Rick Gauger


The Vacuum-Packed Picnic

Rick Gauger ©1987, 2009
   As she approached my table across the pilots’ crowded ready room with her teacup in her hand, I felt an urge coming over me. I had an urge to bite her on the smooth, ivory neck, which emerged from the heavy aluminum collar ring of her close-fitting pilot’s vacuum suit. Maybe it was the way she jangled all those pockets, tubes, clipboards, and electronic terminals as she made her way through the mob toward me. The typical space pilot’s swagger-but female. Maybe it was the merry brown eyes and the humorous twist of her lips as she sat down in front of me.
   “You’re Captain Suarez, aren’t you?”
   “Yeah. My friends call me—”
   “Pancho. Right?”
   “Right. I hope you’re one of my friends,” I said, my figurative tail wagging furiously. Worst case of vibes I’d ever had. It seemed to be mutual. She studied me amusedly while her tea cooled.

First Published SF Story

If I’m not mistaken, “The Vacuum-Packed Picnic” was the first one of my stories to get printed, even though “Hotwire” was sold first. I offered it to Analog first, but they didn’t want it. Imagine my thrill whenOmni bought it in April 1979! Me, a nobody, published in Omni!  And they paid me $900, a large sum in those days.  My original title was No Picnic, which I still think is better, but Omni wanted it their way. I got a highly flattering letter from a reader. Readers, if you read something you like, please send a note saying so to the author. The writer’s life is often depressing and lonely, and they need all the support we can give. Terry Carr bought it to reprint in Best Science Fiction of the Year 1979.  All this was healing for my self-esteem, which was at rock-bottom after seven years of futile efforts to start a new career.

Read “The Vacuum-Packed Picnic” now!

Charon’s Ark, Its Two Sequels, And My Life

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.

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