Bristol Fringe Podcast by yours truly…

10 04 2014

The podcasts for the reading I did for Bristol Fringe on March 17th have been put up on Cheryl’s website here.

There are three pieces…

1) My short story Getting There, which is near future and down to Earth in Bristol (seemed a rather appropriate story to read considering the circumstances). The story was originally e-published by Kraxon Books in February this year.

2) In a sense building on the theme of the short story (though the short story was written afterwards) is an excerpt from my novel. Sorry, but it is not published, so no link to the written words. This is up off-Earth on one of the moons of Uranus – Miranda to be precise.

3) Then of course, a very short excerpt from the new story about C.A.T. (the cheeky thing has already sneaked around the internet. found it and blogged with a characteristic smug self-satisfied MeWow!). One way or another this will get published in due course and you can find out all about what was puzzling C.A.T. in the story then.

Then there was an question and answer session – hope I didn’t make a fool of myself!

My thanks go to Cheryl for compering and editing out the (ahem) stutters from my reading. Thanks to those who organise Bristol Fringe readings and put together the podcasts.





C.A.T.’s a-wheedling!

10 03 2014

Oh dear… C.A.T.’s got his ‘wheedling and I won’t give up until I get what I want’ mode on. His been going on about having a birthday, like us humans.

I said no, absolutely not. He wasn’t born like my other cats (the boys, Jaspar and Rufus, were born on 12th May in the middle of a nettle bed in the middle of a thunderstorm… what an auspicious start for them!)

He grumbled and mingled, pointing out he did like my other cats come into existence.

Well, I had to agree with him there. So I asked him when he wanted his birthday to be.

He gave me answer.

I said no absolutely not. That was the day the great earthquake and tsunami hit Japan and went on to cause the Fukushima meltdown, with a horrendous lost of life, injuries and damage to property, farming and wildlife.

Do you know what the cheeky thing replied?

That it wouldn’t be a day I would forget. I was to consider it an even more auspicious day for him!

Don’t you hate it when computers like him come back at you with cold logic?

Then he decided that as he now had his own blog, he would declare his birthday on that…

… well, what can I do, except wish him the normal felicitations?

Happy Birthday, C.A.T. for tomorrow, March 11th. It’ll have been three years since his first short story was published, and it only seems like yesterday…

 





More Cat Legends

5 11 2013

In my post about Guard Cat being published I mentioned one of the story’s inspirations was my Grandma taming a real wild British cat…

…well, my cousin kindly sent me a copy of a photo of her with her other cat, Nicky….

img231Yes it’s that big black thing on her lap. But Nicky is a family legend in his own right…

He was once owned by a neighbour across the street, but was kept on a lead of barbed wire – yes I did say barbed wire. Grandma did not approve. She strode over there and taking Nicky firmly said to the neighbour, “The cat’s now mine.” The neighbour never argued or protested about it. The barbed wire of course came off at once. Nicky was a very grateful cat to Grandma and was well behaved when she was around. Anyone else was another matter…

Grandma had to go out on a short errand one day and told my father (then a nine-year-old boy) to stop Nicky eating some raw beef she had put out ready to go into the oven. As soon as she was gone, Nicky took one look at the beef and one look at my father guarding it. Of course, Nicky had the beef!

…and Nicky looks so peaceful in the photo – the butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth type of cat!

Yes, Nicky was part of the myth that went into science fiction of Guard Cat – who would have thought it at the time? [I reckon the photo was taken early-1950s judging by the age of my relatives.]





C.A.T.’s video

27 10 2013

I’m sure C.A.T. has got an annoy-the-author app… conversation went like this…

C.A.T. – Why haven’t you done it?

Me – What?

C.A.T. – You’ve forgotten all about it, haven’t you?

Me – I’m busy

C.A.T. Grrr… after all the trouble that nice chap Terry’s been to to produce it. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. Honestly, no organisation, planning or anticipation. Why do I have to do all the thinking around here….

Me – Oops, sorry C.A.T., but  have been rather busy, you know

C.A.T. – What could me more important than me? Now get that lovely, gorgeous video on your blog… or I’ll scratch your new car when you get it….

Me – You wouldn’t? You would…

So here it is the link to the video of C.A.T. that Terry Wright over at TWB Press has kindly put together. Enjoy





Bring out the champagne – Guard Cat is here!

21 10 2013

The third in the C.A.T. series – Guard Cat – is published and available from all good e-book stores, including the publisher, TWP Press and Amazon UK.

Just when C.A.T. thinks life on Triton Base is back to normal, an old love interest from Commander Zacman’s past shows up. And if that’s not bad enough, she brings with her a very special kind of robo-cat, A Mark 4 female Guard Cat with an alluring tail and a set of whiskers that are shockingly dangerous. She’s one screaming mean feline that will teach him the meaning of love and the consequences of partaking in such human of endeavors.

The Mark 4 female Guard Cat is based on the British Wild Cat … why that, you may ask?

My grandmother grew up in the wilds of Northumberland (in the UK). There she made friends and tamed a real British wild cat. The story goes that this wild cat would not let any man near her, except the one who became my grandfather… it’s a true family story… such things are legends made of!

My thanks go to Terry Press for bringing out this wonderful story into the big wide world!

And yes I’ll be reading an excerpt from it at Bristolcon next Saturday as the organisers have been kind enough to give me a reading slot!

Guard Cat Full Detail




What continuing sales of SF stories mean…

22 02 2013

Being fairly new to having published books on Amazon etc, albeit just in the electronic versions, it is rather pleasing that ‘C.A.T.’ and its follow-on ‘Neptune’s Angel’ continue to sell copies such a long time after publication. Yes, people actually want to read on from the free extract part and are willing to dole out the money to do so. After the initial wave of family and friends purchasing copies just after publication, the people buying now have to be complete strangers. It’s as if word is getting round that they are enjoyable reads.

I find this greatly reassuring. There has to be something really special about the books.

It also means that the background technology and world-building has not yet obviously dated. Yeah, OK, it’s still a comparatively short time span for this effect to kick in… but it does mean I have not got anything blatantly wrong. :) :) :)

Yes, I am still working on follow-ons to these two… the story that I had drafted turned out to be amalgam of two stories and separating them out is a nightmare. But rest assured it will be done and you will have a chance to find out about Nikita! [Hint - kit is part of the name.]

Thank you to all who have read and supported me in producing and buying these books. C.A.T. will be back…

PS For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, click the links on the sidebar for C.A.T. and Neptune’s Angel.





Solar System Science Fiction

21 09 2012

I have always wanted to publish an anthology where each science fiction story covered a planet of our Solar System. Whilst I’m some way from doing so, I have made notable progress as you see from the table below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

But as I write these stories I’m noticing some very interesting things. Apart from each story using a unique fact from the planet concerned… oh all right, here are the facts to date for the published stories:

  • Mercury can have two sunrises in one day on some parts of the planet because of the orbital dynamics
  • Earth has the mysterious methane bubbles that sink ships – think Bermuda Triangle or closer to home, some parts of the North Sea!
  • Jupiter – Callisto, one of its moons, can be inhabited on the surface without the need to build radiation shielding
  • Neptune – you can fly through the very top of its atmosphere whilst experiencing normal Earth gravity.

You’ll have to wait for the oddball facts about Mars, Saturn and Uranus until the stories are published! I’m still working on Venus! As to where I find these crazy facts? I’m just one of those people that keeps on stumbling across such things!

Now back to the main thread of this blog…

Each planet is vastly different and I’m having to do my homework, to check not only what the planets and their moons look like, but also what properties the substances in the environment have. The deeper I look into a planet the more fascinating it becomes. It’s almost as if the history of the planet is written on its surface, in its atmosphere, by its moon systems. But in going from one planet to another like this, I getting a better understanding of how the physics and chemistry changes as we move from the Sun outwards into the cold reaches of the Oort cloud. You already know the BIG facts like you have the rocky planets with thin atmospheric shells closer to the Sun and the gas giants well away from the Sun. There are plenty of others.

With settings so different, the stories are also so different. It’s as if the setting tells me what story to write… the environment makes the characters that lead onto the plot… well it’s one way of writing science fiction. In fact it’s a natural way of writing science fiction (natural in both senses of the word). This in turn is what makes the stories so different from anything written before.

So why isn’t there more interest in these short stories? It’s almost as if people don’t want to explore the Solar System and its byways. As far as a lot of science fiction publications are concerned it has the ‘No Entry’ sign attached to it. Well I can speculate ad tedium on this, and so can you! All I’m going to say is that there have been a spate of novels by famous authors that deal with buzzing around the Solar System lately, which probably means the market is saturated for us lesser known writers. But of those novels I’ve read, I haven’t seen these interesting facts used… I told you I could speculate ad tedium!

But I will make one prediction about the future… if we ever populate the Solar System, you can bet your bottom dollar that each colony will develop so differently that the interactions will be different from the novels being published now.

… and this makes me wonder if this kind or argument has something to do with us not being contacted by ET? I mean they’ll be so different from us that they just won’t have an interest in us.

If this post hasn’t given any science fiction writer an idea to write a story, then I’ll be very surprised to say the least…

 

 





C.A.T. has ancestry!

6 09 2012

My friend, R B Harkess has just let me know that someone has been very busy indeed… They’ve done a kind of photo of a ginger cat. The left side is all the normal ginger fur type cat, but the right side shows the fur cut away onto – yes, you’ve guessed it – a robotic cat of some sort.

C.A.T.’s had a look at it and has decided it must a precursor design to it… it could be C.A.T.’s great-great-grandpa!

Where can this design be found? Well… somewhere on facebook photos… have fun hunting…

So my short stories could have (or is this wishful thinking?) lead to inspiring someone else to do something very artistic!





What does C.A.T. stand for? Take 2

24 08 2012

A while ago (like nearly three weeks ago) I asked for suggestions as to what C.A.T. stood for? See here.

Thank you to all those who made suggestions both here and elsewhere…

Cyber for the C has cropped up a few times, and so has Animal Technology, which for those that have read the story makes perfect sense. However, the acronym that intrigued me the most was Cyber(tronic) Animal Technology.

Why this one? Well, there is more to C.A.T. than just a thing in a science fiction story. Yes, some serious thought went into C.A.T.’s design, especially the computer side of things.

At this point all the techies amongst you should be sitting up and taking notice… especially as the Cat design diagram elsewhere on this blog can only give an outline system view (halfway to an SV-1 in the systems engineering jargon). Yes, I do think C.A.T. as a technological entity (even its crazy behaviour) is a possibility for the future. Yes, I do think cyber technology if put together in the right processing order can produce what we call a conscience. No, I’m not joking… And yes, I do know of research that is happening today along the lines that would lead to a C.A.T. conscience.

O.K. – you’re either spooked or think I’m crazy… I’ll leave you to choose.

And yet, I don’t know of any cyber entity in science fiction that is as well designed as C.A.T. …

Do such stories exist?

One final thought – I do like Nicola’s suggestion of there being a model made by the same firm called the “Dangerous Optimised Golem” – built for guard work, of course. [I prefer Nikita - but that will have to wait until C.A.T.-3 is published for an explanation.]

 





What does C.A.T. stand for?

4 08 2012

No I don’t mean its principles and values in its life or existence, whichever you prefer. It’s what its initials actually stand for? It’s been C.A.T. for so long that, well, it’s just C.A.T., isn’t it? What else could it be?

To be honest what its initials stood for had been one of those ‘back burner’ jobs to be done sometime, when the story line merited it. Well story number 4 in the series might just need an explanation.

How about Computer Authorised Terror? No that won’t do at all. That’s definitely not C.A.T. Well, there’s  Calculated Arrogance Trailblazer. Who (other than Commander Zacman of course, but then he has a lot to put up with) would call a robo-cat that?

So for a bit if summer madness, in between watching the Olympics and going holiday, how about coming up with some suggestions as what C.A.T. actually stands for? Here’s a picture to act as your inspiration point… don’t you just dig those cute little red eyes?

Oh, by the way, C.A.T. says it will only consider names that can be used in what humans call polite society…








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