In the Comic Footsteps of Douglas Adams

The Garden Wall - cover

A good comic science fiction novel by a university student. Available for free at the time of this writing, and an entertaining read.

The Garden Wall is Lichfield Dean’s first full-length novel. Reminiscent of works by Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams, the humorous science fiction tale is entertaining enough to be a decent read. A young female university student named simply Eradani is probably the main character. I say “probably” because the book opens with scenes featuring a number of characters and it takes a fair bit of reading before the young woman emerges as the most likely prospect for the job. This approach seems popular with indie writers. One wonders whether this is a deliberate ploy or today’s young authors suffer from a chronic inability to focus. Perhaps the idea is to demonstrate a new kind of “inclusive” storytelling. The influence of film, with its numerous short sequences and shifting viewpoints, may also be a factor here. In any case, the lack of a consistent viewpoint character gives the book a rambling incoherent feel that detracts from what could have been a much stronger tale.

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Silver Quill Blogger Award

The Silver Quill Blogger Award Icon

Katherine Givens has nominated me for the Silver Quill Blogger Award! It is a genuine pleasure to be so honoured by a young up-and-coming author and poet. Thank you, Katherine.

Honours always come with obligations so I will take care of these right away.

As per the award’s rules, I have answered the following questions:

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Classic Writers and Personal Computers

Among important writers of the past who would have welcomed and used personal computers?

Laptop computer surrounded by faces of classic authors

Word processor anyone? Would great writers of the past have welcomed personal computers? (Image: public domain.)

H. G. Wells was a great believer in science and progress. In fact, he was a science teacher until tuberculosis forced him to give up that profession. Always an early riser, and a disciplined writer who believed in regular daily production, he did all his work at a desk in his study. Writing came before all other tasks for the day. I see him as a definite candidate for a well-equipped desktop computer.

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The Tao of Writing

“A good artist lets his intuition lead him wherever it wants.” – Lao Tzu

Ancient drawing of Lao Tzu riding the ox

In practice, relying on intuition to guide your writing can lead you badly astray in ways that are hard to fix. (Image: public domain.)

In my experience, following your intuition can lead to poorly organized works of unwieldy size. Doesn’t that remind you of the movie, “The Princess Bride”? You know, the part in the fire swamp with the ROUS or “rodents of unusual size.” Big rats, in other words. Anyway, I started my first fantasy novel (still unfinished!) in the mid-nineties. I decided to write “off the cuff” (no outline, no plan – I was really big on Taoism in those days) and set myself the goal of writing six pages every evening. The pace was too much for me, yet three months or so later, I had 200 pages of prose on my trusty Macintosh Classic II (with the deluxe 40 MEGAbyte hard drive – quaint, yes?).

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How to Do a Messy Blog Startup and Be Happy

This blog is now three weeks old. In the beginning, I took some advice from a slick how-to-blog website and just plunged right in, opting for WordPress as the blog host and choosing the 2011 theme used to illustrate the article. Definitely a monkey see, monkey do scenario. As it happened, the advice was pretty sound.

Smug Cartoon Cat with High Tail

How it feels to be a 62 year-old blogger with three weeks experience under his belt! (Image: WPClipart)

I had been dithering over blog hosts for a couple of weeks and probably would have dithered over a lot more blogging aspects if not for that gentle shove. Instead, I’m now up and running with a real live blog, and while I’m not doing anywhere near as well as some others who got started around the same time (I have been looking over the fence at their greener grass), I am making progress (unlike some quickly abandoned blogs I have come across). I have a few likes, a handful of followers, and even a comment or two. Things are picking up.

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The Trouble with Modern Scientists

I’m a big believer in science, but in recent years a lot of mystical ideas have crept in – mostly by way of quantum mechanics, a “science” which is rapidly acquiring the characteristics of a mystical religion. To make matters worse, cosmologists have decided that the quantum world is a microcosm of the cosmos at large, thus migrating those mystical quantum beliefs into the macrocosm. Now our descriptions of the universe (dark matter, dark energy, string theory, parallel universes, large numbers of dimensions) begin to resemble mystical beliefs as well. I got to thinking about all this (and some other stuff) and wrote up the following list of – admittedly opinionated – complaints about modern scientists.

Einstein sticking out his tongue

The strangeness of quantum mechanics has inspired an inappropriate outburst of mysticism in scientific thinking. (Photo: public domain)

My beefs: (or is it beeves?)

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