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Sime~Gen Inc. Presents

ReReadable Books

June 2011

"Where The Magician Stands, Part I Outside Time"


Jacqueline Lichtenberg



 To send books for review in this column email Jacqueline Lichtenberg,jl@simegen.com  for snailing instructions or send an attached RTF file.  
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The Overton Window, by Glenn Beck, Mercury Radio Arts, 2010

Gold Under Ice, by Carol Buchanan, on Kindle, Nook, PoD 2010

A Dangerous Climate by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Tor, TPB 2010

Dracula by Bram Stoker, NAL TPB 2010

Dracula The Un-Dead by Dacre Stoker & Ian Holt, NAL TPB Oct 2010

Night of the Living Trekkies by Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall, Quirk Books, 2010

We live in "The Future" but everyone always has.

Linguists study languages, even dead ones, all of which handles "time" somehow. Our Western Tradition sees Time as an arrow, pointing one way. To understand what that means, study other languages that don’t parse the human experience as linear along a timeline.

We talk about precognition, fortune telling, divination, reincarnation, as if a soul travels along this linear timeline only once and only in one direction. Maybe not.

January to June of 2007, this column examined "The Soul-Time Hypothesis starting with "The Art of Time and Soul." Those columns are posted at lightworks.com and on http://www.simegen.com/reviews/rereadablebooks/2007/ 

If you accept time-as-an-arrow and live in that single dimension, traveling in only one direction, the theory of cause-effect, the basis of modern hard-science, makes perfect sense and nothing else does. But when you step onto the other "planes," or "rise" in consciousness, you travel a realm where Time is not defined, and where English becomes gibberish because it is impossible to speak without incorporating an orientation in Time.

You can’t even say "Time is not" because "is" is a time-delineation.

In that realm where Time "is not" – somewhere in there is where the Magician stands to Work.

How do you find that "place" where Time "is not?"

One of the most productive exercises I’ve yet found is the reading of science fiction and fantasy (SF/F). Now I’m going to get totally heretical and point out that Historical Fiction, though it predates Science Fiction, is actually a branch of SF/F.

Academics grappling with this odd fact have invented the term "speculative fiction" to try to embrace all the varieties of SF/F, and that term has become popular lately. It may actually be more politically correct than SF/F. But I see the term speculative fiction as an oxymoron. All fiction is speculation. Fiction is "Art" – a selective representation of Reality designed to reveal a hidden truth.

I’ve discussed the nature of Art in this column and on http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com  where I post on Tuesdays.

One of the "hidden truths" Art can reveal is the map of the road from "here and now" to the "place where Magicians stand" to Work. Fiction can transport you outside of time, and when you return you may find you’re not in the same world you left.

Historical Fiction has that potential. A writer living now, imagining what might have been is doing the same thing a writer living now imagining what might yet be is doing. (try saying that without using Time as a referenent!)

So I want to point you to a set of works where the "science" in the fiction is the "science" of History.

First a novel by a self-styled comic actor with ADD, without a college education who has made his name in talk radio, a name many will place in infamy. Glenn Beck owns Mercury Radio Arts so The Overton Window is "self-published." He says he wrote The Overton Window. Just from reading it, I think it had at least 2 ghost writers trying to tame the ADD subject-switching and diluting huge, boring expository lumps. It’s not well written, seems to have been edited with a sledge-hammer, the characters contrived, but it illustrates an abstract mathematical theory about human behavior called "The Overton Window" which is in use by politicians today to create sequences of Events that redirect History. Google Overton Window and find the Wikipedia entry on it that is not related to this novel. Magicians who know how to rise on the planes will learn something from this novel. Others, not so much.

You all know I am active in social media. On Twitter I’m JLichtenberg, and participate in several chats, #scifichat #litchat, #scriptchat. There I met Carol Buchanan who writes Historicals and I asked for a copy of her latest, Gold Under Ice, which she sent me in e-book. This, too, is "self-published" but the writing is pristine, the editing strong, precise, and totally invisible, the story smooth, plausible, historical fact informative without any boring expository lumps. I’ve never read a better book from a Mass Market publisher.

