Monthly Archives: March 2008

A ‘Verse Full of Scum, Episode 7 and publishing schedule

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March 30, 2008

Sticking to my promised schedule of an episode every Monday, you’ll now find Episode 7 of A ‘Verse Full of Scum at the Serial Novella page.

There has been a fair amount feedback about the series and, I’m pleased to say, it’s been overwhelmingly positive. Thanks to everyone that has taken the time to write to me. Also thanks to those that have posted reviews at the Pages Unbound website. If anyone else would like to add their reviews, that would be fantastic.

The only vaguely negative feedback so far is that quite a few people have complained about the weekly publishing schedule. They’re keen to read more and they want more regular installments. Well, I can understand the frustration. I wrote the thing, so I know how it ends, but if I didn’t, I’d probably want more regular episodes too.

However, I remember similar things from when I was a kid. TV series like Flash Gordon and Dr Who. Half an hour once a week was not nearly enough; I could hardly bear the wait to find out what happened. But wait I did and those Saturday evenings or Sunday mornings when the next episode aired became so much more pleasurable because we had to wait for them.

So I’m following that tradition and keeping the weekly episodes for A ‘Verse Full of Scum. Every once in a while I’ll treat you all to a double bill, like the recent Easter long weekend double episode. Remember, good things are worth savouring and I’d like to think that this is good enough to savour.

I’ve also been asked if this series is going to be published as a regular book. I’m not sure yet. I may very well issue a Print-On-Demand version of the whole thing when it’s run its course here on the site. However, I promised that it would be published here for free and that’s a promise I’ll keep. If a hard copy book version does appear, it won’t be until the full free version here is done.

So, enjoy Episode 7 and keep the feedback coming.

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We have “crabs”!

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March 25, 2008

It’s been a while since we had a funny sign post here at The Word, so here’s one shamelessly stolen from The Blog of Unnecessary Quotation Marks.

crabs We have crabs!

Apart from the comedic irony of the “Friends Restaurant” proudly declaring that they have crabs, the quotation marks do lead to a whole slew of possible meanings. From the Blog mentioned above:

Cindy says this is a nice restaurant. However, they have one or more of the following: 1) imitation crab meat; 2) decorative crab statues; 3) an STI.

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Neil Gaiman and I are more alike than you think

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March 25, 2008

All right. I’m going to admit right off the bat that this is a terribly poorly veiled attempt to put myself and Neil Gaiman on the same page.

Let’s start at the beginning. As a teenager I was a huge fan of comics and graphic novels. Among my favourites were Neil Gaiman’s Sandman stories. They opened my eyes to a whole new style of storytelling and a whole new level of imagination. It certainly wasn’t a conscious decision, but I suppose it was inevitable that these stories would have an influence on my own writing.

sandman Neil Gaiman and I are more alike than you think
Sandman.

I never actually read any of Gaiman’s novels, however. I don’t know why – it was just something that I never got around to. Actually, I lie. I’d read one. He wrote a fantastic book with Terry Pratchett called Good Omens. If you haven’t read this, then stop right now and go and read it. I’m serious.

goodomens Neil Gaiman and I are more alike than you think
Good Omens (image from Harper Collins).

Then people started saying how reading my first novel, Realmshift, reminded them of Gaiman’s work, particularly American Gods. Of course, I was flushed with pride to be compared to a master of the craft like Neil Gaiman. In fact, one mad soul was even kind enough to title a review of RealmShift on Amazon.co.uk “Possibly about to steal Neil Gaiman’s crown“. I say, old chap, steady on there!

So I went and read American Gods and I could understand the comparisons. I’ve since also read Anansi Boys, which I think is actually better.So, am I really just rattling on about all this in an attempt to crowbar some kind of shared credibility with a living legend? No. Not entirely. Publishing fiction online for free is something that I’m a fan of and something that I think can greatly expand a person’s readership. I’m on the same side of the fence with music. I think that sharing MP3s is a good thing. I’ve been out and bought albums based on a download before and I think people will buy books based on a free read. The first three chapters of RealmShift are available for free on the RealmShift page of this very website, and my Serial Novella is an entire short novel being published in weekly chapters entirely for free, also right here.

And Neil Gaiman is also an advocate of free fiction. See, I told you there was more than shameless self-aggrandisement going on here. That great novel American Gods is available to read for free on the Harper Collins website right now. I apologise for not drawing your attention to this sooner, but it somehow slipped by me and I’ve only just realised myself. I apologise as there are only six days left to read it. But it’s free. You can find it here at Harper Collins.

And now everyone has gone off to read American Gods and I bet not a soul is looking at A ‘Verse Full of Scum or RealmShift.

Sigh.

