NEW

The Santa Myth…

...And Why Pit Such a Cheery Legend Against the Horror of Zombies? by John Mayer Although this very question sounds paradoxical, the horror genre has always been at its best when it injects the shocking, the gruesome, the profane, the unknown, the ugly with the...

Storytime with Ian: Who are the Jötnar?

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”. See, that’s where the Christianity has it all wrong. All good Vikings knew the real story of how it all really began. The same way it will all end. With giants. Ginnungagap was the great emptiness before there...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact: Gwendolyn Nix gwen@outlandentertainment.com SANTA VS ZOMBIES, ORIGINAL GRAPHIC NOVEL, LAUNCHES ON KICKSTARTER  Adventurous world full of Christmas cheer and gore to launch April 9, 2019   TOPEKA, KANSAS (April 11, 2019)—A new...

NEW COMIC, ORC GIRL & GOBBO, RELEASES FROM OUTLAND ENTERTAINMENT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact: Gwendolyn Nix gwen@outlandentertainment.com NEW COMIC, ORC GIRL & GOBBO, RELEASES FROM OUTLAND ENTERTAINMENT  New Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy Comic Releases on March 29, 2019 TOPEKA, KANSAS (March 29, 2019)—Orc Girl & Gobbo, a...

Planet Comicon 2019 Booth #1925

Hello folks! As we do every year, we'll be out at our hometown show, Planet Comicon. We'll have a variety of books, games, comics, and artwork on the table for you to check out! We'll be at booth #1925. This year, special guest Chris Yarbrough will be joining us for...

NEW VIKINGVERSE GRAPHIC NOVEL, THE JÖTUNN WAR, LAUNCHES ON KICKSTARTER

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact: Gwendolyn Nix gwen@outlandentertainment.com NEW VIKINGVERSE GRAPHIC NOVEL, THE JÖTUNN WAR, LAUNCHES ON KICKSTARTER The first of a four-issue graphic novel brings Norse history to life this March TOPEKA, KANSAS (March 22, 2019)— The...

Reclaiming Norse Mythology from the Nazis by Ian Stuart Sharpe

It is one of the most iconic scenes in modern cinematic history:  Indiana Jones is in a desperate race against the Nazis, a lone hero battling against the entire German war machine to prevent an ancient artefact of immense power from falling into the wrong hands. Of...

Interview with Ian Stuart Sharpe, Author of The All Father Paradox!

Q: What made you write The All Father Paradox? Ian Stuart Sharpe: I think it was preordained. Not in a crazy way, you understand. You just learn to spot the signs, to realize that something is off-kilter. For example, in the year 793AD, according to the Anglo-Saxon...

THE ALL FATHER PARADOX Releases in October!

THE ALL FATHER PARADOX by Ian Stuart Sharpe Coming in October! What if an ancient god escaped his fate…and history was thrown to the wolves? Churchwarden Michaels thought it was just a run-of-the-mill crazy old man who stood in the graveyard, hellbent on studying the...

HATH NO FURY Has Hit the Shelves and E-Readers!

Mother. Warrior. Caregiver. Wife. Lover. Survivor. Trickster. Heroine. Leader.   This anthology features 21 stories and six essays about women who defy genre stereotypes. Here, it’s not the hero who acts while the heroine waits to be rescued; Hath No Fury’s women...
The Santa Myth…

The Santa Myth…

…And Why Pit Such a Cheery Legend Against the Horror of Zombies?
by John Mayer

Although this very question sounds paradoxical, the horror genre has always been at its best when it injects the shocking, the gruesome, the profane, the unknown, the ugly with the everyday lives of people and when it pits horror against cultural homeostasis. This conflict creates tension in a story and of course anyone who has taken a college creative writing course 101 has been taught that conflict moves a storyline. Frankenstein befriends a little girl, he admires a gentle flower; Dracula enters the peaceful and safe bedroom of sleeping damsels, and Satan started out as an angel and the favorite of God. And, every Stephen King piece starts with some idyllic setting, beautifully detailed before all hell breaks loose.

So, as long as we have had horror stories they have frightened us with evil entering into everyday life. Current horror fads, such as the slasher movies, echo this age-old formula. The happy, good-looking, care-free teenage culture is preyed upon by an evil maniac. Popular horror films of the last two years such as Get Out and Us, by Jordan Peele are set in pleasant everyday life, then the horror comes. The winning formula for fundamental scariness. Peele builds the atmosphere of ‘living the good life’ in both films then, BAM! It all goes horrifically bad. Many theologians posit that this is the most frightening horror of all, when the evil doer has no clear reason why they are choosing these people are their victims.

Recently, the Zombie genre has taken up subjects such as gentile setting of Pride and Prejudice (The film: Pride and Prejudice vs The Zombies) and the iconic Abraham Lincoln (vs Zombies), daring to pit zombies against cultural icons. Santa vs Zombies takes these recent treatments even further into our cultural ethos and challenges us to consider Santa at war with Zombies. Think about it, in our story we have Santa Claus, possibly the one purely joyful (jolly) tradition that is untouchably good and never associated with evil. Even God has enemies, has vengeance, inflicts his wrath on sinners, but Santa is pure joy and giving and kindness. In our story our Santa is all that, but he starts out tired because of the conditions in the world and the disbelief in him that is widespread. Like a Jordan Peele set-up, Santa innocently prepares for ‘one last ride’ on this Christmas night to spread joy and good cheer as always. But, when he arrives at his first stop he plops right into an apocalypse!

With only a limited time left, join the cheerful fray and support Santa Vs. Zombies on Kickstarter here!

***

ABOUT SANTA VS ZOMBIES

Meet Santa. He’s having a mid-life crisis. He hates his job and wishes he was doing anything else other than being Santa. He’s just going through the motions and that’s why he doesn’t notice the zombie apocalypse until it’s almost two late. Saved by two kids, he at first tries to get back to the North Pole only to discover that his reindeer have been eaten. On the run and just trying to survive, Santa befriends the kids and falls in love with their recently-divorced mother. Soon Santa rediscovers his Christmas spirit and does everything he can to save Christmas for the kids—even if it means his own death.

ABOUT JOHN MAYER

 John Mayer is a well-published author both in fiction and non-fiction with three previous novels, two screenplays and a performed stage play. With over twenty non-fiction books published. His latest, Family Fit: Find Your Balance in Life, which was published by Healthy Learning, one of the world’s foremost publishers of instructional materials for health/wellness, fitness, exercise, sports medicine, and camp professionals.

Mayer’s day job as a clinical psychologist specializing in violent behavior has him consulting to law enforcement regularly. His 10,000 Twitter followers (@DrJohnMayer) (@jemayerbooks) look to his daily tweets for advice on psychological issues. He is an associate staff psychologist for Doctor on Demand (doctorondemand.com ) as well as a provider (Telemedicine) on DoctoronDemand.

Mayer is also a writer for a cable TV series, The System, that is currently in production with the pilot episode completed.

ABOUT KOJI STEVEN SAKAI

Koji Steven Sakai is the founder of Little Nalu Pictures LLC and the CEO of CHOPSO (www.CHOPSO.com), the first Asian English streaming video service. He has written five feature films that have been produced, including the indie hit, The People I’ve Slept With. He also produced three feature films, a one-hour comedy special currently on Netflix, and Comedy InvAsian, a live and filmed series featuring the nation’s top Asian American comedians. Koji’s debut novel, Romeo & Juliet Vs. Zombies, was released in paperback in 2015 and in audiobook in 2016; his graphic novel, 442, came out in 2017. In addition, he is currently an adjunct professor in screenwriting at International Technological University in San Jose.

Storytime with Ian: Who are the Jötnar?

Storytime with Ian: Who are the Jötnar?

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”.

See, that’s where the Christianity has it all wrong. All good Vikings knew the real story of how it all really began. The same way it will all end.

With giants.

Ginnungagap was the great emptiness before there was the world, flanked by two inhospitable realms. There was Muspelheim, crossed by endless rivers of boiling poison and vast lakes of fire; and Niflheim, where icy volcanoes spewed forth frozen mists and arctic waters. Sparks and smoke met layers of rime and frost in the yawning void and from them came the first being.

A Jötunn, Ymir, appeared in the melting ice. From his sweat, the first Jötnar were born. Ymir fed on the milk of the primeval cow Auðumbla, also born of the meltwater. She licked the blocks of salty ice, releasing Búri, who was large, powerful, and beautiful to behold.

In time, Búri’s son Borr had three sons: the gods Óðinn, Vili, and Vé. The three sons of Borr had no use for Ymir and his growing family of cruel and brutish giants, so they attacked and killed him. So much blood flowed from the body that it drowned all the other giants except for two—Bergelmir and his wife escaped. They stole away in a hollowed-out tree trunk, a makeshift boat floating on the sea of gore to safety, to a land they named Jötunheim, home of the giants.

From Ymir’s body, the brothers made the world of humans: his blood, the seas and lakes, his flesh, the earth, his bones, the mountains and his teeth the rocks. From his skull, they made the dome of the sky, setting a dwarf at each of the four corners to hold it high above the earth. They protected the world from the Jötnar with a wall made from Ymir’s eyebrows. Next, they caused time to exist and placed the orbs of the sun and moon in chariots which were to circle around the sky.

Finally, the three brothers built their own realm. Ásgarð, a mighty stronghold, with green plains and shining palaces high over Miðgarð. They built the rainbow bridge Bifröst to link the realms. The Æsir, the guardians of men, crossed over the bridge and settled in Ásgarð.

There the gods would dwell, ever vigilant, until Ragnarok, the long-heralded last battle, where the monstrous Jötnar set about destroying the entire cosmos. Fenrir, the great wolf, consumes the world so swiftly that even the sun is dragged from its zenith and into the beast’s stomach.

The Jötnar have a pivotal role in Norse mythology. To the men of the North, the Jötnar had the power of oncoming storms, roaring volcanoes, and the clamorous oceans – in some sense, they were the personification of the merciless and indifferent power of Nature. They were the sires of the gods, their spouses and lovers, their constant foes and their inevitable doom.

And while the Jötnar are described as a race of beings distinct from the gods – as well as other creatures such as humans, elves, and dwarves – they are somewhat ambiguously described, both in their physique and their character. Some jötnar, such as Skrymir (who is known also as Útgarða-Loki), are depicted as being of an immense size, thus giving rise to the translation of the word ‘jötunn’ into English as ‘giant’.

Some jötnar, such as Skaði, were said to be extremely beautiful – in the Poetic Edda poem Grímnismál, Odin mentions the “ancient courts” of Þrymheimr, noting that the jötunn Þjazi once lived there, and that now his daughter Skaði does. Odin refers to Skaði as “the shining bride of the gods” and in some tales, the pair go on to marry and give birth to nations of kings. Some scholars go so far as to suggest that Scandinavia may be related to the name Skaði (potentially meaning ‘Skaði’s island’).

Other Jötnar were hideous. It is told in Snorri Sturluson’s Gylfaginning that at Baldr’s funeral his wife Nanna died of grief and was placed alongside him on his pyre. Hringhorni, Baldr’s ship, was the largest of all such vessels and was to serve as the god’s funeral ship. No one, however, could seem to launch the boat out to sea. The gods then enlisted the help of Hyrrokkin, who came from Jötunheimr, arriving on a giant wolf with vipers as reins. When she dismounted, Odin summoned four berserks to look after the animal but they were unable to control it without first rendering it unconscious. With her seismic strength, the giantess rolled the boat into the water.

In the Vikingverse, these stories and characters are more than just ancient myth. In the way that the Bible forms the daily bread of many devout Christians, the Jötnar are part of the fabric of society and its belief system.

Let me give you an example:

We were all recently horrified by the fire at Notre Dame. Social media was full of people’s personal memories, their own connection with the great stone cathedral and all and relics. We felt all felt a sense of profound loss.

All of a sudden, the Gargoyles on the roof were suddenly leering out of memory, all across the internet. Not bad for a beast used by the Catholic Church to illustrate evil.

French legend tells of St. Romanus, bishop of Rouen, who delivered the country from a monster called Gargouille. La Gargouille is said to have been the typical dragon with bat-like wings, a long neck, and the ability to breathe fire from its mouth. Multiple versions of the story are given, either that St. Romanus subdued the creature with a crucifix, or he captured the creature with the help of the only volunteer, a condemned man. In each, the monster is led back to Rouen and burned, but its head and neck would not burn due to being tempered by its own fire breath. The head was then mounted on the walls of the newly built church to scare off evil spirits and used for protection.

The parallels with the Jötnar are clear. Primeval, indefatigable titans who tread heavily in our nightmares, the bane of Christianity.  Demons to be defeated and cast into the Abyss. Trophies to be mounted on the wall of our proud monuments.

Now imagine a world were Christianity had been put to the Viking sword, where there was no Mother Church left to determine who was a saint and who was a sinner, no Catholic priests to stem the pagan tide and contain the wild, untrammelled beliefs of the Northerners. Forget Armageddon, Hellfire and the Antichrist. The world doesn’t end with a bang, or a whimper. It ends with a horde of unstoppable Jötnar.

If you want a truly terrifying End of Days, embrace your inner Viking and help Kickstart the Jötunn War.

###

ABOUT VIKINGVERSE

The Vikingverse is the alternate universe that results when Odin escapes his doom at Ragnarok; a parallel timeline where Vikings rule seas and stars and the storied heroes of mankind emerge in new and brutal guises drawn from the sagas. Hang on tightly, ’cause the Free World just got thrown to the wolves and the meek shan’t inherit this Earth.

ABOUT IAN STUART SHARPE

Ian Stuart Sharpe was born in London, UK, and now lives in British Columbia, Canada. Having worked for the BBC, IMG, Atari and Electronic Arts, he is now CEO of a tech start up. As a child he discovered his love of books, sci-fi and sagas: devouring the works of Douglas Adams, J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Pratchett, and George MacDonald Fraser alongside Snorri Sturluson and Sigvat the Skald. He once won a prize at school for Outstanding Progress and chose a dictionary as his reward, secretly wishing it had been an Old Norse phrasebook. The All Father Paradox is his first novel.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Gwendolyn Nix

gwen@outlandentertainment.com

SANTA VS ZOMBIES, ORIGINAL GRAPHIC NOVEL, LAUNCHES ON KICKSTARTER

 Adventurous world full of Christmas cheer and gore to launch April 9, 2019

 

TOPEKA, KANSAS (April 11, 2019)—A new graphic novel from Koji Steven Sakai and John Mayer called Santa VS Zombies launched on Kickstarter on April 9, 2019. This sixty-page graphic novel follows a burned-out Santa Claus who reluctantly embarks on his last chimney crawl only to find his world turned upside down by a zombie apocalypse. With the help of a crew of children and a single mother, Santa rediscovers his Christmas spirit while saving the world.

“Santa VS Zombies combines two of my favorite things…Santa and zombies,” explained co-creator Koji Steven Sakai. “If every day was a zombie Christmas I’d be happy.” Sakai’s love for zombies is evident in his prose fiction, including his debut novel Romeo & Juliet Vs. Zombies. Sakai is a comics veteran, and his graphic novel, 442, which follows an entirely Japanese-American regiment during World War II, was released in 2017.

“I was always the rebel as a kid, so I never pictured Santa as all cuddly, warm, and fuzzy,” said co-creator John Mayer, who has previously written novels and nonfiction. “I knew there was a guy under there who could kick some ass—I mean, he lived all those centuries—that had to take some BAD…This is my Santa!”

The Kickstarter will support printing of the graphic novel. Other stretch goals, when met, will increase the quality of the book from cover gloss finish to French fold covers and as well as hardcover editions. The Kickstarter can be supported at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/327474418/santa-vs-zombies

###

ABOUT SANTA VS ZOMBIES

Meet Santa. He’s having a mid-life crisis. He hates his job and wishes he was doing anything else other than being Santa. He’s just going through the motions and that’s why he doesn’t notice the zombie apocalypse until it’s almost two late. Saved by two kids, he at first tries to get back to the North Pole only to discover that his reindeer have been eaten. On the run and just trying to survive, Santa befriends the kids and falls in love with their recently-divorced mother. Soon Santa rediscovers his Christmas spirit and does everything he can to save Christmas for the kids—even if it means his own death.

