Stone of Remembrance

September 26, 2007

Three Choices (Updated)

Filed under: Baseball, Commentary — admin @ 13:32

Mark Ecko, fashion designer, paid a bit over $750,000 for the record-setting 756th home run ball hit by Mr. Congeniality, Barry Bonds. He’s conducting an online poll on what to do with it.

So, here are your choices:

1. Give the ball to Cooperstown as is. It’s a record-setting ball, so it should go to the Hall of Fame.

2. Brand it with a nice red asterisk, and then give it to Cooperstown.

3. Shoot the damn thing into space. “Out of sight,” Ecko says, “out of mind.”

As of this writing, more than 9 million votes have been cast. Results are to be announced on September 25, and I’ll update this post.

According to the Associated Press, Bonds said the following: “He’s stupid. He’s an idiot,” Bonds said. “He spent $750,000 on the ball and that’s what he’s doing with it? What he’s doing is stupid.”.

Ecko responded with the offer to make Bonds a custom T-shirt that says, “Marc Ecko paid $752,467 for my ball, and all I got was this ’stupid’ T-shirt.”‘

For the record, I voted to bestow it. I’m not ready to pull things out of other display cases to brand them, and blasting it into space is fairly dumb as well. We’ll see what the rest of the population thinks in a few days.


UPDATE 26 September:

They’re going to brand it with a red asterisk. The Hall has already said they’d accept it, but it doesn’t mean they endorse Ecko’s point of view.




Now “the public” can get back to watching baseball, and this – like Barry from San Francisco – can just disappear.

September 25, 2007

Walter Hunt Author Newsletter, Volume 4, Issue 4

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 20:50

September, 2007

Welcome to the fourth issue of my mailing list newsletter for 2007, intended to provide you with information about my work, my website www.walterhunt.com, and my activities and appearances.

Sorry for the long delay between newsletters. I wanted to have some definite news about the new book projects, and I have it at last.

Books Update

The Dark Wing is now in its fourth printing in paperback.

It has also appeared in Russian language and is available at Ozon and Books.ru. Thanks to vorchun for passing this information on to me.

The Dark Wing is now out in Taschenbuch-Format (paperback) in Germany under the title “Die Dunkle Schwinge”, and can be ordered from amazon.de.

The Dark Path is now in its second printing in paperback.

The Dark Path is now out in Taschenbuch-Format (paperback) in Germany under the title “Der Dunkle Pfad”, and can be preordered from amazon.de.

The Dark Ascent is now out in mass-market paperback.

The Dark Ascent is now out in Taschenbuch-Format (paperback) in Germany under the title “Der Dunkle Stern”, and can be ordered from amazon.de.

According to amazon.de: “Walter H. Hunt zählt neben John Ringo und David Weber zu den bekanntesten Military-SF-Autoren in den USA.” (”Walter H. Hunt ranks beside John Ringo and David Weber as one of the best known military SF authors in the USA.” Well, that’s good to know!)

The Dark Crusade is now out in mass-market paperback.

Random House Germany will publish The Dark Crusade in Taschenbuch-Format (paperback) in Germany under the title “Der Dunkle Kreuzzug”. It will be published in December, 2007, and can be ordered from amazon.de.

The biggest news, however, is that my next book will be completely new. An offer is being made for a novel to be published in November of 2008; see the header “New Writing Projects” below.

Stone of Remembrance

My weblog at is going strong. You don’t need to register to offer comment, but due to recent spamming I’ve enabled moderation on the blog, so all comments must be approved before they appear. I cordially invite all of you to join, comment, and participate.

I’m looking into the possibility of releasing a podcast version of Sword and Sun, but that project is in a preliminary stage. I’ll keep you informed of progress through the newsletter and on the blog.

My blog also shows the current top ten games in my Boardgamegeek collection; I’ve gone through the process of entering it into the Geek – process of entering it into the Geek – and with over 500 games entered we’re still way short.

Since the last newsletter I’ve posted a twelve-part account of our trip to NASFiC under the title 2007 Summer Vacation. Saw a lot of folks on that trip. I’ve also begun posting support material for the new book; see “New Writing Projects” below.

