Monday, 31 March 2014

Guest Author Interview - Neal Asher

We have a treat for science fiction fans in today's guest author interview, one of Britain's top sci-fi authors Neal Asher joins us to chat about his work, find out more below:

Click on image to purchase from Amazon

Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
I’m Neal Asher science fiction writer, one of the big boys in British space opera if you believe some, or a hack who snuck in under the wire if you believe others. But though it’s nice to define myself as a writer, I am and have been other things too. As the biography on my blog says: I’ve been an engineer, barman, skip lorry driver, coalman, boat window manufacturer, contract grass cutter and builder. Now I write science fiction books, and am slowly getting over the feeling that someone is going to find me out, and can call myself a writer without wincing and ducking my head.

I started off being published in the small presses – in the days when most magazines were still printed and posted – getting my first short story published back in 1989. After that I worked my way steadily up the writing ladder to actually be paid for a story some years later, then producing a couple of novellas and an anthology after that. I was taken on in 2000 by Macmillan and have been overproducing for them ever since. Thus far they have published 17 of my books while I’ve also done a few on Kindle myself. My stuff is translated into 10 or so languages, into audio books too, but no film yet.

What first inspired you to start writing?
I have a standard pat answer to that. I’ve always had an interest in all sorts of stuff – chemistry, biology, electronics, art, reading and writing – but it was all a bit scattershot. I realized that to achieve anything in any of them I needed to narrow my focus i.e. I was a Jack of all trades but master of none. I chose writing because it could include an eclectic selection of those other interests. However, this pat answer does not explain the thrill I get when I hear Paperback Writer by the Beatles or the yearning I had when I used to watch the old Melvin Bragg program for which it was the theme tune. I guess I got so much pleasure from my reading of vast amounts of SFF I couldn’t see a better job than being one of those who produced it.

And what attracted you to writing science-fiction?
Science fiction sort of found me. I wanted to write and the next step was publication as vindication of that. I started off writing a fantasy (in pen on paper then typed on an electric typewriter – I have to add that I have actually done real cutting and pasting!) and completed a trilogy plus the first book of another one. These I was sending to big publishers, and they were promptly sending them back. Next researching smaller markets I wrote articles and short stories. I then discovered the SFF small presses and started producing science fiction short stories for them. Meanwhile I wrote a contemporary novel, then I wrote my first SF novellas like Mindgames: Fool’s Mate, The Parasite and The Engineer. Only after these and numerous short stories did I attempt something larger, and that was Gridlinked. I reckon the reason I didn’t start off straight away with science fiction was that I was aware that I did not know enough. Contemporary stuff you write about the extant world, for fantasy you make it all up (though logical consistency is required) while for SF you have to have a pretty wide knowledge of science before you make it all up on the basis of that.

If you could spend a day with anyone from history, who would it be and why?
I’m not really sure that there’s anyone. There are many I’ve admired from afar but I don’t know them. I’m old enough and wise enough to now know that someone can be an icon in the public world but that does not necessarily mean they are not an arsehole in private. I’ll keep my illusions.

Which author do you most admire and why?
I have so many I admire for so many different reasons, or sometimes because of one book. For singular books it’s the likes of T J Bass for Half-Past Human or James Kahn for World Enough & Time (and there are others). Then there are those writers who have never disappointed, whose every book I have read and kept: Terry Pratchett, Iain M Banks, Roger Zelazny, Tanith Lee, Sheri Tepper, C J Cherryh, David Gemmell, Alan Dean Foster … Aaargh! I could just go on and on.

What is your favourite word?
I try not to have a favourite word because, as a writer, I want to use the best word for the job. I was once accused of overusing ‘candent’, but I’m all better now and don’t use it so much.

Where is your happy place?
Usually I would say swimming in the Libyan Sea off the coast of Crete or eking in my garden at my house there. However, my wife Caroline died of bowel cancer this January and right now I don’t have any happy places.

What are you working on at the moment?
Over the last year or so I wrote the first draft of a trilogy concerning and AI called Penny Royal. This entity first appeared in a short story called Alien Archaeology (published in Asimov’s and a Year’s Best anthology) then in my book The Technician. This trilogy has the overall title of Transformations and the books are: Dark Intelligence, Factory Station Room 101 and Spear & Spine. Presently I’m editing them.

Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
The next one to appear will be the first mentioned above – scheduled to be published next February. The last book I had published was Jupiter War, the last in the Owner trilogy, the prior books being The Departure and Zero Point. If you want to find out more about these books and all my others there’s plenty of information on my website http://freespace.virgin.net/n.asher There’s also plenty of stuff on my blog at http://theskinner.blogspot.com I can also be found on facebook at neal.asher or on Twitter @nealasher And of course my stuff can be found in all good book stores online or on the high street.

Cheers!

Books by Neal Asher on Amazon:






Book Impressions - The Dulwich Horror of 1927 by David Hambling

Unfortunately this book no longer seems to be available from Amazon, which is a shame as this is quite a fun Lovecraft inspired tale from London in the 1920's. We have a group of young people who consider themselves on the forefront of thinking and decide to investigate pagan worship in London. They investigate a particular place that leads them to a discovery of ancient evil.

While it's very reminiscent of Lovecraft's stories, it isn't as dense in the language which makes it an easier read, but doesn't quite match up with the source. Still it is a very fun story and does invoke the attitudes and circumstances of the time. The story's progression also feels very Lovecraft with the clever group only realising too late what they have become involved in.

The horror itself is also well done, building from a seemingly innocuous start and building into a horror of cosmological proportions. I enjoyed reading this a lot and I hope that the author decides to re-release it at some stage so more people can enjoy it.


South London 1927: Nameless horror stalks the Bright Young Things

When a group of carefree young people encounter remnants of pagan worship at a South London church, it starts off as an amusing lark. To William Blake and his friends, the mystery of an underground chamber where no chamber should exist is an adventure to punctuate their round of champagne picnics and cocktail parties.

But something dark and alien is seeping into this bright world, and shadows from the distant past are rising over Blake's glittering future. The church's congregation are being preyed on, body and soul. A deserted house reveals a disturbing secret. An unnatural and insatiable creature is lurking, madness is afoot...and a whirlwind of chaos and destruction is about to be unleashed from another dimension

Blake and his resourceful friends know archaeology, photography, esoteric lore and even non-Euclidean geometry. But can they even begin to understand the eldritch evil they are facing in time? Can they solve the riddle that lies behind the words Cthulu Fthagn before they are picked off one by one?

An HP Lovecraft-inspired novella of madness and chaos to appeal to anyone familiar with the Cthulhu Mythos, and is sure to delight new readers and seasoned fans of the Call of Cthulhu alike.

This book no longer appears to be on Amazon, so here's the Goodreads link:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18398458-the-dulwich-horror-of-1927

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Film Review - Hell in the Pacific

This is an excellent film that to my shame I've only just got round to watching. An American pilot and a Japanese Navy officer are stranded on an island during World War II. Naturally their first instinct is to continue the war, but to survive they are better off working together.

With just the two leads on camera throughout the film its success relies on their performances and they both perform an amazing job with their roles. This is even more impressive when you consider the language and cultural barriers they face. On top of this they have to overcome their natural animosity as well as the challenges they face to survive.

