MAN OF WAR
READING AND RESOURCE GUIDE
MAN OF WAR is a Two Hawks from Earth Adventure that is a direct sequel to the original novel by Philip José Farmer and the short story "Dakota's Gate" by Heidi Ruby Miller. This alternate Earth thriller contains an ensemble cast and elements of underwater science fiction, space opera, science fiction romance, military science fiction, a galactic empire, and anthropological science fiction.
In Philip José Farmer’s novel Two Hawks from Earth, Native American pilot Roger Two Hawks flew through his first “gate” while on a bombing run over Romania during World War II. The gate brought him to Earth 2, a world where the Americas never existed. Since then he has continued to fight battles on Earth after Earth, each more strange than the next.
In Heidi Ruby Miller’s short story “Dakota’s Gate” (Worlds of Philip José Farmer 3), set on Earth 3, North America never advanced past stone tools and rock shelters. But that’s where Two Hawks met another gate traveler, Dakota Cummings. It was Dakota, a woman turned friend and lover, who pulled him through a gate to her Earth, the most alien and deadly of all.
Earth 4. Two hundred years in the future. A war thirty-six thousand feet underwater. Two Hawks must draw upon all he’s learned during his gate travels in order to survive war between technologically advanced humans and their far-future hybrid cousins. This time more than just his and Dakota’s lives are at stake—the fate of an entire world is in his hands.
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"Science fiction is full of tales of displaced heroes, finding themselves involved in the conflicts of their adoptive worlds....Heidi Ruby Miller really runs with this concept, as Two Hawks finds himself equally used and abused by pretty much everyone he comes into contact with. Being a novella, it’s a fairly quick read, action-packed and gripping....I generally like to find something to criticise, no matter how small, just to avoid being taken for one of the current rash of meaningless five star reviewers that currently infest the internet, but I honestly couldn’t find anything to complain about. I genuinely hope Miller and Meteor House plan on continuing the story with further books." -DAVE BRZESKI, British Fantasy Society
"More than just demonstrating how the best science fiction thrills with action, and explores romance in new and unexpected ways, Heidi Ruby Miller gives us something equally important -- representation, through an exploration of Farmer's classic Iroquois character Two Hawks. Anyone interested in page-turners with diversity should stop what they're doing and read Man of War." -JOHN EDWARD LAWSON, Bram Stoker Award finalist and author of Bibliophobia
"When an author writes an action/adventure thriller, it helps if she's an action/adventure heroine herself, which Heidi Ruby Miller most certainly is." -DANA MARTON NYT Bestselling Author of the Hardstorm Saga
"...a writer-crush on Heidi Ruby Miller. I mean, holy crap, this girl can write! This is how you write Science-Fiction." -CARY CAFFREY Bestselling Author of The Girls from Alcyone trilogy
"One does not simply read Heidi Ruby Miller's stories. One lives them..." -JC CASSELS Author of The Black Wing Chronicles
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The dizziness was different this time, debilitating and frightening. Something was wrong.
A featureless gray-white space eggshelled around Two Hawks and Dakota. From a wall to their right a door irised open. Men and women, outfitted in bulky white body suits which covered them from head to toe, approached from the doorway.
“I need to tell you something.” Dakota’s tone was nervous. “We weren’t using the gate to visit alternate Earths. We were experimenting with alternate timelines. That’s why Tannghrishon’s prophecy eventually rang so true to me. The man who told him all about us had to be another gate traveler, another time traveler. Though, I was supposed to be the first volunteer.”
“And by pulling me through with you, you made me the second.” Two Hawks said it more to himself. “So, when are we, Dakota Cummings?”
“Welcome to 2150, Roger Two Hawks. Give or take. From our conversations, I’ve surmised that our metric for time measurement is close enough to yours, but based on a geologic event from two thousand one hundred fifty years ago, rather than a cultural one as it was on your home Earth.”
His breath caught.
Two hundred years in the future…
On a fourth Earth…
About to be surrounded.
“Dakota.” Though the helmet the man wore muffled his voice, there was no mistaking the authoritative tone. Authoritative and suspicious.
“Bastion.” Dakota sounded firm, but cautious, as she joined the man near the doorway.
As the two spoke in animated whispers and the other white-suited personnel kept a watchful distance, Two Hawks smelled trouble. Strictly speaking, he actually smelled salty air, like driving past the shore on family vacations back home in New York. Back home on his Earth. Earth 1. A couple of hundred years in the past.
A gesture from Bastion sent the other members of his team moving in on Two Hawks with thin metal cylinders and other metallic objects half-concealed by the grip of white gloved hands. Medical instruments? Or maybe weapons he’d never imagined. This was the farthest he had ever been from home. Even farther than Earth 2.
The memory of torture by the hands of the Perkunishans from that Earth flooded his mind. He saw once again the sacrificial death of his friend, O’Brien, the rape of his wife, Imilka, and all the battles leading up to Two Hawks’ final escape. Just like Tannghrishon and his people fought on Earth 3. Visions of their impending slaughter called to the soldier inside Two Hawks.
He spun on the nearest white suit, dropped the startled man to the floor, and snatched the silver cylinder from his hands. Two Hawks palmed the cool, featureless device. When a large needle popped out of the end, the rest of the suits shuffled backward.
“Roger.” Dakota called him by his given name rather than the nickname she’d given him on Tannghrishon’s Earth. Still, she demonstrated their intimacy by walking right past the gathered scientists and approaching him without hesitation. Keeping her gaze locked on his, she spoke in a voice devoid of emotion, a voice he barely recognized. “I know this is a lot to take in. It all happened so fast. No one would blame you for being disoriented.”
She stuck her hand out, but instead of an empty palm ready to receive his makeshift weapon, she revealed the disk from her gun. It had been their salvation, their way to open this gate by rigging its small battery to the gate’s power supply.
She mouthed, “Trust me.”
He hesitated, not quite believing in her reassurance. In truth, he did trust Dakota, even now, even here. It wasn’t because they’d become lovers on Earth 3—it was because they’d become friends.
With a sigh that relaxed his whole body and an exaggerated laugh as a distraction, he switched the needle cylinder for the disk and pocketed it. “Sorry, everyone. I’m a little jumpy after being sucked out of a war.”
All the white suits spared him agitated glances as they stepped forward to collect the man Two Hawks had dropped to the floor. But Bastion swaggered right over.
“We had expected you to be more sensible.”
“Bastion,” Dakota warned, but he took no notice.
“More professional. More…in control of your emotions, considering the glowing reports from Dakota. Though I suspected someone from such primitive times might not have the necessary fortitude to cope with our advanced culture.”
The final insult barely registered with Two Hawks as he regarded the way Bastion’s gloved hand smoothed down Dakota’s long dark hair. The lover she’d been reluctant to mention back on Earth 3? She had never spoken his name. Easy enough to guess now.
“What reports?” Two Hawks asked, now feeling doubly betrayed by the woman who had brought him here. His fingers caressed the disk she’d slipped him.
He squeezed the small battery. Best to hold on as tight as possible because once his trust for her started to slip….
Dakota stepped away from Bastion’s reach and closer to Two Hawks. “Roger, there’s so much we need to talk about.” Her tone edged on panic, her words too quick. “After they check you out in quarantine. I promise.”
“I’m not sure I believe you,” he said. “Or that you’re in a position to keep that promise. Bastion may not let you.” He stared at the other man.
“I am a higher caste—“ Dakota began.
“Though,” Bastion interrupted, “down here in the Man of War, I am in charge of this project. Putting aside our caste conflicts for the greater good and so forth.”
“Man of War? Down here?” Two Hawks took in the eggshell surrounding them. “Where are—“
A tremor rolled through the floor. It toppled two of the suited scientists. For an insane second, Two Hawks thought that the egg just might crack open, hatching him, Dakota, and the medical team.
“Earthquake,” a female suit yelled.
“The Man of War’s sensors should have anticipated any volcanic stresses.” Dakota braced herself between Two Hawks and Bastion. “Could it be the hybrids?”
Two Hawks’ question was ignored, as was Dakota’s.
The eggshell’s skin glowed bright red.
“Emergency stations.” Bastion bolted for the door.
Two Hawks and Dakota sprinted after him. The door seal popped and the entry irised open, battering the now exposed occupants with waves of bleating alarms. He snagged her hand the way she had done to him mere minutes earlier—or two hundred years ago—and jumped into the action.
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READING AND RESOURCE GUIDE
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT WHILE READING
• How does this story continue with Farmer's original novel while maintaining its own qualities?
• What parallels can we draw between our Earth and Earth 4?
• What are the intricacies of working with another author's character?
• How does the isolation of the Man of War habitat mirror Two Hawks's own feelings of isolation?
• Which aspects make this book New Pulp and which aspects make it Science Fiction?
THEME: EMBRACING THE EXISTENTIALISM OF WAR
The title itself is a double entendre, referring both to the jellyfish shape of the underwater station and to Roger Two Hawks as a soldier. On Earth 4 he has constant reminders of impending war, political maneuverings, and the militarization of technology. It is a pattern that has followed him from the time he left his own Earth during our equivalent of World War II.
He accepts this constant state of battle readiness, but is still intensely aware that war shouldn't be the norm. His migration through gate after gate only to find his situation repeated is Sisyphean in nature. Given his positiveness throughout even the worse circumstances, we can see a Camus-esque embracing of the absurdity in Two Hawks's personal philosophy.
THEME: A CAUSE BEYOND THE SELF
To some degree, each of the key players in the story works on behalf of a cause that is beyond ego and self-satisfaction. The least demonstrative of this theme is the hybrid leader, Khil. He works to bring his people to a new home, but only so that he might have multitudes to follow him. Bastion's cause is similar in that he wants victory over the hybrids for his people, but he also desires to keep a ruling position. Dakota is split between concern for her people and for Two Hawks, though in the end those causes align for a greater good.
Two Hawks defaults to fighting for others, no matter on which Earth he finds himself. On Earth 4 it is primarily for Dakota with a secondary cause of saving her people from the hybrid invasion. Perhaps love as a cause can seem selfish, however, so according to that argument, Two Hawks might also be putting personal gains above the welfare of others.
THEME: STRENGTH THROUGH A LOVER
Roger Two Hawks and Dakota Cummings embrace the concept of strength through a lover—knowing there is one person in the entire world (or many worlds) who would do anything to protect you, to make sure you're happy, to fight for you and love you, that fulfills your physical needs as well as your emotional ones. Though they each question their trust for the other at times during the story, their faith in a relationship anchored by shared tribulations and unusual circumstances provides the power they need to prevail together in the end.
THEME: LIVING MANY LIVES
The obvious character portraying the many lives theme is Two Hawks because he considers each new Earth he encounters a different life. Dakota even speaks of this when she faces her guilt for pulling him out of his last life, one they shared together with Tannghrishon's people. This metaphor could extend to Dakota, Bastion, and even Khil as they had all visited other Earths, and it is implied that each of them underwent a change in character due to the displacement. One could further argue that the gate in the form of a sentient star (or singularity) has also "lived many lives."
INSPIRATIONS FROM OTHER CREATORS AND MEDIA
Philip José Farmer books
Christopher Paul Carey books
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry books
James Cameron: Aliens of the Deep and Avatar
XBOX: BioShock games
Soundtrack: Mogwai, Ludovico Einaudi, Yann Tiersen
• The Gate of Time by Philip José Farmer
• Two Hawks from Earth by Philip José Farmer
• "Dakota's Gate" by Heidi Ruby Miller (in The Worlds of Philip José Farmer 3)
• Tongues of the Moon by Philip José Farmer
• Ambasadora Book 1: Marked by Light by Heidi Ruby Miller
• Greenshift by Heidi Ruby Miller
• Starrie by Heidi Ruby Miller
• Wind, Sand and Stars by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
• The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
• The Song of Kwasin by Christopher Paul Carey
• Gods of Opar by Philip José Farmer and Christopher Paul Carey
• Hadon, King of Opar by Christopher Paul Carey
• Exiles of Kho by Christopher Paul Carey
• Blood of Ancient Opar by Christopher Paul Carey
• Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
• The Dragon in the Sea by Frank Herbert
• The Curiosity Killers by K.W. Taylor
• Startide Rising by David Brin
• The Man Who Loved Alien Landscapes by Albert Wendland
• The Time Connection by Thomas F. Monteleone
• The Evil in Pemberly House by Win Scott Eckert
• The Scarlett Jaguar by Win Scott Eckert
• James Camerion's Aliens of the Deep by Joseph B. Mancinnis
• Sphere by Michael Crichton
• Starfish by Peter Watts
• Reefsong by Carol Severance
• Camouflage by Joe Haldeman
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