Thursday, 30 December 2010

Obligatory Christmas Post

So it’s that time of year again, and I’d like to apologize for being so late with my updates. After an eight hour long train ride, half of it was made up of actually waiting for the bastard to arrive, I was left with a feel of nothing more than sheer disgust at this country’s inadequacy to cope with snow. I’m sorry but four hours late?! The Fat Controller would not stand for this shite.

Anyways Christmas was good, there’s nothing quite like seeing old friends and family after three months away from home to make you appreciate the life you left behind (and sincerely regret being the only one with working internet in a house where every other person has Facebook). But I still miss Lancaster, and I cannot bloody wait until my return on the 6th of January. I’ve seriously loved having the freedom life as a student gives you, the only restraints being my bank balance, but after getting a job at my local off-licence I should be financially sound for the next semester. Can’t bloody wait.
Anyway my apologies again for the belated Christmas greetings. Work for my course has been something of a priority these last few weeks, and as I said I’ve barely been able to get on my computer thanks to my ‘darling’ brothers and sister. Looking forward to going back up North.

So a Merry Belated Christmas to all my watchers (watching me makes you the single most awesome outfit of people in the world) and a Happy New Year to all.

Regards, the Beard

Saturday, 4 December 2010


Well since I couldn't think of anything specific to whinge about this week (unusual for me) and the fact that I've been dying with a cold for the past few days I thought it might be an oppurtunity to share some of the samples of writing for my English and Creative Writing Course. Here's one I've to hand in next Tuesday, and my first proper venture into science-fiction. I had a word limit of 2200 (2000 really but with 10% either way), which sucked because it meant I wasn't able to include as much as I'd wanted, but I'm still pleased with the result. Any feedback, negative or positive, is welcomed, although I should just point out that the theft/copying/unauthorised use of my story carries the death penalty, featuring a whipping, a stoning, a hanging and a furious drunken beating with a shillelagh, and not nessecarily in that order. Enjoy ^^


With thrusters blazing and exhausts glowing, the twenty-thousand tons of steel that was the BLADEFIRE steamed serenely through the stars, seemingly ignorant of the vast array of colours it left behind. So vast was the cruiser, and yet barely covered the smallest fraction of the vast and eternal sky that was space. BLADEFIRE, Queen of the Stars, Sword of the Empire. Her vast armoured hulk bristled with cannon from bow to stern, except for a clear section which formed a large hatch where the ships 300 starfighter craft could be launched. A dozen torpedo launchers ran up and down the BLADEFIRE’s bow on their side, and mounted on deck were six large-bore guns, capable of reducing any enemy vessels to a smouldering wreck with a single volley. All this power, all this strength, under the command of one man, Captain Phallen O’Kraen. But right now, the Captain stood before the assembled off-duty crew, observing the burial ceremony from the bridge. Flags and banners waved above the hundred or so honour guard who’d been turned out in ceremonial blue uniforms, as the small procession of coffin bearers paraded through the assembled guardsmen, under the tall glass dome of the main deck, the crysteel being all that separated the ship’s occupants from the black abyss of space.

“BURIAL DETAIL, PRESENT ARMS!”. A drill sergeant screeched at the assembled guard, who raised their blaze-guns as a mark of respect to the dozen coffins transported before them. Flowers and wreaths were laid before the procession as they marched stoically forwards, bearing the twelve steel caskets that contained the bodies of eleven men and one officer that had not survived the raid. More had died, O’Kraen new the number to be well over thirty, but their bodies could not be recovered. A tragedy, those men had made the ultimate sacrifice and yet their bodies could never be put to rest. But they would be remembered. The Captain would make sure of it.

The men had been marines. Some of the best men whose job it was to board other ships and defend their own as soldiers. Their enemy had been a pirate frigate who’d foolishly fired a salvo of missiles into the BLADEFIRE’s port side. After returning fire, which obliterated the ship’s engines, the BLADEFIRE had run alongside to allow boarding parties of marines to round up the crew and bring their captain to trial. The mission had been a success, but somewhere along the line something had gone wrong, resulting in the seventy or so deaths. Worse still, before the men had had time to capture the captain and fall back to the BLADFIRE, the frigate had exploded. Why it had was still in debate; many believed the BLADEFIRE’s bombardment of the enemy’s engines had caused some backlog of steam that had apparently built up until the inevitable. However, more of the crew, O’Kraen included, believed the captain of the vessel had mined his ship to stop his cargo falling into the hands of the enemy. It was not unheard of, and O’Kraen had seen plenty of action and spent too many years fighting the bastards to not know their tactics as well as they themselves did. O’Kraen felt nothing but cold hate for the brigands and criminals who roamed the galaxies, preying on lone vessels in remote, unguarded sectors, massacring all on board before making off with their loot into the unknown. And now, they had killed some of O’Kraen’s best men.
“Such a waste”, he muttered under his breath. Lieutenant Aeren looked around. The officer wore a uniform of sky blue with red and gold braiding, and a peaked cap with a gold badge of the Fleet’s crest. Indeed, his colours were almost identical to his captain’s, although O’Kraen’s featured a great deal more badges, medals and overall decoration than his subordinate’s.
“Indeed sir”, he said solemnly, “Such is the nature of battle”. O’Kraen grunted as he continued to watch the procession below. The coffins had been laid in regimented order, and now a small stream of close friends and relatives to the dead men stepped out of file to lay wreaths and messages on the caskets of their former comrades. Soon the steel boxes would be ejected from the safety of the ship’s dome and launched into space, such was the official procedure. Personally O’Kraen felt it was at the very least an insult to any man or woman who’d died in their duty, but being a mere captain of the Empire’s finest fighting vessel, he was in no position to protest.

