BY: S B REDSTONE
Lance Forrester is a dreamer. After a celebrated career as an astronaut and engineer, he and a friend build a secret spacecraft to seek their destinies in the stars. But his friend dies and Lance is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Desperate not to succumb to his fate, he convinces an acquaintance, ailing actress Sage Saint Claire, whom he hasn’t seen since high school, to join him on his quest to reach an advanced alien civilization which can heal them both. Unfortunately, true life is not a Hollywood movie, as much as Sage might want it to be, and problems abound. Mistakes in the past have turned Sage into a bitter old woman, and she turns out to be a less-than-perfect traveling companion which no amount of optimism, youth, or good health can cure. Can these two intrepid octogenarians-turned-immortals overcome the emotional scars of their pasts and achieve true happiness, or are they doomed to suffer for their mistakes, no matter how far from Earth they go?
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In Stardust Dreams by S. B. Redstone, Lance Forrester is a geriatric astronaut who has terminal cancer. So, like any intrepid scientist, he builds a space ship to take him to distant galaxies where, he hopes, an advanced alien civilization will find him, unfreeze him, and heal his body. He takes with him an old flame from high school who is also dying of a terminal illness, Sage, and together they set off to explore the stars. Things don’t work out with Sage as Lance hopes they will, but there are plenty of fish in the alien sea.
It’s an interesting book, a mix of science fiction, fantasy, and romance, with fascinating new worlds, interesting characters, and marvels of technology. If you are a Star Trek fan, this should be right up your alley.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: Stardust Dreams by S. B. Redstone is both a science fiction thriller and a sweet romance. It revolves around the concept that there are other planets with intelligent life in our universe and they have advanced technology. Our hero Lance is in his eighties and dying from terminal cancer. Being a former astronaut and scientist, Lance and a friend build a spaceship with revolutionary new engines that do…something…to light and matter to create the power to fly the spaceship. Science was never my forte so I didn’t quite get that part, but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story. Anyway, when Lance’s friend dies, and he has to find another co-pilot to go with him, he selects an old high-school friend, whom he had a crush on once upon a time. Big mistake. Sage is an ailing actress whom life has made bitter and cynical. Not the best of traveling companions.
Stardust Dreams has some interesting concepts—such as what the future holds for a world ruled by organized crime—along with fast-paced action, heart-warming romance, and plenty of surprises in the plot. If you enjoy science fiction, romance, either one, or both, you should get a kick out of Stardust Dreams. It’s quite a change a genre from Redstone’s previous book, A Sinister Obsession, a paranormal crime thriller.
A Miracle for Grandpa
While I was exploring the devastated Brazilian rainforests, a message arrived from President Barbara Marigold. She was requesting my presence at Leadership Hall at noon tomorrow. Holding her secret tightly to her chest, she intimated a wonderful surprise awaited me.
Now–for the rest of the day and the following morning, my mounting curiosity would become a really annoying distraction.
At noon, my transport landed in the front of Leadership Hall. Stepping onto the lawn, I noticed a group of people, looking like star-struck fans, giving me their full attention.
President Marigold approached and took my arm. There was a mysterious grin on her face. “Lance, what have you discovered during your planetary exploration?”
“Seeing the deforestation of the rain forests saddened me. But new life is emerging from the forest floor. I believe there is hope for a renewal.”
“That is good news,” she replied as we walked toward the people. “I believe this occasion will brighten your spirits.”
I expected that I was about to receive another testimonial for helping my fellow humans achieve their freedom from tyranny, but it was not necessary. Being the catalyst for world change gave me sufficient personal satisfaction.
I intended to be gracious and appreciative, then fly off to the Asian continent to explore a territory once known as China.
Standing in front of the group, President Marigold looked at me with sentimental tears welling up in her eyes. “Lance Forrester. This is your family.”
Her startling words hit me like a sucker punch. “My family?”
“They are your children, Lance. They’ve come to meet their great, great, grandfather.”
With shock and joy rushing into my heart, I looked at each of them. Beautiful faces. Young and old. Men and women. “My children!” There had never been a bigger lump of happiness in my throat.
A handsome little, blond toddler came up to me with a long sheet of paper. “Hello, Grandpa. This is for you.” He handed it to me. It was a list of all their names and addresses for me to come and visit them. Tears of joy streamed down my cheeks.
My family converged on me.
After hugs and kisses, my family sat in front of the podium, eager to hear my story of how their great, great, great grandfather, born nearly two hundred thousand years earlier, and looking no older than twenty-seven, had come to be standing before them.
