When I first conceived of the Philander Smith series, I was concerned that it would sound like another space opera or a ‘cowboys in space’ story which has been done many times both well and poorly. So the question is how to set this apart from what has already been done. It would have to have a unique vision with original characterization and intriguing new plot but retain some familiar elements. The need for mass appeal dictates some familiarity in genres, which is not to be taken as a bad thing. Still, this is a novel and to honor the sense of literature alone requires a novel approach.

So I came upon the idea that if history is doomed to repeat itself because of man’s inherent folly and the fact that youth sees everything as new thereby refusing to learn from their predecessors. What if Man’s exploration of space becomes a clash of nations? And what if this clash in the future resembles a historic period in earth’s history?

We are defined by our history — whether we know it or not.

That outer space holds the same sense of awe, adventure, terror of the unknown, and the compelling desire for exploration that new continents and the oceans did until not very long ago cannot be denied. There are even the same dangers; — getting lost, vehicles malfunctioning, lack of sustenance; the possibility of hostile natives, are all very much real. As man progresses further from the settled comfort zone, their equipment will become less efficient or utterly useless. Yet they kept going. You can live easily and in climate controlled comfort at your home world or be scratching the dirt and worried about getting scalped in the new world. This dichotomy is inherent to the Philander Smith story and the story of mankind.

The future will not be clean or pretty either. Look round yourself today. If you are lucky enough to get a tour of Cape Canaveral and NASA you would see futuristic structures alongside mid-century architecture. The place is equipped with the latest technology yet the tour guides will tell you to watch out for alligators. It is this juxtaposition of the elements that I find interesting. As far as we progress the raw elements of nature are still there.

In these new worlds you would naturally have intrepid explorers, professional soldiers, adventurers and opportunists. They would be faced with few laws and a natural shortage of amenities. The opportunity of fortune or to leave your past behind would attract the sort of person that would create interesting situations to write about. The hardships in these new, unsettled worlds would be similar to the settling of the American West or India or Africa—wherever the white man came with his sense of superiority to those indigenous peoples and animals. This lure of adventure and possibility of personal gain always attracts a certain type of men. In the not-so recent past of the 20th century it was pilots—romanticized for their hard-drinking, hot-shot, fly-by-the-seat of their pants reputation toward personal risk. I don’t see that changing with the opening of a new frontier.

And what if, as Man explored further in space, he came upon another culture already established and reticent to have an upstart claiming their territories? That would be natural clash with both sides assuming they are in the right. This brings me the struggle between England and France during the Napoleonic wars. Of course it culminated at the battle of Waterloo, but the entire war encompassed 15 years of massive ship battles, land wars amongst several nations on several continents and islands, great triumph and utter tragedy. In addition to naval battles and blockades, there was spying, smuggling, cavalry charges, and a cat-and-mouse game of diplomacy in which both people and nations were used as pawns. The war was fought using the latest technology of the time period right down to hand-to-hand combat.

Philander Smith is not supposed to represent Wellington or Nelson (and of course not Napoleon). Smith is merely a man who happens to be driven by his own principals, which, as is shown, can be very flexible at times. He is a man of action, believes in his own cause, has a strong disregard for authority, and wishes to enrich himself. Smith, as he is designed is your typical American hero in many ways. Disputes can be settled with a gun. This Hero has evolved from the cowboy to the private detective to the man on this new kind of frontier. It is what Smith does with the situations he finds himself in and how he reacts to his personal relationships that make him a more complete character. He is a singular character which is the reason for the ‘old fashion’ sidearm (and gunpowder works everywhere) the leather jacket; a nod to everything from the Leatherstocking mythos of the early American frontier to bikers and aviators, and the sword, merely because I like them (and if you are going ‘off world’ you may not be able to carry enough bullets for the entire trip). The style of clothes and scene settings are all meant to be evocative. A savvy reader will also pick up on the early Aviation themes. Because, after all, its space and they are flying ships.

He pilots his own ship, even though he finds himself in service of the military from time to time. Still, he would rather be left alone — to come and go as he wishes following his own agenda. Smith doesn’t want to get involved in other people’s problems, yet the very nature of his work and where he does it, ensures he will be involved in everyone’s problems. Philander is part frontiersman, part fighting captain, part rake. He represents the good (largely), and the bad in all of us. Even the name Philander comes from the ancient Greek meaning “lover of mankind”.

Smith’s romantic entanglements whether purely physical or of a deeper nature reflect this same sense. Sex drives all of us, doing it, how to get it, and with whom, let’s not sugar coat it. In case you are wondering there is a lot of sex in the book. Enough that I truly hope I offend somebody. Nevertheless this is an inherent trait in what makes us humans tick.

