The Martian by Andy Weir

I discovered this book by an interview with the author that was on the StarShipSofa podcast. Weir came across as a proper decent, down to earth fella and as I listened to the interview and about the story I was getting more and more interested in it. Then it came up in the conversation that not only has it been optioned for a movie, it’s currently in production and is being directed by Ridley Scott and the lead is being played by Matt Damon, the rest of the cast is also very impressive.

That’s the movie though, I want to talk about the book. I got hold of it on Audio and damn its a good book.
The story is of Mark Watney, who gets abandoned on Mars during a sandstorm by the rest of the six person crew he is part of (they didn’t do it on purpose). Due to the storm he has no communications either.
Watney waking up in this situation is the start of the book. Then we get him setting up how he’s going to survive until the next mission to the red planet arrives. That doesn’t sound exciting, but believe me it is (not much goes to plan).
Watney has an awesome sense of humour that had me laughing multiple times throughout the story, but in other places I was on the edge of my seat (well, I would have been if I’d been sitting down). I think I probably did two or three fist pumps as well when something worked out well. Andy Weir really does get you caring about what happens to Mark Watney, I found I was really pulling for him to make it.

It’s not just about poor Mark Watney on Mars with no one else or no way to communicate with the rest of the human race. We see how things are going back here on earth after the mission to mars was aborted just six days into a thirty day mission.

There is more in the story but I really don’t want to say too much because it may lead to spoilers. Even if they’re only minor I don’t want to ruin anything for someone who is about to read this book. I went into it knowing only the basics and that added to my enjoyment.

I haven’t had this much fun with a book in a long time, please check it out. I’ll include the link to the StarShipSofa podcast episode where Andy Weir was interviewed. It’s a free podcast, so what have you got to loose? ūüėČ

http://www.starshipsofa.com/blog/2014/12/31/starshipsofa-no-368-brent-knowles-andy-weir/

State Of Play

I just wanted to share an update with how the writing is going at the moment. I’ll admit I’ve barely done much actual writing in the last few weeks but with Tracie(my¬†partner)¬†being in hospital for the best part of three weeks, having a couple of minor health irritations myself (I say irritations because they are very minor but incredibly irritating!) All that has knocked me off my pace a little.

Project Apollo will not have much done on it till early July as that is when me and Owen are sitting down to go through and plot out the ending of the story.

The Residents is still in the planning stages. When me and Chrystalyn (http://thefutureofhope.wordpress.com/) start writing this I think it’s going to be the most prepared that I personally have ever been when it comes to writing something. At the moment I am mainly focusing on two of the main characters backstory’s.

I was going to work on my zombie story for NaNoWriMo but I’ve had an idea about it today which may require a little more thinking time. I’ve always had in mind to write a second story in this series but I had a flash of an idea on what a third story might involve which makes it a trilogy. So I now need to think out how it is going to play out over three books. I know the basics of each story but I need to build them more thoroughly and I’m not sure I will have that done by November.

I think I have enough feedback from one of my short stories which I am going to read through once more myself, and maybe change the title of before I start sending it off for submission.

With Avoiding The Game I have decided to give it one last bash at making it work, but I will have to make a fair few changes to the story so I have all but decided to do a full re-write as it will be easier then trying to fit in what I have in mind.

At the moment I am reading Redshirts by John Scalzi. I am really enjoying it and I’m finding Scalzi’s¬† style to my liking and the humour in this novel is awesome ūüôā With everything that has happened recently I haven’t been reading much so hopefully this week I’ll get back into the swing of it.

And finally I’d just like to share a couple of links to interesting podcasts that I’ve heard lately. First we have two from The Dead Robots Society; http://deadrobotssociety.com/2013/06/11/episode-276-mid-year-check-in/; http://deadrobotssociety.com/2013/06/18/episode-277-robots-on-inspiration-point/

Next is an episode from the Escape Pod Science Fiction podcast. This is quite a snappy little story that I fell in love with and adored how it ended;  http://escapepod.org/2013/06/06/ep399-my-heart-is-a-quadratic-equation/

And Finally here’s one from the StarShipSofa podcast. The story in this episode is written by Tobias S. Buckell and Karl Schroeder.¬†I am familiar with both writers and I found this story was a great collaboration between two people whose work I enjoy;¬† http://www.starshipsofa.com/2013/05/21/starshipsofa-no-290-tobias-buckell-and-karl-schroeder/

 

I apologise for loading this post up with links but I believe in spreading the word about all things good and these are all very good. So I hope you check them out and get as much pleasure out of them as I have ūüôā

Some Good Stuff

Hey guys, I’ve got a couple of links here to some good fiction that I have heard in the last few days. Its been a while since I’ve heard some sort fiction that I have enjoyed enough to share so here it is ūüôā

