Dark Owl     Publishing

Click here to edit subtitle

Tales of Adventure and Mystery from Frontier Space
Volume I

By Jason J. McCuiston
Sci-fi pulp fiction at its finest
Available March 1, 2021 in paperback and on Kindle

A star devouring ship bears down on an unsuspecting colony,

and only the Last Star Warden and his alien companion, Quantum,

can stop it!

Held captive on the worst prison ship in the galaxy,

the Last Star Warden must find a way to escape

before Quantum is killed!

A frantic call for help leads the Last Star Warden and his friend Quantum to a city of debauchery and secrets where madness threatens

to overtake them!

An intended vacation plunges the Last Star Warden and Quantum into the internecine warfare of corporate corruption!

An abandoned space station is terrorized by unearthly forces, and the Last Star Warden and Quantum must stop the forces before they destroy the galaxy!


Praise for McCuiston's previous work

"McCuiston's succinct, evocative descriptions

expertly conjure time and place..."

~ Publishers Weekly,

"McCuiston has delivered a fast-paced and

richly-textured debut novel..."

~ Tom English,

Editor of Black Infinity Magazine

...McCuiston delivers an unforgettable page-turner.

Moody, gorgeously written..."

~ Gregory L. Norris,

author of the Gerry Anderson Into Infinity novels

"There's an emotional core to proceedings--McCuiston knows his characters and cares about them... Jason J. McCuiston is an author of exceptional talent..."

~ Trevor Kennedy,

Editor of Phantasmagoria Magazine

About the Author

Jason J. McCuiston was born in the wilds of southeast Tennessee, where he was raised on a carnivorous diet of old monster movies, westerns, comic books, horror magazines, sci-fi and fantasy novels, and, of course, Dungeons & Dragons. Publishing his first story about zombies, kung fu, and family ties in Parsec Ink's 2017 Triangulation: Appetites anthology, Jason became a semi-finalist in the Writers of the Future contest and has studied under the tutelage of best-selling author Philip Athans. His stories of fantasy, horror, and science fiction (and even a few crime dramas) have appeared in numerous anthologies, periodicals, websites, and podcasts.

Jason lives in South Carolina, USA with his college-professor wife (making him a Doctor's Companion) and their two four-legged children, Grendel and Winky (pictured). He can be found here on Facebook, and he occasionally tweets about his dogs, his stories, his likes, and his gripes here on Twitter.

Before this collection is available, you can meet the Last Star Warden in A Celebration of Storytelling, coming December 1. It's Jason's first story about his intrepid space hero and his loyal companion, Quantum. He also has a short crime drama in the anthology as well.

Author's Note:

The Origins of The Last Star Warden

from Jason J. McCuiston

By the summer of 2019 I was utterly exhausted by the Pop-Culture War, having seen most of my beloved franchises torched into burnt-out husks by Post-Modernism, Nihilism, and Identity Politics. Disney had turned Star Wars into the cinematic equivalent of fast food, CBS had taken the intelligent optimism of Star Trek and twisted it into a mean-spirited and poorly written parody, and the BBC had essentially told generations of Doctor Who fans, "We're taking this away and giving it to someone else because you don't think like we want you to."

I had given up on comics and superheroes years before, but they were faring no better. Though Alan Moore's Watchmen and Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns had been catalysts in making me the storyteller I am today, they had also turned the paradigm of the four-color superhero on its head. Attempting to emulate (or flat-out copy) these seminal works, an ensuing generation of writers and artists embarked on the systematic and industry-wide deconstruction of the hero.

And I had grown bone tired of it all.

So, as I sat in a local dealership waiting on a factory recall, I brainstormed and doodled in my notebook. I set out to recapture what I had always loved about heroic storytelling and genre fiction. Naturally, I had to go back to the beginning--my earliest childhood heroes. Who were they and what about them had fascinated me at such an early age; why were they essentially timeless?

The Lone Ranger. My dad has always been a big Western buff, and, like most of my tastes in fiction, I inherited that from him. As a child of the 1970s, my favorite toys were the Lone Ranger and Tonto action figures from Gabriel. I watched the old reruns of the Clayton Moore TV show and was ecstatic when the Saturday-morning cartoon finally came along. Even more so when I found out about the live-action movie in 1981, which I saw at the local drive-in theater when I was eight years old. I remember begging for the film novelization, and then having my dad go through and mark out all the "bad words" so I could read it.

But what was it about the Lone Ranger that so captivated me? Was it the blue suit, the twin six-guns, the mask? Probably. But I think it was also the fact that he was the Good Guy, so much so that he wouldn't even kill the Bad Guys. No matter how hard it made his life, the Lone Ranger always did the right thing.

The Bat-Man. Like a lot of folks my age, one of the earliest memories I have of Batman comes from the Saturday-morning Super Friends cartoon. Another, of course, is from reruns of the old Adam West TV show. These incarnations share almost nothing in common with the grim and gritty Dark Knight of modern times. When I was a kid, Batman was the hero with the best gadgets and the coolest vehicles, but he also smiled and made jokes. And though there was plenty of Bang! Pow! Zap! action, as often as not, the Caped Crusader used his wits to beat the Bad Guys before sharing a laugh with Robin and Commissioner Gordon.

Captain America. I've always loved medieval knights even more than Old West cowboys. With his shield and  shirt, Captain America seemed like the Marvel Universe's version of a modern-day knight in shining armor. As I got older and began reading his comics, I found that the comparison extended to his ethos as well. Cap, like the Lone Ranger, is the quintessential Good Guy. He's also a soldier, like my father and my grandfather, so I appreciated the military aspect of his character--the rigorous training and discipline, the drive to exceed one's personal limits.

And though Buck Rogers had done it decades before, Captain America is also a man out of time. He's a Greatest-Generation character living first among the Baby Boomers, and now adjusting to the Gen-Xers and Millennials. Yet, in his mind and in mine, The Right Thing doesn't have an expiration date.

The Phantom. One of--if not the very first--costumed crime-fighters. Another two-gun hero in a mask on a white horse. A man with a mysterious origin and a legacy of immortality. A legendary man who fights pirates and corrupt governments. But a living, breathing man all the same. The fact that the character's mystique is built on family and lineage makes the Phantom a believable human being. We know that the man in the mask will die someday, but the Phantom and what he stands for, what he fights for, what he believes in will live on. And the Bad Guys secretly tremble in that knowledge.

So, where to take this amalgamation of Wild West lawman, urban crime-fighter, super soldier, and jungle legend? Why, SPAAAAAACE of course! (Yes, Space Ghost was another obvious influence.)

Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers are Sam Jones and Gil Gerard in my mind, not Larry "Buster" Crabbe and, well, Larry "Buster" Crabbe... though I have watched some of the serials. But the proto/subgenre of the ray gun and rocket ship has its fingerprints on everything from Forbidden Planet through Star Trek and Star Wars, all the way to Farscape, Firefly, and The Expanse. We, as human beings, love the notion of exploration, of reaching out to see what's "beyond". Infinite space will always be that, the carrot forever out of our reach. And that is why space adventures will always appeal to us in one form or another.

The Last Star Warden is a Good Guy. He is a lawman dedicated to doing The Right Thing, even if the modern worlds around him don't necessarily know what that is. He's a mortal man, alone in this quest save for his friend and one-time enemy, Quantum. The Lone Ranger had Tonto, Batman had Robin, Captain America had Bucky (and later the Falcon), and the Phantom had Guran. The Last Star Warden has Quantum, an inter-dimensional alien with a mind like a supercomputer.

Together, they battle the Bad Guys, wherever they find them. They're soldiers fighting The Good Fight.


Images (top to bottom):

Book cover image by Melrose Dowdy.

The Sun Smasher title card illustration by Jason J. McCuiston.

City of the Mad God title card illustration by Jason J. McCuiston.

Author Jason J. McCuiston.

The Haunted Station title card illustration by Jason J. McCuiston.

Clayton Moore as the Lone Ranger riding Silver, and Jay Silverheels as Tonto riding Scout. February 3, 1956. From Wikimedia Commons.

Batman from a model cel for the Super Friends cartoon, 1973-1978. From Worthpoint.

Captain America from Marvel Directory. Unknown date.

The Phantom from The Ghost Who Walks Fandom. Unknown date.

The Last Star Warden's ship illustration by Jason J. McCuiston.

Space Ghost Coast-to-Coast!