Fiction and Poetry by Doug Muder

Novel Preview

10 A. S., Ten Years After Superman (1999-???). A novel in progress. It’s been nearly ten years since Superman vanished into the Sun, where he presumably died. Who is the natural person to write the ten-year retrospective? Clark Kent, obviously.

Short Stories

Carol at Christmas (2005). The fourth Mike DeSalvo story. Mike waits up Christmas Eve for one visitor, but has to deal with another: his friend’s ten-year-old daughter Carol. You’d think that a Christmas story full of friends and kids and family and reminiscence would be heart-warming, but this is Mike we’re talking about. (Partial credit for Carol goes to Dave Kay, who in a particularly bah-humbug mood last year suggested a “reverse Christmas Carol” in which someone full of Christmas cheer is visited by three “realities of Christmas” and becomes a Scrooge. That’s not this story, but I doubt I’d have thought of it without Dave’s suggestion.)

The Seeker of Dishonor (2005). The third Mike DeSalvo story. When the Society for Rational Ethics gets a paranormal visitor, it’s lucky to have at least one member with irrational ethics.

The Halloween Cat (2004). Mike DeSalvo, the narrator of Legion, is back. But this time he is relating a light mystery rather than a dark horror story. Halloween Cat concerns Mike’s efforts to fit in with a bizarre (but respectable) religious community, the importance of talking about relationship issues, and a lost cat. It is also highly educational, with sound practical instruction on minding-reading and talking to the dead. DISCLAIMERS: Any resemblance between the Society for Rational Ethics and any actual religious community, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Halloween Cat is in no way a sequel to Legion, though it is consistent with it. If you’re looking for beach reading, skip Legion and start here.

Legion (2004). A theological horror story. The Legion Software Corporation has a strong corporate culture. Or is it more than that?

The Dream Girl (2003). Miranda is wonderful. Her father has always thought so, and the young man narrating the story is coming to agree. Her only possible flaw is that she might not exist.

Best Forgotten (2000). The narrator has a problem with his dreams. Or past lives. Or demons. Or something like that.

Timely Intervention (1999). I don’t know what to say about this one. It’s a scifi story that doesn’t look like a scifi story. Is that a time machine there in the background?

Sidney and God (1996). Pastor Tenhaus’ years in the ministry hadn’t really prepared him for meeting Sidney–and certainly hadn’t prepared him for meeting God.

Seeing the Wizard (1995). An American young man travels to New Zealand, and meets the Wizard of Christchurch, who is not quite what the guidebooks have led him to expect. [A couple of production notes: The local political situation is from 1992, when I was last in New Zealand. And the Wizard of Christchurch is quite real–I don’t think I could have made him up.]

The Calm (1991). An old-time sailing story written to illustrate some ideas about identity. What happens to the identities of these men of action when they are inexplicably becalmed? Most notably, the story introduces the Dayborn–an odd South Sea culture for whom loss of identity is a constant fear.

Fairy Tales, Children’s Stories, Myths, and Parables

Lucy Stone and Henry Blackwell (2009). I told this one as a Valentine’s Day story to the children at First Parish UU Church in Bedford, MA. It’s the true story of a landmark marriage.

The Statue (1999). Three men have the same theophanic dream, but they respond in three very different ways.

The Three Princesses in the Desert (1997). A fairy tale written for my favorite little girl shortly before her seventh birthday. It’s an oddly hybrid tale, combining the style of a traditional Jewish fairy tale with classical Greek mythology. The plot: A plucky little girl manages to lead herself and her foolish sisters out of slavery and back to the palace of their father–and to navigate an Hermetic initiation along the way.

The Parable of the Maze (1993). Jesus returns, and after wandering around listening for two years, describes success in America with a parable.

Midwinter (1992). A story to be read aloud on the longest night. A re-creation of what winter solstice might have meant to the people who erected the circles of standing stones.

The Man Who Gave Up on Life (1991). A story about mindfulness, spontaneity, and surrender. A man’s decision to kill himself leads to many years of doing “just one more thing”.

Birds from the Sea (1988). At a pagan gathering I met a woman who had been raised Jewish. She still carried in her head the voices of the rabbis of her youth, and she couldn’t figure out how to explain to them where her spiritual path had taken her. I wrote this fairy tale for her. In it, the endurance of one little bird works together with the conflicting religions of all the creatures to bring about a result God had been planning for a very long time.


Morning Person (2006). Or maybe “mourning person”.

Recharging (2004). “Back from vacation, batteries spent …”

Avalon (2003). “By all means, find your place of satisfaction …”

Christmas (2001). As Christian a poem as I’m ever likely to write. Not exactly orthodox, but Christian in its own way.

Graduation (2000). An extended metaphor about death and the way I wish it could be.

Half Life (1998). A rather short poem about the anticipation of loss.

Is There Gold in the Stars? (1998). 1998 turned out to be a year in which poems got done and stories didn’t. This one is about wonder and profit. And gnomes, let’s not forget gnomes.

The Male Muses (1998). There were a few of them. Still are, if you know where to look.

Heaven (1995). The choir of angels can be a hellish place if you don’t believe you’re as perfect as you appear. A poem about self-image, self-alienation, and the way it colors experience.