Hello, I’m back from a much-needed hiatus from writing. I return with fingers eagerly pecking away at the old magic portal that lets me send my work to the world without buying a plane ticket and risking COVID.
I apologize for any late responses to my last posts, and I will be reading your new ones soon.
While away, I did partake in some reading, and today I’m going to give you my review of Keith Edgar Channing’s Making Merry An Alien Adventure.
It would be best to start with the blurb:
Commander Meredith Winstanley and Lieutenant Commander Tarquin Stuart-Lane, generally regarded as the poshest of those who had purchased commissions in the Royal Space Regiment, had been selected by a ballot of their peers for a special mission to the moon. Their brief was to find out for how long two people could survive on that dead world, in an artificial habitat that they were to construct themselves, in situ, from materials they had with them. To allow them to take as much food and equipment as possible, with a view to extending their stay, their craft carried only enough fuel for a one-way journey. That, according to the brief, was also necessary because their craft would form an essential part of the habitat they were to construct. When they reached the point in the mission where their return was indicated, the higher-ups said they might send someone to collect them. What happens next no-one was prepared for.
Follow our hapless pair as they encounter or are encountered by incredibly tall and thin aliens, short and stout aliens, a striking young mathematician who turns out not to be what he seems to be and technologies you couldn’t make up.
This was a wonderful tongue-in-cheek, one of a kind, space adventure tale that I thoroughly enjoyed. Commander Meredith Winstanley and Lieutenant Commander Tarquin Stuart-Lane are assigned to a one-way trip to the moon under the guise of discovering a way to survive on the moon. It seems like an important trip for the selected pair, even the name of their ship Waist of Space fails to alert them to possibility that the Royal Space Regiment may actually be casting them off like refuse.
The moon proves far more interesting, and comical, than either had ever expected. While Commander Meredith proves herself invaluable, the bumbling Lieutenant Commander Tarquin provides plenty of laughs. His off-color-remarks, simpleton view of life, literal translation of everything he’s told, and the constant diet of his foot, kept me chuckling. Keith brings his great sense of humor and throws a smattering of scientific facts into the mix.
I did find the book a bit lengthy. However, the cast of characters provided enough entertainment to keep my interest.
This book would appeal to those who enjoy a humorous trip into Sci-Fi. There is some adult oriented material, so perhaps it’s not the best choice for a younger reader.
I am giving this book Four Stars!
As a writer of fiction, I make up and write lies for the sheer pleasure of doing it. These lies generally end up on my blog, as do a few of the photographs I take from time to time.
With my wife Clare and our two dogs, I have recently relocated to South Yorkshire after living for thirteen years in a rural location in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of France.
Oh yes, INTJ-T.
Purchase a copy of this book or one of many others by Keith:
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I wrote this in response to Sue Vincent’s write photo prompt. If you would like to join in the fun, please visit her wonderful blog and have a look around: Sue Vincent
Please suspend your disbelief and picture a convoy of leaf cutter ants crawling across the fourth step from the top, on your right. The ants in this story are all female because worker ants tend to be this gender. The males exist to breed only, surprised? Let’s have a peek into the lives of our six-legged cast, shall we?
“Company halt! Major Amelia, do you have any idea where we are? Why are we crawling into a valley? And a better question is, what are those really tall things sticking up from the ground? They almost reach the sky!”
“Well uh, you see Commander Ava, I, um, was not really, well, you can see, the wind keeps blowing the leaf I’m carrying into my eyes. It’s huge, you know, I am very efficient, as some of us are. The most fungus for the leaf, as they say, or something like that. Hey, you know who might know, because she can’t handle the big stuff? Captain Abigail, of course! Oh, and she’s right here! She’ll know the answer.”
“Very well, Major Amelia, and I’d appreciate a proper antennae salute, or I’ll have you busted down to trash duty? You hear me?”
“Ouch! Yes Commander! Loud and clear. Oh, by the way, did you notice that omeone-say lse-eay idn’t-day altute-say?”
“Enough of that and stop pointing your antennae at the Captain. But yes, you owe me a salute, too, Abigail. And by the way, Major, someone in your position ought to have mastered a simple salute without poking herself in the eye. If your daddy hadn’t taken off after mating with the Queen, I’d swear that he bought your rank for you.”
