Friday, 30 September 2016

Book Review - Cabal by Clive Barker

I'm a huge Clive Barker fan, so much so that he's one of my favourite contemporary horror authors. That's down to two factors: imagination and writing style. In all of his books there is a flash of imagination, of bringing a new angle to an established genre. His style of writing is fantastic, and does often make me despair that I'll never be able to match his talent for prose.

Cabal is almost a more traditional horror story compared to his other novels, it lacks the grand scale of Weaveworld for example. Naturally there are some new angles to it, but they're not as impactful as some of his other creations. The concept of 'monster' is the heart of the book, whether that be human, or otherwise. And that tone is carried well, you see brutality in many different guises here. This works mainly through the existence of strong and well written characters.

My main complaint is that while the characters are well realised, and the setting appropriate, it only touches on the surface of this strange world. I would have loved to learn more about the nightbreed, and to be honest that of the mask as well. There were histories there that needed to be realised to bring it into the light.

As always though, no matter if the story has its flaws, his writing carries it superbly. It's not often I read a book just for the joy of the words, and while this isn't the strongest of his form (I'd probably pick the Hellbound Heart for that), it is evident as you read it. There's a real eloquence to be admired here. A decent horror read, but not his best.


For more than two decades, Clive Barker has twisted the worlds of horrific and surrealistic fiction into a terrifying, transcendent genre all his own. With skillful prose, he enthralls even as he horrifies; with uncanny insight, he disturbs as profoundly as he reveals. Evoking revulsion and admiration, anticipation and dread, Barker's works explore the darkest contradictions of the human condition: our fear of life and our dreams of death.

Click here to buy Cabal from Amazon

Currently Reading - Proxima by Stephen Baxter


The very far future: The galaxy is a drifting wreck of black holes, neutron stars, and chill white dwarfs. The age of star formation is long past. Yet there is life here, feeding off the energies of the stellar remnants, and there is mind, a tremendous galaxy-spanning intelligence each of whose thoughts lasts a hundred thousand years. And this mind cradles memories of a long-gone age when a more compact universe was full of light... The 27th century: Proxima Centauri, an undistinguished red dwarf star, is the nearest star to our sun. How would it be to live on such a world?

Click here to buy Proxima from Amazon


Thursday, 29 September 2016

Book Review - Horus Rising by Dan Abnett

I used to be very into my Warhammer 40K with my Space Marine army, and back then the Horus Heresy was a footnote in history. I've always been a fan of the setting, and while I don't play the games anymore, I do still enjoy reading stories. This is the first book in the long running 'Horus Heresy' series, and details the events of 10,000 years before the game.

While the book is set far in history from the games' point of view, as these are the precursors to the famous space marines it didn't take long to familiarise myself with the setting. If you're new to the universe then this probably isn't the best book to start with, as there's little introduction to the mythos.

The book's setting before the more formal marine chapters known later allow a greater flexibility with the marine characters as they conduct their great crusade to stamp the Imperium's seal across the galaxy. They're still superhuman killing machines, but there are nuances to their cha=racters which help offset the bleakness of the world they inhabit. Of particular interest if Horus, his fate is known to those familiar with the mythos, and its interesting to see the seeds of his future, and see him before his fall.

That grim future is one of the aspects that attracts me to the 40K universe. It's very over the top, with enemies on all sides, and within if you're not careful. The basic premise is that humanity had once spread across the stars, but contact had been lost, and Earth was now reclaiming the lost colonies. Naturally many resisted, and that's were the book starts with the subjugation of one such world.

As is often the case with these books the action soon involves aliens, and while they're not the most imaginative foes, they are sufficient to provide for some good action. The writer's style works well for the story, it has a sombre formality which matches the nature of the Imperium, but also well paced action for the fighting.

My only real complaint was that the ending feels a bit rushed. I would also have liked to have learned more about the second set of aliens. Overall though, I enjoyed reading it. It portrays the world in a detailed fashion, yet at a steady pace. It also has a few philosophical moments with so solid insights. A good read.


After thousands of years of expansion and conquest, the imperium of man is at its height. His dream for humanity nearly accomplished, the emperor hands over the reins of power to his warmaster, Horus, and heads back to Terra. But is Horus strong enough to control his fellow commanders and continue the emperor's grand design?

Click here to buy Horus Rising from Amazon


Currently Reading - The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi


Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen's Calorie Man in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, Anderson combs Bangkok's street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history's lost calories. There, he encounters Emiko...

Emiko is the Windup Girl, a strange and beautiful creature. One of the New People, Emiko is not human; instead, she is an engineered being, creche-grown and programmed to satisfy the decadent whims of a Kyoto businessman, but now abandoned to the streets of Bangkok. Regarded as soulless beings by some, devils by others, New People are slaves, soldiers, and toys of the rich in a chilling near future in which calorie companies rule the world, the oil age has passed, and the side effects of bio-engineered plagues run rampant across the globe.

What Happens when calories become currency? What happens when bio-terrorism becomes a tool for corporate profits, when said bio-terrorism's genetic drift forces mankind to the cusp of post-human evolution? Award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi delivers one of the most highly acclaimed science fiction novels of the twenty-first century.

Click here to buy The Windup Girl from Amazon


Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Old Ones Productions - Dark Eyes Print and T-shirt


She has a hunger that can never be satisfied in this chilling print of a Luciana Nedelea painting.

Available for only £10 plus shipping from the Old Ones Productions store:

https://oldonesproductions.com/collections/prints/products/dark-eyes-print

This image is also available on a t-shirt here:

https://oldonesproductions.com/collections/apparel/products/black-eyes-t-shirt


Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Magic Owl Collection - Winged Serpent T-shirt

The winged serpent soars in this t-shirt from the Magic Owl collection, based on an illustration by Katie W. Stewart.

The t-shirt is available in children's sizes Small to XL, Ladies size's Small to XXL, and Men's sizes small to XXXL.

https://oldonesproductions.com/collections/magic-owl/products/winged-serpent-t-shirt



Monday, 26 September 2016

Sun Dragon on Kindle Countdown Sale Until October 3rd

Sun Dragon is available on Kindle for only 99p/99c for the next week as part of a Kindle Countdown sale. Grab your copy now:

Buy now from Amazon (US): http://amzn.to/ZRrQ5v
Buy now from Amazon (UK): http://amzn.to/12zV5eX


2012: NASA's Curiosity Rover lands on Mars to search for signs of whether microbial life existed on the planet.
2018: The first alien lifeform, a simple wormlike creature is discovered, gripping the world's imagination.
2022: The first manned mission to Mars begins the longest and most dangerous journey ever undertaken by humankind.
From hundreds of potential candidates, six astronauts from countries around the world are selected to crew the historic mission. Led by Commander Samantha Collins, they must travel across the gulf of interplanetary space, over 150 million miles from home and help. Their mission is to investigate alien life, but what they discover is far beyond what anyone ever imagined...

The Sun Dragon story continues in the Tau Ceti Mission

Review Highlights
"The crew went to Mars to find a small worm, evidence of life outside of earth. What they found was amazing. I love this premise and the uncompromising way it played out for the rest of the book."

"At the very end, there is one description that is so stunning that it left me with a great sadness, but also with a great sense of beauty and hope, and it is what Sun Dragon is, really. Look beyond the words, read the book with your imagination."

"I thoroughly enjoyed this. The level of detail about space flight is astounding and for someone, like me, who has fantasised about being an astronaut since I was a lad it's riveting."

Buy now from Amazon (US): http://amzn.to/ZRrQ5v
Buy now from Amazon (UK): http://amzn.to/12zV5eX

Follow on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thetaucetimission/

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Tau Ceti Mission - 29.07.2352 - Departure

Photo: Eso
As the Venti probe begins its journey to Epsilon Indi, Seb has a startling revelation:

http://www.taucetimission.com/2016/09/29072352-departure.html

Book Review - The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu

I loved this book. The first part of the trilogy was great, but this one manages to elevate itself above that. All the aspects that made the first book so good can be found here. There's some good, and interesting science here, which provide food for thought as well as a framework for the story. Being told from a Chinese perspective gives it a fresh feeling - I get the same sense from some Russian sci-fi as well. The cultural differences provide an additional layer to the tale which I appreciate.

The opening scene grabbed my attention immediately, and it's cleverly told from an ant's perspective, which helps bed the thought of the dark forest concept. In a book full of fascinating ideas, this really stood out for me, and on occasion I found myself musing on it.

