- Sample of new book The Faceless
- Retrogasm: Gunstar Heroes Review
- Retrogasm: Bishi Bashi Special Review
- BEWARE: Our cat’s unfortunate run-in with Bob Martin flea products
- Retrogasm! Joe & Mac: Caveman Ninja
- Retrogasm! Gynoug: Mega Drive Review
- Bust: Page 11 “All roads led to death”
- Hockey Dad
- A few thoughts on what I’m *maybe* working on next
- Bust: Page 10
Once my novel Seventh Circle is done I may write up an idea for a short book I’ve been planning out called The Faceless. If it comes off as planned it could be quite a weird, possibly interactive way of writing that uses blogs, Tweets and maybe videos, but I’m still working all that out.
It’s a journal of sorts, documenting the last few hours of a person’s freedom in a peaceful post-World War III existence that has found new ways to keep the global populace passive and happy. But as always, paradise often comes with an initially hidden flaw, and my lead character ‘ML’ stumbles across this dark secret and goes on the run.
They choose to document their thoughts on a blog as both an expose and final will while, outside their hideout, the ruling authorities are slowly pinpointing their location and are moving in for the kill. It was inspired by all the whistleblower exposes that have occurred over the last few years, particularly Snowden. I wondered how that man could sleep at night even after being offered security abroad. A lot of people would surely like to see him killed.
The Faceless is a story about exposing corruption, and how, in a world where people are displaying their lives in plain sight through services like Facebook and Twitter, our calls for privacy can – in some cases – seem hypocritical. We crave privacy, yet have no issue openly discussing our day to day activities, location, spending habits and photos online.
Ultimately, the plot revolves around an activist group called The Faceless that, through advanced technology, has found a way to remove all their identifying marks to give surveillance networks nothing to brand them with. Face grafting, hair removal, speech distortion, removal of genitalia and fingerprints are just some of the pre-requisites to becoming a member of the group.
But in the way that avatars and forum usernames make people feel anonymous and therefore able to say or do whatever they feel like, the same is true of The Faceless. How do you finger someone for a terrible crime when they all look alike? As Peter Capaldi said in the penultimate episode of The Thick Of It, “You can’t cuff a country can you? You can’t arrest a landmass.” He’s right.
That is what make The Faceless dangerous. As a result of its true anonymity, the group grows more hostile to those who dare to walk around with their natural appearance. it becomes the majority. Their numbers begin to swell, and a new army of elite hackers and soldiers is formed to suppress the rising threat. They are called ‘Moderators,’ and my protagonist – from their hide out – will document everything they have learned about both sides to reveal everything to the world before they are hauled off and silenced forever.
This is still months and months away, but I thought I’d whack a brain dump on here just to keep it all fresh in my own mind.
Now, back to editing Seventh Circle.
I’ve just received page ten of my post-apocalyptic ‘Zombies meets Gladiator’ webcomic Bust from the wonder Chris O’Toole. Check out his art and all of the pages so far here.
Here’s a sample from the newly re-drafted fifth chapter, for your reading pleasure. I’m never going to show off the original draft as, well, it’s awful by comparison. It truly was the book’s weakest chapter, but now it’s one of the novel’s most-pivotal sections. The below sample does not include spoilers however. You can read it without fear of having anything ruined.
Enjoy, and please do excuse the weird formatting. WordPress doesn’t seem to like the proper book format.
An almighty roar erupted throughout Seventh Circle’s cavernous shooting range as a salvo of high calibre sniper rounds ripped through the centre of a distant, hanging target. Sasha looked up from the eyepiece of her long-range rifle to observe her handiwork as the weapon’s barrel hissed and smoked. She stood and looked at what remained of her paper victim for a moment before starting the process over with a fresh target. It had been five months since she first arrived at Barman’s doorstep.
Most of Sasha’s evenings were spent in the rebellion’s underground bunker, honing her aim and steeling herself through rigorous exercise. It was a way of siphoning out the anger caused by her husband Eric’s betrayal, but every night as she slept in her rough, creaky bunk bed, memories of that terrible New Years Eve returned. She’d often wake in a cold sweat as visions of his bloodied face and hollow, dead eyes came into focus.