ABOUT KOJI STEVEN SAKAI

Koji Steven Sakai is the founder of Little Nalu Pictures LLC and the CEO of CHOPSO (www.CHOPSO.com), the first Asian English streaming video service. He has written five feature films that have been produced, including the indie hit, The People I’ve Slept With. He also produced three feature films, a one-hour comedy special currently on Netflix, and Comedy InvAsian, a live and filmed series featuring the nation’s top Asian American comedians. Koji’s debut novel, Romeo & Juliet Vs. Zombies, was released in paperback in 2015 and in audiobook in 2016; his graphic novel, 442, came out in 2017. In addition, he is currently an adjunct professor in screenwriting at International Technological University in San Jose.

ABOUT JOHN MAYER

 John Mayer is a well-published author both in fiction and non-fiction with three previous novels, two screenplays and a performed stage play. With over twenty non-fiction books published. His latest, Family Fit: Find Your Balance in Life, which was published by Healthy Learning, one of the world’s foremost publishers of instructional materials for health/wellness, fitness, exercise, sports medicine, and camp professionals.

Mayer’s day job as a clinical psychologist specializing in violent behavior has him consulting to law enforcement regularly. His 10,000 Twitter followers (@DrJohnMayer) (@jemayerbooks) look to his daily tweets for advice on psychological issues. He is an associate staff psychologist for Doctor on Demand (doctorondemand.com ) as well as a provider (Telemedicine) on DoctoronDemand.

Mayer is also a writer for a cable TV series, The System, that is currently in production with the pilot episode completed.

ABOUT OUTLAND ENTERTAINMENT

Outland Entertainment was founded as a creative services company in 2008 by Jeremy Mohler. Since then, Outland has worked for a wide variety of clients across the world. Outland specializes in assembling creative teams and managing projects. Contact them via their site form or go to www.outlandentertainment.com. For more information, contact Jeremy Mohler at jeremy@outlandentertainment.com.

 

NEW COMIC, ORC GIRL & GOBBO, RELEASES FROM OUTLAND ENTERTAINMENT

NEW COMIC, ORC GIRL & GOBBO, RELEASES FROM OUTLAND ENTERTAINMENT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Gwendolyn Nix

gwen@outlandentertainment.com

NEW COMIC, ORC GIRL & GOBBO, RELEASES FROM OUTLAND ENTERTAINMENT

 New Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy Comic Releases on March 29, 2019

TOPEKA, KANSAS (March 29, 2019)—Orc Girl & Gobbo, a new comic series from Outland Entertainment releases on March 29, 2019. Created and illustrated by Chris Yarbrough, Orc Girl & Gobbo follows the story of an orc runt swordswoman and goblin pup, last of his hive, as they explore a world full of horrors and adventure. A fast-paced humorous action fantasy, this comic launches into a land where civilization sits on the brink of collapse and an unknown evil ravage the landscape, only known as “The Horror.”

Orc Girl and Gobbo came to me in a dream, two years ago,” explained Chris Yarbrough. “Since then they, and the world they inhabit, have kind of taken over my mind. Almost every night when I go to sleep, I am plotting out some element of their characters, or the larger world. Frequently, this leads to more dreams, and I jot those down in the morning. I have so many stories in my head, it’s good to finally do something with one of them,” Yarbrough continued. “I think this is my best work so far, and I hope people enjoy it.”

“Chris and I have been working together for several years now—he’s one of the most talented and creative artists I’ve had the pleasure to work with, ” said Outland Entertainment’s Creative Director Jeremy Mohler. “When he brought up the idea for Orc Girl & Gobbo, I knew that Outland had to help him get it out!”

Orc Girl & Gobbo will release on March 29, 2019 and will be available online and wherever books are sold.

###

ABOUT ORC GIRL & GOBBO

In ancient Eld Sirrah, land of thunder, civilization is on the brink of collapse. Ravaged by a century of a terrible curse, all but the mightiest of kingdoms have turned to dust. Abandoned cities and holdfasts of the old world juts like sinister teeth, ravaged by “The Horror.” It is an age of vast frontiers, an age of redrawn maps and splintered axes. It is an age of bronze, iron, and magic. It is an age of adventure!

Such an age cannot turn without heroes, and heroes are in no short supply! Here we find an orc runt swordswoman and a goblin pup, last of his hive. Together, they will ride screaming into legend, but first their tale must be told. This is the tale of Orc Girl and Gobbo.

ABOUT CHRIS YARBROUGH

Chris Yarbrough is a middling illustrator, slacker, sometime writer, force of nature, and all around actual human person.

He’s done many things you’ve never seen, some you may have (Radiation Day). He’s crowdfunded, but he’s no stranger to running from a crowd. He’s had a pencil in his hand since he was two, and done actual useful things with a pencil since he was twenty-two. He talks to crows, but they never talk back. One time, he even ate a whole spaghetti!

Chris is not a cannibal despite anything you, or anyone you know, may have heard. And, that’s final.

ABOUT OUTLAND ENTERTAINMENT

Outland Entertainment was founded as a creative services company in 2008 by Jeremy Mohler. Since then, Outland has worked for a wide variety of clients across the world. Outland specializes in assembling creative teams and managing projects. Contact them via their site form or go to www.outlandentertainment.com. For more information, contact Jeremy Mohler at jeremy@outlandentertainment.com.

