Tubitz and Mergenstein (Review)

Tubitz and Mergenstein (Review)

heap shot here; I’m reviewing a book that I wrote, and that wasn’t ever published. So yes, this one will be tough to find. I think I have the only copy in existence. But maybe I can change all that.

I’m preparing to rewrite this thing, to aim it at the adult/YA steampunk market. It’s a jolly little romp that has always warmed my heart. I think, reworked, it could have a chance of publication (of course, when is that ever not true? Why would I write them anyway?)

Anyway, Tubitz and Mergenstein involve the pairing of a mismatched couple, a gutter-level thief (Tubitz, named after the amount her prostitute-mother charged for accidental impregnation – i.e. “two bits”) and Mergenstein (a young and inept baronet). When Mergenstein is set up in a duel to take a fall and Tubitz interferes (because she dislikes Megenstein’s high-brow antagonist more than she dislikes him), the stage is set. Now on the run for assault and murder, wanted by every authority branch of the Empire, they are forced to flee in an over-sexed starship for the rim and beyond. If they can remain outside custody for a year’s time, all charges will be dropped.

The book was developed in sections, each one putting the pair in a dangerous situation, one that they could only in by cleverly playing off the circumstances. Thus, each section was a puzzle. In the first, it’s their escape while dealing with a ship full of boarders and a skiptracer in close pursuit. In the second section, there is the matter of a count who manipulates his bog-sogging workers, breeding them for stupidity and profiting from their idiotic toiling. In the third, the shiptracer corporation has them bottled up in a pirate base, their siege line including a battlecruiser. In the base, dusty and forgotten, is an old yet once-famous gunship. Which of the town members were its fabled pilots, and how can the pair convince the team to fly again? In the fourth section, the Terrible Twins (as they are now called by a galaxy infatuated with their story) hole up in an alien confederation of worlds. Mergenstein possesses an artifact that will allow him one “favor” by any inhabitant. The trouble is, criminals and skiptracers and the Imperial Fleet are all hunting him – how can one “wish” get around all three groups? In the fifth section, the pair find themselves on a beautiful unexplored planet well outside known space, a water world of magnificent archipelagos and dark secrets. And in the last, Mergenstein (taken) and Tubitz (marooned) must reunite if Mergenstein is to avoid a sentence at midnight on the final day that the charges are in effect.

So, to be critical of my work (and I’ll write more about this on my DOG EAR columns), it’s wordy. I wouldn’t shut up. Characters who were around for a single chapter got three pages of background. The story would only just get rolling and I’d swing off on a tangent, showing how clever I was while not advancing the story one jot. This thing ran something like a quarter million words, and fills (single space!) two three-ring binders. Yeah, it was huge. And worst, their ship (the Miss Understood) was a tedious play of oversexual strumpetry. I thought it was funny then.

On the other hand, while the writing was way overdone, the plot was very clever (if I do say so myself). I found myself thinking, at times, that there was nothing they could do to get around their next obstacle. It’s truly a weird feeling to be outsmarted by a younger version of yourself, to marvel at a bit of trickery long forgotten.

And, true of any scifi that exists beyond its expiration date, there is the bit about radioactive plains sounding suspiciously like North America and Eastern Europe, and that nuke-cracked moon. I even mentioned the Berlin Wall. Yeah, when I wrote this, it still felt like the US and the USSR were on the verge of nuking each other. Maybe it will still happen, but it doesn’t have the same feel of authenticity that other doomsday scenarios have. It feels as dated as Martians.

Anyway, that’s the review. I’ve already started the new version. Details and progress to follow.