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Into the Out

Into the OutOne of my favorite writers of all time is Andre Norton. From reading her books, I learned many of the techniques of the writing craft, putting your protagonists in a dangerous situation and keeping then there through perilous situations until, by the dint of their own efforts, they emerge victorious and better people for having faced the dangers you put them through.

And of Ms. Norton's many great novels, my favorite as I was growing up was Galactic Derelict, Book 2 in her Time Traders series. Although the premise of the series is about aliens who visited Earth in our distant past, and time travelers from our present day who go back to interact with them, the second volume is really a space adventure, about one of those ancient ships being brought forward to our present time and accidentally taking off with an inexperienced crew who are forced to travel to the remnants of that long-vanished civilization.

The sense of wonder this instilled in my teenage mind was incalculable. Traveling to far worlds and viewing the remains of a long-vanished civilization, like visiting the ruins of Pompeii, produces an overwhelming sense of awe. Coupled with the feeling of being trapped by a technology you can't control and the fear that you may not survive the experience kept me on the edge of my seat.

When I was casting about in my mind for my next writing project, I was struck by the notion of re-interpreting Ms. Norton's classic adventure for a modern audience. I wanted to take different characters and put them in a similar situation. This novel of a group of teenagers in a long-abandoned interstellar vessel on a journey to who-knows-where is the result.

The title itself is a whimsy. My brain likes to re-process song lyrics into things I find more interesting. I enjoyed the USA Network comedy "Psych," and its raucous theme song ended with line "and psych you out in the end." My mind always wanted to change that to "and psych you into the out." So, when this novel came along,  Into the Out seemed like the natural title for it. Weird, huh? (And perhaps there's a subconscious tip of the hat to Into the Woods by my idol, Stephen Sondheim.)

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