Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Path to Odin's Lake - ebook offer

I am happy to report that my new book The Path to Odin's Lake is now available on Amazon as an ebook for Kindles, as well as in paperback format. For both of them I have created a second edition, having ironed out the remaining bugs in the formatting and text - so this is the version I am most proud of. Furthermore, my book will be featured in the Dark Mountain Project this summer, and several other publications have expressed an interest in reviewing it.

So, to celebrate this I'm dropping the price of the ebook until the end of May. For only $4.99 or  £3.99 you can get instant access and be reading it in moments.

Download a Kindle version from here

Download a Kindle version from here

Download Kindle and other popular ebook formats here from Smashwords

(Author's note: if you would like to help me out and it doesn't cause you any extra pain, the royalties I get from Smashwords are x4 what Amazon gives)

It has taken me nine months to write The Path to Odin's Lake and, as such, I have found the hardest thing to write being a description of what to expect from the book. Usually I describe it as a 'Peak oil, spiritual travelogue' in the same vein as, say, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance or The Rings of Saturn. Luckily for me some early readers have left reviews and five-star recommendations on Amazon, and I think the first one below sums up best for me how I would put it:

 Great book, strongly recommended 
By Mark Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved this book. There seem to be three stories woven into one: Heppenstall’s account of a late-summer backpacking trip through Scandanavia; his immersion back into nature and the surprises and synchronicities that arose along the way; and a wider meditation on the great challenges of our age and how we can respond to them as individuals. The main challenges the author sees are climate change, the increasing stresses and strains in the global economy, our addiction to gadgets and consumerism and our unrealistic expectations for never-ending economic growth on a finite planet. Serious stuff, and for those with ears to hear the book will grab the attention.

But instead of another doomer diatribe, or bunch of earnest policy proposals and to-do lists, the author gently points us back to a simple truth: we don’t really need to save the earth, since the earth will save itself (although it will take a bit of time for nature to clear up some of our messes). What we need to do is save ourselves from the consequences of our, often unconscious, behavior on this planet. And the best paths along which we can stumble towards some sort of salvation are those that take us back into a much closer relationship with nature.

For those who are aware of these great challenges, the book offers inspiration, humor and encouragement. For those who are new to them, the book offers an accessible and uplifting introduction to some heavy topics. Heppenstall also shares some of his own experiences as one who has clearly been walking this walk in his own life. And underneath it all is great travelogue.

Here's another one:

 Jason Heppenstall goes camping in the rain and contemplates the rebirth of his soul 
By nativewater Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The narrative portion of this book might be subtitled Jason Heppenstall goes camping in the rain. But the account of his camping trip is not all you get. The author took along two books of philosophy in his backpack, Marcus Aurelius's Meditation and Bill Plotkin's Soulcraft and quotes them widely throughout the book to give a philosophic foundation to his camping trip. Camping is not merely camping, but also a way to recover your soul which has been shriveled by too much civilization. The third part of the book consists of musings by the author on the fate of industrial civilization which he believes to be entering into decline and what our response to this decline should be. For people who have not read blogs of writers like Jim Kunstler, Dmitry Orlov, and John Michael Greer, this might be as good an introduction to the notion that our civilization is in decline as any. Though not the main focus of the book, the question of how to live in the face of industrial civilization's decline is central to the author's thesis that what needs fixing is not the earth but our own souls to allow the natural world to heal. I think I got that right.
Being familiar with the author's blog on matters related to industrial civilization's decline, the philosophical parts of the book were not as interesting to me as his account of his solo camping trip to National Park in Sweden which had Odin's lake at its center. Having done a considerable amount of solo camping in North America, some of it in the rain, I was of course curious how the author fared at the same sort of adventure in Sweden. The author's campsite offered a communal kitchen, coffee, showers and a sauna, probably necessities in a place with much rain. How very sensible of the Swedes. I imagine that if you didn't offer some shelter in a place that gets a lot of rain you wouldn't have a whole lot of people using the campgrounds. Tents after all do tend to leak if rained on long enough and it doesn't take more than a day of that to send you packing.
So buy the book. If you never heard of global warming before or peak oil or the concept that all civilizations have an ascending and a descending phase and that we might be in the descending phase of our own civilization and that that might not be such a bad thing, given that industrial civilization inadvertently seemed to be ruining the planet we live on in order to make our extravagant lifestyle possible while at the same time killing our souls this book might be an eye opener. If you already heard of all this stuff, and reading the author's version might sound like preaching to the choir, then perhaps you can just shout out Amen and stuff ten dollars into the donation box. Or maybe you might just want to find out what camping in Sweden is like.

And another:

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

This book is enjoyable. For me, the several layers present will make it worth reading more than once and the early signs are that it will become something of a way marker.


So, if you want to find out what it was they found so enjoyable and noteworthy then take up my offer and download your copy. If you don't like ebooks (and many don't!) then you can order a paperback version by clicking on the icon in the top right side of this screen.

Thank you for reading - here ends this commercial message ;-)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Vote for the POP

Lloyds of London after its refit following a POP victory

I normally avoid talking about politics, but seeing as there is an election here in two days and everyone else is talking about nothing else, well ...

All indications are that there won't be an overall winner after voting takes place on May 7th. The Conservatives seem to have managed to convince voters that the jerry-rigged GDP figures are real and that an economic recovery is underway (it is, if you're in the top echelons) and are hammering home the message that Labour would ruin everything if they got into power. The Labour Party are being forced to dance to the same tune, having sold themselves out under Blair and Brown, and are a sad caricature what they once stood for i.e. a fair deal for the working classes.

