Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Supervolcano On The Verge

Writers are excited when some stuff in the fiction they write comes true and alive. Let’s hope this one doesn’t; because the beast that would rear its deadly head here is Yellowstone, the Supervolcano.

In After the Cataclysm, my fictional protagonists struggle to survive a decimated North American continent after the vast caldron of Yellowstone has blown its top. Makes for an exciting story.

Long foretold, the threat, alas, is all too real in our time. Just as with the threat from outer space, scientists, however, are working hard on how to save us from extinction; which is funny (well, not really at all) because on the other hand, the minds of little people plot annihilation.

I just came across this article in Mach/Environment:
Scientists Hatch Bold Plan to save Planet from Supervolcano,
by Kate Baggaley.
 Aerial view, Grand Prismatic Spring, Midway Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. Peter Adams / 
Getty Images

Not to scare you, but it’s worth reading.
Worth reading–for entertainment value and to remind ourselves that “it could happen”- I hope is After the Cataclysm. Please, check it out.

Friday, September 1, 2017

My Review of "The Confessions of Socrates"

 A Sparkling Linguistic Diamond

   While The Confessions of Socrates by R. L. Prendergast was only categorized under “Biographical,” this gem deserves much broader recognition in different categories. Of course it is fiction; but what brilliant and well-researched Historical Fiction it is.

Socrates languishes in a stinking prison cell awaiting execution: death by drinking hemlock. Having been given a 28-day reprieve (not by his vile accusers or the Council of Five Hundred, but due to the observation of a festival period), he scribbles an account of his life on scrolls smuggled in by a kind jailer. In it, he reveals himself to his sons (and to the reader) not as the haughty Greek philosopher we have come to believe he was, but as a fallible human being. His humble beginnings as a stonemason surprised me (bringing into focus the book’s cover: even a hard block of stone cannot suppress new life sprouting from it).

I never knew Socrates was drafted into several military campaigns – albeit without much enthusiasm on his part. He is an outwardly gruff sort of man, but his long internal struggles with himself and toward his family, friends and foes at last expose him as quite vulnerable and deeply caring; not that he admitted this to anyone until the end of his life.

The author injects conversations and philosophical arguments as they might have taken place during those heady days of Athenian dominance; not an easy read, mind you, but so well executed I never skipped a single paragraph. What a joy to read such brilliant and intelligent use of language. While this novel is a literary gem, it is by no means devoid of action, intrigue, and surprises with plenty human fallacies and insights.

I also appreciated the appended glossary of Greek names, places and gods. It made me realize those times were real, as were most of the people, their beliefs, continual wars and personal struggles. Having buried myself too long perhaps in the hot sands of Ancient Egypt, I am ashamed to say that the little I knew about Ancient Greece I had almost forgotten. I am now inspired to re-acquaint myself with another great ancient civilization, alas also brought to its knees by Man’s forever impetus to wage war.

For me, The Confessions of Socrates was indeed a Discovered Diamond. I shall heartily recommend it for this honor on Helen Hollick's Discovering Diamonds Review Blog - (where it will be featured around November).

If you hurry,
this 350-page Kindle gem is presently still being 
given away for 99 cents for your enjoyment.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Survivor: and other tales of Old San Francisco - A Discovered Diamond Review


 The Survivor: and other tales of Old San Francisco by Steve Bartholomew

An Easy Read, but Not an Easy Life

This 141-page selection of short stories about the Old San Francisco (first called Yerba Buena) is an easy read.
In a conversational style, Bartholomew’s main character tells the reader interesting aspects about the growing pains and tragedies of this great American city. His often self-effacing accounts about his own success and life in the emerging West are interlaced with dry wit and a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor.

It makes for a pleasant time spent, and whether or not there are a few liberties with the facts is irrelevant. Each of these entertaining short stories can stand alone, but the recurring characters of Hiram Courtenay and his wife Lisbeth provide continuity, and I grew quite fond of the intrepid pair as they endured fires, loss and social upheaval around them.

Indeed Hiram, although a successful businessman, can be found reaching out to those less fortunate, providing them not only with counsel but a helping hand. He owns warehouses along the docks and sees first-hand those huddled and befuddled immigrants being disgorged from the bowels of arriving clipper ships. He and his wife are quick to ask them to their home and to provide a meal.

I am still grateful I didn’t live then and there.

Definitely worth a read for those interested in life in the Old West, and in San Francisco’s past in particular.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Solar Eclipse Savings

 To Celebrate the Solar Eclipse,

The Devil Wind of The Nile

is still 50% OFF
all Amazon Sites
and at


Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Sacred Sistrum of Ancient Egypt

In Khamsin, The Devil Wind of The Nile, this ancient instrument is described as being used for worship as well as entertainment.

With expectant stillness at its height, [the High Priest of Ptah] intoned the old sacred chants, his rich baritone echoed by the pure high voices of his temple chantresses. The simple notes of a lonely flute rang out, a harp adding its melodic strings.

Sistrum-players rattled their papyrus stems. The beat quickened. With nothing more than belts around slim waists, the undulating chantresses mesmerized the crowd; it often fell to these lithe servants of the gods to keep the beer-drowsed audience alert.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Jim Bennett's New "Fortress: Poems 6"

At last, Canadian Poet Jim Bennett has published a new poetry book, Fortress: Poems 6. 

I was delighted to receive a copy from the author. Below is my Review of this delightful (and as usual, challenging) volume and I am proud to add his special poetry to his previous five.

 My Review:
After an extended hiatus, we can finally welcome another volume, the sixth, in Jim Bennett’s poetry collection. This one, I felt, was earthier than the previous ones, lusty and even outright sexy. There is also a bit of political tongue-in-cheek, as in ReForms of Intelligence. All encompass Bennett’s usual complexity of thought. Through his mastery, he makes one think, imagine a parallel to one’s own life. He is sly in his choice of words and verse, forcing you to re-read those poems until you get it – sometimes maybe not.
Starting out with Possession, I felt I had gone home again without estrangement of place or time. Silence is brief and profound, whereas Chorus adds a dose of sex; as do several other poems.

The book ends with Fortress of Solitude. To me, a contemplation of a waning life: reflective, sad even, resigned, yet gratified to have been witness to it.

And that is how my first reading of this 70-poem volume left me: Gratified – and most glad that I can add Poems 6 to Bennett’s previous five poetry books on my shelf. But it won’t gather dust there, for the depth and complexity of those poems cry out to be re-read and re-discovered time and again – as they will be for sure.