Comments and reviews
The following are reviews sent to us from this web site by readers. We have published them as they arrive, leaving out only those that we don't understand! If you want to send us a review, please do so to the following e-mail address:
These are some of the mentions that Dark Sun, Bright Moon has received from third part reviewers.
Kirkus were paid to provide an early, independent review of Dark Sun, Bright Moon. Nine weeks later, a they threw up a perfunctory piece that got the name of the book wrong, entirely omitted reference to its plot or to its underlying rationale and described it as a "text book". The reviewer seemed upset that Quechua words were used for Quechua concepts. Not the best $400- I have ever spent. OS
If you have a comment about Dark Sun, Bright Moon, or if you want to respond to any of the comments which follow, please e-mail us at the address which is given above. Your posts will be completely anonymous.
[Author comment] I read like a black hole when I was young, swallowing text as indiscriminate paragraphs, ten books on a go at once, consuming anything in my path. Some of it stuck, without a doubt; but what that might be is hard to say. Most of my output has been factual, no doubt generating millions of words, always striving to condense complexity so as to be useful to managers with a short attention span. One is generally giving them both truths about a situation and the analytical tools with which to think about this, a heady brew at times when the topics are highly political and each word has to be negotiated before it can pass to the boardroom.
I have read a lot of science fiction. Larry Niven was a childhood hero, so much so that becoming engrossed in Ringworld made me miss my first job interview. Later stand-out figures were - in no order - Banks, as you suggested, and indeed Egan. Neal Stephenson is remarkable for his social prescience, but I found the Baroque cycle a duty rather than a pleasure. Stross is fun, although I feel that he is beginning to consume his children.
I also read history, increasing in a proportion which is inverse to my consumption of conventional fiction. A symptom of age, no doubt. Alas, or not so alas, the day job requires insight into current science, so each week dedicates a couple of hours to Nature, the same to AAAS Science; and then there are specialist defence and IT journals, the Economist, and bits of fun like the Spectator. I comment on Reddit on economics and science, which I enjoy because it gets you into conversation with people with whom you would normally never speak on topics that you would otherwise be unlikely to address.
That chews up a lot of time, so I write in my head whilst walking the whippets and then lob it to ferment on paper for a while. It seems to work for the whippets.
No. The figures are generally done with the modeling package Poser when we didn't have a proper image from Peru itself. Then we used software that provides an engraved or stippled image.
Here's three of them for you. Please click on the thumbnails. The page adjusts to your screen resolution, and that makes Microsoft IE panic, as is its habit. It will probably ask you to allow what it calls "blocked content". Whether you do so is up to you!
No drugs were harmed in the making of this book.
If you look on the web you will find quite a number of companies offering "meet-a-shaman" travel. Don't expect a yachaq' ilyapa, though.
We could do this if the demand was there. Is anyone else interested?)
Unhappily, Amazon are complete unresponsive on this. I think the whole PDF conversion thing is automated, and you get what you get. I have recognised this by putting the Kindle price really low, but I agree that this may ultimately be counter-productive. Thanks for the positive remarks, though - I, too, would love to see it as a movie. Or maybe a video game?
I'm sorry you feel like that, but really..! If a culture is drug-saturated, you have to reflect that, like James Bond having a martini. Would today's 007 drink martinis? Or drink at all on a mission? I doubt it.
I am truly embarrassed by this. The proofing was let to someone who then became sick, but didn't tell me that she had done nothing to the text when she sent it back. I was sloppy, didn't check and as a result I have had to pull the entire first run.
You must have been a very early purchaser, because we caught the problem within a week. (The fact that one can make presses run all around the world by simply uploading a new file is pretty amazing, if you think about it.) Anyway, I am extremely sorry about this. However, if the book takes off, you very first edition may become collectible!
Of course. Please e-mail us (as above) and we will send you a postal address. You will need to enclose a return-addressed, stamped envelope. That's going to be hard to do if you aren't in Britain, as your national stamps won't work here! Perhaps a courier company like DHL or FedEx might offer a return service? Let me know what you want to do.
Oh my, what am I to say about that? I am, of course, delighted that you find it so convincing that you need to write this note. but no, really, no ancient blight will descend on you as a result of reading Dark Sun, Bright Moon!
