When an author writes a story, creates a world and the creatures in it, does the literary world actually come into being in some parallel universe? Joshua Gordon, creative writing professor and writer of pulp fiction thinks so and is in fact so convinced it is true that when he is diagnosed with a terminal illness he sets out to find a protégé who he can convince to take over as the creator god of the world. He finds that protégé in the person of John Fisher.
EXCERPT: World Without End
Joshua Gordon, The Creator, was fifty-eight years old when he felt himself beginning to die. He was of medium height with graying hair, brown-gold eyes, a face pleasantly marked with smile wrinkles and a body with a tendency toward plumpness in the middle. The feeling was just an odd little twinge at first; a sort of pinching at the base of his neck, producing a barely perceptible weakening in his legs, gone almost before noticed, not to be thought of again until the pinching became stronger and the weakness more pronounced. His medicos said the condition was a genetic defect, accelerated neuro-myelitis, but when Gordon began questioning what the hyphen bearing Latinate gobbledygook meant, they hemmed and hawed, provoking him so he lost his temper.
"You mean you have not the foggiest notion on God's green earth what is wrong with me! Am I right?"
"Take it easy Dad," Joshua's son Lucian said, putting his hand on his fathers shoulder. Lucian, the very image of his father at the same age, had driven Joshua to the doctor, pushed the wheelchair Joshua did not really need down the hospital corridors.
"No sir! It does not!" the young doctor protested. "We know the sheathing around your nerves is growing thinner, at some places it has thinned to nothing. Without sheathing, the signals traveling along your nerves are diverted or scrambled."
"In other words, I have a short circuit in my electrical system because the insulation around my wiring isn't any good?"
The doctor smiled at his question. It was so typically Gordon and the doctor had been a fan of Joshua Gordon's books since he was a child. "Yes sir. Pretty accurate description," he said.
"So, why is it happening, and what can be done about it?"
Now the doctor was not so quick to reply. "I can't answer those questions, Mr. Gordon. We don't know what causes it yet, and because we don't know we don't--"
"Yeah, OK." Gordon said holding up a hand to stop the doctor. "How long?"
"Mr. Gordon, it’s--"
Gordon held up his hand again. "Just go ahead and say it. A year, a day, an hour-and-a-half, what?"
The doctor hated what he was about to say, he knew the reaction he was going to get, but there was no avoiding it. With a mental shrug he said, "We don't know."
Gordon opened his eyes wide in disbelief just as the doctor had seen him do on countless talk shows. He knew it always preceded the skewering of some pretentious asshole.
"You don’t know?" Gordon said softly.
Obviously holding in an explosion Gordon said, "Then get me a doctor who knows something."
The doctor blushed. "Your privilege and I recommend it, but they will all tell you the same thing, Mr. Gordon. They will say it differently, but it will boil down to the same thing. There are several related genetic conditions and we have no cure for any of them. There is an experiment going on now in Scotland where some Vets are trying to re-grow or create new myelin sheathing in dogs born without the sheathing, and there are several genetic studies going on, but there is no way of knowing what sort of success they are having. And as to how long--it depends on the rate of degeneration. Your onset was late in life, which may be good-"
"But it may be bad."
"So I could live another sixty years, or I could suddenly collapse with the galloping shakes and kick over in the next couple of minutes."
"You probably will not live another sixty years..." the doctor said with an earnestness which pinked Gordon in his twisted, ironic wit and caused him to smile despite the situation.
"Can't ever tell Doc," he said. "Can't ever tell."
ALSO BY G. LLOYD HELM
Review by C. L. Kraemer
Dragons Of The Ice
Serpents and Doves
G. Lloyd Helm
This tale drops the reader into the boiling mess of the 1960's; Vietnam, integration, and the rush to adulthood for many of us. The main character, Stephen Mitchell, is a normal, albeit, religion-based teenager who is jolted from his California upbringing when he heads off to college in Tennessee.
His view of life is vastly opposite of those living in the deep South and he learns, quickly, what he believes can garner him mountains of trouble.
G. Lloyd Helm has put his finger on the feel of the era, bringing the angst of the War and confusion of Civil Rights to the forefront. As a girl who was uprooted from California and thrust into Alabama a month after Dr. Martin Luther King's march, I empathized with this character. I, too, grew up with myriad nationalities. My father was a career Marine and in our household there was only one color—green. I spent my time in the south in a state of confusion and silence.
I highly recommend this book. It is well thought out with lush characters and visuals of the surroundings. Anyone who might have wondered about the turbulent times of the sixties will get a great insight with this read.
The title “Serpents and Doves” comes from the warning Jesus gave to his disciples as he sent them out to preach the gospel, knowing the dangers they were going into. He said “Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Stephen Mitchell learns first-hand what that warning means when he goes to a Tennessee church college in the midst of the turbulent sixties. He learns about friendship, war, protest, the sexual revolution, and civil rights.