Saturday, 1 April 2017

A tongue-in-cheek way to deal with serious social misfits

By social misfits I mean the whole gamut, ranging from murderers, fanatics, pedophiles, robbers, con artists, the criminally insane, those with aggressive disorders, public menaces and repeat criminal offenders.
     The first thing I would do is set a date to clear the prisons of inmates. I regard these establishments as a waste of time, money and space. Many of them are run as hotels, equipped with gymnasiums, libraries, recreation areas, TV sets and games’ rooms, with inmates let out during the day. Some who are released re-offend to be let back into their version of holiday camps.
     The second thing I would do is treat the misfits with one-off drugs, tailored to counteract their misbehavioral problems. If that means them becoming odorless cabbages so be it, as long as they become incapable of repeat-offending in their category. What do I mean by category? Well, at one end of the scale you have the most serious of derangements, like that suffered by Ian Brady; at the other you have aging lotharios like Paul Gadd, aka Gary Glitter. Officially, the worst would be classified as Irredeemable, at the other end would be all the PPIs (Pointless Putting Inside).
     If in rare cases the drugs proved to be ineffective, I would add additional measures such as surgical lobotomies of key areas of the cortexes of the brain: we seem to be getting good at identifying them. The serious villains would need some sort of protection from vengeful relatives of victims, but fear can be a good feeling to possess, like birching used to be on the Isle of Man, but I digress.
There you have it. No more prisons; an alternative way to deal with offenders.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Hell on Earth exists now

For those of you who watch events unfolding on the news channels and in the newspapers, it is easy to become insensitive to what we see unfolding in the Middle East.
     For those who write Sci-Fi books like me, it is easy to overlook the fact that what is happening in Iraq and Syria reflects a reality in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically one that is degraded beyond imagination. That is to say, it is dystopian.
     I find it beyond understanding that young men and women are so bereft of common sense that they regard it as acceptable to rape, torture and slaughter the innocent in the name of God. What does God have to do with any of these acts committed in his name?
     Let me be clear, I have no belief in any God, but I firmly believe that the spirit exists separately from the human body it occupies. So how can anyone be daft enough to believe that they will go to heaven and enjoy the company of virgins by doing unimaginably bad things to others, in the name of Allah?
     How can driving wagons full of living people into pits in the desert be worthy of entry to the supposed kingdom of heaven? How can the dipping of women in acid be justified? How can the random shooting of children be anything but deranged?
     This is where the death of fanatics of this ilk justifies the use of drones to eliminate them from this planet, so they can never breed. But what about their spirits or souls, whatever you care to call them? My feeling is they descend to a spiritual version of Hell, from which they will never ascend. There they will congregate and despair for what they have done, in the name of their false god, Allah.

    Religion over many centuries, particularly of a monotheistic, Abrahamic source, has a lot to answer for, as do its warped preachers.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

The Final Gold Award AND Literary Award for...

The SIGHTSEERS AGENCY, the ultimate book in The Dreadnought Collective series.
 A summary of the book reads:
Welcome to my fantasy world. It is not set in some mythical universe, but here on young Planet Earth.
It relates events happening in the not too distant future, where the unimaginable has happened: society has evolved without suffering near-extinction from a myriad of catastrophic disasters.
     The population is reducing from its overblown previous level, and life as we know it is becoming idyllic.
As you might expect, there are hiccups on the way, with murderous and criminal behavior yet to be fully eradicated.
     Religion only exists in pockets, now that we realize how we evolved, naturally, and did not need a helping hand in the ongoing process.
    How did we develop that realization? With awareness from aliens. After all, they seeded our beloved planet using us as guinea pigs.
    The problem is, those we’ve allied ourselves with don’t care about us very much. However, they do like what we possess, sufficiently to want to share it with us in the meantime, hidden from view except to those in the know.
This book contains a series of whodunit escapades with serious undertones.

Ignore the all too real messages it contains at your peril.