“But Commander Ava, I don’t even know who my daddy is. None of us do. There’s just too many daddies!”
“Silence! Major Amelia, I’m well aware of how it all works. Now, we have a big problem here and of course, the best way to solve it is first to find out who is to blame.
“Those giants of the Sky Colony that walk up and down these mountains in just eight steps, well, I’ve learned their language. I hear them talk, and that’s what they do.
“We all know that might makes right, and since they are mightier, that means they must be rightier. Isn’t that right?
“No, you imbeciles! What are you, a bunch of dung beetles? Everyone stay in formation! I’m not talking about a direction, just about being right about might. Ah, never mind!
“Captain Abigail, as the lowest rank among the three of us, you are automatically guilty. If you wish to save your precious exoskeleton, you can start by explaining how you created this mess.”
“Me? I mean, Commander Ava, I was third in line, following Major Amelia. I’ve walked in lockstep the entire trip.”
“Hope you like the smell of garbage, because you’ll never forage again.”
“I will take it from here, thank you, Major.”
“Oh, sorry, Commander. But can I just say one thing?”
“Sure, but that’s it.”
“Captain Abigail is lazy. She only carries forty-nine times her bodyweight. She spends most of her time gawking around and smelling the pharaoh moans.”
“And you’re so dumb you can’t even pronounce pheromones.”
“Don’t clack your mandibles at me, Captain. I outrank you, remember?”
“Girls! Can we have order here, please! Now Captain, you’re still guilty and will be punished, but when you mentioned that phero-thingy, I came up with a brilliant idea, yet again. You see, the Captain has allowed our route to be sabotaged by the drones of the Sky Colony.”
“No disrespect, Commander, but what are you talking about?”
“Oh, sweet Captain, you have much to learn . . . explains your lowly rank, I suppose. I have personally seen one myself. It was days ago, and it flew over me, on its way up these very mountains. It had black and yellow stripes and made a horrendous buzzing sound.”
“Do not interrupt me, Captain! Now, as I was saying, the beast flew up these mountains towards that big blue, Sky Portal that the Sky Colony comes from.”
“Um, again, no disrespect, but I don’t think that’s the sky. You see, it’s vertical and the actual sky is— ouch!”
“If the Commander says that it’s the sky, that’s what it is. Now stop rubbing your eye and do not speak until you’re told to.”
“Thank you, Major. I’m ordering everyone to do a smell check. That way we can be sure that no enemy is among us. Look for yellow and black stripes, as well as anyone who buzzes like the gossip mill back at the Hill.
“That’s right! Get those antennae working. Major, get away from me! Ouch! You bit me! That’s it, Captain Abigail is now on permanent trash duty!”
“Me? But that was the Major’s fault.”
“You see me not listening? Yes, that’s what it’s like, but no one cares what you have to say. Alright, halt! It is clear that we have no enemies among us. Now we can resume the blame game. Captain, turn in your badge.”
“But we don’t have badges.”
“That’s it! You’re, hey, what just hit me?”
“Commander! It’s starting to rain! We need to seek shelter before we’re washed down these mountains!”
“Don’t tell me when it is raining, Captain. I’ll tell you, that’s how it works!”
“Um right . . . everyone, we need to get out of here! Move, now!”
“They won’t unless I command it. I say it might be rain, but if it is, then it is only a light rain. It will pass and we shall proceed in determining a new punishment for your insubordination.”
“Everyone, this is your captain speaking! Follow the chain of command but start with me. We’ll pretend the upper ranks do not exist. The rain is getting worse and we’ve no time to reach shelter, get to the base of this mountain and use your leaves to shield yourselves! Yes, that’s it, now hold on. Here comes the downpour!”
“Hey, Not-Captain-Abigail! You are way out of line . . . Major, take that leaf off your head and stand beside me at the edge of this cliff.”
“That’s a good girl, now listen to meee….!”
“They’re gone! I’m glad we listened to you, Captain.”
“All in the chain of command, Sergeant. Now hold steady!”
Okay, so let’s find a large cardboard box to climb into and imagine it’s the DeLorean from Back To The Future. Those of you with artistic tendencies may opt for detailing the exterior to mimic the real thing. That’s fine with me.
Now, we’ll set the dial for the not-so-distant date of yesterday! Twenty-four hours ago, my COVID19 hairstyle resembled a shave brush. Yes, it grows straight up and out.
