Burnley Artisan Market


I will be running a stall at Burnley Artisan Market on Saturday, 7th May and, as part of this, I will be selling self-penned works – see list at bottom. This is a full day’s activity (it’s set me back £600 btw) during which I will signing copies as an author and doing readings from my works. I will have popup displays for the works I will be promoting; the emphasis will be on the book Burnley which consists of essays on the town and its grammar school. I am a former pupil of Burnley Grammar School.

List of works I will be promoting

Burnley – essays on the town and its grammar school

Door Witch – recent release – Anime – RPG themed

The Slow Holocaust – Short Fiction – Dystopian

Silt From Distant Lands – Poetry

The Turning Stone – YA Fantasy

The Tau Device – Science Fiction with an emphasis on alien culture, terraforming, xenoarchaeology and conflict in space

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Ukraine Again


Is Ukraine this: Ukraine has long been shaped by the rise and fall of empires by David Abulafia of the Daily Telegraph…

or is it this: What is Zaporozhian?

Hmm.

Zaporozhian is part of the foundation myth of modern Ukraine. Of course there were the Pechenegs, the Poletski, the Khazars and of course Kievan ‘Rus – this long destroyed by the Turco-Mongols. Muscovy, arguably the successor state to the Mongol Empire, was long ago propelled into the limelight when it collaborated with the Baskaks – the long ago equivalent of the tax inspector. When that history is considered, Putin’s thought and objectives begin to take shape.

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Door Witch – new e-book


Door Witch: New e-book sees fate step in as gaming avatar gets real – The perfect read for YA anime and manga fans

 Terence Park’s Door Witch introduces Alan Bates, an avid gamer on Earth Myth, an online role-playing game that he excels at. Having one of the highest levels in-game avatars, Alan’s real life is not so successful. Usually without a job, fate steps in one night when he receives a call on his mobile. Claiming to be Sivitya – a door witch from Earth Myth – Alan’s life turns upside down as he tries to return his new friend back to Earth Myth

UNITED KINGDOM – Published on 1st March 2022, Door Witch is a YA must-read for anime, manga and Isekai fantasy fans.

In an e-book that mashes up the lives of alternate earth protagonist, Alan Bates with Sivitya, the eponymous avatar from Earth Myth, Bates’ favourite roleplaying game, the author’s decision to have them both narrate their own story further adds to this novel’s standout. It also enables the author to explore the premise that players morph into their online persona.

An intriguing read that will delight its YA audience, Door Witch is the author’s sixth self-published book and is the one that confirms Terence Park has found his niche.

Synopsis:

On an alternate Earth, Alan Bates lives in Lanndern. He’s an avid gamer on Earth Myth, an online role playing game and has one of the highest level in-game avatars, a level thirteen nomad, however he’s seldom in employment, education or training – but he’s just got a job and is hoping to sort his finances out. Fate steps in – late one night he’s woken by his mobile – it’s a girl claiming to be Sivitya.

The problem is Sivitya is a Door Witch he hired to protect his property – on Earth Myth – and she’s a non-playable character. There are problems for Sivitya too: to start with she only knows the Earth Myth avatar who hired her, and Alan Bates doesn’t look anything like him. Through encounters with a nosy neighbour, Jimbo’s Cafe, the local hospital and the law, they have to figure each other out. They also need to take on board her news. And yet Earth Myth is only a game so how is Alan Bates going to get Sivitya back; but then events take a hand, turning his life upside down.

Door Witch n

NPC class in Earth Myth equipped with portal spells. Responsible for organising the defences of your House when you are offline. Also useful defending against raids.

The author says:

“I was a fantasy buff and the release of EverQuest was a marker; role playing games had come of age. I didn’t start to pick up on anime until a few years ago, which is when I discovered that some had been influenced by EverQuest. This sparked the thought let’s do Isekai (Journey to Another World) with added realism. At that point I was working as the senior finance person at the UK site of a major contract development and manufacturing organisation, that was due to be shut down. Door Witch was written in the evenings, as a way of escaping the stresses of work.”

Independently published on 1st March 2021, Door Witch is available in Kindle format (£2.21) on Amazon at https://amzn.to/3uVNzLH

The paperback of the novel  – Earth Myth An Isekai Fantasy – retails for £11.75 and  is published on Lulu.com at https://bit.ly/3HY66L0

Advance review copies on Reedsy at discovery review | Door Witch Terence Park

About the author:

“I live in Accrington, Lancashire, having spent most of my life in and around Burnley. My outlook on life and my writing voice are informed by the locality, a fondness for fantasy and science fiction and the circumstances of my life which are neither literary nor comfortably middle-class.

“My mother was a refugee of the post WWII population exchanges, and I can vouch for the deep problems caused by one parent families having been raised in one. Such a background (i.e. a cross-cultural view and the lack of a stable father figure) may seem outlandish yet it presented me serious problems of self-assurance. To remedy this lack, I studied history, philosophy and Sufism. In later life I went bankrupt funding a relative’s business venture which was when I began writing. I self-publish and my works are an opportunity to present societal issues through the lens of science fiction and fantasy.

“Sadly, the health of my wife has deteriorated over the years, and she is now in the final stages of cancer. All four of our children are adults and, to my mind, well adjusted.”

