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Ben Savage is a genius!

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Flying high with praise for Devourer of Souls

With his newest book, “The Witch and the Devourer of Souls,” C. David Belt shines bright as a master of suspense and tasteful horror. Tabitha Moonshadow has expanded her talents, and with the help of her faithful, struggling husband, is thrown into an epic who-dunnit that keeps you guessing right until the end. David hits all the right notes in this fantastic sequel that seats him firmly in the same section as Stephen King and Dean Koontz.

Walt Parker, South Jordan, Utah

It is a rare feat for an author to pull off a sequel that is better than its earlier work, but in the case of “The Witch and the Devourer of Souls” that is exactly what C. David Belt has done.
Belt’s heroine, Tabitha Moonshadow, returns with even greater abilities than before, thanks to a special connection she and her husband have through the Power. As college students with a new baby, their lives seem perfect.
But a string of kidnappings and murders in their community soon changes that. To her own endangerment, Tabitha unwittingly begins using the Power to help police find the perpetrator. Before long she begins to suspect everyone around her.
With Belt’s trademark plot twists, “The Witch and the Devourer of Souls” captures the reader’s attention from beginning to end.

Adam Ward, Centerville, Utah

The Witch and the Devourer of Souls is a riveting work of fiction. I couldn’t put it down! I didn’t read the first book in the series, but I didn’t feel that I was lacking in the information that I needed to enjoy the story. Now I want to go back and learn more of Tabitha’s beginnings. This novel had characters that were believable in their everyday lives and the identity of the Devourer kept me guessing until the very end. It was quite suspenseful, intriguing, and well done.

Crystal Earl – DeWitt, MI

This book was a wild ride. Like all of Belt’s works, it tells the story of good people in horrifying circumstances who make it through because of their faith and their love for each other. The characters were delightful. Josh and Tabitha are endearing in their newlywed love without being nauseating. In contrast, the eponymous Devourer may be the most creepy, disgusting villain I’ve ever encountered in fiction. Belt kept me guessing and second-guessing his identity until nearly the end of the book.

Though The Witch and the Devourer of Souls is the sequel to The Witch of White Lady Hollow, the story stands well on its own, with concepts like the Power explained well enough to prevent confusion. Though it is certainly not a bedtime story for young children, there are enough uplifting and genuinely hilarious moments to keep the reader from losing hope. I oscillated between wanting to throw up and nostalgically chuckling at the heroes’ Provo-esque antics. I’d recommend this book to anyone with a strong stomach who wants a thrilling, quirky read.

Elissa Cardon Nysetvold – Beaumont, TX

I had never dedicated a grave before.

I have seen it done. I have read the procedure. I know how to do it, but I had never done it personally.

Until yesterday.

My dad passed away early Monday morning, and yesterday (Tuesday)—yes, just one day later—we buried him. Per my mother and my father’s wishes, there was no funeral. There will be a family gathering at the gravesite and then later at my home, but that will have to wait until my mother can attend. You see, she’s in the hospital, fighting for her life. So, all plans for a memorial gathering will have to wait.

No, they weren’t both in a tragic accident or anything like that. My mother has been sick for some time and has been in the hospital for nearly two weeks. She was in the hospital before my father fell and broke his hip early Saturday morning. We called 9-1-1. An ambulance came and took him to the hospital. A surgeon repaired his broken hip, but given my father’s severely advanced dementia and general health, we all knew this was a life-ending injury.

On Sunday night, he was approved for hospice care. A little over eight hours later, he had passed. This was almost exactly forty-eight hours after he arrived at the hospital.

We are grieving, of course, but his quick passing is also a tender mercy.

My parents have lived with us for the last few years, and their presence has been a great blessing. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to care for and provide a home for my parents in their later years.

Dementia is such a cruel disease. It slowly steals away your loved one. It slowly steals away the victim’s mind. I say, slowly, but sometimes this horrible disease progresses with stunning speed. At first, it was simply struggling to find the right words. Then he would start a project, like removing a shed door, and then forget how to put it back on. Then he would forget why he had come into a room. Then he would forget names. And faces. He would tell the same one or two stories over and over.

