Friday, December 19, 2014

Truck Cab in the Desert: A Photo by Osie Turner

"Truck Cab in the Desert" by Osie Turner (2014)
Abandoned vehicles are a common sight on the backroads of Nevada. This classic truck cab was a great, unexpected find. I found it alongside Nevada State Route 375, also known as the “Extraterrestrial Highway” because of its proximity to Area 51, near the turnoff from US Route 6.  

The remains of this truck were too nondescript for me to identify much about it; I don’t know what type of truck it was, what year it is from, or much else. I would guess that it is from about the 1960s or so, but that is, of course, just a guess.

What I do know is that this rusting old shell has sat there, a short walk off the highway, for so long that it has become a part of the landscape. It was probably used by some rancher back in the day until it stopped running—possibly where it lies today.


I also know that this is not just some lump of slowly decomposing metal; this truck has a story—of that I am certain. How many miles was it driven before it ended up here? Where was it driven to; was it driven around the country or did it spend its entire truck life in the Nevada desert? What arguments transpired inside this very cab? Perhaps someone received their first kiss in the now missing passenger seat? We may never know, but this cab does—and will forever hold its secrets inside it. 

To order a print of this photograph, please go to imagekind.com 

To view more of the author's photography, go to OsieTurner.imagekind.com  

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Mizpah Hotel

Inside the Lady in Red Suite.
A few months ago, I got a full-access tour of the historic Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah, Nevada, and wrote a three page article for Examiner.com about the hotel. It would be redundant to go over the same info again here, so I will post a link to the article at the end of this post. The purpose of this post is to show some of the photos and share some of my personal observations that didn’t fit in with the previous article.

As you could probably guess, since the hotel is well over one hundred years old, it is said to be home to a few ghosts. The Lady in Red, the ghost of Senator Pittman, and some impish children are some of the resident spirits of the old hotel.

One oddity that I noticed was that my camera had a hard time focusing in certain areas of the hotel. Specifically, the shots taken in the basement and on the 3rd floor of the hotel all came out strangely blurry. No apparitions or anything like that, but the photos were atypically blurry, sort of like an Orton-ish effect, in those areas—in a way that the camera has never done before or since or anywhere else. Also, the camera’s battery was completely drained during the visit--again, something that is unusual, but not necessarily paranormal. Besides that, I can say that the hotel certainly has a unique, antiquated atmosphere. Not in a bad way, but it does “feel” like it is haunted.


The hotel’s normally off-limits basement was every bit as creepy as you would expect it to be. Here are some of the photos I took there:

This is a doorway to one of the many hallways in the basement. Some of the older areas lie behind it.


This is actually a ladder to nowhere.

Some areas have not been renovated. It looks like there is a passageway behind the rubble.

This is not really a mine, but there used to be a replica of an old mine in the basement that has not been used in decades. Management hopes to one day restore this area for guests to visit again.

This is a mannequin that the hotel staff dressed up as the Lady in Red. It was moved to the basement after guests complained about it being too weird. The staff put the plastic bag over its head because the mannequin made them uncomfortable as well--esp. after she took up residence in the basement storage area.

This is another old area being used for storage. I would not want to be in this room alone at night. Even during the day, it is pitch black when the lights are off, due to it being underground. 

This is directly underneath the stairs to the front door of the hotel. It is one of the oldest parts of the hotel.

The front of the hotel in black and white, just for the fun of it.

For more information on the Mizpah Hotel, its history, and the ghosts said to live there, please read my original article for Examiner.com:




Each page has its own set of photos for your viewing pleasure!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Alma Newton: The Romantic Mystic

This collection contains the bulk of Alma Newton’s work, as well as the only biography available for the obscure author. Newton wrote mystic fiction, with a touch of romanticism. Her style is particularly unique; all of her strange stories have dream-like quality that treads the borderlands between reality and the ethereal. The collection concludes with the only biography ever written about the life of Alma Newton; the biography includes rare photographs.

Approx. 388 pages, or 103,315 words long.

