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Best Philip K Dick Novel

Posted by Terence Park , 26 October 2017 · 100 views
Best Philip K Dick novel and 5 more...
[size=5]Best Philip K Dick Novel[/size]
The Guardian ran an article on Dick’s Best Novels chosen by [url="https://www.theguardian.com/profile/nicola-barker"]Nicola Barker[/url], [url="https://www.theguardian.com/profile/michael-moorcock"]Michael Moorcock[/url], and [url="https://www.theguardian.com/profile/adam-roberts"]Adam Roberts[/url] on 27[sup]th[/sup] August 2017 at [i][url="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/aug/27/philip-k-dick-best-novels-blade-runner-minority-report"]Philip K Dick Best Novels.[/url] [/i]There's all the normal stuff you'd expect to see - Adam Roberts sensibly chose [i]Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?[/i] You find out Moorcock's take on Dick –as editor of [url="https://tparchie.wordpress.com/2014/07/29/new-worlds/"]New Worlds[/url], Moorcock sought out voices to flesh out his vision of Science Fiction, indeed Moorcock was one of the high prophets of [url="https://tparchie.wordpress.com/2017/08/02/the-new-sf-new-wave-science-fiction/"]New Wave SF[/url]. Nicola Barker's take set my brain into gear.
[i]Dick: “the core of my writing is not art, but truth”, and – still more perplexingly: “I am a fictionalising philosopher, not a novelist."[/i]{C}
Nicola Barker: [i]deny it as he might, he is a novelist[/i]
This misses the point; Dick didn't fit into the traditional author-publisher mould. Even now, a publisher would be itching to hack through his work.
In 1960 Dick was willing to [i]take twenty to thirty years to succeed as a literary writer. [/i]His overtures into mainstream were declined - rightly so; his unique talent would have been destroyed by the editing process and, on a more selfish note, he'd have been lost to SF.
His work survives because he found a way through - first via the Science Fiction magazines and then Ace Books. Remember the Ace smaller format? they used to drive me mad while trying to force my makeshift library into some form of neatness. Back in 50s and 60s Ace was one of the big two US SF paperback publishers (the other being Ballantine). Ace books woes in the mid-1960s - they could no longer pay authors reliably - would have affected him (Ace were boycotted over a Lord of the Rings copyright infringement - they settled but their business was damaged). It's round about that time that Dick's output declined - I've always wondered if this resolved in some way to the question: how can you write with no pay? Upfront royalties were significant in the Ace business model. Bringing me to my favourite Dick novel.

[size=5]Galactic Pot-Healer[/size]
I fed my early Science Fiction addiction via Burnley Library and, when I could afford it, used paperbacks from the second hand book stalls on Burnley Market. This gave me cross section of beat up (but treasured) US SF editions which is how I discovered Dick. Most of my 40+ collection of Dick's books are pre-1980. I read all Dick’s SF novels and most of his short stories.


[url="https://tparchie.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/solar-lottery.jpg"][img]https://tparchie.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/solar-lottery.jpg?w=188[/img][/url]
Philip K Dick: Solar Lottery
Arrow Books edition 1972

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Now Wait for Last Year
Macfadden Books 1968 edition

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Eye in the Sky
Ace Books H39, 1967 edition

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Clans of the Alphane Moon
Ace Books 1964 edition, F309

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The Unteleported Man
Ace Books double (with Dr. Futurity) 1972 edition

[url="https://tparchie.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/we-can-build-you.jpg"][img]https://tparchie.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/we-can-build-you.jpg?w=190[/img][/url]
We Can Build You
DAW Books #14 1972 edition


A favourite of mine is [i]Galactic Pot Healer[/i] which came out in 1969. I had the 1976 Pan edition (sadly lost in a recent house move).
[i]Joe Fernwright, the protagonist, lives in a future Earth with intriguing yet disturbing resonances to the here and now. He repairs art on a commission basis but has virtually no work (gig! gig! gig!. He is hired by a powerful being - Glimmung - for a one-off bit of art restoration. The restoration project involves beings from different planets and as it progresses, Joe strikes up a romantic relationship. In the background, Glimmung is in a struggle with the Kalends, which manifest through a book that foretells the future. This struggle is desire vs the inevitable but which is fake, Glimmung's words or the Book of the Kalends? [/i][i]I can so easily imagine the kind of Earth Dick describes (in my head we're almost there). The work transmogrifies via the gestalt... but Joe Fernwright chooses to go back to normality. [/i]
Telling the difference between the fake and the real is more than keeping up appearances, it's about preserving normality, without which people (beings) don't function. Galactic Pot Healer is a transitional work, yesteryear's mutants, ESP, precogs etc are well on their way to VALIS. It contains many of the darkly funny moments I like about Dick's work. He is an acquired taste but once you slip through the doorway, he writes an engaging tale. Dick's work evolves into his exegesis. He also did drugs. Are the two connected?

