My books and other Gingernuts

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

How old is Science Fiction?

Growing up in the seventies I received my first taster of Science fiction from comic strips, such as “Dan Dare” and watching mainly the BBC. On a weekday evening BBC2 would show the original Star Trek series and also Dr Who. Later on as the evening got later there were those old black and white films such as “The day the Earth stood still” and “The Blob.” Spotting Science fiction was easy, it was always about going into space or alien invasions and as a small child it was great. As I grew older I realised there was more to Science fiction though, alternate histories leading to different futures, inventions and science that change how the future plays out and even time travel. Like humanity the genre evolves and with a life born of imagination it never stood still as sub-genres shoot off in different directions.
The science fiction of the 20th century already had a rich history, spurred on no doubt by the space race and moon landings. “Star Wars” hit the big screen, followed by “Alien” and a host of other big and small budget films. Television has had so many great shows from the “Outer limits” through to “Firefly”, some remembered for their greatness while other sank and disappeared. Yet always there were the authors, the story tellers who push the field forward with the power of their imagination. The question though is where did it all really start, can the first ever Science Fiction book be pin pointed?
“The War of the Worlds” by H.G. Wells is an early contender, Victorian England invaded by Martians.
When it comes to the Earth being invaded this is still probably the best book there is. Released in 1898 the book became a popular hit in a world coming to terms with new and wonderful powered transport, the telegraph that sent messages over vast distances and of course electricity. Wells wasn’t the only author taking advantage of the wonders of the modern world. Jules Verne wrote “Journey to the Centre of the Earth” and “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” amongst others. Both are classed as Science fiction and with H.G. Wells and another author Hugo Gernsback, who is remembered for publishing the first Science Fiction magazine, they are referred to by some as "The Fathers of Science Fiction"

So is this the start that I’m looking for?
Well there are those who say that Jules Verne’s “From the Earth to the Moon”, is a retelling of "The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall" a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, published way back in 1835. Poe wasn’t alone in his writing of what we can class as science fiction as others also push forward Mary Shelly’s horror masterpiece “Frankenstein” as also falling into the Science Fiction stable. Published in 1818 she followed it up later in 1826 with “The Last Man” an apocalyptic story of a future world that has been ravaged by a plague. Now I think those books throw out the claim of Wells, Verne and Gernsback as being the “Fathers of Science Fiction” and place Shelly as the “Mother” with Poe doing a walk on appearance.
Yet Shelly isn’t the starting point either, the Duchess of Newcastle, Margaret Cavendish wrote a story better known as the “Blazing World” way back in 1666. This is a romantic adventure tale but one that would sit firmly into science fiction camp. The book influenced Alan Moore’s “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” where the Blazing World makes another appearance, a tip of the hat to the Duchess? Now here I think we have a first, yet maybe for science fiction in English Literature and the trail goes further back.
As you head back through history more stories pop their heads up. The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter is a 10th century Japanese folktale about the life of a mysterious girl called Kaguya-hime, who was discovered as a baby inside the stalk of a glowing bamboo plant. She is said to be from "The Capital of the Moon" so a visitor from another world found in a glowing ‘ship’ gives it a head start on Superman and it should take a seat at the sci-fi table.
In fact science fiction takes us all the way back into the mythology of mankind the world over. Ancient Indian myths speak of flying machines and weapons that could destroy entire cities. The ancient epic Gilgamesh from 2000BCE Mesopotania, the first recorded text of literature is cited by some as science fiction and if you look at the many ancient tales of the flood then you have apocalyptic science fiction right there.

The simple fact is science fiction has been around as long as people have told stories, people have wondered what the future world would be like and wondered what lies out in the night sky amongst the stars. The simple truth is that despite many ‘serious’ book people looking down at the genre of science fiction it is the oldest form of literature there is. It can be traced back to every creation myth and stories in the oldest religious texts, the first writers of science fiction wrote the stories of the Gods, of strange machines and other worlds with power and technology that would appear as magic and divine.
Science fiction isn’t just some genre of writing and storytelling but it is the original and oldest form of storytelling.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

STAR WARS - Daisy Ridley versus Pagan.

