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Literature / How to Build a Skydeck

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It's not that kind of how-to book
"There's no leave of absence in service of the Universe."

Stan Davis is a nineteen-year-old white laborer working on an all-black construction crew in the Deep South town of Columbus, Georgia in The '90s. After getting kicked from the nest, he moves into a trailer park renting a room from an older woman named Rebecca. Through the power of cannabis he becomes fast friends with his dorky, middle-aged neighbor Pete, who reveals to Stan that he may not be all he seems. Meanwhile, two Feds named Delacroix and Dickerson are being sent on a mission down in Columbus on mysterious orders from their superior to locate a person using a strange machine known only as The Device. Can Stan manage to realize his place in the Universe before the Feds complete their mission? What is the Device and who are they after? And where is Pete getting all his good pot?

How to Build a Skydeck is a science-fiction novel by Southern author David L. Bradley, written in 1998 and re-published in 2012 through Amazon for both paperback and digital download. Described as "a pre-Digital Age tale of black and white, rich and poor, pot-smoking aliens, angels and God," the small-town setting and blue-collar characters lend themselves to a very heartfelt and insightful story of race, class and philosophy in a type of science-fiction that's hard to come by.

View the book's official Amazon page here

This novel provides examples of:

  • Aliens in Cardiff: Aliens in Columbus: Thoroughly discussed by Stan while out on the Skydeck.
  • Erudite Stoner: Pete seems to be the most obvious example, waxing about Taoist philosophy while smoking with Stan on the eponymous Skydeck.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Delacroix and Dickerson are just doing their jobs, and have no idea who their target is or what the Device even does.
  • The Stoner: Almost all of the "good guys" enjoy the herb, which harmed the novel's marketability when it was first published, with Word of God stating,
    "Marketing the book was a challenge. Agent after agent told me what a great book it was— especially, what a great first novel it was—, but they all declined to represent it, for reasons you probably understand, if you've read the thing."
  • Token Minority: Stan struggles with being ostracized from all of his co-workers due to being the only white boy on the labor crew.
  • Troubled Production: According to Word of God, the original book would have been lost forever after paperback copies ran dry and the manuscript was lost. It was only after a fan sent the author a CD-ROM copy that Bradley was able to re-work the book for an Updated Re-release.