It’s summer, and the time for beach reading has arrived!

Photo credit MJ Wahl, taken at Bayfield ON, July 2023

And beach reading, of course, means mindless fluff and pulpy escapism. We go to the beach to relax, after all. Like most Canadians, once the good weather arrives, I want to soak in the beautiful warm summer as much as possible – because the winters are long and dark and the summers all-too short.

If you’re like me, I’m not interested in reading anything serious when I’m at the beach. As the author of pulpy sci-fi, however, I’d argue that it’s always a great time to read escapist fiction – not just at the beach.

Six reasons why pulpy escapism is important

Reading escapist fiction is a great way to relax and de-stress – which also means it can be an important form of self-care. So don’t underestimate the value of mindless escapism.

I’d like to offer this short list of five or six reasons why reading escapist fiction is good for us:

  1. A good sci-fi or fantasy novel will transport you into a different world. It allows you to take a break from real-world problems and the stresses of life, and immerse yourself in a different world.
  2. Related to the above, reading escapist fiction allows you to experience something new. A good book draws you in so that you feel like you’ve entered the world of that book, and are experiencing it. The first novel I ever read was about a caveman, set in prehistoric times when Neanderthals still roamed the world with the first early humans. I was about 10 years old, and I still remember the experience of how I felt like I was really living in that prehistoric world. It was the book that got me hooked on reading, and eventually writing, and I still can’t think of a better reason or reading fiction.
  3. It allows you to live vicariously through other characters, and helps you imagine yourself as someone else – such as the hero bravely fighting off nasty slime-covered aliens, or fire breathing dragons.
  4. If you’re going through some challenging personal times, reading escapist fiction can offer you an important break from difficult emotions like loneliness, anxiety or sadness. It allows you to temporarily escape from every-day life, and we all need that at times.
  5. After a long day, reading escapist fluff is a great way to unwind and get mentally and emotionally prepared for bed-time. In other words, it can help you get to sleep easier. I think I’m like most people, in that I can’t just be busy-busy with work or chores at night, then hop into bed. I need a wind-down period of an hour or two before I can go to bed feeling relaxed enough to sleep.
  6. It teaches you that evil aliens (or wicked dragons or any sort of evil enemy) can be defeated. I’m stealing a thought from C.S. Lewis here, who said that the point about fantasy isn’t that dragons are real, but that the dragons can be defeated. Escapist fiction teaches us about heroism, courage and perseverance, and that we can all be heroes to the people within our circles when we have the courage to do the right thing.

We can all be courageous heroes

Since it is so likely that (children) will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. Otherwise you are making their destiny not brighter but darker.” C.S. Lewis

I’ll leave you with that thought. Thanks for reading my blog today, and have a great rest of the summer!

Postscript: One last tidbit – some food for thought when it comes to summer vacation. There’s an interesting article in the Guardian about a company in the UK that’s taking the entire month of August off. Europeans have generally been much better about taking time off and balancing work with life. I think this is a great idea, and it’s time for North Americans to get on board with Europeans when it comes to work-life balance and taking more time off.

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A recipe for a perfect day!

C.S. Lewis once said that, “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”

With all due respect for C.S. Lewis, tea is for amateurs. Professionals like myself drink coffee. But the tea vs coffee controversy aside, I am in full agreement with Lewis’ general sentiment. What’s better than coffee and books?

What could be better than spending a rainy day with a good book and a cup of coffee?

It’s a cool and rainy day where I live, and I’ve been sitting on my couch giving a lot of thought to what makes for a good day. Being in the business of writing escapist fluff, I’m somewhat of an expert in the field and in my humble opinion I think it’s pretty simple really.

Happiness is a good book and a cup of great coffee. Click on this image to check out more great coffee quotes from BookGlow!

So here it is in 4 simple steps!

  1. Drink coffee. There’s scientific evidence that coffee will improve your mood and add years to your life.
  2. Bake cookies. Feeling down in the dumps? The news got you freaked out? Turn off the TV, brew some coffee and spend the afternoon baking cookies. Once Upon a Chef is one of my favorite cooking websites. Check out the great recipes on her website.
  3. Read a good book. Once you’ve pulled those delicious cookies out of the oven, brew a cup and find a good book. I prefer mindless fluff about aliens who smuggle coffee, but that’s just me. You may want to check out my latest novel, a biting, tongue-in-cheek satire on censorship and political correctness.
  4. Now settle down into your comfy couch with a book, a plate of cookies and a cup of coffee, and spend the rest of the day immersed in it.