[size=5]Dick and Drugs[/size]
Drug damage? Certainly - Dick acknowledged this. Did drugs invalidate his message? I'd say both yes and no and then as a rider, would add that this is up to the reader to decide. Importantly he put stuff in the public domain that stretched the genre. SF / Fantasy normally struggles when depicting metaphysical matters - with Dick it just works. It took me a long time to realise he was well read (I was a product of lower class inverse snobbery and despised arts, philosophy etc - it took some autodidact to catch up on where he was at). Most of his work is good - the early SF novels are the least 'Dick-like' but these are a must for those who want [i]the journey[/i].
The overall impact of drugs? I just accepted them as part of him as opposed to a separate influence. On the doing of drugs, I've seen it do damage to those around me - I see it as not too dissimilar to the continuous intake of media input of only one kind - it distorts your perceptions and leaves permanent marks that aren't too easy to shuck off. I get it that just as speed, or whatever, helps keep going on the job, it can help churn out wordage. Do drugs open the doors of creativity or just passive consumption? Of course a writer can interpret (words are his work) but all that's actually happening is for a few brief hours, the filters of everyday existence are slackened off. In my case (as a writer) I rarely write under the influence of alcohol - or even too much coffee.
Dick died as [i]Blade Runner[/i] came to completion. Since then more of his works have leaked into the media and his reputation has grown. imho he died too soon.


[size=5]Dick in the Media[/size]
They won’t let him alone. Can’t. Dick provokes cerebration. We’ve had [i]Total Recall, Screamers, Minority Report, Impostor, Paycheck, A Scanner Darkly, Radio Free Albemuth, The Man in the High Castle [/i]and more. The upcoming series: [i]Electric Dreams[/i] adapts some of his shorter stories interspersed with episodes inspired by his works. I've listed these and, for episodes adapting specific stories, shown year of publication. Episodes marked * are amalgams from various Dick works.


Episode 1 The Hood Maker (1955)
[color=#808080][i]- other writing credits Matthew Graham[/i][/color]

Episode 2 Impossible Planet (1953)
[color=#808080][i]- other writing credits David Farr[/i][/color]

Episode 3 The Commuter (1953)
[color=#808080][i]- other writing credits Jack Thorne[/i][/color]

Episode 4 Real Life
[color=#808080][i]* writing credit: Ronald D Moore[/i][/color]

Episode 5 Crazy Diamond
[color=#808080][i]* writing credit: Tony Grisoni[/i][/color]

Episode 6 Human Is (1955)
[color=#808080][i]- other writing credits Jessica Mecklenburg[/i][/color]

Episode 7 Kill All Others
[color=#808080][i]* writing credit Dee Rees[/i][/color]

Episode 8 Autofac (1955)
[color=#808080][i]- other writing credits Travis Beacham[/i][/color]

Episode 9 Safe And Sound
[color=#808080][i]* writing credit: Kalen Egan, Travis Sentell[/i][/color]

Episode 10 Father Thing (1954)
[color=#808080][i]- other writing credits Michael Dinner[/i][/color]

* Episodes [i]inspired[/i] by Dick's work.
Aficionados will have the opportunity to debate respective influences, indeed it’s possible they may argue over how true Dick inspired episodes are to hiss work. When I originally blogged this, that was still to look forward to.
[url="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5711280"][i]Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams[/i][/url][i] airs on Channel 4, from 17[sup]th[/sup] September 2017. [/i]


[size=5]In Perspective[/size]
I well remember Michael Bishop’s Philip K Dick is Dead, Alas. Dickanian? Yes. Ultimately I read little beyond chapter 1. Then wasn’t the time to write about Dick in a Dickanian style. It wasn't the right postscript to Dick. A good postscript would be someone to carry forward the baton Dick let drop. You watch and you wait. He, or she, must be out there, somewhere; meanwhile we look back to the Master. Ever decreasing circles.