“How did you succeed in doing this for me?” I asked President Marigold.
“While Dr. Balsorini and his medical teams were vaccinating the people against the epidemic and other debilitating medical conditions, they took DNA samples. Their DNA matches yours.”
For several minutes speaking was impossible. Taking deep breaths to gain my composure didn’t help much. “Being amongst you, and feeling your love, is a dream come true for me,” I said at last. “After I awoke from my long frozen sleep, thousands of light years away from home, on a planet of beautiful and caring inhabitants, I hoped that my species had not gone extinct back on Earth. I’ll admit to having doubts, but looking out at your lovely faces, I now see that my children’s children had the courage, perseverance, and adaptability to survive the perils of Mother Nature as well as the perils of human nature, and no grandfather could be more proud of them, and you as well.”
Of all the surreal and magical situations I had been confronted with since my birth, and rebirth, none had been more heartfelt. “As you’ve asked, it would be an honor to tell you about your family heritage, especially Constance Ann Hargrove your grandmother,” I continued. “Had circumstances been different in our lives, and had she been able to join me on my grand adventure into the galaxy two hundred thousand years ago, she would have been standing next to me now, feeling just as proud of the results of our union. But she died of a terminal disease long before my departure from Earth.”
I paused to gather my thoughts. “We met at an Air Force Academy dance in my senior year. She was a tall, very pretty brunette who preferred to take charge of life’s circumstances rather than let life control her. On her initiative, we danced most dances together. At the end of the evening, I considered asking for her telephone number, but she was a colonel’s daughter, and I didn’t need the trouble. But Connie wasn’t letting me disappear from her life. She handed me a piece of paper with her number on it, then gave me a soft kiss on the cheek. ‘Text me later,’ the paper said. It was not a request. It was a command. Connie’s father, Colonel Judd Hargrove, had a stern, by-the-book reputation at the academy. After four or five dates, she had me meet her parents.
“While I waited in the den for her to finish primping herself upstairs, the colonel and his wife, Deloris, sat stiffly opposite me with humorless expressions. The colonel conducted the interrogation of my character and future career plans as if I was on a job interview. I got the impression that he was hoping to find a flaw, so he could toss me out of the house on my ass. As was the custom in my time period, we fell in love and were married in the church. As an Air force jet pilot, I flew combat missions for my country to preserve freedom around the world, while Connie attained a law degree, specializing in child advocacy. In our early thirties, I became an astronaut and she a devoted mother of our two wonderful children, John and Megan.
“As you’ve asked as well, I’ll tell you about my voyage into the galaxy and my miraculous awakening on a distant alien world. Before the onset of the great apocalypses on this planet, when human intelligence developed extraordinary scientific technology that dramatically changed the course of human history, I had a dream. My dream was to seek my destiny in the mysterious galaxy rather than just accept the inevitability of death.
“In my youth, I was an avid reader of science fiction novels that convinced me that there were intelligent beings on distant worlds, looking up into their mysterious night sky as I often did–believing as I did–that intelligent beings from distant worlds were also looking back at them. For that reason, I achieved high grades in school so that I could become an astronaut. Dedication and perseverance qualified me to pilot the first spacecraft to Mars, a cherished accomplishment.
“But to achieve my most precious dream of reaching a distant alien civilization, I’d need to design a rocket engine that could propel a spacecraft at great speed. To that end, I attained advanced degrees in physics and jet propulsion systems, which gave me the foundation to stretch my creativity. Then with the help of good friends, years of experimentation, and luck, my goal was achieved. At an appointed time in my life, I piloted my spacecraft toward the stars and my destiny in the galaxy. And as you now see, I was one very fortunate grandpa.”
I paused, taking a moment to collect my thoughts. “Before I begin my remarkable story, I want you to remember what Grandpa tells you today. Sometimes, if you wish hard enough–and work hard enough at achieving that wish–stardust dreams just might come true for you as well…”
My arrival at two in the afternoon at the Los Angeles International Airport was on time, and. after renting an SUV, I headed north on California’s 405 Freeway.
“Darn traffic,” I shouted out the window.
Although the traffic jams in Los Angeles were no surprise to me–having worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena–worry and frustration surged in me. Today it was imperative that I arrive at the Golden Age Care Center in West Hollywood during visiting hours. It was my mission to persuade Sage Saint Charles, a woman I hardly knew from my hometown seventy years earlier, to join me on a fanciful adventure into the magnificent galaxy.
