Cake And Orange Juice (15/6/2010)

Posted in Critical Failures

I was at a children’s party over the weekend. The Sithlings get invited to enough that I have a pretty shrewd idea what to expect, but for those of you who don’t know, it goes roughly like this:

Most of the children will know each other. They are all ‘friends,’ although being children, they will occasionally have fallings out over nothing much and acts of random meanness may occur. Little alliances are routinely formed and then broken. However, to start with, none of this matters. Energy levels are high. Excitement fills the air. The odd little setback or contretemps is quickly resolved and forgotten.This lasts for about fifteen minutes, the exploration-of-the-new-environment stage. There may be a few minor upsets, trips, falls, random acts of perceived injustice and so forth during this time, but they are isolated and quickly repaired.

This is what we parents (behaviour regulators in the normal course of things) think of as Golden Time: They’re all off playing together, doing whatever they do that generally seems to involve lots of running and climbing and shouting, but that’s all fine because they’re doing it without any supervision, and there are few words more glorious to the parent of a small child than ‘without supervision.’

Play continues, increasingly more frantic and manic games develop as they bolt on more and more ideas to whatever basic aliens-vs-predators or plants-vs-zombies game they started out with. Restraint falls away; everyone’s playing flat-out, all striving to be the loudest, the best, the leader, the strongest, getting more and more excited and more and more hyper on less and less energy.

Eventually the inevitable happens, somewhere around the hour-and-a-quarter mark. Someone trips someone else up.  Someone’s invisible friend says something to someone else’s invisible friend. Someone gets thumped. Someone pushes someone. The shouting turns to tears and the next thing you know there’s a whole gang of children shown up all crying and pointing and telling you who did what to whom and how no one is their friend any more and how they want to go home and mope in their room all day listening to My Chemical Romance, only emerging during the hours of darkness.

No, wait, that last bit comes later.

So their little worlds go from utopia to horror-filled nightmare-of-social-injustice in the space of a minute. But fortunately, we are prepared, because we know this is going to happen. So we sit them down around a table. Ten minutes of calming down, a slice of cake and a big glass of orange juice and they’re ready to again.

Anyway, we were having our peace and quiet before the inevitable crash. I was sat with a friend I haven’t seen for a little while who does stuff to do with money, so I asked him what I’ve been asking everyone who can spell ‘bank’ of late: Where did the money go?[1]

We reckon it went roughly like this:

Most of the bankers will know each other. They are all ‘friends,’ although being bankers, they will occasionally have fallings out over nothing much and acts of random meanness may occur. Little alliances are routinely formed and then broken. However, to start with, none of this matters. Energy levels are high. There’s lots of shouting and waving bits of paper. Excitement fills the air. The odd little setback or contretemps is quickly resolved and forgotten.

Eventually the inevitable happens. Someone trips over a string of bad debts. Someone pushes someone. Everyone’s invisible moneyfriend falls out with everyone else’s invisible moneyfriend. The shouting turns to tears and the next thing you know there’s a whole gang of bankers shown up all crying and pointing and telling you who did what to whom and how no one is their friend any more and how they want to go home and mope in their room all day listening to My Chemical Romance, only emerging during the hours of darkness.

Seven trillion pounds. Most expensive cake-and-orange-juice ever.

[1] I once had this silly naïve little thought that banks ran short of money when they lent it to people and didn’t get it back. But no. We’re talking about stuff that’s not actually real, but serves a useful purpose as a psychological prop. That sort of money. So, in essence, they run short of money when their invisible friend falls out with someone else’s invisible friend. And that, I’m afraid, is as good an explanation as most of us are ever likely to get.

Racing to Twarmageddon (2/6/2010)

Posted in Critical Failures

I think I came close to some sort of mental collapse when Guilliermo del Toro quit The Hobbit. Not because of the event itself (bad enough), but because everyone, EVERYONE had to announce it. Even days later, my twitterstream was still reading something like this:

eastingspaghettibolognaisetonightDELTOROQUITSHOBBITfacebooksucks DELTOROHOBBITSHOCKisrealiskillsomemorepeoplebutnoonecares GUILLIERMODELTOROTOLEAVEHOBBIT!!!