Smith finds himself, as a cargo captain with a master’s license who owns an armed vessel, is in a unique position as the nations of earth clash with this great alien Empire. The dispute, of course, is the line of where each culture’s frontier ends and begins and which planetoid or shipping route will prove the most valuable. And how to exploit this dispute is paramount in many of the character’s motivations.

The anachronisms in the series are deliberate. The characters, weapons and settings, both futuristic and historical are suppose to enforce the theme that we are fallible and doomed to repeat our mistakes without evening realizing it.

The clash of superpowers is forgone conclusion because of the mere nature of human kind. With a very mobile and independent-minded culture driven by it’s lust of territory and a desire to spread empire there would ALSO be the simultaneous arrival of colonists, explorers and ne’er do wells upon these growing frontiers of unknown lands rich in natural resources yet fraught with peril from nature, enemy troops, outlaws and the wilderness itself.
This was the situation from the 1740s through the 1860s. England and France fought several wars in multiple theaters — a couple of which should be considered World Wars if someone had thought to name them as such. That period was the height of technological advancement and warfare in civilized Europe, yet the frontiers of America, Asia and Africa were completely unexplored and misunderstood by those who came there to exploit what they could. It is not hard to accept that given new lands and opportunities this will again be the case.

I use the situations from the Napoleonic wars as plot points and the symbolism of the mastery of the earth’s oceans with wooden battleships and simply set it in the future with space ships — using nautical terms for any off-world action. It is a natural presumption to assume any space war would be fought with ‘ships of the line’, battleship ships, destroyers, cargo vessels, clipper ships capable of traveling great distances quickly. There would be several theaters of action. Of course there would be espionage and with several habitated planets on the frontier, land action. Any war in space would naturally need ships and be fought with a Navy and have a Navy transport troops and equipment to the worlds that needed them. On those worlds, and some are more settled and developed than others, there would individual stories and struggles. And in any war economics are the overall driving force.

War will be fought in the future with shinier weapons and more sophisticated technology, but it will still come down to being fought as it was in past and as it now—by men trying to kill each other with whatever is at hand.
Before the first book starts, there has been some earthly settlement, which has been ignored by the Alien Empire. This is viewed by the earth people as an invitation. After they become too much of a presence, the Alien empire naturally wishes to curtail some of this rampant expansion. If it smacks of Texas in the 1830s—it’s supposed to.
You have a smaller, ramshackle earth force largely lead by Americans in a territory where their presence is questionable in the first place (something America has been continually guilty of) — facing a superior, better maintained alien force with a solid interplanetary infrastructure who has a better claim to the territory. The impetus for the earth people’s reaction is the alien nation’s aggression against them (which was provoked by the earth people’s quest for territory in the first place).

Philander’s career progress follows the path of the war. When the book opens he is out of work and reluctant to accept that his desired career path is no longer a viable one. There are hints to his past. Apparently at one time he was very capable because he is a captain and has his own ship. Necessity finds him taking a job as mercenary fighter pilot for a beleaguered planetoid resisting this large alien empire. (Think the AVG in 1930s China, not Star Wars.) With this outfit, he meets the rest of the characters filling out the book. As the conflict progresses, the Earth forces are drawn in, not just as out-for-hire pilots, but in a full blown war. Philander’s escapades find him involved in all the theaters of conflict.

Philander Smith is an adventure tale, a cautionary tale maybe but still pure romantic adventure. What the reader can expect is not so much a historical lesson, or a sense of everything crammed into one story but rather a rattling tale, replete with detail and characters facing the central theme of humanity. The British versus the French, the Mexican War, China in the late 1930s, or the settlement of the frontier are merely thematic references. All these factors are contained in The Beautiful Stranger. And hopefully you will find something else which will be entirely unexpected and provoking. Let me get back to work and finish it.


“More than a nautical adventure in outer space – Philander Smith and his ship ‘The Beautiful Stranger’ are unforgettable!”

“Part Fighting Captain, part Frontiersman, part Rake, Philander Smith is the new hero for any century.”

“It’s about time Philander Smith came along…”

“Of course there is a girl involved…”

“Bleimeister visualizes not only a rollicking adventure, but he sets it amidst the settlement of new worlds like no-one has before. It’s like the British Empire and Wild West all over again – but in space!”

“Philander Smith has all the dash and romanticism of a fighter pilot and is full of smoldering sex appeal too!”