Author Archives: ward

Sizes of Scifi Spaceships

I’m not sure why I put “Scifi” in the title there. A comparison of our human space vehicles would be frankly pretty sad.

But I found this fantastic. If you are a science fiction fan you will know 70% or more of these ships. I’ve never been into Warhammer but their vessels look awesome. This has all given me a strange hankering to go and watch some early Lexx and the whole of Farscape all over again. I have provided a link as the image is colossal! Enjoy.

size_comparison___science_fiction_spaceships_by_dirkloechel-d6lfgdf.jpg

Thanks to http://dirkloechel.deviantart.com/art/Size-Comparison-Science-Fiction-spaceships-398790051 for this!

The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut

The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut

The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut

I’m a huge Vonnegut fan. I’m an even bigger Douglas Adams fan. So when Mrs Scifiward read The Sirens of Titan and asked me why I hadn’t read it if I like Vonnegut, I just replied that I hadn’t quite got round to it as I’d heard it wasn’t one of his best. (Which is a crap reason, I’ll admit.) When she mentioned it was in a similar mood to Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, my interest was finally peaked enough to give it a go. And I’m glad I did.

Here’s the story:

An incredibly rich man called Winston Niles Rumfoord builds his own spaceship and, with his dog Kazak, flies into space. Unfortunately he flies into something called a “chrono-synclastic infundibulum” which converts him and his hound into pure energy. This energy is in the form of a spiral that stretches from the Sun to the star Betelguese. The Earth intersects this spiral every 59 days and consequently Rumfoord and Kazak materialise for 1 hour every couple of months. They also appear on Mars and Titan. While this sucks for Rumfoord, he does have the added bonus of knowing everything that has ever happened and will happen.

Cue the protagonist – one Malachi Constant. Constant is the world’s richest and luckiest man. He is also a massively shallow hedonist. Rumfoord manipulates Constant into an epic journey from the Earth to Mars to the caves of Mercury and finally to the moon Titan. It’s a pretty shitty journey but it changes Constant and helps make the world a better place.

As I had heard The Sirens of Titan isn’t one of Vonnegut’s best books but it is still a bloody good one. Much, much better than I thought would be. It is, as Mrs Scifiward said, reminiscent of Hitchhiker’s – albeit a precursor to it. There are a ton of brilliant ideas and funny asides. The invention of a religion that follows God the Utterly Indifferent is a good example of the sort of humour coupled with heavy doses of nihilism that pervade the novel. The bleak theme that everything is pointless and merely ‘a series of accidents’ is counterbalanced by wit, inventiveness and Vonnegut’s spare but brilliant prose.

If you are a fan of Vonnegut and Adams I would be very surprised if you didn’t enjoy this book as much as I did. I felt kind of bad constantly linking the two until I consulted Wikepedia and found the following quote. With which I shall leave you. To conclude: I thoroughly enjoyed The Sirens of Titan. Now over to Mr Adams.

Sirens of Titan is just one of those books – you read it through the first time and you think it’s very loosely, casually written. You think the fact that everything suddenly makes such good sense at the end is almost accidental. And then you read it a few more times, simultaneously finding out more about writing yourself, and you realize what an absolute tour de force it was, making something as beautifully honed as that appear so casual.”
The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut

Sleepy Hollow TV show

Sleepy Hollow TV show

Sleepy Hollow TV show

I was dubious about this I’ll admit. The film of “Sleepy Hollow” was, well, ok. Good work by Mr Depp and Mr Welken. Like a lot of Tim Burton films I thoroughly enjoyed it while I was actually watching it but afterward – meh. So now there is a TV show. The thing is, ‘Sleepy Hollow’ actually looks like it might be fun. In a daft and entertaining way.

Basically, Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman are brought forward in time or frozen or something, and find themselves in modern day Sleepy Hollow. I’m not sure how this could possibly pan out to something that will span a few series’ worth of action but whack in a bit of time travel and headless axe action, and fuck it, I’m sold. In the trailer they mention that the Headless Horseman is “Death” of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse fame, so maybe they will end up with three more mounted bad guys. I’m quite looking forward to this now. It probably helps that the trailer is insanely entertainingly fun.

Check it out:

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is coming! It’s official. I just saw a trailer for it before the Simpsons about 20 minutes ago. Our American chums will get it on the 24th of September and we will get in on the 27th on Channel 4. Which means I can watch it in HD and definitely won’t be downloading it on the 24th the moment it appears. Definitely won’t.

In case you didn’t know, Agents of SHIELD (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) are elite lads and lasses who work for a top secret agency that investigates slightly weird shit. They also exist in the same world as the Avengers so there will be some cool things to investigate. Curiously, the series starts after the events of the Avenger’s film yet features Agent Coulson who died. But as I mentioned, this is a world with the Incredible Hulk in it, so I’m sure there’s a way round that problem.