The book is split into two, the first half concerns humanity's preparations for the alien invasion. The presence of the alien technology limits options, although many of the developments are as you'd expect, there's some different ideas here. The author does a splendid job of conveying and inferring a lot of information, without being bogged down in too many details.

The second half takes us into the future, and again the author's imagination is evident with how society has changed. The culture shock of those who awaken into this new world is well described, and brings a human element to the story. We see the ingenuity of humankind, but also learn more about the full capabilities of the Trisolarians before they reach Earth.

The only real issue I had with the book was one of the aspects of its conclusion. The ending itself works well, and fits the build-up, while still leaving the story open for the third book. But there's a part that's related to the human condition that is often used as a fundamental truth, or key difference for humanity, and for me it feels a little overused. Although many great sci-fi authors have used the same construct, so maybe it is a fundamental truth :-)

With the two books so far, I think this trilogy stands out as some of the finest modern science fiction. It demonstrates great imagination, but also understanding. These are books that any fan of the genre should check out.


This is the second novel in the "Three Body" near-future trilogy. Written by the China's multiple-award-winning science fiction author, Cixin Liu.

In Dark Forest, Earth is reeling from the revelation of a coming alien invasion—four centuries in the future. The aliens' human collaborators have been defeated, but the presence of the sophons, the subatomic particles that allow Trisolaris instant access to all human information, means that Earth's defense plans are exposed to the enemy. Only the human mind remains a secret.

This is the motivation for the Wallfacer Project, a daring plan that grants four men enormous resources to design secret strategies, hidden through deceit and misdirection from Earth and Trisolaris alike. Three of the Wallfacers are influential statesmen and scientists, but the fourth is a total unknown. Luo Ji, an unambitious Chinese astronomer and sociologist, is baffled by his new status. All he knows is that he's the one Wallfacer that Trisolaris wants dead.

Click here to buy The Dark Forest from Amazon


Currently Reading - Cabal by Clive Barker


For more than two decades, Clive Barker has twisted the worlds of horrific and surrealistic fiction into a terrifying, transcendent genre all his own. With skillful prose, he enthralls even as he horrifies; with uncanny insight, he disturbs as profoundly as he reveals. Evoking revulsion and admiration, anticipation and dread, Barker's works explore the darkest contradictions of the human condition: our fear of life and our dreams of death.

Click here to buy Cabal from Amazon


Saturday, 24 September 2016

The Five to Five Thousand Challenge - Michael Brookes

Welcome to the Five to Five Thousand Challenge - a new feature here on The Cult of Me blog. It's inspired by the notion that science fiction can be good (or not so good) at predicting the future. With that in mind the challenge is to describe aspects of the future in 5 years, 50 years, 500 years, and in 5,000 years time. Over the coming weeks and months, science fiction writers and other futurists will take part, but to kick things off I will be the first.

Let us see what I think awaits us in the future...


By Mrazvan22 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

In Five Years

Of all the time periods in the challenge I found this one the hardest. Perhaps because it's the easiest one to be proved wrong! Just watching the news, it's easy to extrapolate that some events are going to get worse before they get better. Climate change will continue as a major issue not being equally, or properly addressed on an international level. This, combined with continuing fighting in Syria and Iraq (and other hot spots) demonstrate that the United Nations isn't sufficient to lead the world in tackling critical issues. This vacuum will continue to be filled by the most powerful nations (no great surprise there), but I can see that China will become a bigger player in mediation.

With entertainment technology there has been a recent resurgence in virtual reality. I'm a big fan of VR, and working on Elite: Dangerous has really highlighted the potential for immersion. If you've not tried it yet then give it a try for yourself if you can. Exciting as VR is, I think it's going to be augmented reality that really makes an impact.

Augmented reality has been around for a while, most notably on mobile phones and provides another layer of information when viewing the world. A simple example is looking at a restaurant and seeing people's reviews for their food and service. Its limiting factor so far has been the presentation technology, Mobile phones are relatively common , but quite clumsy for this purpose. Wearable items such as Google Glass need further development to bring the cost down and make them more practical.

Holographic technology, and heads up displays in cars will also provide another route for augmented reality to enter our lives. While I doubt that the technical challenges will be solved in the next five years, there will be enough movement to start seeing its potential.

