Month: October 2014

Books, flying through short stories

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So, I’m still reading primarily warhammer stuff from black library, but had a break from the novels to get through hammer and bolter volume two. I haven’t finished, as I have now moved onto a novel, but some of the stories so far have been quite good

reparation by andy smilie 40k
This one had a space wolf in a dark eldar gladiatorial cell. I didn’t think I’d like it, but once the dark angels had been introduced it picked up with some good grudging respect yet distrust between the two characters

dead calm by josh Reynolds fantasy
Pirates, knights, vampires, zombies, magic, swords. This was a decent story that covered all bases. I do like small numbers of participants, but this ended up making the few humans overly powerful in the face of the undead

lesser evils by tom foster 40k
Another small team insertion as four humans enter a sisters of battle monastery. Spoiler alert- none died. The action was good, but the survival was just a little too inconvenient.

hunters by braden campbell 40k
Catachans versus tau. This was interesting, it jumped an hour or so forward and backward from it’s primary timeline. I don’t think it gained anything from doing so, but it did distract a little from assuming there was a twist coming. Oh and it was a small team insertion in which people died.

the tileans talisman by david guymer fantasy
A short gotrek and felix story from the eyes of a skaven clanrat. At least as long as the clanrat can stay alive….
Yeah it was quite fun to see a different perspective, without losing the key elements of a gotrek and felix story

in the shadow of the emperor by chris dows 40k
A fleet get hit by a space hulk as it smashes out of the warp. Survivors land on the nearest planet closely followed by the orks from the hulk. Fairly standard story, with a commissar who wants to kill the captain adding additional plotlines, but with the commissar acting a little out of character.

torment by Anthony Reynolds 40k
A close look at the procedure behind interring the remains of a space marine into a dreadnought, with the twist being the space marine is a devotee of chaos and not remains, just being cruelly tortured. Oh and the chaos elements inside the chosen warrior are less than keen

the pact by s p cawkwell 40k
The silver skulls space marines return to their long abandoned home world to find eldar fighting nurgle daemons. They are forced to ally to win. A fairly standard story again, with heavy emphasis placed on the imperiums resistance to the greater good of the galaxy over working alone.

I’ll leave it there, part 2 coming soon…

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Mr Led Zep

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So, another pub observation.

Mr Led Zep.
That’s not his name of course. Nobody knows his name, Mr Led Zep they call him. Not to his face of course, there all just too embarrassed to tell him they don’t know his name.
He’s been drinking here for years, they just don’t know his name.
Mr Led Zep they whisper- still wearing that old red t-shirt.
Mr Led Zep they say- still wearing those tiny shorts.
Mr Led Zep they call- he’ll have his coins.
Mr Led Zep they whisper- still wearing that battered blue cap.
Mr Led Xep they say- he’ll have his pint.
Mr Led Zep they point- still hasn’t had a hair cut.

As he selects his songs- the same song every night.
Two pounds in the machine
sip
Led zeppelin- whole lotta love
sip sip
Iron maiden- run to the hills
sip sip sip
AC/DC- whole lotta Rosie
sip sip sip sip
Guns and roses- night train
sip sip sip sip sip
Cyndi Lauper- true colours.
gulp gulp gulp

Nobody knows why the fifth, nobodies ever asked. They play along of course
“Good choices”
“Awesome”
“Yeah man”

Five songs over and he makes his way out the door
“There goes Mr Led Zep”
“Same bloody songs”
“Can’t he get a haircut”
“Can’t he get new clothes”
“Can’t he play something else”
“Why that last song”
Nobody knows him
He’s a laughing stock.

Another good night at the pub he thinks, crashing onto his worn old sofa. It’s been another long day.
Sitting up he catches sight of her picture.
Her.
The love of his life. The pain as fresh as the day…
The wedding day.
Married, happy.
His choice of DJ, her choice of first dance.
Last dance
Only dance
Her choice of song- he’d laughed.
He loved her, she got her way.
She always got her way, she was perfect.
Until the drive to the airport.
Sideswiped
The car flipped
The ‘irony’ of the protective barrier crushing the life from her chest.

Every day since he’d done his days work, earning his money, enough to pay his small flat. Change left over for a couple of pints and a few songs on the jukebox. Four of his, one of hers. Of theirs.
Every day he thought of ending it, of joining her.
When he was truly alone that’s exactly what he would do.
In the meantime he still had his friends in the pub.

