Monday, 25 April 2016

Advanced Technology of Ancient Civilizations

I know, I keep hearing about Ancient Aliens or Ancient Astronauts that came and built the pyramids in Egypt and all that...well, I'm not talking about that at all here - just the facts!  Well, at least to begin with.

So first of all, have a good look at these pictures:

See how exact the stones in this ancient Inca wall in Peru are placed together?  They say that you can't even put a sharp razor blade between them!  And that's without mortar or anything to bond them together!  Imagine how difficult it would be to get a hard block of stone that even, level and smooth, let alone the right angle to fit perfectly alongside another block!

And what about this:

They could also do perfectly smooth curves!  Not just in corners of rooms, but when sculpting those giant stone statues!

Some modern-day engineers have had a closer look at the remarkable workmanship of Ancient Egypt and other impressive ancient ruins, and have concluded that getting the curves, angles and symmetry so exactly right is almost impossible, even with today's technology and know-how!

One of the books detailing these things is Lost Technologies of Ancient Egypt: Advanced Engineering in the Temples of the Pharaohs by Christopher Dunn.  Reading it will convince you that Ancient Egyptians had knowledge and skills above and beyond ours today!

When I discovered these fascinating things, I knew I had to incorporate it into my writing - and in fact, this advanced technology of the ancient world is a fundamental theme of my Rhuna Fantasy book series, and since it's Fantasy, I'm allowed to theorize all I want as to how, why, who and where (but it's not aliens!).

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Amazing Reed Boats of the Ancients

This is a reed boat.  You may or may not have seen pictures of them, because even though they have been around for thousands of years, they aren't exactly common knowledge. 

The reed boats I'm talking about are the ones made from the reeds growing along the shores of Lake Titicaca on the border of Bolivia and Peru in South America.   Apparently, they are so super-buoyant, strong and stable, that people in that area have been making them the same way for literally thousands of years!  That's pretty amazing in itself, I think.

But there's more...

Quite a lot of historians and anthropologists have reason to believe that ancient civilizations built larger versions of this kayak-type reed boat to cross vast oceans, not just Lake Titicaca.  They were built with cabins on top, long rudders and oar-like poles to navigate, and probably also with sails, so it's quite feasible that they could have crossed a sea or even ocean.

If you've been around for a while, you've probably heard of Thor Heyerdahl and his famous expeditions to prove that people in ancient times really could have crossed oceans with such reed boats.  For The Tigris Expedition, he built a reed boat in the style of these ancient ones to cross an ocean, but the book about his first and most famous expedition, called Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific in a Raft  is still a #1 best seller!

Reading it some 20 years ago started a long process that resulted in my first book, "Rhuna, Keeper of Wisdom", using many ideas from Thor Heyerdahl's books and related subjects. 

Heyerdahl believed that many people on Pacific islands had Caucasian ancestors because records show fair-skinned, red-haired people living on some of those islands, such as Easter Island, when Europeans and other explorers like Captain Cook first arrived there. 

And since fair-skinned and red-haired mummies have been found in Peru, Heyerdahl wanted to prove that an advanced civilization from South America could have crossed the Pacific Ocean to settle the Pacific islands.  Those white-skinned races then mixed with the Malayans who came from Asia, and their descendants are today's Polynesians.

Rhuna, the heroine of my series, is Polynesian.  Her father is a fair-skinned, blue-eyed man from South America, and her mother a brown-skinned native living on Easter Island.  She leaves her isolated island home on a reed boat, and eventually ends up in South America.

So, do you think combining history, or at least theories about mankind's past, with fiction and fantasy is a good idea?!

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Villain vs Antagonist

Long before I started writing anything, I heard the saying that "every good story has a good villain" - or perhaps that should be "...a bad villain"?!  In any case, I took it to heart as I planned my first novel, and this is what I came up with:

The Dark Master, as he is called, who wears a black robe and causes ripples of terror to pass through the idyllic and utopian communities of Atlan, where the heroine and protagonist of my novels resides. 

Although The Dark Master sounds like a Fantasy cliché, I decided early on that he should be a real and complex character, like the others in my story, and not just a "bad guy" for the sake of having a villain.

In the world I've created for Rhuna, my protagonist, the Dark Master has a name like everyone else, and was a normal citizen of a peaceful society.  His name was Gatherer of Sage, and he was a Herbalist who began to dabble a bit too much in Alchemy and other unknown elements.

His quest to achieve things believed to be impossible or unattainable drove him to rebel against the restraints of society and the criticism by his peers, and before long he was no longer a respected Atlan Master wearing the traditional white robe, but rather a dark one to express his defiance:  hence the moniker, "the Dark Master."

At some point I began to think of the difference between a plain, outright villain, and an antagonist, and realized that some of my other characters, who were basically "good guys" were also antagonists because their viewpoint, opinion or actions brought on a conflict, a new situation and consequences that my heroine, the protagonist, had to deal with.

Now that I've decided what motivated The Dark Master to become such, and what still drives him on, he is no longer a faceless, menacing villain, but a formidable personality that can even be respected or understood to a degree. 

What do you as a reader think about a villain/antagonist you can relate to, or who has depths and dimensions like the good-guy characters in the story?