MetaCognitions | A Perfect Storm – Post-Florence

Vanakkam. I enjoy blogging, and have done so ever since adopting the current posting schedule for Tuesdays and Thursdays nearly every week.

I’d like to be able to maintain that consistently, but a perfect storm of events last week conspired to keep me away from WordPress’s editing window, namely my birthday celebration with family (I’m now 54 years of age and still kicking, thank you.), home renovations, reestablishing our family presence at home after mandatory evacuation from our street during Hurricane Florence, and the publishing of my new book, The Giant who Fell from the Dark beyond the Sky: And Other Collected Works which went live after pre-orders ended on the 19th. I’m glad I finally got that done, and on time!

Here’s the cover art and link to the book on Amazon for Kindle:


So, it’s back to the paradigm, and I’ll be scheduling posts from here on, at least into the first few weeks of October. I’ve begun drafts for new non-fiction material, some of it in keeping with this blog’s skeptical bent, to be published when each is complete and ready. Study is mostly done for September, to be renewed on the first weekday of next month. So far so good, it’s been a mostly sustainable schedule that doesn’t put my health at risk. Not a perfect one, but a good one. I never expect perfection, a manifestly unreasonable standard in my view.

One more thing …

I’ve started a monthly newsletter, still in its first run, that I started in June of this year. It’s the Pikatron Monthly, published as a PDF file to those friends, family, and others on my mailing list on the first of each month. It covers topics of interest from fractals, to blogging, to my fiction, and general topic matter I tend to cover on this blog and elsewhere.

Interested subscribers should write me at to receive your free copy of the newsletter. I’ll be sure to put you on the mailing list. Also, I’m sending out back issues from June and afterward as requested, otherwise it’ll just be whichever is the current issue for that month.


Tf. Tk. Tts.

Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies [by Lynne Kelly]

4019efd44b4995786942be96be002a01I’ve recently finished my first read of this book, written by Dr. Lynne Kelly, and a scholarly well-sourced work it is!

It lays out a theory concerning the nature of certain archaeological findings, with no pseudoscience or other nonsense given serious attention, and those mentioned only in passing. It’s a theory that draws analogies between the use of mnemonic technologies in modern non-literate (very, very different from being illiterate in literate societies) cultures, and the same use, with many commonalities across cultures, of those technologies to build and maintain sophisticated bodies of cultural and, yes, scientific knowledge.

The general idea is that power is, and likely was in prehistoric periods, held by elites who maintain that power without apparent coercion or obvious material wealth by restricting the use and preservation of  knowledge using monuments, story, song, ritual, and dance, art, and small material objects as mnemonic foci, like rock art and carved stone balls or baked clay items that may be hand-held.

This includes those societies often thought to be egalitarian in nature, often mistakenly so, in which elders hold authority by dint of their monopoly on restricted knowledge attainable only by initiation.

Using as case studies such monuments as Stonehenge, Poverty Point, Chaco canyon, and contemporary traditionally non-literate cultures, such as indigenous Australian cultures, African secret societies, and the Pueblo cultures of the American southwest, the case is made, I think, and with much left open for discussion and discovery, that prehistoric cultures would need a wide, robust body of knowledge in order to survive. Such cultures simply would not have done so without mnemonic transmission of that knowledge allowing it to span generations without the benefit of writing, using mostly fallible human memory and memory foci.

Our ancestors were no dummies, or we just wouldn’t be here today to study them. Living in a dangerous world without modern science or written records requires a vast body of lore, especially of the natural world and societal laws.

I found this book entertaining, informative, and very conducive to a further, deeper, closer, and better look at the archaeological record than perhaps has been done so far, with so much more to discover to flesh out the data and answer remaining questions suggested therein.

Well done, Dr. Kelly! Good stuff.

Review | Isolation and Other Stories: by S.A. Barton

I’ve recently re-read this collection of stories by S. A. Barton, and thought I’d share my impressions of it, with its general theme of aloneness in the many worlds of SF.

A disclosure: Mr. Barton and I go a long way back to the now-defunct gaming shop where he coined my eldritch moniker. I’m posting this review because I like the stories, but I have no financial stake in this, and that’s how it should be. As someone who knows Mr. Barton, I’m likely a bit biased, but I’ll keep this review as fair as possible. I’ll not gush.

