88 Days… Not all that long

So apparently NaNoWriMo 2018 is creeping up on me, it’s just 88 days away. I need to get plotting, planning, and researching. I won last year… first time in ages, and it came off the back of plotting, so that’s the way I’m going again.

Only, I’ve been so focused on Dune recently, that’s all that’s in my head. Think I need to go in another direction entirely, science fiction is out, maybe a fantasy story in a much smaller space. Shall see what inspiration strikes.

So, for those taking part in NaNoWriMo, what are you doing to prepare, or are you holding back until closer to the time?

Dune – A Tour De Force in Science Fiction

So my previous post was meant to go very differently, it was meant to go very differently, but I decided to focus on the conversion of stories across different mediums. So now we’re back again, and I’m going to see if I can say something intelligent and worthwhile about Dune. I honestly don’t think I can do it justice, but good news it’s my blog, and JL has thoughts to share in spades.

Be warned, spoilers ahead – I’ll make sure there’s a cut in before we get to anything too spoilery.

So…. Dune, the book series by Hugo and Nebula award winning Frank Herbert (Franklin Patrick Herbert Jr.), and it’s easily one of my favourites – I dare say the first book Dune is probably my favourite piece of fiction of all time,.

I still remember my dad giving me the book, I’d been ill, again I think (my memory isn’t always as reliable as I’d like it to be, unlike the Kwisatz Haderach in the story itself), I must have been eleven at the time. At eleven how much of it I could follow is probably debatable, but it’s such a rich story and world that as I grew my understanding and appreciation of it grew with me.

Without going into spoilers, Dune is a series book about the distant future of humanity as it’s spread among the stars. It features themes of survival, power, religion, ecology, economy and evolution, and collectively is a treatise on the human condition as interfaces with the world.

It’s probably the daddy of the epic science fiction, the first book being one of George Lucas’ inspirations for Star Wars. Before it, the idea of so deep a sci-fi story was  rarity. It’s scope is so massive, dealing with from tens of thousands of years into humanity’s future, and the series covers thousands of years from that point onward. The series covers a span of time nearly as great as recorded history today, and the time before the series begins isn’t just dead time, it has a whole back story that you learn as you read through, with many of the functions of future humanity coming about in the thousands of years preceding the books.

Unlike Star Wars, they’re not action orientated – there is some satisfying action in them, but it’s very tactical based, and fleeting, just to support the movement of the story. In fact, overall they’re some of the most dialogue laden stories out there.

So, in short if you like a detailed grand epic science fiction… there’s an awful lot to love. And if you want to go further than the original series Frank Herbert’s son Brian and Kevin J Anderson (who is a major contributor to the Star Wars universe), they’re a lot cleaner writing so easier to read, and some elements maybe didn’t need an explanation, but they do bring the whole thing together at the end and finish of the story in a way Frank Herbert wasn’t able to do before his death, and they do add to the grand richness of the universe created in Dune.

So much to love, the books can be hard to read at times, and you find yourself trying to hold on to factoids, stories,  and ideas as you’ll need them later for reference when something else happens. They’re not a casual reads, but well worth your time.

So that’s a general look at Dune… from here there may be spoilers – somethings I have in my mind to say just can’t avoid it. If you’ve not read the books  go check them out, Frank Herbert’s original series are also all available on Audible if you want an easier time (well read by Simon Vance, Euan Morton,  Orlaigh Cassidy and several others bring the books to life, and they’re unabridged.

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The Book Isn’t Always Mightier Than The Adaptation

Okay before I get lynched by fans Harry Potter/Twilight/LOTR/Hunger Games/Da Vinci Code/and just about any story with fans, moving from medium to medium requires change and its not a new phenomenon, nor is it new that people are upset by changes. I’m not here to argue that as films are better than their source material, or even good, my argument is that its only bad one for version to be incomplete without the other.

Ancient History

So, I’ve spent a long term over the years studying texts that were originally part of oral traditions, but over Millennia were converted from a spoken medium to a written medium. The transformation of the oldest stories is fascinating, and if our current culture existed then, a whole lot of people would have been stoned for some form of blasphemy in the conversion of stories as the historical game of Chinese whispers that is oral tradition.

Actually, as it happens, people have died for presenting unfaithful accounts of history and legends. So I guess modern sensibilities aren’t so modern, just less extreme and more easily reported and repeated.

The earliest known stories came from the Lascaux caves in Southern France, it is a series of images progressing through a time period, covering the rituals and the hunt of the people at the time, it’s a story. It’s worth noting that spoken language of some variety probably came about somewhere between 100,000 and 60,000 years ago,  so I’d like to think the story telling was around long before someone thought to record it on a wall.  Continue reading

Wait… Where’s My Story Gone?

I’ve got a number of projects started recently, mostly sci-fi – and that’s cool, they’re banked ideas to come back to when the idea has settled, and you’ve got some inspiration and motivation.

So, tonight I’m ready to go – rubbing my hands in glee, classical music playing in the background, cats playing around the room, (post to come about the cat invasion), I’m ready for some sci-fi horror…

So, ready?

Yes.

Opens Word… Okay, good I’m ready!

632 words. It’s barely started. I could have sworn I’d written much more than that – I’m basically got loads of ideas for the second act, and as it turns out I’ve pretty much go the whole first act to get through. Darn.

And so instantly, I’ve lost that writing feeling. Hence why I’ve come to my much neglected blog.

But it’s fine, I can do this – tomorrow, (and Sunday obviously), it’s the 24 hours of Le Mans, which like every year for the past seven years I’ll be watching from start to finish, (minus about two to three hours where sleep is just irresistible), I can knock out a short story in that time, from act 1.

Despite the set back, I’m very much in a writing mood, so let’s get this done.

My Top 15 Books of Fiction

In the past I’ve done lists of my favourite characters, and I’ll do so in the future as there are many types of categoriesof characters, and I find lists useful for finding examples of a character type at short notice. However today I wanted to tackle a biggie, my overall favourite stories in books. Now this necessitates a bigger list, I have read hundreds, if not thousands, of books in my life time.

My literary interests are quite spread, but there will be a slight propensity towards science fiction and fantasy as they’re mainstays in my library.

Old, new it matters little, ultimately it’s how much I enjoyed it, how much it made me think and feel, great writing, and lastly just because I want it there. It’s a very personal list at the end of the day, I’m not an expert critic.

A couple of warnings – some of these go on quite a bit, and may have spoilers (I really need to learn to do reviews…), and it started off as my top five, but that proved impossible, as did the top ten… now we’re at top fifteen and there’s so much more I’m leaving out. Which isn’t a bad thing, it just means I’ll have to explore some of my favourite books outside of this list in genre specific lists.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then let us begin

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Block Breaker #1

Block breakers are short stories, random ditties for which the only real purpose is to write something, anything when Writer’s Block strikes. Quality, verbosity, fidelity, consistency – not of these words apply. Just write or die.
It fell to second engineer William Hardaway,  the future of all. Never in the history of man had so much rested on one person.

“Will you do it?” Susan Ashcroft asked, she was a young lean shrewd looking woman who’s intent gaze locked onto William.

The elder man cleared his throat, and stroked the unkempt site beard that wrapped round his face. “You ask too much,” he finally said, his voice raspy and breathless betraying some excitement at the offer he was being made.

“I ask nothing, I’m just the messenger,” Susan said with mild annoyance, “You are in control for now.”

“You’re asking me to die,” William stated.

“A noble death, all of creation depends on your choice, you have control,” Susan said.

“A noble death,” William mused stroking his unkempt beard again, “Yes. I can do that.”

“Then press the button,” Susan said, “Save us all.”

Deep within the bowels of the derelict spaceship orbiting Sol, a beaten and bloody William dragged himself to the engine console.

“You can do it,” Susan encouraged him, her image flickering in the air.

“For Earth, for Humanity,” William said and then screaming against the pain he reached out with both arms and pulled the levers that would finish the core overload. Alarms rattled off.

“You need to point the engines at the Sol, quickly there isn’t much time,” Susan said urgently.

William pulled himself up further, fighting the pain, the fatigue and the darkness encroaching on his vision, he pushed further along the console and pushed a button labelled ‘port thrusters’, the ship rocked and heaved.

“Thank you,” Susan said looking down. It was the last thing William heard before he passed out.

 

Just a thousands miles above Sol, the space ship rotated round, and then it’s engines exploded sending a wave of energy powered by an explosion made up of exotic particles. The wave hit the Sol, the Earth’s sun. As the explosion hit the plasma it became super heated.

One hundred and fifty million miles away, eight minutes at light speed, the people of the Earth celebrated as the dimness felt across the world faded and light started to stream again. It had been three months since the sun had begun to cool, and the apocalypse was nigh, but William Hardaway had saved them all.

Mea Culpa

So I’ve been quiet for a while… my bad – I’d like to say I’ve been busy, and to some degree that would be true, but I’ve also managed to squeeze in a lot of binge watching on Netflix and the like. So, mea culpa.

So, what have I been up to? Great news I successfully finished NaNoWriMo 2017. First time in years I’ve made it through the 50k, and not only that but I completed the story.

I’ve begun work plotting out my next project, switching from sci-fi back to fantasy. Will talk about it more later, at the moment it’s all rough planning.

That’s the writing stuff I’ve done and am doing, I’m also going to go back to writing short stories, need to keep writing, it’s very easy to fall off of the bandwagon.

Aside from that, I’m going to aim for a minimum of two blog posts a month, because I do enjoy blogging – I just fail at getting round to it. I’m going to change that.

No promises, because promises in the past don’t pan out the way I’d like them to –  but I’ll make more of an effort.