Blogging, Blogs, Book Review, Commentary, Literature, Writing

Giant Virgin Births

Don’t get worried. This is actually a book review. 😉

The Sound of the Stones is a book. Hang on, that didn’t start well. The Sound of the Stones is Beth Hammond’s first adult novel. Hang on, that didn’t sound right either, it’s not erotica. It’s actually billed as a Young Adult Fantasy.

Billing this book as YA Fantasy doesn’t do this book justice in my opinion. In fact it actually put me off reading it at all. However I bit the bullet and got stuck in and very quickly found that, much like quicksand, it sucked me in and refused to let go.

It’s a tale of two worlds, our own, and another earth-like world. Except this other world is one where humans are subjugated by an unpleasant, trans-dimensional alien species who impregnate human females via their dreams and use the hybrid off-spring to control and dominate the human slaves. So there’s one weird ingredient already. Virgin births!

And there’s Giants. And humans with special powers. And a mission. And family. And unlikely friends. And monsters. Even giant worms. Oh yeah. A love story too.

But what makes TSOTS special for me is the voice and the humor. There’s no olde worlde mediaeval speech in this fantasy (Thankfully). The dialogue is modern and laced with in-jokes and even a little innuendo. I found myself chuckling at regular intervals as well as getting excited, worried for and caring about the characters. I started liking the ‘good’ guys and hating the bad ones. Just what a good story-teller should achieve.

As it is book one of a trilogy the story obviously has a long way to go. Because of this I do have one small criticism. The book starts in our world and introduces ‘Frankie’, an orphan with a love of books who encounters a strange character in a bookshop that is shutting down and discovers an ancient tome that will prove key to the story and provide the connection between the two worlds at a later date. Then the story shifts to the alternate world and stays there right until the end when we finally get reintroduced to Frankie. This annoyed me. But it’s actually a back-handed criticism. The reason I found it annoying is that just when I was getting engaged with the Frankie storyline I was transported to the alternate reality and Frankie didn’t make another appearance until the final chapter. At which point I’d pretty much forgotten about her. And now will have to wait for book two. 😦

Still, in summary, I would recommend this book for pretty much all age groups. It’s funny without being a farce. It’s thrilling and exciting without having to resort to gore and violence for the kicks. And it’s engaging and you do actually want to know what happens next and where it’s going to go. What more could you ask for?

You can buy it here (Amazon).

And here. (Barnes and Noble)

Commentary, Invention, Literature, Sci-fi, Writing

The four absolutes…

Yesterday I had a piece rejected for entry into a sci-fi writing competition because I hadn’t read the criteria properly and what I’d submitted didn’t conform.

‘Not a problem’ I thought. ‘I’ll just write something else’.

BIG problem. The well had run dry. The washing had fallen off the line. The toilet didn’t flush.

I had nothing and just stared at the screen like a gnome does the pond.

What to do? I know that I work well (sometimes best) under pressure so in the absence of any external demands I decided to set my own impositions. Here they are and also what resulted –

1) It must be sci-fi (obviously)

2) It must be less than 500 words (my own choice)

3) It must be completed within 20 minutes

4) It must make the reader laugh (or smile) at least once

Here’s what I wrote….

DIGIT by Carl Baumann

‘You were supposed to make me rich!’ shouted Twig at the head sitting on the table next to his laptop.

Twig was (shocker) very skinny. No amount of anabolic steroids or high-carb diets would change that. He knew. He’d tried them all.

Tormented throughout childhood because of his stature, he’d turned to ‘Digit’, (the new crack of the 2030’s) as a means of escape. It was called Digit because you had to use one finger to insert it into your anus where it was the most effective.

One unfortunate side-effect of Digit was almost terminal weight loss. The other was chronic hemorrhoids.

‘You can’t kill me, steal my head, then expect me to write a fucking best-seller for you!’ the head screamed.

The voice didn’t come from its mouth, due to the obvious lack of lungs, trachea and voicebox. Instead, it emanated from the invisible speakers dotted around the room. It sounded completely real, issued via Dolby 30.1 technology.

‘Well, you shouldn’t have been so careless. What were you thinking? Walking in front of my Hambulance without looking. You must have felt the vibro-siren…’

Twig drove the latest in hi-tech emergency medical assistance. A Hover Ambulance or ‘Hambulance’ in modern parlance. Fortunately for Twig, (not so fortunate for the head on his table and its missing body) his vehicle contained the latest tech to immediately freeze the head for attachment to a less fragile, robot body at a later time.

Twig had decided not to take the head to a ‘Rejuve’ clinic though. When he’d scooped it up and recognized it was Shatner Stuart, the world famous sci-fi author and TV script writer, he had a better idea.

‘Just get me to a clinic!’ said Shatner. ‘I can flip you all the creds you want once I’m robbed up!’ – Heads with ‘robot’ bodies were known as robbers. Robbers were now just referred to as ‘Bastards’.

‘Nah’ said Twig. ‘The Feds would spot that in Nano-seconds’.

‘Better this way. I’ll get you to a clinic once you give me a story I can sell.’

‘If you don’t’ he warned, ‘I’ll stick this up your nose.’

Twig waved his brown-stained ‘Digit’ finger in front of Stuart’s eyes.

‘Alright, alright, start typing.’ –  Resignedly, Shatner started the story…

“Open quotes – You were supposed to make me rich – exclamation mark – close quotes – shouted Twig…”