Wednesday, May 15, 2024





1 July 2024 - THE LITTLE GREEN MEN MURDERS to be published



Murder, Monoliths, and UFOs – Are Aliens Involved?

Jim Guthrie is back. This time, Louisville’s contemporary Philip Marlowe must rescue a documentary filmmaker who has been kidnapped at the annual “Little Green Men Festival” in—wait for it—Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Are aliens involved? What about that mysterious monolith that turned up the night before the kidnapping on the festival grounds? And how does a fifteen-year-old murder case that involved Guthrie’s current client tie in? THE LITTLE GREEN MEN MURDERS, number two in the Guthrie series, is another fast-paced mystery novel with a complex story, off-beat humor, and a vivid sense of place.



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The Little Green Men Murders is Rick Neumayer’s third published novel following his debut with Journeyman in 2020 and Hotwalker (2021), and his second in the Jim Guthrie PI series. Rick has published short fiction in many literary magazines, and three of his full-length Broadway-style musical collaborations have been produced. A career teacher, he has had a wide variety of experiences, including working as a newspaper reporter, book reviewer, literary magazine editor, and singer in rock bands. He is a Louisville native and resident. A Male High grad, he has degrees from Spalding University (MFA), University of Louisville (MA), and Western Kentucky University (BA).

PRAISE for The Little Green Men Murders

“A finely written, propulsive novel that fans of contemporary mysteries are sure to enjoy.”


Kirkus Reviews

“As he investigates, Jim learns about a strange and sometimes comical UFO subculture in which festival attendees dress up as “little green men” and spin numberless conspiracies about government coverups. Could Travis have angered one of these devoted believers by making a film about the person’s obsession with some strange monoliths that appeared in 2020?

    The situation becomes more complex when Jim and Jessamine attempt to track the ransom money and discover that one of the kidnappers has been murdered, leaving no information about Travis’ whereabouts. Jim and Jessamine now have to decide how much information to share with the police, who are less interested in finding Travis alive than in establishing links between the kidnapping and local drug dealers.

     “This novel has a great deal going for it, chiefly its pacing. There’s no overly drawn-out introductory section in which the characters are introduced and the plot is established. Instead, readers are immediately enmeshed in the kidnapping drama and swept into the perilous quest to rescue the victim before time runs out. The book has little break in the action until the complex threads of the plot are fully revealed, and even then, last-minute details will keep readers guessing until the final page.

     “The fast-paced plot doesn’t prevent the author from fleshing out the key characters, particularly Jim Guthrie and Jessamine Tilford, who interact effectively throughout the book despite their differences in age and personality. Neumayer avoids worn-out cliches in his characterizations of the two central figures, opting to highlight their working relationship under intense pressure rather than ginning up distracting romantic tension between them.

     “The setting for this novel, rural Kentucky, is also an effective choice, as it places the story in an atmosphere readers will find intriguing for its somewhat alien and mysterious character…. The presence of abandoned churches and bizarre religious sects only adds depth and interest to the plot.”


“A finely crafted mystery that is sure to delight fans of the genre. With its compelling characters, clever plot twists, suspense, humor, and unique setting, this captivating journey through rural Kentucky's UFO subculture novel is a must-read for anyone looking for thrills and entertainment.”

– Drema Drudge, author of the novels Kentucky Fried Woolf and Victorine

“The writing is sharp and engaging. Each chapter brims with unforeseen revelations. Kentucky’s rural landscape becomes a character, with its abandoned churches, dense forests, and mysterious religious sects adding depth and intrigue. Neumayer's approach to storytelling elevates this book beyond mere entertainment, showcasing it as a work of literary merit.”


“This ingenious thriller will grab your interest and won’t let go until the last shot is fired.”

Bob Sachs, author of 56 published short stories

“Much of the action centers around Hopkinsville, Kentucky, in the southwestern part of the state where Jessamine’s mother was raised and where the ‘Little Green Man Festival’ is underway. The annual event honors the appearance of aliens at a nearby farmhouse in the 1950s, and draws thousands of people—skeptics, curiosity seekers, true believers, and troublemakers. Against this background, a mysterious monolith appears, setting off a series of events culminating in murder, kidnapping, danger, and mayhem. Will Guthrie sort it out? And at what cost?    

     “Like Hotwalker, the first Jim Guthrie novel, author Rick Neumayer has his detective strip away layers of greed, fear, anger, and hatred in his attempt to gain control of a seemingly uncontrollable series of events. His primary task is to find Travis Tilford, Jessamine’s husband before his kidnappers kill him. It’s not clear whether he’ll succeed.”


