Underway: The Phantom Travelogues, Arrives Today!

new releases

Today we welcome into the world Underway, a side entry in my Phantom Traveler series.

My supporters on Patreon sponsored this book and I cannot start talking about its release without expressing how much I appreciate that they saw the value in this unusual book to support its creation as I worked on it month-by-month, throughout 2019.

When I originally envisioned the Phantom Traveler series, this book is what I imagined: spacefaring travelogues, a collection of strange adventures and surreal encounters with planets far unlike our own world. I was just finishing up Flotsam and Salvage, and I birthed Ehli as a tour guide to worlds like Peridot, where only an outsider’s perspective could describe exactly the differences between more typical, Earth-like worlds and the strange, rule-breaking worlds that erupted from my imagination.

But of course, Ehli needed a backstory, and that backstory propelled her (and later her sisters Jayess and Sothree) on through a plot of their own. A plot I didn’t feel like I could put on hold just to write my “planet of the month” travelogues.

But plot circumstances of the Phantom Traveler books eventually created a space where those logs could get, well... logged. The iscillian stars of the series are beak-deep in the liberal arts, and painting and writing comes naturally to them, inseparable from the operation of a starship. Eventually, Jayess became host of these travelogues as their ship, the Harrow’s Tusk, carried them toward the home world they’ve never known.

And thus, I could finally create these little snippets of alien life, culture, and evolution, and indulge in the strangeness that I could imagine between the stars.

From January to November 2019, I created one log and one illustration per month. I originally envisioned these logs printed on the backs of postcards, but I couldn’t find an easy or affordable way to create such small postcard books and I stuck the project in a drawer.

In 2021, as I mourned the closure of Parvus Press and turned my eyes back to my original self-publishing path—planning releases and scheduling out my production calendar—I remembered that Underway just needed a bit of polish before it was ready to release. I let go of the special postcard book format and experimented with page layouts to get the best look in my standard paperback size. I revisited several of the illustrations to move elements left or right of center so details wouldn’t be completely lost in the center gutter in print. I re-read and revised the text, then ran it through the usual editing paces and finally, ordered a series of print proofs to make sure everything was the way I liked it.

And here we are. August 24, 2021, the arbitrary date I picked to release the book. Not so arbitrary, actually, as it’s roughly the two-year anniversary of the release of The Silent Fringe, the second book in the series.

This book definitely has its challenges ahead of it, and I still have my hang-ups in promoting it. I cringe to think of someone picking it up without reading the first two books, but this is something beyond my control. I cringe to think of someone judging me on the merits of my illustration skill, but that is imposter syndrome talking, as no one who has seen the illustrations has had anything but positive feedback.

I hope anyone who is a fan of Ehli, Jayess, Sothree, and BEETL delights in this odd entry in the series and is proud to give the book roughly a quarter inch of space on their shelf. I hope those who enjoy it, and are so inclined, rate it highly on Amazon and Goodreads so the series can find more readers.

And I hope to hear from those of you who have ordered or read it already! If you’d like to drop me an encouraging note to return to, either via my Contact Form or on Twitter, I would really appreciate it!

Good luck, little book! I know lots of people are rooting for your success and looking forward to Phantom Traveler Book Three (thus far untitled), which will release in 2022!

Book promo image showing the cover of UNDERWAY: THE PHANTOM TRAVELOGUES by R J Theodore with cover art by Galen Dara. Text reads: “Dimspace, a realm shrouded in mystery and promise. Our ship’s gate drive hurls us between star systems, careening between random pinpricks of light faster than light itself can travel. We journey steadily toward the region of the galaxy whence we came, one calculated leap at a time. Each waypoint system offers unique wonders, phenomena, and life to explore, observe, and chronicle.We are seeking our own people, our culture, and our history but it is my goal that, when we reach our destination, we will have our own history to share…” Featuring Eleven Original Illustrations; UNDERWAY: THE PHANTOM TRAVELOGUES | R J Theodore | Available Aug 24 | Digital & Print