The following sample chapters from Richard M. Mulder’s award-winning novel Conquest: Rise of the Fifth Horseman are infused with elements of Science Fantasy (SciFan). Please stay tuned after the samples, and I will offer a critique of the Science Fantasy elements that were displayed in these excerpts:
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void. And the Leviathan was upon the face of the deep: the darkness that doth corrupt all life and desireth to obliterate all light…
– Methuselah 3:1 –
The voices in his mind were barely a whisper now, but they were always present. It had taken him hundreds of years to subdue them, and he feared that his true intentions would soon be discovered. Though Timur Demyan had long ago yielded up his soul unto the Leviathan, he still followed his own agenda while he fulfilled the will of his Master.
Timur hid in the shadows of the park, slipping through the darkness from one shadow to the next. His prey walked quickly with eyes darting to each side like a bird weary of predators. A frantic look of desperation was plastered over the other man’s unshaven face as he flipped open his cell phone.
“Come on…” he heard Jason Bridger murmur to the phone as he approached the fountain, “Answer already!”
“Allan, this is Jason. I know we haven’t spoken in a long time, but I need your help. I’ve stumbled across some disturbing information that involves one of your firm’s clients. I need to speak with you in private immediately. As soon as you get this, meet me on the east side of Buckingham Fountain. There’s little time.”
The instant Jason ended the call, Timur stepped out of the shadows, “Indeed, you have very little time.”
Jason spun around with his concealed pistol cocked and ready, “Back off, old man!”
“Ah,” Timur limped forward with his cane in his crippled right hand while he brandished a handgun with his left, “Not until you return what belongs to me.”
“I’m not letting you get away with this.” Jason shook his head adamantly.
“This scene is all too familiar.” Timur chuckled as he cocked his handgun and aimed, “This is exactly how your colleague died.”
Without a second’s hesitation, Jason pulled the trigger. Timur fell backwards with the sudden impact that hit him in the face. Seconds later a strange greenish glow surrounded his body, and then he disappeared. Jason’s eyes grew wide, and then a bullet ripped through his abdomen. And then another through his chest. Clutching the wounds, he absently dropped his pistol as he fell to his knees.
Timur reappeared from another shadow and the strange glow around his body began to dissipate. He approached with a silencer affixed to the tip of his handgun and picked up the thumb drive that had fallen out of Jason’s hand.
“As I said earlier, you indeed have very little time.” Timur sneered as he placed the tip of his handgun against Jason’s forehead, “And I might add, your friend Allan has very little time as well.”
As you can see from this introductory chapter, a man in a contemporary setting is being stalked by another man named Timur who has an unearthly ability to slip between shadows to remain unseen, and an ungodly power to heal from deadly wounds. Let’s delve a little deeper with Chapter Six, and then I’ll elaborate further.
When the Leviathan discovered divinity within man, it became desirous to subdue them: for no creature had ever been endowed with such power or glory. But God blessed the earth insomuch that the Leviathan was unable to penetrate the firmament…
– Methuselah 5:8 –
Allan pulled up to the guard tower in front of the parking terrace in his obsidian Ferrari F430 Spider. As the gate lifted, Allan revved his engine a few times. The guard delightfully held this thumbs up in approval as Allan screeched past.
Allan smirked to himself as he circled up the ramp to the upper levels of the structure. After climbing out of his car, he ran his hand along the sleek contours and curves in admiration. She was his pride and joy, and his greatest fear was that he might miss a payment and risk her repossession.
Though it had taken several years to develop, today Allan would finally nail down his biggest securities contract with Mr. Demyan. The residual income to follow would get him back on track and he could give Lily the kind of life she deserved, assuming of course she accepted his pending proposal. With all the massive debts he owed, he needed this contract desperately to get him out of this rut.
It’s not like I’m lying to her. There are just some things she’s better off not knowing.
As he parked, his thoughts returned to Jason’s troubling message.
So he’s stumbled across some disturbing information that involves one of my firm’s clients? What would be so disturbing that he would need to immediately speak with me in private after years of silence?
Curiosity getting the better of him, he made his way to the elevator. Buckingham Fountain was only a few blocks away. As he crossed the street and entered Grant Park, he could see the first rays of sun beginning to reach into the sky. The lights of the city still glowed brightly behind him as he approached the lit-up fountain.
The park was eerily silent. Not even the snore of a vagabond disturbed the early morning air. Despite the silence however, he couldn’t help but sense that he was being watched.
Cut it out. You’re being paranoid.
He continued through to the center of the park, briefcase in hand. Just past the bushes to his right, he thought he saw movement. Stopping in his tracks, he stared into the dark.
“Hello?” he spoke warily, “Is that you, Jason?”
Shaking it off, he continued with a brisker step toward the fountain. The visions of the previous night were coming back to haunt him. Every night this past week he had felt trapped as he struggled to escape from similar nightmares.
He made it to the fountain without incident, and circled around the grand structure. The center spring shot high into the air and sprayed upon the cascading turrets. Light fell on the carved statues of fish and jumping seahorses that stood out from the water. Not too far ahead of him, he could identify the silhouette of a man sitting on a bench closer to the lake.
Allan approached cautiously, “Jason?”
The man stood, “I’m afraid Jason won’t be joining us today.”
Allan immediately recognized the cane and slight limp in the man’s step.
“Mister Demyan?” Allan stammered in confusion, “I thought we were meeting in a few hours?”
“I’m afraid we’ll have to postpone that.” Timur spoke as he cocked his handgun.
Allan threw up his hands in shock and staggered backwards, “Wha…”
“What else did Jason tell you?”
“He didn’t… didn’t tell me… didn’t tell me anything.” Allan stammered.
“I don’t like people who lie to me.”
“All he said… he said that one of my clients…” the realization dawned on him, “You?”
“That’s what I was afraid of.” Timur sighed heavily as he aimed his handgun, “It’s a shame I have to kill you now.”
But it was too late. Allan heard the hiss from the silencer and his body was thrown backward with the piercing bullet. Allan sucked in a rasping, painful breath as his hands instinctively covered the gaping hole in his chest. As he lay there on the pavement, he became aware of a silver aura of light surrounding him.
Still conscious, Allan looked up in horror at the sickly green light emanating from Timur’s horrendous eyes. The pain was excruciating, and his breathing slowed with each raspy gasp. From the tip of the pistol Allan saw a spark as another bullet fired from the weapon. He closed his eyes in terror. He heard several more bullets pop off, and yet Allan didn’t feel them pierce his body.
“Impossible!” Timur shrieked as he shot off the remaining rounds until he heard the audible click of unsuccessful attempts.
Allan knew he must be dead when he opened his eyes. Multiple spinning bullets hovered in the air just inches away from his face. When Allan registered the look of confusion on Timur’s face, the bullets clacked to the ground as the silver aura of light surrounding him dissipated and the pain in his chest began to recede.
Timur tossed the gun aside in frustration. He raised one arm in the sky toward the rising sun and aimed the other at Allan. The green glow of his eyes burned brighter, and with a flash, a beam of white light burst from his extended fist. Allan shrieked in pain with the searing of his flesh.
As the smoldering heat washed over him, Allan felt a different kind of warmth emanating from his core. An aura of silver light ballooned around him, shielding him from the inferno blasting from Timur’s fist. The excruciating pain subsided and he stopped screaming. Timur however began to shriek in rage.
The blinding light stopped flowing from Timur’s fist, and he instead raised both hands high in the air. Shadows all around them began to stretch and grow ominously. Several tentacles reached out from a shadow behind the bushes to Allan’s left. The shadows had taken tangible form, and the dark tentacles grabbed Allan by his ankles.
Allan screamed in terror as he kicked uselessly against his attacker and the tentacles dragged him into the heart of the shadow. His stomach dropped as he felt himself falling into a thick darkness. He tried to scream, but he couldn’t find his voice.
He landed violently on a thick floor of concrete. He shook his head, feeling disoriented in the large dimly-lit chamber that was fitted with a mass array of plumbing. Wandering around the chamber were about twenty cloaked men.
They turned their attention to Allan’s crash landing, and then they all made a humble bow when Timur appeared from seemingly out of nowhere.
“Rise!” he shouted and pointed at Allan, “We have a problem.”
“Who is this, your holiness?” one of the cloaked men spoke up.
“An abomination.” he seethed in fury, “Take him to a cell.”
Rough hands seized him from all sides. Allan uselessly struggled against the overpowering force as he was dragged deeper into the chamber. He tried to scream for help, but his voice was cut off by a massive hand. He thrashed about, and bit as hard as he could.
He felt a loud crack hit the back of his head, and a searing pain followed. That was the last thing he remembered before he was knocked out cold.
In the above sample chapters, the characters are in a contemporary setting using modern technologies: cell phones, thumb drives, cars, guns… but then the author introduces magical elements of shadow walking, powers of self-healing, solar-channeled fireballs, and magical protective shields to name a few of the fantastical elements incorporated into his story.
Science Fantasy is a type of Science Fiction that is mixed with magical or supernatural elements. It can also be a type of Science Fiction that uses alternate or imaginary science and technology that is simply impossible given all known scientific laws, theories, and constraints.
This is not a comprehensive list of all the SciFan elements that are incorporated into Richard M. Mulder’s story. You’ll have to go pick up a copy of his Award-Winning novel on Amazon to discover all of them! An Amazon Customer Review by reader Guillaume Boisset describes these elements in a very unique way:
What is SciFan? Find out here. Do you have a SciFan story to share with the world? Can you think of existing stories that should be properly classified as SciFan? Let’s revolutionize the publishing industry and clamor for the debut of the SciFan genre taking the stage! Come join our SciFan Society to learn how you can participate in this growing movement!