In Fifty Years

In fifty years we'll see ever increasing impacts of climate change. Hopefully they will be enough that real action is taken to counter it, but unfortunately it will be too late. There'll be some grand engineering schemes to try and counter the changes, and one of those will be a renewed purpose for space industrialisation. Asteroid mining will have started by this point, still at an experimental stage, but developed enough to provide a basis for shifting heavy industry into space. This is not only to counter environmental effects, but also to support a growing population.

It won't come from a single project, but will still require an unprecedented level of cooperation between nations, businesses and public agencies. This will true for efforts to tackling the worsening world situation. It won't be an easy process, and in some cases may well trigger more conflict.

Fuel and water grow scarcer, so provide more points on contention, and in some cases armed conflict. The only long term solution will be better collaboration on an international level. I'm going to be optimistic here and suggest that we'll achieve this, although it will have its rough spots. Some benefits for traditionally poorer countries is their source of sunlight, with vast solar arrays providing power and an economic boost for them.

For technology I think the greatest boost will be from functioning quantum computers. Combined with vast data analysis this gives us the tools for the complex planning needed to combat the threats the world faces.

In Five Hundred Years

Half a millennia will no doubt see an array of technical wonders, but I see the biggest change being that of society. By this point humanity will be an interplanetary society, and with such extensive automation that the need to work has been removed from daily life. This requires huge changes to the economic structure of the population. Commerce is now responsible for ensuring that everyone is given sufficient money to live a comfortable life. Plentiful, and cheap power, alongside drastic price reductions in common goods helps make this feasible.

With lives no longer focused on daily subsistence the nature of human behaviour changes. A greater emphasis is placed on individual creativity and learning. The population is connected by a super-internet, capable of supporting AI and virtual life, as well as sharing complete mind states of its human users. Human society will exist as much in this virtual realm as it does in the physical world.

Although most of the human population remains on Earth, a large proportion will live in space, either in orbital stations, or in colonies on the Moon, Mars, and beyond. This expansion develops a frontier spirit which many people have adopted and dedicate their lives to.

Thanks to AI and more human focus the time stands as a golden age for scientific and human development. It's not quite a utopia though. There is still a great deal of inequality, and the international bonds begin to break down as technology removes the need for cooperation. The development of new populations also increases divisions in society, reflecting the same trends in the virtual world. This sees the first conflicts in space, and wars waged in the virtual world.

In Five Thousand Years

Here we start seeing some esoteric changes to humanity. We can be found all over the Solar System, most of the population now lives in space, or colonies on various moons and planets. We've started reaching out for the stars, but up until this point humanity has remained much the same being as throughout history. By this stage humanity gains the ability to transform itself. Some of this occurs through natural means, from adaptions to new living environments such as different levels of gravity.

The greater changes come from personal choice, and social pressure. To operate in this sophisticated world requires an intelligence beyond the human norm. This forces many people to accept certain improvements to function, and also to adapt children with the same before they are born. The human form can also be drastically changed, and become a new form of expression. Medical advancements and the genetic editing of the body allow for much longer life spans.

This behaviour is most prevalent in the off world populations. On Earth there is friction between more traditional people, and the new diverse expressions. Earth becomes ever more isolated by these divisions, so much so that there is conflict between the two camps. The off world colonies mostly cut ties with their home world, and continue to expand further into space.

As the populations become ever more diverse, the common human culture weakens, and eventually fragments. It's not humanity that expands into the galaxy, but a new range of peoples whose physical evolution is in their hands.

You can read more of my thoughts about the future in Faust 2.0:


The Internet witnesses the emergence of a new entity.

Is it the rebirth of an ancient evil in a new realm? Or something more dangerous?

A sexy looking avatar is granting wishes for people across the Internet. But nothing is ever truly free and for those accepting the gifts a terrible price must be paid.

Sarah Mitchell must learn the truth of this creature and stop it while it can still be stopped. She must also find out why a mysterious lawyer is present at every step.

Faust 2.0 is the first book in the new Mitchell & Morton series.


Review Highlights

" Brookes has penned a very different kind of work that is reminiscent of Philip K. Dick’s themes with astounding clarity of thought and a lucid, impeccable, swift and precise narration."

"An interesting, modern take on an ancient tale."

"Over-all, this book is a compelling thriller, which also serves as a warning about letting computers play too big a role in our lives."

"The book has excellent characters, a great plot and a steady pace that always leaves you hungry for more."

