Here’s the Scoop on Nuclear Poop

Rephrase that: Here’s the latest poop on Nuclear Dragons. (For much more sickening, as in non-fictional, nuclear pee, see here: Radioactive water leak found.)

Rather, here’s the publisher’s suggestion as to what the cover should look like. Said publisher is not going to do said cover, sooth also said. Also fortunately.

That’s Ian Bateson’s pleasure.

Ian Bateson's artwork initially prepared for Phantacea Seven, 1980

Publisher pieced together this pastiche for real cover artist Ian Bateson; it’s his artwork after all, albeit mostly from circa 1980, colour to come

However, said publisher may write the Auctorial Preamble, albeit certainly not as James H McPherson, Publisher. (And, just in case you need anything else to read re Nuck-Drags either before or after this, the back cover text is here.)

Nuclear Dragons – Auctorial Preamble

Sometimes one thing leads to all sorts of other things.

Which, in turn, begs the question: How much back story is too much back story?


In some respects, the book-in-hand could be considered two extended prologues, or preludes, and a mini-novel. One prelude, ‘Indescribable Defiance’, definitely leads into “Helios on the Moon”, the upcoming third entry in the Launch 1980 story cycle. That much I can tell you. As you might expect it also leads into the second prelude, ‘The Strife Virus’.

 What I can’t tell you is what that leads into, other than the mini-novel itself obviously, which is also “Nuclear Dragons” proper. That’s because I still haven’t decided where to go after Helios. Quite conceivably I’ll carry on with the Outer Earth aspect of this here PHANTACEA Mythos.

That being the case, the second prelude will also lead into it. I might even call the post-Helios story sequence “Outer Earthlings”. After all, titles are mutable. For example, this book was supposed to be called “Centauri Island”, where virtually all of it is set. Needless to say, not just the title didn’t turn out that way.

That said, what with Crystallion, Hell’s Horsemen, and their titular atomic firedrakes on the way, in all probability any Outer Earth follow-up won’t take place on what’s left of Centauri. Unless it’s set prior to 1980, that is, which actually is a possibility.

I can also tell you that the 5980 framing story of the “Janna Fangfingers” mini-novel leads to the same place, albeit the book-in-hand as a whole. Then again, Fangers also leads into “Goddess Gambit”, the third and final instalment of ‘The Thrice-Cursed Godly Glories’ epic trilogy.

Of course, in its turn Gambit eventually picks up from where “The War of the Apocalyptics”, the first entry in the Launch 1980 story cycle, left off. Hence my opening statement. To which I could have added: ‘Whereupon said other things invariably lead into many more other things’. (So-called Shared World writing certainly does get complicated.)

Indeed, Fangers’ sixth chapter, ‘Contacting the Stars’, features two of Nuke’s major characters in such a way that its readers may not even realize they’re in both books until midway through ‘Mind Tap’, the first chapter of said book-in-hand. That being the case it perhaps behooves the writer-at-hand to quote from a pertinent passage of Fangers.

Should first note that Devauray is our Saturday. Should additionally note that neither Gottfried Kenton nor Jordan Tethys appear in Nuke. As for the herein referenced Mr Centauri, he more or less does. (Except that, this time, when it comes to him it’s almost always a matter of more.) Beyond that, well, um, I’ve probably said too much already.

Kenton reached into his suit pocket – only a guy like Kenton would wear a suit on a Devauray morning – and pulled out a list of names. “Be a goose and have a gander at these goslings; I mean godlings. Bet you could do a damn fine series of portraits of this loathsome load, as Mr Centauri reckons most of them.”

Tethys obliged. The list had over fifty names on it. Some weren’t names real devils used – not that devils used names as such, just called each other by their attributes – but he had no trouble visualiz­ing each and every one of them.

Kenton’s smile was unwavering and the scar in the middle of Tethys’s forehead hadn’t stopped itching since he first beheld the glad-handing bastard through the peephole upstairs. That only ever happened when …

“What I meant was, if they’re devils, they’re fourth generational devils. And surely your Illuminaries have told you there’s no such thing. More likely they’re deviants, the offspring of regular men and women possessed by Tantal Thanatos and his sister-wife Methandra, Mithras’s Virgin obviously no longer. For one thing, they were born in pairs, not triplets, and something else everyone knows is Master Devas are born in litters of three.”

“Yet Illuminaries have a Constellation Thanatos don’t they. As it happens, I’ve one of those very things, their star charts, right here in my briefcase if you want proof.” Correction, only a guy like Gottfried Kenton would wear a suit and carry a briefcase on a Devauray morning.

He placed it on the table, opened it up, pulled the map of the night’s sky out of it, shut it, and laid the star-chart atop it. His briefcase wasn’t all he opened. [Most devils {Shining Ones} have three eyes; they also have subtle matter bodies, meaning they can hide or reveal their third one at will.] Neither was his voice his anymore.

“Now let’s scrap the pleasantries, shall we.”


A few pages later on we have the following sequence.

The first speaker is the aforementioned Jordan Tethys, aka the legendary 30-Year Man, also 30-Beers. He’s the hero of ‘The Thrice-Cursed Godly Glories’ epic trilogy. If a PHANTACEA Mythos series can have heroes, that is. (Which, seeing as how it’s Anheroic fantasy – meaning ‘without heroes’ – it can’t.)

The second speaker is not the titular Janna Fangfingers, though she was named after her. It’s Janna St Peche-Montressor. She doesn’t appear in Nuke either. However, her husband does and so does the devil who isn’t possessing her in this passage. They’re two of Alfredo Sentalli’s Untouchables.

“You’ve always struck me as more sensible than sensitive, Janna. Tell me, you have any idea why I wrote this?” He flipped to another page. His Brainrock quill had a much better memory than he did. While he was in his Zen-state it had rewritten what he’d last used it to write, though he somehow sensed not so much in the sky as within it, if that made sense.

‘Rendezvous here’,” she read. Carefully considered her response: “Nope. You?”

His sketchpad suddenly burst into flames. He hated it when that happened. Hated it even more when he had no idea why it happened. He dropped it with a yelp. They watched as it burnt into a cinder. Both registered the letter ‘D’ drawn at an angle of 90 degrees clockwise, linger glowingly before surrendering to ash’s inevitable triumph.

“Not anymore. I like this life too much the way it is. How about APM, SPM?”

Janna looked shaken, not stirred. For a change she didn’t say ‘not possessed, Jordy’; said instead: “Got a spare beer?”

She had his while he went to the infirmary.


Might Kenton in the first blockquote have been possessed by the ‘D’ in the second? And, if so, why was this ‘D’ trying to get Tethys (who, thanks to his Brainrock quill, more so than any innate talent, is an extremely gifted artist) to draw portraits of over fifty named devils, including those in Constellation Thanatos?

To send them an invitation of course. And, given they’re now stars in the night’s sky, what’s with the coordinates on the star map? Answer to that is obviously why he wrote: ‘Rendezvous here’. Which in turn leads us back to the book-in-hand as well as the answer to the query I posed at the outset. Which is: It depends.

Thanks for that you might be saying. But it does and, in the interests of brevity, if hopefully not at the cost of clarity, I’ve chopped bags of back stories already. As near as I can make out, short of eliminating them altogether, there are a number ways of dealing with what’s left. Character companions, parentheses, footnotes and/or an addendum come to mind. I’ve chosen parentheses.

While the reader can skip them as he or she pleases, I’d recommend perusal. Especially when in comes to “Nuclear Dragons”, I do some of my best work in parentheses.


Jim McPherson


Given time the above preamble will also appear on pH-Webworld, though where remains as yet undetermined.

BTW, in the PHANTACEA Mythos ‘cathonitization’ is the term used for Shining Ones who’ve transgressed Sedonic Dictates and ended being placed, in effect imprisoned, within the night’s sky (the Cathonic Zone) above the Hidden Headworld as a thereafter unending consequence.

As per here, a more classicist term would be either ‘catasterize’ or ‘stellify’. I prefer the former as it reminds me of catastrophe, which is certainly what being cathonitized is for devils (bad little gods).

Hence why ‘D’ got Tethys to send an invitation to a selection of stars in the Sedon Sphere. Also why he hired WORLD to, um, divert the Cosmic Express on Sunday, November 30, 1980.

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