 

NEW VIKINGVERSE GRAPHIC NOVEL, THE JÖTUNN WAR, LAUNCHES ON KICKSTARTER

NEW VIKINGVERSE GRAPHIC NOVEL, THE JÖTUNN WAR, LAUNCHES ON KICKSTARTER

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Gwendolyn Nix

gwen@outlandentertainment.com

NEW VIKINGVERSE GRAPHIC NOVEL, THE JÖTUNN WAR, LAUNCHES ON KICKSTARTER

The first of a four-issue graphic novel brings Norse history to life this March

TOPEKA, KANSAS (March 22, 2019)— The Jötunn War, a brand-new addition to the Vikingverse universe created by Ian Stuart Sharpe, launches on Kickstarter on March 22, 2019. The first of a four-issue graphic novel series and a follow up of Sharpe’s debut novel The All Father Paradox, The Jötunn War is an alternate universe where the Norse rule the stars with restless fleets and an iron will. When the thralls rebel, turning to the artifice of Norns to help them escape their bondage, the Natural order is thrown into chaos, causing a war that will rage across the Nine Homeworlds. Will the thrall rebellion change the Norse way of life? Or will the Empire crush them with flame and fury?

“When we first acquired The All Father Paradox, I knew the Vikingverse setting had so much potential for trans-media storytelling,” said Outland Entertainment’s Editor-in-Chief, Alana Joli Abbott. “To see the first comic coming into fruition is truly exciting—and while it stands alone, readers of the novel will get extra insight into some mysterious characters…”

“It’s been a real delight to see the stories we started telling in The All Father Paradox take on a visceral urgency in comic form,” explained Vikingverse creator Ian Stuart Sharpe. “Norse mythology is a fascinating lens through which to take a view of the world. History is full of titanic battles, from David vs. Goliath to the Axis vs. Allies, but The Jötunn War is literally as big as it gets.”

The Kickstarter will support the printing and distribution of the graphic novel’s completed first issue. Other stretch goals include upgrades of printing specs, such as a glossier cover and higher quality paper, and finally the ability to fund the printing and distribution of the second graphic novel set in the Vikingverse.

###

ABOUT VIKINGVERSE

The Vikingverse is the alternate universe that results when Odin escapes his doom at Ragnarok; a parallel timeline where Vikings rule seas and stars and the storied heroes of mankind emerge in new and brutal guises drawn from the sagas. Hang on tightly, ’cause the Free World just got thrown to the wolves and the meek shan’t inherit this Earth.

ABOUT IAN STUART SHARPE

Ian Stuart Sharpe was born in London, UK, and now lives in British Columbia, Canada. Having worked for the BBC, IMG, Atari and Electronic Arts, he is now CEO of a tech start up. As a child he discovered his love of books, sci-fi and sagas: devouring the works of Douglas Adams, J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Pratchett, and George MacDonald Fraser alongside Snorri Sturluson and Sigvat the Skald. He once won a prize at school for Outstanding Progress and chose a dictionary as his reward, secretly wishing it had been an Old Norse phrasebook. The All Father Paradox is his first novel.

ABOUT OUTLAND ENTERTAINMENT

Outland Entertainment was founded as a creative services company in 2008 by Jeremy Mohler. Since then, Outland has worked for a wide variety of clients across the world. Outland specializes in assembling creative teams and managing projects. Contact them via their site form or go to www.outlandentertainment.com. For more information, contact Jeremy Mohler at jeremy@outlandentertainment.com.

Reclaiming Norse Mythology from the Nazis by Ian Stuart Sharpe

Reclaiming Norse Mythology from the Nazis by Ian Stuart Sharpe

It is one of the most iconic scenes in modern cinematic history:  Indiana Jones is in a desperate race against the Nazis, a lone hero battling against the entire German war machine to prevent an ancient artefact of immense power from falling into the wrong hands.

Of course, as is often the case, the truth is stranger than fiction. Nazi Germany really was obsessed with uncovering ancient texts and lost knowledge, and had a special division devoted to the pursuit of artefacts: the Ahnenerbe. This shadowy organization began as a prehistoric research institute, devoted to exploring German ancestral heritage. From inception, the group’s founders were obsessed with the legend Atlantis and the mystical powers of “Blood and Soil.” Himmler soon incorporated the group into the feared SS, but they remained an ideological factory, a thinktank, with fifty different branches and more than one hundred research projects in the field—archaeological expeditions and excavations seeking proof or propaganda that could advance the worldview that Germans were the master race.

Norse mythology spoke to the men of this new, resurgent Germany. The sagas recalled an age of unity, a timeless purity that existed in Northern Europe. The popular imagery of Vikings as a fierce warrior culture, willing to defend their lands in the name of Valhalla, resonated with the SS: the double sig-runes they used as their insignia represented victory. The Ahnenerbe craved links to the bold, brave North.

One such link was the venerable Snartemo sword, found on a farm in 1933 by two farmers, buried in a hidden tomb dating back to the early 6th century. Inside the tomb were rare fabrics, bear claws, and a magnificent sword. A sword with a gold-plated hilt, entwined with ornate geometric patterns.

And swastikas.