Is the book "authentic"? The cosmology which it describes is as close as I can deduce to what people were thinking a thousand years ago. However, they had no writing, and so the only meaningful sources as to their ideas is found in what today's shamans have to say. That, however, has been filtered through five centuries of Catholic repression and, of course, the intense efforts of the Inca to impose their own religion and to ban the yachaq'.
There are clear areas of agreement in what these people have to say. Our world is sensed by them as an ephemeral thing, constantly reconstructed. It is enclosed within or fixed between two other domains - 'pachas', places - which are called the hanaq' and the uchu pachas. The hanaq' is the creative, ambiguous, dangerous space that a shaman can enter in one mood, and the uchu pacha the place of records and ancient truths that is appropriate to another. Our world is reconstructed by the hanaq' at the direction of what information is held in the uchu pacha. That material or information comes in various types which, when the source is a human community, are strongly coloured by the harmony in that community. It can be a harmony of collaboration - ayni - or a the kind of order that we find in regimes of terror and repression, called hucha. Both of those kinds of information allow the faithful recreation of the community, but mixed flows do not do so.
It follows that poor community harmony leads to the increasingly poor recreation of the community, and so to the spread of disease, accidents and the general decay of order. Ayni generates a quality fo flow that is referred to as sami, and the communities which this supports revolve aroudn small scale units such as the family, the marketplace, village life. The dark, heavy style of order generates hucha, a quality of information that leads to dark, heavy social systems, generally centrally managed and policed by force and terror. If you see modern analogies to this, then that is your privilege.
The broader cosmology that I have described is also generally believed, if its clear expression by individuals is less uniform or coherent. Certainly, it is generally agreed that the flow of ilya is a universal energizing principle. Those who have thought about this agree that the ilya arises from the tension between the jatun - the infinite domain of crystalline perfection and the nameless domain that lies beyond the uchu pacha, a space of immeasurable chaos.
Apus and saqras remain as everyday realities in the Andes. Catholic syncretism now identifies local apus with Saints, and assigns the unfortunate saqras the role of being demons. Inti and Q'ilya are still worshiped in the Andes, Sun and Moon, but they are now identified as God the Father and the Virgin Mary. That's how history evolves, imposing layers of meaning on its uchu pacha of the past. Even ceqes remain a commonplace, now much used by traditional healers as the source of sacred spots, alignments and flows that are to be exploited in curing people. Indeed, the many ailments are thought to be distortions in these flows within individuals, caused by poor community harmony.
So, after protesting for far too long, I return to your question. Have I constructed a nefarious story, perhaps as Alcavicca might have done, designed to unleash dark forces, aimed at world domination? Not a bit. No. Have I stayed with the truth of the culture and time? To the extent I can. What is it all for? Your enjoyment, no more.
Hemingway was famous for what he didn't say as much as for what he did. He spelled out situations and characters and let the emotions form spontaneously in the readers' heads. Alas, I'm not Hemingway and, in honesty, I followed my instincts rather than any grand theory. You have my sympathies about the shortcomings of most writing classes, though.
I think that my guiding principle when writing Dark Sun, Bright Moon was to avoid what I call Disney History. That has characters who are set in the past, but who have firmly contemporary values. The past becomes a set of props for the author to use in telling a contemporary story. Their villains do feel the values of a dark past of which the author disapproves. Indeed, Disney History usually wallows in a 'feel good' factor, so that the story leads to the inevitable, triumphal realisation of our very own contemporary values.
The use of history as a set of props is most obvious in dialogue. Characters may speak in a foreign language, but when that is rendered into English it is always laced with archaisms: "Ho, Don Gonzales. Doest thou spy yon valorous galliot?" That is, quite simply, lazy. If your general speaks, let him talk like an officer from today: direct, blunt, careful to keep his meaning clear by using short sentences and carefully enunciated words. Your dialogue should convey what kind of person he is, not when he lived. That understanding is conveyed through his thoughts and actions.
