The (near) future is so bright I have to wear shades… or my eyes will burn away due to the slightly familiar hellscape I see there: A review of WINDFALL & WATERSHED by Colin Dodds

DETAILS

TITLE: Windfall/Watershed

AUTHOR: Colin Dodds

PUBLISHER: Amazon Digital Services

PAGE COUNT: 342/340

GENRE: Fiction

RELEASE DATE: January 16, 2014/May 12, 2017

FROM THE PUBLISHER

Windfall is the story of Seth Tatton, a corporate attorney with a side job – killing people for a cabal of politicians, magnates and military leaders. And even in his secret life, things aren’t what they seem, because there’s something inside him, something with big plans. But when Seth is assigned to watch a troubled young woman, all of those plans start to fall apart…

Watershed is a dystopian thriller about a troubled, pregnant woman, and the two men—a snake dealer with a sideline in secret messages and a billionaire living under a false name—who vie for her. Their struggle leads them through a near-future America of anti-technology neighborhoods and illegal hospitals, where stockbrokers moonlight as assassins, nurses procure obscure pleasures, and the powers that be blow up the new World Trade Center to goose tourism. As the mystery deepens, one thing becomes clear – the future’s about to be born… but who will change the diapers?

REVIEW

In Colin Dodds’ Windfall, readers are introduced to Seth Tatton, a man who, at time, they love to hate, and at other times, they hate to love. One of my favorite quotes from the book comes early on when we’re just getting to know Tatton:

Seth knew he was pushing his luck. But something in him twitched around Hurley—a kinship. Maybe just one predator recognizing another. It reminded Seth of the revelatory thrill that came with a stolen pleasure or a stolen life.

It explains Tatton in a simple, though stylized, way that isn’t often repeated. It’s a little tidbit of information that shows more than it tells and makes me want to read more. And should make you want to read more as well.

Though characters are the most important aspect of any story, Dodds is not content to give his readers an interesting protagonist. He also gives us a world that is twisted just enough to be simultaneously familiar and terribly frightening. It is a dystopian not-so-distant future in which Civil War II looms large, politicians and lawyers pull strings behind the scenes, and murder is a way of life.

Also, Tatton is possessed by a demon whose intricately formed history is just as interesting as his present. It’s so well-developed, in fact, I imagine Dodds did a fair amount of research in order to make the story as real as possible. In other words, Dodds manages to throw fantasy, horror, and sci-fi into a mixing bowl and stir his readers up a delicious literary cake, cook it, and serve it with a sly and knowing smile. It may be cliché to say, but trust me, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll want more.

Luckily, there is more. In Windfall’s sequel, Watershed, Tatton’s despicable boss, US Senator Robert Hurley takes center stage as he tries again and again to murder a prostitute named Raquel . . . and fails . . . again and again. This is sometimes comedic but oftentimes terrifying:

The horror was worse than the panic, like her body was trying to turn inside out just to escape. The horror told Raquel one thing: She had gotten it wrong, she had misunderstood things completely, and the price for that is and would be non negotiable.

The above quote is near the beginning of the book and sets the tone for a series of frightening events that takes place in that all-too-familiar world of the near future Tatton struggles through in Windfall. In Watershed though, readers are, at times, shown the story through the eyes of a Luddite named Norwood. This, of course, gives the world a more frightening feeling. Not only do readers get to look at this near-future and feel that pit in their bellies made up of fear of what’s to come, but they get to see it in the moment as though technology is the enemy.

At times a caper novel, at other times a chase story, a romance, a dystopian sci-fi continent-bouncing epic that takes its readers from quaint forests to bustling metropolises and the ends of the world, Watershed makes the future introduced in Windfall larger and scarier.

In our current political climate, the ideas of power and lies, of politics and morality, of war and reasons for it, sex and image, Watershed is a must read. You never know . . . it might be more of a prophesy than any of us want to believe.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

I burned through both Windfall and Watershed in a matter of days. They gave me nightmares but, I think, at the same time prepared me for the worst the future has to offer.

BLURB

Read these books. You won’t be sorry . . . though you may be changed.

Chasing Magic… A Giveaway of Sorts

Screen Shot 2017-04-30 at 4.04.34 PM

I know I’ve been pretty much gone from the blogosphere for the last few months. To those of you who read regularly, I’m sorry. I have had other matters to attend to since November, some good, some not so good. But attending to them I am.

One of those good matters is the anthology Chasing Magic from the CW Publishing House. The book, which includes my short story, “Unicorn Music,” will be released this Saturday for only 99 cents (for a limited time). Incidentally, I wrote about “Unicorn Music” months ago in this post. Anyway.

There’s an online release party for Chasing Magic over at Facebook and you’re all invited. Go here to tell the fine folks at CW you’ll be there. I’ll be hosting the online party from 1:00-1:30pm CST, answering questions, showing off my internet presence and skillz (z intended, duh), giving away a handful of autographed, paperback copies of my sci-fi/horror/dystopian novel Former. The reviews say it’s pretty good. I think you might like it. I think you might like Chasing Magic too. It’s not just a good book filled with fantastical tales of daring-do though.

giphy-downsized

giphy-downsized (1).gif

This event CW has put together sounds fun, but not just because I’ll be there. It includes the chance to do a little back-and-forth with many of the other contributors, organizers, and editors on the book as well as the chance to win some cold, hard cash. That’s right, money. It makes the world go round, you know.

From the event page:

You can meet all the authors and organizers. Read mini interviews and learn about other what other things we are all involved in. There will be numerous giveaways, not to mention THREE GRAND PRIZE GIVEAWAYS – A $50/$30/$10 Amazon Gift Card.

To enter the giveaway, just attend the event and upload your purchase receipt in the comments. So, for only 99c you have 3 chances to win a prize. 1st Prize – $50, 2nd Prize – $35, 3rd Prize – $20. Double entry for those that also place a review on amazon for one of the stories featured.

Grand Prize Giveaway’s will close 48hrs after the event starts to allow time for reviews and subsequent double entries. Names will be announced on this event page and the winners will be also be contacted directly.

So head on over to that Facebook page and sign up for the party/giveaway/thing. It’ll be fun.

I’m back and I’m political

It’s been awhile, months even, since I’ve posted. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, a lot of writing, and a lot of talking (face-to-face) with people particularly skilled in the art of communication. I’ve come to terms with many things about myself, my life . . . . Introspection, I believe, is the term. It’s been rough. But it’s been real. In the 39 years I’ve been alive I’ve made some mistakes. I’ve done some things I regret. I’ve misunderstood the way the world works. I’ve always thought I was enlightened but I was wrong. And now I can no longer stay silent in my safe white male privilege about the situations arising everywhere. Better late than never, right?

Anyway.

Here’s what I got.

To those marching, I support you and though I was not able to make it out last weekend, I’m sure there will be more. When there are, I will go and be a white male shield if that’s what I need to be. To those protesting, I support you and will join you as well. Hell, to those rioting, I can find reasons to support you too, for it was Martin Luther King Jr. who said, “A riot is the language of the unheard.” Much like him, I don’t like violence. That said, much like him, I get it . . . and the future isn’t written so who knows . . . someday I may join you too. I may not have grown up a minority, but I spent the first 10 years of my life bouncing from trailer park to trailer park. My children both benefited from Iowa’s WIC program. I’ve been poor. Because of that, I’ve felt unheard. True, my white male privilege has prevented me from feeling it as keenly as minorities, immigrants, women, the LGBTQIA community, and many many others, but I’ve felt it.

Anyway.

