Tag Archives: science-fiction

Why did I ever think this would be easy?

It took me an age to get the musculature of the Vokh right, but once it was done I assumed that slapping on some wings would be easy. Har de har har….

When working with Corel, I create one half of everything then copy-flip it to the other side. As a result, this image is only half finished. I was going to complete it, but then I realised it was an effective way of showing the muscles themselves instead of just the suggestion of muscles beneath the skin of the wings.

Anyway, I’ve been sweating blood over the damn wings since the Offspring – a real artist – pointed out that this fudge didn’t work:

I had to admit that the Offspring was right, but it left me in a quandary because I couldn’t work out how to do it properly. Then I found this picture of a bat:

Turning the reference pic of the bat upside down gave me an idea of how the skin would ‘pull’, but I forgot that the lighting was upside down too. -facepalm-

To cut a long story short, I have done little else but obsess about this pic for days. Now, at last, I can breathe a sigh of relief and relax, at least until tomorrow. 😀

cheers,
Meeks


Not birds…bats!

Just found this amazing illustration of bat musculature:

https://www.anatomynote.com/animal-anatomy/mammals/bat/bat-muscle-anatomy/

Unlike bats though, Vokh and iVokh have an extra pair of arms whose sole function is to extend the surface area of the wing and, coincidentally, allow the legs to be longer. Of course that second pair of arms [hidden inside the wings], will require a shoulder joint that simply does not exist in our world. -sigh-

cheers
Meeks


THREE new reviews!

The second and third books of a trilogy rarely get as many reviews as the first, partly because it’s really hard to talk about those books without mentioning events from the first book, and spoilers are a no-no. That is why reviews for those unloved children fill us authors with so much joy.

My thanks to L.M. Verna for reviewing all three books of my Innerscape trilogy. The first is for Miira :

First in a trilogy of books, this focuses primarily on Miira’s transition from being a terminally ill middle-aged cancer patient to a young avatar exploring her new life in a virtual reality resort for the wealthy called Innerscape. Acflory brings this process to life with vivid descriptions that engage all one’s senses. Parts of Miira’s transition were described in such a way that I found myself cringe. I like books that get me so involved that the real world dissolves; this series of books did that for me.

The trilogy is told primarily from Miira’s POV, but also includes POVs from other characters to round out the narrative. In this book, we also meet Kenneth Wu and Jamie Watson who figure prominently in the trilogy. Although the story is told from multiple points of view, the author manages to transition between them without jarring the reader. I especially enjoyed the character of Miira and was intrigued by what she had to endure to start a new life.

The author explored and described the physical and emotional aspects of Miira’s transformation, as well as a bit of the politics of Innerscape and the larger society where it exists. Thus, she managed to create a vivid, complex, and more believable world.

I also enjoyed the gaming worlds that are woven artfully into the fabric of the trilogy, and which contain events and characters that advance the overall story.

Once I finished the first book, I was intrigued enough to finish the trilogy.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B076GYZBKQ?notRedirectToSDP=1&ref_=dbs_mng_calw_0&storeType=ebooks

Followed by the Godsend:

The second book in Acflory’s Innerscape trilogy follows the story of three main characters. The first book introduced us to Miira, Kenneth Wu, and Jamie Watson, but primarily focused on Miira. Initially I found it easier to identify more with her, given her backstory and the emotional ups and downs she went through in transitioning from the real world into a virtual reality universe.

This book was fast paced with an intricately woven plot. I loved the suspense, the twists and turns and misdirection that also continued into the last book of the trilogy.

I particularly enjoyed the description of the game that took place in ancient Japan where Kenneth got the opportunity to save Miira and Jamie.

I appreciated the developing friendship between Miira and young Jamie. He became a bit of a mentor for Miira in the gaming world and also as she travelled in Innerscape. And I liked that Miira was a quick study who did her best to embrace the new experiences that were thrown her way.

