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

The Iron Way: A Narrative of Crisis by John Solomon Bain

Some books entertain, and some make you think about something in a new way.

Some resonate, inject the mind with a bit of the truth that you never would have been gifted with, had you not read that book. And this is a very individual thing; a given book might be life-changing for me, but leave you wondering what the fuss is all about.

John Solomon Bain’s The Iron Way: A Narrative of Crisis resonated with me. Before I get into it, it’s important to note that Bain has recently read my book Sanity, and engaged with it at Man With a Purpose. As he said there:

Note: this is not a review. I don’t write reviews. This is a response. I don’t bother writing about books that aren’t worth reading.

I like the way he puts it. This, too, is not a review, but a response.

The Iron Way depicts a man, today, here in Current Year America, a man with the proverbial Wonderful Life. Material abundance, a good and loving wife, children, health. Yet, like many of us (for this is me, too) he has the feeling that:

[T]hings are not quite how they ought to be. But ultimately I am powerless to change the cosmic tide. The world is broken, and has been since the days of our sire. Even in ancient times you had writers like Hesiod who thought he lived in a fallen time, and looked back into the mists of legend and dreamt of a time when mortals lived freely with the gods.

It is a feeling, then, that men have had for a very long time, perhaps since they became men, as such. And yet, with universal literacy and technological change and the “easy life” we know now, the feeling only seems to have gotten stronger. When necessity and duty and tradition were the powerful principles governing human action there was little time for worry about whether things were as they ought be be, except for aristocratic intellectuals who could read and had time on their hands.

We are all, in effect, intellectuals now.

The narrator of The Iron Way “weep[s] for the stupidity of my existence” even as he drives to his beautiful home and his patient, loving wife, or to his professorship at the university, the work that he desired and strove for so many hours and years to obtain. Yet, at work he cannot really be himself, concealing his truths in conversations with politically correct colleagues. When and where can a man “be himself,” now, hunter, warrior, conqueror, killer? Not at university, almost nowhere in our unisex, equality-obsessed society.

But a man can write. There is one place, still, we’re truly, totally free; in our minds and in the words we write. Perhaps those words are not all for publication, but some of us burn to let the words out, and burn to share some of them, the right ones, with the world. The Iron Way is a book of the banality of modernity, of being a man in a feminizing culture, but at the root it’s a book about writing, the agony and the ecstasy of it.

I sit there, staring numbly at the cursor in the blank document for several minutes, My mind keeps wandering to the game I want to play. I wish I was more driven. I feel and overwhelming need to write that haunts me day and night, and has my entire life. I wake up in the middle of the night with fear of things left unwritten.

I feel the Dionysian spirit for a moment. The room begins to fade from consciousness as I write in a state of feverish madness. Time slips away. As I slide into the act of creation, I approach the Real.

The narrator talks elsewhere about his efforts to live the hard life, living in the woods like Thoreau, lifting heavy weights, but the real hard life, and his purpose, is to write.

There have been many good novels that explore the idiocies of modernity, the cancer of feminism, the crisis of “manhood,” but few have explored the writer, the writing life and why we do what we must do, as well as The Iron Way. There are other themes and nuances that I’ve not touched on here, but enough of writing about a man writing about writing. I invite you to read for yourself.

Inadvertent Hot-Tubbing With Hot Stewardesses: A Tale

I’m all for palate cleansers, so I hereby offer the world this story.

Many years ago, I’m traveling on business and staying at a nice hotel, a cut above where I usually stay in this particular city.

After an evening workout, I shower and am toweling off when I notice a door with a sign that says “Spa.” I open it and there’s a bubbling hot tub, empty. Without much thought, I walk over, get in and relax. I’m used to my athletic club, which has separate facilities for men and women, and this is a nice hotel, right?

I’m just starting to really zen out, floating in that hypnagogic state the hot water and bubbles induce, when I hear a noise behind me, a door opening. I hadn’t really noticed that door.

Three women come in, beautiful women. In bikinis.

They settle in next to each other on the other side of the tub. I play it cool, the bubbles thankfully conceal everything, so to speak. For the first time, I notice a small sign on the wall: “Swim suits required in spa.” Seriously, had not noticed it before.

The three hotties start speaking German, I gather that they’re Lufthansa flight attendants. I know a few words of German. They’re mostly talking about guys. I close my eyes and sink down until my chin is touching the water. I’ll wait them out.

There is no alternative.

They gabble and giggle on and on. I start to get hot. I would definitely be getting out now if they weren’t there. Finally there’s some splashing. I open my eyes to a slit and see three lovely pairs of German buttocks exit the hot tub. They come around behind me and I prepare to spring up and out and into the men’s locker room as soon as possible.

The door doesn’t completely close. There are footsteps coming from behind.

Two beautiful Japanese women come into sight, yeah, I can tell Japanese from Chinese and Korean, okay? One of them, thankfully, goes to the bubbler timing dial and turns it back to 60 minutes. They get in. Unlike the Germans, they look at me and smile. I smile back, nod. I know Japanese like it hot, and like staying in the hot water for a long time…

I remember a Kung Fu episode where David Carradine survives like a week in some kind of prison hot box. I close my eyes and imagine coolness, cool, cool water, iced drinks, glaciers…the Japanese women are JAL stews, I gather. They speak to each other softly. After a long ten minutes or so, one of them says something that I gather translates into, “Look at the time, we gotta go!” I open my eyes just in time to see two lovely Japanese asses leaving the spa. When I hear the door click shut it takes me approximately .5 seconds to get back in the men’s locker room. I’m bright red, and my hands and feet really do look like prunes. There’s no one else around, and I grab a fresh towel and sit on a bench, and laugh. And laugh some more.

After this, I always read the signs.

The End.

 

 

A Good Dose of Reality

My novel Reality has been out on Kindle for a week, and I’ll have the print version posted by tonight. I’m happy to note how many people asked for a hard copy.

The book is a “follow-up” to Sanity–not exactly a sequel, but given the fragmented style of the whole enterprise, I’d say it fits together with the first book like one of those puzzles where various odd shaped pieces of wood combine, with some difficulty, to form a sphere.

The background of the ideas that set this whole thing off is here, from April 2018:

Anyway…as described here I read a tweet where someone asked “Who is going to be the Tom Wolfe of the Dark Enlightenment/Red Pill?” and I’ve been searching for it for awhile to give credit where credit is due, but I think I finally figured out why it couldn’t be found, because the account has been suspended. @TitusAvenged RIP:

Just promised to do this. Been preparing for it all my life, or since I found out Mommy was lying when said girls like “nice boys,” anyway. https://t.co/TH5E5Lf1mZ

— neovictorian23 (@neovictorian23) January 25, 2017

So, it took a year to write a little bitty 68,000 word novel. How did it actually get done? I had some memory tickling me, of Isaac Asimov’s Murder at the ABA, A Puzzle in Four Days and 60 Scenes. I’ve always dreamed about writing something in the style of Illuminatus!, a whole book where the time line is shattered and then scattered, over and over (I think a guy named Joyce got there first). So no, I don’t have an outline. I’m going to write 60 scenes and they’re going to be temporally shuffled, and they’re going to be DE/RP and they’re going to be entertaining as hell.

You’ll have to judge for yourself, how it all turned out.

Book Review: A Moon Full of Stars by Jon Mollison

A Moon Full of Stars (2017)

Good works of art always contain some combination of the expected, and the surprising. Too little of one or the other and the work becomes boring, or incoherent.

One of the charms of Jon Mollison’s novel A Moon Full of Stars is the use of some familiar post-apocalyptic science fiction tropes in the opening, followed by some unexpected twists that show the reader things were not as they seemed. When marauders raid a small, peaceful farming village, two of the young men, Rome and Warsaw, are out hunting and avoid capture–and events are set in motion that will radically change the future history of Earth, and the Moon.

This is the kind of book where much more description of the plot would certainly spoil the surprises, so I’ll leave it at that; but I especially enjoyed the mental power or “psi” aspects of the book, something that I weave into my own fiction.

The fighting/combat scenes are well-done, and the descriptions of “mental combat” are, too. As an admirer of the great E. E. “Doc” Smith’s Lensman series I felt like the author hit just the right notes here.

A Moon Full of Stars is fun, and it satisfies. It contains a few typos which detracted from my reading not at all. It takes a place of honor in the “PulpRev” movement (note: Mollison is included in this PulpRev Sampler) and I heartily recommend it to readers who like action, adventure and pleasant surprises.

Speaking Reality Into Being

“The novella Gulf was quite unusual, for Heinlein or any writer, in its conception and execution. In the November 1948 issue of Astounding Science Fiction a letter had been published critiquing the…November 1949 issue. As editor John Campbell wrote:

“Generally, a desirable, practically attainable idea, suggested in prophecy, has a chance of forcing itself into reality by its very existence. Like, for example, this particular issue of Astounding Science Fiction.”

“By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and all the stars by the breath of His mouth.” Psalms 33:6

“There is nothing mystical about the fact that ideas and words are energies which powerfully affect the physico-chemical base of our time-binding activities.” Alfred Korzybski, The Manhood of Humanity (1921)

We know, or think we know, that “scientists” have “proven” that every “thing” is made of atoms plus those rather ghostly neutrinos plus electromagnetic radiation as photons and what ever else lives in the “particle zoo” but then they get back to the “Singularity” at the Beginning and 1) flat out concede that they know not what came before, 2) refuse to speculate about “Why?” and 3) by the way, the Universe will “end,” if one can call it an end, in a sort of perfection, the Heat Death of perfect entropy, of all energy spread perfectly evenly, ghostly, throughout all of spacetime. Continue reading

Review: Pirates of the Electromagnetic Waves by Fenton Wood

This is the kind of book that having read it makes you feel like you have a fun, exciting secret, and saying too much would give it away and spoil it for those who follow after…

Pirates of the Electromagnetic Waves by Fenton Wood

This is the story of Philo Hergenschmidt. By now, the whole world knows what he did, although many people don’t believe it. This is the story of how he did it. It was compiled from original research, contemporary news accounts, and interviews with the man himself. It ranges from the apocryphal, to the questionable, to the impossible. But every word of it is true.

Sometimes you admire a book for its complexity, its artistry, its craft. Sometimes a book just speaks to you on a deeper level and you hardly notice these things as you’re transported into and through its world.

Pirates of the Electromagnetic Waves transported me, to the days of my boyhood and before, the “Golden Age” and before the Golden Age; the early magazine science fiction, all the way to Hugo Gernsback and Amazing Stories. There are bright young go-getting boys, amateur radio, gadgets and outdoor adventure. Over it all lays a sense of immense freedom, of a mostly distant government and mostly free range parents and a mostly bright, beneficent world.

The world Wood has built at first seems to lie on an alt-history timeline, where elements of the 1950s and 60s (broadcast television, transistor radios, airplanes, mainframe computers) combine with an aesthetic that is more 1920s and 30s: the look, the music, the attitudes. The reader might come to believe that this is because most of the action is set in a town of 20,000 or so in the Virginia mountains, where the people are extremely independent and self-reliant. Yet, when Philo and friends bicycle all the way to the big city, a trip that takes several days, to get parts for the “pirate” radio station that Philo has envisioned, there’s a certain aesthetic there, too. This is not the United States of some slightly altered future past. This is the Yankee Republic.

The plot of Pirates seems simple, on the surface. The  town can’t get FM radio because it’s in a deep mountain valley. Philo loves radio. Philo decides to build a station on a nearby peak so he can broadcast to the whole town. Philo and friends have adventures and learning experiences gathering the parts, building structures and electronic devices and running a station. A prototypical Amazing Story. And yet…by the time we finish this short book we discover there’s much, much more, a whole ‘nother layer, or many, to the history and future of Philo’s world.

Any explicit description of the ending would spoil the surprise, so I’ll say no more about it, but one other intriguing and rather surprising touch in the book is that unlike most Science Boy Scout adventures, in Philo’s world there are events that are, or seem, explicitly “supernatural.” I won’t describe these in detail either. This is the kind of book that having read it makes you feel like you have a fun, exciting secret, and saying too much would give it away and spoil it for those who follow after.

Pirates of the Electromagnetic Waves is imaginative, enjoyable and original. It somehow manages to take the classic plot and tropes of American boyhood amateur radio fiction and Make it Great Again. And I’m happy as hell to report that a sequel titled Five Million Watts is due in a few months. [Edited: Mr. Wood informs me Five Million Watts is due out in two weeks. Splendid!]

Suitable for all humans from eight to 118, and unreservedly recommended!