We don’t know exactly how much surgery Maria will do in the next thirty years until she comes back in time to join our voyage, but it was enough experience to successfully extract Thomas’s appendix. Let’s not forget Don’s role, too. He only recently got his nursing degree and he was fantastic. Thanks to the two of them Thomas will make a complete recovery.
That got us over the first hurtle. There’s more to come, though, as it’ll be weeks before he can resume his piloting duties. Remora insists that she can fill in for him, but we’ll have to see. Out here, there are no do-overs if a mistake is made. It’ll be Dave’s call whether she can actually pilot the ship during his sleep hours.
Thomas is in good spirits, except that he feels he’s let us down with his illness which is ridiculous. It could’ve happened to any of us.
The prognosis is that he’ll be able to resume his full duties in a month, just a week before we enter Mars orbit. That’s when we’ll really need him. In a sense we’re lucky this happened now and not when those maneuvers will determine whether we safely orbit the planet or be flung off into to the Oort Cloud.
No pressure.



Thomas, our co-pilot, has come down with appendicitis. Maria has him in sick bay, and has determined it hasn’t burst. Yet. As of this moment Maria and Don are prepping him for surgery.

Before launch we all went through every physical test known to medical science. However, this is just one of those things that comes out of the blue.

How does this affect our mission? A lot. At this point of the voyage Dave can handle things by himself by waking up every four hours, but obviously that’s not sustainable for more than a day or two. We need Thomas.

Right now, though, we’re more concerned with his health as friends who’ve known him for ages. Remora and Marlon need our support, too.


Why is Jenny a member of the crew? She has no obvious skill set other than negotiating contracts (at which she’s very good), but she could represent Bambi, Ming and Dave while remaining on Earth. (Those are her only three clients, and Dave is retired from basketball.)
One can see that she wants to stay with her husband Luis, but I’m away from Marcie and we’ve worked it out, so it can be done. Ostensibly she’s in charge of making sure Bambi records singles on a regular basis, but Bambi’s a pro and doesn’t miss deadlines.
There are still a lot of tasks in maintaining the ship that don’t require deep technical knowledge, but just the ability to follow instructions. Being detail-oriented, Jenny is fantastic at that and has proven herself to be highly reliable. She doesn’t get any credit for it, though.
This probably is what led to her having a dream in which her role became crucial. That’s an understandable reaction.
BTW, Samantha didn’t really sneak around in the dark to create new undergarments for herself. On this ship privacy is pretty much a thing of the past.

Roger’s Blog

Samantha came clean to Remora about where merfolk came from. Answer: not Earth.
This goes back to over 15 years ago, when Samantha found herself transformed into a mermaid. Unwilling to give up her human life, she quickly sequenced the merfolk genome in order to change herself back.
What she found a block of human DNA (which allow merfolk and humans to mate), aquatic DNA of various water-dwelling species and a block of Something Else. The later had no relation to anything on Earth. Fortunately she was able to manipulate the Earth-based genetics to restore her original form, which led to the breakthroughs she’s made since.
She never mentioned these details to anyone, not even Rupert or Rosalind, but it was around that time she begin voicing a desire to go to Mars.
Anyway, now Remora knows, but she has reservations about the theory. We’ll find more, soon enough.


Our flight manifest doesn’t include a sizable addition to cargo. No, not the dodo stowaways (or even the stowaway inside Samantha!) but the elephant in the room that no one talks about: that there’s something moving around the Martian surface waiting for our arrival.
Whatever it is, it’s moving the wreckage of our previous failed missions to a point near a suspicious circular opening that begs exploration. So, we’re going to explore it.
Until then, our only course of action is watch it with our cameras currently In orbit. It remains inscrutable, so in the meanwhile we avoid bringing it up. All we’d be able to do is speculate inefficiently.

Roger’s Blog

With Roger’s regular site still down, we’re presenting his weekly report from space here.

Now in the sixth month of our interplanetary voyage, we’ve settled into one of our primary tasks: Keeping four inquisitive children occupied. Adding to the degree of difficulty in the anti-boredom department; one of the kids is the young Leonardo da Vinci.
Thanks to our 3-D printers we have plenty of toys, and when they get tired of them we simply melt down the plastic and build new playthings out of it.
Every day there’s a school lesson sent from Earth by Sue Havens. The kids respond to the assignment, but the signal delay does interfere with the interaction.
Finally, each child has a simple, non-mission-critical task to perform every day which is written on the daily log sheet along with everyone else’s. This ensures that they feel like they’re actual crew members like their parents.
When we return to Earth their reward will be a lot more than a lousy T-shirt. (Although they’ll get those, too!)


