Friday, December 19, 2008
So I'll be back and bloggier than ever* in the New Year.
Until then have a peaceful Christmas and a great New Year. :)
*levels of blogginess can go down as well as up
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Go and download the version by Jeff Buckley. You could download the original by Leonard Cohen if you fancy a really depressing Christmas, but the Buckley version is widely touted as the best. Hey, it's Christmas - you could always do both. I'm off to get the Buckley version, and do my bit to get a decent Christmas Number One and stick to Cowell.
Well, it would be fun, wouldn't it? Not that I (or probably anyone else) have cared much for that once prized title since, well, whenever the last non-Pop Idol Factor one was. 1873, I think.
Sci-fi Song of the Week
Now I want no excuses here. You may have heard the latest addition to the mixtape; it has been on a couple of my favourite podcasts in the past. If not, if you are even remotely interested in a jolly, Christmassy, sci-fi related, fun song, you must listen to Chiron Beta Prime by Jonathan Coulton, and you must do so now. The mixtape is still over there on the left. Go listen!
EDIT: Mixwit is shutting down at the end of the year, so this is your last chance to visit the Sci-fi songs mixtape, and all the CSFF Blog Tour mixtapes so far. Blub! Find them all here.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Sadly I may not be able to blog for a while; I have to dig the kitchen out from under the dishes and various furry things I don't think have names.
But I guess I have to keep the momentum going, so I'll be back in my writing chair after a couple of well earned days off.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
I can taste victory from here!
That extra chapter has just taken off in a big way. I am too tired and achy to continue now, but nothing short of the Rapture is going to stop me finishing before bed tomorrow. I am a man on a mission!
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
There is an epilogue, summarising a sub-plot which suggested itself too late in the process to go back and add in without completely reinventing the timeline and rewriting from the ground up. I could easily make the word count that way, but time no longer allows for it.
There is another scene I would like to have put in earlier, so I might add that either in sequence (although it will make no sense), or as an epi-epilogue, so that I can use it properly when I rewrite.
Yep, that’s right: when I rewrite. Before mid-October I had no real intention of writing this story at all, but now it’s done, I can see the potential in it. It needs a lot of work to beat it into any kind of shape, but right now I think it might be worth doing - later.
Monday, November 24, 2008
A dedicated Follower of the Creed and much respected man of God, he fought the establishment of the Eight Nations Space Agency until he was called by God to join Litah - the Link Between Tellus and Heaven - and subsequently inherited leadership of the United Colonies from his father, Galford Lomas.
Qqayle was on a tour of the Lomas system, telling United Colonies citizens his testimony and the story of the establishment of the Colonies from his unique perspective.
After a speaking engagement a small group of trouble makers took issue with part of Qqayle's message, and he became embroiled in a riot, in which he sustained serious injuries from which he was unable to recover.
It is a testament to the power of Qqayle's story that a revival of the Creed appears to have started in the City since his departure.
Qqayle was a man of great humility, and those closest to him say that the last thing he would want is to be remembered as a martyr for his faith. Rather, Qqayle saw himself as a deeply flawed individual, who by the grace of God had been allowed to lead the United Colonies and been given the honour of encouraging the widespread adoption of the Creed across the Colonies.
Aidan Qqayle is survived by his wife, Doctor Savana Qqayle, and two sons, Rufus Bornane and Galford Qqayle. Aidan will be buried alongside his father at the original landing site on Lomas Prime.
The story of Aidan Qqayle's involvement in Litah and the United Colonies is told in Countless as the Stars.
Friday, November 21, 2008
But I have had a few days off work this week, which was always a standby in case of behindness.
I have, as well as the thousand words of nonsense I posted here yesterday, enabled a number of cheat modes in order to catch up, mind, such as:
- tagging every single piece of dialogue, he said pointlessly
- including lengthy IM conversations, complete with screen names
- removing all contractions. Even in IM conversations
- an email complete with to, from, bcc, etc.
- which was subsequently read out to another character
- an in depth summary of Countless as the Stars, to which this is a sequel
- so far at least two passages have been repeated from a different perspective
- a couple more passages pasted from Bible Gateway and had the names changed
- taking some comfort in the fact that the NaNo word count consistently comes to more than MS Word. Which usually comes to more than Write or Die. Shhh!
The story has taken a few odd turns, thrown in to keep the words coming, and is shot through with plot-holes you could lose Wales in, but actually I think it might be worth salvaging at some point. I could probably trim all the superfluous words and pointless scenes and get a reasonable novella out of it if I tried.
I am currently at 37.5k - ahead of the 1667 per day target! - but trying to get to 41k today. I am back at work next week, but if I know I only have to make 1000 words per day I think I might actually survive...
Thursday, November 20, 2008
'It has been quite a trip, hasn't it?' Savana said, sitting in the small but comfortable guest quarters in the Lomas Two settlement.
'You can say that again,' Aidan said emphatically. 'I think the only thing that might have made it more interesting would have been if my wormhole trip had ended up taking me further afield than it did.'
'Not too far afield, I hope,' Savana said. 'Not back to Tellus, I mean.'
'No,' Aidan agreed. 'Nor as far in the other direction.'
'What were you thinking then?' Savana asked.
'Oh, maybe if it had left me out by the outer rocky planets. Then I could have explored some really new territory,' Aidan said. 'That would have been really interesting.'
'You should do that,' Savana said. 'Take Gally with you though. You two could do with a male bonding trip.'
'Oh, oh,' Aidan said excitedly. 'What if we ended up at Lomas Five or Six, and found the missing StarCities out there.'