And then he forgot the stories.

His decline in the last two weeks has been stunning. He could no longer recognize me, didn’t know who I was. He didn’t recognize my mother anymore. Or my wife, Cindy. We were just strangers to him. He could rarely form complete sentences, and when he did, he would substitute words, seizing out of the recesses of his clouded mind whatever words he could. Often these words had nothing to do with what he was trying to say. He could no longer tell us what he wanted or needed. He could no longer understand what we were saying to him. Two weeks ago, you could have described his comprehension as that of a two-year-old. In the last few days, he had lost even that level of ability.

My father, a history professor and a very talented teacher, had lost the ability to speak.

In his last two days in mortality, there was nothing left of him. His soul was still there, but it could no longer peek out of those eyes—those tender, blue eyes that had once been so loving. In the end, he was trapped in a mind that could no longer allow him to be himself. In the end, there was only pain and fear.

My father was a great and loving man. He IS still a great and loving man. I have many, many fond memories of him. He was a strong man who worked hard all his life for his family.

We have an eight-thousand-gallon fishpond in our backyard. My dad dug the entire pond by himself using a shovel, a pickaxe, and a claw-hammer. He dug it the first time my parents came to “winter” with us. (They wintered with us three years before selling their home in the mountains of Nevada and moving in with us permanently.) I only expected him to start the project, perhaps to get only a quarter of the way done. He needed a project, needed something to keep him busy, something repetitive that didn’t require thinking. He dug the entire pond that winter. All by himself. In one shot. That was my dad.

That IS my dad.

On Sunday morning, I went to Choir. One might question how I could go to Choir with all this going on. The truth is, I was desperate for any sense of normalcy. So, I went. A few of my brethren in the Choir asked how I was doing. One of those men is my friend Brad. I told him. I unloaded. Then I sang the broadcast. And, yes, I was weeping through most of it. (No surprise, I know.) On Tuesday (last night, the day we buried my father), we had a recording session. After the recording session, Brad asked me how I was doing. I told him. Everything. He said, “You seem like you’re doing so much better tonight than you were Sunday.” And the truth is, he was right. I am doing better. So much better.

We are grieving and we will miss him. But he is freed at last from the prison that his mind had become. He has his great mind back. He has been reunited with loved ones lost. He is himself again.

I miss him, but I am so profoundly happy for him.

I thank my Heavenly Father and His Son, my Savior, Jesus Christ, for Their great plan of happiness and salvation. I know I will see my dad again.

And when I see him again, he will know who I am.

 

Fun Interview

Typical of Belt’s works, he paints a picture of a gripping tale that keeps you glued to your seat right from the beginning! There is romance, humor, drama, suspense, incredulity at how deranged a character can be, and some fanciful uses of the Power, something to which we’re introduced in a previous novel titled The Witch of White Lady Hollow. And the picture’s canvas is set in cultural “Happy Valley” Utah. If you’re looking for a story in which you collect details and ponder them to attempt to detect the villain’s identity, only to find out you’re wrong, look no further. Only a gifted author who carefully crafts a story can fool not only the main characters, but also the reader!

John Abercrombie

I have a confession to make. A huge confession. Let me work up my courage, take a few deep breaths, calm my trembling hands.

Okay.

<long-loud-sigh>

Here goes . . .

I love Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.”

There. I said it. Now all the world knows (or at least those few who actually read this Author’s Note).

Okay, now before you take away my man-card, hear me out.

I enjoy a good, well-written horror tale, but I also enjoy a good love story. And as anyone who is familiar with my work can attest, I firmly and enthusiastically believe the two need not be mutually exclusive.

