pix of D. Turner

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The Author  

The son of a diplomat, Daniel Turner grew up in various Asian cities including Nanjing, Qingdao, Bangkok, Tokyo, and Mumbai. He studied construction economics and became an consultant specializing in the economic feasibility of hotels and shopping centers. Ten years later a chance opportunity led to a second career in software and on-line services for the real estate industry. His first SF novel, Twillinger's Voyage, features the same background setting as Friendly Invasion, with two of the same characters -- Jerry Twillinger and Obilunk. While the two novels might be considered a "series," they have independent plots and major characters.
  Both books draw heavily on the author's personal experience. Set forth below are brief accounts of experiences in his life that are conceptually worked into Friendly Invasion.

Flying Saucer Sighting

At about age 15, after a few hours of fishing for porgies on the south shore of Gardiners Bay near the end of Long Island, I noticed an oval blip moving at high speed in the northern sky above the bay. It was moving so fast I thought it was quite low, but it was soundless as it passed overhead with no features aside from circular shape and odd glowing colors, so I concluded it was very high up moving at immense speed. In half a minute it was gone, disappearing behind low trees on shore to the south. For years thereafter I had trouble fitting this sighting into my mental model of the world as we expect it to be. But then I saw a video documentary about UFOs where many of the flying objects caught on camera looked similar to the one I had seen, and several were substantially identical right down to the red-orange phosphor on the lower side and the greenish trace around the top. Were all those sightings random instances of some worldwide mass hallucination?...an incredibly high-speed phosphorescent weather balloon?...or what?

Amnesia

The amnesia discussion in Chapter 17 is based on an accident I had at age 18, when I was knocked unconscious. When I came to I had no idea where I was or what my name was. Ten minutes after the accident, the first person I came across was my mother, but I didn't recognize her. Hiding my nameless vulnerability I responded to what seemed to be implied in her words and actions, and soon figured out what our relationship must be. When she addressed me by name I picked up that essential item of information, and within a few hours managed to recover a general picture of my other relationships, too. But one giant mystery remained: how are human relationships stored - including the relationship one's consciousness has with one's own name? And why is access to those relationships so fragile that it's temporarily banished by a severe knock on the head? And why had this relational aspect of normal functionality been missing when all my animal functions were perfectly intact, as was my understanding of language? Eventually, it seemed obvious that elements of personal identity acquired from experience, including my own name, might not be essential to self-consciousness. This realization had deep implications, raising questions that conflicted with my prior view of myself as an essentially unified entity.

Military Exposure

At age 22 I enlisted in the Marine Corp as a reservist. My first daytime vision occurred during basic training on the parade deck at Parris Island. It was an abstract image of the marching platoon that spontaneously appeared in a visual window and then disappeared a second later. After training, my occupational specialty was airborne avionics maintenance, I worked on the electronics of helicopters and jet fighter/bombers. The military lifestyles, settings and bureaucracy described in Friendly Invasion are all based my experience in the Marine Corps context.

Three Dimensional Eyesight Problem

I had a total of 3 eye operations before I was 8 years old; after 2 failures the 3rd finally straightened out my strabismus (also known as "lazy eye"). I didn't realize I was essentially monocular until age 22, when the Marine Corp gave me a 3-D eye test as a requirement for a license to drive maintenance vehicles at a military airport. The first time I ever saw in 3 dimensions was several years later when I was high on a recreational drug. Oddly, the object I was looking at when binoculation kicked in was the grid-like grille of an air conditioner, which must have stimulated an integration of perspective. The utterly mundane grill seemed absolutely beautiful for the second or two that the experience lasted. Several such episodes have occurred since then, both with and without biochemical inducement. The basic requirement, I suspect, is relaxation of functions employed to focus and see out of just one eye while largely suppressing vision in the other. Could I make binoculation permanent? My guess is that it's possible, but like the monocular Major in Friendly Invasion I'm not keen on putting in the time to make it happen. And I don't have alien pharmacologists ready to mix up the right "catalyst" for therapy sessions.

Unusual Visual Phenomena

In addition to the vision at Parris Island, I've had a number of other daytime visions, each distinctive and memorable. Also, I've met other individuals who report equivalent visions. And of course there are innumerable historical and contemporary reports of people having them. Although the subject may not be apt for scientific investigation, it's an occasional yet persistent aspect of human experience in every society, even our own. Of course if the reader prefers, go ahead and classify visions as hallucinations, or simply call the person who reports one a schizophrenic. I prefer to think of visions as a distinct category because they appear suddenly and unexpectedly; they do not take up the entire field of vision but appear in a "window" surrounded by the normal world out there; they are distinctive and realistic, and they vanish as suddenly as they arrived.

Dream Encounters

In Friendly Invasion one character's report about encountering his grandmother in a dream on the morning she died is based on the experience of my former business partner's wife. Early one morning she woke him up to tell him she had dreamed his grandmother came to implore her to always be nice to him. The grandmother evidently could see what was coming in the future: infidelity by this wife followed by divorce. Perhaps the dream lady somehow imagined she could change what would happen. Later that day my partner received a call from his father to tell him his grandmother had died in the early hours of that morning.

Exposure to Multiple Personality Disorder

Education on the subject of multiple personalities started when, following some unusual circumstances, a friend confessed that she had "MPD." This led to me reading various relevant books. Two were written by people who had the disorder themselves (rather than a disorder, typically, such individuals consider it an adaptation). My ideas about personalities as dreams which can entangle and unify with each other come from those books, and also from my friend who explained that this unification phenomenon had happened with some of her alters. She told me she had 18 of them when she was diagnosed, and when we last discussed her situation she said she was down to 3 that she knew about. We spent about 20 hours, in a dozen sessions, writing a draft account of her life. One aspect of this account supporting the idea of alter personalities as dreams was, when she was growing up, she started having involuntary daydreams about characters that later emerged as her alters. Also, she started "losing time" and having occasional dreamlike real world interactions that were not in keeping with her usual character. Finally, when she was almost 40, she was diagnosed with MPD. Not long after that, on her own initiative she developed contact and working relationships with some of her alters. During the period we were working on her story she told me she had reasonably friendly relationships with the ones that were left, and occasionally played competitive parlor games with them. However, because of the circumstances that terminated our collaboration on her life story, I felt that at least one of them was not well disposed toward me.