Saturday, January 16, 2016

A Plum Job

She’s a natural.  Louise Wellesley, AKA Plum, is beautiful, brilliant and the Renaissance woman in pre-war England.  Her native-born acting ability lures her to the stage to the horror of her straight-laced father, but her determination triumphs, and she draws the attention of an agent—in fact a secret agent.  With war looming, Louise assumes the role of Juliette Beauchamp with the Folies Bergère in Paris while waiting for the password that will activate her as an agent for the Secret Intelligence Service.  When the Nazis invade Paris, two cousins, one a Wehrmacht tank commander and the other a Gestapo officer, clash over the ravishing actress.  One yearns to make love to her, and the other to kill her.

Cenarth Fox tells his story with prose that carries the reader along its fluid course—often with a wry dose of humor.  A Plum Job is a tale of two lives, one the life of a cheeky English schoolgirl, the other a bold and independent young woman who bares her breasts on stage in Paris and outwits the Gestapo.  The scenes are exquisitely set and the characters fully fledged.  For the fan of historical fiction, A Plum Job is required reading.

Not published at Smashwords yet.
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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Alien Child First Chapter

It started before my mom was even born. In 1947, at a place called Roswell, a flying saucer crashed near an Army base. An Army guy pulled a reading device from the hands of a live alien, who they killed the next day. All the other aliens died in the crash. A few years later, the first director of the CIA, a guy named Allen Dulles, assigned Mom’s Uncle Miles to figure out how to translate the stuff on the reader. When he told people why the aliens were here, it got everybody shook up and they decided to keep it a secret so people wouldn’t panic. Mom said she was about six when her Uncle Miles started teaching her to speak alien. He told her it was the language of the Dogon people of Mali. She didn’t find out the truth until she was ready to start college and her uncle was dying. The truth was the aliens from Tau Ceti 4 made the human race as a sort of biology experiment, and they thought they had better put an end to us before we got into outer space with our nasty attitude. They said they had a cosmic responsibility, but they didn’t want to just blowup the Earth because they felt sorry for the other species, so they released a virus that made everyone sterile.
Mom went to work for the CIA as a linguist. Nobody but her knew that the aliens were going to come back to try again, and nobody but her knew that she could talk to them. Back then NASA was worried about asteroids wiping us out like the dinosaurs, so they watched for things that were headed for Earth. When they spotted three big round things coming toward us, Mom went to see her boss and told him they were spaceships. She said he wanted to have her locked up, but she convinced him to let her see the director. At that time the director was a lady named Georgia Turnbull. When I came along she became my Godmother, but I call her Aunt Georgia.
So Aunt Georgia put Mom in charge of the Department of Alien Affairs, which was a top-secret division of the CIA, or the Company as we insiders call it. When Mom took over there were three other people in the department, Uncle Paul, Aunt Jan and Uncle Eddy. They’re not really my aunt and uncles. Mom was an only child, which may explain a few things about her. Anyway, when Uncle Eddy found out Mom could speak their language he got the big idea to get her in contact with them. They got engineering to draw the plans for a cell phone site and Mom recorded a message daring them to build it, then she gave them her phone number.
Mom got pretty close to one alien, but she wasn’t able to talk him out of releasing the virus. I guess she got close because he’s my dad. Yeah, I know that’s really weird, but if you grow up knowing something like that, you pretty much take it for granted. Mom didn’t sit down to have the ‘part of you isn’t human’ talk with me until I was six. It started because I complained about her meatloaf. She’d been thinking about making it all day and I was dreading having to choke it down with tons of milk.
“Terrie, how did you know I was thinking of making meatloaf?” she asked me.
“You’ve been thinking about it all day.”
“I didn’t say anything, did I?”
“No, you were just thinking.”
“And you knew what I was thinking?”
“I always know what you’re thinking.”
“Do you know what other people are thinking?”
“Sure. Don’t you?”
“No, sweetheart, I don’t know what you’re thinking. What am I thinking now?”
“You’re thinking I’ve got ESP.” I answered right away but I didn’t know what it meant.
“Oh, my God. How long have you been able to do this?”
“Always, Mom. What’s the matter?”
“Well, dear, this is something nobody else can do. Do you know what I’m thinking when we’re not together?”
“No, we have to be close. Think how confused I’d be if I knew what everybody was thinking at the same time.”
“I suppose. Do you know why you’re special?”
I recall her looking uncomfortable, but later she told me the idea of having to tell me this had her scared shitless. She always did have a colorful vocabulary.
She said, “You realize that your father doesn’t look much like anyone else?”
“Do you know why?”
“’Cause he’s an alien.”
“That’s right and that’s why your beautiful eyes are the way they are. So this—uh, gift—is something else that you got from your father’s side of the family.”
Now I know she must have been thinking, “What else did she get from him?”
Dad’s name was Deshler—well, it still is unless he’s been vaporized by a comet or something—so my last name is Deshler even though Mom’s name is Player. I didn’t think it strange at the time that other people were named Deshler, especially in Germany, but later Mom said that he told her it was an artifact left in our society from earlier contact with his species. What is strange is to think that he’s heading home in suspended animation, and I’ll be dead before he gets there.
