Mike Laughrey


Mike Laughrey is an author, bibliophile, home workshop tinkerer, and self-proclaimed mad scientist. He writes both fiction and nonfiction, but prefers fictional reference works - nonfictional information that expands the knowledge of a fictional setting. He reads technical how-to and DIY books, military science and history, some high fantasy, and science fiction - good science fiction, not that scaremongering dystopian stuff that predicts a new and uniquely terrible future every other day.

According to legend, anyone who can properly pronounce Mike's last name just from reading it is destined to lead the mole people in their conquest of the surface world.

Smashwords Interview

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first story I can remember writing was on two pages of a small notebook, the kind made to be carried around in a pocket to take notes or to serve as a grocery or to-do list. I don't remember what it was about, only that the antagonists were shape changing monsters. This would have been back in second or third grade. I don't remember any other details, but in general I don't have a positive impression about it. Maybe I just recognized that I'd come a long way since then, or maybe I got some criticism that stuck with me - if it was the criticism though, it didn't stick enough for me to remember details about it, either.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Reading, mostly. I sometimes volunteer to help at local libraries; I like books and I'm friends with most of the people working there, so it's always fun regardless of the amount of heavy lifting involved.
Read more of this interview.

Where to find Mike Laughrey online


The World That Was
Fragmented records of a society pushed past its limits by the symptoms of an engineered virus. Conflict and conspiracy, regret and remorse, even boredom and bureaucracy... all carefully pulled from the ashes of the World That Was, and preserved in the Archives of the Candlelight Vigil.
Doctor's Notes
Price: $0.99 USD.
Impatient Zero
Price: $0.99 USD.
Price: $0.99 USD.
Price: $0.99 USD.
Terminal Diagnosis
Price: $0.99 USD.


The Dollar Store Survival Kit
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 3,050. Language: American English. Published: November 3, 2019 . Categories: Nonfiction » Reference » Personal & Practical Guides
An instructional guide to purchasing the bare essentials for emergency survival in a crisis, on a budget of twenty dollars.
Bedside Manners
Series: The World That Was. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,900. Language: American English. Published: June 20, 2019 . Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic
A series of reports filed in the Candlelight Vigil Archives, a mix of day-to-day operations and one unexpected delivery from a courier.
Series: The World That Was. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 4,280. Language: American English. Published: May 24, 2019 . Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic
A small boat logged filled out by the owner, detailing experiences spanning from the middle of November 2019 to the middle of December 2019.
Step By Step
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 11,300. Language: American English. Published: March 2, 2019 . Categories: Nonfiction » Reference » Handbooks & Manuals
Ebooks have revolutionized the writing and publishing landscape, but to a new author who doesn't know the ins and outs of the business it can still be frustrating. This guide explores some of the fundamentals of writing, publishing, and marketing ebooks, including some that tend to get lost in the shuffle when it comes to advice for new writers.
Airborne Transmission
Series: The World That Was. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,090. Language: American English. Published: February 12, 2019 . Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic
Paperwork filled out, but not officially filed or reported, following the crash of an experimental aircraft a few days after Halloween 2019.
The Murder Hobo Handbook
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 37,580. Language: American English. Published: November 30, 2018 . Categories: Nonfiction » Reference » Handbooks & Manuals, Fiction » Humor & comedy » Satire
A straightforward reference work written for the novice Adventurer first starting out in their careers. Topics run the gamut from combat and conflict to the social and cultural conditions that lead to widespread Adventuring in the first place.
The Halloween Riots
Series: The World That Was. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,610. Language: American English. Published: October 31, 2018 . Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic
Records from the Candlelight Vigil Archives, documenting the events prior to and following Halloween 2019.
Terminal Diagnosis
Series: The World That Was. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,320. Language: American English. Published: September 2, 2018 . Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic
A letter to the editors of various newspapers across the country, or at least those newspapers that are still in business.
Series: The World That Was. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,160. Language: American English. Published: July 30, 2018 . Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic
A series of emails from one long distance friend to another.
Series: The World That Was. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 3,130. Language: American English. Published: July 28, 2018 . Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic
Meeting Minutes of the Helios Cooperative solar power startup, and its successor organization.
Impatient Zero
Series: The World That Was. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 4,400. Language: American English. Published: July 23, 2018 . Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic
A series of entries in a journal, found in an uninhabited farmhouse.
Doctor's Notes
Series: The World That Was. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,570. Language: American English. Published: July 19, 2018 . Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic
(3.00 from 1 review)
A pathologist performs an autopsy, and stumbles onto evidence of something much more complicated, and much more serious, than a highly contagious disease.
The Stranger In The Mirror
Series: The World That Was. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 3,010. Language: American English. Published: July 5, 2018 . Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic
(3.67 from 3 reviews)
A man wakes up in a hospital with an unidentified disease. Things go downhill from there.
An Elephant's Guide to Net Neutrality
Price: Free! Words: 1,040. Language: English. Published: January 15, 2018 . Categories: Nonfiction » Politics & Current Affairs » Activism, Nonfiction » Politics & Current Affairs » Current affairs
A short guide to the drawbacks of the FCC's repeal of "Net Neutrality" in the last days of 2017, with a focus on how this negatively affects American voters on the right side of the political spectrum.
Chickens In Space
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 14,050. Language: English. Published: July 8, 2017 . Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera, Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
(2.50 from 2 reviews)
The Extra Solar Colonization And Planetary Exploitation Initiative planned for every possible contingency. Hot planets, cold planets. Worlds teeming with life, worlds dead and sterile. Abundant resources, scarce resources, and even hostile intelligent aliens. They planned for everything they expected to find. But they didn't plan for what they brought with them. They didn't plan on Biscuit.
The Silo
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 12,560. Language: English. Published: September 21, 2016 . Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic
(4.50 from 2 reviews)
The end of the world has come and gone, but life goes on regardless. Eric Wergo traded a 9-to-5 white collar management position for a sunrise-to-sunset job leading a salvage crew, so for him not that much has changed. But the latest farm the team has come to pick over isn't like the others, and Eric is starting to wonder just what his team has stumbled upon.
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 103,650. Language: English. Published: May 16, 2015 . Categories: Fiction » Adventure » Action, Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
Impossible Day turned the world upside down: People are flying, reading minds, changing the weather - and that's the tip of the iceberg. All Dean Cronin cared about was making rent this month, but now he can change the passage of time, and that's made him a target. Will his new Power give him the edge he needs to defeat villains, expose a conspiracy, and survive two very opinionated sisters?

Mike Laughrey's tag cloud

Smashwords book reviews by Mike Laughrey

  • The Post-Apocalyptic Primer on Dec. 14, 2014

    A primer is a reference book covering the most basic principles of the subject matter, and The Post-Apocalyptic Primer fits that definition very well. It compensates for not going very deep in any particular subject by covering areas most in-depth guides wouldn't touch upon at all. The skills assessment was an excellent addition - more survival guides and disaster prep manuals need to include such a section. Unfortunately, some parts do hold it back; the checklist of suggested information gathering for refugee camps would realistically be applied to every type of settlement, and the lack of instruction in the most basic survival skills (how to start a fire, how to purify water, how to navigate by stars and/or compass, etc.) is a bit jarring given the subject matter. The list of reference books at the end helps though. All in all, not a bad read and potentially very useful.
  • Death to Einstein!: Exposing Special Relativity's Fatal Flaws on Feb. 07, 2015

    An excellent, if a little bit disorganized, critique of not only Relativity but also the "cruft" that has built around it. The thought experiments reveal the underlying issues with Relativity as it is most commonly presented, which indicates that at best the theory itself is misunderstood by its own advocates, and at worst the theory is incomplete or incorrect and only explains physical and cosmological data within special cases. That Relativity and Quantum Theory mix about as well as oil and water is an established fact in the physics community so this book tips the scales of evidence in that direction. I could not be certain if the endorsement for a geocentric universe was sincere or just scientific satire, but ultimately it does not matter: The Geocentric model is built up and expressed in the same way that Relativity has been for so long. Evidence that supports it is mentioned early and often, evidence that does not is omitted or ignored or claimed invalid for some reason. Also, to accept it at face value will require a lot of mental gymnastics, but not nearly as many as accepting the mutually exclusive paradoxes of Relativity, which is actually a point in its favor! An excellent read, especially as an object lesson in the construction and presentation of scientific models.
  • Solar Power: Economic Disaster on March 21, 2015

