The Wet Aliens

2018-10-31-0003

(This is an article I wrote for Future Life #2, May 1978, and illustrated with my own photos. I’ll get them posted here when I can find them. Meanwhile, it’s surprising how little has changed in the dolphin world.)

THE WET ALIENS

By MALCOLM BRENNER

Suppose you are tuning your radio, 
hunting for your favorite music,
when the following blood-curdling 
announcement comes on: 
“NEWS FLASH: Scientists report
the Earth is about to be invaded by
 extraterrestrial aliens. The invaders 
range in length from six to thirty feet,
 and their brains, much larger than ours,
 suggest a fantastic degree of intellectual
 development. They are so strong they 
can leap twenty feet into the air or travel 
two hundred and fifty miles a day for
 days at a time without sleep! Their jaws 
are filled with needle-sharp teeth, and 
their tails can break bones with a single 
blow. Furthermore, these aliens possess
 an unusual ‘sixth sense’ which enables
 them to look into our internal organs,
 uncovering our hidden strengths and
weaknesses! Their cryptic language,
 undeciphered by scientists, allows them
 to communicate ten times faster than we 
do. They can hear the sound of  a single
drop of rain falling fifty feet away! And 
latest reports indicate they possess
 highly developed psychic abilities which 
allow them to read our minds and 
second-guess our thoughts. Prepare
 yourself!”

“What is this?” you might wonder.
“Another War of the Worlds prank?
 Should I get a gun; clean out the old
fallout shelter? Or should I pray?” 
But wait! Before you can stir, the 
announcer’s back on the air.

“NEWS 
FLASH: More on those alien invaders. 
Scientists report that they are not
warlike, but peaceful! Their astounding 
powers are used only for gathering food 
and for protection against their 
enemies. Despite their great strength,
 they are helpless under Earth ’s gravity 
and can exist only in a weightless environment. Our air is corrosive to their skin and will kill them in twenty-four hours unless they are constantly bathed in fluids from their home world. Their 
huge brains have produced no form of
technology, and many scientists believe 
them to be no smarter than dogs. They 
lack clothes, shelter, and even the most 
rudimentary tools. They have rescued
humans from mortal danger, on occasion, and they have built-in smiles! Congress has imposed fines up to $20,000
 and jail penalties up to one year for killing or injuring them; but scientists 
studying the aliens report several thousand are being held captive around the 
world, and despite government protection more than fifry thousand of them 
may be killed next year — accidentally!”

By now you’d know it was a hoax — but you’d be wrong! These aliens are not the dream of a science-fiction 
writer, nor the creation of some Hollywood special-effects department. They 
are real. They have existed on Earth for
 over thirty million years, their form unchanged, their roots going back before
 the beginning of human evolution. We 
call them dolphins.

All of the above statements about
 dolphins are true, including those that
 seem contradictory — depending on 
whom you choose to believe. They 
reflect the current scientific confusion 
about dolphins, but it’s nothing new. 
Throughout history, dolphins have 
either been worshipped as demigods, or 
devoured as delicacies, with no middle
ground. Prehistoric Norwegian hunters
 carved them on the walls of caves. The 
author of the biblical Book of Job held 
a creature called Leviathan in high
 esteem; we now call the same creature 
orca, or killer whale, an overgrown 
dolphin with an overblown reputation 
for ferocity. 
The Nabataeans, a pre-Christian 
race of Bedouin merchants, were so
 fond of dolphins they carved them into 
the statutes of their gods, posing a riddle to the archaeologists who discovered
 their crumbled temples — in the middle 
of the Negev desert! The Greeks were 
infatuated with them; killing a dolphin, 
the sacred beast of Sun-God Apollo,
was an unforgivable sin. Greek authors 
told stories of their friendliness which
 were considered fantasy until well into 
the 20th century.

Pliny the Elder, a Greek naturalist, is credited with 
discovering that they are not fish but 
warm-blooded, air-breathing mammals, 
like ourselves. The Romans and Polynesians ate them, but the Chinese and
 Vietnamese held them to be divine.
 The truth about dolphins is no less astounding than the many myths surrounding them, but until the 1950s 
almost nothing was known about them. 
Dolphins had been kept in oceanariums
since the early 1900s, but not until
 World War II and the development of
underwater microphones was their 
astonishing sense of echolocation (or “sonar,” to use a military term) 
discovered.

Like bats, dolphins emit high-pitched
 clicks, which sound like a door with 
rusty hinges. Originating in the larynx
 and in nasal sacks below the blowhole 
(nostrils), these clicks are reflacted off 
the dolphin’s concave skull and through 
an oil-filled ‘acoustic lens’ in its domed forehead. By varying the shape of this 
lens, the dolphin can spread a wide beam
 of sound for miles under the sea, or 
focus it with laser like intensity to nearby objects. The “sonar” pulses are ultrasonic to humans, but the dolphins hear 
their echoes bouncing off objects. By
 listening carefully, a dolphin can determine the size, distance, and shape of an
 object; what it is made of; whether it is 
alive or nonliving; whether it is approaching or retreating, and how fast;
 whether it is hollow or solid, textured or
 smooth — everything but its color! Since animal flash is 75% saltwater, dolphins 
can “X-ray” each other — or humans –
with harmless beams of sound.
 A dolphin’s enormous and complex 
brain enables it to process all this information instantly. The brain of a 
bottlenose dolphin — the species seen 
in oceanariums and on TV — is about 
10% larger than a human brain, and appears to be superior to ours as a
thinking machine. It has more folds on 
the neocortex, where rational thought
originates, and the density of its 
neurons is greater. The only animals
 with larger brains are elephants and 
some whales, the dolphins’ distant
 cousins. Some scientists believe the extra brain matter is occupied with controlling the dolphin’s large bodies, or analyzing their complex echolocation.
 But whale sharks and dinosaurs possessed huge bodies and very small 
brains, and bats are able to use their 
“sonar” with brains that fit on a dime!So these theories do not wash.

Given this fantastic biological computer, you might think scientists would 
have long ago recognized the dolphin as 
a creature of unique intelligence. Not 
so! Dolphins lack hands and, being self-
sufficient, have no need for human 
technology. Their oceanic lifestyle
 makes them difficult to observe. Not 
until 1955 did anyone wonder what the
dolphins might be doing with all those 
brains, aside from chasing fish. In that year Dr. John C. Lilly, a young psychiatrist and neurophysiologist, was conducting sensory-isolation experiments
 for the Air Force to determine what
 would happen if an astronaut were cut
 off from contact with Earth. Lilly 
simulated weightless outer space by immersing himself in a tank of warm sea-
water. Breathing through a facemask,
isolated from all sensory inputs, Lilly experienced incredible hallucinations
 and proved that the brain can generate 
its own ghostly form of reality from 
within. He also began to wonder what 
the mind of a creature living under such
 conditions would be like. 
He conducted a series of experiments 
on the dolphins at Marineland near St.
Augustine, Florida. While anesthetizing 
them to implant electrodes he made his 
first startling discovery — when a dolphin loses consciousness, it stopsbreathing! Unlike other animals, each 
breath for a dolphin requires an act of
 will. His first few experiments proved 
fatal to his subjects and angered the 
Marineland staff, some of whom have 
not yet forgiven him. After developing
 more humane techniques, he was able to 
“map” the dolphin’s brains and determine which areas controlled what
behavior.

During these experiments, Lilly 
noticed that the dolphins in his laboratory behaved more like curious humans than white rats or rhesus 
monkeys. They second-guessed his experiments and tried to imitate the voices of his assistants! Fascinated, Lilly ended his brain research and began studying the dolphin’s sound emissions.
 He found they produce complex trains
 of whistles and squawks with which they
  communicate. In 1961, convinced of the 
existence of a dolphin “language,” Lilly 
received a NASA grant on the ground
 that his research might help us better 
understand communications from other
 planets — when we receive them.

He quickly encountered hostility 
from other scientists. Like early UFO 
investigators, Lilly found himself up 
against a wall of mockery and prejudice. His recordings of dolphins mimicking human speech were not convincing to untrained ears. His remarks
 were sensationalized by a press more eager for headlines than the plodding
methodology of science. His stories of 
“intelligent” behavior were laughed at
 by cetologists familiar only with 
robotized oceanarium dolphins. Even the basic premise of his research was 
challenged; any idiot could see that
 human beings were the most intelligent 
creatures on earth — otherwise the 
dolphins would be keeping us captive!

Undaunted, challenged by the alien 
mind of the dolphin, Lilly began a series 
of experiments on his own mind, using 
sensory isolation and the then-legal drug 
LSD. Tripping among his dolphins, he 
realized that, if he was right, keeping 
them captive was not just an insult; it 
changed them, in the same way involuntary imprisonment changes a free man 
into a slave. The dolphins locked in his
lab were not the same creatures as those
 roaming the wild seas; they were products of his experimental parameters.

“I 
felt,” he has since admitted, “like I was 
running a concentration camp for dolphins.”

As he considered closing the lab
and setting his subjects free they began
to die mysteriously, starving or drowning themselves. In 1967 he released the
 survivors, ending his research.
 Lilly remains much-hated among professional cetologists, partly for his 
“unscientific” theories, partly for his 
early brain-probings, and partly for his
drug experiments, which nearly cost him
 his life on two occasions. If he were the
 only person to report such experiences with dolphins one might well doubt 
him, but a small number of scientists
 and laymen, fascinated by the idea of an 
Earthly non-human intelligence, began 
their own investigations. Some supported Lilly’s theories; others sought to 
disprove them. Still others wavered.

This is typical of the problems scientists encounter when they attempt to
 measure the dolphin’s intelligence.
 Its sense and thought processes are so 
different from ours that it’s hard to 
develop a meaningful test! But there are
 still profound mysteries surrounding 
them. For almost every fact postulated
 by a respected dolphin researcher, an
 equally illustrious scientist can be found 
to contradict it!

For example, Lilly 
claims that dolphins can produce a 
“distress whistle” when in danger or 
pain. This call, described by him as a
 whistle of rising, then falling pitch (like
 an inverted V) brings other dolphins to
 the rescue. Rene-Guy Busnel, a French
cetologist who works with Jacques 
Cousteau, agrees about the “distress 
whistle” but insists it’s exactly the opposite — falling, then rising in pitch 
(like an upright V)! The Caldwells,
 equally respected, maintain there is no 
such thing as a distress whistle. According to them, dolphins have only one 
whistle apiece, which they repeat over 
and over to tell other dolphins “here I
 am,” like Kurt Vonnegut’s mythical
 Mercurian harmoniums.

Are you sufficiently confused?

One person who shares Lilly’s views is 
Ric O’Barry, formerly a trainer for 
Ivan Tors’ Flipper TV series. After 
working with dolphins for years, 
O’Barry concluded that the dolphins 
were not only smarter than he was –
 they were sometimes able to read his mind, learning complicated tricks faster 
than seemed possible. He now devotes 
his time to saving the whales and 
dolphins from extinction.

Another believer is Michael Greenwood, formerly dolphin trainer for the
 U.S. Navy and CIA. Greenwood
 became interested in marine mammals during the Navy’s Sea Lab program. 
Dolphins can dive to 600 feet and return 
in three minutes without being crushed
 by the pressure, equal to 200 atmospheres, or dying from the bends. 
Having gained some experience training sea lions, Greenwood was asked to take
over a top-secret dolphin project in the
 Florida Keys. The mission, under a conservationist cover story, was to train
 dolphins to run intelligence missions 
against communist Cuba, planting instruments on atom-powered Soviet warships which would transmit data on the
 size and power of their nuclear reactor.
 The CIA and Navy factions on the project were warring with each other; the 
electronic equipment malfunctioned;
 and the dolphins were poorly trained! Greenwood became convinced it was immoral to train such intelligent and 
friendly creatures for warlike ends. He, 
too, came to believe they could telepathically read his mind. He now fears
 they are facing a slaughter by the
world’s naval powers, who are unable 
to tell an innocent dolphin from one 
trained for espionage.

But the dolphins are already facing a
 wipeout. For the past fifteen years, 
tuna fishermen have been killing hundreds of thousands in the huge purse-seine nets used to trap yellowfin tuna, 
which are packaged for sale as “chunk 
light.” The dolphins and tuna stick 
together — no one knows why — and 
when the fish are netted the dolphins
panic. Their “sonar” beams pass uselessly through the net’s mesh, and in their
confusion they may become tangled and
 drown, or, worse yet, be dragged on
board and crushed in the machinery. In 
1971, an estimated 320,000 were killed. 
Since then the numbers have been dropping, thanks to new types of nets, new 
catching techniques, and the Marine
 Mammal Protection Act, which sets
 yearly quotas on the number killed. But
 the battle isn’t won: the tuna fishermen, 
chafing under what they feel are unfair
 restrictions, talk of taking their boats to 
nations without quotas.

Dolphin ESP is a highly puzzling
 issue, one that is infrequently discussed. Studies on humans
 show that, contrary to most science fiction, strong emotions, rather than powerful intellect, are responsible for telepathy, and this also seems true in human-dolphin mental contacts. People who see dolphins as highly intelligent are more open to psychic contacts than those who regard them as big fish; familiarity with dolphin ways also increases the likelihood of interspecies ESP. People who have had psychic experiences with dolphins find them difficult to describe.

Don’t rush down to your local oceanarium expecting to pick up dolphin brainwaves, however. While you might, it is highly unlikely, unless you’re exceptionally psychic. As Dr. Lilly discovered, captive dolphins are a different breed from their wild counterparts. While some thrive in captivity, many more have died from it, and the survivors frequently display spirits broken by the rigorous behavior-modification techniques used to produce oceanarium shows. Conditions vary greatly from one establishment another: some take great pride in maintaining healthy, happy specimens, while in others the death rate is staggering. Stories of trainers mistreating their dolphins out of malice or ignorance are confined to backroom discussions, where the public can’t overhear.

Sometimes the dolphins bear mistreatment
 stoically; sometimes they retaliate!
 Some dolphins have been kept for years
 in lagoons with nothing more than a line
 of floats keeping them in; others have 
ripped steel fences apart to escape! It’s 
impossible to generalize about dolphins 
for the same reason it’s impossible to
 generalize about humans: no two are 
alike.
 But there is no doubt that the “happy 
dolphin” image perpetuated by
 oceanariums and the media is a lie.

The 
Flipper series shows them as happy-go-lucky types, fawning all
 over their human masters, Kenny and 
Bud. The movie The Day of theDolphin, while somewhat more
realistic, still showed dolphins as being 
childlike, naive, and gullible. Trainers 
know better: dolphins can be sweet, 
even sexy, but they can also be deceptive, arrogant, and demonically cunning. The recent movie Orca, the Killer
 Whale did little to change the image of
 the most maligned creature since the
 snake. Although the orca saves the
heroine, Rachel Bedford (a sympathetic
 biologist played by Charlotte Rampling)
 from a shark at the beginning, and
 spares her life at the end, in between 
these chivalrous deeds it devours Jack
Campbell’s (Richard Harris’) crew, 
sinks a fishing fleet, sets a town on fire,
 and rips a woman’s leg off! Dino De Laurentiis would be well advised to restrict his swimming to pools from now on.

Paul Spong, a Canadian biologist who has studied orcas for the past six years, knows better. When a group of orcas swim by his research station in Alert Bay, Spong may hop into a one-man kayak and paddle out to meet the “deadly” killer whales. When he plays his flute to them, the whales stop roaming and listen raptly. If we stop to think about it, aren’t humans the real monsters? Orcas are captured for oceanariums with concussion grenades, and catchers show no qualms about breaking up pods that may have existed for centuries.

The future holds greater promise for interspecies communications. While the scientific community wrangles, several groups are planning to decipher the dolphins’ language. The Dolphin Embassy Project, based in Australia, is headed by Doug Michaels, of San Francisco. This group is building a ferroconcrete “floating embassy,” loaded with electronics, which will function as a meeting place where humans can observe and interact with wild dolphins along the Great Barrier Reef. Plans call for the expedition to begin in April, 1978.

