Athelstan Cying

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Athelstan Cying
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Imperial Sigil by Tanna Borrell

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Athelstan Cying


I know I will get in trouble with some people for even contemplating a book that contains any mention of psyonics.  The Ghost Chronicles theme is based and propelled in the idea of psyonics.  I wrote about this subject because I grew my reading teeth on Andrea Norton and the Suttons.  I was both intrigued and interested in the topic.  The idea of secular psyonics seems troubling to some people, and I'm not sure why.  In the Ghost Chronicles, I wanted to use psyonics to give a secular basis to multiple spiritual topics.  I do this to promote a spiritual world view.  The first and most important is the eternal state of the spirit and soul.  In Ghost, I try to show this duality of spirit and soul.  Den, loses his soul and the spirit-soul of Fredrik-Keris is trapped in the body of Den Protania.  Den gains the whole of the being and mind of Fredrik-Keris.  The soul of Den is gone, but not his mind.  Throughout the Ghost Chronicles, Den becomes less and less.  Subsumed by the soul and spirit of Fredrik-Keris, while Fredrik-Keris takes on many of the characteristics of the mind of Den Protania.  Hopefully not too many of the negative characteristics.

Second, I wanted to promote the oneness of the being of Nata and Den.  This spiritual oneness is paralleled in their physical life too.  Natana drive this part of their life.  That is the character I gave her.  You can see the reticence of Den and Fredrik-Keris in this part of their lives with Nata.  Nata may be a slightly unusual character for a woman, but I don't think she's that far fetched.  She knows what she wants and she gets it.  Nata drives unintentionally, Den's flashbacks.  She propels his initiative.  She moves his sex life.  She still hangs back about some things--isn't that interesting.

Third, I wanted to show the dangers and the advantages of a possible far future where psyonics was possible.  This is very tightly drawn and very gray in the novels.  The Empire, the Reps, the society on Jouray, the society on Acier, each has problems.  Each is affected by the psy.  The Empire and the Reps are destroyed by it.  Jouray is paralyzed by it.  Acier has potential, but subjugated it out of fear.

Fourth, with Nikita, there is healing in psyonics.  Already we can see how it has helped her and how she used it to help others.  This is assumed in the other novels under Natana, but with Nikita you get to see it full on.           


You might conclude that pure science fiction requires no research--this is an absolutely wrong idea.  Good science fiction requires a basis of the real world with a projection of authentic science overlaying it.  If the world does not match the proper sense of the reader, the story is ruined.  If the science is not convincing and logical, the unique feel of the future is gone--the novelty of the science part of the fiction has been lost.  For me, writing science fiction is like developing a new idea in engineering.  I can see it in my mind, and I try to describe both its effects and its design.  The research is through constant immersion in engineering and in fiction.  This way, the imagined worlds are real and the science comes alive. 

The world of the Dragon and the Fox is a projection based on the idea that genetic manipulation was required for humankind to conquer the worlds they discovered when they traveled into space.  The genetic manipulation was used to create great doctors, technicians, scientists, and leaders.  Eventually the society became moribund and turned into something akin to feudalism--the Human Galactic Empire.  Against this backdrop, the Dragon and the Fox fight for honor while their world and civilization is falling around them.

The technology of the Dragon and the Fox is also a projection.  All of the concepts described are potential technological solutions.  The big idea isn't the technology or the changes to the human species.  The big concept is how little technology and human changes have really affected the fabric of human interaction.  The one specific change that is very evident in the world of the Dragon and the Fox is the differentiation between men and women.  This change in human culture historically reverses itself based on the organization of society and the identification of the differences between men and women.  The world of the Dragon and the Fox highlights this differentiation based on the feudal and genetic leadership base of their society.  I don't advocate these roles or this type of society--the ideas come out of the question that brought about the world of the Dragon and the Fox.       

The Question: 

The End of Honor asks a unique question:  what can be the ramifications of personal relationships when they are ultimately based on political ends? 

The Characters: 

We applaud Prince John-Mark and the Lady Lyral.  We applaud their happiness, love, and pleasant agreement.  However, this agreement results in the death of John-Mark's father, Lyral herself, and provides the tipping point for the entire Human Galactic Empire.  We love the characters.  We see the honor in their actions and lives.  But when we reflect on the harm they have caused, we wonder if honor is enough.  Good intentions and good people are often the cause of much suffering.  That is more akin to the theme.

The Theme: 

The theme of The End of Honor is that responsibility and humility are the greatest human virtues and the basis of true honor.  We see good intentions and seeking honor ultimately cause untold hardship and pain.  The result of John-Mark and Lyral's apparently honorable actions is a universe at war and friends dead.  John-Mark must give up everything to return the Human Galactic Empire to peace and political balance.  In the end, we find honor is the willingness to give up everything for the good of others.   


