Tag Archives: scifi

‘Hope’ – by Terry Tyler

I’m a voracious reader so there are times when the pickings are lean. And then there are times when I discover one stunning, brilliant book after the other. This is one of those times and the first book I want to talk about is ‘Hope’.

This is the review I just left on amazon.com:

‘Most of us just want to live our lives, right? The world can be harsh but so long as we can kick back and relax with friends, get paid enough to put a roof over our heads and feel safe, we’ll be okay. Right?

That’s how ‘Hope’ begins. Three ordinary people – Lita, Kendall and Nick -sharing a flat and pretty much living the life most of us would recognize today. All three have jobs, but none of the jobs pay enough for them to live alone. Kendall works for Zest, a subsidiary of one of the largest corporations in the world. Lita and Nick are online influencers who earn enough from advertising to pay their way.
And then Kendall loses her job because she’s a size 16 and being too plump is not a good look for a company that sells health food.

The downward spiral that begins with Kendal quickly accelerates until suddenly the three flatmates can no longer afford the rent. Losing their little home is traumatic, but worse is to come – couch surfing followed by homeless shelters followed by a night in a church. And suddenly, the only option left to move to one of the Hope Villages set up by the state, and run by the same corporation that seems to run everything else in the UK.

I’ll be honest, at about this point, my sense of impending doom was so visceral I almost put the Kindle down. This is horror of a very plausible kind as the author weaves the story in such a realistic way that we can all see ourselves, or someone we know, in the plight of the characters. I’m ‘safe’, but someone I went to school with is now living in a boarding house, an older woman on her own with few resources – a statistic.

I can’t tell you what happens to Lita, Kendall and Nick, but I will say that there is some real hope as they begin to fight back against the system.

Would I recommend ‘Hope’ to other readers? You bet. With bells on. Terry Tyler’s ‘Hope’ may be one of the scariest books I’ve ever read, but it’s also one of the BEST books I’ve ever read. It challenges my mind and my emotions, stripping away the comfortable complacency that cocoons me from the real world. I may just want to live my life, but sometimes that life has to be earned. Sometimes we have to say ‘no’ to a system that treats people like animals that can be…culled.

Our world has not yet devolved into the nightmare of Terry Tyler’s Hope, but it’s heading in that direction. That is what’s so scary. ‘Hope’ is a story that should be read by every person who wants to keep kicking back with friends and feeling safe.’

‘Hope’ costs a ridiculous 70c. It was the best 70c I’ve ever spent. My thanks to D.Wallace Peach for introducing me to this fabulous story.

cheers,
Meeks


Getting close…

Still some things to tweak, but the graphic is starting to feel more alive. Night all. 🙂


A work in progress

Getting that hand to look as if it’s actually gripping the Tukti has been hard, and I’m not really happy with it yet. But…it’s getting there.

cheers,
Meeks


Ta Dah… a Tukti

I don’t have time for the post I’d planned so for now I’ll just show you the Tukti, complete with legs. 🙂

I’ll show more in the next post.

cheers,
Meeks


Progress report

I’ve been doing a lot of graphics lately. It seems to be the only creative activity I can focus on with all the craziness in the world, so here are the latest concept images of the iVokh:

These two images will never grace the cover of a book, but they have clarified a number of simple mechanical issues for me. One of them is that when the primary arms are held up above the head, the legs have to be a little bit apart otherwise there is not enough ‘give’ in the wings.

I would very much like to create an image of the iVokh flying, but I know that will be a major project so instead I’m working on creating a digital ‘collage’ of the Tukti. They’re cute little critters and have an important role to play in the on-going story of Vokhtah.

This is the original concept drawing:

And this is how far I’ve got in translating that concept into a more photo-realistic, 3D image:

Creating something that looks ‘furry’ with vector graphics has been a lot harder than I originally thought. Read…I didn’t think. Anyway, I’m pleased with how the head and body finally turned out, and once I have the legs done, I’ll do a post showing a little bit of the process. As per usual, I create my digital collages with Corel Draw X8.

Hope you’re all having a great weekend,

cheers,
Meeks


Another win for Innerscape – real surgical robots

This is the Mako Stryker:

https://www.stryker.com/us/en/portfolios/orthopaedics/joint-replacement/mako-robotic-arm-assisted-surgery.html

I just stumbled across the Mayo Stryker in an article about ’12 Medical Miracle Technologies’ on Medium. All twelve will save countless lives, but this one made my heart skip a beat:

https://medium.com/predict/12-medical-miracle-technologies-to-watch-23e9b7b6ec52

Those of you who’ve read the first book of the trilogy – Miira – may remember the scene in which an autonomous AI controlled robot pares Miira’s body back to the bits that still work. The process is overseen by a team of surgeons who never touch the patient at all.

