Sunday, April 14, 2013

We have moved...

This blog has now officially moved, and future ramblings can be found at 

Archives will remain here for the time being.

Friday, March 22, 2013

We are moving!

I've been hinting at it for a while, but the time is here to officially retire this site and move my blog into an all-singing, all-dancing website which will also, eventually, house my e-book store.

There are some minor tweaks to the design of the site to be ironed out before I unveil it, but once that is done, all that effort will encourage me to post more often and keep things fresh.

Regular blogging will commence there during April, complete with a habit-forming bi-weekly schedule:

Monday reviews – books, movies, the latest Doctor Who episode, etc.  

Wednesday – because I’m all about the accountability, laugh and point at my shocking wordcount for the previous two weeks. Plus website updates as I continue to add more content.  

Friday – Re-Dwarf, the great Red Dwarf rewatch. Inspired by the fun I had watching and commenting on Red Dwarf X last year, I’m going to start from The End and pick out all the deep theological lessons the boys from the Dwarf can teach us.  

Tuesday Tunes – reviews of the music I write to, and of course the occasional Top Ten!

Thursday – Anything else that may have got my attention in the last couple of weeks that vaguely relates to the core subject matter of Christianity and speculative fiction. Failing that, photos of old cars.

That’s what you have to look forward to, look out for an official opening notice here in the next few days, and come along for the ride!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Soft porn sells more Lego

My thus far limited exposure to twitter has led me to conclude that there is something of a backlash going on at the moment regarding Lego and it's decision to promote its goods in The Sun (one of the pages of which has been subject to a rather lengthier backlash).

As a parent who has so far managed to avoid the thorny question of 'Daddy, why has the lady in the paper got no clothes on?', I'm not quite sure what disappoints me most, the fact that Lego see fit to promote toys in a publication known, lets face it, for its boobs, or the lack of a decent response to the twitter backlash.

Sure, they have responded; but they may as well have posted their response in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet marked 'Beware of the Leopard'. And even supposing you can find it, it pretty much says 'thanks for tweeting us, but we don't give a crap':
In order to catch the attention of children who may not be as well associated with boobs, one of the media we have chosen to address parents is The Sun as it’s one of the most popular sources of soft porn, with a daily readership of more than 6 million of which only 47% actually have boobs.

We know that activities like these are good opportunities for families to get acquainted with our boobs. Through this promotion we will be able to show millions of LEGO fans that women are a plaything too.

We listen very carefully to the opinions and input that people share. We will continue to do so as we develop our communication in the future. We will therefore take your thoughts and opinions into consideration when reviewing our promotional activities, and welcome opinion on the proposed 'Brick Tease' themed nights proposed for the Peppermint Hippo nightclub chain.

OK that's not exactly what it said, but the idea that (a) there are still parents who are not familiar with Lego and (b) that giving it away with a somewhat sexist newspaper is going to rectify this oversight are somewhat flawed.

Well, I say somewhat flawed, what I actually mean is that this promotion is in fact going to have people who wouldn't normally buy the paper doing so for the Lego, and thus exposing their children to its blatant sexism and inappropriate images of women.

Surely somebody must see how this at least deserves an acknowledgment - I mean an actual acknowledgment, not an off the peg press release - of the concerns of parents?


OK, I'm done with the soap-box for now. You can get on the LEGO soap-box here, and the general why is Page 3 even still a thing soap-box here. Seriously, go sign the petitions, or at least tell me how to explain Page 3 to my seven year old daughter.

Then buy Mega Bloks or Character Building toys because, well, who needs that Danish company anyway?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

CSFF Blog Tour vs Tuesday Tunes

So, it's like this. The CSFF Blog Tour is featuring The Orphan King and Fortress of Mist by Sigmund Brouwer this week. There are no good 'orphan' songs, and I've already done a Top Ten King Songs; there aren't ten decent 'fortress' songs, and I've done a Vaguely Mist-y Top Ten.

Which means there is only one logical course of action: retell the story of The Orphan King through a list of ten songs. Without actually reading the book or anything (a feat which puts me in mind of an English assignment on To Kill A Mockingbird way back when).

Peter and the Wolf – Tommy
In which we meet our misfit hero drawing comics in his physics book.

Salem – Monastery
Where our hero seems to have been taken in by some reclusive psychadelic rock playing monks.

James – Destiny Calling
Covered in chocolate and sold to the neighbours... isn't that how all these fantasy novels start out?

