Get “Mr. Shaddo,” my latest science fiction caper.
When the alien Lord Svet hired Shaddo to steal a gladiator known as the Purple Avenger, Shaddo thought he could just get in, get out, and get paid.
But it didn’t work out that way.
He didn’t expect to run afoul of the Emperor Na-Ret – really more of a gangster than a monarch, but don’t tell him that – or find himself fighting the Purple Avenger in a cage match over a tank of hungry bloodworms.
I started this one a few years ago. I’d been binging on Donald E. Westlake’s wonderful comic crime stories, featuring hapless heroes who get involved in criminal capers and get in over their heads. Things start simple and get hairier and more complicated until, through great effort, everything wraps up neatly at the end. As a rule, Westlake’s heroes outthink their opponents, rather than using greater force against them.
Westlake’s heroes are easy to underestimate. His master thief Dortmunder is a sad-sack who lives in a working-class neighborhood in Queens with a girlfriend who works as a cashier at the Bohack supermarket.
Here’s Donald E. Westlake’s Amazon page.
My love for these kinds of heroes goes back. I always liked Bugs Bunny more than Batman.
Another thing I wanted to throw in “Mr. Shaddo” was a setting where a contemporary American could interact with aliens on a strange world.
And another: One of my favorite novels is a slender volume called Roadmarks, by Roger Zelazny. It takes place on a peculiar sort of highway that travels through time rather than space. You drive along in your pickup truck or Volkswagen bug or horse and buggy and you can get off exits to different historical periods and times, from ancient Greece to 20th Century America to the distant future. It’s really more of a collection of vignettes than a novel; the story is pretty loose. But it’s delightful. Here’s Roadmarks on Amazon.com. I love the cover.
Similarly, I loved Philip Jose Farmer’s Riverworld novels, in which all the people who ever lived, from cavemen to the dawn of the 21st Century, are resurrected on the banks of a planet-spanning river. The heroes of the series include 19th Century English explorer Richard Francis Burton, who translated the Arabian Nights; Mark Twain, Tom Mix the cowboy star, a couple of Neanderthals, a lesbian dirigible pilot from the 1980s (the series was written in the 1950s–70s), a pulp writer based on the author himself, and more. I trace my fascination with Mark Twain and airships to that series. Here’s the first book of the Riverworld series on Amazon.com: To Your Scattered Bodies Go. Book 3 of the series, The Dark Design, has a great cover.
Put ’em all in a blender and “Mr. Shaddo” comes out. I hope you enjoy it.
Want to try before you buy? There’s an excerpt on the “Mr. Shaddo” page on my Website.