Tuesday, 21 March 2017

So I Listened to... CTRL ALT Revolt!

I came across Nick Cole after hearing about CRTL ALT Revolt winning the Dragon Award for Best Apocalyptic Novel for 2016. I became curious as to what this book was like but was hesitant because I had quite a backlog (and still do) on my Kindle. I saw that an audiobook of it was available and took that route because I am able to get through these quicker, it turned out to be a great choice for reasons I am about to go into shortly. Nick was kind enough to join me on a live stream after I had finished it (and given it a five-star review) and we have become buddies online. Can it be argued that this piece is biased? Sure but I won't be bothered by that, I will always write about a good story or a bad one and give my thoughts. This story is not just a good one, but a great one as far as I am concerned.

An artificial intelligence has been slowly evolving inside the internet, watching humanity and considering it a threat. It begins with an assault by drones on the high-tech campus grounds of the Wondersoft Technologies company, it intensifies from there. Several characters stories are at first separate but as the threat increases and the story reaches its climax, they come together brilliantly.

A sign that can be considered a good one for me, whenever I listen to an audiobook, is how long I listen to one for in one go. With this I found myself listening to it in two-hour chunks on occasions just so I could see what was going to happen next. It was one of those stories where I could feel the tension slowly tightening and even felt shocked when a certain character met their end. It certainly deserved the Dragon award many times over as far as I am concerned.

The story behind what happened to Nick with this is well worth a read, especially for anyone considering going to a publisher. It is an example that freedom of speech will always prevail over censorship of any kind, especially the feelings of triggered little snowflakes in positions they don't deserve.

If anything, the icing on top of this wonderful cake is the voice of Mare Trevathan who narrates this audiobook. She reads with an easy going tone which ramps up when the tense scenes arrive, manages different accents with ease and takes on a delicate tone with the final scenes. Audiobooks live or die on their narrators and Trevathan gives a great performance in this ten-hour story, another reason I gave it five stars on Audible.

I recommended this to a few people now and will continue to do so. One day I hope to have Mare Trevathan read something of mine, based on her performance of this story alone and I remain hopeful that will happen. Give this a listen, it is another example that the best work can be found independently.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

So I Listened to... Elite: Mostly Harmless.

I had the pleasure of meeting Kate Russell when I attended Shemfest last year, she was an absolutely lovely lady and I hope to shake her hand once again sometime. After that day and after the two-day hangover I managed to get over, I decided to look up her book and see what it was like. I checked out Audible to see if an audio version was available of it and sure enough it was, a bonus was that it was read by Russell herself. I certainly don't mind if an author uses a hired narrator to read their work but sometimes it is nice when the author does it themselves, I found out soon enough that Russell did a great job of it.

Commander Angel Rose is a down-on-her-luck pilot who is frowned upon by her parents, things couldn't get much worse before she is forced into a life of crime and on the run before going on a mission that could well be the end of her. Mixed in with this are a bunch of interesting characters who ever want to help her, probably kill her, and even screw her in more ways than one.

What jumps out at the listener is the effort that has gone into the recording of this audiobook: there are different sound effects thrown in, one voice in particular which is most likely done with some computer help, a little music and even a cameo from David Braben himself near the end. The story, as well as Russell's performance, were motivation enough for me to back her Kickstarter for her next audiobook, and I look forward to its eventual release.

The story is just over eight hours long and was a fun listen, I certainly recommend it to anyone who is interested. I understand Russell not narrating her next work as I've read it can be a draining task, but I hope she does it again sometime; she was bloody good at it and deserves recognition for it.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Harassment Part 3.

I have the feeling that this is a topic I will never really finish talking about. However, I felt this third part of my writing about it needed to be put out there for reasons that will soon become clear.

I have a couple of friends, they are together and a really nice couple too.They are both on Twitter and use it for either fun, serious discussion, or just some banter. They both attracted the attention of a stalker, a rather nasty individual who went after them on various occasions and attempted to get one of them fired from his job by attempting to contact his employer. This stalker, appearing to use two different accounts on Twitter, also went after her for her appearance in photos of her that she had posted on the site. Despite numerous reports filed against the accounts in question, they are still tweeting abuse and harassment at the time of writing this.

I found out about the whole thing by accident and offered whatever support I could once I did, but realistically there was little I could do except be there for them. Twitter's Safety Council had obviously failed them so last I had heard, they had involved the police in the matter and are hopeful that they track this low life down.

So, why did I write this piece?

I chose to write this because I admired the way the two of them chose to deal with the whole situation. Neither of them screamed from the rooftops that they were being harassed, they did not plaster it over Twitter like many of the modern feminists do, they did not open a Patreon and appeal for donations. Did they even blame it on Trump or Brexit? No, they dealt with it quietly and privately as possible. Brad Wardell once said that "Trolls adjust their flames to burn you accordingly" and that appears to be what this little shit is doing, but I have an idea that the police knocking on the door will change their mind.

I admire that neither of them played victims in this because it certainly is the trend these days. I can only hope that this situation ends soon for them but I know I can do no more than to offer my support and be there if either of them needs to talk. Harassment is an ugly thing but when it is tackled properly and not by adding fuel to the fire, it could become a minor itch in life and not the problem it is now.

Names were purposely withheld from this article for protection and respect of those involved.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

So I Watched... Logan.

This was a film I had been looking forward to seeing for some time. Those who have read what I've written before know that I am a massive Wolverine fan, but really am not a fan of his replacement. Part of me was wary going into this because of X23 being in the film but since as this was Hugh Jackman's last turn as Logan, I was willing to deal with it.

To sum up the story without any spoilers, Logan is now an old man and not in the best shape, he is aging and his healing factor is not working as well anymore. He cares for Professor X, even older and suffering from a neurodegenerative disease and cannot control his powers without the aid of drugs, with the help of another mutant named Caliban. He is introduced to X23, who turns out to be his clone, whom he has to protect from a group called the Reavers, and get her to a safe place.

That is all I'll say about the story, but the film itself is amazing and in my mind, serves as a template of how to do a superhero movie properly. I can only guess that director James Mangold sat down with the studio and said that he wanted blood, gore, and swearing in his movie; they obviously agreed. It is a more satisfying movie as a result, anyone that comes into contact with either Logan or Laura's claws doesn't come away well and its a nice change from the kiddy friendly efforts of before. I can honestly say that had this not happened in the film, it would not have been such a good end result in my mind.

As for X23? I am happy to say that she was brilliant in the film, especially when she starts fighting. The writers of this film did a better job with the character than has been done in her current comic, but then again that was probably not too difficult. Dafne Keen does an amazing job as Laura Kinney and I could find no place in the movie to criticize her, my only hope is that perhaps the writer of All New Wolverine could take some notes from the performance. I say that because I'm pretty sure the only reason that series is still going is because of its name as when X23 had been in a series of her own before, it had been canceled due to low sales.

Knowing Hollywood, they will probably reboot Wolverine with a different actor but I doubt I will watch it; Jackman's performance cannot be beaten in my mind. I can only hope that if X23 gets her own movie that they will not soften the character for a younger audience but the cynic in me thinks otherwise. I will not watch another X-Men related film as I think they have squeezed too much out of the franchise at this point. I will happily sign off with this one, just like Hugh Jackman did so well and will certainly buy it when it comes out on Blu-Ray.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

So I listened to... The Adventures of Tom Stranger, Interdimensional Insurance Agent.

This audiobook was my first taste of Larry Correia, a recording of one of his novellas, and one hell of a fun and humorous story. I will always remember this with a chuckle as I was listening to this whilst on the rowing machine at my gym and I kept laughing and losing count of what I was doing.

The story is a funny one. Tom Stranger, the hero of the story, hops between dimensions dealing insurance with various races and acquires himself a new assistant along the way; but it turns out to be the wrong one. His proper assistant has been stuck behind a desk somewhere, this one has a... gender studies degree and occupied a street once. To tell any more would spoil the story but it is one of the funniest things I've heard in a long time.

The best part? It is narrated by the one and only Adam Baldwin himself, and his effort is nothing but perfect. The humor in this story is given a wonderful layer of icing on top of it by some of the tones he uses, especially when talking about the previously mentioned gender studies degree. To repeat what I said earlier: it really is one of the funniest things I have heard in a long time.

The audiobook is just over two hours long but this is reflected in the price, but if you are using Audible's monthly credit system then that really isn't a worry. Pick this one up, it's a great listen.