Book Review – Confined Spaces by F. R. Jameson

A short story collection daubed ‘Claustrophobic Tales of Terror’ on the front cover.

This is a very strong collection focusing around different individuals in some truly terrifying situations. If you’ve got a fear of confined spaces this is probably your worst nightmare.

A couple of stories stand out from the rest as being particularly strong. The first story ‘Adultery’ captures a post sex couple, one of whom is married, lay in bed in a grubby hotel room. They hear strange noises coming from the next room and suddenly their worst nightmares come true. I was particularly fond of this story because of the moral dilemma the couple face when deciding whether to report the gruesome crime they witness.

The second stand out story is ‘The White Room’. A poor soul wakes up in a completely white room unaware of who he is or how he got there. He drives himself mad trying to escape, after discovering everything he does is being observed. The tension is slowly ratcheted up to a thrilling and unexpected finale.

It’s a great collection of stories making the most of the theme. It’s clear that F. R. Jameson has a true understanding of claustrophobia and how frightening it can be.

Check the book out now on Amazon.

Why We Need Sci-fi and Fantasy Now More Than Ever…

I saw a Twitter post from someone last week who shall remain nameless (I don’t like to point the finger) suggesting that Sci fi has nothing left to offer and that everything had very much ‘already been done’.

Nonsense, poppycock, balderdash. In case this person hasn’t watched the news or looked out of the window lately, he might not have noticed that the world is going to Hell.

Donald Trump, The Conservative Party, Global Warming, austerity. There is no better time for the world of fiction to offer some form of escape.

Snuggled up in the warm with the new book or your favourite TV show is a great form of escapism. Also, like it or loathe it, platforms like Amazon are great for offering up content, be it self published or otherwise. The sheer volume of stories being written and released alone clearly put paid to the argument that Sci f/Fantasy is now a redundant genre.

It’s more popular than ever. To say that it isn’t is incredibly silly.

Book Review – Finding Her (Chronicles of the Infected Book 1) by Rick Wood

Zombies hey. Still the scariest monster for me. Still the most likely to cause nightmares. In fact, a recurring nightmare for me, involves the little girl zombie at the beginning of the 2004 remake of George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead.

The front cover of Finding Her will do nothing to stop me having that nightmare. It is genuinely creepy.

The story is a rip roaring page turner in which a man (Gus) who’s lost his wife and daughter to the Zombie hordes is drafted in and sent on a mission to rescue the acting Prime Ministers Daughter. He sets off into a London destroyed by the infection, however not all is as it seems.

Gus is accompanied on his journey by Donny, a member of the PM’s staff. His transformation from blithering wimp to hero is one of the best things about the story as is his chemistry with Gus.

The most intriguing character is Sadie; a half human half zombie who helps our heroes on their battle against the undead.

It’s not clear how the virus started, although it is hinted at throughout and the story ends very much on a cliffhanger for Book 2.

This is a zombie action adventure in the classic sense. Great to devour in one sitting with the lights off.

You can buy it now over on Amazon.

Audio Review – Paul Darrow – You’re Him aren’t You?

Although many of you will know Paul Darrow as Kerr Avon from Blakes 7, he’s had a long and successful career on stage and screen. We get chapter and verse here as Darrow reads his autobiography originally released in book form in 2006.

It’s a fascinating story and I was captivated right from the start. His voice is inimitable. I could listen to him read the phone book. There’s been some criticism of Darrow’s continuous name dropping throughout. Not from me. The man is a star and hearing how he shared a flat with the late great John Hurt in the early days confirms it.

All in all, as well as being a fabulous actor Darrow tells a great story. There’s no better story than that of his own life.

A true star and great ambassador for acting.

Check it out now at Big Finish.

Big Finish – Lady Christina de Souza announcement.

Big Finish announced yesterday that a new four part boxset starring Michelle Ryan as Lady Christina de Souza is due out in September.

This is fabulous news and another stroke of genius by Big Finish. Despite only appearing in one TV story (Planet of the Dead, 2009) de Souza was a popular character with many fans wanting to find out more.

Big Finish has a history of taking one off characters and really turning them into something special (Jago and Litefoot anyone?). I’m sure this will be no exception. Roll on September…

Interview with Joe McMahon – Author of The Face of God

I chatted to Joe after finishing his fantastic book The Face of God…

Tell me about yourself and what made you start writing.

I was born and brought up in Geneva, the home of CERN, which is where I picked up my interest in science. In my twenties, I joined the British Army and did a few tours in Northern Ireland and Cyprus, but it was during a tour in Iraq that I really started to formulate my thoughts on how little control people have over their lives. How your life is governed by where you’re born, by events that happen to you or even the physical make-up of your brain. In the end, I began to believe that we have no freewill, zero control of what happens to us and who we are. So, as my ideas developed, I began to put them down on paper, as well as how we could potentially break free from that fundamental limitation on our freedom.

Where did the inspiration come from to write The Face of God?

You know, I think I was receiving so much content, whether through books, films or music that I became saturated with information and ideas. I got to a point where I had to send something back out into the world, and it made me really think about what that would be. What did I want to say? The freewill ideas were interesting, but they weren’t enough, so I wrote a lot more, about the scientific themes in the book and about the combat and PTSD scenes, which were inspired by my operations in Iraq. But even then, I still didn’t have a cohesive story. The final spark (here comes the cliché!) was that I fell in love with a woman, who sadly didn’t love me back, and I found that quite difficult. I ended up writing her a number of letters that I never sent, and they became the backbone of the love story in The Face of God and brought everything together.

Despite the complex and difficult subject matter your story is direct and cohesive. Was it difficult to, in essence, keep it simple?

The message is actually quite simple: We don’t really know that much about the reality we live in. No matter how elaborate our explanations are of our world, whether complex scientific theories, or elaborate theology, we are probably not getting the full picture of what is actually going on out there. We focus on the things that we think we understand, creating detailed narratives about them, but again, we are probably being influenced by phenomenon that we don’t even know exist. What was really fun, was wrapping that philosophy in with the action scenes and the love story, and turn it into what I think is a bit of a page turner.

The door appears to be left open for a follow up. Any plans for a sequel?

The sequel is well underway and I’m pretty excited about it!

Can you explain the beautiful cover of the book?

The cover was made by an extraordinary Lithuanian designer called Gražina Grei. Among other things, she writes algorithms to create digital representations of nature. The cover of The Face of God is a digitisation of a Lithuanian weave pattern, using a bespoke algorithm (a cellular automata), to make a mathematical mandala, a religious representation of the universe. So it’s a mix of science, religion and Lithuania, three themes of the book.

Check out The Face of God now on Amazon.

Book Review – The Face of God by Joe McMahon

This book’s front cover should be one of those that you become overly familiar with having seen it on your commute every day for weeks on billboards and bus stops. The author should be on TV talking about his inspirations for writing this fabulous story. It’s the curse of the ‘Indie’ author for word of mouth to be the main way people get to hear about their book.

It’s unfair.This book needs to be read to be believed. It’s an incredible meditation of the human condition, love and religion. It tackles the big issues with ease and with a narrative that is deep and affecting. It’s impossble to put down once you’ve started and it’s up there with some of the best books i’ve ever read.

Our two main characters orbit each other elliptically, meeting at key points and then splitting apart before crashing together for the spectacular finale.

The story concerns a supercomputer developed to answer the biggest questions. Why are we here? What is existence? Is there a God?

Books have tried to tackle these issues before. The difference is, The Face of God answers these questions. That’s just one of the things that make this book so good and so rewarding.

So, spread the word far and wide. This is a book everyone needs to read.