Members of the Canadian Greenpeace Project have, for the last several years, been literally laying their lives on the line to save the great whales. Using rubber Zodiac boats operating from a converted fishing vessel, Greenpeacers have been harassing Soviet and Japanese whaling fleets in the North Pacific, gathering evidence of illegal undersized kills and producing a documentary film. On two occasions Russian whalers have fired harpoons at whales the group was guarding, narrowly missing the humans!

Dr. Lilly, too, is returning to the dolphins with a new plan. He is programming a sophisticated computer to act as a human-dolphin translator, linked by radio to communications equipment in a sailboat. Lilly hopes that, by working with wild dolphins, he will both avoid the problems that plagued his earlier work, and vindicate his theories.

If any of these groups are successful, the benefits to humanity could be endless. We will have established communication with minds perhaps greater than our own; we will receive an outside view of ourselves from creatures who watched us evolve. The dolphins and whales could help us control ocean pollution and aid in the search for undersea energy sources. They might be able to shed some light on the persistent myth of Atlantis. And who knows? By the time we encounter real aliens from outer space, we humans might be able to say “Hello!” to them in their own language — with the smiling dolphins by our sides.

WGslide27

The Greeting, © 1970, 2010 Eyes Open Media.

 

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With some effort, dolphin-human love story regains its lost “Premium” status

PrimeStatus

PUNTA GORDA, Fla., USA – “The role of the self-published author is not an easy one,” Malcolm J. Brenner said, sliding onto a dingy leather couch that might have once been white.  “In addition to successfully writing one’s magnum opus, one must also bring it forth into the real world, where it will grow up to compete in a ruthlessly Darwinian struggle for readers and reviewers.”

Brenner sipped iced tea – his habitual summer drink, with the occasional hard cider thrown in for historic, recreational and religious reasons – and relaxed. He had the furrowed brow of a man who has a lot on his mind, and no wonder. He recently finished re-formatting a 113,000-word Microsoft Word file for the ebook version of his most famous, or infamous work, the 2010 autobiographical novel Wet Goddess: Recollections of a Dolphin Lover.

“It’s basically a re-telling of a torrid love affair I had with a female bottlenose dolphin in the summer of 1970,” Brenner explained.  “I just changed the names and a few details so that living people on whom the characters are based couldn’t sue me.  Even though I’m publishing it as a novel, it’s much closer to Tom Wolfe-style ‘new journalism’ than it is to fiction.”

Author Malcolm J. Brenner at home.
Malcolm J. Brenner in his trailer in Punta Gorda, Fla.

An admitted procrastinator since childhood, Brenner said that Smashwords, which publishes and distributes the ebook edition of Wet Goddess, alerted him last November that changes to their Premium Catalogue distribution system might require revising the file, which he first uploaded in 2011.  “I wasn’t clear on the details of what exactly the problem was, but apparently the old file no longer satisfied the new requirements, or so they said,” he said.

The Smashwords Premium Catalog puts the book into the hands of all the large ebook distributors, including iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Scribd, OverDrive, Tolino, Gardners, Odilo, Baker & Taylor Axis 360 and more.  “I’m interested in sharing my experiences with dolphins as widely as possible,” Brenner said.  “They are non-human people, so it behooved me to take care of this update issue sooner or later.”

After receiving warning emails for several months, Brenner finally pulled up his socks and tackled the problem himself.  This versatility, he said, demonstrates the technical virtuosity required of successful self-published authors in the 21st Century.

“If you’re an aspiring author and you’re lucky enough to land an agent or a publisher these days, you can thank a higher power,” Brenner scoffed.  “I knew a controversial book like Wet Goddess would be a hard sell even for a successful author.  I made a few stabs at finding a publisher without success, and an agent took me on for a while.

“She wined and dined me once at a book fair in Tampa, then, with no explanation, stopped communicating.  Months went by with no word.  It was only when I threatened to sue her to recover my manuscript that I learned from an irate family member she was still recovering from a near-fatal car crash months before.

