July 07, 2020, 04:37:28 PM

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Re: Say Hi, I'm new thread Hi, I'm new. The monthly comp has drawn me in, looking forward to posting there in a bit.

By way of introducing myself, a bit of bio:

By Their Books Yea Shall Know Them
Recent reads include Sleeping Beauties by Stephen and Owen King, The Last Panther (WW2 tankie memoir, nothing to do with sad demise of big cats), A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie (good return to form by Mr Abercrombie), City of Souls by Adrian Tchaikovsky, Final Crisis (DC comics). Just started The Grey Bastards.

Yup, I like fantasy, sci-fi, comics and history. Occassionally I nip over to LA to see how Philip Marlow is doing, as well.

Just Finish The Damn Book Award
Yes, I'm looking at you Patrick Rothfuss. For the love of God, man, its been nearly ten years.

Never Seen Star Wars Type Answer
I've never read anything by David Eddings. Or Raymond Feist. Eh .. or Terry Brooks. Honestly, I'm not a bad person ;)

Favourite Fantasy Story?
A Dozen Tough Jobs by Howard Waldrop.

Black, no sugar, slice of ginger, please.

May 22, 2020, 10:31:40 AM
Re: Let's Refresh the Writing Contest! Hope you don't mind a newbie sticking an oar in :D

I used to contribute regularly to a monthly comp (not genre specifi) on another forum. The format there was that the monthly winner chose the theme for the next months and it worked well. The word count was generally 400 to 500, which did sharpen up your writing skills no end. Maybe a bit too few for fantasy, where you need a bit of space for world building.

Getting to set the theme for the next comp was a nice little incentive for taking part. I'd say it was worth a try here, in some form. 1500 word count max sounds about right to me but varying it from month to month sounds better, as it sets a challenge. 

May 26, 2020, 09:06:43 AM
Re: Favorite Sci-Fi Authors and Books I'd echo what Alex says above about Adrian Tchaikovsky definitely worth looking up. Two others he has done "Dogs of War"  and "Iron Clads" are good reads. Dogs of War has one of the most inventive and way out there characters I've ever read.

If you're going old school, Starship Troopers by RA Heinlen and The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, are both classics and still among  the best military SF ever written, I'd venture.

Neil Asher is worth a read, if you like fast plots, horrible alien beasties, intrigue and invincible androids.  Similar to Iain M Banks but a bit more accessible.

The Many Coloured Land by Julian May is the nearest thing I can think of as fantasy/SF cross over and might be a good introduction to the genre. Time travelling, psychic powers, aliens on Earth, knights, armour. It shouldn't work but it does and very well too.

If SF/super hero cross over is more your thing, the Wild Cards series, edited by George RR Martin, would be worth dipping into. Its actually a series of inter-linked short stories written by some heavy hitters in the SF world. It goes on for about a million books (OK, eighteen and counting but thats still a lot), so if you like, there's lots to like. It leans more to super hero genre than SF, so maybe a good starting point.

Finally, I need to put a shout in for John Birmingham. Easy reading action adventure and very good for it. His Axis of Time trilogy has a present day American battle fleet accidently sent back in time to the Pacific in WW2. Whats not to like?     

June 10, 2020, 08:54:34 AM
Re: Favorite Sci-Fi Authors and Books Oh, and The Legacy of Heorot by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. Brilliant 'survival on an alien world' story. In fact, anything by Niven or Pournelle. They write very accessible 'hard sci-fi'. Ringworld by Larry Niven is another classic of the genre. 

Now I want to go and hunt through the attic for stuff I haven't read in ages.

Note to self: Right, enough already, stop skivving off and get back to it. That last chapter won't edit itself :)

June 10, 2020, 09:09:17 AM
Re: Writing Tips and Tricks
Havne't gone through the whole thread...but how do you all start the story/book?

What's the first step? Do you make some kind of plot map and then fill in prose?

What's the first or even preliminary step that kick starts the process?

The first step for me is usually to kick around a few ideas that interest me, usually from whats happening in the real world and see what creative sparks fly from it. This normally involves long walks, drinking beer or laying in bed, which is hard work.

I'm at this stage right now, as I'm at the second edit of my current work in progress, so the heavy lifting of early drafts is done and I'm thinking about what I want to write next.

Trans-gender rights are topical just now and I've been fascinated by the use of robots in China and other places during the pandemic. Thats led me to think about a military SF novel where the main character is a woman who has  forceably been made gender neutral and neurally programmed to be a soldier, as reparation for a past crime. I can then put her charge of a remote base and she starts having a very bad day, as the base comes under attack. Somewhere along the way she'll start to remember who she really is. Under her command is a giant, cybernetic tank that has its own agenda (and may look remarkably like an Ogre for the 1980's Steve Jackson war game of the same name. Just because I like tanks and robots).

I read a history of Europe during the Napoleonic era last year. (If you think we live in turbulent times!). Thinking about that, it struck me yesterday that a fantasy novel about a small kingdom where a revolution takes place and a democracy is set up but they remain surrounded by threatening monarchies would be interesting. Kind of the English civil war but with magic.

