DIGITAL PARCHMENT SERVICES Announces the Republication of William Charles Rotsler's PATRON OF THE ARTS

Digital Parchment Services

Is Proud to Announce the Republication oWilliam Charles Rotsler's Nebula, Hugo and Locus Award Finalist Saga


For Immediate Release

Digital Parchment Services, through its Strange Particle Press science fiction imprint, and the estate of William Charles Rotsler are proud to announce the exclusive publication of an enhanced edition of Rotsler's 1974 novel Patron of the Arts ... based on his triple-award nominee fiction novelette of the same name. 

Born in 1926, William Charles Rotsler was truly a renaissance man: acclaimed novelist and short story writer, photographer and filmmaker, much-admired artist and illustrator and – how he is perhaps best remembered – and as a warm and special part of science fiction fandom.  Star Trek fans particularly owe Rotsler a debt for giving Lt. Uhura the first name of Nyota

Rotsler had a hand in locating the fossils, crystals and stones for the Nebula Award trophies as well as receiving five Hugo awards for his cartoon work that appeared in fanzines, convention program books, and magazines such as Locus. To honor Rotsler, The Southern California Institute for Fan Interests created the William Rotsler Art Award in 1998.  William Rotsler died in southern California in 1997. 

"Patron of the Arts gives us a future where art is a major driver in the culture. He envisions new technologies that deepen our arts and alter how we see our world. Rotsler at the top of his form." –Gregory Benford

Brian Thorne was a billionaire. There were only two things he cared about: women and art. And because he could afford it, he paid the world's finest artist to combine the two, to make a work of art of the unforgettable, incomparable Madelon in the new and extraordinary artform: the sensatron. Then Madelon and the artist disappeared – through the sensatron. And all the money in the world could not help Brian Thorne. To solve the secret of the sensatron, he was strictly on his own... 

That is how Brian Thorne, billionaire, found himself helpless—caught in a magnificent crystal creation that grew on Mars, and without any resources even if he could get away from the killers who trapped him there. For although they knew he was Brian Thorne, he couldn't prove it. To find Madelon and the sensatron, he had gone to considerable trouble to cover his tracks. Now he wished he had not been so thorough in turning his back on the luxury-lined and very well-guarded life he lived back on Earth. Now, when it was too late!

"A fine novel!" –Harlan Ellison

This new edition of Patron of the Arts features special bonus content – including a foreword by Nebula winner Gregory Benford, an afterword by Lambda finalist M.Christian, and a biographical sketch written by the author himself. The enhanced ebook version is available now – and a premier trade paperback edition will be coming in January, 2015.

Coming soon from Digital Parchment Services will be new releases of William Rotsler's novels To the Land of the Electric AngelZandra, The Hidden Worlds of Zandra, and Far Frontier, as well as a collection of Rotsler's short stories.

The Authorized William Charles Rotsler site

Introductory price: $2.99 – regularly $.5.99 
ISBN: 9781615085828

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Free Read Sample Chapter EPIC Award Finalist Family Memoir Interesting Times

Free Read Sample Chapter Joe Vadalma's EPIC Award Finalist Family Memoir Interesting Times


In September of 1938 I started Kindergarten at LaSalle School in Chicago. On my first day, some of the kids cried, but I liked school. There were toys and other kids to play with. The teacher was friendly. The only thing that went wrong on my first day was that I did not go inside after recess when the bell rang. After all the other children were gone from the play yard, I did not know how to return to class. I did not cry but simply stared at the heavy door that I could not open until someone noticed I was missing and came for me.
But that was me. I was always a little different, living an active fantasy life and a bit ahead of others my age in certain ways.
School was like a new life for me. I took to learning like a desert traveler stumbling upon an oasis, drinking in knowledge as though my capacity was limitless. In addition, I loved the independence school gave me. I was no longer always under the thumb of my parents since the teachers allowed me a certain amount of freedom.  However, even honey has hazards. For me the sting came because I was small, quiet and not athletic — an easy prey for bullies. In my innocence, I let it be known that I did not believe in God, earning me a Christian beating in the schoolyard.
When I started first grade, my mother returned to work part time from nine o’clock until one in the afternoon to supplement my dad's low income at the candy factory.
In the first grade, I was the third best reader in the class. I loved books and reading, probably because my parents read a lot. I would have been the best reader, except for one question on the test that puzzled me. It asked what a robin said and what a horse said and given a choice of "Cheer-up" or "Neigh." Being a city boy, up to that point I had never seen a robin, and all the horses I had ever encountered, never said a thing. So I figured that logically a horse would be friendly and say “Cheer-up.” The only choice for a robin had to be “Neigh.”
In those days, there were still work horses in the city. Men drove wagons pulled by horses through the alleys to collect junk. They would yell, “Old iron, old iron.” The kids called them “rag pickers.” Many of these men were African-American. Some of the kids in the neighborhood warned me that the “niggers” carried big knives and would hurt me.
My parents had an ice box in lieu of a refrigerator, which meant an iceman would come into the house carrying a big block of ice with tongs. This went into the top part of the icebox and slowly melted into a large pan underneath. Every couple of days, the pan needed to be emptied. I would take one end, my dad the other. Sloshing water all over the kitchen floor, we took it to the sink to empty it. During the summer, I and my friends would steal slivers of ice off of the ice trucks.
By third grade, when other boys were engaged in sports and rough games, I escaped through books. Soon I exhausted the library shelves for my age group and began to read books written for older children. By seventh grade, my tastes were for adult fare.
Nonetheless, I was not a recluse. With my close friends I would play marbles, toy soldiers, cowboys and Indians, Americans and Nazis, hide-and-go-seek, street softball and other childhood games. One of my best friends was the impoverished Bobby, whose clothes were ill-fitting and patched and who always seemed not exactly clean. Sometimes after dark, we boys would sneak into a closed lumberyard by the Chicago River to play war among the forbidden heaps of sand and gravel.
I also enjoyed listening to music on the radio or on the phonograph. The 1940s was the era of the big bands and crooners, such as Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. The bands I liked were Artie Shaw, Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton and Stan Kenton. My favorite singers were the Andrew Sisters, Nat King Cole and Lena Horne. When alone in the house, I used to dance around to Rum and Coca Cola. As I grew older I began to appreciate jazz and rhythm and blues.

