Traitor Cover Reveal!


He’s been
a Traveler,
a Prisoner.

But to prevent catastrophe,
the world needs…
a Traitor.

Stripped of his memories and exiled to a world filled with foes, Trav Becker fights his way through parallel universes against an adversary capable of anticipating his every move. But the Traveler will do whatever it takes to be reunited with the woman he loves.

Battle lines close in and chaos sweeps through the multiverse, pushing Trav, Mary, and their loyal friends Sam and Morgan into a desperate fight for survival.

On the run and forced to seek help from the unlikeliest of allies, can Trav and his friends prevent the loomng collapse of reality itself?

Traitor drops on February 29. Pre-order link coming soon!

My Brush with Hayden

Legendary Iowa football coach Hayden Fry passed away December 17 at the age of ninety. You’ve heard tributes to Hayden Fry from fellow coaches, former players, and sports experts.

This is not one of those. But my Hayden story might give you a little insight to the man behind the legend, and how he looked out for someone when he didn’t have to.

For those who don’t follow college football, in addition to turning an Iowa team that had the losing-est record in the NCAA into a national power, Fry also ran something of a “coaching college.” All eleven of his assistant coaches from the ear
ly 80’s went on to become head coaches in their own right, including his successor Kirk Ferentz. At last count, Hayden’s “Class of 1983” has garnered a staggering 722 victories, including 32 bowl wins and 15 conference titles.

But this story isn’t about that. It’s about a chance encounter the coach had early in his Iowa tenure with a wet-behind-the-ears broadcaster that has stayed with me for nearly four decades.

The year was 1980, Coach Fry’s second year as Iowa’s coach. I was a sophomore at the University of Iowa, working my first radio job, a part-time Dj and producer at KXIC radio in Iowa City. One of my duties was to help with the football broadcasts. This entailed producing a weeknight call-in show that featured Coach Fry answering questions posed by KXIC play-by-play guy Gene Clausen and the sports directors of the other stations in our small network, from tiny Iowa burgs like Burlington and Muscatine.

Gene and Hayden broadcast out of a room down the hall from me, wearing headphones so they could hear the questions posed by the other sports directors, whose voices were piped in so that all the participants could hear each other and interact.

One night, there was an equipment glitch in the conference room. None of the microphones worked. So Hayden and Gene had to come into the tiny production studio with me.

To fully understand the story, you need to know just a little about how radio studios are designed. In an audio production room, speakers are always automatically muted when the microphone is turned on, to eliminate feedback. This is why you always see DJs wearing headphones when they’re talking.

So here’s the scene. Hayden and Gene are squeezed into two chairs in front of the control board, sharing the studio’s only microphone. I am perched on the edge of the counter, because there isn’t room for another chair. I have the only available set of headphones, so my job is to keep the mic off so Hayden can hear the question, then quickly flip the switch on so he can answer. And that was how it went for nearly the full hour of the show:

Mic off: Hayden listens.

Mic on: Hayden answers.

Mic off: Hayden listens.

Mic on: Hayden answers.

Mic off: Hayden listens.

But somehow, after about forty-five minutes of this on/off switching, I lost the rhythm.

I turned the mic ON while the away sports director was speaking, and clicked it off just in time for the three of us to hear: “ do you think about that Hayden?”

Oh, crap. I have just screwed up Hayden’s call-in show. My career is over. 

Hayden, Gene, and I all stared at each other for a beat, then Hayden signaled for me to turn the mic back on, and in his unmistakable Texas twang, calmly drawled:

“Y’all mind repeating the question? I guess I wasn’t paying attention.”

The guy repeated his question, a little annoyed, but we managed to survive the show. Neither Gene nor Hayden mentioned my gaffe.

Hayden could have blamed technical problems, or the idiot kid who didn’t know how to do his job. But he took it on himself. It was a little thing, but it was taking care of the little things that made him a great coach and a good person. Also, it was the kind of quick thinking that I imagined served him very well in those down-to-the-wire games.

Hayden Fry would go on to become one of college football’s most legendary figures, whose impact continues today, more than two decades after his retirement.

But I will always remember the coach who took the blame for an error made by a young producer whose name he didn’t even know.

New Covers and pub date for Traveler 3!

Once upon a time, I wrote a thing. Not long after, I wrote another thing.

Then, for a very long time… I wrote no things.

But no longer, because I am pleased to announce that Traitor, the third and final volume in The Traveler Chronicles, will be released on February 29, 2020!

It took four years to write the book. It seems right to release it on a date that only comes once in the same span.

To celebrate, Traveler and Prisoner have gotten all-new covers, created by Drew Morton.

