September 26, 2010

Overview of An Unlikely Place

Well friends,

I'm sure you're all wondering...what the heck is this book about anyway?  Well, I'll tell you.  It's about a human woman who meets an alien guy and falls madly in love.  Not enough information?  Well, here are the details... but not too much.  I want you to go out and read the book.

First and foremost, this book is a romance set on another world five years in the future.  There are some love scenes, so this story is for adults, not children.  It begins five years in our future, after the human population on Earth is decimated by a series of plagues.  The Oshairans, a race of alien peace keepers, arrive to take the remaining population to a new world.  However, during the course of the journey humanity becomes divided as two separate philosophies develop.  One believes humanity is better served by remaining isolated from alien influences, while the other believes humanity would benefit more from interaction.  The eventual outcome is some people, including our heroine, are exiled to a dying world, which is where our story begins...

Tamryn, who believes her life is over, crosses paths with Tal-Malye, an Ekoshen-Oshairan half breed, who she is instantly drawn to.  Tal, curious as to why she does not seem to be afraid of him, seeks her out.  This causes her to come under the scrutiny of Jim Tullens.  He decides her fascination with aliens presents a threat to humankind.  He attempts to kidnap her and only by calling upon the protection of the Oshairans and Tal, is she safe.  Inevitably this throws her and Tal together.  But Tal is reluctant, and in a desperate move, Tamryn kisses Tal, sealing their fates.  What Tamryn has done endangers her and only through the e'lyon bonding, an Ekoshen and Oshairan marriage rite, will she live.  But humans and Ekoshens are more different from one another than they seem...  And Jim is still lurking in the shadows...

Whet your appetite yet?  Following is an excerpt from the book, and one I hope will tempt you to buy a copy:

He started to leave.  I did not plan what happened next.  Perhaps I simply did not want to accept his leaving, or I wanted the memory to sustain me.  I lunged forward, embracing him, too suddenly and quickly for Tal-Malye to react.  I pressed my lips against his, and felt an instant surge of warm, giddy desire.  My senses were flooded with the hot piquancy of his scent, and his warmth reached out instantly to embrace me.  I caught the strangest glimpse of wild, flowing colors behind my closed lids.  My tongue slid across the sweet tanginess of his mouth as if it had a mind of its own. 
Tal-Malye sat frozen.  His hands were pressed firmly to either side of my waist, where they instinctively landed as I careened into him.  I had immobilized him, if even for this brief moment, and I reveled in the experience.  I deepened the kiss and he seemed to respond.  For one brief, scorching moment our tongues met.  Then he was thrusting me back, staring at me with shocked eyes, their color almost pure amber light.  I pressed a trembling hand to my burning mouth, wide-eyed and stunned.  Tal-Malye’s expression darkened dangerously in anger; I saw the creature he had been as Jim tried to force me to his carriage.  His breathing was harsh, and there was no friendliness in his expression.  I blushed in shame as he glowered at me.  For a long moment, neither of us moved.
“Why?  Why did you do that Tamryn?  You foolish child!” 
My head started to pound, slow, sweeping throbs that grew in strength.  I looked away from his furious gaze, the ache ebbing slightly as I did.  I felt strange within my own skin.  I was dizzy and I briefly saw spots.  In my mind something was growing, planted somewhere in my brain, a seed started with a kiss.  I denied the thought and began to feel sicker.  Tal-Malye growled something I could not understand.  Suddenly he grabbed my face, forcing my eyes to meet his as he probed my features.  He saw each nuance of color, noting the sudden pallor of my skin and the clamminess of my hands.  His expression tightened while I gawked at him, unable to look away, not caring if it was killing me.  For it felt as if it was.  Nausea swept over me as another hammer blow of agony struck. 
Tal-Malye must have seen me wince but he was relentless, pressing closer as he studied my reactions.  His hands upon my face were no longer gentle.  There was no soothing touch, no attempt to take away pain.  I started to gasp as his gaze sharpened and narrowed.  I had a dizzying sensation of falling into a deep, dark chasm while drowning in a mahogany ocean.  Just as abruptly he released me, nearly throwing me backwards against the wall.  I shook in reaction, trembling with humiliation, fear, and dizziness.  Hurt shattered my head, as badly as it had the night before, and my mind began to splinter.  It took all my energy to focus, to concentrate on where I was or what was happening.
“Tamryn!” he hissed, his eyes nearly slits as he glared at me.  His face flushed darkly with his rage.  “I was wrong.  I did not bring danger down upon you.  You flirt with it.  You actively seek it out and embrace it.  What you have done here is irreversible!” 
He snarled these last words as he flung himself from my carriage.  It was as if he could not bear to be in the same space as me, as if he would murder me if he did not leave.  I panted from the pain in my head while my vision blurred; suddenly I stopped trying to stay upright.  I slowly, shakily curled up, squeezing my eyes shut while I willed my consciousness away.  And slowly, slowly, the pain began to lessen and my muscles to relax.  I slept then, exhausted.

Thank you,

GA Lanham

Update: due to unavoidable delays, we are looking at a release date sometime in the early part of next year.  So keep checking back.  It will be here soon...

And the Dragon Said... Tragedy in the Gulf: The Beginning or the End?

It’s time for me to put my two cents in.  While I have never been extreme in my beliefs, it seems obvious to me we are destroying our world.  You might equate our most recent and doubtless most costly disaster to lighting a match in a room full of gas.  Poof!  Not only do you die, but the resulting explosion and fire could potentially leave the entire neighborhood homeless.  But perhaps a better analogy is equating our world with our own homes.  Brand new, a house is like the Earth, pristine, beautiful, and full of potential.  Then someone spills coffee on the carpet, but no one cleans up the spill.  The neighbors allow their trash to blow into the yard.  No one picks it up.  Over time the roof sags and rain seeps in, yellowing the walls and warping the hardwood floors.  The toilets begin to overflow and the sewer backs up into the bathtub.  No one notices.  Eventually, the beautiful new home becomes squalid and unlivable and the entire structure is condemned.  No one seems to care.  But unlike the house, which can be destroyed and rebuilt, the Earth once damaged takes hundreds, thousands, even millions of years to recover.  We don’t have that much time.
Whether you believe in the global warming crisis, or take the view we are having little effect on the climate, it would be foolhardy to deny the choices we have made thus far will have far reaching consequences.  Some change is necessary if we are to ensure a better quality of life for future generations.  We must consider the harm we are doing in other ways.  Perhaps we are not able to affect something as large as the climate, but the poisons we release into the air, the soil, and the water affect the world nevertheless.  Every day we breathe them in, we eat them, and we live in them.  We grow sick because of them, in ever more elaborate ways.  And now billions of gallons of poison are gushing into the gulf waters, destroying habitants, wildlife, and economies. 
Like a stone thrown into a pond, the ripples of this tragedy will go on for decades to come.  They will merge with the after effects of deforestation, over population, pesticides, nuclear disasters, and the poisoned consequences of life in an industrialized society.  But consider the outcome.  Bacteria and other micro-organisms have survived countless global disasters and extinctions, and they will survive us.  Science speculates life began from something as simple as a single-celled organism.  (The egg, it seems, came before the chicken.)  Just as it seems unlikely we will be the primary force affecting climate change, it is equally unlikely we will be able to destroy all life.  In truth, we will only destroy ourselves.
And this is really the crux of the matter, the center of the truth.  Forget, for the moment, about cost in terms of species gone extinct.  That has been happening since life began.  Forget about protecting polar bears, or rare flowers, or endangered fish and reptiles.  Consider, instead, the cost to humanity.  As the population grows, the demand for resources grows as well.  As toxins seep into the environment, they poison us.  As more complex life begins to disappear, we suffer.  We feel the pangs of hunger, the burn of thirst, the pain of sickness.  Cancer eats our bodies, while greed eats our minds.  Our morality fades beneath the onslaught of instant gratification and the satiation of desires.  Society breaks down.  War breaks out.  And more of the earth becomes barren and lifeless.  It is a vicious cycle and the only outcome is our extinction.  Life will go on long after we have turned to dust, and we become a dream God had once but never realized.
It is a grim thought.  And it becomes grimmer as we consider that after every man-made disaster, Exxon Valdez, Chernobyl, and so on, nothing changes.  Not our behavior, nor our choices.   We continue to tamper.  We continue to exploit.  Our memories of past catastrophes fade, as newer generations seek their fortunes at the expense of the planet.  Human nature is, after all, human nature.  Mistakes made long ago are made again.  As Merlin stated in the movie Excalibur, it is the doom of men that they forget.  And forget we will.  Perhaps it is too much we hope for change.  We are too unwilling, and perhaps unable, to give up our current lifestyle.  Oil and oil products fuel our economy, determine our wealth, and enable us to dominate in the global markets.  That is why rich countries seek to keep it, and poor countries seek to obtain it.  Until it runs out, or another solution is found, oil will continue to be the jewel of humanity’s power, and the bane of the earth it comes from.
And so, the tragedy in the gulf is not a beginning, and it is not an end.  It is simply a continuation of a long history of exploitation, carelessness, indifference, and greed that has become the trademark of the human race as a whole.  We cannot deny it.  For every species we manage to save, we destroy hundreds more.  For every human life we improve, we lower the quality of life for their children and grandchildren.  We upset a very delicate balance, and we have not yet begun to feel the aftereffects.  Someday, in the not too distant future, change will be forced upon us.  Perhaps…it already has.
GA Lanham

