The Rational Series Is Out with an Amazing Deal

The Rational Series - 41QmCzx+ReL

The Rational Series, The complete set of novels from The Rational Series by Mike Stone, including “Why Is Unit 142957 Sad? (or The Tin Man’s Heart), “The Rats and the Saps”, “Whirlpool”, and Out of Time”.

Digital version available on Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0789JZHLC ($5.00)

Paperback version available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1981705511/ ($29.95)

The first novel is about a love affair between a robot and the beautiful programmer who created it, in an epic spanning millions of years and two galaxies. The second novel is about a war between Sapiens and a new species of humans, called Rationals. The third novel is an experimental psycho-science-fiction story taking place sometime in the future, involving an author in a mental institution and his characters. The fourth novel is about a battle to save the universe, between Rationals and Sapiens on one side and a species far superior to them. All this in one book!

If you love science fiction (or if you love someone who loves science fiction), this will make an amazing Christmas present. The four novels in paperback would cost you $75.84, but from now until Christmas you pay only $29.95!

Don’t wait! Click now. It’s the rational thing to do.

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Call of the Whippoorwill

My third poetry book, Bemused, will be published and available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle digital formats within the next week or two. I am starting a new poetry collection which, when published, will be called “Call of the Whippoorwill”. Like Bemuse was before publishing, you’ll be able to read my poems as I write them by clicking the following link: Call of the Whippoorwill

 

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It’s Out (and available for purchase)

My latest science fiction novel, “Out of Time”, has just been published. It is the fourth novel in the Rational Series and takes off where The Rats and the Saps left off. It’s available for order and purchase as a paperback from Amazon or a digital download from Kindle. Click https://uncollectedworks.wordpress.com/out-of-time/ for more info.

Mike Stone

Raanana, IsraelOut_of_Time_Cover_small

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Out of Time

Just a heads-up here. I’m starting on the third and final part of my fourth science fiction novel in the Rational Series. It’s called “Out of Time”. If you like sci-fi, especially from an author who does his homework, I think you’ll really like this one.

Like my other books, you can read the book “over my shoulders” while I’m working on it but, once I finish and publish it, all you’ll see are the links to purchase the book.

So take a look, over my shoulder, and let me know what you think of it. Just click the following link: Out of Time.

Mike Stone

Raanana, Israel

 

 

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Venus de Milo

“What can I do for you?”

“Well, Professor Palmer, I’ve been browsing the Internet and came across your work on false memories and external indicators differentiating false and true memories,” Axel answered the man sitting behind the oversized mahogany desk.

“That was based on research and clinical experience with childhood traumas such as those of rape or incest victims,” the professor explained.

Axel laughed, “That’s not my case, not that know of, at least that’s not why I came to you. Something’s been gnawing at me for the last few years now. Something that I took for granted since I was a child, something I believed to be true like the solidity of the ground I walk on.”

“Please go on,” the professor was skeptical but interested. The man sitting in the highback chair across from him seemed somewhat older than himself, physically fit, and not given to believing every passing nonsense.

“It’s something that is of consequence only to me but none-the-less has considerable impact on me,” Axel continued.

“What has been the impact on you?” the professor asked, looking for some classic symptom to latch onto.

“The impact on me has been to call into question all of my childhood memories related to my relationship with my birth mother,” Axel answered, taking the time to choose the precise words.

“Your birth mother?” the professor repeated, raising his eyebrow.

“Yes,” Axel explained. “that would deserve some elaboration. My father and mother divorced each other when I was seven years old. Dad remarried when I was nine. After some initial difficulties in accepting my new mother, I came to refer to her as “Mom” or “my mother”, and to the woman who gave birth to me as ‘my birth mother‘ or ‘my biological mother‘.”

“How did your birth mother feel about your referring to her as that?” the professor probed, thinking he might be getting closer to the core issue.

“Sorry,” Axel offered, “a little more elaboration is necessary. After my parents divorced, my birth mother also remarried. He was an army psychiatrist at the time, a nice enough man, although I didn’t have much to do with him. At first they lived just across the court from us in the same apartment complex my father and I lived in. Then they moved down south, a good day’s drive from us. They came to visit me a couple times a year, sometimes staying at a motel in town, sometimes bringing me back to their home. He never stood between my birth mother and me. I remember him always in the background. Some years later he was transferred to the Philippines. Of course my birth mother went with him. They were there three years. During that time they adopted a little girl. I remember getting a photograph of her in a letter. She must have been two years old or so. She was awfully cute. Three days before they were supposed to be rotated back to the States, my birth mother was doing some shopping in town when she was hit by a car and died. I was thirteen at the time. Her husband returned home with the infant and a coffin. She was buried in a cemetary in his home town. I never had any further contact with him.”

“That was quite a story,” the professor exhaled. “How did your birth mother’s death make you feel?”

“I was devastated,” Axel said, “but I got over it.”

“How did you get over it?” the professor asked.

“That’s the crux of the matter,” Axel also exhaled. “I never inquired into why my parents had divorced, at least not until a year or two before my father passed away. I have memories of my mother taking a switch to me when I was two years old. I remember her walking out of our house with a suitcase, getting into a cab, and driving away. I remember her coming to visit me after she had remarried, my running to wrap my arms around her waist, and her arms hanging limp at her sides. Later, after I’d studied Art History at college, I started associating her with Venus de Milo, because she had no arms to wrap around me. I assumed she never really loved me. Maybe she loved me in the beginning, but sometime afterward stopped. I assumed that might have had something to do with my father divorcing her and getting custody of me. My father always loved me, as much as I loved him. Of that, there was never any doubt in my mind.”

“So what caused you to call into question your childhood memories related to the relationship with your birth mother?” the professor probed further. It seemed obvious that this man was self-analytical to a fault. He might have made a decent psychologist, he thought, although the professor didn’t have much faith in psychologists with their talking therapies.

“A couple years before my father passed away, I took him out for a drive,” Axel answered. “We ended up driving past our old home, which Dad sold soon after the divorce. I was in my sixties at the time. Dad had recently turned eighty. I stopped the car in front of the house and asked Dad why he’d divorced my birth mother. He told me it was because she didn’t love him anymore, at least not the way he expected to be loved. I asked him what he meant and he told me she had said she loved him like a brother. Was that the only reason? I asked. Well sure, he answered, I didn’t want to be loved like a brother. I wanted to be loved like a lover, like a husband. I couldn’t wrap my brain around that. I told him married love is multi-faceted. There are many aspects to love when you are attracted to a person but, at the same time, care for her deeply like a husband but also like a father or like a brother. The existence of one aspect doesn’t preclude another aspect. Anyway, that’s why I divorced her, Dad told me, turning red. That’s the silliest reason for divorce I’ve ever heard, I said and we drove on.”

“Why did that cause you to question you childhood memories?” the professor asked Axel.

“A few years later,” Axel said slowly, “a woman came across my name on one of the social networks I belong to, quite by chance, she explained in a private message. She identified herself as the Philippine infant my mother and her husband had adopted. She confirmed the details I remembered about my mother’s second husband and the events surrounding her death. She said she had been rumaging around the attic of her adopted father’s house soon after he’d passed away. She had stumbled on a shoe box full of returned unopened letters addressed to me. She apologized for opening one of the letters but, after I told her it was ok with me, she read me the letter. The letter told me how much my mother had loved me and how much she missed me. The woman, my half-sister I guess, told me her father had talked about the divorce. He told her that my father had tricked or forced her to accept the conditions of the divorce. That was difficult for me to swallow since Dad had always been a gentle fair man, except when his back was against the wall; however, I could believe my grandfather was capable of being forceful to get his way. Dad had dropped out of college to elope with my mother, who came from a simple background, not that I cared an iota about that. My half-sister asked me what I wanted her to do with the box of letters. I told her I’d love for her to send them to me. She said she would. That’s the last I ever heard from her. I looked for her on the social network and sent her a followup message, but she never responded to me. It might be because of my political views, I don’t know.”

“So how do you think I could help you?” the professor asked.

Axel looked into Professor Palmer’s eyes and said, “After hearing Dad’s explanation about why he had divorced my Mom and then receiving those messages from my half-sister, I don’t know what to believe about my childhood up to the age of seven. Did my birth mother love me or did she not love me? How can I know what happened to me? How can I interpret what happened? How can I assimilate what happened? Were my memories my memories or were they implanted? If they were implanted, then when and by whom? The ground on which I walked as a child has disappeared from under my feet.”

