Early Egyptian Administration

New finds at Edfu in Egypt show how ancient Egyptian society used grain as a currency. They discovered a huge silo where grain was stored – in effect the bank for the city!

I think this is a useful insight into how ancient civilisation works and a reminder for fantasy world builders that currency doesn’t have to be traditional coinage, but a note of both realism and difference can be brought to world creation by thinking laterally – what would the society actually value and be able to use as a form of exchange.

Galileo’s Children: Tales of Science vs Superstition

Saw a review of this anthology at Realms of Speculative Fiction – looks like a very interesting read. I’m especially interested in this one as it comes close to the theme of my own writing in my Ladmas/Arruld fantasy/SF world.

Stories include:

The Stars Below (1974) by Ursula K. LeGuin
The Will of God (1991) by Keith Roberts
The Way of Cross and Dragon (1979) by George R.R. Martin
The Pope of the Chimps (1982) by Robert Silverberg
The World is a Sphere (1973) by Edgar Pangborn
Written in Blood (1999) by Chris Lawson
Falling Star (2004) by Brendan DuBois
Three Hearings on the Existence of Snakes in the Human Bloodstream (1997) by James Alan Gardner
The Star (1955) by Arthur C. Clarke
The Last Homosexual (1996) by Paul Park
The Man Who Walked Home (1972) by James Tiptree Jr.
When the Old Gods Die (1995) by Mike Resnick
Oracle (2000) by Greg Egan

North American Civilisation news

No this isn’t a contradiction in terms! Some interesting research has come out recently covering two aspects of early civilisation in North America.

Firstly it’s claimed that large mammals, woolly mammoth and others, became extinct in North America due to an exploding asteroid, rather than the usual explanation of over hunting. The extinction of large mammals is usually given as a reason by the likes of Jared Diamond and others as one of the reasons North America peoples didn’t develop a settled civilisation as quickly as Eurasia. If you read the research story this theory about an asteroid does sound plausible!

Secondly another piece of research claims that the first people to settle North America – known as the Clovis civilisation came from Europe over the Kankakee Sand Islands. Arrowheads found match exactly those found in Europe. The previous theory was that Americans came from Siberia over the Bering Strait land bridge – there are a number of genetic and cultural similarities that back up the Bering Strait theory.

It’s interesting that these two items come at the same time – the first one actually puts the second discovery into context. As well as wiping out mammoths the asteroid is also blamed for destroying the Clovis civilisation – so maybe the Clovis people did come from Europe a bit before Siberians came over the Bering Strait, but by the time they came the Clovis people weren’t around anyway. So the previous theory may still stand that North American indigenous peoples are descended from emigrants from Siberia.

Dan Simmons The Terror edition from Subterranean Press announced

I’ve heard The Terror is excellent and sounds like it’s well worth a limited Subterranean Press edition. Also in the same news story its mentioned that Dan Simmons contributed a 26,000 word novella to the new Songs of Dying Earth anthology tribute to Jack Vance. I’m looking forward to getting my copy of this even more now!

Get an advanced copy of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book

A nifty idea for a book promotion – suggest your own 25 word epitaph for your tombstone! Subterranean Press are running this promo for Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book.

Website for the book is here.

My epitaph is:

A man of talent and wit,
Writer of words sad yet funny.
Some said “a shame he didn’t see fit
To ever write a check to us for our money”.