Tag Archives: scifi

Happy Scifi Christmas!

yodasantaHappy Christmas from the mothership of Scifi Ward! I hope you all got the box sets and books you so richly deserve. If you got a kindle feel free to um… look to the right and um… buy a short story… You would make a scifi story writer very happy.

No matter what you believe in and whatever planet you personally hail from, I hope you have a superb day. Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas. Live long and prosper. Drink eggnog.

Happy Christmas. Live long and prosper. Drink eggnog.

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

Fantastical Literature Travel Posters

Science Fiction Destinations

This is, indeed, fantastic. If you are a Science Fiction fan, (and given where you are that’s likely,) you will recognize a lot of these. The Fantastical Literature Travel Agency Poster Project has recreated Science Fiction locales as travel destinations and quite frankly they look superb. Here’s the blurb from the esteemed head of the project, Autun Purser:

H. P. Lovecraft...

“I love those old travel posters from the 1950s etc… They used to make travel seemexciting and adventurous. Now most of us get on a cheap airline and fly off to a rubbish hotel in Spain for a week for our holidays…

…Science Fiction and Fantasy books also used to be a pinnacle of excitement and adventure.Today however, the lure of DVDs, computer games and comics has dragged attention away from some outstanding stories…

…With this project I will try and put together a set of 30 posters advertising the fantastical destinations featured in fiction books… As was commonly the case in the 1950s, I will limit the travel posters I produce to a set of defined colours (a limited palette) and use only typefaces used on historical posters… This will ideally give the posters a striking look and a unified feel…”

 

In addition to these posters there will be further input from some guest artists. There will also be a book featuring all this awesome art with reviews and thoughts from some writers.

This project looks great. I really need a bigger house as I want these on my walls.
For more information, here is the website:

Dead Space 2

Dead Space 2

I finished this game a week or so ago and I’m still a little traumatized and exhilarated. Dead Space 2 is superb on every level. It’s exciting, well paced, well designed, looks stunning, and has a great story. It is also unbelievably violent and gory to the point where I am now utterly desensitized to pretty much anything a game can throw at me.

Predictably, Dead Space 2 continues the story begun in the first game. You play Isaac Clarke (a scifi nerd nod of respect to Asimov and Arthur C.) as he struggles to survive against various beasties, monsters, and zombie-like necromorphs aided by a large selection of limb-slicing weaponry.

There are some superb set pieces with ridiculously large baddies and zero gravity action. There are also smaller and more creepy enemies like weird screaming little children necromorphs and, even creepier, little crawling babies that make an odd wailing noise and then explode when near.

Evil exploding babies

The story is fairly good too. There are double crossings and weird religions. There’s also a sub-plot with Isaac’s dead girlfriend who appears every now and then to freak you out. The action is set in a massive floating city and is awesome. I spent more than a few minutes just staring out the window.

I didn’t find it particularly scary but that is probably due to having watched a shitload of horror films and generally being desensitized to all things spooky and violent. My wife walked past at one point and was a bit freaked out by the casual way I shot the arms and legs off a necromorph then calmly walked over and stomped on its head, causing it to explode. Then I got jumped by another one who thrust a limb down my throat and ripped me in half. I barely noticed and sipped my tea.

Above all though, Dead Space 2 is just a great game. It’s brilliantly made with gorgeous graphics, realistic physics, superb and easy controls, and just the right amount of ammo and health to make it a challenge while remaining fun. I only played the solo mission though. There is multiplayer but I could never get it to work, although hopefully that is fixed now. Even considering this I still didn’t feel short changed.

Highly, highly recommended.
http://youtu.be/z7Qy_4sWs3I
 

 

’48 by James Herbert

48 by James Herbert

’48 by James Herbert is the most exciting book ever written. Probably. It’s certainly the most exciting book I have ever read (although Conan and the Road of Kings comes close.)

The story is set in 1948. Hence the title. When the Second World War was coming to an end and Hitler realised that the good guys were going to win, he implements his final solution. This involved firing a load of rockets that contained a deadly virus that pretty much wipes out the whole of mankind. Everyone except people with AB negative blood in fact, which is about 3% of the population. It’s the ultimate in spitting your dummy from the pram.

’48 begins with an American pilot who was stationed in London but is now just trying to survive. He is perfectly healthy because of his blood type. Not everyone got a full blast of the virus, so some are dying slowly. In London, most of the remaining ill-types happen to be blackshirts. British fascists who were fans of Hitler and had consequently been in the out-crowd for most of the 40s. They also happen to be slightly insane and want some healthy blood.

So we have the setting for a chase with diseased Fascists, lots of guns, all through a post-apocalyptic London. Which is pretty awesome.