[url="https://tparchie.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/philip-k-dick-is-dead-alas.jpg"][img]https://tparchie.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/philip-k-dick-is-dead-alas.jpg?w=198[/img][/url]
Philip K Dick is Dead, Alas - Michael Bishop
Grafton edition 1988

I’ve read a lot of Golden Age SF plus a fair sampling of authors up to the 80s: Aldiss, Anderson, Asimov, Ballard, Bradbury, Clarke, Farmer, Herbert... to name a few (there's 1,500 genre paperbacks in my library) eventually you get to a point where formulaic fiction begins to irritate you. I got my intellectual kicks from Idries Shah's works on Sufism. His [url="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/556560.Darkest_England"]Darkest England[/url] delves entertainingly into the character and mores of the English. [url="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Caravan-Dreams-Idries-Shah/dp/1784790125/"]Caravan of Dreams[/url] is a more general work on Eastern thought. For an eclectic takes on space fiction, Doris Lessing, who moved in the same social circles as Idries Shah, produced a 5 volume work: [url="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canopus_in_Argos"]Canopus in Argos[/url]. I'm easily led astray by the history of other civilisations. At present that revolves around Central Asia, nomadic eruptions and the Khwarezmian Shahdom. I pretend to myself it's research for a Fantasy project but the reality is how can you write about the rise and fall of galaxy, or even star spanning civilisations if you haven’t grasped the emergence and subsequent collapse of our own great civilisations? The vicissitudes of life (kids, pets, writing groups) mean I don't write enough SF but [url="http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/the-tau-device/18482769"]here's a novel[/url].

If you want to support my forays into SF, please check out my books. They've had good feedback and I consider them fair value.

[b]# The Tau Device[/b] (space opera) [url="http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/the-tau-device/18482769"]POD[/url], [url="http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/the-tau-device/18511418"]POD+[/url] [url="https://kdp.amazon.com/amazon-dp-action/uk/dualbookshelf.marketplacelink/B01CC3X9L4"]Kindle[/url]
The Slow Holocaust (collected dystopias) [url="http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/the-slow-holocaust/18784348"]POD[/url]
Burnley (non-fiction, history & nostalgia) [url="http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/burnley/16212141"]POD[/url]
Silt from Distant Lands (poetry) [url="http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/silt-from-distant-lands/18811121"]POD[/url]

[u]Experimental narratives:[/u]
A Guide to First Contact (post apocalyptic SF) [url="http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/a-guide-to-first-contact/18675301"]POD[/url], [url="http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/a-guide-to-first-contact/7614126"]POD+[/url] [url="http://www.lulu.com/content/hardcover-book/a-guide-to-first-contact/7946446"]POD++[/url], [url="https://kdp.amazon.com/amazon-dp-action/uk/dualbookshelf.marketplacelink/B00EUI42U2"]Kindle[/url]
Brant (fantasy) [url="http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/brant/16212129"]POD[/url]
Ice Made (short stories) [url="http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/ice-made-and-other-stories/9139351"]POD[/url]

[b]# Recommended[/b]


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Writing Groups: Irwell Writers

Posted by Terence Park , 03 May 2017 · 177 views

Part way through a writing group session (Irwell Writers: meet every Tuesday 10 am till noon at The Mosses, Bury) and we were reading from our works. Theme: fairy stories.
My offering: [url="http://tparchie.deviantart.com/art/The-Faerie-Tree-678510694"]The Faerie Tree[/url], was cheekily taken from a work begun in 2013 (and never completed). In principle we are supposed to write to the theme, in the week, it's like homework you see, to suit the retired teachers in the group. gosh!:

I'm a disruptive influence and I rarely write 'to theme'. Fancy a villanelle? How about pontoon? or is it pantoum? I gave up doggerel many years back; who wants a spreadsheet given form bloating their back-catalogue? Anyway at least we weren't aping poetic formulae. Formulaic nonsense.
Back to fairy stories. I normally do realistic SF; the kind of stuff that JG Ballard and John Wyndham used to do, however I've read my fair share of fantasy ranging from Lord Dunsany, Lovecraft, William Hope Hodgson and Robert Howard through to Tolkien, Avram Davidson, Andre Norton, CJ Cherryh and many, many others... plus of course folk tales; esp. Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, and let's not overlook CS Lewis's Narnia. The Tolkien effect resulted in many twee imitations. Aristotle's Poetics dwells on imitation but his point was aping real life, not a novel, but that's the publishing world for you.
Consider the above a peek into where The Faerie Tree is coming from.
Back to [i]The Faerie Tree...[/i]this Tuesday (01/05/17) I had a couple of sketches from 2013. They point to a slightly more mature approach (no cuss words, no explicit action) but plenty of hints. Of course what I had wasn't enough so to give it a little pizzazz, I added a further couple of hundred words. As the time approached for me to read my piece, I realised, to my horror, my latest addition "the pizzazz" was mislaid.
The full piece will come to... probably 5,000 words.


