Lawyer Cynthia lost an important case involving Ojibwe fishing rights in Michigan. Her boss sends her to Key West, Florida, for a month to recover, but her unethical lawyer fiancé, Gordon, expects her to lay the groundwork for their planned move to Miami. She discovers an ideal, natural community of free spirits living on Cayo Ladrón near Key West, moves there and is renamed Cindy. They call on her legal expertise to save them from unscrupulous developers who have employed Gordon. She must choose between a safe life and her idealism. Then there is the inarticulate artist Outdoor John, with whom she may have fallen in love. But when a call comes for a meeting with an unknown man, a stronger force compels.
The natural wisdom and clear vision of Cayo Ladrón’s part-Cherokee sailboat-ferry skipper, 15-year-old Jamie, guide Cindy. Accompanying Cindy to Michigan for the appeal of the fishing rights case, Jamie meets Ojibwe girl Akakojiishi. They recognize in each other extraordinary abilities that will be needed to defend and guide the as yet unborn Ellan, who is the object of a quest for the Key to the coming Age. This Key quest began in Earn Fire and will be concluded in Book Three.
This is a work of fiction, and all named characters are fictional, with the exception of Captain Tony (see below).
I worked as a journalist and photographer in Key West in the 1970s, mainly for Solares Hill. Jim Sterling’s praise of the unnamed Assistant Public Defender is my tribute to my parents’ lawyer, a bright and friendly young woman who was likewise killed in a hit-and-run by a driver who was never charged. When I was floundering around in the Monroe County Law Library one day, ignorant of the proper legal terminology to research the laws for an article I was writing, she gave me the right word, saying, “The only thing you learn in law school is how to use an index.” Like Jim, I see a lot of her in Cindy.
The Kindle “Look Inside” feature will bring you to Cindy’s first encounter with Key West’s notorious “shirt law”.
The “shirt law” is not fictional. It came into effect in January 1976, and the fine for violation was $25. It was strictly and capriciously enforced. Quoting from The Miami Herald, 6 September 1977:
“The shirt ordinance gives us one more law to work with to try and control the influx of transients and fleabags,” says City Commissioner Dennis Wardlow, who has been one of the city’s biggest proponents of the law. “Helps us maintain a certain code of decency.”
In 1977, the section stating “but this prohibition shall not apply within two blocks of the beaches” was struck out by County Judge Lester Garringer as being unconstitutionally vague, but the rest of the law was upheld (The Key West Citizen, 2 June 1977).
In 1985, the shirt law was finally laid to rest on the grounds of the vagueness of “a top” and violating due process, citing the US and Florida constitutions. Cindy’s spirited defense is based on the arguments by the Public Defender in State of Florida vs Mark Mittler, Case No. 85-2266-MO.
Google Earth at 24° 33′ 20″ N by 81° 46′ 45″ W will show you Rest Beach (mislabeled “Key West Beach”), between White Street Pier and Bertha, after it went partly to hell. At the time of the story, the buildings you see now had not encroached on the mini-wilderness.
My friend Captain Tony Tarracino (1916-2008) was the heart and soul of Key West. Eventually, mellowed with age and married to a woman of immense patience and understanding (his third wife), he moderated his view of people, saying only eighty percent were slabs of meat with eyes. This matchbook cover from his Saloon shows how he looked in his younger days.
An early print version of The Shore of Two Worlds was published as a novella in 1978 and reviewed privately by the late science fiction author Harry Harrison (1925-2012): (paraphrasing) <It would be a good book if it was cut by 80%.> So I cut it by 95% and then expanded it. The nub of the story is the same, but most of the narrative is new.
Harry said Theodore Sturgeon told him, “Myth and plot are not the same, and plot is better.” That advice is aimed especially at science fiction, and by extension fantasy, and I have kept it in mind. Rereading that early SoTW now, I feel Harry was being overly kind.
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