What’s New

Well, it’s been a while since I checked in so I figured I’d let everybody know what’s up. Right now I’m about 80% done with a project called Star Runners. It’s an anthology of short stories that spun off of my other science fiction works. Fans of Tales of The Screaming Eagle will get to find out how Ms. Coleen took the barracks that Kilroy and Burt left on Tarkan and turned it into the best damn bar in the galaxy. Also, questions like, “how did the Yang-He become a ghost ship,” and “How did Jack Galloway come to lose the Sundancer to the Public Protectors on Isis” will be answered.

Even if you haven’t read The Adventures of Crazy Liddy or Crazy Lucky a Space Romance, these stories should amaze and entertain. I hope to have this book available on Amazon by the end of February 2019.

Here’s a sample:

To Reach The Unreachable Star


Although taken for granted today, it is worth reflecting upon the miraculous speed at which Earth’s various nations recovered from the Doom War. In the space of a single generation, survivors came together and organized themselves into thriving communities and soon reclaimed much of what was lost.

Of particular note is the amazing speed at which North America jumped from a collection of subsistence farming villages to a spacefaring nation-state in a mere hundred years.

Excerpt from Gordon’s History of The Spacelanes


All the indicator lights read green.

Naomi took in a deep breath and closed her eyes. After fifteen months in the bunker, this was it. Air quality: acceptable, temperature: seventy-eight degrees Fahrenheit, radiation level: safe. She looked down and to her right to see little Benjamin chewing on his finger like he always did when he got fidgety.  Fifteen months is a long time for anybody, but to a six-year-old, it was an eternity, and the bunker’s confinement probably felt as safe as the womb to him.

The stuffy bunker had been home, school, and playground to him. “Mom, do we have to go outside?” He asked.

She nodded, and the child went back to chewing his finger. They had been lucky. The only house she could afford when they moved to the area was an old two story that dated back to the 1950s and included a bomb shelter. When things got bad in the news, Naomi cleared out the raccoon nests and stocked up on canned food and other supplies. It proved to be a good move, but the bunker would not sustain them forever.

And besides, she longed for sunshine.

But Naomi also understood how her son felt; she’d been the same way twenty odd years ago when her family left Uganda for the States. She was only twelve at the time, and everything was new and scary to her then. Now, she’d been an American so long that going back to Uganda was simply unimaginable. Just like she couldn’t imagine what waited for her beyond the sealed airlock door.

Partly to buck up the boy’s courage and partly to buck up her own, she said, “It’s all right, Benjamin. We’re going to do this together, okay?”

The child nodded nervously, and she hit the release lever. With a hiss and a rush of air the door parted and the sun shown down upon her face for the first time since the bombs fell. For a moment, she just stood there, still as a statue, basking in the sunlight. Looking down, she saw Benjamin shielding his eyes from the glare but did not recoil from the light. She always knew her son was brave.

Together, mother and son took their first, hesitant, steps into the new world. It was not, however, an improved world by any stretch. The shattered remains of Atlanta, Georgia stretched out far as the eye could see, and her heart sank. The once gleaming towers of the Buckhead skyline now blackened and bent by atomic fire glowered at them in the distance. Closer to hand; their once pleasant suburban neighborhood now consisted of concrete foundations overgrown with Kudzu. Naomi marveled at how fast that wily weed had recovered from the apocalypse. Twisted pipes reached up for the sky like the arms of penitent men at the foot of some unforgiving deity. And the towers of man’s communications arrays? All were half melted and resembled hunchbacked giants lumbering for the grave. Even if anyone could hear them, calling for help was not an option.

The mother sighed. “Well, it’s more or less what I expected.” She reached for Benjamin’s hand. “Let’s take a walk, sweetie.”

Feet following the path of a broken sidewalk, they took in the fresh, unfiltered air and watched the birds flitter about. Benjamin’s eyes were wide, his face wearing the expression he wore when she took him to the zoo two years ago.

Naomi’s feelings warred within her. She wasn’t sure whether she should be happy or sad. The elation of finally being free of the bunker battled with the depression that arose upon seeing her world ruined by short-sighted and stupid men. Men, whose imaginations looked no farther ahead than the next election cycle, and whose stewardship of the world was eclipsed by the next quarter’s profits. Why people followed such-stuffed shirts always puzzled her. But they did, perhaps because believing the golden promises of blowhards was preferable to them at election time than facing the hard truths of a world in crisis. And now, there were no profits, no elections, and no hopes—just the current crisis of simple human survival as faced by the cavemen of millennia ago.

