Friday, July 8, 2016

History's Crooked Line...

Science fiction writers dream of future worlds where petty feuds and national boundaries have been erased by the tide of human evolution, where the planet Earth stands as one in a brave and noble quest to explore the universe.  When the world was younger, we had our dreams.  And, hopes.

Today, it seems, the dream withers and humanity seems to be receding backwards into darkness, rather than forward into light.

The European Union was a dream.  For some of us, the first step towards a United States of Europe.  Of the world, perhaps.  But, fear, selfishness, tribalism, cynicism and feelings of alienation triumphed over the newer human qualities of hope and idealism.  Reversion to fear and anger killed at least  part of that dream when England, to the shock of the world, withdrew from the E.U.

Some blame the failure on bigotry; the same fear of the outsider, of the stranger who is different from you and me, the primal fear in all of us that drives police bullets into black suspects (and now, perhaps the reverse) and fuels Donald Trump's wall-building frenzy.  Trump builds walls against Mexicans and Muslims, the Israelis build walls against Palestinians.  Now, the English want to build walls against all foreigners.  Walls are going up all over.  Is it just bigotry?

Partly.  But, others blame elitism.  Decades of the rich and the powerful ignoring the working class. There's truth in that. What we are seeing now, worldwide is in many ways a worker's revolt.  Sad, that all that unfocused anger, festering for so long had to find its focus in the blind hatred of the outsider.

So, is this the end of the dream?  Has humanity made the final U-turn?  We are never to stand as one in reaching for the stars, but only cower behind our damned walls, fearing foreigners and killing each other, ultimately turning not outward to new frontiers, but inward to the caves?

Maybe.  But, then again, it would be na├»ve to expect human progress to be a straight line from the caves to the stars.  It never has been.  History has always been a crooked line.  There have always been great rises and falls.  Advances followed by grave disappointments.  The dream of a United States of America was delayed, after all, by a civil war fueled by both economic conflict and racism.  Many would contend the former eclipsed the latter.  America simply had to unite, in spite of its divisive racial hatreds and fears, because larger forces demanded it.  And after re-unification, the dream and the struggle continued, and still continues today, through all the senseless hatred and violence.  The line is crooked yes, but it does seem to move forward, however haltingly.  The same may yet prove true in Europe and elsewhere.  Only time will tell.

Perhaps today's sad failure will be tomorrow's wake-up call.  Perhaps a house divided against itself truly cannot stand.  Maybe it took something like this to wake the world up to the fact that elitism is not the road to the future.  The workers must have a hand in the future they are called upon to build.  A truly united Europe...or ultimately a united Earth... must be one that includes the votes and voices of the common people.  But, for that to happen, education must take the next generation beyond its tribal fears and isolationist instincts.  The vote to exit the E.U. was largely a vote of the old over the objections of the young.  The last gasp of a dying generation?  We'll see.  Where there's life, there's hope.

Lessons learned, and tomorrow's another day.  Maybe.

Monday, June 20, 2016

A Visit with Sloane Taylor



Sloane Taylor hosts my SCIENCE FICTION guest post on her fine blog:

Sweet as Honey...Hotter Than Hell!

Check it out:

