I thought about trying to jump on the Star Wars bandwagon to promote big shutdown 2my sci-fi novel THE BIG SHUTDOWN, but my book is nothing at all like Star Wars. It’s a lot grimmer and more “realistic” if a word like that can be applied to a science fiction story of this type. Sure there are touches of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers in it, but the story as a whole is a lot more serious than the books, comic strips and movies Buck and Flash were in.

THE BIG SHUTDOWN is about a man, ex-Army Ranger, Jack Brand, who’s on a search for his missing sister, a member of the Tulon Security Force Unit that he led. She got captured by a gang of Nomads, a family of scum bags known as the Wilkersons, after Brand inadvertently led his tactical squad into an ambush.

Brand feels responsible for what happened to Terry and to the others in his unit. He has sworn not to leave Tulon until he finds her or finds out what happened to her if she is dead. He’s been searching for her for seven years. Obviously he’s driven by more than a sense of responsibility or even guilt. What would make a man keep looking all those years? It’s not reasonable.

Brand had always thought of himself as a capable man. Competent. But his carelessness had been responsible for the death of the squad members and Terry’s capture. Maybe he just couldn’t handle the sense of failure, the crack in his self image. Maybe he could no longer feel like he was himself.

There’s a scene in the novel where Brand is lost in a desert sand storm and he takes refuge under a rock. Parched with thirst and driven mad by the howling wind he hallucinates that he sees himself and Terry as children riding horses over the sand dunes. He cries out to them but they ride on, disappearing over the crest of one of the dunes. The storm ends and he crawls out from under the rock and starts out after them. After Terry and after himself.

No, it’s nothing like Star Wars.