To the tune of Rawhide

Writin’, writin’, writin,

Keep typin’, typin’, typin,
Though they’re slowly movin’
Keep those words a-comin’ First Draft!
Don’t try to understand ’em,
Just let them come and grab ’em,
Soon we’ll be living high and wide.
My mind is calculatin’
The things that will be waitin’, be waiting when all the words are tried.

Think ’em up, write ’em down,
Write ’em down, cross ’em out,
Cut ’em out, paste ’em in First Draft!
Lay ’em out, tie ’em in,
Type ’em in, try ’em out,
Cut ’em out, paste ’em in First Draft!

Mailing List

If you would like to be notified when my next novel, An Emergent Universe, is available, send an email to with a subject of “SUBSCRIBE”. I will add you to my contact list.


(With a tip of the hat to Stewart and Julie, wherever you are and thank you for reading A Larger Universe).

This is a spoiler if you haven’t already read “A Larger Universe”

Prologue (to “An Emergent Universe”)

Look down on a spinning ice skater, her arms extended, her hands trailing ribbons of sparkling threads.  Dotted with crystals and eight times longer than the skater’s outstretched reach, the ribbons spiral around the rotating figure, individual threads weaving an intricate braid of light.  Look closer.  The ribbons are not as regular as they first appear.  Wind whips the braids, splitting two ribbons into four.  Some of the threads are broken, shorter than the others, and those threads fly away in patterns of their own, drawn with, but not part of the weave.  Now extinguish the lights of the rink except for a single, focused, spotlight from above.  Crystals on the skater’s arms and head flash, but her black costume hides the body that holds everything together.  All you see are gleaming diamonds, spiraling in the dark.

Hold that image in your mind.  It is the Milky Way galaxy, seen from above: the spirals form a disk, one hundred thousand light-years across, containing at least one hundred billion stars.  Focus on one of those broken threads, half-way around one of the major braids and twenty-six thousand light-years from the galactic center.  This fat thread, the Orion Spur, contains hundreds of thousands of stars and is some three thousand light years across and ten thousand light years in length, but it is still a single thread of the thousands that make up the braids that are the Milky Way.  Insignificant among the stars in the Orion Spur, about half-way along the thread, is Earth and its sun.

For thousands of years, advanced civilizations in the Orion Spur had been dominated by the Kadiil.  No one had ever seen a Kadiil, and they made no attempt to rule.  Instead, they slowed or ruthlessly suppressed the acquisition of certain kinds of knowledge.

The Kadiil watched every intelligent species.  When a civilization developed radio, the Kadiil enclosed their star system with a spherical communications barrier that removed all meaningful signals, both incoming and outgoing.  Kadiil ships first showed themselves when a culture left its birth planet and showed signs of understanding the nature of gravity and the deep structure of the universe.  To each of these species, the Kadiil offered faster than light travel.  They demanded, in return, the end of specific types of research and no conflict with others.  Civilizations that agreed to this bargain received unlimited numbers of sealed drives that, when mounted in ships, gave them access to the stars.  Those that refused, or accepted the drives but continued their research, or attacked other planets, were destroyed, their home planets reduced to rubble.

Two thousand years ago, a species calling themselves “the People” (Nesu in their language) was one of those civilizations. They took the bargain, but secretly continued their research even as they launched starships.  After the Kadiil destroyed the Nesu’s home planet, Liran (in English, Stream), the remaining Nesu became homeless wanderers and survived by trading with other star faring species and with those less technically advanced.

As the centuries passed and their situation became more desperate, the Nesu turned to violence to meet their needs.  Some preyed on other ships in acts of piracy.  All found it expedient to enslave members of primitive species to do the tasks they could no longer be bothered to do.

