WELCOME TO MY WORLD

This website is part writing journal, part blog and part repository of stories both of adventure and fantastical in nature.

As a writing journal it tracks projects I am working on, their progress, ideas, updates and all other things writing related.

As a blog it features things of interest to me; sometimes they will tie in with my writing, other times not.

As a repository of my stories, it provides links to my stories of a variety of types, ranging from flash fiction to novels, though mostly short stories and novelettes for now. It also contains a wide variety of genres within the sf/f field – sci fi, steampunk, gunpowder fantasy, heroic fantasy, sword and sorcery fantasy, epic fantasy, urban fantasy and more.  They can be found in the Pure Escapism part of the website.

What is in the name you ask? It ties in with the main setting of my writings and, while hints and references may have cropped up in some of the stories, the true meaning behind it is a mystery for another day.

Enjoy your visit and please feel free to browse and comment.

A Recent Interview

Posted: May 28, 2016 in General
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I recently had the good fortune to be featured on Lorna Suzuki‘s All Kinds of Writing blog, in which I was interviewed concerning my writing and books. Lorna is the author of the epic fantasy Imago Chronicles, which are destined for the small screen as a TV series.  As well as that she features authors on her blog and I was lucky enough to be the most recent one.

The Epic of Gilgamesh is one of the oldest narrative works known to man, dating back to as early as 2100BC and the Third Dynasty of Ur, in Mesopotamia.  It tells the story of Gilgamesh, king of Uruk, and Enkidu, who became his friend.

The Epic was rediscovered in 1853, in he palace library of Ashurbanipal, a 7th century BC king of Assyria, though there are still missing fragments of the tale.

The recent invasion of Iraq, and the looting that followed, saw a cuneiform clay tablet turn up for sale at the Sulaymaniah Museum in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, where it was purchased for $800.  The tablet was a fragment of Tablet V of the Epic of Gilgamesh and contained 20 lines never seen before of the Epic.

It is cool to think that even after all this time we can discover new storied from the past and that there might be more out there, hidden under sands or lost in jungles, as long as they aren’t destroyed first.

 

Anyone who has used computers or any other device that stores data has run into the problem of disc failure that leads to lose of data.  It is the reason we make – or should – backups in case the main storage goes down.  You just have to hope that the backup also doesn’t fail.

Over at the Southampton University in the UK they are working on a system that may make it a thing of the past.  Utilising lasers and quartz crystal, they have developed a means of storing up to 360 terrabytes on a small disc for a very long time – 13.8 billion years by their estimates.  Not exactly a short amount of time.

It is not yet available for commercial use but it will certainly come in handy if and when it does.

 

Sometimes you stumble across things you had no idea about and end up rather blown away by it.  For me, history especially does that.  I love to find out new things about the past that I had never dreamed of before.  One recent example of this was when I discovered the existence of the Kingdom of Makuria.  And I had a computer game to thank for it.

That games is Crusader Kings 2, in which you guide a dynasty through the early and middle medieval period, in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, India and the Steppes.  While poking around in it, I came across the Kingdom of Makuria and looked further into it.  I was fascinated by what I found.

Makuria was one of three Nubian nations which rose in the forth of fifth century, the other two being Alodia and Nobatia.  They were situated in what is today southern Egypt and northern Sudan.  By the end of the 6th century all were Christian nations, converted after a series of missions were sent by the Byzantium Empire, eventually becoming part of the Coptic Church.

At some unknown point, possibly before 642, Makuria absorbed Nobatia into its kingdom.

Then the Muslims struck.

In December 639, the Muslims invaded Egypt, then a part of the Byzantium Empire, and had conquered it by 641.  They gave the native Christian populace three choices – convert, be killed or become second class citizens with a heavy tax burden.

In 642, the Muslims turned south and attempted to invade Makuria.  The exact event are unclear, as all sources come from the Muslim invaders, but at what is called the First Battle of Dongala, the Muslim were repelled with heavy losses.  It appears that the Makurians fought a guerilla was against the Muslims, using their renown Nubian bowmen and superior light cavalry.  The Muslims withdrew, claiming that they had not lost, and that the land was poor with no treasure worth fighting for, despite Makuria possessing fertile farmlands along the Nile and a gold mine.

In 652 the Muslims tried again, and once more suffered defeat at the Second Battle of Dongala.  They besieged the capital of Makuria, Dongala, but were defeated by its walls which were defended by the Nubian archers.  After heavy losses again and the refusal of the Makurian king, Qalidurat, to surrender, the Muslims struck a treaty with the Makurians.

The treaty was called the baqt, and was unique in regards to Muslim relations with non-Muslims.  It was the duty of the Muslim world to conquer the rest of the world and force it to convert to Islam.  Unable to defeat the Makurian, instead more pragmatic heads prevailed.  According to the treaty, neither side would attack the other.  The Makurians would send slaves to the Muslims with the Muslims would send manufactured goods south to Makuria.  The baqt was to last for seven hundred years, making it the longest lasting treaty in history.

With its sovereignty safeguarded, Makuria grew in strength and wealth, reaching its zenith in the 8th to 9th century.  It was a land of art, architecture and literature, though what literature has been found to date is mostly of legal and religious nature.

When the Fatamids were replaced by the Ayyubids in Egypt in 1171, fortunes began to decline for the Makurians.  Internal difficulties began to afflict the Makurians and the Muslims began to interfere in the nation.  Eventually the Mameluke Egyptians invaded and in 1312 occupied the kingdom, ending Makuria as a nation.  Under the weight of the occupying Muslims, the natives began to convert.

Alodia clung on until 1504 when it too was conquered and converted to Islam, ending the long history of Christian Nubia.

It is a fascinating piece of history, and one still little understood.  Sadly, much of ancient Makuria is today beneath water after the damming of the Nile, which means there may be lots we may never find out.

There doesn’t seem a lot published on the region, but I intend to track down as much as I can and obtain copies of it.  Who knows, someday I may write on the subject, or use it as an inspiration for stories.

As I have mentioned in the past, I would love to have the chance to explore places that no one has ever seen before. Given the lack of options available in reality, I do so through writing, and through gaming, especially games which feature exploration.

A new game is coming out soon (well, hopefully soon), which will cater for that desire for exploration like no previous one has. No Man’s Sky is a space exploration game in an infinite universe, or at least as close enough to infinite that you can see it on a clear day. Featuring some 128 quintillion worlds, there are so many that a single person will only touch on a fraction of them and many, probably even most, may never be seen. The chances that you will come across a planet already discovered by another are low, so you will be the first to ever see many of these places. And that appeals to me.

 

The whole thing is procedurally generated, from planets to plants and animals and everything in between, and it looks stunning. It may very well be the last game I need to buy for a long time – I will be playing for years I can foresee, just puttering around the universe, visiting new planets, seeing the new creatures and landscaped there and generally just exploring.

 

Around 90% of the worlds you come across will be barren worlds, covered in deserts or ice, toxic or irradiated, and not bearing life. 10% will bare life, but only 10% of those, or 1% overall, will be flourishing. Finding those gems will be a big part of the game. Even so, all worlds will be interesting and unique and worth a visit – as long as you have upgraded your suit to survive them.

One thing I do plan on doing when I get the game is documenting my journeys through it.

Macbeth is my favourite Shakespeare play.  I was lucky enough to study it twice in high school – at two different schools.  Foe English Literature I did at essay on Macbeth and the changing roles of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.  I hope I still have it somewhere, packed away in a box.  I’d like to find it and read it again.

The reason I bring up Macbeth is that there is a new movie version of the play coming out.  It was shown at the Cannes Film Festival to mostly very positive reviews. The trailer has just been released and it looks stunning.  I cn’t wait for it.

I’ve been reading webcomics for quite a while now – some I’ve stuck with, others, due to time constraints I’ve let drop.  I’m a big fan of them and how they go about telling there stories.  Now if only I could draw…

But I can’t, so I write.

Webcomics, for the most, sell there stories differently than authors.  They give it away for free upfront.  You go to the webcomic and there it is, available to read.  And yet, even doing so, some authors of webcomics earn a living.  They do this by building up a fanbase through there works who then buy copies of the book, the merchandise, sponsor them like old fashioned patrons etc.

Authors tend not to work that way, at least not for those who write full length novels.  For those that write short fiction and serials there are some who do so.

It is something that I am starting to try out now.  I have started a new blog, Tales From a Thousand Worlds, where three times a week I’ll post my short stories in small parts of about 1000 words at a time, give or take.  It is both an experiment and an effort to hopefully begin building up a collection of people who enjoy reading my stories, and do so on a regular basis.

We’ll see how it goes.