Review: The Devil’s Dictum by Frederick Gero Heimbach

The Devil’s Dictum by Frederick Gero Heimbach (2015)

I enjoy books that defy easy categorization, that don’t “slot in” to a genre and revisit tropes that the experienced reader has seen before. The Devil’s Dictum doesn’t do that, oh no. This is one of the most unusual, original and creative books I’ve read in a long, long time.

The Amazon description refers to “original and mind-blowing alternate history,” but I don’t know if that’s even big and expansive enough: This is a world where Hitler is the President of the United States (for a while, anyway), where the “Pilgrims” were driven away from Plymouth Rock and established Haiti as their nation, where pirates and Satanists are the “Founding Fathers.” I wouldn’t exactly call it alternative history, to me it was a fantastic, strange alternative Universe, that shouldn’t even work, but does, through the author’s intimate knowledge of the human heart and its foibles, and I suppose, sheer force of authorial will.

The Devil’s Dictum is listed under Steampunk Fiction, Steampunk Science Fiction and “Colonization Science Fiction” as its genres, but that’s way too confining and doesn’t do it full justice. I think new categories should probably been invented for this book: Comedic Dystopian Steampunk Political Satire, perhaps. Like I said, it defies easy categorization, and I loved that.

Since the above doesn’t completely highlight the sheer audacity of this work, a brief plot summary is needed: In a 1946 United States that truly is a nation of immigrants because it has no women, and thus no babies, the Special Master to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (a de facto dictator) is essentially an assassin and enforcer, The House of Representatives is locked inside of its chamber in total darkness and insanity, and the Elite of the Nation’s Capital get around by raven taxi, that is, taxis lifted into the air by squads of literal ravens.

I don’t know how many writers could conceive of any of this, much less pull it off, but Heimbach makes it work, to the extent that after a few pages my disbelief was quite suspended, thank you, and the internal logic of the strange world these people live in became–logical and believable.

I’m not going to describe in detail the events that ensue, but they all fit together nicely, in the end.

And indeed, in the end I think of this book especially as a brilliant satire, of our politicians and elites and of pretense and Will to Power. Brilliant in many ways, in its vivid descriptive language, the characters that exhibit various degrees of evil but also the feelings and urges of all human beings, and in the satisfying way it all comes out in the end.

If you had described the situation and the circumstances and the world of The Devil’s Dictum to me beforehand, I would have doubted that the author could pull such a thing off.

Yet, he did. Highly recommended.

(Addendum: Heimbach recently published a new book, Ronald Reagan’s Brilliant Bullet, which I certainly plan to read. “The setting is the Cold War and Ronald Reagan has a shiny new toy to play with: a rocket powered suit. He’ll need it to battle the terrifying monstrosity Leonid Brezhnev is building on a secret base in Siberia.” What’s not to like?)

Review: Te Kererū Book 2 – Shaking the Nest by S.G. Smith

(My previous review of Te Kererū Book 1 – The Nest is here).

 Te Kererū Book 2 – Shaking the Nest is available at GumRoad

“Te Kererū” is the Māori name for the native New Zealand wood pigeon, a beautiful and tasty bird. When three-year-old Katherine Taylor, a “Pākehā” (white person) is orphaned by a massive landslide, she is adopted by the regional Māori chief–and by the village and its people. Given the nickname Te Kererū, little Kate is different, quiet, mysterious, apparently the proverbial “old soul.” But the book subtly hints she’s something more than this, something bigger…”

I was notably enthusiastic about S.G. Smith’s first novel, part one of what promises to be a long and fascinating journey. In Book 2, we follow Kate during her transition from girl to the edge of womanhood, learn a lot more about New Zealand society and Māori culture and life, and get deeply into the fascinating world that the author has created from the elements of the real New Zealand and her imagination

The world of Te Kererū is, as the author refers to it, “speculative fiction,” with the Māori group/clan and its village and the nearby city and lands specifically not closely based on any real life example. It seems to me to be a sort of idealized depiction, what could, and may, be in the future. I began to realize more as I read this second book that Kate is an archetype, a Stranger in a Strange Land who becomes embedded in a different culture and (perhaps?) brings new perspectives and a new integration of different worlds.