I could hardly wait to read the next book to see whether the three protagonists would even survive, much less overcome the challenges that were thrown their way.

https://www.amazon.com/Godsend-Innerscape-Book-2-ebook/dp/B076HMMGHX/ref=pd_sim_1/143-1582068-4892022?pd_rd_w=ovCHL&pf_rd_p=2dd164f0-90c0-4d86-b559-9c82b4532fdb&pf_rd_r=K49MVSNYH2MX2XVBW2A2&pd_rd_r=4a21a05d-e230-4340-9c82-777463cd783b&pd_rd_wg=jx9OC&pd_rd_i=B076HMMGHX&psc=1

And last but not least, Nabatea:

In the last book of the Innerscape trilogy, the author kept building the suspense, and then slowly revealed more and more answers to the mystery of what makes Kenneth Wu tick. In the end, all the loose ends got wrapped up in a satisfying way, although I still found myself wanting to spend more time with Miira, Kenneth and Jamie.

Overall, I found reading the three books to be quite a wild ride. The author did an excellent job of keeping me engaged in the story and concerned for the three protagonists.

These books are well written—free of typos, poor grammar and other artifacts of bad writing and careless proofreading.

With its well-developed world, its mysterious story, strong visual elements, and complex characters, I think this trilogy would make an excellent science fiction TV series.

Meantime, I’ll be reading the author’s other books.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B076NN3FZD?notRedirectToSDP=1&ref_=dbs_mng_calw_2&storeType=ebooks

The three books now have 24, 6 and 5 reviews respectively. I know it’s silly but I keep looking at those numbers and thinking how respectable they look. I really have to say a big ‘thank you’ to every single person who took the time to leave a review. You’ve made me a very happy woman.

Okay, I’d better climb down from cloud nine and get back to work learning how to edit [videos]. Take care and stay well.

Cheers,
Meeks


My Favourite bits…The Vintage Egg

The Vintage Egg (Postcards From Tomorrow Book 1) by [acflory]

The Egg is a collection of six short stories that I published back in 2013, but at least two of them – The Gamer and Brehak – were conceived more than a decade earlier. Both grew out of my fledgling experiences as an online gamer, and the realisation that seeing really is believing, even when you know that what you’re seeing isn’t real.

But if two gamers can fall in love with their respective avatars, what happens when reality intrudes? Or when one of them deliberately deceives the other? Readers of Innerscape will recognize both of these themes. They, and much of the backstory of Innerscape grew out of these two stories.

The following excerpt is taken from the second story, Brehak:

The dark-haired man with the impossibly long legs sprawled on his throne, surrounded by a bevy of naked beauties – all small-breasted, all blond, all wearing the same come hither look. Except he hadn’t come…

“Out. All of you. Get out!”

As the blond NPCs winked obediently out of existence, their lord and master rose from his ornate, padded throne, and strode over to a huge tapestry that hung on the wall behind the throne.

The tapestry hid an iron-studded door that led out to a windswept balcony. From there he would have a panoramic view of the icy wastes that lay beyond the battlements. His realm.

Grabbing the iron ring that served as a handle, Brehak flung the door open, and walked outside. The chill wind, and the snow beneath his naked feet made him shiver, but he welcomed the discomfort. It was nice to feel something for a change.

When he had first created this fantasy realm three months ago, everything had been new and exciting, including the sex. But the thrill of being serviced by his harem of Ktah look-alikes had waned very quickly. No matter how he programmed them, their behaviour was never realistic enough to make him believe he was with her. None of them could ever capture that strange innocence lurking behind her seductive blue eyes.

Had she even been a she?

Brehak had agonized over that question a million times since the night Ktah disappeared from the OR. Her voice had certainly been that of a woman, but he knew that didn’t mean much. When he had tried out a female avatar, just to see what it would feel like, the game AI had subtly altered his voice patterns to make him sound more feminine. His walk though, and his body language, had remained stubbornly masculine.

Ktah had not played typically female classes, yet even so her body movements had always been graceful in a way most men could never match-

…except perhaps a really good female impersonator…

Was that why she/he finally ran away? Because they’d come so close to stimming?

Some days, Brehak was revolted by the thought that Ktah might have been a man. Other days he cursed her/him for not following through. Perhaps if they had finally had sex he would be able to move on. But they hadn’t, and the questions remained.

