Thursday, May 31, 2012

Free eBook: Mushroom Town by British Author Oliver Onions is a Powerful Novel That Will Reward the Patient Reader


In today’s world where Twitter message are considered meaningful communications, is it possible that many people are reading the likes of British author OLIVER ONIONS? I doubt it.

This novel, Mushroom Town, is like the ultimate “Anti-Twitter Experience.” Lengthy; heavily descriptive; loaded with deeply developed metaphors, zillions of digressions for allusions and observations; in-depth character development – you know – great literature.

Published in 1914, Mushroom Town reveals a powerful writer at the height of his skills. Mr. Onions published more than 40 novels. Oh, by the way, certainly “Oliver Onions” must be a pen name, right?

No! It’s his real name – George Oliver Onions. Interestingly, he later legally changed his name to George Oliver in 1918 (gee, I wonder why), as which point his real name became his pen name.

What Mushroom Town Is About

The setting of Mushroom Town is the tiny fictional hamlet Llanyglo, Wales. The time is the early 1880s. Llanyglo is little more than a few merchant shops, three tiny churches and some scattered dry-scrabble farms. But the tiny town has an ideal location next to the ocean, and potentially a terrific beach for water recreation of all kinds.

Llanyglo catches the attention of Edward Garden, a shrewd, well-to-do English businessman. He initially brings his family to spend two weeks in a seaside cabin to bolster the failing health of his 9-year-old daughter.

However, Mr. Garden knows a secret about Llanyglo – he has inside information about a new rail line that will soon be laid down and pass very near the hamlet – which means that, for the first time, this once remote, inconsequential region will suddenly have easy two-way access to the bigger cities of England, such as Manchester and Liverpool.

Mr. Garden recognizes the potential to transform tiny Llanyglo into a resort town – it’s an ideal, peaceful and lovely get-away by the sea for the bone-weary residents of England’s grimy, coal-dusted cities of the north. Thus the title, Mushroom Town.

So little Llanyglo “mushrooms” in just a decade from a sleepy backwater town to an energized, thriving, crowded tourist destination with gigantic new hotels, tourist shops, a Ferris wheel, lamp-lighted pavilions, a magnificent boardwalk pier that thrusts out into the ocean, and which is bordered by fancy restaurants.

Against this backdrop is played out a clash of cultures – the backwards, kind, rural and simple people of rural Wales are confronted with shocking quickness the invasion of the Saxon English who bring their big money, big-city ways and big demands to Llanyglo.

Although I said character development is strong, there really is no viewpoint character in Mushroom Town. The hamlet of Llanyglo itself and its culture are the primary characters. The tumultuous events surrounding the urban transformation of the town are what drives the narrative.

Should You Read It?

I have always said that those who want to find a powerful experience through literature must give as much as they receive from a significant piece of writing. Certainly, a book such as this one will try the patience of modern readers – but you have to remember that long, plodding paragraphs and whole chapter filled with description and no action was the style for late 19th and early 20th Century writers.

However, if you settle in and read slowly and patiently, Mushroom Town will seep into your bones and vividly transport you to late 1800s Wales – it may be the next best thing to actually stepping into a time machine and going there for real. You’ll experience a simpler times in a blissful rural, mountainous region next to a sparkling ocean – a time before hyper-capitalism, crass commercialism and shallow tourism despoiled something once natural, earthy and beautiful.

The last segment of the book affected me deeply. In the final 100 pages, or so, Mr. Onions paints for us a powerfully tragic love story between a wealthy young Englishman and a penniless Welsh gypsy woman – two people from entirely different worlds, cultures and classes – whose different circumstances will almost certainly doom their love – or will it?

The love story between a wealthy Brit and a gypsy (the latter at the bottom of the caste even among the Welsh as compared to the English of those times) serves as an amazing metaphor which captures the plight of Llanyglo not as a mere phenomenon of sociology, but as an event with implications for the very soul of humanity itself.

People, have no doubt: Oliver Onions was a major literary talent. His work deserves as much readership today as do some of his contemporaries, such as E.M. Forester, Thomas Hardy and W. Somerset Maugham.

Ken Korczak is the author of: THE FAIRY REDEMPTION OF JUBAL CRANCH

Friday, May 25, 2012

Free Cordwainer Smith Kindle ebook: "The Game of Rat and Dragon" Marvelous!


