I still remember standing in the doorway of the bookstore. Blue carpet stretched out under my feet. Above me, the sandy stone archways of the former cathedral now supported chandeliers and signs and at least one wooden ship with brass fittings and a golden sails. Ten foot tall bookshelves made from old oak mingled with glass cabinets holding rare books, statues and hand-built models. You could walk up to a display of old maps, posters and artwork ripe for a dorm room wall.
And the music, Sonny Rollins style jazz, danced along the walls from an advanced sound system plugged into an old turntable. This was my idea of heaven. So it’s only fitting I’m dreaming the place. It’s hidden is some version of Prague, next to a comic book shop. My fiancée and I discover it and immediately dive into the stacks. She starts browsing, but I dive right to one specific part of the massive Science Fiction & Fantasy section.
It’s in the back, a low shelf topped by a glass display case featuring models of spacecraft held in suspension. The author I want is at the bottom. I sit, cross-legged, on the blue carpet and scan the paperbacks for her name: Pandora Sands
It’s easy to spot her. All of her work is published by DAW books. They feature the bright yellow spines. Her name glows in red while the book titles are solid black. The covers were painted in late 70’s Michael Whelan style. I picked up the thickest of the books. It featured a woman in sphere – some form of anti-grav travel bubble – wearing a brightly colored robe, pointing to the distance. The ground was split like a chessboard. Great towers swept above everyone in he background. In the foreground, beautiful men in sandals and thongs shared the scenes with lizard-like aliens.
Pamela Sands wrote like a combination of Tanith Lee and C.J. Cherryh. Her space operas were adventurous, detailed, sensual and political. They featured a freelance troubleshooter, Lady Stacia DuVare, and her travels across the galaxy. Supposedly, the character was created after meeting Stacia Blake at a Hawkwind concert.
In the end, I put the book back and just stared at the shelf. Even in my head, I knew this was a dream. There was no Pamela Sands, no books like this. They only existed in the mists of my mind. Which is a damn shame. When I woke up I Googled the name, hoping, but there was nothing.
But who knows – maybe she does exist? Or will, some day. And decades from now, an adventurous spirit will find her books tucked away in a used book store built within a church…