The same guy also wondered if the retrorockets on the spacecraft would melt the ice as Nathaniel landed on planet T’n’fer’prey. I had neglected to mention that his spaceship relies on antigravity. I barely mentioned the landing at all since there is a lot of taking off and landing in this episode that only serves to keep the story moving and really doesn’t need description. Since I am used to space travel as a given, I describe it about as much as I describe walking and driving. It didn’t occur to me that others would pay so close attention.
These sources of confusion were entirely understandable. Other sources of confusion were less understandable. Multiple people wondered where Captain Nathaniel had room for a couch and food supplies on his “tiny, one-room” ship. The ship’s interior room is a circle about thirty feet across – plenty of space. To me, that is tiny. It is tiny compared to some of the other ships in the universe. You can’t get much smaller and be comfortable. One reader thought that a small ship shouldn’t even have padding. It didn’t fit his science fiction reading experience. This is a problem because many of the ideas I have for spaceships in future episodes are “cozy” – both small and padded. In keeping with the child’s-eye-view style of the series, some of the ships are nothing more than flying beds with protective force fields to keep the air from escaping.
I did get some good advice on naming, but it may be too late. In The Spider, The Witch, And The Spaceship, grown-up Nate describes a race from his childhood from planet Gruezhe. He calls them Gruezhlings. The woman interviewing him tells him that these are fantasized versions of stuffed animals he had as a kid that he remembers as alive because of his diseased mind. Even though they are filled with a substance called “stuff,” it never occurred to me to call them Stuffians from planet Stuffi, which would be a much better name. The Spider, The Witch, And The Spaceship and Terror Of The Fun Sponge are already published. Each uses the word Gruezhling repeatedly. I might still try to work the Stuffian name in as an alternate somehow.
I got some feedback about Haticat’s name, too. Haticat is based loosely on a Cat-In-The-Hat I had as a child (and explored space with). Since I did not want to use Doctor Seuss’s character in my books, I changed the name and turned his hat into a soft shell on the back, making him more turtle-like. Since he is an alien, I thought an unusual name would be no problem. My readers didn’t like it and immediately guessed correctly where the name had come from. Of course, it is way too late to change the name of such an important character in the series.
I was very encouraged when told that my characters talked like they were six. This was exactly the effect I was going for, but I wasn’t sure that I was doing a good job of it. That someone else saw it without my having to explain it was very encouraging. Then this same person told me that no one over twelve would ever want to read anything like this, and the scientific jargon (both real and imaginary) would be over the heads of anyone younger. It was agreed by all that there is no audience for such a series.
I find this hard to believe, since Calvin And Hobbes is read and enjoyed by nostalgic adults and Star Trek The Next Generation is enjoyed by young children (even if they don’t understand all of it). I figure that anyone that enjoys both should also enjoy my work. The group then told me that Star Trek is very visual rather than textual, which makes understanding it easier. That there are also Star Trek books meant nothing to them. Since I have always thought of intellectual curiosity as an integral part of childhood (before peer pressure and the public school system destroys it), it is absolutely indispensible that I include the scientific elements with the “cute” elements. They go together! Besides, it’s educational!
I enjoyed reading White Fang by Jack London because it offered a unique perspective on life through the eyes of a wolf. The Nathaniel Series offers a unique perspective on life (especially of adult behavior) through the eyes of a child. It is the whole point of the series. It isn't for children any more than White Fang is for wolves. To tell me it has no audience isn’t constructive. There is no tweak I can make to save it. I can only stop writing the series entirely and write about something else, like politics. Originally, I was going to start with Nathaniel’s adult life, but I was told that the episode ideas I had were too weird and too complex to be understood by anybody (What about superposition entity events and energy-time viruses don’t people understand?). This is partly why I chose instead to start at the beginning by Nathaniel fighting simple monsters. Sometimes, you just can’t win.
It seems to me that the only fiction worth creating is fiction that introduces something new. If I write like others, it destroys the whole point of writing at all. It’s boring. I do understand that if one is too far outside the mainstream, it will be hard to change minds, but I thought that a series that is basically a cross between Calvin And Hobbes, Star Trek, and every nature documentary ever (Nathaniel explores planets and observes the alien wildlife), should be just the right balance between boring and weird to be successful. Hey, the Beatles were rejected at first, and they turned out okay. Prove me right! Buy one!