The world was dead, and she wept for it.

Naturally, she didn’t intend to. After all, Benjamin was watching. “What’s wrong, mom?” the child asked.

“Nothing, I’m fine,” she lied through her tears.

Benjamin squeezed her hand and then moved in front of her to block her stride. “Mom, what’s wrong?”

She could never successfully lie to her son, and she knew it. The kid was unnaturally bright for his age and approached life in a very measured and rational way. He’d spent the last fifteen months taking apart and putting back together every tool and device in the bunker, determined to discover what principals made them work. He read books two and three grade levels above his age group. And he knew how his mom worked, inside and out.

Benjamin was an extremely smart boy.

“This is…was the monorail stop where I used to wait for the number fifty to take me to work at the Hartsfield Space Center. You remember? I used to wear a blue uniform to work every day?”

“Yes, you were a nurse with the flight surgeon’s office. I remember you liked Dr. Bill a lot. He was your boss.”

“That’s right, Sweetie. He came here from Texas after they succeeded from the US. He helped transfer the NASA clinic from Huston to Atlanta when our spaceport was just starting up. Anyway,” she sighed, “it looks like I won’t have to worry about missing the monorail again. Funny, I used to hate getting out of my nice warm bed and rushing off to work. Now, I’m sad I’ll never do that again.”

Benjamin looked at the twisted metal and burned over concrete that had once been a transit stop. “You could go to work again. It will just be different.”

She fought back her anger, the child didn’t mean to be insensitive, and she knew it. But hard reality left her little room for parental finesse. “Honey, look around. There’s not going to be any work at the Space Center ever again.” She shook her head. “I just hope the colony on Mars survived. They may have enough infrastructure up there to carry on without support from Earth. But we’re not going to be sending any more ships into space. And all the sleeper ships are going to be arriving at distant stars soon. But when they wake up from cryo, their transmissions home will fall on deaf ears. There will be nobody to answer the phone if the phones are all dead, right?”

Benjamin sat down on the stairs that lead up to the monorail station. He chewed his finger, and his eyebrows scrunched together. Naomi knew he was concentrating but had no idea about what. This was a problem well beyond any six-year-old child and certainly beyond a grown woman of thirty-five. The stars be dammed, she had more immediate problems to deal with. Back in the bunker they still had enough food and such for a few more months, but by winter she’d need a new source of sustenance for herself and her boy.

She cast her eyes about, hoping to find something that would aid in their survival. In the distance, she saw a dozen or so wooden shacks. Structures like those would never have survived the blast that leveled Atlanta. Therefore, she reasoned, they must be new. Obviously, somebody else had survived the Doom War and that somebody or somebodies could probably use a nurse. It’d be a long walk, but she and Benjamin might make it to the shacks by nightfall. Looking closer, Naomi saw a man step out of one of those shacks. He looked in their direction and waved, and she dared to feel hope in her heart.

“Mom, we can do it. We can go to space and tell them we’re still here and everything’s will be all right.”

“What?” Naomi couldn’t help but laugh. “Child, see those shacks over there?”

“Yes,” Benjamin replied. Then he looked where his mother was pointing and said, “What about them?”

“Those shacks might have people who can help us. See the man waving now? But it’s a long way off. It will take maybe a couple of hours to walk there. Mars and the star colonies are a lot farther off than that, child; millions and millions of miles away. We can’t get there, Benjamin.” She let a smirk cross her lips. “It’s much too far for anybody to walk.”

Then Benjamin smiled. “Then we’ll just have to run.”


The End


On Writing Battle Scenes

11825788_738733412916087_3775435348695635423_nOnce upon a time, a good friend of mine asked me to critique her book. It was a fantasy novel about a war. So, seeing as how I’m a retired soldier, she wanted me to verify that her battle scenes read true.