Naturally Mom didn’t describe how I came to be conceived, but I was able to find out about it by spying inside her head. Aliens are hermaphrodites, which is pretty creepy to think about, and Mom couldn’t have gone through with it if she hadn’t been drugged. Uncle Eddy says she was date raped. One of her arguments when trying to convince them not to make everybody sterile was that she wanted to be a grandmother. To Dad’s thinking, getting her pregnant was the closest he could come to fulfilling her wish, so he made her fertile again and consummated the deal.
Part of the plan to wipe out humanity was to release a second dose of the virus after the aliens were gone with some aerosols that were set to go off automatically. Dad and his pals hid them, but after the Russians shot down two of the flying saucers, he had a change of heart and his parting gift to Mom was his personal reading device with the locations of the aerosol canisters stored on it. Aunt Georgia sent Mom and her team out to find them, and later SpaceX blasted them into the sun.
The day I bitched about her meatloaf was the first time she showed me the reader. “I want to show you something,” she said, and took a small metal square thing out of her purse. “This is the reading device your father gave me when he left.”
I held it and instantly heard it reading to me in my head—in Dad’s language, of course. “Cool,” I said, “it knows our secret language.”
“That’s right, dear. Only you and me, your uncles, Eddy and Paul and Aunt Jan can read it. You can read it now too, but you have to let me pick the stories for you.”
I was reading something that was the alien equivalent of Dr. Seuss. “Why,” I asked innocently.
“Because many of the stories are too complicated for your age”
It didn’t take me long to learn that ‘too complicated’ was a euphemism for ‘too filthy.’ Dad had a thing for porn.
“So what do you want for dinner instead of my dry old meatloaf?’
She rolled her eyes. She always rolled her eyes. “Okay, I guess I’ll go make tacos.”
While she was browning the ground beef my half-sister, Sherrie, arrived with my niece and nephew, Bobbi and Cary. Being a little more than a year younger than I am, Cary was still quite the brat. He snatched the reader from me and we got into a shouting match. Our pediatric angst drew a predictable response from Mom and Sherrie who made peace and returned the reader to me. I had finished Dr. Seuss and moved on to a short essay on alien aphrodisiacs, then a lengthy treatise on anti-particle propulsion.
We finished our tacos and had ice cream. Sherrie stayed long enough to help put dishes in the dishwasher. She had gathered her brood and was saying goodbye when Aunt Georgia, who was still Mom’s boss, arrived. Even then I was in awe at how Aunt Georgia looked. Mom naturally seemed old to me and I knew Aunt Georgia was about twenty years older, but aside from her silver hair, you’d think she and Mom were the same age. Where Mom looked sweet and kindly, Aunt Georgia looked like a movie star. I ran to hug her and get fawned over and to show off Dad’s reading device. Of course she knew all about it from her days as director of the CIA. Now she ran Turnbull Academy where she secretly dispensed doses of the anti-virus that restores fertility.
“So, what have you been reading?” she asked.
When I told her she took it better than Mom.
After Mom took the reader from me and fixed Aunt Georgia a Martini, she broke the news about me being able to read minds. She looked skeptical and asked me to tell her what she was thinking.
“You’re wondering when Mom is going to get her head screwed on straight about Turnbull Academy.”
“I’ll be darned. It’s true.”
Mom said, “Now we have to watch what we think, and for the record, I may never get my head screwed on straight.”
Mom and Aunt Georgia were always arguing about the anti-virus. Aunt Georgia had control of it and only gave it to the graduates of her extremely conservative university. Mom wanted to give it to the government and let them decide what to do. I sided with Aunt Georgia.
Aunt Georgia said, “Carrie, we are reshaping the human race. Culling the herd. Improving mankind.”
“But the birth rate is way too slow.”
“It will pick up. The kids are busy building careers.”
“They should be building families.” Mom got herself some more wine and offered me a Coke. I accepted.
Aunt Georgia continued. “The U.S. population is decreasing by three million a year and world population by fifty-six million. That in itself is solving a lot of problems. Anyway, the reason I came here tonight is to tell you that I’m opening academies in Europe and I want you to train the boards of admissions.”
“Where in Europe?” Mom asked.
“England, France, Spain, Switzerland and Italy.”
“What about Germany?”
“Carrie, don’t you think the Germans have caused enough trouble?”
She rolled her eyes again. “What about Terrie?”
“Well, take her of course. It’ll be a great experience and school doesn’t start for two months. That should be plenty of time.”
I thought it was a great idea. Mom said, “I suppose. Four more academies will be a boost for the population recovery.”
Then Aunt Georgia turned to me. “Okay, smarty, what am I thinking now?”
“That you’re going to start Turnbull Industries.”
Mom said, “Now what?”
Aunt Georgia gave her a dirty look. “Turnbull Industries will employ our engineering grads in the development of alien technology.”
I thought that was another great idea and was looking forward to getting ray guns and anti-gravity shoes for Christmas. I hadn’t had any time to study alien stuff except anti-particles and aphrodisiacs but I wanted to be part of the conversation so I said, “You mean like anti-particle propulsion?”
“That’s right, sweetheart. What can you tell me about it?”
“First you need two plasma fields to keep the anti-particles from the particles, but you have to go into space to collect anti-particles and we’re stuck on Earth.”
“Not quite stuck. SpaceX’s Falcon can reach geosynchronous orbit.”
“That should be far enough,” I said as if I knew.
Mom said, “What have I created?” She was always a little melodramatic.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy 2016