With Roger’s regular site still down, we’re presenting his weekly report from space here.

Samantha has extensive experience with merfolk, due to her close friendship with Remora. In fact, many of her advances in genetics came when she was transformed into a mermaid herself, and she desperately needed to restore her original code. Later on, she occasionally returned to that aquatic form to visit the merfolk undersea Capitol and act as a representative of humanity.
Human culture is still unaware that there’s a mermaid on board the Mars expedition; in all the publicity pictures Remora is in her human mode. The merfolk culture knows, of course, and is following our progress intently. In addition to being mankind’s greatest adventure, it’s also the most extensive cooperation between humans and merfolk in history.
(Besides the marriage of Thomas and Remora and the birth of their son Marlon, that is.)


With Roger’s regular site still down, we’re presenting his weekly report from space here.

We’re so focused on our daily jobs at maintaining the ship’s functions that we don’t get a sense of how people back on Earth are reacting to us. We’re used to Bambi (and to a lesser extent Dave and Oscar-nominated Ming) being our resident celebrities, but the rest of us have always kept a low profile. (In the case of Samantha and her genetics research, time-traveling Maria and Remora the mermaid that was by design.)
Now things have changed, even for the children. Every action of ours is beamed back home for a waiting world that’s become obsessed with us. True to form, that’s including betting.
On a week when the Supreme Court allowed sports wagering, humanity has already been placing bets on the kids’ board games. Clay and Candide, competitive since birth, have always been evenly matched so their outcomes are perfect for that purpose.
Now we have to make sure the dodos don’t try to influence the results.

Roger’s Blog

Roger’s Blog is temporarily down, so until it’s back up we’ll be posting his weekly reports from Mars mission here.

WORST CASE SCENARIOA spaceship commander has a wide range of duties, and one of them is Always Thinking Of Potential Disasters. This is one edict at which Samantha has excelled her whole life.
This had to do with the recent incident in which Luis was saved due to the serendipitous intervention of his daughter. It was caused by a freak encounter with space debris, and Samantha began wondering if it wasn’t such a coincidence.
She has a point; that was a supremely unlikely event. What’s more, it came on the heels of a meteoroid hitting a solar panel during the ship’s construction. The odds of both those things occurring is too high for Samantha’s comfort.
She has no proof of a threat out there, of course, so all she could do was ask Dave to quietly alter course. I’m the only other member of the crew who’s aware of it (Can’t keep anything from me!) since it wouldn’t be productive to inflict her worries on those powerless to contribute assistance.
She’s already thinking like a parent.

Weekly news

2014 Collection

The 2014 “Safe Havens” collection is here! If you haven’t gotten enough of the dodos (and Samantha certainly has!) here’s a year in which their presence was especially annoying. How high is *your* tolerance for hopelessly toxic individuals?

Safe Havens on Apple News

Major news! “Safe Havens” is now available on Apple News. 🙂 On your Apple mobile device, access the News icon. At the bottom of the screen you’ll see a Search icon. Tap it, and type Safe Havens. It will take you to the “Safe Havens” channel and you’ll be able to access today’s strip!

Off to Mars!

It’s finally here! The Safe Havens crew blasts off for Mars for their long-awaited adventure. Here’s where I need the help of you, the readers. Please promote their mission on every online outlet for science fiction and space-related themes that you can think of. I know many of these sites, but hardly all of them. 🙂 Give the URL, and mention that it’s a three-year mission. Thanks!

Dethany’s Mailbox

This month Dethany’s video addresses the whereabouts of Candy the Moat Monster, once a prominent member of the Fastrack cast. Also, Easter eggs!


Be sure to read Roger’s Blog every Sunday for background information on the previous week’s Safe Havens storyline. You’ll find details that aren’t in the strip.

New Safe Havens book!

Find out what happened to Samantha and Dave on their wedding day in this collection of the complete year of 2013! You can purchase it


Just as a reminder, “Dethany in Virtu/Noir,” is an interactive novella featuring Dethany of “On the Fastrack” as she adopts a 1940s private eye persona to solve a crime in cyberspace. She finds herself in the middle of a gang war between two groups; one promoting online transparency and the other heightened data security. A crisis erupts when people begin to have their identities drained (literally).

Along with John Lotshaw and my wife Teri Holbrook, we’ve created a unique blend of words and images, available for the iPad. Readers will be able to make choices determining the direction of the plot, and we estimate that it offers roughly two hours of crime-solving fun. It’s yours for $2.99. Learn more about it by visiting its website here.

Vintage Kevin & Kell

Classic “Kevin & Kell” strips are now featured on King Features’s Comic Kingdom site. Go here, and pick up the action from today’s date back in 2009.