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Preview: Old Testament Space Opera

Old Testament Space Opera the intersection of science-fiction and Christianity....

Updated: 2018-03-02T18:23:18.692+01:00


We have moved...


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

Archives will remain here for the time being.

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!

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?

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.

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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 orphanMy 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[...]

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.

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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.

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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.

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)

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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.
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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 EyesBrielle'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 websiteAuthor Facebook pageAngel Eyes on and 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 [...]

CSFF Blog Tour - Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl


As I mentioned yesterday, I'm easing myself back into the internet by way of the CSFFBT, just in time for a Christmas break. Yes, there is a madness in my method, honest.

Anyway, Starflower. It's a fairy tale, which, if I'm not mistaken, is not a genre well known for its use of aliens and time travel. I'm not averse to an occasional episode of Grimm, but otherwise this is not something that would ordinarily show up on my reading list. Which begs the obvious question: why am I here?

Well, basically, to give yesterday's music post a context. But while I'm here, lets point you to some of the highlights of the tour, for any passing visitors with a little more interest in the featured book:

The chance to win a copy courtesy of Gillian Adams
Shannon McSomething looks at the importance of names
There's an interview with the author at Blooming with Books
A mixture of reviews, good and not quite so good, including one by a younger reader (interesting as Starflower is a young adult book)

And don't forget you can visit the author's own blog, or facebook her.

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CSFF Blog Tour vs Tuesday Tunes


After all the frantic novelling of November, and the returning to real life (interrupted by all the Christmas stuff), internetting has sort of tailed off a little this month. But do not fear, for the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour is back this week, featuring Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. Starflower is the fourth in the young adult fairytale series, The Tales of Goldstone Wood, which seems like a good excuse to send the Spotify elves off to choose this weeks soundtrack: The Top Ten Fairytale Songs.10. Wob – RapunzelLook, I just wanted an excuse to say 'Wob'. Try it, it's oddly saisfying. Wob.9. John Otway – RumplestiltskinAngry Cockney-punk version of the Grimm tale... Give us the baby!8. Outlandish - The Emperor's New BeatToday's obscure foreign entry: Danish hip-hop. Slightly sweary.7. Rush – Cinderella ManBecause we love a bit of prog rock around these parts.6. Green Jelly – Three Little PigsIs this so bad it's good, or is it just bad? I'm honestly not sure...5. A-ha – Cry WolfThere's something about listening to a-ha that takes me back to my youth, growing up in the little country town of Morten Harket...4. Grass Widow – Goldilocks ZoneThis is one of those tracks that is just better listened to than described.3. David Bowie – Beauty and the BeastI don't even know why I do this bit since you can just listen if you're interested...2. Spin Doctors – Two PrincesI have no idea if there's actually a fairy tale called Two Princes, but there must at least be one about two princes.1. Evanescence – Snow White QueenWob.And you can listen to all this with the gadget below, and while you enjoy that, pay a visit to some of these bloggers, also discussing Starflower: Gillian Adams Beckie Burnham Nikole Hahn Bruce Hennigan Janeen Ippolito Carol Keen Emileigh Latham Shannon McDermott Meagan @ Blooming with Books Rebecca LuElla Miller Anna Mittower Rachel Starr Thomson Robert Treskillard Steve Trower Dona Watson Shane Werlinger Phyllis Wheeler allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="380" src="" width="300">[...]



Time for one last progress report...

Day Twenty Two

Tired, I have cheated the word count a bit – there is no room for the apostrophe in NaNoLand. Also went back to a secondary character for a different perspective on things.

Day Twenty Three 

Managed to drag myself up to 38k by 2am. Most of it was decent story, although I am a bit concerned now that Matthew Smith, my eponymous hero, is the most completely two dimensional of all my characters.

Day Twenty Four 

The Travelling Shovel of Death turned up today, which was nice. So did Yosemite Sam, which was odd. Still, somehow managed to power through and get back on track by about 1.30am.

