27 April Updates

I am getting very close to a final draft of the WWII drama Attack Hitler’s Bunker! so hopefully there will be an excerpt from that here next week. For now, however, another excerpt from Worlds Like Dust, this time an amusing one.

Worlds Like Dust
Copyright © 2012 by Lazlo Ferran
All Rights Reserved

The four Ischians made a comical sight, squeezing their huge bodies into the small Maintenance POD. With two minutes to go, Luxmi Davidos had just finished rigging the main Nitrogen and Oxygen tanks to explode when she heard a tapping sound beside her. She has just sent the last grunt back with some tools, and grabbed her laser to defend herself.
There was a small grubber tank – filled half way with liquid around a rocky island, next to her. “Oh God, I had forgotten about you. Why the hell did you have to emerge right now! Now I will have to take you too!”
She grabbed an old oily towel, hanging next to a disfunctional diesel engine, and lifted the lid of the tank. Scooping the cat sized, grub-like, wriggling creature, she wrapped it in the towel and stuffed it under her arm.
“Who knows? You may be the only life-form from Earth alive, besides us, when this is all over! Time to go!”
The cruiser hatch was shut behind her, right on the fifteen minute mark.
“Hold this!” she said, handing one of the grunts the wriggling bundle.
“What the hell is it?”
“A grubber. ‘Genetically-engineered Recycling Utility Bio-organism’ – a creature that can live in air, water, gasoline – just about anything. Used to keep pipes clear and clean. It’s a recent addition to the Station.”
“What do I do with it?”
“It’ll be okay in air for a while but we need to put it in water soon. Don’t worry, it will clean the water for us: it will clean anything.”
“Genetically engineered from what?” Dittmer asked.
“God only knows. Anyway, no time to explain now, We gotta go. Where we goin’?”
“J5, you said.”

Other News
I am still hard at work editing. But that hasn’t stopped me continuing with Worlds Like Dust. I am about half way through – more than half way through in fact, because I have had to consider and plan out Act III. This point in a novel’s growth is always one for much thought. It’s at this balance point that you realise the potential of a story; all the possible ways it could develop, and one feels the challenge most keenly of making the best climax.

20 April Updates

Here is this week’s sneak preview: it’s from the forthcoming sci-fi Iron: Volume III, provisionally entitled Worlds Like Dust. As usual I make no apologies for typos.

Copyright © 2013 by Lazlo Ferran
All Rights Reserved

She heard heavy footsteps approaching. She took two grenades and pressed the sequence. Two red lights flashed at her. She waited until the counter said ‘1 second’, peered around the corner and threw them. The Ischians seemed surprised. Four of them stopped in their tracks, the rearmost already holding a wounded arm. They were all stooping to stop the top of their helmets scraping the ceiling. One of them dropped to his knees, as if praying. Then they were gone, in a mist of biomium spacesuit and fur-covered flesh.
Davidos had a momentary feeling of enuit. She shook her head, and ran past the body parts and bloody walls, towards the battle. She drew her laser and let the barrel lead her down the corridor. When she arrived, Dittmer and one other grunt were battling the last Ischian. It was kneeling in a pile of gore. Its normally grey suit was bright orange.
‘Sixteen grenades to a box – that’s twelve grenades. They can’t have used them all!’ Davidos thought. Dittmer and the grunt ignored her and pumped endless bursts of laser-fire into the suit of the alien, but the suit absorbed it all. They would be dead but for the alien having a blocked breach on his laser. ‘Probably overheated,’ Davidos thought. It heard her footsteps and heard her coming. It looked almost pitiable as she pressed the sequence and threw the last grenade. It raised its arms in surrender just before it disappeared into alien oblivion.
“What the fuck happened to the crate of grenades!” she said over the intercom.
“We were overwhelmed. There was at least twenty of them!” Dittmer retorted.
“Okay. Okay. Back to Dock 3.”
At the dock the two soldiers left guarding the hatch, were leaning against the wall. “They’re not coming out! Either they can’t. Or won’t!”
“Alright. What now Lieutenant Davidos?” asked Dittmer.