Door Witch resources

Landing page

Door Witch Lore

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Hongkongers 5 – Anywhere but London


This is the fifth and last in my series looking at the plight of Hongkongers, former citizens of the Commonwealth and of its predecessor the British Empire, now left to rot in the Fish ‘n’ Chipless hell that is present day China. They (China) don’t have any decent overseas possessions either – so the cost of acquiring the Spratly Isles was? – seen no audit on that, anyhow this takes a last look at the options…

Readers will have noted a certain anywhere-but-London theme in previous posts. This is because there has been so much white flight from London it has become the white flight capital of England – nay White Flight Capital of the World. Those I’ve met who’ve left the place need to be prompted to explain why they’ve left and even the national press (based in London) are subdued on this – almost as if they’re embarrassed. The fact is white flightees have voted with their feet so who’d want to go there? It’s worth noting that China enjoys the benefit of not having London. So this takes a look at the options for those who would like to look further afield.

Anywhere but London

Let’s be clear: we’ve reached the end of plausible options, so it’s time to scrape the barrel for the last few fragments of this Hongkonger Future Fest.

i Gibraltar (HongkongerGibraltar)

Nice climate, good access to Spanish wine, culture, football… but the reality of geography – the rock is literally just a rock (area of Hong Kong 1,106 km², area of Gibraltar 7km²) means that this isn’t practical.

ii The Falklands (HongkongerFalklanderLand)

Although this has been ruled out, of the overseas territories it has the most significant land area at 12,173 km² and offers extensive geographical options with plenty of resources waiting to be tapped; all in a territory the size of Wales. Settlement here would be best built subterranean. If it happened appropriate parliamentary representation would have to be in the mix. And going off on one, bearing in mind the significance and importance of the UK Commonwealth to the five eyes and ears, a boosted Falklands would make this not only the right thing to do but also a brilliant opportunity to develop a sixth member of the eyes and ears. Six eyes and ears? Hmm. As for the name – ever since the time of the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata, the Falklands have had to put up with the territorial acquisitiveness of a large neighbour two hundred plus miles to the West. That Viceroyalty, although long consigned to the dustbin of history; had at the start of the twentieth century evolved into Argentina whose prospects ranked it amongst the top nations in the world but such inheritance is soon squandered, as this was. From this dip into history I get HongkongerFalklands Coveted by the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata and its Inept Successor States. A really long mouthful, let’s try the acronym: HongkongerFalklands Coveted by the RPISS – still doesn’t work, so I guess that takes it back to good old plain and simple HongkongerFalklanderLand. 😊

Everyone wants a piece of real estate - young aggressive nations on the look out for more... who'd have thought?

iii Entrepôt UK

Entrepôt UK has a nice ring to it, but where?

One of the projected UK Spaceport facilities is near Shell Island – to be clear, at a former RAF research facility at Llanbedr, a site identified as with spaceport potential just a few short years back.  Shell Island also known as Mochras, lies at the mouth of the River Artro, which passes through Llanbedr. The authorities on Shell Island changed the flow of the Artro, so that it was connected to the mainland by a tidal causeway, and in the process created private quay. Shell Island was one of my favourite holiday places for many years. It seems strange now to imagine that I was holidaying next to a proposed spaceport. Anyhow: Shell Island – windblown, full of yapping dogs and screaming kids as their kidult parents (Brummie, Scowse and all sorts) let it all hang out. Entrepot –Shell Island? Hmm.

Shell Island is on the coast, just off Llanbedr which itself lies a few miles north of Barmouth and just to the south of Harlech. Llanbedr hosts an RAF airfield (abutting Shell Island)  which formed the basis of a UK Spaceport proposal in recent years. As a veteran holiday-goer to Shell Island, I find the prospect of a Shell Island Spaceport quite intriguing. As for flying saucers, who knows...

The transport infrastructure leading to and from this place is just about adequate for the holiday seasons but would have little chance of hosting a major financial / commercial hub. So 3 million plus Hongkongers jam packed into Shell Island? Nope. We should knock that one on the head as being a writer’s foible.¹

¹ I’m working on a story which assumes the spaceport in Shell Island has been built.

Final thoughts

Many years ago I had a Hongkonger pen-pal. One of the topics that came up was the status of Hong Kong after it reverted back to China. Sadly I have lost that correspondence and now I regret not maintaining that friendship (ah but that was so long ago and I was young). It always seemed to me that those peoples from the British Empire who made good, took the best of what the Empire offered, wrapping it around their cultural legacy and created something new, dynamic and admirable. This describes the Hong Kong people perfectly. So back to my pen-pal, she often expressed concern on what would happen after 1997 when the lease expired and told me that many Hongkongers were looking for a way out, a route which including marrying. If I’d had anything about me I’d have taken the hint and wedded her. Anyway the one country two systems was the answer – at a grander level this was seen as a political engagement that would help integrate China into the rest of the world; even though China was and is a one party state. Perhaps there was a touch of wishful thinking in that deal – thinking as in let’s vainly hope that gesture politics can influence realpolitik.

So now we are in a place where the laws in Hong Kong (yes they still have a separate legal system – up to 2047) have been changed, in order to control Hongkongers and take away the freedoms they believed they had until 2047.

Boris has made a grand gesture, offering the three million Hongkongers a chance to become British citizens.

Do we have an obligation to help them?

Some might say no. For me it’s a case of: if they were any old minority with no ties to Empire, that should go through refugee processing and – yes the UK is quite leaky on that. But they’ve ties to us as in they’re a legacy of Empire, they’re entrepreneurs with an in into a vast nation with 18% of the world’s population.

Independence isn’t an option

Hongkongers will doubtless be wondering about the impact of Covid-19 on the mores and customs of the English. So here it’s fair to note that the wearing of face masks has had a chilling effect on the habits of nose-pickers because now, in order to continue this much frowned upon habit, nose-pickers must lift aside their masks, which naturally exposes them to scornful ridicule by fellow Englishmen for breaking social facemask wearing solidarity. And as for smokers, they have never had so much clean air into their lungs – albeit at the price of a face mask. The downside for the nation is the fall off in receipts to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs of tobacco duty. Healthy lungs – unhealthy public finances – a tricky decision which thankfully I don’t have to make.

