Category Archives: Writing

Study Guide for COVENTRY 2091. Part 2. Chapters 1-3

Facilitators Notes for Part 2

In our discussion, we covered Parts 1 and 2 in a single session. There was more than enough discussion to fill two hours (our planned discussion time).

One of the questions that came up during the discussion: “Was the protest that led to the founding of the Coventry Penal Colony motivated or inspired by the Freedom Convoy that took place in Canada in January and February 2022?”.

The simple answer:  The chronology of the writing of Coventry 2091 makes that connection impossible.

  • Coventry 2091 was published in June 2021, a full 6-7 months before anyone, including me, even heard of the Freedom Convoy.
  • The events in Coventry 2091, thought to occur in 2049-2051 were imagined before my previous book, The Dragons of Sheol was published in June 2019.
  • This connection is simply one of those coincidental things that happen as one does one’s best to imagine the future.

The Opening Chapters of Coventry 2091

My hope about our discussion

When paddling your kayak in a channel in a strong wind, it’s not enough to point the boat’s bow toward your destination, since the wind will blow you off course. You have to take the wind into account by paddling against it just enough to reach your goal. The assumptions made about the future in this book and others in this genre are like the wind blowing us off course (unless the wind comes directly from astern—unlikely). Let’s focus on how we change our paddling rather than thinking about changing the direction of the wind.

What is the Coventry 2091 “What if?” Question?

Most Science Fiction, particularly if it’s extrapolated from the present, begins with a “What If …” question. So does Coventry 2091.

What if, in 2051 in Canada, a politically unpalatable, peaceful protest occurred that was so extensive and enduring that the government had to take extraordinary measures?

The Coventry 2091 story is set some forty years later.

Are there any other “What if” questions embedded in the extrapolation from your reading of Speculative Fiction as well as Coventry 2091?

Chapters 1-3

When writing fiction, it’s important to make the fictional invention plausible enough that the reader isn’t constantly saying “no way!” or “I can’t believe that would happen!”

How plausible do you find the back story leading up to the founding of Coventry Penal Colony and its operation? Do you think it could happen in Canada? Why or Why not?

What do you find least plausible in the back story resulting in the non-violent protests in 2050 and the founding of the Coventry Penal Colony? Why?

At the end of Chapter 3 (pages 18 and 19), Jacob, Hanna, and Zeke talk about the difference in teaching between their brief experience at Coventry and their public education.

How do you see our public education (at all levels) changing and if you were to look into your crystal ball? How will these changes affect future generations of students? How will these educational changes affect Christian students in particular?

How do we change our paddling, as it were, if we:

  • Saw changes in our educational system that we found very disturbing and deleterious?
  • Concluded that our children or grandchildren were no longer adequately prepared for life through their education?
  • That the educational system increasingly becomes more antagonistic to Christianity?

Study Guide for COVENTRY 2091. Part 1. Introduction to Speculative Fiction

Introduction to the Coventry 2091 Discussion Question Series

I was privileged to be invited to facilitate a discussion group on my most recent novel, Coventry 2091. I thought there might be readers who could benefit from the time I invested in crafting questions for the discussion. I hope this proves to be of value.

The group I facilitated was interested in discussing the implications of the world view that under-girds much of the world-building and character development. Many of the questions were designed to encourage that particular type of discussion by the group members. I was not always sure how active and far reaching the discussion would be. In practice, I covered two parts in each session. If the discussion in Part 1 by your group requires more time, it’s easy to end after one part and reserve the second part for the following session.

Introduction to Speculative Fiction

Speculative fiction is a general term encompassing both Science Fiction (itself a broad term) and Fantasy. The easiest way to understand them is to look at some concrete examples:

  • DUNE by Frank Herbert is Science Fiction
    • Has anyone read it or seen the movie?
    • Any characteristics of SF you can identify?
  • THE LORD OF THE RINGS by J.R.R. Tolkien is Fantasy
    • Has anyone read it or seen the movie?
    • Any characteristics of Fantasy you can identify?
  • HARRY POTTER by J. K. Rowling is a subcategory of Fantasy that some call Urban Fantasy.
  • OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon is a Time Travel novel, but also a Romance and Historical novel.
  • Dystopian novels such as 1984, BRAVE NEW WORLD, and A HANDMAID’S TALE are Speculative Fiction because they are set in the future (future at the time of writing).
  • Are there any other books you have enjoyed, that, on reflection, might be Speculative Fiction?
  • Given the examples we discussed, any thoughts on a comprehensive definition of Speculative Fiction?

So, you might be reading Speculative Fiction without knowing it.

Why Do I Write Science Fiction/Fantasy?

There are a number of reasons:

  • There are books I would have liked to read, but no one has bothered to write them yet. So, I had to write them.
  • Most SF books are based are based on a Materialist world view. When I read them I don’t truly feel “at home” in them, and often wish there were books more in line with what I believe.
  • I read a lot of SF in high school and university and these books helped kindle my love of science. I would like to connect with that age group of readers, who normally don’t care what an old guy thinks, but might read a story by an old guy if it were well-written enough.
  • Did anyone else read Science Fiction and/or Fantasy in high school and university? What made you stop (if you did)?

If you were to write a novel, what would you write about?

The Dystopian Political System in THE HALCYON DISLOCATION

When I was planning the plot for The Halcyon Dislocation, an essential element was the development of a dystopian political system for the isolated, dislocated University of Halcyon. In particular, the political system, to the outside observer, would look like a functioning democracy with regular, honest elections, opposition parties, and even new grassroots parties that objected to the status quo.

However, the system is rigged so that these fledgling opposition parties almost never rise to power since it takes a very long time to gain a following, and even if they do, they will find the new party membership and the incessant government propaganda has turned them into another version of the older parties that they were supposed to supplant. Hence nothing has changed except possibly the ruling party’s name.

The reader might ask, “Why do we need such a new, elaborate political system. Man’s history is replete with tyrannical regimes which used propaganda and force to beat down opposition, often for long periods of time?”

I would answer that those systems all have several fatal flaws which this modified dystopian quasi-democracy circumvents.

First of all, using power overtly to suppress dissent means the dissent goes underground and the government receives outward compliance until the opposition gains sufficient momentum that people begin to believe a regime change is possible. Then allegiances change very quickly.

Secondly, suppressed citizens are smart enough to see what is going on and they will not be fooled even if the penalties force them to comply outwardly. They are essentially slaves in their own country and will serve and work halfheartedly at best. It will lead to a general malaise.

The Aberhardt Principle

A key element of the Halcyon quasi-democracy is the Aberhardt Principle, named after the professor on staff who wrote about it. In this approach for making societal change, one sets up a system where everyone is encouraged to speak their mind so the sociologists can measure how effective the advertising, propaganda, education, and entertainment activities have been in changing people’s minds about key issues. The focus is on changing people’s minds against their will by repetition, multiple lines of influence, and long exposure to the multi-media message. The rate of time-dependent change of people’s minds determine how quickly the agenda-setters in the Halcyon quasi-democracy can implement their social changes.

So, even though grassroots opposition parties form, by the time they get to power (if they ever do), they will find not only has their new party changed their outlook, but sufficient time has elapsed that the electorate now fully endorses the new sociological innovations that the old grassroots membership opposed.

Concluding Comments

This is not a political blog and I draw no inferences to past, present, or future systems which might resemble this Halcyon University dystopia. I merely point out, through this imaginative exercise in plot development, that it is possible to develop a political system that has honest, regular elections, allows citizens to share their political views with some freedom, and yet is totally tyrannical and constrained even though the programmed social innovation happens on a multi-year timescale to allow for Aberhardt-style attitude adjustment.

If you have a CALGARY PUBLIC LIBRARY card, you can check out Peter’s books for free …

Inspiring Writing Locales: The Hawaiian Island of Maui

Maui from the air. Used by permission of Jen Kazmaier.
Google Maps. “Maui`

Writing is a solitary vocation. Where one writes can make up for much of the solitude and certainly enhances the writing experience, particularly if the locale has some role to play in the story. One such inspiring locale is Maui. I’ll let the images, for the most part, speak for themselves. Here are a few topics that make Maui special.

The Haleakala Dormant Volcano

Like the other Hawaiian islands, Maui is volcanic in origin and the landscape is dominated by two dormant volcanoes. The larger, on the east side of the island, is called Haleakala. This mountain, at least from the west slope, has none of the precipices and rock faces that I came to expect from hiking in the Rocky Mountains, but rather slopes up relatively gently from the east coast of the island to the summit. Indeed from our balcony (lanai) on a clear day we could see the observatory and the Red Hill Lookout at 10,023 feet.

Hikes around the Haleakala Crater.

Taking the hike to the edge of the crater is an awe-inspiring endeavor and gives one a sense of the size of this volcano. Numerous hiking trails allow for the exploration of this massive formation.

A view of the Haleakala crater from the rim.

On many mornings, before sunrise, the summit can readily be seen from the foot of the mountain, but as dawn breaks it frequently becomes cloud covered.

Summit of Haleakala. Used by permission of Phil Kazmaier.

The Hana Highway and the Tropical Part of the Island

Haleakala has an enormous influence on weather patterns on Maui. South and west of the mountain, the land is quite arid with many dried-up water courses. In contrast on the other side, there is a great deal of rainfall, with many creeks that can flood rapidly after a heavy downpour. The abundant moisture provides a tropical rain forest setting.

A Rainbow Eucalyptus

Maui Coral Reef

There are many coral reefs close to shore on Maui and it is relatively easy to find good snorkeling close to accessible beaches. Here are a few images that we were able to capture using a rented underwater camera.

Slate pencil urchin
Likely a Butterfly Fish
Likely a Needlefish
My best guess: a school of Black Durgon Triggerfish (although I don’t see the extra “trigger” fin).

Closing Remarks

Maui beach lava rock which reminded me of Edvard Munch’s THE SCREAM.

Whether you’re writing an adventure situated on a tropical island, or like me, re-reading Jules Verne’s MYSTERIOUS ISLAND with its dormant volcano, Maui is an inspirational locale for writers and readers alike.

If you have a CALGARY PUBLIC LIBRARY card, you can check out Peter’s books for free …

Time for a New Magnetic Sign for My Vehicles

Since I have just finished my fifth book, it seemed time to update my rather modest advertising. Having a sign on my van is one inexpensive way to draw attention to my writing. The last sign I had on my vehicle only featured my first three books. So this time I wanted to focus particularly on The Dragons of Sheol and Coventry 2091.

My books are listed on many of the major online bookstores: Word Alive Press-Anchor, Walmart, Indigo, Barns and Noble, and, of course, Amazon (it will hopefully appear on Apple soon, but they seem to take longer than anyone else to list). If you’d rather not search the site for my name, you will find links at … https://wolfsburgimprints.com/buy-books/

Coventry 2091 Trade Paperback Arrived: Updating My Author’s Bio

I’ve reached a milestone with the publication of my fifth book, Coventry 2091. It’s time for me to revise my author’s bio. Here is a preview of the changes.

Long before I became a fiction author, I was an avid reader. Books in general and novels in particular influenced me greatly. J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings , C. S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of the Narnia , and Stephen R. Lawhead’s trilogy, Song of Albion are among my favorite and best-loved novels.

I also very much enjoy classic science fiction classics such as Robert Heinlein’s Tunnel in the Sky.

The stories I most enjoyed were not only entertaining, but they taught me something about all that is good and excellent in ourselves and the world around us. They inspired hope without glossing over the fact of evil

I began writing The Halcyon Dislocation in response to a challenge of sorts. I was meeting with friends in our small book club when I began musing about how much I would like to write a novel. One of my friends, an accomplished author in her own right, looked me in the eye and said, “Why don’t you do it then?” After many conferences and contacts with other authors, my first book was published.

I am now the author of five books. As a futuristic novelist, I started my writing journey by creating a complex, parallel world in The Halcyon Dislocation. And so I began my speculative fiction series, The Halcyon Cycle. My second novel, The Battle for Halcyon, describes the fate of the displaced University of Halcyon as it seeks to return to its own space-time. The third in this series, The Dragons of Sheol, published in 2019, takes the reader to Abaddon, a continent ringed by mountains with the main land mass six kilometres below sea level. 

In 2021 I have published the first book in a new series, The Coventry Chronicles, called Coventry 2091. These stories, naturally enough, make some assumptions about what life will be like seventy years from now. Although, I foresee some troubling and deeply unsettling changes ahead, I am at heart an optimist and believe that whatever evil we may face, it cannot forever triumph over good. As a reader you might be surprised at how that manifests itself in the story.

In writing these stories I have been able to pursue a life-long dream of writing fast-paced novels that explore the intersection between adventure, science, faith and philosophy.

My book, The Battle for Halcyon, won a 2016 Word Award in the Speculative Fiction category. Previously The Halcyon Dislocation was short-listed as a finalist in The Canadian Christian Writing Awards – Futuristic Fiction Category. I am grateful for the recognition I received as relatively new and unknown author.

I am currently working on the  first draft of Coventry Peril. This story follows the travails of the Coventry Penal Colony and their hope for freedom and a place of safety.

The print sample of COVENTRY 2091 has arrived!

I am so excited to receive my sample print copy for COVENTRY 2091, my fifth book. It begins in Canada in the year (you guessed it!) 2091, but as you can tell by the cover, it doesn’t end there.

After inspecting the copy and approving the final print run, I expect the book will be available in mid-June. Thanks everyone for your support and encouragement!

A Review of Andrew Seddon’s IRON SCEPTER

The year is 2495 A.D. when the Earth-based Hegemony is expanding its influence across the galaxy to integrate independent worlds settled during an earlier expansion phase. Major Karel Novacek is the ranking officer of the Hegemony’s Political and Ideological Bureau assigned to Lenore, a cold world of about 65,000 inhabitants that is slated for integration into the Hegemony. Novacek faces the difficulty that the inhabitants of Lenore don’t want to integrate. After the Hegemony navy easily destroys the defending Lenore fleet, Novacek has to quell an underground resistance movement. The first contact with an alien space-traveling species further complicates his Lenore mission, but also draws him into a much bigger political gambit.

The fast moving plot, the surprises, and the battle that Novacek fights within himself as he carries out the ruthless dictates of the Bureau, make this the best science fiction book I have read in a long time. Not only is the plot exciting, but many times I found myself thinking about the weighty questions facing Novacek as he agonizes over the conflicting dictates that arise from obedience and loyalty to the Bureau and doing what is right. I’m looking forward to reading two of Seddon’s other books, Farhope and Wreaths of Empire, in the near future.

My rating … 5 out of 5 stars

The POGG Blog

I started writing Coventry 2091 in 2018, just when my last book, The Dragons of Sheol was in the final stages of editing. Since I was starting a new series I began by asking a number of “What if” questions to help flesh out the plot.

What if, in the year 2051, a sustained, peaceful protest took place in Canada that threatened the plans of our Federal Government and alarmed many urban voters? How might the government react? Answering these questions led to the story that became Coventry 2091.

As the plot developed, I realized that our legal system could not efficiently process and jail thirty thousand peaceful but determined protesters, so I imagined a extra-judiciary tribunal which I called the Peace, Order, and Good Government Tribunal which quietly and efficiently sent thirty thousand to a Canadian Penal Colony.

Imagine my surprise when I read the front page news last week in the National Post and in particular Colby Cosh’s article on a ruling in Ottawa’s favor on Carbon Taxes citing “Peace, Order, and Good Government” (POGG) from the British North America Act justifying this huge transfer of control over resources from the provinces to the Canadian Federal Government.

Peace, Order and Good Government (POGG)

From the point of view of my novel’s story, I suppose this precedent which essentially is a Carte Blanche for enabling the Canadian Federal Government to override any explicit provisions of the British North America Act, with Canadian Supreme Court approval, makes my imaginative story line more plausible and in some senses disturbingly prophetic. The government, particularly if supported by a majority of a sympathetic electorate, could override any protections we currently enjoy by using the POGG card.

I’ve only had one other time when one of my story lines seemed disturbingly prophetic in this way. Check out a previous post in the link below.

https://peterkazmaier.wordpress.com/2018/02/13/the-uncanny-life-of-a-science-fiction-author-seeing-yesterdays-imaginations-in-todays-news/(opens in a new tab)

Twenty Reasons for Becoming an Indie Author

What is an Indie Author?

For the purpose of this discussion an independent author (Indie Author) is an author who retains ownership and control of their created work. He may provide a limited licence to a publisher or distributor, but ultimate control of the work remains with the originator. In contrast I use the term “traditional publisher,” as a publisher who acquires exclusive rights to a work before publication. Note: these terms are for discussion purposes only and in no way is this discussion to be taken as legal advice.

Twenty Reasons for Becoming an Indie Author

  • Reason number 1 for becoming an Indie author: it gives you the freedom to share your imagination with a worldwide audience. 
  • Reason number 2 for becoming an Indie author: it enables to spend your time writing your next book rather than dozens of query letters.
  • Reason number 3 for becoming an Indie author: you can share your story directly with the people who matter most—your readers.
  • Reason number 4 for becoming an Indie author: when your first book comes out and readers begin buying it—YOU ARE AN AUTHOR.
  • Reason number 5 for becoming an Indie Author: you may be the one to invent the new genre that readers have been longing for.
  • Reason number 6 for becoming an Indie Author: it enables you keep the freedom to write what you believe, in the way you believe it should be written.
  • Reason number 7 for becoming an Indie Author: BIG BROTHER abhors voices that can’t be controlled.
  • Reason number 8 for becoming an Indie Author: internet sales are easy to scale. If your book goes viral there is no limit to how many books you can sell.
  • Reason number 9 for becoming an Indie Author: you decide when you want to follow the dictates of Political Correctness.
  • Reason number 10 for becoming an Indie Author: with so many people on the internet, there ought to be 100,000 with tastes in stories similar to yours.
  • Reason number 11 for becoming an  Indie Author: with low overhead you can sell into niche markets that are unprofitable for large publishers.
  • Reason number 12 for becoming an Indie Author: you learn to value and cherish every reader of your book.
  • Reason number 13 for becoming an Indie Author: you are able to interact personally with many of your readers since your low overhead lets you thrive with fewer sales.
  • Reason number 14 for becoming an Indie Author: for introverts (like me), it’s easy to converse about books when people find out you’re an author.
  • Reason number 15 for becoming an Indie Author: researching your novel leads you to study many new subjects.
  • Reason number 16 for becoming an Indie Author: you finally write the book you always wanted to read, but no one else bothered to write.
  • Reason number 17 for becoming an Indie Author: every one you meet has a bit of knowledge about life and relationships that will make your novel more authentic.
  • Reason number 18 for becoming an Indie Author: your book need never go out of print. After all you own it.
  • Reason number 19 for becoming an Indie Author: take a step to overcome fear of failure and rejection. Put Theodore Roosevelt’s encouragement “to be in the arena” into practice. Silence your inner critic by writing and publishing your first book.
  • Reason number 20 for becoming an Indie Author: in these days of “cancel culture,” if you own your book, your publisher can’t be pressured into burying it.