Doug Goodman

Texas Horror Writer. Cadaver Dog Handler.

Doug's Blog

Texas horror writer and human remains dog handler.

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Brief Reviews: Lord of Stone by DJ Goodman

Posted by douggoodman on June 4, 2017 at 7:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Lord Of StoneLord Of Stone by D.J. Goodman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First, a clarification: I am not related to DJ Goodman.

As a reader, I wish I could find more books like Lord of Stone. As a writer, I wish I'd written it. Lord of Stone is like King Kong and Michael Crichton's Congo, but even more interesting. Lord of Stone has its roots in expedition adventures that seek to discover strange creatures in far-away places. But what makes this book stand out is its modern feel and its character study. Trudy Hollis is primatologist famous for her work in the 80s and 90s among gorillas. When Lord of Stone begins, though, the famed primatologist is floundering. She is really struggling with life. She is divorced, alcoholic, suffers symptoms of depression, and is ridiculed by her peers and the mainstream media because she had to shoot a gorilla when a little boy fell into the gorilla's enclosure. Trudy is every person who has ever had to make a hard decision in life and then had to live with the consequences of making an unpopular decision for the right reasons.

There is another aspect to Trudy that is very important to her and to the book. She is a lesbian. Not only that, she is a lesbian returning to African countries that have very strict morality laws and horrible consequences for being gay. This makes the story so much more compelling and adds tension to everything that happens once Trudy and the expedition enter the Virunga Mountains in search of the lost gorillas and their god. This is again pulled right out of recent headlines. I found myself even more invested in this character and her struggles. I also applaud the writer. It is not easy putting yourself out there and writing about gay and diverse characters. But I think there is a lot of payoff in this cast. They feel real, and what they are experiencing feels even more real, even if it is an adventure centered around a giant gorilla.

It would have been very easy to start this story with a giant gorilla killing people. I think the D.J. Goodman made a wise decision in letting this story unravel slowly. The tension builds as the characters work their way first to Africa, and then into the jungle mountains. Like a good Crichton novel, this journey would never have happened without a few guiding questions that need to be answered. They are related to the sociology of the gorillas and whether or not wild gorillas are creating art, religion, or if something else is at play. I like that this story asks those questions, and it asks those questions without every feeling like a wikipedia entry about mountain gorillas or gorillas socialization. That is a credit to the writer for keeping the story flowing, which it does by emphasizing the characters and their plight.

Overall, this is a fun, fantastic book that I would recommend to anyone who likes African adventures or stories about giant monsters.

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New Free Kindle Books

Posted by douggoodman on May 28, 2017 at 8:40 AM Comments comments (0)

I have a new link I've found that I wanted to share:

Newfreekindlebooks gives exactly what you think: new *FREE* kindle books. They have a blog that you can sign up for and everything (free, of course) so go check them out!!!

Kaijunaut is now available!

Posted by douggoodman on April 26, 2017 at 10:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Hello, everyone! My new monster book, Kaijunaut, is out now. Please go check it out. Download it for free on Kindle if you have unlimited, or download a copy from Amazon for $3.99.

Every time I see this book cover, I get a Steve Irwin voice in the back of my head, saying "Isn't she a beaut?" She is!

Seriously, I had such a wonderful time writing and researching this book. I originally pitched it as "The Martian" meets Godzilla. What it allowed me to do, however, is talk to so many of my friends and co-workers about life at JSC and get their opinion on things like, say, how many ways can we die between here and Mars. We talked gravity, gravity reacclimation, space protocols, and this was all before I sent the book to them for review. Trust me when I say they had no problem telling me, "Doug, that doesn't work." So I like to say that after all that research and referencing, this is probably going to be the most realistic "astronauts meet kaiju" book you read this week. Not only did I work with people on this book, but I also did some reading of my own. Chris Hadfield's "An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth" and Robert Zubrin's "The Case for Mars" were big influences on this book, as well as Andy Weir's "The Martian." (Duh!)

In Kaijunaut, five astronauts have ventured across the galaxy to the system  51 Golgotha. They are there to investigate the first known remains of an ancient alien civilization. They are really excited to be there, and they all work really well together. Except for Cole. Cole is a good man, but he is also the replacement linguist on this expedition. He was chosen as the replacement because a. he is an expert in the language, and b. his wife is the commander of the expedition. And this couple is a happy married couple. In fact, everybody is pretty happy and excited about the whole adventure until the mountains they just crossed start to rumble, and things start turning upside down on them, and what they assumed to be one thing becomes another thing altogether. Pretty soon, they are caught between an alien race that's come back to life and the kaiju monsters out to raze the aliens. I don't want to spoil any more of the book, but let's just say things get weird, and the astronaut's training gets really pushed because who trains for kaiju? Not these astroanauts!

So if any of this sounds interesting to you, go grab a copy! Have an adventure. Learn about the ancient language of the Jedik-ikik. Walk among their pyramids. Fight giant monsters in your NASA-made mechs! Debate whether, as a famous NASA astronaut, you'd rather have a school or a porn star's move named after you! 

Thanks for reading!

Trails 36 and 37: New Mexico's Enchantments

Posted by douggoodman on March 9, 2017 at 10:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…

Often I find that my writing and my hiking mirror each other. Recently, this seems very true. I have four books in various stages of editing, two for release and two of them books that I can’t seem to finish. On the other hand, last week in New Mexico I hiked two trails, but finished neither (for two very different reasons)…

I was doing outreach work in Albuquerque, so I of course wanted to take the opportunity to hike a few trails as part of my 42 Trails goal this year. I decided the best time to do this was my first day in Albuquerque. I’m sure I was a sight on the airline, dressed in a dirty old pair of hiking boots, worn out blue jeans, and one of my hiking t-shirts. After some internal debate, I decided on the Sandia Crest trail first. It was up in the mountains rising above Albuquerque. Now, I know it is cliché to call mountain views breathtaking and awe-inspiring. But there’s a reason for that. The Sandia Crest trail is a short, beautiful trail with awe-inspiring vistas of the desert floor beneath the mountains. Since that morning I woke up at 0-feet sea level and was now hiking around at ~10,500 feet above sea level, let me assure IT WAS BREATHTAKING. Sandia Crest made a great number 36. What made it even more exciting was the discovery of snow and ice at Sandia Crest! When I set out almost a year ago to hike 42 trails, I never thought hiking in snow would be in the works. Beaches, hills, swamps, and forests, sure. But snow? Not for this Houston boy…

When they named this trail the “Sandia Crest,” they weren’t mincing words. The half-mile loop teeters at the very edge of the Sandia mountains. And if that weren’t exhilarating enough, in winter, the trail is covered in ice that slopes out and away…and off the mountain. In parts, a brick ledge would save you from being flung over the mountainside, but in other parts, nothing more than a chain link fence (without a bottom rail, I might add) and the grace of God keeps you on top of the mountain. It is definitely a crampon-and-sticks trail, which I was not equipped for. Using the STOP method that I had discussed with Cub Scouts the previous week (Stop, Think, Observe, and Plan), I decided the best route for my safety was to turn around and head back to the car…

By the Way, the road to the Sandia Crest is worth the trip alone, even if you don’t get out at the top of the mountain. It’s a winding, twisting corridor of beauty. So my heart was not heavy as I drove through this mesermizing, transplanted landscape. Picture it: in the middle of a desert, I was driving through blowing snow in the pines. Like I was in a winter Range Rover commercial, except I was driving a little Hyundai Sonata. What a wonderful place New Mexico is! I was slightly exhausted, but mostly thrilled with the little adventure I’d just had. So I drove back into the desert and visited the Petroglyphs National Monument in Albuquerque. I wanted to hike through one of the canyons and see the petroglyphs. Like a good hiker, though, first I checked in at the visitor center. There, the rangers advised me NOT to complete the trail. I thought they were crazy, but I listened. They suggested hiking the far side of the looped trail because it was closer to the canyon’s escarpment, a.k.a., the petroglyphs. They then suggested turning around at the end of the canyon, walking back up the trail the way I’d come. If I did that, I would see even more petroglyphs! (I did.) The rest of the loop crossed open grassland, which would have taken me away from the glyphs!

So two trails, two incompletes, but two of the best trails I’ve hiked in the past year. Once again, I’m reminded that each trail is an adventure with something new to see, whether it is snow over the desert or ancient Pueblo arts.

Now if I can just get a book out…


Brief Review: Following Atticus, by Tom Ryan

Posted by douggoodman on February 9, 2017 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary FriendshipFollowing Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship by Tom Ryan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loaned this book from the library, but it was so good I may have to go out and buy a copy so that I can highlight my favorite lines, like "Magic is where you find it; the only thing that matters is that you take the time to look for it."

The exceptional writer has an ability of putting you in their footsteps. In Following Atticus, every mountain summit was a hard-fought win, and although I've never been to New England, I felt like I'd struggled through the wintry wasteland of the Bonds and pushed through to summit at Mt. Washington, and that I had a little, furry friend named Atticus leading me the entire way. This is a book for dog lovers, hikers, and the people who look for the roads less taken.

The book is lyrical in a way that Tom Ryan's influences (Emerson and Thoreau, especially) bleed through onto the page. While the book can sometimes feel a little overblown, over all this is one of the strongest memoirs I've read.

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Brief Review: Monstres, Vol. 1: Awakening, by Marjorie Liu

Posted by douggoodman on January 28, 2017 at 8:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening (Collected Editions)Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening by Marjorie M. Liu

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This one left me with a quandary. On the one hand, the visuals are some of the best I've seen. Sana Takeda's devotion to fully developed, exquisitely-detailed panels is deserving of every recognition she receives, and then some. I think I could spend an afternoon just perusing page to page of the art deco-meets-manga style. The story, on the other hand, while intriguing, was convoluted. I had a hard time getting through the book's story, and now that I've read it, I'm not sure I remember what I read. That's not to say it's bad. Just, be forewarned when you pick this one up.

Of course, none of this says what the book is about. And I don't feel ready to tell you what it is all about, but I will say it is the story of a young woman who may be the hero or villain. She has a Cthulhu-type god living inside her, and there are also kaiju. Maybe. There are witch-nuns, airships, unicorns, and three-tailed cats that quote poets. I know that doesn't give you much, but I think you will have to unlock this book for yourself if you want to know more.

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Brief Review: Black Science, Vol5: True Atonement, by Rick Remender

Posted by douggoodman on January 28, 2017 at 8:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Black Science, Vol. 5: True AtonementBlack Science, Vol. 5: True Atonement by Rick Remender

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a good book, but compared to the previous 4, I didn't like it as much. While I liked the adventure with the witch, most of this volume feels a bit like it exists to set up further story lines and push us forward. And that's just it. For a series that has is always in forward motion, this feels like a pause before the rush.

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Brief Review: As Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth, by Chris Hadfield

Posted by douggoodman on January 27, 2017 at 2:50 PM Comments comments (0)

An Astronaut's Guide to Life on EarthAn Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've worked at NASA for over 15 years, and this is the first astronaut bio I picked up. I read it mainly thinking for research for Kaijunaut ("get inside an astronaut's head" kind of reading), but I ended up enjoying this book a lot. I liked the spin on the astronaut bio, that it read like a self-help book, but not an overindulgent one. And the book is still mostly about Col. Hadfield's experiences - how he worked to become an astronaut at a time when Canada wasn't flying into space, what it was like living on MIR, and of course it culminates in his final experience as commander of Expedition 34/35. I would recommend this book to anyone who is tired of stuffy biographies, or for any first-time readers of astronaut bios. I have to say, the book left me wanting more, similar stories.

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Cadaver Dog is in Horror Maiden's Top 12 Books of 2016 List

Posted by douggoodman on December 22, 2016 at 5:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Wow! Cadaver Dog made it into the Horror Maiden's Top 12 Books of 2016. I have to be honest. I'm really honored by this. Horror Maiden is a book reviewer of all things horror who I'd been kind of watching and stalking for a few months. I didn't think she'd actually read my book, if I'm being completely honest. But I fired off an e-mail and hoped for the best. The Good Lord must have been watching over me because she accepted the book, and she gave it a really good review, and now it's on her list of the top 12 books of the year! Wow! I am very humbled. Go check out her post and give Horror Maiden some love. She gives of her time, not just reading the books but critiquing them, too. I really mean it when I say that the publishing world needs more people like her, people willing to give an honest opinion of the book and help steer readers to the best of them. Thankfully, this year, she chose Cadaver Dog as one of the best.

Brief Review: The Sculptor, by Scott McCloud

Posted by douggoodman on December 18, 2016 at 9:35 PM Comments comments (0)

The SculptorThe Sculptor by Scott McCloud

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was just wowed by this story of an artist who makes a deal with death so that he can have powers that will make him be able to do things he's never done as a sculptor before. But this is much more than a Dr. Faustus/The Seventh Seal story (though there are obvious parallels and at least one reference to the chess match with death). Scott McCloud really delves into the difficulty of making good art, and all the turmoils that artists go through in life. Scott McCloud does this in a way that keeps the reader turning the page all the way to the end. This is one of my favorite reads of 2016.

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