Ukiah Oregon

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This article is about the fictional character. For the city, see Ukiah, Oregon.

Ukiah Oregon is the hero of an eponymous series of science fiction/adventure novels written by Wen Spencer.

As of 2005, the Ukiah Oregon series consists of four novels:

  1. Alien Taste (2001) Winner of the Compton Crook Award
  2. Tainted Trail (2002)
  3. Bitter Waters (2003)
  4. Dog Warrior (October 2004)

The four novels form a near-continuous series of adventures located, with flashbacks, between June and September 2004.

Ukiah Oregon is described in the first novel, Alien Taste, as a Pittsburgh-based private investigator of probable Native American ancestry, apparently aged about 21 years old. He has a photographic memory, but he has no specific memory of the time before he was trapped about eight years earlier as a feral child near the town of Ukiah, Oregon, from which he takes his name, having been raised by a pack of wolves. He has a remarkable ability to track people and sense the details of a subject's DNA, which he attributes to his lupine upbringing. His lack of human contact in his childhood has deprived him of much of the knowledge of how to behave socially, as well as pop culture references.

During the course of the first novel it becomes apparent that Ukiah is, in fact, not human—or at least not completely human. When he is severely injured his blood forms into independently operating animals: larger clots form "blood mice," smaller clots might form insects or other animals of appropriate size. This is a defense mechanism that allows cells to live independently if the main body is injured. These animals contain some of his memories, and they will subsequently try to rejoin him to be reabsorbed by his body; failure to reabsorb such a "blood animal" results in the loss of that memory. Ukiah can even be killed, but as long as his body is not destroyed (e.g. by burning) he will recover given sufficient time.

It is revealed that several centuries ago the invasion force of a hive mind species called the Ontongard arrived in the Solar System with the intention of converting all life on Earth into a copy of itself, via a form of viral infection.

One of the Ontongard, Prime, was a mutation who was somehow independent of the hive mind. He rebelled against the Ontongard, sabotaging the invasion mission and ultimately leaving most of the personnel stranded in suspended hibernation in the starship on the surface of Mars.

Prime was killed by the surviving Ontongard, Hex, but not before he had artificially inseminated Kicking Deer, a woman of the Umatilla tribe, who gave birth to a boy named Magic Boy (described in flashback in Tainted Trail).

Before his death Prime also infected a wolf, Coyote, with his blood, converting Coyote into his "Get," with all his memories and effective immortality via the same "blood mice" method that Ukiah has. Over the intervening centuries Coyote has in turn created a number of Gets of his own, and they in their turn have also created Gets. Prime's Gets number about 100 at the time of the stories, and form a group of motorcycle gangs collectively known as "The Pack." Hex, meanwhile, has created large numbers of Ontongard Gets, and the two groups have fought a discreet war ever since their creation.

Characters[edit]

Ukiah Oregon is the main character of the series, a Pittsburgh-based private investigator. He was raised by wolves near the town of Ukiah, Oregon (where he gets his name) until Mom Jo caught him in a humane trap and took him home to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In Alien Taste he discovers that he is a half-alien "breeder" discovered to help the Ontongard invade Earth. In Tainted Trail he learns that he was a part of the original breeder named Magic Boy, who was murdered and dismembered in 1933.

Max Bennett is Ukiah's partner. A millionaire, Max became an investigator specializing in finding missing persons after his wife disappeared (he later learned that she had drowned in a lake after a car accident). Ukiah's moms called him in to investigate Ukiah's origins after they had a daughter of their own and became convinced that Ukiah's parents must still be looking for him. During this case, Max discovered Ukiah's abnormal tracking skills and hired him on part-time, until a run-in with a serial killer nearly killed Ukiah. Max then made him a partner. Max has romantic feelings for Sam Killington. His first appearance is in Alien Taste.

Indigo Zheng is an FBI agent and Ukiah's girlfriend. Her first appearance is in Alien Taste, where she is called in to investigate the FBI agent kidnappings. Of Hawaiian, Chinese and Russian ancestry, she is often described by Ukiah as serene. The Pack call her his "Lady of Steel," after she personally burned out several Ontongard nests when she thought that Ukiah had been killed.

Prime was one of the alien Ontongard, but because of a mutation, he was not part of the hive mind. He rebelled against the other Ontongard and sabotaged their invasion of Earth, replacing Hex's genetic code with his own in the breeder program and destroying the scout ship before it could return and activate the invasion ship. Hex discovered his duplicity and they fought, though blood loss of both have left them with fractured memories of the encounter. Before dying, Prime managed to infect a wolf, Coyote, with his blood, turning him into a Get.

Coyote, as Prime's Get, continued the war against the Ontongard, eventually taking human shape. He fought alone for many years, though no one is quite sure how long, since he never attained a firm grasp of the concept of time. Though he had planned to never make any Gets, he eventually realized the necessity.

Rennie Shaw was Coyote's first Get, and is the leader of the Pack as a whole, and the Dog Warriors in particular. He was a soldier in the Civil War, and Coyote discovered him trapped under a horse and dying. Rennie allowed Coyote to make him a Get so that he could return to his family, but when he received the Pack's collective memories, he gave up his personal life to fight the Ontongard and never saw his family again. His first appearance is in Alien Taste.

Hex is the Ontongard on Earth; while the Ontongard are a collective hive mind, communication between parts is limited by distance. Because of this, Hex is unable to communicate with Ontongard off of Earth, and unable to communicate with other parts of himself in distant cities except via human technology such as the telephone. Hex's goal is to take over Earth, but he has been locked in a war with the Pack for decades.