The review:
***** The Hungry Monster Book Review, February 20, 2017
The Sightseers Agency picks up with Richard Pencil leaving the government position he took up at the end of the previous book. With the new world order well underway, the big three-letter agencies are breaking up, and Richard is going back to work with Joe Fraser and the man known as the Inlooker. Richard also has an impressive upgrade to his extra-sensory detective powers. He’s joined by a new remote-viewer, Miss Plum Duff, whose talents were honed by alien intervention. Fraser hires them to launch the the Sightseers Agency, reporting to him and their mysterious benefactor. Their mission is to oversee the behavior of elected officials, and another secret goal is revealed later. Seb Cage, who is now a talented computer security specialist (along with the skills he gained from the Sombrella Syndicate), joins the agency as well.
    The Sightseers soon discover that the greatest threat to earth isn’t just from rogue officials and politicians, but also hostile aliens who have been planning an attack for some time. Complications arise because some of the aliens on Earth are friendly, while some are more like tourists who take on human form just to experience something different. Ms. Plum Duff comes into her own here, since she, like Seb, has a long history with regard to aliens.
    Like the previous agency novel, there is an overarching plot that is played out in several different investigations. While the book is described as a series of whodunits set in the future, each case is a link in a chain that ultimately brings conflict on both a personal and global scale. I was glad to see more about the use of psychic mind-reading to ferret out lies and criminal activity, and the manipulation of auras and even the soul itself. There’s also the fascinating angle of this “new world” society, run on a democracy-on-demand system with a goal toward a true meritocracy. While some of this society’s social practices seem dystopian, others, like the use of Tesla’s wireless transmission of energy, offer a utopia of readily-available power.
    One of the things I’ve enjoyed throughout the Dreadnaught series is the author’s vivid imagination. His notes at the beginning of the books give real-world tales of psychics and UFO phenomenon that act as the launch pad for his stories. His humor and wordplay are also in full force, with inventive non-cuss words, ribald comedy—especially when it comes to Richard and his Lothario tendencies—and the continued jokes about “potties,” which are ubiquitous self-driving transport pods, giving “on the throne” a whole different meaning.
    Overall, this series has been fun to read. The major recurring characters are so unique, each with their own set of skills, flaws, and quirks, that it’s a delight to follow them from one adventure to another. The Sightseers Agency ties up a lot of loose ends, answers questions, and ends on a hopeful note and fans of the series will be satisfied by the ending.

Author Interview - Terry Tumbler:
I think The Sightseers Agency is the best book of the Dreadnought Collective, and you did a great job of balancing the characters, conflict, and plot. Knowing that this was the last book in the Dreadnought Collective what was one thing you wanted to accomplish before the end of the series?
Loose ends to be tied up, conclusively.
The recurring characters are so unique, each with their own set of skills, flaws, and quirks, that it’s a delight to follow them from one adventure to another. What was one character you felt went through the biggest change throughout the series?
The Inlooker, posing as Claude Broadbent.
The Sightseers Agency ties up a lot of loose ends, answers questions, and ends on a hopeful note. Did you always have an idea of how the series would end or did it present itself as you were writing this last book?
It makes me feel uneasy to admit that this is the last book in the Dreadnought collective series, but you’ve put me on the spot! Yes, it makes sense to treat is as such, with infills later, like Bernard Cornwall did with the Sharpe’s series. I always aim to write with previous knowledge of the ending, but cannot claim to stick with it as the story evolves.
What is the next book that you're writing? Are you working on another series?

The next book is the start of another Sci-Fi series. It involves new technology based on true inventions in the past. It also speculates on what alien contact could be like, when we reduce our population level. It will be a ‘vehicle’ for humor, to lighten the underlying message passed to readers.


Tuesday, 7 March 2017

And so it continues...

I am so pleased and privileged to win awards for another two of my books:
The gold goes to
- Seb Cage Begins His Adventures - a Young Adult Sci-Fi book that is also suitable for older generations, like me.
 and the silver goes to
- The Deaduction Agency - a paranormal detection book out of the ordinary.
The silver is a more complex situation, as you can read in the Author Interview below.

