The Antagen Chronicles


Mary Carmen’s novel The Antagen Chronicles describes what might have happened if the Wars of the Roses had taken place on the planet of Kristial in the twenty-fourth century. Eddie Antagen, an Earthling who resembles in some ways the English king Edward II, answers a job offer in the New York Times for an administrator for the Kristial island of Wagnerland. Since Eddie is going nowhere in his position with the county government in Kane, Pennsylvania, he sends the king of Kristial his résumé. Receiving no other viable candidates for the job, the king hires Eddie.

Eddie doesn’t live long on Kristial, but his older son, Edward, much like Edward III, takes over his father’s job with enthusiasm. He murders his mother’s paramour, finds an Earthling woman with a substantial dowry, sires a dozen children, and sets in motion the events that lead to terrible conflicts among his progeny. Within a few generations, Henry (Henry IV) has murdered Ricky (Richard II), Ed (Edward IV) has murdered Hank (Henry VI), somebody, probably Henny (Henry VII), has murdered two youngsters including Teddy (Edward V), Henny has murdered Dick (Richard III), and Harry (Henry VIII) has murdered his wives and their friends.

The king is outraged, but not enough to do anything about it right away. Before Eddie’s arrival, he had been living in a tumbledown castle and wearing his royal grandfather’s hand-me-downs. As soon as Edward had established all services required for the immigration of Earthlings to Wagnerland, significant cash from those immigrants started to pour into the royal coffers. By the time Ricky took over the job of Governor General of Wagnerland, His Majesty had shored up the castle’s walls, had ordered new clothes, and had bought his own aircraft. Before Harry took over, the king had redecorated the rooms of the castle with jewels on the walls.

Those readers who expect this novel to include yet another disparagement of Richard III will be disappointed. Dick comes across as a fair administrator and a good husband. While Dick did help his father and his brother murder the wimpy Hank, his behavior improved as soon as he took over the job of Governor General.

Sample Chapters

Eddie and Edward, Chapter I

The Antagen family traveled, in 2283, from a modest home in Kane, Pennsylvania, to a dump on the island of Wagnerland on the planet Kristial to begin life with a fresh slate.

Kristial was looking for Earthlings with energy. The advertisement in the New York Times was appealing, especially to Americans who were caught up in the terrible rat race to succeed:

Need a place to call home? A place with clean air, clean water, and guaranteed Ivy League acceptance for your children? The government of Kristial is accepting applications for the position of Governor-General. File your curriculum vitae right now.

“Honey, where’s Kristial?” Eddie Senior asked his wife. “Someplace in Australia?”

Isabella shook her head. “Never heard of it.”

“What the hell,” Eddie said. “Probably better than pushing files around the County Courthouse in Smethport.”

Although Eddie’s CV was nothing anybody in McKean County would look at, he transferred it to the New York Times and put thoughts of Kristial aside.

By 2283 Eddie was in deep trouble. His rudimentary training as a lawyer and his catch-as-catch-can schooling had allowed him to pass the bar examination with no extra points to spare. Furthermore, his four children, Edward, John, Eleanor, and Joanna, were starting to cost him more than his salary at the County and the meager profits from the small jobs he picked up could support. Finally, his boyfriend, Piers, was making threats about needing a significant monetary settlement in order to stay in rural Kane. It was time to move. Anywhere.

Within a week Eddie had accepted the job of Governor-General at a salary of nearly double his gross at McKean County.

“Yes, housing is provided,” he told Isabella. “And transportation to and from.”

“Where is this place?” she demanded.

“It’s out there somewhere,” Eddie told her, waving toward the roof of the house. “You’ns will get on a spacecraft and it will land in three months. Who cares where.”

“And the Ivy League perquisite? Is that certain? For all four kids?”

“Weeeeel,” Eddie hesitated. “It’s for certain, for all four kids, but it’s Columbia.”

With the flooding of the eastern shore of the United States of America in the 2080s had come many changes. The relocation and essential collapse of Columbia University had been a casualty of that great earth change. Columbia had been moving from place to place and was, in 2283, occupying a ten-story office building in central Nebraska.

Isabella made it her business to find out more about Kristial. She discovered the planet, about twice the diameter of Earth, was located in the Wallinger galaxy and was a satellite of the star Entrogena. Of the seventy-two planets orbiting Entrogena, it was the twenty-ninth from the star and one of only seven that could support carbon life forms.

The intelligent entities on Kristial were called Kristians. These were enormous, human-like beings with large heads and matchstick-like legs, uniformly colored like coffee with double cream. If the gravity on Kristial had been as heavy as the gravity on Earth, the Kristians would have developed decent muscular structure in their extremities, but they were just perfect for life on their own planet.

The land masses on Kristial were disparate. Fifty islands, each of about one hundred thousand square miles, appeared to float on the single great ocean. The prime real estate, those islands around the equator, was entirely developed, but the island of Wagnerland, where the lucky Antagen family was assigned, was essentially barren. That island, just ninety-eight thousand square miles in area, was in the northern hemisphere, about equidistant between the equator and the planet’s north pole.

What is the job of the Governor-General of a barren, unpopulated island? Isabella carefully read Eddie’s contract and found he would be a General-Dogsbody, spending his tenure cajoling various contractors to come to Wagnerland to install roads, water pipes, electrical wiring, and parks. She would have the glorious title of Deputy to the Governor-General, which meant she would do most of the work while Eddie trolled for his usual entertainments.

The children would be enrolled in their same schools. They would continue to be annoyed by the same boring teachers and the same meaningless assignments, except at a greater distance. It would take three days for a message to be answered from Earth, which was about the same turnaround time messages to teachers took from their home in Kane.

As for clean air, that was guaranteed. Wagnerland was far, far from the pollution of the populated islands.

Clean water was more problematic. A well was being drilled on Wagnerland. Or, it would be drilled as soon as the contract was complete and the family was on the spacecraft. You can’t expend resources too soon, especially since thousands of blockheads had answered the appealing advertisement in the New York Times but so few were interested after all the details were known.

Housing would be Isabella’s main concern, she realized. There was exactly one building on Wagnerland, a structure that looked like an old aircraft hanger. Isabella had no idea what furnishings were available inside. She knew only that the family could take little other than their clothing on the spacecraft.

By June of 2283 the house was sold and the accumulations of twelve years of family life were stored in a big warehouse in Kane, to be left to the devices of the incompetents who are forced to guard such facilities. Maybe college students in their spare hours. Maybe trollops between sugar daddies.

Isabella was torn between her anxieties about leaving the stable life in Kane and her apprehensions about the situation on Kristial.

Edward was also torn. At ten he was the oldest of the four children and was expected to support his eccentric parents while they hopped all over the universe in search of easy money.

Giving up his friends and his place in the gang was the problem. Now that Ozzie had moved to Cleveland, he was the de facto leader of the five boys. Having people look up to you was important, especially since his siblings thought he was a weirdo. You couldn’t get that kind of respect on a barren island.

And where were the girls? He almost had had a girlfriend in March. Nothing serious, of course, but she had produced several wet dreams. Frightening at first but too satisfying to dismiss.

At least that bum Piers would be out of his life. The constant suggestions about going somewhere alone would be over. Maybe he should have told Eddie and got Piers in trouble.

John was the most contented member of the family when the decision was announced. Maybe he would have a room of his own in the Governor-General’s palace and not have to have his studies continually interrupted by Edward’s noisy friends. Maybe he would be even more likely to graduate at the top of his class if he didn’t have to contend with the games’ master and his constant complaints about lack of coordination and paucity of team spirit.

Eleanor was probably the most upset about the move. She was only six and quite a favorite with her mother’s parents. The news that the grandparents could visit Kristial in three years was of no consolation. Why couldn’t she stay in Kane with Nana and Pappa and visit Kristial herself in three years?

Joanna at four was unconcerned. She could take six toys, and she needed to make a decision about which ones. Did a set of nested dolls count as one? Or three?

Eddie spent that last month finishing up his work, in his fashion. It was good the County had assigned such a competent young person to take over his caseload. How much better it would be to just ask for continuances and let that eager beaver finish the work. No murderers were going to walk the streets. Nobody ever murdered anybody in McKean County, not since all likely suspects were required to wear tracer anklets. The rich kids wore them, too, and so did the kids of the hoi polloi, decorating them with manmade jewels. You couldn’t tell the quality from the riffraff any more.

Piers was disgruntled. He looked for work, but nobody needs an overdressed, snooty English literature major with two convictions for child molestation. Even Isabella’s parents had been unable to furnish a reference or to allow him to use, for just a week or two, their spare room.

Buster the Cat knew something was up. His carrying case had come out of the utility room, and he had been lugged, howling, to get a series of inoculations at the veterinarian’s office. It would be a great honor to be the first feline on Kristial, but all Buster had to show for it so far was a sore rump.

Hank, Chapter V

By 2408 Hank was still supporting the war with Franrovia, although little success had been gained in the previous ten years.

Suffolk, still a valued senior advisor after seven years, recommended a marriage with the niece of the current Governor-General on Franrovia. This was Margaret, a reported beauty.

“How about that girl on Wagnerland you lined up for me a number of years ago?” Hank asked. “Don’t we have some obligation there? Shouldn’t I meet this girl? Not be impressed? Let her down easily?”

Beaufort was not worried. “We can just send a note saying that you were interested before but you are not interested any longer.”

“Seems very unchristian, doesn’t it?” Hank asked. “This girl is now nearly twenty, almost too old to find another match.”

“I’ll find somebody in the Beaufort family to introduce to her,” Beaufort replied. “Your father made all of us entirely legitimate and gave us property.”

“Well, if you can make that engagement go away without any hurt feelings, I will look toward this Margaret,” Hank said.

Hank was not particularly interested in marriage, but he knew a Governor-General without an heir was in a very vulnerable position, especially since his cousin Richard was an outspoken critic of his policies. Although Hank felt, at twenty-three, he had plenty of time to weigh his marital options, he knew the health of his soul required him to make peace with Franrovia.

Trusting few, Hank sent Suffolk to talk to the girl and her uncle.

A very disadvantageous deal was struck. Hank could marry Margaret and their heirs could inherit the Governor-General’s job on Franrovia, but no dowry would be included. In addition, Hank would need to give up, for now, two territories on Franrovia that the family’s efforts had won in military actions over the decades. These territories were Maine and Anjou.

Hank, Chapter VI

Margaret was not happy about the plans, either. She had just turned fourteen and was looking forward to going back to Earth for four years to attend Grier School in Tyrone, Pennsylvania, and then perhaps to spend another four years at Juniata College in Huntington, just down the road from Grier.

“That drip? I saw him three years ago in Wilsonian, and he looked as if he had just taken a fucking vow at a monastery,” she wailed to her father, René.

“They say he is very generous to those who support him,” René replied. “You have to understand that your uncle is a big shot on Franrovia and he’s doing everything to get those Wagnerland thugs out of his territory.”

“But why does this involve me? How is this my problem?”

“Your uncle has very few bargaining chips,” the father said. “You have attracted the eye of one of Hank’s lieutenants, Suffolk. He thinks you would be just right for the young man.”

“I would be just right for anybody. That’s my position, and you have to have some better incentive for me to give up the fun I was planning to have on that trip to Earth,” Margaret replied. “I hate you, you asshole! You could have just told your brother to go to hell!”

“Settle down, now, honey,” René begged. “Your position on Wagnerland will require you to be sweet and kind to everybody, just like you are treated here.”

“Well, I’m not going to go to bed with that bastard,” Margaret insisted. “He looks like a creep, and I don’t want his hands all over me.”

“You wouldn’t need to go to bed with him right away, sweetheart, but the sooner you produce one or two sons, the sooner you can take a vacation. Maybe a nice trip to Earth. Maybe a couple of years back here with your mother and me,” René proposed.

“But what’s in it for me right now?”

“Your uncle has given you the loan of some jewelry, for as long as you stay in Wagnerland,” René replied. “He’s bringing them for you to look over tomorrow. A real nice set of pearls. A diamond choker. Things like that.”

“Bullshit! I want a gift, not a loan! Something I can keep!”

“I’ll talk to your uncle, honey.”

Within two days a thirty-six-inch string of pearls and an eighteen-inch diamond necklace were officially transferred to Margaret, with only one condition, that she marry Hank and live with him on Wagnerland for ten years or until his death, whichever came first.

Hank, Chapter VII

On Wagnerland Hank was concerned about a special greeting for his bride. There was nothing about the palace that would impress such a highborn woman, Hank believed. However, a circus or an opera or a symphony concert in her honor would be something the staff could put together. Artists could be brought from Wilsonian to that fancy outdoor amphitheater in the northwest corner where all the wealthy Earthlings lived. Entities from all over the island could be invited, and perhaps the duke would make a special trip from Wilsonian. Then, a reception afterwards, with light refreshments for the low-class guests and a substantial meal for the important people.

Within a year the plans were in place, and Margaret landed in Cenecan on April 23, 2409. After a brief wedding ceremony, witnessed only by her parents and Suffolk and his wife, Alice, the bridal party separated.

“Alice Suffolk will be your hostess, my dear,” Hank told his bride. “You will stay there until after the festivities. Then, you can move to the palace, taking any room you like.”

“I want to see this palace right now,” Margaret insisted.

René quickly said, “I am sure Hank’s plans will be very fine, my dear. We can go with Mrs. Suffolk and return later.”

“I’ll see it now, Daddy,” Margaret said, standing firm.

“Very well.”

“And where was your cousin Richard? I understood from my uncle you two were tight?” Margaret asked.

“The witnesses at the wedding were just my very closest advisor and his wife, the granddaughter of Earth’s most famous poet,” Hank said. “Richard will be at the circus.”

“Crap! Is that the entertainment? We have better circuses in Anjou than anywhere else on Kristian,” she told her bridegroom. “Can’t you put together a bullfight?”

“I believe bullfights are terribly stressful for the bulls, my love,” Hank replied.


The tour of the palace did not go well, either. Margaret outlined remodeling that needed to be done and redecorating that could not wait. Alice Suffolk, always a practical person, estimated the changes would cost over $500,000, more than Eddie had spent to build the place.

Hank, Chapter VIII

After six months of wedded bliss, Margaret was ready to go home.

“I’m supposed to produce sons,” she wailed to Alice, “but that man has not been inside my bedroom. I ask him, perhaps once a week, if he wants me to visit him in his bedroom, but the reply is always the same.”

“What does he say, honey?” Alice asked.

“He says we don’t know each other well enough yet.”

“Perhaps he is concerned about your youth,” Alice guessed. “He is much older than your fifteen years.”

“Shit! I need to get this show on the road,” Margaret told Alice. “I need to get these buns in the oven so I can go home.”

“Perhaps Suffolk and I should move to the palace, to help get things started. Perhaps a little wine, a little good brandy, a little champagne.”

“Perhaps a foursome,” Margaret replied.

“Maybe you could help him with his grand plan to set up a college on Wagnerland?” Alice suggested. “He has been talking about it for years, but no site has been identified and no staff members have been hired.”

“That may be the only way I’ll get to college, myself,” Margaret answered. “Shit! I’ll have my name on some dumpy classroom building and no letters behind it.”

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