Reblog: Resurrecting the Bones of the Past—the LONG Past…Will We See Huge Hairy Beasts Roaming the Earth Once Again? And, If So, Why?

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Photo by Scott Atwood (Flickr).

Let’s Bring the Wooly Mammoth Back from the Dead…?

“Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they never stopped to consider whether or not they should.” 

– Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) from the film Jurassic Park

Scientists say creating hybrids of the extinct beasts could fix the Arctic tundra and stop greenhouse gas emissions

If you managed to time travel back to Ice-Age Europe, you might be forgiven for thinking you had instead crash landed in some desolate part of the African savannah. But the chilly temperatures and the presence of six-ton shaggy beasts with extremely long tusks would confirm you really were in the Pleistocene epoch, otherwise known as the Ice Age. You’d be visiting the mammoth steppe, an environment that stretched from Spain across Eurasia and the Bering Strait to Canada. It was covered in grass, largely devoid of trees and populated by bison, reindeer, tigers and the eponymous “woolly” mammoth.

Unfortunately, both mammoth and most of the mammoth steppe ecosystem today have long but disappeared. But a group of geneticists from Harvard are hoping to change this by cloning living elephant cells that contain a small component of synthesised mammoth DNA. They claim that reintroducing such mammoth-like creatures to Arctic tundra environments could help stop the release of greenhouse gases from the ground and reduce future emissions as temperatures rise due to climate change. While this might sound like a far-fetched idea, scientists have actually been experimenting with something similar for over 20 years.

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Photo by Gabriel Casamasso.

Arctic lands are covered by areas of ground known as permafrost that have been frozen since the Pleistocene. Permafrost contains vast amounts of carbon from dead plant life that is locked away by the extremely cold temperatures. The amount of carbon in these frozen stores is estimated to be about twice as much as that currently in the atmosphere. If it thaws out, microbes will break down soil organic material to release carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere.

As a result, permafrost and the associated carbon pools have been likened to “sleeping giants” in our climate system. If they wake up, the resulting greenhouse gas emissions would raise global temperatures even further than currently projected, causing even greater global climate change (a process known as positive feedback).

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Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories—A Fascinating New Book of Stories by World Fantasy Award-Winning Author, Kelley Barnhill—A Must-Read!

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I just started this book and I am amazed at its quality and style, intelligence, and sophisticated sense of humor. I love the first story, “Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch”, so much, I had to say now: this story alone is worth the price of the book! So go, quick, buy it! 😊

Stories, good short stories with wit and creativity, are hard to find nowadays. I have always seen them as the best fruit, way at the top of the highest trees. The lower stuff is OK. Some of it is very good, even. But, it’s the upper-most fruit that is the sweetest and the sustenance you will remember most often.

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Art by Chris Buzelli for Tor.com.

From “Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch”…

The day she buried her husband—a good man, by all accounts, though shy, not given to drink or foolishness; not one for speeding tickets or illegal parking or cheating on his taxes; not one for carousing at the county fair, or tomcatting with the other men from the glass factory; which is to say, he was utterly unknown in town: a cipher; a cold, blank space—Agnes Sorensen arrived at the front steps of Our Lady of the Snows. The priest was waiting for her at the open door. The air was sweet and wet with autumn rot, and though it had rained earlier, the day was starting to brighten, and would surely be lovely in an hour or two. Mrs. Sorensen greeted the priest with a sad smile. She wore a smart black hat, sensible black shoes, and a black silk shirt belted into a slim crepe skirt. Two little white mice peeked out of her left breast pocket—two tiny shocks of fur with pink, quivering noses and red, red tongues.
The priest, an old fellow by the name of Laurence, took her hands and gave a gentle squeeze. He was surprised by the mice. The mice, on the other hand, were not at all surprised to see him. They inclined their noses a little farther over the lip of the shirt pocket, to get a better look. Their whiskers were as pale and bright as sunbeams. They looked at one another and turned in unison toward the face of the old priest. And though he knew it was impossible, it seemed to Father Laurence that the mice were smiling at him. He swallowed.
“Mrs. Sorensen,” he said, clearing his throat.
“Mmm?” she said, looking at her watch. She glanced over her shoulder and whistled. A very large dog rounded the tall hedge, followed by an almost-as-large raccoon and a perfectly tiny cat.
“We can’t—” but his voice failed him.
(2018, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill)