Projects in the Dark Wing Universe

We’re still on hiatus, and my creative energies have been focused elsewhere. Still, I appreciate the mail I receive – especially when folks say, “where’s the next book?” I have to answer that it’s in the hands of Tor Books to decide, but that I’ve not abandoned it. Thank you for all of your support and input.

New Writing Projects

I’m pleased to announce that my novel “A Song In Stone” will be published as a part of the Wizards of the Coast Discoveries imprint in November of 2008. It came about during a moment of insight while visiting Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland in 2005. It is completely unrelated to the Dark Wing Universe; while in Scotland I expected to be doing some on-site observation and research for my 18th century novel, but fate intervened.

“A Song In Stone” begins with a premise that was suggested by the guide who showed me Rosslyn Chapel. This structure, a confection of sculpture and artistry, is an unfinished part of a larger church originally built in the fifteenth century. It has fascinated historians and mystics for centuries; it is even the final location in “The DaVinci Code”. When my guide showed it to me, he pointed to a part of the interior and told me that the sculpture there was a complex, undecoded piece of music. The light went on . . . and now it’s a novel. The majority of the book is set in Middle Ages France and Spain, and (among other things) reveals the linkage between Gothic architecture and polyphonic music. The blurb hasn’t been written and the editing for publication hasn’t begun, but I believe that it is a significant piece of writing for me, worthy of my readers.

I hope you’ll enjoy this book as much as I did, and that it will find a place on your shelf with my other work. I’ve been putting support material on the blog under the title A Song In Stone.

Also . . .

I will also be writing a shared-world work for hire for WotC to be published in 2009. This book is a Gothic horror novel set in Paris in 1885 (previously reported as 1878, sorry), and will be lots of fun to write. I changed the setting to 1885 because I’m using Jean-Martin Charcot, and in 1885 his asylum, the Salpêtrière, had accepted a scholarship student from Vienna – the 29-year-old Sigmund Freud.

I’m currently knee-deep in reading and research. Work for hire or not, they get the best I can offer. I hope you’ll enjoy this one as well.

The Colonial Project

I’ve written the first complete section of the 18th century novel, set in British America in 1754. I’ve done an enormous amount of research, and continue to be amazed how much there is to read. I’ve read a few chapters to book groups, and have met with excellent response.

During the convention in St. Louis, I had the opportunity to make an “elevator pitch” of the novel idea to an editor, who was very receptive. I hope to be able to provide more information on this as time goes on, but at the moment I have nothing to report (other than progress with the writing.)

Upcoming Appearances

I have been invited as a Special Guest at ConText in Columbus, Ohio, September 28-30, 2007. Tim Powers is the Guest of Honor – I’ll be looking forward to seeing him again; he’s one of my favorite writers.

The date for the Stamford Writer’s Fair in Stamford, Connecticut has been pushed back to some time in November. My presentation will discuss writing historical fiction.

I have not yet accepted an invitation to Philcon in Philadelphia in November; I’ve missed the last few and would like to get back there again. I have received a verbal invite to return to Capclave in Silver Spring, Maryland, but cannot attend this year. Likewise the fine convention in Los Angeles, LosCon – schedule and commitments preclude a trip to the West Coast this year.

Worldcon Bids

Denver has won the right to host the 2008 Worldcon. It will take place August 6-10, 2008 at the Adam’s Mark Hotel in Denver. We’ve bought our memberships already and look forward to our first visit to Colorado.

Montréal has won the 2009 bid during the Worldcon in Yokahama. We will be in attendance, as we presupported the bid.

I need to sell a lot of books to be able to attend the proposed Australia Worldcon in 2010, but would really like to go. After the 2007 Worldcon this bid will step it up, and there’ll be some competition on planet. We’ll see.

According to Chaz Baden’s page there’s only one announced bid for 2011 – Seattle – and only one for 2012, Chicago (as I reported on my blog a couple of months ago.) At LA Con I recall seeing a table for a Worldcon in Washington, DC for 2010 or later, but can’t find any information on it.

Website Updates

We have recently given the site a facelift, including new links to our Amazon-listed books. The guestbook is back online, and there’s been some reorganization of the various departments.