Alright already. Can I not mourn in peace? Fortunately the Twitter servers didn’t collapse into an information black hole, there was no naked banality unprotected by a sense horizon and the four 140-character horsemen of the twapocalypse didn’t emerge to systematically convert the world to moronic matter at a subatomic level. Although I gather it was a close run thing.


I’ve been playing a Shadowrun game on and off for the last couple of months while our regular GM moves house, sorts his plot out and my Diamond Cascade posts catch up with where we’re actually at. Shadowrun, for those who don’t know, is a point’s based game which allows you to take certain inconvenient character traits in exchange for better skills at stuff. Things like having a bomb in your head that will explode when someone yells ‘Oi! Dickface!” at you, for example. Everyone should have one of those. Particularly people who drive Audis and BMWs. They should have really big ones [1].

Anyway, I’m a mathematician. Presenting someone like me with the opportunity to min-max a system I’ve never played before is a bit like going up to a crackhead, giving them a big lump of crack and then asking very nicely if they’d mind just looking after it for a bit and not smoking it. Fortunately this is a system that doesn’t allow you to go completely mental and end up with an immobile brain-in-a-jar with enough psychic powers to dissolve an entire planet into its component atoms every twelve hours or so (I miss you, Champions, I really do). So I have a media addiction. My character must spend two hours a day, every day, mindlessly surfing the internet. For this, I have earned myself half an extra point of charisma. Or logic. Or intuition. Or something. What a race of supermen we could become if the real world worked like that too, instead of the other way round.

[1] Sorry Dave [2]

[2] Yes, it did occur to me that you’d end up blowing yourself up too. Sometimes that seems like it would be worth it.

Travelling Hopefully (30/12/09)

Posted in Critical Failures | News

Someone asked me a couple of days ago whether I plan in detail or use the ‘travel-hopefully’ method. Now being asked questions like that makes me feel all unnaturally important, as if my words and methods might carry some weight and I was all set to write a lengthy post on how to set about writing a story. Fortunately some sense prevailed; the fact is that everyone seems to write in different ways and I think everyone probably has to find what fits the way their head works.
That said, ‘travel hopefully’ does describe the way I write quite well once I get going, but having said that, there does have to be some sort of framework in place before I start; everyone has to have something, right? Otherwise how do you know where to begin? I don’t think I know anyone who sits down in front of a keyboard knowing nothing more than that they are about to write a story…

So what do I need? I need:

  • A world. It doesn’t have to be fleshed out an detailed, but it needs to be there in skeleton form. In particular, I think what matters are the general rules by which the world operates. The big things that will shape it need to be thought through. The Adamantine Palace may not have that much world-building actually in it, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t thought about. For a fantasy world, is there an analogous period in history? I will always start from something real and then add bits (magic, dragons, the fact that the moon is made of cheese, whatever). These bits need a little basic thinking through, too, about what the consequences are for the base society when you add the extras. I’ll do most of this as a go along, but I need to know how the rules that govern the way the world works have changed because of whatever I’ve added (or taken away). Same principle goes for Science Fiction and technology. If you’re going to set a story in the real world, then which part of the real world and which time in history?
  • Some driver characters. A few main protagonists with what they are trying to do and why and very roughly what they’re like. These might be characters who will be in the foreground of the story (example: Prince Jehal: Intelligent, cynical, callous, wants to be top dog (because being the top dog is the only place that’s safe), deep down also wants to be… <spoiler deleted>) or they might be in the background (Saffran Kuy in The Thief-Taker’s Apprentice). They are the characters who are shaping events. What they are trying to do and why they are trying to do it will define the way the world changes during the course of the story.
  • Some front-line characters. These might be the same as the above or they might be different, but these are the characters who are in the foreground of the story. I find they tend to acquire their own personalities and colour themselves in as the story goes on, so all I have here at the start are a few seed characteristics that make them stand out from those around them (Angry, guilty, can swing a sword. That sort of thing).
  • An end. In some ways most important of all, I need to know how the end is going to feel. Someone has to either achieve something or fail to achieve something. It’s not so much the specifics of what that I have up front, it’s how it’s going to feel for the reader (bitter-sweet is always a favourite with crushing despair a close second, but there’s always the possibility of a happy success). There may well be several ends for several different story-lines.