During the depression my grandfather, Laszlo, had opened a dry cleaning store which failed.  He and my grandmother lost their life savings which they had invested in it. But poverty was not new to them, and they made the best of it. Laszlo returned to his old trade as a tailor for other people's cleaning businesses. While my grandfather's establishment was still viable, my uncles worked with him and learned the business. Uncle John became a spotter which was the highest paid position in the cleaning business. The other two of my mother's brothers worked as pressers.
Although my parents were poor, they still enjoyed life. They took long walks in Lincoln Park, went to North Avenue and Oak Street beaches to swim in the summer, played cards and had family picnics. To celebrate Christmas the married couples in the family took turns having the others over for dinner and a party. The family grew as my mother's siblings married and had children of their own. When it became too large to have their celebrations at someone’s home, they chipped in and rented a hall or restaurant for the party, and each family brought food to share. Usually soft drinks and alcohol could be purchased at the establishment. But that was much later.
Sometimes when my dad worked nights at the candy factory, my mother was afraid to go to sleep until he came home. It was difficult for him to adjust to a sleeping pattern because they changed shifts every few months. By the time he got used to one shift the factory changed his hours again.
During the early years of her marriage my mother had many sore throats and colds. Also I was often plagued by bronchitis. In 1939 when I was six years old, my mom and I had our tonsils removed. We stayed overnight in rooms in the doctor's office which was like a clinic. I was given an anesthetic which put me to sleep. I recovered quickly and was able to eat ice cream after two days. My mother's tonsils were removed under a local anesthetic. She was required to hold a bowl to spit out the blood. Removal of the first tonsil went well, but my mom became so upset by the time the doctor had a difficult time removing the other tonsils. My mom's neck swelled up, and she could hardly swallow for the next two weeks. The doctor botched the job so that the rest of her life, she had trouble with that side of her throat.
One Christmas my parents bought me an electric train, and my dad and my uncles stayed up half the night playing with it.
The movie “The Wizard of Oz” was a great influence on me. My parents took me to see it in a theater. It was not so much the movie itself that influenced me as the fact that I became interested in the Oz Books, the entire series of continuing adventures of children who visited the wonderful Land of Oz, by Frank Baum, Ruth Thompson and J. R. Neill. My dad once built a replica of the Tin Man out of old stove pipes. Another children’s book that I read over and over was Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.” Some of my other favorites were “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,” “Tom Sawyer,” “Huckleberry Finn,” and books about pirates like Captain Kidd and Blackbeard.
In September 1939 when I was six, Hitler invaded Poland. That year the economy improved and jobs became more plentiful because of the war in Europe. Many factories shifted to arms production to sell to nations involved in the conflict. The world was preparing for the world's worst conflict, World War Two.

