Silly Saturday – How to Cheat at Saving Society

Some might say that the planet should be saved, not society, but we shall deal with that next week. It is probably easier to start on a small scale with your own street/farm/castle or country estate (delete as appropriate ).

To avoid trying to define society, just imagine a perfect neighbourhood and if you are ambitious, your own town or city run exactly how YOU like it. With a bit of crowd funding, quietly taking over while no one is watching because of Brexit, it should be no problem. London National Park City is launching in July, so how hard can it be to change your street?

http://www.nationalparkcity.london/

Here are some simple ideas to start with. Make it compulsory for everyone to have nice front gardens; the sort you like to walk by, green lawns, beds and tubs full of flowers, delightful scents and the happy sound of bees. If anyone complains, point out that the government has pledged to create green corridors for bees; if they complain they have nowhere to park their car refer them to idea number two.

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Abolish all private vehicles and, just until your local town becomes fully functional with solar powered moving walkways, set up a car share scheme.

Soon everyone will be happy; flowers and wild life put everyone in a good mood and those living in cramped flats with no gardens have been helping with the digging and planting.

Idea number three, take over every empty plot of land, however small and plant trees, create allotments and parks for children. While your local millionaire is away on his expensive yacht, commandeer that land where he had two houses demolished and plans to build a block of flats for rich people.

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Fourthly, all vacant buildings of any sort, shops, offices and second homes to be commandeered for the homeless and as workshops for the self employed. A little networking on the internet should bring you a team of building experts to supervise and train school leavers and the unemployed. It won’t be long before you have created a happy healthy local neighbourhood with no problems and others will be keen to take away your ideas to their own cities and countries.

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These are just a few introductory ideas, feel free to make suggestions and tell us if you have managed to create utopia where you live.

For a clue as to how humanity will save itself read the best selling book nobody is talking about…

 

 

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Friday Flash Fiction – 800 – Dream Machine

Seth tried to hang on to the memories before he opened his eyes; a whole film in technicolour. He had dreamed a whole movie, a brilliant idea for a novel if he could recall it; write a best seller with film makers flocking to his door… that would be a dream. If only he could connect his brain to his computer, time would not be wasted sleeping, unless it was the fact that he was sleeping that produced the ideas. He jumped as his phone vibrated under his pillow and played that irritating tune. Every morning he vowed to change the tune and every evening he forgot. Whatever the melody, it didn’t alter the fact that he had to get up for work.

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The school Seth taught at bore no resemblance to the one in his dream, where young minds were nurtured and different talents exposed to produce a team of world changing teenagers with Seth sharing a little of the glory, or quite a lot as he was made Prime Minister. Who would play him in the film? He snapped out of his reverie and looked at the surly faces staring at him… and that was just the staff room. Seth put his empty coffee cup down and stood ready to face the afternoon.

‘Hey Seth, you’ve got a new kid in your English class, he’s in my form, Dad’s a scientist and polymath, seen him on television, goodness knows why he sent his son to this school, something about discovering real life.’

‘He was thrown out of his private school,’ said the head of science ‘too clever for his own good.’

Seth felt his hackles rise; they should be encouraging the clever kids, not putting them down. He strode down the corridor with an idea for the warm up pen and paper creative exercise.

The class was unusually quiet, gathered round the new boy who was talking enthusiastically, his long fingers gesticulating elegantly to illustrate his subject.

‘Without any discussion class, write for fifteen minutes imagining you could plug your brain into a computer while you slept.’

Unusually they settled down quickly. Seth sauntered casually between the desks, the new boy was scribbling furiously, words and hieroglyphics.

‘Isaac isn’t it?’

‘Yes Sir.’

At least the private school had taught him manners.

‘Named after Newton or Asimov?’

‘Both Sir.’

‘Do you enjoy writing?’

‘When it’s my favourite topic, good choice Sir, my father and I have just invented such a device. It didn’t go down too well at my last school, getting the pupils to volunteer; perhaps you would like to have a go?’

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So on Friday evening Seth found himself relaxing on a comfortable bed in a very pleasant room with electrodes attached to his head; he didn’t expect it to work, but he did have an idea for a new short story about a writer who finds himself  in the hands of mad father and son scientists. It was rather creepy being in the company of the two most intelligent people he had ever met.