“In publishing, like anywhere else, sometimes shit just happens,” Brenner concluded, with a hint of resignation.  After more rejections, he responded by abandoning the idea of conventional publishing and taking on all the tasks himself.  “It required me to become a jack-of-all trades, but the fact that I don’t get along well with many people actually makes that a good way to work,” Brenner admitted.  “If I work for myself, I may have an asshole for a boss, but at least he understands me.”

Brenner pre-sold copies of Wet Goddess to family and friends to raise funds for the initial press run of 50 copies.  A sympathetic friend contributed necklaces made from fossilized sharks’ teeth as premiums for advance sales.  The worst problems came from trying to get the manuscript proofread before it went to print.

“Don’t get me started,” Brenner fumed.  “I hired a so-called proofreader from a local community college, but she could only proof in academic style!  Book manuscripts require what’s known as Chicago style, and besides, Wet Goddess has a lot of colloquial dialogue in it,” he recalled.  “Every time a redneck character used the word “ain’t,” she flagged it – more than 300 times in the manuscript!  You’d think that if she was professional she’d have called me up and asked me what my intention was, but no.”

As a result of this and other unforeseen difficulties that cost him the original author’s proof copy of his debut novel, the first press run of Wet Goddess shipped with about 250 typos in it, including one whole, and rather crucial, paragraph repeated, Brenner admitted.

“It appears very close to the, uh, shall we say ‘climax’ of the novel, and it was very embarrassing to find it,” he explained.  “I hope I’ve got it stuck back in the right place now.”

For a cover, Brenner was able to rely on the talents of his daughter, Thea Boodhoo, an advertising industry professional and college-trained artist.  “I was going to use a B&W photo of a dolphin that a friend in New Mexico colorized many years ago,” he said, “but Thea thought she could do better, and when I saw her finished work I knew she was right.  I only made a couple of very minor Photoshop changes to the file she handed me to make the title stand out more and add the subtitle.”

wet-goddess-cover

A friend who owned a small desktop publishing business referred Brenner to Royal Palm Press, a nearby print-on-demand company, for production services.  “I had no idea what the local reaction to the book would be, so I had a chat with Tom Lewis, the press’s owner at the time, to make sure he wasn’t blindsided,” Brenner said.  “Tom said ‘As long as it’s between consenting adults, that’s fine with me,’ and that was that.”  Brenner also served as his own layout artist, an experience he described as “a mad blur of on-the-job training.”

With book in hand, Brenner ventured onto the soggy ground of marketing.  “Here, I got terrifically lucky,” he said.  “I didn’t have the money to hire a public relations firm to distribute a press release, but I found one that had a reverse-charge policy. The media outlets who received the press releases paid for the service, not me, so my initial publicity was free!”

Upon its release in January 2010, the novel received intense press coverage due to its taboo-shredding themes of interspecies sex, zoophilic love and a dolphin character smart enough to out-think a human.  “For a while it was frantic, but very gratifying,” Brenner recalled.  “I was doing several interviews a week, sometimes two a day.  A few of the interviewers were skeptical or harsh about what they thought might have been going on, but the majority were genuinely curious to know what happened, and to learn more about dolphins.”

Since then, the book has enjoyed sales surges whenever some news gatherer gets curious and wants to know about his experience, Brenner said.  One came in 2011, when a New Zealand TV producer, David Farrier, released a videotaped interview with Brenner he’d recorded the year before.  Others don’t conjure such pleasant memories.  Brenner felt humiliated by shock-jock Howard Stern’s 2015 obsession with his zoophilia, and a 2011 interview with Bubba the Love Sponge cost him a gig with a local slick when its advertisers threatened to withdraw unless the magazine dropped him.

Brenner’s most recent foray into the murky waters of self-promotion was somewhat less melodramatic.  “When I finally got around to looking at the Smashwords file, it said there was a problem with one of the book’s photos, but I couldn’t find it with a self-diagnostic program they offer,” Brenner said.  “So I took a chance and asked Smashwords’ customer service, citing the warning notices they sent me.”

He quickly received a courteous reply from a guy named Kevin, explaining that the problem was probably due to the use of colons in his chapter titles and sub-sections.  “I was glad it was so easily resolved,” Brenner said, “until I downloaded the file onto my computer to make the corrections and realized what a mess it was.”

