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Tinker’s Sea

Starting over doesn't meen escaping the past.

by Stephen B. Pearl

Tinker's Sea - Stephen B. Pearl
Part of the Tinker's World series:
Editions:Paperback - 1: $ 15.99
ISBN: 1928011136
Size: 5.00 x 8.00 in
Pages: 326

Oil reserves depleted. Society collapsed.
A few places cling to modern technology.
For everywhere else, there are the Tinkers.

In southern Ontario, Novo Gaia uses sustainable energy to support its citizens in comfort. From there, Novo Gaia sends Doctors of Applied General Technology, tinkers, into the Dark Lands to install everything from solar stills to televisions—and make a profit.

After twenty years as an E.R. nurse, Tabitha “Tabby” Drivensky’s failing marriage sent her into the tinker program and the open waters of the Great Lakes. While fulfilling her Coast Guard service obligation, she rescues a boy named Andy Camble from a sinking ship.

Andy turns out to have vital information on Packer, a pirate captain who has been plaguing the Great Lakes for generations in an ancient, nuclear-powered submarine. Using Andy’s intelligence, Tabby sets out ostensibly to scout out a new aquatic tinker route along Lake Huron but secretly assigned by Novo Gaia to find and put an end to Packer once and for all.

Publisher: Brain Lag
Cover Artists:
Tropes: Ancient Weapon, Dystopian Governments, Humanity is Dangerous, Humanity is Good, Lucky Novice, Post-Apocalyptic, Training, Wise Mentor
Word Count: 115,674
Setting: Lake Huron, Ontario, Canada
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Same Universe / Various Characters
Tropes: Ancient Weapon, Dystopian Governments, Humanity is Dangerous, Humanity is Good, Lucky Novice, Post-Apocalyptic, Training, Wise Mentor
Word Count: 115,674
Setting: Lake Huron, Ontario, Canada
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Same Universe / Various Characters


Tabby hooked the charger to the boxy, electric car and checked that its metre had stopped running. The sky, where it could be seen through the gaps in the solar canopy that covered much of the parking lot, was a clear blue. A stiff breeze coming off Georgian Bay rustled the tops of the trees surrounding the port area and carried a fishy aroma to her nostrils. She breathed it in like perfume.

Another of the electric cars pulled into the harbour’s parking lot and stopped at a recharge station. A man, with a left arm about the size of a six-year old’s, climbed from the vehicle.

“Tabby. I’m glad I caught you.” The man connected the charging cable and checked that the car’s metre had stopped running.

Tabby took a minute to appreciate his solidly built form and angular, weathered, American first people’s features before replying. “I hate goodbyes. You know that Eddie.”


“This has nothing to do with last week. Though sneaking out when I was in the shower was tacky.” Eddie smoothed his suit. He seemed ill at ease in the garment.

“I didn’t sneak. I told you I was meeting Brad and Carla for breakfast. Brad was going over my gearing system on the Wave Mistress. You know what it’s like, you’re a tinker, or at least you will be again when your arm finishes growing in.”

Eddie moved to her side. “And that day can’t come soon enough. I never realized what a bore being the Minister of Dark Lands Affairs was. I’m sorry I ran for the post, but after that mess in Guelph, the office needed someone with a clue to take over.”

“It won’t be long,” Tabby patted his cheek then kissed him. She glanced at the sun and shook her head. “I have to go. The wind won’t wait.”

Eddie shook his head. “Sorry, Captain. We need to talk.”

The smile left Tabby’s face at the mention of her rank.

“Eddie, I’ve got to do the shakedown cruise on that revamped gear system. I start my route in just over a week. I can’t afford to have my commission activated when we finally get decent weather.  Ground out, I still have an exam to write.”

“Sorry. Let’s talk about this in the tinker centre.” Taking her arm, Eddie steered her along the long breakwater with its neat rows of sheltered piers. Moments later, they’d crossed onto Waterside Lane and were approaching the converted two-story house that formed the Collingwood Tinker Centre. Its brick was worn but intact, and trees grew around it. A wind turbine turned in the breeze behind the building, and solar panels covered its roof. The methane-composting sewer treatment plant and bio-diesel production facility filled the area across the street with a series of large, stone buildings topped with greenhouse-like algae farms.

