Tag: Escher’s Staircase

Can you find your way out of Escher’s Staircase?

This week: my new book, Lotus, a rant about Formula 1 and Who Killed JFK?

As promised, the title announces a new book, to be published in the next 2 weeks. If you receive the free newsletter, you will know what that book is.

My new book, Lotus
We have all seen the impossible staircase of M.C Escher; you know, the one where you go round and round but never go up or down? Escher’s Staircase was the working title of my new book. Here is my first stab at the blurb:

“Robert Lath dies in the trenches of World War One. But he wakes to find himself on a never-ending flight of stone steps. No matter how hard he tries, he cannot reach the top or bottom. Then a face appears and offers him a choice; a choice that might damn his soul.

A friar, helping a time-traveling werewolf, a merchant spaceman, a painter, a monk, a private detective and a Medieval knight all battle against illness, seemingly the result of a game with Satan, and human frailty to find salvation but are they all the same man?

A soul is trapped and gradually dissected in this intriguing and labyrinthine story of trust, betrayal, disease, death and immortality.”

The title will now be ‘Lotus,’ which I think is a far more appropriate, if slightly enigmatic, title for the book. The lotus, in most cultures, is the symbol for reincarnation and different colours have different meanings. I haven’t decided yet, but I am rather drawn to the red lotus, which is the symbol for passion. I also have no cover yet but that will designed in the next week. There will be more of a fanfare, once I am sure of the publication date but spread the word.

If you have a suggestion for the cover design, leave it here. If I use it, you will get a credit in the book, a free paperback and eBook of Lotus and any other free eBook of mine. Don’t be shy, give me your ideas!

Who killed JFK?
Some of you may remember my predictions for the next 30 years. Here they are:

  1. A real Short Stirling wreck will be recovered and restored to museum standard (I don’t think a real one will fly again)
  2. Fusion power will work but will not significantly affect energy prices yet
  3. Alexander the Great’s tomb will be found
  4. Whoever ordered John F Kennedy’s assassination will not be revealed and proven.
  5. NASA will not have sent a manned-mission to Mars yet

Well, I now feel strongly that I know who killed JFK and it wasn’t an assassin! If you haven’t watched the Channel 5 documentary: JFK’s Secret Killer: The Evidence, I suggest you watch it. I am not a fan of Channel 5’s dreg-like schedule but this programme was the exception; well researched, well presented and based on hard evidence.

Having watched countless documentaries on the subject, and firmly believing it involved a conspiracy, I wasn’t easily swayed but the amount of evidence and the logic that led to the programme’s conclusion really persuaded me. What is more, it has the ring of truth about it; the real cause is more disturbing that a conspiracy.

It turns out that the FBI agents in the car behind had been on a binge until 5 am that day (ample eye-witness accounts) and the only man sober enough to operate the single automatic weapon, hidden on the floor of the vehicle, was an agent who only usually functioned as a driver.

When he heard gunfire, he picked up the weapon (a photograph taken by an amateur shows this) and swung it to face the Library. The weapon’s safety-catch had been on but otherwise, the weapon was ready to fire. Releasing the catch, he accidentally pulled off a round before the barrel reached the library. Who’s head was directly in line? Kennedy’s.

It sounds bizarre but the evidence is overwhelming:

1. During the autopsy, at least 13 rolls of film taken in the room, showing clearly the massive head wound, were confiscated and never seen again
2. The huge hole in Kennedy’s skull (right side) could not have been caused by a single non-explosive round, which was what Oswald used
3. The tiny entry hole was on the left side of backbone, in the neck and not the right (as was first falsely reported)
4. The entry hole was too small for the size of round Oswald used. It was 6mm
5. The entry hole was large enough for the .22 calibre explosive round that the automatic rifle was loaded with
6. When the doctor carrying out the autopsy wanted to enter a verdict of death by explosive round, he was told ‘Not to pursue the matter further’ (my paraphrasing)
7. Kennedy’s brain was ordered to be removed by some shady FBI agent and was never seen again.
8. The agent who is said to have fired the gun was never questioned in the inquest, despite giving a false statement, in which he said he did not stand up in the car until it passed under the bridge (the photograph clearly shows him standing before the car reached the bridge)
9. Many eye-witnesses at ground level reported smelling gunpowder, something they could not have done had the shot been fired from high up in the Library

Sorry I can’t remember all the details but watch the programme and see for yourself. How bizarre that a freak accident should have ended Kennedy’s life.

Formula 1 Brazil and MotoGP

I wasn’t going go mention this but I am in the mood for a rant. I may not watch another Formula 1 race again until they make drastic changes. I watched this race and, quite honestly, I reckon 50% of the coverage was of pit stops! I don’t want to watch pit stops, I want to watch action on the track. When a sport comes to this point, there is something seriously wrong. You may not be a fan of pugilism but if you were, would you watch a boxing match where 50% of the coverage was of time outs; the bit where the guy spits out his mouth-guard and gets wiped down? Watch MotoGP instead. It still has photo-finishes and, if you are quick, you might still catch Valentino Rossi before he retires. He may prove to be the greatest Grand Prix motorcycle rider of all time.

Blog: How to Model a Life


This week’s subject is modelling but I simply couldn’t find a well-known movie with the word ‘Model’ in the title. Hence the break in tradition for the blog’s title.

Sneak Preview
This week it is from a section called Monk in Escher’s Staircase. This is the penultimate chapter of the book so I am not far from completing the first draft.

Escher’s Staircase
Copyright © 2013 by Lazlo Ferran
All Rights Reserved

At the eleventh hour of the day, my duties in the dairy being completed for the morning, I was, as usual, in contemplation. Kneeling in the third pew back of the main Abbey Chapel, I watched the glossed back of the black ant. Reflecting the pillar of holy light shafting through the stained-glass window, the tiny ant’s carapace dipped up and down as it negotiated the uneven surface of the bible rail. This was my favourite time of day.
But this day in particular, something was different. Deep inside me, in the nebulous area where dreams of the night before are placated by the ambitions of the day ahead, something surprising was lurking. Malignant, and hard, like a vinegar-boiled conker, it just wouldn’t be shifted. Not a memory, or an idea, however it was more like a memory. This was the more surprising since my memory had never been good. Indeed I could barely remember my childhood and relied on others for details.
With all the teaching that the ancients, such as Aristotle, and our more modern thinkers like Bernard of Clairveaux had imparted to me, you would think I could rid myself of unwanted thoughts. But they traipsed through my mind like miscreants on the average village street.
Suddenly the full horror of the thought expanded in my mind into an image I could not contemplate or articulate. I shuddered, closed my eyes and prayed for all I was worth. Slowly, so very slowly, the thought subsided and shrank back into the depths of my soul.

How to Model a Life
I had a strange dream last night wherein I was in a toy-shop which had just about everything I ever wanted as a little boy: every train set and accessory you could imagine; Scalextric sets off all kinds and every plastic aircraft model kit that was ever made. I could have anything I wanted! Of course it was like being in Heaven. Of course they are all models.
When we are children it’s very natural for us to model things; girls model using dolls and dolls houses, boys model using toy trains, cars and planes and even kittens model using balls of string. Modelling is how we eventually build an image of the Universe that will allow us to exist and either thrive or fail within it. We each of us hope we have the correct model but it is subject to change.
Gurdjieff said that many of us lose the ability or will to remodel as we get older – usually around the age of 30. I think this is the norm but many of us continue to try and re-model even in very old age.
For me writing allows me to do this continually. Each character, every location I attempt to describe, I do so using the utmost of ability to replicate what I see in the real world. And each relationships is just as I perceive it.
Writing is the best form of modelling ever! It’s the most fun too! You get to create worlds, societies, people, even vehicles if you so desire. You can recreate moments in history or invent moments in the future. I recommend it to anybody who loves modelling. Another answer to the old question “Where does your inspiration come from?” is probably the fun of modelling.

Another is invention. When writing science fiction this is a particularly necessary skill. Inventing something is not simply a case of thinking of something and mentioning it; it has to feel real.
In the case of nano-generators in my Iron Series, I wanted something about the size of a microwave oven that can reproduce anything small enough to fit inside.
I had read about the theoretical possibility of nano-generators some years ago so I already had the facts at my disposal: nano-bots which take organic or non organic material (and in the case of my generators; plasma cubes) and copy any real object either by scanning it or working to a 3-d plan. Scientists are expecting that these generators will be the size of microwave ovens within the next 100-200 years. That part is simple enough.
Next I wanted a term for them that would immediately show how they had been absorbed into culture as every-day objects. In the real world, we tend to anthropomophise everything around us so we make cars that have fronts resembling faces and we also make technical names sound more friendly. Refrigerators have become fridges and vacuum-cleaners Hoovers. It does not always involve a simultaneous shortening of the name but usually does. Hence my nano-generators first became Trion Nano-generator Mark Is and then simply n-gens. Who is really going to care what model they are if they work properly.
Finally you simply invest the object with quirks – such as the plasma tabs left over in Jake’s flute and also have your humans use them for unconventional purposes and then they will seem real.

Edge-manship in Writing
I wrote my first article a few weeks ago the creative part of the writing process. My second article – in the form of a video blog, was about Serendipity in the writing process. Another aspect is Edge-manship. Perhaps a better term might be ‘being out there’ or ‘being on the edge’.
There are times when one cannot seem to find the words. You are nervous about putting pen to paper or finger to key in case you write something mediocre. These are moments when you simply have to ‘jump’. By that I mean that you have to put yourself on the edge, out into the unknown where you have no sentence in mind, no image or scene. You simply put finger to key in good faith that the right word will come. I have found that if you have faith enough and a good creative urge in general, something surprising will happen. Words will come and they will often take you in unexpected directions. Sometimes they will actually represent some thought or feeling much deeper than you would normally have managed to express. An example would be the snake dream in The Painter section of Esche’r Staircase. I was out of ideas at the time and beginning to think I should take a short break from writing. I had this image in my mind of a snake in an oasis and it seemed completely irrelevant to the story so I ignored it. But nothing would come for several hours when I tried to write. In frustration I just started writing a sentence and the word ‘snake’ ended up in the sentence and then I was off. At first I felt slightly uncomfortable with the idea because it seemed like a complete break with the previous story line but the more I thought about it, the more I realised it added another dimension to the story. So simply taking a deep breath and leaping into the abyss in good faith can work.

Other News
I hardly need to mention it again do I? Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate will be free from 30 August-3 September on Amazon so tell everyone, their dogs, their friends and their dog’s best friends!
The new cover for The Devil’s Own Dice is now available on the paperback. I anticipate Attack Hitler’s Bunker! will be available in the next month; it is long overdue and I apologize for the delay but it has to be right before I let it go.

Further to my thoughts on a private company policing nations rather than the UN, what if all nations sign a treaty to allow only this private company to have nuclear weapons. This would only be an extension to such as the SALT treaty and would seem to me to solve two problems: how to present the greatest danger to threatening dictators and how to maintain a nuclear arsenal (which can hardly be forgotten) without individual nations getting their hands on them.

Blog: The Fast and the Furious

This Week’s Excerpt
This week it comes from the upcoming publication which is currently going under the name Escher’s Staircase. I am going off that title though; anyway its an erotic suspense novel with deep philosophical angles (I hope!). This part is from an unnamed section but lets call it The Detective. If you read the novel you will know where it fits in.

Escher’s Staircase
Copyright © 2013 by Lazlo Ferran
All Rights Reserved.

The red 1971 Pontiac LeMans Convertible streaked along the highway at full speed. The muscular driver behind the wheel was wearing Ray Ban’s and his medium-length brown hair was ruffled violently by the air-stream over the windscreen. He seemed intent only on the road ahead. He held the accelerator flat to the floor with his foot. On the passenger seat was an elegant blonde. Her hair too was flowing out behind her head in the turbulent air. Her head was reclined and at rest on the top of the seat. She appeared to be asleep. The car raced on.
This case started – as I’d always dreamed the best one would, with a blonde walking into my office. Actually, she was better than the blondes I have dreamed of. Tall – statuesque even, with an hourglass figure a man could kill for, she somehow had the face of a top call girl but the eyes of childhood innocence. She looked like my first, my last love, and I was hooked.
I had to take another drag on my cigarette before I could talk:
“Yes? Can I help you?”
“I hope so. I need you to find a killer.”
“My sister’s.”
I stubbed my cigarette butt out and blew a long stream of white smoke towards the window. “Okay, so why aren’t the LAPD interested?”
“They gave up, Mr Andrews.” My name slid off her tongue like an oyster but I wanted to hear her to use my first name.
“Right. You have funds?”
“I have what it takes.”
“Yeah. Let’s just start with the basics.” I took out a creased pro-forma and filled it in as she supplied the answers. When I had finished, she had lit an expensive cigarette. It floated between her fingers as if she were trying to stop it drifting away. “That’ll be one grand for the first month, including expense, payable half in advance and half on completion. You will receive a full, written report at the end of the month and a free one hour consultation as part of a revue. If you wish to continue, the rate will probably be similar. Does this sound okay?”
“Okay. Sign and print your name here and then if you would like to pay the deposit, I have a few questions.” She signed using her own pink pen from her handbag. She was wearing a blue three piece with a very short, tight skirt and a matching hat. Whoever’s woman she was had to be paying for this investigation. I put her at twenty-two.
“I’ve no doubt … Miss Stevens …” I began, reading her name from the form. “…I can find out a good deal from the Court Records but suppose you tell me what I won’t find there?”
“Alright. My sister… older sister by two years, was murdered … shot near the corner of Sunset and Vine late one night while leaving a restaurant and walking to a car. The car belonged to Johnny Chico. Here’s her photo.” She pulled a folded, glossy 10×8 from her handbag, opened it up and lay it in front of me.
“She looks just like you; could be your twin?” The blonde opposite nodded noncommittally.
“I’m going with him now. He likes young blondes.” She blew a plume of white smoke to emphasise her point. “I have reason to believe it’s Johnny’s ex who had my sister shot. Shavaun would not have done anything to deserve being shot. I believe it was to punish Johnny. I want you to find him.”
“I presume Johnny is paying for this.”
“Yes, but he tried to stop me. You see, I think his ex, Stella, wants to kill me now. She is only interested in money. If I don’t catch the killer – and her, it will be my head on her plate next.”

Other News
As I begin to think about starting work on my out-and-out Vampire novel this track has become my inspiration (Well it is from Romania!). It’s hauntingly beautiful so give it a listen:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUlD_uwu_P0 by Cleopatra Stratan. Enjoy! She’s on Facebook, search for Cleostratan (her profiles seem to change around a lot).
Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate will be free from 30 August-3 September on Amazon so tell everyone, their dogs, their friends and their dog’s best friends!

Other News
A review of an old classic this week: the film The Naked Jungle (1954). I watched this with the g/f and its pretty much the first film of my choice we have watched together.
It’s an old pot-boiler with Charlton Heston, Eleanor Parker and William Conrad (who went on to play Cannon, the detective. Really it is mostly Heston and Parker thrashing out a bizarre bride-by-post situation on a plantation in deepest South America around the turn of the century. In fact Conrad plays the guy who stood in for Parker’s character at the marriage-by-proxy ceremony and he does his best to defend her against an nihilistic and increasingly agitated Christopher (Heston). Parker is brilliant as the gorgeous and forceful Joanna who has walked into the marriage with both eyes open and is determined to make a success of it. Moreover she actually falls for Christopher who is stubborn, ambitious, innocent of women but above all, lonely. He himself says he only knows how to be first and he soon finds out that as far as men go, he is not Joanna’s first. Heston hams it up brilliantly and ad-libs a scene where he throws perfume over her before demanding she leaves on the next boat. The scene is brilliantly echoed by the director when the gooseberry – a swarm of lethal Soldier Ants come to town: Christopher throws a glass bottle containing one of the ants against a painting of his own plantation hitting it squarely in the building – his palace.
The ants swarmed every 25 years (this actually has some truth to it though I believe it is not expected to happen again) and threaten to destroy Christopher’s empire. The ants throw the couple together in a struggle to survive and save the plantation.
Heston does overact a bit towards the end and the climax is rather truncated but the film comes in at a tight 95 minutes so even my girlfriend didn’t get bored! Its early Heston at his best and does Parker proud. The direction and editing is pretty good too. An early example of disaster movies and a very good one. Watch it!