Finding Damo

The story of a man, his job, two cats and the meaning of success.

Archive for the category “Books”

Space Captain Smith

Space Captain Smith by Toby FrostBack in 2016 Ross Housham at Gemco told me he was adapting a science fiction book into a play for this year’s show.

“It’s called Space Captain Smith, by Toby Frost. Check it out. Could you do some CGI for me?”

So I jumped on Amazon and downloaded the book. It was hilarious and I looked forward very much to when it would be on.

Here’s the blurb from Amazon:

The warship Tenacious and the light freighter John PymIn the 25th Century the British Space Empire faces the gathering menace of the evil ant-soldiers of the Ghast Empire hive, hell-bent on galactic domination and the extermination of all humanoid life. Isambard Smith is the square-jawed, courageous, and somewhat asinine new commander of the battle damaged light freighter John Pym, destined to take on the alien threat because nobody else is available. Together with his bold crew—a skull-collecting alien lunatic, an android pilot who is actually a fugitive sex toy, and a hamster called Gerald—he must collect new-age herbalist Rhianna Mitchell from the laid back New Francisco orbiter and bring her back to safety in the Empire. Straightforward enough—except the Ghasts want her too. If he is to get back to Blighty alive, Smith must defeat void sharks, a universe-weary android assassin, and John Gilead, psychopathic naval officer from the fanatically religious Republic of New Eden before facing his greatest enemy: a ruthless alien warlord with a very large behind.

Mark and Sam in costume, threatened by Lachie.Now it’s a play, written by Ross, authorised by Toby and loved by everyone who has anything to do with it.

Buy tickets now.

Again, (umm, I say again, but I didn’t put up the post about War of the Worlds. OK, so I have spent the last six months madly creating Martian War Machines and blowing up a great deal of England for our school production of War of the Worlds – there will be a post) I have been immersed in the world of Space Captain Smith, bringing to digital life a number of space ships and three very vicious Void Sharks.

A very scary Void SharkBefore coming to see the show, you could take a look at some of the CGI test runs. I’ll upload a lot more once we’re in full swing, but I don’t want to give it all away.

We go on tonight and run until the end of June. Friday, Saturday Sunday matinee. Friday, Saturday, Sunday matinee. Friday, Saturday. And then I fly off to Sydney. It’s a busy life for me.

Come along!

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What in the multiverse?

the mighty avengers.The world has gone mad for comic books. I believe it’s because technology has finally reached the point where the super feats the heroes undertake no longer look fake. But we are inundated with Leagues and Avengers and Squads and vigilantes, mutants, inhumans, anti-heroes and all sorts of other costumed characters. We have comics and TV shows and movies and computer games. Even the Simpsons have gotten in on the act.

I have a couple of students at school who are massive fans of comic books. Every week we get new graphic novels, collections and standalone stories from Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Deadpool, Spider-man and the Green Lantern Corp.

It’s given me a good chance to catch up.

If my memory is correct, I read heaps of comics as a child. But I never really got into the collection aspect. And I don’t think I read the “right” type of comic.

Archie ComicsIn my younger days, I read lots of Archie, lots of Duck Tales and Darkwing Duck.

As I got older, my memories are of Moon Knight, Lobo and the Silver Surfer. I read the What If… comics, where the Watcher showed us what would happen if Peter Parker married Mary Jane, or didn’t marry Mary Jane.

turtlesI bought Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – the Eastman and Laird graphic novels to start with, and then the cartoon adaptations once they ran out. I read Cerberus the Aardvark and Groo.

And then I moved onto Heavy Metal and National Lampoon. I read Cracked and Mad, which gave me a good round education on what was going on in movies without having seen a lot of them.

I read the odd Batman. I read quite a few Superman one offs. But I wasn’t around for any of the big things that happened in comics.

deadrobinIt’s weird, looking at it from the outside. I remember seeing the covers when Robin was killed by the Joker. That was huge. I mean HUGE. My comic reading friends were devastated. The issue in mint condition was worth a fortune.
deathofsupermanI remember when the front page of the newspaper told us that Superman had died. I saw the comic covers and I saw the hardcover book adaptation, but I didn’t read either of them.

