Category Archives: Recommendations

Allegiance – a night with George Takei and Lea Salonga

Allegiance official site
I feel privileged to have gotten to see Allegiance before it ventures off to the bright lights of Broadway.

First off, I want to thank the cast, crew, and the Globe Theater for producing this wonderful musical. In many ways this is an ‘unmarketable’ production, but they believed in it, and made a beautiful, important thing come to life.

In another way, there’s no way this play would not have been made, in some media or form, eventually. The story is too good, too central to what it means to be American, to stay quiet and hidden for long. The events described here bring together so many American paradoxes that we hold dear and hate with vitriol that we need to see it, we need to process it as a nation, as a people. We need to remember, not with our minds, but with our hearts.

The amazing thing is that the writers brought all of this together with such a deftness of skill and truth that I decided to give them a writeup here, even though this is a speculative fiction blog (for the most part) centering on Science Fiction and Fantasy most of the time. But, in two important ways, the Allegiance story has bearing on my writing.

First of all, it is a story about a people subjected to relocation, estrangement from the people around them, and who had so much taken from them in a country that promised that could never happen. In a country based on the idea that all men are created equal. (Ha. Ever listen to that sentence? What about women, huh? Yeah. That’s what I’m talking about.) My next book will also feature a situation similar to this, but on a different world, with different outcomes, and with different reasons.

Second of all, the entire experience was so outlandish, so counterintuitive, so speculative, that if you didn’t know it was real, it would be hard to maintain the audience’s suspension of disbelief. But we know it was real. We know that no Hawaiian Asians were sent to camps, even though Hawaii was the only US territory attacked by the Japanese. That makes no logical sense, even if you believed in the original reason for the relocations. We know that Japanese were interned all across the country, but only up to the Mississippi. Then on the east coast, they were left alone. That makes no sense. We know that Japanese who had been born in the United States of America (citizens!) were held without charge, bail, or any sort of due process based on a piece of paper signed by the President.

That makes no sense.

But it all happened, and it could happen again. Remember the other George? Not Takei, the terrifying one. Bush. What would that man have done to our Asian brothers and sisters if he had been president at the time, knowing that he authorized torture of the men alleged to be a terrorist or thought to at one point have walked down the same street as a terrorist?

We have long known the extent of presidential power in the United States goes far above and beyond what most of us are comfortable with. I feel that I speak for people on both sides of the fence politically when I say that an executive order that you don’t agree with could totally ruin your life.

Think about your skin color. Your religion (or lack thereof). Your social status. Your partner. Your family. Ask yourself, what if your particular sub-group was the first to be targeted by the next man who thinks himself a king, not an elected ruler?

What if you were first? What if you went to the camps? To Guantanamo? For what? Something you thought innocuous. Loving someone you “shouldn’t.” All it takes is the threat of war and a cozy Congress and suddenly your president becomes your judge, jury, and perhaps executioner.

Seems like science fiction. Fantasy, maybe? But no. This is all too real. All too possible. No, that kind of story is called Horror.

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Altered by A D Croucher – Quick, awesome read

New recommendation time. This time, it’s Altered, the first in what I hope is a series by A. D. Croucher.

I’m tired, so I’ll just link out to my review on Amazon, but I shall add a bit beyond that I really dig this piece.

From an independent novelist’s point of view, I enjoyed it more than just because of the prose. I also liked that it’s basically a novella that doesn’t have to fit into the traditional 250-350 page format. I bet this piece is about 20-25,000 words, shorter than a normal book by one third. Still, it feels complete, and better than that, it feels complex.

Most of the characters in this story grow and mature, or at least change, and the Altered title describes both the emotional world of the characters and the scientific mechanism that drives the plot. It all comes together like peanut butter and chocolate.

If you want a good young-adult urban science-fiction story, treat yourself to this.

Wendig’s Mockingbird – vulgar and delicious

I’m continuing my search for great independent and under-known authors and I’ve found a bright gem inĀ Mockingbird, a phenomenal novel by Chuck Wendig. The main character must have soaked in the vulgar marinade overnight before Wendig put her out on the barbie for this one, because she’s the nastiest woman I’ve ever heard. Strange, how a character can take on a life. Even if in the real world, Miriam would be the most profoundly difficult person to even stand next to in line at the supermarket, but in this story, her life exudes from her every word and thought, and she welcomes us readers with open (and sometimes bloody) arms.

Mr. Wendig – well done. You entertained me with a thrilling story, a proud female lead, and gave me a few new creative curses to add to my favorites list. If anyone out there wants an unusual modern fantasy story and have a strong stomach and a penchant for foul language (and who doesn’t, secretly, in the back of their head) then you should enjoy Mockingbird.

Recommended read – Wool by Hugh Howey

I think I’m going to take some space in my blog to recognize some of the better books that I’ve run across. Authors who work hard and deliver quality make me all warm and fuzzy inside.

My first recognition is for Hugh Howey, who needs to have even wider readership than he already does. His magnificent Wool series turned me back onto reading science fiction after a long and hard time trying to find someone who actually had a compelling SF angle and a strong interpersonal story with likeable characters and enough action to keep me interested. So, here’s to you, Hugh; keep up the great work.

Wool Omnibus – Highly recommended.