David Reiss’s Doctor Fid trilogy is complete! Buy it!

Fellow author and friend David Reiss has completed his trilogy about Doctor Fid, alpha-supervillain on a hero’s journey. I cannot recommend this trilogy highly enough. So I will pay it my highest compliment: a Doctor Fid and Super Holly crossover! (Written with David’s permission and his excellent advice, for he knows his villain better than anyone.) I set this crossover, which Doctor Fid left out of his personal log, in book 3, Starfall.


My fingers blurred on the dimensional control panel and my super-intelligent mind roiled like when I—Cal “The Intellectual” Critbert—had watched the recently discovered director’s cut of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho; the first sentence of my resulting review was “Triple the tension, quadruple the suspense!” But now, my mind did not roil in a good way. On the control panel, a stretching progress bar assaulted my retinas with a bright red glow indicating an approaching unknown power that could level three city blocks… four blocks… five… six…

Twenty five feet away, a ten-foot-wide vortex kaleidoscoped faster and faster. In all the movies I have reviewed over the years, dimensional portals were never so showy. Or so nasty. When this vortex had popped into existence twenty two seconds ago, it had knocked out every guard and scientist in this lab. I was unhurt, thanks to my inky black, cowled and caped, built-in-six-pack-abs Intellecta-body armor. Excellent for my night job as a superhero, but no match for whatever would pop out of the portal in five point two seconds.

I checked my Intellecta-phone’s map app. A blue dot moved toward my black dot. Impact in one minute, nine point eight seconds. I drew my Intellecta-gun, set it to Harry-Headbutt-buster blaster, and frowned at the futility of that. I faced the portal and adjusted my stance to maximize my scary grimness.

With a flash like lightning and a sound of thunder—KRAKRRROOOOOOOMMM!!!—an eight-foot-tall super-armored man burst through the portal. His posture and balance were perfect. The blackness of that armor outdid my own, absorbing ambient light like a demonic black hole. The armor glowed red at the joints and was speckled with a thousand points of light. Stars? I did not recognize any constellations.

The armored man spoke, my Intellecta-hearing recognizing that the voice was computer-modulated for even-tempered intimidation frosted with contempt. “A hero. I should have known.” He turned and—even though his helmet had no facial features whatsoever—I could somehow sense when his attention locked upon me. “My name is Doctor Fid and you have diverted me from my mission.”

I put Intellecta-speed into my finger-dancing on the control panel. “My apologies. Your passage through the portal created a overload. I must make immediate adjustments to prevent an multi-dimensional implosion.”

Eight feet of gleaming metal intimidation floated closer. “As my world’s smartest and greatest supervillain, I have far more experience in such matters. Step away from the control panel.” He pointed a glowing finger right between my eyes. “Your body armor is no match for my MK 47 heavy-combat armor.”

I glanced at my phone and back to Doctor Fid. I had to smile. “I don’t need combat armor. I have a Holly.”

Doctor Fid’s faceless head cocked curiously. “A Holly?”

BRAKKOOOOOOOW!!! A six-foot-one, blue-supersuited, blonde amazon meteored through a thick steel-and-concrete lab wall, leading with a super-strong right fist. That fist, surrounded by a six-foot-wide transparent telekinetic blue boxing glove, super-sledgehammered Doctor Fid. He hurtled across the lab and embedded two feet deep into yet another steel-and-concrete wall.

Super Holly Hansson alighted next to me and kissed my cheek, ah, her sweet strawberry scent. “Sorry I’m late. I had to dodge a couple of 747s.”

I typed faster. “Holly, Doctor Fid’s armor,” I nodded at the armored man, “badly affected the dimensional portal.”

Like a cat checking out a maybe-dead mouse for the slightest twitch, Super Holly scowled at Doctor Fid. “How bad can it be?”

The portal glowed brighter as its ominous hum slowly went up the scale. “Imagine it swallowing Seaside City and spitting it out halfway across the galaxy. Into another dimension. That is the best case scenario.”

KERRRRONK!!! Doctor Fid had flexed free of the wall’s rocky embrace. He thrust out his right hand. In that hand appeared a baseball-bat-size rod that had the same color scheme as his armor. He aimed the rod at Holly and floated toward me. “Last warning. Stand aside.”

My movie critic side surfaced. “The metaphor of that rod is unmistakable.”

Holly put her red-caped back to me. Her tall, super-strong body tensed into heavyweight boxer. “Cal, you know I hate those metaphors almost as much as I hate crucifix cliches. Stay behind me.” She inserted herself between the control panel and Doctor Fid. “As for you, tall, dark, and gruesome, come any closer and the mightiest super on Earth, namely me, will get a can opener and—”

KAAZOOOOOWWW!!! The rod’s blinding concussive force blast howitzered Holly through even yet another lab wall. Good thing I had designed this lab to stay standing even if seventy nine percent of it was pulverized. Doctor Fid walked toward me, the rod vanishing back to whatever little pocket dimension he had summoned it from. “We have fifty two seconds left.”

I sighed. “You shouldn’t have done that. It’ll just make her mad.”

ZOOM!!! A blonde and blue missile warheaded upon Doctor Fid and jackhammered punches and kicks. “YOU FRIKIN’ FRAKIN’ FRIKITY SON OF A FRIKIN’ FRAK!!!”

Doctor Fid blocked every blow with a skill to rival the Karate Queen. His moves were too quick, too precise. Probably his armor’s programming. He said, “I suppose I will have to hit you in your weak spot.”

The stars on the armor’s faceplate glowed brighter and swirled into a glittering, hypnotic rainbow that lighthouse-beamed onto Holly’s startled face. A deep thrumming emanated from the armor, matching the flashing faceplate.

Holly’s wide eyes magnetized at Doctor Fid’s faceplate. Her boxer-posed arms dropped and hung like noodles. Her eyelids slowly lowered, her mouth gaped open… and then she snarled, “STOPPIT,” and headbutted Doctor Fid: KLONK!!!

He crashed onto the floor next to me. He stood up, brushed himself off, and turned his faceless face to me. “Mental shields?”

I nodded. “Taught her myself.”

Doctor Fid nodded. “I’m impressed.” He placed a small black and red disc on the control panel. “This will fix your problem.” He glanced at Holly, who was shaking cobwebs out of her head with a “B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B!!!” He sighed. “Your portal problem, at least.”

“Thank you.” I shook his armored hand and sneaked a small disc of my own onto his armor. “Keep your guard up on your left.”

“So, great intellects do think alike,” he said, and floated toward Holly. His voice turned its alpha-supervillain contempt up to eleven. “Bah! I fixed your portal merely so that I can have yet another dimension to make my own!” His fists glowed red, but it was his voice that pushed Holly’s buttons. “Once I vanquish its mightiest hero, the rest will fall like dominoes!”

Holly faced Doctor Fid, her fists up, her teeth bared, her blue eyes ablaze, and I needed to lecture her about falling for melodramatic villainy. She spat out, “The FRAK you will! And mind control is fighting dirty!”

Doctor Fid hovered within boxing range of Holly. He put up his dukes. “That was more of a tranquilizer beam. Works best on soft minds. Have at thee?”

They went at it, their arms like super-jackhammers: POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW!!!!!! I glanced down at the control panel. Well well, Fid’s disc did it! The control panel display showed that the portal was stabilizing nicely.

I glanced up at the super-heavyweight championship of two intersecting dimensions. I noted that this time, Doctor Fid’s moves were not computer generated, but very human. He seemed to relish the challenge of fighting the most powerful superhero in this dimension. He landed more blows than Holly, but she stubbornly did not yield a millimeter. POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW!!!!!! My Intellecta-hearing easily picked up the snark in his battle banter: “Take that, hero! And that, and that! Ha ha, evil triumphs because good is clumsy!”

I glanced at my Intellecta-phone. As expected, the disc I had slipped onto Fid’s armor could not penetrate his armor’s firewalls. But it had gleaned a record of his recent actions, and his mini-biography, and his current mission… oh. OH!

I put Intellecta-authority into my yell: “Holly! Cease and desist! AT ONCE!!!”

“GRRRR!!!” said Holly as she wiped blood from her split lip. She shoved hard with both hands, and two five-foot-tall blue hands pushed Doctor Fid back. She gave me a look that made me grateful she did not have heat vision lest she drill a hole to the Earth’s core. She barked, “WHAT?!?!”

