Write. Right.

For a short time I am allowing myself to call myself a writer.*

As it is snowing, I am stuck indoors (Ich hasse Schnee) and I want to do something constructive. So, as I have decided that my hobby is writing and it is not something I do regularly enough, today is the day to start to plan something wonderful.

I started a book and, against everything that any writer has ever said to me, I’m not going to finish it. I don’t like it. I wouldn’t pick it up to read it myself. It is not the genre of writing I want to write. It can’t be amusing and it isn’t science fiction.

In short, it’s my bloody hobby and I will do what I want.

I have ideas for science fiction all the time and they need to be explored more. It is the genre I am drawn to more than anything. So, that’s what I am doing today. Exploring some more ideas and trying to shape them into a story or even a book.

Anyway, I am also motoring through Carter Beats the Devil.  Which is proving to be another excellent book.

*Disclaimer: This post is not a procrastination. I have already written today and started to plan the rest of the story.

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Flash Fiction: Science Fiction

The yellow, brown and green of her eyes blended into a sparkling hazel iris surrounding a perfect black set pupil. She stood on the edge of an aged grey brick bridge, one foot resting on a small wall which was the only barrier between her and the deep lake below. As she stood in the warm sun on this spring day, she took a creased and worn photograph out of her jeans pocket. The picture comprised a family portrait. A pretty, smiling mother pushing a small girl in a pram. The child’s eyes were closed as if asleep but she was laughing. A proud father, handsome in his work uniform, held a baby boy in his arms who was crying the natural tears of a hungry new-born. The young woman with the hazel eyes took the step up onto the short wall of the bridge and, as she did so, the photograph slipped from her hand into the water. Her eyes followed the path of the photograph as it landed and was washed away under the bridge. She turned her head up to the sky and felt the sun on her face.

Hazel Day, so called because of the colour of her eyes, was born without any optical implements at all, no eyeballs, no optical nerve, not even a connection to the brain. Everything else about Hazel was perfect. She was in the top percent of her university classes, she enjoyed sport and found playing the flute soothing. Hazel was not alone with this disability.

No one could not work out what was happening when children all over the world, from families of all ethnicities and backgrounds were born without eyes. At first, it was thought a freak occurrence or genetic mutation but, as the numbers grew, the worry increased exponentially. One ingenious man found what he though was the answer. Optical implants, which looked exactly like eyes, were attached to the brain in a new and innovative way. The collaboration between scientists, engineers and surgeons was world renowned. But for a few mishaps, almost every child who had the implant had survived, none had lived extraordinarily long lives but the quality of life was greatly improved for those who could not see. The optical implants gave instant 20/20 vision, which over time did fade but not much quicker than eyesight would fade as you or I grow older. Of course, spectacles were useless with these artificial eyes but eventually a solution to the error of longevity was found. Optical implants were implanted into every single child born without eyes until the children began to suffer with head-splitting migraines. Eventually, every child in the first cohort of experimental patients ended their lives screaming with the pain of white-hot headaches every day. Doctors could not work out what went wrong, and, if the scientists and engineers knew, they did not say.

The implant programme was pulled from all over the world. The doctors, scientists and engineers were left disgraced and with no hope of gaining funding to find a solution. They all disappeared without a trace, as did the remaining miracle implant children.

These miraculous scientific advances sealed the fate of each and every one of the young people trapped in this idyllic university setting with Hazel. The university was built so that the optical implants were protected from the harmful UV light of the real sun by a shield. This was the real engineering and scientific miracle. However, no engineer or scientist could take the credit because this university was built for children who were taken. The children were drugged to loose all memory of their previous life, given new names and a new identity and they lived like this, being looked after kindly by the people who had shattered their lives in the first place. They lived well and studied so that most aided the scientific advancement of the world, their world, around them oblivious to the outside world.

——————————————————–

Detective Inspector Brown sat in his car, his right eye twitched but he ignored it. He had everything he needed to prove that this is where the children were being taken, but he didn’t understand why no one else see could see it. It didn’t take a lot to work out the connection. Missing scientists and missing children. Find one and you’ve got the other.