Now, to be clear, my friend is an extremely talented writer and her plot and characters were excellent. Her battle scenes, unfortunately, failed to grab me. This is was despite the fact that she had done an amazing amount of research on the subject of medieval war. Similarly, I once threw Pires Anthony’s novel, Wielding a Red Sword, across the room because his depictions of war and warriors were utterly ghastly. Obviously, there’s something to writing a good battle scene that vexes writers both unknown and world-famous.  So what are they getting wrong?

Put simply, battles, to many people, are the stuff of history books. When a historian writes about a battle, he or she has the benefit of near perfect hindsight. Naturally, the historian can read the “after action reports” of both sides. Likewise, the autobiography of both commanders can be studied, as well as the archaeology of the battlefield itself. This lends a historical account to possess a Godlike perspective. The entire fight is seen as if from above with every move and counter move clearly understood by the reader.

But fiction is a different art!

In fiction, readers don’t care what future historians may one day understand about a battle. They want to know what the protagonist understands in the moment of the fight. Think how droll it can be to observe from above. And conversely, how exciting it is for a reader to ride into battle, sword held high and heart pounding!

So, let’s get down to cases, shall we? Here are four basic rules to follow when sending your fictional characters to war.

  1. Do your research– Whether your war is fictional or historical, you should know something about the kinds of arms and armies involved. True, I do not GTA_Art_altrecommend you copy the historian’s style. However, I do recommend you gain an understanding of the context of your battles and the common difficulties soldiers and commanders face. At this juncture I hope you’ll tolerate a subtle plug for my book Armed Professions: A Writer’s Guide, it is meant to be a primer on this subject and I hope you find it a good place to start.
  2.  Consider your point of view character Realizing that battles are whirling, flailing, confusing things, ask yourself, “What is my POV character experiencing?” First, think of what emotions are coursing through your hero’s head: fear? anger? uncertainty? panic? hate? Readers what to experience the battle as your character does so write the scene with feeling. After emotions come the physical aspects: fatigue, pain, sweat, tears are all important elements to put your reader in the fight. The last POV question to ask yourself is, “What does your hero know?” Battles are fought on incomplete information, and only the future historian will have the whole picture. Do not include information that the POV character would be unaware of.
  3. Don’t forget the aftermath- The battle may have begun unexpectedly, but afterward, your character needs to process what just happened. Dead enemies may be as hard for some characters to handle as dead friends. Is your hero a novice who’s just survived his first fight, or a battle fatigued veteran who’s seen enough bodies to last a lifetime.  Emergency care for the wounded and Burial details for the dead are also bound to keep a protagonist busy long after the shooting stops.
  4. Lastly, write using short paragraphs– Battles are experienced in seconds, not hours. In the heat of the melee, the world is seen in snippets. Tunnel vision sets in and the skirmish is reduced to short, sharp images that the mind must race to process. You may indulge in wordy, panoramic prose after the smoke clears. But during the action, try to keep your paragraphs down to three to six sentences each.

As an illustration of what I mean, I’m including a sample from my book The Adventures of Crazy Liddy, in which my hero takes part in a space battle. Keep in mind, she is not a commander and only sees her little part in the fracas.


Chapter Twelve: Battle

2-crazy-liddy-510“Summer Breeze, hold your present course and speed,” the customs pilot ordered. Liddy held tight. She saw in her monitor the Azanti man-of-war banking a hard left. The ugly giant did an about face, and sped back to its brethren, a very wise decision on its captain’s part.

“Thanks, Elliot Ness!” Liddy cried. “That was wonderful. What brings you to the neighborhood?”

Before the pilot of the corvette could answer, another commo circuit crackled to life.

“Well, Ms. Schmidt,” said the voice of Governor Mendez. “That is a long story.

Liddy swallowed hard, “Governor?”

“It’s actually commodore today,” came the authoritative reply. Liddy’s comm screen lit up with the image of Hugo’s mom in a crisp white Confederation Navy uniform. The outfit was out of date and no longer a good fit but had enough military goo-gahs on it to open up a gift shop. Mendez sat at a console on the large bridge of a naval vessel. “I have to admit, Liddy. I figured you were on Tortuga by now, selling my yacht to a chop shop. I’m interested to know why you’re here, but first, understand that you are not the reason we came. Can you tell me where my son and his crew are?”

“He’s on Apollo, Ma’am. Reed’s with him,” Liddy answered. “All together he says they have over two hundred survivors from the Gallant, and the ’56 expedition, with ‘em. They’re holding out on some high ground between the university and the sea.”

Mendez tilted her head. “Apollo?”

“You know, planet Kilroy?”

“Oh, right.”  The commodore nodded. Liddy saw Captain Keats approach from behind his commanding officer and hand her a data pad. She nodded and handed it back to him. “Now, you said something about a university?”

“Yes,” said Liddy. “The Azanti have a university on the planet. That’s their ultimate weapon. They were using human prisoners to teach them how to rebuild their technology.”

“Azanti warriors learning tech?” Keats said in disbelief.

“Apparently so,” Gilead answered.

“Gilead! What in God’s name are you doing with this criminal?” Mendez demanded.

“Crusading,” the Boffin answered.

“Right…” Mendez said. “Listen, I want the Summer Breeze to stay out of the way. We’ve got a battle to fight, and I don’t want any civilian craft in the crossfire. Besides, it looks like you’ve put enough dents in my yacht as it is.”

“Sorry,” said Liddy.

“We’ll talk about that later,” came the muffled rebuke. “Right now I’ve got more important things to worry about. I assume my son can be raised on the commo unit?”

“Yes, Ma’am,” Liddy answered.

“Good.” She glanced at a blinking light that appeared on her console and smiled. “Well, who says children never call their mothers; looks like he’s already trying to contact us. Mendez out.”

The screen went blank as momma Mendez hung up on Liddy.

“Liddy, if you keep us just under stall speed, I might be able to fix our fuel problem.”

“Sounds great, Gilead. I’ll put us in the back of the formation by the prison barges. They’re going so slow I think their pilots are peddling backwards.”

“Peddling?” Gilead asked.

“Never mind.” she replied. “Just do what you can. We might need to put on some speed soon. We’ll see how this goes.”

The Summer Breeze maneuvered to a point starboard of the Confederation fleet, setting course and speed to trail the massive formation. As Hugo chatted with his mom, Liddy took stock of the Confed’ ship’s electronic ID signatures. The two destroyers were called the Fearless and the Illusive, medium sized warships with reasonable armament. Mendez’s old battleship, the Conquest, sported dozens of heavy laser cannon and missile batteries making it a very well named ship. Unfortunately, Liddy’s memories of human ships against the Azanti in this system weren’t good ones. With the Azanti Empire in decline, and Confederation technology twenty years ahead, it might prove a different story, but she just didn’t know.

All of the Customs Patrol corvettes had names like the Buford Pusser or the Wyatt Earp, which meant nothing to her. They were nimble little craft, with single, forward facing laser cannons and not much else. The two prison barges didn’t even have names, just DOC009 and DOC014. And lacking names also seemed to entail a lack of weapons, as they didn’t have any lasers. Liddy wondered why Mendez even brought them.

But no matter the reason for the visit, the Azanti didn’t shy from giving their guests a warm welcome. Her two pressers retreated, but the other four ships advanced and soon all six would meet in the middle. The Azanti mega-carrier looked especially menacing. Depending on how many fighters it launched, it could make this a very messy fight.

Liddy tried to tune in the Confed’ Fleet net but found herself jammed. All the comm traffic between Confederation ships was encrypted, and Summer Breeze wasn’t equipped with a com-sec key. Liddy could only guess what orders Mendez gave to the little fleet by watching the ships move.

But from the looks of it, Commodore Mendez was a scrapper. Seizing the initiative, ten of the corvettes kicked their thrusters in high gear and raced toward the two fleeing warships. Against the Azanti man of war the little police craft looked like darts, thrown at an elephant. Fortunately, the quick little ships avoided the enemy’s main guns, maneuvered dead aft of the enemy’s engine bells, and opened fire—red lasers flashing.

The Azanti ship on the right lost one engine in a bright orange blossom. But the left hand warship made a hard turn at incredible speed to come behind the corvettes. The big warship might have looked slow and ponderous, but it moved like a shark swimming in space. Liddy held her breath as she watched the ten law enforcement ships suddenly surrounded, the Azanti plasma cannons pounding them furiously.

