Michael Jackson in a Science Fiction Novel?

1992: Miranda Maris and Rose Cetaire, founders of the Cetaire-Maris fashion empire, are approached by Latrisha Paige, agent for an unnamed performer who wants them to design some costumes for his next show:

Paige said, “I won’t keep you in suspense. My client is Washington Westwood Hohokus.”

A joke, Miranda thought. WWH, the self-proclaimed “King of Pop,” wasn’t merely a “star”… he was a music industry demigod. His Chiller had been the world’s best-selling album for ten years now. Paige might just as well have claimed that her client was the Archangel Gabriel, or Vishnu, or Mickey Mouse.

But Paige was still smiling, and Rose took it in stride, and slowly Miranda realized that it was not a joke; instead, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And nothing, nothing, could keep them from accepting the offer.


A month later, a spacious private jet flew Rose and Miranda to California, a limousine drove them from the airport to a secluded country estate, and Latrisha Paige escorted them to a study/drawing room and into the Presence.

Despite Miranda’s knowledge that he was her own age, she had expected WWH to be a child, a pretty teenybopper, androgynous and anorexic — instead, she found a mature young man, graceful and slender but with a dancer’s muscles moving beneath leotards and a white silk robe. He bowed over her hand, and Rose’s, kissing the air a centimeter above her skin. “I’m very pleased to meet both of you. Welcome to my home.” His voice was gentle, and carried with it the barest whisper of song, as if an unseen and almost-imperceptible phantom choir followed him around.

He nodded to Paige, who discreetly withdrew. “Please, make yourselves comfortable.”

2042: Miranda's grandson Damien brings his fiancee, Penylle, to visit his grandfather, WWH:

He eases the door open, and together they step into the heart of Oz.

The chamber is round and fully ten meters across. The domed ceiling is a stylized sky, with golden suns and cotton clouds. Dark figures stand in shadowed alcoves around the perimeter; a waist-high rail of polished mahogany forms a three-meter circle in the room’s center.

Damien leads the way to the railing; it encircles a pit which overlooks the room below. This chamber, about four meters below, looks like a hospital operating theater. White-coated medical personnel, oblivious to those above, tend an assortment of consoles and instruments. The focal point of all this attention, in the center of the room, is a translucent sarcophagus; inside it, a human figure is just barely discernible.

“Damien!” The voice comes from behind them; Damien and Penylle turn to see a figure step out of its alcove. It is WWH, but WWH from the past: a slender, androgynous youngster, wearing the archaic red zippered jacket from his Tough videos. “It’s so good to see you.”

One by one around the room, the other alcoves brighten and their occupants step forth: a baker’s dozen of WWH’s, ranging in age from the ten-year-old star of the H5 to the wizened, stooped master entertainer who had given Oz to the world.

Penylle looks from one to the other in bewilderment, then whispers, “Robots.”

A middle-aged WWH in a fairly conservative business suit takes her hand and bows over it. “Animatrons, we call them here, lovely lady. Damien, will you introduce us?”

Read more in Dance for the Ivory Madonna by Don Sakers

copyright (c) 2002, Don Sakers

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The Wakmarrel School

Founded on Promethia c. 2101 CE as a successor to the Walter and Kenan Marrel Academy, the Wakmarrel School's severe discipline and rigorous training procedures were designed for one purpose: to teach its students how to think clearly and consistently. Surprisingly, the School seems to have succeeded.

In TE 3 (2156 CE), the School moved to a newfound planet which they christened Wakmarrel, and apparently dropped out of contact with the rest of the Galaxy. In TE 64, the Empire recontacted Wakmarrel, and the planet became part of the Empire. By then, the School was composed of well-trained, clear-thinking adepts from many different worlds, and their influence was felt throughout the Empire.

ABOVE: A Wakmarrel adept in signature green cape.

Advanced Wakmarrel School adepts continued the work that had led to the School's establishment, until one of the School's primary purposes was research into the nature of thought and the establishment of new and better methods of thought.

The Wakmarrel School discovered (or created?) a state of awareness called obdumat. Obdumat, or multiplex awareness, is a state in which the mind can comprehend various levels of reality simultaneously. More complex than simple multi-tracking, obdumat can be taught; the School insisted that if enough people in the Galaxy learned and used obdumat awareness, most social problems would disappear.

Naturally, Wakmarrel adepts (in their signature green capes) played an important role in Galactic society, with their subtle problem-solving techniques and their reasoning that resembled intuition. The services of a Wakmarrel adept cost greatly, but were more than worth the price.

After the fall of the Empire, the Wakmarrel School lasted until about 2850 CE, when the planet itself was conquered. Some of the School's literature and teachings survived, though, to ultimately provide one source for the teachings of Lorecanism.

copyright (c) 2009, Don Sakers

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Located 13.1 kiloparsecs from Terra, Phuctra is one of eight Provincial Capitals of the Terran Empire.

