Category Archives: My Bookshelf ~ Fiction

Fictional works with historical content or speculation and just plain good reads.

Review ~ When the chains of dogma keep us from seeking truthfulness.

The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity, by William Paul Young. Available for $7-18 (movie released this month).

Th Shack

There was such a hullabaloo about the whole thing. There were people excited it was finally going to be on the big screen, as well as people resurrecting the battles over the theology and doctrine portrayed in the original book. As I attempt to do with at least some controversies, I let most of it flow on by. I am, after all, still an avid fan of Oh, God, a movie some evangelicals considered downright blasphemous. I was finally enticed to view the trailer; and I fell instantly in love. I had to have the book, sooner rather than later (and will watch the movie). Every spare moment this week, Kindle in hand, I devoured Young’s tale. Then, I spent a bit of time poking around on the Internet attempting to determine what all the fuss was about. You would have thought the story was a Doctorate Thesis, submitted to the public for vetting. On second thought, maybe it should be. Here is my take on the emotional and spiritual punch, and theological challenge, delivered by this lovely little book.

As a reference point for most of the criticism, I used a fairly prominent Christian blog, www.boundless.org. The article was articulate, and summarized most of the points others were making at various levels of ability and understanding. I found the criticism telling.

First there is the accusation that the story as presented seeks, in many subtle ways, to undermine The Faith. In my opinion, what the author is gently pushing against is the dogmatic doctrine of the church. A structure that believes, somehow, that the interpretations of the early Church Fathers are every bit as holy as the original text penned who knows how many millennia ago. The author points to a particular passage where the character of Jesus states that he is not Christian. Well, as it happens he was not. He was Jewish. Subversion of the “orthodox” view started a couple of millennia ago, I seem to recall the image of Jesus turning over tables in the temple courts.

Since folks like to quote things, let’s look at Proverbs 2:1-5 (ESV). “My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” As far as I can tell, scripture here, and in other places, encourages us to seek insight and understanding – not to accept it as a God-wrapped treasure from those who declare themselves our leaders and sole interpreters of ancient manuscripts.

There is also the issue of how we know God. Many Christians look to scripture as the beginning – and the end – of the discussion. They feel that messages, commands, and admonitions written for people in a different time, different country, and under far different circumstances, should be adhered to without fail today. There are two problems with this approach.

First, it is okay to hold tight to the letter of the law as long as it fits within preconceived notions. Many Christians have problems with the idea of an adulteress being stoned in a Muslim country – and yet that is scripture. Scripture indicates that we should not divorce and that if we do remarry, we are committing adultery. These may sound like old, worn-out arguments, but at the core is this issue: understanding what scripture is trying to impart about the duties of a person that follows the first and foremost command – to love – often comes to blows with modern science, understanding, and culture. The Bible is a living breathing text and should, by all accounts, serve us well whatever the century or however advanced the culture. Look for the message – not the letter – of the law. This is something that The Shack tries to drive home.

And while we’re on the subject, as much as the reader may wish that the Bible was God breathed in every syllable and comma – that is just not a possibility. We do not have access to the original, inspired texts, and we have pushed what we do have through centuries of cultural, personal, and faith driven interpretations. This, of course, it the purpose of the reference to the King James Bible in the book. The challenge to see beyond a specific translation, or interpretation, of scripture and to look for the message that sings the whole way through.

It seems hardly right to devote a short paragraph to the subject of Salvation and what, precisely, it was we see accomplished on the Cross. I keep it short because this is a subject which has been debated since the nascent church began to spread throughout the population of the early Middle East. All the more reason to ponder the thoughts suggested by Young. After centuries of having the hell-fire of sinners pounded into our heads and our souls (a vision we owe more to Dante than the Bible), it is difficult for Christians to see beyond that vision into the conundrum they have created. Simply labeling something a “mystery” is no more than a cop out. We cannot reconcile a loving Creator with an eternal fire – a really eternal fire – for the least of the possible infractions against a code. A code, by the way, we are quick to say was done away with on the cross. If we continue to lock ourselves away in these labyrinths of theological conundrums, we will awaken one day to find we have not done the most important thing we were commanded to do – love. The possibilities discussed by The Shack are thoughts and theories presented by many outstanding scholars within the field. Why would God expect us, no – command us – to forgive whatever the response from the target of our forgiveness – if He was not prepared to do the same?

