Category Archives: Books

Altered Carbon TV Show

One minute I didn’t even know Altered Carbon was being made into a TV show and the next, I am shitting myself with excitement that it is almost here. Altered Carbon is a brilliant book written by Richard K Morgan and features the superb character, Takeshi Kovacs.

In the future, you back up your brain to a computer via a tiny computer stack in your head. Bodies are grown or even just used and your brain can then be downloaded into them. So if you get killed, you can come back in a different body. Or your own clone, if you are rich. In Altered Carbon – the book at least – Takeshi Kovacs is a double-hard bastard who is hired to find out who killed a really rich guy. He is hired by the really rich guy.

The book is quite a scifi noir and is violent and a great read. If you haven’t read it you definitely should. Check it out here. Altered Carbon was the first of three books to feature Kovacs but it is very much a stand-alone novel. It looks like the TV show is following the book fairly closely and has a pretty impressive budget. I hope it is as good an adaptation as The Expanse TV show. This is a truly great time to be a science fiction fan with a Netflix account!

Altered Carbon comes out on Netflix on the 2nd February and here is the brilliant trailer:

If you are interested in the superb book, and you should be, look here:

New Year, New Scifi book reading frenzy

Happy New Year! 2018 sounds pretty futuristic. Next year is original Blade Runner’s year, we are already further in the future than Marty McFly has ever been, and we have gone beyond the first two Arthur C Clarke books about monoliths that will help us evolve and be more intelligence (which sadly never came true – we could really use a monolith).

I’m not one for New Year resolutions, but I have made a couple. One is to write more – both here and fiction. So get ready for some serious self-promotion later in the year. Another is to read a lot more. I used to read a book a week but I think a book a fortnight is more doable these days (that’s 2 weeks). I am busier and books seem a lot longer these days.

Most of these are old books but on my kindle to be read next are:

A lot of Peter F Hamilton. I feel ashamed but I haven’t read anything by him and there was a sale on Kindle where I got half a dozen books.

A backlog of Analog and Asimov magazines. I have a subscription to both and they mount up really quickly.

The most recent books by James SA Corey, Blake Crouch and Andy Weir.

The Mortal Engines books.

And a ton of new ones by people I have never read. Such as:

Emma Newman

Simon Winstanley

Lois McMaster Bujold

Evan Currie

VE Schwab

And lots, lots more. This is in addition to the piles of books around my flat. Oh, and my wife got me the latest Ken Follet hardback book, which isn’t science fiction but is bloody long and I can’t wait to read it. I also need to squeeze in quite a lot of Netflix. Busy times!

I hope your new year is similarly full of scifi goodness. I had better go and start reading now.

 

Mortal Engines trailer

Peter Jackson is working on a movie adaptation of Mortal Engines, Philip Reeve’s steampunk/ dieselpunk/ whatever-punk books about cities wandering around a post-apocalyptic world attacking each other. It looks bloody great. Go London!

Mortal Engines is actually the title of the first of four books that have been on my kindle for years after a friend recommended them. I will definitely have to hurry up and read them.

The film will star Robert Sheehan, Hera Hilmar, Leila George, Ronan Raftery, Hugo Weaving, and Stephen Lang. Apparently, if successful, it will be the first of a series. Because everything needs to be a bloody franchise these days.

Anyway, the first Mortal Engines trailer has arrived and I am cautiously excited. Here it is:

 

Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky won the Arthur C Clarke award last year and deservedly so. It’s bloody great and the kind of ideas-based science fiction that Clarke used to write.

The story is essentially two strands – one human and one spider (really smart spider). Here is the basic premise:

A planet is terraformed and there is a virus that ‘uplifts’ the life on it. Then things go wrong and spiders start to become the dominant form of life and are able to pass on knowledge and genetics. Meanwhile, humans arrive and then have a bit of a journey and then…

It is quite hard to tell the synopsis without giving much away. Needless to say, the story is set over thousands of years yet has two main protagonists throughout – a human who is frequently frozen and woken, and a spider who passes memories and genetic traits down to offspring and is basically the same character.

Both strands are basically a struggle for a survival until they inevitably meet.

I know the story sounds a bit strange but I loved this book and have no hesitation in recommending it highly. Children of Time is epic scifi that tackles big themes of deities and existence while still being pretty cool and fun. Give it a go, it is really cheap on kindle at time of writing. Recommended.

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…