'Why would they still be out there? Wouldn't they be able to tell the rest of us were nearby?' Savana asked.
Aidan shrugged. 'Maybe they are trying to get here,' he suggested. 'Or maybe they are deserted. Maybe everyone died by now.'
'Everyone on a StarCity cannot die,' Savana objected. 'They are designed specifically so that cannot happen.'
'Maybe they contracted a virulent disease form a dirty telephone,' Aidan suggested. 'Or had a bloody civil war. Or encountered a stray wormhole...'
'All fairly unlikely,' Savana said.
'Yes,' Aidan agreed, 'but it would have been an interesting trip.'
'Granted,' Savana agreed. 'It would have taken a long time though, wouldn't it?'
'Well, yes,' Aidan agreed, 'but on the other hand, there is no way we should have been able to see as much of the system as we have done in so little time.'
'Hmm,' Savana said. 'So what you are saying is that you should have taken Gally off on your little wormhole trip, harnessed the power of sub-space travel-'
'Sub what now?' Aidan interrupted.
'That is what we will call it,' Savana said. 'The place where the wormholes go will be called sub-space.'
'Isn't that a bit Star Trek?' Aidan asked.
'Well, yes,' Savana admitted, 'but that also makes it a well known and readily identifiable mechanism.'
'Right,' Aidan said, bemused.
'So anyway,' Savana went on. 'You two discover this, then go off and explore the outer planets-'
'And discover a ghost city,' Aidan interjected.
'If you insist,' Savana said. 'And then we go off on our jolly across the system.'
'Exactly,' Aidan agreed.
'Actually, that would make more sense,' Savana said.
'In what way?' he asked.
'Well, Gally and I came out on this big quest,' she explained. 'To try and cure the infertility on Lomas Prime.'
'Yes,' Aidan said. 'What happened with that?'
'Well, nothing,' Savana said. 'Which is my point. Maybe the big quest should have been to find you.'
'But that would be impossible,' Aidan said.
'Not if Gally had been researching wormhole phenomena all his life,' Savana said.
'Yes,' Aidan agreed. 'That could be what he was doing at the beginning of the story, when the lights went out.'
'Aidan, stop talking as if you're a character in a NaNo novel,' Savana said.
'Ok, sorry,' Aidan said.
'Did we ever hear what happened there?' Savana said. 'About the power cut?'
'We did not,' Aidan said with a smile. 'But the readers did.'
Savana threw a cushion at him. 'Nobody reads NaNo novels,' she said.
'Well, if they did,' Aidan said, risking her wrath again, 'they might have seen that Gally was blamed for the power outages by his boss, and he volunteered to come with me in order to get away from her and the settlement that she turned against him.'
'That could be awkward when we get to return,' Savana said.
'Extra point of conflict,' Aidan said, knowingly. 'Just what a NaNo novel needs!'
'Er, quite,' Savana said, bemused.
'Well go on then,' Aida prompted. 'What would you have put in if our lives were a NaNo novel?'
'I think Gally needs a girlfriend,' she said.
'I think he needs two,' Aidan said. 'Conflict, remember?' he added in response to Savana's glare.
'Whatever happens to the Straker twins?' Savana asked. 'Weren't they supposed to appear in this boo- er, part of our lives?'
'Good question,' Aidan said. 'Still, there, er, would probably be a good twenty thousand words to go at this point, so they could still turn up.'
'Twenty thousand, you reckon?' Savana said. 'Well, what do you think will happen to us next then?'
'Well, I imagine that we will press Gally into a relationship with that Sharita girl,' Aidan said.
'Oh, she is nice,' Savana said.
'But she will turn out to be barren,' Aidan said, 'so Gally will hook up with one or more of his virtual girlfriends as well, you know, to-'
'Broaden the gene pool,' Savana interrupted. 'I bet that rule was thought up by a man.'
'That is not very fair,' Aidan protested.
'Says the man with a son by another woman,' Savana grumbled.
'That was your idea,' he reminded her.
'That is another story,' Savana said.
'Yes,' Aidan agreed. 'Countless as the Stars by Steve Trower. Available from stevetrower.co.uk.'
'What are you talking about?' Savana said.
'Sorry, that was not me,' Aidan insisted. 'It was the author, putting a piece of blatant self promotion into my mouth.'
'Should self promotion not be hyphenated?' Savana said.
'In all probability, self promotion should in fact be written with the use of a hyphen,' Aidan said.
'A simple yes would have done,' Savana said.
'In retrospect, I would anticipate that a simple affirmative would have provided the information after which you were inquiring,' Aidan said. 'However, it is my belief that the author is desperately trying to drag this segment out to a nice round one thousand words, and merely wished to ensure the best possible use of the phrase self promotion in the context of the written page.'
'Sorry what?' Savana said.
'I said,' Aidan replied, 'in retrospect, I wou-'
'Now you are just taking the mickey,' Savana interrupted.
'Fair point,' Aidan agreed. 'Is there anything else you would have liked to have done during the course of this nov- er, portion of our lives?'
'How long have we got?' Savana asked.
'About ten words,' Aidan said.
'Well then, no,' Savana said.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I should have been there earlier, but I struggled yesterday, suddenly ran out of plot and didn't have any idea where things were going. So today I sent my protag to the other side of the planet, abandoned him there and subjected him to the most horrible tortures known to, well, me.
That was probably a bit unnecessary in the grand scheme of things, but it has kept me writing and got me interested in the story again. Whether any of that makes it into the final cut (assuming I ever edit this rubbish) is doubtful, but that's not important right now.
