It has been far too long since I last made an update here (and, among other things, I'm pondering switching from Joomla to WordPress to see if that might motivate me) so when I saw this floating around the internet, I figured I'd answer all 20 questions here. If anyone is interested?
Favourite genre to read?
Can I say "Speculative Fiction" and thereby cover the field? My favourite genres are Science Fiction and Fantasy, but I also read quite a lot of Horror, and I always enjoy a good Thriller. Often these genres overlap -- I'd call SF & Fantasy setting genres, while Horror and Thriller are plot genres, so give me a good Horror Thriller in a non-mundane setting and I'm happy.
Although, that said, I don't mind Urban Fantasy either.
Basically, I've never been very good at picking favourites...
EBook versions of my Array Wars trilogy are now available for those who want them, in both EPub and Kindle (Mobi) formats. If you happen to have an eReader that cannot read either of these formats, please drop me a line with its details and I'll see what I can do. In general, though, unless you have a Kindle, the EPub version should work for you. (Apple devices, for instance, work quite happily with the EPub file!)
So, here they are:
For those interested in the technical details, I'll tell you that I generated the EPub files via a Perl script from the original TXT files the novels were written in. The same Perl script also produces the online HTML version that is available elsewhere. I then used calibre to convert the EPub files to the Mobi format.
Edit: for some time these files were in native file format. However, for a while now my website has been spammed by a runaway spiderbot which seems to ignore zip files, but delights in downloading multiple copies of epub and mobi files. Consequently, I've zipped these up to hopefully resolve the problem. I apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.
Edit II: It seems there was a formatting error in the epub of Book 2. It has been fixed.
It was October 2001, barely a month after the attack on the World Trade Center that changed the world, when I had the encounter that changed my world.
I came downstairs into the garage, on my way to work. My garage was fully enclosed, but there were several ways in which a small animal could get inside, not least of which was the pet-hole that the previous occupants had carved into the rear door. (There was also an interior door into the rest of the house, usually kept closed.) This particular morning I came down to discover a cat making itself at home on the bonnet of my car. This was not uncommon—there were several cats in the neighbourhood and they all seemed fond of my garage—but usually they would bolt as soon as I opened the door. This one simply stared at me. I shooed it off my car, and it bolted out the hole in the back door, launched itself to the top of the six-foot fence between my place and the neighbour's yard—and paused there just long enough to give me a look that said "you don't get rid of me that easily!" I went to work and thought no more of it.
The next day I came down into the garage again, to find the same cat sprawled comfortably across my bonnet. I shooed it away. Instead of running away, it jumped down, trotted fearlessly across the floor towards me, rubbed itself around my ankles and demanded loudly: MeeOOWWWWW! Feed me!
Great Gaming Moments: Miasmata
I play a lot of computer games, and along the way I see a lot of awesome level design. Every so often, however, events converge to produce a moment that makes you giddy with excitement. Perhaps none of the individual elements are particularly special, but the combination of them—an emergent event that could never have been planned or scripted—is greater than the sum of the parts. Maybe it’s impossible to convey exactly what about the moment was truly great—perhaps you had to be there—but I’ll give it a shot.
Miasmata is different from many of the games I play. It’s a first person survival/research game. You the player are stranded on an island, but possibly by choice. There is a plague, and you are seeking a cure. The team that came before you have found some of the answers (before they died) but you must collect their research and perform more of your own. Of course, you are suffering from the plague yourself. You are weak, unable to swim any distance at all, barely able to stagger along on level ground. Can you find the cure before you succumb to the illness? And can you avoid the monster—oh the monster, the fearful (but somehow absurd, but still fearful) monster—that stalks you?
I've always been a writer—although I haven't always thought of myself that way. Indeed, for many years after leaving school, the only written output that I considered relevant consisted of one short story, a couple of unfinished attempts at short stories, and perhaps a dozen poems. And most of those were haiku, which aren't exactly wordy.
That long dry spell seems to be at odds with my claim; when I look back on that time, however, I realise that I was spending night after night on a couple of online forums, pouring thousands of words into the sorts of arguments that nobody ever seems to win: Evolution vs Creation was probably my most popular topic of discussion. It became apparent quite early that many of the people on both sides had no idea what they were actually talking about—and while I couldn't do much to educate everyone else, I decided that I could at least improve my own understanding of both sides of the coin. I bought biology texts, I bought religious holy books, I read as much as I could squeeze into my day—and still I would spend hours each night, writing. Perhaps I never changed any opinions, but that period certainly helped cement my own ideas.
Doctor Who: The Edge of Destruction (1964)
Wedged between the epic story of The Daleks and the upcoming epic of Marco Polo (for which, sadly, no episodes survive), The Edge of Destruction is a cheap little time-filler in which nobody leaves the ship, and no additional characters beyond the regular crew are involved. With the stories either side of it going over budget, and with a delay in the production of Marco Polo, there was the need for exactly this sort of story, and it was written at short notice.
That said, however, it is actually quite an important tale in the series, and it introduces a number of concepts which helped to expand the mythology of the show. Quite simply, as they are leaving Skaro after their encounter with the Daleks, the TARDIS shudders to a grinding halt, throwing everybody aboard violently off their feet, and delivering them to the Edge of Destruction.
I, Robot (2004)
The Three Laws of Robotics:
Warning: this review may contain spoilers.
The movie I, Robot is "inspired by" the book of the same name—a collection of short stories—by Isaac Asimov. I'm currently reading The Complete Robot which is, I believe, an extended version of I, Robot with a couple of extra stories. When I first saw this movie, I was familiar with the Three Laws, but not the content of the book. I remember, at the time, there seemed to be a group of Asimov fans expressing their disappointment at the path the movie took—but I thought it was actually a quite logical outgrowth of the three laws…
Cold Prey (2006)
Cold Prey: Resurrection (2008)
Warning: this review may contain spoilers, particularly around who lives and who dies...
Cold Prey (its Norwegian title is Fritt Vilt) is described in a DVD cover-blurb as "probably the most perfect slasher movie of all time". How well it meets that glowing promise, I couldn't say—I guess in large part it depends how you define the "slasher" genre—but it was certainly an entertaining entry in the field.
The opening scene shows somebody—a young boy, in this case—running through the snow, fleeing from something, some unseen horror. Needless to say, he does not escape. Next we are introduced to our cast of soon-to-be victims, a group of attractive young people on their way to a snow-boarding holiday. We have an established couple who are very close, and the question of whether or not they should move in together appears to be their only source of disagreement, a new couple who are still testing the waters, and a, well, fifth wheel, a single guy. The two girls are close friends; it was never entirely made clear who the fifth person was friends with. Not that it mattered; these were all pretty close friends, and there was very little personal conflict when everything went wrong.
El Mariachi (1992)
Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)
"The most drop-dead gorgeous woman you'll ever see."
That's how they describe Salma Hayek (or rather, Salma Hayek's character) in Once Upon a Time in Mexico—and it's difficult to argue.
I've just watched the three movies: El Mariachi, Desperado, and Once Upon a Time in Mexico. Together they form a fairly loose trilogy that follows the adventures of an itinerant musician -- the role taken first by Carlos Gallardo, and then Antonio Banderas.
The first movie was made by Robert Rodriguez on a budget of approximately $3.50 and a slice of pizza. All things considered, it actually holds up remarkably well, and does a fine job of telling its tale of mistaken identity, a drug war, and the wandering Mariachi who gets caught in the middle.