Joseph Green is “Running Wild” after his NASA career–and still writing SciFi

14702476_10210826879017954_4758305608141592723_nA 37-year veteran of the American space program, retired from NASA at age 66, Joseph “Joe” Green wrote five novels, with a sixth on the way. More than 70 of his short stories and nonfiction essays have been published in iconic and long-running magazines such as Analog: Science Fiction Fact and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (F&SF). Prices on those vintage magazines range from $3 online to more than $2,000 each. Few of us have access to Green’s stories in their original format, but fifteen stories from that era are now within easy reach thanks to “Running Wild,” 51gs-ggvetl-_uy250_available as a $3 ebook or a $15 paperback. Here’s the link:  Running Wild: Unfettered Stories of Imagination  

**Bonus** Green has written a new introduction to all fifteen stories selected from across the years. We learn more about his occasional co-author, Patrice Green, an avid genealogist and a web site designer (see Greenhouse Scribes).

Also worth noting: since 2012, Joseph Green has written science articles and half a dozen short stories exclusively for Perihelion Science Fiction, an ezine you can read for free (donations are welcome, of course, to keep fresh, original cover art, comics, stories, reviews, and nonfiction articles coming). My review will go live in the 12-November-2016 issue of Perihelion. This review is merely a sneak preview, with bonus images and quotes from emails that have graced my inbox from the legend himself. {Shameless. Yes. I am.} Thanks to Sam Bellotto Jr, another living legend, I’ve had the honor, and pleasure, of corresponding with the best of the best in this business.

Most of the stories in “Running Wild” are from Analog or F&SF, but “I sometimes felt  the urge to write something not really wanted at either,” Joe writes in the Introduction. “These more daring or unconventional stories usually appeared in smaller (and often short-lived) magazines, whose editors were eager to make an impact on the field. Stories like An Alien Conception or The Seventh Floor could  not have been published in the larger circulation (and much better paying) magazines.”

Born during the Great Depression (1931), Joe Green grew up in a tiny town in the Deep South (fewer than 500 people, mostly rural), with first grade through twelfth in the same building, no kindergarten, and no special classes for the talented and gifted. Only in America does a farm boy become a rocket scientist and a legendary author, right? His work has been translated into German, Italian, Spanish, French, Polish and Dutch. His novel Gold the Man, also known as The Mind Behind the Eye (1971), may be his most famous. Joe is a charter member of the Science Fiction Writers of America,  he’s rubbed elbows with superstars of the Golden Age, and is himself one of those legends–but the closest he’ll come to boasting is an understated  I ‘spose I am a member of the SF ‘establishment.’

“I’ve been around a long time,” Joe says.

Much has changed since his childhood in the segregated South, “before the racial integration that has tremendously improved our society,” he writes in his Introduction to “The Seventh Floor.” However, “we still have a long way to go… I took in prejudice with my mother’s milk, not learning better until about age 14, when I read a book on anthropology and discovered all humans are basically equal. For many older people of that time, such deep-seated beliefs can’t be expunged, which helps explain why major societal change seems to occur by generations.” Only a few manage to shed old fallacies along the way–“though not without trauma, trouble and strife.”

This is the hallmark of science fiction. More than the iconic little green Martians, rocket ships, and busty babes wielding laser guns, Green expresses the best of humanity and the worst. Sensitivity, insight, and progress are forever challenged by selfishness, greed, and resistance to change.

He joined The Boeing Company in 1959, then five years later accepted a job at the Kennedy Space Center, where he worked for 31 years. He served for six years as document specialist and member of the launch team on the Atlas-Centaur program. He supported the Apollo Program from beginning to end, including (with then-wife Juanita) providing pre-launch parties for the science fiction community on all moon landing missions. He also supported the Space Shuttle program from its beginning until he retired from NASA (as Deputy Chief, Education Office) at the end of 1996.

51tlstqgdyl-_ux250_  “I don’t particularly want to talk about my golden age friends,” Joe emailed me. “Too many of ’em, and too varied the degree of friendship.”

But…but… as long as I don’t publish it in Perihelion, it’s okay, because hardly anyone reads my blog. {ahem} So…here’s that email:

Hi, Carol: I’ve known a lot of SF authors, some “golden age” and most younger than that. Author Clarke was a long-time friend; usually had dinner with us at the Greenhouse when visiting the Kennedy Space Center, and I always arranged to have myself assigned as his escort while there. Robert Heinlein was here for the Apollo 11 prelaunch party (along with Clarke and a host of others), and he became a casual friend; called me a little before he died, I THINK  to say good-by (we were out, and just got the recorded message he left). Gordon Dickson was a frequent visitor here, attended all the prelaunch parties he could manage (one for every moon landing mission). So did Poul and Karen Anderson. John W. Campbell once stayed with us for five days. Leigh Brackett and Edmond Hamilton spent three days here as our guests, while attending the Apollo 12 launch and party. Andre Norton lived nearby for many years, and was a casual friend. So is Harlan Ellison, Robert Silverberg, and a host of others (casual friendships). Roger Zelazney was a friend. Joe and Gay Haldeman are sill, and so was Jay while alive. And it goes on. I’ve been around a long time. I was active in convention circles in the 70s and 80s, served in several positions in SFWA . . . in short, I ‘spose I am a member of the SF ‘establishment.’

“Running Wild” is worth the price of admission just for Joe’s new introduction to all fifteen stories. I, not being as humble as the accomplished Joe Green, will gleefully tell you how fun and awesome it is to have some of these stories in my house, in the original analogs, which I bought a few years ago at ICON, Iowa’s longest running Science Fiction Convention. 

To See the Stars That Blind is the first story co-authored with his wife, “the first of many joint efforts,” Joe writes, “and in my not-so-humble opinion, still the best.” 

Three-Tour Man 51zfgex8xxl-_sx373_bo1204203200_   Buy Used  $2,101.99  + $3.99 shipping

The Fourth Generation 

At the Court of the Chrysoprase King 

Walk Barefoot on the Glass 

The Seventh Floor  sounds vaguely autobiographical. The hero, John, “had been blind for a week as a child–an acute case of a type of granular conjunctivitis, endemic in the Northwest Florida sand hills where he was born–and suffered from poor vision throughout adolescence.” Medication and glasses “had gotten him past the army physical.”  Now he was 28, “the first member of his large family ever to attend college.”