But this book is a sort of serial, bearing a resemblance to the great old movie houses where the audience come back every Saturday and watched another episode, with new revelations and resolution of some issues, followed by new complications.

In this installment the big complication is Kate’s budding womanhood, but with surprising and important differences from the usual and well-worn tropes we’ve seen in a hundred Hollywood movies. Kate is exceptional, in some ways brilliant, wise beyond her years, but also very introverted and some might even say mildly “autistic.”

In fact, I’m as fascinated by Kate as by any character I’ve read in fiction for a long time. We learn a lot about her, but somehow most of it seems external, the keen observations of others. There is internal dialogue and descriptions of Kate’s thinking, and yet even after two books Kate is still something of a mystery to me, and I like that. She seems destined for something big–but what?

The author has skillfully built a a truly interesting world, and a woman, that I want to find out much more about. And that’s my definition of a good book.

Te Kererū Book 2 – Shaking the Nest on GumRoad includes Book 1 as a package deal, so you don’t need to worry if you haven’t read the first volume. Highly recommended.

Review: The Gentleman Farmers by Loretta Malakie

(My review of Loretta Malakie’s previous novel Love in the Age of Dispossession is here).

I’ve become very interested in “second novels,” having published my own in January. After reading and enjoying Loretta Malakie’s Love in the Age of Dispossession I was thus very interested when I heard some months ago she was writing a second book, The Gentleman Farmers.

Maggie Kingsbury, single middle-aged alcoholic lawyer, joins her in-laws Molly and Kevin on a homestead in the mountains of North Carolina, where their trustafarian college frenemies Brock and Sandra have just bought their third home. Molly commissions Brock to renovate an old Appalachian tobacco barn on their property. But when maverick hillbilly throwback Uncle Billy shows up to live in their field in a camper van, power struggles ensue. Meanwhile, Kevin has become dangerously obsessed with breeding heritage livestock. When Maggie’s beloved niece Juliet asks her to take on a mysterious client, Maggie becomes implicated in a national political furor.

A second novel should be better than the first in a lot of ways–after all,  the author has experience, the author has practice. Even more important, at least in my experience the author has confidence, that he or she can get the job done. Even in the times I was struggling the most with my second book, I felt like if I just kept pushing words out it would all work together. And it did.

Meanwhile Ms. Malakie was working on The Gentlemen Farmers, and as much as I liked Love in the Age of Dispossession, in some ways this second novel is a better book, a little smoother, a little better edited, and quite a bit funnier. There are more “laugh out loud” moments here, but Malakie hasn’t lost her touch when it comes to illustrating, and mourning, the gradual degradation of Normal America, small town America, where people got along, had children, where children knew their grandparents and aunts and uncles. That’s gone now, in much of America, but Maggie Kingsbury is old enough to remember it and describe it to us, and how it was lost, or taken away, by our so-called “elites,” through immigration and “offshoring,” all of it to fatten the bottom lines of multinational corporations.

The characters in The Gentleman Farmers only come to realize this gradually, as their small New York town becomes unlivable, and as their new North Carolina area begins to show the cracks, as well. It’s the teenager Juliet that points out that becoming gentleman farmers, cultivating heirloom tomatoes and heritage breeds, has become a substitute for  cultivating our own culture and heritage. The author connects the current “statue wars” to the same situation in a neat package, and it becomes clear, how all of it’s connected.

Comedy, tragedy, love, life and death, Malakie deftly handles them all in The Gentleman Farmers. As “second novels” or any novels go, it’s terrific and highly recommended.

Love in the Age of Dispossession on Amazon

The Gentleman Farmers on Amazon

 

Review: The Dream of the Iron Dragon by Robert Kroese

The Dream of the Iron Dragon (Saga of the Iron Dragon, Volume 1) by Robert Kroese

The essence of a good book, a good story, is the right mix of the familiar and the surprising. Robert Heinlein was a master of this: Boy Scouts on Ganymede, the Chamber of Commerce on the Moon, that sort of thing.

