Novels in Progress

The Invention of Man: a novel

In love, but broke, the sixty-eight-year-old bookseller, Michael McGeraughty, has converted a fifty-year-old camper-trailer to a small bookshop of about 1500 volumes, to be pulled by his thirty-year-old pick-up truck. His idea is to be a modern-day ‘book peddler’ in an American tradition going back to Parson Weems and once reimagined by Christopher Morley in Parnassus on Wheels. Meanwhile, he is still pursued by the FBI who believe he is connected to a libertarian revolutionary group (which he is), with designs on overthrowing the authoritarian government (true enough) through violence (which he is not). His aim is simply to wander the back roads of the nation, looking for ‘First Principles,’ and the characters that might make them work, while espousing good books and selling enough of those to pay for food and gas. His wish is that his true love, Deirdre Roberts, newspaper reporter extraordinaire, would accompany him on his odyssey. Instead, his only company is a middle-aged history professor, out of work, and most recently living with his mother.

read more…

The Keeper Jones: Weeds in the tall grass

[If you liked the previous posting, here’s another from that novel, now renamed The Keeper Jones ]


The fact of the matter was, he did not like people. Simple as that. They were generally mean, smelly, short sighted, lazy, dull, boring and boorish creatures who were always wanting someone else to do something for them and unwilling to take responsibility for whatever they did themselves. Not much different than most other creatures, perhaps, but HE was one of them. That was, in and of itself, the most irritating part of it. There was no cause for him to impose himself on anyone else so long as he could take refuge here. He had stated this fact over and again. How many times. He was always receiving a proposal from one lonely lady or another. Especially since his brother had posted Keeper’s vitals on some bulletin board someplace as a joke and that was now spread from Titan to Venus Prime. One of his friends had even sent him a parody of the thing that appeared on a vid and had its own legs. Now, he was a joke. His quest for quiet and contemplative life was a punchline. All he wanted to do was be left alone and this simple fact had been turned into hash. read more…

The Keeper Jones

[A new tidbit that might amuse from an older story to be readied for publication someday soon.]


April flowers: 2317



He usually wore an Irish tweed cap. This singular fact had become something of a trademark among his friends when sitting in on vid conferences. ‘Mad Hatter,’ was one nickname. ‘Cap’ was another. However, he referred to himself simply as ‘Keeper.’ His birth name, Dalton Jones, was little known and he wanted to keep at least that much to himself. But wearing the cap was a necessity. At six foot four inches he was three inches over regulation for the corps whose martial needs had dictated construction standards for most spacecraft, and every hatch and doorway was a potential bludgeon for his head. He would bear several of those scars to his grave. But his head was also larger than most and he had always been uncomfortable in the thermal topee favored by most outlanders—never mind the tendency toward fashion with such headgear which greatly added to the deterrent as far as he was concerned.

He ducked beneath the transom of his home and, looking out on the farm, stood still in the quiet for a brief moment. It was April. At last. Knowing where he was headed, he breathed deeply of the smells of the soil and the admixture of new leaves and blossoming. He could hear the bees. read more…

A Young Man From Mars: the future retold

“Those who cannot remember the future are condemned to repeat it. The past can never be repaired or reclaimed. The future may be reimagined at any moment, possessed at any time, and thus easily known.”   Joe Trees

This is the journal of Griffon Macdonald, his expedition to Earth, and what he found there; being also an accounting of some other matters learnt during that doctoral investigation into mankind’s persistent use of slavery as a means.

Offered here with additional records from the Council Court of Inquiry as well as the emendations and notes of his brother Robert.

It is said that after two-hundred years Joe Trees still lives somewhere amidst the forests of Mars. It is a legend, a myth perhaps, but a tale retold often enough to have its own life. It is believed that men do not live so long, so perhaps he is no longer a man.

# August 19, 2267: the origin and cause of my zetetic

From various sources, but mostly the words of my father, I have fashioned here a short account of an ancient relative, Flora Macdonald—Fionnghal nic Dhòmhnaill in the old Gaelic. She was the daughter of Ranald MacDonald a tenant farmer of Milton, which is on the island of South Uist in the Hebrides, an archipelago close by to the northern reaches of Scotland, on Earth, and of his wife Marion, herself the daughter of Angus MacDonald. It is thus that our clan was from the one root, though the MacDonalds were prolifically spread throughout those lands. Flora was born about 1722. It was her father’s unfortunate death when she was yet two years old that brought on the wooing of a cousin from the Isle of Skye for the affections of her widowed mother.

Now Marion had small property of her own but was a great beauty and even more than that a woman of adamantine will. She was not interested in this cousin. However that be, the cousin, Hugh Macdonald of Armadale on the isle of Skye, would not put off his love and finally kidnapped Flora’s mother by force, as well as Flora who was then the youngest of the children and still unweaned, and carried them off to his home across the near sea to the Isle of Skye. This was often the way of those times. And thus, Flora was raised among this other sect of her clan, amidst greater fortunes, even to be educated in language and math and the truths of the Bible and that stern God and the ways of the Kirk, as was the manner of the Scots of the time. But Flora never lost the sense of where she was from, nor of the sentiments of her true father—these things being kept for her by her mother’s heart. And when Flora was old enough she returned on visits to her older brother who had maintained the family stead and managed to buy some of his own land as well on the Isle of Benbecula.

It was during one such visit and on a particular morning when Flora had been gathering seaweed at the rocky shore for her brother’s furrows and the air was thickened by the vapor of a steel grey ocean, that a pitiful young man and his companion appeared out of the veil of mist seeking refuge from the numbing cold. The fog could not conceal this man’s fear, nor his bearing. The Stuart claim to the throne had failed at bloody Culloden some months before and now the Hanoverian troops were hounding the rightful prince of Britain, Charles Edward Stuart, to those ends of the Earth. Flora had little use for such a ‘Prince without a palace.’ Though a daring horseman, a fine bowman, and the master of five tongues, he must yet have been a sad sight in battered britches and broken shoes.

Flora’s own stepfather, who had taken the winning side, was a captain in the search. But something else was now at work. She knew her own sentiments, and that the faith of her true father were in the Stuart cause. It was being said, ‘any that helped the fugitive Jacobite would suffer punishment,’ and few others could find the courage to risk what little they had, only to trade masters, or just to be hung for the difference.

But the young prince was a symbol to many. And symbols are more important when the facts are hard against. read more…