While I do love “Pride and Prejudice,” it ends (in my not-so-humble-opinion, and with a small—very small—apology to Miss Austen) far too early in the story. I want a sequel! And not from a modern writer—I want to know from Miss Jane herself. I want to know how the Darcys kept their romance alive! I want to know how they survived the horrors and vicissitudes of the Napoleonic Wars!

Romance doesn’t end with the first kiss or even at the altar.

At least it shouldn’t.

In the early 1980’s, shortly after Cindy and I had completed our separate church missions (hers in Spain and mine in South Korea and Los Angeles, Korean-speaking) and early in our married life together, while I was finishing my degree at Brigham Young University (where I took exactly zero English and/or creative writing classes—which may be painfully obvious), I discovered a TV show called Hart to Hart. This little gem related the adventures of a married couple who solved mysteries together. What drew me to the show was the chemistry between the husband and wife. The two characters obviously loved each other and were devoted to each other. There was no “romantic tension.” There was just romance. (All the tension came from outside—from the villains and the adventure—it was never about “will they or won’t they.”) And it was exciting! And it never got old. At least not to me.

In “The Witch of White Lady Hollow,” when last we met the intrepid and courageous (and short) Tabitha Moonshadow, she had just met <insert-name-of-future-husband-here>. And although we knew the two of them would or should end up together, that didn’t happen in that first book—we merely had the potential for love and romance. All we had was a handshake (literally) and a spark. And a mutual penchant for watching old, scary movies.

In writing the sequel, I could have picked up the story right there and have related all the details of the courtship and the wedding—not too many details about the wedding, since it takes place in a temple, but I digress—but I didn’t tell that part of the tale. I skipped all that. (Oh, the horror! <sounds-of-fanning-myself> I think I may faint. Quick! The smelling salts!) No, I jumped ahead in their lives—to when they were starving married students with a baby at BYU. I mean, so many of us can relate to similar scenarios, right? It wasn’t that the courtship and the wedding weren’t important—they absolutely were. Courtship is exciting and it’s new, and the wedding is (or should be) glorious and beautiful and sacred. But courtship must not end at marriage. Courtship is a grand, life-long adventure.

But sometimes, the grand adventure is mired in the mundane and in the everyday problems of life. Tabitha and <insert-name-of-future-husband-here> have classes, homework, low-paying jobs, a barely running, high-mileage car, bills, nearly empty cupboards, dishes to wash, floors to sweep, laundry to do, and a baby to feed and clean and nurture. (“Whatever you do, don’t you dare wake the baby!”) Romance can get lost in all of that. All too frequently, it does.

So, I wanted to tell a story about two people who have to deal with all of that crap (literally—remember, there are dirty diapers to change) and somehow still find time for romance and love and rejoicing in what brought them together in the first place. In short, I wanted to tell a story of passionate, tender, married romance . . . with the Power and a supernatural serial-killer thrown into the mix.

I mean, we can all relate to that, right?

Okay, this is seriously spooky.
Windows just popped up a reminder for me to do something. This is NOT a task or reminder that I set up. No, this is a task that Windows created for me.
The reminder quoted something from an email I sent. Windows/Microsoft had read my email, analyzed it, and determined that I needed to follow up on what I said I would do.
And today it reminded me.
Windows/Microsoft is reading my email.
You can pretend all you want that this is benevolent, but it’s not. It’s spying. It’s an invasion of privacy.
But of course, Microsoft knows better. They only have my best interests at heart.
This is more than spooky. It’s evil.
Check the date. Regardless of what the calendar says, it’s 1984.
All hail Big Brother.

My friend Earle and I disagree. A lot. And that’s okay. But more about that later. First let me tell you about Earle.

I have a pair of very good friends—Valerie and Earle Gardner. Valerie is a talented author of medieval fantasy. (Check out her “Blood of Ancient Kings,” “Dracona’s Rebirth,” and “Servant Queen,” written under the moniker, V.J.O. Gardener.) Earle is not an author. He is simply a great guy. He is clever, inventive, intelligent, and above all, friendly. He is the kind of guy who will help anyone at any time. Valerie, Earle, and I have been friends for years. We’ve spent countless hours together at Renaissance faires, writers’ conferences, and other events—anywhere we can sell our books.

When I do my medieval weapons shows/presentations/workshops, Earle and Valerie pack up my arsenal (often with the help of their adult son, Thomas), transport it to the event, and set up the tent/pavilion and the display. They man the arsenal, keeping everyone safe and making sure no one walks off with one of my lovely, lethal treasures. They carefully monitor the weapons as they are passed around among the patrons during the show/class. They carefully wipe off every single weapon—more than eighty pieces and growing (who knew swords, spears, and axes—oh my!—proliferated like that?)—to get all the fingerprints off the high-carbon steel so the swords won’t rust. After each class, they help me answer questions, help keep everyone safe (and above all protect my weapons), and basically make sure everyone has a wonderful, enlightening time. At the end of each day, they pack up the weapons, pavilion, etc., and transport it all home (or store it safely away for the next day). After the event, they transport the entire arsenal back to my home and help haul it back up to my office (a.k.a. “The Armory”).

I have had two major surgeries in the past two years—I’ve had my Achilles tendon repaired and a total knee replacement. For a couple of years before that, when I was in extreme pain and taking medications to control that pain (medications that made me very sick and didn’t do all that much to mitigate the pain), Earle and Valerie did ALL the work for the workshops—except for the teaching itself. Physically, it was all I could do to teach the classes. I couldn’t do any of the physical labor. When we loaded up from my office, my family and some of my neighbors would help haul things up and down the stairs, but the rest was all Earle and Valerie. (Thankfully, I am able to help out more and more now as I’m slowly regaining my strength.)

But there’s more.

Earle has invented and constructed clever and durable display stands for my various suits of armor, breastplates, helms, and spears. Valerie has sown coverings for the helmet stands and for my English longbow. Earle has engineered containers and strategies to safely transport the weapons. He is constantly thinking of ways to improve the displays and the process. The man is a genius!

Now, why would Earle and Valerie do all this? There is certainly some mutual self-interest involved. Valerie sells her books and I sell mine at these faires, conferences, and other events. Often, Valerie and Earle will do an event out of town that conflicts with my service in the Tabernacle Choir—so I can’t attend—but they take boxes of my books and sell them right along with Valerie’s. Sometimes, we sell a lot. Sometimes, we sell few. Sometimes, Valerie sells more than I do and visa-versa. But we are selling books. So, there is that aspect, to be sure. But Earle is there, pitching both Valerie’s books and mine to anybody who is interested. But that’s not all there is to it. Not by a long shot. There has even been one event where I was allowed to sell books (because I was invited to participate), but Valerie was not. And yet, they both came and did their thing anyway. I am constantly amazed and profoundly grateful. I cannot thank them enough.

So why? Why, especially on those occasions when there is little or nothing to gain, would Earle and Valerie do all this? Because they are just great people.

Now back to my opening statement.

Earle and I disagree about a LOT of things. A lot of IMPORTANT things that we are PASSIONATE about. We have strong, often, conflicting opinions. We’ve had discussions online and in-person about these important things. They have never devolved into arguments. Not once. We’ve never even exchanged an angry or a harsh word. Not once. And while we can find common ground many times, I don’t think either of us has ever converted the other to the opposing position on anything. We’ve exchanged ideas, opposing viewpoints, and left it at that.

And that’s okay. We can disagree about fundamental things and still be friends.

What a concept!

Earle has never once accused me of hating people who are different. He has never accused me of despising the Earth, clean air, clean water, or bunny rabbits. Earle has never called into question my character or my honesty. Not once.

Today, I texted Earle out of the blue: “Kirk, Picard, Janeway, Cisco, or Archer?”

His response was “What?” (I’m pretty sure he thought I might have been on some serious drugs. Or that Ferengi had stolen my phone.)

I replied, “Star Trek captain.”