Robert Kroese also seems to be a master of it:

In the 23rd century, humanity has been hunted to the verge of extinction by an alien race. When an exploratory ship accidentally travels back in time to Viking-age Scandinavia, the human race is given a second chance.

We have interstellar travel (through wormholes), war with an alien race, time travel and…Vikings.

While the first is familiar from various books and films going back 80 years or more, and the next two going back all the way to H. G. Wells, Kroese manages to bring a fresh perspective and make his universe both logical and plausible. It turns out that while both humans and their rival race, the Cho-ta’an, can use the wormholes for interstellar travel, nobody understands exactly how they work. Like all good science fiction, after a certain point in the book the reader doesn’t think about these things any more, just enjoys the events and story, because the universe of the book is plausible and accepted in his or her mind.

The Vikings are…real. The author has obviously done a lot of work and study to get the details of his Vikings right (they’re Norwegian, by the way, and really don’t like the Danes). Viking weapons, tactics, ships, social organization and customs all seem solid, and fit together to make a holistic picture of the society the 23rd century spacers find themselves dropped into.

So the plot and setting are well done, but wait, there’s more! Something I noticed when I read Kroese’s Schrödinger’s Gat a couple of years ago was his mastery of character, the human details and short, vivid bits of dialogue that make his characters memorable and real. This is on display again in The Dream of the Iron Dragon and is a big part of why I like this book so much–the people in it. That includes the ship’s crew, the Vikings and also the Cho-ta’an, the “aliens” who appear in person extensively and who Kroese makes into believable “people,” too.

The Dream of the Iron Dragon reminds me of  Niven and Pournelle’s The Mote in God’s Eye, which those with some knowledge of classic science fiction will recognize as high praise. But Kroese’s work is not derivative in any way, instead it’s original, well-written and it satisfies.

I’m happy that it’s Part One of a series; I’ve already purchased The Dawn of the Iron Dragon and I’m certain I’ll be buying and reading The Voyage of the Iron Dragon.

Highly recommended.

(I discovered Robert Kroese through Twitter (@robkroese) and he’s got more than 20 titles out–I have a feeling I’ll be enjoying a lot more of them in the future).

Repost: Occam and Me on JFK and 9/11

(My first piece ever at that grand old group blog The Mitrailleuse, November 2014. With an intellectual background like the one below, no wonder I wrote a novel titled Sanity…)

The first reference to Occam’s Razor I ever saw, age 12, was in Robert Heinlein’s Have Space Suit, Will Travel, which sent me to the encyclopedia (and yes, I’m that old), because who could read the mysterious words “Occam’s Razor” and not be dying to know what it was?

I began reading about the assassination of President  Kennedy when I was 14, my interest sparked by Josiah Thompson‘s book Six Seconds in Dallas, which I found through the proven technique of a random walk through the public library stacks, scanning spines for anything that caught my eye and grabbing it. Who knows why or how these fascinations begin, but by the time I finished Thompson’s well-written and reasonable book I was hooked, leaning toward the “second gun” theory, and on the prowl for more of the seemingly endless supply of fact (and especially, fancy) on the events of November 22, 1963. Continue reading

(I’m republishing some essays that first appeared in The Mitrailleuse several years ago–this one from January, 2016. It’s funny that at that time I was working up a non-fiction book titled “Sanity.” Two years later I published the novel, Sanity. Some things work better as fiction.

I’d just gotten into Scott Adams’s work outside of Dilbert in October 2015. I liked his work very much, thought some of it was genius, but his insistence that Trump would be the President seemed preposterous. At the time…)

It’s interesting that before he became the first human to die live on the Web, Tim Leary changed his tune (and the title of one of his books) from Exo-Psychology to Info-Psychology.