After a moment the professor asked Axel, “What is it that you think I can do for you?”

“Obviously you are a psychiatrist, so you probably don’t put much stock in talk therapy,” Axel replied. “So I was thinking that, if you had experience with and access to a transcranial stimulator, say, a transcranial magnetic stimulator or a transcranial direct current stimulator, you might be able to do an fMRI of my head while showing me a picture of my mother and mapping the cells or regions that lit up. Then you could stimulate just those areas while I reported which memories popped up.”

“A nice idea,” the professor said, “but the TMS and the TDCS coils are only positioned for regions of the brain dealing with depression and other moods. Besides, what you’re asking for is a function not approved for those devices by the FDA. What you are requesting would require deep brain stimulation; which would require open brain surgery while you are conscious. Are you sure you’d want to do that?”

Axel thought about the professor’s words a long time before answering, “If it turned out that my memories were true and my mother didn’t love me, I could deal with that. If it turned out that my memorieswere false, that they were implanted, I could deal with that too. What I couldn’t deal with is thinking my mother didn’t love me when she did. It’s like a major chunk of my memory is missing, like I have amnesia, not being able to trust any of my childhood memories. So, yes, I’d be willing to undergo open brain surgery for the chance of getting back my childhood memories before I die.”

The professor tried to talk Axel out of what he considered to be a rather frivolous dicretionary but dangerous medical procedure. “We wouldn’t be able to differentiate between a true memory and a false memory; neither could we be able to tell apart a self-acquired memory from an implanted memory.”

Axel told the professor, “I’d be satisfied if you found a memory in which her arms are wrapped around me.”

The professor told Axel to go home and think it over, talk to his wife and children about it, and then give him a call if that’s what he’s decided. In any case, an elective surgery such as this would take up to a year to schedule, what with all the real life-and-death cases requiring surgery.

Axel thanked Professor Palmer for his time and patience, and promised to call him one way or the other.

*

The surgery was scheduled for 2:00 New Years morning. He reported to the hospital reception desk the day before the surgery, accompanied by his wife and children. He was assigned a private room and told to don the hospital pajamas. The nurses stuck him and probed him. He was taken to get an EEG, EKG, X-Ray, MRI, and fMRI.

“Do you still want to go through with this?” the professor asked Axel.

“Yep,” Axel answered.

“Can’t you talk any sense into him,” the professor asked Axel’s wife, glancing also at Axel’s sons.

“No,” Axel’s wife answered, her energy depleted. “Just make sure you bring him back to us, alive and functioning.”

“You know open brain surgery is never a slam dunk and Axel signed a waiver form protecting the hospital and us from any liability if the procedure has complications,” the professor said

“Yes, I know,” she responded. “He explained you wouldn’t perform the surgery if he didn’t sign the waiver. We wouldn’t sue you or the hospital if he were to wake up a vegetable, or didn’t wake up at all.”

Axel’s sons gathered closer around their mother, putting their hands on her shoulder.

A male nurse shaved Axel’s head. His wife gasped. Then she stood up and bent over him, kissing him on the cheek. “I love you,” she said. “See you on the other side.”

“Good luck, Dad,” the sons said and, one after the other, kissed their father.

The male nurse wheeled Axel out of the room and down the hall to the elevators.

*

The timeline bifurcated again, as it does every moment; afterall, we live in a quantum multiverse.

In one universe Axel’s surgery was a success in every way. The professor had stimulated a memory cell in Axel’s brain that triggered a memory of when his mother had hugged him warmly.

In another universe Axel’s surgery was a success but all the memories were of a mean cold-hearted mother who had no arms for hugging Axel.

In yet another universe Axel’s surgery was not quite successful. The young doctor assisting the professor had been handed an unsterilized scalpel. There was an infection and the inflamation spread through Axel’s brain. He went into a coma and, three days later, died; however, the professor had managed to trigger a memory of Axel’s mother hugging him. Then he lost consciousness.

Venus de Milo

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What Do You Mean “What Does It Mean to Be a Jew”?

