I’ve mentioned before how much I love my nightmares. Well, I had a different kind of nightmare last night, one that I was sad to wake up from and now feel a lingering melancholy that it wasn’t real.
In the dream I found a used bookstore I’d never seen before. This is, of course, a wonderful start to a dream. As would happen in real life, I was unable to resist going into the store and browsing. The shelves were filled mostly with colorful paperbacks. I saw they had a big western section and moved over to that. Almost immediately I found a dozen Lewis B. Patten westerns that I’d never seen before. Patten is not my favorite western writer but his tales are consistently good and it would certainly be a thrill to find a bunch of his works together like that. In real life I would have bought them all.
Then I saw that across the aisle from the westerns was the science fiction/fantasy section. I moved over there. The place was dimly lit and I noticed a row of thin paperbacks on the very top shelf that looked like Lin Carter books. I have most of Carter’s books and have read most of the ones I have, but I will typically look through stacks of his works to see if I’m missing anything. I reached up and pulled down a handful, only to get a most pleasant surprise.
By their covers, the books were clearly space opera/sword and planet works, but they were written by an author named Joe Comple. I had never heard of the author, nor seen these books before, but they looked exactly like something I would love. I sat the stack down beside me and selected the top one for further study, just as would be my habit in real life.
The cover was mostly bright blue and it looked like something Darrel K. Sweet might have done. The central image showed two space faring galleons coming together in battle. The author’s name, Joe Comple, was in small print near the bottom, and the title stretched large across the top portion. The title was “Hijacking the Ajax.”
I opened the book to page one and started reading. It struck me as quite good, although after waking up I couldn’t remember the exact words. The Ajax turned out to be one of the ships from the cover, and the opening line was something like: “The Ajax came down to the attack on a long parabolic curve.”
There turned out to be three Joe Comple books in the stack I’d taken down, although I remember nothing about the other two, and they immediately went on the pile I was planning on buying. Then the nightmare occurred. I woke up. And realized the books didn’t really exist. I sure wish they did.
I even went to Google and Amazon and searched for Joe Comple. There are a couple of folks named that apparently but none of them appear to be writers. More’s the pity. Although if I ever need a pseudonym for fantasy maybe I’ve just dreamed one up.