70,000 New Alien Worlds

Now that’s what I am talking about:

ESA Spacecraft Could Find 70,000 New Alien Worlds

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Guess who is coming to Queen City?


Writing a new Gryphon story for QC Comic Books. Oh, yeah.

Been looking at all kinds of ancient carvings and modern drawings of griffins. Having way too much fun.


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The London Beer Flood of 1814

I need to write a book about this. What a bizarre event.

The London Beer Flood of 1814

by Ben Johnson

On Monday 17th October 1814, a terrible disaster claimed the lives of at least 8 people in St Giles, London. A bizarre industrial accident resulted in the release of a beer tsunami onto the streets around Tottenham Court Road.

The Horse Shoe Brewery stood at the corner of Great Russell Street and Tottenham Court Road. In 1810 the brewery, Meux and Company, had had a 22 foot high wooden fermentation tank installed on the premises. Held together with massive iron rings, this huge vat held the equivalent of over 3,500 barrels of brown porter ale, a beer not unlike stout.

On the afternoon of October 17th 1814 one of the iron rings around the tank snapped. About an hour later the whole tank ruptured, releasing the hot fermenting ale with such force that the back wall of the brewery collapsed. The force also blasted open several more vats, adding their contents to the flood which now burst forth onto the street. More than 320,000 gallons of beer were released into the area. This was St Giles Rookery, a densely populated London slum of cheap housing and tenements inhabited by the poor, the destitute, prostitutes and criminals.

The flood reached George Street and New Street within minutes, swamping them with a tide of alcohol. The 15 foot high wave of beer and debris inundated the basements of two houses, causing them to collapse. In one of the houses, Mary Banfield and her daughter Hannah were taking tea when the flood hit; both were killed.

In the basement of the other house, an Irish wake was being held for a 2 year old boy who had died the previous day. The four mourners were all killed. The wave also took out the wall of the Tavistock Arms pub, trapping the teenage barmaid Eleanor Cooper in the rubble. In all, eight people were killed. Three brewery workers were rescued from the waist-high flood and another was pulled alive from the rubble.


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New Halloween Anthology

I am having a great time writing tales for a new Halloween anthology. I can’t reveal what, yet, but oh my! Such a blast.

I was going to write just one, but am already on my fifth story. Having too much fun.

Just wait… news soon.

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G-8 Is Simply Gr8!

This is a fantastic summary of the G-8 and His Battle Aces pulp series. I was researching him, because of my own World War I fighting ace Captain Redeagle, and stumbled across this great blog.

Well worth a read.

Also of note are the numerous other pulp hero aces.

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Avengers Attack (Each Other)

I am rereading the entire original Avengers run. Noticed something I missed in childhood:

In the first several issues, the Avengers mostly fight themselves. For the record, the founding Avengers are Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Ant-Man, and the Wasp, though she does not get cover billing. She is, however, the one who technically names the team. (I am still irked that the Avengers movie not only follows the Ultimates version, but also ignores both it’s own and the original founding members.)

In the initial books, the Avengers are mainly fighting the Hulk. This goes on for a while, never his fault. No wonder he is angry.

In the first issue, this Hulking misunderstanding is caused by Loki, hence the classic cover (and revised origin for the movie version).


An aside: the first issue has the Hulk incognito as a circus clown, something I hope to never see again.

In the second issue, the interdimensional Space Phantom supplants the Avengers one-by-one and causes them to fight amongst themselves, but, again, mainly against the Hulk. This so angers Hulk that he quits the team.

In the third issue, the Hulk teams with the Sub-mariner in mutual hatred of the Avengers. They attack and almost succeed in destroying the Avengers.

Sub-Mariner is barely driven off (he is extremely powerful), and in anger at his defeat he goes on a polar rampage. This leads to the perhaps most momentous issue of all Avengerdom, number 4. Sub-Mariner has unwittingly broken up a glacier which hid the frozen body of Captain America, who then thaws and returns to join the team.

In all the early books, there is only one actual major Earthly supervillain: Baron Zemo. Baron Zemo is a relic from Cap’s WWII years and has apparently been hiding in the Amazon ever since the Nazi’s defeat. Zemo returns to global villainy because of the return of Captain America.

I refuse to label evil the angry, antihero associates, the Hulk and Sub-Mariner, or the misunderstood Lava Men of issue 5. The other villains of the books are meddling gods, aliens, or time travelers.

So, Baron Zemo returns in issue 6. He creates an enduring supercriminal team to fight the Avengers, the Masters of Evil. This makes Baron Zemo the preeminent supervillain of the Avengers, which is odd because except for being a glue-headed ex-scientist criminal mastermind, he is perhaps the weakest villain. His threat continues in issue 7, though, due to the aid of the Enchantress and Executioner of Asgard.

Issue 7 also begins with another powerful moment which shows the problematic nature of the team. Iron Man is suspended for refusing to answer the Avengers alarm is suspended from the team. These types of member dramas (echoing the Hulk’s tumultuous, short-lived, founding run) will recur throughout the entire series. Again, these have nothing usually to do with supervillains, just personal issues or in-fighting in some cases.

Not until issue 8 do we have an exceptionally powerful threat from Kang the Conqueror. He is so powerful he quickly brings the world to its knees, including the Avengers, and is not so much defeated as tricked. His threat is shunted, as it were, into the future.

In 9, Baron Zemo returns with Wonder Man, then follows with a pact with Immortus in issue 10.

So in the first ten, four of the books are Baron Zemo’s, one Kang, one the Lava Men, and the rest are in-fighting, albeit often caused by outside sources. On top of this, by issue 16 the founders all take a leave of absence because, as Wasp says, they, “…are tired of all this fighting….” This leaves Captain America alone and responsible for forming an entire new lineup.

The team history truly sets the stage for the later Civil War.

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Tomb of Roxana

Here is an exciting archaeological discovery. Several years ago I outlined a book on Roxana I wanted to write, but put aside. This spurs me to pick that project back up and finish it.

Greek tomb at Amphipolis is ‘important discovery’

Experts believe the tomb belonged to an important figure dating back to the last quarter of the Fourth Century BC.

A large mound complex has been unearthed at the Kasta hill site in the past two years.

Lead archaeologist Katerina Peristeri said it certainly dated from after the death of Alexander the Great.

“The land of Macedonia continues to move and surprise us, revealing from deep within its unique treasures,” Mr Samaras said while visiting the mound complex on Tuesday.

Other ancient sites have been found in the Macedonia region of northern Greece, principally the Vergina tomb of Alexander’s father, Philip II, which was unearthed in 1977.

There has been widespread speculation that a prominent figure in ancient Macedonia may have been buried at Kasta hill, 600km (370 miles) north of Athens.

The burial mound is 497m (1,600ft) long and constructed with marble imported from the nearby island of Thassos and there are suggestions it was built by the renowned architect, Dinocrates, who was a friend of Alexander’s.

Ms Peristeri has in the past spoken of key historic events in the area involving some of Alexander’s generals.

Alexander’s widow Roxana and their son Alexander were murdered in 311BC by Cassander, who came to the fore after Alexander the Great’s death in Babylon in 323BC.

A lion statue found at the site has been erected close to where it was discovered at Amphipolis, which was originally an Athenian colony but later conquered by Philip II.

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