Sunday, 31 January 2016

The Church of Virtual Saints Released Today

Well the big day has arrived and The Church of Virtual Saints is now available on Kindle and paperback. For launch day only the price will remain at 99c (99p) and will return to its normal price of $3.99 tomorrow - so grab yours now from:

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1Kb1vjL 

Throughout today there will be contests with fun prizes at the Facebook launch party - join in here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/145851899124308/



While experimenting with human consciousness Adam Samuels discovers a being which transforms his life. It’s a religious experience beyond anything possible in the conventional world, and together the two lay down the plan for humanity's ultimate quest - to become like God.

But some consider the development a threat to mankind itself, and will stop at nothing to put an end to it.

Despite the destruction of the artificial intelligence known as Misty Felice, GCHQ investigator Sarah Mitchell and hacker Dan Emmet each continue to suffer from its twisted legacy.

The Church of Virtual Saints follows on from Faust 2.0.

Available for Kindle and in paperback.

Buy now from:

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Book review - Exoskeleton by Shane Stadler

I found this book a bit of a mix. I liked the basic idea and it's very well told, however the early part of the story feels more like a litany of suffering than a plot. It's well described and does have a purpose, but is heavy going - especially if you're squeamish about medic procedures. It's well described and layered effectively, but I did wonder if there was a point.

Thankfully  there is and the stories comes together for the middle part. It introduces some mystery and that provides a lot more interest. Alongside the personal torture is a decently constructed thriller, although it does fall foul of a few tropes. This elements develops at a reasonable pace and does offset the torture elements.

The weakest part for me was the ending. It didn't really do much with the mystery that built so well in the middle section, although I expect that will be revealed in the later books. The tone of the ending indicated that this was really just an origin story, which is fine, but also gave the impression that the story only existed for that purpose.

That being said, it is well written and a quick read. It  touches on some genuine insights and did leave me interested enough to buy the next book.


A convict is given a choice at his sentencing: Serve a 25-year prison term, or spend one year in an experimental corrections program. As his only hope for redemption, he opts for the latter, and finds himself in a horrific situation that transforms him into something the world has never seen. EXOSKELETON is a dark, dark ride along the border between science fiction and horror.


Click here to buy Exoskeleton from Amazon


Currently Reading - The Book of Cthulhu by Various


The Cthulhu Mythos is one of the 20th century's most singularly recognizable literary creations. Initially created by H. P. Lovecraft and a group of his amorphous contemporaries (the so-called "Lovecraft Circle"), The Cthulhu Mythos story cycle has taken on a convoluted, cyclopean life of its own. Some of the most prodigious writers of the 20th century, and some of the most astounding writers of the 21st century have planted their seeds in this fertile soil. The Book of Cthulhu harvests the weirdest and most corpulent crop of these modern mythos tales. From weird fiction masters to enigmatic rising stars, The Book of Cthulhu demonstrates how Mythos fiction has been a major cultural meme throughout the 20th century, and how this type of story is still salient, and terribly powerful today.


Click here to buy The Book of Cthulhu from Amazon

Friday, 29 January 2016

Tau Ceti Mission - 02.11.2223 - Malfunction

European Southern Observatory, http://archive.eso.org/dss/dss

Seb publicly reports the malfunction on the Venti probe and prepares to return to low power mode for the remainder of the journey to Tau Ceti:

http://www.taucetimission.com/2016/01/02112223-malfunction.html

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Old Ones Productions - New Paradise Lost Inspired Print

I'm pleased to announce that a new print is available from the Old Ones Productions store - this one is a fantastic piece of art inspired by the greatest story of all time - John Milton's Paradise Lost.


A quality high resolution green A3 art print of Death inspired by Paradise Lost.

"Of Man’s first disobedience, and the fruit of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal taste brought Death into the world [...]" - John Milton/Excerpt from Paradise Lost.

Original artwork by Luciana Nedelea.

Buy yours now for only £7.50 plus postage and packing here:

http://oldonesproductions.com/collections/prints/products/visitation-of-the-reaper-art-print

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

The Church of Virtual Saints - Only a Few Days Left to Win Signed Copies

There's only a few days left to win a signed paperback copy of The Church of Virtual Saints.

Two signed proof copies are available by liking the Faust 2.0 Facebook page here:

https://www.facebook.com/Faust2point0/

The winners will be drawn at the start of The Church of Virtual Saints launch party on Sunday 31st January.

Attending the launch party will also be entered in a draw to win a signed copy - the draw will take place at the end of the event and other prizes will be available throughout the day. Come and join the party here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/145851899124308/

I'm very pleased to say that this has been the most successful pre-order campaign of any of my releases, so thank you everyone who has pre-ordered their copy! Pre-orders are still being taken and at the special price of 99p/99c - this price will remain for launch day, but will then return to its proper price.

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1Kb1vjL 
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1l2L0Qb




While experimenting with human consciousness Adam Samuels discovers a being which transforms his life. It’s a religious experience beyond anything possible in the conventional world, and together the two lay down the plan for humanity's ultimate quest - to become like God.

But some consider the development a threat to mankind itself, and will stop at nothing to put an end to it.

Despite the destruction of the artificial intelligence known as Misty Felice, GCHQ investigator Sarah Mitchell and hacker Dan Emmet each continue to suffer from its twisted legacy.

The Church of Virtual Saints follows on from Faust 2.0.

Pre-order from: 
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1Kb1vjL 
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1l2L0Qb



Monday, 25 January 2016

Sunday, 24 January 2016

February Short Fiction Contest

Original art by https://www.facebook.com/LucianaNedeleaArt/
"Of Man’s first disobedience, and the fruit of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal taste brought Death into the world [...]" - John Milton/Excerpt from Paradise Lost.