And that’s it. After that it’s travel hopefully time. Which has worked extremely well on some occasions and less well on others. This year’s submissions will be The Order of the Scales and The Warlock’s Shadow, both already written in draft straight off the back of their prequels (on the grounds that all the preparation work had already been done) and both examples of FAILURE of the method, dammit! The Order of the Scales in particular has rolled a fumble (er, I mean has a lot wrong with it). I can see at least three re-writes being necessary before it’s good enough to be submitted. The first one started this week, along with the stress headaches.

This would also be the time when some sort of review of the year would appear, but I haven’t got time for that right now. Here’s one someone else made earlier.

Dear Rafa (3/11/09)

Posted in Critical Failures

OK, I was going to write something snarky about how wonderful it was that Liverpool have finally managed to sort out the problem that’s been holding them back for the last few seasons (namely getting far too many draws). Yeah, phew, good to be throwing that monkey off our backs. Perfect record so far this season too – not a single one…

Yes. I was going to do that, and then I read this and hey, we’re all armchair football managers right, what do we know <biting back the urge to seethe about Alonso going to Real Madrid. Biting. It. Back>?


So I’ll just sit here in bed, eating Chinese takeway, writing aimlesslessly amid a big pile of kittens, taking a break from the re-write-athon, thinking that yes, sometimes writing sucks like any other job. But not today.

Back to the un-real world next week with our silly name competition winner (still open, but the current number one is going to be hard to beat), news on the gazetteer and maybe one or two other things.

How to Get Published: Myths and Legends (23/09/09)

Posted in Critical Failures

Hints and tips brought back from Fantasycon 2009 and a few reminiscences.

So you’ve written a novel. You’ve got the craft of putting words together into coherent sentences, choreographing those sentences into scintillating paragraphs, corralling your paragraphs into scenes and assembling a story. How do you get from there to seeing your name up on the shelves in the local Waterstones? The internet will fall over itself to tell you what you can do. All sorts of books will do that too. Trouble is, do any of them really work? Continue reading “How to Get Published: Myths and Legends (23/09/09)”

A Stain Upon the Vastness (4/8/09)

Posted in Critical Failures

Meh. Finished manuscript blues. I could start on the next one, I suppose (OK, OK, I already cracked on that yesterday). I could start the rework for King of the Crags (editorial comments have now been received, and will be blogged about at sarcastic length[1] shortly). But I’m going on holiday for a week of wandering around on Cornish beaches in the pissing rain, and since I am NOT ALLOWED to take my ‘work’ with me (and since I don’t yet have a ruggedised mil-spec laptop suitable for use in Afghanistan Cornwall, what’s the point in starting something for a week only to put it away again, eh?


Meh meh meh. Can’t even play with kittens (why do the kittens get a longer holiday than I do? Do they need one? Was the assault on my USB stick that stressful? Maybe they’re plotting. Maybe that’s it <twitch>)

Well, for a week, I’ve found a passable distraction. There’s this thing at Orbit: The Worst Cover Ever. I can’t draw for toffee (sorry Doodled Books but I did warn you). What I can do is blurb, though. So here we go.

A Stain Upon the Vastness

Fifty thousand parsecs out from the edge of the dying Galaxy, the last surviving remnants of the human race, devolved back into savagery and ignorant of the origins, float through the vastness on an artificial world. They are monitored from within by the Uppers, the elite few who have access to the vast data banks and artifical intelligence that controls the world. They are safe, self-sufficient, their survival assured.

Until they encounter the mysterious Stain, a being of pure energy that might just be God or The Devil.

