Posted on | May 12, 2010 | 5 Comments
I owe my readers an explanation of what’s going on with my novel, Charon’s Ark. The novel was published in 1987 by Del Rey Books. I began writing what I thought would be a single-volume sequel called Charon’s Children, but the story turned out to be so long that it required another volume named Charon Is Coming. While I was struggling to conclude this third book in about 1993, I was overwhelmed by personal problems. Thanks largely to the good care of the Veterans’ Administration, I was able to finish the last book around 2002. Now I am struggling to find a publisher for it. My friend Britt Griswold, who created and runs this website for me, stuck with me and supported me though the whole disaster. If Charon’s Ark ever gets published in its entirety, it will be because of him. I must mention my other buddy, a fellow Vietnam veteran. He forced me to realize I had to go to the V.A. He took care of me while I worked my way though the PTSD clinics and the compensation process. His name is John Watje. For him a special place is reserved in Valhalla, even though he will criticize how the place is run.
SPOILER WARNING: The following is a brief description of all three volumes of Charon’s Ark.
Charon’s Ark was my first novel, so it had to be about all my favorite things: spaceships, aliens, dinosaurs, robots, computers, students & teachers, love & bravery, an unknown world, smarts under pressure, and saving humanity against all odds.
A group of Seattle high school students, their teacher, and the crew of an airliner are hijacked in mid-Pacific by a vast spaceship crewed by alien robots. Their new destination: Charon, the moon of Pluto.
This former planet and its moons are really a starship Ark which arrived in our solar system millions of years ago. It’s a planet-sized terrarium, a late Cretaceous biome complete with dinosaurs. The aliens announce that the kids will be the Ark’s next crew.
The aliens aren’t really all-powerful. They and their Ark are in the last throes of decline. If the kids don’t behave — and naturally they don’t — they run a real risk of trashing the whole ship and inciting its murderous central computer into a self-protective frenzy that will end human civilization.
As you might expect, the class geek saves the day — but not at all in the way you expect, so that the novel at once fulfills clichés and subverts them. Dancing between the funny and the tragic,Charon’s Ark doesn’t just reflect the lives of adolescents, it shows them how to make a place for themselves in the adult world.
In spite of the presence of teenagers among the characters, this isn’t a Young Adult novel. Charon’s Ark is a ‘hard SF’ adventure for the entire science-fiction readership.
Volume One: A planeload of elite high-school students are hijacked into outer space; only one of them has the imagination to understand –and exploit– the situation. How will the class geek save his fellow students, steal this vast treasure of alien technology, and what will he do with the prom queen once she’s in his hands?
Volume Two: The students, teacher, and airliner crew are now in command of Charon, the interstellar ark. The teacher confronts the middle-aged drunk airline pilot over the affair he and one of the girl students began while they thought they were the only survivors. Can the geek and the girl hack a spacecraft in time to return to Earth? Enter the Bigbirds, intelligent dinosaurs bred by the Ark computer. They rightly fear subjugation by the teeming human race. Will humans or Bigbirds dictate the future of the solar system?
Volume Three: Not one but several spacecraft are hacked. Tumult, as dinosaurs, robots and high-school students from outer space rampage through Seattle! Will they be able to outwit the U.S. Government in time to save humanity? Will the class geek get the two-fisted teen cowgirl who had the affair with the pilot?Charon’s Ark is finished and ready for publication. My dream is that I will live long enough to see it become a summer blockbuster movie.