Former technology journalist, technical writer, computer game designer, poet, futurist, archaeology writer, pilot, diver, aikido black belt, parent, rumpus room manager. Current fiction writer, grandparent, and sometime urban rambler.
Mixed Harvest: Stories from the Human Past, Berghahn Books, 2020.
Gold Nautilus Award, Multicultural and Indigenous
Harvest follows planting. Among the benefits are soaring cathedrals, orchestral music, printed books, long-form television series, chocolate mousse. Unintended consequences include plagues, pollution, climate change, overpopulation, inequality, and war. Thus the harvest is mixed.
After millennia of wandering the earth with little impact, a universal, if inadvertent transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture and pastoralism was complete within a few thousand years. Mixed Harvest tells the story of the Sedentary Divide, the most significant event since modern humans emerged. Before the Sedentary Divide, humans followed their food; afterward, the human diet had abandoned wild foods by domesticating, and irrevocably changing, plants and animals. People remained in one place and kept their food close. Agriculture was so successful that religious and social belief systems evolved to enforce its consequences: social inequality, exploitation of resources, constrained gender relations, and increasingly devastating conflict.
For those interested in learning more about the Paleolithic caves around northern Spain, Charles Schwalbe at Northernexposurespain not only provides reasonably priced personalized tours but sends out a regular newsletter with links to the latest archaeological research. He is extremely knowledgable about the region (including Iron Age and Roman archaeology) and was invaluable for some of the stories in this book. To sign up for his free newsletter, follow the link.
From the Publisher:
JOB DESCRIPTION: DELPHIC ORACLE, CURRENTLY SERVING
TO-DOS: STOP APOCALYPSE. ASAP!
In this action-packed historical thriller, an ancient, extremely dark religion gains terrifying vitality and power, as the pieces of a 3,000-year-old Sumerian jigsaw puzzle fall into place.
A clay tablet turns up, containing a prophecy of demons, a snake goddess, and the birth of a “disruptive” miraculous child. A prophecy so dangerous the tablet was smashed to bits, and the shards scattered to all the cities of the ancient world to prevent reassembling, until a Jesuit scholar’s vision sets the prophecy in motion in Paris, where the pieces have lain for centuries, half a world and three millennia away from their source.
Yet very close to the current home of Lisa Emmer, chosen the Pythia, head of the Delphi Agenda, because of her gift of sight, and trained in ancient world studies by a mentor who promised to “teach you life”; more accurately, he might have said “teach you to save the world from evil.” Prophecy is Lisa’s bailiwick—she’s the modern-day Delphic Oracle, head of a secret organization whose purpose is to protect the world from rogue conspiracies within the Church.
Over the centuries, the Delphi Agenda has prevented the cult of Ophis Sophia from the fulfillment of their doomsday prophecy several times. Now, in a suspenseful race against an alignment of planets and comets that signals the “wondrous child’s” impending birth, Lisa speeds to find and protect the mother and child. If she’s too late, “disruption” will take on a devastating new meaning.
Fans of intrepid women sleuths will love Lisa, as well as anyone smitten with the romance of the ancient world, and action-adventure in historical fiction and thriller conspiracies, (especially those involving the Catholic church, like The DaVinci Code). Sure to please fans of Dan Brown, Steve Berry, and the first Lisa Emmer thriller, The Delphi Agenda.
The Thriller in Paradise series is also available on Kindle.
Essays and Stories
Satisfying Ambiguity, essay written just after 9/11. The Wizard of Oz meets the Delphic Oracle. George W. Bush needed a brain. Dick Cheney needed a heart…
Past Futures, Future’s Past, essay: The emergence of the concept of linear time and the beginning of history during the Sedentary Divide.
Not Just a River, essay: Denial, according to Mark Twain, is not just a big river in Egypt.
Anomalies, essay: Three books that investigate the anomalous, address the unexplained, and answer the impossible. The truth is in here.
Dispersion, short story. Digital media fragment us.
Seeking, short story. Personal ads have never been this complicated.
Water, short story on the Literary Cafe. A bath in broad red strokes.
The Tale of Genji, an essay on sex, death, and translation delivered in Tokyo in 1984.
The Hegemony of the Straight Line, How agriculture changed the way we see.
Mine, a short story in Jet Fuel Review. A night on the town with Dante…
“The Factory,” a short story about one aftermath of the Vietnam War. Purchase a copy of the magazine and support writing by America’s veterans. The Deadly Writers Patrol, Spring, 2020.
“Sigrid,” a fable, in Sublunary Review.
“Disappointment,” Salomé’s career after John, a short story in Stonecoast Review #14, Winter 2021.
“Floater,” a short story of drowned hopes, South Carolina Review. Volume 53.2, Spring 2021
A short letter to the future I wrote to my grandson.
“The Memory of Charles Babbage,” short story about a day at the beach. Mikrokosmos, Mojo 19.
© 2020 Rob Swigart