Monday, January 30, 2012
As someone who was deeply involved in direct marketing long before the Internet came along (as a copy writer), I’ve observed with amazement at how swiftly the Web swept away everything that was known – or seemed to be known -- about how to sell using what used to be called “direct mail marketing.”
Thousands of people once dreamed and lusted over the idea of starting a “mail order empire!” What you needed was a hot product and a really killer sales letter to “sell, sell sell!” In fact, you didn’t necessary even need a hot product! If you had sizzling sales copy that could grab attention, create interest, instill desire, persuade -- and persuade with a vengeance – you could even sell those proverbial refrigerators to those proverbial Eskimos.
We used to call this the AIDA formula: Attention, Interest, Desire and Action.
If you could create those four things in your sales copy, you had it made. You could sell anything, baby!
But when Internet sites such as eBay came along (and other platforms) millions of people thought we were in an all-new world. You could throw all that “old stuff” out the window. It no longer applied! As for eBay, for example, most people assume that all you have to do is throw you item out there, sit back and let the magic of the eBay system do the rest. The eBay search engine attracts and audience of buyers, it tells about and displays your product, and so on. The joy! You no longer need to hire an expensive copy writer! You no longer had to work on icky stuff like target marketing or buying lists of “hot prospects.” You no longer had to sweat to dream up “attention grabbing headlines.” With eBay, the product practically sells itself!
Well, GREG PERRY is here with your wake up call. He has some exciting news for you. Guess what: All of that “old stuff” should not only be made new again, but the fact is, the “old way” of selling never really went away! Selling in the Internet environment does not mean you don’t have to do just that – work at selling!
In this book, eXtreme eBay,Greg Perry walks you through some of the most tried and true selling methods of all time. He explains to you why they are still relevant, and if you employ them on sites like eBay, you can supercharge your ability to not only sell, sell a lot more -- but also at higher prices and profits for each item you want to move.
Perry expertly covers the fundamentals of direct marketing selling technique: Writing sizzling sales copy, writing killer, attention-grabbing headlines, using keywords effectively to attract more buyers – and he also covers some of the other best-of-all-time money-making strategies – such as the “up-sell” (do you want fries with that?), the “cross-sell” and the extremely important: “repeat sales.”
Those of us who have been around direct marketing for a long time, and who have paid our dues in the trenches of the pre-Internet realm, know that selling is selling – and that the fundamentals of the art of moving products did not disappear with the invention of the Internet.
I will say this, however: As a person who took years to learn to write persuasive, convincing, motivating sales copy, I can tell you that this is not a skill that just anyone can pick up easily. It is one thing, as Perry recommends, to write killer sales descriptions – it is another thing to do it well. To write truly marvelous eBay sales copy descriptions, you need to be a skilled writer. You have to know how to choose words, write tightly, lead the reader along, entice the reader, create desire in the reader – and that is a skill few people have, or will ever have – because it is high level of expertise -- believe me.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least try – or maybe even hire a professional copy writer to write your eBay descriptions for you if you are truly serious about selling, and selling a lot. The bottom line is, Greg Perry’s book, eXtreme eBay, reveals to you what you need to do to jazz up your eBay sales -- anyone who reads this book will sell more on eBay and make more money on eBay -- period.
Ken Korczak is the author of: SECRETS OF A GRANT WRITER
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Saturday, January 28, 2012
One of the unforeseen nightmares of economic prosperity is a dreadful existentialism or ennui that can develop in society, especially among young people.
When you live in a poor country, you have little time for fancy higher thoughts. Your daily struggle is to find something to eat, stay warm, maybe keep the mosquitoes and rats away at night, and hope some foreign invader does not muscle through to kill or rape you. Your focus and purpose is crystal clear: Eat and stay alive, and hope for something better.
But if you grow up in a well-to-do family from, say, a Chicago suburb, and your parents pay your way through college, and effortlessly provide for your meals and housing – then the minimum you have to do is hang out, listen to rock music, smoke dope while pulling a C+ average, watch TV and score some sex when you can.
Sooner or later, however, this lifestyle of relative ease can creep up on you and bite you in the ass – and hard!
Suddenly, you’re 28, 29, maybe 30 years old and you ask yourself: “What does it all mean? Who am I? What am I doing here? What’s my purpose? Certainly, there must be something more to life? Something deeper?”
Those are the kind of questions that began to torment Michael Gray, the not-so-easy-to-like antihero of Jim Cherry’s marvelous novel, THE LAST STAGE. Like many barely-thirty-somethings raised comfortably upper-middle class, Gray finds himself agonizingly adrift. Naturally, his mind seizes upon his only passion – his love for the 60s rock band, The Doors, and its dark, mercurial icon, The Lizard King himself, Jim Morrison.
From the platform of his desperate existential drift, Gray hatches a plan to form a Doors cover band. By a thrust of fate, it just so happens that Gray bears a considerable resemblance to his idol. Also, like Morrison, Gray has no singing talent – but he takes that as a positive sign – because it is well-known that, in the beginning, Morrison had no singing talent either. If Morrison could reimagine himself from unpublished poet and film student to rock ‘n’ roll front man, then why not Michael Gray?
Gray uses his Morrisonesque anti-charisma to hijack a promising young start-up band. He convinces them to sidetrack their own career to create “The Unknown Soldiers,” a Doors cover band. It will feature a certain non-singer Michael Gray as the front man, a leather-clad faux Mr. Mojo Risin. Among his hopes is to “create reality through fiction.”
The nation-wide tour of seedy bars and crummy, crusty clubs results in something like a Jack Kerouac kind of journey of what should be a quest for meaning -- but what Gray ultimately discovers is – well, something different. Life is complicated that way.
And that’s just one of the elements I like about this Indie novel by Chicago-based writer Jim Cherry. The Last Stage is evidence that deeply talented writers exist out there, they’re fertile with unique premises for great books – and they’re writing and publishing them!
While mainstream publishers are obsessed with the easy cash of utter trash -- teen vampire crapola, thriller lawyer novels or international spy romances – genuine authors, on the streets and in the trenches – are observing, watching, feeling, thinking – discovering the extraordinary in “ordinary” people struggling with down-to-earth problems – such as finding meaning in a country where the American Dream long-ago stopped making sense.
Cherry’s main character thinks he wants fame and adulation, but he seems also to understand that what his quest gets down to is a search for Reality itself – Reality with a capital R. He’s just crazy enough and desperate enough to believe that touring with a Doors cover band might actually make the discovery of "true meaning" happen.
Ken Korczak is the facilitator of: THE DR. 58 MATERIAL
Friday, January 27, 2012
This is one of those books difficult for me to recommend too strongly because it's not "great literature" equal to the ranks of, say, Hemingway, Joyce Carol Oates or Vonnegut. But it is a very good "B Novel," if you know what I mean. Sometimes you're in the mood for a good yarn with an interesting premise. And so in this case the author, DON HOESEL, delivers an enjoyable read.
ELISHA'S BONES might also be considered to be Christian literature, although I'm not sure. If it is Christ-lit, it's very light-handed. It does not beat you over the head with "The Message" -- so that makes it tolerable to those of us who don't like to be preached at.
The plot involves an archaeologist whose exciting career of getting his hands dirty in the field and making new discoveries is well behind him. Now he's just running out the time clock on his life working as a professor at some small college. But then a mysterious billionaire taps him to undertake an amazing mission -- to find the ancient bones of the Biblical prophet Elisha. Apparently, someone squirreled them away somewhere centuries ago, and for a very good reason: Touching the bones of Elisha can bring the dead back to life!
And so our hero is thrust into a world of international intrigue, conspiracies, ancient wonders, and all the while he is pursued by the thugs and henchmen of other powerful interests who also want to get their hands on the magic skeleton.
There are some moments, well, more than a few, that really made me cry out "Oh come on!" because certain elements bordered on the ridiculous, even for science fiction where one is required to willingly suspend disbelief.
I will also say, however, that I thought this book was better than "The da Vince Code" by Dan Brown, (but I thought that was an awful book) -- and Elisha's Bones bears a very strong comparison (almost too strong) to a another book, "The Skeleton in God's Closet," by Paul Maier.