And the Dragon Said... The Endless, Unavoidable, Ineffective Debate

Have you ever come across a scientific article, read it, and then scrolled down to the comments section?  Did you find an out and out religious debate going on?  Did you wonder why? 
I have.  In college, when posting to a public forum, if your comments were not relevant to the post or the topic, the teacher would mark your grade down.  On the surface, it seems perfectly obvious to me.  Scientific article?  Make your comments relevant to the scientific information contained within the article.  Discuss the pros and cons of the subject matter.  Debate the wisdom of the author’s assumptions.  Don’t go off topic.  Yet that is exactly what everyone does.  I am not the first to notice this, or comment on it.  And it is easy, so easy, to be drawn in.  As you read, wincing when people use bad language or attack each other, you eventually must reply.  You have to.  It’s a siren song, luring you in, until you crash upon the rocks of irrelevance and endless, useless, ineffective religious debate.
Why do I consider the debate of science vs. religion ineffective?  Because it is.  Neither side can prove their point.  Science cannot disprove the existence of a deity, and religion cannot prove the deity’s existence.  You might as well argue with a blind man about whether or not the color blue exists.  You, as a sighted person, cannot prove to the blind man blue is real.  The blind man cannot persuade you blue is fake.  It is the same with the whole religion/science war.  Both sides believe fervently.  The attacks become vicious.  The intelligence of one or another is called into question.  Derision and ridicule become the order of the day.  Rarely, a comment will stay on topic.  Even more rarely, a comment will show thoughtful insight or a well-considered reply.  No one listens, tensions rise, and the argument escalates. 
Ah, that pivotal moment.  The moment when a discussion of religion or politics escalates into war.  In terms of the internet, it is a virtual war.  Hatred abounds.  Passions spiral out of control.  Advocates of both sides scream at one another in capital letters.  Insults are flung with wild and random fury at other readers.  You almost have to duck as barbed words and masked profanity fly from the computer screen.  Unfortunately, what happens in the comments section of a science article happens in the real world as well.  It is the danger of such arguments.  Neither side will concede a point, nor back down.  The fervor becomes a real, bloody conflict.  We have seen it, throughout history. 
If aliens were real, they would pass us by.  They would take one look at our zeal to kill one another over improvable concepts and hurry right along.  Our lack of tolerance, and our persistence in engaging in useless conflicts would reveal us to be uncivilized, unenlightened, and insane.  Or they would just conquer us. 
Feel free to argue with me.  Start a religious debate.  Here, I’ll help you along.  At least then, your comments will be relevant to the topic of this post.
Question: What happens when God tries to move an unmovable rock?
Answer: He discovers man. 
GA Lanham

And the Dragon Said... Would YOU Press the Button?