SYNOPSIS - The Little Green Men Murders

While fishing on the Ohio River, cash-starved private eye Jim Guthrie receives a panicked phone call from Jessamine Barrett Tilford, who begs him to help find her kidnapped husband, Travis. Jessamine, the daughter of a Kentucky senator, had been attending a rural, UFO-themed festival with her filmmaker husband when he was snatched from a parking lot. (“Back in the 1950s, aliens in flying saucers supposedly visited a local farm. They’ve been celebrating it ever since.”) He’s now being held for $500,000 ransom. Having solved an earlier mystery for the Barretts, Guthrie takes the case but cautions the family that victims of kidnapping are rarely returned alive, even when the full ransom is paid. But there’s something odd and amateurish about these kidnappers, who take unnecessary chances and even negotiate over the ransom sum. As he investigates, Jim learns about a strange and sometimes comical UFO subculture in which festival attendees dress up as “little green men” and spin numberless conspiracies about government coverups. Could Travis have angered one of these devoted believers by making a film about the person’s obsession with some strange monoliths that appeared in 2020? The situation becomes more complex when Jim and Jessamine attempt to track the ransom money and discover that one of the kidnappers has been murdered, leaving no information about Travis’ whereabouts. Jim and Jessamine now have to decide how much information to share with the police, who are less interested in finding Travis alive than in establishing links between the kidnapping and local drug dealers.


Rick Neumayer

Paperback 237 pages

ISBN Paperback:  978-1-956615-33-3. ISBN Digital: 978-1-956615-34-0.

Publisher: Literary Wanderlust LLC, Denver, Colorado (July 1, 2024). https//

Printed in the United States of America


An Excerpt from The Little Green Men Murders

“What’s your take on this monolith showing up here in Hopkinsville?” I asked, as Bartholomew wrapped a white sheet around me.

    “My take? Well, I wonder if we’re being set up.”

    I wasn’t expecting this from him. “Darlene said she thinks it’s aliens.”

    “Aliens. Who knows?” Bartholomew doused a small white towel with hot tap water and scented oil, then wrapped it around my face. “Now, that will soften your whiskers and help you to enter a manly, Zen-like state.”

    “A Zen-like state. What exactly does that mean?” I asked.

    “It means a state of calm attentiveness where one’s actions are guided by intuition rather than by conscious effort.”

    “Intuition, eh?” My intuition was telling me to run away, run away. But I ignored it.

    “You’ll become one with the shave, lost in the rhythm of the task at hand,” Bartholomew said.

    “All that for the price of a shave? Sounds like a real bargain.”

    He smiled beatifically and began stropping a straight razor on a flexible strip of leather hooked to a drawer for tension. I wondered if the Zen-like state included the shrinking I suddenly felt in my scrotum.

FEATURES ANGLE - The Little Green Men Murders

TLGMM’s mix of mystery and science fiction could draw in readers of both popular genres. Unidentified Flying Objects continue to fascinate millions. Each August, aliens who allegedly visited the earth in the 1950s are celebrated in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, at the Little Green Man Days Festival, the setting for the novel.

     On 27 June 2022, CNN reported that the U.S. intelligence community had released something remarkable—an unclassified report to Congress of unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP aka UFO) after denying their existence for decades. Two years later (8 March 2024), CBS said another UAP sighting report was issued by the Defense Department's All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office, whose very existence is intriguing.

     One week later (15 March 2024), a ‘Perfect Monolith’ reportedly appeared in Wales. This Welsh monolith is the only one to suddenly, almost magically appear since 2020, when monoliths (like those in “2001: A Space Odyssey) were popping up everywhere. Monoliths also feature prominently in the novel.



Praise for Hotwalker

Want to sample the Kentucky Derby scene? Mount up with author Rick Neumayer's splendid Jim Gutherie, P.I. mystery, Hotwalker. This riveting, action-packed novel made me laugh out loud even as the suspense spurred me to read on. Neumayer's characters and Louisville life along the Ohio River seem amazingly real, and his witty, tough, carefully ethical detective someone you'd like to know.

Sena Jeter Naslund, author of novels Sherlock in Love and Ahab's Wife


Fast-paced, action-packed, and intricately plotted, Rick Neumayer’s Hotwalker is a winner straight out of the gate. If you like the Kentucky Derby, smart-mouth detectives, and plenty of fisticuffs and gunplay, this novel is a must read. The finely crafted story, vivid characters, and sharp dialog make Hotwalker one of the best detective novels I’ve read in years. In fact, it’s so good that I wish I’d written it. 

