Monday, March 31, 2014

Fresh Challenges.

We'll put our heads down and do the work.

Louis Shalako

Every day, and in every way, I just keep getting better and better.

That means I'm up for some fresh challenges.

The biggest challenge is to get a better computer. Step one, a large monitor, will bring immediate benefit. My eyes aren’t the best and I’m sitting way back from the screen just to see it properly. Also, it’s stand-alone. It doesn’t require new software, a keyboard, mouse or speakers.

That’s $229.00 for a 24”, 1080p, 2ms monitor. I should have that sometime in the next 3-10 business days. 

I don’t care how long it takes to pay off.

We’re just going to bite the bullet, boil lots of water and tear up a lot of sheets for bandages, but by Darwin we’re going to do it.

A couple of months from now I’ll get the base unit, and of course there’s software, antivirus, Adobe Photoshop, and a long list of goodies on the wish list.


Shalako Publishing and Long Cool One Books have 73 titles on Google Books/Google Play. Yet there are only 65 on OmniLit, and the number varies from platform to platform.

That issue needs to be addressed.


My first three mystery titles have been dogging along with some pretty lame covers. Now is a good time to make some new ones, in the light of new knowledge, new skills and a bit of experience. That really can’t be put off much longer.

Some of the other covers could be upgraded, especially the early ones, using the original marketing image, which saves money. But punching up the design isn’t out of the question, even with our existing technological infrastructure.


My latest mystery novel, Blessed Are the Humble, still hasn’t been issued in a paperback/POD. I know I had a file made up for that, but now I can’t find it.

Such is life on the razor’s edge, ladies and gentlemen.

Creating a POD file takes maybe a couple of hours, and then there is the marketing image. I also think there is a file for Engines of Creation somewhere in a folder. I’m looking at a few hours straightening all that up.

As I go through the Createspace process, I will take a look at what is involved in using a Createspace-issued ISBN. This is a requirement for the last free distribution channel, which gets a book into Ingram’s, etc.

Once I figure out how to do that, I can maybe go back through the list and get them other books into the catalogue…capiche?

We'll see how that one goes.


Files. My files are a mess. I have fifteen copies of this, and nine copies of that, and some of them are in formats that I will never use or can easily create, for example .txt, .mobi, .epub, and what do I need a bunch of old versions for anyways?

Also, I can’t find a damned thing sometimes. I would like to clean out my files and put everything in a logical place. I would like all current book covers in one file, all latest versions of the .doc files in another. I would like erotica in one folder and other photographs somewhere else. Whether all of my pen-names have their own folder, or if everyone goes in the same folder, I haven’t quite decided.


I can only find 24 titles on iTunes. I don’t care if I have to go through fifty files, and reformat every blasted one of them.

I’ve already done quite a number of the short stories, where you have to make a table of contents that is up to iTunes’ expectations. This looks like another time-suck, but what are you going to do?

Knuckle down and do the work, even if the old epidermis crawls at times and I’m grinding my teeth and gnashing my jaws while I do it.



So. Why am I writing a serial, online, publishing as I go, with people looking over my shoulder, all snarky-snark-snark? We all know what the pros are going to think about that.

Here is your answer:

I need time to do all this other crap. It slows me down and leaves me with a lot of available time, as I only need 2,000-3,000 words per episode. I only need one episode per week.

By the time I am done, I will have another first draft. That will be the first draft of my thirteenth novel.

When I have it all in one .doc, I can rewrite and revise that until I’m blue in the face, and then I will have another science-fiction novel.


The month of April has plenty of bad weather and I think I can get it all done.

Other than that, maybe it’s time to get some bifocals.


Friday, March 28, 2014

The Mysterious Case of Betty Blue. Pt. 3.

Tommy Edison. Radio Trip Pictures.

Here is Part One of The Mysterious Case of Betty Blue

And here is Part Two.

Part Three

The Mysterious Case of Betty Blue

Louis Shalako

“I have to get out of here for a while. I try to get out as often as possible.” It was an essential part of routine.

Single for all these years, Scott never bought more than the twelve items allowed in the express checkout. 

One or two small bags of groceries was all that he could reasonably handle, what with the stick and all.

“Are you okay on your own, Scott?”

It was kind of a dumb question, but it gave him an opening.

“No problem.”

Scott needed air and Betty thought it best if he went alone. She was planning to scrub the kitchen floor.

“That way we won’t be tripping on each other.”