Available at AmazonNook, and Kobo. Or download it directly from us on Payhip.com. No matter where you buy it, the price is $1.49.







Table of Contents:

Introduction

Memories

The Blue String and Other Sketches

A Jewel in the Sand

Dreaming True

Shadows

The Contrasts of Life

Algernon Blackwood, Nature Mystic

Alma Newton: The Life of the Romantic Mystic

Bibliography

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Burned Alive at the Stake

While doing research for an upcoming bio-anthology—which will be hitting the shelves of The Forlorn Press soon—I stumbled upon an interesting article. I was browsing through newspaper stories for the Tensas Parish region of Louisiana from the 1890s when a title caught my eye, Burned Alive at the Stake. The article was completely unrelated to what I was searching for, but with a header like that I just had to read it anyway. Did I mention I’m a huge fan of True Crime and criminal history?

The article turned out to be fairly short—I’ve transcribed it in full at the end of this post—but I was not disappointed. The gist of it was this: a local woman was sent out on an errand by her employer and never returned. A search ensued, and her mutilated body was found; a “tramp” was suspected of murdering her and summarily hunted down. Upon confessing, as the headline states, the tramp was burned alive while tied to a tree.

I found a few things interesting about this newspaper article. The first thing that came immediately to my mind was the juxtaposition of how much society has changed in the last century (the article was from 1896). It made me contemplate the role of mob justice in society and question the role of our current justice system. It is important for there to be a system in place to determine that the accused is guilty of the crime before punishment is carried out. However, there are always flaws in such systems, and loopholes are exploited, resulting in criminals being released on technicalities. Also, even if one is convicted of murder and sentenced to death, in our time that generally means that they will sit on death row for decades awaiting their appeals to be exhausted before the sentence is carried out. The appeal of mob justice is that criminals, at least perceived criminals, are punished immediately and usually brutally. There is an undeniable sense of justice when the perpetrator meets such an end—so long as they actually are guilty. This also sends a very real message to other would-be perpetrators.

I enjoy the little snippets of daily life I encounter when doing research; this particular article is unique as these types of things didn’t happen too frequently. Perhaps because savage murders didn’t occur very often, and before mass communication most murders of this sort would not be known outside of the immediate area that they took place in, explains why people reacted so passionately to this crime. Maybe we are so accustomed to brutal crimes nowadays that it simply takes much more to disturb us.

This story also made me nostalgic, for lack of a better word. What was it like that day? This event took place in August, in a small town close to the Mississippi River, in Louisiana. It was most likely hot and humid; there was no A/C, and the only thing to combat the heat would have been a handheld fan. It was a Wednesday. Did the tramp plan on killing the woman, or was it a crime of opportunity? Was this a random act, or did the tramp (or the real killer if he wasn’t) know the woman? Was this a forced confession of a man in the wrong place at the wrong time, or did the town catch a possible serial killer that may have done the same to other women in different towns? We will never know.

I only realized while writing this post that the date of this crime, August 5, is my son’s birthday. He will be one this year, which will be exactly 118 years after this fateful day so long ago. Weird.

The following is the complete news article as originally published on page 1 of The Washington Post on Aug. 6 1896:



BURNED ALIVE AT THE STAKE.
------------
White Tramp Quickly Punished After Assaulting a Louisiana Woman

St. Joseph, La., Aug 5.— Some days ago a respectable white woman, employed as a domestic in a prominent family on the boarder of Franklin Parish, was sent across Tensas River on an errand, and failing to return in proper time, the family became alarmed, and sent parties in search of her. The searching party, after several hours, found the dead and horribly mutilated body of the woman in the woods partially concealed by brush.

The most intense excitement followed the discovery, and in a short while the whole section was aroused and in the saddle. Suspicion pointed to a white tramp, who had been seen near there. Dogs were used, and in a few hours the tramp was run down. He confessed that he had outraged the woman and then murdered her. The crowd bound the wretch, staked him to the nearest tree, and, after burning his body and riddling it with bullets, quietly dispersed.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Occult Detectives

This anthology contains some of the best early occult detective fiction from the best late Victorian and Edwardian era authors. Join such illustrious paranormal investigators as John Silence, Carnacki the Ghost-Finder, Flaxman Low, and Jules de Grandin on their adventures into the supernatural and beyond.