Kittaning is Ukiah's "son," though he was actually formed by one of Ukiah's blood mice. Hex had captured the mouse before Ukiah could reabsorb it, and tortured it to force it to grow into a human shape. While Kittaning had started out as part of Ukiah, he has lost most of his memories and gained a personality of his own. His first appearance is in Alien Taste. He is kidnapped and takes on the form of a puppy in Bitter Waters.

Samual Anne Killington ("My parents were twisted," she says in explanation of the name) is a Pendleton, Oregon-based private investigator whom Ukiah and Max meet while investigating the disappearance of Alicia Kraynak. She offers to help them track the girl, and she and Max develop feelings for each other. She moved to Pendleton with her ex-husband and agrees to move to Pittsburgh and accept a job with Max's private investigation firm on a trial basis. When she arrives in Pittsburgh, she's angry to find out that Max is a multi-millionaire but didn't see fit to mention it. Her first appearance is in Tainted Trail.

Mom Jo and Mom Lara are Ukiah's adoptive lesbian mothers. Mom Jo found him in a humane trap when she was studying wolves in Oregon for a master's degree and the two brought him home to Pittsburgh. Mom Lara had brain cancer, but was cured when she got some of Ukiah's half-alien blood. They also have a biological daughter, Callie.

Raymond Kraynak, a homicide detective and a friend of Max's from the Gulf War, is the detective that called them in on the Janet Haze case (Alien Taste). He is also one of the few people who knows Ukiah's secret. He hires Max and Ukiah to find his niece when she disappears in Oregon, and is caught by the Ontongard while looking for her. Ukiah and the Pack manage to save him after finding the Ontongard scout ship and reversing the process. His first appearance is in Alien Taste.

Alicia Kraynak disappears in Oregon, while on a graduate project (and spending her free time looking for Ukiah's family). Kidnapped by the Ontongard, she's turned in their attempt to refill their ranks after Ukiah, Indigo and the Pack clean them out of Pittsburgh. Ukiah and the Pack manage to save her after they find the scout ship, but don't reverse the process soon enough to get rid of Hex's memories. Later in the series, she visits a hypnotist and, under hypnosis, reveals some of Hex's plans for Earth's conquest. She also had feelings for Ukiah, revealed during her kidnapping. Her first appearance is in Tainted Trail.

Magic Boy was the original breeder created by Prime. He is passed down through the Kicking Deer family, helping to raise their children, but he is not permitted to marry because he never received a spirit animal, and could not be considered a man until he did. In 1933, Magic Boy was discovered by the Ontongard and murdered and dismembered, but they were discovered before they had the chance to burn him or capture any of his parts. By the time his family was able to get the police, his body parts had reformed into animals and scattered. The police declared that no body meant no crime, and refused to investigate, presumably because Magic Boy was Native American.

Jesse Kicking Deer is an old man by the time Ukiah meets him. He offered a reward for information on the Umatilla Wolf Boy (Ukiah), but Max discounted the story because Ukiah wasn't old enough (or so he thought). While in the same area of Oregon where Ukiah was discovered to find Alicia Kraynak, Max encouraged Ukiah to follow up on the information, and Ukiah learns about himself from Jesse and his family.

Zoey Kicking Deer, Ukiah's young (and distant) cousin, is the first to believe he is Magic Boy. A candy-striper at the local hospital, she recovers his blood so that the doctors won't find out how different he is. She is kidnapped by the Ontongard at the same time as Kraynak, and turned, but Ukiah and the Pack save her using the scout ship. She has no memories of her time as Ontongard. Her first appearance is in Tainted Trail.

Jared Kicking Deer is the sheriff of Pendleton and Zoe's older brother. He doesn't believe Ukiah at first, and is hostile toward him, but eventually comes to accept him as Magic Boy. He is kidnapped by the Pack and turned into a Get after it is revealed that he knows about the Ontongard. He helped Ukiah recover Zoe and the Kraynaks and reverse the Ontongard infection. He chooses to stay part of the Pack after Ukiah offers to reverse his infection as well. His first appearance is in Tainted Trail.

Cassidy Kicking Deer is Ukiah's distant cousin and the owner of a hardware store. She is the second Kicking Deer to believe that he's Magic Boy, after she compares a photo of Ukiah to a photograph of Magic Boy the family donated to a museum. Her first appearance is in Tainted Trail.

Atticus Steele is Ukiah's "brother." Atticus is a DEA agent investigating a drug-dealing motorcycle gang that has connections to the Pack when he meets Ukiah for the first time. When Magic Boy was killed, his body parts became animals and scattered, leaving behind Ukiah and Little Slow Magic. Yet another part became Atticus Steele, whose story is told in Dog Warrior in an interesting examination of how "nature vs. nurture" makes him different from his "brother" Ukiah. Atticus has difficulty trusting Ukiah at first, because of the nature of their first meeting, and his "testing" by the Pack. Atticus is also plagued by guilt; he and Ukiah may have been together at first, but Atticus left Ukiah behind in the woods to find a family.

Hikaru Takahashi is Atticus's partner and lover. He and Atticus met in college. 'Ru accepts Ukiah long before Atticus does, but only after "testing" him. His first appearance is in Dog Warrior.

Kyle Johnson is the third member of Atticus's team. He is the tech wizard and back-up of the group. He develops a crush on Indigo, and is greatly disappointed to find out that she is dating Ukiah. His first appearance is in Dog Warrior.