CORDWAINER SMITH was more than a science fiction writer in many ways. His writing is a strangely shimmering, stand-out phenomenon within a genre that prides itself on innovation and creativity. His style was not only strikingly distinctive, but at once weirdly disturbing yet enchanting. Behind every story, the reader could sense a larger, fully envisioned fictional universe – which indeed there was.

Smith wasn’t only a science fiction writer – in fact, this was merely a minor, part-time hobby for him. His real name was Dr. Paul Linebarger. He was a Ph.D. scholar of Eastern Asian studies, and a deep government insider. Smith, or Linebarger, was known to be an expert in propaganda. His book, “PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE” published in 1948 is considered a classic in the field.

Cordwainer Smith came to the attention of the science fiction community when he published his short story, “Scanners Live in Vain” in an obscure publication, Fantasy Book, in 1950. It created a sensation, if not among a lot of reader, but within the community of science fiction elites. Great writers and editors, especially Frederick Pohl, recognized “Scanners” as a work of genius.

Scanners Live In Vain” also set off a something of a vexing mystery among the science fiction insiders. Who was he? Cordwainer Smith was obviously a pen name. Many believed he was – must be! -- one of the old masters. Among the most popular theories was that Cordwainer Smith might be Jack Vance. Of course, the reality turned out to be even more interesting.

So -- this free Kindle ebook (AND AVAILABLE HERE FREE IN MOST FORMATS), The Game of Rat and Dragon, is a short story which is a superb introduction to the charm and intelligence of this enigmatic writer. It’s a far, far future tale in which space travelers have developed an extremely peculiar method of interstellar space travel that requires the use of cats. Smith was known to be an ardent cat owner and lover (before it was universally cool).

Hope you love it as much as I did.

Ken Korczak is the author of: THE FAIRY REDEMPTION OF JUBAL CRANCH

Stay Safe Crime Maps series for Kindle by Michael Gard will show you quickly the "bad parts of town" so you can avoid them if you want to


San Francisco is one of the most interesting, cultured and exciting cities in the United States, and it attracts millions of tourists per year. But like all major cities, it has a dark side - areas or neighborhoods with higher crime rates than others.

The first-time visitor may naturally be wondering where the "good parts' of town are, and which are the "bad." You could ask around when you get there, or maybe do a bit of research beforehand - but maybe there is a faster, easier way to get a head's up.

Michael Gard has stepped in with a quick and convenient solution which leverages the Amazon Kindle. His "STAY SAFE CRIME MAP IN SAN FRANCISCO" is formatted for the Kindle and provides maps of the entire city with those "problematic" areas shaded in with a diagonal cross-hatch pattern.

So this is basically a series of 11 maps, including a key map page, which very quickly and easily shows the reader which sections of the city tend to experience higher crimes. I was viewing this document on my bottom-of-the-line Kindle 6" black-n-white screen. The streets and names are tiny and somewhat difficult to read, but overall, practical enough. This set of "Crime Maps" will obviously be better viewed with larger devices with larger screens, and color.

Gard also offers some crime tips, and shows some sensitivity in suggesting that the purpose of his document is to not show where the "ghettos" are. He writes: "By no means are all such zones ghettos." Rather, he is simply suggesting that it doesn't hurt to know, based on his research, where crime is more likely to occur in San Francisco so that you can avoid those areas if you want to.

I can find no fault with what he's trying to do here. This is a high-quality document which seeks to serve a need and provide people with useful information.

Ken Korczak is the author of: SECRETS OF A GRANT WRITER, an ebook which reveals inside information Ken learned while working inside and outside the government as a grant writing specialist. Improve your chances of getting a government grant -- before you waste any more time, read this ebook to bolster your chance of getting a government or private foundation grant.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Gutenberg the Greek: An short, short Kindle Single probably worth 99 cents


He died more than 500 years ago, but I can't tell you how much I have been thinking about JOHANN GUTENBERG in recent years. That's because I started my career as a newspaper reporter, meaning I was a print journalist, emphasis on print - and then the Internet happened - and KER-BLAM! - my universe changed.

After leaving newspapers I became a freelancer and I have been writing books, mostly as a ghostwriter, for the past 25 years - that means paper-and-ink books for lots of clients, and - KER-BLAM AGAIN! - the Internet shifted the earth beneath my feet.

That's why this short (very short) Kindle Single by JEFF JARVIS is such a timely read, especially for guys like me. Although Jarvis is by far not the first to compare Gutenberg's press to the Internet revolution of today, it cuts to the bone for those who are struggling to make the adjustment from the "Old World" of paper-and-ink to the "New World' of electronic publishing.

Think about all those scribes centuries ago who were creating books one at a time by hand, painstakingly lettering in every word. Suddenly the mechanical printing press comes along and it's, "See ya later, man. You no longer have a job!" Just like that.

Tens of thousands of newspaper folks have heard the same line in just the past few years thanks to that new kind of "press" - the Internet. Just as Gutenberg's innovation wiped out publishing as it had been known for centuries, the internet is convulsing the industry today. (Not to mention what has happened to the United States Post Office).

It's painful, but change is inevitable. When Gutenberg's financier, Johann Fust, took his first load of printed Bible's to sell in Paris, he was run out of town by local booksellers and the scribe guilds because they said no man could possibly have that many books without the "help of the devil himself." But the scribes probably also realized that their profession was doomed thanks to Gutenberg's and Fust's fancy new invention.

By the same token, newspaper professionals today are decrying the "unfair competition" from online news providers, many of them who are giving away news for free - and not only that - they are largely swiping it from the traditional media in the first place. Consider Huffington Post, for example. It is what is called an aggregate news disseminator, meaning it is scanning all media everywhere, pulling a quote and providing a link back to the originator of the news. This is great for HuffPo because they don't have to pay any reporters or writers to do all the hard work. It gets its web site stuffed with everyone else's news for free, yet they profit by selling advertising, keeping the cash for a product that basically somebody else created for them. HuffPo claims they are doing those whom they "borrow" from a favor because they are driving traffic back to their sites.

Sites like HuffPo also have armies of slave labor - what they call "citizen journalists" who are eager to work for free in exchange for "exposure" - even if that exposure probably will never translate into any cash for the writer, now or ever.

But, you know what? That's change. In change there is both opportunity and danger, pain and growth. There will also be winners and losers - and probably a lot more losers at first, and for some time to come.

Just like the printing revolution of the mid-1400s, there is no going back. The invention of the printing press is among the most significant events in all of human history, perhaps second only to the invention of writing itself, and the invention of agriculture. Yes, it was that significant. And today, the emergence of the Internet is on par with that! Believe it. The switch from a print dominated media to an Internet (and broadcast) media is equally as paradigm shattering as was the printing press.

Jarvis has also compared Johann Gutenberg to guys like Steve Jobs of Apple, Elon Musk of PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX, and others. The comparison is apt and striking, both in broad scope and in the details of how Gutenberg conducted his business. He wasn't just an inventor -- he was an entrepreneur -- and more so of the latter than the former.

I could go on -- but, well, I've already digressed enough for what is supposed to be a simple review. This short (about 6,000 words and 20-minute read) is probably worth the 99 cents. It serves as a jumping off point for discussion of an issue that is endlessly complex and but frightfully meaningful for all of us today.

Ken Korczak is the author of: THE MAN IN THE NOTHING CHAMBER

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Eldridge Conspiracy by Stephen Ames Berry is a pulse-pumping manly man's science fiction thriller that will please conspiracy buffs, and others


Hey, it's time to step into the Man Cave for some sizzling science fiction red meat broiled over flaming coals soaked in testosterone fluid - all guaranteed to keep you turning pages faster than a well-oiled Uzi spewing metallic death into a crew of murderous Russian mercenaries!

Yea, verily, my friends, in these pages:

.357 Combat Magnums will explode heads and splatter brains;

Ice picks will be plunged with morbid glee into skulls;

Throats will be slit slowly, and blood will gush forth;

Samurai swords will hack off arms and heads;

Soldiers will be splattered with attack helicopter missiles, bursting their bellies and disgorging their entrails as they fall howling in agony over fortress walls;

-----> A sweet and petite craft artist will have her neck slowly twisted and snapped by a Super Nazi from the future! <------

A nice mommy (also an artist) will get tossed off a tall building;

A dagger will plunge into a dude's eyeball ...

Admittedly, some people will escape death after merely being punched, slapped, beaten, karate chopped, tortured or kicked in the groin - but have no fear. Those that escape with flesh wounds and bruises will soon be followed by others that have no chance of survival after a hollow-point slug obliterates their cranium like a honeydew melon.

But wait a minute ... at this point, I know what you're thinking of asking me, your reviewer: "Ken, will there be hot sex is this book?"


In The Eldridge Conspiracy you will be treated to scorching sex scenes that will pulsate your mojo to the Nth degree and leave you drained with literary orgasmic joy, and lusting for more!


Sex - check.

Death - check.

Now let's go for the triumvirate! FOOD!

I'm here to tell you, friends, that in this novel, the eatin' is flat-out rightious and proper-good - and I'm talkin' full course meals with all the fixins accompanied by selections of fine wines, ales, liquors, whiskeys coffees and teas!

You are invited to travel along with our characters as they nosh with unrestrained relish:

* Coq au vin served steaming and savory with garlic, onions and white wine sauce;

* A juicy sirloin complemented by a fine Bordeaux;

* Yummy clam chowder;

* A heavenly dish of chicken linguini with garlic and wine sauce, onion and hint of orange and basil;

* Chicken Marengo;

* Apple pie made with sweet and juicy apples baked with cinnamon sided with vanilla ice cream;

* Shepherd's pie;

* Rabbit;

* Boiled scrod;

* Blueberry muffins with steaming hot coffee ...

On only two occasions, as far as I can tell, is the food substandard for our heroes, such as when Jim and Dee endure a "somber lunch of soup and salad" and another occasion when Kaeko and Temmu glummly gulp down some rather greasy haddock in a run-of-the-mill seaside diner.

That's life.

The great thing about THE ELDRIDGE CONSPIRACY is that it's a stunning sensory smorgasbord -- pungent and redolent -- but never gratuitous. There's a decent science fiction plot here centering on an icon of conspiracy theorists - The Philadelphia Experiment. This was a supposed attempt by top government scientists in 1943 to render a Navy Destroyer, the USS Eldridge, invisible with some kind of spooky high-tech cloaking device based on quantum mechanics ka-ka.

A lot of fringe thinkers really believe it happened, but whatever. It makes a terrific premise for a sci-fi yarn. Author STEPHEN AMES BERRY takes what is essentially a formulaic genre novel -- and by dint of shear literary muscle -- makes it fresh, entertaining, thrilling and compelling.

Berry does an amazing job of presenting a raft of characters, every last one of which is vivid, real, likable or loathsome, and keeps all of their time-lines, actions, and interactions seamlessly melded -- we never get confused.

At the risking of stooping to prosaic usage: This is a really, really, really good read. If you're looking for a well-crafted page turner to devour on the beach this summer, look no further. I recommend this one.

Finally - sad to say - I'm afraid I must issue The Eldridge Conspiracy and the author my famous DWI citation. In this case, DWI stands for "Dead Wife Infraction." The author, Mr. Berry, came razor close to earning a one-star demerit for committing this DWI - but the overall strength of this book overcomes and lets him escape with a 5-star commendation.


In recent months I have read these books which have inflicted DWIs upon their readers:

"SEASON OF THE HARVEST" by Michael Hicks: Hero is a tough FBI agent with a dead wife.

"THE GIFT OF ILLUSION" by Richard Brown: Hero is a tough cop with a dead wife.

"A WORLD I NEVER MADE" by James LePore: Hero is a sad doofus with a dead wife. (Note that LePore DOUBLES DOWN!! Not only does the hero have a wife in the freezer, the hot, sexy French detective he falls in love with has a DEAD HUSBAND!! Woooo-hooooo!)

The "CHARLIE PARKER" thrillers by John Connolly: Tough private eye with a dead wife.

And that's just recently. Think about all the other characters from literature and film that have dead wives. Secret Agent 007, James Bond? Yes, he has a dead wife. The fictionalized version of Scottish warrior William Wallace? Has a dead wife. Mel Gibson's character in the Lethal Weapon films? Suffering from memory of his dead wife. Bobby Simone of famed TV show NYPD Blue? Tough New York cop with a dead wife. Leonardo DiCaprio's character in Inception. He's some kind of operative with a dead wife.

I could go on, and way on.

So, Stephen Ames Berry slips by with only a warning DWI citation (this time) by strength of having written an overall superior science fiction thriller.

My advice: Buy this book. It's great.

Ken Korczak is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Free ebook: Ingo Swann's "Penetration" is a delightful, tantalizing read that conspiracy buffs and fans of remote viewing will find fascinating


I can't remember a recent time when I was as delighted as I was when reading Chapter 2 of INGO SWANN'S often intelligent but mostly loony and squirrelly self-published book, PENETRATION. (GET THE FREE EBOOK HERE)

Swann is probably world famous for being "the father of remote viewing," a method once adopted by the CIA as part of its deep black project to create a team of psychic spies during the Cold War.

Swann's journey into the world of the bizarre began when he volunteered in 1971 to be a human guinea pig for an ESP research project at the Stanford Research Institute. He expected to be "used and tossed aside" after just a few weeks of being tested for telepathic ability. But apparently Swann displayed some genuine PSI moxy, and so was launched into a life-long journey that drew him into the frightening, clandestine world of CIA operatives, UFO research, conspiracy theories, and more.