The remaining corvettes charged into the melee. Soon, all Liddy could see was a swirling mess of fire and debris. She let out a sigh of relief as the trapped corvettes escaped vertically out of the melee. The brave little ships spiraled upward to ascend above the enemy, but only seven of the ten made it.

The Azanti were not unscathed. One man-of-war floated dead in space, its engines puffing smoke. The other didn’t stay to defend its comrade, but instead rushed to rejoin the advancing armada.

The corvettes peeled off, and wisely stayed out of range of the dying ship’s plasma guns. Then, in a meteoric strafing run, the Fearless closed with the enemy. Liddy held her breath as the Confed’ destroyer neared the stricken Azanti hulk. It avoided engaging at laser cannon range, and instead released a barrage of missiles. The hail of rockets turned the proud Azanti war machine to a smoldering cinder in only a few seconds, leaving it to forever drift in the night.

Liddy started to breathe again.

Unfortunately, the second Azanti warship made clean its getaway. It closed the distance with its brethren to join the advancing Azanti forces. Now five great warships strong, the armada formed a sphere with their mega-carrier in the center. Liddy knew that sphere would be hard to crack with the warships protecting the carrier and the carrier’s fighters protecting the warships. She had seen this formation the last time she was in Eta-Cephei.

Commodore Mendez maneuvered the Confederation forces into a crescent shape. The surviving sixteen corvettes formed two squadrons on the right and left flanks with a destroyer anchoring each near the middle. The battleship held the center and the prison barges fell into the rear where Summer Breeze putted along at a fourth its usual speed.

Liddy crossed her fingers. “How are those repairs coming, Gilead?”

“Working on it, Liddy.”

As the opposing forces closed on each other, Liddy took the Summer Breeze on a slow arch to a position high above the battle. A smart move would be to take cover behind the barges, or an even smarter move would be to jump out of the system altogether. But she wasn’t feeling particularly smart. She not only wanted to see the action; Liddy wanted to be able to jump in if she was needed.

“Almost got it.”

Liddy bit her lip.

Like boxers entering a ring, the two sides closed on each other, dodging and weaving. The Azanti threw the first punch; launching twenty-seven fighters from the carrier to form a screen in front of the rest of their armada.

The Confederation countered by launching a barrage of missiles from the navy ships. Like most boxing matches, the first round was inconclusive. Liddy was relieved to see some of the missiles take out a few fighters, but the Azanti plasma weapons shot down the majority of the missiles before they struck anything significant.

But, the need to shoot down missiles did tie up Azanti firepower while the corvettes sprinted around the sphere and began shooting at the enemy rear. As before, the fast little craft evaded plasma blasts as they ducked and dodged around the foe. As the lawmen scored hits, Liddy watched Azanti engine bells burst into flame.

“Yes!” she cried, as an enemy craft began to drift out of its formation, exposing their flank.

The Azanti warships weren’t done, however, and they returned fire with a vengeance, their plasma cannons screaming out superheated gas. Liddy gasped as several corvettes burst into flames. It was an awesome light show as plasma burst and laser beams reflected off the growing cloud of debris, forming a sparkling halo around the battle. For a moment, Liddy almost thought it looked beautiful, and at the same time—hated it so.


“A few more seconds, Liddy.”

As the opposing fleets closed the distance each Confed’ destroyer was forced to take on multiple opponents. Soon they were surrounded by Azanti warships and trapped in overlapping fields of deadly plasma fire. Liddy clenched her fist and slammed it into the consul. She was not born to be a spectator.

But she watched, as DOC009 and DOC014 swooped around the battleship and plunged into the heart of the action. As they closed with the enemy the two barges opened their cargo bays; out dropped dozens of missiles to float free in space. By the time the Azanti recognized the threat of the ‘unarmed’ ships it was too late. As the prison barges ran for the cover of the Conquest, the missiles targeted the Azanti ships and zoomed into their sides. Three of the Empire’s warships suddenly exploded in bright bursts of yellow and orange. But the other two dreadnaughts fought on.

Liddy saw that the Fearless had sustained heavy damage from the enemy carrier. Its port engine bell smoked and only its auxiliary cannon still fired. Azanti fighters swarmed over the Confed’ ship like flies on a dying buffalo. Then she saw a green light flash on her port side fuel indicator.

“I got it!”

