Thursday, September 22, 2016

Once again, Distant Cousin scoops the news!

Once again, something in today's headlines was foreseen in the world of Ana Darcy's Distant Cousin chronicles. Ana admitted, in her 2005 debut in Distant Cousin Arrival, that she had had her genes slightly modified before she was born, and she went on to explain the main two differences that set her apart from most of her fellows. Today, in a story on NPR's Morning Edition (Swedish Scientist Seeks To Edit DNA Of Healthy Human Embryos) we learn that our own scientists, for better or worse (hopefully for better) are beginning to investigate that very possibility now. 

The Distant Cousin stories have anticipated developments in science and the news many times before--more than a dozen so far (examples). Readers disagree, however,  as to whether the stories are "science fiction" or not. There is no time travel, no hopping blithely from galaxy to galaxy, no worm holes to other dimensions, and the like.  Ana's world is our world, pretty much, our world today. 

But you shouldn't read the Distant Cousin stories merely to wonder about future advancements in science and technology. What you'll love is the  great characters, in colorful places and unexpected situations, situations that intrigue and stir your imagination. That is the reason Distant Cousin is being turned into a miniseries. It may take years to appear, but you don't have to wait. The pleasure is available right now!

There are many excerpts in Ana's blog:

Before it's a miniseries, it's a series!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Take a drive through Ana's pecan trees!

The extraterrestrial sweetheart, ranch wife, and star of the Distant Cousin stories, Ana Darcy, lives with her family near Mesilla, in southern New Mexico just south of Las Cruces (and about forty miles north of El Paso, Texas). A narrow width of highly productive farmland lies along the Rio Grande River, with harsh desert close on either side. The entire area can easily be seen from the air, in this post and below:

Several satellite photos of the same area may be seen here as well. The larger solid green areas, believe it or not, are vast orchards of pecan trees which yield over twenty-five million pounds of pecans a year.  

Of interest to readers, Ana's husband keeps his wife's space pod in a leased machinery building in the middle of one of these groves. They are fenced and patrolled and the family has never had a problem with intruders--not yet, anyway.

New Mexico Highway 28, the original paved road from Las Cruces to El Paso is seen in the photo above as a thin line running top to bottom. It is not the wider line, which is the bed of the river. 

A drive down Highway 28 can be beautifully hypnotic. Here is a small taste, made from a car traveling 55 mph. Try it! You will see a LOT of pecan trees!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Ana and son explain another cool math puzzle

Remember the card trick on YouTube, where the poster begged someone to explain how it worked? Ana and her son Julio figured it out and the explanation is here, in Ana's own handwriting.

Now they've done another one. She and her son loved a puzzle Will Shortz used on his regular feature on a recent Weekend Sunday, on NPR. It's simple (but not that easy). Here's the puzzle: 

Using only standard mathematical symbols (x, ., /, ÷,  etc.) make three nines (9, 9, and 9) equal 20. 

Ana was embarrassed that Julio figured it out before she did, but it might be because Julio grew up knowing Earth's standard mathematical notation system. Ana didn't. She came to it as an adult, when she arrived on the moon from Thomo. Thoman math uses different symbols. Our symbols are a second language to her, mathematically speaking. 

When you give up, you may find the answer, plus Julio's insightful understanding of this problem, here.

(The wildflowers--wine cups--are only a reminder of warmer weather.)

Other puzzles from our extraterrestrial Distant Cousin:

Friday, January 15, 2016

El Chapo or El Checo? Distant Cousin scoops the news again. Twice!

Fans of the Distant Cousin books already know the series has anticipated many recent and surprising events in the world today, in politics, medicine, athletics and more. (There are EIGHT examples here.) Now, in quick succession, there are two more.

In Distant Cousin: Santa Muerte, Earth's favorite extraterrestrial Ana Darcy Méndez and her daughter run into one El Checo, a notorious drug kingpin, in northern Mexico. Let's only say that their encounter turned out a little differently than the one that put the real El Chapo in the news five months after the book was published.

The second item is also from the news of the last few days: progress in the fight against river blindness, a nasty disease the World Health Organization calls a "neglected tropical disease." The lack of treatment was noted in Distant Cousin: Repatriation in 2006, chapter 32, in which Ana cannot understand why the people of Earth don't do more to fight it. Now, at last, they have. About time!

The Distant Cousin stories do NOT try to predict the future. Their genre has always been difficult to define. They take place on Earth in the present day with only humans (including Ana, the extraterrestrial), and the occasional cat or horse. They have been called character-driven western Chicano action/adventure romance sci-fi stories. Whatever they might be, they are also fun!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The problem with "real" books

The problem with "real" books is painfully obvious to any book lover:

E-books, as far as we know, weigh nothing and take up no space. Anyone who can make a case to the contrary is invited to comment.

Another huge advantage of e-books, at least in the case of the Distant Cousin stories, is that the price-to-entertainment ratio is super-attractive. Each one creates the type of mental movie that appeals to almost everyone. (Several could be double features.) Fast readers with time to spare could be lost for a week. Readers who are slower or have little spare time can look forward to weeks immersed in the unforgettable chronicles of Ana Darcy, the first alien to find her way back to Earth. 

The best thing is that all seven Kindle editions cost about what the first one costs in paperback, the approximate cost of one movie theater ticket, a drink, and popcorn.

As one person told us (with a smile), "You know I love to read escapist trash. Yours is as good as the best of it. It's better than most of it!"

Monday, September 7, 2015

Announcing Distant Cousin: Santa Muerte!

We are thrilled to announce the publication of the next story in the Distant Cousin chronicles:

Distant Cousin: Santa Muerte a budget price both in electronic and paper versions! Here's the publisher's info:

I highly recommend that any intellectually curious reader begin with the first book in the series. You will not be able to put it down. I also recommend a perusal of the Ana Darcy Blog to see the complete three-dimensional story that Al has created. Note that the story has been contracted to a movie agent, a fate it most certainly deserves. As All-American entertaining fiction, the Distant Cousin Series is hot stuff! Reading all the Distant Cousin books is like playing a movie in your head. This is the way we want life to be. This is the way we want Americans to respond to aliens if they ever arrive on Earth. Life should always be like this. Floyd M. Orr, POD Book Reviews & More. 

All families experience stress, but the Méndez family of Mesilla, New Mexico is a special case. Ana Méndez is the first alien to have reached Earth from another planet. She and her New Mexican husband and their eerily gifted young adult twins live peaceful secret lives in their home on the Rio Grande River--except for their increasing identity problems. What could be better stress relief than a family vacation to their husband's ancestral home in Chihuahua, Mexico, with good company, new sights, fancy food, and adventure? But after the local "Saint of Death" enters the scene, the delightful vacation suddenly takes a dangerous turn....

Reception by readers

Distant Cousin: Santa Muerte SAMPLE

“Unit 212.”
“212. Go ahead.”
Ken Stackhouse, senior sociology major at The University of Texas at El Paso, did his best to follow the terse exchange of information between Sergeant Molina and his dispatcher, but it was confusing. Police communications were not chatty.
 “You follow that, kid?” Molina asked.
“Maybe. They’re asking you to back up another unit somewhere, right?”
“Right: a fight at a sports bar just off North Mesa, about a mile from here.”
“Did one of those codes mean lights but no siren?”
“Right. And that means what?”
“I guess it means it’s over. They’re finishing up.”
“Yeah. Coupla injuries, not serious. EMTs are there.”
“I missed that part.”
“We’ll check around, make sure the area’s clear and then go inside.”
“Will they be expecting you?”
“Yeah. Did you hear someone say ‘240?’”
“Uh, I think so….”
“That’s unit 240 onsite, Amos and Russell, saying they’d heard we were backing them up.”
In four evenings patrolling with Sergeant Molina, Stackhouse had yet to see any real action, but that was fine with him. His major emphasis was community relations, not law enforcement. He didn’t need to learn the arcane professional lingo the officers used. Their relations with the public were more to the point.
The sergeant turned the cruiser onto a four-lane street where, several blocks ahead, the flashing lights of an ambulance and a police cruiser signaled their destination. Molina drove past slowly, checking both sides of the avenue, turned left, and repeated the process all the way around the block. Except for the emergency vehicles everything looked quiet. He pulled in alongside the other cruiser, notified the dispatcher, and unfastened his seatbelt.
“I’m going inside,” he said. “I suggest you stand by out here until I get back.”
“OK. Sure.”
He’d been riding awhile so he got out and stretched. Sporty’s Bar and Grill was in the middle of a block of mid-level businesses. Some were open (Subway, Walgreens), others closed. Perhaps fifty vehicles were parked nearby. A girl was leaning against a cement planter full of ornamental bushes to the left of the bar.  He walked over.
“Hi,” he said.
“Hi,” she replied.
“Whatcha doing?”
“Waiting for my brother.”
From her glance at him she clearly knew he wasn’t a police officer. He was in street clothes.
“I’m a college student,” he explained. “I’m riding with the police as an observer.”
She nodded but didn’t bother to answer his question. She was cute: petite, long light brown hair in a ponytail, tight jeans and a frilly green blouse with a splash of colorful Mexican embroidery down the front.
“Did you see any of what went on here earlier?” he said, tilting his head towards the sports bar.
“Uh-huh,” she nodded.
The doors of the bar opened. Two EMTs emerged pushing a gurney. The head of the man on the gurney was wrapped in a white bandage. Next came two walking wounded with white bandages on their hands that made them look like cartoon characters. A police officer brought up the rear. The officer watched them all load into the ambulance, which rolled away under flashing lights. Sergeant Molina and a third officer emerged and the three conferred briefly. Amos and Russell got in their cruiser and followed the ambulance.
“This young woman said she saw what happened,” he said to Molina.
The sergeant walked to her.
“Were you inside or outside, miss?” he asked.
“Inside,” she said. “They started arguing about soccer teams,” she said, “my date and his friend, and three other guys. They got angry, started pushing each other, and a fight broke out. I came out here and called my brother to come get me,” she said. “My date was an idiot. They were all idiots.”
 “Have you got some ID?” the sergeant asked.
She nodded.  She pulled a driver’s license out of her pocket and handed it to him. He studied it briefly.
“Happy birthday, Ms. Méndez,” he said. “Have you had anything to drink?”
“A licuado. Strawberry.”
“Nothing alcoholic? To celebrate your birthday?”
“No, sir. My date celebrated for both of us. The dummy.”
“Can you add any details to what you’ve told us?”
“I saw the third guy drive off in a yellow sports car. It might have been a Corvette; I don’t know much about sports cars. He had tattoos all around his neck. I heard him called ‘Feo.’”
“’Feo.’ So, was he ugly?”
“No. He wasn’t bad looking at all.”
“Irony. Figures. What sort of tattoos?”
“They were vertical lines or bars, kind of, and I guess it was a scorpion, below his right ear.”
Molina was jotting notes in a small notebook.
“Did you happen to notice the license number?”
“No, sir. I’m sorry. I didn’t. He was in a hurry.”
Molina studied the driver’s license again. He made another note.
“OK, Ms. Méndez. Here’s your ID and my cop card. If you think of anything else, please call us. We might get back in touch, all right?”
“Yes, sir. Of course.”
“When do you expect your brother? Soon?”
She looked at her watch.
“Ten minutes. I hope.”
“OK. We’re going to check inside again. If you’re still here when we come out, we can drop you somewhere or call you a cab if you need.”
“I’ll be fine. Thanks.”
Stackhouse followed Molina into the bar.
“Kid had manners,” Molina said.
“Yeah, but she was pissed,” Stackhouse added.
There were still customers in the bar, but not in the vicinity of the pool tables, where there were a tipped over table and chairs, spilled drinks, broken glasses, and two halves of a pool cue. A bus boy was pushing the wreckage into a pile with a broom.
The manager was behind the bar on the telephone, apparently with the bar owner. He hung up.
“Still don’t want to press charges?” Molina asked.
“Not worth the insurance hassle,” he said. “Something like this happens every month or so. Goddam soccer. It’s the worst.”
“Every month?” Stackhouse asked.
“More or less. Depends on what sport’s in playoffs. This bust-up was different, though. I told the other officers but they thought I was joking.”
“Joking about what?” asked Molina.
“The fight.”
“What about the fight?”
“It’s like this: soccer fanatics plus alcohol. A fight starts. We break it up. Sometimes we call you good folks. That’s the pattern. What isn’t the pattern is that a girl ends the fight.”
Molina perked up.
“What girl?”
“Young woman with the blond kid. One of the Hispanics coldcocked him and she tore into those guys big time.”
“Describe her,” Molina asked, his voice level.
“Little thing. Nice looking. Ponytail, jeans, green top. She blitzed the three of them in about fifteen seconds.”
Molina glanced at Stackhouse.
“Yeah? How?”
“I wish I knew. I was behind the bar. Soon as I saw them start pushing each other and cussing and the one guy throw a punch, I headed over to break it up. By the time I got there two of the guys had broken fingers on each hand and the third was limping out the door fast as he could. The blond kid was out cold.”
“The girl did that? Are you sure?”
“Well, yeah. I mean I didn’t see it blow for blow, but…hey, have you ever seen a cat go crazy, like on YouTube? I mean, they can go nuts sometimes, right? One tears into you and in five seconds you need twenty band aids. That was what she was like. Too fast to follow…but then you see the results. Know what I mean?”
“You believe that?” Stackhouse asked Molina as they left the bar. The girl was gone. Molina shrugged.
“I dunno. Maybe. The EMTs said each guy had broken fingers. The third perp would have limped away for only one reason: pain you know where. A drunk man wouldn’t have fought like that—too quick, too efficient. He would want to dominate his opponents, put them on the floor, lord it over them. Besides, did you notice that girl? Her blouse was pulled partway out of her jeans. Messy. Girls on dates want ‘em just right.”
“Man! Have you ever seen anything like that before?”
“Only in the movies.”