Category Archives: Books

Game of Thrones Season 4: A Foreshadowing

Game of Thrones Season 4

Game of Thrones Season 4

In case you are into Game of Thrones and are up to date with the show, here is a treat to get you salivating about Season 4. If you aren’t up to date, you are probably wasting your life and should keep up with everyone else.

Game of Thrones: A Foreshadowing is basically a 15 minute feature that explains how things are going to be even more violent and epic than the previous three. Which is quite a feat. It is based on A Storm of Swords, which is the second part of the third book. I have read it and it’s bloody brilliant, and there is indeed quite a lot of action and general epic goings on. There is also a new trailer I have included below that, which was just released today. You’re welcome. Enjoy.


Now here is a second trailer that only came out today!

Dust by Hugh Howey

Dust by Hugh Howey

Dust by Hugh Howey

Dust is the final part of the Wool trilogy. Don’t read this without having read Wool and Shift first. Obviously. It’s a trilogy.

Dust follows on from the end of the previous two Wool trilogies – which sounds odd I know but if you have read the books, then you will know what I mean. It is difficult to review as the Wool series is full of mystery and questions and almost everything I could say would require a major spoiler alert.

So let’s just leave this as a quick review by saying that Dust nicely answers all the questions left over from the previous stories and satisfactorily ties up all the characters’ individual narratives. It is also bloody good and damned exciting. Enjoy.

Shift by Hugh Howey

Shift by Hugh Howey

Shift by Hugh Howey

Shift by Hugh Howey is the second book in the Silo series. The first one was Wool. Both are brilliant.

Shift is actually a prequel that establishes how the whole scenario of people living in underground bunkers in a post-apocalyptic world came about. It ends by running parallel with the end of the first book.

Shift has three principal protagonists – Donald, a man who designed the bunkers and ends up in Silo 1; a guy called Mission who is in a bunker that is on the verge of revolution; and Jimmy, who was in Wool.

Donald’s story begins when he is a senator years before any of the madness started. Thanks to cryogenics, his story spans hundreds of years. We get a lot of questions answered during his tale (and the book as a whole) but more questions are then raised.

To be honest, I’m not all that keen on prequels as you effectively know what is going to happen and who is going to live. While this true with Jimmy’s story, his tale of survival is still a great read. Donald’s story is effectively a whole new scenario where anything can happen. There are some great moments in Shift and some amazing surprises and events. So don’t be too concerned about the whole prequel business.

This is the second book of the trilogy and if I was to be a tiny bit negative, it would be to say that it did feel a little bit like book two of a trilogy (but a superb trilogy). If you know what I mean. As I said, Shift doesn’t suffer from the ‘I know what is going to happen’ common to prequels, but it does feel like the pieces are being aligned for the final act. Having said that, the story is satisfying and intriguing and highly enjoyable in it’s own right.

If you have read Wool and are uncertain whether you should continue with the story then worry no more – read Shift and enjoy. As further ecouragement, you have to read this in order to read book three. Which is the best of the lot.

You can buy Shift on kindle here:Shift by Hugh Howey

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

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!

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

Game of Thrones 3

Game of Thrones

Am I talking about the book or the series? Actually both. My life seems to have been pretty dominated by Game of Thrones at the moment. I had previously read books 1 and 2 a while back, so it was great to watch the series. Then I took a bit of a break and read a ton of Science Fiction. Returning to the fantasy genre, I read the Assassin’s (Farseer) trilogy by Robin Hobb, followed by Joe Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy. Both of which were awesome and also come highly recommended with the promise from my good self of a review any second now.

When Game of Thrones season 3 began, I was in something of a quandary. I found that I increasingly had to leave rooms and pub conversations as people kept talking about it. I wanted to read it before I saw the show but the books are bloody epic. Book 3, A Storm of Swords was split in two separate books as most people don’t posses the musculature of the characters in the show and were therefore unable to carry it around. The TV show was mostly the first book, Steel and Snow, and I thought I would read just that. I could read it at a leisurely pace and eventually watch the show at some point when it had finished. Perhaps wait till the Blu Ray.

Then an episode came out that almost meant I couldn’t even go on Facebook for fear of spoilers as all my annoying friends mentioned the trauma experienced after watching it. The episode is now known as ‘The Red Wedding’. If you have seen the show, you probably remember it. The series finished soon after and amidst all the raving reviews and tales of harrowing viewing experiences, I learned that there are scenes from the second part of book three, Blood and Gold, that also appear in the season. The pricks.

So I downloaded the whole of book 3, A Storm of Swords onto my kindle and have done little else but read for the last week.

It has been well worth it. This isn’t so much a review of Game of Thrones but more of an excuse as to why I haven’t done much else with my time, including writing. If you want a review and are into fantasy then here you go:

Game of Thrones books 1 to 3 = Bloody Great!

Now, if you’ll excuse me I have 10 hours of season 3 to watch.

Here is a trailer for season 3 because… well, why not? If you’ve seen the show already, just enjoy. If you’ve just read the books, watch the show! If neither, then I recommend quickly reading several thousand pages, followed by hours of your life watching seasons 1 and 2 and you’re good to go.