STEPHEN WEINSTOCK’S THE QARAQ and the MAYA FACTOR, BOOK TWO OF 1001: THE REINCARNATION CHRONICLES is FREE on Kindle from OCT 18-22, 2015.

mayafactor

STEPHEN WEINSTOCK’S THE QARAQ and the MAYA FACTOR, BOOK TWO OF 1001:
THE REINCARNATION CHRONICLES 

FREE on Kindle from OCT 18-22, 2015.

After the events of The Qaraq, Sahara Fleming has accepted that she can recall past lives, along with her qaraq, a group of intertwined souls who come together lifetime after lifetime. Now the distressing Maya Factor splinters their community—stemming from the Hindu “Maya,” the worldly illusion that shields us from visionary awareness, and blocks the qaraq from recalling reincarnation stories.

As the group shatters, Sahara must handle her aggressive husband’s advances to get her back. She enjoys their romance, but sees their reincarnations as visionary terrors.

As memories return, the qaraq discovers shocking links between ancient tombs, the sinister Red Isle, and a seventeenth century coven. Is there a grand vision to their lives? Or is it another layer of Maya that will tear them apart?

Structured as a modern Arabian Nights, Stephen Weinstock’s wildly imaginative 1001 conjures up magical, dark, humorous, and visionary reincarnation stories.

 

PRAISE FOR 1001: THE QARAQ, Book One of The Reincarnation Chronicles

“A love spat between two atomic particles, that tickled me—it could get dangerous!”—Eric Van Lustbader, bestselling author, Jason Bourne, Nicholas Linnear series

 “Stephen Weinstock’s imagination is fevered, surreal, fantastical. It will take you places you never dreamed you would go.” —Barry Jay Kaplan, author, Black Orchid

 “The kind of book that keeps you up later than you intended at night!”

 “Whether you believe in reincarnation or not, this is a book which will expand your universe.”

ABOUT STEPHEN WEINSTOCK

In my past life before 1001, … Continue reading

Fables, Italo Calvino, and Visionary Fiction – guest post by Stephen Weinstock

Stephen vfa postThis summer I saw Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario. Teiresias was in drag, the Chorus intoned like gospel churchgoers, and the blind Oedipus appeared in the nude (an email warned us ahead of time). Despite the wonderful theatricality, I was put in mind how powerful the Oedipus myth is, with the oracle, the Sphinx, the plague, and the family tragedy as archetypal components. This great myth raised questions for me: is Sophocles’ drama Visionary Fiction? Here is a character grappling with the nature of Truth and his inner consciousness, blindness and all. This is the theme Sophocles renders, but then is the primal myth Visionary Fiction, a myth that has inspired great minds like Freud to transform human consciousness about our psychic nature?

We know this aspect of myth, of fairy tale, of fable, that they exist as pure story, often innocent on the surface, broad-stroke actions without inner character development or thematic commentary. But scratch a bit of that surface, do the least bit of interpretation, and worlds of meaning emerge, often the kinds of transcendental truth that Visionary Fiction embraces. How then do we include or approach these folkloric narratives, which have no original authors or first editions? They are at once the most visionary of fictions, and not technically fiction at all.

What of fable? On the one hand, this form may be the closest in definition to VF. A fable is a story intended” “to reveal moral or ethical consequences to life’s many choices.” This lesson component to the fable aligns with the higher truths that VF … Continue reading

Fiction’s Battle for Acceptance in Islam, as Metaphor for Visionary Fiction: Part Two

Part Two

You can view Part One of this intriguing exploration by guest author Stephen Weinstock here.

In Part One, I outlined the parallels between Arabic fiction’s uphill battle for acceptance in the first centuries of Islam. I believe the criticism and slow acceptance of Visionary Fiction goes back to the same kind of interdiction against fiction that occurred at the start of Islam. To state a truth that is spiritual, religious, or transcendent in non-fiction is relatively acceptable, but when you attempt to express that truth using fictional characters, imaginative worlds, and intricate story lines, you risk cheapening or corrupting the statement. I worry about this impurity in my series 1001: The Reincarnation Chronicles, because I use humor, the banality of suburban life, and the characters’ foibles to make past life experiences more palatable. But does lightening the message water it down?

