Archive for failure

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…

SCOURGE THE HERETIC By Sandy Mitchell – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 14, 2010 by stanleyriiks

Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting. I’m not often disgusted, very rarely so upset and astounded, but having just finished this book, I have to say I am astonished and disgusted and confused.

You see, this isn’t a book. It’s half a book. Except that nowhere on this book does it say it’s half a book, there is no indication at all anywhere on the cover, or on the pages within, that this is the first of two books. One story.

But is most certainly is.

As I approached the end of the book, I was thinking there wasn’t much room to finish the story. As I read the final few pages I wondered what had happened to half the plot because it clearly wasn’t finished. It was only half way through. Then upon reading the Epilogue the confusion grew as I realised this wasn’t an Epilogue at all, but should more appropriately have been called the Prologue of the next instalment.

I feel tricked. I feel dirty and I feel used. This isn’t clever marketing by Gamesworkshop, although I did buy the second book in this “series”, it’s put me off buying any more of their books.

This is hideously cheeky and just plain wrong. One book, one story. If you want to do a trilogy, a series, or a multi-part set, you put something that identifies the book as such on the fucking cover. I am outraged!

The most annoying thing is that I actually liked this book.

Unlike Ravenor and Eisenhorn, this story of the Inquisition, the ruthless enforcers of the Emperor’s word, follows the Inquisitor Finurbi’s team of investigators as they attempt to track down a highly organised group of heretics who are smuggling psychers off-world, and a group of chaos-worshipers. The investigators have to split up to follow their separate leads, two of them actually about to be smuggled off-world when the book ends.

This isn’t a bad book, it’s nice to see the 40K universe further expanded away from the superhero Space Marines. The characters in the book are much more “normal”, and have the traits and weaknesses modern readers expect. This isn’t quite Eisenhorn, and doesn’t have the powerful action of Dan Abnett’s novels, but it’s still pretty exciting stuff. The book kept me interested enough to order the second book, despite the complete and utterly ineptitude of the marketing department and their failure to realise how much of a gross error they’ve made by not stating that this is book one of two.

Although looking forward to the second book in the series and completing the story I started, this still leaves me with a very sour taste, and I feel manipulated into buying a second book. If I’d have known I probably wouldn’t have bought either of them.

Gamesworkshop rip-off, makes me feel abused and cheated, and outweighs any enjoyment I got from the book. A shame, a sad, desperate and pathetic shame.

THE SNOWBALL: WARREN BUFFETT AND THE BUSINESS OF LIFE By Alice Shroeder – Reviewed

Posted in Life..., Personal Finance, Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 16, 2010 by stanleyriiks

Despite this being an epic book, I expected more.

How can you sum up the Oracle of Omaha? The most successful investor in the history of investing?

For a man over seventy years old, having his life described in a little over 700 pages gives us about a 100 pages per ten years. Even though the first page is so awash with description (of Buffett sitting in his office) that it’s difficult to read, what we don’t get in the full Warren Buffett. We get a version, the tight-fisted, thrifty, intelligent, teacher, who’s more at ease with numbers than he is with human beings, and certainly more comfortable dealing with a class room full of students than he is with his own children. A man obsessed with making money and keeping it. To the point where much of the time his family acted almost, but not quite, as a distraction, and Buffett doesn’t particularly like distractions.

The failure of this book is the lack of detail about some of Buffett’s investments. Probably the most important part of his life, not only for him but also for most of his readers. We get the glamorous stuff, and we also get the dirty stuff, but where’s the detail of the stuff that made him his money?

Most of the information contained in the book can be found on Buffett’s wikipedia entry. The details of his earlier life are interesting, and the milestones he achieved in his early years are quite extraordinary. But I want a map. I want to see what he invested in, at how much and why: I want a description of how he made his billions. I don’t understand how a book so huge and detailed about Buffett’s life but be so bereft of such important details.

For a financial analyst Shroeder doesn’t seem very interested in the money.

This is certainly an interesting book, and Warren’s life as a self-made man certainly holds your attention. But the missing details of his investments, the things that are skipped over, or just not even mentioned, serve to give us only half an image of this great investor.

Buffett is still my hero, with the knowledge gained from this book even more so. We share much in common, he had a paper-round, as did I. Buffett was making money as a child, as did I, once getting in trouble at school for telling my friends toys. Buffett also skirted a bit too close to the law, well, I’m refusing to comment on that! He was also buying shares before he was sixteen. I bought shares in my mother’s name because I was too young to have them in my own. Unfortunately, and I really don’t know what happened (perhaps discovering horror novels), but our paths diverged and I’m not a billionaire.

This is a personal and probably the most detailed of the books on Buffett, and yet it still doesn’t manage to capture the complete man. It does capture most of him, and it’s a moving story, but I almost feel short changed.

Amazing book, and yet still slightly disappointing.