The fourth planet of the G0 star Mepsia, Phuctra is technically uninhabitable. Although roughly the same size as Terra (diameter 12,700 km), Phuctra's surface air density is approximately ten times Terra's and its atmosphere is a thick organic soup. The oceans are exceptionally salty, the continents are low lying marshlands. A slender native ecosystem exists; the largest creature is the tacanbeest, a swamp amphibian which resembles a cross between a rhinoceros and a garden slug.

The main Human habitation is the Ring, a large ring-shaped settlement in synchronous orbit around the planet. The Ring is tethered to Phuctra by six Spokes, which are anchored in the planet's bedrock. With a diameter of 86,000 km and a circumference of 270,000 km, the Ring is the largest human-made structure in the Empire. The Ring shares Phuctra's rotation period of 24 hours.

copyright (c) 2009, Don Sakers

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Ottansey is a small planet on the edge of interstellar space. It lies 21.5 kpsc from Terra, 2.7 kpsc from Deletia, 7.0 kpsc from Credix, and 10.5 kpsc from BDA Tr#ska. The planet was colonized in TE 817 (2970 CE) from Credix. Throughout the Interregnum, Ottansey supported a stable population of about 5 million Humans.

Ottansey is also home to a native sapient race of pleiosaur-like creatures called the Halira (singular Halir). The mammalian revolution seems to have skipped Ottansey; the highest native lifeforms are reptiloid. (As is ususally the case, imported Human-related forms have taken over many ecological niches.) Human colonists wiped out the largest land-dwelling reptiloids, and now only smaller forms remain.

The economy of Ottansey is deceptively simple. Halira and starwood provide its base; Deletian and Credixian starships, with an occasional visit from the Tr#skan Trade Union, link the world to the Galaxy. The range of economic activity on Ottansey runs the gamut of Human industry, from mining to transport to food production.

Ottansey's technology is also deceptively simple. A large moon provides tidal power, which is supplemented by a few large fusion reactors purchased from and serviced by offworlders. High-speed maglev trains and powerful hovercraft comprise the long-distance transportation net -- supplemented by a small fleet of (offworld-produced) supersonic jets.

Too poor -- or too clever -- to support a population much over ten million, Ottansey cannot afford complicated planetary politics. Towns -- "boroughs" -- of twenty thousand or so are essentially self-governing, and united into a number of commonwealths loosely organized on continental lines.

Mass communication, including several computer nets, stitches Ottansey together. Except for the Halira-ships or the Dyfers, people tend not to travel far from their native boroughs or to change occupations often. Guided by tradition and placing high value on stability, the sociopolitical system is in a dynamic but strong equilibrium.

The basic sociopolitical unit is the Combine -- a unit of economic derivation. The Lumberer's Combine is by far the most important and influential Combine, with the Fishers Combine in second place. Combines tend to group together into Commonwealths, and the Commonwealths together make up Ottansey.

Human settlements on Ottansey cluster about the rocky coasts of Tumaden and Ladamar, with a high concentration of settlements on the Dakan Islands.

The Halira provide quite a number of useful products: various fats and oils, meat, strong and lovely bone, and fertilizers for the starwood forests.

The Dyfers are a major dissenting force in Ottansey planetary politics. They were founded about 3800 CE as a quasi-religious, semi-environmental movement designed to save the Halira. The Dyfers are headquartered on Sernlan Island, and by 4050 CE their prime task was to swim with the Halira, communicate with them, and try to argue them out of self-starvation and/or beaching in accordance with the Song of Death.

By 4100 CE the Dyfers had taken on terrorist overtones, as they sought to destroy the fishing vessels which preyed upon Halira.

copyright (c) 2009, Don Sakers

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The Impostor Marc Hoister

Jump-cut to Marc Hoister's impossibly-ugly, aged-but-eternal visage: a face like a dark plum halfway along in becoming a prune. Black-on-black-on-black: broad nose, puny eyes sunken in shadow, lips of leather burnt by a thousand years of equatorial sun. The last traces of ebon hair, dark as Damien's own, cling to the edges of his scalp. His robes are severe, trimmed with jet on sable. Against the granite walls and the spotlighted Amerinds, Marc Hoister is not so much a presence as a void, a dark nothingness in the night.

Publicly, Marc Hoister is a respected Cultural Minister and powerful member of the clandestine organization known as the Nexus. Privately. however, he is a master manipulator and identity thief. The man, whose real name remains unknown, appeared on the scene in the mid-2010's CE. A brilliant hacker and charismatic preacher, he gained more power until, in 2025 CE, he killed and replaced the real Marc Hoister, taking over Marc's identity. He then used his new identity to mastermind a plot which threatened world peace and, ultimately, all of Humankind.

copyright (c) 2009, Don Sakers

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