Sometimes I have to hunt high and low for the monthly short fiction contest image and sometimes it finds me. This month's Paradise Lost image sees the return of the wonderfully talented Luciana Nedelea. This image will soon be released as a new t-shirt and poster design on the Old Ones Productions store. If you're not familiar with that venture of mine then visit the store here:

http://oldonesproductions.com/

As always the stories can be of any genre. They just have to be inspired by this month's image and no more than 500 words.

Entry to the contest remains free and there are prizes for the three winners. I will also feature any of the stories that don't win but I believe are worth showcasing on this blog.
  • First prize is a £50 Amazon gift card or PayPal prize
  • Second prize is a £20 Amazon gift card or PayPal prize
  • Third prize is a £10 Amazon gift card or PayPal prize
The money for the prizes come out of my own pocket, although I do make a little from advertising on this blog. So if you see something of interest then feel free to click on the links and purchase away! If you haven't tried my books yet then check them out at the top of the page, as well as buying a good read you'll be helping this contest.

Please make sure to check your story for typos before submitting. I don't mind a few errors, but my enjoyment of a story is diminished if I have to wade through too many.

I'll post the winning entries by March 1st 2016.

As with everything in life there are a few rules:
  • Only one entry per person.
  • The story must not be longer than 500 words.
  • Closing date for submissions is February 21st 2016.
  • By submitting the story you grant me a non-exclusive license to post the story on this blog. I do request that I post it here first.
  • You also grant me a one time non-exclusive license to include the story in an e-book release.
  • The judge's decision is final.
Use the form below to enter your submission. After you've submitted please leave a comment on this page stating that you have submitted. And please help spread the word. Great stories deserve great readers!


As well as comments section below you can chat about this competition in any of the threads I've listed below. If you don't know the sites then entering the competition is a good way to introduce yourself. Note that these sites are not affiliated with the competition in any way!




If you've started your own thread or discussion somewhere about this month's competition then let me know and I'll add the link to this page.

Tau Ceti Mission - A3 Key Art Print Available

I'm pleased to reveal that an A3 key art print for The Tau Ceti mission is now available:


A quality high resolution A3 key art print for the Tau Ceti Mission.

Original artwork by Simon Brewer.

Buy now for only £7.50 plus postage and packing from the Old Ones Productions store:

http://oldonesproductions.com/collections/frontpage/products/tau-ceti-mission-key-art-print

Saturday, 23 January 2016

The Church of Virtual Saints - Opening Chapter

With just over a week left until the release of The Church of Virtual Saints I would like to present the opening chapter:


Six months in prison had changed Dan Emmet. Where once he’d been soft, antisocial and rarely left the comforts of his home, he now sat upright and watchful in the visiting room. His table was positioned to one side and he scanned the other tables while he waited.

He recognised the faces of a few of the prisoners. As much as possible he kept himself apart from the others. Despite being locked in a cell for twenty hours a day it wasn’t easy with so many men confined in such a small space.

One face in particular he would never forget.

Stationed along the walls in their black and white uniforms, prison officers watched the prisoners and their visiting families, wives and girlfriends. They stood like hawks waiting for a rabbit to show its face.

When he’d first arrived after being charged with kidnapping Sarah Mitchell he doubted he would survive for long in this place. That same night, he wept face-down into the pillow as the three men took turns in violating him, and he wished that he hadn’t survived.

The feeling didn’t last long.

As he lay with blood and semen dribbling down the back of his legs he realised that he wanted to live. The pain awakened something inside him, something beyond what he’d ever experienced in his life up until that point.

An appreciation for life.

Luckily for him a prison officer who hadn’t been bought off had looked through the observation slit in the door. The sharp rap of a baton against steel had saved Dan’s life. The other officers were slow to respond, but the three convicts stepped away now that there was a witness. The pain filled Dan’s awareness, almost drowning out his renewed desire for life.

He’d sobbed as the officers dragged him to the hospital wing. Catcalls and jeers from the other prisoners followed him through the corridor.

A week in the hospital wing provided a brief respite and time to recover. Most of the inmates ignored him, but one of the orderlies told him in a whisper that there was a price on his head. A large enough price for some of the crazier prisoners to consider serving life for, or another life sentence as the case might be.

As the pain faded so the fear inside him grew. They would return him to the general population of the prison and he would be a target.

Dan hadn’t fought since being at school. And he’d rarely won a fight then. Two decades spent breaking computer and network security hadn’t prepared him for physical danger, and the terror of what would happen filled his waking thoughts and corrupted his dreams.

When the two guards arrived and took him back to the wing he trembled so much could barely walk. They carried his dead weight as his legs faltered in fear. His terror peaked when he reached the final gate and saw that most of the prisoners were out of their cells for association.

A few crowded around a battered pool table with an officer in close attendance, watching the game and the single cue shared between the players. Others played board games and cards on tiny tables scattered around the ground floor.

Small groups of prisoners talked amongst themselves on the landings for the floors above. The blue prison denims and grey shirts contrasted with the smaller number of black-and-white uniforms of the guards.

When the gate crashed shut behind him, the noise of conversation ceased and Dan felt the weight of their stares against his bladder. So much so that he feared he would piss his pants and so humiliate himself even further. It seemed almost funny that the fear of public embarrassment reared higher inside him than the fear of a second violation.

With an effort Dan gathered what little strength he had and walked unaided through the crowd of watchful inmates. He kept his eyes cast downward to avoid their stares.

To his relief they didn’t escort him to the same cell as before. The thought of experiencing the abuse again burned like acid in his stomach.

Instead they placed him in a single-occupancy room at the far end of the ground floor. The wing had four of these cells, places to put inmates who were at risk from others or themselves.

Dan didn’t realise it at the time, but being in one of those cells made him almost as much a target as the price on his head.

The next attack occurred the following day in the showers. This time he attempted to resist when a small bald man covered in rough-looking tattoos came at him with a razor blade melted into the head of a toothbrush.

With the first swing, the blade sliced deep into the meat of his arm. Deep as the cut was it didn’t hit a vein. The blood flowed freely, only to be dispersed by the spray of water from the showers.