"There should be a genre for CRACKING GOOD READ. This book would surely fit in here.
Looking forward to the next!"

Faust 2.0 is available from these online stores:

Buy now from Amazon (US): http://amzn.to/XQ5L77
Buy now from Amazon (UK): http://amzn.to/1csv15q
Buy now from Barnes & Noble (Nook): http://bit.ly/1nLA8BX
Buy now from Kobo: http://bit.ly/1rGRItx
Buy now from iTunes (US): https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id689253733
Buy now from iTunes (UK): https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/id689253733
Buy now from Page Foundry: http://bit.ly/1mSaDT3
Read now on Scribd: http://bit.ly/UWSGqE
Read now onm Oyster: https://www.oysterbooks.com/book/DgeEXfEtWQmBktv3RMzW2L/faust-20-mitchell-and-morton-1

Follow on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/Faust2point0


Friday, 23 September 2016

Magic Owl Collection - Dragon Moon T-shirrt



This Dragon Moon t-shirt is created from a painting by Katie W. Stewart as part of the Magic Owl collection.

The t-shirt is available in children's sizes Small to XL, Ladies size's Small to XXL, and Men's sizes small to XXXL.

https://oldonesproductions.com/collections/magic-owl/products/dragon-moon-t-shirt

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Old Ones Productions - Paint Your Own Mini Cthulhy Chess Pieces


3D printed Cthulhu inspired mini sized chess pieces which you can paint yourself..

“The Thing cannot be described - there is no language for such abysms of shrieking and immemorial lunacy, such eldritch contradictions of all matter, force, and cosmic order. A mountain walked or stumbled.

If I say that my somewhat extravagant imagination yielded simultaneous pictures of an octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature, I shall not be unfaithful to the spirit of the thing. A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary wings; but it was the general outline of the whole which made it most shockingly frightful.” 

These custom designed chess pieces would make an ideal gift for any Lovecraft fan.

Note that these pieces are made to order and may take up to 6 weeks to despatch.

This product is for the unpainted pieces only, there is no board included.

Original concept art by Luciana Nedelea and 3D modelling by Sergio Mengual.

The King piece is 1.7 inches / 4.5 cm tall.

The Pawn piece is 0.8 inches / 2.3 cm tall.

https://oldonesproductions.com/collections/chess-set/products/paint-your-own-mini-cthulhu-chess-pieces

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Magic Owl Collection - Napoleon Ponyparte T-shirt


A t-shirt for horse lovers and historians alike!

Napoleon Ponyparte is a featured characters from Katie W. Stewart's 'Famous Animals' series.

The t-shirt is available in children's sizes Small to XL, Ladies size's Small to XXL, and Men's sizes small to XXXL.

https://oldonesproductions.com/collections/magic-owl/products/napolean-ponyparte-t-shirt

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Monday, 19 September 2016

Have You Read The Cult of Me?


In my youth I developed a talent for reading other people’s minds and with practice, forcing my will upon them. I have never encountered anyone capable of resisting my thoughts and for a time I enjoyed the fruits of my power. A terrible tragedy led me to a darker place and then I wielded my ability not simply to satisfy my desires but to torment and judge the throng of humanity around me.

Years passed until I realised that my life lacked meaning and I lived without purpose. It wasn’t a difficult change to make. And with that choice I have one final act to inflict upon the world and they will remember my name with fear for ages to come.

The Cult of Me is the first book in The Third Path trilogy.


Review Highlights

"An Enjoyable Romp through a Tortured Mind"

"This book is so hard to define. It’s a dark, psychological thriller but also philosophical, metaphysical and totally unusual."

"In The Cult Of Me, Michael Brookes has created one of the most memorable villains I have ever read about - and he is sort of the good guy of the story."

"Whatever genre you read I would recommend this book, it's not quite horror, not quite fantasy and to be honest I'm not entirely sure where this would sit. But, whatever its genre it's good and that's really all that matters."

The Cult of Me is available from these online stores:

Buy now from Amazon (US): http://amzn.to/1onGoyo
Buy now from Amazon (UK): http://amzn.to/Ot1Ze1
Buy now from Barnes & Noble (Nook): http://bit.ly/1pGQMUu
Buy now from iTunes (US): https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id639396634
Buy now from iTunes (UK): https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/id639396634
Buy now from Kobo: http://bit.ly/1jrsHxq
Buy now from Page Foundry: http://bit.ly/1o1t6rD
Read now on Scribd: http://bit.ly/1mliOB5
Read now on Oyster: http://bit.ly/1LFbYaJ

Follow on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Third-Path-Trilogy/135021196680047
The Cult of Me on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15778078-the-cult-of-me

Magic Owl Collection - Attila the Hen T-shirt

The world is yours with this Attila the Hen t-shirt!