I held out my phone. “You really need to see this.”

Holly snapped at Doctor Fid, “You stay put!” She zoomed over to me, yanked the phone out of my hand, and grumbled, “What is so frikin’ important…” She blinked at the phone. “that I have to…” Her big blue eyes lost their fire, going soft and liquid. “to…” A tear ran down her cheek. “Oh.” She turned those big blues to Doctor Fid. “You poor thing!”

ZOOM! She flew to Doctor Fid. WHUMP! And engulfed him in a hug. She super-blubbered, “I have a dear little fangirl whom I love too! SOB!!!

Fascinating. Doctor Fid, mightiest supervillain of his world, super genius, fearless and arrogant, suddenly had no idea what to do. His hands fidgeted, his awkward discomfort was palpable. He must have realized that his goal here was accomplished and that we did not intend to hinder his progress, for he managed a pat to Holly’s back, a gesture like a toddler carefully shaping his first mud pie. “Apology accepted.”

They both floated over to land next to me. Holly broke the hug and forced her lower lip to stop trembling. Her eyes were two oceans of empathy. “Is there anything I can do to help?”

Doctor Fid’s faceplate betrayed no emotion. “You can be the superhero that your world needs.” His voice turned stern. “You are reckless!” And then respectful. “But you have the heart of a true hero.”

Holly wiped her eyes with her cape, and smiled warmly at Doctor Fid. “I am beginning to think the latter of you, mister scary supervillain.”

I could have sworn that a smile flitted across Doctor Fid’s faceplate. He grabbed my disc off his armor and handed it to me. “Trade you.”

I handed him the disc off the control panel. Doctor Fid floated up and backed into the completely stabilized portal. “Goodbye, Holly. Learn from him. I respect his intellect.” And Doctor Fid was gone.

Super Holly sighed deeply and gazed wistfully at the portal, which vanished. “Good luck, Doctor Fid.” Then a happy little pout pursed her lips. She turned to me. Her voice was a cat meowing for petting. “Cal? Have you thought about upgrading your armor?”

It was hard to keep from laughing. I reared up to Dracula posture. “I thought you liked the Batman look.”

She wrapped her arms around my neck. “I love it. But maybe a little blacker?” She pecked my lips with a quick kiss: “MMM-WAH! And some stars? MMM-WAH! And glowing joints? MMM-WAH!

I smirked at her. “And a big rod?”

Holly smirked back. “Ew.”


Sept 14 I will perform and sell/sign Super Holly books at Half Price Books

At Half Price Books, 39152 Fremont Hub, Fremont, CA, on Saturday Sept 14 2-4pm, I will be talking about my book, Super Holly Hansson in Super Bad Hair Day. I will perform a couple of stories, tell how all this nonsense evolved from The DaVinci Code, how Super Holly evolved into a superheroine, how Cal “The Intellectual” evolved into a movie critic, how I started at open mics, and so on. When I perform, I will play royalty free background music. Mostly classical.

I attach the flyer in PDF and JPG. If you are near Fremont this Saturday, come on by. I have 15 books to sell. (I wish I had more, even though I have never sold that many in one sitting. If I sell out, I can point them to my Kindle book.)

P.S. That’s right, I am an author. Now you gotta treat me with RESPECT!

FAW HPB Sept 2019 Dave Strom flyer <– download PDF

I will be on two panels at Silicon Valley Comic Con

At Silicon Valley Comic Con, I will be on two panels. To see the panel descriptions, go here and search for David Strom.

Writing Artless Comic Books on Saturday August 17 10:30-11:30AM in Room 230A

I thought of this and I will moderate the panel. Here is the panel description. Hmm, I did not think of the children/teen/adult question, so I will try to discuss that too.

How do you write superheroes and superheroines (or supervillains for that matter) that aren’t comic books? Is this a growing market, or is it bottoming out? What are the challenges to making those stories really pop? Do they have to be written for children and teens, or is there an adult list? Come with your questions on reading and writing them and leave with a great list of titles and advice.

There are good people on this panel. Valerie Frankel (the writing machine!) has written over 60 books about pop culture, including superheroines. I was very impressed with her book Empowered: The Symbolism, Feminism, and Superheroism of Wonder Woman, which I beta-read for her.

