Alternate Worlds

The Voice I came across a rather odd question, recently.  I will admit that I couldn’t quite understand why it was being asked.  On reflection, perhaps I was being unfair – making assumptions based on my own ways of thinking.  The question was, in essence: how do you write alternate histories/futures?  I hope that I can put right any fault my initial reaction might have revealed.

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Review Delight

"Thief" by Steve K SmyNew Reviews

I was browsing, this morning, when I had the delightful experience of discovering that I had received three new reviews, on Goodreads, for the first three of my short stories in the Thief series.  And here, I might sound somewhat critical, but I’m simply making an honest observation: Unlike some authors, I don’t ‘cherry pick’ only five star reviews.  I can say with hand on heart that I am grateful when anybody takes the time to GabrinTheAvatar.jpgleave any kind of comment or review against one of my books!  Whatever their verdict – from “it sucks” (not in those words, please) to “I love it” – I am happy.  You see, I like to know that somebody has taken the trouble to deliver their verdict, good, bad or indifferent.  I don’t expect to please everybody.  If we all liked the same things, we might only have one book to read!  Honesty is a very important trait, as far as I’m concerned.

Imagineer cover for 'Ur'gavan' by Steve K Smy

All that said, here are the review links:

  1. Thief (4 stars)
  2. Ur’gavan (3 stars)

I would like to thank Magda for taking the time to comment.  It is very much appreciated.

Nearly There

I am very close to finishing my new mild horror/supernatural/future fiction tale in the G1: The Guardians series!  It will be my first novella.  I say finishing, but of course, I’m talking about the writing part of it.  The reading, editing, fixing and repairing are to come.  Before anybody says anything, I don’t have the option of getting any help from an editor or such.  Operating with a zero budget prohibits such things, unfortunately.  I have to rely on myself to act as impartially, and accurately, as possible.  It isn’t ideal, and I really would do things properly if I could afford it.  I am not inclined to beg for freebie help in these arduous tasks.  I’m also not interested in joining a ‘critique’ group, or similar.  My experience with such groups, in the field of art, have not been happy, with too many members having their own agendas and with motives that are sometimes questionable.  So I will continue as I must.

~ Steve

Thoughts on a Tuesday – New Paperback Launch

‘Likes’, ‘Follows’ and so forth

I’ll admit it.  I’ve participated in a few ‘Like for a Like’ and ‘Follow for a Follow’ schemes in recent times.  Now, the theory is that you’re supposed to click on ‘Like’ or ‘Follow’, or something very similar, for everybody you track a link to.  In all honesty, at first I adhered to that rule.  Lately, however, I’ve been very naughty!  I’m afraid that if I didn’t like what I found, I didn’t do what was expected of me.  What caused this revolution?  Well, quite simply, some of the participants were ringers!  The schemes were supposed to be for authors, writers, self-publishers, book reviewers and maybe book lovers.  Some of those who jumped on the ride, however, had nothing to do with any of the world of books!  They were promoting sites/blogs/pages that did anything but talk about books.  Then, there were some that did fill the bill but I had a crisis of conscience over and had to duck away from (and no, I’m not going to say what they concerned, other than for the ‘make me rich by buying my self-help-get-rich-quick book’ types).  I have no objection to the concept, but in truth I prefer the idea of having a similar scheme where you only ‘Like’/’Follow’ those you actually have an interest in hearing more from.  It’s time for a more discerning scheme for these things!  Yes, I know that I’ve gained followers, but it’s almost by accident as I’m sure the vast majority don’t really expect to maintain any active interest, and many cancel their ‘Like’/’Follow’ after a while.

Paperback Writer

Yes, the second paperback is out there – sort of!  Following the instructions given, by FeedARead, I ordered a ‘proof’ copy of my novelette in paperback.  Now, the instructions indicated that I had to approve said proof before it would go live on their store.  Performing what I like to call a ‘security check’ by Googling my name, to see if any of my ‘to-buy’ books were in places they didn’t belong, I encountered my new paperback being offered for sale by… FeedARead!  Now, in essence, I don’t have a problem with that.  I do, however, object to having to buy a copy of my own book – surely they could absorb the cost of a complementary copy – on the grounds that it wouldn’t be put up for sale until I had done so and approved it, only to discover that it was being advertised anyway!

