Off the Shelf: Fall 2004
Author: Kathryn Kirkland
Posted: October 7, 2004


By R. J. Archer ’75, VBW Publishing, College Station, Texas, 2004.

What would you do if you won an $86 million lottery jackpot? In Archer’s science fiction novel, his lead character, a Seattle aerospace engineer, chooses to explore the unexplained. He quits his job at Boeing to investigate the origin of a mysterious black sphere, which leads him from Seattle to Nevada to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. What he discovers is a possible link between the shamans of Mesoamerica and a race of alien explorers. Tractrix is the first in a series of novels that Archer, a computer consultant and freelance writer, plans to write.

The Quarries of Sicily: A Novel

By Thomas Doulis (emeritus English faculty), Xlibris Corporation, Philadelphia, 2003.

This page does not contain reviews, but synopses of books and CDs. However, as editor, I’d like to make an exception for this book, and let readers know that it is one of the best I’ve read for PSU Magazine. It’s a novel of ideas surrounding the story of a Greek author, who has been ignored by the literary world, and now may have his book, The Quarries of Sicily, made into a movie. The details convinced me that the story’s author, Stamos Patrinos, was real, and I could read his books and poetry. But he is just an incredible fictional character. Quarries was first published in 1969, and fortunately Doulis has brought it back with the help of a self publishing company.


By Michael Hollister (emeritus English faculty), AuthorHouse, Bloomington, Indiana, 2004.

Set in the 1940s, Hollister’s novel tells the interwoven stories of two star-crossed people, whose morality and drive for success collide under the bright lights of Hollywood. Sarah is an innocent Oregon farm girl who follows the boy she loves to Los Angeles. Ryan is a self-made man. A former dance band singer from Ohio, he rises from gas station attendant to various studio positions and ultimately director at 20th Century Fox. Hollister, whose father worked in the movie industry, taught in the English department for 32 years. He now lives in Brookings.

Meus Ensis cover imageMeus Ensis: A Bohemian’s Tale

By Dennis Kucera ’74, PublishAmerica, Baltimore, 2003.

Inspired by their faith, but confronted by challenges they could not have foreseen, many men set forth from Europe in the late 11th century to free the Holy Land from non-Christians. Kucera uses this historical setting to spin a story of a young Bohemian who is swept up into this first Crusade. He experiences the exhilaration of finding new lands and new friends along with the hardship and corruption of war. Kucera has also written In a Now Forgotten Sky, a history of the 31st Fighter Group in World War II, and The Heap, a horror story of a World War I German pilot. Kucera lives in Portland.

Questions and Answers for Physicians

Translated by Gary Leiser ’69 and Noury Al-Khaledy (deceased, Semitic languages faculty), Koninklijke Brill, The Netherlands, 2004.

Middle East students of medicine studied from this guide—the epitome of medical knowledge—at the turn of the 13th century. They learned to deduce the name of a patient’s lover from his or her pulse and how to treat a patient’s complex head wound. Leiser came across a copy of the work in 1977. He called upon his former undergraduate professor of Arabic, Al-Khaledy, to help with the translation. They worked together on it sporadically until the professor passed away in 1995. Leiser, who is director of the Travis Air Force Museum on base in California, finished the translation on his own. He has also published extensively on the social history of the Medieval Middle East, including translations of the works of M.F. Koprulu.

Learning Online: A Guide to Success in the Virtual Classroom

By Maggie McVay Lynch (Education faculty), Routledge Falmer, London, 2004.

Lynch, an experienced teacher, has developed more than 40 online courses for colleges and universities. Writing from experience, she includes information ranging from tools such as WebCT and Blackboard, to overcoming personal barriers to success in distance learning—issues that students of any age, stage, or situation are likely to encounter. With the help of anecdotes, the book demystifies terms and concepts common to online learning; addresses issues of online ethics such as netiquette, plagiarism, and software piracy; and offers practical advice on interacting effectively online, submitting assignments, and doing research.

Reviews are of faculty and alumni books, recordings, and Web publications. To have a work considered for this page, please submit pertinent information to PSU Magazine via email to, or fax to 503-725-4465, or mail to PSU Magazine, Portland State University, PO Box 751, Portland, OR 97207-0751.