Secrets of Rahjen – Second Excerpt

Secrets of Rahjen - Book Cover

Here’s another excerpt from work-in-progress Star Lawyers Origins Book 3 – Secrets of Rahjen. To be released October 2019. (Exact date and pre-orders TBA.)

See the first excerpt of Secrets of Rahjen if you missed it!

In this passage, top-notch code writer Sally Ann Palmer and her married physicist friends Tanella and Perry Jennings are looking for exculpatory evidence to exonerate Tanella, Sally Ann and Mark Bricchetti, collectively charged with murdering Prince Ebbot, the Lutzak heir. Their search takes place in a dimensionally enhanced rainforest on the planet Rahjen, within the Estates of Warden Tall of Kina-Reilon. The first-person narrator is the loquacious Sally Ann.


Just because the Estates had this incomprehensible ability to expand without moving its outer walls doesn’t mean the ecosystem was a glorified video game. It was real and multiple-canopied, full of birds, bugs, and bonobo equivalents, with all the chattering sounds and pungent scents of a jungle on Earth. Like my first visit, the musty smell of decaying vegetation rose from the forest floor around me. Leaves and branches had begun to glow like sleepy fireflies, but soon the lightshow would commence in earnest.

With handheld datacom scanners bombarding them with data, Tanella and Perry Jennings had trouble focusing on the job we came here to do.

“Look, Perry! This forest is rife with biodiversity. And here’s something bizarre. I’ve isolated a grove with the exact chemistry and characteristics of Dracaena cinnabari, the ‘dragon blood tree’ of Socotra Island off the coast of Yemen. Sap of dark red resins, canopy like an open umbrella. To the left of the trail, see them? Not bio-luminous.”

“I see them.” Perry adjusted his glasses and squinted into a dark patch of the glowing woods. “Off the coast of Yemen, you say?”

“Yes, yes.” She nodded, her dark curls bobbing. “Socotra Island, called the most alien-looking place on Earth.”

“Maybe now we know why.”

“I wonder,” Tanella said. “Geologically, Socotra qualifies as one of Earth’s oldest islands. Did the specimens Dracaena cinnabari originally come from Rahjen, or did an Imperial starship take samples before H-sapiens left the trees?”

“Uh, excuse me?” I said. “Really hate to drag you guys away from the Nature Channel, but Tanella and me have a date with the hangman if we don’t find evidence from that squashed disruptive device.

“I’m sorry, Sally Ann,” she said. “You’re right of course.”

“Good. We find the evidence and use these datacoms to call Warden Taal’s people for a hop back to his teleport station. Now, if you’ll—”

“Perry, look!” Tanella’s nose bent to the datacom.

I groaned. “Quit playing with your smartphones and help me!” My God, I sounded just like my mom.

Tanella ignored my plea. “I’m getting a reading of high grade silicon with traces of gold, copper, nickel, cadmium, and germanium. Also half a dozen elements which don’t appear in the Periodic Table.”

Halloo?” I said. “Did anybody hear what I said? Me likey jungle planet, Memsaab, but no want die here.”

Perry pointed to his datacom. “Essay, these readings could be residual signatures of a high-tech device. She’s found it.”

“For real?” I perked up. “Where, where?”

“If I’m correctly deciphering this Miyosian direction-finder,” Tanella said, “traces of the disruptive device should be 605.2 meters, that way.” She plunged into the underbrush, holding the datacom before her like a magnetic compass.

“Don’t be so sure about the distance,” I said. “The dimensions of this whacky woods expand like a clown car. And there’s a lot of thick underbrush.”

I followed her and Perry into the glowing foliage. We hiked for about half an hour, stopping frequently while the physicists recalculated a Northwest Passage around impenetrable walls of vegetation. Of course, every new direction meant finding our way over leaf litter, rock outcroppings, broken branches, and your occasional curtain of vines stout enough to swing a dozen Tarzans.

Somewhere I took a wrong turn and lost track of the diligent duo, and for a few minutes it was me and Robert Frost, admiring the woods with promises to keep, minus a snowy evening.

When I caught up, they had stopped abruptly at a small clearing with a natural spring. Tanella was squatting by the clear water Asian-style, something she learned as a toddler from her late mom. (I can’t do it, neither can Perry.) I figured they’d paused to get a drink.

“Did you find the high-tech wreck?” I said.

“Shhh!” She held a finger to her lips and pointed to a furry lump near the water’s edge. It stretched four limbs and rolled into a fetal position, still asleep.

“What is it?” Perry said, kneeling to look closer.

“Huffik Horror,” I whispered.

This is your monster?” Perry said.

“Must be a baby Horror.”

“He doesn’t look horrifying at all,” Tanella said softly.

“How did it get here?” Perry 

“Maybe we misunderstood where his daddy lives,” I said. 

At first, Elya thought they were extinct. Then she assumed the Huffik Horrors roamed the Imperial protected lands beyond the walls of Kina-Reilon Estates. So much for her venerable Ziahra clairvoyance. This tiny terror could not have climbed the barrier and eluded security alone. Maybe a whole tribe of them lived in the Warden’s expandable sanctuary, or maybe a family figured out how to overnight here behind Taal’s forcefields to keep their infant safe from predators. Which meant his parents were frantically searching for their missing baby.

