Saturday, November 19, 2011

Announcing the Launch of Elvis Saves JFK!

Well here it is!  The e-book edition of Elvis Saves JFK! from Somerset House Press on Smashwords has been launched. It has four short stories and one novella, all examining different aspects of my favorite topic - alternate history. What if:
  • Elvis was a secret agent?
  • Amelia Earhart was a World War Two fighter Ace?
  • Hitler won the Second World War, only to lose it a century later?

These are three of the possibilities I look at.  Also included are a time traveller's mission to a certain date in November, 1963 and a new take on the Rat Pack.
Elvis Saves JFK! is available from Smashwords for just $0.99 and it's free to sample.


Meanwhile, War Plan Crimson, A Novel of Alternate History ticks on. And by keying in the code HQ75B, you can received a $1.00 discount off its regular price of $2.99 until December 7th, 2011. It's also available through such fine on-line retailers such as Barnes & Noble and Apple's iTunes Store.

And as always...  War Plan Crimson is free to view.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

ISBNs Granted for Elvis Saves JFK!

Good news is that the ISBN numbers have been granted to Somerset House Press's forthcoming publication, Elvis Saves JFK!  As I said, before, this is a collection of stories themed around the concept of alternate history.  As I also mentioned, it is also an expanded version of small-press edition I ran a few years ago,  with  a new short story and a novella added.

Now the weird thing - the new short story to be included, 11/22/63, which I wrote five years ago - which deals with time travel and the JFK assassination - is also the title of a forthcoming Stephen King novel, which also deals with time travel and JFK assassination. Hopefully, since he deals with a lot of weird things, Mr. King (or his lawyers) won't mind. I don't.

I'll state here there is no link between my novel and Mr. King's novel.  In fact, the only thing of his I've ever read is his book On Writing, which any serious writer should read. 


In the meantime, you can also read the newly-revised War Plan Crimson, A Novel of Alternate History. And by keying in the code HQ75B, you can received a $1.00 discount off its regular price of $2.99 until December 7th, 2011. 

And as always...  War Plan Crimson is free to view.

Monday, November 7, 2011

War Plan Crimson Relaunches at a Discounted Price!

I'm pleased to report that the revised and cleaned up version of War Plan Crimson, A Novel of Alternate History has launched on Smashwords.  To celebrate, I'm offering it at a discounted price of just $1.99 (that's $1.00 off from the regular list price of $2.99).  All you have to do is when you go to purchase Crimson, enter the coupon code HQ75B to receive your discount.

This offer is in effect until December 7th, 2011. And as always, War Plan Crimson is free to view.

A New Somerset House Press Publication!

I'd like to announce that a new Somerset House Press publication, Elvis Saves JFK! will soon be available as an e-book through Smashwords. This e-book only publication is an expanded reprint of smaller edition I ran a few years ago, with four short stories and one novella, all themed around the concept of alternate history.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

On the Banality of Evil

It’s odd I’m writing this on the 50th anniversary of the trial of Adolph Eichmann, the architect of the Final Solution.  When captured by the Israelis and put on trial, his defense was simply was that he was just following orders, which was also the defense of many other Nazis put on trial since the war. Ultimately, this defense was deemed unacceptable. Personal moral responsibility said the court, trumped orders.

At the time, writer Hannah Arendt, a journalist observing the trial and more importantly, Eichmann, coined the phrase, “the banality of evil.” And Eichmann was just that – banal. He was an ordinary, balding, bespectacled, aging, little man. So what would drive an otherwise ordinary little man to participate in one of history’s most unspeakable crimes? 

In writing War Plan Crimson, I also began wondering what would drive otherwise ordinary folk to commit unspeakable acts. What about the guards of Stalin’s gulags, Mao’s “cultural revolutionaries,” those who participated in Pol Pot’s Cambodia in the ‘70s , the ethnic cleansings in the Balkans or the Rwandan Genocide of the ‘90s and in other places and times?

So then perhaps you’ve heard of psychologist Stanley Milgram. Dr. Milgram, too wanted to find out,"Was it that Eichmann and his accomplices in the Holocaust had mutual intent, in at least with regard to the goals of the Holocaust?"  In other words, what made him do it?