“Yeah. I’m a little too used to my independence.” He smiled, getting the same feeling he’d had more than once in the last couple of days.

He had laughed, of course—over the years. He had a few friends, a few acquaintances. If someone told a joke, of course Scott would laugh.

But this was different. This was smiling. Almost as if it came naturally.

She kissed him on the cheek and the cane was pressed into his hand.

“It is kind of a small place, even just for the two of us.”

“Is there anything we need? Milk, maybe?”

“Yes. We could use milk. And tea bags.”

He nodded, and Scott smiled again. Fuck, what a thrill. His heart leapt. It had been doing that a bit lately…

“Kissy-kiss?” At one time he would have thought anyone who said that a proper fool.

Not anymore.

She took him in her arms and Scott wrapped his free arm around her. Their lips met and Scott enjoyed some tongue and one or two thoughts for later.

“Bye, lover.”


Fuck, I never thought I would say that again. Or maybe I never have said it.

The latch snapped open and then Scott was through the door and into the hallway.

Crap, with her there it was like he didn’t want to leave, but routine had its role.

Scott, as often as not, enjoyed his walk to Mel’s on the corner, where the stock was never moved.

He’d stopped going to the big supermarket when the new manager had gotten on some kind of efficiency kick and moved everything in the place. While moving the aisles and rearranging the shelves, the freezer cabinets and everything, might have found another couple hundred square feet of retail shelf space, Scott, he sort of took it as a personal insult.

He’d walked in, making it in through the turnstile no problem, and then walked smack-dab into some kind of a low display. He never did figure out what that was.

Scott caught it with a hip. His pocket or his jacket snagged a corner, he over-balanced, and then he went down, falling on the slender stick and breaking it.

Being the centre of attention of a bunch of strangers that he couldn’t even see was embarrassing.

Their comments, their voices, were just a stream of meaningless noise. They all had something to say. It was a good thing he couldn’t see them, he was sure he would have punched somebody. He hated humanity at that moment, and of course they had to help him up, all worried about him.

The staff had to get someone to lead him around while he did his shopping—minimal as it was.

All them fucking apologies grated on him, when all he wanted was to be left alone. The stock boy who took him home hadn’t been properly briefed. Scott thought the kid had forgotten exactly where he lived until a couple of days later when the store manager showed up at his door with a new white cane for him.

More apologies, and Scott had been barely polite to the man.

Fucking asshole. I’ll never shop there again, Buddy. Give it up. And fuck you, too.

If they were looking for some feel-good publicity, Scott sure as hell wasn’t going to give it to them.

But today was a better day, in fact a wonderful day. It was a rare event in Scott’s experience.

The breeze was warm, and the birds were noisy and cheerful, the air was wet and the smell of fermenting dog-shit everywhere you turned was a portent of spring. The traffic was just as heavy as usual. Somehow the cars, trucks and buses didn’t seen quite so threatening, not so cold and impersonal anymore.

The chess players, and the men with Italian accents playing bocce-ball in the park, ignored him.

They never minded the cold either. Italians were full of life. No one ever heard of a depressed Italian.

Crossing the street held no terrors for Scott anymore.

He had acquired a kind of fatalism over the years. It was a way of dealing with things.

It would happen someday.

Once you accepted it, things got better. Scott felt kind of sorry, even ahead of time, for the poor bastard who was slated to kill him. Just make sure you do it right. Don’t leave me in a fucking wheelchair, okay, Buddy?

Do it right.

Man, that is one dark thought, and yet he couldn’t quite shrug it off, either.

Fuck, I wouldn’t wish that on anybody. That is one burden I will never have to bear.

Now he had something to live for. Why does the chicken cross the road, anyways? He’d done it a million times, and this time was no different. The ‘pong’ of the signal changing and the sound of cars accelerating was a reminder of pain, death and injury, but so far, he’d been lucky.

You had to admit that. So far, no one had run him over. Yet a forty-two year old man on a bicycle had been killed by a pickup truck at this very intersection just a couple of weeks ago…

Sticking close to the storefronts, he found the fourth doorway to the left of the intersection of Queen and Main streets.

The laundromat was busy, always on a Saturday, with the smells of laundry, the voices of women and small children coming vaguely through the wall. There was the sound of rotating dryers and squelching washing machines, the latter of which, if you overloaded them, would leave a crust of dry soap on your clothes because the water wouldn’t penetrate all the way through. On a tight budget, Scott had only done that once or twice, as doing the wash cost two dollars and seventy-five cents per load. It was a big city, after all.