Cue some mish-mash of Forbidden Planet, old Star Trek and a reworking of the Garden of Eden myth that’s as subtle as a brick…

Man, I love that title (and the one about the dancing cyborg fairies too) I might offer up some more blurbs for the other Orbit covers. In the mean time, go check out the other titles. And vote Stain! (I didn’t come up with this. I just like it).

[1] I’ll be making almost all of this up, damn you Simon, since there’s absolutely nothing in what you’ve said that isn’t entirely reasonable and, well, at all easy to get worked up about.

The Speaker (23/6/09)

Posted in Critical Failures

Who will be the Speaker of the Realms? <dun-dun-daaaa>

For anyone who’s reading this and doesn’t already know, a significant part of the plot to The Adamantine Palace revolves around the Machiavellian manoeuvrings and machinations of a group of ruthless, selfish, murdering bastards for the position of Speaker of the Realms, a sort of Capo di tutti capi of the dragon-realms. Particularly astute reviewers have noted a sprinkling of contemporary social commentary (thank-you, Locus) present in this. Share with me for a moment, then, my amusement at the the current plight and manoeuvrings surrounding the appointment of the new Speaker of the House of Commons. Overlord of Fraud? Not for me to say; I’ll leave that to the bold men and women of the Daily Telegraph and merely observe that in many other countries, this level of expense-fiddling behaviour would be so mundane that no one would even raise any eyebrow. So let’s be glad we don’t live in any of those places, eh?

Yes, share my amusement and then share with me my disappointment at not having any say in who’s next to sit in the silly chair. Because, frankly, I’d like a say in the matter, and I’m not going to get one. Boo! Hiss!

Done with the disappointment now? Good. Let’s be honest, you didn’t actually care one way or another, did you? You were just pretending. No matter: Mere facts and reality should never be allowed to get in the way of a little bit of fun. Since any say I have in the matter will be purely a fictional say, I don’t see why I should stick to casting my fictional vote for people who are defined merely by their aspect of actually existing. No, far more fun to add my own candidates to the list (especially since the alternative would be ‘none of the above’, and using my fictional vote to tick ‘none of the above’ on my fictional ballet paper for a fictional election that exists only in my mind seems, well, noticeably unsatisfying).

Anyone with a serious interest in politics, look away now. They gone? Just closet geeks and nerds like me left now? Right. First the honourable mentions. These are the folks who didn’t quite make it into the top five, but deserve a mention anyway for the admirable qualities they could have brought to bear on the job, Starting with….

Conan the Barbarian: A personal favourite and old friend, Conan can be relied upon to clear up any mess, usually by turning it into a different kind of mess with more blood involved. Likely to be a short stint at the job, but probably very satisfying for almost all concerned.

Dr. Van Helsing, or indeed anyone else experienced in dealing with bloodsucking vampires. Um… because, well… because. Would probably have made it into the top five if Abnormal Lamont had still been in the house.

Severus Snape: Makes out like he’s one of the bad guys but actually isn’t. Worth a go for the withering sarcasm. “What is it now, Clegg?”

The wizard responsible for Pinocchio’s nose. Don’t know who he is, but we have people on the case.

John Connor and the heroes of all slasher flicks: They know what it’s like when everyone is out to get you and have good experience dealing with people that keep coming back again and again no matter how many times you think you’ve gotten rid of them.

Right. And now, without further ado, my own personal top five fantasy and SF candidates for the new Speaker of the House of commons:

Sneaking in at number FIVE is A Dalek! Can be any Dalek you like. Darren the Dalek, say. Rather let down by serious question marks over his ability to provide strong moral guidance, Darren the Dalek has nevertheless made the list simply for the satisfaction of hearing that the traditional call for “Order!” has been replaced by the familiar old favourite “Exterminate!” and general ensuing consequences.

In at number FOUR: HAL2000! Always calm, always patient, never losing his temper or raising his voice, HAL brings to the job a logical perfection and a guarantee to exactly follow the rules, perfectly and without question, whatever they are. May unexpectedly lock everyone out of Parliament on a point of order from time to time, but I’m sure we can live with that. Distinctive sound bite: “I’m sorry Gordon, I can’t let you do that.”

At number THREE: The X-men’s Professor Xavier. No more procrastination and tub-thumping during Prime Minister’s Questions, no with the Prof you get answers, plucked straight out of the mind of whatever minister matters. Now questions like “Does the Prime Minister truly believe that the Iraqi government is capable of deploying weapons of mass destruction against the United Kingdom in the space of forty-five minutes?” can have the answers they deserve. Like “No, actually, the Prime Minister is pretty damn sure that’s total bollocks, he was just hoping you wouldn’t ask.” Does that sound better? Thought so. Also brings a keen and willing intellect and a strong moral sense to the job. Telepathic powers may pose some security concerns, however.

At number TWO: Any D&D cleric of at least third level. Why? Silence 15′ Radius, that’s why. Extra credit may be given to higher level clerics who can throw a flamestrike or two into the mix.

But now for number one. This character brings both moral backbone and a certain flexibility to the job. He may not always be politically correct, in fact quite often he’s not, but he’s the perfect Servant to Society. With his trademark cry of “Oi! You lot! Shut it!”, expert in dealing with a rowdy rabble, my personal favourite, squealing into the lead around the last corner at the wheel of something that sure ain’t a Toyota Prius, the winner of this blog’s Fantasy Speaker award, let’s hear it for… DCI Gene Hunt!


I’ve missed something. What is it?

Oh yes. Psst… Hey Cameron… “Exterminate!

Damn. Now sitting and writing a piece about the Gemmell awards seems positively drab and mundane. I guess that can wait. Laters dudes. Got to roll with my Dalek fantasy for a while now.

Where Be Dragons? (12/4/2009)

Posted in Critical Failures

(An abridged version of this article appeared in the April issue of Sci Fi now, and got repeated loudly and with much gesticulating at the Eastercon panel ‘Don’t trust a book with a dragon on the cover’)


Here be dragons. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Filled with mystery and anticipation. You don’t know what to expect, but whatever it is, it’ll be something impressive, something vast, something that will change anyone who comes by it. Something not easily faced. It sits there on the edge of the map[1], impassive, implacable, a challenge to anyone who dares to explore the unknown corners of the world.

So where be dragons? At first glance the answer appears to be absolutely bloody everywhere. There’s something about them, something that fascinates us with a grip that no other mythical monster has. Flip through the myriad of satellite channels and you’ll come across a cartoon of some sort with a dragon in it. Fantasy literature can’t get away from them (mea culpa and proud of it); even when we’re not writing about them, we’re thinking about them or flirting with them or actively avoiding them. Not only is that true now, it seems to have been true forever. Dragons (or lion-snake-raptor things that might be a bit like dragons) appear in indigenous art across Europe, the Far and Middle East and the Americas. As early as Babylon’s Ishtar Gate[2], as geographically disparate as Vietnam and the Arctic Circle. Pretty impressive for something that doesn’t exist. You might point at crocodiles or giant snakes or lizards, or at the unearthed fossil remains of dinosaurs, but none of that seems to account for the geography of the beasts. I think, if we can’t leave it as a mystery, I like the collective hard-wired subconscious fear of large flying, slithering and clawed predator-things all rolled up in a tidy fire-breathing package. OK, I’m not sure where the fire bit comes from[3], but I’ll put that down to those early fantasy authors who wanted to make their Beowulf and Sigurd characters look really hard.

But what is a dragon? What does it mean? A common conceit among fantasy writers is that names matter. To call something a dragon should mean much more than ‘four-legged flying fire-breathing big thing’. The dictionary is, at first, a little less than helpful:

dragon, n, a fabulous winged scaly-armoured fire-breathing monster…[4]

Right. So four-legged fire-breathing big thing. With wings and scales. Did that bit already and anyway, lots and lots of fabulous creatures that get labelled as dragons don’t have wings and/or don’t breathe fire. That just tells you what some (i.e. contemporary European) dragons happen to look like. Wings and scales and fire might define how a dragon appears (or they might not – most early depictions of ‘dragons’ don’t tend to have the wings or bad breath; given the origins of their name, they’re more likely to have the same deadly gaze as a basilisk[5]), but they don’t define what a dragon is. They’re colouring, clothing, dressing to hang over the fundamental essence of dragon-ness that lies underneath.

dragon, n, Something very formidable or dangerous. [6]

That’s more like it. For me, that fits, whether we’re talking about Fafnir or Smaug or the more benevolent dragons of Asia. Something formidable or dangerous. I don’t think that’s enough, though. The dragons that Beowulf and Sigurd fought weren’t merely dangerous. They stretched the strength and courage of the greatest heroes of their time to the very limit. Their point, I think, was that they were so formidable and dangerous that they could not be stopped by any man save one. They defined the heroes that defeated them. Without their dragons, the myths of Sigurd and Beowulf wouldn’t have existed.

Which brings me back to the very first question. Where be dragons? Things with the label ‘dragon’ are regularly wheeled out in works of fantasy, both book and film. But do they deserve the name? Are they something very formidable or dangerous? The answer, in my opinion, is almost always no. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with flying, fire-breathing ponies, or with an armoured company aiming their 30mm cannons and Stinger missiles at things with wings that flap instead of wings that don’t. They can wear the clothing and the label of a dragon, but that alone doesn’t make them  a dragon, at least not in a symbolic sense. They become trappings of the background world, a colourful piece of scenery.

I think, with a very few exceptions, we have emasculated our dragons. We give them traits that are recognisable as human. We try to explain how they work, how they live, what they eat, how they came to be. We steadily bring them within the circle of our understanding. In the end, we make them like us, and there’s probably a very straightforward reason for that. There’s no space on the map any more for Here Be Dragons. Sigurd and Beowulf are, to be blunt, rather one-faceted heroes. Modern protagonists (and I’m talking about fiction in general now) are expected to be much more human, much more multi-dimensional and, frankly, are much better for it. Dragons have simply followed the trend. Besides, you can’t get away with having a dragon and simply going ‘Oooh! Dragon!’ and expect anyone to be impressed, because we’ve seen it all before. Dragons have evolved in order to survive within our changing stories, but I think they’ve lost something on the way.

We have a book at home called You’ve Got Dragons. It’s a story about a boy who is chased by scary dragons. Gradually he learns about them, turns to face them and they stop being scary. It’s fine enough for what it is, as a parable for children. It’s a natural human thing to do after all, to try and understand something. That’s how we deal with the unknown. That’s how we conquer fears, by understanding things, by breaking them down into little pieces and assimilating them one by one. It’s a thing that children need to learn. The dragons in this case are a blunt metaphor for childhood fears – as you come to understand them, they diminish and go away. In the context of teaching children not to be afraid of the dark, that’s fine. In the context of a work of fiction, I think we’ve shot our collective selves in the foot. By understanding our dragons, we’ve diminished them. In doing that we’ve diminished the heroes that fight them and ultimately ourselves.

The very last sentence of You’ve Got Dragons is: No dragon is more powerful than YOU. However well intentioned, that sticks in my craw. No dragon is more powerful than me? Excuse me? Yes they bloody well are! That’s their whole point, damn it! Something formidable and dangerous, remember? Something that only a hero can overcome. And anyway, don’t we need a few dragons? A few lurking monsters and terrible mysteries to keep us from apathy and complacency?

And that’s just dragons. Don’t get me started on what we’ve done to vampires.

[Exits to the strains of The Stranglers “No more heroes”]

[1] Dragon trivia: The phrase ‘Here be dragons’ seems to originate from the Lenox Globe, c.1505. That appears to be about it, until fantasy writers took up the baton. Never mind, eh.

[2] Creatures that look like hybrids of eagles, lions and serpents are documented in descriptions of the gate and appear on the reconstruction in the Berlin museum.

[3] Alright, alright, it’s probably an embellishment of the flickering red forked tongue of some snakes and lizards or something like that.

