GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ W.I.P it Real Good: Sci-fi author Robert Hoppensteadt + excerpt | I Smell Sheep

Friday, May 8, 2020

W.I.P it Real Good: Sci-fi author Robert Hoppensteadt + excerpt

I want to share a little bit of my WIP. It is different from my two previously published novels, The Shelter and Spawn of the Cataclysm, in several respects – the two most important ones being that it is written in the first person and it is a semi-autobiography. I am finding it is much harder for me not to have the freedom of both an omniscient POV and the ability to make everything up. Everything in the novel actually happened to me growing up in the early ‘70s, though I am changing the names and some of the sequences of events.

I was never a “normal” kid, I was introverted and a loner. I was, at a very skinny six foot two by the time I was twelve, also very socially and physically clumsy. That all changed when I discovered the stoner world of drugs and alcohol, and by the time I was fifteen I had filled out and gotten into enough trouble to be adjudicated incorrigible and sent away. Things have obviously improved in the years since then, but that time was intense for me, so I thought it would make a great story. With good fortune it will be available sometime in the not too distant future.

This largely unedited excerpt hopefully speaks for itself: 

*Below is one of the only pictures of me from that time – Sixteen years old and working on a small ranch on the middle of nowhere.

I was relieved that my parents weren’t home yet. I should have gone into my room, turned everything off and pretended to be asleep. But that’s not what I did. I wandered around the house, checked on my sleeping brothers who shared the back bedroom across the hall from my parent’s, and then put my Black Sabbath record on the big stereo we had in the living room. I was sitting there listening to it when they walked in. Not verbatim, but this is kind of how the conversation went with them after dad turned off the music.

“We didn’t expect you to be up still.”

“Yeah, I just got home. Had to walk all the way back.”

“You were told to be home by ten.”

“I know. I lost my ride and had to walk all the way home.”

“What happened to your ride?”

“My ride? Oh yeah I got a ride from Allen Greaves. He lives over in Smithridge.”

“I though you said you walked.”

“Oh, I meant I walked from Allen’s house.”

“Where is Allen exactly?”

“He’s still back at the fair.”

“Wait, what? What’s wrong with you?”

“Nothing’s wrong, I was in a riot.”

“Are those my cigarettes in your pocket?”

At about that time our Siamese cat, Smoky, walked in and sat down. My parent’s were still looming over me, staring, talking, not letting up. I stopped listening and couldn’t take my eyes off the cat, who seemed to be flowing in waves down to the carpet.

“Are you seeing Smoky? Looks like she’s melting into the floor.”

Things got worse from there pretty quickly. I mean, how do you come back from that?

Spawn of the Cataclysm
by Robert Hoppensteadt
March 2. 2020
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Adventure
Publisher: Solstice Publishing
ISBN: 979-8620552344
Number of pages: Print 227; Kindle 194
Word Count: 70K
Humans carelessly wielded their power to create new things, a power that far outpaced their understanding. It was only a matter of time until something went terribly wrong. Something did.

Technology has been erased for millenniums, monsters spawned at the end of a world infest the forests and seas, and a new civilization has slowly risen from the long darkness. In sight of the looming ruins of what was once called San Francisco there is an evil growing.

The people of New Gate are about to face their greatest challenge.

Excerpt Chapter One
“We didn’t create the virus, it lived in the wild. We found it when Howler monkeys began starving to death even though they stripped every local crop in the area. The virus triggered their metabolism to speed up ... we were paid by the Defense Department to develop an offensive application, said we could keep exclusive rights to all its commercial uses if we delivered. It could have changed the way we grow food but they pushed us. It wasn’t ready to test, and when the earthquake hit… is out now. The death toll will be on their heads. And ours.”

Translated from the Cataclysm

Rik Arrowen leaned over the gunwale, his gaze following dancing green shafts of sunlight that plunged into the depths. He strained his eyes, thought he saw movement. A huge shadow drifted slowly below the light. He knew the creature they Hunted was down there, a hungry thing that lurked unseen.

“It is here,” he muttered.

A school of silver fish darted upward, their bodies flashed like a thousand mirrors. Rik’s heart jumped in the instant before a sail-sized fin, jagged and scarred, cut slowly into the green twilight before receding back into the murk. He had no time to catch his breath, or shout a warning, when the great misshapen spawn rose fast and straight into the light, its gaping jaws filled with teeth. The thing ignored the weighted haunch of bloody meat they had drawn it in with, and hit the wooden galley on the port side with enough force to knock four Hunters into the bay.

As the hull rocked, the water turned red and raw screams filled the air.


“What a beautiful day to be alive.”

The voice blew away Rik’s memory and brought him back to where he stood, high above the countryside on the windy battlement of Stonehaven’s north wall.

“Oh, forgive me,” the voice continued. “Did I startle you?”

Rik did not bother to turn around.

“No, Jerold,” he replied. “I was watching the bay. It’s been six days since we lost those four Hunters to the spawn. I can’t stop hearing their screams as the thing ate them. Nothing we could do. We hit it with five harpoons and it still swam away. On the way down, it swallowed the bait haunch whole, and would have pulled us under if we hadn’t cut the rope.” He paused for a moment. “I have never seen one that big. I hope it has gone back out to sea.”

“May the Mystery welcome them all,” Jerold said. “I don’t often see anyone else up here this time of day. I like the solitude, the view calms me when the Council is crawling up my back about money.”

Rik scanned the horizon. The morning mist had burned away, and the sea breeze held a hint of pine. To the west rose a low range covered with giant redwoods, some of them hundreds of feet tall. The ridge continued to wind its way from the south, ending in cliffs at the mouth of the bay. The wide channel reflected the blue of the sky, and ripples that ran counter to the waves marked strong currents that carried the tide out to sea. Across the water, the redwoods picked up again and became the great northern forest. Long ago, when the seas were lower, a famed bridge the ancients called Golden Gate stretched above the treacherous waters from shore to shore. Nothing was left of it now but a few worn mounds of concrete piles at each end.

Below the fortress, starting near the base of the hill, the city of New Gate sprouted like a garden. It spread down to the bay, a bright jumble of buildings and spires that tumbled to the busy harbor. There, sailing ships and galleys crowded together, bare masts bobbed within the walls of the breakwater. New Gate was home to almost twenty thousand souls and a passing refuge for a few thousand more at any given time. Now, it was bursting at the seams with wagons and people who could be seen crowding the streets and setting up stalls in the Market Square for the upcoming Equinal Games.

To the east and scattered around the bay were ruins. Most were settled into oddly geometric mounds and small hills covered in green, but in some places, they rose like monstrous patches of black lace from the dense hardwood forests that covered the lowlands around the bay. The largest cluster of these, called Lily’s Bones for reasons nobody could remember, contained broken and crumbling towers so immense that their ragged peaks were sometimes lost in the clouds.

About the Author:
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Robert Hoppensteadt lied about his age and started working in Reno when he was fourteen, washing dishes on the late shift at a casino restaurant. Since then he has been a grunt in the Forest Service, a carpenter, and, after receiving a degree in Information Systems, a recruiter and senior manager. Now he writes full time. He has lived on both coasts and several places in between but currently resides in Virginia with his wife and two seriously spoiled and obnoxious cats.

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