Cobb, Harry Cobb

Despite his lack of character Jason Rapp did not deserve a death sentence. I had enjoyed a pleasant shuttle flight from Orbitus to Mars until Rapp’s call rattled my zip connection. The wind howled and sand grains pattered against his rover’s bubble top, suggesting a severe dust storm. He said someone in a silver terrain suit, brandishing a pinpoint pulser, had hiked through the Martian ridge shadows. Rapp sensed murderous intent.

Beginning of the Dust of Mars

Curiosity Rover snaps a pic of a real dust storm on Mars.

When I was in grade school my first knowledge of Mars contained a catchy phrase: “The Red Planet.” Then somewhere somebody said Mars was the God of War. Were there Martian soldiers on the planet Mars? That required a trip to the library. That’s when I really got confused. (and rightly so) I opened an older hard cover book on Mars. What the hell was this? A Martian work force of Martian canal diggers? Who found out about the canals? I didn’t know about Percival Lowell the purveyor of that disinformation but the idea of canals on Mars remained in my head for a long time. With canals there MUST be Martians!

Schiaparelli’s depiction of the Martian surface.
Percival Lowell
Orson Welles

I heard about the War of the Worlds as adapted by Orson Welles. Add that to the Fitton consciousness. I think I was more impressed that Welles faked everybody out back in 1938 with his Mercury Theater of the air broadcast. And that dramatic voice…

Then I bought the pocket book of stars (and planets) Things changed. I didn’t see any interviews with Martians bragging about their canals. Perhaps there were dust storms and ice caps, maybe some type of atmosphere. A further distance from the sun. All scientific knowledge that was understandable. I saw the original Invaders from Mars around this time and happily suspended my disbelief to be scared by the movie.

Bill Bixby and Ray Walston

Sure, my Favorite Martian was not real but it was funny.

In college I took an elective course on Astronomy which included updated speculation about the actual planet Mars. By then the US had flown by and orbited Mars. The Soviets were the first to land but communication failed. It was Cosmos by Carl Sagan that gave us his personal journey to Mars as well as debunking Lowell. But he also traced the rocketry of Robert Goddard to the Viking I and II landings on Mars. By then I hadn’t lost my imagination with the exit of Lowell and the canals. Buttressed by the Edgar Rice Burroughs books about John Carter that Sagan read as a kid I thought about something different.

Blues for the Red Planet

Why not have a book with the solar system world two hundred years from now? I asked a mystery writer if I could mix a mystery with the sci fi. She was firmly on planet earth and I was reaching for the stars. But I did it anyway. Enter Harry Cobb.

The Dust of Mars

Here’s Podcast #1 of the Dust of Mars with the audio book. Complete audio is available at Audible.

Yes, Harry Cobb is in the future but I want humans to act like humans. Guess that’s why I started out with a murder. (Jason Rapp) And a murderer. (Not telling) Humans acting like humans. Cobb discovering an old love and the hardnosed former agent becoming flustered upon seeing her and enamored upon being with her. (Ariana) Loyalty-Cobb’s trusted associate Renee Coburn. ComraderyInspector Jahn Patenaude Harry Cobb’s friend of many years. Chicanery-It becomes evident.

Humans being human was a theme in the book but more than that- being able to bring  a narrative to the Martian surface and dome environments was rewarding. (one dome, Barsoom is named after Edgar Rice Burroughs designation by the natives for the planet Mars.)

As tropical storm Elsa swirls up the Atlantic Seaboard and over Cape Cod, I swirl into the weekend and return on Monday! Adios!

Post Script: Great artists’ renditions of Mars and the domes like the Harry Cobb Series.

 

Barsoom Dome?

 

Livingston Dome?

 

The Surface of Mars

 

The Turcotte Plant?

 

Time to go back to Livingston

Why is the 1939 New York World’s Fair so Important?

The 1939 World’s Fair
Robert P. Fitton audio with 1939 Glenn Miller Moonlight Serenade

There have been other fairs before and after the 1939 New York World’s Fair. The first time I became aware of the 1939 fair was in my grandmother’s attic which was walkable on a wood plank floor and the high gables of the Victorian house gave the attic a spacious aura. There were numerous books about geography and non-picture books that caught my eye, but what fascinated me was this astounding exposition of geometric structures with powerful names such as Westinghouse, General Electric, Ford, General Motors, and RCA. In my mind I walked the colored pathways under the omnipresent Trylon and Perisphere as seen on the book cover above. And the biggest impression at I got at age nine or ten was they were predicting the future and after the Great Depression they were speculating on a bright future.

Dawn of a new day by Horace Heidt-1939
The Capsule of the Cupaloy

As the years went by thoughts about the fair floated around my brain. I saw documentaries and films of this fair where they actually buried a time capsule in the ground to be opened 5000 years in the future. It wasn’t until I began acquiring a sense and knowledge of history that I revisited the New York World’s Fair. That fair posited a number of ideas that came into fruition. Super highways! In 1939 there was a freeway from Pasadena into L.A. or the Autobahn in Germany. Most of American roadways from what I’ve studied were in rough shape or nonexistent until Eisenhower’s interstate highway initiatives. And TV. TV was held up until World War II was over (Thanks a lot Hitler) but when the fair opened on  April 30, 1939 Roosevelt was on a broadcast to New York City. At the fair there was a robot named Elektro and communities mirroring the future suburban spread.

FDR Opens the Fair
NY Worlds Fair

So what? What’s the big deal? The time capsule is the big deal and the unabashed optimism promoted at the fair. When I put that together in my head I started wondering about the future and these people of 1939. Just look how society has changed in 82 yearsIf we go ahead into the distant future does humanity maintain freedom? Do we have standards? What about the technology of the fair-does it proceed into the future thoughtfully with consideration its ramifications? The catch phrase of the fair was: I have seen the future. What would we see if the future and even the distant future were on full display?

Iowa Corn Fields is a photograph by Bonfire Photography

And Iowa-1939. No, this isn’t Fitton’s version of the Field of Dreams but it’s not bad. I’m not talking about a perfect idyllic world. After all-the absence of electricity in many places forced an human connection. I am strongly making the point that some values such as integrity, justice and moral certitude existed in 1939 Iowa and in much of the country. I am not naïve in my understanding of society’s underbelly. However, there were societal norms. I’m not being sentimental either. Most of these norms protected everyone while technology eviscerated individual freedom in Andy Reese’s future world. Even more distant is the Enclave , escaped to Ganymede around Jupiter as they prepare to die and end human existence. Professor Geiger is the messiah, not of wiping out technology, but of paying attention to the collateral damage.

Andy Reese, an exoplanet astronomer living in the distant future contacts the Enclave, the last vestige of humanity. To stop the annihilation of the human race by the Seraph, post biological life forms, Reese is sent back along the timeline to prevent the evolution of the Seraph from computers. The link in time is an Iowa farm girl, Lucy Apel who has won a national contest to travel to the 1939 New York World’s Fair and Professor Herman Geiger a gifted scientist, writer, and social philosopher. To change history Reese must avert Geiger’s death at the fair. But the Seraph have other plans as they follow Reese back to 1939 to thwart changing history.

-Book description on Amazon

Back in time Andy meets and falls in love with a young woman, Lucy Apel who’s brilliance is apparent. Lucy’s future holds great prospects for her. Professor Geiger is her idol in the way he thinks about science and the future. Lucy gets to meet Geiger at the New York World’s Fair. But the Seraph is inhabiting human bodies and lurking–lurking–lurking.

Okay Fitton, can’t you make your point without bringing in this artificial intelligence and the lost humans on Ganymede? Sure, but bringing out the contrast between the time periods in a narrative, experienced by humans is an essential way to understand the future. Do humans have to battle the Seraph? Oh yes- because they are the products of the runaway technology. Is Professor Geiger really necessary? You bet he’s necessary. Geiger espouses the positive nature of humanity, using the human power to reason and understand the possibilities of technology but he cautions us to be aware of the side effects. As technologies advance, we must have that attitude. To think. “Nachdanken.”

Here is the complete podcast list for I Have Seen the Future, 7 episodes with the audio book sandwiched in between. The clean version of the book is at Audible-without the podcast:

RPF

Post Script: Color movies of the 1939 NY World’s Fair

Johnny’s Back in Town

Part Two

Jack Incognito Ripper
Johnny’s Back in Town-Part Two

It’s a good idea to murder somebody sooner rather than later. Sounds like a quote from Jack the Ripper. Unfortunately, we don’t have quotes from Jack the Ripper because Jack’s middle name was Incognito. Why is it we’re all fascinated with murder? Same reason we study the Civil War or the Kennedy Assassination. The good thing about being thrust into the world of the horrific, the vile and the despicable is we can exit out a door and step out of that world. For a breather anyway. The things that we can’t imagine being a part of or even witnessing is strangely tantalizing. Unless you’re one of Jack the Ripper’s victims. Then you’d better learn to run like hell.

In Johnny’s Back in Town I noticed, especially in the audio book, that there is a prolonged period in the beginning of the book before the murder is committed. I almost compressed chapters to get the murder underway. This is true for your normal murder-mystery but the Jones series isn’t normal and has other elements- townie humor, a subplot of a new dean at the college, and a focus on Cocoa. Cocoa’s ‘old man’ left his mother and brother when Cocoa was just a kid. Johnny Stefani bolted to Vegas to start a new life. It’s appropriate that the bowling tournament for the charity about kids losing their father is the centerpiece of the murder scene. Here’s where the story gets prolonged. The opportunity is for the Hamilton locals, as nutzo as they are, to be in their element with Cocoa’s temper flaring because he owns the bowling alley. Also, it is Cocoa’s insight not the cops that establishes the logistics of the murder.

When I was growing up my mother would have a billion stories and background information on everyone who lived in our hometown, complete with nicknames. In Hamilton there is always a backstory, usually told by Lark Larsen but Cocoa and the mob have backstories too. Of course, Jones sinks into that history. So, when I’m telling the backstory in Jones I’m probably engaging, albeit fiction, of my mother’s embellishing of the past.

Hamilton, New Hampshire is separated from the city of Prince William by the Devonshire Hills. Here are two markedly different geographical areas and lifestyles. The area is an amalgamation of Amherst, Massachusetts where I went to school and elements of North Easton, Massachusetts where I grew up. Amherst is separated by the Holyoke Range from the greater Springfield area and both Amherst and North Easton are next to the cities of Northampton and Brockton. Father Jim Gallagher, Jones’s priest, and good friend, bridges that gap between Hamilton and Prince William and conveniently allows Jones lodging when he doesn’t have his jeep. Gallagher is also the moral conscience of Matthias Jones while Jones tiptoes through the assortment of mob characters from Boston to Providence, New York, and Vegas. Most of the mob likes Jones!

A familiar motif develops In Johnny’s Back in Town. Jones, usually with Cocoa and possibly one of the town’s illustrious characters, investigates the murders and very often are drawn outside the Hamilton area. Be prepared for car chases and shoot outs. Remember, this is not reality. Rather, it is in a realm that most of us will never be in. Like riding a roller coaster. Hopefully, you’re riding at Six Flags and not on the highway.

Groucho and Margaret Dumont
You can’t take them anywhere
Must be Festivus

If you read or listen to the Matthias Jones books, you’ll see the ruthless, the arrogant, the boastful or snobbish know-it-alls’ always get their comeuppance. (The Marx Brothers, Moe Larry and Curly) And if you’re from New England you will particularly enjoy Arnie Dewars’s stunt at the end of the book. I think there is a direct correlation from watching Seinfeld over and over again.

I should mention Uncle Dullio. Dullio doesn’t say much but he is totally loyal to Cocoa and Jones. Waiting for an Uncle Dullio confrontation is well worth it. He started for Notre Dame in football and was in an elite military unit. Pushing three hundred pounds, mostly muscle, he’s always eating and consistently provides a Deus ex machina that even the gods would envy.

RPF

Johnny’s Back in Town

AUDIOBOOK

PAPERBACK

KINDLE

Johnny’s Back in Town

Part One

Robert P. Fitton

“Murder, Mayhem, and Monkey Business.”

Last night I was happy to get my copy of the latest Matthias Jones book: Johnny’s Back in Town.

The Matthias Jones Series is not your typical murder-mystery.

(Ya think, Fitton?)

Hamilton College, Hamilton New Hampshire

Jones is a coach of three sports at Hamilton College in fictitious Hamilton New Hampshire. That’s what he was hired to do. By golly Jones just happens to be up to his eyeballs in murder investigations. Does Jones have a penchant for chasing after ambulances, fire trucks and police cars? No, that’s not it. He does however have a knack for tracking down murderers. Call that quality intuition or as Jones says: ‘a sideroad theory.’ Add persistence into the investigative mix. The college tolerates and accepts that Jones is called into action every time there is a murder. And the cops like the college have no problem with Jones in the middle of investigations. Let’s take the scenario a step further. Jones is best friends with Cocoa Stefani, a local hood, connected to the mob, and owner of the infamous Club Max in the neighboring city of Prince William. Sometimes in the course of investigations Jones and Cocoa are involved with the Boston mafia and other assorted thugs. So, Jones is out of town a lot but hark! He manages to conduct practices, play games, and have a superb winning record anyway. Jones’s fascination sounds like more than a hobby but less than an occupation. Investigating murders was the occupation of Jones’s father. When his father is murdered it is Jones along with Cocoa who solves Bill Jones’s murder.

The Matthias Jones Series is to Perry Mason as Hogan’s Heroes was to Billy Wilder’s Stalag 17. Hogan’s was not real yet it’s easy to suspend the disbelief because Hogan and the boys outwitted the Germans and it was fun-so were the characters. The premise of a counterinsurgency operating out of a POW camp is outrageous. It is the character flaws and egos as well as Hogan’s cunning that fuels the laughter. Every week a returning character or a new screwball appears in camp and is tied into the plot.

Matthias Jones started out very serious. I remember my cousin asking why Jones suddenly appeared at the scene of murders. I of course had no answer. Nor I did not exaggerate character traits early on. Jones was based on our coach in high school taking over from a nice guy who the small town loved. But that coach like Lark Larsen in the Jones series did not win many ball games. I met that other coach during my first year in college and ended up missing a class because he and I were still talking about the old days. Lark Larsen in the Jones series is a cartoon-like buffoon who like many of the whacko citizens of Hamilton and beyond have no clue they are abnormally bizarre weirdos operating in the real world. And they all have a nickname! There are many old-time radio shows as well as television comedies that have these dumbbells on the loose.

Newhart

Jones, although frustrated by characters such as lumberyard owner, the reckless Arnie Dewars or the know it all, untactful and incompetent Bucky Driscoll, puts up with the nonsensical behavior. Even with accentuated character flaws and poor judgement everyone has the potential to be proficient in something. So do the Jones characters. It’s easy to forget this in everyday life! Many of the underestimated Jones Series characters bring forth a certain insight that solves the murder.

One more thing:

Fletcher Patriarch Hamilton Fletcher controls the college and the town and is easily triggered which is the genesis of more humor. Fletcher’s character holds the Matthias Jones pretend world together on many levels. Cocoa Stefani is also a character who is easily annoyed. He likes to get to the point and is not going to waste time. But Jones is his best bud. And it is Cocoa’s long lost gangster father from Vegas who is back in town in the latest Matthias Jones book and wouldn’t you know… somebody is murdered.

RPF

Johnny’s Back in Town

AUDIOBOOK

PAPERBACK

KINDLE

Hey, wait a minute… July 3rd… 50 years… Jim Morrison?

Paris-July 2, 1971

In the photo above Jim Morrison sits with Pam Courson at a Paris café table. James Douglas Morrison in hours would slip away forever. There are many accounts of how and why Jim Morrison died. From all that I’ve read- Occam’s Razor (the bad heroin mixed with Booze and bad health and substantiated physical injuries caused heart failure) is the best explanation. And let’s add a decade or more of substance abuse. Hey wait a minute that doesn’t sound like Occam’s Razor! Nothing Jim Morrison ever did was understandable in our everyday world.

At the time of Morrison’s death I was a pop Doors fan. Light my Fire–Love her Madly–Touch me. As I grew older (Jim would probably say ” And wiser”) The guy did have a sense of humor to the point of bizarre stunts on and off stage. I grew older and the voice drew me to other songs but not the complete repertoire. As I experienced the roller coaster of life there was a slow melding into the panoply of Doors material and appreciation of Ray Manzarek, Robbie Krieger and John Densmore. With the headphones on I hear the drums as a part of the music. And Ray’s jazzy rock gluing the songs together. Or the fingernail pickin’ Robbie Kreiger producing rock into the songs as if all the Doors were born from the same cosmic creature!

With other rock groups and singers, I appreciate the music with a- “That’s a good song” or ” Great Group.” I can play Beatles music for hours and grasp the talent and the variety of songs as well as the meaningful servings of four lads from Liverpool who rocked the world. With the Doors it’s remarkably different. But Morrison is the juice. Turn the volume up let’s say to L.A. Woman. I’m not just tapping my feet. With the Doors I’m sinking into the song. In Billy Joel’s Good Night Saigon the boys who were sent into the meat grinder called Vietnam had no cameras to shoot the landscape. They passed the hash pipe and played their Doors tapes. Say what? This is what I’m talking about. I have no hash pipe. The closest thing for me is Dunkin Donuts almond blend coffee. Those guys in Vietnam didn’t just listen- they experienced Morrison and the Doors. That’s what I mean when I say-sinking into the music.