In the interim between uploading the file in 2011 and downloading it in 2018, Microsoft had changed Word and given it a new file extension, .docx instead of the original .doc.  “That one little ‘x,’ unfortunately, made a hell of a lot of difference,” Brenner said.  “When I had to add a couple of pages to the print manuscript of Wet Goddess, converting the book from the old to the new file format inserted blank spaces more or less at random between paragraphs.  I had to start at the beginning and re-do the whole layout, including throwing in a couple of new photos to fill some yawning blanks.”

The problems with the ebook file were similar.  There, many words were unnecessarily hyphenated, and photos had to be re-aligned to make sure they didn’t obscure the text.  Brenner said the process took him about two weeks, including a couple of days off when he wasn’t feeling well, but he’s glad he did it.

“I don’t have the money to pay somebody else anyway,” he complained, “so I might as well do it myself, because being retired I do have a fair amount of time.  Besides, whenever I master a task like this, I improve my overall word-processing skills, which helps me find work in the freelance job market.”

In the eight years Wet Goddess has been in print, it has sold about 1,500 copies in 18 countries, mostly in the English-speaking world, due to Brenner’s unflagging self-promotion efforts.  When a fan in Russia contacted him  three years ago to inform Brenner he’d undertaken an unauthorized translation, the author responded by granting him permission to publish it there!  “It hasn’t taken off yet, because the translator, Anton River, lives in a very conservative northern city,” Brenner said.  “He’s planning to move to a better climate soon, and I hope he’ll renew his efforts to promote the book when he does.”

In addition to Wet Goddess, Brenner has written and self-published two other books.

orgone-box

Growing Up in the Orgone Box, published in 2014, is an unflinching memoir of his torture and sexual molestation at the hands of Dr. Albert Duvall, an “orgone energy” therapist and close associate of the late Dr. Wilhelm Reich, and the dysfunctional family structure that allowed this to happen.

mel-khyor-01-copy

His 2016 novel Mel-Khyor: An Interstellar Affair is a more light-hearted romp through the mythology and culture of the UFO scene, told from the point of view of a young woman determined to live up to her family’s expectations of her, no matter what it costs her personally.  “There is, again, inter-species sex, but since the other species is bipedal, mostly humanoid and obviously sapient, nobody should blow a 50 amp fuse over it,” Brenner said.  “After all, ‘Star Trek,’ Edgar Rice Burroughs and countless other science-fiction writers have only been doing it for about 100 years.”

Sales on these two books have been nowhere near those of Wet Goddess, Brenner said, and he’s had difficulty getting them any kind of publicity or reviews.  “That’s because, while they’re both sexually radical books, they’re not as radical as a man and a dolphin making love,” he said.  “Somehow, that just blows people’s minds.”

Having just turned 67, Brenner hopes to see his work more widely appreciated before he dies.  Asked if he thought his writing would endure beyond his lifespan, he waxed philosophical.

“My daughter might take it on, but she’s not planning to have children, so who knows what will happen over the course of time?  We only know of the Greek poet Sappho’s beautiful writing because it was used to wrap fish,” he noted.

“Let us remember that from the point of view of a book, which may endure for millennia if it’s an epic, humans are fleeting things who read it at some point in their limited lifespans, devoting to it some portion of their precious time,” Brenner said, drawing on an eerie theme reminiscent of the ambiguous Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges.  “For this reason, books, especially long-lived books like Epic of Gilgamesh, Tao De Ching and Cattle Raid of Ulster, are grateful for the time their readers spend with them.  The books try to compensate the readers through a symbiotic relationship that informs you with a novel set of ideas, or supports your need for entertainment that doesn’t require batteries, WiFi or 3D glasses.

“I think that we humans, as a species, have a lot to learn from our dolphin cousins,” Brenner concluded.  “As for my writings, they will survive if people find value in them.”

###

dolphinleapMED

“Mel-Khyor” gets first pro review

Writing in The Florida Weekly, book reviewer Phil Jason has given Malcolm J. Brenner’s new novel Mel-Khyor: An Interstellar Affair a big thumbs-up.

