The Determination Engine

determination engineWhilst labouring away at other pieces of long-form fiction, I’ve written a short story so I thought I’d get it out there.

It’s sci-fi / dystopian fiction and it’s called The Determination Engine.

You can grab it for free on the Kindle store between 15th – 16th July here – The Determination Engine On Amazon. It’s a fairly short read, between 20 minutes to half an hour; would go well with a coffee over the weekend.

I hope you like it. If you do, please leave a review on Amazon; it’s one of the few things self-published authors can rely on to help drive engagement these days and I’d really appreciate it.
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Race For The Galaxy: The Greatest Game Of All Time?

Race For The GalaxyOk. Apart from chess. And some other classics. But apart from those, Race For The Galaxy is hard to beat if you can overcome the initial brainache.

So what is it?

Race For The Galaxy is a card game that revolves around creating as large a space empire as possible in the shortest possible time. Why do I say shortest possible time? Because the way you play the game can force the game to end to your advantage.

It has its roots in the game Puerto Rico, a resource / worker placement game. In Puerto Rico, players take turns to choose one of six different actions, the fun bit being that everyone performs the same action, but choosing the action gets you a bonus. (You can watch a video of someone explain the origins of the game here)

In Race For The Galaxy this is taken a step further; everyone chooses their actions in secret, and then each type of action is made by every player SIMULTANEOUSLY once they’re unveiled. This means you can try to second guess what other player’s are going to do to try and get yourself more useful moves each round. And this simple fact is what makes the game so special; you have to watch everyone else’s game like a hawk, and make sure you can leech off their tactics.
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Tiki Surfer Witches Want My Blood (and I’m not complaining)

Tiki Surf Witches Want BloodIf you know me personally then you’ll know I have a bit of an obsession with anything Tiki related and I love a good cocktail. So I was kind of thrilled that, while I was searching the internet for Tiki stuff in preparation for a project I’m working on (which may never see the light of day, but hey) I came across a comic book whose story is not only 100% Tiki, but includes cocktail recipes as part of its modus-operandi and features more gratuitous boobs than Game Of Thrones.

Tiki Surf Witches Ritual

Tiki Surfer Witches Want Blood wasn’t that easy to track down. I first came across a search that took me to Amazon to buy an ebook version, but I struggled to find a physical copy and after a bit more searching found that it was published by Sex And Monsters. Continue reading →

The Elements Of Eloquence

Elements Eloquence Mark ForsythIf you’re into writing or reading in any way (and you probably are, if you’re reading this), then The Elements Of Eloquence – How To Turn The Perfect English Phrase by Mark Forsyth is a must have book.

I was lucky enough to get this as an xmas present a couple of years ago and once I’d started reading it I couldn’t put it down. I now always keep it around and dip into it every now and again (along with some other books I’ll tell you about in another post).

It’s definitely one of those books that’s a lot more fun as a physical version as a digital version as once you start flipping through the pages you’l want to share it with someone else.

For instance, do you know what Anadiplosis is? Here’s an example:

If the soup had been as warm as the wine, and the wine as old as the fish, and the fish as young as the maid, and the maid as willing as the hostess, it would have been a very good meal. – Anon Continue reading →

Backmasking

If you play a song backwards, it’s bound to summon a whole lot of bad stuff from hell, surely?

Well, depends if it’s Follow The Yellow Brick Road or an Ozzy Ozbourne track by all accounts. Although Slayer say that all that occult reference is ‘just for effect’.

The band Cradle Of Filth recorded The Lords Prayer backwards and used that in a song called ‘Black Mass’. Apparently if you play that loudly you can summon your mother from her Sunday morning hangover.

Satanic Backmasking – Wikipedia Entry

Asylum

This BBC documentary tells the fascinating and poignant story of the closure of Britain’s mental asylums. In the post-war period, 150,000 people were hidden away in 120 of these vast Victorian institutions all across the country.

Today, most mental patients, or service users as they are now called, live out in the community and the asylums have all but disappeared.

Through powerful testimonies from patients, nurses and doctors, the film explores this seismic revolution and what it tells us about society’s changing attitudes to mental illness over the last sixty years.

Prepared Piano

Pianos sound pretty good when you thrown lots of things into them. I’m talking cymbals, bits of wire, nuts and bolts, the occasional small child. When you play a piano full of stuff it tends to generate it’s own percussion backing track.

John Cage used to like to do this, when he wasn’t writing music that had nothing in it.

Check out the YouTube video below to hear John Cage’s ‘Bacchanale’ for prepared piano. It’s kind of creepy.

De-Composed

It’s tough being a composer. But one thing’s for certain. If you don’t die under extreme or bizarre circumstances then you haven’t really lived.

Most of them died rather strangely, usually after years of intense hardship. Being a composer was never meant to be easy and it either drives you crazy or you’ve got to be crazy in the first place.

Hugo Wolf’s (1860-1903) demise was rather dramatic. He attempted to drown himself before requesting admission to an insane asylum where he eventually died completely and utterly mindless.

Jean Baptiste-Lully (1632-1687) inadvertently struck his foot with the pointed staff he had been using to keep time, the wound became gangrenous and, refusing to have the affected area amputated he died on 22 March of that year.

Follow the link to see the top ten composers who died in strange circumstances.

Top 10 Composers Who Died Unnatural or Odd Deaths