David Reiss wrote a trilogy about alpha supervillain and all-around super-intelligent badass Doctor Fid (start buying and reading it here). I would dare to say Doctor Fid is a villain whose heart makes him take a hero’s journey. Doctor Fid has risen into the top 100 in superhero fantasy ebooks on Kindle. I have read this trilogy, and it is worth your time and money. Doctor Fid would give Super Holly a very tough fight.

Sarah Stegall is another local writer who covers pop culture, and has a story in X-Files, Vol. 2: The Truth Is Out There-Prose. Yes, she took television and turned it into prose.

Fourth Wave Feminism and Diverse Superheroines on Saturday August 17 4:30-5:30PM in Room 114

I signed up for this. I have seen several of the shows referred to in the description. I have definite ideas and opinions about these shows, such as the new She-Ra being a helluva improvement on the original. But I admit I have to look up what fourth wave means.

P.S. I believe I will also be at at a table with local authors, selling my book. My one little book. I need to publish more books. Sigh.

Guest blog from Emerian Rich: Kill Switch!

Here is a guest blog post from horror author and FIEND, I mean FRIEND, Emerian Rich!

New book from HorrorAddicts.net Press: Kill Switch!!!

As technology takes over more of our lives, what will it mean to be human, and will we fear what we’ve created? What horrors will our technological hubris bring us in the future?

Join us as we walk the line between progressive convenience and the nightmares these advancements can breed. From faulty medical nanos and AI gone berserk to ghost-attracting audio-tech and one very ambitious Mow-Bot, we bring you tech horror that will keep you up at night. Will you reach the Kill Switch in time?


A sneak peek inside…


“Just sign the liability waiver and we’ll get started. This should be a quick painless procedure.” Dr. Charles E. Windygate depressed the plunger, dispensing morphine into his patient’s IV on top of the local anesthesia already administered to his burned lower extremities.

“I trust you. Let’s get this done.” The patient, Larry Dougherty, scribbled his signature and handed the clipboard back without glancing at the print. A simple gold wedding band gleamed on his ring finger. Well-defined muscles rippled in his arms, chest, and torso, but his legs were an oozing blackened mess.

Moments later, Larry gave a loopy grin. “Gosh, I feel better already, Doc.” A fireman by trade, Larry had raced into a burning house to save a toddler trapped on an upper floor. Just as he’d reached the girl, the wooden floor had given way. As they’d fallen, Dougherty had clutched her to his chest, using his body to cushion the impact. When he’d awoken in the hospital, he’d learned his squad had dragged them out. The kid was completely unharmed, but third-degree burns covered his own legs.

Word traveled fast in a hospital and so Dr. Windygate had quickly learned about the fireman’s traumatic burns. Immediately after the man was admitted, Windygate had popped in to ask if he wanted to participate in an experimental wound debridement procedure. Given the chance to stop the immense pain and perhaps save his charred legs, Dougherty had readily accepted.

Sterile white fluorescent light blazed down, harshly illuminating the operating theater. It gleamed off the stainless-steel tables and counters, sparkled off the tile walls, and glinted off sharp, clean, surgical instruments. The hospital smelled of disinfectant and gauzy bandages. Floor polish tickled the nose like an alcohol-soaked cotton ball.

Dr. Windygate ignored the two young medical students standing by to assist—a tall Latina and a rather short, geeky male. He didn’t know their names. He didn’t care. They were only present to comply with hospital research policy, but this was his project, dammit! He’d spent a decade developing this technology on his own. He would not share the glory with just anyone, let alone two upstart medical students. If they cared about their careers in medicine, they’d stay well away and keep their mouths shut.

Dr. Windygate’s hands shook with excitement as he accepted the clipboard from Mr. Dougherty. If this new procedure was successful, he would make medical history, cementing his name in medical texts alongside Linus Pauling, Louis Pasteur, and Edward Jenner. He smirked, adjusting his tiny spectacles. He could almost taste the fame. To conceal his anticipation, he coughed twice and headed to the tiny surgical sink.

“You all set, my good man?” he called, lathering his hands.

“Ready when you are, Doc.”