Other News
I have been very busy this week, editing a fantasy novel for another writer; The Journals of Raymond Brooks. It’s the first paid editing I have done. If anybody wants my editings skills on their own novel, my rates are on the page with a link to the right. I am making good progress on Iron III and work has also started on designing the cover for my forthcoming WWII action novel, called Attack Hitler’s Bunker!

12 April Updates

Sneak Preview
Here is this week’s sneak preview. Well, it’s not really a sneak preview, but a free excerpt from the newly reworked and puplished The Jesus Monster. It has a lot more tension now and a better twist at the end.

A hand grabbed my wrist. It was horrible tight. I looked, and it was the stranger.
‘Oh no! Not again’, I thought.
“You must leave! Just go … Any place!”
I pulled my arm free. “But I can’t! I have a sister!”
“It doesn’t matter. She probably has it already,” the stranger said, seeing my fear.
“It’s the bug, isn’t it? But what can we do?” I asked, desperate. “We don’t want to just die! And if we do, there will be nobody left!”
He looked me straight in the eye. “Kill me! You must. I don’t want to live anyway. As a priest, committing murder is the worst thing I could do.”
I shook my head and turned to leave.
“Wait!” he shouted. “You must do this. One of you might survive, and there will be others. Eventually two people who cannot bare to kill each other might survive! Or the virus might die, or leave!”
“No!”
“It’s all in my journal! You … you must read it, son.” He tapped his chest pocket with his hand. He spoke quiet, like but then there was a fire in his eyes. It looked like he was looking up to heaven. Then his hand let go and he slumped, dead.

Other News
I published the third in my series of short stories this week: Vampire: Beneficence (Short Stories III). As usual, it includes the first chapters of both Ordo Lupus I and Iron I: Too Bright the Sun for free. I had my first review of the volume yesterday. I will be starting some work as editor this week so this may slow down my pace of writing a bit.

Elsewhere – Review of The Hobbit: Part I
I know just about everybody has had their ha’penny’s worth on this subject, so why not give mine? I watched it in HD on my tv so bear in mind , I would have missed the grandeur of a the large screen and better audio you get in a decent cinema.
On the whole, stepping out of my role as Tolkien Fanatic, it was good entertaimnent, although if you haven’t seen Lord of the Rings Parts I, II and III, you might miss some of the encoded messages which are now the Jackson staple; Gandalf psychically communing with Galadriel with expressions of childish guilt on his face being one (bad acting Ian).
But as a Tolkien Fanatic, I was disappointed. I was fine with the length – I even enjoined the scenery and I thought they made good use of backstory to fill out the almost three hours of screen time. My problem is Mr Jackson playing fast and loose – and even in places belittling the whole vision of Tolkien.

Two cases in point. The first was the rabbit-mobile of Radagast. Now, let’s face it, it is highly improbably that it would work anyway: I once worked out you would need 100,000 hamsters to pull a plough. I think you would need a least one hundred rabbits to pull even the lightest sled with a malnourished wizard on board. But having a modern concept like this in a medieval tale just makes fun of the whole thing. It mixes up history in the worst possibly revisionist way. I don’t think we are being fair to youngsters showing them these sort of scenes. Some of them will believe it and those that don’t will just feel insulted. It’s patronising.
The second example is not so bad: its the bit where they ‘toboggan’ down a series of precipices inside the goblin cave on a bridge-structure which has become detached. Its the same joke he used in Lord of the Rings at the seige of Helm’s deep when Legolas toboggans on a shield. It’s not so belittling, just silly.

I also think it’s perhaps a shame that the original simplicity and ‘lightness’ of the original tale is lost, but there are compensations. The tale is generally much darker here, and I think that works – sort of. I really love the characterisations of the Great Goblin (a joke missed here, though – Tolkien’s was better, too) and Azog and it was nice to see Chris Lee back; in early interviews he said he probably wouldn’t be involved because of the travelling.I also loved the dwarf song in Bag End and Martin Freeman is great as Bilbo.

I must say a final word about the ‘three movie’ debate. Yes, why three movies? The original nove is thin anyway. It is barely enough for one movie. Yes, here there is lots of backstory added that had to be left out of Lord of the Rings. But stil we have no Tom Bombadil and would have fitted in here just fine. My view is that perhaps two movies would have been the best format. Greed possibly took over here and I think a trick was missed. The money for the third movie could have been used to make an episode from The Silmarillion – perhaps The Children of Hurin, which is already a separate book. Yes, this would have been a big risk, but even if it had lost money, this would be more than compensated for by the other two. And if it had worked, even after only a few years, think of the possibilities! Warner Bros, MGM and New Line Cinemas would have had a franchise that could last forty years!

6 April Updates

Here is this week’s sneak preview – a short story provionally entitled Vampires, to be published as the first story in the new Short Stories Volume III along with The Jesus Monster. The punctuation may seem a little strange without the paragraphs before this excerpt but it is correct.

Vampires

Copyright © 2013 by Lazlo Ferran
All Rights Reserved

On a warm evening at the end of the 2010 summer, I was stalking the Vicar of St James Church in Clerkenwell. I am what is commonly called a vampire, d’you see …?
“Let me get one thing straight, though. We have been around forever. Homo Sapiens wouldn’t be Home Sapiens without us. We are the more evolved manifestation of the species. I know all this because I was once a writer, and have spent many lifetimes researching the subject. I have even visited the far-past … but that is another story …
“I was lurking in the shadows beneath the trees in Clerkenwell Close at about 10 pm when the present Vicar stepped out of the Church, and locked the doors. It was a fine evening, inky black in the shadows, cool, midnight blue in the sky apart from an exquisite halo around the full moon. The Vicar, quite understandably, stood there for a few moments, enjoying the sounds and smells of a summer evening. I too listened to a moment to the whispering of the trees in the gentle waft of air that flickered around my face. I cannot smell earthly smells as well as the Vicar but the resinous smell of the pine behind me was divine.
“The tall, elegant man in a dark suit at the top of the stone steps, descended and walked towards me. I stepped out of the shadows.
‘You! I … I wasn’t expecting you …’ he exclaimed, stopped in his tracks.
‘I wanted to talk to you. Let’s go somewhere quiet.’
‘Yes. It’s not safe here. We can sit in my car.’
‘You have a car? Hm! How times change!’
‘I have been told you are warming to our idea?’ I asked cautiously, once he had closed the door of his gleaming white car.
‘Yes. I have thought about it a lot. I would need something from you, though … for it to work, in my view.’
‘What is that?’
‘A large supply …of manna. Can you get it? If you can … regularly … enough for the Church’s use, I would be on-board.’
“I smiled at the nautical term. I delight in such linguistic niceties. ‘Perhaps. Perhaps, yes! When would you want the first … delivery?’
‘Before Sunday? Early Sunday morning would be best. Fresh!’
‘Very well. Sunday it is.’ I noticed a photograph of an attractive, natural red-haired girl stuck to the dashboard. ‘Yours?’ He nodded.
‘Sad’ I thought.

Other Updates
As mentioned I am finally publishing The Jesus Monster for sale as part of Short Stories Volume III. I will also include the first chapters of Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate, and Too Bright the Sun, for free for those that want to try them. The Jesus Monster will be slightly edited from the original – first published live on Twitter as I wrote, in April 2011 (I think). I will be incorporating some changes based on feedback from readers. Pubishing live on Twitter as you write is fun, but it does tend to make the story more linear than one would like.

Elsewhere
The MotoGp season is here at last! I can’t wait for the race tomorrow. I have been watching every practice. I really hope that Valentino Rossi can deliver; win at least one race. It would be such a shame for a career such as his to be curtailed by the sad death of his friend Simoncelli, which I am sure must have affected him. Besides, there is still the all-time record of wins by Agostini to chase. His is probably past his best now, but only Rossi has a chance of doing this.

Cyborg II
I also saw Cyborg II on TV. Not a great film although better than I expected for a cheap sequel. As I did expect, Jack Palance completely stole the picture. And you could only see his mouth! In negative! That’s real acting for you. Angelina Jolie was okay and looked very young. Still had amazing lips. She also looked suprisingly alluring – before her enhancement. Makes you wonder why she did it …