BY: KEN NEWMAN
In 2014, nineteen-year-old budding novelist, Kieran Nash, finds himself inexplicably transported to the desert world of Adeaa, where he meets an equally bewildered squad of German paratroopers, plucked from a 1944 Italian battlefield. Putting differences aside for the sake of survival, Kieran and the war-hardened German Fallschirmjäger—led by the ever-resourceful Captain Zimmer—set out across the dangerous new world to find a way home, unaware they are key players in a plan that affects the future of two worlds.
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In The God Machine by Ken Newman, Kieran Nash is transported from Earth in 2014 to a desert planet named Adeaa, where he is rescued from a gang of natives by a squad of German paratroopers from 1944. It’s obvious that Kieran’s sudden appearance is a surprise to everyone, including the alien who kidnapped the troopers from Earth. As Kieran and the Germans join forces, they discover that they are here to defeat a “god machine” that has turned the normally peaceful natives into violent slaves. Now, the Earthlings need to find a way home without getting killed by the “god’s” slaves or the alien who kidnapped them in the first place—a task that will take all of their skills and creativity against impossible odds.
Like Newman’s other books, this one is creative, intriguing, and riveting. Once you pick it up you won’t be able to put it down.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: The God Machine by Ken Newman is the story of a loser given a chance to save the world. It’s 2014, and Kieran Nash is a nerdy college student who’s failing one of his important classes. His professor wants him to drop out of her class, but he refuses. He’s determined to get a passing grade and begs for another chance. The professor relents on one condition—he does her a favor and delivers a truck full of furniture to her sister out of state. With few options, Kieran reluctantly agrees. But not long after he starts out on his journey, the trip takes a major detour, and Kieran is transported to a planet with two moons. The first group of beings he sees tries to kill him, and Kieran’s both terrified and confused. But when he’s suddenly rescued by a group of German soldiers who kill the natives, Kieran is even more baffled. The Germans claim to be from the year 1944, fighting a battle against the Allies in Italy, when they were kidnapped and brought to this desolate planet. Although Kieran doesn’t much care for Nazis, and the Germans think the only good American is a dead one, they join forces, trying to get back to Earth—a decision that will change all their lives forever.
In his first two novels, Forsaken and Dead Ends, Newman proved he has a rare talent for science fiction, and The God Machine doesn’t disappoint. In fact, his books just keep getting better. With a unique, clever, and fascinating plot; marvelous, enchanting, and endearing characters; plenty of humor; and enough suspense to keep you glued to the edge of your seat, this is one you really don’t want to miss. I loved it.
On the last day of his life, as he knew it, Kieran Nash leaned back in his chair, watching the girl in the purple beret as if she were the only object in the universe.
“The Day the Hand of Fate Broke a Nail, really?” Jen asked. She gave Kieran a quizzical glance over her glasses. “Are you serious?”
“Title grabs your attention by the throat, doesn’t it?”
Jen rolled her eyes and continued reading. “I should demand pay for suffering this kind of mental abuse.”
“Trust me, beautiful, you’ll thank me later.”
Jen Keller wasn’t the most beautiful girl in Rackham University, yet there was something about the delicate shape of her face and the sparkle in her soft, dark eyes that fascinated Kieran, drawing him like a moth to a flame. He even loved the quirky little purple beret and round hipster glasses, which made her look like a retro beatnik.
Kieran wasn’t shy about proclaiming his desire for her. Trouble was Jen was equally adamant in her resistance to his charm. Jen preferred Kieran well inside the “friend zone,” and any breakout attempts were met with overwhelming force.
Jen quickly read the pages before her, frowning and shaking her head at certain passages. Breathing a sigh of relief, as she finished her task, Jen took the five opening pages of his story and shoved them back at Kieran.
“What do you think, Jen?” Kieran asked. “Dare I say genius?”
“Dare I say ripe cheese?”
“You cut me deep, woman.”
“Whatever,” she said. “I will say that you do paint quite the picture. ‘Desiree looked at me as if I was an all you could eat buffet, and she was a starving super model an hour away from the apocalypse.’ Really, Kieran, you make Mickey Spillane read like Shakespeare.”
“Thanks a lot,” he said. “This is what I get for letting mere mortals peek at greatness. It just spawns jealousy and bitter spite. Besides, Mickey Spillane is way better than Shakespeare. I would put, I, the Jury, up against Hamlet any day of the week.”
Jen snorted. “That proves my theory. You’re delusional.”
“A fine line exists between delusion and greatness, sweetheart. For your information, that was just the opening of thirty-five thousand words dripping with literary gold. Why, it took me two weeks to get the structure and voice just right.”
“Two weeks, on that? I think you tried too hard.”
“Gee, thanks a bunch.”
“Just being honest. Kieran, why do you do this to yourself? You know that Professor Wills hates popular fiction. You turn in this blood-and-testosterone-drenched detective noir tale, and she’ll have no mercy. Even though you’re a pain in my derriere, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.”
“You got it all wrong, beautiful,” he said. “Professor Wills doesn’t hate popular fiction. That woman hates everything. Wouldn’t be a bit surprised if she kicked puppies for a hobby. Being a writer means fearlessness in the face of criticism.”
“Save yourself some lumps and pick your fights, Kieran. Be fearless outside of class, because you can’t win here.”
He gave her a crooked grin. “What’s your masterpiece about, Jen?”
“An alcoholic, dead-beat dad takes his autistic child on a trip to the zoo. I call it, Feeding the Animals.”
“No mob gun battles, anti-heroes or damsels in distress?”
“Nary a one,” she said. “Sorry.”
“Want me to read the opening and give you the benefit of my literary brilliance?”
“I’m good,” she said, clutching the manuscript to her chest protectively.
“Bless you,” he said. “Your description alone took years off my life.”
Jen snarled at him.
Kieran’s laughter morphed into a prodigious yawn.
“Kieran, have I told you lately that you look like death warmed over? When was the last time you slept?”
“Last year. Thank God for energy drinks. I had to pull a double shift last night. Fortunately, for some strange reason, I got the weekend off. My tyrant of a boss, Bill, said not to come back to work until Monday. I can’t remember having two days off in a row.”
“Good for you. You should spend it in bed getting some Zs. You need to slow down before you burn out.”
“Can’t. I’m paying for college, and I’m barely breaking even,” he said. “Since I’m off, how about you come by my place tonight, and I will fix you dinner? We can take our friendship to a new, more intimate level.”
Kieran rose and slipped his arm around her shoulders. “Okay, take out. We can eat and maybe watch a movie. Trust me, it’ll be time well spent. Who knows, it might just change your life.”
Jen gingerly removed his arm from her shoulders as if it were diseased. “No Thanks, Kieran, I like my life and our strictly platonic relationship the way it is. Besides, I already made plans.”
“Plans? As in a date with a dude? Not another of those gym-worshiping lunks you have a taste for?”
“No,” she said, “and what’s wrong with a guy who likes to stay in shape?”
“Talentless athletes whose only goal is to look good in a mirror and treat you like a doormat. We’d be good together.”
Jen rolled her eyes. “Kieran, you have a good heart, I love our gab sessions, and you aren’t too unfortunate looking, but you dress like a bum and are allergic to sunshine. In other words, you’re not my type.”
“I may not have buns of steel, but I would treat you with respect, and the finest take out this town has to offer. I’ll expect you at seven, okay?”
“You never stop, do you?” she asked.
“My mom calls me relentless.”
“I’m not getting into another argument with you, so back off. For your information, it’s my great-grandmother’s eighty-eighth birthday, and she’s celebrating it with me.”
“That sounds like a red-hot time on the town,” he said. “Don’t let the old girl get you into trouble. The last thing you need is to wake up hungover with a fresh tattoo of I like Ike or Down with Prohibition on your arm.”
“Don’t scoff, punk. Gramie’s cool, completely inappropriate, and doesn’t take guff from anyone. She’s great, not to mention she’s financing my education.”
“That sounds nice.”
“Yes, it is. Besides, it’s the least I can do for her, especially since my great-grandfather died six-months ago. The poor thing seems lost and alone, nothing like the strong-willed woman I remembered as a girl. As a matter of fact, the wild stories she told me growing up made me want to be a writer.” Jen laughed.
“What’s so funny?”
“Oh, I was thinking of this crazy series of science fiction stories, Gramie told me. Wild, off the wall adventures about a pair of human explorers, marooned when their rocket ship crashed landed on the planet Bosco. She went into lurid detail about sexy Jasmin Lake and her boy-toy stud, Clark Valentino as they explored the lost world and the remains of a sinister, super scientific race called the Marshooms. The stories were farfetched and cheesy as you can get, but there were times growing up that I wished I was Jasmin and had square jawed he-man Clark to my devious devices.”
“I’m standing right here,” he said.
Jen sighed. “Gramie sure could weave a great tale, full of adventure and plot twists wrapped around a little old fashioned romantic smut.”
“Good for her,” Kieran said. “Tomorrow night, then? I’ll let you call me Clark, and you can break out the devious devices.”
“I’ll think about it. Okay, I thought about it. The answer is still no, Clark.”
“You’re killing me, woman. When I’m rich and famous as the world’s greatest mystery writer, you’ll be sorry. You come to my palatial beach house, and I’ll sic the dogs on you.”
Jen snorted. “That will be the day.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, please turn in the writing assignment,” Professor Wills said, from the front of the classroom. “It had better wow me, or else.”
Tall, painfully thin, and dressed in somber black, Professor Janet Wills stood behind her desk, like an academician version of the grim reaper. Her close-cropped silver hair emphasized her pinched face and razor thin lips that always seemed to be scowling. Arms crossed, she watched as the subdued band of undergraduates turned in their latest assignments. She smiled ever so slightly, as the image of neophytes laying sacrificial lambs upon the altar of English Lit, crossed her mind.
None of the two dozen students dared to make eye contact with the infamous ‘Queen Bitch,’ of the English department. Professor Wills was proud of her reputation and sadistic teaching methods. It was said that she drove at least one student, per semester, to tears. It was an informal fraternity, which over the years had come to be known as “Wills’s Wailers.”
While her students hated the ground she walked on, and her teaching methods ground university guidelines to dust, she essentially had carte blanche because her one and only book had won the Pulitzer Prize thirty years before.
A Pulitzer prizewinner on staff gave Rackham University enormous prestige and made Professor Wills, short of murder, untouchable.
Professor Wills watched Kieran Nash chat with Jennifer Keller with keen interest. Two days before, Kieran was a faceless name on a roll, a lackluster writer without a voice, or future outside of the fast food industry. He was unworthy of her time or attention, but today, he was the center of her universe.
Professor Wills thought of herself as a superior, evolved human being, a full five levels above the rabble that was everyone else, as such, her confidence was unshakable, that is until today. While she struggled to maintain her cool façade, she felt the unfamiliar knot of nervousness bloom within her stomach.
The sixty-year-old educator strategically cleared her throat, which caught the attention of the students in the room with the same result as if someone had fired a gun.
“Mr. Nash, I would like a word with you in my office, now.”
Without waiting for a response, the professor turned on her heel and stalked to her office door. The tall, dark-haired young man froze, as did the rest of the class.
“I do not have all day, Mr. Nash,” she said, her well-practiced icy tone forging her words into projectiles as tangible as iron.
Professor Wills opened the frosted glass door to her inner sanctum and waited with a pale, boney fist on her hip.
“Oh no,” Kieran said under his breath. “I don’t need this now.”
“Nice knowing you, Mr. Nash,” Jen whispered, as Kieran shuffled toward the professor on numb legs. “Better you than me.”
Kieran turned and stuck his tongue out at her.
“As for the rest of you talentless, turds, I will see you Monday and you had better be prepared, or else.”
As she turned and ushered Kieran into her office, those present gave Professor Wills a well-choreographed, one-finger salute.
© 2018 by Ken Newman