His response? “Janeway.”

Seriously? Janeway?

Okay, so Earle is very clearly WRONG on this fundamental and important issue. The correct answer is obviously Kirk (or possibly Archer).

(Actually, John Sheridan is THE best, but I didn’t give Earle that option, now did I?) But, Janeway???? Janeway?????

<sigh>

Guess what? We are still friends.

“What do you want to happen?” That’s what my wife asked me Thursday afternoon. We were discussing a rather important plot point in my latest work-in-progress, “The Witch and the Devourer of Souls” (a sequel to “The Witch of White Lady Hollow” which is coming this December). A lot of things hang on which way this particular plot point goes. (And no, I DON’T have the book all plotted out—that doesn’t work for me.) I’d been stewing about this point for more than a day. So, Cindy and I were discussing it on the phone as I was driving into Salt Lake City for Tabernacle Choir rehearsal. (Yes, we discuss HORROR as I prepare for Choir. It works for me.)

I thought for a moment, but just a moment, and then I said, “That’s not the right question.”

“What’s the right question?”

“It’s not important what I want to happen. What’s important is what would happen. What would the characters really do? I mean, in real life?”

THAT is one of the reasons why I cannot plot out my novels—because if I force a character to do something that is, well, out-of-character, the story NEVER works. It isn’t honest.

So, Cindy and I discussed the plot point further, and in the process of talking things out with my favorite (and loveliest) sounding board, it came to me. I realized exactly what the character would do, whether or not it served my immediate story needs. And it worked. It actually made the story better.

Because I let the character be himself. Or herself.

Notice I didn’t say I let the character do the right thing. Not everything a character, even a protagonist, does is good and right. Human beings don’t always do the right thing. I don’t always do the right thing. I try, most of the time, to be a decent person, but I, like everyone else who has walked the earth (except for Jesus Christ), fall short. People have flaws. People has quirks. People are selfish and selfless. We are brave and cowardly. We are petty and noble. And all at the same time.

We are human.

The great adventure of being human is to strive to overcome our faults, to strive to better ourselves, to rise above the dirt and the filth. And even more important than bettering ourselves, we need to help lift our fellow travelers on the road to eternity.

But lifting is not forcing. I can’t force my characters to be good or to do the right thing. If I do that, the story doesn’t work. Ever. That would make me a bad writer and a dishonest storyteller.

And in real life, trying to force someone else to be good or to do the right thing is, well, Satanic. That was Lucifer’s plan. Forcing others to be good doesn’t make them good. And worse, it makes the one doing the forcing evil.

Heavenly Father’s plan is the opposite. He teaches us, He leads us, He may even chastise us along the way, but He lets us fail. He lets us fall. He lets us hurt ourselves and those around us. Because He will not force us to be good. But when we are ready to pull ourselves out of the muck, He sends His Son to help us, to cleanse us. But He will never force us to be something we are not. He will only help us to become who we want to be. He gives us situations, circumstances, trials, difficulties, and fellow-travelers that can help us to grow and to become. But He will never force us.

I want my characters to grow, to progress, to learn, to become better. But I can never force them to do that. It just doesn’t work.

“The Arawn Prophecy” is one of five finalists for the 2018 Whitney Award for Best Speculative Fiction!

Coming soon!

The Arawn Prophecy

Coming soon!

The Whole Armor of God

Silent Night

So humbled and blessed to have been a part of this.  Merry and sacred Christmas.

I love the game of Fizzbin.  I haven’t played since college, but…

What is Fizzbin, you ask?  Oh, you poor, uncultured, geek-challenged…  I’d wager (if I were a betting man) that you are deluded enough to think that Jean-Luc Picard was the greatest starship captain ever, which OBVIOUSLY is not the case.

Fizzbin is a glorious game played with a standard set of playing cards.  And the “standard” set of playing cards is ALL that is standard about Fizzbin.  You see, the rules of Fizzbin change constantly, depending on the day of the week or whether it’s day or night or just how gullible you are.