Will 2016 be the most critical year since 1792 in the history of the United States?  It surely will.  With the ratification of the Constitution and the unanimous election of George Washington this country plunged into unknown territory and enjoyed the most  glorious outcome in the history of this planet.  Despite the machinations of Adams, Hamilton and the like, and Lincoln's belligerent rashness, we have risen to the apex of human society, until that ill-conceived political experiment with a strong third party candidate saddled us with the Clinton dynasty.  Hanging on by a chad, we dodged the pseudo scientist, Al Gore, who still claims his father built the interstate highway system, but sadly we ended with the affable but ineffective Bush II.

Former Czech president, Václav Klaus famously observed that the United States could survive Obama, but never the electorate that put him in office.  There has never been a keener observation.  As we contemplate 2016 with five aircraft carriers vulnerably anchored in the same harbor, our military brain trust gutted, Iran being handed nuclear weapons and the phrase "Islamic extremism" stricken from the language, we cling to a bombastic buffoon with ten billion dollars for salvation.

It defies belief to consider that supposedly intelligent creatures can witness the collapse of the most powerful socialist society in history, in fact not just the collapse of the Soviet Union, but its utter disappearance, and still remain convinced that that system is viable.  Russia for all its malignant power is not successor to CCCP.  Twenty-first century Russia is a capitalist country breeding petro-billionaires and prospering on a flood of western imports.  Despite the total failure of communism—socialism being merely a euphemism for communism—an ever larger slice of American society clamors to turn their future wellbeing over to a bloated and impotent bureaucracy that repeatedly has shown itself to be incapable of finding its ass with both hands.

I want to let all of you know that the day in 2007, even before the crisis of Obama landed on us, when I wrote the checks that gave 35% of my retirement savings to the government had a profound effect on me.  Thirty-five percent of my family's future security went into a black hole wherein it was funneled by overpaid miscreants with huge under-funded pensions into the hands of illegal immigrants, families without a single member holding a job since Lyndon Johnson rammed his Great Society down our throats, women without partners who breed for income and trolls living under bridges with stolen grocery carts.  No, I do not condone socialism, nor what it does to the human condition.

In the coming year we are going to be driven mad by politics.  All the posturing, lambasting and lying will have very little effect on the mindset of the electorate who are either crying for relief or firmly wedded to the death spiral of the Obama/Clinton agenda.  Inconsequential issues will drive the outcome.  I don’t know what those issues will be but the survival of the United States teeters on them.  Lest we go the way of the Soviet Union, that is now hardly a footnote in history, we must somehow find effective and intelligent leaders and shun that political contrivance who threatens to be our ruin only for the sake of being the first woman.  It doesn’t matter at all who is her opposition.  The rightminded would cast votes for a Republican chimpanzee or Attila the Hun to be spared from Hillary, but in my own case the GOP candidate is even less important, because in California, as soon as I cast my vote for president, it is nullified by the Electoral College since there is no chance this state will carry the Republican.  That is one unfortunate artifact left in the sublime document adopted in 1792 that may well spell the doom of our nation in 2016.

Happy New Year to all!

