(Current fiction & past quality fiction)
The significant publication of “The Man Who Loved Alien Landscapes” (Dog Star Books) by Albert Wendland is one of those events when something “different” happens in publishing that gladdens Examiner’s heart.
According to Publishers Weekly, the novel ruminates contemplatively like this: “In Wendland’s intricately plotted, character-driven debut, pulp exploration meets philosophical speculation, and a moralistic sensibility is fused with Philip K. Dick’s paranoid fantasies and Ray Bradbury’s awe of alien encounters. Mykol Ranglen, a writer and consultant on the planet Annulus, is drawn out of his solitary existence when his ex-lover Mileen disappears, and Henry, her fiancé, is found dead. Mykol fears that Mileen has discovered one of the Carrier-Locked Integrated Programs (Clips)—technology created by the alien Airfane and ostensibly intended to protect humanity from the malignant Moyocks. He races to rescue her and locate the Clip, fearing that the technology is not as benign as it seems. Annulus is a vividly described, futuristic world, complete with political tyranny and social inequality. Impending doom pervades ripping action scenes, the Lovecraftian theme* of ancient warring aliens lends cosmic menace and authenticity to a grandiose mystery, and Mykol’s transformation from distanced observer to active participant in a galactic conspiracy is deeply absorbing.” Copyright © Publishers Weekly. *For the uninitiated, Lovecraftian refers to Howard Phillips "H. P." Lovecraft (August 20, 1890–March 15, 1937), an American author posthumously regarded as one of the most significant 20th-century authors in his genre, horror fiction.
Seton Hill University, 2,500 students in Greensburg, PA honored Albert Wendland Ph.D. as “Professor of the Year” at its Spring Convocation May 16. Examiner figures there’s got to be something significant about a Ph.D. who writes Lovecraftian stories. As it turns out there is: In his talk to the students in his convocation chat, Dr. Wendland told the younger generation this about the novel:
“What I hope will impress the most is the deep emotional sense of longing—for the wonders of the universe and for life itself, for other individual selves when seen in the larger universal context. One can read this, on one level, as the main character’s longing for a person he can love so he does not have to feel alone any longer. And there is a specific woman in the story he does have desire for. But it’s more than “romance” or a need for a companion. It’s a longing for all of the universe itself, its mystery, its fascination, and its infinite promise.”
Examiner likes that thought a lot. We suggest writers seek out Albert Wendland who carries the academic title of Director, Master of Fine Arts in Writing Popular Fiction, Seton Hill University, a title held since 2008. (Don’t confuse Seton Hill with Seton Hall, 9,830 students.)
Examiner also likes the fact that Wendland’s smiling boyish face jumps off the Seton Hill website as possibly younger than his students. Read “The Man Who Loved Alien Landscapes” (Dog Star Books) by Albert Wendland with the same boyish enthusiasm, the same longing with which it was written, and you’ll experience what writing should be all about. Examiner gives the novel four stars for effort alone.
The other something “different” in this publishing event that gladdens Examiner’s heart is the publisher. Dog Star Books owned by Brian Frailey claims that it seeks to be part of a societal revitalization and operates its own bookstore as a gathering place for the neighborhood at 401 W Lemon St, Lancaster, PA. Examiner senses a revisionist revitalization that historically parallels City Lights in San Francisco (among others), echoing an earlier time; you can almost hear The Times They Are a-Changin', courtesy of Bob Dylan and Burl Ives.