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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Whatcha Writin' 'Bout, Joe?

What This Blog Is All About
I've got a few new short stories in production and would like to tell you about them. I will be keeping you up to date over the next few months as to where and when they'll be available.Though these stories are works of fiction, and will most likely be designated to the genre of "fantasy," all of the creatures, hominids, technologies, and landmasses portrayed therein once actually existed during the same time-period in our planets not-so-distant past. This time period roughly spans the last 15,000 years of what is known as the Ice Age, but is actually the last period of radical glacial movement on Earth.Though the world I will describe within these stories will seem quite fantastic to most readers, I have endeavored to remain quite conservative and have stayed within the boundaries of main-stream science in relating possible events during this period of mankind's history. However, there is actually a great deal of evidence to support various theories that this time period was even more "fantastic" and "technologically advanced" than what I describe therein. This evidence comes to us in the form of "ooparts," "anomalies," and ancient historical and religious writings of the prehistoric world.

In order to avoid ignoring such evidence while maintaining historical credence, I have designated such things to the realms of mythology, rumor, and oral tradition as it is known to the character in the stories. For instance, the reader may find within the dialogue of certain character innuendos to such controversial subjects as Indian "vamanas," advanced sonic technology, angels, aliens, metallurgy, alchemy, and even magic. However, whether these character are talking about actual historic events or simply relating primitive superstition and myth is left entirely up to the reader. My hope is that, while remaining within the boundaries of mainstream science, I have adequately conveyed to the reader the fact that our world was once as "fantastic" and "magical" as Tolkein's Middle-Earth, Robert E. Howard's "Hyborea," or Terry Brooks' "Shannarra."In this blog I will share with you some of the interesting research I have done in order to bring this series of stories into fruition, and provide you with links where you may find further information and entertainment in the subject areas of fantasy and prehistory.Ah hell, I'll probably even post one whole story on here for you to test drive the genre...one of these days.
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Real Dragons











Real Dragons



The most convincing evidence to absolutely prove that at least one type of dragon existed during man's past is the creature known as Megalanie Prisca, which you can find some info about here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megalania




Again Wikipedia tries to be conservative and unbiased, but the only real controversy is its genus. There is no doubt that "the ancient butcher" was well over 23 feet long (even by conservative estimates) and that it could straddle an average sized man without the man's head touching its chest. Its very breath and spittle were probably highly poisonous, its teeth were as long and sharp as short swords, and as the Wikipedia says "...Varanid lizards are very intelligent, and some species can even count." Most of all, it's not doubted that these things at least occasionally snacked on humans. By my own common sense speculations, it's pretty probable that they were involved in the rituals of early humans such as Mungo Man or the later immigrants to Australia. Sacrifice to or worship of them seems pretty likely just from what we know of early humankind. Most likely we had a large part in helping them to go extinct, together with the end of the so-called ice age and the disappearance of the marsupial megafauna.But Megalania was probably not the only Varanid that was a giant back in those days; most animals were larger back then.Man came to Australia well over 60,000 years ago, and this fact has done much to upset tenured scientists' limited notions of human/erectus displacement patterns as well as the dating generally given to boat-building and sea travel. The conservative estimate for Megalania's demise is 40,000 years ago, but I have heard 19,000 years ago as well(http://www.unmuseum.org/bigliz.htm), and the truth is we just don't know how long they lasted.



It is not entirely improbable that we might find a specimen or derivitive descendent of Megalania in one of the vast stretches of uninhabited and almost inaccessible regions of that continent today. Everyone knows the story of fish being pulled up in modern times that were supposed to be extinct for even millions of years. But what alot of people don't realize is that this phenomenon happens with large land animals as well. Dwarf mammoths have been found living in relatively recent times; several species of deer were recently discovered in Cambodia (formerly part of Sundaland I might add); a new species of monkey has been identified in India; an ape-sized chimp was recently found in Africa (by a fellow Georgian I might add); and in Georgia we just might have found a new species of dire-hawg!http://www.monsterpig.com/



I once read the documentation of the accounts of a dragon that terrorized several counties in England and was slain by a knight. It turns out, when you interpret the old english, that the dragon was an "Asian water dragon." This was the name that Rome had given to what we now call a monitor lizard or a crocodile.This simply begs the question, "Why when we change a creature's name do we then deny vehemently that it ever existed?"



Why does a 50+ foot ice age python seem less terrifying than a Chinese dragon, which is basically the same thing?



None of the dragons I mentioned had wings, and it seems to me that wings were a later embellishment to history's dragon legends. However, I do wonder how big the cousins of the flying foxes in Java got during the "Ice Age." My assumption is that, like almost all Ice Age mammals, they got pretty dang big. A flying fox would be hampered in its evolutionary growth by the laws of gravity, no doubt, but I wouldn't be surprised to find fossils as big as a small wyvern ;).Plus there were birds in those times that would have a condor for brunch, and could easily carry off a small child. Those legends about "Rocs" were probably based on fact.



And there were also other beasts in those times to inspire myths, like the sea serpents, giant squids(prehistoric man was a world-traveled sailor, it has now come to light), giant ground sloths, saber-tooth cats, dire wolves, reverse-tusked giant boars, giant rodents, cave and short faced bears (which would absolutely dwarf a grisly), giant apes (giganthropithecus stood 12 feet tall), and all manner of giant terrors and strange and mystical beasts.And the most interesting thing to me is that, as new evidence comes to light, we are finding that there were civilizations of man during that time period who were at least as advanced as the romantic fantasy-like civilizations of the middle ages. Their technology may or may not have been based on metal, but Dwaraka, the Sphinx, Jericho, and many other ooparts and monolithic structures seem to leave no doubt that there were highly civilized communitties during the time in which remainders of fantasy-like beasts and hominids would have still been around.
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Meganthropus Robustus

Meganthropus Robustus


It surprises me how many people who have scoffed at the idea of giants in our ancient past have not heard of the hominid species of 1 million years ago called "Meganthropus Robustus." It was an extremely tall and robust hominid which lived alongside human sized races of homo erectus in the great continent of Sundaland, most of which now lies beneath the sea. If you have not heard of this hominid, a good place to get the basic info is Wikipedia:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meganthropus



Like many descriptions of hominids in scientific publications, the Wikipedia takes on a conservative and guarded air, and one might even walk away from the article relieved that their conventional models of history are still intact, and that Meganthropus was not remarkable and "within the range of homo erectus." However, if we take the time to really interpret what the scientific jargon is saying and "read between the lines," we might truely get the big picture of what this creature was and how it affects the way we should perceive the remote past of human history.What the article says is basically that some scientists claim that Meganthropus was 2/3 the size of Gigantopithecus. This would put the hominid at slightly over 8 feet and at least 500 pounds.Other scientists claim that the hominid was "within the range of homo erectus." But what exactly is the "range" of homo erectus?



My thought is that both schools of thought are right. The "average" Asian homo erectus, over the span of more than 1 million years, was only an inch shorter than the average homo sapien sapient of today, if that (Asian Erectus averaged 5'10"). The average African homo erectus, or homo ergaster, was a good 4 inches taller than the average homo sapien of today (Homo Ergaster averaged 6'3"). Since there are and have been homo sapien sapient populations that approach 7 feet, it's not feasible to doubt that populations of homo erectus reached that height as well, and most probably above it, even when taking a conservative viewpoint. But the fact is that there was much more variation among size and physical traits in homo erectus than there is or has been in homo sapien sapient, probably because homo erectus never went through the extreme bottleneck that homo sapien did, judging by the DNA evidence in our own species. Indeed, we have found the fossils of homo erectus populations that are much smaller than the smallest extremes of the homo sapient "range" on the the island of Flores. So it's not too hard to believe that the extended range of homo erectus goes up in size beyond that of homo sapient just as it goes down in size far below it. The hyper-robust fossils of Meganthropus certainly tend to support this assumption, for they are more massive than any other fossils in the entire hominid catalogue. They are much bigger than the fossils of the second largest hominid known, Austro Bosei, which is estimated at about the size of a gorilla. It's even been stated by scientists on the "giant" side of the fence that if the same formula were used to determine the size of Meganthropus by jawbone fossils that is currently used to determine the size of the "Bosei" fossils, that Meganthropus would be easily over 8 feet tall.



It really shouldn't be that hard to believe that a population of 7 to 9 foot tall hominids did exist in the world at one time. Even individual homo sapiens have reached nearly 9 feet, though probably only because of diseases. It must be remembered that homo erectus' "range" was much larger than our own, and it's even been said by DNA researchers that a homo erectus would be more different from his or her own sister or brother, as far as DNA goes, than a modern Native American is from an African. This is because a bottleneck in our species has severely limited our variation, and hence, our range. Not so with Homo Erectus.



