Saturday, 30 April 2016

Published: Retired Genetic Engineer: A Confession

I'm back in the publishing game, people! This Speculative Fiction piece started life as a homework exercise for feedback group Writers Connect. We agreed we'd write a 500-or-so word SF flash on the theme of 'designer babies', with the focus being on looking at current technology and abilities and extrapolating them to show what we may be capable of in the future.

The group seemed to like my story, so I did a second draft after digesting their advice and sent it out to publications I found on the Poets and Writers database.

The Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine accepted it! Issue 13 came out this month with my poem in it. See here. Back issues are here. You'll need to set up a free account to access it- it only takes a few moments.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Last Call for Chitchat at Lola Lo!

TONIGHT: Join me and others from Manchester Social Group and Manchester Cool Bars in a last-minute excursion to Lola Lo for their Monday night Chitchat event. (Yes, I have not changed the name of the meetup due to time.) Expect students, but not exclusively as far as the ads show. Expect live sax from Tom DaLips, percussion from Bongo Sean, drinks, inflatables and a bevvy of damned good-looking people.

Other events I've scouted: Friday night is Bamboo at LIV, their monthly oriental-themed night. Panda heads, kimonos, bamboo and UV lights are the order of the evening. The Cool Bars group are headed there after a few in Sakana. Don't miss it!

It's a bank holiday, so you have an extra night out this weekend. LIV's Superheroes night on Sunday looks interesting, although there's no meetup... yet.

Stay tuned for more last-minute events across the city, and keep your eye on Meetup!

Sunday, 24 April 2016

A Few Scenes from the St George's Day Parade

Dropped into Manchester this afternoon. Hideous traffic problems due to the parade snarling up and diverting Oldham Road from Miles Platting into the city. I figured even though I was late for Writers Connect I may as well be later still and get a few snaps. Here's a group of mods passing through Dale St in the Northern Quarter.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Prospective Mondays

Saturday night: Middleweight boxing champ Gennady Golovkin fights American Dominic Wade, but it won't start til 2am Sunday in the UK, and as I have Writers Connect that afternoon that ain't gon' happen. Not for me at least. Should be a good fight- neither fighter has any professional losses.

I need your feedback on Sunday! If you're into creative writing come down to Nexus on Dale St and help a brother out. Plenty of opportunity to get feedback on your own work too.

Oh, by the way, here's an update:

Beat that.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Baby D in Sound Control

Remember Baby D of Let Me Be Your Fantasy fame?

She had THE dance music track of 1993. Last night she dropped into Sound Control in Manchester to perform her hits.

I put the event on Meetup and visited with the Cool Bars group. We got in before midnight when it was still filling up with adults of all ages (one of whom had a hat designed to look like a squid) and 90s dance classics pumped out of the speakers. Eventually a very energetic Baby D herself performed a few hits.

Impressive performance. She shook hands with the front row, and wished a girl happy birthday. Nice interaction with her audience. I saw this night advertised on a poster in Nexus Art Cafe and set up a meetup. Glad I've finally been to Sound Control. I've heard good things.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Shred Month

I've done all the bulking I need to do I think, boosting my weight up to the late 70Kgs. I've got bigger, stronger, but unfortunately, fatter too. Now it's time to shred.

On the cards for the next month: cross training, boxing, rope flicks, skipping, and loads of situps. Possibly some time on the hand bikes and rowing machines. Lets get a sweat on and see what PBs I can beat in the next month. Maybe I'll find those abs I had in 2010.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Club House Opens in Spinningfields; Baby D Perfoms in Sound Control- Join Us

The weather, like your social calendar, is starting to warm up after a few months of disappointment. What's happening?

Cool Spinningfields bar and personal favourite The Lawn Club has opened an extension to their premises with the promising and elegant Club House. The pictures on Twitter look great.

The bar opens on Thursday. I'll be heading down there on Friday to check the place out. If you fancy taking a look too, check out the meetups on the Manchester Cool Bars and Manchester Social Group pages.

Come get involved!

Also happening this weekend: Who's old enough to remember Baby D?

The 90s dance group will be performing the smash hit and anthem of my teen days at Sound Control in Manchester. A good number of my mates are too young to remember her (brutal) so I thought I'd throw it out to the folk of Meetup to see who wants to get involved. If you do, get involved! The event on Cool Bars is here. On Social Group it's here.

Tweet me to get your event listed!

Monday, 4 April 2016

A whole load of reasons not to stay in this week...

...your work pattern may or may not get in the way.

Wednesday night I'm heading to Voodoo Wednesdays at Birdcage nightclub for their student night (NUS not required, any formal photo ID is though). Here's the event on Cool Bars.  We're starting in Hard Rock Cafe and heading next door to Birdcage for a night in a smart club with good people and cheap drinks.

Thursday night is bustling in a number of places, and one of the fairest priced is Albert's Schloss on Peter St. I'm starting there and heading next door for Socialite, a party night at LIV. That night is promotions manager Melissa Penny's birthday. Here's the event on Cool Bars. Get involved!

On Saturday, heavyweight boxing prospect Anthony Joshua takes on his toughest challenge yet against Charles Martin. I'm curious to watch it, but I suspect it'll go on late into the night and I need to be fresh for Sunday.

And what's on Sunday? I need your feedback on the next section of my script at Writers Connect. It's a great creative writing feedback group. If you fancy joining we'll be in Nexus Art Cafe on Dale St from 1pm. If you fancy joining in with the homework, it was a 500-or so word flash fiction science fiction story on 'designer babies'.

Tweet me to get your event included!

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Dean Gaffney's Grammar is Just as Bad as Yours

Remember Dean Gaffney, or Robbie in Eastenders? He's a regular on the nightlife scene in Manchester and I've spotted him more than a handful of times in town over the years. The fact that he frequently goes out drinking in public places isn't the only thing that makes him a regular person like you and I- there's also his grammar. Here's a recent Instagram picture from club promoter Scott Thomas, with Gaffney's comment underneath.

If there's one thing this teaches us, it's that you don't need good English to make it as a successful actor in a leading TV show. Talk about overcoming adversity!

Saturday, 2 April 2016

The Temporal Void

I'm now 2 out of 3 books through Peter F Hamilton's SF Void trilogy. The Temporal Void was a lot of hard work.

The Void is an artificial universe created by aliens, into which humans have ventured to live the sweet life. Unfortunately when they get there, there's no technology and they live their lives like 18th century nomads. Not only that, they speak like them as well. Contradicting that, though, is the occasional introduction of futuristic tech that throws everything out of kilter. Why would this EVER happen in the 36th century? WHY? If you had the technology to travel from Earth into the Void to live in one of the planets inside it, why would you lose all that tech once you lived there?

The book's inclusion of magic added to the issue that this failed to fall in line with the SCIENCE FICTION genre it purports to fall under. It felt much more like a fantasy novel than its predecessor The Dreaming Void, with so much emphasis being placed on religion (the society depicted worship Ozzie, some kind of creator who allegedly actually existed in the backstory; the Skylord is an actual character that talks to people and advises them like an omnipotent being; they worship another Jesus-like absent character called The Lady, they fear Honious (hell); they use contemporary northern-English dialect like 'aught' (pronounced 'out') in the same paragraph as sentences with the verb shoved dramatically to the end (“Only in a nation where equality reins can this happen.”)

I've read a few SF novels in my time and a lot of them do feature ye-olde dialogue that should belong in the 18th century. Why? Even if you take away tech, would language also regress? Would behaviour? Christ, marriage as an institution is in decline right now in 2016. Do you really thing people are still going to get married 1500 years into the future? And even if you did, would you really need permission from the woman's father?

Another example of behaviour regressing- expelling bandits from a town rather than jailing or rehabilitating them, leaving them “out there” to attack anyone unlucky enough to be traveling between towns.

One minute the characters have ge-eagles- cyborg animals bred with linkup tech so that people can see through the eyes of these birds as they soar over the town- the next they're admitting they don't know what exists beyond the lands they currently occupy. If they have NO access to tech, how have they got these ge-eagles? Oh, and why are so many buildings made of wood? Do they have NO records of The Great Fire of London? And who the FUCK has a big brass pocket watch in the 35th century? ARRGH!

I've made so many notes about the lack of tech, but a lot of what annoys me is how society has gone backwards, not just science. Would you still have independent bakeries, or would you actually have the means to make bread in your own home? Or have one local shop that sells everything, like a Coop?

Characters have long, fancy names like Kristabel, which other characters refer to in full. You never hear her called Kris, or Edeard being called Ed. Not believable.

The bast parts of the novel for me were the parts away from the void- the sections featuring Paula Myo the investigator and Trobulum the physicist, and also a character called Mr Bovey, described as a 'multiple'- someone with one personality shared between numerous bodies. I loved the bionics- improvements to the human body to make people physically stronger and more athletic- and the memory cells, meaning that people could be “re-lifed” if they died with the cell intact. THAT is science fiction. Way too much of the novel was spent away from this, explaining very little of how the void's expansion affects the societies that live in nearby threatened worlds.

A slog to get through, and not what Science Fiction should be. Not a patch on The Dreaming Void. Next up, The Evolutionary Void, the final third in the trilogy. (My copy is signed by the author. Details here.)