That’s it. It doesn’t have to get complicated folks. One of the best things you can do if your feeling down is get up and do something positive. Spending an afternoon or evening baking cookies and reading a good book is a much better than obsessing over CNN or Fox News.

Go ahead, you can do it!


When real life mirrors apocalyptic sci-fi

I had a strange experience with life imitating art while writing Octavia Seven.

Octavia Seven is my time-travel romance about Octavia, an anthropologist from the 23rd century who travels back to our time. Her mission was to study life in our day before a killer virus wipes out humanity, leaving very few survivors. She was supposed to just conduct a few studies then return to her own time before the pandemic starts. But of course in fiction it can never be that simple, and she meets Jake, falls in love, and that’s when things start to get complicated for her. Jake can’t return with her, and she can’t stay with a killer virus on the way…

The real thing is never as much fun as fiction

I finished the first draft well before Covid-19, long before there was any hint of the real pandemic that was about to hit us in 2020.

I set the manuscript aside for a bit, fully intending on going through it a couple more times before sending it off to my proof-reader.

However, before I could finish the manuscript and get it to my proof-reader, Covid arrived and a real pandemic started sweeping the world. In those early days of covid, we had no idea how bad it may get, but as the bodies started piling up I lost all interest in my story, and I stopped working on it.

A bit too close to home

In my fictional story, I even had the virus starting in China. It was a bit too close to home, and I dropped the project, not knowing if I would ever finish it.

During those first few months of covid it felt like we were living in some kind of sci-fi plot, and I lost all interest in apocalyptic movies and fiction, because, well, it felt like we were really in one.

This is what it felt like in 2020

We got through it, and thankfully it didn’t turn out to be an apocalypse. Last year things started to get back to something more akin to normalcy, and over time I was able to gain some perspective on Octavia Seven.

I dusted off the story and got back to work on the manuscript. I really loved the characters and the story and felt like it was worth publishing, so I finished my re-writes and sent it off to my editor for proof-reading.

But I made some edits to the ending.

Who needs an apocalypse? They’re really not all that much fun…

I’m really not a fan of apocalyptic fiction any more. We have grandkids – I won’t tell you how many because the overall number is a bit ridiculous, but let’s just say we have several adorable grandkids who are still pretty little. Four of them are five and under. The thought of them picking through the ruins of a devastated Earth, scavenging to survive and hunting rats for their next meal, absolutely horrifies me. Only people who don’t have kids could possibly enjoy writing that kind of garbage.

So after living through Covid, I re-wrote the ending of Octavia Seven. It’s now a time-travel story about how love can change history for the better.

I’m a huge fan of happy endings. Who needs bad endings that leave you depressed? If I wanted to be depressed, I can read CNN for that.

You’ll likely need some cookies while reading your favorite fan-fiction. My favorite chef, Jenn Segal, has some fantastic cookie recipes. Check out her website here. Go and bake some before sitting down to read.

Have a great day!

Sourtoe Cocktail, a shot of whiskey garnished with a human toe

Last summer my son and I took an epic road trip through the North West Territories to the Arctic Ocean. Along the way we stopped at a hotel in the Yukon for a Sourtoe Cocktail.

The Sourtoe Cocktail is a time-honoured Canadian tradition dating back a hundred years in Dawson City, Yukon Territory. This cocktail has a very simple recipe – a shot of 40-proof whiskey and a human toe.

The tradition started in the early 1900’s when a bootlegger in the Yukon lost his toe to frostbite. His brother amputated it and dropped it into a glass of Canadian whiskey, and a tradition was born.

The Downtown Hotel, Yukon Territory. Home of the Sourtoe Cocktail. Photo credit Mike Manto

You can order this cocktail at the Sourdough Bar in The Downtown Hotel, on Second Avenue in Dawson City. My son and I stayed at the Downtown last summer while on a road trip to the Arctic Ocean, and having one of these cocktails was just something we had to do.

Ordering a Sourtoe Whiskey comes with a few rules

We went into the hotel’s bar, sat down at the counter and ordered a Sourtoe Cocktail. The cocktail is served up by the “Toe Captain” who pours you a shot of whiskey, and then holds the mummified toe in front of you while reciting the rules: you must not bite, chew or swallow the toe, but it must touch your lips. Then he repeats the time-honoured rhyme: “You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow, but your lips must touch the toe”, and drops it into your glass of whiskey.

The rest is all up to you.