Final word: these essays may be collated into a future pamphlet: Hong Kong: Opportunity Is a Paradox. In doing this I am reminded of…

Burnley originally began as blog posts on this site and is a series of essays on my home town and its Grammar School. Burnley Grammar School was closed in the 1970’s. The work draws from the school yearbooks (the Brun) between 1967 and 1974 to paint a picture of the school. Also included, as a reminder of local businesses no longer in the town, are local adverts placed in the Brun, as well as pictures of sporting events held by the school, with the kind permission of the Burnley Express.

Merged map of Burnley based on plans from the early C20th.

In addition this work includes further essays including one in support of the view that the 937 AD battle of Brunanburh – a battle that determined the future character of England – could have been fought in the locality

Burnley isn’t a political tract so let me note here that local politicians did what they could to destroy the ethos of that grammar school – against the wishes of the parents who aspired for their children to have a better life. This educational vandalism caused ill-feelings in the town which continued for many years.

Location of the Battle of Brunanburh, 937 AD, on Extwistle Moor, just to the east of Burnley. Bringing the Irish to battle  preventing them joining with the Alba in unleashing the Great Heathen Army at Jorvik (now York).
....tThere were several places the Irish - whose leaders were connected by marriage and by custom to Jorvik - could land and these were widely dispersed but as viable routes across the Pennines converged, they were easier to monitor. For a marauding army the valleys were steep sided and easier to be ambushed in, the Roman road that traversed Extwistle Moor was in the open. Logistics made Extwistle Moor the logical route and there is evidence of a battle there.

Genre: Essays, nostalgia, history

Get it in hard copy

WordPress site

See these posts again – tag: Hong Kong

Start at the beginning – Hongkongerland-under-England

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Hongkongers 4 – HongkongerEntrepôt dans la Manche


This is the fourth in my series looking at the plight of Hongkongers, former citizens of the Commonwealth and of its predecessor the British Empire, now left to rot in the Fish ‘n’ Chipless Hell that is present day China. They probably don’t have a decent rivalry with the French or a bungled EU trade deal to get stuck into either, so this takes a look at the options. Hong Kong is about finance and commerce, so let’s gravitate to the significant UK-EU trade artery; the Dover – Calais interchange (okay yeah, separated by a narrow stretch of water – the Channel). So this is regulated import and export transportation, and uhh yeah infested with people traffickers. On the grounds that Dover-Calais will continue to be a significant trade UK-EU artery, the next option is an entrepôt which I call:

HongkongerEntrepôt dans la Manche

So Dover-Calais. Dover derives from the Brythonic term for water – the English Channel is at its narrowest point at the Straits of Dover. The current responsible body for running the Port of Dover is the Dover Harbour Board. It has is a high speed rail link to London and is also a destination point for illegal migrant channel crossings. The French term for the English Channel is la Manche. Calais, which is on the French side of the English Channel derives from Cales, an ancient Celtic people living on the coast of the English Channel; following the 1346 Battle of Crécy, Calais fell the English and remained so as the Pale of Calais (the jurisdiction of Calais) until the 1558 siege by the forces led by Francis, Duke of Guise. In imitation of the Spanish Reconquista, the French named the region around Calais, the Pays Reconquis.

I toyed with tacking ‘EU’ at the front because as we all know Brussels is the place for dominance games and it’s certain they’d like nothing worse than a place name where  ‘EU’ was merely stuck on the end as an afterthought. Then I thought: hold on, this isn’t about a bloated Brussels bureaucracy, this is about Hongkongers. Capiche!

Border Control / Exiting the EU

Poor, tired Border Control UK and Department for Exiting the EU; barely capable of doing more than paying their staff. Their struggles to provide a continuing public service have degraded to such a condition that even core functions are shaky, the EU withdrawal now makes do with the ill-planned leaking the UK negotiating position with the EU rather than the once imperious and commanding leaks of a strategic nature, whilst Border Control, no longer capable of providing the full red carpet service for economic migrants, has degenerated into a desperate struggle to keep people smuggler rings afloat – which in an ironic twist has made it renowned  across the world for its Channel-migration Flotilla Interception Service.

In the court of public opinion, they are no longer fit for purpose and need help – new blood with determination, plenty of experience and pizzazz to relieve overworked public services from having to run things they’re just not that good at. All the while the EU are Power Pointing their thinking the ante upwards: as always, aided the principle of subsidiarity as mediated by the practicalities of derogation, obfuscatory documentation and predefined definitive limits of deviation right down to the nugatory. Comprenez vous? Then let’s add shed loads of de minimus, all in compliance with the EU Bible on how to stymie progress according to the rule of sheer bloody-mindedness. So while we’re thinking: What’s their next bureaucratic obstructionist ploy – their game switches to ‘Here, have few hundred more economic migrants to sharpen up your thinking.’ While this goes on, it all dances to invisible strands – the hidden web of bureaucracy charged with performing only those works that meet the ideals pseudo-enlightenment. A simple algebraic substitution makes much clear: that part dealing with migrants is the Migrantocracy and those parts involved with EU exit are the EU-exitocrats. So much for the UK Border Force (nominally part of the Home Office) and the Department for Exiting the EU. Aside from this rather convoluted aside into the even more convoluted machinations of the departments of HM Government…

Managing the Flow

So first this is all about managing the interface for the cross channel flow of goods. Where there’s movement, there’s margin; a cut, profit. So all those yummy imports from the continent: French wine: we can’t get enough of it; for good measure add Italian and Spanish wine. French cheese: gimme some of that on the breakfast table, to which you can add Dutch and Italian cheese; Dutch bell peppers (yeah that goes in my fry-up). But the biggest flows are cars. Yes cars. BMW, Mercs, VW-Audi – the list goes on – big in the UK and from the EU (I once had a VW Polo – my sole German car – and it was a stinker for reliability but let’s not go there). So import / export cars. And given all this plus plenty of other stuff that makes the journey, it’s the EU, renowned for inventing regulations and paperwork to string up systems, who make up the rules for this. One of the busiest waterways in the world and add channel migrants into the mix – this makes a brew well known to Hongkongers. Trade with the EU, busy waterway, migrants and port riff-raff to deal with can Hongkongers handle that? Well they’ve done it for decades and more – there’s nothing in that mix is an unknown.