    The author is diligent in showing his work, both in the mathematical sense and in the links to sources so that his numbers can be confirmed. However, he still bases his own arguments using that data on very specific assumptions. The first of these is that all the technologies would have to be compared on a utility basis, that is to say, tied into the existing utility distribution grid. The simple fact that the grid exists to connect power supplies at Point A to consumers at Point B incurs losses from long range transmission, maintenance of lines and towers, and the manufacture of replacement parts. The impact of off-grid solar, wind, hydro and other renewable power sources in the form of reduced demand, utility buybacks, or even the overhauling of today's aging infrastructure in favor of some model of "smart grid" is not examined. Thus a false dichotomy is created where solar and wind must be scaled up well past the points of diminishing returns in their present designs rather than being allowed to play to their own strengths. This false dichotomy occurs throughout the book: Hydroelectric power and dams are considered equivalent, but low head and micro-hydro systems don't need a massive reservoir. The speed the turbines reach is a function of the speed of the water - using the force of gravity and the pressure of a large reservoir is just one solution among many. The section on bio fuels and fossil fuels studiously ignores one of the key reasons fossil fuels became so useful in the first place (their portability) and using the same baseline for a central utility plant ignores the very important economic impact of vehicles and motorized transport even while complaining about vehicles greenhouse gas emissions. It defies belief that the author didn't know at that point he was comparing apples and oranges. The most exasperating problem with the arguments made, though, are the arguments that would have supported the author's position but never came up. Wind farms have an issue with birds being killed by the rotating blades - this is both a strike against their position as an environmentally friendly power source and an ongoing addition to the costs of maintenance. I could not find any mention of this, often called a "hidden cost" of wind power, anywhere in the text. This is just one of several omissions that raise the question of just how thorough the author's research was. The author did such a bad job making his case that when I started reading his book I was overwhelming in support of Thorium based nuclear power, but by the time I got to the section where he extolls its virtues, I found myself doubting both my sources and my judgement. After some rigorous double checking, my confidence is restored, but the fact remains that the author managed to completely undermine his core message in an attempt to present it as a superior option. That doesn't happen often outside of satire and parody, and I believe the author was earnestly serious instead of satirical. If he had just compared existing reactor costs and risks with those projected for various thorium reactor designs, he could have made his point easily enough. Instead, he had to take pot shots at other technologies, drawing inaccurate comparisons and undermining his credibility in doing so. This in turn undermined the credibility of the position he endorsed. As a valid argument for or against any given power system, this book is almost useless. It is, however, available for free as of this writing, and so I recommend it highly as an example of how not to compare competing ideas.
  • The New Age Speak to Plain English Dictionary on July 16, 2016

