Author Notes and Introduction
(links at bottom of page)
This lovely screen capture was graciously sent to me by Janis Whitcomb from the episode, "Señor China Boy".
Pacific Odyssey (originally titled
Shanghai Passage) was the second Zorro story that I wrote. It was written in the space of a month and was the longest
story that I had written until I did Memories in the Dust this
past year. And it
continues to be one of my favorites.
I kept it pretty much unread for the past four years because at
one time I had this crazy notion that I might be able to publish it.
I would prefer that it give some enjoyment to a few people than
to sit in the limbo of a disk for another four years.
The novel has undergone several edits, the most
drastic, recently as I realized that for all its 265 pages, it was still
not very detailed. I did
some more research and added more to the story, including several new
I want to thank two people who have been most instrumental in the development of this story. Pat Dodez, my former library aide, was my first beta reader, so very long ago, and Keliana Baker (along with her son, Matt) was my second. In fact, Kel has beta read it twice, the original story and the revised edition. I also am indebted to my friends on the GWwritersforum, who edited my chapters with many colored cyber-pens. My sincerest thanks to everyone.
This story probably has an unrealistic time
frame. I was only, at best,
able to guess lengths of time of the various events, and because of the
great distances involved, I have had to ignore some historical events.
I didn’t pinpoint a time for the beginning and the end of the
story, just specific actions, such as the distance from the rescue at
sea to the landing in Canton. I
guessed that the shortest time this entire story could have taken place
might have been six months, but that, too, could be unrealistic.
Someone said, (Keliana, I think), when you have to choose between
the story and history, you take what you have and go with the story.
That is what I have done.
This tale came about when I watched the episode
of Zorro called “Señor China Boy.”
That story entranced and mesmerized me.
It seemed so very different then the rest of the episodes. Pacific Odyssey is a sequel to that story, although
that is not apparent at the outset.
I hope that my depictions of Chinese life, culture and the people are semi-accurate. If not, I have tried to be sympathetic, at least. The Chinese names were taken from real names encountered when I was doing the research. In most of my research, the family name comes first and the first or given name, last. That is the way I kept it here, even though there were a few sources that used the western custom of first, then last name. Also used was the custom in the ‘old days’ of not giving the children proper names when they are young. The wife’s family name is also different then the husband’s.
I hoped for semi-accuracy, as well, in my
depiction of life on board a ship in the early 1800’s.
However, despite the fact that several sources mentioned that
sailors were often treated more like animals on board ship than human
beings, my sailors have a certain amount of leeway and freedom.
There were a few times when information seemed contradictory. In those cases, I just tried to go with the most reliable source and with the flow of the story telling. There are a few things that I had to guess at and some that most likely wouldn’t have happened, such as the idea that the European trade envoys would have their families with them. But the possibility was there and it felt right for the story.
Diego/Zorro, Tornado, Alejandro, Bernardo and all the rest of the WD pantheon were borrowed with much gratitude. George Bowman, John Beatty, Leiching, Qing Kang Zhu, Zhaou Haifang, Victoria, do Santos and the others were created in my own devious little mind and may be borrowed after slight negotiation….
I used the following materials in my quest for some form of accuracy and realism:
World Book Encyclopedia: general
information on places such Singapore and the Hawaiian Islands, on ships
Oxford and National Geographic Atlases:
distances and topography in China, general idea of the voyage, etc.
Various juvenile books on China to get a general
feel for the culture, history and people, including Great
Civilizations; China by Beth McKillop, Homesick, by Jean
Fritz, Karate and Kung Fu by Kevin Casey, and others.
More detailed examination was made of the
Stephen Biesty’s Cross-Sections; Man of War.
New York: Dorling Kindersley, 1993.
Alexandria, Virginia: Time-Life Books, 1986.
The Heart of the Dragon. Boston:
Houghton Mifflin, 1985.
Elementary Chinese Readers, 1.
People’s Republic of China: Foreign Languages Press, 1983.
Fairbanks, John King.
The Great Chinese Revolution, 1800- 1985.
New York: Harper and
“Medicinal Herbs in Chinese Medicine.” Innerself Magazine,
The East Indiamen. Alexandria,
Virginia: Time-Life Books, 1980.
Scott, William D.
Chinese Kung-Fu (Kenpo): An Introduction.
Vermont: Charles L.
Tuttle Company, 1976.
Because of all the terminology involved, below is a glossary of terms and words. A rough diagram of an East Indiaman follows the glossary.
weight down in the bottom of the ship that kept it upright. Usually that consisted of a layer of loose stones, called
shingles that were spread on top of flat bricks of iron called pigs.
very lowest part of the ship; the small space below the ballast.
Often water collected there and became foul.
Other things might seep down into the bilges, too.
It became necessary at times to clean out the area in the keel
and it was dangerous as well as dirty work.
of the ship
the dining room for the officers and important guests.
a cargo ship of a basic design used extensively by most of the
European countries. It was
not known for its smooth ride. In
the later years of its rule of the commercials seas, most English East
Indiamen made money by taking passengers to the various outposts of the
Empire. Schooners and steam ships began replacing them by the mid
Foot ropes: ropes that run alongside the yards
to allow sailors to stand while furling, or tying up, the sails.
Forecastle: top of the front end, or bow, of the
ship; a raised section of deck at the bow.
Foremast: the mast in front, or bow of the ship.
The Pinyin spelling of the Chinese name for Canton.
Hong: A Chinese merchandising house, usually
backed by the government. They
had to put their seal of approval on exports and imports.
Keel: bottom of the ship, usually in a V- shape.
That along with the ballast in the bottom of the keel, keeps the
ship upright and balanced.
Kowtow: This usually involves kneeling and
placing one’s forehead to the ground in obeisance to another of higher
type of sail used on most oriental ships and boats.
It was set more ‘sideways’ than the traditional European
Mainmast: the main, and usually largest mast of
a three-masted ship like an East Indiaman.
The mainmast was the middle mast.
Each mast (except for the mizzen, which had a spanker sail
closest to the deck) had three main sails, (from the deck), the sail,
the topsail and the topgallant sail.
Mizzenmast: was the back mast, located at the
Qi: the vital energies that must remain in
balance for the human body to be healthy.
It is part of the philosophy of Traditional Chinese Medicine,
which uses herbs and acupuncture to restore healthy vigor and vitality. TCM as opposed to Western medicine is a non-invasive form of
conservative practitioners of TCM would never consider surgery. TCM is very complicated.
Please see the bibliography for sources.
Quarterdeck: a raised section, or deck of the
ship at the stern.
Papist: Derogatory slang for someone who is Catholic, who holds the Pope as their leader and head of religion. Common term after England’s split with the Church.
Poopdeck: a raised section, a deck above part of
the quarterdeck at the far end of the stern.
Port or larboard: left side of the ship.
Ratlines: rope ladders that run from the deck to all parts of the yards and masts.
Sandwich Islands- What we now know as the
Starboard: right side of the ship.
Stern: back of the ship.
Supercargo: equivalent of a cargo master.
word for martial arts. This
is a generic term encompassing all of the martial arts/fighting skills.
The most prevalent form seemed to be Kung Fu.
Yardarm: the end of the yard.
Yards: the horizontal poles that hold the sails.
This is the what I used to visualize daily life on board Diego's ship. I gratefully used a basic drawing from The East Indiamen, a Time-Life Book and added the labels and lines.