Friday, January 6, 2017

The Otherness Factor, by Arlene Marks. A wonderful view of an even bigger picture

Very Large Telescopes use sets of smaller telescopes to give you a bigger picture of the universe than any of the components could on their own. Arlene Marks’ Sic Terra Transit books work the same way. Lots of points-of-view from a variety of characters let you glimpse through little personal portals, into an intriguing and fully realized world. They let you piece together something you couldn’t otherwise experience. Something big.

Book 2, The Otherness Factor, is deliciously different from The Genius Asylum (Book 1). There are overlaps, family connections and, of course, a shared setting (in the broadest of terms – the galaxy is a big place) but Otherness takes on new characters and new concerns. The complexity is built simply, which makes for a very satisfying read.

As Otherness sits in the Sic Transit series, there are several stories sitting within Otherness. A crystal within a crystal. The first part features Lania, and reads like Little House on an Alien Planet, with a post-modern edge. The second part feels like a traditional Bildungsroman, if they traditionally featured more alien cat-like empaths. Part three brings these two together, and result is exciting, swashbuckling and ultimately quite moving.

Marks brings a sense of realness to this unreal world. It resolves the images into something you could not see any other way. Exactly what I want from a novel.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Coup d'├ętat

People, and the press, are looking the wrong way when it comes to the imminent Trump cabinet. Yeah, there is a bunch of billionaire executives. That was to be expected. Some are not billionaires, though. I’m more interested in that other half.

The junta:

Ryan Zinke, ex- Navy Seal Commander
James Mattis, Ret. Marine Corps General
John Kelly, Ret. Marine Corps General
Michael Flynn, Ret. US Army General
Mike Pompeo, first in his class at West Point. Jeff Session, Capt. Army Reserve
Rick Perry, former Air Force Pilot

That’s about half of the cabinet posts, and we’re not done. Who knows, maybe a quiet, bloodless take-over of the American government by the military is good thing. Or at least on honest thing. If we, as a nation, are spending 57% of discretionary spending on the military - $602 billion dollars a year – we should probably have those numbers represented up-front, at the table.

And we should be thankful there were no beheadings. These ‘strokes against the state’ don’t always go so smoothly.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Milkman comes from McDonalds

I love this article by George Monbiot about McDonalds, globalization and the decline of democracy. It reminds me that I may not, in fact, be a total Chicken McNugget Little for writing The Milkman. Some smart people think the rule of corporations is less far-fetched than aliens, killer robots and self-lacing sneakers. (OK, not so much on that last one.)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Connecting a Dot

I’m buying a six-pack of Amazon Echo Dots today. If you are unfamiliar with them, allow me: You plug these hockey puck things into a stereo or a lamp or whatever you like that’s got a plug and then you can tell the Dot to perform that thing's function. Like a Clapper that understands words. You can make your house listen to you. In my case, that means at least something is listening to me.

The wife and kids hear slightly less than a third of what I say, regardless of volume or topic. Which can be very unproductive. I make an announcement like, "I’m going to the store for milk and eggs" and hear back "What the hell is a milk egg? And why do you store them?" Now this could mean I’m terribly boring two out of three times, but that’s no excuse. There could just as easily be a real pearl in there amongst the bivalve, if you get through the goo. I want someone – something, at least – to listen. Always.

So I’m putting a Dot in every room. When I say things like, "Maybe the press is wrong about vampires, too?" or "I'm going to write a short-story about a meatloaf that runs for an open Senate seat" I’ll know, on some level, I’ve been heard.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Milkman comes to the Whitehouse

There has never been a president with no experience outside of the business world. From Washington to Obama, every president served in either public office or the military, a good portion did both. The business world was never considered a solely acceptable preamble for heading the executive branch of the government. Until now.

I’m not making a judgement call here, though I’m tempted. I am saying the corporatization of America has been steady, relentless and increasingly overt. We have taken one more step towards U.S.Inc. The steps are getting close together and hopping much more quickly.

Which is great if you write books about it. As to whether it’s great for anything else? It’s a matter of point-of-view. Like when you’re in a human pyramid. The view is awesome from the top.

Monday, November 7, 2016

If you dont' feel like listening to election returns:
Just Joshing Episode 63 with the graet  is live!   

Friday, November 4, 2016

Bud Writing Lesson

A commercial for Bud Light comes on the TV, showing cans with different football teams. I laugh and say out loud that there’s nothing they can put on a Bud Light that would make me want to drink it.

Nina the daughter says, “Really? Nothing?” and disappears. She returns a few minutes later with a picture showing a penguin, on a bus, writing on his Mackerel laptop.

So, aspiring writers, be careful with absolutes, as in ‘nothing would keep me from downing that penguin Bud’ or ‘I’m always wrong’ or ‘never give writing advice.’