Oh, and last but certainly not least – how do we portray God? This was a point well brandished in the article I read. According to that author, scripture tells us not to make images of God. Except – scripture does provide images of God and it is those images we defend the most. One is of God as some grandfatherly figure in long robes. And we read that as a white male. When was the last time you saw a portrait of Christ in a church that actually looked like a native of the Middle East? Personally, I was delighted at the portrayal of a functioning, interactive, personification of the multiple aspects of God as defined in scripture – including that of Sophia. I was delighted because that presentation challenges us to break our preconceptions down into the ludicrous assumptions that we defend. Who are we to describe what God would look like as He spoke from the burning bush? Can we really grasp what Daniel, John, or any other author saw in their visions? Would those visions not be based on the people and culture they knew? Do you know without a single doubt, how the Creating force of this universe operates and relates? If The Shack does nothing else – maybe it will break that fragile shell of how we perceive something which we can only grasp in brief and finite thoughts.

Did I agree with everything in the book? Of course not. But I found the story a real attempt to reach people where they are, in the middle of their pain, and carrying years of baggage, some of which they have nothing to do with. One of the most telling bits within the story for me was that Mack never realized that his older daughter blamed herself for the loss of her sister. He was so wrapped up in his own pain, he never thought that someone else may be suffering from the same burden. If you take anything away from this book – know these things. Creation meets us where, and when we are. Our pain is a part of an evolving universe, we are neither the worms beneath our feet, nor lords of the universe. Sharing our pain is how we love one another, and how we help those who also suffer, while healing our own hurt.

Before you attempt to doctrinalize (like that word?) this story into Gahanna – see if you can find some small bit of insight you can work into your own inquiring soul. Or use it to open your eyes to the vast, creative force behind and throughout the universe in which we live.

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A review, and a challenge, by a master

This post is shown in its entirely as published by David Gerrold on Facebook along with my comments. If you are not familiar with the name, perhaps you will recall the Trouble with Tribbles, a Star Trek episode. Or, The Martian Child. David knows how to spin a tale and has made a career of building worlds, and dissecting this one. First, my comments.

“Absolutely and unequivocally on point. While in college I talked a professor into letting me write a term paper on science fiction. Not literature in her opinion – but I wrote well enough to make my point and she conceded. In fiction, sometimes most effectively in science fiction or fantasy, we have the freedom to take a social or civil issue and put it far enough away from the reader we can challenge the person without being confrontational. It is a way to engender thought by leading. David Gerrold points this out beautifully below. Hopefully he won’t mind if I publish this, with credit, on my blog.”

I think Sarah Pinsker is a marvelous writer. I admire her ability to paint a picture in words. Most of all, I admire her ambition.

In the current issue of Asimov’s, she has a story called, “The Ones Who Know Where They Are Going.” It’s a beautiful piece of work and I would not be surprised to see it ending up on various award ballots.

It’s intended to be read as a sequel to Ursula K. LeGuin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas.”

If you have not read the LeGuin story, go do that now. I’ll wait.

If I had to pick one story to represent the entire SF genre, possibly the most memorable of all tales anyone has ever written, it would be “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas.”

Omelas is a beautiful city, filled with joyous people living joyous lives. But … its serenity and splendor depend on the eternal misery of an unfortunate chld, kept in perpetual filth, darkness, and misery.

When citizens are old enough to know the truth of Omelas’ success, they are shown the true price of the city’s glory — that this single child must be locked away in a cruel dungeon. Most of the city’s citizens accept this as necessary to the continuing elegance of Omelas. But every so often, a few citizens cannot. They walk quietly away from the city. The last line of the story: “The place they go towards is a place even less imaginable to most of us than the city of happiness. I cannot describe it at all. It is possible it does not exist. But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.”

What occurred to me immediately, the first time I read this story was that the wealth and success of the United States depends on foreign labor — child labor, peasant labor, and in some places even slave labor. The braceros who pick our vegetables, the Chinese factory workers who assemble our iPhones, the children in Bangladesh who sew our clothes. We don’t think about them. We simply accept that the low prices of goods at Walmart are a sign of our national success, our splendor, our wealth — but in truth, our denial of the facts about the world we live in is a sign of our cultural sickness.

