Category Archives: Books

Visual guide to the Expanse

I have made no secret about the fact that I think the Expanse is bloody great. I am currently in that painful period between both Expanse books and TV series. It has given me more time to do other things with my life, I guess, but it still sucks.

Anyway. Because I am a fan and the internet these days knows everything about me, I get sent a lot of Expanse related material and came across a nice little infographic guide thingy. In case you are solely ensconced in the TV show and have short term memory I thought it could be handy. The books are now a lot more complicated and would require something colossal! This is well done and has also has a cool title. Go Rocinante!

Time related short stories

The-Uneven-Passage-of-Time-cover-finalI plugged my superb travel book over at The Word of Ward the other day, so I thought I might as well plug my Science Fiction short story collection here. The Uneven Passage of Time is a small, inexpensive collection of stories that revolve around the theme of time. And the passage through it.

So if you’re reading this and you haven’t bought The Uneven Passage of Time then give it a go! It’s cheap! Then leave a review! It’s fun! 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.

#3 Science Fiction Short Stories
#7 Short Stories

So there you go. In case I haven’t linked to it enough, here are some more:

Game of Thrones Seasons 1 to 6 recap

Game of Thrones season 7 is back on air tomorrow night on HBO and will be downloaded by most of the planet an hour later. (Not me, I hasten to add.) I was toying with rewatching seasons 1 to 6 but I am currently in the middle of rewatching all of Twin Peaks so just don’t have the time. Thankfully there are a lot of people on the internet who do have the time and have compiled a handy recap.

So without further ado, here is everything that happened:

Into the Unknown – Exhibition at the Barbican

I saw ‘Into the Unknown – A Journey through science fiction’ a couple of weeks ago. If you like science fiction and are in London, I highly recommend it. It consists of quite an eclectic group of science fiction artefacts, pictures, installations, models and videos. Here is the blurb:

“The genre-defining exhibition of art, design, film and literature.

From the 19th century cabinet of curiosities, to the vastness of space. Through future cities, into the inner landscapes of human perception.

Uncover the mysterious lands of Jules Verne and Ray Harryhausen where Science Fiction narratives first took root. Venture on an odyssey into our solar system, with vintage artwork promoting Soviet visions of space alongside immersive work by Soda_Jerk. Visit a gallery of aliens, and stand alongside iconic spacesuits from a galaxy of blockbusters including Star Trek and Interstellar.

Imagine dystopian worlds with Margaret Atwood and 28 Days Later. Then, with nowhere left to explore but human consciousness, delve deep and experience the transformation and mutation of the body through the eyes of Jack Kirby and Ex Machina.

Curated by historian and writer Patrick Gyger, this festival-style exhibition consists of more than 800 works, many of which have never been seen in the UK before. Continuing across the Centre, it includes artwork from Isaac Julien, Larissa Sansour and Conrad Shawcross, and an installation from the creators of Black Mirror.”

I struggled a bit to find a common theme at ‘Into the Unknown’ but maybe there wasn’t one. Just lots of science fiction goodness.

The main room has a huge smorgasbord of stuff – old magazines, video clips, models, props, outfits, books, comics and more. I really enjoyed it and even spotted a couple of books I hadn’t read. There is an interactive bit from the Martian, which was quite fun and some superb models from Harryhausen and designs based on the awesome HR Giger. Near the end are the spacesuits used in films like Star Trek and Sunshine.

The exhibition continues elsewhere but they were a bit hit and miss for me. In the Pit, there is a kind of robotic arm that moves around shining a light. It was kind of cool – more like an art installation that looked scifi-ish than anything else. There was a short film in another room that was ok. In the entrance/exit there is an installation by Black Mirror which is intriguing if you haven’t seen the show – if you have, then it just makes you want to rewatch them all again.

On the whole, I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Into the Unknown’ and would recommend it. The main room is the best bit and although it feels a bit random, the stuff on display is great.

Here are some more pics. Enjoy.

 

Cooperworld

I am thinking of developing the story of Cooperworld into a novel. It can go places. If I do, it will probably be quite different in tone but the essential idea will be the same. I won’t give too much away but thought I would use this ideal opportunity to plug it. If you like sci-fi and stuff like the Matrix, you might find it fun. The most important thing is that you buy a copy to find out and find out for yourself. It is currently going for a pittance – which is cheap in anyone’s reality.

Here is the blurb:

In the near future, AI research is strictly controlled by paranoid governments. When a renowned Artificial Intelligence expert illegally decides to create digital life in a simulated universe, he doesn’t at first realise the implications of what he has done. Implications not just for him, but for everyone.

For US customers:

For UK customers:

The Dark Tower official trailer

I wrote relatively recently about the Dark Tower book and how good it was. As I said in my review, the Gunslinger was damned enjoyable and I wanted to read it before the film came out. I’ll be honest though, I thought it was going to be a series of films but now it just looks like a one-off movie. Which is a shame but what are you going to do? The casting is great though –  I am a big fan of both Elba and McConaughey and can easily imagine them in the roles. I seriously doubt that I will read the next six books in the Dark Tower series before this comes out in August, so the film had better be good.

I think the Dark Tower official trailer looks great but then trailers nearly always do these days. See what you think…

Babylon’s Ashes: Book 6 of the Expanse

This review of Babylon’s Ashes: book 6 of the Expanse will only be of interest if you have read the first five Expanse novels. Which is an obvious thing to say but you may have stumbled here by accident.

I love the Expanse, the books as well as the TV show. Again, this should be apparent given that I am now eagerly awaiting book 7. Babylon’s Ashes continues telling the story of the crew of the Rocinante and increasingly, the story of a shitload of other people. The cast is seriously ballooning, which is generally a good thing although it can be hard to follow if, like me, you have time away from the series.

I read somewhere that the series is supposed to be 9 books – 3 duologies and a final trilogy. Babylon’s Ashes was a great read but it did read a little like a “book 6” (if you know what I mean) while at the same time wrapping up the events of book 5. I do find the Free Navy, (and to a lesser extent the OPA,) a bit like an angry teenager banging on about stuff not being fair. This book deals with the Free Navy a lot. In the last book they trashed the Earth, in this one, they mostly act petulant and try to fight a lot.  There are some great set pieces though and a load of awesome space battles. There are also some other more mysterious alien elements developing in the background, in case you forgot.

So while Babylon’s Ashes is a great story, it deals more with the OPA/Free Navy and less with stuff I want to read about – aliens, the rings, the new planets, Miller, etc. There is a feeling that it is finishing off some storylines and setting the scene for the epic final trilogy. As such, it wasn’t one of my favourite entries in the Expanse series but I still enjoyed it and I am totally on board for what will hopefully follow. Go Expanse!

The Dark Tower 1: The Gunslinger

I am a bit late to the party with Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. So late in fact, that he finished the series and then went back and rewrote book one – The Gunslinger – to make it fit in better.

The Gunslinger and the whole Dark Tower series is set in a post apocalyptic world. It is also, as you may have guessed from the title, the cover, and everything ever mentioned about it, a Western. But with magic and weird shit going on. The setting is pretty unique and with a lot of scope for adventure and shenanigans.

The first book is basically the story of the eponymous Gunslinger as he chases a magic man across a desert and through some hills. In fact the story can be summed up by the awesome opening line:

“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.”

Obviously more happens than this or it would be a tad dull. Which It most definitely is not. The characters, especially Roland Deschain (the gunslinger), are pretty cool. I did find they lacked a bit of depth but this is possibly to create mystery and allow for revelation later on. King described the series as a mixture of Sergio Leone’s ‘Man with no name’ trilogy mixed with Lord of the Rings and Arthurian legends. Which is a damn fine mix.

As you can see from the picture above and may have read in the news, this is soon going to be a movie with Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey – which is a superb bit of casting although I had Clint Eastwood in my head when I read it, for obvious reasons. Elba will be great in the role though.

I have waffled enough! I liked the Gunslinger a lot and have already bought the next one in the series. Stephen King has finished the series and they all got good reviews, so there is none of the concern you may get when launching into an epic series that is still underway (I’m looking at you, Game of Thrones). Enjoy.

You can get it on Amazon here:

The Expanse season 2 starts February 1st

The Expanse season 2 is due to kick off with a double episode premiere on the 1st of February. I am currently reading Babylon’s Ashes: Book six of the Expanse, so I am clearly a bit of a fan.

Season 1 was great, although I understand why some people found it a bit slow to start off with. The book was a bit like that too but when it gets going it is great. The first season just dealt with the events of the first half of book one, so there is a lot of exciting stuff still to come. If you haven’t read the books or seen the first series, I highly recommend you do both. The whole Expanse series of books by James S.A. Corey are a cracking read and I hope they carry on for decades.

There are quite a few Expanse trailers around, including a bizarre recap of season one using cats (seriously). This trailer came out a month ago but is bloody superb and should whet your appetite. I will be doing all I can to publicise the show because if another Firefly scenario happens, I don’t think I can recover. I’m officially very excited.