Attila the Hen is one of the featured characters from Katie W. Stewart's 'Famous Animals' series.

The t-shirt is available in children's sizes Small to XL, Ladies size's Small to XXL, and Men's sizes small to XXXL.

https://oldonesproductions.com/collections/magic-owl/products/attila-the-hen-t-shirt



Sunday, 18 September 2016

Friday, 16 September 2016

Magic Owl Collection - Keep Flying T-shirt


Whatever it takes - Keep Flying! with this inspirational t-shirt from the Magic Owl collection.

It's available in children's sizes Small to XL, Ladies size's Small to XXL, and Men's sizes small to XXXL.

https://oldonesproductions.com/collections/magic-owl/products/keep-flying-t-shirt

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Magic Owl Collection - Dragon and Wizard Print


A quality high resolution A3 art print of Katie W. Stewart's Dragon and Wizard painting from the Magic Owl Collection.

This picture makes an ideal gift for lovers of dragons and magic of all ages.

https://oldonesproductions.com/collections/prints/products/dragon-wizard-print

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Book Review - Excession by Ian M Banks

This is one of my most read books. I love reading it, and enjoy it as much each time I read it as I did the first time. Not only is it my favourite book of the author's (it demonstrates what he did so well), it also illustrates what for me, makes science fiction such a fascinating genre.

My favourite sci-fi stories are built on big questions, and the core if this story is what is called an 'out of context event'. This is an event, or encounter that is so far beyond our experience or understanding that we are powerless to comprehend, let alone react to it. The Excession itself is an intriguing concept, and discovering new elements of it throughout the story was a real pull. It was also tinged with a little sadness that we will never know if there was more to tell of this event. Naturally the existence of this object draws the attention of the major players in the galaxy, and that sparks the main plot for the book.

There are other great ideas here than just the excession, one in particular is the concept of Infinite Fun, a pass time for the AI where they create universes to explore, or tweak. One of the flaws in this book is that this concept could have been developed further, but is only really introduced in this story.

For me, Ian M Banks' greatest creations were the Minds (the capital M is important! :-) ), and they are the real stars of the story. They are colossal intellects which govern the ships, and orbitals of the Culture and other races. I appreciated how the communications between them were portrayed, and he does an amazing job of showing how differently they think, not only compared to humans, but to each other. If the excession is the centre point, then the Minds are the meat of the story.

Which leads us to the human characters. They aren't quite so well drawn as the ship Minds. They provide some contrast but lack some of the depth, some of their action also feels a little contrived in how it fits along with the main action. It did illuminate a point I've considered before with the author's Culture novels in particular. His characters all tend to be quite exceptional in some manner, and it's very difficult to get a grasp of the everyday person in that universe. It no doubt says something about the Culture universe that maybe such a thing doesn't exist, but it does mean that it's difficult to place individuals within their society.

And then we have the Affront. In this story they are the quintessential alien bad-guys. But he avoids the faceless enemy trope with some fun interactions with them early on in the story. They are ridiculously cruel, but also have a certain energy about them that makes them stand out. They might not be the most imaginative aliens ever created, but they are a lot of fun!

 So I've now read this book at least a dozen times, and it remains a firm favourite of mine. If you've not read any of the author's other works, then it might not be the best one to start with, buit well worth a read.


Two and a half millennia ago, the artifact appeared in a remote corner of space, beside a trillion-year-old dying sun from a different universe. It was a perfect black-body sphere, and it did nothing. Then it disappeared.

Now it is back.

Click here to buy Excession from Amazon


Currently Reading - The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu


This is the second novel in the "Three Body" near-future trilogy. Written by the China's multiple-award-winning science fiction author, Cixin Liu.

In Dark Forest, Earth is reeling from the revelation of a coming alien invasion—four centuries in the future. The aliens' human collaborators have been defeated, but the presence of the sophons, the subatomic particles that allow Trisolaris instant access to all human information, means that Earth's defense plans are exposed to the enemy. Only the human mind remains a secret.

