Category Archives: books

Lovecraft on Republicans


Better known for his fearsome works of horror, Howard Phillips Lovecraft also wrote many letters to fellow authors.

Occasionally he would discuss politics.  He showed a prescience in that field which I hope he did not show in his other writings.

H. P. LOVECRAFT wrote, in a letter to C. L. Moore, August 1936;

As for the Republicans—how can one regard seriously a frightened, greedy, nostalgic huddle of tradesmen and lucky idlers who shut their eyes to history and science, steel their emotions against decent human sympathy, cling to sordid and provincial ideals exalting sheer acquisitiveness and condoning artificial hardship for the non-materially-shrewd, dwell smugly and sentimentally in a distorted dream-cosmos of outmoded phrases and principles and attitudes based on the bygone agricultural-handicraft world, and revel in (consciously or unconsciously) mendacious assumptions (such as the notion that real liberty is synonymous with the single detail of unrestricted economic license or that a rational planning of resource-distribution would contravene some vague and mystical ‘American heritage’…) utterly contrary to fact and without the slightest foundation in human experience? Intellectually, the Republican idea deserves the tolerance and respect one gives to the dead.

Six years earlier on October 4, 1930, he had written, in a letter to Robert E. Howard, – – – ‘Bunch together a group of people deliberately chosen for strong religious feelings, and you have a practical guarantee of dark morbidities expressed in crime, perversion, and insanity.’

I have not found a reference to him combining the two thoughts.

Perhaps the rest of his work is a warning of what may happen if the Republicans and the Fundamentalists joined forces.

Is Donald Trump one of the Shoggoth?

A Brig Named Sea Nymph, Buy it now with Paypal


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The history of a Brig sailing the coasts of Australia
between 1850 and 1868 as recorded in the newspapers of the day.

Its voyages and some of the activities of her Masters, crew and owners reveal a lot about mid-1800’s Australia. Fully indexed.

If you have an interest in the sea or in history
or better still, in both, this is the book for you.

128 pages, privately published 2016, available from the author.

Fontaine Publishing did a wonderful job. All online.
A tad more expensive that I would have liked but that is Australian publishing.

Base cost is $20.00 in my hand, book in your hand.
If we cannot meet in person, then postage and handling comes into play.

Book + P&H then are

Australia – $AU 23.50 – 2-6 days delivery

Great Britain & USA – $AU 28.50 – 6-8 business days delivery

New Zealand – $AU 25.85 – 7 business days delivery

Should you wish to use direct deposit –

John McLennan – Bank – ANZ BSB 016080 Acct No. 279013967

This is only recommended for Australian residents as currency exchange can be brutal.

Posting will happen on the next working day following receipt of payment
and the receival of your postal address via email at

archive@westnet.com.au

Thank you all for your encouragement.

An Exerpt


Old men who stay behind, do not inflame the young with words of war. The ruin you risk should be your own, not theirs.

Young men beware; to make you fight they must first make you fear then out of that, mould hate.

Take arms when all else fails, but mark you this: before the battle’s joined, remember what it is to see friends bleed. In the battle’s midst, remember peace is both behind you and ahead of you. Once the battle’s won, remember how it is that wars begin.

Kings and Captains, you who order way, know that your people, left alone, would choose to eat not fight, would choose to love not hate, would choose to sleep not die. Take care what you may say to turn them to your will. Tell them you fight for God, not gain and know your enemy is saying the same.

You who read this, pray for me. I have heard blind fury roar and sow the seeds of future war and I have wept as heroes died.

 

The Perfect Sinner, Will Davenport, 2004. 374pp

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Book Review; Albert of Adelaide, Howard L Anderson


I was led to this novel by Cathy of Kittling Books.

From the premise, a platypus escapes from the Adelaide Zoo and heads north looking for the “Old” Australia, I expected a lot of whimsy and Richard Bach stuff.

What I got was an easy-to-read, hard-to-put-down novel of life and death in a fantastical setting. A world of fantastic animals doing far too human things.

There are so many parallels with modern Australia and its rather strange politics. These are probably accidental as the author is from New Mexico with only a passing acquaintance of “Old” East Coast Australia. Yet he has found the unmentionable underground racism, the naive acceptance of the greediness of the “Bosses”, the bullying of those with the printing presses and the paradoxical mateship so necessary to survive the harshness of the Australian desert.