Dr. Milgram developed an experiment to find out. In the experiment, a volunteer was told by a white lab-coated doctor to sit at a desk and to ask questions to a person in another room and administer progressively higher electrical shocks if he answered wrong. Fortunately, everything about the experiment was a fake – the “doctor” and the person in the other room were actors and the “shock box” didn’t work.  However, the volunteer believed he or she was administering shocks under a doctor’s orders. 

In other words, the volunteers were being tested for their willingness to follow orders from an authority figure.  In most cases, Milgram found that the volunteers followed orders – while some demonstrated qualms – almost to the point where the other person would’ve died had the experiment been real. The video is chilling to watch.

Observed Dr. Milgram: "With numbing regularity good people were seen to knuckle under the demands of authority and perform actions that were callous and severe. Men who are in everyday life responsible and decent were seduced by the trappings of authority, by the control of their perceptions, and by the uncritical acceptance of the experimenter's definition of the situation, into performing harsh acts. A substantial proportion of people do what they are told to do, irrespective of the content of the act and without limitations of conscience, so long as they perceive that the command comes from a legitimate authority."

We owe Stanley Milgram a debt of gratitude for this. It shows that evil doesn’t have to wear jackboots or carry a gun. It is a warning that almost anyone of us has the potential for evil inside us.

Another Preview!

Well, the good news is that the revisions to War Plan Crimson, A Novel of Alternate History are almost done and a new bug-free edition e-book will be available.  My goal is still to launch a paperback edition of Crimson - I am grateful for your continued interest and support.

So here's another preview of some of the new stuff I've put in Crimson. As I've said, it won't change the plot but I think it will better define it.  Meanwhile, War Plan Crimson is available still as an e-book here - just $2.99 to buy, free to try.

“What’s going on here, Major?” snapped Adams.
“I’m following direct orders from the President,” said Major Shleby Grigsby, turning away from the driver of the olive-drab truck that had just pulled up. He signed what looked like a receipt and handed it back to the driver. ”Political Directorate business, Colonel. Nothing for you to concern yourself with.”
“Everything that happens around here concerns me, Major.”  He walked around to the back of the truck with Grigsby in tow. “So I repeat: what’s in the truck?”
Grigsby went pale, then: “It’s PD business, Colonel.”
“I don’t give a rat’s ass, Major.  I’m in charge here! You will tell me what you’ve brought into my command, or so help me God I will personally bounce you from here to Ottawa.”
Wordlessly, with an air of resignation, the PD officer opened the rear olive-drab flaps to the truck. Four wooden crates lay tied down to the floor with heavy straps.
       “Chemical shells,” said Adams levelly, reading the black-stenciled lettering, “I might’ve known.”
“Colonel, President Cray has placed the control of chemical weapons strictly under the Political Directorate,” said Grigsby, stiffly.
“Get those… things out of here, Major.  This country got a black eye when we used them up at that place in Quebec. The Canadians and British have promised to retaliate in kind the next time we use these…or didn’t you remember that?”
“They’re all weaklings, Colonel. It doesn’t matter what they think.”
Adams gritted his teeth. “Oh? What about our people? The American civilians who might be killed around here by that stuff the moment the wind shifts or if somebody drops it in the wrong place? Did you ever think about that, Major Grigsby?”
“Acceptable losses.”
Adams’ eyes narrowed. “In your obviously limited military career, I can tell, Major Grigsby, that you’ve never been on the receiving end of a gas attack. If you had been, you’d never want to order one.”
The PD man went one of several shades of red.
Adams strode across the road, after dodging a truck towing a 105 mm gun, reached the other side, where a field kitchen stood. A squad of infantry, enjoying the lull provided by the cease-fire, gathered under a large canvas tent, around a large steaming pot of what smelled like chicken stew.
  “Who’s the ranking NCO here?”
“I am, sir,” saluted a weary three-striper. “Sergeant Drummond.”
“Sergeant, take your men and guard that truck over there.” He pointed in the direction from which he just came. “If anyone tries to get close it – anyone except me – shoot them. My orders.”
“Yes sir!” Drummond shouldered his rifle. He saluted and began to bark out orders to his men.
“Colonel,” sputtered Grigsby as he ran up, “you can’t do that.”
“Consider it acceptable losses, Major,” said Adams, walking away. He smiled.