Ostium Mini Episode – EMU #1: In the Beginning

Welcome to the Ostium offseason. In the first mini episode you get to meet one David Fothergill Attenborough Windsor, host of the new show Enigmatic Mysteries of the Unknown, talking about his discovery of something very strange.

Written and performed by Alex C. Telander.

If you want more Ostium, why not become a patron on our Patreon page, where for just $2 a month you’ll get access to an exclusive brand new mini episode every two weeks (and this includes all through the offseason); and during the regular season of the show you’ll get access to new episodes a full week before everyone else. Alternatively, you could also make a one-time donation and help support Ostium on our website.

And if you haven’t already, please leave us a review on iTunes or whichever app you listen to your podcasts on. Why not join me in reviewing one of the shows you listen to every #AudioDramaSunday.

If you’re looking for some other podcasts to listen be sure to check out our recs page.

See you in two weeks with another mini episode!

“New York: 2140” by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit, 2017)


Reading a nice, long Kim Stanley Robinson novel is like going on a great vacation: you have a decent idea where you’re going, you know it’s going to be for a while, you know you’re going to get up to some great adventures and have a great time, and you never want it to end. In his latest book, New York: 2140, from the cover and the title, the reader might think they have a good idea what they’re about to get stuck into, but this is a Robinson novel after all, so the reader may get a few things right, while others will be shocking and thrilling and completely surprising.

Most science fiction novels involving a distant and changed future would begin with a long description on how this world got to be this way, but this author does it a little differently, introducing the main characters with P.O.V. chapters that educate the reader on the character and his or her background, and indirectly on the world, how it is and a little about how it came to be this way. Eventually there are chapters from a somewhat omniscient character looking to tell the reader how things went how over the last hundred and fifty years. In this way, Robinson eases the reader into his 600+ page book, like a multi-layer delicious cake where each layer entices you that little bit more.

Let’s introduce our lead players. There are the two friends, coders, who hatch an idea to shake up the entire world economy, and then they just disappear. There’s the market trader guy who does magical things with stocks and shares and makes plenty of money doing it; he’s used to getting things his way, money, women, power. There’s the internet star who travels around in her zeppelin trying to save animals and get herself on camera with or without clothes for her millions of viewers. A building super from Eastern Europe who is much more than that and excels at solving problems. There’s the cop, a detective, New York’s finest, who is always drowning in work, but that’s because she’s damn good at her job. And then there are the two boys who appear to be orphans and not registered anywhere, and they’ve just found something buried under the ground, beneath the waters, under the long stares of the semi-submerged skyscrapers. The characters find themselves drawn together in a most unusual journey.

New York: 2140 is a look at a future world that has suffered a lot, as seen and experienced through a unique group of characters who find themselves unexpectedly drawn together. It’s a complex, diverse and fascinating group with an incredible backdrop of a world that is constantly in flux. And then there’s the hurricane . . .

Originally written on April 28, 2017 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of New York: 2140 from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“Gringo” By Dan “Tito” Davis

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Dan “Tito” Davis comes from a town in South Dakota that’s so small everyone knows their neighbor’s cat’s name. But once he got out, he made some noise. While at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, he started manufacturing White Crosses, aka speed, and soon had the Banditos Motorcycle Club distributing ten million pills a week. After serving a nickel, he got into the weed game, but just when he got going, he was set up by a childhood friend. Facing thirty years, Davis slipped into Mexico, not knowing a word of Spanish, which began a thirteen-year odyssey that led him to an underground hideout for a MedellIn cartel, through the jungles of the Darien Gap, the middle of Mumbai’s madness, and much more.

From the San Francisco Book Review:

We’ve all heard it said that truth is stranger than fiction. I can’t say this is always true, having read some very strange pieces of unconventional fiction, but I can say that truth is sometimes just as wild and exciting as fiction, and Gringo is the perfect example of that.

Dan Davis, also called Tito, has lived an extraordinary life, and I am lucky enough that a man with the skills of Peter Conti was willing to help him tell his story. The book opens with what I consider the literary variant of a television teaser: a prologue which shows where the author’s life will go, featured just before a first chapter, which goes back to the author’s childhood. While at times this may seem like a cheap trick, when used effectively, it can stir excitement and maintain the reader’s interest. This prologue falls into the latter camp, and all through the first few chapters, I found myself wondering just what would lead Tito to flee to Central America and where his life would go from there.

That’s not to say that I skimmed through those chapters, looking eagerly for the time when the action would pick up. While I was eager to reach the part of his life which would feature his flight from the law, those early chapters were far from wasted. They gave me insight into Tito’s personality, allowing me to understand who he is and how he reached the part of his life that would form the endpoint of the book.

The story begins with Tito – still merely Dan Davis then – as a young Midwestern man, looking for some way to make money. He settles on selling drugs, and from a little ambition, a little know-how, and some good luck in knowing the right people, he finds himself with a nascent drug empire on his hands. This part of the book alone could make a compelling tale, but the story continues from there. Betrayed by someone he thought he could trust, Davis finds himself hunted by the government, and he abandons his family to flee the country, making his way to Central America. Once there, he does not merely lie low but sets about building a life for himself.

Tito has lived a fascinating life, one well worth reading about, and I was enthralled by every page. Tito’s ambition and know-how lead him far past his humble Midwestern beginnings, and his rise and fall made a tale well worth reading, one which I would recommend to anyone.

“The Hunger Saint” by Olivia Kate Cerrone

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The Hunger Saint is a story of hope and survival set in post-WWII Italy. Hailed by Kirkus as “a well- crafted and affecting literary tale,” this historical novella follows the journey of Ntoni, a twelve-year-old boy forced to labor in Sicily’s sulfur mines to support his family after his father’s untimely death. Faced with life-threatening working conditions, Ntoni must choose between escaping the mines and abandoning his family. As a series of unforeseen events soon complicate his plans, Ntoni realizes that all is not what it seems and to trust anyone might prove to be as fatal as being trapped inside of a cave-in. The Hunger Saint draws from years of historical research and was informed by the oral histories of former miners still living in Sicily today.

From the Seattle Book Review: 

In the sulfur mines of Sicily, just a few years after World War II, a teenage boy named Ntoni performs backbreaking labor to pay off a loan given to his family. The work runs in his family: his father was also a sulfur miner until his death, though it isn’t from filial pride that Ntoni takes up this work. It’s from necessity. His brother and sister are too young to work, and his mother must remain at home to take care of them. At an age modern American readers would consider far too young, Ntoni has been forced to take on the responsibility of going into the mines to feed his family.

Ntoni’s story, and that of the other carusi – the name for the children who work in the mines – is based in reality, which only makes it that much harder at times to read. That also makes it a more powerful story. I found myself caught up in the tragedy of loss and hope, of desperation and despair. Cerrone’s writing at once fills the reader’s mind with details of post-World War II Sicily and pulls no punches regarding the struggles the carusi must go through. It is a delicate balance to write richly about a setting but not to use the description to cushion the reader from the harshness of the characters’ lives, but Cerrone manages it deftly.

Most of the time, when I recommend a book, it’s because I have an audience in mind that I know would enjoy reading it. The Hunger Saint, however, is not quite the sort of book that I think people would exactly enjoy. I do, however, think there are people who would want to read it, even though it isn’t a light read to make someone smile. It’s a good read for anyone interested in Sicilian history, for a start, or anyone who finds they gravitate toward books about the plight of the working class. The carusi and the sulfur mines are a part of history that I was unaware of, and if that’s the case for you, then I would deeply recommend this novella.

“The Salad Oil King” by M. G. Crisci

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The Salad Oil King  is a uniquely American tale of Greed-Gone-Mad. Inspired by real events that took place in the 1940-60’s. An unpretentious, diminutive Manhattan-born high school drop-out named Alfonso Gravenese morphs into one of the great scam artists in American financial history.

Watch “Fonso” graduate from a modest childhood scam into an executive who initially steals hundreds of millions of dollars from Federal domestic and international aid programs. And ultimately becomes a cunning entrepreneur who creates a $14 billion Wall Street scam that halts NYSE trading and destroys two venerable brokerage firms.

Along the way, you meet an unforgettable collection of friends, enemies and accomplices. Notably benevolent Mobsters, a jealous and compliant wife, a vicious yet oddly romantic right-hand man, and a collection of opportunistic Government and Church officials.

And a surprising ending that will leave you wondering.

 

From the San Francisco Book Review:

There’s something about criminal stories that commands our attention. Maybe it’s the chance to look behind the curtain of illegality and see just how someone can manage to pull off a wild scheme. Maybe it’s the curiosity of wondering what goes through someone’s mind and brings them to commit actions the rest of us would never dream of. Whichever the case, the story of Alfonso “Fonso” Gravanese has all the elements needed to be a classic tale of American crime, and it spins out from a master storyteller.

Born in Little Italy, Fonso starts off learning how to con early from watching his father stuff fish full of ice before weighing them to sell to customers. His father’s ambition is to get a little extra money for the family, but Fonso’s dreams are greater, and he has the passion to pursue them. When his father moves from selling fish to having a butcher shop, he finds ways to get more money from that, too, even studying meat carving, so he can find a way to get more meat from each cut and more money from each animal. After his father’s death, he moves on to bigger and better things, finding loopholes in laws that allow him to gain more and more money for himself.||From the first chapters of The Salad Oil King, I was completely hooked. It’s a book that pulls you into a world not only of domestic corruption, but of international politics, one that sprang from The Great Depression to World War II and beyond, showing how one man can take advantage of foreign troubles to line his own pocket. Personal betrayals and struggles only add to the book’s power, as Fonso struggles not only to keep himself on the top when it comes to business, but also to keep his friends and allies.

I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in how corruption can shape history.