Weird. It was like I could feel Huffy’s shaggy presence, somewhere out there. Maybe all this stumbling around a psychedelic forest on another planet was turning me into a New Ager. Or a Witch! That I could get into.

“We should leave him,” Perry said. “Continue our search.”

“Yeah, he’s okay inside the compound,” I agreed. “Which way to the evidence?”

Tanella stood and checked her datacom. “We’re there.”

“There where?” I glanced around the little clearing, half-lit by pink and yellow neon bushes that surrounded the bubbly pool. “This ain’t the place where I found the Lutzak doohickey. It’s missing a big-assed, horizontal tree trunk.”

“You’re sure there was a fallen tree?” Perry said.

“I fell over it.”

Tanella raised the datacom and swept all directions. “No tree, but given your peregrinations and the aberrant readings indicating—”

“Speak English!”

“The evidence is here, Sally Ann.”

“Where?” I said.

She squatted beside the little Horror again. “He’s collected it.”

I squinted in the tree-glow until I could make out a dark red chunk of the disrupter box clasped in the little Horror’s hand.

“That’s it!” I said. “Well, maybe. It was night. The box was dark.”

Perry tapped his datacom. “Tee, I’m reading a thermoset polymer with a familiar molecular structure. Look at its primary resin.”

“Holy fuck,” Tanella gasped.

I blinked. “Did you just say—?”

“Straight from Dracaena cinnabari,” she said.

“The dragon blood tree?” I said.

“Somebody brewed that instrument package to read like it originated on Earth, then stuffed it full of Lutzak tech,” Tanella said.

“Somebody with access to this compound,” Perry said. “Somebody who knew a distinctive tree from Earth grew here.”

“Alien tech in a Terran wrapper,” Tanella said.

“Why would somebody that?” I said. “It incriminates everybody.”

Perry said, “Not enough data points to form a hypothesis yet, Essay.”

“We need to retrieve that chunk of the disruptive device.” Tanella glanced at me. “Can you do your Huffik-whisperer trick with the baby Horror?”

I knelt beside the little guy, feeling the soft compost of the forest floor squish beneath my romper-clothed knees. The chimp-sized, dark red primate’s rhythmic breathing meant he was sailing the clouds of dreamland with that chunk of vital evidence gripped in his hand.

“Huffy Junior…” I sang to him and petted his head. “Wakey-wakey.”

But he was either a phenomenally deep-sleeping creature or totally exhausted, because the four eyes remained tightly shut and his deep breathing continued. Before we ventured into the wilds, I had scored a handful of Miyosian protein bars. Drawing on lessons learned on my first trip, it occurred to me this babe-in-the-woods might wake up for a midnight feeding. So, I pulled one finger-sized doggie treat from the pocket of my green romper and waved it under his nose.

The four eyes squeezed tight, then curled opened a bit, like lids to pull-tab cans. His nose widened as he sniffed the protein bar, and so did his eyes. A pink tongue jutted from dark red lips, jabbed the edible, and snapped back into his mouth. The cheeks rose and fell as he chewed placidly, so I got a second bar ready.

Now he was fully awake and trained all four eyes on the blonde furless ape in dark green clothing who hand-fed him. He made a little whining sound, and I felt the conflict within him. Hunger and confusion, fear and hope, above all a yearning to be comforted.

So, like I did with his daddy, I reached out and offered the second treat, which he eagerly grabbed by tongue. While he was chewing I rubbed his tummy, which brought a response I’d never anticipated. Huffy Junior slid forward and snuggled against me, burying his head against my tummy. 

I put my arms around him and rocked the baby, who still clutched the chunk of plastic and circuitry from the disruptive device.

Of course. His toy comforts him.

Tanella smiled. Perry nodded. They kept their distance. Huffy chewed a third protein bar, clinging to me with his free arm. Then he sniffed at the datacom in my hand, so I showed it to him. He made a gurgling sound and started poking at the lighted squares but never released the chunk of red plastic.

I waited while he played. Sooner or later, I had to wrest that evidence from his grasp, but how could I steal toys from a baby? And then a cold chill rippled through me. What if his parents were dead? The world beyond the Estates was a wilderness preserve where creatures fended for themselves. I had no idea what combinations of giant insects or meat-eating predators roamed those lands. What would we do with an orphaned beastie like Huffy Junior? Surely Warden Taal must have employees or droids to—

Three swirls of light appeared opposite the spring, and when the teleported figures materialized each wore black body armor with visors down. They carried heavy blast weapons pointed in our direction. An electronically disguised voice spoke to me.

“Move away from the animal.”

Huffy Junior yakked in baby-babble, hopped to tottering feet and tried to hide behind me. He took my datacom and his plastic toy with him.

“Miss Palmer, step aside or die.”

“Kiss my Norwegian ass!” Well, I could’ve chosen the words better, considering they had space guns.

“I will not warn you again. Move or die.”

“Drop the weapons!” Perry’s arm flashed forward with a silvery blaster in his grip. Don’t ask me how he got it. “This is set to full kinetic.”

You are outnumbered, Dr. Jennings.” Two of the bad guys pointed their rifle blasters at the Jennings family. “Shall we kill your wife, or will you cooperate?”

Tanella side-stepped away from Perry. “Take out the leader with your first shot.”

“This is pointless,” the spokesperson in black said. “All we want is the missing piece.”

But I knew in my soul they were going to kill us, including little Huffy. When Perry relaxed slightly, looking to his beloved Tanella, the intruders moved to shoot us down. Reflexively, like defending against a punch, my hands jerked up, and when the killers opened fire so did I.

To my utter astonishment, light blazed from my upraised palms, deflecting their blaster shots. I watched myself hurl thunderbolts which struck the three attackers and froze them in place. Actually, I’d lifted them a yard off the forest floor, stiff as three life-sized statues. My limbs trembled from the flow of raw energy, and I knew it would be easy to crush these vermin with a thought  but I controlled the murderous temptation.

“How did you do that?” Tanella gasped.

“No fucking idea.” I lowered them to ground level and asked Perry to collected the weapons from their immobile hands. He tossed the deadly blasters one by one to Tanella, who laid them on the forest floor. Perry searched the containers along the legs and back of their body armor for other arsenals. He came up with clamshell-shaped devices like none of us humans had ever seen before. Perry handed the strange items to Tanella, who popped them in her pantleg pocket and zipped it.

Tanella asked Perry for the hand-held blaster and examined it gingerly. “Where did this come from?”

“Mark Bricchetti,” he confessed. “He showed me how to adjust it from stun to lethal settings.”

She shook her head. “Mark gave you a gun?”

“A weapon,” Perry said indignantly. “You recall, I served with the Air Force in Afghanistan.” 

“You were in data processing at Bagram Air Base! You enlisted for the GI Bill.”

Meanwhile, I had held my arms up for several years now and was getting tired. “Hey, Jenningses? I’m not the Energizer bunny. What do you want me to do with the bad guys?”

Tanella snorted. “Send them deep into the wilderness preserve.”

I laughed sarcastically. Then rainbow colors flashed from my fingers and the men in black went away. Disappeared. Vamoosed. Okay, that spooked me. But Huffy Junior squealed with delight and hugged my legs.

“Essay, how did you do that?” Perry said.

“How did she do any of it?” Tanella said. “Sally Ann, before today I was skeptical of your stories about Elya. Now you’ve displayed massive psionic powers without her help.”

“Elya’s consciousness was inside my head. Some of her powers must have stuck,” I said. “Does that make any scientific sense?”

“No, I think we’re in Arthur C. Clarke territory,” Tanella said.

When my nose wiggled with confusion, Perry explained. “Science fiction writer. Clarke said, ‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.’ Like the Ziahra, Duchess Eyla. Whatever science she taps into won’t make sense to us.”

“Like FTL?” I said.

“No, that’s one nut I’m going crack,” Tanella declared.

Watch for Star Lawyers Origins – Book 3 – Secrets of Rahjen release date early in October. Preorders available late September. 

Secrets of Rahjen (Star Lawyers Origins Book 3)

Secrets of Rahjen (Star Lawyers Origins Book 3)

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.

11100010 10000000 10011100 01001110 01110101 01101000 00101101 01110101 01101000 00101110 11100010 10000000 10011101 00001101 00001010 11100010 10000000 10011100 01011001 01100001 01101000 00101101 01101000 01110101 01101000 00101110

Translation:

“Nuh-uh.”

“Yah-huh.”

Sally Ann Palmer / 16 June 2019

*        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *

Prologue: Scientific Union

Palo Alto, California

March 2018

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.”

“Correct.”

“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—”

“Marry me.”

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.”

“But—”

“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.

Notes from Dr. Tom’s Desk: Star Lawyers Series Aliens

Star Lawyers

Sampler Weekly Feature #1

Progress Report on Book 5 – The Stellar Light Conspiracy: Book 5/TSLC is the most far-ranging, exciting Star Lawyers adventure yet. Four simultaneous jury trials in the midst of a Galaxy-wide conflict. I thought a good use of this Blog space would be to provide deep background on characters, races, deities, and cultures featured in the Star Lawyers series, notably in Book 5.

So, let’s set the scene before the feast begins. We start with order of battle information, intel reports on the combatants.

Hideki Tsuchiya of the breakaway Terran colony at New Osaka has provoked a war for dominance among starfaring powers of known space. The conflict pits a coalition of the Terran Commonwealth, the fearsome Parvian Republic, the blue/purple Quirt-Thymean Empire, and the humanoid red reptoids of the Tarkian Domain; against Tsuchiya’s self-declared New Galactic Empire and its axis of predatory star nations, including: the mudball Rek Kett, plus humanoids of the Zone of Wilmoth, Nosrika Domain, Lutzak Horde, and Zamkalon Purview.

