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Sunday, 13 April 2014

The Promethean Galaxy

The Promethean Galaxy was the first book I ever wrote, way back in 1990. In fact it was the first non-fiction I ever wrote, apart from scientific papers. I tried it on a few publishers at the time, but they all said the same thing – that it didn’t fit into any of their categories. The book wasn’t popular science or philosophy or literary criticism or popular culture, but a weird mixture of all the above. It was a bit like this blog, in other words!

The original version of the book was 30,000 words long, but I tightened it up to 18,000 words in 2004 and self-published it as an ebook. I noticed a few days ago that some kind and discerning person just bought a copy from Amazon, which is what brought it back to mind. Who says self-published books never sell?

“The Promethean Galaxy” is a quote from a comic book – Jack Kirby’s New Gods #5, from 1971. Although I was a 13-year old comic reader at the time, I didn't buy that particular issue, or any of Jack Kirby’s 1970s titles for that matter. I didn’t want to be seen with them – they looked childish and old-fashioned to my sophisticated teenage tastes! It was only in 1989 that I bought a complete set of New Gods reprints and decided they were really very good. So it was all fresh in my mind when I sat down in front of my very first PC to write The Promethean Galaxy in 1990.

I managed to squeeze a lot of other cool stuff into the book, too, and then added a few more items to the mix when I revised it in 2004. Here is a list I made on the latter occasion:

...... Astounding Science Fiction and Isaac Asimov ...... Astral travel and astrology ...... Charles Fort and Erich von Daniken ...... Einstein and General Relativity ...... Jack Kirby and The New Gods ...... Kant, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Jung ...... Linguistic relativism and the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis ...... Parapsychology and UFOs ...... Philip K. Dick and Gnosticism ...... Quantum entanglement and emergent phenomena ...... Shakespeare and Tom Stoppard ...... Sir Francis Bacon and Sir Isaac Newton ...... Star Trek and The Matrix ...... Tennyson, Shelley, Voltaire and Wagner ...... The Many Worlds Hypothesis and hyperspace ...... Thomas Kuhn and paradigm shifts ...... Warp drives and wormholes ......

– or as I said a moment ago, pretty much like this blog!

Let’s see if I can keep the ball rolling and sell more than that one copy. Here are a few links so you can choose your favourite format:
... and here is the book’s blurb:
Planet Earth is a constituent part of the Galaxy, but only a microscopically small part – a tiny chunk of rock. Like Prometheus, we are chained to this rock, and constrained to view the Galaxy from this one perspective only. Why should we be interested in the Galaxy in the first place, and – with such a restricted viewpoint – how can we ever hope to learn anything about it? These questions are addressed in this book, which draws on an eclectic heritage of science, philosophy, mysticism, poetry and fiction.

4 comments:

Peni R. Griffin said...

Well, but what's the thesis of the book? What idea brings all these elements together?

Andrew May said...

Sorry! It did cross my mind to address that question, but I decided it was explained pretty well in the book's blurb which was included in all the links I gave. But I should have thought things through further, shouldn't I? People are only going to click the link if they're interested enough to want to find out more, and maybe I didn't say enough to get to that point. So I've just tagged the blurb onto the end of the post!

David From AU said...

There you go - one more (from Australia).

Andrew May said...

Thanks very much, David - hope you like it!