Entering the tinker centre, Eddie waved at the radio operator in the corner and led the way to an upstairs meeting room. A large desk surrounded by leather chairs occupied the centre of the three-metre by three-metre chamber. Light tubes in the ceiling funnelled sunlight into the room.

“Eddie, what in a grounded circuit is going on?”

Eddie held a finger to his lips and closed the window blinds before he spoke into a portable phone. “I caught her in the parking lot. Come on in.”

“Eddie? What the…?”

“The Minister of the Environment was waiting by the Wave Mistress in case I didn’t catch you.”

“Two ministers?” Tabby settled into one of the chairs.

“Four actually. The Ministers of Health and Youth are also coming. We’ll talk when Sue, Kevin and Lily get here.”

“Sue’s here.” The door opened, admitting a woman with steel-grey hair and a slightly pump body wearing a tailored suit dress. Her matronly features were pulled into a mask of concern. She took a seat. A moment later, a bald man of maybe fifty with strong Caucasian features and a bodybuilder's physique followed her. He carried a tray full of cups. An early twenties woman with Asian features and a luxuriant mane of black hair dressed in a handsome blouse and skirt was on his heels.

“Kevin, this isn’t a morning chat,” scolded Sue.

“It’s morning. Morning without tea is savagery.” Kevin dispersed the cups with a smile.

Tabby accepted her cup. “Thank you, now can someone please tell me why I’m missing a day’s sailing?”

Eddie nodded. “Do you remember the Dark Lands cargo ship you saved? The one where the cabin boy was the only survivor.”

“Of course. How is Andy? We lost touch after the plague port.” Tabby leaned back in her chair. Her dark-brown hair with its wisps of grey fell just brushing her shoulders.

“He’s good.” Lilly warmed her hands on her tea mug. “He needs some counselling. We’ve had some behaviour issues with him. They’ve finally convinced him he doesn’t have to swear every second word. My ministry took charge of him. It’s disgusting what happened to him. Kidnapped by pirates, separated from his mother.”

”Happens more than you’d like to think in the dark,” commented Eddie.

“Well, I can’t fix the world, but I can at least help Andy.” Lily took a sip of her tea. “I checked the ship’s providence. As far as I can tell the captain owned it, so with no other inheritors present, under our law, Andy gets the lot. Ship, cargo, everything. I’ve arranged for him to stay in Novo Gaia as a foreign student while his money lasts. Provided he can deal with our laws.”

“I’m glad to hear it.” Tabby nodded to the younger woman.

“I wish I could do more, but taking in those kids from Arkell last year has strained my ministry’s budget.” Lily shrugged.

“Andy will be fine. He’s a smart kid. Part of why he got made a cabin boy is he already had his letters. His core skills are only a grade level behind for his age,” added Eddie.

Tabby’s smile revealed a tracery of laugh wrinkles at the corners of her eyes. “Figured he had brains. You don’t dead reckon a course without problem-solving abilities.”

“You don’t know the half of it. He is near the top of the curve for problem-solving.” Lily chimed in.

Eddie took a seat facing Tabby as the other ministers settled themselves.

“I’m happy to hear about Andy, but we’re wasting wind.” Tabby fingered her shirt collar.

Sue spoke up. “Straight to the point, I like that. It’s about that fish you found.”

“The one they were eating. I’ve wondered what it was.”

“Carp! ”

“It must have been huge.”

“We estimate four metres long.” Eddie sat back and allowed Tabby a moment to put the pieces together.

“A rad mutation?” Tabby shook her head. “If there are more of them, that could be a problem.”

“There’s more,” said Kevin. “The ship’s cargo, did you get a look at it?”

“I was a little preoccupied.”

“Show her, Eddie.”

Eddie pressed a button on a control in front of him and the screen filling the room’s end wall came to life displaying a barrel. It looked ordinary except a radiation warning symbol was burnt into its lid. “There were six of these.” The image changed to show the barrel open. Inside it, grey metal formed a kind of honeycomb pattern with each cell containing a glass jar packed in with straw.

Tabitha stared at the screen for a second then put her face into her hand. “No, no, no. No one’s that crazy! We’d have heard about it. They couldn’t keep it secret, could they?”