It's quite a slow paced film, but the story is interesting throughout and as I've already mentioned, the two leads really carry it. The only downside isn't something I normally comment on, the transfer isn't great and the aspect ratio has been reduced to 4:3. From what I've read this reduces the impact of some of the scenes, although in fairness I still enjoyed watching it and I'd recommend it especially to Enemy Mine fans so they can see how it should be done :-)



A US Marine pilot (Lee Marvin) and a Japanese Naval officer (Toshiro Mifune) find themselves marooned on the same island in the middle of World War II. The pair's first impulse is to continue the wartime struggle and engage each other in a battle to the death, but they soon realise that their chances for survival will be much stronger if they work together. Can they suspend their mutual hatred long enough to begin the struggle against the hostile island environment or will their wish to destroy each other win out? John Boorman directs.

Click here to purchase Hell in the Pacific from Amazon (and it's an excellent watch)

March Short Fiction Contest Winners



It's that fun time of the month again where I read through the short fiction contest entries, that's the easy part! The hard part is deciding which of the stories to pick as the winners. Since the first competition I've been impressed by the quality of the entries and March's contest proved no exception with 35 excellent stories to read through.

Before I announce the winners I'd like to thank everyone who entered, it's great to such a mix of familiar and new names. Thanks also to everyone who have helped spread the word by sharing posts and tweets, it's much appreciated!

And now for the winners:


  • First prize of a £50 Amazon gift card goes to Jonathan Rowe for  'Bride of Quietness'
  • Second prize of a £20 Amazon gift card goes to Lisa Dee for 'Forever Yours'
  • Third prize of a £10 Amazon gift card goes to Star A Prufock for 'I am Africa'
April's short fiction contest has now started and you can take part here:


Now let's enjoy the winning stories:

Bride of Quietness by Jonathan Rowe



Let me tell you, Aïcha of the Diallo, tears are salt. This is an elek I make for you. This is the funeral dance I will tread for you to the rhythms of Tiriba. It is good, is it not? It is beautiful.

I hold your face before me as I work. My knife makes its subtle way across the wood. Your eyes are like almonds and my eyes shall look through them, as once they looked back at me in yours.

A face emerges from the senseless wood. Your chin is thin, narrowing to the sweetest point where I once held it between thumb and forefinger. It shall jut forward, fiercely, as you did when you taunted me. Clumsy, you called me. That was just, but you have instructed me better. My touch has learned delicacy under your tuition. I learned to hold you tightly, but laid no mark on your shining skin.

The face will be lacquered. Yes, it shall shine. The men of the simu will say it is tears of grief that shine there, but I only will know. It is a son, you told me and wept. It was to be a son.

Let me tell you, Aïcha, I will not work while you disturb me so. You must be quiet, spirit. You must languish in the prison of memory. You must not dance, for then the earth will shake and I may not stand.
My knife returns to you and no longer shakes. Your lips will be parted. They parted for me. First they parted in rebuke when the glazed pot shattered and the water spilled on the hem of your skirt, then in laughter. Aïcha of the Diallo, where did you learn to laugh? Why did the world stop to listen? The shrieking baboons were stilled and the blue-headed doves ceased their cooing. These lips part again under my knife. Each thrust of it makes them wider. How you gasped with delight. What music you made of my name. It is good, is it not? It is beautiful.

You were scarred, Aïcha of the Diallo. The wood must bear it too, submitting to my knife patiently and bravely. The scars of womanhood crossed your breasts and brow and cheeks and each scored line is a pilgrimage taken by fingertips. To touch the scars of Aïcha of the Diallo, that was no little thing. A man might trace those journeys and be well-pleased. I have touched them. It was good, was it not? It was beautiful.

The elek is complete. The men of the simu are ready. The drums begin. They play the rhythm of your kin. Your face will press once more against mine, Aïcha, as I tread the funeral steps. My eyes will look through yours, my almost-wife, my son's almost-mother. For you I will behold the sunset and the night and the interminable dawn. 

It is good, is it not? It is beautiful.


Forever Yours by Lisa Dee


My grandfather had kept it above the mantelpiece in a place of honour, I remembered as I pulled it out of the mouldy old cereal box my father had kept it in.  It wasn’t a particularly scary looking mask, although the slitted, vacant eyes were unnerving and I thought for a moment I saw a glimpse of something in the recesses of those slits.  

Grandpa had treated it reverently.  Candles had been placed on either side of it and lit every night.  Dust had never been allowed to accumulate.  Although I remember hearing my grandmother oft recite “there’s no fool like an old fool” under her breath, she always followed my grandfather’s instructions regarding the mask.

The family legend is that he acquired it after a safari in the Congo.  He’d managed to upset a local tribe by hunting during their sacred time.  He claimed he was in for a lifetime of bad mojo because he was declared a demon by the witchdoctor of the offended tribe.  The bad luck started immediately when he developed nasty, putrefying buboes under his armpits and a wicked fever. Luckily, he was able to stagger to the witch doctor of a neighbouring tribe and acquired the mask.  Very soon his buboes disappeared and he went on to live fifty more healthy years. 

My grandfather sternly laid it down to my father that he must never get rid of the mask.  My father, because he was cast from the same die as my grandmother, resentfully consented.  So here it still was.

I pulled the mask out fully and I took a soft cloth, dipped in melted beeswax of the purest grade I could find.  I wiped it carefully and I saw how dry and cracked the wood had become in the heat of the attic where it had been stored.

The glint was there again in the eyes, but I knew it must only be the reflection of the bare lightbulb swinging above me.  I carried it carefully downstairs to a clear spot above the mantelpiece I had prepared beforehand.

I sat it against the nail and took my hands carefully and slowly away.  It was slightly crooked and with one white gloved hand I gently straightened it.  Reflexively, I bowed towards it a little, while avoiding looking into those bottomless eyes.  

I lit two pure beeswax candles on either side of the mask.  They were in red votive holders, as red as an African sunset.  Those candles were expensive and hard to source, and I’d need two every night.  All the same, they were cheap at twice the price.

My father, after many years of high blood pressure, asthma, night terrors, paranoia, multiple marriages, bankruptcies, and the undiagnosable illness that eventually took his life, had taught me something.  He taught me, on the day of his funeral, that there are some things greater in heaven and earth than we can imagine.  He taught me to be afraid…

I am Africa by Star A Prufock

I am Africa with its pulsing of drums and baked landscapes which become quenched by rains that dance. I am Africa with its tangerine sunsets, watermarked clouds and blistered air. I am Africa with its taste of ugali and cattle’s milk. I am Africa with the aroma of its coffee beans, sweet grasses and elephant dung.

I once roamed the Serengeti barefooted, my ebon skin clad in the red garments of the Maasai. I prayed to Ngai; I prayed for the health of my wife and my son—my son whose teeth gleamed like the tusks of an elephant’s under the African moon.

Before me, there are strange people. They wear curious garments as they hold peculiar toys which they speak into with their foreign tongues, or touch with their fingers all in a fury. They stand around the spectacle that I am: gawking and discussing each detail of my face, of my history, of my worth. They know not my true face, history, or worth. I have a face without a body. I have a face that is unreal. This face and I are affixed to a white wall in a room. Beyond us are corridors which travel through the annals of time. Through these corridors there are more walls, more rooms and glass cases and objects which fill them. These objects are nothing like us; these objects do not harbour the soul of a man.

For three-hundred years I have known this mask. Ngai, I pray you have cursed the Laiboni who conjured the breath from my body and confined my soul to this black-gold visage!

