“Saladin” by Anne-Marie Edde

“Saladin” is an interesting book about an interesting figure in history. She spends most of her time considering not just how his contemporaries saw him, but why they saw him in a certain way. Saladin was praised in many Christian stories about that Crusade to the point of Christianizing him, because they could think of no other way to justify his victory. It seemed impossible to the medieval Christian mind that non-believers could defeat them, so Christian legends about him made him a descendant of Christian knights, or a closet Christian, or an eventual convert to Christianity. They certainly held him to be a virtuous knight, because in the Middle Ages’ theological mindset, right made might, so Saladin had to be good to have won.

Edde extensively explains Islamic sources as well. Saladin was a Kurd, so in many ways he could transcend the Arab-Turkish-Persian rivalries for power in the Islamic world. But those same documents show the vices of his virtues; Saladin was so generous with his trophies that his family was poor after he died, and he was so busy fighting wars he failed to establish a lasting power structure (in the historical sense). For a long time Saladin’s reputation in the Middle East was overshadowed by Baybars, who defeated the more ruthless and numerous Mongolian invaders only 70 years after Saladin’s death. It was only with WWI and its colonial aftermath that Muslims again began turning towards Saladin as a hero.

Edde also provides a great deal of historical context to explain Saladin’s decisions, so much can be learned about why Saladin was tolerant of other religions, about economic trade, the proper treatment of women (in that time), and the ‘rules of war.’ Saladin was particularly tolerant of Jews and Christians with philosophical and medical backgrounds or, like Richard the Lion Hearted, lived up to his warrior ideals. This is in sharp contrast to groups like ISIS, which are presently attacking both non-Muslims and other Islamic groups, which in the long run is why I think they will run out of steam. Being too exclusionary is the primary reason most religious variants fade out.

The most surprising thing about “Saladin” was how it resembles our time. Western countries, then and now, had more reliable means of transferring power. Today we vote, yesterday power descended from father to son (generally), and unless there were unusual circumstances, people accepted the transfer. Meanwhile, then and now, Islamic countries have often not had such stable means of transferring power, which means the Islamic world has spent more time at war with itself. Saladin, a Sunni, learned most of his warcraft fighting Shiites to unite Islam against the Christians, wars that turned so rough that his armies against the Crusaders were smaller than his previous armies against Muslims. And yes, it does seem ironic that he was more tolerant of Jews than of Shiites.

I also thought it was interesting that, then as now, politicians scrambled to make sure that trade is not too disrupted by prejudice, religion, and sometimes even war. No secular ruler wants to stop the stream of taxable trade. A pope was angry that Christians were selling materials useful in war to Muslims, but Muslim rulers would protect Christian merchants, especially in Egypt.

One Part Romance, One Part Adventure, Seasoned with Satire

Fifty Ways to Love Your Lover: The Novel http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KROBHRE

Candice is a brilliant and beautiful young woman from a wealthy and abusive family. She meets a young man who is strong and intellectual, but doesn’t understand woman. She undertakes his education, helping use his IQ to raise his EQ, but when she turns him into the perfect boyfriend, can she give up her plans to marry a rich man?

Kissing the Anti-Christ http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KNSUX6K

Christina Graves, intrepid liberal reporter, is searching for a story, while Senator Derek Hardy is searching for power. After he announces his campaign for the presidency, she starts to hunt after his secrets. While she squirms her way through an increasingly conservative management and he through the twisty maze of his father’s power structure, they are drawn towards each others’ determination, intelligence, and, yes, good looks.
Will ambition triumph over love?

Ancient Lesbian Sex Secrets http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KMA0D1Y

When WRIP free radio starts running out of money, the Dark Lord, satanic talk show host, aka Kenneth, decides to tell his audience that their prayers will be answered or their money back. When Jessica Hoh needs more money to pay for college, she joins an escort service. When Feather’s poetry brings in the pennies, she writes paranormal romance novels to pay the bills. When Sam’s video game profits slump, he needs a way to advertise them.