The other day I submitted a poem to a Jewish writing project. What follows are my poem and the polite rejection received:

Rosh HaShana 2016/5777

Raanana, October 2, 2016

Enough of idle dreams and wishes

Enough of sweetness, honey and apples.

The light does not come from East

And not from West,

But from inside us.

Peace will not come from one of us

But from all of us.

There is no time but marching forward

To futures where Abraham’s progeny

Sit together at a table

Sharing food and drink

And all men’s children

Play and grow in health

Uneducated in the ways of war

But wise in the paths of peace,

All men necessary on this march because

No one knows from whence come saviors,

What will be their color or creed,

What language they will speak,

Whether man, woman, child

Or stranger.

The response:

Mike,

Thanks for sharing your poem with (name withheld).

As much as we admire the sentiments that it contains, we are looking for something with a much more concrete link to the author’s own Jewish experiences and how such experiences reflect on his or her Jewishness.

So I’m afraid we’ll have to pass on this but hope you’ll keep us in mind for future work.

May the year ahead be a good one for you and all Israel.

Best,

(name withheld)

The response got me thinking about my own Jewish experiences, what it means to be Jewish, what is meant by the question “what does it mean to be Jewish”, and why would one Jew ask another Jew what it means to be Jewish. Don’t misunderstand: I’ve received rejections on the poetry I submit before; just never one like this.

In Anne Frank’s diary she talks about how, after being cooped up in the attic hiding place for a year and a half, all she wanted to do was “ride a bike, dance, whistle, look at the world, feel young” and to know that she was free. She wondered whether anyone would ever not worry about whether or not she was Jewish and merely see her as “a teenager badly in need of some good plain fun”. The diary was not about a teenager who had been grounded for some typical teenage infraction. It was about just one instance among millions of perfectly normal people who were hunted down and murdered just because they had the misfortune to be born as Jews among people who hated Jews with every fiber of their being, whatever being Jews meant to them.

Jews are just like everyone else in that we are all different once you individuate us sufficiently, once you listen to our stories, our desires, our aspirations, our fears, and our perspectives. It’s true we have our rabbis instead of your priests, but there are Jewish soldiers, Jewish cops, Jewish firefighters, Jewish intellectuals, Jewish weightlifters, Jewish actors and actresses, Jewish presidents (in Israel), Jewish geniuses, Jews of mediocre intelligence, Jews below average intelligence, Jewish prostitutes, Jewish criminals, sociable Jews, unsociable Jews, Jewish farmers, Jewish truck drivers, religious Jews, Jewish agnostics, Jewish atheists, Jews for Jesus, Jewish poets, Jewish artists, Jewish paperboys, Jewish lifeguards, healthy Jews, sick Jews, and dead Jews. There are Jews who’d be hard to tell apart from Christians, Jews who’d be hard to tell apart from Muslims, Jews with big hooked noses, Jews with little ski-slope noses, white Jews, black Jews, sallow-skinned Jews, American Jews, British Jews, German Jews, Russian Jews, Ethiopian Jews, French Jews, Hungarian Jews, Syrian Jews, Iranian Jews, Iraqi Jews, Kurdish Jews, Turkish Jews, and even a Jewish astronaut.

The Jewish population is not statistically skewed. What is skewed are non-Jewish perceptions of Jews but, in this respect, Jews also have skewed perceptions of non-Jews because that, unfortunately, is human nature to skew our perceptions based on the availability of the limited narratives and experiences to which we’ve been exposed.

There may be some Jews who sit around congratulating themselves for being Members of the Tribe and feeling comfortable in their Jewishness, but mostly we look outward with our Jewish eyes at the non-Jewish universe trying to find our meaning and purpose in it just like everybody else.

That was the spirit in which my poem was written.

Those who know me know that I am a Jewish agnostic. I have never found evidence of God’s existence. I think I would prefer to live in a universe in which God existed, but I don’t believe that is the case. I often use God as a metaphor in my poetry though.

In another five hours, Yom HaKippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, will begin. If I have offended anybody please forgive me as I forgive those who have offended me and may you all be inscribed in The Book of Life.

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CALLING ALL POETS, WRITERS, ARTISTS AND MUSICIANS: We need your most passionate work

Source: CALLING ALL POETS, WRITERS, ARTISTS AND MUSICIANS: We need your most passionate work

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