“I see young Lysander has gone”. O’Kraen looked to where Aeren was gazing. A young officer waited at the back of the queue to lay a wreath on one of the coffins, wearing an immaculate dress uniform and bearing a wreath of black and white ribbon.
“Who’s coffin?”.
“That would be the late Lieutenant Maxlain Venn, 2nd Company”, replied Aeren, “I believe he and Lysander were close”. O’Kraen sighed. He noticed how Lysander remained oddly stiff, even as he knelt down to place his tribute. He also noticed how the young man took slightly longer than his comrades to pay respects.
“Perhaps a word from the captain would help the lad?”, suggested Aeren. O’Kraen nodded.
“Later”, he said firmly, watching as Lysander turned and stepped back into file with the other junior officers, “Let him grieve for now”.

He had not gone to the wake. Why should he? Maxlain was dead because of him, why should he celebrate his friend’s demise? A lot was on the young man’s mind as he drew his sword and stared down his opponent. Of course it made no difference; training droids were not subject to physiological combat. The drill-chamber was a wide room, with spacious floors and tall windows that looked out into the ocean of stars and planets the BLADEFIRE passed on her voyage. Usually, the deck was alive with the sounds of officers and marines practising their tactics on the firing range, climbing walls or sword training with the use of these droids, which would thrust, swing and parry by use of movement-sensing tracers placed at strategic points on the droid’s body. However, tonight there was no one other than Lysander. It suited him fine. He wanted to be alone.
The lights on the machine’s chest suddenly turned from red to green, and it launched forwards, bringing its blade in for the ‘kill’. Lysander deflected the blow and brought his sword into contact with the droid’s ‘arm’. The robot suddenly stiffened, before taking a few steps backwards to mark its defeat. Lysander adjusted his footing and prepared for another assault. He wasn’t a bad swordsman, but ‘not bad’ wasn’t good enough. Not anymore. Maxlain, and many other good men and women, had perished needlessly. It should have been him to go. By the stars is should have. The droid struck again. This time Lysander stepped forwards on the offensive, and jabbed his blade at the trainer’s middle. Again, the infernal mechanoid stiffened as though dead, before retreating backwards. It just wasn’t the same. The slightest touch and he’d won. But in the real world, in real combat, in a real fight, it was not so simple. Max had known that. Known the dangers, knew the risks. And yet he’d stayed behind. Stayed with a small section of men, bellowing for Lysander to pull back. And then of course they’d received orders to evacuate the vessel. And of course, Max simply had to hold off the counter-attack by himself. Simply had to be the hero, simply had to sacrifice himself so his comrades would live. Lysander could remember the shouting, begging Max to get out of there. But the stubborn fool had insisted. The last thing Lysander had seen of his friend had been his winning smile, brimming over with confidence and charm that had been Maxlain’s trait ever since their academy years.

Lysander stopped to think of these. They had been by far the best times of his live. Both he and Max, enrolling with dreams of glory and conquest. To fly amongst the stars and see the galaxy was something they’d both dreamed of since childhood. Max in particular. In spite of his dreams, Max always had a dedication to training and duty that saw him graduate with additional honours from the Imperial Naval Academy, having achieved top marks in just about everything.
He’d been popular as well, surrounded by a swarm of giggling, swooning girlfriends wherever he went, when he wasn’t challenging other cadets to capacity-based competitions in the academy bar. And yet, he’d always remained true to Lysander. Asked his advice, called on him in times of need, introducing Lysander to countless members of his female entourage, standing up to anyone who dared lay a finger on him. Lysander had never known a more loyal and trusting friend than Max. And now he was gone. Gone with the explosion that killed himself, at least seventy pirates and marines, and the captain whose actions had cost the BLADEFIRE thirty of its marines. There was no replacing them. On paper, yes. But each man and woman was an individual, was unique. There could be no replacing that. One of the philosophies of command Max swore by was that of camaraderie with the troopers. A soldier would fear an officer who ruled by discipline, but would go through hell and back for an officer who showed understanding. An officer who never asked you to do anything he wouldn’t do himself. In short, an officer like Max. And it was theories like that which had seen Max in a ton of trouble with some officers who accused him of insubordination, such as protesting against the flogging of a new recruit who’d misplaced his dog-tag. Whereas in the eyes of men like Captain O’Kraen, had won him special mention in dispatches for displays of gallantry and logical thinking, with claims that he would ‘go far as an officer’. And indeed he had, along with several hundred tons of steel that had once been the pirate’s frigate.
“Why Max?”, he sighed, “Why couldn’t you have left with the rest of us?”.

Lysander heard the sound of approaching boots on the stairs that lead to the drill-chamber. The noise made him start in surprise. Who could it be at this hour? One of the technicians maybe? It wouldn’t be anyone else, most of the ship’s company would either be on watch or attending the wake. Max had been a popular figure on the BLADEFIRE as he had in the academy, with the men of his platoon as well as his commanding officers. Lysander had not expected to be disturbed whilst practising, no less so by Captain O’Kraen himself.
“Sir!”. Lysander sheathed his sword and stood to attention.
“At ease, Lieutenant”, said O’Kraen, “Now’s not the time for salutes to the living”.
“No sir”, said Lysander, relaxing a little, but looking uneasily around him.
“You’re not at the wake?”. O’Kraen leant against a weapons bench, looking at the young officer with kindly eyes.
“No point, sir”.
“Maxla…Venn, is dead sir. Unnecessarily as well, with a lot of other men from our marines. Makes no sense to drink until I’m sick when I could be practising sword drills”. O’Kraen raised his eyebrows.
“Should now not be a time to remember your friend’s life, Lieutenant? I’m sure he would have approved”, said O’Kraen with a smile. Lysander stiffened.
“I won’t know for sure now sir”, he replied, his voice straining, “He died because I was too much of a coward to stay behind myself”. O’Kraen stood up and walked over to Lysander. He was taller than Lysander by about a foot, but the expression on his face gave him the appearance of a fatherly figure rather than a disciplinarian. He placed a hand on Lysander’s shoulder, who looked as though he might cry.
“It…it should have been me sir”.
“Maybe”, replied O’Kraen, “Or maybe not. As you said, we can never know what would have happened had you stayed. One thing would be certain though, is that there would still be a tragic loss, and a young man minus a good friend”. Lysander looked up.
“If you had stayed, I’d have every good reason to believe that Lieutenant Venn would be just as mournful, if not more so, at the loss of a friend”.
Lysander did not speak. It was too soon, O’Kraen realised, for the young man to accept this news. But there was hope for him. Lysander had the makings of a good officer in him, but getting over the deaths of friends and comrades was something they would all face. It was a part of life after all, and Lysander would overcome this, in time.
“Now, go to the officer’s bar, order five drinks at a time and don’t leave until you’ve finished them all”, smiled O’Kraen, “And that’s an order”.
“But sir, I…”.
“Now, Lieutenant”. Lysander placed his sword on the table, saluted the captain, and walked to the exit. O’Kraen watched him leave, before turning to gaze from the porthole of the drill-chamber.
“Such a waste”, he muttered, “Such a waste”.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Reviews: BLACK DEATH (2010)

I’m not gay or anything, but if Sean Bean ever came up to me and said ‘Hey Laurence, you wanna do it?”, well I would have dropped my trousers and jumped on the bed before you could say ‘Major Sharpe’.

Having said this you could probably guess that I’m something of a fan of Sean Bean, and in one of his most recent films the big, chisel-featured, blonde-haired Yorkshireman once more manages to pull off an epic performance in a film which for all we know could have been about one of his ancestors. The film ‘Black Death’ takes places in England during the afore mentioned plague and tells the story of a young monk who goes in search of his lover whilst escorting the duke of manliness to a village that, through some means, has escaped the wrath of the plague that’s becoming more of a nuisance than Chavs with access to air-horns. Sean Bean features as the captain of a band of religious zealots armed with swords, axes and the medieval equivalent of the Batmobile, whose mission is to find the village and hunt down the 14th Century representation of Lord Voldemort, on the basis that the cunt exists.

