Friday, March 30, 2007

Miscellaneous Poddery

I'm still a bit new to the whole podcast lark, but since I recently figured out I could plug my MP3 player into my car stereo, I've started catching up with a few on those long business trips.

A sci-fi favourite is Starship Sofa, which I might eventually catch up with. Of interest to readers of this blog might be the show on Religion in Science Fiction. They don't cover much that won't be familiar to, say, regulars at Elliot's blog, but they cover it in a more irreverant style, and with different accents. Oh, and they managed to namecheck a certain blog, so it only seems fair to return the favour anyhow.

Another one that might be of interest is The Sci Phi Show. The main subject here is a philosophical discussion of science fiction, but host Jason Rennie is a Christian, so the occasional religious topic does poke its head above the parapet.

Both of these have forums attached, which I have as yet utterly failed to participate in, but if you have time for that sort of thing, tell them I sent you anyway. ;)

And on the fiction side of science fiction, I have dabbled in Escape Pod a bit, and also Podiobooks has a few titles that sound like they may be of interest to this blog, though I have yet to sample any. I'm expecting to drive to Devon next month (about a 440-mile round trip) - some reviews may well follow thereafter.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Yoda on Mars (reprise)

I had convinced myself that the fleeting scene in which Yoda appeared on Life on Mars would be cut. I didn't want to be too disappointed if that did happen.

And when Sam Tyler suddenly appeared in Lancashire General Hospital without actually driving up to the entrance, I thought that had in fact happened.

But then, forty minutes and several brilliant one-liners later...

Yes, that was Yoda's big TV debut. You may only have seen the back third of him, but he was right there, in the foreground, like an annoying kid on a live news item.

Anyway, to celebrate, I thought I'd upload a few more pics from the hospital. You know, just to prove that actually was my car on the beeb's top drama series ;)

Me? Sneak around inside a film set? You've got the wrong man there. Guv.

Genuine 1970s filing cabintets. Probably.

The exterior of Lancashire General Hospital.

And the scene from where I was watching.

More pictures, news from the shoot, and an explanation for any confused Star Wars fans who wandered in looking for a 900-year-old Jedi Master here.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Who is This God Person Anyway? (Fit the Fourth - Sorry I'm late...)

I'm still a bit caught up in all the excitement of getting my new and improved website, well, improved, so I still haven't prepared that detailed sermon on the theology of HHG. Sorry. Still, just to prove I haven't forgotten about the whole exercise, here's a little nugget of truth, refined from a chunk of Adams-esque humour:

... one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change ...

Well, it does kind of reflect Jesus' message, or at least part of it. Obviously it was this that inspired two of the greatest philosophers of our age, Ted 'Theodore' Logan and Bill S. Preston, Esq.

Of course, we know the DNA just liked to play around with religious ideas, like having the 'minor deities from the Halls of Asgard' booking a table at Milliways, where the Great Prophet Zarquon also makes his final triumphant Second Coming, only to disappear along with the rest of the Universe. (Presumably this was a side-effect of arriving by supernatural means, rather than the more 'scientific' front door of time travel.)

At this point I would like to embark upon a detailed discussion of the merits of the Zarquonist religion, however, due to his rather poor punctuality little is really known about the Great Prophet or his teachings. In fact, all we know is that his followers expect him to return at some point in the Galactic grand scheme of things, but in the meantime his name makes for good swearing.

Zarquon's singing fish, is that Douglas Adams poking fun at Christianity, perchance?

Friday, March 23, 2007

This week, I 'ave been mostly watchin....

The last episode of Primeval, which was, in fact, something of a return to the show's potential. It's unfortunate that it had a mid-season slump (which, with only 6 episodes made, took out half the series), and the dodo episode wandered off down a sub-plot that really should have been resolved, or at least not subsequently forgotten about.