Read Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch, free, here, at Tor.com:

https://www.tor.com/2014/10/08/mrs-sorensen-and-the-sasquatch-kelly-barnhill/

I’m on Story 2 now: “Open the Door and the Light Pours Through”, and it’s wonderul, too! I’m very glad to have discovered Kelly Barnhill, and I was eager to share her with you. You’ll love the authoritative voice, the thoughtful prose, the lovely characterization. And damn is that a cool cover!

I love to support great writers. Won’t you join me?

Here is Barnhil’s website and her post re: Dreadful Young Ladies. Following that link, is some info on the author and an interview, story synopses, &tc.—oh, and where to buy the book.

Magical.

🌱

Read Kelly Barnhill’s post about the new book, via Oh. Right. I have a new book.


About the Author

Books Newbery Caldecott

Kelly Barnhill is an American author of children’s literature, fantasy, and science fiction. Her novel The Girl Who Drank the Moon was awarded the 2017 Newbery Medal. Barnhill has received writing fellowships from the Jerome Foundation and the Minnesota State Arts Board and was a 2015 McKnight Writing Fellow in Children’s Literature.

She is the winner of the Parents Choice Gold Award, the Texas Library Association Bluebonnet award, and a Charlotte Huck Honor. She also was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award, the Andre Norton Award and the PEN/USA literary prize. In 2016, her novella The Unlicensed Magician received the World Fantasy Award for Long Fiction.

In 2017, her novel The Girl Who Drank the Moon was awarded the John Newbery Medal by the American Library Association.

Barnhill’s books include The Unlicensed Magician, The Witch’s Boy, Iron-Hearted Violet, The Mostly True Story of Jack, and The Girl Who Drank The Moon, and several non-fiction titles for children.

Read more, here:

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Current Read: The Child Finder, a Literary Mystery by Rene Denfeld—I really like this book!

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The prose is clean and well done—the story: a very sad and, more and more, a common one, is intensified by the protagonist—a young woman who basically “specializes” in finding missing children.

Here’s a prose sample (image, left)…

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From Amazon…

‘A haunting, richly atmospheric, and deeply suspenseful novel from the acclaimed author of The Enchanted about an investigator who must use her unique insights to find a missing little girl.

“Where are you, Madison Culver? Flying with the angels, a silver speck on a wing? Are you dreaming, buried under snow? Or—is it possible—you are still alive?”

Three years ago, Madison Culver disappeared when her family was choosing a Christmas tree in Oregon’s Skookum National Forest. She would be eight-years-old now—if she has survived. Desperate to find their beloved daughter, certain someone took her, the Culvers turn to Naomi, a private investigator with an uncanny talent for locating the lost and missing. Known to the police and a select group of parents as “the Child Finder,” Naomi is their last hope.

Naomi’s methodical search takes her deep into the icy, mysterious forest in the Pacific Northwest, and into her own fragmented past. She understands children like Madison because once upon a time, she was a lost girl, too.

As Naomi relentlessly pursues and slowly uncovers the truth behind Madison’s disappearance, shards of a dark dream pierce the defenses that have protected her, reminding her of a terrible loss she feels but cannot remember. If she finds Madison, will Naomi ultimately unlock the secrets of her own life?

Told in the alternating voices of Naomi and a deeply imaginative child, The Child Finder is a breathtaking, exquisitely rendered literary page-turner about redemption, the line between reality and memories and dreams, and the human capacity to survive.’

Get the book and others by this author, here:

Books by Rene Denfeld at Amazon.com

“The Brown Wasps”—A Thoughtful, Heart-Aching Essay by the Late Anthropologist, Loren Eiseley…

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The Brown Wasps

Loren Eiseley, 1969

“The Brown Wasps” was published in 1971 in Eiseley’s essay collection The Night Country.

