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1892 Gaslamp Era True Crime National Scandal Why did the Beautiful Stranger Die so Violently?

Clocktower Books, a San Diego Small Press, pioneering in online and e-book publishing, has released titles since 1996. Visit Galley City (mainstream fiction) or Galley City Nonfiction. John T. Cullen has authored over 40 novels plus poetry and shorts. His nonfiction spans History, Science, and many other topics of pressing interest: he knows how to pick them (a growing collection of fascinating articles by a free thinker & diligent researcher).

True Crime 1892 Gaslamp Era Mystery Thanksgiving Day 24 November 1892, the Beautiful Stranger checked into the luxury resort Hotel del Coronado under false I.D. and never checked out alive. She died of a gunshot to the head during a great sea storm. Her case became a national sensation and enduring ghost legend. Enigma solved at last: 2 books in one: Dead Move (nonfiction, scholarly analysis); Lethal Journey (fictional dramatization based on the analysis): Coronado Mystery.


Clocktower Books 1996 history's first real e-books online


CAROUSEL of Book Covers. Click below to visit Café Okay, my online bookshop. Refresh browser: see 50+ titles. Enjoy a good read.

Teenage Author

Teenage Poet

teenage poet - over 425 poems and one novel read free at Galley City link at Summer Planets

Teenage Novelist

teenage poet - over 425 poems and one novel read free at Galley City link at Summer Planets


Starlight Deep Within a Gothic Sea

Phantoms & Ghost Music in the Key of Borges (Virtual Reality/DarkSF)

A DarkSF Novel by John Argo (Science Fiction)

DarkSF is the Dark Chocolate of SF—The Best of the Best[*]

click to read half free at Galley CityFirst SF HTML Novel ever published online 1996:John Argo's novel tells the story of a young reporter named Zoë Calla, in a contemporary small California coastal town, who uncovers a primordial alien plot to conquer the world. During the dinosaur age, an alien invasion fleet came to earth, but its ships burned up in orbit. One plunged into the sea, where its computer core is now starting to reassemble the ship and resume the invasion. Already it's got strange avatars living in Zoë's brain, and weird events happening across town—people are dying or falling into strange comas, and it's getting scary around San Tomas. More info at the book page on Amazon online.

Brief History: Written 1990 as Heartbreaker, retitled 1998 as This Shoal of Space, and in 2019 (Blade Runner Year) retitled Woman in the Sea; and again, to celebrate its nature as an early (pre-Matrix, etc) virtual reality novel in line with some of the metaphysical (20th C.) novels by authors like Jorge Luis Borges et al, as Starlight Deep Within A Gothic Sea: Phantoms & Ghost Music in the Key of Borges (Virtual Reality/DarkSF).

Reviews. Among the avid readers around the world in the mid-1990s (before e-commerce and before e-books as we commonly thing of them), the most poignant review came from Tracy Eastgate at Between The Sheets Reviews. See below[**] for full info.

A complex, imaginative tale set in a small California coastal town where the every-day touches hauntingly on the fabric of far space. A young reporter looking for her big break investigates mysterious zoo murders and stumbles upon an intergalactic invader in a virtual netherworld. Two men hover at the periphery—sinister Det. Vic Lara and handsome curator George Chatfield, each with his own terrible mysteries. The ending is not for the literal-minded—but by today, most people have seen "The Matrix" and other VR-empowered flicks and can deal with The White Stuff, The Cold Thing, and other concepts expanded upon here. This was one of the first virtual reality SF stories, written originally in 1990 and far ahead of its genre. It's a horror novel in the broad sense, and yet it never technically departs from the strictures of SF. Among the many novel concepts developed, which baffled early readers, was the idea of massively arrayed parallel computers (in this case, early laptop microprocessors). Huge fan base around the world with tech-savvy computer folks in the late 1990s for these and other John Argo novels.

Review: Tracy Eastgate, Under The Covers Reviews (circa 1998?) "Five Stars. Outstanding, A definite must read… a powerful book"—Tracy Eastgate, Under The Covers Reviews.

Ms. Eastgate contacted me, John T. Cullen (John Argo) privately to say: "I want to pay you a compliment. Rarely does a book EVER get under my skin or in my subconcious enough to cause dreams of any sort, but I'll tell you what, by time this morning came, I wasn't sure I wanted to go back to sleep or not… lol… I actually had mild nightmares last night… I love it… this is an absolutely awesome book."—Tracy Eastgate, Under The Covers Reviews, in a letter to the author of this novel.

[*] What is DarkSF? John Argo defines DarkSF as 'The Dark Chocolate of Speculative Fiction.' It is not about shallow characters and juvenile story fare (scary, horror, blood, gore, or the like) but about the finest the SF genre has to offer. It is cinematic, rich, nuanced, atmospheric, even poetic at times. Think Blade Runner, Dark City, and other complex, sophisticated imaginative material. This of SF classics by Cordwainer Smith, Alice Sheldon ('James Tiptree, Jr.'), Chip Delaney, Octavia Butler, Ursula K. LeGuin, Ray Bradbury, William Golding, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, and other masters of the art. For thoughtful readers who want something better than the meat-cleaver sausage product of mass media. Author's Note: I had a lot of fun with this novel ('between the sheets,' so to speak, meaning sheets of paper of course). I purposely wrote it to seem like a horror and fantasy novel, until it morphs into what it really is: totally science fiction. It was, in fact, a virtual reality novel written in 1990, whereas the landmark, Hugo Award movie *The Matrix* (VR) dates to 1999, dir. Wachowskis, starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, et al. NOTE: I will shortly publish more info on the general history of virtual reality type fiction, and how I happened upon it (influences). Stand by for that. (JTC)

[*] Tracey Eastgate's Review (1998ish): Genre: Science Fiction ***** Outstanding, A definite must read.

San Tomas, California seems to be a peaceful, quiet community, or is it? Strange and unexplained things are happening and nobody can or is willing to talk about them. What is happening here? Normal healthy animals are suddenly dying at the zoo. With no explanation or warning, healthy people are suddenly falling into comas. Then to make matters worse, people are starting to disappear and gruesome murders being committed.

What has turned this town into a living nightmare? Mary Shane MacLemore (Note: now Zoë Calla) doesn't know, but she is determined to find it out. As a young struggling reporter, this could be her big break, especially when she manages to temporarily become assigned to the Police Beat of the newspaper. On her first day, she stumbles onto something, what though, she doesn't know, at least not yet. All of a sudden, she starts feeling like she is completely losing her mind. She is hearing a voice inside of her head and she is convinced for unknown reasons that this voice or whatever it is, is Pure Evil.

Going against direct orders from her boss and recommendations and advice from everyone else, Zoë (Mary Shane) begins to investigate all of the strange occurrences and deaths. The further she investigates and digs, the worse things get for her. All of the clues and trails in one way or another lead back to the Burtongale's, the most powerful family in San Tomas. Some even say there wouldn't be a town without the Burtongales. What are they hiding? What are the secrets that they are guarding so fiercely? As Zoë (Mary Shane) fights to retain her sanity, she comes face to face with the horrifying truth. Truth that will cost not only her life, but also the lives of people she loves.

This is a powerful book and if I could give it more than 5 stars I would. Words can not even begin to come close to expressing the effect this book will have on you. This Shoal Of Space is masterfully written and will completely draw you into its world. It will grip you within the pages and make you question things and events around you. This is not your basic SciFi; this book is full of everything a person could want in a book and more.


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