Yearly archives: 2014


Sam 7

sam7SAM 7

author: Richard Hubert Francis Cox

Written in 1977, you could look at this as a precursor of all the technothrillers that flourished in the 80s and 90s. It’s a what-if tale loaded with technical details.

The book starts strong, with Mossad hitting a Palestinian terror cell in Paris and stealing paperwork about planned attacks. There’s then a lot of shuffling of characters across the globe to get them into place. This bit ground on a bit, with far too much telling rather than showing, and, I admit, there were moments when I thought about putting the book down. But I didn’t, and was rewarded. The last two thirds to three quarters of the tale used all the setting up very well.

With all the characters and equipment in place, the main event takes place. A DC10 airliner coming in to land at Heathrow, is shot down and crashes onto central London, specifically, Victoria station at rush hour. As the emergency services do what they can, the politicians start looking for scapegoats and the media act like ghouls.

It’s all very convincing, and, in some ways, still contemporary. The conflict that the act of terror springs from- Israel and Palestine- is still going on. In fact, the biggest and strangest difference for me from the jet set age of the mid seventies was the way that airline passengers could happily light up a cigarette in flight.

From:: Ian Pattinson Goodreads reviews


Solstice (Rain and Bullets 3)

Solstice-cvr-150 “You’re a tough one, Danny. I’ll give you that.”

The figure slumped against the concrete didn’t acknowledge the compliment beyond flinching away from the sound of his assailant’s voice.

Something heavy rumbled over the bridge above them at speed. Even as Saturday rolled over into Sunday, there were still vehicles on the motorway.

The bulky, black clad figure stood over his victim, blocking the view of anything but his dark shape. Danny registered, barely, the light rustling noise that accompanied his assailant’s movements, but he was even less able to understand it than he had been before the beating started.

“Of course, being so tough has just meant I had to hurt you more.”

It’s the Summer solstice.

Maria wants to find her cousin, who has been put into a children’s home run by a company called Vantage and disappeared.

Tomas wants to help Maria, and find out who Vantage are bribing to get all their contracts whilst he’s doing it.

Kay Wood has just landed her first ever murder case- a body pulled out of the Irwell with a strange symbol carved into his chest.

Irwin Baker has been called by his old boss at MI6, asking if he can help Manchester Police investigate a murder with links to killings in Iraq.

It’s going to be a very long day for all of them.

When Maria and Tomas find dark secrets in Vantage’s offices, they find themselves in great danger, hunted by a killer who leaves his signature in the bodies of his victims. Can Kay and Irwin get to them before the killer does?

Solstice is out now for the Kindle. It’s the second adventure featuring Irwin Baker, and finds him helping Greater Manchester Police investigate a murder with ties back to corruption in the early days of the occupation of Iraq. Taking place on the day of the Summer solstice, it’s a race against time to stop a killer with a grisly signature and uncover the horrors that go on behind the doors of a privatised children’s home.


How to steal a health service, how to save a health service

I’m already a Green, I understand that we’re the only sane vote left. But I know that some people still need some convincing. The NHS is being stolen from us by governments that are more interested in their friends’ and backers’ profits than the common good. When it’s laid out nice and clearly as above, you can begin to understand how they’re doing it, and how to stop them.

Vote Green, or lose one of the greatest things this country has ever created.


Engage Pulp Speed!

Pulp writers used to knock out hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of words a year, and novels were judged to be books in the 30,000-50,000 word range. My work tends to fall within that word count (today we’re supposed to call it a novella), so in one way I already am a pulp writer.

Over the last few months, my word count has shot up to an average (over 30 days) of over 1,000 words a day. If I don’t stop early for Christmas, my 90 day average will clear that soon. This includes working around my part time job and a natural inclination to get disheartened by minor setbacks. Next year, the target is a minimum of half a million words written, most of which will be published (under a variety of names). That’s still a fair way from what Dean Wesley Smith calls Pulp Speed One in this post, but I’ll treat it as a stepping stone along the way.


BBC News – Historical abuse inquiry: Police examine ‘possible homicide’

My current work in progress is another Irwin race against time chase around Manchester. One of the spurs was a Government proposal to contract out running of childrens homes to private interests. Which has always worked out so well in the past. On that hook, I hung a story inspired by some of the darker rumours about institutional child abuse and pumped it up.

Now, frighteningly, it looks like reality is almost as bad as the over the top take I’m writing.

BBC News – Historical abuse inquiry: Police examine 'possible homicide'.


Proper steampunk at Manchester Victoria station

This rather bizarre device is the sort of detail you might expect to see in the background of a steampunk flavoured comic or movie, but was actually used in Victoria station to zip parcels back and forth. It looks a bit crazy, and the post mentions that a worker was killed when they were knocked over by a low flying basket.

mæntʃɛstər • Parcel carrier at Manchester Victoria station,….