The trap — the real trap — is that we cannot walk away from our own Omelas. We don’t know how. We can’t survive without the technology we’ve constructed and all the hard work it takes from so many people to keep that technology functioning and to keep us fed and clothed and amused with electronic toys.

Never mind that for the moment — the point of the story, as I see it, is that we as humans always have a choice: whether to accept injustice and live with it or reject it and refuse to participate in it further. And this is why I think it is one of the greatest stories ever written — because it isn’t about Omelas, it’s about the reader.

And that brings me to Sarah Pinsker’s marvelous tale.

I hated it.

Not because it’s a bad story, not because it’s badly written, not because it’s wrong — but because it is a philosophical and emotional reversal of LeGuin’s story. Where LeGuin leaves us troubled, Pinsker wants to let us be okay.

SPOILER ALERT.

If you haven’t read Pinsker’s story, go do so now.

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In Pinsker’s story, someone has left the door to the dungeon ajar. The child, bruised and hurting, laboriously climbs the steps toward the dazzling daylight, wondering about the beauty that lies above, and speculating on how long it will take the city to collapse after the escape.

But by the time the child reaches the tenth stair, he or she (never specified) stops and turns around and heads back down to the dungeon. And we are told that this is not the first time that the child has made this journey toward dazzling freedom and then returned to the sanctity of the darkness.

Now, if the point to be made here is that the child cannot deal with freedom, is afraid of freedom, that’s horrifying enough — but that’s not Pinsker’s point. No.

Instead, this child is acting out of altruism, nobility — returning to the dungeon so that no other child will have to suffer the same fate. And again, this is not the first time this child has made this great moral choice.

And as a reader, I can feel good, I can feel proud of this child for willingly martyring herself/himself for the good of —

No. I can’t.

There’s an old joke. “How many Jewish mothers does it take to change a light bulb.” “None. Don’t worry about me. I can sit here alone in the dark.” That’s also the short version of this story.

And this is why I take issue with this story. Both philosophically and emotionally.

Philosophically: Where LeGuin was saying underneath the glory of this civilization, its foundation rests on a crime, an act of profound cruelty and injustice to another human being — where LeGuin was making a profound plea, Pinsker is now excusing the cruelty and injustice. It’s all right, because the child is there willingly, the child is making a noble sacrifice.

And emotionally — it’s all right, you don’t have to feel bad. The child is doing a good thing. He/she wants to be there.

Um, no.

There’s this thing called “the victim racket.” It’s where you give away your power to others so you can feel good about never getting what you want. It’s about being right about being miserable. It plays out a lot of different ways, “I have to sacrifice for my children,” or “I’m not good enough,” or “It’s okay, I didn’t want dessert anyway.” (Or even, “I deserved the award, but the vote was rigged.”) The victim racket is about excusing injustice.

Now that might not be what Sarah Pinsker intended. Unfortunately, that’s how I read it. And as much as I try to find another interpretation, I’m stumped.

I’m not against sacrifice — every good parent makes sacrifices so his/her children can grow up to have a life they love living. But that’s an informed consent. The child of Omelas isn’t there because he or she has consented, isn’t there because of a higher purpose, isn’t enduring a noble imprisonment — the child of Omelas is there because the people of Omelas prize their splendor too much to give up the injustice.

Still with me?

Do I think Pinsker was wrong for writing this story? Hell, no. I’m glad she wrote it — because it will start the kind of discussion that all good stories must start. It invites the readers to argue about the nature of Omelas as well as the plight of the child. It invites us to consider the very real implications for our own society.

I’ll add this — the LeGuin story is necessarily incomplete. It invites the reader to decide for himself/herself about the morality of this situation.

In the hands of another writer — not me, not today — a sequel to “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” would be about those who walk away.

Those who stay are accepting responsibility for the injustice, they’re owning it the same way the Germans who profited in the days of the Third Reich owned their atrocities. They decided not to care.

But those who are walking away, they’re rejecting responsibility. They’re leaving without trying to change anything. They’re fleeing the responsibility of rescuing the child. They’re unwilling to trigger the revolution that would surely occur if the city’s success were threatened. They’re unwilling to take a stand, unwilling to say, “I cannot be a part of a civilization founded on injustice. We must find another way. We must bring that child up into the light.” By walking away, they are running away.