Now, if you’re a normal reader, you probably zipped over that list with a combination of thoughts beginning with WTF and ending with WHO’ZAT? Rather than spread a thin layer of info about all combatants in one blog, we’ll look at one or two per installment. This information is scattered through the Star Lawyers books, including un-named volumes still on the drawing board in my head.

So, all you Blog-buddies get a special preview into the author’s works-in-progress. We begin with a member of Tsuchiya’s NGE Axis:

The Nosrika Domain

The Nosrika Domain consists of fifteen member worlds along the Orion Arm of the galaxy. Originally settled by explorers from the planet Nosrika, the Rimward edge of Domain Space now borders a group of worlds claimed by the far-flung Meklavite Union, a formidable foe the Nosrikans have avoided antagonizing.

Nosrikans are warm-blooded humanoids with tan facial skin and reddish fuzz on their arms, neck, back, and legs. They are sexually compatible with humans but not reproductively so. That suits them fine, since Nosrikans don’t intermarry with other species.

Their society centers around hunting wild prey, which has been the center of religious practice since prehistory. To maintain this link, Nosrikan metropolitan areas provide large tracts of forest and streams, and citizens sign up to hunt the required game animals once a Nosrikan year, about 620.5 days by the Terran calendar. They hunt in packs on foot with primitive weapons.

Tyler Matthews once noted that the Nosrikan game-killing spree reminded him of the Suryadivan Hunt which took the marsupial-amphibians to Adao-2 for a similar religious blood-ritual of carnivore behavior.

Nosrikan social order is based on an expanded tribal culture, similar to ancient Rome. At the lowest level are slaves, followed by freedmen (former slaves, manumitted), Pack Members (lower classes), Betas and Alphas (lower and higher forms of the aristocracy), and the First Citizens (ruling elite). All positions in the government are democratically elected, including the First Citizens, from the pool of eligible candidates due to birth, wealth, and legal status. Everyone but slaves can vote.

All citizens are eligible for election to the Grand Assembly and Regional Assemblies. At the very top of the Nosrikan pyramid is the High Leader, who appoints his ministers and staff from the classes above Pack Members. A First Citizen convicted of criminal activity would not be eligible for High Leader or participation in the Assemblies.

Religion in the Domain is considered a personal choice—as Terrans say, “Atheism to Zen”—and all forms of worship or non-participation are tolerated. The choice of most Nosrikans continues to be a modernized form of polytheism with an array of gods and goddesses related to all aspects of life. Like most modern polytheists, Nosrikans consider all these deities as expressions of One Divine Presence and Power undergirding all reality.

The Nosrikan attitude to outsiders and inferiors is far less enlightened. They buy and sell slaves at ongoing auctions in the city squares and consider this to be normative. They also consider any new planet up for grabs, even when inhabited by sentient beings. They have a medium-sized navy consisting of frigates, light and heavy cruisers plus mining and transport vessels.

Terrans call them an “opportunity expansionist power,” a star nation with expansionist goals that doesn’t tackle opponents with significant forces of their own. This bias was reinforced three centuries ago when the Domain attempted to seize lightly defended Quirt-Thymean colony worlds along their Spinward border and received a bad whipping from the Blue Navy. Malice toward the evil Quirt-Thymeans lingers to this day in Nosrikan lore.

In Book 5 – The Stellar Light Conspiracy the Nosrikans have an opportunity to pay back the Blue people for that humiliating defeat centuries ago. (Sorry. You’ll have to wait to see what happens.)

Next edition, the Blog will look a the “fearsome Parvian Republic” which is fortunately an ally of the Terran Commonwealth. In fact, one task assigned to Noah Matthews it to keep his Parvian friends from acting like they usually do, i.e., smash and destroy every adversary until their homeworlds are lifeless cinders. As Noah warns World Chief Executive Roland Rooney, “A tiger in your camp is a tiger nonetheless.”

Keep your datacoms open for incoming transmissions.

Tom Shepherd

Tucson, AZ

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR’S STUDIO

Note from the Author's Studio

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR’S STUDIO

Writing these books is great fun, as I’ve already told you. But there’s this other thing in an author’s life—besides everyday life—which keeps dragging me back to 21st century life. Marketing.

Independent authors (a.k.a., Indies) get no promotion budgets, book tours, or ad campaigns sponsored by commercial publishers. You’re it, Jack. (Or Jill.) Nobody will know you exist if the word does not spread by social media, reader reviews, and carefully placed advertising—on which the author expends time, mental energy, and meager resources.

All these efforts take time away from my ordinary place of duty, i.e., the bridge of the Starship Patrick Henry as I tag along with Tyler, J.B., Rosalie, Suzie, Mr. Blue, and the crew into courtrooms across the galaxy.

So this is a huge Thank you! to all the many auxiliary members of Star Lawyers Corporation who download the adventures of Tyler Matthews on their datacoms and follow the transcripts of their court pleadings and harrowing escapes. And don’t forget—M-double-I is now at war with Sakura House, so sailing an unarmed base ship across hotly contested Gate regions can make the battle for justice a whole different legal experience. If you keep posting reviews and sharing news about the Star Lawyers Universe, maybe their journeys will thrill and entertain new worlds of undiscovered readers…

Hurricane Warning – Bad Moon Rising (Star Lawyers Origins Book 2)

Bad Moon Rising

Hurricane Warning  – Bad Moon Rising (Star Lawyers Origins Book 2)

Unlike other books in the Star Lawyers Universe, Bad Moon Rising is not primarily a work of science fiction but a murder mystery set in the 21st century. Yet, without the events of this earthbound volume, humanity might never have traveled to the stars.