The general consensus is that Meganthropus was tall, and taller than an average homo sapien. But scientist are scared to death of estimating an actual average height because they don't want to be ridiculed, and because not enough evidence is present to be exacting. But we can safely assume that at least some "clans" of Meganthropus were at least as tall as the average NBA basketball player or the average member of the Watusi tribe in Africa.If you take the conservative view that Meganthropus was a "mere" 7 foot in height on average, it may allow you to settle back into the old mires of educational history which we all have been fed the falsities of since grammar school. But before you do so, think of this; a 7 foot tall homo sapien is nothing like a 7 foot tall Meganthropus. These creatures had bone densities several times thicker than ours, and presumeably had muscle mass more like that of an ape than a human. Extreme muscle mass would be absolutely necessary in order to support the bulky skeleton, and barbarians get plenty of strength training in the wild. Think of a 7 foot professional wrestler instead, and then add a couple of hundred pounds of muscle and bone mass, and throw in a bit of primitive ugliness and animalistic savagery. You can probably throw on another foot of height, too, if you're not a scientist worried about grants and tenure. This is the type of creature that one of our presumed ancestors, the homo erectus species known as "Java man," had to compete with on the Island of Java and its now flooded extension of Sundaland. Java man was a good bit shorter on average than even the other Asian strands of homo erectus, so to those who passed the folk tales down to us, Meganthropus was a giant indeed. It's interesting that Meganthropus had a smaller brain than the "average" homo erectus as well; I can almost hear the stupidly intoned sound of "fee-fi-fo-fum" as I write this blog!

Joe Lyon Layden is a prehistoric fiction author and primitive musician. To receive a free copy of this entire novella "The Man from Parkho Khatune Bears Favor," as well as three free songs and monthly updates, freebies, and discounts on Joe's ongoing work, please sign up for the newsletter below.


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The Atlantis Enigma

The Atlantis Enigma
by Herbie BrennanEdition: Paperback
Availability: Currently unavailable
17 used & new from $5.00


Excellently Researched Alternative History, March 30, 2007

What's more, Brennan doesn't jump to wild conclusions like Zechariah Sitchin. There is no need to bring aliens or genetic engineering into the discussion to explain the anomolies of our ancient past, so Brennan doesn't go there. His explanations are more convincing, more fact based, and definitely more believable. Everyone who has been programmed by the current education system should read this book in order to allow their minds to question accepted doctrines that just don't make sense to the informed person. J. Lyon Layden [[ASIN:1601451229 The Other Side of Yore]]" name=review> This is an extremely well documented study of alternate Ice Age theories and does an excellent job outlining and explaining the bizzarre simultaneous occurences on Earth 11,600 years ago. Brennan outlines and explains in detail with well researched facts a plethora of simultaneous anomolies that happened during the aforementioned date in such a way that there is very little left to debate. Walking away from this book after double checking Brennan's resources, it can't be denied that all the facts he provides prove that a major catastrophe happened on Earth and in its solar system precisely 11,600 years ago. It also gives a highly likely cause of the catastrophe, the Vela F Supernova, and it is hard to argue for another cause after faced with Brennan's facts. What's more, Brennan doesn't jump to wild conclusions like Zechariah Sitchin. There is no need to bring aliens or genetic engineering into the discussion to explain the anomolies of our ancient past, so Brennan doesn't go there. His explanations are more convincing, more fact based, and definitely more believable. Everyone who has been programmed by the current education system should read this book in order to allow their minds to question accepted doctrines that just don't make sense to the informed person. J. Lyon Layden The Other Side of Yore
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More REH Conan (The only kind that counts!)

The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian
by Robert E. HowardEdition: Hardcover
Price: $19.77
Availability: In Stock
39 used & new from $16.00


Excellent Compilation, But What's With Skimping On The Glue Del Rey?, March 31, 2007

I was planning to thumb through these books for all eternity, and I know I paid a cheap price for the nice looking, thick books. But one came apart after just two reads- my brother and I both read the first one I got. Conquering sword is also beginning to come apart and I've only read it once and thumbed back through it a time or two. I mean come on, redo it and let me trade this one back in. I'll even pay shipping. I mean, you can swat flies with my self-published children's book, use it as a dust-pan and fan yourself at little league baseball games with it and it STILL won't come apart. A big ol' company like Del Rey should be able to do better. I regret that I'm forced to drop it down a star, but I assure you it's Del Rey's fault and not the author's. J. Lyon Layden [[ASIN:1601451229 The Other Side of Yore]]" name=review> I have all three in this series, and after having to sift through so much Robert Jordon, L. Sprague D. Camp, and other fanfiction writers and being dissatisfied with previous compilation editions that tried to edit Howard into chronological order, I am glad to now have an original Robert E. Howard compilation in the order that the stories were written. The caliber of the work contained inside these books is jaw-dropping. Not only was howard incredibly imaginative and skilled impressively in submersing the reader's attention, but he also seems to have had an uncanny knowledge of certain things about man's prehistoric past that we are only discovering now to be true in the realm of archeology and science. The only problem with this series is that Del Rey skimped big-time on the glue. I was planning to thumb through these books for all eternity, and I know I paid a cheap price for the nice looking, thick books. But one came apart after just two reads- my brother and I both read the first one I got. Conquering sword is also beginning to come apart and I've only read it once and thumbed back through it a time or two. I mean come on, redo it and let me trade this one back in. I'll even pay shipping. I mean, you can swat flies with my self-published children's book, use it as a dust-pan and fan yourself at little league baseball games with it and it STILL won't come apart. A big ol' company like Del Rey should be able to do better. I regret that I'm forced to drop it down a star, but I assure you it's Del Rey's fault and not the author's. J. Lyon Layden The Other Side of Yore
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The Clan of the Cave Bear

The Clan of the Cave Bear
by Jean M. AuelEdition: Paperback
Price: $10.17
Availability: In Stock
46 used & new from $2.75


2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Great Work And I Understand Why She Did It, However....., April 1, 2007

 One more thing- I think it's pretty ridiculous that Aule is taking flack because some people think her characters are prehistoric superheroes. Granted, I only read the first one, but the neanderthals at least seemed pretty wimpish compared to what they actually were in real life. An average neanderthal could stand on the 10 yard line of a football field and hurl an NFL linebacker through the goal posts with little effort, and they also had much larger brains than us and possessed a much higher threshold for pain. And cro-magnons were several times stronger than modern humans as well, with denser bone mass and considerably larger brains. Both races were infinitely more instinctual and able more able to survive harsh conditions without technology than we are.

Most historic fiction fans like to learn little tidbits about our ancestor's habits and technologies within the course of a read, and I understand that. However, though I enjoyed reading this book I would have read more in the series if this first weren't so pre-occupied with the crafting and survival techniques of neanderthals and cro-magnons. I'm already interested in prehistory, and I read text books and watch the Discovery Channel for those things. What I want from a piece of historic fiction is fiction and adventure. In my opinion a prehistoric fiction novel should dwell no more on minutiae of era existence than a good ol' western or medieval yarn. it should be taken for granted, and only that which is needed for the story should be included. Also, I was hoping for more discussion of the brutality and difficulty and barbarism of the age, and was looking for more of a plot than the course of Ayla's step mother's quaint emotions and Ayla's journey of coming of age and her development of a sort of revolutionary prehistoric feminism. I did like the fact that the author is allowed to discuss hominid telepathy without being kicked out of her genre and into the realm of fantasy, however, and Auel is a skilled writer at least as far as an eye for detail goes. I guess I was just looking for a different book, and having said these things I must add that I did appreciate the work because learning some of the neanderthal facts was more fun than the research by which I usually get those facts. But I have to judge the as a work of lit and not as a learning aid, because that is what it claims to be. Therefore, three stars. (That's three and a half rounded down by the way). One more thing- I think it's pretty ridiculous that Aule is taking flack because some people think her characters are prehistoric superheroes. Granted, I only read the first one, but the neanderthals at least seemed pretty wimpish compared to what they actually were in real life. An average neanderthal could stand on the 10 yard line of a football field and hurl an NFL linebacker through the goal posts with little effort, and they also had much larger brains than us and possessed a much higher threshold for pain. And cro-magnons were several times stronger than modern humans as well, with denser bone mass and considerably larger brains. Both races were infinitely more instinctual and able more able to survive harsh conditions without technology than we are. 

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People of the Wolf Special Intro Edition (First North Americans)

People of the Wolf Special Intro Edition (First North Americans)
by Kathleen O'Neal GearEdition: Mass Market Paperback
Availability: Currently unavailable
31 used & new from $0.77


Excellent Material!, April 6, 2007

The rest of the books are good but tend to repeat certain themes (battered wives deserting clans to protect babies, strange shamans, and young shamans going through rites of passage), but they are still good reads. Some of the theories in the book are a little dated (it's now a matter of debate whether the first americans came across on the berring straight or not, and the earliest fossils are of a race more related to Australians and Ainu than modern Native Americans), but it still provides many insights into the lands and peoples of our prehistoric past. J. Lyon Layden [[ASIN:1601451229 The Other Side of Yore]]" name=review> This first book was probably the best of the series and I really enjoyed it. Though some find the style difficult and the number of names hard to remember, I found it much more accessible than "Clan of the Cave Bear" because it doesn't forget the reader's need for action, intrigue, and adventure as much. The author is much less melodramatic and sentimental than the writing in "Clan," and though "People of the Wolf" does share some interesting facts about pre-historic culture it doesn't bog itself down with them like Aule is prone to do. Also, the allusions to the twin brothers of myth and use of symbolism make the work more literary. The rest of the books are good but tend to repeat certain themes (battered wives deserting clans to protect babies, strange shamans, and young shamans going through rites of passage), but they are still good reads. Some of the theories in the book are a little dated (it's now a matter of debate whether the first americans came across on the berring straight or not, and the earliest fossils are of a race more related to Australians and Ainu than modern Native Americans), but it still provides many insights into the lands and peoples of our prehistoric past. J. Lyon Layden The Other Side of Yore
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Conan

The Bloody Crown of Conan (Conan of Cimmeria, Book 2)
by Robert E. HowardEdition: Paperback
Price: $10.85
Availability: In Stock
62 used & new from $7.10


A Must Have Robert E. Howard, April 13, 2007

Howard was one of the earliest writers in the fantasy genre, and probably the inventor of its "sword and sorcery" sub-genre, and this is an important tomb for any fan of fantasy. I have all three in this series, and after having to sift through so much Robert Jordon, L. Sprague D. Camp, and other fanfiction writers and being dissatisfied with previous compilation editions that tried to edit Howard into chronological order, I am glad to now have an original Robert E. Howard compilation in the order that the stories were written. The caliber of the work contained inside these books is jaw-dropping. Not only was howard incredibly imaginative and skilled impressively in submersing the reader's attention, but he also seems to have had an uncanny knowledge of certain things about man's prehistoric past that we are only discovering now to be true in the realm of archeology and science. The only problem with this series is that Del Rey skimped big-time on the glue. J. Lyon Layden [[ASIN:1601451229 The Other Side of Yore]] " name=review> When these stories were published Conan and his world had developed fully over many stories, and the Hyborean age and its political structures had become intricate and vast. From the plotting of Yasmina in "The People of the Black Circle" to the entertwining plot and subplots of "A Witch Shall Be Born," dark intrigue and the moves and countermoves of individuals and factions are central themes. "The Hour of the Dragon" is an especially impressive work, both in imagination and sharacter developement as well as the fact that it is the only full length Conan novel written by Conan's creator. The "Utitled Draft" on Page 315 is a particularly interesting read, in which Howard gets somewhat more graphic than usual. But the character developement in this particular "unfinished" piece is exemplar, and the story is unique among the three books in this series in that it's the only one that doesn't star or at least co-star. In fact Conan is only mentioned as the protagonists campanion in the past, and the famous barbarian does not appear in an actual "scene" until the last page of the story. Howard was one of the earliest writers in the fantasy genre, and probably the inventor of its "sword and sorcery" sub-genre, and this is an important tomb for any fan of fantasy. I have all three in this series, and after having to sift through so much Robert Jordon, L. Sprague D. Camp, and other fanfiction writers and being dissatisfied with previous compilation editions that tried to edit Howard into chronological order, I am glad to now have an original Robert E. Howard compilation in the order that the stories were written. The caliber of the work contained inside these books is jaw-dropping. Not only was howard incredibly imaginative and skilled impressively in submersing the reader's attention, but he also seems to have had an uncanny knowledge of certain things about man's prehistoric past that we are only discovering now to be true in the realm of archeology and science. The only problem with this series is that Del Rey skimped big-time on the glue. J. Lyon Layden The Other Side of Yore
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Prehistoric Beasts (Top 10s)

Prehistoric Beasts (Top 10s)
by Andrew GoldsmithEdition: Library Binding
Price: $23.96
Availability: In Stock
14 used & new from $17.96


Excellent Children's Informational Picture Book!, April 14, 2007

Informative and well-designed, this book is sure to fascinate any child while importing knowledge about the strange creatures that once inhabited the world. Discussed are the giant flightless bird gastornis, the elephant/camel-like macrauchenia, the smilodon or saber-toothed cat, the wolf like whale ancestor andresarchus, , the gorilla/goat chalicothere, the amphibian whale called ambulocetus, the massive giraffe-like hippo indricothere, the great mammoth, terror bird phorusrhacos, and the extremely dangerous and all-devouring pig called entelodont. Five other beasts are summarized on two pages, and each animal included in the book has a finely illustrated color picture to go along with it. Some entries have additional pictures, or photographs from the series "Walking with Prehistoric beasts." The convenient "Extreme Scores" column on each page is great for easy reference, my only gripe is that though they did mention how long ago certain beasts lived and the length of time that each one lived for each, they did not provide extinction dates for every one of them.
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The Conquering Sword of Conan

The Conquering Sword of Conan
by Robert E. HowardEdition: Paperback
Price: $10.85
Availability: In Stock
52 used & new from $6.85


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Robert's Final Realization of Conan!, May 11, 2007

It's an excellent story that may have equal claim to several genres; horror, fantasy, sword and sorcery, and maybe even prehistoric fiction. Howard had an uncanny knowledge of those days when ice age species still survived in remote places, and had incredible insight into theorizing what it must have been like in the days when civilization vied with barbarism. What's interesting to me is that we're finding out these days that civilization is alot older than we think, but in Howard's day anything older than 3000 BC was considered prehistoric. Conan's era was around 9000 BC, with embellishments from many other eras in different places where civilization was replacing barbarism. Certainly, we now know, there would have been ancient deserted structures at this time, maybe even with remnants of antedeluvian archaic homo sapien living therein. Certainly Jericho had walls before Conan's time, and both cro-magnon and the southeast asian hominid dubbed "the hobbit" lived at least up until 10,000 BC. But how did Howard know it? How did his imagination describe so vividly and personally how life must have been in those brutal and barbaric times? Beyond The Black River- WOW! This is probably Howard's most memorable Conan tale, told from the perspective of a hardy and valiant but lesser man who's lot in life is to travel and fight with Conan for a spell. Through this frontiersman's eyes, we understand Conan as a character perhaps better than we ever have before. The illustration of the Balthas's last charge, dog at side, flashes in my mind when I think of this tale. "He was a man," said Conan "I drink to his shade, and to the shade of the dog, who knew no fear." The Black Stranger is a pirate tale and frontier yarn that is among Howard's most developed plot structures, characterization, and writing skill. The Man-Eaters of Zamboula melds fantasy and horror like only Robert E. can, a wicked tale of treachery and ancient necromancy. Red Nails is definitely one of the greatest of the Conan stories. Again Howard shows uncanny preternatural knowledge, with an ancient city very much like some of the stranger ones excavated in the middle east, and a realistic dragon more like Megalania Prisca than Saphira and her influences. In the appendix, Wolves Beyond the Border is a special rare treat. Enjoy and enjoy again the genious of Robert E! J. Lyon Layden [[ASIN:1601451229 The Other Side of Yore]] " name=review> The Servents of Bit-Yakin- In exemplary Wierd Tales Robert E. style, this one starts with Conan almost inexplicably scaling the side wall of an ancient city in a place we've never heard of. The barbarian has come to this place through information gleaned on adventures that Robert never told us about, as though the author had some Hyborean Silmarillion stashed somewhere that the recyclers have never found. It's an excellent story that may have equal claim to several genres; horror, fantasy, sword and sorcery, and maybe even prehistoric fiction. Howard had an uncanny knowledge of those days when ice age species still survived in remote places, and had incredible insight into theorizing what it must have been like in the days when civilization vied with barbarism. What's interesting to me is that we're finding out these days that civilization is alot older than we think, but in Howard's day anything older than 3000 BC was considered prehistoric. Conan's era was around 9000 BC, with embellishments from many other eras in different places where civilization was replacing barbarism. Certainly, we now know, there would have been ancient deserted structures at this time, maybe even with remnants of antedeluvian archaic homo sapien living therein. Certainly Jericho had walls before Conan's time, and both cro-magnon and the southeast asian hominid dubbed "the hobbit" lived at least up until 10,000 BC. But how did Howard know it? How did his imagination describe so vividly and personally how life must have been in those brutal and barbaric times? Beyond The Black River- WOW! This is probably Howard's most memorable Conan tale, told from the perspective of a hardy and valiant but lesser man who's lot in life is to travel and fight with Conan for a spell. Through this frontiersman's eyes, we understand Conan as a character perhaps better than we ever have before. The illustration of the Balthas's last charge, dog at side, flashes in my mind when I think of this tale. "He was a man," said Conan "I drink to his shade, and to the shade of the dog, who knew no fear." The Black Stranger is a pirate tale and frontier yarn that is among Howard's most developed plot structures, characterization, and writing skill. The Man-Eaters of Zamboula melds fantasy and horror like only Robert E. can, a wicked tale of treachery and ancient necromancy. Red Nails is definitely one of the greatest of the Conan stories. Again Howard shows uncanny preternatural knowledge, with an ancient city very much like some of the stranger ones excavated in the middle east, and a realistic dragon more like Megalania Prisca than Saphira and her influences. In the appendix, Wolves Beyond the Border is a special rare treat. Enjoy and enjoy again the genious of Robert E! J. Lyon Layden The Other Side of Yore
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Swords Against Death : Book 2 of the Adventures of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser

Swords Against Death : Book 2 of the Adventures of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser
by Fritz Leiber Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Availability: Currently unavailable
5 used & new from $6.99


Wow....Just, WOW!!, May 22, 2007

Disguised as pulp fiction, here is an intricately simple Sistine Chapel of fantasy fiction, each chapter an enjoyable stand-alone tale and yet a statement of literary symbolistic skill and an intrinsic part of the larger book and plot as a whole, all at the same time! What's more, you'll see the two reoccuring heroes Fafhrd and/or the Grey Mouser undergo character change and development in every single tale; no matter how he uses them, Leiber never fails at making these two personalities grow and flourish. The authors characterization is more amusing and perhaps even keener than that of the others in the triumvorate of fantasy of which he is a part (Tolkien, Howard, and Leiber), and is even reminescent of Brian Jaques and perhaps even Charles Dickens. Token run-on sentences are an aquired taste, but much appreciated when you get to know them, and Leiber famously switches styles like a mad maniac; the result is a rolicking journey describing its moods and settings with grammatical choices as well as poetic and sleezy descriptions. Here you will find the influence of modernism on fantasy, while finding the source of inspiration for what we have come to know as sword and sorcery. Imagine a young and reckless Conan as a sort of medieval rock star who's hanging out with a sorceror thief played by Johnny Depp in an episode of the Twilight Zone that's set in Tomothy Leary's 1960s Dungeons and Dragons campaign, and you'll be getting a glimpse as to what awaits you in the world of Nehwon. " name=review> It's a shame that in order to find non-formulaic fantasy, you mostly have to do your searching at the very beginnings of the genre. Fritz Leiber doesn't need a three book deal to tell a great story, and in fact being a master storyteller seems to have been nothing more than a trivial feat to his ever pranking genius. Disguised as pulp fiction, here is an intricately simple Sistine Chapel of fantasy fiction, each chapter an enjoyable stand-alone tale and yet a statement of literary symbolistic skill and an intrinsic part of the larger book and plot as a whole, all at the same time! What's more, you'll see the two reoccuring heroes Fafhrd and/or the Grey Mouser undergo character change and development in every single tale; no matter how he uses them, Leiber never fails at making these two personalities grow and flourish. The authors characterization is more amusing and perhaps even keener than that of the others in the triumvorate of fantasy of which he is a part (Tolkien, Howard, and Leiber), and is even reminescent of Brian Jaques and perhaps even Charles Dickens. Token run-on sentences are an aquired taste, but much appreciated when you get to know them, and Leiber famously switches styles like a mad maniac; the result is a rolicking journey describing its moods and settings with grammatical choices as well as poetic and sleezy descriptions. Here you will find the influence of modernism on fantasy, while finding the source of inspiration for what we have come to know as sword and sorcery. Imagine a young and reckless Conan as a sort of medieval rock star who's hanging out with a sorceror thief played by Johnny Depp in an episode of the Twilight Zone that's set in Tomothy Leary's 1960s Dungeons and Dragons campaign, and you'll be getting a glimpse as to what awaits you in the world of Nehwon.
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The Secret History of Ancient Egypt

The Secret History of Ancient Egypt
by Herbie BrennanEdition: Paperback
Availability: Currently unavailable
17 used & new from $3.32


Best Explanations Yet, May 28, 2007

Brennan does a wonderful job illustrating how technology can come into existence without the steps that are generally accepted as having to lead up to it with chapters on people such as Tesla and Keeley, who were hundreds of years before their time and whose knowledge seems to have almost come out of nowhere. Indeed, NASA has only touched on the technological advances made by Keeley's sonic tech a hundred years ago, and is currently accepting bids for private businesses to develop such things further. Amazing and thorough evidence has been presented in this volume for some pretty far out theories to explain what the pyramids and certain chambers within them were actually used for, and yet I daresay the author provides a much more compelling case than the radicals like Z.S. and the closed minded conservative Egyptologists and skeptics. Brennan is well-versed in the scientific method and totally lucid and logical in his thoughts, unlike many sensationalists who are theorizing on ancient Egypt's past. The author does not need to reach for aliens visiting from Niburu, at least in this offering, because man had enough time to develop a technology as advanced as ours at least five times over before the devastations of 11,600 years ago, which destroyed all of the prime real estate that man's biggest populations were inhabiting during those remote times. " name=review> Excellently written and dutifully researched, this is probably the best compilation of information on the anomalies of ancient Egypt and the best set of theories yet on how those anomalies came to be. It's also a great reference book; when dry Egyptologists and skeptics try to make light of the building of intricately and precisely built gargantuan structures in our ancient past, turn to the chapters on the hunter-gatherer state of existence of those who are generally accepted by the mainstream as having built said structures during the standard given time frame. Then turn to the pages that give you quotes and production times for the building and quarrying of similar structures by today's largest contractors. Scientists and skeptics will stutter alike, or give you an excuse much more ridiculous than the obvious conclusion that homo sapiens developed an advanced technology within the 500,000 years he had to do it in, before his history and most of the evidence of his architecture and science was destroyed some 11,600 years ago at the end of the last "Ice Age." After all, scientists want us to believe that everything that makes us modern was developed within the last 5000 years....what on Earth were we doing for all those hundreds of thousands of years before the mass extinctions and losses of entire continents around 11,600 B.C.? Our prehistoric ancestors were larger brained than us, stronger than us, and much heartier than us, and they had a lot more time than we did to develop technology. The most densely populated areas in which those people lived now lies under the sea, and we have only found the fossils of those prehistoric people who lived in the boon docks of the world, hundreds of years behind the level of civilization of their brothers who would have lived on the prime real estate of the coast. Conservative scientists tend to overlook the evidence that actually did survive the catastrophes of 11,600 years ago, but luckily Brennan has assembled a great bulk of the most well documented and factual portions of this evidence in just a few short books. I gave up on the highlighter just 20 pages in, because almost every sentence is profound. Brennan does a wonderful job illustrating how technology can come into existence without the steps that are generally accepted as having to lead up to it with chapters on people such as Tesla and Keeley, who were hundreds of years before their time and whose knowledge seems to have almost come out of nowhere. Indeed, NASA has only touched on the technological advances made by Keeley's sonic tech a hundred years ago, and is currently accepting bids for private businesses to develop such things further. Amazing and thorough evidence has been presented in this volume for some pretty far out theories to explain what the pyramids and certain chambers within them were actually used for, and yet I daresay the author provides a much more compelling case than the radicals like Z.S. and the closed minded conservative Egyptologists and skeptics. Brennan is well-versed in the scientific method and totally lucid and logical in his thoughts, unlike many sensationalists who are theorizing on ancient Egypt's past. The author does not need to reach for aliens visiting from Niburu, at least in this offering, because man had enough time to develop a technology as advanced as ours at least five times over before the devastations of 11,600 years ago, which destroyed all of the prime real estate that man's biggest populations were inhabiting during those remote times.
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Herbie Brennan on YouTube

Here are some interesting podcasts from Herbie Brennan, a bestselling author who has done much to gather facts about the civilizations which thrived on Earth before the cataclysms of 11,600 years ago. Some of these YouTube stories are pretty mind-blowing and hard to palate, but thought provoking nonetheless and may provide some insight into this area of study:

http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=herbieB
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Monday, May 7, 2007

What This Blog Is All About

I've got a few new short stories in production and would like to tell you about them. I will be keeping you up to date over the next few months as to where and when they'll be available.Though these stories are works of fiction, and will most likely be designated to the genre of "fantasy," all of the creatures, hominids, technologies, and landmasses portrayed therein once actually existed during the same time-period in our planets not-so-distant past. This time period roughly spans the last 15,000 years of what is known as the Ice Age, but is actually the last period of radical glacial movement on Earth.
Though the world I will describe within these stories will seem quite fantastic to most readers, I have endeavored to remain quite conservative and have stayed within the boundaries of main-stream science in relating possible events during this period of mankind's history. However, there is actually a great deal of evidence to support various theories that this time period was even more "fantastic" and "technologically advanced" than what I describe therein. This evidence comes to us in the form of "ooparts," "anomalies," and ancient historical and religious writings of the prehistoric world. In order to avoid ignoring such evidence while maintaining historical credence, I have designated such things to the realms of mythology, rumor, and oral tradition as it is known to the character in the stories. For instance, the reader may find within the dialogue of certain character innuendos to such controversial subjects as Indian "vamanas," advanced sonic technology, angels, aliens, metallurgy, alchemy, and even magic. However, whether these character are talking about actual historic events or simply relating primitive superstition and myth is left entirely up to the reader. My hope is that, while remaining within the boundaries of mainstream science, I have adequately conveyed to the reader the fact that our world was once as "fantastic" and "magical" as Tolkein's Middle-Earth, Robert E. Howard's "Hyborea," or Terry Brooks' "Shannarra."
In this blog I will share with you some of the interesting research I have done in order to bring this series of stories into fruition, and provide you with links where you may find further information and entertainment in the subject areas of fantasy and prehistory.Ah hell, I'll probably even post one whole story on here for you to test drive the genre...one of these days.
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