“A Traveler from an Antique Land” by Harvey Click – SciFi from a horror master!

Harvey Click antique land@KeithDrawsCoverArt

A Traveler from an Antique Land by Harvey Click

“After years of writing nothing but horror, I’ve written a science-fiction/fantasy adventure novel.” – Harvey Click

I’m thrilled to hear it!

Horror is my least favorite genre, with guts and gore, demons and severed heads sailing, maggots, and –well, in spite of all that, one author managed to reel me in every time when other authors left me shutting the book.

Harvey, you devil, you!

Harvey Click is a college lit professor

who earned an M.A. in English from Ohio State University, using his first novel as a master’s thesis. He has written five novels, four of them in the horror genre, and numerous short stories. He has taught both English and creative writing for Ohio University, Ohio State University, the James Thurber House, and OSU’s Creative Arts Program.

Here is the publisher’s blurb:

… a potent cocktail of epic battles, thrilling adventures, non-stop action, and astonishing marvels!

When a young woman is whisked away to a planet populated by kidnapped humans and strange extraterrestrials, she faces perilous swordfights, flying battleships, mind-controlling alien lifeforms, crocodiles with wings, snakes that devour horses, an extinct race that communicates through its singing sculptures, an “uncertainty sink” that warps time, an interplanetary translocator guided by disembodied human brains, a gloomy castle seething with secrets, and labyrinthine catacombs filled with deadly assassins.

Here’s a bit of my Amazon and Goodreads review:

Horror-Meister Harvey Click takes a stab at Science Fiction, and wow, oh wow, does he spin a great tale!

There’s a secondary character I fell in love with from his first appearance, but–dang! Spoilers! Always, I’m accused of spoilers. I don’t know how to write about this fantastic story, other than to say those we expect the least of can surprise us the most.

Try a sample chapter and see! Better yet,

Invest 99 cents in this book – it’ll be the best dollar you spend this month!

The cover artwork alone is worth a buck!

Harvey Click is a college professor, a writing teacher. His prose is flawless, his stories spellbinding.

The heroine’s mother is a piece of work. But then, a lot of mothers are awful, right? (Except me!)

The opening pages are riveting as a young college co-ed is swept from Earth to a new planet, called Notearth. Her abductors become her escorts, allies, and even buddies, even though they don’t seem at all trustworthy.

There’s an interesting contrast between those in power who have power (as in electrical power, not just political), while those who have been vanquished must live without electricity or machinery.

There are surprises. After all the carnage, GOOD THINGS HAPPEN, and the ending is very satisfying.

How often do I approve an ending? Hardly ever. This one rocks!


I grew up immersed in science fiction, fantasy, and horror. At the age of eleven, I started subscribing to pulp magazines that published this fare, and I joined a science fiction book club that sent me two new novels each month. Some of my grade-school teachers took my books and pulp magazines away from me, thinking I was too young to read about Cthulhian monstrosities, but the air of taboo only increased my fascination.

#Pulp-Rev fans will appreciate this:

During my college years I decided my fiction should be, ahem, more “literary,” but after penning a great many precious little tales in which next to nothing happened, I turned back to my childhood roots and wrote a string of horror novels and stories.

The story poured out of me like silvery light from a full moon.

I’m hoping readers will find themselves immersed in the same spell that captivated me, the silvery enchantment of clashing swords, epic battles, thrilling adventures, non-stop action, and astonishing marvels in a strange world called Notearth.

He captivated me!

Held me hostage with great prose, he did. Look at my reviews of his previous books.

***** Harvey Click’s “carnography” (lurid, explicit, bloody, violent, brilliant) got me again
By Carol Kean VINE VOICE December 2, 2014
The Bad Box

(Go ahead, click on that link, and read my praises of this brilliant writer, and if you “Find this review helpful,” please click the yes button.)

And check out Harvey’s Amazon Author Page for more books, and more great cover art by Keith Draws, e.g.,


I hope everyone will read Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ozymandias” – source of the title:

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

I’m not doing justice to this novel,

but I hope you’ll click on those links,

invest 99 cents,

and see for yourself!


And that’s all I dare to say about that.





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Stoics are misunderstood, and why I don’t want to read your book

Stoics are misunderstood,

especially in today’s world of the “precious snowflake” and a call to wear our hearts on our sleeves. Don’t bottle your emotions. Don’t hide your pain.

Hiding your pain

does have its drawbacks. European white men would torture Native Americans, who had conditioned themselves from infancy to endure pain in silence.

“Oh, look, they can’t feel pain!” white men said. “Triple the torture!”

photo-1023416_960_720[1] They couldn’t comprehend the self-control these Natives had, enduring exquisite pain without a whimper, without wincing or flinching. I’d cites some historical examples but it’s just too brutal, lurid, horrific, and inhumane.

If you read my 28-February-2018 Steemit post,

Ten “Unbelievable Unsolved Murders”: My sister made the list,

you already know how my sister’s cold case has left me agitated and irritable in various ways, especially when asked to read, critique, or review thrillers, police procedurals, whodunnits, and horror stories involving violence and senseless killing.

Authors and Writer Friends,

I don’t want you to be afraid to show me your work. Let me look. Just, if I don’t love it, or finish reading it, please remember: I really don’t enjoy reading about slit throats, disemboweled aliens, guns, swords, lasers, and mass murder. Oh, I won’t miss out on a great story with epic characters due to my distaste for blood, guts, and horror, but so many books in recent years have been sordid and lurid, I’m just burnt out on this stuff. My sister was strangled, her body stuffed naked into a culvert under a gravel road, where an animal feasted on one side of her face and neck, and her killer(s) were never apprehended. They walked the streets, free and unpunished, living long enough to become grandparents, while Julie at almost 19 still hadn’t had a boyfriend. I’ve been ranting about this online for some time now, and I recently decided it was

Time to Move On

But the phone rang a few days ago (on our 30th Wedding Anniversary, when I was focusing on happy things). Another small-town newspaper reporter. Planning a big

Memorial Day story

on my sister’s cold case. Would I consent to an interview, being recorded, i.e. my face and voice on the internet or TV channel for all the world to see? No. Would I bring photos and mementos, talk about the person my sister was, “bring her to life” in story, in hopes someone out there would be inspired to come forward with some detail that hadn’t led to the solution in a 42-year-old Iowa Cold Case? No. I understand that Cold Case statistics are one thing:

Julia “Julie” Ann Benning

Bring her to life,

in story, for all the world to see, the reporter urged me; tell us what she was like, what she wanted to do with her life.

No, no, not gonna go there,

Been there, done that, blogged about it, for years; I’ve been telling the world about Julie.

Tell us her story!

Memorialize Julie!

But, but, but, killers don’t care who you are or what your story is.
People who cover up for killers don’t care, either.
Witnesses, those who “know” something but don’t dare tell, are either scared, or they just don’t care.


“She was so beautiful”

I’m tired of hearing about how young, bright, and beautiful so many murder victims were. What if they were Plain Janes (that was me), or fat, or dull, with no musical or artistic talent? Maybe it’s survivor’s guilt: of the five sisters, I was the one who should have died young, me, the klutz, the ugly duckling in the corner reading books. Years would pass before I ditched the awful glasses, got my teeth straightened, and blossomed from wallflower to social butterfly. But I still wince whenever reporters dwell on how BEAUTIFUL and viviacious and LOVED some victim was.

More here: Iowa Cold Cases by Jody Ewing

I’m not whining

about my own loss. People die of cancer, car wrecks, wars, all manner of things, every day. Everyone knows someone who’s suffered a tragic loss. The difference here is that a life was stolen and the thief is still out there walking free.

Consider the Peak family, less than a year after my own sister was raped, strangled, stripped, and tossed like roadside trash:

Lisa was survived by four siblings: Peter (14), Carmen (12), Martin (10), and Meredith (7).
Just two months after Lisa’s death, Carmen, a seventh grade student, died of head injuries after one of her riding horses fell on her.
In the years that followed, both of Lisa’s parents died without ever knowing who killed their daughter or seeing justice served in her death. Dr. Frank “Doc” Peak passed away Friday, Nov. 8, 2013… Lisa’s mother, Mary Peak, died Dec. 8, 2014, at age 85.

Who the victim was,

how valued and wonderful, is not as important for the public to know as the murderers among you.

So, I have a counter-proposal.

You tell us a story about the killers.

The local police as perps are a cliche in Hollywood and TV shows. But ya know what? There’s a reason for that. Drug dealers buy them off all the time. How often does a local minister or a do-gooder like John Gacey turn out to have bodies buried out back?

Investigative reporters end up dead

in all the TV shows and movies. Those who ask questions are silenced.



So, no, I don’t really expect journalists to do the work of private eyes, detectives, the FBI and BCI. But I would like to tell the news outlets:

Rather than focus on the victims

and remind us of their humanity, let’s spotlight the inhumanity of the perps. They feel no remorse. They are the ultimate narcissists. They often hide their black hearts behind a facade of charm and leadership. Ironically, the most heartless killers are not just in the mafia; they include your local minister, your local police officers, your civic volunteers (think John Wayne Gacey), the good ol’ boys, getting pats on the back and kudos for all their good deeds. Don’t even get me started on witch-burnings by good Christians, or lynchings, or–

–But wait. Am I doing my sister a disservice by refusing to talk about the person she was? Should I help a newspaper reporter show the world what a wonderful and beloved and treasured person she was?

Dad might say his pain is not for public consumption

if he spoke of it at all.
I know what he means.
While Julie was missing, rumors went around that our family was cold and hard-hearted and didn’t really care.
See above (Native Americans. Stoics.)

Two years ago,

after a grueling day with newspaper reporters writing about Iowa Cold Cases, my mom said it took her FOUR days to recover. “It was as fresh as if it had just happened,” not 40 years ago, but as if it were only yesterday. She relived the anguish all over again. Mom was able to talk all day about Julie’s sordid, heartbreaking case to those reporters, but after they left, she came unglued. And she didn’t even let ME, her daughter, see. It was after I’d left that the dam burst. It was two more years before she told me that.

I’m not saying this is how everyone should be – just, this is our way. You might argue it’s unhealthy; it’s better to express pain, anguish, rage; bottling it is bad.

It is what it is. The older I get, the more like my parents I get.

And those who see it as “cold, uncaring” have no clue what’s under the layers and walls.
14955970_10211213833251568_6709528471570821599_n Books Julie read in her teen years – eerily prophetic? Or was everyone reading books like these?

October 1975 Diary entry:

“Lately I’ve been getting into things I’m interested in, especially Indians. I hope they have a great uprising and get liberated like the Blacks did. Every time they bomb a building I say ‘right on!’

I bought three really good books: Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Geronimo, and Custer Died For Your Sins.”

Julie tried making pottery,

designing her own unique clothes and jewelry, and sewing the dress she wore her last day on earth.

She wrote her penpal, “I’m making a choker out of polar bear claws ($16 a pair!), bones, squirrel tails, beads, feather and leather. I’m going to do a chamois cloth and feathers like Cher and Tina Turner had on last Sunday. I’m going on the warpath!”

“I’m reading Journeys Out of the Body, Charles Manson The Family, The Book of the Hopi, The Bermuda Triangle, etc. I look up my weird interests in The Whole Earth Catalogue and then find the books. Small wonder people think I’m bizarre.”

“Last night I went to Deb’s. She’s as depressed as me, worse, she even thought of suicide.”

“I saw ‘Winterhawk’–it was a great movie.

Today I’m feeling somewhat happier. In February I may be moving to Independence. They (Don Verrips and his father) may manage a bar there that has rock bands and I will be going along if they do to be a barmaid or bartender.”

“And maybe, by next fall, I’ll have enough money saved to go to college.”

The last page

of the letter, the last words we know of that she ever wrote, shows her optimism and usual zany cheerfulness waning:

“One person too many called me weird, strange, bizarre, etc

last weekend, so I’ve been a changed woman all week. I’ve not talked unless spoken to and then not much. I haven’t wiggled or danced around my tables when ‘Get Down Tonight’ is on, even though my body is crying out ‘let’s dance, child!’”

Everyone says ‘are you mad Julie? Are you sick? Are you depressed? What’s wrong?’

I simply say ‘Nothing, I’m just being normal like everyone else. Isn’t that what you wanted?’ My boss gave me the night off. I think she thinks I must be overworked or seomthing. I’m going to keep it up too, until people realize they have to accept me the way I really am. Only maybe this is the real me. Before, if I got depressed, I laughed it off, but now, when I’m going along with my plot, I can go ahead and be depressed and sad, that’s how I really feel, so that’s how I’ll act. I may really learn something from this. Next letter, I hope I’m not such a depressive person. I really thank you for enduring it. So, go ahead and pour your problems out on me next. Keep on smilin’  Happy Halloween!” Julie


O Julie!

No comment from me on how sad this is. Her words speak for themselves.


Our beloved grandpa died

in February 1975, less than a year before Julie would end up dead herself. She wrote in her diary:

I don’t care what anybody says. Death is not a natural part of life. What’s natural about seeing someone you love sick and miserable, and then seeing them dead? Nothing! It’s not a natural life process. It’s cold, it’s cruel, it’s so final, and it’s not fair. … Funerals are awful. They’re no consolation. They only make you cry. (17-Feb-1975)

“Murder is a horrible crime to commit and, of course the offender must be punished, but does that mean he should rot in prison until he dies? I don’t think so . . . nor do I think any person has the right to say someone should never be let out of prison, or give them the death penalty.” Julie urged her readers to “Put yourself in their shoes — the convicts are still humans, too. I hope people will be willing to help them and lend support in convicts’ efforts to rehabilitate themselves.” (Julie’s words from a May 1975 high school newspaper editorial)

Life goes on

and the dinner table is so full of new family members, we hardly ever notice the missing seventh plate. Weddings and babies came and went for us, but not for Julie, frozen in time at almost 19.

and the dinner table is so full of new family members, we hardly ever notice the missing seventh plate.
Weddings and babies came and went for us, but not for Julie, frozen in time at almost 19.