I am not going to spell out the subtle references in the book. I shall leave those for other readers to discover. In fact, I have this feeling that every reader will bring something of themselves to the meanings of this tale. This is possibly the hardest task for a story-teller and it is achieved easily by Anderson.

Moving away from the feelings and ideas engendered, the actual plot is strongly influenced by the “Old Wild West” of America. Battles and feuds and twistings of the Law abound with blood and injuries and death. All set in an authentic Australian desert landscape.

I recommend that all my Australian readers grab hold of this book and spend several hours looking for “Old” Australia. Then consider just how close to or far from “New” Australia that vision truly is.

Ruffling the perceptions of my place in the world is the greatest gift a writer can give. My equilibrium, like that of a spinning top, has been disturbed and when it stops wobbling I shall be in a new place.

4.5/5

Publisher: ALLEN & UNWIN ISBN: 9781742379029, Aust Pub.: July 2012
Hard cover
Pages, 288 $AUD 26.99;  Kobo Books Epub Pages, 288 , $15.09

Book Review; Pair of Dice Lost, Jeremy Ludlow


This is a volume for which I have been searching for many years. I first found a reference to it in the original Index Librorum Prohibitorum. By the fourth edition of this list, Pair of Dice Lost had been removed from the list, perhaps an indication of just how seriously the Catholic Church took this heresy.

While I have still been unable to find a copy of Ludlow’s work, I have at least found a review written by Tad Tuleja in his Catalogue of Lost Books.

An engraving from the original manuscript shows that Michelangelo was aware of this heresy although he could only code an allusion in his work.

It is also probable that Albert Einstein had access to this manuscript and his reading of it, coupled with his rejection of the heresy, led to his famous comment that, “God does not play dice with the Universe.”

Pair of Dice Lost (1671), Jeremy Ludlow

John Milton’s great poem Paradise Lost covers the biblical ground from the revolt of the rebel angels to the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden. Milton’s younger contemporary Ludlow, who was “enthralled by Mr. Milton’s sonorities,” nevertheless felt the epic lacked something, and he endeavored to provide it in a “predendum.” What was lacking, he felt, was a fuller depiction of Heaven before the revolt, when Lucifer was still the Son of Light and the favorite of God’s admiring legions. “It was Mr. Milton’s own picture of the Archfiend,” he explained, “that compelled me to intrude myself into his poem: for I felt that a Being so fully tortured must speak his case with the lacrimae doloris sui, and not the bombast of a Drunkard caught out at tippling.”

Ludlow was not the first or the last to question the rhetorical excesses of Milton’s “Archfiend,” though he was certainly unique in his response. Pair of Dice Lost describes the “halcyon aeons” from the beginning of Creation to Satan’s defection, during which the Creator and his luminous companions amuse themselves by running interplanetary races (Satan has the record for the Mercury­to-Jupiter circuit), quaffing an ethereal beverage called “nebula,” and when they tire of these exertions, gambling. Using polyfaceted “cosmic” dice, they play not for gain but for preeminence: the winners get to oversee the Milky Way for the next millennia, or (an even more coveted prize) to sit closer to God’s throne.

All goes well in this celestial entertainment palace until, around nineteen aeons A.C., Satan comes to a disturbing realization: since God is both omniscient and omnipotent, there is no assurance He is not cheating at the game, either by placing his bets on a fore­seeable outcome or by manipulating the dice as they fall. The favorite angel broaches this sticky subject, and is informed magisterially, “Have you then invented Morality, my shining One? And when I breathed upon the waters, where were you?”

Understandably upset at this response, Satan muses darkly, “If the Almighty will not then set down Rules, why his loyal subjects must need set down their Own.” So thinking, he steals the cosmic dice, hurls them cavalierly in the direction of the planet Earth, and waits for judgment. It is not long in coming. Unable to tease an apology out of Satan for “rashly picking up My marbles and going home,” God banishes him from the celestial presence and con­demns him to an eternity below on Earth. “On thy belly thou must goe,” Ludlow echoes Milton, “and eat dirt with the creatures that I send you; so much thou must endure until thou save my dice, and restore them to their proper horne.”

