Childhood friends Wolf (creator of Roger Rabbit) and Myers (Roman Catholic archbishop of Newark, N.J.) combine forces to resurrect 1950s pulp action adventures in this hollow space western. Silver-space-suited galactic marshal Capt. Victor Corsaire is distracted from arresting smalltime crook Gil Terry when infamous (and impeccably dressed) criminal mastermind Space Vulture raids the planet Verlinap. Capturing Corsaire and a "feisty" planetary administrator, Cali Russell, Space Vulture triggers a battle of wits as he seeks to auction the lawman off to 12 of the galaxy's most wanted criminals. Meanwhile, back on Verlinap, Gil helps Cali's sons, boy genius Eliot and innocent waif Regin, fix rockets and pick pockets as they race to a final confrontation. Gimmicks like midair fistfights off the side of 600-foot cliffs trigger readers' nostalgia at the expense of bolstering the threadbare plot or defining the characters, who change moods and personalities at whim. (Mar.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Space Vultureby Gary K. Wolf
Gary K. Wolf, best known for creating the Roger Rabbit characters and Toontown, and John J. Myers, Catholic Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey team up to co-write an action/adventure science fiction novel entitled Space Vulture. Come along for the ride. Discover all the adventure, suspense, action and fun that Gary and John share with you in this rollicking tale of
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Gary K. Wolf, best known for creating the Roger Rabbit characters and Toontown, and John J. Myers, Catholic Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey team up to co-write an action/adventure science fiction novel entitled Space Vulture. Come along for the ride. Discover all the adventure, suspense, action and fun that Gary and John share with you in this rollicking tale of the spaceways.
- Gary K. Wolf
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By Wolf, Gary K. Tor Books
Copyright © 2008
Wolf, Gary K.
All right reserved.
The robotic harvesters ignored Gil Terry as he stole the tons of glowing green mushrooms they had spent the past month plucking out of the permafrost. These mushrooms, after being processed and formed into pills, let users eat all they wanted without gaining weight. In raw form, the mushrooms sold for more per ounce than gold.
The robots dug, they sorted, they boxed, they stacked, they dug some more. They didn’t care what happened to their harvest after that. Stealing from robots was easy pickings, the kind of pickings Gil liked best.
Gil couldn’t stop shivering. He was as cold as he’d ever been. He could barely feel his feet, his nose was in the early stages of frostbite, his remaining hand was turning blue, his telescoping beetle eye wouldn’t extend outward, and only four of the joints in his cricket arm still bent. To protect himself from the sub-zero cold here on Verlinap’s northern pole, Gil wore the best thermo suit he could afford, an ancient and outdated model designed for a large insectoid. To make it fit, Gil tied off the three middle legs and sewed up the thoracic sack. He wore it upside down, putting his head through the waste hole at the bottom of the carapace bump. The result wasn’t pretty, but it worked. Usually. For the past half hour, Gil’s only warmth had come from the flaming sparks his overworked suit produced in a hopeless effort to energize itself.
Gil and his personalservice robot, a no-frills fetch-and-carry model Gil called Can Head, loaded the final crate of stolen mushrooms aboard Gil’s ship. Selling these mushrooms would give Gil the money he needed to turn himself back into a complete human being.
Awhile ago, Gil had unwisely placed a large sports bet. The game’s final score brought new meaning to the term loser. When Gil couldn’t cover his wager, his hardnosed, coldhearted bookie surgically removed Gil’s right arm and one of Gil’s eyes. It was collateral, said the bookie. He promised to cryo-store Gil’s parts for three years. If Gil paid off, with interest, he could have them back. If not, grafted-on human parts had become a status symbol for hard-shelled aliens. Even aging, flabby, alcohol-sodden parts like Gil’s sold easily on the flesh market.
The bookie outfitted Gil with low-end substitutes, nothing fancy, nothing even species specific. The bookie replaced Gil’s arm with a Saurian cricket leg. Gil’s telescoping eye came from a Venusian dung beetle.
