Just 5 more scenes to go and then the first draft of “Evil Eye” will be complete!

I’ve just added another 1300 words to ‘Evil Eye – A Lissa Blackwood Thriller’ this morning. There are now just 5 scenes left to write and the first draft will be complete!

Those 1300 words surprised me – they come at a moment when Lissa Blackwood is trying to work out how to poison the main antagonist, ‘Malocchio’. I knew roughly how the scene was going to work but not exactly how she was going to do it. What I hadn’t expected was for Malocchio to make her the offer of becoming his partner … writing is full of surprises!

Now she has administered the poison all she has to do is warn the governments of Europe that Malocchio’s terror attack is about to begin, make sure he dies and escape – easy?



Disappointed with ‘Annihilation’ on Netflix…

So, I just finished watching the sci-fi movie ‘Annihilation’ on Netflix, and I have to say I was underwhelmed and disappointed.

Annihilation~NetflixA March ’18 review on DigitalSpy ( http://www.digitalspy.com/movies/feature/a852095/netflix-annihilation-explained-ending-spoilers/ ) described it as “… one of the most intellectually challenging films of the year” – I don’t think so.

Here’s a quick summary of the so-called ‘plot’: Female protagnist ‘Lena’ just happens to be ex-Army and a biologist. When her Army husband ‘Kane’ reappears at their house after being missing-in-action for a year, we’re already quickly working out that he is not what he seems, a la ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ and its subsequent derivatives. Lena is kidnapped by ‘the government’ and taken to a base just outside of ‘the Shimmer’ – think a combination of Stephen King’s ‘The Mist’ and ‘Under the Dome’, with a side order of Arkady and Boris Strugatsky’s ‘Roadside Picnic’. Lena eventually enters ‘the Shimmer’ with an all-female team, making for ‘the lighthouse’ where it seems to orginate from – think Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’ with a dose of Daniel Myrick’s 2008 movie ‘The Objective’.

Lena eventually discovers that an alien lifeform crashed into the lighthouse and is now creating some form of field (‘the Shimmer’) that ‘refracts all DNA’ (sigh), essentially creating new plant-animal/animal-plant hybrids (think ‘The Thing’). I won’t spoil the final ending… but it’s not much worth waiting for.

The main problem is that the film is SLOW and an obvious pastiche of many other (better-executed) films and novels. I’m afraid ‘Annihilation’ only gets 3/10 from me…

Online Science Fiction Book Club: Robert Heinlein Society Panel interview, June 2018…

I’m feeling very pleased and honoured to have had one of my questions about the science fiction writer Robert Heinlein answered in a recent panel interview organised by the Online Science Fiction Book Club (https://www.facebook.com/groups/130411676997908/ ).

Heinlein-faceHeinlein is one of my all-time favourite writers with  published work spanning from 1947 to 1987, and posthumously in 2003 and 2006 (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_A._Heinlein and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_A._Heinlein_bibliography for more information) .

A prolific author, he produced some stunningly classic stories like ‘The Puppet Masters’ (novel 1951, and a film from 1994 starring Donald Sutherland, Eric Thal and Julie Warner), “Starship Troopers” (1959, and also that awful film directed by Paul Verhoeven), “Stranger in a Strange Land” (1961), “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” (1966) and “Friday” (1982).

When I read Heinlein’s stories I get feelings about the need for a strong sense of duty and “doing the right thing”, along with the need to take the hard decisions, avoid expediency, sometimes mixed with that magic ’60s sense of sexuality.


I was really pleased by the opportunity to ask the experts on this panel what they think is the major theme running through Heinlein’s writing – this is what they said:

Keith Kato: “Just IMHO, competence and personal responsibility for action.”

Geo Rule: “In addition to Keith’s answer, a definite desire to show you that at least in human relations there are no final victories (you always have to keep refighting battles –like slavery), there are no answers that are always and universally right every time.

“Starship Troopers is followed by Glory Road and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, which show very different views of military service. The libertarian paradise of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is a socialist hell by the time of The Cat Who Walks Through Walls. Slavery has transferred to the stars and must be defeated again in Citizen of the Galaxy. No final victories.