Despite the front cover of the DVD (I didn’t get to see it in the cinema because as far as I’m aware it was only on for about two seconds before the DVD release), Sean Bean’s character Ulric takes a secondary role to that played by Eddie Redmayne, that of Osmund, who’s faith through being a monk is tested to the ultimate limit and eventually corrupted through the actions of the antagonist, a witch called Langiva (played by Carice von Houten). The storyline was gripping and the acting was superb, with every actor giving their characters distinct personalities whilst retaining the same kind of grit and ultra-manly fight scenes that Sean Bean practically created (despite the fact that there’s only really one and a bit).

Overall I must say I enjoyed BLACK DEATH. Christopher Smith very kindly gave us a dark, haunting film with captivating performances from both the actors and the stunt doubles (not that Sean Bean requires such a commodity), with some legendary recurring stars (Tim McInnery for one), as well as some fresh talent in the form of Kimberly Nixon, who’s portrayal of Averill (Osmund’s lover) was definitely a star attraction. My only problem with the film, and yes, there IS one, is that there seems to be a lack of any real development as far as the characters go. Indeed, it seems that the only characters who receive any kind of backstory, aside from Ulric, are the men in his…is platoon the right word? Anyway yeah, Ulric’s only history is revealed about halfway through the film and takes about five seconds to get over with before we get right back to the main plot. As much as I applaud the attention-stealing storyline, the action with more grit than a road in winter and the hulking Aryan oozing of raw-manliness leading it all, the film BLACK DEATH disappoints in terms of its character development. I still rank it as being quite high on my list of films that meet my approval, but the writer inside me notices these things and won’t shut up until force-fed chips and Relentless Inferno…together!

Regards, the Beard.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Come to the Dark Side: Part 1

Now, I’ve always been something of an ‘odd-one-out’ in terms of friends. I have many of course, but during the traumatic eight years of secondary/high school and college combined, made considerably less so towards the end by a combination of the school finally giving a toss and me hitting a student in the face (Yes, violence DOES work kids, but choose your moments), I developed a distain for ‘mainstream’ culture and developed interests (including your mother) such as the supernatural, history, folklore and fantasy and different music that, given the circumstances, would otherwise have made me into a ‘goth kid’. Numerous factors prevented the transformation however, and only this year did I adopt a more ‘gothic’ look in terms of fashion. So having said this I’m sure there’s many out there who doubt whether or not I’m worthy to be making a post like this, but if so then please do say. Besides, I feel my experiences are relevant to anyone who’s had difficulty with their identity like I have.

Ok, to start off, I’d first like to address the most important issue in regards to the goth subcultures as a whole. ‘What is goth?’. Well, goth is a number of things, but the most obvious and relevant meaning in this particular context is that of a fashion and music movement which originated in the 1980s, which much deprived from the very similar ‘punk’ subgenre (which, despite popular opinion, is NOT dead, just hungover). Thus, piercings, boots, jackets, jewellery and music will be very similar (One of my friends once remarked that goths are when punks and hippies have babies). Now, this is only the physical aspect of the subculture, what REALLY counts is the spiritual element that distinguishes goths (for example, some may be afraid of needles/unable to afford certain items of clothing etc, which is perfectly acceptable and doesn’t make you any less goth). The mindset of a goth is:

• Open-mindedness
• Appreciation for art and literature
• A fascination with darkness/the supernatural/death etc
• Disregard for mainstream culture (unless it’s something that’s actually good)

Just remember, not all goths are moody or suicidal. That’s a common misconception, as well as many other aspects of the gothic subculture that many people simply do not, or choose not, to understand. Another important thing to remember is that you should not become moody or depressive just for the sake of becoming a goth, and to always remain polite when talking to what you mat regard as an outsider. Seriously, the gothic subculture receives enough underserved bad press without anyone adding to it.

Anyways, I hope this has been a good starter. I intend to cover other aspects of this amazing subculture in due course, but if there’s anything you’d like me to cover in particular then by all means leave a comment, send me a message, sky-write a request, and I’ll be happy to respond.

Regards, the Beard

So much dust...

And I'm back again.

I apologise once more for the lack of updates recently, mainly as a result of having crap internet and nothing to rant about for the past month and most of the summer. However, since becoming a student of English and Creative Writing in Lancaster, I am now finding the time to blog as well as shit to rip on, from books, movies and games to more controversial stuff like politicians, Twilight fans and your mother.

Stay tuned chaps

Regards, the Beard

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Steampunk: A matter of theme

Being interested in steampunk, it was only natural for me to want to join some forums, and after having joined the amazing forum Brass Goggles (, the question was raised about steampunk writing. Now, you may be thinking I’m some form of imbecilic badger for even asking this question, but once you read it properly you’ll realise the validity of my point, especially if you happen to be a fellow writer. The question is: What makes a steampunk novel, or any form of literature, steampunk?

Now, many will respond with answers such as ‘Goggles!’, or ‘airships, rayguns, cogs’, and all manner of amazing and seemingly logical suggestions, but that’s just the problem. A good many people are drawn to steampunk because of the technical aspect, myself included, others for the retro-aspect, whilst still more others for the simple fact that it ‘looks cool’. But the majority of fans, so I’ve seen, seem to be focussing more on the ‘steam’ aspect of steampunk, rather than the ‘punk’ half. It’s the same question that a lot of writers will face, for example: Goth writers wanting to write a story that will be seen as more gothic that simple horror. For steampunks, its almost the exact same problem, how does one write a steampunk novel that isn’t just another fantasy/science-fiction?

Well most steampunk writers will be able to sort the ‘steam’ aspect of the genre. With any kind of steampunk novel, the technology should always be the foundation for either the setting, or the plot, or both. Period technologies, culture and fashion of the age of steam are also a crucial aspect to consider. However, this is all fairly easy to accomplish providing you have the know-how. What’s more mind-boggling to accomplish is, as I mentioned, the ‘punk’ aspect. What one could ask is what is ‘punk’? Well, the concept of ‘punk’ is in itself rebellion against mainstream society. Bearing that in mind, all one has to do is apply it to a Victorian-esque universe. In short, feature some form of dystopian element that features in a universe relying heavily on steam-age technology. This could be anything from working classes rebelling against machines taking away their jobs to the use of old technologies in a battle for freedom against races with more advanced science.

There’s plenty of material out there to help aspiring steampunk writers with writing anything, just be sure to focus on the punk aspect in order to make your novel stand out as an actual work of steampunk rather than a science-fcition or fantasy masquerading as steampunk.

There’s one more thing I’d like to add, and this is going to make me sound like a hypocrite, but at the end of the day, you have to write for yourself. When I asked the lovely chaps and lady-chaps at Brass Goggles the same question, the response was basically ‘Write for yourself, and let others judge your work’. Whilst others may not find this as helpful as I did, what’s important to remember is that others will always judge your work differently to your original intention. As long as you’re happy with the work you’ve done, then you’ve little to worry about, and should be happy with yourself. So if you’ve written what you believe to be an ideal steampunk novel, but some bugger comes along as describes it as a science-fiction, historical romance or a Twilight remake (in which case you’re doing something VERY wrong), then be content in the fact that you see it as steampunk, and don't worry too much about the views and interpretations of others.

Just remember, you can’t spell steampunk without punk.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

I'm not dead!

I do sincerely apologize for my lack of updates lately, but alas I've been busy getting exams out of the way, as well as a job and moving into university. Ah the life of a student is bliss, and I'm only just in my house XD.

But yeah, there has been inexcuseable laziness here, and thus I do apologize. You can expect some fairely regular updating now, especially since I'm not havint to wake up stupidly early to get on a stupid bikes to go to stupid work to make up more stupid bikes for stupid customers. But yeah, I'm going to focus alot more on the actual writing aspect of writing, and I know this must sound like deja-vu but this time I WILL be keeping this place tidy and more updated.

Regards, the Beard

Monday, 28 June 2010

The shame of a nation...

Ok I don't generally like football. Don't mind playing it so much but its definately one of my least favourite sports of all time, and thats saying something, believe me. But when you watch your national team play at a sport we're SUPPOSED to be good at get annihilated to Germany, it raises more than just a few eyebrows, especially when considering these idiots get paid several times your average man's yearly wages a month to kick a fucking ball around.

Remember when football used to be about a couple of lads getting together after work or school for a kick around? Remember when it was about playing the game and not about making obscene amounts of money? Neither do I

And I know people pay loads to watch football, and even more to go see it live, but that just says more embarassing truths about the sport and the industry in it. Surely the fans want their money to be soent on better trainers, better players, better managers etc. After all, they're the ones who fork out the money that goes into the player's, managers' and inverstors' ridiculously huge wages, so don't they fucking deserve to see their team win once in a while?

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Review: Swiftly by Adam Roberts


Has anyone ever had this happen to them: You hear about this book, read what its about, and then for a good year or so want nothing more than to tear into it, particularly if its set in 19th century Britain and involves a war between Britain and France with some elements of fantasy? And then, you read said book and then become utterly dissapointed by the end and the overall content of the bloody thing? Well, I've had that happen several times, such as Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events (unfortunate in that the ending SUCKED BALLS!), the final Harry Potter book, and...well, many of the other thousands of books I've read. Now this is down to either two things, either I have ridiculously high standards or there are no good authors out there who's names aren't Bernard Cornwell, Tim Stretton and Stan Nichols. But for the majority of this book by Mr Adam Roberts there seemed to be a lot missing, both from the plot and the universe created inside.

