STAR MAN’S SAGA

--Ralph F. Couey

 star.mans.saga

cover art by O. Polishchuk from 1992 Russian omnibus titled Daybreak 2250 A.D.

 

PREFACE

 

When I was ten years old, about a half-century ago, I ordered a book from Scholastic Book Services, a wonderful resource offered through my elementary school. The title, Daybreak: 2250 A.D., grabbed my attention. It was 1965, the space race was in full gallop, and I was obsessed with the amazing and heroic happenings as mankind made its first clumsy steps into space. Even then, I peered hopefully into the future even though the ebb and flow of the Cold War threatened to end our present. A couple of weeks went by and my stack of books arrived. On the cover was a picture of a muscular young man with a strong face and silver hair. He was poling a crude raft across a river accompanied by a cougar-sized Siamese cat. Behind them I could see the ruins of skyscrapers, the tombstones of a dead city. The picture fired my imagination and I couldn’t wait to get home and begin reading.

I began reading that evening and once I started, I couldn’t stop. My father, in some exasperation, had to take the book away so I would finally go to sleep, an action made necessary by the massive effort required to get me up and going every morning. I got the book back the next day and spent every moment I could immersed in the post-apocalyptic world of Fors. When I finished, I went back to the beginning and read it again. The story gripped me like no other had.

I felt a curious kinship with Fors. He was an outcast because he was mutant. Being the fat kid with the pimply face, thick glasses, and few social skills, I too, felt like a mutant. As Fors felt rejected and alone, I did as well. The physical abuse heaped upon me by my classmates, while not as violent as the Beast Things, was, I felt, little different in character.

Being fascinated with geography, I spent no small amount of time trying to fix the locations alluded to in Fors’ travels. “The mountains that smoke” was an easy guess as the chain of the Appalachians known as The Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and the Carolinas. The large city on the big Lake could have been Chicago, or even Cleveland or Buffalo. The travel time from the Smokies to any of those three was problematic, but attributable to artistic license. Having driven across the endless prairies of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, it was easy to imagine this vast territory ridden and controlled by the Plainsmen. Other places, like the volcanic lands of Arskane’s people remain a mystery, but one that bids me to return and solve.

The story changed me, in that I realized that the future would not automatically turn out as the high-tech wonderland for which I was hoping. Rather, I realized that the outcome depended almost entirely on the actions of the suddenly very human leaders whose names populated the headlines and the television news. I also learned that, like Fors, I would have to take the initiative within my life if I wanted to make things happen. Fors taught me that in the face of abuse and rejection, there is no substitute for a firm and unshakable faith in one’s self.

As we grow, our outlook and therefore our tastes change. Books I once read as a child remained there as I tackled ever more challenging works. But Ms. Norton’s small novel continues to hold my fascination. I report, without shame that I now am on the 9th copy, having literally worn out the previous eight.   But even as I reread the story, I couldn’t help but indulge my speculation as to what may have happened afterwards. I thought about that a lot over the years, as various scenarios wafted through my brain when it should have been engaged in more pressing matters. Then one day, in between my duties as an intelligence analyst, I decided to put those thoughts down on virtual paper.

The story grew in scope as I wrote, expanding into vast new territory, both in geography and Fors’ personal journey. The result of my efforts now lie in the pages before you. Having great regard for the original author and work, I have strived to keep my account respectfully faithful to the rousing spirit of the original. The characters whom readers came to know are familiarly present in this sequel, as is the world in which they lived. For those who read and enjoyed the original, I hope this is found to be a worthy successor.

A person’s life never proceeds along a predictable pre-set path. Few are those who look back from the perspective of senescence and conclude that it all worked out exactly as planned. For me, I know I could never have predicted, as a lad of ten that my life would have turned out as it did. In this story, the same is true for our intrepid Star Man. As he, and so many others have discovered, life is not really about what one wants to do, but rather when compelled by duty and circumstance, what one has to do.

And that is what lies at the heart of this Star Man’s Saga.

Ralph F. Couey
April 5, 2017
Aurora, Colorado

 

 

 

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 "Star Man's Saga"
Copyright ~ Ralph F. Couey and the Estate of Andre Norton 2017
Online Rights - Andre-Norton-Books.com
Donated by – Ralph F. Couey

 

Formatted for online viewing by Jay Watts aka: “Lotsawatts” ~ November, 2017

 

Duplication (in whole or parts) of this story for profit of any kind NOT permitted.