Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Roller Trainers.

A boy was badly injured his morning because he shot in front of a car on his wheeled trainers. Questions are being asked. A&E doctors talk of the injuries kids receive whilst using these things: busted bones and cuts and grazes. Health and Safety commissars demand that children wear protective gear and, of course, there is talk of a ban.

Hang on.

Now, as mentioned here in the comments, must parents bubble-wrap their children? Which would they prefer, an active child who risks a busted elbow and the remote possibility of death, or the fat slob slouched in front of his X-Box who’ll need his jaw wired shut or stomach stapled and risks snuffing it from a heart attack before he’s thirty?

Also, if you bubble-wrap your children they’ll never learn to handle the real world, you know, the one where hammers are made out of steel and not rubber, where knives cut, concrete is not layered with foam rubber, cars smash your bones if you step in front of them and where sticking your hand into the wrong part of the machine on the factory floor results in your arm disappearing into the cogs. Yeah, there’s the compensation claims, but they ain’t going to sew your arm back on.

Warm January.

On Monday when I walked outside to get on my bike, it was like a spring morning. Today, despite the frost outside, the temperature is set to rise to 14 degrees Celsius, which is almost T-shirt weather. As well as snow drops blooming, other later flowers like daffodils are coming up. Farmers are happy with the prices for their crops rising by a third - mainly because of their use in biofuels - and with the fact that their animals have been able to graze throughout the winter because the grass hasn't stopped growing. Whilst the enviro-we-all-need-to-be-poor-and-grow-cabbages-greenies march down the street with their The End is Nigh placards, everyone else turns down the central heating and enjoys the benefits.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Gridlinked the Movie.

Here's something our very own Cameron put together:


Cameron Dadd is an eighteen-year-old freelance graphic designer who lives in the most isolated city on our planet. He does have a small collection, but it's as yet unavailable online, however, there's Leviathan here: http://sharpendofreason.deviantart.com/ which, inspired by Cameron's work, was created by a good friend of his called Carlo - looks like something Dragon put together!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Car Tax.

Apparently there’s a million cars on Britain’s roads without road tax discs, which usually means they are without insurance or MOTs. Some puzzlement is expressed about this, especially when the penalty for getting caught is to have you car taken to the crusher.

It’s the fucking economy stupid!

You can buy a car that runs, for less than £250. That’s about the lower end of the price for just the insurance. Add onto that £40 for an MOT, excluding repairs that might need to be made, and over £100 road tax and … ah do the sums yourselves. Just remember that if someone drives such a car for more than a year they’ll certainly be in profit even if it is taken to the crusher.

Message to government (again): Are you surprised by this? You shouldn’t be, you made these people. You screw them for every last red cent and then go, “Oh dear, why are you breaking the law?” They’re breaking the law because they take one look at you and think, Why the hell shouldn’t I take the piss, you lot are.

African Genes.

Hah, I wonder how many of the people refered to here are members of the BNP: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070124072328.htm

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Dire Straits - Brothers in Arms

Fuckit! I've discovered music videos on You Tube. Um, might not be much writing done for a little while.

Arthur Clarke Cybercast Hal's Birthday

Here's an excellent piece of computer history.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Cormac the Miniseries -- I wish.

Paul Swan’s post reminded me: Some years ago great excitement ensued when Tor US received a query from Blue Train Entertainment about the film rights to Gridlinked. This excitement increased when, after a bit of research, I found out that they had been involved in producing the Jackie Chan movie The Tuxedo along with a couple of other production companies including Dreamworks. Nothing came of this, however.

Frankly, I would love one of my books to be bought by Hollywood, especially if that involved me trousering some silly money. It would also raise my profile and probably lead to more book sales. However, I think it was Terry Pratchett who said that such a sale virtually guarantees the book won’t be seen on the screen. Many thousands have been bought, but how many get turned into a films? Usually all we see are remakes of 60s SF series, something new where when a book is written it’s usually after the film, or stuff produced filmed from books by authors who have made the transition to sainthood and ‘literature’ by shuffling off their mortal coil.

The big problem with this book to film thing is, of course, that books are big. They’ve got a lot of stuff in them and large amounts of it get sacrificed so the rest can be packed into two hours of screen time. Also, a lot of the concepts put across in the narrative of a book are difficult to translate to the screen, especially in that limited time. Really, film directors are better off taking up a short story and running with that. We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, anyone? When a book is turned into a film it can succeed artistically (though not necessarily financially – like Dune), but it often isn’t the same beast any more.

Much better, I think, when a book is taken on by a TV production company. First it stands a lot better chance of getting filmed, and if made into a series there’s room for the book to sprawl itself out (Hence the excellent Dune & Children of Dune mini-series’ being true to their source). So this is why I’d like to see the Cormac books made into a series of five seasons with about twelve episodes each. Not too much to ask is it? Anyone out there buying?

(Snort!)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Battlestar Galactica

Well, I managed to sit through the first episode of series 3 of Battlestar Galactica, but only managed to get three-quarters of the way through the second episode before I started to lose the will to live. This seems to be a series that is now rapidly disappearing up its own fundament. Maybe it’s because of those in the cast and those producing it make the claim that it ‘isn’t really that science fiction nonesense’.

This new production of Battlestar Galactica was originally successful because it produced SF with a sufficient injection of reality, but now it seems the producers and actors have started to take themselves far too seriously. I can see the meetings held before they got to work. “We need more of that stuff that made the series successful, let’s do more issues, more relationships. Let’s try and cut down on the exploding spaceships and robots.” “Yeah, great idea! How about we get topical and do stuff about an occupation, more about religion, maybe some obesity too?” “Damned right. We want people to keep taking this seriously, so we have to cut down on that squids in space nonesense…”

I guess we can look forward to future episodes of BSG covering annorexia, homosexuality, racism, the death penalty etc etc. Yup, get it more mainstream. The daft thing is that mainstream doesn’t have to lack action, fun, enjoyment – just take a look at 24. It seems with BSG they’ve gone the route so many writers in the SF world venture along, when they make the assumption that boring = literature. It’s sad, but then I half expected a fuck-up when the franchise got extended.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Parasite.

As Mark Croucher has pointed out, there's a copy of The Parasite out on eBay at the moment (there were two, but he snaffled the other one). It's disappointingly cheap, but go get it while it's hot!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Flames Of Herakleitos

Well, it seems a regular visitor here is climbing that rickety ladder into the publishing world. Congratulations to Bob Lock for getting his book Flames Of Herakleitos published by Screaming Dreams.

Here’s the blurb:

It’s 1969 and a four year old girl witnesses the terrifying death of her father, which is attributed to Spontaneous Human Combustion. The child is unable to explain what she saw, and shortly after the incident, whilst in hospital, almost suffers the same fate as her father when she is attacked by an unknown entity. But she survives.

Thirty years pass, Lucy Fenton, has grown up to be a writer of horror stories and is the star of their film versions. She is haunted by the morbid feeling that her long-ago attacker has not yet finished with her. It turns out she is correct when once again it visits her. This time, however, she manages to not only fight it off but to pursue it – to a parallel world where everything she has ever known is turned on its head.

Flames Of Herakleitos is a 'YouWriteOn.com Top Ten Book'
Due to be published in paperback by Screaming Dreams in 2007

Cover artwork by Steve Upham
(for advance preview only and subject to change)

Don't forget to check out the author's website.

Hair-shirt Environmentalists.

Charlie Stross has made a few pertinent observations about man-made global warming and the hair shirt environmental hysterics amongst us. His post is quite representative of what seems to be happening more and more across the Internet: people are getting sick of preachy environmentalists, they’re getting sick of the insanities of political correctness, they’re getting sick of the lies and spin of the lobby-ists and politicians. This attitude will take a while to reach snail-media like newspapers and television, and even longer to penetrate the thick skulls of the likes of Cameron and Blair, so don’t hold out too much hope of a swift return to sanity in public affairs.

All Skyped- up.

Y’know, the personal computer is a wonderful tool but, if you don’t exercise some self-control, it can also turn into an infinite sponge for sucking up time. I’ve had people ask me if I have ever played so-and-so on my computer – superb graphics and when you machinegun the orc its guts fall out. Well, yeah, I know so-and-so is an excellent game, which is precisely why I avoid it. Some years ago I sat down to write one morning and ended up playing patience all day. At the end of the day, in disgust, I deleted the program and have since never let another game near my computer. Others ask me if I’ve looked at You Tube, Google Earth, this website, that website, then it’s have you tried this program, that program, this bit of hardware, that bit of hardware?

My approach to the pc and its growing list of applications and peripherals is ‘I’ll use what I need and try to ignore the rest’. Though I write SF and take a great deal of interest in science and technology, I do, in the end, have to keep my focus tight. I write books. I’m not an IT manager, I’m not a programmer (well, I was once – different story) and every hour I spend watching You Tube, or trying to get a radio modem to work, or trying to write html is another hour I haven’t spent writing science fiction, which pays the bills.

So, by a rather roundabout route I come to why I started writing this. Summer Brooks of Dragon Page recently emailed me concerning an audio interview for ‘Cover to Cover’. I was interviewed on this program before, at about the time Cowl came out in America (podcast here), and said interview was conducted over the phone at international phone rates. This time round Summer asked me if I possessed a Skype ID. At that point I wouldn’t have recognised a Skype if it had bitten me on the bum. I therefore researched it on the Internet and discovered it to be a way to chat to someone – audibly – over a broadband connection. No extra cost there unless you use Skype to phone a landline, and you can chat to someone on other side of the world.

I’m all Skyped up now – an incredibly simple process involving a few minutes downloading and the purchase of a microphone (well, I’ve got a Madonna headset). This is another useful tool for me, and for the convenience of anyone who wants to interview me from anywhere in the world. See, every new additions for my computer has to be justified by its relation to my writing and earning a living.

Mmmm, in the shop where I got that headset I noticed some nice webcams…

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Line War.

Okay, enough of the ranting and back to some writerly stuff. I’ve been wracking my brains with Line War looking for a satisfactory conclusion. Every story, every novel, should, in my opinion adhere to the beginning>middle>end structure (the beginning, the middle, where tension escalates, the end or resolution phase, which consists of a climax which resolves the tension). This is not always an easy thing to do and, to be frank, I’m not entirely sure I’ve managed with every one of my books – probably because I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer who has never really planned any book nor stuck a post-it note anywhere near my screen. And things get even more difficult when, really, every series should adhere to this structure as well.

One of the things I’ve been working hard to avoid is that good old deus ex machina, which has been the downfall of a few space opera series in recent years. It is a difficult option to avoid because it’s such an easy option to take, especially if you’ve written yourself into a corner by making your villains too powerful (ulp!). I also think it’s a cop-out and betrayal of your readership. Now I’m beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel (though it may be a train) and I should be able to bring the Cormac series to an end without lowering Zeus onto the stage from the clouds.

Line War just cleared 60,000 words yesterday and I’ve realised I must keep myself utterly focused on it to achieve the above aims. Seven-day working week from now on.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Funny Commercials II

If you want a laugh after a tiring Christmas, here's some good ones. I particularly like the car, the John West and the final swimming trunks adverts.