 

Escape Pod

http://escapepod.org/2013/03/07/ep386-finished/

 

Pseudopod

http://pseudopod.org/2013/03/08/pseudopod-324-wings/

 

StarShipSofa

http://www.starshipsofa.com/2013/03/06/starshipsofa-no-279-rachel-swirsky/

 

I hope you take a moment to check these stories out as I enjoyed them hugely ūüėÄ

 

Id also like to share this link for a recent episode of the Dead Robots Society where the Robots interview writer Jake Bible. Mr. Bible wrote a book called Dead Mech which is set in a world after the Zombie apocalypse and in this world there are huge military mech suits and when an operator dies inside one and gets infected, becoming a zombie the zombie then controls this piece of military hardware.

It’s a¬†really good story which is the first of three books, I still need to read the second two.

I first found Mr. Bible via Scott Sigler. Sigler mentioned Dead Mech and collaborated with Mr.Bible on a story so I checked the story out and loved it. It had been released as a podcast.  Now though Mr.Bible has decided to walk away from podcasting and here he gives his reasons.

Again I would love for you to go and check these out as there is some amazing content here.

Today’s Post

More often than¬†not I never quite know how to start off a blog post, it’s the same as when I’m going to start writing. It does not matter whether I am doing what I am doing now and editing or continuing from where I left a story off, or starting from scratch on a whole new story. That initial lack of knowing where to start costs me maybe twenty minutes some days so I just try to start typing, which is what I did today and you all got this little ramble ūüėÄ

Now to what I really would like to talk about briefly today.

I want to give a shout out to two episodes of the amazing StarShipSofa. The first episode featured a short story by Ken Liu which provoked an emotional response from me. Here’s the link.

http://www.starshipsofa.com/2013/02/13/starshipsofa-no-276-ken-liu/

I am a strong believer in that if a story gets that sort of reaction out of me then the writer has done their job and in this case Mr. Liu has done a really good job. I’ve listened to a few of this mans stories which I’ve liked but with this one I will now make a point of looking out for his work. Mr. Liu’s site is below.

http://kenliu.name/

It’s rare that a story gets this reaction from me, or any real emotional reaction. So when I do find something by someone I pay attention. One of my Beta readers has said that one of my stories brought a lump to her throat which is a highlight of my short writing career.

The second episode from The StarShipSofa has a good piece of fiction in it by David D. Levine but it was the conversation on music in video games which made this episode stand out for me. It is a really interesting look at the music in some of the most popular video games over the last twenty years or so.

http://www.starshipsofa.com/2013/02/20/starshipsofa-no-277-david-d-lavine/

I have done a little editing tonight and I’ve just this moment remembered something that I need to note done for tomorrow…..Done.

In my Battlestar¬†Galactica marathon I have just watched the last episode of series two and will start series three¬†sunday or monday, once I’ve found the box set that is.

Now though I am off to crack on with a little more from The Gunslinger by Stephen King ūüôā

StarShipSofa Shout Out

Hey guys I’m just writing a quick post here to give a shout out to The StarShipSofa¬†Podcast.¬† I’ve missed a bunch of episodes when my pc was out of action so its been great listening to the show again and I’d forgotten just how much the host and editor, Tony C. Smith,¬†loves science fiction.¬†¬†The StarShipSofa¬†brings not only¬†great stories, but some fascinating interviews.¬† Some great fact articles from people who know what they are talking about.¬† The Science¬†talk articles are brilliant as are the look back at science fiction history, well its all good.¬† I listened to this one today, and I’ve got to say the story, by Ted Kosmatka, in this episode is¬†amazing.¬†It’s one of the best stories that I’ve heard in¬†a long time.¬† Here’s the link

 

http://www.starshipsofa.com/2012/12/04/starshipsofa-no-267-ted-kosmatka/

 

I’d strongly recommend checking the podcast and the website out ūüôā

Escape Artists

The first podcast that I ever listened to was An Escape Pod episode, the first one in fact.¬† I’m one of these people who when I start listening to A podcast I listen to the earliest episode that I can find.¬† I had never really known of short stories until Escape Pod grabbed me and its been one amazing journey since then.

Escape Pod taught me that Sci-Fi is not just spaceships and robots.  It took me into worlds that I had never realised existed.  The Trouble With Death Traps by Marjorie James is one of my early favourites.  Feng Burger by John Aegard is still one that I think often about.  The Girlfriends Of Dorian Grey by Gregory Frost was also very impressive.  Here I could on for ages listing episodes that really hit home but that would just turn into A list of many episodes, Okay one more. Conditional Love By Felicity Shoulders really hit home.  A great story.

I’m A little out of date with the podcast now as my PC is still broken ūüė¶ so I havent heard how the Podcast is going.¬† I do miss Steve Eley¬†but I’m A big fan of Mighty Mur Lafferty¬†and I like what she has done with the Podcast since she took the reigns.¬† She has such an easy, warm approached that has to of come from many years podcasting that must make newcomers¬†feel at ease with the podcast before the story even begins, she’s A damn fine narrator too.

http://escapepod.org/

Pseudopod is the horror wing of Escape Artists.¬† I love listening to this podcast but it rarely ever shocks me.¬† It again did the same thing that Escape Pod did, in the way that it showed me horror is not just gore¬† like Hollywood would have us think. Alasdair Stewart and Ben Phillips are great with this podcast.¬† Stewart’s deadpan delivery of the intro and outro’s are fascinating and keep A heart to the podcast.¬† Again he is A fine narrator also.

http://pseudopod.org/

Podcastle¬†has been the only part of the Escape Artists family that I had not taken too, until recently.¬† As I mentioned my Pc is broken which means I cannot update my iPod so I’ve been working through some of the podcasts that I had laying dormant on my iPod and I finally gave Podcastle¬†A proper run.¬† I had listened to A few of the episodes but they had never really caught me. I’m not A big fan of fantasy.¬† I was never A man for Unicorns or Dragons and so on, but again Podcastle had done what Escape Pod and Pseudopod have done in showing me that these genre’s are wide open.

http://podcastle.org/

Fantasy is not just Elves and Wizards, Sci-Fi is not just alien invasions nano-tech and Horror is not demons under the bed or hockey mask wearing psycho’s.¬† All genre overlap into each other and this can only make fiction better.¬† These Podcasts have given me fiction that have made me smile, cry and sigh.¬† The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

Escape Artists has given me more hours¬† of joy than I could possibly count.¬† I wonder how many people would like to buy Steve Eley¬†A drink and say ‘Thank You Dude’¬† I will forever be grateful¬†for what you have given me.¬† If it was not for¬†Steve then I may never have¬†discovered Scott Sigler, Phil Rossi, J.C. Hutchins, Mur Lafferty, Elizabeth Bear, Jeffery R. DeRego, Ted Chiang, The amazing¬†Tim Pratt and so many others.¬† As well as finding the podcasts like StarShipSofa.¬† http://www.starshipsofa.com/

If you like short fiction that look at these genre’s then check these links out.¬† They really are something special ūüôā

PC Died :(

Ten days ago my PC decided to die, it’s basically¬†stopped sending a signal to my monitor which means I can’t¬†see anything at all.¬† For all I know it may not even be powering¬†up properly.¬† Thankfully I have a laptop which is not yet eighteen months old, but ALL of my iTunes is on my PC as I don’t¬†want to overload my laptop with 2500 songs and about 5000 podcasts.¬† I¬†have not been able to update my iPod since then, this is very, very bad as I am now out of date with Escape Pod, StarshipSofa, Pseudopod, Scott Sigler’s podcast, Fighting Talk and the list could go on for a fair while.¬† Yes I could download them onto my Laptop and sync my iPod to that but then I lose¬†all the content that I have on my trusty old iPod Classic.¬† I can charge it without syncing so I thought “stuff it, I’ve got thousands of podcast episodes to get through so I should use this hiatus in my ability to sync to cut into some of these podcasts that I havent listened to yet”¬† So I have been.¬† Well, kind of anyway.¬† I’ve only really started listening to one that I havent before.¬† Adventures In SciFi Publishing is really, really bloody good!¬†

The two presenters Shaun and Sam are very funny and clearly know what they are talking about.  There is discussion of how the publishing world works as well as interviews with authors which are very insightful.  There is such an easy feel to this podcast that has made it very easy to listen to.  Like StarshipSofa you get A real enthusiasm from the people involved and an insight into the SciFi community as a whole.

For me Podcasts like this are gold-dust¬†as they give me A look into a world that I am not part yet.¬† Listening to StarshipSofa¬†and Adventures In SciFi¬†Publishing have introduced me to names in the genre that I need to know about.¬† I had never known of Issac Asimov or Phillip K. Dick and the rest of these SciFi¬†legends that I am ashamed to say that I’ve not really read, Although Asimov¬†‘sFoundation was amazing.¬† I’ve also got waiting to be read Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? and 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke.¬† I know that I don’t have to read these grandmasters of the genre but I feel that I must.¬† When I listen to people talking about how these authors influenced their lives I feel like I’ve been left out somehow.¬† I know people say that they are out dated and so on, but so is Romeo And Juliet.¬†

back to the dead PC though.¬† THankfully none of my writing that I am working on is on my PC, well what there is there is¬†backed upped on to my laptop so its only the loss of¬†my ability to sync iTunes that is lost, until payday and then I can get it fixed!!! ūüėÄ