http://sloanetaylor.blogspot.com/2016/06/new-release-for-thomas-olbert.html

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Divided in Crisis

http://mochamemoirspress.com/products/sf/

 
 Science fiction delves into the darkness of the human soul.  It also speculates on how societies present and future may react to extreme crisis, up to and including the apocalypse.  History teaches us that societies in real life often unite in times of crisis.  After the 9/11 attacks, our society certainly united, in common hatred for the common enemy.
But, it would seem it takes an attack on the entire society to elicit such a visceral feeling of tribal unity.  Attacks against carefully selected sub-sections of society do not seem to elicit unity.  Quite the opposite.
Orlando, Florida.  The most recent mass shooting in what is becoming a darkly monotonous parade of senseless death did little or nothing in unifying society.  Perhaps because segments of the public saw different faces of evil when looking at the carnage.  The LGBT community saw hatred directed against them.  Right-wing politicians saw an opportunity to strike terror into the collective consciousness of the public by raising the devil of Islamic Radicalism and reiterating mad cries for closing the doors of the land of opportunity to anyone who prays to Allah.  Other right wing politicians used the opportunity to stoke the fires of the culture wars by suggesting that the patrons of a gay night club simply "reaped what they'd sown."  As usual, the obvious question of gun control was raised, and as usual, still more right-wing politicians kow-towed to the gun lobby in blocking substantial progress on the issue.
The usual arguments and counter-arguments were raised. On one side:  Why was a man on a terror watch-list able to purchase an assault rifle?  For that matter, why is anyone able to purchase an assault rifle?  On the other side:  Why weren't the patrons of the night club armed with assault rifles?  (Yeah, those right-wingers in North Carolina would love that...gays with assault rifles.)
The right wing continues to hold the unlimited right to bear fire-arms as sacred while giving at best meagre lip service to the right to live, shrugging off mass shootings as an immutable fact of modern life while bemoaning abortion as murder.  (Say...if a gunman shot up a maternity ward instead of an abortion clinic, I wonder if the pro-lifers would picket the NRA?  Nah...they'd probably advocate arming the OBGYN staff.  And, the pregnant patients.)
No, unless the enemy hits us all at once, we will not unite against him.  We won't even agree on who he is.  Instead, we'll just use the selective attacks, the terminations with extreme prejudice as propaganda material for waging our private feuds and hateful slights, even before the bodies are cold.
Now, that's an effective strategy for any enemy of our society.  Attack the factions one by one, and watch them turn on each other.  "They came for the Jews, and I didn't protest because I wasn't a Jew.  Then, they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't protest..." Well, you know the rest.
http://www.phase5publishing.com/dissent
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Saturday, June 11, 2016

The long, hard trek of progress...

Science fiction tracks the millennial progress of future societies, following them into very strange places.

But, truth is stranger than fiction.  In real life, social progress moves at a crawl.  More than half a century has passed since the days of bus boycotts and struggles over segregated lunch counters, water fountains, public swimming pools and restrooms.  And, racism is still alive and well.  Laws may change, but the evolution of human cultures and mindsets is glacially slow.

Today, a new battle is being fought.  The players have changed, but it is still over something basic to everyday life.  Again, the battle for civil rights is waged in the dingy field of the rest room.  Again, conservative politicians in the American south are trying to pass a law making it a crime for certain people...certain people unwelcome for their differences...to share the same rest room as the other, more "normal", more valued members of society.

The proposed law, absurd on its face, would require transsexuals to use the rest room corresponding not with their identified gender, but with the gender listed on their birth certificate.  This law is not only impossible to enforce (short of having security guards check everyone's birth certificate upon entry) but impossible to obey.  Try to imagine transsexual men...who look like men, who wear beards, who wear male clothing and may even have post-operative male genitalia...using a women's rest room.  I'm guessing it wouldn't be popular.  Nor would transsexual women...who look like women, who wear dresses, nylons and high heels...using a men's rest room.  (Try to picture what would happen to them.)

The proponents of this law would have us believe it's about protecting the privacy and safety of women and girls who feel invaded by males entering "their" rest rooms.  (Just as white people may have felt similarly invaded.)  That's not a male next to you, Miss.  That's another female, whether you know it or not.  That, of course, is not the real issue.  The proposed law goes much further than that, in forbidding the passage of all forms of anti-discrimination law, not only affecting transsexuals, but gays and lesbians as well.  The law simply legalizes discrimination.  Not only in the rest room.  Not only at the lunch counter or swimming pool.  But, everywhere.

The fact this law comes on the heels of the Supreme Court's historic decision on marriage equality is no coincidence.  It's a retaliatory assault on the entire LGBT community.  An attack on the simple human dignity of those who are different, preying on fear and ignorance.  The cowardly bigots behind the law, as usual, cry "victim" and equate discrimination and alienation with religious freedom.

Lacking the advantage of time travel in real life, we can't see how this will play out in the future.  But, if recent events are any indication of the tide of history...In twenty or thirty years, this issue will have gone the way of racial segregation.  But, the ghosts of the past will, alas, linger for generations beyond that.  Fear of the unfamiliar and all the cruelty it spawns is ingrained in the human psyche.  It will take evolution, not revolution to change that. 

******


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http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dissent-thomas-olbert/1123585538?ean=9781942342892

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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Healing His Soul's Mate by Dominique Eastwick


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Join Dominique Eastwick as she celebrates her new Wiccan Haus release with a Rafflecopter Giveaway!

 



The babies are coming… the Wiccan Haus will never be the same.

 

Things are not as calm at the Wiccan Haus as they usually are. The impending birth of Dana and Rekkus’ cubs has everyone on edge. The last thing anyone wants or expects is a series of uninvited guests.

 

Ashlynn Stone hasn’t spoken to her sister Dana since she left for the Wiccan Haus over a year earlier. But when a fluke accident on the fashion runway forces her to seek the healing of the Wiccan Haus, she has no choice but to pack her bags and take the ferry to the island with her family in tow.

 

Shadedor has been sent to the Wiccan Haus to assess the situation. But he soon finds more than he expected. His soul mate in need of healing. Can he negotiate the issues of the Wiccan Haus and overcome the walls Ashlynn has built to protect herself.

 

As the Haus prepares for the biggest event since it opened, can the siblings find harmony and manage to do what they do best, heal those in need? Or is it too much for them to take?

 

Welcome back to the Wiccan Haus.

 

EXCERPT

He walked. This morning, he had been right next to her, and there had been constant contact. Now they would appear to anyone passing to be complete strangers. “You want to tell me what is going on?”

 

“We are attempting to remove all stress from your life in hopes of easing the headaches.”

 

“No, with you. If you would prefer to be elsewhere, I can go back to my room and lie down.”

 

He stopped. “There is nowhere I would rather be.”

 

“Then why are you acting like I have the plague? Was it the kiss earlier?”

 

“I overstepped my boundaries this morning. I should not have done so.”

 

“Do you regret it?”

 

“I am assisting the staff here in your healing. It is inappropriate for me to come on to you.”

 

“Are you on staff here?”

 

“No.”

 

“That settles it.” She smiled. Closing the distance between them, she wrapped her arms around his neck. “I do not know what is going on, but I do know my pain and fears ease when you are near. I don’t claim to understand how you discern all you do, but I am starting to see things here aren’t always black and white, and sometimes I have to have faith and trust.”

 

After a brief second of him standing as still as a statue and her wondering if she read too much into this morning’s embrace, he relaxed. His arms snaked around her, pulling her against his hard body. His mouth came down on hers begging her to open for him, demanding she submit to his kiss. She might have started this dance, but he would damned well be leading it.


RAFFLECOPTER through  May 26th

 



Award-Winning author Dominique Eastwick currently calls North Carolina home with her husband, two children, one crazy lab and one lazy cat. Dominique spent much of her early life moving from state to state as a Navy Brat. Because of that, traveling is one of her favorite pasttimes. When not writing you can find Dominique with her second love…her camera.

 

Learn more about Dominique Eastwick on her website, blog, and Amazon author page. Be sure to join her Newsletter for up to the minute info on new releases, contests, and more.

 

Stay connected on Twitter, Tublr, Tsu, and Pinterest.

 

 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Science Fiction thriller Dissent is now on sale

Dissent:  Book I in the Nexus series







Witness a galactic empire of women

Witness a cosmic supercomputer with designs of creating a new human race

Witness a race of world-builders who can manipulate time and space across billions of years

Visit genetically engineered worlds where people can fly and live underwater, where combat to the death brings forth new life.


In the galactic empire of Kalthaar, a race of women battle for control of entire star systems.  A rigid caste system based on irreconcilable values divide a galaxy.

In the midst of interstellar war and political intrigue, an impossible love between two courageous women from two castes forbidden to interact leads to a daring alliance and a desperate effort to save a dying world.

Phase 5's Website Link
 
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Review: Dissent - Book I in the Nexus series

Read an in-depth review of my new science fiction thriller Dissent:  Book I of the Nexus series:


http://www.rabidreaders.com/2016/04/01/dissent-book-i-of-the-nexus-by-thomas-olbert/?utm_content=buffer7df40&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer