Category Archives: influences

My review of Alastair Reynolds excellent sci-fi novel ‘Revenger’…

I have been a fan of Alastair Reynolds for a really long time and I would say that he is a strong influence on my science-fiction writing. I first picked up a copy of ‘Revelation Space’, which I absolutely loved, in a charity shop when I was a student at university, tore my way through it, and since then I have eagerly awaited each of his new books. I have my favourites (I’ve always really liked The Prefect) and I felt that one or two haven’t quite maintained the high standard of his best work but I still eagerly await each new release and dread the period immediately after I devour the latest for I know the wait for the next will be long indeed. And I am glad to say that I thoroughly enjoyed  his latest, ‘Revenger’.

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Revenger is, in the simplest possible terms, pirates in space. Think Firefly meets Ocean’s Eleven and you’re in the right ball park. These characters live on ships that travel through space using massive sails that allow the vessels to be pushed along by sunlight and visit the worlds where they seek their treasure. In my mind the ships resembled the lightship that Ben and Jake Sisko build in the ‘Explorers’ episode of Deep Space Nine. The crew then attempt to break into these worlds that contain vast, unseen treasures from an age gone by and each member has a different skill set and speciality including someone who can read the ‘augries’ (I hope I spelled that right) which is knowing when a ‘bauble’ will pop open, a crew member who can assess the worth of the treasure and a few others. But the most important is the ‘Bone Reader’ and that’s our protagonist, Fura Ness, someone who literally ‘reads’ a giant skull that she plugs into. All of this works to build the work that Reynolds is creating as does the language of the novel where a man is a ‘cove’ and money is ‘quoins’ all contributes to the world building that Reynolds is undertaking.

Now, I don’t want to say any more about the actual plot, for I would rather you go away and read the book for yourself, but it is safe to say that the title is a good one for this is a story about revenge, legacy and how the choices that the characters take shape the course of their lives. One of the aspects that I like most about this particular tale is how quickly it moves along, not lingering to settle the character’s into their lives, but quickly upending them and forcing them to deal with the events that occur. Oh and, at times, it’s brutal with a particularly gruelling segment about a third of the way through that I did not see coming at all! But this brutality seems fitting, given the life that they lead, and it forces our protagonist to take control of her life and her story and chose the path that she will take. For that is what a good protagonist should do in the opinion of this reviewer.

I thoroughly enjoyed Revenger and would recommend it to any and all fans of quality science-fiction writing. The book also ends well, closing out this origin story, and providing ample room for a sequel should Reynolds choose to write one. I really hope that he does for I would like to see the next adventure of Fura Ness and her sister. He also leaves a nice, juicy mystery hanging (and his reveals are usually very good!) and I hope we get to find out the secrets of this Universe and visit it again. And thus begins the long wait for the next Reynolds story sometime in the not-too distance future. Until then!

 

My debut novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’, now has TWELVE reader reviews with an average of 4.4 stars and is available from all electronic retailers. It’s sequel, ‘Jesus Returns: here he comes again’, will be out soon! Also check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on being an indie author, comics, politics, and reviews of books and movies! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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Ongoing Ramblings: Influences on my writing and the authors whose work I love…

OK, following on from my quite serious post last week about the new Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, I think it is time for something a little lighter in tone. This week I’m going to talk about the influences on my writings and the authors whose work I regularly enjoy. For now I’ll cover fiction and I’ll undoubtedly write more about the comic book creators whose work I love at a later date but I don’t want to ramble on too much so I shall limit myself to authors of prose. Anyway, a little while ago a kind person who had read my novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’, left me this review on Amazon UK:

“I really enjoyed this book, it’s witty, intelligent, and it has a good pace to it. If you like Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett you will probably enjoy this book. Don’t take this book too seriously though, it’s a comedy caper, not a religious book, but it might have you thinking about life the universe and everything in a couple of places.” Here is the link to the review for anyone who would like to see it: http://tinyurl.com/pgjd68z.

Now, this is obviously, a very nice review but before long I expect to get some less pleasant ones, especially considering that my book satirises religion. My tweets advertising my book have even been retweeted by overtly religious people and so I think that eventually someone with strong religious convictions will read it and will let me know their thoughts on the matter. I doubt this will be very pleasant but having written and self-published this work I have willingly put myself in this position. This, however, is not really the point of this post. The point is to talk about the influences on my writing and those to whom someone else (not me) might feasibly compare my work.

Now, I should not really compare my work to anyone else’s for it is not for me to make such comparisons. But, for the sake of argument, I’m going to start with the two names mentioned above. Now, it is an honour and a privilege to be mentioned in the same breath as late greats like Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett and, though I cannot say if I have succeeded, I do not for a moment doubt that my work has drawn on them both. Writing a comedy novel that involves God, demons, angels and humans it would be almost impossible not to be compared to Good Omens, the wonderful work by Mr. Pratchett and Neil Gaiman and, seeing as I have read almost everything published by all three of these authors I would also say that it would be very difficult indeed for me to not have them as influences when I am writing.

And, of all the authors whose work I love, Mr. Pratchett, Mr. Adams and Mr. Gaiman are indeed those to whom I most aspire to be compared. I have read the entirety of The Discworld from The Colour of Magic all the way to the last book, The Shepherd’s Crown. I consider The Graveyard Book to be one of Neil Gaiman’s finest works and I own a lovely hardcover copy that I intend to get signed by him when I get a chance. And the Hitchhikers guide was not only essential reading when I was growing up but something that I regularly return to when the mood takes me. These are the writers who have had the largest influence on me by some considerable distance and being spoken about in the same breath as any of these wonderful writers is an honour.

But there are also other authors whose work I always read and who I also consider to be influences on my writing. I have written another book, a science-fiction novel entitled ‘Balancing Act’, and in doing so have drawn on my love of science fiction including authors such as Alastair Reynolds, Paul Cornell and Stephen Baxter, all of whom I have been fans of for some time. And of course the late Iain M. Banks, whom I would also love to have met. His work will and should be an influence on anyone writing science fiction for many years to come. I have also read every book published by Christopher Brookmyre and intend to continue doing so. Other authors I enjoy include Mike Carey, Mark Haddon, Phillip Pullman and Robert Rankin. In my opinion one cannot be a writer until you have spent many years reading and I, like many authors, have torn my way through one book after another for as long as I can remember. I expect that I always will although my interests are now split between fiction, comics and non-fiction.

Now, I have obviously missed my chance to ever meet Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett and that I regret but there is nothing I can do about that now. Were I ever to meet Neil Gaiman, and I certainly intend to do so to get my copy of The Graveyard Book signed, I don’t even know what I would say. I suspect I would stand there, star struck and dumbstruck, wanting to tell him how much I adore his work and yet saying nothing. That is how I expect it to go but then he must get that all the time so I’m sure he’s used to it. I would also love to meet the other authors I have mentioned in this post and expect to be equally star struck by them. Actually, I look forward to it!

You know, now that I get towards the end of this blog post, I’m not even sure what the point of it was. But then it isn’t entitled ‘Ramblings’ for nothing, I suppose. I guess the point is this: if you read my novel, and I hope that you do, I am sure you will see influences in there that I am not even aware of. And if you do read it, and you enjoy it, then please let me know and post a review on whichever site from which you obtained it. I would very much like to know what you hear in my words and what you see in the story. I look forward to every review that someone sends me, even the ones that I probably won’t enjoy, but, as ever, we’ll see.

Check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on comics, politics, self-publishing and my novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’ which is out now at all electronic retailers! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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