Chris Helvey, Author of novels Afghan Love Potion and Flowers for Sergeant Schiller


SYNOPSIS - Hotwalker

Guatemalan groom Felipe Rojas’ body is found in a barn the morning after a fight over a poker game. Police are stymied due to the immigrants’ distrust. An incident in the opening scene involving racehorse owner Herb Alexander’s son results in Guthrie taking the case. With the help of his client, the murder victim’s hotwalker son Carlos, Guthrie begins interviewing persons of interest, including the three conspirators. Several violent encounters with Alexander occur during the investigation. To further sidetrack the detective, veterinarian Dr. Freya Hall seduces Guthrie. But later their mutual attraction becomes real. Guthrie proves robbery was not the murderer’s motive since the victim still had $2,000 in his pocket long afterward (a retired watchman stole the money). Guthrie tries to provoke the killer (assistant trainer Luke Ericson) into making a mistake by proclaiming in a racetrack tip sheet that he’s getting close to solving the murder. The sheet’s publisher, Wyatt Whitlow, has been secretly investigating race-fixing. Whitlow’s prevented from revealing his findings by Luke, who kills him and plants the murder weapon in a rival’s barn. Guthrie discovers a flash drive containing Whitlow’s findings--that PEDs are being used to darken the form of longshots to collect huge payouts. Guthrie learns that Felipe Rojas was the groom for Quicksilver, a longshot who won and dropped dead on the track. Guthrie hypothesizes that Luke and Freya killed the horse with an unintentionally fatal dose of their PED. The P.I. theorizes that the murdered groom must’ve had proof, which he used to blackmail the villains into bringing his family to the U.S.


Rick Neumayer

Paperback 264 pages

ISBN Print: 978-1-942856-87-0

ISBN Digital:

Publisher: Literary Wanderlust LLC, Denver, Colorado (October 1, 2021). https//

Printed in the United States of America

An Excerpt from Hotwalker

I was having a drink on my dock on the Ohio River when the radio announcer’s voice was suddenly drowned out by an earsplitting noise.

    I was thrilled that the Kentucky Derby was once again alive and well post-pandemic, but still hoped to avoid the hoopla surrounding it. While every TV and radio station in town blared about Derby Week events, from the hot air balloons to the Pegasus parade and the Great Steamboat Race, everything else got put on hold. It was unlikely that I would have any new clients. Every phone call or piece of mail addressed to Jim Guthrie, Private Investigator, was a past-due request.

“The twin spires rise from Churchill Downs like church steeples, fitting since thoroughbred horse racing is a religion here this time of year, with worshippers substituting bourbon for the sacramental wine and betting windows for collection baskets. Some 160,000 spectators are expected to line the fences at the racetrack to witness the most exciting two minutes in sports.”

That’s when—startled by the whine of high-powered engines—I glanced upriver to find a red speed boat with a white fiberglass hull hurtling my way. It was bouncing high and slapping the waves hard while throwing up a ten-foot rooster tail. Six miles upriver from the city of Louisville where sailboats and fishermen dotted the channel was no place for a muscle craft like this to zoom close to shore at sixty knots, especially not while recklessly shifting directions and jumping its own wake. Only a grandstander would do that. This one must’ve been showing off for the woman standing beside him in a two-piece swimsuit.

When I waved him off, he veered to the right. But then he veered back while letting go of the wheel, like a kid on a bicycle riding with no hands. He must not have expected the torque that forced the boat to swerve, pitching him out across the waves. Seconds later, he popped up unhurt and swam for shore. But his passenger was not so lucky. As she flipped overboard, she banged her head on the stern and became entangled with the tow rope. Now she was being dragged feet-first underwater.

With no time to think, instinct took over. The driverless boat was going around in circles, with each pass coming closer. When it seemed within reach, I sprinted the length of the dock and leaped, barely hurdled the watery gap, and landed on the foredeck with enough force to carry me over the other side. Instead, I grabbed a railing and, almost dislocating my shoulder, pulled myself up.

Once in the cockpit, I throttled back, bringing the boat to a lurching halt amid a welter of white water. I went aft and pulled in the rope towing the woman. When I got her into the boat, she wasn’t breathing. I laid her out on the deck and tilted her head back, blowing harsh rhythmic breaths into her mouth until she gagged and began spewing up copper-colored water.

“You okay?” I said, realizing at once what a stupid question that was.


Praise for Journeyman

Rick Neumayer's Journeyman tells a timeless tale of youth striving to define not only itself but the world it inhabits. Who lives and who dies and why? What new and old values to reject or embrace--and at what point in the journey? A journeyman in earlier lingo was a tradesman who was no longer an apprentice but not yet a master of his trade. This honest, funny, and heartbreaking novel delivers everything a reader could wish for in the way of action, characters who are convincing and engaging, and ideas worth pondering.

Sena Jeter Naslund, Author of Ahab's Wife and Sherlock in Love


Two intrepid young men set out from Kentucky to retrace the westward peregrinations of Kerouac and Cassady, twenty years after the fact, with tragic results for one and life-changing consequences for the other. Journeyman is the survivor’s stirring, multi-layered account of their travels and travails, interwoven with recollections of the life he left behind. Rick Neumayer’s writing is direct and purposeful, and it propels us through these misadventures as though we were along for the ride.

Ed McClanahan, author of The Natural Man and Famous People I Have Known



Journeyman is an affecting and well-wrought story told against the backdrop of a war that shaped a generation of Americans. Rick Neumayer’s good-natured narrator hitchhikes with his friend across the United States during the sixties, and the friendship between these two young men is a lively, steady stream running throughout the book. Both are complex, vulnerable, imperfect human beings who make you ache with their youthful desire to find a meaningful direction in their lives and to create a better, more just world. If you lived through the Vietnam War era, you will recognize the deep truth of this novel; if you were not alive then, you will fathom the chaos and hope and heartbreak of those years and how they laid the foundation for the world we’re living now. This is a timely, generous book that deftly captures a powerful, heady, mind-bending time.

Eleanor Morse, author of White Dog Fell From The Sky


Rick Neumayer's Journeyman immerses the reader viscerally in the America of 1970-71, with a quixotic hitchhiking pilgrimage from Louisville to a San Francisco commune at its narrative center. It's a moving and provocative story of initiation during a time, not unlike our own, when the energy and possibilities of youth rub up against the complicated realities of a country divided by racial mistrust, generational misunderstanding, political fractiousness, and domestic and international instability.

K. L. Cook, author of The Art of Disobedience and Marrying Kind


Journeyman is a coming-of-age novel about an idealistic, alienated young teacher looking for answers and experience during the turbulent aftermath of the 1960s. Pate Merwin begins his teaching career as a permanent substitute with troubled inner-city middle school students. He also falls in love with Deborah Johnson, an African American bank teller and single parent. When his relationship with Deborah and his teaching career founder, Pate agrees to hitchhike across the country with his friend Stan Hicks, a Navy vet who is now against the Vietnam War. In Denver, the two stay with Pate’s old schoolmate Matthew Duncan, an acting student, and his wife Rebecca, who is putting him through grad school. Domestic discord ends Pate’s visit with his friends. He and Stan resume hitchhiking on a southwest course to see cliff dwellings and sample magic mushrooms. During a fierce mountain storm, they are picked up by an older couple with a psychedelic camper. They are stunned to find Matthew is a fellow passenger.

Pate and Matthew rescue Stan, who has foolishly risked his life out on The Great Sand Dunes. Then at Mesa Verde, Pate is smitten by a young Ute woman named Johona, who believes in the spirit world. They sleep together in the desert following a deeply spiritual and hallucinatory experience produced by taking psilocybin. Stan is injured while climbing a cliff face in the dark.

Matthew reveals that he has been using Stan and Pate to model for a hippie role in a soap opera and departs on his own for Hollywood. After hearing Johona say her cousin is a shaman, Stan agrees to a healing ceremony at an isolated cliff dwelling ruin in the desert.

Broken-hearted when his brief love affair with Johona ends, Pate presses on to San Francisco. In Haight-Ashbury, he and Stan meet Willow, a free-spirited macramé artist, who invites them to stay in her commune. Pate and Willow become an item until he grows disenchanted with free love. Discovering that Stan has bedded Willow, Pate beats him up. Stan claims he was trying to save Pate from loving someone who would never love him back. Unable to fit into the counterculture, Stan re-enlists. Pate paints the big Victorian communal house for beer money. Killed while hitchhiking, Stan’s dying words are that he loved Pate like a brother and hoped for his forgiveness. Crushed, Pate is ready to leave the commune. But he finishes painting the house and, in so doing, acknowledges human selfishness, blindness, and uncertainty in himself and others. Pate realizes that Stan has taught him a precious lesson—that human beings are all imperfect and in need of forgiveness.