All meat and drink to people used to dealing with mainland China.

Pros – the UK gets an efficient import export regime to completely out-confuddle the EU plus Dover-Calais will be brought kicking and screaming in the 22nd century. Why not 21st? have you been to Hong Kong, it’s technologically light-years ahead of most places in the West, and if we want someone to make for efficient cross border action after Brexit, who better than Hongkongers?

Some might say the chief fear of the local population is of being done out of a job, the reality isn’t that they want to keep the White Cliffs of Dover all to themselves but for an entirely different reason. No one knows anything about the annual secret citizen swap programme in which the Doverites and Calasians swap towns for un jour, because it might inflame public passions. The question is: would anyone be able to tell the difference? in street tests, Doverites and Calaisians couldn’t tell the difference between politicians from either side of la Manche; until recently this was commonly thought to be due to politicians being signed up members of a vast global conspiracy against ordinary people… but this grand concept of a gigantic, ubiquitous conspiracy to end all conspiracies fell apart in the face of overwhelming evidence of the annual Calais – Dover place swaps.

Of course Hongkongers are all about commerce so the first feeling of the locals is bound to be ‘will they sell our beloved White Cliffs of Dover’? Well that’d never happen; for a start, the tops of the cliffs are a good rack-of-the-eye measuring point for any building of towers, skyscrapers and what not in the middle of the English Channel – too high and all the nimbys would be able to see it. Besides, imagine how much congestion it’d cause; carving out sellable chunks would require a mega-construction site – so large there’d be a one way system in the Channel and what with it being one of the busiest stretches of waterways in the world, there’s have to be diversions past Bristol, up the River Severn and down to the mighty Thames via Severn Canal in the Cotswolds. Or they could take the trip up the Irish Sea, past the Hebrides, up and round John o’ Groats and back south via the North Sea. Lost? I’m completely flummoxed. Of course the Knights Templar Church could be sold – I bet that’d be worth a bob or two in China!

So here’s a bit about my sponsored author, Terence Park. Terence started writing (fiction & SF) back in 2009. It was a reaction to being basically dumped by the system; he had to do something to keep his brain active – his blog (pre-Wordpress) wasn’t enough so trying his hand at different things to see what he could create – but because he’d been chucked back down life’s ladder to the very bottom and was skint, it had to be for free. He had an XP computer and with this began to experiment in art, music composition and then writing.

The writing stuck and in 2010 he joined a local writing group based in Haslingden, called Hasiwriters. So to be sure, the name of the group stank because it was contrived, but it was the only writing group in town and that’s how things were. He undertook a number of projects such as embedding his impressions of the places he’d lived into his works, blogging upon the impact of Plato and Aristotle on present day writing,

The School in Athens by Raffael (Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino)

making a private reproduction of the Thirteenth Century work: The History of the World Conqueror – this being an account of the doings of the Turco-Mongol Hordes (volume 1, volume 2)

Reconstruction of a rare depiction of the Terken Khatun, mother of Sultan Muhammad (the last monarch of the Khwarezmian Empire). In this depiction, she is depicted captive to the Mongols – a symbolic moment in the destruction of Golden Age Islam

and along the way, becoming a regular attendee at writing groups across Lancashire and the Pennines.

Terence’s interest in poetry was sparked by Irwell Writers, a Bury based writing group, even so, his first foray into the field was with local writing group, Hasiwriters (now defunct), and this evolved into a poetry collection in two parts. The first part is Silt From Distant Lands, which ranges through time and space, covering the Golden Age of Islam, WW1, the Oort Cloud, the Scottish Referendum and a memory of love (this last being poetry within fiction). The second part, Close As Kin is included in the same volume, dwelling on the EU Referendum, an absent lecturer (being a retelling of the mandatory requirement by Bury council for Irwell Writers to have an Ofsted approved writing tutor) Unsafe driving, Youth and age, the Destruction of knowledge and the Lake District. 

Genre: Poetry and short fiction incorporating poetic content

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Carrying on in the poetic vein, Terence also strong-armed, Hasiwriters into producing a collection of poetry and short fiction. After a good deal of writing and editing its members completed their respective works and Has You Like It emerged.

Genre: Short fiction and poetry

Get it on Print-on-Demand

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Thought for today: writing is a sketch where you add hidden meaning. Does that make it 3D?

Afterword: back in 2020 he finally coughed up enough to upgrade that XP system to Windows 10 and, having written over one million words, is currently Treasurer to the Lancashire Authors Association. Funny how things turn around.

Before the Sin of Writing

Next week:       Hongkongers 5 – Anywhere but London

Check out the first post in this series: Hongkongerland-under-England

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Hongkongers 3 – HongkongerWinchester sur la Solent


This is the third in my series looking at the plight of Hongkongers, former citizens of the Commonwealth and of its predecessor the British Empire, now left to rot in the Fish ‘n’ Chipless hell that is present day China. They almost certainly don’t have a former capital of England to go live in (though doubtless there’s a town or two done in replica English), so this takes a look at the options.

HongkongerWinchester sur la Solent (entrepôt)

We all know the consequences of pumping more people into a capital city – it means more building, more congestion, more pollution and, most importantly, even more people who can’t get a match day ticket on the days of the most hallowed of sports (in the eyes of some)… football – or soccer to the inhabitants of planet USA. So where in satellite UK might Hongkongers find a suitable des-res while at the same time relieving the steam from the overheated property market in London? What better place than the ancient, pre-Norman capital of England: Winchester?

Winchester – a cathedral city, Venta Belgarium to the Romans – a market town of the Belgae (Venta Belgarum) and later identified as Cair Guinntguic in the History of the Britons by the C9th monk Nennius, before becoming Fort Venta – Wintanceaster in Old English. For a while it was the most important city in England evolving into the capital city, albeit the court of the Anglo-Saxons was mobile… up to the time of the Norman Conquest. Winchester went on to be an important centre of the Jewish community between 1148 and 1290… the Angevin Empire, civil wars and an Empire on which the sun never sets have come and gone and Winchester is currently one of the most expensive and affluent areas in England, with a population of over 115,000 – which safely exceeds that of my home town, Burnley – 70,000. It houses the oldest public school in England still using its original buildings: Winchester College and conveniently, the ports of Southampton and Portsmouth are within 30 miles; a finance hub begs to be brought into being with ready-made transportation hubs on the doorstep – a Solent entrepôt serving the needs of commerce and finance.

Geographical location of Winchester and
the stretch of water known as the Solent

Elite Hongkongers would be right in the heart of ancient England, in Hampshire, and for certain they’ll be all for blending in with this. Skyscrapers and tech will naturally go to Southampton and Portsmouth, massively bo-o-o-o-oosting the combined metropolitan area (though I doubt football rivalries will end).  I’m calling this out as Hongkongchester. Right or wrong, who knows? There is a  temptation to go with plain old Winchester sur la Solent. ¹

Pros – Centred in the cathedral city of Winchester, surrounded by the County of Hampshire – birthplace of modern fly-fishing, wind-surfing and bird-watching – with Portsmouth-Southampton as a business hub, and in the process alleviating the inevitable heat from the London property market – what’s not to like? Next (massive) benefit would be to open the eyes of Westminster; yes Westminster in London – mother of Parliaments – it’s riddled with asbestos and given the dilapidated condition of Westminster (and the asbestos in there).

Westminster – Home of Parliament (and quite a lot of asbestos)

Sitting MPs and the Lords are far more likely to die of complications brought on by exposure to asbestos or to the crumbling infrastructure than of drowning from tidal waves raging up the Thames – whether generated by sunspots, volcanic eruptions, tectonic plate shear, belching clouds of CO² or the gloomy doom of wokeism. Another pro: given the mood music from the EU bloc, should London declare independence – whether instigated by an EU sponsored break-away or liberated by Russian independence supporters – in order to ensure the City (being the main source of European funding) remains a truly independent financial capital that both can trust to use.* Thus Winchester, being an ancient capital of England would be a ready-made new capital. Final pro – the subsuming of Southampton and Portsmouth into a Solent entrepôt would not remove the rivalry between the respective footy clubs. Football rivalry has deeper, profounder roots than mere finance and commerce.

*But let’s be sure, Mother Russia always does what is good for Mother Russia – it will assure expatriates that it’s okay to be both freedom loving and loyal, as long as such ex-pats are diligent in encouraging the capital of Capital to have closer ties with the capital of the Republic of the Third Rome (for the pedantic, the Third Rome being Moscow)… such a tie up being a logical part of keeping the EU (brought into being by the Treaty of Rome) honest. Honest!

Cons – the city wheelers and dealers in at the very beginning of the Solent entrepôt will be joined by all their mates and, as London is abandoned, this will lead to a crash in home attendances for Premier League football clubs like Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs, West Ham, Palace – causing a surge of derision up north – particularly Mancunians, Scouse’s and Toons with the perverse effect of destroying the quality of English football leading to massive falls in industrial productivity and the inevitable run on the Pound. Also I’ve ambiguous feelings about this – I mean, my older brother went to university there (in London) – it just doesn’t feel right for your memories to suddenly be transported to a foreign country.

¹ In one of my fictional works, a breakaway London secedes from the UK in order to re-join the EU. The attempt stumbles on entry requirements – the EU won’t let London join until it can guarantee to bring City finance with it, but as the City has followed Parliament to Winchester because Westminster requires substantial refurbishment which includes stripping it of asbestos but as the bill runs into £billions, no one wants to pick up the tab. The lack of political foresight triggers the Law of Unintended Consequences and Winchester drifts into becoming the capital of a future England.

I’ve always been interested in the root causes of things, whether it’s the origin of humanity, why our civilisation is the way it is, what would happen if there was ever a first contact with aliens, how the universe began, what’s the next stage in human evolution… indeed whether our evolution is as natural and unforced as we believe. The thing that most exercised me is: what are the rules for first contact, given that superior civilizational values, technology, even biology must naturally overwrite whatever is encountered. How do you regulate that? These get a fictional makeover in A Guide to First Contact – and yes, this includes a decently researched and prepared, actual guide to first contact with aliens.

Cover image – cherubs

So A Guide to First Contact has multiple storylines which are set in the pre-historic past, the present and a post-apocalyptic future in which the US is in ruins due to the outbreak of degenerative mutations in humans. It touches on the origins of life, spells out the likely consequences of first contact including the risk of rapture.