Leary acknowledged that his one-time obsession with space exploration and the future of humanity off-planet was at least partly the result of his time in jail in the 1960s and 70s and the natural tendency of the mind to want to free itself by flying high above the prison grounds. For an old dude, he seems to have rapidly grasped the possibilities of the Web and some of the changes to our lives that digital world would bring. He apparently continued to consume plenty of drugs up until the end. The funny thing, to me, is that there’s no indication that in all his years of psychonauting he ever deeply explored the free, easily available and abundant resource that’s provided to us every night: The Dreamscape.

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In the month or so I’ve been away from most web activity I spent two weeks on a family vacation and all my spare time studying Self-Directed NeuroplasticityLucid Dreaming, and Scott Adams on persuasion and hypnosis. I’m working on my own book, that was working-titled Sanity but is now Essays on Sanity because it’s not going to be that big. Since it is going to be a lot more weighty than the typical 96-page Amazon self-published special, I expect to finish with it in April.

Don’t worry, when it’s available I’ll be going around to flog it mercilessly, so you won’t miss out.

My personal strength (or shtick) is really synthesis, not deep and original thought; so here are a few connections amongst the above smattering of subjects. It appears, looking at the people around me every day and the people I read about in the papers, that most not only don’t know why they’re doing what they’re doing; most of the time they aren’t really conscious, by McPhee’s definition in his lucid dreaming book. They’re not seeing that they’re seeing, hearing that they’re hearing. Most of all, they don’t know that they know. And by sleeping through their dreams and not remembering anything of them, they’re missing the best chance to be in contact with the unconscious part and get a glimpse of what’s really going on in the (90 percent?) of themselves that they’re not consciously aware of.

You Are Not Your Brain, which I began reading first, emphasizes the same principal, differently. The constant stream of “thoughts” that most of us experience, most of the time, are not you, that is, not your consciousness. You need not controlled by them, nor by the bodily sensations that they drive and that can drive you to take various, ineffective and even harmful measures to alleviate. Instead, it’s possible to refocus and redirect when we have these uncomfortable sensations, and eventually consciously rewire the brain (Self-Directed Neuroplasticity) so that we feel them less and they drive us less.

I started reading Scott Adams’ blog just a few weeks ago; people are starting to notice that he was one of the few who stated, back in August, that Donald Trump would win the general election, because Trump is a “Master Persuader.”

Scott is also a trained hypnotist of the Ericksonian school, which once again is coming at the same Big Idea, from a different angle: Are you running your brain, or are you just a herd animal full of Mind Parasites planted by Mommy, your first grade teacher Ms. Progressive, and your very expensive education at Uni? Are you a Persuader, or Persuaded? We’re all both, of course, but it’s nice to know what’s happening rather than being pulled about like a sleepwalker.

Ever driven down the highway for several minutes thinking about “stuff,” internally focused, and “woke up” to find you can’t remember the last five miles? That’s hypnosis baby, as much or more as some guy on stage in Vegas getting people to take off their clothes. No, definitely MORE.

Sanity is soundness. Sanity is more time being conscious and being more in touch with your unconscious. Sanity is being awake when you’re awake and more aware of valuable experiences when you’re asleep.

None of this, on the surface, may seem to be related to my interest in Neoreaction or to “politics” as such, but as one dives into this material, one realizes.

There’s a hell of a lot more to “becoming worthy” than lifting.

Civil War 2.0 Will Be Livestreamed

(A repost of my piece at the dear departed Mitrailleuse blog almost exactly four years ago–July 16, 2016. And I  now give it four stars out of five…it just turned out to be even better, four years later. We now return to those days of yore when no one knew who would be the next President, but somehow everyone knew it was gonna be LIT.)

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised,
will not be televised, will not be televised.
The revolution will be no re-run brothers;
The revolution will be live.

~The events of this summer are a taste of what’s to come in the fall, and even more so, November 9, 2016.

Someone is going to win the Presidential election, and regardless of whether it’s Trump or Clinton, the loser’s supporters are going to feel existential angst about America, and their place in it, far beyond the usual.

Pat Buchanan advises us to take a Chill Pill; “For when a real powder keg blew in the ’60s, I was there. And this is not it.” And yet…in “The ’60s” (and the early ’70s, which is when some of the worst SHTF) we had the evening TV news and the papers. The crazy spread slower then. This time, any and every incident is going to be magnified and extremely accelerated.

