Storming – a review

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Time for another review – Storming by K.M. Weiland – the third novel from a writer whose website is a mine of writing gems. Her fiction writing certainly demonstrates all the craft that she mentors on her website. So on to the review:

Storming lives up to the blurb that inspired me, “Cocky, funny, and full of heart, Storming is a jaunty historical/dieselpunk mash-up that combines rip-roaring adventure and small-town charm with the thrill of futuristic possibilities.”

I was hooked from the opening, when a young woman falls from the clouds in front of Hitch Hitchcock’s biplane. Hitch is a pilot protagonist who has run away from his past, but now has to face it head-on as he tries to “save his Nebraska hometown from storm-wielding sky pirates.”

The young woman, Jael is mysterious and spunky, and tied to the pirates, which is craftily revealed. I wanted Hitch and Jael to fall for each other, but nothing is ever so easy, especially in one of K.M Weiland’s novels. I gave up trying to suss out what was going to happen next – after getting caught out in her first novel, “Behold the Dawn” [another recommended read]. She knows exactly how to make the twists pay off.

All the characters are memorable, including the supporting cast – I could really visualise the Berringer brothers. The young boy Walter adds a strong thread that kept me on the edge of my Kindle as his story weaves throughout, and he adds to the exhilarating climax.

Having read a few ‘steampunk’ novels, I relished the sky pirates and their strange weather-controlling airship, and their unusual language. At first, Jael speaks only this language and a smattering of English words, adding to the mystery of her and her people. I sensed a Slavic origin, and have my own theories, but read the novel and form your own.

K.M Weiland has written yet another novel that demonstrates that she ‘practises what she preaches’.

 

 

 

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Is there life or death in the Apocalypse?

Different World ~ Image courtesy of manostphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Different World ~ Image courtesy of manostphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Are you prepared for the apocalypse? Or have you been scared off?

On the one hand some people, especially agents, have had enough – or so they say. Yet, there are still books and movies in the apocalypse genre being released – e.g: The Colony. Is the genre going through an operatic death as the back-log dries up? Lead times in production are long, so in a year or two the apocalypse could have gone the way of vampires. What can we believe?

Unless it becomes reality – no longer the stuff of speculation.

I say this because I realise that I’ve been committing the mortal sin of writing in a supposedly dying genre. So what do I do? Admit that I’ve erred big time? Put the manuscript on a back burner for a few years? Turn it into a romantic comedy?

I keep wondering whether I can simply redefine it by changing the frame of reference. It’s not really post-apocalypse. Yes, there is a global disaster and society is breaking down. But there is hope. There are relationships. It goes beyond survival. But I’m not a hardened science fiction writer, who has ready every book in the genre. I’m an eclectic reader, hopping from mysteries, to fantasies, to historicals.

Apocalypse ~ Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Apocalypse ~ Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Of course, apocalypse has got a bad press – blame Hollywood. It’s often seen as the end of the world, a cosmic cataclysm as described in the Book of Revelation – or rather that’s the simplistic interpretation. According to the online Oxford English Dictionary the word originates from “…Greek apokalupsis, from apokaluptein ‘uncover, reveal’, from apo- ‘un-‘ + kaluptein ‘to cover’.”

So it’s all about a revelation – as the Book says. In a useful examination of the genre Fantasy Faction said, “The term apocalypse originally did not mean mass extinction, destruction and death, but rather related to enlightenment in a biblical sense. And before that, the term translated as “a great change.” 

Might be worth looking forward to – once we’ve got beyond War, Pestilence, Famine, and Death – plus zombies, aliens, Justin Bieber, and Kim Jong II.

Maybe my take is different enough from all those that have trod the path of apocalypse before me – not that I have read all the books in the genre… too many given my reading speed. For a pretty comprehensive list, see Michael White’s Chronological list.

I can claim to have read some of the definitive novels, such as John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids, Arthur C Clarke’s Childhood’s End, John Christopher’s No Blade of Grass, and Roger Zelazny’s Damnation Alley.

Apocalypse ~ Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Apocalypse ~ Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My attempt is called ‘Storm’s Compass’ and the collection of short stories will be Book 1 of The Gossamer Flames Saga. Provisional blurb is:

“What lies ahead when the world is devastated by a solar storm? Who will choose to build the future?

Eight tales of unfolding disaster have repercussions that will affect posterity. From the arid deserts of India and the United States, to the wild beauty of Norway, the future could be sown.

Storm’s Compass is post-apocalyptic fiction, with folklore in the shadows and greenpunk in the workings.”

What do you feel is the future of the apocalypse/post-apocalypse genre? Does ‘Storm’s Compass’ sound enthralling? Do you want to be among the beta readers?

Please tell me what you think in the comments.

Is the Challenge over?

When I woke this morning – Tuesday September 2nd – my body refused to co-operate. I was ready to give up all my writing challenges and escape. Does that make any sense?