Life might be cheaper someplace else.

Sarah Chester.
Scott held the bag and the stick in the same hand. Going up was a lot easier although he had fallen once, losing his grip on the handrail. Sliding down six or seven steps, he was banged up on the shins, his left wrist hurt like hell. His bananas were squashed and there was one tomato that he never did find. His temper had been well and truly sparked that day.

He had said a few things, at least until Mrs. Jarvis came out and stood at the top of the landing, asking stupid question and quavering, which he had always hated in a person. Of course the lady insisted on helping him.

That made two of them on the stairs, and it was all he could do not to tell the old lady to fuck off, get the hell out of my way—and leave me the fuck alone.

He was just coming to the second-floor landing, tapping his way along, holding the handrail, as it was easy enough to put a foot wrong and go tumbling down the stairs.

There was the sound of a door.

“Mister Nettles?”

It was a hell of a lot easier to be nice today. Just one of the many benefits of having a girlfriend, he supposed.

“Yes, Missus Jarvis?”

“Mister Nettles, I need to speak to you about something.”

Scott didn’t hesitate, although standing around in small talk could very easily disorient him.

He navigated the last few risers, tapping and banging the stick around so she would get back in her apartment and leave him room.

“Hi. So. What’s up?”

“Well. It’s just that I was worried about you.”

“What? About me? Why?”

“Well. I heard some noises, and I wondered if you were okay.”

“Noises?” The sounds of traffic came up from the street below and Mrs. Jarvis had the TV on in her apartment.

“Last night…er…”

Scott almost laughed aloud at the doubtful tone.

“Oh. I’m so sorry. It’s just that the walls are thin.” And his bedroom was directly above hers,
most probably. “We’ll try to keep it down, and I am sorry about that.”

Scott took a step.

“Mister Nettles…”

He stopped.


“You’re the only one listed on the lease, and you are supposed to inform me if your circumstances change.”

“Oh, well. Yes.”

No pets. No parties, no unnecessary noise after eleven p.m. While she had rattled off the terms of the lease when he rented the place, that was years ago. He didn’t recall anything about circumstances.

“It’s just that I rented to one person…”

“Ah, yes.” Scott was the only one in the building who didn’t have a dog or a cat.

The perfectly rational fear of tripping on the animal, falling and breaking the thing’s back or leg was a compelling one, and he had never been able to bring himself to take the risk.

“Well, okay. We’ll have a talk and then decide what we’re going to do.”

“Thank you, Mister Nettles.”

He could go on, but she had brought up an important issue.

Not unexpectedly, she took the grocery bag from him and then followed behind, breathing noisily and grunting as she took the stairs.

Scott opened the door. He extended his hand and the weight dragged his arm down.

She wasn’t leaving and he repressed a deep sigh.

I suppose I really ought to be grateful.

“Betty? There’s someone here that I would like you to meet."

There was dead silence in the apartment. Fear stabbed at Scott.

He moved in through the door and of course Missus Jarvis had no option but to come in. Scott had endured worse.

“Betty? Betty?”

“I didn’t hear anyone go out.” She seemed mystified.

“All right, well, maybe she’s doing laundry or something.”

Mrs. Jarvis hovered right there at his elbow.

“Look, if she’s not here then she’s not here. I’ll tell you what, Missus Jarvis. I’ll bring her down
and introduce you a little bit later, okay?”

“Well…” That doubtful tone again.

He grinned.

“I’m a big boy, I can look after myself.” He wasn’t all that eager to show Betty off, as deep down inside he had some doubts of his own.

The odds were she’d be gone soon enough. The thought was enough to make him sag a little in the knees.

“Would you like me to put your groceries away?”

“Ah, no thank you, Missus Jarvis.” The one time he let her do that, she’d cleaned out and rearranged his fridge, which meant that for weeks afterward, he hadn’t been able to find anything.

“All right, then. I’ll leave you to it.”

Scott gently closed the door behind her and the sounds of her stumping off down the hallway were plain enough. He pried off his shoes, the toe of one foot against the heel of the other.

He would untie them only before putting them on again. A knot in a shoe-lace was disaster, and so he left them a bit loose. Sometimes he could squeeze them on without the bother of untying and tying them.

The toilet flushed, the bathroom door opened and then Betty’s aroma was right there.

“Sorry, honey. But she’s not that bad. She’s just curious.”