But, anyway, it's an okay read, and I would buy another of Mr. Hoesel's books.
PLEASE SEE: MINNESOTA PARANORMALA
Readers who are already familiar with the work of RICK STRASSMAN, MD, might be disappointed in this book because they will probably find a lot of material they had already read before concerning his studies involving the powerfully hallucinogenic synthetic compound, DMT.
However, anyone confronting this kind of information for the first time should find this book nothing less than astounding. Strassman is one of the few clinical researchers ever to receive permission to study DMT on human subjects, which he did in the early to mid-1990s. What's interesting are the experiences reported by his subjects -- whom were "ordinary people" and volunteers. Under the influence of DMT, they seemed to enter other worlds or alternate dimensions of reality, where they confronted bizarre "alien beings" including elf-like creatures, repitilian humanoids, UFO-type aliens and more. And that's just for starters.
For those who are already familiar with Strassman's findings, it's important to point out that this book also includes considerable contributions from other researchers in this or similar fields, including Slawek Wojtowicz, M.D., Ede Frecksa, M.D. and Luis Eduardo Luna, Ph.D.
I was familiar with the work of Strassman, and I did find some of his material here "nothing new" for the most part; however, the essays of the other writers, especially Frecksa, was for me a new look at the nature of consciousness, and especially the possible quantum structure of the brain on the nano-scale. Extremely interesting.
For people who have never before heard about or read about the deeper implications of hallucinogenic compounds, synthetic or natural, on the nature of reality and consciousness, this book will be nothing less than an amazing revelation.
Most of the material has a high scientific and academic standard, though it sometimes does get a little "New Agey" here and there -- but that's okay. All in all, a fascinating collection of the writings of distinguished researchers which I am happy to recommend.
Ken Korczak is the facilitator of: THE DR. 58 MATERIAL
Wow, BRIAN O'GRADY was soaring along, flying high on eagle wings of science fiction excellence, cruising to an easy stellar recommendation from me with this gripping book HYBRID - unfortunately, the eagle makes a couple of unscheduled landings to act like a turkey, tarnishing the luster from what might have been a contender for the Hugo or Nebula Award.
The most important impression I want to leave with the reader is that this is a terrific book; get it, read it and enjoy it - because I certainly did. O'Grady is simply an excellent writer. His strength in creating believable, complex characters and placing them in extraordinary circumstances is considerable. Science fiction legend Ben Bova said that all great SF begins and ends with character. If you create vivid characters and then give them incredibly tough problems to solve - and nearly kill them in the process of an unfolding plot - what you have is a thrilling book, making it a joy to turn each page.
O'Grady does all that. So what's the problem? Well, for me, and inexplicably, O'Grady takes a couple of pointless detours - one is throwing in a bit about a conventional military action against Iran - which does absolutely nothing to advance his primary plot of biological terrorism.
But even that is not so bad as when it becomes obvious that O'Grady can't resist grinding a certain political ax here and there. He seems to create scenes specifically just to show that "enhanced interrogation techniques" (the euphemism for torture, in this case, chemical torture) is more effective in getting tough nuts to crack than non-torture techniques. He takes a considerable dig at Vietnam-era war protestors -- (you know, those deluded people who thought Vietnam was a horrific mistake) - but at one point, O'Grady can't help but take a petty, below-the-belt shot at a liberal icon, the filmmaker Michael Moore. Why spoil a great work of SF just to throw a sucker punch?
It's all forgivable, however! O'Grady has a bright future. I understand his day job is that of neurosurgeon, but if that doesn't pan out for him, I think he can make it as a writer. I hope he develops a huge audience, and I eagerly await anything else this talented guy has to offer.
Please visit Ken Korczak's FAN PAGE: MINNESOTA PARANORMALA
Do you really need an ancient Roman philosopher who has been dead for centuries tell you how to be happy? Well how about Oprah Winfrey then? Because she has this 100% earth-shattering advice for you: “Be happy with what you have; you’ll end up having more.” Wow! Is that really the case? That's deep, yet so simple! Why didn’t I think of that!
Before some lunatic put a bullet in Abraham Lincoln’s head, the President is purported to have said: “People are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
If it had been Joe Schlobotnik, the guy who owns the tire shop on a corner in my small town, who said, “People are as happy as they make up their minds to be” -- it might sound like a vapid platitude. But since President Lincoln said it … well …
Perhaps Lincoln was channeling the long dead Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius who said: “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” Hmmmm again. Well, maybe I’m starting to see a pattern here – I don’t know.
Whatever the case, you can read quotes by all kinds of historic greats about how to jazz up your mind with super happy thoughts in SHADONNA RICHARDS' new book, “Think & Be Happy” an obvious play on the title of the mega-best selling book, “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. There are 365 “happy thoughts” – one for each day of the year so you can charge your mind with a ray of light every day.
If you want to buy this book as a traditional book, it’s only $19.95! But as of this writing, I see it’s available as a Kindle selection for $2.99. (I downloaded my Kindle version while it was being offered for free!)
That $19.95 price is eye-popping for a guy like me, a person who ekes out a living as a writer. Why eye-popping? Because I could go to Google right now, search on “famous quotes about happiness” and instantly get a few thousand, or so, and start whipping them into shape for a full-length book. I bet I could get the whole book done in just day or two – wait a minute, I don’t “bet I could” – I know I could. Believe me, I’ve been in the writing biz for 25 years.
So a book like this by Ms. Richards, selling for $19.95, makes me want to hum once again: “Hmmmm.”
But I digress. The thing is, does it work? Does feeding your mind a happy thought from a book by a nice person like Ms. Richards – who after all is a nurse, which is a very sweet thing to be -- really make you happy?
I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe it works for some people. Of course, you can find all your own happy thoughts for free on the Internet any time – and anyone who frequents Facebook is bombarded with similar messages all the time from well-meaning Facebook friends(at least I am). But if you want to pay $19.95 or $2.99 for this book well: “It’s all a matter of the way you think about it.” (And you can quote me).
Ken Korczak is the facilitator of: THE DR. 58 MATERIAL
Thursday, January 26, 2012
You know, this is a fast-paced science fiction yarn that will keep you turning the pages, and you may even enjoy yourself. However, anyone writing an honest review should point out a number of aspects of this book that must be recognized for what they are: a lot of standard cliché characters, cliché subplots, cliché backgrounds, etc.
First let's talk about the amazingly pervasive phenomenon of "dead wife syndrome" in literature and art today. I recently reviewed on this site "A WORLD I NEVER MADE" by James LePore. Main character: Has a dead wife. I also reviewed here THE GIFT OF ILLUSION by Richard Brown. Main character: Tough cop with a dead wife. Consider all the other dead wife heroes in recent movies and books: Mel Gibson's character in Lethal Weapon? A tough Vietnam Vet haunted by the memory of his dead wife. Leonardo DiCaprio's character in Inception? A tough investigator haunted by the memory of his dead wife. Bobby Simone in NYPD Blue? A Tough cop haunted by memory of his dead wife. How about good old 007, James Bond? Yep, he's got a wife in the freezer, too!
The hero of Season of the Harvest? Why, by golly, he's a tough FBI agent, a former Afghan war vet who has -- yes -- a dead wife! Wow! He's also devilishly handsome, square-jawed and a silent loner. I mean, why create a new, unique interesting character when you can just go grab one off the shelf from the Cliché Store?
How about the female lead character in this book? Well, she can be found in Aisle 9 of the Cliché Store next to the baked beans. She's a brilliant, genius scientist, who happens to be unbelievable gorgeous, totally pure of heart -- and just so plain hot, hot, hot!
Don't believe me? Try: Tara Reid as Aline Cedrac in Alone in the Dark (2005), Robin Riker as Marisa Kendall in Alligator (1980) and Saffron Burrows as Dr. Susan McCallister in Deep Blue Sea (1999). (I could go on at length).