Daisy Ridley recently shared a video of her training for the next Star Wars film and she is looking awesome. Inspired by her my daughter decided to pick up her own lightsaber.

P.S. If Daisy wants any tips...

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Still a Monster. The killer of Cecil the Lion.

So when is an apology not an apology? We have been told that the American dentist, Walter James Palmer has apologised to his patients in a letter for killing the lion known as Cecil
In a letter to patients he says:
"In early July, I was in Zimbabwe on a bow hunting trip for big game. I hired several professional guides and they secured all proper permits. To my knowledge, everything about this trip was legal and properly handled and conducted.
I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favourite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt. I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.
I have not been contacted by authorities in Zimbabwe or in the U.S. about this situation, but will assist them in any inquiries they may have."
He goes on to say:
"The media interest in this matter – along with a substantial number of comments and calls from people who are angered by this situation and by the practice of hunting in general – has disrupted our business and our ability to see our patients."

What you read is not in any way an apology but a string of excuses and passing the blame in a way that reminds you of a politician caught with their pants down. James Palmer isn’t sorry for being a monster that travels the world in order to kill animals for his own twisted amusement. You can make a safe bet that pretty soon he’ll be looking to pick up his crossbow and head out for a new victim.
Cecil the lion was shot by Palmer with his crossbow after being lured out of the wildlife reserve by the hunting party dragging an animal carcass behind their car. After being initially shot with the crossbow he was then stalked for 40 hours before Palmer finished him off with a rifle.
According to the Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Management Authority, two locals are facing charges for assisting in Cecil's killing: the hunter Theo Bronkhorst and a local farmer identified as Honest Trymore Ndlovu.

This ‘hunting’ experience, including the 40 hours of suffering Cecil underwent cost Palmer around $50,000. We are supposed to believe that at no point did Palmer think there was something not right, not even right at the start when they lured the lion from his protected home. Are we to believe he didn’t see the collar while posing for photos before they beheaded and skinned Cecil? Palmer is an experienced killer of big game for trophies so should know if things are dodgy, after all this isn’t the first time he’s been caught out illegally hunting.
Palmer is a monster who does not regret killing a ‘wrong lion’, only getting caught and the effect it could have on his business and his ability to then keep on killing animals around the world.
And as a final word, according to recent reports from the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, which issues hunting permits, Ndlovu did not have permission to hunt a lion on his farm. Therefore, any lion killing was illegal, and anyone involved in a hunt is a poacher.

Monday, 13 April 2015

So let's talk about my depression.

So you finally go to the doctors as your family and friends have been worrying about you, you’re not yourself. You’ve been ‘down’ and don’t want to do anything. You sit with the doctor and feel stupid as you rub your hands together and avoid looking at the doctor as you mumble about being forced to come. Life is pretty shit for you at the moment and this is embarrassing. You’re at the bottom of a deep hole and you can’t climb out, you’ve tried but the holes just been getting deeper for months.

You’ve said this to yourself far more than it’s been said to you, let’s face it you’ve failed. You’re worthless and you just want to be left alone.
Then the doctor explains that actually you’re not worthless or a failure but you’re ill. What you are showing is the symptom of your illness, what you have is a real thing and it can be treated so you can get your life back. So you sit at the bottom of your hole and feel worse, how could you be so weak? How can you tell people you’re depressed, they’ll look at you and judge you. It’s all over the news about people with depression and how they sponge off of society, they’re not right in the head. So you shuffle out of the doctors with your ‘happy pills’ and an appointment to come back in two weeks and you just want to hide away and cry.
Your family are supportive and understanding but you’re just numb, then again you’ve been numb for months. You don’t care because you can’t, there’s no spark of life just the deep hole you’re sitting in. People will judge you, they will treat you different because you’re mental, a nutter. Not that you care, the tablets won’t start to kick in for a couple of weeks and it’s not until that happens that that will worry you.
You have an illness but it’s not one society likes, it’s a shameful illness that people hate and fear. People are shunned for mental health problems, they whisper behind your back about you. You should just snap out of it, pull your socks up and stop being a burden. It’s the mental people who go on killing sprees; they’re not safe to be around.

Well to all the people who think like that I’d just like to say a nice big


I was ill, depression is a sickness but with medicine I got better. I’m not the person I used to be because now I’m stronger and I’m not ashamed. I got out of that hole and beat my illness, it may come back again but if it does I’ll beat it again. Many people suffer from mental health and not one person ever skipped out of the doctors with a smile because they could claim extra benefits. People with long term mental health illnesses don’t sit there cutting themselves while laughing about the extra money they get. They muddle through life waiting for the next episode when there life will fall apart. Yes you may see them living their life and smiling as they walk around but you won’t see them hiding from the world unable to cope. You won’t see their loved ones bandaging their wrists to cover the cut marks so their kids won’t see or sitting by their bed worrying as they took another overdose. You won’t see the panic attacks or understand the compulsions that can drive them. There is no amount of ‘benefits’ that can make living with that worth it.
There is a reason people say you suffer from mental health problems but the stupid and ignorant will never work it out. Our government and media can spin their lies to make us an enemy, a drain on the tax paying people who don't get it. Well maybe now you may get it a little more and actually think about the truth of mental illness and how you can help stop the attacks on those who suffer from it.

Sunday, 13 April 2014


The government is pushing for more private investment into our education system, for public schools to become more like the private school system. They want to see a profit from education, to have schools making money.
Now just how can education and making a profit go together? Well as shown with the Universities tuition fees there is a cash cow there but can a nation that insists on education for all really do that?
Well let’s jump into the future of what our education could be in 30 years’ time and see how an education system could return a profit if it is run as a business.

Well tuition fees will be a must for all children. Now the government will cover the cost of a basic education where you child learns the basics of reading, writing and basic mathematics up to the age of 12. After that student loans will be available to cover the rest of your child’s education, the amount of the loan needed will depend on the school and education you wish to purchase. Your child’s education level will depend on how much you want to spend on it, a tailored education for your child’s life needs. You will have control of what they learn about by choosing the core subjects they will study. You don’t think that trigonometry is useful then they don’t study it. You and your child have the control on what they learn about so you don’t pay for learning the things they won’t need. An individual education for every child where you decide what level of education they learn to.
The next big change will be we wouldn’t need a Head Teacher in the schools as that position would be taken up by a business manager who would ensure a good return for investors. Also would you really need every class to have a professional teacher, especially when teaching children under 12? I mean just think of the money saved if you employed unqualified people at minimum wage, after all how hard is it to teach reading and writing? All these ‘teachers’ will have to do is work from a basic government guidebook, if parents want more they can purchase extra educational needs for their children.
The next thing schools can make money from is sponsorship from big companies and here there is a big opportunity to exploit, School uniforms. Sportswear firms can sponsor a school and in return they provide the uniforms that the children wear, at a fair market price. These companies can also provide worthwhile work experience for the students by providing ‘work’ placements for children of up to 3 days in a school week. On these placements the children will learn to make the uniforms they wear, working in factories and able to build up credits that can be used to pay off their student loan when they leave school. This will see a return of the manufacturing industry to the UK and children leaving school with real life experience of working in the real world.
Lessons will be central to the new education system and here is another way to gain investment. A company or organisation can bid to provide a schools lesson plan for each subject. If they want to provide a school history lessons then for the right ‘bid’ they can chose what part of history your child is taught, science can be tailored to the needs of a company in the area so the education meets the needs of the company or organisation. Education will be about providing real life skills to the student, learning what is needed to set them up for their future. If a religious organisation wishes to ensure their children are taught the truth, according to their beliefs then they can take over ownership of a school and tailor lessons to meet the needs of their pupils. By choosing these schools parents can choose to have their children taught only what is true to their own beliefs and so protect their faith. And as the school is free to set the cost of the education they provide they can collect financial donation(tax free) to offset the cost to the pupil, even providing 'free' tuition.
All in all the future of education for profit gives the child and parent the choice and full control of what they need, a tailored education for their future in our rapidly changing world. They will learn only what they need and will have the chance to repay their student loan before they leave the education system, learning valuable work skills in the process.

Monday, 7 April 2014

My Writing Process, author blog tour.

My Writing Process - Blog Tour.
Well here goes nothing then; Rob Bayliss tagged me in this author blog tour where we all talk about our different writing styles. Rob is the author of The Sun Shard novel and is currently working on the follow up Flint and Steel, Fire and Shadow. (The Sun Shard is available from Amazon so go find it and check it out.) Now while as many of you know I’m not really an author but a story teller it seems I’ve still not been found out yet and kicked out of the author lounge. To read Robs blog on his writing process just follow this link –

So let’s get down to the questions and see if I can give you some answers that make at least a little sense.

1. What am I working on?

At the moment I’m struggling with two stories and working on whichever I seem to be getting the ideas for. The first one is another story based around my John the Barman short story. This is a mysterious owner of a bar where gods and all sorts of supernatural creatures go to unwind after a hard day doing their job. It fills in the blanks of what these creatures really do and think about and the day to day trials of their lives. In the second story Lucifer, Death and a group of the customers decide they need a holiday to escape the stress of work. What follows is a no experience spared ‘lads’ package holiday which includes them coping with budget airlines and ensuring you get a sun lounger by the pool. Sunburn and drunken nights abound as the group experience their first holiday ever.
The second work in progress is the ever so slightly later than promised Third Book in the Alienbutt Saga. This comedy space opera sees the hero, Piestoff Alienbutt left leading the Ick and rebels of the Outer Systems after the bloody rise of the evil Mr Fluffy. With the universe in tatters and the heart of the Federation and Coffee Houses ripped apart old enemies must form an uneasy alliance to combat the diabolical Mr Fluffy as he tightens his grip on his new universal empire. With Fate and Destiny left wondering what went wrong can Alienbutt still be the saviour of the Ick Empire or will the universe fall to utter ruin?

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

With my stories I try to take a totally ridiculous idea and turn it into a story that is not just (hopefully) funny but also action packed.
The Alienbutt Saga is based around humanity using coffee, which is the most addictive drug ever know, to take control of the universe. Only the last Alienbutt and the Ick Empire can stop them, well that is until a new evil rises to challenge both sides. The mysterious Mr Fluffy is a super intelligent cat who aims to take control of the universe that rightly belongs to him anyway. The story is full of epic space battles and strange science as war rips apart the universal peace.
John the Barman is about putting gods and supernatural beings into everyday situations of having jobs they hate, retirement and growing old and online dating problems. Also my other short story series in the Vampire Eloim Stories, the tale of a teenage cross dressing vampire struggling to stay out of trouble as a Demon Empress tries to hunt him down. A young vampire that is stylish (even if it is his sister’s outfit he’s wearing.) but doesn’t think twice about killing and would only go to a school to drink all the cheer leaders.

Why do I write what I do?

I have a twisted sense of humour and like to look at the world and see the bizarre in everyday things. I get random ideas and sometimes they come together into something I can make into a story. I would struggle to write a story that didn’t have a slightly twisted angle to the subject as my brain can’t cope with serious, so I’m left to my own devices so far to just be that strange person telling daft stories.

How does my writing process work?
Well the easy answer is I sit with a glass of whisky and drink, type and refill the glass. This is because I only really get the peace on an evening to sit down, relax and write. During the day there’s always things that need doing (Facebook isn’t a distraction at all, honest.) and until I sell enough books I can’t afford a housekeeper. I get ideas from anywhere, a random conversation or just letting my mind wander. John the Barman came from a Facebook status update and the equally twisted minds of people on my friends list. I don’t have any rules for writing, never set targets (I always miss them) I just see an idea and try to see where it will go. If it’s a good idea then the words will flow and I end up with something, if not it’s back to Candy Crush until another idea forms. Another good point of my writing style is I’m lazy so because of my subject matter I don’t need to do a lot of research, I really do just make it all up as I go along.

Well that’s me, like I said I’m a story teller as I’m far too unorganised to be an author. Next up on this Blog Tour is one of my favourite horror authors and luckily for me a friend. The founder, with her husband of Gingernut Books who decided they like my daft stories enough to take me on.
So let me introduce the red-headed stealer of souls from the depths of Sherwood Forest, the amazingly talented Michelle Gent. Michelle burst onto the horror scene with the amazing Deadlier… than the Male, a sprawling epic that introduced readers to her world of wolfkind. With more books following plus her Dusty the Demon Hunter series she has established herself as a mistress of horror.

Her blog can be found here:

Monday, 4 November 2013

The last man to enter Parliament with honest intentions.

Guy Fawkes, probably the most famous traitor in British history, a name and face now linked as much with the modern fight against political corruption as the plot that got him killed. Yet how many people now remember much about the failed gunpowder plot? True we have bonfire night still and in some cases a guy is still burnt as fireworks explode but was guy Fawkes really the freedom fighter he is now painted as, the man who set out to bring down the government?
Well in a word, no he wasn’t. For a start it wasn’t even his plan, he was just the bloke who knew how to make things go bang and got the job of lighting the fuse.
The whole idea was actually Robert Catesby’s, a catholic zealot who wanted England to return to being a catholic state so planned to assassinate the king and entire privy council at the state opening of parliament. Now Catholics in England had not had the best of fortunes since good old King Henry VIII had taken control of the English church and things got worse under Queen Elizabeth I. In the new protestant land being catholic really didn’t go down too well. When King James I took the throne many Catholics hoped things would get easier but that didn’t happen.
So this Catesby began to gather his band of religious fanatics with the aim of placing a nine year old Princess Elizabeth, daughter of the king, on the throne as a catholic head of state. Catesby brought Guy Fawkes in as the explosive expert, a man with a decade of military experience fighting for the Catholics in the Dutch Revolt. Now being a man of strong religious belief it is believed that Catesby realised for his plan to work and the House of Lords to be redesigned by twenty barrels of gunpowder there would be quite a large loss of life. This plot would kill more than just the king and the others placed before his little princess in succession. In the grand tradition of a religious fanatic considering mass murder Catesby did the only thing possible, he went to see a priest. The priest in question was the principle Jesuit in England, Father Henry Garnet. Now the two met on three occasions but at the first meeting Catesby mentioned the morality of ‘killing innocents’ and how god and the pope would view it. Garnet said such actions could be excused but was worried enough to send messages to Rome asking that they forbid rebellion against the crown. At their next meeting Garnet showed this letter and tried to turn Catesby from his course. While Garnet knew of a plot but not the details he could not reveal it as it was protected by the rules of catholic confession. His hands tied Henry Garnet was dragged into the plot and the consequences when it failed. Now I dwell on Henry Garnet for one main reason, he was born close to where I now sit, in my very village in fact.
Henry was one of at least five siblings who started his education in Nottingham before entering Winchester College in Winchester, Hampshire where he excelled. With a place at New College, Oxford guaranteed he chose instead to move to London and worked for a legal publisher. In an ironic twist he also often dined with Sir John Popham who would later preside over the trials of the gunpowder plotters. In 1575 though he set sail to Portugal and entered the Society of Jesus, travelling later to Rome he was eventually sent back to England. The Jesuit order had been banished from England and any priest arrested would be charged with high treason so Garnet lived his life in hiding. A man who preached peace and worked for acceptance he became an unwitting victim of Catesby’s plot.
After things went ‘tits-up’ Garnet was forced to go on the run but it wasn’t long before he was captured and ‘questioned’. His response to being threatened with the rack does stand out, "Minare ista pueris” Threats are for boys.
With the use of forgeries but mainly torture Garnet finally revealed he had heard of the plot from another priest Oswald Tesimond who had heard it in confession from Catesby.
Charged with high treason he was found guilty and sentenced to death, accused of being an instigator of the plot. His execution was to be hung, drawn and quartered although when he was thrown from the ladder to be hung members of the crowd are said to have pulled on his legs so he was dead before he could be cut down alive and serve the rest of his punishment. His head was then displayed on a pole at London Bridge, probably the innocent victim Catesby had asked about.