A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Lizards of Nagrafki-Uri

A discussion on the blog of Mr. John Wright mentioned a stunning lack of space lizards in modern SF. Although this contention was quickly rebutted by others, it reminded TOF that back in high school, he had started writing a grand space opera involving Lizards, Spiders, Humans, protoplasmic blobs, and sundry other folk in a great cosmic game of conquest and revenge.

A brisk search of The Olde Files resurrected a folder containing several hundred carbons and originals of this primitive effort. The prose is somewhat prolix:
Great throbs of power surged through the vessel and even the mighty structure of the colossal ship shuddered slightly as the titanic engines mounted in the rear spewed shorn atoms into the endless void. 
Okay, so it's a big ship, right? Well, it was the Sixties and TOF was young. One sign of adolescent thought is the deification of great size, of bigness-as-such.

It is also unlikely that space lizards would use hours, minutes, miles, and suchlike, and if TOF were to write this story for real, it must clearly be reworked. He was amused to find one world named Redfgy, and a glance at the standard keyboard would suggest its origin. Oh, them weird alien names!

TOF has not read this story ab multos annos and has no recollection of how it turns out, or if indeed it was ever finished. He did notice in flipping through it that there is a character evidently named "Dirk" which in normal cases would be a deal-killer. He is also thinking that the story might be served by an omniscient narrator; and that there are issues with time-space-and-scale that need resolution. In 1965 there was a lot of stuff that hadn't been invented and the narrative proves it.

There are a couple of lines that seem nice:
  • He slept through the gap of a thousand light years as electronic brains carried him from a world already burning to another that shortly would.
  • Above him were the stars, and in the stars were Spiders.
But... "electronic brains"? Forsooth. TOF had forgotten that computers were once called thus, and that the phrase AI or artificial intelligences were unknown. Year 1965 was indeed in vanishing past.

There is also a point where the narrative plays with a reader expectation and then flips it around. Perhaps Faithful Reader can spot it.

The prologue of the story is reproduced virtually without change on its own page, here: The Lizards of Nagrafki-Uri.

So here is the question du jour, O Faithful Reader. Should The Lizards of Nagrafki-Uri join the queue behind The Shipwrecks of Time, The Chieftain, and the collaboration-that-must-not-yet-be-named? How does this mesh with The Journeyman series of novelettes? Or the lamentable fact that Shipwrecks may commit trilogy.  TOF's back is not in good shape. Might this be The Straw?


  1. Let the Lizards remain unqueued.

    More stories of Captain Jacinta Rosario, please!

    1. More stories of Captain Jacinta Rosario, please!

      [Port Rosario] is laid out on a simple spoke-and-wheel street-plan. I arrived toward local sunset and took a room in Coughlin House in the northern quadrant with a nice view of the lowlands. Nothing but the best for the Authority. I tossed my gear in the room and headed for Centre Square, which was located exactly where you’d expect.

      Local custom says everyone goes there first and shakes hands with the statue of Jacinta Rosario. She’s portrayed without a helmet, which is historically inaccurate but artistically necessary. The statue is surrounded by grass and wildflowers and the only open trickle-fountain on Mars. Periodically, someone worries about “wasting water,” but since Rosario is a closed system, the water doesn’t really get wasted, and the size of the “Fossil Aquifer” underneath the town is good for a great long time. It’s not like Martians are profligate, but like they’ll tell you: “Anything for Jacinta.”

      Pilot House is out the end of Mercado Radial by the ATC tower. That’s where zeppelin pilots check in.

      -- from "In Panic Town, On the Backward Moon," by Michael F. Flynn, to appear in Mission: Tomorrow, Baen Books

  2. I can think of some lizards, but not many. There are the Gorn in the original Star Trek series, and there are the Zorgons in Zathura. I dont know what the Skeksis or Mystic things are in Dark Crystal (fantasy not SF), but they seem like some kind of bird/lizard thing (and the first few lines of your Nagrafki-Uri story brought that movie to mind).

  3. There's an interesting short-short (can't find it any more) about invading space lizards that turn out to be an hallucination induced by a recreational drug; it is dispelled when the user takes the antidote.

    The interesting bit is that the story is written from the POV of one of the space lizards.

  4. Last space lizards I can remember where the AAnn from Alan Dean Foster's universe.

  5. Robert Asprin's 1979"The Bug Wars" had lizard protagonists saving the universe from a coalition of Bugs that despoil every planet they encounter. I think the lizards regarded a 70% casualty rate as good odds. The book ended with the seeding of target world with mammals who would eat the bug eggs and prevent the insect empire from restarting. It followed the life of one lizard whose existence consisted of waking from cold-sleep to conduct another war against the bugs. I quite enjoyed it.


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