M Thomas Apple Author Page

Science fiction, actual science, history, and personal ranting about life, the universe, and everything

Adam’s Stepsons

April 19, 2017
MThomas

 

Reviewed by the Hungry Monster!

Three stars…because he wanted more!

“Adam’s Stepsons is a fun addition to the long canon of science fiction that dares to ask the “what if” of the future. It also seeks to ask the “should we, if we can” question that not enough science fiction is retrospective enough to ask. A good read for any science fiction lover, especially of the Heinlein or Asimov variety.”

Source: Adam’s Stepsons

Thoughts on the eve of tomorrow

November 8, 2016
MThomas

As I sit here in front of my computer late at night, on the verge of the 2016 US presidential election, I’m struck by the choice I had to make. Two different versions of a future US society: one that invites multidiversity and multiethnicity in all their chaotic, unpredictable combinations, and one that shuts the door and preserves a traditional us vs them, insider vs outsider mentality.

By all rights, I should support the latter. I’m from a small town of less than 3,000 inhabitants, close to 99.99% white, deep in the heart of Upstate New York. I grew up surrounded by people who basically looked like me, enjoyed camping and hiking, canoeing and fishing, playing baseball and football and video games. Driving. A lot. I did yard work when I was old enough to get my working papers (back then, you didn’t get your social security number until you applied for it after age 14). In the spring, I helped my father in the garden. In the summer I mowed lawns. In the fall I raked leaves. In the winter I shoveled driveways. In high school, I had a part-time at a local pizza place, then at McDonald’s, then washed dishes in a nearby town. All our customers were white. All of them spoke English. It was all just fine, everybody looking the same and acting the same. Everybody just like me. Continue Reading

Stories from next to the grave

September 10, 2016
MThomas

img_0719In April, my grandmother died. She was my last grandparent.

In August, I was finally able to visit her grave. Anyone who is living overseas for an extended period of time (or permanently, as I probably am) will tell you how difficult it is to have a sense of closure at the death of a loved one. Particularly a close family member.

But as we were standing there, gazing down at the names of my great-grandparents (whom I had barely known) and my grandfather and grandmother (whom I had known very well from a young age), it wasn’t just a sense of closure I was seeking.

It was a sense of history. Of stories.

When the three cars of relatives arrived at the cemetary — myself, my wife, my two daughters; my parents and one younger brother and sister (I have eight siblings in total), one of my aunts and uncles (I have at least twenty…yes, it’s complicated…) an interesting thing happened.

We all started telling stories. Maybe it’s the Irish in us (Bushnell, Connally, O’Leary, and Dougherty, among others). But telling stories has always come naturally to people in my family, as natural as eating and breathing.

My uncle started it. Stories about my grandfather when he was in the Navy during World War II (he never left Florida).

My aunt followed. Stories about my grandfather when he was growing up. Stories about my grandmother when she was the same age as my cousin. (A recently discovered photograph showed her to be almost identical in appearance, too. Scary, that.)

My father continued (with a little prodding from me) with a story from when I was a child. (This is how I found out that the United Methodist Church-owned apartment building I had lived in as a young child had been and has been occupied by family members for at least four generations.)

When I mentioned my intention to write a book of non-fiction about my grandparents and their generation — I’m thinking of calling it “My Three Grandfather” — the stories came fast and furious.

Right next to my grandparents’ grave.

There we were, in the middle of the afternoon, in the middle of a centuries-old cemetary overlooking the Hudson River Valley (near HVCC, as a matter of fact), telling stories about the dead, with the dead. With the living.

Stories aren’t just all that’s left. Stories are what we always had, and have, and will have.

Eat your heart out, Washington Irving.

Notes from the Nineties: The Four Teeth of the Apocrypha

March 21, 2016
MThomas

This is the fourth preview of my upcoming collection of short stories and poems, Notes from the Nineties. In the first part, I explained the background behind the first story and poem pair, Cois Fharriage and Ag an gCrosaire. In the second part, I took a look at some of my experiences in Japan that informed Asian Dreams and Training the Mountain Warrior. In the third part, I delved into the “true story” of The Lost Bunny Shrine of Annandale.

teethToday marks the first day of spring, as well as the start of the Easter Week. And while it is the end of Spring Break for some schools in North America, it’s still spring break for others…and it was, in fact, around this time of year back in 1996 that the seeds of “The Four Teeth of the Apocrypha” were planted. Like teeth.