Fizzbin was brilliantly invented, on-the-fly, by Captain James Tiberius Kirk.  Here is one of the craziest and funniest scenes from Star Trek (yes, the ORIGINAL series):

When I was in a sophomore in high school, some brave and clever trekker compiled all the rules of Fizzbin, added a few more to make it more interesting and complete, and published them.  Once I educated my friends about the glories of Fizzbin, we would get together on some Friday nights and play.  (Yes, as a matter of fact, I DID go out on actual dates with real GIRLS.  You know, pretty humans of the feminine persuasion?  I was, after all, a geek—not a nerd.)  I don’t remember all the rules, but I DO remember that in the case of a tie, the winner was determined to be the first one who could pin his opponent to the floor…

Here’s a link to the rules as originally published in 1976:  http://nazarenespace.ning.com/profiles/blogs/just-for-fun-how-to-play-fizzbin-only-trekers-will-get-it

If Fizzbin sounds confusing, well obviously, it was meant to be.  After all, it was invented by the greatest starship captain to confuse those who held Kirk, Mr. Spock, and Dr. McCoy captive.  And it worked.  Fizzbin saved the day!

Imagine, though, if real life were like Fizzbin.  Imagine if the rules constantly changed, sometimes without our knowledge, and what was right was suddenly wrong…

The ancient Greeks and Romans (and the Norse, as well) believed in gods that were, well, mercurial.  The gods changed their minds.  A lot.  And mere mortals were constantly tossed about by their divine whims.  One could anger the gods without knowing it.  One might anger one god even while gaining the favor of another.  What a way to live!  But then again, the gods were jealous and petty and FLAWED.  In other words, they were modelled after mortal patterns of behavior.  The GODS reflected US.

But the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob does not change.  The great Jehovah does not vary from His eternal course.  He turns not to the right hand nor to the left.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Some practices may change (e.g., going from a three-hour meeting block to a two-hour meeting block on Sundays or changing from home and visiting teaching to ministering or being forbidden to eat pork and shrimp), but eternal truths do not change.

I recently read about a group of “faith leaders” blessing an abortion clinic, saying that the murder of the most defenseless among us is a “godly act.”

Oh, my.

How could we have possibly convinced ourselves that evil is now good and good is now evil?  Because we think we’re smarter than God?  We imagine up unto ourselves a god who changes with the times.  Modern churches seem to morph and twist themselves to suit the prevailing wisdom of man.  “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:9)  Things that were unconscionable not so long ago are now celebrated and called “godly.”

Sometimes we listen to General Conference and hear the voice of the Lord as spoken through living prophets and apostles… and we are offended.  Why?  Because we have become invested in something we know is wrong.  Because we think our circumstances or that of someone we love must justify our standing in opposition to what the Lord has said time and time again, has been saying for millennia.  We seem to expect that the Lord will someday “figure it out,” that someday the Lord will see things OUR way.  Because we are now more enlightened than the exalted Being who sees the end from the beginning?

I’m currently reading the Book of Job in my personal scripture study.  Job does NOT understand why he has been afflicted.  His friends think it is because Job has sinned.  We have all sinned, yes, but Job maintains his integrity and asserts that he has lived a godly life.  At the end of the book, the Lord rebukes Job’s friends, but the Lord also rebukes JOB.  The eternal Jehovah tells Job that He knows and sees all.  He sees what Job does not and cannot.  And how does Job respond to this rebuke?  Job humbles himself before the Lord.  Job REPENTS.  He submits to the Lord’s will.  Because the Lord is perfect.  The Lord does not change.  He is omniscient.  And after Job humbly submits to the Lord’s will, the Lord blesses Job doubly.

God does not change with the times.  Jesus Christ is smarter than I am.  He knows all.  And I take great comfort in that.

Because, after all, as much fun as a game of Fizzbin can be, I don’t want to live my life that way.

