Before God

The first contact was quiet, obscure, and by any conventional standard quite unremarkable.  It required only a breath.  Whatever concept scientists, writers, and other visionaries of the ages may have had about the event, this wasn’t it.

I wouldn’t call it serendipitous, that first contact.  It was not, by definition, random or by chance, and it was not necessarily a happy circumstance.  Whether or not it was beneficial would be for later generations to decide.  But there was the fact that when contact did occur, it was carried on the wind to a child.  And that was the significant thing.

Children, especially very young ones, are non-binary. Binary thought is something children have to be taught.  Binary thought doesn’t come naturally to children, but it seems essential to adults.  The reason it is essential, of course, is that it helps adults establish the spatial and temporal boundaries in their lives.  Yes/no, true/false, in/out, black/white.  All ones and zeros.

The binary structure is carried on through all legal and religious paradigms.  Legal/illegal, saved/unsaved, living/dead, heaven/hell, start/finish, beginning/end.  To have a binary relationship, of course, there must be an incompatible opposite.  So if there is an alpha, there must also be an omega.

Furthermore, for whatever state we are in, we must have a beginning and an end, such as birth/death.  For this reason, the Bible begins with “In the beginning” and concludes with the end of the world.  In the same way, and for many of the same reasons, scientists developed the theory of the “Big Bang” and theorize about the death of the universe.  If the universe began, therefore it must also end.

Now besides having a compulsion to categorize their existence in binary terms, humans also share a compulsion to codify their categorization.  They did this first in the form of storytelling, then in writing.  So when they codified their understanding of the genesis of the universe, they rightfully attributed its design and complexity to something other than themselves.  This something other, they called God.

Because they knew that they weren’t capable of creating the universe, and they also weren’t capable of conceiving of an entity that was completely unlike themselves, the God they created was given human attributes.  God could be possessive, angry, jealous, creative, loving, gentle, forgiving, brutal, and even genocidal.  In other words, God is us.

And we look at the universe through the filter of “us”.  We search for planets like ours.  We hunt for alien life with characteristics from our own experience.  We have a difficult time conceiving of an entity or a space that is boundlessly infinite.  And yet.  There it was.

Lighter than breath and older than our universe, from before even God existed, it drifted down from the infinite cold of boundless space to find a mind that had yet to know its limitations.  From that moment, the girl was something more.

©Copyright 2017 by Kevin Fraleigh

And then I wrote some romance

Every so often I like to share what I’m currently working on.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m working on the manuscript for a story tentatively titled, ‘Clarice’.   I’ve got around 42,000 words so far.  While story development is slow, because I’m pulled in so many different directions, the story itself is coming along very nicely.

The characters are speaking to me during the day and whispering to me at night.  The width and breadth of action is increasingly expansive, the themes deep and meaningful, and the science—the physics—works to ground the story in realm of believability.

So here is a short extract from what I’ve most recently written.  I look forward to your comments and criticisms.

56

To say that Danny awoke would be a misnomer.  More correctly, Danny was awake.  Fully awake.  More awake than he had been in a very long time—however that might be determined—and that was good.  He wanted to be awake.  The smell of the leaves and the cool, crisp autumn air invigorated him.  For this moment, life was an enviable state to be in, and he wished he could make it last forever.  He was young and healthy and in love, with the entire universe waiting for him to achieve his destiny.

He was standing at the corner of Fifth and Main, with traffic humming by without a break.  And that was just so normal—people bustling down the sidewalks, cars honking, children laughing.  He was waiting for her, for Clarice.  This is where they met every evening after work.  She worked uptown, he worked downtown, and they met in the middle, just a few blocks from their apartment.

Danny paced at the corner.  He watched for her, straining to get his first glimpse of her.  That first glimpse would almost bring him to his knees, it made him so weak with love and wanting her.  He waited, afraid to look away—even at his watch—for fear that he might miss her, and that by missing her he might be lost to her forever.