The Toe Captain also has another very important job. He certifies that the toe did, indeed, touch your lips and watches carefully while you down your shot of whiskey to make sure it does. Once you’ve successfully completed the challenge and the Toe Captain is duly satisfied that the toe touched your lips, he presents you with a “Sourtoe Certificate” with your name, date and member number.

Joining the elite Sourtoe Cocktail Club

I’m now an elite member of the Sourtoe Cocktail Club. It’s okay to be jealous, dear reader. Many of my friends and family are. It’s an exclusive club and you have to travel all the way to the Yukon to earn it. It’s not something you can just do online over a Zoom call, and it’s way more interesting than one of those boring business skill certificates that corporate drones love to accumulate.

According to my certificate, I am the 98,411th person to drink it. My son, Zach, is the 98,412th. As the Dad, I felt it my fatherly duty to set a good example for my son and go first.

My official Sourtoe Club Certificate and claim to fame.

The human toe used in the cocktail needs to be replaced from time to time and several different ones have been used over the years. One toe was swallowed, others have been stolen. Sometimes toes need to be ‘retired’ when they get too worn out. The Downtown Hotel replenishes their stock from people donating their toes for the cause, usually amputated as a result of frostbite.

The mummified human toe used in the cocktail. Photo credit Jimmy Emerson.

The Toe Captain is always on the lookout for a “toe-nation” to maintain their stock and keep the tradition alive. And the toe doesn’t have to be Canadian. Foreign toes are welcome.

“Toe-donations” are welcome

Recently a British Marine lost his toe to frostbite while training in the Yukon, and he donated it to the Sourtoe Cocktail club.

Apparently there is no shortage of frostbitten toes available in the Yukon.

Looking west down the street from the Downtown Hotel.

Dawson City was at the heart of the Klondike Gold Rush in the late 1890’s, and is still very rustic with a distinct frontier feel. Many of the original buildings from the Gold Rush days are still there and unchanged.

2nd Avenue, Dawson City Yukon. Street view in front of the Downtown Hotel. Photo credit Mike Manto.

The frontier town in the heart of the Klondike

There are no paved roads, street lights or traffic lights. Even the main road through the downtown (shown above), is dirt. All the sidewalks are wood boards.

This is the traditional home of the mayor of Dawson City. Photo credit Mike Manto.

Dawson City is not only famous as the home of the Gold Rush and the Sourtoe Cocktail, it is also the entrance to the Dempster Hiway.

Road signs at the border crossing into the Northwest Territories. Photo credit yours truly.

The Dempster is an epic road trip hundreds of miles north that crosses the Arctic Circle and terminates at the fishing village of Tuktoyaktuk, NWT, on the coast of the Arctic Ocean.

But that will be the subject of a future blog.

This is us at the Arctic Ocean. I’m the good looking one on the right.

UFO Investigation Has Now Gone Mainstream!

A UFO captured on video by a US Navy pilot

Finally, UFO investigating is no longer the domain of fringe crazies and the tin foil hat brigade. It’s gone legit! Last year the Pentagon released its long anticipated UFO Report, and experts have been weighing in on it ever since.

Even NASA is getting in on the game. Last week NASA announced that they are kicking off their own study of UFOs, although they are now calling them Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, or UAPs. NASA can call them UAPs if they want to, but they aren’t fooling anyone. We still know what they are.

NASA’s Help Isn’t Needed

While I appreciate NASA’s intention to help us out, it really won’t be necessary. Since I’ve been writing on the subject for years, long before NASA came to the party, I’ve come to consider myself an expert in the field. And I’ve already figured out what these UFOs or UAPs or whatever you want to call them are. As I’ve blogged previously, it’s a proven fact that UFOs are aliens looking for coffee.

Thanks NASA, but we won’t be needing your help after all. It’s already sorted.

However, not all experts in the field of UFO investigation are agreed, and this is where you, dear reader, can help. My colleague and follow UFO expert, Gluplock, is also a regular blogger on this website. Gluplock argues that UFOs are not actually visitors from space, but some type of advanced technology from Earth. Likely Chinese drones or advanced top-secret American aircraft, according to Gluplock.

Has NASA joined the tin foil hat brigade?

As my fans know, (and all rational people will admit), UFO skeptics like Gluplock can’t be right. The UFOs must be alien in origin.

Chinese drones? I doubt it!

Gluplock disagrees. He doesn’t believe in aliens (or so he claims) and is convinced the UFOs are just Chinese drones or advanced US tech the Pentagon doesn’t want us to know about.

