for your delight at reading…

Chuck Francisco of Pop Kernal called Book I of The Eterna Files, by my very dear friend and business partner – Leanna Renee Hieber, “the Empire Strikes Back of Victorian paranormal gothic”.  I have described her work in reviews and on panels at conventions as being located four blocks west of the intersection of Poe and Stoker. Her work and many conversations with her have helped me make my own writing and thinking a bit more accessible; I have a tendency to range cerebral.

Ms. Hieber is a diligent and skilled crafter of characters you’ll want to include among the circle of your fictional friends. It is they who guide you as they make their way along the boundaries between this world and a stranger one. The ripples on the veil are not caused by a night breeze but the tendrils of death and dark fates.

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Book II, titled Eterna and Omega launched today. The privilege of discussing and reading parts of it before the release was mine but it is now something you can share. I gladly and strongly recommend buying a copy. You may not be as certain about strange sounds around midnight after this worthy tale.

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The Return of Strangely Beautiful!

Good People,

Permit me to (re)introduce you to a very important book. If an earlier addition of Strangely Beautiful is on your shelf, you’re in for the special treat of new content. If you’ve not had the pleasure of reading this tale, you are invited to make a purchase of it today. Once it arrives, I’m certain you will enjoy the time spent with Leanna Renee Hieber’s finely crafted and much beloved characters.

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The unique and original creation – Percy Parker – features in this work by a true pioneer in Gothic & Gaslamp fantasy. Miss Parker is, in a sense, an outcast from birth but who among us hasn’t felt the same way some point in our lives? She and Alexi Rychman take center stage, surrounded by mystery and almost Poe-like goings-on.

If you’re a fan of such film and television series as Crimson Peak, Ripper Street, and Penny Dreadful than Strangely Beautiful must adorn your attention and library.

You can read more here.


This post is, of course, utterly share-able.

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Horatio…

ghostAre there ghosts? According to one statistic, 45% of Americans believe there are. If they are correct, what are ghosts?

Throughout history, the common belief is that ghosts are the trapped souls of the deceased. Most often the trap represents something unfinished. What if that’s not exactly the case?

I’ve recently heard a theory that equates ghosts with a fading body of memory. A friend has made a distinction between ghosts and haunts, the latter being more echo than spirit.

Ghosts appear in either evil or good roles. What if they, like the living, can alternate between these two (or any two other) states. In nature, fluids flow around objects – sometimes to the left, sometimes to the right.

CapeVerde.A2005005.1225.250mFlowing fluid sometimes creates what’s known as a Kármán vortex street†. In addition to some oddly organized cloud patterns when winds are disrupted by a particularly tall structure or mountain, the same aspect of fluid dynamics can cause singing cables (vortex-induced vibration).

Vortex-street-animationWhat if something comparable is part of the cause of what we call ghosts? Or, to be more precise, around and “downstream” from each ghost. The key question might then be – “What is the fluid?” The most common answer, I could predict, would be æther. A century± ago the answer might have been ectoplasm. Ghosts are traditionally associated with a specific location but appearances do not occur on a reliable schedule. This could mean that the ætheric flow rate is not a constant.

This is, of course, not to say that there hasn’t been some attempt at science vis-á-vis ghost phenomena. Beginning in the Victorian era, and lasting well through both World Wars, many celebrated minds and names were engaged in the study — perhaps most famously the Doyle camp vs that of Houdini — but that is another story.

doylehoudiniSome who report sensing ghosts claim to see them. Others hear them. These variances could suggest either different fluids or they might depend on the relative “shape” of the ghost involved. There are a fair few TV shows about detecting ghosts with indistinct recordings (both audio and video) offered as evidence. These shows are ultimately unsatisfying from the perspective of what hauntings may truly be, how they’ve been caused, and what to do about them. Perhaps ghost hunters and –busters is the wrong calling.

I’m fairly certain the term “ghosts” does apply to something real and observable – given the proper circumstance. I’m not as certain about why they exist or what causes them to do so. Is there something we should do? Is there an opportunity to learn something useful? The terms in use for millennia could be profoundly wrong. If there were real science being applied to this field of study, we might find reason to compare current belief and theory to the differences between astrology and astronomy, alchemy and chemistry.

Recall the Indian parable of the blind men and an elephant…


† named for Theodore von Kármán, engineer.

Note: The animation above is part of the wiki entry for Kármán vortex street and was designed by Cesareo de La Rosa Siqueira. The aerial photograph is from NASA. Use here implies neither ownership nor credit.
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But Thinking Makes It So…

As part of his forward for the 16ᵗʰ topic treated by The Visual Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (Harmony/Crown Books, US; Pan Books, UK – 1977) Larry Niven stated that telepathy, psionics, and the like could result in poor writing and suggested that it is the limitations an author sets on such fantastic powers that makes them interesting. His caution was one of avoiding wish fulfillment.

There are similar arguments made about souls and any sort of after life. Devising a series of tests for the existence souls and what fates may await them could be more difficult than scientific analysis of psychic prowess. Nikola Tesla performed an experiment to do just that. Would Mr. Niven make a similar argument about wish fulfillment here too?

