Tuesday, April 26, 2016

the Chessboard

photo source: Wikicommons
"Aren't you supposed to say something complicated when you make a move?" asked the Younger, studying his old friend's thoughtful frown. "Queen to King's Rook 5, or something like that?"

"Such a notion is antiquated," replied the Elder, not breaking his concentration. "These days, some people use algebraic notation, instead. But without a pad and paper, there's no point."

Their chess game was a new setting for the two friends, although the Elder's practiced ease gave away his familiarity with the outdoor park and its modest collection of chess enthusiasts. "It may not be Central Park in New York," he commented, looking up from their game for a moment. "But I like the vibe, as you young people like to say."

The Younger chuckled as he moved his knight in what he hoped would be an advantageous direction. "People younger than me, maybe. Nothing ages you like graduation and joining the workforce!"

His smile vanished as the Elder deftly countered his move, adding the knight to the growing collection of captured game pieces beside the chessboard. "Anyway, I wanted to ask you for your thoughts on something I heard the other day."

The Elder looked up, all his attention on his young friend. "Something non-chess related, I assume?" he asked, as the spring breeze tousled his mane of grey hair.

The Younger pulled out his phone, opening a Bible app, and read:
"It’s true that some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry... They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me. But that doesn’t matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice." (Philippians 1:15-18)
Placing his phone beside the chessboard, he scanned his potential moves with a furrowed brow as he continued speaking. "Some of my friends are very insistent that nobody should question what people are teaching, based on what Paul wrote to the Philippians. You've heard the slogans, probably. 'Don't judge', or 'doctrine divides, love unites'..."

"They're still using those slogans?" the Elder raised his eyebrows in surprise. "I heard them back when I was your age! There really is nothing new under the sun, I guess. Have your friends also considered what the same apostle Paul, inspired by the same Holy Spirit, also wrote to the Galatian churches?"

And the Elder quoted, from memory:
"You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ. Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you." (Galatians 1:7-8)
The Younger sat up a little straighter, his hand poised to shift his rook, the gesture frozen. "Honestly, it does sound like Paul is talking out of both sides of his mouth. Not that I hear my friends quoting that particular verse all that often..." His voice trailed off as he remembered to move his rook.

The Elder sighed, although it wasn't clear whether it was the topic at hand, or the ease with which he captured the Younger's rook. "In Philippians, Paul doesn't have a problem with what people were teaching about Jesus. Their motives are important, because God looks upon our hearts, but at least the message of Jesus Christ was being clearly proclaimed."

And he deftly captured the Younger's queen.

The Younger groaned at his gaffe, but looked up after making his next move with a different light in his eyes. "But with the Galatians, Paul was upset because they were being led astray by false teaching!"

"Exactly," agreed the Elder. "And, I must apologize, but checkmate. Again."

He picked up the Younger's king, using it almost as a pointer as he concluded. "Our motives are important, but it's the job of the Holy Spirit to bring correction. So, as long as the content -- the gospel of Jesus Christ -- was accurate, Paul was thrilled that the message was spreading. And, as you just pointed out, if the content of the preaching was error..."

"Paul went after it like a dog on a bone," the Younger finished. "So in reality, it's not really about the motives at all, but the content of the teaching, that ultimately makes the difference."

"I couldn't have said it better myself," the Elder laughed, handing the chesspiece back to the Younger. "Another game?"

The Younger shrugged with a wry smile. "Why not? I can be your 'chess disciple'... until I learn how to beat you at your own game."

The Elder nodded sagely. "It's good for young people to have dreams to pursue," he murmured as if to himself. And he began to reset the game pieces on the board.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Book Release: Dissident

The second chapter in the Tracker Trilogy is now available: Dissident.

The Runners are back, continuing in their struggle against the lethal and subhuman Trackers. As the situation intensifies, they find themselves in the unenviable position of needing help from the hated Hoarders.

But years of stereotypes and bitterness do not easily melt away, for either side. To have any hope of prevailing, they -- Runners and Hoarders alike -- will first need to confront their own prejudices and distrust.

"Book two of the Tracker series goes deeper into the themes of greed, racism and xenophobia. It feels like a metaphor of our current political climate. Of course there are still the chases, double-backs, blood-letting and weird stuff that you expect from a Tracker novel. It is "thinky" speculative fiction like The Hunger Games or Oryx and Crake." (review at Amazon.com)

- from the inside cover -

The Tracker was sprawled on its back in the middle of the room, arms and legs splayed out, staring at the ceiling with unseeing eyes. Its mouth hung open, slack-jawed, and Amos could almost believe that it looked... shocked? Disbelieving?

They approached it with caution, ready to attack at the slightest provocation. There was none. The Tracker was dead, lying in a growing puddle of its own blood. The left side of its head was crushed as if it had been struck by one of their trucks. They saw nothing inside the room that could account for the barbaric damage done to the Tracker.

Don pushed at its head with his knife, unwilling to touch the pallid flesh with his own hands. It rolled to one side, as limp as a boneless fish, its one remaining eye focused on nothing. 

“Scanner’s been crushed,” he commented, frowning at the remains. “Along with most of whatever it used for brains. But it hasn’t detonated. I guess its self-destruct was shorted out by whatever did this.”

Amos knelt on one knee beside him, staring at the body. “The last time this happened, it was another Tracker that killed it,” he warned.

“If this one didn’t blow itself up, that means there’s another Tracker around here somewhere.”

Friday, April 8, 2016

Foreshadowing: Dissident

The countdown begins...

The second novel in the Tracker series: Dissident.

In the not-so-distant future, a post-apocalyptic society struggles to overcome the mistakes and prejudices of the past.

Failure could mean their annihilation.

- from the back cover -
The Enclave is the impenetrable symbol of the Hoarders' dominance. From behind its massive walls, they continue their campaign to Implant the innocent, while the subhuman Trackers hunt down and exterminate the unfortunate.

The only hope for the small band of Runners is to infiltrate the Enclave, and take the fight to the Hoarders.

In order to do this, they will need help from inside the Enclave: Hoarders willing to work alongside them in a battle against their common – and malevolent – enemy.

The enigmatic Mateo, cryptic and secretive, claims to know the way.

But will he help them?

Or betray them?

Dissident (Tracker: Book Two) coming soon