Friday Ramble

I think I understand why I don’t understand, especially in regards to hateful online infecto-choads and their constant invectives against women.

I use the Internet as a tool. It’s a reference, a book, a newspaper, a phone, or a game. It’s there when I want to use it.

It’s not my social life, or my primary outlet for human connection, like it is for many other people. Perhaps its a generational thing. The Internet as it exists didn’t exist when I was growing up. I rode the early wave in the ’90s with my 28.8 modem and OS2. It’s always been an amazing way to share information and talk to people. But it was never a primary outlet for social interaction.

Perhaps I’m too tactile, too grounded in the physical reality of day to day life, to find virtual social connections a substitute for real ones.

I like talking with people on-line, but I’d much rather meet face-to-face, or even talk on the phone.

Talking on the phone or Skype makes a lot of people uncomfortable, perhaps because it makes two people force to treat each other on an equal setting. Texting occurs in the court of the inner dialogue, the crafted setting of the imagination, where you create your opponent out of what you think they are like. Even a phone call, where you can’t see a face, tells you volumes more about a person, and it makes you aware you’re not dealing with an imaginary thing, a disembodied virtual being. You’re forced to deal with a real person.

Just a friday rambling.

Book Reviews

I’ve gotten some pretty good book reviews for my book, The Wizard and the Rat. Here are some review snippets from Amazon. After reading them, perhaps you’ll be tempted to buy a copy for yourself.

Click on any review below to see the rest of what the reviewer had to say.


The Wizard and the Rat is a great read. It’s gritty without being grimdark, features an openly gay protagonist who is in no way a “chosen one,” and brings up hard questions about what life in a fantasy universe would be like, without relying on tired tropes or easy squalor. In short, it is the kind of fantasy I’m always saying I wished more people would write. I look forward to more work from this author.


Rat is the ultimate underdog, a young man who has been disowned by his family and must struggle to survive in a brutal world where might is right and only the most vicious survive. Hyral is a different kind of underdog: a high status wizard whose unorthodox teaching methods set him at odds with the rest of his institution. Both men have become disillusioned with themselves and the world around them. They carry a tremendous load of guilt for their failures. While they journey toward an epic battle, they also help each other confront their own personal demons.


Engler’s writing fills the senses. The world is richly realized not just as something cartographic, but as cultures and subcultures, and the misfits who jut out like nails waiting to be hammered down. Though the story covers events that threaten cities, the book’s strength is in the compassionate, forgiving treatment of flawed individuals in dire circumstances. From the grandiose political dogma of the most powerful city-states to the smaller course of love and betrayal, problems are rendered in captivating complexity. The incessant tension of Rat’s daily life, and the far-reaching scope of Hyral’s ambitions keep the book engaging.


So while most high fantasy takes place on a superhuman scale, The Wizard and the Rat embraces a human scale. This might not appeal to all readers, but I found it to be a refreshing change from a lot of the fantasy I read. The characters were drawn in great detail, and I found myself caring as much (or more) about their search for redemption as I do for the fate of the world in more traditional fantasy stories.


I don’t make a lot of time for fantasy these days, because, quite honestly, too much of the genre either has no depth at all or goes the opposite extreme and tries to be high concept (and fails). Engler struck a rare balance between creating a complex, immersive world while still putting the story within easy reach. I was drawn in quickly, but then was pleasantly surprised to find that both main characters had real depth and were part of a fascinating world that I’d love to learn more about. I especially loved the sci-fi/fantasy interplay, especially as the details were slowly and cleverly revealed.


This is an epic tale and the beginning told in a calm style entirely befitting its characters. I wouldn’t know quite how to categorise this book as it has elements from a variety of subgenres and areas but I would certainly read the following book.


Rat is immediately sympathetic, burdened by a hard life in the Low and the stigma of being gay. I think the author did a fantastic job of conveying Rat’s homosexuality and care for the other characters in the book–in both the present story and his past, and I think it was Rat’s overwhelming ability to love, despite all the terrible things he’s suffered in his life, that really allowed me to connect to him as a character.


This book is wonderful. The world setting is both robust and believable. The characters are multidimensional and realistic. The story pulled me in from the beginning and kept me wanting more past the end. I thoroughly enjoyed not running into the same old tropes I’ve seen in a lot novels lately. Not only do I highly recommend it, I’m also now anxiously awaiting the sequel.


But I have to say this story was thrilling. It’s very simple in it’s progress. It’s mostly the story of a journey. But in between this, we get to know the past, not only of the Wizard and the Rat, who are taking this short journey together, But also the world itself and the basis of it’s magic. And there is SO MUCH back story. And it is captivating.


Excellent descriptions throughout the book really bring the scenery and world to life. From describing Rat’s inner feelings when confronted with his past to simply describing a meandering path near a river in exquisite detail, the author does not shortchange the reader, keeping up the quality of wordsmithing I have to expect from the authors I read.

The New Normal

Part 4 of Event Zero.

You can check out part 1, part 2, and part 3 before this if you like.

Yuri Hrab sighed as he parked the sedan between a rusted Nissan pickup with the flatbed torn off and a neon-blue Humvee with little gold daggers hanging from the mirror.

It’s going to be one of those days.

The row-houses that weren’t boarded up or burnt out looked like they wanted to be left alone. The concrete stairs were chipped from neglect and bullets. Bars covered windows on each floor. Doors were made of metal.

Hrab checked the address again on his glasses.

Four young men were sitting on the stoop. Their pants were baggy enough to conceal shotguns if they wanted to stick them in there. There was a near empty 40 ounce bottle of beer on the lower step. The smell of marijuana from the previous night still clung to their jackets. It was 9:00 am.

He adjusted his glasses on his nose, the surreptitious motion activated a basic thermal imaging system and general health scan. It wasn’t a 100% solution, especially in the daylight, but it gave a high confidence result. He finished adjusting and turned the scan off. To outsiders it would have looked like the reflection from the sun.

“Gentlemen, good morning.”

The presumptive leader of the group puffed up and offered a “What the fuck do you want?” that was weekend by the previous night’s efforts at having a good time.

Read More …

Goodreads best first book list

Hi all,

My book, The Wizard and the Rat, is on a list at for the best first book by a new author.

If you have a Goodreads account, I’d love a vote- right now my book is at #38. It doesn’t take many votes to move up that list, and anything you can do to help the book get a higher profile would be fantastic!

You can go to the list by clicking