That scene was more or less in its finished version by May, 2015.

I don’t have a crystal ball, nor do I have the kind of expert knowledge that results in a breakthrough like the Mayo Stryker, but I am a problem solver, and it seems that my theoretical, fictional solution was logical enough to become real.

Before I get too fat a head, however, I have to acknowledge how much I get absolutely wrong, starting with the speed of development. I think a great many of these logical solutions will become reality decades before I thought they would. Ah well… I’ll take my wins where I find them. 🙂

cheers,
Meeks


When one thing leads to another…

I bought a super dooper video editor from a trusted brand, and it’s turned into my bête noire. But I paid for it, right? So I set about learning it and finding workarounds for its…idiosyncracies.

To learn the features I most needed to use, I began a project in which I had to weave bits of video with still photos that I could pan and zoom. How in heck can a simple zoom be so hard? But I digress. One of the still photos I wanted to use was a pic of an iVokh except…you guessed it. The more I looked at that pic in unfamiliar surroundings, the less ‘right’ it looked.

The perspective was the problem. 😦 For reasons known only to my subconscious, I began work on the iVokh body from a three-quarter perspective. At that kind of angle, the bits furthest from your line of sight appear smaller. Or at least, they’re meant to.

Now, I don’t know about you, my friends, but I tend to create images by feel. I keep tweaking them until they feel right. The one thing I don’t do is set up a vanishing point with lines to show where the tricky bits are meant to go.

Sadly, there’s a first time for everything:

So I managed to get the perspective more or less right, but then I faced another huge problem – how to represent light and shade. In the previous iteration of the iVokh, I’d cobbled together scraps of images to get both the texture and lighting effects I needed to create something approaching 3D. Now I had to do most of that again.

Digital collage is complicated by the fact that every piece has to blend in to the pieces around it. Trust me, that’s hard because even in what amounts to black and white, there are almost infinite shades of grey:

There’s no real explanation for what happened next though. Once I had all the shades of grey playing nicely, I thought, “Hmm…maybe it’s time to finally create the cilia!” So I did:

I did hunt for images I could use for ‘cilia’…

…but none of them worked, so I ended up creating a vector ‘cilia’ that I could resize, deform, and orient however I pleased. One by one….

I must admit I’m rather proud of the cilia I created. When your alien doesn’t have eyebrows to frown with, or nostrils to flare, or a mouth that smiles, smirks [hate that word], pouts, and droops etc., you really need some way of describing emotive facial expressions, so the cilia do a heck of a lot of work. Kahti peers through the ‘fringe of its cilia’, and sometimes its cilia ‘go rigid with dread’ or shrink, or droop, or wave around… You get the idea. 🙂

Oh, and while I was at it, I realised that the image needed to tell a story, so I changed the figure’s posture and gave it a starrock bead to stare at. Oddly enough, the bead and its leather thong were the easiest objects to create:

An acolyte’s starrock bead with a slight pinkish tinge

In the story, only metal objects made in the south of Vokhtah have a pinkish colour. This becomes a rather important plot point so I added the bead to the image as well.

The one thing I have not done is finish that video. Maybe tomorrow. 😀

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


Yes! Natural ‘soap’ from the Yucca plant

Huge thanks to Carol from Carol Cooks 2 for her wonderful post on all things ‘soap’. One of the fascinating titbits in her post was this video about soap in the desert:

Why am I so chuffed to discover the Yucca root soap?

Because in Vokhtah [book 2], I mention something called ‘soapweed’. It’s a root that’s used for washing when water and sand are not enough. Discovering that there really is such a root is fantastic. -dance-

And as an added extra, the yucca grows in a dry, arid environment, which is almost exactly like Vokhtah. Simply could not get better. 🙂

cheers,
Meeks


The Grand Hall of the Settlement

I’ve been playing with digital ‘collage’ for days now, and the image below comes close to what I see in my head:

It’s not perfect but I did manage to create the ‘ramp’ which features in book 2. This ramp has been in my head for years :

‘A moment later, all thought of Vokh politics fled Kahti’s mind as the tunnel opened out into a cavern of mammoth proportions. Glowworms placed at regular intervals revealed a number of passages leading out of the cavern, but the young Trader could not take its eyes from the huge ramp that snaked around half of the cavern before disappearing through an arched opening near the roof.’

From the second book of Vokhtah, title still up in the air.

All of the scraps of texture and shape [65] that went into the final, composite image were manipulated in Corel Draw 8. No idea what I’ll do with the image, but it will be handy as a reference if nothing else. Just relieved it’s done.

cheers
Meeks


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