The collection is $2.99 and is available on Kindle, Amazon UK, Nook, and Kobo. If you prefer, you can also buy directly from us via Payhip in all formats (.mobi, epub, and pdf).


Approx. 820 pages or 248,874 words long. 

As with all ebooks from The Forlorn Press, Occult Detectives contains a clickable table of contents.





Table of Contents:

Part 1:  John Silence, Physician Extraordinary

1. A Psychical Invasion
2. Ancient Sorceries
3. The Nemesis of Fire
4. Secret Worship
5. The Camp of the Dog
6. A Victim of Higher Space

Part 2: Carnacki the Ghost-Finder

1. The Gateway of The Monster
2. The House Among The Laurels
3. The Whistling Room
4. The Horse of The Invisible
5. The Searcher of The End House
6. The Thing Invisible
7. The Hog
8. The Haunted Jarvee
9. The Find
10. Goddess of Death

Part 3: Flaxman Low, Occult Psychologist

1. The Story of the Spaniards, Hammersmith
2. The Story of the Moor Road
3. The Story of Baelbrow
4. The Story of the Yand Manor House
5. The Story of Seven Halls
6. The Story of Saddler's Croft
7. The Story of Konnor Old House

Part 4: Pledged to the Dead—A Story of Jules de Grandin by Seabury Quinn
                                                                                                         
Appendix: Blackwood and the Occult

13 Ghost Stories

This collection consists of thirteen stories by some of the best authors of speculative fiction. While they all feature ghosts, these are not traditional ghost stories. These tales are all unique and will stay with you long after you read them.

The anthology contains a biography of Oliver Onions, the author of “The Beckoning Fair One.” There are also some annotations within the book with additional information pertinent to the stories.

The collection is $1.49 and is currently available on KindleAmazon UKNook, and Kobo.  If you prefer, you can also buy directly from us via Payhip in all formats (.mobi, epub, and pdf). It is even available in the Google Play Bookstore for any and all Android devices!

Approx. 305 pages or 88,487 words long. 


As with all ebooks from The Forlorn Press, 13 Ghost Stories contains a clickable table of contents.


Table of Contents:

The Attic by Algernon Blackwood

Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad by M.R. James

A Ghost by Guy de Maupassant

The Upper Berth by F. Marion Crawford

Bone to His Bone by E.G Swain

The Beckoning Fair One by Oliver Onions

The Signal-Man by Charles Dickens

Christmas Eve on a Haunted Hulk by Frank Cowper

The Ghosts by Lord Dunsany

The Haunted and the Haunters, or the House and the Brain by Edward Bulwer-Lytton

In The Tube by E.F. Benson

The Toll-House by W.W. Jacobs

The Listeners by Walter de la Mare


Appendix: The Life of Oliver Onions by Osie Turner

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Clayton Disinfector

A rare photo of the Clayton fumigating a house in 1914.
The Clayton Disinfector was a fumigation device used to combat plague and other diseases spread by rats and insects in the early 20th century. The device emitted sulfur-polyoxide gas, usually diluted to 10-12%. The Clayton worked by burning sulfur in the apparatus and blowing the gas through the fumigation tubes.  The gas passed through a device that cooled the gas before entering the area being fumigated. The gas was left for about eight to twelve hours before being removed. One pound of sulfur could be used to fumigate 400 cubic feet.

The gas was effective against bubonic plague spores, cholera, and typhoid. In small doses, the gas actually worked as a preservative for meat and was not harmful to other food items, with the exception of fruits and vegetables and any type of liquid.

The Clayton Disinfectors were used to disinfect cargo ships to ensure that they did not transport diseases from port to port. They were also used in hospitals and any other infested building. Additionally, the Clayton was used in sewers and drains to kill off rat populations.

