The criticism I've received since beginning the Roger Stories has certainly not been unexpected. Roger warned me that no one would believe the stories, and I never expected they would be believed.
The most common expression of disbelief I get is about the individuals who are the characters in these stories. A typical one goes like this:
"Mark, I cannot believe there are any such people as you have described in your Roger Stories. I have never met anyone who is remotely like any of them, and I don't think I would like them if I did."
I'm sure the writer of that criticism is both sincere and correct. It is very unlikely that he, or almost anyone else, has ever met anyone quite like the people in the Roger Stories. They are very unusual people, and very rare. The characters in the Roger stories are not the only one's like them in this world, there are other independent individualists, but individualists are, by their very nature, not "socializers" and not likely to be known by the kind of people who are.
One critic wanted to know how I could be interested in such obvious narcissistic, narrow-minded, self-righteous, prigs. I told him I forgave them because they were my friends, and because I myself am a narcissistic, narrow-minded, self-rightous, prig.
One writer explained, "I make it a point to meet everyone I can of importance in business, politics, the arts, and academia, and I have never met anyone like the characters in your Roger Stories." I did not have the heart to tell her she would never meet anyone like my friends because they would avoid her like the plague, because she is exactly the kind of person my friends would not only have no interest in, but would find unbearably boring.
I know most people never will believe there are such people as Margo, Franz, Jo, Frank or even my own Sally, but for those who not only know there are such people in this world, and may be independent individualists themselves, I'm going to provide a brief description of all my friends so you will know them when you meet them, either in the Roger Stories, or perhaps in real life.
Sally and I sometimes refer to these friends as Roger's, "inner circle," which is not totally correct. Almost all of these friends were originally introduced to each other by Roger Conant, and most of our interaction with each other was at various kinds of gatherings with Roger or at Roger's estate. Since Roger's leaving, four others have been added to our special circle of friends, the Barretts and their two children.
There is one other thing I must mention about Roger's "inner circle." It is not an organization or some kind of club and it is not something the individuals have joined. There is no "ultimate objective" except the ultimate goal of each individual. The relationships between us are the result of each individual choosing that relationship because of the value they derive from it. Though we sometimes refer to ourselves as "we" or "us" there are only individual private goals, and such cooperative efforts as might be made are only those we choose for our own individual benefit. I cannot overemphasize, however, the reason we have the relationships we have and do so many things together is because we all find in each other the kind of persons we can truly value and love.]
[NOTE 2: If you haven't read most of the Roger Stories preceding this description of characters, the descriptions may spoil some of the surprises in those stories. Also, so I won't have to repeat it for every character, it may be taken for granted that everyone described is an independent individualist. If you are not sure what an independent individualist is, it is anyone who has never surrendered their nature as a human being as described by Roger in the story entitled, "What's Wrong With The World?," and by Peter in the story entitled, "Peter, Jo, and Philosophy."]
The Characters Described
Francesca [Frank] Danco
Irene [Dempsey] Dempsey
Sally [Sal] (formerly Westfield) Halpern
Joanne [Jo] Fitzgerald Tylor
A Summary Of Our Friends (and Us Too)
Bill Barrett, and his wife, Sarah, and their two children, Roxanne and John, where discovered and introduced to us by Frank. Bill Barret is a computer and electronics engineer who designs the communication system that will become very important.
John Barrett is the son of Bill and Sarah Barret, a handsome and normally inquisitive boy and younger brother of Roxanne.
Roxanne Barrett is the daughter of Bill and Sarah
Barret, a very pretty and precocious girl and older sister of John. It was Roxanne who originally drew Frank's attention to the Barretts.
Sarah Barrett is the wife of Bill Barrett and mother of Roxanne and John, whom she regards as her first job, and most satisfying one, raising children to be competent self-sufficient individuals capable of enjoying their lives, but as her second job, she is also a computer engineer and programmer who helps Bill, and works for Frank.
Ned Carpenter is popularly recognized as a shadowy underworld figure (but not by us). He acts as a kind of enforcer against all kinds of threats to those who he regards worthy of such protection. He is also a kind of intelligence resource with endless connections, it seems, in both the underworld and the world of politics, of which he says, "there is not much difference."
Roger Conant is at the center of all the stories. Though human, he is not from planet earth, but one of the multitude of humans living in the universe, intentionally hidden from this world, because the population of this world is considered evil and dangerous. The stories of course are about him and those he directly and indirectly influenced, who know him and love him. Roger leaves the earth before the end of the stories, but is part of every story even after his departure.
Francesca [Frank] Danco is the famous copper mining heiress and "Empress" of the Danco mining empire. Frank is an elegant woman and a close personal friend of Sally, as well as the subject of the Roger Story entitled, "The Family d'Anconia."
Irene [Dempsey] Dempsey is a stunning red-haired motocycle-riding mechanical wizard who is the source of endless surprises. Dempsey is the only other non-earth human any of us know.
Andrew Fitzgerald—Roger's personal valet, butler, and invaluable organizer who continues to run the estate (Roger's) after Roger leaves and Mark and Sally move in. Though no one knows it yet, Andrew is going to be one of the biggest surprises to all of us.
Mark Halpern is the husband of Sally Halpern, formerly Sally Westfield, international business magnate, and most wonderful woman in the world. I know, because I am Mark Halpern, and besides having the loveliest wife in the world, I also have the privilege of writing the Roger stories.
Sally (Sal) Halpern is the former Sally Westfield,
beautiful and self-made millionaire, regarded as the world's most successful hospitality industry magnate with hotels, spas, and resorts world-wide. Now she's the wife of me, Mark Halpern. Don't ask me how it happened (even though I've written about it, I still don't understand it).
Joel Rice, I know, is a Texas rancher, and very rich from oil, but I know little about his actual business, or even much about his history. I know that he and Roger were involved in shipping together some years ago, and Ned told me he could tell me some stories about adventures they had, but he has not told me any of those stories yet. Joel was the husband of Rena Rice.
Rena Rice, was the wife of Joel Rice, a lovely woman everyone loved. She was apparently as much a part of Roger's adventures as her husband, but I'm sorry I know little more about it. Rena passed away shortly before Roger left, and though this doesn't really belong here, when I mentioned to Joel how much we all missed Rena, he said, "Oh, I miss her too, in a way, but what we had we'll always have, because it is forever, and nothing, not even death, can ever change it."
Margo Sawyer is a writer and was, perhaps, the closest of all earth-humans to Roger. She loved Roger as a man, though she called that love hopeless, and Roger apparently loved her too, though he never expressed it except in the few brief moments before he left. Margo is perpetually hilarious, though her humor is always sarcastic—she never lacks for a comment or quip that stings with the truth, her black eyes sparkling and bobbed black hair making her the picture of the imp she is. Her love in this world, which is not at all hopeless, is the flamboyant Franz.
Ruth Sparberger is as unpretentious as anyone I have ever known, a quality that is sometimes mistaken for humility, which Ruth would find absolutely revolting. She is, after all a Billionaire, author of three infamous series of children's books. She is truly a brilliant women not only creative but bursting with knowledge—a true polymath, and a delight to know.
Peter Sterling is a writer of satire and criticism but his true love and vocation is philosophy, which he refuses to write for a world, he says, is not worthy of it. Nevertheless, his philosophy will be written, by Jo, who has fallen in love with his philosophy, and Peter as well.
Joanne [Jo] Fitzgerald Tylor Formerly a libertarian and feminist whom Roger took under his wing, so to speak. She gave up writing and discovers her real love is for philosophy, and for the philosopher Peter Sterling and apparently the love is mutual. We have all encouraged Jo to consider returning to writing her own work.
Franz Wolfe is a flamboyant writer of satirical works mocking academics, artists, politicians, and international financiers. He's desperately in love with Margo, who, fortunately for him, loves him as well.
Not Exactly Characters
NatAlSec (National Alien Security Agency), which combines Homeland Security, TSA, and some other agencies to carry out a campaign to discover the aliens. Their mandate is to determine the origin of every individual in the country. There is a UN version called International Alien Security Agency (INatAlSec) doing the same world-wide.
AWTS (Asymetrical Wave Transmission System), invented by Bill Barrett. AWTS provides untraceable totally secure transmission of any kind of data between any AWTS units.