Student in the Underworld
Irving Warner
Coming November 2020!


ISBN 978-1-60489-267-3 $18.95     Sale $10.50

ISBN 978-1-60489-268-0, $27.95    Sale $15.50

About the Author:

     Irving Warner was born in Modesto, California in 1941 and graduated from San Francisco’s Balboa High School. He soon became involved in tournament chess, playing in the first Arthur Stamer Invitational Tournament at the Mechanics Institute.

        He moved to Alaska in 1964 where he lived until 1996.  During that time, he initially worked in fisheries research, with a brief tenure in sea bird studies. He received a degree in Biology and English from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks in 1972. Switching careers at the age of 40, he received an M.A. in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Maine, Orono, in 1983. Warner began teaching at Kodiak College and the University of Alaska until he took early retirement and began full time writing.

        Since then he has lived in Washington State and in Hawaii, and presently resides in Port Angeles, Washington.

Excerpt from Book:


 Student in the Underworld

                A novel

            By Irving Warner









“We think we are straight in our justice,

 No anger from us against those

 Who hold out pure hands.” 312-314


                                    The Eumenides, Aeschylus







 Student Patterson looked under his bunk for Ensign Freemont in their so-called ‘stateroom’. It was the size of a large pizza oven with no shelves. Their space was the smallest human abode on the U.S.S. Refrigerator Transport 125-A named after no one, launched prematurely—before anyone thought to name it. Or cared to?

            Freemont hid there—butt out, face towards bulkhead buried in a pillow. If only Fremont’s situation were simple such as mal de mer rather than rank cowardice.

            “Freemont, the Captain said he would have you shot if you abandon your post again.”

            “My father is Secretary of the Navy. They wouldn’t dare. I hate high seas. I’m scared, Student. All we’re doing is packing prime rib and ice cream for the black market in Saigon. I’m in the Skull and Cross Bone Society. I was president of my class at Yale. I shouldn’t be here.”

            Student stood, yanked the kink out of his back—braced himself as the next 50 footer swept under the “Bugly”, short for Butt Ugly, the sly nickname the 40 man crew had for their ship. It is the spring of 1968, and soon all this sea faring nonsense will be over for him.

            He went forward 25 feet to the bridge. The helmsmen and quartermaster’s mate looked at him—both treating themselves to a smirk. They loved cowardice in officers.

 A blue-green monstrosity parented by seawater and doom—one in a succession of six or seven thousand—swept the entire 350 foot length of the “Bugly”. Southern seas poured into the gaping hole where the 2.5 inch deck canon stood before being ripped out.

            “You think she’ll sink with that hole in her, Lieutenant?”

            “No. The watertight doors are double there.”

            “We’re sure as hell heavy in the bow. We might founder. Where is Ensign Fremont, Lieutenant?”

            They each mimed concerned glances—but if foundering were possible, the rat-bastards would be fighting each other over the only lifeboat not caved in or rotted out. Best to keep his officer-distance and not answer.

 In fact, like anyone on the ship, the two carrion eating foul knew where Fremont was. They knew where everyone was in rough seas. They were, with the exception of Lieutenant Anderson, at their post mostly drunk, stoned or both, or in their bunk hanging on.

  Lieutenant Anderson, recently of Annapolis, Maryland, was the senior lieutenant on the “Bugly” the day Student reported for duty in San Francisco. Student had eleven months left of his three-year active duty. Anderson was full of navy acronyms:

            “I’m the OD, you’re the JOD and the little shit being carried across the dock in a wheelbarrow is the ExO, and the guy supervising the swabies pushing the wheelbarrow is our God-Don’t-You-Know-It captain.”

            Student’s presence on the Bugly was a bumper-harvest coincidence of history and dumb chance.

            He originally signed up in the Navy ROTC program in 1960-- years before Southeast Asia melted into America’s tar baby. He had gotten two degrees out of the deal, and now he had nearly served all his years of active duty, ‘Glory Be to His Wisdom’, as they said at his church in Iowa.

            The concluding twelve months was sea duty. He had become bored with teaching English at an obscure base. He had, to the horror of his fiancé and colleagues at the easy-does-it navy base in Michigan--volunteered for this experience.

            He went from bored on land to bored at sea—on a freezer ship shuttling monotonously between San Francisco and the Mekong Delta, downriver from notorious Saigon.

            This was the western-leg of his last trip. He did not want to be an OD, a JOD—or any other military acronym for the rest of his life. This was the much planned point where he would spend the remainder of his days quietly normal, contented and modestly provided as a Ph.D. in English might allow. He and Debbie would settle into a mid-western town’s college community, raise their family and take in literary readings by wandering artists from far flung locales.

            All would move towards completion when he reported directly to graduate school in San Francisco after sea duty. Debbie would join him there; they would joyfully wed after a three-year engagement. This was the halfway point to normalcy. At the completion of his Ph.D. Debbie looked forward to their permanent home with name-brand zeal.

            And our home will have Edgington Dutch Doors, Stu. I just love Dutch Doors with the rich old wood tones.”

            Debbie had been surveying diverse publications on house design since high school and Student accordingly admired her for it.

            With a societal stamp-of-approval-on-the-buttocks in three years, they would move back possibly to their home state of Iowa, savor the good life with modesty and watchful moderation.

            It just wasn’t to be.


Seers of Future Present

(Elder Men and Women dressed in flowing robes and wearing sandals)


Oh Student, you wretched man, your hopes and dreams are all for nothing. Your future has turned into a featureless plain of desiccated cow flops. True, Debbie began her teaching credential at the University of Wisconsin when you began your year of sea duty. She also discovered sex and radical politics, all in a single package beginning with a chap named Sean. He saw her coming with corn growing out of her ears, and she was a God-send for him and as it developed quite a few others.


And that is not all: Poor man, you are about to start one of the most catastrophically and colossally discombobulated graduate programs in the history of American Collegiate education. If you ever get a Ph.D. it will be a miracle. We are the only chance you have, and frankly, we aren’t optimistic.