While Trump and his cronies have duped many like me into believing someone with power is finally listening to the little people, they haven’t duped all of us. The size of the marches says this. The overwhelming anti-Trump content on social media says this. The underwhelming size of the crowds at the inaugural parade and festivities says this. The fact that many of us are noticing that Trump’s inaugural speech was (among other things we won’t speak of) about giving America back to the people, while his first official act made it slightly more difficult for the poor to get and maintain homes, says this. The fact that Trump’s press secretary’s first official press conference was a vitriolic lie parade says this. The fact that Trump’s advisor went on Meet the Press and used the phrase “alternative facts” to describe Spicer’s (the press secretary) lies and was summarily destroyed by Chuck Todd . . . and the internet says this.

IMG_0519.JPG
I don’t know who made this, but the person is a satirical genius.

Anyway.

It also says something else, something better.

It says that Trump’s presidency, Brexit, and the rest, are not symbolic of the end of an era of Change. Rather, they are the petulant and ignorant dying gasps of an outdated mode of thought. As I observe this moribund shift, I’m reminded of Denethor from JRR Tolkien‘s The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. Denethor fears Change too. Denethor blames others for his woes. He cries foul at his friends and falls victim to the whims of his enemy. While outside his fortress, his people fight actual evil invaders, Denethor, because of his fear, succumbs to the Eye of Sauron. As he succumbs, he tries to murder his son and eventually kills himself on a brutal pyre. Trump, and those who follow/agree with him, are Denethor. If left unchecked, their fear will lead to policies that will destroy the world and the society we’ve built, and in that destruction, so too will they fall. But that is something they refuse to see, for they are blinded by fear. It is not so much that they are all racists or that they are all homophobes or bigots. Many of them are simply afraid of Change. They are afraid because their ideals have no place in our ever progressing world. They are fading fast. Unfortunately, much like a dying animal, that is when they are most dangerous.

We progressives, however, are not afraid of those afraid of Change. We are also not afraid of White Nationalists (Nazis). We are not afraid of racists, homophobes, and those who mock wisdom, intelligence, and education. We are not afraid of the climate change deniers and those who hide hate behind religious rhetoric. We are not afraid of the super rich and remarkably unqualified who will make up the next presidential cabinet. We are not afraid of the politicians (on both sides of the aisle) who have lied and lied and lied and hoarded wealth like hundreds of Scrooge McDucks. We are not afraid of their talking heads, any of them.

the_money_bin_by_vikung_fu1
Here is where Scrooge McDuck keeps his money… I wonder where your senator keeps his… probably right next to his all-inclusive healthcare.

Instead, we pity them and the impending end of their rule, of their ideals, and their selfishness. We pity them and their inability to Change.

Truth be told though, we probably shouldn’t. They have worn blinders and willfully ignored History which is all about Change. In case you’ve missed it, this fear of Change has been and always will be their downfall. I’ll admit, with Trump and Brexit, it looks like they’re going out with a bombastic bang. But Change, much like her brother Time, cannot be stopped. Virtually any history book not published by a massive Texas-based text-book company shows the truth of this statement.

As a middle-aged white man in middle America, I may look like many of those blinder wearing conservatives, but while they gaze longingly at an imagined past with nostalgic (hallucinogenic?) eyes, I, much like Peter Leyden, look to the future with hopeful ones.

 

 

It’s here

In case you missed it, The ABCs of Dinkology: Death has arrived. Go get you some of the third installment in my series about the trials and tribulations of young Max Dinkman. It’s a pretty crazy story. I think you might like it. It’s got amazing art by David Ravenberg and a fair good piece of storytelling by . . . me. Oh, and I’d be grateful if you’d write a review after you read . . . but only a good review. Bad reviews are for the birds.

dink-death-6x9

Soon

Happy Halloween, look what EAB Publishing has up it’s sleeve. dink-death-6x9

That’s right, The ABCs of Dinkology: Death (Book 3) is gonna be here soon. Read an excerpt here.

If you’re interested but unsure, check out The ABCs of Dinkology: Life and The ABCs of Dinkology: Time In-Between right now. Digital copies are free for a limited time only!

How’s that for a treat?