Julie, you’re a great-aunt!

Seven nieces and one nephew never got to meet their Aunt Julie, but our niece named her baby Julia. Little Julia is the fourth generation to be baptized at the old country church with the white steeple where Julie was baptized, confirmed, and buried.

And no, sorry, unless you’re a really good writer with a compelling voice, I don’t feel like reading another police procedural or whodunnit. John L. Monk’s “Kick” might sound like the kind of sad, violent stuff I’d rather avoid, but it is one of my favorite stories of all time.

Until next time,


because Kean sounds like Kane (not keen, hint, hint)

Find me at Twitter:
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Perihelion Science Fiction
Let’s Fry Chicken Little nominated for 2015 Pushcart Award

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“A Betrayal and Other Stories” by Brian Biswas

Fans of Night Gallery, The Twilight Zone, vintage science fiction, magic realism, irrealism, and–well, fans of good stories and good literature–you need to get your hands on this beautiful volume:  A Betrayal and Other Stories by Brian Biswas

51qfMimtj-L[1]  “The world is wonderful and full of magic. He who does not believe it so is dead.” –the narrator of “In the Garden”

Brian Biswas has published his fiction in professional magazines

for more than four decades. How would you ever find them all online now, or in bookstores?

Well, you wouldn’t.

The beauty of ebooks and anthologies is finding a collection of stories all in one handy place.

I read Brian Biswas for the first time via Perihelion Science Fiction ezine, and as always, the editorial judgment of Sam Bellotto Jr was vindicated. Sam has an eye for intelligent writing, fresh prose, and something beyond the usual offerings of science fiction short stories. Do not be deceived by the sweet, nostalgic vibe to these stories. Dark undercurrents can swiftly turn the fantastic into a cautionary tale or a reminder that even the best of us can throw away our values and betray our humanity when faced with unexpected temptations. The challenge is to talk about these things in a book review without spoiler after spoiler! For now, let me say a lonely light housekeeper welcoming a stranger in the night, and a scholar who is followed around by a strange bird, left me screaming why, why, why did you go over the edge and… do that.  And that’s the beauty of fiction right there, exploring the darkest recesses of the human soul, the complex motivations, the questions nobody can answer.

The strange, vivid imagery of dreams

is a hallmark of all Brian’s fiction. I love his attention to visuals. A blue parrot is more than just a bird in the backstory in “A Journey through the Wormhole.” And the scientist, who appears to be overly trusting and optimistic, pulls a surprise twist on the reporter looking for a scoop. Throughout the story, a sense of irrealism is underscored in the way these men are not named–they remain the scientist and the reporter throughout.
Truly, “A Journey through the Wormhole” is one of the best stories ever published in Perihelion Science Fiction, and if forced to choose one favorite in an anthology full of great stories, this one has to be it.
I will not talk about “The Lake of Flies,” except to say one of the visuals is so vivid and memorable, I have yet to un-see it.

Pulling out the binoculars, Max saw that the surface of the lake was covered by a thick layer of flies. There must have been hundreds of thousands, feeding on the kettle’s algae. The sun reflecting off the flies’ wings made the surface resemble a gigantic compound eye. A glistening ommatidium. Max gazed upon it, mesmerized. He felt as if he was peering into the mind of an intelligence that had taken over the lake and was lying in wait. He did not know for what. But it seemed to be drawing him in.

Fly Eye (This doesn’t even come close! Multiply exponentially…)  Pixabay photo by ekamelev 

In “This Old Man,”

several types of images recur, from rainbows formed by the Fountain of Saint Gabriel to iridescent wings and birdsong, and most vividly, a lizard who makes three appearances, always right before (spoiler deleted).
“A lizard is a symbol of transformation (among other things),” Brian messaged me after I mentioned my fascination with the lizard. “If a lizard’s tail is cut off—” (more spoilers deleted). “Now I don’t expect readers to ‘get that’ but I enjoy putting clues into stories!”
That, he does, and that’s the secret to keeping cerebral fiction fun, fun, fun. Sam Bellotto Jr loves finding humor in science fiction, and Brian Biswas is a reliable source.


reading this, take note. Brian emailed me:

“I’ve been getting rejections for 40 yearsI’m used to them. They come with the territory!
My first was from The Paris Review—when I was 20 … it was for The Bridge, which George Plimpton called Hawthornesque, but not long enough for them to print. I see it as an introduction to the magical realism stories that follow in the book!

Don’t you love hearing from authors firsthand? I do!
And don’t you hate knowing you haven’t figured out what really happened, so you need the author to explain? (No? Well, lucky you! You’re sharper than I am.)
This is not a spoiler, I swear. And I needed to know this:

Oh–and rest assured!–the narrator of the Bridge doesn’t drown (the story is told in the first person, so he must survive to tell the tale).

If someone appears to be dead, even beyond all doubt, I’m the one who keeps hoping the character will appear in a future chapter with an explanation of what really happened. (Novelist Rick Bylina probably winces and cringes every time he hears the name Phil, thanks to me and my insistence that not all is as it appears to be.)
By the way, Mr. Biswas, first-person narration is no guarantee that our protagonist will survive to the end of the story. Darn those sneaky authors, these days!

Brian is sneaky, but in a good way. E.g.,

In fact, if you read closely, you’ll see that the narrator is the same as the narrator of the next story–A Betrayal. The second story could almost be seen as a continuation of the first. Our narrator is on a journey in both, but in A Betrayal he has entered “some other province, some other land …”


Reading “Betrayal” made me look up irrealism – The belief that phenomenalism and physicalism are alternative “world-versions,” both useful in some circumstances, but neither capable of fully capturing the other.
Also, an estrangement from our generally accepted sense of reality.
Well, that makes it all the more challenging for the reader–and fun!–especially for readers who love puzzles.
And what else is fun? Following an author on Twitter!


“Irreal fiction challenges readers by representing the world, not in terms of an exact mimetic representation of what we see every day but in a way that undermines our very sense of what is real.”  

 Magic Realism

“The first half of my anthology is magical realism (this would be the ‘hard to ponder’ stories),” Brian emailed me. “These are Stories I would summarize as ‘many pointers to an unknown meaning.’ Unlike a dream, in which events can be pretty random, a magical realism story is basically realistic—with one or two magical elements. The reader has to determine the story’s meaning. E.g. the doctor’s patient with the unusual illness (or not?) or is it the doctor with the ailment? The narrator of ‘The Bridge’ who sinks slowly into the water’s depths after his failed rescue … And don’t get me started on ‘This Old Man’! The second half of the book is straightforward science fiction, and many of those stories were published in Perihelion. Though even there I try to toss in a magical detail at some point!”