There is a corner in the waiting room of one of the great Eastern stations where women never sit. It is always in the shadow and overhung by rows of lockers. It is, however, always frequented‌—‌not so much by genuine travelers as by the dying. It is here that a certain element of the abandoned poor seeks a refuge out of the weather, clinging for a few hours longer to the city that has fathered them. In a precisely similar manner I have seen, on a sunny day in midwinter, a few old brown wasps creep slowly over an abandoned wasp nest in a thicket. Numbed and forgetful and frost-blackened, the hum of the spring hive still resounded faintly in their sodden tissues. Then the temperature would fall and they would drop away into the white oblivion of the snow. Here in the station it is in no way different save that the city is busy in its snows. But the old ones cling to their seats as though these were symbolic and could not be given up. Now and then they sleep, their gray old heads resting with painful awkwardness on the backs of the benches.

Also they are not at rest. For an hour they may sleep in the gasping exhaustion of the ill-nourished and aged who have to walk in the night. Then a policeman comes by on his round and nudges them upright.

“You can’t sleep here,” he growls.

A strange ritual then begins. An old man is difficult to waken. After a muttered conversation the policeman presses a coin into his hand and passes fiercely along the benches prodding and gesturing toward the door. In his wake, like birds rising and settling behind the passage of a farmer through a cornfield, the men totter up, move a few paces, and subside once more upon the benches.

One man, after a slight, apologetic lurch, does not move at all. Tubercularly thin, he sleeps on steadily. The policeman does not look back. To him, too, this has become a ritual. He will not have to notice it again officially for another hour.

Once in a while one of the sleepers will not awake. Like the brown wasps, he will have had his wish to die in the great droning center of the hive rather than in some lonely room. It is not so bad here with the shuffle of footsteps and the knowledge that there are others who share the bad luck of the world. There are also the whistles and the sounds of everyone, everyone in the world, starting on journeys. Amidst so many journeys somebody is bound to come out all right. Somebody.

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“The Festival”—A Cult Horror Story by H. P. Lovecraft, Full Text & Facsimilie Pages of Lovecraft’s Final Draft as Submitted to the Publisher

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“Lovecraft’s ‘The Festival’. Art by SPARATIK @ Deviantart.com.

The Festival

H. P. Lovecraft

“Efficiunt Daemones, ut quae non sunt, sic tamen
quasi sint, conspicienda hominibus exhibeant.”
—Lactantius.


I was far from home, and the spell of the eastern sea was upon me. In the twilight I heard it pounding on the rocks, and I knew it lay just over the hill where the twisting willows writhed against the clearing sky and the first stars of evening. And because my fathers had called me to the old town beyond, I pushed on through the shallow, new-fallen snow along the road that soared lonely up to where Aldebaran twinkled among the trees; on toward the very ancient town I had never seen but often dreamed of.

It was the Yuletide, that men call Christmas though they know in their hearts it is older than Bethlehem and Babylon, older than Memphis and mankind. It was the Yuletide, and I had come at last to the ancient sea town where my people had dwelt and kept festival in the elder time when festival was forbidden; where also they had commanded their sons to keep festival once every century, that the memory of primal secrets might not be forgotten. Mine were an old people, and were old even when this land was settled three hundred years before. And they were strange, because they had come as dark furtive folk from opiate southern gardens of orchids, and spoken another tongue before they learnt the tongue of the blue-eyed fishers. And now they were scattered, and shared only the rituals of mysteries that none living could understand. I was the only one who came back that night to the old fishing town as legend bade, for only the poor and the lonely remember.

Then beyond the hill’s crest I saw Kingsport outspread frostily in the gloaming; snowy Kingsport with its ancient vanes and steeples, ridgepoles and chimney-pots, wharves and small bridges, willow-trees and graveyards; endless labyrinths of steep, narrow, crooked streets, and dizzy church-crowned central peak that time durst not touch; ceaseless mazes of colonial houses piled and scattered at all angles and levels like a child’s disordered blocks; antiquity hovering on grey wings over winter-whitened gables and gambrel roofs; fanlights and small-paned windows one by one gleaming out in the cold dusk to join Orion and the archaic stars. And against the rotting wharves the sea pounded; the secretive, immemorial sea out of which the people had come in the elder time.

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Beyond the Veil: The Fiction of Arthur Machen–An Essay

Left: An early paperback edition of Machen’s fiction; right: Oxford Univ. Press 2018 edition.

from a 2011 essay by Michael Dirda see link to the full article after the post…

‘H.P. Lovecraft, the American master of supernatural fiction, once described Arthur Machen (1863 – 1947) as the author of “some dozen tales long and short, in which the elements of hidden horror and brooding fright attain an almost incomparable substance and realistic acuteness.” With his first major story, “The Great God Pan” (1894), Machen mixed together transgressive scientific experiments, pagan survivals, a heartless, only half-human femme fatale, and a fantasmagoric climax involving protoplasmic reversion. To this day, just saying that title — “The Great God Pan” — makes me shiver.

As Philip Van Doren Stern noted in his introduction to the 1948 Machen omnibus Tales of Horror and the Supernatural, the Welsh author “did not write a single ghost story.” Instead, “he wrote of things more ancient even than ghosts,…for Machen dealt with the elemental forces of evil, with spells that outlast time, and with the malign powers of folklore and fairy tale.” His work repeatedly underscores the thin line between the material world of appearances and a darker occult reality. As one of his characters poetically says:

Now I know that the walls of sense that seemed so impenetrable, that seemed to loom up above the heaven and to be founded below the depths, and to shut us in for evermore, are no such everlasting impassable barriers as we fancied, but thinnest and most airy veils that melt away before the seeker and dissolve as the early mist in the morning about the brooks.

In Machen’s central mythology a squat, malevolent race of primordial beings survives to the present day, lurking in hills and forests and caves. Machen describes their characteristics most fully in “The Novel of the Black Seal” when its narrator happens upon an old Latin treatise and makes the following translation:

The folk…dwells in remote and secret places, and celebrates foul mysteries on savage hills. Nothing have they in common with men save the face, and the customs of humanity are wholly strange to them; and they hate the sun. They hiss rather than speak; their voices are harsh, and not to be heard without fear. They boast of a certain stone, which they call Sixtystone; for they say that it displays sixty characters. And this stone has a secret unspeakable name, which is Ixaxar.

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“The Happy Children”—A Ghostly Little Story of Whitby Abbey & Its Environs by Welsh Writer & Mystic Arthur Machen (1863 – 1947) w/ Intro & Links

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An old glass slide showing the ruins of the Norman abbey at Whitby as viewed through the graves in the churchyard. Photographer unknown. (Whitbypopwatch.blogpost.com)

“I saw the wonder of the town in the light of the afterglow that was red in the west. The clouds blossomed into rose-gardens; there were seas of fairy green that swam about isles of crimson light; there were clouds like spears of flame, like dragons of fire. And under the mingling lights and colours of such a sky, Banwick went down to the pools of its land-locked harbour, and climbed again across the bridge towards the ruined abbey…and the great church on the hill.”

– Arthur Machen, from “The Happy Children”

About the Piece

Welsh author Arthur Machen (1863-1947) is best known as a writer of supernatural and occult fiction. A contemporary of Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde, he also influenced the likes of H. P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro (Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark). Machen’s most famous works include the novella The Great God Pan (1894), the novel The Three Impostors (1895) and the novel The Hill Of Dreams (1907), but it was his work as a journalist for the London paper The Evening News that would lead him to visit Whitby in November 1916.

The visit was arranged ostensibly for Machen to write an article on the town’s resurgent jet industry, which had seen a revival due to the wartime fashion for wearing mourning jewellery. But what really fascinated him was the town itself, regarding it as beautiful and unspoilt, he would later compare it favourably to seeing the view of Avignon from Rhone; ‘It was wonderful, but I do not know it more wonderful than Whitby as I saw it a few days ago’. It was this enthusiasm for the place that inspired him to write “The Happy Children”, a ghostly tale set in the town of Banwick.

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