Scott moved into the kitchen, after carefully leaning his stick in the usual place. He put the grocery bag on the kitchen table.

She took his jacket and he heard her go to the front hall.

“Betty? Are you okay?”

“Yes, Scott.”

“It’s just that you seem kind of quiet this morning.”

She took his hand and led him to his lumpy old armchair in the living room. He eased himself down into it. She was standing right there.

“Sounds like we’re going to get some weather.”

“Yes, Scott.”

The TV nattered away softly as the team on the Weather Network cheerfully speculated as to
how bad the coming line of thunderstorms would be. The cold front was just to the west, minutes away by their urgent tones.

“She’s just curious, more than anything. She’s never heard a woman up here, I suppose. And as for the lease—after a year, that means nothing. I mean, it’s only for twelve months. I don’t think she’ll make problems.”


“Hmn. It’s okay, Betty, I wouldn’t worry about it.”

“Scott. We need to talk.”

“Yes?” Still smiling at his thoughts—Missus Jarvis was in her late fifties and it occurred to Scott that she might be a little jealous.

There was just a shit-load of lonely people in the world when you thought about it.

“There’s something I need to tell you.”

His mouth opened and the dull tone, the seriousness of it sunk in.

“What is it, Honey?”

His guts went cold and his heart picked up.

Of course.

There is something she needs to tell me.

The thought of losing her lanced through him. And yet it really was inevitable...wasn't it?

“Huh. Okay." This had to be it, didn't it? "Why don’t we sit down and you can tell me all about it.”


Hopefully we can get the next segment out by Friday evening next week.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Designing the Perfect Spaceship.

Project Daedelus. (Wiki.)

Louis Shalako

When I conceptualize a space vessel for one of my novels, there are certainly some valid, or even great inspirations behind it.

Nothing is really spun out of thin air.

Back in the late eighties and early nineties, I began writing The Case of the Curious Killers, in which a guy called Brendan Hartle pilots a scout-class ship, formerly belonging to the Empress of the Centralian Empire. The vessel has been pressed into service by the Mythological Institute, a catch-all, front operation for all sorts of covert and not-so-covert activities.*

The ship is a lifting body. It has four vectored-thrust engines. It has vents, or small motors in the nose, to provide retro-thrust for slowing, maneuvering, braking, and attitude control. It has typical puffer pipes on the wing tips and at other locations. Harrier pilots can explain this if you don’t know what that means.

The design, of course, took the knowledge of the time, including the Space Shuttle, and sort of extrapolated from there. (It extrapolated from SF influences too.)

What was the great weakness of the Shuttle?

There were several, but the most obvious is thermal. It got real hot on reentry. The bottom was covered in ceramic tiles. One or two tiles go missing, and you’ve got a hot-spot on a very fragile skin. With the vibration, with thermal expansion and contraction, it was a risky system, but the best available at the time.

Those ships were thoroughly inspected and practically rebuilt after every flight.

I want a ship that I can get in, turn the key, and take off. I want to come back and put it in the hangar, and walk away. I don’t want a cast of thousands involved in maintenance or even just launch.


It was insulating foam, breaking off of the external tank, which punctured the leading edge of the Columbia with unfortunate results.

The Challenger blew up due to faulty seals in the O-rings on the solid rocket boosters. Hot gases blew holes in thin structures and ignited other fuels, but even without secondary explosions, the ship was already doomed. It was essentially cut apart as if by an oxy-acetylene torch. There are extremely complex systems involved.

Hartle’s ship uses quantum engines. That’s just your typical ‘wordy,’ writerly stuff, basically just making shit up as I go along, but we can presume that the ship is still propelled by thrust—a bunch of crap fired off the back end. Even this presupposes the consumption of fuel, which for the purposes of my ship in Horse Catcher, is just water. Lots and lots of water.

In that book I call it reaction mass and leave it at that.

As the reaction mass is consumed in thrust, the ship, of course, gets lighter. It would take correspondingly less thrust to keep it at a constant speed, the ‘x’ so beloved of fable and song.

It would take less energy to brake an empty ship as opposed to a full one. All of this means that the variables in your math change over time. In a fly-by-wire system, computers do all the real heavy lifting.

A ship should go where you point it. I can fly the damned thing from there. It has to be stable and controllable, it needs thrust, I have to see where I’m going or have good displays and mapping systems. I would like some prediction systems, and pretty heavy-duty ones at that, and yet at the same time it must be easy to use.