The wish made manifest is one of the components of achievement. Isn’t what we do and make how we craft our sense of meaning and value? What tests may show often matter less than the results of having some belief in something eternal, particularly in conjunction with those crucial senses.

I look upon death to be as necessary to the constitution as sleep. We shall rise refreshed in the morning. Finding myself to exist in the world, I believe I shall, in some shape or other always exist.”
Benjamin Franklin

In an interview in the San Francisco Examiner (26 August 1928), Henry Ford said the following:
I adopted the theory of Reincarnation when I was twenty six. Religion offered nothing to the point. Even work could not give me complete satisfaction. Work is futile if we cannot utilize the experience we collect in one life in the next. When I discovered Reincarnation it was as if I had found a universal plan I realized that there was a chance to work out my ideas. Time was no longer limited. I was no longer a slave to the hands of the clock. Genius is experience. Some seem to think that it is a gift or talent, but it is the fruit of long experience in many lives. Some are older souls than others, and so they know more. The discovery of Reincarnation put my mind at ease. If you preserve a record of this conversation, write it so that it puts men’s minds at ease. I would like to communicate to others the calmness that the long view of life gives to us.”

KarmikPrinciple2Franklin and Ford were both (arguably) great. Both the lightning rod and automobile are still in use. These views very likely helped both inventors in being able to accomplish their work. It seems to have reassured them and helped them recharge.

It might matter less who we have been in past lives than who we may be in future iterations. Imagine a reliable method of access to what we’ve learned so we can always hit the ground running. I could put it on my perpetual calendar that I had an appointment with Dr. was-Franklin and Mr. was-Ford on 17 June 2373 in a little pub called The Silver Lining, deep in the Oort cloud . Imagine We Can Remember It for You Wholesale to the Nᵗʰ degree.

“I’ll get back to this.” Scheduled.

There is no Reincarnation Axiom. Tesla’s experiment did not substantiate transubstantiation. It doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened; there was no proof either way.

Be diligent in what you wish for. Anything can happen.

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A Special Day —

On this day in history – in the year 1840 and in the 4th year of her reign – Queen Victoria married Prince Albert.

The Eterna Files

Between two conventions that are many miles apart, and on the night before the official release of her first hardcover novel with Tor Books, Leanna Renee Hieber still managed to Tweet about this blog. I’ve read The Eterna Files and, with the Nerdy Duo, was able to produce the official book trailer for the book. I’ve even done some fan art, though I did get a detail wrong. The badge should say, “Special Branch” and not “Metropolitan Police”.

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All of these experiences are special to me and I recommend the first one to you today.

Ms. Hieber has crafted a suspenseful tale about magic and mysticism that does not cross the line into the horror genre. There are too many stories in the world that don’t navigate away from that dividing line. The author expertly avoids losing control of the story she needs to tell.

While I cannot say that Ms. Hieber is the reincarnation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, because I do not believe that’s the case, I am fairsure that whomever she was during the Victorian era – she would have been attending the same symposia on Spiritualism as that kindred author.

Buying the book – and today – is strongly encouraged. Ms. Hieber’s professionalism and true love of her craft is a significant part of why I feel encouraged to the same in my own work. Liking her Author page is also adjured because developments there are announced with the deliberation of Sir Doyle’s most famous creation. Both the book and the Like are truly worth your time.

The Scientific Spiritualist…

I have always been fascinated by astrophysics. Mars and Stars have been on my mind since time immemorial. One of my earliest memories is actually of wishing on a star.

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The career and works of Camille Flammarion illustrate that he held similar passions. His speculations on Mars and other planets – and the potential for life there – have been part of my musings for some while.

The concept that there may be life on other worlds did not originated with Flammarion. And although we have gone 24± centuries without definitive proof of extraterrestrials, there is a legitimate search for evidence that is considered under the wings of science.

Only recently have I learned that Flammarion’s study and published material also treated on psychical matters. The scientist was also a Spiritualist – for more than 60 years. He was a contemporary of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and they both made “pilgrimages” to renowned figures in Spiritualism, including to Eusapia Palladino. In 1897, what may be considered as the height of that movement, Flammarion’s writing turned exclusively to the conditions and environment(s) of the soul.

Having once been a scientist (chemistry), I must admit to some conflict between logic and the subjects to which I’m attracted as an author. Apart from A Song Heard in the Future, my novel-in-progress about the life of the seer Teiresias, I’ve been developing another book about the legacy of Spiritualism during World War II.

Richard Feynman – a theoretical physicist – is purported to have said, “…nobody understands quantum mechanics.” While I don’t believe that such uncertainty demands that all possible explanations are of equal potential validity, I do think there’s enough vagary to support the idea that even those who study quantum physics do not fully comprehend their own field.

The zeitgeist has seen fit to give television shows to some who think beginning presentation of any wonky theory with the phrase, “Is it possible…” is sufficient to intercept skepticism. I am and will remain far from going that far. I am much more comfortable with “What if…”, which has been the spark of every theory. Part of quantum mechanics may prove Flammarion – and all scientific spiritualists – partially right.

“The sight of my soul far exceeded that of my body, and, to my surprise, this power of sight appeared to be subject to my will.” — from Flammarion’s “Lumen”

Two dozen centuries without proof of a hypothesis is not proof of the antithesis.