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The Dung Ball Chronicle

From Wayne Miller:

Now available free online (with a Creative Commons license) and as paperback. Here’s the full blurb… or start with the blue text half way downdung ball chronicle - small cover

The things chronicled here are, and are not, what they seem. For one, the language is all wrong: The titular dung balls are actually made of hallucinogenic mold, cultivated for relaxation by members of an intelligent bug-like alien species, but providing an immersive escape for the small number of otherworld abductees brought back to the bugs’ world. The “bugs” are not especially arthropodic, but a cross-melding of earthly phyla, and are more socialist than hive-social. For another, the chronicle is full of discomforting superimpositions here on earth: Séances and past-life regression. Missing persons and media manipulation. Illuminati and the A.I. singularity. Gaia and alternate reality games. Conspiracy theories and infidelity. Telepathy and a future human, whose industrialized body fills a factory in deep space. And Sasquatch wandering the Duke Forest – why not? We may not want to follow, but the uncertainty of what we don’t know about our universe, once accepted, can lead us arbitrarily far. What we know: The narrator is John Densch, a frustrated husband, father and low-level technocrat who starts the whole ball rolling with a joke about a “bog monster.” We meet his wife, Doreen, who wants so badly for John to move beyond the imaginary ensnaring him, but finds that everything comes with a price; Bollum, a voice in young John’s head that told him tales of alien abduction and of a technological utopia for humanity, albeit one with an expiration date; and Derek, an abductee trapped on Bug World, at first a character in Bollum’s tales, but in time an alternate existence for John. As John is jolted from one conflict to another, on earth and in his head, he encounters questions big and small about faith and self-reliance, meaning and trust. Like Derek, he must decide to return to his normal life, or not; both know what they must swallow to get there.