The average person who was born in the Andes a thousand years ago would, if they survived childhood, look forward to a life span of well under forty years. A trivial scratch could go septic and kill you in a week. A single bad harvest could wipe out your village. The formal Gods were remote, brutal in their demands and utterly uninterested in individuals. You knew that you were a mere pinch taken off the community hurin - the lake of underlying truths about the community - and when you died, it was to that quiet reservoir of communal empathy to which you would return. A death was not an ending so much as welcome chance to drop your individuality and to return to an eternal, comfortable state of harmony. It is perhaps worth mentioning that just a few years ago, someone in an Andean village said to me that being born was like having to go outside on a freezing night in order to urinate. Death was like returning to your cosy bed.
I've asked him. He says that you've got to remember that Usco-the-puma is like some clothes that he puts on, because he really lives in a different place. That's the uchu pacha, of course. Remember the time when Q'ilyasisa, Rufay and Apurimac are staying in that village in the jungle, and they need to scare the local yachaq'? Usco and friends appear as monsters - Usco makes himself a half squid, half a lobster thing - and then ten minutes later he's in the boat in the middle of the Amazon, a puma once again. He says that when he comes to our pacha, to our world, he puts on something like clothes, maybe more like a space suit, to change how he looks and behaves. Now, you want to remember that Sacsayhuaman is an old, old apu which also chooses to appear as an animal - this time, a macaw. So if Usco and Sacsayhauman are getting on well in their native place, the uchu pacha, then what you see here is a puma getting on well with a macaw. That's how it works, you see. And of course Usco sends his best wishes. Here he is with Sacsayhuaman, a picture just for you
Really, really - it's just a novel. It tries to be accurate, but no Dark Mysteries, no plots, no Big Truths. But I'm glad that you enjoyed it
From Argentina: "I am reading your book. At first it took a bit of effort to understand all of the ideas but even then I was hooked by it. I have now read about300 pages and it's become even better.I am delighted by how you use descriptive language, and the variety of countryside, wildlife that you bring out are very fine. Great, well I'll continue reading and I'll contact you. I'm going to buy an extra copy because I've scribbled notes all over the margins.
You can easily visit the upper Manañon from Cajamarca, details here. (You will need to scroll down to "Cajamarca to Chachapoyas". The little images open into photoessays if you click on them.) The town of Celendin has an adequate hotel, and there is an excellent one located below the massive Kuellap ruin, half a day beyond the river. There is no accommodation at Balsas itself, however, which is still a single street surrounded by little houses, but the rafts have been replaced by a bridge.
The lower, tropical Marañon can be accessed from Tarapoto, which has many good hotels and an airstrip with flights to Lima. There are lots of boat trips, including boats that go down the river to Nauta and then on, generally to Iquitos. The large passenger carriers are pretty basic and anything you can hire in Tarapoto is either short range or even more basic and much, much slower. Nauta is the gateway to the virtually unvisited Pacaya Samiria national park - see here - and best accessed from Iquitos, where there are specialist travel companies which will arrange a safe trip for you. Recall, these distances are in the order of London to Athens, undertaken by little boat. The people are as safe as people anywhere, but the region is malarial and also has yellow fever, so take protection.
The following all arrived within a few hours of each other. One wonders...
I am a preacher in the Mormon faith, and I live in Puno, Peru where we are working with the local people for many years. I preach our faith to this remote community. I have read your novel, and it does not seem good to me that you are attempting to awaken these ancient customs, most of which have been forgotten and which you, one way or another, are waking them up. If this material comes to the attention of my flock their curiosity will reawaken about these ancient idolatries which that had set to one side. I ask you please, in the name of our community, not to publish this type of literature, which goes against our beliefs. If this information were to be published in Spanish, we can assure you that it will reawaken customs and beliefs that we have worked to suppress through 400 years. That would throw us back from the faith that we have built within this community.
I live in Argentina and have read your book. Truly, as a Catholic I have to place myself against this type of publication, because you bring to life these ancient practices, customs and beliefs which, even if they had been the reality of a former time, now have been set to one side. It is not right that they should be once again brought into the light. Please, do not publish any more of these types of novel. It is not a good idea to revive possibly-dangerous religious ideas and beliefs that have been successfully eradicated.
Let me begin by saying that I am a Catholic priest. I work in the jungle region of Peru. Two weeks ago I went through Jorge Chavez airport in Lima, wandered through the shops and your novel caught my eye. I have begun to read it and I have to say that it does not appear advisable that this type of publication finds its way into the hands of the less educated. It does not seem to be a good thing for our Catholic faith that you should seek to revive these long-forgotten beliefs, and for that reason I ask you not to publish the book in Spanish.
