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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

An Experiment with Magic

Here is a video from Best Selling author Herbie Brennan on the "3rd kind of magic" of which I spoke in my last post. This type of magic will only be alluded to in the stories, and it will be left entirely up to the reader whether real magic or the belief in superstition is being portrayed. However, there is much evidence of the things of which Herbie speaks, and it is by no means limited to only eye-witness accounts. More on that later.


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Of Magic and Science


"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
-Arthur C. Clarke

The above quote is the third and last of Clarke's Laws of Prediction, and as sure as you are reading this page you've read it somewhere before. Clarke was a science fiction author, and therefore used this law primarily for things that could speculatively happen in the future. But I'm a fantasy writer whose fascinated with ancient history, especially prehistory and alternative history, and I'm also insatiably fascinated by religion and myth, including hypnotism, NLP, Huna, Yoga,Tai Chi, Qui-Gung, Ayur Veda, as well as many other ancient disciplines and beliefs. Therefore ever since I've known of "Law Number 3," I associated it with the far distant past.
In fact I don't know too much about how Clarke used the "Law," because I haven't read him. His work makes great movies, but it takes me a long time to get around to the science fiction I have on my list. Somehow I just just feel cozier and more literary with a book that feels as though it took place in the past, and is now being told of. The neurosis doesn't extend only to science fiction: a book set in modern times has to be downright extraordinary if I'm going to like it much, and most of the time I don't even care for fantasy wherein a modern person goes through a worm-hole to an ancient type of world. On the flip side, I can't get enough of the science fiction movies that are adequately well made, my favorite TV show is set in modern times, and Narnia, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Harry Potter, and the Faerie Wars are examples of exceptions in my tastes to the "don't go through any wormholes" rule.
But to get back on track here, I have already theorized in other posts how the modern names for ancient monsters like dragons and giants and goblins have somehow demystified those beasts and hominids, and I think the same can be said for magic.
Most of what I know of what I will call magic in my prehistoric fiction stories comes from my study of NLP as a journalist. NLP, or neuro Linguistic Programming, is an offshoot of hypnosis that was discovered, rather than invented, by Richard Bandler and John Grinder. It can be used as a self improvement tool or healing tool, as well as a form of therapy, a form of marketing, or a form of persuasion. But as NLP has grown, its top teachers have branched out into other forms of what one might call self-empowerment through a common practice of modelling. Modelling emulates beliefs, rituals, and techniques, whether conscious or subconscious, that work for sucessful people who may or may not know anything about The Law of Attraction, NLP, or any kind of spirituality.
My mother studied Ayur Veda under Deepak Chopra and I was able to get free tickets to several seminars by Chopra and colleagues and also learned some interest facts about Ayur Veda, the national health system of India. What is so surprising to me that these ancient techniques work better than modern science, in many cases, and that only 20 years ago the same types of powerful visualizations and meditations were scoffed at as superstition and hocus pocus. Now they are being used in the most advanced hospitals in our country, and science is proving over and over again that the techniques work. There is such thing as mana, or chi, or ki, and it can even been photographed using Kirlian technology. There is definite proof that faith and mindfulness can overcome material boundaries. There are NLP trainers among us who can use "Jedi Mind Tricks" and convince people to allow them amazing control and leeway. There are gurus who can hold their body parts in fire for a time without being burned or experiencing pain. There are lava walkers and indian yogis who can do seemingly impossible things through no "David Copperfield" tricks whatsoever.
Thse disciplines and techniques I speak of can be considered technology or magic, depending on your perspective, or, in the case of a book, depending on how the author describes them to you.
In addition to technological magic, which is what I would call the practices I have so far mentioned, there is also magic that is probably closer to what Clarke meant when he made up the "Law."
We still don't know how they built those pyramids and megalithic structures. We still don't know how they quaried them, and every year we find things associated with them that boggle the mind even more. We still don't know how ancient man got his uncanny knowledge about certain things in our world.
In these speculative stories I'm writing at the moment, there will be no impossible or unexplainable magic. Everything spell that a magic wielder uses will have it's counterpart in real tangible practices from around the world, from many different disciplines and religions. What's more, the way I present them will be an educated guess at what was available to mankind before 10,000 BC. The primary magic system I plan to use will be something like what might have spawned Yoga, Huna, the Kabbalah, and Martial Arts, as well as other more occult practices. I will also use technology that man MUST have had during the given time period, based on archeological evidence. And I will also allude to another form of "magic" which I believe exists, and for which there's alot of proof, but which also is a topic of hot debate. In the case of this third type of magic, it will be left entirely up to the reader whether this type of magic is truely at play, or whether it is just the imaginations of various superstitious characters through which the story is told. But more on that type of magic later; it's gonna take a whole post.
-J.L.L.
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Monday, June 18, 2007

Frogs and Trogs

I write two blogs one on FROGS
one on TROGS
if either of them suits to your fancy,
But during the day, I'm AWAY
for some PAY
designing kitchens for Tom, Dick, and Nancy.
But I wrote me a book, take a Look
and get HOOKED
and one day I'll be a full time author,
And maybe one day once again I'll get to PlAY
cuz I'll have enough free time to DO SO


LOL just messin around as jobs go, I got a good one....and that aint really the company I work for we just don't have no stinkin' website!
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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Lowcountry Frog Faces Extinction!(Press Release for The Other Side of Yore)

This is the press release for the celebrated children's chapter book, The Other Side of Yore.The book has been getting rave reviews, and has been featured on various sites and blogs for donating a percentage of author/artist royalties to AmphibianArk.org to help save amphibians from extinction.



read more | digg story
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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Caveman Comics Animated!

This is a better than average cartoon skit by an artist who has been doing Caveman Comics from the same series for over 15 years. I know you'll enjoy THIS!!


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Caveman Porn

Maybe those Venus Statues weren't Godessess after all?


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Caveman Bowling

Here's a modern toon about cavemen- very funny!


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Prehistoric Film



Here's a neat little animated cave man film I thought you prehistorians might like- innacurate but funny as all gittout of course. Just click the thumbnail of the cartoon at the bottom left of the following site:

Elmer Fudd in the Ice Age?



Tomorrow I plan to give you a brief overview about how I'll deal with magic in the upcoming series, with some interesting links I'm sure you will enjoy!
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Thursday, June 7, 2007

Shiva by Herbie Brennan









Shiva by Herbie Brennan




In this one book for young adults, Herbie Brennan melds the genres of fantasy and prehistoric fiction with a skillful pen. Unlike other works in the prehistoric fiction genre, this book does not forget that character developement, imagination, and an original plot line are even more important than the relation of theories on prehistoric culture. Though Brennan takes great care to make the society of the Cro-Magnon's realistic and believable to even those who are familiar with current archeological and anthropological knowledge, he does not dwell needlessly on the exact minutaie of every little action that his characters take (like Aule and others do), and hence his work is much more enjoyable.



It is true that his portrayal of the ogre-neanderthals is somewhat dated (they are stooped, hairy, and at least as tall as the Cro-Magnons), but his characterization of them is profound. Unlike many other writers in the genre, he recognizes the fact that neanderthals were several times as strong and powerful as Cro-Magnons, and had an equal though alien intelligence.




His descriptions of the wild and barbaric Ogre Chief Thag are some of the most exciting reading I have enjoyed in years. Thag is probably a bit dumber than any neanderthal chief that ever lived, seeing as how they had bigger brains than any living human. But still the characterization of him is highly articulate and well thought out. The interaction between this leader and his mate makes for fascinating reading, and Brennan does a great job of empowering his female characters in a believable way without turning them into scantily clad superhuman warrior women.
The growth that Shiva goes through is also quite well crafted, and during the course of the 180 or so pages you actually feel like you've gotten to know her, as well as her friend Hiram and the ogre boy Doban (though he almost never talks, the boy comes strikingly to life through Brennan's vivid descriptions).



At the end of the book there is an Epilogue in which Brennan conveys that his descriptions of Neanderthals are somewhat out of date, and suggests that his ogres are more like "Ginganthropithecus" than neanderthals. He states that ogre legends come from encounters with real creatures, but that he now believes that they weren't neanderthals but probably an earlier form of hominid or man-ape. I disagree; though neanderthals weren't as primitive as they were being portrayed by science at the time of the writing of this book, they were still very much like the descriptions of ogres, trolls, and Norse dwarves in ancient legends. Their faces and heads were totally alien to us and most likely very ugly to us, they were shorter than us, and they were much stronger. They were also more primitive than cro-magnon, though they did indeed have a superior technology to the ogres in this book. I think it's highly probable that this race was indeed the impetus for troll and ogre legends, and I've thought so for a long time. It's a shame that I had to search so long for a book that allowed me to know that someone else in the world is thinking along these same lines.




There are speculative aspects of the novel which almost threw me off at first, for instance the role of women in the tribes of cro-magnon (though women were definitely reverred in cro-magnon society and maybe even the leaders, it's hard to believe that they were ever war chiefs, given that sexual dimorphism was even more profound then than it is now)or the idea that cro-magnon couldn't visualize well but neanderthal could (interesting but hard to justify), Brennan gets props for experimenting with the genre while relating plausible theories without becoming to scholastic in the telling.




In fact, Brennan's refusal to write in an academic, politically correct way helps to make this the best prehistoric fiction book that I have ever read, despite its flaws (and I've read alot of prehistoric fiction books; ALL of the bestselling ones I might add).




He doesn't settle for a generic, safe, and unimaginative term like "The Others" when describing the races, and he gives real names to his culture's gods (instead of Bear or Wolf or something simple and patronizing like that).



I do wonder why prehistoric authors insist on such clarification as calling a knife a "flint" knife (a fantasy or western writer isn't predisposed to put the adjective "steel" or "bronze" before the word "knife" each and every time he spells it), but this is a matter of personal preference and I've noticed that ALL prehistoric writers tend to do it. My dislike of the practice has more to do with the way I myself would like to present prehistoric fiction than with the merits of the authors. I also dislike using the word "chief" when talking of primitive leaders. The Hobbit's goblins were every bit as primitive as Brennan's "ogres," or Aule's Neanderthals, and yet Tolkien gets away with having a Goblin King instead of a Goblin Chief. If goblins can have Kings, why can't native americans........ and even neanderthals? I mention this to remind readers that the perseption is often influenced by the way the object is presented. Before Columbus found the Native Americans, the word "chief" did not possess the primitive connotation that almost everyone now associates with it.




All in all Brennan has written the most exciting and intriguing prehistoric fiction book to date, and I can't wait to read the others in the series. It is an absolute shame that these books are out of print.



An especially superior example of Brennan's writing talent is the chapter entitled "The Crone." Here Brennan proves himself as a master of suspense and artful writing, and I will be reading it over many times to glean the secrets of the craft.
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