In Hitler’s own words, this ancient symbol “signified the mission allotted to us—the struggle for the victory of Aryan mankind.” Germans had become obsessed with swastikas the moment Heinrich Schliemann discovered the hooked cross on the site of ancient Troy in the 1870s. They linked it to similar shapes found on German artefacts and concluded that it was a “significant religious symbol of our remote ancestors”—the remote ancestors that gave legitimacy to Himmler’s outlandish claims, pseudo-science, and fake history. The swastika was like the Nazi North Star.

In 1936 an International Congress was held in Oslo, with a special exhibition of the Snartemo sword discovery as the main attraction. The Ahnenerbe were, unsurprisingly there in force, following their guiding star towards glory. So much so that some Norwegian archaeologists foresaw a problem, and, with great pragmatism, hid the Snartemo sword and its swastika hilt in a vault of a remote bank. Only a few academics knew of the plan, and these Norwegian Indiana Joneses kept their secret well. The invading German forces were never able to find the original and made do with a replica, recreated from drawings.

Historical revisionism

Not so long ago, the swastika meant something very different. In the years following the sensational discovery of Troy, the symbol popped up everywhere, in vogue as a good luck charm: in Rudyard Kipling’s signature, on Coca-Cola pendants, Carlsberg beer bottles, American army shoulder patches, and even Boy Scout merit badges. Charles Lindbergh had one emblazoned on the nose cone of the Spirit of St. Louis in 1927.

The swastika genuinely does have a long history, used as sacred symbol in pre-Christian religions by Hindus, Shintoists, Odinists, and Druids. The sign usually represented the sun, and the original Norse name for it was the fylfot. Vikings used it as a decoration on a bucket found on the Oseberg ship dating to 800 AD. A version of a swastika, the sun cross, adorns the top of the Gosforth cross which is central to the novel, The All Father Paradox. The antagonist of the novel knows the power of symbols only too well: ““This leathery old binding, these spindly tattoos, they tell a saga. These marks are the birthright of my people; they bind me to the dead.”

Today, continuing Nazi connotations mean that swastikas are beyond redemption in the West. But in many senses, the same ideological war once waged by the Ahnenerbe continues on other fronts. Norse symbols, once coveted by the Nazis for their raw power and ancient heritage, are now contested by rival groups of pagans, Neo-Nazis, and advertisers seeking to exploit them for their own benefit. Vikings themselves have become a symbol, representing at best adventure, risk, individual spirit, and daring and at worst, xenophobia, purification of ethnicity, and male violence. There is a berserker rage felt keenly by those white males who feel under siege by immigrants and #MeToo, an anger that some modern politicians have encouraged (and it is a sentiment that the antagonist in the novel is happy to exploit too).

But this imagery is largely mediated through popular culture rather than from the original folklore of North Germanic pre-Christian Europe. Simply put, the way we perceive Vikings today has little to do with the reality of the Viking Age and everything to do with the way we want to see ourselves. It is the greatest of ironies that Vikings, once demonised as the scourge of Europe, are now a talisman for those who are mortally afraid.

Perhaps it is time to stop hiding in the illusions of the past and start building a future built on practical reality. If the story of the Snartemo sword teaches us anything, it is that when people try to use their heritage and symbols as weapons, the true sons of Vikings will just sensibly and quietly spirit them away.

The modern Ahnenerbe

In the dying days of summer 2018, posting and commenting as @vikingverse, I came across an Instagram post. Using the tag #VikingFacts and the slogan “Facts. Not Revisionism”, the account was proclaiming that:

  • “The Aesir are your ancestors and not gods”
  • The reference to gods is an “Abrahamised mistranslation.”

It seemed the Ahnenerbe were still peddling their own warped reality. Imagine: Thor, Odin, Loki and Heimdall—all part of the family. The DNA testing kit business would go into meltdown.

I wondered, did the poster really believe his post? On what grounds?

There is a long tradition of linking myth with real historical events or personages. It’s called Euhemerism, and it supposes that historical accounts become myths as they are exaggerated in the retelling, accumulating elaborations and alterations over the centuries.

It’s a great propaganda tool in any argument. The early Christians, hostile to paganism, embraced euhemerism in attempt to undermine the validity of pagan gods. Cohortatio ad gentes, they would cry—”Those to whom you bow were once men like yourselves”.

Several centuries later, presumably to curry favour with King Hákon Hákonarson, Snorri Sturluson euhemerised Thor as a prince of Troy in the prologue to his Prose Edda, thereby linking his King to the very cradle of civilization and the Norse gods in one deft sentence. In all likelihood, this one book helped Himmler “join the dots” to his hoped-for past glory and predecessors.

I pointed out some of this background to the poster, mentioning that Æsir is the plural of áss, which is attested in other Germanic languages, like the Old English ōs, and for good measure, adding that the word had been traced back through its Indo-European roots to Sanskrit. It quite definitely meant God, I posted, and the Christians hadn’t meddled with etymology.

There was a momentary flurry of abuse, and then I was banned, my comments deleted. The rest of the account drips with misogynism and machismo—I should have looked more closely. After some research, I found out that the owner of the account is a Frenchman. Suffice to say he doesn’t speak Old Norse, or have a military background, or any of the other things he claims.

I like to think there is a different between writing fantasy and living it, but clearly for some people, the line is somewhat blurred.

***

IAN STUART SHARPE

Ian Sharpe was born in London, UK, and now lives in British Columbia, Canada. Having worked for the BBC, IMG, Atari and Electronic Arts, he is now CEO of a tech start up. As a child he discovered his love of books, sci-fi and sagas: devouring the works of Douglas Adams, J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Pratchett and George MacDonald Fraser alongside Snorri Sturluson and Sigvat the Skald. He once won a prize at school for Outstanding Progress and chose a dictionary as his reward, secretly wishing it had been an Old Norse phrasebook. The All Father Paradox is his first novel.

