NOVELS


 

THE INOFFENSIVE: a novel / completed 1998

THE INOFFENSIVE tells the fantastical story of a man who could have whatever he wanted, but who, instead, winds up with nothing. The novel takes the form of a dialogue between narrator and reader, in which the narrator addresses the reader by adopting the guise of a changeling: a being who is nothing more than what people imagine him to be.

As a changeling, the narrator is a man who has no identity of his own. He's a man who defies comprehension because he possesses none of the trappings of humanity and because he exists only by virtue of your imagination. He's a myth immortalized by dreams. He can appear to be everything to everyone; and yet, in reality, he is nothing, because his existence depends entirely upon what others can see and feel.

The narrator renders an account of a life lived in disguise as a human being. And he describes how he borrowed the identities of the people around him, clothing himself in stolen skins and moods. He misled everyone into believing him human and he has lived in fear of being found out, and of being recognized as a counterfeit human being.

The narrator begins his life inauspiciously enough, having been abandoned as a child, until an artist and his actress wife find him and raise him; but death will claim this sympathetic couple early. And so the narrator moves in with a relative of his adoptive mother. But when his new guardians regard this peculiar changeling with disgust and fear, he decides to run away to confront his destiny alone.

Destiny will make an actor of him; and, on account of being a changeling, he becomes one of the most accomplished of stage actors. After all, he is quite adept at playing many roles. And so he lives an exemplary life, at least until he falls from favor, after publicly admitting to being a changeling.

But he's too obsessed with what it is to be human to hide for very long; and he once again applies his changeling abilities to becoming a celebrated doctor and then to becoming a candidate for mayor. But it's only a matter of time before he is, once again, unmasked by the truth.

He has been condemned by mankind to obscurity. But the narrator wants to be forgiven for any lies he may have told in order to render himself more likable. And he hopes to be accorded all of the rights and privileges of being human. For it is his ambition to be human, though humanity is the one thing he can never possess.

The narrator has lived his life so as never to offend, and to be loved by everyone; but he has succeeded only in offending everyone. He wants only to be recognized and remembered, even though he possesses no physical identity by which anyone could recognize him. But, to his infinite disappointment, he is Nobody. And he's nothing more than a desire for life, a possibility of happiness and a hope of something better.



VEIL OF MAYA: a novel / completed 2003

VEIL OF MAYA examines a week in the lives of five characters living in a nondescript urban metropolis. But while all cities may be fundamentally alike, the same can’t be said of the people. And the characters in Veil of Maya couldn’t be more different from one another. And they tell the story the only way they know how: from their own perspective.

Two of the characters are homeless men: one, our crippled narrator, embittered beyond words and anxious to draw blood; and the other, surprisingly well-fed and the very picture of Buddha-like equanimity. When the narrator takes an unsavory interest in an idealistic young man with literary aspirations, the other one vows to oppose him. What follows would have become a battle over one young man’s soul, if only that aspiring writer believed he had one.

Our aspiring writer, the self-appointed anti-hero of the piece, struggles with his frustrating inability to relish what it is to be alive. He fears his own indifference to his girlfriend, a young woman who struggles with her own inability to reach him, or to connect with anyone completely. Our fifth character, a remarkably assured attorney who happens to live with our anti-hero, prides himself on how little he as in common with the foolish idealist he believes has devoted his life to the pursuit of failure. But contrary views of what makes a man successful have driven these friends apart long ago, and their continued attempt at friendship no longer bears any resemblance to it.

While our homeless narrator attempts to convince the young idealist to abandon all hope and share in his misery, the young man’s girlfriend attempts to give him hope while attempting to convince herself that she feels not desire but only hatred for his roommate. But when our anti-hero loses his temp job, only the unexpected honesty of a modern day Buddha in the guise of a tramp helps him to glimpse his life beyond the veil of Maya and see it for what it is.