When the author offered an ARC to review his new book, I was curious. Having not read his previous novels, I was intrigued by the premise of combining the genres of Christian fiction, LDS fiction, and horror. I wasn’t disappointed.

The story is well crafted and researched. I loved learning about the lives of the Roman legionnaires as I met Marcus. The trials of being a former princess, now defeated as a slave, as I met Maelona. The conflicting emotions of loving a human, but being compelled to kill those who do evil, when I met Branwen. I say met, because that is what it felt like. The characters are easily pictured, well written, and easy to connect with.

The word “Prophecy”, as written in the title, plays a major part in the story. Marcus has the Gift of Prophecy, and each chapter begins with one quoted. I enjoyed the challenge of first trying to determine the meaning, and then discovering it as the chapter played out.

Don’t let the idea that this is part of a series, or the horror genre, turn you away. There is enough back-story given to catch you up with the extra characters, and Mr. Belt does a wonderful job of letting your imagination fill in the details that constitute the horror. This story is easily read as a stand-alone novel. Bravo, Mr. Belt!

Cydnie Dial
South Jordan, UT

I once had the privilege of meeting James Doohan (“Scotty” from the original Star Trek television series). He was a genuinely nice guy and very gracious to me personally. However, when I first met him, I noticed immediately that he was missing the middle finger of his right hand. Of course, I didn’t ask him how he lost it. I was fifteen at the time, and I thought it might be rude.

I immediately sought out a mutual friend who told me that Mr. Doohan had landed at Juno Beach with a Royal Canadian Artillery Unit on D-day. It was his first combat experience. Let me say that again—D-day was his first combat experience. James Doohan was a bona fide WWII hero.

Being a young, rabid trekker—I was never a trekkie, and yes, there’s a difference—I had seen all of the original Star Trek episodes, most of them many times. This was in the unimaginably distant past when we didn’t have DVDs or VCRs. I had to run home from school to be able to catch the show in local syndication. And from that day forward, I watched every episode, paying special attention to Scotty, looking for that missing finger. Although extra care was taken not to show his right hand directly, there were times when it was unavoidable. I was astonished to find that, while I had never noticed the absence of a finger before, once I had “eyes to see,” it was easy to see it—or rather to not see it.

Mr. Doohan personally inspired many, many people to pursue engineering and astronautics. He was awarded an honorary degree in engineering from the Milwaukee School of Engineering where half the students polled said that “Scotty” had inspired them to study the discipline.

But it was Mr. Doohan’s passion for Shakespeare that inspired me. Mr. Doohan told me that his greatest ambition was to play King Lear. As far as I can determine, he never achieved that goal. And that is a shame, because he was a great actor. He would have made a great King Lear. Perhaps he is playing Lear for the angels now.

After meeting Mr. Doohan, I took a special interest in the story of King Lear. I read the play a number of times. I was most fascinated by the story of Edgar, Edmund, and Gloucester. Here was a tale of love, loyalty, and betrayal, of hatred and madness, of violence and horror, and of honor, sacrifice, and friendship in the unlikeliest of places. King Lear is Shakespeare at his tragic best.

Time’s Plague, while inspired by King Lear, is not a retelling of Shakespeare’s play. I have borrowed character names and themes—Shakespeare himself borrowed and adapted stories from other sources—but I have not attempted to repaint the Bard’s masterpiece with a sci-fi brush, except perhaps in the very broadest of strokes.

At its heart, the central theme of King Lear and Time’s Plague is blindness, both physical and spiritual. Lear cannot see Regan and Goneril for what they are. He cannot see Cordelia’s love. Gloucester cannot see Edmund’s perfidy or Edgar’s nobility and loyalty. And this spiritual blindness costs him his eyes.

Which brings me back to Mr. Doohan. After Star Trek, he had a hard time getting work. Nobody could see past “Scotty.” And I, for one, believe that this cost the world a truly great King Lear.

C. David Belt
August 7th, 2018
unwillingchild@hotmail.com

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