“There’s absolutely nothing to worry about. Nope, nothing at all.” Returning to the bedside, Windygate snapped on sterile blue latex gloves.

“Do anything. I don’t care. Just fix my legs.”

Windygate shrugged away a dribble of nervous perspiration. “Yes, of course. I went to Oxford Medical. I’ve been practicing for twenty years. I’m perfectly relaxed, well-rested, and prepared for this. You’ve absolutely nothing to fear.”

Dougherty’s brow furrowed. He chuckled uneasily. “You trying to convince me or yourself, Doc?”

Windygate inhaled a deep breath, swelling his body like a balloon. “I’m just excited. It’s not every day I get to test out a new surgical technique, is it?” Grinning, he toyed with a scalpel. It gleamed and flashed.

The fireman frowned, considering. “Wait. New? How new?”

“Actually…you’ll be the first human subject. The waiver gave your consent to test this new wound debridement procedure. You still okay with that?”

“I guess,” Dougherty said slowly. “It has been tested though, right? On animals or something?”

“Oh goodness, yes.” Windygate nodded. “Thoroughly tried and tested in the veterinary setting with startling successes. Works in both theory and practice. I perfected it myself. I can assure you, it’s completely safe.”

“Let’s get on with it.”

“I’ll be using new robot technology to debride those burns and accelerate the healing.”

Dougherty propped himself on his elbows. “Robots? Really! Why didn’t you say so? What could be more precise than robots? Seems today’s new technology makes everything safer.”

Windygate gently pressed him back down. “Yes, quite. But, as with any new technology, it still requires a spot of testing. Hence, you.”

He turned to his instrument tray and picked up a squat clear plastic container filled with several hundred, small, white, beads. Twisting the lid, he broke the seal and retrieved a handful of the tiny smooth spheres. Carefully, he extended his cupped gloved hand.

“Take a look, but do be careful, they cost a thousand dollars apiece. My research grant paid for them and I do hope to re-use them.”

Dougherty leaned over, craning his neck. “Huh. They’re tiny. Don’t look scary at all! What are they?”

“I call them: Remote-controlled Electronic Maggots. REMs for short.”

“Maggots, ugh!” Dougherty recoiled, making a face.

“Nominally only, for how they break down the dead tissue like maggots. But never you worry, they’re entirely controlled by this remote. See?”

Windygate plucked a gray rectangular object about the size of a cell phone from his instrument tray. Its hard rubber face had six smooth, raised buttons—four blue directional arrows, one red square, and one green circle. He passed it to Dougherty.

“A remote control, eh? Like something my boys might drive their toy cars with.” He handed it back.

“Yes, but in case you have any residual worries, my REMs have two built-in failsafe mechanisms,” Windygate bragged. “The red button kills their power, immediately stopping them. Second, they work by sensing inflammatory biomarkers near the wound. If they’re not in contact with necrotic skin, they won’t move. Prevents them from damaging any healthy tissue. See, here on my glove, it doesn’t move at all. There’s nothing for it to do. But, when I put it on your leg, it activates.”






Available on Amazon!

Saturday, Feb 9, I sell books at Newpark Mall

At Newpark Mall (2086 Newpark Mall, Newark, CA) from 10-6, near the food court, I will be with members of the Fremont Area Writers selling books. I have a fresh batch of Super Bad Hair Day books to sell, hopefully typo-free (although I might change a reference to Humphrey Bogart to James Cagney.) I will sign books. I will write. I’ll meet a budding artist, friend of a fellow FAW member. I will absorb creativity from my fellow writers. And I will see how strong my bladder is (the movie Malcolm X taught me two things: a movie can do justice to a great book, and never order a XXL soft drink at a three hour movie).

On Jan 24, I am an open mic headliner!

Thursday, January 24, sometime after 7pm, at the Cafe Frascati literary open mic (for writers of stories and poetry) in downtown San Jose (315 S 1st St.), I will be the headliner. That means I am on stage for about 15 minutes instead of the usual 4-5 minutes for the many and various storytellers and poets. I will perform The Intellecta Rhapsody, where Super Holly Hansson gets into a big argument with her boyfriend’s Batman-esque car (she punches a hole in its dashboard, it shoots her in the face like Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd), and then she has to team up with the car to defeat a gangster and his gang (think Edward G. Robinson, “Yeah, yeah, Rocky got you good! Yeah! Yeah!”). I will do some fun voices: robot car, Patton-esque general, Rocky gangster, dopey henchmen. The background music is the classical Hungarian Rhapsody. I will bring Super Bad Hair Day books to sell. My latest shipment (fixing a typo and a little mark on the cover art) came in yesterday. The Intellecta Rhapsody script is in the book.

Thank you, Mighty Mike McGee (open mic host with the most!) for having me as a headliner. I’ll try not to let it go to my head. Mike will pay for my dinner that evening. Now, where’s my star on Hollywood Blvd?

Harlan Ellison and Steve Ditko

The late Harlan Ellison (fantasy writer) and Steve Ditko (comic book artist) each deserve a little credit.

Harlan won Hugo and Nebula awards for his stories. Harland had opening lines like, “When they unscrewed the time capsule, preparatory to helping temponaut Enoch Mirren to disembark, they found him doing a disgusting thing with a disgusting thing.” Don’t tell me you can stop reading there.

But Harlan deserves more credit for his essays. If you can read only one Ellison essay, read “Somehow, I Don’t Think We’re In Kansas, Toto,” in the book “Stalking the Nightmare.” Harlan tells the story of his script, “Phoenix Without Ashes,” degraded into a TV series called The Starlost. Those of you close to my age might remember that awful TV series; it looked like it spent $1.56 on special effects. Harlan tells how his pilot script was renamed to “Voyage of Discovery.” (I guess the producers were afraid the audience would get confused reading the word “phoenix”), and how they made an episode about giant bees. Harlan’s pilot script is about humanity on a gigantic space ark fleeing Earth’s destruction, and the crew were killed in an accident, and one man discovers that the ark will fly into a star within five years unless he finds the ark’s control room and gets it back on course. Harlan is on the phone to the idiots making the show, and…

“You’re building the control room?” I said, aghast with confusion and disbelief. “But you won’t need that till the last segment of the series. Why are you building it now?”

“Because you had it in your bible,” he explained.

“That was intended to show how the series ended, for God’s sake!” I admit I was screaming at this point. “If they find it first time out, we can all pack our bags and play an hour of recorded organ music!”

“No, no,” Davidson argued, “they still have to find the backup computer, don’t they?”

“Aaaaarghh,” I aaaaarghhed. “Do you have even the faintest scintilla of an idea what a backup control is?”

“Uh, I’m not certain. Isn’t it the computer at the back of the ship?”

“It’s a fail-safe system, you drooling imbecile, it’s what they use if the primary fails. The primary is the control… oh to hell with it!” I hung up.

If you want to write for TV or movies, you must read this essay. Must as in not doing so would be one of the few capital crimes in the Star Trek universe.

Steve Ditko was one of the greatest comic book artists of all time. His art made Spider-Man a star (along with Stan Lee’s writing to make a flawed, problem-plagued teenager a hero). But Ditko deserves more credit as a writer. For me, his jewel was Shade the Changing Man, a brief but bright star. In 9 issues (its run was cancelled due to DC axing a huge number of comics all at once), Ditko made an oppressive world vs. the one hero framed for murder, a world with strong women at a time when that was NOT usual. The scene where Shade’s former fiancée (and a cop tracking Shade down) sees that Shade saved her from the Area of Madness (not a place where you want to take photos) shows how a strong tough woman can still have a heart. And the names! Rac Shade! Mellu Loron! Sude: the Supreme Decider! The  Meta-Zone! The Zero-Zone! The M-Vest (M for Miraco)! I wish this story could have lived longer. It deserves a movie and a resolution. If you want to read it, buy the Steve Ditko Omnibus Volume One.

P.S. I read that Ditko plotted it and drew it, but another guy wrote the dialog. The Marvel method? Well,  that is Steve Ditko being a Stan Lee, and so I still give Ditko big writing credit.

P.P.S I admit that Ditko’s artwork influenced how Super Holly’s telekinesis manifests.

P.P.P.S. Yeah, I am late with this post, Ditko and Harlan passed months ago. But WordPress just told me that my blog is getting a spike in traffic. So now’s a good time.