by Stephan Michael Loy
Meet Charlese Tilbrenner, corn-fed romantic from the Kansas plains. She's always wanted something greater in life, something exciting, something filled with adventure. That's why she ran off to join the Galactic Marines after the Grays, those little, big-headed aliens you see on all the Roswell posters, apologized to Earth for a millennium of abductions and anal probes. The Marines didn't work out for Charlese. Now she has jumped to what she hopes will be a celebrated career as a journalist with Galactic Geographic, the universe's premier news, lifestyle, and feature magazine. You might imagine that Charlese is in for a surprise, but you'd be wrong. She's in for several. From the slums and gated communities of Mars to the ice-bound hell of Jupiter's Europa to the farthest reaches of known space, Charlese and her mentor Bernie Oldman will bring you the greatest stories of the galaxy, from restaurant reviews, farm reports, and fish stories to organized crime, terrorism, and war. A humorous look at science fiction, fantasy, and romance, Galactic Geographic is the world’s first Military Sci-fi Romantic Comedy Satirical Travelogue. Yep, that's our story and we're stickin' to it. Explore the stars. Explore popular culture. Explore the painful, knotted relationships between men and women. That's the universe of Galactic Geographic, asking the question, "What's in YOUR world?"
THE SHORT OF IT:
What happens when you take a romantic, unrealistically-minded girl from rural Kansas and toss her out into the great, wide world? In a time when space flight to other planets, even to other stars, is a done deal. That's what happens to Charlese Tilbrenner, who joins the Galactic Marines in order to see the world, meet new people, and discover the great love of her life. Only it doesn't work out that way. The Marines is a long, repetitive experience of mud, bad food, and sergeants always yelling at you. So Charlese dumps the Marines for the much more genteel and glamorous career of interstellar journalist with Galactic Geographic, the universe's leading news and feature magazine. That's where she meets Bernie Oldman, definitely not the love of her life, and gets whisked unprepared into the haphazard world of scribbling words for a living. Where is all the mystery, wonder, and awe of the cosmos she'd read so much about in those novels? Why is she always cold, muddy, or terrified? Why are people always shooting at her? This isn't what Charlese signed up for, but she didn't sign up for a bout of mental illness, either, but what the hey, life is a bounty.
THE LONG OF IT:
This is how it went down. Twenty minutes from right now, an alien spacecraft lands in Times Square, New York City. Considering that this is Times Square, it takes a while for people to notice. When they are thoroughly satisfied that the event is not a Hollywood gimmick or a performance art gig, the people dutifully panic. It's all the best parts of 1950s science fiction shows, right down to the hapless National Guardsmen sent to form a perimeter around the ship. They needn't have bothered, for when the little big-headed aliens come out, they announce that they come in peace, to serve man. No, really, to serve man, and not in the Twilight Zone way. The Grays, as they are called, have recently discovered that the beings they have been abducting, dissecting, implanting, and anal probing all these centuries have turned out to be intelligent. Who could've figured! So, being the moral folks that they are, the Grays apologize for any discomfort they might have caused and volunteer to make it right. They offer mankind advanced technology, interstellar space travel, and cures to all that ails him, especially nasty stuff like cancer. Almost overnight, humans become a spacefaring species. Nothing at all could go wrong there.
Thirty years after the Revelation of Procedures, as the Grays' self-imposed servitude to Man is called, Charlese Tilbrenner, ex-Galactic Marine, applies for a job as correspondent for Galactic Geographic, the universe's premier news and feature magazine. She gets the job, sure, but after being introduced to her mentor Bernie Oldman, she is all but shanghaied into leaving on assignment, no luggage, no preparation, no plan.
