Category: Rankle-biter


I’m sorry to say that I’ll be ditching Wattpad.  Why?

Because I want to be a writer, and that place isn’t helping.

For those of you who don’t know, Wattpad is a social networking site designed for writers to upload their stories, share them, and get other people’s feedback.  It’s kind of a living workshop, and there are also forums to chat about writing, books and other topics.

I suppose the problem with an “upload-it-yourself” site is that you get a lot of junk.  And Wattpad is FULL of junk.  How come everyone else isn’t sick of One Direction fanfics and terrible, unfinished teen romance novels?  Do the writers of this dross read each other’s dross, or does everyone think theirs is better than the last fifty people’s?

I suppose the natural response would be “Well, it sounds like YOU’RE guilty of thinking YOU’RE better.”  Honestly?  I’m not the best writer on Wattpad.  But I strive for originality and creativity, and there’s so little of those things on Wattpad.

I’ve found some genuine talent on there, and I’m confident that there’s a lot more out there I haven’t seen yet.  If you’re a member, take a look at my profile and the writers I’ve “followed” for some great work.  But unfortunately writers like those are few and far between.

Sadly for me, I’m not learning, and I’m not writing the kind of stuff that people on Wattpad seem to want to read.  If I fall in love with a boyband member and want to describe my first intimate experience with him, I’ll let them all know.

Until then I may transfer some of the free stories on there back to this blog and hope for the best.

Good luck to all the Wattpad writers out there hoping to be “discovered”.  Keep it different, keep it tight.

Love,

–db

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So ages ago the Earth was formed, and it wobbled on an axis like a skewered apple as it caromed around the Sun at about 450 miles per second.  Sometimes it is tilted towards the Sun’s roasting, UV-rich cocktail of radiation; sometimes it’s tilted away from it.  Inbetween there’s a moment, twice a year, when it’s bang upright.  This is the equinox.

Some time after the formation of our happy little planet the moon was created, maybe captured by Earth’s gravity as it flew past through space, maybe we got hit by something and all the debris spun off and formed that big ball of rock we see in the sky every now and again.  Anyway, the moon exists (hooray) and it goes around and around us, around and around, and sometimes our shadow blocks the light from the Sun so that it looks like a huge bite has been taken out of it.  Sometimes it’s at just the right angle to be fully illuminated.  This is, as everybody knows, a full moon.

The moon takes around 29 days to do a full cycle, from full to the barest sliver and back again.  We call this a month, roughly speaking, and for convenience we divide this into four weeks, and those into seven days, ending in Sunday.

The Earth on its eternal wobble hits its first Equinox in the Spring and the moon swings round goes from waxing to full and the week goes on until it gets to Sunday and for some insane reason we call this Easter.

————————————————————————————————————–

If you didn’t know the original of the Easter holiday, let me enlighten you.  Easter Sunday about 2,000 years ago was the day that all rabbits were venerated as the hoarders and gracious distributors of all the world’s chocolate.  This had come about during prehistoric times as part of a covenant between the giant Cretaceous Hares and the lizard-men who were the descendants of dinosaurs and the precursor to mankind as we know it today.  No-one likes to break tradition so we let the rabbits keep the chocolate and we bribe them annually with good cheer in exchange for some of the ‘brown silk’.

Centuries later, Renaissance man discovered that keeping domestic chickens had its advantages.  By feeding chickens certain types of corn and grain, they could manipulate the egg-development cycle to produce a new palette of flavours.  Excited, they naturally tried every type of feed under the Sun and then various other substances.

Around this time, the conquest of South American was reaping its rewards for English explorers.  One of these explorers was Thomas Cadbury, who had returned with chocolate bartered from the Mayans in exchange for sexual favours.  For decades this was the preferred method of obtaining chocolate, and even now some women find a sexual pleasure in consuming cocoa products (try it, it works).

Of course, you’re putting two and two together yourselves.  The raw cocoa product was fed to the chickens, and in 1701 the first chocolate egg was produced.

Over time, the process was refined by chocolatiers in France, and in later centuries, by scientists in America.  Certain foodtypes could only ever produce tiny, regular-sized eggs.  Caramel and white goop, for instance, may only be fed to chickens in small quantities, because caramel is toxic to poultry in certain concentrations.  The white goop they just don’t like very much.

