Chitika

Top 5 video games of 2012

on Monday, 31 December 2012
It's that time of year when we count milestones and reflect on the last 12 months. 2012 has been a pretty eventful year for gaming, and buried under all the inadvisable sequels and cash-grab franchises were some pretty outstanding games. Since I don't own any games consoles (or a TV...), they're all PC games.

1. The Walking Dead


The Walking Dead is a 3D point-and-click adventure game based on the comics (but not on the TV show) of the same name, and sees you take control of Lee, a convicted criminal who is suddenly thrust into the zombie apocalypse with the responsibility of taking care of a little girl he just met. It has pretty basic game mechanics, but you are often thrust into unexpected and tense situations requiring quick thinking and sharp reflexes. The game is more about the story, though, and plays somewhat like an interactive TV show, where you are presented with choices that affect the story. Your choices don't ultimately affect how the story unfolds that much, but they seriously affect how you feel about what choices you've made and it deliberately makes you reflect on them and face the consequences. The writing and voice acting are absolutely outstanding and it gets my vote for game off the year without hesitation. I must just nominate it for one of the best games of the last decade.

2. Analogue: A Hate Story


 

Analogue: A Hate Story is a visual novel set in the distant future after mankind has started to send out generational colony ships into deep space. You communicate with a long lost and deserted colony ship and find out what happened to the passengers from the ship's two AIs. It is an intriguing tale of family obligations, women's rights and political intrigue, drawing parallels from ancient Korean culture. It does a really good job of letting you piece together the story of a group of families and gaining insight into their thoughts through their personal computer entries. The game also features a really tense "hacking" mini-game in which you have to stop the ship's reactor core from going into melt-down, which I thought was a really nice touch.

3. Planetside 2



 It's not always about the story, sometimes you just want to run around shooting each other and blasting things with tanks. Planetside 2 is an unashamed action first person shooter on a ridiculous scale, with three factions all vying for control of three large continents. I used to love online shooters, but in the past decade they have felt stagnant and stifled by outdated map design, and Planetside 2 is a breath of fresh air. It's not perfect, they still have a lot of bugs to iron out and some more vehicle and weapon variety would be nice but for now it's enough just to enjoy dropping into a battle with potentially hundreds of people all battling it out over control of a facility. Oh, and did I mention it was free?

4. Gnomoria



Technically I am cheating with this entry, since the game is still in alpha and hasn't been released yet, but I think it should be allowed. Gnomoria is a city building sim-come-god game in which you order about a colony of gnomes as they set up a fortress for themselves and build an economy. It might sound familiar to some of you, as it is quite keenly inspired by the gargantuan Dwarf Fortress, a game so full of depth that it is almost impossible not to rip it off in some way. Gnomoria attempts to be a more accessible counterpart to its older brother, most notably with a very intuitive mouse interface, whilst still retaining its idea of Fun (ie. it's fun to lose). The point of the game is for your colony of gnomes to survive the onslaught of starvation, thirst and goblin attacks for as long as possible, and the Fun is seeing how it will fall (as well as the hilarious battle logs). As I said, it's in alpha stage and still has a lot of features to be added but it is shaping up to be a great game, with plenty of replay value.

5. FTL


As a Star Trek fan, FTL is a bit of a dream game. You control a ship and order the crew about manning stations, and jump around the galaxy fighting off enemies and trading scrap for parts. It's a simple game in its execution, but it is devilishly difficult and will punish you just for the sake of it, earning the title "rougelike-like". The battles are tense as you order your crew around to take on intruders, seal hull breaches and put out fires before they run out of oxygen and the end boss battle is exciting and requires a bit of tactical play. Oh, and you can name your captain "Picard" if you like.

There have been many exciting games that I haven't got around to playing this year, such as Dishonoured, Sleeping Dogs and Mark of the Ninja, and with 2013 shaping up to be an exciting year with GTA5 and a new SimCity (about damn time) it seems my backlog is just going to get longer and longer. Thanks for reading, and post in the comments what your favourite game of 2012 was if you have one.

Exile from the Gleaming City: available in print and eBook now.

on Friday, 16 November 2012
 I haven't made a post in a while because I have been busy squirrelling away at various pieces, and I wanted to make sure they were perfect before I revealed them.

I have published a novella and it is available now on Lulu.com in print and eBook formats. Here's the blurb:

Colin always stood out in the Gleaming City, in that he was ordinary in every way. He lived a sheltered existence, hidden away in the recesses of the city’s bureaucracy, until one day they finally found an excuse to get rid of him...
Exile from the Gleaming City is a melancholy tale of an average office worker who is ripped from his isolated life and cast into an unfamiliar world where he must learn to survive with his limited knowledge and skills, encountering strange people and places along the way.






You can buy a printed copy by clicking this button: Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Alternatively you  can purchase it as an eBook in pdf format by clicking this button: Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.


This book is perfect for a relaxing afternoon's read, and with Christmas coming up you could support a budding author and buy that avid reader you know an obscure piece of fiction. I have other works in the pipelines so I'll be sure to keep everyone updated, thank you for all your support.

EURO 2012

on Monday, 2 July 2012
It may be a surprise to know that an artistic soul such as myself enjoys sports, however if you watch the way Spain play football and the manner in which they won EURO 2012 you'd surely acknowledge the game they play is pure artistry. Oh and that's football as in soccer for my American readers, although every time you use that word a British child dies so please be sparing.

So as an English person, I of course watched this competition with bated breath, waiting for the inevitable moment when we would be knocked out so that I could relax and enjoy the football. Our reaction to poor results in recent years was to hire an old fashioned English manager and adopt a style of football so rigid and without imagination we could simply bore our opponents off the pitch. Needless to say, it didn't work. It does make me worry about the state of our game when we have one of the most entertaining domestic leagues in the world yet we can't scrape together a team that can even compete at major tournaments. It's clear we need a big overhaul of our system, and that it's going to be a long time before we win anything. That's OK though, that's just part of being English.

In stark contrast, the winners Spain show how football should be played. Football aficionados will tell you that Spain play the best passing game they have ever witnessed, and I would agree with them. If only we had a time machine so we could see them pitted against the Brazil team of 1970, what a match that would be. I think the Spanish team of 2012 might just edge it though, and the scariest thing is a lot of the players are in their prime, so it could be a long time before we see a competition being won by anyone else. I might just place my bet for Spain to win the next world cup right now.

So congratulations Spain, and if your country was knocked out like mine, don't feel too bad: we didn't stand a cat in hell's chance.

My body hates me

on Saturday, 23 June 2012
So I haven't posted in nearly two months, that's bad of me. Well, I have reasons. Namely, I've had horrible pain in my shoulder/back from a combination of RSI and years of terrible posture. My fellow computer addicts will probably know my pain.

Anyway, about two months ago my entire right shoulder and right side of my upper back was throbbing and burning and aching all at once, all day every day. It turns out I had an RSI in my rotator cuff (shoulder muscles) from over-reaching for the computer mouse, as I didn't have a proper desk. Combined with that, slouching has shortened my pectoral muscles in my chest and severely weakened my rhomboid muscles in my upper back (the anatomy lesson is free) and reaching for the mouse all day had strained my rhomboids as well, causing all kinds of horrible pain.  I basically broke my body.

So, I bought a (very cheap) proper desk and switched to using my left hand for mouse work for about a month, and almost completely rested my right arm, as well as forcing myself into a good posture. Yes, I'm that addicted to using a computer I just switched arms. Oh well.

I have been doing chest stretching exercises and upper back exercises for about a week and the pain is almost gone, I can use the mouse with my right hand again and type at more than 10 words per minute, so I suppose I can start blogging again, if you'll have me.

A warning for others: don't neglect your body or it will punish you without mercy. If you slouch, you might consider doing some of these every day:


Or just, you know, sit up straight like your mother told you.

Quit smoking.

on Sunday, 6 May 2012
It has been nearly 48 hours since my last cigarette, hopefully ever. I smoked for the best part of a decade, and figured it was time I knocked it on the head. 

 I actually wanted to wean myself off nicotine with patches, but on checking my bank balance and finding it to be zero, I was forced to go cold turkey. It's really not fun, I can tell you, last night I felt like hell, my whole chest was on fire and I felt like bursting into tears every five minutes. They say nicotine is as addictive as heroin, and you find that hard to believe about an over the counter drug, but until you go through withdrawals you have no idea. To be fair, I haven't gone through heroin withdrawals, and I'm sure it's much worse, but still. Bad times.

 Today I've felt much better, my cravings are down to a small nagging sensation, my chest feels a lot better and I've gotten rid of all my smoking paraphernalia (I didn't do this straight away like you're supposed to, it was like a security blanket) and I honestly think I've done it. 

 I have "quit" before, for a few weeks here and there, but I think that was before I was addicted because I never went through anything like what I've gone through in the past couple of days. This time it's for good though, I'm sure of that. Party in my lungs, and everyone's invited. 

Fairies

on Tuesday, 24 April 2012
Haven't posted in a while. Strictly through laziness on my part, my bad. Hopefully this short story I've been writing the past few days will make up for my absence.

Fairies
There were fairies at the bottom of Abby’s garden, although she didn’t know that yet. It was an average British spring afternoon, warm enough to be outside but with the threat of rain in the air, and Abby was sitting on her back doorstep poking at cracks with a stick. Poking things with a stick is a source of unending fun for a nine year old, and cracks are a marvel to be explored, potentially filled with treasures or horrors of equal awe. For a child of her age, the most mundane things take on a veneer of the magical, behind every action and object is a fantastical world that exists only for her. Imagine her amazement then, when she heard a faint tinkling noise, like a pocketful of coins being dropped, and three tiny, beautiful winged girls shimmered into existence at the other end of the garden.

Stand up comedy.

on Monday, 16 April 2012
I'm a big fan of stand up comedy, ever since I was a little kid watching the likes of Ben Elton on TV and listening to my mother's Bill Hicks LPs. Yes, I'm getting old. When people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always answered "comedian". It's true, I enjoyed and still enjoy making people laugh, but I think the comedy is not the main reason why I love stand up comedy so much.

As I've grown older and absorbed books by the hundreds, I've developed a real passion for language that I think was always burgeoning under the surface. For me, stand up comedians display incredible wordsmithing, and all the best test out new material, gauge its reaction and go away and re-write, test and re-write until it's perfect; until the sentences are structured to flow perfectly, giving the audience the right pause to laugh in, delivering the punchline at just the right moment.

I really admire that, the mastery over language, and the immediate reward you get for it. With creative writing it can be a long time before you get any kind of feedback on what you've written from your audience, but with stand up comedy they're right there in front of you.

If you're not following me, watch this video of George Carlin and let me know what you think:



That monologue gives me goosebumps every time. I miss ya, George.

I don't think I'll ever follow my childhood dreams of being a famous comedian, since I have the charisma of a damp cloth, but I still get immense enjoyment out of stand up shows. Who's your favourite stand up?

Screw it, cats.

on Saturday, 14 April 2012
Some days, you just want to post cats.




In summary, cats are awesome.

Boring personal thingies because I've been lazy.

on Monday, 9 April 2012
So I haven't gotten much any work done this weekend, I kind of gave myself the weekend off with it being Easter, so this is just some boring details about how I spent the holiday.

I didn't get any eggs, which I'm fine about because I find them grotesquely overpriced for what you actually get, but my brother did bring me some chocolate on Friday which was nice of him. My brother is a pretty good artist btw, and you should check out his stuff. His latest post has a promo video that I cut together for one of his pieces, for free I might add. I'm generous like that.

I did have some traditional Easter food though, a fish pie on Good Friday and some lamb and venison on Sunday. Normally I wouldn't eat anything so extravagant as venison, but I was perusing the discount meat isle in ASDA and a shelf stacker plonked it down in front of me while I was routing through the nearly-off treasure and I couldn't resist.

So that's about it for my thrilling, non-stop action Easter weekend. How was your Easter?

Concentra- ooh shiny things

on Wednesday, 4 April 2012
I think years of internet abuse have destroyed my ability to concentrate for more than half an hour on something. I didn't have computers or video games growing up, so I spent the vast majority of my childhood with my nose in a book. As an adult, I suppose I've rebelled against my empoverished upbringing and embraced technology, spending hours every day pouring over websites and whiling away the hours watching colourful video games blink entertainment into my brain.