What do they all have in common? That's right. They're all the same woman, except some are sexy blondes and some are sexy brunettes! They're all brilliant single scientists with a hankerin' for a tough cop with a dead wife!
You can bet your bippy that our super sexy science kitten will have an INSTANT ATTRACTION to the hard-as-nails, grieving ex-Special Ops military tough guy who could never love again ... TILL NOW!
As for some of the backdrop, there's a mega-high-tech underground fortified lab complete with concrete doors and scads of big screen computer equipment -- and there's even a few other major clichés thrown in for good measure.
How about this one: An important character is tragically shot in the chest by a nefarious traitor among the band of plucky heroes fighting to save humanity -- only to turn up ALIVE! later because she was conveniently wearing a BULLET PROOF VEST! HA! HA! Didn't see that coming!
I think in the last 3 or 4 Dean Koontz books I have read, Koontz dragged out the old bullet proof vest thingy 3 or 4 times. Perhaps Hicks and Koontz both have frequent buyer's cards at the same Cliché Store.
(SPOILER ALERT ENDS)
But, whatever. I know that many people will enjoy this potboiler -- and yes, even I will say I found this book a pleasant enough read. Go ahead and plunk down your mad money for a book. I did. I enjoyed it well enough.
Ken Korczak is the facilitator of: THE DR. 58 MATERIAL
A central theme of this book is bias, in this case, the deeply entrenched biases of the mainstream scientific community. So let me put my own bias on the table right away: To me, the word "creationism" is a dirty word and "Christian creationism" makes me gag.
It doesn't help that the authors, Michael Cremo and Richard Thompson are "Vedic creationists." Rather than using a Biblical perspective the challenge the prevailing scientific view on the evolution of humans, the authors proclaim to be adherents of "Lord Krishna" and subscribe to the Vedic view that modern human beings have inhabited planet earth not for some 100,000 years, but millions or even billions of years.
But putting this aside, and keeping an open mind, there is much to like and ponder in the information presented by this book, and the way it is presented - for the most part.
"The Hidden History of the Human Race" does not read like another sensational `ancient astronaut' screed ala Erich Von Daniken. It's more like an almost too sober text book. These guys are at least attempting a genuine, reasoned argument to debunk those who are usually the debunkers. Cremo and Thompson have scoured the academic records of paleontologists going back about 200 years, and they attempt to show just how incredibly imperfect, biased and downright delusional the work of "real" scientists can be
And they do a credible job of presenting a convincing portrait of stumbling, bumbling bone diggers, hungry for fame and peer prestige, making whopping assumptions, altering evidence, cherry-picking data, ignoring glaring evidence that does not support their own "religion" of evolution - and much more.
I'm not with those who criticize Cremo and Thompson on the basis of not being degreed paleontologists or archaeologists, which they are not - or even that everything in this book as been "thoroughly debunked." I'm not so sure about that. The authors put forward troubling evidence showing that the modern scientific view of evolution has problems, sometimes propped up by shaky and or even nonexistent evidence.
On the other hand, the authors are clearly, at times, if not biased in their own approach, are not presenting all the evidence they could in a balanced way. A prime example is their offering of the Klerpsdorf spheres found in South Africa in a strata known to be at least 2 billion years old. Cremo and Thompson suggest these objects are of intelligent design (meaning humans made them) - yet the alternate view of scientists on Klerpsdorf objects is well-known. A convincing and thorough case has been made that the objects are natural formations of nature, not man made.
The point is, if Cremo and Thompson were willing to foist off Klerpsdorf spheres onto their readers as part of their evidence - and did not feel the need to include an additional page to give the obvious alternate view of what they are - then this suggests they are self deluded (at least in this one example) or are deliberately deluding their readers.
Still, mainstream scientists are guilty of the same practices all the time in their quest for fame, research grants, promotions and prestige. So the bottom line for me is: This is a book well worth reading, the authors make some strong cases on enough points of evidence to make this book worthy of serious consideration, and not to be simply scoffed at by "skeptics" who cannnot or are unwilling to think outside the box.
Ken Korczak is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
The prolific SF writer Gordon Dickson was called the "Book Doctor" because he was so good at advising other writers on how to make their books riveting page turners. His advice was that a great SF book should have the sound of a metaphoric ticking bomb that could go off at any time, and that the reader should start hearing that ticking on the first page.
In HARRY HARRISON'S pulp offering "Planet of the Damned" the bombs are not metaphors, but literally part of the plot -- in this case, a cache of nuclear cobalt bombs in the hands of a planet occupied by the worst kind of violent, savage "cave men" you can imagine. How did such a bunch of primitive grunts get their hands on nuclear weapons, and how do they have the ability to drop them on the neighboring planet in their solar system? Well, like all clever SF writers -- and Harrison is among the most clever -- he finds a way to make this scenario at least plausible
The savages on the planet Dis want to drop their bombs on the planet Nyjord, populated by a gentle race of passivist philosophers. Only one man stands in the way of this nefarious plot -- the incredible Brion Brandd -- a super Olympian-style athlete -- who finds himself an unlikely draftee to lead the effort to avert the nuclear annihilation of Nyjord. Brandd is not just a jock -- he's incredibly smart, and an empath to boot.
Anyone judging this short novel today must do so keeping in mind that it does not pretend to be anything which it is not -- it's a classic pulp fiction offering, first appearing in Analog SF magazine in 1962. Fast books with a hot premise like this were the bread and butter of pulp-era writers such as Harrison, and he was among the best in delivering genre fiction of this sort, and doing a credible job.
So it's not great literature, it may not even be stellar science fiction, but it is what it is: A fast-paced, intelligent thrill-novel set in the far future and outer space. Harrison knows his science well, and gives the reader a lesson in exobiology that is interesting and educating, without stalling the plot. That's no easy task!
Download this free science fiction ebook here: PLANET OF THE DAMNED
Ken Korczak is the author of: MINNESOTA PARANORMALA
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
After I read the prologue to this science fiction novel by SHARON T. ROSE, I was sufficiently impressed by the writing skill of the author to want to continue reading, and the first chapter did not disappoint either. I was treated to skillfully handled action scenes, enough strangeness to make me want to know more, and interesting characters - in short, this promised to be an above-average science fiction yarn. And for the most part it is, but perhaps only for a younger audience.
The story involves a titanic interplanetary war that has been raging for centuries. The good guys and the bad guys have basically reached a stalemate. Since neither side can defeat the other, what we are left with is a low-grade state of war that flares up occasionally, or settles back into cold-war tension. The central heroes are the "Descendants" who are seemingly ordinary people, but who have the ability to transform themselves into giant "suited" warriors with extraordinary powers and weaponry. They are fighting an ancient evil enemy called the Sukkers.
To be honest, the "Descendants" remind me a lot of the "Power Rangers" of kid television fame. The similarities are many. Both are young people who say or think of some kind of "magic word" which causes them to transform into powerful, suited fighting warriors. One might also compare the Descendants to a half a dozen other super hero groups, such as the X-Men who, again, are seemingly ordinary people but who have extraordinary powers, and who wear "suits" when they fight bad guys. So on this score, the author does not get high points for originality.
My view is that "No Turning Back" will appeal to a younger audience than a guy like me. I'm a jaded 52-year-old crank who has been reading science fiction for more than 40 years. I've read it all, the good, the bad and the ugly - and so I'm hard to impress. For me, this novel for me was "right in there" - not a ground-breaking work destined to be a classic, but an entertaining enough read for a teenage or young adult audience.
I also expect great things in the future from this writer, who has marvelous skill with words.
This book is a free Kindle downland:CLICK HERE
Ken Korczak is the author of MINNESOTA PARANORMALA
Monday, January 23, 2012
So here is a short story by one of the all-time masters of science fiction, ROBERT SHECKLEY. Warrior Race is about a 15-20 minute read, but the impact of the story will stay with you a lot longer. Don't be surprised if you're driving in your car some day, or maybe walking your dog, and suddenly you find yourself thinking about this clever gem, and having yourself a private chuckle.
In brief: The story involves two unlucky space travelers who find themselves "way out there" and running short on fuel. They identify a remote planet where a cache of starship fuel has been squirreled away - it's an isolated world that has not had other visitors from space for many years.
When our two space men land, they encounter a primitive, but fierce population whose lives revolve around their identities as "warriors." The problem is, the place where the fuel is kept has long since come to be viewed as a sacred shrine, and the astronauts must find some way to get around, beyond or through tens of thousands of heavily armed natives to get the fuel they need.
At the heart of the story is an extremely clever twist - the highly peculiar fighting tactics of the Warrior Race. I can say no more, or I would spoil it. But take it from me, this is typical Sheckley cleverness at its best! It's no accident that Sheckley is often called "the Voltaire" of science fiction. His wit is sharp, still fresh today, and very much on display in this little masterpiece of the genre.
Click WARRIOR RACE to get your free Nook or Kindle copy!
Ken Korczak is the author of: MINNESOTA PARANORMALA
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Enter a courtroom in the United States today, especially New England states, and you will hear the balif proclaim: "Oyez! Oyez! Oyez!" That's Norman French for: "Hearken! Hearken! Hearken!"
And so the titanic influence of one man, William the Conqueror, ripples across the centuries and an ocean to display its effect today. In the year 1066, William, the Duke of Normandy, set sail across the English channel with a mighty force, marched ashore and throttled the army of King Harold, thus taking the English crown and changing western world forever.
Originally published in 1877, educator Jacob Abbott writes like a kindly history teacher speaking to class of high school seniors. His style is lucid and no nonsense. He gives you the facts, but manages to flesh out enough anecdotal and incidental information to make this a bright and interesting read -- still fresh more than 125 years after it was written.
This book, and all of Abbott's MAKERS OF HISTORY series, are short treatments of famous historical figures. They are must reads for those who want a deeper understanding of the incredible people who changed the world in their day, and colored all of history. About the length of short novels, I love Abbott's short history treatments because they inform an educate, and give you a rich perspective on history, without having to wade through a lot of dry, acedemic textbook-like tomes.
Do youself a favor. Brush up on your history, maybe starting with this fine little book, WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR by Jacob Abbott. It's a 100% free ebook download for any format, be it Kindle, Nook, PDF of whatever you prefer.
Ken Korczak is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS
Friday, January 20, 2012
LYNN AUSTIN is a skilled and polished writer with a well-developed knack for grabbing a reader in the first two pages and pulling them in by presenting a dire situation for characters we have only just met, yet somehow, we already care about. In this case, the book opens with gentle children being threatened by a band of tough soldiers who storm into their bedrooms and take them captive.
The horrible plans for those children quickly become apparent - they are to be burned alive as an offering to a pagan god. And the author does not flinch from the brutality, or let her readers look away. She dutifully has the young boys tossed into the brass maw of a bestial idol, where they scream horribly as they are engulfed by flames.
If this sounds like raw, edgy, cutting edge fiction, well, maybe it is, but this is Christian literature. I almost never read this genre because I am not a Christian, but I am willing to read anything with an open mind as long as a compelling story is being told. And this book delivers that - for the most part.
For me, again, not a Christian, I found many of the scenes rather preachy and repetitive of the basic Christian themes that the "True God" is one of "endless love and compassion" and that those who turn away from Him to worship false gods will face calamity in their lives, and so on. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with this - it's what Christian readers enjoy reading and what they want to read. They like reading a compelling story, while also having their belief system reinforced for themselves.
However, as an objective reviewer, I have to make other readers aware of what they are getting when they purchase this book. Yes, it's a historical novel, a take on the ancient Kings of Judah in and around the years 700 B.C. to 800 B.C. - but one needs to know that this is historical fiction, but more accurately, fiction as seen through the lens of and colored by a modern day interpretation of a rather fundamentalist Christian belief system.
So if you are a believing, practicing Christian, this is almost certainly a top-flight read. For the rest of us, well ....
Ken Korczak is the author of: THE FAIRY REDEMPTION OF JUBAL CRANCH
Thursday, January 19, 2012
This work of historical fiction by Elliot Pattison is one of considerable complexity. It builds a plot by first introducing the reader to a dizzying array of names and characters, situations, subplots and situations. But it expertly couches it all in a highly realistic, gritty late 1700s world where the average person experiences immense hardships and cruelty on a daily basis - something those of us today would find hard to imagine.
The protagonist is a hard-luck Scot made a criminal and prisoner on flimsy evidence by the evil, greedy British of the colonial era - he is imprisoned aboard a convict ship heading for the New World where he faces a life of indentured slavery in a plantation, except by luck of his background - training as a physician - and a mysterious murder aboard the ship - thrusts him into the role of a Sherlock Holmes kind of guy.
Our hero Duncan McCallum faces hardships aplenty. He is confronted with mind-bending mysteries to solve as the plot plays out against a background of life aboard a miserable ship, and then in the wild, harsh and dangerous American colonies.
The complexity of the plot makes it obvious that Mr. Pattison is an extremely skilled writer capable of creating vivid characters we care about. He makes the reader feel what it might actually have been like to live and struggle in this dangerous, but exciting era, when the desperate and adventurous alike strove to carve out a new life in a New World.
For me, the flow of the story is too often slowed down by some rather tedious and mind-numbing dialog, and a sort of overly rigorous attention to minute detail which I found frustrating - and at times - the characters act in ways that seem purely illogical -- yet I would eagerly recommend this high quality piece of literature to anyone, especially those with an interest in the British colonial era of the Americas.
Ken Korczak is the author of: THE FAIRY REDEMPTION OF JUBAL CRANCH
So let me tell you why this book immediately earned a demerit from me - the main character is a tough cop with a dead wife. Why is that so bad? Because I recently read Season of the Harvest by Michael R. Hicks whose protagonist is a tough cop with a dead wife. I also just finished A World I Never Made by James Lepore whose male viewpoint character is a sad doofus with a dead wife. I also recently viewed the movie Inception featuring a Leonardo DiCaprio who is a tough agent with a (sort of) dead wife. How about Mel Gibson in both Lethal Weapon and Braveheart? Dead wife. Dead wife. The private eye Charlie Parker in John Connolly's gothic thrillers? Poor Charlie is haunted by the memory of his dead wife. Russell Crowe in Gladiator? Dead wife. Even the great fictional secret agent James Bond, 007 himself -- that's right, he has a dead wife. Remember that great TV show NYPD Blue? Bobby Simone was a tough cop with a dead wife.
It's just that - you know - I can't stand this cliché any more. Hey, if you want to be a writer, then be a writer, dag gum it, and do a bit of work and thinking to create complex, fictional characters that have deeper motivations based on some kind of imagined life experience - rather than taking a cliché off the shelf, or borrowing a character from another book, and using him like some kind of "plug and play" module to generate shallow sympathy points.
But there are other literary sins here - one is a number of stretches were absolutely nothing happens to move along the plot. The most irritating bit is at least a full page of Kindle text featuring a scene where a waitress takes the character's dinner order in a restaurant! In an earlier scene, the protagonist spends a chapter shooting pool in a bar with a buddy - he moans a bit about his dead wife - but the plot moves not one centimeter forward in this wasted stream of filler words.
I also spank the writer for a certain amount of absurdity. I realize this is a book featuring bizarre paranormal activity and that it is supposed to be fantastical and unreal, so to speak, but even events that are strange in horror books should create a sense of plausibility. For example, the bad guy of the book was once a traveling illusionist in 19th Century America and his "show" featured hypnotized members of the audience being forced to perform bloody orgies on stage, often ending in the brutal mutiliation and deaths of those audience members!
You know, even in the Wild West of 1800s America, there was rule of law, not to mention a more puritanical society, which would not have tolerated even the slightest public pornographic demonstration, much less bloody, sexual orgies with people killing each other in some kind of traveling fun show! Where was the town sheriff!? Who cleaned up the bodies after the "show"?
Come on! That's absurd! It's not plausible, even for a book of paranormal fiction!
Despite all the crimes against fiction, I give this author at least an "A for Effort" for doing some things right - including creating supporting characters that are vivid and believable - such as a sad little girl being bullied at school, and a three-time divorced grease monkey promoted to car salesman who has recently found wife No.4!. Now that's what I'm talking about! This author has great ability to create unique characters when he wants to!
I realize this book was meant to be a fast, enjoyable summer read on the beach, and not great literature, ala Joyce Carol Oates or Gore Vidal, but even for light fiction the trangressions are too many to earn a positive review from me. I will say, however, with honesty, that I think Richard Brown shows great promise, he knows how to write, and I think we can all expect better books from him in the future.
Ken Korczak is a former professional grant writer. Find his advise on how to get free government money here: GRANT WRITING SECRETS
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
EDITOR'S NOTE: Free eBook gems is part of an ongoing series that reviews great "eBooks you should read" and which are free to anyone to download and enjoy anytime, anywhere.
Review By Ken Korczak
Science fiction is often called the "literature of ideas" and this short novel exemplifies that concept. The idea in "The Status Civilization" is to strand an innocent man convicted of murder on a prison planet where all is topsy-turvy. The only rule of law is that all must break the law. If you don't break the law, you get into trouble. Murder is the highest ideal of the citizen. Drug addiction is mandatory. They have a church on this planet, but it worships "Evil", and yes, attendance is required.
The planet Omega is like a space-age Australia back when the British used that contintent to dump off their criminals and social malcontents. New arrivals are criminals joining fellow criminals who must now form their own society. But in this case, all have their memories erased before being stranded on Omega. They are given only one bit of self-knowledge: The crime they committed on Earth.
The hero is Will Barrent, convicted of murder -- a murder he no longer remembers, of course. The problem is, he has the nagging feeling he is innocent, and seems to only want to be good and do good. But now he must try to fit in with an entire planet consisting of and run by other criminals.
It's a terrific premise, and in the hands of Robert Sheckley, one of the true masters of science fiction, this short novel becomes a marvelously entertaining read. Expect nonstop action, and little in the way of description or anything that does not move along the plot. For example, Sheckley wastes no time with describing scenary or filling out the details of the environment of an alien planet -- it's just bare bones movement of the protagonist doing this, and doing that, as he works his way through his terrible situation.
In my personal pantheon of favorite science fiction gods, Robert Sheckley is among the top three. The primary reason is this: He is a master of a certain kind of cynical, dry and wry irony that is nothing less than hilarious. It's Sheckley's extremely unique STYLE that separates him from the run-of-the-mill sf writer.
What really pushes this seemingly pulp yarn over the top to a solid 5-star book is the brilliant way it ends, revealing an unexpected depth of meaning and message. It's a sizzling commentary on post-modern society that cuts to the bone. Extraordinary.
DOWNLOAD THIS eBOOK FREE: The Status Civilization
Please see: KEN KORCZAK IN THE KINDLE STORE
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
I’m an avid user of social media networks, both because I like to waste time noodling around with my friends, but also because this is where all the oxygen is today in the online world. I’m not a super-robust user of social networks, but I do have a A Facebook Page, a Facebook Fan Page a Twitter account – and I’m on LinkedIn.
For what it’s worth, my experience has been that LinkedIn is far superior in getting the results I want in terms of purely doing business. For me that means marketing and selling my ghostwriting services, and selling the ebooks I have written, which are available in the Amazon Kindle Store store. LinkedIn easily outperforms Facebook and Twitter for me.
So I was eager to see what Jamie Turner had to say in this offering, “How To make Money Marketing Your Business On LinkedIn.”
This is a short piece that would not have been referred to as any kind of “book” in the “old world,” but today an ebook is and ebook. This is actually more akin to a Special Report. Most people can get through it in about 30 to 45 minutes.
Does it deliver? I think it does, especially if you have worked very little with LinkedIn, or if you are one of those people like I used to be: I signed up for a LinkedIn account, and then ignored it for months on end. Turner points out that to get the most out of LinkedIn, you have to put some effort into it, and massage your presence and activity there. That means, he says, getting and staying active, joining groups, making more than just connections by developing deeper relationships – that kind of thing.
He also has some other decent tidbits of advice, such as taking advantage of LinkedIn’s “Answer” section.(I’ll say no more because I don’t want to give his entire ebook away!)
So, this is a fine piece of information about LinkedIn that, while being very general, will nonetheless give newbies a better idea about how to get more out of this business-oriented social media network. LinkedIn veterans who know their away around this network will find little information that’s new to them.
AND NOW A SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT eBAY: JUST CLICK THE "BUY NOW" BUTTON BELOW TO GET SPECIAL E-REPORT (pdf format) TELLS HOW TO MAKE $50 PER HOUR -- YES, $50 PER HOUR -- USING EBAY, BUT NOT BUYING OR SELLING ON EBAY. THAT'S RIGHT NO BUYING OR SELLING ON EBAY, RATHER LEVERAGING IT TO MAKE $50 PER HOUR:
YOU WILL RECEIVE YOUR EBAY REPORT VIA EMAIL WITHIN 1-HOUR OF YOUR PURCHASE! (IF NOT SOONER). YOUR EMAIL WILL BE NOT SAVED OR PUT ON A LIST, BUT WILL BE DELETED AFTER YOU PURCHASE THIS E-REPORT!
See also: Ken Korczak's Special Report: SECRETS OF A GRANT WRITER: TIPS ON GETTING GOVERNMENT GRANTS
Readers interested in the subject of witchcraft, perhaps from a historical perspective, or maybe as Wiccans, or even those who have a taste for the occult, will be attracted to this book by its title and skillfully designed cover. And you'll get a bit of all of the above.
Also, the primary subject of the book, Mary Bliss Parsons, is a real historical figure, a woman who was accused and prosecuted for witchcraft in the late 1600s, according to court records filed in Boston. The author, Din Parsons, is her actual great grandson.
And so many readers who are familiar with books on witchcraft will be expecting to read more of the same, but the author rather quickly launches into all new and unexpected territory, and this will challenge the reader, to say the least.
Many will have their credibility challenged confronting the grand vision Parsons outlines. Some may even scoff, while those with wide-open minds might ... just might ... believe that Parsons is onto something significant here. The author himself even offers the caveat that many people will consider this is a work of fiction, which he says it is not.
But that's what's good about this book, and why I give it high marks. Those interested in contemplating the "ultimate issues" of life, the universe and reality, will find much fodder for discussion upon reading this book. Parsons writes well in an easy lucid style, not boorishly dry and intellectual, but accessable to all.
PLEASE SEE: KEN KORCZAK ON AMAZON.COM
Monday, January 16, 2012
So the main character of this book Amelia is a teenager upset with her super-rich mummy because she blew $85,000 on a gown she wanted her to wear to a ball.
Why upset? Because she wished mom would have spent $85,000 helping children dying of AIDS in Africa? Or rebuilding homes for the earthquake devastated people of Haiti? No! She’s upset because her parents “don’t understand her.” Wearing an $85,000 frock to a fancy ball is “just not me,” Amelia moans.
Her real passion is dancing!
Her love interest, Matthew, also has the terrible burden of parents he describes as “extremely wealthy.” The misery!
This is a problem because his cash-bloated parents expect him to excel in academics and sports. But poor Matthew also “feels misunderstood.” He could care less about sports – what he really wants to do is take tap dancing lessons – but he fears his controlling parents will force feed him Ritalin and crush his offbeat, wacky desires.
So right out of the gate I think we have established that Amelia is not exactly Mother Teresa and Matthew sure ain’t Gandhi.
But the real fun starts when Amelia and Matthew get lost on a school hiking trip and they both croak from hypothermia.
Upon their deaths from exposure, they don’t really die but are launched into a parallel-worlds kind of afterlife – where Amelia finds super incredible amounts of love, love, LOVE!!!!
She learns that she and Matthew have loved each other through countless lifetimes, and not just any love – they are “radiantly in love!” “shining with golden love!” their souls are “shattered with exploding love!” and, and … well, they were just SO DARNED IN LOVE ALL THE TIME AND FOR ALL ETERNITY!
To give credit where it's due, this is actually a well written book, even beautifully written, when isolating the prose itself from the overall shallowness of the content. This author has flat-out talent with words. She paints gorgeous imagery of achingly lovely worlds glittering with golden sunshine and green grass strewn with multicolored wildflowers – you know, like the Teletubby planet, but even more glorious.
The bottom line is that Parallel Worlds is massive teenage narcissism in full saccharine bloom, replete with every conceivable cliché of the New Age and simplistic quantum ka-ka trotted out to form an idealistic vision of naïve love that can save us all, save the world – love that is powerful, eternal and lasting forever.
I eagerly look forward to the day when the author matures, and lives some of the genuine grit, dirt and heartache of life so that she can turn her extraordinary talent with words to the task of writing something that is real, deep, edgy and meaningful.
This book is FREE on Amazon.com as a Kindle selection here: PARALLEL WORLDS BY HEATHER MACAULEY NOELL
SEE: KEN KORCZAK ON AMAZON.COM
Sunday, January 15, 2012
Keith Richards’ biography “Life” is one of the best books ever written from the inside world of big rock-n-roll. It rivals other great rock-n-roll tomes, such as "Hammer of the Gods" the story of Led Zeppelin. It’s destined to be an important historical document that will show future generations what was happening inside and down in the trenches, especially in the early days of emergent British-brand rock.
It's also just an incredibly entertaining read through all 600 pages. Paired with journalist James Fox, the writing is somewhat "gonzo" style reminiscent of Hunter S. Thompson.
Richards comes off as frank, and yes, even humble. At times, though, evidence of a bloated rock star ego cannot be denied. As for the latter, how can you blame the guy? I'd like to see anyone else endure the onslaught of 50 years of adulation from the poor and powerful alike and not let some of it go to one's head. (Former Prime Minister Tony Blair praises Keith as "one of my biggest heroes" in a get-well letter he sent to Richards after his fall from a tree, resulting in brain damage).
I've read a couple of negative opinions of this book by other reviewers with amazement. I was astonished anyone could take a dim view. Most seemed disgusted by Richards' days as a junkie, and others found this book "rambling" and "unfocused." Some actually complained that he mentions "inconsequential" things like his near-death-experiences in several car crashes.
Well, I mean, the fact that Richards struggled monumentally with addiction to the hard stuff is a central aspect of his life story. He can’t gloss over it or deny it. He has to tell it, and he does. He doesn’t sugar coat his saytrism, nor does he justify it –- he just tells what happened. I can find no fault in his frank admission to this aspect of his life, nor do I see why other holier-than-thou types should.
I was touched by the way Richards handled his dreary childhood -- he never lapses into "poor me" sentimentality, yet gives the readers a vivid feeling of what it might have been like to grow up in a shabby post World War II London suburb, still gaping here and there with the holes of Nazi V2 rockets. Richards has also been accused in some circles of being a “momma’s boy.” And so, yes, his great love and close connection to his mother comes across in these pages – I mean, gee, the evil guy! He loved his mum!
The most admirable aspect of Richards’ attitude, for me, is this: He never claims to be anything other than “just a bloke who plays guitar in a band” – nothing more, nothing less – not a revolutionary, not a social engineer, not a man trying to change or enlighten society with his art, not an out-of-control anarchist bent on the destruction of “the establishment.” He just wants to play his gig, entertain the crowd, and then kick back with a smoke, a drink, fun with his mates and “the company” of beautiful women. That’s it.
Richards comes off as a screamingly funny guy. For example, his insistence on including his personal recipe and technique for cooking "bangers and mash" is nothing less than Vonnegut-esque! Truly hilarious!
"Life" delivers loads of Satisfaction.
SEE: KEN KORCZAK AT AMAZON.COM
Saturday, January 14, 2012
Newton and the Counterfeiter by Thomas Levenson is one of the most fascinating reads I have enjoyed in some time. It helps that I have hero-worshiped Isaac Newton since I became an amateur astronomy zealot as a child way back in the 1960s. But anyone will find this an absorbing read because it is more than an historical rendering. It's like a Sherlock Holmes mystery novel meets the biography of perhaps the single most intelligent human being ever to live.
Many know Isaac Newton as the natural philosopher, the founder of modern science, the man who gave us the inverse square law of gravity, the author of the stunning Principia Mathematica and much more --but fewer people know that in his later years, Newton was a government bureaucrat, but not just any bureaucrat. He was the Warden and later Master of the British Mint, a powerful position because it put him at the center of very financial heart of the British Empire.
Part of his duties as warden of the mint was to be the top cop investigating crimes against the mint -- that meant mostly counterfeiting -- which was rife in London. This is what led the mighty Isaac Newton into a titanic struggle against one of London's most clever criminals, the coin counterfeiting genius William Chaloner.
This is such an incredible story that it almost seems a plot cooked up for a Hollywood thriller, except it happens to be 100% true. Isaac Newton takes on the role of a crime detective as he tracks a relentless, desperate criminal, who despite being a peasant with no formal education, was smart enough to match wits with London's finest, and even the mighty Newton himself.
Levenson takes on what is naturally an extremely complex story with a lot of necessary background and presents it an effortless, lucid and seamless way, making for a book of history that sometimes reads like a thriller novel.
Newton and the Counterfeiter gets my highest possible recommendation.
CLICK HERE: KEN KORCZAK ON AMAZON.COM
Friday, January 13, 2012
In a strange, perhaps slightly counterintuitive sense, Micah Hanks is like the Carl Sagan of paranormal investigation. With this book, Magic, Mysticism and the Molecule, Hanks emerges as a keen observer and explainer of science on the edge, the occult, esoteric thought – everything that mainstream researchers consider to be “the fringe” of scientific investigation and philosophy.
Sagan was an accomplished astronomer in his own right, but by far his biggest contribution to science was in bringing the wonders of the universe to the masses in a way that was erudite, yet entertaining and awe inspiring. Likewise, Hanks has been in the trenches, so to speak, personally conducting paranormal investigations, but with this book, he shows the potential to be the “go to guy” to bring a broader understanding of paranormal phenomenon to the greater public.
In Magic, Mysticism and the Molecule, Hanks takes us from ancient times, through the Middle Ages and right on up to the present day, showing how paranormal experiences and phenomenon have been consistent and confounding across the centuries. It’s all in here -- ghosts, demons, hauntings, angels, aliens, UFOs, mystical experience, meditation, psychedelic drug induced shamanism, studies of weird brain effects by drugs and EM (electromagnetism) – and we are shown clear and intriguing connections between all of it.
Certainly, Hanks flirts with writing a book that is highly derivative because he relies heavily on the works of some of the biggest names of the cutting edge – Terrence McKenna, Rick Strassman, John Keel and many others. Too many books on paranormal topics these days are basically rehashing all the ideas which have already long been out there. But in this case, it's more like the author has chosen to stand on the shoulders of giants to that he can see further. Also, to be fair, this book is not entirely derivative because Hanks does include information from personal interviews he conducted, and he also relates some of his own real life experiences if when they help illuminate his topics.
I also like the way the book is conceived as referenced by its title. It welds together -- “magic,” (rituals and archaic practices) “mysticism” (transcendent religious thought and practice) and “molecules” (hard science of transcendent brain perceptions and function) -- in a way that delivers a fresh, overall perspective, enabling us to see a grander “whole” or process at work behind it all.
Also, on every page there is a vital “Just what the hell is really happening here!” kind of feeling. There’s a dogged almost urgent drive at getting to the bottom of the most confounding mysteries that keep popping up in all cultures across all times -- no matter what the hardened, accepted official dogma of the day is telling us about what is supposed to be true and not true.
So this book scores a high recommendation from me … and I’ll be expecting great things from Mr. Hanks in the future.
See also: THE GRALIEN REPORT
Ken Korczak is the author of: THE MAN IN THE NOTHING CHAMBER
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Scottish novelist David Lindsay died a desperately unhappy man on the edge of poverty. He wrote perhaps the greatest underground novel of the 20th Century. He was the biggest literary influence of J.R.R. Tolkien. He was vastly admired by the literary intelligencia of Britain and Europe, including C.S. Lewis.
But Lindsay’s uncanny masterpiece– A Voyage to Arcturus – sold less than 500 copies, marking him as a bad-risk pariah among publishers, and sentencing him to a life of obscurity and frustration.
Today A Voyage to Arcturus still doesn’t generate a dime because anyone can download it for free from the Internet. Yet, this book has been named to any number of the “The 100 Novels You Must Read” lists. It’s a work of singular genius. Imagine “Lord of the Rings” meets “Ulysses” or perhaps the “Odyssey” meets “Autobiography of a Yogi.” Reading it is like taking peyote while sitting in Zen meditation.
The book involves the journey of a man by the name of Maskull (mask-shell?) who attends a typical early 20th Century-style séance which turns out to be not so typical. At the séance he meets two mysterious men, Krag and Nightspore, who invite him on a journey to another planet in a far-away star system. The planet is Tormance which orbits the star Arcturus. On Tormance, Maskull embarks on a dream-like journey through the deep reaches and layers his own psyche, but also through the fundamental nature of reality and consciousness.
Sounds pretty deep, doesn’t it? And so it is. This is not an easy read; it’s never predictable, but unlike, say, Finnegan’s Wake, it’s not just a mish-mash of super avante garde literary esoterica. A Voyage to Arcturus has a logical structure leveraging a transcendental narrative that both makes sense and keeps you rocked off base at the same time. This is not a book designed to make you comfortable while it transports you through a sense of wonderment. It’s not airy-fairy, New Agey feel good fair – it’s better than that!
This is a masterpiece that will jolt you off your comfort zone. It will force you to look inside yourself for a frank inspection of what you might not want to see, but maybe what you should see.
No wonder it sold less than 500 copies – yet amazingly has been read by tens of thousands since.
Download A Voyage to Arcturus free here: ARCTURUS
Ken Korczak is the author of: THE FAIRY REDEMPTION OF JUBAL CRANCH
Sunday, January 8, 2012
Review By Ken Korczak
I love books which espouse alternative views. As the great science fiction writer Philip K Dick said: "Sometimes the best place the look for the truth is in the trash." But that doesn't mean everything in the dumpster is good to eat. The discriminating reader must separate a still fresh, half-eaten ham sandwich from a rotted apple.
I'll say I admire David Wilcock's obvious childlike enthusiasm. I don't think he's a blatant charlatan spinning bizarre theories for fun and profit. I think he genuinely believes this stuff.
But this book is jam-packed with obviously false facts. At the very least, Wilcock could not be bothered - or did not want to be bothered - to take just a few minutes to find alternative explanations for his many amazing claims. Let's me just take a random selection from the enormous load of "evidence" Wilcock's serves up in THE SOURCE FIELD INVESTIGATIONS to bolster his theory of a coming "Golden Age of 2012":
FALSE: The Boskop skull is evidence of a former advanced race in South Africa
Wilcock goes on page after page extolling the evidence that a large skull that could hold 25% more brain capacity than modern humans was found in South Africa. He bases his claim on a book co-authored by a psychiatrist and cognitive scientists Gary Lynch and Richard Granger. And they do make the claim that a possible large-brain skull was found, and they also speculate that the face of the skull would have had a small, child-like face with small nose and mouth - in short, alien like.
However, Wilcock could have taken 10 minutes to Google the truth behind Lynch and Granger's claims, he would have found they are patently off-base and speculative at best, and no other scientists agree with them. Lynch nor Granger are not paleontologists or archaeologists, and they badly erred when assuming the Boskop skull was in any way unusual. In fact, they only had a few small fragments of a skull, and extrapolated a large brain from them. But even if they were correct about the brain size, it means nothing.
To get the full story of why Wilcock is wrong about the Boskop skulls read the views of anthropologists and paleontologist John Hawks here:John Hawks
But what's even more bizarre here about Wilcock's claim is that earlier in the book, he made a lot of hay about how brain size does not matter! He gives several examples of people with damaged or surgically removed parts of their brains who maintain normal intelligence. So when it suits Wilcock to extoll the wonders of large brain size, he does so. And when it suits him to extoll the wonders of small brain size - he goes ahead and does that too.
FALSE: Wilcock says Astronomers were shocked and "embarrassed" to discover a gigantic loss of heavy elements, including oxygen, on Jupiter between 1979 and 1995.
This is absolutely ridiculous.
To make this claim, Wilcock sites information by French astronomer Tristan Guillot, but what Wilcock decides to leave out is extraordinary. First, Jupiter is 99% composed of the light gases hydrogen and helium. When you combine all of the heavier elements together, you get less than 1% of the total mass of Jupiter. The amount of oxygen on Jupiter is extremely tiny, and plays no significant role in the structure of Jupiter. Source
But what's worse, Wilcock does not seem to know this: The exact composition of Jupiter was poorly understood between 1979 and 1995 - and the reason is simple. That was before actual space probes reached Jupiter and physically sampled its atmosphere! Before the Galileo mission reached the Jupiter system in 1995, the fine details of what was inside Jupiter were not well known. For Wilcock to quote data from 1979 to 1995 - and then conveniently leave out all the best, later information gathered by actual probes - is sensationally ridiculous.
In fact, the Galileo probe data (which Wilcock ignores) "forever changed the ways scientists saw Jupiter": Jupiter Data
FALSE: Wilcock claims earthquakes events are increasing dramatically in recent years.
Anyone who wants to spend five minutes on Google can easily see this claim is 100% untrue. I mean, just go right to the experts, the USGS, the United States Geological Survey. They say: "Although it may seem that we are having more earthquakes, earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 or greater have remained fairly constant." Earthquake facts
What about that, David Wilcock? Well, he says they are not counting the 7.0 or above and only count the minor earthquakes. I invite anyone to check out the link and decide who they choose to believe.
Even where I find some of Wilcock's information fairly intriguing and compelling, one can easily find alternative explanations. Take the example of the persistent motif of the pinecone throughout religious symbolism, from the ancient Babylonians, to the Vatican to the present day. Wilcock says the pinecone is a symbol of the pineal gland in the brain, and the ancients understood that this was the "Third Eye" the cosmic doorway to higher consciousness.
That's possible, I suppose, but if one is intent on writing an honest book that is also thorough, one must at least offer alternative explanations for all the pinecone art if they are available - and they are.
Wilcock points out, for example, that the ancient Roman god Bacchus of wine and drunkenness carries a staff with a pinecone at the tip. My friends, I'll give you one guess as to what one of the primary components of wine making was back then. You guessed it: pine resin! Is that why Bacchus wields the pincone staff? What do you think?
What about the ancient Mesopotamians? Why did they favor the pinecone so much in their depictions of kings and gods? Well, fertility rites and fertility goddesses were a really big deal back then, and a pinecone is certainly an excellent symbol of regrowth and regeneration. But there's more: Pine and cedar tree were an extremely important economic commodity back then. For example, the ancient Phoenicians grew rich on their trade of timber - cedar and other pines- so naturally a pinecone might be grasped as an important symbol of wealth and fertility. Go take a look at the flag of modern-day Lebanon. It depicts a cedar tree because of the deep importance and history of this kind of pine tree in the ancient Mideast. The cedar is referenced many times in the Bible as a symbol of growth and strength. Could that be the true meaning behind all the pinecones?
At the very least, it's a valid alternative explanation - but Wilcock is not interested in anything that does not support his pet theories.
I could go on - but I think you get the picture. This book, and the many false claims of Wilcock over the years (remember his statement that world governments would disclose secret UFO information in November of 2009?) remind me of that old saying: "Even a broken clock is right twice a day."
Well, Wilcock is not just a broken clock - he is seriously cracked.
Ken Korczak is the author of MINNESOTA PARANORMALA
All NEW: KEN'S BOOK REVIEW SITE ON FACEBOOK: REMOTE BOOK REVIEWING
Saturday, January 7, 2012
Review By Ken Korczak
Harvard educated psychiatrist John E. Mack was at the peak of a distinguished career as a doctor, Harvard professor, writer and researcher. He even won the Pulitzer Prize for literature and enjoyed universal respect. Then in 1994 he astonished everyone by daring to publish a UFO book.
