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Short 4 minute documentary on Wesley Britton.

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Excerpt from episode one: A Hole In The Sky by DW Brownlaw



The full episode ("A Hole in the Sky") can be found at



Gouta Ricci, six years old, knew how to pout. “S’not fair, Da! Yer never let me do what Yona does.”

She stood with her father Da and older sister Yona on the Master Burgher Adeyemi Avenue, their worn cloaks and britches at odds with the flawless, cobbled street. It was past midnight and they stood with their backs to a flint wall in the dark space between pools of street lighting. Da had been particular about staying out of sight of the Watch Tower so they had kept close to walls on this side all the way up the avenue to where they now stopped.

Gouta tried to concentrate on her Da's reply, but Yona was pulling faces at her from behind his back, trying to distract her and get her in trouble. It was not fair But then, Yona was never fair to Gouta.

“Keep yer voice down Gouta, or yer’ll wake all the Nobs in the avenue”, her father breathed. “I told yer: Yona gets to climb tonight ’cos yer sister is a big girl”.

And that was the nub of it. Gouta did not understand why Yona was allowed to enjoy a more exciting life just because of a few years’ age difference. Why did Yona get all the good things in life? And why, with these advantages, was Yona still so mean to her?

She tried again. “But, Da…”

“Nah. Listen. Yona ’ad to wait ’til today, when she is ten, to do a job. Yer’s lucky, coming wiv us when yer’s only six.”

Her Da's face adopted a look that Gouta hated; the one that meant that she was about to lose the argument.

“Anyway, d’yer remember? I promised yer a purse of pennies after dis job, right? An’ what did yer say yer want ta buy wiv it?”

Yona poked out her tongue at Gouta from behind Da's back. Gouta wanted to yell at her but knew she dare not lose her focus on what Da was saying; he did not like that. She brought to mind the market stall, remembering the finished figures lying in rows on the table and, standing behind, the owner painting an infant’s face on an egg-shaped piece of wood.

“A dolly, Da.”

“Dat’s right. But if we ’ave to go ’ome ’cos yer can’t do yer part of the job, dere won’t be a purse an’ yer can’t buy dat dolly. So, as yer’s such a smart kid, tell me: is yer in or out?”

The familiar feeling of unfairness welled up inside her, but she wanted the dolly more. She clenched her teeth but a despairing moan still escaped. “Oh!”

Yona gave a wicked grin at Gouta’s agony then pulled a silly face, crossing her eyes and stretching her cheeks with her fingers.

Gouta was outnumbered. Da was being clever and Yona was being distracting. It was hopeless; she knew she had lost and hung her head.

“Aye, Da.”

“Good girl, Blackie. Said yer was smart. Now get in, do what yer practised an’ yer’ll be da best lookout da Thieves Guild ’as ever seen.”

He gestured at a pair of large night-soil barrels nearby, set against the wall. She remembered from one of Da’s lessons for Yona that a good burglar could climb up night-soil drain pipes to reach unlocked windows, and the pipes would never rattle thanks to being clamped to the barrel tops with tight leather seals. But tonight, her Da was not interested in the building above them. Instead, he would use these barrels and the avenue’s nearby star lamp for a hidden lookout post.

Gouta hesitated as she approached the barrels, fearing their stench, but found it was nowhere near as bad as the reeking cesspit below their alley’s communal privy back home in Dockside. For her whole life, no one had ever paid to have it emptied. She wished their privy smelled as little as these barrels and thought it must be nice to afford someone to collect them and take the poop away while it was still fresh and not so smelly. Da had also taught that Nobs used night-soil barrels because they were “the last word in hygiene” and, knowing Nobs, perhaps because they were so expensive.

Gouta squeezed between the barrels and Da crouched down to help her disappear into the shadows behind. Once settled, she checked that she could peep out both ways along the avenue from her place behind them.

“Oh dat’s good, Blackie. I can ’ardly see yer in dere, an’ I know where ta look. Night time, dark shadows, an’ a black-as-black lookout; it don’t get no better.”

Gouta smiled up at him. Maybe Yona did get all the good things in life, but it was nice to get some praise for doing well.

Da sucked his teeth in appreciation. “I dunno why yer was born black ‘cos it weren’t from me or yer Ma. But it’ll ’elp yer a lot on night jobs. When yer grow up yer’ll be better’n me an’ Yona ’cos of it.”

