I began my writing career as a cub reporter at the Cincinnati Enquirer. While working for a major publishing company in the 1960s, I sensed the sudden influx of newly minted MBAs was a harbinger of traditional publishing’s decline. I ignored my trepidations and the advice of my parents and plunged into a writing career anyway, though I did hedge my bets by getting a PhD in Comparative Literature. I paid the bills by teaching at the university level. Concurrently, I worked as a technology journalist and technical writer, scripted computer games and a television episode, published several novels and a hundred or so poems, did story, scenario and report writing for the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, CA, and generally had a very good time. Most of my novels are available from on-line sellers like Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Several are also available as eBooks.
My latest books have had an archaeology theme, a lifelong interest.
A narrative non-fiction book called Mixed Harvest: The Story of the Sedentary Divide, its Origins and Consequences. This is mankind’s biography writ large from 70,000 years ago to around 4000 years ago when writing and cities emerged. The book traces the evolution of religion, diet, family structure and perception from the Paleolithic age of hunter-gatherers through what I call the Sedentary Divide, that period in the human story when we adopted agriculture, and were in turn adopted by it, leading to inequality, state religion, war, slavery, empire and the Tea Party. From this period emerged the city and the ideas of civilization. This project emerged from a series of seminars in Konya, Turkey on religion in the Neolithic.
This book’s title is Mixed Harvest. Harvest is an activity that emerged in that period in human history during which we adopted agriculture, the period I call the Sedentary Divide (14,000 and 4,000 years ago). It was a divide because before this period human life was one way, and after it was over, life was very different. Before, human beings did not harvest, they gathered. They found food in different places and different times of the year. There was a time for fruits, a time for nuts, a time for tubers; there was a time for fish and a time for game, a time to hunt large herbivores and a time to trap birds or small mammals. With agriculture came the emergence of the harvest, the harvest moon, which appeared at a specific time in the yearly cycle. Harvest was the consequence of planting. Agriculture brought benefits: soaring cathedrals, orchestral music, printed books, the technologies of memory and conversation. It also handed down to us unintended consequences: plagues, pollution, climate change, overpopulation, inequality, and war. Thus the harvest is mixed.
We gradually separated ourselves from the environmental context out of which we emerged, the fractal world we now call Nature. We domesticated our plants, our animals, and ourselves. We straightened the world until we are ruled by our buildings, roads, borders, and texts. Agriculture, as Jared Diamond suggested in the 1980s, could well have been mankind’s worst mistake. Whether it was or not, we are today dealing with the unintended consequences of a thousand small decisions made thousands of years ago. If we understand what happened then, perhaps we can make better decisions today, decisions that could well save our species from extinction.
The Delphi Agenda, best-seller available on Kindle.
YOU THOUGHT THE INQUISITION WAS SCARY THE FIRST TIME AROUND—NOW THEY HAVE MODERN TECHNOLOGY!
Papyrologist Lisa Emmer’s world flips when the Surete meets her at her Metro station with news of the savage murder of the esteemed Paris historian Dr. Raimond Foix, her friend and mentor in the study of ancient documents. Horrified, Lisa finds clues at the crime scene left behind for her by her mentor—clues to a secret kept hidden for centuries. These clues make her a prime suspect in the murder investigation, and also put her directly in the cross-hairs of a deadly commando group that proves to be none other than a contemporary offshoot of the Inquisition.
They want an ancient document that reveals a secret so explosive it could change the world—a document they’ve been tracking for centuries. Led by a sadistic priest and a vicious but very accomplished nun with excellent military cred, their mission is to destroy the document—no matter what the cost in blood.
Desperate to clear her name and to stay alive, with the help of a handsome yet mysterious banker, Lisa must solve the clues and uncover the millennia-old secret before her adversaries can find and destroy it. Since she was a child Lisa had suffered from uncontrollable fugue states. Now she discovers just in time that what she always thought was a liability may in fact be an almost paranormal ability to see things in ways others cannot. The trail leads everywhere from ancient cemeteries and tombs throughout France to Istanbul and Greece, as Lisa and Steve desperately stay one step ahead of their enemies, solving the clues to a dangerous treasure hunt their lives now depend upon.
A must-read for fans of Steve Berry, Dan Brown and Raymond Khoury!
I am currently working on a sequel called The Lamashtu Agenda.
My Thriller in Paradise series has also been reissued on Kindle.
Essays and Short Stories at the Electronic Book Review
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.
Read the first chapter of my novel The White Pig. It is available online in both eBook and paper.
© 2012 Rob Swigart