Archive for May, 2013

The Story Behind Crash

Posted: May 31, 2013 in Fiction
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Here we go! Here’s a short piece by me for Upcoming4me on Crash, in which I frantically rack my brains to figure out where I came up with the ideas in the book.


I love Vikings. Quite literally, as I married one. But even before I met my future spouse, I’ve liked me a bit of hairy-man, axe-wielding action (not in the bedroom! My wife Emma is a lady, not an identity-challenged Norseman).

Last night I was alone, as Emma was off to see Eddie Izzard. Wide-ranging tastes in comedy, these Nordics. As I’d been staring at a screen forty centimetres away from my face all day and my eyes felt like small hot stones, I decided to stare at a screen four metres away for the evening. Wanting some cheesy, unchallenging SF entertainment, I plumped for Outlander. I figured I’d put my review up from Death Ray 17. Go read it. I was quite enthusiastic, perhaps too much so, but it has a spaceman fighting an alien space dragon with a bunch of Vikings, all my fave things in one package, and I enjoyed it almost as much again last night.

And then I thought, why not share my top Five Viking movies? Yeah? Yeah? You with me? Let’s go!

5 The Norsemen (1978)

Really rubbish Lee Majors movie about the Viking discovery of America. Awful script, awful acting. Hilariously bad. Had my entire family in stitches when I was a lad.

4 Beowulf (2007)

I really enjoyed this CGI version of the legend. Okay, so technically Beowulf was knocking about before the Viking period proper, but he was still a Norseman.

3 Outlander (2009)

Follow the link to the gushing review above. Don’t want to scroll up? Tsk, here it is again.

2 The Vikings (1958)

Tony Curtis, Kirk Douglas AND Ernest Borgnine? You betcha. This historical adventure, based on Edison Marshall’s book The Viking,  is still great despite its anachronistic depiction of England (it’s about three hundred years out), and Curtis’ ever-present New Yoik accent. The musical score raises the hair on my arms.

1 The Thirteenth Warrior (1999)

Emma and I love this film, and watch it frequently together. It’s her favourite. Yet another take on Beowulf, like Outlander (and likewise a flop, maybe I just like shit movies) it has historical Arab wanderer and Norse expert Ibn Fadlan visiting Scandinavia (he never got that far) and fighting a horde of relict Neanderthals (he certainly never did that!). The Thirteenth Warrior had a terrible production history with, among other things, director John McTiernan falling out with Michael Crichton, upon whose book The Eaters of the Dead the film was based. Crichton bumped McTiernan as director, turning it from atmospheric horror to jaunty actioner, complete with new score. The joins are visible, and it’s a shame so much of the story is missing. I would love to see McTiernan’s version of this film, although apparently the footage was destroyed. Even so, it’s great stuff.

There are of course many other depictions of Vikings and Norse culture on the screen. We can’t wait to see the new Vikings TV show. What’s your favourite?

Here’s a post to notify you of my latest blog for Live4, a basic guide to self-publishing.

I run hot and cold on the digital revolution. Hot because it’s all very exciting and is changing the world in many ways for the better, cold because I suspect that as our successive industrial revolutions reach their logical end, the downside of it all is that I’ll have to live like a medieval peasant or, at best, some kind of hippy. One with internet access, but a peasant nonetheless. In a hut.

Funny really, I’ve long agreed with said hippies that we live unsustainable lifestyles, and even flirted with the non-barefoot, non-kaftan-wearing aspects of their ways, but now my comfy, comfy first-world, Earth-burning life is under threat, I’m a tad annoyed, and I find myself quite the hypocrite.

But man, I got so sick of mucking those pigs out in the rain last year, can you blame me? Three years in a pig co-op, I did try, but have decided against raising my own pork chops in 2013. One of the main reasons being that it cost roughly £130 to raise, slaughter and butcher each pig. Far cheaper than buying the meat in a shop, but I discovered one can buy a ready-deady piggy carcass for about the same amount, and without all the work.  Even so, I fulfilled my main objective – to raise an animal, see it killed, then eat it. I figured if couldn’t do that, what right did I have eating meat, yeah? Dammit, I’m a hippy in denial.

At least I have the choice for the time being, eh? That’ll probably change.

It’s not only me with the concerns. Check out this piece by a proper techie, Jaron Lanier for the digi-flipside. He tells us why he thinks why free information and advanced tech is immediately beneficial, but perhaps not so much in the long run for we little people. Lanier’s article articulates some of my fears about the concentration of wealth in the hands of a technocracy/plutocracy, fears that form the basis of my latest novel Crash. See, I’m running cold today (although not too cold to plug my book). I’ll change my mind tomorrow, no doubt.

Anyway. My latest Live4 blog, from a day I was running hot on the glorious prospects of the future.


Posted: May 29, 2013 in Random wifflings
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Look what FedEx delivered today! Woohoo! Looks very nice (and to my relief, reads well). In the shops soon!

For you today:

A review of the first season of the somewhat right-wing but much under-valued TV show Jericho.

A review of the robot fetish apology book Love and Sex with Robots.

And a story-by-story breakdown of the anthology Solaris Book of Best New SF 2.

Some reviews from Death Ray 12, all movies.

The Nines, a quirky metaphysical drama starring Ryan Reynolds.

The sadly inept Captain Eager. I often mistype this as “catpain”, which is kind of appropriate in this case.

US dreams-can-come-true schmaltz-fest, The Astronaut Farmer.