This is deep history, the foundation on which the 32nd century spacefaring civilization of the Star Lawyers series will be built.

There are hints of extra-terrestrial connections, like the mysterious Elya-Karoo, who identifies herself as an Observer from Miyos. But the richness of place and people unfolds on a barrier island in the American Deep South, where a handful of delegates have gathered for a secret peace conference to avoid a new, catastrophic war in the Middle East.

The central characters are young adults, and the story is narrated from a female perspective by the chatty, often irritating, fourteen year old Sally Ann Palmer. Bad Moon Rising drops readers into the early life of a giant. Before a mature Tanella Jennings would become a Nobel Laureate in theoretical physics for her work on Faster Than Light travel, Tanella Blake was an intellectually gifted teen prodigy attending public school in Georgia.

Late one summer, Tanella and Sally Ann found themselves on Barrier Island along the Georgia coast, in the path of a massive hurricane, during that secret peace conference. When the storm’s intensity increased, State Police ordered an emergency evacuation to the mainland, but the lone drawbridge broke down, forcing everyone to ride out the storm. Then Tanella’s father, Dr. Nathaniel Blake, was accused of murder, prompting Tanella and Sally Ann to find the real killer before the storm passed and the murderer got away.

Bad Moon Rising sparkles with close encounters. Cold blooded killers, drug smugglers, underwater escapes, and a storm surge that threatens to wash away century old buildings and all the people trapped on the island. And if Tanella drowns in the storm, humanity will never know a gateway to the stars has closed with her passing.

Watch for

STAR LAWYERS ORIGINS BOOK 2

BAD MOON RISING

FEBRUARY 14, 2019

Tom Shepherd

Tucson, AZ

Ethical Sub-Routines for Shepherd-Think

Censorship

Ethical Sub-Routines for Shepherd-Think

Welcome back to the starship Patrick Henry.

Except this voyage takes you to Pirate space aboard the creaky, captured Dengathi pirate ship Howling Tadpole. It also reprises the much-acclaimed courtroom cross-examination of Tanis Zervos by Prince Zenna-Zenn, a.k.a., Mr. Blue. And the trial takes place in a Pirate Courtroom, where the judge summarily executes convicted defendants and stun blasts court employees who fail to follow instructions.

What’s not to love about venues like that?

While writing the story, I wrestled with problems about how to create shady characters and let them talk authentically, knowing what they will say would be highly offensive in this age of enlightened sensitivities. I thought about making everybody politically correct, but the whole cast of characters—from Tyler to the sneering, racist, violent misogynists whom the Star Lawyers must cross examine—came to see me and demanded freedom to be what they were. And some of them are—well, see the above.

“Look, Tom,” Tyler said, “there are some bad guys in here. And the good guys don’t always sound nice, either.”

Suzie added, “But do let us prattle, luv. Your job is to take the ear-bashing from those gits who don’t understand that you are not us.”

“Oh, that’s peachy. You guys are en route the Ounta-Kadiis League. I’m here on 21st century Terra, explaining to friends and relatives why Captain-Judge Carman uses language that would get him thrown off the bench in any court system in America. He sounds like Donald Trump backstage at a beauty pageant.”

“You can handle it,” Tyler said. “If the morality trolls arrest you for sacrilegious and salacious content, call us via Apexcom.”

“If writing authentically still feels a bit dodgy,” Suzie said, “I’ll update your ethical sub-routines for the whole Series. Standard rates apply.”

Well, maybe they’ll give me a discount. My Galactic Credits account at the Bank of Rahjen is running on empty.

The Pleasure of Writing

All whining aside, writing this book was a flight of joy. Some sadness, too. And the story continues when Tyler reunites with brother J.B. in Star Lawyers Book 5 – The Stellar Light Conspiracy.

Look for it in late winter, March 2019. (I’m not promising Book 5 will be done by then. But look for it.)

And we’re aiming for the release of Star Lawyers Origins 2Bad Moon Rising by February.

Feel free to rave about the series to friends and loved ones.

Dr. Tom

Tucson, AZ

December 2018

PS: I’ve been contacted by Podium about the possibility of bringing out all the Star Lawyers books as a professionally narrated audio book series. More about that when the details are firmed up. As Rodney Rooney would say, “Wowzers!”

A little Bio-Diversity, Please!

Bio-Diversity on Alien Worlds

A little Bio-Diversity, Please!

A blogger’s plea for complicated ecosystems, climate zones, and cultures on hab worlds. A little Bio-Diversity, Please!

