Before he shot his spaceship through a star to probe a cosmic anomaly, Jack Commer resigned as leader of the United System Space Force, elevating physician/engineer Laurie Lachrer to take his place. But now, inexplicably transported onto his doomed ship, she struggles to assert herself as the new supreme commander.

Published by Sortmind Press

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cover art by Kara D. Wilson  | Character Images  | Spaceship Images

A Fool of the Fire copyright 2023 by Michael D. SmithSynopsis

Colonel Laurie Lachrer, just appointed Supreme Commander of the USSF, inexplicably transports to the new Typhoon VIII spaceship where former SCUSSF Jack Commer leads a no-return mission to the Unknown Anomaly at the Center of the Universe. So who’s in charge now, Laurie or Captain Jack who just resigned his commission and turned over all his SCUSSF duties to her so he’d be free to pursue this suicidal stunt?

But the Fools of the Fire who maintain infinite watch over the Anomaly will speak only to Laurie.

Cover for Fathom the Doomboat Stars copyright 2023 by Michael D. SmithIn Jack’s and Laurie’s absence, fascist elements overthrow the United System and jail respected figures from the earlier Jack Commer series. But naïve alien university students on an Alpha Centaurian planet mount a resistance in tandem with Laurie’s robot counterpart, Laurie 283, who designs and builds Pegasus, a state-of-the-art flying saucer weapons platform. Meanwhile Mickey Mal Michaels, a decades-old robot with a malfunctioning Sublayer Four, writes Fathom the Doomboat Stars, “the greatest science fiction novel ever written,” to assert his own control over the narrative.

Main Characters

Supreme Commander Laurie Lachrer copyright 2023 by Michael D. SmithSupreme Commander Laurie Lachrer
Laurie takes up the challenge of being named Supreme Commander of the United System Space Force in May 2076. Her smooth oval face and serious demeanor fool everyone because she seems so placid, so muted and thoughtful, but she’s on top of everything in a way no other USSF officer can touch.  Her stunning blue eyes meet yours and she’s looking right through you as if you’re some Star Drive engine problem which she insists on immediately solving on the spot, at no charge.

Lieutenant Mickey Mal Michaels
The Typhoon I Turret Commander, killed at Mercury June 2034, is later constituted as a Heroes and Villains of the Thirties robot. Author of Fathom the Doomboat Stars, the most astonishing science fiction novel ever written, the curly-haired Michaels is undersized, skinny, unshaven, and scruffy. His thin russet mustache under sardonic puffy lips does not help his lopsided cheeks. But in contrast to the overall lack of focus on his face, his eyes are a startling, penetrating, vivid green.

Laurie Lachrer 283
A Heroes and Villains of the Thirties robot version of Laurie Lachrer, creation date July 5, 2043, Laurie 283 inexplicably finds herself called upon to assume supreme command of the USSF.  But as yet another robot, Laurie 1014, counsels her: “C’mon, isn’t it obvious? They’re not arresting you because they think you’re a robot. They arresting you because they think you’re Laurie Lachrer. Can’t you see there’s been a palace coup? They’re blocking her as SCUSSF. So don’t think about protecting Laurie 283. Take on the real Laurie and protect her.”

Suzette Borman
Rejuvenated from a hard-bitten forty-two to a stunning nineteen, Suzette rediscovers her youthful cockiness.  She never realized her wild dreams in college of forming an artistic commune, instead winding up USSF wifey to Lee Borman, United System senator, and so naturally she would run off with Jack Commer’s son Jonathan James and participate in his disastrous SolGrid rebellion. After escaping prosecution, she seeks refuge on Marox, fourth planet of Groombridge 1618, but winds up as the NonEmpress in charge of a Nihilist revolution against the Alpha Centaurian Grid. 

Major John West
Combat hero shattered by Martian ray guns June 2034, reconstituted as a Heroes and Villains of the Thirties robot, Major West is appointed director of USSF Public Relations in May 2076, devoting himself to the new business paradigm of Frenzied Performance. Rockily handsome, powerfully built and never shy about thrusting forward massive biceps and pecs in his tight major’s dress uniform at any society function of swooning debutantes and dowagers, robot West worries about his sudden veers into contemplation and even religious feeling. These can’t be software glitches, but must have origins in the real Major West’s personality. But why?

