Taking a few days off to deal with stuff and nonsense: two friends of mine that seem determined to overstay their welcome. See you soon...
Yup, that's it - parts one to five of The Inquisitor's Progress, the tale of one vile inquisitor's challenge against the 'gods' that created his world (and all the ones above it), are now available in the usual places: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Smashwords and eventually a few others that move rather more slowly. Part one is still available for free at Amazon US, Smashwords and my own site if you haven't got started yet. And now that's done, the complete ebook version and print version will be following just as soon as I finish typesetting and cover designing and waiting for CreateSpace's transatlantic tortoise-mail to send the proof copy from the US when they could just as easily send it from their plant in the UK...
(but I digress)
Next up for me will be either one of two things and possibly both: a series of short stories about a world in which everyone wakes up twenty years in the past (which is a surprisingly scary thing to happen), or a full scale fantasy series which just happens to take place in the same multiverse as The Last Man on Earth Club.
Until then - thanks for reading!
Now I've gone and done it. I've published something! My new novel, serialised into five parts, has just hit part two. I've been putting off mentioning it until Amazon finally got round to making part one free, which they did for all of five minutes before making the UK version unfree again.
(this whole 'how do I make something free on Amazon?' conversation takes up a statutory 20% of all discussions on Kindleboards)
Oh, and what's this book about, I hear you ask? Well, it's about a scary old guy who's spent his whole life doing god's will, which he always assumed meant torturing people to stop them spreading their heresy. But then he dies. And when he meets his maker, he finds that the worlds beyond his own are vaster and more cruel than anything he could have known. In the end, there remains only one course: vengeance upon god.
So no, it's not a comedy...
Holy crap, I won something.
Well, not actually won. I came third. But that's good enough for me! Although it does mean that I have to surrender my 'miserable bastard' card and pretend to be an optimist for a while. But never mind.
I entered a competition via the ever-wondrous Kboards Writer's Cafe, in which the entrants were challenged to write a 500 word story inspired by the image you can see to the left. The poster has an interesting story attached, although I may have been the only person to delve into it: apparently, a number of stage magicians (not just Mr. Kellar) habitually used images of devils and demons in their advertising to give the impression that their magic tricks were assisted by the forces of evil. Why this should make the superstitious inhabitants of the 19th century do anything other than have the magicians lynched is something of a mystery, but it seems to have worked. Kellar et al were extremely successful at their trade.
Here's where to go if you want to read my little story: Harry Weiss Meets the Devil. And if you like, you can read the stories by those other writers who won first and second place. They're pretty good too. :D
And if you want to try this yourself, you have only to click on the banner above to have a go at the July contest! First prize: £50 Amazon gift card. Second prize: £20 Amazon gift card. Third prize:
set of steak knives £10 Amazon gift card.
You know you want to.
May I introduce... the letter Thorn!
You see, the English language has a long and messy history, both in its spoken and written versions. The alphabet we know, love, and wish-we-could-get-that-damn-song-out-of-our-heads used to be somewhat different. W, for instance, used to be printed thus: VV. Because V is latin for U, and hence... double-U. Plus the letter S was printed in two forms: the short S that we still use, and the long S, printed like this: ſ. This of course leads to all sorts of hilarious moments in Terry Pratchett novels whenever words like Press appear as Preſs. It also leads to the modern German letter ß, which is just a compression of ſs.
Most of our current alphabet descends from the Latin script, but Thorn comes from Old English runes, along with the letter Wynn (Ƿ). Thorn is the Th sound that we still use today, either as in 'Thunder' or as in 'The'. It fell out of use back in the fourteenth century, replaced by Th in one case, and occasionally by Y in the other (hence Ye Olde English etc). It's still used in Icelandic, one of a magnificent 30 letters in an alphabet used by about 320,000 native speakers. (Norwegians, meanwhile, have to put up with having only 29 letters. Which is a good excuse to link to this).
But the most important thing here is that I can use it in my book without worrying that it'll come out looking like some kind of machine gobbledigook. Result!
Imagine that you're a child, too young to understand anything much. And all the older children who think they know everything tell you: the world is going to end. That you'll die. Your brother and sister will die. Your parents will die. Your friends will die. You know they're not lying because you can see it on TV too. There are programmes your parents won't let you watch because they want to to sleep without fear, but they show trailers for them. You see a town like yours burn in a firestorm and glass milkbottles melt on doorsteps.
That's my earliest memory of the Cold War. It was 1983 or 1984, and Threads was shown one night, far too late for me to see, but the trailer kept me awake. They wanted people to know how horrifying nuclear war was, but it made no difference. The Cold War ground on for the rest of the decade and didn't stop just because people knew it was pointless and suicidal to launch nukes at each other.
It turns out that this approach was tried before, in 1956. Ed Sullivan showed a short animation on his wildly popular TV show, better known for introducing the US to The Beatles. He wanted to raise people's awareness as well. A far better blog than mine has the full story, and the BFI have gone to the trouble of sharing the film with us:
It didn't work then, either. The Cold War kept getting colder. The animation just scared a lot of children in my parent's generation, as I would be scared eighteen years later. It's been near on thirty years since then...
And the nukes are still there. And I'm still scared.
This is an altogether too easy choice for a blog post - lifted wholesale from Bad Astronomy, of course - but no less fascinating for all that.
And you know I'm all for blowing up planets and suns and whatnot. So just enjoy!