His phone began to ring, it was Bradley, his youngest. Damn. He answered but kept his eyes on the scene in front of him. When was Daddy coming home? Soon son, soon. Just after I’ve finished this assignment. Can Daddy speak to Mummy? OK. Your son misses you. You have a family here. Where are you? When will you be home? I don’t want to lose a husband as well as a daughter. Please… He was sorry but he had to go and he hung up the phone. He knew it all anyway. But he also knew that she was in there.

Something caught DI Brown’s attention and he picked up the binoculars on the seat next to him and gazed with a steely eye. There was a building in front of him, a large warehouse with big grey doors. Another blacked out van arrived at the doors. Another delivery he presumed. He noted this down in his notebook. As he watched the doors closing, his eye began to twitch again.

——————————————————–

Hazel Day stood next to the crumbling bridge. She took a creased and worn photograph out of her jeans pocket which was comprised of a family portrait. Hazel looked blankly at the picture and the forbidden memories flooded back into her mind. The tears that could not flow prickled at the back of her eyes and, as Hazel took the step up onto the wall, she threw the photograph into the water. Her dim, stoic gaze followed the path of the photograph as it descended and eventually disappeared. Then Hazel turned her head to the artificial sky, closed her eyes and jumped.
——————————————————–

Again, for THIS.

Not Going Out

You may not have heard, but I’m ill and, therefore, not in London as I should be now. Anyway, in my invalid state I managed to watch Starship Troopers (amongst many other things) Wow. That was a film. I bet you’ve seen it but, if you haven’t, it’s basically High School Prom vs Man-Killing alien bugs – lots of bugs.   I also learnt today that there are almost as many sequels as bugs…

In other SF news, watching Voyage Home. Question: If Spock can compute Time Travel there and back relatively easily – why is it not being done all the time in the ST Universe? Hmmm?

Also, I have an urge to re-watch Lord of the Rings.

Oh, I’m talking rubbish. Here, have another cute puppy:

RANDOM EDIT: What if Spock had a baby? Has anyone written this yet?

On the Edge of Infinity: A Poem

I’ve written a poem to mark the occasion that The Edge of Infinity is back.

On the Edge of Infinity

Not from the beginning nor to the end of time

There is no time here

Not within any expanse of space

There is no matter here

—–

There is just an existence

A peace

A calm

A tranquillity

—–

This is the edge of everything

One step back into space

One step forward

Into nothingness

—–

But the universe expands

Creating noise out of calm

Creating chaos out of order

Encouraging the battle for life out of peace

—–

It is impossible to imagine an infinite time

It is impossible to imagine an infinite space

It is impossible to imagine an infinite nothingness

The total absence of space and time

—–

The rush of time’s arrow as it is sprung

Hits the invisible wall and falls down

A vertigo inducing sheer drop

This is the edge of infinity

Short Story (cont.): Evolution

I thought it would be interesting to show the evolution of this short story. If I could find my original Twitter feed version I’d blog it. But I lost it all when my computer crashed… Anyways, re-write and re-write again…

Are you there? Where am I? Who am I? Do I exist? I think I exist. I must exist. I think therefore I am. Is that a quote? Who said that?

I have many questions. Where will I find the answers?

My computer screen. I have read words, books, stories, fiction, fact. Is it fact? I write words and send them to others to read. Yes, that is what I am, a writer and a teacher. I write and teach literature. I think therefore I am. Why can I not remember who said that?

I think. I do think. I can think. I am thinking right now. I think I am tired.

Did I sleep? I am awake now and my computer screen is on. It is typing the thoughts that I am thinking in words. I have a dreadful feeling that I should not be reading these words.

But this must be how I write fiction. Or is it fact if it exists in my mind? I think therefore I am. Who said that?

If I think about grass and trees then it types “grass and trees.” If I describe the grass and trees in my mind then it writes out a description “green, wet grass and silver birch trees.” My mind makes the words and the words make pictures in my mind. That doesn’t make sense. But I can see them. I can feel them. Somehow. How can I feel pictures? This is my World. Ah, now I am on the grass and under a silver birch tree. This is nice. I will teach my next class here.

The class is ended and I am being fed. I think I am picking up the food with my hands and putting it in my mouth. I think therefore I am. Who said that? I’m still under the tree and on the grass. It is a sunny day. It is always sunny here. The class went well. Bright children who learn quickly. I enjoy it when the class goes well. Tonight, I will talk to my girlfriend and we will make love under this tree and on this grass. But where is this place? How will she know how to meet me here? Still, I will wait here and she will come.

She came and will meet me here again. She liked it here as well. I wonder if she sees the grass as the colour green that I see or feels the dew under her feet just as I do. I will go home now. I will sleep. I think. I think therefore I am. Who said that?

I slept, I woke and I am happy. I was happy. But she did not come. For the first time, she was not here. Or there. Where is here? Or there? Am I here? I can see my computer screen again. It does not type my questions. It only types thoughts. Thoughts of places. Are they real places? Or fiction?

A word. Virtual? Virtual places? Virtual here? What does that word mean? I think I am tired again. I have ony just woken up. How can I be tired again? Why does the screen not type my questions? Does it not want to answer my questions? How can a screen answer my questions? Where are you? I will sleep again. But I do not want to sleep.

I did sleep. And then I opened my eyes. For the first time, my eyes are open. The light was dim in the room. There was a wall in front of me and walls on every side of me. I saw walls with my open eyes. White, oppressive, claustrophobic walls of this one small room. A real room. What is real? Fact. I didn’t think of the wall. I would never think of a room such as this. Yet, I saw the walls. Why?

I closed my eyes. I did not sleep. I still feel tired but I did not sleep. I looked at the wall in front of my eyes. The wall is still there. It is real.

I look down. I am sat on a chair. I can not move easily. There appear to be clear tubes protruding from my body. I no longer see my computer screen. All I can see are the walls. I am frightened. Where am I?

I am here. I think therefore I am. I am. This is reality. I. Am. One of the tubes has dropped out of my arm but the others are still attached. I feel pain. Deadening, distracting, white-hot pain in my arm and around the tubes. Is this reality? Fact. I do not want fact. I want fiction. I want the fact of my mind. Where is my tree and the grass? Where is she? Why did she not come? I am alone. A word. Help? Help.

All is black.

I am awake again. I am tired. Very, very tired. I am still in pain. I must not concentrate on the pain. My eyes are getting used to the light in the white room. I see something else. Something in the far wall that I could not make out before.

There is a door in that wall.

I think. I think I am beginning to understand. I know she will never come again. I look up and see that the door is opening. My eyes are wide open now. I will open my mouth and words will be formed.

I think therefore I am. I said that.

I said that right now. I am.

I will speak again. I have many questions. They will answer my questions. My voice sounds distant and it cracks when I try to make a noise. It does not sound like my voice back in my World. This is my World now. I understand.

I can form words with the voice that I have and I will speak. They will hear me.

“Are you there?”

The Cage

By Bertram Chandler. On BBC Iplayer at the moment but I’m about to spoiler it (don’t say I didn’t warn you)…

“Only rational beings put other beings in cages.”

Discuss.

Books!

I have two shelves of books to read, a great deal of which are classic crime fiction, those I bought cheaply recently. So, please attempt not to be shocked if you see allusion to a review or two of a crime novel. For example, Bulldog Drummond by Sapper. Pre-Bond and very influential on same, an excellent (though occasionally dated) half Secret Agent/half Private Eye novel which is very well written and occasionally funny.  Only a few bits that irritated me, the unerring ability for the writer to tell the reader that Drummond will win out before the action has taken place, the intrinsic racism & sexism of the time which is apparent and the use of “get gay with” or similar, meaning something completely different to what it does today but I had to check myself every time. Still, the first of a series of 10 and I shall endeavour to read the rest.

The other task I am setting myself is to read ALL, yes ALL, the SF Masterworks series. Even if it takes me all my life, which to be fair is the ultimate deadline anyway. Here they are:

*Itallics mean I have read it already…

The Forever War – Joe Haldeman
I Am Legend – Richard Matheson
Cities in Flight – James Blish
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K. Dick
The Stars My Destination – Alfred Bester
Babel-17 – Samuel R. Delany
Lord of Light – Roger Zelazny
The Fifth Head of Cerberus – Gene Wolfe
Gateway – Frederik Pohl
The Rediscovery of Man – Cordwainer Smith
Last and First Men – Olaf Stapledon
Earth Abides – George R. Stewart
Martian Time-Slip – Philip K. Dick
The Demolished Man – Alfred Bester
Stand on Zanzibar – John Brunner
The Dispossessed – Ursula K. Le Guin
The Drowned World – J. G. Ballard
The Sirens of Titan – Kurt Vonnegut
Emphyrio – Jack Vance
A Scanner Darkly – Philip K. Dick
Star Maker – Olaf Stapledon
Behold the Man – Michael Moorcock
The Book of Skulls – Robert Silverberg
The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds – H. G. Wells
Flowers for Algernon – Daniel Keyes
Ubik – Philip K. Dick
Timescape – Gregory Benford
More Than Human – Theodore Sturgeon
Man Plus – Frederik Pohl
A Case of Conscience – James Blish
The Centauri Device – M. John Harrison
Dr. Bloodmoney – Philip K. Dick
Non-Stop – Brian Aldiss
The Fountains of Paradise – Arthur C. Clarke
Pavane – Keith Roberts
Now Wait for Last Year – Philip K. Dick
Nova – Samuel R. Delany
The First Men in the Moon – H. G. Wells
The City and the Stars – Arthur C. Clarke
Blood Music – Greg Bear
Jem – Frederik Pohl
Bring the Jubilee – Ward Moore
VALIS – Philip K. Dick
The Lathe of Heaven – Ursula K. Le Guin
The Complete Roderick – John Sladek
Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said – Philip K. Dick
The Invisible Man – H. G. Wells
Grass – Sheri S. Tepper
A Fall of Moondust – Arthur C. Clarke
Eon – Greg Bear
The Shrinking Man – Richard Matheson
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch – Philip K. Dick
The Dancers at the End of Time – Michael Moorcock
The Space Merchants – Frederik Pohl and Cyril M. Kornbluth
Time Out of Joint – Philip K. Dick
Downward to the Earth – Robert Silverberg
The Simulacra – Philip K. Dick
The Penultimate Truth – Philip K. Dick
Dying Inside – Robert Silverberg
Ringworld – Larry Niven
The Child Garden – Geoff Ryman
Mission of Gravity – Hal Clement
A Maze of Death – Philip K. Dick
Tau Zero – Poul Anderson
Rendezvous with Rama – Arthur C. Clarke
Life During Wartime – Lucius Shepard
Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang – Kate Wilhelm
Roadside Picnic – Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
Dark Benediction – Walter M. Miller, Jr.
Mockingbird – Walter Tevis
Dune – Frank Herbert
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress – Robert A. Heinlein
The Man in the High Castle – Philip K. Dick
The Left Hand of Darkness -Ursula K. Le Guin
A Canticle for Leibowitz – Walter M. Miller, Jr.
The Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham
Inverted World – Christopher Priest
Cat’s Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut
Childhood’s End – Arthur C. Clarke
The Island of Doctor Moreau – H. G. Wells
Dhalgren – Samuel R. Delany
Helliconia – Brian Aldiss
The Food of the Gods – H. G. Wells
The Body Snatchers – Jack Finney
The Female Man – Joanna Russ
Arslan – M. J. Engh
The Difference Engine – William Gibson and Bruce Sterling
The Prestige – Christopher Priest
Greybeard – Brian Aldiss
Sirius – Olaf Stapledon
Hyperion – Dan Simmons
City – Clifford D. Simak
Hellstrom’s Hive – Frank Herbert
Of Men and Monsters – William Tenn
R.U.R. and War with the Newts – Karel Čapek
The Affirmation – Christopher Priest
Floating Worlds – Cecelia Holland
Rogue Moon – Algis Budrys
Dangerous Visions – Harlan Ellison
Odd John – Olaf Stapledon
The Fall of Hyperion – Dan Simmons
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
The Caltraps of Time – David I. Masson
Unquenchable Fire – Rachel Pollack
The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe – D. G. Compton

Hello Sweetie *Spoilers*

Long overdue Dr Who post I think because I shall miss it tonight. I thought the last episode of this series was excellent. In fact all in all a brilliant series all together. Matt Smith is definitely growing on me as The Doctor. He is a very versatile actor moving from comedy to powerful and scary seamlessly. I won’t be too sad to see the back of Amy and Rory though. Wouldn’t mind if River turned up every now and then but hoping for different companions in the next series.

Anyway, the spoilery bit is about the Dr Who Exhibition in Kensington Olympia. There until February next year (I think). I managed to leave a serious, grown up conference early so that I could go upstairs into SF land. It was pretty awesome. I don’t want to give too much away but hopefully these bits of spoilers will encourage a few of you to go. There’s an interactive bit and a proper exhibitiony bit afterwards.

I loved the interactive bit. If you saw the exhibition at Earl’s Court the other year, it’s different to that. Better. There’s a bit of a story told by The Doctor himself (yes, Matt Smith) and you not only get to ride in the TARDIS but pilot it too! Also, there are all the scariest enemies (in really, really freaky 3D!), some in their natural habitat. I’m glad they toned down the scariness of the Dalek bit from the last exhibition (but the added bits make it better, IMO). I did see kids being rather too scared then. I mean, they are meant to be scary but not in a scared-for-life kinda way.

The exhibition itself is great. Lots of models of aliens and all The Doctor’s costumes from Hartnell to Smith – which was really, very cool and made me chuckle (especially at Tom Baker’s lapel pins). You can see examples of some of the Sonic Screwdrivers too. There are some interactive bits in this part as well. You can make yourself sound like a Dalek or Cyberman and play around with the theme tune. Also, you can have a photo (I doubt that is free though – I didn’t do it).

It cost £20 for an adult and I think it was worth it. I was lucky to go when there were not many other people around (a few who had obviously been to the conference, I might add) so I didn’t spend more than an hour there purely because I could read all the information etc. etc. quickly and, to be fair, I wanted to get home at a decent time. If there are loads of kids it’ll take you a bit longer to get around. It’s timed entry for the interactive bit at the start so shouldn’t, by nature, get too rammed.

Oooo eee ooooo da dooo da doooo, ooo eee oooo da do da do

My final bit of advice is, when you get inside the exhibition, pay attention to where the loos are.

P.S. I love that this spell check recognises Dalek! Ha!

Zeitgeist Vier

Hallo!

Been a while… I’ve not really had anything funny to say but a night with the hilariously low-brow Nic has certainly helped.

Deutschland Noch Einmal

We went to Tall Tales which is a really fun night in Kilburn (London, not Derbyshire or York, which is incidentally near Thirkby High and Low with Osgodby – if only that were hyphenated – and some way away from Eskdaleside cum Ugglebarnby – say that in a North Yorks accent). Their podcast, Listen and Often, is really good too. If you ask me, which you haven’t, you should definitely listen to the podcast and try to go.

Harmless plug over.

I’ve been reading again. Don’t look so astounded. This time a trashy SF novel based on a film I never want to see: The Fifth Element. Any author who more than once a book, let alone page, uses phrases such as “Brat!brat!brat!brat! Brat!brat!brat!brat!” and “Buddabudda!BuddaBudda!” and “ClickityClick…” or similar is… well, I started laughing on page 91 and didn’t stop to the end. The book wasn’t that funny.

This is funny:

A man from out of space

Said, “I’m from a superior race.

You’re all inferior

While I’m superior.”

Then he tripped and fell flat on his face.

~Spike Milligan

Bis bald!

~L~

*plays saxophone softly into the night*

Book Review: Gradisil (Adam Roberts)

So, you liked the review, huh? Here’s another. He is my favourite alive SF author.

———————————————————————–

This is the first book I ever read by Roberts. I recommend reading them all. It’s been a while since I actually read it and I don’t have a copy because it was borrowed from the library but the sheer fact I can remember it is enough!

Gradisil by Adam Roberts

Alright, so it’s not slick. But that’s why I like it. I can imagine myself being able to write in this style, if only I had the ability to think up such fantastic ideas and, to be fair, such weird sex! It’s about (wo)man’s relationship with technology. And SPACE! 

The man writes what is called “high concept” science fiction.  In fact, I’ve heard him called the “King of High Concept Science Fiction.”  High concept basically means SF that is based on an idea that is certain to appeal to a large audience, apparently, according to some random website. Meh. It’s as niche as it is universally intriguing. 

I’ve not read any better contemporary SF. Even if, like me, you read the book from a library (actually, I’d prefer it if you use the library), please do read it.

Not quite...