When used in ships, the apparatus would be fastened to a small tugboat that could be brought close to the larger ship and the fumigation tubes thrown onboard. For buildings, it was attached to a cart that made for easy transportation of the device.

It could only be used in confined places, as open areas would not be able to hold the gas for the needed time to kill the infestation. Despite this, the Clayton Disinfector had many uses and was one of the best extermination systems available at the time.


For more information on the Clayton Disinfector see:



An illustration of the Clayton fumigating a cargo ship.


Another illustration of the Clayton in action.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Saint Therese Mission

I recently heard about a new Catholic mission being built somewhere outside Pahrump. It caught my interest, as this mission was rumored to have relics of a saint, as well as an impressive new cemetery. I looked into it and had the opportunity to meet with Randy Dizon, whose family owns and operates the St. Therese Mission of Old Spanish Trail.

As it turns out, the mission has an office in Henderson, which is where I met Randy, the president of the Dizon family owned Magnificat Ventures Corporation. (Both Magnificant Ventures and the non-profit mission are owned and operated by the Dizon family.) The mission itself lies just over the California border on the Tecopa turnoff from the SR 160 (it is about eight miles from the intersection.) While I would like to see the mission, I thought it best to meet up with Randy at his office and get the background information before making the pilgrimage.

Randy says that the mission’s aim is to make it into a place that is as much for the living as for the dead. While St. Therese Mission is the only Catholic cemetery in the Las Vegas area, it is much more than just a graveyard. A visitor center is planned for the complex that will host everything from art exhibits to concerts. A playground for the children and a dog run are also in the works.

St. Therese was chosen as the patron saint of the mission because of the deep connection the Dizon family feels with her. It all began when the family matriarch prayed to St. Therese to help her choose her husband. It was revealed to her that the sign to look for was white roses. Soon after, she received her sign when one of her suitors stopped to get her flowers on his way to meet her. However, the flower shop had already run out of red roses. They had only white, so her future husband Rafael bought them and gave them to her. The rest is history.

Later, the father had colon cancer and had a section of his colon removed. He had complications and almost died, but survived.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux was a French Carmelite nun and Doctor of the Church, who is known for her philosophy of the “Little Flowers.” Her emphasis was on small works instead of great deeds. It is this simplicity that makes her one of the most popular and relatable Catholic saints in the world. She is also one of the most recent, having lived in the late 19th century.

The mission is planning to have a relic of St. Therese installed once the diocese approves it. The parents of the saint are also in the process of being canonized, and the mission will have some of their relics installed as well.

Being on the Old Spanish Trail, the Dizons feel that St. Therese Mission has a connection to the Spanish missions of the southwest. The architect, Dr. Bob Fielden, modelled the mission off of the Mission San Xavier del Bac in Arizona. The Dizons are planning to have a café on site, O! Bistro, that will serve Spanish colonial dishes made from produce grown at the mission. The chapel at St. Therese Mission holds regular services every Sunday morning. They also have special services for holidays and are available for special events such as weddings and funerals. They are under the Diocese of Fresno.

In lieu of the traditional model, the St. Therese Mission cemetery is actually a series of columbaria, or small alcoves for the permanent internment of cinerary urns. They have both indoor and outdoor options and offer family plots for up to 25 people. The family plots are outdoors in a garden setting and surround a beautiful statue of Saint Therese. The indoor mausoleum features an ornate statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe. There are two additional buildings and more outdoor plots planned for the future, to be opened as the current spaces fill up. They are also one of the only family owned cemeteries in Southern Nevada. Although it is a Catholic cemetery, anyone can choose to be interned there regardless of their religious affiliations.

There are three entities involved in the operation of the complex—the diocese which operates the chapel; the cemetery which is owned by a separate company (Magnificat Ventures Corporation); and the non-profit organization St. Therese Mission that operates the rest of the complex. Essentially, the sales from the cemetery fund the rest of the mission.

The entire mission complex aims to be as environmentally friendly as possible. All of the trees and shrubbery are desert-friendly and use minimal water. Solar paneling is planned to be installed on the roof of the chapel.

The mission has a sister church, The Shrine of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, in Manila in the Philippines, where the organization began. The Shrine is one of the largest buildings in Manila and one of the first buildings you will see when landing in the airport due to their close proximity.

The location of the mission is an interesting coincidence.  When driving to the mission from Las Vegas or Pahrump, one must pass by the site of the now forgotten Cathedral Canyon (of which I have written about before). The St. Therese Mission is only about three miles away from the canyon, in fact.

The wild, desolate landscape inspires introversion and self-reflection. It gives one the feeling of kinship with the Desert Fathers and Desert Mothers of the Egyptian deserts in the early years of Christianity. The biblical prophets and Jesus himself spent extended periods in deserts just like this one. Even the Islamic visitor may feel a sense of connection with the desert of which their Prophet was born to. If nothing else, there is an undeniable sacredness to this part of the desert.

I have not made the journey out to see the mission yet, but I do plan to do so in the near future. I will undoubtedly write a follow up with pictures once I do. Even though I am not a Christian, I do have a penchant for religious imagery, and I feel that the Dizon family is doing something special out there.



The mission's exact location can be found HERE

The mission's official webpage is: sttheresemission.com

The official webpage for the location in the Philipines is: therese.ph


***There is an HIV center in Las Vegas that also bears St. Therese’s name. They are not affiliated with the mission. St. Therese is the patron saint of HIV/AIDS, so it is not surprising that she would be the saint the HIV center would take their name from.***

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Amok: An Anthology of Asia-Pacific Speculative Fiction

I had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of the upcoming anthology, Amok: An Anthology of Asia-Pacific Speculative Fiction, and I must say that I am impressed. Amok presented with a great lineup of strange stories, all of which push the limits of the imagination (as all good speculative fiction should.) Also, many of the tales incorporated native folkloric and mythological elements into them—a detail I particularly enjoyed.

Amok consists of 24 short stories, all set in Asia and the Pacific Islands, and all are in the speculative fiction genre. The editor, Dominica Malcolm, says in the introduction that she sought to have a diverse cast of characters in the anthology, and she has delivered. Each of the stories is unique and distinct from one another.
                                   
I noticed that many of the stories feature an impending natural disaster. Perhaps this is because of the nature of island life or coastal areas where tsunamis are a real threat. I imagine that the 2004 tsunami that devastated Indonesia is not forgotten and continues to lurk in the back of the mind of authors in the region.

The last four stories of the anthology are, in my opinion, the best of the collection.

Agnes Ong’s “The Seventh Month” takes the reader into the gritty world of a Malaysian gangster. The story takes place during the “Ghost Festival” that falls during the seventh month of the lunar calendar, a time when spirits are believed to wander the streets at night.

In Rebecca Freeman’s “And Then It Rained” a young woman must survive as well as care for her little brother in a post-apocalyptic Australia reminiscent of Mad Max. It is most certainly not a knock off, though, as Freeman’s world feels much more realistic, and the characters have a much greater depth than those in the movies. I would love to see this one turned into a full length novel.

NJ Magas’ “Where the Fireflies Go” is a superb tale of ancient Japanese mythological beings battling to survive in the modern world. The ceramic creatures that appear only as outdated statues akin to garden gnomes are in actuality guardian spirits dedicated to protect the home of whoever owns them. After the old man who cared for them dies, his estate is scheduled to be bulldozed, but worse than that, a “bone demon” is making its way from the cemetery to eat the body of their dead master. This is easily one of the best stories in the anthology.

Tom Barlow’s “The King of Flotsamland” takes place on a garbage island in the Pacific Ocean. A lone man has been stationed on it to protect the trash from a corporation that plans to harvest the entire island for profit. A faceoff ensues and the protagonist slowly realizes that this trash heap is the only place he has ever really called home.

A few of the other stories are definitely deserving of individual mention as well. These are some of my other favorites:

Jax Goss’ “Love and Statues” is a great, albeit very short, story that captures some of the romanticism of poet Robert Burns, whose statue plays an important role in the tale. A young man sits in a garden at night to see for himself if the statues come to life at night, like the exchange student he had a crush on told him.  

Terence Toh’s “Bright Student” is another of my favorites from the collection. A student makes a deal with a mystical shop-owner in order to get an elixir that will make her excel at school, and all he wants in return is her shadow.

In KZ Morano’s “Kitsune”, a small town boy makes the mistake of moving to the big city with his were-fox/vampiric girlfriend. Unfortunately, she doesn’t take to the change of scenery well.

Fadzlishah Johanabas’ “In Memoriam” is the saddest story in the book. In the near future a mother wants to forget the car accident that took her son away. But in order to do so she will have to forget more than just the accident, much more.

All in all, Amok was an interesting read that I would recommend. It should be hitting the shelves by April 30, 2014, so keep an eye out for it.


For the complete table of contents and current status, you can check out the publisher’s webpage at Solarwyrm Press.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ringmakers of Saturn by Norman Bergrun

After a few years of wanting to read this book, I finally got my hands on a copy. I have no background in astronomy or ufology but still find the basic premise of this book very intriguing—namely that the rings of Saturn are not naturally occurring but are in fact “made” by giant vehicles.

In this short book, Dr. Bergrun details NASA photos from the Voyager 1 flight that he believes prove the existence of these enormous machines. He begins with a brief history of our observations of the rings, beginning with Galileo and working his way into the 19th century. The author uses these early findings to begin building his case.

Dr. Bergrun believes that these machines are electromagnetic vehicles, or EMVs as he calls them. Exactly what their purpose is (or was) is not made clear, but their size and features are detailed—very big (they are cylindrical and up to 3 or 4 times the diameter of the Earth long) and possibly very old (Dr. Bergrun suggest that they could be as much as 3 or 4 billion years old.) Some of the plates in the book offer interpretations of what they might look like.

The author believes that the infamous Tunguska catastrophe of 1908 was the result of one of these EMVs getting too close to Earth. He also attributes the creation of Mare Orientale area of the moon to be a burn mark left by one of these EMVs.

The book is somewhat technical, but I felt that it was still very approachable to the average reader.

Then there is the big question: do I believe Dr. Bergrun’s theory? For the most part, the answer is yes. I think there certainly could be something to it because he makes a pretty good case for the existence of these vehicles, and photographs make for great selling points. However, I found it hard to see what I was supposed to be seeing in some of the photos. Maybe that is due to my unfamiliarity with NASA photos, but in a few of them I just didn’t see what Dr. Bergrun saw. All of the photos are labeled, and the author did insert markings to point out the objects and important features within them though. There are some very compelling photos as well—these make for strong evidence in Dr. Bergrun’s favor.

I think it would be a mistake to write off the contents of this book as the ravings of a wacko because Dr. Bergrun is anything but. His background and education are impeccable. He was part of NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics), the organization that later became NASA, among a long list of other things. His achievements are so impressive it is worth quoting from his website at length:

