Site of the Week: Librivox

Do you know somebody who has never read a book? Know somebody who would like to read but neither has the time nor the patience? Are you that person? One of the options to nag / encourage that person is to introduce them to audio books. On CD these can be pretty expensive.

Another option is to encourage them to visit a site like Librivox. It is a database of public domain and out of copyright work that you can download for free. The non-reader in your life has no excuse and if they listen to music on the way to work or on their mp3 player throughout the day they can swot up on the classics without costing them a penny. Continue reading

Teenage boys don’t read books

So lamented Radio 4 on Saturday afternoon (I’ve referenced this twice in a week?! Damn I’m started to sound really middle class. I wish my wage packet reflected it!) Personally I’m not surprised but instead of airing my suspicions without consideration, I promptly visited my nearest Waterstone’s just to make sure that I was correct.

In recent years, the young adult market has ballooned in popularity so much so that most book shops now have a dedicated section for the genre. I’m still not comfortable with the idea that books are genred based on an age market but it is an imperfect world. Continue reading

Do video games have good storylines?

Those of us in our thirties who have been playing video games since we were knee high to a grasshopper might have fond memories of our early gaming lives. Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Defender… they were all pretty simple and generally lacked a real storyline. Some did attempt to create the illusion of a plot with a simple background story set out in the game manual. The only games back then which had real plots were text based adventures where the story developed as the player progressed. Some games wanted to create a complete experience within the limits of the technology and text adventures were the best way of doing that.

The really geeky amongst us might remember Driller, the first game to use 3D polygon graphics (then called Freescape). It came with a novelette that gave a complex story of colonisation of another planet followed by environmental disaster. That was a lot of back story to what was effectively a puzzle/platform game about moving around a landscape placing drills and trying to figure out a way through obstacles and avoid the security systems (in terms of style of play it was very similar to Portal). Continue reading

Arc 1.1 – first impressions

On my way to work this morning, I was listening to Radio 4 (as you do) and Simon Ings, the editor of the new magazine Arc was on to discuss the publication. Despite that he did not say anything I hadn’t heard / read before I made a mental note to give it a serious think.

When I got home from work I noticed that my hit rate on this blog for the last few days has been higher than in recent weeks and the Google search terms that brought people here were overwhelmingly about arc 1.1. Encouraged by this I decided to bite the bullet and purchase it. Continue reading

Book Review: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Despite my gushing love for American Gods, Neil Gaiman’s other best known work (and arguably better known because the TV series came before the book) still holds a special place in my heart.

Neverwhere, I think, was the TV series that introduced me to modern urban fantasy. Co-written by Lenny Henry, there is something very British about the story and style of writing (ignoring the London setting) that has become Gaiman’s hallmark. Continue reading

Arc 1.1 is ready

Regular readers might remember I commented on the new digital magazine Arc just before Christmas. Those of you who are interested in this publication will be pleased to know that it went on sale Monday 20th and you can purchase it here. Continue reading

Site of the Week: You Write On

You Write On is a community of readers and writers that claims, very boldly, to have had a large number of success stories for getting writers published. It has an interesting approach for spreading the word about your book. Upload a chapter or a section from your novel and it will be assigned at random for another member to review. In turn, you will be randomly allocated somebody else’s work to review. Once you have received eight reviews, it enters the chart to be in contention for formal review by publishers and agents representing Orion and Random House (the top 5 get the honour). Continue reading

Expanding my reading scope through Kindle

One of the great advantages of having an ebook reader is the volume of stuff that you can download free. That is always a good selling point in itself but out of copyright work can be obtained in masses without having to part with hard-earned cash.

Today, while flicking through an old edition of SFX magazine, I saw a name that meant nothing to me: Ambrose Bierce. Intrigued by the quick summary in the “Penny Dreadful” horror column, I switched on my Kindle and went straight to the marketplace to download a collection (Present at a Hanging and other ghost stories) for free. Continue reading