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A ‘Verse Full of Scum Episodes 5 & 6

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March 23, 2008

I hope everyone had an enjoyable few days off. In honour of the general celebratory nature of the recent long weekend I decided to give you all an Easter holiday special double bill and post up the next two episodes of A ‘Verse Full of Scum on the Serial Novella page. Why I consider Easter to be celebratory I’m not sure – after all, the alleged crucifixion of one of histories most enduring characters is not really cause for celebration as such. Maybe it’s more a time of reflection. Maybe it’s a time for chocolate eggs and bunnies, since the Christians once again hijacked Pagan festivals to further their own agenda. Who really knows for sure?

Regardless, if nothing else it’s a ‘Verse Full of Scum double bill.

Go and have a read now. Episode 7 will be up next Monday.

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Author Arthur C. Clarke dies at 90

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March 18, 2008

Man, this blog seems to be the harbinger of bad news lately. This is a terribly sad day, with the passing of the legendary author Arthur C Clarke. He made it to 90 years old, which is not bad by mortal standards, but it’s awful to be reminded that giants like Clarke are actually mortal.

Read the BBC news report here.

clarke  Author Arthur C. Clarke dies at 90

Vale Sir Arthur C Clarke.
(Photo from www.bbc.co.uk)

Terry Pratchett and the embuggerance of Alzheimer’s

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March 16, 2008

I was horrified to hear recently that modern literary genius, Terry Pratchett, has been diagnosed with a form of early onset Alzheimer’s disease. At only 59 years old, this is truly terrible news. Terry has spoken out recently and made a huge donation to Alzheimer’s research. The Sydney Morning Herald reported on the situation today:

terrypratchett narrowweb  300x406,0 Terry Pratchett and the embuggerance of Alzheimers
Terry Pratchett
Photo: Ian West from smh.com.au

Three months after announcing he had the “embuggerance” of Alzheimer’s, Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld books, which have been stacking up for more than 30 years into a tower dwarfing Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, has donated £500,000 ($1.08 million) towards research into the disease.Famously, everything that interests Pratchett finds its way into Discworld: time travel, corrupt politicians, science, alchemy, collapsing postal services, dragons, goat’s milk cheese. His devoted fans will be amazed if some character is not struck down with Alzheimer’s disease.

The embuggerance, announced in December, was the diagnosis of a rare form of early-onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 59. Since then Pratchett has finished one book and started another.

At the announcement of the donation Pratchett was still cheerful, if angry, saying the donation was because Alzheimer’s research has been starved of funds compared with cancer, making him feel like “kicking the next politician I meet in the teeth”. Research will not cure but will help, he believes: “Personally I’d eat the arse out of a dead mole if it offered a fighting chance.”

Pratchett, whose total worldwide sales are somewhere in excess of 55 million copies, said the only change he detects from Alzheimer’s is that his touch-typing has degenerated into “hunt and peck” two-fingered tapping.

He intends to go on working for as long as the mind and the two fingers hold out.

(The above article is from The Sydney Morning Herald online.)

I’m devastated by this news and I’m sure my wishes will be accompanied by millions more from all around the world. Don’t give in, Terry!

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A ‘Verse Full of Scum Episode 4 now online

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March 16, 2008

For those of you that are utterly hooked on the biggest thing in fantasy space drama since the moon broke loose in 1999, you’ll be pleased to know that Episode 4 of A ‘Verse Full of Scum is now uploaded. Click the Serial Novella link on the left.

Enjoy.

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Double entendres – juvenile British fun

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March 14, 2008

If you’re a fan of language like me, you will be easily entertained by all forms of word play. A good quality pun, for example, can keep me chuckling for hours. Also, if you’re British like me, knob gags and double-entendres are a staple of your comedy diet.

Combine the two and you get some classic moments like these. Lucy, in London, sent these to me and I had to share. Twelve of the finest unintentional double-entendres from British television. Naturally enough, it’s sport coverage that usually supplies the most amusing:

1. Pat Glenn, weightlifting commentator – “And this is Gregoriava from Bulgaria. I saw her snatch this morning and it was amazing!”

2. New Zealand Rugby Commentator – “Andrew Mehrtens loves it when Daryl Gibson comes inside of him.”

3. Ted Walsh, Horse Racing Commentator – “This is really a lovely horse. I once rode her mother.”

4. Harry Carpenter, at the Oxford-Cambridge boat race 1977 – “Ah, isn’t that nice. The wife of the Cambridge President is kissing the cox of the Oxford crew.”

5. US PGA Commentator – “One of the reasons Arnie [Arnold Palmer] is playing so well is that, before each tee shot, his wife takes out his balls and kisses them….. Oh my god! What have I just said?”

6. Carenza Lewis, about finding food in the Middle Ages on ‘Time Team Live’ – “You’d eat beaver if you could get it.”

7. A female news anchor who, the day after it was supposed to have snowed and didn’t, turned to the weatherman and asked, “So Bob, where’s that eight inches you promised me last night?” (Not only did he have to leave the set, but half the crew did too, because they were laughing so hard.)

8. Steve Ryder covering the US Masters – “Ballesteros felt much better today after a 69 yesterday.”

9. Clair Frisby, talking about a jumbo hot dog on Look North – “There’s nothing like a big hot sausage inside you on a cold night like this.”

10. Mike Hallett, discussing missed snooker shots on Sky Sports – “Stephen Hendry jumps on Steve Davis’s misses every chance he gets.” (Say this out loud if you don’t get it right away).

11. Michael Buerk, on watching Phillipa Forrester cuddle up to a male astronomer for warmth during BBC1’s UK eclipse coverage – “They seem cold out there; they’re rubbing each other and he’s only come in his shorts.”

12. Ken Brown commentating on golfer Nick Faldo and his caddie Fanny Sunneson lining-up shots at the Scottish Open – “Some weeks Nick likes to use Fanny, other weeks he prefers to do it by himself.”

I have no idea if any of these are actually true and I can’t be bothered to confirm their authenticity. The British genes in me, and their love of puerile humour, made me want to share it anyway. Don’t you just love the English language?

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Pagesunbound.com – loads of online serial fiction

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March 12, 2008

Word reader Stormy recently put me onto a site called Pages Unbound. It’s a website that’s been set up specifically to showcase online serial fiction and to act as a directory for people to find quality serials on the Web. The site lists its mission statement as:

Pages Unbound primarily exists for two eminently complementary reasons:

* To help online authors find an audience.
* To help readers find literature on the internet.

Sound simple enough?

Of course, fulfilling those purposes may also bring about other desirable side effects, including

* Allowing more people to make a living as independent writers.
* Fostering a love of literature in people who primarily read blogs and webcomics.
* Encouraging more people to take up the quill keyboard and start writing.

It always gives me a warm feeling inside when I find things like this. People helping to promote each other’s work, especially when it’s done as slickly and professionally as this, is a wonderful thing to see. Go and check out the site and see what else is there – there really is some quality stuff listed in their directory.

You can find the listing for my online serial, A ‘Verse Full of Scum, by clicking here – click on the Stories tab and it’s right there. If you can’t see it straight away, put “verse” in the Search box. If you would be kind enough to leave a review I’m sure you’d get some good karma for your trouble.

Thanks for the heads up, Stormy.

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When seven mortal sins just aren’t enough

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March 11, 2008

So good old Popey has decided that it’s time to update the seven deadly sins – seven of the most powerful words in recent history for the religiously minded. Back in the sixth century, Pope Gregory the Great came up with the original seven mortal sins of envy, pride, gluttony, lust, anger, greed and sloth. Supposedly these were sins that, if you died guilty of them, you went straight to Hell, did not pass go and did not collect two hundred virgins. Naturally, as with everything in the Catholic faith, even these things are completely forgivable for a once only special offer donation of your soul. Just remember to recant before you cark.

How come Pope Gregory was “the Great”, by the way? Why haven’t we had any other popes with cool nicknames recently? Pope John Paul the Awesome would have been better than Pope John Paul the Second. Anyway, I digress.

The entertaining thing is that the new sins developed by the Vatican under Pope Benedict the Ratzinger are all more global sins, with the church trying to move away from the individual sins. The new sins are polluting, genetic engineering, obscene riches, taking drugs, abortion, pedophilia and causing social injustice.

Gianfranco Girotti, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, which is the Department of Catholic Sin Absolution, named the new mortal sins in an interview with the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, on Monday. He said the new seven sins had a social resonance and showed worshippers that their vices affected other people. “New sins have appeared on the horizon of humanity as a corollary of the unstoppable process of globalisation,” he said.

I would imagine that several of those sins have actually appeared from directly within the Catholic church. Causing social injustice? Would the active misinformation spread about condom use in AIDS infested Africa not suggest a social injustice? Even to the point where some Catholics have been claiming that it is condoms that cause AIDS. Not to mention the numerous other injustices done by missionaries over the years and the many still being perpetrated.

But that’s nothing compared to obscene wealth. Best guesses about the Vatican’s wealth put it at US$10 billion to US$15 billion. Of this wealth, Italian stockholdings alone run to $1.6 billion, 15% of the value of listed shares on the Italian market.

Still, I would imagine that they would have a lot more cash than that if they hadn’t had to settle all those pedophilia lawsuits recently. I could go on, but it’s shooting fish in a barrel really.

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The website of author Alan Baxter

Alan Baxter, Author

Author of horror, dark fantasy & sci-fi. Kung Fu instructor. Personal Trainer. Motorcyclist. Dog lover. Gamer. Heavy metal fan. Britstralian. Zetetic.

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