Watch this space for the cover reveal, previews, and all kinds of marketing nonsense as Leap Day (henceforth to be known as Traitor Day) gets closer.

Showing The Rifle

Like anyone who has spewed forth a book, I’m occasionally asked what the toughest thing is about writing. I’ll mumble something about the difficulty of making time to write when you have a full-time job and family, or trying to write when you’re not inspired, or something equally cliché.

But I’m lying. I don’t want to talk about it, but one thing that is BY FAR the hardest thing to do, even now that I’m closing in on the end of my third book.

Knowing how to show the rifle.

You probably recognize the phrase. Playwright Anton Chekhov famously wrote that if you show a rifle hanging over the mantle in Act I it had better go off in Act III or you shouldn’t mention it.

Chekhov was referring to the importance of keeping extraneous detail out of your writing. If something doesn’t serve a distinct purpose to plot or characterization, chop it out. Great advice.

But for me, “showing the rifle” is more about burying the clues that the protagonist uses to solve the mystery the book is about. Because what you want to do is show the rifle in Act I, sure, but do it in such a way that when the gun goes off in Act III, it’s a complete and utter surprise to the reader.

For my money, the hardest trick in literature.

I’m a pretty easy audience. I’ll put up with wooden characters, familiar scenes, trite dialogue. As long as the story is moving at a good clip, I’m happy. But the second the detective suddenly produces a clue that was conveniently not mentioned when she first “noticed” it, or pulls some piece of arcane knowledge out of thin air, I’m out.

Of course, the opposite is true as well. There are few things more irritating than reading a setup that is so obvious it might as well be highlighted, then spending the rest of the book waiting for the “big reveal” on page 277 that you saw in Chapter 3.

So I obsess over the rifle.

It’s nerve-wracking. You painstakingly plant clue after clue, then scuff just enough metaphorical dirt over each one, hoping they go unnoticed. Because to you there’s a big, red arrow pointing at each one that screams “LOOK, LOOK! SETUP FOR THE END OF THE BOOK HERE! RIGHT HERE! HE’S GOING TO REFER TO THIS LATER DURING HIS *SHOCKING* PLOT TWIST! BE WARNED!”

Move along, nothing to see here. Not an important plot point, I promise.

Fortunately, to this point, no reader of mine has ever said anything about the big red arrow. In fact, I have even occasionally received what I consider the absolute highest praise a plot-driven author can receive:

“I totally did not suspect the twist at the end!” 

There is no rifle in the Traveler books. At least, not yet. But if I put one in, it will definitely go off. And if it’s still a surprise after I telegraphed it for you just now, I’ll take that as a compliment.

Parts of the preceding originally appeared on the blog of one my literary heroes, Ed Gorman. Ed passed away in October 2016. But you can still read some of his final musings, as well as those of guests and friends at

I keep ’em a long time

Lennox Randon

I said goodbye to my friend and writing partner Lennox Randon recently. He lost his battle with cancer in November 2018.

Few people have taught me more about writing and no one more about life than my friend Randon.

Folks who have attended my book readings or visited my web site may be familiar with the story of how I came to write my first book. In short, a friend of mine named Rob Cline, who also had a book project languishing on the shelf, began meeting with his friend Randon (he went by his last name) for the purpose of mutual support in finishing their books. Rob invited me to meet Randon and join them.

What’s missing in my part of this story is how Randon got Rob, a dad with a demanding job and three young kids, to set part of his precious free time aside for this effort. At the end of his pitch, Randon smiled slyly and said:

“You know… I have cancer.”

I wasn’t present for this conversation, but I can imagine the exact expression on Randon’s face as he played what he called “the cancer card.” I would see this devastating phrase delivered with a half-smile and ever-so-slight eye twinkle again and again over the nearly eight years of our friendship.

At the time, Randon was in remission, and able to joke about his illness. But later, when the cancer came back, he still kept the same light, almost bemused tone.

So Rob started hanging out with Randon, and they each brought a few new pages to a weekly meeting. I joined up a few months later. Like Rob, I demurred at first, complaining I was too busy. But when a guy who pretty much knows his expiration date is willing to spend some of those numbered days helping you complete something off your bucket list, the daily pressures of job and family start to look pretty mundane. I was in.

Before heading to our weekly Sunday sessions in Randon’s basement, I would tell my wife I was off to see The Lads. The name stuck, becoming The Writing Lads when we went public.

The Writing Lads at a Cedar Rapids Rotary Club

Rob and I are accomplished public speakers, doing probably 50 gigs a year between us. Randon always insisted he wasn’t much of a public speaker, let alone an entertainer. But make no mistake, when the Writing Lads gave a reading, Randon was the star.

