Tom Purdom was born in Connecticut in 1936. His first short story, "Grieve for a Man," appeared in the August 1957 issue of Fantastic Universe. His more recent work appears regularly in Asimov's, Analog, F&SF, and others. The bulk of his career was spent as a non-fiction and business writer, and for the last three decades, he has been a classical music critic and reviewer, while continuing to write science fiction that the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction says strictly applies the scientific method and sometimes evokes outsider surrealism. Fantastic Books published his first collection, Lovers & Fighters, Starships & Dragons in 2014, and Romance on Four Worlds in 2015.

Romance on Four Worlds by Tom Purdom

The Moon. Phobos. The Kuiper Belt. A giant globe-circling habitat on Mercury. Joseph Louis Baske roams the Solar System in the same way the great 18th century adventurer, Giacomo Casanova, roamed across Europe—and gets in trouble for the same reason. Romance is the glory of his days. It never lasts, but every episode is an adventure. "I have loved architects, engineers, musicians, politicians, geologists, surgeons, athletes, economists, and women who approached activities like diving and mountaineering with the same passion I have lavished on the central concern of my life," Joe writes. "From all of them I have learned something. The shortest route to someone's affections is to listen."

Analog reviewer Don Sakers summed up Tom Purdom's first collection Lovers & Fighters, Starships & Dragons as "a perfect blend of really cool ideas and believable, sympathetic characters." Purdom's Casanova Quartet applies the same formula to a happy, freewheeling vision of the future awaiting mankind.



  • "…delightful… a surprising amount of depth and sympathy… These deeply human post-human romances exemplify a new and exciting way of combining romance and SF, and they are a pleasure from beginning to end."

    – Publishers Weekly starred review, March 16, 2015
  • "This whole moderately transhuman milieu of the initial adventure… illustrates Purdom's ability and desire to write the best postmodern SF that he can.… it's not any off-the-shelf inhabited Solar System scenario, but a clever fleshing out of trends visible in our present day.… Purdom succeeds in fashioning some farcical yet genuinely speculative and authentic romps along themes that are noticeably and regrettably absent from so much SF."

    – Paul Di Filippo, Locus Online, April 16, 2015
  • "hugely entertaining… Purdom's version of [the] posthuman future… has an authority and conviction all its own. Purdom does a good job of creating a believable post-human future, inhabited by characters who have been convincingly shaped by the changes in their late 21st-century world into people very different from you and me, and who yet still recognizably share common ground with us."

    – Gardner Dozois, Locus Magazine, June 2015
  • "…a delightful little book chronicling the travels of a future Casanova.… These are classic picaresque tales, modern comedies of manners in which Baske gets himself into and out of trouble in the most amusing ways. That the characters are engaging and believable goes without saying—Purdom writes great people—but the four societies depicted are also a lot of fun."

    – Don Sakers, Analog Science Fiction and Fact, September 2015



"Romance in Lunar G" — part one of Romance on Four Worlds

I was alone, well outfitted, well supplied with jewels,

without letters of recommendation, but with four hundred

zecchini in my purse, a complete stranger in the great

and beautiful city of Milan, in excellent health, and at the

happy age of twenty-three. It was January in the year 1748.

—Giacomo Casanova, History of My Life, tr. Willard R. Trask

I was almost sixty when I finally read Casanova's memoirs. People had been telling me I should read Casanova ever since I had reached my late twenties, but I probably wouldn't have read him when I was fifty-eight if my finances had been in shape. I had been caught in the whirlwind that raced through the currency markets in 2054. It took me six months to get back to where I could face a restaurant bill without cringing.

It wasn't hard to understand why readers who were familiar with the memoirs thought I would find them interesting. I had always assumed Casanova was a mere compulsive—a man who was trying to run up a score. Instead, I discovered the pages of his autobiography are crowded with statements I could have written myself. If three competent behavioral physiologists read a random sample taken from all twelve volumes, at least two of them would be absolutely convinced he and I could be described with the same parameters.

There was, of course, a significant difference in our circumstances. Casanova never knew that his responses to women could be traced to a few thousand cells in two precisely mapped areas of his brain. He didn't have to live with the knowledge he could slip into a modification clinic and permanently dampen the emotions that dominated his life. In his world, character was destiny—not personal choice.

"You're supposed to be watching the scenery," Shezuko said.