Gold Under Ice is the sequel to God’s Thunderbolt which won a well deserved award. It’s good as a stand-alone, and tells the story of a New York dandy during the Civil War who goes to Montana to mine gold to pay a family debt of honor. Few readers would look at it this way, but in essence it’s an Initiation novel in the lessons of Yesod, the 9’s of Wands, Cups, Swords, Pentacles. The hero of Gold Under Ice stands in that place outside of Time where doing the right thing brings the Time-bound sequence of Events into harmony with the Soul’s growth in a way that stands in stark contrast to the process outlined in The Overton Window. Bottom line: you gotta read this book.

The thing is, you’ll get much more out of Gold Under Ice if you somehow manage to read Beck’s The Overton Window first. (Look, nobody ever said the Path of the Magician would be easy!)

Now, keeping all that in mind, you can have some fun reading Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s St. Germain novel, A Dangerous Climate. If you’ve been following the St. Germain novels, you know there isn’t much plot and, because he’s a Vampire and virtually Immortal, St. Germain’s character doesn’t arc. Vampires are soul-less so they don’t have Soul-Growth experiences. He’s an observer, a voyeur in Time from a vantage outside Time. But he does have the capacity to love, and so I love these novels.

A Dangerous Climate is set during the forced building of the Russian city St. Petersburg. Someone is faking St. Germain’s identity while he goes on an undercover mission for the Czar and gets involved with women he shouldn’t be involved with. But that’s St. Germain for you, which is why I love him.

Dracula The Un-Dead written by the great-grand nephew of Bram Stoker with Ian Holt, has an introduction by Leonard Wolf. It provides another way to visit history – or revisit revision-history.

There’s a trend afoot to write sequels to public domain classics like Sherlock Holmes. This one is a sequel to Dracula, set in London, 1912, and following the son of Jonathan and Mina Harker into a hair-raising probe into the mysteries of what really happened in the original novel Dracula. New American Library re-issued Dracula along with this new title. Vampire fans don’t want to miss this one, and Historical (steampunk) fans should pay attention.

Now, after all that serious reading, it’s time to laugh your head off, you should excuse the pun. Being as how I’m a Trekker of long standing, I had a rollicking good time reading the very well written Night of the Living Trekkies by Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall. It came to me via the Amazon Vine program where self-published authors get to connect with the widest read reviewers on Amazon pitching their novels right alongside the biggest publishers. Reviewers get to choose two titles a month to review, and one month this one just leaped right out at me, and I had clicked SEND ME before I even read the blurb. The title does say it all!

This is a send-up of Star Trek fan fiction, Star Trek fans and conventions, Vampire novels, Vampire fans and conventions seasoned with a dash of Man From U.N.C.L.E. and a dozen other geekish wonders. It’s wall-to-wall in-jokes and I think I got them all!

It’s a good read if you need a laugh, but also has some admirable characters, heroic actions, and a satisfying ending. It’s a really good book. Maybe you can live without it, but you know what? You owe yourself a treat.

Note that Night of the Living Trekkies also comes from an out-of-the-way publisher. You should hunt these books down on fictionwise.com or amazon.com.

On http://astore.amazon.com/backlebook-20  you’ll find a list of over 50 Mass Market published, many New York Times best selling, writers (me included) in every field who have posted some of their own backlist titles to Kindle, most via smashwords.com. One just got his latest title nominated for the Edgar, but is self-publishing his out of print titles. And the list grows!

So standing Outside Time, the distant past and the far future are all "now." The e-book has brought the oldest titles to your fingertips, new young writers are creating sequels to classics and presenting fresh, original and sometimes great work without a "publisher."

Are we looking at an Overton Window Event, or an artistic endeavor to reveal a hidden truth, or a troop of Magicians standing outside time, holding fast to Honor?

To send books for review in this column email Jacqueline Lichtenberg,  jl@simegen.com for snailing instructions or send an attached RTF file.  



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