I want it to be user friendly. (This tends to make it easier on the readers as well.)

Hartle’s ship was built by aliens, who can be presumed to have a highly-advanced technology, one that far surpasses our own.

The ship is all of one piece. There are no seams. There are no nuts, bolts, rivets or other fasteners, and the ship requires no thermal shielding at all. Brendan’s ship doesn’t even have any windows on the front. All viewing is by sensors and screens. He does have a small periscope, and the shuttle in Ark One has one as well. The computer is so smart it learns along with him, it trains him and of course it can fly the ship from point to point, and carry out some missions autonomously.


I would hate to have to land a ship by periscope, assuming some kind of systems failure, but it’s not much worse than the view out the front of the Space Shuttle.


While this is not described in the book, we can think of tubing, internally. The fuel might be liquid, or other systems might require cooling. If nothing else, you want to bring water to the kitchen taps. It might not be a perfect O-section all along its length. It might be flared at the ends, where there are the usual compression fittings. All of that is just modern plumbing, taken to aerospace standards.

But when the ship expands, here is some excess material so the tubing can stretch. If the ship, outside of any solar system, cools off to an extensive degree, the flares simply get a little fatter under the resultant contraction.

This envisages ultra-modern, ‘smart’ materials. The ship even has toilets with frictionless surfaces so that shit doesn’t stick to it. You would still clean them once in a while, I’m sure.

But, as Brendan Hartle tells Sim, “I could make you a rich man.” **

Brendan’s ship also has stealthy technology, but then so does the enemy.

Since he’s read a million books on aerial combat and aerospace, flying and all of that, he shoots them gomers down in great numbers.

According to Brendan, “Fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke.”

Due to the crystalline nature and the energy-recapturing potential of true quantum technology, if the ship heats up, the energy can be diverted, or even converted and stored. All of one piece, the ship might get a foot or even a yard longer as it heats up, much like the old SR-71 Blackbird. The Blackbird used to take off and then immediately refuel. The leakage rate was so high, that the ship had to refuel repeatedly on a flight. This would be once after take-off, and then again immediately prior to entering target airspace, and then once again, after a high-speed Mach Three dash at extremely high altitudes. It would refuel on exiting enemy airspace, and there would be a tanker (or two with safety redundancy) standing by near the landing strip. If it was a long trip, the thing would be refueling over the Atlantic a couple of times as well.

In the future, heat might simply be evaded, that is to say hot gases, or particles, would be diverted away from the envelope the ship was puncturing though the matrix...or something like that.

The metallo-crystallline outer hull of a ship like Brendan’s, would be grown in a tank in a zero-gravity environment. You could grow it very slowly at near zero-K and use electromagnetic influences to make it a little thicker here, and a little bit thinner there.

The resulting material would exhibit characteristics that modern aerospace engineers can only drool over.

Obviously, a ship designed for long interstellar flights can’t really be expected to be able to refuel every five minutes of flying time. The only way to do that is by using interstellar material, but I haven’t used that one in a novel, at least not yet.


What you need is a very dense fuel, one that doesn’t require a vast ship, miles long. It also has to be safe fuel. What you need is a quantum engine, and then a cup of water will take you from here to Proxima Centauri.

Hartle’s vessel is fifty or a hundred metres in wingspan. Ark One in Horse Catcher is maybe a kilometre or two in length, but it’s a colony ship with 20,000 cryogenically-frozen people and as much stores and equipment aboard as can reasonably be managed.

Now, a ship like Ark One, a very large, a very specific and purpose-built ship, constructed in orbit, is much different from a scout ship. It carries four of its own shuttles, which were used to bring colonists, or the materials for the ship itself, up from the home world, They will be used in the colonization of the new world. 

This sort of thinking is relatively easy.

The numero uno protagonist is a barbaric Earthman, (never thought I would use the term) but the ship is described at some length in the book. That ship is stressed for ten gees or something rational like that.

Hartle’s ship has a double-delta wing plan-form, with fore-plane canards and very tall twin rudders. 

Designed for fighting, and capable of automatic piloting, it can take more gees. Brendan flies it just like a fighter plane, for example the F-15 with its Mach-plus vertical capability. It might have a couple of small ventral fins. It has simple skids for landing and even taking off on unprepared surfaces. It also has caterpillar tracks which can be deployed, and then the skids are retracted. The ship can now maneuver on rough ground, and the tracks are powered electrically by the ship’s own power supply. This saves using the quantum engines for thrust on the ground, as not all landings will be on uninhabited or unexplored planets and unprepared fields.

On a civilized space-drome, the tracks are used to taxi to the runway. This is presumably, because spewing out hot radioactive gases all over the environment near a major city or indiscriminately, wherever it is, would be undesirable. Also, skids are used here because the surface is made of a low-friction, Teflon-like plastic. It takes less power to get the machine up off the ground. On the space shuttle, lifting a dead weight vertically is very inefficient. By getting the machine up to Mach 3 on wings and atmospheric engines of advanced configuration, there is a lot less disruption to ‘civilized’ environments. All you do then is pull back on the stick and hit the little red button on the throttle-control stick.

This calls for an assumption, the assumption that quantum engines are somehow based on an extrapolation of modern particle physics.

One of the reasons why I wanted to write science-fiction in the first place was realism.

I got real tired of ships that lost all engine power, sometimes the lights went out, but they never once lost their artificial gravity.

And the reason was a very simple one, ladies and gentlemen. It was expensive to hang a bunch of actors on wires and simulate it convincingly in front of a camera. Yet watching it, some of that stuff kind of bugged me.

If it bugs you enough, you might as well get in there and try it for yourself; I mean, I obviously thought I could do a better job, or something.

To write is a compelling urge, and that urge developed over time. But it seemed to me, that if yesterday's science-fiction became today's technological fact, and today's science-fiction might, in some cases, become tomorrow's technological fact, then I might as well get my name in there.



What exactly did dilithium crystals do? How did they work? (I don’t even know how to spell it.)

You can get all kinds of answers to that from Trek junky websites, there’s a whole genre that has evolved around continuing that world in terms of fan fiction, fan chat sites, groups, ah, you name it.

I’m not knocking Star Trek, TNG, Voyager, DS-9, or even Babylon-5. I grew up watching that stuff too.

But in the stories I wrote, I wanted to have some actual science in the design and use of the ship.

A ship traveling at Warp-10 is essentially un-turnable due to structural stresses and gee-forces.

Striking even the smallest object, a piece of space belly-button lint, would be catastrophic.

There would have to be some form of wave-front, a shock-wave if you will, out in front of any ship traveling at extremely high speeds, in fact anything over a couple of thousand miles per hour, assuming a ship of extremely light construction.

I don't even want to hit an egg at three hundred miles an hour.

A light ship is the only thing that is ‘economical’ in some practical terms for traveling interstellar distances.

You don’t want to run into anything at Warp-10, ladies and gentlemen.

In Third World, most of the action takes place planet-side, so the author didn’t spend a whole lot of time visualizing the design, and yet if pressed I could come up with some kind of design philosophy for a military frigate, a cruiser, a replenishment ship, all that sort of thing.

In one of my short blog stories, I talk a little about a monitor, a ship designed to carry a couple of really large launch tubes and not much more. In that sense, it’s a bomb ketch of the twenty-fifth century.

An awareness of history, a bit of reading here and there over the last half-century, and some experience in micro-aircraft design, is all this writer really has to go on.


For my purposes, the perfect spaceship would take off from a planetary surface. It would climb out and exit the atmosphere. It would go many times the speed of light, and have a safety margin. It would be able to re-enter a planetary atmosphere at will.

It would deflect or otherwise be immune to heat and friction and small particles of space debris. Moreover, it would be able to detect obstacles ahead even at FTL speeds, which on some reflection, the reader will agree is a bit of a sticky wicket technically.

It would not have to refuel, and sufficient stores could be stored aboard for long voyages. It would have a pleasant living and working environment for the crew. It would be armed, and highly maneuverable. It would require a minimum of crew to operate—Brendan flies alone for much of the story; although Dooley Peeters in Horse Catcher is as much mathematician as astrogator.***

Note: at present, science tells us that FTL flight is not possible. However, recent developments in particle physics suggest that the classic theory is by no means complete.

And without FTL, all them other writers are kind of screwed too, aren’t they? We’re all on the same thin ice.

I’m just saying, ladies and gentlemen.


*I wrote 140 pages on an old portable typewriter and then saved it for umpteen years, finally finishing that book in about 2006. Even then, the manuscript was around for a while and I finally edited it and published it in 2010. Or something like that.

**I got this idea from some old science-fiction book. I can’t recall the title or the author, but ideas are free, and hopefully that will remain so far into the future.

***A borrowed word.

(We think he’s done now. – ed.)