Interview with Ian Stuart Sharpe, Author of The All Father Paradox!

Interview with Ian Stuart Sharpe, Author of The All Father Paradox!

Q: What made you write The All Father Paradox?

Ian Stuart Sharpe: I think it was preordained.

Not in a crazy way, you understand. You just learn to spot the signs, to realize that something is off-kilter. For example, in the year 793AD, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, there were plenty of foreboding omens. “Excessive whirlwinds”, lightning. Fiery dragons were seen flying in the sky. As if that wasn’t bad enough “great famine followed.”

And then, at the beginning of another long, drizzle-bound British summer what should show up but a “ravaging of wretched heathen men” who promptly destroyed God’s church at Lindisfarne and kickstarted the whole Viking Age. Some might argue that if the monks at Lindisfarne had been a little better at reading the tea leaves, we might not be here, discussing this book.

“Never before has such terror appeared in Britain…The heathens poured outthe blood of saints around the altar, and trampled on the bodies of saints in the temple of God, like dung in the streets.”

It must have seemed like the end of the world.

In my case, it was June 2016AD. My eSports company had just been ground into the dust by a doomstack of unfortunate events. Trump was already the presumptive nominee for the Republican party and then, to add to the sheer caprice of the moment, the UK voted for Brexit. I felt something like a monk at Lindisfarne, wondering which way the wind was blowing, and whether Norsemen might arrive on the tide. And that’s not a political comment, more a reflection of all the churn and change.

The world suddenly was full of “Holy F*ck!” moments. My reaction to it all was to become a new Anglo-Saxon Chronicler, to hold up a cracked mirror to the end of the world as we knew it.

Q: Why should others read the book?

ISS: There is an early episode of the British TV series Doctor Who, in black and white from 1965. I remember it from reruns: a rogue Time Lord plans lure the Harald Hardrada’s Vikings to the coast and destroy their fleet with an atomic cannon. This Time Meddler insists his plan will stabilise England and benefit Western civilisation.

It’s a nice idea. The thought that you could make the world a better place. The notion that you could reclaim what was was rightfully yours. Change the past – kill Hitler before he rose to power and save a generation from slaughter. Save the world, resurrect the girl – it worked for Superman.

What if? It’s a question we should all ask. We should all walk a mile in another man’s shoes, open ourselves to a little alternative perspective. Or else the world is just little bits of history repeating.

Q: What makes this story unique?

ISS: Who doesn’t like a nice Norse saga, full of Vikings raping and pillaging?!

Well, that’s not this book. Not all of it anyway. The fact is that the Scandinavian civilization had a rich and vibrant culture – unique art forms, a deep oral tradition, a sprawling trade network, a yearning for adventure and prestige. This is a book full of characters drawn from the pages of history, but it is really a story of a civilization.

On numerous occasions, the Norse came within a hair’s breadth of seizing the great cities of the age: London, Paris, Hamburg – and the greatest prize of all, Constantinople, the City of the World’s Desire. Imagine if the Trickster God had been with them, rather than against them. The What If in question isn’t far-fetched.

Those “wretched heathen men” could have ruled Europe, and likely the world.

Moreover, most Viking books dwell on the past, but I wanted to examine a Norse present. I wanted to transplant a warrior culture, built on slavery, but with a democratic bent and one where women were often heralded rather than hidden. And I wanted to examine how their myths and icons might grow without the influence of Christianity, the world of seidr and spirits, and see how it stretched over the centuries.

Q: How does it compare to other books like it in the genre?

ISS: There aren’t that many perspectives on Norse culture and civilisation that really highlight their true legacy. I recently took my family on a tour on Denmark, visiting hill forts, museums and re-enactments. I was amazed at how little they knew about these people. Viking were the bad guys. (Just ask Doctor Who). They wore horned helmets. They were raiders and barbarians. Even the best “Viking literature” doesn’t do more than reinforce old tropes.

That’s because history is written by the victors, and the Vikings, for all their legendary heroics, well, they lost.

But the Vikings are still with us, if you know where to look. The Old Norse rót is still apparent among the tangle of Anglo-Saxon, French and Latin. The language of the Vikings may have become subdued over the centuries but make no mistaka about it – from byrðr (birth) until we deyja (die) – the raw energy of the Norse shapes many of our words. Just look at a Viking the rangr way, and he might þrysta (thrust) a knifr into your skulle.
For the more literary, even the word Kindle comes from the Norse kynda – to light a fire. And that’s an important part of the book. Just as Tolkien had his Elvish (and he borrowed much of his lore from Old Norse stories), the All Father Paradox is peppered with Old Norse. It might look strange. It might make you pause and think.

And that’s exactly why it is there.

So put the book on your Kindle, and set fire to what you think you know. It beats the other ways into Valhalla.
Pre-order now so you don’t miss a moment!

THE ALL FATHER PARADOX Releases in October!

THE ALL FATHER PARADOX Releases in October!

THE ALL FATHER PARADOX by Ian Stuart Sharpe
Coming in October!

What if an ancient god escaped his fate…and history was thrown to the wolves?