As our anti-hero embarks on his quest for self-illumination, the other characters scramble to make sense of their own lives, crossing paths, both intentionally and haphazardly. And it’s the effect these characters have on one another that not only confirms deep-seated prejudices but, for brief moments, opens their eyes to truths they’d prefer not to see. But the relentless pull of the inevitable does nothing to diminish the baffling role of chance, as a series of misunderstandings, errors of judgment and petty resentments bring events to an irreversible state of affairs, regrettably climactic for some and disappointingly anti-climactic for others.



PALPABLE OBSCURE: a novel / completed 2005

In a twist on the Faust legend, an embittered creative writing teacher by the name of Olwen Sheridan meets a charismatic young student who appears to have everything: looks, money and the confidence that comes with having both. His own life series of disappointments, Olwen believes himself accursed; but the young man, who calls himself Silvanus, assures him he isn’t, intimating that Olwen could have anything he wanted if he so chose, including a dazzling writing career.

Instantly suspicious of the young man’s overstated promises, Olwen makes a point of avoiding the younger man; but Silvanus refuses to leave him in peace. It’s only when Silvanus asks about Olwen’s collegiate years that Olwen remembers meeting Silvanus, or, rather, someone who looked just like him. It’s not long before the lover he’d spurned so many years before returns to him, looking just as she did before he’d walked out on her. The past appears to be giving Olwen a second chance to live without making the mistakes which blighted his once lofty ambitions.

Silvanus offers Olwen success, provided he does what Silvanus tells him to do. There’s no room for pity, only ambition. But Olwen balks at Silvanus’ suggestion that he take credit for the impassioned work of one of his students. The younger man’s unctuous and amoral arrogance disgusts him. Nonetheless, Olwen is too desperate to revive a twenty year old romance with the young woman who thinks he’d never left her. The temptation is hard to resist, and Olwen consents to Silvanus’ conditions.

Before long, twenty years of enervating failure evaporate to reveal Olwen as a young man, bright and greedy for life. Is it wishful thinking, or is it really happening to him? A pact with something not of this world; or is everything what he thinks it is? Fantasy becomes too seductive for Olwen to care either way. And with the promise of the publication of a book which may, or may not, be his own, Olwen’s life is picking up again.

While Olwen reclaims lost love and squandered youth, and while he fashions himself into a luminary of the publishing world, he questions his own good fortune. Is he really worthy of it? And is he never again to suffer the consequences of his actions?

As his desire for the truth contends with his mounting need for long-overdue recognition, Olwen begins to lose his foothold on reality altogether. Is it no longer possible for him to fail, or has he only closed his eyes to the inevitability of failure?

Palpable Obscure is a tour of a man’s life, in all its passion and shame, and a story of how meaning seems to elude us the more we come to expect it. But if, as Olwen discovers, perspective is everything, is there much point in looking for truth?



UMBRA: a novel / completed 2006

Into every family a little insanity must fall, or so it would seem for the members of the Friend family; though it’s the fear of insanity that divides them and only the most deadly of confrontations that might bring them together again.

UMBRA details the strained relationship between two brothers, Sam and Jacob Friend, and the havoc which ensues from their failure to come to terms. Jacob, a successful television producer, has long since refused to so much as speak to his older brother Sam, a failed photographer struggling to ascribe some meaning to his many failures; however, Jacob’s apparent indifference has done nothing to deter Sam from wanting to make good what perhaps had never been good to begin with.

When events finally bring these two men face to face, their composure, all the more startling in light of the years of rivalry and mistrust fostered by their schizophrenic mother, gives way under the overwhelming weight of fear and self-loathing until only hatred remains. Nothing is certain, not even the sanity of a single member of the Friend family.

Told from the standpoint of five characters, UMBRA, examines not only failed family relationships but the nature of sanity itself. And just as unresolved feelings spill over from one generation to the next, perhaps insanity becomes the unwelcome and unavoidable inheritance of the past. Or does insanity, like failed relationships, arise merely from a failure to communicate? With the second generation of the Friend family poised to repeat the same tragedies of the former generation, is there any hope that the future will one day free itself from the past?



MALACHI: a novel / completed 2007

In the Skid Row area of downtown Los Angeles, Malachi has become the stuff of legend, his influence, for good or ill, felt by not only the men and women who sleep on the streets but by the lawyers, police officers and shopkeepers who spend their days there. No one knows who Malachi is, though some people think they do. But who is Malachi and what is it about him that could have left such an indelible impression on eight people whose lives have only one thing in common: Malachi.

