Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Is it NaNoWriMo again?

Well, it is tomorrow, and for squillions of wannabe writers like me, that means sitting down reguarly and trying to bash out a 50,000 word novel in 30 days flat.

Only, I will be doing no such thing. There is not even a remote possibility of the day job letting up in November, except for a few days set aside for long overdue tasks like boarding the loft and stowing Her Babyship's disused baby stuff securely, so no chance of getting close to 50k.

But I have been neglecting my writing somewhat lately. So, in a sort of spirit of solidarity with all my insane fellow writers who are diving into the NaNo thing, I'm going to make an effort to write something every day. I can probably cram 20 minutes of fiction writing into a lunch break, or before or after my working day (although that's usually when I write this rubbish, so I don't know what will happen there). There is a novel draft I need to add to, and some short story projects I want to at least attempt. There are plenty of ideas I can try to distill into, if you're lucky, blog-post length.

No targets at the moment, other than just to get back into the habit of writing. I guess I'll start tomorrow and see how far I get. Who knows, maybe I will get to 50k after all....

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tuesday Tunes

It's going to be quickies all week I think, so here's your Sci-fi Tune of the Week:

Buck Rogers by Feeder.

Does that work? My filter messes the 'Tube up....

Thursday, October 25, 2007

CSFF Blog Tour: Rewriting the Bible

CSSF Blog Tour

Well, the tour's officially over, but I'm hoping I might catch a few stragglers here, because I might just say something interesting.

Obviously, I haven't read Bark of the Bog Owl, but I have read a few of the reviews and other posts on the tour this week, so I've picked up that it isn't a guide to recognising the calls of fantastic creatures.

What it is, is a fantasy re-telling of the story of King David, and it is the comments on this aspect of the story which I have been most interested in.

For those who have figured out what Old Testament Space Opera is, it should be fairly clear where I stand on the subject - and why I'm interested in the opinions of readers of CSF.

Opinions like:
The plot is predictable. But how many children's stories aren't predictable? The joy is in the journey and the journey Aidan led me on was most enjoyable.(Sally Apokedak)
Now I'll be the first to admit that once you figure out where Countless as the Stars is going, you have a pretty good idea how it's going to end. I guess the story may be less well known than David and Goliath, but, at heart, it follows very closely the Old Testament story, embellishing it with spaceships, rayguns, and sub-plots of my own invention, all of which I hope would make for an interesting journey.

My problem is that while 'predictable' may be ok for a kids book, following so closely the OT, I have ended up with a lot of sex, drugs and violence. The sex is all behind closed doors, and it's included for good reason (it was in the Bible, after all) but it's enough to rule it out as a kids book - and I fear predictable may be less ok for an adult book.

On the other hand, Brandon Barr said:
Fantasy fiction can retell a story, giving it a new setting, new names, and can
refresh our senses, reminding us of the true power of the story. .
And Becky Miller wrote:
I discovered I had a greater understanding of the Biblical event and yet
experienced a story that was so unique and fun, it was in no way spoiled because
I knew key plot points in advance.
Which are the kinds of things I hoped to achieve in Countless as the Stars. Certainly, I learned a whole lot while studying the Biblical events and trying to relate them to 21st Century life through a science fiction novel.

That's why I translated wine into drugs, and deliberately kept the sex in. (My original intention was to continue the story, and explore the consequences of these actions; there's a semi-plotted sequel in existence, although it may never see the light of day unless some publisher is willing to remix Countless and put both novels out.)

If I were to re-write King David, he would be a computer nerd, dedicated to finding the achilles heel of the genetically engineered super-human Goliath (the pure space opera version already being well known of course - Luke & the Death Star). But I'd include all of David's less admirable traits - I would certainly make him a womaniser (he may be a nerd, but he's a nerd with fame, money and power). He may, for the sake of relating to real life, stop somewhere short of murder to get the woman of his dreams, but you can be sure it would be pretty unpleasant - and surprisingly ungodly.

And, probably, not really suitable for a children's book.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Bark of the Blog Owl

CSSF Blog Tour

I'm back in familiar territory for this month's blog tour, bluffing my through having never picked up the book in question (which, for the interested among you, is called Bark of the Bog Owl, and is part one of the Wilderking trilogy by Jonathan Rogers.

I won't bore you with a stock synopsis, you can find that on the book's website, or browse through my tourmates' blogs for a proper review. Suffice to say, it's a fantasy novel, and the protagonist is 12 years old - that should be enough to know whether you want to read it or not.

I do have one question though: Why are the heroes of CSF novels all called Aidan? Wilderking's hero is called Aidan Errolson, The Door Within's hero is called Aiden Thomas, and the hero of Countless as the Stars is Aidan Qqayle... Coincidence? Or bizarre subliminal messaging?

Check out these blogs for the answers to none of these questions...

Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Amy Browning
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Chris Deanne
Janey DeMeo
Merrie Destefano or Alien Dream
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Christopher Hopper
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Dawn King
Mike Lynch
Rachel Marks
Karen McSpadden
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
Lyn Perry
Deena Peterson
Cheryl Russel
Ashley Rutherford
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Donna Swanson
Daniel I. Weaver
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tuesday Tunes: Justified & Ancient

I seem to recall saying I would use this feature to review some of the more obscure acts in my music collection.

I'm not sure if the KLF really fit that, since 1990's What Time is Love? brought them to the attention of most of the world, and they didn't exactly avoid publicity, but that's where we'll start.

I can't remember what it was about them (although I'm sure the whole Mu Mu thing had me curious) but something got me hooked, and a lot of my pocket money in the early 90s was spent buying up any record I could find by the KLF or their alter-egos the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, resulting in a collection of remixes of some tracks, none of which sound anything like the radio version...

And lately, thanks to the wonders of e-bay, I have started to fill the gaps in my collection, notably a copy of The JAMs' original and unedited LP 1987, an album which straddles the thin line between genius and lunacy as only Drummond & Cauty can.

The album wavers from the sublime to the ridiculous right from the opening Hey Hey We Are Not The Monkees ('We don't even like the Monkees/I don't think I ever liked the Monkees', King Boy shouts, before the now familiar refrain 'We're justified, and we're ancient...') and frequently detours to the utterly insane - random sampling from last weeks Top of the Pops anyone?

The (then) new technique of sampling other people's records was abused pretty much indiscriminately, at its best on Don't Take Five (Take What You Want), which takes its title from Dave Brubeck's heavily sampled Take Five, and All You Need Is Love, which starts with a Beatles sample, and relies heavily on the Government's 'Don't Die of Ignorance' AIDS awareness campaign and Samantha Fox's Touch Me to make what sounds suspiciously like a political point...

Side 2 starts, bizarrely, with Mu Re Con, apparently recorded by accident when a Vietnamese session musician sang it while the tapes were running, and Bill and Jimmy happened to like it...

From there we descend again into madness: The Queen And I, the infamous track which took pretty much the whole of Dancing Queen without permission and had Abba forcing withdrawal and destruction of the record... which subsequently became the basis of much of the JAMs 'mythos', right up to the KLF's huge hit 3am Eternal.

The final track on the album, Next, takes similar liberties with copyright, taking obvious samples from Stevie Wonder's Superstition, and The Lonely Goatherd from The Sound of Music, among numerous, less obvious, others.

It is completely bonkers, and at times virtually unlistenable, but with far more high points than low. And it's an essential part of the JAMs/KLF story, which so intrigued me as a yoof...

Now, since I had such fun tracking down obscure Mars related songs the other week, I thought I'd add another little feature to Tuesday Tunes...

Sci-fi Song of the Week

Normally I'd suggest you all try and track it down from your favourite download site, but you might need to hit e-bay for the inaugural offering, which, to tie in with the rest of the post, is of course...

Doctorin' the Tardis by The Timelords (also known as the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, furthermore known as the KLF).

Monday, October 15, 2007

Miss, I wannabe a Marcher Lord!

Ah, to be a careers adviser in the 13th Century, when there was no more noble calling than to defend England's borders against the Welsh.

Of course, things have moved on a bit since then, and nowadays Marcher Lords are out on the borderlands of fiction, setting up an outpost for Christian speculative fiction. Or, as Jeff Gerke puts it, 'weird' Christian fiction.

Weird Christian fiction eh? Now that's an idea I can relate to. So I - and I'm sure, many visitors to this blog (many? Do I even have many visitors?) - will be watching Marcher Lord Press over the next 12 months. I may well become a regular customer. If I put my mind to it and write something good (and weird!), who knows, there may even be an outside chance of becoming a MLP author (well, it's a more realistic ambition than becoming the next Iain Banks, isn't it?)

Personal ambitions aside, I wish MLP the best of luck, and look forward to some quality Christian weirdness next Christmas.

Oh, and I really should go check out his forums & collaborative fiction site some time.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

What are the chances?

Not that I was bored and just messing about online instead of working or anything, but by a curious coincidence, this happened:
Well, it amused me anyway.

Monday, October 01, 2007

miscellaneous bloggery 9

I've spotted a few interesting titbits around over the last week or two, which I was going to share but Elliot beat me to it.

This looked fun too: What 5 scifi movies do you watch over and over? Well, based purely on the movies I've actually bothered to buy on DVD....
  • Star Wars (Episodes 4 & 5. Is that two choices?)
  • The Matrix
  • Serenity
  • Back to the Future (Part 2 if I could only take one)
  • ...and, if the judges are lenient and let The Empire Strike Back, I'll put Ghostbusters in for light entertainment.

And here's a little something that's been amusing me lately: The Ongoing Adventures of ASBO Jesus.

Proper writing may resume shortly. If I can find the time.