2014 is almost here. What a relief. The year ended in darkness, as it always does, thanks to the Winter Solstice. A delicious forgetfulness almost ensued with the orgy of cookies and chocolate brought to me by Christmas. I am grateful now for this boundary between new and old; I can imagine leaping over it and leaving behind all that does not belong in my present or future.
I cancelled my publishing contract for my first novel, Corvus Rising, which meant creating all new print files and an opportunity to fix a few remaining glichés. I’ve also added a map and a glossary of a few terms from the Patua’ (pronounced: pah-TWA)—the ‘language of the crows’—and a new cover.
I left a few things behind in 2013—a home and a marriage. I’m on my own again. I love this new place, this landscape both within and without. Now that the Winter Solstice is many days passed, I feel a sense of hope return.
I embrace the new life ahead of me, the new beautiful landscape at the foot of the Rockies, new friends, new art. Oh—and for those eagerly awaiting and/or nagging me for Book 2, which I have tentatively named Patua’ Underground —it’s on the way! I’ll post updates, details and excerpts as it unfolds.
I’m fascinated by bones…all bones, especially the white bleached remains of the wild creatures picked clean of all flesh, marking the place where they lay down on the Earth and died.
I am not alone….
Bones of Metal
French artist Phillipe Pasqua designed and fabricated this full-scale, 21 foot tall Tyrannasauras rex sculpture. Comprising 350 bones of chrome and aluminum, the Lizard King towers over the Seine River in France.(Click here for more…)
Bones of Rock
Speaking of T-Rex, a rare nearly complete fossilized skeleton heads for the Smithsonian as the centerpiece for the new dinosaur hall. <more here…>
In other bones, Paleontologists recently excavated the fossilized tail of a 72-million year old hadrosaurin the northern desert of Mexico. Discovered by locals, the scientists unburied fifty remarkably well-preserved vertebrae. From these bones, scientists determined the dinosaur suffered from arthritis and tumors (Click here for more…)
Bones of Clay
From molten origins of Igneous rocks, whose feldsparsundergo weathering and disintegration at Earth surface, forming a variety of clay minerals that, thankfully, blanket much of Earth’s surface.
I too am descendent from Firstborn Earth. I know this clay. It is me.
During one muse-filled summer break from teaching geology, a series of ceramic sculptures, whose central theme of twisted spinal columns sprang to life beneath my hands, telling tales of my own origins, my vertebrate ancestry. My own bones.
Our evolutionary paths cross, clay and I, in a moment of geologic time-the instant in which I so briefly live. I witness a distant past and participate in this miraculous path of life upon which my hands and this clay chanced to meet.
There we were, innocent boomer (and beyond) children looking up to Superman, gobsmacked by his prowess and great strength. Really? You can do that, Superman? Squeeze a lump of coalinto diamond? Not just once did we witness this feat, but time after time.
Perhaps somewhere along the way, a geologist sat Superman down and explained to him the facts of diamond formation, and how you theoretically could take a lump of coal and, given enough squeezing, make a diamond. But only if you add a lot of heat.
That would explain why Superman started using lightning to make diamonds.
Really little bolts, though. Hand-held, pocket-size lightning.
Lightning is very, very hot, along the order of 54,000°F, about 5 times the temperature of the surface of the sun.
But, heat alone can’t turn coal into diamond and lightning strikes at coal mines are far more likely to catch the coal layer on fire than to make a single diamond.
Am I being too persnickety here?
Perhaps I expect my Superheroes to be omniscient as well. Or at least geologically literate. But is this fair?
In my own defense, it is not impossible for crows and humans to communicate (see Language of the Crows), and I offer a scientific, gene-based explanation for this ability.
Fantasy fiction takes us away on the gift of tongues, illuminating the path into the darkness of the silent unknown, tantalizing us with magical journeys that reveal the secrets of our universe. Hopefully we have the ears to hear and the eyes to see.
I’m glad Superman saw the light, keeping his Superhero image intact in the eyes of geologists everywhere. In the late 20th Century, however, when cartoon characters leaped from the printed page onto the big screen, it seems that Superman lost a little know-how in the diamond department.
Alas, that Superman’s memory is less legendary than his great strength. What the cartoon knew, the “real” human did not.
That the truth of diamonds ever made it into a comic book is astonishing, however, and cause for a moment of gratefulness.
Diamonds form at the base of Earth’s crust, where pressure and temperature are very great. When pressure exceeds rock strength, an intense, but short-lived volcanic eruption occurs, and molten mantle rocks are shot to the surface through kimberlite pipes at the speed of sound.
That’s 768 miles per hour!
Kimberlite pipes bring up other minerals as well, like garnets, mined for use in sandpaper products. The Navajo Volcanic Fieldin the Four Corners area of the Southwestern US (not to be confused with Monument Valley), a few diatremes (the eroded remains of a kimberlite pipes) poke up out of the desert floor, Shiprock being the most well known.
It’s a state of mind…a vision of an alternative future, where all of Earth’s inhabitants have the right to be alive, each to its own individual perception of the world, and each with a unique voice that sings its own song of creation. All the animals, plants, rocks, air, and water–everyone.
Where the Wild Law rules…
“…wild law is a law made by people to regulate human behaviour that privileges maintaining the integrity and functioning of the whole Earth community in the long-term, over the interests of any species (including humans) at a particular time.”
—Cormac Cullinan, author,Wild Law: A Manifesto for Earth Justice
The idea of rights of nature is still an ecological fantasy in the overall human consciousness. I offer my vision of a not-too distant Earth, a planet, alive with organisms, including the entities of rock, air, water that we deem ‘non-living’ but are alive in ways we cannot fathom.
Toward this vision, I wrote my first novel, Corvus Rising, an ecofantasy of crows, humans, sentience, and the idea that we have the ability to communicate verbally across species boundaries.