order of oddfish cover

The Order of Oddfish

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The Strange Ship

November 17, 2008


I took my first stab at writing a book in November 1980. I called it The Strange Ship. I was very excited to finish it. Remembering childhood is tricky, but I vividly recall laying on my bedroom floor, drawing the cover. I carefully traced around a quarter to make sure the planets were round.

In my vain, self-indulgent way, I’ve decided to put The Strange Ship on this blog. (What’s the Internet for, if not vain self-indulgence?) Thanks to Cynthia for scanning it in. To make it easier to read, I’ve typed the text below each page and tidied up the spelling. (As to why the two nameless heroes are called “money men,” that’s anyone’s guess. Roving alien accountants?)

Anyway — after twenty-eight years of sitting at the bottom of a box — my first book, The Strange Ship!

The Strange Ship -- Cover

The cover.

The Strange Ship -- Title Page

The title page.

A long time ago, moneymen explored outer space.

A long time ago, moneymen explored outer space.

They found a ghost ship. They went inside to look. They saw a big creature. One moneyperson screamed in terror. The other one shot the creature.

They found a ghost ship. They went inside to look. They saw a big creature. One moneyperson screamed in terror. The other one shot the creature.

The money man turned around and didn't see his buddy. His droid companion, 5-0-6, followed him as he disappeared down the hallway. 5-0-6 met another droid as they rolled in a opposite direction and now the money person was alone.

The money man turned around and didn’t see his buddy. His droid companion, 5-0-6, followed him as he disappeared down the hallway. 5-0-6 met another droid as they rolled in a opposite direction and now the money person was alone.

The money person saw a secret passageway. He opened it and saw a creature in a black clope and with a sword. The money person shot at it but was no use.

The money person saw a secret passageway. He opened it and saw a creature in a black clope and with a sword. The money person shot at it but was no use.

'You captured my friend!' said the money person. 'Right, 5-0-6?' he turned. There was nothing. No 5-0-6 was there either. Then he knew he was alone. He shot the lazer beam through the mysterious head.

“You captured my friend!” said the money person. “Right, 5-0-6?” he turned. There was nothing. No 5-0-6 was there either. Then he knew he was alone. He shot the lazer beam through the mysterious head.

It was time to get the prisoner out. The money person went to look through the cells then he found the money person but not only him - there was 5-0-6 too! They headed for the money ship but some creatures blocked them off!

It was time to get the prisoner out. The money person went to look through the cells then he found the money person but not only him – there was 5-0-6 too! They headed for the money ship but some creatures blocked them off!

More strange sights appeared as these moneymen scramble their way through the hallways and then big, big, big creatures came out.

More strange sights appeared as these moneymen scramble their way through the hallways and then big, big, big creatures came out.

Carziperes, one of the giant creatures, had a tail like a devil and had a big trunk he didn't use often. He used antennaes to contact with things far away.

Carziperes, one of the giant creatures, had a tail like a devil and had a big trunk he didn’t use often. He used antennaes to contact with things far away.

Dipozipers was like a Diplosaurus the dinosaur. It had two antennaes but it had no protection.

Dipozipers was like a Diplosaurus the dinosaur. It had two antennaes but it had no protection.

Zarzit had antennaes, a strange head (that was protected by armor), a feather for luck and sharp toes. All except Dipozipers were fast and ready for attack.

Zarzit had antennaes, a strange head (that was protected by armor), a feather for luck and sharp toes. All except Dipozipers were fast and ready for attack.

Well, the droid 5-0-6 wandered off to see what was in store for them. It was not long before Carziperes blew the droid to pieces.

Well, the droid 5-0-6 wandered off to see what was in store for them. It was not long before Carziperes blew the droid to pieces.

One of the moneymen found the blasted pieces. He forget what in heaven's sake the droid looked like. These moneymen were always prepared for an emergency. He got his Kleenex box out and emptied the Kleenex, then put the parts in the box.

One of the moneymen found the blasted pieces. He forget what in heaven’s sake the droid looked like. These moneymen were always prepared for an emergency. He got his Kleenex box out and emptied the Kleenex, then put the parts in the box.

'I'll bring this to the ship,' he said as he put the parts in the box. When both moneymen met, the other one looked confused. 'What a mess!' he said.

“I’ll bring this to the ship,” he said as he put the parts in the box. When both moneymen met, the other one looked confused. “What a mess!” he said.

'We'll take this to the ship.' 'That's what I was planning to say,' said the moneyman who was holding the box.

“We’ll take this to the ship.” “That’s what I was planning to say,” said the moneyman who was holding the box.

As they got into the ship, the moneyperson that was holding the box almost sneezed. 'The Kleenex!' he put the box down and sneezed out the window.

As they got into the ship, the moneyperson that was holding the box almost sneezed. “The Kleenex!” he put the box down and sneezed out the window.

Then he started up the ship and flew off. In the pepper compartment, a hatch flew open. The pepper came out into the strange ship.

Then he started up the ship and flew off. In the pepper compartment, a hatch flew open. The pepper came out into the strange ship.

Everyone sneezed in the ship. They all wanted at least one piece of Kleenex that was on the floor.

Everyone sneezed in the ship. They all wanted at least one piece of Kleenex that was on the floor.

Then they sneezed so powerful the whole ship exploded. 'We did it!' said one money person. The other one said, 'Did what?' 'The ship had a self-destruction!' 'You mean a self-sneeze!' said the other.

Then they sneezed so powerful the whole ship exploded. “We did it!” said one money person. The other one said, “Did what?” “The ship had a self-destruction!” “You mean a self-sneeze!” said the other.

The Strange Ship -- The End

Yes, possibly the greatest closing line in history.

Reading this again, it’s easy to spot where I borrowed from movies I loved like Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and The Black Hole. As for the sneezing and Kleenex — I don’t know why that’s so central to the climax. Perhaps I had a cold.

Later on I also wrote The Strange Ship: Part II, but I won’t inflict that on the world yet. (UPDATE: I decided to go ahead and inflict it on the world. Click here for The Strange Ship: Part II!)

P.S. My friend Gina Anderson interviewed me for www.jetwit.com last week! Gina and I were both in Nara, Japan on the JET program at the same time. (“Jetwit” is a group for JETs who are writers, interpreters, and translators.)

Check out the interview to learn my first choice for my epitaph!