Based on a true but wholly fictionalized experience, Journeyman will appeal to anyone who has ever wanted to hitchhike across the country or has had an interest in the 1960s. It adds a missing piece to the literary portrait of the U.S. during the Vietnam War viewed from half a century later. Its protagonist probes the original American sin of white cruelty and injustice to African Americans and Native Americans. The natural world, the highway, and San Francisco as the promised place all figure in Pate’s quest for authenticity and connection.



Rick Neumayer

Paperback 258 pages

ISBN-10: 0996012044

ISBN-13: 978-0996012041

Publisher: The Louisville Review Corp. and Fleur-de-Lis Press (September 8,2020)

Available in paperback at The Louisville Review's website (, in-store and online at Carmichael’s, and online at, Barnes & Noble, and your local independent bookstore.



Tuesday, September 14, 2021

4 out of 4 stars Review of Hotwalker by "I loved the way Rick Neumayer created the mystery and built the suspense in this engaging novel."


Review of Hotwalker

by Raluca_Mihaila » 10 Sep 2021, 18:05

[Following is an official review of "Hotwalker" by Rick Neumayer.]

4 out of 4 stars

Meet Jim Guthrie, a 40-year-old private investigator living in Louisville, Kentucky. He saves Libby Fontaine from a stupid boat accident; as a result, he gains a new pro bono client. Libby’s friend, Carlos Rojas, is a hotwalker from Guatemala who wants to find out who killed his father one year ago. For your information, a hotwalker helps horses to cool down after a race.

The investigation leads the protagonist to Churchill Downs, the horse racing complex where Felipe Rojas, the victim, worked as a groom. Jim has a wide range of suspects, starting with Felipe’s colleagues, like Juan Diaz, a drinker with a history of domestic violence. Herb Alexander (a rich guy with financial problems) and Freya Hall, the attractive veterinarian, are not excluded. One thing is certain—the crime is related to the thoroughbred horse racing business.

I loved the way Rick Neumayer created the mystery and built the suspense in this engaging novel. The writer let me follow the clues without revealing the killer, so I felt like Jim’s partner. The setting was actual; it mentioned the pandemic and Biden’s new policies. Nevertheless, I found some interesting facts about the horses. They prefer having smaller animals around, like goats or cats, but they dislike dogs. The book was very informative about the Kentucky Derby and the entire racing industry.

The author has a great sense of humor, and he poured it into the main character. For instance, after “absorbing a beating,” Jim “eased out to the porch with the grace of an arthritic octogenarian.” I also enjoyed the numerous artistic and cultural references. You would not expect a former cop such as Jim to paint as a hobby. However, expressing his feelings on a blank canvas help the protagonist deal with his emotions.

This captivating book will appeal to fans of crime mystery, investigations, or fast-pacing thrillers. Read the book if you want to discover what it takes to be a good jockey, a trainer, a groom, or a hotwalker. It might be unexpected, but the art lovers will encounter some pleasant surprises along the way. The author also included some insights regarding the immigration policies and the dire situation of the immigrants.

Hotwalker by Rick Neumayer gets a rating of 4 out of 4 stars because it is a very captivating read. There was nothing I disliked about the novel, and I only found several minor errors. It was my favorite type of book: entertaining and instructive, with a touch of humor inserted in the perfect

Friday, September 10, 2021

Kirkus Review of HOTWALKER: “A delightful whodunit with a remarkable hero and sublime Southern setting”

TITLE INFORMATION HOTWALKER A JIM GUTHRIE MYSTERY Rick Neumayer Literary Wanderlust (274 pp.) $14.99 paperback, $3.99 e-book ISBN: 978-1-942856-87-0 October 1, 2021 


In this mystery, a private eye braves Kentucky’s hectic Derby week to investigate a murder at Churchill Downs. Sleuth Jim Guthrie anticipates his business will take a hit with the Derby festivities starting. But he finds a client in Guatemalan immigrant Carlos Rojas, a Churchill Downs “hotwalker” who cools down horses with quiet strolls following a workout or race. 

At last year’s Derby, someone fatally bludgeoned Carlos’ father, Felipe, who worked as a groom. Since then, the police investigation has turned up nothing, so Jim looks into the homicide on his own. Sadly, he quickly realizes that questioning employees at the Churchill Downs backside is a largely fruitless endeavor. As many are immigrants like Carlos, they stay tight-lipped, understandably wary of recent United States laws. But there is a bevy of suspects that Jim can whittle down. Robbery may have been a motive, as Felipe, who won at poker on the night of his murder, had no money on him. He also got in a fight with a man claiming Felipe cheated at that poker game. 