“Mr. Brenner creates an interstellar relationship that is at once eerie, intellectually stimulating, humorous and romantic,” Jason wrote in the January 19-25 issue. “His eye for real and imagined detail draws us into his largely improbable scenes.”

Those improbable scenes revolve mostly around Susie Louise McGonagle, a woman trying to find her way through three relationships: her 1980’s marriage to an abusive first husband, her 1990’s marriage to an investigative reporter, and the haunting memories of a provocative alien encounter that preceded them both.

The fireworks start when Susie accidentally lets that encounter slip her lips to her reporter husband, who then becomes consumed with trying to prove whether her recollections are real or not. Weaving in and out of Susie’s story are the escapades of a team of government agents sent to find the elusive alien and his crashed, self-aware spaceship.

“Getting a review in The Weekly is a big deal,” Brenner said. “I’ve been writing and publishing my own books since 2010, and this is my first professional review.  I’m delighted that Mr. Jason liked Mel-Khyor and had so many good things to say about it.”

Mel-Khyor is available from Amazon as a trade paperback. Brenner hopes to have an audio book out soon, read by himself.

 

 

Author swaps dolphins for aliens

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PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release, 10/12/2016
FROM: Eyes Open Media, eyesopenmedia@comcast.net
SUBJECT: New book release, Mel-Khyor: An Interstellar Affair

“Wet Goddess” author swaps dolphins for aliens

PUNTA GORDA, Florida – While writer Malcolm J. Brenner has never met ET in person, or even seen a UFO, his longtime fascination with space creatures inspired his new novel Mel-Khyor: An Interstellar Affair.

“Aliens multiplied during my 1950’s youth,” the author of Wet Goddess: Recollections of a Dolphin Lover said, “whether in monster movies, science-fiction novels or the scholarly works on my father’s bookshelf.” Those included 1953’s Flying Saucers Have Landed, by self-proclaimed alien “contactee” George Adamski and British historian Lord Desmond Leslie, and M. K. Jessup’s sobering 1955 analysis,The Case FOR the UFO (still in Brenner’s possession).

“Although I’m known for my experiences with dolphins, I probably wouldn’t have gotten interested in them if brain researcher Dr. John C. Lilly hadn’t convinced NASA to fund his attempts to teach dolphins English, so that we’d know how to reply to extraterrestrial aliens,” Brenner said. (The 1960’s experiment was unsuccessful because the dolphins had their own ideas, but that’s another story.)

Mel-Khyor: An Interstellar Affair is a fast-paced novel told in four separate, distinct timelines stretching from 1978 to 2004. The stories focus on Susie Louise McGonagall, a shy young college student following her mother and grandmother into teaching. Convinced she is unattractive, Susie works a summer job at a Colorado resort. Awakening one night, she finds a tall man in a silver suit at the foot of her bed. She’s is paralyzed with fear – until she notices he’s injured! Susie follows the silent stranger into the darkness and aboard his damaged spaceship, which has crash-landed near her family’s cabin in the Rockies… or has it? Is this cosmic apparition real, or the product of Susie’s imagination in overdrive?

That’s the question investigative reporter Toby Parsons tries to answer, seventeen years after Susie’s original experience. They’re engaged when the chance viewing of a TV show triggers her buried memories of Mel-Khyor and the living spaceship that brought him to Earth. As Susie’s story is revealed piece by remembered piece, Toby finds himself torn between wanting to believe her and not daring to, between his conflicting roles as a skeptical reporter and a compassionate husband. Neither of them realizes a U.S. government alien-hunting unit is looking for Susie…

With settings that sweep from the La Plata Mountains of Colorado to the rings of Saturn and beyond, Mel-Khyor is a riveting novel of adult passions and interplanetary intrigue.

Available as a trade paperback from amazon.com, (https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0692775528) $14.95 + S/H and from Sandman Books (http://www.sandmanbooks.com) and Copperfish Books (https://www.copperfishbooks.com) in Punta Gorda. Soon to be available as an audio book on Audible. For a complimentary review copy, or to arrange an interview, contact the author at the e-mail address above. Thanks for your interest!
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