Norman Bergrun is an alumnus of Ames Research Laboratory, NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) predecessor of Ames Research Center, NASA where he worked twelve years as a research scientist. At Ames, he pioneered the setting of design criteria for airplane thermal ice-prevention and the developing of roll stability laws for airplanes, missiles and rockets.
 He joined Lockheed Missiles and Space Company (now Lockheed Martin) where he was manager of the planning and analysis of flight tests for the Navy Polaris Underwater Launch Missile System. During his thirteen years at Lockheed, he also served as a senior scientist having responsible analysis cognizance of special space-satellite applications. After a short tour of duty with Nielsen Engineering and Research, in 1971 he founded Bergrun Engineering and Research, parent of Bergrun Research founded in 1999 especially for world wide web activities.
 An Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronauics (AIAA), he is active as a leader in Congressional Visits Day events on Capitol Hill. As Deputy Director-at-Large for the AIAA western region, he overlooks section activities in seven western states. Other memberships include The Planetary Society, The Association for the Advancement of Science, The Aviation Hall of Fame, the National Society of Professional Engineers, the Federation of American Scientists and the Scientific Faculty, International Biographical Centre, Cambridge, England.
 Bergrun holds a BSME degree from Cornell University, an LLB from LaSalle University Extension, a DSc (Hon) from World University and a California Professional Engineer (PE) License. He also has engaged in graduate aerospace studies at Stanford University. He is a founder of the California Society of Professional Engineers Education Foundation, is author of two books Tomorrow's Technology Today and Ringmakers of Saturn and has published over 100 papers. Two recent manuscripts, Lunar Life Forms: Revelations of Apollo 14 and Mars Puts on a Good Face: The Masquerade, have been registered with the Library of Congress, Washington, D. C. He has lectured in the United States, Canada, England and Europe.
 Credited with numerous awards and citations including the California Society of Professional Engineers Archimedes Engineering Achievement Award, and Special Service Citations for contributions to the AIAA National Public Policy and to the Regional Sections Activity Committees, he is listed in Marquis "Who's Who in the World", "Who's Who in America", "Who's Who in Science and Engineering", and other reference works.
 Continuing interests include photography, NASA student activities and music, having played as a concert musician at Carnegie Hall with the Cornell University Band and having been a founder of "Aurora Singers", a 64-voice choir.


All in all, this book raises some important questions and will definitely make one think. If these EMVs are real, then where did they come from? What is their purpose? Dr. Bergrun points out that these massive, powerful vehicles could easily obliterate life on our planet, either intentionally or by accident; this is why he begins and ends this book with a plea for world peace and unity. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Allusions of Innocence

 
I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy of the upcoming anthology Allusion of Innocence from Solarwyrm Press, and I am very glad that I did. It contained a great selection of short stories, 18 in all, each one very different from the others, but all of them relating to children and childhood themes.

Although it deals with children, the collection is intended for an adult audience. There is nothing YA about this one. Some of the stories deal with the supernatural, others are more psychological, and nearly all of them are dark in nature.

The editors did a fantastic job of selecting not only stories that deal with the anthology’s theme, but also choosing a cast of diverse authors. Many of the stories are set in and written by writers from different cultures from around the world. This brings a wonderful flavor to each story; one gets an idea of what life is like in different countries. In a way, it is a great sampling of world literature.

Like any anthology, some of the selections may be more to one’s liking than others. There were a few in this one that I really didn’t understand. Not that they were poorly written, they were just not my thing.

I must admit that at first I wasn’t sure what to make of Recle E. Vibal’s “White Hairs”, but by the end it all came together in a very surprising and shocking way. This is one of my favorites from the entire collection.

Perhaps one of the most disturbing of the stories was “The Cycle of Rebirth” by Mona Opubor. In this one we learn how the concept of reincarnation can be misunderstood when a mentally unstable daughter is taken to India by her father. He probably should have given her her meds…

 “Pulp Adventure”, by Laird Long, is another of my favorites here. An overly serious teenager finds himself transported into an entirely new realm when he stumbles upon his grandfather’s trunk of vintage pulp fiction magazines.

Scathe meic Beorh’s “The Street Game” was another that I really enjoyed reading; however, I feel that this one should have been longer. It seemed to end right when it had me hooked. I think this would be a good beginning chapter of a novel.

“Run Like a girl” by M. Kate Allen is unique in that the roles of the characters are quite different from what you would normally expect. The nerdy girl is the better athlete than (and sort of a bully towards) the jock protagonist. A solid feminist short story.

“The Lying, the Snitch, and the Wardrobe” by Steve Ward is a great mix of psychological horror and gore, with a pinch of the supernatural. By the end, one has to wonder how much of it was real and how much was only the delusion of a twisted mind.

The collection concludes with “The Christmas Dragon” by Tom Trumpinski, a perfect choice. This tale has all the magic of childhood in it, as well as an accurate portrayal of life in medieval times.

It should be noted that there are two stories within this book (“Dolls” by Drake Vaughn and “Monster” by Terence Toh) that have or allude to childhood sexual abuse. If that is a trigger for you, or just a subject you’d rather not read about (neither of them have anything graphic), then you will probably want to skip these two.

