by Glenn Lazar Roberts. The ruthless warrior-noble of the ancient City of Ven, Flores of the Turlicum, is plunged into a series of vicious wars on the alien planet Maalstrom. Crafting bloody encounters, Roberts takes Flores deep in the mysteries that underlie the planet’s weird species which seem somehow engaged in inter-breeding. An environmental tale of balance among separate species? Or the ultimate war between the several sexes of a single race that was once humanoid? Stumbling into the forbidden Temple, Flores falls for the beautiful priestess Amina, and unleashes events that threaten to undermine the planet’s inter-species truce. Written in beautiful language, the sound of the words and the rhythm of the sentences, as Roberts asserts, contain part of the message.

RECENT REVIEWS for Maalstrom:

“Glenn Lazar Roberts is one of the finest writers of unconventional prose in contemporary fiction. His wonderfully inventive plots and mastery of the language place him in the company of Calvino, Burges, Gass… Roberts has created a world of scary prescience and hair-raising adventure… Maalstrom is not only highly imaginative, it’s a splendid work that commands an enthusiastic and committed readership. Highly recommended.” —C. Thorman, author of Holy Orders

“Maalstrom is packed with intrigue, backdoor deals, betrayal, and one heck-of-a fantasy adventure finale. Flores [is] a thinking-man’s-barbarian [in] a classic hero adventure story…a meticulously crafted tale with…an interesting exploration of religion’s impact on culture. If you enjoy…”Game of Thrones”, “John Carter Warlord of Mars”, “Joseph Campbell”, or “Prince of Persia” you’ll enjoy visiting Maalstrom… You may notice that women are strangely out of the picture, but just wait…”—J. Picha

“In Maalstrom, Glenn Lazar Roberts has created an imaginary world filled with exotic creatures and strange customs, and is consistent in its details and at the same time, a reflection of our own world. Maalstrom’s inhabitants are human, with very human strengths and weaknesses, even though the culture is drastically different from anything the reader has ever experienced. The story revolves around Flores, a nobleman of the clan of Turlicum in the city of Vensor. Flores is fighting a political battle to save the city from a corrupt cabal of politicians led by the evil Numsenmur of the Serclasler clan. The intrigue sweeps back and forth as first one side and then the other gain the upper hand. As an invading army lays siege to Vensor, Flores is forced to flee the city in the company of a beautiful priestess, a eunuch and an enslaved warrior. Their adventures on the road form the second half of the book. The suspense and the action never let up. There is always a new twist and a mystery that entices the reader to keep going. Even without all of the intrigue and action, the exotic civilization of Maalstrom is in itself enough to warrant reading just to explore it. This is the kind of book that will keep you up all night reading it.” —Mike Kilgore

“In the tradition of Burroughs and Howard, Roberts give us an exciting story that takes place in the city of Ven as Flores, warlord of the Turlicum clan struggles to assume his rightful place. Inventive, absorbs the reader and takes him or her to places never dreamed of.” —Roger Paulding, author of Solomon’s Journey

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Maalstrom was begun in the autumn of 1975 on a manual typewriter “in a smoke-filled haze” as a twenty-year old college sophomore. Most was completed in two months.

The story: long ago, colonists from Earth landed on Maalstrom, a newly discovered planet circling a double-sun. Some women colonists became infected by a predatory species of native wasp which caused the women’s DNA to merge with the wasp DNA. Abandoning the other colonists, the ‘infected’ women secluded themselves singly in brick shelters which they built around water springs and began giving birth insect-fashion, their male offspring living outside the birth-shelters and their female offspring confined inside.

These ‘wasp-queens’ found their lifespans greatly extended. Vensa was one of these original colonists, already thousands of years old when she gave birth to Flores and Amina, her original brick shelter, which Flores stumbled across in the cavern, crumbling, and long since surmounted by an imposing cloistered Temple.

In the way of all mortals, Flores will die, but Amina will live for millennia and, if adequately protected by the unruly men exiled to the ‘outer slums’ of Her City, give birth to many generations. Her manipulative and selfish behavior is essential to the survival of her quasi-insect species, to which Flores belongs.

The changes in DNA were not confined to the colonist-queens, however, but also created the malkops–or ‘selks,’ resulting in a complex biological interdependence between the various queens in their temples, the men in their cities, the malkops flying above, and Atasan.

That is the background–a swashbuckling Conan-style tale of bloody encounters that can be read merely for fun.

The symbolism goes further.

Maalstrom is the product of an education in anthropology, archaeology, and the psychology and sociology of religion. Religious myth–or, since that is a redundant phrase, just Myth–organizes all human societies. It is social glue, the common values and thought patterns that hold a people together and enable them to communicate and cooperate. Myth is not only for ‘those primitive people over there’–it is everything that you know, and what you think you know. A human without Myth is the ultimate contradiction; there never has been, and never can be, humans without Myth.

Every person with unique values and insights knows well the consequences of straying outside the boundaries of a society’s Myths. They become heretics.

Flores is such a heretic. Or rather becomes one through the process of discovering the biological realities of his insect species, and the supra-factual nature of its Myths. These myths are enforced by an interplay of custom, religion, economics, ideology, and ultimately raw force. No society for long allows heretics to publicly undermine the social glue that allows its society to function. Thus the City of Ven rejects Flores.

But Flores, by his Will to Power, will not be stopped by convention and searches for a way to transcend his society’s Myths and acquire Ultimate Knowledge. The crystal bracelets are the mystical insight that grant this Knowledge. Yezd is the shaman who transmits the technique. The selks are the semi-divine Messengers who guard access to Heaven, and, if properly ritually addressed, will transmit the Hero’s questions to the Divine.

Atasan is an anagram for Satan, the Ruler of the physical world. In Maalstrom, I provide an insight into the role of this Ruler and, I like to think, a unique and provocative explanation of the existence of evil (see Macius’ rendition to Flores of Maalstrom’s dominant Creation Myth while in Yezd’s castle).

Maalstrom and its sequel The Selk King are a single story separated by a cliff-hanger ending. In The Selk King, in the Chapter titled ‘Revelations,’ the reader will find the solutions to the many puzzles underlying Maalstrom’s plot–just before Flores, having acquired mystical insight using his new-found shaman’s technique, storms the ramparts of Heaven.

But don’t expect me to be your Shaman. Whatever you know, or think you know, Myth lies heavy not only on Flores’ perception, but on the reader’s as well. Behind the Veil, Secrets lurk. Such is the nature of Reality, on alien planets like Maalstrom as much as on Earth.

Maalstrom and The Selk King I hope remain as relevant to the Seeker-of-Knowledge’s efforts to break free of Society’s conventions and penetrate the Veil as when written. Dark, insightful and Just Plain Weird.