Let me just say that the vast majority of this book is absolute baloney, specifically the many pages Swann uses to discuss his theory about a hidden agenda to keep the general public ignorant of alien activity on the moon, and his belief that the moon actually is a world with free-standing water, vegetation and a significant atmosphere. This is such unsupportable nonsense I am going to pass over it completely in this review.

Chapter 2 is what I want to talk about because it is not only amazing fun, but also strangely tantalizing and intriguing. Here Swann tells the tale of a time we was contacted by a "highly-placed functionary in Washington D.C." who told him to expect a phone call from a mysterious individual. Swann was to "do whatever he asked, and to ask no questions." Although he was nervous and fearful, Swann agreed to take the man's call.

But the call didn't come until four weeks later - and it came at three in the morning, jolting Swann out of his sleep. Then a series of events followed that could be taken straight from a Hollywood spy movie: Swann was ordered to go to the Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. He was met there by two contacts who whisked him away in a car, put a hood over his head, flew him by helicopter to an unknown location, where he entered a building with an elevator that took him deep underground (or so it seemed to him).

In a small room in this underground base, Swann is then asked to use his remote viewing skills to probe certain coordinates on Earth's moon. Swann is stunned when his psionic mind perceptions reveal to him a robust alien operation of some sort on the moon, complete with large building structures and humanoid aliens who appear to be engaged in a mining operation.

What's odd is that the spies seem to already know about the alien moon base. The spooks pay Swann $1,000 a day, and after two or three days, send him home with dire warning to say absolutely nothing of the whole adventure for 10 years.

Did it really happen? Famous skeptic and debunkers, such as James Randi and others, have called Swann "the cleverest of the clever" when it comes to faking paranormal abilities. But the skeptics also tend to be close-minded to a fault. For me, reading Swann's account of his encounters with the "spookiest spooks" has a tantalizing ring of truth - and yet - it is extremely difficult for me to ignore what clearly seems to be a homoerotic fantasy.


* The title of this book is "Penetration." Any Freudian worth his salt would have a field day with the sexually charged and suggestive nature of this word.

* The "handlers" who meet Swann at the Washington museum are two men who appear to be twins and who are extremely handsome. Swann describes them as looking like "fashion models" and also as "tallish," and "hunky." He said they had "burning green eyes."

* Later when at the underground base, Swann is allowed some R&R time between his remote viewing work -- and lo! -- he gets to spend this time in a gym and pool with his two hunky body guards.

* During his work out with the gorgeous twins, Swann notes that when they take their shirts off they are, in his words, "built like brick shit houses." He also says he "could not help but notice" the bulges in their shorts which reveal that one of the twins was more well-endowed than the other, making him muse that perhaps they were not twins after all.

* Then, back at his remote viewing work, Swann is able to receive psionic visions of humanoid aliens working on the moon. And guess what? Well, by golly, they just happen to be not only "all males" but all males that are naked! Or as Ingo described them - "they were butt naked."

* I should also mention that when Swann was waiting to be picked up at the museum in Washington, he was keen to view some large specimens of minerals and crystals on display there, one of which was "three feet long" and "egg-sized precious gems" the like of which he says had "turned him on for years."

Now the question for those of you who may know anything about Ingo Swann is this: Is he gay? Yes, it seems that Mr. Swann is gay - at the very least, that's how many others have described him after meeting him or when discussing his adventures.

So here we have a perfectly nice, obviously highly intelligent guy, who happens to have tested well in ESP ability by top scientists at Stanford, who happens to be gay, who has an amazing story to tell about interaction with agents of the supreme deep cover variety - yet, the scenario is replete with homoerotic elements.

What does it all mean? Hmmmmmm. Who knows.

The tone of the other chapters changes abruptly when Swann discusses his moon theories, and when he offers his examination of how the human race seems easily prone to be manipulated en masse because of a persistent "mob mentality" and what he calls the "phase-locking" of the public consciousness into preconceived notions about reality. This latter discussion has great merit and it proves to me that Swann is, if not an advanced thinker, a person who thinks outside the box and in creative ways that few others can.

Penetration was rejected by every publisher Swann submitted it to - which he blames on a conspiracy of some elite hierarchy to suppress the kinds of things he is talking about. Okay - whatever - but despite the conspiratorial paranoia which underlies everything he writes, this book is more than worth a read - it's a pure bat-nutty delight.

