Monthly Archives: March 2016

Guest Post on Farish’s Freehold

SceptreMorgulan_ebookcoverI have a guest spot on a fellow writer’s blog that will last for the next few days. The owner of the blog is a man by the name of Lincoln S. Farish. We met through Twitter and arranged this promotion for my book The Sceptre of Morgulan on his blog—a site dedicated to horror and dark fantasy entitled Farish’s Freehold. Technically my book is more fantasy than horror, but it does have strong horror elements running through it. Specifically, it features a gothic-style vampire much more in the line of Bram Stoker’s Dracula than Stephanie Meyers Twilight. My vampire is evil and diabolical. You wouldn’t want to date him. There are also a number of demons scattered throughout the series, so there is that dark element as well.

Anyway, you can find my promotion on Mr. Farish’s blog here: http://farishsfreehold.blogspot.com/2016/03/matt-ryans-got-witches-bounty-hunters.html

It’s pretty intense. Make sure you check it out.

The general link for the site is: http://farishsfreehold.blogspot.com

Pressure Points in Fantasy Literature

One of the topics I’ve been interested in lately is pressure points. I purchased a couple books on the subject from Barnes and Noble and read up on it. What I wanted to find was a complete map listing all the pressure points in the body and how best to use them, so I could experiment on myself with this or that technique and see what happens. I’m still looking. I found a book on Shiatsu Massage and Acupressure and that listed a great many of them, but not all. A number of those listed were on the back of the body and, therefore, more difficult to access, particularly in a fight. I have a black belt in the martial arts, so I know a couple from that endeavor, but I would like to know more. As it happens, I stopped studying martial arts right when we were beginning to learn about such topics as chi and pressure points. I know enough to know both are real, but I lack all but the most rudimentary skill in either.

 

What is a pressure point? I’m not sure I know how to define it properly. It is a point on the human body where, when pressure is applied, the flow of chi can be interrupted. This can result in pain or relief from pain depending on the amount of pressure applied and the condition of the body prior to the application of pressure. Chi (or a person’s physical life force) is said to flow through meridians that exist throughout the body. Some have equated meridians to nerve pathways in the body. Again, I’m not sure if that is actually the case, or if meridians are something else entirely. I do know that chi can do a number of things that our current understanding of nerve energy does not allow.

 

Anyway, as far as fantasy literature is concerned, my interest in pressure points stems from my use of martial arts in my novels. I haven’t used martial arts in my novels a lot yet—other than as a general understanding as to how combat works—but I have a character on the horizon, who is essentially a ninja, although I don’t call him that. He has a thorough understanding of pressure points and how to use them; he has even mastered the dreaded “touch of death.” In any event, I wouldn’t expect the “touch of death” to be thoroughly discussed in a book I purchased at Barnes and Noble (if it, in fact, exists … which is a big if) but I did want to find a map of all the points known. Unfortunately, that was not to be the case.

 

The best way to learn about pressure points remains through a qualified teacher and instructor in martial arts, acupressure, or acupuncture. There’s only so much a book can tell you. But I lack the money for formal training. Besides, I’m not trying to become a master of the arts; I’m just curious. Anyway, they have a unique place in a fantasy world—and the advantage of using them in a fantasy world is that they can be altered and changed to the writer’s preference. The “touch of death” may not exist in the real world, but there is no reason why you can’t use it in a fantasy world. Likewise, other effects can be thrown in; and it will remain believable, because it is, in the end, a fantasy world.

Odin Speaks: The Legend versus the Myth

Arf. I am Odin. When I speak, you listen, for I am all-knowing and wise.

OdinOnce again, I stumbled across a curious fact while reading some of my more unconventional fare (more specifically, while I was reading a couple books on Atlantis). Apparently, there is a distinction between a legend and a myth. Both are stories, of a sort. A Legend is based on some historical fact; it contains some kernel of truth; however, whatever truth it contains has been buried by an avalanche of distortion and historical debris that has been produced by the many intervening years between the telling of its story and the events that inspired it. A decent example of a Legend is the Legend of Atlantis, told by Plato. A number of the details of the story have been confirmed (specifically a handful of Athenian details), so it seems that some of the story is based on a truth that has been obscured by time.

In contrast to the Legend is the Myth. A myth is also a story concerning events from the deepest mists of time. However, a myth usually involves the activities of some supernatural force: like a hero, demigod, or god. They are heavily filled with symbols and interpretative meaning, but they were never intended to be taken as factual. For example, the Greek Myth of Phaethon’s disastrous attempt to drive the sun god Apollo’s chariot is an excellent example of a myth.

The skeptical lune lurking inside me, however, is not so sure that that distinction can be easily verified. Are we sure Phaethon’s chariot ride is just symbolic? It could (if we stretch the bounds of credulity) involve some half-alien hybrid who got a turn riding his father’s spaceship. That’s not likely, but it’s possible (that’s the problem with having a training in philosophy: just about anything goes—except contradictions—or, alternatively, nothing goes; it’s usually one or the other: Will the sun rise tomorrow? The scientist says, “Of course it will.” The philosopher says, “I don’t know.” It’s the difference between deductive logic, and inductive reasoning. Certainty and probability.)

Anyway, those are my thoughts for today. Woof.