And now before us, is a window. It is my soul which peers out into part of this new world because the mask, cannot. Countless more people walk past, bright lights and colors shine back at us as though they were heaven’s stars, metal things fly past along the roads and grey buildings abound.

My soul is limited within this sculpted, painted confinement; it remembers no more than of my existence last lived. It knows nothing beyond this face, these chambers, that window’s view.

What had I done for this to have been the fate which met me, you ask? Murderer that I am, I wrung the blood from the Laiboni! I wrung the blood from him as a cheetah would a gazelle. It was in his death that he did this to me, in his power as a shaman; it was in his vengeance. At night when all falls silent and darkness looms, I imagine the ghosts of he, my wife and son have come to haunt me, to laugh at my soul trapped within this hellish relic.


This odd world and these strangers are nothing for we are Africa. We are Africa with its roaring of lions and hissing of snakes. We are Africa with its dry quicksand and sting of scorpions. We are Africa with its cheetahs that wring the blood from the gazelles.

Drabble Classics - The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

Gustave Doré's illustration of the poem's conclusion.

Edgar Allan Poe is one of the great writers of horror, so much so that his writing remains essential reading and not just in a sense of studying the classics, but for fans of the genre as well. Picking one of his pieces wasn't difficult, writing as a drabble was!

The Raven is probably one of Poe's most famous works and also one of my favourite poems, however my talent as a poet is rather limited. I did want to convey the feeling of the poem as well as its narrative in the drabble and that made writing this the hardest drabble I've written so far. I think I managed it and I hope you agree.

If you haven't read the rest of my drabble classics series then you can find them here:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/p/drabble-classics.html

For a daily drabble as well as the latest Kindle deals and releases sign up for the Indie Book Bargains newsletter here:

http://www.indie-book-bargains.co.uk

The Raven

While reading forgotten lore to escape the loss of Lenore I heard a rap at my door. Another at the window and I admitted the raven and upon Pallas’s bust it perched.

To my surprise the bird spoke, but knew only one word. I’m certain that it’ll desert me as others had, it said ‘nevermore’.

I reasoned that I could forget Lenore, the raven stated ‘nevermore’.

So I asked whether I’ll see her again and received the same infernal reply. I cursed it back to Hell, but it’s my soul trapped in the raven’s shadow and will be lifted nevermore.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Film Review - Escape Plan

I wanted to enjoy this, Arnie and Stallone together should have been a lot of fun to watch. The premise is ok, Stallone is an expert in breaking out of prisons, the intro which establishes the character is actually pretty good. From there he's tasked with breaking out of a secret prison. He then teams up with Arnie who's another prisoner and things go down hill from there, both for sly and the film.

That's not to say that it's completely terrible, it has it's moments. The interaction between the two leads is moderately amusing and the prison governor is good, although he's much better in Person of Interest. The prison set up is also well done. I guess that's the biggest disappointment, the components are there but it doesn't push to make anything with them. It drags on for a while and the ending is a bit predictable.

Vinnie Jones continues with his everlasting role as a thug, although he doesn't look quite as menacing in tight black armour. Still, all in all it manages to be ok, I was mildly entertained, but it could have been a hell of a lot better.


Prison-break action film starring Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Structural security specialist Ray Breslin (Stallone) is paid to enter high security prisons and escape while highlighting weaknesses in their apparently escape-proof systems. But when he is framed and incarcerated in a prison of his own design which is run by the relentless Warden Hobbes (Jim Caviezel), he has to put his incomparable skills to the ultimate test. However, in order to escape this particular prison he'll need the help of another insider. Luckily he meets fellow prisoner and old-timer Swan Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger) who agrees to help Ray in his escape, but only if Ray agrees to free him while doing so...

Click here to purchase Escape Plan from Amazon (it's not terrible)

Book Impressions - The Northern Star: The Beginning by Mike Gullickson

This is a fun read, set in the relatively near future the mindlink technology has opened cyberspace (as in realist environments) to the world. The developer has a complete monopoly on the technology and it proves to be a boon with the world having to change with the dwindling oil reserves finally having an effect on the economy. However there is a flaw in the technology, a weakness that can exploited to wield power on a scale never before seen.

As well as the cyberspace angle we also have the development of a super soldier technology that promises to revolutionise warfare. This is all set against a world where serious measures have been taken to secure the last oil reserves.

I enjoyed reading this story, it's an interesting tale that has some nice twists and turns along the way. The use of the new technology is quite novel (more so the cyberspace flaws, but the supersoldier aspect is also solid), more than this there's a bit of a moral maze going on. I liked the fact that things aren't quite so clear cut as they seem when the story opens, quite often the human side of these type of stories is forgotten, but it is well explored here.

The author's writing is crisp and flows well, there's a good pace to the story and it kept me interested all the way through. Nothing in life is perfect however and there's a couple of minor issues. The first is the world the story is set in, it's an interesting world, but I would really have liked to see it developed further. It does provide an effective backdrop, but its richness could have been brought more into the story. The other issue is the characters, as with the background they're fine and do their job, but more could have been done for the reader to get to know them better.

They're minor quibbles though and it is an entertaining read that provides some interesting concepts to think about.


2058. As the dwindling oil supply plunges the world into chaos, and "Mindlink" technology opens cyberspace to the masses, crippled soldier John Raimey becomes a powerful bionic to infiltrate China and retrieve the King Sleeper: a computer hacker so devastating on-line, he can decimate government infrastructure, subliminally persuade the masses, and even kill.


Thursday, 27 March 2014

Thursday Tune - Gortoz A Ran by Hans Zimmer

This week for the Thursday Tune I've picked a song from one of my favourite movie soundtracks - Gortoz A Ran from Black Hawk Down.

The Song


The Black Hawk Down soundrack contains a wonderful blend of international styles, Gortoz A Ran stands out for me as a beautiful and haunting song. The title means 'I await' and is sung in Breton a Celtic language from northern France. To be honest I don't what the lyrics mean, it's enough to listen to the two vocalists sing. I'm sure that's very lazy of me, it's quite easy to look them up, but I've often found that the voice is an expressive instrument on its own, even without lyrical meaning.

The vocals are provided by Deniz Prigent and Lisa Gerrard, they both sing with such feeling that I experience tingles on my scalp, and yes that is often my way of recognising a song that moves me :-)

The Band

Hanz Zimmer was the guiding light for the Black Hawk Down soundtrack and I think he showed some interesting choices with the blend of music for the soundtrack. For me it helps lift what was already an excellent film anyway. The Gladiator soundtrack is also a shining example of a film soundtrack by him.

Lisa Gerrard has worked with Hans Zimmer on a few occasions and as I've already mentioned has a beautiful voice. She's a prolific artist in her own right and I have a few of her albums in my collection.

I'm only familiar with Deniz Prigent from this particular song, but again he has a wonderful; voice so I should really check him out some more.

The Album


http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00005UWHH/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=19450&creativeASIN=B00005UWHH&linkCode=as2&tag=phasespacenet-21
Click on image to purchase from Amazon

Black Hawk Down is one of my favourite modern war films, it's brutal and illustrates the contrast between how America wages war compared to the warlords in Somalia and similar opponents. The music helps with that contrast with its mix of western and Middle Eastern themes.