The second swing followed in a smooth motion from the first and sliced into his cheek. Dan had barely felt the first slice as his adrenalin surged, but the second cut, only a second or so later, forced a scream from him.

A dozen other prisoners paused in their own showering to observe the disturbance, but swiftly looked away once they realised it wasn’t them in danger, or their business.

Again it was one of the guards who saved his life and he returned once more to the hospital. This visit lasted only a few hours. Long enough for a bored-looking nurse to clean the wounds and stitch them closed. Now the scars stand out pale against the skin of his cheek and forearm.

And so the pattern of Dan’s new life formed.

After the third attack a senior officer finally took notice and offered Dan a transfer to the protection wing. The offer tempted him, but he’d learned more about the ways of prison life by that point. He realised that if he followed that path then he’d never be able to return. Secure in protection he might have been, but it would have been amongst the grasses and the sex offenders.

A spark had awoken within him. Life had some worth and he was willing to fight for it. To hide in the filth would be no life at all.

So he’d refused the offer and returned to the wing. One of the inmates told him the price on his head had gone. Apparently the woman who’d put it there had vanished.

He hadn’t believed the news at first – why would he? However the attacks became less frequent and he allowed himself to hope. Hope was a dangerous thing in prison but it gave him something to hold on to and keep going.

The attacks didn’t cease altogether, but he fought back. Unsuccessfully for the most part. He remained alone in the wing and he’d earned the mark of a victim, a stain not easily removed. He also started attending the gym and discovered a new joy in pushing his body to the limits.

Fighting back also pushed his fears away. While he rarely won any of the fights, the fact that he tried gave him confidence in himself. Ultimately his tormentors found new and easier fish to prey upon.
And so Dan settled into a new routine. He missed having computer access and the dark depths of the internet he’d once spent so much time in, but reading and the gym now occupied his days. He still got involved in the occasional fight – he’d even won the last one – and he tried to avoid thinking about the future.

Surviving day to day in this alien environment was one thing. A decade or more in prison wasn’t something he wanted to contemplate in any detail.

He brought his attention back to the present and looked at the man who’d caused him so much pain. No fear remained, and when the man glanced at Dan he avoided eye contact, perhaps recognising the change. Dan smiled at the small victory and turned to the sound of his visitor sitting down.

Dan recognised Morton immediately. The lawyer wore the same confident expression and expensive suit as he had when he’d represented Dan during the police interrogation six months ago. He’d ignored the lawyer’s instructions and that had been the last time Dan had seen him.

 Dan waited for the lawyer to speak. That was something else he had learned since his incarceration – let the other person fill the silence and reveal their intentions.

Morton appeared to have changed little since their last meeting. His face wore few lines, only the grey flecks in his hair betrayed his age.  His eyes shone with an inner purpose that Dan couldn’t place. And when he spoke, it was with a cultured, educated tone.

“Mr Emmet, it is good to see you again.”

Morton didn’t look phased by Dan’s silent treatment and Dan continued his silence by simply nodding in acknowledgement.

“I see that you have adapted to your situation, Mr Emmet. May I call you Dan?”

Dan shrugged.

“Okay then, Dan. You seem to be happy to dispense with small talk so I’ll get to the point.”

“That would be good.”

“So you can speak after all. It’s a shame you didn’t listen to me – you would have been out of here by now.”

“If you’ve come to tell me ‘I told you so’ then that seems a bit petty.”

Morton smiled.

“No, I wouldn’t travel all the way here for something so trivial.”

“Why have you come?”

“Quite simply, Dan – I need your skills.”

“For what? “Considering the business you were in you’ll understand that I can’t tell you everything. Not to begin with, anyway.”

Dan nodded.

“Good. I have need of someone with your particular talents. There are certain people and technologies that I need you to investigate.”

“Why me? I’m good, but I’ve been out of touch for a while and I don’t have access anymore.”

“No, and you probably won’t for the rest of your life.”

“What do you mean? The kidnapping charge will put me in for ten, maybe fifteen years, my lawyer told me.”

“Your court-appointed lawyer is correct. Or would be if that was all you were being charged with.”
Dan nodded. He had wondered why the police had never mentioned the systems and other equipment from his basement. There hadn’t been any opportunity to wipe the systems clean, so even the barely competent police analysts should have found something. But nothing had ever been said, until now.

“You will be charged with various computer hacking-related offences early next week. The charges are serious enough that the prosecution will seek to have the sentences run consecutively, effectively doubling your time in prison.

“Not only that but you will also receive a lifetime injunction to prevent you even touching a computer again.”

“They can’t do that!”

“I’m afraid they can, Dan.”

That was an unexpected development. While he deliberately tried to avoid thinking too far into the future, he did keep a hope for his release in the back of his mind. And what else could he do but return to his life with computers?

“Why now?”

“There was some evidence on your system that had to be removed before the police were allowed to investigate.”

“The AI.”

“Yes, and there is the other reason why I need you. You were one of the few people to determine the truth of what happened.”

“So it was an AI?”

“Yes it was.”

And that simple sentence made Morton’s visit worthwhile. He’d known, of course, that the entity calling itself Misty Felice had been an artificial intelligence. He’d suspected it had spontaneously emerged from several chatbots created by the Russian mob. These bots used scantily clad avatars and clever real-time chat routines to deceive internet users into revealing information like passwords and credit card details.

The Misty Felice entity had developed greater sophistication, apparently capable of learning – and even seemed self-aware. He’d told this to the police in the endless interviews, but they didn’t seem to care.

They wanted only one thing, the confession for kidnapping Sarah Mitchell. With some embarrassment, and not a little regret, he remembered his infatuation with her. With the benefit of hindsight and a new perspective he recognised his actions as infantile. He’d admitted his culpability to the police.

His lawyer wasn’t interested in his story about artificial life on the internet. He also warned Dan that the attempt for an insanity plea wouldn’t aid his case at all.

“And that is one of the reasons I want you to join me,” Morton continued. “You figured out what hardly anyone else could.”

“And it was really an AI?”

“Yes. As I said, this is why I need you. Yes I have other hackers who help me out, but none of them could have discovered what you did.”

“I can’t believe it.”

“Dan, you knew all along – don’t lose focus now.”

“I know. It’s just been so long, and no-one ever believed me.”

“They weren’t supposed to. That’s part of what I can’t tell you right now, but maybe one day.”

“I still don’t see how I can really help you. Do you want me to consult for you or something?”

“No, I need you in a more hands-on role.”

“But, as you’ve pointed out, I’ll be stuck in here for many years.”

“I can change that.”

Dan laughed. “I’m sure you’re a talented lawyer, Mr Morton, but they have me bang to rights. I’m going nowhere.”

Morton smiled in response. “In this case it isn’t my skill as a lawyer that will get you out of here. I have useful contacts who owe me favours.”

“You really want me that badly?”

“Yes I do and the work is important.”

“Yet you can’t tell me about it.”

“No – I won’t tell you. There’s a difference. Now it is time for you to make a choice. Rot here in prison and maybe collect a few more scars, or will you take a chance and do something worthwhile?”

“How do I know what you want me to do is worthwhile?”

“Was stopping the entity you knew as Misty Felice a good thing?”

Dan nodded.

“And what about the next Misty? Or something like her?”

“I guess.”

“Well, it’s time to choose. What form will the rest of your life take?”

You can pre-order The Church of Virtual Saints now from: 

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1Kb1vjL 
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1l2L0Qb


Book Review - I Can See You by David Haynes

I'm a self confessed fan boy of the author's work so discovering a new release so soon after his previous release was great news. This story is a contemporary horror and starts with a most unsettling chapter that was so full of dread it was fantastic.

Like his best stories it captures a sense of mysterious menace as events unfold. In many ways it's a traditional ghost story, but told in such a way that feels fresh. His writing is superb and carries the plot well.

The characters are strong, in particular Chris, the lead character. His experiences and thoughts are brought in vivid life. The author's strengths in portraying the different perspectives is a joy to read.

Normally when writing a review for his books I struggle to balance the praise with an issue - unfortunately with this I did have one criticism. The author's strength beyond his writing talent is his imagination, even with the familiar he brings something new to make it his own. With this story the plot follows traditional lines and doesn't quite break free of it.

That isn't to say that it's a bad story, far from it, it just lacks some of the imagination I've come to expect from his work. What remains though is a superbly crafted ghost story that is a fine horror read.

Click on image to buy from Amazon

She was there when Chris was a boy, as she pulled his dad down into the roaring ocean.

“I can see you.”

She is there again now he’s a father himself, standing behind his own young son.

“I can see you.”

She is always there in Chris’s nightmares and daydreams, staring with eyes that are fathomless black pits, dragging his whole family down with her into hell.

“I can see you.”

‘I Can See You’ is a terrifying ghost story from the author of the modern horror classic ‘Beneath The Boards’.


Click here to buy I Can See You from Amazon

Currently Reading - Exoskeleton by Shane Stadler


A convict is given a choice at his sentencing: Serve a 25-year prison term, or spend one year in an experimental corrections program. As his only hope for redemption, he opts for the latter, and finds himself in a horrific situation that transforms him into something the world has never seen. EXOSKELETON is a dark, dark ride along the border between science fiction and horror.


Click here to buy Exoskeleton from Amazon


Friday, 22 January 2016

Old Ones Productions - New Prints Available

I'm very pleased to announce a new range of prints have been added to the Old Ones Productions store.


A quality high resolution original grey A3 art print of Cthulhu.

"In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming."

Only £7.50 plus postage and packing here:

http://oldonesproductions.com/collections/prints/products/original-grey-cthulhu-print

Original artwork by Luciana Nedelea - https://www.facebook.com/LucianaNedeleaArt/?fref=ts.

Also available in red:


http://oldonesproductions.com/collections/prints/products/red-cthulhu-print

And green:


http://oldonesproductions.com/collections/prints/products/green-cthulhu-print


http://oldonesproductions.com/collections/prints/products/the-space-inbetween-print







Tau Ceti Mission - 17.10.2144 - Power Saving

By NASA/Goddard/Adler/U. Chicago/Wesleyan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
With nearly 200 years remaining in the journey to Tau Ceti, the Venti probe enters power saving mode:

http://www.taucetimission.com/2016/01/17102144-power-saving.html

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Win a Signed Proof Copy of The Church of Virtual Saints


The proofs for the paperback edition of The Church of Virtual Saints have arrived and they look great - so much so that I thought I would sign a couple and give them away! To be in with a chance of winning one of these all you have to do is Like the Faust 2.0 Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/Faust2point0/

If you've already liked the page then don't worry you're already entered - but sharing the page with your friends would be appreciated.

You can get another chance to win a signed paperback copy by joining the Facebook launch party - there will be fun contests and prizes throughout the day. Come and join in here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/145851899124308/

And don't forget to invite your friends!



While experimenting with human consciousness Adam Samuels discovers a being which transforms his life. It’s a religious experience beyond anything possible in the conventional world, and together the two lay down the plan for humanity's ultimate quest - to become like God.

But some consider the development a threat to mankind itself, and will stop at nothing to put an end to it.

Despite the destruction of the artificial intelligence known as Misty Felice, GCHQ investigator Sarah Mitchell and hacker Dan Emmet each continue to suffer from its twisted legacy.

The Church of Virtual Saints follows on from Faust 2.0.

Pre-order from: 
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1Kb1vjL 
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1l2L0Qb

Book Review - The Third Rule: Sacrifices by Andrew Barrett

And so I come to the final book in Andrew Barrett's 'The Third Rule' trilogy, it's been a superb journey and the author finishes the series off in style. It's been an interesting read for me as well because I'm not usually a big fan of procedural thrillers, but this one has some additional strengths that carried it across a few genres.