Malachi doesn't attempt to tell the story of MALACHI, for how can anything be said of an unknown quantity? But what MALACHI does offer is a glimpse into the lives of eight people who, in their own, often misguided, attempts to understand what Malachi wants from them, find themselves at each others' throats. But with a serial killer stalking the streets and vigilante mobs out for revenge, is it any surprise that people have lost their minds?

No two people view Malachi the same way, but is anyone right about him? Was the brutal, seemingly unprovoked murder of an unidentified man Malachi's doing? Or was the unidentified man Malachi himself? And how is it that one man can be an object of adoration for some and a vile and hateful thing to others?

More to the point: is Malachi even a man at all, or is he, along with the boy who appears at our darkest hours, the figment of fevered and hysterical imaginations? Though if Malachi doesn't exist, why would eight people who barely one another believe he does? And why would these people stop at nothing, even at the risk of their lives and the lives around them, until they find him? Has Malachi really driven these people mad?

Though the course of eight separate but interlocking stories, MALACHI attempts to answer these questions by telling the story of a city, a city imploding under the weight of its neuroses, the neuroses of people with too many questions and not enough answers. It's a nightmare world where all enemies are invisible and all friends suspect; a world where death lurks around the corner and comes only when it's least expected. But is it death that Malachi has in store for the cemetery caretaker, the psychic, the murderer, the anarchist, the priest, the shopkeeper, the cop and the homeless woman? Or do their fates depend on each other?

 

D: a novel / completed 2008

        When an enigmatic stranger asks private investigator and self-proclaimed realist Birk Dillinger for help protecting a woman’s life, the woman’s disappearance impels Dillinger on what at first seems like a straight-forward murder case of a prostitute called Maria but devolves into a search for a woman who might not have been a prostitute at all. Facts are scant and not only does the identity of the victim remain a mystery, so does what happened to her since there is neither a corpse nor anyone willing to confirm the victim’s whereabouts. Despite Birk’s efforts, a man who calls himself D faults Birk for doing nothing to save Maria, while also leaving him packages containing body parts. Suspecting that the man who hired him was also the murderer, Birk struggles in vain to prove it, but facts are fleeting; and the more Birk involves himself in the case the more the answers elude him; and not even the reluctant help of Maria’s former colleague Luna does anything to dispel the confusion which snowballs until it feels like no one is what they claim to be and everyone is lying; reality itself no longer resembling what he thought it was.  It doesn’t help that Birk’s past – his divorce and as well as the resulting therapy - has thrown his own identity and possible complicity in issue, though maybe the answers to a case which has grown uncomfortably personal lie not with others but within himself.  

 

Aldo Weiss, a disaffected contract attorney with literary aspirations, accepts a mind-numbing job as a document reviewer only to suspect that not only might he be reliving a memory which should have been forgotten but that it he isn’t even the lawyer he held himself out to be but, rather, a writer by the name of Adam. Aldo’s inability to remember anything that occurred before entering the premises of Stepton, Stock and Wahldup reinforces the fear that nothing is as it should be, and that having pursued the future under false pretences may have earned him the wrong name and the wrong future.

 

OSIREION'S LIBRARY: a novel / completed 2009

Aldo Weiss, a disaffected contract attorney with literary aspirations, accepts a mind-numbing job as a document reviewer only to suspect that not only might he be reliving a memory which should have been forgotten but that it he isn’t even the lawyer he held himself out to be but, rather, a writer by the name of Adam. Aldo’s inability to remember anything that occurred before entering the premises of Stepton, Stock and Wahldup reinforces the fear that nothing is as it should be, and that having pursued the future under false pretences may have earned him the wrong name and the wrong future.

However, his true future as a writer is in jeopardy unless he can make something of his literary aspirations by finally committing words to paper. As his writing takes shape, however, his future is no less secure as a two week assignment shapes up to be an indefinite succession of unremarkable days working for a man impressed with work product Aldo doesn’t even remember completing; a man Aldo, like everyone else, has begun to resemble.