It was not that he had been in love with Ktah – they had not known each other long enough for that – but the possibility had been there, impossible to ignore. Impossible to forget.

Brehak knew it was stupid to be so obsessed with an avatar, and he had tried to exorcise Ktah’s memory many times, but none of the women he met in OR could hold his interest for long. Most were nice enough, but sooner or later they all started talking about meeting up ‘outside’, and that always killed it for him. 

Back when the OR had been in its infancy, he had made the mistake of telling one woman why they could never be together in real life. The pity, and revulsion he had seen on her face had scarred him more thoroughly than all the surgeries he had undergone. Apparently some women could face making love to a man with no legs, but drew the line at one with no bowels

Would he have seen that same look on Ktah’s face – if he had told her the truth about himself?

“We’ll never know now, will we?”

Leaning on the cold stone of the balustrade, Brehak looked out over his empty, icy realm and laughed. It was not a happy sound.

Brehak is by far the darkest story in the Egg. The rest range from kid-friendly to vaguely funny [The To-Do List], but all deal with how human beings deal the the technology we are likely to face in the future.

The Vintage Egg is starting its five day free run on Amazon tomorrow [March 2 northern hemisphere time, March 3 southern hemisphere time], and I hope everyone grabs a copy while it’s free.

cheers
Meeks


5 stars for The Godsend!

This day really couldn’t get any better. Just found this new review for The Godsend:

‘WOW the action certainly ramps up in this second book of the series. Miira and Jamie are trapped outside Innerscape and in mortal danger, there’s an assassin determined to kill The Burned Man, the falsely accused Kenneth Wu reappears, and much, much more.

Excuse me, Book 3 is calling my name – loudly…’

Click here to see the review on Amazon UK. Click the link to see The Godsend on Amazon US or Amazon Australia.

I am so happy I could pop! My thanks to the wonderful Chris Graham, otherwise known as the Story Reading Ape. Not only is this an awesome review, it would make a brilliant blurb. -dance-

Have a wonderful weekend my friends!

love,
Meeks


My Favourite Bits…in Miira [3]

First and foremost, Miira is now free on Amazon for five days from January 19 to January 23, 2021! You should be able to find Miira on your local Amazon. For those in the US, the link to Amazon.com is below:

https://www.amazon.com/Miira-book-1-Innerscape-acflory-ebook/dp/B076GYZBKQ/ref=sr_1_2?crid=3BP2AQJ9TQLLQ&dchild=1&keywords=miira&qid=1611045851&sprefix=Miira%2Caps%2C445&sr=8-2

And in case you’re still wondering whether you should add yet another book to your bulging TBR list, here is my last ‘favourite bit’ from Miira. This scene is shorter than the previous one, but not by that much, so apologies again!

Before you read the excerpt, you will need a little bit of context about the ‘suit’. It isn’t a jacket, vest and pants! Gaming in 2101 involves the use of full body ‘suits’ that contain sensors which help create a biofeedback system for the wearer. For example, if the Gamer stubs his toe, he/she will feel the bump.

The Teslasuit, shown on the left, is almost available already, but by the start of the next century, the best quality suits will have so many sensors embedded in the material that the Gamer is fooled into thinking he/she is experiencing the real thing. The top of the range ‘suit’ is the RT69 by Real Touch.

Read on:

—*—*—*—

The rat-tat-tat of someone knocking on the door woke Lennie from a nap, and he started awake, heart pounding. Wha’ th’ fuck?

Nobody ever visited him at home. He made sure of that by keeping the address of his flea bitten kennel a close secret.

Rolling off the mattress, he grabbed the small table next to his bed and hauled himself upright as he tried to shake off the alcoholic fog that still clouded his thoughts. The only person who knew where he lived was the local pizza guy, but he had not ordered pizza. At least, he could not remember ordering pizza…

Gotta lay off the sauce a bit, he thought as he shambled towards the door, one hand scratching his crotch, the other rubbing the stubble on his chin.

When was the last time he’d shaved?

Lennie could not remember, but was not overly concerned. Life had been a very pleasant blur since the money came through, and he was not about to look a gift horse in the arse-

Bang, bang, bang.