In 1940 my family moved to Burling Street across the street from Newberry Grammar School, where I started second grade. I became good friends with Harriet, a girl my age who lived on the first floor of the house next door. Soon after we moved, my parents purchased the house where Harriet lived, a two-story two-flat brick building. My friend now lived downstairs from me. However, when Harriet's fireman father was killed in a fire, my good friend moved away.
Also, in 1940, my Uncle Chuck bought a two-flat frame house down the street. He made a lot of improvements to the building. For this, he was awarded a prize of five hundred dollars by the Lincoln Park Conservation Association.
The house I lived in from the time I was seven until I left home was a two-story brick building on a twenty-five by hundred foot lot. It was set back from the sidewalk a few feet. A picket fence divided our property from the public walkway. Half of the front yard was paved, and we used this as a patio. My dad had a flower garden in the other half. A gangway on the left facing the building led to the backyard. There were two entrances. The one on the left led to a staircase to the flat where we lived. The one on the right led to the first floor apartment. At the rear of the house, the backyard was paved near the house and unpaved from there to a storage shed except for a paved walkway that ran down the middle. Fencing divided our house from the neighbors.
The upstairs and downstairs flats were laid out identically. The main rooms were in a line as follows: the living room was at the front of the house and had a closet to one side; next was the dining room with my bedroom to one side of it: near the rear of the house was the kitchen with my parents' bedroom off of it. The bathroom was to one side between the dining room and the kitchen. It contained a bathtub and sink, but no shower. At the rear of the kitchen was an enclosed porch which was used for both storage and as an extra sitting room. I usually played with my toys there except when the winter weather made it too cold.
My parents had an iron stove in the kitchen which they called a garbage burner. In it they burned trash, newspapers, wood and coal. Sometimes it would get so hot it would turn cherry red. There was a tray at the bottom which had to be emptied of ashes. In the winter my dad would spread the ashes on the steps and walkway outside so that people wouldn’t slip on the ice and snow.
My mother had a round washing machine which had a ringer on top. After the clothes were washed, she ran them through the ringer to get the excess water out. The ringer consisted of two rollers which turned mechanically by a crank or by an electrical motor. The clothes would go in-between them. The type that turned by an electric motor could be dangerous. My mother had to take care not to get her hand or clothing she was wearing caught in the ringer.
In the dining room we had an oil space heater. This posed all sorts of dangers, from fuel oil spills, clogged pipes and chimneys, and possible explosions. Our radio had vacuum tubes and was housed in a piece of furniture. My Aunt Anna had a windup Victrola. My parents were modern and had an electric phonograph that played 78 rpm vinyl records.
Under the house was crawl space with a narrow aisle that was entered from the backyard by opening a trapdoor and walking down concrete steps. After a heavy rain this would flood, and my parents and I would have to bail it out by hand using buckets.

