Did In Search Of… Beget Expedition Unknown?

My tastes in entertainment have matured as TV’s efforts to sensationalize myths and tell titillating tales have evolved. Still, nothing prompts my imagination quite like ancient unsolved riddles, a big factor in my decision to write historical fantasy novels.

GPRWaWGHjRSMMbwIt’s fun to speculate that there are bizarre truths behind mysterious stories. From Sasquatch to ESP to UFOs, I’ve always been a fan of weird stuff. Give it a paranormal twist—throw in some vampires or poltergeists—and I’m riveted. Package it all as a quasi-documentary/semi-reality TV show with Leonard Nimoy as host, and you have one of my favorites from the 1970s. The incredibly popular In Search Of… presented speculation and conjecture as possible explanations for enduring mysteries such as the identify of Jack the Ripper or the truth about the lost continent of Atlantis.


Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin KeyTreasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key is a historical sword-and-science fantasy adventure. A Persian warrior’s curiosity is ignited when he leads an invasion into Dodrazeb, a strange isolated kingdom that possesses incredible technology. Ancient Dodrazeb’s puzzling choice to hide from the world draws the warrior deeper into layers of mysteries as its princess does everything she can to expel the invaders. What are the Dodrazebbians so desperate to keep hidden? Get your copy on Amazon.com! Available in both e-book and paperback.


8066bf599bbddaa4481542b5d4effb8cIn Search Of… was informative, fun, and nerdy, providing some ambiguous answers and leaving the door open for other (more plausible) explanations. It was lightweight entertainment, but it turned me on to some real enduring mysteries: Stonehenge, the Great Pyramids, the Nazca Plains, the mystery of Roanoke Colony, the genius of Nikola Tesla, and so much more.

expedition-unknown-josh-gates-nazca-peru-005.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.966.725Today I am an avid fan of Josh Gates and his series Expedition Unknown. Gates, a scholar with an appetite for exotic food and amazing adventures, is a man-mountain of globe-trotting curiosity. He’s an archaeologist with an infectious enthusiasm for the bizarre who seeks the truth about ancient and historical mysteries. To get at the real story behind whatever myth or legend he’s investigating, Gates employs scientific research methods presented as heart-pounding adventures filmed around the world.

josh-gates-on-location-21.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.966.725Expedition Unknown has taken Gates to some of the most remote and dangerous locations on the planet. Indiana Jones would be impressed by his ability to access and explain never-before-seen artifacts while getting into some precarious circumstances. On each mission, Gates interacts with the people and shares impressions of the culture he’s visiting. He also indulges in the local cuisine, a segment that should come with a warning for the squeamish.

TEXU302H_Attila-the-hun_251287_912112.1457498.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.966.725Combining elements of travelogue with lessons in history and sociology, Gates takes the viewer on a journey of discovery filled with humor. Turn him loose in a tourist souvenir shop and he becomes a stand-up comedian. Put an obstacle in his path and he entertains viewers (and his camera crew) with groan-worthy one-liners.

Gates peels away the thin veneer of supposition, superstition, and sensationalism to reveal the solid truth at the core of legends and mysteries. Mostly, though, he makes history fun and accessible through investigating both familiar and little-known unsolved puzzles. What a marvelous way to exploit television’s ability to entertain and teach at the same time.

Sources

http://www.travelchannel.com/shows/expedition-unknown/articles/meet-josh-gates

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josh_Gates

https://www.facebook.com/joshgatesofficial/

http://www.therobotsvoice.com/2009/01/the_10_most_awesome_in_search_of_episodes.php

https://willmckinley.wordpress.com/2015/02/27/in-search-of-leonard-nimoys-1970s-reality-show/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_Search_of…_(TV_series)

 

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Shangri-La: The Ideal “Happy Place”

KalachakraSeraJames Hilton’s novel Lost Horizon, published in 1933, popularized the idea of a hidden, peaceful valley isolated from the strife of the outside world with happy, contented inhabitants who enjoyed long life in harmony with each other. He called his fictional paradise on earth Shangri-La and located it somewhere in the Himalaya Mountains.

Hilton’s inspiration for this type of Utopia may have been influenced by an ancient belief system known as Shambhala that pre-dates and influenced both the Tibetan Buddhist and Hindu traditions. Wherever it originated, the idea of Shambhala has become associated with a fabulous realm that may be less geographical and more metaphysical.


Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin KeySet in the third century, Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key is a historical sword-and-science fantasy adventure. A Persian warrior’s curiosity is ignited when he leads an invasion into Dodrazeb, a strange isolated kingdom that possesses incredible technology. Ancient Dodrazeb’s puzzling choice to hide from the world draws the warrior deeper into layers of mysteries as its princess does everything she can to expel the invaders. What are the Dodrazebbians so desperate to keep hidden? Get your copy on Amazon.com! Available in both e-book and paperback.


Rigdan_Tagpa

Manjuśrīkīrti, King of Shambhala

Tibetans say that the need to find paradise is what keeps us from experiencing it. The present Dalai Lama describes the search for Shambala as “an outer journey that becomes a journey of inner exploration and discovery.”

Since the early twentieth century, the idea of a paradise on earth has permeated western pop culture. “Shambala,” a song written by Daniel Moore, was released in 1973 by Three Dog Night. (Click here to go to YouTube to view a live performance.) The lyrics are simple, the tune is catchy, and who wouldn’t want to live in peaceful harmony where “everyone is lucky, everyone is so kind?”

josh-gates-on-location-ShangriLa

Josh Gates of Expedition Unknown

Josh Gates, the globe-trotting host of the television show Expedition Unknown, recently trekked high into the Sky Caves of Nepal with a team of archaeologists and explorers in search of the origins of the Shangri-La myth. What he found high in the Mustang region of the Himalayan mountains was hauntingly beautiful, fascinating, and may actually be a “real-life counterpart” to the legend.

I’ve put a different kind of spin on the Shangri-La theme in my novel The Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin KeyThe inhabitants of the mystical kingdom in my story work hard to remain hidden from the rest of the world. When a Persian prince discovers it in the course of a brutal invasion, ancient secrets are revealed that may threaten not only the Persian Empire, but the future of all mankind.

Sources:

http://www.pbs.org/mythsandheroes/myths_four_shangrila.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_Horizon
http://www.travelchannel.com/shows/expedition-unknown/episodes/secrets-of-shangri-la