What is important is that I need to keep going, or I will never make it. This tea break is now officially over.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
This week the CSFF Blog Tour is featuring Christian vampire novel Shade by John Olson, which of course means that Tuesday Tunes is featuring the Top Ten Vampire Songs, personally selected by an elite team of undead pop music fans.
10. Annie Lennox - Love Song for a Vampire
This is horrible, but I couldn't of many songs with vampire in the title. In by default, really.
9. The Libertines - Don't Look Back Into the Sun
This is the first track on the album Rules for Indie Rock Vampires. Isn't it? Well, it should be.
8. The Kinks - Little Miss Queen of Darkness
Nothing to do with vampires, but a nice little Kinks tune from the 60s.
7. Kristin Hersh - Teeth
This is from Kristin's first solo album after leaving the Throwing Muses. It has a swear word in it, and lots of other words that don't really make any sense. You have been warned.
6. Moby - Live Forever
I mayve mentioned before that every top ten should have seven minutes of electronica. So here it is.
5. Arctic Monkeys - Perhaps Vampires is a Bit Strong But...
...I bet they look good on the dancefloor.
4. Living in a Box - Living in a Box
You're just jealous you didn't think of it.
3. Sultans of Ping FC - Teenage Vampire
I blogged the Sultans a while back. I couldn't get Teenage Vampire on mixwit, but everyone needs to hear Where's Me Jumper? so I put that on instead. So sue me.
2. Snow Patrol - How to be Dead
This should probably be the subtitle to Rules for Indie Rock Vampires, shouldn't it.
1. Evanescense - My Immortal
An obvious choice, not only because it's the best song on the list, but also because the pop-goth style of Evanescance is perfect for all things vampiric. And Amy Lee is my favourite rock chick, but that's another story.
Sci-fi song of the week
Is it possible to find a sci-fi related vampire song? Taking the view that vampires belong in realms of fantasy rather than science fiction? Well of course it is. To which end I give you...
Monday, November 17, 2008
We interrupt this NaNoBlogFest for an important announcement...
CSFF Blog Tour
Todd Michael Greene
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Mirtika or Mir's Here
Now, I'm all for characters developing of their own accord during the writing process. It makes the whole experience that bit more interesting if the writer loses a bit of control. But when writing an Old Testament Space Opera, however loosely you base it on the original text, there are certain things you don't want happening, certain aspects of the source material you want to keep.
For instance, when basing a plot thread on the sibling rivalry of Jacob & Esau, you don't want the two characters suddenly turning out to be the wrong brothers. That just makes a total mess of the whole of history...
However, if I can keep my wordcount goal for today, I might keep going anyway and sort it out later.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
And today, thanks in no small part to the Kamikaze mode on Write or Die, my word count is almost back in the realms of respectability. I may also have copied and pasted a few paras from BibleGateway, because I am writing an Old Testament Space Opera, after all.
It is, of course, nothing like I had planned, extremely predictable, and basically a bit rubbish, but I've got past caring. I have worked out that I can write a fairly decent 7-800 words in an evening after Her Babyship leaves me alone. If I can keep that up after NaNo, I should have a first draft of Project Seven knocked up by spring!
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
OK, none of that matters. In November, more than any other time, I have permission to write crap. In fact, it's practically expected, and that's why I didn't want to take on Project Seven. I am literally sketching out an expanded outline at the moment, nothing more. But I have at least got my characters into space now, ready to explore their first new planet.
My main problem is time. With the day job, a demanding 3-year-old, and the house to keep in order, I am only managing about an hour of decent writing time per writing day. Out of which I am getting about 750 words. (Out of which about 50 are worth keeping, I suspect.)
But if I can come out of this month with a habit of writing 750 words of fiction most days - or at least just spending that hour on it - I will have achieved something.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Saturday, November 01, 2008
And hopefully the widget over there will update too.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Anyway, the matter in hand: the eleventh Doctor. There probably isn't an actor alive who hasn't been suggested for the role somewhere on the interweb, but why not join in, eh?
It's hard to pick someone who hasn't been in it recently: Anthony Giles Head or that bloke out of Hustle might be fun. Or for that matter, James Marsters does a decent cockney voice, and he was only in Torchwood, which doesn't count. Actually I don't think being in a previous ep should preclude anyone, although I think recasting a previous Master as the Doctor probably stretches that a bit. Which is a shame, because John Simm (did I mention I met him once?) would otherwise be perfect. (Although, imagine him looking in the mirror the first time after regenerating.... 'What? What!? WHAAAAT!!!!?' and then meeting Martha Jones again....)
Or, or: Philip Glenister! 'You great... soft... sissy... girlie... nancy... French... Man United supporting CYBERPOOF!!'
For laughs: Bill Bailey. For deadpan laughs: Jack Dee.
Now I'm not sure if it's possible for a Time Lord to become a Time Lady. I don't know enough about Time Lord physiology, never mind the social and relational difficulties that might ensue (although, with Russel T Davies also going, there is a possibility that any female Doctor may not still fancy Rose Tyler). But if there was a female Doc, it would simply have to be Billie. Dr 10's still unrequited love (insert technobabble here) makes him subconsciously turn himself into the dead spit of Rose.
No, I'm still into the Bill Bailey idea.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
10. Diana Ross & the Supremes - Reflections
I probably would have gone for the Four Tops' version in preference, but this was on mixwit.
9. Velvet Underground - I'll be Your Mirror
Taken from the album with the banana on the sleeve.
8. Human League - Mirror Man
Ah, the New Romantics....
7. Michael Jackson - Man in the Mirror
Now I don't normally watch The X Factor once all the weirdos have been laughed out of the auditions, but I did like this song the other night. So that's my British telly reference for the tour covered...