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Xeno-Archaeology

Posted by Terence Park , 28 April 2017 · 107 views
Xeno-Archaeology, Science Fiction and 3 more...
Xeno-Archaeology [b]Xeno-archaeology[/b]: the study of strange ancients.

Explanation: a future science that deals with the past. The [i]study[/i] part of it has a logical framework: i.e. it can be undertaken on dead planets or on places still capable of sustaining life. Either of these has intriguing possibilities. For [i]strange ancients[/i], read aliens. Xeno-archaeology is a big part of [i]The Tau Device[/i].

Take a dead planet: If it's got signs of former habitation, why is it dead? Are there other, similar dead planets in the interstellar vicinity? What if they died out at approximately the same time period... would that suggest a pattern of events... even a cause?

If you go back in Earth's history, dead civilisations die for a reason - usually they were pushed. There are dead regions on the Earth's surface. The Mongols wrecked irrigation works in Central Asia that had been in place for thousands of years; as a result of internecine Muslim strife in the 11th Cenury, much farmland in North Africa became desert (check out the [url="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banu_Hilal"]Banu Hilal[/url]).

Live planets present their own problems. The living take precedence over the dead; you just crushed your arch-enemy, do you keep reminders... trophies? Even if you did, over time they lose significance; day-to-day life takes priority. Reminders of the past become folk tales, myths and legends or are obliterated from memory. Land gets dug up, reused — at least on an airless world, everything is pretty much as it was when Armageddon came.

In the larger scheme of things, humans haven't been around long. Space is vast with the possibility of lots of extinct civilisations over billions of years. There'll be more things than just human agency to wipe out life and destroy planets: exploding suns, collisions, interspecies struggles... plus any other observations a budding xeno-archaeologist can come up with. If she (or he) is lucky, she comes across an artefact that has somehow survived over millions of years.

Jih Liasse, xeno-archaeologist in [i]The Tau Device[/i], is an alien; she doesn't know Earth's history and so doesn't know we've made parts of our planet unfit for habitation. However she gets the principle. Civilisations have competition, the struggle to survive is life or death. Xeno-archaeologists can assume that what is examined is long dead... nothing can come from it. This turns out to be not quite the case in[i] [url="https://www.amazon.com/Tau-Device-Terence-Park-ebook/dp/B01CC3X9L4"]The Tau Device[/url].[/i] In space, nothing is as it seems.

Terence

23/01/2017

Taken from my site: [url="https://thetaudevice.wordpress.com/"]The Tau Device[/url]


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CWG 2015 anthology imminent

Posted by Terence Park , 28 April 2017 · 131 views
My Telegraph, Anthology and 3 more...
CWG 2015 anthology imminent Just finished assembling the long delayed [i][color=#800000]36 Short Stories 2015[/color][/i]. This is an anthology taken from winners and runners up in the CWG Monthly Short Story competition. Their regular publisher wasn't available so I volunteered.
Contributors to this anthology have stuck with their My Telegraph handles, these being: AmericanMum, Araminta, Atiller, Capucin, Chester_Goode, Danthemann, ExpatAngie, FizzeeRascal, Gazoopi, Giselle, Lostinwords, PavlovaQueen, Ponsuda, Seadams and TurkishJenny.
It's on A5 / 284pp / 70k words.

