Book Review:  A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead by Dennis McNally – Part One: Background

I don’t think I ever heard of the Grateful Dead until in 1970 at the age of seventeen I headed down to Santa Clara University from Seattle for my first and only year of college. I was immature, naive, and introverted – in other words, totally unprepared to become immersed in a San Francisco Bay Area still reverberating from the youth revolution of the late sixties. I didn’t really have much motivation for going to college other than it was expected of me so that is what I did. Without a specific focus on the future or any inclination to study, I was swept away into a subculture bursting with drugs and music. My next door neighbor in the dorm smoked cannabis like a chimney and always had plenty to pass around. Besides marijuana, I experimented with hallucinogens such as LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline. And along with the acid and other psychedelics came the Grateful Dead. As my compatriots and I smoked dope or spaced out on stronger stuff, the Dead’s albums Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty were often playing in the background.

On one occasion, some of my stoner buddies and I went to the Fillmore West in San Francisco to experience the Grateful Dead live in concert. It was a very informal occasion. The band seemed to be on the same level as the audience, almost as if they were part of it; everyone, performers and listeners, seemed part of a gestalt. The Dead’s improvisation extended the songs I had heard precisely and succinctly played on the albums into prolonged and unique creations. This was the only time I have ever been to a Dead concert, but it was definitely a memorable one. I must have been high, but even so decades later I still clearly recall my wonder and amazement at that singular musical event.

I never saw the Grateful Dead live again, but Workingman’s Dead remains one of my favorite albums of all time. A few years ago, after listening to the album over and over, I wrote several science fiction and fantasy stories based on about half a dozen of the songs; some have already been published, while others have been bought by magazines or anthologies but have not yet come out. Several of the songs on American Beauty are also indelibly imbedded in my psyche. I know them so well that I can play them clearly in my mind, lyrics and all, even if I don’t have access to a recording. When my thoughts are jangled and confused or I can’t get some wretched commercial jingle out of my head, all I have to do is put on “Uncle John’s Band” or “New Speedway Boogie” or “Ripple” or “Sugar Magnolia” and it really flushes out the pipes and refreshes me.

Of course, the Grateful Dead were only one facet of a complex kaleidoscope of musical and cultural innovation that took place in the Bay Area in the sixties and beyond. In this book, McNally not only traces the stories of the individual members of the Dead and how they all came together and began playing their idiosyncratic music, but the evolution of the entire west coast rock scene, the drug culture, the hippies, and more.

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Remembering Greg Bear

Science fiction and fantasy writer Greg Bear died on November 19, 2022. I was (and am) an outlier, having lived overseas for thirty-five years and only recently, in the past several years, having become acquainted with other writers in the area. I didn’t know Greg as well as most of the other members of the Clarion West and Seattle area science fiction community, but I knew him well enough to consider his loss devastating.

I met and talked with Greg several times at parties, conventions, and so on, and on one of these occasions he invited me to a Clarion West party at his home. When I arrived I felt awed and somewhat intimidated, but Greg radiated friendliness and hospitality and immediately helped me feel at ease. That was an unforgettable day.

I met Greg again at the memorial for science fiction writer Vonda McIntyre. We were talking outside after the event and he asked me how it was going. When Greg asked something like this, it was not a mere formality; he sincerely wanted to know. I told him that I’d had a few victories, some story acceptances, but I was discouraged by the quantity of rejections after trying so hard for so long. Greg assured me that it was all part of being a writer, and that he still received rejections sometimes himself. Reassuring, coming from a master like him. In fact, Vonda had told me something similar the last time I’d seen her. Rejections are part of the game.

I could always count on Greg to be kind, attentive, and encouraging. And now he’s gone, at least from here for now. I attended the Clarion West workshop in Seattle in 1973. After that, as I said, I was gone for a long time. When I returned, I suppose I was drawn to and became close to writers of similar age to mine. One by one, they are departing to worlds unknown. First Vonda, then Bruce Taylor, and now Greg. It’s the way of things, of course, but my heart hurts a little more and feels a little emptier each time. Rest in peace, Greg.

