Wednesday, 12 June 2019

A Light Bulb Moment

To me the new lights seemed harsh. First they installed them along the street, replacing the warm orange sodium glow of the old ones with a bluish glare. More energy efficient we were told, with less of the light pollution overspill  that was spoiling the view of the stars. So as it was with energy saving lightbulbs, hand and head torches, the replacement of traditional incandescent bulbs with LEDs continued apace throughout the town. All good, yes?  I’m not so sure.

 It seemed the correct, environmentally thing to do. Yet still the light is harsh, and almost physically hurtful to my eyes. The light is always intense under its glare, yet creates shadowed areas of darkness between them.  Avoiding pedestrians stepping out of the shadows and into the road in winter, whilst I’m driving, has become somewhat of a seasonal sport.

All artificial light is about mimicking the sun of course, illuminating the hours of darkness within the narrow band of the electromagnetic spectrum in which we reside, extending our activity from mere daylight hours. I did some research; LEDs -light emitting diodes - bathe us in wakefulness inducing blue light, as the sun does. Other sources emit blue light too, such as phones and computers etc. which is why we are encouraged into having a down time from our devices prior to sleep. Blue light has a short wave length and can damage the photoreceptors in the eye; it is why we wear sun glasses in summer. Unlike the sun and incandescent bulbs however LEDs do not emit long wave length red light. Red light has health benefits, stimulating the retina to repair blue light damage, penetrating the skin and stimulating the production of mitochondrial ATP; crucial for providing energy in every cell of the body.

It’s not surprising that we have evolved to rely on the sun, that the ill effects of blue light can be countered by the benefits of the red. That’s the nature of real light and the universe in general; all seems perfectly balanced. But LED illumination isn’t natural and I suspect isn’t “real” light either.

Now it might be my prejudice against LED light but to me its the natural world that shows it for what it is – a synthetic light. Whilst walking the dog through an area of the park, the LED shone from the light from amid the branches of a silver birch. The light on the ground was shown for what it was, the leaves breaking it up into its digital components of lines. LEDs are here to stay, but do I like them? No I don't. As to whether they actually cause real harm biologically, we are all an experimental work in progress.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

The Raven and the Cross (Erik Haraldsson 2) by C R May - A review

In The Raven & The Cross, Erik Bloodaxe returns in suitable rampaging style. Previously we followed him extinguish opposition, in the shape of his brothers, to claim the kingship of Norway only to have it snatched away by the machinations of King Aethelstan of England and bequeathed to Erik’s Christian half-brother, Hakon.
Erik isn’t going to sit back and accept such a fate, he has loyal Hirdsmen, a wife and sons, and most crucially of all – the destiny to be a king five times over, as foretold to him by a seer. But how?
He has found sanctuary in Denmark with his brother-in-law, Gorm and joins him on campaign against the Swedes. However Eric has an appetite for fame-wealth and he knows, somehow, he will be a king again, as do others.  Athelstan offers Erik the kingdom of Northumbria in England but Erik suspects this offer is merely to keep him in check and ensure he doesn’t threaten Hakon’s throne. It would also make him the king of England’s puppet. 
Instead the Jarldom of the Orkneys offers great opportunity for wealth and plunder. Since the weakening of dynasties during a terrible war, in which Aethelstan successfully defeated an alliance of Dublin Norse and Strathclyde Britons, a power vacuum exists that can be exploited. The Orkneys are perfected situated on the sea lanes for a Viking Sea King to ply his trade and build his reputation.
Erik’s exploits will take him from Dublin to Portugal, but despite King Aethelstan’s heirs styling themselves as Kings of all the English, and carrying imperial ambition for the whole of Britain; Northumbrian separatism ensures that the Erik may still be king there , but on his own terms. Such a move would require accepting Christianity, but Erik is nothing but a pragmatist, and he needs to be accepted as king by both Norsemen and Anglo-Danish Northumbrians (both of Berncia and Deira). The king of Wessex may have other ideas however…
As readers we have been well served by Mr May of late. The Raven and the Cross is the second of the Eric Haraldsson series  to be released in 2018 – 2 books in one year – that’s dedication;  especially when it’s plain to see the meticulous research that has gone into these books. C R May has fleshed out Erik’s life from scant sources, but has been able to explore and expand on events mentioned in the saga of the Blóðøx and bring them to life.