Shooting had become akin to meditation, and few things could match the rush she felt as those cross-hairs zeroed in on their mark, followed by the quick, excited intake of breath as she realised the kill-shot was hers. It had become pleasurable, and Sasha knew that one day, whether she wanted it or not, cutting apart paper targets wasn’t going to satisfy her thirst for violence. She wanted to hit the streets and stalk greater prey.
I’m at the point where I’m now actively pitching my first solo novel to agents, and while the book’s website is being built, I felt it was time to try and drum up some awareness.
You can follow the book on Twitter at @the7thcircle and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/the7thcircle
Any and all support is very much appreciated.
I always elevator pitch Seventh Circle as ‘Breaking Bad meets The Inferno.’ It shares many common threads and characters from that classic tale of Dante, as he journeys through the circles of Hell, but with a drug trade twist.
Basically, if the after-life had a drug problem, what would that look like?
The story opens as three people commit suicide on New Year’s Eve. Dirk is the main protagonist. He murdered his wife and son for reasons unknown, and has become a penniless drunk wanted by the police. As the clock strikes midnight he, and the other two leads kill themselves and awaken in the seventh circle of Hell which, in The Inferno, was reserved for those who take their own life.
It’s a giant city, sitting beneath Earth and above Hell-proper, which is The Inferno’s true depiction of Hell. The city is divided by a great wall. On one side the humans – or The Fallen – as they’re known, live in squalor and are gripped by drug addiction.
On the other, Demonkind live in opulance, pushing a deliberate, controlled influx of drugs into the slums. Though human in appearance, the Demons show no love to The Fallen, and keep them oppressed under their heel.
Dirk and the other two leads find each other by chance in Seventh Circle, a bar that harbours The Fallen and is the front for a new rebel movement that seeks to smash Hell’s drug cartel and tear down the wall that divides the city. They become trained in the art of killing and espionage under the tutelage of the bar’s priopriator; a man with no name or past, but a burning desire to kill Satan and those who dwell withinhis inner circle.
Will Dirk and his comrades earn atonement for their sins, or will the brutal reality of Hell keep their hands bloody forever?
(Please do ignore WordPress’s insistence to destroy whatever formatting I add to this page.)
Uncommitted walked in a mindless stupor out on the street. Men and women of all ages shuffled with bowed heads and worn spirits, each wearing tattered garments that hung off their anorexic frames. The road was wide and cobbled, flanked by rows of dilapidated shops and rusted apartment doors.
Dirk lifted his head to see overbearing rooftop spires that thrust skyward like daggers, as if threatening to pierce the night sky. He inhaled deeply to find that the air smelled of charred, burning wood. It was thick and clung to the back of his throat, as if he was drawing on a cigarette. He coughed and spluttered, pounding his chest to get accustomed with the air’s density, while looking out at the Gothic stonework beset into the buildings nearby. The stone pillars and twisting columns that made up each structure’s exterior underlined the city’s age, while piles of granite rubble and imperfections in the masonry made clear that it was overcome with a perpetual state of decay.
I’ve decided I want to start blogging about retro games more regularly, so that’s exactly what I’m doing with this continuation of my Retrogasm! video series. The clips were a ball-ache to put together so I’m opting for written articles instead.
I wanted to kick off the new round of Retrogasm! with Alex Kidd in Miracle World because it came up during a podcast I guested on recently about our top five games of all time. You should listen to it, it’s insanely Scottish and full of at least five instances of borderline offensive patter. Get your gran round and stick it on, she’ll love it over a pack of Abernathy biscuits and a pot of tea, guaranteed.
So why Alex Kidd? Well, and I say this without a hint of being a hyperbole-riddled prick, I’m certain it was the game that convinced me to get into the hobby at a young age. See, when I was wee my tonsils were insanely prone to infection. They’d swell up to the size of one of those swinging punching bags, and get so raw it actually felt like Mike Tyson was punching fuck out of them. This happened every three or so months without fail and I was sick of it. My parents decided it was time to get them out.
Off I went to the Sick Kid’s hospital here in Edinburgh. It was set up to give wee ones a less-terrifying breed of hospital, with loads of toys and things to keep them occupied through the rough experience. I remember they had a game room through the back with tonnes of things to do, as this was back in the days where post-operation, patients would be kept in hospitals for days, not like now where they’re practically drive-throughs.