Sins of Omission, guest post by A.A. Leil

Please enjoy this guest post by A.A. Leil, he contacted me about L. Jagi Lamplighters story in Forbidden Thoughts and wanted to offer a response. Please enjoy.

Sins of Omission

A Critical Response to Lamplighter’s ‘Test of the Prophet’

Note: This essay contains spoilers for two stories: Test of the Prophet from Forbidden Thoughts and Platinum Blonde.

 In the Forbidden Thoughts anthology we find a collection of stories meant to provoke thought and discussion about a number of modern issues. As a Muslim-American I found Test of the Prophet ripe for discussion, especially when juxtaposed with my recent publication in Sci Phi Journal, Platinum Blonde. Both deal with the source of violence in the Muslim world, but Test of the Prophet comes up with stereotyped answers that not only deride Islam but also depicts Jesus as a bully.

Jagi Lamplighter’s short story, Test of the Prophet (TotP), recounts a young Muslim woman’s journey to Pakistan to save her beloved cousin Kabir. Shazia learns from Kabir’s distraught sister that he has joined the Taliban. The idea that Kabir would join the Taliban clashes with Shazia’s memories of him as a kind and noble boy who wanted to make the world a better place. She resolves to save Kabir and finds him near the entrance to the Khyber Pass among a cadre of Daesh extremists, his sword raised and ready to behead a Pakistani soldier.

It is here that we arrive at the heart of the story, a vital and complex question: what is the source of violent extremism in the Muslim world? Shazia, who is gifted with the ability to see djinn, demons and angels, discovers a group of evil spirits surrounding the extremists to exert their influence on them. She calls for help, and the Angel Gabriel appears.

What follows is TotP’s exposition on the perceived ills of Islam as voiced by the demons and the Angel Gabriel, the ultimate gist of which is to identify the Prophet Muhammad (and his failure to pass Gabriel’s fictional test) as the root of violence in the Muslim world. The reason? Muhammad wrote falsehoods into the Quran in order to gain power for himself.

To prove this theory, TotP gives a very shallow recount of the migration of Muhammad and the early Muslims to the city of Medina. Speaking to Shazia, a ram-horned demon in TotP states that “the very first thing your Dog-rutting Prophet did—after receiving instructions from Oh-So-High-and-Mighty-Gabriel, here, telling him to be kind to the followers of the Slaughtered Lamb and the People of the Book—was to move to Medina and to put those very People of the Book to the sword.”

The historical record says otherwise. Lamplighter’s demon refers to Muhammad’s invitation to Medina to arbitrate between two battling clans that had drawn their Jewish clients into a bloody civil war. To bring peace to the region, Muhammad arranged for Medina’s Jewish, Muslim, and pagan clans to sign a mutual protection pact. The pact held for several years despite multiple attempts on Muhammad’s life. Eventually the pact would be tested when the Meccan army (the Meccans had long sought to extinguish the nascent Muslim community) laid siege to Medina.

None of these facts are mentioned in TotP.

The largest omission, however, revolves around the actions of the Jewish Banu Qurayza tribe during this siege. Upon learning that the Banu Qurayza intended to betray the pact and join the Meccan army, Muhammad tried keep them on his side. Despite this, the Banu Qurayza signaled the Meccan army that they were ready to act against Muhammad, but an exhausted and defeated Meccan army lifted siege and marched home, abandoning the Banu Qurayza.

The Muslim army then lay a 25-day siege upon the Banu Qurayza’s castle, which led to both sides agreeing to arbitrate. Rather than do so himself, Muhammed chose Sa’d ibn Muadh, a former ally of the Banu Qurayza, as judge. He ruled that the Banu Qurayza had committed treason by not honoring their agreement to protect Medina and ordered 700 men of the tribe to be executed. This is harsh, but it comes directly from Deuteronomy 20:12-14:

“If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the Lord your God gives you from your enemies.”

 Given that Islam views itself as an extension of Judaism and Christianity, it should not come as a surprise that the Muslims in 622 A.D. acted by the example laid out by previous Abrahamic religions. But instead of crediting the executions to Deuteronomy, Lamplighter places the blame with Muhammad – who wasn’t even the judge.

 TotP further attempts to justify its view of Islam with a revisionist characterization of the Crusades where Crusaders were shining lights of liberty and freedom and Muslims were just blood-thirsty expansionists who forced the conquered to convert or die. However, in Islam: The Straight Path, author John L. Esposito recounts a different picture. He states that “some Jewish and Christian communities (particularly those persecuted by the Orthodox Church) aided the invading armies, regarding them as less oppressive than their imperial masters.”

Entire chapters could be written on the further sins of omission riddled within TotP, from its selective descriptions jihad and polygamy to its cartoonish use of the word ‘infidel’, all of which serve to further stereotypes about Muslims. However, further exploration of those topics are beyond the scope of this piece and would distract from the greatest irony of TotP.

Once Shazia discovers that Kabir is about to murder the Pakistani soldier, her existence as a Muslim woman with her own ideas ends and she becomes an empty vessel. From the point of view of ToTP, she must be first cleansed of her Muslim beliefs so that she may become a prophet for a ‘new’ religion. A few of her cliche ‘say-it-aint-so’ moments notwithstanding, she weakly accepts the narrative that the Angel Gabriel and the demons feed her despite her life-long existence as a Muslim. It doesn’t occur to her that demons, as agents of Satan, may be lying to her in exactly the way both the Quran and Bible suggest. Or that Gabriel might not be an angel but a demon disguised as one.

As her desperation increases, she once again calls for help and now Jesus himself appears in the form of a lion, declaring that “last time, I came as a lamb and thus went meekly to the slaughter. That time has past. Soon, I shall come again. This time, I come as a Lion.” Shazia’s reaction is a stammering recognition that the lion is indeed Isa Ibn Maryam (“Jesus son of Mary” the Arabic name for Jesus as it is written in the Quran).

The Lion is not willing to act immediately on Shazia’s behalf, suggesting that though Isa Ibn Maryam is one name for him, invoking this version will not aid her now. She asks if she must convert, turn her back on her people, and drink (presumably) the blood of Christ. The Lion initially ignores her, choosing to neither confirm nor deny the requirement. After she presses the question further, the Lion roars, “Do you think me so small as that?”

Apparently the reader is supposed to think Jesus is exactly that small, because it is only when Shazia calls out “I banish thee in the name of Jesus Christ” does the Lion act to drive off the demon. Note that the Jesus of TotP refused to aid her when she invoked the Quranic version of his name.

To a Muslim, this is more than a simple invocation of Jesus’s name. The use of “Christ” is a forced acceptance of the idea that Jesus is the son of God, a notion that Islam rejects. As Mathew 26:63 explicitly connects the title of ‘Christ’ to the notion that Jesus is the son of God, Shazia’s invocation of the title is tantamount to a rejection of her Islamic beliefs and an acceptance of Jesus as God’s son and of God as his father.

In effect, TotP, which claims that Islam forces people to convert or die, concocts a scene in which Shazia is forced to convert or die.

And so, after thoroughly mischaracterizing the Prophet Muhammed and Islam, Test of the Prophet mischaracterizes Jesus as well. Neither the Jesus of the Bible nor the Jesus of the Quran would become Jesus the hostage-taker. Are we to believe that Jesus, who cured the sick and fed the poor, would not act to save someone whose life is at stake?

In John 8:1-11, Jesus saves the life of an adulterous woman despite the fact that she shows no explicit remorse for her actions and does not even ask for his help. He saves her first before telling her, “Go and sin no more.” In Luke 17:11-19, Jesus cleanses a group of lepers without asking them to repent for their sins, and in Luke 7:11-17, he resurrects a widow’s son not because the widow repented of anything, but out of compassion for her. The Gospels are replete with examples of Jesus saving individuals and only asking for their faith later (if at all). Why then would he treat Shazia so differently?