Inversely, infusing an accepted genre like science fiction, fantasy, or romance with a strong spiritual statement has been frowned upon for corrupting the intrinsic experience of those forms. Yet this was key to greater acceptance of both Arabic and Visionary fiction. The fantastical or ribald elements of the stories in Kalila wa Dimna or the maqamat derived from the popular culture of street storytellers. The Thousand and One Nights also had its origins in popular bedtime or ‘Night tales’ from ancient India and Persia, and it came out of the oral transmission of the marketplace as much as the literary manuscripts of the court. On top of this popular culture foundation, the court added an Islamic layer, where Scheherazade tells her stories to redeem the King’s monstrous behavior, to use stories as ethical and religious examples. Still, to this day, some Arabic scholars repudiate the Nights as literature because of its popular … Continue reading

Fiction’s Battle for Acceptance in Islam, as Metaphor for Visionary Fiction

Part One

In researching Book Three of my series 1001: The Reincarnation Chronicles, I read a great deal about the history of Arabic Literature. I am no Arabic scholar, but I had to learn about medieval Persian and Arabic culture. My characters, in their past lives in 10th century Baghdad, collaborate on a special version of The Thousand and One Nights, which is multi-cultural, subversive, and highly symbolic. I became enthralled by the development of fiction in the early Islamic world, and how difficult it was for a story collection like the Nights to gain acceptance.

When I learned about the gradual acceptance of Visionary Fiction in literary culture, I thought there were some interesting parallels with Arabic fiction. The phrase uphill battle comes to mind. But also, Visionary and Arabic Fiction each have strong ties to spirituality and religion, which both promote and hinder their acceptance. But let’s travel back in time to see more detailed parallels.

Before the advent of Islam, the Arabs and Bedouins had a rich literary tradition, weighted toward poetry, recitation, and storytelling in the desert night. One way to think about Muhammad’s receiving and delivery of the Qur’an is in continuity with this tradition of oral transmission through recitation. Only later were The Prophet’s words written down. Of course The Qur’an was visionary: sacred and divine Truth.

The early Islamic community outlawed fiction for many reasons. First, fiction was considered lies, in stark contrast to the truth of the Qur’an. Second, there were reports of Muhammad’s wise utterances, known as hadiths, by his followers. But there were many who would sermonize or pontificate without authenticity, and these utterances were considered fictional lies. Third, to legitimize spoken or written words as being authentically derived from The Prophet, and thus from Allah, every speaker and … Continue reading

Therapeutic Benefits of Visionary Fiction – Application – Part 5

This is the final installment of the Visionary Fiction as Personal Therapy Series.  In part 1, we discussed recognition, when a reader experiences a sense of familiarity while reading. In part 2, visionary fiction authors expressed their feelings of recognition while they were writing their stories. In part 3, various authors discussed how they reacted to issues in books they read. Part 4 dealt with juxtaposition, e.g, insight gleaned from the text.  Today we will discuss self-application, how readers adapt the insight they developed from the  books they have read into their lives.

world_unity_trs_me

Saleena Karim

From childhood, as soon as I learned to read, I wanted to write. My life-long desire was “to be an author”. As a young adult, that desire had changed slightly to “write a story with meaning”. For me it was practically a given that story should contribute something positive to humanity. The only problem had always been to identify what that “something” should be in my own fledgling novel. I had started writing it in my early twenties (now published as Systems). It had characters and a skeleton of a plot. It involved a quest, but details were lacking. In the end, my ongoing study of the Quran via Parwez’s work (and also some non-fiction work I was doing elsewhere, Secular Jinnah) finally gave me that special “something”. Parwez had essentially argued from the Quran that creating an “ideal” society is not only possible, but is imperative in unlocking human potential. It became a simple matter of integrating these ideas … Continue reading

Therapeutic Benefits of Visionary Fiction – Examination – Part 3

This is part 3 of the Visionary Fiction as Personal Therapy Series, which was inspired after I learned about bibliotherapy in my psychology classes.  It led me to discover an article by Debbie McCullis in the February, 2014 issue of the Journal of Poetry Therapy.  McGullis listed  a four step process used in bibliotherapy, which strongly resonated with me as the process sounds similar to why I write visionary fiction.  In part one, we discussed the first step, recognition, which is the moment when a reader gets a sense of familiarity while reading. In part two, we examined recognition through the lens of a writer’s perspective.  In this week’s installment, we will discuss what happens after recognition strikes. We want to understand why we had such a strong reaction to the text we had just read, which brings us into the second step, examination.

Saleena Karim

planet-6-1442966-mParwez wrote much of his work in Urdu but his exposition translation of the Quran was available in English. What struck me from day one was how this exposition seemed so much more scientific, and culturally neutral, than commentaries I had read in other translations – which to me was conducive to a book containing a universal message. It, along with his other writings, also brought into sharp focus this emphasis on Islam as not religion. He wrote on controversial topics firmly but with refreshing honesty, constantly asking his readers to check with the Quran for themselves to verify his claims. While gradually accessing his work and studying the Quran for myself, I reacted to this bombardment of new information … Continue reading