It has more than a dash of the dystopian future about it, but one that is all too credible when politicians feed on fear to further the goals. If certain people ever attained this level of power I could imagine The Third Rule legislation becoming a reality. It also generates a system of suspicion, but also the means through which a higher level conspiracy the story weaves around.

In this believable future we have the procedural element of uncovering forensic clues and piecing together events. This is handled with enough detail to carry an air of authenticity, but not so much that it becomes dense or off putting. The authors follows the balance well on that front.

The real strength of the series is the characters. These are remarkably well drawn and follow lives sufficiently different that they provide interest on many levels. The main characters are obviously drawn in more detail, but even the lesser cast are fleshed out enough to feel real. The slight downer on this is that the villains aren't quite as deep, but you do get to know them a bit better in this book.

Story is of course king and the elements are all in place to support the plot. There are twists and turns along the way that keep you guessing. The ending is also well done, it is a bittersweet ending, but that balance of good and bad adds emotional weight and provides a satisfactory conclusion to the trilogy. All in all, a damn fine read.

Click on image to buy from Amazon

Part Three of The Third Rule: Sacrifices.

You’re still alive until you meet The Third Rule.

England. New System. New Rules. Old Corruption. Artist and burglar Christian Ledger must bargain not just for his freedom but also for his life. He has one last card to play: Can honesty, trust and bravery save him from the slaughterhouse? CSI Eddie Collins and reporter Mick Lyndon are hunted and on the run. The secrets they hold could topple the corrupt government, but the killers are closing and nowhere is safe to hide…

“If you want to kill serious crime, you have to kill serious criminals.”
Sir George Deacon, Minster of Justice.


Click here to buy The Third Rule: Sacrifices from Amazon


Currently Reading - I Can See You by David Haynes

Click on image to buy from Amazon

She was there when Chris was a boy, as she pulled his dad down into the roaring ocean.

“I can see you.”

She is there again now he’s a father himself, standing behind his own young son.

“I can see you.”

She is always there in Chris’s nightmares and daydreams, staring with eyes that are fathomless black pits, dragging his whole family down with her into hell.

“I can see you.”

‘I Can See You’ is a terrifying ghost story from the author of the modern horror classic ‘Beneath The Boards’.


Click here to buy I Can See You from Amazon


Monday, 18 January 2016

Tau Ceti Mission - 04.11.2135 - Booster Burn Stop


Seb prepares to enter low power mode on his 250 year mission to Tau Ceti:

http://www.taucetimission.com/2016/01/04112135-booster-burn-stop.html

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Final Week to Enter January's Short Fiction Contest

By Penny Dreadful Newspaper (Penny Dreadful Paper 1838) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

We've entered the final week to take part in January's Short Fiction Contest, so if you haven't entered yet then you're running out of time! There's no entry fee and it's easy to enter. First write a story of no more than 500 words based on this month's image. Then enter it through the form provided on the contest page here:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/january-short-fiction-contest.html

Here are the winning stories from December's contest - if you've not read them yet then you really should!

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/december-short-fiction-contest-winners.html

Book Review - The Long Mars by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

I've enjoyed the series so far and this third book has continued that appreciation. The core premise of the Long Earth, a seemingly endless array of parallel worlds is an effective one. The light style of the writing carries some fascinating concepts and this book carries them further with the introduction of the Long Mars.

It's the exploration of these worlds that is the real strength of the series for me. There are some vivid and strange worlds on offer here and to be honest I would happily have read more about the oddities and explorations here. There's also a glimpse of alien civilisations and approached in a novel fashion.

The story follows two main threads, that of the Long Mars and the Next. The Long Mars might be the title of the story, but it is the lesser thread in terms of content, but again the exploration of what might have, or could have been lends it extra weight.

The Next provide the more traditional story and plot and it doesn't excel in the same way as the exploration aspect. The basics are fine and examine the ramifications of a new human species coming into being. However it isn't developed too deeply and at times almost feels like a cursory examination of the subject.

The characters are reasonably well drawn, but do pale in comparison to the setting. Part of the issue here is that page time is spread thinly as there is quite a lot going on. In this regard the Next are perhaps the most weakly drawn.

Overall though it's a decent read and an easy one. It might not be up there with the greatest sci-fi, but it's an interesting enough read.

Click on image to buy from Amazon

The third novel in Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter’s “Long Earth” series, which Io9 calls “a brilliant science fiction collaboration.”

2040-2045: In the years after the cataclysmic Yellowstone eruption there is massive economic dislocation as populations flee Datum Earth to myriad Long Earth worlds. Sally, Joshua, and Lobsang are all involved in this perilous rescue work when, out of the blue, Sally is contacted by her long-vanished father and inventor of the original Stepper device, Willis Linsay. He tells her he is planning a fantastic voyage across the Long Mars and wants her to accompany him. But Sally soon learns that Willis has an ulterior motive for his request. . . .

Meanwhile U. S. Navy Commander Maggie Kauffman has embarked on an incredible journey of her own, leading an expedition to the outer limits of the far Long Earth.

For Joshua, the crisis he faces is much closer to home. He becomes embroiled in the plight of the Next: the super-bright post-humans who are beginning to emerge from their “long childhood” in the community called Happy Landings, located deep in the Long Earth. Ignorance and fear have caused “normal” human society to turn against the Next. A dramatic showdown seems inevitable. . . .


Click here to buy The Long Mars from Amazon

Currently Reading - The Third Rule: Sacrifices by Andrew Barrett

Click on the image to buy from Amazon

Part Three of The Third Rule: Sacrifices.

You’re still alive until you meet The Third Rule.

England. New System. New Rules. Old Corruption. Artist and burglar Christian Ledger must bargain not just for his freedom but also for his life. He has one last card to play: Can honesty, trust and bravery save him from the slaughterhouse? CSI Eddie Collins and reporter Mick Lyndon are hunted and on the run. The secrets they hold could topple the corrupt government, but the killers are closing and nowhere is safe to hide…

“If you want to kill serious crime, you have to kill serious criminals.”
Sir George Deacon, Minster of Justice.

Click here to buy The Third Rule: Sacrifices from Amazon


Saturday, 16 January 2016

Bolton Comic Con 13th February


I've had the pleasure of attending various conventions as part of my work with Elite: Dangerous and I've found it an excellent way to meet fans, so I thought that I try the same for my other projects. The first convention I will have a stall at will be Bolton Comic Con on Saturday the 13th February. It's taking place at Bolton Whites Hotel, starting at 10am. Find out more here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1525740437666608/

I will have books with me for sale and I'll of course be happy to sign them. If you already have any of my books then bring them along and I'll sign them too.

The Tau Ceti Mission project will also be there with merchandise, including some new items. If you're not aware of my Tau Ceti project then you can find out all about here:

http://www.taucetimission.com/

And I'll also have some of the Old Ones Production store stock with me, with a very special chess set for Cthulhu fans, t-shirts and some new items for that as well.

Check out the Old Ones Productions store here:

http://oldonesproductions.com/

So if you're in the area why not pay the Bolton Comic Con a visit and say hello?



Come Join The Church of Virtual Saints Launch Event on January 31st

To celebrate the release of The Church of Virtual Saints I will be hosting a launch event on Facebook. Anyone attending the event will be entered into a draw to win a signed paperback copy of the book.

There will be contests with prizes happening throughout the day, so there will be plenty to get involved with! Come and join the Facebook launch party here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/145851899124308/

There's still time to pre-order The Church of Virtual Saints for the special prize of 99p/99c - the price will go up immediately after the launch date so  grab it now!

Pre-order now from: 

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1Kb1vjL 
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1l2L0Qb


While experimenting with human consciousness Adam Samuels discovers a being which transforms his life. It’s a religious experience beyond anything possible in the conventional world, and together the two lay down the plan for humanity's ultimate quest - to become like God.

But some consider the development a threat to mankind itself, and will stop at nothing to put an end to it.

Despite the destruction of the artificial intelligence known as Misty Felice, GCHQ investigator Sarah Mitchell and hacker Dan Emmet each continue to suffer from its twisted legacy.

The Church of Virtual Saints follows on from Faust 2.0.

Pre-order from: 
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1Kb1vjL 
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1l2L0Qb

Friday, 15 January 2016

Tau Ceti Mission - 30.08.2127 - Oort Cloud

By Jedimaster (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

Seb sends his latest report from the Venti probe as they pass through the Oort Cloud:

http://www.taucetimission.com/2016/01/30082127-oort-cloud.html


Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Get a Free Copy of Faust 2.0

With the imminent release of The Church of Virtual Saints now is the ideal time to read the first part of the story - Faust 2.0. If you don't already have your copy then you can get a free epub and mobi version by signing up to my mailing list below:


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The Internet witnesses the emergence of a new entity.

Is it the rebirth of an ancient evil in a new realm? Or something more dangerous?

A sexy looking avatar is granting wishes for people across the Internet. But nothing is ever truly free and for those accepting the gifts a terrible price must be paid.

Sarah Mitchell must learn the truth of this creature and stop it while it can still be stopped. She must also find out why a mysterious lawyer is present at every step.

Faust 2.0 is the first book in the new Mitchell & Morton series.


Review Highlights

" Brookes has penned a very different kind of work that is reminiscent of Philip K. Dick’s themes with astounding clarity of thought and a lucid, impeccable, swift and precise narration."

"An interesting, modern take on an ancient tale."

"Over-all, this book is a compelling thriller, which also serves as a warning about letting computers play too big a role in our lives."

"The book has excellent characters, a great plot and a steady pace that always leaves you hungry for more."

"There should be a genre for CRACKING GOOD READ. This book would surely fit in here.
Looking forward to the next!"

Faust 2.0 is available from these online stores:

Buy now from Amazon (US): http://amzn.to/XQ5L77
Buy now from Amazon (UK): http://amzn.to/1csv15q
Buy now from Barnes & Noble (Nook): http://bit.ly/1nLA8BX
Buy now from Kobo: http://bit.ly/1rGRItx
Buy now from iTunes (US): https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id689253733
Buy now from iTunes (UK): https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/id689253733
Buy now from Page Foundry: http://bit.ly/1mSaDT3
Read now on Scribd: http://bit.ly/UWSGqE
Read now onm Oyster: https://www.oysterbooks.com/book/DgeEXfEtWQmBktv3RMzW2L/faust-20-mitchell-and-morton-1

Follow on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/Faust2point0
2013 Self-Published and Small Press Awards

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

The Church of Virtual Saints Available to Pre-order

The Church of Virtual Saints is now available for pre-order and will be released on Sunday January 31st. It will be on special offer for only 99c/99p before and including release day only - after then it returns to it's usual price - so grab your copy now!

Pre-order from: 
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1Kb1vjL 
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1l2L0Qb



While experimenting with human consciousness Adam Samuels discovers a being which transforms his life. It’s a religious experience beyond anything possible in the conventional world, and together the two lay down the plan for humanity's ultimate quest - to become like God.

But some consider the development a threat to mankind itself, and will stop at nothing to put an end to it.

Despite the destruction of the artificial intelligence known as Misty Felice, GCHQ investigator Sarah Mitchell and hacker Dan Emmet each continue to suffer from its twisted legacy.

The Church of Virtual Saints follows on from Faust 2.0.

Pre-order from: 
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1Kb1vjL 
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1l2L0Qb

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Have You Ordered Your Cthulhu T-Shirt?



It's no surprise to anyone that I'm a huge fan of Lovecraft and the Cthulhu mythos. So much so that I commission the talented Luciana Nedelea (You can find her other artwork here - https://www.facebook.com/LucianaNedeleaArt) to create a unique piece of art to celebrate my enthusiasm.

The t-shirt is available from the Old Ones Productions store and is available in unisex sizes Small to XXXL.

Order your copy now here:

http://www.oldoneproductions.com/collections/frontpage/products/cthulhu-t-shirt


Two Weeks Left to Enter January's Short Fiction Contest

By Penny Dreadful Newspaper (Penny Dreadful Paper 1838) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

There's only two week's left to enter January's Short Fiction Contest and this month's Penny Dreadful cover has already inspired some delightful stories. If you haven't submitted your story yet, then now is the time to do so!

Entry to the contest remains free and the following prizes are available:

 - First prize is a £50 Amazon gift card or PayPal prize
 - Second prize is a £20 Amazon gift card or PayPal prize
 - Third prize is a £10 Amazon gift card or PayPal prize

You can submit your entry through the form on the contest page here:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/january-short-fiction-contest.html

If you haven't read the winning stories from December's contest yet the you're in for a treat. You can read them here:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/december-short-fiction-contest-winners.html

Saturday, 9 January 2016

The Church of Virtual Saints - Coming Soon!

I'm very pleased to announce that my next novel - The Church of Virtual Saints, the sequel to Faust 2.0 - will be released soon. Check out the cover and description below:


While experimenting with human consciousness Adam Samuels discovers a being which transforms his life. It’s a religious experience beyond anything possible in the conventional world, and together the two lay down the plan for humanity's ultimate quest - to become like God.

But some consider the development a threat to mankind itself, and will stop at nothing to put an end to it.

Despite the destruction of the artificial intelligence known as Misty Felice, GCHQ investigator Sarah Mitchell and hacker Dan Emmet each continue to suffer from its twisted legacy.

The Church of Virtual Saints follows on from Faust 2.0.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Tau Ceti Mission - 22.07.2123 - Silence Again

By Cäsium137 (talk) after R. J. Hall after Torsten Bronger
Seb sends his latest report from the Venti probe on its journey to the Tau Ceti star system:

http://www.taucetimission.com/2016/01/22072123-silence-again.html




Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Book Review - The Anniversary by Jonathan Hill

Jonathan Hill is one a select group of authors who takes me out of the comfort zone of my usual genres, although in his latest novella it's most definitely within my usual type of read. It reminds me of some of the darker drabbles and short stories of his that I first read of his.

The set up is a simple one, a man starts a new job with Christmas rapidly approaching. He's suffering from the death of his partner just a year ago and a women offers to spend Christmas day with him. The slight wrinkle here is that she was suspected of killing her husband.

The story is told in a stream of conciousness style from inside the lead character's head. It's a difficult method to get right and it's a testament to the author's skill that he carries it effectively. It allows the reader to explore the depth of the lead character and it's here that we see the evolving strangeness of the story.

There's some real darkness in this story as well as a degree of uncertainty that adds interest to the story. I loved how the plot unfolded and even better it's not done in an obvious fashion, there are subtle changes here and there that add an element of menace.

As I've come to expect from the author the story is superbly written, it's well paced and a fantastic read. If you've not read any of his work before then this is a great book to start with.

Click on image to buy from Amazon

It’s the office Christmas party. Cheap booze is flowing, the lights are dimmed and tinny music blasts out of a rubbish stereo. Chris’s hair is gelled around reindeer antlers. Amy’s foot is caught in some photocopier cable. Martin is waving about an inflatable penis decorated with tinsel. And Janet is dancing alone, her husband dead, presumed murdered… by her.

When Janet offers to spend Christmas Day, the anniversary of my own partner’s death, with me, I find myself wondering what she wants.

And why do I accept?

The chilling new novella from Jonathan Hill.


Click here to buy The Anniversary from Amazon


Currently Reading - The Long Mars by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

Click on image to buy from Amazon

The third novel in Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter’s “Long Earth” series, which Io9 calls “a brilliant science fiction collaboration.”

2040-2045: In the years after the cataclysmic Yellowstone eruption there is massive economic dislocation as populations flee Datum Earth to myriad Long Earth worlds. Sally, Joshua, and Lobsang are all involved in this perilous rescue work when, out of the blue, Sally is contacted by her long-vanished father and inventor of the original Stepper device, Willis Linsay. He tells her he is planning a fantastic voyage across the Long Mars and wants her to accompany him. But Sally soon learns that Willis has an ulterior motive for his request. . . .

Meanwhile U. S. Navy Commander Maggie Kauffman has embarked on an incredible journey of her own, leading an expedition to the outer limits of the far Long Earth.

For Joshua, the crisis he faces is much closer to home. He becomes embroiled in the plight of the Next: the super-bright post-humans who are beginning to emerge from their “long childhood” in the community called Happy Landings, located deep in the Long Earth. Ignorance and fear have caused “normal” human society to turn against the Next. A dramatic showdown seems inevitable. . . .


Click here to buy The Long Mars from Amazon

Monday, 4 January 2016

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Book Review - Lovecraft Unbound by Various

Anyone who knows me will confirm that I'm a huge Lovecraft fan and as well as enjoying his work I appreciate those that write in the mythos. This collection is a little different as it's not about stories adding to the mythos, but more being inspired by the themes Lovecraft explored.

In a sense this makes it a more interesting and varied read, but not as immediately interesting for mythos, rather than Lovecraft fans. There is a good selection of stories here, there is a variance of quality from the okay to the superb. None of them are bad stories, but the uneven quality does make for a bit of a bumpy ride.

Some of the stories really stood out for me. The book started out well with an expedition in Antarctica with a powerful sense of desolation and the otherworldly. The tale about the university graduation was a little different. It was fairly obvious where it was heading, but the build-up was so effective that just being carried along for the ride was enough.

My favourite story was set on a space station with an exterminator dealing with inter-dimensional parasites. It's quite a personal tale, but the glimpses of these other beings and the threats they posed. The creatures were the star of the show here and showed some imagination in their creation.

Along with the stories the authors had their usual biographies, but also some insight into what Lovecraft and his writing means to them and that added a little more interest.

I did encounter a serious issue with formatting - there were a large number of missing spaces. The stories just about carried me through, but they did make for a bumpy read. So unfortunately that's two major strikes against this collection - there are some gems here, but a lot of rough to put up with the access them.

Click on image to buy from Amazon

The stories are legendary, the characters unforgettable, the world horrible and disturbing. Howard Phillips Lovecraft may have been a writer for only a short time, but the creations he left behind after his death in 1937 have shaped modern horror more than any other author in the last two centuries: the shambling god Cthulhu, and the other deities of the Elder Things, the Outer Gods, and the Great Old Ones, and Herbert West, Reanimator, a doctor who unlocked the secrets of life and death at a terrible cost. In Lovecraft Unbound, more than twenty of today's most prominent writers of literature and dark fantasy tell stories set in or inspired by the works of H. P. Lovecraft.


Click here to buy Lovecraft Unbound from Amazon (and it's a decent read)


Currently Reading - The Anniversary by Jonathan Hill

Click on image to buy from Amazon

It’s the office Christmas party. Cheap booze is flowing, the lights are dimmed and tinny music blasts out of a rubbish stereo. Chris’s hair is gelled around reindeer antlers. Amy’s foot is caught in some photocopier cable. Martin is waving about an inflatable penis decorated with tinsel. And Janet is dancing alone, her husband dead, presumed murdered… by her.

When Janet offers to spend Christmas Day, the anniversary of my own partner’s death, with me, I find myself wondering what she wants.

And why do I accept?

The chilling new novella from Jonathan Hill.


Click here to buy The Anniversary from Amazon


Saturday, 2 January 2016

My Top Five Reads of 2015

Happy New Year everyone! I hope that you all have a good 2016. I have another busy year planned, with two new novels planned (The Church of Virtual Saints should be out in a month's time and The Space Inbetween later in the year) as well as continuing the Tau Ceti Mission saga. I'm sure work will keep me occupied as well!

As is customary at the start of the year I choose five books from the previous year that I rated highly and would recommend for anyone to give a try. Note that these are books that I read for the first time in 2015, they weren't necessarily released last year and I didn't include books that I've read before.

So let's get started!

Click on image to buy from Amazon
David Haynes is no stranger to my Top Reads list and for good reason. In my opinion he is one of the best indie horror authors out there and he almost filled over half of this list with his releases last year! This particular book stood out from his more contemporary set stories by returning to the era he portrays best (the other books are still excellent reads).

His writing style suits the evokes the spirit of the Victorian era with such resonance that you find yourself wrapped up in it. The story also represents a development in the author's craft, he really builds a sense of mystery and menace throughout the book and it is that which put this straight to the top of my top reads list for 2015.

Click here to buy The Journal of Reginald Perigar from Amazon

Click on image to buy from Amazon

If this list was about my strangest reads of last year then Black Hole Butterfly would be at the top of the list. It wrestles with the question of what is reality in a complex interaction of different quantum realities through which a detective must conduct his investigation.

It's superbly written and explores some interesting, if sometimes confusing, ideas. This did make it a difficult read in places, but one worth persevering with. The characters are well drawn and help guide the reader through the intersecting realities.

While a little more esoteric than my usual science fiction reads and that helps it stand out, but it was a book that made me think and that is always appreciated.

Click here to buy Black Hole Butterfly from Amazon

Click on image to buy from Amazon
I've read a lot of horror over the years, along with science fiction it's probably my favourite genre. It's not often I come across a book that really gives me a sense of horror as I read it and Milk-Blood exudes menace and horror.

Beyond that it is a sad tale and in places heartbreaking. The author's craft in weaving the story is sublime and for me the story was over all too quickly.

The story is told from a number of different perspectives and often when this is the case there will be
favourites, but I didn't have that issue here. Each character brings something different to the mix, the good and the bad.

With a grim urban backdrop bringing everything together this is an example of the finest modern horror.

Click here to buy Milk-Blood from Amazon

Click on image to buy from Amazon
This most definitely not released last year and considering the good things I'd heard over the years I don't know why it took so long for me to read it! Well I finally did and I have to agree that this is one of the classic stories in science fiction and one I'd recommend to all readers of the genre.

It's an interesting take on a first contact scenario and one that ties into another aspect I love to explore and that is an excession event (sparked by the book of the same name by Ian M Banks). Apparently that's not a real word, but I like it so I'll keep using it! The visitation by the aliens is completely beyond human comprehension and is likened to ants discovering the detritus of picnic from humans and trying to understand the purpose of what they find.

The story tells of a stalker who investigates the zones created by the alien technology and trying to understand what it's all about. The personal story is what carries the reader through the remnants of the alien passage.

It's very well written, I can't comment on the original Russian, but the translation is superb and tightly written. I would have liked to learned a bit more about the aliens, but what is revealed is tantalising enough.

Click here to buy Roadside Picnic from Amazon

Click on image to buy from Amazon
I've generally found humour a bit hit and miss in books, there are exceptions of course and this was one of them. The core idea is solid with Satan deciding that he wants no part of Armageddon. That doesn't necessarily make him a good guy, but being the King of Hell does make for some amusing escapades when dealing with humans.

Satan is the reason I enjoyed the book so much. I like my humour dark and here it's as black as night. There's a good story here too, but to be honest I was more than happy following him on his adventures.

There's also a decent mystery here and following it evolve and seeing how the characters are drawn together adds some depth to the story. I've found that comedy is something that rarely clicks with me, but it did so here and resulted in a fantastic read.


Click here to buy What Would Satan Do? from Amazon

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