The science in this fiction is accurate,

plausible, and often mind-blowing. I especially love the details in “The Worms of Titan”:

Titan is a dark place,

its surface one-tenth as bright as Earth. The daytime temperature is about ninety-eight kelvins. Titan’s atmosphere is composed primarily of nitrogen (ninety-seven percent) and methane (two percent), with the remainder consisting of trace amounts of noxious elements such as hydrogen cyanide. A forbidding world, certainly, but one teeming with organic compounds, many deep within lakes that cover much of the surface, and which make human exploration difficult. It was a welcome surprise, then, when in the spring of 2186 the first rovers discovered those same compounds near the superstratum of Titan’s rocky regions.

The Titan Life Project,

as it was known on Earth, was the brainchild of Dr. Raul Ravencroft. Raul was….


#gottaloveBrianBiswas!    Find him on Twitter: @BrianBiswas

All nineteen stories are startling, thought-provoking, fun to ponder

and filled with mystery (yes, even “The Lake of Flies”). Human nature never fails to surprise, startle, or shock us, even though we already know we are capable of the diabolical wickedness and angelic altruism.

Not a single lemon in the bunch! Buy with confidence.

A Betrayal and Other Stories is available now, paperback and ebook, from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and–soon–from bookstores everywhere. See Brian’s website for more information (www.brianbiswas.com).
The cover by Australian artist Kim Dingwall is an image from the title story.


I. The Bridge      

II. A Betrayal

III. The Crystal

IV. Tramp

V. In the Garden

VI. The Museum of North African Treasures

VII. This Old Man

VIII. Sedgefield’s Diary

IX. The Strange Story of Saxon’s Hill

X. The Lake of Flies

XI. Solitary Confinement

XII. Love in a High-Tech Age

XIII. The Roses of Charon

XIV. A Journey Through the Wormhole

XV. 2038: A Mars Odyssey

XVI. The Miners of Erin

XVII. Barnegat Inn

XVIII. The Worms of Titan

XIX. Puff

“The Bridge” published in Penny Dreadful (December 1991),” reprinted in Cafe Irreal (May 2006) and Tien Ve (June 2013);

“A Betrayal” published in Penny Dreadful (September 1999), reprinted in Cafe Irreal (February 2000) and the Irreal Anthology (November 2013);

“The Crystal” published in Penny Dreadful (July 2000); “In the Garden” published in Cafe Irreal (February 2010);
“The Museum of North African Treasures” published in Lost Worlds (April 1993);
“This Old Man” published in Skive (June 2011);
“Solitary Confinement” published in Midnight Zoo (January 1992);
“Love in a High-Tech Age” published in Aoife’s Kiss (June 2012);
“A Journey Through the Wormhole” published in Perihelion Science Fiction (June 2013);
“2038: A Mars Odyssey” published in Perihelion Science Fiction (September 2014);
“Barnegat Inn” published in Perihelion Science Fiction (January 2015);
“The Worms of Titan” published in Perihelion Science Fiction (June 2016);
“Puff ” published in Perihelion Science Fiction (February 2017).

Pen-and-ink illustrations complement each of these nineteen stories spanning the literary genres of magical realism, horror, and science fiction.

In the title story, “A Betrayal,” a doctor travels into the countryside to help a young patient, only to deliver a diagnosis with which the girl’s family vehemently disagrees. The peculiar narrator of “Sedgefield’s Diary” recoils in horror when he discovers that the hourly diary he keeps has taken on a life of its own and now threatens his very existence. The bereaved wife in “The Lake of Flies” takes matters into her own hands when she learns the truth surrounding her husband’s death. In “Barnegat Inn,” a strange visitation becomes the background for a poignant recitation on the nature of time. The themes of loss and betrayal between rival siblings are explored in “The Crystal,” a story pulsating with an ethereal, otherworldly quality. And in “A Journey Through the Wormhole,” a decades-old feud between rival scientists threatens to upend a scientific revolution.   Publisher: Rogue Star Press (May 20, 2018)

My 5-star Amazon and Goodreads review is short and terse, in part because I’m awaiting the next issue of Perihelion to go live (September 2018), but you can find the short version here:

 Brian Biswas has published over sixty short stories in the United States as well as internationally.

A11U9raJD0L._UX250_[1].jpg He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He is listed in the International Writers and Authors Who’s Who, Marquis Who’s Who, and the Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Brian writes in a literary style reminiscent of magical realism, irrealism, or fabulism, which attempts to convey a slightly exaggerated but internally consistent sense of reality. He also writes straightforward science fiction, fantasy, and horror (often tinged with fantastic elements).

He was born in Columbus, Ohio, received a B.A. in Philosophy from Antioch College in 
Yellow Springs, Ohio and an M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with his wife, Elizabeth, and an ever changing assortment of animals.

And he works full-time for a company that just featured him in their newsletter:


From: “Information Technology Services” <info@…..>
Subject: Monday Morning News June 11, 2018

In May, Brian’s “A Betrayal and Other Stories,” an anthology, was published by Rogue Star Press. It’s available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and bookstores worldwide.

Alice Whittenburg, coeditor of Cafe Irreal, a journal that comes out of Europe, published an in-depth, glowing review June 18, Reading at the Irreal Cafe: A Betrayal and Other Stories by Brian Biswas.

Perihelion Science Fiction book critic Carol Kean also posted raves like the one you are reading right here and now. 🙂

Back to the company newsletter–

Brian tells us more, below:

Is this positive review a big break for you?

Good reviews are so important for selling a book. But short story collections are notoriously poor sellers.

What do you enjoy about writing?

The satisfaction of getting a story out of my head and onto paper.

Describe your writing habits.

I write or edit just about every day. You have to do that. Otherwise, you lose momentum and it can be hard to pick things back up. Ideas flow easier when you work at it every day.

What keeps you motivated?

I can’t not write. Stories just bubble out.

Bubble Ladysource

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The Prince Games by Joshua Rouse  

“You have a good heart, Ronan.” …And it belongs to you Ronan answered in his mind.  —   The Prince Games by Joshua Rouse   1st Edition edition (September 16, 2016)

The Prince Games by [Rouse, Joshua]  One princess from the wealthiest kingdom in the land is locked away in a tower in the midst of a monster-infested, trap-laden island. Prince Ronan must brave the dangers, battle against competing princes, and be the first to rescue the princess, winning her hand in marriage and claiming honor and glory as victor of the perilous Prince Games…or die trying.

The author of this debut novel is young enough to be my son. In fact, he was a classmate of my own offspring, and I’ve seen him as a middle schooler in jazz combo, as a high schooler, as a college student, and now a college grad with a degree in English teaching, from the same college I attended last-century for the same degree. Only one of this young man’s professors was someone I too had studied under. Most of my teachers are now retired or (sob!) deceased.