As I said, this book is buttock clenchingly exciting. The first line is: ‘What the hell was that?’ There then follows an epic chase during which the main characters are established (our hero meets some friendly people), as is the setting and the premise. All while bullets fly, things catch fire, stuff explodes and buildings crumble. The first bit even resembling a moment of calm doesn’t arrive until about a third of the way in. Then it kicks off again until the end of the book where there is an epic showdown at the Tower of London and Tower Bridge.

48 isn’t flawless but the flaws don’t detract from what the book is trying to do. There isn’t a lot of plot but there rarely is in post-apocalypse tales, they are tales of survival. There are a few other questions such as why the blackshirts seem to have survived in such great numbers and are all diseased. Everyone else in the book has AB negative blood and is ok.

James Herbert’s ’48 isn’t deep but is just great fun. Highly enjoyable action/occasional horror fare. The characters are great and the action is relentless and well done. It should be a movie but I suspect it will give people heart attacks. I loved it and this was my second read of it.

In conclusion:

Most. Exciting. Book. Ever.

New Science Fiction eBook site

Old Sci Fi covers are brilliant

I bought a kindle about a month ago and have been experiencing a bank-busting eBook buying frenzy. I love books and will always buy them. Especially second hand science fiction paperbacks with the sorts of cool covers people don’t seem to do anymore. I do love the convenience of having hundreds of books in my pocket though. It’s a bit like someone who still collects vinyl but has an iPod.

Most of my old collectable books are currently in a load of boxes in my parent’s attic. Where they will stay until I have a huge house and can display them with pride. But the thing is, I still want to read the books. So I went to the kindle store, all excited, and prepared to buy some classic sci fi.

Harry Harrison

For some reason I had a hankering for adventurous science fiction. None of your deep soul searching novels just cool ideas with great characters – I wanted fun and exciting premises. Space pistols and daring adventure on dangerous planets. Cities in flight or planets of death. Killer robots and meddling aliens. Visions of the future where you could smoke a pipe on a spaceship’s bridge. And so forth. In particular I wanted two authors that have always satisfied this need: Edmund Cooper and Harry Harrison. There are obviously lots of others but these two were among my favourites when I was a teen. To my surprise they weren’t available until the end of September and they both had the same publisher – Gateway.

On the 11th October I got an email from this publisher informing me that their website SF Gateway is up and running. And I’m well impressed. It has only just started but they have a lot of old scifi books and authors on there already. Golden age maestros like James Blish, E.E. Doc Smith, Jack Vance, Joe Haldeman, Cooper, Harrison and more.

Before I sound like an advert I will stop. I’m just excited that someone is finally addressing this gap in the kindle market. Set lasers to die, charge up the rockets, get the women in spandex and lets get those evil aliens.

The website is here: http://www.sfgateway.com/

Hothouse by Brian Aldiss

Hothouse by Brian Aldiss

I recently read Non-stop by Aldiss and having thoroughly enjoyed it I thought I’d give Hothouse a go. Happily I loved this too.

Hothouse is set in the future. The far, far future future. As in a few billion years from now. The sun is expanding and will soon go nova. The Earth and Moon have stopped rotating with the result that half the planet is permanently facing the sun. On this half the plants rule and the land is dominated by one huge, continent spanning banyan tree.

Plants have evolved and even mimic extinct mammals like birds or rabbits. Some plants are even more mental. One, for example has evolved into a mile long spider that has spun webs from the Earth to the Moon.

Most of the plants seem to be predatory, which makes survival a real bitch. The story starts with a small group of humans who live in the middle branches of the tree. I say small as there are only about 10 of them and also because they are about one foot tall. And green. Various things happen but essentially one of them goes on an epic adventure all over the globe.

I loved Hothouse because of the sheer imagination and wonder that went into it. As it is so far in the future it might as well be a fantasy. There are some mad as fuck creatures living on the planet. Some of the larger predators are the size of volcanoes and emit a hypnotic noise. Others are island sized or intelligent parasites and so on. After the initial set up, the book moves at an awesome pace with one adventure after another.

There are a few negatives though. The characterization isn’t all that strong. You don’t really care about the characters all that much. They feel like they are just there to witness the world as they travel. As that world is fascinating this doesn’t really matter. Also, the book feels a bit disjointed. The reason for that is because it was originally five short stories that have been pasted together and this results in a slightly disjointed narrative. There are also some minor contradictions that a good editor should have spotted.

One of the main criticisms is that the science doesn’t work. To that I say bollocks – it really doesn’t matter. As I said earlier, the book is practically a fantasy.

This is a great book with a lot more depth to it than I have credited here. It questions intelligence and the ‘live in the now’ mentality that is detrimental to progress. It questions other things too but I have gone on enough.

After a slightly slow start, Hothouse just goes from great to awesome. Highly recommended.