Sphinx Daybreak
a science fiction novel
by Robert Wilfred Franson

September 2018
Kindle Direct Publishing: ebook
KDP Print: quality paperback

The Peoples of the Air Sphinx Daybreak - Alma-Tadema painting, 2018

Fame requiring great risks;
Longevity via philosophy and the Great Health;
Immortality carrying vast responsibility;
... and, for all of these:
Individuality — too much, or too little?

Here we have history as it wasn't seen:
a clash of cultures in the airs above the Earth,
and dark and bright spaces wider than worlds,
hidden beyond tapestries older than the Pyramids.

And, for devilishly tempting ambition,
we see how all of Faust I & II fits on the edge of twilight,
shown simultaneously on the linear dream-stage.

You haven't read another novel like this one.

Before the Wright Brothers opened the era of mechanical, powered flight in 1903, the daytime skies above the Earth were populous and busy. In the Middle Air were hidden the vast sunny cloudland of the Walking-Deck and smaller cloud-isles like Athenaeum and Swan, inhabited by humans since the fall of Troy and by aircats longer than that. In the Lower Air was the gossamer swirl of Springfolden, inhabited for long millennia by the more-or-less intelligent etherine vortices whom men called djinn.

Yet in the Nineteenth Century, volcanic turbulence disintegrated Springfolden and later burnt the Walking-Deck. In 1904, the long-lived Luftmenschen — both humans and aircats — were coming to terms with the wreckage of their comfortable way of life; as the djinn in their own way were as well.

Hendrik Rheinallt, a veteran in his youth of the New Model Army in the English Civil War, was a leader in redefining and redirecting the Luftmensch philosophy of life and action. His aircat friend Arahant and other colleagues and allies were one by one regaining optimism and energy — but so were the hostile djinn.

Strange new lands and spaces beckoned — new kinds of lands and spaces. Then the Sphinx (no, not that one) awakened her dreams from caged sleep, and began re-forming loyalties.


In summation:

A deep & fanciful secret history;
  a playfully philosophical adventure;
    a soaring flight of imagination —
with exotic humans, aircats, & djinn,
  on a stage of romance as vast as the sky,
    and beyond — right off the map.


Sphinx Daybreak is an Overflight novel: science fiction (or fantasy, if you prefer — but there is no magic, simply ethereal science).

225,000 words.

The print version is a 6"x9" quality paperback; 604 pages. ISBN: 978-1720240068

Cover painting: "A Coign of Vantage" by Lawrence Alma-Tadema, 1895.


Please see these reviews at Troynovant —

Dean M. Sandin on Sphinx Daybreak.

Raymond J. Ford on Sphinx Daybreak.



On "willing suspension of disbelief":

During the first year that Mr. Wordsworth and I were neighbours, our conversations turned frequently on the two cardinal points of poetry, the power of exciting the sympathy of the reader by a faithful adherence to the truth of nature, and the power of giving the interest of novelty by the modifying colours of imagination. ...

In this idea originated the plan of the 'Lyrical Ballads'; in which it was agreed, that my endeavours should be directed to persons and characters supernatural, or at least romantic, yet so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Biographia Literaria, Chapter XIV, 1817


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    Part I. Riddles of Height and Sunshine
  1. The Swan-Cloud’s Afternoon
  2. Omens of Fire and Fortune
  3. The New Century Party
  4. Knowledge of Causes
  5. Athenaeum Bedecked with Sirens
  6. The Lofting Agency
  7. A Map of the Dark
  8. London Air & Tube
  9. An Ethereal Photograph
  10. Why Choose Misrule?
  11. In the Presence of the Sultana
  12. The Sultana's Truce
  13. Campaigners in the Lower Air
  14. Contraband Merriment
  15. Flirting with Secrets
  16. The Keep-Out Pillar
  17. The Sun Is the Source of Heat
  18. Solar Artillery
  19. Presenting the Deep Lens
  20. The Djinn Gate
  21. Aboard Flying Dutchman
  22. The Lady Thinks of Turning
  23. Eventide Dream-Pageants
  24. At the Daybreak Meridian
  25. Tapestries of Alinement
  26. The Castle Armed by Dawn
  27. Part II. Riddles of Nothing and the Edge
  28. Freaks and Forgeries
  29. Everybody Talking about Heaven
  30. To Breathers Outfall
  31. Pharaoh’s Tent
  32. Half-Meadow House: Up-Front
  33. Half-Meadow House: Out-Back
  34. A Sphinx of Two Species
  35. Thoughts out of Eden
  36. Whose Dreams We Spin
  37. If Gold Rust, What Shall Iron Do?
  38. The Conventional Future
  39. The General Speaks for Peace
  40. The Free Skies Trapped
  41. Telegraphing the Climax
  42. The Daybreak Symposium
  43. Crystal Fruits of Concord
  44. A Dawn-to-Dusk Plunge
  45. Overnight Crossing
  46. Judging on the Meadow
  47. The Mirror of the Nile
  48. Breathless Loyalty
  49. The Veil and the Vault
  50. The Balance of the Day
  51. The Hintersolar Gate
  52. Overhang the Gulf of Dark


If solitude hath ever led thy steps
To the shore of the immeasurable sea,
    And thou hast lingered there
    Until the sun’s broad orb
Seemed resting on the fiery line of ocean,
Thou must have marked the braided webs of gold
    That without motion hang
    Over the sinking sphere;
Thou must have marked the billowy mountain clouds,
Edged with intolerable radiancy,
    Towering like rocks of jet
    Above the burning deep;
    And yet there is a moment,
    When the sun’s highest point
Peers like a star o’er ocean’s western edge,
When those far clouds of feathery purple gleam
Like fairy lands girt by some heavenly sea;
Then hast thy rapt imagination soared
Where in the midst of all existing things
The temple of the mightiest Daemon stands.

    Yet not the golden islands
That gleam amid yon flood of purple light,
    Nor the feathery curtains
That canopy the sun’s resplendent couch,
    Nor the burnished ocean waves
    Paving that gorgeous dome,
    So fair, so wonderful a sight
As the eternal temple could afford.
The elements of all that human thought
Can frame of lovely or sublime did join
To rear the fabric of the fane, nor aught
Of earth may image forth its majesty.
Yet likest evening’s vault that faëry hall;
As heaven low resting on the wave it spread
    Its floors of flashing light,
    Its vast and azure dome;
And on the verge of that obscure abyss,
Where Crystal Battlements o’erhang the gulf
Of the dark world, ten thousand spheres diffuse
Their lustre through its adamantine gates.

Percy Bysshe Shelley
"The Daemon of the World", 1815

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