I can’t wait for Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. It’s made by Joss Whedon who made Buffy, Firefly, and the Avengers movie. All of which were superb. Even Dollhouse was pretty watchable. So bring on the 27th (or the 24th)!

Here’s a trailer:

Star Trek Continues

Star Trek Continues

Star Trek Continues

You know when you hear the words ‘fan made’ and you think, ‘It’s great that people care and put lots of effort into this, but it’s probably going to be pretty crap.’ Well think that no more you miserable cynic. Just for this particular instance anyway. Because here is a fan made episode of Star Trek continuing on from the original series and it’s pretty damn good. I want to see more! As the original Star Trek series was a five year mission and we only saw three of that, I expect at least two years’ worth of stuff.

It even has Grant Imahara from Mythbusters and Christopher Doohan (son of James Doohan – the original Scotty.) This is actually a follow on episode from one of the original Star Trek episodes – ‘Who Mourns for Adonais’. The guy who plays Apollo is the same actor from the original episode. I’m not sure if the series will continue like this, or even continue at all but I’m a fan of this fan made fiction.

Here is their website: http://www.startrekcontinues.com/

Please do Firefly next.

Here is the episode. Enjoy.

Google Street View discovers TARDIS

I live in modern day London. Which, as any fan of Doctor Who will know (based on how often he visits), is the Doctor’s favourite time and place in the whole universe. It’s that great here.

As the TARDIS is broken, it no longer camoflages itself properly and consequently sticks out a bit when parked. So when a passing Google van went down a London road near Earl’s Court tube and spotted the TARDIS, the eagle eyed google nerds jumped out of the Google car and took their machine inside. (This sequence of events is a guess.)

The results can be seen if you click here: http://goo.gl/maps/7av8q. Click on the double arrows at the bottom of the screen pointing at the TARDIS. Enjoy.

Ender’s Game – boycott or not?

Ender’s Game

The new trailer for Ender’s Game is here and it looks bloody epic and brilliant (see bottom of page if you can’t be bothered to read all that follows). Literally three people have asked me about whether I am going to boycott the film because the author of the original books is anti-gay. The answer is no, because that’s dumb. Neither the book nor the film (apparently) have any homophobic messages. The argument is that you will be putting money into Card’s pocket also holds true for all the other poor bastards who worked on the film who aren’t anti-anything. Statistically quite a lot of the people involved in Ender’s Game movie (and the publishing house) will be gay too. Generally, we media types are a liberal mixed bunch who are tolerant and thoroughly nice people. Except for Fox News obviously. Who cares about sexuality when looking at a film that doesn’t even raise the issue?

Also, do people vet everyone involved in every film? Do they boycott films based on books where the author turned out to be a bit racist decades ago? What if they were alive 100 years ago, were anti-semitic, wrote a book that had nothing to do with anti-semitism, then had a change of heart and were no longer anti-semitic. Do you boycott that? Huh? Did you ever read Tintin in the Congo and then boycott the new Tintin films for being a bit stereotypical and racist? Ian Fleming  was quite sexist. Heinlein could be a bit fascist. Arthur C. Clarke could (allegedly) be a bit pedo. Have you thrown out your copy of 2001? I think you would be hard pressed to find a movie that didn’t have a crew member with a slightly or even highly questionable opinions. But you would also be hard pressed to find a film crew that didn’t contain several members of the LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) community who were simply trying to make a living in the movie business.

As long as the film/book doesn’t contain hateful messages then it’s ok. As long as a book/film isn’t funding a neo-nazi group or the KKK or the Catholic Church or something then I’m alright with it. A ridiculous amount of people are involved in making any film and they will be a mix of all sorts. I will still watch Mad Max 2 with glee even though Mad Mel will be getting some of the cash.

Quite a few high profile members of the gay community agree and are against the boycott of Ender’s Game. This is from the Independent:

‘Although the online campaign has gathered thousands of signatures, some high-profile LGBT figures have called the boycott “misguided”. Dustin Lance Black, who won an Oscar for writing the biopic Milk based on gay rights activist Harvey Milk, said: “Boycotting a movie made by 99 per cent LGBT equality folks in an LGBT equality industry is a waste of our collective energy.”’ (http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/enders-game-faces-backlash-over-author-orson-scott-cardsantigay-views-8708373.html)

That’s my view anyway and I’m as tolerant as they come. This is about Science Fiction and storytelling and spaceships exploding. Plus, the trailer for Ender’s Game looks fucking awesome.