There's afew songs used in the film (a Faith No More track stands out) that aren't included which is a shame, but we're still left with an excellent selection of music that covers a range of moods.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

How Can You Help Indie Authors?



The advent of the e-book and the various online services has empowered authors, especially indie authors to put their work out for public consumption. Being an author has never been an easy task (although it is a rewarding and enjoyable one), but releasing as an indie author requires more than the ability to write a good story, you also have to fill all the other roles normally provided by the publishing house. There's a lot to be said for the responsibilities for indie authors when they release their work and that's a topic I'll cover in a future post, for today I want to look at the power of readers in supporting an indie author's books.

The new formats may have empowered authors, but they have also given readers a lot of power as well. An author can market their book, however my own experience is that word of mouth and direct interaction with readers provides the bulk of my sales. I was a reader long before I became a writer and there is a joy in reading a good book, a joy that many others share. By sharing your discovery of a fine read, you not only pass on what you've found, you also help the author as well - a win for all involved.

So you've just read a good book what can you do? I'm quite fortunate in that I have a few fans who help make others aware of my books - one in particular (thanks Frenchie!) go above and beyond in this regard. I've put together some quick and easy suggestions for how they have helped me and also what I do when I've read a good book.

Tell your friends

It seems obvious but as I've mentioned already this is how I received most of my sales and gained some wonderful readers. So when you've finished a good book then tell your friends, tell your family, post about it on your blog, or on Facebook, twitter or other social media.

Post a review

This is the biggie, all authors rely on good reviews, indie authors are especially reliant on reviews to help get the word out that their book is worth reading. There's a ton of places to post reviews, the most important being on the channel you've bought the book from (such as Amazon, Smashwords, Nook etc). There's also dedicated sites like Goodreads and LibraryThing that support reviews and most forums have a thread for books that people have just read.

Some people are put off leaving reviews as they think it takes too much time, this shouldn't be the case though. You don't have to write an essay, just a few sentences about what you liked and didn't like (a review should be honest and sometimes leaving some constructive critisism can be helpful). We authors also enjoy reading a good review, and it also gives us a bit of news that we can shout out about.

Reviews can also make great content for your blog, Facebook page or whatever.

Like other reviews

When you're adding a review take a quick look at reviews that other readers have posted, if you agree with them then give the review a like, or mark them as helpful. This lets other readers know that their opinions are valued and helps reinforce your own review, or opinion.

Social Media

I've already mentioned social media when telling your friends, there are other ways of course as well. You can follow your favourite authors and help them spread any good news by blogging, liking and sharing. Why not drop them a friend request or a direct follow and get to know them a bit better?

So there we have four simple ways that readers can help writers, but the most important thing as a reader is finding people with similar tastes so you can share the books you love and if that helps an author out as well then everyone's a winner!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Tuesday Tease - Ship of Storms by Ken Doggett

In this week's Tuesday Tease we feature the prologue from Ken Doggett's science fiction novel 'Ship of Storms', I already have it in my TBR list and maybe you will too after reading this excerpt!


http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00H8BHTM6/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=19450&creativeASIN=B00H8BHTM6&linkCode=as2&tag=phasespacenet-21
Click on image to purchase from Amazon


The Ship of Storms
by Ken Doggett

PROLOGUE: THE DEBATE

On the fringes of the small, brightly lit circle, radiant beneath a spotlight of her own, stood a beautiful woman of Asian descent.  Her attention was on the mosaic of scanning tiles that lined the walls beyond the lights, and her black eyes on the glowing square that moved within it.  As it shifted, she would follow it, first with the eyes, and then with a liquid altering of her pose, keeping her face always in line with the square.  And when she spoke, the sound of her voice was the slightly amused but professionally neutral tone familiar to billions.

“If you've been hiding in a closet for the past ten years,” she said, “you may believe you're witnessing a critique of an old twentieth-century video.  And it is, indeed, Earth versus Mars.  But in reality there are no monsters.  The protagonists on both sides are human—Earth's governing authorities on the one hand, determined to provide the leadership and guidance they believe necessary for the future of a colony born nearly a century ago, a child of Earth.  And on the other, the top civilian leaders—some say a loosely organized rebel government of the colony itself, equally determined to turn the independent nature of their people into a political reality.”

Taka Namuro smiled for her viewers.  “Now let’s meet our guests.”  She turned as if to view the seated visitors, but her eyes were on an electronic scroll display, which would allow her to read the introductions.  At the same time, the monitoring screen on the director’s console, as well as the vide-screens of the home viewers, centered on a close-up of one of the guests.  From off-screen, sounding so natural that no one outside the studio could have known it was being read, she made the introductions.

“Janet Lubov, Citizen Minister for political affairs, Senior Majority Leader of the Geneva Political Legislature, founder and ranking member of the Human Cohesive Alliance, member-in-good-standing of the Organization for Interwoven Self-Reliance, honorary chairperson of the Spectrum of Inclusion Committee, and an active participant in other, equally distinguished organizations as well—too numerous to mention in the time allotted.  Welcome, Minister Lubov.”

Lubov, who maintained the well-fashioned, well-dressed look of dignity and a leader of nations, had sat quietly and modestly through the introduction.  She now smiled and acknowledged the listing of her achievements.

The wall mosaics made an instantaneous shift and displayed a close-up of the other guest.

“Lars Clayborn, founder and editor of the newsletter, ‘View From Mars.’  He is a well-respected businessman on that planet, which makes him an active participant in Martian finance.  Welcome to you as well, Mr. Clayborn.”

“Small businessman,” he said.  “I don’t own any corporations.”

“Thank you, Mr. Clayborn,” Namuro said.  And she now became the moderator, joining the small circle and taking the empty chair between them as the peripheral lights dimmed and brought the gathering at once into a stark, intimate setting surrounded by darkness.

“It should be noted,” she said, “that Mr. Clayborn is here at our invitation, and does not represent any official office of the Martian Colonial Government.  He is not employed by that body in any capacity, and the opinions he will express are his own.  Mars has neither sanctioned nor officially opposed his privilege to appear here today.”

Namuro turned to the Citizen Minister.  “Would you start the discussion, Minister Lubov?”

“Certainly, and the first thing I would ask Mr. Clayborn is whether he holds any official capacity with the so-called rebel organization.  Have they sanctioned his appearance here?”

“I’m not one of the top people she mentioned,” Clayborn said, indicating the moderator.  “I’m just a small businessman.”

“Why didn’t any of those ‘top people’ choose to participate in this discussion?” she asked him.
Clayborn shrugged.  “I guess they didn’t care to.  Ask them.”

“And when will they care?” Lubov prodded.  “After their followers are devastated by the violent consequences of what they’re pursuing?”

Clayborn laughed.  “Nobody’s proposing any violence—”

“You have a childlike view of politics, Mr. Clayborn—perhaps endearing to the home folks, but your so-called leaders seem painfully nearsighted as well.  And that isn’t endearing, given the probable results.  It’s downright dangerous and irresponsible.”

Namuro interrupted.

“It should be pointed out—as I’m sure you’re well aware, Mr.  Clayborn—that Earth’s Moon-based military forces alone are many times stronger and far more organized than your civilian militia, which consists primarily of near-space patrol vehicles, and those are used only for traffic regulation in the shipping and commercial lanes.”