But a lion-eating monster from the future sort of makes up for all that, and leaves me with some hope that season 2 might be a bit less along the lines of 'A prehistoric creature appears somewhere in the Home Counties. Cutter and the crew go and investigate. Someone gets hurt. Connor fails to get off with her out of S Club. Mrs Cutter appears mysteriously and does something annoying. Her out of S Club wanders around in her pants for a bit. The Home Office people blither about and get in the way. The prehistoric monster goes away again.'

You have to wonder where some of the ideas have come from though. I mean Helen Cutter has been mucking about in the Paleozoic for eight years without anyone noticing, then the Home Office get involved and within six weeks there's a paradox so big it threatens to destroy the galaxy*. Where did they come up with that?

Life on Mars, which reached a new height of surreal genius with the Camberwick Green business. I can't help wondering how many takes it needed for John Simm to get that line out with a straight face: "I can just about handle you, driving like a pissed up crackhead and treating women like beanbags. But I'm going to say this once, and once only, Gene. Stay out of Camberwick Green!" Genius.

And finally: Doctor Who trailers. It must be time to start jumping up and down like an over-excited 10-year-old again....

*Possibly. That would, of course, be the cliffhanger that keeps us tuning in for season two.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

March CSFF Blog Tour: Randy Ingermanson

You might not believe this, but I have just written the best blog tour post of the month. Seriously. It was intelligent, insightful, and laced with that British humour which is my contribution to the event.

It was peppered with hyperlinks following many hours carefully researching every page of Randy's website, from which I also chose some interesting facts about the man himself (for instance, did you know he isn't dead, but expects to be at some time in the future?).

I mentioned how his work is banned from these shores for the heinous crime of 'being quite good' (the only CSFF which can legally be sold in the UK has to bear the mark of Jenkins LaHaye). Thankfully, our Randy's a generous sort of bloke, which means I have been able to read the first three chapters of several of his books, but all of none. I think Oxygen and The Fifth Man are on my list of 'things to import' when my reading list gets a bit shorter.

Then I commented on the Snowflake Method, which it seems I have been using in my writing without actually realising it had a name.

I may also have mentioned, in passing, that Randy Ingermanson has a new book out, Double Vision, which is also apparently quite good.

It was, without a doubt, one of my better blog posts.

Sadly, before it was commited to cyberspace, it disappeared in the Blogmuda Triangle. And because trying to recreate it all seems too soul-destroying a task to start right now, I'm afraid you're left with this pale imitation. Let's hope these bloggers had more luck:

Nissa Annakindt
Jim Black
Grace Bridges
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Frank Creed
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Janey DeMeo
Tessa Edwards
April Erwin
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Leathel Grody
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Sharon Hinck
Christopher Hopper
Jason Joyner
Tina Kulesa
Lost Genre Guild
Kevin Lucia and The Bookshelf Reviews 2.0 - The Compendium
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Caleb Newell
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
Robin Parrish
Cheryl Russel
Hanna Sandvig
Mirtika Schultz
James Somers
Tsaba House Authors
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Daniel I. Weaver

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Heroes of Spam

One of the side-effects of switching web servers is the loss of what it transpires was a half-decent spam filter. Now my e-mail address is back out in cyberspace without suitable protection, I'm having to filter incoming mail by hand for the time being. Which is a bit tedious, but does have its advantages.

For instance, just this morning I received an invitation to acquire shares in Patientline from Dickensian sweat-shop mogul Eroll Crim. And then there's the snippets of old Victor Hugo poems kindly passed on by my old friends Guido Noll and Sharita Yocom.

All of which is beside the point, since I don't know what v1@gra is, but if anybody out there wants some I'll put you onto Samson Sinclair, who apparently can sort you out.

Anyway, you've probably figured how this ramble comes back to the subject of Christian Science Fiction (a gentleman who has yet to send me any spam, incidentally). One of the things I dislike about creating fiction is the making up of names, which I'm sure most writers will agree is pretty crucial, especially when it comes to your protagonist and other major characters.

So I'm using this temporary influx of spam as extra inspiration for the characters in Project Seven. Troy Myers, maybe? Donnell Lacey? (Not a very English name though.) I quite like Anderson McMullen though (Andy to his friends). And the girls: Keri Kroese, Roslyn Wettstein, Lauren Broussard and Ophelia Hobbs (odd combination, that one).

