Blue Horizon: The Captain’s Journal, Book 2, by Ted R. Blasingame – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Blue Horizon: The Captain’s Journal, Book 2, by Ted R. Blasingame (with Eileen Blasingame and Steve Carter). Revised edition.
Raleigh, NC,, March 2015, trade paperback $16.99 (346 pages).

product_thumbnailBlue Horizon, Book 2 follows smoothly after Book 1, reviewed here in March. If you liked Book 1, what are you waiting for to get Book 2? If you haven’t read Book 1 yet, you should start there to introduce yourself to Captain Merlin Sinclair (wolf) and the anthro crew of the interstellar freighter SS Blue Horizon, and the human and Furred worlds of the galactic Planetary Alignment.

Ted Blasingame, his wife Eileen, and Steve Carter originally wrote 31 adventures of the Blue Horizon on their early website during 1996 to 2003. They were published in separate Books, then combined in one volume in December 2003 that was HUGE – I literally could barely lift it. Blasingame and the others continued to write new online adventures until 2009, when they closed their website and went on to new projects. Now Blasingame is revising and polishing the out-of-print stories, adding the newer ones to them for a total of 45, and dividing them into four more easily-held Books with new covers by Elizabeth Jackson. Books 1 and now 2 have been published so far.

Book 2 contains Episodes 12 through 22. Although they are presented as separate stories, they flow smoothly into one another like the chapters of a novel. It is assumed that the reader is familiar with the characters and events covered in the first eleven episodes. These second eleven episodes are no longer all presented in the format of an opening excerpt from Captain Sinclair’s journal, with a flashback to the full adventure.

Book 2 begins six weeks after the crash of the Blue Horizon on the planet Crescentis following the pirate attack by Sagan (black jaguar) and his Basilisk. The Tanthean government on Crescentis is sympathetic and helpful, but the Blue Horizon is still destroyed, leaving most of its crew of eight in hospitals, despondent and uncertain as to what will happen to them. Episode 12 is “Life’s a Beach”, a pleasant seaside interlude showing that Merlin, Samantha Holden (supply officer; border collie), Renny Thornton (navigator; cheetah), Jasper and Jerad (Patch and Pockets) Porter (engineers; raccoon brothers), Leo Durant (accountant; grizzly bear), and most of the others are slowly recovering. In Episode 13, “Up From the Ashes”, the crew is almost forced to reluctantly separate to find new jobs before the insurance on the Blue Horizon, the rewards on Sagan, and a private benefactor come through, enabling Merlin to keep on most of the crew and to replace his ship with an even bigger and better Blue Horizon. The episode is upbeat, although since the crew is presented as a happy family, the few losses are felt.

There are some staff changes and new hires. Episodes 14, “The Easter Bunny”, 15, “All the Luck”, and 16, “Lost Behind the Wall” (by Steve Carter) are all brief interludes ranging from humorous to a ghost story. “The Easter Bunny” focuses upon Lori Easter, the Blue Horizon’s hyper-enthusiastic cottontail rabbit new cook, leaving the crew curious as to whether she can really be as ditsy, new-agey, and sensual as she first appears.

With 17, “Hidalgo Sun, the narrative returns to the adventures of the space freighter hauling cargo around the Planetary Alignment. The Blue Horizon rescues another freighter with a mixed human-Fur crew. The two crews get along better than they expect, and by the story’s end, the Blue Horizon has an unofficial sister ship. In 18, “Respect the Wind” (by Ted & Eileen Blasingame), the Blue Horizon makes a delivery to a small city in the middle of North America on Earth. The crew is relaxing in town when a massive tornado hits. The Blasingames are from Oklahoma, and know how to realistically describe the buildup, the terror, and the aftermath of a major tornado. This is the most powerful story in the book.

Episode 19, “The Mystery of Walkabout”, takes the BH to Argeia, a world that has just joined the Planetary Alignment. The PA has been formed by Earth and its former human and Fur colonies, and Argeia is the first truly alien species and civilization to join it. This is a new route for the BH, and the crew do not know what to expect. On their way there they find a lifeless derelict spaceship, the Walkabout. What killed the Walkabout’s passengers and crew, and is it still a menace? This episode is developed like a classic horror story.

The last three episodes, “The Assassin”, “Cold Fire”, and “The Deaths of Gods”, are all by Steve Carter and fit together as a 105-page story; “The Heir Apparent”, parts 1-3. There is a distinct difference between Blasingame’s and Carter’s writing styles. An unsuspected, unknown menace plans to use terrorism and political subterfuge to destabilize and bring war to the entire Planetary Alignment. Argeia and its little-known Kastani semi-felinoid species may be their dupes – if they are not its instigators. An equally shadowy force tries to foil the menace. And the unsuspecting Blue Horizon is a key part of both force’s plans. It all builds to a slam-bang, emotionally exhausting climax of Doc-Smithian proportions. A major character dies. The reader will be glad that there’ll be a wait until Book 3 is ready, to have time to relax after this one.

Although the crew of the Blue Horizon are all Furs, there are humans in the Planetary Alignment. Humans and Furs generally get along, but they sometimes have an uneasy relationship:

“It was Merlin’s turn to lean on the desk with his elbows. His expression softened toward the man. ‘You amaze me, Mr. Littlefeather. I admit that I have never felt comfortable around humans,’ he admitted. ‘You are the first I’ve talked to who did not want something from me, and my dealings with your people have usually gone badly.’

Mark nodded in understanding. ‘I’m not surprised,’ he said. ‘Even though Earth created the Furs and later formed the Planetary Alignment with its lost colonies, there are still a lot of xenophobes around. In spite of the fact that Furs have been around for three centuries and are genetically related, a lot of humans still don’t see Furs as being on the same sentient level as they are. In my family, however, we were raised to respect all people, no matter which race, species or planet they happen to be from originally. This is how I believe.’” (p. 150)

On the whole, it’s little different from the real reactions between the various human races. It’s nice to see a general absence of the stereotypical humans-superior, furries-inferior attitude, while acknowledging that the problem does still exist.

– Fred Patten