Never Too Late To Start: Guest Post by Pierre E. Pettinger Jr.

Pierre E. Pettinger, Jr. (who was always confused with his dad which is why he goes by his full name) has been a sff and horror devotee since he was ten. He became involved in Dungeons and Dragons shortly after it was first available and played with his college friends for years. He eventually married one, Sandy, and they have been happily married since 1981. The books of the Sodality Universe feature characters and species that have been demanding to have their stories told for over forty years. He hopes you enjoy the ride. The Road from Antioch (Sodality Universe Book 1) was released in September.

By Pierre E. Pettinger, Jr.: Science Fiction and Fantasy are broad and fascinating genres with numerous sub-genres; hard SF, space opera, cyperpunk, and numerous others. I first found SF over fifty years ago. I started with Heinlein and Norton, moved to “Doc” Smith, James White, and Anne McCaffrey. Over my many years I’ve read nearly every sub-genre, but I have a special love of space opera and “aliens.”  

I’ve also been involved with fandom for many years. My wife, Sandy, and I attended our first SF convention the year we were married, Denvention II, the World Science Fiction Convention in 1981. We became involved in the masquerade and costuming community. I served as president of the International Costumers’ Guild for three years and have been the Parliamentarian and Archivist for over twenty years.

At the same time, I paid some dues to the overall fan community. I chaired a local convention. I was a co-chair of three Costume-Cons. My wife and I ran the masquerade at ConJose in 2002, the Events Division at Chicon 7 in 2012, and I was one the Vice-Chairs of Sasquan, the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention.

Sandy and I have been fan GOHS at several conventions: Demicon 5, Arisia 2003, Lunacon 48, and, to our great surprise at the time, Worldcon 76, the World Science Fiction Convention in  2018.

It was at that convention, during an after-con get-together with several friends (Karen Schnaubelt, Jamie Hanrahan and Leslie Johnston) that I mentioned that I had played around with writing for many years, as I believe many fans do. Karen, Jamie and Leslie encouraged me to actually do something with it.

Like many fans, I had tried my hand with writing, especially as a teenager. I wrote notes, drew weird aliens, and even wrote a novel which will never see the light of day. But during all this I did noodle, consistently, with several recurring characters and a story line. It shifted and changed, of course, as I matured and different interests came into my life, and eventually they just settled in the back of my mind.

When I decided to revisit writing a novel, it was those characters and that story I decided to resurrect. It felt good to bring back those people in my head that had languished for so long.

When I sat down to actually write the book there were several themes I wanted to touch on. First, I am, at heart, an optimist. The world may seem to spiral toward drains with regularity, but I am hopeful it will always find its way out. I wanted to depict a world, or a more precisely a plethora of worlds, that operated with respect and cooperation amongst themselves.

Now, while I’m an optimist, I am also a realist. The type of cooperation between dozens of different species was not something that could arise overnight. So my first decision was to set my novels a thousand years in the future. Such a gap, I believe, leads to a reasonable likelihood that the society I was envisioning could develop.

Another decision I made was to never refer to any non-human person as an alien. I don’t like that term and I could not believe that the type of society I was building could refer to each other as aliens. At the same time, they were certainly know they had differences. For that reason, I decided to use the word species instead of aliens.

A tendency I see often in many SF novels is the complete lack of religious faith; often from the belief that we will outgrow religion. I find that an unlikely event. People have speculated that religion will die off for centuries. It hasn’t happened and I doubt it will. Nor do I think that other species will be devoid of religious belief. In my stories people, of all species, have numerous faiths to choose from, as well as no faith at all. Each character is different and even those with faith differ in their level of commitment. Religion is not the focus of my books, though the Church does have a strong presence. Religions from other planets are also acknowledged and mentioned.

A weakness often noted in stories is the “Planet of Hats” syndrome. All the members of a particular species are the same; mentally, physically, and culturally. While you won’t see a lot of difference in the first book, there not being opportunity, it will become obvious in later installments that all Tsssha Tck, all Xandan, and so forth are not identical. Like humans they will have different ethnicities, cultures, and languages.

Speaking of language, I also address translators. While my books do have translators as a necessary trope to move the story, I refused to fall into the magic, Star Trek Universal Translators. Translators in my stories are common, but they must be programmed with specific languages to function. The quality of the programming affects the reliability of the translation.

Authors will often mention that sometimes the characters will take over the narrative. I learned that lesson quickly. Most of my major characters; Admiral Yar’Adua, Sister Perpetua Lucy, and Philo Magnetskis, were intended for major roles from the beginning. But, of course, there are numerous minor characters. I introduced a young, human character into a chapter. He was intended to be a minor character, around for a chapter or two and then would disappear. It didn’t happen. He rapidly grew to become a major voice in the story; possibly I felt guilty since I tortured the poor boy and thought I owed him a bigger role.

The title of this novel is The Road from Antioch. It is the first book in the Sodality Universe. It took a lot of consideration to choose that name. Sodality has a number of definitions; one of which is fellowship. My intent is that at the end of each novel, as my story unfolds, that you will see a sense of fellowship among my characters.

I hope you buy and enjoy The Road from Antioch and that it will intrigue you enough to seek out book two, In the Markets of Tyre, available in late spring 2021.

The Road from Antioch is available in Kindle and paperback formats on Amazon.


ABOUT THE ROAD FROM ANTIOCH

The pilgrim ship Antioch is destroyed just short of the New Vatican. Someone is stealing critical shipments in the Chemosh Empire. Two worlds of the Laanyr Clan Heer have been attacked. Small vessels are buzzing the Rivnyera World Ships.

Who is behind these incidents? Terrorists? Rebels? The mysterious Cherek? Or someone else entirely? The nations of the Orion Arm must join forces and find the culprits.

The investigation ranges from the space around the planet Ans to the fields of Inohr Dan Nool to the supposedly primitive planet of Cordwainer. Join an Admiral, a Catholic Sister, a Knight Militant, an Ensign, a Great Mind, an Inspector and a Herdmaster as they seek out the perpetrators of these odd occurrences.

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