Enough was enough and on a recent trip to town, I had Tanya pick up hair clippers.
About an hour later, seated on a lawn chair on the back deck, with pedestal mirror in hand, I commenced my first-ever self-propelled haircut. Now, this skull rug is no stranger to the clippers, but they’re usually handled by a professional.
I shrugged off the clipper guides and went bare blade. Who cares in this new reality? It could be two moons before my next shearing.
I dug in deep and soon clumps of hair, with far too much gray, tumble weeded across the deck, entangling any unfortunate insect that crossed its path.
Our youngest daughter came out to observe and uttered the words every father “wants” to hear. “Dad, you look creepy!”
A courageous youngster, she pushed her disgust aside and offered to help, which I took gratefully. She worked the back, but eventually proclaimed it hopeless and suggested Tanya finish the job.
I must say the pruning was most liberating! I swear I’ve developed a sixth sense; I mean, I can feel everything! The last time I was this bald, my behind was wrapped in diapers.
My head is now an organic weather satellite, at one with the jet streams. I’m certain that no butterfly can pass above without my detection.
Proud of the newly acquired ability, I went to peacock my new look to our oldest. If I’d entered her room with my nose cut off, her face would have betrayed less horror.
Humbled, I exited quickly, but not before I heard her whisper these words to her classmates on Zoom. “My Dad just cut his hair and it’s frightening!”
Oh well, hair grows back and I’m saving on shampoo.
In the meantime, I’m grateful to the professional folks at North Shore Construction for gifting me with the perfect shame saver.
Okay, so part of the good-ole fitness program is to walk/run down the stagecoach trails that pass for roads in my neck of the woods (literally). Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE where I hang my Daniel Boone hat and wouldn’t trade the daisies for streetlamps, not even for a Klondike bar.
Over the sixteen years I’ve lived out here, I’ve crossed paths with deer, wild turkeys, coyotes, a fisher, and even once had a too-close encounter with a bear. It was a good thing that not all of the stuffing between my ears has been blown away, by those nasty nor’easter’s we get up here in the attic of North America. There was enough sense tumbling about in there, to stave off the temptation to high tail it. The nearest bruin-proof structure was over a mile, that’s approximately 1.60934 kilometers for us metric folks.
Anywho, that’s quite enough claptrap about (or aboot) that, if you wish to subscribe to the stereotypical Canuck (Canadian) accent. None of these adventures with our furry and feathered co-habitants of this big, blue marble, can compare with the trippy experience, of the bovine kind, that sent me spiraling down a worm hole, questioning my sanity. I’ve always believed that it was at least held intact by the same string used to package meat, but it’s become apparently evident that my perception was just a tad bit off. Here is proof that it’s being hung by a thread soaked overnight, in the corrosive beverage that supposedly eats roofing nails.
Okay, alright, I’ll shut my bone box. Sorry, just slinging a bit of Victorian slang your way. Now, I’m just nutters about those picture books, and especially them pop-up storybooks. Actually, kinda creeped out by them, ’cause, you can’t surprise them . . . just you try sneaking up on Rikki-Tikki-Tavi at three am. I’ll just let these photos and captions spill the beans about what went down on that horse trail named Cooper Ridge Road.
“Hey, hooman! Yup, I’m talkin’ to you, ya bipedal walking stick.”
“Wanna come stand by this tree?”
Me: “Uh, nope.”
“Psyche! You can’t, ’cause yur not one of us. See, we got this here tree blocked, just try and lean against it. Dare ya’!”
Me: “Why would I even wan–”
“You smell kinda funny. What is that stink?”
Me: “Uh, soap and deodorant.”
“Kin’ ya do this?”
Me: “Hmmm . . . nope. I have to admit, I’m a bit jealous.”
“Shorty tongue! Shorty tongue . . . hooman is a shorty tongue! Mooohaha!”
“Melvin doesn’t like ya.”
Me: “Oh, okay.”
“Wanna hear what happened to Bob? Awfully good tale, true story.”
Me: “Sure, why not? Can you tell it in a picture?”
Me: “Nope! I call bullsh**! Not willing to suspend my disbelief on that one!
So, that my friends, is why I no longer haul myself down Cooper Ridge Road.