I'm Jorge, writing to you from Mexico DF. I've read the book on Kindle and I have to say that it has format problems. That said, I want to say to you that the book has opened my eyes. Why? Because when I was younger, just like my friends, we all experimented with the nettle plant, smoking it. And the thing that I want to tell you is that your book touches my experience directly. For example, seeing filaments that connect everything together, great underground spaces filled with something dark and moving about through tunnels, pink spaces filled with what can I say? Emotions? Shame, calm happiness, a joyful spirit? I never saw anyone in there, but something was always watching me, neutral, neither hostile nor friendly. There was a lot more, but I can't remember it.
I have read your book. When I had finished it for the first time I found that I had not understood very much of it, so I started to read it again. Now I think that I do understand what you were trying to say. The story is good, the background is given very thorough definition, particularly the cultures, the travel and landscape. Nevertheless, it seems to me that you are entering a space that has been hidden for many years, and for good reason. Let me tell you that I believe that this kind of insight should only be read by people with the stability to understand these things. For certain, it should not under any circumstances be read by young people in whom it might distort reality. Greetings from Bogotá.
Catawampus? I'll call Usco. :)
I imagine that you understand the basics - that our world constantly pours out something like information. That flow builds up a complete picture of everything that is, that ever has been.
Now, recall that our world is constantly re-made, re-created by a domain that could make anything which is physically possible. So the endless re-creation has to be managed, or it woudl end up in a mess. What manages it, what supervises our constant re-creation, is the vast amount of information that has piled up about our world, our history. That history also sets the logic of how things will move on over time, of how all the little bits of reality act on each other. So, that information is a template that shapes how we are made. (If that's not clear, the long video on the web page takes you through it visually.)
If you understand that idea, then it must be clear that if you could substitute a different block of information for what ought to be used in re-creating our world, then our reality would be re-made differently, following whatever that new information says. So, in theory, if you coudl insert such packages of information, then you could make anything that you can imagine.
There are two problems in doing that. First, you need that complex new information. Where is it come from? Q'ilyasisa uses Usco to dig up an ancient template that more or less showed Huari as it used to be, but with all of the human subtlety sucked out of it. Alcavicca makes a gigantic engine - like a super computer made out of supercomputers, maybe a cubic kilometre in size where it sticks into our world and much, much bigger in the uchu domain. He uses that to create information packages - templates - to order. You want an imaginary village? Crunch, crunch - there's the specification, down to the last memory, the last mote of smoke from this morning's cooking fire.
The second issue that you need to overcome is how to get your package, your template, recognised as being more compelling, more convincing than the conventional, natural one. That comes down to boosting its "energy", although that is not energy as we understand it in our world. You will recall, I hope!, that the entire universe runs on "ilya". Ilya is the impulse which animates everything. To get your template recognised, therefore, you need to gather ilya and pump up your information package with it so that it outweighs conventional reality. Q'ilyasisa brings that about by diplomacy in the high hanaq', building her lightning tree. Alcavicca achieves the same end by constructing monstrous lightning rod-like structures with which to gather ilya.
The result is the same: ilya is fed into the new or false information packet, the world is re-created on that basis and the result is a different world. In Alcavicca's case, a world of supreme complexity, comprising all of the non-Andean civilizations and their pre-history, stamped onto o the world by an irresponsible egomaniac.
Oh! And ilya comes, of ccourse, from the interaction of the two outmost layers of the vast cosmic sandwich. The perfectly ordered jatun is driven to discharge itself through the stack of layers and into the final layer of formless chaos. But to do that, it has to filter through those intervening layers, which of course includes us. That filtration, that flow, is the ilya.
Please let me know if that's still not clear.
A rabbit-like Andean viscacha
You might want to look at the "Preparing to travel" section on that web site. However, nothing beats professional advice, and you may want to discuss this with your doctor. Here is one US site that gives good general insight about the tropics. The Amazon has the usual key problems of the humid tropics - malaria, yellow fever, dengue - but these lessen as you get away from settlements and from brackish water. Like Q'ilyasisa and Samin, choose where you sleep wisely, use insect repellent and wear long trousers and long sleeved shirts at night. Never sleep naked and exposed to the air unless you are inside a sealed mosquite net, ideally one treated with insecticide. Open mesh hammocks may look attractive - and they are astonishingly comfortable - but they do open you up to a 360 degree attack!