But chocolate in isolation, it was discovered, could be used like magic to produce giant eggs, provided the chicken was big enough.  The first large chocolate egg (normally referred to as “a £10-er”) was made to great cheer in 1924, probably before you were born, so don’t bother looking it up.  This was in the days before genetic modification, and so the only way to make a giant chicken was to cross-breed it with a hippopotamus or elephant.  Right up until 1990, chickopotami were the preferred methods to obtain giant chocolate eggs.

Finding these solid eggs to dense to properly consume, the feed was soon altered to generate hollow eggs, which allowed for a certain commercial benefit.  They could be filled with all kinds of treats, like cigarettes or semolina.

The conveyor-belt approach to the new Easter was deplored by the rabbits.  Early peace talks broke down rapidly, any remaining good will dissolving into the first World War Wabbit in 1927.  Further treaties were reversed in 1945 after splinter cells, mainly hares, tried once again to destroy the egg factories in Minnesota, and the Californian chickolotami farms.   American troops reluctantly introduced the Myxoma virus to wild rabbit populations in Spring 1946, settling the matter.

Today, the Easter holiday generates over 130 billion pounds for the economy, mainly through chocolate eggs.  Domesticated (or subjugated) rabbits are still revered in the Easter Parade in London, and other capital cities around the world, where members of Parliament dress in rabbit costumes and hop to Buckingham Palace.

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Someone told be a less believable story about some dude who was strung up and died and then woke up again in a cave and moved this massive rock by himself and was like a god or something … but I reckon they’re full of shit.

–db

 

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UPDATE 14/03/2011:  Fairly standard response received, rather boring. 

I did get a particularly angry-sounding voicemail from a lady perportedly from Teejay Yoos, asking that I call her back.  I presume she is a manager from the Sheffield branch – but unfortunately management training didn’t extend to that point about leaving a phone number on your voicemail message, so I haven’t been able to give her said tinkle.  Rather disturbingly, she had unearthed my ex-directory home phone number from somewhere – Maybe TJs people have mafia contacts!?  I’m expecting to get whacked any day now.

Angry Lady From TJH, please give me another call as I’d love to have that discussion!

Written response:

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UPDATE 19/08/2011:  So the creditors of Teejay Yoos stand to lose something like £350 million now that the company has gone into administration

Am I surprised?  Not when they produce garments of such unconventional shapes and sizes (i.e. neck holes too small for even the average bonce) and staff their stores exclusively with mournful emo teenagers or steamrolling ladies of middle age and decidedly staunch approaches to customer service…

I SAW THIS COMING!  Although my testes did not forsee the acute agony caused by many of the undersized undercrackers that came in my ‘medium’ pack, so I am not sympathetic to Teejays.

Maybe I brought this about!?  Maybe my millions of viewers rallied against them?

Or maybe Hutson Harbour should make a shirt that doesn’t shrivel to a worn-through cardboard-looking shitrag and charge a tenner for it? 

— db

I am typing this with glitter-coated hands.

This as a result of wrapping birthday presents for a loved one.  It’s messy business.

I look like the catalogue model for Robert Pattinson’s new range of teen fingerwear.

The baffling thing is, the wrapping paper isn’t even glittery.  Nor are the ribbon, the bows, the tags or the gifts.

Why does this always happen when I wrap presents?  Christmas, bithdays, that February holiday – whatever.  Always the same.

Glittery hands.  Glitter in my clothes.  In my eyebrows.  Around my nose and mouth, as though I’ve developed a crystalline crack habit.

Maybe it’s just all the Clintons faff.  I only have to walk into one of those shops and I’m coated head to toe in sparkles.  There are really enthusiastic Elvis impersonators with less glitz than me, and I only went in to see if they sold those gift bags for booze.

It’s as though it hangs in the air, in those places.  It’s just floating there and I walk through it, oblivious that I’m about to emerge looking like a young Elton John.

Enough – I wash my hands of this stuff.

–db

A pigeon hit me in the face today.

I don’t mean with a bit of greenish-white poop from twenty feet.  I don’t mean a pigeon that is anything than the actual feathered avian kind.

I mean an actual pigeon flew directly into my face today as though shot from a cannon.

 

You think, ‘Fuck, I didn’t think that ever happened.’

You think, ‘Or is that bats?’

You are embarassed at the sheer blinding-white shit-your-pants-sudden pain that this small fluffy thing inflicted upon you.

You can’t quite believe it happened.

That’s what you think when a pigeon just flies up and, apparently not seeing you, apparently not having the good sense to watch where it’s fucking flying, or the decency to throw a polite ‘coooo’ your way before striking you, with all its velocity-amplified weight, on your left temple.

The sagacity of the thing.  Dirty little sky-rat.

 

 

I was actually dazed.  Have you ever been hit in the face by a football?  You know that all-your-face-at-once sudden crush and WHAP of being hit in the face by a football?

Exactly like that.

I got hit in the face by a cricket ball once.  It wasn’t nice.  It hurt a lot.

I’ve also been swimming with goggles and did that thing where you think the bottom of the tiled pool is a bit further away than it actually is.  That deep impression of hard rubber goggles around your eyes and the bridge of our bloody nose.

One time in the playground were we kicking a can of Coke around.  I think the idea was to distress the fizzy soda so badly that when we finally open the can, it would explode.  We kicked it around idly whilst taking, probably, about the merits of Final Fantasy VIII on the PS1.  Unbeknownst to me, my friend Lloyd, at least I think it was Lloyd, had hurled it up into the air with considerable strength.  My other friend Robert, at least I think it was Robert, stopped talking and look at me with slightly widened eyes.

‘Watch out,’ he said.

I didn’t know what he was on about.  So I didn’t watch anything.

I don’t think I’ve ever had real concussion, but I bloody well know what it feels like to be hit in the head by a pigeon.

It bent my glasses completely out of shape.

That or it bent my face completely out of shape.

Glasses are pretty robust nowadays.

–db

Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family.
Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars,
compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good
health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed
interest mortage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your
friends. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a
three-piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics.
Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning.
Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing
game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose
rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable
home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up
brats you spawned to replace yourself. 

Choose your future.

Choose life.

 

Is this a blog or an essay-station?  It’s a blog, so maybe I should blog.

*          *          *

If a city changes and your perception of the city changes with it, has the city really changed at all? 

*          *          *

Sheffield is a different town lately.  There’s an increased bustle around the marketplace, new stalls popping up all the time.  Food.  Culture.  This morning, the last day of September, is the strangest yet.  A market for electronic goods.  There are fridges and washing machines in the street, right now, under green and white awnings.

*          *          *

The big wheel that can be seen from my office window, looming over the surrounding buildings like the Eye of fucking Sauron, is to be dismantled some time in October.  The monstrous thing, so long a fixture of the city centre, will leave a big empty space where it once stood.  On a sunny day, the rotating spokes cast their moving shadows over all the buildings across the street from my window.  I often sit on a bench under the wheel in the morning, if I have time to snatch a few more pages of a book before work.  It’s almost like a giant creaking shield; we may well feel vulnerable in its absence.

*          *          *

The main shopping thoroughfare is routinely packed with charity workers.  They’ve all obviously been taught to apply new techniques to their particular brand of begging.  It’s as though the same workshop leader has been all around the different charities and said the same thing: ‘Say something funny to get their attention.  Flatter them and they’re more likely to talk to you.’

I found it strange the first time I fell victim to this new species of hyenaism.  The guy hopped in front of me, like they usually do, looking like chirpy little gnomes, and said, ‘Rugby player, right?’

I thought, ‘What?  Why would he think that?  I don’t look like a rugby player.  I look like I spend all my time reading and not doing sports.  What’s he getting at?’

Gnome

I’m usually busy when I’m in the thoroughfare.  Whenever I’m walking, assume that I’m going from A to B.  The only reasons for me to do this are, firstly, I don’t want to be at Place A and intend to get as far away as possible, as quickly as possible.  The other reason is that I want to get to Place B, and therefore have something to do. 

Why charity workers think this is the best time to harass someone is beyond me.

I said to the gnome, ‘I’m busy,’ and walked on. 

I caught on properly when I saw the same worker the next day (It was the food market.  I ate an ostrich burger).  He pounced on somebody else and said the same thing, ‘Rugby player, right?’

Another girl, for the NSPCC: “Well-dressed man.  Hello.’

‘I’m busy.’

A guy for OXFAM: ‘Tell me the truth, do you like my beard?’

‘It’s great.’

The latest, for St John’s Ambulance: “OHMYGOD!  No!  Brad Pitt, really!?”

Brad Pitt.

She missed the mark, I think.  Going for “flattery” and throttling “insulting” instead.  My own floppy-haired, pointy-nosed, girly-mouthed phizzog in no way resembles Mr Pitt’s.  In fact, it’s so far from Mr Pitt’s that the comment merely draws attention to just how not-Pitt I am.