    I downloaded this book expecting one of two possible outcomes - serious commentary on the clash between the New Age movement and conventional belief systems, or biting satire of the social trends that grew out of the New Age movement. Either one would have been acceptable, but ultimately it fails on both counts. The main body of the text is, not to put too fine a point on it, a list of insults and name-calling and derision that is simply formatted to resemble first a dictionary and then a phrasebook. The humor itself is very low brow and unsophisticated, which combined with the tone of ridicule and elitism makes the whole book a chore to get through. And that's not even the biggest problem with it; the biggest problem is that the book is not coherent. One of the statements in the book, often repeated, is that the editor and contributors take great offense with the cultural appropriation of native tribal practices and their use in miscellaneous money-making schemes. While the New Age movement has no shortage of hucksters, grifters, cults and predatory individuals of other bents, the same is true of every cultural phenomenon throughout history. It's easy to criticize the New Age movement simply because it is the most recent example in living memory for most people, but the same thing happened with the Televangelists, the Spiritualist movement, the Christian Revivalists in their tents, the Catholic Church, and more than one scientific discovery including (perhaps especially) radioactivity. True fraud, true deception, has a very wide portfolio. Yet this book only concentrates on the narrow cross section between Native American cultures and the New Age movement, with a scattering of other subjects included in the periphery. So right away the title proclaims the book subject matter to be much more broad than it actually is. Within the introduction itself, there is another internal conflict in the subject matter. The New Age movement - referred to as Nuage in the text ostensibly as a means to reach people through shock value but in practice simply serves as a linguistic stumbling block - is accused first of being dangerous for all the classic reasons. These include physical, emotional, and even sexual abuse; economic exploitation; social isolation and control; and finally the opportunity cost argument that such movements waste people's time by getting them emotionally invested in something which produces no visible dividends. With the exception of that last accusation, which is a complaint that could be levied against any and every belief system regardless of its origin, these claims do have a certain amount of documented support. This doesn't make them unique - like I said before, fraud doesn't play favorites or consider any area off-limits - but the dangers and the damage done through carelessness and outright malice are real, serious problems. The author / editor immediately undermined this important point by deriding New Age practices and practitioners as silly. There is NOTHING silly about deprivation, mutilation, rape, murder, or being so isolated that one essentially becomes a prisoner in their own mind. "Humor as a defense" was mentioned early and often in the introduction, but humor can only blunt the emotional trauma of horror. It cannot erase or override it. By making this connection Mr. Carroll has revealed a contempt for other human beings in serious trouble that may or may not be shared by other members of the group that contributed much of the main body of text, New Age Frauds Plastic Shamans or NAFPS. This contempt is diametrically opposed to any claim of wanting to assist such people made elsewhere in the text, and indeed such claims may be made in jest or otherwise be facetious; sarcasm doesn't come across clearly in a text based format. This vacillation between a dangerous, destructive image of the New Age movement and a ridiculous, comical one is also quite damning, and resembles something Umberto Eco identified as a "continual shifting of rhetorical focus" whereby an enemy's portrayal alternates between being too strong and too weak. A Rhetorical Shift such as this indicates an extreme emotional involvement that precludes any objective evaluation of the subject matter. Not only does this cast a shadow of doubt over the entire thesis of the book itself, it combines with the choices of words in the text to make the contributors look and sound just as crazy and self-righteous as the people they profess to mock. This book was meant as a critique of the New Age practices specifically that grew out of adoption and modification of native tribal practices. Even if the title accurately reflected that goal, the main text failed to live up to that promise. If the ultimate intention truly was to steer people away from hucksters and con artists or help them recover after the fact, the information in the "Additional Sources" section at the very end should have been the main body of the text and dramatically expanded on, instead of being tacked on at the end like a footnote, and the overall tone should have been much more serious. On the other hand, if the book was meant as a humor book first and foremost, the authors REALLY need to step up their game. In its current incarnation the book makes a lazy, half-hearted attempt to do both at once, and doesn't do either one that well; the only people who would find the book useful or entertaining are the same people who worked together to write it, making it an exercise in literary masturbation. So if you do end up downloading it, be sure to wash your hands.
  • Sacred Geometry and Numerology on May 28, 2017

    This book has no actual content, it consists of about five pages in Adobe Digital Editions, including the cover, the title page, and an advertisement at the end for a website that makes ebooks. It might just be an error in formatting but there is nothing to compare it to because epub is the only download option. Not recommended until and unless the author fixes it.
  • The Truth About Simple Unhooked Living on July 07, 2017

    While there is a lot of useful advice in this book, all of it is buried beneath the author's political soapbox; separating the useful information from the ranting against the intrusion of government into the lives of private citizens becomes a chore very quickly. (It took me well over a year just to get through this book, and I've been known to read through books with 50k word counts in a weekend.) It is true that some places have written or unwritten rules against a lot of the practices of the DIY and off-grid lifestyles. That can't and shouldn't be avoided or glossed over. But this book definitely goes too far in the other direction; the first three chapters are more or less a political manifesto. All of this highlights a problem that might otherwise have gone unnoticed; with all the focus on how the government is getting in the way, there is very little practical advice on how to either work towards changing government policy to be less hostile to off-grid living or evading government scrutiny when using these strategies. Either one of those could have been a complete chapter on its own, and there is definitely a demand for that kind of information. By the same token, the emphasis on the potential legal perils of living unhooked from the grid does as much to discourage those who might otherwise be interested in it as the actual physical and logistical challenges involved; in other words, the author is scaring away her potential audience. In Life After Doomsday by Dr. Bruce Clayton, he recalled going to a meeting of disarmament activists during the Cold War and finding their persuasion methods to be sorely lacking at best, and counterproductive at worst, and the author makes the same mistakes here by spending too much time on the negative. If you are the type of person that is angry all the time about things you feel that you can't control or change, then you'll probably like this book even if you don't actually plan to use the information inside, because of the sense of solidarity. If you just want to get right to brass tacks when it comes to living without utilities... well, you're going to have to do some digging. Bring a shovel and some knee high rubber boots.
  • The Public Schools Aren’t Broken – Destroying Children & America is What They Were Designed to Do on Aug. 20, 2017

    I purchased this book with the intent of comparing its contents to several other books written about the limitations and flaws of public education. What I got was a collection of solipsistic "essays" only loosely connected by a common theme. If the author was being satirical, I would be giving this book five stars as a masterful portrayal of a man so far up his own ass that he would technically qualify as a pocket dimension. Unfortunately, in this case, one can not only judge a book by its cover, but dispense with everything inside of it. While there are numerous drawbacks and limitations to public schooling, Perry either uses them as springboards for his own complaints, or ignores them entirely. These real and serious issues include the disconnect between what is being taught and how learning is quantified, the social pressures of school and how they relate to violent trends in and out of the classroom, the disparity in funding (both where it is allocated and who is paying for it) and so on. Perry's complaints, on the other hand, can be neatly divided into three categories, though he repeats himself with different words a few times to disguise the fact: 1. Secular Instead of Religious Teachings, 2. Having To Pay Taxes, and 3. People Telling The Author What To Do Instead Of Doing What He Tells Them To Do. The various "essays" jumped all over the place, from a diatribe against homosexuality, an extremely invested defense of private gun ownership, and most bizarre of all an indignant complaint about how jails are kept well maintained and funded (as opposed to deteriorating buildings that are easier to escape from) and coddle prisoners when they should be put to death or beaten. A discerning reader might wonder whether or not Perry's opinions on inmate treatment would change if he was arrested for tax evasion, which given his political views and confrontational personality, seems like it will happen sooner rather than later. One key issue that he kept coming back to was the emphasis on homeschooling, and more importantly, how he kept drawing attention to perceived criticisms of homeschooling, such as concerns over a lack of socialization skills. A much more important issue that was brushed off on the few occasions that it came up was the all important issue of time. Many families have both parents work because that is an economic necessity for survival. Even assuming a best case scenario where the children do not explore or get into mischief unsupervised (that is to say, a scenario where children do not act like children) there is only so much time at the end of the working day when parents would have to devote to any lessons, and that is assuming they had the energy for it after either mind numbing clerical work, back breaking physical labor, or emotionally draining uncertainty that comes with an unstable economy. Paying specialists to perform work that the customers do not have the time to do themselves is one of the fundamental elements of civilization, and I'd love to see Mr. Perry explain how just closing all schools by the end of normal business hours would actually work in the real world, as opposed to his wish fulfillment fantasy world that other people can't share. Actually I'd settle for statistics and trends to actually support his claims about public schools as well, but it would seem that he did not even have the creativity to make any up. Every other book I've read critiquing the public school system has done that, some more honestly and accurately than others. Perry doesn't even bother with a single footnote. His attempts to direct the flow of various fictional arguments in the direction he wants works only with an emotional bias in his favor, one compatible with his own sense of impotent frustration. This definitely ties into his emphasis near the end of the book (and on his author page) on what a Real Man should be, and how adamant he is that he is one of a dying breed of such Real Men that stand up for what they believe in and take no shit from anyone and definitely are not still angry about being told by their mothers that they couldn't have a toy they wanted, or being rejected when they asked a cute girl out, or something else that made them feel small and unimportant and humiliated. Which leads inevitably to the elephant in the room: If he's a Real Man, then why didn't he write a Real Book instead of whatever the hell this is? Actual information content in this book regarding the pros and cons of public schooling is nonexistent. I can only recommend it to other people in the author's demographic groups, meaning angry men who don't understand why their god given external genitalia don't entitle them to be automatically right about everything.
  • Alternative Stirling Engines For Free Energy Applications And How To Go About Building Them And Using Them To Generate Electricity on Oct. 26, 2017

    An important book for anyone contemplating going off grid or just trying to lower their electric bill. Not only is the theory behind a Stirling cycle heat engine explained in detail, but multiple examples are described and explained, some with dramatically different hardware configurations. A Stirling engine exists for just about every occasion and application, and the low cost of production, low threshold of construction skill needed, and low cost of fuel (any heat source will do) renders the engine's inefficiencies completely moot. This is especially true when the engine designs are coupled with solar power in the form of focusing mirrors, heat sinks, and other simple technology. Stirling engines are a technology whose time has come again, and this guide is invaluable for anyone who wants to get in on the ground floor.
  • Kundalini for Beginners on Feb. 25, 2018

    A thorough primer on the elements of kundalini yoga and the metaphysics that are associated with it. While I don't personally believe in it, I found this book to be a very useful reference on the subject for a story I am writing. If it has a weakness, it is that it does not go into nearly as much detail as to the historical origins of the practice as it could have. Given the intended target audience is people actually trying to put it into practice, this doesn't really detract from the book itself. Another reviewer called this book a "commercial" but I did not notice any sales pitches, product endorsements, product links, or attempts to "hype" the reader in the first few chapters. It's just information on a specific niche subject. It does refer frequently to another book, but both this book and the one being mentioned are currently free so it hardly qualifies as any sort of sales attempt. (That other book does not currently appear to be in English though; this may change later.)
  • Hellions: Raising Spoiled Brats Into Dangerous Criminals on Feb. 25, 2018

    An excellent reference guide for how to raise children to be dangerous criminals. I was especially impressed by the simplicity of the methods described. In brief, if children obey their parents out of fear, they may rebel against their parents once they realize that those parents are ordinary human beings just like everyone else. Likewise, if they are raised to fear an invisible entity that is always watching and judging and will punish them for any transgressions, eventually seeing so much evil in the world go unpunished will make them realize that the holy text they were raised on is an ordinary book, just like their parents were ordinary human beings. Freed of any abstract conceptions of right and wrong enforced by the book, and their empathy stunted by being taught to prioritize the lessons of a culture thousands of years old instead of learning to understand the people that live today, these children will grow into dangerous threats to society at large, exactly what the title of the book advertises! Of course, if you want to raise children who WON'T become serial killers, mass shooters, rapists or similar scum, simply do the exact opposite of the advice in this book.
  • How to build your own mobile space colony and why it should be done now. on April 04, 2018

    This work is an interesting juxtaposition of a good idea expressed in direct clear language where possible and more technical terms when it was necessary, but a very poor sampling of morality tales and fables. The two stories mentioned in the advertising blurb are presented before the technical dissertation. The first is a slice of life segment that alternates between different perspectives, and the formatting does not always make it clear when the narrative is shifting from character to character. The second uses a "parallel universe" convention following two different versions of the same man, one who gets involved in creating orbital habitats and one who does not; the former survives and thrives and becomes an icon for humanity, and the latter dies a horrific death after a long, painful, humiliating string of injustices. I can overlook the formatting inconsistencies in the first story, and to a lesser extent the second. If those were the only flaws in the stories, I would not even ding this thing a single star. However, both stories run afoul of two major narrative shortcomings, each one of which was enough to merit taking off a star. The first shortcoming was an alternating portrayal of the "opposition" in both stories, generally speaking those with lots of money and a vested interest in business as usual. They oppose the space ventures right up until they can get a slice of the pie, up until the people involved are beyond the reach of the 1% up in earth orbit and later interplanetary space. The narrative shifts between portraying these groups as either too strong or too weak, and only in the first story is this portrayed in a realistic fashion, where one character points out that some advantages come with corresponding disadvantages. In the case of both stories, it stretches the bounds of credibility that some company, government, or other private organization wouldn't use a mixture of social engineering and network penetration to make off with all the technical secrets of the "rocket ecologist club" after they did all the hard work of figuring it out, and then start mass producing in their own backyards to catch up, out compete, claim the stars, and - most importantly - taking out the competition by destroying habitats and facilities until they were the only game in town. Instead, the protagonist in that timeline goes off the rails at least once and probably more that once in order to get around economic, political, and social bottlenecks, and gets away with it simply because he is beyond the reach of those whose industries have been disrupted. Other stories have made this same argument, but the only case I know of in which the setting completely justifies the inability of people on earth to reach those in space is the backstory for Civilization:Beyond Earth in the form of the Inflection Point, a point of resource exhaustion beyond which earth no longer has the energy and material needed to create a space vehicle capable of escaping the gravity well. While the second story alludes to this, it's an afterthought after many habitats had been constructed and launched. The idea of orbital or interplanetary space being a safe zone or instant win condition is not always warranted in the setting, especially when habitats are pretty big targets for direct energy or kinetic weapons. The second shortcoming is the same phenomenon mentioned in Life After Doomsday by Dr. Bruce Clayton. Dr. Clayton went to several nuclear disarmament meetings during the Cold War and was repulsed by the content of what was shown at these meetings (especially graphic depictions of radiation burns) as well as the pessimistic attitudes of the organizers. He commented that many people came to these meetings because they were already motivated to do something, but left them depressed because it seemed like nothing could be done. Mr. Sarll's stories are doing the exact same thing; while the disarmament groups claimed that humanity had a choice between disarmament and nuclear annihilation, Sarll is presenting readers with a choice between space travel and environmental cataclysm. The problem with this kind of hard sell is that going too hard makes the "mark" defensive. In the case of the disarmament activists, those that did not go all-in with the group's political pressure on government at the time likely went home and waited for nuclear death; Dr. Clayton wrote Life After Doomsday for those seeking a third option. By going all-in with the Escape-Or-Die, Lady Or The Tiger setup, a lot of readers who might otherwise be interested in looking into the technical aspects of mass produced space habitats will be too put off by the tone of the second story to ever get that far. Much like with the disarmament meetings, a lot of people will read these stories and take away the messages that there isn't enough time to escape ecological catastrophe and stick to business as usual; eat drink and be merry, for in a few decades we will all die. I also think that the depiction of a world where scarce resources were increasingly and draconianly preserved for the benefits of the elite would have many, MANY more riots, more resistance groups, and least some successes, but that may simply be a cultural convention; the author is British, "stiff upper lip" and "keep calm and carry on" and all that, while I'm American, "don't tread on me" and "from my cold dead hands" and so on. Chalk it up to differences of opinion and cultural expectations. Had the technical paper on mass producing orbital habitats and all the technology needed to make them - launch vehicles, ion drive engines, and everything in between - been published by itself, I probably would have given it a glowing recommendation. As it stands, I still think people should read this, but I advise folks to skip the fiction and head straight to the nitty-gritty technical details.
  • Side Hustle Gigs-A Step by Step Guide to a Profitable Side Business on Feb. 10, 2019

