From his early beginnings of working at small presses and as a paperboy for the Argus-Courier, Petaluma writer Daedalus Howell has spent his career in the newspaper/media industry as an editor, screenwriter, author and columnist, so it’s no surprise that his experience would be a source of inspiration for a book.
Howell’s new novel, “Quantum Deadline,” is set in a town that may seem familiar to Petalumans — but with a twist. “Quantum Deadline” takes place in a town called Lumaville, which is Petaluma in an alternate universe. The main character, coincidentally named Daedalus Howell, is a struggling journalist seeking professional revival. What both author and main character have in common is a history of navigating the ever-changing world of media; and for Howelll, this began with a call to writing.
“When I was 19, I made a fairly mercenary decision about what I could accomplish artistically,” said Howell. “Having been in bands and having acted in independent movies and that kind of thing, it occurred to me that writing was the only thing I could dependably manifest myself in.”
Howell majored in creative writing at San Francisco State University, worked as the entertainment editor for the Argus-Courier, wrote for film and television in Los Angeles and worked for various other media sources.
“Quantum Deadline” is not his first novel. He wrote a satirical essay collection, “The Late Projectionist” in the late 90s, but “Quantum Deadline” is the first in the “Lumaville Labrynth,” series that Howell describes as “sci-fi-lite,” merging science fiction with darker, investigative fiction.
Set in the Petaluma-esque murky town of Lumaville, “Quantum Deadline” takes the reader through the life of Daedalus Howell, a journalist who has been trying to clear his conscience since his newsroom intern committed suicide via jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge a few years prior. Caught between print and online media worlds, a shift, which runs parallel to that currently grasping the world, the journalist longs for a story to bring him back to relevance. While in his rut, he encounters a lost 11-year native to a seemingly parallel universe. Howell then embarks on a quest to return him to his home and write a groundbreaking story without being killed, recognizing the myriad possibilities of Lumaville and the connection between the lost boy, an old flame and a tech mogul.
Described by Howell’s friend and editor Dmitra Smith, “It’s part ‘Blade Runner,’ part ‘Da Vinci Code,’ part ‘Island of Doctor Moreau’ and part ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,’ if you count mood stabilizers and booze.”
If Lumaville seems dark and murky, well, it is — and the darkness perceived by Howell in Lumaville isn’t far different than that perceived by him in Petaluma throughout his youth.
“Petaluma, for me at least having grown up here, has always had a lingering darkness, one that I find palpable and that I experienced even personally,” says Howell. “I had the sort of odd experience of living next to Polly Klaas. It really eradicated my sense that Petaluma was Mayberry and made very evident to me, as with any town, that there were dark avenues that cast Petaluma in sort of a noir light. I have been intrigued by examining that darkness.”
The darkness of such a place, both in Lumaville and in Petaluma, is something Howell explores not through pure fantasy but rather a protean combination of the two; throughout the story, he draws from his own professional portfolio and from information that can be found on the Internet to create a connection between Lumaville and Petaluma, between his fantasy world and the world we call reality.
What: Author meet-and-greet event with Daedalus Howell
When: 7 p.m. Aug. 28
Where: Copperfield’s Books, 140 Kentucky St.