STEPHEN GOLDIN is a Nebula Award finalist science fiction and fantasy writer who was born in 1947 in the city of Philadelphia. When he was 13, his parents moved to California and, upon reflection, he decided to accompany them. It was a lucky thing he did, too; otherwise, when he went to college, the commute to UCLA would have been quite difficult. He eventually graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor's degree in Astronomy. His first job out of college was as a civilian space scientist for the U.S. Navy. The urge to write was strong, though, and after several years he left to try writing full time. He only regretted the move every other Thursday, when he would have gotten paid. After several years of genteel poverty, he took a job as writer/editor for a pornographic humor paper, the San Francisco Ball. In retrospect, this was a great crucible; because of deadline pressure, he had to learn to make his writing dirty, funny, and one draft. At about this time, too, he began selling novels on a regular basis. While he has, from time to time, held down other full-time employment (he helped design the Star Trek: The Next Generation computer game "A Final Unity" for Spectrum HoloByte and has also written manuals and game design documents for Maxis), his real love is fiction writing and he continues to pursue it. His first wife was fellow author Kathleen Sky. Their medieval-style wedding was a Saturday morning program item at the 1972 World Science Fiction Convention in Los Angeles. In the 10+ years of their marriage, in addition to their individual works, they collaborated on a pair of stories ("Painting the Roses Red" and "The Devil Behind the Leaves") about the diMedicis, a family of interstellar swindlers. Mr. Goldin's current wife is fellow author Mary Mason. Their wedding took place the night before EclectiCon 1 in Sacramento, at which Mr. Goldin was the Guest of Honor. They currently live in the San Francisco East Bay area. So far they have co-authored two books in the Rehumanization of Jade Darcy series: Jade Darcy and the Affair of Honor and Jade Darcy and the Zen Pirates. More books in this series are planned. Mr. Goldin is an atheist whose interests include Broadway show albums and surrealist art. He has lived with cats virtually all his adult life. Mr. Goldin served the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America as editor of the SFWA Bulletin and as SFWA's Western Regional Director.
Polly!: a comic novel of hope and blasphemyby Stephen Goldin
"Blasphemous...highly offensive"--and VERY funny.
Herodotus Shapiro has had an unbelievably bad week. His wife left him. The IRS is after him for thousands of dollars. His home/bookstore burned down. On his way to take refuge at his brother's place he got a speeding ticket. And now his car has broken down in the middle of the desert in front of a large/p>
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"Blasphemous...highly offensive"--and VERY funny.
Herodotus Shapiro has had an unbelievably bad week. His wife left him. The IRS is after him for thousands of dollars. His home/bookstore burned down. On his way to take refuge at his brother's place he got a speeding ticket. And now his car has broken down in the middle of the desert in front of a large mansion. What more can go wrong?
But now his world takes a turn for the weird. The mansion has a snowman on the front lawn--in the desert in July. The house, which is bigger on the inside than on the outside, is owned by Polly, the most preternaturally beautiful young woman he's ever met. Polly is an acrobat, a gourmet chef, a psychologist, an international financial consultant, a physicist and a woman of who-knows how many other incredible talents. She has an unbelievable library, an art collection of all the world's great masterpieces and a print of a previously unknown Marx Brothers film. Her toilet paper is actually silk.
And she seems to have some mysterious plans for him....
"All hands on Decalogue! A protagonist readers will find it easy to identify and empathize with, a classic journey story told with wit, wisdom and deceptive ease, and the most interesting guest star ever--what's not to like, here? Perhaps writers who attempt a book like Polly! wanna crack or two across the face for their audacity (to parrot conventional wisdom)--but not if they can manage to pull it off this entertainingly."
--Spider Robinson, co-author of Variable Star by Robert A. Heinlein and Spider Robinson
POLLY! is the proud recipient of the Awesome Indie Authors Medal of Approval and received a 5-star rating from Readers Favorite.
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I find organized religion to be deeply offensive to what I *KNOW*. Polly, however, tickled my funnybone, with a deeply irreverent take on God not seen since Alanis Morrissette played god in the movie Dogma. This story was like reading one of those funny, feel-good stories you find in Guideposts magazine, only instead of scripture, this story is hilariously blasphemous to the teeny-tiny confines organized religion has tried to place around so vast a being as God. I can't tell you how many times I giggled as the protagonist (Herodotus ... or 'Hero') navigates his way out of personal tragedy into a Kafhaesque situation where you ask yourself if he died and went to heaven, hell, or some purgatory deeply reminiscent of the Twilight Zone. Polly is irrational and funny, and as she drags Hero in and out of various situations, it will lead you to a much more empowered viewpoint of the Dude Upstairs. If you are a religious person who believes that God truly makes wagers with the devil and tells people to go slit their son's throats to make burnt offerings, then is not the book for you. 4 Perfect Points
By Bill Furlow Stephen Goldin describes himself as a professional fantasy and science fiction writer and an atheist. The first of those descriptors is readily apparent in Polly/!, but a surprise turn makes the last relevant as well. I know I risk turning off some readers if I let on that the book's protagonist, Herodotus, has the greatest sex of his life with a beautiful woman who may actually be God. But reviews are supposed to warn readers away from books they won't like, so perhaps that's not a bad thing. Most readers, though, would lose out if they let a little thing like that deter them from reading this unusual little novel. As the book opens, Herodotus has just awakened in terror to find his bookstore on fire and smoke billowing upward into his second-floor apartment. His wife has left him, and the IRS claims he owes $8,000, which he doesn't have. Now this. Short on good options, he sets out in his decrepit Corolla to pay an unannounced call on his brother, who lives on a ranch in Nevada. On the way, the car breaks down in the grueling desert heat right in front of a mansion. Polly is its owner. It must be said that Goldin is an atheist with a great sense of humor who doesn't take himself too seriously. He is well grounded in the Bible and theology - and the Marx Brothers. The verbal sparring that takes place between Herodotus and Polly, whoever she may actually be, is brilliant from beginning to end. In brief, Polly is a lion-owning, acrobatic, Japanese-speaking, gourmet-cooking nuclear physicist who hosts a houseful of friendly people whose lives she has touched with her kindness and generosity. Not that she always seems so kind to Herodotus, who is understandably confused by such oddities as an elevator in a two-story mansion that ascends for 13 floors. The book is an allegory of self-discovery - or perhaps, universe discovery - by Herodotus, who can't possibly match wits with the wise-cracking, teasing Polly. Without giving away more, let's just say the conversation, which is laced with hundreds of puns and one-liners, eventually works its way around to the Supreme Being. Whether she is or isn't literally divine, Polly's organizing principle is that entropy - the constant tendency of the universe to run down - is unstoppable, even by her, but nevertheless must be resisted. Overwhelmed with Polly's seeming omniscience, Herodotus presses for answers to the big questions about life and thereafter. Eventually he asks, "So fighting entropy is the point?" "No," Polly replies, "Fighting entropy is what I choose to do." She wages the battle on an incalculable number of fronts, including helping a group of protestors save a polluted river, teaching adult illiterates to read and befriending a child with leukemia. Polly! is the kind of book aspiring writers should read just to study the craft. Goldin's writing is fastidious. And he seemingly has the gift (Would that be a theological term?) of calling on everything he knows from the silly to the profound to create a story that starts out being entertaining and winds up being interesting, even thought-provoking. See Great Books Under $5 for more reviews of excellent, low-cost ebooks.