This is the motivation for the Wallfacer Project, a daring plan that grants four men enormous resources to design secret strategies, hidden through deceit and misdirection from Earth and Trisolaris alike. Three of the Wallfacers are influential statesmen and scientists, but the fourth is a total unknown. Luo Ji, an unambitious Chinese astronomer and sociologist, is baffled by his new status. All he knows is that he's the one Wallfacer that Trisolaris wants dead.

Click here to buy The Dark Forest from Amazon


Sunday, 11 September 2016

Tau Ceti Mission - 27.05.2352 - Plans

By Jon Lomberg - http://www.gemini.edu/science/epsilonindi.html, Public Domain,

Seb determines how the Venti probe can make another journey, this time to Epsilon Indi:

http://www.taucetimission.com/2016/09/27052352-plans.html

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Magic Owl Collection - Harp Troll T-Shirt


Music soothes the savage beast, although the tune from this young troll's harp might not be so peaceful!

Harp troll is painted by Katie W. Stewart, and is from the Magic Owl Collection.

The t-shirt is available in black or white, and in children's sizes Small to XL, Ladies size's Small to XXL, and Men's sizes small to XXXL.

https://oldonesproductions.com/products/harp-troll-t-shirt



Friday, 9 September 2016

Old Ones Productions - Demon by Candlelight Painting


You can buy this original painting by Luciana Nedelea from the Old Ones Productions store:

A cloaked demon mounts an ornate staircase, shrouded in smoke.

Size is 21cm x 21 cm.

https://oldonesproductions.com/collections/original-art/products/demon-by-candlelight-painting


Thursday, 8 September 2016

Magic Owl Collection - Sir Winston Churchmouse T-shirt

Keep a stiff upper lip with the Sir Winston Churchmouse t-shirt!

Sir Winston Churchmouse is one of the featured characters from Katie W. Stewart's 'Famous Animals' series.

The t-shirt is available in children's sizes Small to XL, Ladies size's Small to XXL, and Men's sizes small to XXXL.

https://oldonesproductions.com/collections/magic-owl/products/sir-winston-churchmouse-t-shirt



Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Magic Owl Collection - Edgar Allan Hippo T-Shirt



Discover the animal personas of great people from history with Katie W. Stewart's Famous Animals series.

Edgar Allan Poe is cast as Edgar Allan Hippo in this artwork from the Magic Owl Collection.

"Edgar Allan Hippo: wrote horror stories, mostly about mud."

The t-shirt is available in black or white, and in children's sizes Small to XL, Ladies size's Small to XXL, and Men's sizes small to XXXL.

https://oldonesproductions.com/products/edgar-allan-hippo-t-shirt

Old Ones Productions - Cthulhu Chess Set


A 3D printed, hand painted Cthulhu inspired chess set with a  board with two inch tiles.

“The Thing cannot be described - there is no language for such abysms of shrieking and immemorial lunacy, such eldritch contradictions of all matter, force, and cosmic order. A mountain walked or stumbled.

If I say that my somewhat extravagant imagination yielded simultaneous pictures of an octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature, I shall not be unfaithful to the spirit of the thing. A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary wings; but it was the general outline of the whole which made it most shockingly frightful.” 

All pieces have weighted bases and felt pads to protect the boards.

This is a unique chess set that would make an ideal gift for any Lovecraft fan.

Note that these sets are made to order and may take up to 6 weeks to despatch.

Pieces are hand painted so may vary slightly from the photos.

The board is sourced to order to match the selected piece colours so may vary from the one shown.

Original concept art by Luciana Nedelea and 3D modelling by Sergio Mengual.

The King piece is 2.6 inches / 6.7 cm tall.

The Pawn piece is 1.7 inches / 4.5 cm tall.

https://oldonesproductions.com/collections/chess-set/products/hand-painted-cthulhu-chess-set

Monday, 5 September 2016

This Dragon Soars from the Magic Owl Collection


Dragons are meant to fly! Allow this one to spread its wings on this latest t-shirt from the Magic Owl Collection.

Original artwork by Katie W. Stewart.