“Also, think for yourself, don’t sign up for gurus. And from the juveniles to everything else, education and continuing education (whether formal or informal) is a key to greater and greater adventures.”

Sense of Duty, Do the Right Thing, Competence, Personal Responsbility, Know Right from Wrong, Think for Yourself, Learn Truthsthat’s a great list of desirable personal attributes that is as relevant today as it was for Heinlein when he was writing.

My thanks to the panel for sharing these insights into the writing themes for this Sci-Fi Grand Master.


Keith G. Kato obtained his Ph.D. in plasma physics at the University of California, Irvine under the direction of SF author Gregory Benford. He is a Charter Member of The Heinlein Society and in 2014 was selected by the Board of Directors as THS’s fourth President. He was fortunate to meet Robert and Ginny Heinlein three times.

Geo Rule has authored, co-authored, or has been an editor on various online articles having to do with the works or history of Robert A. Heinlein. He currently serves as the Vice-President/Secretary to the Society.


Cover shots of Starship Troopers and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress – my own photos of copies owned by me.

Photo of Robert Heinlein by Dd-b, taken at the 1976 World Science Fiction Convention in Kansas City MO USA – Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0 Unported License



“Spectral” – Netflix (2016)…

Just finished watching ‘Spectral’ on Netflix – yep, it’s a 2016 movie that I just got around to watching. That’s actually pretty up to date for me, I’m usually 5-10 years behind!

Spectral - MovieholicHub.comAn ‘OK’ hokum entertainer of pseudo-baffle ‘science’ lashed together with soldier-dudes and plenty of gun play.

Don’t let that mislead you though… as long as you disconnect your intelligence and go along for the ride you’ll find that it’s exciting fun!


More at https://www.netflix.com/gb/title/80098200

“Born with the Dead” – Robert Silverberg, 1974

I’ve just finished re-reading Robert Silverberg’s 1974 novella ‘Born with the Dead’ and loved it all over again…


I first read this story in the early ’80s and it really stuck with me. I’ve probably given away around a thousand books over the past 30 years, including this one. However, Silverberg was my favourite sci-fi author all those years again and I eventually had to get another copy of this one!

At its heart this is a love story. Jorge Klein’s wife has died young and then been “rekindled” and brougt back as one of “the dead”. She is ‘alive’ in her rekindled body but the love they shared has died within her. It seems that the dead have completely different feelings about the world and people around, which they perceive through a lens of almost comic, unattached irony.

Klein chases his rekindled wife, Sybil, around the world, deserate to see her again. She is no longer interested in him though, and his chasing eventually leads her dead friends to kill & rekindle him. The rekindled Klein finds that he is no longer interested in Sybil… his love has not carried over from when he was alive.

A love stories that explore the intersections between Love, Faith and Adversity, and this tale has all three! Great writing from a Grand Master – 10/10.

Evil Eye – A Lissa Blackwood Thriller

Had a lovely afternoon walking with my daughter and spent some time brainstorming a title for my current work in progress… and I’m pleased to say it now has one!

So… drumroll and fanfare please… the name of my next book will be…

Evil Eye – A Lissa Blackwood Thriller


I’m hoping to have the writing finished by Christmas. That will be later than I had originally hoped for but is probably realistic, given everything else that is going on.

Right then… back to the keyboard!

image: “#EB Photo January challenge” by Lee Roberts – from flickr.com (https://www.flickr.com/photos/flintman45/8398943723/   creative commons BY-SA 2.0)

Progress on writing “the BREXIT thriller”…

I really must find a title for my current project, a post-BREXIT espionage Thriller! That’s my goal this weekend… if I achieve nothing else, and I might not in the current UK heatwave, it would be great to get a title together for this story.

WriterHand2Progress has been intermittent on this book. By Christmas I had 36k words down from a target of 120k. The writing was very sluggish in the first quarter of the year and by the end of March I only had 50k words written. The slow pace was mostly due to the effect of being worked hard in my day job (leaving me too tired to write on most days) and looking after an ill member of my family. April and May were better, with 21k words added and today the project stands at 72k words.

One of the benefits of planning the book so thoroughly is that I know I am on the homeward straight: just the climax and resolution to go, with a revised target of 100k words…

So then… headphones on… background tunes playing… manuscript loaded… let the writing begin!