……most of those that survived the Big Bang are comatose in interstellar space apart from one. After countless aeons of delirium, she is woken by a questing pre-human mind. This meeting of minds will have profound consequences.

In the present day, tensions are running high due to suspicion that a leading nation, having made first contact, is making private deals with aliens; meanwhile a mission to a near-earth object makes a surprising discovery and brings back something that will ultimately, and with inevitable logic, bring down the West.

Several decades after the collapse of the West, Triste Rochelle pumps the drugs and adrenaline just high enough to hunt the ruins of Former Urban Area One, this being the future of New York. He’s a bounty hunter and his work is tracking down the newest and most dangerous of the genetically scrambled sub-human brutes infesting the ruins. Triste encounters a group of amateur looters one of whom is Shoe, a post-human masquerading as a normal girl. Unlikely romance begins, doomed to end in tragedy.

Genre: Speculative Fiction, Realism. The work is from Terence’s Sufi period, replete with centuries old sayings and proverbs. Multi-layered, thought provoking, challenging and at times unsettling; in the finest of traditions of dystopian fiction, once the greater pattern is grasped, the rest falls into place. Superior intelligences such as the Star Beings depicted within Guide – might find it a stimulating read.

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 Hard copy Standard format, Large format, Hardcover

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Next week:         HongkongerEntrepôt dans la Manche

Previously: Hongkonger-Doggerland

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Spiderman: No Way Home – Review


Underwhelmed.

I’m a long time fan of Spiderman but about 30 mins in, I lost empathy for this outing of Peter Parker-Spiderman and to be honest, the fail was squarely on Peter Parker. Sure the cinematic effects are where they need to be – and where they couldn’t be, back in the 60s and 70s. So as that long time fan of Spidey I recognised villains from way back  – at least that worked, but this outing is almost as bad as the previous Spiderman film. My impression of that was

You know what, maybe the writers have forgotten how to deliver a good story into the mouths of their actors. 

This seems a pity as in so many other ways the Hollywood machine can deliver so much to the cinematographic experience. Anyway, to dig into the stuff that fails, this Spidey goes into self analysis (tick) but does it at the wrong time – breaking up action scenes unnecessarily.  Then you’d imagine bad guys (and good guys) have something better up their sleeves for upcoming fights than ‘let’s do slug-fest ’cause the plot has a big gap called slug-fest’. That’s ok for comic books but come on – the self-analysis looks like it’s been reworked ad nauseum. It’s flawed, message obsessed, story-lite and naff (bringing all those drab films Disney churned out in the sixties, seventies and eighties). The Doctor Strange cameo is forgettable, and characterisation is corny and overwritten… I tried to imagine Stan (The Man) Lee (RIP Stan) sanctioning this and couldn’t.

Before sitting down to watch, I’d hoped against hope I could give it 4 stars but from a long time fan of Marvel Comics…….

…….it was overcooked tripe.

Conflict: yes

Pyrotechnics: yes

Storytelling: contrived

2 stars.

Could do better.

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Hongkongers 2 – HongkongerDoggerland


This is the second in my series looking at the plight of Hongkongers, former citizens of the Commonwealth and of its predecessor the British Empire, now left to rot in the Fish ‘n’ Chipless hell that is present day China. They probably don’t have decent Curry n Chips either, so this takes a look at the options.

So: HongkongerDoggerland

or, to give its official title:

The Most Serene Submarine & Subterranean Republic of Hongkonger-Doggerland

I’d expect two to three hundred thousand to be able to come but what if the whole three million took the plunge to come west.

In thinking this through I was prompted to think laterally – and in a lateral sense you can’t get more lateral than turning right at the Pennines for the North Sea – right to the middle of it. Why? ‘Cos that’s where Doggerland lay. The story behind this is informed by our increasing knowledge of pre-history and in particular the originally derided notion that at some time in the past, ol’ Blighty was connected to mainland Europe. Now I have always been interested in sea level rises and falls and man’s endeavours to wrest suitable land from it. The Dutch, living on the southern shores of the North Sea, have made the task of wrestling land from the sea into an art. In the process they have doubled the area of their native state, Holland. 7000 years ago the sea level was 20m lower and that meant a large island, twice the size of Yorkshire, existed between East Anglia and Holland. This was Doggerland and at the height of the Ice Age this was part of the land bridge to Europe. Check out the map to get the scale of this topographical feature.  As it currently lies beneath the sea, anyone living there would have to hollow out living quarters in the sea bed. There are already plans to build artificial islands out over Dogger Bank to generate wind energy when the wind blows – to make money once the price of energy is high enough, but that assumes the costs of essential rare earths stay cheap. Dream on!

So on to the Most Serene Submarine & Subterranean Republic of Hongkonger-Doggerland: Beneath the sea makes it Submarine; under the land (albeit in the sea bed) makes it Subterranean; Doggerland is taken from the pre-historical land mass (known as Dogger Bank in shipping weather forecasts). And because it will be magnificent and unmatchable if properly executed – The Most Serene – appropriated from the self-important styling of maritime city-states of Italy.

But yes, the Most Serene Submarine & Subterranean Republic of Hongkonger-Doggerland is a bit of a mouthful, let’s hold it down to a more reasonable Hongkonger-Doggerland; it certainly sounds better than The Eastern Maritime Province of the UK (which it would end up as if left to the suits of Whitehall)

So putting that long aside to one side…………… just like Hongkongers, we have always considered ourselves a different folk from the mainland; our character flows from many things, including climate and geography. Imagine the geo-technical feat of reclaiming Doggerland; I can. Imagine a resourceful people that could handle this; again, I can.

Expertise? The can-do expertise of Hongkongers, the on-call and doubtless keenly interested already-done-it expertise of the Dutch, and a smidgen of still-can-do… this latter from ‘ol Blighty. If you want to do it you can.

Vision – Strategy – Execution. Time for a map.

Map showing approximate extent of Doggerland – before

https://www.nationalgeographic.org/maps/doggerland/

Map showing approximate extent of Doggerland – after

This land is still there, ready and waiting to be wrestled from the North Sea – punctured by platforms driven into the bedrock, to create not just living quarters, but a home. In such a way would a fifth home nation come into being with its own borders, business and financial centre – finance never sleeps so how easy to service the needs of the East – its own football league (for sure) and fishing rights. Yes, that’s right, fish. And futuristically this new part of the UK – let’s call it a republic because principality, province, nation and kingdom are all taken – the Most Serene Submarine Republic of Hongkonger-Doggerland will have one key, defining purpose: to hog the fish markets and rightfully so; it’ll be a change from the Over-fishery methods sanctioned by the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.

For what purpose?

To ensure tons of new delicacies to both titillate and torment the northern palate. For too long have we subsisted on Fish, Chips n Curry. As an aside, this will handily extend the international boundary – territorial model a la Chinese growth on South China Sea – almost to Scapa Flow, which will in turn serve as an early warning system for future hordes of invading Viking-Dane tours. Plus Hongkonger-Doggerland will be a handy stop off for Smorgasbord cruises – for the many eat-all-you-can sea-sickees to disgorge themselves of their excesses – I say this from personal experience of back in the early 90s (never again). Plus if their skyscrapers are high enough we should be able to see them from the east coast: Yorkshire through to Norfolk… making a new tourist attraction for those mecca-like holiday destinations of Bridlington, Lowestoft, Mablethorpe, Grimsby, and maybe even Hull! Hongkonger-Doggerland (we may need to call it Honkongerland for short!!) lies beyond the 3 mile limit of other nations shores but it’d be sure to cause an upset in the heavy industry currently deployed in scouring the sea bed for fish.

Hmm.

Let’s finish on a negative: if or when Doggerland is drained, there should be an impact on weather patterns; it might no longer be always wet up north which means Northerners will suffer the ultimate humiliation of being found out as they’ll have nothing to complain about! Oh another minus: Chinese growth on South China Sea will doubtless surge, but we’ll be comfortable on the other side of the Eurasian continent with some great engineering projects especially draining and raising Hongkongerdoggerland, or building it beneath the waves, to get stuck into.

Feasible? Well there’ve been legends of lands that sank under the sea in ages past such as Atlantis and Mu * so it’s about time the submerged civilisation was tried for real.

* once again, the exigencies of self-promotion stamp their tiny feet in a vain attempt for attention… so yes I concede to trying my hand on a submerged civilisation – this is in the early stages and is set under the Pacific – an ancient lost civilisation of Lemuria— in a Nazi mash-up called Fickleday!

At this point it’s worth noting that the higher-functions of the cabbage-heads of politics will be fast approaching incendiary – why cabbage heads? Well they can’t be Swedes, only Swedes can be swedes and, under the famous byline that gave us Swedes 2 – Turnips 0, the campers at no. 10 Downing Street must then be turnips. By definition most other politicians are cabbage-heads – capiche?

Some may imagine that I am a current affairs junkie but like everyone I have my vices; for example the exploration of the future through fiction. Check out this inventive work of Science Fiction: The Tau Device. In this work, humanity have made it to the stars and have begun to take the first steps in interstellar trade and politics by sending a scientific mission to Tnegi 36, an airless planet which is scheduled to be reseeded by the tnegi. Tnegi biology is halogen based but they have developed ways of adapting to oxygen based environments. Tnegi 36 is also where Lory Gato, an interstellar gourmet meets Liasse, a tnegi xeno-archaeologist. Lory doesn’t expect that some humans want to destroy alien civilisations and steal their technology… but he’ll soon catch on.

Front cover: Starship exiting a star gate is ambushed and explodes.
In the foreground the etched message is: Justice will prevail.

Genre: Science Fiction – Space Conflict, Xeno-archaeology, Alien Culture, Terraforming / Planetary seeding, Human-alien romance

Available for download on Kindle

Hard copy:  Standard format and also in Large format with large typeface

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Image used on back cover of hard copies:
Collapse of interstellar order depicted as multicoloured flag in tatters
Acceleration workings
Acceleration.ods

Previously: Hongkonger-Land-under-England
Next week:       HongkongerWinchester sur la Solent (entrepôt)

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Hongkongers 1 – Hongkongerland-under-England


This is the first in my series looking at the plight of Hongkongers, former citizens of the Commonwealth and of its predecessor the British Empire, now left to rot in the Fish ‘n’ Chipless hell that is present day China. They probably don’t have decent football matches to watch either, so this takes a look at the options.¹

Hongkongerland-under-England (the Pennines)

We all know that Hong Kong is due to be handed back to China in 2047 and that over the period from 1997, it is being run under one country, two systems. As with all former empires, this will present the question: do I stay or do I go? For those who are wondering what a diaspora of Hongkongers would mean to this Sceptred Isle, I’ve taken a light-hearted look at the possibilities.

There are many available places in this world (surprisingly) but as you would expect, most, such as the Falkand Islands, are unsuitable – though the thought of Hongkong-Falkland did amuse me for a while. So the best place has to be in second Mother country (the original being Han-China). So take it away mother country, starting near home with a whimsical fancy of Hongkongerland-under-England – that is under the Pennines.

Football

The Pennines are a range of hills in the North of England dividing east from west; place of dark, satanic mills and up north friendliness, notwithstanding the self-perpetuating activity of sustainable tribal clashes – also known as football. These clashes are instantly and endlessly replayable; much better than ancient resentments such as the Wars of the Roses and the Civil War because you get replays every Saturday afternoon and, for the really committed supporter the full on social scene includes pubs, beer, hangovers and normally (for at least 50% of supporters) the exquisite agony of knowing your team could have done better – if only the manager had listened to your advice. Spectator participation: one million. Number of results: three (win, lose, draw :-)). Now, were we to undertake a proper study of these every-day, on-display examples of self-sustaining activity, surely we might learn a thing or two and in doing so solve not only the secret of perpetual motion, but the perpetual, persistent and self-sustaining crises of non-sustainability, flagged up by the ever-ready eco-warriors of the world.

Troglodytes

Apart from football… there have long been rumours of troglodytes in northern parts, in the main these can be attributed to fabricated tales of breaking out the beer after a successful pot-holing expedition. The North of England has a good deal of limestone and as a result has decent pot hole potential, and of course the idea of a underground redoubt is as old as natives taking shelter from foreign invaders. It’s just a short hop from underground redoubt to Joseph O’Neill’s Land Under England, or indeed, an entire civilisation based in a hollow Earth as in Edgar Rice Burrough’s Pellucidar².

This is the basis of a Hongkonger land under England, the reasoning being – the moors are bleak and windswept, no one in their right minds would build on them – besides that would only agitate the tree-huggers – not that there’s any trees to speak of in them parts. But building down – so a city that never sleeps underneath pristine moors – yeah I get that. And there’s a thing about the sleep cycle – Hong Kong is full of lights so a subterranean haven that’s full of night lights to a different circadian pattern – well things could be fine tuned to coincide with the day cycle of the main source of business; the far East – I can see how that would fit together.

Conclusion

Pros – will liven up traditional recipes such as meat pies, fish and chips and should reset the mark for the provision of decent fayre – ever since the much lamented closure of Grandma Pollard’s (of  Walsden) the lack of quality pies fails to put a happy smile onto the dinner time faces of workers in this part of the Pennines. Business opportunity beckons

Don’t forget the levelling up due to greater levels of industry, always a plus – making the region look prosperous, is as near as you can get to the type of self-fulfilling prophecy everybody wants. This a double whammy  – instead of moaning about: the price of pies, the local deficit in proper pies, and not having enough left to buy a decent flat cap; Northerners would be earning real money and thus, faced with real choices on how to spend it, and would doubtless take great delight in a decent all-weather wardrobe that stretched far beyond the basic attire of high-heels, suspenders and bras to include one… maybe even two of the all-important flat caps!

Cons – meat pies, fish and chips and other local delicacies such as stodgy peas, bread pudding, tripe and black pudding, will ruin the palates of Hongkongers; but on the plus side these delicacies will finally get a makeover; heck, they might even make it into the big time. Hey, this is supposed to be a con, so here’s an additional con… lonely, randy farmers will have to watch their ways with sheep on the moors after dark!!

¹ For the literalist – ie one who takes every word as the literal truth – this is a work of meta-fiction liberally sprinkled with facts in pursuit of the lustre of plausibility (this in turn being one of the tests espoused by Classical Greek thought). 🙂

² In keeping with the theme of underground habitation, I trialled the concept, (Lock, Stock and Barrel) on an alien city under the Pennines near the junction of the A672 with the M62. If this work eventually sees the light of day, it’ll be a stroke of luck; coincidentally Lucky is the working title.

Some may conclude that this blogger has a soft spot for China. A number of responses can be made to this including: by the way, do you realise I blog on all sorts of topics? On this, check out my welcome page. Okay, we’ve got that out of the way so let’s get to the sponsored work which is…

The Turning Stone: Geophysical world map

The Turning Stone (Arshaana’s Quest). In this work, humans are descendants of ancient mythical beings but they have long since forgotten their origins. The story begins with Beni, Tinder, Hunda, Athene, Jak in an archaeological expedition in post communist Uighuristan, who discover an ancient stone with run-like markings and rescue a homeless, badly injured Tuvan girl, Arshaana. It continues when they return home to the leading Western nation of NuWrld. It climaxes with the transformation of the teenage protagonists into super-powered, mythic archetypes; unfortunately their archetypes are mutual enemies. The spell that calls forth their archetypes goes out of control and opens the way for an ancient evil to return. They must ensure that Arshaana is nursed back to health but can they escape the clutches of bandits and ancient sects, and somehow stop the world being destroyed?

front cover depicting a Star seeker

Genre: YA Fantasy, 12+

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Alt map of the Turning Stone world – the foundation event being in equivalent of Toba / Indonesia

Next week:     HongkongerDoggerland

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RPG themed stories.


Fantasy fiction based on RPG
my newest idea: Door Witch
an update on Men for the Stars
Lancashire Authors

tparchie - Blog

A quick catch up. Work pulls me away of the social media world – no bad thing given the number of projects I have on the go. Currently I’m on with a couple of RPG influenced stories. These are:

At The Haunt
This story was written with Halloween in mind as Davy Dipskit, newbie Knight (level 1) goes on a Halloween themed blind date to The Haunt – the place where the vampires, werewolves and zombies all hang out. His date: Epheramie of the Dercevii (the headless people). It’s all on RPG: Darkness Falls, so Ephermie must surely be an NPC. So take it away Davy and Ephme!!

Door Witch
Akalito is a Magister of the 7th level on RPG: Earth Myth. He has had his house built in the wilds of Eald Widu… you do stuff like that to stop newbie Raids. It is called House Batezz. When…

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