Door Witch is an Isekai adventure – an adventure in another world. It is influenced by Anime and RPGs. From a certain point of view it is a Western view of the Light Novel phenomenon in Japan, with a twist of realism – Shouju (slice of life). The narrative is in the form of alternating first person point of view. The main characters are Sivitya (she’s the Door Witch) and Alan Bates (he plays online games and one of his avatars is Akalito). That’s all you need to know for this extract.
(this is an entry for the July 2020 competition run by Telegraph Creative Writers Group)
Chapter 1 Welcome to Earth
Sivitya: Earthly Manifestation
I put worry behind me; I had the number so I called.
Brr, brr… brr, brr.
The sound was novel…normally response was instant. I listened longer.
Brr, brr… brr, brr. Click.
He’d rejected the call! He didn’t want to talk to me. For a moment I was lost, then my resolve kicked in. I had to call him. This was important. I entered the number again.
Brr, brr… brr, brr.
A voice at the other end said, “Hullo?” Was that Akalito?
The new Facebook interface is on me and my PC – still XP based – is huffing and puffing at the shear additional processing power required – more broadband bloat. As of now I’m refocussing my energies onto Photoshopping the artwork I received for my Door Witch project. I learned a new Japanese word from my Indonesian artist – Isekai – journey to / adventure in another world. ArtKapele
The feedback from my editor (Stephen Cashmore) is good – suggesting that this is the best work I’ve put through him so far. However, to get the illustrations into their final form, ready for publishing, isn’t a quick and easy task as, once again, I call upon the might power of Photoshop Elements to help me in the quest for perfect (or at least half-way decent) final form.
Big job! and more than the 2 or 3 days quoted by Gopher in Disney’s Winnie the Pooh. So it’s goodbye to the writing for a while, and a big welcome to Elements 2.
Att are illustrations from the first six episodes.
BP’s boss hailed for taking oil giant in very different direction
as new boss Bernard Looney committed BP to seriously addressing the environmental impact of the use of its products by customers.
Luke Parker at Wood Mackenzie pointed out that the the plans marked a complete “turnaround” in the company’s position, that though BP was only dealing in “ambitions” at this stage, rather than firm targets, the scale of the commitment put BP “towards the top of the pack” along with Repsol and Equinor.
Mr Parker added: “This will see BP’s business completely transformed over the coming decades: renewables and carbon abatement will get very big, legacy oil and gas will eventually get smaller.
In the Daily Telegraph (29/06/20) there was confirmation of BP’s direction of travel as it announced it was selling its global petrochemicals business to billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe for $5bn (£4bn) as the oil titan continues its push away from fossil fuels
However despite the current mood of the majors to distance themselves from petrochemicals, there are few signs of an alternative energy business. This should be of particular concern to investors in BP who will need hard evidence of how it plans fund a dividend stream aimed squarely at US and UK pension funds.
Last week (24/06/20) Norway announced it was opening new blocks in the Barents Sea (Norway plans big expansion of Arctic oil exploration). Maybe this is a new opportunity for BP. If not, it remains to be seen just what shape the future business of BP will take. Analysts expect BP to follow in the footsteps of rival Shall and cut its dividend.
Drilling Rig – general view (Reuters)
In my book, the only logical move for the board will be to return the funds to its shareholders as it winds down its operations. Ambitions to achieve net zero by 2050 do not form a compelling business plan.
And just like that the day ends. I’d planned to take a picture of the washing up and maybe a shot or two going for a walk but instead I watched the first two episodes of The Tale of Nokdu. The nuance is the play on non-Western mores and the Audio, which is Korean only – English sub-titles (but that’s two hours down the pan).
Anyway I’ve caught up on a mini-archive update – basically listing the pieces written from April 2017 up to date. It was a lot more than I thought – getting on for 50 pieces including this piece written November 2019; it’s from Door Witch 2 which is done as a travelogue in the form of a haibun. A haibun is narrative blended with haiku as in The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Bashō.
* * * * * *
In the morning Akalito rose early. By the time I was awake, he’d prepared our morning meal.
“It’s rice again, I’m afraid,” he said.
I went to the stream and washed away the last of the night. I imagined distant Fuji towering over us but we were still far from that place. On the way back I saw plum trees. They proved to be wild but I picked a few of the ripest fruit and brought them back to Akalito.
“Thank you, Sivi,” he said. Properly it should have been ‘Thank you, Sivitya’ but we were well into our journey.
Wild plums sweet and tart
Give thanks for the land’s harvest
To season plain rice
He was gone but the Sun still shone. I admired the colours of the flowers and bent down to sniff each scent. When would he return? I didn’t know exactly but it would be soon. Blue skies smiled down on my way back to the village. I studied each stone and muddy pool, careless of splashes as I leapt from one to the next.
A soft cloud gradually broke free from the hills – it was a bed where we might lay. I chuckled. Thatched roofs came into view. Soon I would see Iroscita at the Academy, but I wouldn’t tell her. Not yet. Wait for Akalito’s return.
I’ve just decided on my next short story – I had a bit of a trawl through my archive of unfinished works but decided to do something new instead. My plan is to complete it over next week, which probably means side lining my current WIP (Men for the Stars) which is 30k words). Once I’ve decided what to do, I’m ready to motor on. I usually do 4 short stories a year and one longer work. 🙂 I meant to say something about the process of writing, sparked by a comment from Karen Eisenbrey, on the Squirrel but that can wait for another time.
So Hey! It’s the weekend, there’s football + tons of Japanese and South Koran goodies on Netflix to watch _ I’m currently catching up on Food Wars and I’ve had a 7 episode binge watch on today – this has helped crystallize the theme of my new short story. The interesting thing that struck me was the explanation of the recipes – and yes, it’s Anime so it’s exaggerated; but it works.
plus: I decided to update my catalogue (always a presage to a time of changes [A Time of Changes was a short novel by Barry N Malzberg in the 70s – I still have my paperback edition])
The image below is from the family home 15 years back, and helped spawn a scene-feature on my now paused WIP.
A Guide to First Contact can be read in several ways. Firstly there is the published order – this is the hardest and it is also intentional. Then there are the separate story lines; in the Kindle version these are noted in a separate section in the appendices; there is a secret storyline at the very end (after the credits). The principle of the latter is that any who might guide the human race on a path would, of necessity, employ the hidden hand… not in plain view… so a secret storyline of interference in the ascent of man. Then there is the historical sequence of events; this begins in the pre-history of man, sometime before the Toba event. This published sequence scatters the separate time lines across the books while keeping them in order. The reconstructed historical sequence is: Continue reading →
We’re part way through a new phase in history. As things stand the West could quickly unravel if the current suspicions about the origins of covid-19 prove to have substance. In brief the state of play is this:
The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) seek to gain economic and military advantage; by definition this must undermine the West. These have been well documented. What is fast becoming a priority is to establish how it is that this particular virus has all the features of a disease extraordinarily well pre-adapted to infect human beings and this is the point raised by Charles Moore in Was COIVD-19 created in a lab? China has urgent questions to answer (05 June 2020)
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph’s Allison Pearson on Thursday, 04/06/20, Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6 notes that at first the CCP held back news of the disease and then at the end of January, when the CCP made it public, he became suspivious at the speed with which publications blaming it on pangolins and bats were rushed out by the Chinese. In May the CCP withdrew the wet-market explanation as the origin of the virus.
In discussion with Charles Moore of the Daily Telegraph, Dr Sorensen explained that the virus they are trying to vaccinate against is what scientists call a chimera, “constructed in such a way that it can make use of co-receptors on human epithelial cells”. He maintains that the Chinese have not been full and frank about the origins of this disease; “the world will be misled unless we can see the data that matters”
If covid-19 was constructed in a laboratory, the repercussions could be severe. For a start the West will have to pull away from naivety in dealing with China. Its business dealings aren’t with autonomous, Western-style enterprises; this is a sham. At the highest levels, the CCP can and does sequester technology with military potential.
Milton Leitenberg, a biological weapons expert, says: In 2015 the Wuhan Institute of Virology “initiated construction of novel chimeric coronaviruses” and subsequently published on this. These were what are known as “gain of function” experiments to make a virus capable of infecting a new kind of cell.
Richard Dearlove, in his article with the Daily Telegraph said, “The Chinese understand us extremely well. We understand them extremely poorly.” To the Chinese leaders things such as love of freedom and openness seems dangerous and even unpatriotic. They regard the handover provisions in Hong Hong “about free speech and emerging democracy as a form of subversion.”
The reaction of the West to Tiananmen Square was weak. The British have been timid on the Hong Kong protests last year and feeble in their handling of Huawei.
So is the new normal one in which we wait for novel viruses to hit our streets? Charles Moore’s article is worth reading in full. On my own account, I’d like to think that the new norm will be little different from the old norm. I prefer civilisation level threats to be safely confined to works of fiction.
Where am I now?
Talking of civilisation level threats in fiction reminds my of A Guide to First Contact. This was written with the view that evolution of humanity and its race to civilisation has been manipulated by alien agencies. The work is written as fiction but makes reference to history, lost civilisations and certain bits of science that have become part of our world view. As it takes multiple viewpoints over multiple time frames, some may consider it a challenging work. This structure implicitly recognises that the ultimate beings in this work would be capable of comprehending this style of narration (because – ahem – they are more advanced than us).
This is also in paperback. So okay, let’s make this a self interview.
If we weren’t in the current mess, would I be writing different stuff?
Well I think what’s happened is a wake up call. We can carry on being heedless under the working assumption of ‘Let us do what we want’. That’s changing but I don’t think I’ll change. My first big work (see above) involved pretty serious research, but having said what I wanted, I’ve moved on.
What themes have I got lined up?
Well that question kind of jumps ahead a little. Going back, many of my themes were set during writing group sessions. The process of here’s a prompt, write to it forces a response. Inevitably this has resulted in concepts which interest me – I don’t write just to put words on paper to read out in group and then ditch them; I write what interests me. Along the way this has created orphaned works; ideas which I haven’t had the time to complete. So moving on to the creative process, I alternate between: write a new work from scratch and complete an unfinished project. So themes: • a killer condition in which nubile young women gain power and beauty by stealing the life force of men – the younger the better • an underground railroad for magical refugees • a nation under a geas that can’t be broken, is slowly taken over by invisible demons That’s enough to go on with.
Have I got a release schedule?
Yes. But because I work full time, and also because the job is one of the toughest I’ve done, I have to be realistic about how much effort I can put into this. Currently I write one page per day. In between things I’ve several completed works that I want to get to the market. They need covers, which has still be organised. One of these: Door Witch will be illustrated.
What am I working on?
A Heinlein-esque piece concerning how we get from being stuck on Earth with no feasible form of interstellar transport, to out there, exploring, terraforming, colonising and hanging out with aliens in general. The working title for this is Men for the Stars. It’s coming along fine and I hope to have it ready for my editor by August or September. While that goes on I’ll be reviewing the illustrations from Door Witch, as they arrive; plus I’ll be working through whatever my editor, Stephen Cashmore, comes up with on Door Witch and Blue Belle. This will mean juggling ny time on social media – always tricky.
If you want a glimpse of my Science Fiction, try The Tau Device, which is set a couple of centuries after Men for the Stars.
I have received a copy of Anahit Arustamyan’s Words In Flight Browsed it and it’s looking good. I hope to do a review real soon.
Yep – I know there’s a problem with this. Our intelligence services also knew… that the Chinese authorities were under-recording its impact in China. The reality is this: Here in the UK the folks heading up Public Health England were asleep at the wheel. The Pandemic could and should have had a minimal impact because there was ample warning. Decisive action should have been taken mid-January – I waited and waited and nothing happened. This is how it is when you allow lazy incompetence in at the highest levels of public administration. So now we have higher than normal deaths of non COVID-19 causes
“But they’re not COVID-19 guv’, honest! and the Nightingale hospitals aren’t even in full use”
That’s because the NHS has switched to keeping the infection from overwhelming it, because we are in deep, deep trouble if it does. Simple facts glossed by many in the media means most in the UK are misinformed to the point that they consider the outbreak a paper-tiger. If only. We know that Wuhan alone at the peak of the outbreak was taking delivery in each of its 8 crematoriums at a rate of 2½ thousand urns per day. Per Day. That’s 100,000 per 5 day week (did the virus stop at weekends?) This in an 11 million population city which would normally cremate 3,000 per week. Simple maths shows Wuhan was losing nearly 1% of its population to the virus in fatalities every week. The only thing that stopped it was a very belated ‘decisive Lockdown’. It’s still in place – it doesn’t take a genius to work out that a lot more people would have succumbed without the Chinese Lockdown. And that’ just Wuhan.
Our security services know this which is why politicians of all stripes are in panic mode. They won’t challenge the Chinese numbers because the truth would make the recent toilet roll hysteria and the flour panic seem tame by comparison.
Anyway on those numbers I’d put the number of fatalities in Wuhan at somewhere between 200,000 and 400,000. Before we gloat or go all parochial, I remember it was what happened to a Chinese dentist, when he attempted to flag up these new symptoms to his co-professionals, that alerted the rest of the world (and me) to this problem towards the end of December 2019.
Upcoming manga release Door Witch
Door Witch is a take on the Japanese Light Novel – Manga – Anime process, with an emphasis on RPG’s. Alan Bates is a regular player on Earth Myth. In the middle of the night he is woken by someone claiming to be an NPC from Earth Myth. Door Witch will be illustrated manga style over the next month or so by Artkapele (from Indonesia).
Door Witch is Isekai-Shoujo RPG Fantasy. 16+
Blue Belle is set in an alternate fantasy world in which there has never been an England. it concerns the affairs of two wood nymphs who, in guarding the approaches to Faerie from man, get too close to one man in particular. Blue Belle is High Fantasy. Minimum age 14
…is still currently in progress: The Panocracy is a conceptual take on an alien system of government and I’m in the middle of a work that sees first contact with those aliens. This has all-sorts going on… the secession of London from the UK, security work on the Mexican Wall, the end of life of the Ogallala Aquifer (which is the main source of water in the US Mid-West) plus a football riot. Work on this has stopped while I prepare Door Witch and Blue Belle for my editor, Stephen Cashmore. Stephen is a well respected member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders.