The Paramecium Papers

Blog feedback from a feral study group in Dubuque indicates that my focus here on the Round Table has been insanely misguided for years. Or, perhaps it’s an insane study group and my posts have been too feral for everyday people.

Study group spokesperson Vixen Galore said, “Malcolm–I hope you don’t mind if I use your first name–you need a niche. You’re all over God’s multicolored earth here with your posts. After all, you’re writing this blog in hopes of attracting readers to your books, right?”

“Sort of, Vix, but I don’t have a niche because I don’t know who those prospective readers are.”

“You better find out. But first, find something fresh and new and write ground breaking posts about it day after bloody day until the cows come home. My feral advice is paramecia. You’ll have people kicking in your front door in nothing flat.”

Suddenly, perhaps because I’ve been watching tennis matches at Indian wells while drinking moonshine, that advice makes sense. If things go well, I might even change the name of the blog to The Paramecium Papers.

What is a Paramecium?

For those of you who haven’t thought about these cute little critters since your grade school biology class, here’s the definition from Wikipedia: “Paramecium (also Paramoecium) (/ˌpærəˈmʃəm, –ˈmʃiəm, –ˈmsiəm/ parr-ə-MEE-sh(ee-)əmparr-ə-MEE-see-əm) is a genus of unicellular ciliates, commonly studied as a representative of the ciliate group. Paramecia are widespread in freshwaterbrackish, and marine environments and are often very abundant in stagnant basins and ponds. Because some species are readily cultivated and easily induced to conjugate and divide, it has been widely used in classrooms and laboratories to study biological processesIts usefulness as a model organism has caused one ciliate researcher to characterize it as the “white rat” of the phylum Ciliophora.

Since there a billions of these suckers in water, chances are there are millions of them inside you. For all we know, there may even be more of them in your favorite bottled water than the microscopic chips of plastic that today’s news told us about.

The downside is this: we don’t really know what they want (the paramecia hordes, not the pieces of plastic). That being the case, my mission here–my new niche–will be to teach you how to develop your psychic powers so that you can communicate with the so-called white rats of the Ciliophora phylum. So far, it appears that they want most of us to stay more hydrated than we do and to stop killing them by boiling our water or adding chemicals to it.

The other downside is that early results are showing that these tiny specks of life are actually more intelligent than some humans. It’s a group mind kind of thing: they think like the BORG in Star Trek, a true collective where the rights of the individual (including you) don’t mean squat.

Some people tell us that if the planet gets wiped out by a nuclear war, cockroaches will be the primary survivors. Maybe so. But they have to drink the water, and what that means is that the thoughts roaches think they’re having are coming from paramecia.

The inner child people often speak of is really a BORG-like colony of paramecia. If this doesn’t disturb you, then you’re probably not the true niche-reader for this blog.

Upcoming topics for The Paramecium Papers are:

  1. How to ask a paramecium out on a date.
  2. Understanding the kinds of books paramecia like and what they do to you if your’re not reading those books.
  3. How much beer can you drink without out turning your colony of paramecia into a bunch of sots?
  4. Paramecia speak Russian, so they have been meddling in your decision making longer than Mueller suspects, and so far, he hasn’t subpoenaed any of them. (Of course, his colony might be blinding him to reality.)

So there it is, a niche that will lure readers into my magical, paranormal, and fantasy novels and short stories.

Malcolm, Vix, and Paramecia Colony J38


Recent Small Press Fantasy

I like finding fantasy from small presses. One place I check regularly is the “Small Press Bookwatch” on the Midwest Book Review site. Their capsule reviews give bookstore owners and readers a quick look at each book along with the name of the publisher and the publisher’s web site. The following recently reviewed books are all available on Amazon. Click the book covers for the links.

The Guardians of Time by Damian Lawrence

  • Kirkus: This is a compelling, detailed read, and one that offers its audience something solid to chew on. Lawrence does a masterful job of drawing readers into his fully realized, morally complex vision of the future.
  • Midwest: When the world is out of time, anything to buy some would be very much welcomed. “The Guardians of Time” is a fantasy by Damian Lawrence as he constructs a tale of the world on the brink of destruction faced with the environment revolting. With the assistance of time travel, Mark Lawson tries to buy the world much more but in the process may only expedite the process. Blending the history of Greece into a tale of balance, “The Guardians of Time” is a choice and much recommended read for fantasy readers.