…And Be Lost Like Me 

A Custom of the Children of Life 

A Star Is Born 

Last of the Chauvinists 

Wrong Attitude 

An Alien Conception 

One-Man Game  515dwujfncl-_sx354_bo1204203200_1 February 1972. Cover art by John Schoenherr illustrating “Fido” by William J. Frogge. ALSO: Robert F. Young, Joseph Green, Henry Sauter and more. Editor: Ben Bova.

Gentle Into That Good Night  51meq5uvpzl-_sx337_bo1204203200_ 

41qitlpro-l-_sx248_bo1204203200_ Collectible – Very Good – $20.00 + $3.99 shipping

New York; The Condé Nast Publications, Inc.; 1974; 1st Edition
Cover art by Frank Kelly Freas. This was one of the last issues of Analog Science Fiction Science Fact edited by John W. Campbell, Jr.. In this issue Campbell’s editorial is about the Big Bang. 14695387_10210955394470760_1935660701152719661_n    14721608_10210955394430759_8014716240185372598_n

51pxgu5clpl-_sx345_bo1204203200_“Manufacturing in Space”, Analog, December 1970 14671071_10210955492793218_1613765522279787574_n 14681728_10210955492833219_4884323567447668728_n

51ivzfxpgal-_sx340_bo1204203200_ “The Crier of Crystal”, Analog, October 1971. 14670719_10210955398830869_7093909439220593176_n

  • “Talus Slope”, Perihelion Science Fiction, February 2013 fullcover004
  • “Curfew Tolls the Parting Day”, (with Shelby Vick) 1305Perihelion Science Fiction, May 2013
  • “Mortality, Eternity”,1401 Perihelion Science Fiction, January 2014
  • “Their Trailing Skies For Vestment”, 13041 (with Shelby Vick) Perihelion Science Fiction, April 2014″Stolen Dreams”, (with R-M Lillian) 1505Perihelion Science Fiction, May 2015



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Sam Bellotto Jr: “I want to be a cyborg”

.1402  “I want to be a cyborg.” –Sam Bellotto  Jr  (cover art by Peter Saga for 12-Feb-2014 Perihelion Science Fiction) #GottaLove Robots byPeterSaga!

Me too! We all do, Sam – certainly, all we who feel the effects of gravity on our aging bodies, the toll of living on a planet that doesn’t yet have E.T.’s magic fingertip healing all our injuries and ills. (More on that in a minute.)

“IN A COUPLE OF WEEKS, I am going to turn 70,” Sam wrote in his 12-Sept-2016 editorial While My Left Wrist Heals at Perihelion Science Fiction. “I’m quite healthy for an old geezer. One of the front liners of the Baby Boom generation. I like to flip the Grim Reaper the bird.” b47b2940d256b3c6235bd673a0bcf09c Alas, Sam, hubris (not to  mention mere optimism) never goes unpunished.

“I realized that my left hand hurt like a sonofabitch,” Sam continued. “It wasn’t swollen, or discolored. But I couldn’t use it. Even tying my shoes was incredibly painful. I saw my doctor. X-rays were taken. Nothing of any great concern showed up on the radiography. Meds prescribed…I should take the pain medication as directed and get plenty of rest.”

samnew1 On the bright side, all work on the 12-SEPT-2016 issue of “Perihelion” was done, except for the Editorial. “I have no more desire to type one-handed,” he said, so he posted excerpts from a golden age of editorials, including this:

February, 2014. “A Cyborg’s Life for Me.”

When I get out of bed, my knees hurt. My toes hurt, too. Lack of cartilage in the joints. The bones rub against each other, and this is painful. My mother suffered from osteoarthritis for a good chunk of her life. She had a number of surgeries to alleviate the condition. But I don’t want the doctors to replace bone with the equivalent in titanium. I want to be a cyborg. Cyborg, cyborg man, I gotta be a cyborg man!

 1309  D. Strologo, 9-12-2013 Perihelion cover

Sam continued typing one-handed, noticed his swollen knee getting even more swollen, and figured it was nothing he couldn’t handle. Until the pain was more than he can handle. He summoned an ambulance, got neighbors to watch over his Labrador Retriever, and nearly died before Emergency Room could lance his knee, drain a nasty infection, get him on antibiotics and painkillers, and fight to keep Sam’s heart from being the next stop on that evil staphylococcus bug’s tour of Sam’s body.

It was a dark and scary time. Thanks to all who sent their wishes for a speedy recovery. Sam has several weeks of emails to catch up on, but at least he can type well enough to get the November issue out (just not to reply to everything in his inbox).

The October 2016 Perihelion was delayed a month. Sam could only be administered so much pain medication, so it took some time in physical therapy before Sam was finally sent home. (Yes, his dog is overjoyed.) Founded in 1967 by Sam Bellotto and Eric Jones as college students who published Dean Koontz before anyone else did, and scoring interviews with Asimov and others, Perihelion resumed publication in November, 2012. Fitting that after the October near-death incident, Perihelion will resume in November, 2016, with an all-new issue full of fresh, original stories, reviews, comics, articles, and artwork by Peter Saga, one of my personal favorites. A little bird told me PENGUINS find their way onto the November cover. #Ican’tWait!

A review of Joseph Green’s anthology will go live the twelfth of November. Yes, *the* Joseph Green, a peer of Asimov, Clarke, and all those golden-agers, is still writing! He has a new novel coming down the pike, and he’ll anthologize half a dozen short stories written in recent years as Perihelion exclusives. #GottaLoveJoeGreen!

51tlstqgdyl-_ux250_  51gs-ggvetl-_uy250_ Wildside Press (4-Sept-2016)

The amazing Chet Gottfried, novelist, short story writer and contributor to Perihelion, will share some of his secrets for capturing incredible, gorgeous, and amazing images of bugs (not the staph kind, but spidery and insecty bugs). #This I gotta see!

d5156a-chet-tshirt-small  cncp9frwcaeccx3

Also coming in November or December, a new cartoon from Betsy Streeter to go with a just-for-fun exploration on How to Destroy the Earth from various Perihelion authors – and an article on UFOs from Preston Dennett. No spoilers from me on what’s in it, but I’m hoping Dennett has more evidence of UFO Healings: True Accounts of People Healed by Extraterrestrials .  51dffuqv2bol-_sx322_bo1204203200_1 You can also see and hear Dennett via his video at youtube:  Extraterrestrials Healing Humans. Now, to get these ETs to visit Sam and cure him of his arthritis, if not grant his wish and make a cyborg out of him.

Back to that 2014 editorial. Sam wrote:

I don’t want to see my original leg with a lengthy scar over the knee. I want to see a glistening metal leg that makes a faint whirring noise when it moves, powered by an internal pencil-point-sized nuclear reactor. The advantages are numerous; aside from being impervious to mosquito bites, the cybernetic leg would never tire. I could stand on it for hours. It would also contain a programmable GPS system that I could set for a specific route or destination, and let the leg do all the walking. Okay, my other real leg would still be required, primarily for balance, but that’s significantly less work than it does right now. Using a cyborg leg would be almost like driving a car. I could relax, enjoy the scenery, maybe even grab a short snooze while the leg gets me to my destination, on the right.

Let’s not stop there. I’ve a bit of arthritis in my elbows and wrists, too. My arms have never been all that strong. During my 30s when I was probably in the best physical shape I ever was, I jogged three miles per day, but could only manage twenty pull-ups (pronated grip). I’m right-handed, so I am looking to replace my right arm assembly. In addition to the benefits of no more pain and extra strength, I would like to weaponize that arm. Legally licensed, of course. I’m thinking small arms, something in a 9mm automatic that fires from the wrist. I wouldn’t want to replace the hand itself. Four fingers and an opposable thumb are still one of the greatest inventions of the Cenozoic Era. With programmable digits that can fly across the keyboard at lightning speed, however, I’d be able to write, typo-free, and simultaneously use my left hand for drinking coffee.

I approve. Sign me up, too!

“I can put cataract surgery in my Amazon Wish List for my eightieth birthday,” Sam wrote in his September 2016 editorial, before he had any inkling he’d wind up at death’s door before his seventieth birthday. “Contributions are welcome.”

Unless, of course, Dennett dispatches those miracle-healer ETs before then…

I’m one of many wishing you a belated Happy Birthday (!) and a complete recovery, Sam!

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Men in Kilts, Ghosts of Culloden inspired Diana Gabaldon’s #Outlander – and saved my marriage

NOTE: Scroll to the end if it’s ghosts you want to read about.

Never thought I’d become a stark, raving Outlander fan, but thanks to novelist Diane Ryan (aka Rhonda Kay), I’ve joined the legions of Droughtlanders (in the purgatory of awaiting Season 3 of the Starz TV series). Meanwhile, I read about Outlander every day via Twitter or Facebook. (I know. I know. Get a life!) Note: Years ago, early in our marriage, my husband said “reading fiction would be a waste of my time.” My #1 pastime is writing fiction. I’d already vowed to have and to hold, to love and to cherish, until death us do part, so what to do? Find some Historical Fiction adapted to a TV show with sex, nudity, military battles, blood and gore, AND exceptional acting, costuming, setting, and cinematography:

outlander The Outlander book series has sold more than 27 million copies worldwide, and it served as the basis for the popular Starz television show of the same name.outlander_claire_randall_jamie_fraser

Fan Magic is not escapism. No one “escapes” the reality of daily life by following a celebrity on Twitter who follows them back. No one “escapes” the horrors of modern society by becoming part of a Facebook subculture. No one “escapes” the bad news by hearing only the good news. But having fun with other human beings, sharing each others’ sorrows and concerns, rallying behind a working professional whose portfolio and social outreach into his own community is fast becoming legendary…well, those things sure help strike a balance. And they offer hope.  -Diane Ryan, Fan Magic” (September 23, 2016)

Before I go on (Scott Kyle, we love you as Ross and demand that you return in Season 3), I have to make a pitch for the entire cast, consummate actors, all, and the one who steals my heart: Angus Mhor  (actor Stephen Walters). Angus is the anglicized form of Aonghas, which possibly means “unique strength” derived from Irish óen “one” and gus “force, strength, energy”. Mhor comes from the Gaelic mòr, which means “big, great, large”. On the TV show, he is physically dwarfed by Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughen), but Angus/Stpehen’s personality is outsized by no one:

f8cce9b3ca3cb0662375a085d313d16d  fhd004lyc_stephen_walters_002 Stephen Walters

Now, back to the Ghosts of Culloden.

How many fans know that Jamie was inspired by the “true story of a group of Jacobites who sought shelter in a croft and were all subsequently killed – except one whose surname was Fraser”-?  Or that “Over the years, creepy stories about the ghosts at Culloden Moor have been told again and again”-? culloden-moor-memorial-cairn-plaque-c2a9-2006-scotiana

A force of 4,500 Catholic Highlanders loyal to Bonnie Prince Charlie died on Culloden Moor, 16th April, 1746. It was the last battle fought on British soil for the House of Stuart.Only twelve British soldiers were killed in a battle which lasted little more than an hour. The dead rebel Highlanders were buried on the site. All that marks the spot now is a giant cairn of stones. To this day, visitors claim to see the dim form of a battle-weary Highlander at dusk, near the cairn; this dark-haired warrior, said to wear the red Stuart tartan, has also be seen lying on the stones of the cairn, as if resting.

On Drumossie Moor the sad echoes of Culloden battle…

Every April 16th, the locals tense, knowing what they will hear.  Someone in the vicinity will discern the yells, and weapons clashing; the drummers beating a tattoo, until they suddenly stop. 

And somehow that’s worse.  When it stops.  When it’s over.

It’s said that every year, without fail, the battle happens again upon Drummossie Moor.  For the most part it’s sounds, a clairaudient cacophony filling the air.  But then there’s the wandering highlander too.

Nobody knows who he is.  He seems lost, heading shell-shocked, stopping, staring, moving on a step, then stopping again.  There’s never anyone close enough to speak with him. They just watch his dazed progress from a distance. 

Then, as they draw near, he’s gone.  That’s April 16th too.  Every year. 

… Archaeologists have found many items here – hacked musket parts, pistol balls and ripped-off buttons. All these are clear evidence of a desperate close-range fight.

Diane Ryan, the next part is especially for you, in light of Tania’s paranormal investigations in Talking To Luke: Haunting Gets Personal  (Free! Download @amazon)

Temperatures Fluctuate Around the Cairns

Andrea Byrne of Scottish Paranormal took a team of investigators onto Drummossie Moor. They interviewed the staff of the tourist center, who said that they frequently hear reports from visitors, who have seen something strange or heard the sounds of battle.

Using dowsing rods, they discerned an energy line between Cumberland’s Stone and St Mary’s Well.

 The most dramatic readings came from their temperature monitor. As they crossed the moor, all seemed well. But not at the graves. There temperature and humidity rose and fell with each step they took between the cairns.

“I’ve walked a lot of battlefields. Most are not haunted – that one is.”-Diana Gabaldon

outlander-700x315 The Battle of Culloden marked the end of the Jacobite rebellion in April of 1746. It was a short, bloody battle, but it lives on in Gabaldon’s “Outlander” and in ghost sightings.

When Gabaldon  visited Culloden Moor, “she actually experienced the haunted feeling as she walked through the scene of bloody battles past”–and “almost breaks down in tears when talking about the ghosts she feels at Culloden”(speaking to Cathy MacDonald for the BBC’s Gaelic Alba channel). Culloden and famous bloody battle features prominently in the Outlander series. “Most tales seem to involve the spirits of Highlanders lost on the battle field. Experiences range from sightings of a tall, desolate Highland warrior wandering the fields to those of bodies of the fallen soldiers lying quietly on the ground beneath the cover of tartan.” Gabaldon “possesses a keen knack for describing the horrors of the battlefield while maintaining an empathetic, compassionate voice.”  READ MORE Daily Record UK


Men in Kilts – Another bit of Outlander trivia:

“I didn’t know anything about Scotland, but the image of the men in kilts stayed in my head,”Gabaldon says f7fd9e90ba8437abdbb59e0d558bbc69 in an interview with BBC Alba … the American author reveals that she didn’t know much about Scotland when she began writing Outlander (see here for her research process).


Historical Fiction with Time Travel: Why did she include Past vs Present?

“As I started writing the character of Claire Randall, she just wouldn’t speak like an 18th Century English woman at all. She was speaking in a modern tone of voice,” Gabaldon says. After “wrestling” with these inconsistencies for a while, she decided to embrace them: she made Claire a modern woman who accidentally travels back in time to 1743, where she meets and marries Jamie Fraser. Their tale spans eight novels, and a ninth book — Go Tell The Bees That I Am Gone— is currently in the works.

The Horses of Outlander –


Barbara Schnell of Germany owns some of the horses of Outlander. She also translates the books from English to German. Schnell bought her first Friesian, a mare she still owns, named Ronja, with her proceeds from her first Gabaldon translation. To further the connection, Schnell’s lovely gelding Talisker is the son of the REAL Lucas, the Friesian who was the direct inspiration for the fictional Phillip Wylie’s gorgeous horse, a stallion we meet in The Fiery Cross. For Schnell it was love at first sight. “The first time I saw a Friesian (the original Lucas), I couldn’t believe that something this majestic and beautiful actually existed,” she said. “The chance to breed Ronja to him was a wonderful gift.”

Schnell (which is German for “quick”) met Diana Gabaldon in spring 1992 from a random online encounter. Google’s German-to-English translator leaves much to be desired: “Since I set up the camera with passion always on horses – and when the opportunities to travel to Scotland, have become increasingly rare, as the photographic and personal encounters with wonderful four-legged friends and their dedicated bipeds are the best compensation… Welcome and enjoy browsing these pages.”

Outlander #FanMagic inspired Diane Ryan’s blog with its “wee mention” of Scott Kyle @scottjkyle1  – and Diana Gabaldon herself publicly thanked Diane for it (how cool is that?):
Very honored, Diane! Fan Magic is that amazing surge of creativity and social bonding that seems to come out of nowhere.



Excerpts from Diane Ryan’s blog:

Author Diana Gabaldon recently coined a phrase,“Fan Magic,” to describe the outpouring of genuine warmth and support from people who love her Outlander books and the TV series …“Magic” is not too colorful a word in this case. It almost makes you wonder who’s done all the praying for this to happen.

…What’s so important about fandom, and celebrity, and making some sort of connection—real or imagined—with people you’ve never met? Especially when the world is burning to the ground all around us? Five minutes of any news broadcast will leave no doubt that innocents are dying and idiots are looting and psychopaths are committing genocide in far-flung regions of the world…

This morning I woke to learn my words from a previous blog post had been quoted, with attribution, in a Scottish newspaper. The Rutherglen Reformer has done a series of features on one of their native sons, none other than the highly popular and well-loved Scott Kyle of unexpected Outlander fame. Media in his hometown has picked up on the fact that people all over the world are drawing positive energy from and becoming inspired by the real-life example Kyle sets every day for benevolence and mutual respect.

I’ve witnessed this real-life example myself, up close and personal, from a front row seat o
n Twitter, and now on Facebook. I’m a card-carrying member of the Kylander Army, which is one of the most benevolent and mutually respectful groups of people I have ever met in my life. There’s always a cheery good morning, check-ins on members who may be going through a rough patch, and some seriously funny humor (“WTF-o-meter”…folks, you will see that phrase again. Maybe as soon as the sequel to my current novel is published.) Like begets like, and the seeds of Kyle’s social media crop of kindness are starting to bear fruit.

41b3tjfjczl-_uy250_  54552744_1392321215  I am Southern, and my characters are, too. Even more, Luke is 19th century Southern. Fascinating stuff. ~DianeRyan

From @DianeRyanRK on Twitter:

— Bawling like a fool in Walmart parking lot. Thank you for doing this to me Carol. Thanks a lot. LOL “I do want to know more about this…JamieFraser” Jamie & Claire – There you’ll be via

— OL fandom IS special. I’ve never seen anything like it and am forever changed as a human being for having witnessed it. @DianeRyanRK, via Twitter
Diane, we all feel that way. Thank you for turning me (and my husband!) into an Outlander addict. We may have been “unequally yoked,” but over time, he’s been forced to concede that fiction is more than escapism, and it is not a waste of time.
On that note, here’s a bit more history for my husband:

They used to call it Drumossie Moor – a bleak stretch of boggy, heather-clad upland moor above Culloden House, south-east of Inverness, overlooking the broad waters of the Moray Firth. This was where the last pitched battle on British soil was fought, on 16 April 1746.

Culloden is now one of the flagship possessions of the National Trust for Scotland. The moor had become unrecognisable as a battle-site. In 1835 a road had been driven right through the graveyards of the fallen clansmen. Much of the land was shrouded under a blanket plantation of sitka spruce, making it impossible to visualise the true setting of the battle. In 1980 the NTS purchased from the Forestry Commission 180 acres of land which had been planted with conifers. The mature trees were felled and the road realigned. At last it was possible to see again the moor as it had been when the encounter took place. The field has been marked with the positions of the kilted Highland clans and the red-coated Hanoverian regiments which took part in the battle.  (Scotland – The Story of a Nation – Magnus Magnusson 2000)

Culloden Anniversary Ghosts: Ghosts who return on the 16 April to relive the battle and their deaths “make themselves heard by the cries of battle. Some witnesses have heard the clash of steel on steel as if of broadsword and sword fighting. One legend of Culloden Moor is that birds do not sing at the exact site of the battle or at the graves of the slaughtered Jacobites. Other local legends at Culloden Moor is that heather which grows nearby will never grow over the graves of the Jacobites.”

“It was never over” – Haunted Battlefields: The Ghosts of Culloden –

Electricity cannot be destroyed, it can only be transformed; and the events of that day play on and on, like a recording on a loop.

…most of psychics agree that the ghosts aren’t really there. It’s residual energy, replaying events, as a haunting.

So much emotion was felt on the moor that day, and during the endless, horrific night which followed.  These were men who knew that the cost of losing was everything. Not just for themselves, but for their families, their clan, their language, their culture, their history and their land.

There were horrors enough in the heat of battle.  Highlanders bogged down in the mud, the momentum of their charge expended before they even got close.  The English employed a new musket manoeuvre, with all the effect of a modern day machine gun.  The group of clansmen, who fled for shelter in a barn, only for the English to burn it down; and them still trapped inside.

There were rules in battle, which didn’t apply that day.  At the end of the fighting, all should be allowed to tend their sick and wounded in safety.  The surviving Scots could not. The English shot them down.

So men lay throughout the night, knowing the worst, fearing the future, in the most dreadful pain. Then came the dawn and the improbably slow waiting for death to come at the end of a bayonet.

Against all precedent and war etiquette, the English fanned out across the moor and stabbed to death any Highlander still alive.  Any who hadn’t perished in that cold April night.  And those further up could see the English coming. They knew what they were doing and they could not move away.

Too injured to move away.

It’s the high emotion of this, neurons flashing with hopeless adrenaline, trapped forever in that terrible atmosphere, which haunts Drummossie Moor.  Those with the right kind of eyes still see them there, awaiting an English bayonet and the loss of it all.

But there’s absolutely nothing to be done to help them. They are not there. Except maybe at St Mary’s Well.

I stood in the heather, bright sunshine and tourists all about me. It didn’t matter. They couldn’t see what I was seeing. No-one there, or since, saw that. And to this day, I’m not sure who believes that I saw it too. But I did; and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

I fled the battlefield and stood in the gift shop, consoling myself with plastic things to bring me back to my century. The chill remains.

On April 16th 1746, the last pitched battle on British land took place on Drummossie Moor. Up to 2000 Jacobites lay dead, or injured and dying, in the heather. It was never over.

Culloden: 1746 by Stuart Reid
In this concise account Stuart Reid, the leading authority on Culloden, sets out in a graphic and easily understood way the movements and deployments of the opposing armies and describes in detail the close and deadly combat that followed. His account incorporates the results of the latest documentary and archaeological research and he provides a full tour of the battlefield so that visitors can explore for themselves the historic ground on which this momentous event took place. 51qarjsbqfl-_ac_us240_fmwebp_ql65_ via @amazon


Images: Starz


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The Maestro aka Winslow Wixin


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Joe Ide’s debut novel “IQ” – young, orphaned, black, brilliant: Sherlock in the Hood

In his childhood, “my favorite books were the original Sherlock Holmes stories” – Joe Ide

The fantastic debut novel “IQ” could fill the void for fans of “Breaking Bad” — “IQ” has already been optioned for a TV series. Can’t happen too soon for me! I love this novel on so many levels – starting with the introvert who didn’t fit in, but he defeats his enemies with the power of his intelligence. Ide “grew up in South Central L.A., so the inner city was comfortable terrain and Sherlock in the hood was born.” See more here:


“… Like me, (Sherlock) was an introvert who didn’t fit in, but unlike me, he defeated his enemies and controlled his world, and he did it with only the power of his intelligence. I was a small kid in a big neighborhood, and that idea affected me deeply. When contemplating the book, a Sherlockian character was the only thing that occurred to me. I grew up in South Central L.A., so the inner city was comfortable terrain and Sherlock in the hood was born.” — “Sherlock in the Hood: PW Talks with Joe Ide”  By Lenny Picker |Aug 12, 2016

“A resident of one of LA’s toughest neighborhoods uses his blistering intellect to solve the crimes the LAPD”

Pre-Order “IQ” Hardcover  – release date: October 18, 2016

Via NetGalley, I received an ARC in August 2016. Wow! Five stars, without reservation!

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels inspired a whole wave of crime noir detective stories, but this–this! “IQ” is a rare version of the beloved Sherlock Holmes trope. This detective is brilliant and gifted at inductive reasoning (all the Holmes knock-offs are), but he’s also a high school dropout, an orphaned Black kid living in a rough part of Los Angeles. His name is Isaiah Quintabe, but others know him only as IQ.

The language is laced with profanity. The characters are straight from all the stereotypes of rap, pimp culture and drug traffickers, and yet these characters are fully realized, authentic, carefully rendered – not a single cardboard cutout in the entire cast.

The pain and loss Isaiah suffers, first both parents, then his only brother, come across vividly. “He was empty. A birdcage without a bird.” Beautiful! I’m forever shutting the book on amateur authors who write of “memories, overwhelming in their intensity, flowing through” the hero. Joe Ide gives us a teenaged boy hearing his brother sing in the bathroom, until the anguish crackles toward him, burning away his denial:

“Marcus wasn’t coming out of the bathroom and he never would again and Isaiah felt himself turning to ashes and crumbling into nothing.”

The dynamic of how Isaiah relates with other humans if splendidly rendered. The friend or foe theme with Dodson is classic and all too believable. The spiraling consequences of selling drugs or perpetrating robberies “just until” they have enough money to pay the rent reminds me of the best TV show ever written, “Breaking Bad.” The details about pit bulls, dog fights, attack dogs, and how their training has evolved – fascinating, horrifying. The rapper who’s so rich, he can burn a pile of his ridiculous, expensive possessions – I winced and cringed.

Everything in this story sounds so authentic, I was surprised the author is of Asian/American descent, not African American. I’m curious to hear if he got it all right, because I wouldn’t know, having lived all my life in a fairly idyllic part of the Midwest. It wasn’t any fairy tale, though. My sister, at almost 19, was murdered in one of those nice small towns where crime is supposed to be nonexistent. I wish we’d had an Isaiah here in November 1975 to nail the killer, because all these years later, Julie’s is still a Cold Case.Drug trafficking was rampant in this nice little college town (and the nice little private college, too, where a journalism student was raped and murdered months after my sister, and Lisa, too, is still a Cold Case).

Normally I avoid thrillers and whodunnits, in part because it’s frustrating to see others solve crimes when cases so close to home remain frozen. It’s rare that a detective novel interests me, much less that I should find it riveting and even gratifying. Last time this happened, it was also disturbing (“Rape: A Love Story” by Joyce Carol Oates, in which the vigilante justice was a bit much for me).

Line after line from “IQ” is highlighted in my Kindle. E.g.,

Burnout: it’s “an Oprah disease, like mother-in-law phobia,” right?

I’d have to choose from hundreds of passages worth quoting. For now, I can only say this is the rare book I would buy and give away to others–something that has become my new “gold standard” in critiquing a novel. I’d definitely read sequels, especially with that teaser about the car in the junk yard, in the epilogue. This is a novel that belongs in book club discussion groups, where I could spend hours hearing what others think.

I wince and cringe at the gritty details of urban gang life and the bad choices people make, but I laugh at the crisp, darkly humorous dialogue,  and marvel at Isaiah’s intelligence and powers of observation. With that teaser in the end of a certain car in a junkyard, we can be confident that this is only one of many great stories about IQ, the first Sherlock I know of who grew up in the hood.

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Jason Overstreet’s “The Strivers’ Row Spy” -Black FBI agent in 1919 Harlem

Obama is the 1st black President. Who was the 1st black FBI agent and why did J. Edgar Hoover need him?

Being a black FBI agent in 1919 was unheard of…until J. Edgar Hoover had no choice.

During the early days of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover was forced to hire a black agent. Why?


In Jason Overstreet’s debut mystery, The Striver’s Row Spy, the FBI’s first African-American agent has a secret agenda. Sidney Temple’s assignment is to move to Harlem, New York, in order to infiltrate “dangerously radical” Marcus Garvey’s inner circle and report any incriminating activity to FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. But Sidney is secretly working to thwart the FBI’s investigation while aiding black leader W.E.B. Du Bois. As Sidney and his spirited wife, Loretta, rise in Harlem Renaissance society, his mission becomes far more dangerous than he ever imagined. We asked Overstreet a few questions about his new novel. – BookPage interview by Lily McLemore 

* My own book review is posted at NetGalley, goodreads, amazon, and at the end of this blog.

Click here for the Audible  Unabridged version with Avery Glymph (Narrator)


I love Jason Overstreet‘s pithy, provocative one-liners on Twitter– e.g.,

Every man wants his family to live and thrive, but sometimes he must be willing to die to ensure it.

Some things are worth dying for, and in THE STRIVERS’ ROW SPY, that “something” is freedom.

I would further explain why the spy I created felt called to outsmart J. Edgar Hoover.

this story about the 1st African American FBI agent on the Big Screen. So important historically  –


By Carol Kean VINE VOICE on September 3, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition

Middlebury College, 1919. Only two black men have earned diplomas. “Momma had saved up for Lord knows how long” for Sidney Temple’s graduation gift, shiny, black patent leather shoes. For years she’s been “scrubbing other families’ homes, cooking for and raising their children,” but at age 25, with a degree in civil engineering, Sidney resolves, “I would see to it that she wouldn’t have to do that anymore.”

Much sooner than expected, Sidney is buying expensive new suits, driving a car in New York City at a time when hardly anyone could afford to own a car, throwing parties for his beloved wife Loretta and meeting her friends in the art world, and living in a beautiful home with security on Striver’s Row in Harlem.

“Harlem was quickly becoming the epicenter for colored politics–perhaps throughout the world,” Sidney narrates. Strivers’ Row was an aristocratic area in West Harlem, attracting well-paid professionals, aka strivers. “The colored folk who lived there had supposedly ‘made it.’ In fact, most were involved in the fields of law, medicine, the arts, and even architecture. I was likely the only government spy.”

Sidney’s occupation as an FBI agent for a young J. Edgar Hoover puts him in contact with some of the most fascinating people in U.S. history, from Jamaican-born poet Claude McKay to W.E.B. Du Bois and Marcus Garvey, “the fiery little man” who tried to start a Black Star Line to Africa to remove America’s colored people, descendants of slavery, to a new country in Africa where they’d be free of white dominance. That sounds like a plan the Ku Klux Klan would support, and once the FBI set out to take down Garvey, he did indeed stir up even more controversy by meeting with KKK leaders.

Sidney’s job is to take advantage of his skin color and get close to Garvey, offering his civil engineering skills while secretly reporting to Hoover. Little does Hoover know that Sidney is a great admirer of W.E.B. Du Bois, and that whenever Du Bois is targeted, Sidney writes anonymous letters to tip him off.

His secret life comes with dangers, of course, one of them being what his wife might do if she learned the real reason her husband won’t talk about his job or allow a phone inside their home. Other threats, like attempted assaults from armed men, are easier for Sidney to ward off. Sidney’s aversion to murder is one of many good qualities he manifests. He’s the most devoted, supportive and loving husband, but his career may put his wife in jeopardy.

Tension, conflict, and hard choices confront him at every turn. Sidney faces an order to assassinate someone. Does he end up killing anyone, even in self defense? The violence that comes with his line of work is bound to change him. How does an honest man keep up so many pretenses, and what happens if an adversary blows his cover?

The prose is packed full of historical incidents, names, and descriptions. Fans of the thriller genre might feel the pace isn’t fast enough, but fans of historical fiction could hardly ask for more. The climax is as tense and brutal as any thriller reader could wish.

The ending is a lovely but bittersweet surprise. The future Sidney envisioned for himself and his family in America is ripped away from him, but for the rest of America, things are looking up. No more talk of shipping all the Blacks back to Africa, united as one nation under Marcus “the Emperor” Garvey. The NAACP under Du Bois is making strides, no thanks to the FBI, but thanks to people like Sidney, who would sacrifice so much for the good of all his people.

I learned so much from this novel that none of my history teachers ever mentioned. We’ve all heard of W.E.B. Du Bois but how many of know about Marcus Garvey? Overstreet’s novel inspired me to spend hours online, learning more. I’ve added several nonfiction titles to my Kindle. One author says if Garvey had accomplished his dream of getting the African diaspora to leave the United States and Europe, uniting them in their own nation in Liberia, Garvey would have been as despotic as Idi Amin. I still haven’t read enough to find out how crazy or dangerous Garvey was, but his grandson recently asked President Obama to grant a posthumous pardon to clear Garvey’s name of mail-fraud. Was Garvey framed and unjustly imprisoned? His red-green-black flag has been brought back. Watch for it in news photos of Black Lives Matter events.

How many Americans know the fascinating history of a little nation called Liberia? I can only hope Jason Overstreet will make it the focus of a future novel. If he doesn’t, I might have to drag memories out of my son-in-law, who fled Monrovia during the Charles Taylor takeover, spent three years in a refugee camp in Ghana, found his way to America, and now has a degree in engineering, a good job, a home, and a family–in America–not Liberia. Why was there no exodus from the United States to young nation in Africa that promised economic opportunities, abundant natural resources, and freedom from white majority rule? History teachers, start with a novel like “The Strivers Row,” and set your students on fire with the desire to learn more.

This review doesn’t even begin to cover the political climate, race relations, segregation, and the sheer excitement of 1920s Harlem. I absolutely love all the references to jazz (my son Miles is a jazz bassist in Chicago), the Cotton Club, and the aspiring musician Peavine, a minor character who plays a major role in one of Sidney’s most daring and dangerous plots.

My Kindle is packed with lines I highlighted, but for a book review, there’s room only to say, “Trust me. You will love this.”

Note: Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC of this novel.

P.S. Jason Overstreet’s debut novel “The Strivers’ Row Spy” has inspired me to do a lot more research on real-life characters who come to life in historical fiction. Rare is the book that opens so many doors and makes me so eager to learn more about a time and place, the movers and shakers and people who defined an era.
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“A Killing Snow” by Dave Hoing and Roger Hileman

Penmore Press is looking at a Black Friday release date (the day after Thanksgiving) for “A Killing Snow” by Dave Hoing and Roger Hileman.

“A Killing Snow” is inspired by the tragic blizzard of 1888, “a nice dramatic backdrop for a novel,” this writing duo thought. So did the unpublished memoirs Roger had in his possession from his great-great-uncle Michael Hileman Jr., who lived from 1820 to 1915. Hilman and Hoing had always wanted to find a venue to incorporate Michael’s story, and when they noticed in his memoirs that he had experienced the blizzard firsthand, they found it.

14051653_894617880684819_7440170215033292843_n  Lottie Pirnie and her father, Michael Hileman, Jr., at age  93. Michael was Roger’s great-great uncle. His memoirs give a rich, detailed account of life on the prairie during the Dakota homesteading years. He inspired the character of old Mike, who survived Andersonville during the Civil War, in “A Killing Snow.” Lottie also appears in the story, but her image here served as the visual template upon which the heroine Mariel was created.

Hileman’s ancestors also inspired the duo’s previous historical novel, Hammon Falls51mrvl1w43l “a journey through multiple settings, points of view, and time periods, with every scene, every emotion, and every action described in beautiful prose that sparkles but is never overwrought. Hoing and Hileman are musicians as well as authors… In addition to their skill with lyricism, Hoing and Hileman are also masters of clear, direct prose…” – Melissa Studdard, Amazon Reviewer

Dave and Roger have been collaborating since high school on projects ranging from stage plays and musicals to novels. Living 90 miles apart, they do all their writing via email, passing chapters back and forth. Roger is more structured and methodical while Dave prefers to a more ad-lib approach … at least at first. But because he also loves to revise, he eventually rounds up the words and makes them do his bidding. The Facebook page Hoing and Hileman “Where Fiction and Music Meet” is a treasure trove of photos and anecdotes that inspired this treasure of a novel. 13062276_831417700338171_7436338392685626734_n  Click on the link, visit the page, and view images (nope, not gonna put them all here for your convenience) with captions like these: One of the earliest known photos of a tornado, taken, conveniently enough, in Dakota Territory in 1884. Our novel doesn’t actually depict a tornado as it’s happening, but it does mention a cute little fellow affectionately dubbed “Randy’s Whirlwind” that occurs while our heroine is out of town.

