Beyond Mars A novel of science fiction adventure, romance and alien vampires. In 2069 Jonathan Kraine is an archaeologist on a manned mission to the red planet, where a chance discovery changes the mission's focus. Strange events force the survey team to return to Earth. But a deadly accident happens in space, and Jonathan and his new alien friend are the only survivors. When an investigation of the incident reveals that the accident was deliberately set, Jonathan and Andru uncover the instigator of the plot. What started out as a moment of first contact soon turns into a battle to save the future and destiny of the human race. A stand alone novel in the Heirs of The Dragon's Blood series. ♦
About the book: It is actually based in large part on my very first serious novel which I began in 1972, called Escape to Samarra, about an archaeologist who stumbles into a ruin in the Iraqi desert and discovers a long dead colony established by alien beings. I was inspired to write it after reading Chariots of The Gods? by Erich von Daniken. Even then I had thought his theory somewhat plausible from a speculative point of view, but I dismissed his argument that humans of the ancient world had no intellectual capacity to independently design systems of mathematics, engineering, and innovative technologies; or that humans could not possibly have been able to innovate or invent at all, and that they had to have help from alien beings. This was a point of contention among archaeologists, anthropologists, and astronomers. His book was extremely popular among UFO enthusiasts. Nevertheless, it started a "what if" question to underpin the premise and storyline of my own book.
Due to real life issues and other practical considerations I laid the manuscript aside and went on to a dismal career not of my own choosing, and for 20 years I did not do more but start fragments of other novels but never finished them. In the meantime, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg developed the Indiana Jones series of films, and I appreciate their success as an event of coincident design. But their success inspired me to write again, and from 1988 to 1995 I embarked on a series of short stories written for a fan newsletter.
In 1998 I began developing the Heirs of The Dragon's Blood series as a dodecology of books, aimed at presenting an epic story about alien vampires who had once been humanoid but whose lives and civilization were changed by a natural disaster and infection from a dragon's blood. I had created a "production manual" of concepts and drawings, snippets of storylines and so on. One of them was an acrylic painting I created called "Beneath the Surface", in which I show an astronaut shining a light on a ruin buried beneath the surface of Mars. It was entirely fanciful but it evoked the idea of alien visitations, and that at some time in the remote past, the alien people I called the "Xosan" visited the solar system and established a colony there. I put it aside in the notebook and did not come back to it until I finished Destiny's Forge.
I sat and thought about the next book in the series. I read over Destiny's Forge and decided that one of my supporting characters had a sketchy past to begin with, and I used him to advance the further development of the background of the book and started writing about the Mars colonies. Naturally, throughout the thread of the first and second books was the idea that Xosan had visited the solar system before, but that they had done little to advance the modern civilization on earth.
At the same time, I had already seen The War of The Worlds, made in 1953, and Capricorn One in 1972, following soon after by Hangar 18 in 1985. They were all about conspiracy theories, alien incursions, UFO beliefs, and so on. All these ideas coalesced into a complete tale, which I had titled To Taste The Dragon's Blood because of something Joseph Campbell said to Bill Moyer in his PBS series "The Power of Myth"; about heroes daring to accept tremendous risks when doing heroic deeds, and that they must descend into the darkness of their own psyches to overcome whatever fears they might have of failure:
"...the hero, on encountering the power of the dark, may overcome and kill it, as did Siegfried and St. George when they killed the dragon. But as Siegfried learned, he must then taste the dragon blood, in order to take to himself something of that dragon power."
Campbell went on to say that when the hero drinks the blood he hears the song of nature, transcends his humanity and reassociates himself with the power of nature, which is the source of all life. When I heard this it locked all my wavering ideas about the mythology of my series into a single coherent concept: that the origins of the people I wrote, the Xosan, should have a mythology and a legend of its own, how they came to be the way they are and what they made of it; what they did to survive as a race for millions of years. That by being living vampires they displayed all the same characteristics as a vampire but that these adaptations occurred naturally over time as a result of drinking the dragon's blood; an act of self-sacrifice taken on by a single hero at the time of the beginning.
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This enabled me to write a better book than Escape to Samarra by working the mythology into the narrative. It also helped me to craft the identities and personas of Jonathan and his alien friend Andru, who learn to rely on each other for survival and eventually become best friends. The whole story is the story of human survival in spite of the odds, of the battle between proponents of the expansion into outer space and their opponents, and of the ultimate battle between good and evil.
Over the course of the book I integrated two other characters from my cast into the story as assistants to our heroes, and in the process found myself fully involved with developing the rest of the series. They help to establish the mythology as an ongoing, living theme against the backdrop of the evolution of human kind. I brought some of my speculations of what could have happened if alien beings had visited earth and what the consequences might be into the narrative.
After some time of ruminating on titles I decided to change it to Beyond Mars, because certainly some changes had occurred since the first printing, and I think the title was too long for the average reader to absorb. While I had read Campbell's books, others had not. But I wanted most of all to include the planet Mars in the theme because that is the focus of the book. I explore the need to go to Mars, and beyond toward outer space.
On the whole I was actually happier writing this book than I was with Destiny's Forge because it was the first one of the series which was completely separate from the old series of stories. From then on I left the old series behind and continued on to write seven more books. In retrospect, the common theme of self-sacrifice and the ideas of transcendence and resurrection ring true in all of them, which means that you really should read all the books to get the full flavor and mystery of the series. ♦
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