Fly Twice Backward
Fresh Starts in a World of Troubles
Genre: SciFi, SciFiRomance, Alt History
Print Length: 726 pages
Publication Date: October 14, 2019
Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
You wake back in early adolescence, adult memories intact, including ones that could make you very wealthy now. Your birth family is here, alive again, but your later families are gone, perhaps forever. What has happened, what should you do about coming problems like violence, ignorance, pollution, and global warming? You realize one key connects most, the fundamentalist strains of the major religions disdaining science, equality, and social welfare. You see that there are some things you can change, some you can’t, and one you don’t dare to.
Fellow idealists help you spend your growing fortune well–such as an artistic Zoroastrian prince in the Iranian oil industry, a rising officer in the Soviet army working to find a way to destroy his corrupt government, a Bahai woman struggling against Islamic brutality, a Peruvian leader working for a liberal future, and a snake-handling Christian minister, grappling with doubts, sexuality, and destiny. They are supported by an ally who develops essential psychic powers. The group faces familiar-looking corrupt politicians, religious leaders, and corporate czars, but there is an ancient force in the background, promoting greed, violence, hate, and fear.
This exciting, emotional, thoughtful, humorous, and even romantic sci-fi novel weaves progressivism, music, movies, and literature into a struggle spanning the globe. Vivid characters propel the action back up through an alternative history toward an uncertain destination.
24. Xerxes: Convoy (Shiraz, Iran, Wed., 9/17/52)
After the three-day mourning period for Grandfather, a small crowd gathers in our courtyard around his new green Cadillac as Father hands me the keys. I’m taking it to our villa on the outskirts of Teheran. From there, I’ll report to the recently opened offices of the new Ministry of Petroleum. There’s also a big old black Buick, which will be going along, brought by three brothers who have done various demanding jobs for the family. Mohammed, my favorite, winks slightly at me. Father’s secondary wives are there, too, colorfully dressed, with most of their children. Mother stands apart from them, of course, with her arm tightly around me.
She says, “Son, I know you’re anxious to get started, but you haven’t seen how lawless highways have sometimes become, with less oil money coming in to pay the police.”
“Has it come to that?”
“Well, your father assures me that with Mohammed driving your car and his brothers in theirs, and the full attention of all, you should make it OK.”
Father steps away from the Buick: “Yes, Son, keep your guns handy and don’t stop for anything until you get to cousin Abdollah’s in Isfahan for the night. That’ll end the most dangerous part of the trip.”
“We’ll be careful, Father. What is happening to our country?”
“A lot of people are short on food, with the British blockage of our oil exports, and some are desperate. Others are just opportunistic. We can’t give in to fear, but neither can we give in to foolishness. Please call when you arrive. Abdollah does have a phone, now that he’s moved into town with his families.”
I open the Cadillac passenger door and say: “Those damned British think they own us as slaves, and they intend to teach us not to be rebellious, as dogs needing discipline to do tricks. I hope to God we can prove they’ve misjudged.” I look around at this home, this family that I’m leaving again: with a kiss to each parent, I settle into the comfortable seat by Mohammed.
“Go with God, Xerxes,” say both my parents together.
“And may God be with you, Father, Mother.”
25. Xerxes: Danger (Near Shareza, Iran, Wed., 9/17/52)
Driving under the noon sun, still short of Shareza, visibility is good. There is no traffic as we head north, so we can pick up speed. To the right, the road is skirting a long, high ridge of barren rock and fallen sand, like so much of the land all the way toward the eastern deserts. To the left, at a bit of a distance, a lower ridge has a few isolated patches of green and an occasional shabby house. I’m missing beautiful Shiraz already. And Austin.
The road makes a sharp turn to the right, going around a ridge so we can’t see past the curve. Immediately before it, we see a junky old car pulled off the road, a man working under the hood, and a young family inside. Mohammed is passing them by.
“Oh, Mohammed, we should stop, or they’ll be in danger.”
“And if we stop, we’ll be in danger . . . . OK, we’ll pull just past that curve, and you look back as we round it. Watch to see if he gets in his car as we get to the curve.”
“He did.” Oh, oh! What are we in for?
“Roll down your window and look ahead, holding your gun ready. Be ready to hand me mine.”
“There, ahead of your brothers! A horse and cart are nearly blocking the road.”
“Kian’ll know what to do.”
The Buick swerves, so it is aiming straight at the horse’s front shoulder, speeding toward it. The horse rears in panic, tipping the cart backward. Two short hay-streaked men with old-style long rifles tumble out, struggling to get their balance and turn those rifles toward us. Through a window of our leading car, I see–a rock? No, a grenade, exploding as it falls between the men.
Gunshots smash into our rear window, one going all the way through and into the windshield before me: “Shoot at that car coming up behind us.”
Mohammed slews our car across the road and joins me in firing. Kian screams back in his car, and those brothers join the fusillade. Our bullets must puncture the fuel line of the following car, as flames flare up and grow quickly. The family tumbles out of all the doors and roll away from the car.
Leaving the two bodies, a forlorn family, and a burning car behind, our little convoy roars on.
“Reload!” Mohammed says.
The bodies! And what a waste of my own life, if I’d died here, never seeing Julia again!
About the Author:
David McCracken was born in Louisville, KY, in 1940. Raised mostly in Winchester, KY, he now lives near Winchester, VA, with his third and final wife. He has three children, two stepchildren, and six grandchildren.
After three years in the U.S. Navy following a lackluster academic start, he graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1963, in Diplomacy and International Commerce. He then worked as a Latin American country desk officer in the U.S. Department of Commerce until he returned to school to earn an M.A. in Elementary Education in 1970 from Murray State University, having always been intending to teach. Eventually realizing his children qualified for reduced-price lunches based on his own teaching salary, he studied computer programming at Northern Virginia Community College and worked as a programmer until shifting back into elementary teaching.
He began working on what became Fly Twice Backward in 1983 and finally finished it in 2019! At 79, David strongly doubts he’ll be doing another novel of such scope and complexity, but is preparing to work on a children’s science fiction novel with a progressive bent, being a devout progressive in politics and religion, as well as a lover of learning.