Scott Adams, one of the most intelligent commentators extant, catches something significant here in a few well-chosen words:

So now we have a situation in which Team Clinton has scared citizens into thinking the threat to their lives is mostly domestic, coming from Trump, Trump supporters, and anyone who looks like them. People who are scared will act. And we see those actions now in terms of violence against police, violence against Trump supporters, and death threats to bloggers such as me. And we already have one attempted Trump assassination.

So far, Trump has showed a willingness to annihilate any professional politician that gets in the way. And he’s annihilated professional reporters and news organizations that got in his way. And he’s tough on non-citizens. But Trump hasn’t tried to turn American citizens against each other. Clinton has, and successfully so.

You can blame Trump for Trump University, and for his uncivil language. You can blame Trump for lots of stuff. But the police shootings and the recent uptick in domestic racial violence are mostly Clinton’s doings to win the election. And it is working. Unless Trump finds a way to counter Clinton’s racial persuasion, he will lose in November.

I expect Trump to go full-attack after the conventions. It would take the world’s greatest persuader to redefine Trump in a way that he can win the election. But as it turns out, Trump is probably the world’s greatest persuader. That’s why I predict he will win in a landslide. Unless someone kills him first.

Everyone, I think, senses something different, something large and vibrating and vaguely menacing, coming down the pike. I recently finished Jon Meacham’s semi-hagiography of George H.W. Bush and I was struck by Bush’s bewildered reaction to his loss to Bubba in 1992: How could America elect a draft-dodging, in-your-face serial liar and shameless philanderer over a man who’d volunteered to go in harm’s way, had his plane shot out from under him by the Japs and done his conscientious best to serve the nation for 30 years?

The answer, of course, was that Bubba and Mrs. Clinton and their friends in the media who’d gone to Harvard and Yale with them had finally got into positions of influence to make their ’60s-’70s Frankfurt School/Rules for Radicals dreams into realities. All of that Old School crap about Duty, Honor, Country was now inoperative. The Republican Party subsequently nominated a series of decent, moderate men, only one of whom could win, and that mainly because of the manifest weaknesses of his opponents.

Which brings us to the Current Year.

People who are scared will act…

(Insert now-removed video  of guy in Trump hat being chased and beaten by peaceful protesters)

There’s going to be plenty more of this, at the conventions and after. The BLMers and Black Blocers and Mexican Flag Wavers seem to believe they’re immune to serious retaliation from Trumpers, who actually support Western civilization. But from what I see on Twitter and elsewhere, limits will shortly be reached.

“Civil War 2.0” is, of course, hyperbole. Half a million Americans aren’t going to die in the next four years over who wins this election. Only one side, this time, seems to be spoiling for actual violence.

They’d best be careful what they wish for.

(photo credit)

Review: [Think] Like a Mind Reader by Jonathan Pritchard

[Think] Like a Mind Reader by Jonathan Pritchard (2017, paperback only)

A while back a smart friend and I were discussing the characteristics of a good self-help or self-improvement book. There’s a limited amount of “new” information that can be transmitted by now, mostly based on “new” scientific studies, which nearly always confirm the basic premises first espoused by Dale Carnegie, Norman Vincent Peale, or…Aristotle. So to be good, to be really useful, a book needs a new synthesis. By coming at, combining, mostly old, sound materials in a new way, a way that stimulates action, a book can make itself valuable.

Jonathan Pritchard has succeeded in making [Think] Like a Mind Reader a valuable book. His new approach is coming at it as a “mind reader,” a mentalist. In practice, he was able to take his skills beyond the his stage show (though he still does that) and leverage them into a consulting business and corporate training.

His new synthesis here isn’t about mind reading techniques. It’s about deepening understanding of thought, and our understanding of limits. Most of the limits there are, we place upon ourselves. As he points out in the introduction, after a childhood of strictures and “no-nos” and being taught to suppress our “badness,”  “[W]e learn there are thoughts we are not allowed to think.”