And to my mind, the ones who walk away are just as detestable, maybe even more so than the ones who stay.

Whatever the case, I believe it is wrong to ascribe nobility to the child. It’s wrong to assume nobility among the oppressed. That’s a convenient fiction — that torture and oppression, discrimination and victimization somehow confer wisdom on the sufferers. Hell no. Torture and oppression mostly inspire outrage and hatred and counter-violence. Gandhi and Mandela and King and Frankel and Weisel are exceptions. Everybody else likely has a lifetime battle with PTSD.

That assumption of nobility through oppression — that’s why we have “the magic Negro” and the wise old native American and the sassy black lady and the insightful old Jew and the noble Asian and the spontaneously clever drag queen in American movies — because we’re afraid to acknowledge the real hurt and bitterness that our own Omelas has created, not in a single child, but in whole populations.

Perhaps there is a worthwhile sequel to be written to “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas.” I applaud Sarah Pinsker’s ambition in this effort. And I wish I could celebrate this story as a worthwhile sequel. Any writer this ambitious deserves applause.

But … I wonder if LeGuin’s original tale has left us with an unsolvable challenge. We are damned if we stay, we are damned if we leave. I can’t walk away — but I have no idea how to get that child out of that dungeon either.

That’s the story I want to see someone tackle.

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Reviews ~ Learning to Drive

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, available for $9-$20

“The car goes where the eyes go.”

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A friend of mine recommended this book. There are a myriad of reasons why she might have, not the least of which it’s a dang good book. The main character is a dog. It is from his viewpoint, thoughts, successes and failures that we see the life of a man who is at heart a champion. A champion race car driver. It takes him a long time to realize his goal and the story of how he finds his path from behind the customer service desk of a high-end automobile service garage and onto the race tracks of Europe, well, that is our tale, you see.

Enzo, our beloved hero, is a mutt with maybe a bit of terrier. He’s a smart dog. Bored to distraction while his pal, Denny, is at work. He finally finds an outlet when the TV is left on one morning and Enzo takes on the job of educating himself. Denny sets limits but makes sure that Enzo is exposed to variety. Soon he spends long hours absorbing human interactions and thought process available on the channels he is permitted to watch. And there are always the videos. Videos of races from around the world that he and his pal watch, always with lessons about what went wrong, what went right and what it takes to be a champion. And how to drive in the rain.

Of all the programs that affect Enzo the most, one is a National Geographic program about the dogs of Mongolia. Here it is believed that if a dog does very well in his life, he may have the opportunity to become a human in the next life. Enzo sets this as his goal. The very thought of acquiring opposing thumbs and a tongue that actually responds to commands—well this change becomes his checkered flag.

Denny suffers a number of setbacks. Money, the loss of his beloved wife and a long and debilitating fight for the custody of his daughter. But he is a champion, and when he wavers on his path, Enzo jumps in with his dog-like persistence and finds a way to get Denny’s eyes back on the track.

Another saying used wisely in these pages is, “No race has ever been won in the first corner; many have been lost there.” The need to keep a goal in sight, no matter what obstacles are in the way, is the only chance of reaching it. Yes, there are things in life that you cannot change, but there are those you can. And for those you must stay the course. Not squeezing the wheel in desperation until your joints ache and you no longer “feel,” but with calm awareness of everything around you so that you can avoid losing control, over correcting, and ending up in a heap at the side of the road.

One more gem from Enzo. “Racers are often called selfish and egotistical. I myself have called race car drivers selfish; I was wrong. To be a champion, you must have no ego at all. You must not exist as a separate entity. You must give yourself over to the race. You are nothing if not for your team, your car, your shoes, your tires. Do not mistake confidence and self-awareness for egotism.” To win you must be aware of everything around you, know the most effective response without really thinking, and keep your eyes where you want the car to go. It takes practice, it takes will, and it takes a sincere love of the race itself.

Ah, yes, our Enzo. You observed much and learned much. I only hope your doggie soul remains so wise when it finds its human shell.