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Next on the horizon: CWG 2016

TP 28/04/2015


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Via Mobile

Posted by Terence Park , 28 April 2017 · 93 views

28/04/17

Using ACQ via mobile sucks.
Gonna stick to PC


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My Telegraph (obit)

Posted by Terence Park , 01 September 2016 · 337 views
Writing Groups, My Telegraph and 1 more...
[sharedmedia=core:attachments:10083]
My Telegraph was a blogging and commenting platform hosted on the Daily Telegraph servers (the DT is a national UK paper published daily). It was a free service with an interface that used aspects of Wordpress and Disqus and was provided as is. There were some 20,000 + registered usernames. Many of these participated in the user groups and back in 2010 with my first draft to my first novel handy, I was ready to engage. I headed straight for Creative Writing. It quickly became apparent that the group was headed for oblivion — it's members needed organising so I re-jigged its competition. In 2012, the DT began promoting a new group, the Short Story Club. We had no idea what would happen when it was introduced — how it would run and whether it would replace Creative Writing... in the end, with the inputs of author [url="http://www.louisedoughty.com/"]Louise Doughty[/url], it became a success. There was a back story, however. The DT promoted this new group but the landing page was hard to navigate and there was no supporting infrastructure, this left those wishing to take part not knowing what to do —and there were thousands of them. For several months it was chaos —hundreds of joiners each week, many of whom leaked over to the Creative Writers Group —we helped where we could —some stayed. It took a while to sort things out.

[center]*[/center]
Late on in 2015, the Daily Telegraph began changing its main site. Commenting disappeared from some articles. By Easter 2016, virtually all of DT had moved to a new look and feel. The blogging platform, My Telegraph, remained untouched. It was legacy and obviously low priority, a system ready for the chop. This was a hidden community that could have been much more user groups such as Rugby, Finance, Book Club, Job and Careers, Expat, Corduroy Mansions, The Archers Messageboard, Politics,Travel, Technology... there was much potential but these groups just withered for lack of attention. The DT didn't respond to questions about the future of the platform. Users speculated and began to make plans. It was only a matter of time before the plug was pulled, which happened June 2016. Usernames, blogs, groups and platform all disappeared, lost in the final dark of: no servers, no data. History. Ah yes, I forgot History. The link is of course dead.

[center]*[/center]
As a social site, users were prone to petty acts of spite – they had vendettas and ganged up on each other. Doubtless this helped convince DT of the wisdom of closing it. The community became a net diaspora and survives on Facebook and WordPress. There is a closed group at [url="https://www.facebook.com/groups/512280382310342/"]https://www.facebook.com/groups/512280382310342/[/url] and several WordPress presences.

For old time’s sake, here’s a memory:

[center]
[img]https://tparchie.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/my-telegraph.gif?w=640[/img]
*[/center]
More info on [url="https://tparchie.wordpress.com/2016/04/02/the-new-telegraph/"]DT's My Telegraph[/url].


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Creative Writers on My Telegraph - A Reflection

Posted by Terence Park , 11 April 2016 · 263 views
The Daily Telegraph, My Telegraph and 2 more...
It's time for a bit of reflection.
When I first joined [url="http://my.telegraph.co.uk/"]My Telegraph[/url] - the blogging platform of [url="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/"]The Daily Telegraph[/url] (DT) - back in 2008, it was with a view to planning ahead for the impending decline of MySpace. I blogged there - not chatty stuff - just a place to keep online lists and notes... hobby stuff of no interest to anyone but me. The implosion of MySpace was dramatic, resulting in random cuts to functionality. The interface was moving the same way as Facebook - stream of consciousness on a page. As a result of this, nothing stayed fixed in one place. I spent more time flicking through pages and pages of the MySpace interface to find stuff, and less actually posting. It didn't do the job as it couldn't be organised — it got so bad that my first blog posts on My Telegraph were only done as waypoint links to my MySpace junk. I'd already trialled Wordpress and rejected.
By 2009 I began to migrate my bloggingactivities to My Telegraph. It looked a safer bet. It was a different proposition with a sometimes frustrating Wordpress-Disqus interface — early on I muddled through without success (comments but no blog - who remembers that?). Eventually Kate Day - then site admin - helped sort out the initial mess-up in my access rights — blogging is a by-product but when all is said and done, it has to actually work.
Late 2009 I had written a [url="http://aguidetofirstcontact.wordpress.com/"]60,000 word draft[/url] (SF). My Telegraph had [url="http://my.telegraph.co.uk/groups/"]Groups[/url] and I noticed that the [url="http://my.telegraph.co.uk/groups/creative-writing/"]Creative Writers Group[/url] (CWG) had run into an impasse - they wanted a writing competition but no one wanted to run it. In February 2010 I offered. Early 2012 I stepped back. The DT had a voting widget (via Nick Petrie) in the offing and, even though the competition was much bigger with the spill-over from the [url="http://my.telegraph.co.uk/groups/the-short-story-club/"]Short Story Club[/url], it was time for others to take the helm. There was no reason it wouldn't survive. I'd provided a template that worked and still works.
One reason for running CWG was to get feedback on my writing. It seemed a reasonable quid pro quo. If that seems nakedly instrumental - that's a direct legacy of growing up on nasty, back-street estates, Up North.
RL makes its demands and I can well understand the business imperatives driving DT - or is it now NewT? The New Telegraph is change - it no longer allows comments on articles - it's possible for members to pitch into the morass of DT's Facebook presence but that doesn't commend itself to reasoned debate. More problematical is that the commenting system was, and still is used by the My Telegraph. It's fundamental to how the blogging platform works... but a reading of the runes suggests that virtually all support has been pulled away - spammers are breaking the groups, it's only a matter of time before fake blogger ids, spewing out the trash of the net, make the platform unusable. It doesn't take a great leap of the imagination to conclude that license / support contracts for My Telegraph are being allowed to lapse and the logical conclusion is that My Telegraph will be left to die. My DT contacts aren't replying. They'll be caught up in other, new things, breaking any connection they might have had. The immediacy of the here and now breaks the connection to history. It's possible that that place will remain relatively stable for some time. I will be taking the precaution of checking my blog posts for stuff I would rather not lose. Maybe I'll migrate. I have other blogs - in this place for one. It'll be a shame in a way. In another time and place that would call for a flashy graphic proclaiming:
[size=6][color=#00ff00]Mi[/color]gr[color=#0000ff]a[/color]tion C[color=#ffff00]ri[/color]si[color=#ff6600]s[/color][/size]
The spirit of that place can be migrated elsewhere but not the asymmetric functionality. I've said my piece elswehere ([url="http://my.telegraph.co.uk/bleda/bleda/3281/a-final-call/"]Bleda[/url] and[url="http://my.telegraph.co.uk/gazoopi2/?p=1992"]Gazoopi[/url]) That's a topic for more active members.
The body lies still but the spirit lives on.


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Burnley

Posted by Terence Park , 11 April 2016 · 208 views
Burnley, Grammar Schools and 3 more...
I ought to mention my book: [url="https://burnleythebrun.wordpress.com/"]Burnley[/url] which gives the history of the town and an account of Burnley Grammar School in the years before it closed. Much of this account is taken from copies of the school yearbook, [i]The Brun[/i], which I have kept over the years. The school was over 400 years old when it was finally closed and as a result, I have delved into the history of the town, uncovering some little known facts in the process.
The technical side of reproducing the images was challenging. I am grateful for the interest shown in this project and, in particular, for the support of the [url="http://www.burnleyexpress.net/"]Burnley Express[/url].
This book is only available via [url="http://www.lulu.com/content/16212141"]POD[/url]

Published February 2015
ISBN 978-1-326-17903-8

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The Tau Device reached first draft

Posted by Terence Park , 10 December 2015 · 213 views
SF, Robert E Howard, Juvaini and 4 more...
The Tau Device reached first draft [i]The Tau Device[/i] reached first draft. That's a month back. Soon it'll be edited. I've hired Stephen Cashmore of [url="http://www.sfep.org.uk/"]SfEP[/url] (that's the Society for Editors and Proofreaders) who I've used before. 82,000 words. In real pages that comes to around 250. What's a real page? Conan the Conqueror: 44 lines per page, 200 pp.
Conan, a real hero - a man's man, from an age when men were real men and the women were... well pretty scary as well. When I first read Howard's Conan, I never realised that he only wrote the one novel - The Hour of the Dragon - which became [i][font=times new roman][size=4]Conan the Conqueror. [/i]At that time, L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter were busy reviving him in the US, and we in the UK got the backwash. The edition below appeared in the UK in 1974, 7 years after the US edition and 4 years after Marvel began a comic book serialisation with the great Barry Smith.
Lin Carter and L. Sprague de camp began a Conan industry which spawned many adventures that could have been written by Howard if he'd lived to be something like 70 (just jokin' - 69½). For a while I collected them but the industry of imitation lacked authenticity. Howard's work however - now that took me down strange by-ways. It was clear from his attention to detail in putting together his Hyborian Age that he had quite a good grasp of history. Many years later, as I studied texts dealing with historical events in Central Asia, Turks & Persians I was struck by similarities with Turan & Hyrkania. Things like that gave his work an air of authenticity. Of course Howard's Hyborian Age ended when the Hyrkanians, who were steppe dwellers, marched west to conquer or destroy - about 12,000 fictional years back.
Conan the Conqueror - Sphere edition, UK - 30p
[url="https://tparchie.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/conan-the-conqueror.jpg"][img]https://tparchie.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/conan-the-conqueror.jpg[/img][/url]

In the real world, the Turks (also nomad dwellers) crushed the last classical empires and by the middle of the thirteenth century were ready to assault Austria (for which read Vienna) and Venice. At this juncture more important events back east in Karakorum - the death of the Great Kahn Ögedei - meant the Mongol generals retired from Europe, taking their Turkic vassals with them. They'd mostly completed their task: the subjugation of those nomads who refused to join the Turco-Mongol hordes.

The entry image is of Terken Khatun, The Mother of Sultan Muhammad, being led captive by the Mongols. It is taken from a very old MS of Rashid-al-Din in the Bibliothèque Nationale. The doings of the Mongols and Turks are covered in Juvaini's contemporaneous account: [i]The History of the World-Conqueror[/i] (translated by John Andrew Boyle for Harvard University Press / © 1958 by Manchester University Press)

Back to Conan the Conqueror/ The Hour of the Dragon. About 70k words long. Must have taken some work in the days before computers, writing software and online research.
Within 24 hours of finishing [i]The Tau Device[/i], I got writing withdrawal symptoms. Some things don't change.


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Influences and Inspirations

Posted by Terence Park , 21 December 2014 · 305 views
Jack Kirby and 5 more...
Influences and Inspirations [b]Influences and Inspirations[/b] by [url="http://connect.lulu.com/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/39352"]TerencePark[/url] on 12-20-2014 12:29

Influences. Mine began in comic books; American comic books, from the Silver Age. I was there when Jack Kirby's Fourth World came out and what an impact it had on me.

American comic books of the 60's sold in their millions. Well some of them did. The biggest in terms of circulation was Superman. The comic was widely distributed and could sell up to 1 million copies each issue. In practise it sold between 70% and 80% of that figure. A common theme that irritated more sophisticated comic book buyers was: DC would run a story with life-changing consequences that under the rules of continuity, ought to be evident in future issues. But this didn’t happen; characters were reset at the start of each new issue.
The main rival to DC was Marvel. it had a strong line of heroes. They sold well, each ranking up sales between 200k and 400k per month. Unlike DC, they were every month - many DC titles were bi-monthly, or came out, at best, 8 times per year. Supes was the big DC star. At that time he was in [i]Superman, Action Comics, World's Finest Comics, Justice League of America, Superman's girlfriend - Lois Lane, Superman's pal - Jimmy Olsen[/i].
Oh, bring those memories back. The big problem for the Superman family was that they fared less well, subsisting on circulations of 150k - which at that time was a trigger for cancellation. They were ripe for change. DC knew this but its culture was somnolent. It needed shock treatment to stay on terms with Marvel.

The star in Marvel's armoury was the late, great, Jack King Kirby (born Jacob Kurtzberg). He worked on titles like [i]The Mighty Thor, The Fantastic Four, Captain America, Sgt Fury's Howling Commandos[/i], and had been instrumental in bringing to life outstanding comic book characters such as Galactus and the Silver Surfer.
Kirby had great vision and was an absolute art monster. He regularly did 3 + comic books per month. that was 60 + pages of art work. Many struggled to put in a full shift of 20.

In 1970, Jack dropped a bombshell onto Stan (the Man) Lee. He was leaving. it wasn't as if Stan didn't know this was coming. Kirby had been taken for granted and Marvel weren't going to change. They had DC on its knees. Marvel comics had heroes with real life problems - a new thing at time, as under the Comics Code Authority, comics had reverted to simplistic pre-teen content, which defined DC. Marvel had found a formula that didn’t cross the Authority and yet appealed to older audiences. DC managed mouldering properties. Superman had a whole family to support - but suddenly, Jack Kirby was available. He had worked at DC in years past - on stuff such as [i]Newsboy Legion, Manhunter, the Sandman[/i].... There were no other real opportunities in the field for Jack - Charlton wouldn’t publish its one bi-monthly superhero title -[i]E-Man[/i] - until 1973, Archie comics didn't do superheroes, Dark Horse, Image and other imprints were yet to be formed;[i]Creepy[/i] and [i]Eerie[/i] (the Horror market) wasn't where Jack was coming from and besides they were only b&w.

Jack went to DC. He was full of ideas.
The comics blazed out the news:
[b]KIRBY IS HERE[/b]
Marvel ran a monthly Bullpen Bulletin Board in most of their comics. it was the biggest news in comics industry but they said nothing. Jack's output was prodigious and regular pencillers had to be found to replace him. There are various accounts of the inner workings of Marvel’s Bullpen - here isn’t the place for that.

Jack brought his Fourth World Saga with him. This was an interlinked tale
[b]AN EPIC FOR OUR TIMES[/b]
of good and evil. New Genesis v Apokolips. It ran in three comic books: [i]The New Gods, The Forever People and Mister Miracle[/i]. These ran side by side, along with a re-envisioned pal of Supes - Jimmy Olsen, who got a bunch of side-kicks - the Newsboy Legion. [i]Kirby (& Joe Simon) created the original Newsboy Legion which was based on the child-labour used by the respective newspapers of Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst at the start of the Twentieth Century. These weren’t employees but rather purchased the papers from the publishers and sold them as independent agents. Yep. Child-labour. New York then.[/i]
DC were protective of the Superman look. Change meant threat and DC baulked at Jack's envisioning of Superman. He drew Supes' face, they redrew it. Jack's art style was dynamic. House artists were static. Jack's Superman looked muscular. If DC's house artists were told to bring Jack's Superman into line - well that's what they did. Re-booting heroes was - well done with care. The debates surrounding owner-creator v hired-hand were still to come.

Change brought opportunities. The insignia; for a long time, a double circle enclosing the letters DC in the top left hand corner, was revamped. For Jack Kirby’s series, the circle grew and now contained a bullet image of the main character(s) in the comic.

Below are the covers from the respective first issues of his Fourth World. Beyond tweaking for ‘color-cast’ I have left them as they are. I could clean up these images - but why? They have character as they are...

[b]The New Gods[/b]
Main character: Orion of the New Gods
Earth name: O’Ryan
[img]http://my.telegraph.co.uk/archietp/files/2014/10/New-Gods-203x300.gif[/img]
New Gods #1
Read: Orion Fights for Earth

[b]Mister Miracle[/b]
Main character: Scot Free of New Genesis. He decides to become an escape artist - this is both metaphor for his escape from Apokolips and for sublimation of hope into cynicism in attempts to revive an obsolete form of entertainment. In many ways he is diametrically opposed to Orion, who, when the chips are down, resorts to smashing his way out of traps.
[img]http://my.telegraph.co.uk/archietp/files/2014/10/Mister-Miracle-202x300.gif[/img]
Mister-Miracle #1 cover
No Trap can Hold Him

[b]The Forever People[/b]
The genesis of this group is quite interesting. Jack was often disturbed by groups of motorbike enthusiasts, tearing up and down the road that his California hangout overlooked. Enthusiasts? Fiends? it depends on which side of the peace and quiet debate you lie. They irritated the life out of him- and became the inspiration for his Forever People
[url="http://my.telegraph.co.uk/archietp/files/2014/10/The-Forever-People-201x300.gif"]http://my.telegraph.co.uk/archietp/files/2014/10/The-Forever-People-201x300.gif[/url]
The-Forever-People #1 cover
Big Bonus Beautiful Dreamer

and from page 10 of The New Gods: [b]Apokolips[/b]
Ruled by the enemy of life, Darkseid. Simple but great visuals.
[url="http://my.telegraph.co.uk/archietp/files/2014/10/Apokolips-206x300.gif"]http://my.telegraph.co.uk/archietp/files/2014/10/Apokolips-206x300.gif[/url]

(if you've lived in some neighborhoods, this might look pretty familiar!)
Was it good? How can you ask? Re-reading these is a visual feast.
Final thought. Just look at that blurb.


I like grand themes but I prefer them realistic. My work is probably closer to [i]The Road [/i]than Kirby's [i]Fourth World [/i]content-wise.

Originally published October 24, 2014 on my [url="http://my.telegraph.co.uk/archietp/archie_tp/16010506/american-comic-books-jack-kirbys-fourth-world/"]Daily Telegraph blog[/url].