Hello all and welcome back to the (now monthly) Friday Fiction Feature! This week Tabatha is back with another themed Feature. As mentioned in last month’s feature, I’m getting ready to travel far, far away. Far enough away to have many flights, a lot of luggage, and oh my goodness so much packing… so this month’s feature is themed around the fact that I expect to be on a plane in less than a week! (Unless you don’t read my posts the minute they go online–for shame). And so I thought I’d share some thoughts, advice, and hopes as a soon-to-be world traveler.
Moving Day: A Thriller by Jonathan Stone
As I look forward to the adventure of traveling abroad, learning a new language, seeing new people and places, I am learning something more thoroughly than I ever have before: Packing Sucks. It is just awful. It takes forever, it’s a pain, and I don’t get to just unpack everything six blocks away the same afternoon. That is why I am taking a rather unorthodox approach to the setup of Moving Day. The book begins when a man’s possessions are stolen in a moving-day scam. Now I know, I know, that’s bad and it’s awful to lose all of your stuff. But after weeks of sorting, packing, and unpacking-to-get-at-stuff-I-still-need, that just sounds nice. No more junk to worry about, no more real-life tetris trying to get everything to fit in an old sedan… ah. Just imagine the freedom of it. Only a few suitcases of junk to move around… Or you know, imagine that sounds like the worst thing ever and that the criminals are terrible people who must be tracked down, etc. (since my version does tend to undercut the novel a little I suppose…)
Forty years’ accumulation of art, antiques, and family photographs are more than just objects for Stanley Peke—they are proof of a life fully lived. A life he could have easily lost long ago.
When a con man steals his houseful of possessions in a sophisticated moving-day scam, Peke wanders helplessly through his empty New England home, inevitably reminded of another helpless time: decades in Peke’s past, a cold and threadbare Stanislaw Shmuel Pecoskowitz eked out a desperate existence in the war-torn Polish countryside, subsisting on scraps and dodging Nazi soldiers. Now, the seventy-two-year-old Peke—who survived, came to America, and succeeded—must summon his original grit and determination to track down the thieves, retrieve his things, and restore the life he made for himself.
Peke and his wife, Rose, trace the path of the thieves’ truck across America, to the wilds of Montana, and to an ultimate, chilling confrontation with not only the thieves but also with Peke’s brutal, unresolved past.
Moving is Murder (A Mom Zone Mystery #1) by Sara Rosett
Fortunately the cozy mystery industry has come along with books like Moving is Murder to remind me that moving isn’t that bad. It’s still awful, and a pain in the but and… ahem. Sorry. Already said all that… Anyways, small reminders that as obnoxious as moving is, at least this move hasn’t involved any corpses. (It would probably be the hardest thing to pack up and ship anyways).
Moving four times in five years has honed Ellie’s considerable skills. But unpacking with a newborn daughter, record-breaking heat wave, and the realization that their dream neighborhood is known as Base Housing East is enough to make her turn to chocolate for comfort. She and her husband, Mitch, moved off-base for privacy. Now half of their neighbors are with the 52nd Air Refueling Squadron. Driving home from her first squadron barbecue, Ellie finds neighborhood environment activist Cass Vincent dead on the side of the road. The police call it an accident — but Ellie’s not so sure. She saw Cass argue violently at the barbecue with Mitch’s buddy Jeff… and it just so happens Jeff knows a lot about bee-keeping. Hoping to clear Jeff’s name before the police suspect him, Ellie starts snooping in earnest. What she finds shocks her. But what’s the connection to Cass? When suspicious accidents start happening in her own backyard, Ellie realizes she’s getting closer to the killer… maybe too close!
Moving Mars (Queen of Angels #3) by Greg Bear
Now I would love to continue this trend of ‘at least it’s not…’ with Moving Mars, but honestly, a Martian revolution isn’t really all that much worse than what people tell me I’m headed into. [It should be stated for the record that I don’t much believe them] But the way our more worried relatives and more alarmist friends tell it we’re headed into a terrifying land of maniacs who stay up nights thinking of new ways to torture house pets and give travelers food poisoning (*a word to the wise, don’t watch any youtube videos you are sent before traveling somewhere new. The people who sent them are just meanies who don’t want you to eat ever again).
Moving Mars is a story of human courage and love set within the greater saga of a planetary liberation movement. Mars is a colonial world, governed by corporate interests on Earth. The citizens of Mars are hardworking, but held back by their lack of access to the best education, and the desire of the Earthly powers to keep the best new inventions for themselves. The young Martians — the second and third generations born on Mars — have little loyalty to Earth, and a strong belief that their planet can be independent. The revolution begins slowly, but will grow in power over decades of political struggle until it becomes irresistible.
Told through the eyes of an extraordinary character, Casseia Majumdar, a daughter of one of Mars’ oldest, most conservative Binding Multiples,Moving Mars is Greg Bear’s brilliant conception of the human colonization of the red planet, with lovingly painted details and a grand historical sweep, embellishing an audacious scientific speculation.
Have Space Suit—Will Travel (Heinlein Juveniles #12) by Robert A. Heinlein
Sadly, this title is not a very apt description of my upcoming travels. Perhaps that will be my new life goal: to be able to say Have Space Suit, Will Travel and mean it. (Because you know what, owning a space suit, even if you don’t get to take it to outer space, is pretty rad). And maybe it’s not so unrealistic! I mean come on, read the description here, a kid from the middle of the Midwest (yup) who works crappy college jobs (yup & more yup), and you know…other similarities I’m sure… why not? Hey, it’s not my fault the description is too short to show how similar my story is to this one. I guess you’ll just have to read it to find out likely it is I’ll get to follow in their footsteps and continue my travels “where no (wo)man has gone before!” (yeah, I know. But I couldn’t resist ;) )
Kip from midwest Centerville USA works the summer before college as a pharmacy soda jerk, and wins an authentic stripped-down spacesuit in a soap contest. He answers a distress radio call from Peewee, scrawny rag doll-clutching genius aged 11. With the comforting cop Mother Thing, three-eyed tripod Wormfaces kidnap them to the Moon and Pluto.
The Traveling Vampire Show by Richard Laymon
I’d like to end today’s Friday Fiction Feature (and my last Feature for a long time written on this continent) with a book that serves a very different function. The others have shown annoyance at moving, the (real-ish) dangers of travel, totally unrealistic travel goals, and ‘at least it’s not _____’s. But this book, dear readers, is more of an inspiration for a level of awesome. The level of awesomeness inherent in the title Traveling Vampire Show. While I don’t exactly expect to make a fortune with the “Traveling Tabatha & Co. Show” but hey, we all need something to aspire to, and if only I can make the stories of my travels one third as interesting as the promise of a totally-not-a-scam Traveling Vampire Show I think I can consider this next year a success. I don’t even need starry-eyed teenagers to come in search of a mere glance at my awesomeness (though, you know, if they felt compelled, well that’s hardly my fault is it?).
Though gloomy with clouds, it is a hot, August morning in the summer of 1963. All over the rural town of Grandville, tacked to power poles and trees, taped to store windows, blowing along the sidewalks, fliers have appeared announcing the mysterious one-night-only performance of The Traveling Vampire Show.
The show will feature Valeria, the only known vampire in captivity. According to the fliers, she is a gorgeous, stunning beauty. In the course of the performance, she will stalk volunteers from the audience, sink her teeth into their necks and drink their blood!
For three local teenagers who see the fliers, this is a show they don’t want to miss. But they may have to.
Though they can probably scrape up the price of admission, other obstacles stand in the way. One problem, nobody under 18 years of age is allowed into the show. Dwight, Rusty, and Slim are only 16. Another problem, the show begins at midnight and the three teens always have to be home by then. If that weren’t bad enough, the show is to take place at Janks Field — a desolate patch of ground with a nasty history — that has been declared off limits by their parents
The situation appears hopeless.
Though Dwight and his friends fear they won’t be able to attend the actual performance of the Traveling Vampire Show, they do have the entire day to themselves. Why not hike out to Janks Field and take a look around? With any luck, they might be able to watch the crew make preparations for tonight’s performance. If they’re really lucky, maybe they’ll get a peek at Valeria, the gorgeous vampire.
And so the three friends set off on foot for Janks Field…
Dwight is a solid, honest kid, long on common sense and loyalty to his friends. He always tries to do what’s right.
Rusty is a husky guy who relishes trouble.
Slim, their long-time pal, is the brains of the outfit, a voracious reader of novels, an aspiring writer, and a girl. Also, she is sometimes too brave for her own good.
The Traveling Vampire Show is the tale, told in Dwight’s own words, of what happened to him, Rusty and Slim on that hot summer day they hiked to Janks Field. It’s the story of their friendship and love, their temptations, their betrayals, and their courage as they went where they shouldn’t go, did what they shouldn’t do…and ran into big trouble.
Farewell for now good readers, and remember, the FFF will return, this time as an international series!