The Inca did their best to wipe out the Chimu culture. The Chimu had themselves already absorbed the Moche a century earlier. Much of what we know about either of them come from what the Spanish themselves heard from the Inca. Spanish commentators do mention sacrifice, but they refer to drowning in honour of Kon or Ni, different names for the octopus sea god. However, this god was identified with the Inca's own Huiracocha, and was thus given an easier ride than were other beliefs after the Inca conquest.
What we know from Chimu and Moche ceramics, however, is that human sacrifice was a common motif, shown as throat cutting. Indeed, both Moche and Chimu pictured sacrifice frequently, and ceramics also show images of warriors bringing back captives specifically for sacrifice. The physical aim of sacrifice was to draw blood, and we know that the priests (and their dogs) drank this. Although there are some pyramid-associated bodies that have been found with cuts to the cervical vertebrae, the knives which were used in sacrifices were rounded brass or copper things - "tumi" - that were less suited for deep cutting than for shallow-cut bleeding. Bodies which were drained through arterial bleeding are not going to appear abnormal when disinterred.
Were the pyramids used for trading? Most of the monumental architecture consisted of platforms, connected by ramps and surrounded by low walls. If these were merely for ceremonial display, then the nobles would have been spread pretty thin, as the extent of these buildings was enormous. Perhaps these were produce markets, or places for tax-controlled exchanges between caravans from the Andes and coastal production?
A tumi knife
However, the high pyramids would have been totally impractical for such things. Might they have been places where the aristocracy lived? In the wet season, when the flat land floods from Andes run-off, the mosquitoes are dreadful and an artificial hillock would have lifted you above them. The region does, however, abound in natural hillocks and this would really have been unnecessary. We know that the Chimu aristocracy lived, clan by clan, in enormous walled compounds of the sort that Lyacsa has restored in Dark Sun, Bright Moon. Certainly, the practicality of living on a mud brick pyramid in the middle of a waterless desert would have been questionable.
Wow. What an amazing world we live in. The idea of a Spanish-language summary is a really good one. Thank you.
Señor: the Church has said nothing to me. You have, but unless you tell me why you represent the Church, you must remain to me only an individual who has his person opinion. It may be a strong opinion, but as you will recognise, the Internet is filled with strong opinions. If people responded to every voice, nothing would ever be done.
Simple. "Suyu" means "region" in Quechua. The Intisuyo is or was the whole thing, the domain of the Sun, both a place and a concept. The physical territory was divided into four suyus, and the Antisuyu is the North-Eastern region. There is also a Q'lyasuyu, but that's not a mis-spelling of Q'ilya, but rather the word for South. It was actually the South East province.
ELI15, I think, not 5. Semantics first, then we'll peek at what's underneath. The term "hurin" refers to the general flow that comes out from our world and into to the uchu pacha. It has two qualities: sami - roughly equivalent to the result of sustained harmony - and hucha, which is the outcoem of similarly sustained disharmony. Contemporary views tedn to see this as a measure of the community's collective state of mind - of being nice to each other or being nasty - but the ancient views were probably less trite. Even today, people speak of hucha as being a heavy or dark state of mind, perhaps similar to kurma, the Hindu view of life's bindings and cares that keep one away from transcendence. You can, therefore, make your own hucha for yourself: it definitely does not take a community. However, destruction of the environment also generates hucha, as does political turbulence and, unless very well managed, so does rapid change of any kind.
Recall, if you will, that everything in this belief system comes from the flow that occurs between the utter timeless perfection of the jatun to the annihilation in the nameless, timeless, shapeless region which exists beyond the uchu pacha. That flow is termed 'ilya', and it is responsible for the existence of everything except the jatun and that nameless sump of nothingness. Ilya brings into existence the hanaq', our universe and the uchu pacha. Time - in various manifestations - exists only within these three spaces.