The word for today: Bio-Diversity

Bio-Diversity in Sci-Fi

I love Star Wars, but Lucas went off the rails when designing the backdrop for the central action in the original three films (now 4, 5 & 6). Not counting the mechanical planetoid of the Death Star, we get the desert planet Tatooine, the ice planet Hoth, the Cloud City of eternally overcast Bespin, and the forest moon of Endor. The only earth-like planet of the original trilogy, Alderaan, appears briefly in the cross-hairs of the Death Star before foppish Governor Wilhuff Tarkin blows it to smithereens. To mix in a little Trek lingo, was this a message? “No M-class planets need apply!”

Studies of habitability suggest no “higher” (i.e., sentient) life forms could originate on any of the planets Lucas allows to coexist with the humanoid Death Star makers. Desert worlds lack the basic life ingredient, water. Ice planets might have water (unless it’s frozen CO2), but eternal winters are simply too cold for anything but lichens or fungi. And life evolving on planets requiring floating Cloud Cities—really? That’s like Neil Armstrong landing on the moon in 1969, hopping out of his spacecraft, and looking for the nearest Starbucks. (They weren’t founded until 1971. NASA still awaits the first Lunar drive-thru.) And although forest moons like Endor might evolve simple life and maybe animals, the habitat lacks seasonal variability, which challenges a developing species to increase its brain size and invent tools and technologies in other to survive. Ewoks used stone-age weapons. Effectively, yes. But still… you know… primitive.

Climate, Biology and Cultural Diversity

What can be said about climate and biology can be multiplied to the Nth degree about alien cultures. (I never understood the need for math-speak in that Nth business. Why not just say a helluva lot?) Let’s talk about why sci-fi aliens often sit on chairs, eat at tables, and have an alcoholic beverage after a hard day of planning to invade of humanity’s homeworld.

Look at the diversity of Earth cultures. (Caveat: Sweeping generalizations follow. Let’s stipulate that exceptions exist and continue, please.)

First example, bathroom facilities. In multiple Asian cultures, sit down toilets do not exist. People squat over floor-installed porcelain toilet bowls or some other aperture to do their business. They consider the Western habit of sitting on a toilet seat—especially one frequented by strangers—to be incredibly unsanitary, and they are right. I have seen Asians on US Military bases adapt to our sit-down latrines by mounting the toilet and squatting on the seat. For real.

In some Asian cultures people remove shoes at the door and sit on the floor. Mats or thick rugs are common. Low tables hold food and drink. Speaking of food, Sri Lankans eat with their fingers, even rice. (They got a spoon for me, because they are Buddhists and amazingly kindhearted.)

In my Series

House of the Silent Moons

An extreme example of cultural differences: Japanese traditionalists will sit seiza, like this excerpt from my work-in-progress, Star Lawyers Book 4 -House of the Silent Moons:

They slapped neural cuffs on Rodney and Suzie and led them at blaster-point onto the deck. After winding through corridors and up turbo-lifts, guards herded them into a suite marked 将軍. Not surprisingly to Suzie, those were the kanji for Shōgun. A fusuma, or sliding paper door, opened onto a large room in the traditional washitsu style. Straw composite tatami mats held low tables.

Hideki Tsuchiya sat at a table in the center of the room in the traditional seiza manner—legs folded under thighs, buttocks resting on the heels, ankles turned outward, hands folded modestly in his lap. Tsuchiya was flanked by four armed warriors, also resting at seiza, whose leather belts bore kinetic sidearms and traditional swords—long bladed katana and shorter wakizashi.

Tsuchiya chose only the long and short swords.

“Miss London, Lieutenant Rooney. Will you honor me with a moment of your time?” Tsuchiya said expressionlessly.

Rodney spoke first. “How about removing these shackles?”

Of course, I’m not suggesting this is how all Japanese live or sit to receive guests. They don’t wear swords or carry blasters, obviously. (It’s a novel, gimme a break!) However, the chasm between Asian and Western norms is deep and wide, even to the inexpressive remarks of their host, who does not want to lose face by showing emotion to an adversary.

If that kind of diversity exists on our home planet, what will it be like when we enter First Contact with a species like the blue Quirt-Thymeans in my novels, who eat six meals a day and fine you for skipping something trivial as Second Breakfast. Furthermore, QTs hold an annual ten-day religious festival of feasting and socializing, during which everybody is free to screw whomever he or she wants. (Yes, they are sexually compatible humanoids, albeit blue with slightly doggy-like ears.)

The Blue King Murders

Did you read that it’s a religious festival? “Impossible!” you say. “Religions are otherworldly and austere and favor sexual abstinence outside of marriage.” Ask your Hindu friends about the goddess Rati. Here’s an excerpt between J.B. Matthews and Parvati, the former holographic pleasure provider reprogrammed as the Patrick Henry’s Helmswoman, from Star Lawyers Book 3The Blue King Murders:

“This is so not like me. I was a Catholic monk, for God’s sake!” J.B. said.

“We have gods and goddess who exist to bring us sensuality. One is called Rati, the goddess of desire, lust, passion. And yes, love.”

J.B. shook his head. “I can’t believe this is happening to me.”

“Are you still a monk?”

He smiled sheepishly. “No.”

“Good, because I am no longer a whore.”