‘Our initial aim is to discover if brain waves will translate into images or words or perhaps both’ said Isaac’s father.

Seth drifted off quickly. He was on board the International Space Station with  Isaac and his father and the attractive married science teacher he fancied; also bizarrely his mother and the middle aged lady who worked on the till at the Co Op. They had a fantastic plan for saving the Earth from climate change, if only he could remember what the plan was… he woke up with a start.

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‘Great, we’ve got some images already.’

Seth looked at the screen as he sipped a welcome cup of tea. A beautiful view of the earth, a view inside the space station, well anybody could get those images off the internet… but not pictures of his mother and everyone in his dream, the lady still in her Co Op uniform, the science teacher in a very short skirt and low cut blouse, floating around showing her figure to full effect. Isaac chuckled.

‘Hey Sir, you fancy Mrs Greening.’

Seth ignored the remark. ‘But we’re not talking, I’m not sure if we spoke in the dream, but we had a plan…’ he rubbed his temples ‘to save the earth.’

‘Let’s try the word document then’ said Isaac’s father.

Seth thrilled when he saw words come up on the screen, he’d written a book in his sleep, he peered closer, something was wrong…

I Captain odf the mosat brillainteam o severs sent up my mother fopr got to,mask me to get milkat the shops mrs greening saya her husband is dead so its okayforhet come up herthees the moonnt asbigasithoughtihave togobalc toearth itstime forscgool wonder if the shuttle is working todayknoitdoesb’tworkanymore ohohmyspacesuitdoesn;t fit ishallppbably implode otrisitsexplode ionspace………….

sunshine-blogger

For more stories, have a look in the book.

 

Silly Saturday – How to Cheat at Game of Thrones

Today I am delighted to welcome back Baz The Bad Blogger to talk about his new novel and the YouTube video he has created to launch the series.

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‘Have you always wanted to write fantasy Baz?’

No, but if that chap can make all that money out of Game of Thrones I thought how hard can it be to write about dragons?

‘Have you watched all the series of Game of Thrones?’

No, have you?

‘No, but I imagine you must have had to come up with some very original story lines to compete with GoT and all the other fantasy novels.’

My dragon is set in the real world of the 21st Century; he comes from a lost island somewhere in the Pacific, but loses his way home and ends up at Bognor Regis. Notflex are going to love it.

‘That explains the scene where he nearly collides with the coastguard helicopter…’

But there is still the traditional castle setting… I can’t tell you any more, you’ll have to buy the book.

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sunshine-blogger

Friday Flash Fiction 725 – The Skies Above

I never tired of watching the skies above. Living close to the airport the sky was never empty. At night I counted the lights, four in a row coming into land, no room for error. On winter mornings as I got up early for work I was never sure which were stars and which the passenger planes circling, waiting for their turn to land.

But this morning something was different, a shape dropping gently, slowly; higher than the other aircraft, lights unfamiliar, not a helicopter. As the night sky turned to indigo the shape became a luminous jellyfish floating in the deep blue of the ocean, the world turned upside down and inside out. I was transfixed, not afraid, not afraid at that moment.

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As the sky lightened I discerned a darker shape beneath the rainbow coloured dome; still so high in the sky it was hard to tell if it was ascending or descending. But even as I blinked I saw it becoming larger. I rushed through the house to the back garden to get a better view, all thoughts of getting to the bus stop in time for work forgotten. The feeble early morning light disappeared as a giant canopy blocked the whole sky. I hardly dared allow my eyes to follow the heavy cables that hung below what I now realised was a giant parachute. The cables twisted and jerked as they were manoeuvred by the dark shape attached to them. The shape took form as it slowly descended, legs and arms flailing. The garden security light came on to reveal a human shape; I hoped it was a macabre joke, a giant inflatable doll, strung to a parachute that was about to cover the whole of my large back garden.