First, though, the stories…


In a world where everyone who’s anyone has a digital presence online, identity theft can be horrendous. In spades. Cue to our protagonist, Richard, whose troubles begin with the simple failure of a delivery order, and quickly snowball into personal disaster as his financial accounts are mysteriously hacked, leaving him among the millions of penniless and homeless in this dystopia of the Internet, and ultimately joining a revolution against those who made his predicament necessary…


An asteroid traveling at close to the speed of light enters the solar system, slowing down and landing on Earth. This first-contact quickly goes bad as the aliens make no attempt to communicate, and soon begin to proliferate all over the planet, annihilating humans wherever they go and threatening to eradicate us. But in the one lonely part of the world the aliens have yet to go, a final bastion of hope for the human species is in the making…

The Flowers of Dawn:

Elaina Hirschbaum is a diplomat of Earth to the benevolent alien Helf Wanas. Her alien counterpart Eschavel Wan offers a gift for the gravesite of Elaina’s spouse, Coral. An innocent-looking alien seed, its germination and growth ultimately lead to a first contact with a wholly unexpected form of intelligence…

Turn Me On:

Tom is a soldier, one of the best, who nonetheless falls in the line of duty, but he rises again in an ongoing military experiment in robotic prostheses. He meets his therapist and fellow resurrectee, Dr. Pamela Burrier, who works to help him adjust to his new life, and who has a surprise for both of them, something far beyond the pale of simple brain-pattern uploading, something momentous…

Down On The Farm:

Daniel is a farmer —  not the kind you’re probably thinking of — but a farmer of transplant organs for hire who grows his product within his own body. He runs afoul of a dangerous organ-legging ring and it’s wealthy owners who’ve decided to harvest more from him than what he has to offer, much more than just the spares he grows within him. Along with his friend Deena and their contact Lisbeth, Daniel meets a set of truly vile antagonists worthy of a Bond movie, and an unexpected ally in the form of a reluctant superman…

These were all interesting in terms of story elements that I’ve seen just a bit in his earlier fiction, but used in new ways. The first and last of these tales were a bit longer than is usual for his writing style, but that wasn’t a problem, as there was much packed into these action-wise.

Those sorts of stories tend to require a more detailed treatment no matter the author to carry the fight scenes effectively. This upright hairless primate gives this collection two thumbs up, but that would be more if I were a bonobo.

The Author Online: S.A. Barton

Stuart A. Barton on Facebook

@Tao23 on Twitter

S. A. Barton: Seriously Eclectic

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The prisoner of Sand Castle (Kindle edition) [by Sharmishtha Basu]

snap26-11-14This is an excellent collection of short fiction with cool Indian themes. I’ve always enjoyed Ms. Basu’s paranormal fiction, and this is no exception! My favorites from this are the collection’s titular story, a chilling piece titled Scarecrow, and The Woman in White, of strange goings on in a nightspot.

Three thumbs up!




A bouquet of wild flowers (Kindle edition) [by Sharmishtha Basu]

snap26-11-14G’day. I’ve recently finished a reread of of this anthology by talented writer and fellow blogger Sharmishtha Basu, and find it delightful to revisit.

A collection of 70 poems, this is an insightful work by Ms. Basu. If I must choose favorites among these, they would be her verses ‘Heaven or Hell’ and ‘Change your ways India.’ Good stuff to warm a Winter’s (or a cool Spring’s) night!

Vampires, Lovers and Other Strangers (by Andrew Scott Hall)

I’ve known Andrew online for several years now, and find his blog, Laughing in Purgatory quite entertaining for both it’s humorous and its more serious content.
This book, his first release, is almost all about the Undead, the Leeches, the Nosferatu, in different settings and genre styles — almost all about — save the final story.
It’s good, with a varied mix of styles; Death Zone, a historical fantasy in iron-age Germany; Mr Z, a film-noir style tale of revenge; a story of failed romance between the Accursed in The Breakup and it’s surprising outcome.
There’s the urban fantasy tales Vampire Woes, and Knight Master. There too is Last Love, of a date gone horribly, horribly wrong.
My favorite of these is the last story, The Discipline of Forever, which stands out to me as a radical shift in gears, a story worthy of the original Lovecraft Circle in subject and tone as a twist on the theme of a mother’s love for her son.
Near the last part, there’s a preview of material for Andrew’s upcoming book, Redneck Vampires versus College Students, and afterward, a good selection of vampire related media links to click on.
This book is fun, and made a wonderful read in the wee hours of a fine dark morning. I give it five stars, and five tentacles up too. Ia! Ia!

The charons: the ferrymen to hell [by Sharmishtha Basu]

snap26-11-14I’ve been following Ms. Sharmishtha Basu’s blogs and writings for some years now, and I’ve just finished reading this. It is perhaps the grimmest story I’ve read in a while. It’s dark realism is different in both style, outlook, and execution from the paranormal fiction she also writes. A story of life in India, it does not paint a pretty picture, but offers a warning, along with the discoveries and hard-fought lessons of the protagonist at the end. Trapped in a web of human darkness and deceit, she claws her way to the light, seeking the answers she needs. As the authoress herself says, this is the story that made her a writer, and one of my favorites as well.

for the Kindle on Amazon