As I went through the first few sections of the book, I was nodding in agreement, but also, for an old dog like me, there was a certain familiarity–enthusiasm, interest, positive thinking, logic…but gradually, I sensed a fresh approach. There is some “mind reading” technique material, but more than anything mind reading takes focus, an intense awareness of the moment. Thinking like a mind reader takes, first, desire, a giving of oneself rather than an “extraction” of information.

This is what the author brings to the table that’s different than most. There are a lot of great self-improvement books available. I’ve studied many of them, and even taken action on some of their ideas. Anthony Robbins’s Unlimited Power was one that I picked up at the right time in my life, for the right reasons, that made a big difference. Strangely enough, the actions have produced the results.

[Think] Like a Mind Reader is a book that can make a difference. If you’re a younger person with less experience there may be a lot that’s new here, but anyone of any age may find a gem in the book that makes a difference in their life. The material is presented in a breezy, entertaining style that should hold your interest, anyway.

I first encountered Jonathan Pritchard on Twitter (the_pritchard). That platform has introduced me to many fascinating people and their books and writings. Now I’m looking at Pritchard’s book on Wing Chun Kung Fu and thinking about trying it out.

“The Mechanism”: An excerpt from Reality, the Novel

Reality

Scene 33

The ReHumanist Manifesto. October, 1975. For Private Circulation Only.

 Page 34

 The Mechanism

 Men have not always needed to know how a thing worked for them to use it to their advantage. Henry’s archers at Agincourt devastated the French nobility without any knowledge of the “Law” of Gravity or the equations Newton produced 260 years later, though their arrows’ paths were precisely “determined” by those laws, in a manner of speaking. Electricity was supremely important and useful before the discovery of the electron, as was fire before the understanding of oxidation.

In the 1930s much of the world, and most especially some of my colleagues in the science fiction field, were intrigued by the research done at Duke University into “parapsychology,” led by Dr. Joseph Banks Rhine. Dr.  Rhine claimed to have demonstrated “extrasensory perception” (ESP) through a long series of laboratory trials that found certain people who could seemingly “see” hidden cards through a kind of “mind power.” After a few years of extensive use of ESP in the science fiction pulps, it gradually became clear that Rhine’s results were not replicating in experiments by others, and interest began to fade, though the idea cropped up again with regularity—ESP might or might not work in our world, but did in this or that fictional world.

This is the point of fiction.

Among the so-called “general public” there was always, and continues to be, a majority belief in the “supernatural.” This muddy category might include the aforementioned ESP, ghosts, precognition, the Transubstantiation, spirit mediumship (something that Rhine got his start debunking), “UFOs” (in all their permutations), etc., etc., etc. The reader can lengthen the list as necessary for purposes of discussion.

What do all of these things have in common? First, “science” has supposedly “debunked” them, declared them impossible, or at the least failed to replicate them experimentally. “Science” long ago was defined as the study of the material world, of matter, that is, atoms and the Void. That’s why elsewhere in this Work I mock “social science” so mercilessly. At its best, social science is the gathering and analyzing of useful statistical correlates. At its worst, it is propaganda designed to get the masses to do what our Masters want.

And yet: The “power of positive thinking” was known long before Dr. Peale’s excellent book, was commented on by authors from Classical Greece to Victorian Britain. If there is only matter, then thinking is merely the firing of neurons and the allocation of electrochemical energy. So at first psychological “science” sought to debunk such notions as thoughts influencing the physical body—until the experimental results began to debunk the debunkers. Positive thoughts were shown, with merciless statistical precision, to increase the likelihood of long life and health, to predict success in work and at school, to assist in victory in athletic competition—in short, the power of positive thinking was scientific!

And of course, this challenge to materialism was met by conjuring up…more materialism! Because there must be a material mechanism to explain all results, all phenomena, all Reality. The reason this must be so is that science has deliberately excluded everything else. Positive thinking must be understood to change hormone levels, blood chemistry, the activity of the parts of the brain that react to stress, or something of this sort.

This was mere papering over of a tremendous void, of course.

