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Thursday, 2 October 2014

The Thursday Book Promo featuring Dark Sun, Bright Moon by Oliver Sparrow


http://picasion.com/gl/3CCb/

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Welcome to

The Thursday Book Promo 

featuring 

Dark Sun, Bright Moon 

by 

Oliver Sparrow



Dark Sun, Bright Moon, by Oliver Sparrow, was published in July 2014 and is available for sale on Amazon in both paperback and ebook.

“Dark Sun, Bright Moon describes people isolated in the Andes, without the least notion of outsiders. They evolve an understanding of the universe that is complementary to our own but a great deal wider. The book explores events of a thousand years ago, events which fit with what we know of the region's history,” says Sparrow.

In the Andes of a thousand years ago, the Huari empire is sick. Its communities are being eaten from within by a plague, a contagion that is not of the body but of something far deeper, a plague that has taken their collective spirit. Rooting out this parasite is a task that is laid upon Q’ilyasisa, a young woman from an obscure little village on the forgotten borders of the Huari empire.

This impossible mission is imposed on her by a vast mind, a sentience that has ambitions to shape all human life. Her response to this entails confrontations on sacrificial pyramids, long journeys through the Amazonian jungle and the establishment of not just one but two new empires. Her legacy shapes future Andean civilization for the next four hundred years, until the arrival of the Spanish.

Dark Sun, Bright Moon takes the reader on a fascinating adventure that includes human sacrifice, communities eaten from within, a vast mind blazing under the mud of Lake Titicaca, and the rise and fall of empires cruel and kind.

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About the Author:

Oliver Sparrow was born in the Bahamas, raised in Africa and educated at Oxford to post-doctorate level, as a biologist with a strong line in computer science. He spent the majority of his working life with Shell, the oil company, which took him into the Peruvian jungle for the first time. He was a director at the Royal Institute for International Affairs, Chatham House for five years. He has started numerous companies, one of them in Peru, which mines for gold. This organisation funded a program of photographing the more accessible parts of Peru, and the results can be seen at http://www.all-peru.info. Oliver knows modern Peru very well, and has visited all of the physical sites that are described in his book Dark Sun, Bright Moon.

To learn more, go to http://www.darksunbrightmoon.com/



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Excerpt:

Chapter 1: A Small Sacrifice at Pachacamac

A priest knelt before her, a feather from his head-dress tickling her face. His musky odour of old incense and stale blood was rank, even here on the windy summit of the pyramid. Four other priests held her body tipped slightly forwards, and the pressure that this put on her tired old joints hurt far more than the fine, cold bite of the knife at her neck. Quick blood ran thick down her chin and splashed into the waiting bowl. Then the flow weakened, the strength went out of her and she died, content.

Seven elderly pilgrims had set out for Pachacamac, following their familiar river down to the coast and then trudging North through the desert sands. Two of the very oldest of them needed to be carried in litters, but most were able to walk with no more than a stick to help them in the sand. Lesser members of the community had been delegated to carry what was necessary. These would return home. The elderly would not.

The better-regarded families of the town were expected to die as was proper, sacrificed at the Pachacamac shrine for the betterment of the community. Such was to be their last contribution of ayni, of the reciprocity that assured communal harmony and health. It was also their guarantee of a smooth return to the community's soul, to the deep, impersonal structure from which they had sprung at birth.

The Pachacamac complex appeared to them quite suddenly from amongst the coastal dunes. They paused to marvel at its mountain range of pyramids, its teeming myriad of ancient and holy shrines.

Over the millennia, one particular pyramid had come to process all of the pilgrims who came from their valley. They were duly welcomed, and guards resplendent in bronze and shining leather took them safely to its precinct.

They had been expected. The priests were kind, welcoming them with food and drink, helping the infirm, leading them all by easy stages up to the second-but-last tier in their great, ancient pyramid. The full extent of the meandering ancient shrine unveiled itself like a revelation as they climbed. Then, as whatever had been mixed with their meal took its effect, they were wrapped up snug in blankets and set to doze in the late evening sun, propped together against the warm, rough walls of the mud-brick pyramid. Their dreams were vivid, extraordinary, full of weight and meaning.

The group was woken before dawn, all of them muzzily happy, shriven of all their past cares, benignly numb. Reassuring priests helped them gently up the stairs to the very top tier. In the predawn light, the stepped pyramids of Pachacamac stood sacred and aloof in an ocean of mist.

Each pilgrim approached their death with confidence. A quick little discomfort would take them back to the very heart of the community from which they had been born. They had been separated from it by the act of birth, each sudden individual scattered about like little seed potatoes. Now, ripe and fruitful, they were about to return home, safely gathered back into the community store. It was to be a completion, a circle fully joined. Hundreds of conch horns brayed out across Pachacamac as the dawn sun glittered over the distant mountains. Seven elderly lives drained silently away as the mist below turned pink.

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Author Interview:

1 – Tell us about yourself

I was born in the Bahamas, raised in Africa and educated at Oxford to post-doctorate level. I spent the majority of my working life with Shell, the oil company, which took me into the Peruvian jungle for the first time. I have started numerous companies, one of them in Peru, which mines for gold. This organisation funded a program of photographing the more accessible parts of Peru, and the results can be seen at http://www.all-peru.info. I grow orchids and enjoy seeing them in the wild. I have three dogs. 

2 – What genre do you write?

I wrote both fiction and non-fiction. Dark Sun, Bright Moon is somewhere between alternative history and alternate reality. It describes people isolated in the Andes for 10,000 years, without the least notion of outsiders. They evolve an understanding of the universe that is complementary to our own but a great deal wider. It is a universe without gods but with intelligences more or less linked to, more or less interested in our own. None of this is "mystical", however, but a consequence of the structure of the universe, a structure that the local people of the Andes still dimly recall. The book uses these concepts to explore events of a thousand years ago, events that fit with what we know of the region's history. The Huari empire fell, very suddenly. Tihuanacu fell about thirty years later. The core of the Inca civilization was established in Cusco in the decades after that.

3 – What is the title of your most recent published work?  Where can we buy it?

Dark Sun, Bright Moon was published in July 2014 and is available for sale on Amazon in both paperback and ebook.

Dark Sun, Bright Moon takes the reader on a fascinating adventure that includes human sacrifice, communities eaten from within, a vast mind blazing under the mud of Lake Titicaca, and the rise and fall of empires cruel and kind.

In the Andes of a thousand years ago, the Huari empire is sick. Its communities are being eaten from within by a plague, a contagion that is not of the body but of something far deeper, a plague that has taken their collective spirit. Rooting out this parasite is a task that is laid upon Q’ilyasisa, a young woman from an obscure little village on the forgotten borders of the Huari empire.

This impossible mission is imposed on her by a vast mind, a sentience that has ambitions to shape all human life. Her response to this entails confrontations on sacrificial pyramids, long journeys through the Amazonian jungle and the establishment of not just one but two new empires. Her legacy shapes future Andean civilization for the next four hundred years, until the arrival of the Spanish.

4 – What is your current work in progress?

I am currently working on getting the word out about Dark Sun, Bright Moon. The fifteen months that it took to write has been very intense. This book would make an amazingly distinctive movie, and there has been little or no mainstream interest in the Andes and their cultures. If people like it, perhaps I will see if I can raise the money. Would-be Q'ilyasisas please form an orderly queue.

5 – What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I have assorted businesses - in Peru, the contemporary scene of Dark Sun, Bright Moon, for example, there is a gold mine in development. I have a consultancy that draws on a network of old hands to tackle complex problems for governments and large companies.

I have been fascinated by orchids since I was a child in Africa, and these days I like to see them growing in the wild. And that in turn has taken my to the Himalayas at least twenty times, all over the Andes and into the jungles of the Asian Pacific. And I have three dogs, which take me for walks while I mentally discard everything I have done so far that morning.

6 – What is your inspiration for writing?

The creative urge is one of those deep emotions that latches randomly and often haplessly onto this or that mode of expression. I have to say that I get as much charge from a well-designed graphic, business deal or electronic circuit as I do from writing, but that of those, writing is the pleasure that lasts the longest.

Most of my output has been non-fiction, written for an audience of senior manager generalists. You have been asked to “explain Brazil”. What do they need to know? Why do they need to know it? The perennial aim is always to condense as much you are able of a complex subject into as few words and images as is compatible with reader understanding and patience. To do this, you need a strong notion of their likely initial understanding, both of the subject and the toolkit that you will use in order to dissect it. Is this understanding even correct? Is the balance wrong, being comprised of sound bites and folk-wisdom, views that obscure a more organic insight? Your own role has to be understood, for you must estimate how much trust they will extend. How much evidence will they require? How many nits, picked? This is a long way from academic writing, and a skill in its own right.

Fiction is, in many ways, even less free. If the milieu is familiar – daily suburban life -  your task is to entertain within this tiny frame of ivory, finding hundreds of pages of novelty in its blandness. You must follow the formulae without being formulaic. If the environment is marked unfamiliar – as is the world of Dark Sun, Bright Moon – then the issue is not one of delivering novelty. The constraint is in your reader’s patience as you slip them an entire novel cosmology, a starkly unfamiliar society with no links whatsoever to the remainder of humanity and an environment that combines snow, humid jungle and desert within a few days walk of each other. The perils of the expository conversation are always there: “ So tell me, Prince Regent, how do you get on with your Father, King George? George the Third, of course. You know, the one who lost us the Americas.”

Satisfying the creative impulse comes from balancing all of these elements of the ‘fair challenge’. In this regard, miniatures minutely deployed on familiar ivory are really not for me. The creative writing course critique that assesses life in a launderette or relationships between 20-somethings in a fine art auction house offer scant stimulus and less challenge. Yet, neither do the further reaches of science fiction, much as I enjoy reading it. Inspiration demands a stretching, but within the discipline that is set by a broad dose of reality.

7 – Where can we find you?


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