Maybe it doesn’t if you read my last post on here… my last Insecure Writer’s Support Group post, when I wrote about the inspiration that keeps me going. However, it’s the first Wednesday of the month again and I have the doubts and the fears that we are meant to have conquered. Seems I am back to the struggle stage.

InsecureWritersSupportGroup2

Writing over the last month had been more about escaping into research… and into other worlds = MMORPGs – gaming. I had great plans for September: write at least one complete story in the Gossamer Flames series every week of the month. Not a lot in comparison with the 100k in 100 days Challenge that I’m failing at miserably and as usual. But this should be so much easier as it’s over a shorter period – just a month. It’s also less intensive than the A to Z Challenge, although that inspired many of the shorts in Gossamer Flames.

Creating a story a week is one bit of pressure that I have set for myself as part of the MS Challenge that runs in September – my Support Page is at https://www.justgiving.com/ChallengeMS2761/ . And two days in I was thinking of giving up, even if it is a central part of my Life Challenge… fighting the MonSter that wants my Life but mustn’t win.

If I have written four complete tales, and edited them, by the end of the month then I will have reached one goal – although some sponsorship would be a bonus.

And thanks to a comment, I’m re-inspired. The words made me visit a fascinating blogsite, where I read a wonderful article on Spirals http://jazzfeathersjewellery.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/spirals/. Following the trail to its creative conclusion, I bought my long-suffering wife a well-deserved present.

Steampunk Heart from JazzFeathers

Steampunk Heart from JazzFeathers

In case you hadn’t realised, this is my monthly post in IWSG and the awesome co-hosts for the September 3 posting of the IWSG will be Laura at My Baffling Brain, mark Koopmans, Shah Wharton, and Sheena-Kay Graham. And it’s IWSG’s three year anniversary of posting!

Oh you were expecting something else. Were you thinking I meant the Ice Bucket Challenge when I said Challenge in the title?

Yes that has dominated the media and is a worthy cause for ALS alias motor neurone disease, another neurological nightmare. Ice Water is also meant to be good for MS, except something cold like water sends me into spasms. If challenged I would sign the cheque and be inspired by Patrick Stewart’s Ice Bucket Challenge, jst as the Huffington Post were http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/22/patrick-stewart-ice-bucket-challenge-video_n_5701036.html.

There is also a link on the Huffington Post report to Benedict Cumberbatch who showed another way to NOT evade the Ice Bucket Challenge. How to douse a dragon?

 

Welcome to the Gossamer World

Photo of a cloud illuminated by sunlight. ~ by Ibrahim Iujaz from Rep. Of Maldives

Photo of a cloud illuminated by sunlight. ~ by Ibrahim Iujaz from Rep. Of Maldives

For some months I have been posting about my “Gossamer Steel” world, but now that world has evolved. Welcome to its new incarnation.

Gossamer Flames” is a series of short stories and novellas set in the post-apocalyptic world that arises after a catastrophic event leaves the planet ravaged and divided. Society is forced to adapt to a changed world where the surviving enclaves need to make use of their remaining resources. Only two regions are known to survive, Bhārata, formerly the Indian sub-continent, and The Country, comprising parts of Scandinavia. However, there are pockets of survivors in other areas, including within the desert areas of North America, in some remote mountainous regions of the Andes, and on some islands. Most of these are totally isolated from each other post the apocalypse.

The two principal enclaves of The Country (Scandinavia) and Bhārata (India sub-continent) have adopted economies that are regenerative and structured around renewable energy. Bhārata has the advantage of being built on the Republic of India’s self-reliance policy, although it is also hampered by the scale of the challenge. In The Country myths have come alive again and permeate society, but not all the forces favour re-building the world. The Ravagers, the people that pushed the technological fixes and exploitation of the Earth, are committed to destroying the greenpunk solutions that could be the future.

My 2014 posts in the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge focused on various aspects in this future world, which at that point was still called Gossamer Steel, as in the Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) that provides the mystery in my cyber-crime novel “Wyrm Bait”. In the MMORPG the two main playing zones are Bhārata and The Country and the game touches on aspects of the tales.

MY BLOGGING FROM A TO Z APRIL CHALLENGE 2014 POSTS:

A is for Array ~ B is for the Blood-Marked ~ C is for Corylus Avellana ~ D is for Duskweald ~ E is for Energy ~ F is for Feeniks ~ G is for Garuda ~ H is for Herders ~ I is for Ithaka ~ J is for Junk ~ K is for Kitsune ~ L is for Lorelei ~ M is for Mojave ~ N is for Native~ O is for Outcasts  ~ P is for Punk ~ Q is for Quisling ~ R is for Ragnarök ~ S is for Seiðr ~ T is for Technology ~ U is for Urdu~ V is for Vidda ~ W is for Windsong ~X is for Xerarch ~ Y is for Yggdrasil  ~ Z is for Zephyr

Although “Gossamer Steel” had a good ring as a game, I felt that I needed a different title for the series of tales. An author needs a title that doesn’t require explaining, just one that sparks interest. I suggested various options to my followers, and after assessing your feedback, Gossamer Flames seemed the most appropriate and the most popular. Warning – explanation ahead!!