Let us consider a man suffering from intense sadness (“depression”) because he’s stranded, alone, on an isolated island. We would all agree, superficially, that he has a right to be sad, given the circumstances. Now, let us say he is one day sitting on a rock upon his island, and he sees a tiny spot of something on the rock that is a different color than he’s seen around heretofore, a different and rarer type of lichen, perhaps, and he takes a deep breath and says to himself “I will not give up” and with this thought he begins to feel somewhat better, and the change reminds him that he can change, and he speaks to himself internally: “I Will feel better,” and he begins to do so.

Now one might try and posit a “mechanism” here, something like: “The light waves of a slightly different frequency than his brain had observed for some time were translated in the visual cortex to electrochemical information that propagated through various organs of the brain resulting in a series of chemical changes that he felt as ‘better.’ And this feeling caused another cascade of similar effects that caused a projection of this feeling into the future.”

I submit to you, Dear Reader, that this reads like a fairytale: “One day the boy found some Magic Beans in the garden…and he felt better.”

I will now give you a “scientific” proposition of my own to ponder: All our known sensory organs are made of atoms, and thus the only things they can sense are other atoms that bounce off of them or combine with them to form new chemicals, or electromagnetic radiation that alters their electrons. This is elementary physics and chemistry. If, if there were any other kinds of “substances” in the universe besides atoms and photons and so on, our senses would not be able to detect them, directly.

To be “scientific” in our time is to deny that there is a possibility that there are any of these other substances. This was always my position, from the time I began to think for myself, age 12 or so, the time I read of Eddington’s observational test of General Relativity during the 1919 eclipse. It was my position as I wrote and sold my science fiction stories of the 1930s—ESP was included because it had been shown to work in the laboratory. And when that came into serious doubt I abandoned it. It was my position through the 40s and early 50s, in my novels about space travel and future life on Earth.

And then it came to pass that events changed my mind, not in the theoretical sense of laboratory results, but in “real life.”

And I found there that besides matter and the void, there is indeed a third thing, and that we do have a way to contact it. Our ancient ancestors knew the way, I believe, and Man traded it, in effect abandoned it, for the material technology that allowed him to grow from tens of thousands to billions of individuals in just a few tens of thousands of years. In many ways it was a very good trade for him.

But now I understand that it isn’t gone forever. It can be gotten back.

Te Kererū Book 1 – The Nest by Susan Smith

Te Kererū Book 1 available at GumRoad

The best thing about being on Twitter has been discovering new authors. I also love the humor, but good books > funny .gifs.

I’ll do another post with the (long) list of fine writers and their books I’ve discovered there, but today we focus on one delightful little book (or Part I of a delightful long book) Te Kererū by Susan G. Smith.

“Te Kererū” is the Māori name for the native New Zealand wood pigeon, a beautiful and tasty bird. When three-year-old Katherine Taylor, a “Pākehā” (white person) is orphaned by a massive landslide, she is adopted by the regional Māori chief–and by the village and its people. Given the nickname Te Kererū, little Kate is different, quiet, mysterious, apparently the proverbial “old soul.” But the book subtly hints she’s something more than this, something bigger…

Without trying hard in any way, we’re educated about the New Zealand Māori culture and society, something I had only a slight knowledge of before reading Te Kererū. The author obviously loves her country and its people and the book opened up a new piece of the world for me, as I believe it will for most readers.

Her style is clear, limpid is the old-fashioned word, mostly short declarative sentences, but skillfully layered one upon another, sips not gulps, and very satisfying, in the long run.

The story is developed through a series of scenes or vignettes, glimpses of events and pieces of conversations, a technique I also use and can appreciate. Each chapter is a facet of a gem, and gradually we begin to see something taking shape, a mission or a destiny, and…end of Book 1.

Like the wonderful old movie serials, the present volume leaves the reader wanting more. This isn’t so common these days, but I’m all right with it. I understand the next book will be available soon, which I hope is true.

Because the only thing I didn’t like about this book was that it ended.

Te Kererū, Book 1 by Susan G. Smith