That's pretty much how it goes for Charlese as she stumbles from one outlandish story assignment to another, each increasingly more nerve-wracking and increasingly far from the green fields of Earth. Mars and its environs, including a restaurant for the unforgivably rich; the untouchable farmers who bring in most of the food for daily Martian consumption; and Martian shopping experiences. Jupiter's moon Europa, where scientists ready to explore the ocean beneath the frozen surface. Albireo Mall, a giant space station far out by a naked singularity; you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. Then out to the farthest reaches of galactic civilization, to the ancient Pleiades star cluster and its bizarre, harsh worlds. Along the way, Charlese learns as much about herself as she does about her world. Not all of it is pleasant. She's falling in love with Bernie, her mentor. She can't stand Bernie. her mentor. She can't stand herself. She isn't quite right. Never down a dozen airline bottles of hard liquor on a faster-than-light flight. Reptilian homicidal maniacs make the best of friends. Giant sea monsters do not. And, the most important lesson of all; sociopathic old women with helmet hair are not to be goaded or snubbed if you wish to avoid interstellar war.
Galactic Geographic: funny, irreverent, uncomfortable, thrilling, romantic, introspective, and all-around strange. The world's first military sci-fi romantic comedy satirical travelogue. That's our story, and we're sticking to it!
Tall, blonde, smart, nihilistic, but read too many romances and watched too many chick flicks. Charlese is positive that something better than cornfields waits for her beyond her home in Lawrence, Kansas. Charlese is a girl with standards. They may be questionable and they may be unrealistic, but she has them nonetheless. She knows exactly what kind of man she wants, exactly what kind of career she wants, and both of them are stellar. Tired of proms, homecomings, cruising the town square and testing out the back seats of various boyfriends’ cars, Charlese opts for the ultimate adventure and escape from com fields: she joins the Confederation Galactic Marines to see the universe, meet new people, and maybe kill them. Imagine her disappointment when she fails at that stint in the military. Imagine how much that disappointment grows when she falls for Bernie Oldman, a sarcastic, disheveled, slightly overweight drunk almost a full head shorter than she is. Charlese is not happy. When unhappy, she can express that emotional state in grandly inappropriate ways. One of those involves a talent with foul language. Charlese walks into a dockside bar, sailors come running out screaming and holding their ears. The girl is not right, and she's just enough not right to also not know it. Root for her or despise her, she's clearly such a train wreck you won't take your eyes off her.
Bernie Oldman is a career journalist with Galactic Geographic, the universe's premier news and lifestyle magazine. He goes out among the stars to explore, investigate, and write down what he finds. It may be anything from first contact with an alien race, to stellar politics within the burgeoning Confederation, to recipes for really good Arcturian sulphur-nitrate bean soup. Bernie has won two Pulitzer prizes for his work and is pushing for a plush editorship in Chicago, his home town, or maybe the south of France. But Bernie has a dark secret, a tragedy that threatens to destroy him. It has driven him already to alcoholism. He needs help to escape his downward spiral, help from someone outside his normal acquaintances of gung-ho reporters. He doesn't realize it, but a certain blonde from Kansas might be his best medicine.
The characters of GALACTIC GEOGRAPHIC were designed as a friendly but not entirely polite thumb in the face at the standard characters in formulaic Romance writing. There's the beautiful, sensitive, and also sensual heroine out to discover herself. Who curses like a sailor (really, if you can't handle the fiery blue abuse of language, do not go here, I warn you!), is hopelessly, irredeemably romantic, who makes every wrong decision you could possibly imagine and, oh yes, is mentally unstable. Then there's the leading man, an alcoholic, overweight, pudgy, sloppily dressed, ascerbic cynic with his own unresolved issues, just like all the heroes in Romance books, right?
But, more seriously, these characters are meant to be people, to behave in ways real people behave, complete with all their unpredictable and sometimes unsavory quirks. You probably won't like Charlese Tilbrenner, but hopefully you will believe her.
Click the PDF files below to enjoy the first three chapters of GALACTIC GEOGRAPHIC. These excerpts introduce the basic conflict and the two primary characters. It gives you a fair idea of the unusual and irreverent tone of this novel. You will need a PDF reader such as Microsoft Word, Pages, or Adobe Acrobat Reader to view these files. You can download Acrobat Reader here, for free.
Boy meets girl. Boy irritates and horrifies girl. Boy and monolithic employer kidnap girl.
This is what happens when you wake up in a strange motel room next to a guy you hardly know. If you're on another planet and sick enough to hurl your lungs.