Ok before I go I feel I must say a bit about the actual setting first. Basically, the novel is set in pre-Victorian England, where the British Empire has become technologically advanced thanks to the enslavement of the people from Jonathan Swift's 'Gulliver's Travels, i.e. the Lilliputians, who are exactly 12 times smaller than human beings and three times as annoying. These people are used to construct advanced devices such as little flying-machines, intricate fabrics and other brilliant aspects of technology impossible by then-human standards. However, there is very little emphasis of this technology in the book, and you'd think there'd be more of it being a science-fiction novel during the single most amazing century in British history, such as man-sized aircraft, airships, clockwork cars, some kind of repeating rifle or machine gun, but in fact technology plays a very small part of the actual story, other than on a kind of mission that doesn't really go anywhere. In fact, the only real technology mentioned is a gigantic cannon at York, some kind of mystical spaceship and...well, thats basically it. You'd think for a Victorian-science fiction there'd be greater emphasis on steam-powered machinery, maybe some kind of gigantic steam-powered tank or mecha, but no such luck I'm afraid, so if a technologically-focused book is what you're after I'd say look somewhere else chappie. Robert's portrayal of Victorians, whilst accurate and enjoyable, sadly fails to make up for this.

Not only that, but there's huge holes missing from the plot, enough to severely confuse the reader similar to a cat playing with a pet-toy, only to lose sight of it and upon finding it again feel extremely depressed and self-concious. This sort of thing happens particularly towards the end of the final chapter, but you'll have to read this for yourself, lazy person. However, even without that, there's still many gaps in the storyline, especially for one of the main characters, Eleanor Burton. For example, she has something of a meeting with this German Count, a few days before her wedding, but after paying his bail after becoming arrested, nothing is heard from him again. And more to the point, how did she come to be picked up by Colonel Larroche on a journey that should have played a greater role, but instead had a very small spart in the plot of the novel.

In spite of its faults, Swiftly nevertheless remains a decent read, as well as being highly influential and invokves some deep thinking, but messes itself around too much in the Titanic-sinking holes in the plot and the lack of creativity in the universe created by Mr Roberts. Not only that, but its the only book I've read so far that's made sex boring! You have to give the author credit for satire but at the same time there's satire enough throughout the rest of the novel without the concealed messages of 'sex is bad'.

In short, the main features of the book are a French invasion of England, a plague, a ridiculously long carriage ride that has bugger-all affect on the rest of the storyline and some quite vivid detail into how someone shat themselves. I enjoyed reading it but found that Swiftly ultimately fails as a science fiction, on the grounds that there should be more science and less fiction. I know most readers prefer a balance between those two but they have to support each other, which is another sorely lacking element of this well-written novel.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Where's the hoover?

Wow, so much dust here. Its doing my allergies no favours I can tell you.

But anyway the reasons for my long absense have not been immigration, illness, my house attacked by pirates (Seriously how cool would that be?), boarding school, mugging or death (clearly). No, the reason is largely due to the fact that over the past month I've been slaving over a hot text-book for my exams, which has left little time for doing my usual activites that aren't determined by my A-levels (hence why the British elections went the way they did). However, exams are over, a few days after my birthday on the 21st, and this has left me with a shitload of free time when I'm not assisting with gardening or out job hunting (which I've had some success with whilst I'm on the subject). But anyway, this has meant I'm able to finally get on with some decent writing, which I've been doing a shitload of recently. My friends have been supportive of this, especially my friend Sir Dave of Faith (real name Alex), whose experiences with Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts series has provided me with some ideas not to mention a shitload of inspiration.

Anyways, since I'm getting back into writing I've been working mainly on my main novel, although I've been experimenting with other themes and genres. So in the coming weeks, expect samples based of the following:

-Historical fiction (i.e. a short story to commemorate the soldiers in the BEF at Dunkirk)

-An Urban Fantasy short, where goths are not all they seem...

-A steampunk story inspired by my experience at the London May MCM Expo (that place was fucking ace!)

And anything else I damn well please. So my little munchkins, until next time

The Beard

PS: Do yourselves a favour and follow this link, , this is the song that has kept me going throughout my exams. May it do the same for you.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

No Excuses

Well this is probably the quickest update I've ever made on this blog so far but I was encouraged to vent my feeling after having watched this video:

Now, I'm a gamer, a gamer in the same sense that Gordon Brown is a politian. I suck at playing games of course but I'm still into it and it's my hope to become a games writer at some point in my writing career. But after having watched this I was filled with the gaming equivalent of patriotism, which surprisingly isn't that big in this country for fear of being branded a member of the BNP. But I'm going off topic, so where was I...Ah yes.