Eddie shrugged. “You know better than most, it’s not like the old days. The last of the spy satellites crashed seventy years ago. The smattering of old weather satellites and high orbital installations give us spotty coverage at best and aren’t a patch on the old optical systems. All we know is we have a mutated radioactive fish and containers full of fresh nuclear fuel pellets on a Dark Lands pirate ship.”

“Pirates. Packer!” Tabby spat the name.

“Probably,” agreed Eddie. “From what Andy has told us, we think the ship was selling on pirated goods. If those barrels had ruptured, it could have caused a cancer bloom like nothing seen since the collapse and destroyed our fisheries. Then there’s this. I asked Andy to draw what he could remember of the port where they loaded the fish.”

Eddie pushed a small stack of papers across to Tabby. “He remembered plenty because the port was the first stop of call after he was taken.”

Tabby leafed through the papers stopping at the image of a bay with ruins on the shore. In the middle of the bay was what looked like the conning tower of a submarine. “It has to be Packer!”

“Who else has a submarine on the Great Lakes?” Eddie shook his head.

Tabby focused on Eddie. “Do we really have a lead on that son of a bitch? What do you need from me? Are we mobilizing the Samuel Irving?”

“As best as we can figure, the Lake King,” Eddie rolled his eyes. “That was the name of the ship you saved.”

“Says more about the captain’s arrogance than the ship,” remarked Tabby.

“From what Andy has told me, you have the right of that. In any case, we’ve looked over its logs, such as they are. The captain didn’t bother recording his ports of call. Andy saw a lot of ship traffic for the short time he was in port.”

Tabby snorted. “Packer’s fleet. If that sub is the Cutlass and not just some abandoned hull, that tells us all we’ll ever need to know about Andy’s late, unlamented captain. Pirate scum fencing goods soaked in the blood of honest sailors.”

“I like this woman. We think alike,” remarked Kevin.

Tabby nodded at the minister as Eddie continued. “From what Andy has told us, the other cargo on the Lake King and outside intelligence, we suspect that Packer is currently operating in the southern Lake Huron and possibly Lake Michigan areas. Andy said he was probably on the eastern shore because the sun rose over land.”

“Why would Packer give his own people poisoned food?” Tabby drummed her fingers on the table.

“Andy gave us the answer to that,” said Kevin. “The Lake King’s captain was a bad little pirate. He ran a side deal that took him to the west side of the lake. He was supposed to deliver the cargo straight off.”

“Packer cleaning up after himself. If the Lake King had followed its assigned course, the delivery would have been made before the rad sickness set in.” Tabby shook her head. “Pragmatic. Disgusting, disloyal and cruel, but pragmatic. So, when do we put an end to Packer for good?” Tabby inched forward on her seat.

“Tabby, you know it’s not that easy. The treaty with the United Grid Regions is in the way. The main thing we have to do is find this source of radioactive fuel pellets before it can poison our fisheries.”

“The source is pretty obvious to me.” Tabby tapped the picture of the submarine.

“Look at the next picture.” Eddie gestured at the stack.

Tabby flipped it over. It was a crude rendering of people with pickaxes breaking into what looked like a concrete platform.

“What am I looking at?”

“We think it’s a medium-term nuclear storage facility being compromised,” said Kevin.

“Packer never deals with sources that take that much refining. Why should he? There are enough richer sources for old fuel rods to keep that tub charged up for centuries.”

“We don’t know. There is a lot of radioactive material in there. If he suddenly found a use for a lot of nuclear fuel all at once, it might make sense.” Eddie drummed his fingers on the table.

Tabby watched as Eddie gave a nearly imperceptible shake of his head and she let the matter rest, for the moment.

Kevin continued. “What we do know is that piracy is way up. It started about two years ago. We suspect that it is Packer.”

Eddie’s voice chimed in, “So you see Tabby, if we can shutdown Packer and his band of thugs, that’s a bonus, but what we really need to do is find and contain the radiation before it destroys our fisheries, and find out what Packer needs all those fuel pellets for. We need to look into this on the QT so--.”

“No!” Tabitha stood and glared at the ministers. “Eddie, Packer is too big a job for one tinker. Send the Coast Guard. Besides, I need my commissions. It’s only my second season on the new route.”