In the middle we have the probable king-makers the Liberal Democrats - who are also a sad parody of what they once stood for - making all three main parties more or less the same in their untrammelled pursuit of economic growth, jobs, opportunities yadda yadda yadda.

Then we have the other potential king-makers the Scottish National Party, who are not just popular in Scotland but also south of the border. Now that the penny has dropped that they were suckered by Westminster during the recent referendum to quit the UK, most Scots have dropped the Labour party quicker than a flaming caber.

Next up is UKIP - the United Kingdom Independence Party - lead by the charismatic rogue Nigel Farage - the mere mention of whose name can have most liberals frothing at the mouth and screaming 'fascist'. UKIP seem to be getting a lot of support from the disenfranchised who have been manipulated by the right wing media into thinking that waves of immigrants are bleeding the country dry. UKIPpers tend to be ruddy faced, beer-loving folks who 'aren't afraid to speak the truth'.

And finally, traditionally in last place (if mentioned at all), is the Green Party. In a blind survey of policies people picked the Green's policies as being best. If the election was decided purely on policy then the Green's would win it. Alas, we have an unfair system, which means they will only get a seat or two in parliament, even if they do get up to 10% of the vote. I've always voted Green - I even have an election poster up in my window (along with lots of other Green posters in the centre of Penzance where I live) - as all the other parties have psychopathic policies, in my humble opinion. For some reason I was picked to attend a lunch with the leader Natalie Bennett, a couple of months back. I can report that she is entirely unlike most other politicians, and actually seems to have her head screwed on.

Still, the Greens are probably only enjoying their modest current success because they have become by default the only left wing party there is. They have many good policies, but it's somewhat dismaying to see them pledge to build half a million new houses in a country that's already way over-built. Last week, I noticed, Natalie Bennett put a link on social media to an article pointing out that up to a fifth of all species on Earth faces imminent extinction. She immediately faced angry and hostile comments from Green supporters telling her to 'get a grip' and 'talk about real issues such as jobs'. So it goes, a paler shade of green.

At least they are the only party that has mentioned environmental issues in this election.

Incidentally, the local Liberal Democrat MP rang my doorbell last week and harangued me for displaying said Green Party poster. "They're all hypocrites who take skiing holidays in Canada," was what he said. He went on to portray himself as a true guardian of all that is green and good. "Why," I asked him "did he vote in favour of fracking in the House of Commons?" He was a bit stumped by this but hastily explained that fracking is "kind of like geothermal" which somehow makes it 'green'.

So, the bottom line is that there probably won't be an overall winner as such. Coalition horse trading will probably go on for a while. The bottom bottom line is that we are entering into a period of political paralysis symptomatic of the peaking of energy supplies and the ongoing deflation of the (real) economy. Cheap oil gave everyone a few decades to be happy. Elaborate political structures could be created and everyone seemed to get their share of the cake. Sure, there was a bit of moaning about this or that government or party, but generally everyone got to chow down on the benefits of a techno consumer economy awash in credit and fiat money.

But that model is now broken. Anyone with any wealth in this country now knows that the only way they can hold onto it is by throwing those less well off under the bus. That's why, when I drive around some of the nearby villages here, all the tacky and ugly houses have Conservative placards stuck in the lawns next to their fake Chinese lions. These people see a massive and bloated welfare state (in Cornwall, the second poorest region in western Europe, four out of five families are on benefits) that needs to be cut back down to size. They see the cash-sucking National Health System as a threat that needs to be neutralised and they want the 'scroungers' to be taught a lesson and forced to work.

On the other team, Labour supporters want a continuation of welfare provision - even if, confusingly, their party also seems intent on austerity policies and clamping down on immigration.

So, we have gridlock. We'll be the new Greece before too long. Won't that be fun? To that end I've decided to form my own political party - the Peak Oil Party (tongue firmly in cheek).

The POP's slogan will be:

'Vote for us for a slightly less worse future than the others will give you'.

Its main policies include:

- All remaining North Sea oil reserves will be dedicated to building a national renewable energy sector
- Car journeys to be rationed to one day a week per driver
- All chemical pesticides and herbicides to be phased out over a ten year period
- All immigration controls will be lifted - people will be free to come or leave as they please (many will choose to leave)
- All able-bodied unemployed people to be recruited to a Land Army or face starvation
- All people working in the finance industry to be recruited to the Land Army. The City of London to be converted into a large-scale vertical agriculture experimentation zone
- All workers will be given two minutes to describe their job to selected panels of six-year-olds. If, after that, a majority on the panel do not understand the function of your job it will be liquidated and you will be placed in the Land Army. Bribery with sweets/toys will be punishable by permanent job allocation of Gong Farmer
- Defence budget to be cut by 90%, including a phase out of nuclear weapons
- All gold bullion held by the Bank of England to be sold to China or swapped for solar panels and bicycles
- The Royal Family and all their possessions to be sold to America or exchanged for cattle feed and LNG
- All corporate farms, grouse shooting moors, golf courses and stately homes to be nationalised with 50% given over to intensive organic agriculture and 50% allowed to revert back to wilderness
- All airports to be shut down after the last corporate jet has fled the country
- Everyone who successfully completes three years in the Land Army having amassed a variety of agricultural skills to be freely given an acre of arable land, a bicycle, a cow and a sum of money with which to build a dwelling of their own design
- After a stabilisation period of ten years all forms of national politics to be liquidated. Great Britain to be renamed The Britlands and broken up into small autonomous bio-regions not worth invading

Who knows, if I can raise a deposit in the next two days POP might be in with a chance. On the other hand ...