Robert Fripp, author
Creation never stops. That’s how ‘The Becoming’ came to be a book title. ‘Becoming’ suggests that our cosmic and biological creation is a perpetual happening, a coming together of what was, what is, what shall be. The Becoming (U.K., 1998) tells our planet’s tale. Plain English supports this tale of modern science while setting up my verse.
Paulist Press changed my U.K. title to Let There Be Life for the North American audience (2001). By either name, these books spark stories of life and creation. Plain English tells the stories, with verse. (Fine reviews, too.)
The force driving and perfecting the living world also endows it with health. Long ago, aboriginal peoples learned to apply spiritual powers to the healing of minds and bodies. Spirit in Health explores shamans’ powers in ancient Animist societies. Through thousands of years, shamans on every continent developed spiritual powers in attempts to heal. Modern medicine is just the latest source of healing.
Designer Will Burtin earned his lasting reputation by using design to visualise medical science. Much of his talent involved illustrating pharmaceuticals. Burtin’s large 3D models for The Upjohn Company carried the art and crafts of display to new heights. As well, he pioneered the ‘clean’, uncluttered use of sans-serif type. Burtin, a pioneer of creative power in product branding, also shares the reputation for ‘fathering’ corporate branding. We published Design and Science: the life and work of Will Burtin (2007), in London and New York.
Work in public affairs television accelerated. In 1976 the Resources Department brought us a marine exploration series: The New Wave took us into the seas beyond Canada’s many coasts. The series has sunk without trace in CBC Archives. This creased and faded poster for The New Wave was the only artefact I could find. But creating these programs was thrilling.
Then came CBC’s investigative, public affairs series, the fifth estate. After pulling together 350 episodes for ‘the fifth’, it was time for a change. The change involved writing for business clients, and publishing, a route through a different kind of cosmos.
Next, IBM needed a magazine series to report on leading-edge roles for high performance computing in engineering and scientific research. That led to setting up IBM Visions magazine.
British novelist John Fowles would have styled my Dark Sovereign a ‘literary curiosity’. (He applied that term to The Becoming.) For the first time in four centuries a modern writer has challenged William Shakespeare by writing a full-length play in the Bard’s Renaissance English—and doing it fluently. Shakespeare wrote his Tragedy of Richard the Third as Tudor propaganda for the Court of Queen Elizabeth I, portraying King Richard III as a sociopath and killer. As the series producer of CBC-TV’s long-running investigative program, the fifth estate, I felt that it was time to correct a journalistic wrong.
Hence Dark Sovereign: it counters Shakespeare’s interpretation, telling a more accurate tale of Richard’s troubled reign. Commentators have described the text of Dark Sovereign as ‘An amazing adventure’, and ‘A cultural accomplishment of the highest order’. Dark Sovereign is now the longest single-part play crafted in Renaissance English. A good one, too.
From Richard III, to Eleanor of Aquitaine, among medieval Europe’s most resilient women. In Power of a Woman, Eleanor dictates her memoirs. The queen became the widow to two kings: the monkish Louis VII of France; and the hot-tempered, law-giving warrior, Henry II of England. With Louis, Eleanor went on Crusade. With Henry, she rebuilt England and the couple’s Angevin empire. Having had enough of marriage, she set up her own Court of Ladies in Poitiers. Beating back a sea of troubles Eleanor survived to 82. Power of a Woman gives her inmost mind a voice.
Just released, forty new stories in two books: Wessex Tales, Volume 1, and Volume 2. In 1888, Thomas Hardy gave that title to short fiction set in England’s county of Dorset. I thought it time to use Hardy’s title again for stories set in the county that is also mine. My Wessex Tales move through ‘Eight thousand years in the life of an English village’, from the time a tsunami cut the British islands off from Europe, to the aftermath of the First World War. These two books are dedicated to the men from my home village, Shillingstone, who gave their lives in that war.
Here’s a puzzle. Who paid for the face of Christ to be laid in the central roundel of a large and opulent Roman mosaic floor? The mosaic was found in 1963, under the grass of a Dorset meadow, miles from a major Roman settlement. What was the client’s motive? Who was the master mosaicist who laid this face in its floor? Wessex Tales, Volume 1 offers The Face in the Floor. It answers those questions.
You can read nine Wessex Tales stories right now, no charge. They’re on Smashwords. Stories there include The Face in the Floor, its sequel, Julia, and A Short Walk in France, (see below).
A last word: My Wessex Tales are fiction. But some are set in the village which—in fact, not fiction—sent a higher proportion of its young men to the First World War in the early months than any other village in the U.K. The story, A Short Walk in France, drew this 5-star review, the first* for any tale in this series. It reads:
* “A harsh, sobering, and completely accurate description of combat that is reminiscent of All’s Quiet on the Western Front. Although set in 1916 France, it could very well have been anywhere from Stalingrad to Inchon, la Drang Valley, Baghdad, or anywhere in Afghanistan…. Five stars without hesitation and highly recommended reading for everyone.” ~ David H. Keith, former U.S. Army combat medic, paramedic.
Readers, thank you for coming with me this far. May words on these pages reward your interest, and may your Fates be kind!