Saturday, December 31, 2016

This Coming Week, I'll Mostly Be Enjoying

An absolutely superb serial on Netflix.

Set in the here and now, Travelers involves the ongoing fight of handpicked survivors from the future who are sent on a one-way journey back to the present day to alter certain occurrences. Their hope? To prevent a stellar catastrophe from setting off a chain of events that eventually ruin the earth and puts mankind on the brink of extinction.
With me so far?
The thing is, it’s not as easy as you might think.
For while there are other groups of travelers scattered across the planet – who can provide support should emergencies arise – each are intent upon their own missions. Additionally, our intrepid travelers arrive by taking control of the bodies of those recently deceased at the moment of death. Their consciousness is downloaded as it were, across spacetime, whereupon they adopt the lifestyles of their hosts…
In our case: an FBI agent – lucky guy; a single mother struggling to raise her baby whilst fending off the unwanted advances of an abusive father (who just so happens to be a cop); a young woman with special needs who is subject to welfare checks; a college boy prone to flout the rules; and finally, a heroin junkie.
Quite a mix, eh? And quite a story too, for Travelers is as slick and tightly woven together as it is powerfully poignant. You see, if our heroes succeed, then they risk their own lives, for the timeline from which they were sent might no longer exist.
If you haven’t seen Travelers yet, do make the effort. You’ll be glad you did.

American Gods

By: Neil Gaiman
I’m only three chapters in, and am enjoying this novel immensely.
(And from what I understand, this will soon be a major new TV series?)
I’m not surprised. It’s a marvelous dark fantasy that pulls you in the moment you start. Even better, I’m sure this is a character mentioned in “Trigger Warning” a short story collection by Gaiman I recently finished and reviewed on Amazon:

See my website for the review link

So I don’t give anything away, take a look at a the blurb:
Days before his release from prison, Shadow’s wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and king of America.
Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break.
Scary, gripping and deeply unsettling, American Gods takes a long, hard look into the soul of America. You’ll be surprised by what – and who – it finds there…

I think I’ll be on this for some time. I’ll let you know what I think as soon as I’m finished.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Something for the holiday?

While things have been quieter, I’ve spent the past week or two relaxing, binge reading and watching the TV, Netflix in particular.
Here’s a brief list of three of the things I found particularly enjoyable:
The OA

Wow! What an enthralling first series. Ethereal. Provocative. Disturbing.
The OA details events in the life of Prairie Johnson, a young woman rendered blind by a childhood trauma which resulted in her clinical death. Upon her recovery, she moves to America to start a new life with a new family.
The thing is, Prairie is abducted, and spirited away to a mystery location. Reappearing seven years later, she can now see and has one heck of a tale to tell. Except that – she doesn’t tell it. Not to her family. Not to the FBI. Not to counselors.
She does, however, start to open up to a disparate group of people in her community who share nothing in common except for the profound way Prairie’s influence seems to affect their lives. But how does she do that, and why?
Though vulnerable, Prairie possesses an uncanny mental toughness that reveals she is a true survivor. So, it begs the question: Are her revelations true or false? Is the complicated tale she spins to her small group of supporters part of factual reality, or the product of a fragile, damaged mind?
I thoroughly enjoyed this first series of the OA and found it compelling viewing. If you’re looking for something different from the mainstream agenda, try it out.
And talking mainstream…

Van Helsing.

Easy to watch and fast-paced fantastical fun.
Set three years into our future, Van Helsing details events in the life of Vanessa, a woman who is attacked and left for dead in her own home during a cataclysmic event that becomes known as – The Rising – a time when North America is covered by a vast swathe of cloud following a volcanic eruption that allows a hidden menace to show its ugly face. Vampires!
Van Helsing details Vanessa’s turmoil as she slowly recovers and struggles to come to terms with who she is and the changes in society following The Rising. Of course, it also details her obsession to find out what happened to her young daughter.
There’s a natural progression to this little adventure that keeps you entertained – if somewhat frustrated at times – by her topsy-turvy ability/inability to fight, and the “dog-eat-dog” interaction between bickering fellow survivors. (A typical stereotype of the human race – we’re barely hanging on – but let’s keep killing each other anyway mentality)
One thing I did particularly enjoy was a nice little subplot the creators wove into the story. There’s a hidden serial killer lurking amongst the survivors. If you watch and listen, you’ll be able to work out who it is. But I’m glad the producers didn’t make it too easy.
And of course, there’s an end of season cliffhanger that will leave you guessing.

I’ve got to say – Well done Netflix – I enjoyed both series for different reasons and look forward to watching them again when they reappear. (PLEASE – not too long).
Finally, we come to my choice of reading material.

Wind From the Abyss

Some of you will have already seen my review for this particular story, as I published it earlier in the week on Amazon and Goodreads. I’m repeating it again here, as it really is a treat of a story for those who like fantasy of a deeply philosophical nature.
Owkahen – the time-coming-to-be – sets the tenor and ethereal current for, “Wind From the Abyss,” the third and most esoterically endowed chapter from Janet Morris’ Silistra Quartet.
The previous installment, “The Golden Sword,”, saw Estri – former well keepress of Astria, outcast and champion – rise to become a power among mortals as she at last begins to wield the sovereignty of her forefathers, a heritage she seems loath to acknowledge. Together with Sereth, a former high-ranking Slayer turned renegade, and Chayin, Cahndor of a Parset desert tribe, they form a triumvirate of authority as foretold in an ancient prophecy.
Such prophecy, however, threatens the influence of “the dharen” – Khys – an autocrate who has ruled Silistra for thousands of years. A man who, like Estri, is descended from the Shapers, (those gods who create and destroy worlds and civilizations by the application of thought and will).

“Wind From the Abyss” picks up the tale some two years later, and we find circumstances have changed drastically for our heroic trio.
As slave to Khys, Estri now wears a band of restraint, a device that curbs her talents as it scatters her memories. Alone, helpless and totally unskilled, she is in complete subjection to her master, and lives only at the whim of his good will.
Sereth and Chayin fare little better, for their apparent “freedom” is but a sham; an exercise of true dominance by the dharen who realizes all three are key to maintaining control of the planet.
Khys isn’t shy of demonstrating his absolute supremacy over them. Not only is Estri reduced to mere property, but Sereth and Chayin are forbidden to enlighten Estri regarding details about her past. They must also serve at Khys’ beck and call on the most distasteful of tasks.
Thus, the scene is set for a storm wreck of possibilities to be, for the weathers of life will blow where they will, and prophecy has its own methods to ensure fulfillment.
How this transpires, exactly, you will have to discover for yourself. But you’ll be glad you made the effort, for “Wind From the Abyss” continues one woman’s quest for self-realization in the face of overwhelming conflicting tides: destiny and betrayal; plots and politicking; lust and ambition.
With engrossing, well-rounded and thought inspiring characters, and as amazingly erotic as it is action packed, “Wind From the Abyss” transposes the strictures of time and space and limited morality, to reveal how fragile those in positions of absolute power can be, and how those impotent may rise to the dizziest of heights.
Owkahen cannot be denied.
So there you go. If you find yourself wondering what to do over the holiday period, try any or all of the above out. You won’t be disappointed.
Failing that, you could always force yourselves on my books?
(I won’t mind at all)

Stay safe now…

Sunday, December 18, 2016

This Week, I shall Mostly Be Enjoying...

I'm making the most of my extra time off until the New Year.

Spending time with my wife, Annette, is of course a priority. 
And on the in-between times, I've just started watching - The OA on Netflix

I've gotta say, I'm rather taken by the first few episodes I watched since Friday.

A young blind woman who vanished seven years before our story begins reappears after throwing herself of a bridge. People think it was attempted suicide. It wasn't. But what are the strange scars on her back, and how come she's regained her sight?

Yes please. Another quality show from Netflix.

Another thing to arrive on Friday was a novel by one of my favorite authors:

I'm already 40% of the way through this latest instalment from the Silistra Quartet, an epic tale regarding one woman's journey of self discovery in a universe dominated by social and personal taboos just waiting to be tested. 
One of the best examples of allegorical fantasy you will ever read.

But don't take my word for it...take a look for yourself 

Sunday, December 11, 2016


Like many other people, I finished watching the first series of Westworld earlier this week, and I've got to say...I was impressed.

I remember being entertained by the original, where Yul Brynner wrought havoc across a wide swathe of the Western adventure park, trying to run down his victim. And while I thoroughly enjoyed that 1973 original, THIS is something completely different.

Provocative. Thoughtful. Intelligent. Dark menacing.

The new rendering is all that and more.
I love storylines that make you work and keep you guessing. Even better if they can catch you by surprise along the way.

The cast - in my humble opinion - did a marvellous job in portraying the inevitable turmoil you'd expect to take place if anything like this really existed.

Super-advanced synthetic androids struggling with the process of becoming aware through the experiences we humans take for granted ...and so often waste.
And what about those human beings - arrogant and superior atop their lofty perches - refusing to see the obvious because..."It just isn't possible! That can't happen!"

Backbiting. Politicking. Hubris.

It's all there.

I thoroughly enjoyed this first series and am looking forward to where the second series takes us. (And I do hope we get a twist with Ford showing up - somehow).
You'll see...

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Purrrfect Strangers?

Meet some of the gang.
(L - R Stripes, PG, Lugosi, Beauty & Tiggy Mummy)

As some of you know, I spend some of my spare time looking after stray cats. These particular ones are living within the grounds of one of the hotels on Kos. Obviously, during the summer months they get lots and lots of food and fuss from the customers. Once things shut down, however, that's it. They either have to hunt or starve.

So, one of the things my wife and I do is drive round to various spots and feed the cats. It's not gourmet cuisine, but it's enough to keep them alive until next summer.

I chose this particular family of cats, because some of you already know one of them.

Do you remember Pepe?
(The one who was repeatedly shot in the face and all over his body - 14 times in all - by brain-dead morons?)

Well, on Christmas Day, he'll have been with us for a year.
And although he can't see properly, this is what he looks like now.

And this is his son - Lugosi (After Bela Lugosi, as his fangs stick out a lot) - and his grandson - Paintbrush (Look at the tip of his tail on another photo)

Lugosi and Paintbrush are still at the hotel. 
As are their friends.


Feeding Time

Tiny at the back
(See the tip of Paintbrush's tail)

Anyhow, these are just a few of the 60 odd cats my wife and I feed every day. And though we don't do a great deal, hopefully it'll see them through another winter.

So there you go. They're quite a good audience when it comes to trying out my stories, so if they like the stuff they hear, in the book it goes.

Until the next time...