Love and blood in the modern west


Riveting, wickedly funny, existential, brilliantly written, authentically western …

Introducing racial issues isn’t the only adjustment the authors have made to the vampire mythos, but it’s more than just the details that set this series apart. Rather, it’s the way the authors utilize those details to create meaningful conflicts and world-altering choices for the characters. Riveting. – Kirkus Reviews

One of the funniest and most engaging series I have read in a long time. – Bitten by Books

Pour yourself a shot of the good stuff and settle in for a wickedly good read. – The Eastern Oregonian 

Unremitting fun, and a damn good read. – Fresh Fiction

Go ahead. You’re trying not to laugh at the title. Let it out! It’s funny and so is the book; sly and adult. – SF Site Featured Review

One of the weirdest stories I have ever read. It’s right up there with Neil Gaiman’s man-swallowing woman parts and talking tents. Instead, here we have rocket-launching, womb-sucking, Bible-bending, non-pointy-toothed vampires. And love. And cowboys. Depending on what you are looking for, that might be a good thing. If I had to liken this book to a movie, it would either be to Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, or maybe more appropriately, Quentin Tarantino’s From Dusk to Dawn. – The Avid Reader

A choice and very much recommended read, not to be missed. – Midwest Book

Ask a Cowboy!

Dear Cowboy, what’s the easiest way to catch a cowboy’s eye or win him over? My friend has a boyfriend whose best friend is awesome; I like him a lot. Signed, Lovesick.

Dear Lovesick,

You pack a whole lot of question into one little sentence. The thing to keep in mind is that getting someone to notice you is a whole different problem than getting someone to like you. I’m reminded of the time I spent a couple summers clowning at the local rodeo. For those unfamiliar with the concept, rodeo clowns help protect bull riders from further damage after they are separated from their bull. It’s a delicate and somewhat trying time for the unseated rider during which the bull — an angry, twisting locomotive of muscle and horn — is dead set on goring or trampling or otherwise maiming the recently dislodged source of so much irritation. Read more of the Cowboy’s answer>>

The story as an album cover


A reader crafted this “album cover” for the The Cowboy and the Vampire Collection, imagining the story as a collection of songs. What songs would they be? What type of music? Country western maybe, the real stuff, of course. Whisky-throated. Or maybe Industrial Trance with a lot of whistling.

Three other books: Animal madness, big science tantrums, neurosurgical reflections

Superficially, these three books seem little alike yet there is a connective thread: a cold hard look at scientific dishonesty. By this we don’t mean data-manipulating, ethical or other types of individual malfeasance, but rather, in these pages is a willingness to do what most of our scientific culture is unwilling (or unable) to do: undertake a type of meaningful self-reflection in the face of a reality that cries out for change. We grouped these three book reviews together because each, by intent or accident, reflects on a scientific theme with rare honesty and, in some ways, courage.

Animal Madness: How Anxious Dogs, Compulsive Parrots, and Elephants in Recovery Help Us animal madnessUnderstand Ourselves by Laurel Braitman. Humans are lucky animals. We have a special skill that has guaranteed our survival: we can complain. More specifically, we can vocalize our thoughts. And because we talk, we can complain about the things that bother us, like mental health issues, and seek remedy. Non-speaking animals, lacking this one slender skill, seem to suffer from many of the same mental health problems as humans — PTSD, abandonment issues, sexual dysfunction, suicidal thoughts — but since they can’t complain, they wind up stuck in cages and zoos and pens and farms and logging camps (elephants) and eventually, for some, on dinner plates — while suffering from extreme mental health issues. Read the full review>>

do no harmDo No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh. Ever wanted to see inside the brain? Did you ever want to touch that gelatinous mess and feel warm blood squirting all over your starched shirt, knowing that the next squiggly thing you sever, solder, extricate or drop will be the difference between life, death or some excruciating in-between coma-like existence for the anesthetized human container beneath your hands? Well then, this book is definitely for you. The author gently welcomes the reader into the foreign land of neurosurgery, whose citizens are of a decidedly unique temperament.  Read the full review>> 

Creativity crisisThe Creativity Crisis: Reinventing Science to Unleash Possibility by Roberta Creativity crisisNess. A brave book, gentle without too much overt criticism, but forthright about the human forces restraining science, especially biomedical science, in the U.S. Turns out it’s a host of things that individually seem inconsequential or at least manageable, but during the last few decades, these elements have managed to blend themselves together into a frighteningly strong and obstructive swill that now slows down, even poisons, scientific outcomes, devaluing public investment. Read the full review>>

Three other books: Cutting to the chase on human consciousness


My mind perked up recently when I read a blog post about “cosmic consciousness,” a state-of-being named by Richard Bucke in 1901. I read Bucke’s book Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind more than a decade ago after I stumbled upon it in a footnote of some other equally dusty and neglected book. I’ve seen little mention of it since, and then this post came out of the blue, turning up in my daily Google search set for the keywords human and consciousness.

Bucke’s cosmic consciousness is a next-gen adaptation, a collective form of shared brain space, which posits eventually we’ll be able to perceive and understand the world through the ties that bind all living things together, be they atomic or energetic or magical. It’s an evolutionary leap in human consciousness, handily explaining the mystical basis of most religions — some humans, like Jesus and Buddha, Blake and, apparently, Bucke, already attained it, and the rest of us, inevitably (if past is prologue) will one day get there too. Just as we shed our scales, pumped out lungs and wobbled up onto land a gazillion years ago, so too will we cast off our embodied singularity and expand our horizons into the planes of cosmic consciousness. Read the rest of the Soapbox>>