Alejandro’s Lie

“A Hundred Horrible Lies”

Review by Joey Madia

For the past three years, as part of my work as a Chautauquan and historical education specialist, I have portrayed Ernesto “Che” Guevara, one of the key personalities in the Cuban revolution led by Fidel Castro in the late 1950s. Much has been made of Che—to some a hero/Messiah-like savior and to others a heartless mass murderer. He is admittedly complex.

As are all who choose the life of the revolutionary.

This is the core subject matter of Alejandro’s Lie. Taking place in a fictitious country called Terreno (meaning “ground”) in 1983, which has suffered a military takeover (junta) and now dictatorship by General Pelaron (meaning “to skin an animal”), the book explores the motivations of both those on the side of the general and those fighting against him. Although the book is rife with political complexities, it is primarily a character study.

The main characters in this drama are the Alejandro of the title, who is a former guitarist for a popular folk group destroyed for their political activist songs. The lead singer of the group, the Bob Dylan–esque Victor, is a spectre that haunts Alejandro throughout the novel, having been the reason for one of Alejandro’s (many) lies. Continue reading

Dead No More (Rhubarb Papers Book 1)

“Language, Lilac!”

Review by Joey Madia

“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.” —Thomas Jefferson

With this opening epitaph, Pete Adams had me hooked. As the US Federal Reserve (neither Federal nor a Reserve) buys up all it can at a bargain under the banners of Qualitative and Quantitative Easing amid whispers of a trillion-dollar platinum coin Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen could use to avoid a government shutdown, even some old-money families like the Rockefellers in West Virginia are chiming in to say “The Fix Is Fully In.”

Dead No More opens with a car fire that kills two police officers—a mother (Dawn) and daughter (Carol)—and facially scars their granddaughter/daughter, Juliet. Carol’s husband, who is “something in the City,” which is code for a man of importance, is also killed.

It’s clear that the two officers were murdered because they were working on a case involving high-level families and government players who control the financial institutions and key development sectors in London. The police databases involving the conspiracy as well as the conspiracy itself employ a host of food-related code words, like Rhubarb, Vanilla, and Crumble, based on plot-related French and German words decoded as the narrative unfolds. The police database—a case archive—is further coded with words like Mammon (signifying greed). It is a smoking gun worth infecting with viruses, hacking into, and even killing its contributors and administrators to keep secret. Continue reading

One Million Miles ‘till Midnight: Between the Mirror and the Lens

“A Journey thru Cosmic Frequencies”

Review by Joey Madia

A few months ago, I reviewed Solaris Blueraven’s Alien Intelligence. Although One Million Miles ‘till Midnight uses much of the same subject matter (the abuse of technology to create a Matrix-like false reality on Earth and unlocking our true nature as cosmic beings), Alien Intelligence was Blueraven’s nonfiction account of what she experienced at the hands of operators of “synthetic telepathy” and artificial intelligence. In her words, it is “a reflection and parallel of an event I was inducted into in 2004 involving exotic technology and artificial intelligence” (from the Foreword).

Blueraven’s story is provocative, as well as controversial. Considering, however, the debate about secret-society symbolism in pop culture (especially music); that, through Operation Paperclip, the US State Department brought Nazi scientists to America after World War II; and the existence of nefarious government-sponsored programs like MKUltra is well documented, we would be foolish not to believe possible all that Blueraven has shared through her writing, DVDs, and radio shows.

It worked out well that I read the nonfiction material first and I recommend that to the reader, although One Million Miles ‘till Midnight can stand on its own as a work of science fiction that is a little bit Philip K. Dick (who is mentioned in the Acknowledgments) and a little bit Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. The subtitle is “Between the Mirror and the Lens,” evoking Dick’s A Scanner Darkly. Like Alien Intelligence, the text is nontraditional, feeling as though it has been channeled or, at the very least, is stream of consciousness. The frequency and vibration of the writing well suits the subject matter. Continue reading

Kolkata Noir

“Moments across Time”

Review by Joey Madia

“Buy me a drink, Becker, and I will tell you a story.” (Part Three)

Spanning four decades in three parts, Tom Vater’s Kolkata Noir is a good old-fashioned detective story with the addition of a love affair never enacted and abundant socioeconomic and political commentary.

Part One takes place in 1999 in Calcutta, India. Although thoughts of a hellish place and the Broadway revue Oh! Calcutta! immediately come to mind, the author tells us in the Acknowledgments that “[d]uring the Raj [the period of British rule from 1858 until the independence of India in 1947], Calcutta was the world’s second most economically powerful metropolis.”

The story opens with the hunt for suspects in the brutal back-alley murder of Abir Roychowdhury, a powerful and wealthy man whose wife, Paulami, a socialite and well known in her own right, is unfaithful with two men, one of whom—an Englishman—is the principle suspect.

Leading the investigation is Inspectress Madhurima Mitra, whose great uncle was a celebrated detective 50 years earlier. She’s under pressure on multiple fronts: she’s a woman, she has a lineage nearly impossible to live up to, and both the local authorities and the British want the murder wrapped up as neatly and as quickly as possible.

Mitra seeks out a grizzled, jaded photographer named Becker, who is acquainted with the chief suspect, Richard Dunlop, who has gone missing. No mystery to the reader here—he is one of the men having an affair with Paulami. The other man is Abir’s brother, Kishore. Continue reading

Imagine That: The Magic of the Mysterious Lights

“Secrets in the Sky”

Review by Joey Madia

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.
—Albert Einstein

Human beings have always been Starwatchers. Skygazers. From stone calendars like Stonehenge to elaborate cosmologies and creation mythologies involving the Moon and Sun to the personification of the constellations as humans and animals, humankind has been fascinated with the Sky from the very start of our journey here on Earth. Pictographs in ancient caves are the first Sky Stories. The procession of the constellations marked the cycles of both agriculture and religion, giving birth to countless rituals and traditions.

There is also a fascination with the Sky at work in the lives of Dreamers and Visionaries. A child who is labeled one or the other is also referred to as a Skylarker, and, sad to say, in the traditional education system, it is rarely complimentary.

I was one of those dreaming, visionary Skylarkers all the way through school and now people pay me—quite well—to skylark for and with them as a writer, actor, director, and story analyst. The night sky fascinates me, and the monuments, stories, and glyphs that explore and celebrate it are among the most interesting areas of study for me. I have even had encounters with UAPs and possible alien contact. Continue reading