Satan never does find the dice – which is why, in Ludlow’s wry estimation, “This green yet besieged orb of mud and mistiness/ spins yet uncertain, the Almighty’s plan defied.” The Latitudinarian implications of this comment won Ludlow no friends among the Puritan hierarchy, and indeed his “spirited despatch” was soon made anathema both by Canterbury and (redundantly) by Rome. In the bitter whimsy of its theme – his hint that God himself may be out of control-it speaks more strongly to the modern temper than to Ludlow’s own.

Book Review; Pohon Setan, Ben Brown


Available as an Amazon Ebook for Kindle, 167 pp $1.99

While beginning and ending in Australia this is a tale of horror set in Indonesia.

Who better to document horrors than journalists and we meet one of the old school. Almost a Dickensian caricature yet totally believable, Bill Redcliff shepherds a group of young journos on what seems like a simple fact-finding mission in Java.

When things go wrong, over-sexed ex-S.A.S Bradley Munroe is brought into the action.

There is lust and love, the Pohon Setan are truly horrific and the violence is pyrotechnical in its intensity. The bane of Australia’s current political life, an evil people smuggler makes an appearance and, at the end, there is a hint of the modern Murdoch Press in action.

I read it in a single sitting, working my way through the first couple of pages then suddenly forgetting everything around me.  Definitely a 4/5 read.

As a bonus, there is a short story included with the novel. A completely different type of story, set in the future, “Rescue Unit 867a“. This is an intense little event which still manages to raise some fascinating questions about artificial intelligence. The Good Doctor would have been proud to write this one.

Vale, Michael Hart


Who was Michael Stern Hart?

He was the Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg (c. 1398; February 3, 1468) of the 20th century.

Gutenberg invented mechanical movable type printing started the Printing Revolution and is widely regarded as the most important event of the modern period.

Michael Hart (March 8, 1947; September 6, 2011) invented the eBook and began the modern information revolution.

A student at University of Illinois, Hart was given a computer account on July 4, 1971. Wondering what he could do with it, unlike other users of the time who used the gestating internet for data distribution, Hart chose to use his computer time for information distribution.

Typing in the American Declaration of Independence, he discovered that it would crash the system if he was to email it to everyone on the ‘net. As an alternative he made the text available for people to download instead.

This was the beginning of what he was to call Project Gutenberg which became his lifelong work. He continued by adding such classics as the Bible and the works of Homer, Shakespeare, and Mark Twain. As of 1987 he had typed in a total of 313 books in this fashion.

In 1987 he was able to set up a series of “mirror sites” and mailing lists and so was able to recruit help in the work. Now, in the week of his death, the Project has over 36,000 books available for free downloading. All are out of copyright.

From his unformatted style of creating eBooks, the Kindle, Nook and other modern eBook readers developed their proprietary formats and, as the 15th century Gutenberg was the father of the printed book so the 20th century Hart was the father of the electronic book.

While others were sharing data across the newly networked computers of 1971, Hart had a vision which not only led to his vast collection of eBooks but also paved the way for blogging sites like this.

I repeat.

Vale, Michael Hart, and thank you..

Looting the Corpse


I often drop in on Melbourne artist Jennie Rosenbaum’s website yet it was her twitter entry this morning which resonated with me. I was preparing this post under the title “Goodbye Borders”.  Thank you Jennie for the new title and for the validation of my feelings.

She tweeted;
The borders closing sale is both intriguing and sad, it feels a little like looting a corpse.

Two days ago I was in Perth and walked by the Border’s store in Hay Street. I had read the newspaper reports of this book store being placed into receivership and closed down. Not just in Perth but Australia-wide.

It wasn’t until I went inside that the full extent of this tragedy hit me.

I am a sucker for book stores and I found myself tearing up just a little. I also dropped thoughts of buying any books. It felt sacrilegious. I knew I would not be able to enjoy reading anything bought here under these circumstances.