*          *          *

Evangeline, the soul-singing Bible-basher who regularly wanders the streets pouring out her heart at the top of her voice, has taken on a new look.

She sports a red and white jogging suit, a red felt beret and–

–and an electric guitar.

With an amp.

Motherfucker’s organised now!

*          *          *

Someone sent this fax to my office:

 Incoming fax

 It doesn’t say who it’s from, or why they want to contact us, or what their business is.

So I sent this reply, to which I have not received a response:

Outgoing fax

I get these little moods.  One time, I put tiny pin-pricks in the bottle of washing-up liquid by the kitchen sink.  The holes are too tiny to let the viscous fluid leak out when the bottle is left standing, but as soon as a hand exerts pressure …

A couple of months ago I drew a giant smiley face on the counter in salt.  It had Tetley tea-bags for eyes.

The other day I made the following wonderful work of art out of sheer boredom.  This happens regularly and nobody’s figured out that it’s me yet.

 Tumbler Tower

 I can’t take responsibility for this one, although I wish I could:

Percy Plant

 *          *          *

One woman in the office apparently has a home filled with contents so pristine and uniformly matching that it’s been dubbed ‘the white house’. 

It must feel like that first step into Narnia.  Blinding, wondrous, otherworldly.

The sight of a single leaf on her lawn is supremely distressing and the situation must be corrected immediately.  Woe betide the birds that keep dropping small twigs beside the tree in the garden – but there’s no way to get them to move on.  This is very upsetting.

*          *          *

Before I die, I want to understand why it’s not littering to drop your fag end in the street.

*         *         *

A therapist asked me once how I feel about the dark.  I said, ‘With my arms out, like this.’ 

He thought that was funny, which made me feel a little better about myself.

*          *          *

The cat with the white-tipped tail that walked so nonchalantly into my flat the other week has not returned.

But a ginger one chased Oscar all around the bushes last night, the little shit.

*         *         *

But if a city changes and your perception of the city changes with it, has the city really changed at all? 

If you are different but the city goes on as before, is this the same thing?

*         *         *

You are one of 6.8 billion people living on Earth.  You occupy one of 195 recognised countries, on six continental landmasses.

There is a lot of world to see.

If there are tides in the soul driving us to travel, then there need be a moon pulling on the tide; any innate need to see the world must be the result of a cause.

Ishmael’s opening chapter in “Moby Dick” struck a chord in me years ago, and continues to do so to this day:

“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off — then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.”

–db

People who play video games love Yahtzee Croshaw, the sardonic bringer of wit and shit of ‘Zero Punctuation’ fame.  If you don’t know his style, you can visit him here:

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/zero-punctuation

And the Facebook group with to-the-minute updates here:

http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Zero-Punctuation/7546255825?ref=ts

Yahtzee released a novel this month, “Mogworld”.  I was all prepared to do an amusing Flash video review utterly slagging it off, but as it happens I wasn’t up to the challenge (or rather, my mic turned out to be rubbish), and so I’ve given up and posted the script as a review on Amazon instead.  It’s here in all its not-very-funny glory–

— It’s in the delivery, mostly.

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Ben ‘Yahtzee’ Croshaw is best known for his scathing Zero Punctuation video reviews of computer games, routinely ripping out their innards and squeezing little poo-nuggets of ironic humour all over them, although apparently he’s done other things including actually writing for games, so he’s at least partly vindicated for slagging them off so thoroughly and then moving onto writing his first novel.

“Mogworld” is an easy slice of light fantasy, although it crosses genres regularly like a tram-hopping college-droppout.  You’d have to be a bit of an idiot not to realise that the GAME-REVIEWING Yahtzee writes a book about MAGES and NECROMANCERS and LEVEL 60 SPELLS and NOT realise that this is set inside a VIDEO GAME, so I shouldn’t be spoiling anything for you here.

The twist is that not all the character necessarily realise this.  It’s a sort of ‘edge of the world’ scenario without the benefit of the readers undergoing this revelation WITH the characters, leaving you disappointed that they were too stupid to figure it out sooner.  In fact it couldn’t have been more obvious if he’d stapled it to the side of a stegosaurus and paraded it through Hull on a market day.
The inclusion of pirates into this gameworld early on in the book seemed a bit strange, until they all started talking about becoming undead pirates and then it begins to come together.  It’s like Yahtzee is DELIBERATELY prancing along the fence of cliché, with the unoriginality goblin beckoning him in  and his proper writer/critic self occasionally shouting NO YOU IDIOT and hurling his mighty boot of common sense.

The characters might be flatter than Paper Mario’s credit card, but at least they’re proper characters with individual personalities instead of blandly merging into one another.  This would be great, but one major problem is that they’re all so ANNOYING, and the fact that the protagonist acknowledges they’re ANNOYING doesn’t make them any less ANNOYING.  The first half of the book is like sitting on a bus surrounded by  half a dozen people all with their iPods on too loud listening to boybands, Slipknot and ASWAD.  There’s the jaded main character who, like the best and worst of web-comics, is the only one who acknowledges how strange everything is while everyone else blithely slither through the linear plot; there’s the chirpy one who comes down to reality at the end; a fire-and-brimstone religious nut who never shuts up; a sneak-thief who constantly talks in the third person; a villain with his own silly dialogue-related idiosyncrasies; and a smack-talking wise-cracking mutated otter-weasel sidekick … Okay I made the last one up, no-one would create a character is THAT annoying.

In the interest of fairness they DO develop some depth as the story progresses and as a direct result of the events of the story, not just something insipid like ‘falling in love’ or just through a sequence of trials like the laziest storytelling.  The best characters come with the best gags about a third of the way in, being closer to real-life people than the zombie/mage/blah-de-blah hacks, but sadly only get a few lines here and there in amusing e-mail or instant messaging format which made me SAD because they were actually very GOOD.

The writing is hardly spectacular, but this isn’t a literary venture so it can be forgiven, and apart from the odd atrocious lines like ‘We descended into a sort of disused basement-sewer type chamber’ he manages to not to COMPLETELY mangle the almighty English language.  In fact there are a number of cracking sentences worthy of Douglas Adams (or at least an unworthy rip-off sequel), and it definitely has a more Hitchhiker’s feel going for it than a Terry Pratchett one, which is a good thing in this case because I prefer my humorous fiction WITHOUT the bland caricatures, but this brings us back to cliché and it’s a sticking point with me that with this kind of semi-parody is the laughs derive from the archetypes – Doctor Evil’s cat wouldn’t be nearly as funny if you hadn’t expected it to be fluffier than a fledgling barn owl.  But unoriginal is still unoriginal, even if it IS trying to be funny.

Maybe it’s out of his system now and he’ll go back to doing what he does best; you always know you’re in the wrong part of town when the bus shelter’s been kicked in and you’re standing in someone else’s orange vomit.

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If anyone shows any interest I’ll update with some screenshots of the nearly-finished video review, in the Zero Punctuation style.

Incidentally, the book is alright really – about 6.5/10 if you’re into his humour … and shit fiction about video games.

– db

Help the old farts understand what video games are really about

In 1986 science-fiction author Frank Herbert wrote the sixth and last novel in his award-winning “Dune” series before his untimely death.  I read “Dune” probably fifteen years ago in France, and soon finished its remarkable sequels.  The sixth, “Dune: Chapterhouse”, ends on a cliff-hanger of sorts.

For twenty years fans have wondered whether Herbert’s son, Brian, would continue the saga.  A few years ago, he did.

It is with this seventh book, “Hunters of Dune” that I sit in the kitchen where I work.  I’m on my lunch break, I have a whole hour to read, and I’ve just started it.  Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson wrote some pretty average prequels to the original series, which was full of adventure and politics, but this it the first true sequel.  It continues the story I’ve been reading about for over a decade, and admittedly it’s not bad.

Frank Herbert's "Dune"

The office gossip wanders into the kitchen.  She’s harmless but pretty nosy.  Straight away, she’s up to my book where I’ve left it on the table while I get a(nother) cup of tea.

‘What are you reading now, then?’

‘Science fiction’, I say, because it’s the easiest way to end the kind of conversation that the other person isn’t really interested in.

‘Oh,’ she says.  She has already turned away. ‘Oh, I see.’

And I want to scream.

‘”Dune” is the best sci-fi book ever written!’ I want to yell. ‘The writer was a genius!  There are writers out there who aren’t fit to check his ‘scripts for typos, let alone have their books on the same shelf as his!’

I feel this way about only very few writers.  Probably Isaac Asimov, if we’re going to stick with sci-fi for a moment.  Other names that come to mind are Clive Barker, China Mieville, Steph Swainston, Stanislaw Lem.  People whose level of talent you aspire towards, as a writer yourself, but never expect to achieve.

And it galls me when people dismiss a novel – or film, or television – because it is science-fiction.
People who “don’t like sci-fi or fantasy” are, you’ll find on most occasions, people who never read it.  They don’t really know what it is.

They might have dipped into it once – probably the popular Rowling/Meyer trash – and assumed it was indicative of the entire genre.  i.e., unchallenging, insipid, uninvolving.

They have never heard of cyberpunk, or Victoriana, or slipstream, or speculative fiction.  To them, all sci-fi is Star Trek and all fantasy is The Lord of the Rings.

I asked my mother once why she never read fantasy, back when she was a reader.

She said, “I couldn’t pronounce any of the names”.

Way to jump in at the deep end, Mum – Tolkien.  My mischievous big brother probably leant her ‘The Silmarillion’ as a joke.

And Tolkien was a great writer, but is probably the reason why my mother will never ‘get round’ to reading my own novel.

There is a stigma fixed to genre fiction and there doesn’t seem to be any way around it.  People don’t like to try genre fiction because of the notion they have of what it contains: dragons and goblins or, in the case of sci-fi, stiff-backed men in uniform discussing interplanetary politics on a ship’s bridge.

Star Trek has a lot to answer for.

In fact, it has probably damaged science-fiction irreparably.

Sing the song again.  You know you want to.  "Theeeeeere's Klingons on the starboard bow, starboard bow, starboard bow ..."

The 2009 film, which gave the franchise a much-needed reboot, went some way to convincing people that sci-fi isn’t all boring and preachy.  It can be just as exciting and guiltily-satisfying as any action film.  TV’s Futurama brought sci-fi to the living room again, but people don’t think this is ‘real’ sci-fi.  It’s something pretending to be sci-fi.

Sci-fi can’t be funny, like Red Dwarf.  It can’t be an adventure, like Star Wars.  It can’t be beautiful, like Solaris.  These aren’t ‘proper’ sci-fi at all.

But people don’t buy it.  They think these are exceptions to the rule.

The rule is that science-fiction must be rigid and preachy.  It must have, in some form, a federation of military types.  There must be spaceships and, ideally, robots.  One of the most irritating defining characteristics I hear of sci-fi is that it has aliens in it.  As though, without the greys, it’s not sci-fi at all, or else, not ‘proper’ sci-fi.

The same goes for literature.  People hear you’re a writer, it’s the most interesting thing they’ve ever heard.  They’re hear you’re a genre writer, they switch off.

That or it’s, ‘Oh, you’re going to write the next Harry Potter, then?’

Yes.  I’m going to write the next Harry Potter.

In fact, I’m writing it now.

“Harry Potter and the Death of Integrity”.

Yes, I read the books.  I have a right to slag them with my burning contempt.  I deeply, truly regret wasting all those hours, which is why I consider myself free to despise “Twilight” despite the fact that I couldn’t even choke down the whole of the first novel.

‘Never again,’ I promised myself.

Remember Harry Potter.

Re-read Michael Crichton instead.  Re-read “Hitchhikers”.  See if the Foundation books are as good as you remember.

I suppose it’s up to us to repair the reputation of these tarnished genres.  We should try to get some intelligent, spectacular and above all original genre fiction out there.  More steampunk fiction.  More new weird fiction.  Enticing, entrancing, entertaining.

But it’s already out there.  A lot of us know it.  Films are more likely to wake people up than literature.  After all, a film takes up a lot less of your time than a 500-page novel.  It requires less brain-power, even if it has subtitles in places.  But the most original ideas, the ones that aren’t tried and tested, don’t get the budget.  They don’t get the stars.  And they therefore don’t get the marketing or the national releases or the audiences.  A film without an audience might as well not exist.

Some decent stuff gets through.  The Donnie Darkos and the Eden Logs and the Sky Blues.  A few people, outside of their main target audience, gets to see them.  And the love them.  They realise that there’s another side to fantasy and horror and science-fiction.

A new breed.

There might be hope.  Although the paper fiction industry has taken its knock these last two or three years, genre fiction in particular is suffering no worse than the ever-popular mainstream titles.  Granted, it’s supported by the franchise bilge like Dr Who and endless hack’n’slash fantasy.

But the new stuff is there.  Even if it’s Neal Asher or Charlaine Harris.

Just try it.

You might even like it.

— db

How I Deal With Idiots

Plead for help

RESPONSE:

My response

— db