Born during tiffin in the sea-side town of Cleethorpes, England, in the year nineteen-sixty. The shame and scandal forced the family to move immediately to Hong Kong. There spoke only Cantonese and some pidgin English and was a complete brat. At the end of the sixties was to be found on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. Still a brat. Finally learned to read and write under the strict disciplinarian regime of the Nicolson Institute and one Miss Crichton. Then spent a year living in Banham Zoo in Norfolk, swapping childhood imaginary friends for howler monkeys and gibbons. Literally in the zoo, to get home he had to go through the entry turnstiles, past the wolves, past the bears and past the penguins. Didn’t bother with the local school for the entire year, and school was grateful.
Found himself working for the English Civil Service. Was asked to leave by the Home Secretary’s secretary’s secretary’s secretary’s assistant. A few years of corporate life earned some more kind invitations to leave. Ran a few unfortunate companies. Went down the plug-hole with the global economy and found himself in court, bankrupt, with home, car and valuables auctioned off by H.M. Official Receivers. Lived for some years then by candlelight in a hedgerow in rural Lincolnshire as a peacenik vegan hippie drop-out. Now lives on a canal boat, narrowboat Cardinal Wolsey, rushing up and down England’s canals and rivers at slightly over two miles per hour. Wrestles with badgers.
Dog person not a cat person. Dogs and cats both know this.
Ancient folk takes updated to reflect true equality and rewritten to remove the overwhelming and thoroughly boring gynocentrism of the original versions. Stories with a little less emphasis on the princess and a lot more emphasis on the prince, just for a change. Politically incorrect, entirely the opposite of “WOKE”. Not the book for you if you require a "trigger warning".
Seven tales of England & the English Empire territories of Heaven and Hell collapsing and burning while the population sinks into insanity. Mix atomic annihilation with religion, politics and a nation on tranquilisers and you will surely get burned alive, eaten alive and denied a peaceful afterlife. Features strong male leads, political incorrectness, very little diversity, and a giggle or two.
This book is not about dogs, it is about characters much less well-adapted to the modern world than are either the Collie or the Labrador – it is about Englishmen. The tales are awfully modern and they are gruesomely old-fashioned. Ten slices of England’s brilliant future failures, each successfully consigned to the pre-apologetic past. It’s a reason to laugh and to cry at the same time.
This book is not entirely serious, and it's not entirely not serious. There’s only one cat (briefly) mentioned in the whole book, velociducks do not hunt in packs around English village ponds, and the Moon landing actually cost England a lot more than two hundred and fifty quid. Think Ealing comedy written by tweed-cap chaps in white laboratory coats, some of whom were on psychotropic substances.
Nglnd Xpx (or “England Expects”) is a wonky-wheeled pudding-trolley of sweetmeats and savoury treats for your brain-gland. We recommend a spoonful of everything. It’s all dreadfully civilised fun, and not at all serious. The science is improbable, the history inaccurate, the plots farcical and the fiction splendid.
on Aug. 18, 2013
I think that reading a good book is a bit like being a ghost haunting people and places that you previously didn't know existed - being blown like mist, from scene to scene, hoping to stay longer in some, catching just enough detail in others, but all the time with the author's hand guiding you carefully to show you what you need to know about events to make you content in your hauntings. Stonebridge Manor is one such.
The author provided a framework and just enough detail for my imagination to dress the scenes my way, like a play on a private stage with an audience of one. The action flowed well, so much so that I read the book at one long sitting. I had to read the whole thing because it was the only way to get to the other side and be able to continue with my own life without worrying about the characters.
Like life, the story irked at some points, tugged at my sensibilities at others, made me care, made me not care - just like the real lives of strangers do when you catch glimpses. The butler element is delicious, the English country home settings as comfortable as a well-stuffed armchair and I was happy, in my unbalanced non-PC way, for the murder to proceed as it did. There are no plot-holes. There are maybe half a dozen editing punctuation blips (which I only noticed because of my undiagnosed English language-OCD) and they do not detract from the story one iota. I can't write a description of sex for love or toffee and since I am, at age fifty-three, not yet halfway through English puberty I cannot vouch for their authenticity or detail and so can only comment that I had merely to shut my eyes for one or two lines, three or four times.
A splendid romp with elements of a very modern Downton Abbey, wisps of Tom Sharpe in his more serious moments and a soaking splash of light murder-detection that had me visualise the policemen involved as a gestalt of all of my favourite television coppers. I recommend this book; it's great entertainment.
Frost and Other Stories
on Dec. 25, 2013
Submit yourself to 'Frost and other stories' and you will like as not never again feel comfortable with Christmas. The collection is eclectic, the writing styles varied and the plots shockingly at odds with a 'season to be jolly'.
It is a roller-coaster ride of yuletide dystopia and from the opening story left me curled into the foetal position, whining and in great need of having my christmas cheer restored. There is blood, there is death, there is claustrophobia, there are drugs and a sufficiency of cold, lonely, isolated peril on a frozen mountainside - all of the usual ingredients of a family holiday.
I heartily recommend it.
on Feb. 03, 2014
I hugely enjoyed 'The Edge' and want more - if the sequel can't be found soon then I'll start a small riot.
The author has that knack of raising the reader's hopes and then dashing them and then raising them again. The text conveys just enough detail to allow the reader to picture the scene themselves and the characters are all likeable enough for the demise of almost any of them to be emotional. The settings range from the claustrophobic right up to full space-opera; from a small boy trapped in a subterranean hell-hole through to fleets of giant spaceships manoeuvring around planets and hyperspace. The main protagonist's character contains elements that we can all empathise with (of being both trapped by and formed by our past) and also has areas where I couldn't decide whether he was a gobsmackingly pragmatic hero or the scariest kind of sociopath (mass killing). How do you develop from a small boy hiding in a wardrobe to a military man making a gun barrel glow hot? The same we that we all do, I suppose.
Great "hard" scifi and a great story. Not many places where you can find that and an emotional, playful 50' industrial robot. Seriously, splendid stuff.
on Feb. 25, 2014
'The Wound' follows on from 'The Edge', and you will need to have read the earlier book to fully appreciate this one.
Both books feature solid, well-developed characters underpinned with flash-backs of their lives, and both books feature epic peril and epic space-based science fiction action. I read the earlier 'The Edge' as military sci-fi adventure where the focus seemed to me to be at the level of the humans and aliens involved, but all acted out in the course of enormous events. 'The Wound' kept that spotlight on the individual characters but also opened the focus more onto wider themes, bigger threats and dangers. From reading within the confines of my "pod" or my crew bunk or place on the bridge 'The Wound' led me more around other worlds, new worlds, wider space and bigger timescales. From enormous events affecting thousands we have been moved on to vast events affecting entire species. Splendid stuff.
My psyche includes trypophobia and an automatic physical recoil and pain reaction at anything squelchy or crunchy in the line of living tissue so a couple of points of the action had me pausing in my reading (to give me time to think about bunny rabbits and summer meadows, and to stop my own limbs from aching in sympathy and my flesh from itching on the inside). Even if you're not a mal-adjusted wuss like me these brief points will leave you with after-images.
'The Wound' includes the same neatly-described elements of space-opera as the earlier book, and it adds to those a talent for world-building and the description of alien daily domestic life. As I read these I couldn't help but skip back to my favourite Heinlein alien worlds, and the similar ways that the old Grand Master handled his human-alien interactions.
Highly recommended, and I'm very pleased to hear that there is to be a third book.