Jandrax 21

Before we start today’s installment, here is the answer to Friday’s puzzle. If all that snowmelt flows into the lake without an outlet, it won’t be fresh for long. And an outlet big enough for all that snowmelt might stop the migrating herds. The concept needs a bit of tweaking.

You didn’t see that? Don’t be surprised. I wrote it in 1976, and only noticed the problem about a week ago.

Now, on to the story . . .

Angi rolled over and leaned on one elbow. The faint light touched one bare breast until she rearranged her clothing. Even in lovemaking they could not undress fully and for that Jan damned the cold planet anew.

“When are you going to marry me, Jan. I’m getting tired of snatching love when we can find a hole to hide in.”

He sat up and adjusted the hang of his pistol. It was true, more for him than for her. He could never relax and enjoy their brief liaisons because his Scout training kept him looking for danger when he should be concentrating on her; furthermore, he felt guilty for breaking his own rules about going beyond the sentry line.

But what could he say?

“Hon, it isn’t as simple as it seems.”

“Why isn’t it?”

To that he didn’t reply.

“You owe me the truth.”

“Not really. It may be that I owe you silence.”

“No, Jan.” He looked around uneasily and she smiled. He was worried about longnecks and afraid that if he suggested that they leave she would think he was avoiding the question. And at the same time, he was avoiding it. “Tell me about Hallam.”

She could not have shocked him more if she had shot him.

“How did you know about that!”

“No, I’m sworn to secrecy on my source. But I deserve to know – and I need to know – why you hate and fear my people.”

When he didn’t reply, she said, “Jan, either you let me into your life or I’ll put you out of mine.”

He dropped an oath. “Sexual blackmail?”

“No. Self-preservation. You know me better every day, but to me you remain an enigma. I can’t live with that.”

He cursed again and drew his weapon. It was apparent that there would be no retreating behind the sentry line now and defense remained his first instinct. “You won’t like the story.”

“No, I’m sure I won’t.”

*****

Today’s entry is short because it finishes a chapter, and what follows tomorrow is quite different. Thomas Anderson’s review of Jandrax complained that it is all over the place and hard to follow. Personally, I like a story that jumps around, although I admit that the connections are far from seamless. It was my first real book, after all.

Another thing is about to happen that the normal reader will probably miss, but will be of interest to writers. I wrote most of Jandrax in first person. It didn’t work, so I rewrote the whole thing in third person.

Two chapters, however, did work better in first person, and were retained unchanged. Jan Andrax’s recollection of the Hallam War, starting tomorrow, is a story told to Angi in his own voice. First person works there. Much later in the novel, his son Jean Dubois’ interlude on the island in the middle of the lake – which may be a dream, or a hallucination, or God (literally) knows what – comes off better as first person because he is both physically and emotionally alone at the time it occurs. more tomorrow

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