Ken Korczak is the author of: THE FAIRY REDEMPTION OF JUBAL CRANCH


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

"Paco: The Cat Who Meowed In Space" is a series of rather disjointed anecdotes about Homer Hickam's experiences with his cat and NASA


Writers with years of experience in the yoke and thousands of pages inked eventually end up with what I call "a drawer." It's a chapter that had to be cut, an article or essay they never sold, or maybe manuscript that just never gelled. So the pages get put on the shelf - or in the drawer.

Then one day the writer might be thumbing though his Writer's Market, looking at random magazines and journals. He spots some obscure publication, and thinks: "Hey, I bet I can sell them that such-and-such thing I wrote nine years ago! It's in the drawer!"

Today, the ebook revolution, and especially the Kindle Singles format, has tempted many a writer to go drawer diving. That's the impression I get about PACO: THE CAT WHO MEOWED IN SPACE. There are more than a few marvelous gems in here, some truly juicy "insider" glimpses of what went on behind the doors of NASA, and great writing but ...

... but ... the fact is, this offering is a series of veering digressions and disjointed anecdotes glued together only loosely with a premise surrounding the author's cat. By virtue of belonging to a rocket scientist - Paco, the adorable kitty, earned a footnote in space exploration history by becoming the first cat to have his meow transmitted into space.

It's a wonderful story to be sure, but the kitty premise is not enough to carry an entire manuscript even as short as this. And so my impression is that author HOMER HICKAM went rummaging through his drawer for odds and ends to fill out a complete document.

Let me just say without an iota of cynicism - Homer Hickam is a man of such stellar accomplishment, and is such a powerful writer, hacks like me are unfit to as much as sit at his feet. His memoir ROCKET BOYS is one of the best I've ever read, and without question deserves to be a considered a classic of 20th Century American literature.

I am also the kind of person who should be "predestined" to love this Kindle Single: I own three cats, I'm an extreme cat lover; a did my graduate work in space studies at the UND's Center for Aerospace Sciences and worked in the industry; I'm a lifetime amateur astronomy nut; I'm a freelance writer and, like Hickam, I am fascinated with paleontology.

However ... well ... I'm not saying I didn't love this ...I freely admit I cried at the end ... (I really did) ... but ... this is not a piece of writing that hangs together as a whole. Furthermore, shoppers judging a book by its cover may get the impression they are buying an ebook primarily about a cat - and that's not what this is. What you actually get is a lot of personal observations, anecdotes and opinions about what was going on inside America's space program, especially the Space Shuttle era, and from a bona fide NASA insider.

If you love cats but are not particularly interested in space exploration, you may be disappointed. But if you love kitties and space both - this ebook is the cat's meow.

Ken Korczak is the author of: THE FAIRY REDEMPTION OF JUBAL CRANCH

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Old Soul by Joseph Wutrenbaugh Is a Challenging Kindle Single Short Story With a Unique Take On Reincarnation


This is a skillful piece of short fiction written in an effortless style, even though the author envisions the complex and agonizing journey of a certain biochemical molecule through a process of death to rebirth.

Imagine a short story in which the viewpoint character is a biochemical molecule!

Well, that's what this author did, and the result for most readers will be a compelling page-turner they'll gobble up in less than an hour of leisurely reading.

One of the things I like about THE OLD SOUL is that it defies genre. I can't decide: Is this science fiction, New Age spirituality or perhaps the ancient Vedic concept of reincarnation re-framed with the viewpoint of a modern-day molecular biologist? But that's a side issue. It doesn't really matter because this is a work that stands on its own, and for what it is.

While I found this an entertaining, insightful and provocative read, I dare say it will not be everyone's cup of tea, or I should say, not everyone's bowl of biochemical soup. Our heroic biological molecule will do battle with myxoviruses, rhinoviruses and icornaviruses -make a thrilling escape down the microbiological food chain - only to face absorption by a marauding entamoeba hystolica - which it cleverly outsmarts by blending unobtrusively into the amoeba's cytoplasm! And it's just getting started!

How about that!

A minor mystery for me is the identity of the author, which is listed as Joseph Wurtenbaugh. The copyright is under the name of Frank Dudley Berry, Jr. - and at the end, the author encourages us to check out his (her?) book, "Thursday's Child" which is published as Josephine Wurtenbaugh.

Again, this is a side issue of little consequence. Whether it's by Frank, Joseph or Josephine, this is a fine piece of literature.