Review of The Pirates of Sufiro

Pioneering Author Creates Southwestern Sci-Fi Book
Artist of the Week feature article

Review by S. Derrickson Moore
From the Las-Cruces Sun-News
February 20, 1997

David L. Summers comes from pioneer stock and is an astronomer who has published eight research papers and discovered a new [variable] star.

So when he decided to write a book, it isn't too surprising that he created a "Southwestern science fiction novel" about space pioneers who are the first to colonize a distant planet.

The Pirates of Sufiro starts out with a rock 'em, sock 'em battle worthy of the Star Wars genre and then rapidly switches gears to become a kind of Space Family Robinson saga.

The book, which Summers hopes will be the first in a series, charts the fortunes of space pirate Ellison Firebrandt and space immigrant farmers and entrepreneurs as they struggle to make a wilderness home on the unpopulated planet of Sufiro. Discovery of coveted natural resources necessary for space travel turns the potential Eden into a battleground. Greed, exploitation and even slavery threaten desperate emigrants from an overcrowded, depleted Earth.

Pioneer impulses are in the genes for Summers.

"My great-grandparents traveled across the prairies via Conestoga wagon and my grandparents homesteaded in Des Moines, New Mexico, near Raton," Summers said.

He was raised in California, "but I fell in love with this area during a trip to New Mexico and decided to go to school here."

He earned a degree in physics from New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology and enjoyed a varied career before settling on astronomy, according to the book's author notes, which state that Summers has also washed cars, sold ice cream, taught physics and English classes, acted on stage and worked as a television extra."

Last year, he joined the New Mexico State University Astronomy Department, where his duties as an observation specialist include helping to "complete commissioning of the university's one-meter telescope at Apache Point Observatory. My job is to do just about everything that nobody else does in the astronomy department and to complete fine-tuning and oversee day-to-day operation of the telescope."

He is also used to fine-tuning his literary efforts.

"I first sat down at the word processor in 1993 and I wrote the book in about three weeks."

Rewrites took another year and a half, he said, finally fulfilling a goal he had held "since I met Ray Bradbury when I was 17 or so."

The famed science fiction author encouraged him to write and submit short stories, which he did for several years without success.

"Everything seemed to come together with this book," he said.

He had help and support from an in-house agricultural adviser.

"My wife Kumie grew up on a farm near Lansing. Michigan, so she helped with the farming details."

A year and a half ago, the couple welcomed their first child, daughter Myranda.

Summers said concern about the state of the planet was a factor in writing Pirates which is set 1,000 years in the future.

"I guess the book comes down to an expression of both my hopes and fears. Some of my friends do think I've painted a bleak future. I think the thing that will get us into space colonization is that when the Earth becomes severely crowded it will literally push us out."

Summers is currently at work on a sequel "set in the same universe" which will be titled Children of the Old Stars.