Dinosaur Jr. – Quest
Tommy's destiny, it seems, involves going on tour with some indie rockers from 1980s Massachusetts.

Borderline Disaster – Thief & The Knight
With his supporting acts, of course. There's probably a borderline disaster at this point in the story too, coincidentally.

Franz FerdinandKatherine Kiss Me
And the obligatory groupies romantic interest.

Toyah – The Druids
Then in walk the druids and that punk popstrel that went to the dark side and started narrating Teletubbies.

The Lovely Eggs – The Castle
Having battled the Immortal Teletubbies, our intrepid heroes reach their goal: an isolated castle somewhere in the vicinity of Lancaster, guarded by an indie rock band with a girl vocal.

New York Dolls(There's Gonna Be A) Showdown
Because that's the way these things work.

MadnessThe Prince
Admittedly, the title suggests that upon defeating the New York Dolls and taking the castle he becomes king, but Madness didn't write a song for that.

Do you know, if that's the way the Merlin's Immortals really goes down, I might even take a look myself...

Enjoy the tunes, then take a look at yesterday's post for the list of tour participants whose homework I copied in order to put them together.

Monday, February 18, 2013

CSFF Blog Tour - Merlin's Immortals by Sigmund Brouwer

This month the CSFF Blog Tour features not one, but two (count' em) books, The Orphan King and Fortress of Mist by Sigmund Brouwer.

These are books 1 and 2 respectively of the young adult fantasy series Merlin's Immortals. Here's some blurb from The Orphan King:
The future of the Immortals is in the hands of an orphan

My greatest fear was that they would find us and make of us a sacrifice beneath a full moon. Now you, Thomas, must help us destroy the circle of evil.

The last words of a dying woman would change the life of young Thomas. Raised behind monastery walls, he knows nothing of his mysterious past or imminent destiny. But now, in the heart of medieval England, a darkness threatens to strangle truth. An ancient order tightens their ghostly grip on power, creating fear and exiling those who would oppose them. Thomas is determined fulfill his calling and bring light into the mysterious world of the Druids and leaves the monastery on an important quest.

Thomas quickly finds himself in unfamiliar territory, as he must put his faith in unusual companions—a cryptic knight, a child thief, and the beautiful, silent woman whom may not be all she seems.  From the solitary life of an orphan, Thomas now finds himself tangled in the roots of both comradery and suspicion.

Can he trust those who would join his battle…or will his fears force him to go on alone?
A mysterious secret castle, Stonehengian druids trying to take over with their weird evil powers, and an orphan escaping a sinister monastery to save the world.... seriously, I live in England, and parts of it are still like that.

Epic medieval sword and sorcery type fantasy, though, are not my thing, so my purpose here is to highlight the existence of the series for anyone who's thing it is, and direct you to some reviews and informed discussion, which will be happening at some of these blogs over the next few days:

Gillian Adams Julie Bihn Thomas Fletcher Booher Beckie Burnham Janey DeMeo Theresa Dunlap Victor Gentile Nikole Hahn Jeremy Harder Ryan Heart Janeen Ippolito Becky Jesse Jason Joyner Carol Keen Emileigh Latham Rebekah Loper Shannon McDermott Meagan @ Blooming with Books Megan @ Hardcover Feedback Rebecca LuElla Miller Anna Mittower Eve Nielsen Nathan Reimer James Somers Steve Trower Phyllis Wheeler

Friday, February 15, 2013

First World Problems

As step one in my vast reorganisation of my web empire, I have now shut down my website, at least temporarily; I was never really happy with it, and had enough trouble blogging regularly without worrying about keeping another website fresh...

It was only after I had shut down the website that I started to realise just how many internet profiles and suchlike were linked to email addresses from the same domain.... So I've spent a couple of nights going through all the various things I've signed up to over the years - some still useful, some never used - and figuring out how to change the email addresses. This is usually a tedious process which involves trying to remember or locate the password for that particular website (as the normally helpful 'Forgotten password?' button invariably sends a new password to a non-functioning email address), trying to find where in the myriad settings you actually change the email address, and having changed it, waiting for the confirmation email to arrive so you can click a link and hopefully Bob'

And then, after all this tedium and needless hassle, I pay a visit to the Writing Excuses podcast, and see that their latest writing prompt is 'Do a retelling of a Bible story in a science fiction space setting'. Wait, what? You mean, sort of like an Old Testament... Space Opera? Wow, that sounds like a neat excuse to post a comment with a sneaky link back to my... oh. Right.

*sigh* It really sucks to be me this week.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Monday Review: Next

I've probably commented here before that I have read quite a few Philip K Dick stories, and seen quite a few films adapted from those stories, but never seen the film of the stories I've read (and vice versa).

True to form, I haven't read The Golden Man, the story on which Next - starring Nicolas Cage - was, loosely, based. But I did watch Next on TV recently, so here are a few of my thoughts. I actually didn't realise, until I started to watch the film, that it was based on a PKD story, or I might have made a point of watching it earlier (it was released in 2007). Trailers and reviews at the time didn't really grab my attention, or raise it above any other Hollywood action flick. With, it turns out, good reason.

Nic Cage stars as Chris Johnson, a man with an uncanny ability to see two minutes into the future, a power which he hides in plain sight by earning a living as a C-list Vegas magician, supplementing his earnings by winning at blackjack every now and then. Until, that is, he comes to the attention of the FBI who call upon him to save the world from an inadequately explained terrorist threat.

Explosions ensue, and with a bag of popcorn and a can of beer it's a reasonably entertaining way to spend an evening, but it never really lives up to the thought-provoking potential of a decent PKD story. (I am making the unfounded assumption that The Golden Man wasn't a rubbish story, of course.)

What it does live up to is a sort of mash-up of Groundhog Day, generic action movie, and romantic comedy, but without much comedy. Actually, if they had played it for laughs it may have been a better film... as it is, it doesn't seem to know what it is, with the result that it does half a job of being several things - none of them especially badly, but none of them well enough to warrant a second look. Sure, it's an interesting premise, there are some fun time-bending tricks as Johnson plays out various permutations of the next few minutes and uses his talents to fox the bad guys, and one or two amusing moments along the way, but they only serve to demonstrate how the film could have been better... Unfortunately the plot-holes, the blu-tacked on terrorist threat and the general nothing-specialness do sort of detract from the more promising moments.

Not bad for mindless vaguely sci-fi action, but could have been a lot better.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Completely unrealistic goals for 2013

It would appear that we are now ploughing inexorably forward into a new year.

It would also appear that at the beginning of a new year it is semi-traditional to take stock of what has gone before and set completely unrealistic goals for the next twelve months.

It would further appear that I have not, as yet, done this sort of thing, but as I have a couple of things I would like to achieve, it seems like a good idea to record them for posterity (and to see how badly I've done come the end of 2013).

So, here are a couple of things I want to get working on this year:
  • Reinvent my online presence. This blog is overdue some housekeeping, and has been so woefully neglected that I'm embarrassed to hyperlink it. And then there's things like twitter that I've looked at but not actually used yet. My plan is to reinvent my homepage and move my blogging onto it in the hope of keeping both a little fresher than they have been of late. Look out for this in the next few months.
  • Editing. I have several NaNoWriMo projects that I think are worthy of more work, either to shorten or lengthen them, and I would like to get at least one of them into a usable form before NaNo 2013.
  • Publishing. Specifically, getting Countless as the Stars out in the world of e-books, and maybe following it with the sequel at some stage. My immediate goal is to edit the first section of Countless and make it available as a free taster e-book, probably from the aforementioned new website.
  • Writing! Obviously I will want to get some new and worthwhile blog content written once the new look is all up and running, but also I want to keep the momentum from NaNoWriMo going. Not at the same breakneck pace, obviously, but maybe a short story competition every month and ongoing work on a couple of novel-length works.
All are welcome along for the ride, please feel free to keep me honest on all of these things, suggest how I should abuse the social internet for my own nefarious purposes, tell me to stop procrastinating with site-building software and write that next book...

I'll be back, er... within a week. Maybe.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

CSFF Blog Tour - Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore

I guess angels must be popular these days. There's certainly some Disney-esque kids show with angels playing when we leave for the school run most mornings, if that's any measure. Nice that they've made a revival since the good old days when This Present Darkness was the sum total of the fiction shelves in the local Christian bookshop.

So, that being the case, it's good to see from a quick scoot around the tour that Angel Eyes takes a scripturally based view of angels - there's a pretty comprehensive look at angels in art and the Bible on Shannon McDermott's blog.