“The Device Trial” by Tom Breen

New York attorney Brian Bradford was severely injured and hospitalized after the violent confrontation at the end of the first novel, The Complaint. Having not learned his lesson from the first litigation against ZeiiMed, he decides upon his return to work to commence a second lawsuit against the billion dollar health insurance company. He agreed to file the suit after meeting the elderly Martha Dudley and learning that she was dying from a defective hip replacement device manufactured by a subsidiary of ZeiiMed. To obtain evidence that ZeiiMed knew of the defects, Brian must engage in illegal and unethical conduct that once again results in a life and death struggle with John Edison, the CEO of ZeiiMed. In preparing for trial against ZeiiMed, Brian realizes he has little chance of success without the invaluable assistance of his colleague Mary and his dear friend Meadhbh. Together they form a team that will hopefully bring ZeiiMed to its knees in a high profile trial in lower Manhattan. A creative plan of sexual diversion is implemented to provide Brian with critical inculpatory documents hidden by ZeiiMed in a masterful deception. ZeiiMed, of course, refuses to accept defeat at trial and unleashes a storm of violence on Brian and the women he cherishes. It’s up to Brian to win both inside and outside the Courtroom, despite ZeiiMed’s best efforts to destroy anyone in its path to victory.

The Device Trial was a finalist in the 5th Annual Beverly Hills International Book Awards.

San Francisco Book Review:

The Device Trial by Tom Breen takes readers into a world of sketchy businessmen and lawyers, teetering on the line between right and wrong from beginning to end. Lawyer Brian Bradford has just won a billion dollar lawsuit against medical company, ZeiiMed headed, at the time, by John Edison. However, his victory in the courtroom came at a high personal cost, and revenge now drives him to make Edison pay personally. A fight in Central Park one night lands both in the hospital with serious injuries. As both men heal and go about their lives, with a deep disdain for one another that could come to a head at any moment, Bradford comes across another possible lawsuit against MendMed, a company owned by ZeiiMed. This involves a device for those needing hip replacements and its possible defects. Bradford and his associate, Mary, take on the case. Justice is wanted by all, both in and out of the courtroom. Who will win and who will survive is the biggest question of all.

The Device Trial is a thrilling suspense novel from beginning to end. Well written and engaging, the storyline is fast-paced and will keep the reader’s attention from the first page to the last. The characters are well developed and add to the novel as a whole. Breen does a great job taking the topic of medical devices and their purposes, as well as medical terminology, and makes them easy to read without taking away from the story’s overall plot and pace. Breen also does a fantastic job of taking readers into the courtroom setting and doing the same. I am giving this novel a solid 5-star rating. Anyone who is a fan of thrillers, suspense and medical and/or legal novels should definitely read The Device Trial.

The Hunter: Awakening by Nicholas Arriaza

The Hunter: Awakening, is the first of a series of novels that will explore the nature of good and evil and the question of redemption: Is it available to those who have perpetrated great evil? Not long after the theft of a leather-bound book from a hidden hillside tomb in LA, a young hiker inadvertently awakens something fearsome that has been laid to rest some two hundred years ago. Soon after an emaciated, amnesiac man falls from a cliffside trail into the backyard of young, pregnant, neurosurgeon Melisa Castro. The young doctor feels compelled to help the “John Doe” regain his memory. Meanwhile a vampire who no longer has a hunger for blood comes seeking to rectify the awakening only to find himself in the middle of a power struggle within the family Melisa’s fiancé Chris leads. Chris has yet to tell Melisa of his true nature and the fact, she is carrying a werewolf’s baby.

From the San Francisco Book Review:

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to the next in the series. The plot was great. Who doesn’t love a story about werewolves and vampires? If you don’t, you should. Even though Melisa was the main character, I actually liked Aaron, her future brother-in-law, and Ranald the best. Ranald, the sarcastic vampire, was an enjoyable character to read about. I hope that if I ever become one of the undead, I can still keep it light like he does. Aaron makes his brother, Chris, who is the father of Melisa’s child, just look bad. He’s willing to go as far as needed to protect her and her unborn child.

There were some very small errors, which can be somewhat typical of eBooks, and that is the version I read. There were a few grammatical errors, and one time a different name, which was obviously a spelling error, was used for a character who was referenced a few times. Otherwise, it was very well-written, and the story flowed nicely. It left you wanting more. I look forward to finding out what happened to the Hunter, what it’s going to be like for Melisa as she develops her gifts and has her son, what happened to Ranald, and if Melisa will marry Aaron instead of Chris.

Nicholas Arriaza has worked as a pizza maker, an electrician, a carpenter, a luxury home electronics salesman, and an owner operator of a successful luxury custom home theater design company. He is now a stay at home dad and fantasy writer. He lives with his wife, their infant son, and Pit-Bull Basil in Los Angeles, CA. THE HUNTER: AWAKENING is his first published novel. He is currently working on the second novel of the saga.