When they meet each other, they naturally decide to a make a movie, one that will settle all their woes: The Ancient Lesbian Sex Secrets.

Satirical Fantasy

Might and Right http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KTJ10D8

For Emperor Vor, conquering an empire is the easy part, ruling it is hard. His brother wants his throne, his wife disagrees about which son should secede him, a wizard conspiracy wishes to stop him, and a mixed bag of heroes is coming to kill him. His allies are his tea sipping, spy master sister, a chaos wizard, and a death priest.

The delicate political balance of his empire is upset when his daughter returns from her adventures in the mysterious West and Winderon, an elf born under the most dangerous of moons, finds the deadliest magic of all to use again him.

Love the Sin http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KNTIA00

Everyone searches for love, except for Cindy Wainrock, but everyone has to struggle through the difficulties to find it. Maria struggles against poverty, Deputy Tony Sanchez has to solve a murder, and Xia has to slay the vampires who kidnapped her would be boyfriend for his virgin blood. Yet Cindy may face the greatest danger of all, a murderer given a magical defense perfect against any but the purest of heart, which she definitely is not.

Ninja B Goes to College http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KN0J2EM

Ari’s grandfather is the head of the ninja clan, and sends her to college in America to study computers, but the university is hunting grounds for vampires. Unfortunately her bounty collecting is interrupted by biggest problems, for the vampires are only one part of the Anti-Christ’s cult, and her ally Cindy Wainrock’s father is a rich jock who likes wearing body armor while driving an armored car to hunt down liberal activists.

What will happen when the satanic plot to rule the world conflicts with the alien conspiracy that already does? Can she ally with the Chinese kung fu master Xia who had come here to study engineering? And what will happen when Xia and her junior mad scientist boyfriend finally create his dream: a quantum mechanical AI?

My High Fantasy

From Before the Flood http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IAZ0NM2

Soon after the fall from Paradise, people were not alone on Earth. They had giants for neighbors and thunder lizards to avoid. Angels came down from Heaven and ruled many areas as demi-gods, but when Satan’s minions rescued him from demonic torture, he plotted his revenge against God and humanity. While angels battle for the future of the world Yesu (daughter of a god) and Lilith (Adam’s first wife) fight for the future of humanity.

Whispers on the Wind http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KNNUH70

Louis Averone, the bard, thinks he is the only one who can hear the Song whispered on the wind, but when it sings of Sorrow, suicides spread. The more attuned to magic wizards are, the more they are crippled by depression. As wizards move to steal the magic and warriors to kill the source, whatever it is, Louis Averone, Csaris the wild wizard, and Captain Valorie de’Lane hope to heal the Singer.

The Dragons are Coming http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KNN4WC6

For their forbidden love, Bernard was castrated and Helen sent to a nunnery, but while sacking an ancient, distant temple, Bernard discovers the original prophecy of dragons returning to destroy the lands. Realizing the translation his people have used is dangerously inaccurate, he rushes back to save Helen. Only she wishes him to tell the Church Mothers, and introduces him to the son he never knew he had.

Poetry for Sale on Kindle!

I Tell Myself a Little Lie http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KM0EIXS

These are poems of my doubts.

Fifty Ways to Love Your Lover: The Poems http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KM0TO6O

These are fifty poems of the pains and pleasures of love.

Science is Pretty Quarky http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KLZQ3A0

These are all poems riffing off scientific ideas, mostly evolution.

The Sound of Each Soul http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KLZEGCM

These are poems of desperate resistance against conformity, but then, most poems are.

My Prose Collections

“Anything Goes” is a collection of short stories that cruise along the boundaries of sin and saintliness, inspired by my youthful trips to “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” my interest in pagan and Christian mythologies, and my struggle to find my morality.

“Devils, Daughters, and Dieting” is a collection of three novels. “Devil May Care” is about two people on opposite ends of the economic spectrum who have near death experiences and wake up to use opposite methods of trying to make the world a better place. “Fathers and Daughters” is about a police detective investigating the death of a man who had abused his ex-wife and daughters, leading to the scandals of the rich; meanwhile, his own daughter runs afoul corruption within the department. In “Weighty Wager,” two people bet on who can lose 100 pounds first; she uses mostly dieting and he uses mostly exercise. Warning, this is the funny one.