6. UB40 - Looking Down at My Reflection
And here are my white Brummies doing reggae.
5. The Kinks - Mirror of Love
Not vintage Ray, from the Rock Opera Preservation.
4. Hawkwind - Mirror of Illusion
There's always a spot for Hawkwind in my Top Tens.
3. Enigma - The Screen Behind the Mirror
They never quite matched the boogying monk madness of their debut CD, but I like 'em.
2. Duran Duran - The Reflex
Ok, so I got a bit stuck.
1. Petra - Magic Mirror
Not only the perfect song for the book, but by my favourite Christian rock band! Hooray! Sadly, not available for the mixtape. Booo!
So here is this week's mixtape for your listening pleasure while you wait for your copy of Beyond the Reflection's Edge...
Monday, October 20, 2008
At this point I could write a witty little introduction to the book, but Steve Rice already did that.
I could review it, but there are already good reviews here and here. Plus, I haven't read it, which I am led to believe is a prerequisite for a fair and unbiased review.
I could have interviewed the author, but Shane Deal did that already. I suppose I could have interviewed Shane, but that would just be silly.
I could direct you to the least read blog on the web, where there are some interesting character analysiseses, but I wouldn't like to cause a blogger to change his title. So if you read it, you didn't here it from me, ok?
Or, I could direct you to the rest of the tour, where more bloggers will be posting their thoughts on the book. Like this:
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Todd Michael Greene
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Mirtika or Mir's Here
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I ruled Project Seven out, I want to figure out the extra character first, and because it's the story I really want to write, I want to give it proper time and attention.
I do have some (though I say it myself) brilliantly funny ideas, but the reason my writing floundered somewhat when I was younger is that I was trying to be Douglas Adams, and just couldn't be consistently funny for a sufficient wordcount, so comic is off the menu too. I'm keeping the ideas, because some of them are good; some lend themselves obviously to sketches, others I may keep for short stories, or have a comic novel ticking along for when I get bored of the seriousness of Project Seven.
So I will be digging out the notes on the sequel to Countless as the Stars, and working on that during November. My current problem with that is that I don't have a title, but hopefully one will present itself during the writing process.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
The rules are simple:
- Choose a singer/band/group
- Answer the questions using ONLY titles of songs by that singer/band/group
- Are you male or female? Hymn
- Describe yourself: A Smart Kid; Prodigal
- What do people feel when they’re around you? Normal
- How would you describe your previous relationship? Futile; Shesmovedon
- Describe your current relationship: This Is No Rehearsal
- Where would you want to be now? The Nostalgia Factory
- How do you feel about love? The Start of Something Beautiful
- What’s your life like? Stranger by the Minute
- What would you ask for if you had only one wish? Towel
- Say something wise: The Creator Has a Mastertape
- What do you want to do/be in the future? Arriving Somewhere But Not Here
- Describe your home life: The Sound of No-one Listening
- What would your last words be? Last Chance to Evacuate Planet Earth Before it is Recycled
- Describe your car: Rainy Taxi
- Describe your style: Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscape
That was a reasonably entertaining waste of a few minutes, and also good practice if I do opt for the comic NaNo; one of my semi-formed characters talks entirely in song titles (or possibly lyrics, I'm not entirely clear how it works yet...). I wanted to call her Julie Finkle, but annoyingly the song is called The Ballad of Julie Finkle. Still, there must be plenty of alternatives.
Traditionally I'm supposed to tag people at this point, but I'm not sure who visits any more, so I'll just leave an open invitation to anyone who passes by. If you try it, pop back and let me know, ok?
Sci-fi Song of the Week
Might as well stick with the Porcupines, eh? I couldn't find my first choice, Jupiter Island, so instead added to the mixtape this week is Last Chance to Evacuate Planet Earth Before It Is Recycled. Which, like a lot of Porcupine Tree songs, wouldn't sound too out of place in a comic fantasy plot...
Friday, October 03, 2008
1. Her Babyship will turn 3 any minute now (Eeek!)
2. NaNoWriMo is almost upon us... (eeeeek!)
Her Babyship has been (fairly or otherwise) blamed for my previous NaNo expeditions getting derailed, but nonetheless I am contemplating entering the fray again this year...
The main reason for this is that the often mentioned, never described Project Seven has been slowly developing in my mind over the last 12 months, and with the exception of an extra character I want to include but haven't quite worked out how, is all done bar the writing.
This is the story I really want to write at the moment, but the flipside of that is that I'm not sure rushing out a 50k first draft is what I want for it.
I've been looking at my various unstarted ideas and works-in-progress for something I care slightly less about to get me in the novel-writing flow again instead, and the main thing that jumps out at me as having sufficient prep to see out the month is the sequel to Countless as the Stars, which I told myself I wouldn't write until Countless had built up the cult following to make it worthwhile.
The third option remains the comic fantasy route, which appeals because I won't feel obliged to make any sense, and it will be fun enough for me to want to keep going. Pretty persuasive arguments actually, now I come to write them down.
Anyway, which of my writerly buds out there are facing the challenge next month?
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
- A sort of cyberpunk allegory (if cyberpunk isn't too 1990s for the Christian market) - like a Christian novel version of Tron or The Matrix.
- An epic time travel story, reaching from the 21st Century to Christ's life on Earth, and rescuing Him from crucifixion...
- A futuristic Jekyll and Hyde, where our hero meets his Doppelganger - a man with the same character flaws and weaknesses, but instead of choosing to resist the temptations they led to, chose the easy route and embraced his dark side. What happens when the two meet?