“Gilead,” Liddy replied as her face twisted into a feral grin. “You’re awesome.”

The cavalry was coming to the besieged Fearless. She locked the turret in the forward position and aimed with Summer Breeze’s nosecone indicator instead of the overcomplicated turret sights.

The first Azanti fighter didn’t even see her coming. Liddy smoked it from above as Summer Breeze arched into the fight. The second fighter twisted and turned but its pilot couldn’t shake her off his blue tail. When her nosecone indicator flashed green over the target, she squeezed the trigger and in a flash of brilliant light another bad guy splattered across the stars.

Then things got really interesting. The proximity alarm blared, and Liddy checked her screen to see an Azanti fighter directly on her ass. The little bastard zigged and zagged with every twist she made. Her heart raced as she pulled up on her stick and then drove it down in a sharp decent just as the enemy pilot let loose with a plasma burst. The enemy cannon struck her shuttle bay, vaporizing it instantly.

“Damn it!” she shouted to no one in particular.

“Summer Breeze, I copy,” came a voice over her comm. “This is CPC Louis Lépine, stand by.”

The Azanti burst into a ball of fire as a customs corvette soared by the Summer Breeze. The Louis Lépine came so close that Liddy could actually see the pretty little pilot, who just saved her ass, through the canopy. The woman blew Liddy a kiss and gave her the ‘call me’ gesture. Great.

Then, the black of space filled with light as the CJS Illusive ruptured in two. Azanti plasma cannons had sliced through its hull. Escape pods launched but not every spacer made it to the pods in time. Liddy watched in horror as men and women cartwheeled into space. The cost of this rescue was becoming extremely high. Shuttles launched from the other navy ships to rescue any Illusive crewmen who were sensible enough to wear vac-suits into combat. Liddy hoped that would be most of them. She knew it would not be all of them.

As she watched the Illusive’s destruction in sick fascination, another blip appeared on her close range scanner. It was huge and charged right into the heart of the battle. The Conquest was open for business and its business was death. The mighty laser cannons flashed red in the vacuum of space like brilliant lances. The beams struck at any offending Azanti warship foolish enough to come in range. Liddy cheered as the one remaining man-of-war crumpled instantly under the onslaught and drifted out of the fight as a gutted wreck. The other Azanti fought on. Soon the Conquest was surrounded in a swarm of fighters.

Fearless closed to engage the enemy, but could only move at half speed due to the loss of one of its engines. It would be six minutes before help arrived, an eternity in combat. Nonetheless, the battleship fought on. Missiles leaped from the Conquest, smacking into the Azanti mega-carrier; destroying its launch bays.

Now, the enemy fighters were without a home to return to. In desperation, many put themselves on kamikaze courses for the big Confederation target. And Liddy wasn’t going to sit still for that!

She formed the Summer Breeze up behind the CPC Alice Wells and six other corvettes to stop the suicidal warriors, and challenged Gilead to give the engines everything he could. The results were messy; Liddy found herself in a swirling, diving, twisting, climbing riot of quick death and no excuses. As the battle raged, the Summer Breeze continued to lose minor pieces of itself, but when its last laser cannon took a debris hit from a chunk of hull that used to be the CPC Elliott Ness, that was it.

“God damn it!” she cried.

Without a weapon, she had no choice but to retreat from the fight. She took up a position with the DOC009 and DOC014 and watched the end of the battle from there.

The Azanti mega-carrier, robbed of its protecting warships and most of its fighter screen, died millimeter by millimeter. Corvettes swooped in to take pot shots, while the Fearless and the Conquest exhausted their missile magazines on the big target. In a matter of minutes the carrier’s engines went super-critical, and the ship burst apart like a cheap child’s toy, carelessly stepped on by a heavy boot. This time Azanti bodies twirled out into space, propelled by the air that had once sustained them.

Twenty years after the Confederation’s declared victory, the last space battle of the Azanti War had ended. Liddy put her head in her hands and breathed in short stifled breaths.

Crazy Lucky-A Space Romance, Now An Actual Book (with paper)


So, my sequel to The Adventures of Crazy Liddy is now available in paperback. As you may recall, Liddy often spent her spare time reading cheap romance novels with titles like Starpilot’s Mistress. This prompted my “friend,” Seka Heartly to write Passion Pirates of The Lost Galaxy (which is now also available on Amazon).

