Genesis of Sufiro

This week, my publisher made the ebook editions of The Pirates of Sufiro available for free at and As a result, I find myself looking back at the history of the book.

The Pirates of Sufiro got its start at a writer’s workshop at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in 1988. (Has it really been almost 25 years?!) At the workshop, I wrote a short story called “A Quiet Burning in the Darkness” that told the story of a space pirate captain named Ellison Firebrandt who met his comeuppance at the hands of an admiral who had laid a trap for him.

A couple of years later, I wrote a story called “Showdown at Sufiro” that told the story of a lawman who got caught up in a planetary conflict. Part of the back story was that the planet was founded by the pirates of “A Quiet Burning in the Darkness.”

I spent some time trying to sell these two stories without success. I soon came to realize that part of the problem was that the first story really didn’t have a satisfactory ending and the later story had too much back story and also needed a better ending. I realized, in essence, these were two chapters of a novel, but I wasn’t prepared to actually write the novel in 1991.

That changed in 1993. I read The Magic Journey by John Nichols and Time Enough for Love by Robert A. Heinlein back to back. Both novels are fictional histories and I found myself saying, “I could do that!” So, I pulled out my two stories and I began to fill in the blanks, linking the pirate story to the story about the lawman. The result was The Pirates of Sufiro.

Like most new authors, I had no idea what to do with my novel once it was finished. Several friends read it and believed in it. I thought about sending it to publishers, but wasn’t really sure where to begin.

Around that time, my wife was going to graduate school at the University of Arizona and was looking for a final project so she could complete her Masters of Business Administration. She came up with the idea of creating an audio small press and using The Pirates of Sufiro as the first book. My friend William Grother jumped in and gave the book a solid edit. In the meantime, I assembled several friends from Kitt Peak National Observatory and assigned them characters in the book. Once everything was in place, we all gathered around and recorded ourselves reading the book.

I then edited the tapes and we put out the first edition of The Pirates of Sufiro on audio in 1994 with my own artwork on the cover.

As it turns out, our ambitions were ahead of their time. The tapes were expensive for the quality and in 1994 few people seemed interested in buying an audio book that did not exist in print. So, we started looking into making a self-published print edition. About that time, William and I attended a writer’s conference in Tucson and an agent expressed an interest in the book. I tell that part of the story in the post Fifteen Years of Pirates in Print.

So, here we are 24 years after the short story that became chapter one, 18 years after the first audio publication, and 15 years after the first print publication in a whole new world of ebooks. Talk about a science fiction story! Of course, the exciting part is that you can now download the ebook absolutely free!

2 comments on “Genesis of Sufiro

  1. Amy says:

    I still have the original cassette copy 😀 and I’ve enjoyed watching how this novel has morphed from the original manuscript to the current fabulous version. Who knew I’d be content proofing for a famous author back then?


    • Thanks, Amy! You’re one of the very important people who has been there on this wild journey with the pirates! Don’t know if I’d go so far as to say I’m “famous” but the cool part is that the pirates are still around and still capturing people’s imaginations. The anthology Space Battles coming out next month has a whole new story with Firebrandt, Suki and Roberts.

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