In the course of his investigation, Jim forms an unexpected alliance with Wyatt Whitlow, who publishes The Late Mail, a tip newsletter. Whitlow’s exposés may help draw out the killer; he’s already incensed people with accusations of cheating via buzzers (devices that electrically shock horses during races) or performance-enhancing drugs. When Jim learns some of those accusations have merit, he connects Felipe’s death with other Churchill Downs crimes, which soon include a second murder. 

Neumayer delivers an often lighthearted mystery. For example, scenes unfold at the backside like a soap opera; there’s the perpetually drunk groom, the horse trainer who scuffles with Whitlow over cheating allegations, and infidelity among married folks. Even Jim has a part in all this, having provoked a wealthy thoroughbred owner whose foolish son the private investigator humiliated (with good reason). The story likewise treats the detective genre playfully. In one of his articles, Whitlow mocks Jim for not donning a fedora or trench coat, and the PI later initiates a pursuit on a bicycle at moderate speed. 

The protagonist is good-natured and sympathetic; he takes Carlos’ case pro bono, despite a pile of bills, and suffers the authorities’ ire as they despise Jim, a former cop–turned–private eye. At the same time, he’s caught up in an effectively understated romance with veterinarian Dr. Freya Hall. She’s one of the cast’s myriad characters, many of whom make viable murder suspects and bolster the ongoing mystery. The author aptly develops each one against a vibrant Churchill Downs backdrop. 

Along with that comes abundant racing lingo, like the titular job, that the author subtly defines for novices without boring readers already familiar with it. Descriptions of Derby races, though disappointingly brief, are animated and memorable: “Right out of the gate, it was a mad scramble with five mounts no more than two lengths apart…. All other sounds were quickly muffled by crowd noise. Manes and tails streamed behind like battle flags as the horses charged into the backstretch.” 

A delightful whodunit with a remarkable hero and sublime Southern setting.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

The Three Laws of Robotics and why they matter

I Recently I blogged about the new Dune movie coming out soon, which the NYT’s Paul Krugman wrote about enthusiastically. Krugman also commented about Apple TV’s upcoming SF film version of Isaac Asimov’s classic Foundation trilogy. He’s a bit concerned that the original “gripping tale” will not be cinematic enough—i.e., lack action—which trailers suggest will be supplied by other writers.

Be that as it may, Foundation has a story line with contemporary relevance we can ill afford to ignore. It’s “about the collapse of a galactic civilization, but nobody knows it except a handful of mathematical social scientists—the psychohistorians.

Led by a guy named Hari Seldon, they devise a plan to limit the damage. Civilization, their math tells them, can’t be saved, but they can limit the duration of the dark age that will follow. The “Foundation” novels trace the progress of their plan across the centuries.”

As the writer of a literary novel (Journeyman, 2020) myself, I am keenly aware that characterization is the foundation of all literary and dramatic art. However, as the author of a murder mystery novel (Hotwalker, out Oct. 1), I am equally aware of the value of plot, which provides the chain of cause-and-effect holding a story together and making sense of it.

I love well-crafted stories that concern themselves with big ideas, especially if they have current meaning. This is where SF has made such a lasting contribution from Frankenstein to Jurassic Park, cautionary tales with huge popularity.

Another example of Asimov’s genius is “I, Robot,” his linked short story collection published in 1950 long before linked story collection were in vogue. The nine stories in the book are generally acknowledged as having forever changed the world's perception of artificial intelligence.

Three of the short stories from I, Robot have been adapted for television. And the film I, Robot, starring Will Smith, was released in 2004. While incorporating some elements of Asimov's creation, the movie’s screenplay radically changes the storyline. (Another writerly pitfall: your original source material may be changed to the point of unrecognizability. But that's a blog for another day.)  

To me, the most important feature of the I, Robot stories is the “Three Laws of Robotics.” First Law: A robot may not harm a human being or through inaction allow a human being to be harmed. Second Law: A robot must obey commands of human beings unless doing so violates the first law. Third Law: A robot must protect its own existence except when doing so would conflict with the first two laws.

This is brilliant not only for the collection, which dramatizes conflicts between the three laws as robots grow more complex, but for real life, as well. Think of drones, for example. If they were programmed with the three laws, we wouldn’t be threatened by them, as we most assuredly are today.