Like a good soldier he stood his ground and kept his watch.  Then, from the crowd, as one might appear from a mist, there she was.  Tall, thin, and radiant, her long hair tucked under a knit cap.  She not so much walked as gracefully floated over the pavement.  At least to his eyes, there was no fault in her stride, there was only perfection in her walk.

As she approached, and his anticipation grew, he tried to remember when he first loved her, but he found it impossible.  It was like trying to remember his first breath or his first tear.  It just always was.  It was part of his being, and without it there was nothing.

When she arrived at the curb, traffic stopped.  He was sure it was for her that the traffic had stopped, that her stride be unimpaired, that her life be uninterrupted.

© Copyright 2017 by Kevin Fraleigh

What’s on my bookshelf

Back in the days before the internet, when there were only three channels on TV (four if you got PBS), information was derived primarily from books. They were made of paper, could be heavy, and were often awkward and inconvenient to carry. Despite this, a physical, printed book carried a certain authority.

The physical printing process was long, the editing meticulous, and production was expensive.  A thick volume or multiple volumes caused a sense of awe.

I remember well a high school field trip to New York City that included a visit to the largest book store I’d ever seen, one that made our local Walden Books seem pathetic by comparison.  It seemed to have miles of aisles crammed with titles that promised to reveal the wisdom of the ages.  And that’s what I was after, the wisdom of the ancients, forbidden and dark, and very appealing to a student in the occult-crazy early seventies.

In that book store I found Montague Summers’ The Malleus Maleficarum and  The Satanic Bible by Anton Szandor Lavey.  These books, among others, opened my mind to the validity of alternate philosophies and religions.  They didn’t turn me into a Satanist, but they helped me to see that there were other paths to consider.

The different paths away from the mainstream, and what I found along them, were the genesis for what I write.  Whether it be about an alternate dimension, a psychopath, or love in a dystopian future, it all began with expanding my world view through books.

For writers, books beget books, and the key to begetting your best work is diversity in the books that influence your storytelling.  Writers get their inspiration from a variety of sources, chief among these being other writers.  Having access to a rich and diverse library–either yours or the one down the street– is, in my experience, absolutely essential.

For instance some of the books on my bookself include:

And I haven’t even mentioned Stephen King, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, or any of the other fiction writers that have played a role in my writing.  I could go on and on, but I will leave that for another post.

You can see more of my influences on the What’s On My Bookshelf page.  How many of them have you read?  What interests do we have in common?  How has your reading influenced your writing–or desire to write?

The list is far from complete and less than authoritative, but it will be, hopefully, growing in the next few months as I have time to add to it.  You might also note that although each of the books listed on the page has a link to Amazon.com, that isn’t a recommendation to buy that particular edition or format.  I just linked to the edition that I have.
© Copyright 2017 by Kevin Fraleigh.

So here’s the thing…

Some physicists who subscribe to the idea of a multiverse, suggest that there may have also been multiple big bangs.  Mightn’t it be possible that from these multiple existences and geneses a certain amount of crossover might have occurred?  This crossover might go a long way towards answering the myriad questions we have about our origins.

Thoughts?

© Copyright 2017 by Kevin Fraleigh.

God, Physics, or Both?

God is physics or physics is god, which one is it? The purpose of God is to create everything. The purpose of physics is to explain how everything was created. When God created everything he established immutable laws to govern nature. The purpose of physics is to not only codify those laws, but to provide an understanding of how those laws operate in the universe. If this is true then there is no conflict between physics and God. That which God does, physics explains.

The apparent conflict between God and physics stems from the fact that evangelical Christianity is basically irrational. Now, that doesn’t mean that Christianity is not true, nor does it mean that salvation is empty. Where Christians run into trouble with physics is when Christians attempt to lock God into the Bible rather than seeing God in the context of a larger expansive universe or even multiple universes.

Christians who champion ideas such as a 6,000 year old universe are irrational. Science, using physics to explain the process by which God brought the universe into existence, has demonstrated rationally and logically that the universe is much much older than 6,000 years. In fact, the universe is billions and billions of years old. And the universe is much much larger anything here on earth. This is a rational, logical conclusion based on fact.

The Bible, it must be understood, is a book of stories, myths, and value laden guidance provided to the world at a specific time to a specific people for a specific purpose. When we attempt to apply every fact in the Bible as absolute truth and absolute law, we violate any sense of rationality. The belief in the in salability of an interpretive imperfect text violets any sense of rationality. Clinging to the idea that every word in the Bible is the word of God inerrant is to imprison God within a book. It is to limit the reach of God to our own parochial understanding of the universe. It is to do the world―and all the worlds that may be, that are yet to be discovered―a disservice, because it limits God to a specific place and time in history. God is the God of the universe, in fact, all the universes that are, have been, or will be.

The Bible that we have today is a result of man’s natural desire to explain his existence and the existence of everything. And as such it reflects as much about man as it does about God. It reflects our understanding of God and tries to explain it within the context of the time and place in which it was compiled. That does not mean that the Bible is any less valid in providing an understanding of God or Jesus for the historical context in which the texts in the Bible were written.

The concepts, the values, and the historical narrative remain of value as a way of understanding our relationship to God and his son, Jesus Christ. But we must understand that it isn’t the end all in our understanding of the world and the universe in which we exist. The Bible is the starting point and it must be viewed as such. God has given us the ability to understand the world and the universe and the laws that govern it. Physics provides us with an understanding and definition of the laws of the universe, the universe that God created.

Christians must understand as they try to bring others to Christ, that the very people they are trying to bring to Christ they may be driving off by their irrational, unquestioning devotion to a literal interpretation of the Bible and limited world vision. In order to save the world, in fact, to potentially save all worlds, Christians must understand that the people who they are trying to save are rational beings and will not accept an irrational message. It is not enough to say that this or that happened because it is a mystery, nor is it enough to say that one must just believe because one must believe. I believe they are too smart for that. They are too much of the world. They are rational beings and will not accept an irrational message. Physics provides the rational, logical answer to how the world began and how the universe formed. God provides the answer as to why the earth was created and why the universe exists.
© Copyright 2014 by Kevin Fraleigh.

My Wife Won’t Read My Stories!

Although she regularly reads my blog, my wife, Malette, isn’t comfortable with the horror/fantasy genre.  She likes other things.  One of her favorite writers is Johanna Lindsey.  And that’s okay, different strokes for different folks, as they say.

But there are times I’m envious of Leo Tolstoy whose wife, Sofia, was his secretary, proof-reader, and financial manager.  And she rewrote his drafts every night and recopied War and Peace seven times before it was finished. (source), I can’t complain.  She grants me a lot of latitude.  She knows that writing is important to me and she gives me time to pursue it.  The problem is the subject matter.

I know there are those who pump out formulaic pulp fiction of the genre du jour, but to me writing is about more than just putting words down on a page.   The subject matter is something I am drawn into, not something that is created the way you might write a procedural computer manual, step by step without an emotional component.

Writing can be intensely personal, even if it’s veiled in the actions of a character.  Not everyone is comfortable with subjects like rape, murder, torture, and suicide.

Writing can be disturbing, even unnerving.  Not everyone is comfortable with graphic violence and sex, even though it is integral to the plot.  One review of my first novel, Any Tomorrow: The Calling, focused so much on the violence of serial killer Henry Turner, that it missed mentioning the final pivotal third of the book!

Writing can be challenging, causing us to question what we hold as unquestionable truths, such as our faith in God or lack of it.  Fantasy can even make us question our sense of reality by blending the fantastic with the plausible and fiction with physics.

So, do I wish Malette would read my books and partner with me on their development and publication?  You bet.  I think it would be a great experience for both of us.  But I can certainly understand why she doesn’t.  No matter how close you are as a couple, sometimes there are roads you must travel alone. The journey of the horror writer requires that I travel that road alone.

And, although she has never mentioned it, there may be a bit of unconscious trepidation that I may need to act out what I describe, you know, to make sure I get it right.  After all, if I can describe something like how thirteen year old Henry Turner discovered the pleasure of death, wouldn’t you feel a little nervous?