Would you be willing to give up everything to attain true honor even if that meant your own degradation, pain, and suffering.

Length of Novel:

78,100 words

Keywords and Market Focus:

Science fiction, space, adventure, intrigue, space ships; will appeal to adults and young adults interested in science fiction/adventure

Ghost: Athelstan Cying is a unique novel but the concept is similar to Jack Vance’s To Live Forever or many of Andrea Norton’s mind swap novels.


Science Fiction


In the family trading vessel Twilight Lamb, Den Protania is a failure.  Not just any failure, although his father is the captain, Den was already kicked out of both command and astrogation, and now he isn’t doing too well in shuttle section.  Den has no desire to work to achieve anything, yet he envies everyone who is more successful than he.  He especially resents Natana Kern, the Twilight Lamb’s youngest master astrogator and a journeyman in psyonics.  Natana succeeds in every area Den cannot, and he hates her because of it.  When the Twilight Lamb detects a derelict courier vessel, Athelstan Cying along their flight path, Natana mans pilotage and Den is part of the salvage team.  Both of their lives are about to change forever…      

Aboard the Athelstan Cying, a being has lingered a millennia—long dead, yet aware and extant.  The Athelstan Cying houses the spirit of an Imperial commander, a psyonic master.  When the Twilight Lamb comes within range of the Athelstan Cying, the Cying begins a preprogrammed attack plan.  The spirit can barely stop the attack, and Twilight Lamb’s salvage crew boards her—including Den.  Den, of course, doesn’t follow protocol.  He explores the vessel without waiting for his partner, the shuttle master.  The Athelstan Cying fought in a space battle long ago and one of the cabins was breached.  Although the being tries to warn Den, Den opens the cabin door and is impaled on the structure of the ship.  The spirit attempts to save Den, and when Den’s soul departs the body, it is locked inside.  The being uses its knowledge to stabilize the body and saves it from certain death.  Now, for better or worse, he has become Den Protania.

The new Den Protania is very aware of his precarious position on the Twilight Lamb.  His life depends on the truth of Den’s change remaining a secret.  His problems are aggravated when the ship’s council rightly blames him for the accident, and charges him a debt that will take decades to reduce even for a master.  Still worse, Natana Kern, as a psyionic journeyman, is assigned to help Den’s recovery.

During Den’s first session with Natana, he experiences a flashback to his ancient life that she is drawn into.  She realizes he is not the Den Protania she once knew, but what can she do?  Would anyone believe her?  Can such a thing really be true?  When she was inside his mind, Natana realized the new Den’s power, compassion, and honor.  They mutually call a truce and in exchange for training in psyonics, Natana agrees to help Den redeem his life in the eyes of the Twilight Lamb’s family.

Den and Natana maintain an uncomfortable peace as he integrates into the ship’s family, works to reduce his enormous debt, and tries to determine who from the past he really was.  Whatever the future brings the world for Den and Natana has radically changed. 

Author's reviewer’s quotes:

“Incredible premise.  Never read anything like it.  Interaction of characters is complex and refreshing.”

“A novel unlike anything I’ve ever read.  Like a good cup of coffee full bodied and tasty with a touch of bitterness and earthiness.”

“The theme is pervasive and driving.  It is a psychological novel in the guise of science fiction.  Natana and Den build success out of nothingness.”

Short descriptive teasers:

Ghost: Athelstan Cying is a science fiction/adventure novel that describes the travails of Den Protania a failure in life who becomes successful in death.

The novel is a psychological thriller that describes the transition of an ancient spirit into the body and mind of a failed space trader.    

Master astrogator Natana Kern helps an ancient spirit who becomes trapped in the body of Den Protania, crewman of the family trader ship, Twilight Lamb and the Captain’s son.

Further Information:

Ghost: Athelstan Cying is the first of the Ghost trilogy. 

The Ghost trilogy is a follow-on from the distant future of the universe introduced in the Chronicles of the Dragon and the Fox.




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  Novels by this Author
       The Second Mission (Available now)
       Centurion   (Available now published by OakTara)
       Aegypt            (Available now published by OakTara)


The Dragon and the Fox


                     (Available now published by OakTara)



      The End of Honor           The Fox’s Honor               A Season of Honor 




  L.D. Alford is the author of 41 technical papers published in international journals on flight test, military policy, flight safety, space, and cyberwar.  Technical Writing
  L.D. Alford has been a professional aviator for 29 years.  Aviation Writing

L.D. Alford Aviation Writing Technical Writing Unpublished Novels Writing Links Engineer


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