I remember finding out that Peter Parker had stood up in front of the press and outed himself as Spider-man (or was it Spider-man outing himself as Peter Parker?). But I still haven’t read through that story. That was part of the first Civil War wasn’t it?

I missed Crisis on Infinite Earths, but by the time Flash and Arrow were on TV, I at least knew what that was all about. I didn’t realise it was so long ago.

I have a lot of catching up to do. But it’s worth it. It’s worth doing it now, with all of the stories collected into handy graphic novels, instead of subscribing to ten different comics just to get one story.

knightfallNow I’ve read Knightfall and I wish I’d read it before the movie came out.

I’ve read Dark Knight Returns and Year One and The Killing Joke and they are absolute masterpieces (but I get why there is such a controversy over the Killing Joke).

I read Red Son and I think I missed some of the references due to not having been in touch with comics for so long.

I read the Death of Superman and I have no idea who Lex Luthor is meant to be or why he was speaking in an Australian accent.

And then I started in on the new stuff.

flashpointI read Flashpoint, and loved it. I liked how they rebooted the universe, especially as I didn’t have decades of backstory stuck in my head. Most of what I know of Superman and Batman and Wonder Woman and The Flash comes from TV and movies (I still like the 80s Flash show and I’m glad so many of the cast came back for the new show).

And from Kevin Smith. He’s given me a much better appreciation for the DC universe, both from his podcasts, from references in his movies (which made me look stuff up) and from his Batman comics (write the third one, damn you!).

And I started catching up on the New 52. Most of that comes from the two boys in the library who regularly put forward suggestions for me to read next. So I was just getting into this rebooted universe…

rebirth-0b86eAnd then Rebirth happened.

I’m lost again. There are too many Flashes and too many linked story-lines and I have to buy seven series to make sense of the basic timeline. I have to let it go and wait for the good stuff to float to the top and get collected into omnibuses again.

While that happens, I still keep to my eclectic reading schedule. I might be over the madness of intertwining titles, but I still love comics.

walking deadI’m just behind the TV series in Walking Dead and loving it, although I don’t think they should be out for just anyone to borrow in the school library.

I love the adaptations and new stories in the Dresden Universe.

The comic book adaptation of The Stand is phenomenal and the prequels to the Gunslinger books are absolutely worth it.

I love stories written in comic form more than I like universes written into multiple series. Standalones like The Watchmen and…

samdman

Oh, God help me, I forgot about the Sandman.

I found out about the Sandman at university. My friend Shay was living with some really cool people, interested in things my Kyabram bumpkin self hadn’t even heard of. Sandman was part of that. Sandman was a gateway drug to the rest of Neil Gaiman, along with Pratchett and Gaiman’s Good Omens. Those two things lifted me out of the staples of Stephen King and Tolkien and into a whole new realm of writing. Comics are cool. Anyway, back to the list.

Oh, and the continuation of the Buffyverse. Oh, just anything with Joss Whedon in it.

Speaking of which, I’ve almost completely ignored the Marvel universe.

deadpoolI suppose most of that is that the boys in the library don’t seem to care about Marvel beyond Marvel Zombies (which I hate) and Deadpool (which is great, but so full of multiverse backstory I can’t get right into it).

All of my Marvel knowledge comes from the TV shows and movies, post about 1984.

I want to know what’s going on, but even reading collections like Age of Ultron still has me at a major disadvantage. I need to go back. I need some new library monitors with a Marvel fixation.

What series keep you up until late at night?

The wolf is coming!

200px-Askalti_Darksteel_TCGI have a love for coincidence. Seeing similarities in different parts of my life makes it seem like there is a plan to the universe. It allows my imagination to posit a (usually incredibly unlikely) future based on what I’m seeing. The universe cares about me and is sending me hints so that I can guess what happens next.

That makes this current case of Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon somewhat disturbing.

Everywhere I look, I’m seeing Ragnarok. That can’t be a good thing.