Ilya that passes through our world flows into the uchu pacha before vanishing into the anti-jatun. It "dumps the information that it has picked up into the uchu pacha just as quantum information is thought to be plated onto the event horizon of a black hole. This may be a difficult concept, so let's give it a moment of review.
Black holes presnet quantum theory with a major problem. Information cannot be lost from the universe without disrupting some of the deeper theorems of quantum theory. But an event horizon is indeed an exit from the universe, so a body of theory believes that the quantum information is somehow "plated" onto the black hole's event horizon. That, in turn, gives rise to some deep and fruitful notions about our universe as a whole. Information has to "go somewhere" in physically fundamental systems. Thus, a flow of ilya which is creating a reality over and over again carries on it not just information about particles, but about systems.
What's the difference between the two? Why does it matter? Well, that's down to a concept called "emergence". If you describe a gas molecule, then it will have a bunch of properties that you can model it really well. You understand a great deal about what that molecules does, and why. At least, that's true until you add a lot of identical molecules, but in different places and with different momentum. That's a gas, perhaps, and you understand each of its components really well. However, it is then that a strange thing happens. The gas system, and not its individual molecules, suddenly acquires new properties. It has a temperature. No one molecule has a temperature. It can transmit sound. A solitary molecule knows nothing of sound. It can freeze, maybe into a liquid, maybe to a solid, maybe co-exist as both. This shows that you need a whole lot of new information in order to describe even this really pretty primitive system. That demand for a more complicated explanatory model is called "emergence", the spontaneous addition of systematic properties to complicated systems that its component parts don't have. You need a more complicated description in order to capture all of the properties of a gas, at least as as compared to understanding one of its molecules. Similarly, a colony of ants is more complex than a single ant, yet made of - well - single ants!
Consider the black hole. The loss of quantum information worries physicists. But what about the loss of emergent, systems information? To a black hole and to a physicist, that is no problem. But to the ilya, it is a huge issue, because the ilya is, makes up the emergent systems. So it has to dump all of the information - chiefly, emergent information - into the uchu pacha before it anihilates itself in the anti-jatun. As a result, the uchu pacha consists of gigantic amounts of this information, bound into structures and the equivalent of geography, into a contiguous geography that is many times bigger than our entire universe.
This is, perhaps, getting too deep. In this cosmology, however, it is clear that what has to be recorded is not just the elementary components - the atoms, their dispostion and movement - but great amounts of information about the systems that they comprise. At-equilibrium systems like a gas generate limited amounts of information between instants, but far from equilibrium structures can indeed fly off in any direction in an instant. These will necessarily generate huge amounts of additional information in order to preserve the fidelity with which the system is reproduced: that price, this social interchange or that set of village norms. At the time that we are describing, all such systems were probably human-generated: communities, farming and so on. That's why apus, living as they do on flows of information, form around such communities.
Pure sami flows, or flows of pure hucha are equally good at suporting apus, although they will be apus that have very different aspirations for their respective communities. The two qulaities tend to destroy each other, however, and so a community that geenrates mixed streams yield poor overall flows and so weaken their apus. These apus are unable to steer their community to a clear end, and so the situation tends to become worse.
Why did human sacrifice keep Pachacamac and the synthetic apu alive? Probably for different reasons. The synthetic - and ultimately, the Huari apu - were being fed pure strains of hurin, of course of the hucha variety, and fed it in great quantities due to the consequences of mass torture on human minds and bodies and the pervasive fear within the societies in which these victims lived. Pachacamac, though, was a different matter, of voluntary sacrifice and a safe community. Indeed, the sacrifices may have been almost irrelevant to it. It existed within a community of several thousand people, a community with a long, long history of being perfectly dedicated to doing one thing very well. That made it az community delivering strong flows of sami. The sacrifices may have had nothing to do with why Pachacamac survived, save as the focus of the community's activities.
We warned you that you should not ever publish a Spanish-language translation. Although we had told you not to publish further, nevertheles you have now put out a summary in Spanish. We beg you in the strongest terms to remove this immediately.
A translation is on its way, probably for May 2016. The translator is Patrica Prada J. whose Spanish is of perlucid purity. My own resembled mulligatawny: lumpy, opaque and frequently clotted.
Please do make contact, whatever your opinions on Dark Sun, Bright Moon. The e-mail to use is shown at the top of this page.