Saucer eyes stared at me, a gaping mouth uttered a sound that caused the ground to tremble beneath me and a hot wind, tobacco scented, blew me backwards. Before I could attempt to recover and retreat indoors there was an almighty splintering of glass as my greenhouse was crushed out of sight by a giant boot. And even as a tiny part of my brain urged me to get indoors and save my family I felt a rush of wind on my cheek and the other boot flattened my house as if it was cardboard.

I fought to escape as the canopy that had looked like gossamer high up in the sky now crashed around me with its deadly weight. As the breath was about to be squeezed out of me, my paralysed brain seemed to revive and make time stand still. I observed the hand that raised up the canopy, each digit the size of a tree trunk, a hand that could rescue or crush me. Hysterical laughter shook my body for a moment as I pictured myself telling the boss ‘Sorry I’m late, but a giant landed in my garden.’

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What was he, a giant of legend? Or perhaps an alien; we imagine them as either strange monsters or green coloured humans, but why not a distant planet populated by homo sapiens who just happen to be ten times our size? For a bloke who wasn’t a great thinker I was doing a lot of thinking, there was a strange silence that was comforting. The hand was not touching me, joined by the other hand it lifted the crumpled structure clear so I was staring into the face, but it was too vast for me to discern its expression.

It had been the titanic parachute shielding me from the noise; now the air was filled with the shrieking of sirens and the shrieking of my neighbours. How many seconds had passed since the boots destroyed my home and woke all the neighbours? The control tower must have been tracking him before I even left my front door. What would the emergency services do, call in the army? I almost felt protective of my giant, I hoped they wouldn’t harm him. As another hot wind blew me backwards and the ground vibrated I realised the deafening rumble was the word sorry. I knew then that he must have intended to land on the runway and as his hand stretched out to pick me up I hoped he didn’t mess up the next part of his plan.

Into Infinity

Writing about infinity presents endless possibilities. Most of my scientific understanding comes from listening to BBC Radio Four while doing the housework or cooking. The Infinite Monkey Cage is a programme combining comedy and science which I can understand, then there was the serialisation of Professor Stephen Hawking’s last book Brief Answers to Big Questions; if I didn’t take that all in I blame it on domestic interruptions or a noisy washing machine.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00snr0w

Here is my handy guide to the universe. I think Stephen Hawking said the universe is growing, therefore at one time it must have been smaller and long ago so small it was nothing; one minute it was nothing and the next minute there was a big bang. I prefer my theory that if the universe is infinite it will go on forever, so it must have always been here forever.

But how big is infinity? The edge of the observable universe is 46.5 billion light years away, but we can’t see if there is an edge to it or work out how much more of it there is. Apparently even clever scientists, who can cope with the thought of billions of light years, still find infinity a bit creepy. They are no different to young children ( or was that just me? ) who ask ‘Who made the universe?’

‘God’ the parent replies and then they ask

‘But who made God’ or ‘What’s outside the universe?’

Another theory is that the universe could curve round on itself, making it both finite and infinite. Could that mean time goes in a circle and if we crossed the circle with a diameter or a chord we would be in a different time, thus making time travel possible? But is time merely an illusion? If so, time travel is still on the cards…

Talking of space, there is a lot of space between atoms and inside atoms; if you took all the empty space in the atoms that make up a human being, a person would be a lot smaller than a grain of salt. If you removed all the empty space from the atoms that make up all the humans on the planet, we could all fit inside an apple. If we removed the spaces between and inside all the atoms in the solar system it could fit it inside a thimble, so perhaps the universe is not so big after all.

Whatever the truth, authors who enjoy writing about time travel are never going to concede that time travel is impossible. Science fiction writers in general vary from those who are scientists to those who make it all up and who can prove them wrong if they set it in the future; unless a book reviewer travels to the future to check…

If you want to stretch your mind and go somewhere different why not dip into Someone Somewhere.

 

Game of Stones

I am not the only person in the world who has not seen Game of Thrones, there is at least one other person; I know that because I saw their post on Facebook. With the worldwide plethora of channels and other means of watching programmes there are not enough hours in the day to watch everything and we don’t all have legal access to much of the output. Neither lack of hours nor technical and legal barriers affect some viewers, who seem to have seen everything – three times over.

Perhaps I would have enjoyed it, though I prefer drama set in this world, but I fear it is too late to catch up; boxed sets, whether real or ethereal do not appeal. I enjoy watching serials one episode at a time. What I have finally caught up with is ‘Outlander’, a series involving time travel, so it is touching that we are only able to watch it with that prehistoric tool, a fire stick. This particular magic tool is an Amazon Firestick, acquired when Cyberspouse accidentally joined Amazon Prime via my account and obtained lots of toys. Now we are watching in real time and have to wait till Monday for episode 12 of series four, so I decided to find out more, especially as I have not read any of the books.

Diana Gabaldon is the author; she started writing the story in the eighties and there are nine in the series; with only five filmed so far that means plenty to look forward to and reassuringly genuine, not ‘based on characters created by’.

http://www.dianagabaldon.com/books/outlander-series/

When I read these words     There is one more addition to the OUTLANDER series— THE EXILE, a graphic novel,  I thought she had written an edition with even more sex,  but it’s okay – For those unfamiliar with the term, a graphic novel is—in essence—a comic book for grown-ups.

Diana and I have a few things in common, born in the same decade and we both write about time travel…    ‘Outlander’ starts with our heroine Claire on holiday in the highlands of Scotland, reunited with her husband after being separated during the second world war. Wandering, she finds ‘The Stones’, touches them and falls into 1743. Adventure, love and lots of history follows.

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I imagine it is easier to write about time travel than actually survive if you found yourself back in the past. Perhaps you think you would use your future knowledge, it may give you a useful guide as to what happens next, unless you were not very good at history, but could you recreate modern inventions or modern medicine? Claire has the advantage of medical knowledge, but not the right implements and drugs. Few of us would be able to build a car from scratch,  install electricity in our peasant hut or offer to install hot running water in the laird’s castle. Few of us understand how the structures and infastructures that surround us are made, but if we ended up in the past we wouldn’t know how to make a wattle and daub hut either.

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On the other hand we might be delighted to get away from the world as it is and discover the past was better.

If you want to get ahead and read my trilogy before Amazon, Netflix or Sky snap it up to turn into a blockbuster, you can read the first book for only 99 pence or us$1.26

 

 

 

Sunday Salon – Astraens and Agents

Two novels, a short story collection and a film to take your mind off the real world.

The book reviews have been posted on Amazon and Goodreads.

A Marriage of Convenience by Stevie Turner

4.0 out of 5 stars A modern fairy tale for adults.

By Janet Gogerty on 17 October 2018

Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase

This could be described as a fairy tale for our age; a story that crosses from last century into the present. There is a love story, but there is also the bad fairy. Here is a tale of young people making rash decisions and bizarre plans which the reader knows can’t go well, which we hope they won’t go through with… There are dreams that come true and dreams that fade. The final part of the tale keeps us in suspense; can the dark spell be lifted from our heroine, can she ever forgive?

Coffee BreakEscapes: Twenty Short Stories To Set You Free  by Phillip Howlett

5.0 out of 5 stars Twenty tales lyrical or snappy, often taking you where you did not expect to go.

15 November 2018  Verified Purchase

A blackbird singing in the garden, a sure bet at the racecourse, poignant memories and a young lad’s sixpence. All life is here, though not always confined to the living. Secret meetings, terrible mistakes and deaths that shouldn’t have happened. Spare time for the last two longer stories ‘Radio Man’ and ‘Your Turn Will Come’, two very different tales exploring beyond our earthly limits.

Harmony ( Sanctuary Part Two ) by Maureen Turner

5.0 out of 5 stars Science fiction for all…

18 November 2018

Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase

I bought Harmony as soon as it came out as I had been waiting in suspense since reading Sanctuary. It was good to be back amongst the two communities, humans and Astraens. They are not so different from each other, which makes this such agood story. Can harmony be achieved when both sides have various agendas andthe Astraens are not as angelic as their appearance suggests? The tentative peace between the two races is constantly at risk because of the action of some individuals. But this is also a story of good characters trying to do their best and a tale of love blossoming.
Cosy science fiction perhaps? We don’t need to know how the motherships work, though we learn more about their travels since having to leave their own planet, nor why the aliens are conveniently sexually combatible with humans… lucky the woman who has a chap with wings to shelter her on a chilly night. But don’t get too cosy, the pace of the story escalates to a stunning ending.

Johnny English Strikes Again

‘Rowan Atkinson returns as the much-loved accidental secret agent in “Johnny English Strikes Again”. When a cyber-attack reveals the identity of all active undercover agents in Britain, the country’s only hope is called out of retirement. English’s new mission is his most critical to date: Dive head first into action to find the mastermind hacker. A man with few skills and analogue methods, English must overcome the challenges of modern technology-or his newest mission will become the Secret Service’s last.’

 Would you go to the cinema at 11am? One of my favourite places in Christchurch is the Regent Centre, a rescued and restored Art Deco cinema. On a damp grey winter day why not go and watch a film guaranteed to take your mind off the real problems of the world… and Johnny English has to save the world from a very big disaster. The film was silly but very funny. Just under an hour and a half, a sensible length for any film and certainly for this sort of film which is non stop slapstick send up with lashings of wit. Our hero creates nearly as much collateral damage as James Bond and doesn’t get the girl. A clever plot line somehow turns every disaster to advantage and Johnny saves the day.

Friday Flash Fiction 500 – Biodegradable

Cauldrons bubbled, paddles stirred, pumps rose and fell. The dye selector scurried along seeking indigo and sunflower to make that special shade of green for Familyfresh.

Malcolm Rust loved machinery and money, in that order. Childhood visits to industrial museums had given him a love of pistons and presses. The only history he was interested in at school was of Victorian valleys filled with furnaces and engineering entrepreneurs making a mint, so they could build great houses on top of hills looking down on their wealth. His weekends as a teenager had been spent scouring the country for redundant factory equipment and thinking of money making projects to fund his hobby.

He had no interest in the environment, except as the provider of water courses to power mills, until he met Melissa. She worked with his mother at the new Veganarium that had replaced the cheese and bacon shop. His mother needed a job, but for Melisa it was her whole way of life.

As far as Malcolm was concerned food was fuel, the same as coal, wood and diesel for his beloved machines. But as Melissa chattered on about recipes for allergen free biscuits and biodegradable wrappers, he thought he might find a way to her heart. Why not make the biscuits and packets with the same recipe? It was time to investigate corn starch and fructose.

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Now he was no longer Mr Rust, but Mr Green, inventor of the edible carrier bag and three days ago Melissa had become Mrs. Green. Channel Four was making a documentary about their plans for a perfect Ecohouse with living walls.

But no sooner had the carrier bags become familiar in every supermarket than the first criticisms began to appear on social media. Members of the public no longer had to feel guilty about plastic or litter; discarded sweet wrappers, takeaway boxes and shopping bags would all be eaten by wildlife, from snails to deer. In fact the carrier bags were so delicious, passing dogs were liable to take a bite out of your shopping.

Then came the first news story from the Familyfresh Fairtrade supermarket. Overnight, all the bundles of new carrier bags had disappeared from the store room. The first clue to the mystery came when three large rats scampered across the feet of the store manager. He ran out into the main store, only to see several more rats slip away from the checkouts. The second clue was the remnant of a carrier bag hanging limply, serrated with huge teeth marks.

A meeting of COBRA * was called after pest exterminators made urgent reports of supersized rats, gardeners posted pictures on Facebook of giant snails and a photograph appeared on breakfast television of a fox the size of a deer hound. Malcolm was summoned to reveal the ingredients of his carrier bags…

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*Cobra stands for Cabinet Office briefing room A. Cobra meetings are held in Downing Street to plan government responses in times of emergency.

Friday Flash Fiction Flies – Per Ardua ad Astra

Edward was not unique in his obsession with aeroplanes, but he was fortunate that his wife understood, or at least didn’t mind spending the summer touring round all the air shows in their camper van. The boys didn’t always go with them these days, but they had enjoyed a childhood of camping and exploring the British Isles.

A slight autumnal melancholy would descend on the couple as the air show season drew to a close, but the winter months were still busy for Edward, visiting air museums and doing research. Josie did not mind him spending long evenings on the computer, at least he wasn’t looking at pornography and she was free to watch her favourite television dramas.

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Winter also gave Edward time to spend in his man den at weekends; this was no ordinary garden shed, but the sanctuary where he tinkered with his inventions. If his wife and sons had paid more attention to what he was creating they would have been very excited… or very worried.

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Josie and the boys did not share Edward’s obsession with World War Two and the RAF. His special love, the other woman in his life, as Josie teased him, was the Spitfire, the most perfect aircraft ever built, a beautiful bird that pilots did not just fly, but became a part of. Or so Edward had read and heard from those who had flown them. His six foot four gangly frame, poor eyesight and asthma had precluded any hope of joining the RAF, let alone becoming one of the special few who flew with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. He was a frequent visitor to the BBMF visitor centre at RAF Coningsby and all the tour guides knew him well, too well; they didn’t always appreciate him volunteering extra information to their polished talks.

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Edward had no idea where his Spitfire dreams came from, nobody else in his family had been interested in flying. Josie said he should consult a medium, perhaps he had been a pilot in a previous life, helping to win the Battle of Britain. In his dreams at night he was always soaring up into the blue sky, not diving down to a violent death. But as his wife pointed out, he could have survived the war and lived on for a good many years; Edward was born in 1970.

But Edward’s thoughts and day dreams went far deeper than his family could imagine, in his den were creations nobody knew about. Talk of time machines was outdated, Edward’s calculations and research pointed to folds in time and certain frequencies. His plan was to tune into the frequency of the iconic Merlin engines and his dream was to save lives; the Spitfire was built to fly not die, not kill. If he could bring the Spitfires forward to the present, before their pilots perished in the Battle of Britain, their young lives would not be wasted.

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His theory became reality when he realised he could tune his adapted radio to hear the past, even if he could not see it. Edward had plotted meticulously the dates and air bases of that summer of 1940, but all the planes would converge to one date, the final day of the Sandy Cliffs Air Festival. The spitfires would fly in formation above the fields of Kent they knew so well.

There were only two drawbacks to Edward’s grand plan; the weather might be bad and he could change the course of history.

If it changed so he had never existed then he would never have been around to change it… On the other hand if he was alive and well to witness the proof of time travel, he would also be able to observe if history had been changed. If the pilots were taken away the Battle of Britain would be lost, but that didn’t mean WW2 would be lost. Edward had given this great thought; historic events weren’t a matter of one way or another, there were infinite possibilities at the start of every day. Whatever happened, it should be a jolly good show for the year of the RAF’s hundredth birthday.

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The weather was beautiful, Edward could hardly contain his excitement. Josie had a headache and decided to stay in the shade of the camper van, the boys had come along reluctantly and were mooching around glued to their smart phones. They should all be snapped out of their languor at three pm.

The commentator also had a headache, the extra hot summer and too many air shows were taking their toll on his health. Wearily he turned on the microphone.

…and don’t forget the finale of the show at four pm with the Red Arrows and a few surprises, but now here come the Spitfire and Hurricane; on a sunny day like this in 1940 the sky would have been full of these beautiful planes… but

He took his glasses off and rubbed his eyes…

On the cliffs the crowd gasped in awe as tiny dots became little planes and more and more filled the skies above them…

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Edward thought his heart would burst with pride, the formation grew in the orderly fashion he had planned. The commentator was silent, but suddenly crackled back into life.

Once again we celebrate the strange events of 1940 when German pilots reported the enemy planes disappearing into thin air in front of their eyes, day after day until they all refused to fly for fear they too would evaporate. And so began the slow process of conciliation and the creation of our great empire Gaul.

Edward looked around at the crowds waving strange purple and green flags and wearing clothes that looked unfamiliar. He rushed back to the camper van to tell Josie what he had done; he needed her to confirm what he was seeing.

A strange woman flung open the door, two little girls ran up to him.

‘Daddy, Daddy did you see all the planes?’

‘They certainly put on a good show this year Ed’ said the strange woman.

Edward realised a factor he hadn’t taken into account, he still existed, but the great mixing of the gene pool that occurred after the war and brought Josie’s grandparents to Britain had not occurred, or had occurred in a different variation…