You can take the Russians out of the equation. They can’t launch an invasion of Ukraine without their equipment breaking down on the highway to Kiev, so I doubt they’re capable of any advanced tech. So it’s down to either the Chinese, Americans or aliens.

I money’s on aliens. Gluplock argues it’s the Chinese.

As you may well imagine, this has stirred up quite the debate among the bloggers, staff writers and owners at my publishing house, Franklin Street Press. And this is where readers of this blog can help. We’d like you to weigh in on this important debate and send us your thoughts. Are UFOs alien visitors, or advanced technology from Earth? Let us know what you think!

Are my colleagues secretly suppling aliens with coffee?

Personally, I think Gluplock is just trying to throw us off. I’ve long suspected that he has ulterior motives. Maybe it’s his name – I seem to recall it from somewhere but can’t quite place where. Interestingly, he owns a farm out in the country with several large barns. Jut this past summer Gluplock invited a bunch of us from Franklin Street Press over for a barbeque one Sunday afternoon. While Gluplock was occupied with flipping burgers on the grill, I took a beer in hand and went exploring. I wandered into one of the barns and found it stacked, floor to roof, wall to wall, with skids of coffee.

That’s a lot of coffee. You could keep an entire Caribbean island caffeinated for the tourist season with that much coffee.

Alien Shoppers

Aliens have been spotted at the local market looking for coffee.


Naturally, I confronted Gluplock with my discovery back at the patio, while everyone stood around us next to the grill. He feigned innocence, and claimed that he just really likes coffee and wanted to hedge against future price increases. But I have my suspicions. Curiously, I also noticed that no one else looked surprised. Several even quickly looked away, pretending to be suddenly interested in something else, or muttered under their breath that they needed another beer and went over to the cooler.

I’m going to be keeping a closer eye on all of them from now on.

The truth really is out there, and it’s time the public knew!

But now that UFO investigating has gone legit, maybe people will start paying more attention to what experts in the field such as myself have been saying for years. Aliens really are visiting us from space, and they’re here for the coffee.

Aliens like coffee. If there are aliens, they would definitely be here for the coffee.

However, despite the wealth of solid research and information I’ve provided in my blogs, the US government still claims they don’t know what these aerial phenomena are. But readers of my blog and popular novels won’t be fooled. We all know exactly who and what they are, despite what Gluplock and other skeptics say.

Thanks NASA, but this is one party you’re a dollar short and a day late for. Please turn your attention back to getting people to Mars. You’re a bit overdue for that.

Stay tuned for future contributions to this blog from both Gluplock and I as the debate over the true origins of UFOs continue.

Sci-fi escapism: this is beach reading at the very best!

You can’t please all of the people all of the time, an old sage once said. And you can’t be all things to all people. Books are like that too. No book, no matter how brilliant or witty or marvelously written it may be, can appeal to everyone.

That’s because we are often looking for different things at different times. Sometimes we want serious fiction, sometimes humour. Or you may be in the mood for something light and fluffy. Mindless escapism. Crime drama. Or a spy drama. Or a steamy romance. Fun-filled adventure. To help the reader find the sort of book they are looking for, books are classified into different genres, and within each genre are categories and subcategories.

‘Hard’ sci-fi or ‘soft’?

Take, for example, my own specialty: sci-fi. Within that broad genre there’s serious “hard” sci-fi. One of the key promises within that category is that it will stay within the boundaries of real science. The Martian is an excellent example of this. All the science and technology portrayed in that novel is real and current. Then there is space opera. In space opera you get to make up your own science, and use fantastical made-up things like worm holes, time travel, warp drives, alien civilizations, and so on. Star Wars and Star Trek are very obvious examples of this genre.

A good book, regardless of its genre and category, will deliver on the promise that’s inherit within its category. And publishers put a lot of time and effort into coming up with titles and covers for books that will give customers a good feel for what can be expected between the covers.

Judging a books’ intention by its cover

I think my publisher, Franklin Street Press, did a great job coming up with the covers and titles for the two books (to date) in my Jack Winters Detective Series, which is about Jack’s friendship with alien coffee smugglers who have come to Earth looking for coffee.

I think the covers and titles of my books make it pretty obvious – there’s nothing series here folks. This is not ‘hard’ sci-fi. I’m all about mindless escapism, frankly. I get enough “serious” drama from my day job and reading the news.