“Letters to Women” are my confessions about how I’ve felt about many of the women in my life, excluding my mother (sorry Freud), who have influenced me for better or for worse. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KY9PHKA

“Novel Novellas” These novellas are shorter versions of novels that I wrote, in case you just want a sampling. One of them is a Western fantasy, another a college romance, and two of them are fantasies based upon Asian influences, but those novels aren’t due out until 2015 because I want to finish the series. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KTJ2WVC

“Science Fantasies” are short stories that start with scientific ideas but my imagination rather runs away with me. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IC91L2C

“Zen and the Art of Drunken Story Writing” was mostly written in bars or after I got home from a bar. So many people have told me that writers have to be drinkers that I thought I’d give it a try. My favorite among them are the three “Adventures of Little Miss Jane,” set back in the old days of the British Empire. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KY9PFS4

All for Love, by Lord Byron

O Talk not me not of a name great in story;
The days of our youth are the days of our glory;
And the myrtle and ivy of sweet two-and-twenty
Are worth all your laurels, though ever so plenty.

What are garlands and crowns to the brow that is wrinkled?
Tis but as a dead flower with May-dew besprinkled;
Then away with all such from the head that is hoary-
What care I for the wreaths that can only give glory?

Oh, Fame! – if I ever took delight in thy praises
Twas less for the sake of thy high sounding phrases,
Than to see the bright eyes of the dear one discover
She thought that I was not unworthy to love her.

There chiefly I sought thee, there only I found thee;
Her glance was the best of the rays that surround thee;
When is sparkled over aught that was bright in my story
I knew it was love, and I felt it was glory.


by e. e. Cummings

If freckles were lovely, and day was night,
And measles were nice and a lie warn’t a lie,
Life would be delight –
But things couldn’t go right
For in such a sad plight,
I wouldn’t be I.

If earth was heaven and now was hence,
And past was present, and false was true,
There might be some sense
But I’d be in suspense
For on such a pretense
You wouldn’t be you.

If fear was plucky and globes were square,
And dirt was cleanly and tears were glee
Things would seem fair
Yet they’d all despair
For if here was there
We wouldn’t be we.

I'm a bad man?

I feel a little bad writing this, but there is something tiresome about too many children running around demanding attention. Their respective ages are two, four, and five, and they make adult conversation or pleasures nearly impossible. No one else seems to mind; all the other adults seem content to let the kids take center stage, while I wish they would go to bed. It’s not that they are bad kids, they are basically good kids, I just find hot wheels and kid’s TV shows boring. I keep thinking if I had kids I wouldn’t let them waste time watching TV, but then they would take up more of my time, which leads me to thinking maybe I shouldn’t have kids at all, if I’m not even interested in the good ones.

"X-Men" movie - spoilers

So I saw the latest X-Men movie, and I think it was one of the best examples of using time travel I’ve ever seen. All time travel stories are risky and prone to paradoxes, but this time it was worth it, because it was used to contrast the shifts in friendship between Raven, Eric, and Xavier. To see them as allies, then enemies, then friends, was quite moving, and to watch Eric give a speech about the ultimate power of mutants in the 1970s while switching back and forth between that and the robotic slaughter of mutants in the far future was quite telling.

Meanwhile, Logan’s trip to the past contrasts himself personally, the future self who had matured and been guided by Xavier, is now trying to convince the emotional ruin that is a younger Xavier to man up and start helping people again, especially no longer taking the drugs that let him walk but suppresses his mental powers. You know the characters are messed up when Logan “the Wolverine” is the mentor.

They also had fun with a lot of the other X-Men, Quicksilver mutant for moving faster than people can perceive used as much for laughs as for plot, but I’d like to give Ellen Page a quick shout out for her minor role as the mutant who allowed Wolverine to go into the past in the first place.