The Prime Celf

Written by Barry Rothstein
Illustrated by Betsy Rothstein
Copyright Barry Rothstein & Elizabeth Anne Martin (later known as Betsy Rothstein), 1980

Click here to download the First Draft - Part 1 of The Prime Celf.

Click here to download the First Draft - Part 2 of The Prime Celf.

Click here to download the First Draft - Part 3 of The Prime Celf.

Click here to download the First Draft - Part 4 of The Prime Celf.

In 1979 I was a young man recently moved to Seattle. There I met a a talented artist / singer / dancer named Elizabeth Anne Martin (aka Betsy), and together, I wrote and she illustrated a children's novel, The Prime Celf. Influenced by Vonnegut, Asimov, Tolkien, Caroll and many others, I love fantasy fiction. Like them I tried to imagine, create and shine a light onto a vast hidden world.

I did marry Betsy, and over the years, I've further developed the story and rewritten parts of The Prime Celf, but never making it very far or satisfactory. With the exception of our kids I feel this story represents my best creative effort.

This story has been moldering in my soul for long enough, so it's time to let it breathe in the open air. I think it's a good story despite my so-so writing skills. I invite you to read it, hopefully enjoy and share it, maybe even add to it. At very least look at Betsy's wonderful drawings.

Our hero is Jill, eleven years old, bright and imaginative, but insecure, as she adjusts to moving to a big city. The time is a not too distant future. The story chronicles her adolescent struggles grappling with the world, and trying to understand her place in it. Ultimately she goes on a knowledge quest inside her own body.

When we think about ourselves and our lives, we tend to think mostly of how we make our way through the modern world we live in, and much thought is given to our thoughts, consciousness, needs, desires.

Now compare yourself to a planet, a world unto itself with its visible exterior, but also containing a vast marvelous inner space of countless environments and eco-systems that provides home, shelter, nourishment, and comfort to billions of lives within. In "The Prime Celf" I populated Jill's inner world with a colorful cast of creatures known as "celfs". They come into being in a number of ways, and come to support and influence their world Jill as we do our planet Earth. When first conceived The Prime Celf was ambitiously envisioned as the first book in a series, Tales from the Innerworld.

As such the story is told on two stages: 1) the "outer" Jill as she makes her way over the course of two days; and 2) the "inner" Jill, the Prime Celf of this inner world, along with the characters, politics and happenings in Jill's inner world during the same time. If this plot seems similar to a popular movie last year, that's fine.

I present The Prime Celf to you serialized into four PDF files, from scans of its first typewritten draft. These are marked on pages, and scans of Betsy's rough illustrations. As such you're seeing it in pretty much its rawest form. If there's interest I'll follow up with some of the subsequent rewrites. I still hope to see and help produce sequels to this story, and a movie, 3-D, of course.

So what is a celf? They're hundreds of thousands of tiny tin voices, each one a'screaming to influence choices.