Thursday, May 17, 2018

THE DISTANT FUTURE?

I cannot help thinking about global warming, climate change, countries developing nuclear weapons, Muslim terrorism, random shootings, etc. and wondering what will happen.  In Incident in Geneva I decided to use myself as the protagonist and the novel to determine what would or could result from these potential catastrophes. So I, thinly disguised as Professor Charles Handler, and his wife, residents of a tiny hamlet in Northwestern Connecticut, find themselves on a train in Switzerland. They are coming from a visit with a colleague in Zurich heading to see family in France before returning home. En route, Charles plans to tour the Hadron Collider in Geneva, considered to be the world’s largest machine.  While there a freak explosion propels Charles into an alternate universe, where he finds himself back in Connecticut five hundred years into the future.  The people are survivors of a thermonuclear war and a worldwide pandemic.  Society, political structure, religion, and customs have all radically changed. Many of the social changes appear to be beneficial while others are baffling and difficult from him to accept until he learns that everyone has been genetically modified to eliminate aggressive behavior and greed. Charles is accepted into society until a warrant for his arrest from the World Court leads to his arrest on charges of attempted manslaughter of the Human Race.

How these many problems are resolved or addressed make interesting reading as you contemplate their possibility or probability.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Readers and Writers

I think all writers are serious readers. Some of them may be checking the competition or looking for ideas, but I believe they all read for pleasure. I’ve always been an avid reader. Since my retirement in 1989, I read (listen to) about three books a week, usually novels.

Many detective, thriller, and spy types are so predictable that by the time I finish the second paragraph I can guess the ending. My preferences are stories that deal with universal concepts. The books cited below are examples that meet these criteria.

Cider House Rules by John Irving relates how young Homer Wells grows up under the tutelage of Doctor Wilbur Larch, the obstetrician and abortionist at St. Cloud’s Orphanage in Maine.

John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath is the story of poor Oklahoma farmers trying to escape the Dust Bowl by migrating to California.

In the Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver, three families in Appalachia lead lives entwined with each other.

Voices in the Ocean by Susan Casey is a nonfiction gem that describes the lives of dolphins and how they interacted with humans since ancient times.

Irma Joubert, Afrikaans novelist has written Girl from the Train, the touching story of two disparate characters, six-year old Gretl, the sole survivor of a train bound for Auschwitz and Jakob, a Polish freedom fighter, Jakob finds Gretl and cares for her before arranging for her safe life in South Africa. But they never forget each other.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee is the saga of seven generations of Koreans striving to survive under the domination of the Japanese who despise them.

You do not have to read these books. I only list them as examples of wonderful stories of the human condition. Our book club has read and enjoyed some of them.