Henry wanted to feel good.  Then something happened.  Something terrible and wonderful.  Henry acted, initiating a series of events with a quickness he did not realize he was capable of.  Señora Amaya, although thin and wiry, was no match for either Henry’s speed or strength.  In a moment, Henry pushed down on Señora Amaya’s right leg, increasing pressure on the gas pedal, bringing the sedan to almost sixty miles per hour.  Then he simultaneously released her seat belt, reached over her to open her door, and pushed her through it.  She didn’t fall out completely, holding onto the inside door handle for her life.  The sedan immediately began to slow.  Rather than pushing her further out, Henry twisted the steering wheel to bring the driver’s door in line with the oncoming traffic.  The delivery van from Fredrico’s Market, Best Meats In Norwalk, swerved to avoid collision, but it was too late.  Evidently Señora Amaya realized this also, because a moment before the front of the van ripped the door from the sedan’s frame and cut her in two, she let out a scream filled with such terror that Henry for a moment lost his breath.  Henry felt horror, excitement, and arousal.  He was conflicted, but in the deepest recesses of his mind there was that voice.  It was always there, and perhaps had always been there, just below the white noise that constituted the day to day life of a child.  It had been there waiting.  And now it spoke reassuringly.  Henry had taken his first blood and the voice promised him there would be more.

Henry didn’t think about the wet stickiness in his underpants, all he felt was the hardness.  He looked into the driver’s seat, at the remains of Señora Amaya, with a cool consideration.  Any other thirteen year old would have screamed his lungs out, but not Henry.  He just sat there, looking at what was left of her.  The EMTs said he was in shock, the erection just part of it.  Happens sometimes, they said.  There was an investigation, of course, but no one could believe that Henry, wonderful, smart, loving Henry, could be involved with Señora Amaya’s death.  It was all just a terrible accident.  (From Any Tomorrow: The Calling)

On the other hand, I also wish I could write something that she could enjoy, say, a good light historical romance.  Maybe something with a beautiful Amazon queen named Xentocha who captures hunky conquistadors and makes them her slaves, but in the end finds love with the wealthy, but arrogant Don Diego who sacrifices everything to be with her.

Maybe I should try that.  Maybe I should just keep things as they are.  What do you think?  Trying to write something so far outside my comfort zone would be a real challenge for me.  Would you be comfortable taking on a challenge like that?

####

Now, on an entirely different subject, I’ve mentioned before that eFiction Magazine has a great community of writers and readers, many of whom participate in the writer’s workshop.  Last week I submitted another short story, called “Smashing Mailboxes” to the workshop for comments.  I do this because I know I can count on the eFiction community to give me support and solid criticism of my writing.  Once the story has been edited through the workshop, I’ll submit it for publication.

If you are an indie writer, whether you write short stories or novels, regardless of genre, be sure to check out eFiction Magazine.

Shameless promotion: My novels, Any Tomorrow: The Calling and Any Tomorrow: The Curse, are available from leading eBook distributors such as Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble.

If you would like to share your ideas about what I’ve written, feel free to contact me either on the blog or using other social media.  Thanks.
© Copyright 2011 by Kevin Fraleigh.

There And Back Again!

I admit that the title of this post isn’t original, but I figure that if it was good enough for Bilbo Baggins, it’s certainly good enough for me.  I am now home again after spending almost a month on the road and slowly beginning to pick up where I left off.

My second novel, Any Tomorrow: The Curse, is out at all the major ebook retailers.  This is the good news.  The bad news is that when I search the Barnes & Noble website for “any tomorrow”, only the second novel displays in the results.  To find my first novel, Any Tomorrow: The Calling, I have to search on the full name.  Other sites display both ebooks in the same results page.  I have a suspicion that although the titles are different, the site is seeing them as different versions of the same book.  I’ll have to contact Smashwords to see if I can get that fixed.

I am in the early stages of writing my fourth novel.  Like the first three it’s horror/fantasy swirled around a core of physics.  Physics, you say?  Yes, physics is why things happen.  In my novels there is no magic, no supernatural, no something from nothing.  There is a reason for everything.