People may have come to see us because they knew Rob or me, but it was Randon they remembered. He held the audience spellbound as he talked about how his real experiences as a cop informed the events of his books. But then he would pull the Robert Stack double sunglasses stunt from “Airplane!” or fire a Nerf gun into the audience to illustrate a gun battle.

Randon and I interviewed each other on his website in 2015.  He also was a guest on “Getting Creative,” a YouTube show I hosted.

Even then, Randon was defying the odds. His doctors didn’t think he would see 2014, let alone almost make until the end of the decade. In the intervening years, it was easy to forget how sick he was, even though he was open about the chemo and radiation he was undergoing.

But you don’t have to be an author to write the ending of his story.

Randon’s social circle, never really large, had ceased to grow when he got sick. So I was pretty much the last new friend he made. But Randon mated for life. Once you were in, you were in for good. The fact that I got there late didn’t make any difference. In fact, he put his attitude toward friends into words in his first book, “Friends Dogs Bullets Lovers”:

I tend to keep things for a long time.
For example, in 1968 I purchased a Swingline Tot stapler for elementary school. 
Still have it. Still use it. 
Only stapler I’ve every owned.
I’m the same way with friends.
I keep ’em a long time.

To say that I am honored to be in that group is a vast understatement.

Randon taught me a lot. He showed me how to live with physical and emotional pain. He showed me how to face death with grace and strength. But mainly, he reminds me and all of us that it doesn’t matter at what time in your life someone shows up. Sometimes the new friends are the most meaningful ones of all.

If learning about Lennox Randon the man has made you at all curious about Lennox Randon the writer, I hope you will check out some of his work. If a few people read him based on this post, it will be at least a meager payback for everything he brought to me.

Lennox Randon’s books include:

“Friends Dogs Bullets Lovers,” a fast-paced, action-adventure story about two friends who start an off-the-books detective agency after being put into the Witness Protection Program.

“Memoirs of Dead White Chick,” a time-travel history novel about a 20th-Century woman who wakes up in the body of a black teenager in pre-Civil War Philadelphia, whose contacts with Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass change history.

“Christiana.” Randon completed this book that was begun by his late daughter, Alou (Lark) Randon. It follows a group of addicts on a paranoia-fueled trip through Danish ghost towns, in the tradition of “Trainspotting” and “The Naked Lunch.”

Randon also wrote eloquently and honestly about the ups and downs of his life at

SF & Drugs & Rock ‘n Roll

What rock & roll tune tells its story against the background of Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity? And which sci fi-themed funk masterpiece was honored by the Library of Congress? Read on for the answers to these and other questions about the connections between science fiction/fantasy and rock and roll music.

In a previous post, I discussed music as it relates to Science Fiction in the movies and TV. In general, a songwriter can reference a literary character in any way he or she likes. But the reverse isn’t true. A writer must pay for rights to quote song lyrics in a book or story, so it’s not always easy to discern what music may have influenced a writer.

But since Bill Haley and the Comets ushered in the Rock ’n Roll era, we can be sure that hundreds of writers have written to the beat of Rock tunes. Urban Fantasy writers in particular like to draw connections to Rock in their writing. An informal survey (Okay… me looking at my own bookshelves), reveals many Urban Fantasy books and stories with titles that directly or indirectly reference Rock ’n Roll.

But the connections are there for straight-ahead Science Fiction as well. In fact, found 100 Sci-Fi songs inspired by Rock ’n Roll. You can visit that site to see the entire list, but here are a few, plus some they missed, that I think represent the best of the lot.

The Brains of Rock ’n Roll


“39” – Queen

The original members of Queen are the most highly-degreed in all of pop music. Guitarist Brian May must be the only rock and roll star with a PhD in Astrophysics. Freddie Mercury had a Masters in Art. You have seen his work on the group’s logo, the Queen Crest. Bassist John Deacon possesses a Masters in Electronic Engineering.

Drummer Roger Taylor is the slacker of the group. He “merely” has a BS in Biology. If you’ve seen Mercury bio pic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” you may remember a scene where Freddie claims to have saved Roger from a career as a dentist.

In 2015, Brian May was invited to NASA, where he joined the New Horizons team in examining the first photos of the Pluto flyby. So, it might not come as a surprise that one of May’s songs deals with a love story disrupted by the physics of relativity.

“39,” from the group’s breakout album “A Night at the Opera,” tells the story of a group of space explorers dispatched to find a replacement for a dying earth. They return to discover a hundred years have passed, and everyone they know and love has died. Hidden in what at first listen appears to be a cheerful folk tune with a skiffle beat are some of the most plaintive and haunting closing lyrics all of pop music:

For my life,

Still ahead,

Pity me.

NOTWThe time dilation effects of Einstein’s special theory of relativity are familiar to those of us who read the literature, but it’s unusual territory for pop music. On an album best known for the bombastic anthem “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “39” is just a musical footnote. But with its emotional punch and empirical accuracy, it may be Rock’s only true science fiction story.

Queen would also mine Science Fiction art, choosing a well-known Astounding cover by Frank Kelly Freas as the cover of News of the World.

Heroes and Villains


“Iron Man” – Black Sabbath

“Magneto and Titanium Man” – Wings

The ultimate meta-moment of Marvel’s Iron Man is when Tony Stark wages battle to the soundtrack of Black Sabbath’s song of the same name. It doesn’t have anything to do with the Marvel Comics character.

But that scene was awfully cool.


Paul McCartney went Ozzy and his crew one better, invoking not one but three Marvel characters in his “Magneto and Titanium Man.” Featuring not only Iron Man’s Soviet antagonists Titanium Man and Crimson Dynamo, but also the mutant master of metal. The song appeared on the B side of “Venus & Mars Rock Show,” and was a Wings concert staple, accompanied by original Marvel art.

An avowed comics fan, Paul McCartney gave Jack Kirkby and his daughter front-row seats during the “Venus & Mars” tour. Kirby returned the favor with a hand-drawn comic.

The Ones On Every List

“Space Oddity” – David Bowie

“Rocket Man” – Elton John

 You can’t do a list of Sci Fi songs without including these two. 


Even though Mark Watley must engineer his own survival to a disco beat in Andy Weir’s The Martian, what the movie is actually about is proving the 1972 John-Taupin Theorem of Mars climate:

Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids,

In fact, it’s cold as hell. 

“Space Oddity” is another tune which makes just about every “Sci-Fi rock tunes” list. Bowie would come back to the Science Fiction theme again, as bisexual alien rock star Ziggy Stardust, and even play an alien in his movie debut, “The Man Who Fell To Earth.” He would also eventually tell us the fate of Major Tom, labeling him a “junkie” in the 1980 tune “Ashes to Ashes.”

Bowie also wins the award for providing titles to genre TV shows. “Ashes to Ashes” and “Life on Mars” (both the excellent BBC original and the not-quite-so-good American remake) would have been poorer without their titles. And thankfully, fully licensed to use Bowies’ music within the shows.

Speaking of licensing, in a triumph of common sense, Bowie’s music publisher agreed to extend astronaut Chris Hadfield’s license to “Space Oddity,” so the first music video ever produced in space could continue to be seen.

Included here, because that means I can.


Paul is Dead. Or Maybe Just On Another Planet

“Calling Occupants of Interstellar Craft” – Klaatu


This is probably the most obscure tune on my list. Its only chart presence was for a few weeks in 1977, when the Carpenters released a cover version. But the original comes with an interesting story.

The song was written and recorded by the Canadian band Klaatu. So right off the top we have a cool The Day The Earth Stood Still reference. But when the album was first released in 1976, it was without pictures of the band or even their names anywhere on it. Everything was “Written by Klaatu,” “Produced by Klaatu,” etc.

Somehow, a rumor got started that Klaatu was actually a reunited Beatles, recording anonymously. The band’s record company denied it from the get-go, as did the founders, John Woloschuk and Dee Long, when they finally revealed themselves. But it took quite a while for the rumors to die down.

News Flash: Sixties music was kind of trippy.

“In The Year 2525” – Zager & Evans


Zager and Evans have the dubious distinction of being the only act to top both the U.S. and U.K. charts and then never have another hit.  

The 1969 song stops at 1,010-year intervals, making disturbing predictions about human society at each. Writer Rick Evans is the anti-Roddenberry, predicting that we will never learn from our mistakes.

Life is Cheap and Death is Free

“Transverse City” – Warren Zevon


Warren Zevon is one of music’s most iconoclastic personalities. He began his career penning hits for artists like Linda Ronstadt. In his final years, he was David Letterman’s favorite guest, performing and talking candidly about his terminal lung cancer. His “Keep Me In Your Heart” is one of the most poignant songs ever written, but he’ll always be best known for the catchy “Werewolves of London.” He was well-read, despite dropping out of high school. “Transverse City” was directly influenced by William Gibson.

Zevon was a fan of writers. He dedicated an album to detective novelist Ross MacDonald, and served as musical director and occasional guitarist for the Rock Bottom Remainders, the famous “garage band” made up of Stephen King, Dave Barry, Matt Groening, and Amy Tan.