When I first saw this manuscript in 2015, I told Mr. Rouse the things I love about it, but suggested he visit some How to Edit Your Own Fiction books and tackle some verbosity, and make sure punctuation in dialogue is consistently and correctly used (commas, not periods, e.g., in sentences like “I’ll be right there.” Julia said “I’m on my last ring…”).

In 2016, he published the novel. It is full of heart, full of magic, with swords and monsters, battles and villains, and surprise twists.

It is also full of the same syntax issues, and prose that could use more paring and polishing. “Less is more,” and modern readers have little patience for excess verbiage.

This author is young, as I mentioned, and talented, and ambitious. If he submits his prose to a writing workshop, or a seasoned editor, and hammers away at the excess verbiage, he is sure to win a loyal fan base.

I’m a fan of the theme of forgiveness and redemption, and for that alone I would recommend this novel to young readers. Fantasy is not my favorite genre, but dragons, towers, magical swords, and quests are staples of a classic kind of storyelling that never goes out of style.











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COMING JUNE 1, 2018….


…The trouble with K.C. Brown’s dream of playing alto sax with a local jazz band is that she’s a nineteen-year-old white girl, the band members are middle-aged black men, the year is 1948, and they all live in a racially divided town in Iowa.

Here, there be magic

Even though it’s historical fiction, with all the gritty, brutal real-life truth we expect from the genre, “In the Blood” is a 20th Century fairy tale.

And even though K.C. Brown is the youngest sibling of two sisters and a brother who died bravely in WWII, she finds her fairy godmother, so to speak, in the most unexpected form, a lonely jazz trombonist with mangled hands.

Twisted people, twisted history. Dave Hoing has a rare gift of making me wince and cringe and shield my eyes, but it’s too late, I’ve been pulled into the story, and this fictional world is so real, I can no more leave the story than I could end my own life.

Hoing and Hileman always deliver

lyrical prose, quotable quotes, and provocative insights.

Character development is spot-on, even in the most minor players.

I guarantee it. There is so much to say about every single minor character, especially members of this jazz band, I think I’ll just let the reader meet them all firsthand.

KC’s boyfriend, her boss at the grocery store, her groping co-worker, her sisters with their 1950s attitudes, her nosy landlady, the musicians with drug habits that keep them from performing, Freddy’s wife, a cat named Washington–even the cat his a distinct and memorable personality!–and the locals who resurface from previous Hoing and Hileman novels, all are so real, it’s hard to believe this is only fiction.

The ending is sad in so many ways, yet uplifting and gratifying.

Poignant, tragic, maddening,

horrifying events, usually taken straight from real life, make all their stories unforgettable.
Just try to forget what happened to Freddy’s fingers. And why he was unable to get proper medical care.
Or the workers who went on strike at the meat packing plant, and the shooting that happened in real life, though names were changed in the novel.

World War II is still a recent memory

when the novel opens in the same town we read about in “Hammon Falls,” with its haunting tale of a WWI soldier taken–you guessed it–straight from real life. Hoing and Hileman fictionalize the names of the towns, but local business and landmarks are recognizable to anyone who’s been there. Lost loved ones live on in fiction.

KC’s brother Kenny is forever a part of her,

gone but not forgotten

in that way so many of us know all too well. Whatever she does, wherever she goes, she carries part of her brother with her. Hard-hitting prose, lean, economical, lyrical, captures this in scene after scene. E.g.

Her brother didn’t miss the war. Kenny didn’t wait to be drafted, enlisting in ’41. He was brave. He was the best. He volunteered for every dangerous mission. He died. He never got to have a wife, or a house, or children, or a dog. Worse, all of his music died with him­–all, except what was left inside K.C.

KC may seem like an anachronism, the only free-thinking member of her family, resisting the limited expectations of a girl in a small Iowa town. Women, along with Blacks, were held back in a court of public opinion that punished those who stepped outside boundaries that society held dear. It was an era where racism was acceptable and allowing blacks to rent hotel rooms was not. Naturally, the white folk took pride in being tolerant of blacks living and working alongside them, but Hoing yanks the curtain back on their ignorance with snarky inner monologues that ring true, e.g.:

The white folks here didn’t like blacks any more than in Biloxi or Selma, but most were too stupid even to be good racists.


… one of those progressive white families that was on the side of the Negro. Made no difference what they said they believed: push come to shove, none of them wanted one of their own living black. Being fair-minded was fine, long as it involved someone else’s kid.

KC reminds me of my sister, who in 1975 insisted on thinking for herself (gasp! Everyone else in town hadn’t left the 1950s yet), and who would have done all the things KC does (on a guitar, not sax, and vocals, and fine, as a rock star, not a jazz musician, but let’s just say KC really captured so many things I’ve seen in real life. And as a result of her strong-minded, independent thinking, KC thinks of herself as a nice person but she doesn’t have many (any) friends.

** I will add more when the book is released!**

Thank you to Jessica Hughes for her mention of this book (and this review) at Islander Highlights – Week 9!

Message in a Bottle #30
Origin: Isle of Write
Sender: @jrhughes
Recipients: Steemit Creatives




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Libby McGugan’s The Fifth Force (Quantum Ghosts Trilogy Book 2)

My Favorite Scotland Author is back,


with a sequel to The Eidolon:

THE FIFTH FORCE (Quantum Ghosts Trilogy Book 2) by Libby McGugan

Amazon USA – order here
Amazon UK – order here

Libby McGugan

was born 1972 in Airdrie, a small town east of Glasgow in Scotland, to a Catholic mother and a Protestant-turned-atheist father, who loved science. She enjoyed a mixed diet of quantum physics, spiritual instinct, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Her ambition was to grow up and join the Rebel alliance in a Galaxy Far, Far away. Instead she went to Glasgow University and studied medicine. As an emergency physician, she has worked in Scotland, in Australia with the Flying Doctors service, and in a field hospital in the desert. She loves travelling and the diversity that is the way different people see the world, and has been trekking in the Himalaya of Bhutan, backpacking in Chile, USA and Borneo and diving in Cairns. Her biggest influences are Joseph Campbell, Lao Tzu, David Bohm, Brian Greene, JK Rowling and Yoda. The Book Plank, Posted 13th November 2013 by Jasper de Joode

The Eidolon,

Book One, illuminates the divide between science and spirit. In The Fifth Force, Book Two, the divide leads to a fast and furious battle of good vs evil.

The Fifth Force

continues the story of Robert Strong, a physicist who ends up in an altered state in Book One. His efforts to hide it are eerie, fascinating, and sometimes comical. On a passenger train, e.g.,

…the substance of his left arm began fading and the fuzzy blue chequered pattern of the seat emerged where his forearm should have obscured it.

Robert has to think fast, and above all FOCUS, to keep from turning transparent or invisible. An interesting problem to have, but the upside is that Robert, like those Project Stargate researchers in The Men Who Stare At Goats, can walk through walls and enter buildings unseen.

Useful talent for the hero of a thriller!