Of course if any of the aforementioned names belong to real people: somebody's hijacked your e-mail.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Sci-fi: Good, Bad or Ugly?

At some point in its history, the term 'sci-fi' picked up a somewhat negative undertone. Probably it made people think of dodgy b-movies where you could still see the strings.

And I have largely avoided using the term in relation to my writing because it appears to me that sci-fi nowadays is acceptable when it comes to TV and movies (thank you, SciFi Channel) but sf is generally used in connection with the written word. Maybe that is to encompass the broader genre of speculative fiction, or maybe it's just because well-read science fiction geeks want to separate themselves from casual Doctor Who fans.

Personally, I don't do fantasy as a rule, so I just sat on the fence and used 'science fiction' most of the time.

Which brings a whole new set of problems when you're talking about Christian science fiction: do you mean Christian science fiction, or Christian Science fiction? I would hope that a brief look at the contents of this blog would be enough to tell which I'm interested in, but it's a comment I've heard a few times, and it's true it might scare off a passing visitor. I skipped the issue in my website previously by calling it Biblical science fiction, which is arguably more accurate for stories based on the Old Testament, but is not really a widely used term.

The point of all this rambling is to say that I'm no longer concerned with being literary about my sf writings. Redeveloping my website seemed a good excuse to reconsider my stance, and I have decided: I'd far rather be considered a bit of an amateur when it comes to being a science fiction fan and author than have people think I'm anything other than the Bible-believing Methodist-Pentecostal Christian I'm trying to be.

Sci-fi is no longer a rude word.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Website updates

This week's excuse for sparse blogging is that I've been beavering away behind the scenes at my website.

I haven't opened it up to the public yet, but most of the content from the original website has been transferred and is being edited into a more catchy blurby type thing for Countless as the Stars. I have decided (a bit reluctantly) to ditch the few bits from my journalistic career which were posted, partly because they are a bit old now, but mainly to concentrate on things more related to my book and Christian science fiction in general.

First decision though: which design? Currently you will see this welcome page:

and the remaining pages look something like this:
As an alternative, I've played around with this front page, which I like because the spacecraft looks more like something from my novel than a NASA stock photo:

but the text pages look a little dark, at least until such time as some artistically talented individual volunteers to provide some pictures of people or scenes from the book.

So if anyone thinks they can liven this up with a space battle or something, let me know. Otherwise, I'll be sticking with the orange peel for now.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Project Seven

What is Project Seven?

A vast multi-national attempt to finally prove the existence (or not) of God?
Some wierd science experiment which has the unlikely side-effect of making angels and demons visible to the human eye?
Or just a vaguely good but currently aimless title for a CSF story?

Well, actually, I'm referring to the seventh item on my WIPlist. Which, oddly, was a non-sf project. However, because I am utterly hopeless at writing 'real world' stories (I may be hopeless at sf stories too, but I get a kick out of it anyway) some elements of it have gone into The Sequel. However, I don't think sf is really the genre this story needs.

So, I hear you asking, what actually is Project Seven?

Well, it's more fantasy (which I keep saying I'm not going to blog about here) than sf, but more like The Prisoner than The Hobbit. It's based in a world I dreamt up a while ago, which somebody subsequently stole from my head and made into a TV show. There's angels. There's demons. There's flashbacks - the protag has a dark past and is seeking redemption. Sounds a bit Angel-esque, I know, but there's no vampires. It's differently dark - the dark side comes from the real world. Originally there was a plane crash on a mysterious island, but I think I may have to (ahem) lose that. I might even find room for some Brit humour.

Project Seven is what I want to work on right now. There's some work needed to tweak the setting - I was thinking post-apocalypse urban fantasy, but I don't want to lean too much towards Angel. Tongue-in-cheek post-rapture world, perhaps? Or maybe Project Seven is a Quantum Leap-style time travel project, allowing my hero to go back in time and make amends for his own screw-ups...