12307402_865473633570486_1958686601694734196_oIt started when I began planning the second Thropes book. I’m planning the second book so that I can put the appropriate foreshadowing into the first book, so stop judging me for being a procrastinator. Lycanthropes came about as a result of a curse by a Greek goddess. So gods are real. And how would that change society? Having a pantheon of hands-on Greek gods would change a few things.

Not to mention that if the Greek gods are real, then wouldn’t that indicate that the others are as well?

So World War I is now a battle between the legions aligned with the Greek gods and those who worship the gods of Asgard. A couple of the days of the week have changed. As have a couple of months. I’ve ditched Roman gods altogether. And then left it as “time manages to push things back to what we know and love”.

But there’s Norse gods version one. And the wolves of Fenris.

magnus-chase-1And then I picked up Magnus Chase book one by Rick Riordan. He’s a very funny man and he really knows his mythologies. The writing isn’t phenomenal, but the stories have heart and the voice of Magnus is highly amusing. Oh, and he’s the son of a Norse god. Trying to stop Ragnarok.

Then my character in World of Warcraft levelled high enough to hit Northrend, and suddenly I have all of the Norse mythology I can handle, with Loken and Thorim and Jotunheim and Freya amongst other places and deities. They even have valkyr.

Following on from this, with the new WOW: Legion, they are opening up new Norse areas, including Helheim, as dungeons. It all looks very impressive.

Finally, I’m reading Morning Star by Pierce Brown. Third in the Red Rising series, it’s an engrossing work of war in space and the segregation of peoples based on colour rather than skill. Well worth a read.

The mighty Obsidian warriors live in the icy Antarctic wastes of Mars. They follow a Norse mythology and answer to Asgardian “gods” who keep them subjugated.

This is happening people. The time of the wolf is upon us! Sharpen your axes and drag out your horned helms. Let’s get the end of the world happening.

 

51ibKBUFN3L._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_

2015

Everybody has to write one of these, don’t they?

Let’s see. What happened in 2015? It might be just writing at this time of the year, but in my head, the year was categorised by stress. Which is weird, because in 2014 I:

  • wrote two plays,
  • performed in two productions,
  • published and launched my first novel,
  • completed a certificate III in Game Design,
  • holidayed in Halls Gap,
  • turned 40 and was painted into the TARDIS,
  • created a CGI opening for the school production which almost killed me,
  • saw my daughter perform at the Melbourne Arts Centre,
  • had our first cancer scare with our dog Amy and then
  • lost my grandfather to cancer (which doesn’t seem that long ago).

2015They were huge things, and very draining. And still, I finished this year completely shattered and I’m just getting out of it now, after a good few days down at Dromana soaking in the ocean (my calm down place). My 2015 list on the face of it is much longer. This year I:

  • Wrote a book starring my daughter as a werewolf
  • Saw They Might Be Giants (again)
  • Watched my lovely wife graduate from university
  • Ran the school radio show and podcast for a year
  • Spent a week in Sydney
  • Ramped up the school 3D printing program
  • Started learning to program in Python
  • Got my debating team into the finals
  • Had a number of articles published in educational journals
  • Had a reunion of the Five
  • Fixed the shower head
  • Ran the sound for Macbeth
  • Wrote half a dozen stories for a sequel to Dwarves in Space and found them mostly awful
  • Discovered Netflix and Stan and Presto
  • Had a Marvel Universe movie marathon
  • Went to a number of art galleries
  • Attended a few Guides functions
  • Started an educational blog
  • Read the Harper Lee sequel nobody thought would ever happen
  • Flew in a very old bi-plane
  • Finished my wedding video – three years on
  • Celebrated Grandma’s 90th

And that’s just the ones that come to mind going back through my photo gallery. Of those, they were all incredibly positive, life affirming and creative pursuits, which didn’t bring me down in the slightest. So why am I so mentally exhausted?

I think all that I can say is: don’t get involved in politics in the workplace. Just do your own job as well as you can and let what’s up top run itself.

I just wish I believed that was a good idea. Anyway, as always, I promise I will write more in 2016. And I have actual things in place to make that happen. AND I did actually write a lot in 2015 – just not on FindingDamo.

Dark Half

Sometimes you really need to think through what you type into Google.

I was talking to my wife about a guy who failed a paternity test because his baby was actually born to his twin brother – who was still inside him. Searching for that article now, I found this:

Be careful what you search for.

Be careful what you search for.

What I was actually looking for was this article entitled: Guy fails paternity test because his unborn twin is the father.

This reminded me of Stephen King’s Dark Half – Tad Beaumont has an evil twin and…

OK, wait. This story is going to require me to be a bit spoilery. If you don’t want to have the story ruined, go and read it, and then come back and read this. Otherwise, read on.

dark half

So, when he was younger he started having visions of sparrows and heard them. It turned out he had a tumour in his head, which they removed. That tumour became his evil twin and tried to kill him when he brought it to life by creating an alter ego so he could write crime fiction.

Wow. That was MASSIVELY spoilery.

Shereen looked at me and said “Wow. That really would scare you, having an evil twin brought to life from being a writer.”

My response, in my best Arnie:

not a tumor“It’s NOT a tumah! It’s my evil twin.”

Which led to:

“Ah! Twins! I have Danny De Vito in my head!”

twins2

Sometimes my mind works in mysterious ways.

I want to publish Finding Damo. I can’t publish it while I’m teaching. I can’t really write under a pseudonym, as everyone already associated me with Finding Damo (especially you, reading this  blog).

So I’m safe for now, until I write something I have to publish under a different name.

Can you hear sparrows?

Sparrow_Silhouette.svg

Just Right

A quick writing exercise that I did this fortnight with my Golden Pen group: update a fairy tale for a modern audience. As always, these stories are whipped up and posted here without too much editing. It’s all about the process, not the end result.

And, for those who are completely out of touch: a Bear in today’s society is a big, hairy, gay man.

Now read on.

Goldy slid the crowbar into the slim gap in the old windowsill and lifted it with a small grunt, hearing the snap of the window latch breaking free. She cast a furtive glance around to make sure nobody was watching and then quickly slid the window open and slithered with a practiced grace through the entry and into the darkened house. Once inside, she stood up and pushed her dirty blonde hair back under her navy hoody. She’d heard that these three were rolling in dosh. There should be enough in here that she could palm off easily. She stood completely still, listening for the sounds of someone inside the two-story house. Nothing.

She’d been casing the place for weeks. Living at the prestigious Armadale address were three men – all apparently single, all very well off. She checked her notes.

Victim 1: “Papa” (likes Hemingway, pretensions to writing) Out Tues, Thur mornings – gym.

Victim 2: “Mama” (cross-dresses on weekends, professional singer) – Works nights. Comes home late Thur. morning.

Victim 3: “Baby” (younger than the other two. At least half a metre taller than the others) – No idea what he does for a living. Early riser – out all day weekdays.

So Thursday morning was the best time. She’d watched Baby leave the house wearing running shorts and a singlet, showing off his massively hairy back and shoulders, and then, knowing the place was empty, had made her way to the window at the side of the house.

Goldy crept to the upstairs study, where she knew there would be a trove of electrical equipment. If she could hack their passwords, she might even be able to sell some of the songs and stories for cash. Inside, she found three computers on three desks. The first was a highly-customised, bright pink desktop, covered in bling.

“Too hot,” she muttered. “I’d never be able to sell that one without it being traced back to me.”

The second was an ancient clunker that didn’t even look like it connected to the Internet.

“Too cold,” she grumbled. “How can they have all this money and still own such a piece of junk!” And then the motherlode.

“Just right!” she gasped. On the third desk was a superb laptop, whirring away with incredible power. It was light enough to fit into her pocket and would sell for top dollar down at the markets. To top all this off, a yellow post-it had the words P: P0rr1dG3. She clicked the mouse, tapped the password into the login screen, and sure enough, was admitted right into Baby’s digital sanctum.

“Brilliant,” she said, shutting the lid and stuffing the laptop into her backpack.

