Tag Archives: 11/10

Lifeform 3 – oh…my…god!

lifeform 3In Lifeform 3, author Roz Morris has created a masterpiece, and I don’t say that lightly. The story is deceptively simple, as is the prose, all held in perfect balance to allow the characters to shine. And what characters!

Before I talk about Paftoo, and Pea, Tickets and Pafnine, however, I have to set the scene, just a little. Imagine our world some time in the future. It has become a world of back-to-back cities with podcars that drive themselves while their human occupants sleep. It is a world of rampant consumerism and jaded appetites. It is a world where animals, especially wild animals have become a tourist attraction.

In this world, animals are categorized according to the order in which they were domesticated – dogs are lifeform 1, cats are lifeform 2 and horses are lifeform 3. And yes, that was a clue.

Now imagine a crumbling manor house set in acres of land, a tiny pocket of nature tucked away in a sea of concrete. This is Harkaway Hall, or what’s left of it. Dubbed the ‘Lost Lands’, the estate has become a tourist destination, and is maintained by a small army of bods, humanoid robots with shaggy purple hair and Manga eyes.

Enter Paftoo. Paftoo is a bod, but he is not quite like the other bods. During the day he collects the poop dropped by the animals that roam the Lost Lands, but at night, while the other bods switch off, Paftoo dreams. He dreams of lifeform 3’s galloping across the fields. He dreams of himself riding a lifeform 3.

That is the mystery underlying the story. How and why has this one bod become so different? And why would it dream of horses? Deeper still, though, is a darker theme about intelligence and self-awareness, aspirations and freedom. Paftoo is not human, yet he is not just a machine either, and in his journey we can see a reflection of ourselves. That is what makes this story so utterly wonderful.

For those interested in such things, Lifeform 3 is technically science fiction, but as far as I’m concerned it’s science fiction literature.

Did some of you cringe? Did your eyes glaze over?

Please don’t be put off  by the ‘L’ word. Lifeform 3 is not arty farty. It doesn’t use obscure vocabulary just for the sake of it. It doesn’t bore you to tears with pages of flowery descriptions, and it does not go round in circles contemplating its own navel!

Lifeform 3 is science fiction literature because it tells the perfect story. Nothing is missing. Nothing is superfluous. Everything fits, and flows as if it could not possibly be any different. Yet despite that, it’s not predictable.

As a writer who reads a hell of a lot, I often find myself re-writing sentences in my head as I read them, or mentally questioning some part of the plot or characterization. It goes with the territory. With Lifeform 3, however, there was not a single moment when I stopped to re-read a sentence or passage because it had jarred me out of the story. Didn’t happen, not even once. That is the sign of a truly good story.

So…  Would I recommend Lifeform 3 to you? You bet I would! Using my own, personal star rating system, Lifeform 3 gets 11/10, and joins a select list of novels that I think will still be wowing readers in a hundred years’ time. That, by the way, is another thing it has in common with real literature – it lasts.

Now, a request : if you read Lifeform 3 and love it as much as I do, please, please leave a review on Amazon! Even just a few words will help spread the word about this amazing book!

cheers

Meeks


Jacquie Lawson’s Edwardian Advent Calendar – 11/10

advent calendar siamese

When I was a kid, you could buy Advent Calendars that counted down each day of December until you reached Christmas. The delightful part, however, was that behind each ‘day’ on the calendar was a small chocolate. I can’t remember the taste of the chocolate, but I can remember the sense of anticipation that went with each one.

Can you still buy those Advent Calendars? No idea, but this year I have another reason to look forward to Christmas, and it’s far kinder to my waistline! A dear friend gave me a digital Advent Calendar, and I literally start each day looking to see what new delight will be revealed.

As I received the Edwardian Advent Calendar at the end of November, I was only allowed to visit the Pavillion, a cosy room that looks like this :

advent calendar pavillion

The two dogs, and the two small kittens on the chaise, are animated. Each time you do something in the Pavillion they run through a series of very cute little routines. So far I’ve only seen one routine repeated!

But the Pavillion provides more than just a seemingly never-ending series of animations. All the jigsaw and box puzzles can be played, as can this game :

advent calendar 5

And then, finally, December 1 arrives and you get to explore the Edwardian part of the calendar. For those unfamiliar with the Edwardian period in England, it was a time of gracious living [for the well-to-do] in beautiful mansions with a small army of servants to cook, clean and generally make life easy.

Each day, the Advent Calendar provides a sneak peak into this period via simple but very effective animations. Sometimes this sneak peak is interactive. For example, on Day 3 you get to do flower arranging. You are provided with six different ‘vases’ and masses of period flowers and greenery to arrange as you will.

advent calendar 3

advent calendarAll the controls are simple point and click affairs, very easy to do, yet the programming behind them is powerful. Every flower can be resized, flipped and rotated, allowing you to create some very unique ‘arrangements’.

Once you’re done you’re prompted to select the room of the mansion in which to display your creations.

The flower arrangement on the left is the first one I created, and as you can see, it is destined for the ‘hall’.

To my huge surprise, my creation actually became a part of the ‘scene’ :

advent calendar the Hall

Can you see it?

I can’t remember the last time I’ve had so much fun. Not only is the concept brilliant, the execution is superb. Everything from the animations to the interactive games and music are just perfect.

I know I’m sounding like an info-mercial but … if you want to send someone a digital gift for Christmas, this just has to be it!

cheers

Meeks


My Barsetshire Diary – a very happy review

Without further ado – I love this quirky little book! Its gentle, understated humour had me chuckling and chortling like one of those horrible laughing toys we used to give our kids. As I do a lot of my reading on the loo I’m sure the neighbours must be totally mystified by the sounds coming from my house. But I care not! I’m still in Barsetshire and I’m still smiling.

Now, for some facts. ‘My Barsetshire Diary’ is written by Lord David Prosser [yes he is a real lord] and is set somewhere in England or Wales. All of the characters are based on real people living ordinary lives.  Nothing terrible or scurrilous happens. There is no gossip. There are no shocking scandals. In fact all the events in the book are so ordinary that you would think the book must be boring,  yet it is anything but boring because Lord Prosser finds the comic in the everyday and carries us along for the ride.

The style of this book reminds me of those stand-up comedians who make us laugh because they show us the funny side of our own lives. Of course Lord Prosser lives the life of those to the manor born but his humour shows us that ‘they’ are no different to ‘us’. We all have the same sorts of problems and we all have the same sorts of foibles. This is human scale humour at its best.

I would have to rate this little gem 11/10.


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