In all honesty, this collection exceeded my expectations. All of the stories are well-written and I enjoyed reading them.


Check the publisher’s website, Solarwyrm.com, for updates and the release date (which should be late March or April). You can find the full table of contents for the anthology here: Allusions of Innocence

Monday, February 10, 2014

Vasilyev’s "Reaper"

"Reaper" by Konstantin Vasilyev
In Konstantin Alexeyevich Vasilyev’s painting, simply titled “Reaper” ("Жница"), we find a very unique blend of imagery. “Death and the Maiden” is a long established theme, particularly favored by Scandinavian artists. The maiden is, naturally, a young woman; she is representative of life, whereas death is either a skeleton, Grim Reaper, or just a very old man. Vasilyev has blended both of them into one person in this painting. The maiden has become death as well as life—a profound statement.

When one thinks of death, the image of a dark, cloaked, icy figure is likely to come to mind. Here we find just the opposite. Vasilyev’s Reaper is a young, blond woman with piercing eyes resting against a tree, sickle in hand. While she appears nonthreatening, it is her eyes which give the viewer a hint of her true identity. Her expression lies somewhere between fierce and indifferent; do not let her beauty fool you, to know her is to die.

While her stance at first seems relaxed, a closer look reveals that this is not the case. The Reaper is actually poised for the attack, perhaps playing coy to draw the unsuspecting victim closer or to disarm them. She could easily and at any moment swing her sickle around the tree, reaping yet another soul. Her index finger grazes the blade, perhaps in anticipation.

Another symbol worked into the background is the either setting or rising crescent moon. The crescent moon is the symbol of Artemis, the ancient goddess of the hunt. Artemis, particularly in her Roman form of Diana, is deeply connected to pagan worship and witchcraft. This is not surprising as this artist frequently portrayed pagan themes in his work, especially of females. Vasilyev usually preferred Nordic imagery, however. It is not hard to imagine how his Reaper could easily be refashioned into a Valkyrie. In fact, the Reaper looks quite similar to Vasilyev's painting "Valkyrie" ("Валькирия")

"Valkyrie" by Konstantin Vasilyev

Artemis is usually associated with forests, but in this piece we once more find a mixture. Vasilyev’s Reaper hugs a lone tree, maybe on the cusp of the tree-line where the fields end and the forest begins. This is very appropriate, as death is the guide from one state of being into another. One could also interpret it as the field representing normal, orderly life, and the tree representing the wild and unknown after-life.


No matter how one takes it, Vasilyev’s “Reaper” is a striking, intriguing, and beautiful work of art. Vasilyev was a unique artist with an extraordinary (and sometimes curious) vision. Do not be surprised to see more of his work examined on this blog! 

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Feminist Sci-Fi: An Anthology

Few realize that women played a pivotal role in the development of science fiction. Even fewer know that feminist science fiction became popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This collection contains a broad spectrum of this genre, many of which have been all but forgotten. Ten novels and short stories and two appendices round out this volume.

The anthology is $1.49 and available on AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Kobo.  If you prefer, you can also buy directly from us via Payhip in all formats (.mobi, epub, and pdf).


Approx. 785 pages or 231,813 words long. 


As with all ebooks from The Forlorn Press, Feminist Sci-Fi contains a clickable table of contents.




Table of Contents:

Herland By Charlotte Perkins Stetson Gilman

Sultana’s Dream By Rokheya Shekhawat Hossein

Mizora: A Prophecy By Mary E. Bradley

Man's Rights By Annie Denton Cridge

Friend Island By Francis Stevens

Three Hundred Years Hence By Mary Griffith

A Wife Manufactured to Order By Alice W. Fuller

Unveiling a Parallel By Alice Ilgenfriz Jones and Ella Merchant

A Dream of the Twenty-First Century By Winnifred Harper Cooley

The Republic of the Future By Anna Bowman Dodd

Appendix 1: Biographical Sketches of the Authors

Appendix 2: Other Notable Female Science Fiction Authors