Stumbling upon clues leading to the location of a door behind a bookcase, Aldo finds the first of eight books by Adam Cadmus, the name of the protagonist in his first story.  Clues continue to direct his attention to the door, behind which is a staircase. His false life as a reluctant attorney diverts him from his purpose, but not long enough to keep him from finding the other books he believes he will one day write under the name Adam Cadmus. It’s when his future can go either way that he finishes his story and remembers he has yet to decide whether to take the stairs behind the door.  


SIMULACRA: a novel / completed 2010

Set in the near future, SIMULACRA reveals a world in which mega corporations and the government unify forces to better influence public opinion. But the Simulacra, a small group of anarchists attempting to disrupt the national election, tries to undermine the relationship between media and viewing public by utilizing integrated digital technology to doctor broadcast images. When the President’s corporate supporters hire an information retriever to ferret out the whereabouts of the group, the truth becomes a murky and easily manipulated commodity. The investigator becomes a pawn in a battle Simulacra was never meant to win, but this unlikely hero surprises himself by learning that nothing is what it seems, not even himself.


AETERNA: a novel / completed 2011

When a nine year-old girl by the name of Fay disappears one day, her mother Sasha seeks her out, to no avail. A visit from a stranger from another world reveals that her daughter may still be alive, sheltered in a world between worlds, a place beyond the customary three-dimensions where children have been spirited away for years. Called Aeterna by some, its purpose it to protect the children from harm and perhaps even to teach them the secrets of the universe so they might return to Earth and teach others.

  It’s Fay’s father Conor who knows the truth about Aeterna. He’d visited once when he was a boy and left of his own free will, desperate to relive the past he’s almost entirely forgotten since then. It’s a mysterious friend from his youth who returns, still a boy, to guide him through the memories of all that he’d once learned and to reveal that Conor was older than he thought he was.

Thirty years after her disappearance, Fay, the daughter Conor never knew, returned home from Aterna, without having aged a day. Although her mother Sasha was already dead, Conor had been expecting her, his purpose to help her. After all, she’d come home with big plans: to offer the human race love in the dire days of an unhinged future.

Aeterna is the story of a place where time has no value, and where the past, present and future come together to determine the fate of humanity itself.   


EXTANT: three sci-fi stories / completed 2012

          Daedalus: A mission to Mars heralds the world’s first fusion-powered spacecraft: the Daedalus. However, an untimely crash back on Earth takes the crew, not home but, rather, a thousand years into a future seemingly abandoned by humanity. It’s a leap of time that is now speeding in reverse, presumably to send the ship, and its reluctant crew, back to a world doomed to class war and extinction.   

            The Future Is Now: Mankind has achieved immorality, thanks to the patented miracle of chromosome preservation. For one of the first subjects in the Omega Corp test plan, it’s a brave new world promising eternal bliss; that is until his daughter, fashioned from his improved DNA, disappears.  Her final warning that Omega has masterminded the secret to population control awakes memories of the man he was before he’d been tamed.    

 Extant: Opus Industries has revolutionized the concept of sleep productivity, permitting employees to maximize output and profit while unconscious. One man, desperate to ground himself in what he believes to be reality, chooses to opt out of the program.  It’s only when unexpected human contact breaks the usual monotony of his work life that he’s drawn into a conspiracy that offers him a chance of telling dream from reality and perhaps even walking free. 

 
DEUS: a novel / completed 2013

  In a tightly-controlled future prohibiting the criticism of all corporate and government leaders, terrorists, many of whom have been herded into anarchist enclaves called Freezones, are the people who refuse to agree to the restrictions; although the popularity of cortical implants has presented new opportunities to influence the minds of billions, in the interest of eliminating dissent altogether. Jaro Huss polices the border with Freezone, interrogating everyone accused of freely criticizing the government and its affiliated corporations. When he's contacted by the most infamous terrorist of all, a rabble rouser who calls himself Z, its no longer potential insurgency he's investigating but, rather, his own forgotten past.