Tag Archives: Colin Falconer

Mostly tooth

Yes, these last couple of days have been about a tooth. Nothing like visiting the dentist for a regular checkup and being told you need a crown. Immediately. So I got one. That was yesterday.

Not that this was unexpected. And my dentist is excellent. But having even an excellent dentist hammering away in your jaw for an hour could ruin your day, or your next couple of days. And that adrenaline rush that comes with the local anesthesia? I crash every time.

Lucky for me my goals were set up a couple of weeks ago. They’re just about habits by now, and I sure needed my new habits. No stressing about what to do next—I just look at the list. Continue reading

One for Wednesday: Silk Road by Colin Falconer

Colin Falconer: Silk Road1260 AD: Christian Knight Templar Josseran Sarrazini is a man divided in his soul. Haunted by a shameful past, he hopes to find redemption in a dangerous crusade: a journey from Palestine to Xanadu to form a crucial allegiance against the Saracens at the legendary court of Kubilai Khan–the seat of the Mongol Empire.

Instead he finds solace in a warrior-princess from a heathen tribe. Beautiful and ferocious, Khutelun is a Tartar, a nomadic rider of the Mongolian steppe. Although their union is impossible, she finds in Josseran what she cannot find in one of her own.

Parched by desert winds, pursued by Saracen hordes and tormented by a passion he cannot control, Josseran must abandon Khutelun if he is to complete his journey and save his soul. Worse, he must travel with William, a Dominican friar of fearsome zeal who longs for matyrdom, but whose life Josseran is sworn to protect. Worse yet, he will arrive in Xanadu just as the greatest empire in human history plunges into civil war.

Winding through the plains of Palestine and over the high mountains of the Hindu Kush, from the empty wastes of the Taklimakan desert to the golden palaces of China, SILK ROAD weaves a spellbinding story of sin, desire, conflict and human frailty onto the vast tapestry of the medieval orient.

Falconer’s novels are “based on dedicated research and a profound knowledge of his subject, stories of passion and human frailty drawn on a vast canvas, about the perennial nature of love and the human spirit.” The Australian

ISBN 9780857891082

Published by Atlantic Books   Corvus Books   Amazon.co.uk   Waterstones

Falconer’s novels for Kindle US and UK   Falconer’s novels on Amazon US

Born in the north of London, Colin Falconer moved to Australia in his twenties. He drove cabs and played guitar in dark bars and rough pubs before joining an advertising agency. He then worked as a television and radio scriptwriter, and as a freelance journalist. Since 1990, he has been a full-time novelist. His work has been translated into seventeen languages.

The Devil Made Me Do It

A response to Colin Falconer

Historical author Colin Falconer brought up interesting yet disturbing points in his November 13 blog post, “For Evil to Triumph.”

Colin comments on the recent Men’s Health article by Bill Phillips, “Why Joe Paterno Didn’t Call the Police,” about alleged child abuse at Penn State. The article draws parallels between the failure of people to report the alleged abuse and the controversial psychological experiments of Stanley Milgram at Yale University in 1961.

As Colin describes:

“[Milgram’s] tests were designed to measure the willingness of subjects to obey an authority figure who told them to perform acts that conflicted with their personal conscience.

“[This] was inspired by [Milgram’s] curiosity about how millions of people in Nazi Germany could go along with horrors of the Holocaust, even when it violated their deepest moral beliefs.

“A volunteer was given the role of teacher, and separated from the learner; they could communicate but could not see each other. The ‘teacher’ had a list of word pairs to teach the ‘learner’. If the answer was incorrect, the ‘teacher’ would administer a shock to the ‘learner’, with the voltage increasing in 15 volt increments for each wrong answer.

“The ‘learner’ was an actor; but the ‘teacher’ did not know this. Some test subjects paused at 135 volts and began to question the purpose of the experiment. Though clearly uncomfortable about it, most continued after being assured that it was necessary and that they would not be held responsible for the outcome.

“How many continued to the final, potentially lethal 450-volt shock?… 26 out of 40. Even with their ears ringing with the screams of their ‘victims’, authority won over. They listened to the man in the white coat before they listened to their own inner voice. Ordinary people, good people, thus became agents in immoral and destructive behaviour.”

Phillips notes that “humans are programmed to not question authority…. And men are even less likely to rat out an authority figure when that person is also a mentor.”

Colin suggests, “It seems to me that as human beings we all have a higher authority that we surrender our scruples to.”

My question is, why surrender?

My question is, were these people good?

Ordinary, maybe. Good… maybe not so much.

They may never have been in a situation like this. It was unfamiliar, uncomfortable. The guy in the white coat assured them nothing was wrong.

Things like this didn’t happen in their normal reality. They’d entered an alternate reality, a sort of fairy tale. The guy in the white coat would protect them through this Twilight Zone.

Under these circumstances, I disagree that their “inner voice” told them to stop. I believe it may have told them it was fine to murder.

Those 26 of 40 may have felt they could distance themselves from the result of their action. They could do this by hiding behind someone else. In return, they granted that someone “authority” over them.

By sleight of mind, responsibility could have been mentally transferred to the leader. The authority figure could have become a buffer zone between themselves and the reality of their decisions and actions.

“Obeying” was what the leader received in return. The leader had “power”—to do what? To set up the rules of the fairy tale. And once reality exploded the fairy tale, the result was the leader’s “fault.”

In reality, outside the fairy tale, wasn’t this what happened instead: the followers sacrificed the authority figure to the action they themselves decided to take.

That sort of authority figure is not a leader.

In circumstances like this, the person who’s set up as the authority figure is nothing but a scapegoat.

By S.J. Driscoll