Alone on the Prairie

Saturday October 22, 2016, I was watching my son and my nephew on my sister and brother-in-law’s acreage near Buffalo, IA. By way of entertaining ourselves on the long, pleasant afternoon, we made a movie. It’s scary because, you know, Halloween is near and whatnot.

Anyway?

Wanna see it? Here it goes!

Maybe we’ll make another somethin’ somethin’ for Halloween . . . .

Good Schools

A strange thing occurred on the social medias last week. I noticed several discussions on what constitutes a “good school.” I don’t know if there was something in the news about it, or if there was just a temporary zeitgeist that got people to thinking about schools more than they normally do. Maybe it’s this strange election season . . . .

Anyway.

For whatever reason, the discussions popped up and I read comments, articles, and replies on the topic. I didn’t add anything. I have found in my history with social media that when I comment on serious posts and/or articles my distinct world view and sardonic voice can be . . . lost and/or misinterpreted. Also, I’ve made my fair share of social media stumbles that I don’t care to repeat. So I try to keep a voyeuristic social media presence when it comes to all things of a serious nature.

Anyway.

I read and read and came to the conclusion that no one really knows with any specificity what a good school looks like. People have different values, after all. So I thought, as an education veteran, I would attempt to create a good school. I boiled it down to a list. We all like lists, right? Buzzfeed, I’m looking at you.

Before going any further though, I must caution you, dear reader. This list is by no means finished. It is by no means perfect. It is merely a collection of thoughts on the net. I am not 100% committed to any of these concepts and would gladly take suggestions and criticisms.

  1. Though I hate to start with a negative . . . a good school must NOT be politically neutral. A good school must support the politicians and public figures that both verbally and literally (that’s the key) support them. It is time to break the legal shackles that prevent this. School systems should be allowed to endorse political candidates.
  2. A good school must put education over athletics. It seems obvious, doesn’t it . . . ?
  3. A good school must employ teachers who are also scholars. If you are teaching science, you better damn well be a scientist. If you’re teaching writing, you better damn well be a writer. Knowledge without application and understanding, after all, is useless.
  4. A good school must employ administrators who never leave the classroom. In other words, the principal should teach at least one class a day . . . or maybe a week . . . I guess I’d be fine with a week. If this means there is no principal in the traditional sense, but a committee of teachers that runs the school, then so be it.
  5. A good school must be allowed to operate in a way that is best suited to support the students attending classes there. Does that mean some schools will have different classes than others? Does it mean, certain schools will be required to do less or more by way of state and national requirements? Yes.
  6. Speaking of state and national requirements . . . that one is tricky. I support a national plan for public schools. For instance, in English 9, across the nation, I’m not against the idea that all students should learn about thesis development or some such thing. It could be a required aspect of students’ education. That said, it should be up to the teachers how that knowledge is disseminated. I guess that’s the ultimate take away here–how the knowledge is disseminated should be up to the person doing the teaching.
  7. A good school should be rigorous. I have found that most people can and will do what is expected of them. High expectations are a must. for all parties involved: students, teachers, and administrators. Additionally, a good school must be supportive. For example, understand the tree climbing fish scenario and/or understand that expecting teachers to get multiple degrees without financial support is ludicrous.giphy-15
  8. A good school has zero tolerance for bullying.
  9. A good school does not bow to the whims of parents who have no concept of what education is like beyond what it was like when they were students in classrooms many moons and seasons prior to today. Nor does a good school let a teacher who has lost his or her way keep teaching.
  10. A good school is there, on paper anyway, to teach children how to take in and interpret information. That said, in the meantime, students also develop relationships with their teachers, friends, and administrators. They learn how to interact with people they disagree with. They learn how to behave in professional environments and non-professional ones. In other words, they learn how to survive. A good school must employ teachers, administrators, counselors, food workers, custodians, and IT professionals who all understand that school is about so much more than traditional book learning.
  11. Oh, and finally, good schools should have uniforms.
    1. BAM!