A thousand years ago, the humans of a medieval English village on Earth were taken and trained to work in and maintain one ship, the Nesu Tol (The People’s Hand).  Five years ago, the Nesu on that same ship kidnapped a thirteen-year-old human boy with knowledge of Earth’s computers.  That boy, Tommy Yates, then eighteen, led a successful rebellion against the Nesu and took control of their ship.  He then discovered the true nature of the Kadiil, and used that knowledge to defeat them, releasing all of the worlds in the Orion Spur from their dominance.

Two months before, the Kadiil had appeared over Earth to propose their bargain.  They never returned to receive Earth’s answer.

The communications barriers enclosing civilizations like that of Earth disappeared with the Kadiil.  Approximately seven hours later, radio broadcasts from hundreds of other civilizations, some of them centuries old, were received on Earth.  Tommy returned to Earth to find governments in panic and unwilling to allow him to land.

Of all of the star faring civilizations in the Orion Spur, only the Nesu and humans from one ship knew of their new freedom.  The unlimited supply of star drives ended when the Kadiil were defeated.  Everyone must soon suspect.


Comments by my twelve year old great nephew.

“I liked the book all the way through. Every time I had to stop, I kept thinking about what Tommy might do next. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. At the end where Tommy was experimenting with the Kadiil ship, the computer coding was a little confusing. I didn’t quite understand it, but i think i got the basics of it and I was able to follow the story. Over all it was one of the best books I’ve read. I can’t wait for the sequel!”

Some of my readers have been saying that the novel is targeted toward a younger audience.  An intelligent, younger audience, perhaps, which my nephew definitely is.  He’s at about the same age as I was when I started reading science fiction.


Another hobby

I placed third in a small epee tournament today.  Not a small achievement since I was by far the oldest person entered.

You knew I am a programmer, right?

Today, I released my other project, an Android Application called bAnalyst.  You can find it on the Android Market by searching for bAnalyst:
A financial and math calculator using the power of Java and the presentation of Android, including:
* Time Value of Money, including amortization schedule
* Cash Flow (up to 99 different flows, each may be repeated 99 times
* Bonds
* Depreciation, including schedule creation
* Days between and Months between Date Calculation
* Tip calculation
* Math: square, square root, Nth power/root, Log, LN, Factorial, Hypotenuse, sin, cosine, tangent, arc sine, arc cosine, arc tangent, co-secant, secant, co-tangent, hyperbolic sine, hyperbolic cosine, hyperbolic tangent, random numbers, combinations, permutations
* History of the last 100 entries/computations
* 10 memories
* Select rounding mode, angle units, date format, number separator, number of decimal places

User Manual:

An exerpt from “The Lesser Talisman” – a work in progress – after edit

In a cave near the city of Mantua, on a world called Kolahvar by its inhabitants, a man slid on his belly beneath a bulging overhang at least three thousand paces from the cave entrance. The flickering flame of his oil lamp, directed by a small mirror, revealed a larger chamber beyond the crawlway, and he decided to continue on.
Soon, the man, Haytham, doubted his choice. Though his leather jerkin and pants protected his body, the hard muscles of his shoulders, built by a decade of work over an anvil, jammed repeatedly in the narrow tunnel as he pushed with his hobnailed sandals against the limestone earth.
He slipped the lamp into the next chamber. A moment later, he pulled himself out of the passage and stood on a slender shelf at the edge of a black pool. A cold, damp breeze blew gently past his face, and from some distance came the rumble of falling water.
He checked the oil in his lamp. Almost gone, he thought. He hefted the metal flask of oil and spare lamp he carried in a bag at his waist. More than enough to get back. I’ll try for the waterfall, first.
He moved along the shelf as it widened into a rocky beach. The sound of plunging water swelled, becoming a roar, and a rock wall, higher than his light could reach, blocked the way. His mouth widened into an involuntary grin as he moved closer. Since his fifteenth summer, he had explored these caves to see the strange and wonderful sights not found on the surface, and this wall was both. A tap of his knuckle on the rock chimed above the thunder of the falls. He slid his hand along the wall’s rippled face toward the side next to the water. As thin as the spine of my knife blade. Holding his lamp behind the wall made it seem even more like a rind of bacon, with stripes of lighter fat and darker meat glowing in the light.
He dipped a finger in the water. Cold. No help for it. I’ll get my feet wet. His sandal stirred the silt at the water’s edge as he worked his way around the bacon rind. Something glittered in the crystalline water.
“Eh. What’s this?” A swirl of his hand in the water uncovered a coin nestled against the edge of the pool. “The Goddess curse him. Someone’s been here and dumped his trash.” He picked up the coin and looked around. Only his own footprints marred the beach. He looked toward the still invisible waterfall. “Maybe I am the first here. Perhaps the coin washed down from the surface.”
A reedy voice spoke: “Neither answer is true, master, unless you don’t count me. Ask me and I’ll tell you how the coin came to be here.” Before Haytham could respond, the coin moved. “Also, if you would allow me the use of your flame, I would be eternally grateful. The lake is so cold.”
He jerked his hand upward, exposing the coin in his palm. A diminutive man-like shape rose from the coin’s embossed surface. The figure grew to thumb height, its feet near the coin’s edge, its arms wrapped around a shivering body.
“What’s this?” Haytham rasped.
“The flame, master. Allow me your flame. Please. You must give your permission.”
He brought his hand close to the lamp.
“Please, master, your flame,” the man-shape repeated.
Haytham held the lamp closer. He barely finished saying “Warm yourself,” when the figure leaped into the fire rising from the wick and did a wriggling dance.
The minute creature sported two horns and a barbed tail throwing off sparks as the wick flared under cloven feet and a spiked goatee whirled. Haytham almost dropped the lamp. “A demon!”
The creature completed one more turn. “An imp, master. Demons are much larger and not so handsome.”
He felt a slight pain in his hand and the imp squeaked. “Master, you’re bending my coin.”
He opened his hand. The coin, now blank on the upper side, made a small tent on his palm. The coin must be gold. He placed the lamp on the ground and flipped the coin over, exposing a five-pointed star.
“Master, you must restore my coin. It is the one thing I cannot affect.”
Haytham sat down beside the lamp. “Why should I? What are you, and why do you call me master?”
The imp made a formal bow inside the flame, one arm held across its waist and the other arm pointed behind. “The Goddess willed I am yours to command. By finding the coin, you begin my hundred years of servitude.” The imp spun toward the lake. “An eon ago, I was bound to the coin and cast into this icy water. Not a lake or ocean on the earth’s surface, but this light-less pond where no one would find me, such was my crime.” Haytham flinched away from the imp’s squeal. “Except you did find me, master. Ask, and, if granting your wish is in my power, I will. But first you must straighten the coin. I can be in only two places: the coin, and where you bid me be, and the flame from this lamp is dying.”
The imp spoke the truth about the lamp. There is risk to this. Can I believe an imp? The flame sputtered. Even if not, I can’t stay here in the dark. He drew his knife.
“Master, what do you intend to do with that?” the imp yelped.
Ignoring the imp, He pressed the coin against the blade next to the handguard. “Home with you,” he said when he heard the click of gold flattening to iron.
The imp disappeared from the flame before it flickered out, leaving Haytham in the complete and utter darkness found beneath the earth.