This is, in effect, “sinner’s prayer” Christianity: the idea that saying a few words in the right order will convey supernatural blessings even if the person doesn’t fully understand what she’s saying. And it bears noting that this form of salvation is coming under more and more criticism by Protestant theologians. Prayer doesn’t force God to act, nor is God’s ability to act restrained by a human’s failure to pray. Every Christian denomination agrees that God’s grace is given first, and humans may then choose how to respond to it.

By forcing Shazia to convert or lose everything, the story’s Jesus is overriding her free will. Meanwhile, salvation history shows that all along, God honors our free will, even when we make stupid or destructive decisions. Shazia’s conversion can’t be genuine if the alternative is death.

Put another way, “there is no compulsion in religion (Quran 2:256).”

As stated earlier, TotP poses a complex and important question as to the source of violence in the Islamic world. Through convenient sins of omission, it paints a negative view of Muhammad to arrive at a pat answer to this question. Yet when Lamplighter’s characters misrepresent not only Islam but Jesus, how can a reader view the story’s answers as in any way credible?

Last year, without knowing about Lamplighter’s story, I also wrote a response to violence in the Muslim world with the story Platinum Blonde, published in SciPhi Journal on February 6th. In Platinum Blonde, Adam, a young man who has been indoctrinated with an extremist interpretation of Islam by his father, decides to teach a Muslim family a violent lesson for singing and dancing in the streets and for not enforcing the hijab upon their daughter. Adam sticks to the plan despite his own misgivings and despite some outside pushback, but in the end he tries to go through with the homicide. And in the end, the character Najat pronounces this judgment on Adam: “He thought he knew God, but he really only knew his father.”

The essence of Najat’s lament is this: an individual’s religious belief system, when acquired through the intercession of fallible sources, is in of itself fallible. Despite Adam’s belief that killing the dancing girl was an act of faith in God, it was in fact an act of faith in his human, and extremist, father.

This is similar to Lampligher’s answer, but she puts the extremism and the hatred into the mouth of Muhammad rather than into the methods of transmission and teaching. She blames the source rather than the human interference.

Platinum Blonde therefore suggests that the source of violence in the Muslim world originates from interpretations of the Quran, not the Quran itself or any imagined additions that Muhammed may have made. The idea that some Muslims’ belief systems are derived from the faulty interpretations of parents, friends, and imams may not fully answer the question posed by TotP and Platinum Blonde, but it does open the door to discussing these questions in a more thoughtful fashion. Through an unbiased study of history from the birth of Islam, to the Crusades, to Islam’s Golden Age, the rise and influence of Wahhabism, all the way to how the partitioning of the Middle-East echoes in the modern world, we may step through this door. Bolstered by an understanding of the differences between culture and religion and the realization that the actions of individuals often do not align with the guidance of religious doctrine, we may begin to walk towards the answer. Christians and Muslims can walk there together.

One more provision, however, is required if we really wish to answer the question of violence in the Muslim world. We must understand the Quran, like the Bible, is not a book that can be read the way one would read an instructional guide, a history book, or a memoir. For in reality, it is in any particular section any of these things, and the discerning reader must understand that which ‘genre’ they are reading depends on which sura(chapter) and aya(verse) of the Quran they are reading.

None of the critique written about Test of the Prophet is to say that you shouldn’t read it. To the contrary, you should. Read it, and also read Platinum Blonde for the questions they raise and the discussions they initiate. If the answers these stories posit don’t ring true for you, seek your own answers, but do so with an open, sincere heart unfettered by the politics of the day, and do not do so in isolation of those who hold viewpoints different from your own. It is only through the earnest exchange of ideas that we may arrive at answers to complex questions.

You can find more from A.A. Leil at his website http://www.aaleil.com/

Amazon Bans The Corroding Empire

In times like these we have to remember that Amazon is a converged institution, that still lets the converged institutions that are big publishing have sway over them. They provided another example today that having a monopoly or oligopoly in a business is bad for the business and for everyone involved. I recommend congress do an immediate investigation into Amazon under Anti-Trust laws.  Here’s what went down:

  1. Tor Books author John Scalzi announced a book, which he turned in late, titled The Collapsing Empire.
  2. Castalia House quickly and effectively put out a parody book titled The Corroding Empire by Johan Kalsi, which beat out Scalzi’s actual work in pre-orders for several days.
  3. The parody, The Corroding Empire released today, to much fanfare (I’ve read a little myself, it is good science fiction work).
  4. Tor sent Amazon an ultimatum telling them to take it down.
  5. Amazon complied and sent Castalia House a notification that they were taking it down because they were pretending to be John Scalzi.
  6. Castalia House had their book removed, and there’s nothing they can do about it.

Now it’s clearly not something trying to mimic John Scalzi, but is something that’s an obvious parody. Their reasoning for taking this down is suspect at best. It would take a complete idiot to conflate the two in earnest, and moreover, the pre-order sales have already had its big bump. On Vox Popoli, Vox commented that the pre-ordered book had already sold “very well.” I expect with all the publicity that it’ll get from Amazon’s sketchy move, that it will sell even better.

Fortunately, Vox Day is on top of it. They planned to have trouble, and they have already got the book retitled with a new fictitious author’s name – Corrosion by Harry Seldon.

The new name is almost funnier than the first, referencing the Asimov character, Hari Seldon from Asimov’s Foundation series. Not to mention this is an absolutely gorgeous new cover. Well played, Castalia House. It goes to show that a modern press run by competent people can be much more nimble and adaptive than the giants of the past. The establishment won’t be able to keep up with this sort of thing, and that means in the short term that you can expect lashing out both more often, and more severely. In the long term, they won’t be around.

Even Mr. Scalzi has little he can do to react on twitter, image sent to me by Dan Wolfgang:

Superversive Dragon Award Suggestions

DragonConDragon Con is one of the biggest SFF conventions in the United States, if not on the face of the Earth. Held in Atlanta each year, Dragon Con hosts a minimum of 60,000 people each year — and we will probably never know how much they really host, lest they get in trouble with the fire marshal (I’m not even kidding). And, of course, Dragon Con has created its own award — the Dragon Award.

The first annual Dragon Awards.

Unlike a certain other set of awards that shall never be named, the Dragon Awards give out awards by genre. The Dragon Awards are also unique in that they do not go by calendar year, but from the start of July to the end of June.

Recently, we’ve put together a bit of a list of Superversive books from last year that fit our standards.  But how would one fit into the Dragon Awards like this?

Dragon Awards won by John C Wright, Brian Niemeier and Nick Cole 2016

Obviously, certain of the books from the list fit no genre category. One of my novels from the list, Set to Kill, is a murder mystery that takes place in Atlanta, at a place called WyvernCon, in the middle of a political war about Tearful or Hydrophobic Puppies versus Puppy Punters from traditional Big Publishing. Obviously, this book has no similarities to real events. Heh.

However, while it is on the 2016 list, there is no murder mystery genre for the Dragons. Nor are there Westerns, so Brings the Lightning is out.  And while Chasing Freedom and The Big Sheep are both fun books with dystopic elements, they both came out too early last year in order to be eligible — and Chasing Freedom was already nominated for last year’s Dragons.  It’s the same for site favorite Ben Zyycky’s novel Beyond the Mist , which came out in January 2016.

Those are the ground rules. Keep in mind, ANYONE can vote in the Dragon Awards, whether you have attended the con, or if you will never attend the con.

You can vote here, once you’re registered. Keep in mind, you can only vote for each book ONCE. If you try to vote for, say, Murphy’s Law of Vampires in more than one category, like best horror / best fantasy / best YA, your ballot will be invalid.

DISCLAIMER: I’ve had to do this manually, so I may have excluded one or two books that fall within the eligibility dates. And I’m adding one or two additional novels — some because they are sequels to books already nominated, and some because I think they really should be considered.

And now, UNLEASH THE DRAGONS

Best Science Fiction Novel

Escaping Infinity (not on the original list, but a favorite of mine.)

Discovery — Nuns …. INNNN SPPPAAACCCEEEE

Blood of Invidia: Maestru Series Book 1 (The Maestru Series) (Volume 1) — Space Vampires.

The Secret Kings (Soul Cycle) (Volume 3) — Book #2 won best horror in 2016, so I suppose this is also eligible there as well, but the description looks very Space Opera. Read it and you tell me below. When I asked Brian on my radio show, he didn’t have an opinion.

Bastion Saturn

 

Torchship Pilot

 

Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal)

Murphy’s Law of Vampires (Love at First Bite #2)  — This one could go here, or it could go in horror. There is not, as yet, an Urban Fantasy category. Book one was in the 2016 Horror category, but horror is another conversation.

Wolf Killer (The Hammer Commission Book 2)

 

Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge

The Cinder Witch: A Tale of The School of Spells & War

 

Best Young Adult/Middle Grade Novel

Rachel and the Many-Splendored Dreamland (The Books of Unexpected Enlightenment Book 3)Book 1 reviewed here.

Van Ripplewink: You Can’t Go Home Again

 

Swan Knight’s Son: The Green Knight’s Squire Book One (Moth & Cobweb 1)  (For the record, I have inquired with Mr. Wright, who said that, yes, while Book Two and Book Three ARE eligible, he would simplify it for book 1.)  — Read our review of the novel here.

Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel

Yes, there is some overlap here between the military SFF novels and their other categories. Why? In part because the authors have come out with two books in the same series. If one is torn between two Monstery Hunter Memoirs, or two Hammer Commissions, this is the easy way to split the baby.

Monster Hunter Memoirs: Sinners

Loose Ends (The Hammer Commission Book 3)

 

Glory Boy Cartwright’s Cavaliers (The Revelations Cycle) (Volume 1)

 

“Star Realms: Rescue Run,” By Jon Del Arroz — An author on the site, Jon should at least have the benefit of the doubt. Also, if the book’s half as awesome as he is, it deserves a look.

Thrawn (Star Wars) — While it did not come out in 2016, eligibility goes until the end of June. Thrawn comes out in April. I expect this to bigfoot the nominations.

Best Alternate History Novel

People’s Republic — Though this might be best under the next category.

Best Apocalyptic Novel
People’s Republic

 

Liberty Lost: How Debt Destroyed Our Freedoms

 

Codename: UnSub (The Last Survivors)

 

Best Horror Novel

Live and Let Bite (Love at First Bite) (Volume 3) — Book 3, the sequel to Murphy’s Law of Vampires from above. Again, there is no best Urban Fantasy here. Probably because it would just be known as the Jim Butcher award. Personally, I think this one is better, but what do I know?

A Place Outside The Wild — I never know what to do with Zombie books. Is is apocalyptic? Is it horror? Take a look and flip a coin. But I needed to flesh out this sections with more ideas.

From here on out, the Superversive list, thus far, is fairly devoid of comment and ideas, but I’ll fill in from Superversive contributors when possible. I’ll be supplying many of my own ideas. Mostly, these are merely what are eligible. In some cases, I’m linking to people who have much better ideas than I do.

Best Comic Book

Qualifying is any publication that contains illustrated story in traditional comic book format (non-animated) that is at least 20 pages long with a consistent set of characters, premises and series title that appears at least four times per year and at least one volume has been first released in print or electronic format between 7/1/2016 and 6/30/2017.

Think of this as an individual issue.

Best Graphic Novel

“A publication that contains illustrated story in traditional comic book format (non-animated) that is at least 36 pages long and has been first released in print or electronic format between 7/1/2016 and 6/30/2017.”

So … any bound collection, really.

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series, TV or Internet

A Series of Unfortunate events, by Netflix.

Arrow — perhaps? I’ve enjoyed this season

Grimm — I’d want to push this one the most because it’s the last season.

 

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie

Doctor Strange — My personal favorite

Arrival

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them — Not a personal favorite of mine. In fact, I think it is interesting for what it added to the world, not because it was a particular engaging film.

Star Trek: Beyond

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC / Console Game

Final Fantasy XV

Titanfall 2

 

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game

…. No idea. Honestly. Sorry.

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game

Injustice Gamer Alfred Genesson has some thoughts on this.

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game

And once again, we’re out of my element. Sorry.

Have a Superversive suggestion for the Dragon Awards? A book I missed? A book that came out in 2017 that wasn’t on the original list but should be here? Please, put down the title, author, and your reason why it’s a Superversive book that should get a Dragon. (date of publication would be also nice).

And then, when you have an idea — click here to VOTE IN THE DRAGON AWARDS. UNLEASH THE DRAGON.

Declan Finn is a Dragon Award Nominated Author for Honor At Stake, book 1 of his Love at First Bite Series.  Finn’s own work and collections of essays can be found at his personal web page.

Signal Boost: Writing Down the Dragon

Another in our series of posts about the books of essayist extraordinaire, Mr. Superversive*, himself!

Print

‘This book is not for the Wise, but for my fellow beginners in the craft of Fantasy, who are trying to learn some of the master’s techniques and want to compare notes.’ — From the introduction

There are shelves full of books about the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, most written from the perspective of academics and literary critics. Here is one from the point of view of the working fantasy writer. How did Tolkien produce his effects, and what can we learn from his methods? In this collection, Tom Simon investigates topics from the uses of archaic language to the moral philosophy of Orcs.

The book contains eleven essays on Tolkien:

The Riddles of the Wise
The Tolkien Method
The Rhetoric of Middle-earth
Frodo’s Vaunt
The Method and the Morgoth
What Is Elf?
The Terminal Orc
Writing Down the Dragon
Moorcock, Saruman, and the Dragon’s Tail
The Abyss and the Critics
Lost Tales, Unattained Vistas

Some of these pieces have previously appeared on the author’s website in slightly different forms.

For more of Tom Simon’s writings, visit his blog.

* — For those who do not know the history of Superversive, Tom Simon is the one introduced the term Superversive to the rest of us.

When The Blackballing Gets So Bad Even The MSM Reports

Hollywood Reporter actually posted an article A New McCarthyism today, following the theme of a lot of what I’ve posted about over the last few months, from my own local convention shunning me over politics, to Marvel Comics’ apparent litmus test of only hiring writers of the extreme left persuasion. This isn’t in Hollywood alone, but it’s something that’s across the entertainment industry from music, to writing, to comics, to games, and then to Hollywood itself. It’s actually far worse in some of the other forms of entertainment. I’ve posted up some of the direct name calling and shunning in public that’s been done to me by people like J. Michael Straczynski, hollywood writer, and Sharon Lee from science fiction publishing. As well as the doxxing that one of my former favorite bands The Early November did after they went off on a bizarre swearing tirade about the President on their twitter. The message is clear:

If you do not follow the groupthink exactly, you are not welcome here, and we will disavow you.  Continue reading

Signal Boost! The Stone Soldiers Series

Guest Signal Boost by Nate Winchester

If you’ve read much of my blog and my thoughts on the show, Supernatural, you’ll know I sometimes discuss how the show ends up being a parable on the patterns civilization and anarchy. The most common being when citizens are in danger, ordinary folks will have to step up to do the necessary tasks. If this becomes common enough, society institutionalizes the job. Example: Laws must be enforced in a society – people have better things to do – ergo the society creates the institution of “police” to enforce the norms of that society.

The Stone Soldiers series runs with the question: What if the USA institutionalized dealing with the supernatural? Or for the show’s fans, “What if hunters were deputized?”

But this series isn’t some philosophical treatise or navel-gazing, no sir. It’s pure pulp slathering on action & coolness over its questioning. This isn’t Law & Order: SPN (though I would pay to watch that) but Hawaii-five-O: SPN. This is Sam & Dean going on hunts with the US government backing them up. (Which, yes I will admit that the government being efficient or effective at anything is probably the most fantastical part of the books – and I’m counting the shapeshifters.)

Of course if you gave Sam & Dean all the backing of the USA government, you’d also have to up the threat and that is certainly done here as the books set up a beastie so nasty, even the Predator would hesitate going after one of these. Yes, that movie was brought to mind a few times since one can see Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime playing the lead role of this series.

Anyway, if you have an enemy too mean, it becomes questionable whether the heroes can win at all. This brings us to my second favorite part of the series. See, in his review for the X-files episode “Fresh Bones” Chuck of SF Debris proposed the question: If, in the XF universe, “everything is real” what if humans fought aliens with things like… voodoo? Or to put it another way: what if invading aliens landed on an ancient Indian burial ground? In this series, the defenders of humanity run with that very question of mixing & matching supernatural features. If Medusa’s gaze only affects males, what happens to a shape-shifter that can be male or female? Could we partially infect soldiers with werewolfism to make them stronger without the curse side effects? (There weren’t aliens in the first two books, but they may show up later given the titles of later volumes.) This book series runs with those challenges and even answers them with logic and consistency – no really, I can’t express my gratitude for how well this world keeps things working. The only thing I appreciated more was its general appropriate use of religion without being insulting or stupid like some modern fiction.

Any cons to the books? Well the prose style isn’t quite to my taste but it does its job well enough and shouldn’t be a hindrance to less snobbish readers though some parts can end up being repetitive. The character work is pretty light with the protagonists painted more with broad brushes than nuance. I was informed that the first book was adapted from a screenplay submitted for a contest and it does show (for example, the “rednecks who mug the monster” bit) while the 2nd book at least works far better under the strictures of the novel format.

But all in all, it’s a quick, light read. You can check out the first book for free at the link below, and get the 2nd one (for only a dollar) if you want.

Summery – It’s an 80s action movie mixed with the supernatural in book form.

Colonel Mark Kenslir is the last of the Cold War supersoldiers–and he’s just come back from the dead. 

Sent to Arizona to hunt a heart-devouring shapeshifter, Colonel Kenslir and his team of supernatural-smashing soldiers thought it was just another mission. But instead of stopping the monster’s murderous rampage, the Colonel and his team became the latest victims in a trail of carnage blazed across the Southwest.

Suffering from partial amnesia, with no weapons and no support, Kenslir must rely on two reluctant teens to help him remember his past, complete his final mission and avenge his men.

(Warning! Contains extreme violence and pulp action that may be too intense for some readers.)

Colonel Mark Kenslir, a cold warrior cursed to live forever, is rebuilding his team of stone soldiers after a campaign to stop a rampaging shapeshifter in the American southwest. But word soon arrives that someone, or something, is again on the loose, ripping out and consuming human hearts to steal the memories and forms of civilians.

Kenslir enlists the help of one brave teen and an FBI postcognitive empath to track down the new killer–only to discover there are now two prehistoric shapeshifters loose in the modern world.

Falling back to their headquarters to regroup and replenish their numbers, the Detachment soon find themselves under assault from the ravenous shapeshifters–who are intent on pillaging the military’s greatest supernatural treasures.

Can a new generation of stone soldiers and a girl struggling to understand her new cryokinetic abilities turn the tide of battle, or will Colonel Kenslir die at the hands of a shapeshifter again?

The Stone Soldiers are America’s secret weapon against the forces of darkness. A small detachment of psychics, supernatural soldiers and men turned to living stone, they respond to threats conventional forces are not equipped to handle. Battling myths, monsters and magic around the world, the men and women of Detachment 1039 stand ready to do whatever it takes to stop evil in its tracks.

 

Attack of the Witch King

Image

John C Wright posted an article called The Last Crusade: In the Kingdom of Witches, part of his series on what’s wrong with Western Civilization. The usual crowd of nutcases, hysterical harpies, and idiots — usually known as simply “social media.” —  had only one takeaway from this: “WRIGHT BELIEVES IN WITCHES! HE THINKS THEY’RE TRYING TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD!!!!!”

At the very least, they’re consistent: they’ve once more missed the point.

In order to help social media grasp the obvious, I have taken it upon myself to translate this great essay into small words. After all, this must be understood by small people.

The following, strange as it might seem, contains spoilers for my own books series, Love at First Bite.

The far left of the twentieth century was always a religion. The far Left bases most of their beliefs boilerplate socialism. Since the Russian revolution took  a lot from the French revolution, there is a lot of blood as part of the Leftist faith, and a lot of anti-theist secularism.

Leftism has kept up this tradition, perhaps even better than the Soviet Union ever did. Communism killed a hundred million people in the last century, over the course of 70 years.

Just to highlight this one more time. That’s a hundred million. 100,000,000 dead.

In the United States, we’re up to, what, fifty million aborted children and counting?  Over the course of less than fifty years? We keep that up, abortion will have wiped out more people than Communism along the same amount of time. That’s not even counting the numbers in other countries around the world.

The funny thing about the Soviet Union is that they actually went out of their way to eliminate free love moments. Even the USSR, with all of their butchery and violence, knew that the traditional family structure, and having children, was vital to a nation.

Leftists today haven’t even learned that lesson. Isn’t that sad?

But the Leftists of today have decided that abortion is a “right” — one that supersedes the freedom of religion (such as Catholic hospitals being forced to perform them), freedom of speech (holding a placard advocating prayer or adoption is banned within X-feet of an abortionist), and basic standards of operating theater cleanliness.

What does one call a group who are hip deep in blood and want to go deep sea diving in even more blood? “Witches” is a good summary, don’t you think?

But Wright wants to go deeper.

the essential nature of a witch, as she was portrayed in fairy tales (which contain a good deal more sense than newspapers) was of a withered, childless spinster: a woman with nothing to offer the community, but whom age and curiosity had opened the secret properties of plants and stars and other things easily turned to venom.

Welcome to Leftism. The motto seems to be “let’s take anything good and pure” and turn it toxic.

After all, Maleficent cannot be an evil psychotic killer who will take deadly retribution over minor slights; she must be rewritten with a backstory to make her the heroine.

Gaston and his henchman cannot be Alpha and lackey in the latest Beauty and the Beast film — there must now be a homosexual component.

Don’t even get me started on those who framed Samwise and Frodo’s relationship as gay. Or Holmes and Watson. Or Archie Goodwin and Nero Wolfe. Or Bert and Ernie. Because good, pure, simple friendships can’t exist in their world, it must be sexual, because sex is everything, right? I haven’t seen Lord Peter Wimsey and Bunter yet, but give it time, I’m sure.

Should we even discuss the freaks on parade as of late? I refuse to call them Civil Rights protesters — sorry, that’s Martin Luther King leading a parade of people wearing their Sunday finest who just wanted to join the main stream. And be it the Occupy rioters living like animals and defecating in the streets and businesses of New York, or the “womyn” in gynecological garb wandering around in January 2017, these people very clearly don’t like “mainstream.” They want the mainstream to accept THEM, condone, bless, and accept whatever the BS du jour is. They don’t seem to want simple toleration, since “toleration” means to put up with something abhorrent to you. Apathy is not allowed — you will be made to care. You will be made to accept and bless it, and kneel before whatever bull is being force fed you, the culture, and there are lawyers for those who won’t bow down. Just try to be a Christian baker and tell me how that works for you.

And no, for those snickering twits on the internet, there isn’t a mystical, black-helicopter “they.” They’re in plain sight, after all. Marching in the circus garb they call “a statement,” when it’s really more like a thousand clowns.

Witches subvert. Witches turn things that are good and pure into poison. They turn children into child sacrifice. They turn the anti-abortion feminism of Susan B. Anthony into genitalia on parade. They turn Christian Charity into entitlement programs to buy votes. They promise a great society and deliver a broken culture and destroyed families.

Leftism has its own altars in the abortion clinic, and its own sacrifices called children. They have their own public displays of faith called riots, only disguised as “protests.”

Leftism. Witchcraft. Subversion. Alinsky. Same Stuff, Different Decade.