In September of 1941 I started third grade. In the school library I read a book about a trip to various planets of the solar system. This turned me on to science-fiction, astronomy and science in general. My favorite subject in school was arithmetic. I enjoyed it so much that I made up problems to do.
On December 7 of that year the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Franklin D. Roosevelt with the concurrence of congress declared war on Germany, Italy and Japan, known as the Axis Powers. I was seven years old and heard the news over the radio. When war broke out, there was a big parade in downtown Chicago that lasted fourteen hours. Many unions and workers marched to show there solidarity with Roosevelt's decision to declare war on the Axis.
During the war, certain foods and heating oil was rationed. My parents bought meat from a butcher on Willow St., but the government closed him up because he was sympathetic to Hitler. They went to another butcher, but he refused to sell meat to new customers because it was scarce. He said his steady customers came first. They continued doing business with this butcher and bought end pieces of sausage and bare bones to make soup. After a few weeks the butcher finally sold them meat. Another scarce item was nylon stockings. As a result my mom did not wear any for the duration of the war.
The stores were different in the forties. There were no malls or supermarkets. Except for the big department stores downtown, shopping was done at little mom and pop specialty stores. Meat was bought at a butcher shop; groceries at a grocery store; drugs at a pharmacy (which didn’t sell other stuff); magazines, comic books, candy and cigarettes were sold at a candy store; chickens were sold at a chicken store where the customer picked out a live chicken, the owner took the choice in the back, killed it and removed the feathers; and of course there were the malt shops, where the high school kids hung out.
Our family was issued a ration card with stamps for things in short supply such as meat, gasoline, cigarettes and coffee. Because my dad was a friend of the man who owned the candy and cigarette store in our neighborhood, I would be sent to buy cartons of cigarettes hidden under the counter for my dad while adult customers who were strangers to the owner would get sent away after being told that the supply of cigarettes was sold out.
There were practice blackouts where everyone drew heavy drapes across their windows and turned off most of the lights in the house. In school I bought “war” stamps which were pasted into a book, which when filled could be exchanged for a Twenty-five Dollar War Bond, similar to a Twenty-five Dollar Savings Bond of today.
During the war our family was glued to the radio news broadcasts. The newspapers had maps showing the progress of the war. Besides the news I and my parents listened to the radio variety shows such as Bob Hope and Jack Benny, sitcoms such as Fibber McGee and Molly and Duffy’s Tavern, and dramas such as The Inner Sanctum which featured a squeaking door. In the afternoons, I hurried home from school to listen to serials such as Terry and the Pirates, Jack Armstrong, All American Boy and The Shadow.
In 1942 I entered the fourth grade. My fourth grade teacher was tall, unattractive and thoroughly disliked by all the students. Her name was Miss Palmer. Behind her back, the students called her “Palmer, Palmer, the old Jap Bomber.” Her favorite thing was to have the class copy pages out of books while she left the room to do who knew what. One time, I became disgusted and scribbled nonsense. When I refused to copy pages, I was sent to the school psychologist, and my mother had to take a day off of work for a conference.
When I was ten-years-old (1943), my parents allowed me to travel downtown by myself. I felt quite the adult riding the subway to the downtown shopping area. I enjoyed Marshall Fields and other department stores and liked to ride the escalators. I especially enjoyed browsing through the book department. If I had the money, I would buy an Oz book. Around Christmas time, the big department stores had displays with moving characters and other attractions to lure children and their parents into the stores.
Many children of all ages lived on our block. We played cowboys and Indians using cap pistols and bow and arrows and medieval combat in which we had at each other with sticks for swords. We also played, marbles, softball with a sixteen-inch softball (this ball was softer than a normal softball so that it could bounce off parked cars without doing too much damage), hardball in Lincoln Park, hide-and-seek in which kids would sometimes never be found, and crack-the-whip on roller-skates. Sometimes in the evening, the neighborhood kids got together on a stoop to simply talk and joke around.
One time I and some friends were playing hardball in the park and my cousin Kenny was the catcher. A foul ball caught him in the teeth. He was lucky that none were knocked out. Another time my family had a picnic in our backyard and was playing Bingo with navy beans for markers. Kenny stuck one in his ear, and it swelled and would not come out. He had to go to the hospital that time.
I had accidents as well. One time Kenny and I were chasing each other around my grandmother's yard. As I ran toward the gangway, Kenny yelled something to me. I turned to hear what Kenny was saying, but kept running. When I turned back, a ladder that had been leaning against the side of the house in the gangway was right in front of me. I smacked right into it, practically knocking myself out. Another thing that we kids used to do was climb on the fence and swing on the limb of a tree that grew there. One time, the limb broke; and I fell knocking the wind out of me. Another time, I hit my friend Ted with a board on the head. What I did not know was that it had a large nail in it. Blood spurted from the wound. Nonetheless, Ted was essentially unhurt except for a scalp wound. His parents were furious with me.
I and my friends climbed on the roofs of sheds that were in each backyard, sometimes going from shed to shed on their roofs. One time I climbed up on the garage of the man who lived in back of our house. The roof of which was shingled with brittle ceramic shingles that easily worked loose. The neighbor spotted me and came after me with a pitchfork.

To read all of Joe Vadalma's award finalist memoir of his family through two world wars, the turn of a new century and beyond click here - only $2.99 - free for Kindle Unlimited.

PageTurner Author Joe Vadalma's Family Memoir "Interesting Times" Named 2015 EPIC Non-Fiction eBook Awards™ Finalist

We are proud to announce that our author, Joe Vadalma, has been named a finalist for the 2015 EPIC eBook Award in the Non-Fiction category. When fantasy author Vadalma, the Morgaine Chronicles, sent us his non-fiction family memoir, Interesting Times: The Story of an American Family in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Century, we found it a fascinating read and knew it was something special. We are thrilled that the EPIC Awards committee agreed with us. We wish Joe all the luck in the world at awards time, and if he doesn't win, it won't be because he wrote an unworthy book.

Here is how the author describes this memorable memoir: "The story of my family from the time my grandparents immigrated to the United States just prior to World War I until the present day. It relates how historical events and circumstances affected us. The earlier chapters are based on my research of the life and times of those periods and stories I was told by my elders. The later chapters consist of my memories of my adventures up to the present date."

DIGITAL PARCHMENT SERVICES Publishes MIRROR, MIRROR By Star Trek And Fantastic Voyage Writer Jerome Bixby!

(from Futures-Past Editions)

Is Proud To Announce The Publication Of

Classic SF By The Famed Star Trek And Fantastic Voyage Writer


For Immediate Release

"Mirror, Mirror", the first collection of Jerome Bixby's science fiction in nearly fifty years, showcases three forgotten pulp magazine stories by that Bixby adapted for the acclaimed Star Trek episode.

