Dansplaining the Churachian Classics
The first novel I ever wrote was titled “Journey to Mars”, and I wrote that in 1987-1988. It was good science fiction, if I say so myself, but regrettably, no publisher was interested in it at that time. My second novel, PROOF!, was completed in the late 1980s and accepted for publication by a small publisher in Huntington, West Virginia - University Editions. The ‘Second Edition’ of PROOF! now available at Amazon is the same manuscript as the original, but with an easier-to-read font.
I completed “Back to Paradise 2000” in the mid-1990s, and Commonwealth Publications in Edmonton, Canada, accepted it for publication. The process got as far as galley proofs of the paperback, but sadly, Commonwealth went bankrupt before the book was actually in print. A decade-and-a-half later, I updated the storey that is now available at both amazon.com.au and amazon.com under the title “Back to Paradise.”
Interestingly enough, I finished Back to Paradise right in the throws of finishing up my doctoral dissertation, accepting a job offer in Western Australia and moving our lives from the Hawaiian Islands to the Kimberley. Well, surprise, surprise… that put a bit of a dent in my fiction writing schedule. I also had an academic career interfere with writing novels since I spent more than a decade researching science education and managing education programs for the Parker Centre and the Centre for Sustainable Resource Processing, two Australia-wide Cooperative Research Centres. By 2016 I finally found time to turn my creative interests back towards book-length stories and have been writing technothrillers ever since. If you're interested, click over the Dansplaining the Technothrillers for more insight on more recent stories.
So now you know…
Pueo (not really, but a clipart version of a Hawaiian owl) :)
Dansplaining Back to Paradise (Published 2017, Second Edition 2019)
Karn and I lived in the Hawaiian Islands for 18 fantastic years and absolutely loved the place, the culture and the people. We lived in Kaneohe on the windward side of Oahu for a couple of years and then in Honokaʻa and Hilo on the Big Island for 16 years. The Islands truly are a very special place and rightfully gets that tag of “paradise”.
It’s difficult to believe that I’m too young for anything nowadays, but I can unequivocally say that I am too young to have known the Territorial Hawaii that is the setting for the first half of Back to Paradise. No matter what your age is, you might just find the whole idea of the 1950s as though it were another world, and to twenty-first-century folks, it really was another world.
Let’s do a little thought experiment. Visualise climbing onboard a modern-day aircraft in Chicago, flying through a bit of turbulence and then landing in Territorial Hawaii with absolutely no clue as to how it all happened. And since we are in a creative frame of mind here, suppose you not only left behind the present-day world and all the luxuries you are used to, but you also left behind your family, friends and all that you know. We’ll include one more feature in our thought experiment here and add one more ‘imagine’ to our little exercise by saying supposed you met a beautiful young Hawaii woman and quickly fell head-over-heels in love. Of course, it is perfectly logical to turn the table and approach the entire scenario from Leilani’s perspective and to meet and fall in love with a “man of the future”, an equally life-changing event from her side, too.
From whoever’s point-of-view, that is the scenario that lead character Ben Decker finds himself in when he meets Leilani Kealoha. The trouble is, Ben’s family, his failed marriage and his potential booming ‘tech company’ are decades in the future with no obvious way for him to ever return there. The two of them spend a romantic week together and form a bond that transcended time and space. Ah, but it seems that every paradise has the nasty snake rearing its ugly head, and in Ben’s case, a couple of FBI agents think he is tied up with some Cold War Russian spies. Before he knows it, he is high on the FBI’s wanted list.
Just as unexpectedly as he stumbled into Paradise of long ago, Decker stumbles back out again and finds himself on the present-day East Coast, realising at once that he much more wanted to be in Territorial Hawaii with Leilani than anywhere else. He now focuses his entire life on somehow getting ‘back to paradise’ and reuniting with Leilani. Ben flies back to modern-day Honolulu and tries everything imaginable to track down Leilani across Oahu and over to Hilo on the Big Island where he knew she had come from originally.
And then there's the owl! There is an endemic species of short-eared owls in Hawaii, the pueo, and for whatever reason, I always think of that bird quite fondly. In Hawaiian mythology, an aumakua is a family god that looks over you and can appear in everyday life as a shark, a sea turtle, a hawk and whatnot. I use the pueo in Back to Paradise as an Uncle Kapena's aumakua when he 'talks story' to his niece, Wailani. Somewhere in the background, the pueo watches over their family from start to finish.
At the end of the day, Back to Paradise is, above all else a love story. Yes, of course, that there have been many others who have played with this ‘back-in-time’ romance theme before I did. But Back to Paradise is different because of its Hawaiian setting allowing me to show off one of the most beautiful spots filled with the most beautiful people on Earth.
First things first... Why the "Second Edition" of PROOF! I hear you ask. Simply put, the original University Editions published in Huntington, West Virginia in 1990 has been out of print for years now. Besides that, the typeset was a small font more difficult for my eyes to read. The "PROOF! SECOND EDITION" published in 2019 is the same text as the original with only a few grammatical changes made to that 1990 manuscript.
Yes, yes... I'm going to get to Dansplaining PROOF! in just a minute, but let me show you an interesting side track first. My mate, Bill, shared a link to "Animated map of worldwide UFO sightings" during the second half of 2023 I am amazed at just how many reported incidents have been recorded over the past hundred years or so. I took the liberty of making a frozen version of that animation and included the "Betty and Barney Hill 1961 Abduction" in rural New Hampshire. I included that incident in PROOF! and put both events on the below image. Well there you go - have a look at it and I'll get to the Dansplaining just below that.
More Dansplaning PROOF! (Second Edition published July 2019)
True confession… I have always been interested in the idea of alien life and the possibilities of UFOs being something other than the product wild imaginations. Of course, having academic credentials in the physical sciences and pursuing a career as a teacher and university lecturer, I know full well how unlikely it is that Homo sapiens will even come face-to-face with intelligent alien life. Why?
Frankly, there are two ways of looking at this. First of all, what are the chances of life having evolved elsewhere in the universe? Let’s dissect that notion. Our solar system is 4.6 billion years old, and life has been on Earth for something like 3.5 billion of those years. That is the only sample of life we have, though. Considering there are billions and billions of other possibilities that life has evolved over the 13.7 billion years the universe has been around it is almost unimaginable to think there isn’t other life… other intelligent life, for that matter.
But that brings us to the second point, namely, the laws of physics. We are hemmed in between the speed limit of the universe, namely the speed of light, and the incredible distances between stars and galaxies. Considering we can observe galaxies from light that has travelled for 13.7 billion years to get here, those galaxies must have travelled even farther away during the time that it took for that light to reach us. The point – the distances are so great, and the speed of light limit is so absolute that it is difficult to think we have a great chance of simply bumping into other intelligent life anywhere soon.
All of that said, there are US Government reports in the news lately and it still causes quite a stir. Concerning PROOF!, I've had many conversations with mates and colleagues over the years as to just what one would do if you did see a UFO. Even more, what would you do if you had a close encounter… if you interacted with aliens? I always had a pretty quick answer to that by simply saying that I sure wouldn’t tell anyone since they would think I was crazy. But still, consider that it somehow did happen. I guess the only way I would feel able to share it with anyone would be if I had some proof, a physical object or some artifact that would make me seem less crazy. Of course that was 30+ years ago... Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is quick to point out that today we have over three BILLION smart phones around the world and it's nearly impossible to think that a UFO could somehow avoid being recorded. One way or the other, I'd still want PROOF to backup my claim of being on a saucer.
All these thoughts were part of my rationale for writing PROOF!, my first published novel. That was more than thirty years ago. I recently went through, spruced up PROOF! and now publish it as a Second Edition. I didn’t change the contents any, but refreshed and enlarged the font and made it easier to read than the 1990 edition. The story is exactly the same, though, and plays out in the northeastern part of the USA in 1990. No doubt the setting certainly dates itself. Still, I thought it worth reprinting in a Second Edition simply because the ideas behind the story haven’t dated at all. Is there a God? What would any god have to do with aliens? Is doubt a part of being truly human? Can physical proof of anything ever alleviate doubt?
PROOF! is worth a read. Please feel free to drop a note and let me know what you would do if you came face-to-face with an alien. Would YOU tell anyone? Would you want PROOF!