“Okay, okay!” he cried. “I’m coming!”

Alcoholic fog notwithstanding, Lennie retained enough sense to check the view port before unlocking the door.

A woman wearing the bright red uniform of a courier stood outside, one hand raised to knock again. She would have been quite attractive had the red of her hair not clashed so badly with the red of her uniform.

She should dye it, Lennie thought as his eye dropped down to the woman’s other hand. It was holding the handle of a bright yellow trolley. On the trolley was a very big package with Real Touch written on it in electric purple lettering.

My suit! Lennie thought in delight as he quickly unlocked the deadbolt and the two padlocks securing his door. It was a cheap neighbourhood. It paid to be cautious.

“Lennie Huffnagel?” the woman asked.
“Yup, that’s me.”
“Authentication please.”

As Lennie bent to press his thumb into the tablet held out to him, a whiff of his own body odour made him wince. He would have to have a shower before he tried out the suit. Bugger.

“Where do you want it?” the woman asked.

“Um, just sort of in the middle,” Lennie said, suddenly very conscious of the piles of dirty dishes, and even dirtier clothing, that covered almost every available surface. “Hang on, I’ll clear a space.”

“It’s okay,” the woman said with a quick grin. “My brother’s room is just the same.”

Matching action to words, she set the trolley down in the middle of the room and began feeding the dirty dishes into the recycler.

Lennie gave her a quizzical look but did his part by throwing the dirty clothes into a pile by the wall. Soon, an empty rectangle of floor beckoned to be filled.

Spinning the trolley around with a quick flick of her wrists, the woman deposited the box in the middle of the newly cleared space and stood back to admire her handiwork.

“Got a cutter?” she asked.

“It’s okay,” Lennie said, suddenly a little uncomfortable. “I can manage.”

“Oh,” the woman said, her animated expression drooping into disappointment. “Sorry. It’s just…I’m a gamer too, ya know? I saw the label and I was kinda hoping I could get to see the RT69 for myself…”

“You play?” Lennie asked, unease forgotten. “Whadya play?”
“Mega Dome,” the woman said with a slight blush.
“Nice,” Lennie replied, working hard to keep a condescending smirk off his face.

Mega Dome was billed as a full contact martial arts game, but in reality it was just a fancy dating venue with a bit of slap slap thrown in to get people in the mood. He’d played it himself, before the agency picked him up and introduced him to real gaming. Still, the Ranga* knew enough to recognize a top of the range suit when she saw one.

Lennie gave the courier a quick but very professional appraisal as she stood in the middle of the room, clearly hoping to stay. She was not his type, far too fem with a small nose, small mouth and huge green eyes, but it would be fun to share the moment with someone who knew how awesome the suit really was.

“I’ll get the cutter,” he said.

The woman’s face lit up with pleasure, and Lennie suddenly felt quite warm towards her. If she played her cards right he might just give her a bit of slap slap himself.

My good deed for the day, he thought with a quiet chuckle as he ferreted around in the tiny food preparation area for the cutter.

When the woman finally left an hour later, Lennie lay on the mattress, his brand new suit fully connected and a look of terminal surprise on his face.

So why is this one of my favourite scenes? It’s because I’m fiercely protective of those I love, and I love Jaimie Watson, the only 18 year old Resident in Innerscape. Lennie Huffnagel betrayed Jaimie for money, so killing him off with his own ill gotten gains is poetic justice in my book. But I also love the colour red and characters with depth, so don’t expect the Woman in Red to be a simple anything. 🙂

A word of warning: I don’t write erotica or anything even approaching it, but I don’t pull any punches about ‘body functions’, so an earlier scene with Lennie may shock some people. Apologies in advance, but those scenes highlight the chasm that exists between the lives of the super rich, and those like Lennie who survive by exploiting them. Contrast is the key to everything.

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing ‘Miira’ through my eyes. If you want to read the whole story, Miira, book 1 of Innerscape, is now free on Amazon until January 23, 2021.