Well, the lady with the blonde hair is clearly some kind of Mormon or Jehovah's Witness who sees video games as a mortal sin because apparently they corrupt children. Now, yes, I can say that video games can have this effect, and I say this since as I am a writer I have been frequently inspired in my writings by what I have seen whilst spending a late night playing Rachet and Clank: Tools of Destruction (But saying 'can' doesn't mean 'will', as you should know by now you word-twisting little sod). So I'm not denying the psychological effects games can have on a mind but then again, so do films, movies, even cartoons where impossible feats of violence are accomplished (like in Ed, Edd and Eddy-fuck I love that show). But going back to what was said, how with gaming you become part of the action that is occurring. Well, I sincerely disagree with the belief that this is more damaging than being a spectator to watching a man having his eyeballs removed with a spoon on the end of a pneumatic drill, and not to mention that, with this kind of interaction you only become as involved with the actual violence depending on how good you are or how much you want to be.

But even now I can hear those over-worried concerned mothers weeping and saying 'But our kids will do it anyway' etc whilst their children play with fireworks and matches on the edge of a race-track. Oh cry me a fucking river why don't you? Seriously, I see this unnecessary bitching as being nothing more than crap parents not wanting to face up to their responsibilities as parents in ensuring that their kids don't become serial killers as a result of playing a fictional character gunning down Russian civilians. The games have labels on them, they clearly say that this game is not meant to be bought by anyone under-16 and similar. So if your children are buying such games but are under-age, then you have no-one to blame but yourselves for not being with them during their purchase or for not making yourselves a bigger part of your children's lives. Seriously, stop blaming the games industry, go into your kid's bedroom and drive a sledgehammer into their Xbox 360. And then do the same through your spinal column for being a shit parent, and for good measure. Trust me, you deserve it.

Monday, 5 April 2010

A Thing for Gingers?

Well after having watched the first episode of the brand spanking new series of Dr Who I have to say I was mightily impressed. Matt Smith is able to portray the Doctor very well, he has that child-like energy and excitement that we've come to expect from his predeccesor Mr Tennant. Witty, lovable and eccentric, I have only one word for Mr Smith. HIDE! Because as with most things, pre-pubescent teenage girls will spend much of thier early adult years finding out where you live and stalking you to their little heart's content.

The episode itself was pretty decent, with traditional Dr Who-style action and comedy (Fishfingers and custard ftmfw!) and a brilliant introduction for Amelia Pond (which leads me to believe that the Doctor might have a thing for red heads. Anyone?) but in all seriousness, we've had three amazing seasons with David Tennant playing the leading role, perhaps introducing the female character in the first episode was a little too soon. Give us time to adjust to the new face etc. And speaking of changes, the new TARDIS interior looks brilliant, combining modern style and architecture with a bit of good old-fashioned steampunk.

From what I've seen so far I have high hopes for this new series. Naturally I'm going to wait a while before deciding whether I want to pursue writing an episode (Not for funsies, for monies people) but from what I've seen this looks to be a very promising season (I mean, Spitfires in space, what's not to like?). I'd be eager for any other opinions though, or indeed any other form of feedback.

All the Best, The Beard.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Those Not So Magnificent Men...

If anyone has noticed the reference to the film 'Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines' without having read this far, then have some win.

But in all seriousness I'm sure I'm not the only one getting tired of the selfish actions from British Airways cabin crews. I mean, we are living in a time of global depression and vast unemployment, and yet they have some of the highest paid jobs around. And what are they doing? Striking. Now I'm all for worker's rights, don't get me wrong, but these guys should count themselves lucky that they actually have a job, whereas many thousands such as myself don't (although I suppose as a writer I'm only unemployed when I'm not writing).

Personally I think BA staff really need to look at themselves and think about how fortunate they are to not have to be stuck between a rock and a hard place, where any money you do get is gone almost before you can check to see the Queen's shadow, and it could be a long while before you get anymore. Whats more, maybe the strike leaders to be launched into the turbines of the Boeings they should be flying, if not for my general amusement then most certainly to try and blast some sense through their bullet-proof skulls. Form a queue now.

All the Best, the Beard

Monday, 15 March 2010

The Engine Room

So sorry for the lack of updates lads, but I promise I will get round to more reviews in due course. Until then however, here's a piece of steampunk literature I wrote throughout my day. I hope what it lacks in length it will make up for in...something else. Enjoy!

