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There are seismic temblor authorities who contend it all began with the tsunami that resulted from the sub-sea earthquake in the Taiwan Trench that inundated Japan and took Tokyo out of the international financial community permanently.
Whatever sequence of major upheavals proceeded from that disaster--referred to by survivors, to this day, as The Divine Hiccup--within four months the interlocking temblors had latticed the Earth's crust, finally building up a pressure directly under the Tropic of Cancer at 23 degrees 30' N 38 degrees 7' 15' E--about one hundred kilometers due south of the port city of Yanbu' in Saudi Arabia at the bottom of the Red Sea, Al-Bahr al-Ahmar.
When the mantle exploded, the fissure slithered north-northeast beneath the mountains of the Harrat al-'Uwayrid where some unknown impediment forced the massive energy toward the surface, shattering the mountains, severing a gigantic chunk of the Madyan, leaping the Straits of Tiran and Jubal, taking out the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, and racing across the Arabian Desert.
When the juggernaut reached the 27th Parallel approaching the 32nd Meridian, it just said t'hell with it, and blew out nine hundred kilometers of Egypt, reducing everything between Cairo and the Aswan Dam to a fine powdered ash that made for spectacular sunsets for decades to come.
And there, in the caldera that had been the Valley of the Kings, all supposition surrounding the myths of Atlantis came to an end as the lost continent thrust up its highest mountain. For thrice thirty thousand years The Spire ofthe Sun had lain hidden beneath the desert. A mountaintop sheathed in solid gold; at its apex, hewn from the basalt, the House of the Heavens; a temple whose underground levels fell dizzyingly for a mile inside the mountain; prayerhouse to deities so arcane and ancient that not even the sigh of their names had come to us through antiquity.
When the archaeological teams from Thule and Brasilia and Sydney landed their huge choppers in the sea-washed plazas of the House of the Heavens, and the scientists entered the three great triangular portals that swung open at the touch of a finger on center-pivots, they roamed far and deep, and they came, at last, to the central nidus of the Atlanteans. And it was there, on a golden tabulary, they found--perfectly preserved as if waiting for the light of the stars to fall upon its inscribed pages of thinnest beaten silver--the lost manuscript of The Harlan Ellison Hornbook.
You're not going for it?
Well, okay, so it isn't eons, it's only twenty years--give or take a cardiac arrest or two--since this book was put under contract. But it seems like eons, to hear Jack Chalker and Otto Penzler tell it. And tell of it they have, in Jack's case for two decades, which could, I suppose, be considered reason enough for kvetching; but in Otto's case it's only been about three years, even though I promised to deliver the manuscript in thirty days.
So, okay, I admit it. I'm running a little late this century. But I've been sick.
Posted December 9, 2009
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