The next stop was the living room. As she tiptoed down the stairs, she smiled at the pictures on the walls. It was definitely a strange living arrangement, between these three gentlemen of leisure. All three were in most of the pictures – scenes by a park, dancing at Mardi Gras, waving at the camera in fancy restaurants. If she wasn’t living on the streets, she’d probably have a good idea of who they were, but she was a bit behind on her popular culture, strangely enough.

In the lounge, she nabbed some more electronics – a couple of iPads, the Playstation, a couple of different screencasters. And once more, she was faced with a decision. Three watches lay neatly on the coffee table. The first was an incredibly beautiful gold watch, intricate and had Hemingway’s face engraved into the band. She hesitated, and then sighed.

“Too hot,” she whispered, sadly. She could probably get some good money for this, but the idea of today was to get easy money, not good money. Again, it was too easy to trace back to her. The second watch she almost immediately dismissed. A simple, digital piece, worn and boring. “Too cold, for sure,” she said. But the third was a treasure. An elegant looking Gucci; worth well over seven thousand dollars, although she’d be lucky to get a grand for it.

“Just right,” she said, grinning and pocketing the piece. As she did, she saw the time and gasped. Eleven o’clock! Mama was due home any time now.

Panicking, she ran back up the stairs. She couldn’t go out the window she came in, it was too obvious. She already knew there wasn’t a back door leading anywhere. Her final option was the upstairs bedroom window. From her reconnaissance of the place, she knew there was a tree within jumping distance that would take her into a neighbouring yard and to safety. You know, if she didn’t plummet to her death first.

She’d just hit the top of the stairs when she heard conversation at the front door. Not just Mama then. Crap. The door to the bedroom was open. She ducked in – and came to a complete stop, stunned.

There were three beds in the room.

“What is it with these guys?” she mused. Downstairs, there was a muted yell. They’d noticed the window. She wouldn’t get out now. Goldy crept quickly to the first bed. It was covered in iron railings and decorated with leather belts and chains. She looked to see whether she could get under the bed, and then stood up quickly, eyes wide.

“Too hard,” she said, shaking her head. The noises downstairs were louder now. They’d found the watch, and there was some loud snarling and a high-pitched sob. Goldy broke into a sweat.

The second bed was a four-poster. Immaculate and covered in lace. She could tell that if she went anywhere near it she would leave clear indentations, giving the game away.

“Too soft.”

The third bed was “Just right!” and Goldy slipped beneath the bed, pulling the already unmade doona cover down to cover her as she cowered and hoped that they would go outside for long enough for her to make her escape.

The three burly men tumbled into the room.

“Someone’s been fiddling around with my watch!” said Papa.

“They nicked my iPad!” cried Mama.

“And my laptop,” growled Baby. “Whoever they are, they’re going to regret stealing from an international wrestling star.”

From beneath the bed, Goldy gave a little squeak of terror. She knew she recognized that one. It was that guy off the TV – world championship wrestler and all-around bad boy.

“I heard something,” said Papa.

“Surround the bed, we’ll tear ‘em apart,” rumbled Baby. Goldy squealed and scrambled out from under the bed, making for the window. Mama grabbed at her, getting the back and a handful of hoody. Utilising years of getting out of bad situations, Goldy squirmed out of her hoody and dashed for the window, which was luckily open.

“Ooh, it’s a girl!” cried Mama.

“Wait, no!” yelled Papa, as the thief leapt up to the sill and dived out. The three of them ran to the window and tussled until they all had a view. Goldy was dangling from a branch, quite a decent leap away from the window. She struggled upwards and then clambered lithely across the branch and down the trunk. She threw one more panicked glance back at them before she disappeared from view.

“Well,” said Papa. “That was exciting.”

“Poor girl,” said Mama. “She should have known Baby was just kidding. We always look out for the homeless kids in the area.”

“Speak for yourself,” Baby said, but his face was sad as he watched the space where Goldy had disappeared. “Ah well, if we see her tomorrow, we’ll give her that hoody back and some money for food, yes?”

“Exactly,” said Papa. “Now, all that excitement has made me hungry. Anyone for breakfast? I’ve made porridge.”

The End.

38-porridge-ala

Second-hand

The rest of the family will probably read this and call me a whinger. But I feel that as the oldest child, it is my divine right to own new clothes so that I can pass them down to my brother. I wasn’t allowed to see M rated films until I was 15. The trade-off is new clothes.

But no. Mum and Dad got all of my clothes from the Websdales, who had kids a bit older than I was.

*sigh*

But that’s not why I called this post second-hand.

lots of lovely booksIt’s all about books.

The highlight of any holiday for me has been going to a new town and finding their second-hand bookshop. Second-hand books are God’s gift to readers and the owners of these shops are angels in disguise. There is nothing as satisfying as the smell of thousands of musty old books stacked on top of each other. The dust shifts as you move through the store and the light is only barely good enough to see by. There are books stacked on top of books. Shelves with two layers of books. Staircases and hidden nooks with undiscovered piles of literary treasures.

I have a lot of new books. I have quite a number of e-books. But my bookshelves at home are made up primarily of books from the second-hand bookshop.

I’m pretty sure most of the Biggles books I read came from the second-hand bookstore. Almost all of my Stephen King collection. My Tom Holts and Dean Koontzs. There is a rush involved in searching a bookshelf and finding the last book in a series that you haven’t been able to find anywhere else.

Through The Looking GlassI’m writing this now because of an experience Shereen and I had in Belgrave on the weekend. We found a place called Through The Looking Glass. I went in because they had Uglies, Pretties and Specials by Scott Westerfeld in the window. So I ducked in to ask how much they were ($20 for all three – bloody marvelous). Inside, there was a lovely lady sitting in an incredibly comfortable-looking armchair, reading. I nodded and went to move into the shop to find the owner when she asked me if she could help.

The owner was sitting just inside the shop reading a book! I almost burst into tears realising that this was a possible career. Shereen and I chatted with her for a good twenty minutes, with me occasionally ducking off to explore. I forgot to ask her name, but I’m pretty sure from Facebook stalking the shop’s page that it is Robyn, so I’m going with that.

This is my ideal bookshop. There are boxes of books everywhere. It’s difficult to walk around. Finding books here is about exploration, and that is my perfect day.

You absolutely have to go and say hi, like the Facebook page and go buy some books. It’s like Nirvana. I was very impressed, as you might be able to tell.

moore booooksOK, if you can’t make it to Belgrave, here are some of the other places I have a special affinity with:

Flinders Books – the Flinders St store opposite the station. It was another squeezy, cosy store with more books than necessary. But now it’s dead, along with Kill City books that was owned by the same people. I’m so sad!

Book Now in Bendigo. I’m not sure how it is now, as I haven’t been there in a few years. But this was a lovely, multi-floored bookshop with staircases with metal railings. They always gave me a good price when I brought in a pile of books for sale.

Yarra Cottage Books in Warrandyte. A very friendly owner and a great children’s section. They also get in some very interesting rare volumes, including a multi-volume 1001 Arabian Nights which I desperately wanted but couldn’t afford.

I write because I read. I read mainly because of libraries (there’s another post) and second-hand bookstores.

Show them some love people! They’ll be around long after e-books have been made redundant by the New World Order and the end of the Digital Age.

To find the treasure that you seek, Behind the books just take a peek. Hidden treasures you will find When you take the time to look behind.

Elf-Promotion (the dwarves have all the fun)

Saturday 5th April is now Dwarves in Space Day. But it’s not just dwarves going into space. There is a wizard. There are a number of barbarians. There is an orc. Even the king of Trimador is coming along for the ride. And a goodly number of elves.

And this is an issue for a race that is so attuned to nature. Nobody thinks about the huge sacrifice they make when they join the crew of the Eagle in search of Quiddity.

Have no idea what I’m talking about? Come along to the signing of my new book: Dwarves in Space.

Where? Notions Unlimited, Shop 9, Chelsea Beach Arcade, 426 Nepean Hwy, Chelsea, VIC. 3196

When? 5.30 – 7.00pm, April 5, 2014.

What else?

Author Damian Perry will be in-store at Notions Unlimited Bookshop, to launch and sign copies of his debut humorous SF novel, DWARVES IN SPACE.

Information on the Notions Unlimited Blog and on my Facebook Page (like it while you’re there) and Google+ event (ditto).

I hope you’ll join us for drinks and nibbles. Bring a friend or six. Bring total strangers. I’ll sign books and answer questions.

signing on 5 april

Still not convinced? Here’s what people are saying about the book:

Amazon reader:

“When I started “Dwarves in Space” I wasn’t sure what I would be getting, but I have to say that all too quickly I was snagged by the witty writing, the memorable characters, the adventurous tone and the entertaining plot.”

A review from Danny – a fellow Discworld fan:

“Damian Perry has managed to not only cross the genre divide by poking fun at the tropes and cliches, but has also paid respect to them as well – and it’s all held together by an engaging and exciting story.”

 

I look forward to seeing you all there.

The coincidence thing…

After my Bullying post, I received a Like from Christine Barba, who writes a blog called Project Light to Life. I checked out her page and, coincidentally, found the name of the coincidence thing I keep talking about on Finding Damo. It’s called the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. So thank you to Christine. Go read her blog.

That means that I can now add BMP to all of the posts that have previously referred to ‘that coincidence thing’.

And speaking of which:

A couple of weeks ago I finished the third book in a most unusual trilogy.

Not that the books were written by the same author, had the same characters or were written in the same universe. None of the three writers wrote their novels as part of this trilogy. But they were a trilogy nonetheless.

Holding to my desire to write about things when they turn up more than three times in a row (BMP!) I wanted to chat briefly about this trilogy.

The Body SnatchersChronologically, the first book in the series is a little known story entitled “The Body Snatchers” (later re-released as Invasion of the Body Snatchers). It’s popular enough for the term “pod people” to have entered into standard English speech, so I won’t worry too much about spoiling the story. It is set in a small town in the United States where a doctor starts noticing unusual behaviour from his friends and neighbours. After an encounter with the town’s resident author, the small band realise that they are being invaded by beings from space, who are rapidly replacing the locals with replicas grown from giant pea pods.

It is an easy read, but Finney manages to really hook you in with some incredible prose. There were moments where a chill thrilled through me at a passage in the story. This book is a conspiracy theorist’s wet dream. I’m pretty sure there is a dissociative disorder that manifests itself in removing the brain’s ability to connect to people, leading to a person thinking that their family have been replaced by exact duplicates.

Yes, here we go. Capgras Delusion. I typed “pod people delusion” into Google. Anyway, where was I? OK, yes. For anyone who has seen any of the numerous film adaptations, it is well worth taking the time to read this novel. You can knock it off in an afternoon, and Finney’s son, in an interview on the audio adaptation, states that his father was never really happy with the movie version, even though it is a cult classic.

RedShirtsThe second book in the trilogy was written much later. It is an amusing, meta little story called Red Shirts, by John Scalzi. It has nothing to do with The Body Snatchers, but the third book I want to talk about links these two together so tightly that I just had to write about it.

From Amazon:

Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, with the chance to serve on “Away Missions” alongside the starship’s famous senior officers.

Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to realize that 1) every Away Mission involves a lethal confrontation with alien forces, 2) the ship’s senior officers always survive these confrontations, and 3) sadly, at least one low-ranking crew member is invariably killed. Unsurprisingly, the savvier crew members belowdecks avoid Away Missions at all costs.

Then Andrew stumbles on information that transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is…and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives.

I listened to this one as a download from Audible. Wil Wheaton read it and between Shereen and I, we almost crashed the car at least twice from laughing so hard. The line between reality and fantasy is severely blurred in this novel. It is almost a drinking game turned into a novel. But Scalzi quickly takes us to a point where we really care about the characters, so much so that by the end of the third coda, I had tears in my eyes (again, making it hard to drive). And yes, the codas take a bit of staying power to get through, after the rapid pace of the rest of the story, but they are definitely worth it.

To explain why the third novel in the trilogy actually makes these three novels a trilogy I need to go spoiler-fest on it. I won’t spoil RedShirts, and I assume you already know enough about Body Snatchers that conversation on it isn’t a spoiler (and if not, you might not want to read further).

Night of the Living TrekkiesKnowing the storyline of the third book – Night of the Living Trekkies by Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall – isn’t going to affect your enjoyment of the story. The spoilers are on the covers (I really LOVE the German cover). Basically, Jim Pike is an ex-soldier, returned from fighting in the Middle East. He is settling into quiet obscurity as a security guard at a posh hotel in Dallas. On this particular weekend, there is a Star Trek convention. Also on this weekend, a number of staff are off sick, and others are in, but suffering from illness. There have been a number of unusual biting attacks, and the wounds just won’t stop bleeding…

Soon, the Trek convention is completely overrun with zombies. Not only that, but Jim’s sister is in town for the convention. Jim Pike (get it?) needs to save his sister and get over his fear of command before day break.

That’s the premise. Now for the spoilers.

Spoiler Alert
Early in the novel, Jim notices that the zombies are manifesting an eye on various parts of their body. These eyes are a vulnerable spot. They appear after showing up as a bruised lump, finally splitting through the skin and taking over the host. Here’s the sequel to Body Snatchers: these eyes are an alien life form that drifted to earth as spores, traveling through space for aeons and then landing on earth. They take over the hosts and use them as spreading mechanisms (hence the zombies) but their more sneaky goal is an amalgamation with the Earthlings and eventual colonisation of the planet.

The link to RedShirts is more mundane. The novel is littered with references to Star Trek, and the rules of surviving a Trek episode (even one with zombies). The funniest moment in the novel was the discovery of the last surviving member of a pack of Red Shirts. None of the others had died from zombie attack and he didn’t even realise that the hotel had been infested.

Night of the Living Zombies is the love child of Body Snatchers and Red Shirts. It is a bastard child, not written as well, or with as much raw talent. Neither parent would be overly proud of their offspring. But they, like me, would love it anyway, for the simple joy of laughter and dead trekkies that it brings to the world.

Dwarves in Space

The last time I was this excited, Shereen was walking up the aisle towards me on our wedding day. I jest; that was far more exciting, but this is a close second.

Dwarves in Space eBook coverDwarves in Space is now available for purchase on Amazon in paperback or as a Kindle eBook, and on Lulu.com in paperback.

It has been a long road (see my first post on Dwarves in Space) to this point. I have sent the novel to half a dozen publishers and the same number of agents. Each time I would send the excerpt or manuscript off, there would be an 8-12 week wait before I’d hear back, and no useful feedback even then. Rather than spend years sending my manuscript to publisher after publisher, I decided that I would take my destiny in my own hands and give self-publication a shot.

I had no interest in spending thousands of dollars on extensive print runs. The eBook option was an easy choice. Even those people who have iBooks and iPads still buy a lot of their digital books from Amazon. At the moment, I have a 90 day exclusive contract with Amazon. After that, I might extend to the iBookstore and Nook etc.

Anyway, the useful information:

Clicking on the links to Amazon and Lulu.com above will take you to the books on the respective sites. I’ve kept the Kindle price low to offset the price of the paperback. The print-on-demand nature of the paperback means that I don’t really make any money on it, but I don’t really care. I just want to build a market for now.

And how can I go wrong? Who doesn’t want to read a story about a young king and his wizard friend who travel through space in a ship shaped like an eagle? A ship that is crewed by dwarves, elves and barbarians with no idea how to operate an electric can opener, let alone a starship? And how could you possibly pass up a novel containing space battles between this crew and a necromancer flying the skeleton of a dragon? There are even some quite funny bits, if I do say so myself!

Not to mention gods, demons, zombies, holograms, trolls, prophecies, mice and a very famous three-headed dog.

Please enjoy my first novel while I finish off the second.

Dwarves in Space paperback cover

Also, if a novel is too much for  you, you could try one of my short stories, available for sale on AlfieDog Limited.

Both are ridiculously cheap and are available for all eBook readers.

Ted's Souls  be practical

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