    This book is advertised as a guide to side jobs and gigs, but the actual content within is nothing that could not be put together by somebody after less than an hour of Google searches on the subject. That information is not very comprehensive, and the text formatting is almost nonexistent, which makes it difficult to read and process. It may be intended to be general so it covers the widest possible ranges of jobs, but instead it doesn't provide enough useful information in any particular area to justify the price tag. And considering that it only cost 0.99 USD, that's saying something. It's a good idea, and the rough framework is there, but the author didn't commit to it. If there's an expanded and updated version in the future, I might risk a few dollars on it, but I can't endorse this particular book its current form.
  • Homosexuality Demons on March 25, 2019

    All this book consists of is the author blaming their youthful indiscretions on outside forces, from abusive parental figures to various subcultures. At no point is any attempt made to accept personal responsibility for either mistakes or personal victories, and the author is clearly relying on their religious conviction now in the same way that they say they relied on alcohol in the past; as a futile attempt to escape from their own personal flaws and limitations. Despite the title, at no point in this book does the author provide instructions or guidelines for actually trafficking with Gay Demons, either Banishment or Summoning. Not worth the time or the money.
  • Sad! Donald 'Biff' Trump Is President on May 08, 2019

    The only problem with this book is that it does not include blueprints for a time machine so that the reader can go back and correct this Darkest Timeline we seem to be living in presently, but that is a specialty subject all by itself. It is otherwise one hundred percent accurate. It's common knowledge that Donald Trump was used as the template - not merely an inspiration in theme and character, but as a real life example - for countless corrupt businessmen in media created in the 1980s. Biff Tannen in Alternate Hill Valley 1985 is certainly the most iconic example. New information about Trump committing Tax Fraud has come to light since this book has been published, with the information coming out of the state of New York as opposed to the Department of the Treasury or Internal Revenue Service. No word yet if anyone has discovered a safe with a sports almanac locked inside.
  • The Bug Out Gardening Guide: Growing Survival Garden Food When It Absolutely Matters on July 20, 2020

    The core premise of Mr. Foster's book is pretty clear: In the event of a major emergency, people may have to evacuate, or "Bug Out" to use the popular parlance, and once they find a new place to set up shop they will be forced to start almost from scratch. Even people with plenty of advanced warning and cargo space can't take everything with them, such as an established garden, so the problem Foster tackles is how to get a reliable independent food supply established before all the canned goods and MREs are eaten. Foster, to his credit, hits some very important points in his work: The importance of knowing how to garden BEFORE it becomes a matter of life and death, the necessity of fertilizer when a gardener is forced to work with less than ideal soil, and the philosophy behind permaculture gardening that allows a survivor to grow more calories while burning less calories. On the other hand, these three points just mentioned were spread across four different chapters / sections of the book. Filling the space in between were constant reminders of the dangers of emergency conditions, so frequent that I can easily see casual readers giving up on the idea of starting a garden entirely because even if they manage to grow something they won't live long enough to eat it. I don't consider this a personal failing of Mr. Foster's methods or his writing style, but rather a fundamental flaw throughout survivalist and disaster prepper literature as a whole; so much emphasis is placed on conflict and danger and difficulty that actual survival becomes an afterthought. Likewise, almost half of the first chapter is completely lacking in practical survival information, strategies, or advice, instead shifting back and forth between an attempt to convince non-preppers of the validity of prepping in general and a libertarian's worst case scenario thought experiment of government overreach in a crisis. For the type of people who would actually be interested in this type of book, this is a complete waste of space and word count because A) they already believe in the importance of disaster prepping and don't need convincing, and B) they almost certainly have the same "when it comes to government less is more" political views as the author. Meanwhile, in the twenty two pages that this manifesto took up, there were MAYBE nine paragraphs with useful information about plant varieties, growing conditions, soil quality, and food preparation. One might as well pan for gold in a bathtub. If the whole book was like that, it wouldn't be worth buying, but Foster gets back on track later; the sections on fertilizer are long on practical (if sometimes unconventional) information and strategies, short on political theory. Several chapters are long lists of different gardening practices and useful crops, much more to the point and with fewer anecdotes and asides. A potentially useful addition to a survival library, but too limited in its scope (and roundabout in its presentation) to be the backbone of a food security plan.