“Of course not. I’m glad. Sorry.”

Parvati laughed sweetly. “Jeremiah, in some matters, you are so very shy. I find that alluring.”

“I have no idea why.”

A classic cultural disconnect, and sometimes the differences bring more than a blush. For example, fundamentalist Muslims allow no images of the One God, or any artistic portrayals of humans or birds or animals in their Mosques or wider communities. In 2001 the Taliban destroyed the world’s two largest standing Buddhas, great artistic treasures of humanity. One of them was 165 feet (50 meters) high. They were blown up because graven images are offensive to the Divine. Islamists also have strict, one might say medieval, attitudes about controlling women and shunning literature and music which hints at sexuality.

Contrast that with the world’s oldest living religion, Hinduism. The Hindus have temples featuring carved images of their many, many deities, sometimes illustrating sexual positions of the Kamasutra in stone on those houses of worship. Sexuality is a religious path of which the Divine approves.

Can you imagine a scene in which two person from these radically different cultures—perhaps a Pakistani Muslim from Karachi and Indian Hindu from Mumbai—meet and discuss life in general? It practically writes itself.

The point is that many sci-fi writers are good students of culture and bio-diversity, but all of us need to be. Much good reference material is available online. And if you want to get serious about learning how cultures work, download or buy the CD of the “Great Courses” lecture series by David Livermore, “Customs of the World: Using Cultural Intelligence to Adapt, Wherever You Are.” Believe me, Dr. Livermore never realized how far away that “wherever” could be.

Write on, trust your gifts, and let the muse infuse you.

“Dr. Tom”

Tucson, AZ

14 August 2018

Knife Fight at Olathe-5

Jump Gate Omega (Star Lawyers Book 1) and Forbidden Sanctuary (Star Lawyers Book 2) and The Blue King Murders (Star Lawyers Book 3) are live. If you didn’t read it yet, the prequel to the series is also available and you can Download my free short story here!

You can also learn more about me in the about section of this website.

LOVE vs. SEX:  THE FINAL FRONTIER?

Love vs Sex

LOVE vs. SEX:  THE FINAL FRONTIER?

Why are so many stories about love either sloppily sentimental, cynical or tragic? Why do books about love outsell all the other fiction genres combined? Maybe because we think we know what love is, and maybe we don’t know what it is at all.

Lumped under the generic heading of love, you will find parenthood (especially motherhood), family, religion, patriotism, personal tastes, dating, making out, friendship, sex, romance, adultery, and marriage. (And the list goes on…)

People need to sort these into separate baskets, but the English language fails us here. There is no other word that works in most of these cases. For example, what else can we call our feelings of patriotism but love of country? Desire of country doesn’t work. National pride isn’t strong enough, and the word patriotism itself has a hollow ring these days. What shall we call the sex act, except making love? Oh, I know, there are a few delightful possibilities. Most of us in the writing game freely toss alternatives around like effin’ flapjacks. But public, daily vocabulary isn’t ready to separate tenderness from doing the wild thing by employing act-specific terms when one inoffensive, four-letter word—love—covers the whole menu. (“I’ll have the Love Feast Special, please. No garlic butter.”)

Love in Science-Fiction

Good science fiction usually features a romantic subplot—Han and Leia, James T. Kirk and anything with a vagina. However—forgive me Romance writers—a good sci-fi story is plot or technology driven and not primarily about the sex life of the dashing, starship captain and our heroine, the busty alien princess. (Although in my Star Lawyers Book Three, Tyler Matthews and the blue Queen Veraposta—naw, you gotta read it.)

Just because main characters hop into bed under alien moons doesn’t make the love-interest, well, interesting. That takes an engaging storyline with nicely flawed players who battle and embrace and learn that real love is harder than orbiting a black hole without becoming its lunch. The original Star Wars trilogy approaches this level, and I contend that’s one of the reasons it is perennially popular.

Love in Literature and Movies

Literature is full of romance. Even Shakespeare, whose heroines were played by pubescent boys in stodgy, Elizabethan England, splashes love across the pages of his scripts like a drunken sailor spilling wine. American movies are punch-drunk over love. The plot of the second biggest movie of all times is, “The Love Boat Hits an Iceberg.” The biggest all-time moneymaker: “Blue lovers in an Ecological Thriller.”

While movies usually have a love interest, Hollywood lied to us, and the producers almost always get it wrong. For lovers who stroll the silver screen, love usually equals sexual attraction, impure and simple. This observation is a gross oversimplification, but the genius of the original Star Wars trilogy was not just its technology or special effects or combat scenes, but in the development of relationships.

Although sex and eroticism plays an important part in male-female relationships, it is by no means the singular or even most important element. So why, if we spend so much money and energy on love, do we get it wrong so often? Here are a few quick thoughts.

Love in our culture

Much of what passes for love in our culture is really:

  1. Sensual attraction and sexuality. Must be there, but it’s a thin foundation.
  2. Glamour. “She was so beautiful…” Okay, but do you like each other?”
  3. Romance and infatuation are not love. Courtship ends—then what?
  4. Neurotic dependency. “I can’t live without her/him…” Yes, you can.
  5. Ego gratification. Reader and fictional characters often will opt for this.
  6. Fear of loneliness. Can bring a compelling sub-tone, storyline or real life.
  7. Convenience and routine. The older I get, the more #6 & 7 appeal to me.

