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Sunday, June 24, 2018

Free Copy of "Day of Atonement"

My publisher, Silver Leaf Books, is running a promotion where the e-book of Book 3 of the "Days of Ascension" series, Day of Atonement is free, until Wednesday, June 27.

Martin Berman-Gorvine

Friday, June 8, 2018

Meet Some Murderous Chicks!

At this point in the history of our culture, no one should need to be reminded that girls can be as amoral as boys, but the three short stories in the mini-collection Mean Streaks: Three Short Mysteries, by Kimberly G. Giarratano, provide that reminder anyway. The best is the last and longest story, "Peach Party Dress," a classic murder-mystery setup with a closed cast of characters at a house party, updated to feature some truly awful teenagers and lots of heedless sex. My favorite quote: "He’s got that devil-may-care attitude in that he doesn’t give a shit about anyone but himself."
Five "Phoboses"

Thursday, June 7, 2018

A Read Vital to the Survival of Our World

Daniel Ellsberg, who ought to be a hero to all Americans for his role in exposing the lies that led to the catastrophe of the Vietnam War, presents his insider's knowledge of an infinitely greater catastrophe that has been waiting to happen for the better part of a century: global nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union/Russia--in The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner.

Ellsberg rightly calls the nuclear arsenals possessed by our two countries a dual Doomsday Machine that would lead to the extinction of all or nearly all human and animal life on Earth if ever put into operation--and he points out that the U.S. has used nuclear blackmail dozens of times since the atom bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Don't imagine, either, that the danger has gone away in the twenty-five years since the Cold War ended.

I will never forget how almost thirty years ago my late grandfather, a World War II veteran, told me the civil disobedience of the Berrigan brothers against America's nuclear arsenal was justified. We the people must put an end to this madness, before it puts an end to us.

5 "Phoboses"

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Exciting Adventures Through Interdimensional Doors (Review of Ariele Sieling's All In)

My faithful readers know I am a sucker for a good portal story, having written a few myself, so I am thrilled to stumble across a new series based on such a premise, Ariele Sieling's "The Sagittan Chronicles."
All In is the prequel, and a gripping one it is, too, a fun yarn involving flawed yet attractive protagonists Quin Black and Jo Nash. Quin's job is to explore unauthorized "Doors," portals to other worlds that the government of Pomegranate City has declared illegal and confiscated. But Quin is compromised by a weakness for illegal gambling, and when he rescues Jo, the daughter of the organized crime boss who runs his favorite gambling den but yearns to study horticulture, they both find themselves in a mess of trouble.
It is a little jarring that the setting of Pomegranate City seems thoroughly American contemporary although it is on a distant planet in (presumably) the far future, as if the series can't decide whether it wants to be straight-up sci-fi or urban fantasy. But that quibble aside, it's been a while since I enjoyed a story this much. Also, I'm dying to know whether the rest of the series reveals what a "fudge lizard" is!
Rating: 5 Phoboses

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Join Me at Balticon!

Come one, come all, and join me at Balticon this weekend for a launch party for my new horror novel, Day of Atonement! Also I'm on lots of fun panels. Here is my schedule:
Location: The Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel, 202 East Pratt Street, Baltimore

Friday, May 25, 9pm
Panel: Post-Apocalyptic Fiction
Guilford room

Saturday, May 26, 10am
Panel: Alternate History Worldbuilding: Not Just Evil Goatees
Club Lounge

12pm: Reading from my novel
St. George room

2pm: Autographing my books
5th Floor Lobby

5pm: Book Launch party: Day of Atonement
Club Lounge

Sunday, May 27, 11am
Panel: Jews In Space: Jewish SF On and Off The Page
Guilford room

7pm: Panel: Fictional Works of Fiction
Guilford room

9pm: Panel: How Contemporary Fears Shape Apocalyptic Fiction
Guilford room

Monday, May 28, 2pm
Workshop: Writing Intriguing Characters
Mount Washington room

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

My Horror Jaunts Around the Web!

Get a taste of two of the main characters from my new horror novel Day of Atonement, Amos and Vickie, which Meghan Shena Hyden (@Raiyine on Twitter) was kind enough to host on her fabulous blog. And check out my essay on "Horror and Religion" on The Scary Reviews. Preorder the paperback, out 7/3/18.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

This Is Art, Friends (Review of Meg Eden's Post-High School Reality Quest)

Post-High School Reality Quest is a coming-of-age story that takes place among the geek-video gamer set in suburban Maryland circa 2010. The conceit is that it is written in the form of a 1980's era "text adventure," a dialogue between a sarcastic narrator and the main character, Elizabeth-alias-Buffy, or more likely a dialogue between different aspects of her own personality. (Non-gamers, like me, should look past the occasionally off putting jargon.) We are given to understand in flash-forwards that the heroine has suffered a nervous breakdown and is now a psychiatric inpatient reliving the disastrous events of her high school graduation and freshman year in college.
There are many flashes of wit in this story, but what comes through is an overwhelming sadness. You can't help feeling sorry for the characters, who despite being academically gifted can only express themselves in an emotional pidgin shaped entirely by video games, TV shows, Internet memes, and other trashy pop-cultural influences. Their capacity for friendship, let alone love, has been pixilated. The text-adventure conceit is a telling one because in such games the player can only enter pidgin commands, e.g. "out" for "go outside." Buffy keeps making "choices" that supposedly get her killed, only to be "resurrected" at a point a few minutes earlier, with the game proceeding relentlessly onward while her life just gets worse and worse. The choices she makes are no choices; her free will is a bad joke that is lost on her. You might think there would be a limit on the pathos such an emotionally stunted character could inspire, but not in author Meg Eden's hands. This is art, friends.

Rating: 5 Phoboses