Looking for ‘hard’ sci-fi in all the wrong places

But there’s just no pleasing some people. No matter how brilliantly witty the title and cover of a book may be in accurately portraying what a reader might expect between the front and back cover, some people still manage to get it wrong.

Recently a reviewer on Amazon criticized “Aliens, Spaceships and the Occasional Latte” for not being very plausible. I kid you not. This reviewer also said that as sci-fi, it was a bit too “soft”. Now, that’s funny. Was this reviewer seriously expecting “hard” sci-fi with a plausible, realistic story line when they picked a book with a title like this, featuring an alien holding a steaming cup of coffee?


Space Opera

Relaxing, humorous, and definitely not ‘hard’ sci-fi.

I wonder what his first hint was that this wasn’t hard science? Perhaps it was the cover with the picture of an alien holding a cup of coffee? Or was it the title, “Aliens, Spaceships and the Occasional Latte”? Or maybe it dawned on him in chapter 21, when Aunt Beatrice complains about alien visitors landing their spaceship in her cabbage patch. I don’t know, but it’s hard to grasp how anyone could pick up a novel with such a title and cover and expect anything other than fun-filled escapism.

A good book delivers on its promise

I don’t mind being judged on the basis of what my books are intended to be. But being criticized for something the book was never intended for is just plain silly. He may as well criticize my book for not having any good recipes for baked lasagna.

I think my novels deliver exactly what you might expect from the kind of covers and titles I’m using. There’s no subterfuge here. It’s beach reading escapism at its best. I like to think of my novels as modern day dime novels. Fun filled adventures in space.

We all need to take a break to recharge and relax

We often turn to forms of entertainment to relax, recharge, and take a break from the seriousness of work and daily life. Dime novels came into vogue during the American Civil War, arguably some of the darkest years of the country. People needed a break from the horrible news, and TV hadn’t been invented yet. Dime novels provided an affordable form of escapism. During the depression people snapped up cheap “pulp” fiction and went to the movies. They needed the break.

That’s what myself and other authors writing similar books are trying to do. Provide light-hearted escapism. We need it these days. I can’t remember a time when the news was so consistently depressing and awful on so many different fronts.

If you are looking for light-hearted escapism, you’ve come to the right place. If you want serious, hard sci-fi with “plausible” story lines, that’s not what I do. You won’t find it here.

That’s my rant for the day.

Zuckerberg wants you living your life in the metaverse

Welcome to the Metaverse

I don’t know about you, but there is only so much doomscrolling through world news I can take. After a stressful day at work, I cannot spend the entire evening reading the news, with it’s warnings of global famine, the possibility of tactical nukes getting used, and the daily outrages committed by the Russian military on the people of Ukraine, and endless American election cycles.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating that we stick our heads in the sand and ignore what’s happening, but I can’t spend all my free time doing laundry and reading the news. I’m not sure that would be healthy. As I’ve blogged previously, I believe escapist fiction is a legitimate need. We all need to unplug from the daily grind of reality, the news, work, chores, and find a way to unwind and relax. Many people enjoy escapist fiction, and that’s why I write light-hearted sci-fi. Well-written fiction has a way of drawing you in so that you forget that you are reading and feel like you are living in that world. That’s when you know it’s a good book.

Too much of a good things isn’t necessarily better.

Relaxing and unplugging from reality with a good book or movie is one thing. What Mark Zuckerberg is trying to sell us with his Metaverse is something else entirely. Like most forms of mental illness and addictions, it’s a good thing that’s been taken too far.

According to Zuckerberg, the metaverse isn’t just about casual online browsing. He wants us to live there. In a recent podcast, Zuckerberg explained what that the metaverse is really all about: “It’s about a time when basically immersive digital worlds become the primary way that we live our lives.” (emphasis added).

“The primary way we live.” Did you catch that? Are you as disturbed by that as I am?

It reminds me of that cartoon movie that came out a few years ago, Wall-E. I remember very little of that cartoon, but the image of overweight adults in chairs glued to screens has always stuck with me. Remember? People lived on a spaceship, and never had to get out of their chairs. They spent all their time looking at virtual screens floating in front of their faces. Everything they needed was brought to them while they remained seated, completely absorbed in their screens.

They even sat around a pool, not even bothering to get into it, but remained in their chairs watching movies of people playing in the water. Morbidly overweight, they were so absorbed in their virtual reality that they’d even forgotten how to take care of their bodies. So lost in their virtual world, their real world and real bodies no longer mattered to them.

Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse is a big, horrid step in that direction.