More than an hour late, my nerves frazzled, I turned into the parking area of the nursing home on Sunset Boulevard and parked. After I let out a big sigh of relief, I pulled down the visor and looked into the mirror at my eighty-eight-year-old face, a face ravaged by cell decay and terminal cancer. A half century earlier, there had been a handsome man staring back at me with bright blue eyes, dirty blond hair, a square jaw, and a mischievous smile. He was sorely missed.
After combing the few remaining hairs on my head with my trembling fingers, I cautiously stepped out of my vehicle, holding onto the door for stability. Falling to the ground now and breaking my brittle hip would be a devastating catastrophe. Instead of meeting with Sage, I’d end up in a hospital, succumbing to my cancer, while back at the ranch, my friend and assistant Farley Bell would be dismantling my spaceship into scrap.
The sky darkened with rain clouds. Hopefully, it wasn’t an omen prognosticating a failed mission. I grabbed the bouquet of flowers I’d purchased at the airport and my leather shoulder bag and walked toward the front entrance of this uninspiring three-story building. Obviously, the owners of these types of businesses had no reason for attractive architecture. They knew family and friends would be too consumed with grief to care where their loved ones would be spending their final days of life.
The lobby was more repulsive than the building’s exterior. The dingy green walls had a few drab prints of nature scenes that the owner probably purchased at a flea market for a dollar or two. One breath, and my nostrils inhaled a noxious floral deodorizer that I believed was a pitiful attempt by the staff to cover up the mournful scent of death.
The facility elicited an ancient memory. Sometime in my late sixties, my best recollection, I had dated a social worker for a short period of time. During our discussions, she lectured me on my need of long-term-care insurance. After listening to her doomsday scenario of medical problems for us seniors, I told her with equal insistence that I’d never end up in one of these hellish places where well-meaning doctors and nurses tended to your incapacitated body, while your mind languished in the lifeless environment. Then I made an error in judgment. I told her about my plans of traveling into the galaxy with the hope of finding an advanced alien civilization that would extend my life. Instead of stimulating her imagination, she thought I had mocked her. That’s when her maternal condemnation left her know-it-all lips, and she scolded me–saying I was behaving like an immature adolescent who would end up becoming a burden to my children. We both happily disengaged from our brief and caustic relationship.
As I approached the receptionist behind a small window, my mounting worries were hidden behind a rigid smile. For this mission to be a success, Sage needed to be alive. I needed to see her, which would take some craftiness, as I wouldn’t be on her visitor’s list. She would have to be alone in her room–and she’d have to remember me, or at least be familiar with my astronaut career. Taking a bold approach, I said, “I’m here to see Sage Saint Charles. What room is she in?”
The receptionist stopped reading her celebrity magazine and searched the data bank on the computer.
“And you are?”
Good news! Sage was alive and capable of having visitors. Now for the difficult part of my mission. “Lance Forrester. An old friend. But you won’t find me on her visitor’s list.”
Hopefully, the receptionist had no knowledge that Sage had been a celebrity in her day and she wouldn’t be obsessed with policy.
“You’re right,” she agreed. “You can’t go up without her permission.”
“Aaah–that would be a problem,” I replied with a doleful expression. “You see, we haven’t seen each in ages and that’s why I’m not listed. But I assure you she’ll be very happy to see me.”
“You can’t go up without her permission,” she said with an icy forcefulness. “We can’t have strangers lurking about the premises.”
My big lie was prepared. “I know I’m asking a big favor, but to be honest, we were lovers in Hollywood in our youth. It was a storybook romance.” On cue, I donned my sorrowful puppy dog expression, hoping to gain sympathy. “She will be grateful.” I put my hand on my heart as if taking an oath. “I swear.”
To my misfortune, her inflexible decision wasn’t changing. She turned her attention back to her magazine, expecting I’d go away like an annoying bug.
Time for my contingency plan. I took hold of three hundred dollars from my jacket pocket to bribe her. But either luck or divine intervention was directing my future–her cell phone sang. Giving me no further thought, she turned away to take the call. Just at that moment, a young couple came up behind me, carrying a big bouquet of flowers. With opportunity at hand, I backed away, letting the flowers block the receptionist’s view of me. Behind me were the elevators. I stepped in and quickly pushed the button for the top floor. It was a guess Sage’s room would be in a far corner of the facility for privacy.
© 2015 by S. B. Redstone