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Interview

Ascendant p3

Don Tyler and Chris Bryant from Ascendant recommend some favorite books...

READERSVOICE.COM: Can you give a list of some of your favorite books of all time?

DON TYLER: I read every chance I get. I got started reading Tolkien in grade school, and then got into Bradbury, Asimov, Clarke, Niven and that whole golden age of science fiction. I never looked back, and kept with it through the age of cyberpunk and now into the likes of Neal Asher, Iain Banks & Alastair Reynolds [whose most recent novel was Revenger from 2016].
The esoteric traditions are also an interest and a deep inspiration. The Golden Bough is something I still dip into. [In the late 1890s, Scottish anthropologist James George Frazer described various practices of religion, mythology and magic throughout the world, and compared them.]
The works of Crowley or Mathers. [Aleister Crowley was an English occultist. He was very anti-Christian, so his work might not be for everyone. He started his own religion Thelema, which believed: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. This is in contrast to the Christian concept of freedom through doing God’s will.].
Jack Parsons’ Freedom is a Double-Edged Sword is an inspiring manifesto. Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces should be mandatory reading in schools. Amazing work, that. The Hero’s Journey can apply to almost every aspect of your life, creative or otherwise, and is a fantastic way to look at how to arrange your music and taking the listener on that journey.

CHRIS BRYANT: I’ve always been a fan of Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse which, as Don mentioned, is the Hero’s Journey 100 per cent. You could do Siddhartha in space and it would still translate into an amazing story. [Siddhartha, originally published in 1922, is a novella describing a wealthy Indian Brahmin who casts off his life of privilege to seek spiritual fulfillment and wisdom.]
In college I was a huge fan of the beat writers of the 50’s and fell in love with their endless use of abstract prose and endless paragraphs. I still write emails like that…just to keep that style of writing alive. [The Beats include Jack Kerouac, whose most famous novel was the semi-autobiographical On the Road. This and an earlier novel The Town and the City show the influence of Thomas Wolfe, author of novels like You Can’t Go Home Again. Another Beat writer was William Burroughs who wrote Queer and Junkie, which were semi autobiographical, as well as his more abstract novel Naked Lunch, the title of which was suggested by Jack Kerouac.].
Also love the work of Hunter S. Thompson [Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and his collection of journalism and essays The Great Shark Hunt] as he’s taught me to stay on the edge and if you don’t have a bleeding passion for something, you shouldn’t be doing it.
As for non-fiction, one of my favorite non-fiction books is Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki. Amazing approach to life and even creative work if you can take it into context. If you always see things from the mind of a beginner, all possibilities are open! The fool card in the tarot deck is the perfect example of this. I also love Be Here Now by Ram Dass even though it’s a bit dated. Enlightenment is only the beginning of the journey. There is so much more.

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