Churchwarden Michaels thought it was just a run-of-the-mill crazy old man who stood in the graveyard, hellbent on studying the thousand-year-old Viking memorial there. But when things start changing and outright disappearing, Michaels realizes there is more to this old man than meets the eye. Now, Michaels finds himself swept up in an ancient god’s quest to escape his destiny by reworking reality, putting history—and to Michaels’s dismay, Christianity itself—to the Viking sword. In this new Vikingverse, storied heroes of mankind emerge in new and brutal guises drawn from the sagas:

A young Norse prince plots to shatter empires and claim the heavens…

A scholar exiled to the frontier braves the dangers of the New World, only to find those “new worlds” are greater than he imagined…

A captured Jötunn plants the dreams of freedom during a worlds-spanning war

A bold empress discovers there is a price for immortality, one her ancestors have come to collect…

With the timelines stretched to breaking point, it’s up to Churchwarden Michaels to save reality as we know it…

Find out more here!

About Ian Stuart Sharpe

Ian Sharpe was born in London, UK, and now lives in British Columbia, Canada. Having worked for the BBC, IMG, Atari and Electronic Arts, he is now CEO of a tech start up. As a child he discovered his love of books, sci-fi and sagas: devouring the works of Douglas Adams, J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Pratchett and George MacDonald Fraser alongside Snorri Sturluson and Sigvat the Skald. He once won a prize at school for Outstanding Progress and chose a dictionary as his reward, secretly wishing it had been an Old Norse phrasebook. The All Father Paradox is his first novel.

HATH NO FURY Has Hit the Shelves and E-Readers!

HATH NO FURY Has Hit the Shelves and E-Readers!

Mother. Warrior. Caregiver. Wife. Lover. Survivor. Trickster. Heroine. Leader.

 

This anthology features 21 stories and six essays about women who defy genre stereotypes. Here, it’s not the hero who acts while the heroine waits to be rescued; Hath No Fury’s women are champions, not damsels in distress. Whether they are strong, bold warriors, the silent but powerful type, or the timid who muster their courage to face down terrible evil, the women of Hath No Fury will make indelible marks upon readers and leave them breathless for more. This anthology is now available wherever books are sold for both paperback and ebook!

Edited by Melanie R. Meadors, Hath No Fury includes the following:

FOREWORD – Robin Hobb
INTRODUCTION – Margaret Weis
RIDING EVER SOUTHWARD, IN THE COMPANY OF BEES – Seanan McGuire
SHE TORE – Nisi Shawl
THE SCION – S.R. Cambridge
HARRIET TUBMAN – Melanie R. Meadors
CASTING ON – Philippa Ballantine
FOR THE LOVE OF ETTA CANDY: ON THE IMPORTANCE OF THE FEMALE FRIEND – Shanna Germain
SOME ENCHANTED EVENING – Anton Strout
BURNING – Elaine Cunningham
IT AIN’T BAD TO GET MAD: THE ANGRY
HEROINES OF SF/F – Sarah Kuhn
A DANCE WITH DEATH – Marc Turner
ADA LOVELACE – Melanie R. Meadors
PAX EGYPTICA – Dana Cameron
A WASTELAND OF MY GOD’S OWN MAKING – Bradley P. Beaulieu
ECHOES OF STONE – Elizabeth Vaughan
ANGER IS A FRiEND TO LOVE – Diana M. Pho
THE MARK OF A MOUNTAIN POPPY — Erin M. Evans
SNAKESKIN: A MUTANT FILES STORY – William C. Dietz
A SEED PLANTED – Carina Bissett
THE BOOK OF ROWE – Carol Berg
CHING SHIH – Melanie R. Meadors
SHE KEEPS CRAWLING BACK – Delilah S. Dawson
A HERO OF GRÜNJORD – Lucy A. Snyder
THE UNLIKELY TURNCOAT: A GENRENAUTS SHORT STORY – Michael R. Underwood
CRAFT – Lian Hearn
RECONCILING MEMORY – Gail Z. Martin
THIS iS NOT ANOTHER “WHY REPRESENTATION IS IMPORTANT” ESSAY – Monica Valentinelli
TRENCH WITCH – M.L. Brennan
LAST OF THE RED RIDERS – Django Wexler
CHRISTINE JORGENSEN – Melanie R. Meadors
RISE OF THE BONECRUSHERS – Eloise J. Knapp

Announcement: VIKINGVERSE COVER ILLUSTRATION RELEASED!

Announcement: VIKINGVERSE COVER ILLUSTRATION RELEASED!

ANNOUNCEMENT

Official summary of ALL FATHER PARADOX along with color cover illustration!

What if an ancient god escaped his fate…and history was thrown to the wolves?

Churchwarden Michaels thought it was just a run-of-the-mill crazy old man who stood in the graveyard, hellbent on studying the thousand-year-old Viking memorial there. But when things start changing and outright disappearing, Michaels realizes there is more to this old man than meets the eye. Now, Michaels finds himself swept up in an ancient god’s quest to escape his destiny by reworking reality, putting history—and to Michaels’s dismay, Christianity itself—to the Viking sword. In this new Vikingverse, storied heroes of mankind emerge in new and brutal guises drawn from the sagas:

A young Norse prince plots to shatter empires and claim the heavens…

A scholar exiled to the frontier braves the dangers of the New World to find those new worlds are greater than he imagined…

A bold empress discovers there is a price for immortality, one her ancestors have come to collect…

A captured Jötunn plants the dreams of freedom during a multi-world war…

With the timelines stretched to breaking point, it’s up to Churchwarden Michaels to save reality as we know it…