Monthly Archives: March 2014

What about Ukraine?

It is odd that no one seems very upset about Crimea being stolen from Ukraine by Russia. But it is a country that no one has heard of and it is so far away from the US. Yes, they did take a vote in Crimea to join Russia (under the watchful eye of 20,000 Russian troops not wearing any insignia), but that is not the point at all. If a vote was taken in Maine to join Canada, or in Southern California to join Mexico, would we just shrug our shoulders and say “whatever”? When groups of counties in California and Colorado try to secede and form new states, the news is full of stories and talking heads saying they cannot lawfully do that. But when it comes to foreign aggression, the result is a resounding “Who cares?”

Carlos Santayana said, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Seventy-six years ago, Nazi Germany annexed the Sudetenland, a region of Czechoslovakia where a majority of residents were German. Again, Germany justified the move to protect the German residents against the Czech government, although there was no evidence of any discrimination. Now, I am not comparing Putin and the Russians to Hitler and the Nazis, but the similarity of the situations is startling.

Of course, you don’t have to look that far in the past to see the same thing. In 2008, Putin and Russia invaded and annexed part of the nation of Georgia. It was the same old story. “We must go in to protect our fellow Russians”, even though there was no evidence of harm to them. Where will this end? Will anyone care if all of Ukraine is annexed? What about Moldova? The Baltic States? Poland? Hungary? Eastern Germany? And the list of former Soviet satellites goes on.

My point is not that we should ship 100,000 troops (or any troops) into Ukraine. But when our leadership says Russia is acting out of weakness, or that Putin is acting like a 19th Century leader for whom there is no place among enlightened 21st Century leaders, the specter of their naiveté gives me a sick feeling in my gut. The world is a nasty place. Putin, Kim Jung Un, Mugabe, Khameini, Assad, and Bashir are all 21st Century leaders. You and I can go to Starbucks and have a latte, or sit back and write books about the future, but we cannot allow ourselves to be led by those who do not understand the dangers of the world around us. Let us not be blinded by our disinterest anymore. Martin Niemoeller famously said:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.

An interesting experience

photo-1I saw my books on the shelf at a local bookstore yesterday, and I have to say it was a unique experience. There they sat on the next to bottom shelf, and I wondered how anyone would ever find them among all the other works. I don’t have the name recognition of a major bestselling author (yet). I guess that is the real challenge in the business. But they are there, and I guess I should be happy enough with that.

Two shelves over they had the books for teens, and that area was mobbed with kids looking for something to read and chatting with their friends. Perhaps I need to consider that genre?

The Accord– The NSA on Steroids

Imagine another world where the people lived in abject terror of imminent invasion. And the population of Skee Lotho had good reason to be paranoid. They are descendants of the Nan culture in the Society of Humanity (first seen in The Hive, Dave Brewster Series, book 3), where their race was relegated to indentured servitude to the other fifty races of man. When the Society began to immigrate to our galaxy, some Nan managed to escape and find new homes, including this planet in the Small Magellanic Cloud. Although thousands of generations have come and gone since then, the people of Skee Lotho still carry their dread of the Society in their hearts and souls.

Eventually their technology improved until they were able to develop a satellite defense system. They also developed advanced robotics and decided the best way to insure their safety was to use a human brain (voluntarily of course) as the computer to operate the satellites. Just as our own NSA saw the Internet and just had to take every advantage, the cyborgs also grew in power, their brains freed of the tiny confines of a skull. As each person sacrificed their body for a robotic one, he or she began to loose a tiny bit of what it means to be human, no longer subject to the weakness of anatomy or aging.

Fast forward many more generations and you will find The Accord, a vast society of machines controlling the Magellanic Clouds from their massive constructed planetoids. The elders of The Accord run their planetoids and host millions of younger Friends, who are eager for larger robotic forms to let their brains expand. In order to protect the Nan, the people were herded on board for safekeeping. The least those travelers could do for this protection is help the robots manage the stations, right? As the years continued to pass, The Accord changed. Confident of their superiority to their cargo, they began to enslave the workers and ultimately relegated them to hard labor. And when a person could work no more, the machines would consume them to feed their giant brains.

This is the situation that Dave Brewster must face in The Accord, Book 5 of the Dave Brewster science fiction series, coming very soon in paperback and e-book. I will do a giveaway on Goodreads and Story Cartel, as well as offering introductory pricing. Please look for it, or check out all my works on Join the Adventure!

The Essence of My Writing (So Far)

Remembrances-webIt was quite a revelation when it struck me. Subconsciously, all of my novels have the same theme. The protagonist is just an ordinary person who suddenly finds his circumstance turned totally upside-down, and is thrust into unusual situations that involve incredible danger and evil. Perhaps that is the grist of many book and movie themes, but frankly, I had not recognized the consistency of it in my works until a couple of days ago. It began with my first book, Remembrances, which is not a novel at all. That book was written to help others realize that we are all interconnected spiritually and that the events in our lives are the results of our choices. It also focused heavily on the Will of God (I use the term Tao quite a bit), which is the current in the flow of spirituality, leading us where we need to be. If we go with it, good but at times uncomfortable things will happen to us. If we resist, we will be pummeled by the force of it.

In the sci-fi series, The Dave Brewster Series, an out-of-work accountant finds himself recruited to travel into the future to help mankind expand into the stars. In each book of the series, Dave encounters new and more dangerous forces out there, and must rely on his friends and dumb luck to keep himself alive and the galaxy from destruction. That is, he is led where he needs to be and is successful because he allows himself to be led.

In the fantasy series, The Heartstone Series, a major earthquake unleashes unearthly forces on Bill Marshall’s sheep ranch. He must find the cause of the invasion and stop the bad guys before they destroy Earth or enslave everyone. Once again, a rapid series of events leads him down a path that can ultimately save his family and our planet. He learns to go with the flow of events and ultimately succeeds, although he faces overwhelming challenges.

The series I am working on now is tentatively entitled The Modern Prophet Series. To date, each book is not directly related to the others; they stand on their own. But in each, the hero begins as a normal enough person, but begins to have premonitions or new unusual powers that get the attention of good and evil forces that want to bend those talents to their own bidding. The protagonist must make many choices which could turn out very badly for him and everyone else.

So, what does all of that mean? I suppose it means I have a real need to express how each of us has great talents that we can use to help all of mankind. We may not have a fleet of starships like Dave or the ultimate power in the universe like Bill, but still we can make a difference. That must be why I write this way. I am surprised I did not notice this before. Join the Adventure!

A New Cold War?

Check out the current status in Ukraine here:

It’s hard to believe the Cold War has been over for 25 years. Being a bit older, I grew up in the 50s and 60s during the Cold War. We actually did the drills in elementary school where you would “dug and cover” beneath your desk. Looking back on it, a cheap wood and steel desk would offer little protection against a high-yield thermonuclear blast. But the activity thrust the terrible reality into our little minds. My dad was in the Air Force, and for several years, his job was to fly the technicians to the various missile silos in the West from our base in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Both the USSR and the USA had tens of thousands of missiles and warheads, only a few of which would have been necessary to eliminate all life on Earth. After so much time, it is hard to realize how things could have gotten so far out of control. Well, now we have Ukraine. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, it is troubling to see the Russian Bear exercising its formidable power on another country. The people in every other former Soviet satellite country have to be quaking in their boots. What is it about the Russian psyche, or at least that of Russian leadership, to be so afraid of attack that they needed a number of buffer states to protect the Motherland?

I have two theories. On one hand, Russians have every right to fear intervention. Just look at the history books. Both Adolf Hitler and Napoleon Bonaparte set their sights on Russia. In both cases, it did not turn out so well for the invaders. The other possibility is the desire for Empire. The glory days of Russia include the tales of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great. Most governments and cultures have given up on Empire, but I am not certain Russia has. If they are still of such mind, the future looks very grim for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, all of which used to be under their hegemony.

The one factor I am certain has nothing to do with it is Communism, which never worked in the USSR and continues not to work in China, North Korea and Cuba. Let’s face it. None of those places are Communist. They are autocracies. The folks at the top control everything (what Marx called the Benevolent Dictator, two words that should never be placed together), and mete out the least they can to keep everyone else alive.

I used to work with a factory in Partizanske, Slovakia, part of Soviet Czechoslovakia. I had many meals and meetings with people who lived under the USSR. A Polish production manager once told me why he looked forward to Christmas every year. Each December, every family would be allowed to buy 2 pounds of bananas (from Cuba). That’s it! The rest of the year, there were no bananas. It was a Spartan life, contrasted by the Politburo and their palaces and luxuries.

Enough memories! What do you think is going to happen next? And if Russia moves into Ukraine, what do you think the rest of the world will or should do about it?

It’s Read an E-Book Week. Join the fun!

trainHey everyone, it’s Read an E-Book Week. From today through the end of Saturday, March 9, you can download ridiculously discounted e-book versions of all of my works. That means you can try any (or all) of my novels for about a buck each. If you click on the image to the right, you will be redirected to my Smashwords Author Page where you can check them all out.

Of course, this sale is not limited to my books. Follow the link at the end of this posting to go to Smashwords Official Read an E-Book Catalog of participating works and authors.

I hope many will take advantage of this great opportunity to get your hands on new reading material, no matter what genre you prefer. I thank you in advance for those who choose one of my books. As always, honest and thoughtful reviews are appreciated. Join the Adventure!

Smashwords Official Read an E-Book Catalog