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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Chatting again with our friend Barton Paul Levenson

Thanks to You Gotta Read Reviews for letting me blog here a second time. You guys are the best!
I wrote the first draft of Parole back in 1990, when I was working at the US Steel Edgar Thomson plant in Braddock, PA. Shouldn't have been writing on the job, but there were long stretches with nothing to do, when the software was actually doing what it was supposed to.
This one just poured out of me. I don't recall if I wrote it all in one sitting--probably not--but I know I completed it in no more than a few days. This was one of my first Galactic Club stories.
Astronomer Ronald Bracewell coined the term "Galactic Club" in a 1974 book on extraterrestrial intelligence. To him it denoted a cooperating group of advanced civilizations which the Earth might one day aspire to join. I took it the same way, but I added an insight from my Christian beliefs which I think many people who have written about ETI have missed--that aliens being highly intelligent will not necessarily make them good people. Their motives aren't likely to be any more pure than ours. The cults which look for salvation from aliens in UFOs are likely to be sadly disappointed if they ever meet any real aliens.
At the time I was at the height of what I now call my "serial killer" phase. My life had unfortunately crossed the paths of no less than three multiple murderers, and for a while I compiled reams of data about them, hoping to gain some useful insight from statistical analysis. Eventually I had to give it up--the details were making me sick. But in 1990 criminals and sociopaths were very much on my mind, along with the question of whether criminals can be rehabilitated, and if so, which ones. My beliefs tell me that anyone can turn to Christ and be saved, but who is more likely to do that and who isn't? I can't predict the fate of any individual, but sometimes I can make statistical generalizations about large groups of people.
Parole was just a case history with a lot of action. I took criminals, aliens, space travel, and the Galactic Club, and put them together into a story that Laura kindly describes as "thought-provoking and eye-opening in many ways." I'm very pleased with the reviews; people seem to really like the story. Let me not leave out that it can be downloaded for $2.50 from Lyrical Press at www.OnceUponABookstore.com. I hope you like it.

1 comment:

lastnerve said...

Hey Barton,

Thanks for blogging today and I love the story behind Parole. I can't wait to read it, it looks awesome!