I think both these ideas could stretch to a novel, so my next step is to spend a lot of time thinking about them (again involving beds, beer and outdoors). I'd start sketching out a plot using the framework of a 100k novel with about 100 scenes of 1000 words each, so maybe write up a paragraph or a line for each. If I get stuck over detail, I shift up to think about the higher level  3 or 5 act structure the main arc of the story would sit on. By shifting back and forward between the high level and the detail, the whole creative process rolls along for me. 

Most of this I do in my head or scribble in a notebook to begin with. I play out scenes, I let my characters walk and talk in my imagination. I find this kind of mental stew is more creative than trying to capture everything in writing to begin with. The downside is that inevitably, I forget some good stuff. I tend to build the world around the plot and the characters, to avoid getting ties in knots too early.

I start to write before I've go the whole plot pinned down, as good stuff will suggest itself as things develop.

Then its just the graft of getting the words down :) 

June 12, 2020, 11:16:50 AM
Re: The King's Paws (with one holding a bottle of Peri Peri sauce.)
Here's a problem for you then Bea  ;)

Abi and Becky were comparing their ages and found that Becky is as old as Abi was when Becky was as old as Abi had been when Becky was half as old as Abi is. The sum of their present ages is 44.
How old is Abi?

Answer: Abi and Becky should get out a bit more and meet people  ;)

Do they still teach calculus in high school? I thought it would have been banned under some human rights legislation by now, as cruel and unusual punishment.

June 17, 2020, 10:09:56 AM
Re: What are you currently reading? I'm waiting on 'Priory of the Orange Tree' (thanks to you good people for pointing me towards this one) and 'Pale Rider:the Spanish Flu of 1918', arriving in the post. I'll read whatever gets here first. They better hurry up, I've only got about twenty pages of Hearts in Atlantis left to read.  I don't want it to end. It is breath-takingly well written.  Stephen King at the top of his game.
June 17, 2020, 10:51:48 AM
Re: Politics and other ailments of the real world
I agree with Magnus on this, if you end capitalism then what do you replace it with?

Look, it's a good point, and I wrote my previous comment in a state of deep grumpiness about a number of things. And I was thinking specifically of "capitalism" as the ethos of "profit above all". So much of the last few centuries has been about profit from exploitation, and that is simply not sustainable, and I think we are very near the end of its lifecycle - simply because we are nearing the point where no one will be able to afford the produced goods because they are not paid enough in their jobs producing said goods.

I think we are already seeing an end to that breed of capitalism, with an example being how "ethical" goods are pushing out middle-ground retail here in Australia. Things need to be either sustainably produced and high quality, or ultra cheap - Target is cutting its stores heavily because people are either buying cheaper stuff, or better stuff.

Regulation is key. Regulation is necessary to prevent that exploitation. But it needs the mindset shift that exploitation - and profit above all - is no longer acceptable.

Grumpiness is definitely allowed ;) I'm usually bouncing around a triangle of grumpiness, goggling disbelief and incandescent outrage. If ever I'm feeling that everything's fine, I just remind myself that we have the technological fixes to combat the climate change emergency but our leaders choose to do nothing significant about it. I've an awful feelling that the history books will not be kind to the early 21st century (assuming there's anyone around to write them).

 I think you're right that we are at the end of the road for the neo-liberal brand of capitalism. Gorbachev, I think, said that the Chernobyl disaster ushered in the end of the Soviet Union. It may be that the pandemic is neo-liberal capitalism's Chernobyl moment.

That said, ideas can take a long time to die and I don't doubt for a moment that the various establishments that support free-market capitalism will fight tooth and nail to maintain its place as economic orthodoxy. The next few years may be very interesting but not in a good way.

June 30, 2020, 09:10:59 AM
Re: Politics and other ailments of the real world
Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.

An over used quote by JMC, but look at every single nation that has replaced capitalism. The result has never been beneficial to the vast majority and the change has been brutal for the most part. I am not a great fan of capitalism but it is the least worst option we have.

Minneapolis has just voted 12-0 to abolish the police. This won't affect the rich as gated communities and private security mean they will be unaffected. Middle class neighbourhoods will cease to exist as flight to other areas will be universal for those who can take the property value loss and the poor get, well nothing except preyed on.

Strangely they didn't cancel the contracts of their private security which the taxpayer pays for.

I'm actually a big fan of capitalism, provided it is the servant of the common good and not a tool used by the 1% to wage class war on the rest of us.

In addition, I would echo Peter Mandelson, when he said that he was intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich, so long as they pay their taxes. And therein lies a great problem. Many of the 1% go out of their way to avoid pay taxes, thereby denying governments the revenue to spend on the common good. Although they insist on governments supplying infrastructure such roads, policing and justice systems, to support their business endevours. Benefits scroungers by any other name.

Aside from the fact that most of the super-rich became that way, not through earning money, but  through inheriting it. And contribute little in the way of economic activity (if economic activity is defined as the exchange of goods and services), as most of the super rich generate their wealth through unearned income such as rent, interest on investments and financial speculation, rather that making stuff to sell.

Capitalists eh? They give capitalism a bad name.

July 01, 2020, 09:01:26 AM
Re: The King's Paws (with one holding a bottle of Peri Peri sauce.)
It feels great, doesn't it, to get a bunch of new books ;D

It does indeed. Or going into a bookshop or to the library, two things I've badly missed during the lockdown. Then the agony of deciding what to read first! And the smell of new books. Why don't they do a scented candle like that, then?

July 01, 2020, 09:12:42 AM