Three pulp sci-fi novels (set #5)

Updated 19 Jan 2020 (Star Light)

(left at a table across from the bar at Apres Diem, behind the condiments)

Star Light

Relationship between Mesklinites and humans: power imbalance because the humans are more technology advanced, and so the Mesklinites are wary of trusting them fully. Interesting dynamics, but very dry, matter-of-fact writing style.

Mesklin – origin planet, inhabitants like 18-inch long caterpillars with four pincers, chelae, crab/lobster pincers

Dhrawn – current planet, suns Fomalhaut and Sol “Guardians of the Pole”, moon Toorey. 1,500-hour (62.5-day) rotation period. Mass of 3,471 Earths.


  • Kwembly – vehicle on the surface
    • Dondragmer “Don” – captain
    • Kervenser – 2nd in command
    • Beetchermarlf – helmsman
    • Takoorch – 2nd helmsman
    • Berjendee, Reffel, Stakendee – ship mates
    • Borndender – scientist?

Mesklinite, Paneshk, Drommian – different races

I Pit Stop

Tresses vehicle on the planet Dhrawn, populated by sailors originally from Mesklin, an extremely high gravity world. Studying the planet’s geology for the humans.

II Grandstand

Humans on the orbiting satellite:

  • Boyd Mersereau
  • Easy Hoffman (female) – sympathetic to the Mesklinites
  • Alan Aucoin – commander
  • Seumas McDevitt – climatologists

(Pg. 19, lots of names)

Stennish, Mesklinite language

  • Barlennan (Barl) – Mesklinite commander at the command center
  • Smof – vehicle on the surface
    • Densigeref
  • Esket – vehicle on the surface with friends of Easy, lost communication
    • Kabremm
    • Destigmet
  • Benjamin Ibson Hoffman (Easy’s son)
  • Seumas McDevitt – climatologists

Messages to the satellite asking about what weather to expect and if there will be freezing precipitation or the surface ice will melt. The latter happened and the vehicle started floating.

III Nerve Center

  • Guzmeen – scientist at the command center

Mesklinite command center on the planet’s surface but on an elevated cliff above where the vehicles are. Mesklinites do not trust the humans because they have a much, much shorter life span as the Mesklinites. How long?

Low Alpha – planet surface

Mesklinites had additional maps of the surface that they don’t share with the humans.

Bendivence “Ben” gives a status report of the Kwembly to Barlennan. Destigmet and Deeslenver sent out mapping balloons. Jemblakee figures out that the ice melted because it mixed with the ammonia fog (eutectics).

  • Kalliff – vehicle
  • Hoorsh – vehicle

Jack Bravermann communicating with the Hoorsh

Kwembly beached on rocks with its trucks off of the ground. Water still flowing.

IV Small Talk

Floating more and more rapidly, then wedged at an angle on submerged rocks.

Beetchermarlf and Takoorch have shifts in the bridge the captain inspects the vehicle for breaches. They monitor the lowering waterline outside and communicate with Benjamin Hoffman to learn any new information about their situation, and to practice his English. Become friends.

After the water drops low enough, Beetch goes outside with Stakendee and Praffen to assess any damage and whether they can free the vehicle from the rocks. Discover several of the sixty trucks on the underside are missing,

V Fryer to Freezer

Work outside repairing the trucks. They planned to use the working ones to back the vehicle off of the rocks, but the humans earn them that any slight drop onto other protruding rocks could likely tear the ship open. They instead start gathering smaller rocks and build up a ramp beneath the vehicle. Then the remaining water in the river unexpectedly freezes their vehicle in place. Kervenser, Beetch, Stakendee, and Praffen are unfortunately still outside.

VI Policy

Ib(sen) Hoffman (Easy’s husband) was back from a trip to Earth and Dromm.

Why did it freeze when the temp was increasing?

Argument over why the Mesklinites weren’t given radios to communicate with each other and must relay through the space station first. Mennonites are seafaring and used to being isolated. Not s good defense. Ib suspects that the Mesklinites are secretly suspicious about the limitation.

Aucoin didn’t want to give them some tech. Mersereau wanted to give them helicopters and radios. Barlennan agreed with not receiving helicopters and radios (why?).

“You know as well as I do that teaching advanced technology, or even basic science, to a culture which isn’t yet into its mechanical revolution makes the ecologists see red because they feel that every race should have the right to go through its own kind of growing pains; makes the xenophobes scream because we’re arming the wicked aliens against us; gets the historians down on us because we’re burying priceless data and annoys the administrative types because they’re afraid we’re setting up problems that haven’t learned to cope with yet.”

Drommians are a suspicious species.

Bring up the Esket and Easy’s friend Destigmet. Easy suspects that Aucoin doesn’t value Mesklinite life enough to have endangered a rescue vehicle. Same then as now.

The Esket is on radar but no sign of the crew. Could there be life on Drawn? If there is, the Mesklinites would be less valuable for future missions to this and other high gravity planets. Aha!

Ib was suspicious of Barlennan’s resistance to use the human’s tech.

VII Iced Wagon

Beetchermarlf and Takoorch stuck beneath the ice as the water freezes around then. They attempt to run the trucks manually to create friction and heat (they only have a basic understanding of mechanics). At one point they need to cut open the inflated mattress between the trucks and the vehicle. At the last minute, unable to melt the ice or chop through, they realize they can crawl into the pierced mattress for safety.

VIII Fingers in the Broth

Reffel surveying in a helicopter (which, only experiencing life on a high gravity ground, were uncomfortable with) to find Kervenser’s helicopter.

(Charles Lackland (?) had kept in radio contact with Barlennan when he sailed across a Mesklin sea in the Brew.)