I snapped these shots and said a mental “Goodbye”

That Bloomsbury Day Of The Year Again


. . . . . It must be a movement then, an actuality of the possible as possible. Aristotle’s phrase formed itself within the gabbled verses and floated out into the studious silence of the library of Saint Genevieve where he had read, sheltered from the sin of Paris, night by night. By his elbow a delicate Siamese conned a handbook of strategy. Fed and feeding brains about me: under glowlamps, impaled, with faintly beating feelers: and in my mind’s darkness a sloth of the underworld, reluctant, shy of brightness, shifting her dragon scaly folds. Thought is the thought of thought. Tranquil brightness. The soul is in a manner all that is: the soul is the form of forms. Tranquility sudden, vast, candescent: form of forms. . . . .

All Hail Eris


Growing into an early adulthood in the 1970’s I naturally became involved in  conspiracy theories.

It was cool to see the hidden hands of the United States in all sorts of events. From the obvious falsities of the assassination of John F Kennedy to LSD experimentation on civilians. That Grassy Knoll was never explained.

The attempted genomicide on the plant species Cannabis sativa was also a conspiracy between US Government and US industry barons.

Then I discovered the conspiracy theorist’s bible; “The Illuminatus! Trilogy” by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson.

The real source of all conspiracies. The original and the oldest of all conspiracies. In fact it is not a true conspiracy if the Illuminati are not behind it.

Just as a sidelight, did you know that with a tale with multiple time lines, it is necessary to have four copies to cut and paste it back into a single time line! What? Of course I didn’t! A person would have to be a complete nut case to do something like that!

Anyways, back to the point of this tale, playing vinyl tracks backwards showed the Satanist conspiracy in Rock and Roll. I always believed that the Illuminati were behind this one as well.

Proof has arrived.

Type illuminati in reverse into your browser and then add the dotcom to complete the URL.

Book Review: The Mayan Prophecy


I had been wondering at the sudden assumption in society that the world was due to end in 2012. I finally got around to reading the book.

I was left with the same feeling that last great societal delusion gave me. “The Da Vinci Code” was another work of badly written fiction which tapped into America’s “Need to Believe”. And as America goes, so goes the rest of the Western Civilisation. Although I am beginning to see that phrase as an oxymoron.

Steve Alten has written a book which requires a major suspension of disbelief along with an ability to ignore a number of internal contradictions. I’ll mention just one. The nasties crashed into the Earth 65 million years ago. Somehow the goodies AND the nasties lay around doing nothing for some 64,975,000 years and then suddenly began “Doing things”. Yeah! Right!

While the plot has some coherence, the characters are, to put it mildly, off the planet. High levels of World Government are all shown as largely incompetent. While this is probably true, I would prefer not to have it pointed out quite so graphically.

As with Dan Brown’s novels, if you are happy simply reading words and not thinking then this may be the book for you. Alternatively, should you be weary of your current belief system, then you will find a new, apocalyptic set of beliefs here. If you have any sense, then I would suggest finding something else to read.

No, I don’t want to read the sequel. I have better things to do with my time.

Book Review; Land of the Painted Caves


This is the conclusion of the Earth’s Children series.

After 31 years, Jean, I feel you won’t be too upset by the familiarity, the final book has been written, published and read. The series is complete and many of the loose ends have been tied together. So why am I left feeling unfulfilled?

Somewhere along the line, Jean, you lost the story-telling knack and this time simply wrote down a series of events, visits and descriptions. Yes, I began this final book with anticipation, struggled though the middle and finished, hoping against hope for a final burst of brilliance. And was disappointed.

“The Plains of Passage” was the other “travelling” book in the series. I had hoped you had learned to overcome the boredom of a journey and insert some excitement into this final volume. Alas, this last effort reads as though you had decided against telling a story and chose instead to lecture your readers.

There are all the essential parts of a good novel included in “The Land of the Painted Caves” except they lack the tale-teller’s spark. The human interest is shallow, the human conflict contrived and not essential to the progression of the story. Even the twist near the end is simply an obvious “loose-end” being tied up. The only parts where you show passion is in your descriptions of the cave paintings.

I will not include spoilers in this review and I wish I had been able to be positive about this effort.

Unfortunately, Jean, have I finished 31 years of reading  your work which began with a huge adoration and has ended with an unexpected and most unwelcome let down.

Then again I am just a single reader. There will be many more who will love it.

Teh Books; They Are Alive!


Love the credits – – –