Tag Archives: Bkwyrm

Dune: House Atreides

Julianus reviews Dune: House Atreides by Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson in the Bkwyrm archive.

This is, of course, a prequel to Frank Herbert’s classic saga, written by his son. You really have to feel for Brian here, since he really can’t win as he sets himself to add on to one of the most complex and beloved novels of the century. As far as I’m concerned Frank Herbert himself never really did a proper job on his own sequels, so what hope do we have here?

Set about forty years before the events of Dune, this is basically a collection of interconnected narratives about the characters it that book and how they got where they were. Leto Atreides is a teenager being sent to an allied world for his education, Vladimir Harkonnen is thin (!) but still his familiar decadent self, Shaddam is an impatient Crown Prince, and the Bene Gesserit are just beginning to arrange the conception of Jessica. There is no real plot holding all this together, just threads leading to the start of the original novel.

The real problem here is that despite all the best efforts the whole book just feels wrong. Many of the events seem quite outlandish, the characters are way too familiar with secrets that were/will be hidden from them in Dune, and worst of all they talk wrong. In Frank’s novel we were transported to a milieu that was far removed from our own where people had very different attitudes and manners. Brian and Kevin make them talk like Americans and they even use catch-phrases like “think outside the box!”

If you’re a Dune fanatic you will probably want to read this, but I’d suggest you borrow a copy and save your money for something better.

Find this book at Amazon, Abebooks, or Powell’s

Dreamtime Is Upon Us

Phil Hine reviews Dreamtime Is Upon Us, The Second Annual Report of the Association of Autonomous Astronauts, in the Bkwyrm archive.

The AAA is a worldwide network dedicated to local, community-based space exploration programs. Dreamtime is Upon Us is the second annual report of what the various AAA groups have been doing in order to further their goals. My initial impression was that of ‘anarcho-situationists in space’ but the AAA is much more than that. Particularly intriguing is Luther Blissett’s contribution “Sex in Space” and the XXX Foundation’s $1 million prize offered to the first privately-funded group to send a craft into sub-orbital space (about 60 miles up) and engage in sexual intercourse! Also of note is the report from Raido AAA who tell us that commercial ‘space tourism’ is being predicted by 2010 and that the Catholic Church is looking forwards to meeting with aliens – in order to convert them to Christianity!

If you’re interested in space, but depressed by the thought that the final frontier has been already sewn up by the military-industrial combine, the AAA offers several alternative directions. Get Dreamtime is Upon Us and get with the program!

Note: this and other annual reports are available on ASAN’s annual reports page.

Drawing Down the Moon

Bkwyrm reviews Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today by Margot Adler in the Bkwyrm archive.

First written in the late seventies, updated in 1986, this book has become a classic. It details Adler’s journey through much of the world’s Pagan community, and contains interviews and observations. A reference work more than a workbook or instruction book, it can be found on many Pagan shelves. It is out of date by a long shot, but still an interesting work. Some folks don’t like it, as it accurately depicts some of the dissensions in the community over issues such as theology, philosophy, and ethics.

Publishing Note: The 1995 edition has some tremendously annoying typeface mistakes, with line after line blurry, bolded, or in italics for no reason at all. The new 1997 edition appears to be free of these mistakes.

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Dark Knights of the Solar Cross

Phil Hine reviews Dark Knights of the Solar Cross by Geoffrey Basil Smith in the Bkwyrm archives.

In this fascinating little book Geoffrey Basil Smith sets out to untangle the roots of modern occult movements. Beginning with a look at Benjamin Creme’s “Maitreya” movement, he launches into an exploration of the beginnings of the Theosophical Society and its offshoots. He then goes on to explore the unfolding of the Rosicrucian organisations, particularly the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and the Ordo Templis Orientis. Mr. Smith manages to deal with a most convoluted subject with a precise brevity of phrase which is to be applauded. Anyone interested in the history of modern occultism will find this a worthy addition to their library.

Daily Life of the Egyptian Gods

Julianus reviews Daily Life of the Egyptian Gods by Dimitri Meeks and Christine Favard-Meeks in the Bkwyrm archive.

This book uses an interesting methodology: it treats the Egyptian Gods as an ethnic group subject to anthropological study much as one might have studied the Egyptians themselves. The authors apparently decided on this approach after noting that most scholarship on Egyptian religion shed more light on the scholars’ biases than on the supposed subject, a phenomenon nicely described in the Introduction. The Meeks have therefore relied on surviving texts and inscriptions (a full participant-observer approach being rather difficult!) to describe the Gods, their origins, customs, and mode of life, as well as the human afterlife. Extensive reconstructions of Egyptian ritual are also included. This book thus forms an excellent detailed resource for students of Egyptian mythology.

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Condensed Chaos

Bkwyrm reviews Condensed Chaos: An Introduction to Chaos Magic by Phil Hine in the Bkwyrm archive.

I really don’t have all that much to say about this book. But, hey, I’m reviewing it anyway. It’s readable – the concepts are presented in a logical fashion, the material inside is interesting, it’s not filled with goofy illustrations. If I had to pick one book that I thought was the best introduction to chaos magic that was currently in print, I’d choose this one. I’m sure there are arguments for Carroll’s books, for other author’s works, but I’m sticking with Phil Hine.

Ten chapters, appended by a reading list, contain most of the information that anyone learning about chaos magic would want. Whether chaos is magic, or if it’s just random; why people practice magic in a world that is increasingly scientific; what a magician is, and what s/he does; the D.R.A.T. (discipline, relaxation, attention, transformation) formula for magical working; specific information on chaos magic, on chaos servitors, and on ego magic. There’s a chapter on evocation, which is well worth reading and an excellent introduction to the topic of why anyone would evoke a godform in the first place. Finally, there is information on self-examination and personal transformation. The book does contain specific instructions for ritual and meditation, exercise, relaxation, etc. Even absolute beginners will get something out of Hine’s book. Well worth reading, even if you aren’t interested in chaos magic.

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Comparative Mythology

Julianus reviews Comparative Mythology by Jaan Puhvel in the Bkwyrm archive.

This book focuses primarily on the Indo-European cultures with some reference to the ancient Near-East. The author displays a comprehensive grasp of his subject as he traces common themes from Ireland to India. Using a combination of historical linguistics (some knowledge of the subject will help the reader here) and comparison of myths and epics he provides what might almost be a genealogy of archetypes in the Indo-European psyche, archetypes that are still very much alive. I was particularly struck by a kind of reverse-Euhemerism the author often uses: rather than saying that the gods are simply mythologized mortals, he frequently reveals the mortals in various epics to be “historicized” gods. He also thankfully does not try to reduce everything to one pet theory. Due to the extensive cross-referencing of material the reader may wish to go through the book twice in order to catch all the connections. If you want to know more than the usual generalization that “the Indo-Europeans worshipped a patriarchal sky-god,” or want to flesh out 777, then this is definitely the book for you.

Find it at Amazon, Abebooks, or Powell’s.