The Norns Urðr, Verðandi, and Skuld under the world oak Yggdrasil. Illustration, 1882 by Ludwig Burger via wikipedia

As ever with this author’s masterly word-craft we are treated to a wonderful recreation of the Viking world, with all its customs and beliefs and bloody brutal glory. The tapestry of Erik’s life is skilfully woven, as if it were by the very Norns themselves. There is action on land and sea with Erik the energetic warrior he ever was, so much so that the book speeds along; you daren’t put it down. The previous book dealt with Erik and his headlong rush to win his father’s throne with the blade of his axe – Jomal; however the experience of losing his throne through politics has made an altogether different Erik than the one driven by tempestuous youth.
Erik is a brave and ruthless warrior, unforgiving of disloyalty; yet the loss of long trusted hirdsmen, either by death or age catching up with them, has made a wiser, more philosophical individual. He can win a kingdom but now he’s learning how to actually be a king and the requirements of statecraft. A warrior may build a fearsome reputation, but a great king constructs a legacy.
It’s clear that the author lives and breathes this world, his love of the period shines through. For those of us who have enjoyed the work of CR May there’s a nice little easter egg hidden within the pages of The Raven and The Cross linking this series to previous ones he’s written. Book two of a trilogy this may be but it can still stand alone on its own terms. We all need to start somewhere and if you haven’t read any of CR May’s books before, I would happily recommend that this be the one to begin with; but you wouldn’t want to deny yourselves others, would you? So stand with Erik Blóðøx and hear Jomal’s deadly wail. “Óðinn owns you all!”

Image from

The Raven and The Cross is available from Amazon

Thursday, 13 September 2018

The Brand New Normal - For Sam.

So this is the brand new normal, a hole in my heart and soul.

I’m bereft since you left; disbelieving, that you suddenly had to go.

Where once I complained when you shouted, now I just miss your bark.

And that you’re no longer hogging the sofa, and claiming the comfy part.

You’re not there in the middle of the doorway, underfoot, refusing to budge.

Nor there when the fridge door opens, at mealtimes I don't feel your nudge.

You’re no longer leaning against my legs, with your head and ears to smooth.

No more are you insisting that you lick mine, sat on me so I can’t move.

Of course you knew all this made my life sweeter,

with just the touch of your cold wet nose.

So this is the brand new normal, I’ll get used to it, I suppose.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Bloodaxe (Erik Haraldsson Book 1) by C R May - A review

“Tell me about King Erik, Your Grace.”

The archbishop blew the froth from his ale and peered across the rim, chuckling softly as he took a sip. “Bloodaxe?”

Under Harald Fairhair Norway has been unified, but the question of succession casted a shadow over the great king’s twilight rule. He wants Erik to be his heir for high kingship, but Harald has fathered many sons, all kings in their own right, each eager for the spoils the great king’s death will bring.

I’ve always had a fascination with the character of Erik Bloodaxe, the last Viking king of an independent Northumbria, if only for his descriptive name. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting Jorvik Viking museum you may well have bought the T-Shirt or perhaps the mug, such as I have!

When I heard that C R May was embarking on telling his Erik’s saga I knew I would be in for a spectacular ride aboard a dragon prowed longship; and what a ride this is. Those familiar with Mr May’s (in my opinion) unrivalled word-craft in bringing this historical period to life, will have an inkling of what to expect, and for those new to his work, you will be in for a real treat and wonder why you haven’t read his work before. You can taste the salt tang of spray as you pull oar on Erik’s Skei, feel the fear and pride as your sea king disembarks first,  to lead his hird to a bloody and glorious victory, amid hoarse shouts of blóðøx.

It is the author’s great skill that he is able to put flesh on the bones of a few lines of Norse literature and create a wealth of believable characters, which the reader becomes utterly invested in.  Mr May invites his reader to suspend their disbelief in the fantastic with such subtlety that the presence of a lycanthropic monster, or the earthly manifestation of a god, is accepted without question. This is the heroic world where tales are told in the mead hall and monstrous shapes summoned by skalds in the shadows of flickering flames. Odin, the All-Father, does love his poetry, after all.

"When one-eyed wandering poets ask you to honour their wishes Erik, it's usually a good idea to do so... Particularly if they haven't aged a day in twenty winters."

Yet just when you think the tale is told, that a kingdom is won and Erik’s tapestry is woven, such is the fate of men that the three sisters of wyrd pick at loose threads, their shears poised to cut the warp and weft of heroes, and bring all crashing down in ruination and death in the world of Midgard. For, as Erik has concentrated on the Nor’way, foreign kings have conspired to weave patterns of their own.

But Erik has a destiny, told him by a warlock of the far north, and will snatch the threads of his life from the blades of the hags of fate, which fortunately for us means there will be an Erik Haraldsson Book 2. Form the shieldwall, raise the standard, Blóðøx! Blóðøx!

This is historical fiction as it’s meant to be written, absolutely top notch stuff from a writer at the peak of his craft.
Bloodaxe is available at Amazon

Monday, 19 February 2018

The Wolf Banner by Paula Lofting - a review

“1058. This year Alfgar, the earl, was banished; but he soon came in again, with violence, through Gruffudds' aid. And this year came a fleet from Norway: it is tedious to tell how all these matters went.”

So wrote a scribe, his opinion preserved for all these long ages since in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. “Tedious to tell”? Not at all, as we revisit C11th Horstede in Sussex and reacquaint ourselves with Wulfhere and his household, who we met in Sons of the Wolf.
Wulfhere is a man tormented by inner demons, suffering from combat stress, his relationship with his pregnant mistress putting implacable strain on his marriage to his wife, Ealdgytha. While his children squabble incessantly, the long running blood feud with his neighbour Helghi bubbles away, despite his lord Harold Godwinson ordering his two Sussex liege men to bury their hatchets, by way of marriage. The one bright ray of sunshine is the impending marriage of his eldest daughter to the Aemund son of his friend Leofnoth… as long as her dalliance with Helghi’s son hasn’t ruined her chances of a fortuitous union, that is.
Meanwhile in the strategically important earldom of Mercia, the elderly Earl Leofric is dying. His son Aelfgar should inherit the earldom but is tainted by his previous exile and subsequent ransacking of Hereford in the company of his ally, Gruffudd of Wales. Will Aelfgar’s hatred of the growing power and influence of the Godwinsons overpower his loyalty to King Edward? What of Aelfgar’s first born son Burgheard? He condemned his father over Hereford, where do his loyalties now lie?
Wolf Banner is a real page turner, through the eyes of the characters we can see the unfolding drama of the C11th. It is extremely well researched as all the threads of the time begin to create the tapestry leading up to inevitable conflict and destruction of this world. The characters are fleshed out and flawed, not one is a perfect hero, each has their weaknesses or will take advantage of others in their pursuit their goals.
Having enjoyed Ms Lofting’s first book of this series it was a joy to return to the C11th. Her storytelling goes from strength to strength. This is an author whose craft is becoming as sharply honed as the blades wielded in the battles she admirably describes.
Words of the time are skilfully entwined in the dialogue making the world all the more real. All life is here; love, desire, hope, distrust, betrayal, war, triumph and achingly painful loss. There is humour in Aemund’s battle with his wife’s aunt Gunhild, as a reader I thoroughly enjoyed the old battleaxe‘s humiliation - well deserved I think! The war of words between Burgheard and his adversary Ragnald in Wulfgar’s hall was coarsely realistic but absolutely enjoyable; I felt like I was there listening to the increasingly ill-tempered debate and trading of insults.
Surely you can tell an author’s worth if you feel emotionally invested in the characters, and you do in The Wolf Banner. I felt sorry for Burgheard, and sympathetic to his growing bitterness but it was good for him to have a storyline to be told, as he is a mere footnote, briefly mentioned in the writings of the time. Another character you feel for his Wulfhere’s youngest son, Tovi. Sacrificed in an attempt to heal the rift between his parents, his dreams trampled and abandoned, I feel he may yet be the one to save his father from his deep and crippling despair.

1058, tedious to tell? To the scribe perhaps but not for our characters in The Wolf Banner; their fates are set on their courses and their tales will continue in The Wolf’s Bane, there is the none-too-small matter of a blood price that requires payment; I can’t wait.

The Wolf Banner is available at Amazon

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Conan the Barbarian - an Appreciation

‘Know, oh prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars - Nemedia, Ophir, Brythunia, Hyberborea, Zamora with its dark-haired women and towers of spider-haunted mystery, Zingara with its chivalry, Koth that bordered on the pastoral lands of Shem, Stygia with its shadow-guarded tombs, Hyrkania whose riders wore steel and silk and gold. But the proudest kingdom of the world was Aquilonia, reigning supreme in the dreaming west. Hither came Conan the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jewelled thrones of the Earth under his sandaled feet…’
 - The Nemedian Chronicles, The Phoenix On the Sword 

It feels like I’ve grown up with Conan. Whereas Tolkien offers classic High Fantasy, Conan offered something a bit more earthy and brutal. My introduction came through looking at my elder brother’s Savage Sword of Conan comics when I was nine or ten. I say comic, but this was wholly different from the comics such as the Beano which my friends read. Being one to always pick up a pencil and draw when I was young, I loved the artwork and the depiction of monsters and warriors, not to mention the… well let us just say that I had to be careful reading these comics as my mother didn’t fully approve of the scantily clad women shown within. It seems very funny when I look back at it, all part of growing up!

Savage Sword of Conan Magazine covers


If I recall Savage Sword of Conan was a monthly and through it I found that the character and the world of the Hyborian Age was the invention of a Texan writer called Robert E Howard. As well as the comic there was a whole series of novellas and short stories published by Lancer books, written by either Howard himself or by L Sprague le Camp and Lin Carter among others. Each had a glossy cover by such amazing artists such as Frank Franzetta and each tale would draw you in to a world of fast-paced adventure; I was hooked!

Conan paperback

Robert E Howard was a complex and tragic character. He was born in 1906 and committed suicide at the age of 30.  He was the son of a travelling physician and his childhood took him through a variety of boomtowns. It was his mother who inspired him intellectually through her love of literature and poetry and at the age of nine he began to write, the ability to make his way in the world through his writing was his dream. Howard hated the boom-bust nature of the oil towns of the time and the crime that followed in its wake and the tuberculosis that afflicted his mother was a constant cause of concern. He hated the jobs he had to undertake to earn a living and finally quit in 1926 to pursue writing by taking a college course. He submitted stories to the pulp magazine Weird Tales. It took another three years but he finally became a full-time writer at the age of 23. He entered into a correspondence with HP Lovecraft and look set for a comfortable life when the Great Depression struck. It was at this low ebb, whilst travelling the state, he conceived the land of Cimmeria and over the course of nine months he developed the character of Conan and the world of the Hyborian Age. Unknown to him he had invented the whole sword and sorcery genre.

Robert E Howard

Howard became preoccupied in caring for his ailing mother and writing became increasingly difficult. When his mother slipped into a terminal coma he took his own life in 1936. In truth Howard’s Conan writing had been brief and he had lost interest in the character from 1934, preferring to write westerns (two of the later Conan tales, Beyond the Black River and The Treasure of Tranicos, both set in the Pictish Wilderness had a decidedly western feel to them). Yet the research and fragments of unpublished work he had put into his world building, enabled others to pick up the baton to give us the great number of Conan stories that we have today.

So who is Conan? Conan is described as a black haired warrior of the northern land of Cimmeria. As the name suggests he is perhaps Celtic. He is described as having a mane of black hair and eyes of smouldering blue. In stature he is tall and muscular; a born fighter but also possessing intelligence and tactical skill. The various stories have him travelling far and wide over Hyboria, during which he becomes adept at several languages and (most surprising for a barbarian) able to read and write.
Hyboria - Wikipedia - Gnome press by David Kyle

 I always liked the maps reproduced in the books showing the pre-flood Hyboria transposed with the modern. With his love of history Howard purposely used similar names to make the Hyborian world seem plausible.

The genius of the Conan stories is that you can dip in and out at different stages of his career. So you can catch him as a young barbarian still in the vicinity of Cimmeria in The Frost Giant’s Daughter and then read of him as the King of Aquilonia in The Scarlet Citadel (the latter almost gives a blueprint for the future RPG Dungeons & Dragons!)

Of course I couldn’t write of Conan without making mention of the films. I remember the excitement building about the impending film project in the pages of The Savage Sword of Conan. Everyone already had Arnold Schwarzenegger as playing the titular character, indeed the future Associate Producer of the film (Edward Summer) had put his name forward in 1975 after seeing Schwarzenegger in the film Pumping Iron. Schwarzenegger was approached in 1977 and convinced to sign up to the role. However it took five years  until finally  the film Conan the Barbarian was released in 1982.

Conan the Barbarian poster 1982
The Heavy Metal music magazine, Kerrang, reviewed it and called it the "Cinematic equivalent of a Motorhead concert". They weren't wrong; for the time it was quite a violent film I suppose with a degree of nudity. The world of Hyboria was recreated in Spain with an original story using elements of Howard's stories, most notably from A Witch Shall be Born and The Phoenix on the Sword.

The film begins with a chronicler reciting part of the Nemedian passage as above.  Conan is born the son of a blacksmith in Cimmeria. His father forges a mighty sword and tells him  that he must quest for the riddle of steel but his village is raided by an evil wizard and his retinue under a snake banner. His parents are killed and his father's sword taken. The child Conan is led to captivity where he works on the wheel of pain becoming large and muscular after many years pushing it. He is then put in a gladiatorial ring where he proves his worth, receiving weapons training and education. He is freed  and becomes a thief with a Hykrainian archer called Subotai and a female warrior called Valeria.

Conan and Valeria become lovers after they rob a temple of the snake god Set. During the robbery Conan recognises the symbol of Set as the one carried by his parent's killers. While celebrating their newly found fortune they are arrested by city guards and brought before King Osric. The temple of Set has demanded the king deal harshly with the perpetrators. Osric reveals that his own daughter has fallen under the spell of Thulsa Doom, the leader of the cult. He offers wealth beyond measure if the trio liberate her and bring her home. Subotai and Valeria refuse but motivated by his thirst for revenge Conan embarks on his own where he meets a wizard guarding an old burial ground, the chronicler of his tale.
Subotai, Conan and Valeria before King Osric
Attempting to infiltrate Thulsa Doom's mountain of power while disguised as a priest Conan is captured. Interrogated by Thulsa Doom he reveals who he is. Doom tells him the riddle of steel before ordering Conan's crucifixion on the tree of woe. Under the baking sun and surviving the predation of vultures Subotai rescues him. Valeria demands the wizard heal Conan. He says he can summon spirits to effect the healing but they will extract a heavy toll, which Valeria agrees to pay. The wizard works his spell and during the might the spirits attempt to take Conan who has been tethered to the ground. His companions ward them off and Conan is restored to health.
The trio now infiltrate the Mountain of Power during a cannibalistic orgy, during which Thulasa Doom transforms into a snake. Rescuing the daughter of Osric they make good their escape but Doom, back in human form, shoots a snake arrow which kills Valeria, thereby confirming the heavy toll she had to pay for Conan's life.
Thulsa Doom taking snake form.
Valeria's funeral pyre alerts Doom of Conan's whereabouts and he and his retinue, including his high priests Rexor and Thorgrim attack the burial site which Conan, Subotai and the wizard have fortified. During the battle Valeria in spirit form saves Conan and they successfully fend off the attack, killing Thorgim and Rexor. Seeing his men defeated Doom tries to shoot the princess with another of his snake arrows but Subatoi defends her with a shield. Conan recovers his father's sword from his enemies in shards, after it was shattered during the battle. Perhaps this symbolises the riddle of steel, that flesh is stronger.

Back at his temple Doom addresses his followers but Conan confronts him, avoiding the wizard's attempt to control him and beheads Doom with his father's sword. With the cult destroyed Conan sets fire to the temple.

The film ends with an older Conan sat upon a throne, wearing a crown upon a troubled brow.

The sweeping orchestral score by Basil Poledouris is to my mind quite brilliant, with its recurring themes possessing an operatic quality. The soundtrack is now one of my most listened to pieces of music. 
It was through Conan that the acting career of Arnold Schwarzenegger took off. His certainly looked the part, although his physique and movement possibly lacked the "cat-like" agility that Howard described.
The film spawned a sequel  two years later- Conan the Destroyer  - and also a cinematic rendition of the comic book creation of Red Sonja (loosely based on one of Howard's characters). However I feel that the less said about these the better!
Although being 35 years old the effects hold  up very well.

In 2011 a reboot was released with Jason Mamoa (Khal Drogo from Game of Thones) in the titular role. In many ways Mamoa is a superior depiction of Howard's hero. He swings a sword more naturally than Schwarzenegger and has that cat-like agility the character was supposed to possess. You could believe this Conan could climb whereas the original seemed too solid to do so. It promised much with modern CGI and indeed the 2011 Conan the Barbarian is a feast for the eyes, albeit a violent one. However, personally its disappointing and a wasted opportunity, the story completely losing its direction after the death of Conan's father (played by Ron Perlman). Despite Mamoa, Perlman, the superior special effects and strong female characters played by Rose MacGowan and Rachel Nichols, nothing can make up for the disjointed and cliched storyline. It possesses none of the operatic grandeur of the 1982 film.

Jason Mamoa - Conan the Barbarian 2011
Perhaps Conan was the man that Howard wished he could be. Although being a bookish child he took up body building and boxing. However after passing out in the heat whilst working as a surveyor he discovered he had a heart condition. He suffered badly from stress and was riddled with self doubt, despite his commercial success. His mother suffered from TB for decades and his father's work took him away from the family home frequently. It seems that Howard was his mother's primary carer and would explain why he stayed living with his parents, perhaps through a feeling of duty. The one chance of romance was passed by due to his devotion to his mother. Its been suggested that perhaps he had a latent Oedipus Complex but its likely that today he would likely have been diagnosed as being clinically depressed. When his need to care for his mother ended he went to his car shot himself in the head.  Throughout his 160 odd stores of men in control of their own destiny, maybe this was his decision to finish his life on his own terms.
Pulp writer he may have been but personally I owe him a debt of gratitude for the fantastic escapism he has given me over the years. He has received much criticism over the years and been described as a poor imitation of Lovecraft, whereas in truth they both influenced each other. I would argue that his influence in the fantasy genre is equal to Tolkien. Most of all he is a master spinner of fast paced and highly enjoyable yarns. As the horror writer Stephen King noted - "Howard's writing seems so highly charged with energy that it nearly gives off sparks."
Back in 2013 rumours began to circulate that a script was being prepared, based around King Conan and having Schwarzenegger reprise his role. As of yet we are still waiting for what might be...

King Conan - Conan the Barbarian 1982

When I was a fighting-man, the kettle drums they beat;
The people scattered gold-dust before my horse' feet;
But now I am a great king, the people hound my track
With poison in my wine-cup, and daggers at my back.
The Road of Kings

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Philosophising Coincidence

“Ah hello again, I hope I didn’t confuse you too much during our last little chat?”
“When we spoke of the nature of matter? A little, but it got me thinking, as I cogitated our discussion; you said that we reside in a “goldilocks” universe and yet everything is really just energy at different frequencies of vibration?”
“That’s correct and that it may be one of several realities in a multiverse, as exhibited by the double slit experiment and the wave of potentials. “
“You said that there were at least nine parallel universes occupying the same time and space as ours and you also mentioned all these coincidences that make this reality the way it is…”
“Indeed, I remember. Has this thinking led you down a rabbit hole?”
“I’ll say. It just leads deeper and deeper. You said that the moon is just happens to be the same ratio of size and distance to enable us to view a solar eclipse and that it’s gravitational effect keeps our planet tectonically active. Well I did some more research of my own about the moon, and… oh I will come across as literally a lunatic!”
“We are friends, trying to understand our reality. I won’t judge you. Where did this research lead you?”
“It led me to believe that the moon shouldn’t exist.”
“That’s a dramatic conclusion! Why would you say that?”

