Dray Prescot was born in a town in Southern England on the fifth of November, 1775. When he was twelve, his father died, and his mother died soon afterwards, and "alone and friendless, for I had no cousins or aunts or uncles that I knew of, I determined to shake off altogether the dust of my country". Thus did Dray Prescot find himself enlisting in the Royal Navy.
In the navy, life was harsh, brutal, even; and yet Dray Prescot flourished and mastered the trade of the fighting sailor, eventually rising to the rank of Lieutenant. And though his career in the Navy found himself distinguished among his fellow sailors, eventually he found himself despairing of the life, as if it were some sort of meaningless ritual.
About that time, however, his ship (Referred to in Transit to Scorpio as the Rockingham and in Suns of Scorpio as the Roscommon) is wrecked on the shores of West Africa and Dray Finds himself at the mercy of a tribe of headhunters. Though he is able to make his escape, he nevertheless finds himself lost in the jungles of Africa. Delirious and raving, Dray curses the constellation Scorpio, shining high in the night sky, the sign under which he was born. At that moment, the scorpion seems to take on tangible shape; Dray is surrounded in a blue radiance, and finds himself upon the incredible world of Kregen.
I'll stop there, to avoid spoiling anything for potential readers, but I have also included a few pieces from introductions to the Dray Prescot books.
The following is an excerpt from "A Note on Dray Prescot", an introduction that appeared in books 6 to 14, and in shortened forms thereafter in books 19-22. Meant to acquaint the new reader with the main character of the story and a little of his background, they also included some simple details on whichever books were immediately prior to the one being read; these details are left out, in order not to spoil those unread books for those of you who haven't read them, and besides, they changed for every book.
A NOTE ON DRAY PRESCOT
Dray Prescot is a man above medium height, with straight brown hair, and brown eyes that are level and dominating. His shoulders are immensely wide and there is about him an abrasive honesty and a fearless courage. He moves like a great hunting cat, quiet and deadly. Born in 1775 and educated in the inhumanly harsh conditions of the late eighteenth-century English navy, he presents a picure of himself that, the more we learn of him, grows no less enigmatic.
Through the machinations of the Savanti nal Aphrasöe - mortal but superhuman men dedicated to the aid of humanity - and of the Star Lords, he has been taken to Kregen under the suns of Scorpio many times. On that savage and beautiful, marvelous and terrible world, he rose to become Zorcander of the Clansmen of Segesthes, and Lord of Strombor in Zenicce, and a member of the mystic and martial Order of Krozairs of Zy.
... Well, I'll stop there, since I've already gone and spoilt the first two books, for those of you who haven't read them. However, a much more detailed introduction appeared in the first book, which included details on just how we recieved the stories of Dray Prescot on faraway Kregen...
I have listened to the tapes Geoffrey Dean gave me, over and over again, until I feel I know the man Dray Prescot as much through his voice as by what he reveals in what he says. At times deep and reflective, at others animated and passionate with the fire of his recollections, his voice carries absolute conviction. I cannot vouch for the truth of his story; but if ever a human voice invited belief, then this one does.
How the tapes from Africa came into my possession is soon told. Geoffrey Dean is a childhood friend, a gray, prim, dedicated man of fixed habits, yet for the sake of old friendship when he called me from Washington I was glad to speak with him. He is a government man with one of these shadowy organizations related to the State Department and he told me three years ago he had had occasion to go to West Africa to supervise fieldwork in connection with a famine emergency. Many brilliant young men and women go out with the Foreign Aid programs, and Geoffrey told me of one, an idealistic youngster, Dan Fraser, who had been working harder than a man should up-country.
Fraser told Geoffrey that one day when the situation was almost impossible with horrific numbers of deaths daily a man staggered out of the African forest. Men were dying everywhere around and there was nothing unusual in that. But this man was completely naked, badly wounded, and he was white.
I met Geoffrey Dean for lunch on a flying visit to Washington. We ate well at an exclusive club. Geoffrey brought the conversation around to his telephone call and went on to say that Fraser, who had almost lost control, was shaken and impressed, profoundly impressed, by this stranger.
The famine was killing people by the thousand, massive epidemics were being staved off by daily miracles, aircraft were encountering near-insuperable difficulties flying in supplies; yet in the middle of this chaos and destruction of human life Dan Fraser, an idealistic but seasoned field-worker, was uplifted and strengthened by the character and personality of Dray Prescot. He had given Prescot food and water and bound up his wounds. Prescot could apparently live on next to nothing, his wounds healed rapidly, and when he realized the famine emergency resolutely refused any special treatment. In return Fraser handed across his cassette tape recorder in order that Prescot might record anything he wished. Prescot had a purpose, Fraser said he could see.
‘‘Dan said he was saved by Prescot. They were miles from anywhere and he’d been alone. The strength, the calmness, the vitality of Dray Prescot was amazing. He was a little above middle height with shoulders that made Dan’s eyes pop. His hair was brown, and so were his eyes, and they were level and, according to Dan, oddly dominating. Dan sensed an abrasive honesty, a fearless courage, about him. The man was a dynamo, by Dan’s account.’’
Geoffrey pushed the pile of cassettes over to me across that expensive table with the wine glasses and the silver and fine china and the remains of a first-class meal. Outside that exclusive club Washington, the whole of the United States, seemed as far away, suddenly, as the wilderness of Africa from which these tapes had come.
Dray Prescot told Dan Fraser if he did not hear from him inside three years he could do as he saw fit with the tapes. The possibility that they might see publication gave Dray Prescot a deep inner satisfac-tion, a sense of purpose that Fraser felt held more significance than this mysterious stranger would reveal.
Fraser was extremely busy with the famine----I gathered more from what Geoffrey did not say that the end of the boy’s nervous resources was close and only the appearance of Dray Prescot had saved an ugly situation from sliding into a disaster that would have had international repercussions. Geoffrey Dean speaks little of his work; but I believe a great deal of foreign health and happiness is owed directly to him.
‘‘I promised to abide by the conditions laid down by Dan Fraser, who would, in any case, have absolutely refused me permission to take the tapes back to America had he not known I would respect his wishes and the wishes of Dray Prescot.’’
Geoffrey, I had always thought and saw nothing to make me change my mind, had little imagination. He went on: ‘‘That famine was a bad one, Alan. Dan had too much to do. When I arrived, Dray Prescot had gone. We were both hellishly busy. Dan did say that he’d seen Prescot, at night, beneath those African stars, staring up, and he’d felt an unease at the big man’s expression.’’
He touched the cassettes with the tip of his finger.
‘‘So----here they are. You’ll know what to do with them.’’
And so I present in book form a transcript of the tapes from Africa. The story they tell is remarkable. I have edited as little as possible. I believe you will detect from the textual evidence how Dray Prescot swings from the expressions of one age to that of another, freely, without any feeling of anachronism I have omitted much that he says of the customs and conditions of Kregen; but it is my hope that one day a fuller transcript will be possible.
The last cassette ends abruptly in mid-sentence.
The tapes are being published in the hope that anyone who may be able to shed some light on their extraordinary contents will come forward. Somehow, and I cannot explain this, I believe that is why Dray Prescot told his story in the midst of famine and epidemic. There is more to learn of that strange and enigmatic figure, I am confident.
Fraser is a young man dedicated to helping the less fortunate of the world, and Geoffrey Dean a civil servant quite devoid of imagination. I cannot believe that either of them would have faked these tapes. They are presented in the conviction that however much lacking in proof they may be, what they tell is a real story that really did happen to Dray Prescot on a world many millions of miles from Earth.
|Alan Burt Akers|
The Dray Prescot novels are, as you have most likely guessed by now, adventure novels, and they come from a well established genre which includes such series as Tarzan and Conan though perhaps more importantly, the John Carter of Mars series and John Norman's Gor series, with whom the books are often compared. This is because both of these series involve a hero who is somehow transported to a fantastic fantasy world, just as Dray Prescot is.
One of the key differences, however, is that unlike a Conan or a Tarl Cabot, despite his practical no-nonsense viewpoint Dray Prescot is a Moral hero; he has strong values which he strives to uphold, even at great personal cost, such as his position on the abolition of slavery, which causes difficulty on a planet with a slave-driven economy.
It is this quality, more than any other, which makes us admire Dray Prescot, and believe that Dray Prescot needs to emerge victorious, as opposed to something like Conan, whose rather amoral nature often simply makes him the lesser of two evils. Dray Prescot is a hero who we can think deserves to be a hero.
Well, doms and domas, I hope that clears things up a bit! Armed with this knowledge, you may now sally forth and dicover the books of Dray Prescot, and the wild and majestic world of Kregen! I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.