- An urban fantasy in which our protagonist encounters a man with the ability to remove the darkness of his past. Presumably this man would, effectively, have lived through the darkest chapters of our hero's life, and be left with the emotional baggage that followed. In taking on the ills of the world, is he a kind of Christ-figure, or is he just removing the negative so that the positive results also disappear? For in deleting that one mistake, that one bad decision, our hero loses all the good that cam from it: all that he learnt, the ways he became a stronger person, the people he helped when they found themselves in the same situation.
- A near future dystopian Earth, where the cult of celebrity and an increasingly hedonistic populace bestows power and influence on porn stars, and a lonely Christian voice rails against an increasingly powerful adult industry.
- A classic science fiction tale, based on the raw and gritty stuff in the Old Testament, putting them in a sci-fi setting so the essential truths can be more easily grasped by a sci-fi reader. Sort of an Old Testament Space Opera, if you will...
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
This week your favourite Blog Tour and mine will be rolling round to Jeff Gerke's place, Marcher Lord Press. We've visited him before, way back when, to see his other place, Where The Map Ends. But now, all the excitement is at MLP which is about to launch its first books on October 1st.
So what can we expect on this great and hopefully enlightening day?
Well, there's Hero, Second Class, which at a (admittedly brief) glance at the first chapter, would appear to be a comic fantasy of sorts. Not normally my thing, with the notable exception of good Pratchett. Maybe I'll come back to the sample chapter later.
Then there's Summa Elvetica, about a sort of Catholic Church-esque establishment in a classical elf and troll infested fantasy world. Those sort of worlds make my head hurt.
Oh dear. I'd have to say I'm a little bit disappointed there then. But - let's look on the bright side here - just because there's nothing I would rush straight out and order on the launch list, that doesn't mean I'm going to stop watching MLP. I like the spread of sub-genres on the launch list (which is obviously the idea!) and it gives me cause to think that there will probably be something for me coming soon.
Weird Christian fiction. We love it. And so to these bloggers:
Brandon Barr Justin Boyer Keanan Brand Kathy Brasby Jackie Castle Valerie Comer Karri Compton Courtney CSFF Blog Tour Stacey Dale D. G. D. Davidson Janey DeMeo Jeff Draper April Erwin Karina Fabian Kameron M. Franklin Andrea Graham Todd Michael Greene Katie Hart Timothy Hicks Joleen Howell Jason Joyner Kait Tina Kulesa Mike Lynch Terri Main Margaret Shannon McNear Rebecca LuElla Miller Nissa John W. Otte Steve Rice Ashley Rutherford Hanna Sandvig Mirtika or Mir's Here Greg Slade James Somers Steve Trower Speculative Faith Jason Waguespac Laura Williams Timothy Wise
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
With that done, this week I would like to recommend Reasons to be Cheerful, double CD of highlights from the career of urban poet Ian Dury. I dare say there’s nothing here that diehard fans won’t already have at least once, but I’m not a diehard fan. I was merely aware of some glaring ommisions in my music collection – primarily Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick and (of course) Reasons To Be Cheerful – and this collection was a handy and inexpensive way to fill those gaps and acquaint myself with the rest of Mr Dury’s work.
So apart from those big hits I mentioned, essential tracks include What a Waste, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, Clever Trevor, and the theme song from the 80s TV show of Adrian Mole. And for your money you also get a few tracks from Dury’s early career with Kilburn & the High Roads, plus a couple recorded as the Music Students and a whole lot more.
Including the track There Ain’t Half Been Some Clever Bastards, which sprung to mind as I wrote my previous post as it contains the lines:
Einstein can't be classed as witless;
He claimed atoms were the littlest.
When you did a bit of splitting-em-ness
Frighten everybody shitless.
There ain't half been some clever bastards.
Probably got help from their mum (who had help from her mum).
If you can live with the swear words (and there's one track on the album I always skip because of them), for five of your Earth Pounds this is well worth investing in if you don't already have the well known Dury songs on your iPod.
There ain’t half been some clever bastards. Ian Dury was undoubtedly one of them.
Sci-fi Song of the Week
Yes, there is a sci-fi related Ian Dury song; and no, it doesn't have any rude bits in it. It hasn't made it onto the mixtape yet, but hopefully I'll sort that out soon. In the meantime, track down, if you can, Superman's Big Sister by Ian Dury & The Blockheads.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
In the near future the Big Bang machine will try to recreate the moment after the creation of the universe, and hence discover exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here. Presumably that means they will create a whole new universe (or something even more bizarrely inexplicable) somewhere under the Alps.
Part of that, apparently, involves finding the hypothetical Higgs bosun, the particle responsible for supervising other particles of the universe’s deck crew. If we’re really lucky, they won’t find it, and having proven the non-existence of God-particles will have to recalibrate the whole of particle physics.
If we’re really really lucky, in between discovering the nature of dark matter, and opening the gate to parallel universes, they will also discover all manner of higher dimensions, such as those in which angels and demons operate. Imagine having to rewrite the whole of physics to take into account the fact that you just proved the existence of God.
So, potentially lots of exciting ground for us sci-fi writers to tread there, provided, of course the men in white coats don’t make too many startling discoveries too soon…
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
And so I remained largely oblivious to the existence of QueenAdreena until quite recently.
Which is a shame, because from the speaker-ruining opening chords of Love Your Money, up until KatieJane Garside left and they became a bit pants, I was completely hooked on Daisy Chainsaw.
So as soon as I discovered that KJ had hooked up with Chainsaw axeman Crispin Gray again and formed QueenAdreena, I had to check them out. And their debut album from way back in 2000, Taxidermy, did not disappoint. In fact, once I get it in my head that I need to listen to some demented goth punk, it tends to stay on my CD player for days. It's that good.
Most of the tracks are more melodic than Daisy Chainsaw - almost as if KatieJane learnt to sing in the intervening years ;) - but still the vocals goes from innocent and girly to mad shouty harridan from one track to the next. There seems to be a lot more variety to the material, too; Eleventeen kind of blended into one big loud noise (yeah, and me, a fan!) at times, but on Taxidermy, all the songs are different.
So, stand out tracks? Well, most of the CD is pretty darn good, but opener Cold Fish (if only for the line 'splish, splish, splish'. Genius!); Yesterday's Hymn at the mellow end of the spectrum; and Friday's Child for a good old fashioned punk rock thrash.
In the meantime, if you haven't heard Love Your Money, go and listen to it. Truly a classic of our time; even QueenAdreena don't make 'em like that any more.
Monday, September 08, 2008
Well, I could go with the Christian fundamentalists, corrupted by power, as we saw in Broken Angel on the blog tour. But I think I would rather go the other way: religion repressed, the State becoming an all-powerful, self-serving ultra-secular organisation. Technology, consumerism or any number of worldly 'gods' could easily take the place of God, depending on the upheaval that led to the shift in power and the decline of religion.
The religiously-inclined (assuming, for the sake of a story, that some small numbers still exist) would quickly find themselves an under-class, abused, imprisoned, or hiding out in secret churches. (You see, even now, it’s hard to conceive these things without thinking ‘holocaust’.)
I think we would all agree that outlawing sex in an Orwellian way would render any story too far beyond belief for any useful purpose. I think the approach of Southland Tales – the cult of celebrity bestowing power and influence on a former porn star – is a more realistic extrapolation from 2008, so I would probably explore that more. I like the idea of a lonely voice railing against an increasingly powerful porn industry.
Yes, I think I may have just added something to my WIPlist...
Friday, September 05, 2008
Thursday, September 04, 2008
And, thanks to the marvels of digital photography, I took rather a lot of photos, only a select few of which I will bore the internet with in the near future...
Windswept coast at Sandyhills
Dead tree near Threave Castle
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
By most definitions, dystopian fiction has been around about as long as science fiction; certainly there are elements of dystopia in HG Wells’ world of Morlocks and Eloi. The grandaddy of dystopia will probably always be recognised as Nineteen Eighty-Four, but several common dystopian themes – genetic engineering, indoctrination, the loss of individuality, and the World State – appeared in Brave New World some years earlier.
Dystopia come in two basic flavours: corrupted pseudo-utopia; and downright nasty-and-proud-of-it totalitarian regime. Both types, and their many variations, typically share a number of traits.
1. The police state - World State, The Party, or whatever you want to call it. A more recent alternative (Snow Crash) is to have global corporations rather than governments in control.
2. A class system gone mad. The powerful get ever more powerful and corrupt, everyone else gets an increasingly raw deal. Genetic engineering often plays some role in this.
3. Sex. Sex is either banned (Nineteen Eighty-Four) or removed from the act of procreation and encouraged as recreation from childhood (Brave New World). The theory is that strong emotional bonds distract from loyalty to the State.
4. Religion – or specifically, lack thereof, because it also diminishes loyalty to the Party.
5. Global upheaval. Somewhere in the back story of your dystopia there lurks some war, revolution or ecological or other disaster which somehow facilitated the shift in power.
The thing about dystopian fiction is that it seems increasingly close to reality. Some time in the late 20th century the western world became Orwellian enough to necessitate the word ‘Orwellian’. Big Brother – even before being hijacked by Endemol – became a universally recognised term for the ‘surveillance society’ we now live in.
A case in point: I mentioned in passing last week that I have an unstarted story idea – more of a setting I suppose – based on the idea of an election in a totalitarian state. The idea had been on my notepad for some years before events in Zimbabwe this year rendered the whole idea factual.
Well that's a few thoughts on dystopia then. Next time I'll try and wrangle with fitting Christianity into a dystopian story.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Well, no more bets, the results are in, and here they come... the Top Ten Dystopia-related tunes:
10. Arcadia - Election Day
The lyrics read like they were translated from the Mandarin on the cheap, so they may or may not be related to a dystopia. Election Day is, however, the title of my unstarted dystopian work in progress.
9. The Police - Every Breath You Take
These lyrics definitely aren't dystopia-related, but there is something decidedly Big Brother about The Police watching every move you make.
8. Blur - The Universal
The video riffs on A Clockwork Orange, and the song tells of satellites in every home...
7. Radiohead - Karma Police
Taken from the dystopia themed album OK Computer, this sounds like a spiritual fiction variant on the Thought Police.
6. Iron Maiden - Brave New World
Named after some book, apparently.
5. Gary Numan & Tubeway Army - Down in the Park
From the album Replicas, a sort of soundtrack to a dystopian novel Numan never wrote, this is a particularly dark little number.
4. David Bowie - 1984
Late glam-era Bowie, the album Diamond Dogs included anumber of songs from an aborted glam-rock musical adaption of 1984.
3. Nine Inch Nails - Survivalism
From yet another dystopian concept album, Year Zero.
2. Eurythmics - Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty-Four)
This, however, is from the actual movie soundtrack of the 1984 movie, er, Nineteen Eighty-Four.
1. Zafer & Evans - In the Year 2525 (Exordium & Terminus)
Sixties one hit wonders tell a depressing tale of the future.
Here's the mixtape, give it a listen, and then order up Broken Angel while you're in a suitably dystopian mood.
Sci-fi Song of the Week
Well, really I could have picked any one of those dystopia tunes, but, well, here's one more for luck. Since we already had one Radiohead track in te Top Ten, I had to leave out 2+2=5, which again takes its title from the ultimate dystopia, 1984.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Anyway, the subject which so intrigued me is that of a Christian dystopia, which by any reasonable definition should be an oxymoron. Publishers Weekly describes Broken Angel by Sigmund Brouwer like this:
In this addictively readable futuristic Christian dystopia, Brouwer takes readers inside a state run by literalistic, controlling fundamentalists. There, reading is a serious crime; citizens are drugged into submission; and those who break rules are either sent to slave labor factories or stoned to death. Occasionally, a few brave souls try to escape to 'Outside.'Which, at first reading, sounds a bit Logan's Run and a bit Farenheit 451, but I guess the police state being based on a severely distorted form of fundamentalist Christianity, and suppressing the real Truth, might give it a distinct twist, especially written from a Christian viewpoint.
As it follows on from the last couple of films I reviewed here as well as fitting in with this tour, I plan to wax lyrical on the subject of dystopia later in the week. Unless I didn't get around to it last week, in which case I'll do it later. I hope you'll come back and read what I have to say about it anyway.
As I wrote this, there was no official list of participants, so once you've visited the author's site, coolreading.com, and ordered Broken Angel from amazon, why not drop by the CSFF Blog Tour page and see who else is touring this month?
Friday, August 22, 2008
A Scanner Darkly is nothing like Blade Runner. For one thing the rotoscoped animation gives the film a uniquely twisted look, which allows for surreal moments befitting the subject matter; for another, it’s a far more personal dystopia, one where America has lost the war on drugs and the obligatory police state is dedicated to tracking down those behind Substance D. More importantly, Scanner is apparently more faithful to the novel than some film adaptations, as befits what was, a semi-autobiographical story. (I can’t comment directly on this myself, because it is an unwritten rule that I cannot watch a PKD adaptation if I’ve read the book, and vice versa.)
Although it starts out sounding like just another stoner movie - the comedic antics of three strung out housemates, one of whom is completely failing to have sex with his girlfriend – it soon develops into a serious look at the effects of addiction, notably on Bob Arctor, an undercover agent who got hooked on Substance D while trying to infitrate the supply chain, and his understandably paranoid flatmates.
Paranoia is followed by schizophrenia and ultimately extreme withdrawal - and then the plot starts getting really twisty.
This is definitely one to watch, although it’s been around a while, so if you haven’t already, you really should. Unless, that is, you really don’t like films with a smattering of sex and a lot of naughty words. And all the drugs, of course. Or if you don’t like films with humour, sadness, philosophy, great visuals, and commentary on the issues facing the world today.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Cup and Table by Tim Pratt was one such story. It caught my attention primarily for being a Holy Grail story, and turned out to be just such a genre-straddling stories – it has a dash of time travel, and with the addition of some spandex it could have been a superhero story – but at heart it’s the sort of urban fantasy that Joss Whedon made me a fan of all those years ago.
I liked the world, I liked the anti-heroes of the Table, and I think I liked what it said about God. But what sticks in my mind, apart from the ending, is the character of Carlsbad. Here is an entity made up of the collective evil of mankind. I’ve no idea how original that concept is in fantasy literature, and I don’t really care. It appeals to me. It appeals to me as an obvious parallel to so many things in the real world, like the porn industry, an entity whose existence depends on the collective lust of mankind. Same goes for drugs, weapons… ours is a world stalked by Carlsbad and many others like him. I guess that’s another idea to add to the story stew constantly bubbling away in my head…
Anyway: Cup and Table. If you’re prepared to accept that it’s a story entirely about bad guys, and has a bit of swearing in it, it’s definitely worth a listen. And, Tim, if you're reading, I could definitely stand to hear more from this world. ;)
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
There isn't a level on which this song fails to work for me:
Kinks fan - check
Star Wars fan - check
Weird sense of humour - check
Special affinity for Yoda - check and mate.
So if you can check two or more of the above (and let's face it, if you can't you're in the wrong place), I'm sure you'll enjoy Yoda by Weird Al Yankovic.
Incidentally, the Kinks song from which the tune is borrowed, Lola, gave me the name for my last Mini.
Friday, August 01, 2008
There's a mix of sci-fi, writing and the Bible in there - it's like a podcasty microcosm of this blog, or at least, what I originally intended this blog to look like. Ho hum.
I recommend all of them, if you have the time. If you haven't got the time, just do Escape Pod and the DAB.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Agent Scully believes there is a rational explanation for everything.
Even a Mini in a ginger wig.
The future they are fighting is, of course, the sinister Millenium Mini...
More pictures from the Christian Mini Owners Club going a bit X-Files mad back in '98 here.
And if anyone has a Mini and fancies doing a sequel this September, well, Yoda and I will be up for it!
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
So I figured I would dig out the album from the last time round. Not the film score, 'The X-Files: The Album', which apparently features music inspired by the first X-Files film.
It's a mix of big names (The Cure, Foo Fighters, Noel Gallagher, Sting) and slightly more obscure artists (Soul Coughing, anyone?).
The European release opens with a variation on the X-Files main theme in the style of Tubular Bells, which actually makes more sense when you hear it, and closes with The Dust Brothers rendition, both of which I think are pretty cool in their own ways.
In between you get a selection of post-grunge rock tracks (although the Foos are in melancholy mode for Walking After You), pretty typical Bjork fare in Hunter, and the slightly more ethereal vocals of Sarah McLachlan's Black. Noel Gallagher's contribution is an (overlong) instrumental piece, so thankfully no annoying Mancunian whining. (Yes, I was definitely a Blur person.) More Than This is not The Cure at their most depressing, but it's no Friday I'm in Love.
Only a couple of the songs appear briefly in the film or over the end credits, but there's actually not much that brings the X-Files directly to mind, except possibly Filter's One, and One More Murder by Better Than Ezra. But it's a nice selection of tracks, with some great artists who lurk on the fringes of my music collection - The Cure and Foo Fighters in particular are sadly underrepresented in my CD cabinet. The only track I would skip is Sting doing Invisible Sun with Aswad. I don't need Sting in my life, I'm afraid.
Oh yes, and there's a subtle hint on the cover: 'Hear the truth revealed at 10:13' which points you to a bonus track revealing some of the mythology behind the movie.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Most of the tour blogs on the list I posted on Monday (c'mon, you can scroll that far!) have posted something by now; for a more complete list of who's done what and how, check out Becky or Nissa's handy lists.
My recommended stops are Jason Joyner, who discusses the appropriateness (or otherwise) of dragons in Christian literature; Steve Rice, who starts with a humourous review and then goes off debating the appropriateness (or otherwise) of telepathy in Christian literature (that's a subject I may revisit, unfortunately I haven't had time to chip in on the debate yet); and Snuffles the Dragon, just to get the Dragon's eye view of things.
And when you're finished there, the author also has a blog, if you haven't read enough blogs about dragons.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
6. Sugarcubes - Dragon
A mythical track which may or may not exist on some versions of their album Life's Too Good.
5. Queen - Dragon Attack
Apparently created during a drunken jam session. Had to put up with a cover on the mixtape, sorry.
4. Soup Dragons - Whole Wide World
The only indie rock band named after a character from The Clangers, which was of course a favourite show of The Master.
3. The Prodigy - Firestarter
Well they do. And that crazy dancing in the video was scary like a dragon.
2. Fountains of Wayne - Red Dragon Tattoo
What can I say? These guys keep making cool music with spec-fic relevant titles.
1. Tori Amos - Puff (The Magic Dragon)
Treading the thin line between sublime and ridiculous...
Not all of the tracks are available online, but here are those that are, in handy mixtape form:
Monday, July 21, 2008
Staggeringly, Tour guru Becky Miller insists that this humble blog is one of five current Tour stops to feature way back then. Crikey.
Even more staggeringly, I reckon I've only dropped two or three tours in the intervening time, despite having no idea what was going on most of the time. A fact which is evidenced by my overview of DragonKnight, which sort of set the tone for all subsequent Tour posts...
But this isn't about me. It's not really about the CSFF Blog Tour. It's not even about retro computing. It is, in fact, about Donita K Paul, and the exciting climax to the DragonKeeper Chronicles, DragonLight (which is not a slimmed down, low-spec 8-bit computer, which is a shame, because I could probably write something relevant if that were the case).
Never mind though, it's Tuesday tomorrow... ;)
Also tapping away on their rubber keys* this week:
Brandon Barr Justin Boyer Jackie Castle Valerie Comer Karri Compton CSFF Blog Tour Gene Curtis Stacey Dale D. G. D. Davidson Jeff Draper April Erwin Karina Fabian Beth Goddard Mark Goodyear Andrea Graham Todd Michael Greene Katie Hart Christopher Hopper Joleen Howell Jason Joyner Carol Keen Magma Terri Main Magma Margaret Shannon McNear Melissa Meeks Rebecca LuElla Miller John W. Otte Deena Peterson Steve Rice Cheryl Russel Ashley Rutherford Chawna Schroeder James Somers Robert Treskillard Speculative Faith Laura Williams
*another waaay off target retro computing reference.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
None more bizarre than this one, I suspect.
Of course, it could all be a really elaborate marketing ploy.
All of which serves little purpose other than to introduce the latest Sci-fi Song of the Week, a slab of early-70s psychadelic rock by Jefferson Airplane. Check it out on the mixtape.
Monday, July 14, 2008
I don't expect the 'established' church has an official view on extra-terrestrial life, although I can well imagine the lengthy and controversial debates over whether Venusians should be allowed to become priests...
However, as respected a Christian scholar as Charles Haddon Spurgeon at least appeared to accept the possibility, and the Vatican's Chief Astronomer Father Gabriel Funes said recently:
On the other hand, when you have a director of SETI quoted (in Wired) as saying that ET is inconsistent with the existence of God, well, I wonder exactly where she's coming from. Presumably (and I apologise if she reads this and I've done her a total disservice!) a scientific worldview which holds that religion is bunkum and any alien life form we encounter will tell us how they out-evolved religious beliefs eons ago.
...there could be other beings, also intelligent, created by God. This does
not contrast with our faith because we cannot put limits on the creative freedom
of God. To say it with Saint Francis, if we consider earthly creatures as
“brother” and “sister,” why cannot we also speak of an “extraterrestrial
Personally I would approach first contact fully aware of the very real possibility of meeting the Martian Richard Dawkins.
Some would say that, given the huge number of variables which have to be just right in order for any life, never mind intelligent life, to exist, life on other planets is extremely unlikely. I wonder what the odds are of those variables falling into place just once in an infinite universe?
And besides, creative sci-fi writers have come up with intelligent races from all kinds of wierd and inhospitable worlds, so surely God just needs to settle down with some good sf, knock up a plastecine impression of the wierdest alien, and hey presto, we've got life on other planets.