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Jim Morrison was an enigma. He will always be an enigma. I get a lot of facts and figures with I explore Morrison’s life in books or in documentaries. Something I may not have known. Chasing after the meaning of Jim Morrison is like Mr. Spock asking the computer to ascertain the value of pi. Like quantum physicists who change the placement of electrons by trying to measure them. Jim Morrison changes when you try to nail down exactly who he is. Folks, here’s the answer. Jim Morrison was and is like a Rubik’s Cube- Twist and turn. You never know what you’re going to get.

RPF

The Rubik’s Cube Enigma

Sometimes you have to take an objective look at what you’ve written.

The Objective Mr. Fitton

Ya Right! Who’s objective? The way I look at it is: Fitton you’d better be objective. So how do you know if what you’ve written is flowing along the way it should? I don’t have a little alarm bell in my head. It’s a meltdown device that drives me crazy when something isn’t right. Well, this morning that meltdown device sent me into a tizzy.

I had spent the beginning of the book up in the colony in Canada in 2047 telling the story of how Patch Kincaid is done thinking about the Kennedy Assassination. Kennedy was killed. That’s it! Right?

Oh no no no no…. He gets back in time and then is excited about finding those who committed the crime, etcetera. How can this writer from Cape Cod overlook the premise at the beginning of the book? Glad I woke up.

How to fix… How to fix.

First of all Patch has to make his feelings clear…. SNIP SNIP SNIP away ‘the turn on a dime Patch’ and create a little tension. Make him work to the conclusion that he hates the National Security State of the future which began in the 20th century. Overall-have his actions make sense which I did…

AND WHILE I’M AT IT- I never gave any clue to the reader as well as background info on what is coming up…. so I did. Little repairs that seamlessly blend into the story. Like to pick these intruders out of my story before I proceed too far. Don’t want to have to re-write hundreds of pages or change the storyline dramatically at the end. When I used a
typewriter early on re-writing was… well that’s why some of the audio on my site is known as a FREEBEE.

I think I’ll work on my cover for American Injustice as the fireworks explode not too far away.

We will see if I still like the cover by the time the novel is done sometime in the fall… Fireworks are DONE. Over and out.

RPF

The Third Patch Kincaid Book

Sample Episode 1 of the Kennedy Paradox

Sample of Return to Dallas

American Injustice
Robert P. Fitton

No, American Injustice is not a blank cover!(lol) As soon as I get the cover done I will post it… What’s weird is that I began three books last week: The prequel of Sojourn (The Shanghai Incursion), a time travel book (Letters from Jane), and American Injustice. All was going well until I started American Injustice- Then I just kept going! Editing-rewriting and changing characters. So, I guess I’m working on the third Patch Kincaid time travel book. In this book Patch is ahead in time. The narrative eventually involves the time period of the Jim Garrison investigation and the Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy assassinations. I think it’s important to talk about the facts and posit how false narratives were set in place. And everything in-between.

The past tugged at Patch like cyclone threatening to sweep him back to horrific places he had forgotten and never wanted to see again. At age thirty-nine and happily married, he stood with his family in line at the carnival. The warming summer sun even in the afternoon had a soothing effect, massaging the struggles of his time traveling adventures that culminated with the death of the thirty-fifth president of the United States. Kennedy’s death would emerge from his unconsciousness if only of a few seconds and then sink back into protected hidden memories. Maybe the roller coaster up ahead stimulated those moments to the surface. He thought about his friend Ray Meinkewitz, still in the past. Meinkewitz had spent his life perfecting retrograde and travel through time, only to conclude that human beings had no business changing time.”

Beginning Draft of American Injustice

The rain has paused here on Cape Cod And I’ll shift gears to Saturday Night! See you next time!

RPF

Live Webcam from The Beachcomber in Wellfleet

Who, I say WHO is this Guy?

Robert P. Fitton

This is an excellent opportunity to look ‘under the hood’ while writing. I don’t know what this engine will look like! The blog will in real time give an insight to me-Oh my God! And I think readers will get a better understanding of where I’m approaching different characters and themes in my stories. And I will have flashbacks to other books I have written as well as audio from the audio books and podcast. I think you’ll see a history influence, a sense of crime solving and character perseverance. Not all my work is humorous like the Matthias Jones series but it isn’t humorless either. Questions will be answered… possibly truthfully.

So read on Macbeth!