-hugs-
Meeks


My Favourite bits…in Miira

Stephen King famously advised writers to murder their darlings, but thanks to Audrey Driscoll, another excellent writer, I’m about to do the exact opposite! I’m going to tell you which of my ‘darlings’ I like the most, and why. But I’m also opening these questions up to my writer friends. Which bits of your stories do you like the best? More importantly, why those bits instead of others?

I thought long and hard about those questions myself, and in the end, I kept coming back to two, very different scenes from Miira, book 1 of the Innerscape science fiction trilogy. The first one features the main character, Miira Tahn.

In the following short excerpt, Miira has just entered Innerscape [a virtual world for the old, sick and dying, or at least those wealthy enough to pay the price of admission]. As the final step in her ‘orientation’, Miira must attend a fashion show at which she will meet most of Innerscape’s current Residents. She’s been hurt by these kinds of people before, but she’s learned to beat them at their own game:

Thanks to Miira’s determination to find just the right ‘armour’, she and the girls were fashionably late by the time they finally arrived at the venue for the fashion show. All around them, beautiful people filled the spacious room, chatting over exquisite canapés and sipping the finest simulated champagne.

Yet even so, their arrival did not go unnoticed. Emily, and Jane wore lovely pastel frocks that enhanced their colouring, but both looked a little insipid next to Miira’s neon presence. She sailed through the crowd like a bright red exclamation mark, impossible to miss and even harder to ignore.

Smiling and nodding at the Residents she recognized, Miira led the way to their seats as if unaware of the ripples she was causing.

The front row seats they had been assigned would give them an unobstructed view of the gorgeous creations soon to grace the catwalk, but Miira knew the seats would also give the Residents an unobstructed view of her. She would be under the microscope, and heaven help her if they found any chinks in her armour.

She had always hated the scrutiny that was part and parcel of her role as the Lady, but over the years she had learned to give as good as she got. Now, as she waited for the show to begin, she welcomed the gorgeous people who approached with a half-smile and a knowing look.

The women did not like her, air-kisses notwithstanding, but each man looked her up and down with cool intent.

Miira returned their looks, her hooded eyes hinting at promises she had no intention of keeping.

Taken from Miira, book 1 of Innerscape

Miira is not me. But she may be the person I would like to have been during the six, miserable years I spent in an all-girl, Catholic convent school. I’d always gotten on better with boys than girls in primary school, so high school with only girls was… a shock. I learned that girls en masse are not always kind.

So the chip on Miira’s shoulder was probably inherited from me, but I like how she fought back. And I like the colour red.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about another one of my favourites, but this time the person wearing red will be the assassin. Make of that what you will. lol

Your turn!

Meeks

p.s. Don’t forget that Miira will be free on Amazon.com for five days starting on January 19, 2021!


Free book schedule

All my science fiction books have now been reduced to 99c, and they’re now on Kindle Unlimited as well. As promised, I’ve also set up the free book schedule on Amazon. Starting January 19, 2021, Miira will be free for five consecutive days. The other five books are scheduled to be free as per the following table:

As you can see, the last book ends its free run on April the 3rd. I had to mess around with the dates a bit to make sure it didn’t finish on April Fool’s Day! -cough-

The 99c price point is so no one who wants a book misses out. If possible, though, please grab the book[s] during the free promotion. And it goes without saying that I would love reviews, any kind of reviews, even critical ones.

And finally an apology. I’ll be talking about these books a lot in the weeks ahead. I’ll try not to bore you silly, but there’s only so many ways of saying ‘read my book’. Bear with me!

-hugs-
Meeks


January 2021…and beyond

I think we all know by now that 2021 is not going to become a good year any time soon. Despite the rollout of vaccines in most countries, it will take a long time before enough people are vaccinated to provide herd immunity* to those who aren’t. For most diseases, that means at least 70% of a population have to be vaccinated before herd immunity can kick in. With Covid-19, no one’s sure how much of the population has to be immune. There’s also a great big question mark around what the current vaccines will actually accomplish. Will they simply stop the disease? Or will they also stop infected people from passing it on?

So…. 2021 is likely to get a lot worse before it gets better. For the Offspring and I, that means we’ll be in self-isolation for a long time yet. Because of that, I thought there was no point setting any goals for the coming year. I was wrong. There are things I can do, both for myself and for others; it just took a while for me to see it.

One thing I’ve always been bad at is marketing, but marketing these days is mostly digital, so I’ve decided that my goal for 2021 is to get one more review for Miira and Vokhtah. Both are sitting on 19 reviews, and I’d love to see that number change to 20. Not a big goal, I know, but it’s an achievable goal if I pull my finger out and actually do some marketing!

“But I hate marketing!”

I’m probably the world’s worst salesperson, but I discovered a long time ago that when I believe in a product, my enthusiasm accomplishes what my lack of skill cannot – I can make others want to see what has me so excited.

“But I hate marketing my own stuff!”

Sadly, women of my vintage were brought up to believe that ‘showing off’ was the worst thing a woman could do short of flashing her boobs in public. I recognize the conditioning. I acknowledge that it’s incredibly unfair – why should men be able to blow their own trumpet while we have to be demure and self-effacing? But this fear of being seen as a show-off is so deeply ingrained that I cannot shift it.

But I can trick it into shutting up. 🙂 And this is where my light bulb moment kicked in. If I give my books away for free, I’ll be getting eyes on my work AND I’ll be providing some escapism for those who are still in limbo. And that is exactly what I plan to do.

The first step of this grand plan is to drop the price of all my books to 0.99 cents. Then, once every two weeks, I’ll put one of the books up for free on Amazon. The book will remain free for 5 consecutive days before returning to the 0.99 cent price point. When the last book has had its turn at free, I’ll put all the books back to their original price points.

This is what my books cost now:

Prices shown are for Amazon.com as at January 15, 2021

I’m not sure how long it will take for the price change to register on Amazon, but I’ll post an update when the new prices are available.

So that’s my grand plan. If I achieve the two extra reviews I’ll be happy. If I don’t, I can still hope that my stories ease the strain of this weird point in time, at least a little, and…I’ve got a plan for the next twelve weeks.

much love,
Meeks

…*… herd immunity works by surrounding infectious people with people who are already immune. To survive, the bacterium or virus needs new hosts to infect. With no new hosts available, the bacterium or virus runs its course and dies. Eventually, every infected person recovers and bingo, no more virus. To get to that point though, an awful lot of people have to be immunised at the same time, otherwise the virus just keeps ticking along.


Strange science

We’ve known for some time that certain animals can navigate using the Earth’s magnetic field, but how they did it was a mystery.

Well, a little bit of that mystery may now be solved via a rather interesting experiment conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Tokyo.

You can find a detailed description of the experiment here but basically what it showed was that waving a magnet over a bunch of cells every 4 seconds caused the fluorescence [light emitting] of those cells to dim, proof positive that it was the magnet – ie magnetism – causing the effect. The scientists think this dimming was caused by the ‘radical pair mechanism’ at work in the cells:

“Essentially, if certain molecules are excited by light, electrons can jump between them to their neighbors. That can create pairs of molecules with a single electron each, known as a radical pair. If the electrons in those molecules have matching spin states, they will undergo chemical reactions slowly, and if they’re opposites the reactions occur faster.” [Emphasis is mine]

https://newatlas.com/biology/live-cells-respond-magnetic-fields/

So why does this rather obscure discovery excite me so much? Because of that old quote from Hamlet:

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio

http://www.shakespeare-online.com/quickquotes/quickquotehamletdreamt.html

Change the word ‘philosophy’ to ‘science’, and Shakespeare could have been describing how new discoveries are always expanding the boundaries of what we know about the real world.

For a science fiction writer like myself, this is manna from heaven because in one hundred years time, some bright spark may discover that telepathy is not so much supernatural as supranatural! [Don’t hit me! I’m using supranatural as a description of something that doesn’t fit into the physics of the normal world…like quantum mechanics. As I’m no physicist, however, I’ll submit to those who know better.]

Okay, I’ll stop there before I get too carried away, but you can see why I find these kinds of discoveries so exciting.

Take care and stay well,
-hugs-
Meeks


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