Don’t be a Sucker for Zucker

Of course Zuckerberg and the other rich tech guru’s of the online world want us spending more time in their metaverse, to the point of living there. And of course they will position themselves as the bold visionaries of a bright new future. They’re not stupid. They know how insanely rich they will become if millions of people start actually, “primarily living their lives” there. It’s a great way to completely monetize our lives and make them even richer. Forget about billions of dollars. That’s now looking like chump change for these guys. They’re looking at becoming trillionaires.

I quit Facebook and deleted my account two years ago. I find Facebook, like most social media, a monumental waste of time. However, as silly as Facebook was (or is), Zuckerberg is trying to take us into even greater depths of nonsense. He wants us to quit reality, and join him in his new virtual world. We’ll be able to meet friends, hold business meetings, shop, work, socialize, all within the Metaverse. In other words, do our living there. Just like the people in Wall-E.

Apparently, millions of people spending hours every day on Facebook isn’t enough for Zuckerberg. Or isn’t making him rich enough. He now wants us to abandon reality and move into his virtual world. What is he going to try selling us next? Automated systems that will bring us snacks without having to get off the couch?

Enjoy escapist fiction, but don’t escape reality

Reading good fiction or relaxing in front of the TV is one thing, and I believe healthy and normal. What Zuckerberg wants us to do isn’t healthy, and we must never let it become ‘normal’. Escaping reality by living in his virtual metaverse for hours on end can’t be good for us. It may be great for Zuckerberg. After all, he’s looking to monetize us – our time, our lives – to an even greater extent by getting us to buy into his version of ‘reality’, so he can add to his already excessive fortune.

Don’t be a sucker for Zucker. Don’t unplug from reality – unplug from Zuckerberg instead. The Metaverse is the product of a sick prepubescent mind that doesn’t want to grow up. Stay away from it and read a good book. Or make popcorn and invite some friends over to watch a movie. Start a new hobby that gets you away from the screen and doing something real with your hands, in the real world. That’s what normal, healthy adults do.

Do yourself a favour, and keep living in the real world. That’s my rant for the day.

(This post was lightly edited Oct. 29, 2022)

Why we need pulp fiction now more than ever

The dangers of doomscrolling

I’ve been spending a lot off time doomscrolling since Russia launched its brutal and unjust invasion of Ukraine, and I can’t recall when I’ve ever felt angrier with what I’m seeing in the news.

With the war in Ukraine, the global pandemic, the climate crisis, severe weather events, and the election cycles in America that never seem to end, there is no shortage of bad news to doomscroll through.

As a writer of escapist pulp fiction, I wondered if anyone would still be interested in the kind of light-hearted novels I like to write. Why would anyone want to read stories about aliens coming to Earth looking for coffee? How could I spend my time writing about such frivolous topics with all the truly serious crap hitting the fan around the world?

So for a while I stopped work on my current project – a sequel to my humorous sci-fi series about aliens who love coffee. I didn’t feel it was the right time for writing light-hearted escapism.

It’s a very good time for light-hearted escapism

But then I thought about how popular dime novels were during the American Civil War, which featured escapist adventure stories. And during the Great Depression cheap adventure stories in the form of ‘pulp’ fiction were hugely popular.

Dime novels became very popular during the darkest years of the Civil War

During the dark days of the Civil War and the global depression, people needed the break and low-cost escapist novels came into their own as an industry.

We are in a similarly dark period now, and it’s precisely in times like this that low-cost escapism is needed more than ever. We all need to take a break from doomscrolling and find a way to unplug from everything that’s going on and relax. Pulp fiction, escapist adventures, humorous sci-fi – whatever kind of reading you prefer – is a legitimate form of recreation. So I’ve taken up my pen once again and resumed writing.

Support a worthy charity

However, I still believe we should try to do what we can to help and not ignore what’s going on in the world. As a result, I’ve made some personal changes. Instead of doomscrolling, I’ve cut back drastically on my news consumption and started doing something practical. I started giving.

Recently I did some research into charities dedicated to assisting the people of Ukraine. The Washington Post and The Globe and Mail have both published lists of reputable charities supporting Ukraine.

Charities supporting Ukraine:

Don’t ignore what’s going on, but I think you may find it more rewarding to spend less time doomscrolling and more time doing something practical. I think one of the best ways most of us here in Western Europe, Canada and America can do that is by donating to charities supporting worthy causes.

Oh, and spend more time reading great adventure sci-fi about aliens who like coffee.

And that’s my rant for the day.

UFOs are just aliens looking for a good cup of coffee

Do aliens like coffee? We think so! What intelligent being wouldn’t? As readers of my blog and fans of my novels have long suspected, UFOs are aliens just looking for coffee. For years, I’ve been the lone voice in the literary wilderness pointing this out to anyone who would listen, and writing a few novels about it. But now other serious writers are beginning to take notice. Joe Queenan, well-known columnist for the prestigious Wall Street Journal no less, has come around and now agrees. They’re here, and they’re looking for coffee.

The Wall Street Journal Finally Agrees With Me

In a recent WSJ column, “Are UFOs Just Aliens Looking for a Cup of Coffee?”, Joe Queenan argues this very point. And we think this is good news, because it means UFOs probably do NOT have hostile intentions or planning an invasion. If the aliens are just looking for coffee, then logic dictates they are nice, peaceful, intelligent and witty, because in my experience human coffee lovers are nice, peaceful, intelligent and witty. We prefer to sit and visit while sharing great coffee over interesting conversation, rather than invade foreign countries – much less attack someone else’s planet.

Now, the more cynical among us may argue the opposite. Since, to the best of our knowledge, Earth is the only known planet in the galaxy that can grow coffee, might not aliens be tempted to take us over? As their logic goes, the very fact aliens are coming to Earth might mean they’re planning an invasion so they can get their hands on our coffee.

But I don’t think so. Alien visitors are likely to be intelligent – after all they’ve managed to invent UFOs that can travel trillions of miles through space to get here. If they are smart enough to do that, they are smart enough to realize it’s much cheaper to simply buy the coffee from us rather than attack.

Planetary invasions can get pretty expensive.

Buying a Cup of Coffee is Cheaper Than Planetary Invasions

Do the math – it’s not all that hard. How much is a pound of coffee? My local grocery store carries it for anywhere from $5 to $10 a pound. I usually spend $20 on premium Rwandan coffee from a roaster here in town. It’s much cheaper – and quicker, by the way – to go shopping than it would be to invade Rwanda.

As a matter of fact, as I write this at 5 o’clock on a Friday morning, I’m getting low on coffee. And I think I’ll simply go see my local roaster and spend $20, rather than launch a military assault on an African nation at the cost of several millions of dollars (not that I have several millions, I’m just trying to make a point). If I can figure this math out, I’m pretty sure any alien astronaut can as well.

They Are Here for the Coffee

I feel confident our alien visitors have come to much the same conclusion. And the proof? Well – they haven’t invaded yet and apparently they’ve been visiting us for decades, at least since the 1950s when people started to notice UFOs, and have yet to take hostile action. If they were going to invade, I think they would have done so by now.

And what did it cost the US to invade Afghanistan? 1.2 trillion dollars! If it cost that much to invade a little country right here on Earth a mere 8,000 miles away, think of the cost to invade an entire planet across the galaxy. For an alien visitor, wouldn’t it just make more sense to come to Earth peacefully, find a human willing to trade, and spend the $5 to $20 dollars a pound?

And it would be much more pleasant for both the aliens and humans involved. They could sit down, enjoy a nice cup of coffee while comparing notes on our respective cultures. Launching military invasions is no way to make friends. A pleasant cultural exchange is much nicer than shooting at each other.

As readers of my popular novels have long suspected…

Aliens are here for the coffee.

Let’s hope the Pentagon is paying attention. If the American military brass realize that UFOs are just aliens looking for a decent cup of coffee, not to invade, then they are much less likely to start shooting and inadvertently start an inter-galactic war.

Is The Truth Out There?

Or, more to the point, is anything or anybody out there at all? Given the nature of my novels, I’m often asked if I believe in aliens. But that question can mean a couple of different things:

  1. Do you believe in the existence of extra-terrestrial intelligences out in the universe?
  2. Do you believe that UFO’s are alien visitors from space?

These are two very different topics. ‘Do you believe there might be other intelligent beings out there in the universe somewhere?’ – OR – ‘Do you believe that the UFO phenomenon is real – that UFO’s are real and they are spaceships visiting us from other worlds.’

Is there anyone out there?

Many serious scientists, notably those involved in programs like SETI, believe there may be, even likely is, intelligent life in the universe other than ourselves. They do not necessarily believe in UFOs. I fall into that camp. I am agnostic when it comes to aliens – I think there could be other civilizations out there. We just don’t know and programs like SETI are looking for scientific evidence for that.

But do I believe UFOs are alien visitors from another planet?

Well, I have my doubts. And here’s why. If UFOs are visitors from other planets, then they aren’t very smart or seem to be very confused about what their mission is.

The aliens seem to be confused about what their mission is

Consider this: The aliens either want us to know about them, and are here to reveal themselves to us, make contact, hopefully just to trade or engage in cultural exchange and other benign activities.

Or, they are here on a secret mission and don’t want us to know about them.

Either way, they seem to be doing a lousy job of it. If it is a secret mission, then they’ve screwed up big time. Thousands of people are on to them, and if the UFO conspirators are correct, then apparently the US Government knows all about them too.

If they are not on a secret mission and are here to reveal themselves and make contact, then that is not going very well either because the vast majority of us rational people aren’t convinced that they even exist. It’s still a big secret only the conspiracy theory people and the US Government seem to know about. And the government is involved in a massive cover-up to keep it from the public.

Alien Cover-up?

If aliens from other worlds are really visiting us and want us to know about them, then HOW could the US Government cover that up?

I mean, wouldn’t it be a simple matter for our alien buddies to make themselves known and initiate cultural contact? Why don’t they just land a big ship in Times Square, or the front lawn of the White House, or Red Square for that matter.

Or how about in front of parliament in Ottawa? Canadians are generally pretty nice and aren’t as likely to start shooting.

But conspiracy believers will say they don’t do that because they aren’t ready to reveal themselves, or we’re not ready for them yet, so they still have to keep their presence secret. Well, if that’s the case we still have a big problem because they’ve been photographed and spotted literally thousands of times. And they seem to be obsessed with hanging around top secret US government airfields and stuff – and getting spotted.

Why are the photos always so fuzzy?

Again, not very smart of them.

But no, apparently they only reveal themselves to fruitcakes. Because from the documentaries I’ve watched about people claiming to have met or been abducted by aliens, the people involved don’t seem to be entirely well balanced.

And why is there NEVER any hard evidence? Just lots of fuzzy pictures.

Sure, lots of pictures but those are easily faked. Of course, this is where the conspiracy believers will say – “but there is hard evidence…and the US Government is hiding it and keeping it from the public… and they’ve used the tech to build spaceships that get us to Mars in 3 days… and there is a colony on Mars already…but it’s all a secret because people can’t handle the truth…”

Yup, you can watch documentaries on Netflix where people go into great detail ‘proving’ these very things.

The aliens are making a lot of rookie mistakes

But here’s the thing. Suppose for a moment that all this is true. I don’t think the cover-up is necessary any more because I’m pretty sure the public is long passed caring. What I mean by that is not that people wouldn’t be interested, it’s just there wouldn’t be panic in the streets. If the ‘truth’ came out, most of us would watch it on the morning news shows while drinking our coffee, mumble something like: “It’s about time the government finally came clean on UFOs”, then finish getting dressed and get on with our day. Sure, it would be cool, but we’d hardly panic.

Maybe the aliens coming here are cadets, spaceship pilots in training, and that would explain all the rookie mistakes they seem to be making.

Well, I think I’ve ranted enough. I’m sure the US Government has a lot of secrets they are keeping from us. I think they have to – how could they function otherwise. But I don’t think UFOs are one of them.

Why are the aliens always hanging around US Air Force bases?

I think all that stuff that gets spotted in the sky, sometimes hard to explain, is exactly what a rational person would suppose. Advanced drones from China or the latest generation of advanced aircraft technology that the US is working on.

Think about it – at any given time the Air Force must be working on the next generation of technology, and of course it has to be kept secret. And of course they have to test fly this stuff. When they first started working on stealth bombers, it would have been top secret and someone who happened to spot a test flight might easily mistake it for a UFO. I mean, after all, we don’t have anything like that on Earth, right???

Interestingly enough, the vast majority of so-called UFO sightings are in the vicinity of military bases. Now, I don’t think aliens who have the ability to travel light-years across the galaxy would be all that interested in our primitive military gear!!

While my fellow bloggers on this site will disagree, I don’t think UFOs are visitors from space. If they are, they certainly make a lot of rookie mistakes. They keep getting spotted, and one of them flew dangerously close between two Navy fighter jets, almost causing a collision. That doesn’t strike me as very bright! I’m pretty sure any alien astronaut arriving here is going to be smarter than that.

Whatever these UFOs turn out to be, the explanation is likely to be very earthbound and mundane.

(Updated November 3, 2022)