The Book of Skulls by Robert Silverberg


[NOTE:  Books and other media are not discussed here as reviews and will probably contain spoilers.  For pure reviews, please consult my Goodreads profile]

The concept is intriguing, four friends off on a trip to immortality.  Only 2 will survive, and all four know that.  One may fight for and against comparisons to the writers of the four gospels. However the religions of the four: Jewish, Protestant, Atheist and Catholic, try/tend to create a different comparison.

The book is written with the chapters alternating from each of the four characters to the next.

The trip is to Arizona.  The house that the wife and I recently purchased was once owned by a Mr. Longyear who later went out to Arizona and then returned in his late 70s to start the region’s first housing development. No idea (if or) when he died.

While the subject of male homosexuality is dealt with well here, sexism is rampant and women are literally nameless vessels.

The instructions are bland to anyone who has spent a weekend researching immortality.  One leaves the book wondering if the cult involved is self-deluded.

Silverberg is a great writer.  Great afternoon read and don’t chew too much.


Bibliography: the project


I’ve always been a heavy reader.  I’ve also always had mystic/occultist/scholarly tendencies.  Throughout my life I’ve scribbled themes and lists of books in notebooks and then carefully picked through libraries and books stores to find them.

In the mid-90s, I became inspired by Gygax’s Appendix N, and Crowley’s Reading Lists both in Liber E and Liber ABA.  I started to consolidate the lists in all my notebooks.  Any book mentioned in a book I had read (including advertisements) or was recommended went on the list.  I slowly created (am creating?) a point system to deal with overlaps.

Of course, I started seeing patterns.  Around the time, I was reading a ton of Robert Anton Wilson and the whole thing clicked in my head.

Anyone who has survived OM (Operation Mindfuck) from Wilson and his crew of Discordians can imagine where I ended up taking that journey.  Anyone who hasn’t, well, I wouldn’t recommend it.

There are strict rules to the Bibliography and some of the rules are strictly arbitrary.   It’s been a project of over 20 years and the subjective patterns have taught me much about myself and the way I think.

Goodbye Hans


The other night I was battling insomnia by watching the 1964 Hammer Film The Gorgon.   About half way through, a dying character bids farewell to his manservant with a heartfelt “Goodbye Hans”.

Around that time I had to stop watching. Bathroom break or cat fight or something.  Maybe the wife woke up and I chatted with her for a bit.  When I went back to my Nook HD to finish the movie I had lost my place.  So I watched a different movie Seven Psychopaths, a black comedy released on Crowleymas 2012.   I know of no reason for these two movies to have anything in common.  Yet at one point, maybe halfway through, a character who is about to die turns to her reflection in the window and says, “Goodbye Hans”.Seven_Psychopaths_Poster

Turns out Christopher Walken’s character’s first name was Hans, a fact that I never paid attention to until then.   Quite a cute little bit of coincidence but I have not run into that phrase since.

39 clues series (original) by various

I devoured these 10 books in about a week and a half and recommended them to middle school kids for about 2 months after.  Then I was done. No interest in the 2nd series. I had completion. It was a great run. I never felt dumbed down to, the concepts were equally something both my 42 year-old self and your favorite middle school-er could investigate. There is definitely a bit of conspiracy horror, but there is no overt racism or idiot “symbology”.  That is still not a word, Dan Brown.  After a good cooling period I went on to the 2nd series. No interest here, I’m afraid. The writing was up to par. I can deal with vague Modern World settings but vague Pre-Industrial, I lose interest. My fault. Props to all the authors that involved themselves with this project, you are mighty mighty unto the lore.