Both novels are well crafted, tautly constructed, strong, and intelligent.

It’s not easy to define, but the more I read books lacking in brain power, the more I love it when I find it: a sense that the author is alert, thoughtful, highly educated, and engaged.

I’m partial to stories packed full of science and history, imagination, and ideas. My favorite stories, more and more, are written by scientists and doctors, and they are blessed with storytelling skills as well as the high IQ to pass college-level physics . E.E. Giorgi (Italian-born) and Guy T. Martland (UK) are two more of my favorite scientist-authors, and if you haven’t heard of these fantastic speculative-fiction writers, you probably hadn’t heard of me either until now. I mention them often on Twitter, Facebook, and at Steemit, e.g. Photos of my Favorite Scientist-Authors.

Anyone who loves physics (and even those who don’t) will find much to love in the Quantum Ghosts Trilogy.

Libby McGugan is a physician who embraces the Robert Lanza view of the universe, i.e., she believes in life after death to the point that the line between the two is not all that well-defined (I haven’t internalized it to the point that I can paraphrase accurately).

Trailer for The Fifth Force, sequel to The Eidolon and Book 2 in the Quantum Ghosts Trilogy

Fellow writers,

Before I talk about the book, let me share a quote from Qwillery’s Interview with Libby McGugan, author of The Eidolon:

I found this technique a couple of years ago, and it’s something I apply to pretty much everything now. The idea is that before you do anything, you spend some time thinking about how it will feel when it’s completed the way you would like it to be.

After I went to the Writers’ Festival in York a couple of years ago, and got some direct, painful but extremely valuable feedback from an agent and publisher there, I was faced with a major rewrite. So I tried this technique. Before I wrote anything I’d do something else – go for a run, tidy up, whatever, and spend time imagining how it would feel to have written that particular part and feel really satisfied with it. Scene by scene, chapter by chapter, it all came together. So a story that had taken me three years to write, I rewrote (changing the narrative stance, tense and eighty percent of the plot) in ten weeks. Works for me!

I also write to movie soundtracks.

I wrote The Eidolon to the soundtracks of Inception, The Dark Knight, Gladiator and The Island.

I need to sift through my Kindle notes,

make sure I spell all the names right, and come back to this. The poker-playing scene with Danny is hilarious. Strange things happen when a few troublemakers taunt Ben and one tosses his toy car into a fire. ” The mass panic when people around the world suddenly develop telepathy is also scary but funny. “I’m not leaving until someone tells me how my mother can hear my thoughts!” one man cries. “Do you have any idea how intrusive that is?”

Hey! I just discovered that I can link my Amazon book purchases to Goodreads, and

My Kindle Highlights get posted at Goodreads!

If you care to look, click on the link above, not this screen shot:

Finding my highlights at Twitter

is more hit and miss; Goodreads keeps them all in one handy place.

The Revenants.

Not gonna talk about ’em (Spoilers!), so you should just rush out and buy this novel.

“Like a haar that rolls in from the sea to the coast, it brought with it not just a change in the light, but a chill that clung to the particles of air itself. But it was more than that. It was the feeling that hangs on the air when it knows a thunderstorm is coming. It settled on the crowd, like an intangible shroud. The birds fell silent and the air grew tight. Waiting.”

One-star bandits, the book ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger, so hold your fire, please. Book Three will come – not soon enough for fans of the series, but as Libby says,

“Time’s a construct of the mind anyway!”

At the risk of fan-girling,

let me just say I love Libby’s outlook on life, her scientific knowledge, her insights, her wisdom (she’s ten year younger than me!), and her brilliance.

Did I mention I love Cora? In Book One, I found her annoying. This time around, she shines with insight, wisdom, and this accidental one-upmanship that endlessly endears her to me.

Libby’s practice as an Emergency physician has shifted to less conventional methods to heal our minds and bodies. See her Ted talks, e.g. Intentional medicine – shifting the focus of healthcare | Libby McGugan | TEDxGlasgow:

And read more about VR as a medical treatment here at io-reality.com.

Our state of mind is our single biggest asset. Without understanding it, we’re barely scratching the surface of our potential… Using cutting edge VR technology, coupled with newly-proven Neuropsychological approaches, IO-Reality seek to revolutionize physical rehabilitation and skills development. We help people understand how state of mind works, to live their true potential in health, business and life.


Here is my review of Book One, The Eidolon:

MIXING SCIENCE, MURDER AND ESPIONAGE, Libby McGugan’s debut novel “The Eidolon” delivers two hooks I cannot resist: the atom smasher, and evidence of a human afterlife. Add strangelets, stigmery and WIMPS (Weakly Interacting Massive Particles), let the characters marvel at swarm intelligence in bees, and I can emphatically state that this is no run-of-the-mill thriller.

The opening scene is exquisitely cold, stark and beautiful. Snow swirls around two men as they near the top of Mt. Everest. The prose is riveting:

“I peer up at the faceless ascent and it stares back at me­, cold, unmerciful. The fear grips me for a moment. The kind of fear I’ve read about, when men who undertake this pilgrimage … realize that they’re nobody to the mountain; that it doesn’t care if they live or die … The wind is wailing like a tortured cat … There’s a point when pride needs to step aside for instinct, and it’s right here.”

Huddled in a hole in the snow, Robert takes the reader back in time. Through flashbacks we meet an earlier Robert on his way to work, where he’s about to verify his earth-shaking discoveries at the Dark Matter research lab. Like the storm that would keep him from the top of Mt. Everest, a shocking, sudden closing of the lab halts his life’s work. Dazed and demoralized, he comes home to find his live-in girlfriend talking to her sister’s ghost. Cora always was a New Age mystic sort of gal, but this is more juju than a recently fired physicist can take. Then again, his skepticism is more than a positive thinker like Cora can take, so she leaves him.

Still shivering in the snow, Robert suddenly senses the presence of another sentient being on the mountain. The scene is eerie and suspenseful, and plot spoilers keep me from saying more, but when Robert is safely home from Everest, the ghost of Cora’s sister starts appearing to him, too. He dismisses it as a stress-induced delusion and retreats to his childhood home in Scotland, but instead of shaking his gloom, he starts seeing more dead people.

Jobless and no longer sure of his sanity, Robert is ripe for the recruiting efforts of a scary-mysterious businessman who offers him one hundred thousand pounds for a week’s work. The catch? Victor Amos wants Robert to sabotage the famous, fabulous, hugely expensive and important Large Hadron Collider. Amos and his super-secret global guardians are on a mission to protect humanity from its own curiosity. They have compelling “evidence” that CERN’s next round of experiments could destroy the world, and only Robert can stop them. He remains skeptical until Amos pulls the last rabbit from his hat, a compelling surprise that induces Robert to accept the job.

I love Casimir, the bee-keeping, star-gazing neighbor who has a vast amount of knowledge about the cosmos in spite of no money for a university education. “The idea of finding dark matter always intrigued him. A hunch, he said, that it would change everything.” Every action and word from Casimir seems authentic. I want way more of him than the novel can give.

More intriguing than strangelets are the dead people Robert meets after infiltrates CERN. Yes, his social circle fills with dead people, or people who claim to be ghosts. They call themselves ‘eidolon’­-ancient Greek for apparition, a spirit-image of a living or dead person. Robert can shake hands with the eidolon and drink with them, while most people can’t see them at all. One is angry and in denial about being recently murdered; another is completely unaware of being dead. It’s the kind of New Age juju that divided Robert and Cora, but now our cynical physicist is joining the juju. I love the irony of that.

The most delightful irony is that Robert the skeptic, who scoffed at poor, bereft Cora and her sister’s ghost, ends up seeing far more of that sort of “impossible” stuff. Robert the cool, objective scientist, is one of earth’s most mystical of mystics, if he ever gets past his denial.

Every character is real and vivid. I love the hapless Danny, who plans the Everest trip, and Robert’s mother, and their head-shaking comments about Danny.

“Death is just a state of mind. Everything that can possibly happen is occurring at some point across multiverses, and this somehow means death cannot exist in any real sense, either.” Libby tells me that’s what she’s driving at with The Eidolon. Via email, Libby has corrected my misunderstanding that Robert gives credence to fears that the atom smasher may create black holes. His concern is the strangelets and the ‘Ice nine’-like reaction, which to this day is a concern for some scientists.

I’m eager to see Robert doing battle in a dark Edinburgh alley with a Revenant. What’s a Revenant? When Book Two comes out, you’ll know more than you ever wanted to about these spectral horrors.

Physicists confirm possible discovery of fifth force of nature

Aug 15, 2016 – Recent findings indicating the possible discovery of a previously unknown subatomic particle may be evidence of a fifth fundamental force of nature…

… this potential fifth force might be joined to the electromagnetic and strong and weak nuclear forces as “manifestations of one grander, more fundamental force.”

A separate dark sector with its own matter and forces

“It’s possible that these two sectors talk to each other and interact with one another through somewhat veiled but fundamental interactions…This dark sector force may manifest itself as this protophobic force we’re seeing as a result of the Hungarian experiment. In a broader sense, it fits in with our original research to understand the nature of dark matter.”

Physicists Are Probing The Centre of Our Galaxy to Find The Missing Fifth Force of Nature

“If true, it’s revolutionary.”

… Thanks to our inability to figure out what dark matter actually is, some physicists (very controversially) want to ditch gravity as a fundamental force altogether.
But instead of permanently dropping one of the fundamental forces of nature in the hopes that the Universe will make more sense without it, what if we added a fifth force that ties gravity to the others in ways we’ve never thought of before?


Libby McGugan

has had a lifelong fascination with the boundary between science and the human spirit. Working for 10 years as an emergency medicine consultant gave her a solid grounding in science; witnessing the strength of the human spirit in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges made her question what else might be going on.
She was nominated Best Newcomer in the British Fantasy Awards for her first novel, The Eidolon, which came to her following the death of her father, Tom, in 2007.
Her short story, The Game Changer was published in Jonathan Oliver’s anthology, Dangerous Games. She is a student and teacher of understanding the inside-out nature of the human experience and is constantly surprised by how life seems to know what it’s doing. When she’s not writing or teaching, she can be usually be found playing her fiddle and enjoying the company of family and friends in her favourite city, Glasgow.

Buy it now

THE FIFTH FORCE (Quantum Ghosts Trilogy Book 2)

Amazon USA 
Amazon UK

Until next time,


because Kean sounds like Kane (not keen, hint, hint)

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Let’s Fry Chicken Little nominated for 2015 Pushcart Award

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“Not the Usual Crazy” (First African in Space scam as Freewriting Prompt)

 I WAS A PRISONER in my father’s kitchen, all the walls and windows covered in tinfoil, table buried under antique ham radio equipment.

“Someone has to go check on Dad,” my brother had said. “He’s not answering his phone or email.”

“Someone” always meant me.

Dad’s usual conspiracy-theory-crazy had escalated. He refused to unlock the gate for me when I first drove up and buzzed, but I knew the code. Once I got in, he confiscated my keys and cell phone. I wouldn’t be getting out anytime soon.

“Super top secret,” he said, ears covered in headphones. He ushered me in with a bright-eyed smile, which made no sense after he’d just taken my keys hostage, and waved me into the Recliner of Doom. Whoever sank into that marvelous chair would be incapacitated by the ennui of pure comfort and lazy bliss. No sedatives necessary. Somehow we always forgot this, and Dad always had to pry us out with a crowbar whenever he was ready for us to leave.

“Ok Dad.” I managed, at least, to speak. “I won’t ask who you’re so excited about.”

“Think Arthur Collins.” Dad was still half-smiling. For him to be excited like this, historically, just…well, it never led to good things. “Art Collins and his home-built crystal radio.”

I thought.

At age fifteen, Collins accidentally or serendipitously made contact with Admiral Perry and the MacMillan expedition. Their German-built radios couldn’t get through to headquarters in DC, but this Iowa boy ended up sending and receiving messages in Morse code throughout the summer of 1925–even though his equipment consisted of a Quaker Oats box, glass towel racks, some wire and a Model T spark coil. In my dad’s eyes, Art Collins was as epic and legendary as a comic book superhero. All Dad’s vintage equipment came from Collins Radio Company.*

“I’m done thinking about Collins,”

I said. “Did you just contact some big, covert expedition, or something?”

“Only the first African in space.” Dad’s eyes shifted my way, then back to his dials and the bloopy, swoopy noises we had grown up with, Twilight Zone sound effects lulling us into nightmares of UFO sightings and aliens kidnapping our mother.

“Dad. That’s an old internet scam. Another variation on the Nigerian prince.” I managed to keep a sick feeling from rising into my throat.

“Not this one.” Dad tossed me another glance. “This one started before we even had an internet.” He pulled his headset away from one ear and looked me straight in the eye for, like, three seconds. “About the time your mother started whistleblowing, this guy–”

He launched a crazy tale of some rich guy in Africa going up in a space shuttle and never coming home again, because crazy foreign nationals killed his radio, stole his bank account, hijacked his business, and faked his death.

Just like someone had faked Mom’s.

All these years, he would never accept that she could be dead. “She’s alive,” he’d told us even after we saw her coffin lowered into the earth. “I don’t know who or what is in that grave, but it isn’t her.”

They never did allow us to see the body, because dental records identified her, and what was left of her wasn’t fit for anyone’s eyes.

Even if she was in Witness Protection, as Dad hoped, she was dead to us. We’d never see her or hear from her again.

“Dad.” I tried to get up, but the recliner held me in its divine grip. How could it make me feel so relaxed when our crazy dad was ready to open some new Pandora’s box of conspiracy theories and assassination attempts? This was not his usual crazy. This was a new and crazier than ever kind of crazy.

