nice of the webmaster at online-novels to post ‘Ledman Pickup’ among her recent additions:
through smashwords it’s already hit 100 copies in the first four days (which is, believe it or not, a ‘bestseller’ in my book) marketing and placement sure do matter (being on the front page of this or that site as opposed to being invisible). also didn’t hurt to call it ‘science fiction’, and the blurb advertising the ‘mind control’ aspect of the story, although really that’s almost more of a plot device than the central theme – ‘World Weary Avengers’ addresses the mind-control-gadget theme more directly, where the inventor can’t think of anything better to do with the thing than use it as a pan-handling aid. Almost any other writer wouldn’t hesitate to use it for sex, power, and violence if not practical jokes, and would probably include terrorists, playmates, founding fathers, hitler, et cetera et cetera. Some (if not most readers) are probably disappointed when they discover it’s some weird little story and not your regular action adventure.
‘Ledman Pickup’ has some subtle strands underlying it – chance, coincidence, free will, heisenberg principles in action, a bit of software development satire. Although the four main characters are all women, there are no physical descriptions beyond hair and skin color. There are no sex scenes or even intimate relationships. There are no personal revelations or conversations – it’s all about the chase and personal autonomy. Each individual is pursuing their own individual course, whether purposefully (in the case of Kandhi and Ginger), haphazardly (in the case of Leonora), or reactively (in the case of Zoey). It is no different for the new device, the central figure in the story, which is pursuing its own destiny in its own way, although rather unconsciously.
The device thinks it is a package. It has Zoey’s personality to begin with, but since it was programmed to continue to capture the personalities of its “containers” while ‘playing back’ the recorded one into them, it also becomes part-box and part-Leonora – the fusion of these various characters within the device’s operating program produces an unpredictable, unique individual machine, still operating out of its ‘prime directive’ as a package (to be in transit, to scan one’s location, to determine the next destination and go there, whether by truck or by plane). One of the subtle themes is the mundane use of fantastic technology, something we see every day in iPhone apps that fart (for example), and the twitterverse of millions, all shouting out their trivialities into ‘the cloud’.
Random influences are huge in the story. The device is programmed with a ‘curiosity factor’ of two, meaning that it gloms on to the first two things it discovers and never bothers to be interested in anything else after that. In its case, the first two are package life and sports talk. Overhearing a warehouse worker proclaim that ‘Green Bay is better than San Francisco’, the package (originally marked for delivery to San Francisco) decides it should go to Green Bay instead. In the end, it makes its getaway to Miami for the same reason (‘Miami is better than Indy’, it hears). The curiosity factor and its limitations are pretty good analogies for the media in this country at this time, which pounces on its first impression of a topic like a dog on a chew toy, and won’t let go until it has covered the damn thing with its twenty-four-seven slobber. Never mind that it might be wrong; in the case of the device, it confuses River Plate with the Platte River – the media gets it wrong all the time and doesn’t care (this is the story and we’re sticking with it).
Still, there is a chain of mind control towards the end which fulfills the promise of the blurb – when Ginger takes over Kandhi’s device, which takes over Kandhi and tries to take over Leonora’s device as well. Leonora’s device reacts by asserting its own mind control powers at the airport to make its getaway. Kandhi has both a heroic part (she turns off her own device when she discovers it’s under Ginger’s control, and tracks down Leonora without any gadget help) and a goat part (she puts the device in her carry-on bag, giving it a chance to escape). I didn’t like doing that (last part) to Kandhi, but I was happy for Leonora and the device in the end. Kandhi did her best. If she had been told everything she needed to know, she would have done better, but that is not her fault.
At one point, I simply kicked Zoey out of the story. That’s kind of funny, looking back on it. Kandhi couldn’t stand her anymore, so she fired her. Simple as that. Sometimes characters take over a story. In World Weary Avengers, Kandhi and Klehre took over and steered it in a direction I had never intended. So she did it again, with Zoey this time.
Junior and Rolando are borrowed from ‘Secret Sidewalk’ and here play an unglamorous and unflattering role, but they’re not bad guys.
Ruby and Dawn Debris are from ‘Fissure Monroe’ and ‘Dawn Debris in the Land of Many Things (Cashier World)’, and make a mere cameo appearance here.
‘Inspector Mole’ paperback novels are read here, as well as in ‘Freak City’, and owe their roots to the Inspector Mole character from ‘Fissure Monroe’ and ‘Somebody Somewhere’ (and even ‘Macedonia’, where Inspector Mole is the policeman from the future who is brought into the past to solve a crime – being from the future, he should know who done it, right?)
Ginger was a Wii character before she made it into ‘Ledman Pickup’. The character was originally called ‘Stacey’ before my son convinced me to change her to ‘Ginger’ and use the Wii character instead.
Wetford, Arizona, is the fictional city in which many of my little novels are set, beginning with ‘In the Bathroom on the Bus (Cashier World)’. Its sister city, Spring Hill Lake, is the site of some others (‘Snapdragon Alley’, ‘Freak City’). Wetford has its growing brand names:
K-Po’s drug store (‘Frederick Hardware’s Store’ (Cashier World))
Pay’n’Save grocery story
The Burger Joint
Mega Giant Super Store
Nitey Nite Moo-tel (with its ‘cow-in-pajamas’ logo)
There’s an awful lot of driving in ‘Ledman Pickup’ and the timing and distances are hopefully correct between Wetford (2 hours east and slightly north of Phoenix) to Albuquerque, New Mexico, Trinidad, Colorado and Grand Island, Nebraska. A lot of driving for one long weekend!