The Engine Room

“Put your backs into it lads!”, was one of many encouraging phrases that carried around the engine room, barely audible over the roar of the fires, the clanging of machinery hard at work and the bellowed hiss of escaping steam. Groups of a dozen men tended each of the air-dreadnought’s five mighty boilers, throwing large shovelfuls of the finest Artorian coal into the hell-like furnaces, whilst an army of engineers scaled the ladders that ran up and down the vast cylinders of the ship’s engines, stopping at each level to adjust the valves and levers that seemed to cover the gigantic machines like some sort of skin-disease, make notes of the gauges or simply to mop up an oil spill.
Everything in the engine room seemed to be covered in a fine layer of coal dust and oil that would always re-appear five minutes after cleaning. Still, it was the captain’s orders to keep everything as clean as possible. Young lads with steel barrows mounted on rails on the engine-room floor hurried from the immense coal stores on the other size of the engine room to the details of men charged with keeping the fires blazing like suns.
Nothing in the room stayed still, all was a flurry of frenzied activity and motion, from the armies of stokers feeding the throbbing boilers to the mass of rods, gears and flywheels that powered the Thunderstriker. Such was the norm when Captain Theart was in command. Thelonius Theart. Menace to all stokers, beater of machines and the finest captain in the Imperial Fleet. Even now, a sharp blast from the whistle used to carry messages from the communication deck signalled that the Captain, in pursuit of a Voegan convoy, wanted to go faster. A collective groan rose from all occupants of the engine room, but the momentary lapse in activity ended almost as soon as it began as the ant-like movement from all men aboard resumed at an even greater speed, each man giving his all for the Captain, straining and sweating and coal was flung into the raging fires, and the engineers directing all available steam into the thrashing engines. Such was the norm when Captain Theart was in command.

All characters, placenames etc are the rightful property of yours truly.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince: A review

It seems that with every new Harry Potter film, the general quality of the acting, writing and general accuracy to the books goes down after each film. However, this isn't the case for the latest one, which follows the original book for about 30 seconds before resembling something a cross between Skins and Merlin (by which I mean the film's starring Sam Neill than the two series woth of FAIL on the screens of the BBC). Whilst watching the film I found the only thing holding my attention was the performances from Jim Broadbent (even though Brian Cox would have made a much better choice IMO), and Michael Gambon, the latter being ironic as this is the film where he DIES (if you're a Harry Potter fan and did not know this, the book's been out for over 5 years, so fuck you if you were too lazy to ask your parents to buy it for you when they're not ferrying fried chicken down to the basement where you live, cretins!). The actors as could be expected were about as entertaining to watch as Jeremy Kyle, especially Emma Watson, who aside from having a face like an angel is about as good at acting as our politians are at...politicing. Too much drama, not enough talent.

One thing that did irk me most however was the lack of accuracy towards the book. I mean, I know how difficult it is to turn a book into a film but where the fuck did the Death-Eaters (who themselves are about as intimdating as the wolf-people from Twilight) set fire to The Burrow in the book? The part where Harry was hitting on the waitress at the begining was too far from the book to be even in the film, and I honestly wouldn't be too surprised if the actors followed a script made by putting certain pages of the book and copies of Harry Potter fan-fics in through a paper shredder, then having them celotaped back together by Captain Hook. Seriously, have the scriptwriters not read the books? Where were all the other scenes with Tom Riddle during his transormation from creepy school-boy to someone resembling the current John Travolta? What happened to the Quidditch matches and the other aspects of the book that made it was it was?

The part at the end however will always live in my memory as the worst moment in Harry Potter ever. If you've been paying attention thus far you'll know what I mean, I'm on about the part where all the students and teachers raise their wands and make the sun come out, but I'll remember it, not for the shitty tribute to Micael Gambon's corpse, but mainly for the reactions of the audience. Somewhere in the cinema was a die-hard Dumbledore fangirl who started crying. My reaction was one of incredulity, and I was half tempted to rise from my seat and tell her 'Shut up or I'll give you something to cry about!'. Oh if only...

You might be surprised to learnt that I am actually looking forward to the next films, mainly because there's nothing that can be missed without completely buggering up the plot. Here's hoping that these next films will stay true to the books.

All the Best, Beard.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010


Egad, how did I get here? Must have been some trip!

Anyway, allow me to introduce myself, Earthlings. My name is Laurence Williams. I'm a student studying Travel and Tourism, English Literature and Philosophy, and when I'm not doing that or saving the world, I'm a diehard wannabe fantasy author (DWFA for short). I created this blog for a number of reasons; frustration with other websites, the desire to expand to new territories as well as join a website where I would be able to develop myself as a writer. During my time here you can expect samples of writing from me, from novels to short stories, as well as reviews for games, films, books and shows, and just general comments about life, depending on my mood and how much sleep I've had.

I hope to update this blog every two weeks at the very least, but please sympathise that I am a student, and thus my busy life of studenthood may take presedence over, say, my thoughts on the latest Harry Potter film (it was shit).

Hope to be meeting many new faces here

All the Best, Laurence 'The Beard' Williams