Calico Kids

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One summer became the adventure of a lifetime.

Summer, 1982. When two local teens go missing from the riverside town of Calico, Oregon, a middle school nerd steeped in wild conspiracy theories steps in to investigate.

With a posse consisting of a busboy, a delinquent, an L.A. transplant, and a cheerleader, A.J. sets out to prove that a Satanic cult is behind the disappearances, all while dodging the local sheriff, high school bullies, and a deputy drunk on authority.

But instead of a dark cult, the group encounters a legion of ghosts, mysterious government agents, alien technology, and an interdimensional crisis of literally earth-shattering proportions.

From the author of the Airship Daedalus pulp adventure book series, and adapted from his short story, comes a love letter to retro-’80s science fiction and horror, in the vein of Stranger Things and The Babysitter. Equal parts John Hughes, Stephen King and Steven Spielberg, Calico Kids is a coming-of-age story set in a rural town full of impossible adventures.

There’s a Calico Kids playlist on Spotify! 131 curated songs from 1977-1982, each by a different artist. Mostly post-punk/new wave/early goth, with some metal and album rock of the day. Enjoy this modern version of a mix-tape, either as a soundtrack for the book, or for its own sake!


“I loved the relationships between the friends, and how the female characters had agency and were important members of the crew, not just focus for teen boy hormonal angst. Nostalgia dripped off every page, but not in a heavy-handed way. I loved the coming of age aspect of the story, and the really unique slice of small-town that the author crafted. I kinda wish I’d grown up in Calico.”

– T.L. Heinrich,
Author of The Vigilantes Superhero Universe

Calico Kids feels like one of those memories that you’ve never told your parents, but you still look back on and remember how it felt to be the hero of your own story without the pressures of adulthood bearing down on you.” [5 stars]

– Colin Fisk,
Co-Author, Cyberpunk – The Roleplaying Game of the Dark Future

“A helluva good read. This a deeply knowing and deeply felt dive into the adventures, films and music kids of the 1980s had. Back when you only had to be home by dark (or dinner time) and you were trusted with being able to take care of yourself. This is when the friendships and adventures you had in middle school ran deepest in your soul. CALICO KIDS will remind you of those days if you lived through them and make you pine for them if you’re too young to know what a VHS tape and only 4 channels of TV was like.” [5 stars]

– Mack Lewis,
Screenwriter, The Dark Trail, G-String Hellcats, Shot in the Foot

Calico Kids has everything thirteen-year-old me could have possibly wanted. If my actual adolescence had been anywhere near this cool, I would not have survived it.”

– Mark Parragh,
Author, The John Crane action-adventure series

Calico Kids is a wholesome, nostalgic adventure that combines some of the best parts of stories like E.T. and Stranger Things: relatable characters who tackle fantastic situations with humor and bravery, and a series of experiences that bonds a group of friends for life. Highly recommended!” [5 stars]

– Ralph Fontaine,
Director, Producer, The Edge of Tomorrow, Causality

“Wrapped in well-researched ’80s nostalgia, this mystery and fast-paced sci-fi adventure book will capture your imagination till the very end. I’m an ’80s child/teen and had me very nostalgic, but folks of any age will enjoy this well-written and fun book. A nice bit of respite and escape from everything else going on.” [5 stars]

– Patrick Goddard,
Musician, Go Pound Salt, Cara de Nada

“Todd Downing uses his knowledge and personal experience from the time period as a well crafted tool. His vocal performance for his own audiobook is as good as the story itself. The ability for him to deploy his first generation dude accent, combined with his spot on for the time period, descriptive vivid language, really makes the adventure come alive.” [5 stars]

– Christopher J. Dominic,
Co-host, The Recombobulator Lab