I just recently finished watching The Box, starring Cameron Diaz.  Some of you may remember the story.  A mysterious gentleman, horribly disfigured, gives a box to a married couple with a son.  He then gives them a simple proposal.  Press the button on the box and receive one million dollars.  The catch?  Someone in the world will die, who they do not know.  They have twenty four hours to decide.  If you watched the movie, you know Cameron Diaz pressed the button.  And she soon found out the choice wasn’t simple at all.  It raises a lot of questions, not the least of which are ones about morality.  Ignoring the supernatural elements of the story, if presented with a similar choice, would YOU press the button?
Most of you would probably say no.  But think about it.  Consider your financial situation at the present moment.  Are you living paycheck to paycheck?  Are you unemployed like so many are?  If a stranger arrived at your doorstep tomorrow, mysterious box in one hand, and a million, tax free dollars in the other, your first impulse might be different.  For many people, one million dollars represents financial freedom.  Being able to feed and clothe your children, pay off all your debt, and even buy a few extra creature comforts, can be very alluring.  And in a way, the mysterious stranger makes the choice easier by keeping the victim a stranger as well.  It seems easier to ignore the consequences of your actions, if you never see them.  You press a button on a box in your kitchen, and five hundred miles away a person dies.  So they happen to die at the exact moment you pressed the button.  It could just be a coincidence.  Realistically, someone, somewhere in the world dies every few minutes.  There is nothing we can do to prevent it.  Often, we don’t even know about it.  It is easy to rationalize the guilt of what we have done.  It would not be so easy to justify or ignore the consequences if the victim were someone you know.
In the movie, it soon becomes clear the stranger will give the box to someone else, and the immediate thought is now Cameron Diaz will die.  She will become the next victim.  It goes on to suggest that each time a couple is faced with this choice it is the woman who takes the fatal step.  One can almost hear echoes of another tale, an ancient tale, where a couple is tempted with knowledge and it is the woman who bites first, thus condemning mankind.  That too was a morality tale.  So there are implications within the story.  The obvious one, trading your moral values for materialistic gains often lead to sticky ends, and the not so obvious, women are more easily tempted and therefore more likely to trade morality for materialistic gain.  (While most people would agree with the first conclusion, arguments will probably ensue over the second.  After all, men make as many poor choices as women when it comes to money.)  But perhaps The Box is really a retelling of that ancient tale, put in a modern context, where mankind will be saved… if they do NOT press the button.  The overall point of the story is clear.  The Box is a morality test.  Mankind’s fate apparently hangs in the balance.
In the movie, the ethical choice seems to be black and white.  Murder for money, however it occurs, is wrong.  Obviously the protagonists make the incorrect choice, and they pay the price.  But let’s change up the premise here.  Let’s say the stranger offers a different choice.  The couple’s son is dying of a rare disease, and they cannot afford the cure.  The parents have exhausted all options and their young son is going to lose his life.  The stranger can save his life, but the couple must press the button.  Doing so will cause a stranger somewhere in the world to die.  But in exchange for doing this, the son receives the life saving medicine.  Furthermore, the person in the world who will die is a child with the same condition; there are two people sick, but only one dose of medicine.  The exchange is now a life for a life.  Careful now.  The basic morality of the choice is still the same.  Our couple will have to murder someone in order to save the life of their son.  Does the fact that their actions will save a life even as they destroy one make the choice right?  (You might find it easier to shift condemnation from the parents killing the stranger’s child to the man offering the choice, but in this circumstance his motivations are still the same as they were in the original story.  Furthermore, the tempter’s morality is not in question here.) 
Ethical choices are seldom black and white, but are often layered in shades of gray.  The Box is a morality tale designed to make us think about our choices, both as individuals, and as a species.  And it does this very well.  But at the end of the day, such uncomfortable contemplations are often shelved in favor of more comforting thoughts.  The sad fact of the matter is people rarely apply cautionary tales to themselves.  This is one reason why such stories often fail in their attempt to instigate change.  People often make comments or relate stories in which they indicate the world and human behavior must change.  And many, many people say they agree.  “Yes, yes!  We need to change.  But not me.  Not me.”  And nearly every person says the same thing.  It takes strength and honesty to truly look at ourselves and say “I am wrong.  I am not going to do that anymore.”  It is also rare for an individual to truly know how they would react in a given situation such as the one related in the movie, or the alternative I proposed.  It is easy to say with smug confidence you would never do such a despicable thing.  When faced with the situation, your choices may surprise you.  So think carefully about your answer.  I did.
Would you press the button?
GA Lanham

