Vikings & Space Vikings

Lusty, TV-adapted tales of Ragnar Lothbrok the Viking raiding and loving across Medieval England and France have not only given me hope for the History Channel (Please, let them move forever away from lame reality shows with truckers, loggers, or fisherman to actual history and historical reenactments), but gotten me rereading some Viking histories and thinking about a Viking period I went through in my early years.

I love history and wanted early on to be an archaeologist (and paleontologist). The Vikings are naturally cool to study and their riveting adventures dovetail well with discovering adventures, fantasy, and sword and sorcery. Nothing brings a Viking like thrill to life quite like Robert E. Howard. So naturally, much like a Western phase as Roy Rogers or the Lone Ranger and a SF phase as Captain Kirk, I went through a Vikings phase (alongside my Tarzan, Conan, and John Carter).

But then my brother stumbled over a SF author named H. Beam Piper (of Little Fuzzy fame) and our worlds merged fantastically. He wrote a book titled Space Viking. This is the cover of the edition we had.

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At that time, I had not read any of his other works and knew nothing of his “Terro-Human universe” tales then. I only read this book on my brother’s recommendation. We loved Space Viking. It was so awesome, so savage, so cool, that it inspired us to endless hours of play and the writing of our own “space viking” sagas.

My “space viking” stories featured Captain Sark and his ship the Hornet, with a massive ram-drill on the front for shredding the hulls of enemy spaceships. My brother wrote fierce Tales of the Merciless Bitch, which were rougher, more adult and serious space opera than mine. But hey, he was older, what do you expect.

The point is, watching Vikings on TV now I am reminded of the tales. So I am rereading some ancient lays and Norse tales, looking at my old works, and on the hunt for H. Beam Piper’s Space Viking, as well. Though it appears to be currently out of print, I am sure I can find an old copy somewhere. I can’t wait to finish reconnecting with my childhood and dreaming new tales of savage conquest amongst the stars.

For added background material on Piper’s Space Viking, read Joseph T. Major’s commentary, “The Wheel of Fortune.”

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The Lost City of Drones

I’m growing very excited about the new technologies being used in archaeology. From submersibles to satellites, we are utilizing hitech equipment to peel back rainforests and deserts, and even the oceans to scan beneath the sands.

It is an amazing time to be an archaeologist, though I also fear that the technology has outstripped our means. We are finding tens of thousands of new sites daily, but as in a case in South America I read the field work on recently, the archaeologists often discover that by the time they can get funding and a team to a site (sometimes months or years after discovery) it has been looted. This is my greatest fear. As we saw in Iraq during the Gulf War, some of our black agencies are also involved in the international illicit trades, such as drugs, sex, art, and artifacts. With a perfect satellite geoposition in hand, it would be easy for wealthy looting operations to be undertaken.

Nevertheless, this is a groundbreaking and potentially Golden Aged time for archeology. We will not have to rely solely on intrepid or blindly lucky explorers to accidentally stumble upon a Machu Picchu or die in the Amazon hunting the Lost City of Z. These finds will expand our knowledge of existing civilizations, plus unveil wholly new ones, and rewrite the history books, as it is doing in the Amazon currently, revealing extensive civilizations where none were supposed to exist in a pristine jungle. I am thrilled to be living during this time.

An example of these technologies in the field is this article about current archaeological work in Brazil, “Drones to Scan for Ancient Amazonia.”

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The Murty Classical Library of India

The Harvard University Press has done it again. I am a huge fan of the Loeb CLassical Library which compiles and translates Greek and Roman classics in one place. Now they have begun publication of the Murty Classical Library of India.

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This 500-volume library will attempt the impossible: compiling a dual-language library of classical Indian works for the modern reader, from all of its various, multifaceted subcultures and civilizations and time periods. These include fiction, poetry, and nonfiction (including Buddhist, Hindu, and Islamic texts) translated from the Sanskrit, Persian, Urdu, Tamil, Panjabi, Hindi, Telugu, Kannada, Marathi, Bangla, Gujarati, Pali, and Sindhi lanaguages. To say this is a massive undertaking is the understatement of the year. Poor old Sheldon Pollock.

Nevertheless, a damn impressive feat, Harvard UP! Now if only they would send me some complimentary review editions….

Read more from the NYT on the “Literature of India, Enshrined in a Series.”

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Castle Eko Atlantic

Been talking about this for decades, as the superrich build neocastles around the world, citystates walled off from reality and the stinking masses (even from theri esoteric demands such as freedom), complete with designer islands like in Dubai.

Here we see these neomedieval models moving onto a new continent ripe for further exploitation:

New, privatized African city heralds climate apartheid

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This is a very disturbing, yet very predictable trend.

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Orange Death Star

Who knew the Death Star would be orange?

Orange Dwarf Star Set to Smash into The Solar System

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Darke Day

In a twist on the schedule for the Knights comic books out of Queen City, we have decided in the last month to backtrack a bit before issue #262 and put out a miniseries on Darke Day and the war in hell. This will explain things and form a solid foundation for new readers so they can easily pick up the current events thread and follow along as we barrel into creating the New Knights series in the New Year.

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Monkey Head Nebula

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