Before he wrote four fan-favorite Star Trek episodes (receiving a nomination for the coveted Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation), and the screen story for the movie Fantastic Voyage, Jerome Bixby (1923-1998) was a highly regarded professional science fiction magazine editor and writer remembered for his "yeoman work in raising the standards of the science fiction action story (…) whose own stories, though few, are much sought after by discriminating readers." (Science Fiction Stories 1953) 

Bixby soon deserted magazine editing for Hollywood, where he wrote a number of low-budget, late-1950s monster movies including It: The Terror from Beyond Space (the acknowledged inspiration for Alien), and landed scripting chores on the documentaryesque early science fiction television series, Men Into Space, before striking it big when he sold Fantastic Voyage to a studio.

Jerome Bixby is best remembered, however, for the four episodes he wrote for the original Star Trek television series, and is much revered by series fans for introducing, in "Mirror, Mirror," the concept of the "mirror universe" where The Federation and Kirk, Spock, et al, are all their evil exact opposites in character and deed.  

Bixby also wrote three other episodes, "By Any Other Name," "Day of the Dove," and, "Requiem for Methuselah," all of which critics and fans rank among the best in the series. 

Fans of all types will thrill to learn that this first-ever collection focusing on Jerome Bixby's science fiction will showcase a trior of never-before-reprinted novelettes containing ideas that Bixby would later mine and transmogrify in two of his highly regarded Star Trek episodes, "One-Way Street" and "Mirror, Mirror" (both used in the ST script "Mirror, Mirror") and "Cargo to Callisto" (used in "By Any Other Name"). 

The collection will also contain Bixby's most famous short story, "It's a Good Life," memorably dramatized first on The Twilight Zone, then in the Twilight Zone Movie, and finally reinterpreted for the twenty-first century on the series 2002-3 incarnation, in "It's Still a Good Life." 

Other Bixby classics include his first SF story for a pulp magazine, "Tubemonkey" (1949), and his very last, "The God Plllnk" (1964). You will also find a half-dozen other "lost" stories and novelettes reprinted for the first time since their original magazine publication in the 1950 and '60s. 

Mirror, Mirror was edited and features a long personal Introduction by his son, screenwriter and producer, Emerson Bixby.

To be released in both trade paperback and as an ebook, "Mirror, Mirror Classic SF by the Famed Star Trek and Fantastic Voyage Writer" is a collection with something for everyone; it's for fans of pulp magazines, for fans of good science fiction writing, and for every fan who has ever journeyed along the space lanes with Kirk, Spock and McCoy.

Digital Parchment Services ebooks and paperbacks are available online through Amazon, B&N, and other sites, while our ebooks debut at Amazon for Kindle, and other platforms and bookselling sites to be announced.

Introductory price: $3.99 – Regularly $6.99            
ISBN 9781615082414

Trade Paper             
Introductory price $9.99 – Regularly $14.99
ISBN 9781503302433

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Digital Parchment Services is a complete ebook and print service for literary estates and literary agents. The founders of Digital Parchment Services are pioneers in digital publishing who have collectively published over 2,500 ebooks and PoD paperbacks since 1998. 

DPS clients include the estates of multiple Hugo winning author William Rotsler, and science fiction legend Jody Scott; authors such as Locus Award finalist Ernest Hogan, Hugo and Nebula nominee Arthur Byron Cover, prize winning mystery author Jerry Oster, psychologist John Tamiazzo, Ph.D., award winning nutritionist Ann Tyndall; and Best of Collections from Fate Magazine and Amazing Stories.

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The Heroes
THE EMPEROR – Central figure of The Emperorverse, smart, swift, capable of amazing feats, all but indestructible, well dressed, and able to charm beautiful women with a single smile, Charles Lee Jackson, II, not only leads the fight for law and justice against all odds but collects the records of his cases and those of his partners to dramatize them for you.
BILL MILLS – Musician, stuntman, and adventurer who joined The Emperor to make motion pictures and stayed to fight crime. Whether on stage or in the field, a winner.
MAX DECKER – Federal Intelligence agent who met The Emperor in the field and worked for many years as a crime-fighter while masquerading as a criminal gang-leader, The Gila.
CHRISTOPHER "KIT" CASSIDAY – Innocent secretary who gets caught up in the deadly battle between The Emperor and the villain.
The Villains – but not this time
VARAN HARUCHI – The Black Dragon, leader and creator of Continent-Eight, the international Executive of Crime, expatriate Japanese criminal whose exposure to arcane experimental chemicals has resulted in his long-lived youthful appearance, and who, due to plastic surgery, now bears an uncanny resemblance to The Emperor.
DR. YALTA – Doctor and dentist recruited by US intelligence for his resemblance to warlord Adolf Hitler, kept young by the same accident, supervises medical and scientific crimes for Continent-Eight.
MASKMAN – Mysterious helmeted figure, whose true identity is unknown even to his partners in crime, who supervises scientific crimes, and conducts experiments for the Continent-Eight.
The Villain
HORST STERLING ROSEFELD – Mysterious and powerful leader of the Church of Nihilism, dedicated to the destruction of the human race, and ruthless enough to accomplish it. His great strength and endurance make him a dangerous foe for The Emperor.

