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Showing posts from 2014

Taking a Break

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I'm going through a period of reorganisation right now, a kind of reorganisation of my life. There's a lot of stuff going on of a very personal nature, so I'm taking a break from writing the X-Troop series until January next year.

I hope you don't mind. But of course you don't, you're a patient reader.

You are, aren't you?

No? Well, give it a go.

As well as normal life, other projects have been vying for my attention (and they have been so hard to resist). In the middle of that, I have made contact with my Spanish relatives for the first time since I was a baby. I have never known them and, as you can imagine, this is a pretty big deal. I shall be flying to Spain soon for an emotional reunion. It will be my first journey there as an adult.

So yeah, big stuff going on.

So wish me well, and I'll pick up this blog again in January as I resume my normal duties. Alex Harvey and the boys (and Dolores) remain on task. Unlike me, they don't hang about, so …

Bunker 51

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The next book is out, and the badness just got badder! And I don't mean the book is bad, no. I mean... ah hell, you know what I mean.

You do, don't you?

Look, it's the situation the characters are in that's bad, not the book, alright? Sheesh.

So what can fans of the series expect? Well, tons of action. In fact, I think the action quotient for this book is the highest in the series so far. That's a lot of cap-banging, alien-slotting (oh yes - and no, that's not what you think it is), knife slashing and knuckle bashing. The alien plot to take over the world is in full flow, and X-Troop are fighting hard to save the day. But it's not all violence and uncouth behaviour (though most of it is). Alex gets to meet a living icon (of sorts), Dolores finds she has an admirer and Sergei displays his maternal instincts.

Bunker 51 is a top secret facility deep in the Nevada Desert and X-Troop is approached by the US government to check it out, as they appear to have los…

Not Dead Yet

Haven't posted for a while and the reason is that I'm such a lazy arse that I couldn't be bothered.

But that's a terrible reason and you don't want to hear that, do you? No, no, no, the real reason is that I've been too busy to post. Yes, that's it.

Damn, I almost convinced myself then. Okay, it's a bit of both (an easier sell, surely?). So what have I been up to? Well, I've been working on some completely new covers for the entire series and just finished the third one yesterday. I'll slap them onto the old books when I release book four in the series. For which I don't have a cover yet - but it does have a title. It'll be called Bunker 51, and you can play around with all the possible reasons why, but I'm not giving away any of the plot yet. So feel free to guess. It's looking on target for a summer release, and I've also been working on the plot for the fifth in the series, for continuity reasons. All I'll say is that…

Charlie Don't Tweet

Heinlein took a progressive step in his novel Starship Troopers. He gave women an equal role, as he saw it, in warfare, with women as the starship pilots and men as the troopers. Which was a bold portrayal at a time when women were present on the battlefield only as nurses.

Or maybe it wasn't, for according to Ty Franck, one half of the sci-fi writing duo James S.A. Corey, Heinlein was being sexist. His failure to portray women as combat soldiers, on the ground and at the sharp end, was tantamount to claiming that women can't do the job as well as men.

In the whole gender debate, there have been a few discussions about women in combat roles. One line of reasoning is that no job anywhere should be allowed to bar women. Period. The other is that upper body strength is no longer necessary in the modern age, for even child soldiers can handle automatic weapons, so there is nothing to prevent women from excelling as infantrypersons. After all, some already fly jets and helicopter …

A Hobbit Too Far

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Watched the Desolation of Smaug yesterday on DVD. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm getting sick to death of bloody elves.

My first recollection of Tolkein's The Hobbit was of having it read to us in primary school, by Mr Campbell as we all sat on the square of carpet in his classroom. I was probably eight or nine at the time. It was the only story I remember being read to us, and I was quite enchanted by the adventures of Bilbo and the dwarves as they battled spiders in the dark forest of Mirkwood.

I didn't read The Lord of the Rings until I was about eighteen, and I enjoyed that too. When I later played the RPG version of Middle Earth with some friends, I acted as gamesmaster and, as I couldn't afford the commercial supplements that contained the game missions, I created my own, using the original book as my guide. It would be no exaggeration to say that I studied The Lord of the Rings, cover to cover, appendixes included. Not out of undying fan devotion, bu…

Aliens Built The Pyramids?

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I promised last week that I'd discuss the Mayan connections in my last novel, The Tollon Codex, so I'll show you now some of the things that influenced the fiction, though it's worth remembering that some of the influences are fiction themselves.

Are you familiar with the Ancient Astronaut theory? This is the belief that aliens landed on Earth many years ago and taught us civilization, because we humans were too thick to work it out ourselves. You see that played out at the beginning of Kubrick's movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, co-written by Arthur C Clarke, when the dumb ape is influenced by The Obelisk to pick up a bone and use it as a tool for the first time. From there it was a short step to the pyramids and smart phones, it seems. Erich von Däniken popularised the idea further with his book Chariots of the Gods, giving us explanations for why the Egyptians and the Aztec/Maya built similar looking pyramids, even though the civilizations never met. Mr Däniken, by the…

The Tollon Codex

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It's out! The third exciting installment in the X-Troop saga, and it's just wall-to-wall action as Alex Harvey and the boys go hunting for aliens in Guatemala, picking up some Mayan legends on the way. And did I say Alex and the boys? Because there's a girl in this one as X-Troop gets its first female recruit.

How much should I give away? I don't want to ruin it for you by blabbing out the spoilers, but I just gotta, gotta, gotta say something.

And yes, I am excited.

Okay, I can mention a couple of things. You know the ancient astronaut theory, where aliens were supposed to have visited us in the distant past and showed us how to make the pyramids and all? That makes an appearance in the book, which isn't giving too much away as it's implied by the cover, but there's also more. Have you heard of King Pakal's sarcophagus? Or the tree of life? How about Tohil, the obligation of blood and the Tzitzimime? Or the history of Guatemala itself? Okay, I didn…

Sherlock's Veiled Victorianism

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I watched an episode of Sherlock the other night - not a crusty old version, but the BBC's new souped up version, complete with drug dens, media barons (boo, hiss), parliamentary inquiries (Leveson, anyone?) and Watson suffering from PTSD from his time as a medic in Afghanistan.

And, of course, strong, modern women. Because these aren't the dark ages you know, with women stuck in the kitchen or fanning themselves in the drawing room as they recount their story to Mr Holmes. These are women who assert themselves, who take control of their lives and who consider themselves the equal of men. It's the 21st Century, you see, and the writers are keen to let us know it.

But let us deduce a few facts from the evidence, for all is not as it seems.

Sherlock is slapped repeatedly by a female doctor in full view of everyone at a hospital because he was supposed to be in a relationship with her and he lied to her about... something. What a cad.

Sherlock has his name smeared in the tab…

Zombies, Jews and the End of the World.

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I watched the movie World War Z the other night. It was more interesting than I thought it would be. I mean, I'd read the novel it was based on, and that was okay - a clever attempt to do something different with the genre. The book was more a collection of short stories, with each one adding something to the underlying narrative, but as a plot device it was a bit lumpy. A lot of stopping and starting. I read about half of it, stopped at the end of one of the stories, then never got round to picking it up again. There was nothing really to make me want to keep reading - it didn't follow one character, and the underlying narrative of how the zombie virus spread didn't interest me overly much. Had I been really into zombies, then maybe I'd have been fascinated enough to carry on, but the whole undead thing doesn't really grab me, as I know it's a pure fantasy that has less chance of happening than an alien invasion. Or, say, a world takeover by the UN. So to me …

American Warrior - A Review

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I got a Kindle for Christmas, which is quite a technological advance for me - I don't even have a smart phone.
I'm quite pleased with it. It's neat, light and works really well. The whole WI-FI thing, whereby I purchase an ebook from Amazon on my computer, and it downloads it direct to the Kindle, bypassing the computer completely, amazes me.
But I'm easily pleased.
Anyway, I love being able to carry a bunch of books with me wherever I go now, like, say, to a hospital waiting room. Or on a Christmas visit to the in-laws (I'm not the most sociable of people). But what I really like is having portable access to a massive range of self-published, Indie e-books. And there was one book in particular that I had my eye on, and which I was determined to make the first book I read on the Kindle. In fact, it was what swayed me into getting a Kindle in the first place.
I first saw it a month or so ago as a tiny ad on Kboards. It had one of the worst covers I had ever seen o…