun to be with, Tanella.”
“Fun?” She smiled slightly. “I’ve been accused of many things, but never that.”
“My internship is ending this term. I need to start teaching and doing original research.”
Her smile faded. “Will you be leaving?”
The physicist shrugged. “Should I stay?”
“Do you have the option?”
“I have an offer here at Stanford, another at Princeton.”
“So, you could stay here indefinitely.”
“Theoretically, yes. But I’ll become an instructor, which means we can’t continue these lively conversations over Pizza Hut fare.”
Now she frowned. “No fraternizing.”
“Is there any way around the problem?” She pulled out her phone and Googled the specific policies they would be violating. “I could talk to Campus HR, write a release.”
He shook his head. “They won’t allow instructors to socialize with graduate students. Understandable in today’s Me, Too climate.”
“Our dinners infused with physics and politics have kept my sanity,” she said. “But I don’t want to damage your career.”
“Good. I have a workaround to propose.”
“Oh?” She perked up. “I thought you said we couldn’t—”
Tanella’s full lips opened but no sound came out. She turned away while Perry argued his hypothesis. “Stanford can’t object if you go to dinner with your spouse. And if we agree to cohabitate, it will save rent. Doesn’t that make sense? We’d make such a great team. Intellectually, I mean.”
“Intellectually?” Tanella stared out the windshield at the Palo Alto cityscape, avoiding his eyes.
“Yes! You’ll earn your Ph.D. next spring. Think of what we can accomplish as a couple if—”
“Marry you?” She glared at him. “You’ve never even kissed me.”
Now his mouth dropped open. “I… I always assumed you just wanted companionship. Someone who could usually keep up with your ideas, who understood the math.”
“Perry, you’re a good physicist, but not that good.”
“Why have you continued to have dinner with me—”
“Dinner? This isn’t dinner, it’s Pizza Hut!”
“If you felt that way, why have we—”
Tanella grabbed her head. “God! Do I have to write the algorithm for you?”
Perry cowered at the door, hand on the latch. “I don’t understand. I thought you wanted to talk physics, politics—”
“As the great American philosopher Sally Ann Palmer once said, ‘You are a fucking idiot.’” She grabbed his hand and pressed it to her breast, leaned against him and they kissed. Not a peck but a deep, tongue-tickling, heart-thumping Frenchie.
“My God, Tanella. Where did you learn—?”
“Extensive research in the literature of foreplay and coitus.”
“You read porn?” Perry stared at her, like he was seeing this lovely African-Asian, whom he had dated almost a year, for the first time.
“Steamy romances,” she said. “No fade to black.”
“Enough theory. Let’s experiment.”
They kissed again and this time Perry caressed her boobs as she moaned softly. The kiss lasted through three changes of traffic lights on the street below. He finally gasped, coming up for air.
“Does that mean you accept my proposal?”
She jingled her apartment keys in his ear. “Ask me again after the honeymoon.”
Sometime in the night as they rested between sex, Perry rubbed her shoulders and whispered, “You were a virgin.”
“The sheets will wash.”
He slapped her bare bottom playfully. “How could someone as lovely as you—”
“Oh, pooh. Even I recognize that classic male strategy. Tell a smart woman she’s pretty and a pretty woman she’s smart.”
He rolled her over and they kissed. “I surrender. No strategies. I’ve loved you from the first day you bounced across my vision field, bent on capturing a Stanford doctorate single-handedly. I thought, ‘She must be dating somebody…’ So it took me months get up the courage to suggest physics-talk over pizza.”
“I never found any men to talk with. Sure, I was approached frequently. But they were all undergrads who couldn’t—I don’t want to sound dismissive… But they couldn’t communicate with me.”
“Didn’t you want a boyfriend for something other than communication?”
“Tell you the truth.” She propped herself up on one elbow. “Many a night after studying all day I would pick up a lusty-busty romance novel and dream about alternative realities. Some Universe where I’d march into an off campus bar, pick up a guy, and give it up. But I never did. Couldn’t make the math work.”
“Glad you waited?” he said.
“I am still testing that hypothesis, but the results are encouraging.” She touched his cheek. “I’m so incredibly comfortable with you. Here we are, jaybird naked, and it feels… natural.”
Perry entwined his fingers with hers. “‘Come, my queen, take hands with me, And rock the ground whereon these sleepers be.’”
She laughed. “Playing the Shakespeare card already, Professor? Out of fresh ideas, or catching your breath?”
“None of the above,” he said as they came together again.
Perry and Tanella made love in her single bed until dawn, then slept past noon and missed classes and assignments. She had never ditched before in her long years as a student. Perry was a good lover, and they found they were compatible in more ways than intellectually.
“You feel so good,” he said as they coupled yet again in early afternoon. “Why did we wait so long?”
“Run that Sally Ann quote in your head,” she said, wrapping her legs around his lean body. “And keep screwing me.”
They were married two months later under the domed ceiling and stained glass windows of Stanford’s Memorial Church with a few hundred friends, family, students and faculty in attendance. Her father, Dr. Nathaniel Blake, gave the bride away, and lifelong best friend Sally Ann Palmer was Tanella’s bridesmaid. Perry asked his younger brother to take a break from Harvard Law to be his best man.
Life seemed perfect. She was ABD for her doctorate, Perry’s star was rising among the physics interns, and she had received a few indications Stanford was interested in her research proposals.
As she planned her final days as a graduate student over Perry’s superb triple cheese omelets, newlywed Tanella Jennings was not aware of the order issued by the Lower Horde of the Lutzak Eparchy condemning her to death. While she reviewed the final proofs of her dissertation, a platoon of Lutzak assassins boarded an assault frigate for the journey to Earth from a ringed world in a star system eight thousand light years Rimward of the Terran sun.
Life in the Bay Area was too good to think about anything but years of married love and physics research ahead. Besides, even if Tanella had been told of the danger, she would not have believed it. She had demonstrated by her Ph.D. studies that Faster Than Light travel was impossible.