Chapter One Miner Difficulties
Chapter Two In Your Philosophy
Chapter Three The Dead and the Quick
Chapter Four The Terrors of the Earth
Chapter Five Idylls of The Emperor
Chapter Six Storming the Castle
Chapter Seven Going Bughouse
Chapter Eight A Mighty Man Is He
Chapter Nine The Old Town Tonight
Chapter Ten The Not-so-quick and…
Chapter Eleven Deadly Cold
Chapter Twelve Relatively Heroic
Last Chapter Alice's Queen Refigured

YOU SEE ALL sorts of things out in the country.
Understand, I didn't see this, didn't hear of it, didn't even know about it until recently, but once a few facts came to light and I started to put things together, this is what I found.
It was like a sort of ripple, or a flat dust-devil, a loose agglomeration of particles loping across the ground. The first mention of it was in a police report, out near the desert town of Llano, north of Los Angeles. It was November of nineteen seventy-seven. Several elderly folks complained about ants crawling over their feet – but there were no ants to be found, no indication of their passage, no bite marks, nothing.
   Christmas that year brought an account of "dust bunnies" on the highway near Red Rock Canyon. A park ranger claimed that something that looked like little tumbleweeds not only rolled past him, but detoured around him when he stepped in front of them. The ranger followed the tumbleweedy stuff for over an hour, observing that it was really more like a wave, thicker enough in spots to be obvious but thinned out in others.
   In Mojave, California, the next spring, things that looked like actual tumbleweeds were spotted blowing through town – except that the wind was from the east, and the "tumbleweeds" were moving against it. A woman at a motel swore that the dusty stuff had broken open, diverting around the building!
   The last report came from a couple of superannuated hippies who'd been camped out in the wilderness north of Edwards Air Force Base. They claimed to have seen waves of dust converging on a central point, where they climbed one upon the other, building into a tower about six feet high, a mass that coalesced into a man!
   The man roughed up the couple, knocking down the hippie and threatening the girl until she gave him some of their clothes; for the man's own suit, some sort of uniform, was scorched and tattered.
Given that when the pair stumbled into the local sheriff's office both were somewhat the worse for wear and not a little under the influence, the report was taken and filed and forgotten.
   It shouldn't have been, but one can hardly blame the sheriff for discounting the story. He'd never heard any of the other reports, and wouldn't have connected them if he had.
But it sure would've saved me a lot of trouble.

I'D JUST COME back from a science-fiction convention the Thanksgiving week-end of that year, where I'd been one of many guest speakers. Being too early Monday morning for any reasonable person to be awake, I was dressed casually, which means no neck-tie. I'd just sat down when my executive assistant, Heather McKenzie, entered my office and without preamble said, "When did you sell the Lone Star?"
   I looked at her, five and three-quarters of a foot of pretty – and pretty efficient – young woman with sandy blonde hair and bright green eyes, dressed in a sharp looking straw-colored suit and a beige silk blouse with a scarf-neckline.
"Well, we just got a call from Ramsom saying some guy named Sterling showed up this morning with papers saying you did."
   To bring you up to speed, the "Lone Star" is a little silver mine I own up in Idaho, and Ramsom, the foreman, is a young member of the family that had originally owned it in the nineteenth century. Both that family and I have brought a lot of ore out of that hole, and I've used my share of the resultant wealth to finance my what-you-call second career, the fight against crime.
   I mused only a moment before saying, "Then I'd better run up there and disabuse this 'Sterling' of that notion."
   "Yes, Sire," McKenzie said with a smile, "Nobody steals from… The Emperor."