Australia, Morocco, and Thailand. Three True Travel Stories

Travel book cover finalI have an exciting new book! It is called ‘Australia, Morocco, and Thailand. Three True Travel Stories’. While it is technically nothing to do with Science Fiction, I was reading scifi while the events happened. Also, if you by a copy I’ll be able to write more about scifi as I won’t have to work as much. You might enjoy them. These are three true travel stories where yours truly was in peril. In three different places. Here’s the blurb:

Jason Ward tells three true stories of fairly perilous travel.

While backpacking in his early twenties, he decides to give fruit picking a go. Even without the spiders, snakes, and a plague of locusts, things turn out pretty badly.
A trip into the Atlas Mountains with his girlfriend turns out less than romantic when flash floods threaten to wipe out the town. The only escape option is a van full of Berber tribesmen and a waterlogged road on the edge of a cliff.
After moving to the peaceful paradise of Thailand, Ward goes to a local pub near his Bangkok flat. That evening there is a military coup. In Bangkok. So why can’t he see anything?

These stories are filled with humour and dollops of fear. Recommended for those who enjoy travel stories or just like reading about someone being mildly terrified in foreign countries.

If you like travel stories please give them a go. Also, if you like them, please leave a review, they really help and I need to eat. If you don’t like them, then move along, nothing to see here.

For UK customers:

For our American cousins:

The book costs a pittance. Which is a bargain!

Dredd sequel

There isn’t really much to say about this except SIGN THE PETITION! Dredd was a great violent helmet-wearing genius of a movie and one that finally caught the mood of the comics. Although I saw Megacity 1 as being a bit more dense than in the film, everything else was brilliant. Now there may be a sequel. All you have to do is sign. Not quite sure how that all works exactly but I AM THE LAW! NOW SIGN! Also – SHARE!!

Click here to sign: http://2000adonline.us5.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=a6e40236aa24d482cfff600d2&id=62906ebdcc

Look here to see a picture:

Dredd sequel

The Uneven Passage of Time

Most people don’t read both of my sites. They seem to pick one and stick with it, which is fine with me and don’t feel ashamed. But when, every six months or a year, I realise I don’t do enough shameless self-publicity I have to post things twice. Like now. I apologise for this a little but everyone has to make a living and I massively appreciate your wonderful support, dear magnificent reader, fawn, grovel…

I’m not just plugging my awesome eBook because I haven’t done so for 6 months, (although that would be reason enough,) I’m plugging it because I am going to release a new one! Soon! The last trilogy of tales was a thoughtful blast of entertaining Scifi short story excitement. The next are a trio of true travel tales. Which are dramatised and are going to be pretty damn exciting too.

They are from three different periods of my life – when I was 21 and picking fruit in Australia and there were snakes, spiders and a plague of locusts; another was when I was in my late 20s in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco in prime flash flood season and the only escape was a trip in a van full of Berber tribesmen driven down the edge of a cliff; and the final one is set in Bangkok in my mid-30s when the Thai military thoughtlessly staged a military coup during happy hour. All three are moments where I really thought there was a chance I might die. And not my usual concern of alcohol poisoning either – these were genuine threats.

I just need to finalise the cover and sort out the bastard formatting. So bear with me.

In the meantime, I give you The Uneven Passage of Time!

Here’s the blurb:

Time, famously, is relative. In this trio of short stories journalist and fiction writer Jason R. Ward looks at three individuals and their unorthodox journeys through time. These entertaining tales blend the themes of psychology and perception with classic science fiction.

Stephen Hawking once sent out dinner invitations to all future time travellers. No one turned up. But what if one had? In ‘A Date to Remember’ a young physicist is convinced he has worked out the secret to building a time travel device. Lacking the resources to construct the machine he sets a time and date for a meeting with his future self.

It is a truism that people remember the big events in life and forget the repetitive. For most people, their year skips by unnoticed, punctuated by birthdays, world events, big personal milestones or traumatic events. As you age life seems to speed up and you find that the years seem to fly past. ‘As Time Goes By’ is the story of Frank Gilbert who is experiencing this to the extreme. His time seems to be accelerating at an abnormal rate. Years of his repetitive life seem to go by in days. Can he break the cycle in time?

The final and longest short story is ‘The Man Who Loved Statues’. Captain Michael Pike is a man who has taken a bit of hammering in life. With nothing much to live for he volunteers for an experiment that is going to attempt to alter his passage through time and put him in stasis. Things don’t go quite according to plan.

For the US:
http://www.amazon.com/Uneven-Passage-Time-ebook/dp/B006MHSWI2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1324264158&sr=8-1
For the UK:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Uneven-Passage-Time-ebook/dp/B006MHSWI2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1324258518&sr=8-1