“Don’t worry, our ministries will assume the payments on your cargo for the duration of your mission,” soothed Sue.

“Minimum payments. You know what a crock that is! Eddie, don’t do this to me.” Tabby glared around the table.

Eddie shrugged. “Do your outbound commissions. It will add to your cover. Then, instead of going directly to Manitoulin Island, follow where the evidence leads. We need an update on the population centres along that coast anyway. Radio in your location, and, if it becomes necessary, we’ll assign people to deal with any of your commissions that you can’t. You’ll still get your finder’s fee. Officially, you’ll be doing a preliminary run of a new tinker route. We have a man who’s doing his apprentice year that can handle a boat, so it fits.  Plus, your Coast Guard Commission will be activated.”

“Now wait just a minute,” objected Kevin.

Eddie glared at the other minister. “Your commission will be activated, and you will draw your captain’s wages. Yes, Kevin, it will, and she will. I’ve been in her shoes. She has a business to run.”

Kevin gritted his teeth. “Fine, it’s not like my ministry gets windfalls from abandoned biotech facilities they can sell-off, but we’ll pony up our fourth. We only make sure the food we all eat isn’t poisoned. How important could that be? ”

Eddie shook his head.

“Wonderful.” Tabby released an exasperated sigh. “You know this means I’ll have to skirt both sides of the Bruce Peninsula. That’s Holy Unity territory. If the source is on their land, what am I supposed to do? I can’t exactly ask that collection of fanatics to let me poke around. What if Packer has formed an association with them? Lots of pirates do.”

“I doubt the Holy Unity would officially support Packer. A nuclear submarine goes against their anti-tech canon. Still, you will have to do active water sampling as you skirt the Bruce Peninsula. It will be a slow trip.”

“Through pirate-infested waters,” added Tabby.

“I’ve spoken to the Minister of Defence. He’s willing to let you have a few extra toys in case pirates become a problem.” Eddie grinned.

“An armed naval escort would be better. The Samuel Irving could make wrecks of most of the pirate fleet in a week. If I do find the Cutlass, we’ll need it anyway.”

“You know shorting well that if we mobilize the Samuel Irving, it will start a shooting war with the United Grid Regions,” remarked Sue.

“Worse yet. If we do take out the Cutlass, we’ll have to do it surgically. If its reactor core was to go critical, or take a direct hit, it could poison half the lake.” Eddie shrugged helplessly.

“Some days I really don’t like you,” commented Tabby as she buried her head in her hands.

Eddie pressed a button on the desk, and a display of Lake Huron’s coastline appeared on the screen. “We’ve done some flyovers and got one of the old satellites to take some images. Sadly, no conning towers but the Cutlass was built to hide from aerial detection. I’d go with Andy’s observations on this one . The population centres are here.” The press of another button caused a series of green dots to appear along the coast. “Flyovers revealed radiation concentrations here.” He pressed another button, and red dots appeared all over the map.

“Where… How?” asked Tabby.

“Mine tailings, disposal sites, medical units, accidents, pre-collapse military hardware. Our ancestors were careless and stupid. We can be fairly certain the source is on the coast. Our most likely candidates are where people and radiation hot spots match up.” Eddie pressed another button, and ten points along the east coast of Lake Huron were highlighted. “Excluding the ones that we have a presence at.” Eddie pressed another button, and the number of dots dropped to seven clustered around the southern section of Lake Huron. “Unfortunately, none of our land-based tinkers have pushed this far into the dark yet, so you’ll be the first they’ve dealt with.”

“Checking them will take a while if I’m going to make it look like I’m just pushing deeper into the dark.” Tabby sat forward and stared at the map. “I’ll need to do my route to Cove Island before I even start, or it’s going to look suspicious .”

“We know,” agreed Sue. “It is imperative that you not draw attention. If this is the Cutlass, we cannot allow the United Grid Regions to obtain it.”

“Oh please, stop playing politics. Packer and that floating radiation hazard are a plague on everyone who uses the lakes. The Gridders have as much to lose as we do.” Tabby rolled her eyes.

