Archive for » September, 2012 «

Rio: A Review

This was a blu-ray my husband and I picked up on our birthdays. we had requested it as the trailor had caught our attention and thought it looked like a cute and fun watch.

It’s about the last pair of blue Macaws and the specialist who wishes to breed them together. He approaches the owner of the male, a male which can’t fly and requests she brings her bird to Rio to mate with the female he is looking after.

There’s a brilliant double romance in this, obviously between the two birds but also between the two owners. It’s quite typical cartoon romances but still cute and fun.

I wasn’t expecting this film to be as funny as it turned out to be I have to admit. I laughed a lot even though I was working while watching and found I didn’t get any where near as much working done as I expected when I started watching.

The plot was mostly predictable but it didn’t matter. It was entertaining enough and is actually a pretty good family film.

Creating a Fantasy World

Ever since reading Lord of the Rings as a child I have always wanted to create my own special fantasy world with my own races and monsters.

Recently with my Winter series I’ve been doing just that. Making a fantasy world involves lot sof different aspects to make it believable and I’ve got spreadsheets and documents on all sorts of things to make sure my brain can remember the land, races, animals and all sorts of other things. There’s a lot of areas that need thinking about before the books can even be decided.

Races

Most fantasy books have humans in them somewhere but often a fantasy writer has to decide what other races they want in there.

Elves are the next most common race in fantasy but you don’t just have to decide whether they are in the world or not but other things like, how pointed their ears are? Do they have any benefits over being human? How long do they live?

Common fantasy traits for elves are long living, even sometimes immortal, pale and fair, wise and mostly keeping themselves ot themselves. They value beauty and learning over many other things and try to be one with their surroundings.

The next common race is dwarves. These can be handled in several ways as well. More commonly these are offspring of humans and often shunned by society. The most famous of these is probably Tyrion Lannister from the ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series. There are also the Tolkien style dwarves, however, where they are a complete race of their own. In the Lord of the Rings films Gimli the dwarf jokes that the dwarf women look so alike the dwarf men that it makes people think they spring up out of nowhere.

There are of course many other races you could invent. In my fantasy so far I have a race of flying humans called Nepharil and Tolkien also has Ents. Game of Thrones has Others, a type of possesing demon.

Finally the relationships between these races needs to be decided. Is anyone at war at the start of the series. Are there old rivalries and tensions. Which leads us nicely into the next area that needs to be thought about.

History

Every land has some history to it. How long have the elves lived where they do. What old grudges do families have.

Family trees can need working out and sometimes books in a series can span hundreds, even thousands of years. It doesn’t all have to be worked out right away but it helps to include little bits of information here and there. Readers like to feel like it’s a complete world they are being immersed into.

Mythology

This is another one that features in a lot of fantasy. There’s usually some kind of God or gods and Tolkien even went so far as a whole creation myth, belief system, a heaven and angels. You don’t have to have any type of God if you don’t want to but people tend to believe in something and it helps make them relatable to readers if this involves religion for at least a few characters. Praying can be a great way to put a characters deepest worries into dialogue as well and helps give the reader some inside knowledge into the thoughts. It can also lead into great things like answered prayers, miracles and gives our good guys an extra weapon in their arsenal.

Maps

These aren’t quite as common but for fantasy that travels a good distance maps can be very important. They help the reader visualise the kind of terrain and the enormity of the journies travelled as well as helping make the whole thing feel real. I also personally find as an author they help with knowing what’s coming next.

I map out the areas and mark on where the big events happen, where the characters start and where they are going to travel too. At the least it provides me with an idea of how long it’s going to take to travel between A and B.

Languages

This is more Tolkien’s thing than anyone else. He made up four languages for Lord of the Rings and it can really add to the feel of the races if they occasionally talk in their own tongues. It set’s some mystique to a race and also ties in well with the mythology and history.

On top of that it adds well to the dynamics between the races if you can have occasions where they don’t understand each other because they speak separate languages.

I’m sure there are also many other areas of the fantasy world that need creating. It’s really quite an undertaking but can ber very rewarding.

A Clash of Kings: A Review

This is the second book in the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin and I’ve already reviewed the first one here. I didn’t know if I was going to get this book due to the expense of the ebooks but the publisher dropped them all in the Uk ever so slightly when the second series was on Tv so this one was a little cheaper. Unfortunately they appear to have come up again.

I was very eager to start this book after finishing the first and I delved into the book very happily, eager to continue and I’d say the first half of the book was just as amazing as the first. I was interested and eager to read on. I’m not sure I enjoyed the chapters from the newer characters, however, as towards the end of the book I got a little bored.

Generally I don’t like having too many characters killed in a series and I think having one of my favourites killed at the end of the first one did take some of the shine off this one as well.

On top of that Catalyn Stark has started to grate on me and there were quite a few chapters from her point of view. Maybe because I’m not a mother I don’t relate well to her but I find she interferes too much and doesn’t actually help.

Reading this book I did find I developed even more respect for both Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister though and between the two of them they saved this book for me.

Overall not as good as the first but still not bad and I have picked up the third one with my brithday money. I’ll review that in a while.

Sherdan’s Prophecy: Chapter 25

Later that afternoon Anya disturbed Sherdan. She had been watching TV since before the broadcast. He put down his laptop and followed her. The Prime Minister was doing a speech outside number ten.

“Dr Sherdan Harper is nothing more than a terrorist.” He paused to look up from his notes before looking back at the podium. “This country doesn’t negotiate with terrorists. We will use the full force of the British army to re-open the closed-off area of Bristol and rescue the people this madman is calling his ‘residents’.”

The journalists gathered in front of the podium shouted questions at him, but Mr Jones ignored them all. He went back inside his house and shut the door. The speech was short and to the point. There would be more attacks.

“The UN will put pressure on him not to attack once we’re recognised. As will other countries,” Sherdan told Anya. He wanted to reassure her.

If Utopia is recognised.” Anya sighed. She went back to her book. Sherdan sat and watched the news channel a little longer.

When he went back to his study he radioed the command bunker and told them to be prepared for another attack. The commander acknowledged the information but Sherdan noticed the weariness in his voice. After three attacks in four days, the people were tired and it would only get worse for the next few days.

He spent the rest of the evening preparing a speech for the residents. He only spoke to Anya when they ate. She didn’t say much and had been subdued since the second assault. He knew he had given her a lot to think about.

There had also been a lot on Sherdan’s mind so it didn’t come as a surprise when, later that evening, his head throbbed with a large headache. He rubbed his temples. He also had to see Hitchin for more tests but everything non-life-threatening would have to wait until after the expected attempts at invasion.

Anya came through to say goodnight as it passed midnight and the following day began but got no further. The country was under attack again. He took her hand, looking apologetically at her and led her to the command bunker.

She stayed silent during the walk, reinforcing Sherdan’s worry that something was wrong. He couldn’t deal with it at the moment, however.

He was about to leave her in his private room at the command centre as a loud explosion sounded somewhere above them. She flinched and ducked, looking up as if she expected the ceiling to fall on her.

“It’s okay, the force field will have detonated it outside and prevented anything from flying in at speed and causing damage,” Sherdan reassured her. She didn’t look convinced and just curled up back on the bed again, her eyes pointed upwards.

He frowned and rushed into the command bunker. The look he gave the people in there stopped everyone in their tracks. He wanted answers.

“Nothing has been damaged. The shield worked,” the nearest worker said.

“Good. Keep track of what is being sent our way so we can expand our borders as required,” Sherdan replied.

“Yes sir!”

He nodded and went to his station. It took him a few seconds to focus. The reduced sleep and added pressure was taking it’s toll on him.

The explosions continued to be heard overhead and he could not help thinking of the woman waiting for him in the nearby room. He hoped she could get some rest with all the noise and mayhem.

He watched the screens, although little could be seen on them. The darkness made it harder to organise their defences so they had to be extra careful. Thankfully, so far there didn’t seem to be any paratroopers.

Any aircraft over head quickly dropped bombs and flew back to their starting airfields. Other than a small amount of debris, the bombs had no affect on the country. Their shield kept everything safe and all the bombs detonated far above the tops of the homes.

By the early hours of the morning the air raid had stopped. Up rolled more tanks. The explosions flashed just outside the shields and when the smoke cleared the only damage they could see was to the armies own barriers.

The shields not only blocked the incoming projectiles but deflected the blasts back towards the source. One tank which had driven up only a few metres from the barrier set itself alight with the first shot. Sherdan smiled as Graham and a few others laughed out loud.

When the attack finally ceased he noticed spirits had lifted amongst his command team. They had watched for three hours as the army did nothing but waste money and make noise. No guards had been needed and the only concern had been the debris building up on the ground.

Sherdan ordered everyone to get some rest and leave the clean up for the morning. Residents would need to be careful in the meantime, but only to not trip over any of the bomb parts that had fallen through the shield after detonation. None of it could hurt anyone now.

He went to his private room to find Anya had slept, as he had expected. She looked very peaceful, on her side, her hands tucked up under the pillow her head rested on. He wasn’t sure he had the heart to wake her. Instead, he poured a drink and sat down.

It still surprised him that she remained with him. She had the ability to leave and would probably be a lot safer if she did. She had also given him no indication she wanted to progress a relationship with him.

He sighed. He was unsure of his feelings for her and he didn’t like it. Except for one or two occasions he’d always had everything he wanted. There had been one student who had rejected him back in his earlier days at the university. Sandy had dated the astrophysics professor, Paul Carmichael. He had been older than Sherdan and not quite so well groomed, but that evidently had not bothered her.

He just could not work Anya out, no matter how hard he tried. For the first time he didn’t even know if he wanted something, let alone if he would achieve it.

Sherdan didn’t move when he had finished his drink. He continued to stare at the puzzling girl, tucked up in his bed. Slowly he drifted off to sleep, thinking of Anya, and Hitchin’s prophecy.

He remained asleep in the chair until he felt a hand stroking his cheek softly.

“Sherdan,” Anya whispered. He opened his eyes to look into hers. She smiled and stepped away. The bed was unmade and she busied herself making it neat again.

“What time is it?” he asked.

“Gone nine. Hitchin turned up half an hour ago but said he’d email you. Why didn’t you wake me?”

“I intended to. I fell asleep.”

“What time did the attack stop?”

“Not until the army realised it was doing no damage at all.” Sherdan smiled as Anya stopped what she was doing.

“They were bombing you, how was nothing blown up?”

“Our shields. They stopped anything but the debris getting through.”

Anya’s mouth fell open and she blinked a few times. Completely lost for words.

“They can detect the velocity of projectiles trying to pass through them. The faster they travel the more it seems like a wall is in the way. The bombs they just dropped couldn’t cope with the forces stopping them so they exploded on impact with it. Anything that remained then passed through the shields to fall on the ground,” Sherdan explained.

“I don’t understand. If it’s based on speed, how are the soldiers who try to walk in stopped?”

“There are two parts to the shield system. The second part stops anyone who doesn’t have the enzyme from being able to pass. You wouldn’t be able to go through it even though you have an ability as your enzyme is different.”

“No one was hurt then?”

“No. No one from our country. I don’t think any soldiers were hurt either.”

“Your country.”

Sherdan raised an eyebrow and blinked. It took him a moment to figure out what she meant. He nodded, stopping her from explaining. He didn’t think he wanted her to tell him she didn’t intend to stay and be his queen. They’d been around that circle already and he didn’t want to say anything which might make her leave.

He opened the secret door for her to go back to his house but did not follow her. She’d distracted him enough from his job. His citizens needed him to focus on them and their needs.

The big tasks for the morning were cleaning up the streets and working out the process to expand their country borders in retaliation. Not only did they need to work out exactly how much they should expand by but also where.

Sherdan didn’t want to take territory he couldn’t easily defend. He also didn’t want to upset the British public too much. He’d be making many of them homeless and something like that would need to be done as delicately as possible.

He started with the clean up process. Bomb remains were littered all over the area. The army had chucked a great deal of explosives at them. Ninety percent had been over the central command area but there was hardly a street without some cleaning to do.

The guards were enlisted in the tidying. He wanted the residents to feel like everything was under control. They would have been scared by all the noise through the night. The sooner their world returned to normal the better they would handle the immediate future.

Sherdan was pleased he had thought to write a short speech already. He quickly modified it to suit the aftermath of the last attack and pressed the intercom button.

He delivered a short, comforting message, reassuring the residents that he knew what he was doing and that they still stood strong and unharmed. He even got to mock Mark Jones a little for his incompetence.

When Sherdan was satisfied that his country was all tidy again he allowed his officers some room to breath and retreated to his rest room. There, he finally checked his emails.

Hitchin had emailed as Anya had informed him. The contents were no surprise. Hitchin wanted him to come in for more tests. Sherdan marked the email to reply to it later. It still had to wait.

He also had an email from Ellie’s father. He hadn’t travelled down to see his daughter, not believing it to be safe. Instead he demanded his daughter be returned to him. Sherdan smiled to himself as he wrote his reply.

Every good reason not to allow Ellie to leave was now presentable. Not only was it unsafe for her to go but the British army were highly unlikely to let her. There was even the possibility they would take her in for questioning and she’d be in even more danger.

Sherdan didn’t expect this to pacify the father at all, but he sent the message anyway. He spent the rest of the day working out what buildings he wished to take as part of the country.

He needed more space for all the people arriving on Monday. There were two days to find room for all of them. Only a small amount of housing remained free within the borders as previous expansion had been done very slowly and covertly, using many different company names and representatives to hide that one person was taking over the whole area.

They also needed to be careful not to annoy too many British residents. At the moment they had support from the general population and didn’t want to lose it until they’d been officially recognised as a country. It would be a delicate operation and needed to be started as soon as possible.

Sherdan had already partially planned for this moment. There was a set of instructions to ensure the act of taking more territory went as smoothly as possible. Nathan had been asked to lead the operation to start with and had been briefed on the subject more than once. He had an enormous amount of patience and people warmed to him quickly, so Sherdan felt he was the perfect choice.

Although he would never admit it, Nathan was the closest thing he had to a friend after Hitchin and he wondered if it might be because of the man’s ability. He could hear a lot of Sherdan’s thoughts and therefore knew him better than most other people got to the chance to.

Once he’d finished pouring over the map of the area and pinpointed where they were to expand, he took his suggestion to Graham. He wanted a second opinion about the defensibility of the area as they had to use their shield emitters wisely.

It took another two hours to go over everything with his command team before Sherdan was happy with the preparations. They agreed to get started first thing the following morning and give everyone what would hopefully be another good nights sleep so they were fresh for the challenges the task might present.

Sherdan went back to his retreat to pack up and go home. He hesitated, noticing that the paperwork he’d left behind had moved. He frowned, not sure who could have been in the room.

He was just about to collect everything up when the door opened. A gust of air ruffled the documents on the table as Hitchin walked in.

“I know, I know. I need to come for more tests.” Sherdan held his hands up.

“That’s not why I’m here.” Hitchin smiled, “I’ve had another successful batch of recruits. They’re all alive and have developed powers. One in particular is very interesting. All animals come to her when called. They seem to understand her.”

“All animals?”

Hitchin nodded and Sherdan finally gathered together all his loose paper. He had an extra spring to his step all the way back to his home.

Anya was in his study. She hardly acknowledged his presence but continued drawing in a note book.

He had no idea where she’d found either the pretty, flower patterned sketch book or the box of artistic pencils which lay open beside her. He frowned but she didn’t notice.

Sherdan sat down opposite her but she still didn’t say anything so he watched her draw. Her pencil flicked almost effortlessly across the paper in quick, gentle lines. He couldn’t see what she was drawing.

“You left the compound?” he asked. She looked up confused. “To get your art supplies.”

“No. Nathan found these for me.”

“Nathan?”

“Yes, your security guard. He noticed I was bored and, when I told him I was an artist, he had some materials fetched for me.”

“You talked to my guards?”

“Of course. Both they and I are alone here all day. I talk to them frequently… Will you be here tomorrow? It’s Sunday and I always miss company most on Sundays.”

“I have things to do tomorrow. We are claiming new territory.” Sherdan smiled as Anya looked at him again. She bit her lip.

“What are you going to do?”

“Take new territory. We were attacked,” he explained.

“What about the people living there?”

“They’ll have to move. It’s an unfortunate consequence but it can’t be helped.”

Anya frowned again and went back to her drawing. Sherdan sighed. She didn’t approve and surprisingly it bothered him. It seemed no matter how much time passed she didn’t soften towards him and his plans.

Sherdan contemplated taking some more forceful measures but everything he could think of would drive her to leave instead.

“Why are you still here?” he asked, breaking the silence again.

“I don’t know. I don’t really want to be but I don’t feel like I can leave yet.”

“I cannot stop you, you can leave when you wish… of course I’d prefer you not to.”

“It’s not you stopping me.” Anya smiled very briefly before resuming her picture. Sherdan couldn’t get her to say much for the rest of the day. He gave up after dinner and returned to his work instead.

Total Recall: A Review

This is a remake of a 1990’s film of the same name starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. The original was okay, a bit weird and the effects for when they couldn’t breath were funny rather than scary but it was a decent enough plot I watched it happily. It was a typical Arnie action film for most of it.

The original plot is fairly similar to the new one so I was happy with that side of things again. Ordinary man realises he’s actually a kick-ass super agent type thing is something I usually enjoy. Bit like dragging out the first twenty minutes of bourne into an hour and adding in some extra characters.

There were some really nice camera shots too. My favourite was when Quiad is getting into his first fight with the bad guys and he’s acting on instinct and the camera does this lovely 360 spin around him as he beats them all up.

The big differences between the two films are the location; the new one wasn’t on Mars but the colony was essentially an amalgamation of Japan, New Zealand and Australia while everything else was the United Federation of Britian or UFB for short; the special effects, the new one has gone for a very classy sleak technology and it was a huge plus of the film. I found myself really wanting the new technology throughout the entire film; finally the acting, Arnold Schwarzenegger was never particularly know for his fine acting skills but there is just something more charming and normal feeling about Colin Farrel’s Quiad.

And nothing quite shows the last two differences better than seeing both this picture on the left of Arnie pulling what I think is meant to be a pained expression, surrounded by what looks like painted cardboard handlebars compared to Colin’s calm but obviously bothered look below in bright shiny metal looking things.

Basically, if you liked the first one then you’ll like the remake and if you didn’t like the first one but like action films you’ll like the remake.

I only have one very small criticism to make of the new film. I couldn’t tell the two women apart at first. Melina and Lori looked almost identical. When I first saw Quiad in bed with his ‘wife’ I thought it was the same girl he had been dreaming about only moments before and got very confused for the next few minutes while my brain tried to think back to the original plot and work out if they were meant to be the same person. Thankfully it soon clarifies that they are not the same person and I could get back to enjoying the film.

Tolkien and the world he created

Now I’m finally writing my own fantasy I’m spending more time looking at the lovely world created by Tolkien. He was a very brilliant man and a genius in his own field of linguistics. Occasionally if you’re looking for it you will see his name along side others on particular translations of the Bible.

Lord of the rings was the first book of his I read but it was swiftly followed by the hobbit, the silmarillion and I even own a few others of the many books of stories that his son and grandson have since published.

In my opinion Lord of the rings is by far the best. I know a lot of people say it would never have been published today but I really hope it would. Yes, there is a lot of description and sometimes it feels like it drags but it is a fantastic example of an epic quest undertaken by the unlikeliest of hero.

The description is seen as a good thing by some people, however. The details in Tolkien’s world is immense. He knew where everything was and had countless notes on the little towns and big cities, the races and everything else he thought he might need to remember.

While writing my own it’s very easy to delve into what he created and get lost in it for hours and the extended editions of the three lord of the rings films are fantastic too.

On top of that there is the very awesome trailor for the first of two hobbit films out this Christmas. I can hardly wait.

MIB III: A Review

I hadn’t actually been intending to see this film as I’d never heard good things about the second film in the franchise and hadn’t bothered to see it but I found myself near a cinema with not much to do and rain I wanted to get out of so this film made it to my seen list.

Thankfully the film was stand alone enough that having not watched men in black 2 I still knew what was going on and could work out who everyone was. A serious plus for the film. Also thanks to Captain America I had gained a greater appreciation for the acting skills of Tommy Lee Jones.

This whole franchise does seem to be a bit more of a focus on Will Smith though and the silly things he does in pursuit of earth destroying aliens. While no way near as good as the first I found myself well enough amused and chuckling out loud a number of times despite the people around me seeming to be a little nervous about laughing out loud. There was definitely a few moments where quite a few people went to laugh out loud but due to the quietness of the room I was the only person who managed to get a proper laugh out, which of course makes it even worse next time.

I really don’t think the film was meant to be taken seriously but I think the kids will love it and adults won’t mind taking any sprogs they’ve got. Probably won’t bother watching it again though, unless I find myself in a room full of other people who want to watch it.

Sherdan’s Prophecy: Chapter 24

“Sherdan, are you there sir?” the radio squawked, breaking through Sherdan’s dreamless sleep. At first he couldn’t place what had disturbed him. “Sherdan, sir, please respond.” He grabbed the radio.

“I’m here, what is it?”

“We’re being attacked sir, you’re needed in the command bunker.” He was out of bed before the sentence had been finished.

“On my way.”

He hurriedly yanked his clothes on and ran into Anya’s room, noticing that it was still dark outside. Even though he wanted to leave her in her peaceful sleep he shook her awake. As soon as she saw the concern on his face and sat up.

“We’ve got to go.”

She grabbed the dressing gown he handed her and got out of bed. His eyes went straight to her bare legs but she didn’t notice.

“Is it another attack?” She looked at him, expectantly. He nodded while she stuffed her feet into her slippers and followed him.

“The residents have all been informed sir.” The radio came to life again.

“Have it announced several times. Many will be sleeping deeply.” Sherdan fired back to the command room. He took Anya’s hand as they rushed down into the house and toward the secret passage.

She yawned as she hurried along beside him. It wasn’t even six yet. Sherdan had a headache from such little sleep but he felt wide awake. The adrenaline had got rid of the sleepy feeling he’d had when he first woke up. By the time they were in the compound the same had happened to Anya.

She tried to follow him into the command room but he pushed her back and shook his head. He didn’t have time to explain to her why.

The camera’s were all a haze of coloured thermal scanning images. One of the assistants was doing a third intercom announcement while the commander, not even fully dressed, was already passing orders to the security team.

More transport planes had already flown over, dropping almost one hundred soldiers. That had been a quarter of an hour ago.

As they had done the first time, the guards were rounding up as many soldiers as they could as each one landed but they didn’t even catch a third this way. Sherdan’s men rushed around as best as they could, but in the dark, with very limited help from the command room, they struggled to see the soldiers.

To make it harder, the troops didn’t all head towards the same destination as they had before and. Instead, they all went towards six separate, easily defensible locations, meaning the groups of soldiers got larger more rapidly.

Half an hour later, only ten more soldiers had been stopped and taken to one of the five prison areas. Sherdan couldn’t help but get angry at the circles the soldiers ran around the guards. He banged his fists down on the desk in front of him a few times.

He knew he had to change strategy.

“Nathan, have the prison buildings go down to only eight guards each. Lead the rest to help capture the enemy,” Sherdan said into the radio. Having eight in each would be enough to defend against the biggest soldier groups so far.

“Done sir,” Nathan replied a few moments later.

“Thank you. Send each new squad of guards to the nearest house the soldiers are trying to get to. I want you to take your team towards my house. There’s eight closing in on it and only the two security inside currently.”

“Is Anya there sir?”

“No, she’s safe here with me, but I would still prefer my house to remain untouched.”

“I understand sir, on my way.”

The soldiers took their time travelling to Sherdan’s house as they were more cautious in the dark. They were only just at the front lawn when the first few guards came to join the security already inside.

“We’re there sir. Should be enough of us to keep your house safe now.”

“Thank you Nathan.” Sherdan sighed with relief. He had not been sure it was his own men coming up to the house from behind.

They needed a better way of telling their own guards apart from the soldiers on the night time thermal cameras. At the moment the command room had to check it wasn’t guards they were looking at before telling them where to go. Twice now they had surrounded their own men. Sherdan almost threw the microphone when it happened a third time.

The soldiers near Sherdan’s house began shooting the second they saw the security coming out the door towards them. They had soon emptied their ammo clips.

“They are all drawing knives and other close combat weapons, please advise command?” Nathan said, shortly after.

“Keep your distance. Another squad is closing in from behind. They will surrender soon.” Sherdan replied. He didn’t want anyone to be hurt unless absolutely necessary.

What Anya had told him the night before came back to him, making him frown. If she ended up being right their relationship would go backwards again.

“If they move to attack, shoot for the legs rather than allow yourselves to get hurt,” he added. It was the first time he’d ever told them retaliating was allowed. He hoped no one lost their heads.

“Only if there’s no alternative.”

Thankfully the eight enemy combatants soon realised that knives wouldn’t help them against the thirty plus team of guards that were hemming them onto the lawn of the house. They surrendered.

Nathan and the rest of the squads moved in to slap wrist bindings on each of them but one soldier hadn’t finished putting his knife down. He lunged out at the nearest guard, Nathan. A responding fist soon knocked the idiotic man to the ground.

He swore and then apologised. He only had a scratch down his right arm but he immediately got ordered off operational duty to report to the medical section. The captured men were taken to the nearest prison along with three more stragglers the guards picked off along the way.

As it got a little brighter the guards headed for the next target; nine soldiers in a civilian house not too far from Sherdan’s.

The house had a small group of young adults locked in an outside shelter. They’d radioed in to say the soldiers had not realised they were there, but Sherdan didn’t want to give them the chance.

The guards ran over under cover until they were only a few metres away. Forty of them stormed the house, again to weapon fire from the soldiers. Sherdan was listening to this happening on the radio when Graham called to him.

“Sir, there are more planes on the radar coming our way. Lyneham again.”

“They’ll drop more.” Sherdan frowned. If they dropped the another eighty soldiers his security would be outnumbered. He grabbed the microphone for the country-wide intercom.

“The UK government is trying to overwhelm us with numbers. Anyone between the age of twenty-one and fifty who wishes to help defend please safely make your way to the nearest prison facility. Do not come alone and do not engage any enemies.”

All the people just rescued instantly requested to help. At the guard houses they were fitted with shield devices and given easy to use hand guns. Each one was then partnered with one of the trained guards. Hopefully it would give the illusion that they were trained security but they wouldn’t need to do anything.

Sherdan made a mental note to accept more military type applicants and get more security trained. This was only the second attack of who knew how many and they already ran the risk of being overwhelmed.

As soon as the guards had captured the soldiers within the house, Sherdan had them scatter and look out for new paratroopers. The growing light would aid them.

While the guards dealt with the new soldiers as best as they could, the residents who wished to join all slipped over to the nearest security hub. With the soldiers already on the land in centred pockets and the rest still in the air, the residents all managed to move without meeting any resistance.

Just in case, Sherdan had two of his command team focus on watching the residents on the cameras to help keep them safe. The last thing he needed was his citizens to get hurt.

Sherdan was shocked at the number of residents who responded. Over three hundred turned up at the five security buildings; there weren’t enough personal shields to go around. Everyone that could be protected was sent out. The remaining fifty eight stayed at the secure centres to help lock up all the incoming prisoners.

With all the extra man power, as well as the new light of day, the task soon got easier. As with the first attack several days ago the soldiers were captured in ones and twos and locked away.

By eight there were almost two hundred soldiers being held. There were still another forty-three in four separate locations. Sherdan had the men split into two and pick off two more of the groups.

One group of eleven were taken without a fuss. They hardly even used their weapons as it was soon apparent it didn’t work. The second group proved more stubborn.

They were holed up in one of the civilian homes and the young child in the cellar had cried and alerted the soldiers that there were people under the house. The soldiers started prising the door open. The family radioed it in and the guards all raced into the building.

Sherdan gritted his teeth as he stared at the three cameras focused on the outsides of the house.

The family were safe, a little panicked, but safe. It had been close; too close in Sherdan’s mind. He had the guards head straight for the other two buildings occupied by soldiers, even though another set of planes had appeared on the radar.

Sherdan noticed the soldiers with dogs on the edges of the country didn’t even bother trying to get in. They were waiting for the people inside to let them through, once they’d secured locations inside. They would have a long wait.

As the planes flew overhead and dropped their third and largest load of troops, Sherdan had the guards clear the shelters in all the homes that had been rally points so far. The last two sets of soldiers had all tried to go to the same six fixed places. He figured the third would do the same.

He smiled when the guards managed to re-secure the final location and take the owners to the nearest safe shelter. Hopefully it would ensure they remained unharmed. At the least, it would give them some company during the attack.

As before, the security spread out across the whole country, following soldiers in the sky to capture them as they landed. This third wave was even bigger than the first two had been but the extra help still meant half the soldiers were captured and neutralised before they could really move.

They parachuted down and were surrounded before their feet had even hit the floor, often being pinned inside their own chutes.

Sherdan then had the guards all move straight to the nearest of each of the six suspected destinations and wait inside to capture soldiers.

The command room finally calmed again and people sat back down instead of rushing between desks and monitors, including Sherdan. The soldiers were followed on the camera as they walked into buildings full of guards who had their guns aimed and hand ties ready.

Rather than move, the soldiers were held inside as more paratroopers arrived. It was the most effective strategy yet. Less then fifty minutes had passed when all enemy combatants were safely locked up.

Congratulations were echoed everywhere and a buzz of excitement spread as it approached nine. Sherdan even took a moment to check on Anya who had got into the bed and looked fast asleep.

Despite there being no more immediate danger he didn’t allow any of the guards to stand down yet. Each wave of fresh soldiers had been just over an hour after the previous, and there were still a few more minutes to go before a fourth group could appear.

He watched over the radar himself this time, eager to see if the RAF sent any more. The rest of his command team milled around and took a break, passing croissants and cups of orange juice around to anyone who wanted them.

Several minutes passed. Sherdan was about to order everyone back to their normal tasks when dots appeared on the radar again. Everyone sprang to life; the guards watched for parachutes and the commanders manned their stations.

They waited for the next assault, but it didn’t come. The planes flew over a few times, each pass a little lower than the one before, but no soldiers emerged. Less than ten minutes later Sherdan was watching their dots on the radar turn back the way they had come.

It appeared this battle was over. With reasonable ease they were yet again the victors. When everyone had patted each other on the back and praised the guards on the radio, Sherdan got back to the running of his country.

There were some changes he wanted to make: he wanted more personal shields as well as a much larger military division of his own. He had not liked being outnumbered and how close they had come to discovering the civilians.

The ideal solution would be to stop the troops parachuting in but until there was an ability that helped, short of putting emitters everywhere to hinder soldier movement there wasn’t yet an ability that would help.

Sherdan had everyone informed that the attack had finished and normal working life could begin. He went back to Anya, who had been woken by the public announcement.

She yawned and blinked a few times. Although she didn’t say anything, it was evident from the look on her face that she was getting weary of the constant assaults. He hoped the residents didn’t agree with her.

This time he didn’t bother phoning the prime minister again. If the attacks were going to stop they would call him and until then, Sherdan wouldn’t release the soldiers with all the information they had gained for them to inform their superiors.

There was also the noon, satellite broadcast to prepare for. What he said would make waves among the British public. He prepared some notes back in his study then went through applications checking for people suitable to go on security.

A new group of acceptance letters were sent out for a new set of residents to join them on Monday. They would all have to be secretly brought into the country but that wouldn’t be difficult. They had planned for the possibility.

Anya went to the living room to watch the TV when he had to turn the study into a mini broadcast centre and video link with the news. Ten minutes later the news started. Sherdan watched as they went through all the other pieces. They always left the more important report until last.

A lot of the footage from the night before was shown again and the reporter told everyone about the latest attack. Sherdan was introduced and the link his face was shown to the millions of people watching. As usual, he was thanked for his time.

“Please tell us what has been happening at your end during the attacks?”

“Not very much. The British military have tried to invade us twice now, simply because we’ve refused to recognise our land as part of the United Kingdom. Despite the attacks, no one has been seriously hurt on either side. All the soldiers that parachuted in are now in our prisons.”

“So the attacks have been completely ineffective?”

“All they’ve done is fill our prison cells.”

“What do you intend to do with those captured?”

“When the British authorities have stopped, and agreed to accept Utopia as a country, we’ll let them all go home.”

“And if the attacks continue?”

“The soldiers will remain unharmed as prisoners of war, however, we don’t like being at war. All we want to do is live our way. Our no harm policy seems to be making people think we’re weak, therefore, every time we are assualted, we’ll expand our borders by ten square metres, taking more territory, for every soldier sent and weapon used.”

“Won’t that harm people?”

“Not physically no. However we will act in a way that shows we mean to be listened to and respected.”

Sherdan wasn’t able to say any more. The news reporter cut him off and the show ended. He’d said enough, however, and knew it would give people something to talk about.

He went back to the applications. The government would try to invade again and Sherdan would extend the perimeter, taking another chunk of Bristol. Then the new citizens arriving would all have somewhere to live.

Beyond the Deep (GCPU 3): A Review

I’ve reviewed both the first and second book in this series before and really enjoyed them so I picked up this third one pretty quickly and I wolfed it down in only one sitting.

It carries on from where the second one stopped without really missing a beat and finally brought this particular plot arch to a close. There were some great plot devices in this one and it was definitely my favourite of the three. I also really liked how the author tied in the events that were happening in the area at the time to make it feel more real.

There were also some plot twists I actually didn’t see coming and cool gadgetry James Bond style. I’ve totally fallen in love with the main characters and I think the writing style of the author is going from strength to strength. Definitely the best book so far in what’s turned out to be a great series.

Here’s me hoping there are some more to come and with the few bits of plot left untied I’m fairly sure there will be.

How to change the world

Let’s face it, one of the big reasons people create is to make the world a different place. We want our viewpoint on the way the world should work to be listened to and we want to influence nations for the better (at least I definitely do) and while this can seem like a daunting task; the world is a pretty big place. Here’s some things I’ve learnt on how the world is changed.

Now I bet you’ve heard the idea of you want to change the world you have to start with yourself and while this idea is mostly true. In terms of creating, often what’s in the core of us comes out, so it does make sense but it’s not entirely all about being good intentioned.

Recently I’ve been rewatching the TV series the 4400 and in this series a whole bunch of people are abducted from varying times and then all brought back at once with an extra funky super power each. The first one of these to realise what his super powers is accidentally kills someone with it when he gets angry. The next one gets killed by a bunch of thugs for trying to clean up a park in a small neighbourhood.

Now you’d think these were changes for the bad but the series goes on to show that both of these actually led to positive results. In the first case the guy who was killed has been running a billion dollar fraud scam thingy and him dieing saves the government those billions. In the second case the community around the small park all see that they’ve let their own neighbourhood go to ruin and band together to sort it out again.

In short each one of the actions creates ripples of good, spreading out from the original action. Now, of course we can’t go around killing people but we can do things like clean up stuff and smile at people as we pass them, which is a bit more like changing ourselves but an action based version of it.

And I can guess at this point that you’re probably thinking, how on earth is smiling at someone going to change the whole world (or making that small painting or writing that poem etc) but that’s where the ripple effect idea becomes amazing. No one every smiles just once or creates just one painting. We smile to people all the time and we create in lots of ways. Also the people who’s days are brightened by our smile might then go say something positive to one of their employees which might give them the confidence to try that something they’ve always wanted to but thought might be too difficult and so on. Once a ripple starts there’s no way of knowing how far it gets and how many lives it effects on the way.

Think of an empty swimming pool and yourself standing by the side. It’s perfectly calm and then you drop a pebble into it (that poem you wrote) and another when you smiled at someone. There’s now some movement. You start dropping an assortment of differing sized rocks and pebbles into the swimming pool, the bigger ones to represent the things that had a bigger impact on the people around you.

Then one of the people you’ve effected comes and joins you, also flinging their own pebbles and rocks in and then someone they’ve effected comes and joins in and another of your own and this keeps happening until the pool is surrounded by people chucking stuff in. It’s not going to be still anymore. It’s going to be loud and chaotic and, chances are, the water is going to spill over and get people wet, because all the rocks and pebbles are going to fill up the space the water was in before, and the water will overflow and start running over the floor. On top of that, even if all the rocks were removed the water would never quite be able to go back the way it was. It’s changed and can’t ever go back.

A single person may only be able to make ripples, but they can change the world, one ripple effect at a time.