Major Carla Posttner
Posttner was jailed for her attempt to overthrow the United System in April 2076, but President Robert Easterling freed her a month later and reappointed her director of USSF Detention Services. Her round face is framed by wildly curling red-brown hair. She has smeary dark brown eyes and puffy lips. During West’s twelve meetings with her the past two days she’s repeatedly flashed glittering come-on eyes as she brushes his thighs with squirming fingers. She wears the miniskirt version of the judicial robe, her fish-netted legs exposed far past crimson garters all the way to baby-blue panties.

Commander Ywer of Mars
Former Martian chef, serving in the USSF in 2076 as Jack Commer’s copilot. He’s 1414 Martian years old and unusually tall, with the slightly larger pink fin that indicates a predisposition to lead vast armies in combat.  Back in the 2034 war, Ywer fought Sol not as a soldier but as Senior Martian Chef to the psychopathic human usurper of the Martian throne, Sam Hergs. Eventually Ywer joined the United System Space Force to fight the Alpha Centaurians. He could easily have become a Martian Star General, but chose to rise within the human ranks of the USSF.

Robert Easterling
Long-time enemy of Jack Commer, Senator Easterling declares himself president of the United System and Supreme Commander of the USSF in May 2076.  His upper torso is broad and hard save for a pudgy stomach and protruding hips. His brown eyes are jovial and penetrating. Overall it’s a handsome face beneath long silver air dramatically swept back from an unlined forehead. He’d been raised on the flat marshes of Maryland’s eastern shore in a Taoist commune which he later violently rebelled from.

Dar was Emperor of the Martians from 2034 to 2075, and Easterling has just appointed him special envoy to planet Marox.  He’s finally mastered the practice of completely shutting down his telepathic outradiance, and he can also replace that outradiance with a Second Mind as detailed or bland as he wishes. Though he’s painfully aware that Easterling is manipulating him, Dar now has an advantage; he can dump in Second Mind to manipulate and confuse the new United System president. He’s read about this sort of duplicity in human literature, but it’s totally foreign to him.

Some Supporting Characters

Jack Commer, former Supreme Commander
Though seventy-two, Jack’s been rejuvenated to mid-thirties.  He’s 6’1”, with powerful pecs and thick muscular arms.  That solid, square, slightly uneven face has inspired respect for decades even as it pisses off a handful of envious USSF underlings who want to kick him out so they can rise in the organization.  Jack’s deep-set brown eyes don’t miss a thing except when something gets him flustered and irritable.

Amav Frankston-Commer
Planetary engineer brainwashed as Martian Emperor Sam Hergs’ consort, rescued by Jack Commer in 2034, then eventually married to Jack.  She’s sixty-three in May 2076, rejuvenated to look twenty-five, tall and lithe with long lustrous dark hair, so flawless and sexy that it’s only been Jack’s being Supreme Commander that’s kept a hundred thousand USSF officers from propositioning her over the decades, to no success of course. Anyone who’s seen the illegal surveillance videos on SolNet, made by tiny flying robots infiltrating the Commer Marsport home, will agree that the nude Amav Frankston Commer is a sight to unhinge entire civilizations.

G’nzeel, Zarj Archivist
Director of the Typhoon I Museum on planet Marox at Groombridge 1618. Though a typical Zarj in build, seven feet tall and five hundred pounds, G’nzeel isn’t the warrior monster most humans instinctively fear. He and similarly minded Zarj scholars are universally derided by the warrior class Zarj as cowards who can’t fight and so are assigned to menial archival duties like curating museum collections. But G’nzeel certainly doesn’t care what anyone thinks.

Commander Robert (Bobby) Athens
Pilot of Typhoon III-class spaceship Jonathan Commer, Bobby is short and blond, with deep blue eyes, and he’s capable, humorous, and balanced. Though just 5’7”, his torso’s big and hard and powerful and his smooth face is humorous and confident.  As a twelve-year-old smartass kid Bobby saved Jack Commer’s sorry hide on the Typhoon II back in 2035.

Lieutenant Pam Jonson copyright 2023 by Michael D. Smith

Navigator Pam Jonson

Lieutenant Pam Jonson
Jonathan Commer navigation officer, petite, funny, and mindblowingly cute, with short dark hair, bright blue eyes, and high cheekbones. She exudes a competent, focused energy that makes anyone want to promote her as fast as they can. Her part is this book is small but significant, and she also gets to demonstrate her karate skills.

Commander Mavis Wheeler
Copilot of Jonathan Commer and author of On the Use of Xon Technology as Electromagnetic Pulse Disruptor in Space Combat. Wheeler’s taut physicality. long cascading brown hair, dark eyes, full lips, oval face, and a heft of the chin that might come across as arrogant. She’s a striking Viking goddess of extraordinary dimensions, six-foot-one with dark hair down past her shoulders, majestic, superbly muscled, curvaceous, busty, damn pneumatic. Big but compact and coiled for action. Her brown eyes are so dark they’re like whirlpools you could lose yourself in.

The Fools of the Fire
Fifty-one entities at the center of the universe hold the forces of chaos at bay at the N-Dimensional Uninhabitable Zone at the Center of the Universe. It is here that each Fool is tested before joining the Ring. “Word concepts you may understand are Watcher, Caretaker, Guardian, Keeper, Sentinel. But these concepts fail to convey the essential absurdity inherent in curating the impossible fires at the Center of the Universe. We choose Fools of the Fire. However, another option some prefer is Janitors of the Doomboat Stars. We can use that term if it offers comfort.”

Jonathan James Commer
Jack and Amav’s troubled son, bestselling author, Alpha Centaurian emperor, instigator of a rebellion against SolGrid, and eventually a Wounded bio-robot. Now he’s got to figure out how to explain eight hundred years of balloon ship combat in the Large Magellanic Cloud and the deaths of everyone he knew. He hates himself and knows everybody hates him for being a shithead bio-machine. What can purge the angst of all the evil he’s done? Is he really supposed to follow Ex-Supreme Jack Commer Dad’s dumbass orders and persuade what’s left of the Wounded that their infantile attempts to make art by blowing up entire solar systems just ain’t going nowhere?

Edward, Robotic Dog
Jack and Amav’s security dog, butler, and spaceship navigator. Most people might think Edward is a pitiful dog slave to Jack and Amav, but Edward’s never considered himself such. He figures he’s a member of the Commer family and wants the best for them, and right now he can see that Supreme Commander Laurie’s the best for them.

Waterfall Sequence
The Ywritt master communicator is a bubble of swirling fog seven feet in diameter, with a blue-purple coloration and occasional hints of red and orange. He journeyed from Iota Persei a few days ago with a contract to upgrade the Typhoon I Museum’s Heroes and Villains of the Thirties robots to normal Ywritt standards. He quickly throws in with the Nihilists, sensing he’s needed in Sol to resist insane fever dreams polluting a culture he’s come to admire.

Cadagasgar Wirlmann
He graduated from the USSF Academy in 2075 as a Typhoon III-class copilot, but for some unknown reason was busted to airman and sent to Norcaj, Mars as a Detention Services guard, where he has a brief scene taking down shuttle K’sla with a shatter rifle. He’s been promised a role in the next Supreme Commander Laurie novel.


Lieutenant Mickey Michaels copyright 2013 by Michael D. Smith

Turret gunner and robot science fiction author Mickey Mal Michaels

1. Design Specs for the Typhoon VIII
2. Laurie’s Dread
3. The Robot Comes Home
4. To Form a More Mutually Trustworthy Association
5. Manifestations All Over the Universe

6. Know-How and Presidential Ethics
7. The Nihilists
8. Moving with the Crowds in the Morning Sun
9. Laundry
10. Gotta Be More Sensitive

11. Agonizingly Conflicted Feelings
12. This Just In!
13. The Easterling Solution
14. Laurie Must Ignite
15. The Babbling Jack

16. The Fools Find Laurie’s Brain
17. Planning Session
18. We Need Someone to Land This Thing
19. Major West is Horrified
20. The New Spaceship

21. The Dread Awareness Subroutine
22. The Tight-Knit Pegasus Crew
23. Cybernetic Betrayal
24. Laurie and the Fools
25. Bathroom Mirror Night

26. Space War Suzette
27. Space War West
28. Space War Laurie
29. Space War Laurie 283
30. Space War Everyone

31. Lieutenant John Commer Reconsidered
32. Redemption West
33. Mavis and the Maroxins
34. Dark Pegasus
35. Emergency Restoration Ambassadors

Blog History

Supreme Commander Laurie Gets Underway, July 13, 2023
Supreme Commander Laurie, Draft 1: Completed, September 19, 2023
Supreme Commander Laurie: Draft Two Territory, December 1, 2023
The Fools of Supreme Commander Laurie’s Fire, December 8, 2023
Supreme Commander Laurie: Manuscript Status and Spaceships, December 18, 2023
Supreme Commander Laurie Publication, March 18, 2024

All words and images copyright by Michael D. Smith