Tin Monkeys

Reviewed for

A truly repulsive human being, a brilliantly eccentric TV scientist and an altruistic sycophant intertwine their lives and deaths. FBI agent Singer with his new partner, idealistic rookie, Anne Goodwin, investigate the bizarre death of mad scientist, Doctor Theodore Grant, whose remains are found at his Ozark Mountains palatial retreat in an unusual condition—dust. The good doctor did, however, leave a video record of his final months as he spiraled into the maelstrom of madness, ultimately professing to have proven the existence of sentient nanobots inhabiting and controlling everyone and everything. Agent Goodwin is young, naive and enamored of the late Doctor Grant. Special Agent Singer is jaded, profane and utterly corrupt. His former partner having been murdered by his wife, who Singer supposedly threw into an abandoned industrial well in revenge for the death of his longtime friend and ally. Singer’s reality is somewhat suspect due to massive doses of Dilaudid, whiskey and insomnia. His behavior attracts the attention of his supervisor who orders his psychiatric evaluation by the voluptuous shrink, Doctor Carrie Dent—this can only exacerbate Singer’s problems. In the meantime, Agent Goodwin goes missing and the loyal agent side of Singer emerges to attempt to rescue his partner, if in a slightly conflicted state. He quickly locates her in a rural campground where she has replicated Doctor Grant’s lethal experiment.

Tin Monkeys is a many-layered onion. Every time one shell falls a whole new parallel universe reveals itself. The reader is hauled from Agent Singer’s gutter to Anne Goodwin’s utopia and into Doctor Grant’s hell, then back again. Andrenik Sergoyan enfolds some, in fact a great deal of cutting edge science into this convoluted tale of micro and macro predestination versus free will. He explores all reaches of the cosmos and theology with equal aplomb and continually returns to the seamy underbelly of a rogue cop’s sordid self-destruction. Tin Monkeys will intrigue, repulse and befuddle you. How can you resist?

I haven't found Tin Monkeys available for sale to date.  I'm sure it will hit the retailers soon.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Children of the Nakba

Israel’s problems have always been existential.  In the late 1970’s Egyptian president, Anwar Sadat, grew tired of the expense of  constant warfare, and offered his hand to Israel to the outrage of Palestinian terror group, Fatah.  The group’s leader, who used the  nom de guerre Jihad, organized a raid on a prominent Tel Aviv hotel for the purpose of forcing Israel to release terrorist prisoners and striking terror in general.  One of the leaders of the suicide assault force was his mistress.  Due to the treachery of a hired skipper, the terrorists put ashore many miles north of their target.  To salvage at least part of their mission they hijack two busloads of Jewish tourists.  The force that the Israeli authorities cobbled together to rescue the hostages and prevent the terrorists from reaching Tel Aviv resembles nothing familiar to modern Israel.

David Calder’s massive knowledge of his topic plunges the reader into the thick of the action.  It is clear that Mr. Calder has walked the route taken by the ill-fated tour bus more than once and has laid hands on the gravestones of the victims.  Rarely have I read a novelized account of a real event that carried me into the scene so completely.  For historical insight, action and mayhem, don’t miss Children of the Nakba.

Price $6.99

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Monday, November 2, 2015

Smart Guns?

A segment I saw on 60 Minutes last night about "smart guns" that only fire for the registered owner really piqued my interest.  The guns may be smart, but the fools promoting them define stupid.  I can think of three scenarios to prove it.

1. You want to shoot up the school or a movie theater: you are the registered owner of the smart gun, so there is no problem.

2. You want to rob a liquor store: you are going to use a Saturday night special that is not registered to anyone, so there is no problem.

3. You want to defend yourself from the intruder in your home who just killed your husband: the smart gun is registered to your dead husband and it will not fire for you, so there is a problem.

Happy Day of the Dead

Monday, October 26, 2015

A Brother's Oath (Tales of Hengest and Horsa)

The scorned second son of a nobleman in fifth century Jute-land abandons his youth of wealth and comfort for the life of a sea raider, but he swears a blood oath before Woden that he will return and save his brother’s life as his brother had done for him.  Horsa, the younger brother finds wealth, power and adventure on the stormy northern sea. He also makes powerful enemies. Hengest’s hope of familial bliss is dashed when a powerful king enlists his loyalty, and by code of honor, he must leave his family to accompany the king on his quest to unite the tribes. Unbeknownst to him, Hengest makes a potent enemy as well.

A Brother’s Oath is great tale of swashbuckling in pagan times when monsters of Grendel’s ilk howled at night outside the mead halls.  I’ve been a fan of Hengest and Horsa since they were first introduced to me in Norman Davies’ history of the British Isles, aptly title The Isles.  These two have inspired tales the like of Beowulf and Hamlet.  Chris Thorndycroft has done a fine job of adding some new flesh to their bones in A Brother’s Oath.  It is a fun and easy read written in straightforward, if a touch too modern, prose. Mr. Thorndycroft also gives us a peek at the further adventures of those fifth century funsters with a preview of an upcoming sequel or two.

Price $3.99

87,780 words

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