“And technically,” Lubov added, “they fall under the control of the colonial government anyway.  And even if your so-called rebels could gain firm access to these craft, the armament they carry isn’t up to combat standards.  Any move for independence there would most certainly meet resistance by the colonial government, with all its resources and military power—backed by the threat, should it be necessary, of the swift insertion, into key areas, of a large number of transports loaded with fresh troops from Moon-based groups.”

Namuro looked from Lubov to Clayborn.  “Would the rebel government—whose actual existence is unproven—be capable of maintaining itself intact in the face of such odds?”

Clayborn picked at a bit of lint on the jacket of his business suit.  “They’re building fighters, too.”
Lubov smiled.  “Someone built three mock-ups.  Shells.  Maybe it was this mythical government of his, maybe pranksters.  They didn’t even have engines when the colonial authorities seized them.”
Clayborn’s eyes went swiftly to Lubov.  “Mock-ups?  Oh, that was months ago.  Only last week I saw over two dozen real ones, sitting at a departure terminal.  And that’s just in Homeport.”

“Homeport,” the moderator said, “is your city of residence, isn’t it?  You and your family—wife and six children.”

Clayborn nodded.  “And my business, Clayborn’s Complete Family and Business Apparel.”

Namuro touched the sleeve of his jacket.  “Is this one of yours?”

He straightened his arms, and his posture, making the wrinkles disappear, and then looked himself over—shoulders, chest, arms, and back again.  “The High-Profile line,” he said.

“Getting back to the subject,” Minister Lubov said, “last week's raid on Homeport’s terminals turned up no fighters.  Where were they?”

Clayborn shrugged.  “They must have moved them.”

“Who moved them?”

“For all I know, you moved them.  But there they were, shiny and new.”

A smile crossed Lubov’s face.  “How many of these shiny new fighters, total count, does your rebel government possess?”

“Probably fifty, sixty—maybe more.”

“All hidden away in someone’s closet, I suppose.”

Clayborn glanced over the Minister’s sleek attire, the matching shoes and headband, and then thumbed the lapel of his own, inexpensive suit.  “They wouldn’t fit in my closet, but they might yours.”

Lubov’s eyes still maintained a slight smile, but her mouth tightened visibly.  “I imagine that your exaggerations allow you to sell a lot of newsletters.”

“Everything I publish is substantiated.  Last month I even proposed an alternative to independence, and it’s being taken very seriously.”

“And the proposal is?…” Namuro asked.

“That we move the Capitol from Geneva to Homeport.”

Lubov laughed out loud.

“No, I’m serious—”

Even Namuro smiled.

“—No, wait.  More people than you realize do favor moving the Capitol.”

“Maybe so,” Lubov said.  “Though I doubt it.  But Homeport is an insular community of twenty thousand on the fringes of even Martian, much less spectrum, politics.  Any comprehensive legislative body must consider communities beyond its physical boundaries, many of which have needs completely alien to its own.  Homeport is a fine city, with its own unique qualities, but it isn’t the place for an interplanetary government.”

“Then let’s move it here.”

“Tranquility Port,” the moderator said.

“Why not? It’s already the hub of commerce because of its convenience to two other worlds, and the Moon itself is not only the center for most heavy industry but the primary base for at least half of all military groups.”

“Mr. Clayborn seems to have a point,” Namuro said.

“It’s a ridiculous point, and a ridiculous proposal.  But I will concede that Mars has outgrown its colonial status, and at the next conference I plan to introduce legislation requiring the restructuring of all its governmental departments to make them more responsive to the growing complexity of Martian society.”

“Some would say,” Namuro pressed, “that it would also increase the complexity of government, giving it more control over Martian society, which is easy prey because the pleura-domes that protect its cities from the thin Martian atmosphere necessarily restrict freedom of movement.”

“That’s nonsense.  We have no plans in that direction.”

“Then you think this legislation would defuse the tension there?  I see Mr. Clayborn shaking his head, so it’s apparent that he doesn’t.”

“Mr. Clayborn,” Lubov pressed, “probably has no idea of what the legislation is, much less what it will do.  As an example of how real we consider those fighters of his to be, no combat forces have been moved to Mars.  And none are likely to be moved until the district governor there communicates a need for them.  And after a thorough investigation he remains as skeptical as we are.”

“Do you think, with the problems that now seem to be surfacing in the Governor’s personal life, that he’s able to conduct as thorough an investigation as he otherwise might?”

“In spite of well orchestrated rumors, the Governor has been convicted of nothing, and until real evidence of any misconduct in office is presented to the Conference, the Governor’s personal life is of no concern to us.  Yes, I think his ongoing investigation is capably conducted and very thorough.  I can assure you that Mr. Clayborn’s so-called rebel government, like his shiny new fighters, does not exist.  At least, not in any organized form.  And even if it did, it couldn’t succeed, given the vagueness of its demands—a confusing concept based loosely on something they call ‘freedom.’  We don't call it that at all.  And enlightened people know that true freedom is undesirable.  No person can be free while others must depend on him.  To call someone ‘free’ is an insult, equivalent to calling him shiftless and irresponsible.”

“That's a scandalous bastardization of our words and our values,” Clayborn said.  “And Clayborn’s Complete Family and Business Apparel will not endorse it.”

Lubov’s eyes narrowed to slits, full of suspicion.  “You said the rebel government didn’t care about this discussion, and yet you’re here—to what advantage I’ll charitably overlook for now.  Suffice it to say that you’re here, and you know that this discussion is being beamed to Mars.  Why would you care?”

“It’s interesting.”

“To whom?  Are you saying that some of your people actually do care about their communities?—their families?—their future?”

Clayborn chuckled.

“Would you mind letting us in on the joke?” Lubov said.

“Sorry.  It’s all that community, family, and future stuff.  The way politicians talk.  It probably sounds good in Geneva, the way you put it.  But in our own communities it sounds…funny.”

“Funny?” the moderator said.

“A riot.”

“How so?”

Clayborn opened his hands in a shrug.  “Just doesn’t play well to real people.  It sounds fake.”

“He can’t explain it, in other words,” Lubov said.  “And it shows that within his circle of contacts family and community have a low priority.”

Clayborn was still softly chuckling.  Then he said, “Your words make a pretty gift-wrapping for the package you're selling, but it's clear to us on Mars that the package contains nothing we'd want.”

“And what comes in your package?—besides misery and hardship.  I don’t have to resort to gift wrapping in order to get my message across, Mr. Clayborn, because I believe in what I say.  And so do all enlightened people of both worlds.”

“I’ve seen some of those ‘enlightened people’ around here and if they’re the ones running things I’d guess we’re in deep trouble…”

“And you’ve been guessing all evening,” Lubov said.  “You don’t really seem to know anything.”
“Well, there you’re wrong.  And the proof, needless to say, is in my newsletter, ‘View From Mars,’ available through paid subscription or free, in leaflet form, at any Clayborn’s Complete Family—”
“I question the validity of his appearance here,” Lubov said to the moderator.

Namuro glanced at her director and then back at Lubov.  “Mr. Clayborn is in Tranquility Port on business.  As the widely traveled editor and publisher of a popular newsletter, he was the most knowledgeable and most suitable guest available to us.”

“But his demeanor and lack of awareness of current affairs even on his own planet doesn’t form a basis for a knowledgeable and suitable discussion.  It’s a farce.”

Lubov hesitated for a brief moment, and then rose from her chair to glare down at Namuro.  “I think it’s obvious that he’s here only for the publicity he can get.  Greed is a powerful force in his world.”
Clayborn looked at the moderator, who was watching her director.

“I think I resent that.”

“He thinks he resents it,” Lubov grumbled.  “He doesn’t even know that.”

Clayborn frowned.  “Clayborn’s Complete Family and Business Apparel and my newsletter, ‘View From Mars,’ need no cheap publicity.  The quality of our products, and our prices, affordable to any budget, speak for themselves.”

Lubov brought her glare back to the moderator.  “I refuse to participate further in this display.”  She exited the small circle of light, which then quickly contracted until only Taka Namuro was illuminated.  Her professionalism took over.

“We had intended this to be a two-hour discussion.  Yet, the issues are clear, and they provide us with ample basis on which to draw our own conclusions.  On one side we see an indignant, knowledgeable determination to keep things as they are and as they have been—and, to give credit—as they have smoothly and painlessly functioned for so many years.

“On the other side we see—what?  Is our Martian guest truly representative of the Martian attitude?  Or is he just a small businessman, as he claims, who found himself thrust briefly into the spotlight, the focus of millions, with his own unique qualities and ambitions?”

She smiled once more for the viewers.  “I think we have brought many important points into the spotlight, and learned much in the process.  Let us all hope that, in the troubled times ahead, they will not be forgotten.”

And the spotlight faded on the last recorded civilized exchange between Martian and Terran.  Within a month, highly placed government officials of Martian sympathies seized the State Building in New Challenge, the Martian capitol city.  Backed by swiftly materializing rebel forces, they accomplished a nearly bloodless coup within hours.  The lightly armed, token militia unit stationed within the capitol city could not react in large enough numbers to counter it, and some of its members, after ripping away the colonial emblems on their uniforms, actually abetted it.

Finally, during the last stages, when the outcome was clear, hastily improvised escape routes became clogged with official vehicles.  The disintegrating Colonial Militia managed to defend the city’s transportation center for a few hours longer, which was long enough to put names that formerly adorned the organizational charts of Martian colonial authority on the passenger lists of the last flights leaving Mars for Luna.

After Geneva moved confidently to reestablish control, it was rumored that its confidence must have come solely from viewing that last civilized exchange.  It certainly could not have come from the freshly ousted Governor, who still denied that any serious military buildup had taken place right under his nose.

Another rumor maintained that Geneva staged the discussion to show the Martians as the pathetic clowns they really were, but that was denied by other rumors claiming that Mars had staged the discussion—or fed into it a predictable outcome—to show themselves as Earth wanted to see them, blundering and harmless.

Those and more rumors were only bewildered attempts to explain the actual fact that when Earth moved quickly and confidently to reassert its authority with six aged cruisers escorting twelve troop transports, it burned its fingers on a squadron of shiny new fighters.

Click here to purchase Ship of Storms from Amazon (I've bought my copy!)

About Ken Doggett

I developed a love for reading almost as soon as I learned how. As I grew up in the sunny Southeastern United States I not only loved watching and playing baseball, and following our local team, but also became interested in astronomy. I was especially fascinated with the planets in our own Solar System. That led to the Science Fiction genre almost by default, and it helped that I was also interested in physics. I read widely on that subject, and became interested in math, too—well, sort of. I quickly found my favorite authors: Harlan Ellison, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, John W. Campbell, and Larry Niven, among others. I graduated from Avondale High School near Atlanta, served in the U.S. Army, worked in the field of electronics and electronic technology, and after a few years of reading all of those great stories, decided to try my hand at writing my own. I am now a veteran writer in the Science Fiction genre and have been published in several magazines and pro-zines, including Amazing Stories.  Some of my other current interests are painting, genealogy, and old movies and TV shows.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Guest Author Interview - Sarah Vistica

 Sarah Vistica joins us for today's guest author interview, discover more about her and her latest YA paranormal romance 'Whisper' below:


http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00E89X5HY/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=19450&creativeASIN=B00E89X5HY&linkCode=as2&tag=phasespacenet-21
Click on image to purchase from Amazon

Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
Hi, my name is Sarah Vistica. Currently I live in Northern California with my Chihuahua mix Mocha. I am the author of the Young Adult paranormal romance Whisper. My favorite times of the year are winter and summer. I love overcast skies and exploring the Victorian and Medieval Eras. I love to explore tourist mansions and castles. When I am not engulfed in writing my next novel, I spend time with family and friends, reading, watching movies, and working on my acting career. I was a retail sales associate, but now I focus on writing and acting.

What first inspired you to start writing?
I was first inspired to start writing twice. The very first time I was thirteen years old and I didn’t like the direction my favorite television show was taking the love story of the main character and her boyfriend, so I started to write a script on how I wanted it to be and I wanted to send it, but never actually finished it. The official first time true writing inspiration struck, I was reading a book and from that an idea sparked and it went from there.

And what drew you to gothic romance?
I think what first drew me to gothic romance is the darker tone to the romance side of the story, it is always a true opposites attract love story. I guess you could say I am a gothic romantic at heart. There is an element of mystery and allure. I have noticed with the novels I have read labeled as gothic romance, they are unpredictable. You don’t know which direction the story is headed.

Which author do you most admire and why?
I think currently the author I most admire is Kelly Creagh because she has created the true definition of a gothic romance with a twist on a darker side of romance. Though the famous poet Edgar Allen Poe is actually her base for the story. As an author she knows how to draw people into the story, but incorporating realistic history within a fictional world. Not to mention she knows how to quench my love of gothic romance.

Where do your best ideas come from?
My best ideas honestly come from watching movies and reading books. The very first book I wrote which is still a work in progress, came from reading a book. The story of that book is completely different, but a question popped into my head and a story idea was created. I also get ideas from my own life experience and from the experience of others. Basically, my ideas come from all over.

What was the last book you enjoyed?
The last book I enjoyed is a dystopian novel called the Elite by Kiera Cass. It is worth reading and is definitely not the same as other dystopian stories.

How do your books stand out compared to others in your genre?
My books stand out compared to others in my genre because my books are not what you would usually find coming from other writers. I tend to write books that are out of the ordinary. My books have unusual and strange twists and turns with the plot and characters I don’t see happening with a lot of other books in the same genre.

What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I am working on a book I wrote four years ago. It hasn’t taken me that long to write the book, it has been more of off and on work. I am back to it until I have a final copy of the book worthy enough in my mind to be seen by the public. It is another paranormal story and the character in the story is sent to a different dimension of the world she lives in. There is some tragedy that adds an emotion filled element to the story and I really love this story because there are some major plot and character twists in the story I can’t share with anyone. This book is currently planned to possibly be a trilogy.

Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
My latest work is a young adult paranormal (ghost story)/gothic/dark romance. You can read an excerpt below.

Avaya Emerson has no memory of the night her parents died. Now an orphan she moves in with her isolated Uncle James deep in the woods of Vermont. Where her new life is not what she expected. When she meets Nate his familiar presence draws her in. His resemblance is undeniably similar to a guy in her dreams and Luken Vandersen who mysteriously vanished 127 years ago.

She discovers a strange shadow in the woods watching her and a girl she can’t see wants her to disappear. The closer Avaya comes to learning the truth about Nate, Luken Vandersen’s disappearance and her own tortured memory coming back her life is in greater danger than she can imagine.

Even though Avaya faces haunts and trials with the help of others she has one fight she must handle alone.

To learn more about Whisper and my other books visit my blogsite at: http://www.sarahvistica.blogspot.com

Books by Sarah Vistica on Amazon:

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Film Review - Captain Phillips

I can sort of see why this film has received so many good reviews, but I have to say that I'm not in agreement. The components are there, it's an interesting story about the first US cargo ship to be hijacked in 200 years. Tom Hanks does his usual solid job as the captain and the rest of the cast also do a fine job with their roles.

The pacing is a little off and I think that was the first problem for me. It takes a while to get going with the build up the ship going to sea and the Somali pirates doing the same. Naturally once things get going it gets a bit more interesting, the various tricks the ship tries to evade the pirates was fascinating.

For me the other big issue was the Hollywood trait to telegraph everything, for a few moments in the film that should have been tense scenes the feeling was lost because it had to be shown in an obvious manner with  music telegraphing everything.

That's not to say it's a bad film, far from it. It is a decent watch, but nothing special. I recently watched A Hijacking and that was a much better film covering a similar topic.



Tom Hanks stars in this Academy Award-nominated drama directed by Paul Greengrass based on the real life hijacking of a US cargo ship by Somali pirates. The Maersk Alabama became the first US cargo ship to be hijacked in 200 years when heavily armed Somalis boarded the vessel on the 8th of April 2009. As commander of the ship, Captain Richard Phillips (Hanks) inevitably found himself at the heart of events. Held hostage by the pirates under the command of Muse (Barkhad Abdi), Phillips attempts to protect both his crew and ship to the best of his ability. However, as the drama plays out and Phillips spends more time in the company of his Somali captors, he gradually comes to realise that they have a story, too. Far from the greedy, heartless thugs of pirate lore, the Somalis may well represent the forces of globalisation as surely as the Maersk Alabama - the underside. With the stakes high, the crisis intensifies and someone will have to pay the price... The film was nominated for Oscars for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Abdi) and won the BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor (Abdi).

Click here to purchase Captain Phillips from Amazon (it's an ok watch)

April Short Fiction Contest

Welcome to the latest monthly short fiction writing competition here on The Cult of Me blog. Every month I post a new picture and you can then write and submit a short story (with a maximum word count of 500 words). At the end of the month I will pick the winners and announce them on this blog.

The winner's stories will be available here (and promoted across KUF, Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook and Stumbleupon and anywhere else I can) and you'll also have a link to your blog or website displayed alongside your story if you win.

Winning stories will also be compiled in a collection later in the year, proceeds from the sales of that collection will be used to help fund the prizes for this competition.

The winners will also receive an Amazon gift card:
  1. First Prize is a £50 gift card
  2. Second prize is a £20 gift card
  3. Third prize is a £10 gift card
Details on how you can enter are provided below and I'm looking forward to reading your entries!



The last two contests have had images for scary faces, I thought that I would do something a little different this month until I discovered the scary doll picture. It reminded me of a drabble I wrote a while back so it must inspire some excellent stories, I'm already looking forward to reading the stories!

Here's the drabble I mentioned and let's see what stories this month's image inspire you to write.

China Doll

Her cold lifeless eyes are staring into mine. Her perfect porcelain features, without expression, hold me transfixed where I stand.

"Genuine haunted doll", was the description on eBay. Of course I thought it was a gimmick, just something to push up the price. I thought it was pretty cool, so I bid and won.

It arrived yesterday, it looked pretty creepy. I placed it on the table and here I am. I cannot move. I'm hungry and thirsty. I can't even look away; I'm locked in this death stare.

Oh God! Will anybody find me here? Before it's too late?


As always, thanks to everyone who has entered and a big thank you to everyone who has supported the contest. Please continue that support by sharing the link to this contest wherever you can, it's much appreciated!

Please make sure to check your story for typos before submitting. I don't mind a few errors, but my enjoyment of a story is diminished if I have to wade through too many.

I'll post the winning entries by May 1st 2014.

As with everything in life there are a few rules:
  1. Only one entry per person.
  2. The story must not be longer than 500 words.
  3. Closing date for submissions is April 20th 2014.
  4. By submitting the story you grant me a non-exclusive license to use it. I'll only post the winning entries.
  5. You also grant me a one time non-exclusive license to include the story in an e-book release.
  6. The judges decision is final.
Use the form below to enter your submission. After you've submitted please leave a comment on this page stating that you have submitted. And please help spread the word. I'm working to make this a regular feature so I need readers for the stories as well as entrants.
As well as comments section below you can chat about this competition in any of the threads I've listed below. If you don't know the sites then entering the competition is a good way to introduce yourself. Note that these sites are not affiliated with the competition in any way!

KUF: http://www.kuforum.co.uk/kindleusersforum/thread-13760.html

Goodreads (UK Amazon kindle Forum group): http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/977021-michael-brookes-horror-science-fiction

Kboards: http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,152168.0.html

If you've started you're own thread or discussion somewhere about this month's competition then let me know and I'll add the link to this page.

Pick Up Your Copy of An Odd Quartet Today For Only 82c/49p

Today is a good day to pick up your copy of An Odd Quartet, a collection of four dark and strange short stories, it's currently available from Amazon for only 82c (49p for UK readers). Here's what one reviewer thought of this book:

"All of these stories were excellent. I enjoyed the darkly satisfying twists that surfaced in a couple of the tales, and I loved the imagery throughout. I was impressed by how atmospheric the third story really was, even though the entire story is a dialogue exchange of a radio conversation. Don't get me wrong, the other stories were very good but the third one was just brilliant."

You can buy your copy now from the links below:


An Odd Quartet is a collection of four dark short stories, each with a twist in the tale.

The Yellow Lady

A grave robber encounters a ghost from a story he was told as a child.

This Empty Place

At the heat death of the universe, the Grim Reaper contemplates his existence.

Forced Entry 

A special forces team enters a sunurban house to rescue a family taken hostage, they encounter more than they were trained for.

The Reluctant Demon

A young demon prepares to take his possession exam.

This Drabble Enhanced edition also includes some of my favourite drabbles (100 word stories).



Saturday, 22 March 2014

Film Review - Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer

An odd one this, I remember watching it after it came out and being quite impressed. I haven't watched it since then and it's now out on blu-ray I thought I'd re-watch it. It wasn't as good as I remembered it, although in fairness for its time it stood out. The story is so simple it's barely non-existent, the film tells of Henry, a man who kills people in varying ways. These days that would mean an exercise in blood and gore, here we start with a series of tableau. It's tame by modern standards, but it still gets the point across.

In the early part of the film I had the sense that things weren't quite what they seemed, in a similar way the end of American Pyscho does. That is dispelled once we meet the brother and sister and they bring a bit of interest to the film. Story wise it's all very simple, but the performances help carry it, especially Henry's. Watching him does make me think of a man who has murder on his mind.

The film's other strength is that it has a bleak and ugly feel to it, it lacks the glamour that many serial killer films feel the need to include to shine things up. It's not all good though, as I've already said the story lacks any real interest and the music has dated badly. The theme tune is ok, but the synths when there's killing on screen haven't aged well.

It was a significant film for its time, but it's hasn't aged well, still it remains a decent watch.


Based on the horrifying true story of convicted mass-murderer Henry Lee Lucas (portrayed a magnetic Michael Rooker), John McNaughton’s Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer is one of the most remarkable films in the serial killer genre. Impressively building to a disquieting and horrific climax, the film provides a sobering and nightmarish glimpse into a deranged and damaged mind. A bona-fide cult classic, it is a startling, morally complex and uncompromising work of genuine daring and vision.

Click here to purchase Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer from Amazon (it's worth a watch)

Book Impressions - Jupiter War by Neal Asher

I've been a fan of Neal Asher's writing for a while now, the Polity novels were all excellent reads. This latest Owner series took a little while for me to get into as they had a different feel to them, less immediate and visceral than his earlier novels. Once I got into them though I was hooked and that remains the case with this latest and final book in the trilogy - although the ending leaves the storyline open for more books and I hope that will be the case.

For me the great thing about science-fiction is when it tackles big question, at the core of Jupiter War (and the preceeding novels) is trans-humanism, or more specifically the consequences of melding humans with technology. Alan Saul is an interesting character as he balances his once human self with the practicalities of being an AI and integrated not only with his ship but the robots within. We also see the beginnings of others taking similar steps, although I would have liked to have seen a bit more done with these characters, especially the comlife operatives.

This is all set against a dystopian background where the leader of Earth considers humanity a pestilence upon the Earth and uses extreme measures to restore nature to a dying Earth. Despite the advanced technology life for most is a dismal affair and this contrasts with the microcosm of humanity on Saul's ship.

Space battles are also a fun part of many science fiction tales and here we have not only an entertaining battle, but also a well thought out one. The considerations in the engagement provided a few interesting insights, not only for the technology involved but the tactics needed to utilise them.

What we have here is a damn fine science fiction read, it's fast paced and provides a satisfactory conclusion to the trilogy. Although as I said at the beginning the ending did leave me wanting more and I hope that will be the case.


http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00CYM1952/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=19450&creativeASIN=B00CYM1952&linkCode=as2&tag=phasespacenet-21
Click on image to purchase from Amazon

The third book of the Owner trilogy delivers an explosive conclusion to Neal Asher’s action-packed series chronicling the struggles for political dominance in a resource-scarce future. Power vacuums and new despots spring up across the solar system, in the wake of the events of The Departure and Zero Point. Alan Saul continues to be in the middle of the chaos and destruction that make up Jupiter War.


Click here to purchase Jupiter War from Amazon (it's an excellent sci-fi read)

Friday, 21 March 2014

Guest Author Interview - Teresa Keefer

 In today's guest author interview we are joined by Teresa Keefer, find out more about her and her writing below:


http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00E2YJUJM/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=19450&creativeASIN=B00E2YJUJM&linkCode=as2&tag=phasespacenet-21
Click on image to purchase from Amazon

Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
Teresa Keefer, avid reader and author of contemporary and paranormal romance by night, human resources professional by day.

What first inspired you to start writing?
I've enjoyed writing for as long as I can remember; however, my best friend was a great advocate of me doing full length novels and bought me a copy of Stephen King's On Writing. From there on out, it's been my past time.

What is your favourite book and why?
I don't have a favorite book, I have a library full of books! Some of my favorite genres are romance, paranormal, political, thriller, horror, self-help and my favorite authors are Nora Roberts, Stephen King, Nicholas Sparks, James Patterson, and Clive Barker.

Where do your best ideas come from?
My best ideas come from all sorts of places. My first book, a contemporary romance, was inspired by a country music song. My paranormal trilogy came while I was on a business flight and saw one person reading the Fifty Shades book and another one reading a Sookie Stackhouse novel and I thought, why not blend the two genres? One that will be in the works shortly was inspired by my best friend who suggested that I do a witch trilogy and since I have 3 daughters, I thought I'd mirror the characters from their individual personalities. They don't know it yet, though!

What makes your books stand out compared to others in your genre?
I don't know that my books stand out from others in my genre. There are so many fantastic authors out there and they all have very good books. I just hope that some day I am able to be at the same level as them.

Are you a planner? Or do you prefer to dive straight into writing?
Me? A planner? That is hilarious! Just ask my friends and family, they will tell you that I am probably the most spontaneous person when it comes to anything! I absolutely HATE planning because it doesn't leave any room for taking a side trip to some adventure that you might have missed. I'm a controlled procrastinator and when it comes to a good story, I want to just sit down and start writing and let the story flow naturally.

Every writer loves a good review, what is your favourite so far?
I have to say there is one review that is near and dear to my heart. It's not the best written one but a family member wrote a really short, sweet and bossy one telling people that they just have to read my book. It sounds like one of those 'do it or else' comments.

What are you working on at the moment?
I am finishing up the Vengeance Trilogy and have the first potential paragraphs for each of the Sisters Three Trilogy jotted down.

Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
I'm really excited about the Sisters Three Trilogy. So excited that I am having trouble with finishing the Vengeance Trilogy without my mind wandering to the Sisters Three. You can find me on Amazon, Smashwords, and Goodreads and when I finish up the Vengeance Trilogy, I will work on creating my own website and blog.

Books by Teresa Keefer on Amazon:

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Thursday Tune - On The Turning Away by Pink Floyd

Thursday is here and I'm feeling better and back at work, but even more interesting is that it's that time of the week where I discuss a favourite song. This week we feature a track from probably my favourite band of all time - Pink Floyd.

The Song


I'll go into why Pink Floyd are one of my favourite bands shortly, but having decided it was time to feature one of their songs I then had the difficult choice of picking one. To be honest I was tempted to select an album, but even that only narrows the choice down a bit, I've enjoyed all of their albums, although in fairness to varying degrees.

So why On the Turning Away?

For me the song illustrates what Pink Floyd did best with their songs, it provides pertinent social commentary that is still valid today. The lyrics are simple and effective and nice and easy to sing along to (always an important factor!). The music follows a similar pattern, as with many of their songs there's a simple structure to them, but they execute in a way that is simply sublime.

Another aspect that makes it stand out is that it ends on a positive note, it's not just a statement of what is wrong, but how it can be addressed. A wonderful song.

The Band

I first encountered Pink Floyd in the early eighties after the release of The Wall, my Dad has a copy on tape that I kept pinching (sorry Dad!) and I loved the sound of it. I hadn't developed into my heavy metal taste at that stage, but the brreadth of their music captivated me.

Almost a decade later I expanded my horizons and listened to their other albums (although The Wall remained a firm favourite, especially the film and for a while this and War of the Worlds were my most listened to albums, even while I discovered heavier music).

As a music lover I tend to be interested in songs and albums rather than the artists, although over the years I have developed some firm favourites, with Pink Floyd being one of them, in fact if I had to pick only the one album to listen to for the rest of my life it would probably be one of theirs.

Unfortunately I never got the chance to see them live, which is something I regret and I live in hope of a reunion concert.

The Album


http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B004ZNA5JO/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=19450&creativeASIN=B004ZNA5JO&linkCode=as2&tag=phasespacenet-21
Click on image to purchase from Amazon
On the Turning away is from the A Momentary Lapse of Reason album, which was Pink Floyd's thirteenth studio album. It was released in 1987 (although I didn't listen to it until a few years after then), it's an excellent album overall, although it tends to be overshadowed by The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon - for good reason, they're both great albums.

It was released during a troubled time for the band and it does have a different feel from the preceeding albums, in part due to this and also because it lacked a central premise as the others had.


My Books on Goodreads