Category Archives: My books

2 novels: one looking at pre-historic cave art in France; the other at the deeper meaning of the Holy Grail

My novel THE GRAIL CONSPIRACIES is a technothriller set in the present, with some plot loops back to World War II, mostly in France, and another loop even further back, to the era of the Knights Templar, alleged guardians of the Holy Grail.

That said, let me recommend another thriller (sort of a technothriller, which I’ll explain below). THE CAVES OF PERIGORD (by Martin Walker) is also set in the present, which also loops back to a good many scenes in the World War II era, mostly in France. And there is another loop even farther back– this time back 17,000 years to the time of the creation of the pre-historic cave dwellings in southern France.

Here the “techno” part of technothriller relates to finding and establishing authenticity of those prehistoric pieces of art.

Martin Walker (day job: foreign correspondent, now at a think-tank in Washington) clearly did heavy research, not just on cave art, but on the realities of life in France during the Occupation, and on the interplay of the various political factions within the Resistance. The German SS Panzer Division, Das Reich, also plays a (not-very-pleasant) role in the story . . . as it does in THE GRAIL CONSPIRACIES.

Martin Walker is also the author of the fantastic (to put it mildly) series on Bruno, Chief of Police in the small-town atmosphere of the Dordogne region of France. Last I looked there were about ten in the series, and here’s the link:

Interestingly, one of the most clicked-on pages in this blog is my reference to Max Hastings’ book, DAS REICH: The March of the Second Panzer Division Through France, which was one of the reference books I used in the background of The GRAIL CONSPIRACIES.

In a small coincidence, Max Hastings also wrote a newspaper opinion piece in a British paper at the time of the London Riots in the summer of 2011. I linked to that in a couple of earlier posts on this blog, as he describes, very astutely, the sad “army of feral youths” (his very apt term) who were immersed in those riots . . . who are also the same kind / mindset as the (fictional) worldwide army of angry misfits, followers of Twisted Messiah, the fictional rock group with political ambitions in THE GRAIL CONSPIRACIES.

My post at that time was “Twisted Messiah” fan riots improbable? Reality strikes in England!

Link to the Max Hastings article in London Dail Mail on the “army of feral youths”

“Are myths about the rejuvenating powers of young blood true?””– from Aeon

The article raises this question: “Are myths about  the rejuvenating powers of young blood true?”

The answer, as I discern it from this and other literature: Definitely yes and no.

Not long ago here we posted about some research in Lund, Sweden attempting to rejuvenate blood (of mice) by reprogramming stem cells.  Link to that post and the article on rejuvenating blood    The broader topic there, of course, is the search for methods of achieving radical life extension.

My point is that the idea of recapturing youth by somehow rejuvenating via young blood is very new– witness the Swedish research.  But it is also very old, as recounted in this article in the Briish AEON, which begins way back in the myths of ancient times and carries through to what’s happening now. Oh yes, vampires are covered in it, as well.  Here’s the link to that AEON article

(This post originally appeared on another of my sites:  That site  was my author’s research blog for the medical science techno-thriller A REMEDY FOR DEATH   

(It is still active, though I am gradually moving the posts over to this new site,, which includes background information for Remedy and  all of my other technothrillers.

Synthetic human embryos from human stem cells? Ethical issues on the horizon!

That’s where it all begins . . .  human life, that is. What you see is a scan of the surface of a human embryonic stem cell.  (Photo credit to David Scharf and Science Source. )

An article by Carl Zimmer  in the NY Times this week raised the prospect that science is on the threshold of creating “synthetic human entities with embryolike features”.  (“Sheefs” in their acronym.)

Hold it right there!  Just what IS a “synthetic human entity with embryolike features”?

“Soon, experts predict, they will learn how to engineer these cells into new kinds of tissues and organs. Eventually, they may take on features of a mature human being.” (Quote from the Times article, my emphasis added.)

“Features of a mature human being”  –– Hmm, and what does that mean?  Does that ( in the not-so far distant future) mean man-made creatures walking around, looking like us, but with “parents” were petri dishes in a lab?

I don’t speak directly of Sheefs or stem cells in my science techno-thriller A REMEDY FOR DEATH, but the problem REMEDY raises is much the same as in the quote–taking on “features of a mature human being”.  (For the record, neither did Michael Crichton in JURASSIC PARK get into this issue of stem cells in bringing about his dinosaurs.)  But something like that had to have been done in both JURASSIC and REMEDY to reach the outcomes.

But REMEDY and JURASSIC PARK  are just science fiction. But the “fiction” is quickly fading as reality pushes up against the “what-if.”  As Paul Knoepfler, a biologist at University of California, Davis, put it, speaking of this and other  related research at the University of Cambridge: “They’ve opened the door to a lot of tough questions.”

Which echoes a warning from the fictional Kate Remington, Ph.D.  in A REMEDY FOR DEATH: “You’re opening very dangerous doorways! Once they’re open, there’s no stopping what may come through from the other side of that doorway!”

A REMEDY FOR DEATH: articles on radical life extension, reversing aging, the quest for human immortality, and regenerative medicine

As  my technothriller, A REMEDY FOR DEATH, is set in areas including anti-aging methods, bio-engineering, radical life extension, the quest for human immortality,organ regeneration and organ fabrication, regenerative medicine, reversing aging, the quest for eternal youth, and transhumanism, I keep an eye out for articles on these and related topics.

Here are a few of the more intriguing. Normally, I’d like to comment on them and put them into perspective, but the list has grown too quickly recently.  


Tech titans’ latest: Project Defy Death. Washington Post, page 1 above the fold, April 5, 2015;

Continue reading A REMEDY FOR DEATH: articles on radical life extension, reversing aging, the quest for human immortality, and regenerative medicine

Organ harvesting from aborted human fetuses, medical ethics, and the medical techno-thriller, A REMEDY FOR DEATH

The  method used in my medical techno-thriller, A REMEDY FOR DEATH, depends on human stem cells from adult donors (Induced Pluripotent Cells—IPS cells) rather than tissue from aborted fetuses–a topic very much in the news recently because of a series of videos.

(Want to know more  about Induced Pluripotent Cells? Here’s a link to a basic Wikipedia overview.)

In case the link doesn’t work, here it is in open form:

 That said, an alternate research strand is very much in the news these days—fetal tissue research using organs from aborted fetuses.

Reasonable people can—and most definitely do, strongly—disagree on the medical ethics not only of abortion but also of “organ harvesting” from the resulting fetus. The fields of bio-engineering, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine are moving very fast, and  medical ethicists are struggling to keep apace.

I expect you’ve heard about—and perhaps watched—the series of videos made by the Center for Medical Progress, an anti-abortion group recording interviews with Planned Parenthood staffers, as well as shots of the product of abortions induced in Planned Parenthood  facilities.

In A REMEDY FOR DEATH,   I  raised different but related issues involving bio-engineering, organ harvesting and other issues–different because the plot-line does not involve aborted fetuses. But it does  touch upon some of the same issues of medical ethics and biological research ethics as are raised by these videos and resulting discussions.

For  an informative, balanced article on this issue of using aborted human fetal tissue in research, I suggest Sarah Kliff’s piece in VOX: “The Planned Parenthood controversy over aborted fetus body parts, explained”

That link repeated, in case it didn’t come through: