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THE DRAGON FACTORY By Jonathan Maberry – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 14, 2012 by stanleyriiks

When a colleague asked me what I was reading I had to describe this book as an action-thriller with SF overtones. But that’s like describing the Boeing A380 as a big plane. It barely scratches the surface of this taut sci-fi action thriller.

The DMS (Department of Military Sciences) is the secretist secret government agency there is, and the Vice-President of the United States is tricked into trying to close it down in the belief that the head of the DMS is blackmailing the President (who is currently enduring heart-bypass surgery, leaving the VP in charge). Homeland Security are raiding DMS headquarters across the country and picking up agents.

Joe Ledger, former cop, and DMS agent, is at the grave of his former girlfriend when the agents turn up to collect him. But Joe doesn’t plan on going quietly.

The Jakoby twins are rich and powerful geneticists, turning nature on its head to create their rich customers unique pets, ultimate soldiers and legendary creatures (unicorn, dragons, etc) to hunt.

Cyrus Jakoby, the twins’ father, is also working on a large-scale project. A secretive scheme behind the twins’ backs, adapting existing diseases and blights for use in his Extinction Wave that will wipe out seven eighths of the world’s population. Everything is in place, the one hundred hour clock begins its countdown. Is it too late for anyone to stop it?

This book is just so much fun! Ledger is a broken hero, insightfully fragmented in his reality, in love with his colleague and running hell for leather from crisis to crisis in his attempts to find out what’s going on and stop the murder of several billion people.

The action is intense, half way through the book the climax begins to build with wave after wave of attacks against larger and nastier opponents.

The science is used incredibly well. Maberry makes you believe this could happen.

His first book Patient Zero was a rip-roaring zombie-fest with a brilliant science-based twist that made you believe, and was massively readable, edge of the seat stuff, that I thought would be difficult to follow-up. But Maberry has done us proud, creating another SF-twisted reality that’s equally (and scarily) plausible.

Brilliant devised, intelligently written. A book that you sweeps you up in its evil and twisted reality.

Zombies… Pressure/Opportunity…

Posted in Life..., Morpheus Tales Magazine, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2011 by stanleyriiks

I was recently asked to contribute to an anthology of original dark fiction. Great, you may say, but then I found out who else was going to be in this book. The list was hideously. It sent cold shivers down my spine and made me feel a little nauseous. Two of my favourite writers were on that list, and the rest were pretty damn good too.

Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy writing and when things are going well I feel like I belong up there with Stephen King and Clive Barker. But when things are not going so well, I fear anyone will read the dross I come out with.

Massive opportunity. Massive amount of pressure.

I waited for inspiration to strike, I waited and waited as the deadline loomed closer. Slowly but surely the deadline crept up on me and inspiration failed.

Having been a bit rusty in the fiction-writing department, I had thrown out a couple of stories for practice and to try to get a bit of a rhythm going. Managed to knock together a couple of zombie stories, one, at 60,000 words, the longest  I’d written in years.  Editing that down to the 10,000 maximum was too daunting a task, so I thought I’d adapt an old idea I’d had lurking around for a little while.

A futuristic warrior lands on a zombie infested-planet…

The basic concept needed sorting out into a plot with characters…

With the deadline ever closer I had no choice but to start writing, my brain had no more time to let ideas percolate. If things worked out marvellous, if they didn’t… Well, I didn’t want to think about that!

The story was written, twelve thousand words later, weeks worth of writing and I was done. But the story hadn’t turned out how I’d wanted it to. The editing job it needed would be enormous. I could certainly polish it up into something respectable, but editing isn’t exactly my idea of fun and it would take a lot of work.

With the deadline just around the corner I had a decision to make, and virtually no time to make it.

A personal post-apocalyptic tale I had written before I knew about the book had turned out pretty well, I was happy with it, as happy as us sensitive creative types can be that is.  I put it forward to the editor, on the deadline. He snapped my hand off, gave me a nod of affirmation and later emailed me confirmation that the story would be included.

Now I sit and wait, hunched up and trembling with a mixture of excitement, anticipation and fear…

SERIAL KILLERS INCORPORATED by ANDY REMIC – Prologue

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2011 by stanleyriiks

This book is dedicated to

th3 m1ss1ng

with love and funky vibes, bruvs.

 

PROLOGUE

HEAVEN S(C)ENT

 

SLOWLY, I OPEN the skinning razor, marvelling at the craftsmanship of this delicate yet lethal antique blade. I smile. This is my brother, my soulmate, my working tool without which I cannot perform. Without which, indeed, I have no function. No purpose.

I place the shining crescent against reptilian flesh. I press to cut, to slice, my breath rising in pace with anticipation, but back away at the last moment.

No. Not yet. It’s not yet time.

I breathe deep, a low long hiss like a snake. I savour the moment, the long soothing ride like the instant before ejaculation when you hang in the balance, careering out of control, feeling barely human and feeling more alive than alive.

If only you people knew; if only you understood. But you’re mis–programmed, un–encoded, deviated and twisted from a perceived normality you no longer appreciate. Yeah. Fucking deviated. That’s right.

Now… to work.

There is one I must find. He’s out there, in the real world. In your real world, at least.

He is one of you. One of your… breed.

And his name?

His name is Callaghan.

 

I have three addictions in life. Whisky, adrenalin and sex.

Whisky is what kills bad memories. Adrenalin – well, I’ve always had a love of fast cars, killer bikes and snowboarding. And sex? Hell, sex is the evil that always kick–starts my pain.

And that’s why I’m here, standing on the eighteenth floor balcony of Glasgow’s Riviera 5–Star, staring down at the Clyde with my balls cupped protectively in both hands as the cold does its best to turn me into a corpse. I’m naked. Shit. That’s not good.

Let me introduce myself.

My name’s Callaghan, I’m a hard drinking, womanising, no good son–of–a–bitch. I live for today, take any designer drug in the world, fuck anything that moves and steal anything that doesn’t… and to hell with consequences! Baby, I’m the man who put head into hedonism. Sex into sexuality. The cunt into cuntinental. And… as I stand here, skin tinged blue, Glasgow lights fluttering like pearls scattered over velvet, the wind shrieks a surreal mocking laugh at my dangerous predicament in a rhythmical wail. A song for the condemned. Yeah. That’s me. Condemned.

I glance down at my own trembling, worthless carcass; can idly observe the wind has turned my fingers rigid, skin a network of disintegrating lace. My feet sit splayed on a plate of cracked ice and I’m vibrating so hard it hurts. I think my teeth will judder from my stupid, jack–hammer skull.

I squint miserably as short terriers of snow snap my face. I grimace, coughing ice–air, and wonder how long I’m going to have to wait, freezing, dying, and eventually I hear a noise inside the apartment and my thoughts drift back to Him. And Her.

Him. Vladimir. The bastard.

I half turn, scowl at the balcony doors with their delicate wooden shutters which, despite opulent triple–glazing, fail to muffle the sounds of grunting as Vlad mounts and ravages his beautiful wife. Only a few moments ago it was I – yes I – who brought her moaning and screaming and thrashing to a bed–thumping skin–tearing head–pounding teeth–grinding arching sweating heaving multiple fucking climax.

I try to close my ears to her mocking echoes of pleasure.

She better be faking it, I think sourly. But I know she isn’t.

‘That son of a bitch.

I press iced fingers over my flapping mouth in horror as staccato words leap unbidden from twitching lips. What are you doing? I scream silently at myself, an internal mockery. The brainless, contemptuous of the insane. Do you want to get caught? And of course I don’t, because as much as I like fucking Vladimir’s wife, and as much as she thoroughly enjoys being fucked by me, and yes, much as I hate Vladimir with a venom more deadly than any rattlesnake… well, I have to admit it, Vladimir Katchevsky, former Bucharest gang–lord running guns between Romania, the UK and the Middle East in a cleverly constructed triangulation of players, contraband and excessive finance, is one superbly evil and dangerous bastard of a bastard. Carrying twin Techrim 11mm pistols he’s killed thirty–four people to date. Thirty four that I know about… dangerous information – of which I’d rather be ignorant – and obtained through intimate drunken bedside chit–chat with the pretty and prettily voluptuous Sophie. Ahh Sophie! She of the velvet hair, opal eyes and wide, generous (yeah, very generous) mouth.

‘Shit, shit, shit,’ I mutter as I move to the balcony rail, burnished steel supporting square panels of toughened glass. The view below is sweeping, grand, a dark pastel vista stuttering beneath huge folding blankets of snow that whip first one way, then the other.

I lean against the rail, and it’s so cold it almost strips the skin from my fingers. I yelp and suck digits, injecting warmth. The muscles in my jaw tighten in anger. I glance back at the closed doors and the heat and love and sex – and death – within.

I am tempted to try and sneak through the room. Then I remember the 11mm Techrims.

Options? Well, arse–hole, in about three minutes you’re gonna freeze to death. Try and head through the hotel room and Vlad will beat you senseless – and, if you’re lucky – fill you full of 11mm rounds. But if you’re unlucky…

I shiver. I’d heard the stories.

So then. Avenues of insanity? Despite jumping, the only other option available to my skinny naked rump is to climb down.

The wind slaps me like an irate lover.

Savages me. Beats me. Rapes me.

Bare feet pad across marble and I glance down again, wishing this was all a bad dream and praying the horror would go away. I grit my teeth, try to be brave (but it’s hard, so hard!), grasp cold metal and lift my face to inhale fresh bright snow. I blink away tears and cock my leg over the steel bar, trying my best not to drag dangling vulnerable balls against liquid nitrogen. I wobble and shake for a few seconds, and my other leg manages the treacherous traverse.

And there’s me, stood on the bastard side of oblivion. I say to myself don’t look down, don’t look down because I know it’s the thing you’re supposed to say. But I look down anyway and whimper like a little girl as I realise, shit, I can’t do this. I just can’t do it. But I have to. I must. Or I’ll die.

I shuffle along the ledge. It feels like a 2mm concrete strip under fat stupid tip–toes. But hey, it’s 2mm I’m thankful for. Better 2mm than 11mm, right? I try to lick my lips but cracked skin brings an agony of burning.

Inside the hotel room Sophie wails a long, ululating song of pleasure. Yet more rhythmical thumping ensues.

Around me, the snowfall increases in density. Cold settles across my shoulders like a vellum shroud. My foot slips, toe–nails rasping harsh on concrete and sending sparks of pain igniting my shin. I struggle like a rape–victim, find my footing and grin like a masturbating baboon. Flurries of snow pulse across the sky, obscuring most of city. I’ve always loved Glasgow, but I never wanted to die there.

I slide my hands down the frozen rails and meticulously adopt a squatting position – like a Tibetan monk taking a shit over The Abyss. I fight my stubborn frozen knees onto the ledge and my penis, despite being horrifically retracted to resemble a limp worm in the snow–light, slaps painfully against a glass panel.

Yeah, thanks God,’ I mutter, tears freezing to my cheeks. I try so hard not to feel bitterness. I fail. ‘Thanks a shit–load, dickhead. Perhaps you’d like to make my life even harder, eh?’

I attempt to peer below me, below the balcony to which I cling. But the world is a shadow, zig–zagged with snow. I perform a strange backward shuffle, feel a momentary weightlessness as knees slide uncontrollably over the icy ridge and I emit a comedy squawk, funny to everyone except me, and then proceed to hang there, dangling, biceps and shoulders straining, rocked and buffeted by a merciless storm.

Fear is a fist of lead in my mouth. The balcony crushes my forearms and I feel numbed fingers sliding. My chin touches the balcony lip and I hang for a few moments, eyes at floor level, able at last to witness the luxury bedroom so recently vacated. I can see naked feet. Vladimir’s feet. They are joined by smaller feet, beautiful feet, Sophie’s feet. Feet which have lovingly caressed me, pampered me, stroked me towards moaning, groaning, beautiful ejaculation. Shit. And there they are: perfect, sculpted, the last damn thing I’ll see before I –

die.

I blink. I kick my legs, but hey guess what, it’s not my lucky day and whaddya know? I can’t reach the fucking lower balcony. I just cannot believe this, cannot digest this damn basic bad luck. I kick around aimlessly for a while, thrashing like a hang–victim, just knowing I have to reach the lower balcony because there’s no way I can climb back up and nowhere else to go. Except maybe down. By the quickest and most direct route. Yeah. As the Cal flies, so to speak.

This chills me. Chills me more, anyway.

I stop kicking and hang limp, a butchered carcass in the slaughter house.

I hear Sophie’s laughter, a ghost–wail sent to taunt me, haunt me, and make mockery of my foolish bloody existence.

I look up, snow settling on my skin and making eyelashes flutter.

What did I do to deserve this, God? What? What? What? But I know the answer to that very bitter question. It’s a simple one. And the answer is: everything.

I’m an absolute bastard.

That’s the simple honest truth.

I admit it openly to myself and I nod (or would had done, if my chin wasn’t bearing my bodyweight). I fuck anything that moves. I drink myself stupid. I take any drug on offer – and hey, don’t I just enjoy that social kudos? I treat my friends and family like shit. In fact, worse than shit, because I don’t even pause to scrape my sole after a good stomping.

I abuse my money, my power, my job, and I (whisper it in horror) defraud the tax man. I am a perfection of narcissism. A child of capitalism. A whore of the contemporary world. But listen, man, I’m just the way the world made me, right? A product: of social deviation, mental deprivation, and psychological masturbation. Everyone’s fucking doing it. So that makes it OK. That makes it sane.

‘Cal?’ The voice belongs to Sophie and I snap out of my dying reverie. I remember the pain in my arms. And bizarrely, I feel suddenly vulnerable with my useless shrunken tackle dangling over the void. My legs swim around a little, as if treading treacle porridge. ‘Callaghan? Where the hell are you?’

‘Down here,’ I growl through a throbbing jaw.

Sophie steps onto the balcony wrapped in a silk gown. Her face registers shock when she is witness to my bungling attempt at non–escape. That look at least gives me a tiny moment of pleasure; seeing her panic. It’s her fault, after all! She damn–well promised me Vlad was out of the country.

Sophie moves forward, hands outstretched to help me climb back up… and I congratulate myself at rescue, thinking, Thank God, yes! Thank you God, I owe you a double whisky! Hey, maybe even a triple! However, The Big Man has his own sordid agenda.

‘Petal, what are you doing out here?’

Sophie alters her rescue trajectory – so that she leans against the rail, turning to smile at her husband. I watch thick–set boots step onto the balcony behind her elegant, smooth legs. I glance up. The boots are all the huge, scarred Romanian is wearing.

‘Just getting some fresh air, my love. You make me so… breathless with your wonderful love–making!’

Vladimir flexes powerful hairy shoulders, takes exaggerated gulping lungfuls of Scottish chill, and laughs a booming laugh from the cavernous cavity of his broad, bullet–pocked chest. ‘Ahh, you behave a little strange tonight, no? Come inside, you will freeze to death out here.’

‘I’m OK, my sweet little Vladdy (I want to be sick!), I just need a moment to regain my composure.’

Yes baby yes! I cheer.

‘Then I will stand out here with you, you crazy, horny, sexual wife creature,’ he nuzzles her, runs a hot tongue down her cheek, ‘and we will both enjoy a refreshing cigarette, no?’ Vladimir disappears to get his smokes.

Oh shit, I groan.

‘I’m going to fall!’ I hiss at Sophie through clenched teeth. ‘Keep the dumb bastard inside!’

Vlad reappears with a packet of Sobranie Blacks, taps one free and manages somehow to light the smoke against the wildness of the storm. I catch a tantalising whiff, and nicotine craving sends me mad. God, what I would give for a smoke right now! A dying man’s last request? You bet. As if we ever get that luxury.

Sophie guides Vlad back inside by taking hold of his cock and  fluttering eyelash promises, and there is a distinctive click as doors shut. My arms are seriously numb and I curse a hedonistic lifestyle promoting muscular weakness as I struggle with slippery metal bars. I kick like crazy as I grunt and push and heave, and by some bastard miracle manage to get my elbows onto the balcony ledge. I take a moment to savour the irony of the situation, and acknowledge my grinding emulation of sex would have made quite a comical sight from below. Jackass? You bet.

Before the sweat can dry on my ice–rimed back I fight my way onto the balcony and hurl myself wearily over the rail to lie, shivering like a clubbed seal on the slick marble. I want to sob. So much pain! Instead, I curl into a foetal position, rock onto my knees, stagger to my feet and press myself against the door.

I’m coming in you bastards, whether you’re watching or not! I realise I have little option. I giggle to myself – in lunacy, and in idiocy. Now I’ll have to face the cobalt eyes of those Techrims. Shit and black death.

Slowly, my cumbersome sausage fingers fumble. I ease the patio door open and slide within accompanied by a gust of winter. But Vlad and Sophie don’t notice because they’re hard at it again, Sophie clawing her husband’s back and drawing blood, both of them wriggling and pounding like feeding thrashing eels in jelly.

I stand, allowing the welcome warmth to flood into iced limbs. It is an orgasm I never expected. I clench my jaw to stop teeth juddering. I totter forward a few steps and halt, shivering, wondering whether I have the time to search for my clothing… then I see the black gleam of a Techrim 11mm pistol on top of the TV and it brings me jarring back to reality. The gun has a terrible, worn look about it. Like it’s been used. A lot.

Despite everything (including stupidity) I don’t want to die.

I make a grab for where I think my clothing might be, then drop to my hands and knees and make for the door. I stand again, see the white oval of Sophie’s face peeking over Vlad’s shoulder. She is staring fixedly at me through the gloom, and suddenly starts to scream and claw in the throes of a covering ecstasy… as I open the door and ease free, closing it on well–oiled hinges.

I breathe… once more.

I stand in the corridor as the enormity of the last thirty minutes club me in the back of the head. Nausea swamps me and for a couple of minutes I lean against the wall, wheezing, debating whether or not to throw up. Then I realise my still highly dangerous location; I pull on DKNY jeans and my Dolce & Gabbana silk shirt with the black lace cuffs. I pat car keys in my pocket and head bare foot down the long corridor –

as the door at the far end opens to disgorge a muscular black–suited individual – could only be one of Vladimir’s bodyguards – bulky and struggling to hide sub–machine gun hardware beneath expensive Italian tailoring. He strides towards me purposefully and I consider urinating.

I keep my head down, mooch past the slab and risk a covert glance back but the man isn’t even looking at me. I’m just some rich drugged arse in jeans and slime heading for the bar. A stoner junkie dickhead worth not even a second glance. Threat? What threat? Not in the face of an Uzi!

I stumble through regulation fire–doors and into the lift; the journey nauseates and I shuffle like an armless leper into the hotel foyer. I locate the toilets and heave the remnants of a sautéed steak into a luxury basin. I spend a few minutes cleaning up, then stare at bloodshot eyes in the mirror. They are somebody else’s. Somebody who’s just crossed No Man’s Land. They stare back at me, accusing; as if to say you fucking idiot lunatic.

I head from the Riviera, pad down sweeping marble steps and locate my yellow Porsche 911 GT3. The blip of the alarm is a welcome friend and I sink into embracing leather, lock the doors – and breathe with release. My hand strokes yellow leather highlights by the handbrake. Ahhh. It’s good to be home, baby.

‘My God, that was close.’

I shiver, and for a while contemplate the concept of mortality.

I locate Malboros and ignite an evil smoke with shaking fingers. I inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. A rhythm of addiction. My head flutters with trapped butterflies. I feel sick again. Not in the fucking Porsche! I fire the motor and pull away, hands locked claws on the steering wheel as I contemplate and relive my close encounter with Mr Death. Then I laugh, a long hard yapping which seems to go on and on and on and has little to do with humour. It’s a brittle laugh. Like glass shattering.

‘Yeah.’ I nod like a nodding dog, and smoke like I’m on fire. ‘At least I got away with it!’

 

Snow dropped on surges of snapping wind and skittered like lace across black tarmac. A Mercedes CLK with tinted windows roared into life. Lights found ignition. Wheels cut economically through the slush as it accelerated discreetly after the dwindling tail–lights of the Porsche 911 GT3… away from the frozen banks of the Clyde and towards the beckoning M8 motorway beyond.

 

The full novel is available as an ebook from www.anarchy-books.com

For more information on the ultra talented Andy Remic  go check out www.andyremic.com

Serial Killers Incorporated PROMO VIDEO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXANP6GMzRQ

A review of Serial Killers Incorperated by Andy Remic will appear in the April Issue of the FREE Morpheus Tales Supplement! www.morpheustales.com

Writing…

Posted in Life..., Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2009 by stanleyriiks

I’m having a hard time writing at the moment. It’s not a lack of ideas, it’s more a lack of passion. I discovered writing when I was in my teens and loved it. I felt compelled to write down my every idea, thought and feeling. I kept a diary, I wrote most days. It wasn’t a choice, it was as natural as waking up, as natural as eating.

I wrote thousands of stories and seven novels, I wrote reviews and articles that appeared in magazine all over the place, but I wasn’t ready to share my fiction. I wanted to keep it for myself. I didn’t edit hardly any of it because I hate editing.

Then one summer, lacking ideas for my latest novel, I decided to edit the ones I had already written. I worked my way through all of them, and then again. Pretty soon I’d been editing for two years, and hadn’t written anything. For me editing takes the passion out of writing, it makes writing lose the magic that makes it special.

I haven’t written anything substantial for several years now. The fire that burned inside me is almost out. I have no lack of imagination, no lack of inspiration, just a lack of sitting my arse down and writing.

Writing now seems like a chore rather than a joy. In fact most things in adulthood seem like a chore. But some chores take priority, like earning money to pay the bills.

I’m not focused on writing like I was before. I have too many other hobbies that take up too much time.

I still write a short story occasionally, although I now have to push myself. When I do a spark of that old fire comes back, the joy returns while I weave my world from words. But I need a kick-start, I need something to push me.

Whilst threatened with redundancy earlier in the year I planned to write a book and to learn a language, at least until I found another job. Fortunately the redundancy didn’t happen, but unfortunately I don’t have the time to spend doing the things I would really like to do.

My latest idea was to get my books proof-read by a professional and start submitting them, but that’s actually fairly expensive if you want it done properly, and trust me, from what I can remember of my last (fourth) edits of my novels, they need to be looked at properly.

So I sit, filling up a blank screen with my moaning instead of writing another story, one I have an idea for. About a private detective who is visited by a beautiful woman who brings with her a box that kills people when it’s opened. Ok, so it’s not that original, but I could do something with it.

May be I would try and see where it takes me…

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