We were standing on the observation deck, watching the sunrise as it tapped the upper reaches of the lunar mountains in front of us, and Shezuko had noticed the look on my face when Malita Divora and Wen Kang had stepped out of the elevator. The big cruise vehicle was crawling along the dark side of the terminator, in the exact spot the sales spiels had promised it would occupy at this moment. One hundred and forty-eight people had arranged themselves in front of the oval viewing windows that faced the sunrise. One hundred and forty-seven were staring at the gleaming, rounded summits that floated over a landscape illuminated by dim blue Earthlight.

Shezuko was smiling, but she wasn't laughing at me. Of all the women who've befriended me, I think she understood me the best.

It was one of the blacker moments in one of the blacker periods of my life. At dinner the night before, Malita had chosen a table next to ours and systematically flaunted her relationship with Wen. Every time I had glanced their way, Malita had been looking at Wen as if she wanted to record every word he was saying. I had managed to keep up a conversation with Shezuko but I can still remember most of the things they talked about. Over the salad, Wen told her anecdotes about one of his mother's more famous conquests. Over the rice and rabbit, with apple and mushroom sauce (I remember every detail!), Wen compared the two sports that had given him his biggest taste of celebrity and Malita chatted about the discontents of the children she had interviewed for a piece on long-term marriage arrangements. Over dessert (an outlandish helping of fruit and whipped cream which Wen consumed with outlandish enthusiasm), she led Wen into a little shop talk and they dissected the pros and cons of the one subject that seems to fascinate journalists and most of the other people who work with the databanks: the benefits of pay-per-view versus flat-rate listings.

I have always avoided the embarrassments of jealousy. It is a childish emotion that has nothing to do with the passions I have spent my life cultivating. In this case, I even knew they had both opted for major reductions in their sex drives, so they could concentrate on "aspects of life we find more satisfying." They had actually gone to the extra expense of renting separate cabins. I was dealing, however, with an intelligent, creative woman who had decided to evict me from her life. When they had left the table, it had been obvious Wen was going to join Malita in her quarters.

Now, fifteen hours after I had last seen her, Malita paused two steps from the elevator and tipped back her head when she saw me looking at her. Wen Kang rested his hand on her shoulder and soaked in the atmosphere with the honest pleasure of someone who loved the human glitter in the foreground as much as he loved the panorama outside. Lunar society was going through one of those periods when men wear their hair long and women crop it close—a fashion that emphasized Wen's fleshy sensuality and Malita's alert, restless intelligence.

"I still find it difficult to believe you feel the rewards outweigh the disadvantages," Shezuko said. "I would think that for someone who loves pleasure as much as you do…"

"Is it any different for you?" I said. "Are your feelings any different from mine when you reach the end of an encounter?"

"But I know I'm going to enjoy myself first. For you, there's no guarantee you'll enjoy anything."

If you've ever spent any time with Shezuko Okada's work, you know sexual love is as important to her as it is to me. The aesthetic and emotional impact of her fantasies rests on a single poignancy: the fact that the most intense and devoted bondings must inevitably yield to time. In the middle of her sixth decade, she had made a very sensible decision and opted for a personality modification that eliminated the kind of unpleasantness I was experiencing. Her passions didn't burst into flame until she knew they were based on a mutual attraction. Her involvements were just as intense as mine—and most of them didn't last any longer— but Shezuko knew they would traverse a predictable arc.

Wen and Malita joined a foursome that included a genetic engineer who had been living on the Moon since the first laboratory complex had been carved into the rim of Eratosthenes crater. Every time I sneaked a glance in their direction—which was about once every minute—Malita was responding to the engineer's pronouncements with the animation that characterized everything she did. She was one of those conversationalists who look just as sprightly when they're listening as they do when they're talking.

It was Wen who came bustling toward me half an hour after they'd entered the observation deck. Malita dragged after him as if she was being pulled by the hand. For a moment she looked like she might even have the decency to feel embarrassed. Then she smiled at me over the scent rose she was carrying—a prop that she swayed across her face with a gesture I found particularly elegant.

Wen likes anyone who's led an adventurous life. He knew all about the little comedy I was playing with Malita but he had been striking up conversations with me ever since he and Malita had become friends. Now he waved his arms at the scenery and launched into one of his impersonations of the Man of Gusto.

"This is the first time I've ever felt like I understood what Neil Armstrong meant," Wen said. "What else can you say when you look at a scene like this? 'Isn't that something?' How else could you put it? It's amazing how a trip like this can affect someone who's spent his whole life on Luna. It's been twenty years since I spent this much time Topside. We're going to be leaving the cruiser in a couple of hours—for a little side trip we've been planning—but I wanted you to know I'm going to miss having you and Shezuko with us, Joe."