Dewy Cobweb ~ by Norman Hyett

Dewy Cobweb ~ by Norman Hyett

Gossamer as in spider silk that makes such intricate webs, although technically gossamer is the silk used by spiderlings for ballooning or kiting to reach other locations. Spiders are often among the first inhabitants to recolonize a devastated area. Thus after an apocalypse Gossamer allows for new life and in my stories it also reflects the light touch of healing the planet. However, spider silk is both delicate and strong, exhibiting a unique combination of high tensile strength and extensibility. Most important, weight for weight, spider silk is stronger than steel, thus a force that cannot be ignored even amid the harshness of industrial solutions to the devastating problems remaining. Steel then is a contrast to Gossamer but I needed something even more evocative, hence ‘Flames’.

Flames have multiple meanings as in energy and passion as well as the destructive sense.  Flames can also generate ‘steam’, which covers the Steampunk’ elements in some of the tales. Flames can be both the devastating forces that threaten the world from the outset, and the passions that drive many of the characters forward towards the Renascence at the end.

~

As my Gossamer Flames tales are released, I will post more details on the new Gossamer Flames page.

 

T is for Technology

T

T is for Technology: In the world of Gossamer Steel the resource-hungry technology of the 20th century has been forced to give way to low impact technologies with innovations that lean towards steampunk, solarpunk and greenpunk.

Wikipedia says, “Technology (from Greek τέχνη, techne, “art, skill, cunning of hand”; and -λογία, -logia) is the making, modification, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems, and methods of organization, in order to solve a problem, improve a pre-existing solution to a problem, achieve a goal, handle an applied input/output relation or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, including machinery, modifications, arrangements and procedures. Technologies significantly affect human as well as other animal species’ ability to control and adapt to their natural environments…”

From the wheel to cybernetics, technology has been used for both the positive advancement of society, and for the exploitation of people and destruction of the environment. Most of these technological advances have been since the Industrial Revolution in the 18th Century, although prior to that there were some pivotal advances made in many parts of the world. However, the rapid advance in technological progress has depleted many precious finite resources. With the growing threat of global warming, another approach is needed and humanity already holds the knowledge to apply beneficial technology, like alternative energy sources, to advance forwards. [See also E is for Energy & M is for Mojave]

Printing press from 1811. ~ Photographed in Deutsches Museum Munich, Germany

Printing press from 1811. ~ Photographed in Deutsches Museum Munich, Germany

T is also for Tamil, the inhabitants of the southern areas of Bhārata (India sub-continent), and followers of the Dravidian League.

PREVIOUS A TO Z POSTS:

A is for Array ~ B is for the Blood-Marked ~ C is for Corylus Avellana ~ D is for Duskweald ~ E is for Energy ~ F is for Feeniks ~ G is for Garuda ~ H is for Herders ~ I is for Ithaka ~ J is for Junk ~ K is for Kitsune ~ L is for Lorelei ~ M is for Mojave ~ N is for Native~ O is for Outcasts  ~ P is for Punk ~ Q is for Quisling ~ R is for Ragnarök ~ S is for Seiðr

*

The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behaviour.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on. Please visit other challenge writers.

My theme is ‘The World of Gossamer Steel, the SF-fantasy setting for a series of short stories and novellas that portray the tales behind the MMORPG that is central to my crime novel ‘Wyrm Bait’.

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2014] (1)

P is for Punk

P

P is for Punk: P should have been all about Punk as in Steampunk, solarpunk, greenpunk, and even elfpunk, which are all part of Gossamer Steel.

But instead…

P is for Positive thinking, Plagued by Pathetic failure to Provide Phonic Provision = Pissed off with Phone-Internet company = BT have told us it will be mid-June before our Phone & internet is installed = Preposterous.

Also P is for PlusNet, a light in our tunnel we hope.

iRetrofone - Steampunk iPhone Handset

iRetrofone – Steampunk iPhone Handset

PREVIOUS A TO Z POSTS:

A is for Array ~ B is for the Blood-Marked ~ C is for Corylus Avellana ~ D is for Duskweald ~ E is for Energy ~ F is for Feeniks ~ G is for Garuda ~ H is for Herders ~ I is for Ithaka ~ J is for Junk ~ K is for Kitsune ~ L is for Lorelei ~ M is for Mojave ~ N is for Native ~ O is for Outcasts

*

The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behaviour.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on. Please visit other challenge writers.

My theme is ‘The World of Gossamer Steel, the SF-fantasy setting for a series of short stories and novellas that portray the tales behind the MMORPG that is central to my crime novel ‘Wyrm Bait’.

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2014] (1)