The t-shirt is available in black or white, and in children's sizes Small to XL, Ladies size's Small to XXL, and Men's sizes small to XXXL.

https://oldonesproductions.com/products/flying-dragon-t-shirt-1


Sunday, 4 September 2016

Dragon Hoard T-Shirt in White & Black from the Magic Owl Collection




A dragon sits proudly upon it's hoard of golden treasure. This t-shirt is created from artwork by Katie W. Stewart from the Magic Owl Collection.

The t-shirt is available in black or white, and in children's sizes Small to XL, Ladies size's Small to XXL, and Men's sizes small to XXXL.

https://oldonesproductions.com/products/dragon-hoard-t-shirt-1

Tau Ceti Mission - 18.05.2352 - A Change of Plan


By NASA/JPL-Caltech - Double the Rubble, Public Domain

Seb makes a bold decision in this latest report from the Venti probe in Tau Ceti:

http://www.taucetimission.com/2016/09/18052352-change-of-plan.html

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Book Review - Magician by Raymond E. Feist

The Rift War Saga is one of my favourite fantasy series. I don't read as much fantasy as I used to, and I wanted to revisit the world I'd read so much of years ago. The world grabbed me as immediately as it did before and I enjoyed re-reading it as much as the first time - perhaps more.

The book (and the series) greatest strength is the world build. It's richly portrayed and supported by detail that isn't revealed. This is in part due to the author basing the core tenets on civilisations that are familiar from history, but also drawing something new from each. It also captures well the glimpse of the world beyond the confines of the story. As I've previously read the rest in the series I know what it expands into - and I"m looking forward to re-visiting those as well!

Of course, a well realised world isn't enough on its own, and the events of the story develop into something quite epic. And yet it remains quite a personal story for the main characters. These are as richly presented as the world they inhabit. Great care is taken to describe the feelings of those involved, so they are not puppets for the plot. Although I would say that this is also the only real complaint I have about the writing - that the author tries too hard with this aspect.

But that's a minor complaint. The writing is accessible, without being simple. For a reasonably long book the pacing is good, and the plot draws you through the pages. For me, this remains one of the classics of modern fantasy.


To the forest on the shore of the Kingdom of the Isles, the orphan Pug came to study with the master magician Kulgan. His courage won him a place at court and the heart of a lovely Princess, but he was ill at ease with normal wizardry. Yet his strange magic may save two worlds from dark beings who opened spacetime to renew the age-old battle between Order and Chaos.

Click here to buy Magician from Amazon



Currently Reading - Excession by Ian M. Banks


Two and a half millennia ago, the artifact appeared in a remote corner of space, beside a trillion-year-old dying sun from a different universe. It was a perfect black-body sphere, and it did nothing. Then it disappeared.

Now it is back.

Click here to buy Excession from Amazon


Thursday, 1 September 2016

Dragon Fire T-Shirt From The Magic Owl Collection


Feel the heat of dragon fire with this t-shirt from the Magic Owl collection.

The t-shirt is available in children's sizes Small to XL, Ladies size's Small to XXL, and Men's sizes small to XXXL.

Original artwork by Katie W. Stewart.

https://oldonesproductions.com/products/dragon-fire-t-shirt


Fantasy Football Chess Set


For fans of Blood Bowl and other fantasy football games a hand painted fantasy football chess set with a classic match-up between Elves and Orcs.
All figures are mounted on textured bases which have been weighted and felt bottomed for easier movement and protection of the board.
The board in the pictures is included.
The Elven team is painted in forest silver and contains the following:
  • The pawns are the swift and agile linemen (a mix of plastic and metal figures).
  • Two massive Treemen provides the strength and the vulnerability of the team as the King and Queen (metal pieces).
  • Deadly wardancers protect the flanks as the Rooks (metal figures).
  • Sly Wood Witches confuse and penetrate the opponent's ranks with their magic as the Knights (metal figures).
  • Throwers confound the opponents with their cross pitch diagonals as the Bishops (metal figures).
The Orc team is painted in war-torn bronze and contains the following:
  • Brutish linemen form the battle line of pawns (plastic figures).
  • Hulking Trolls are the heart of the team as the King and Queen (metal figures).
  • Mighty Black Orcs guard the flanks with their strength as the Rooks ( plastic figures).
  • Cunning Goblin Catchers skip through the defence as the Knights (plastic figures).
  • Throwers provide the diagonal movements as the Bishops (plastic figures).

https://oldonesproductions.com/collections/chess-set/products/fantasy-football-chess-set





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