Well, if it’s good enough for them (and no, I won’t be using them again!), then here we are:

Shade of Evil (Being Part 1 of G1: The Guardians) is available from FeedARead, ISBN 9781782993551, for £3.99 plus Post & Packing.  To quote the blurb:

A simple man bears a terrible burden, unknowing. Now, that burden is killing him, seeking freedom from his exhausted hulk. Freedom to satisfy its evil hunger.

“A darkness dwelt there, a vile miasma of misery that gnawed at the very soul of the man. It had been there for years, growing like some parasite, growing bloated with every bit of melancholy that was sucked from him. Worse, it was taking on a life of its own, a substance that should not exist. And the man was becoming something less, something hollow.”

A novelette.

A Matter of Spam

This blog is very well protected against Spammers by a system called Akismet.  The odd bit slips through, but as I have to approve comments from anybody who hasn’t been previously approved, they’re easy to mark as Spam and disposed of.  More rarely, a comment from somebody legitimate might end up in Spam when it doesn’t deserve to, but I’m scrupulous about checking before emptying the Spam folder, so they get found and approved that way.  The same isn’t true for all blogs!  I’ve noticed several blogs where Spam comments have gotten through, which means that the blog has become vulnerable to attack, and other readers may suffer if they follow links in those comments, or click on the commenter’s name.  More worryingly, this is happening on some sites that use alleged secure systems, like Captcha, which requires that you  decipher something before your comment will be accepted.  Obviously, Captcha isn’t working!  Why?  Because Spammers all know about it and it seems they are (probably) randomly attacking sites in person, so that they can get past Captcha!  Unless, of course, somebody’s created a ‘robot’ program which can solve the puzzles.  If you’re a blogger, I suggest you keep a close eye on all comments!  If you’re a blog reader – be wary of clicking on links in comments, especially if the language is poor and the comment seems ‘odd’.

As an aside, you can find out about any commenter quite easily.  First choice: Google them!  Chances are, you’ll find a string of entries where they’ve posted on various forums and blogs.  If you’re still unsure, maybe because Google has proven inconclusive, there’s a site called WhoIs.  That will look up information on anybody who is online, and it can even trace IP addresses.

Take care out there!

~ Steve

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham: A Review

The Day of the TriffidsThe Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham is one of the great examples of future fiction. Written in the first person, we follow the hero as he wakes to find a world gone mad. An expert worker on a triffid farm, he suffered damage to his face that threatened his sight. In an ironic twist, he is cured, but he discovers that the vast majority of the population has been rendered blind by a peculiar meteor shower.

Society is collapsing rapidly, as the few fortunates who have retained their sight are faced with a choice: try to help the blind or abandon them. Even those who seem to want to help the blind prove to be malign, as the hero spends a period as captive, tethered to a blind man, and forced to help his group of afflicted people scavenge for essential supplies. Following the hero, we meet people who are broken and lost, desperate ones who can’t understand how their world has crumbled, and those who go on a wild adventure of satisfying all their desires. But there is a greater menace still: the triffids. These giant carnivorous plants are capable of movement and demonstrate a frightening intelligence as they break free from their captivity on the farms. They hunt for food, and the most abundant source of that is the human population. In groups or singly, they stalk their prey, or lie in wait, ready to strike.

Escaping his captivity, the hero becomes part of a small group of survivors. Fleeing London, they establish a refuge in the country. But the triffids are spreading quickly and soon the small band are under siege.

Even with the hero’s expertise with triffids, can the group survive?

Mr Wyndham tells his tale with great expertise. I have no great liking for first person narratives, but he succeeds in engaging the reader very quickly. It isn’t long before you find yourself needing to know what will happen next. We are shown how pathetic we can become when Society falls apart, leaving us with a se3nse of isolation. We see the worst and the best in the people the hero encounters. From the generous to the selfish, it’s all there. And throughout it all the eerie triffids march. Monsters capable of pushing humanity into extinction. Terrifying, they are a warning too. As far as the triffids are concerned, the message is surely : just because we can, it doesn’t mean we should.

Five stars seems an inadequate measure of the book. If I could, I would give the book, and Mr Wyndham, six stars.

I can highly recommend this book, even for those who have an aversion to ‘science fiction’.

~ Steve

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