Remember Me To Paradise by Amy J. Benesch

  • Publisher: A Shapeshifter from a planet known as Paradise, comes to Earth on a mission to rescue other Shapeshifters who may have become trapped in Earth shapes and are unable to return to their home planet. During his time on Earth the Shapeshifter becomes a dog, a duck, a pigeon, a human male, and a human female. It is as a human female that the Shapeshifter begins to forget his true identity. Although her dreams terrify her (she can’t understand why she dreams of flying and of making love to women), she keeps working to put the pieces of the puzzle together and recover her memory, although with each passing day she becomes more identified with her current shape and less likely to believe the truth of who she really is.
  • Midwest:  It is hard to remember what we truly are at times. “Remember Me to Paradise” is a fantasy telling of Shapeshifters and their efforts to return to their home planet of Paradise. Trapped in earthly forms with little memory of their true identity, they feel disconnected as humans and must slowly come to terms with their true nature. “Remember Me to Paradise” is a fun and much recommended pick for fantasy collections.

The Last Seer and the Tomb of Enoch by Ashland Menshouse

  • Publisher: Aubrey Taylor’s quaint and cozy life in the subdued, Appalachian town of Lake Julian had never been exceptional. Shouldered by his lifelong friends, Buzz Reiselstein and Rodriqa Auerbach, he quietly endured the puerile punishments of a persistent pack of pesky bullies that included the most-feared kid in school, Magnos Strumgarten, and his own obnoxiously, well-accomplished brother, Gaetan. Comfortable in his humdrum niche of the absolutely average, Aubrey never pushed back. Until…fate dug a little too deep…and the unseen darkness of unspoken places rattled his mediocrity. When spurious specters and elusive mountain men battle for a tomb of Watchers, buried in ages past, only those who choose to look beyond the surface feel the grip of the ancients’ revenge. Unusual disappearances, a colorful cadre of insightful townsfolk and a whirlwind of blunders and mishaps exposes the struggling forces that transform Aubrey and his friends into more than spectators amidst the oldest war of all.
  • Midwest: Trapped in a conflict of time, the world struggles to squeak through. “The Last Seer and the Tomb of Enoch” is a science fiction and fantasy epic from Ashland Menshouse as he spins a tale of angels and watchers looking over the fate of the world as our traditional world is torn apart by its march to the future and the pull of the past legends and mythology. “The Last Seer and the Tomb of Enoch” is an excellent pick for fiction fans looking for a massive overreaching and unique tale, highly recommended.

Finding Magic by Ray Rhamey

  • Publisher: Annie is a gifted healer in the Hidden Clans, descendants of a Celtic ancestress with a genetic inheritance of mental abilities that enable them to do magical things. She can slow aging, cure disease, heal a heart from the inside . . . or crush an enemy’s as it beats. They hide to escape persecution that has haunted them through the ages, and they’ve moved safely among us since the Salem witch trials. But a Homeland Security agent penetrates Annie’s disguise, and she’s forced to flee. On the run as a suspected terrorist, Annie is desperate to protect her kin from discovery. Then a greater threat arises when a clansman bent on avenging the murder of his son creates an unstoppable killer plague. Annie is the only hope for billions of people . . . if she can evade capture. With high-stakes conflict and human drama, Finding Magic explores loss, prejudice, family, and the human magic within each of us.
  • Midwest: When something is not understood, it is feared. “Finding Magic” follows Annie, the latest in a long line of a priestess clan with the power to save or destroy lives. When a government agent finds that her clan has this power, she finds her people under the gun as terrorists, and with the outbreak a new plague that could end humanity, she finds that more than ever she must live and be free or else there will be nothing to protect. “Finding Magic” is a riveting work of modern fantasy, highly recommended.


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of two contemporary fantasies from Vanilla Heart Publishing, “The Sun Singer” and “Sarabande.”

contemporary fantasy - a woman's trials