Forbidden Sanctuary now available on Amazon!

Other stores to follow.  Here’s the link. Here’s the summary.  And here’s the cover:

Forbidden Sanctuary ebook

I’m not crazy about it, but it’s better than the original paperback cover, which makes it looks like the novel takes place in ancient Egypt rather than a parking lot in western Massachusetts:

forbidden sanctuary from amazon

This was my first novel, and there’s nothing like selling your first novel.  I think it stands the test of time pretty well, although there are the usual issues with science fiction of a certain age: nobody has cell phones, there’s no Internet, etc.  As in Pontiff, the pope is a prominent character, and he is a good guy, struggling to do the right thing in a complex and difficult situation

For a mere $2.99, you can form your own opinion.

Forbidden Sanctuary: The pope gives a sermon about aliens, among other things

Readers of this annoying blog may have noticed that I have lots of problems with religion.  Readers of my fiction (especially Pontiff) may have noticed that I treat religion (and, in particular, people with strong religious faith) pretty sympathetically. What’s up with that?

Beats me.  It really is a mystery why some characters and plots and issues seem worth writing about, and others don’t (why, for example, I have no interest in writing the organically plotted novel I talked about here).

Anyway, here is a little snippet from Forbidden Sanctuary that addresses issues I still find interesting: the relationship between science and religion, the nature of morality, blah blah blah.  Pope Clement is giving a brief sermon to a small congregation in a drafty rural church before he goes off to meet with the alien leader–a meeting on which the future of the world depends (naturally).  He has been doing a lot of thinking….


“We have heard it stated,” Clement said softly to the congregation, “that mankind’s knowledge has outstripped its religions. The Church fights losing battles against Galileo and Darwin, and people’s faith is shaken. Is the Church nothing more than a relic of ancient ignorance, vainly reinterpreting its doctrines in an attempt to reconcile them with modern facts?

“We would suggest that the opposite is true, that science is struggling fitfully toward truths our spiritual nature has always apprehended. And chief among these is the interdependence of all life, all matter. As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me. Ask the ecologist, the physicist if that is not a scientific truth as well.

“Always our perspectives are widening, but the moral basis for our response to these perspectives has always been there. Love thy neighbor as thyself. Science makes the starving African our neighbor, and the homeless Indian, and the oppressed Cambodian, and we realize our actions affect them, they cannot be ignored. Now we have a new neighbor, and science struggles to understand why, and how. But the moral, the spiritual response to this knowledge already exists, and it is right. If we falter in our application of these spiritual truths, then truly religion’s claim to superiority is lost. This is a crucial time for mankind, not the least because these truths are being put to the test.

“That is why we ask for God’s blessing on our work, and your prayers. The truths will always be there, but men and women must always seek the strength to put them into practice. That strength can only exist with God’s help. Let us stand and profess our faith. I believe in one God…

What do you do if your future is already in the past?

I’ve been rereading my first novel, Forbidden Sanctuary, as it makes its way through the ebookification process.  You’ll like it!  Check out the first chapter!

Forbidden Sanctuary is straight-ahead first-encounter science fiction with a religious twist.  I wrote the novel in the 1980s, but for reasons that are somewhat opaque to me now, I set the action 30 years in the future–around 2003, if I follow the novel’s implicit chronology correctly.  This offers the same challenges I faced with Replica, which is implicitly set in 2024, except that I don’t have the extra 12 years of futureness to play with.  All the action in the novel takes place in the near past, as far as a present-day reader is concerned.  And, of course, I got some things wrong.

Do my failed attempts at futurology matter?  The novel is an artifact, created at a certain time and in a certain place.  You don’t expect science-fiction predictions to be entirely accurate.  Readers understand this.  Why bother tweaking the thing?

Well, for one thing, I’m not completely sure that readers do understand this.  The original publication date is right there on the ebook’s copyright page, but that’s all there is to let people know that this ebook isn’t new–it’s not like you’re buying a paperback with yellowed pages in a musty used bookstore.  I was talking to a really smart guy who had just read the ebook of Senator, and it soon became clear that he thought I had written the book recently, presumably to coincide with the 2012 election.  Er, no.

Anyway, as with Replica, the two major features of modern life that I missed were cell phones and the Internet.  I did have some people with “personal phones” that they flipped open, but I was somewhat inconsistent with them.  For example, I also had FBI agents communicating with each other via something called “telecoms,” which I guess were like super-modern walkie-talkies.  There were also some minor references that no longer work in the world as it actually was in 2003: references to the Soviet Union, for example, and to the never-ending conflict in Northern Ireland.  So I did some tweaking.

The thing that I got right, I think, is the role of the Catholic Church in the 21st century.  I didn’t imagine the sex abuse scandal, of course, but I did imagine a church fighting a rearguard action against modernity–churches closing, vocations plummeting, but still with many people who believed deeply, fervently, in its truths.

Also, the aliens are great!

New, lower prices on my ebooks

Regular blogging will now resume.  I hope you found other ways to entertain yourself in the past week.

Anyway, I just wanted to point out that my ebooks are on sale at Amazon and Barnes & Noble — and probably at other places as well.  My new publisher’s marketing scheme appears to be to set a list price of $4.99 on Amazon, and then discount from that, so the books look like they are on sale.  Which, I guess, they are.  So buy them while the prices are low.

Senator remains free. It’s been interesting to see how it has fared on the “bestseller” list of free Kindle books.  It peaked somewhere in the 100s on the overall list; now it’s down in the 800s.  For a while it was #1 in the political genre; it has now faded to #6.  It was also in the top ten for a while in the suspense genre; it is now at #24.  As the Underpants Gnomes say: Profit!!

Replica is now available for $0.99.  That’s a pretty good deal!  But has not yet broken into the top 100,000 for Kindle.  Shoot.

Pontiff and Summit are both available for $2.99.  Oddly, Pontiff is much higher on the paid Kindle bestseller list than either Replica or Summit.  I’m guessing that, at the sales level we’re talking about, a few copies can make a pretty big difference in a book’s ranking.

The ebook release of Dover Beach is going to be delayed so we can publish its sequel, whose title may or may not be Locksley Hall, at the same time.  But it shouldn’t be very long.

My goal is to get the ebooks for Forbidden Sanctuary and Marlborough Street out the door by the end of the year.

Then we’ll have a party.