He didn’t even ask what I was about to say. That ticked me off. But not as much as the fact I couldn’t remember what I was going to say, anyway. Dad. Dad. Something he’d said made me think he believed Mom and the Afronaut, African astronaut, whatever, were somehow connected.

The noise of Dad’s radios became stranger than usual, and I remembered the sonic attack, or acoustic accident, that made those American ambassadors get really sick in Cuba. What if these crazy radio acoustics we’d heard for years were messing up Dad’s brain? My head felt weird with all the spacey sounds filling the room.

“The tin foil,” I said. “How does it let in shortwave radio but keep out whatever surveillance stuff you worry about?”

Delayed replies were dad’s usual m.o. but I just didn’t feel patient or indulgent with him now. Not if that Nigerian Prince scam had suckered him in.

He was listening to something in Morse Code. He could hear at a ridiculous speed, while I could only make out ten or twenty words per minute. The di-di-dah-dit sounds came faster than machine gun fire, in a high register that always sounded a little hysterical to me, even on a good day.

His body tensed like a dog who heard a stick break in the woods. “It’s almost here!”

Dad bolted, like that dog chasing the sound in the woods. I followed him out the door. He stood in the yard, looking past the antenna farm to the long, grassy strip he used as a runway for his home-built plane. Not much was visible in the moonless night, but a dark shape blocked the stars, and became larger, and larger. A whisper landed on the ground, sending tremendous vibrations to our feet. I felt sound waves rattling my teeth yet heard almost nothing.

A narrow strip of light widened into a doorway, with a human figure silhouetted in the electric-looking glow. Dad whooped like an Apache and went running.

Two silhouettes hugged and spun each other around, squealing. Another figure loomed in the lit-up doorway.

I took a deep, steadying breath and willed myself to wake up now from this weird dream, but I was more wide awake than ever before in my life. Then I remembered the spare phone I kept in my pocket, knowing Dad would always confiscate my real phone. My brother was on speed dial.

He wasn’t going to believe it any more than I did, but that silhouette was the exact size and shape of our mother.


* I first read about the Arthur Collins story in “The First 50 Years … A History of Collins Radio Company” by Ken C. Braband, ©1983, Communications Department, Avionics Group, Rockwell International, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 

News Item on Havana: Computer scientists may have solved the mystery behind the ‘sonic attacks’ in Cuba

This story started in response to a prompt from @mariannewest
Day 140: 5 Minute Freewrite: Thursday – Prompt: First African in Space

Next day, she explained the prompt: Day 140: 5 Minute Freewrite: Friday – Prompt: grocery list 

Below, an excerpt from the news story the “First African in Space” prompt was based on:

Here’s the Best Nigerian Prince Email Scam in the Galaxy by Katharine Trendacosta

The Nigerian prince scam will never die….

… You know how these scams work by now: an email says that someone is in prison unjustly/kidnapped/exiled. They’re rich, but they can’t get to their money right now. If you help them out, they’ll reward you once they’re free…

… This email, which Anorak posted in full, is a true gem of the genre. The pathos! The storytelling! The use of a real government website! Here’s the setup:

REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCE-STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL I am Dr. Bakare Tunde, the cousin of Nigerian Astronaut, Air Force Major Abacha Tunde. He was the first African in space when he made a secret flight to the Salyut 6 space station in 1979. He was on a later Soviet spaceflight, Soyuz T-16Z to the secret Soviet military space station Salyut 8T in 1989. He was stranded there in 1990 when the Soviet Union was dissolved. His other Soviet crew members returned to earth on the Soyuz T-16Z, but his place was taken up by return cargo. There have been occasional Progrez supply flights to keep him going since that time. He is in good humor, but wants to come home.

@Keangaroo had posted this to our discord home, The Isle of Write (@mariannewest writes),  and suggested that this would make a good prompt. Then, this happened:

Carol, to Marianne:
Coincidentally – 
Our son released an album today, March 7, and he composed the songs the way your Freewrites work. He started free-writing lyrics each day for 30 days. Then he’d work on the music. Eight songs made the final cut at the end of the month.

Miles_business_card_Aug 2012 Miles explains,

It was almost February and Layla Frankel asked Katie Bates and me if we wanted to write a song every day in Feb and send it to each other to critique them for each other. I had only ever written one song with lyrics up to that point and had never really been a singer before but I was down to try. By the end of the month I was surprised what happened and excited to share them so here are my some of favorites. Thanks to Layla and Katie for their feedback and encouragement.
released March 7, 2018 | all rights reserved

“First African in Space” – point of view of the stranded astronaut –
In 1979 I became the first African in space
On a secret flight to the salyut 6 space station
Something happened on my second flight
To another Soviet military space stationI was stranded there in 1990
when the Soviet Union dissolved
The rest of my crew returned to Earth
But my place was taken up by return cargoThere have been occasional supply flights
To keep me going
I am still in good humor
But I want to come home
Yeah I want to come home

lyrics, vocals, score, instrumentals, recording, by Miles, from the album My Name is Miles


How cool is that?   A freewrite song lyric initiative, which works in a way much like Marianne’s Daily Freewrite **Writing** prompt–and on the same day that Marianne posted the “African in Space” prompt, Miles Kean’s song, inspired by the same Nigerian scammer story, was released. I had no idea it was happening. It all just came together.


Another element that appears in all my writing is something I have in common with Jody Ewing–loss of a loved one to an unsolved murder case. Jody is a living legend when it comes to investigating Iowa Cold Cases and calling attention to them, in hopes that some reader, somewhere, will remember something, and supply a clue.

15977915_10210475366497053_496244755809085808_n[1] Jody (left), Julie |  below, top row, fifth from left398245_409431575746695_425942075_n[1]

Also, it’s a tribute to the lives cut short by murder, the families who mourn a lost loved one. Sometimes, it’s a plea to investigate the investigation. Crazy conspiracy theories arise from real-life corruption and conspiracies to cover up crime, especially when Law Enforcement at every level starts looking sketchy, from local LE to FBI agents.

Jody is also a first-rate writer and storyteller but she rarely finds time for her own writing. I like to remind her that the truth is best told in the guise of fiction, and she could disguise Cold Cases as a series of best-selling police procedurals and thrillers.

Marianne’s freewriting Prompt works like this:

Set your timer for 5 minutes
Start writing
Use the hashtag #freewrite
Publish your piece
Copy and paste your URL into the comment section of the prompt post. Or, if you don’t want to publish your freewrite, just copy and paste as a comment under the prompt post.

Thank you for the Freewrite prompts, Marianne!

Here’s how mine began. Five minutes isn’t long enough for me to write a whole page. I write for a few hours, then revise, and revise some more. You can see how the opening changed, if you can read my last-century cursive.

Photo credit: starry sky with antenna by https://pixabay.com/en/users/Republica-24347/


because Kean sounds like Kane (not keen, hint, hint)

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Perihelion Science Fiction

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