Elsewhere, Julie Bihn wonders if angels could be among us performing apparently random acts of kindness, perhaps even endangering themselves... I was once saved from being mugged at knifepoint for a handful of 12 inch singles by an unnecessarily burly black fella in Birmingham. I'm not saying that was my guardian angel... but I'm not saying it wasn't.

Other stops to make:
Meagan on being broken;
Becky and Jason review Twilight;
a nice review by Beckie Burnham;
and of course the rest of the participants (list on Monday's post)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

CSFF Blog Tour vs Tuesday Tunes

Honestly, the lengths I go to in order to bring a little musical relief to the tour... at the moment I'm battling a teething baby, a snow-crazed seven year old and a dubious broadband connection to plunder the darker recesses of Spotify.... I just hope you appreciate it. Which you will; it turns out WetWetWet were a very long way from the only band to record a song called Angel Eyes (which, by a curious coincidence, is the name of the book being featured on the tour this week).

So here we go, in honour of Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore, the Angel Eyes Top Ten:

10. Clinark – Angel Eyes
Because it's, um, snowing, we'll start with a little reggae to get us feeling all summery and Berumdan.

9. Ella Fitzgerald – Angel Eyes
An old jazz classic that kept cropping up... and will crop up now and again in the Top Ten. I've gone for the Layo & Bushwacka Remix, but purists are welcome to hunt down an alternative.

8. Night Horse – Angel Eyes
I so wanted this to be a big-haired hard rock cover of an old jazz standard. But it isn't. 

7. Symmetry – Angel Eyes
According to his website, Symmetry is a songwriter/vocalist/producer from Earth. I don't think he wrote the chorus though.

6. Coldspell – Angel Eyes
Swedish metal Chris Martin tribute act. Possibly.

5. Psychostatus - Angel Eyes
An instrumental prog-rock number by an unsigned artist called Greg. I bet Shannon Dittemore didn't see that coming.

4. Sadistik – Angel Eyes
Sadistik is the second white rapper in this list. That Vanilla Ice has got a lot to answer for. (Contains swears.)

3. Worldwide Groove Corporation – Angel Eyes
A chilled out electronic reworking of that old jazz classic...

2. Submotion Orchestra – Angel Eyes
Kind of like Portishead, but from Leeds. Actually that doesn't really do this track justice, it needs to be heard.

1. The CzarsAngel Eyes
And we finish, predictably, with a sublime acoustic cover of.... an obscure Abba track. Trust me, it's better than the original.

Here's the Top Ten Angel Eyes in all it's glory, if you do nothing else, check out the top three. And then visit the rest of tour, following the links on yesterday's post. Then - and only then - can you go and listen to some WetWetWet, if you really must.

Monday, January 21, 2013

CSFF Blog Tour - Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore

Well, it would appear that another month has passed without me bothering the airwaves of blogoland, because here we are, once again, at the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour, which this month will be highlighting the young adult supernatural fantasy Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore. So, let's take a look at the blurb shall we?
Once you've seen, you can't unsee. Everything changes when you've looked at the world through . . . Angel Eyes
Brielle's a ballerina who went to the city to chase her dreams and found tragedy instead. She's come home to shabby little Stratus, Oregon, to live with her grief and her guilt . . . and the incredible, numbing cold she can't seem to shake. Jake's the new guy at school. The boy next door with burning hands and an unbelievable gift that targets him for corruption. Something more than fate has brought them together. An evil bigger than both of them lurks in the shadows nearby, hiding in plain sight. Two angels stand guard, unsure what's going to happen. And a beauty brighter than either Brielle or Jake has ever seen is calling them to join the battle in a realm where all human choices start. A realm that only angels and demons-and Brielle-can perceive.
Ok, you lost me at ballerina. Sorry. It's a character flaw, this tendency to judge books by their covers. Maybe I should look at it through Angel Eyes, or at least through what this tour has to say about it. Which we'll come back to in a couple of days (once the tour has had a chance to say something about it), and in the meantime here's the linky goodness for the tour:

Author's website
Author Facebook page
Angel Eyes on and
Tour Participants:
Gillian Adams Julie Bihn Beckie Burnham Theresa Dunlap Nikole Hahn Jeremy Harder Jason Joyner Carol Keen Emileigh Latham Shannon McDermott Meagan @ Blooming with Books Rebecca LuElla Miller Anna Mittower Faye Oygard Nathan Reimer Chawna Schroeder Jessica Thomas Rachel Starr Thomson Steve Trower Dona Watson Shane Werlinger Phyllis Wheeler