Day Twenty Five 

Powered through 2000 words today, getting myself ahead of the curve for the first time. Still lots of ideas coming, and still just as many things that are going to have to be taken out in the edit…

Day Twenty Six 

Another 2000 word day, creeping ahead now in the hope of finishing a bit early. The home stretch is always easiest, although I still have no idea how to get to the climax, and there’s a whole bunch of good stuff that hasn’t been used properly!

Day Twenty Seven 

Almost a day ahead at the close of today; did a good bit a Shovel of Death carnage during today’s write, and brought the heroes together in preparation for the final battle…

Day Twenty Eight 

Deliberately a short day today, because I knew if I started the final approach to the climax I would just want to finish it…. Wrote about 1100 words and left the rest for a final charge tomorrow night.

Day Twenty Nine

So far 2200 words written tonight, the big final showdown is about to commence…. Aiming to get past the 50,000 words mark tonight, whether that means ending the story or not remains to be seen…

Tuesday Tunes - The Ballad of Matthew Smith: First Draft Soundtrack


The soundtrack to the book has been slowly developing as I’ve been writing; some of the tracks are things I've listened to while writing, others tracks that just sprung into mind at particular points.

The tracklist is more or less in the order events happen in the current draft, which is to say not even close to the final order. It’s a fairly electic mix too: there’s some Blur, Blondie, the Beastie Boys and the B-52s, and a bunch of artists who don’t begin with a B, as well as several versions of the Blue Danube Waltz, Moonlight Sonata and If I Were A Rich Man.

And by this point, you’ve either got the idea, or you never will.

Either way, here's the Official Soundtrack in all its first draft glory:

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Time for a progress report:

Day Fifteen
Terribly slow day today, really was not in the zone.  

Day Sixteen

Managed somehow to get back into the swing of things and almost got back up to target. Decided to adopt a character (Grandfather Adamantly Normal) from the NaNo boards because he was not doing anything else at the time, so working my way towards meeting him.  

Day Seventeen
Powered through some serious wordage today, starting to make up for lost time.  

Day Eighteen
Put some time into reordering some chapters (yes, I know that probably counts as editing, but the whole thing was such a mess before!) in order to get a proper feel for where the story had been so far, where the main characters were, and what they should do next. It obviously worked too, as I had another power day.

Day Nineteen
The introduction of Grandfather Adamantly Normal today led to a very strange – but fortuitous – occurrence: Matthew Smith turned out to be his own grandfather. How this has come about, and what philosophical meanderings the story can go on as they figure it out, I have no idea. But it was one of those things that came out of the blue, and knocked the story off onto a whole new direction.  

Day Twenty
Not quite in the mood still… got the daily words down, but not feeling most of them. Quite a bit was cheating quoting from external sources, if I am honest.  

Day Twenty One
Got to a good bit today, a bit that I have been playing with in my mind for a while, and finally reached the right point in the story to share it. Wrote 1940 words – still behind target, but gaining ground again now.



Time for a progress report:

Day Eight

Think I'm out of the slump; some good story bits today but I did cheat a little and paste a recipe for rabbit stew into the text.

Day Nine

Hard going again, partly because I was half asleep writing.... another 1667 day, by sheer fluke.

Day Ten

Did not get the chance to make good use of Saturday (unless you count catching up on ten days of washing up). Really need to get a good amount of time to put the various scenes I have written into a sensible order, and those I've subsequently retconned out of the timline need end with 'And then he woke up to find it was all a dream and he was still back where we left him at the end of Chapter Two'.

Day Eleven

A quick visit to the adoptables thread and discovering the NaNoWriMo tradition of including a Mr Ian Woon in the story made this evening's session a breeze - I actually wrote some good stuff that probably won't be deleted in the re-writes.

Day Twelve

I have resigned myself to the fact that this story is determined to be a Jet Set Willy fanfic. I had originally planned something a little more in the way of a subtle homage, but the story has lent itself better to being more full-on. So today I embraced that, and gave Willy some more back story, because that was easy word count and I was under the weather.

Day Thirteen

After a little light plundering of the adoptables threads on the NaNo forums, I got inspired again today, and got some good writing and some solid story down. Word count still not quite as epic as it could be, but keeping in line with the curve.

Day Fourteen

Mostly continuing on from yesterday, and some notes for a good scene with a boat and lots of cookers that came out of a real life conversation... I may be writing that next :)

Red Dwarf X: The Beginning


You know the drill by now... this will be spoilerific, so go away if you haven't seen it yet.

And I'll keep it brief, because there's important novelling to be done. I think the most important thing to be said here is that if they never make another episode of Red Dwarf (although all concerned have amply proven they can still do just as good a job as the beeb ever did), at least now it will have ended on a good note.

'The Beginning' was not the non-stop gag fest that 'Trojan' was, although it had more than a few laughs, but it was a superb bit of science fiction in its own way, what with simulant Death Ships looking all 'deathy' and some nice little nods to Star Wars and to earlier Red Dwarf - the first oblique reference to the ending of series eight, and right back to episode one, 'The End'.

Anyway, while all this Death Ship malarky is going on, Rimmer finally decides to play a holographic message from his father, who (massive spoiler) turns out not to be.

And that's when everything changes. Rimmer stops feeling like he has failed his father, stops trying to impress his father by being someone he obviously wasn't meant to be. He realises his father was somebody else, somebody who had entirely different expectations of him and would have been proud of who Arnold Rimmer actually was.

Isn't that what we all need sometimes, to realise who our Father really is, and to think about what He wants and expects from us, how He feels about us even when those around us seem to think we are worthless? Once we know who our Father is, we can begin to get a sense of who we are - and once we start trying to be that person, instead of whoever we think other people want us to be, that's when we can make a difference to the world around us.

And so, armed with a new found sense of self-worth, Arnold Rimmer finally sucks it up, grows a pair and acts like the senior officer on board, managing to save the day in what I at least thought was quite a fun sci-fi way.

And since fun sci-fi is what Red Dwarf has always been about, there could hardly be a better way to end the series. A very satisfying climax to what has, overall, been a return to form for Red Dwarf.



In case anyone's interested, this is how the progress has been so far:

Day One

Had no idea where to start. I knew I had to get Matthew Smith into the world of my story, but I didn't even know whether that world was real, virtual, a dream, or something else, so how to do that? I picked a good openeing line and went from there... I'll figure the opening out one I know what the story is about. Got to exactly 1667, but straddled midnight so my tracker showed yellow.

Day Two

Struggling on, still no idea where the story is going, and really wishing I hadn't decided to wing it like this! Pantsing is not for me. Squeaked over the 1667 in the early hours again.

Day Three

A bad wordcount day, the first day I didn't make the magic number (unless you count the end of day two's writing). Horrible day all round.

Day Four

A few mini word wars helped get the word count up again, and somewhere along the line I started to figure out who my characters were, what the story was... and felt good about it again! Put some serious retcon in, but that can be fixed later.

Day Five

Wrote from the bad guy's point of view today, to give the muse something new to play with. Seemed to work, got some good back story and some funny bits, and more pieces falling into place.

Day Six

Bit of a slump, didn't do much beyond some elaborated character profile and back story. Slave to the word count at the moment.

Day Seven

Would like to be able to slow down and write some of these bits better, but if I slip behind on the word count I'll get disheartened and give up entirely. Todays wordcount was mainly describing the setting a little more, stuff I can work into a context later.

Tuesday Tunes: Red Dwarf Top Ten


As this blog has been on something of a Red Dwarf theme lately, it was kind of inevitable, wasn’t it, that we would get here: The Top Ten Red Dwarf Songs.

10. Vincent Gene – Cat Man
Who knew it was going to start off all rockabilly?

9. Psychonaut – Starbug
I couldn’t not have a tune about Starbug, even if this one is rather longer than strictly necessary. It does change a little in the second half, but you know, just skip ahead when you get the idea.

8. Marc Gunn - The Mining Ship The Red Dwarf
OK, they get the name of the ship slightly wrong, but its an Irish drinking song about the Cat. How can you not love that?

7: Born to Hula – Red Dwarf
Actually has nothing to do with Red Dwarf, but sounds very cool.

6: Disasterpeace – Kitty Cat and Spacey Man
Sounds like it should be the tune from the Mega Drive game of Red Dwarf. Heck, it might be, for all the research I did!

5: Republica – Holly
Indie dance rock tribute to Norman Lovett. Probably.

4: Altered Images – I Could Be Happy
The relevance of this song will not need explaining to Red Dwarf fans, of course.

3: Missing Andy – Dave
We haven’t had a song about Lister yet, so he can have this one. It’s kinda fun, but messes with his backstory a bit…

2: Tom Songs – A Rimmer
This one actually is about that A Rimmer. And it’s pretty good too!

1: Ccada Luge – Red Dwarf
Fun, fun, fun in the sun, sun, sun. The coolest version of the theme tune I could Spotify at short notice.

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Red Dwarf X: Dear Dave


I'm briefly interrupting my NaNo writing to continue the mini-series of Red Dwarf reviews, mainly because this isn't going to take very long.

Dear Dave was not a bad episode, but it didn't have a lot of structure or depth to it. It had a few nice comedy moments, and had the feel of a much earlier episode, Lister being all melancholy about being the last human, Kryten and Cat failing epically to console him while Rimmer is just... Rimmer.

But the trouble was, all the various plot points (such as it could be called a plot) were things that had been done before in earlier episodes. To give realism its due, in 20-odd years with the same three smegheads, conversations are going to be repeated occasionally. Still, taking bits of old storyline and gluing them together with some new jokes didn't really work; the episode needed something a little more meaty than a letter from Lister's ex to hang all the other bits on.

There wasn't much Cat in the episode, but he did, once again, get all the best lines for his trouble. The random reference to the JMC on-board computer (don't they remember Holly?) was a bit odd and disrupted the sense of continuity from earlier Dwarf that the episode otherwise maintained.

Oh, and I quite like the way Red Dwarf has taken Douglas Adams' vending machine nightmares off to a completely different extreme, especially in this episode (although I'm sure nobody in the known multiverse would really try and lift up a vending machine by lying on it and jumping up and down).

On the plus side, the cast are all well in their stride now, so combine that with the (presumably) minimal budget spent on Dear Dave, and given the overall goodness of Red Dwarf X, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect a decent finale next week...

It's almost upon us....


So, NaNoWriMo is just a couple of hours away now... and I still have only a vague idea what's going to start appearing on my screen tomorrow.

It was nice to see a late surge of support for the Old Testament Space Opera in my little poll the other week, but The Ballad of Matthew Smith was the more popular choice wherever I asked the question. And although I never promised to be bound by the result, I like the idea too, so I'm going to roll with it.

Which leaves me with the dilemma of what happens to Matthew Smith anyway?

I originally envisaged the story as a sort of comic cyber-fantasy, about a computer programmer who is abducted and taken to the world he created for his best-selling game, for reasons as yet unknown....

The trouble is, I don't even know those reasons yet, and I think the reasons dictate whether the world he finds himself in is real, cyberspace, or some kind of dream... or indeed another part of the DragonQuest universe from a couple of years ago.

And until I figure out what kind of world Matthew Smith finds himself in, I don't know how to get him there... which is going to make Chapter One interesting in the morning!

No, I won't be starting at midnight - I need some sleep, and if I'm not asleep by 12 I will be compelled to start! - and I'm hoping to dream up the opening to the story overnight.

Red Dwarf X: Entangled


So, if last week was the low point of Red Dwarf X so far, I think this must be the week we can safely say that yes, the boys from the Dwarf are back on form.

Basically it involves Lister losing a game of poker to some genetically engineered life forms, and relying on a decidedly stupid scientist to save the day. Admittedly, her stupidness did get a little tedious at times, but that's easy to overlook just by considering how awesome some of Cat's lines were.
We're all acutely sorry bud. Apart from me and him and him.
Yes, this was the episode where he really came into his own, partly by virtue of being quantum entangled with Kryten, meaning they delivered some of their lines in perfect synch, much to both characters' surprise.

Lister is at his slobbiest, Rimmer at his most officious (having just reinvented the ship's health and safety rulebook), and Kryten is doing a fine Hitchhikers' Guide homage. All in all, classic Dwarf, and right up there with the moose.

Not really much philosophical discussion to the episode; Kryten and Cat develop a new understanding of the nature of coincidence, and there's a whole space station set up to establish whether two wrongs do in fact make a right.

But we don't need that. Entangled is a high point of Red Dwarf X; let's just hope they can keep the momentum going for the last couple of episodes...

CSFF Blog Tour: The Spirit Well by Stephen Lawhead


This week, as I think I have mentioned for those who have been paying attention, the CSFF Blog Tour has been looking at The Spirit Well by Stephen Lawhead.

As I mentioned on Monday, the Christian elements of the story were just beginnning to show up in The Bone House, and I was wondering what would be made of them in future novels in the series. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that point has been picked up on in a number of tour posts - having not read the book yet I won't get into how the subject is dealt with in The Spirit Well, but if you're interested, pay a visit to posts by Thomas Clayton Booher, Bruce Hennigan, Timothy Hicks, Jason Joyner and Becky Miller which look at this in varying amounts of detail.

If you'd rather just read a review of The Spirit Well and make your own mind up (or not) check out the reviews by Julie Bihn, and Jim Armstrong (who likens the quest to a story from Tom Baker vintage Doctor Who but with less jelly babies).

And your final essential stop should be Robert Treskillard's interview with Archaleus Burleigh.

The full list of tour participants is at the end of yesterday's post.

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Tuesday Tunes: The Spirit Well


As you may know, this week the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour is featuring The Spirit Well by Stephen Lawhead.So, naturally, today we present the Top Ten Tunes from the Spirit Well:10. Amy Macdonald: Human SpiritYes, it is a bit too early for songs about Christmas, but this has only the fleetingest mention.9. Lacuna Coil: My SpiritNot as awesome as the gothic metal cover of REM's Losing My Religion which appears on the same album. You should totally go listen to that later.8. Doctor & The Medics: Spirit In The SkySeriously, more churches should sing this on a Sunday morning.7. Wave Machines: Punk SpiritNothing very punky about this track, apart from the fleetingest swear in the first verse. You wouldn't have even noticed if I hadn't warned you, but hey, it's a family show.6. The Waterboys: SpiritCeltic folk rockers, wannabe sailors and fans of C S Lewis, apparently.5. Blackmill: Spirit of LifeBecause every Top Ten needs six minutes of gloriously obscure chilled-out electronica that I wouldn't have experienced had I not been exploring Spotify in putting this together.4. Brian Eno & David Byrne: The Jezebel SpiritCompletely insane, sampled exorcism and all. From the album My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, which is well worth a listen if you like this kind of weirdness.3. Rush: The Spirit of RadioCanadian prog rock. And why not?2. Hawkwind: Spirit of the AgeOK, it might take a couple of minutes to get going, but it's worth it for the sci-fi lyrics worthy of Jonathon Coulton. If it weren't so long, it might have squeaked the top spot...1. Tori Amos: Smells Like Teen SpiritBut I do love a weird cover version, and this pairing is about as odd as it gets... phenomenal result though. Here they all are for your enjoyment: allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="380" src="" width="300"> While that's playing, let's not forget there's a blog tour going on. Follow it here: Jim Armstrong Julie Bihn Red Bissell Jennifer Bogart Thomas Clayton Booher Thomas Fletcher Booher Beckie Burnham Brenda Castro Jeff Chapman Christine Karri Compton Theresa Dunlap Emmalyn Edwards April Erwin Victor Gentile Jeremy Harder Bruce Hennigan Timothy Hicks Janeen Ippolito Becca Johnson Jason Joyner Carol Keen Emileigh Latham Rebekah Loper Shannon McDermott Meagan @ Blooming with Books Rebecca LuElla Miller Anna Mittower Joan Nienhuis Lyn Perry Nathan Reimer Chawna Schroeder Rachel Starr Thomson Robert Treskillard Steve Trower Dona Watson Shane Werlinger Phyllis Wheeler[...]