As a writer, having such a terrible attention span is very detrimental. I try to set myself goals for writing: "Today I will write 1000 words! At least!" but often it turns out to be "Hell, I've written 100 words, I can reward myself with some [insert mindless entertainment here]".

I'm planning to finish a novel in 2012, and I've been doing well so far, but some days it feels like it might be more like 2015 before it's finished. Perhaps it's time to go ask my doctor for some Ritalin. Right now though, I've got some shiny things to go stare at.


Bullshit detector.

on Tuesday, 3 April 2012
Somewhat inspired by Carl Sagan's Baloney Detection Kit I've come up with a more entry-level guide to discern whether someone is telling you a load of bullshit. These are phrases or words that people usually use to prefix a statement that they have just pulled out of their arse. I hope you find them useful.
  • "Probably" or "Maybe"
Any statement beginning with these words is pure guess work. It means "I don't really know, but I'm going to give you an answer anyway so I don't look like I don't know anything about this subject". It's possible it's an educated guess, that's just something you have to work out based on the person you're talking to.
  • "Scientists have proven"
Oh really? Which scientists? Which study are you referring to? Don't get me wrong, I'm a great proponent of science, but unless you're going to back this up with some sources, I'm going to assume it's bullshit that you're attempting to give credence by throwing the S word around.
  • "Helps" or "Promotes"
This one is usually specific to products, and it's used by cosmetics advertisers a lot. It's a way of making a claim, without actually making it. "This cream helps prevent aging." "This drink promotes healthy bowels." Those words are key to absolving any responsibility for the products not living up to their claims, and in fact if they actually made those claims outright, then the products would be considered medicines and would have to have a wealth of clinical data to back them up. If you see a product advertised with these words, chances are it does precisely nothing.
  • "As a woman"
Before you jump down my neck, I'm not having a go at women. Some women do say this though, before a statement of their opinion, like it gives it any more weight. You may have different experiences of things as a woman, but womanhood is not something you earned or worked at, it's a simple matter of biology. You could use "In my experience" and retain some credibility, but "As a woman" means that you believe your opinion is somehow worth more because of your DNA and that those who don't share your double X chromosomes couldn't possibly understand.
  • "I find that offensive"
Usually followed by a statement explaining their views on the matter. People who say this seem to think that because they are offended by an opposing view, that their view is the correct one and they wont accept anything contrary to that, because it's "offensive". You can justify any bullshit you want by claiming to find any counter-point "offensive", simultaneously putting forward your view as if it were the morally correct choice and making the other guy out to be a bad guy.

Of course there are hundreds of other ways to tell if someone is bullshitting you, but the ones listed here are pretty fool-proof, so now you know when to spot them. Here's what you do when it comes up:


Pasty tax

on Friday, 30 March 2012
In Britain, the government's new budget plan includes charging 20% VAT on all hot takeout food from October, and it's been dubbed as the "Pasty Tax". Honestly, I'm devastated by this news, if it means even the possibility that I wont be able to afford to get my pasty lunch that I so enjoy. In a budget that included tax breaks to supposedly benefit lower and middle class people, slapping a massive tax hike on pasties just spits in the face of those very same people. Any British person will tell you that pasties (and other takeaway foods like good old fish 'n' chips) are an important part of our culture and diet, and this tax could seriously put a lot of businesses at risk. This news report contains some thoughts from the CEO of Greggs, a popular bakery chain:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/mar/29/pasty-tax-threat-bakers-march?newsfeed=true
"My concern is that many small bakers – independent bakers – have (already) gone to the wall. The bakery industry has always been a key part of the high street."
Greggs will be starting their own campaign to block this tax increase, and there is already a petition on the government's epetitions website here:

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/32044

I urge any Brits out there to sign this petition if you value your delicious pastry snacks.

My amazing cartography skills.

on Tuesday, 27 March 2012
Just thought I'd share this map I drew as a reference for my novel. It shows the main continent of Aftraer on Gaia and the location of the main city and such. It took over 9000 hours in MSpaint and I'm very proud of it:


It was just a quick doodle to visualise the landscape of the alien world, and something I can add to as more places are involved in the story. Maybe I'll even have it drawn up properly as an accompaniment to the book: if there's one thing I know about sci-fi nerds is that they fucking love maps. Or at least, I do.

Spring has sprung.

on Monday, 26 March 2012
Spring is definitely my favourite time of year. I suffer from seasonal affective disorder, so when Spring comes around it's like a huge lift to my spirits.

The sun shines, but it's not too hot. The rain falls, but it's not too cold. Everything springs to life, but you don't get swarmed by bugs. It's truly a just-right time of year, like baby bear's porridge, and not having to funnel every spare penny into the gas meter so I don't freeze to death is a definite plus.

I always feel more productive at this time of year, I'll be spending today sat by the sunny window writing and pondering the plants in the garden.

A landmark, of sorts.

on Sunday, 25 March 2012
It would seem that I have reached over 10,000 words for my novel.

I was worried before I started, this being my first novel, that I wouldn't be able to write enough, that it would end up being too short. Now perhaps I'm thinking I might need to be more concise. It is tough sometimes to know when to go into more detail and when to shut up and get on with the story. I often look like this when I writing:


In any case, it means I'm a good chunk into a project I wasn't sure I could finish to start with, so to speak, and an end product is in sight. Feels pretty good.


I have a problem

on Friday, 23 March 2012
Hello, my name is Tegan and I'm addicted to Football Manager. As you can see, I have been playing my current save game since November, and have literally spent 23 days, 2 hours and 45 minutes of my life playing it.


I swear it's more addictive than cigarettes. Just one more cup tie...

Excerpt from "Homo Aethereus"

on Tuesday, 20 March 2012
An excerpt from the novel I am writing, a bit of the back story for the main setting of the book - a planet named Gaia in the Tau Ceti system.

There was incredible excitement on Earth when Gaia was discovered, akin to the discovery of the Americas in the 17th century: people thought of the possibilities, the opportunities, the wonder of a new world. They thought of a virgin world, untouched by man, a blank canvas crying out for the touch of a brush. A new sky.

A routine unmanned investigation of the Tau Ceti system, always thought to be devoid of life, had discovered the planet against all odds. The system had been observed before, and it was concluded that due to the level of debris in the system it would be highly unlikely that life on any Earth-like planet could survive the constant bombardments from asteroids. The system had never been studied this closely, however. An unmanned probe was sent to explore the system in 2187, planetary geologists at most hoping to collect some samples of the debris field, certainly not hoping to find planetary bodies. When the probe started sending back images of the system, what they revealed rocked the scientific community, and indeed the world at large. In the debris field that orbited the Sun-like star, there orbited a gas giant planet. The idea of a gas giant planet orbiting Tau Ceti had been postulated before, but now you could see it with your own eyes. The real discovery, however, had come when the probe had carefully navigated its way through the debris field into the “habitable zone” of the star. Suspended in orbit around the glowing yellow dwarf, was a brilliant, unscathed, shining blue globe surrounded by the unmistakable haze of atmosphere. The observatory that first received these images was frozen in stunned awe, quite unable to believe what they were seeing. Of course, Earth-like planets were always deemed possible, and indeed probable, but this planet was within spitting distance on a galactic scale. The search began for answers as to how this planet’s existence was even possible.

Procrastination

on Saturday, 17 March 2012
Did some writing today, but it's all been about Rollercoaster Tycoon 3.


Just look at all those awesome rides, how could I get any work done? Look how much fun Data and Geordie are having playing it on their consoles:



The day the world ended

on Tuesday, 13 March 2012
After a flash of inspiration I typed out this short story, but I swear it feels like I've plagiarised some episode of the Twilight Zone or something because it seems so familiar. Awaiting a lawsuit as soon as I press Publish Post:

The day the world ended

There was a man who knew when the world was going to end. He didn’t question how he knew, or even how it was going to happen. He just knew a date, and time, after which there would be nothing. At first it was disconcerting, as you could imagine. Imagine if you knew when the world was going to end, an absolute certainty in your mind. Like the man, you would first dismiss it as a bad dream or an over-active imagination. Then, as realisation sets in that it was an undeniable fact, panic sets in: you try anything you can to try and prevent it, but knowing that you can’t leaves you wondering what else is there to do. If the world is going to end, what is the point of living? The man had almost given up everything at one point, almost ended his life just to relieve the burden he was carrying. Finally, though, he accepted the fate and saw himself with a responsibility: to warn others.

Excerpt

on Saturday, 10 March 2012
Just posting an excerpt from an old abandoned novel idea I was working on a while ago:

Phillip turned off the stove and extracted the sausages from the frying pan, carefully arranging them on two slices of slightly stale bread. There was more fat left in the pan than he had added to cook the sausages, a sure sign that one should possibly reconsider their choice of breakfast.

“Now this is a breakfast fit for a king,” he said to no one in particular. Phillip lived alone; in fact he spent much of his time alone. Truth be told, he probably couldn’t tell you the last time he met with friends or spoke with his family. He liked it that way; he was his own man; no one to tell him what to do, no compromises to make. He did what he wanted, when he pleased. He was about to get the chance to do something that pleased him greatly, as there was a knock on his front door.

Eureka

on Thursday, 8 March 2012
Just a celebratory post to say that I have found a name for my novel that I am happy with. I shan't post it just yet, lest someone steal it haha. For now, let's dance.

Organ Trail

on Wednesday, 7 March 2012
Advertising (for free, I might add) another indie game that I have had the pleasure of playing, Organ Trail. Yes I am doing some major procrastinating and playing vidya instead of writing, but oh well.

Anyway, Organ Trail is like Oregon Trail but with zombies; you have to get from one side of the USA to the other without getting killed by zombies and without running out of supplies. It's not epic adventures and the graphics are basic, but it's a fun game to entertain you for an hour or two. It's also free and you can play it in your browser here: http://www.hatsproductions.com/organtrail.html

Katawa Shoujo

on Sunday, 4 March 2012

I feel the need to publicise this, although it is already quite popular I want to share it with as many people as I can. Katawa Shoujo is a visual novel about a teenage boy who suffers a heart attack and is sent to a school for children with special needs and disabilities. It centres around his romance with some of the girls there, you make a few choices along the way that decide who he ends up with.

I was a complete newcomer to the visual novel genre when playing this, and its Japanese manga style is not my usual thing, but after playing through a couple of times I am so very glad that I picked this up. Each girls' story has it's own theme, often with heart wrenching emotions on display. I am not too concerned with masculine bravado to admit that I have shed real tears while seeing these stories unfold.

Even if it's not your usual style (it certainly isn't mine), I suggest you give it a go. I found it a very enlightening experience. It's free to download from the official website:

http://katawa-shoujo.com/

Title, title, my kingdom for a title...

on Saturday, 3 March 2012
I'm aiming to finish my first novel this year and self-publish it, but what stumps me the most is thinking up a title for the damn thing.

It has to be something gripping, that makes the potential reader double take and think "hmm that sounds interesting". Easier said than done.

It also has to be unique, you have to be able to type the title into a search engine and have it pop up as the first result. Everything I think of seems to have already been used.

It's quite frustrating.



The April Reader

on Friday, 2 March 2012


The latest issue of The April Reader is out, in this issue you'll be able to read about a farmer's persistant struggle with a rock, one young girl's upbringing with her mud wrestler mom in England and a story about a lovers kiss between two young girls.

TAR publishes work from amateur authors and always has something different and interesting to read. It's free to download, check it out.

http://www.theaprilreader.org/march2012.html

Writer's block

on Thursday, 1 March 2012

Ideas

on Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Ideas come to us all at one time or another, but how we deal with them is different.

With writers, it seems the most prevalent way is to always keep a pen and paper nearby to quickly jot down what springs to mind. I don't like to do this, to be honest it's always frustrated me how long it takes me to get ideas down on paper (or a computer screen). I always put it down to nerves, like perhaps I think my idea wasn't good enough.

I've come to realise though, that it's more a personal preference. To me, scribbling something down as soon as it enters your head seems like a miscarriage of thought, as if it's not ready to come out yet. I mean, if we all just blurted out the first thing that came to mind, the world would be a pretty unpleasant place (just see how much Tourettes sufferers struggle).

Rage

on Saturday, 25 February 2012
I sit alone in my room, with just the light of a cheap fluorescent bulb in a lamp I bought from a charity shop. I listen to Holst’s Planet Suite through headphones. The first track is Mars, Bringer of War, a piece uncannily representative of my current mood. It conveys a sense of senseless, unrelenting aggression, of pure, impotent rage. I have had these feelings for a while, although I’m not sure exactly how long. The problem is that I have nothing to be angry at besides myself, for the situation I find myself in. Not too long ago, I had great hopes for my future. Well perhaps not great hopes, but hopes at least. I had graduated from university with a good grade, I was hopeful that this would at least offer me a foot in the door to some more lucrative work than had been available to me beforehand. I should have realised that things are rarely that simple.

Why I don’t like Christmas

on Friday, 24 February 2012
I don’t like Christmas. Anyone who knows me will tell you this. What they might not know is the reason why.

Setting aside all religious reasons for the simple fact that I am not religious, I see no point to celebrate Christmas. Lots of non-religious people celebrate it, and they often come up with reasons why.

One of the main reasons is “well, it’s winter, everything is cold and dark, you might as well have something to celebrate, right?” I hate this reason. I mean, let me get this straight: it’s cold and dark, maybe five or six useful hours of daylight, everything is dead and it’s pretty miserable, so let’s all pretend like it isn’t? Let’s all sing songs and get drunk and stuff our faces and pretend like the world outside isn’t cold and dark. To most people this probably sounds like a good idea, but to me it seems disingenuous, unhealthy even. If something is bothering me, for example it being freezing cold and pitch black every day, I’m going to acknowledge that, I’m going to feel bad. I don’t just ignore it when I accidentally stub my toe; I’m going to curse the damn object I tripped over. When I’m in a foul mood I want to express that and to repress it and pretend like everything is a-ok would make me feel like a big fraud. Why not be miserable in the winter? What is so bad about feeling bad? It can be quite cathartic. Misanthropes of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your tinsel.

I miss my cat

on Thursday, 23 February 2012
A short introspective writ about my dear departed kitty.

I’ve always felt alone, never really felt like I fit in, even in a crowd of friends or surrounded by family I’ve felt somewhat isolated. I’ve never really understood why, perhaps I never will, but that’s just the way I am. I know I’m different to most people, I think differently, I act differently; perhaps too different to ever really belong with anyone. Growing up, I had friends, not many but a good group of close friends. However, I never really felt that strong a connection to any of them; sure, we got along, shared common interests, had good times together, but that integral, human, bond was never there, at least not for me. I never really knew that at the time, I just figured that’s how everyone felt; everyone feels alone because they can never truly share their existence with someone.

Then one day when I was about eleven or twelve years old, this angry, frightened and feral creature comes flying through the door to my living room as I go to get my breakfast. At first I cry out a little, we never had pets and suddenly there’s a strange animal running through my legs first thing in the morning. When I realised it was just a cat I felt silly for being so startled. I was told by my mother that a stray cat had climbed into the house through a cracked window in the back room. I was excited; I had always wanted a pet, but we had always had enough problems not to have to worry about looking after a dog or a cat.

Excerpt from "Homo Aethereus"

Teaser excerpt from the novel I am currently working on:

General Kessler sat at his desk in the small office afforded to him by the Colonial Astral Resource Program. He looked around at the beige walls, and pondered the small space in which he had worked for the past 6 years. General Kessler was 56 years old, and this being the pinnacle of his career, he was confined to a 12 square foot office with no air conditioning for most of his working days. He considered this for a minute, considered that maybe a man of his rank might have done a lot better for himself. He discarded the thought; he was essentially nothing more than an administrator for a cargo company, despite the lofty four star rank, and he still pulled in a six figure salary each year. His left hand instinctively reached down to the top drawer of his desk, hesitating only slightly before opening the drawer. The drawer slid open with a pleasant sloshing clink, and General Kessler took out the bottle of scotch. He decanted a glass and peered at the tiny office window through the honey coloured liquid. He could see the launch tower from here.