Chapter One
Miner Difficulties
BEFORE SUNDOWN I was standing in the trailer that comprised the office of the Lone Star Mine, an hour out of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Outside was a verdant landscape only slightly blighted by the diggings. Like the original owners, I'd kept the mine entrance concealed, and left the surroundings unblemished.
   If you're not familiar with me, that was my name on the title page, and my nom de guerre in the title itself. As a crippled child, I had strived to overcome my difficulties and had succeeded more thoroughly than anyone could have guessed, and now I'm gifted with abilities and skills beyond those of ordinary men. Though my career is entertainment, my responsibility is using my power for Good. So I'm a story-teller by day and a crime-fighter by, well, by day, too. In the late 'seventies I was primarily involved in making motion pictures, but images or words, the adventures I produce are based mainly upon case files of actual events in which my Swashbuckling friends and I have been involved.
   You may have seen some of my re-creations, and if so, you'd recognize me: five, ten; brown hair with a bit of red in it and a little gray; blue eyes with green sunbursts in them; a ready wit and the smile of a pirate, dressed most often in black trousers and shirt, with a gray jacket and silver neck-tie. You couldn't miss me.
   I was running my operation from an office in a building north of Hollywood Boulevard, into which I'd recently moved after my previous location nearby had been fire-bombed by an organization known as "Dominion" in retaliation for my foiling two of their devilish plans of conquest and destruction, about which you may have read. My associates and I were settling into the new digs well, and it looked at the time like we'd be back in business on a full time basis soon.
   Part of that business was entertainment, but the part of it upon which I had just embarked was the other part, trouble-busting. 
   After speaking to foreman Ramsom by telephone, I'd made a few other calls, squared away the entertainment business for the day, and fired up my favorite aircraft, Skystar, a jet plane styled like the famous Concorde, with its modified delta wings and "scoop snoot", but about a third the size. Equipped with panels of a gravity-defying metal, it can take off and land pretty much anywhere, so it was now settled in the middle of the mine's dirt parking lot. As the employees had all been sent home that morning, there was plenty of room in that lonely location.

IDAHO MAY BE more famous for potatoes, but it's also a great place for forestry, services, and mining. Deposits of silver and molybdenum in several parts of the state have brought in millions over the years, though within a decade of this particular adventure some of the old holes would be played out to the detriment of the market.
   The Gem State joined the Union in eighteen ninety, and some parts of it seemed unchanged since those days; in fact, a sign reading "Lewis and Clark wuz here" wouldn't have looked out of place in Shoshone County, in the east part of the tall skinny neck of the state. That rustic quality wouldn't last long, though, for the population had been on the increase for decades, and the trend looked like it would continue through the turn of the century.
   Shoshone is Rocky Mountain country, and one of the silver-bearing areas is in a pastoral area just north of the Saint Joe National Forest, and about ten miles from the county seat, Wallace.
Recent rains made the area lush, with pines and grass competing for any available green. Even the other mines, several in a comparatively small tract, made less of an impact on the environment than they might have, with little surface evidence beyond the big holes in the ground. Most of the offices adjacent to these mines were temporary structures, for all the many years they'd stood.

IN MY OFFICE/TRAILER, for example, I was standing over a fellow seated at what should've been Ramsom's desk. Sitting in his place was this stranger, nicely dressed in a brown sharkskin suit, tan shirt, and maroon neck-tie, a stocky fellow, about six feet tall, with a lantern jaw and black eyes. His complexion was sallow, but seemed like it should be ruddy, somehow.
   He scowled up at me, entirely unimpressed by my striking figure.
   "I'm here to see the manager," I said, starting out polite.
   "I'm in charge here," he claimed.
   "You're not the manager," I told him. "I'm looking for Mister Ramson. He was here the last I time I came up."
   "Ramson's gone. I'm in charge here, now. If that's all, good day."
   "It's not all. Do you know who I am?"
   "I don't care who you are," he said. "I'm in charge of this property."
   "I'd like to know how. This mine has been in the same hands for almost twenty years."
   "Well, it's not any more. I bought this mine property free and clear from the owner, and that's all there is to say. Now get out."
   "You're welcome to try to move me, Mister…?"
   "Sterling. Horst Sterling."
   "Sterling. Can you make me leave my property?"
   "Your property? My company, Sterling and Associates, bought this property from a…" he paused to look at the top sheet on a stack of papers on his desk, "…Charles Jackson of Los Angeles."
   "Who happens to be me," I pointed out. "And I haven't sold this mine to anyone."
   Sterling stood. "I don't know who you are, Mister, but I met with Jackson last Friday in town and we signed the papers."
   I stepped over to my left to a file cabinet and collected a heavy brochure, and slapped it down on the desk. I slipped a finger under the cover and opened the brochure to the title page, where there was, among other things, a photograph of me.
   "I don't know who you met with, but you can see it wasn't the owner of this mine."
   Sterling stared at my face in print and looked up to my face in person, but it was obvious he was still going to be belligerent about it.
   "Now, I suggest you go find your lawyer and find whoever took your money and get it back. Or my lawyer will be up here to help you go."
   "I don't know what's going on here, but I paid a lot of money for this property and I'm keeping it. You want it, you'll need a lot more than your word."
   "I've got a lot more," I said. "I can have federal marshals here by tomorrow morning to remove you from these premises."
  That got some action, but not what I was expecting.

STERLING PRODUCED A small capsule from his jacket pocket, and threw it in my face! The pellet burst with a puff of weird smelling gas, which provoked a sneeze from me.
Sterling, however, seemed startled. But only for a moment.
   Moving with a speed surprising for someone of his bulk, he fairly leapt from a sitting position, flying over the desk and tackling me amidships. Unprepared, I was knocked back several steps before I caught my balance. And by the time I did, Sterling was already on the attack, hammering at me with fists like pile-drivers. Anybody else would've been pounded senseless.
He struck at my jaw, my chest, my stomach. Dancing around me he pummeled me with a fast dozen kidney punches. I spun on my heel, catching him in the solar plexus with my elbow and following it up with a right to his jaw.
   He'd seemed surprised and confused that his attack had been ineffective against me. I was surprised it had been as effective as it had been. Contrariwise, I was startled that my counter-attack against him had been relatively ineffective.
   His strength was impressive, and so was his endurance. My double strike had only cost him his footing, and he sprang upright again almost immediately.
   An old-fashioned fist-fight was not what I'd been expecting from what seemed like an ordinary high-binder trying to chisel my mine, but now that we'd taken the measure of each other, that's what it was sure to be.
   I am, as I said, rather more than I appear. I'd worked very hard to overcome my childhood disability, and I hadn't stopped when I was on an even footing with everyone else. I'm very quick, and very strong, and impervious to most injury. (I'm also very smart and handsome, but you didn't hear that from me; modesty, you know.) This superior ability is what got me into the trouble-busting business in the first place, and my proficiency at it is what commands the respect of my fellow crime-crushers.
  It also gave me the wherewithal to back up my position.
   As Sterling was finding out.

HE THREW HIMSELF forward, grabbing me up in a bear-hug. He lifted me from the floor and began to close his grasp. The pressure was amazing; intended to crack ribs, it was the strongest grip I'd ever felt.
   Sterling grew red in the face, and sweat beaded upon his forehead. He was really trying, and had lost sight of common sense.
   I hooked my ankles behind his knees, and head-butted him as hard as my poor leverage could manage. His head snapped back from mine and his knees buckled. He released me as he toppled backward, and I got in one line-drive to his jaw as he fell.
   But his stamina was amazing, and he rolled over and regained his footing even as I sprang sidewise from where I had alighted. Sterling came at me but was just behind the curve, missing me by inches. I back-handed him across the base of his skull as he passed, and he stumbled forward, crashing headlong into the row of steel file-cabinets, the fronts of which buckled under the impact.
   He went down to hands and knees, shaking his head as though to clear it. He stood up, turning to stare at me through eyes obscured by blood that now trickled down from a wide gash at his hairline.
Ignoring what ought to be severe pain, he charged me again. This time I used a trick I'd been perfecting recently: I simply stepped aside so fast he didn't even see me move, and his charge was so single-minded that he sailed right past me through the space I'd occupied, slamming against the front wall of the trailer.
   The structure couldn't stand the strain, and the thin metal wall and a window therein gave way.
Sterling ended up half in and half out, his torso dangling against the outside of the trailer.
   Coming outside, I stood before him, lifting him by the shoulders, assuming he'd be unconscious. He wasn't.

HE HIT ME with a line-drive fist right in the face. Caught off-guard, I was knocked completely off my feet. I skidded to a stop in the dirt and rolled over, getting back upright.
   Sterling came at me full tilt, and I side-stepped only slightly, hooking an elbow through his and sending him spinning. He twirled and sat down hard, and swore at me in some language I didn't recognize.
   He started to get up, but I closed in, bringing up a good old hay-maker to the point of his jaw. It stood him up, but, rather than falling over backward, he stayed on his feet and came at me.
   I was quick, but even so Sterling was at me again before I could brace myself. His freight-train attack picked me up and knocked me flat. Sterling slammed himself down on my chest and grabbed another of those pellets from his now torn and soiled jacket.
   "I don't know why the first one didn't kill you, but this one will!" he shouted.
   I was staring up at him in wonderment, my jaw drooping. He shoved the capsule into my mouth and crushed it.
   It tasted like the odor in a powerhouse, and I coughed, spewing a cloud of the unpleasant gas into Sterling's face.
   He'd expected the gas to be poisonous to me, but I don't poison easily. I don't know what I expected the gas to do to him, but it wasn't what did happen.
   His head became transparent. Then his whole body became insubstantial.
   At first he was surprised, but then an evil leer crossed what little I could see of his face. He leaned forward, pushing his face and shoulders against me. I swatted at him, and his body blew apart like smoke in a breeze.
   The rest of him reared away from me, and collapsed into a sort of dusty tumbleweed for a moment before reinstating itself as a man. (You see how this ties in with those strange events I mentioned earlier. Obviously there was a lot more going on here than I knew at the time.)
Sirens sounded in the middle distance, and as Sterling solidified once again, he poised on the balls of his feet for a moment, clearly weighing the odds of fight versus flight.
   Flight won.
   By the time the local sheriff pulled up, summoned by complaints about the noise we'd been making, I was all tidied up after the fight, and entirely alone.