As soon as A Song In Stone passes into copyedit, I’ll put up an excerpt.

Yahoo Mailing List

Some local fans have set up a Yahoo mailing list for my writing. As I say at public appearances – you can ask any question you like (just be prepared for me to answer as I please.) I hope you’ll join the list and be a part of an interactive discussion.

What I’m Reading

I read the Economist, a weekly news magazine. You should too.

After visiting the Garfield site in Ohio, I picked up Kenneth Ackerman’s Dark Horse“, about the American Presidential campaign of 1880, and the brief Presidency and untimely death of James A. Garfield, our twentieth president. Garfield turns out to be quite an interesting figure, and the period is compelling – there may be a novel in it. Unfortunately, it’ll have to wait until other projects are dealt with.

Final Thoughts

Thanks to everyone for their continued encouragement and support. Having a chance to write professionally means I get to do what I truly love, and I hope you will always feel that your confidence in me is well-placed. Keep reading, and keep in touch.

Feel free to forward this to anyone who might be interested.

Content © 2007, Walter H. Hunt.

Santiago de Compostela

Filed under: A Song In Stone, Commentary, Writing — admin @ 16:27

The tomb of Saint James (Santiago) was the destination of countless pilgrims in the Middle Ages. It was not Ian Graham’s intention to travel there – either in 1307 or in the present – but he has found himself there and then, in the middle of the night on the saint’s feast day, the most important day of the year for the shrine.

Woken from sleep, disoriented and confused, he accompanies Rob (his guide from Rosslyn who has turned up in the past as well) to the Cathedral of Santiago. Not long after they go inside, Juan la Rosa – who bears a striking resemblance to Sean Ross, a tech he met at Rosslyn – turns up as well. They listen to the monks singing Annua Gaudia – a part of the Cantigas de Santa Maria:

The air was rank with sweat, with a vague overscent of sweet incense; it didn’t smell like St. Giles’ or any other Presbyterian kirk I’d ever been in. But the voices . . . unaccompanied by instruments, they sounded angelic.

Annua gaudia / Jacobe debita
Sunt tibi danda.
Organa dulcia / Conveniencia
Sunt resonanda.

At least at the moment, I seemed to have a good command of Latin to go with the French – or whatever it was – I was speaking with Rob, so I could make out the meaning: ‘James,’ the monks sang; ‘each year we rejoice in praise of you. Sweet instruments will play in harmony.’

(Click the musical note above to hear a sample of Annua Gaudia.)

Ian and his companions are not in Santiago just to hear the music, however. They are here for the first initiation, the sphere governed by the Moon. This initiation deals with the attainment of humility and the beginning of understanding of the Mysteries.

It happens when Ian touches the five depressions on the Tree of Jesse at the Pórtico de Gloria, the Gate of Glory, at the entrance to the cathedral.

The Gate consisted of three portals, carved in stunning detail. There must have been a few hundred people perched on capitals, crowded onto the transoms, arranged in curved arcs over the doorway. In the middle of the center portal was the man himself, Saint James, a cane in one hand and his shopping list or something in the other, perched on the top of the Tree of Jesse. The pilgrims were moving forward, watched by several burly monks, and touching the pillar at shoulder level.

“The hand of Christ touched the pillar,” Juan whispered reverently. “He turned the church a bit north of east, and the pillar bears His mark.”

Why would He do that? I thought, looking at the younger man. And then I thought to myself – He really believes that. This is an age where God goes right ahead and puts His hand on anything He feels needs it and leaves His mark behind.

And what, I added silently to myself, will this thing look like in seven hundred years?


The Pórtico

At UCLA, there’s an ongoing project that has developed a “fly-through” of Santiago as it would have been in that time. Click the picture below to see – and hear – this amazing video.


Pictures and sound

The reason Ian is in Santiago, however, is neither to pay homage to Saint James, nor to take in the sights of the cathedral – but to experience a spiritual revelation: the first initiation. Though Ian doesn’t know it yet, he is taking the first step of the esoteric pilgrimage.