[4] The Chambers dictionary

[5] From c.1220, from O.Fr. dragon, from L. draconem (nom. draco) “serpent, dragon,” from Gk. drakon (gen. drakontos) “serpent, seafish,” from drak-, strong aorist stem of derkesthai “to see clearly.” But perhaps the lit. sense is “the one with the (deadly) glance.” Nice.

[6] A secondary definition from wikipedia’s online dictionary.

The Power of Poo (Part II) (8/3/2009)

Posted in Critical Failures

So I have a roleplaying party who are part of a band of travelling actors/musicians/performers(/clowns) and who don’t like to be sucked into anything that might be dangerous. They’ve found themselves travelling with a dodgy mage and they’ve handed him in to the authorities. They’ve witnessed an atrocity and handed it in to the authorities. If they found money lying in the street they might keep it, but only if they were sure it wasn’t dangerous. What, I wondered, would it take to kick them into action…?

I mean, what happened to “You’re all in an inn when a shadowy stranger staggers in. He slumps over your table, bleeds a lot, holds out a map, gasps something about ‘treasure’ and dies,” and that was all you needed to do? Adventure started. Plot ready for thickening. Lights camera action, etc. This lot would back sidle hastily away, pretend they’d never been there and complain bitterly to each other about the bloodstains on their clothes.

Well now I know what it takes. I suppose I should have seen it coming, but the plot now revolves around poo. It’s not even my fault. They started it. I’m just jumping on the bandwagon.

So, if nothing else works to kick-start your adventure, I have a new one. “You’re all in an inn, bleary-eyed from the night before when a bunch of people run up and throw poo all over your stuff.”

Yeah. Do I have your attention now? Never mind glory, never mind riches, never mind the looming cataclysm that threatens to end the entire world. Dude, there’s poo on your stuff.


Crysis (revisited)

Posted in Critical Failures

Am playing this again. Am remembering how awesome it was the first time. Tanks! The tank level rocks!

And now I am remembering how crap the last 40% of the game is about to be. OK, to be fair, *relatively* crap.


And *now* I’m also remembering that I need a better graphics card. And Crysis Warhead.

Going Wireless (19/5/08)

Posted in News

This is about how I write. Or rather where. In the before-time, when The Adamantine Palace was a twinkle in someone else’s eye, I had some definite aspirations in that direction. I would have a proper desk instead of a glorified shelf. I’d have a comfy chair instead of some amputated space-hopper Swiss-Ball thing. I’d have a nice keyboard, and a monitor that worked and didn’t randomly switch off and refuse to work for days at a time until I took all the screws out of the laptop case, did absolutely nothing else at all and then put them back again (with one unaccountably left over, of course). Nothing special, just the simple earthy dreams of a lowly writer.

So when the first advance cheque arrived, I bought myself a little treat. Dreams of writing via thought-transference while sitting in a levitating ergo-pod at a desk the size of Mars would have to wait until at least book two or three, but I could at least get myself a laptop which didn’t have keys missing and a monitor that was sensitive to the phases of the moon.

Easy. Job done. Hurrah! My so-called desk would still only fit a ham sandwich or a cup of coffee but not both at the same time, and I’d still be forced to sit with perfect spinal posture whether I like it or not (except when I fall off), but now there would be nothing standing between me and a good dose of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Except…

Except I went wireless at the same time. See, I thought that being able to send and receive e-mails from my little shelf, instead of having to do it from the Big PC That’s Only Really There For E-Mails And Playing Crysis, would be useful. I thought it would save time. It was an honest mistake, it really was…

Do I get to use my little laptop? Ha! Do I have to queue? Oh yes. Do I have to sit and watch other people ‘update their profile’ and ‘just check their e-mail’? Oh yes. Do I pine for the good old days where all I had to do was get out the screw-driver and I’d be back in business is a mere couple of hours? Oh yes, yes, YES! Was I given an earful of abuse (I quote: ‘I only need it for five minutes.’) and practically kicked off-line even when I was writing this. Sad but true.

Friends, think before you WLink.