At Least There Were No Anal Probes

“Spaceman” – The Killers


Lest you think science fiction and music quit cross-pollinating in 1980 (or that the writer is an old fart, although that is probably true), let’s fast forward to 2009 for “Spaceman” by The Killers.

The narrator is kidnapped by aliens, but returned none the worse for the experience, except for one lingering effect.

I hear these voices at night sometimes.

The song may be 21st Century, but the video, while entertaining, is strictly Eighties MTV cheese.

It’s Just Too Peculiar Here

“Two Little Men in a Flying Saucer” – Ella Fitzgerald


I work at a jazz radio station, so I am hardly going to leave off the UFO tune by none other than the First Lady of Song, Ella Fitzgerald. “Two Little Men in a Flying Saucer” exhibit their discriminating taste by fleeing the earth after getting a taste of our culture, notably our television shows. And this was in 1951, decades before TV political ads.

View It, Code It.

“Technologic” – Daft Punk 


Daft Punk is a “must have” on the list, since they’re robots from the future and all. Plus, their guest shot was the best thing about Tron: Legacy.

“Technologic” is textbook for the helmeted French duo, mixing up funk, techno, rock, and synth pop, with vocals that might actually be what my computer is thinking at any given moment.

I Hear The Weather in Transexual Transylvania is Great This Time of Year.

“Science Fiction Double Feature” – Rocky Horror Picture Show


Referencing classic sci fi cinema from Triffids to George Pal, Rocky Horror Picture Show’s “Science Fiction Double Feature” is a smooth ballad whose pop veneer lulls us into complacency before we are thrust into the gender-bending, rock ’n roll fever dream that Brad and Janet experience.

Citizens of the Universe

“Mothership Connection” – Parliament


“We have returned to claim the pyramids,” proclaims George Clinton as “Mothership Connection” opens. Clinton, a fan of Star Trek, put together the 1975 concept album to “put black people in space.” Generally regarded as one of Parliment’s best albums, Mothership Connection was the first to feature Maceo Parker and Fred Weasley, two veterans of James Brown’s horn section, who would go on to be important jazz and funk musicians in their own right.

The Library of Congress added the album to the National Recording Registry in 2011, noting it’s influence on the jazz, rock, and dance music that followed. So in a way, it predicted the future of music just like Clarke, Asimov, and Heinlein predicted the future of science.

And maybe gave Roland Emmerich the idea for Stargate, who knows?

Just a Ramblin’ Hobbit

“Ramble On” – Led Zeppelin


“Ramble On is one of three Led Zeppelin tunes that reference characters and scenes from Lord of the Rings, along with “Misty Mountain Hop” and “The Battle of Evermore.” Although if your girl left you to be with Gollum, it’s possible you’re better off without her.

Bonus points to Jimmy Page, who designed the mysterious “Four Symbols” logo, which looks to me like Elvish.

 And the Beat goes on…

“Traveler,” Dennis W. Green’s first novel, is a sci-fi thriller in the tradition of Daniel Suarez and Dean Koontz. It has dozens of 4 and 5 star reviews on Amazon, and scored in the Top Ten in the Ben Franklin Independent Publishing awards.

The adventures of parallel universe-jumping cop Trav Becker continue in “Prisoner.” The final volume of the trilogy, Hunter, is due in 2019.

A popular radio personality in his native Iowa, Dennis’s adventures as a DJ have been covered by newspapers from Anchorage to Los Angeles. He has also worked on the stage, TV, and independent film.

By day, he is the general manager of Iowa’s only jazz radio station, KCCK-FM. And if it’s 5:30 am, you can probably find him in the pool, working out with the Milky Way Masters swim club.

Follow Dennis online at,, or @dgreencr on Twitter.

(This is an expanded version of an article that was originally published in PerihelionSF under the title “More Than Zarathustra.)

Hometown Boy

I’ll be doing an author event in my hometown of Council Bluffs, Iowa for the very first time on November 18.

I’m excited to be an invited author to the Council Bluffs Public Library’s annual Local Author Fair. The library is no longer in the Carnegie building, where I made my weekly visits there as a kid, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s still the place where I discovered J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and so many more.

I can’t even imagine what my life would have been like without the Library.

I’m looking forward to being home.


My friends Rob Cline and Lennox Randon have each published a debut novel in the last couple of weeks. I’ve read them both, and even though I happily admit to being prejudiced, they are both great reads.
Now, I see that Amazon is recommending them to me!

Please allow me to do the same to you.

Follow the links below for Amazon. Also available for Nook and physical copies at createspace.

Murder By The Slice, By Rob Cline.

Friends Dogs Bullets Lovers, By Lennox Randon