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Reviews ~ Losing a Mind

Still Alice by Lisa Genova available for $7-18

Still AliceI was introduced to this title through a Facebook support group of folks dealing primarily with the various forms of dementia and primarily as caregivers. There are a few professionals in the group, as well as a few who have been recently diagnosed with one of the many forms of the disease. If you are a caregiver reading this I highly recommend the group. There are now over 20,000 members from around the world. This means that among the many quick little supporting hugs and prayers, you rarely have to wait long for a practical idea (or several) if you post a specific issue. Many members have contributed to the files section with information, books and suppliers. It is a place to rant, to cry to share funny stories, to seek advice. The group is quite diverse and not all things are for all people but that is what scrolling, hiding and even blocking are for. I lived in that group for several months and still visit when I feel I can contribute something of value.

It took me awhile to get around to reading this book. I tend to be more centered on nonfiction and direct application. I was, in the end, surprised and feel that it is a work well worth the read. Still Alice is not based on real events, it is a work of fiction. It is, however, well researched and the events and reactions within the tale are portrayed in an accurate manner.

Alice is a brilliant and sought after psychologist and linguist that begins to notice issues with memory, her sense of direction and general mental function. After losing her way and her thoughts far too frequently, she seeks the advice of a neurologist and is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. The story is a beautifully depicted tale of her decent into the disease.

I appreciated this book because it brought out several issues directly related to Alzheimer’s, such as the chance of inheritance of the related genes and how to be tested. It also brought out the very real issues with dementia and the problems of caregivers. For instance, it is not an issue that you forget where your keys are, the issue arises when you can’t recall what a key is. Getting lost is one thing, but staring at the same street signs you have seen for years within a block or two of your own home and having no idea where you are – well that may be another matter.

Genova’s research is also evident within the plot line in other ways. We know that dementia can strike the brilliant as well as the average mind – simply “exercising” your brain is no guard against the disease. However, in the words of one of the doctors in the story, when someone spends their lives in active pursuit of knowledge, he or she develops multiple pathways to the same bit of information. When brain cells begin to die, there still remains pathways or pieces of pathways to the same conclusions; it just takes longer to get there.

This last is something that I and others noted in my husband. Until he became bedridden he pushed to learn. He was an active participant in the care that I and the hospice team provided. Perhaps he could no longer walk, but he would turn on the bathroom light when I would wheel him in. On more than one occasion his team would state, “He knows, you can see it in his eyes.”

We were not wishing it true. There was one instance when a volunteer was sitting with him and they were singing. I was in my office working. Suddenly I heard him say, “Oh, Shut up!” I flew out of my office to the dining room and leaned over to eye level. I told him I knew he felt like shit and I was sorry that was the case. However, he had never allowed that to make him rude in the past and now was no time to start. I left and returned to my office. Things seemed to calm down and later, when I went to the kitchen for something to drink, he motioned to me. Drawing me close he gave me a hug. No longer able to walk or take care of any of his needs and fast losing the ability to eat or drink – he still thought, he still reasoned, he still accepted responsibility.

The human mind is the most amazing thing. We know so very little of how it works, how it dies. It is way past time we learn how to care for and protect this most precious gift.

If you have any interest or connection with the world of dementia, give it a read. Through tears and chuckles I think you’ll find it worthwhile.

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A Sunday afternoon contemplating my reading habits~

FoundationNot too long ago I ran across a blog post by David Brin, one of my all-time favorite authors. He announced the release of a new “Foundation Trilogy” written with the consent of Asimov’s estate. One book is by Brin, (Foundation’s Triumph), one by Great Bear (Foundation and Chaos) and one by Gregory Benford (Foundation’s Fear). (Background on  where each one fits in the story line can be found here). All three are giants in the field and I was ready to dash out and grab them all. Except. Well, it’s been a very long time since I spent much time in the world of Isaac’s Robots and Foundations. In order to really enjoy what the authors did with the original premise I chose to journey back in time, or is that forward in time? I am re-reading the primary Robot novels and the entire Foundation series.

It is always interesting to revisit a favorite spot many years later and see what the events of life have done to change or widen your perspective. I liked the original body of work when I first read them. I’ve always felt that really good writers have a knack for exposing the foibles of society without putting the reader in a defensive mode of thought. The trick, of course, is to leave the reader with a take-away, a kernel of knowledge that can be used in the current, everyday hubbub of human interaction.

There are a number of thought-provoking bits that come from Asimov’s robot tales and from his long enduring Foundation series. The one I wish to discuss here has to do with the interactions of society and the dynamics between groups. If you are unfamiliar with the story of the series, it starts with a man named Hari Seldon. Due to some mathematical musings, his life becomes consumed with the development of something called pshychohistory.

The premise is that although individual human behavior is beyond the calculating ability of any known technology, a system can be developed that deals with the probability of large numbers of people. Something like a quantum physics of sociology. Given certain circumstances, resources, and threats to a group’s well-being, they can be counted on to react in certain ways. Professor Seldon proposes to do such a thing in order to save the galaxy from many millennia of chaos after the fall of the then reigning – and deteriorating – Empire.

The only way such a science can work is if the basic reactions of human groups, i.e. “tribes,” remain fundamentally unchanged regardless of technology, place, time, wealth or education. The tale that Asimov weaves throughout the series shows how those reactions can be controlled, within certain limits, to create the highest probable success. Success being defined as a healthy, relatively democratic and reasonably free society.

That brings me to Brin’s blog entitled, Altruistic Horizons: Our tribal natures, the ‘fear effect’ and the end of ideologies. In an admittedly long bloggy treatise, Brin describes what he calls the ‘fear effect’ and how what we fear directly affects our ability to include or exclude “others.” Something he calls our horizon of inclusion. In other words, the more we fear the smaller the circle of fellow beings we trust or care to include in our own little piece of the world.

This is something that I harp on a bit in my interactions with other folks. The level of fear we have and often nurture. The more we feed the fear monster, the more intolerant we are. Understanding that our long historical heritage has built the “them” and “us” point of view into our very cultural DNA does not excuse it. It gives us a basis to understand why we feel the way we do and to make a choice to work toward something better.

In Foundation’s Edge Asimov tells a tale of the Eternals. An ancient fable of the people of his story about a group of robots doing their best to follow the First Law of Robotics. “A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.” The only way these ancient, salient machines could see to complete that directive was to create a situation where there was only one salient race to settle the galaxy. Any competition at all brought catastrophe.

Such a ring of truth. My fear is that we, the human race, will not find a way to live with one another, or even those other life-forms that occupy this globe with us, let alone any life we may find “out there.” I know we won’t if we just stop trying. What’s your “fear horizon?”

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Filed under Humanties for the Unbound Mind, My Bookshelf (and a movie or two), My Bookshelf ~ Fiction

Guest Post ~ Why do we love Fantasy?

Dragon

A 9′ by 3′ original oil by Dianne used for the covers of her trilogy.

My friend and colleague, Dianne Lynn Gardner agreed to visit today.  She is deep a project that will bring her beloved Realm to the screen. It has been quite a journey.  After writing Ian’s Realm, a trilogy, and then expanding the story to include two more books due to be published, she fell in love with the idea of bringing the Realm to the screen. To have something worthwhile to show, you have to know how to build a world other people want to visit!

Please welcome Dianne Lynn Gardner during one of her short stays here with us in the reality of the the Pacific Northwest.

From Dianne:

It’s not enough to lay on the grass, dandelions by your ear bouncing under the weight of a bumble bee, clover blossoms tickling your toes, as you stare at the white puffs of moisture changing shapes against the blue. No. It’s not enough to just lay there and listen to the breeze as you absorb the warmth of the day. You aren’t satisfied until you squint at the clouds and see the shape of a giant lizard morph into a dragon, and then as moments pass the formation becomes a butterfly stretching its wings over you, hovering between you and that burning star you call the sun. Soon it dissipates into nothing again. A cloud again. The shadow that had shielded you, gone.

Your imagination took you into a portal of time. For a few moments you weren’t really on your front lawn. Cars didn’t drive by, airplanes didn’t fly over your house. The phone didn’t ring. In fact, in the fantasy world you just left those things didn’t exist. Your stay was ever so brief. Completely harmless. But you were there.

Some people choose to stay longer.

Though it’s my opinion that all fiction is fantasy because it was made up in the mind of the author, the genre has a skeleton more exclusively defined. Speak the word fantasy and castles and battles fought with broadswords and bow manifest in the mind’s eye.