And the Dragon Said... The End of the World? Really?

Ok, I’m a rational human being.  Or at least, I believe myself to be.  Like many people, when I hear the words “end of the world” combined with December 21, 2012 I raise a skeptical brow.  But hey, I have an open mind.  I’ll watch the program on the History Channel, I’ll read the interview with the “scientist”, and I’ll listen.  And what I hear, on the surface, is disturbing.  It seems like there is evidence supporting the idea.  And the idea is compelling, due in part to the fact that the Mayans, who constructed the calendar which predicts the end of the world appeared to be experts of astronomical phenomena.  Then there is the evidence, supported by “hard” science, which indicates we are coming into alignment with the galactic equator.  (Well, that was bound to happen sometime.)  And in true self-centeredness, my first thought is “Great!  It figures.  Just when I get my first book written and published… the world ends.  Just great!”
But wait!  IS the world going to end exactly on December 21, 2012?  Hmmmm.  For as long as people have been around, people have been predicting their own demise.  Sometimes when the destruction is caused by us, it comes true.  The good old self-fulfilling prophecy.  But predicting disasters on a global scale is a bit… unpredictable.  There are so many unknown factors.  Right now we can’t even predict the weather accurately.  (Well, ok we can sort of predict the weather.)  Still, if you ask a good, rational, self-respecting scientist, you will get the skeptical brow. 
“But wait!” you say, “There is science to support this!  Just check out this website.  It’s the official site of the end of the world.  I mean they even have a countdown clock.”  Come on!  Really?  A countdown timer to the end of time?  Now THAT is ironic.
Most rational, self-respecting scientists warn against accepting, at face value, the science offered up by these theories.  Pseudo-science, the methodology, practice and belief which appears to be scientific but which fails to adhere to established scientific practices, will parade itself about cloaked in an illusion of rationality.  Oh it sounds great.  Coincidences are offered up as solid facts, vague, often shapeless evidence is pointed to as incontrovertible truth, and wild speculation fills in the blanks.  Suddenly the beliefs of an ancient race which are hardly understood, and the apparent alignment of planets, planetary phenomena, and some hard science, are brought together to “prove” the truth of the world’s sure and certain demise in the year 2012.  Only, no-one can seem to agree on the how.  Furthermore, these doomsday predictions seem to be an echo of the warnings touted at every turn of the century, and every millennium.  And yet here we are, debating the evidence once again.
I am not denying the world will one day end.  It could be tomorrow, it could be a billion years from now.  But I am denying the ability of anyone, ancient astronomers or modern man, to predict the exact date and time.  There are just too many unknowns and even the best science is not without error.  We can build computer models based on available data to speculate on the earth’s demise, or the sun’s, or even the galaxies.  And yet the predictions will fail because we do not know enough about any of these complex systems to accurately understand how they work.  We simply cannot account for every variable. 
So when I read these prophecies and listen to the “scientific” proof, I am properly skeptical.  Hey I could be wrong.  I guess we will all find out when December 21, 2012 finally arrives.  Only 849 days, 23 hours, and 58 minutes left… Tick…tick….tick…
The end of the world?  Really?  Guess I’ll grab my Fruit Loops and watch…
GA Lanham
*For a more rational view of a very irrational subject, visit: