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Savage Survival

 

Darrell Bain's Monthly Blog - October 2010

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Bainstorming: Darrell's Bain's Monthly Blog.
Copyright © October 2010, By Darrell Bain
http://www.darrellbain.com

Responses to subjects brought up by this blog are welcome. I can be contacted by e-mailing me from my website.

Subjects this month: Baked Fried Pies, Poverty, Author royalties vs. used books, Fever, Tonto, Truck, Progress report.

Baked fried pies

I know that sounds silly, doesn’t it? How can a baked fried pie be possible? It really isn’t, we just named them that. Anyone who hasn’t tasted real southern fried pies has missed a culinary treat. They consist of flaky dough wrapped around cooked, sugared fruit and then deep fat fried. You can find something in grocery stores that’s called fried pies but they don’t hold a candle to the real ones. The only drawback to the original version is that they are so fattening. But boy, are they good. When Betty and I got to the stage of our lives where we began to have to watch our diets Betty came up with the idea of making the fired pies just like the originals but baking them instead of deep fat frying them. This the name: Baked fried pies. Are they good? You bet! Betty is making a batch of them right now and my mouth is watering. They are almost as good as if they were fried. Some days I think they are just as good. They are probably still kinda fattening but you only live once and this is as good a compromise as possible. I can smell them cooking! Yummie!

Poverty

I guess everyone has seen the newest report on how many of our citizens are living in “poverty”. Folks, most Americans have no idea what real poverty is. Our idea of poverty for a family of four is an income of under $22,000 dollars. Granted, you’re not going to live high on the hog with that kind of money but you can get along. You just don’t have as many luxuries as most people who earn more money. I’ve seen real poverty. Kids with their ribs sticking out. Old people and cripples living on the street and begging for pennies. Now that’s poverty. Here in America we give “poor” people food stamps. These vouchers aren’t just for staple foods. You can also buy soft drinks, candy, cookies, snack crackers, ice cream and a host of other foods that I could only dream about when I was a kid. And I see those items being purchased all the time with food stamps.

When I was a teenager I thought nothing at all of going to the Good Will and shopping for clothes. Heck, they wore just as good as new ones for the most part and hardly anyone knew the difference.

And think about this: when was the last time you saw anyone starving in this country other than as deliberate abuse of kids by parents or stepparents. Rarely if ever. Right? Now go to India. Or Africa, especially. You can find all kinds of starving people. They have no social supportive net at all the way we do. Probably there are a couple of billion people in the world right now who would feel as if they were living like kings if they could have what our “poverty” population does.

Author Royalties vs. used books

When most of us buy used books we rarely think of the authors and how they depend on royalties from sales to earn a living. Authors do not receive a dime for a used book sale. I know I would love it if all my books were bought as new and I got a royalty every time but it doesn’t work that way. Many, many people simply can’t afford to buy new books. Those authors who complain about loss of income from not receiving royalties on used book sales forget that. I’d rather see someone read one of my used book that they can afford than not read it at all because it costs too much for them new! When it comes to my own reading Betty and I are able to afford new books from our favorite authors but there’s no way all the books we purchase can be new. We’d be I the poorhouse because we read so much. Personally, I wish there was some way for authors to get at lest a little money from a used book sale but suppose there isn’t. One thing about ebooks is that even though the prices are generally lower than print books, you can’t loan most of them. There are exceptions even to that, though. I can’t help wondering what the market will be like when fiction ebooks comprise half the market. That day is rapidly approaching. Barnes and Noble alone expects to sell a billion dollars in ebooks in 2013, only a little over two years away!

Fever

I had another episode of that strange fever, muscle aches and chills but it only lasted a day this time. I guess if it recurs and goes on for a week like it did a few months ago I’ll start worrying more. For now I’m going to ignore it.

Tonto

Tonto hasn’t been up to anything really unusual lately. He has gone out to play with the wild rabbits again, though. We wonder what goes through his feeble little mind when he sees them. Does he think they’re a strange sort of dog that lives in the woods?

I was complaining about having to walk through Tonto when he parks in a doorway and just looks up at you when you’re trying to pass. Betty said I should try going out to the raised bed garden with a garden hose running water. She says it’s like being in the middle of a cobra and mongoose fight!

Oh, yes--our daughter and son-in-law live right nearby. They recently acquired a dog, a mixed Chihuahua and Terrier. He comes over now and then but Tonto doesn’t bark at him. He just stares. Rascal does pee on the truck when Tonto is inside, though. Then when Tonto goes outside, he stands and barks hysterically at the truck for five solid minutes. Obviously he’s smart enough to know the truck can’t bite!

Truck

La Truka, our twenty six year old Toyota truck promised to be good and start shifting again if we wouldn’t trade her in for another vehicle. We said okay but no more fooling around getting stuck in low gear. So far, so good. You have to be stern with those old vehicles.

Progress report

I just completed a collaboration with Tony Teora which has gone to our publisher. The title is Alien Enigma. I reported working on this novel several times under different titles including The Bolt Cluster Enigma but Alien Enigma is the title it will be published under. Look for it sometime this month in both ebook and print versions.

Now I have two ventures underway. One is a non-fiction book I’ve been wanting to write for a long time and finally decided to get started on it. Many of my readers, of both my books and my blog Bainstorming, have surely noticed that I do a good bit of political commentary. This book, for which I already have an offer of publication based on the little that I’ve done so far, will cover a lot of the subjects I’ve commented on in short segments, but will go into much more detail. More on this book in future editions of Bainstorming.

The other book I’ve begun is a science fiction novel that takes place on earth. Lately I’ve written a lot of military science fiction and gotten away from the type of present day suspense/thriller/science fiction I’ve done in the past so successfully like Alien Infection and Strange Valley and The Sex Gates. This book, tentatively titled Apertures, is in that class of novel and will begin with 18 year old twins, male and female, who become involved in out of this world experiences while on a pre-college vacation trip with their parents. More on this book later as well.

Twilight Times, one of my publishers, will soon be bringing out a non-fiction anthology How I Wrote My First Book. It is by a number of authors who describe how they wrote their first complete book. My experiences with my first book are included.

The Cresperian Alliance is now out in print. It is the final book of the Cresperian Trilogy, begun with Human by Choice, written with Travis S. Taylor. The Y Factor and The Cresperian Alliance were both written with Stephanie Osborne. Available at Amazon, B&N, bookstores and in the ebook version at all the regular ebook stores.

And finally, a  pleasant surprise. My All Time Favorite Science Fiction Novels was published at Fictionwise just two weeks ago and is already my best selling book there and is number thirty-five on the Fictionwise best selling science fiction. Not bad for a 16,000 word article!

Book Report

Dead Sleep by Greg Isles takes a professional female war photographer into the mystery of paintings of women who look to be dead. The paintings are also a key to her past and her missing and presumed dead father. When the FBI enters the picture she is recruited to help track down the perpetuator of the paintings. Again, Greg Isles turns out an extremely good book. He is a very talented writer.

WWW.Watch by Robert J. Sawyer is the second novel in a trilogy. I reported on the first one last month where a blind girl who learns to see through some technical expertise and a software program also has been using the internet while blind for so long that she is able to “see” it when the software package allowing her to see is activated. This enables her to help an emerging internet intelligence reach its potential. But now the NSA is using every means at its disposal to kill the internet entity, thinking of it as a threat. Betty and I are both reading this trilogy and we’re eagerly awaiting the next and last book.

Three Hearts and Three Lions by Poul Anderson is probably closer to fantasy than science fiction. Normally, I’m not much for fantasy but this one is a really great read! A man is thrown into another world by being involved in a crisis situation--and arrives with a magnificent war horse and suit of armor ready for him. It turns out that there’s a crisis in this land as well and he’s been called to solve it by magical forces. A beautiful
Swan-May and a helpful dwarf assist him in his quest for the Magical Sword of Cortana. Now I know this sounds like any other sword and sorcery tale but believe me, it isn’t. Poul Anderson was one of the greats of science fiction and this rare foray into fantasy turned out to be one of his best books. I have read it about 20 times if that gives you any idea. It is also listed in my book, My All Time Favorite Science Fiction Novels, just now available in most ebook stores!

David Brin wrote six novels in his uplift series. The first three are stand alone novels. The third, The Uplift War, is a really wonderful science fiction novel written at the height of Brin’s career. It is a novel of a colony world populated mostly by uplifted chimpanzees with their human patrons there only for guidance in furthering their uplift. When the planet is invaded by a powerful clan of galactic aliens, it’s up to the chimpanzees to win their planet back, with a little help from a few selected humans and a couple of extraterrestrial friends. The action keeps the reader on the edge of the seat throughout the adventures of chimpanzees battling the eetees even though they’re not supposed to even be on the same playing field.

The High King of Montival by S.M. Stirling continues the long series of The Change, encompassing about a dozen books so far. Amazingly, Stirling has managed to keep the series interesting and entertaining for all this time and in the process gradually precede to what we all thought was a science fiction series into something much more resembling fantasy now. Usually I’m not much for fantasy but this series continues to hold me enthralled. In The High King of Montival, Rudi has succeeded in his quest to obtain The Sword of the Lady and now he and his cohorts must travel back across the changed America where chemical reactions no longer work and civilization has slipped back to something resembling medieval times. Rudi and his group need to arrive back on the Pacific coast in time to prevent their mortal enemies from winning the biggest war seen since The Change. As usual, Stirling is great at describing how things work in the changed world and at the everyday aspects of life even when fighting a war. A great series, but I sort of hope he ends it soon. Oh yes, in this book something happens readers have been waiting for. I won’t tell you what, though.

Computer Crash

This month’s issue of Bainstorming is a bit shorter than usual. A virus caused me to have to completely purge my computer and begin all over. I did have most of it on a backup but it took four days to get my computer fixed and I did lose the last segment I had yet to back up and I don‘t have time now to re-create it.

 

Excerpt fromThe Cresperian Alliance (The final novel of the Cresperian Trilogy)

 

Prologue

            Gracie Learer knew she wasn’t going to get out of this one alive. The British patrol had finally run her to ground and was rapidly closing off every exit from the tiny valley she was hiding in. Besides, it wasn’t that far from the disguised old farmhouse that concealed a warren of secret tunnels and rooms beneath it where the aliens were being held.
            I suppose I could surrender, she thought, but it was just idle musing while she waited. She knew if they took her alive she would never return home anyway, and almost certainly undergo a professionally thorough wringing out by their security goons before her body was disposed off. No, surrender really wasn’t an option. They weren’t going to get anything out of her except a very dead body. She had already made sure of that.
            She chuckled to herself. The damned idiots had been so busy trying to capture her after her discovery that they’d failed to blind the area to satellite communications. She glanced at her phone. It was blinking. Good. Everything she had was now encrypted and uploaded to a National Security Agency satellite. She dug a hole in the moist earth and buried the phone, then covered it and spread loose sod and grass over the place until it looked just like the rest of the ground in the area. She moved several body lengths away from the buried phone, crawling on her belly and getting the jacket and trousers of her business suit soaked and scored with grass stains. As if that was going to matter.
            With the data uploaded and the phone hidden just to be on the safe side, there was nothing left for her to do except wait. She couldn’t keep her mind still, though. Great Britain – specifically Scotland – was one of the sites where the Cresperian lifeboats had landed after their spaceship was destroyed by accident. The lifeboat in question had been found by four locals, and contained three Cresperians. They’d promptly taken them in and cared for them – There’s something to be said for the old tales of faerie, she thought – and reported the incident to the local authorities.
The local authorities, unfortunately, had passed the information up the chain of command, not knowing what else to do. It hadn’t been long before the British version of men in black had descended on the rural area, and the aliens had been “taken into custody for public safety.”
Their politicians took over then, and kept those three aliens, Crispies they were called, captive and forced them to use their perceptive senses to enhance their bodies and stop the aging process. What technology they were able to derive from them was apparently only the second priority. She had learned all this by insinuating herself into the bed of Jerome Williams, the Home Secretary. It hadn’t been pleasant – he was obese, with crooked teeth, bad breath and a worse complexion, and he was absolutely the worst lover she’d ever had – but it had succeeded: Eventually he trusted her enough to ask if she wanted a little enhancement herself. Not understanding exactly what it might entail made her balk and eventually caused Williams to become suspicious. Events had taken their normal course after that and now here she was, lying on her stomach amidst highland brush and waiting for the security goons to close in, knowing she wasn’t going to be walking away from this one.
            She checked her Beretta once more, just for something to do to pass what little time remained to her. One full clip and a partial. And she was a damn good shot. Enough to take a few of them with her, she hoped. Ah, well, it had been a good life, mostly. No complaints there, but it would have been nice to see how it all worked out with the aliens on Earth and mankind on its way to the stars. No such luck, though. She’d never know.
Sounds of brush cracking and voices speaking in low guttural tones came closer. She gripped the Beretta and waited.
            “Now!” a voice shouted.
            Shit! Wouldn’t you know it? They’d worked in among the boulders above her, too. She rolled over onto her back and fired two shots into the rocks at an exposed figure. The man crumpled, then slid off the ledge and landed nearby with a soft thud. By the time she turned back to face the others they were upon her. She emptied the clip in her gun before she died but never loaded the other one.

Darrell Bain
Shepherd, Texas
October 2010

 

 

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