 

There are other kinds of worlds and the more imaginative author will seek to find different scenery to entertain the reader.

Two questions. How and Why?

“How” is left to the artist who paints a dream. It could be a combination of places the author loves. Maybe there were fields where he once walked. Perhaps in his childhood he remembers a house at the end of the street that had a basement unexplored. Sometimes a forest is so dark and deep he might remember hearing voices screaming from its core. Many memories and imaginings can dream up a fantasy world, and to build that universe in detail is an art. An exciting journey, with endless possibilities. All one needs to do is squint a little as though looking at the clouds, and pretend.

Why?

Stories such as Through the Looking Glass, the Wizard of Oz, Narnia, Lord of the Rings and many other fantasies take their main characters into worlds with incredible obstacles to overcome. Those obstacles represent trials common to us here in the real world. Good- versus-evil-type trials. In a fantasy story, magnifying the consequences of wrong choices, and glorifying the triumphs of perseverance, loyalty, courage and honor prompts the reader to consider issues they are facing in reality. In some way, those prompts can help to influence decision making — hopefully for the better.

This is why we love fairy tales, dragons, castles, princesses and knights. It takes us away from this world, if only for a while. And the really good stories give us something to bring back.

Dianne has just released the third in the Ian’s Realm Trilogy, Rubies and Robbers. 

Also check out Deception Peak (book 1) and Dragon Shield (book 2)

Visit her at her website http://www.gardnersart.com/ where all things Realm are explored!

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Guardians of our Lives ~ in Fiction and in Thought

It is time, dear readers, to return to the world of “Humanities Unbound.” Although there will always be a place in my writing and my life for my husband and for the caregiver in all of us, there is a time when we must return to the world at large. For this gentle shift back into that world, I have chosen to invite a friend to tell us about her book. It is a book about angels.  Not just any angels! Angels as something different and apart from demands placed on them by human legend and religion.

Please welcome, Etta Jean as she tells us about her new release, Shadow on the Sea.

SotS Cover

The concept of angels has always fascinated me. Even for those who are non-religious or unorthodox in religion, angels are an interesting concept that permeates our everyday society and culture. Coming at this from a more unorthodox point-of-view, I started wondering what sorts of beings might angels be if they were not religious in overtone. What if they were just a different race? Better, what if that race had somehow inspired our mythos around angels to begin with?

And, thus, Shadow on the Sea was born.

Scattered through my Lightling and Darkling races are plenty of tips of the hat to the legends they inspired and were inspired by. To fit such a rich history of a new race into a novelette is not easy, and I came at it by deciding to follow the life of a very special angel as she goes from birth, to her stages of evolution, to her final maturity. She brings you on her journey of growth, and I think you might just find yourself growing along with her.

Ceres is a world of angels, and love is their greatest heaven of all. We should all be so lucky.

The world of Ceres has been ruled for millennia by the winged race known as Lightlings. When the Chalice Kingdom celebrates the birth of the next crown princess, they have no idea just what events have been set into motion. The beautiful angel has a special, shadowy, gift, and only by learning to control it will she be able to claim the lover rightfully hers by destiny, and save her world from an evil bent on consuming them all.

Shadow on the Sea can be found on Amazon at:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00WDEMR6Q and http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00WDEMR6Q

Etta Jean was made in England but born in Sacramento, California. Her destiny as a bard was somewhat inevitable. Little else can explain how she constantly told her mother tall tales so outlandish that she couldn’t even get grounded for them. A love of worlds created by others eventually brought out the desire to create her own, and she has never looked back. She has seen both good and evil in her life, and her stories, like life, have no half measures. Her happy endings never come without cost, though, for she truly believes we can’t appreciate the good and the joy without the bad and the pain along the way.

Her current haunt is a comfy house in her beloved Sacramento where she wrangles three feline fur-kids and consumes peppermints like mana in order to balance a calendar filled with more creative venues than a sane person should realistically undertake. If she’s not chained to her desk, she’s stomping through the scenery in search of equally fantastical photographs.

Etta Jean can be located on the web at: http://www.ettajeanfantasy.com/ and ettajeanfantasy.wordpress.com

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Filed under My Bookshelf ~ Fiction