Place: Santiago de Compostela, Galicia
Heavenly Body: The Moon
Pilgrim’s Title: Initiate
Correspondences: Bronze; Beech Tree; the Raven

September 21, 2007

The Pilgrimage

Filed under: A Song In Stone, Research, Writing — admin @ 10:55

This is the second post about things and places in my upcoming novel, A Song In Stone, to be published in November 2008.

Our Story So Far

Ian Graham, the protagonist of the novel, visits Rosslyn as part of an assignment to do a television documentary, and because he can hear the “healing music” encoded in the stones of the Lady Chapel, he is transported back to the fourteenth century – and not only that, but he’s awoken in Santiago de Compostela in Galicia (in the northwest part of modern Spain); and it’s the most important day of the year – the feast-day of Saint James (Santiago Matamoros), companion of Jesus, whose tomb is placed behind the high altar.

Santiago

Like most modern folks – including most readers of this blog, I’d guess – Ian knows nothing about Santiago. But in the fourteenth century, it was a pilgrimage destination every bit as popular as Rome (not a particularly safe place in 1307 – the reigning Pope hadn’t even set foot in the city) and Jerusalem (even more dangerous, since it had been lost to the Saracens). But it was a long way from everywhere.


The Road to Santiago

For most people undertaking the journey, it was three or four months’ walk along the pilgrims’ roads, starting in France (or points beyond). There were regular stops – shrines and churches and monasteries, hostels and festivals – with the objective of arriving in Santiago on, or before, the saint’s feast day of 25 July. But there was another pilgrimage, the esoteric pilgrimage, that began at Santiago and ended at Rosslyn. For the purposes of this book, I associated it with the Order of the Temple.

Where It Comes From

My account of the esoteric pilgrimage is based loosely on Rosslyn, Guardian of the Secrets of the Holy Grail, a book I picked up at Rosslyn. It goes without saying that it is as likely a work of fiction as the novel that I structured around its descriptions, but it does make for fascinating reading. Wallace-Murphy and Hopkins assemble considerable circumstantial and “mythic” evidence on the various parts of the pilgrimage, as well as describing their own experiences at each of the sites.

Having planted my feet firmly on the ground in the paragraph above, let me observe that it’s not entirely without historical background. As Ian notes, there are seashells (pilgrim badges) from Santiago on display in the Rosslyn sacristy, and people did make the journey to each of the “Oracles” . . . and are still doing it. Here are the principal pilgrimage sites and their associated “celestial sphere”:

Site City Sphere
Cathedral of Compostela Santiago Moon
Notre-Dame la Dalbade Toulouse Mercury
Cathedral Sainte-Croix Orléans Venus
Notre-Dame de Chartres Chartres Sun
Notre-Dame de Paris Paris Mars
Notre-Dame de Amiens Amiens Jupiter
Rosslyn Chapel Rosslyn Saturn

Remember that the medieval conception of the heavens consisted of a number of concentric spheres with the Earth at the center, the sun and moon as planets, and Saturn as the end of the solar system. This was the Ptolemaic view, and it prevailed until Copernicus dumped it in the trash bin in the fifteenth century.

Ian is introduced to the esoteric pilgrimage at Santiago – but he immediately realizes that there’s a terrible problem:

“You must travel the pilgrim road. That’s the only way.”

“Until I reach the final destination. Which is?”

“Rosslyn.”

“Wait. That’s not possible – Rosslyn wasn’t built until the 1440s. If Rosslyn is the destination, how am I supposed to get to it in 1307?”

Ian has only one thing to hang on to as a twenty-first-century man in the fourteenth century: his guide is the same man who gave him the tour of Rosslyn Chapel – Rob Madson. Except that he’s Robert de la Maison here, a transplanted Scot . . . and a confrère in the Order of the Temple. And Ian, it appears, is a Templar initiate.

And 1307 Is Important Because . . .

On 13 October 1307, after extensive secret preparations, King Philip IV (”the Fair”) arrested the Templars on charges of heresy, sodomy and apostasy, seizing all of their property and lands. Most other nations in the Christian world did the same. After seven years’ imprisonment, the Templars that hadn’t died under torture or of other causes were burned at the stake in 1314. One of them was the last Grand Master, Jacques de Molay.


It Ended Badly.

Legend has it that while the flames were consuming him, de Molay repeated his innocence and called both King Philip IV and Pope Clement V to meet him before the throne of heaven before a year was out. Within that year both were dead; Clement had been suffering from what might have been bowel cancer, but Philip was a strong man in the prime of life. This story is probably fiction made up after the fact, but it makes for good drama.

The Seven Initiations

The purpose of the pilgrimage was to visit religious sites, but particular ones: in Santiago, Toulouse, Orléans, Chartres, Paris, Amiens and Rosslyn. Together these seven formed the Camino de las estrellas – the road of the stars, anchored by the two ends in Santiago and Rosslyn. Each “Oracle” represents another step along the path of “light”.

The fact that there isn’t any Rosslyn yet – neither Ian’s guide Rob, nor anyone else other than 21st-century Ian, knows anything about it – means that no one in 1307 (or before) has actually completed the entire pilgrimage. It ends at the Jupiter Oracle in Amiens. It will take someone who can reach Rosslyn . . . assuming he’s able to get back to his own time. And at the outset, only Ian knows that there’s a deadline: 13 October, when King Philip moves against the Templars.

September 19, 2007

Storm a Castle With Bare Hands

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 13:39

What will they think of next?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdSbU5rJ7wU]

Thanks to Cyndi for pointing me at this.

September 17, 2007

Robert Jordan (James Rigney), Author, 1948-2007

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 15:11

James Rigney passed today, September 16, at 2:45 pm. The following was posted on his blog by his cousin: It is with great sadness that I tell you that the Dragon is gone. RJ left us today at 2:45 PM . . .

The full text can be found here. Say what you will about the glacial pace, the fractal plotting, or whatever you like – the man wrote best sellers.

Jordan’s blog is very slow, and the Tar Valon fan site is more informative. The twelfth (and, apparently, last) book in the Dragon Reborn series is thoroughly outlined, and partially written; it will be finished and published.

Deepest and sincerest condolences to his family, from mine. 59 is far too young to die; it’s disturbingly close to my own age.

September 16, 2007

Rosslyn – Impressions

Filed under: A Song In Stone, Commentary, Freemasonry, Writing — admin @ 23:21

This is the first post about things and places from my forthcoming novel, A Song In Stone.

Inspiration

In the summer of 2005, I had the opportunity to visit Rosslyn Chapel, an extraordinary site just seven miles from Edinburgh. The final scenes in the best-selling novel The DaVinci Code take place there; it’s said to be the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant and the Grail, among other things. It also has Masonic and Knight Templar connections.

My tour guide that day was a fellow Mason, who was very knowledgeable about the place – both the traditional lore and the somewhat more esoteric stories. While I was standing with him in the northeast corner of the chapel – highly significant, that, as my fellow Masons will attest – he and I had a conversation similar to the one below.


My Rosslyn guide.

“Look up there,” he said, pointing to the ceilings. I could see the pendant bosses hanging down from the place where four arched supports met; each arch was decorated with hundreds of boxlike projections and an assortment of carvings and decorations – animal and human figures, angels and devils, nature emblems and Green men.

“Extraordinary,” I managed.

“Unlike anything else,” he said. “There are countless numbers of places of worship, holy places, all across Europe and the world. But this is different, Ian. This is not merely a work of art: it’s a text written in stone. More than that – it’s a song.”

“I don’t quite get your meaning. A song?”

“Take a look around the arches. There are seven slightly different shapes for those boxes. There are seven notes in the scale. In fact, if you’ve a good ear, you could strike each of them and hear a slightly different sound.

“Now imagine if all of them – there are more than fourteen hundred – were arranged as music . . . It’s the healing music of Rosslyn,” Madson said softly, looking away from me as if he were trying to remember something.

“I don’t think that was in my briefing.”

“No, it wouldn’t be,” he said. “But if it could be found . . .”

“What happens then?”

“It heals the world.”

. . . And, as sometimes happens in my line of work, I had a moment of inspiration. A song, I thought. A whole plot dropped into my head; what if that song was truly the key to healing the world – what if it unlocked something of great importance? People have been trying to unlock the music for centuries; someone claims he’s actually done it, though my guide suggests that this falls short of the true “healing music”. But if the music was more complex, there might be an even more complex reason for it to have been encoded in the stones of the Chapel.