It was as if every accomplishment of his entire life was now called into question. A Harvard "kangaroo committee" began to investigate him. High-level academic peers condemned him. Public ridicule followed.
Ironically, Mack's 1994 book "Abduction" was a bestseller and probably made him a ton of money - opening him up to that old skeptic's attack over anything to do with UFOs - 'he did it to cash in.' I remember other quotes in the media from egg-head academics that went something like this: "John Mack is a really brilliant guy, but for some reason, he just lost it."
But Mack was only going where the science was leading him. As a therapist, he was intrigued that he was getting an increasing number of patients who claimed to have been abducted by UFO aliens. They were distressed over their experiences, but Mack was perplexed that, outside their bizarre tales of abductions, these people seemed altogether normal and mentally healthy in all other respects. They wanted to stay anonymous; in fact, they were desperate to keep their experiences a secret. It was clear they were not just a bunch of nutty attention seekers, or deeply neurotic or psychotic lunatics. They were ordinary people who needed to deal with a traumatic event.
And so what really got Mack into hot water, especially among the academic and scientific community, is that he had the audacity to suggest that maybe these people really had been abducted by aliens! That maybe they were telling the truth! It was blasphemy!
In my view, Mack, who died in 2004, was treated in much the same way the Catholic Church treated Galileo when he dared support the idea that the sun did not revolve around the earth. In the end, Mack faced no disciplinary action from Harvard, and he didn't lose his license to practice psychiatry, but he endured a scathing wind of condemnation from the "established elite" and sacrificed his standing in the medical and academic community.
Just as I found Mack's "Abductions" a riveting read, I give stellar marks to this book, "Passport to the Cosmos." It's an amazing book in many ways - it's not even really so much a book about alien abduction as it is about spiritual transformation. "Passport to the Cosmos" bears greater relationship to such spiritual classics as "Autobiography of a Yogi" by Paramahansa Yogananda than to other books about UFO-related phenomenon - although there is plenty of "alien and UFO" discussion underpinning all of the content.
In addition to the experiences or ordinary Americans, Mack also highlights the UFO-like experiences of three modern day shamans - Sequoyah Trueblood, Bernardo Peixoto and Credo Mutwa. This is significant because Mack rather brilliantly shows us the UFO phenomenon through the eyes of a different culture - perspectives that are not as entangled in the highly rational, secular, materialistic, scientific mindset of Western society. It gives us another way to look at and consider just what might be going on with this whole UFO thing. It forces us to look at it in a new light.
For many readers who have read Mack's "Abductions," this book may seem like "more of the same" but my view is that Mack's thoughts and ideas about what is going on with abduction patients ("experiencers") and the UFO phenomenon have advanced and solidified, and are stated more firmly around a more coherent theory in this book.
This is an important book. I wish millions of people would read it, and give it serious thought.
Ken Korczak is the author of The Fairy Redemption of Jubal Cranch JUBAL CRANCH
Friday, January 6, 2012
Review By Ken Korczak
Art Spevak is an anonymous nobody, alienated from society, alienated from himself, alienated from his culture. He's a man with no ambitions, no interests, and no enthusiasm. He's a loser with women, haunted about being abandoned by his birth parents, and sees no clear future for himself.
His best friend Telly Brensen is tall and handsome as a Nordic god. His spirit is fiery and bold. Women would sell a kidney for a single night with him. He's intelligent, fearless and there's no challenge in the world he can't grapple with, conquer and wrestle to the ground.
Art and Telly endure a lackluster, if not dreary middle class upbringing in the American northwest, and then get flung out into the world. They confront the brutality of war, tragedy, beautiful women, boredom, sleazy criminals, greedy and incompetent bosses, snarky coworkers, strange lands, exotic cultures and confounding philosophical dilemmas.
Does it sound like the making of the proverbial Great American Novel? It does. And this novel, HONOR AND ENTROPY comes close to just that - a Great American Novel. For me it is a no brainer to give this my top recommendation. But now let me make a few points:
The great writer and poet Randall Jarrell said: "A novel is a long piece of writing that has something wrong with it." HONOR AND ENTROPY is a superb novel, but it carries Jarrell's stigma.
Could this novel have been made better by editing out at least 200 words? That's beyond a reasonable doubt. I'd take out 300. I know, I know, it hurts! Taking a razor to prose someone sweated blood over is agony! But in the battlefield of literature, you have to accept the harsh reality that sometimes a leg must be sawed off to save the patient.
Also, this novel challenges with tricky-to-follow flash-backs, and abrupt changes in perspective of who is thinking what, when and where. Plus there are more than a dozen characters to keep track of, and this will keep even astute readers on their toes.
But look -- the best literature requires those confronting it to give something in order to receive. A book that challenges the reader is a book that delivers the most impact.
When I got into the rhythm of the flow of the narrative, the shifts and flashbacks started to feel like a finely woven pattern; I felt absorbed in the vivid world the storyline creates; I was treated to vibrant, real, believable and tragic characters I found myself caring about.
Please note that this book is not as difficult as, say, "Ulysses" by James Joyce, or maybe "Gravity's Rainbow" by Thomas Pynchon. It's even less "gonzo" than "Catch-22." All of these 1,000 pages flow along well enough, but expect a certain learning curve for the first 100 pages, or so.
What's interesting about HONOR AND ENTROPY is that it's a work of vivid American realism - yet at the same time - manages to incorporate deeper levels of allegory, while also shadowing timeless classics, especially Homer's Odyssey and Shakespeare's Hamlet. More than anything, the characters are on a hero's journey, or in the case of Art Spevak, a vision quest.
If I could grant three wishes to this book, they would be: 1. A second more aggressively edited edition is released, 2. That Hollywood comes calling to make it into a movie, and 3. It finds a gigantic audience.
Ken Korczak is the author of Bird Brain Genius BIRD BRAIN GENIUS
Thursday, January 5, 2012
Review By Ken Korczak
An incredibly lovely young American woman, oozing with allure and sexuality, jets off to Europe. She parlays her irresistible sensual powers into a small fortune by sleeping with as many super-rich, handsome men she can lure into her 5-star luxury hotel mattresses - sound good?
I suppose if you are an average woman living in, say, Iowa, and you have a boring, soul-killing job working as a stock clerk at, say, Wal-Mart, it would be very pleasant indeed to enter the world of Megan Nolan, whose serial whoring has enabled her to pack away $600,000 of sex money in a Swiss bank account. Sweet! But her adventures are only beginning!
Ms. Nolan manages to get herself involved with a devilishly handsome Saudi millionaire, who is not only a soul-shattering sex partner, but also gets her entangled in the world of international politics and the war on terror!
The jam she gets herself into is so severe, her sublimely handsome, muscular father with amazing Robert-Redford-caliber hair must also flit off to France, where police detectives have some awful news for him about his bed-hopping daughter.
Fortunately, the detective assigned to his daughter's case is no snotty French gumshoe in a wrinkled trench coat, but a sizzling hot, sexy female bombshell cop who instantly volunteers to get a DNA sample from the troubled dad by getting her, er ... hands ... on some of his sperm! (I'm not making this up!)
Yes, author James LePore knows that you don't want to be bored when you read an international thriller novel. He knows you crave stories about beautiful people having a lot of sex, punctuated by violent encounters with brutal killers, thugs, low-lifes and spies!
All this, and LePore manages to write a fairly flaccid book that has about as much tension as a game of Scrabble. On the other hand, this is an okay enough read for a lazy day on a summer beach, or if you need something to read on a long plane ride, or maybe on the bus as you travel to your crummy job at Wal-Mart.
It's typical genre fiction that does not rise to the heights of the best Ludlum or Forsyth, perhaps, but it manages to eek out maybe a C-Plus from a jaded, obscure book reviewer like me.
Ken Korczak is the author of MINNESOTA PARANORMALA