Terror Of The Fun Sponge is a story about bullying. I wanted it to show what bullying does to its victims, but I also wanted to go beyond that. Often, bullying is a complex phenomenon such that the distinction between victim and perpetrator is not always clear. I’ve been in situations in my childhood where I was attacked and forced to fight back so I would not get physically hurt (not to mention have my game disrupted, my reputation ruined, and my dignity destroyed) by those younger and/or smaller than myself, only to be seen as the aggressor when I won the fight. In adulthood, I’ve been pushed around by obnoxious coworkers to the point that I had to get after them verbally, only to have it suggested that I was being a bully. In politics, there are numerous issues on which both sides accuse the other of being the true bully. One of the most effective ways to bully someone is to accuse them of the same. I didn’t see anyone else pointing this out. Not only do I think it important to mention so as to start a conversation about what society can do about it, but because it is an unusual viewpoint, I thought it too good as potential fiction entertainment not to use.
This is the point of fiction. Clearly, if people were satisfied with their personal everyday adventures, they wouldn’t need fiction. Fiction allows people to experience things that would not normally have happened to them. Fiction by definition exposes us to the unusual. Some people don’t read fiction, but many do. They want stories with happy endings, which in reality only happens some of the time. They want stories in which the good guys win, which in reality only happens some of the time. They want stories with exceptional danger or adventure, which in reality will happen to very few of us. They want that which is unusual. In this vein, fantasy and science fiction are the highest forms of fiction because they feature events that no one has ever experienced and settings that no one has ever been to. It is this exploration of the possibilities of being that is the entire point of fiction. I purposely include certain concepts in my fiction precisely because I haven’t come across them before.
Because this is the first book in the Nathaniel Series, it introduces the main characters, setting, and explains how their journey across the galaxy began. To do this, I borrowed a few scenes from Nate’s flashbacks in The Spider, The Witch, And The Spaceship. Still, seventy percent of the book is all-new material. Also, for those curious about the hydrant bots mentioned by Nate to his interviewer in The Spider, The Witch, And The Spaceship, I wrote a chapter for them as a bonus.
The book also better explains how it is that Gruezhlings and other beings survive without eating, and it does this with some delicious technobabble better than anything on Star Trek (in my opinion). I tried to get into the biology of the Gruezhling ecology in this one. My hobby is designing alien life forms and many of them will feature in this series. The Gorilla With Twenty-Four Heads (still editing) and Secrets Of The Springs (still writing) are especially heavy with interesting plants and animals. Here is the blurb:
Having escaped the overbearing Mama-And-Daddy entity and his annoyingly girly sister Allison, year-old dromaeosaur and new starship captain Nathaniel suddenly finds himself in the middle of a mysterious mission. As his companions fill in the empty gaps in his memory, he realizes that there are far more sinister forces at play in the universe than just meddlesome adults and alien beasts. His speed, agility, and sharp claws may protect him from other animals, but what can protect him from the terror of the fun sponge?