Life, going to university

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So, after making the decision not to apply for university straight from school, I changed my mind and went for it.
I hadn’t applied because I was fed up with the constant pressure to do so, from school primarily but also from my father (more on him one day perhaps). I was fed up with the constant assertion that without a degree you’d never get a real job, and with a degree you’d automatically get a graduate job. What a load of crap, it ended up feeling like a challenge. So I didn’t apply and went on with my life.
Then one day I woke up, decided to apply for university and applied that week. A day later I was accepted and I was left with six months to plan for it. I had been accepted first time to The University of Wales, Cardiff on a Retail Management degree. The choice was based on my few years with tesco and it was an easy option for a business degree. My alternate was teaching, but without experience I just felt like too much trouble.
I was ready to move on and do with one small problem, a girlfriend with whom I’d been with some time. We had had a decent enough relationship, it never felt fully right to be honest, there were trust issues on both sides (unfounded regarding me) but we would probably have plodded along for a few more years before suddenly ending or having a child. She suggested moving to Cardiff with me at which point it dawned on me that she was a part of the life I’d applied to move on from. So heartless as it sounds she had to go.
Cue me working all the hours I could until September when I could move to my university hall. Wow, what a crappy room. It was big to be fair, but lacking in any warmth or character or anything else. It was a strange moment moving in, my parents took me in and left, and whilst they were walking round the building to the car I was in my room having a thirty second panic that actually this wasn’t the smart thing to do, it passed and I was left to it.
All of my sudden I was forced to be sociable- I had two choices 1 do what I always do and bide my time until I made friends or 2 break the habit of a lifetime and make an effort. Well, new country new life, I made an effort. This consisted of attending every freshers event, night out, induction etc etc etc in the effort of making friends. It had some small success, my Facebook friend list skyrocketed, but friends didn’t come. Two week later on day one of my course I meet gas (mentioned before) and the rest of the friend stories will come another time, but I was right, I should have done what I do best.

A small additional note, I was working for tesco and had applied for a transfer for the money. I was offered three hours a week, every Sunday at a store 3 buses and 90 minutes away, or a 2 hour walk. Fantastic in a place as wet and damp as Cardiff. Honestly, looking back I wish I’d accepted it, the inconvenience for 12 months would have been fixed a year later when I lived a 15 minute walk away, but such is the sacrifice I made to my financial power at the time.

Life, a sober month

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So, don’t get excited, I didn’t have a sober month- let’s not get carried away. But I did go through my longest period without drinking in probably some years (pre university).
At the start of the month I bought a crate of beer, within a week it was gone and so I agreed to not buy any more beer until the end of the month.

Did I manage?

Strictly speaking no. Over the next three weeks I had a glass of red wine, a craft beer at a food festival and well actually that’s it.
Quite good going

Was it easy?

Yes and no.
Yes, because there wasn’t really any urge to have more- aside from when I saw it in the shop and time like that.
No, because I was quite aware that were I alone I wouldn’t have managed it.

That’s not to say my family ‘got me through’ anything, just that I was scared of my partner kicking my ass. That’s not really fair, in reality she simply serves as a small reminder that I had pledged not to drink. She’s also very scary.
It’s strange, whilst I felt no urge to drink (though I’d have liked to) it was always there
– I could drink
– I’d like a drink
– I want to drink

But at no point did I ‘need’ to drink.
So it wasn’t some big learning experience, I simply experienced more proof that I don’t want to stop, and I probably couldn’t. However, drinking a crate in a week is well beyond a sensible amount. It’s too much, I’m not a carefree student anymore.
This week I bought another crate. It’s the 3rd today and the case isn’t yet open, so the chances of it being gone by the 7th are slim. But I also fully intend to ration myself.
No, not ration- that suggests a specific limit. But I will not buy any more beer this month. So if I drink it, it’s gone.

Now, of course I’m in the pub right now so I’m drinking beer. Were I at home the crate would likely be open and I’d have a few drinks.

Where does that leave me?

Life, things to say

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So, it’s not writers block. I’m not blocked. Iv got months worth of posts scheduled; all noted and ready to actually write, but I keep having to push their publishing dates forward.
It’s not writers block, but it’s about the same. I think what was initially a really good way of noting things down and venting has joined most of the rest of my life in the ‘rut’ category.
Easy then, hop out and get on with things, make things happen. If it were that easy then I’d be bouncing like a power ball. Instead I just can’t quite drag myself out of it. Theoretically things are better- I’m getting out more, I’m doing things, I’m trying to be happier but still I just can’t shake off the malaise that’s set in.
It’s touch because despite the increased effort I’m not reaping any real benefit, I’m just getting more exhausted and demoralised as I can’t pick myself up.

Ooh, clichés.
Stuck in a rut
Pick myself up
Shake it off
Etc etc etc

Still, I just can’t ‘shake’ (another) it off. For this reason I just this week put in my application for counselling. Now, having read the leaflet I don’t think it’s for me; lots of ‘action plans’ ‘identifying stress’ etc but it’s the thought that counts (cliché). At least I hope so because my positive attitude certainly isn’t in attendance.
The calls due in this week and I plan to tell them the course sounds stupid. Or rather I won’t and I’ll allow myself to be signed up to it.

Then we’ll see what happens…

Books, an update follow up

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So, given the amount of black library books I’d read recently I picked up something different from my huge pile, blott on the landscape by tom sharpe.
When I bought it the charity shop worked commented on enjoying them years ago, and several people have said similar since.

