Blast from the Past: The Motley Star

zilbara - childhood story "advertisement"

A hilarious "ad" I created as a kid for a science fiction story I was writing.

So while digging through boxes of childhood junk this weekend, I discovered at least three versions of the story that’s become “The Motley Star.” This version, “Zilbara,” actually came with a several page partly completed manuscript, which as I’ve mentioned before, was highly highly hilarious. I also made this ad–or perhaps it’s supposed to be the back of the book.

I’d always remembered Zilbara and Aimee Ming being the primary partnership, but she actually gets killed pretty early on. I’m not sure if that’s a red herring–the death is reported by another character–but most of the story is Zilbara’s. Created to be a supersoldier by a rebel faction, the ETRA, Zilbara was a “failure,” misshapen, huge, clumsy and supposedly stupid, though he wasn’t really. He’s originally on a team sent to stop an ETRA conspiracy, but for some random reason he’s suddenly stripped of rank and fired from FLEET. (That scene was so badly written and so hilarious I couldn’t stop giggling while I read it.)

It’s later revealed that this was a trick to lure out the real traitors on the team, but those traitors end up killing Aimee, several high placed Admirals, and the team that was meant to stop them. The only escapee is a cat-like alien who never seems to have a name.

The ideas aren’t too bad–not for a teenager, I guess. But the execution is often pretty funny. And you can kind of tell I was heavily influenced by Anne McCaffrey’s “Planet Pirate” series at the time, especially in the names.

I actually played with the idea of the “aliens” in my current story, The Motley Star, as being modified humans, adapted for the worlds they lived on. In the end I discarded that idea, but there is room left that there is some kind of relationship between the “humanoid” races–called the “sister races”–that might be more than just parallel evolution. There are definitely aliens in this world that are so alien that they have no interaction with the starring races of The Motley Star, though they really aren’t much involved in this story.

Hopefully Szan is nowhere as emo as his predecessor–Zilbara spends a ton of his time moping about how outcast and awkward he is. There’s still a bit of conspiracy theory, a possible betrayal, and a messy past, but most of the inheritance here is more… it’s like The Motley Star is the creative/mental grandchild of Zilbara.

So here’s to you, grandpa, and may this new novel be slightly less hilarious to me in another twenty years.

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