Get ’em while they’re hot!!!

When I’m not shouting at the sky about the state of Western politics, what I’m reading, what’s good on telly, or writing about locking moose in safes with hand grenades (Yes, I did. Look it up) I write political/sci fi short novels and short stories, all of which are available on Amazon as eBooks here.  For those those of you unfamiliar with my oeuvre, I thought I’d do a little self promoting summary.

The Ministry of Love: my first novel. The tale of a plan by a British Prime Minister to create a state agency to match lovelorn citizens together, and the hitman (“The Stoat”. Well, The Jackal was taken) hired by Big Cake, who really don’t want single women to be too happy. There’s a serial killer murdering really annoying celebrities in there as well. Its unofficial theme song is Joss Stone’s L-O-V-E.

The Gemini Agenda:  The billionaire great grandson of the man who sunk the Titanic plans to take over the world, until he discovers that a sinister transatlantic political organisation is already trying. The book was inspired, incidentally, by former Republican presidential candidate Wendell Wilkie, a proponent of world government, and the Eurythmics song “I saved the world today”. True story.

Earth One: Supposing there was software that could actually run a country, or even the planet? Would we trust it not to go all “Skynet” on our asses? I must be one of the few people in the world who saw the cult 1970 scifi movie “Collossus: The Forbin Project” about a giant supercomputer and was quite happy with the ending. Earth One was inspired by, I kid you not, the Pointer Sisters song “Automatic”.

The Gorgeous War: I’m fascinated by our society’s obsession with beautiful people. TGW is about what happens if a company develops a means of making nearly everybody beautiful, and the effect it would have both socially and politically. And how would the beautiful people react?

Anyway, all are available on the link above. I’m currently working on a three story collection which I hope to publish early next year. Enjoy!

Don’t forget to comment on Amazon if you do buy. And be honest. It matters.

The Visual Society.

I recently published “The Gorgeous War”, a short story on Amazon.com about a product which allowed the great majority of people to be, effectively, beautiful. I wrote it primarily because it’s a subject which fascinates me, in the fact that our society, especially with the rise of handheld devices, is so incredibly visually orientated.

That orientation has had all sorts of curious effects on our society, from the manufacture of political candidates (look at Forza Italia) to the arguable reversal of feminism and the rise of the WAG, to the recent Abercrombie and Finch row, where a business suggested that a selective approach to seeking custom based on the physical attractiveness of their customers might well be a reasonable business model. Odious as it is, I’m not sure they were wrong in their  analysis.

There are those who despair at it, who question the fact that we seem to value the beauty of a world class model over, say, a world class research chemist. I’m not so sure: after all, is it right to differentiate between a person who inherited DNA which made them physically attractive over a person with DNA which made them intelligent? Probably not.

Then, of course, there is the reality that physical attractiveness as a general rule has a shorter lifespan than intelligence.

But what would happen if we could manufacture beauty cheaply?We can do a lot now, of course, with plastic surgery and weight  reduction surgery, but supposing we could do it at a cost that permitted pretty much everybody to access it?

What if we could all be the beautiful people?

Now available on Amazon: “The Gorgeous War”

The beautiful people have it easier, don’t they?

When the United States Supreme Court rules that people can be discriminated against because of their looks, it sets of a train of events no one could have foreseen.

From beauty products, to politics, to terrorism, everything changes, and not the way you expect.

A new short story from me avaailable as an eBook from Amazon.

EarthOne: A short story.

EarthOne”, my first published short story, is now available here on Amazon.com as an eBook, and shows once again the dexterity of Amazon.com in permitting the publication of fiction in a format that would just not be economical through traditional publication means. It is, for me, a means of experimenting with fictional ideas that I feel would not justify a novel.

“EarthOne” tells the speculative story of a piece of software designed to run a country, and how society deals with the idea, as leaders and their peoples from a tiny island nation to a failing US city to the People’s Republic of China confront both the challenges and indeed opportunities of the concept, ultimately asking themselves: can we trust this thing we have created?

As ever, I’d really appreciate honest reviews on Amazon.com

Enjoy!

Is Amazon good for books?

Anyone with an interest in the publishing world and books generally will be aware of the battle going on between publishers and Amazon over the setting of prices. The publishers argue that if book prices are set too low, it will wipe out the ability of writers (and publishers) to earn a living. Amazon, and the self-published community disagree, for obvious reasons. I thought I’d throw in my tuppence.

Let’s be honest: the internet will probably wipe out bookshops, or at least turn them into niche businesses, because they just cannot compete with the vast range and buying power of Amazon. Having said that, Amazon can’t really replicate that moment of browsing in a bookshop when you come across a book you have never heard of. The problem is that you are more likely to use the bookshop as a showroom, and seek the book more cheaply online.

The other side of Amazon is the part which affects me not as a customer but as someone who has written a book. I hawked it around literary agents, was rejected, and in the old days would have had to just return my script to a bottom drawer and let a dream die. Yet Amazon allowed me to commission a cover design, get it edited and eformatted, and publish it. It has sold very modestly, but it is out there, and I have met people I didn’t know who have read it. Some enjoyed it, some didn’t, but I got to fulfill a lifelong dream because of Amazon which the traditional publishing industry denied me.

Now, I say denied me, but don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those people who feels embittered by the rejection, because as I read more about the economics of the traditional publishing industry, they had no choice. They just haven’t the money to take risks anymore on unknowns like me, which is fair enough. But that doesn’t mean they should be allowed stop me going direct to the market with my offering, something which Amazon permits me to do.

Is it fair that I help crowd the market with what is essentially my hobby, selling a novel for €2.99 and dragging down prices? I have bought two ebooks from Amazon, priced far more than €2.99, and whilst I am enjoying reading them I do feel a bit hard done by at the price (€12.99) for what is essentially very modest post-print work. What they seem to be missing is that if the books had been cheaper, I probably would buy more, a fact they are going to have to wake up to sooner or later.

The Gemini Agenda: a little taste.

The Gemini Agenda: A plan to take over the world before some other fella does.

The Gemini Agenda: A plan to take over the world before some other fella does.

An excerpt from my latest enovel, The Gemini Agenda, available from Amazon.com (Just here to the right of the page. See, I’m spoiling you!) 

Honorius Plenty III, on his twenty-first birthday, had learnt in this very room that his great-grandfather had sunk the Titanic.

The billionaire swivelled in his chair to face the floor-to-ceiling window that afforded him a clear view of Central Park. He had grown up in this huge penthouse, taking possession of it after his father had died, and yet he never grew bored of the view of the city. When he needed to think, this was where he turned, dimming the lights to allow him to drink in the flickering vista of the park and the skyline, feeding his sub-consciousness, somehow allowing an idea to emerge.

He still recalled the day thirty years ago. His father, with whom he had had an indifferent relationship, had summoned him, sat him down, and opened the wall safe. From it he had withdrawn a worn leather-covered journal and returned to his desk. He had then begun reading.

That morning, Honorius Plenty III had finally understood why his father seemed to carry the world’s burdens upon his shoulders. He had always assumed that his father was just a dour man who took the managing of the world’s third-largest private family fortune with an overdone sense of gravity. As his father spoke, carefully reading passages from the first Honorius Plenty’s personal diary, the young Honorius realised that his father was borne down with the guilt that his family fortune was based on the deaths of thousands of people in possibly the greatest theft of all human time.

The diary described the massive ship slipping under the icy, still water, and the dark night, and the cries and moans of the survivors. It had been the lack of wind that had done for the pride of Belfast. The stillness of the night meant that no waves crashed against the side of the wall of ice, and so it had not been spotted by the lookout until it was too late to allow for adequate remedial action. Or at least, that was how his great-grandfather had wanted history to see the events of April 14th and 15th 1912.

The truth was different. The iceberg was not the cause of the tragedy. The actual cause was a British master criminal who had meticulously planned the operation, having received a fabulously enticing nugget of information from one of his many spies and retainers. This particular one had been a senior official of His Majesty’s Treasury who indulged in both opium and the delights of being spanked by dusky maidens from the Dark Continent.

The collision with the iceberg was not an accident, but rather had been contrived with the use of an electrically powered tugboat that had previously been anchored to an iceberg within the Arctic Circle. Engineers had spent six weeks excavating and securing the buoyant mountain to the craft, ensuring the vessel would remain both well hidden and manoeuvrable.

Contrary to both historical belief and James Cameron, the impact of the iceberg caused only minor damage to the mighty ship’s hull. It did, however, provide a well-planned and executed distraction for the limpet mines planted along the hull in specific locations. Each was radio controlled, and each exploded as the iceberg neared its position. Each device penetrated the hull and permitted millions of gallons of water to overwhelm the vessel’s overly optimistic anti-flooding devices.

Regardless of how the flooding occurred, history observes that from that point on the vessel was condemned to a tomb on the bottom of the Atlantic.

As the diary proved, history got that one wrong as well.

The Titanic did sink beneath the waves, depriving over fifteen hundred individuals of their lives. What history had not recorded was the fact that engineers hidden within the Titanic herself, in concealed oxygen-supplied compartments, immediately activated electrically powered compressed air pumps. At the same time radio-controlled plates secretly fitted beneath the ship’s waterline were moved mechanically into place, sealing the punctures in the hull.

This complex operation had the effect of preventing the ship from sinking to the ocean floor, instead suspending her sixty metres beneath the water’s surface.

Seven days after sinking, and with the area clear of recovery vessels, the pumps were activated. The ship broke the surface again, and was moved out of shipping lanes by the now camouflage-free tugboat. This operation was, coincidentally, the reason why in 1985 it took Dr Robert Ballard’s team so long to locate the wreckage.

She was, quite literally, not where she should have been.

The vessel was boarded, and the specific cargo removed with explosives from its strong-room and then transferred to the tugboat. Two other vessels were also required to assist, such was the size of the cargo. Once the cargo had been removed, the mechanical plates holding back the water were jettisoned, causing the ship to flood bow first, pulling its stern and magnificent propellers up into the air before snapping its spine and severing the beautiful behemoth in twain. 

Although it is forgotten now, Britain in 1912 was a nation paralysed by fear of foreign invasion, a paralysis fuelled by the burgeoning market in invasion literature such as Erskine Childers’s The Riddle of the Sands.

As a result, the British government, wary of war with Imperial Germany, had begun to make provisions for a number of eventualities, one being a defeat by Germany and possible invasion.

Under such duress, His Majesty’s Treasury instructed that one of the defensive measures undertaken was that two-thirds of the British Exchequer’s gold reserve was to be moved to Canada for safe-keeping.

With the benefit of hindsight, it was not a good idea; although on the plus side, it did create the world’s first billionaire.

It also demonstrated that when rotund Belfast pillars of society declare that “God Himself” cannot sink a given vessel, well, that’s just looking for trouble.

 

The Ministry of Love: My eNovel eAvailable on Amazon eNow!

Love is all around. By Law.

Love is all around. By Law.

Supposing you went into a nightclub looking for a lover, where the odds were stacked in your favour. Where everybody else was single, in the same social and economic class as you, interested in the same things you were interested in. In fact, supposing you had seen pictures of everyone going to that nightclub beforehand, and had been able to pick which ones should be let in. And supposing every person in the nightclub had done the exact same thing.

The Government is doing this for the entire single population of the country. Many people are delighted. But what about the people who profit from the lonely?

Who is going to eat all that chocolate cake and ice cream on a Friday night?

The Ministry of Love: available as an eNovel on Amazon.com.