There’s a way to fully reopen in 4 weeks and be back to normal in 6 — but is there a will?

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Photo by LOGAN WEAVER on Unsplash

I don’t want to wear a mask either. I want to go to music festivals and bars and movies, too. Everyone wants to go back to normal, and we could — if our leaders had the will.

1 — Test everyone twice a week

You me, everyone. Twice a week.

“Okay,” you say, “there aren’t enough tests, and even if there were, a test program on this scale would cost a fortune. Besides, they aren’t accurate enough.”

The industrial might of the United States is perfectly capable of producing enough covid19 tests for all 330 million of us every day for the rest of our lives. And if it isn’t, then our economy is an abject failure. When tests are produced on this industrial scale, they become more accurate, easier to administer, and yield faster results. Come on, have you any faith in capitalism? …

My Notorious Life, by Kate Manning

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“Perspective-altering” is the highest praise that I can give a book. It’s my goal in every everything I write. My Notorious Life altered my perspective as much as any book I’ve ever read — better yet because it took a while for my brain to swallow.

Courteous, decent, compassionate people strive to understand the turmoils that others experience. My Notorious Life depicts the turmoils faced by half the human population. Many in that half can’t see through the veil of cultural norms that hides the reality, the subliminal paradoxes of the ethics imposed on women. …

Looking at you remdesivir

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Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Along with fear, sickness, death, and extensive TV streaming, the covid-19 virus has us searching our feeds for treatments and vaccines. I’m going to teach you how to judge emerging results. I am not a biochemist or medical doctor; I’m an experimental physicist with decades of experience analyzing experimental results.

I’ll show you some tools and how to use them by walking you through the still-evolving clinical trials of covid-19 treatments with the antiviral drug remdesivir.

You’ll need a calculator app with a square root function. If you’re not okay with that, please give me a chance anyway. …

Congress of Secrets by Stephanie Burgis

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I was looking for historical fiction and stumbled on Congress of Secrets*, set in one of my favorite cities, Vienna, at the onset of post-Napoleanic Europe, a historical epoch that I don’t know much about. I’m pretty sure that I’ve never met the author, Stephanie Burgis, and I paid full retail for the ebook.

Plot Development, Tension, and Timing

Stephanie Burgis unwinds her plot perfectly, from doling out backstory to withholding information to timing plot tension: 25% of the way in, right around Pp 85–90, you can feel the key players’ sense of “no turning back.” …

Where Oblivion Lives by T. Frohock

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I found T. Frohock’s Where Oblivion Lives* in a search for “historical fantasy” — a mix of two of my favorite genres.

Where Oblivion Lives is supernatural fantasy embedded in pre-revolution Spain and early Nazi Germany. Nothing but fascists, demons, and angels as far as the eye can see!

SFF (science fiction and fantasy (we don’t call it “SciFi” anymore)) is an idea-based genre and since the premise is usually somewhat fantastic, there’s a McGuffin: that bit of bogasity on which the heretofore undeveloped or impossible technology (for SF) or magic (for fantasy) is built. A big mistake that we often make (hopefully only in the first draft) is to spend pages and pages explaining/rationalizing our fantastic nonsense. …

The Untold Tale by J.M. Frey

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Cover art of The Untold Tale by J.M. Frey

When I started writing Ransom Reviews, I knew that there would be requests. Since I ask people for blurbs, reviews, pats on the head, and hoppy ale, it seemed lame and smug and annoying to have a policy of “no.”

J.M. Frey sent me a message asking me to review one of her books. Since we have the same agent, I especially hoped that I’d like it. She offered a free copy, but I paid full retail, agreed to put it in my “pile of good intentions,” and made pre-excuses involving the height of said pile. …

Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay

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When I was invited to read Too Rich to Die*, at SFinSF (San Francisco’s premier science fiction event) with Guy Gavriel Kay, I sent an email to his publisher asking for an advanced reader copy of his latest book, A Brightness Long Ago*. The idea was to (a) get a free copy before any of my friends read it(!), and (b) prepare for the reading (I’m not at all happy to admit that (b) was the greater motivator — sure sign of age). …

Guilty Blood by Rick Acker

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I read Guilty Blood* as preparation for interviewing the author, Rick Ackers, for the San Francisco Writers Conference Podcast (send me a note if you want a link to the podcast, as I write this it hasn’t been posted).

Rick stuck me as a warm, polished gentleman, much like the book’s protagonist, attorney Nate Daniels — and what a coincident, Rick is also an attorney!

For authors, Guilty Blood provides a legal-thriller writing clinic. Every box is checked. Tension increases from the first page until about the 95% point when it relaxes. The thing that amazes me about thrillers is that we know what’s going to happen and when by the number of remaining pages are (unless you turn off page numbers on the ebook, which I call reading without a net). Will Brandon be executed? Will he be convicted of murder? Sure, there are plenty of surprises (that’s a box that must be ticked, after all), but in a good thriller you have a pretty good idea what’s going to happen and are still tied to the page because you can’t see how they can possible pull it off with the world going to pieces around them! …

Ship of Magic, by Robin Hobb

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Ship of Magic, Book 1 of the Liveship Traders Trilogy*, came to me the way that all Robin Hobb books come to me: I’ve been waiting to read it for years. I ration Robin Hobb’s books because I want to live in a world where there is always a Robin Hobb book that I haven’t yet read. Pure escapism, she is the best prolific epic (and epoch) fantasy writer that I’m aware of and fantasy is my default/goto when I just want to disappear for a while. Plus, I’ve been noodling around with an idea for a fantasy pirate story set in the world of The Book of Bastards: Curse, my most recent manuscript to begin the painful journey across publisher’s desks. So there I was, searching for a reliably good read and the gods reminded me of Hobb’s Ship of Magic. …

by thanking the angel nearest you

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Photo by Ani Kolleshi on Unsplash

Odds are that the first person to look in your eyes was a nurse. The odds are even better that the last person you see will be a nurse. Nurses give us dignity at those times in our lives when we simply cannot afford dignity. …

About

Ransom Stephens, PhD

Physicist and bestselling author of thought-provoking suspense novels. He likes hoppy ale, loud music, and every genre of fiction.

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