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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I recently mentioned that A. Chandler, an Amazon.Com Top 100 reviewer, had posted a review of The Acorn Stories, titled “A light hearted read with stories that flow smoothly and a dash of humor.” Chandler is now the #1 reviewer there.

More reviews by A. Chandler.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

SF Universe reports that Demons Are Coming to BBC America, January 2. A secret team recruits a teenaged descendent of Van Helsing to fight things bumping in the night. Christian Cooke plays the descendent, Luke Rutherford.

The videos I’ve seen posted make it look fun, with a good combination of danger, humor, and creature effects. It sounds like the perfect companion to BBC America’s Being Human. Like that show, though, the season ends way too quickly.


Monday, December 07, 2009

Shank, a gay-themed DVD, comes out Tuesday, December 8. Pictured (from right): Tom Bott (Jonno), Alice Payne (Nessa), Wayne Virgo (Cal), and Marc Laurent (Olivier).

An eighteen-year-old gang member tries to hide his homosexuality amid a violent life in this gritty British drama. Shank offers a frank, disturbing look at life on the street.

Read my DVD review at ThisWeekInTexas.Com.


Duane Simolke wrote Holding Me Together and The Acorn Stories.

Monday, November 30, 2009


Writer/director David Lewis presents a romantic story in a beautiful setting. Everett (Brendan Bradley) and Chase (Matthew Montgomery) fall in love among the California redwoods, despite the family that will soon return to Everett’s life.

Read my review of the gay-themed DVD Redwoods at ThisWeekInTexas.Com.

Duane Simolke wrote Degranon: A Science Fiction Adventure and The Acorn Stories.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hollywood je t'Aime: DVD Review.

Writer/director and former Odessa, Texas, resident Jason Bushman directs his first feature-length film. The offbeat comedy Hollywood je t'Aime brings a gay Parisian to California, where he meets interesting characters and tries to start a film career.

Read my review at ThisWeekInTexas.Com.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Make the Yuletide Gay: DVD Review

Writer/director Rob Williams brings Christmas to gay audiences with a sweet romantic comedy about how young love and coming out can both complicate family life. Keith Jordan and Adamo Ruggiero show strong chemistry in this award-winning film.

Read my review at ThisWeekInTexas.Com.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The gay arts, entertainment, and equality site StoneWall Society

The gay arts, entertainment, and equality site StoneWall Society is celebrating its ten-year anniversary with the launch of new sister sites.

Equality Net will focus on human rights for all people. Artists for Equality will provide promotional opportunities for artists who join Equality Net. GLBT Artists, part of the OutVoice Banner Program, is similar. However, as its name suggests, it will focus on GLBT artists and issues. On Equal Grounds will provide web hosting and other services.

Watch those sites for more information. SWS has helped my books receive much more publicity than they would otherwise.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

A. Chandler, a Top 100 reviewer, has posted a review of The Acorn Stories, titled “A light hearted read with stories that flow smoothly and a dash of humor.”

More reviews by A. Chandler.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Gay Science Fiction, the first trailer for Degranon: A Science Fiction Adventure, has received 4000 viewings at YouTube! The second trailer has received almost 300 views, and it’s a YouTube Featured Video.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Books and links for my readers in Australia and New Zealand.

* Google Australia * Yahoo! 7
* Web Wombat * Aus. Search Colossus * National Library of Australia * Sensis.Com
* Aus Everything * Search NZ * NZ Search Engines * Australia: An Introduction * A Concise History of NZ * Best of New Zealand Fiction: Volume 1 * The Lord of the Rings Location Guidebook
* Gay Happening Presents Best Gay Pride & CSD Anthems * Invisible Families: NZ Resource for Parents of Lesbian and Gay Children * Worlds in Collision: The Gay Debate in NZ * Depraved and Disorderly: Female Convicts, Sexuality and Gender in Colonial Australia * Lesbian Studies in Aotearoa / New Zealand * Mates and Lovers: A History of Gay New Zealand * The Best Australian Science Fiction * Great Australian Cookbook
* Destitute Gourmet * Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby of Australia: Links (including DuaneSimolke.Com) *

Holding Me Together, featuring Reactions to Homophobia.
Pride in the Arts Award. Book Trailer, Book Trailer 2. Kris Coonan, UQ Union, University of Queensland, used Reactions to Homophobia as a resource for his article Sexual Prejudice: Understanding Homophobia and Heterosexism, Biphobia and Transphobia. The Queensland Government's Community Benefit Fund and PFLAG Brisbane used it as a resource for the PDF booklet Assisting Those Who Come Into Regular Contact with Lesbian and Gay Youth.


Degranon: A Science Fiction Adventure.
The brilliant scientist Taldra loves her twin gay sons and thinks of them as the hope for Valchondria’s future, but one of them becomes entangled in the cult of Degranon, while the other becomes stranded on the other side of a doorway through time. Can they find their way home and help Taldra save their world?



Stein, Gender, Isolation, and Industrialism: New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio. This book examines Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio, as it relates to Gertrude Stein, gender roles, gay subtext, failed communication, and the machine in the garden. Anderson's friendship with and admiration of Stein greatly affected the contents and writing style of Winesburg.

The Acorn Gathering: Writers Uniting Against Cancer.

The Acorn Stories.

The Return of Innocence.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Diverse Universes Search.


Search for gay science fiction, gay pride, and much more, including general scifi/fantasy.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Lubbock, Texas, the week of October 5: homeComing OUT Week at Texas Tech University will include activist Shelby Knox, musical duo Jason & deMarco, a discussion about outing people, an epilogue to The Laramie Project, and various other events. The life of former Lubbock resident Shelby Knox provided the basis for the documentaries The Education of Shelby Knox and Shelby Knox Redux.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Joe Sears and Jaston Williams will bring their play Tuna Does Vegas here to Lubbock, Texas, on March 5-6. As with their other Tuna plays, the two men play a variety of eccentric characters from a West Texas town. I’ve seen the DVDs of Greater Tuna and A Tuna Christmas, but haven’t seen any of the Tuna productions live. Sears and Williams are hilarious, capturing the quirky sides of West Texans way too well, but also showing a love for West Texas.

Lubbock Show Information.

Tuna Does Vegas on Tour.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sherwood Anderson News.

The Roanoke Times: Sherwood Anderson Short Story Winners.

BookBroads: Sherwood Anderson Book Prize Winner. The Sherwood Anderson Foundation honors Lucy Jane Bledsoe.

1001 Short Stories You Must Read Before You Die: Hands.

Mark Whalan references my book Stein, Gender, Isolation and Industrialism: New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio in his book Race, manhood, and modernism in America: the short story cycles of Sherwood Anderson and Jean Toomer. A description of his book follows.


  • Race, Manhood, and Modernism in America offers the first extended comparison between American writers Sherwood Anderson (1876--1941) and Jean Toomer (1894--1967), examining their engagement with the ideas of "Young American" writers and critics such as Van Wyck Brooks, Paul Rosenfeld, and Waldo Frank. This distinctively modernist school was developing unique visions of how race, gender, and region would be transformed as America entered an age of mass consumerism. Focusing on Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio (1919) and Toomer's Cane (1923), Race, Manhood, and Modernism in America brings Anderson and Toomer together in a way that allows for a thorough historical and social contextualization that is often missing from assessments of these two literary talents and of modernism as a whole.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Bible and Gays

Reacting when people use the Bible against gays. #NoH8 #Homophobia #LGBT

For a funny parody of anti-gay protesters, and other people who use out-of-context Bible verses to make themselves look superior, see God Hates Shrimp. One of my essays, with a similar message, follows.



The Bible and Gays, an essay from my book Holding Me Together. Copyright 1998/2005 Duane Simolke.

“And Ruth said [to Naomi], Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and whither thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me” (Ruth 1:16-17).

“I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women” (II Samuel 1:26).

“Every man shall kiss his lips that giveth a right answer” (Proverbs 24:26).

God gave us each other for companionship (Genesis 2:18). Certain people need to reproduce, but not everyone (Matthew 19:12; I Corinthians 7:1-8). The Creation accounts never mention gays as part of God’s Creation, but they also never mention the disabled or the different races. Besides two passages that sound like gay relationships (Ruth 1:16-17; II Samuel 1:26), most people who object to homosexuality would probably rather not visualize John 13:5; Proverbs 24:26; I Samuel 18:1-5; II Samuel 20:3-4, 16-18, 33-34.

“Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy” (Ezekial 16:49).

The Bible blames the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah on wickedness, greed, callousness, and inhospitably (Genesis 14-19; Ezekial 16:49; Mark 6:11; Matthew 10:14). Only sheer inventiveness can force “wicked” to mean “gay.” God decides to destroy the cities, but says He will spare them for ten good men. After God’s decision, some men say they want to “know” the visiting angels; somehow, that part of the Sodom passages will become the basis for using the entire story against gays, as if all the people (including the babies) of both cities are gay.

Depending on which translation we use, the Bible contains three-twelve apparent condemnations involving male/male sex, one involving female/female sex, and around 360 involving male/female sex. Many Bible scholars say most of the male/male passages actually condemn rape or temple prostitution, but that the biases of translators warp them into anti-gay references. Remember that the nomadic Hebrews desperately needed children to replace those killed from battles, draughts, and slavery; they condemned all forms of birth control and understood very little about human sexuality.

Leviticus says not to eat fruit from a young tree (19:23), read horoscopes (19:26), get a haircut (19:27), get a beard trim (19:27), get a tattoo (19:28), eat shellfish (11:9-12), eat meat with fat or blood (3:17), crossbreed cattle (19:19), plant two different kinds of seed in the same field (19:19), wear clothing of mixed fabric (19:19), eat pork (11:7-8), or touch pigskin (11:8, so much for football). It also condemns gay male sex twice, once calling it an “abomination.” However, Leviticus 20:25 shows Levitical use of the word “abomination” to only mean vulgar or not kosher.

The Bible also says not to use profanity (Colossians 3:8), get drunk (Proverbs 20:1), pray aloud in public (Matthew 6:1-8), swear (Matthew 5:34), call someone worthless or a fool (Matthew 5:22), or charge interest to poor people (Ex. 22:25). It demands the death penalty for using God’s name in vain (Leviticus 24:16), having pre-marital sex (Deuteronomy 22:13-21), a son acting stubbornly or rebelliously (Deuteronomy 21:18-21), and children cursing their parents (Leviticus 20:9). The death penalty for adultery (Leviticus 20:10) could include a divorced person who remarries (Matthew 5:32, 19:9; Mark 10:11-12). Paul gives two lists that condemn every person ever born (Romans 1; I Corinthians 6:10), but clever uses of ellipses can make those lists only condemn gays. With selective reading, the Bible also sanctions slavery (Ephesians 6:5; Leviticus 25:44-46), allows men concubines or multiple wives (II Samuel 5:13; I Kings 11:3; II Chronicles 11:21; Deuteronomy 21:15), bans the disabled from worship services (Leviticus 21:18-23), and establishes negative views of women (Exodus 21:7; Leviticus 12:1-8, 15:19-33, 20:18; I Corinthians 11:5, 14:34; I Timothy 2:9-15).

“But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain” (Titus 3:9).

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). See also Matthew 7:1-5, 23:5-6, 23:24; Luke 18:10-14; Colossians 3:8-14; Romans 2:1-3, 7:6, 13:8-10, 14:10-13; I Corinthians 7:6, 7:25; Galatians 3:28; Hosea 1:2; Titus 3:9-11; all of I John. Fortunately, salvation comes simply from accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior (John 3:16-17; Romans 10:13), not from laws, literalism, or appearances of holiness. Some people of faith will say the verses I list here are irrelevant, especially if these verses happen to be the ones that those people violate. But the verses someone else violates are, of course, all important. What convenient theology!

Coming from a Christian fundamentalist background, I know all too well how people like to pick and choose Bible verses to use against each other. Unfortunately, that promotes nothing but division and condemnation, helping no one.

If you’re a Christian, please focus on the Bible’s overall messages: faith, hope, love, compassion, salvation. We miss those when we pick and choose out-of-context verses to use against each other. I pray that God will teach us all to love each other, instead of warping the Bible into yet another excuse for hatred, violence, exclusion, and alienation.


I condensed the above essay from parts of a much longer essay, Reactions to Homophobia, which also appears in my book Holding Me Together. Here’s one of the many sections from Reactions. Copyright 1998/2005 Duane Simolke.

“The Bible says it’s wrong.”

If we want to take some Leviticus verses literally and out of context, what about the ones saying not to eat fruit from a young tree (19:23), read horoscopes (19:26), get a haircut (19:27), get a beard trim (19:27), get a tattoo (19:28), eat shellfish (11:9-12), eat meat with fat or blood (3:17), touch a menstruating woman or anything she touches (15:19-33), crossbreed cattle (19:19), plant two different kinds of seed in the same field (19:19), wear clothing of mixed fabric (19:19), eat pork (11:7-8), touch pigskin (11:8), or have sex with a woman “having her sickness” (20:18)? What about some verses outside Leviticus, like the ones saying not to use profanity (Colossians 3:8), act out of anger (Psalms 37:8), get drunk (Pr. 20:1), pray aloud in public (Matthew 6:1-8), swear (Matthew 5:34), call someone worthless or a fool (Matthew 5:22), charge interest to poor people (Ex. 22:25), judge people (Matthew 7:1-5), or hate people (I John 4:20)? Should we follow the verse saying that no one should make a newlywed man work or serve his country for the first year of his marriage (Deuteronomy 24:5)?

Should women see their menstruation cycles as “sin” (Leviticus 15:19-33)? Should women see it as sinful to bear a male child, and even more sinful to bear a female child (Leviticus 12:1-8)? Should women follow the New Testament passages where Paul says they must always remain “silent” and “under obedience” while at church (I Corinthians 14:34), that they can’t put braids in their hair or certain jewels around their neck (I Timothy 2:9), that they must pray with their heads covered (I Corinthians 11:5), that they are inferiors who caused the fall of humanity (I Timothy 2:13-14), that they can only redeem themselves by bearing children (I Timothy 2:15), and that they cannot teach or “usurp authority over the man” (I Timothy 2:12)? Should we follow Exodus 21:7 in its guidance on how a daughter should act when her parents sell her into slavery?