“It’s not just politics, Tabby. We have intelligence that some of the shareholder families have been lobbying for a nuclear weapons program. They see towns joining us and wonder how long it will be before we threaten their political system. The Steel family wants to re-establish nuclear-powered weapons to deter us from our ‘Imperialist ways.’ Imagine if the Cutlass fell into the hands of a group with the skills and resources to properly restore it. It could upset the entire balance of power.”

“Idiots!” Tabby shook her head.

“You see, if it is the Cutlass, or some other nuclear-powered weapon system, we need to find it first, preferably without the Gridders even knowing it exists, so we can safely decommission it,” added Kevin.

“So, I sail down the coast searching for the most vicious pirate on the lakes, checking radiation hot spots and having my ovaries turn into light bulbs. Just my luck, I transfer off Superior, and this happens. How will I recognize the right place?” Tabby ruffled Andy’s drawings. “Andy may be a smart kid, but he’s no artist.”

“Andy will be travelling with you. He can tell you if he spots anything familiar,” said Eddie.

“I still object to putting a minor in harm’s way.” Lily’s face was drawn and slightly angry.

“I’m with you.” Tabby glared at Eddie. “Bad enough you put this on me; Andy’s just a boy. I’ll work better alone! I don’t want to have to nursemaid a child while I’m on mission.”

“Ladies, while I understand your concerns, it’s not as if he was getting nothing for his efforts,” said Kevin.

Tabby glared at Kevin. “What’s he getting?”

“For his assistance to the mission’s completion, or seven months, whichever comes first, he will be granted full Novo Gaian citizenship. A year or two as a foreign student could become a lifetime with a tidy sum in the bank to get himself going,” observed Sue.

Tabby sighed. “And he’s agreed to this?”

“He insisted,” remarked Eddie.

“He’s a boy with delusions of rescuing his mother.” Lily’s voice was ice.

“He’s a young man from the dark who wants vengeance because he knows pirates killed his mother and father.” Eddie sighed and stared into the table. “Andy has no delusions left. He grew up in the dark, you can’t think of him like you would a Bright Lands kid. He made me promise that he could go along with the people hunting Packer before he’d give me anything. If we don’t keep that promise, he’ll be out of that boarding school hunting for Packer on his own. He has a gut full of rage.”

“You don’t know that,” said Lily.

Tabby closed her eyes, remembering the boy with hands rubbed raw on a pump handle. “He knows. Andy will do what he sets his mind to or die trying. My father was from the dark, he was apprenticed by the time he was Andy’s age. It makes you hard or breaks you. Andy has steel in him. The only question is; will it be used to make things better or worse? I’ll take him, and maybe I can steer him in the right direction. I’ll have to skip Cove Island.”

“You can’t, it would be a tip-off. Just keep an eye on him. As long as you don’t spend the night, he shouldn’t have any problems. Use him, Tabby. He’s still a boy; people will tell him things they won’t tell you. He’s smart for his years. Point him in the right direction, and he’ll surprise you.” Eddie folded his hands on the desk.

Tabby glared at Eddie. “Why do you save the pips for me?” Tabby shifted her gaze to the projection on the wall.

“Relax, it’s not like you’re going into a plague zone, and Andy should add to your cover. Most folk wouldn’t believe that you’d put a minor at risk.”

“No, I’m walking into a nuclear fall-out region. If I get cancer and die, I swear I’ll haunt you, right after I’m done with Malcolm.”

Eddie snorted. “I believe you would. I’ll contact you later with a full briefing.”

“So, we’re done for now?” Tabby stood.

“For now,” agreed Sue.

“Then if you’ll excuse me. I really need to shake down the modifications in my gearbox, and if I’m lucky, the wind is still good.” Turning, Tabby left the room.

The four ministers sat in silence for a second.

“I don’t think she is taking this seriously enough. This could cause major environmental damage, not to mention upsetting the balance of power in favour of the shareholder families. Is this Packer as bad as she seems to think?” asked Sue.

“I’ve read the reports. He’s worse. And that sub of his.” Eddie shook his head. “It’s a hundred and thirty-two years old. The pipes in the reactor core will be as brittle as glass. The only reason it hasn’t blown is Packer is a smart bastard. He never pushes the system and uses batteries to supplement. Even so, it’s only a matter of time.”

“The loss of human life from all this could be enormous,” added Kevin.

“I just hope she’s good to Andy. He’s been through enough.” Lily drummed her fingers on the table.

Eddie leaned back in his chair. “Tabby will do what she has to as guardian and agent. She is a tinker.”

“What in a shorted circuit is that supposed to mean?” Kevin clutched his mug like he was trying to crush it.

“It means this is all in a day’s work for my people. If you travel the dark, you encounter the mess our ancestors left. People die, you save those you can and clean up what you can. In the end, tinkers deal.” Eddie smiled and took a sip of his tea. “So how are you three going to vote on the bill to extend the freight rail system to the Guelph area?”


Tabby reached the Wave Mistress. Free of cargo, the ten-metre long converted yacht rode high in the water. Its grey, streamline, poly-carbonate hull showed off tint where the odd scrapes had been patched or infilled . The tubular form of twin rotary-turbine sails rose amidships. The sails turned steadily in the breeze, and a power cable ran from the ship to the pier, feeding electricity back into the grid. Tabby checked the metre the cable connected into and smiled when it tipped over to zero.

“At least the docking fees are taken care of.”

Climbing aboard, she pulled a palm-sized device from her pocket and flipped it open, then folded it open again side to side, revealing a screen about the size of a paperback book. Touching the screen, she activated an app and started going over her pre-sail checklist. Minutes later, she folded her tablet and released the mooring lines. Moving to the ship’s open cockpit, she slipped the gearbox into reverse, then released the clutch. Part of the force from the rotary-turbine sail shifted from the generator and passed to the prop at the back of the ship. The sails were situated high enough off the deck that Tabby could see the bow of her craft and beyond. She backed out of her berth, then shifted to the lowest of her forward gears. In minutes the Wave Mistress sailed past the crumbling grain towers and artillery installation at the end of the breakwater and was out in the lake. Tabitha shifted the gear to fifth, and the sleek craft leapt ahead. The wind whipped around her and spray shot from the bow. She inhaled, drinking in the smell of Lake Huron. Smiling, she looked to the top of her sail where a short pole supported a flag bearing the tinker crest, a power drill under a yellow sun, immediately under a Novo Gaian flag, a blue-green Earth on a field of black. Shifting down, she slowed her craft, diverting power to her generator. The charge on her batteries began to climb. She shifted down again, and the numbers on the charge indicator in her dashboard climbed faster.

Setting the gear to G, she transferred all the sails’ force to the generator. Moving forward, she ran out the anchor, then tested the winch for bringing it back in. The sea anchor followed. A pre-collapse, power yacht with sails jury-rigged on it appeared off her port, moving towards her. It flew the crossed rifles on a field of red of The Holy Unity. She touched the holster at her side then, almost casually, she returned to the cockpit and pressed her palm against a scanner on the top of the bench seat. The seat popped open, and she reviewed its contents before selecting a shoulder-mounted missile launcher. Stepping out on deck, she knelt behind the protection of the solid gunwale that encircled her craft and took aim. She could see the other ship’s crew through the launcher’s magnified sights. They were all armed, but that wasn’t surprising. They had lowered the flag on their mast and were preparing to raise another.  A man on deck looked at her through one side of a broken set of binoculars. She pointed to the two flags on her mast, waved, and then went back to observing the other ship through her weapon’s sight. The man on deck seemed a few shades paler and was shouting something as he gestured for the other crew not to raise the new flag. He looked her way again and timidly waved. Moments later, the strange ship cut away from her and was soon lost to sight.

Moving to her radio, Tabby turned it on. “Tinker, tinker, tinker, report, report, report.”

“We read you. Go ahead for identity check.” The facility radio operator sounded young.

Probably some kid from the academy doing a placement, thought Tabby. “Identity check T zero, A nine, B thirty, I two, T zero, H five, A zero, D four, R one, I zero, V eight, E, PC, N, S, K, Y. Over."

“Captain Drivensky, this is the Collingwood Tinker Centre operator identity B zero, I nine, L thirty, L two, H zero, A five, R zero, V four, E one, S zero, T eight, E, PC, R. Over."

“Confirmed, Collingwood Tinker Center, I’m at,” she checked her GPS but, as usual, none of the remaining satellites were in position to update the device. “I’m in the Craigleith area about two kilometres offshore. I think we have pirate activity out here. You might like to send some decoys to clear it up.”

“Understood and your suggestion is noted, tinker. Fine winds.”

Tabby smiled. Whoever the kid on the radio was, his reserve commission was coast guard. A land lover would never use, ‘fine winds’. “Calm seas. Over and out.”

“Over and out.”

“I just hope they clear them up before I’m back for the fall.” She went back to field testing her equipment, returning to port with the sunset. Going below decks, she entered her cabin in the bow. This consisted of a captain’s bed with a desk built into the corner beside it. A screen on a pivoting arm was attached to the wall at the back of the desk, which had a detachable keyboard. Under the desk was a docking berth for her combined laptop, video, music player. The door opened into the middle of the room, and there was an office chair clipped to the wall opposite the desk. The only open floor was about a square metre in front of the door. On the far side of the bed, a set of cabinet doors concealed the point of the bow.

“Home,” Tabby sighed. She could remember a time when home had been a house in the suburbs with a husband she thought loved her and their daughter. Shrugging, she pushed those thoughts away and prepared for bed.

Reviews:Chris Jackson, author of Scimitar Moon on wrote:

I love the post apocalypse world the author has created, a nice mix of high tech and low tech. Good characters, flow and plot, too. The prose is easy to read.

The only problem I found in this books is probably idiosyncratic to me, and that was the nautical elements. There were a few glitches here and there that set my teeth on edge, but another reader (someone not so nit-picky about boats) might not have minded.

A good story.

Only reason it took me so long to read is that I'm into half a dozen other books right now, too...

Brian Custers wrote:

Stephen B Pearl has created a future that is not hard to believe is coming. The creative genius he puts into it, in the form of the "Tinkers" gives all hope that we can survive it.

Stan Suban wrote:

Great book, just like the first one in this Tinker series. Hope there are more.

Tinkers Can
Tinkers can, oh tinkers can.
Wandering the roads.
A lethal shot.
A healing hand.
An Engineer that roams.Light the way, the tinkers can, in a dark-some land.
Restore us to, our squandered past, yes the tinkers can.

With sun and wind and wave you stand, first dawn in a dark night.
Healer to our wounded Earth, our mother set rights.

First glimmer of fair, precious hope, in a land trapped in despair.
Clean waters from the poisoned streams, bring the tinkers fair.

Face the horrors of yesteryear, and wrestle them to ground.
Fearless gainst the toxic filth, our ancestors did found.

From the foulness of the collapse, our forefathers did bring.
The tinkers like a shaft of light, do a new age bring.

Learned in so many things, they walk a shattered land.
Save the best of everything, and healing bring to man.

And so mankind shall phoenix like, rithesist from the flame.
And tinkers shall the first spark be, our future for to claim.

As I was writing Tinker's Plague this song came to mind and it really did seem to establish the role of the tinkers in the post-apocalyptic world I was generating.
Tinkers represent the vanguard of a new age growing from the ashes of the old as such many moral tropes we hold are questioned. The idea of small u eugenics has been kicking around for years. Things like making the genetics of people of proven achievement available on request to infertile couples. I also strove to show that there were people of good heart at all social economic levels. The fact that I didn't pander to an 'the present is perfect or a big business is great' model will undoubtedly cost me some readers then again I feel it will garner me more from thinking individuals that see that the world of today is not sustainable and maybe just want to avoid the future I have writen about.

About the Author

Stephen B. Pearl is a multiple published author whose works range across the speculative fiction field. His writings often incorporate real places and focus heavily on the logical consequences of the worlds he crafts. He follows advancements in science because good science fiction is based on good science. His life-long association with cats has given him insights into the species.

Stephen’s Inspirations encompass H.G. Wells, J.R. Tolkien, Frank Herbert, Jim Butcher, Anne McCaffrey, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Homer among others. He strongly believes that good fiction is based on good fact, so he can often be found researching elements of his next book. He also holds that to write one must read and that there is greatness in all forms of literature. One could say he pursues the great-- then to the best of his abilities tries to distil it down and express it as his own original work.
Stephen currently resides in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and can be reached through his website: or e-mail: