Friday, 24 April 2015

SFFSat 25/4/2015 Sorrel in Scarlet

This is my snippet this week for SFFSat. SFFSat is a place where a number of authors post snippets from their written works, and give the opportunity for comments, support and encouragement. Please also explore the other blogs that are part of this set - you can find the information here.


My snippet this week is again from Sorrel in Scarlet.

 My pilot heroine is on the run, pursued by dangerous enemies. With her is Wrack, the dragonlord, whom she does not really trust. 

They have just realised they have apparently nowhere left to run...



I came to a juddering halt only a few inches from the edge. Below - some way below - I could see water glittering. The gorge we were facing was about forty feet wide – no way to cross it. A stream fell in a graceful arc from the far bank into the water below. I looked across at Wrack in dismayed horror, and began to expostulate. All right, swear – same difference. Wrack was holding his injured arm, and gestured downwards at the churning water below.
"How brave are you, Sorrel?" he growled.
"What?" I answered intelligently.
"We jump."
Sometimes I really think I'd have been better off finding a nice, safe career - something like juggling scorpions or gargling with broken glass. I could hear the sound of boots, yells of anger, and muffled movement behind us. No time to have doubts. I grabbed his hand - no way was I doing this on my own - and nodded.
We jumped.

As always, comments welcomed!

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Thunderbirds are Go! The new series

 
I've mentioned before now on this blog that Thunderbirds was very important to me as a child. The news that a new, CGI Thunderbirds was in production filled me with a mixture of excitement and dread.

I've now seen the first few episodes of the new Thunderbirds are Go – and so far I like what I see.

 
The craft have been redesigned – but they are still the iconic craft of the original, effectively not significantly different in basic image.





Thunderbird 2 is more angular, and more solid-looking. The new design has grown on me - I now like it.





TB3's robot arms gave me pause for a moment, but I can cope with them - they're a little too "Japanese Mecha" for my tastes, but they aren't totally illogical.





Thunderbird 4 is a little sleeker, and lacks the lighting panel over the nose, but is fundamentally the same craft.





The exception is TB5, which has become a more plausible space station, but still has enough elements to make it clear that it shares DNA with the original. Since Gerry Anderson was never happy with the original, I think the change can be approved.

 

 
Tintin has become Kayo, and is now in charge of security. The name change was necessary because of potential confusion with a certain Belgian boy detective. Her change of role was entirely appropriate – the series needed more dynamic female roles.. The creators could have made one of the brothers female, but I suspect that would have upset the diehard fans of the original far more. Me included, frankly – it would have been difficult to get that right. Making Tintin more of a member of the team, and giving her a craft of her own, was entirely right. And calling her craft TB Shadow is right, too – TB6 would have carried all the wrong connotations (I was never a great fan of the film Thunderbird 6).




Jeff Tracy is missing – but it means that John, always the poor relation, suddenly becomes far more significant, taking on his father's role. And it also gives a background story arc. I think this was a good decision.




  
Lady Penelope... hmmm. I'm not so sure about her appearance, at present – she hasn't, to my eyes, got the necessary style that the original Penelope had. I'll wait and see what we see of her before I pass further judgment. On the other hand, she sounds right and acts appropriately. And I am really pleased to see Parker back, and voiced by David Graham.


 
Brains is now Indian. This is the 21st century – it actually doesn't make sense that all the cast would be white. Brains was a logical character to use to diversify the racial mix.



 
The brothers themselves – the CGI versions mostly look uncannily like the originals. Scott, particularly, looks absolutely right, as does John. Virgil is a little different from the original, but not unreasonably so, and Gordon and Alan are okay. I've read criticism that the CGI characters look like puppets. I think that was the right decision – they've used something akin to the puppet proportions and skin to remind us of the original, while getting the benefits of CGI (the characters can walk, jump, and climb!). But they've kept something of the look of the original as well. I think it's a very good compromise.

 
So far, the plots have been right, too. Action and adventure, no talking down or “kiddifying” it. They haven't made the cast adolescents or tried to make it somehow “kid-friendly”. Speaking as someone who as a kid thoroughly enjoyed a series about adults, I am very relieved they didn't change this. And there are people in real peril being rescued in the nick of time from serious dangers.

Some other things have changed. None of the characters smoke any more. Absolutely right.  And also the world is no longer atomic powered (“Crosscut” expressly says the world has turned its back on nuclear fission power) – yes, this is the 21st century, so a more ecologically friendly series makes sense. I'll be interested to see if we ever see the return of ecology-munching machines like the Crablogger. Somehow I doubt it.

 

 
And finally, we have the introduction. I don't mind admitting that I choked up on hearing Jeff Tracy's countdown. It's a reminder of the original series that works brilliantly. The title sequence is effectively new, but it harks back perfectly to the original, complete with the snapshot of what is to come in this episode. I miss the “fast” music that played under that snapshot in the original, but the title sequence itself tells us that this is still Thunderbirds.

My only significant complaint (are you listening, idiot management at ITV?) is putting it on at 8am on Saturday mornings. They ought to have kept the 5pm slot where the pilot was broadcast. Instead, they're broadcasting a repeat of a hidden camera show in that slot. Madness. The management of ITV are stupid.

Because the show they've got is one that ought to be a major success with families, not just with kids.




Friday, 17 April 2015

SFFSat 18/4/2015 Sorrel in Scarlet

 This is my snippet this week for SFFSat. SFFSat is a place where a number of authors post snippets from their written works, and give the opportunity for comments, support and encouragement. Please also explore the other blogs that are part of this set - you can find the information here.

My snippet this week is again from Sorrel in Scarlet
My heroine is in a camp run by the brutish graalur...

There was a burly warrior at the entrance to the store, and beside him a human slave. As I peered round the corner at the scene the graalur slammed a fist into the lad’s stomach. The slave crumpled to the ground, and the graalur drew back a booted foot and kicked him in the face. The graalur swung his foot again, but I was already moving. One graalur, one of me, and an attractive man in distress. I’ve read too many of the pulp magazines Verin enjoyed. Usually in those it was a pretty woman needing rescuing from the brute, but the effect was the same – a hero doesn’t pause when an attractive member of the opposite sex is in peril. My fist connected squarely with the thug's chin.
Which was where it all went wrong. In the stories, I would have laid the graalur out, seized the gorgeous prize, and we would have fled out into the wilderness, to find somewhere safe, exchange life stories, and probably engage in a steamy, passionate liaison to our joint satisfaction and no long-term commitment.
But the graalur didn’t go down - instead, he grunted in rage and swung back at me. I dodged, fortunately – close to, I could see that he was built like a steam wrecking-machine and had a punch to match – but he did not abandon the effort. He also bellowed a challenge, which saw fit to summon every graalur within a mile. Worst of all, my handsome hunk scrambled away and fled without a backward glance. So much for gratitude.

 As always, comments welcomed!

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Sorrel's Triplane!



I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was building a 1/48th scale model triplane. The bird is finished, and I proudly present some photographs of my handiwork.






 There are a number of faults with it, some of which I am still planning to rectify (in particular the propellor needs another coat of paint, which I hadn't noticed when I took the photographs). But in the main I'm pleased with the way it looks - the rigging looks the right sort of thickness and looks taut, and the paint job isn't bad.


 
No, it's not perfect - but it should be effective as something to show when I'm at book signings. And it's large enough and solid enough to survive such events.

Now all I need is a similar sized model of Wrack - which my wonderful wife is painting for me at the moment. Expect to see pictures soon!


Friday, 10 April 2015

SFFSat 11/4/2015 Sorrel in Scarlet

 This is my snippet this week for SFFSat. I couldn't post last week - real life intervened - but this week I'm back. SFFSat is a place where a number of authors post snippets from their written works, and give the opportunity for comments, support and encouragement. Please also explore the other blogs that are part of this set - you can find the information here.

Once again, I'm posting an extract from Sorrel in Scarlet.

 My pilot heroine is travelling through the strange, scarlet landscape of the Chasm, and is thinking about the creatures she has been warned about.

 
I was forming the opinion that the Chasm was a distinctly unfriendly place. Grathks, graalur, wild olgreks and snarqs I knew. Ruzdrools, inskiirs and adjaliks meant nothing. Vrusks I knew and didn't fear, assuming they weren't twice the size and viciousness of the ones I knew. The good news was that he hadn’t mentioned dragons… no, I wasn't even going to think about that.

Even the smaller denizens of this strange countryside were peculiar. As I'd trekked up a red grassy hill I'd spotted some dark blue lumps grazing near holes in the ground. I'd tagged them as rabbits. When I got closer to one, I realised it had a shell like a tortoise. It then astonished me by bolting for the nearest rabbit-hole at a speed that made rabbits look geriatric. The shell was segmented, so it moved across its back. It made me wonder what the local carnivores were like.

 As always, comments welcomed!

Friday, 3 April 2015

SFFSat 4/4/2015 Sorrel in Scarlet

 This is my snippet this week for SFFSat. I couldn't post last week - real life intervened - but this week I'm back. SFFSat is a place where a number of authors post snippets from their written works, and give the opportunity for comments, support and encouragement. Please also explore the other blogs that are part of this set - you can find the information here.

 I missed last week - too much else going on. This week, I've gone back to my first novel, Sorrel in Scarlet. 


My pilot heroine, Sorrel, is trying to find somewhere to sleep for the night. She has crept into a stable, then hears something moving...




Something stirred in the straw spread over the floor. It was dark in here - no helpful lanterns to show me what I was facing. I ducked into the shadows and tried to make out the bulk nestling in front of me.

It suddenly raised a head, and large, emerald green eyes were looking my way. Moments later, a second pair of eyes were also peering towards me. I guessed what I was looking at - I really, really hoped it had poor night vision. A large wing twitched, confirming my very nasty belief - this had to be a snarq. Which meant it had two fully-functioning and lethal acid-spitting heads. And it was looking my way. I stood very still, and waited, wishing I didn't need to breathe.

One of the heads lowered into the straw, and then the other settled down as well. Slowly, cautiously, stepping gingerly so as not to knock into anything at all, not even a piece of straw, I tiptoed backwards like a frightened mouse creeping away from a dozing owl.

Did I really want to stay the night here? The logic was fine, but I didn't like the bed partner in that stable. After I had a fling with Lorgren, Tolly joked I’d sleep with anyone – I was glad to prove his accusation false. 

 As always, comments welcomed!


Friday, 20 March 2015

SFFSat 21/3/2015 Korax Crisis

This is my snippet this week for SFFSat. SFFSat is a place where a number of authors post snippets from their written works, and give the opportunity for comments, support and encouragement. Please also explore the other blogs that are part of this set - you can find the information here.

Today's snippet is again from Korax Crisis, a novel set in a traditional fantasy world, about one hundred and fifty years after an industrial revolution. So we have steam trains (but with elementals in the firebox), growing levels of mass production and industrialisation, but also a range of typical fantasy tropes. In this snippet, one of the characters is waiting for a train.



Maidencircle Station was always hung with the tapestry of transit, an endlessly swirling and changing pattern of figures interlocking in a weave of swift motion and ever-present tumult, the noise rising into the high steel rafters that held up the glass roof over the six tracks. At no stage would the stationhall be at peace – there were always peoples of myriad types, shapes and sizes seeking a thousand destinations. Challenden always thought of Maidencircle as the enchanted gateway that led to the rest of the world.
He sat in the teashop overlooking the concourse, watching the people. Nowhere else in the city really reflected how cosmopolitan Torbridge had become. Afoot in the hall he could see skin hues ranging from pale pink through to dark brown, pale green to deep blue, soft grey to brick red. The costumes they wore varied almost as greatly. Islanders in loose kaftans of red and yellow, Sekhaanese in white, and others in whatever colours took their fancy. On platform five, a ramp had been lowered from the wide stable-doors of one of the wagons, and a family of centaurs were clip-clopping daintly aboard. Probably heading for the community at Arleth, he surmised. From the collection of packages in their voluminous saddlebags, they had probably been in Torbridge for the sales.
 
With a crunch that cut through the endless commotion, a dark blue engine, wreathed in smoke, backed against a rake of coaches. A uniformed man leapt down to conjoin them in unholy matrimony. Challenden sighed, recognising that his train was soon going to depart, and downed his last mouthful of tea.

As always, comments welcomed!