This is not to say that romance and sensuality/sexuality are a bad thing—right the contrary. It’s the beginning point in most relationships not contracted by families for young people. And speaking of alternative ideas about love from cultures around planet Earth, these include:

What Love can be

  1. A commitment, loyalty or duty Don’t flinch. Fidelity and familial identity are almost universal values.
  2. Friendship. Youth to golden age, you’ll fare better if you continue to like each other.
  3. Selfless giving. The golden rule never measures penis size. It is a gauge of the heart.

Some more Thoughts

So, if I suggest a little reflection on the depth and complexity of human love will tidy up the storylines of sci-fi literature, what do you think will happen when writers explore love among alien cultures, or alien-human relationships? Several good authors have done this. I will leave it to you to find them and share your discoveries with readers of this blog.

Meanwhile, now that I’ve set the bar for multifaceted interpretations of love among the many space-faring star nations in the galaxy, I’ll have to continue developing a rich cultural milieu for every race my human characters encounter going forward. To include their love lives. (You’re gonna love the Quirt-Thymeans in The Blue King Murders.)

Knife Fight at Olathe-5

Meantime, my prequel to the series is available and you can Download my free short story here!

You can also learn more about me in the about section of this website.

Why Science Fiction is Vital to Human Survival

Science Fiction Asteroid Hitting the Earth

Why Science Fiction is Vital to Human Survival

“Without vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18)

Dinosaurs Didn’t Write Science Fiction

You don’t ordinarily associate dinosaurs and KJV biblical texts, but roll with me a sec. The idea that vision–or prophecy, or seeing the future, sameo-sameo–is essential to the survival of a species couldn’t find a better exemplar than the poor, dumb Mesozoic critters who looked up at the sky and noticed a  big streaker sailing across the heavens. If they had the gift of speech–oh, hell, let’s give it to them, we’re sci-fi readers and writers–they might have said something like:

“Damn, my brother Triceratops, what is that pretty light in the sky?”

To which the other replied, “I don’t know, fellow Horny-Head, but it’s way up there and can’t hurt us.”

You know what happened in Act II.

Any species that doesn’t look to the skies is doomed

Any species that doesn’t look to the skies is doomed to the same fate, sooner or later.  That’s the first, most basic reason sci-fi is vitally important. It looks up and out and says, “What if…?”

Many early science fiction movies captured this primordial fear by casting an ensemble of bug-eyed, tentacled monsters to land on Earth with their invasion fleet, intent on eating all human males and raping all the females. I never understood, even as a kid, why a gray-green octopus with a ray gun wanted to ravish a white, blonde haired, B-movie actress.

The real danger isn’t from incoming flying saucers, it’s incoming asteroids in near earth orbits. Science fiction has raised the public awareness to this existential threat by movies like Armageddon and Deep Impact and a barrage of novels with similar plot lines.

The lethal asteroid impact may occur next year, or it may not happen until Trump leaves office, and therefore take some of the fun out of prematurely ending the world.  Doomsday could linger a few million years. Politicians are in no hurry.  But there are more pressing reasons why sci-fi is vital to our survival.

Science fiction raises humanity’s sights

Science fiction raises humanity’s sights on something at least as primeval as daily survival: We are, by nature, explorers. Without that vision, we perish. “Space, the final frontier…” Gene Roddenberry prophetically wrote. But he was wrong. Space is the endless frontier.

Let’s do the math. There are 400 billion stars in the Milky Way alone. Visiting one thousand star systems per week (if possible), would take 7.69 million years. And there may be 100 billion galaxies out there. Humanity will NEVER run out of new world to visit, new peoples to meet. The trick will be to learn from  our mistakes and not repeat the gruesome, racist, xenophobic history of planet Earth. Another possibility is that alien species are as bloodthirsty as we have been, and humans will have to fight for every newly discovered, uninhabited world. (For a harrowing look at that possibility, read Old Man’s War by John Scalzi.)

We could simply become cosmic isolationists

We could simply become cosmic isolationists, for fear of discovery by the bug-eyed monsters who, so far, have overlook our pale blue marble in the ocean of stars. But sitting on Earth until the atmosphere escapes into space in the distant future doesn’t sound like a good plan. Science fiction allows its most creative thinkers to give us the vision hinted at by the Book of Proverbs. Let the visionaries and futurists show us the possibilities.

In an era before the key words shifted to other connotations, British scientist J.B.S. Haldane (1892-1964) wrote: “The universe is not only queerer than we imagine, it’s queerer than we can imagine.” And who knows? Maybe we’ll land on our first alien world in the middle of their bi-monthly Gay Rights Parade.

Science Fiction will save the world. If not, maybe it’ll help us get off. (Double meanings seem to abound today…)

Knife Fight at Olathe-5

Do you want to discover my own Science Fiction stories? Download my free short story! You can also learn more about me in the about section of this website!