Yona’s raised fist showed Gouta what she thought about that.

“Right, Blackie. Got yer whistle?”

Gouta pulled a polished wooden whistle out of her pocket and wrapped her hand around the small gemstone halfway along the shaft.

“Dat’s my smart Blackie. We don’t want dat ta sparkle an’ draw attention, do we?”

He straightened, ready to leave, and inserted a matching wooden item, gem first, into his ear. With its gem hidden in his ear canal and its wooden body almost the same shade of dark brown as his ear, it was no longer possible to see it by starlight.

“Blow good an’ ’ard, Blackie. An’ remember yer signals.”

He pointed up the avenue and away from the city centre.

“Just as a game, pretend yer see a Watch patrol coming right now from way up dere. Quick! Blow me da signal for it.”

A test! She liked to show Da how smart she was. Still behind him, Yona was making another attempt to distract her by poking a hand out between Da’s legs, bunching her fist and letting the limp middle finger hang down.

Drawing his attention to what Yona was doing would only be a waste of effort; easily denied by Yona. Instead, Gouta grinned. The contest was on and she was going to beat her sister in this silly game.

She glanced to her left and imagined a patrol squad marching round the distant corner, on their way back to their city-centre station. With the correct patterns of short twits, long woos and pauses, she blew a barrage of silent twit-woo signals for:






The enthusiastic force of it made Da raise a hand to his ear.

“Aye! Dat’s loud enough,” he said with a smile which was in part from pleasure, part from pain. “I reckon yer ready for dis. Just don’t blow like dat while I’m climbing, aye? Or yer’ll make me fall off in surprise.”


I hope you find this extract / episode of interest.


Douglas Brown 

Pen name: DW Brownlaw 

Author of the science fantasy series: The Metaverse on https://www.dwbrownlaw.net

Email: dwbrownlaw@gmail.com

Follow me on Facebook: @DWBrownlaw, or https://facebook.com/DWBrownlaw 

THE HUNTED -sci-fan YA


Dragon Knight Chronicles Book 3: The Hunted

Andrew Wichland

Publication Date: July 14, 2019

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC




Reviewed by Dr. Wesley Britton


There's a certain breed of science-fiction/ fantasy that's mostly non-stop action-adventure set out in a galaxy far, far away with the intent of entertaining readers with none of the warnings or alarms in so many dystopian futures.


In his Dragon Knight Chronicles, Andrew Wichland shows he's got as good a handle on this sub-genre as anyone. Throughout The Hunted, book 3 of this series, Wichland juggles many of the familiar formulas and tropes of such yarns like inexplicable instant armor that can grow on a Dragon Knight's body in but a moment. Dragon Knights can suddenly be armed with arsenals of weapons that can take out fleets of pursuers in seemingly overwhelmingly powerful  starships. In this case, there's an occasional nod to fantasy with Knights wearing bracelets that can tap into mystical powers when the occasion calls for them. Along the way, dwarves and minotars help populate the conversations.

When stories zip along like The Hunted, there's not much character development and it seems obvious reading the previous two volumes might fill in many of the unanswered or under-explained elements of The Hunted. For example, plot-twisting characters pop in and then quickly disappear. Some have apparently played key roles in the saga in previous stories. Some of them were very intrigueing, enigmatic, and quickly gone.   Never to be seen again? The ending of the tale is one of those open-ended episodes setting the stage for volume 4. Perhaps some of those characters will make return engagements?


It seemed clear Wichland wanted readers to associate his main protagonist, Robin, with earth's Robin Hood, but that connection seemed very thin to me beyond some character names--Little John, Tuck, the like. This Robin Hood is on a quest to protect members of his people, track down a missing brother after finding a long-lost sister, and I'm not clear what else. We don't see much of the forces of the Black Dragon whose evil empire dominates the galaxy.


The Hunted is light, very fast reading that will send you out into outer space for a summer evening or two.  It's not meant to seriously engage your mental engines but rather to get your blood racing and your eyes popping. And what's wrong with that?



This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com On Aug. 9, 2019:



Rising Strong! - self-help book




Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Brené Brown

Paperback: 352 pages

Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (April 4, 2017)

ISBN-10: 081298580X

ISBN-13: 978-0812985801




Reviewed by Dr. Wesley Britton


I was assigned this title as a monthly reading for a book club I belong to for widows and widowers going through the grief process. Is this a book helpful for readers like us? At first glance, no, not really. Brown's focus is how to get off the ground after you've fallen face down and need to admit your own vulnerability and shame to work through your recovery. Well, those going through the grief process already know about vulnerability and shame rarely applies to that situation.


I admit I felt like I should have liked the book much better after reading some glowing reviews at Amazon and Goodreads.  So clearly there is a very responsive audience for Brown's very academic and formulaic approach for working through the hard situations in life. I started to tune out a bit when Chapter Two kicked in and Brown talked about a pivotal moment in her marriage. During an unhappy swim, her husband didn't respond the way she wanted in a brief conversation. Not exactly a turning point for most people. It seemed like the sort of missed communication you can have countless times in a day.  That was the first of such small moments that inspired chapter after chapter where Brown, her colleagues, family and friends worked through usually rather small-scale crises. Well, not small-scale to them, of course.


Whatever setback or crisis you face, Brown has a three-part formula for you: The reckoning where you tell your story so you can understand it; the rumble where you face your challenge and take ownership of it; the revolution where you have a transformative experience and move on. Put another way, fall. Get Up. Try again.


Other teachings in the book include: Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them.


Hmm, now that I've written all this down, I think I need to rethink my introduction.  I still don't think the book is especially helpful for that suffering grief. The section on broken hearts is rather short and did disappoint me. That's what I most needed to explore. But the lessons do seem quite helpful in human and business relationships if you're willing to look at things in ways you hadn't before. For example, if you're willing to accept that most people are doing the best that they can.


So, while Rising Strong might not be the first self-help book you might want to pick up this year, or even the first Brené Brown title to read judging from descriptions of her earlier titles, it's still a tome full of nuggets and insights well worth the price of admission. It could very well be a transformative book in your life.

 This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on Aug. 5:


Madame Fourcade's Secret War:



Madame Fourcade's Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France's Largest Spy Network Against Hitler

Lynne Olson

Hardcover:464 pages

Publisher: Random House (March 5, 2019)





Reviewed by Dr. Wesley Britton



I picked up my copy of Madame Fourcade's Secret War at the same time I read Sarah Rose's D-Day Girls: The Spies Who Armed the Resistance, Sabotaged the Nazis, and Helped Win World War II. After all, both books were published only a month apart, perfectly timed to reach readers interested in this summer's 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. I admit a unique motive. I wanted to troll for details I could use in a spy  story I'm working on set on a different planet dominated by women engaged in a brutal war.  

I easily got my money's worth from both titles. For readers with more normal inclinations, I can recommend Madame Fourcade's Secret War just as enthusiastically as I did D-Day Girls earlier this month.

While there's obvious overlap in context and setting, these two explorations of women spies travel very different roads. D-Day Girls focuses on female members of the S.O.E., the Special Operations Executive. Madame Fourcade didn't work for the S.O.E. but instead headed an independent network called "Alliance" that reported to England's MI6.  Sabotage wasn't Fourcade's main purpose, gathering intelligence was.

Marie-Madeleine Fourcade was a complex woman battling her way through a man's world. She built up the Alliance network, especially clandestine radio operators and couriers, then rebuilt it again after the Gestapo gutted Alliance operations and rebuilt it again and again after dangerous duels with the Gestapo. Much of her time, Fourcade lived like a fugitive on the run using various aliases and disguises. Some of her most interesting adventures included harrowing escapes from German prisons.

Some readers are likely going to turn a sour eye on Fourcade due to her very non-maternal treatment of her children. At the onset of the war, she had two youngsters who she quickly had flee to Switzerland without her. During the war, she bore another baby she entrusted to caretakers and went years at a time without seeing any of them. According to Olson, Fourcade had little to say on this in her 1972 memoir,  Noah's Ark, but expressed grief for many of the agents she worked with or recruited who didn't survive the war. Her post-war children would later say their mother was never especially maternal. Instead, her Alliance members would be her family until her death in 1989.   

It's important to know the Allies learned about the V2 rocket due to the Alliance network and the Normandy invasion was greatly facilitated due to their intelligence. Alliance was the longest lasting and most successful resistance network in France even if Fourcade wasn't destined to earn all the credit she deserved, thanks largely to murky French politics and good ole sexism.

If you're interested in French-set World War II stories, spy stories, or women's studies, like D-Day Girls, this biography is well worth your time. It centers on the legacy of one woman but it also includes the tales of some of the more important Alliance leaders, the ways of espionage in the era, as well as painting what life was like in occupied France.  


This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on July 25, 2019:



My review of Sarah Rose's D-Day Girls was first published at BookPleasures.com on July 1, 2019:



Latest release for Wesley Britton

Alien Vision is proud to present Wesley latest story, The Alien Who Never Was. It's an exciting military/spy sci-fi with some awesome twists.

Check it out for just 0.99






If you know where your enemy is going to attack from, that is a great advantage to you, is it not?"

"An immense advantage."

But what if that advantage is a clever ruse dreamed up by a half-alien using a trick he learned from the history of his father's home planet? Throw in a diverting sexy spy to spice up the action and you get "The Alien Who Never Was," the latest exciting episode in the Beta-Earth Chronicles.



New feature: Sneak Peek



Here is an extract from the middle of the first episode of Douglas Brown's serialise novella, "The Orison".


The full episode ("A Hole in the Sky") can be found at



As Da had said, Yona had better be quick, because the Eye of Heaven would soon shine its light on those who preferred the shadows. The Eye’s light was so bright, people were able to read by it, with only slight eye-strain; thieves would be easy to spot.

Gouta glanced both ways along the deserted avenue and thought about the Eye. She allowed herself a smug smile for being, as everyone said of her, “especially smart”. Though only six, she had worked out that the Eye was not an actual eyeball. It did not have an iris, nor a pupil, nor even any eyelashes; it was nothing like an eye.

She had once sprinkled a handful of sand onto the corner of her cloak, pretending that the grains were stars and the near-black oilskin was the night sky. She was pleased to see how the grains spread around in the same sorts of patterns as the stars in the night sky. But then Yona nudged her deliberately, making her drop the remaining sand to form a small pile off to one side of her star field. Yona had gone away laughing, but Gouta noticed how the mound of grains was more-or-less round, had a fuzzy edge and completely hid the dark cloth underneath. Exactly like the Eye of Heaven. From that moment she knew that the Eye was just a part of the sky where the stars piled up so much they completely covered that part of the blackness in a dazzling mound of stars, wider than two of her Da's hand-spans at arm’s length.

So, why call it an eye?

Grown-ups were stupid sometimes.


Douglas Brown 

Pen name: DW Brownlaw 

Author of the science fantasy series: The Metaverse on https://www.dwbrownlaw.net

Email: dwbrownlaw@gmail.com

Follow me on Facebook: @DWBrownlaw, or https://facebook.com/DWBrownlaw 

Blind Gambit: A GameLit novel



Blind Gambit: A GameLit novel

Jon Cronshaw

Print Length: 275 pages

Publisher: No World Press (May 5, 2018)

Publication Date: May 5, 2018

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC





Reviewed by Dr. Wesley Britton


On one hand, Jon Cronshaw is a younger author than I am and he's far more familiar with the world of gaming than I will ever be.  So if you too are into video games and "game lit," than you're a prime target reader for Blind Gambit.


From a different perspective, I too carry the retinitis pigmentosa gene that results in blindness just like the main character of Brian in Cronshaw's novel. So does the author himself.  While I was older and no longer living at home when the onset kicked in for me, from the very beginning of the story, I recognized many events in Brian's personal life as well as many of his reactions to what is happening to him as his sight erodes in the physical world. I remember so many events and conversations in my life that mirrors what Brian goes through as he tries to maintain independence, downplay his disability as much as he can, and find the ways to interact with friends and family as his personal identity changes during the process of going blind. As he admits in his afterword, much of the book can be called a fictionalized memoir.


In fact, we have two themes traveling on parallel lines through the book. One is in virtual reality where Brian can see what's going on in the game of Gambit because he has a chip that allows his avatar, Neuro, to watch what his three teammates, FragQueen, Harley, and Socko are doing on the battlefields against zombies while he proves to be the worst sniper in game world. At the same time, a hacker is going through Gambit destroying every team and game he, she, or it can for unknown reasons.  Brian, however, is immune to the hacker's weapons due to that chip. So, on the outside, he's being trained in independent living and how to have a relationship with a girl. A real one.  In VR, he is trained in how to combat the hacker by learning strategy, create unique weapons out of ordinary items, and learn how to uncover the hacker's true identity.


I admit, for a long time I wondered why I should care about the destruction of virtual avatars. Not exactly the sort of carnage living beings should worry about. So are there any consequences of the hacker's killing spree in the real world beyond headaches players suffer after leaving the game? At the same time, when Brian isn't hooked up to VR, his often over protective mother talks him into working with blind support groups so he can learn how to live with his disability. Stubborn and resisting most such efforts, Brian isn't a quick study in any of his quests. In the real world, he ends up being bruised and wounded as he tries out a number of activities other blind folks can do. Along the way,


Without question, the primary readership for Blind Gambit will be YA readers who are into gaming. But I really hope a wider audience will include those who might gain some sensitivity and insight not just regarding the disability of blindness, but some understanding of the emotional turmoils the disabled go through as, in this case, we lose the sense of sight.


As with pretty much every e-book published these days, readers can find out more about Jon Cronshaw's worlds by reading his afterword and signing up for his newsletter.  The adventures don't have to end when you finish Blind Gambit.



This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on July 1, 2019:



It's all about the D-Day Girls

— feeling amazing



D-Day Girls: The Spies Who Armed the Resistance, Sabotaged the Nazis, and Helped Win World War II

Sarah Rose

Hardcover: 400 pages

Publisher: Crown; 1st Edition (April 23, 2019)

ISBN-10: 045149508X

ISBN-13: 978-0451495082




Reviewed by Dr. Wesley Britton


With D-Day Girls,  Sarah Rose has provided us with a valuable service not only in terms of setting the historical record straight for the women of the S.O.E. (Special Operations Executive), but for the history of the treatment of women in general even when they gave their countries the very finest in the way of self-sacrifice, courage, and heroism.


The stories of three women saboteurs , in particular, demonstrate just what skilled and brave women contributed during the occupation of France by the Nazis from 1939 to 1945.  We are told about scrappy Andrée Borrel, a demolitions expert  eluding the Gestapo while blowing up the infrastructure the occupying German army relied on. The "Queen" of the S.O.E. was Lise de Baissac, a fiercely independent Parisian who lost everything due to her wartime service. And there was my favorite heroine of the bunch, Odette Sansom, who saw S.O.E. service as a means to lead a more meaningful life away from an unhappy marriage. While she finds love with a fellow agent named Peter Churchill, she ended up being a two year prisoner, horribly tortured by the Germans.   These women, along with their compatriots both male and female, helped lay the groundwork for D-Day by innumerable acts of sabotage, orchestrated prison breaks,  and the gathering of intelligence for the allied war effort.


But D-Day Girls  has a much deeper and wider canvas that three biographies. The stories of the three spies are painted against a detailed backdrop that includes the policy-making of the Allies leadership, how the chiefs of the S.O.E. came to involve women in their behind-the-lines operations, and how the changes in the war effort shaped what the various operatives were and were unable to accomplish. We learn about their training, the reactions of male superiors to the use of women at all, the bungles as well as the successes, the very human dramas the women became involved in,  the competition between the various intelligence agencies, how the spy networks were unraveled by the successful Nazi infiltration, and the very vivid settings from which the women operated. We learn about the costly mistakes some operatives performed, the lack of following the procedures they were taught, and the process of getting the materials and new agents parachuted in from RAF planes.


Rose is able to avoid a dry retelling of all these events with almost a novelist's descriptive eye. For example, she doesn't merely tell us about an explosion resulting from a well-place bomb--she gives us a sensory breakdown of what happened moment by moment, second by second in color, smell, and sound. She doesn't merely tell us about the black parachute drops,  but how they took place out in the quiet French countryside.


It's difficult to lay this book down as we revisit often forgotten corners of World War II history with often fresh perspectives. Many revelations are only possible now that many formerly classified documents have been brought to light and many misogynist points-of-view have been replaced by what actually happened.


In many ways, the tales of what happened to these women after the war ended are the saddest passages in the book. Because they were not part of any official military service, they were denied the full recognition and appreciation they deserved.  Even though they had been indispensable during the war, after VE day they were relegated to the second-class status of women everywhere. There's more than one lesson in all that.



So readers who love spy stories, those interested in World War II,  devotees of women's studies, and those focused on D-Day celebrations this year shouldn't be the only audience D-Day Girls should enjoy. It's a wonderfully vivid and descriptive multi-layered account that should engage any reader who likes well-written non-fiction.



Note: I'm aware that this year, a related book, Madame Foucade's Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France's Larges Spy Network Against Hitler by Lynne Olson was also published. It's on my summer reading list as well. Spy buffs, stay tuned--



This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on July 1, 2019:



Please vote!



The Quest is an extraordinary fantasy PNR with no typical fantasy stereotyping.

I reviewed Mrs Kantas's book and really enjoyed it.

So please take a moment to vote for The Quest which has been nominated for best fantasy in The Readers Choice Awards.

Click through to page number 8 FANTASY and then scroll down to the bottom of the voting to vote for The Quest.


Thank you, everyone,





Dinner With Edward: The Story of an Unexpected Friendship

Isabel Vincent

                Paperback: 240 pages

Publisher: Algonquin Books; Reprint edition (June 13, 2017)

ISBN-10: 1616206942

ISBN-13: 978-1616206949



Reviewed by Dr. Wesley Britton


Dinner With Edward isn't the sort of novel I would normally pick up for summer reading. I don't read "food books." But as it was this month's assignment for a book club I belong to,  I started reading with few preconceived ideas about it. It didn't take long for me to be glad I did.


From first to last, Dinner With Edward just hums with life and gains affirming energy as it goes along. The premise is simple enough: Edward is a nonagenarian widower grieving over the death of his wife, strongly wanting to follow her to the grave. He's a talented man with his hands, especially with cooking exceptional dinners in his New York apartment.


Isabel is a "middle-aged" reporter who Edward invites to come to weekly dinners at the request of one of Edward's daughters who hopes isabel can keep an eye on her father. Isabel's marriage is disintegrating and these private dinners become highlights of her life, along with the wisdom Edward offers as their friendship deepens. Their backstories are revealed in fragments and chunks as Vincent recounts just how this friendship blossomed in chapters headed by the short menus of one dinner after another.  It's quickly obvious the nourishment the two share goes far beyond well-prepared dinners and conversations that are wide-ranging in scope and topics.


Among the lessons Isabel learns is to slow down and appreciate her life, dissecting who she is and facing things she'd rather put aside or ignore. Edward is described as a Henry Higgins figure helping his Eliza Doolittle protegee enhance her feminine aspects which she tends to downplay. Of course, she learns a lot about preparing food and allowing herself to find love again.


One of the many aphorisms sprinkled throughout the memoir is a quote by M. F. K. Fisher, that simple dinners with a friend can "sustain us against the hungers of the world." In other words, Edward's lessons for Isabel should reach out far beyond their relationship and enrich the lives of the book's readers. I often paused to jot down a note or two when a clear, clean insight tripped my trigger. I will have many good things to say about Dinner With Edward when the book club meets and eagerly await the responses of the other members.



This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on June 25, 2019:





Woodstock 50th Anniversary:

— feeling amazing


Woodstock 50th Anniversary: Back to Yasgur's Farm

                Mike Greenblatt

                Hardcover: 224 pages

Publisher: Krause Publications (July 16, 2019)

ISBN-10: 1440248907

ISBN-13: 978-1440248900




Reviewed by Dr. Wesley Britton


After all these years and all the books, documentaries, interviews etc.etc., do we really need another book on Woodstock? At first glance, the answer might seem to be a resounding "no" because the mud and music has been well-trodden for five decades now.  On the other hand, the 50th anniversary may well be the Woodstock generation's last hurrah, at least in terms of creating events and issuing publications commemorating the major milestone in pop culture while many of the original participants are still alive and able to stroll down their various memory lanes. Just look over the line-up of performers scheduled for the official Golden Anniversary weekend--most of the musicians weren't even born back in '69. Yikes!


For me, the value in books like Greenblatt's is learning things I didn't know before or being refreshed on things I may have heard before but forgotten. For example, I've heard of performers like Sweetwater, the Incredible String Band, the Keef Hartly band, and Quill who played at Woodstock. I've never heard a note by any of them except for a few tunes by Sweetwater.  As many have pointed out over the years,  not appearing in the 1970 Michael Wadleigh documentary ended up being a lost career boost.   Other acts like Janis Joplin, The Band, Creedence Clearwater,  or the Grateful Dead didn't need the boost but wouldn't be folded into public awareness about their Woodstock appearances until they were included in later Wadleigh collector's editions when he released previously unseen footage. Then there were the acts who were there but didn't get filmed and then there were those who turned down the gig and didn't come to the party.  At the time, they had good reasons to pass on the opportunity--no one knew what the Woodstock festival would mean.


The performers were the ones on stage, but the stories of the organizers and audience members were and are equally as much a part of Woodstock lore. In particular, just how close Woodstock came to becoming a disaster many times over, it seems to me, is well worth remembering.  We really were the peace and love generation no matter how fleeting that moment flickered in time.  That, it seems to me, is the reason to keep commemorating what was essentially a three day rock and roll concert that became a mythologized hippie highpoint thanks in large part to the film that reached an audience able to enjoy the concert in more comfortable theatre settings. Now, we get a different appreciation when folks like Greenblatt, who was there,  share their experiences with those of us who think we wish we had been in the crowd.


In terms of Greenblatt's book, I hadn't seen the set lists of all the acts before and found them a real 50th anniversary treat. I had heard many of the musicians' anecdotes before, but not all of them collected here. Not by a long shot. I hadn't heard of the shunning Max Yasgur suffered by his unhappy neighbors after the concert was over.


In fact, I think it's fair to say Mike Greenblatt may have assembled the best one-stop Woodstock book for readers who might want one, just one, hardcover exploration of the concert and how it became the phenomena it did. It's a good companion piece to all the DVDs and CDs being issued to keep the music alive.  Oh, of course, it's chock-full of colorful photos.  Yep, a very good memento of an August weekend only a small slice of my generation got to experience first-hand. Like Michael Greenblatt.



This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on June 25, 2019:



Make sure to tune in.

— feeling happy



On Sunday June 23rd, Wesley Britton will be a guest on the Sci-Fi Roundtable Podcast. The live version will go out at 4:00 EST.

Here is a link for apple and another for non-apple to the show.








Forever and a Day: A James Bond Novel

Anthony Horowitz

Publisher: Jonathan Cape/Waterstone's, London, England; First Edition (2018)

ISBN-10: 1911214772

ISBN-13: 978-1911214779



Reviewed by: Dr. Wesley Britton


Beginning with John Pearson's 1973  James Bond: The Authorized Biography of 007, Ian Fleming Publications has licensed  a number of pre-Casino Royale Bond stories as part of their ongoing series of James Bond continuation novels. In addition, a number of unsanctioned books, often fictionalized versions of Ian Fleming's World War II experiences, have been published as  alleged foreshadowings of the literary material Fleming would use in his James Bond yarns.

The longest-lasting sanctioned pre-MI5 Bond stories began with Charlie Higson's 2005 "Young James Bond" books which author Steve Cole took over in 2014.


In terms of the adult Bond, after long runs of Bond continuation novels by John Gardner and Raymond Benson, in which the character of Bond was "frozen in time" and emulated the cinematic aspects of the films, Ian Fleming Publications opted for a course change in 2014 beginning with Sebastian Faulks's Devil May care in a new series featuring books by various authors sticking as closely as possible to the spirit and flavor of the Fleming books, using settings and events occurring in the 1960s.


Then came Anthony Horowitz's well-received 2015 Trigger Mortis which took Bond back to the '50s, and included unused material by Ian Fleming himself. Horwitz, Bond, and a bit more unused Fleming material  returned in 2018 with Forever and a Day,  the latest offering set before the events in Casino Royale.


007 literary aficionados have been divided in their responses to Forever and a Day, with many a reader praising the book for its keeping close to the style and flavor of Fleming, its comparatively subtle introduction of many Bond tropes of the original novels, its revealing how James Bond got the 007 number,  and the characters introduced by Horwitz, notably the love interest between Bond and "Madame Sixteen."


Add me to the list of critics who really, really liked Forever and a Day. I don't see much to complain about, especially as so many continuation novels were entertaining, readable, and completely forgettable. For me, Madame Sixteen is now one of my all-time favorite Bond girls, although calling her a "girl" isn't close to accurate. She's well-developed--in the literary sense--mature, resourceful, as good as an action companion as 007 could ever ask for.


True, that scene where supposed acid turns out to be merely water and some of the incursion scenes are a tad contrived,  and nothing could be more contrived than Irwin Wolfe's rationalization for his motivations. But when was Ian Fleming ever flawless? 


  I'd wager most Bond literary fans have already read, evaluated, and passed judgement on Forever and a Day. It's the rest of you this review is for. If you're not a habitual reader of either Fleming or the continuation novels,  is Forever and a Day a good read for you? Is it a good starting point, now being the first authorized 007 adventure in the chronological sequence of the canonical Bond?


Naturally, every reader should start with Fleming himself,  and I recommend Dr. No, From Russia With Love, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, or Casino Royale. (Not coincidently,  these became the best films.) In terms of continuation novels,  yes, Forever and a Day is now an ideal starting point. It's the most memorable yarn in many a moon. More Horowitz, please.



This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on June 15, 2019 at:





Seeking Beta readers for two short stories.



Seeking Beta readers for two short stories fro The Beta-Earth Chronicles


One is "A Day in the Death of the Magic Mabel" with a Word Count of 10196. Set 40 years in the future on our planet, it's set on a doomed cruise ship with a horrible fear-inducing chemical compound hidden somewhere on board. Can Mary Carpenter find it in time?


The other is "The Alien That Never Was" with a Word Count of 10772. It's set on Beta-Earth during the Alman Civil War with a distinctly WWII flavor. Can sexy special operatives of the Kirippean resistance fool the forces of the power-hungry Lunta?


If interested in an Advanced reader copy PDF, or Word file, of either of these yarns, reply to me here or email me at spywise@verizon.net.


Thanks in advance--


Destiny has a plan for these two lovers.




Excerpt from the award-winning series, Destiny by Victoria Saccenti 
Book one Destiny's Plan

Matthew glanced out the window and smiled. Night had fallen upon them. He’d lost track of time and forgotten his troubled thoughts thanks to the young woman sitting next to him. Her mirth and exuberance were infectious. She used her hands to speak, creating curious shapes in the air, which he visualized with total enchantment. While the minutes and hours passed imperceptibly, they had covered all sorts of topics, from the weather on the road to his assignment at Fort Benning’s Airborne School. Even the odd color of the lady’s wig two rows ahead didn’t escape their happy commentary. Raquelita was a delicious combination of naïveté and awareness and was delightfully engaged in every word he said. This genuine attention was much needed sustenance for his soul.

“Let’s forget about everyone on the bus,” he said. “Tell me more about you. Where were you born?”
“San Antonio. My parents are from Spain, born on the outskirts of Jerez de la Frontera.”
“The land of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza,” he said. “A legendary country full of history and romance. I’ve seen pictures and read a ton of books. I hope to visit one day.”
“Gracious, you’ve heard of El Ingenioso?”
“You bet. Don Quixote was a reading elective in school. Darned difficult, but I managed.” Matthew paused for a moment. “Jerez isn’t close to La Mancha, is it?”
“Not at all. Jerez is near the coast in the province of Andalucía, south and west of La Mancha,” she explained, adopting a cute tutorial attitude. “The region is known for its music, historical monuments, its prized sherry wine, and majestic horses.”
“Mysterious Andalucía. The Moors fought so hard to hold it.” His eyebrows gathered as he spoke. “Lorca was from Granada. His poetry was musical and raw in one breath, like The Sleepwalking Ballad, or La Guitarra. It’s a pity he died so young.”
“Yes, a tragic casualty of the Spanish Civil War.” Speaking to Matthew was like sifting through a treasure chest full of surprises, one more enticing than the last. She had the oddest desire to touch him, ensure he was real. “So you know La Guitarra?”
“Oh no. I’m not going to embarrass myself by reciting Spanish.” A faint flush rose on his face. “It’s bad enough I mix up my locations.”
“My father and I used to recite it together.” In her softest voice, she spoke:

Empieza el llanto de la guitarra.
Se rompen las copas de la madrugada.
Empieza el llanto de la guitarra.
Es inútil callarla
Es imposible callarla.

Words flowed out of her lips, her fingertips flitted like butterflies, and notes filled Matthew’s ears, full, vibrant, and warm. “You have it, el duende comes to you,” he said.
“Me? No.”
“Yes. You. I know Lorca’s poems, but I’ve never heard them in Spanish. The genie glimmers on your face and moves through your hands. The music comes to you. He comes to you.”
“How do you know so much? Very few people outside Spain know about the genie, much less feel or hear it.”
“The teacher who helped me survive Don Quixote knew my appreciation of Lorca’s works and lent me several books. One had a lecture Lorca gave in Buenos Aires. It was outstanding. The images Lorca presented inspired the reader’s imagination. He spoke of dark sounds. According to him, el duende is the hidden spirit of a doleful Spain. Please, please say more.” 

http://bit.ly/VSaccDP - Amazon Destiny's Plan Kindle
http://bit.ly/DPPPCOM -Amazon DP Paperback COM