So, I figured, “what the hell?” Dosen’t Liddy deserve a romance of her own? And then I wrote Crazy Lucky-A Space Romance. Of course, this being Liddy, it had to take place in space, involve crime, adventure, alien races and a secret mission to save a world. It being a romance novel, it also had to involve a handsome, suave, dude with roguish charm and a sordid past.

Fun for one and all!

If you’re like me, e-books are not quite “real” to you yet. Real books are made of paper and you can hold them in your hand as you smell the ink off the pages. A real physical thing that you can cherish on your bookshelf forever. And, unlike e-books, you can throw ’em at people who annoy you. 🙂

Feel free to check out the real Crazy Lucky-A Space Romance at…



We’re All About To Get Crazy Lucky!


So, I just got word from my publisher, Double Dragon Books, that Crazy Lucky: A Space Romance is now available wherever books are sold online. That’s right, I wrote a romance novel.

This book picks up where The Adventures of Crazy Liddy left off: Crazy Liddy Schmidt is out of prison and ready to get her ship (the Sundancer), and her life back. Unfortunately, during the three years, she spent in the joint, somebody else bought the Sundancer. The good news is, she heard that same somebody also got busted and the ship is once again up for grabs. So she’s off to the customs auction to stake her claim.

This book also picks up where my short story, Beer Today Gone Tomorrow left off: Lucky Jack Galloway has just gotten out of jail and is intent on reclaiming his ship (the Sundancer). He heard it’s up for auction and hopes he can nab it before anybody else can…to include that pretty blond who keeps outbidding him.

Naturally, when Liddy and Jack meet it is not love at first sight. So the question becomes, “Can these two willful star-pilots share a one man ship without somebody getting shoved out an airlock?” And if they manage to do that…will they fall in love before the giant alien ship they discover on the frontier eats them for breakfast?

Find out in Crazy Lucky, available on Amazon and wherever else books are sold online.


Just Saw Ghostbusters For The First Time Since 1984


So, here’s the thing, I’m old. Not ancient, mind you, nor over the hill. But I ain’t as young as I used to be and that’s for damned sure. For instance, the first time I saw a Ghostbusters movie I was sixteen years old and hadn’t even had my first car accident…yet.

Straight to the point: I loved the original movie. The creative team behind the film found a wonderful kernel of joy that propelled a great movie. I laughed, I cried, I kissed six bucks goodbye (and that included popcorn).

So now I’m forty-eight years old, just saw the reboot, and I loved it. NOT because it’s the old Ghostbusters, but because it’s the new one. Here’s a secret, and I hope you’re listing Hollywood, reboots, and sequels can NOT be plain old rehashes of the original material. While giving a respectful nod to the original material is important, something fresh and wonderful must be brought before the audience or just don’t bother.

Is this an easy balancing act to pull off? Hell, no!

Fans are fickle and it can be hard to figure out what tripped their trigger in the first place. However, with Ghostbusters, the new team seemed to nail it (perhaps because they were fans of the original, to begin with). The 2016 Ghostbusters did not try to be the same 1984 movie in female form. Instead, they gave us a completely different set of characters with different personalities. However, the camaraderie and friendship that endeared us to the old team is also alive in the new. In other words, they found that kernel.

Forget the ghosts and the gimmicks. The original movie was about misfits. The ghostbusters were losers who nobody would believe and nobody would hire. Nevertheless, they had a lot to offer the world and each other and, through friendship, they overcame evil and saved the city. That’s what made Ghostbusters great and that kernel was front and center in this new film.

Sadly, Hollywood gets it wrong as often as they get it right. Exhibit A in this case would be Men In Black II. In MIB II, we got a sad rehash of all the gimmicks of the first movie with none of the heart. I have also, so far, been unimpressed with the Star Trek reboot.In the new

In the new Star Trek, we have great actors who do a fine job of recreating the original characters, but JJ Abrams has shown he has no understanding of what makes Star Trek great (here’s a hint–it has to do with good stories to tell). Now, to be fair, I have not seen Star Trek: Beyond yet so I can not judge that film–the other two, however, needed another director badly!

