The Inevitable Cycle

This summer, I had a wonderful opportunity to visit Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. It’s famous as the site where Percival Lowell observed Mars for many years, recording his observations of the canals he—and most mainstream scientists of the day—believed they saw. Lowell-Crypt It’s also the observatory where Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto. Of course, in mythology, Pluto is the Roman god of the underworld and a figure closely associated with the spirits of the dead. As I’ve mentioned in a couple of other blog posts here at The Scarlet Order, it’s also the site of Percival Lowell’s Crypt. In the photo, you see my daughters and I visiting the tomb.

If you look carefully at the tomb, there are two epigraphs, one on each side of the door. The one on the right reads, in part, “Everything around this Earth we see is subject to one inevitable cycle of birth, growth, decay … nothing begins but comes at last to an end … though our own lives are too busy to mark the slow nearing to that eventual goal …” The words on this astronomer’s crypt go a long way to explaining what draws me to horror. Birth, growth, and decay are not only inevitable, but all can be frightening. Horror provides a mechanism for taking a look at the things that frighten us and getting a handle on them.

The epigraph continues: “Today what we already know is helping to comprehension of another world. In a not distant future we shall be repaid with interest and what that other world shall have taught us will redound to a better knowledge of our own and of the cosmos of which the two form a part.” The quote comes from Percival Lowell’s book, The Evolution of Worlds. Horror might be scary, but it reminds me that humans can overcome even the worst terrors to accomplish great things. In fiction that can be defeating a villain or a monster. In real life, we might conquer our fears to expand the borders of human understanding.

Lowell-telescope

Right next to Lowell’s crypt is the telescope where he observed Mars for many years. This visit was my first opportunity to go in, see the telescope and even look through it. We didn’t look at Mars, but the view of Saturn was unreal. We could see resolution in the clouds and the rings were sharp and beautiful. If the ghost of Percival Lowell wanders the observatory grounds, I suspect he’s proud of the job the people there do of giving the public a glimpse at the universe, which can be at once scary and beautiful.

I certainly hope to scare you when The Astronomer’s Crypt comes out, but I also hope you’ll see how people overcome fear and accomplish great things. Even though I hope to show you scary things in that novel, I also hope to show you some of the beauty that this universe and the people who inhabit it possess.

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A New Year, A Subtle Change

As we enter a new year, I’ve decided to remove one word from the title of the blog. It’s no longer “The Scarlet Order Vampires” but simply “The Scarlet Order.” As the updated subtitle says, it’s still a journal about vampires, but I’ve expanded the mission to discuss “other dark matters.” This will still be the place to learn about the Scarlet Order vampire mercenaries, but you’ll be able to learn about my new series called “The Wilderness of the Dead” as well. Of course, the journal will also discuss other horror and dark fiction topics of interest to me as well.

Lowell Mausoleum

The first novel of The Wilderness of the Dead series is entitled The Astronomer’s Crypt. I’m about 20,000 words into the novel and I plan to finish it this spring. My publisher tentatively plans to release it by Halloween. The novel takes its name from the fact that several astronomers have been interred at observatories they founded or loved. A great example is Percival Lowell, who studied Mars from a telescope in Flagstaff, Arizona. His crypt is on the grounds of Lowell Observatory, near the telescope where he spent hours studying Mars. Other astronomers such as James Lick have actually been interred in the piers of telescopes themselves. One can’t help but wonder if the ghosts of these astronomers still wander the grounds of the observatories they loved so much.

Thanks to all of you who have followed the Scarlet Order Journal so far. I hope 2014 proves to be a wonderful and prosperous year for you. Please take a moment and drop by the “Book Info and Excerpts” page to learn more about my current crop of vampire and horror novels. I’ll add info about The Astronomer’s Crypt there as well once it gets closer to publication.