What about the verses that require churches to pay taxes (Romans 14:6-7; Matthew 22:21; Luke 20:25)? Should we also follow the biblical tradition of promoting slavery (Leviticus 25:44-46; Ephesians 6:5), or the one of keeping the disabled from our places of worship (Leviticus 21:18-23)? Should we bring back the death penalty for people who work on the Sabbath (Exodus 35:2), people who use God’s name in vain (Leviticus 24:16), anyone who commits adultery (Leviticus 20:10), a woman who loses her virginity before marriage (Deuteronomy 22:13-21), a son who acts stubbornly or rebelliously (Deuteronomy 21:18-21), and “everyone who curses his father or his mother” (Leviticus 20:9)?

Too many people scream Bible verses that condemn others, but find ways to disregard verses that condemn themselves. The famous list of hell-bound sinners in Romans 1 covers every person ever born (anyone who ever lies, gossips, acts out of anger, holds a grudge, starts arguments, etc.), but the idea of certain actions causing damnation conflicts with John 3:16-17. In context, Paul used the list to show that no one should judge, because we all face condemnation by someone’s standards (Romans 2:1). If gays will burn in Hell for violating the list, won’t everyone else? Also keep in mind Paul’s admission (I Corinthians 7:6, 7:25, etc.) that parts of the letters we now read only came from his opinion; of course, Paul didn’t realize that the letters he wrote to disciples and churches would find their way into the Bible. Another of Paul’s lists appears in I Corinthians 6:10, in which he said anyone who gets drunk, has premarital sex, cheats others, or envies others will go to Hell, but most people use ellipses in place of those references, so they can safely and self-righteously quote the same passage’s references to gay sex.

In fact, the Bible only mentions man/man sex three-twelve times (depending on the particular translation we choose and how we choose to interpret the individual passages) and woman/woman sex one time, while condemning idolatrous man/woman sex around 360 times. How odd that so many readers can overlook something constant in favor of something that occurs only a few times! Biblical condemnations of self-righteousness, divorce, gossip, and drunkenness each separately surpass the condemnations of gay sex in their frequency, yet most people still overlook those many in favor of the few that seem to refer to gay sex.

Some will point out that Leviticus deems male/male sex “an abomination,” but it says the same about eating pigs, oysters, clams, shrimp, rabbits, and many other creatures in Leviticus 20:25, a passage where the author clearly shows that he only uses “abomination” to mean “unclean” or “vulgar” by Hebrew holiness code standards—i.e., not kosher. I’ve yet to meet anyone who even tries to follow the entire Hebrew holiness code, so why elevate two verses from it? Keep in mind also that Proverbs 6:16-19 lists several of what Solomon calls “abominations” to God, including three “abominations” that many televangelists and politicians practice constantly: arrogance, deceit, and divisiveness. Solomon, in his wisdom, left same-gender sex out of his “abominations” list. Furthermore, the Bible says that anyone who claims to follow the law but breaks any one part of it is breaking all of it (James 2:10), so a man who lives by the law but eats pork is also guilty of lying with a man as with a woman; the Bible offers only guilt for people who live by the law instead of living by grace.

Though surrounded by the openly bisexual Roman culture, Christ never mentioned same-gender relations; instead, He taught people about love and acceptance, even going out of His way to meet the rejected half-breeds of Samaria. Yes, He mentioned heterosexual relationships, but He never condemned gay ones. Some people say that His condemnation of adultery automatically included homosexuality, but the Bible offers no support for that definition of adultery; according to scripture, adultery meant having sex with someone other than one’s first sex partner (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 5:32, 19:9; Mark 10:11-12).

His only possible reaction to homosexuality occurred when He healed the “pais” of a centurion (Matthew 8:5-13). Though the King James Bible renders it “servant,” the word “pais” might also have carried gay connotations at that time—a connotation strengthened both by the prevalence of open bisexuality in ancient Roman culture and by the obvious love between this particular centurion and servant. Christ reacted to the centurion’s love by healing the servant. Notice, however, that Christ made no judgment of this relationship. Daniel A. Helminiak, a Roman Catholic priest, examines various studies of that passage, and of all the supposedly anti-gay passages, in his book What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality. I recommend that book for further study.

Of course, many people will go beyond specific passages and use the Bible to make a blanket statement about homosexuality as “an immoral lifestyle.” Using that tendency to take scriptures out of context and impose them on others, consider how Jesus said that anyone who marries a divorced person commits adultery (Matthew 5:32, 19:9; Mark 10:11-12). Therefore, by those standards, a divorced person in a second marriage lives an immoral lifestyle, and anyone who supports that marriage supports sin. With that in mind, it seems hypocritical that many divorced and remarried people will claim gays pose a threat to family values, religious values, and the institution of marriage.

We could even accuse people who support football teams or sell pork of promoting an immoral lifestyle (Leviticus 11:7-8). We could even say female Sunday school teachers live an immoral lifestyle (I Corinthians 14:34-35).

We could also say churchgoers promote an immoral lifestyle by filling up restaurants, donut shops, and grocery stores on Sundays, forcing employees to violate the Sabbath. Many people who work on Sundays consider themselves Christians, though your way of thinking suggests that they live an immoral lifestyle. Actually, the Bible places the Sabbath on Friday night and Saturday morning, but most fundamentalists overlook that faltering from the letter, as well as the fact that Jesus and his disciples violated the Sabbath.

Besides prayerfully and closely reading the Bible all the way through several times, I have found a great deal of help in understanding its applications to gays, thanks to books like Things They Never Told You In Sunday School: A Primer For The Christian Homosexual (by David Day), The New Testament and Homosexuality (by Robin Scroggs), and many of the other resources I mention in “Reactions to Homophobia.” Those works helped me form some of the following observations about Christianity, specifically the idea of Biblical literalism.

Jesus criticized the Pharisees for their attempts at wearing the best clothing, particularly during worship services (Matthew 23:5; Mark 12:38-39). As His “lilies of the field” allegory shows, Christ preferred simple, perfunctory clothing that reflected only the practical concern of covering oneself (Matthew 6:28-34). Yet, countless churches today follow an unwritten code that everyone must wear their so-called “Sunday best,” turning the church aisle into a fashion runway. Even on the hottest days, men in such churches will wear three-piece suits, while the women overdress in uncomfortable-looking fashions. So much for the humility and pragmatism that Jesus taught.

Back to more relevant matters, Jesus and His disciples promoted racial harmony and interaction, welcoming Greeks and people of interracial heritage to break bread with them. Yet, many white congregations still prefer whites only in their buildings, while using out-of-context Bible verses to condemn interracial dating and interracial marriage. Some churches still use the Bible to show blacks as inferior or cursed.

I even heard the word “nigger” casually used during church or Sunday school in my original home state of Louisiana; as you can guess, the racial slurs really started flying after those churchgoers left holy ground. I’ve also heard racism and racial slurs from churchgoers in my temporary home state Tennessee and my permanent home state Texas, but not with the same fanatical frequency as in Louisiana, and not while inside the church building.

Whenever I see it, I attribute religion-based homophobia and religion-based racism to bigotry, not to God. At this point, let me clarify that I am attacking bigotry, not God or Christianity. Further, I am not calling homosexuality a sin, but showing the problem with using out-of-context verses as a way to label gays as sinful and thus somehow deserving of discrimination, violence, etc. With that said, I want to further expose the idolatrous worship of tradition.

We see that worship when many Christians become riled over newer Bible translations using gender-neutral language in place of male-specific language, even though the translators will say the gender-neutral language more closely follows the actual texts. Tradition replaced the Bible’s original phrasing, so tradition-worshippers will claim sacrilege when someone brings back the original phrasing. In that case and in the Sodom and Gomorrah passage I’ll soon discuss, tradition actually outweighs scripture for many Christians.

Good or bad, tradition affects our thinking, including our theology. Christians need to quit confusing Christian tradition with the Bible and the Bible with God. By definition of monotheistic religion (worship of only one God), Christians should not worship tradition, the Bible, or anything else but God. Reconciling Trinitarian doctrine with monotheism (i.e., explaining how Father, Son, and Holy Ghost form the one and only God) poses enough problems without us seeing the Bible as also a part of God. Many people speak of God and the Bible as if they were equal, and hold their Bibles as if they were touching the hand of God. When we stop confusing tradition and the Bible with God, we can begin a deeper examination of what the Bible really says.

That examination also requires going beyond what certain, selected verses literally say. Reading the Bible literally requires disregarding scientific and historic evidence. For example, we would need to see the Earth as created in seven literal days (and not the Bible’s later concept of equating God’s days with a thousand of ours), see the Earth as only 6000-35,000 years old, and see all types of life-form evolution as nonexistent.

The Sermon on the Mount also presents too many problems for Christian fundamentalists. I challenge anyone to read Matthew chapters 5-8 aloud, stopping after each verse to ask “Do I even try to literally follow that?” I’m not saying that you try and fail; I’m saying that you probably don’t even try to follow many of those verses. Jesus later claimed that we should rid ourselves of our hands, feet, and eyes if they might cause us to sin (Matthew 18:8-9). Since most Christian fundamentalists somehow manage to keep their hands, feet, and eyes, we can assume either that they never face temptation, or that they fail to take that passage literally. The second assumption seems more plausible. Jesus even pulled His followers away from literalism by constantly speaking in parables. Should we read the parables literally? Read literally or figuratively, I think all the teachings of Jesus come down to five points: (1) laws can save no one, (2) love matters more than all the other laws, (3) acts of compassion impress God more than religious displays, (4) we cannot truly love God unless we also love all human beings, (5) those who believe in and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior shall receive salvation. Those five points emphasize Christianity as a life of love, peace, volunteerism, and hope, while many Christians downplay those concepts in favor of reducing the Bible into a tool for judging and controlling others.

If you’re a Christian, I challenge you to allow for metaphor, balance, opinion, and context when reading the Bible. We should acknowledge the difficulty of translating from one language to another, especially when the translators tried to precisely translate a book written in four ancient languages over a period of hundreds or even thousands of years. In many cases, the translators could not find more than one use of a particular archaic word. Still, they supposedly translated that word accurately. Many people who have read the Bible in its ancient languages will admit that all the translations contain errors, so why should we assume that the parts about gay sex were translated correctly?

Reading your holy book requires not always reading it literally, but always reading it with the idea that one must continue learning and seeking in order to continue one’s constant journey toward a deeper understanding of spiritual matters. You extinguish the discovery process when you claim that you already fully understand every aspect of a book and that no misreading or textual friction could possibly exist.

Challenges to total literalism often invoke a recital of platitudes, instead of an examination of the verses I just mentioned. Platitudes get us nowhere, and they certainly can’t help the many people who become the targets of the many fanatical fundamentalists who commit, encourage, or ignore hate crimes. At some point, we need to start questioning fundamentalist rigidity in favor of compassion and free thought. When people reject, mistreat, assault, or murder each other for not fitting into some rigid theological view, we have reached that point.


The above excerpt is from Reactions to Homophobia, an essay in Duane Simolke’s book Holding Me Together. Keywords: homophobia, homosexuality, gay pride, lesbian, LGBT, transgender, religion, ex-gay, Bible, scripture, Leviticus, LGBT resources, church, Christian, faith, family.

Read about Holding Me Together at bn.com, Amazon, Am.ca, Am.uk, and (for a much longer preview) Smashwords.

Keywords: homophobia, homosexuality, gay pride, lesbian, LGBT, LGBTQ, transgender, religion, ex-gay, Bible, scripture, Leviticus, LGBT resources, church, Christian, faith, family.

Reactions to Homophobia excerpt added 4/11/2018. All of my writings are copyright Duane Simolke, and the rights to them belong to me.

This page is sometimes funny, sometimes insightful: As I’ve Matured. I related to a lot of it.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

SyFy has posted a new trailer for the upcoming spin-off series Stargate Universe. I’m a long-time fan of Stargate, but this new show looks like a major departure, with a bigger budget and more drama.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Science Fiction Adventure.


For a limited time, the Kindle eBook of Degranon is available at a special low price, to introduce new readers to my science fiction adventure series, Sons of Taldra. I’m currently writing the second book in the series. Readers can also order Degranon in paperback and hardcover through Barnes & Noble and many other bookstores.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sordid Lives: The Series

And speaking of returning TV series, it still looks unlikely the wonderful Sordid Lives: The Series will ever return. Still, you can enjoy clips from the show, thanks to creator Del Shores.

SordidLiveschannel

Shores based Sordid Lives on his play and movie about a West Texas family. I still hope he gets the movie version of his play Southern Baptist Sissies made!
V Returning Sooner (Updated 8/11/09)


From SyFy: ABC announces V will debut in November and V producer on who might return and other homages.

The original miniseries and its sequel included some interesting parallels to Nazi Germany, but the series lacked a budget and direction. Will the new series be better, or worse?

ABC’s V Preview makes it look better.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Sherwood Anderson News

KevinFromCanada Blog: Sherwood Anderson Category Archive.

Blogger Joel J. Miller references what Anderson and others say about book marketing: Don’t Just Blame The Marketing.

All Free Essays: Winesburg, Ohio.
Midwestern Literature: Sherwood Anderson (a great man from ohio).
Blogcritics.org: Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson.
BookLoveAffair: Friday Focus: Sherwood Anderson.

University of Toledo professor Clarence Lindsay has released a new book, Such a Rare Thing: The Art of Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio. According to the synopsis, “This critical study of Sherwood Anderson's most famous and perhaps most widely taught work, Winesburg, Ohio, treats it as a thoroughly modernist novel examining the aesthetic nature of romantic identity.”

Monday, August 03, 2009

The historical West Texas town of Acorn was founded by the Briggs family or the Carsons family, depending on who you ask. Just slide on over to the Turner Street Café and you’ll find some cranky old geezer willing to give you an earful about that. The pictures you see here are of our historical Seventh Street district and of one of the many oak trees planted here during the 1950s by the Fischers, a family of German immigrants that nearabouts bankrupted what little water supply we had back then…but who can argue with the results? You don’t see this many trees in Lubbock!

Founded: 1934.

Area: 25 square miles (includes recent annexation).

Current population: 21,001.

Altitude: 3,245 feet above sea level.

Geography: flat, flatter, and flattest.

Weather: mostly mild winters (except for the occasional ice storm), mostly mild spring through fall (except for the occasional dust storm, Easter freeze, or tornado).

Worship: Catholic or Presbyterian for some, Baptist for the rest of us.

Wild Life: prairie dogs, squirrels, ground owls, various widows. The horses and cows are mostly *outside* the city limits, but some Acornians like to dress up as cowboys and cowgirls anyway.

Night Life: Three bars, open from 11 AM to 2 AM. A movie house/restaurant. Concerts are no longer encouraged in Acorn, but sometimes happen at the bars. We also don’t encourage the presence of a certain “adult” establishment, which we’ve managed to rezone outside our city limits. We do encourage and support Acorn College Football, day or night games!

Reasons to visit:

(1) German festival!

(2) The best chicken-fried steak and apple pie this side of Throckmorton!

(3) Close to Lubbock and Amarillo!

(4) Antiques shops and an art gallery!

(5) As far as we can figure, no film students have ever turned up missing here.

(6) Acorn College, and more importantly, Acorn College Football!

(7) How 'bout those sunsets?

(8) Unlike the people in Happy, Texas, we wouldn't mind if you made a movie about us, as long as you gave us lots of money.

(9) A short drive to Roswell, New Mexico.

(10) A short drive from Roswell, New Mexico, if you get tired of the alien hunters.

(11) We’re nothing like West Texans in movies or that ***** Greater Tuna play. (The preceding sentence was edited for a word that made me have to put a quarter in the cuss jar.)

(12) We have a more “normal” name than Shallowater, Levelland, Muleshoe, Throckmorton, or Earth, Texas. We love to brag about our beautiful name.

(13) Though he may deny it and tell us to take this off our Web site, rumor has it that a certain famous West Texan who now lives in D.C. attended a frat party or two here. Maybe he just doesn't remember.

(14) None of our citizens have been on that Survivor TV show or American Idol, but we have a daily Wheel of Fortune Viewers Club, over at the Ice Cream Dream, and you don’t know Fear Factor until you’ve been to Acorn’s Cow Palace on Karoake Night.

(15) According to the latest recount, we still have more marriages than divorces.

(16) Trees! We’ve got ‘em!

(17) Acorn Lake! It ain’t big (we had to fight over the right to call it a lake), but it’s pretty!

(17) Have we mentioned the sunsets?

(18) The Dixie Chicks have never written a song about us. No, really, we don’t want them to.

(19) Friday Night Lights! Not the book, movie, or TV series—just the real deal!

(20) We all talked about voting for Kinky Friedman, even before he thought about running for Governor of Texas and replacing Governor Goodhair!

(21) No, really, our mayor isn’t gay. Well, the old one said he wasn’t either, before he ran off with that fellow Whathisname.

(22) Community organizers, and re-organizers. Between the Carsons family and the Briggs family, you never know who’s buying what!

(23) Lubbock author Duane Simolke wrote a book about us! Read the reviews at Kirkus, Amazon.Com, Amazon.Com (1st edition), bn.com (2nd edition), and bn.com (1st edition).

Kindle Edition.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

This scene opens Fat Diary, a comical short story I wrote for the book The Acorn Gathering.


January 20, 2001
Dear Fat Diary,

My nutritionist told me to write in you every day, until I can come to terms about why I’m not happy with my weight, and why I want to change. I’m supposed to call you my “love diary,” but I’m not trying to get rid of love; I’m trying to get rid of fat. We’ll talk about love later.

No, on second thought, we’ll talk about love now. I don’t have love because I have fat. If I didn’t weigh 260 pounds, I might be writing a love diary, and teenage girls would read it and swoon, while listening to the latest boybands and dreaming of that guy who sits in the second row of their American history class. Wait, that’s what I did at the University of Texas in Austin.

My name is Pamela Mae Willard, named after my Aunt Mae and my father, Samuel Carsons (yes, as in “Carsons Furniture, Acorn’s best-kept secret”). He wanted a Samuel Carsons, Jr. He had to settle with a Pamuel, which became Pamela, due to the mercy of the Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost, and my passive-aggressive mom. She kept “accidentally” referring to my father as “Samueluel,” and when that bothered him, she said she “didn’t give a damnuel,” and when he wanted supper, she said he could fry some “Spamuel,” and if he wanted someone to keep him warm, he could “buy a cocker spaniel.” Even though she never actually said how much she hated the name “Pamuel,” the message came through clearly enough, and he eventually asked if Pamela Mae would be all right.

Pamela Mae sounded sufficiently dignified and Southern for a member of Acorn’s beloved Carsons family, so she consented, and soon began cooking meals that weren’t primarily composed of meat byproducts. Harmony soon returned to our home, and my parents adopted an unwanted newborn baby just over a year later, naming him Samuel, of course, but calling him “Sam.” If they were going to go through all of that just to call someone “Sam,” they probably could have named me Samantha! Unfortunately, I wasn’t quite in a position to impart my keen sense of logic at the time.

My parents were very happy with Sam, who would eventually join the Air Force. I taught Sunday school for a time and, after returning from college in Austin, managed the library.

Our childhood went by with very little trauma or disaster. Meteorites, tornadoes, and general flying debris never hit our house, unless you count acorns, pecans, and the occasional dust storm. Daddy wasn’t a drunk, though he always liked touring the wineries that keep popping up around West Texas. Mom didn’t have a secret past, unless it’s still Acorn’s best-kept secret, to use that tired catch phrase I mentioned before, the one Daddy’s store shares with most of Acorn’s local advertisers. And my adopted brother didn’t turn out to be a space alien, despite my early suspicions; in fact, he and I remain the best of friends. Regardless of how some people around here make it sound, the sky isn’t always falling in Acorn, at least not for our family. I had loving parents and a happy, well-rounded childhood.

“Well-rounded.” Bad word choice.

I grew taller fast during my early teens, so much so that my mom worried I might have some sort of thyroid disorder, and it seemed like I needed to eat a lot for my body to keep up with its own growth. But then I stopped growing. Upward, that is. Then I got fat, and I stayed fat. So here I am, writing in my fat diary. Worst of all, I’ll probably wind up writing about my joke of a short-lived marriage.

I’m supposed to examine key moments from any of my amazing thirty-something years, and find reasons to love myself, all the while congratulating myself for the conclusions I reach.

Do I get a lollipop for that?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bio, With Links. Updated 6/9/2018.

Duane Simolke (pronounced “Dwain Smoky”). Education: Belmont University (B.A., ‘89, Nashville, TN), Hardin-Simmons University (M.A., ‘91, Abilene, TX), and Texas Tech University (Ph.D., ‘96, Lubbock, TX), all with a major in English.

Writing published in nightFire, Mesquite, Caprock Sun, Midwest Poetry Review, International Journal on World Peace, and many other publications.

I also wrote the preface to Ronald L. Donaghe’s gay novel Lance: The Continuing Journals of Will Barnett.

Who’s Who Among America’s Colleges and Universities, 1988-89.

At the Conference on Christianity and Literature, presented papers, "Pilgrim's Progress As Satire" (1990) and "C.S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces" (1991).

1991, Masters Thesis, This Present Darkness and Its Influences.

Two Texas Tech University English Department Harbinger Awards for Excellence in Short Fiction.

1996, Doctoral Dissertation, Stein, Gender, Isolation and Industrialism: New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio.

At the 2001 Convention of The National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA), spoke on the panel “Writing with a Texas Twist.”

Two StoneWall Society 2002 Pride In The Arts Awards. Acceptance for The Acorn Stories. Acceptance for Holding Me Together.

2003 StoneWall Society Pride in the Arts award for Degranon.

Dann Hazel used Reactions to Homophobia (a long essay from Holding Me Together) as one of the resources for his book Witness: Gay and Lesbian Clergy Report from the Front. Kris Coonan, UQ Union, University of Queensland, used it as a resource for his article Sexual Prejudice: Understanding Homophobia and Heterosexism, Biphobia and Transphobia. The Queensland Government's Community Benefit Fund and PFLAG Brisbane used it as a resource for the PDF booklet Assisting Those Who Come Into Regular Contact with Lesbian and Gay Youth. November 2003, at the Texas Book Festival, signed copies of The Acorn Stories.

October 2005, lead the discussion Gay Symbols and History.

Three of my books recognized as iUniverse Editor’s Choice books: The Acorn Stories, Degranon: A Science Fiction Adventure, and Holding Me Together.

February 2006, part of View from Brokeback Mountain panel discussion.

June 2006: The Acorn Stories and Holding Me Together featured in discussions and spoken word presentations at the first StoneWall Society Pride in the Arts Festival, Walton, West Virginia.

Noted a few times during Jed Ryan’s interview with StoneWall Society’s founder.

The Return of Innocence received a 2007 Allbooks Reviewer’s Choice Award.

March 2007: Featured author at Razor Pages.

July 2009: Degranon: A Science Fiction Adventure discussed in Encyclopedia of Contemporary LGBTQ Literature of the United States.

May 2010: Featured in books Belmont University People: Belmont University Alumni, Belmont University Faculty, Trisha Yearwood, Kimberley Locke, Brad Paisley and Hardin-Simmons University Alumni: Doyle Brunson, Buddy West, Rupert N. Richardson, Dan Blocker, Victor G. Carrillo, George H. Mahon.

September 2010: Featured Writer, Bitsy Bling's Book Review.

October 2016: Sons of Taldra Interview at Prism Book Alliance.

September 2016: Interview at Our Queer Art.

October 2016: Sons of Taldra Interview at Prism Book Alliance.

November 2016: Degranon featured at shahwharton.com.

March 2017: The Acorn Stories at Book of the Month Club.

April 2017: Our Epic Worlds SciFi Interview: The Epic World of Valchondria by Duane Simolke.

June 2017: Fire and Ice: Fiction Feature and Author Interview: The Acorn Stories by Duane Simolke.

June 2017: Sons of Taldra Review at Enas Reviews.

July 2017: SelfPublishingReview.Com Reviews Taldra. “A highly-imaginative sci-fi adventure set in an alternate universe.”

August 2017: The Acorn Stories featured in Publishers Weekly.

December 2017: The Abstract reviews The Acorn Stories, saying it “reminds us that nobody is perfect and that everyone is just trying to get by in life either it be by hurting others or by trying to change their life for the better.”

January 2018: Interview about my books in Gay Webcast Two Gay Geeks.

February 2018: Interview About Sons of Taldra and More at BooksGoSocial.Com.

March 2018: Genre Spoof Gay Cowboy Vampire Highlander at Who Writes Short Shorts.

June 2018: Part of Eli Summers’s LGBTQ Pride 2018 Authors Showcase.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Acorn Stories: The Individual Stories

"Acorn": When we arrive at the fictional West Texas town of Acorn, the narrative keeps shifting between Regina and Dirk, who both seek control over their relationship.

"Flip, Turn": A different scene from the narrator's amusing but unproductive life comes to him every time he turns to swim in the opposite direction.

"Keeping A Secret": A little boy wants to shield his mother and his little brother from a dangerous situation.

"Survival": A young teacher (both deaf and gay) clashes with his school's emphasis of uniformity over diversity and sports over academics.

"Paying The Rent": In this politically incorrect tale, an inarticulate young man hopes to marry a rich woman so he can pay the rent, but he finds her repulsive.

"Morgana Le Fay": A widow finds her new romance disrupted by her Siamese cat's strange behavior.

"Your Daughter": Gretchen's approach to raising a daughter and maintaining a marriage requires ignoring problems and carefully orchestrating conversations.

"Knock": A father sees his daughter abandon her Mexican heritage, and he now fears other types of abandonment.

"Come With Me": The conflictive influence of her overbearing sister and her supportive husband forces Becky to re-evaluate her ambitions.

"Dead Enough": Farcical look at English departments, tabloid TV, the publishing industry, and America's superstar culture.

"Mae": Standing by her husband's grave, an elderly woman looks back at the joys and challenges of marriage and motherhood.

"Timothy Fast": In this satirical retelling of the Faustian myth, a Jewish businessman finds himself pulled into small-town politics.

"Mirrors: A Blackmail Letter": The owner of an art gallery becomes the target of a "family values" witch-hunt, spear-headed by Acorn's closeted (“ex-gay”) mayor.

"Echoes": A time of unexpected changes for Becky and her husband.

"Oak": Julie Briggs can only talk to her mother by leaving messages on her answering machine, but she refuses to give up her voice.

"Acorn Pie": An unusual weekend in the life of an unusual town.



Read the reviews at Kirkus, Amazon.Com, Amazon.Com (1st edition), bn.com (2nd edition), and bn.com (1st edition).

Kindle Edition.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

my video channel

I’m happy to see my video channel receiving an increasing surge in traffic. Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to watch, forward, embed, and/or favorite my videos!

Of course, many of the most popular online videos right now involve the protests over Iran’s election. See farzinfakhraei’s channel for some of those videos.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Acorn Stories

The Acorn Stories.
By Duane Simolke.
Pride in the Arts Award.

Visit the West Texas town of Acorn! Enjoy the German festival, a high school football game, homemade apple pie from the Turner Street Cafe, and the cool shade of a hundred-year-old oak tree. Meet dedicated teachers, unusual artists, shrewd business owners, closeted gays, and concerned neighbors. See how lives become intertwined in moments of humor or tragedy. Just be careful, because in Acorn, the sky is always falling!

From romantic comedy to razor-sharp satire to moments of quiet reflection, these award-winning tales transform a fictional West Texas town into a tapestry of human experiences.

  • “A lush tangle of small-town life branches out in this engrossing collection of short stories.” –Kirkus Reviews
  • “Duane Simolke is one of our great American writers just ready to be recognized as such. He has the talent and the imagination and the humanity and the perspective to make each of our lives richer. Bravo!” –Grady Harp, Amazon Hall of Fame Reviewer
  • “I found this book to be a perfect vacation companion.” –A. Chandler, #1 Amazon.Com reviewer
  • “I love the numerous small wins of the characters and the unexpected turns of luck.” –Billy O.
  • “Having spent quite a bit of time in Texas, I could see each character matching someone I know or have met in my time there.” –Noel D
  • “Amazing and hard to put down.” –Kimmie Sue’s Book Review and More
  • “Snapshots of the lives of people and their life-changing encounters that will leave lasting impressions on you.” –Michelle Williams
  • “Readers who enjoy immersive first person stories about small town life and the human condition will love this book.” –Purple
  • “The author demonstrates a healthy understanding of human nature.” –John H. Mangold
  • “Amazing and hard to put down.” –Kimmie Sue’s Book Review and More
  • “A talented, insightful author.” –E. Conley, Betty's Books
  • “The town is Acorn, Texas, and it is a representation of all of the tiny places, or wide places in the road that dot America.” –jonboy
  • “If you liked WINESBURG, OHIO . . . rejoice.” –Watchword
  • “By the time you have finished reading these tales of the people who inhabit the fictitious town of Acorn, Texas, population 21,001, you will have met some endearing as well as irritating characters, from the Mayor to the local would-be gigolo; from the busy-bodies to the business owners; from those who grew up in Acorn and have tried to escape the small town to those who have moved to Acorn to escape from the real world.” –Ronald L. Donaghe, author of Uncle Sean
  • “A well-crafted collection of short stories.” –L. L. Lee, author of Taxing Tallula
  • “It was a real pleasure to read about the fictional town of Acorn, Texas.” –Mark Kendrick, author of Desert Sons
  • “Simolke makes good use of his vivid imagination in creating credible dialogue and satirical images.” –Huda Orfali, author of Blue Fire
  • “There are people that you like, some that you can't wait to see if they get theirs.” –Joe Wright, StoneWall Society
  • “Each of Simolke's stories lets us look into the lives of some of the most interesting characters I have ever read about.” –Amos Lassen, Literary Pride
  • “When you finish, when you put the book aside, Acorn will still be with you.” –E. Carter Jones, author of Absence of Faith
  • “I highly recommend this book!” –Richard Carlson, author of Jeremy Grabowski's Crazy Summer in Stormville!
  • “…reminds us that nobody is perfect and that everyone is just trying to get by in life either it be by hurting others or by trying to change their life for the better.” —The Abstract
Read the reviews at Kirkus Reviews, The Abstract, Amazon.Com, GoodReads, bn.com (2nd edition), and bn.com (1st edition).

Kindle Edition * Barnes & Noble Nook eBook * Excerpts from The Acorn Stories * The Individual Stories * Reading Group Questions * Historical Acorn, Texas

Book Trailer: West Texas Fiction Book Trailer 2: Texas

The Acorn Gathering, a Spin-off from The Acorn Stories

(Blog entry updated 12/17/2017.)

Degranon: A Science Fiction Adventure
By Duane Simolke
Winner, Pride in the Arts Award
On the planet Valchondria, no illness exists, gay marriage is legal, and everyone is a person of color. However, a group called “the Maintainers” carefully monitors everyone’s speech, actions, and weight; the Maintainers also force so-called “colorsighted” people to hide their ability to see in color.

The brilliant scientist Taldra loves her twin gay sons and thinks of them as the hope for Valchondria’s future, but one of them becomes entangled in the cult of Degranon, and the other becomes stranded on the other side of a doorway through time. Can they find their way home and help Taldra save their world?

  • “This is an incredible book about the human condition and how one person striving for the good can, in the end, be a source of change.” –Rainbow Reviews
  • “So for those who want a thought provoking and fun sci-fi read, then I would highly recommend Degranon; so hover on over to the bookstore and check this one out.”—Blogger Girls
  • “In Degranon, author Duane Simolke establishes his voice in gay genre writing by combining current concerns revolving around queer culture with a world of dimensional doorways, advanced technology, and distant planets.” –X-Factor, October 1, 2004 issue
  • “It's a very good story.” –HomoMojo.Com and I Must Be Dreaming
  • “A must read.” – Joe Wright, for StoneWall Society
  • “A reminder of the danger of fanaticism.” –Mark Kendrick, author of Stealing Some Time
  • “Duane Simolke's latest offering is a fascinating scifi excursion into a world as unique as his singular vision.” –Ronald L. Donaghe, author of Cinátis
  • “I recommend DEGRANON for its exciting, well-constructed narrative, its often intriguing characters, and its wealth of ideas both political and philosophical.” –J. Clark
  • “DEGRANON is sci-fi that warrants the attention of any serious aficionado, gay or straight, fascinated by alien worlds that mirror our own world.” –William Maltese, author of Beyond Machu

New! Revised third edition eBook released in 2016. Nook and Kindle.

Join the Degranon discussions at Goodreads, Shelfari, and Black Caviar Book Club.

Though it takes place on other worlds, all the characters in this book are people we might call Native American, African American, Hispanic, Asian, or Middle Eastern. Some of them are also gay. Degranon deals with themes of diversity, censorship, and religious violence. It takes place in an alternate dimension, with some of our prejudices and other problems looked at from unusual angles. More importantly for most scifi fans, though, it delivers fast-paced action and constant twists.

Excerpt: We’re Glad Our Son Is Gay.

Excerpt: The Maintainers Arrive.

Degranon: Reading Group Questions.

Book Trailer 1, Book Trailer 2, Book Trailer 3.

Degranon: A Science Fiction Adventure discussed in Encyclopedia of Contemporary LGBTQ Literature of the United States.

A glossary for Degranon and its upcoming sequel, Sons of Taldra.

Sons of Taldra: GoodReads Preview, Book Teaser/Spoiler Alert, Writing a Novel.

Nook, Fishpond.co.nz, Fishpond.co.au, Degranon: Kindle eBook, Kindle Germany, Gay Science Fiction Worlds, Gay Science Fiction for Canadian Readers, Gay Science Fiction for the UK, SciFi/Fantasy Adventure, Gay Science Fiction at bn.com, Fantasy Adventure at bn.com, Gay Fantasy at bn.com, Science Fiction Adventure at bn.com.

Entry updated 08/14/2014.

Degranon: A Science Fiction Adventure

Degranon: A Science Fiction Adventure
By Duane Simolke
Winner, Pride in the Arts Award
On the planet Valchondria, no illness exists, gay marriage is legal, and everyone is a person of color. However, a group called “the Maintainers” carefully monitors everyone’s speech, actions, and weight; the Maintainers also force so-called “colorsighted” people to hide their ability to see in color.

The brilliant scientist Taldra loves her twin gay sons and thinks of them as the hope for Valchondria’s future, but one of them becomes entangled in the cult of Degranon, and the other becomes stranded on the other side of a doorway through time. Can they find their way home and help Taldra save their world?


  • “This is an incredible book about the human condition and how one person striving for the good can, in the end, be a source of change.” –Rainbow Reviews
  • “So for those who want a thought provoking and fun sci-fi read, then I would highly recommend Degranon; so hover on over to the bookstore and check this one out.”—Blogger Girls
  • “In Degranon, author Duane Simolke establishes his voice in gay genre writing by combining current concerns revolving around queer culture with a world of dimensional doorways, advanced technology, and distant planets.” –X-Factor, October 1, 2004 issue
  • “It's a very good story.” –HomoMojo.Com and I Must Be Dreaming
  • “A must read.” – Joe Wright, for StoneWall Society
  • “A reminder of the danger of fanaticism.” –Mark Kendrick, author of Stealing Some Time
  • “Duane Simolke's latest offering is a fascinating scifi excursion into a world as unique as his singular vision.” –Ronald L. Donaghe, author of Cinátis
  • “I recommend DEGRANON for its exciting, well-constructed narrative, its often intriguing characters, and its wealth of ideas both political and philosophical.” –J. Clark
  • “DEGRANON is sci-fi that warrants the attention of any serious aficionado, gay or straight, fascinated by alien worlds that mirror our own world.” –William Maltese, author of Beyond Machu

New! Revised third edition eBook released in 2016. Nook and Kindle.

Both Taldra #SciFi Adventure Novels in One EBook

Join the Degranon discussions at Goodreads, Shelfari, and Black Caviar Book Club.

Though it takes place on other worlds, all the characters in this book are people we might call Native American, African American, Hispanic, Asian, or Middle Eastern. Some of them are also gay. Degranon deals with themes of diversity, censorship, and religious violence. It takes place in an alternate dimension, with some of our prejudices and other problems looked at from unusual angles. More importantly for most scifi fans, though, it delivers fast-paced action and constant twists.

Excerpt: We’re Glad Our Son Is Gay.

Excerpt: The Maintainers Arrive.

Degranon: Reading Group Questions.

Book Trailer 1, Book Trailer 2, Book Trailer 3.

Degranon: A Science Fiction Adventure discussed in Encyclopedia of Contemporary LGBTQ Literature of the United States.

A glossary for Degranon and its upcoming sequel, Sons of Taldra.

Sons of Taldra: GoodReads Preview, Book Teaser/Spoiler Alert, Writing a Novel.

Nook, Fishpond.co.nz, Fishpond.co.au, Degranon: Kindle eBook, Kindle Germany, Gay Science Fiction Worlds, Gay Science Fiction for Canadian Readers, Gay Science Fiction for the UK, SciFi/Fantasy Adventure, Gay Science Fiction at bn.com, Fantasy Adventure at bn.com, Gay Fantasy at bn.com, Science Fiction Adventure at bn.com.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sneak a peak at The Return of Innocence

Read a preview at Amazon.

The Return of Innocence: A Fantasy Adventure Preface

Preface

During my teen years, I wrote several science fiction and fantasy stories. Most of those got lost during moves, but one of them grew into the novel Degranon: A Science Fiction Adventure, which led to the sequel Sons of Taldra. I occasionally tried to develop a novel from my 1983 fantasy story “The Return of Innocence.”

The novel, however, remained unfinished for years, still a sketchy jumble of drafts and notes with potential. I eventually considered cowriting it with a fantasy author. When I mentioned the idea to my friend Toni Davis, she decided to read through some of the chapters and quickly fell in love with my fantasy world of Theln. Toni mostly wrote poetry and fan fiction back then, but wanted to explore new characters.

Toni brought fresh perspectives to a long-neglected project by interjecting ideas, fleshing out characters, and exposing flaws. Unfortunately, work and her own projects took her away from Theln. Eventually, I combined our ideas to write a complete draft. Though the finished book only includes a little of her writing, it also contains her inspiration, and I appreciate her efforts in making sure I could finish Sasha Varov’s story. I revised the novel in 2017.

Duane Simolke, Lubbock, Texas

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I've just posted Excerpts from The Acorn Gathering, in the blog for that fiction collection.

We’re Glad Our Son Is Gay



The following excerpt comes from the revised, second edition of my novel Degranon: A Science Fiction Adventure.


The planet Valchondria seems advanced and remarkably humane in many ways. But the government regulates people's weight, reproduction, theology, actions, and speech; the government also forbids travel and contact beyond Valchondria's atmosphere. A charismatic leader called "Gazer" leads the cult of Degranon; he promises change, but at a violent and oppressive cost. In between these two dystopias (failed Utopias), we find Taldra and Hachen, striving to make a better world for their twin sons. Obviously, the book raises many social issues, but it often does so in humorous or exciting ways. This scene obviously pokes fun at the ridiculous Earth tradition known as "homophobia," but it still has some scary overtones. (The Valchondrians use "same-gendered" in place of the words “gay” or “homosexual.”)


Her gray eyes sparkled like no eyes Hachen had ever seen. Actually, she had broken the law by secretly telling him that her eyes were light brown, but, unlike his gifted spouse, he couldn’t see in color. He couldn’t even see the redness of her skin, though he knew from history class that most people on Valchondria have red, brown, or black skin, and some of the people who had once lived there had yellow or white skin. To him, everyone simply looked white or black.


During history classes, before the Maintainers expunged certain anti-glory facts from the school curriculum, Hachen had learned about how white-skinned people and yellow-skinned people faded from existence. After the Supreme Science Council realized that those two races contracted certain illnesses that no one else contracted, they worked with the Maintainers to pass a constitutional amendment, banning any two members of those races from marrying. The measure supposedly protected Valchondria’s families and stability. Within three generations, both races ceased to exist; only the red, black, and brown races remained obvious, or some mixture of the three.


That time in Valchondria’s history brought outcries of shame, and the government vowed to never again use the law to promote bigotry. But then, little more than a hundred years later, the SSC found that obesity caused many illnesses, adding to increased national healthcare costs. So another constitutional amendment passed, this one allowing the Maintainers to fine people for not keeping a healthy height-to-weight ratio.


And after the virus came, the Maintainers and the SSC passed yet another constitutional amendment that promoted discrimination. That one made the ridiculous assertion that discussing colorsightedness posed a heavy hazard threat to traditional values, and that claiming to be colorsighted was nothing more than a plea for so-called “special rights.” It amazed Hachen that a civilized culture could keep taking away people’s civil rights. It also hurt him, because the woman he loved was the target of that bigotry.


And the new forms of bigotry kept emerging. Next came legally permitted language, initially called “socially recommended rhetoric,” creeping slowly into schools and the media and then into the law. And then Maintainer cameras came. And freedom left. All in the names of preserving traditional Valchondrian values. All suffocating Valchondrian creativity, thought, and progress.


Hachen clasped the slender hand that reached toward the tiny person in the infant pod that was attached to the bed.


“I’ll get him,” said Hachen. He gently lifted the pale infant, who was wrapped in a white cloth as soft and warm as his skin.


“I was hoping to be able to say ‘them.’” She accepted the crying child into her arms, and he grew quiet as she rocked him back and forth.


“We had to work quickly. It’s bad enough we’re violating the codes. We can’t jeopardize Geln’s career as well as our own.”


“I know, Hachen. I just wanted a chance to see them both. I can’t believe I passed out during the birth.”


“I think those mind relaxants had something to do with it. I’m just glad no other healers came in. No one knows except for you, me, and Geln.”


“Wouldn’t the gossip masters love this story? ‘Leading scientists discover a rift in time and transport illegal twin into the past. Check your collector for details.’” She rubbed the tiny infant’s red face, and he seemed to smile. “Is this Argen, or Telius?”


“Argen,” said Hachen, sitting down on the edge of the bed. They had agreed on given names for the twins long before Taldra even started showing. “They’re identical. I performed a genetic scan; they’re both healthy and of potentially high intellect. Telius will need that to survive in his primitive environment.”


“But you said the village is peaceful. Hachen, where are we sending our baby?”


“Someplace where he at least has a chance.” Hachen had never seen her look so vulnerable before, like anyone could crush her with a touch. Before, she always projected herself as brave and outspoken, sometimes even reckless, but he could tell becoming a mother would change her. Somehow, she seemed less courageous but more protective. He tried to think of words to reassure her. “The village is peaceful. I just meant that he won’t have all the luxuries and protections we have. He’ll be like…well, like a colonist.”


The look of worry gave way to one of wonder. “I like that analogy.” She smiled at the baby who slept in her arms. “Maybe one day, we’ll all be on one colony together, the four of us.”


“That sounds nice. To the side, the genetic scan also showed that they’re both same-gendered.” Hachen used the term with pride, and Taldra smiled with the same pride. At least no one ever came up with the crumbled idea of discriminating against people who identified romantically and emotionally with members of their own gender. No culture could ever be that rusted, he told himself, but then thought again of how utterly ridiculous he saw all other forms of bigotry; none of it made sense. Discrimination and prejudice never made any sense at all to Hachen.