Sunday, September 22, 2019

Eric Brighteyes: Granddaddy of Sword and Sorcery

Monroe St. Press' latest paperback release, Eric Brighteyes by H. Rider Haggard, is among Haggard's less famous but still influential adventure stories.  

While Haggard is best known for his stories set in contemporary or ancient Africa (King Solomon's Mines, Allan Quatermain, She), Eric Brighteyes, published in 1890, was set in medieval Iceland and written in a style resembling that of the Viking/Norse sagas. 

The first modern English translations of the original sagas had appeared in print in the 1860s. Icelandic scholar Eirikur Magnusson of Cambridge University taught the Old Norse language to William Morris and collaborated with him on translating several classic sagas, including The Story of Grettir the Strong (1869) and Volsungasaga (1870).  Magnusson and Morris also worked on a six-volume collection of translated sagas published between 1891 and 1905. 

Haggard traveled to Iceland in 1888 and wrote Eric Brighteyes shortly after his return. He also composed an in-depth introduction outlining the history and purpose of the sagas, and how they blended history and fiction: 

From generation to generation skalds (storytellers) wandered through the winter snows, much as Homer may have wandered in his day across the Grecian vales and mountains, to find a welcome at every stead, because of the old-time story they had to tell. Here, night after night, they would sit in the ingle and while away the weariness of the dayless dark with histories of the times when men carried their lives in their hands.... To alter the tale was one of the greatest of crimes: the skald must repeat it as it came to him; but by degrees undoubtedly the sagas did suffer alteration. The facts remained the same indeed, but around them gathered a mist of miraculous occurrences and legends.

He dedicated the book to Empress Frederick of Germany (Victoria Adelaide Mary Louisa), eldest daughter of Queen Victoria and widow of Emperor (Kaiser) Frederick III. Frederick had just been diagnosed with throat cancer when his father, Wilhelm I, died in March 1888, and he was ill for most of his 99-day reign. The Empress had told Haggard that her husband "found pleasure in the reading of my stories". Knowing that his writings had brought "an hour's forgetfulness of sorrow and pain" to the dying Emperor was, Haggard wrote, a knowledge "far dearer than any praise". 

Those who read and were influenced by Eric Brighteyes included J.R.R. Tolkien, who cited it as an inspiration for The Lord of the Rings, and Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan the Barbarian. It contains numerous plot and character elements that became common in 20th- and 21st-century sword and sorcery, including inter-family and inter-tribal warfare and supernatural influences wielded by a priest, sorceress or similar figure.  It even includes a "red wedding" similar to that portrayed in George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series, which formed the basis for the TV series Game of Thrones

The Monroe St. Press edition of Eric Brighteyes also includes numerous vintage illustrations drawn by Lancelot Speed. 

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Announcing Team Monroe St.

Join Team Monroe St. in our quest to hasten the day when diseases such as Huntington's, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and numerous cancers are cured. With your contribution to our efforts, our loved ones could live longer and healthier lives.  

All it requires is the unused power of your computer, smartphone or other internet connected device. 

Folding@Home (FAH) is a distributed computing project that harnesses the available resources of personal computers owned by volunteers all over the world to tackle one of the greatest challenges in modern medicine and biology.

What is "Folding" and Why Is It So Important?

"Folding" is the process by which organic proteins — the substances that make up our bodies' cells and vital organs — are formed into molecular chains that make them functional. Understanding how these proteins take shape, and modeling the myriad shapes these proteins can take, could shed light on how diseases such as cancer develop and how they could be cured or prevented. 

However, analyzing the billions of possible folding combinations is a task beyond the capability of any single computer to handle in a reasonable amount of time. In 2000, Stanford University researcher Vijay Pande, PhD, launched a distributed computer network to handle the complex mathematical calculations required for protein folding research. Thus, Folding@Home was born. 

Solving Problems Faster

Current FAH director Greg Bowman, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics at Washington University in St. Louis, says the project enables otherwise insurmountable research tasks to be completed far more efficiently.

"To model just one millisecond of folding, even for an average-size protein, on a top of the line MacBook Pro would take something like 500 years," Bowman said in an interview. "But with Folding@Home, we can split these problems into many independent chunks. We can send them to 1,000 people at the same time. Running those calculations in parallel, we can take problems that would have taken 500 years and instead solve them in six months." 

Putting Your Computer To Work

FAH currently has more than 110,000 volunteers using their home/personal computers and other devices to perform these intense calculations. Its goal is to recruit 1 million folders. 

Participants can choose the types of research they would like to contribute to — from cancer or Alzheimer's to antibiotic resistance. Many have signed up in honor of someone who is living with or has succumbed to one of the diseases being researched. Participants can also form or join teams whose statistics are tracked as a whole. 

FAH links your home computer or mobile device to software that works with Windows, Mac, Linux or Android operating systems. The calculations use only the portion of your computer's power that is available at any given time — more when your device is idle, less when it is being used. 

You can continue to use your device for other tasks while the folding calculations are performed in the background. Your device can perform the calculations at night or while you are away at work or school, all the while helping medical and biological researchers come closer to their goals. You can also devote to this effort a spare or slightly outdated device that you are not currently using regularly. 

Think of it as YOUR chance to play a part, however small, in solving one of the greatest scientific challenges of our time... comparable to putting humans on the Moon or Mars! 

Get Started!

For more information on FAH, or to sign up, visit 

If you would like to join Team Monroe St., our team number is 235367. You can also submit further questions or suggestions to our contact link above or to our Facebook page.