Pre-echoes

Roman copy of a Greek statue of Pallas Athena (image: public domain)
Roman copy of a Greek statue of Pallas Athena (image: public domain)

Alison Croggan The Bone Queen
The First Book of Pellinor
Walker Books Ltd 2016

After a gap of eight years Alison Croggan has fulfilled her promise to her fans that she would further enrich the narratives of her epic fantasy series known as Pellinor. Her world of Edil-Amarandh — in which Pellinor is merely one city — is set in a dim and distant past where not only magic is a reality but also perilous realms exist beyond the everyday world of humans, realms where entities like the Bone Queen can survive. If we want to imagine Edil-Amarandh we can do worse than picture it as a pre-echo of Atlantis, a continent positioned somewhere between the Old World and the New with mountainous spines somewhat reminiscent of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. All of the action of The Bone Queen takes place in the north, in the lee of the Osidh Elador mountains, between Lirigon and Pellinor.

So much for context: we read fiction primarily for stories concerning characters, not worldbuilding, and it is to people we now turn.

Continue reading “Pre-echoes”

Things in our philosophies

durer
Dürer study of hands with codex

Ronald H Fritze Invented Knowledge:
False History, Fake Science and Pseudo-religions

Reaktion Books 2011

Are there more things in
our philosophies than in
heaven, Horatio…?

I read a first-hand account by a reputable historian who was appalled by a comment he heard after watching the film of The Da Vinci Code: “It makes you think, doesn’t it?” He wanted to scream, that such banale make-believe based on allegations of ‘hidden’ history concocted by conspiracy theorists should be given any credence or even entertained. The many case-histories presented in Invented Knowledge may well induce similar paroxysms in rationalists, and could well warrant a health warning on the cover.

This is a study of examples of pseudohistory or ‘false’ history that have emerged or re-emerged in recent years, told particularly from a North American viewpoint (the author is Professor of History at Athens State University in Alabama, and currently Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences). In seven chapters (plus an introduction) it covers Continue reading “Things in our philosophies”

From Atlantis to Troy

Athanasius Kircher's 1669 map of Atlantis (Wikipedia Commons)
Athanasius Kircher’s 1669 map of Atlantis (Wikipedia Commons) — north is to the bottom

Eberhard Zangger The Flood From Heaven:
Deciphering the Atlantis legend

Pan Books 1993 (1992)

Two nightmares haunt the field archaeologist. The first is the finds tray without a label. The second is the label minus its artefact. The former is the source, one suspects, of many an ‘unstratified’ reference in dig reports. The latter represents what one might call the empty treasure chest syndrome. Great therefore is the joy when, like the return of the prodigal son, the two are brought together again!

That is, unless the wrong suspect has been identified. For some time now a particular finds label has been kicking around the store. Many attempts have been made to match it up correctly, but since the original author of the report is long gone all such efforts have been speculative, many controversial and some, indeed, spectacularly misattributed. As with Utopia and Camelot this other famous site has been firmly located many times, and a book from a score of years ago claimed to have found a detour round the usual impasse and so solved the puzzle. This particular finds label reads “Atlantis”, the mythical landmass that perished beneath the waves, according to Plato, and which various historians and pseudohistorians have located in the Mediterranean, off Scandinavia, in Britain and the Americas, for example, as well as in the ocean named after it. Continue reading “From Atlantis to Troy”