Author Interview - Terry Tumbler
 The Deaduction Agency follows a team of psychics, telepaths and remote viewers who investigate several cases of disappearances, murders, and missing persons. This is a thrilling paranormal mystery novel. What was the initial spark for this book and how did that develop as you were writing?
Answer:
I empathize with psychics, whose skills gained credibility as I read about them in series such as Psychic Detectives. The willingness of the police and detectives to appear in the shows, often after retirement from the force, speaks volumes for their appreciation of the skills of the psychics they employed. What also emerged was the need of the program makers to pad out the stories of psychic detectives with endless repeats of the facts. This is because the crimes are resolved in such a straightforward manner that it makes regular policing look tedious – which it is.
     The first case, of a complex divorce, took longer to resolve because it did not require psychic abilities. I used it to contrast the differences in time to describe regular, traditional policing and those cases that require the skills of a psychic.
     To my regret, some reviewers failed to understand why this approach was taken.

The book covers several different cases which range from quick and easy to edge-of-your-seat thriller. My favorite was 'Case of the Prodigal Son'. What was your favorite case and why?
Answer:
 The same ‘Prodigal Son’, plus ‘The Honey Trap’, where Richard’s possessive and devious nature is revealed to the full.

The psychics at this agency have skills and near-future technology that give them powers beyond what psychics can do now. What were the limitations you needed to keep them believable and what was something that you absolutely had to have for them to be interesting?
Answer:
I accept psychic skills as they exist now, and have no patience with skeptics who try to fool around with their sensory perceptions, to prove they are frauds and have no special skills.  However, in the book they had to be fully capable of reading minds, in order to be foolproof in their assessment of criminals. Even so, some reviewers failed to understand this, and judged the psychic teams to be behaving unacceptably in passing sentence on some criminals. Why, if they can read minds and know the vile nature of the people they are categorizing? It is hardly as if they are executing them! The aim is to re-incorporate them into society, with their souls purified.

This story is ripe with paranormal activity, remote viewing and the powers of the mind. Which power and character do you identify with?
Answer:
Telepathy, having experimented with it in front of others, as a young teenager. I identify with Richard and Chuck and Joe, in different ways.

A final, general observation on the review itself. The opening scene is criticized for its excess of descriptive detail, That is almost a verbatim criticism made by another reviewer, Marta Cheng in 2015, who stated: In some places, such as near the beginning of the book, there is an inordinate amount of detailed explanation provided as to the set up of the agency’s offices – details that detract from the momentum of the story. In response, I cut down the detail to a mere 360 words, which is hardly inordinate! It also became apparent that Marta (who got fond of changing her surname to put me off the scent) had not read the book in its entirety and was intent on having a dig at another reviewer from the same stable as herself.
     To emphasize why it was done, I then suffixed the description with the following sentences:
Richard, the most senior partner in the agency, was busying himself constantly re-arranging brochures on a side table in the waiting area in reception. It was a quirky habit of his that Honey found most annoying. It also reflected his fussy preoccupation with orderliness and exact measurements.
Naturally, he was the architect of the office layout, which Honey was often tempted to rearrange, solely to unsettle him.

Love scenes soon followed as well! Some of this preoccupation is revisited later, as part of Honey’s tangled love life. What more can an author do?

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Brexit: UK could quit EU without paying a penny, say Lords

Report says British government has no legal obligation to pay for Brexit or outstanding payments into EU budget.
     The UK could walk away from the European Union in 2019 without paying a penny, the House of Lords has said, in a report bound to raise tensions with Brussels in the run-up to Brexit talks.
     The British government would have no legal obligation to either pay a €60bn (£52bn) Brexit bill mooted by the European commission or honour payments into the EU budget promised by the former prime minister David Cameron, according to analysis by the House of Lords EU financial affairs sub-committee.
     In a report published on Saturday, the committee argues that the British government would be on strong legal ground if it chose to leave the EU without paying anything, adding that Brussels would have no realistic chance of getting any money.
     “The UK appears to have a strong legal position in respect of the EU budget post-Brexit and this provides important context to the article 50 negotiations,” said Lady Falkner of Margravine, the Liberal Democrat peer who chairs the sub-committee.
     “Even though we consider that the UK will not be legally obliged to pay into the EU budget after Brexit, the issue will be a prominent factor in withdrawal negotiations. The government will have to set the financial and political costs of making such payments against potential gains from other elements of the negotiations.”
     Ingeborg Grässle, a German centre-right MEP who chairs the European parliament’s budget control committee, said she was astonished at the “really disappointing” conclusions. “It is not about the money. It is about responsibilities. The question is, do you stick to your engagements?” she told the Guardian.
     Grässle, who gave evidence to the Lords committee, described their conclusion as “putting the knife on the table” and said, if taken, the approach would damage Britain’s Brexit negotiations.
     The peers’ argument will be toxic to the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, whose staff drew up the mooted bill ranging from €55bn-€60bn (£47bn-£52bn). This covers the UK’s share of EU civil staff pensions, unpaid bills and decommissioning nuclear power plants.
     Barnier is expecting the UK to pay into the EU budget in 2019 and 2020, putting the UK on the hook for payments worth £12.4bn, agreed by Cameron in 2013.
     The Brexit secretary, David Davis, has hinted that Britain may pay into the EU budget to get single market access, but large payments would be a political problem for the Conservative government. Setting out her Brexit vision last month, Theresa May said: “The days of Britain making vast contributions to the European Union every year will end.”

So much for the bullying tone and bluster coming from Brussels.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Tell me about it

Austin, Orwell, Bronte, Dickens... who are they? After world book day, depressing survey shows one in five can't name a single author 

One quarter of people claimed they have not read a book within six months 

William Shakespeare was cited as the most recognised author in history 

Others suggested the names Charles Darwin, JK Rowling and Stephen King

For world book day, one woman sent her child to school dressed as a shop catalogue   

From Jane Austen to Terry Pratchett, Britain is not short of literary geniuses.
     But it seems the nation isn’t aware of them - as one in five of people in the UK can’t name a single author, a survey has revealed.
     The Royal Society of Literature asked nearly 2,000 people to name a writer of literature but 20 per cent of respondents couldn’t think of a one author.
     Along with this, 25 per cent hadn’t read in the past six months 15 per cent of people said they thought that literature is too difficult to understand.

     But over half of the people who said they don’t currently read literature said they would like to and 88 per cent agreed that literature should be part of everyone’s education.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Another Gold Award Winner! My author's interview.

The Time Slipsters spans science fiction, travelogue, historical fiction and comedy while showing a vibrant world of the future and the past. What is the funnest part about imagining and writing the future?
The fun is in seeing things that are commonly regarded as Sci-Fi beginning to happen. I believe that research on the web reveals what a wonderful world we live in. If you look for articles on medical research, the motor industry and technology in general, it also indicates where the human race is heading.
We are already seeing Nano robots being used for keyhole surgery, drugs being tailored to combat and kill cancer cells, and the early diagnosis of dementia, to name but a few. Plus the whiff of flying cars and free power is in the air!
Imagine a world where the health service does not feel overwhelmed by an aging population, because old people are no longer suffering the ‘ravages of old age’. Why would that be? The answer is: treatment of their various sufferings is being mastered, until death they do part! By the way, I come into the latter category.
Envisage a world where travel is from home to destination, in minutes. No airports, no connecting flights or trains or buses or taxis. No squandering of natural resources, no electricity costs, no power stations needed, no pylons or towering wind vanes blotting the landscape. Much of what I describe has been available for over a century, if it were not for intervention of vested interests.
The characters end up traveling through time, and like many stories, their actions in the past affect the future. What was the most interesting part about writing a time travel story?
Getting into the heads of the characters on both sides of the experience of time travel. Drawing word pictures of the experience and conveying mental images to readers was fun too. It challenges my imagination to run riot. By the way, unlike Professor Hawking I do not believe that the death of an ancestor caused by a time traveler would have any impact whatsoever on his or her descendants.
The threat to Earth is revealed by uncovering the mystery of the aliens who have been living under the auspices of the Sombrella Syndicate. What was the inspiration for the Sombrella Syndicate?
I once worked for a Lloyds of London group of insurance syndicates, so am familiar with the concept. The deserted brickworks near where I live in Spain was an ideal undercover location for an alien base, but not big enough to house it, on the surface. Who better to man it, underground, than dwarfs, who have a reputation for mining and gold!
Time Slipsters is book three in the Dreadnought collective. Where does book 4 take the characters?

Book 4 takes the characters in an entirely new direction that totally engrossed me for a while. I took great interest in the feasibility of psychic involvement in crime detection. This added another dimension to the evolution of the Dreadnought Collective. The various characters in all the books are intertwined in book 5, the Sightseers Agency, which is now run under the auspices of the U.S. government, as is the entire collective. The individual agencies in the collective instantly become more effective as the two genres are mixed.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Yippee, an Award for The Inlooker!

The Hungry Monster Book Award
Congratulations!
We are proud to present you with our Hungry Monster Book Award.
Your book deserves extraordinary praise and The Hungry Monster is proud to acknowledge
your dedication, writing skill and imagination.
The Gold Award is bestowed on books that we found to be perfect in their delivery of original
content, meticulous development of unique characters in an organic and striking setting,
innovative plot that supports a fresh theme, and elegant prose that transforms words into
beautifully written novels.
Thank you,
Thomas Anderson
The Hungry Monster Book Review

 And the review itself:

***** The Hungry Monster Review

It all starts with a dead cat. Thomas Beckon is a father of two daughters, a husband to a kind, happy woman named Pat, an IT Manager, and a seemingly nice man who many fondly refer to as “Tommy.” His life changes when his daughter’s cat dies, and he realizes that the dead cat’s soul temporarily inhabits the body of another cat in the house. It’s always been his belief that even the smallest creatures have souls, so this discovery intrigues him more than it surprises him. His curiosity leads him to attempt a soul transfer of his own, taking over the body of the remaining cat. After much struggle, he’s successful.

This early success gives him the confidence to move on to humans. He comes to believe that he’s trained his entire life, through his interactions with his co-workers and his ability to understand them, to take on the role of Inlooker. An Inlooker is an immortal supernatural being which has the power to take over the souls of others. Beckon works to enhance these powers, not just reading souls and manipulating his own, but taking control of other people, body and soul.

He starts out using this power for what he believes is “good,” but even his idea of good is twisted around his own self-interests. He moves from doing “good” to purposely doing evil. As Beckon explores his abilities and learns the extent of his power, he will face many enemies, the strongest one of all, himself and his baser instincts. When the future of the world and humanity hangs in the balance, the question for him becomes: can he overcome his greed and hunger for power and chose to utilize his superpowers for the greater good?

Set mostly in England and written by a British author, The Inlooker has a distinctly English voice with a dry sense of humor readers often find in British mystery novels. I enjoyed the voice most of all. It’s humorous, dark, clear, and ironic. At first, I didn’t like the narrator’s intrusions into the story, but I soon grew used to them and enjoyed the quirky voice very much.

The author, Terry Tumbler, is able to move around in time without confusing the reader and without making unnatural or abrupt scene changes. I like the way he reveals Thomas’ true nature slowly, first showing us how he became the Inlooker, and then backtracking to illustrate how he was kind of always an Inlooker, or at least an Inlooker-in-training. His skills didn’t just appear in an act of God type of moment; rather, they were always evolving, always building until the moment when he took over the cat.

This idea of latent powers is further explored when Thomas uses his powers selfishly and heartlessly. Early in the book, I was reminded of the quote by Sir John Dalberg-Acton: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." I at first believed that ultimate power corrupted Thomas, but as the story went on, I realized that self-centeredness and the lack of conscience he displayed always existed within him. Societal norms, familial pressures, and office etiquette had served to control his baser instincts, but once Thomas achieved absolute power, he no longer needed to work within those parameters, so he didn’t. In an ever-evolving world that grows more complicated with an alien invasion, Thomas must decide if dominating the world or saving the world is his ultimate destiny.

I like the format of the book, specifically the short chapters and the descriptive chapter titles. Both kept the story moving at a steady pace. My own personal preference would be for the book to end with Chapter 25 and to not include the Addendum and the five Reference chapters. Beckon does a splendid job in Chapter 25 of wrapping up all the major themes and storylines of the book in a satisfying, yet unexpected way. Readers who like to dive in deeper and learn all the ins and outs will likely enjoy the evolution of the story in the remaining sections.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Love it or hate it - Brexit in two countries

I’ll bet the same thing is happening in America, as permitted by the ruling classes.
Just in from an expatriate Brit! Read it and weep!

A short list of financial and industrial FUBARs from the EU...

- Cadbury moved factory to Poland 2011 with EU grant.
- Ford Transit moved to Turkey 2013 with EU grant.
- Jaguar Land Rover has recently agreed to build a new plant in Slovakia with EU grant, owned by Tata, the same company who have trashed our steel works and emptied the workers’ pension funds.
- Peugeot closed its Ryton (was Rootes Group) plant and moved production to Slovakia with EU grant.
- British Army's new Ajax fighting vehicles to be built in SPAIN using SWEDISH steel at the request of the EU to support jobs in Spain with EU grant, rather than Wales.
- Dyson gone to Malaysia, with an EU loan.
- Crown Closures, Bournemouth (Was METAL BOX), gone to Poland with EU grant, once employed 1,200.
- M&S manufacturing gone to the Far East with EU loan.
- Hornby models gone. In fact all toys and models now gone from UK along with the patents all with EU grants.
- Gillette gone to Eastern Europe with EU grant.
- Texas Instruments Greenock gone to Germany with EU grant.
- Indesit at Bodelwyddan Wales gone with EU grant.
- Sekisui Alveo said production at its Merthyr Tydfil Industrial Park foam plant will relocate production to Roermond in the Netherlands, with EU funding.
- Hoover Merthyr factory moved out of UK to Czech Republic and the Far East by Italian company Candy with EU backing.
- ICI integration into Holland’s AkzoNobel with EU bank loan and within days of the merger, several factories in the UK, were closed, eliminating 3,500 jobs.
- Boots sold to Italians Stefano Pessina who have based their HQ in Switzerland to avoid tax to the tune of £80 million a year, using an EU loan for the purchase.
- JDS Uniphase run by two Dutch men, bought up companies in the UK with £20 million in EU 'regeneration' grants, created a pollution nightmare and just closed it all down leaving 1,200 out of work and an environmental clean-up paid for by the UK tax-payer. They also raided the pension fund and drained it dry.
- UK airports are owned by a Spanish company.
- Scottish Power is owned by a Spanish company.
- Most London buses are run by Spanish and German companies.
- The Hinkley Point C nuclear power station to be built by French company EDF, part owned by the French government, using cheap Chinese steel that has catastrophically failed in other nuclear installations. Now EDF say the costs will be double or more and it will be very late even if it does come online.
- Swindon was once our producer of rail locomotives and rolling stock. Not any more, it's Bombardier in Derby and due to their losses in the aviation market, that could see the end of the British railways manufacturing altogether even though Bombardier had EU grants to keep Derby going which they diverted to their loss-making aviation side in Canada.
- 39% of British invention patents have been passed to foreign companies, many of them in the EU.
- The Mini cars that Cameron stood in front of as an example of British engineering, are built by BMW mostly in Holland and Austria. His campaign bus was made in Germany even though we have Plaxton, Optare, Bluebird, Dennis etc., in the UK.
- The bicycle for the Greens was made in the Far East, not by Raleigh UK but then they are probably going to move to the Netherlands too as they have said recently.

Anyone who thinks the EU is good for British industry or any other business simply hasn't paid attention to what has been systematically asset-stripped from the UK. Name me one major technology company still running in the UK. 

We used to contract out to many, then the work just dried up as they were sold off to companies from France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, etc., and now we don't even teach electronic technology for technicians any more, due to EU regulations.

I haven't detailed our non-existent fishing industry the EU paid to destroy, nor the farmers being paid NOT to produce food they could sell for more than they get paid to do nothing, don't even go there.

I haven't mentioned what it costs us to be asset-stripped like this, nor have I mentioned immigration, nor the risk to our security if control of our armed forces is passed to Brussels or Germany.

Find something that's gone the other way, I've looked and I just can't.

Still want to stay? Well it must be some consolation that you have Cameron to negotiate in Europe on your behalf.

And of course, the real deal-breaker.... Democracy, transparency and independence.  We can vote out our MPs - BUT the European Commission who dictate 55% of UK laws, which are legally binding, are..... guess what, untouchable, unelected and hidden from view.