“It’s too big for one thing. If you look at other planets in our solar system and the comparative size of their satellites you conclude that the moon should be roughly 40 miles in diameter, but Luna is 2000, Its orbit is an almost perfect circle, not elliptical and as it orbits the planet it spins but once so that it always shows its one face to the earth.  It’s old of course roughly 4.5 billion years and so comparable with earth and yet some of the rocks were estimated at being 5.3 billion years.”
“Well we know it’s old due to the cratered surface.”
“The craters yes, some big over 60 miles across and some small less than 15. Yet… all the same depth.
“That’s weird.”
“Yes because the moon has in effect a 20 mile thick titanium shell which acts like ballistic nylon, absorbing the impact and disintegrating the bullet that hits hit.”
“A shell? Is that the correct term?”
 Yes, when space probes have purposely been crashed on its surface the whole body has rung like a bell, suggesting it’s actually hollow.”

“So… where does that lead us. How was it formed by the way?”
“Conventional theory states that a large body crashed into earth when all was molten rock, the result being that Luna broke away to form the moon we see today… the perfect moon and all by sheer coincidence.
“But how can it be hollow and made the way it is, if it’s formed from the same rocks as earth? Hang on. Hollow. A twenty mile thick shell, placed in a near perfect orbit. Anywhere else, that would sound like a spaceship. But if this isn’t the case – and conventional science of course says it isn’t – then it’s all mere coincidence, but…”

 “To quote a famous film – That’s no moon! Ha, ha. Coincidences, yes… the more you look for them, the stranger the universe becomes. I looked into your nine parallel universes and something struck me.”
“Brilliant, I’m loving this philosophising, let me list them so I remember. There’s the Quilted Universe where in an infinite universe every conceivable event happens an infinite number of times but the speed of light prevents us from being aware of them. There’s the Inflationary universe whereby inflation fields collapse to reform anew. There’s the membrane  or Brane universe, whereby the universe exists on a 3 dimensional membrane that coexists with a higher dimensional membranes. Then there’s the Cyclic universe where the membranes collide again and again, causing big bangs. Theres’s also the Landscape universe that relies on the reality of string theory and quantum fluctuations creating a pocket with laws different than that of the surrounding space.  How many is that so far? Five, so four more! My favourites left really. The Quantum, where each diversion creates a new universe. There’s the Ultimate where every mathematically possible universe exists with different sets of physics. The weirdest I’ve left to last; we have the Holographic where the entire universe is formed from two dimensional information projected from the event horizon of a black hole and the Simulated whereby we are part of a vast computer simulation. So then, which theory of the universe do you like the most and how did it help with your investigation into coincidences?”
“Partly holographic, partly simulated, which aligns with the narrow band of electromagnetic spectrum you described during our last conversation.”
“Go on.”
“You know the worlds within worlds idea where solar systems almost mirror the atoms that make our universe. “
“Electrons orbit a nucleus like planets around a sun. Yes it’s like a repeating pattern on different scales.”
“Exactly and then you have a galaxy of suns orbiting the core and an infinite number of galaxies all moving and interacting on a colossal scale. The odd thing is that each galaxy looks like a biological cell, the black hole in the centre, its nucleus.  Simulations of the universe with strings and clusters of galaxies looking remarkably like a brain cells with neurons connecting with one another.”

“Fascinating. So the universe itself is a giant brain? But isn’t the universe expanding?”
“Ha, yes it is, perhaps it mirrors our own conversations. Our minds are opening up!”