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Forward To The Past
First Voyage Of The Time Beings Trilogy
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ISBN-10: 1-77115-370-9
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy/SF
eBook Length: 115 Pages
Published: June 2017

From inside the flap

Are we staring down the barrel of the apocalypse?

With unstable leaders with odd haircuts who have their fingers on the nuclear buttons, ISIS terrorists who lust for the end of the world and environmental catastrophe looming, who could possibly save us from the apocalypse? The answer is Hanumān the flying monkey warrior and company, that’s who…

In his new novel, Time Beings I: Forward to the Past, Andrew J. West sets up a scenario where mythic characters from Hindu mythology try to turn the wheel of time away from the imminent apocalypse.

Hanumān the monkey general and Vibhīṣana the seer travel through time saving (or not!) the likes of Christopher Columbus and Ernest Shackleton (the Antarctic explorer) to keep humanity alive.

Andrew J. West is originally from Australia and one of the most fascinating incidents in this journey concerns a little-known incident in which Australian Aboriginals fought a pitched battle in open plain warfare against the invading British redcoats during the 1820s.

“I wanted to shed a light into the past in a unique way which would allow young people and adults alike to learn and enjoy history,” said the author. “I’ve been teaching and writing in Thailand for over a decade now so I wanted to take characters from their mythology and mix them into the history of other countries.”

Forward to the Past is the first of a trilogy of adventures in which Hanumān and friends fight off the forces of apocalyptic destruction… Stay tuned for Time Beings II: The Wrath of Kali and Time Beings III: Edge of Yesterday.

Andrew J. West is also well-known in the Thai art scene, particularly for his many art reviews for Bangkok Post and for authoring Thai Neotraditional Art (2015) and Destiny to Imagination: Prateep Kochabua (2013).

Forward To The Past (Excerpt)

Chapter One

Kalika Averts the Cataclysm

The illustrious Vibhisana reclines upon the pillows of a dining couch within the golden walls of his diamond-encrusted celestial abode, enjoying another of the endless feasts with his revered friend, Hanuman, the monkey general. Vibhisana listens as the former commander of the monkey army rhythmically recites as court poetry one of the numerous stories recounting events of the war they fought with Rama against the demon-king Ravana, as a cast of dancers drawn from the multitude of nubile nymphs act out the dance-drama.

"... 'Twas upon that day thou dauntless rose,

With mystic mace to smote the foe,

Whose mighty body lurched and reeled,

And upon blood-soaked field, fate was sealed."

Vibhisana applauds as Hanuman takes a bow, reposes upon the couch nearby and they raise their golden goblets.

"Dearest Hanuman, let us drink to our glorious victories of the past, and to Rama, King of Ayodhya, and the defeat of my foul brother, Ravana of Lanka!"

They each take a deep draught of soma-the elixir of the gods-and sit back, resigning themselves to the hands of the fair nymphs as the liquid fire sets their hearts ablaze, until their pleasure is rudely interrupted by the unexpected and unpleasantly long, loud blast of a horn.

"Vibhisana, what is the source of that abominable noise that cometh from thither?"

"Methinks 'tis Kalika."

"Kalika? The vimana?"

"Yea. I thought she was laid up inside her hangar beside the palace. She hath never summoned us thusly before."

Their ears are assailed by another long blast.

"Perchance a fierce anger hath taken hold upon her," says the monkey general.

The pair of semi-divine devas rise up from their dining couches and step outside the lavishly bedecked chambers of the palace onto a nearby balcony, where they find the vimana-a pyramid-shaped flying vessel made of metal with propellers, vertical ducts, rudders and a large goblet-shaped mirror on top-floating.

"What troublest thee, Kalika?" enquires Vibhisana.

"Canst thou not hearest that dissonant cacophony and smellest that noxious miasma rising up from the Realm of Humans?" she asks.

The devas step up to the balustrade. They look across the fields of lotus flowers of variegated colors, across the rivers of ghee and wine, and down upon the terrestrial globe of the Realm of Humans far below, from where the dreadful din and vile vapor emanate.

"Behold, they appear to be waging a great war, one that engulfs the entire world," observes Kalika.

"A world war? But how couldeth that be? 'Tis a most inauspicious omen, methinks," says Vibhisana, the great sage. "But what dost thou proposest be done about the foul emanations of the humans?"

The diamond-pelted monkey general says, "Look closely. The humans have mastered the magic of vimana and can now fly across the sky like gods!"

"The humans have risen as high as the clouds alone, not into the celestial sphere," Vibhisana remarks.

"They appear to be flying great flocks of giant birds that soar upon high without flapping of wings," says Hanuman.

"Methinks they are vimanas of war that appear to duel each other in the sky," adds Vibhisana. "Their war consumeth the earth and the sky both."

"As thou sayest, ''Tis a most inauspicious omen.' If the humans wage worldwide war, it indeed augurs most ill for their collective future," says Kalika.

"Thence we must explore this new magic of the humans forthwith, before they master it and reach the spheric," says Vibhisana. "If they can wage war across the world and have learnt the magic of flight they may soon learn other magic more perilous and bring it hither." He turns to the monkey general. "Hanuman, wilt thou joinest us upon this worthy voyage to the Realm of Humans?"

"It has been too long since our last exploits upon the earth, let us depart without delay!"

Vibhisana and Hanuman board Kalika and set about checking the cables, suction pipes, pumps, pistons, springs, tubes and tortious-shaped tanks made of iron, bronze and brass. They next check the agnysastra-a goblet-shaped circular mirror etched with potent yantras that concentrates solar rays into a powerful superheated beam-affixed to the top of the golden vessel. Once determining Kalika to be airworthy, they light the burners that heat her quicksilver and sit at the front upon a couch with feet upon footstools behind the viewing window.

Vibhisana, the pilot, concentrates on one of the many yantras of interlocking triangles decorating the interior of the vessel and chants a mantra, tuning the movement of his soul with that of Kalika's and she gets underway, lifting off and swooping down through the celestial sphere buffeted by ethereal waves. At length, Kalika pushes through the increasing air pressure and density until she emerges through layers of cloud and floats close to the surface of the earth.

Just as they had seen from the heavens far above, the humans are engaged in waging a terrible war of attrition from an endless labyrinth of trenches crowded with troops.

The trio watches as the events unfold below.

Despite being proceeded by formidable fusillades of cannon fire, the successive waves of foot soldiers-marching forward in line elbow to elbow-are cut down in swathes by flashing bursts of hot metal. These futile assaults are followed by the no less futile counterattacks of the enemy, a useless slaughter that goes on not with thousands of combatants killed as in days of yore, millions upon millions are massacred.

Although many die, so many more remain left to be killed, so many that the humans turn to inhuman means of murdering their fellows, firing projectiles that release yellowish clouds of burning gas, blistering the skin and blinding many.

"This cowardly weapon of warfare was the cause of the foul odor wafting heavenward," coughs Hanuman with tears welling in his burning eyes.

They watch as the humans use their vimanas of war and a range of other occult weaponry the likes of which none of them have before seen-strange catapults, crossbows and chariots-to wipe each other out through unconscionable means and in inordinate numbers.

The war degenerates into such an unspeakable quagmire that the morale of the troops on all sides begins to fail as the instinct for self-preservation inevitably wins out over the instinct to kill. The soldiery is eventually forced to take ever-deeper cover in their squalid trenches, each soldier living in perpetual fear of having his head blown off if he should raise it too high.

Later, as the losses become heavier and heavier, more and more men refuse to accept this as their fate and begin disregarding the suicidal orders of their superiors. Soldiers begin mutinying and revolting against their commanders. The devas witness an entire front of several armies discarding their weapons and falling into complete military collapse, while on another front, vicious repression against the soldiery prevents disaster.

As the devas circle above a corpse-littered battlefield stretching from horizon to horizon they catch sight of a squadron of multicolored vimanas of war that come dropping out of a cloud with a loud whining roar. With black crosses displayed on each side of their metal-tube fuselages and the uppermost and lowermost of their three-tiered wings, the squadron of a dozen vimanas with open cockpits comes swooping toward them in formation from starboard. Once at close range the same flashing bursts of hot metal cutting down the soldiery upon the battlefield are unleashed, only these make loud pinging noises upon peppering Kalika's hull.

"Ouch!" she yelps. "That hurts."

Hanuman flashes his incisors. "I shall strike off their heads and hurl their decapitated bodies upon the earth with such might that they shall dig their own graves!" He leaps up from his seat and makes haste to disembark.

"Nay, Hanuman. Though thou art son of Vayu, the Wind God, possessed of both the power of flight and the strength to smite all thy mortal foes, please remainest seated."

"Their haughty leader, the one in the extravagantly painted bright red vimana, mocketh us with his looping and rolling and other aggressive aerial acrobatics! And why are they all colored so gaudily, pray tell? Are they a flying circus?"

"'Tis true that in days of yore in our fight against the demon-king thou slewest many a demon and this earned thee great meritorious karma; but to smite an earth being wilt earn thee great demeritorious karma. If thou smitest this pilot, perchance in thy next life thou shalt be reborn as a human thyself as punishment."

"What of the agnysastra? Can I not turn its concentrated solar rays upon them?"

"Nay, the agnysastra would utterly destroy them all, accruing even greater demeritorious karma if we were to unleash its power. My dear friend, do not allowest such trivial effronteries from rogues such as these to get a rise out of thee."

Hanuman reluctantly retakes his seat with a huff of exasperation. "As thou wishest, O wisest of counselors. If I cannot confront them in open battle, can Kalika out-fly these petty flying machines?"