As I write this, I know that I am soon to be judged by this same standard. Crazy Lucky: A Space Romance is due to be released by Double Dragon Press next month. It is a sequel to another book of mine, The Adventures of Crazy Liddy, that came out last year. The first Liddy book was a straight up adventure story, and I purposely decided not to do another adventure plot for the new book. Instead, I wrote Liddy into a romantic comedy to shake things up. She’s still Liddy, and I think my audience will still connect with the great kernel of who she is as a character–without my having to rehash old plots and gimmicks. How successful will this attempt prove to be?

Time will tell.

I Just Read Space Viking by H. Beam Piper.

Space Viking
Never heard of it? Perhaps not, but it’s a trophy sought by old-school science fiction fans and a guidebook to the origins of much space opera that came after it.

Piper is best known for his Little Fuzzy books about cute little aliens who befriend a grumpy old prospector on a far-off planet. Those books have been in and out of print for years and there’s even an updated version of the novel by John Scalzi (author of Old Man’s War). Although a rather prolific author, Piper’s career was stopped short by his suicide in 1964. Coincidentally, that is the year Space Viking was released, a book which his fans often praise as the best work ever.

For decades I’ve hoped to come across a copy at a used bookstore or science fiction convention. Now, due to the magic of the internet, I was able to procure a used original 1964 paperback (and even then it took some doing). So now that I’ve read this legendary book, what do I think of it?


I found it fascinating how Marc W. Miller cut and pasted so much of Piper’s universe to write the hugely popular role-playing game Traveller. The setting of the novel is the far future, but characters still carry titles such as duke and baron as they fight over interplanetary fiefdoms. The emphasis of Space Viking lives is also very Traveller; they simply strive to amass wealth and power over their enemies. In fact, the plot of the book can be described as: her creates and equips a starship, goes into combat, amass wealth, and uses wealth to upgrade equipment and expand power base–then goes into combat, and repeat.

With this in mind, there is very little exploration of the characters as three-dimensional people. Our hero, Trask, makes rational decisions, builds his empire for…reasons, and only rarely shows any sentimentality or desire outside his political goals. Also, in the tradition of OLD SCHOOL gamers, there are no women playing active roles in this novel. One ship is said to have a female captain, but we never meet her and the ship explodes in battle. All the other female characters are love interests at best and window dressing at worst. This jives with the ascetic of 1964 I suppose (If Mad Men is to be taken as factually based), but without active women in this universe, how impressed am I supposed to be by the men?

It is said that science fiction author Jerry Pournelle and H. Beam Piper were friends, and I can see how the two men had a lot in common. Apparently, this was especially true in the field of politics. As in Pournelle’s works, Piper presents an almost Ayan Randian philosophy; the man in charge who inherits wealth should not be ashamed to use it—for by doing so intelligently, society will prosper as a side effect. Whereas, the man (and yes it’s always a man) who organizes the rabble and fights for social justice is the villain who’s misguided philosophy will destroy the galaxy…or whatever. In Space Viking, characters talk at length about these subjects and it’s clear where Piper stood in the matter.

So, yes, the book is flawed and dated. But I still recommend it as a study in Science Fiction anthropology because it’s clear many major players in science fiction have read this book. For example, Gorge Lucas lifted the name for planet Hoth right off the pages. As a kid in the 1980s, I played an awful lot of Traveller so I must admit that Piper’s last novel influenced my own writing quite a bit (read The Adventures of Crazy Liddy if you don’t believe me).

Space Viking is also a study of what works and what doesn’t work in space opera. When a reader picks up a book with a title such as Space Viking he or she expects lots of action and peril, not a lot of political talks. Besides, there is something “clay pidgin” about expressing one-sided politics in science fiction. The author, after all, sets up the targets and it’s no surprise to the reader when he hits the bulls-eye from two feet away.

By Clayton J. Callahan

Look for a New Book In The Fall of 2016!

Crazy Lucky Promotion

I am very happy to announce that I just signed another contract with Double Dragon for my third science fiction novel! It’s a sequel to both The Adventures of Crazy Liddy and Beer Today, Gone Tomorrow.

Can Liddy and Jack share a one person starship, or will someone go out the airlock before love can bloom?

New Video For Crazy Liddy


Check out my latest video feturing that crazy starpilot; Liddy!