The basic premise is this:  It’s 1933.  The world is changing.  The Great Depression.  Poverty.  Fear.  Social unrest.  Fascism is rising in Europe.  Just when you think things couldn’t get worse something happens that changes everything.  Suddenly time and space compress and everything that is 2011 is imposed on 1933.  All the physical attributes, all the data, but no people.  Think about it, one moment you’re driving your 1928 Ford sedan, the next moment you’re behind the wheel of a 2011 Toyota Prius.  More than that, what about World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan?   Would they have happened if their histories were already known?  How would governments react?  How would you react?

I’ve already developed a framework for most of this ―for how things happen at least ―understanding that there must be certain rules to prevent the possibility of a temporal paradox.  A temporal paradox would be something like if a man is killed before he fathers his children who live in the imposed future, the children would die before they were born.  That could be a very bad thing.

Understandably, the actual story won’t be the story of that strange world, but will take place within it.  Trying to address every issue and event would take too long and the risk of losing focus would be too great.  The trick will be to focus on the pivotal characters and let them take me through the world.  At this point I’ve got only a general starting point, but if this novel is anything like the last three, it should be a wild ride.

So here’s my plan ― let me know what you think of it ― as I make progress on the novel, I’ll post bits and pieces and ask for your opinions which you can provide to me either by leaving a comment or by using the other social media.  This is similar to participating in the Workshop at eFiction Magazine.  In fact, in the Workshop I currently have the whole first chapter up for review.

And I’ll do the same for you.  Here is a link to the first chapter.  Your comments are encouraged.  But the question I really need answered is this: Does what I’ve written make you want to know more? 

[Sorry, the first chapter is no longer available for review.  The full story, however, is included as a bonus in Any Tomorrow Complete.  Thanks.]

If you’d like to leave a comment about this post or any other, please do I so.  I’d love to hear from you.
© Copyright 2011 by Kevin Fraleigh.

Physics and Religion

Fiction is great.  Fiction is wonderful.  I love fiction, especially an edgy mix of horror, fantasy, and psychological tension.  Nothing to my mind can beat it.  However, no matter how wild the fiction is, there will be a point of tangency between the fictional world and reality.  In order to make the fiction believable, the reality must be believable.  If the fiction is so far past the point of believability that the reader can’t grasp it or somehow relate it to his own experience, there’s a high probability the reader will put down your book and may never be back.

My book, Any Tomorrow: The Calling, is the first in the Any Tomorrow Trilogy.  It is a story that combines horror with fantasy, but the fantastical elements of the story are rooted in fact.  To be more exact, they are rooted in physics.  Without giving away the plot, I’ll just say that physics is essential, because without a rudimentary understanding of physics, the story couldn’t have been written.

My interest in theoretical physics began many years ago with an article I read about Paul Dirac (1902 – 1984).  I can’t even specifically remember what the article was about, but the idea that within science so much more is possible than we experience in our day-to-day lives fascinated me.  Galaxies, universes, time, black holes, temporal-spatial anomalies ― physics brings all of these from the realms of magic to scientific possibility.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against magic, it’s very popular, like Harry Potter, like religion.  Magic suggests the possibility of action with a causality that is other than provable.  You can’t objectively prove that ‘the force’ exists or, for that matter, God.  Both require abandoning logic and relying on faith.

Physics, on the other hand, is testable, objectively provable, and as such provides at least a kernel of fact on which to base the reality portion of my fiction.  As a fiction writer, do I have to stick to the facts?  Of course not.  Start with something verifiable and take off into the realms of fantasy.

For anyone who might be interested in adding a little physics, or at least the concept of physics, to their writing I might suggest Walter Isaacson’s biography of Einstein as a good place to start.  It’s very readable and a fascinating life story.  And if you really feel inspired, you can always research the Einstein Archives Online.  I haven’t done too much there, but it looks fascinating.

If you have comments about this or any of my posts, click the Leave a comment link and let me know what your concerns are.  Thanks.
© Copyright 2011 by Kevin Fraleigh.