Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Howard L Myers' "Omar Olivine" series of short stories

I know of 3 online stories from the series, & they're are the only ones I've read. Not sure if they're are all of series.

Central character in the series is a corrupt cop turned renegade - Omar Olivine. Described as a supercriminal - only he always tends to fall short of cops (or rather, the super AI the cops have).

Series is space opera, though most action in first two stories occurs on a single world.

Nothing particularly strong about the series, though I liked the last story - "Polywater Doodle" - more than the other two.

List below is in chronological order of action in the stories, which is also the order they were published in & the order I read them in. But I think they can be read in any order; each story provides enough background.

  1. [ss] "His Master's Vice" (B) (as by Verge Foray); download; Analog, May 1968: A spaceship that is afraid of heights!

    Olivine, hiding on a world called Roseate, has seriously compromised the local government & collected a lot of loot from treasury. A cop named Elmo Ixton will catch him & recover the loot - thanks in part to the acrophobic ship.
  2. [novelette] "The Pyrophylic Saurian" aka "The Pyrophilic Saurian" (B); download; Analog, January 1970: A parasitic weed (that happens to be a super narcotic substance) grows on the body of some dinosaurs on a Jurassic Park of a world called Dothlit Three.

    Olivine has staged a prison escape with a rag tag group. The group is raiding this world because he believes it contains something very valuable. They'll discover the narcotic, harvest it, but 3 of the group of 6 will become addicts to be left behind & the 3 who run with the harvest will also end up losing it due to an "accident".

    "Pyrophylic" in title probably means "fire loving"; the fire-breathing animals use fire to groom each other! "Saurian", of course, is a class of dinosaurs.
  3. [novelette] "Polywater Doodle" (B); download; Analog, February 1971: An alien life form made entirely of a polymer-form of water!

    Olivine get dumped on Flandna - an uninhabited world with poisonous & carnivorous plants - by the two companions he escaped with narcotics in "The Pyrophylic Saurian". Here he'll be caught by a tenacious local plant that uses its animal catches for fertilizer rather than direct food! He will eventually win his freedom & kill the plant, in the process discovering the curious local life form - an animal composed entirely of polywater & having a metabolism based on a remark of Richard Feynman.
    Note: Polywater, now disproved, was believed to be a polymer state of water in late 1960s & 1970s.

    Olivine will make a pet of this animal, will be arrested by cops again, will manage to "steal" a supership of cops with what he believes is the help of his pet but is perhaps a setup by cops for their own ends...


  1. "Proxad" - "proxy admiral" - is a rank of field cops often used in these stories.

Fact sheet.

Related: Stories of Howard L Myers.
Credits: Some of the information here comes from ISFDB.
All entries also appear in the stories from John Campbell's Astounding/Analog..