Evil

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I love this show! Evil is somewhat reminiscent of The X-Files with a believer and a skeptic partnering up to solve supernatural mysteries, however, instead of aliens, the focus is on demons and instead of working for the government, they work for the Catholic church.

David, the believer, is in training to become a Catholic priest, while Kristen, the skeptic, is a professional psychologist who is married with four daughters. However, despite David being celibate and Kristen being married, there’s still a will-they-or-won’t-they sexual tension between the two that works better than the will-they-or-won’t-they between Scully and Mulder.

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To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis

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Ned Henry is a time traveler who has been tasked with finding out whether an item known as the bishop’s bird stump was in Coventry Cathedral when it was bombed during WW2. He comes down with a case of time-lag due to too much time travel and is sent to the Victorian era to rest. However, the Victorian era isn’t as restful as he had hoped because a missing cat might cause time itself to unravel.

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Varying Distances by Darren Speegle

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A solid collection with fleshed-out characters and good world building. Most of the stories left me wanting more including the dream-like opener, “In the Distance, A Familiar Sound” in which a drug-using artist in Germany obsessed with consciousness and time meets a figure of chaos. We get another artist in “The Flesh Winks while the Ghost Weeps” who is forced to do a portrait of a cult leader.

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The Test

I’ve got another story up at Every Day Fiction called “The Test”. It’s a flash fiction story, so I can’t say too much about it without spoiling it, but the beginning was inspired by an actual event. I was on the freeway when I saw a fire truck coming up behind me with lights flashing and horn blaring. Like any decent human, I pulled over to let it pass, but I saw some jerk following behind the fire truck, using it to speed past everybody else. Who does that?

I was also inspired by a podcast I listen to called Oh No Ross and Carrie which did a series of episodes about real estate get-rich-quick schemes. I think I named the character Jack because my mom once complained about audio books having characters named Jack in them because inevitably, the phrase “Jack asked” will come up.

This story was originally published a few days ago, but I’m only mentioning it now because I was away on vacation to Bear Lake or, as the tourist industry is calling it now, “The Caribbean of the Rockies“. It was a really nice trip, highly recommended to anybody in the area. Anyway, if you like “The Test”, please leave a positive rating. It’s currently got 4.1 out of 5 stars, so a lot of readers seem to like it so far.

There is Confusion by Jessie Redmon Fauset

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“The time comes when he thinks, ‘I might just as well fall back; there’s no use pushing on. A colored man just can’t make any headway in this awful country.’ Of course, it’s a fallacy. And if a fellow sticks it out he finally gets past it, but not before it has worked considerable confusion in his life.”

Joel Marshall has ambitions to be a great man. He’s a successful caterer, but he wants more. His daughter, Joanna, shares his desire for greatness and she has a talent for both singing and dancing. She’s at a disadvantage due to her skin color, but she thinks that her success could be a way to break down prejudice. Joanna has the double consciousness spoken of by W. E. B. Du Bois, considering herself an American first, and a colored person second.

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Welcome to the Show

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This is a collection of 17 horror stories that all take place in the same venue, a music club called The Shantyman in San Francisco. The first story, “What Sort of Rube” by Alan M. Clark sets the stage. In the era of horse-drawn carriages, a sailor is shanghaied outside of a music hall, then shipwrecked on an island of cannibals. He curses the music hall, so presumably, all the bad things that happen in the rest of the stories are a result of this old sailor’s curse.

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Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus by Russell E. Gmirkin

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According to the Documentary Hypothesis, the Pentateuch was composed in stages. The first source, written sometime between 850-800 BC, is called J because it refers to God by the name Jehovah/Yahweh. The second source, called E because it uses the name Elohim to refer to God, was combined with J between 850-750 BC. The third source, mostly the book of Deuteronomy, is called D and was written in 621 BC, if you take 2 Kings 22-23 at face value. The final source is the priestly source, or P, and was written in 458 BC if you take Nehemiah 8-10 at face value.

However, one of the problems with the Documentary Hypothesis is that it uses the Bible to date itself, rather than using external evidence like archaeology and other ancient texts. Also, biblical source criticism tends to assume the earliest possible date a text could have been written is when the text actually was written. In this book, Gmirkin applies classical source criticism to the Pentateuch to consider not only the earliest possible date, but also the latest possible date, using not just the Bible itself, but also external references to the Bible.

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Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup

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Solomon Northup was born free in New York. He married and did various jobs to earn money, such as working on a canal, cutting up lumber, rafting, and playing the violin. He eventually earned enough money to buy a farm. His wife became known as a cook. He also worked driving a hack and did work on the railroad. He advised any slaves he spoke to to seek freedom whenever they found the opportunity. He had a ten-year-old and eight-year-old daughter, as well as a five-year-old boy.

One day, two men who claimed to work at a circus offered him a job playing violin. He went with them to Washington D.C. where he witnessed the funeral of President Harrison (the cannon fire which was part of the ceremony broke windows with the noise). He never saw the circus, though. The men offered him a drink which made him sick. He fell unconscious and woke up in chains, his money and free papers gone.

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