Back to “A Killing Snow” – here is the publisher’s synopsis:

In 1886, when school teacher Mariel Erickson leaves the civilized comforts of Chicago for Goss Valley, a small town on the Dakota prairie, she isn’t prepared for the hardships she and her husband encounter. As if hostile homesteaders, harsh weather, impoverished Indians, and shady frontier politics aren’t bad enough, she soon finds herself embroiled in Goss Valley’s first murder case. In full view of five witnesses, wagon driver Clyde Hartwig beats an Irish immigrant to death with a base-ball bat.

By all appearances, the victim was a decent and hardworking family man. Or was he? Rumors have surfaced of his involvement with homemade bombs and Fenian terrorism. Could that have been Hartwig’s motive for the killing? On assignment for the town’s fledgling newspaper, Mariel must get to the bottom of the incident by interviewing him before he is silenced by the hangman’s rope.

His January trial promises to be the biggest event to ever happen in the short history of Goss Valley, and the residents eagerly anticipate a fine spectacle.

Little does anyone know that a much larger force is about to visit the town, one which will reveal how capricious life on the prairie can be.

My own commentary (with excerpts from the lyrical prose) will be coming soon. These things take time…


Meanwhile, here are more captions, from the authors, which you’ll find with photos at the Facebook page:

A hay burning stove. Loose hay produced too much smoke and required constant monitoring, so it was twisted into twig-like bundles called “cats.” These were much more compact, produced less smoke, and didn’t need to be watched all the time.

This is the Buffalo County courthouse in Gann Valley, South Dakota, circa 1914. “A Killing Snow” is set almost 30 years earlier in a similar, although fictional, town called Goss Valley, before the Dakotas were states yet. The courthouse is the venue for the big trial near the end of the book.

Laudanam: Used as a pain reliever and cough suppressant for centuries, it was about 10% opium by weight and could be bought without a prescription at any drug store well into the 20th century. Although it’s still around, laudanum reached its height in the late 19th century, when a powder known as salicytic acid started to overtake it in popularity. Salycitic acid was then further refined, and in 1899 it was widely manufactured and marketed as a pill known as aspirin.

A Scholes & Glidden typewriter, 1876. Our fictional newspaper editor Herb Goss has one (okay, this one, I can’t resist sharing): 800px-s26g1


A sewing machine, circa 1880. Our ladies of the Fragment Society use them. (Carol has one too!)

A mid-1880s cash register from the National Cash Register Company. Our general store owner is very proud of his.

This is an anemometer, a device used to measure wind speed. Before there was a National Weather Service, the Army Signal Corps used to take weather readings and issue “indications” (forecasts). These Signal Corps readings play a big role in the novel.

A macabre practice of the 19th century: photographing dead family members as if they were alive. Our upcoming novel “A Killing Snow” touches on this curious fad.

The tombstone of Herst Gann, the founder of Gann Valley, South Dakota, upon whom our fictional character Herb Goss is loosely based.

This is odd-looking contraption is a Beardslee portable telegraph machine. The things only had a range of ten miles or so, and didn’t work worth a damn. :) 


What’s up next for this writing duo? Scroll to the end of this post. Meanwhile, the bio:

Dave Hoing is a library associate in the Special Collections and Archives unit of the University of Northern Iowa Library. He lives in Waterloo, Iowa, with his wife, Joni, a dog named Doodle, and a cat named Itzy. Dave is a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America who no longer writes science fiction or fantasy. 81lonvesml-_ux250_ He dabbles in composing, drawing, painting, and sculpting. Music is his first love, but he concedes that he’s better at stringing words together than notes, so there are times when he must tear himself away from one kind of keyboard to work at another. He also enjoys traveling—42 states and 27 countries to date—and collecting antiquarian books printed before 1800.

Roger Hileman writes nonfiction for a testing company by day and fiction by night. Naturally, the biggest challenge for Roger is keeping them straight. He and writing partner Dave Hoing collaborated for many years by mailing reams of paper back and forth through the US mail. Then one day someone invented this thing called the Internet. There was much rejoicing.

 31gcmzxs6yl-_ux250_  Through the years, Roger has been involved with numerous musical theater productions on stage, in technical roles, and as orchestra director. He gigs around Iowa with groups such as the New Venue Big Band and CR Jazz. He began his writing career as a playwright, but Dave eventually turned him to the dark side of prose. Roger loves history, especially the family kind, so his ancestors frequently become fodder for his fiction.

In his nonfictional world, Roger and his wife, Lu, live in Iowa City. No pets, but he plays a bass trombone he named Eddie.

Up next, “In the Blood,” a title with a double meaning. Dave posted on Facebook:

Our buddy Midori at Penmore Press has pointed out that my posts about the new book are mostly word counts, with virtually no information describing what the book’s about. She’s right, of course. When we first started this project, I mentioned the premise, but that was a while ago, so it wouldn’t hurt to do it again. Here’s the deal:

It’s 1948 in a racially divided town very much like Waterloo, Iowa. An exceptionally gifted musician has a dream of playing alto sax for a jazz band. The problem is, the musician is a 19-year-old white woman named Kasey Brown, and the jazz band is made up of middle-aged black men. This was at a time when black musicians could occasionally cross over to play with otherwise all-white bands, but it was never the other way around. In addition, while some women sang in jazz bands, it was exceedingly rare for them to be instrumentalists, especially alto sax.

The story is told from two separate points of view, one the 19-year-old Kasey, and the other a 50-year-old black trombone player named Freddie Ross.

The novel not only explores race relations and the economic caste system separating white from black, but also looks at the (platonic!) friendship that develops between Kasey and Freddie, and the interactions of whites with other whites and blacks with other blacks (the term African American didn’t exist then). If that isn’t enough, Freddie has a troubled past and an even more troubled relationship with his wife, and Kasey’s not having much luck getting along with anybody, including her fiance Jack and either of their families.

And of course you can’t have a post-war novel without talking some about the effect the war had on the characters. Kasey lost her beloved brother in North Africa in 1943, while one of the black characters discusses some of his experiences as a sailor in Hawaii.

BTW, for those of you who have read our first novel “Hammon Falls,” “In the Blood” is set in the same quasi-fictional town of Waterton, Iowa. Freddie Ross is the son of Lewis, a secondary character in “Hammon Falls,” and one of that book’s main characters, Will Hammon, even makes an appearance.

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