Benj has a conversation with Don about what’s being done to help the trapped crewmen. Frustrated with the apparent lack of effort, Benj brainstorms and comes up with a plan to redirect the external AC pumps towards the region where Beetchermarlf and Takoorch are trapped. The engineer Katini assists by relaying the necessary tasks to Don.

Ends with something happening to Reffel’s helicopter.

IX Crossed Purposes

A Guzmeen messenger delivers Easy’s message to Barlennan who is in a meeting with the scientists Bendivence and Deeslenver.

Deedee – vehicle?

Communication from headquarters to the space station to the Kwembly. This forces Barlennan to only guess how much Dondragmeer had told the station and how much the station reports to headquarters.

The Esket was never lost, just hidden from the humans.

Barlennan calls for a status of the missing helicopters and gets Benj. Benj calls for Mr. Cavanaugh (scientist?) and astronomer Tebbets to answer whether the station can scan for visible lights from the helicopter. Berlennan finds out that Reffel turned his screen off so that the humans couldn’t see what he was doing.

Mesklinites set up a secret, second colony.

Ends with a report from the humans that they detect movement in the stranded Esket. Cavanaugh saw objects rolling in front of the monitors.

X Weighted Data

Boyd and Benj saw movement but didn’t place any importance in it. Barlennan learns that it may have just been cable rolling across the floor, but worries what the humans think about it. Will they find out the inactivity of the ship has been a ruse?

Stakendee leading the “search party” for Reffel.

Praffen supervising the dismantling of the radiator to melt the ice.

Dondragmeer disagrees with Barlennan’s plan of keeping the Esket secret. Would rather it be revealed at some point.

Stak’s search party encounters Kabremm from the missing Esket. Easy spots him, shocked but happy.

XI Playing With Wire

Stak and Dondragmeer struggle to try to explain Kabremm accidentally walking into the camera view. Three dirigibles regularly travel between the Esket and the Settlement. Stak in the rescue party, Dondragmeer on the Esket, and Barlenann at the Settlement cannot communicate to each other to get their stories straight.

The chance that what Benj saw was potential flood waters saves them by turning everyone’s attention to preparing for it.

Borndender and Praffen on the team to melt the ice and free Beetchermarlf and Takoorch from beneath the ship before the flood arrives.

Continue the process of melting the ice under the ship, but Dondragmeer worries that the heat generated to melt the ice has also killed his crewmen.

XII Guided Extrapolation

Skendra, Borndender’s assistant.

Dondragmeer uses sailing metaphors (“we were going to hit shoals”) when discussing their activities.

Dondragmeer searching for Beetchermarlf and Takoorch beneath the ship and hears from a member of the search party that it definitely was Kabremm that the humans saw. Destigmet sent Kabremm in the dirigible vehicle Gwelf to find if the flowing water would hurt the secret settlement’s hydroponic farms and mines. He ended up 6000 miles away near the search party.

Aucoin suggests that Easy may have mistaken Reffel for Kabremm (since she’s never seen Reffel) and that Dondragmeer said nothing out of politeness. Aucoin talks to Barlennan with Mercereau, Ib, and Easy listening. Although Aucoin mentions Kabremm only in passing to test the waters, Barlennan feels pressure to provide his planned explanation so he suggests that the Esket encountered natives and that Kabremm escaped.

XIII Fact is Strange, Fiction Convincing

Adiabatic heating

Page 224 – lists so known races and planets

Lalande 21185 is the sun?

174 Kelvin = 71 Mesklinite scale

Two sailors sent to meet up with Kabremm and Stekandee, but to continue to keep Kabremm hidden.

Constables and the crew evacuating with power units, food, and life support systems to higher ground as the frozen river melts and grows wider and faster. The two underneath, still undiscovered, remain as the vehicle is eventually freed from the melting ammonia and water. It flows hundreds of miles before the two could feel the motion. When they do, they look out…

XIV Salvage Crew

Benj sees Beechermarlf and Takoorsh crawl up from the bottom of the ship, and radios the good news. Dondragmeer and Reffel hear it from their respective locations. Kabremm has kept far away from any video monitors.

Dondragmeer plans how the two can get the vehicle!e back. Easy asks about the other lost sailors (Reffel in a helicopter searching for Kervenser in a helicopter). Dondragmeer does not reveal that he knows where Reffel is but not the other.

Beech and Tak first attach paddles to the wheels to navigate up the river, then remove than after returning to land. They eventually get the vehicle stuck in a bit is some sort. No way out for them or for Dondragmeer, and years before a rescue vehicle would arrive.

XV Essence

Karlfrengin and four others missing in a dirigible from the Elsh.

Barlennan had sent Deeslenver to the Esket to shutter its cameras. The original plan was to convince the humans that there actually was a native threat. This would force the humans to provide more technology and possibly a spaceship.

The Kalliff is available to send as a rescue vehicle.

Benj convinces his father to send a shuttle craft, originally intended to be used to rescue the entire colony, to instead rescue the two in the Kwembly.

Epilogue: Lessons

Tebbetts giving Beech pilot lessons.

The Smof is stuck on an ice flow. Jemblakee and Deeslenver working to fix the Kwembly. Kenanken on the Kalliff scouting for Dondragmeer and his crew. Karfrengin with Kabremm.

Barlennan, Guzmeen, and others discuss the crashed dirigibles, the lost vehicles, and the lack of communication technology and how they affect their independence from the humans. During this discussion, Ib calls and gives a speech to Barlennan and Dondragmeer, without others on the space station listening, about trying to overcome their mutual mistrust. Throughout, some humans felt the Mesklinites were not fully “people”; some Mesklinites felt humans were only using them. Both Ib and Dondragmeer understand and want to overcome that misconception.