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Lest We Forget…

…that the Great War was not about clean monuments, plastic poppies, and solemnly bowed heads.

wwi lest we forget
While Roger Stanley is a fictional character, the events he describes were all too common during the Great War: 

The bombardment hadn’t relented since this morning. The ground trembled incessantly. In the corner of his eye, a dark shape moved. Almost habitually Roger glanced at the barbed wire along the top of the parapet. In the tangled mess hung a soldier, arms spread wide in the wire, head lolling backwards. With every explosion, he swayed. They’d have taken the poor sod down long ago if not for the bullets that

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Black Death: A Tiny Mass Murderer

black death

October, 1347. Twelve ships entered the harbour of Messina, Sicily:

“The people who gathered on the docks to greet the ships were met with a horrifying surprise: Most of the sailors aboard the ships were dead, and those who were still alive were gravely ill.”

This is the standard passage telling of the Black Death arriving in Europe. While doing research for Leo’s story,

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Hybrid Animals: when gods create jigsaw puzzles

Chimera of Arezzo - hybrid animals

Hybrid animals are commonplace in mythology. Not the natural hybrids, like mules and ligers, but a seemingly random collection of animal and human body parts mashed together into a single being that may or may not be intelligent.

The best known of them were handed down from the ancient Greek and Mesopotamian cultures: satyrs, sphinx, lamassu, mermaids, angels, manticore and centaur apparently find their origins there. The list is immense, even without taking into account deities with the head of an animal as known to at least the Egyptian, Hindu and Aztec pantheons.

Very interesting, surely, but…

…where in blazes did humanity come up with this imagery?

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The Monsters You Never Recognise

Dark Monsters - Frenchy25 via Flickr

Picture yourself in a dark alley. There, in the shadows, the glint of bloody jaws. Something moves, its disfigured limbs crawling too fast to be natural. What is that?  You freeze, back up. Then, nothing. Did you imagine it? You listen, you watch, until you see something in the corner of your eye and—!

What makes monster stories so appealing? And why are we so inapt to recognise those very monsters in real life?