Sunday, 23 October 2016

Book Review - Black Pine Creek by David Haynes

I always look forward to the latest release from this author, so much so that any new release of his shoots straight to the top of my TBR list. This latest release did the same, and certainly disappoint.One of the main factors for being such a fan is that he takes a familiar concept, but brings something new.

While reading the book I was struck by a possible new measure for horror books - would it still be a good read with the horror elements removed? And in this case it would. The tale of Scott Draper and his last chance mining operation is an interesting tale in itself. The camaraderie of the characters (with certain exceptions) provides an excellent basis. The characters are well realised with contrasting personalities fitting together to make a greater whole. Not all the team are as richly drawn, and a couple of the lesser characters could maybe had a bit more history.

The horror element is masterly woven throughout. I love horror that builds tension and atmosphere rather relying on cheap shocks, and the author delivers. There's a definite sense of menace around the mining camp, and the evolution of the story. I also liked the fact that the presence isn't revealed too early.The setting is different from his previous books, and the level of research shows from the details.

I enjoyed the pacing, and the quality of the writing is what I've come to expect. He has a real craft to his writing. The author stands as one of my favourite contemporary horror writers, a must read for any fans of the genre.

Gold is all Scott Draper knows. Gold and darkness. A lifetime of mining has broken his life, estranged him from his daughter and left two dead men behind.

One last opportunity might turn things around – an abandoned mine in the icy Alaskan wilderlands. If he can bring his old crew together to help, they could all end up rich.

Draper knows that darkness always follows the gold. What he doesn’t know is that something even darker than his past, something nightmarish and ravenous, is waiting for them all in the shadows of Black Pine Creek.

Click here to buy Black Pine Creek from Amazon

Currently Reading - In The Beginning by David Hadley

It’s a God’s life.
Albert Meadows, recently made redundant and tired of his disappointing life, is looking to make a new start and is desperate to find something worthwhile to fill his time.
So, what could be better than creating a brand new universe of his own, in his garden shed?
But, when he introduces intelligent life to his new universe, things don’t turn out as he planned, especially when the tribes on his planet each create their opposing gods in his image.
Now Albert must rescue the people on his creation from themselves and the warring religions they’ve created.
All before his people destroy each other in a war to end all wars over which version of Albert they believe in.

Click here to buy In The Beginning from Amazon

Tau Ceti Mission - 28.12.2647 - Bursts in the Sky

Seb reports that the Venti probe continues to degrade in this latest post:

It's a Matter of Balance from the Magic Owl Collection

It's all just a matter of balance with this cute t-shirt from the Magic Owl Collection.

Original artwork by Katie W. Stewart.

The t-shirt is available in black or white, and in children's sizes Small to XL, Ladies size's Small to XXL, and Men's sizes small to XXXL.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Five to Five Thousand Challenge - Ian Dingwall

This week's Five to Five Thousand Challenge is taken by Ian Dingwall. He's the senior writer for Elite: Dangerous (the game I work on as my day job) and looks after the GalNet news site for the game. He's also working on that elusive first novel! You can find out more about Elite: Dangerous here:

In Five Years

I think climate change will become an even more pertinent issue, but whether this will spur on efforts to find a solution is another matter. As the issue becomes harder to ignore, the challenge will not be convincing world powers to take action, but finding a way to act together, as a global society, to tackle the issue.

It seems safe to assume that technology will remain a central part of our lives, but I can’t help but wonder if a proportion of people might start to spurn technology, if only to set themselves apart socially.

Many current trends will continue into the near future, I suspect, including the continued rise of monopolistic conglomerates and the technological facilitation of everyday activities and transactions (like using your debit card to swipe through the Tube, for example); the little things that are slowly transforming the world around us.

In Fifty Years

I imagine by this point we’ll have reached a critical juncture with regard to the environment. Assuming a scenario in which climate change is more severe than at present, there will presumably be some advocating off-world colonisation. Whether or not such ideas are perceived as viable will depend to an extent on how much funding has been channelled into space exploration in the intervening years. Meanwhile, global overpopulation will continue to be a significant issue. Resources will dwindle and disease will almost certainly become more prevalent, not least due to the emergence of new antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

On a more positive note, I think electric cars will almost certainly have become commonplace, and perhaps even self-driven cars. Personally, I’d love to see a transport system like the one depicted in Minority Report – reliable, safe, and environmentally sound.

Generally speaking, we have a compulsion to move away from the values and conventions of our forebears. The self-centric values of the 1980s were in some respects a reaction to the utopian idealism of the 1960s and 1970s, so in societal terms I think we’ll see the emergence of a more reflective and less superficial culture in the next fifty years.

In five hundred years

When it comes to the far future, it’s tempting to imagine that the issues facing the present will have been overcome. If I’m optimistic about the future, it’s an optimism born of pragmatism – after all, the challenges facing us in the present are so significant, in five hundred years humanity will surely either have overcome them or perished.

I think in the next 500 years it could become possible to transfer a human consciousness into a computer, giving rise to an age of transhumanism. Naturally, such a development would have a transformative effect on civilisation. Would we embrace such a future, or would we find the reality of a non-biological existence abhorrent?

The development of artificial intelligence, which could also feasibly take place within the next 500 years, would be no less transformative, and raise just as many social and ethical questions. Personally, I lean towards the optimistic and assume that an artificial intelligence of our own creation wouldn’t perceive us as an enemy...although that’s not to suggest it would regard us benevolently, either.

In five thousand years

Since we’re now firmly in crystal ball territory, I’ll be a little less reserved in my predictions.

In five thousand years I think we could be sharing our solar system with a second, non-biological society – one that emerged from our experiments with artificial intelligence. Or perhaps this society, unhindered by biological constraints, will have set off into space, leaving us behind. Alternatively, biological life might have died out entirely – the result of either a cosmic catastrophe or a disaster of our own making. Our species might exist only in a transhuman state, in which case we too would be free to set off into space.

I think we’ll be less enthusiastic about space colonisation than we might currently imagine. Human beings will always need a connection to the natural world, I suspect – to see a blue sky overhead and feel the rain on their cheeks – and may baulk at the idea of living in space stations and off-world outposts.

But perhaps I’m simply being unimaginative. Perhaps terraforming will have become a reality, and we’ll be able to walk through fields of verdant grass on Mars. Only time will tell.

If you'd like to take part in the Five to Five Thousand Challenge then get in touch - you can email me at

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