From such small things are great things born. By the time I headed for home a week and a half later, I’d sketched out a plot for a new novel; by Labor Day there were five chapters. Within a year, there was an entire book. The contract has just been signed, and it will be published in the fall of 2008 – the first book I’ve written that isn’t part of the Dark Wing universe. The quoted portion above is from that book.

About Rosslyn

“Prince William, his age creeping on him, came to consider how he had spent his times past, and how he was to spend his remaining days. Therefore, to the end, that he might not seem altogether unthankful to God for the benefices he received from Him, it came into his mind to build a house for God’s service, of most curious work, the which that it might be done with greater glory and splendour he caused artificers to be brought from other regions and foreign kingdoms and caused daily to be abundance of all kinds of workmen present as masons, carpenters, smiths, barrowmen and quarriers … ” – from Father Hay’s account of the founding of the chapel.

The chapel at Rosslyn is wrapped in mystery, from its founding to its present day appearance in novels. Sir William St Clair, third and last St Clair Earl of Orkney, began the construction of a collegiate chapel that remained unfinished at his death in 1484. If, as the account says, Sir William’s intent was simply to glorify God – why did he build this extraordinary structure and fill it with carvings of all kinds? And why did he build it here?

Ask Rob Madson in A Song In Stone:

“I understand that this building was intended to be only a part of a larger one and it was never completed. But . . . why build it here? It’s a good ways from the castle, not terribly convenient for a collegiate chapel at all.”

“William St. Clair chose this spot for a reason,” he said. “Like so many holy places, Rosslyn Chapel is built upon another, earlier place. If the Templars did come here, they chose this place for a reason as well.”

“There was a pagan temple here?”

“Almost certainly. And in the Celtic tradition, even more so than in the Roman one, there’s a remarkable amount of syncretism. You see it all over the Isles. My native Tiree has all sorts of sanctified places that were holy long before Columba reached Iona.”

He placed his hand on the Master’s Pillar, touching it almost reverently. “You see, Ian, the new religion doesn’t replace the old – it molds it to a new shape. As you walk around this place look at the walls, the pillars, the ceilings. Green men, nature symbolism, pagan emblems. Even the dimensions of the place have meaning.”

Even the dimensions have meaning. As I began to plan out the plot of A Song In Stone, I became more and more aware of the strange field of sacred geometry – the way in which medieval builders created remarkable structures without resorting to advanced mathematics, computer-aided design, or any other modern convenience. There is a great confluence between the Gothic architectural style and the mathematics of music. It shows at Rosslyn, at the great cathedrals such as Chartres (explored later in the book, and to be described in a later post) . . . and at Rosslyn as well.

Rosslyn is rightly called a “mystery chapel” – and it deserves better than to be an anticlimactic footnote. From the Lady Chapel to the decorated ceiling, from the pillars to the sacristy, Rosslyn is full of little mysteries waiting to be discovered.

For example, during his tour of the Chapel, my principal character, Ian Graham, notices two carved figures at either end of a plinth.

. . . a stone plinth with an upright stone, like a grave-stone, set into it. At either end was a carved statue of a man; one had his index- and ring-fingers pointing to his mouth, and the other stood with his hands pressed palms-inward to his chest, one above the other.

These, and other images, appear elsewhere in Ian’s travels, and elsewhere in the story. Rosslyn is a numinous place, a sacred site – it impressed me from the moment I stepped inside. Since visiting there in 2005, I’ve concluded that The DaVinci Code brought a lot of tourist traffic to Rosslyn, but the book didn’t do the place justice.

I hope that A Song In Stone is worthy of it.

Calendar

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 23:04

I’ve added a calendar to the sidebar, which includes sessions for my roleplaying game, as well as conventions and other activities.

Context 20, Columbus, Ohio

Filed under: Commentary, Walter\'s Schedule — admin @ 22:06

I’m at Context 20, in Columbus, Ohio.

Usn’s Run, Bellingham, MA

Filed under: Commentary, Walter\'s Schedule — admin @ 22:04
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