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I Finally Got COVID: A Perspective

I figured that I had escaped it, that it was behind me. After all, since the pandemic began I have been faithfully isolating, wearing masks in crowded places, and obtaining vaccinations and boosters whenever they became available. I already worked from home, so that wasn’t a problem. I haven’t recently gone to the science fiction conventions or gatherings of writers that for years I used to attend regularly. When my youngest son moved away to college I was even more isolated and still working from home. Finally, though, in the last half a year or so, I stepped out and attended a few meet-ups of people interested in international travel, just to get out and socialize for a change. It must have been at the latest of these, last Wednesday evening, at which the COVID virus caught up with me.

On Thursday everything seemed normal. On Friday I started the day feeling fine. I performed my forty-five minute calisthenics and yoga exercise routine in midmorning, and shortly afterwards I embarked on a three-mile walk up and down steep hills. Nothing unusual there. Except by the end of it I had the odd sensation that something was wrong. I prepared and ate lunch but it didn’t settle as well as it usually does. In the afternoon I felt feverish, and I had strong aches in the joints and muscles of my shoulders and neck. I put off taking a COVID test because I didn’t want to have COVID. Instead, I decided to take my temperature. My thermometer’s battery had run out so I had to rummage in kitchen drawers until I found a replacement. I had a fever, all right. So then I submitted to the inevitable. The line in the COVID test came out starkly, doubtlessly positive. I sent a message on Facebook to my immediate family, my five sons and my ex-wife, to let them know. I sat down to watch a movie but despite my turning the heat up in the room and putting on layers of clothing, it was hard to stay warm. And whenever I felt even a slight chill I would begin to shiver. It was hard to decide what to eat, and the food I finally prepared tasted strange so I ended up throwing most of it away. At least I slept well.

Saturday morning I woke up early feeling feverish, achy, and weak. Still, I had gone to bed early and got enough sleep and so I prepared some coffee and thought I’d try to get some work done. I had just taken on some article assignments and couldn’t cancel them. It took all the strength and resolve I had to sit upright in front of my computer and try to focus. I somehow managed to write one article and do a few other things. In the meantime, my family had rallied. Several of them called me in a group chat and asked how I was. One of my sons did some research and found a website run by the Washington State government offering access to Paxlovid, a COVID drug being offered to immune-compromised individuals. I qualified because of my age (almost 70). When I called the number, the person on the phone was sympathetic and efficient. Within half an hour a prescription had arrived at the closest pharmacy. One of my sons went to pick it up, along with a pulse oximeter to measure my blood oxygen level, which my family insisted I check several times a day. Nothing like having folks in your corner. Again I had little appetite for lunch or for dinner, and the feverish shivering continued whenever I felt the slightest bit cold.

Sunday the main symptoms were frequent sneezing, runny nose, and sore throat. (I must mention on the bright side that through all this my lungs stayed clear and strong; I was spared the congestion in the lungs that is a common symptom. I also never had a headache, which I have also read is common.) I badly wanted to take a walk but refrained because I couldn’t comfortably wear a mask with all the snot and I didn’t want to spray contamination all over the place. Anyway, I was still very tired and wouldn’t have got far.

Monday the sneezing and runny nose were almost gone but I had a painful sore throat. I tried to do my exercise routine but only managed about a quarter of it before I realized I wasn’t up to the task. I kept my work schedule, and I began to enjoy normal meals again.

Tuesday (today) the symptoms are almost all gone, except a lingering sore throat. I noticed, though, that I was a bit more spaced-out and apprehensive than usual. I wasn’t surprised about this after I read about the mental effects of the COVID virus.

In conclusion, I have to say that the COVID symptoms I have experienced (others have different and sometimes much more serious symptoms) were physically debilitating, painful, and uncomfortable, but nothing too difficult to overcome or at least endure. For me, the worst part of having COVID has been the feeling of increased isolation. I already spent most of my time alone, but now that I had COVID I realized that I couldn’t go out to seek companionship even if I wanted to because I would risk endangering others. It made me feel like I was in a prison of sorts. I occasional felt a sort of despair over whether I would ever again be able to socialize with friends and acquaintances. It made me feel very, very alone. I thought of the poor people who got COVID in the early stages of the pandemic who were left to die by themselves in hospital rooms, cut off from the solace of their families, even the nurses and doctors sometimes afraid to approach them. What a horror to be so alone, in pain, fighting to breathe, and acutely aware of your imminent demise! Maybe it’s good that I have finally got COVID. I hadn’t been sick in years. It put my mortality back into perspective. We’re all adapting to it, but it is still out there, prowling, on the hunt. And if it’s not COVID it will be something else. There’s always something. Remember: Our mortality rate as humans is one hundred percent. No exceptions. Sure makes me want to make good use of whatever time I have left.

Postscript: By Friday, a week after the first symptoms appeared, I did my entire exercise regimen and afterwards rejoiced in my returned strength. (Before I took this and other steps, on Thursday I talked on the phone with a registered nurse from the clinic where I receive primary medical care.) I now have no more symptoms at all. The only difference with my pre-COVID health is that I sleep longer and deeper these days; my system is doubtlessly attempting to recover from the sucker punch COVID threw at it.

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Another Look:  After the Rosy-Fingered Dawn: A Memoir of Greece

Greece has always been regarded as the birthplace of western civilization and a Mediterranean paradise.  In The Iliad and The Odyssey Homer uses the magical epithet rosy-fingered dawn to describe the sunrise over a land of myth, fascination, and mystery.  But when preconceptions and illusions are swept aside, what is Greece really like?

John Walters has lived in Greece for over fifteen years.  He has hitchhiked over many of its roads; traveled by camper; journeyed by plane, boat, bus, car, taxi, motorcycle, and on foot.  He has lived and worked and raised a family among Greeks.  He offers insight from an intimate perspective on aspects of Greek society and culture of which tourists are unaware.

Many have visited Greece and afterwards acknowledged that the country has profoundly changed them.  This memoir is for those who feel something special when they think of Greece and Greeks, those for whom Greece holds a special thrall, those who have visited and have their own memories of the place, and those who would like to visit someday and know that when they do they will obtain new insight, new clarity, and will never be the same again.

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Book Review:  Sea of Tranquility: A Novel by Emily St. John Mandel

Sea of Tranquility is marketed as a mainstream novel but it is in fact science fiction. It is a story of time travel and human colonies on the moon, on other planets and moons in the solar system, and on nearby solar systems. It concerns a particular anomaly under investigation by an elite, malevolent Time Institute that ostensibly imposes harsh rules to prevent dangerous paradoxes but in fact is cruel towards its employees in a cold bureaucratic power-hungry sort of way.

Mandel begins her tale on Vancouver Island in British Columbia in 1912, where she first introduces the anomaly, skips forward to an artistic demonstration in 2020, where the anomaly is again revealed, jumps forward again to a book tour in 2203, in which the novel the author is promoting contains glimpses of the anomaly, and finally moves to 2401, the era of the Time Institute. Mandel then progressively backtracks to sew together the different pieces of the story and show how they are all interrelated.

It is a very entertaining story told in a sparse, easy to read style. It is also quite short in comparison to other science fiction tales on similar themes, not much more than novella length after accounting for the numerous blank pages and chapters consisting of only a few sentences. It does not bring any new ideas to the genre, but that’s fairly standard nowadays. Almost all of modern science fiction and fantasy consists of riffs from tropes and ideas first presented in the pulp era of the early and mid-twentieth century. In fact, the definitive time travel paradox stories by which most others are judged were “By His Bootstraps” (1941) and “All You Zombies” (1958), both written by the late great Robert A. Heinlein.

Sea of Tranquility is a worthy addition to the genre. It is fun and entertaining, and the characters are fairly well fleshed-out. It is also topical and relevant to our era in that in one of the timelines a solar-system-wide pandemic is a major plot point.

I recommend this novel. It’s a good book. It is another indication of the absorption of genre literature into the mainstream. I notice, in fact, when I go to the library and peruse the “peak pick” shelves (popular new books that are available without reservation for shorter borrowing periods) that a large percentage of best-selling novels have science fiction and fantasy elements. It made me wonder why one book and not another receives a genre label. Clearly it has nothing to do with content or quality, because I know of many high-quality novels that remain marginalized because of their designations as genre literature. My own preference would be to strip away all such arbitrary labels in fiction and let each book rise or fall on its own unique merits, but that’s probably not going to happen because of the vagaries and strictures of marketing, listings, awards, and so on. Still, this modern trend is an indication that writers can be freer to let loose and sail the winds of imagination wherever they might lead, and that is certainly a good thing.

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On the Reading and Implementation of Self Help Books: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, Tiny Habits by B.J. Fogg, and Others

We all need help. We all have areas of our lives that need improvement. In my case, I find myself living alone in a one-bedroom apartment after having raised five sons overseas (mainly in Greece) in an extremely lively atmosphere, effectively isolated since the COVID pandemic began, struggling to survive financially, rejoicing at the end of each month when I manage to pay my rent and other bills one more time. I work as a freelance writer and publisher and I don’t want to change that, but I wonder why prosperity has eluded me when others in similar occupations seem to be flourishing. I am continually reading, so it is natural for me to seek assistance through books and research. With this in mind, I perused lists and reviews and suggestions and culled some self-help books from the library.

At first I thought not to write reviews of these self-help books. After all, there is a stigma attached to them. Although some are wildly popular, they often tend to offer impractical or overly simplistic advice intended only for a certain strata of persona. As you will see when I get into details, this is the case here too. However, I have undergone this experience of studying these books to see what they have to offer, and I want to pass on whatever I have gleaned to you.

The first book will remain unnamed, and I’m sorry about that. I know it would be more helpful to focus on the exact title, but with very few exceptions since I began to write reviews I have decided to avoid denigrating specific books and authors. Anyway, the book is about standing alone and having courage in a world that often will not accept you. A noble sentiment indeed, one that I have long held and tried to live by, which is why I picked it up and decided to study it: as some positive reinforcement of my own convictions. I spent an afternoon perusing the book and carefully reading certain sections. In the end, I set it aside. I couldn’t get past the author’s background and attitudes. Touted on the cover as a “New York Times bestselling author,” she is an exceedingly wealthy woman, the owner and CEO of numerous companies based on her self-help teachings, and approaches the subjects of vulnerability, empathy, courage, and so on from a position of high privilege. I culled some good ideas, or reinforcement of some of my existing ideas, from some of the thoughts I read, but overall I felt that from her exalted, protected status she could not offer much to ordinary people.

Then I turned to one of the best-selling books of all time: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. In my poverty-stricken situation I figured that if a thought process alone could make me wealthy, I was willing to go for it, so I spent another afternoon going over Hill’s book. My conclusion was that it wasn’t for me. First of all, Hill (who first published his book in 1937) bases his research solely on interviews with super-rich white men who ruthlessly exploited countless others to accumulate wealth for themselves. He represents them as examples to follow, but in numerous cases their riches were based upon the poorly-paid toil of their many employees. Besides his morally questionable examples, though, the main objection I had to Hill’s methods was the religious flavor of his advice. To follow through on his suggestions, you basically have to worship money. You have to desire riches above all else and implant auto-suggestions by continually repeating out loud (as if through prayer) your goals for the accumulation of riches. It is little different from the pleadings of acolytes to the Roman god Mercury, the Greek god Plutus, the Hindu god Lakshmi, and the gods of wealth and prosperity in numerous other cultures. Not for me, thanks. I have higher priorities. I am not going to give money godlike status.

The third self-help book I perused during this study was Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything by B.J. Fogg. This is the book I found most interesting and useful. It does not pretend to spirituality or claim to be a path to enlightenment. Instead, it offers practical tips on how to easily change personal habits by making adjustments in behavior. Living alone, as I said, and having the need to work long hours, I have developed many habits that help get me through my work, exercise regularly, eat healthily, and so on. I find that Fogg’s methods of breaking down habits in terms of motivations, abilities, and prompts to be useful and hopefully effective. This is the one book of the three that I decided to read all the way through instead of just skim.

In conclusion, I advise you to use what works. If you find books that help you out in certain deficient areas of your life, go ahead and implement their advice. However, be wary of books that supposedly offer secret formulas to success or of authors whose examples belie the supposed wisdom they impart.

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Another Look: Dark Mirrors: Dystopian Tales

When it malfunctions, a teacher discovers a microchip implanted within her forehead which was designed to eradicate her free will.  She determines to rescue the orphaned children in her care from a similar fate.

In the aftermath of a conflict in which all adults were killed or driven away by their progeny, children and teens roam the streets of a ruined city.  When they near the age of 21 they must play the ultimate game, snuff sport, to prevent themselves from becoming hated adults.  A lone grown-up who re-enters the city on a mission of reconciliation is captured and put on trial for his life.

The people of Earth are losing a war with aliens that they themselves provoked.  Every able-bodied person is being called up to serve in combat, even prisoners.  A battle-hardened general enters a prison to recruit a woman who refuses to fight, but who may have a most unusual special ability that can turn the tide of the war.

These and other tales offer terrifying glimpses of Earth’s future gone wrong.

From the author’s afterword:  “When I postulate dark futures it is not to get you to despair.  When I hold up dark mirrors before your eyes it is not so that you will see the worst in yourself and do yourself in.  Far from it.  Some of our greatest illuminations come from deep dark prose.  Dark literature is not meant to overwhelm us.  It is meant to purge us, to provide catharsis.  It is a cleansing and purifying process.  We must be aware of the evil within before we can clean it out.”

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Book Review:  I Love You but I’ve Chosen Darkness by Claire Vaye Watkins

I got it into my head that I have been reading a lot of nonfiction lately and I needed to get into a novel. I conducted an online search to see what my local library had on hand, and if something piqued my interested I researched it further. Since I have begun to rely almost solely on the library for my reading material (for pecuniary reasons) I try to take out at least two books at a time so that if I do not connect with one I can turn to the other. After this particular run, I got about seventy-five pages into the first novel I started and tossed it aside. Not bad, but too predictable, too repetitive. And then I picked up I Love You but I’ve Chosen Darkness.

Immediately I was hooked by Watkins’s prose. She has the most refreshing, original, flamboyant, dynamic voice I have experienced from a fiction writer in a long time. Every time I picked it up I experienced great joy. I would laugh out loud; I would weep; I would pause frequently to let the awe settle over me. I would also frequently look at Watkins’s picture on the back flap of the jacket cover. She’s dressed casually and her hair is unkempt; this is all in keeping with the tone of the book. But the most captivating thing is her expression. She is smiling, but in her eyes you can see the complexity and pain that the novel brings out.

This story is the real deal. It is an autobiographical novel. Watkins basically tells her own story with embellishments. She even uses her name as the protagonist and the real names of her parents as she tells their back stories. She does, though, draw the line at revealing the real names of the husband and child she leaves behind when she decides to burst free of her cloying monogamous lifestyle.

She starts out with a description of her acute postpartum depression, and then tells the tale of how her father joined Charles Manson’s murderous cult, how he got free of it, how he met her mother, how he dies young and her mother descends into a nightmare of Oxycontin addiction and overdoses. Watkins then returns to the present, in which she flies out west for a reading, realizes she can’t live the life she used to live, rebels, and doesn’t return. Instead, she hooks up with boyfriends, takes lots of drugs and has lots of sex, wanders into the desert where she was raised, and begins to live her own idiosyncratic life. After a year off on her own, she reconciles with her husband and daughter and they come to live near her but not with her.

At first glance the story seems to be of a selfish, irresponsible woman who abandons her family for a life of hedonism and profligacy. However, it is clear that underlying her stoned, horny, pleasure-seeking exterior there is ongoing pain from an unhealed wound. Ultimately she seeks out the solitude of the desert (albeit with a liberal supply of cannabis) to sort things out.

I wondered as I read what was really going on. The title speaks of choosing darkness but after reading the book it is apparent that she doesn’t mean darkness in the sense of evil. She makes a lot of choices that the majority of people might not agree with, but sincere seekers after truth do not look for majority opinion when they are finding their unique paths in life. In the novel the narrator professes atheism, but what came to me as I read this were explanations concerning meditation by Christian writers and eastern mystics. For instance, St. John of the Cross writes of the necessity of going through the “dark night of the soul” when seeking enlightenment or God. And Thomas Merton, a Catholic monk who extensively studied eastern meditation, wrote that when you encounter God as a result of a sincere search, God manifests in contemplation not as light but as darkness. Whether she believes in God or not, I think that the type of darkness Watkins refers to is the kind you come to when you are all alone in the void of eternity. Some people feel they have to come to that point before they can move on, and some people come to that point and stay right there.

Although I am extremely enthusiastic about this book, I have to add that I feel it sags a bit in the middle. Part of the reason is that Watkins has included several chapters composed of letters her mother wrote to her cousin when she was a preteen and teen. They contain typical news a teenager might share about boyfriends and getting high and so on, but in my opinion they add little to the overall story. Otherwise, like I said, I love Watkins’s authorial voice, and I feel that discovering this book has been a great literary experience.

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Book Review:  A Savage Dreamland: Journeys in Burma by David Eimer

It is oddly appropriate that I am writing this during a rare power cut of several hours (and counting) in my apartment complex – appropriate because normally we here in Seattle can count on having electricity and other utilities twenty-four-seven, and if we don’t, we panic. Most of Burma, on the other hand, as described by Eimer in this fascinating memoir/travelogue, is used to going without electricity and other amenities. It exists as a sort of pocket in time, several decades behind the rest of the world. Some of the author’s descriptions even of Yangon (Rangoon), the largest and most westernized city, remind me of India when I visited it back in the 1970s. India at that time forbade western companies from establishing franchises. As a result, there was no Coca Cola or MacDonald’s or any of the other ubiquitous international brands we have come to expect everywhere in the modern era. Eimer explains that Burma is like this now. No foreign businesses such as Starbucks are allowed.

But not being able to grab a fast-food burger or a frappe at every corner is the least of Burma’s problems. The nation has been crippled by a sordid history of oppression: international wars, wars for independence, civil wars, and misguided selfish governance almost nonstop for as long as it has been a nation. First the British came in with the purpose of extracting its jade, opium, and other treasures. Then the Japanese invaded during World War II. Then the British returned. Then soon after independence a military junta took over, enriched themselves, and further impoverished everyone else. Finally (in 2015) there were free elections, but so far (this book was published in 2019) little has changed. The poverty described is all the more shocking to me as I contrast it with the mega-yachts and estates the size of small countries that the world’s richest people waste their money on, oblivious or uncaring about the destitution of so many people in the rest of the world.

Eimer makes a knowledgeable and erudite tour guide to modern Burma. He begins in Yangon, contrasting Golden Valley, the haunt of the country’s millionaires and diplomats, with one of the city’s largest slums. But it is when he travels outside Yangon that his account becomes truly fascinating. The majority Buddhist population mainly lives along the banks of the Ayeyarwady (Irrawady) River, while the vast bulk of Burma’s landmass consists of outlands inhabited by a multitude of persecuted minorities. Eimer travels to as many of these locales as he is able (some are strictly forbidden to foreigners) and describes the land and the people who live there.

For instance, he spends Christmas in Chin, an underdeveloped Christian territory in the far west. Below Chin is Rakhine, a territory along the coast, where the Muslim population is being driven out and exterminated. Eimer explores the Myeik Archipelago in the far south and tells tales of pirate exploits and conquests in the islands. He goes to Shan state and writes of the various militias that are fighting each other; this state is in the heart of the Golden Triangle so they also war over dominance of the lucrative smuggling of heroin and methamphetamines to China and Thailand. To visit some of these areas in Shan state and in Kachin state in the far north, Eimer had to enter Burma illegally at remote crossings from China and Thailand. Few writers would have been able to accomplish this, but Eimer has a lot of experience as a journalist in China and Southeast Asia and plenty of courage to go along with his local knowledge.

This is a fascinating book about a part of the world that has been all but forgotten compared to splashier, more flamboyant events happening in other countries. However, as the world becomes increasingly globalized, in our hubris we should not neglect people like the Burmese, who have so many positive qualities (as we all do) but need assistance in catching up.

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Another Look: Painsharing and Other Stories

After nuclear war, a survivor of the monster-populated ruins of Oakland California joins the crew of a clipper ship sailing the waters of the Pacific.  A typhoon shipwrecks him on a tropical island whose inhabitants share a bizarre secret.

Visitors from Earth on a far planet discover that a group of white tigers with enhanced intelligence are terrorizing the locals.  As one of the visitors escorts a young crippled girl back to her village the tigers begin to hunt them.

At the edge of the solar system an interstellar spacecraft is ordered by an unknown power to change course and fly to Pluto; when it refuses to comply the entire crew is mysteriously killed.  An unlikely team goes to investigate and are confronted with a life-or-death conundrum stranger than anything they could have imagined.

On a distant planet the ultimate civil punishment is to be genetically deformed into a monstrous beast and forced to live in the forbidden compound called Purgatory as slaves of the State.  When authorities arrest and condemn the woman he loves, a man determines to find and save her, even if he must descend into Purgatory itself. 

In these and other gripping science fiction tales John Walters explores possible futures on Earth and other worlds.

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