Red Army Inc.: A Thread in ‘Beware the Spider’

China’s Red Army, formally the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), has a long and extensive history of controlling civilian companies, with the earnings accruing considerable wealth to generals and their families.

China Emblem PLA.svg

Emblem, People’s Liberation Army (Source: Wikipedia)

By one estimate, PLA-owned profit-making firms — “from conglomerates to small factories and shops” — numbered as many as 20,000 in the early 1990s.

In my forthcoming Black Orchid Chronicle, Beware the Spider (due out June 3), I wondered what would happen if one such firm encountered my protagonist, Sebastian Arnett, and his power to kill with his thoughts.

As you might imagine, things get complicated, then confused and finally don’t end well at all.

Watch for Beware the Spider, and enjoy the adventure.



A Room Without Windows: Horace Mann

“A house without books is like a room without windows.”

Horace Mann

I feel a special connection with Mann since he served as the first president of my alma mater, Antioch College.

Antioch College seal.png

Windows serve two functions:

  • To let in light.
  • To allow us to see out.

Antioch filled those roles for me wonderfully.

Free Books from the Met

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is making fifty years worth of books free on the Net.

I downloaded about ten from the Met Publications site. No charge. Easy search. Easier browse (since I don’t know much about art). Download as PDFs.

The artwork is, as you would expect, spectacular.

I downloaded “Bloom” because in my other life I take a lot of photos of flowers. Published in 1995 and now out of print, Bloom is a “celebration of flowers in fashion.” I didn’t read the text but I enjoyed looking at the photos and was amazed by the dressmaker’s lavish attention to detail.

I was especially intrigued by two books of American Indian art — Masterworks from the Museum of American Indian and Native Paths: American Indian Art from the Collection of Charles and Valerie Diker. I’m researching tribal legends, myths and belief systems to round out a character for the third book of the Black Orchid Chronicles. That manuscript is almost done, but I need to add some heft to the “Pony That Sees Far” character, aka for dumb white folk as Joe.

If you love ancient Egypt, you have just unlocked a graduate study of resources not just of Egyptian art but hieroglyphic language. Teach yourself Egyptian. It’s free.

I don’t know much, if anything, about art. I don’t write about art.

But I think any writer could find at least a half-dozen useful resources here. And did I mention it’s free?