That remark alone should let you know that this is not a typical story (if the title hadn’t already tipped you off by now). Continue Reading

New book notice

February 5, 2016
MThomas

Time for a book release party…

Notes3I’m putting the finishing touches on an anthology of short stories and poems, some of which date alllll the way back to 1992. Pre-SNS. Pre-email, even. Scary stuff.

A few come from my undergraduate Senior Project. A couple from my MFA thesis (the main part of which became Approaching Twi-Night). Another handful were used to apply to said MFA program. Aside from two that were published in university literary journals, the poems have basically never seen the light of day. A couple of the stories did appear in previous versions elsewhere.

The stories are meant to provoke, to inspire, to draw a contrast between aspects of life in Upstate, out of state, and overseas, to see the world through different eyes…to challenge perceptions. And naturally, to make you laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time. Readers should find something to interest them, no matter their reading preference. That, in my humble opinion, is one of the biggest benefits of daring varying writing styles.

This space will be updated from now until the book release with notes on the stories — some shorter, some longer — but the poems I leave to the reader’s interpretation.

Hope you look forward to it!


Click here or on the tab above for the Notes from the Nineties page.

New Year’s at the Dojo

January 30, 2016
MThomas

This past Sunday, my fellow Shorinji Kempo kenshi and I held our dojo’s “New Spring Law Meeting” (terrible translation of shinshun hokai; basically, “New Year’s Ceremony”). We usually hold it on the second Sunday of January, but delayed it this year due to everyone’s busy work schedules. The ceremony took place after a special three-hour intensive practice for higher level practitioners (we use the term “kenshi,” similar to those who do judo, who use the term “judoka,” or karate, “karate-ka”). No central heat in Japan, below zero temperatures…no problem. Body heat was more than enough.

As with most new year ceremonies in Japan, our ceremony includes one person (this year, the woman in the picture above) reading out a carefully prepared speech on a long horizontal paper folded many times, the contents of which summarize the events of the previous year and then end with a promise to work hard for the upcoming year. This is followed by an exhortation from the shisho (master) for us to do our best and work together to achieve our goals. The ceremony was longer this year because it was the 50th anniversary of the dojo foundation. Only top-level kenshi attend, which is a little disappointing; out of 80 members, only a handful can attend. Continue Reading

BEA 2015 and Why I’m Not There (But My Book Is!)

May 30, 2015
MThomas

Yikes. It’s been over two months since I posted something. Bad writer, bad writer.

Well, that’s what work will do to you. My book is being promoted at the Book Expo America (BEA) in New York City this week, but I’m not there…because I live in Japan. And, of course, because the Japanese academic year just started. No, really, it did. The year begins with the fiscal year, in April, and the first term ends in late July/early August. Much as I’d love to visit the US, and especially New York, it’s just not possible right now…but not to worry, the whirlwind book signing / relative-visiting trip will come in August, just in time for the end of the Glens Fall Dragons season (ideally).

Aaaand, baseball season started, and I returned to the traditional Mets fan high-low-very low-damn them again-why do I torture myself every year with this-ah, hell, they’re getting better, I guess-remember 1986? cycle of vicarious baseball watching/listening/reading games whenever I can life. The 13-hour time difference makes for a challenging sleep schedule.

So, yeah, that’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it. Now, who’s up for a game of Parrises squares?

High school baseball here costs how much??

March 3, 2015
MThomas

Big news from my university’s affiliated high school this year: the high school baseball team was chosen to enter the national Spring Invitational Tournament. This is the first time in five years, and the fifth time since the university bought the failing school two decades ago and turned it into a regional powerhouse for international studies.

All they need is 40,000,000 yen. Continue Reading

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