Rocky Mountain high

One of the butchers downstairs sells lamb frys (fries?). Lambs sure have big balls. I think it’s time to be brave and try a new food experience. First I thought I should find a recipe.

Not all gentalia is good to eat. As some readers may recall, in February I wrote the Valentine’s Day edition of the Nasty Bits in which I tried my best to make bull penis palatable, but to no avail. Penis is often made into chew toys for dogs because it is nearly impossible to digest unless it’s stewed for a long time, in which case the vascular tissue breaks down into a gluey, flaccid mess of a dish with virtually no flavor.

via The Nasty Bits: Testicles, Grilled and Fried | Serious Eats : Recipes.

Update I tried ‘Rocky Mountain in Oysters’ for the first time the day after this post, opting for the shallow fried version. I forgot to soak them in cold water beforehand, so they were a bit squishy when I cut them up, but they still fried up well. The flavour was quite mild, and reminded me of pork, somehow, rather than lamb. The texture was light and fluffy, I can imagine that undercooking might result a less satisfying, almost slimy, texture. The only problem was that I made my usual mistake when cooking offal, and I prepared too much. It doesn’t look it at first, but there’s a lot of meat in three lamb testicles, and I couldn’t eat all that I prepared. Next time I’ll have to share them.


Machined bullets for 3D-printed guns could make them practical weapons

3D printed guns have had one major drawback- the materials they’re made from don’t hold up well to the stresses created by an exploding bullet. The plastic cracks and the barrel or receiver becomes useless quickly. One developer has found a way around this by machining thick walled shells with the bullet an inch or so inside them, which act as little barrels to contain the explosive force. They have to be machined individually, but the raw material is cheap and they can be reloaded after use.

Bullet could make 3D-printed guns practical deadly weapons (Wired UK).


The British government is leading a gunpowder plot against democracy | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian

The more I hear about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, the worse it sounds. But it gives so much power and advantage to the rich and corporations that, obviously, our government doesn’t want to do anything about it, and would rather no-one talks about it.

When David Cameron and the corporate press launched their campaign against the candidacy of Jean-Claude Juncker for president of the European commission, they claimed that he threatened British sovereignty. It was a perfect inversion of reality. Juncker, seeing the way the public debate was going, promised in his manifesto that “I will not sacrifice Europe’s safety, health, social and data protection standards – on the altar of free trade – Nor will I accept that the jurisdiction of courts in the EU member states is limited by special regimes for investor disputes.” Juncker’s crime was that he had pledged not to give away as much of our sovereignty to corporate lawyers as Cameron and the media barons demanded.

The British government is leading a gunpowder plot against democracy | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian.


Stories I didn’t write- Ebola House

I’m writing the second novella featuring the adventures of not quite completely retired MI6 analyst Irwin Baker at the moment, (the first instalment was Tiger, gratuitous plug fans!) and some of the characters in it have been with me for years, evolving through multiple other projects.

In particular Detective Kay Wood and crime scene tech Gloria date back to a comic from 1997 called The Millennium Watch. This was going to be a crime with sci-fi series following a high tech forensics team who get involved in plots involving nanotechnology, AIs etc.. I might describe it as CSI with sci-fi, but NCIS with sci-fi might have been nearer the mark because of the number of action scenes. But neither of those show existed in ’97, so I don’t know where the inspiration came from.

I found a guy who produced the pencils for the first issue (I ‘computer inked’ them) and got it listed in the Diamond comics catalogue. Then I failed to get the funding needed for printing and the project came to a halt. I think a dozen or so photocopied versions went to the few people who had ordered them, but that was it.

It was a shame, because I had the story plotted out well ahead. The first four parter was the nanotechnology tale, climaxing on New Year’s Eve 1999. Then there were going to be stories about drive by shootings and gang wars with sub plots about an ongoing foreign conflict and xenophobes on the streets which would collide when some refugees were found to have am Ebola type disease. It may not have been Ebola I was thinking of when I planned the story, but the idea probably came from reading some of The Hot Zone.

Whatever the disease, the refugees would be quarantined in an overcrowded building and the xenophobes, and the even worse racist mob they inspired, would turn up to blockade it, keeping health workers out and making the situation worse. I think there may have been plans to firebomb the house and then have a race against time plot as the heroes tried to track down refugees- infected or not- before the mob got to them.

But, as I said, I never got past the first issue of The Millennium Watch, so I never got to write the plague house episode. I’ve recycled many of the ideas and characters from the series on the way to finding something that actually got released, but not that one. And now we have Ebola in Africa and western countries panicking about its spread. With news of New Jersey implementing mandatory quarantine for health workers returning from west Africa, it seems I wasn’t so far off in my predictions of the reaction to an outbreak, either.