He fumbled in his pouch for oil and flint. “This would have been much easier if I had added the oil before the flame died.”
The imp’s voice spoke from the dark, “Would you like me to make a light, master?”
Haytham hesitated. He had heard stories about magical objects and demons granting a few wishes. Sometimes they did horrible things after the wishes were granted. “You did say you are here for a hundred years of servitude?”
“Yes, master.”
“Could all those hundred years be for me?”
The imp’s laughter tinkled from the blackness. “If master needs me that long.”
“You will grant all my wishes?”
“I am not a god, master, but I’ll bestow those I can, starting with making a light if you want it.”
In for a fals, in for a drachm, he thought. “Yes, I wish for a light.”
The air became colder, and a swirl of color glowed above his head, gathering to a single point illuminating the beach and wall and casting hard-edged shadows.
The coin rested next to his knee where he had dropped it. The imp gazed up from its glittering surface. “Perhaps you should hurry,” the imp said.
Haytham opened the metal flask and the stopper to the lamp. “Hurry? Why?”
“Even a demon can’t create light from nothing. The air in this chamber is near freezing. I am using what little heat remains to fulfill your wish. Soon snow will begin to fall on the lake.”
He felt his hands stiffen and took special care in filling the lamp. He replaced the stopper on the flask and picked up his flint and knife. A practiced stroke of flint against the spine of his knife lit the wick.
“End your light,” he ordered the imp. Once again, they were surrounded by the dancing shadows cast by flame rather than sharp edges from a single point.
Haytham gathered and repacked his gear. “Your magic seems nothing like that of my mother’s stories,” he said.
“What do humans know of magic,” the imp said, “even those who call themselves magicians? Is your mother one of those?”
“No. She kept my father’s house and told stories from her porch.” He pushed his knife into the sheath on his belt with a thump. “Three winters ago, she and my father died of the pox. She was not a magician.”
He picked up the coin, holding it by the edges between thumb and forefinger. “Enough of this. I must start back. If I’m to keep you, what’s the proper way to carry you? I can’t crawl with a lamp in one hand and this coin and you in the other.”
“I’ll enter the coin, again, master, and you can place it in your pouch.” The imp stared longingly at the lamp. Once again, its arms were wrapped around its body. “I should never have allowed you to see me. You should have thought your wishes granted by the coin, but I was so cold and the flame was so close.”
Haytham loosened his belt, exposing a hidden pocket buttoned next to his skin. “Would this be better? Warmer and less chance of losing you?”
“You are too kind, master.”
With everything in its place, Haytham again wet his sandaled feet going around the bacon rind wall and walked back to the entry tunnel. Once there, he paused and peered into the small opening. How did I get through that? The hole appeared much wider from the other end. He rubbed his shoulders. They still burned from his earlier crawl.
Something moved against his waist. Of course. The coin.
“Imp, widen this passage.”
“Step back, master, and cover your mouth and nose with a cloth.”
He retreated a few steps and pulled his jerkin over his lower face.
“More, master.”
His new position must have satisfied the imp. A fine dust blew from the tunnel, growing in volume until a twisting horizontal whirlwind swirled over the lake. The howling died, and the passage cut as straight as the shaft of an arrow through to the other side.
“I would have finished sooner,” the thin voice said, “except for the overhanging rock. The rest is limestone. The rock is granite. The bonds holding granite together are much harder to break.”
Haytham looked from the now muddy lake to the polished passage. “When I get out of here, please explain what you mean. For the moment, I’m trying not to be angry at myself for defiling this place, which I seek to leave as I find it. You tempt me and I succumb. You are a demon.”
The imp squealed. “I did nothing, master, except grant your wish.”
“I know. And that’s why I’m angry at myself and not at you. I don’t usually take the easy way.”

Latest Review

A New Type of Space Opera,February 18, 2012

Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: A Larger Universe (Kindle Edition)

I disagree that this is a kid’s book. While it was about a kid being kidnapped by aliens and coming of age first as a slave and then as a leader of the ships crew, I think it could be enjoyed by all, even those of us with more adult tastes. As the author says, he’s attempting to write in the vein of Heinlein. To a large degree he succeeds. Certainly no one would accuse Heinlein’s works as being for children alone.

I enjoyed this book throughly, even though I was some what at a loss with all of the computer jargon. Don’t let that stop you from buying this book, though. If you enjoy a characther driven sci-fi book that is obviously developing towards a great space opera series, then jump right in.

In Portland, Oregon

Signed copies of my novel, “A Larger Universe” are available at Bridge City Comics, 3725 N. Mississippi Ave., Portland, OR.