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Petrogypsies is a critically acclaimed science fiction novel by Rory Harper that has achieved cult status among science fiction fans in the Texas/Oklahoma oilfields[citation needed]. It incorporates a short story that was published in 1985 in Far Frontiers, vol 2. The novel's plot focuses on a group of oilfield workers in an alternate Texas who use giant, semi-sentient, worm-like creatures—possibly of extraterrestrial origin—to drill their wells, and on Sprocket, the team's amazing drilling beast.

DarkStar Books and Rory Harper plan to continue the series in two new books, Sprocket Goes International and Sprocket Goes interstellar.

Plot summary[edit]

Henry Lee MacFarland is a big ugly man, a farmer who is so strong that he has to be gentle, whether he's dealing with livestock or with normal people.

Sprocket is a hundred and twelve feet of healthy young male Driller, dark as a moonless night, with a spiked tongue that can bore four miles into the earth in his relentless quest for the thing he loves best—Texas heavy crude oil.

Doc, Razer, Big Mac, and the others in Sprocket's crew are the roughest, rowdiest bunch in the oilpatch. They live inside of Sprocket's body and travel like gypsies from one drilling job to another. They work like animals. Party like 'em, too.

Then there's Star, the stunning Casing gypsy who has a hankering for fine cigars, a killer instinct at poker, and a taste for big, ugly, strong men.

Looking for adventure, Henry Lee leaves the farm behind and signs on with Sprocket's crew. He gets a lot more "adventure" - as in monsters, mayhem, and murder — than he bargained for.

Publication history[edit]

Originally released in mass market paperback by Baen Books in 1989, Petrogypsies was re-released in December 2009 by DarkStar Books in a revised, semi-illustrated trade paperback version with new cover art by Hugo Award winning artist Brad Foster and illustrations by Jason Carranza.[1]

  • "Petrogypsies". In Far Frontiers, vol.2. Eds.: Jerry Pournelle and Jim Baen. New York: Baen Books, 1985
  • Petrogypsies. New York: Baen Books, 1989. ISBN 0-671-69840-0
  • Petrogypsies. College Station, Texas: DarkStar Books, 2009. ISBN 978-0-9819866-1-6


"Rory Harper's sensibility is warm, earthy, whimsical, cleverly off-center, and, when he wants it to be, bawdy as all get out ... Petrogypsies is a blue-collar, red-neck world where folks sweat and love and work and get hurt ... Petrogypsies has got to be one of the most auspicious debuts of the year."—Ed Bryant, Locus Magazine 1989

"Petrogypsies is a worthy addition to that body of literature that Texas can proudly claim as her own." A Newsvine review of Petrogypsies by Falkeep [2]