A few weeks from now, Gil’s bookie would close out the debt. Gil’s parts would be lost to him forever.
The proceeds from this load of mushrooms, when added to the funds he’d already socked away from other shady escapades, would give Gil enough to pay off his bookie and get back his parts. After a few hours of simple surgery, he could start functioning as a normal human being again.
Then it was hoo boy, watch out universe. The old Gil’s back! Gil’s rickety four burner, the Big Devil, groaned to life. Several times a year, ships like this one plodded across the galaxy collecting convicts for transport to Purgatory, the remote planet used as a prison for convicted criminal lifers. These ships were slow, cheaply made, flimsy vessels. They were officially designated as Minimal Function Single Trip Prisoner Conveyance Ships. The crews who flew them, and the prisoners they carried, called them more simply One Way Tickets. Like the convicts they ferried, One Ways were destined to remain on Purgatory forever after. By law One Ways had to be taken apart after they finished their flights. This prevented convicts from commandeering them and using them for escape. Because of the ships’ shoddy construction, disassembly was a quick and simple process. Remove a few bolts, disengage a couple of magnetic fields, and a One Way fell to pieces. Their crews flew home in single-burner Swifters.
In the outer regions of civilization, laws carried as much weight as anything in outer space. Zero. In reality, One Ways rarely got disassembled. Intact, flyable One Ways appeared all the time on the black market, illegally resold to smugglers, pirates, and freebooters like Gil. They were risky transportation. Since they were never meant for long-term operation, they were built using marginal components and primitive technology. They broke down regularly. Failures ranged from the annoying and disabling to the catastrophic, a spontaneous disintegration or worse, a thousand megaton explosion of the ship’s leaky propulsion drive.
One Ways had another peril. To visually identify One Ways as prison ships, they were made of unpaintable day-glow red metal. Star Patrol vessels were authorized to destroy illicit One Ways on sight.
Gil took his place in the command pod.
“I have a comment,” stated Can Head.
Here it came. Gil knew from experience. Can Head was about to spout another of its irritating “shame on you’s.” Can Head had belonged to a straitlaced traveling missionary. Gil had won the robot in a poker game. If Gil had known that Can Head would harp on and on about the shady nature of his work ethic, he wouldn’t have pulled that extra ace out of his sleeve. Gil wanted to rid Can Head of its annoying goody-goodyness. Unfortunately, the robot was an old model and came to Gil without an instruction manual. Gil had put the Big Devil’s diagnostic system to work tracing Can Head’s ancient circuitry, but the ship didn’t have nearly enough computing power to do that and run the ship, too. Gil would get it done eventually, but until then . . .
“Interplanetary Statute 462, paragraph 93, subparagraph 4 makes what you did illegal. As to the ethics—”
“Cut the crap, and let’s get out of here.”
“The New Book says—”
“And I quote . . .” Can Head reached for the thruster control. It never got to finish its sermon.
A high-density ion beam swept the Big Devil. Can Head’s grappler melted off. Its dorsal energy pump withered away in a smoky, searing flash of red, orange, and green. The useless, destroyed robot toppled backward and fell to the floor.
Moments before he blacked out, Gil felt a sharp, searing pain that he realized signaled the end of life as he knew it.}
Copyright © 2008 by Gary K. Wolf and John J. Myers. All rights reserved.
Excerpted from Space Vulture by Wolf, Gary K. Copyright © 2008 by Wolf, Gary K.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
As the celebrated author of the novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, Gary K. Wolf gained fame when his literary vision of humans cohabitating with animated characters became a reality in the $750 million blockbuster Disney/Spielberg film Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The film won four Academy Awards and launched a multiple-picture screen writing deal for Wolf with Walt Disney Pictures. In addition, his ideas inspired Toontown, the newest themed land at Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland.
He is now a full time science fiction novelist and screenwriter.
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