Well I read a quarter fairly quickly and have given up. It’s just not very exciting. Ordinarily if I start a book I finish, or occasionally put it down and go back to it, but this time I just can’t bear the thought of reading any more pages further.
The story started fairly well to be honest, a less than scrupulous man looking to sell his wife’s house to cash in, whilst pretending to be the good guy, but it never moved beyond that and I no longer care how successful he is in his plan.

I’d hope it’s an age related issue, the books forty years old and satire has moved on, and whilst I understood the humour it just didn’t ring as being particularly relevant or interesting to me.

For now the book will return to my pile, just in case. In the meantime I need to decide what to read instead, and currently it’s only warhammer books that are grabbing my attention…

Books, an update on my reading

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So, I haven’t don’t a book post in a while, I didn’t get round to one after reading and had moved on before I caught up, so here’s an update on the books Iv been reading

planetkill

I may have covered this one already, I can’t remember, but it’s a collection of short stories from black library and warhammer 40k of planets being destroyed by war. As with many of the older compilations of stories that black library have churned out it’s a bit hit and miss, but it covers a good range of subjects from imperial armies being sacrificed in a retreat to the life of a planet moving through the eye of terror and suffering for it.
My highlight of the book was mercy run by steve parker because it acts essentially as a prologue for gunheads which was one of my favourite imperial guard books

yarrick imperial creed by david Annandale

A year ago there was a short story released about commissar yarrick which was to lead into the end times Armageddon battle, this is in the same series but set in yarricks distant past when he was a junior commissar. The story actually was really enjoyable, with good twists and a constant stream of battle. My only real issue was that it could have been the start of a new commissars story, the use of yarrick himself was somewhere between pointless and a way to guarantee people would buy it. But there was a nice touch as yarrick got a vision of future injuries he would suffer at the hands of a certain ork war boss

commissar by andy hoare

Fresh from my enjoyment of the yarrick book I moved straight onto a new commissar (which is what I had felt would have been a good idea with the yarrick book anyway) and I ended up a bit deflated. The stories good, the plot works nicely and the focus on a small infiltration team as opposed to a full army was a nice change of pace, however the commissar in question seemed to be in far more of a command role than a commissar. Now, I have no issue with this, the commissar is a leader, but I would have wanted more focus on the morale boosting (and skull blasting executions) than just another pretty intelligent imperial commander

tales of the old world part 1 tales of honour and heroism

After so much 40k I needed a change of pace, so read some warhammer fantasy short stories. I picked up the short story book and read the first section. Lots of bretonnians and empire heroes fighting an ‘honourable’ war against foes that aren’t honourable. Yeah, it doesn’t work all that well. I stopped after this section of the book a little bored of the predictable plotlines- honourable knight, fooled by dishonourable foe, works it out, wins, has a new approach to being honourable.

salvations reach by dan abnett

I love gaunts ghosts. Everyone loves gaunts ghosts. Iv yet to meet anyone that has read them and not enjoyed them. They would also admit the series has it’s ups and downs and that the constant reinforcement of a wiped out force at the start of every book gets a little dull. It’s realistic of course, that’s how the imperial guard work. But at the same time the characters we’re used to linger on against insurmountable odds over and again. But still the series is fantastic. This one however felt as though it has gone on a little too long. I believe it’s almost over, with one more planned book next year, but still, by this point the main characters are ageing, and it’s getting a bit too much for them to survive. It’s also a little bit too heavy on the introduction of new characters that later die, like red shirts gone made. However, it was an enjoyable read, the space marines inclusion worried me, but it was kept subtle and small so the human element remained the focus. It was also nice for dan abnett to use an iron snake (a chapter he wrote back when black library was in it’s infancy). This one was enough to make me excited for warmaster to finish the series at least

the blood price and the daemons curse by dan abnett and mike lee

Back to fantasy with malus darkblade, I read the blood price, essentially a prologue first, which was entertaining as a short read but didn’t establish any differences between dark elves and humans, but it did introduce characters that were key to the first real book the daemons curse. This was better, whilst it still didn’t highlight any real differences between humans and dark elves it did at least highlight the political differences, with a focus on a constant internal war between powerful factions. It then led to a long adventure through the chaos wastes before malus was cursed by a daemon and took on a beastman army. Again, the differences between beastmen, humans and dark elves were solely physical, with no difference really created. Additionally I was a little disappointed that malus seemed to take a constant beating, with his body being close to death on numerous occasions before recovering enough for another key challenge which he’d win whilst coming close to death. Maybe dark elves have incredible healing powers, but it felt a little overdone.
The problem I guess is the use of a small force up against the occupants of the chaos wastes (an effectively infinite force), you end up in constant danger but have to survive, without being unbeatable, and so your main character gets hurt constantly but somehow doesn’t die.
Overall the book was enjoyable, but I hope for more when I get onto the next one.

My next read will likely not be a black library novel, though gotrek and felix and ravenor are also appealing to me at the moment